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Finally…a friendship question!

This has been an interesting series of posts….my intent was to educate, to help people understand a topic that is always maligned and is often misunderstood. Even using the term BDSM or kink is an anathema to many. I wanted my readers to learn something about a topic that is pretty foreign to most (including me), to learn that people who participate in BDSM activities aren’t sick, or the devil, or deranged, or out to get you. I wanted to kind of remind people that what they choose to do, with each other, in the privacy of their own lives is nobody’s business but theirs. If they choose to play in public, again, THEIR choice and not one that they should be hung out to dry over. As I said in the first post…kinksters are you and me and your relatives and your neighbors.

I hope I was able to share enough about the lifestyle that you did get that message. And, if you want to learn more, there are many LEGITIMATE places to go to learn, where you won’t be embarrassed to meet people and ask questions. They won’t bite.

What I did NOT expect, was to lose friendships over posting these informational pieces. Yes, I made friends with a number of people in the kink community and to protect them from how horrible people can be, there was NEVER going to be a point where I was going to identify anyone…and I haven’t. My kink friends will forever remain anonymous to you…as it should be. I was surprised, however, to be unfriended by some people who took HUGE OFFENSE at the topic of my discussion. It is their right, of course, to decide that my friendship was no longer warranted, but, it saddened me that their judgementalism was the basis of the friendship loss. It’s one thing if I personally attack you and make you angry…but, to decide that discussing a topic like BDSM in the open is so horrible an offense…well then, I guess we really weren’t friends at all!

Many thanks to those of you who read and commented. It’s time to put this one to bed and move on to the next topic.


Toys R Us

This absolutely made me laugh….for nearly every kink type toy out there, one can go into a hardware store, game store, kitchen store, toy store, any store and find what my friends call….

are you ready?


They explained to me that one does not need to spend hundreds of dollars on many of the items used during play activities. I mean, there are lots of legitimate dealers who make and sell many of the ‘toys’ used. Again, if you don’t believe me, just Google it…you will be astounded!

I digress….You don’t need to spend big money if you have the slightest ability to think flexibly/creatively…all you need do is walk through the aisles of many stores and you will find very close facsimiles…the PERVERTIBLES, that cost so much less and, according to those who know, work just about equally well.

Many of the pervertibles are used for impact or sensory play type activities. Spanking, flogging, tickling, massaging, stroking, scratching, smacking, pinching can all be accomplished using everyday items. Can’t picture it? Let me help you…in the left column are the ‘official’ items, the right column has your everyday household items


And that is just the quick stuff I came up with for this post. There really is an unlimited number of products one can find to stimulate the senses.

To think, just a couple years ago I had literally NOT A CLUE about any of this…it has been a fun journey learning about the BDSM lifestyle and meeting the wonderful people who are a part of this seriously misunderstood group.

Next up….closing out this blog segment with some Final Thoughts


Please, Sir: can I have some more?

A line from ‘Oliver’ but so very appropriate for our topic too ;-D

Another very interesting part of the BDSM lifestyle is the various types of relationships people have with one another. There are labels or descriptors for these relationships that are pretty standard in the BDSM literature. My experience with my friends has shown me that the relationships  don’t always resemble the definitions given and like any other human relationship, there are variations within each theme. The idea of ‘power exchange’ is a part of these relationships. And the idea of SSC- Safe, Sane, Consensual is also paramount.

The terms kind of define the individual in the position of control or power. Here are some examples and by no means an exhaustive list:

  • Dom/Domme(D/D)-Sub: in this relationship the man (Dom) or woman (Domme) is in the power position and the Sub (Submissive) is the individual who is willingly ‘under the control’ of the Dom/Domme. From my understanding and observation, this relationship is not typically a 24/7 one, but rather one that occurs when the two consenting adults are communicating, playing, interacting in some way. For a simple example, the D/D may want the s to dress or behave a particular way for a specified period of time. The types of potential interactions are unlimited and the people in the relationship have agreed upon the parameters. It is possible to have a D/s distance relationship (a few of my friends are in this type of relationship).  This relationship is not necessarily limited to two people. A polyamorous family may be led by a D/D and the others in the family may be in the s role, or a play partner, or some other role.
  • Top/Bottom/Switch – again, these terms relate to the individual who is in control of the scene being played out. The Top is typically the person leading the activity, the Bottom is the person receiving the action in the activity. When a person is a Switch, it means that they like to be in both positions depending on the activity, who the play partner is, or any other possible parameter of an agreed upon meeting of two people. The people who identify themselves as a Top/Bottom/Switch seem to do so only for the purposes of play. Once the scene is done, so is their particular role.
  • Daddy/Little/Middle – my friends who identify themselves with one of these terms have a particular mindset during play with their partners. I have a friend who is female but identifies in some play activities as a Daddy, providing emotional support and sometimes discipline to the partner. Friends who identify as Middles like to do things, dress, or behave like young adolescents during play activities. Those identifying as Littles behave like younger children. Both men and women can identify as Middles or Littles. Be assured that during their non-play life, they are just as adult as you and I.

In addition to designated or self-identified roles, there are a whole variety of scenes that can occur during BDSM interactions. There is cosplay (think costume), roleplay (Peter Pan and Tinkerbell anyone?), pony play (yep, just like it sounds), or age play. Again, not an exhaustive list…just a sample. These scenes can be extremely detailed in the organization, setting, clothing, script, or very spontaneous; the key is that they meet the needs of the participants.

There are MANY other kinds of relationships, descriptive labels, and scenes. I just wanted to touch on a few in this post. As I mentioned previously, a really excellent source of information is a website called Fetlife. It has an extremely comprehensive listing of all things BDSM. In order to access it, you must become a member. For a quick reference requiring no membership, pop over here to peruse an alphabetical listing of BDSM related terminology.

So what else is there to talk about?

TOYS…up next!




Begin in the beginning

I read the 50 Shades series during a week at the beach and talked about the books with my hubby. We talked about things in the movies, other books, and things on TV that were related in one way or another and then out of the blue I said…”I wonder if there is a kink site in Pittsburgh! I think I’ll Google it!”

Oh, the power of Google. OF COURSE there is a group in Pittsburgh! I sat there, kind of dumbfounded, and looked at my hubby and said, “I gotta check this out!”  He looked at me, laughed, kind of did the ‘oh, there you go again look’ and said, “Go for it.”

So, I did. I researched the local group and that led me to a larger umbrella group that is worldwide called Fetlife. Now, there are a number of other groups out there I subsequently learned, but, from all that I was reading, it seemed that Fetlife was the group most favored for a number of reasons, safety being at the top.

Well, the local group’s website was filled with all sorts of wonderful information about the group itself, its history, and the manner in which one might become involved.  It was also  fairly easy to be in touch with the leaders of the group and they very clearly indicated that they were open to answering any questions that anyone might have. You know me….questions GALORE!

I learned that every month, most of the groups around the world have open meetings called Munches. The purpose of the Munch is strictly socialization, come eat and talk. Come meet some people in the group and ask your questions. Seriously? Just walk into one of the very public and popular restaurants in Pittsburgh and walk right into the room reserved for the group for the evening and have a chat!  Hmmmmm, I sent an email message to one of the group leaders and expressed my interest also stating that I was actually rather nervous at the prospect of meeting this group of people. I carried ALL of the preconceptions that I believe most people have about the entire BDSM thing. I got a pretty prompt response assuring me that I was most welcome and that I had nothing to fear. People would be friendly and willing to talk with me and that there was absolutely no attempts at cajoling one to become a member of the group. Interestingly, in Pittsburgh, the group is actually split by age….This Generation is for individuals 35 years and older and Next Generation is for 18-35. Another thing I learned VERY QUICKLY is that under NO CIRCUMSTANCES is anyone under the age of 18 permitted to even attend a Munch, and, on top of that, they absolutely ‘card’ everyone in the younger group to ensure that alcohol is not served to anyone under 21.  They take age restrictions very seriously.

Hmmmmmm. My interest was piqued. I would be in a completely open and public place, there would be no shenanigans going on, I could have some intelligent conversation (hopefully) with some nice people (hopefully) and get my questions answered.  In the interest of full disclosure, my husband was a bit nervous about me checking this all out BUT, he said, go ahead, have a good time, be safe. He knew exactly where I was, how long I would be there, and I had my cell phone.

So, I went to my first Munch! I was  a nervous wreck walking in the restaurant, looking around not sure where to go. Would the people be dressed all leather-like or lacy or what?! Would they be walking around getting their freak on? Would they all be full of tats with pink and purple hair? I just had no idea what to expect. I asked a waitress where the group was meeting and she directed me to the meeting area…and

there were lots of people

sitting around tables and at the bar


and talking

smiling and having a lovely time…


One of the leaders noticed me looking around and immediately came over to greet me, introduced herself and guided me right over to a small group sitting at the bar. She introduced me to the two couples and then took her leave. The two men and women immediately turned their attention to me and introduced themselves and asked how I came to learn about the group. Easy, comfortable, nice conversation!

I spent the next three hours munching and talking to about 25-30 different people, most were in their 40s and 50s…a few in their 60s and one women was 70! Talk about diverse!!! All nationalities, all ethnicities, all levels of kink engagement from Master/Slave to top/bottom/switch…all kinds of interests/fetishes. YES, I did engage in that conversation because I wanted to know, I was curious to understand and EVERY SINGLE PERSON was open and willing to talk to me and explain their particular ‘thing’. As I said in the first entry on this topic…these interesting people were no different than you and me. I met computer programmers, nurses, accountants, stage and costume designers, college professors (several), a microbiologist, an equine trainer, a neurobiologist, a model, a floral designer, a dancer….we shared pictures of our children and grandchildren!

I was enthralled!  There were so many questions I had and I had found a group of people who genuinely simply wanted me to understand and get my questions answered.

As an aside, though, one wonderful gentleman in particular (who has since become a very good friend)  warned me to be careful. He indicated that there are always unscrupulous pervs in any group and that if I decided to get more involved, then I should find a good friend who I could trust and vet any person who might seem to get too cozy. Excellent words of advice!

So, that was my very first experience in the world of BDSM. I went home, excited to share, and wanting to learn more.



Let’s Lighten up-let’s talk sex ;-)

Got your attention??

As you may recall, when I said I was going to restart blogging, I indicated that I wanted to talk about things that are, well, not understood. Yes, I started with a serious topic, depression. I think we can agree that it still is largely misunderstood and unnecessarily feared. I hope my sharing helped.

Now, I want to touch on another topic which really is very VERY misunderstood and frequently vilified.

Over the next several weeks, I am going to talk about BDSM.  If you don’t know the acronym, it stands for:

  • BD – Bondage and Discipline
  • DS – Dominance and Submission
  • SM – Sadism and Masochism

Some preliminary thoughts for you.

I am NOT, by any stretch of the imagination, any sort of expert in BDSM.

I am NOT a ‘card carrying’ member of a kink community.

Unlike most of you (I imagine, most of you), I DO have many friends who are card carrying members of a kink community.

Let me start by saying that I became interested and curious about the whole lifestyle after reading, **GASP**,  50 Shades of Grey. (We are not going to do a book review here…it was a crappily written series of books.) I did learn, however, that it was a pretty inaccurate picture of the community of people who do consider themselves to have fetishes, kinks, and other desires that are typically considered slightly askew of the mean.

Those of you who do know me, and know me well, KNOW that I have a desire to LEARN as much as I possibly can about a topic once I become interested in it. I don’t try to become an expert and learn everything…no, I want to learn so that I CAN UNDERSTAND something better.

Here we go…

Kinksters (and many of my friends do call themselves Kinksters) are EVERYONE. Let me say that again…the people who participate in any way and at any one of the many levels of kink are EVERYONE.

They are…lawyers, doctors, psychotherapists, florists, ballet dancers, opera singers, country western singers, teachers, moms and dads, brothers and sisters, grandmas and grandpas, computer programmers, auto mechanics, chefs, guidance counselors, chemists, neurologists, nurses, accountants, cashiers, baristas, burger-flippers, your neighbors….get the picture? They are JUST LIKE YOU AND ME. They are us!

THAT is probably one of the major misconceptions about the lifestyle. In general, people think that there is something seriously wrong, very deviant, or sexually sick about a person who participates in any part of the BDSM lifestyle. Just like in any population of people, there are those who might, indeed, have some very serious issues, BUT, that is simply NOT the case for the vast majority of people who do embrace this lifestyle. At least, this has been my personal experience.

Yes, I am going to share with you my experiences and the things that I learned about the Kink community.

Stay tuned.




Back in the leadership role in my dance: a call for understanding

In the last post I mentioned the psychiatric treatment that I received. It was called DBT or Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

I knew that in my past blogging, I talked about DBT and what it had done for me. I had to go back to 2008/2009 to find those blog posts, but it was worth it…I saw, yet again, how very far I have come in my living with depression and being the leader in my dance.

To give you some background, DBT therapy was designed by Marsha Linehan in the late 1980s to treat borderline personality disorder and is now being used for several different mental health diagnoses. This article is a wonderful description of the therapy. The therapy progresses through a series of skill development modules over the course of 8 weeks. NO, it is not a miracle quick fix program; it takes commitment and a lot of work AND you really do need to move through the cycles more than once. I was in active therapy for two full cycles (for me, that meant being in therapy three days a week- both group and individual therapy). AND, if you are honest with yourself, you do NEED to go back periodically for what I like to call “tune-ups”.

I STOPPED taking medications and began the DBT treatment in 2008; Here is what I LEARNED from this therapy:

I have learned to live every single minute in the here and now and to be MINDFUL and focused. This is hard people. It is so easy to look back at things and get disturbed by memories or to look forward in anticipation of things that may not even happen. IF you stay in the moment, you can use all kinds of skills to maintain your mental and physical health.  #1 skill-BREATHING, solid meditative breathing. Nothing centers you faster and makes you feel better faster, for real!

I have learned to use what DBT calls ‘Wise Mind’…equal amounts of emotion and logic…you don’t get overwhelmed when you use ‘Wise Mind’.  You can make decisions that follow your heart AND your head. Again, this can be so challenging. It is so easy to get wrapped up in an emotional response over an event or to be so headstrong stupid in a response. It takes mindfulness to be aware that you are responding in that way and then calm resolve to use the ‘Wise Mind’ skill to stop the inappropriate response patterns.

I have learned to use EMOTION REGULATION strategies. When I begin to think about something stressful, I DISTRACT myself by listening to a great song on the radio or a CD. When I feel myself becoming stressed I SELF-SOOTHE by petting my kittens, chewing a piece of cinnamon gum, listen to relaxing music, getting out my coloring book and crayons, and BREATHE. These strategies immediately reduce your heart rate and reduce anxiety and stress. This is a biggie for me. When I get stressed adrenaline surges through me almost instantly (something I learned about myself through mindfulness) and it is especially important for me to breathe and self-soothe immediately. Once I get calm, I can distract myself and get past whatever triggered the response.

I have learned more effective INTERPERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS skills. I always thought I was pretty good at these skills, and I am. But there is always something you can learn.  DEAR-MAN is an acronym for a sequence of behaviors that are very effective in getting what you want and need out of relationships with others. NO GUILT, NO FEAR, NO EMBARRASSMENT.

I have learned DISTRESS TOLERANCE skills that allow me to stay very calm in the face of activities or people who I used to allow to cause me tremendous distress. The best strategy I learned here is RADICAL ACCEPTANCE or another way of saying it is: It is what it is. For me, that meant learning how to walk away; how to say no to requests and not feel guilty about it; how to really accept that there are things that cannot or will not change and move on. Radical Acceptance is a skill that I find a need to re-tune with my therapist. Sometimes, I have tremendous difficulty dealing with things in my life that are completely out of my control (I already admitted how much I need to control the things that CAN be controlled  to keep me in my happy dance), and Radical Acceptance is THE major cog in my wheel for distress tolerance.

These skills were literally life changing.  I  found a wholesome natural way to really gain control of my life and my depression. I have been MEDICATION FREE since 2008. I recognize more quickly when I start to slide towards a trough and can see when my responses to situations are out of line. I know that I need periodic tune-up sessions with my individual therapist and call her for the help. It actually improved my communications with family (better than isolation).

So, this brings to a close my series of posts about depression.

What do I want you to get from this series?

  • PLEASE know there is a real need for people to understand what those of us with depression deal with, how we feel, how we try to help ourselves and need help (read that as compassion) from you as well. We can’t just pull ourselves up by the boot straps and tally forth! It takes a village!
  • PLEASE know that this is an illness that does not go away but can be well controlled and that doesn’t make us bad people or problem people or selfish people or disgusting people. We are just people like you!
  • Please know that there are likely many, many people in your lives who have some form or level of depression and that

your willingness to understand and offer help may just save a life one day.

Thank you, for taking the time to read these posts. I am back in the lead position with  my dance partner, heading for my latest tune-up, and ALL is good in my world! Here is a little giggle for you…I was featured (2009) on a local television program whose focus was on DBT…be kind in your reviews (I have already corrected the “ummm” issue…LOL!)…



2000-2010 Decade from Hell

It’s funny how a relatively brief period of time can have so many highs and lows. I mean, in the grand scheme, 10 years is a spit in the bucket. My bucket, during that decade was full of spit, and loads of other things as well.

I don’t want to bore you with a play-by-play; instead, I will simply give an accounting of the time from a pro and con perspective…

Cons: (the big stuff)

  • my mother died of lung and metastatic bone cancer
  • my uncle (her brother) died of colon cancer
  • my aunt (her sister) died of lung cancer
  • we lost our house to a fire
  • my father suffered massive third degree burns on both of his hands from a kitchen fire and was found to have lung cancer when he was being evaluated for his skin grafting surgery…oh, he also had a blood clot in his heart (this was immediately after our fire)
    • and ALL of that happened between 2000-2005
  • I had two major depressions that required me to take a medical leave from my job and also had a place in my needing to resign from a very prestigious position at my University
  • I had shoulder surgery for a frozen shoulder and knee surgery for a torn meniscus I got in class doing jumping jacks!
  • my husband lost his job and was not able to find another one, ever

Pros: (the big stuff)

  • both of my children graduated from college with degrees and a future ahead of them
  • my dad survived and just celebrated his 91st birthday
  • I was promoted twice…to Associate Professor and then to full Professor
  • I was appointed the Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence
  • my first text book was published
  • I was able to take my husband on the trip of his dreams to Hawaii, twice
  • I traveled the Mediterranean, Alaska, and my first trip to Australia and New Zealand
  • I was humbled to be the recipient of the most incredible generosity and kindness from our neighbors and the University community and so many strangers in response to our fire…the clothing and money that was collected in my family’s behalf had me in tears for days
  • I began intensive therapy and counseling in Dialectical Behavioral therapy (DBT), which changed my life, forever (more on that next posting)
  • I decided to retire
  • I survived in one mentally and physically intact piece

DBT was, and continues to be, the reason.

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