Tag Archives: Love

Self-love As a Path to Loving More

The Self-Love Tree poster, by Christine Arylo

From Christine Arylo’s Madly in Love with ME

Happy Self-Love Day!

My friend Christine Arylo, author of Madly in Love with ME: The Daring Adventure of Becoming Your Own Best Friend, has declared Feb. 13 to be the International Day of Self-Love. You can read more about it, and download her free Self-Love Kit here.

In her self-love kit, she challenges each of us to choose a branch of the self-love tree, and focus on that for the next year.  They’re all good categories, so it’s hard to choose!

  • Self Acceptance
  • Self Care
  • Self Compassion & Forgiveness
  • Self Empowerment
  • Self Esteem
  • Self Expression
  • Self Honor & Self Respect
  • Self Pleasure
  • Self Trust
  • Self Worth
  • Self-Awareness & Self Honesty

For me personally, I’m constantly in need of extra work on Self-Compassion and Self-Forgiveness (I’m going to commit to forgiving myself for needing to work on forgiving myself more! *chuckle*.)  And she’s spot on when she lists “self-worth” as the root of the whole tree.

In terms of the title of this post, however, I’m going to go out on a limb (ha ha!) and say that for the purposes of loving yourself as part of loving more (whether that’s through polyamory or any other “outside the box” path), that Self-Awareness and Self-Honesty are key. If you don’t know yourself, and understand your own needs, it’s hard for you to truly understand the needs of another.  And of course honesty is a crucial cornerstone of any polyamorous relationship… and honesty with others begins with honesty with yourself.

Being honest here, I’m behind in posting this message, and so many of you will not see it till tomorrow. That’s ok. (See how I forgave myself there? ;)) You can still check out her book on Amazon, download the free kit, and get a lot of good out of working on loving yourself, whether that’s today, tomorrow, or at any point during the year. And tomorrow, you can share it all with those you love…  whether that’s one other, many others …  or just you. After all, don’t you deserve to give yourself a Valentine’s Day gift, too? 😉

With much LOVE to all,

~♥ Dawn

PS:  It’s still not too late to take advantage of my Valentine’s coaching specials! I’m happy to help you in whatever way you need, in your path to loving more, whether that’s through guided visualizations to support your self-love, or by helping you craft personalized Agreements with others.  Let me know how I can help YOU create your own best life and loves!

PPS: See you at the  Academic Poly Conference in Berkeley, CA, this weekend (February 15-17)? I’ll be there!

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

 

RISK Motivational Poster

The Time for Love is NOW

This has been a hard week. I am surrounded by loss, impending and tangible. The impending loss is of a personal nature, and involves me facing my own mortality in the mirror of my parents.  The already-tangible loss involves several deaths I’ve heard of so far in the last few days.  In particular, the loss of community members Brian Baker and Adam Griffiths has hit many of us very hard. Adam was not someone I knew well, but Brian was a friend and colleague. He will be sorely missed, and many of us are grieving this week, for both of them.

These losses and changes bring up fears. Fears of my own mental and emotional stabilities, for instance.  Will I, like my grandmother and my mother, also face the gradual eroding of my self and my memories? Will it change my personality, or render me incapable of self-care? Even if that’s not my fate, I might have something happen to me (as with my father) that takes some portion of who I am, and leaves me permanently altered. How would I handle that?  Would I still be ME? And even if THAT doesn’t happen… we never know how many days are left to us, as is so clear in the passing of these incredibly vital friends, taken “at their peak,” as many shared at a memorial gathering the other night.

We never know what will happen. For me, this stirs up thoughts about risk and safety. Far from driving me to take fewer risks, it tends to make me feel guilty for NOT having taken MORE, for not having been bolder and stronger, for not having gotten my work out sooner. I try to be gentle with myself (it’s a lot of grief, and a lot to process, after all), at the same time I’m feeling driven ahead by this sense of urgency.

I wrote this to someone privately today:

“Safety” is an illusion, ultimately. It’s a FEELING within ourselves. We
have control over our decisions to proceed, in spite of or considering
risks. Choosing a lower risk activity or course doesn’t not, however,
generally mean NO risk… and therefore may still result in “unsafety.”
There are no guarantees in life, no matter how “safe” one tries to be.

A common motivational poster says:

RISK Motivational Poster

“A ship in a harbor is safe… but that’s not what ships are for.”

Being wholly and fully alive, living your purpose in every moment …
that is, in my opinion, far better than attempting to play it safe, and
ending your life unfulfilled. I honor and cherish your goal to use good
accomplishments to fuel your desire for a positive world.

So mote it be. 🙂

Love is also a risk.

It’s a risk to dare to connect with others, when we don’t know the outcome. It’s a risk to love in the face of rejection.  It’s a risk to love in our own way, despite the real potential for stigma or censure.  But thing is…

We never know if there will be a tomorrow.

So I’m urging you now, my friends, my family, my colleagues, and all you relationship explorers out there (whether I’ve met you yet or not):  Take your relationSHIP out of the harbor. Even if it scares you, even if you don’t know how it could possibly succeed, even if you are afraid of failing, or that someone might hate you for who or how many you love.  Take the risk.  Love boldly.

Tell everyone you love how much they mean to you. Pick up the phone, write an email, go into the next room and give them a hug. Send an old-fashioned letter!  Even if your relationship is strained, if you can, try to imagine how you might feel if suddenly, tomorrow, they were gone, and your words of love were left unsaid. Would you regret it? Then speak love to them, now. Loving someone doesn’t necessarily mean approving of everything they do, by the way. Sometimes loving someone is an act of will! or an exercise in choosing your words carefully. :^) But if that feeling is there (even a tiny bit), then in my opinion it’s worth sharing, now, in this moment… because now is the only time we have.

The time for love is NOW.

Dawn

PS: I love you. :^)

polyamory pride march banner

Poly Proliferation: Books, Conferences, and More!

polyamory pride march bannerPolyamory is certainly gaining in awareness!  Mentions in the media are off the charts, compared with 6-8 years ago. Showtime’s series about Polyamory has been renewed for a second season. Books about polyamory are proliferating. And conferences, formerly limited to just a few US-national conferences, are springing up all over.

If you’re interested in meeting other like-minded folks, perhaps taking some workshops, or hearing some speakers, and having fun at events during or alongside the conference, you may want to consider attending one of the upcoming conferences.  At the bottom of this post, I’ve included a little more information on just a few of the many that are coming up in the next half-year (in order on the calendar). Check ’em out!

(By the way, I’ll be presenting at the Academic conference on Feb 16th. I won’t be in the Academic track (since I don’t have Academic research to present), but instead I’ll be in the parallel Session B: Educational/Experiential Presentations. I’ll be presenting a very short segment — conference coordinator Dave Doleshal has asked for 30 minutes max! — about making Agreements, drawn from the material you can find serialized here in my Agreements Workbook entries.  I’m planning to have some form of the book ready for sale at that conference, so if you want it hot off the presses, you might want to consider attending!)

Want something smaller than a national conference?  Maybe you’d like to find a local group meeting? Check out the section on Groups and Events in my Resources page, or go directly to this awesome group-finder gadget on ModernPoly.com, and see what options there are for finding a group near you!

And remember: No matter where you are, and no matter whom and how many you love:  Love is always OK!

~♥ Dawn

PS:  Did you miss Reid Mihalko’s awesome Relationship10x Webinar in December?  Good news!  You can still watch it!  Register here, and you’ll get access to all of his Relationship10x free informational videos, AND the free webinar! You can start the series at any time. Why not now? 🙂

PPS:  I’m an affiliate of Reid’s, so if you choose to purchase anything from that link, I’ll get a cut.  But I trust that you are capable of doing your own due diligence, and making sure that whatever you invest in is going to be of benefit to YOU. I think Reid’s awesome, and I think you will too. 🙂

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

 

 
Poly Living 2013 banner

Poly Living in Philadelphia, Feb. 8-10, 2013

Since 2005 when George Marvil hosted the first Poly Living Conference in Philadelphia, it has been the best place to warm up your winter with fun, learning and polyamory community. Whether you are new to polyamory and wanting to find out more, a professional interested in helping clients or an experienced poly person looking to have fun with old friends, Poly Living is a great place to learn, explore and connect with real people.

Photo of Poly Living Attendees
Poly Living Attendees
 [Dawn sez:  I’ve been to Poly Living when it was in Seattle. It was a great conference there, and I’ve heard that the Philadelphia location is even better!]

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International Academic Polyamory Conference

Feb 15-17, 2013, in Berkeley, California, USA.

This conference will explore issues related to monogamous and nonmonogamous relationships from an interdisciplinary perspective. This event will be devoted to presentations of scientific and academic research related to polyamory, open relationships, “swinging,” other forms of consensual nonmonogamy and related subjects.  The conference does not take a position on whether consensual nonmonogamy is “good” or “bad,” or whether any particular type of nonmonogamous relationship is healthy or pathological. The intention of the event is explore the subject in as objective and unbiased a manner as possible. Presentations will cover various topics that offer some possible progress to a deeper and more complete understanding of the phenomenon of consensual non-monogamy.

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Atlanta Poly, Inc Logo

March 15-17, 2013
[This is the] third year of Atlanta Poly Weekend.  This conference is designed to further the education and advancement of poly friendly lifestyle choices in our community.  We aim to bring in the foremost speakers in our lifestyle to educate poly friendly community on matters regarding the family, the law, and social interactions and justice for those in our poly communities.

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CPAA logo

Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association logo

The Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association is pleased to present
PolyCon – Claiming Our Right to Love

May 31 to June 2, 2013
in Vancouver, BC

Friday night reception.
Saturday all day workshop sessions and evening events hosted by local poly groups.
Sunday AGM for CPAA membership and poly community leadership networking event.

Forgiveness in the New Year

Happy New Year! I hope your Holidays have been happy and warm, and full of love and joy!

My friend and colleague Francesca Gentille wrote a great post recently that I’d like to share with you, about Chapman’s The Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in all Your Relationships“.

I’ve written before about Chapman’s work, which I find very useful. His 5 Languages of Love is one of my favorite tools. [Sadly, Chapman’s publisher has asked me to remove the link to my gender-free 5 Love Languages Quiz (claiming copyright issues; I disagree but don’t have the resources to fight it), but if you write me privately I’ll send you a pdf version. In the meantime, you can find a link to their gendered official version here: http://blog.loveoutsidethebox.com/?page_id=199]

In addition to the 5 Love Languages Quiz, Chapman’s site includes another quick quiz to determine which Apology Language most resonates for you. As I said in the comments to my previous post about the Apology Languages, I think that trying to describe 5 Apology Languages (to be analogous to Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages) is stretching the metaphor a bit.  Still, I think the model is helpful food for thought.

Like Francesca, I think that practicing the art of forgiveness is an essential skill in relationships. Being able to “let go” of past hurts is essential to moving forward into the new year (or at any time) with grace and ease. In particular holding on to grudges and allowing yourself to stay in resentment is actively toxic to relationships (if you want to know more, there’s a link to one of John Gottman’s videos about resentment my post on Agreements Tip #4.)  I hope you enjoy reading Francesca’s post (below), and find the 5 Apology Languages a useful tool.

May you always love boldly, safely, and well!

~♥ Dawn

PS: Remember too that Reid Mihalko has a brand new series out to improve your relationships 10x in only 10 minutes a day.  You can watch a recording of last week’s Free Webinar by clicking here. And his 6 week program has only just started, so if you’re up for it, you can still hop on the bandwagon!

PPS: Want some 1:1 time with me? I’ve still got room for a couple more individual clients.  I’m happy to do a free 30 minute consultation, or a 1/2 price introductory hour! Contact me to set up a time to chat!

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

Continue reading

Relationship 10x by Reid Mihalko

Relationship Tuneups: FREE Webinar with Reid, PLUS Dawn’s Coaching SALE

Relationship 10x by Reid Mihalko

Hey everyone!  I’m in Memphis, visiting my family. Mostly we’ve done ok so far, despite some of the usual communication challenges.  After all, they say your family knows just how to push your buttons… because they installed them!! If you’re having something like that experience as well, you might want to check out this free Relationship10x video from Reid Mihalko [TOMORROW December 27th at 8:30pm EST/5:30Pacific]. He’s got some great tips for better relationships, including not only your romantic relationships, but also the ones with your family. You can read lots more about the webinar below!

Don’t forget, too, that I’m still running some specials on my own 1:1 coaching. Call (510-686-3386) or email me to take advantage of my coaching package deal ($100 off of 4 hours of individual coaching), before I raise my rates on January 1st Not sure? Drop me a line and we’ll set up a time to do a free 30 minute consultation. In that thirty minutes, I’ll help you get clear on your next steps, as well as to send you my Jealousy Judo handout, just for spending the time with me. Whether you end up working with me, taking advantage of Reid’s snazzy new program, or something else, I’m committed to you getting what you need to create your own best life and relationships!

Hope your holidays are filled with all the love you want and need (and your relatives aren’t driving you TOO crazy! ;^)

~♥ Dawn

PS: I’m an affiliate of Reid’s, so if you choose to purchase something from him, I’ll get a percentage.  I never recommend anything I don’t think is truly worth your time and money, however, and Reid (and this program) is certainly no exception.  I wish I’d known some of his information YEARS ago! Check it out!

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How To Smoothly Relieve Conflict, Add Ease, and Invite Fun in Your Relationships While Juggling a Busy Life, Job, and Family
with Reid Mihalko of Relationship10x
December 27th at 8:30pm EST

Is your relationship out of tune? Are you feeling all the bumps and dips this holiday season?

Want to “pull over” and fix it, but you just can’t find the time?

It’s amazing how small changes in the right places can make the ride SO much nicer! If you could clear up that background buzz on the radio, restock the wiper fluid, and get the heater working in your car, the trip could go from annoying and wearing to enjoyable and relaxing! But when you’re juggling a busy life, it’s next to impossible to find the time, so you grin and bare it till the car breaks down and you HAVE TO.

The same is true for relationships. You may be out of alignment. Some old issues might be creating a lot of resentment and background noise, you may not be seeing everything clearly, and it may be getting pretty frosty… even downright frigid in the bedroom, but we grin and bare it with the best of intentions… Until it all explodes. And then it’s often too late to salvage anything and we scap the entire thing!

It doesn’t have to be that way. Ask yourself, Isn’t it time for a Relationship Tune-Up?

Why not exit 2012 and pull into 2013 with a smoother “relationship ride”…

If you’d like to learn how to warm things up and create more ease and laughter in your relationships, join Reid Mihalko, founder of Relationship10x, for an hour of easy to impliment and practical upgrades. You’ll love Reid’s humor and down-to-earth approach as he shares unexpected and powerful approaches that really work.

The best part is, the tools he teaches take very little time to use. In fact, you’ll find your life moving along with lots less friction and wear-and-tear!

On the call, Reid will cover:
– Three things you can do to lessen conflict in your day to day relationships (A.K.A. – What to do to get your partner to stop yelling at you!)
– Two common mistakes people make in their relationships that’s making them unnecessarily difficult.
– Why long term relationships are so difficult to keep “alive,” and the #1 thing you can do to reignite the feelings of passion, romance and FUN again!

PLUS: The difference between “erotic turn-on” and “sensual turn-on,” and how knowing the difference between the two can improve your bedroom experiences for all parties involved 10x!

If you’re tired of struggling along, feeling frustrated and lonely, spend an hour with Reid and discover the wonder of deep connection and authentic conversation. You deserve it. Your family deserves it. Give yourself this gift this holiday season and rediscover magic and delight in your relationships again.

Sign Up Now!
http://www.reidmihalko.com/link.php?af=1507864&u=www.relationship10x.com/fe/37693-r10-free-webinar

 

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2012 Dawn M. Davidson, except copy about Reid’s Webinar, which belongs to Reid!]

 

Heart equals OK

Love Is OK

Heart equals OK

Hi!  My name is Dawn Davidson, of LoveOutsideTheBox.com. I’m here to help polyamorous people and other relationship explorers to better connect to themselves and those they love, even if they’re feeling lost, alone, or like there’s something wrong with them for who and how they love.

Today I’m writing you a love letter of sorts.  It’s a love letter from my heart, to your heart, and the hearts of everyone you love.

I’m here today to tell you that love is OK.

“What?”  I can hear some of you saying, “Just OK?  Isn’t it better than that?”

Well, yes, of course, love is also wonderful, amazing, “all you need” and “what makes the world go ’round.”  I’m not disputing that!

Mostly though, what I’m here to say is that love is always OK.  No matter who and how many you love, no matter their gender, their body shape or size, their race or the color of their skin, their political affiliation, their talents and abilities, their spiritual or religious leanings, their education…

Love is ALWAYS OK.

All the rest? Honestly, those are just the details, the how and the why of your particular love.

Now, if you’re looking for help in those details — maybe around communication skills, or jealousy; maybe you need help making some Agreements, or you want to talk about how to talk about your new boyfriend to your existing girlfriend, or try to explain to your friend why you’d like to bring +2 instead of +1 to their next party — whatever those details, if you want help, I’m happy to listen. Once I’ve helped you figure out what your particular needs are, then I can offer you some coaching, some tools and resources, or point you in the direction of others who can help more. Whether you take me up on any of those offers is totally up to you, and we can talk about it in one of my free 1/2 hour consultations  if that’s what you want.

But it’s not what I’m really here about today.  Today I’m here to talk about the fact that Love is always OK. I’m guessing that if you’re alive and reading this now, that it’s a good bet that at some point in your life someone, somewhere, told you that there was something wrong about your love. Maybe you’ve been shamed for who and how you love, or told that it’s not ok to love more than one person at a time. Maybe someone else wants to put limits on your heart.  Maybe that someone is YOU! We’re often hardest on those closest to us… and that applies especially to ourselves in many cases. But whatever the reason, and whomever is speaking those words to you, I’m here to tell you that they’re wrong.  Love is always ok.

Now don’t get me wrong.  Sometimes it’s important to put limits on our behavior, or to moderate how we express those feelings. It isn’t ok to express love in a sexual way to someone for whom that would be toxic or damaging, for instance.  Nor is it ok to break existing Agreements (with your partner/s or yourself) just because you felt a chemical head rush in the heat of the moment. But there isn’t anything wrong with feeling love itself. That’s always ok.

Love is an amazing thing.  It can be a wild tempestuous journey, or a sweet, quiet smile between friends. It can make us feel the best and the worst that we ever feel in our lives. Love is often a teacher. Sometimes it’s a spiritual journey… or a crucible of change. We often don’t choose who and how we love, even though we can choose how and when to express that. But no matter what makes your love special, no matter how long or short that love is, no matter who and how many you love…

Love is always OK.  And so are YOU.

Thank you for sharing this moment with me today… this moment of love, and unconditional acceptance. Thank you for allowing me to share my heart with you, and for receiving my love. If you want to talk more with me about any of this, or if you’re interested in setting up a consultation session with me for any reason, you can fill out my contact form, and let me know how I can help you today.  Whoever you love, whatever forms that might take, or however many people you might love …

Love is OK.

And so are you. 🙂

 

May you always love boldly, safely, and well,

~♥ Dawn

PS: Want to talk more about this? I’m happy to listen! I offer coaching and counseling via phone, Skype, Google-hangout, or in person in the SF Bay Area. Drop me a note, and we’ll set up a time to talk, ok?  OK!

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2012 Dawn M. Davidson]

F

Poly As ID; Poly Living 2013; Harvard OKs Kink Club on Campus

Following on the discussions about polyamory as identity (or not): Dan Savage posted a few good comments from poly folk who believe that it’s possible to identify as poly and/or have poly as an orientation. Dan’s ability to take a step back and say “hey, I might be wrong here” is a big part of why many folks I know (me included) don’t just write him off altogether (despite some serious concerns about potential bigotry). Not sure he’s exactly saying that here, but at least he’s admitting that there might be another perspective, so that’s progress.

Poly Living 2013 banner

8th Annual Poly Living Conference, Feb 8-10, 2013

While I”m here, I’ll share the link to information about the upcoming Poly Living Conference in Philadelphia, February 8-10, 2013. They’ve got a great line-up of speakers, including a Keynote from Kamala Devi, lately one of the stars of the Showtime series “Polyamory: Married and Dating.”  Other presenters include Bay Area local Charles August, as well as a stellar line-up of presenters from around the country. Especially if you’re on the East Coast, you’ll want to consider attending this great conference.

And did you see the recent news from Harvard?  They’ve allowed an official Kink club on campus! I think this is great news for the wider world of alternative sexuality, and sex-positivity. For me, it begs the question, however, of whether polyamory is a “kink” at least for the purposes of this club?  What do you think?  Feel free to comment here, in private mail, or in my Facebook!

~♥ Dawn

PS:  Got Jealousy? Schedule a 1/2 hour free consultation with me, and get my Jealousy Judo pdf of tools to use to manage jealousy in yourself.  Because jealousy is no fun!

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[© 2012 Dawn M. Davidson]

I'm a Love Ambassador

Loving Yourself: The First Step in Loving More

I'm a Love Ambassador
Loving yourself is one of those foundational skills for loving others. This is especially true for polyamory, of course, where not loving yourself leads far too often to jealousy and other un-fun emotions. (You can see a little about my own journey toward self love in this blog post I wrote last winter.) Since I’m all about the Love, I couldn’t resist aligning myself with this new movement from Christine Arylo, author of the new book “Madly in Love with ME: The Daring Adventure of Becoming Your Own Best Friend. (I mean, I get to be a Love Ambassador — how cool is that??)

Here’s what Christine (via her marketing dept. ;^) has to say about the new book:

DARE TO FALL IN LOVE… with YOURSELF!

People are always saying, “Love yourself,” “Self-care is important,” “The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.” But what the heck does all this self-love talk really mean? And more importantly how do you actually ‘do’ it?

Christine Arylo, the founder of the international Day of Self Love (Feb 13th) just wrote this breakthrough book on self-love that takes you beyond the idea of valuing, loving and caring for yourself into daring acts that help you experience it. It’s called Madly in Love with ME: The Daring Adventure of Becoming Your Own Best Friend. It’s a must read!

It’s like this magical adventure into yourself… full of Daring Acts of Love, heart to heart conversations with yourself, a Self-Love Tree and more. It’s not just full of more information telling you how you should take care of yourself or put yourself first… it actually gives you permission to do and say the things a best friend would to you.

Big thumbs up!
GO here to learn more & Check out the book trailer at www.TheSelfLoveBook.com

What’s not to love about that?

Take some daring acts of love today — share love with yourself. You may find that more love comes back your way from others, as well as yourself!

~♥ Dawn

PS: I’m not an Affiliate of Christine’s (yet, anyway), but you need to do your own evaluation of whether an offer is right for you. And that said, it’s still true that I don’t recommend things that I think aren’t worth your while. Check it out, and use your brain as to whether it’s a good investment for you at this time. In full disclosure: if you click on any of the MinLwM book links, I’ll get a tiny percentage of any Amazon purchases you might make through that link in the next 24 hours (so do your holiday shopping while you’re at it, ok?? ;^)

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2012 Dawn M. Davidson]

YES written in a notebook in pen

21 Reasons to Be Yourself (and Other Thoughts on Identities)

“I’m speaking up for those who feel lost and alone, and who’ve been rejected by others for core pieces of their being, whether that’s paganism, poly, their bodies, kink, or whatever. I’m here to say “you are not alone,” and “you are fine, just the way you are,” and hand them some tools and roadmaps.”
— Dawn Davidson, Nov. 30, 2012

Over the past week and some I’ve been thinking a lot about the topic of Identity. Some of this thinking was, of course, spurred by Dan Savage and his post about how he doesn’t think that polyamory can be an identity. In his world, it’s just something you do, not something you are.  As discussed elsewhere, I disagree with him (though of course Your Mileage May Vary.)

But that’s not the only thing that has me thinking about Identity. See, there’s been a kerfluffle in my world that affects my recent ordination. It’s mostly not even about me, but instead, about my sponsoring priestess.  Apparently, They (the powers that be in the organization through which we were both ordained) became quite concerned with the fact that my sponsoring priestess both practices and teaches Sacred BDSM (aka Sacred Kink — see here for the excellent book on the topic, Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths Of BDSM And Beyond, by Lee Harrington.) The reasons for this are several, but the biggest reason appears to be that They have conflated what my sponsoring priestess does, with what happened at the Sedona Temple earlier this year. Please understand that I have nothing against Tantra either (I practice Western Tantra myself and recommend it as a path of connection for individuals, couples and even groups in some situations). What my sponsoring priestess does is a) legal, b) ethical, and c) not what brought the Sedona Temple down (which was accusations of prostitution.) Ultimately, the point of the whole thing isn’t the details of what she’s practicing or teaching, but the fact that They took action based on misinformation, incomplete information, and fear. They feared being “tarred with the same brush,” and chose to denounce the whole of BDSM as a whole, rather than having detailed conversations first and taking actions later.

Now, to be fair, some of the situation was exacerbated by a lack of communication and missed communications between the org and my sponsoring priestess. However, I feel that greater efforts at understanding could have been taken before they chose to denounce several personal sexual practices and choices, revoke the ordination of my sponsoring priestess, and invalidate the ordinations of all of her sponsorees (myself included.)

(By the way, I’m continuing at this time to not speak directly about this organization in this public blog, because I’m still hopeful that some sort of rapprochement might be possible. I do not wish to make the situation worse. Additionally, one of Their issues with me in particular was that I had linked to their site using their logo on my own webpage about my ministerial services without first asking permission. Oops, my bad. For now, I’ve removed the offending references pending resolution. However, none of this changes my basic feelings about the situation, and I’m certainly not against anyone with a stake in the matter speaking out about their own experiences and feelings, or writing on behalf of my sponsoring priestess. I’m just trying to not make things unnecessarily worse for myself, or for her. Write me privately if you would like further information, including templates for a letter writing campaign to educate this organization about sacred kink, or to speak out on behalf of my sponsoring priestess in particular.)

It’s also important (in my view anyway) to note that their action (in revoking my ordination and that of all of the sponsorees) does not actually affect either my mission as a counselor, as a priestess/minister, nor does it affect my ability to perform weddings (and other such ceremonies) here in California (and in some other states.) I was ordained on October 10th, 1989, through the Universal Life Church, and I have confirmed with the ULC that they still have a record of that ordination. My ordination through this other organization was intended mostly to create community ties, and a mutual network of support (hence my cross-linking). I’m sad to lose that, of course, but it has no bearing on my legal ability to serve as a priestess/minister.

Even more to the point, as I told them in my response:

I was also VERY clear during the ordination on Oct 7th that I received that transmission from the Goddess herself, and whatever choices are made here on the physical plane in the [national and international organizations], you (collectively) cannot remove from me that Divine blessing and calling to service. I was called into Her service, and in her service I remain, with or without your blessing, acknowledgment, or papers.

Of course, all of this recalls for me my experiences earlier this summer, in which I was asked to hide who I was in order to stay in a particular online course. As I wrote in another letter to the organization:

Honestly, when I wrote my piece “Coming Out About Love,” which described some of my soul searching while preparing for the ordination, I was afraid to post it publicly on my website… but what I feared at the time was getting pushback from the *poly* community about my *spirituality*.  It never in my wildest dreams occurred to me that the trouble might be the other way around! And yet, here we are.

… Imagine my dismay to find myself facing what appears to me to be the same core issue in the very pagan organization with which I thought to align myself: prejudice and blatant lack of understanding and compassion regarding personal choice, and the teaching of these personal choices as loving, valid forms of relating.

Here I sit, my friends, with egg on my face about my (mostly private) judgments earlier. I am reminded, forcefully, of the bumper sticker one of my partners used to have on his car, that read:

Fundies are fundies, whether they pray to the Lord or the Goddess.

So I offer my apologies to my Christian — and pagan, atheist, agnostic, etc — friends who are NOT judgmental and/or fearful of things they don’t understand. Thank you to all of you good-hearted folks out there striving to understand and accept things outside of your experience.  I appreciate you so much! Thank you for being yourselves, and allowing the space for others to be themselves as well, even when you don’t fully understand the whys and wherefores.

And to all of you — whatever sort of experiences you may have, and whatever ways you might identify, let me reiterate that you are not alone, and you are OK, just the way you are. Whoever you are and whatever choices you make — so long as those are done in Love and respect, and between consenting adults — that’s totally ok! We don’t all have to like the same things, do the same things, or go the same places.  If we did, the world would be boring, and we’d all be trying to squeeze into the same restaurant.  Ugh!

So in that spirit, let me offer you something I started brainstorming the other night (inspired by the awesome Samantha Bennett again). At the bottom of this post I’ve added 21 Reasons To Be Yourself. I think I’m just getting started on this list, so if you have other reasons to offer, please let me know! Feel free to comment below, contact me here, or on my FB Page, Love Outside The Box. I’d be happy to add your reasons, too.

Always remember how awesome you are!

~♥ Dawn

PS: If you’re interested in discussing issues around identity (or any other related topic, such as polyamory, kink, jealousy, Agreements, managing new relationship energy, etc), feel free to schedule a 1/2 hour free consultation with me.  BONUS: For a limited time, each FREE consultation comes with a Jealousy Judo pdf of tools to use to manage jealousy in yourself. Let me know how I can support YOU in being yourself, and speaking your own truth!

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A 21 self-salute:
21 Reasons to be yourself

1) because no one else can do it — you are the only you there is

2) because you have something to say to the world

3) because your children (or your nieces, nephews, little siblings, etc) need you to — how else could you make it safe for them to be *themselves*?

4) because the world needs you to — it’s time for all of us to stop trying to be someone else, and to give up ransacking the world to “keep up with the Joneses”

5) because Deity (God, Goddess, the Universe, your higher self, the FSM…) put you here to do something.  You wouldn’t want to let God — or yourself — down, would you?

6) so all the other people like you don’t feel so much alone

7) because it isn’t anyone else’s business WHO you are, anyway

8) because otherwise, you’ll go to your grave thinking “what if?”

9) because THEY said you can’t do/be/say that

10) because it feeds your soul

11) because it makes you happy. And that’s enough, all by itself. Really.

12) because what if reincarnation is true, and you aren’t yourself this time, and have to come back and do it all over again?

13) because you’re ok — great, even — just the way you are

14) because you look silly in Julia Roberts’ clothes (I mean, unless you’re Julia Roberts, in which case, you look just fine!) Stop trying to be someone you’re not.

15) because otherwise, who’s going to [bake the cookies/fix the car/type the memo] if you’re off wasting energy elsewhere?

16) because somewhere, sometime, someone will be inspired by you

17) because otherwise, the terrorists (internal or external) will have won

18) because it’s a great way to silence that nasty voice in your head that says you’re “less than.”  By definition, nobody can be a better you than you!

19) because otherwise, how will the postal carrier know whom to deliver your mail to?

20) because *you matter*. Your thoughts, feelings, and actions in this world leave a mark in this world.  The lack of them would, too. Choose to make your mark.

21) otherwise, how could your college buddies find you on Facebook?

(Got more reasons to be yourself?  Share them with me!)

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[© 2012 Dawn M. Davidson]

Keep Emotional and Physical Safety Agreements Distinct [Tip #6]

Two stylized hands clasping, forming a heart. Copyright-free symbol designed by Ravi Poovaiah, Professor, IDC, IIT Bombay.After a delay due to illness (the nasty cold had turned to an ear infection), here at last is the next installment in my in-progress Agreements Workbook.  This is Tip #6: Keep Emotional and Physical Safety Agreements Distinct.

Questions or comments about any of these Agreements Workbook entries?  Feel free to contact me here, or on my FB Page, Love Outside The Box!

Wishing you and yours lots of love and gratitude on this (US-celebrated-) day of Thanks.

~♥ Dawn

PS: I’m working on a new program that I’ll be unveiling soon, called Jealousy Judo.  Are you interested in test-driving the first part in a 1/2 hour free session? Just drop me a line and we’ll find a time!

PPS: I got my test ornaments from Zazzle today!  I particularly like this one, with my logo on one side, and “Polyamory: Love Outside The Box” on the other. 🙂

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illustration of bleeding heart pierced and surrounded by thorns

“No falling in love” — Not a good safer sex Agreement!

6) Keep emotional and physical safety agreements distinct

Have you ever heard of someone putting this into their “Safer Sex” Agreements: “No falling in love”? In my experience, it’s pretty common, especially for those whose relationship structures tend more toward swinging or open than polyamory. However, although it’s tempting to attempt to mandate emotional safety via safer sex Agreements, it turns out to be extremely difficult if not impossible to do. Safer sex is primarily about logic and science, cold hard facts, and things that can be measured. You either used condoms, or you didn’t.  The test is positive, or it’s negative (usually). The heart, on the other hand, is notoriously capricious. Heart-decisions are most often emotionally based, and don’t respond well to logic. You can’t be a little bit pregnant, but you can be a little bit in love. And it’s really difficult to “back up” in a relationship, once two (or more) people have fallen in love. At the very least, it’s a recipe for drama and lengthy nights of processing.

Conversely, bacteria and viruses aren’t much impressed with how much in love you are, or whether you think you’re “fluid-bonded” or not when you kiss another lover right after going down on someone new. While there’s some evidence to support the idea that positive intentions do positively affect the immune system [refs], the evidence isn’t really strong enough to substitute “wishing really hard” for using condoms and knowing the testing status and risk tolerance of yourself and your partners.

Picture of condoms in a rainbow of colors

Because of how ineffective emotional Agreements are in Safer Sex, and vice versa, and because of the difficulty of actually enforcing Agreements that mix emotions and epidemiology, my suggestion is usually to avoid making such Agreements in the first place. Instead, create separate line items for emotional issues and epidemiological ones, and if necessary, create separate documents for safer sex vs. emotional safety.

Now might be a good time to review Tips #2a, b & c on having Clear Standards and Consequences [p. ___]. In particular, make a note of whether something uses objective or subjective standards for success.  If the standards are all subjective ones, chances are this Agreement belongs in your Relationship Agreements, rather than your Safer Sex ones. If you’d discuss it with your physician or a clinic worker, that’s probably a Safer Sex Agreement. If it’s an Agreement you’d make with your kids, or a platonic housemate, then it probably belongs in your Relationship Agreements instead. If it involves latex or plastic on human or toy appendages, it’s probably a Safer Sex Agreement.

Note that there are some areas that overlap, particularly in the matter of pacing new relationships. Human bodies are chemically and hormonally based, and having sex often triggers chemical cascades that nature intends to cement relationships [refs, e.g. Alchemy of Love and Lust] … at least long enough to get kids conceived, born, and to about their 2nd birthday. [refs, e.g., Sex At Dawn.] However, biology is not destiny, and while the heart is difficult to regulate, behavior can be tracked and modified. So especially in these “grey areas,” try to make your agreements about behaviors, not about feelings, and you’ll find them easier to track and measure.

You can see some examples of various sorts of Agreements in Appendix B, including some that (mostly) separate out Emotional Safety from Safer Sex, and some that don’t. Be sure to check out a bunch of different Agreements, to see which ones resonate for you, and which don’t.

 

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[© 2012 Dawn M. Davidson]

Note that these entries are all rough drafts, and thus are probably missing things like references. If you know the perfect reference to add, feel free to suggest it! I always like to add to my resource collection.

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