Monday, October 5, 2015

Fantasy versus Reality

Hello, readers!

Well, it seems I took an unplanned sabbatical in the month of September. It was insanely busy, much more than both Jason and I would've preferred. We are mostly quiet, home bodies, that prefer a lot of down time and not a lot of socializing or running around. But much of the busyness of September was unavoidable. Anyway, we survived. And I only got in trouble...a few times. I'm mostly a good girl, you know! But when I'm not...well, he knows what to do with me.

Anyway! There's a topic that I've been thinking on for a while now, that I thought might be a good one to bring up as I get back into blogging.

Fantasy versus Reality.

Of course, because of the nature of the subject of this blog is DD or D/S, I'm referring specifically to fantasy versus reality in a d/s dynamic.

About six months ago or so, I was chatting with a submissive friend of mine. Her husband is a former reader of my blog. Note, I said "former." She told me he won't read blogs anymore, because it's too difficult to determine what is true and what isn't, and he feels that bloggers encourage readers to embrace the fantasy instead of reality in their d/s world. Ouch. It got me to I do that here?

 I am scrupulously honest, so that part of the criticism did not bother me. If anyone thinks I'm not honest, they're free to not read. It's my personal opinion that dishonestly can't be maintained for a length of time, so those who blog dishonestly will show their true colors eventually. I'm not here to be popular (have you seen how few comments I get? lol), so I post what I feel led to post. So that particular criticism, I get, but I don't feel it applies to me. 

However, the second part of the criticism may apply. I tend to be a fairly optimistic person in all areas of life, so when I come to blog, I do try to put a positive spin on things. It's how I face things, with rosy-eyed optimism, even to a fault, at times. So yes, perhaps I do show that things are rosier than they actually are. I am also a hopeless romantic. So when I talk about Jason, and I blog about our life here, I do paint a fairly romantic, positive, glowing picture.

And the truth is, Jason and I are pretty madly in love with one another. It's not an exaggeration. We just are. Last night, he pulled me over to him and in for a hug and said something like, "I know you like me." (He's so cute!) I cuddled in and said something like, "You know I adore you." I do. He's kind of amazing, and he thinks I'm pretty cool, too. 

So where does the fantasy versus reality put us, then?

Jason and I have been at this dynamic now for nearly three years, though we had a d/s dynamic in our relationship all along. So sometimes I forget what it was like when we were just beginning. Sometimes I forget the growing pains we went through, until another reader or friend who lives this shares something that triggesr a memory. We've gone through our growing pains. We still have our struggles, as we're only human. But hammering out details of our dynamic is not where we're at right now. We've already come to a place that works for us, and now we maintain that dynamic, changing as our needs shift. 

So perhaps I do sometimes paint an unrealstic picture, because I'm immersed in a working, comfortable d/s dynamic. 

How to explore this, then? I think I'll take a look at some of the "fantasy" danger zones that come up in some of the fiction I've read, and compare it to the "reality" of living this life. 

In fantasy, the Dom is always engaged. 

In reality? Yeah, not always. From my perspective in "reality," Jason needs enormous amounts of downtime. In the beginning, when we were starting out, that killed me. I always felt rejected and hurt, and I did not accept the fact that my man couldn't be "on" every day, all day. I took his need to recharge as a personal slight against me. I felt if he pulled away, it was a personal refusal of me as a person. 

Not so! Being a Dominant requires an incredible amount of self-control and emotional availability. Jason has a demanding job at work, and a busy life as a father, and although he is amazing at being available and attentive to me, he really needs time to unwind. Knowing that, I plan on it now. The kids and I have plans on Saturday afternoons that intentionally don't include him, just so he can have a few hours alone. I go to bed several hours before Jason does, and get up several hours before him. I didn't like our differing bedtimes for a long time, but have come to accept it's in both of our best interests. This works for us. 

When he is very busy at work (this time of year especially), he is not always as available as I'd like. So how do I handle that? I work out often, and hard, six days a week. A regular, intense workout routine provides stress relief and the endorphin rush I crave. I make self care a high priority. I stay in touch with good friends. I have goals I'm working toward, and my own interests apart from Jason. I also know, because of our routine here, that I can count on two check-in's a day, and open communication. So when I need him, I to go to him. But I do make sure I am taking care of my own needs as well. 

In fantasy, the Dom is 100% consistent, follows through with discipline and handles aftercare perfectly. 

In reality, Doms are human beings. They are not always consistent. They sometimes don't have the energy to follow through. They aren't always in a place to give aftercare. And in reality, some Doms don't always agree that discipline is needed. 

Now, since we've been at this a while, we don't struggle with consistency. Jason is consistent, and I know if he thinks I deserve to be punished, I will be punished. He tries to follow through as soon as possible, but in reality, that doesn't always work out. Recently, I was absolutely exhausted, and I lost my temper with him. It was brief, but unacceptable. I felt immediately repentant. He came in to me, was very gentle as he knew I was so exhausted, and told me he wouldn't allow the disrespect, but I needed sleep more than anything. He made me go to bed. The next day, he did indeed take me over his lap and remind me that he expects respect from me, and I was punished quite firmly. But in reality, it waited for the next day. In reality, he felt my needs for sleep were more important than my need to be discplined. 

In reality, I don't always get aftercare. There have been times when he was still very upset with me. Times when he felt being sent to bed with a sore bottom was a more effective punishment than a hug afterward.

In fantasy, spankings are sexy. 

In reality, spankings hurt. Yeah, we have our sexy spankings and yes, I'm deeply erotically attracted to Jason's discipline. But in reality, placing myself over his knee to be disciplined is not hot; it isn't all gushy and sexy. It is hard to do. It's humbling. The actual acceptance of discipline is far more challenging in real life.

In fantasy, things are textbook perfect. 

In reality, they're not.

But in a fantasy world, perfection is fleeting. 

There is depth to a relationship that is tested, and lasts. There is depth to a relationship in which both parties have learned to compromise, to work through the difficulties, and give of themselves to one another. 

In reality, love is built on a foundation of trust and self-giving, not hearts and flowers. 

I much prefer reality to fantasy. 

What about you, readers? What have you found different in reality than in fantasy? Do you think blogs promote fantasy over reality? How do you think we can counteract this? 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Day to Day

Hello, readers! School begins next week, so things are getting busy here. I know many of you can relate! 

Recently, I've had a few blog readers write to me with questions. Because the questions were asked multiple times by a few readers, I thought it might be good to elaborate a bit in a blog post, as other readers may be interested as well. 

One reader said she couldn't really imagine how our “day to day” looks, with small children in our home. I've mentioned in several posts that we are raising a family, and several readers have asked how this works. How is it possible to maintain a fairly intense level of d/s in the home, with all the commitments we have? I thought I had written about this, and didn't want to get into a narcissistic post, but when I asked around a bit, it seems I really haven't written much about this. Others were indeed curious. And the nature of blogging means that new readers come in and out frequently.

So, I'm going to take a little bit of time to explain how things work for us. As I've said before, how it works for one couple won't necessarily work for another. But maybe there are some approaches that do help, as others find their own way? 

Saturday night, Jason and I went out on a date, just the two of us. When we were there, I mentioned something about our dynamic, though I can't really remember now how the conversation started. He smiled, and shrugged. “It's funny,” he said. “In the beginning, it's all kind of novel.” He made a swinging motion with his hand (spank, spank, spank!), while I blushed furiously and hoped no one noticed. “But after a while, it just becomes the norm. Routine. This is what we do. This is who we are.” 

And really, that sums it up quite nicely. 

I know when I started out, I wanted to read everything. It was always on my mind. I was so consumed by the thought of a DD dynamic, and had no idea this was really how anyone ever did things. I was so drawn to it! And certainly as we incorporated more and more into our dynamic, things became even more consuming, as we had to figure things out. But now, that really doesn't happen. Now, it's about us maintaining the dynamic we've set in place. 

So how do we do it? 

First, I should explain that we do have a fairly large family, ranging in age from toddler to pre-teen. For privacy reasons, I try not to blog too many details (such as our location, the number and ages of our children, etc), but I'm just trying to paint a picture here. We have enough older children, who are responsible and not little tykes anymore, that having daily moments of privacy is completely reasonable and manageable. It's different if you have a toddler or baby, or little one's that need constant supervision. We're not in that position. Our children do not need constant supervision, as some of the older ones are old enough to stay home alone and help watch their younger siblings. This makes a difference. 

Every single morning, before Jason leaves for work, we have our morning check-in with each other. We do this privately. The kids are downstairs, have had breakfast, and are at the other end of the house. They are safe, because as I've explained, we have older, responsible children and all our children have been taught to give mom and dad a few minutes in the morning together, uninterrupted (barring anything very important, of course), as we plan our day. We've been doing this for a very long time now. They know this is how we do things. But we don't take a long time doing this, either. It takes a few minutes, sometimes a bit longer, but rarely more than five minutes. This is when he goes over my rules. I kneel, he asks me to tell him what he expects of me that day, and he goes over my daily to-do list. He rearranges things, eliminates or adds things if necessary, and I have my daily plan. Then, I go over his knee. We have a variety of implements that are quiet, and have done the “sound” test, so we know any spanking cannot be heard downstairs. Fortunately, we have an older, but solidly-built house, and our room is nearly soundproof. 

He does occasionally smack my bottom in a teasing way, so if our kids ever hear anything, they can chalk it up to dad teasing mom. This has happened. We are confident our kids do not know the details of our dynamic, as we maintain a high level of discretion, at least with the spanking element. 

So we have our morning check-in. I'm set on the right track and so is he, as he likes knowing he's leaving me in a good place before he leaves. 

As the day goes on, I follow my plan. I have it listed in order of priority, tasks I have here at home, things I need to get to, and things I'd like to get to. This is pretty normal stuff, like everyone else likely has. I'm a “type A” kinda gal with a good deal of goals I'm trying to accomplish, so I'm pretty regimented about this myself. I have a whole “monthly goal” list broken down into weekly, then daily, that I tackle day by day. 

Whenever I'm feeling emotional, upset, stressed, etc., it's an expectation here that I'm to go immediately to Jason. However, he's got an intense job and isn't always available. So he expects me to send a text when I'm feeling overwhelmed. I'm not allowed to get to the place where I “lose it.” Not allowed to spiral out of control, lose my temper, hide my feelings or emotions, or anything of the sort. So that's why we have this in place. Now, he can't always respond immediately, but just having that outlet for me to go to when I need to, helps me. And when he can, he responds. 

He does expect me to check in throughout the day, when I can. Some days are very full, and I check in rarely. I love being able to send him positive messages, though, to let him know things are going well, that I'm managing my list, we're having a good day. And some days when things are more challenging, I find the act of messaging him alone often helps me process. And this helps him, too, as he can help me before I spiral out, but he also sees patterns and can help me. Things like, “When you start your day off doing X, I find that you seem to have a hard time getting to Y.” And we can both, together, come up with a better strategy. 

It helps to get even those very very brief messages from him. “You're such a good girl.” “That's my girl. I'm proud of you.” “I miss you.” “I can't wait to see you tonight.” He messages me very short things like that regularly, and I just love it. 

So during the day, that's about the extent of our communication with one another. But it is regular. I'm constantly thinking of what he expects of me, because we've gone over his expectations before he left for work. I know if there are things he really really wants me to do, and I don't get too derailed, because it's not allowed. He's reasonable, of course...if something comes up that's unavoidable, then I need to make the best judgment call I can. But mostly, he expects me to stick to the plan we have at the beginning of the day, and if I don't, he expects a good explanation. 

When he comes home, just like the morning, the kids are expected to give us a brief time together to go over our day. Again, it's just a few minutes, but they do give us privacy. Before anything else gets done. Before we eat dinner. He and I go alone to our room, shut and lock the door, and we go over our day. He checks in with me. Was I able to stay on plan? If not, why not? Did anything come up that he needs to know about? How am I feeling? Is something bothering me? I tell him anything I need to. And he always asks me if there's anything he needs to know...did I break any rules? 

Punishment is mostly very rare. But occasionally, I do have to tell him... I swore. I was late for an appointment and I was speeding. I lost my temper with so-and-so. It happens. If it's a fairly minor infraction, he'll usually have me go over his lap right then, and spank me. If it's more serious, which is even rarer, he'll usually have me wait until the kids are in bed for the night. If I'm getting close to the edge on something, he may issue a stern warning.

Sometimes, I tell him I'm tired, or overwhelmed, or grumpy. He'll tell me he wants me in bed early, or when the kids go to bed, he thinks a good, centering spanking is in order. He'll often ask me how I want to spend my evening, and he'll tell me if there's anything he wants to do, too. Evenings are our down-time, and after our kids go to bed, we usually spend some time together, or doing our own things (like reading). 

What about obeying him in front of our kids, and family? Everyone knows I obey Jason, but out of respect for me, he's discreet in how he handles things. He does not make any bones about calling the shots, but most of the time it's a fairly nonchalant way about things. "No, I don't think we should make that committment. Let's plan a different time instead," he might say, and I'll nod and agree. Or he might say, "Don't forget sunblock when you all go to the beach tomorrow," and sometimes he's quite stern about things. But this is how he is. He leads with kindness, but he is in charge. It's just how he is, and everyone, from our friends, to our kids, to our own parents, know that it works for us. 

Just the other day, I was going for a run, and Jason insisted I go to the gym instead of the small park near my house with a track (where I wanted to go). I was a bit miffed. I wanted to run outside and I told him. I got "the look" and "I said no. It's dangerous and I don't want you there alone." I knew then that the conversation was over. This was in front of our whole family, and they know, this is just how we do things, but it's not unusual for me to tell a friend, "My overprotective husband said I'm not allowed." They laugh, as they know I love my overprotective husband, and he's only overprotective because he loves me. No one ever, ever questions my obedience to him. 

If I push...I'm only human, and occasionally hormonal tendencies make me a bit, er, unreasonable...he will give me a warning, but he's discreet. There's a hand squeeze signal, or he'll say something like, "Do we need to discuss this privately?" I know what he expects. There have even been times when he's stopped me in my tracks with a very discreet number. "That's ten." My stomach plummets and I behave myself as I know exactly what "ten" he means, ten right over his lap. 

We also have a code word, though. If I'm getting overwhelmed or angry or something similar, we thought a few years back it would be helpful to have a code word so I could communicate discreetly with him. However, we never came up with a word, so I literally just say...code word! Ha! Then he knows I need him.

Our children take up a good deal of our time, and that's the way things should be. I love raising a family with Jason. He's such a fantastic father. Our kids just adore him. And he helps me to grow into being the mother I want to be. Every parent knows how it can have a romantic evening planned, and a little knock on the door means you may have to make room in your bed for a little one who had a nightmare. D/S couples are no exception. We frequently have to put down what we have in mind to tend to the needs of our family. This is why we check in with each other at least twice a day, but it's also why our check-in's are so brief, (though, when things heat up, as they are wont to do, it  a can take a little longer! )

In short, we're really just an average couple, who has a pervasive dynamic that's discreet. I wear a collar that looks just like a necklace. I obey him, and he has the right to discipline me, yes, but it all just dovetails with our normal day-to-day. Our dynamic is, indeed, foundational, but, as Jason said, “This is what we do. This is who we are.” Because D/S works for us, and is at center of our relationship, it keeps things going. We have intimacy, and peace. We are able to manage challenges that come up. Our dynamic doesn't preclude all the other things we're called to do. Instead, it helps us fulfill all we're called to do, as we are a team, helping each other grow, as our own relationship flourishes. 

I will forever be grateful we found this when we did.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

"Defy Not the Heart" by Johanna Lindsey (book review)

Good morning! 

In a recent post, I mentioned a book I read that I love. 

Ok, let's put it this way. I read a good deal. This book has made it to my all-time top ten. 

Before I begin my book review, I should explain what I personally like and dislike in a book. It's kind of important, because although I truly, truly loved this book, I find many of the readers I know are looking for something different in a book, so what I like may not appeal to you and I don't want to mislead.

I don't enjoy graphic sex. Now, because the romance and erotica genre are so heavily entwined, it's hard to find a good romance without graphic sex. So I do read these books, but tend to skim if graphic sex comes up. I like the build-up, suspense, range of emotions, and emotional ties to sexual elements in novels. I do not like lengthy, frequent, detailed descriptions of every blessed thing they do behind closed doors. I'm kind of a “fade to gray” kind of girl. Everything else just makes me squirm. Interestingly, that's kind of how I feel about spanking (in real life and in fiction, ha! I think I enjoy the build-up more than the actual action). 

So when I read, I'm looking for a good story. I don't like it to be all about sex and spanking. Books like that leave me feeling dissatisfied. I mean no disrespect to those who write and read the d/s genre (I write and read the genre myself!), but personally, I was much more drawn to spanking fiction when I didn't have much spanking in my personal life. Now that I do, I'm not as drawn to it, and went for several years intentionally avoiding books with any kind of spanking in it. Now I'm starting to explore the genre a bit more, though most of the fiction I read is not in the d/s sub-genre.

I like strong, relatable, well-rounded characters. When books are all about sex, or all about spanking, and there's no real relationship involved, I simply don't enjoy it. I'm in it for the entertainment factor. I want something I can relate to. And I appreciate well-written novels. 

Defy Not the Heart, by Johanna Lindsay, fits the bill. It was a surprisingly excellent read. I don't recall ever reading medieval romance before, but it was thoroughly enjoyable. The book has been around for a good long while, as have most of Johanna Linday's many novels, so I'm a bit behind the eight-ball here. But I fully intend on delving into her other fictional works. I read a review that said “I don't understand why she feels the need to have most of her heroines spanked,” and I thought, “well then, sign me up.”

There aren't many books that I find make me laugh out loud, pull my heartstrings, are hot but not graphic, and get a good spanking in. This book did all of the above. 

The book takes place in the medieval time period. Reina's father has died, leaving her with a sketchy hint of a betrothal to protect her, yet she isn't actually betrothed to anyone. She's a glorious spit-fire. Strong-willed but not silly or foolish, in charge, but only because she has to be, passionate, witty, and I absolutely loved her. She has her entire kingdom to manage, yet given the legal ramifications, she must wed. 

Our hero, Ranulf, is hired by a man posing as her betrothed. Ranulf has been hired to kidnap her and bring her to her supposed betrothed. But when Reina discovers this plot, she uses her wit and manages to convince Ranulf to marry her instead. And therein begins the adventure. 

They don't exactly hate each other, but they certainly don't love each other. They're complete strangers, really. I love novels where I say to myself, “I can't possibly imagine these two falling in love” and yet they do. As the novel unfolds, and the two are thrust into a utilitarian union, both ignorant to all that marriage entails, a truly beautiful story is born. They learn who the other is. They learn to compromise. They find passion, and companionship. And yes...she ends up over his knee. Ahem. 

When they make their marital contract, Reina makes Ranulf promise he will not beat her. Given the time frame, husbands were well within their rights to beat their wives if they saw fit. In fact, when the marital arrangements are proposed, the friar marrying them and the men witnessing the union, gasp in shock that she dare to be so bold as to insist Ranulf not beat her. He's fairly angry himself. This can be shocking to a modern reader, but it's the way things were in this time period. However, the first inkling that Ranulf is a spanker comes at the end, when they've forged their contract. 

“We are agreed now and can finish this business, but do you understand one thing more, little general. You may have protected yourself from ever feeling my fist, but do you ever deserve it, your backside will become acquainted with the palm of my hand. You will not feel free to provoke me at your will.” 

She isn't happy, but abides by this compromise, as she really has no choice. He expects her obedience, and she will give him that obedience, because she knows it's her duty as his wife. It's what's expected. 

And I think that's perhaps what I really loved about this book. She didn't compromise on who she was. She was still strong-willed, but not foolish. She respected him as the rightful authority over her home, her lands, and herself. She deferred to him, but he assumed his position in authority with grace. He was a stern, uncompromising authority figure – she doesn't see him laugh or even smile for quite some time – but he takes his place of authority, because that's who he is. A protector. Fearless. He's a knight. 

She doesn't constantly defy him. In fact, it's quite the opposite, and I enjoyed how she learns who he is, and how she will find her place with him. She learns to respect him, and he earns her respect. He learns she has needs of her own, and he meets those needs. Truly, it's a story of compromise and love, the foundation of any good marriage. 

There isn't a lot of spanking, but there's a good deal of build-up to the one spanking, and the scene is incredibly well done. Of all the many, many spanking scenes I've come across, I have to say this is the best one I've ever read. 

She's defied him. She didn't intend to initially, but then makes the decision, deciding it's in his best interest that she go against his wishes, and welcome his father into their home. Ranulf is infuriated at her outright disobedience, and finally tells her what she's in for. 

“What I am is far beyond my quota of patience, lady,” he growled in reply, “You have just earned yourself a chastisement long overdue.” ….She expected to be dragged back to their chamber for her punishment this instant, or to be pulled across his lap right there on the stairs. She certainly could not blame him...

But they have company, and her punishment must wait. The build up is so well done. When they have a pause after breakfast, he takes her by the arm and brings her upstairs, and I did love this scene. He sits on the edge of the bed, and commands her to come and lie down and lift her skirts. She is embarrassed, and says, 

“You mean to humiliate me as well?” He responds, “Humiliation is the foundation of this lesson. You will forget the discomfort right quickly, but the humiliation you will long remember.” 

How true!

However, they are interrupted, and he promises her he's decided he will make her wait for her punishment until the evening. As the day progresses, she thinks he's forgotten. She thinks she's gotten away with it. But we find out later that is far from true. 

When he finally brings her to the room at the end of the day, and he is preparing to punish her, she knows she has no real choice. She knows she's earned the punishment, as it's not permissable to be the lady of the castle wed to the lord, and defy him. She struggles, though, and this is why I love the scene. She does not want to be punished. She's embarrassed, and a bit afraid. He's strong, and much larger than she is, and she's never been punished like this before. But she knows resistance is futile. So she overcomes the quaking in her stomach and raw nerves, and makes herself submit. She stands in front of him. 

“A wise decision,” he said as he sat down again and drew her onto his lap...That he was not being rough with her, or sharp in his tone, only seemed to make it worse. His voice was husky, his hands gentle as he turned her over so that she rested across his thighs. Reina dropped her head down to hide her face, and placed one hand against the bed, the other on his left knee. Did she feel the need to push herself out of this horrible position, she would have the leverage. Or so she thought. His left hand, coming to rest in the center of her back in a subtle pressure, seemed to say otherwise. 

But then it's not just a thorough chastisement. He makes it into a very real, but very erotic experience. 

Alarm bells of a different sort went off in her head when he began to raise her robe. He did it by setting his hand on the back of her calf and slowly gliding that hand up her leg, the robe perforce coming with it. 'Twas a caress, plain and simple, and gave her the strangest sensations. Her body no longer knew what to anticipate, pain or pleasure. Her mind was reeling with the same confusion. Was this a punishment? 

But it is real, very real, and although he takes means to arouse her, when it comes down to it, he is thoroughly displeased with her behavior, and makes this very clear. He takes her by surprise, and although the spanking is short, it is effective, intended to be punitive.

“Reina was set on her feet, which were not at all steady. A glance at her husband showed how furious he had become, to which her bottom could well attest. His next words only confirmed it.

“Do not ever make me do that again, lady,” he growled low. She shook her head, but she was not sure whether she was saying she would or not. Not that it mattered to her then. Her backside was on fire, but it blazed not half as much as that other fire he had created. Without another thought, Reina crawled back onto his lap.

“I am duly chastised, my lord. Now finish what else you started.” 
He did not have to be asked twice. 

What a wonderfully written scene. It's climactic, in a sense, because he confirms his authority over her, and the love-making is also a turning point in their relationship. We find now it's not just about curiosity, or to fulfill base needs, but because they truly have fallen in love with one another, as she assumes her position as his strong counterpart and he assumes his as lord of the castle.

I loved everything about this book. The story, the intimacy, the way they fall in love. His authority, and how we see he has a tender side he is slow to reveal, but he's fiercely loyal and fearless. I love the knights, and castles, the dresses and language. There are parts I laughed out loud, especially when they finally declare their love for one another, screamed across the courtyard in the midst of an argument. 

If you want a lengthy story, with real characters, a story you can sink your teeth into, with a bit of well-written otk, I'd urge you to pick up this book. I checked it out on the Overdrive app from my library, but loved it so much, I bought it, as this is one of the few I will read again and again. 

You've also gotta love the original cover. Bestill my heart!