Thursday, June 23, 2016


I have had very little interest in wondering about other planets and what life might be like on them, until I began reading my first sci-fi novel, 'The Book of Fabulous New Things' by Michael Faber. It's not strictly sci-fi in that Faber has mixed genres and what the book seems to be offering (I am at the half-way mark) is not so much an alternative world as an effort to have the reader think about life on this planet Earth, about devotion and duty to another person, and about the endurance of love. That's my sense of it so far.

Although I can't say I am particularly enjoying the read so far, it's got so much potential to have a searing effect on the reader in the long run that I am reading on into the very long novel with confidence that it won't be a waste of my time. Already, I find myself questioning the way things are done here; how much we assume is okay, when maybe it isn't all that okay after all.

Wintertime, I've worn a pair of boots a number of times. I'm not sure why it was yesterday, as I was walking along in a park, that it suddenly dawned on me that my old tried and true black boots with a medium heel suddenly didn't look right to my eye. I came home and scanned my boots and shoes and noticed that some toes were round and some toes had a short square toe, like the ones I was wearing. I sorta knew that on some level in that I gave away a very obviously square toed ankle book at the beginning of winter. But, that all the boots on women in the streets were round toed was something that had escaped my attention.

I have no difficulty in parting with clothing and footwear that has been well worn, but this turn in what was 'in fashion' threw me because it meant that a few pairs of footwear were suddenly unwearable, when they had plenty of life left in them. I expressed my annoyance to those who would listen, my sons. My eldest son assured me that square toed footwear was not to be worn, whilst my youngest son assured me that the fashion police didn't actually exist.

'But, they do, they do!' I replied.

These sudden changes in fashion styles are nothing new, of course; simply an old but brilliant ploy to get us to ditch perfectly good items in order to buy new ones. Whilst this has always been the case, I've more or less absolved myself from the game by maintaining a classic dress style. A classic black skirt is a classic black skirt and whilst my 20 year old black woolen jacket is currently having its shoulder span taken in, even the dressmaker who happily tells me to ditch things and buy a replacement agreed that the jacket was too good to throw away. Yes, she would remodel it. Oh joy!

I am realistic enough to accept that we can't change the culture too much, or too fast, or maybe not at all. Although, some people do simply ignore culture. I've a lovely girlfriend who gives the entire thing a miss; no makeup, long straight hair and jeans. Her idea of getting gad up is to change into a pair of black slacks. I think she's great. But, it's the sort of bravery that most of us are not up to; certainly not me.

Back in the day when plans were being put in place to contain me; something that thrilled me, I agreed to cull my wardrobe. The idea is/was that now that there was much less in the wardrobe, anything bought required that something be thrown away. It didn't entirely work for me. I'd see something gorgeous and impulsively get it, particularly if it was on sale. I worked on the basis of one in/one out, mostly, but there was something missing in the equation, a sort of ambivalence about the philosophy behind it. I hadn't quite taken it into my soul.

I think it goes like this, that I am surrounded every day by people with shopping bags in their arms, people who almost live to shop; daily emails telling me about sales; SALE notices in the largest letters screaming at me from store windows. It is almost our religion here on Earth: shop til you drop. And thus, from time to time the rule is broken. Sorta: if they can do it, why can't I?

I am, in fact, the opposite of a bower bird. I detest clutter. I can't function with stuff around me and this sense of wanting to live with space around me, space to breathe, just gets more and more intense. As I say to my husband, everything should be in its place and if there isn't a place for it, maybe we don't need to own it. He finds me excessively concerned about this matter which makes my relationship with my first born all the more important because he thinks I'm not minimalist enough.

I read a statement lately that suggested that we not talk to  the exterior - people, dressed and preened - but that we talk to their souls. It's an extraordinary thought, I think; that there might be another planet, another way to live, where there were no stores; no attempts to convince others, and yourself, that you're more special than another person because you have a fancy car and/or house, a Facebook account that highlights your overseas trips, or the latest Prada bag.

I love beautiful things and I love to look good, so I'd miss the opportunity to own some lovely things to wear, but excess is, well, it's excessive. Imagine if our philosophy here on Earth was 'Buy what you need.' Imagine if the culture looked down on those with excess. It's kinda happening right now; a moral concern with foodies obsessed with the latest fad when millions of people in the world are starving.

As one individual in a large world I feel that the only control I have is over myself; to monitor what I own and do with those items I no longer need; to use the food that I buy and not allow it to go to waste; to be a better role model for the children on these matters than I have been in the past; to recognize that we in some way are feeding the insecurities of our souls and hearts by over buying and obsessively wanting more.

I think this is where the awareness notion comes into play. If we are asking ourselves why we want the new dress or the expensive restaurant meal, we are at least taking the time to explore our reasons for the desire. With winter in full swing I'm aware of my sweet tooth demanding my attention and that's when I have to use self discipline to deny myself that which I don't need. Thank goodness for Jazz apples.

There is something about my submissive mind that likes to be contained and that feels out of sorts when there is too much allowed. I know deep down that happiness doesn't come to me via possessions but rather a sense of connection to those I love. This is what makes the power exchange dynamic special for me; containment and connection; happiness.

Friday, June 17, 2016


A power exchange dynamic is best explained in my life as the full expression of my entity. It wasn't anybody else's idea, but rather the instinctive and natural side of my nature needing to be expressed. The element of me that sought to be challenged and stretched, to be connected to someone who sought to challenge and stretch, sat there, just slightly under my skin.

I knew this at the same time as I lacked awareness. I felt the stirrings of desire when watching moments in a movie or reading certain scenes in a book. I felt more alive when not treated so much as a woman whom one treated with respect, but rather when I was tested to tap into some inner strength to step up. Respect is a required element of any valuable transaction, of course, but I innately understood that when I was asked to mine down to my personal power, I somehow rose up and became my best self.

Words struggle to express the ineffable; the reason why I keep on writing on here, doggedly trying to achieve the impossible. When I am spanked and taken right up to and beyond my pain limits, it helps me to rise up to be my best self. Comfort is not my enemy but at the same time it is hard to imagine always being comfortable. I find a certain comfort in struggle; a reminder that I am alive and that blood flows through these veins; that my lifeforce is still very much with me.

For the past few weeks there has been a more physical life within the marriage. He's wanted to spank me and test me and those challenges take me down to a very minimal space where the responses are quite out of my control. I'm a puppet with strings; strings that need to be pulled. This, I love.

In the midst of a discussion with some women lately we got onto the topic of the 'Outlander' series.  I couldn't resist speaking of the spanking scene. Claire had disobeyed Jamie and not stayed where he told her to stay. Her actions put not only Jamie but all his men at risk. If it had only been him that had been put at risk, her 'sorry' would have been enough, he told her, but it was important that the men knew that she was punished, and thus she'd need to be spanked. He removed the leather belt that held up his sporan and after much chasing, did the deed. I was laughing away as I told the story, as were some of the women, but one woman looked horrified.

'And, you continued to watch?'

She was absolutely aghast.

'Well, yes.' (I wanted to say, 'I was transfixed'.)

Then, she turned on me.

'Oh, so you like a bit of the rough stuff, do you?'

For a moment, our eyes met, and I considered for a split second answering her by telling her the truth. However, I chose to do what I nearly always do when met with rudeness, I just remained silent. The group quickly moved on, as if it hadn't happened.

It has to be said, I'm not fond of being punished, but, yes, it has happened, in various ways. Whilst I am not fond of it, in fact deplore it, I do recognize it as part of the dynamic. It's tricky. The moment one feels unfairly treated (as did Claire) the heckles go up, but at the same time it's hard to feel bedded down in the dynamic without clarification of expectations.

There are a variety of factors that make for a situation where the natural flow of energy between two people is less at certain times. For one thing, we can't always operate at top gear. We would be sapped of energy, the energy that comes from within us and that is our engine; distracted from other important elements of our lives.

Yet, in a union where there is a natural dominant personality and a natural submissive personality, and where one needs the other in order to have an exchange or flow of energy, it never dies out completely. There is always an ember that can ignite. This knowledge is very important to me. It is what keeps me feeling safe and wrapped in affection; youthful and able to live a passionate life. It is what reminds me that I'm in this power exchange relationship for the long haul.

Monday, June 13, 2016

ADD and Chronic Fatigue: A possible connection

One way people enter this web journal is through a google search of the words chronic fatigue. It must surely be well down on the reading options for this subject material on the Internet, however I can understand the comprehensive search for answers when this condition affects one's life, or the life of a loved one. I therefore take this opportunity to express my own thoughts about the condition of chronic fatigue which may or may not be applicable to the particular reader searching for answers. It's just something to consider.

My husband developed chronic fatigue quite late in his life, in his mid 50s. My brother developed the condition in his 40s. A friend's daughter developed the condition in her late 20s. Mothers have told me of their school children being diagnosed with chronic fatigue. The condition can hit at just about any stage of life. It's important to be aware of this fact and to understand that there are a number of theories devised by medical practitioners. The jury is still very much out about how it develops.

I could make some comments based on observations of what I know about those other people, but the person I am most close to, and who I know more intimately than anyone else in the world is my husband. I am therefore going to narrow down my thinking about chronic fatigue based on what I have observed in him. I'll leave it to the reader to interpret if anything here is worthy of exploration in your own particular case.

My husband had a number of obstacles with which to contend in his early life. He is adamant, and I believe him, that he had a happy childhood. He lost his mother to cancer in his mid teens, a devastating blow, but he did have, in his mind, a happy life with her, his father and his siblings on the farm. There is no question in my mind that she was a most loving mother. I have met no-one who knew her, and I have met many people who knew her, who has not said that she was a wonderful person, an absolute delight of a human being, and that she loved her children most dearly.

However, she had her own challenges on the farm, physical and emotional ones, and there is no doubt that with four children to raise on top of all the other work, some issues relating to her children were likely to be missed. My husband's father had some lovely qualities but he was an anxious person with his own set of personality challenges which meant that as a parent he had some failings. As well, my husband grew up in an era where checks for children were not comprehensive and nor did they really know what to do with children who didn't check all the behavioural boxes. Hence, a difficulty with learning to read together with some distractibility and impulsivity may have induced some concern and anxiety, but intervention was not sought. Add a boarding school situation at a tender age to this mix where bullying of softer, sensitive natures was not only tolerated but almost encouraged, and you have the hallmarks of anxiety in the making.

In spite of personal challenges, my husband had/has unstoppable determination to succeed. He went to university and completed a Bachelor degree, started a Masters until he was offered a position he couldn't refuse, and in later life went on to obtain an MBA at our city's most prestigious university. He's no dummy. He held a very high position in his field of choice in the USA and thereafter pursued and ran/runs his own businesses back in Australia.

However, short of some sort of huge major financial success in his life I don't think it is likely that he will ever stop feeling that he has underachieved. He continually carries with him a sense that he could have done better and could have achieved more.  The cocktail of an anxious person with a perfectionist state of mind is a dangerous mix. I don't see it as a co-incidence that immediately prior to being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue that he had been through a particularly anxious and stress induced year where he had missed hundreds of hours of sleep.

My husband hates labels and I accept that they are confining and limiting, but if one had to use a label, do the characteristics of 'Attention Deficit Disorder' mean something to you?

Are you thought of as distractable; someone who can focus on something you enjoy for long periods of time, but who doesn't focus much at all on the aspects of life that don't sustain your interest or attention? Do you, or did you have some difficulty with learning to read, causing you considerable hardship during your childhood? Do you feel that you are underachieving based on your understanding of your abilities? Are you inclined to be impulsive? Do you blurt out hurtful things to your spouse or children or co-workers, but you didn't mean to hurt them? Do you find yourself saying sorry a lot because in time you can see that you have hurt people? Is it kinda hard for you to wait your turn, or  to allow someone to finish talking because you so want to express further your own point of view?

Think about living with these characteristics minute by minute. I know personally that living with someone with these behaviours is not without its challenges, and I am sure it is sometimes hard to live in your own skin if you have ADD, or ADHD. Chances are high the person in question is tense a good deal of the time; that life may be more complicated day by day than for the person who does not have to contend with these challenges. Perhaps the need to achieve tasks to their satisfaction takes longer than it does the person who does not have these characteristics, keeping the person up late. Perhaps, some innate understanding that dopamine is much higher when a person gets no sleep means that they pull an 'all nighter' every now and again when another person would rather almost anything else than to have to stay awake all night.

Now, imagine that things start to fall apart in some way in your life; perhaps you hit an emotional brick wall. It could be a career disappointment, or a financial decision made impulsively, or a spouse who struggles with the sense of loneliness in the marriage or chaos in the management of life, or one simply feels inside oneself that life isn't going so well and doesn't have a clue what or why is causing these feelings and outcomes.

Now, have a read of this article. Consider this. There may be a possible link between ADD and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Unsurprisingly to me, some people find that their Chronic Fatigue improves significantly when they are given medication to assist with undiagnosed ADD. In my husband's particular case, he has persistently refused to consider the possibility that he may have ADD. Hence, treating the chronic fatigue in this way was never an option.

Some years later since being diagnosed with chronic fatigue, my husband's condition is more or less cured. So, what did he do? First, he slept a lot. That was the first strategy. His body demanded it. He then stayed on alone at the holiday house for about 10 days and pottered on his own schedule. That helped. He had his vitamins and minerals checked by way of blood tests and had vitamin injections for those vitamins that were low in his body. He continues to monitor himself and takes supplements daily. He supplemented his sodium intake after much personal research and with a sense that he was short of sodium. He ate and eats very well, lots of vegetables and protein. He saw a doctor who understood alternative therapies and this man spent a few hours with him. I think the best piece of information that he gave him was to show him how to relax using a few simple hypnosis and meditation strategies. Bit by bit, the brain fogginess got better; the pain in his legs went. It took a couple of years, but with time he recovered.

The hardest thing has been to convince him that he needs to get regular sleep and regular relatively gentle exercise . I personally think that he is chasing dopamine by staying up late and that this is a self-induced therapy for the ADD, but I'm no doctor. I've just been observing the man for the past 40 something years.

More than anything, I think that my change in approach to him has aided him. I did the following things:

- I keep my beliefs to myself (and by God it feels good to get it out here). He just doesn't want to know much about what I uncover. He'll be happy to live out his life without any sort of official diagnosis of his ADD. Fine. I accept that. I can't change it.

- I have huge respect for him, regardless of his quirks. He is loving. He is loyal. He is good to me, to his children and his wider family. He is hard working.  He won't ever let us down. He's a good man and the centre of my life.

- I try now, extremely hard I might add, to not take his outbursts personally. He's going to always talk over me at times, to be annoyed when I disagree with him or express my own views that are contrary to his. He is not going to respond well when he feels overwhelmed or when I express upset, even if that's the slightest change in tone of voice. It's hard for him to contain his emotional state, and since he is more or less forced to do that out in the world, I get that he will emote at home. I might say, 'Why are you shouting at me?' to try to get him to self-correct  and to lower his voice, but I've learned to keep a very tight lid on my own emotional state and to take less and less time to get over my internal upset privately.

- After wads of reading on the topic I came to see that it is vital not to tap into such a person's sense of shame or of feeling overwhelmed. People with ADD have weathered many storms of being put down by others in their lives - parents, teachers and spouses all play into this sense of shame. With their high expectations of themselves, and their quirks of nature which make some issues of life difficult, your criticisms of their efforts will be overwhelming for them. They will be hurt and feel misunderstood. It will help nothing and nobody.

- The following strategies are very important: Don't engage in important or difficult conversations late at night. If you need to talk about something important or something you want to achieve that involves their input or decision making, have a face to face conversation at the most opportune time, no distractions or preoccupations. Don't talk about past mistakes. Don't make them feel guilty. Just ask for their assistance to make whatever it is you want or need happen. Be upbeat, co-operative, kind and positive.

In the midst of my husband's illness I read a long paper by a specialist in chronic fatigue. Sorry, right now all I remember is that her first name was Sarah and she lives in the UK. She's treated hundreds of people over decades and the pattern she has identified was that all her patients were Type A. Whether you or your loved one has undiagnosed ADD or not, a consideration of Type A characteristics (and possible anxiety resulting from this personality type), and what that may mean to your health and emotional state isn't a bad place to start your re-evaluation of how you live your life and whether this is making for your chronic fatigue state. I wish you the very best.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Navigating our inner worlds

A  Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara came to my attention this week. In an effort to make a decision as to whether to purchase a copy of the novel I am reading reviews by people who have read it. Goodreads is a great site for this sort of thing. One reader listed the many things he liked about the novel and the things he didn't like about the novel. On the negative side, he mentioned that he found something narcissistic about a story that only detailed the landmarks of the characters' lives and not the landmarks of the historical time period. As an example, the characters were living through the 2001 time period and yet there is no mention of the economic downturn or of 9/11.

Obviously I can't yet have an opinion as to whether not including a more external world for the characters to inhabit was a good idea or not, but I am wondering about this strategy in a more general sense. For example, I rarely mention the world at large in this web journal, perhaps thinking it more appropriate not to do so. I doubt anybody cares about my opinion of the American Presidential election, for example, even though I follow the events quite closely and was thrilled for Hillary Clinton to finally have the Democratic Party nomination. She is more than qualified for the job. She is level headed with an overwhelming desire to do good. And, as I see it, there's no viable choice. But, that's an aside. The world I present here is my internal world, by and large unconcerned with the material world just outside my door.

As I think back to Nora Webster, Colm Toibin directs his focus to Nora's inner world, and the world of her family; her private life. She goes to work and we learn of the office politics, giving us a greater understanding of the substance of Nora, but by and large, that's about as far as it goes. Certainly, we learn of the slow explosion of Ireland through what Nora sees on the television. We understand that just beyond the borders of Enniscorthy there lies an unreliable and conflicting world, but it's backdrop to the story. Our concern is Nora; what she thinks, who she is, and the decisions she makes.

I wonder if it holds any importance for a reader here to know my physical world; perhaps my choice of clothing or the kind of furniture in my house. Co-incidentally, I happened to read a short piece of writing this morning that suggested that we should be aware of the energy in used objects before we buy them, and this resonated since I often have a reaction to an pre-owned object that compells me not to buy it.

I am at this moment sitting at a dining table that we bought from a newly divorced woman in Connecticut who was moving to New York City, thirty-five years now. She told us that her family had sat around it for many happy and momentous occasions and she asked us to take good care of it. It's always had a good vibe and we've never considered replacing it. But, it's rare for me to feel this way about pre-owned objects. Somehow, on a visceral level, I understand this idea of 'energy' that surrounds objects, and people.

If objects give off energy then surely so do people, houses, neighbourhoods, news reports, the weather, the events that surround us as we go about our day. It would be a difficult thing to write about me, or perhaps anyone, without an understanding of how fast my mind thinks, and changes, moment by moment according to my environment. I might look out onto the garden and feel a glow of satisfaction that my lilly pilly hedge has finally begun to mature into a lovely shape but a minute later in walking into the boys' bathroom I may despair that they will ever be aware enough of their own surroundings to want to keep them tidy.

In terms of world events, it can be problematic to ascertain if we come to know more of a person in terms of how they relate to their world at large. I may hear of a sad event on the radio but not allow it to disrupt my day or bring me down. Whilst one interpretation is that that sounds heartless, some people can't afford to take into their soul sad news because to live so close to their skin is too painful. I suspect this is what is happening to my daughter. So much like me, she worries about the children with whom she works. On an intellectual level she knows she can't protect the children once they go home, but she would if she could, and that makes her job hard.

(Note: A day after writing this post a family member found it a part of his job to attend the aftermath of a 20 year old man who had taken his life by jumping in front of a train. I'm 'wearing' this tragedy today. It's hard to take it off and put it away, but with virtually no control or input into the lives of others unknown, we are forced to do this every day of our lives and to content ourselves with making any small impact that we can for the benefit of others.)

I remember the time of 9/11. I remember the following Saturday and talking to parents on the sideline of a childrens' soccor match and that sense of gloom that hung over the world as we talked of an event so far away, and yet we had all been in the building. 'There but for the grace of God go I', we all thought privately, I am sure. There's a natural response to keep your loved ones particularly close at such times.

At about the same time, one of my sons was attacked but the other perpetrators called the man off, thank God. Soon thereafter, someone tried to steal his backpack in the city and by then he'd had enough. He punched the man in the nose and that made him drop the backpack and run off empty handed. Now, these events did have a bearing on his state of mind and how he responds to the world. It's hard for anyone, I think, to relate to events in a meaningful way or for the events to significantly and permanently alter him or her, unless there is some sort of personal experience with those world events. We can feel real empathy and compassion for others going through traumatic experiences but it's hard to crawl inside their skin and their minds unless we've had something akin to that experience ourselves. I think it is why we read, to crawl inside other peoples' skins.

Whilst setting is a fundamental element of story, character development is what matters most in terms of a reading experience, I think. I am quintessentially Australian and that's part of my story, but how important is that to the reader when reading my words in a web journal? I suspect that the reader is more interested in the disgorgement of my mind, wherever it is placed in the world. Maybe I am blonde or brunette, skinny or wide hipped. I don't need to tell you since your imagination will fill in the gaps. You'll put me in a house of your own choosing and surround me with beautiful or garrish objects. This keeps the focus on the words and your engagement and agreement, or not, with the words.

I know that some readers want to be taken to a detailed visual world. It is something that I work on in my novel writing feeling that it has been a weakness, but still there is an instinctual part of me that feels that the intelligent reader does want to use their imagination; to relate on a personal level to the material, or perhaps simply to have a connection to the feelings expressed. It was a mistake, I think, for Hillary to wear that US$12,000 jacket because it takes the focus off her message and onto her personal choices. It says something about her, we figure; something that we'd prefer not to know. It feels like, well, it feels like a poor choice, and we don't want her having poor choices, not given the role she will play in the world. Still, if that's the worst of the choices, there is no harm done. It makes no sense to expect perfect people.

Each of us is made up of a gamut of choices; to be humble, aggressive, assertive, greedy, determined, caring; to impusively make choices for today or to take the long term view. Mistakes are inevitable. We never stop learning, if we choose to learn.  Some people have no interest in personal growth. It is a fact of life.

There is so much writing advice out there but at the end of the day, if you are going to write stories for the enrichment of other people, you just have to tell your story, exposing the complexity of being human in whatever setting your characters happen to live.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Navigating the heart

I've been wondering if it may be the case that some people need constancy more than anything else whilst other people need, well, more than constancy; perhaps more intensity, or more depth, or some growth in their relationship; progression.

I wonder if a Dominant feels some internal calling or signal within himself or herself, to deny that sometimes to the Other, as if there might be too much intensity, or too much depth, or too much if to say, 'I have to pull back now, put on the brakes for a while'.

It's not a disconnection or a pulling away, though it feels like that to the Other. It's some internal mechanism where there can't be change, and growth is change as much as disconnection is change. It's nothing really at all, nothing to worry about, they might say. It's simply things being the same, in their minds. That is, their feelings haven't changed but somehow or other their landscape has changed. Whether it is an internal or exterior landscape, it is hard to say. But, it is some 'calling' in them to resist, to push back a little from the Other.

It's not a dominant behaviour necessarily. I suspect submissives could feel this way as well, an instinct to go and rest, or ponder alone, or become immersed in anything other than the Other.
Or, that's the way it feels.

I think people sometimes do in fact alter almost unwittingly and this confuses the Other. Something has changed, but it's hard to grab the change, or to understand the change. If a discussion does ensue eventually, the Other is assured there is no change in feelings. And yet, there is some sort of intangible, unexplained change. There is a distraction. There is a felt distance,  but whether it is designed and arbitrary, or an unconscious thing, it is hard to say.

Perhaps there is a Truth in all of this, that as people connected to other people, we move closer and then move further apart, perhaps with no particular design or logic to this 'feathering'. They are imperceptible adjustments as we navigate our way through life determining a path for ourselves; sometimes solitary and slightly further apart from those we love until the next adjustment when we reconnect.

The 'feathering' of a  rowing boat is a series of minor adjustments so as to reduce air or water resistance. The boat remains steady. The constant and steady emotion of a committed relationship is love, in spite of conscious or unconscious adjustments.

Someone once had the urge to write these song lyrics: 'Rock the boat, don't tip the boat over'. We navigate one another alongside our own needs and desires. We are constantly learning about how best to sail the seas of the human heart.