38 My Year of the Flamingo

Year of the Flamingo

Getting my shit together has been hard work. And in the last year of my life, I pushed through some really difficult things, including budgeting, accepting singledom (and the fact that this time around ghosting is everywhere), and basically forcing myself into a new writing routine. With all that said, my 38th year, I am dubbing the year of the flamingo.  Which I love because it is the most unique, awkward, and interesting creature, thus my spirit animal. Embracing my inner flamingo has been an experience, and while I am not claiming to be an expert on this majestic bird, I do share a lot of traits with it. Or maybe I don’t, and just love the look of them. Either way, it’s fine.

As a very young child, I remember spending hours standing in my grandmother’s kitchen posing like a flamingo. I have no idea where this behavior came from, or for how many years I would do this.  What I do know is that the memory makes me smile, recalling me in my youth, just balancing in a way that made me happy. Zero flocks given!  Haha.

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Now, more than ever, I need that mentality to run through me. I have written a few posts, some shared, some not published yet about embracing that I feel better with a partner.  With a man in my life, I can take over the world, but alone, I only feel this about half the time, or sometimes less. Sure, I get confident bursts and moments, but then I get lonely and recall that I am missing intimacy.  The thoughts of inadequacy, or being too overwhelming for certain people, or that nagging voice that says I expect too much.  There we go, that brings on the tears.  I don’t want to be that intimidating person. Instead, I want to be warm and fuzzy, and yet… I am that flamingo.  Standing alone, in a group of thousands. That’s me.  Bold, pink, and largely mysterious.

I want to be less mysterious to a few souls this 38th year of life, but, who knows what the world actually has in store for me.  While embracing my own emotions has been rewarding, and calling emotions valid has helped, I do truly want partnership.  I hope though that love will appear a few times this year, and maybe not end in heartache? Perhaps? Maybe… pretty please universe?

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Adult Crushes Are So Complicated

Reflections of Crushes

Remember as a kid, when crushes were all the rage? You’d fall in love on the playground, chase the person around a tree for 10 minutes, be smitten all through the morning, and boom… broken heart by lunchtime?  The next few days you’d play safely in your friend group, and then… when you least expected it, someone would catch your eye and you would be crushing all over again!  The thing about having school aged crushes is that there were very few consequences.  The “dating” pool seemed endless, not that you even knew that was a thing back then, because scarcity was not a term you were familiar with.  The heartbreak could be overcome with a quick cry, a little outburst, or even just a game of tag to get that heart racing and provide the necessary distractions. Le sigh… we are adults here, or at least I am trying to be, and as the title suggest, adult crushes are much more complicated.

In my demographic of people, the norm seems to be that crushes as adults are frivolous, and often taboo subjects to even mention.  The married crews would never talk about an office crush, and the unmarried or non-monogamous seem to have left the world crush to childhood.  Once you reach a certain age, you either date someone, or move on. And with the exception of celebrities (or those equally out of our range) a crush is seemingly taboo.  Grown adults don’t have crushes, or at least we only talk about the one sided things once we reach relationship status.

Well, I am here to tell you, I have no other term for what I am going through right now. I am absolutely smitten over a guy who is emotionally unavailable and has been honest in telling me so. He in no way is leading me on. But is that stopping me from pursuing him in earnest? Not a chance.  I like him, he makes me feel absolutely amazing, and in short, I am dealing with an adult crush.

Here’s the complication. I know this is a crush. I know, the possibility of getting my heart broken is almost certain. And I know, that it won’t be healed by just running around the block, or playing with my friends.  Crush or not, the stakes are higher as an adult. I can’t just brush these feelings aside, because to me, they are absolutely real. Albeit one sided, hence the term… crush!

The thing is, I loved having crushes as a kid. My yearbooks are filled with my “secret” code of the boys I fell for. Ok… fine… I’ll tell you.  I would put Chapstick on and kiss the boys I liked.  Invisible kisses to my lovestruck heart.  But here’s the thing, as an adult, talking about crushes with my friends doesn’t work. I miss the days that I could go on and on about a boy, and have my friends say “go for it” or the ones who would talk sense into me that he was out of my league or dating someone else. Now, when I talk about “boys” it seems to have more gravitas.  Seemingly I should have some inherent wisdom not to crush on someone unavailable. And that I should just move on, and date someone who is ready, willing, and able. And while that sounds like solid advice perhaps you missed the part where my heart is taking the lead?

This isn’t some happy go lucky crush that was the highlight of my non-monogamous days. Reason being, the risks back then were low. It didn’t matter if the person liked me back, because I had someone I was in love with at home. I could take or leave the pleasure, in fact, I could just enjoy the butterflies, because that was always my favorite part. So, having a monogamous crush? Yeah, this really bites. It’s complicated, it often hurts, and I feel lonely much of the time. And then boom, the second I read a message from him, I forget everything, giggle like an idiot, and push (probably) way too hard for him to hang out with me. But, just as a little girl on the school yard many moons ago, there is just no telling me or my heart what to do. I am crushing, even though it is so complicated.

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Open… But in a Different Way

Ray of Sunshine!

I’d be a fool to pretend that I knew what the future held for me relationship wise. If relationships were one sided, and a person could just choose who they wanted, plead their case, and either receive a yes or a no that would be one thing. But… life, relationships, and love are complex beasts. The good news is that I will never run out of things to research, explore, or write about. The bad news however is the emotional rollercoaster that I get to feel in my personal life. And if you caught my last post, right now I am being led by my very own heart for the first time that I can remember.  While it is terrifying, there is something incredibly rewarding of being able to just feel with my whole heart. And being open for a relationship.

In conjunction, my recent piece for Medium explores the idea of validating emotions. And when writing that, something pretty unique popped into my head, well unique for me, and that is the role of dating apps in my life. With my heart in control of finding me a relationship worthy of my whole heart, there is a possibility that I will be able to delete all my online dating apps. Whoa you might be saying!  Am I admitting to no longer wanting to explore non-monogamy? Well, here’s the thing, I want to explore first a healthy, loving, supportive, two person driving relationship. Does that make sense?

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Whatever two people decide should be a mutual effort. And with that, I strongly advocate for developing a rock solid foundation. That, in my personal experience is best achieved by removing all the extra noise and distractions. Thus, being able to delete everything and just focus on two people.  It’s an exciting prospect. I’ve always said that if I had kids (which to be clear is not what I am doing right now), anything outside of monogamy would be off the table for a bit. So, the idea of deleting apps one day was always real to me, but the why of course was a curveball I didn’t anticipate. Oh life… you’re so full of surprises, aren’t you?

I’m not jumping the gun and rushing into a lifelong relationship here, but I am going to take a little break from looking for a while. There is a man I am smitten for, and we both need time and space to see if this is a fit. Life gets in the way, and we both have some hurdles to overcome before we give each other a real go. That being said, there is hope here. Hope, I haven’t felt this strongly… well… ever? To have a person who just brings you joy, exclusively is something I wasn’t sure existed.  And maybe I will find out it doesn’t. That being said, I am open to being proved wrong.

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Relationship Breakdown Realizations and Owning My Part

Bowser and I in Nature

After all the rants, raves, frustration, and putting out into the universe all the things I wish would make people better (or better for me), I remembered the one simple truth: the only person I can change is me. Relationship are a two way street, and clearly I am in a place right now whereby I am attracting a certain type of man that is not doing my mental health any favours. While I am aware that mental health and depression is on the rise, I also have to take accountability for the fact that dating 3 men in a row battling depression is more than coincidence.  While I take pride in being empathetic, warm, good natured, and really easy going, those are not the traits that I should be putting forth. Instead, I need to regain my confidence, assertiveness, and bring that sass onto the table from the get go. Why? Because I am tired of having men walk all over me, or just disappear. And if I’m being honest, I have been making that really easy. So here I am trying to own my part of the recent slew of relationship breakdowns.

Now, please don’t misunderstand. I am not taking accountability for the ghosters. That is abhorrent behaviour and we must all work to call out that BS whenever it occurs. I take nothing back from my rant or recent Medium article talking about how we must start talking about breakups and how to end things.  We MUST do better!

What I am saying though, is me being a passive, chill, and relaxed is not the answer right now.  And the evidence is in the fact that I am not finding people who challenge me, who engage me, or who want to stick around. I’ve become a dating pacifist, who is just too damn easy going and go with the flow. Sure, these are real character traits that I am proud to possess, but as my closest friends can attest, our friendships never started out that way. I am an intense individual.  And I need to own that. Passionate, driven, and a person with very little patience.  These are the traits that attracted the best men into my life. And these are the ones I have to harness again.

Do you want to know something though? I couldn’t actually figure out what I was doing wrong until I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, and changed up everything. Granted I did it on a very small scale. But still, it must be noted that I packed up my car, my dog, and headed west. I drove back and forth between a small town in BC, trying to pick a location that was secluded, surrounded by trees, and basically, perfect for a writing retreat. I actually started crying while looking, because I realized solo travelling is really difficult for me. I am confident with people I know, but damn, I am out of practice in new situations. And as that realization slowly made the tears stop, I simplified things, and just looked for a simple picnic table. While on the quest for that spot I could make my lunch, a spot surrounded with trees soon appeared, and everything I was looking for was suddenly there. But, the first step, was keeping in keeping it simple stupid.

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And with that, I refuelled, went for a walk with my dog, and suddenly remembered to breath. Here I was, in the most serene spot, completely unexpected, and I realized I needed to empower myself. I have never been able to rely on others to do it for me. But, I kinda fooled myself into thinking I could. And with this reset of time, space, by being out in nature, I felt OK. I did something big and scary, and I was fine. Because of course I was fine. I always land on my feet, no matter what shit gets thrown at me. And I need to trust that again. Yes, things are going to be hard. Yes, difficulty is part of my life, but… I will find what I need. But only if I project the correct image. This sweet, kind, and affectionate being is not the one I need to lean on right now. And… it took me a long time to remember that, and a ridiculous amount of heartache.

So, let us scratch that. Start again. Call out the first half of 2021 for being an experiment that I gave some solid attempts to, and go back to something that works. I am now ready to attract the people to me that are going to compliment me in all the best ways.  And I wish the same, for each and every one of you!  And don’t you worry, I will share with you all each fuck up along the way!

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Hypocrite You Say? Posting Sexy Photos is NOT an Invitation for Sexism or Trolls

Beerlover_boobowner

Last year I wrote an article for Medium, with regards to this pervasive myth that it’s easier for woman to write about sex than men, and if you haven’t already, I do hope you give it a read for a little extra context for what I want to rant a bit about on here.  And perhaps, I will be able to formulate these rants into a more cohesive article for medium. But, for the time being, I want to address this hypocritical murmur I am hearing with regards to my boob forward images, and my hard stance against sexism and harassment.  I am body and sex positive, and no that does not mean that I or anyone else who creates content, is therefor open to sexism or harassment.  And the irony is not lost on me that I am writing this rant only a week after boldly re-claiming my power, but I guess, my boldness adds fodder to the trolls and hypocrite criers.  Ugh.

When I post boobs and beer on Instagram, that is my celebration of two things I love. And when I post bonus content on my Patreon (for a small subscription or one time fee) it is because, I deserve to get a little kickback for all the free content I put out there. Plain and simple. And yeah, admitting that I deserve a little money for what I do, is a tough thing to write down, and own.  Phew, glad I got that out of the way. And now onto the hypocrisy of it all.

One of the little notes I sent myself when mulling over how I wanted boobs, beer, and vinyl to look and feel was “Sex and nudity should be normalized, fun, and playful”. And yes, I send a lot of little notes to myself in between writing sessions. The thing about this one is, it is important to me that my images not just be sexy, shot in the best lighting ever, or even filtered. Why? Because real, and raw is who I am, with an element of playful and random.  That to me, is the key to embracing body positivity and normalizing nudity and the enjoyment of the naked body.  Of course with IG, nudity of any sort is forbidden, so I have to work within the parameters of their platform.  Which is perfectly fine with me, and presents a fun little challenge of riding that fine line.

But there are a few things I need to get right out there in the open.  There is nothing hypocritical about my strong stance against sexism and my fun desire to be sexy and playful with my photographs and selfies.  If you, have ever thought that I bring on the harassment and abuse myself due to my content that I put out into the world, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM! Let me be very clear, we cannot become a sex positive culture if we shame people for putting out content that is sexual  or suggestive in nature.  As I wrote in my Medium article, it is not easy putting intimate content out for public consumption. Trolls are the worst, and stalkers, are real. I have feared for my safety a number of times over the years, and even changed my nudity policy for my blog articles (if you’re a regular reader, I know you’re sick of me writing that down, but it still irks me that I had to do that).

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I have tried to understand the correlation between writing the word sex and getting trolled. I just don’t understand. Why when people read the phrase sex positive do they short circuit and assume that I’m down to fuck or that I want to talk about sex and my personal life with strangers? I call it trolling simply because it’s something that rational people in the real world would never do. Anonymity creates a seemingly safe space for creeps.  And I put content out, in a lot of places, thus there is a never ending stream of violations towards my privacy, sanity, and sexual well being. And no, it should not be this way, nor should I simply accept the fact because I write or photograph “sex” themed content at times.  And yet, in the real world, actual acquaintances of mine believe that this is par for the course and I bring this on myself. Ugh!  But I don’t do this simply for attention, and definitely not for the money.  I do this because it’s what I want to write about, what I am passionate about photographing, and what fuels me. 

And there is another element to this, a much more personal one.  Yesterday, I was in a terrible mood, and you know what made me cheer up? Taking the time to grab a beer, put on a silly bikini to match a vinyl cover, and plan a little photo shoot in my living room.  I got my brain to think about something fun, had tunes going, and cracked a beer.  Doing this little selfie absolutely got me out of my head, and brought some playfulness from my living room, and after I shared with those on my social media. It was truly a mental boost for me. And how in the world can that be wrong?

So, if you are one of those in the background thinking that I bring on harassment or sexism myself, it is time to look in the mirror and reflect on why you hold onto those misguided values. I dress for my own pleasure, and I take photos to bring me joy.  If you in turn believe that I deserve my trolls, or it should be expected in today’s day and age, please let me know, and I will provide you with some amazing resources to help shake you out of that frame of mind. Putting myself out there is rarely easy.  It is often uncomfortable, and hot damn do I wish some days that people would appreciate the work and pay me fairly for it. With that all aside, I more often than not, understand that what I do is important. And that there is value in what I put out there, and I remain hopeful that one day the effort will pay off. Or at the very least, I can stop ranting about all those who call me a hypocrite.

Challenge Time: I want each of you to give a shout-out to someone who embodies a sex positive trait that you admire, or someone you admire for the content they create! Comment on this post, Twitter, Facebook, or wherever you read this blog!