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I resolve…

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Jan 2, 2016 in introspection, Personal growth

This year, my focuses include…

-Make the most of the time that I’ve been given, whether it’s going out with friends, making love with a partner, engaging fully in my work, or taking care of myself by relaxing and listening to music. Every moment is precious – nothing is a waste if it’s about enhancing the quality of my life.

-Tell my partners the things that I’m afraid to say. Whether it’s that I love them, or that I want to do something different, or that I don’t agree with them, it’s important that I tell them. Opening ourselves up (as scary as that might be, especially for those of us that have a history of folks being un-trustworthy in our lives) is one of the greatest keys to creating the intimacy with our partners that so many of us want.

-Love my body more fully. The moments of self-criticism will come, but I can move past them and re-embrace my body. I don’t have to live in a space where I am cataloging the ways that it’s not ideal; instead, I can live in a space where I acknowledge the joy my body brings me, I can feel the strength of the strong parts and be compassionate and loving with the weaker parts. I can let myself off the hook for the things that I can’t do, and embrace more fully the things that I can.

-Lean towards others. The loneliest feelings come when we feel that we’re the only person that feels the way that we feel, or that we feel more broken, more ill, more wrong than other folks. Yet, we are all human, and we all experience doubt, fear, sadness, depression, uncertainty…just as we all have moments of joy, of peace, of happiness, of love, of tranquility. When we are willing to lean towards our friends (or another trusted person), we often are reminded that not only are we not alone, but that we will survive this moment, because they see us and they have felt it and they, too, have survived.

-Practice compassion. This seems to be a recurring lesson – or perhaps, it’s a lesson whose perspective has changed every year. Practicing compassion towards myself means that I treat myself with the love, the understanding, the grace, and the kindness that I treat my most beloved friends with. It means that I look for the core of humanity in others, and I do what I can to encourage and support them in their own love of themselves. And it means that, on the days where everything is awful, I remember that it is not a statement of worth, but an experience and a set of feelings that will both pass, in time.

I find that , often, resolutions dry up and drift away like dust, or they become weapons that we wield in order to further beat ourselves up. Instead, I’d like to think of these as themes for the coming year – lessons that I look to learn, experiences that I want to have, and ideals for how I make decisions for myself. And so, in that theme, I hope that each of you have a few ideas of things that you’d like to attend to in the coming year – things that you want to grow, to nurture, to adjust, and to reap, to bring you even more love, joy, and wisdom.

Happy new year!

 
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The Poly Manifesto; or, a treatise on how Sarah does non-monogamy

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Nov 26, 2013 in communication, introspection, Polyamory, relationships

I talk about having written this in some of my poly / non-monogamy workshops, and occasionally I get asked for a copy. I review this every year or so to make sure that it’s still the framework for my relationship decision making; so far, it’s held up to that review for about 6 years. I’m posting it here primarily for folks who want to create their own mission statement (or manifesto, if you’re being very Marx-ish), so they can see what someone else has put together and hopefully take some inspiration on topics or concepts.

respect-and-relationship-quotes-1

 

Sarah’s Poly Manifesto

1. I am responsible for my own life, my own happiness, and my own well being. That responsibility for myself must take precedence in my life; if I cannot take care of myself, then I have no way of taking care of or being a support for anyone else.

2. No matter how many partners I may have, I still need to be ok with being by myself. Nobody can live in a constant state of companionship, and I am the one that has to look at myself in the mirror and be happy with what and who I see reflected back at me.

3. I will generally not make agreements in relationships that do not permit me to express myself in a way that feels authentic to me. If I do, then I am prone to resentment if it continues.

4. When it comes down to it, each relationship is important and deserves to be treated with the same consideration and respect as any other relationship. Classifying relationships as more or less important is likely to lead to frustration and neglect.

5. I embrace a hierarchy of needs, as opposed to a hierarchy of people. If I’m on a date night with one partner, and another partner calls with an emergency, my decision of who to be with will be based on where the need is greatest. Likewise, I expect to give my partners the same consideration and not make their decisions more difficult by doing anything less than supporting them.

6. I embrace sexual responsibility. I make my rules about safer sex behavior in conjunction with my other partners, but I do not let them make my final determination about what is appropriate. I am clear with new partners what my rules are, and I advise current partners of any changes in either the people I am having sex with or my decisions regarding my safer-sex practices, so that they can make appropriate decisions for themselves.

7. I do not believe in a “veto” per se; I expect that if I have issues with someone that one of my partners is dating, I will be able to talk to that partner and have my concerned listened to, but I also believe that respect goes both ways and I should respect their decision unless it creates major chaos and drama.

8. I don’t want or need additional chaos in my life. My main request of my ongoing partners is that they not bring anyone into my personal life that will create more chaos or strife.

9. I do not automatically share my partners. Sex or play with me does not involve anyone else, necessarily, unless that has been negotiated separately. I also generally am not interested in dating people who are already engaged in a relationship; I prefer to not date a relationship, as the dynamic doesn’t feel manageable for me.

10. I engage in some relationships that include an ongoing power dynamic. However, no relationship that involves a power dynamic with me should be interpreted as having any power dynamic in any other direction with any of my other partners.

11. The things that will win my heart are the same things that I anticipate offering a partner – patience, honesty, generosity of spirit, humor, candidness, trust, and honor. The things that will lose my heart are abuse of trust, dishonesty, selfishness, irresponsible sexual practices, and lack of consideration.

 
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Subversively Sex Positive

Posted by Sarah Sloane on May 25, 2011 in Articles, introspection, Polyamory, Queer, relationships

Photo courtesy of Bixentro from Flickr

I love doing what I like to refer to as “subversive sex positivity”. It’s the integrating of sex, gender, and orientation-positive concepts into our daily language and actions. It’s the act of informing people about alternative gender and sexuality without preaching (or often even explicitly telling them). It’s the process of normalizing things that most of our culture does not see as normal, simply by treating them as such. And it’s a great way to carry the message of healthy sexual expression out into the world in ways that don’t target us. I’ve made a list of some of the ways that I’ve seen others do this…

1. Ask people what pronoun they prefer, what they refer to their partner as, and how they label (or choose not to label) their relationship. Even if the answers are exactly what you expect that they’ll be, by asking them you show them that you respect them and wish to use words and phrases that are appropriate and welcoming – and you may even end up with them asking you WHY you said that, which gives you a chance to talk about non-normative sexuality & relationships.

2.Separate gender and sex. “He” does not necessarily have a penis, and “She” may not have a vagina. Using terms like “girl parts”, especially around people who may be transgender or non-gender normative can leave them feeling left out and disrespected. And before you say you don’t know anyone who is trans…how do you know you don’t?

3. Use correct terms. It’s a vagina, a vulva, a penis, a clitoris, a prostate, a scrotum. There is plenty of room to use slang terms, but when we’re trying to be clear in our communication, using accurate terms helps.

4. If you’re corrected about something sex or gender related, apologize and move on. If you say “he” and are told that the person with whom you’re speaking prefers “she”, then just say “thank you for telling me” and use the pronoun or name that you’re asked to use. Most people are happy if you do your best to use their preferred names or pronouns (especially if you knew them when they were going by another name), and an apology and a renewed effort to be consistent is the most respectful thing you can do.

5. Make no assumptions. Just because someone has a penis doesn’t mean they like to use it to have sex, or even like it touched. Just because someone has a vagina doesn’t mean they want to be penetrated. Not every gay man likes to receive anal sex. Not every woman has problems with orgasms. Not every man is able to have them in the way that our culture says they should. Allow people the space and room to define their own desires, and the support they would like (if any) in speaking out about it…as well as their right to privacy, should they not feel the need to tell you.

6. Even if you don’t “get it”, don’t shame it. Many people who are happily monogamous don’t understand on a personal level why or how someone can have multiple relationships. Some people don’t understand how anyone could be attracted to someone of the same gender. And some people don’t understand how anyone could be happy having missionary position sex. You don’t have to understand it – but ideally, you will choose to respect their choice and support them in it.

 
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The Reinvention of the Wheel of Life…

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Dec 3, 2010 in communication, introspection, relationships

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned this year is that I’m still not too old to change.

When it comes to kink, I’d been through a couple of “drought” years – well, not a drought, but in comparison, far below my previous history and my desires. I sort of knew it was happening, and had simple reasons why (and even simpler attempts to change it, which didn’t work well)…but in the end it comes down to this: I was afraid.

I tend towards having ongoing relationships with people I play with; not necessarily that of a lover (though sometimes that’s the case) but certainly a friendship with an extra dollop of respect. And when I have an ongoing relationship with someone – I make myself vulnerable. I can’t do it any other way – especially when the quality of our interactions are laced with the dynamic of power, I have to share some of the essence of who I am with someone in order to have the depth of experience that I crave.

But being vulnerable means being open to both the pleasure, and the pain, of intimacy. It means that the words “I like you” and “you could have done better” strike me more deeply. It means that I run the risk of being hurt. And I’m a Capricorn – stubborn, calculating, scheming, ever feeling the need to control my environment…so running that risk is scary as hell for me.

I have been fighting that for the past few years. I’ve had a few relationships with people (some still going) where I knew that I was holding myself back from being as present with them as I could be. I can sort of tie it into a few relationships that ended in ways that I would have chosen otherwise, but the reality is that I have pushed myself back from the world to avoid the bumps and bruises of wrestling with real life relationships.

It came to a head this spring. Read more…

 
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A Meditation on Gratitude

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Nov 28, 2010 in introspection

I have a home. It’s warm, there are lights and appliances, and there is clean running water. I have blankets for my bed, clothing to wear, and food in the cupboards.

I have work that I value. I believe that the work that I do makes a difference, and knowing that makes me feel fulfilled.

I have friends. Some of them are very close, some of them I see or speak to only occasionally, but I do not have to hide who I am from them in order to be their friend. I am honored that some of them share all of who they are with me, and trust me with their stories.

I have the company of animals that are affectionate, trusting, and call on me to be a responsible caretaker of them on a daily basis.

I have lovers – some of whom are constantly present in my life, some of whom that I see only on occasion. They all inspire me, confound me, teach me to grow, and connect me with my body and spirit in ways that no other can.

I have a family of choice – people whose connection to me is beyond blood, beyond birth. I cry, laugh, rant, sleep, and dream with them.

I have amazing wealth; shelves of books that I can read, music that delights me, computers with which I can reach out to the world, treasures from my past, things with which I can create beauty, and art that inspires me.

I am able to walk, to dance, to move, to see, to feel, to fuck, to make art, to toil, to sleep, to dream, and to breathe.

I am not afraid of walking down my street, nor am I powerless to protect myself from harm.

I know that tomorrow will come; if I am not here to meet it, I know that the path I have walked has meaning and value, and I rejoice that I am not leaving too many words unsaid, and deeds undone.

I know that love exists. I have felt it, and I feel it each moment of every day.

I know that I am more than the synapses and neurons in my brain, more than the sum of my parts, more than the money in the bank, more than my combined assets. I am a wonderful, amazing human being, capable of so much more than I’ll ever even attempt.

And I know that you are, too.

 
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I’m Not Alone…

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Nov 1, 2010 in introspection

(A bit of forewarning – this is a LONG post, even for me. I’ve added a cut tag to make it a bit easier for site visitors to view, but please do click through – the info about how you can help Scarleteen is at the bottom of the article, as well as links to other bloggers & writers who are participating in the Blog Carnival)

Scarleteen - Sex Ed for the Real WorldAs some of you that regularly follow my writing or have been to some of my classes know, my childhood was … well, messed up. I didn’t grow up with a sense of how to relate to other people, what my body was about, and what experiences were appropriate (as well as those that were not appropriate). I had no clue about much of anything involving sexuality. I knew enough to know that the girl that rode the bus to school with me in 6th grade was not correct when she dished the info that boys had these “things called swirms” that would start a baby if you kissed said boy with your mouth open, but I didn’t know enough to correct her. I knew enough to feel bad about my dark-of-night explorations into my body’s responses – and I knew enough to never ask my mom about it. Read more…

 
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Sexerati Bed Death

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Jul 16, 2010 in communication, introspection, relationships, teaching

Sometimes, it gets a little old to me. I feel like I talk about so much about sex, but have so little of it, that I’m a fraud – an educator who is all talk, no action; who can’t do, so she teaches. The sad thing is that many of my friends who are long-term sex educators, sex workers, and performers all commiserate about it.

“How many of you are convinced that your customers have more sex than you do?”, I asked at a recent event held at a very sex-positive shop. Every one of the half-dozen staff present raised their hands.

“How often do you have kinky sex?”, I’ve asked my perverati friends. Some of them are getting it on, all the time; others confess (yes! confess!) in quiet voices that they have “vanilla” sex almost exclusively.

So, when I went through two years of libido coma, it didn’t occur to me that something was wrong. Really. I was teaching over 100 classes a year (which, while it looks great on the resume, is pretty craptastic on the free-time front). Of *course* I was too tired to be creatively kinky, especially from the top side of things. I was traveling too much to maintain much in the way of relationships.

And after sharing – nay, preaching – about the importance of personal boundaries when it comes to sex work of all kinds…imagine my shame and shock when I realized that I’d been screwing myself over for two. bloody. years. I let things that hurt push me back into the cavern of my sexual isolation – the loss of relationships and lovers, the stress of travel, the fear of being vulnerable, the ease with which I avoided possible entanglements involving lube or toys. And what I ended up with was feeling distanced not only from my lovers and from people who I really do like and really do want to play with…but also, feeling distanced from myself.

I started talking about kink & sex because it was such a valuable part of my life; a part that I’d shredded, examined, processed, raged at, ragged about, celebrated, denied, and reinserted into my psyche in my late 20’s. Empowering my own ability to be a sexual being, guiltlessly kinky and joyfully queer, turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. My self esteem took a ride up to the Mile-High Club when I realized that I could actually be externally who I was internally without being afraid of it. So, when this all took a back seat…I started feeling like a bit of an automaton. Like someone who talked the talk, but didn’t walk the walk. And that meant…time for a serious talking to with myself, and some reprioritization.

But like many minor miracles…the one step of saying “that’s it – I’m done with this bullshit” started making the changes happen. Within weeks, I found out my libido had shaken off the scent of the mothballs that it had been packed in, and was off on its own making sexy play plans with folks. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had to push it a little. I made a decision to engage in some sort of play with someone at every event that I’ve been to this year, and so far, I’ve been quite (suprisingly, to me) successful at it. And the play has been good – really good. I feel released; I feel more in touch with my whole body and my libido than I have in a very long time.

Lesson acknowledged, Universe. Don’t become so focused on what I am that I forget about who I am. Gotcha.

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