Breaking Away with Jazz

Breaking away with Jazz

Late last year when things seemed pretty financially and emotionally hopeless for me, I set a goal; purchase my own piano when I paid off some debt. As I searched for the most budget friendly digital piano it dawned on me that I didn’t just want it to collect dust in the corner. I needed something to work towards, something truly meaningful to me. And that my friends was learning to play Jazz. The soul of the music, the delight I feel when it dips into minor tones and comes back again and the way it just sounds so effortless taking my mind on the most wondrous journeys. It truly is a genre with endless versatility: at one moment fuelling my creative soul, and at another calming my breathing so I can get the deepest possible stretches, then of course there are the songs that linger for days on end touching on emotions I hardly knew were there.

Jazz has been a part of my life pretty much from the moment I turned 18 onwards, when I bought my first Ella Fitzgerald CD and began researching her career and musical evolution. The obstacles she had to overcome just to share her gift was so beyond anything I could comprehend. I grew up in Canada, as a white girl, being told that I could do anything I put my mind to. And here was this woman, with more musical talent than I have in my whole being getting shut out of club, after club simply because of the colour of her skin. Being an 18 year old, idealist surrounded by people of all races, I thought proudly to myself, look how far we have come! Look at how equality has been achieved! 

I believed this right up until my half Jamaican niece was born nearly a decade later, and I saw firsthand something shocking, racism in my own backyard. Family members were worried that this little girl was going to have a tough time growing up due to the colour of her skin. They were concerned that life would be so much tougher for her, than for the rest of us. I fought this mentality, and debated with them, that it was their close-minded views projected on her, and that she would be absolutely fine. That this birth was amazing, and she would be given the exact same opportunities as everyone else. I even had heated debates saying that we as a society no longer see colour. I was so naïve.

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A few years after her birth, my cousin called me in a fit of rage, because she took her little girl to the public pool, and a lady asked her where she got her baby. Listening to her experience, I felt the most helpless pain. Then there was an incident a short time later, where a woman threatened to call the police on this amazing mother for apparently kidnapping a child that couldn’t possible be hers. I was horrified. Was this simply a small-town mindset or was something deeper going on? Again, I put these thoughts on the back burner, and proclaimed how proud I was that I didn’t see race. That I could look beyond everything and love this little girl with all my heart and soul.

Over the last few weeks, I have questioned this very painful thought, and am making progress to break away from it. I thought not seeing race was the ultimate goal, but my mind is changing. I don’t want to “not see race”. I am coming to the conclusion that we actually need to celebrate other races, and cultures and include all of these unique attributes into our society with open and loving arms. Embracing the diversity, and finding a way to integrate it as a complex system, rather than striving for us all to one day be the same colour (which I always in my head hoped would magically be purple). And that is when I got an idea, music is one of the most meaningful ways that I have learned about diversity, and the experiences of other people. Why? Because music brings people together. It is an expression beyond words, it is something you feel, and it is something I feel very deeply.

Personally I have a lot of work to do with breaking free of some of the naïve ideals I thought were important, and if you are willing, I will be sharing my journey every few posts. I do not feel that change will happen over night. I see racisms I didn’t even know existed and I want to do as much listening, and amplifying of amazing voices that I can, while at the same time staying true to myself and bringing positivity into the world. Uniting Jazz, into my sex positive blog is the best way I know how to do that. I hope you enjoy listening to the incredible music I am exploring, with my personal focus being artists who are black, and culturally diverse. And let us not forget, that once we are all free to be non-monogamous sexual beings again, that music plays an intrinsic role in sex, and just setting an atmosphere, which when the time is right we will explore together too.

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We Are in the Darkest Timeline…

And When We Need Empathy the Most, It Doesn’t Seem to be Working

Let us start at the beginning, what does empathy really mean?

It is the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.”

I have always thought of myself as an empathetic person.  Putting myself in other people’s shoes is something I do without thinking. Perspective is everything, and I love having the capacity to experience and understand more about the human experience through this skill-set. Using this mindset it feels valid for me to claim that I am an open-minded sex positive individual and in turn coach and help those who are struggling with various aspects of their non-monogamous relationships. It’s difficult to write this, without appearing like I am bragging, but the honest truth is developing empathy was how I survived a difficult childhood. As an only child, moving every 3 years, I had to efficiently learn skills to fit into new situations quickly and without any previous frame of reference.  And if you believe in such things, I am a libra, and I have been told this brings a natural balance to my perspective. 

Now, to the post at hand. There is a lot going on in the world. People are justifiably angry with, well, pretty much everything. From being forced to isolate, to the disgusting murder of a black man by people of authority, to the fact that it is supposed to be pride month, and quite frankly we have very little to celebrate. All in all 2020, has sucked so far. And being a person with a platform (no matter how small), I believe it is my duty to speak out and show support for all the people who are suffering. But there is a huge problem with this, empathy doesn’t seem to be working.

In all my years of blogging, and being active on social media, never have I felt this total chaos.  And by chaos, I mean this completely helpless feeling where everything I do is wrong. Empathy, up until now has always been a strength and has helped me be an ally to the people who truly need it. Now though, people are just so damn angry I am at a loss of how to help. Being silent is never OK, but when I am called out for being “obtuse” due to asking what black charities small businesses can donate to in my local community, it is obvious that anger is at the boiling point. Again, I want to make it clear, that I have complete empathy and want to learn, help, and ensure that racism is extinct from out future. But, I have to say again, I am at a loss of how to do this.

One theme I keep seeing is that activists are exhausted from providing lists, resources, and links to those among us who keep asking what we can do. The frustration seems to be that it is far more important for the white ally to just do some research to find the best charity etc. on their own, thereby taking a more active approach. But I hope you understand, there are many of us who just don’t want to make anymore mistakes or make things worse. I for one, have always been taught never to use race as a means of dividing people. So it goes against everything I know to do a specific Google search for black owned/run companies or charities. It feels, like I am doing something wrong. Why should it matter what race/orientation/ etc. a company is run by? That is the preconception I go into this with. And the confusion doesn’t end there.

When one person says that they don’t want to see any white person use #blacklivesmatter, and another says that “silence in white people is supporting white supremacy” or that unless you have experienced racism you should just shut up and let black people talk, it becomes less and less clear how not to mess this up. I am at a complete loss as to how to be an effective ally. Racism needs to end. All humans should have fair access to healthcare, education, and due process under the law. Equality for all needs to be fought tooth and nail to achieve. So I ask again, please, tell me how I can help?

I would love to boost black authors, sex positive educators, and support in anyway I can. However, I don’t want it to seem like I am just pandering for the here and now. I want desperately for these actions to be meaningful, insight real change, rather than a temporary increase of exposure, unless that’s all you want me to do. I’ve seen call outs for specific contributors, and I am going to be brutally honest, looking for one specific voice has always made me uncomfortable. Again, my bias has always been an open space where anyone should feel comfortable commenting, interacting, or even reading. And if this is not appropriate at this time, I need to know.

Empathy used to be enough. The complete willingness to learn, support, and stand up for what is right has always worked for me, as I said, until now. I’m not rich and famous. I don’t have a lot of resources at my disposal, but I do have my words.  I don’t want to remain passive, but I cannot constantly fight for a cause I very much believe in, if I keep getting told I am wrong by the very people I am trying to fight for. Help me learn, do better, and above all, be the ally you need. 

If you have a resource or book that you think would help me, and others, please link it in the comments or on social media.

That Tingly Feeling When the Numbness Leaves

A Little Update…

That tingly feeling

I cannot believe that it has been a year since I wrote my piece on Breaking Free From Gaslighting.  When I wrote it last June, I thought that I was in a situation where life was completely hopeless and perhaps writing about the past situation would grant me a little mental relief.  I was in a hopeless teeter-totter of emotions where the only thing I could do was control my own reactions, because there was nothing I could do solve the inherent problem.  It was actually a pretty interesting game of mental gymnastics on my part. 

First, I would cry, get angry, basically go through all the stages of grief. Then I would have this wave of motivation and just start creating new things like a person possessed.  Fueling my creativity with all the negative thoughts that were just there. I was locked in this back and forth, until suddenly, something completely outside of my control happened, depression.  My house became plagued with this treacherous beast and we were powerless to stop it. I will save the details for another time, but I will say time lost all meaning. I was no longer coping, I was in full survival mode, and not just for me, but my household too. And that was the moment I did the only I knew how to do, go numb.

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When I was a small child, I learn how to go numb as a defence mechanism when a bunch of horrible crap was occurring around me and I had no tools to deal with it. And well, that whole ice queen persona stuck with me well into my 20’s.  When I finally learned how to laugh, and be a sex positive person, I figured I would never fall back into that numb place, but last summer, I did.  What’s more, I have had to stay in a state of numbness up until this week.  Why? Because as the gaslighter continued to exert his control over me, I was powerless.  The only solution was out of my control, and all I could do was guide the process or stand idly by as best I could (which I am not good at!). 

Maybe you have felt this? Perhaps I am describing a situation that feels so foreign to you, you want to reach out and hug me, or worse, pity me.  Wherever you fall reading that purposefully vague statement (privacy is paramount here, as I don’t want to go from one legal battle directly into another one), I hope you understand one thing, I survived.  And now, I have that tingly feeling all over my body from where that numbness was.  It feels euphoric, brings me to tears with that release, and then just has me grinning.  I feel like I am waking up. 

Thank you all for participating and supporting the first week of the sex positive 30 day challenge because honestly, this gave me a purpose.  I chose a project that required skills far beyond my comfort zone (graphic design) and forced me to put myself out there, just as much as I was asking all of you to be.  And it has grounded me for an hour or so, every day, while I try and rectify my new reality and emotions.  Having the constant burden of fear no longer blocking my path to happiness is a pretty intense feeling. I thank you all for reading up to this point!  Your support has been pretty damn integral to focusing my tingly feeling on something tangible rather than just melting into a puddle of giggly goo.

So, that is the brief update on where this sex positive blogger is at with her life… the tingly road to freedom!  And now, back to the #sexpositive30days challenge!

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My Life May Never Be Perfect: Encore

Raw and Intense

The last post I wrote was raw and intense.  And the reason for writing and sharing it, was completely selfish.  I felt so much better with the cry during the typing and then that sweet release I felt when I published it.  It was a post for me.  A way of sorting my thoughts out, just like I did when I first started blogging. My blog is all about problem solving for me.  And after I wrote it, I was able to have a much clearer conversation with my partner about just how important it is for me to accept what I have, not to bite off too much, and to take joy in the here and now.  Again, my life is not perfect, but what is the point of just hoping and waiting for the future to bring me the riches (not monetary, just in general) that I fantasize about.  Why do I so often feel that I do not deserve to be happy right now?

That is the crux isn’t it?  I know dating women right now would be a disaster, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy the fantasy of it.  In fact, I have been refraining from writing any erotica as of late, in fear of getting too swept up in something I may not ever achieve.  I have long suffered from an affliction of not daring to get my hopes up, because I always feel let down.  And that down I feel, is just too much for my little self to handle.  So, I try and moderate my emotions.  I try to… force a balance? I’m not sure if that makes sense to the majority of people.  But, as best I can describe it is, I can get intensely excited about things, but due to being let down so many times, I try and moderate how excited I let myself get.  In order to regulate the possible downward spiral, I actually prevent my brain from over indulging my expectations.

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If any of you out there do that, now would be an amazing time to reach out and tell me I am not alone in this… le sigh.

But back to the post at hand.  Since writing that last post, I have taken positive action in my life.  I have enjoyed taking breaks during the day.  Reveled in getting out of the house, and even started to chat with a few dear friends that I have not reached out to in a long time.  For you see, I had let myself believe that I would be a burden to them during the bulk of my last years depression and mental struggles.  And, as much as they tell me I wouldn’t have been, everyone has their own shit to deal with, and I just would have felt guilty adding to that, with my hopeless situation.  But here I sit, typing, with a few coffees on the books, and some one on one time with dear people in my future.  This is a major positive shift in my mental state. 

And that really is why I am writing this post.  I am not out of the woods, and I may never be.  But here I sit, taking a bit of pride in what I have achieved.  Instead of writing a daily task list that I feel guilty about not being able to achieve, I am writing a weekly one.  I am taking breaks to play a little VR.  And I am taking a French course.  Personal betterment is one of my biggest goals, and being able to share what I have learned is… well… it leaves me a little speechless and tongue tied (ironically). Breaking the cycle of not believing you deserve to be happy until you achieve a lifelong goal is tough.  I am not excelling at this, by any stretch of the imagination.  With that being said though, I am finally celebrating small victories, and I’m hoping that shift in thinking will break through the wall of not being good enough bit by bit. 

Thank you all for the love and support, and I hope at least a few of you appreciate the raw and real, versus the whole non-monogamy and relationships are always peachy all the time sort of blogs.  Being in a good state of mind is key, and that is relationship priority number one.  After that, well, the possibilities are endless!

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My Life is Not Perfect and It May Never Be

My life is not perfect

Over the past year, I placed a big carrot in front of me.  I wanted to achieve something I have never had in my adult life, and I focused my attention on that one thing.  At the age of 36, I was finally going to be debt free, by making a huge life change, and sacrificing home ownership for the removal of this mental burden.  Why am I sharing this with you?  Because, it hasn’t happened yet.  And in the interim of this will it, or won’t it scenario, I am learning a whole bunch about myself, and my mental health.

It turns out, having a carrot to work towards, is not something that gives me peace.  It is just too big a goal, and far beyond my direct control.  Thus, I placed my mental happiness on something in the future, and one that was not a sure thing.  I am going to tell you with complete honesty, that it came close to destroying me.  I forgot to find joy in the day to day.  I became consumed with this idea, that my happiness depended on this far off event, and if I just held out for a few more days, weeks, months, then I could finally smile again.  Then, I could breath a huge sigh of relief. 

I’ve made this mistake in the past.  I put all my eggs into a basket, that seems like a sure thing, and allow my mental well being to just kind of simmer, until this goal is achieved.  I’ve done this with my career, with my past relationships (maybe even my current one, but that is too close to home to analyze right now), and I just snapped myself out of doing this for a moment longer with my debt.

The thing is, I do have to make sacrifices right now.  I have put the exploration of my sexual fluidity on hold.  I was so excited to have a first date with a female, but the reality is, dating is expensive and very time consuming.  I know this.  And it would not be fair or even rational to put myself out there right now.  But, as I am figuring out, not everything I do has to feel like I am giving something up.  I can enjoy my 20 minutes of yoga a day, with clarity.  I can take breaks to play video games because it makes me happy, and my brain needs mental breaks throughout the day.  And yes, I feel proud of all the writing and progress I am making working from home part time. 

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In the past little while, I have resisted posting pity me social media status’s and it has been difficult.  I cried out loud to my partner, that I just wished someone would finally feel sorry for me, and tell me that I have come so far after such a difficult journey.  Let me just have one person feel sorry for me, I sobbed.  And you know what?  He did the complete opposite.  He told me that I could be proud of what I had done, and reminded me, that it is OK to take breaks and not work so hard.  I don’t have to prove to myself that I work 80 hours a week, to feel good about myself.  I can work half that, and enjoy my breaks and the little things.  And that my friends, is when I realized that I was using this carrot as my permission slip to be happy.  And, well, that is change I am making in my life.  I may never be out of debt, and I may never enjoy the financial freedom that I believe I would as a child.  And you know what?  I very well still could.  This isn’t that I am giving up on achieving a goal.  Instead, I am trying to be more aware and conscious that I can be proud of myself right now.  That I can celebrate small victories with as much intensity as the big ones.  And well, just writing that, the lump in my throat went down.  I breathed a sigh of relief, and the tears that were brimming as I typed, slowly just went away.  I don’t need to spell out all my obstacles and hurdles to you all to elicit sympathy.  Instead, I can let that go, and focus on the joy and the smaller moments.  Life is what you make of it right? 

Thank you for all the love, support, and a special thanks to all the people who have bought me a beer on Patreon!