YoaHTs: “Thing” 72 – “Sex Pt. 1”

Sex is, above all, entertainment. Yes, it perpetuates a species. Yes, it can be an expression of affection and intimacy, an addiction, a tool, and a weapon. But the bottom line is, after all the fireworks, in a healthy sexual relationship, you’re supposed to feel really, really, ridiculously good.

For reasons I cannot explain, I have discussed sex lately with an amazing variety of people, in entirely unrelated circumstances and from every perspective I could have imagined. I have no professional training in psychology, or sex therapy, but I have no issues discussing sex and, for reasons I’ve stated below, I’m fairly knowledgeable about it, so people tend to feel comfortable talking to me about it. The one thing that stood out – and yes, I am keenly aware of the comedy in that phrase – was that people STILL just don’t know how to talk about it to one another. One would think that such a simple problem is easily solved, but with everyone boiling in their own tea kettle, it’s a problem that seems to require an interpreter in nearly every case. As I listened intently in every conversation, I began to see patterns.*

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Year of a Hundred Things – “Thing” #78 – Falling in Love

There is no one way to fall in love. It happens frequently, and more than once in every life time. In fact, it could easily happen more than once a day. It is a wish for joy, for connection, for growth. It is NOT a need to possess. 

Since my first “love,” I’ve realized that falling in love and falling in need are two very different things. I am “in love” with many people, for many reasons. I do not covet a single one of them. They don’t validate who I am, or “make” me happy. They are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends and occasionally, people I’ve never actually met. Sometimes “they” can even be a place or an experience. There is something so unique about them, something so precious to me that having them in my life is immeasurable joy. 

It is often something simple, like the way they laugh, or the way they see the world differently than I do. They contribute to the tapestry that is my life, sometimes in ways I never imagined possible. 

And falling in love means that I want to enjoy them, and watch as they thrive. I want to talk to them, kiss them, touch them, laugh with them, comfort them when the feel need, but NEVER does it mean that they must give anything in return. In fact, they give simply because they are. 

You see, “falling in love” is an outpouring of the most generous emotion we humans experience. It impels us to be kind. Look around you every day, and fall in love with something bigger than yourself, something more compelling. It doesn’t mean that you have to stop feeling “in love” with anything or anyone else. If that were true, no parents would ever have more than one child.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I see my loves deeply, that I “know” them and that I encourage their deepest desires. It is who I am, and if I am “in love” with you, you are sure to know it.

Breaking

“Just think of him as a hairy toddler,” said my new friend, Audra. I chuckled thinking about what it was going to be like interacting with a six year old chimp while trying to film a story that illustrates how generous a human heart can be.

Of course, I was excited, for a host of reasons. Having never interacted so closely with chimpanzees, I was going to see closeup the emotional lives they lead. I knewthat I was going to be engaged from the moment I began working. But it’s what you don’t know that you don’t know that gets you.

I didn’t know that I was going to learn more about what healing looks like and what happens when one of us decides that breaking is only the beginning of a powerful journey. Most of us, at one time or another, have suffered something that brings us close to losing all faith in humanity. But it is how we heal that is the mark of our character. With a lot of hard work, and some very devoted people, we will show you how one woman helps these beautiful creatures heal, and how she heals in the process. It is a story that needs telling because it tells us a lot about ourselves. It teaches us what kindness and communication can do for the broken. It teaches us what being human should look like.

Thanks to a constellation of stars achieving an unprecedented alignment, I am involved in this project. One of those stars is a man named Adam Neal Gonzalez, who, I KNEW would be perfect to capture the story on film. It took no time at all for the two of us to get emotionally invested in what Audra is doing with the chimps. I’m not going to sugar coat it and make it sound easy. The animals are beautiful and intriguing. But they are also intelligent, territorial and extraordinarily strong. We keep a respectful distance. It is only because humans are good liars that we hold dominion over these creatures. What Audra does to give them a voice through art is nothing short of beautiful.

Chimping
Chimping

I can’t wait to share that beauty with all of you.

Act IV

The ottoman struggled across the wooden floor, moved unintentionally as she stretched her entire length, pushing out with her feet. “Ohhhhh” she moaned, feeling her muscles respond. He watched her from across the room, amused at how overwhelming the over stuffed chair looked around her.

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Sheets

Challenge piece, a new activity that I am enjoying, in this instance from the voluptuous Dark Night Chronicles . I’m new to writing challenges. It’s a bit daunting, but a whole lot of fun.

I started at the corner, because it had already lost its grip. The ridges and valleys spread out before me, arranged in waves shaped like David: long limbs, bent with the bliss of sleep. Just an hour before, he’d warmed the ridges and valleys, after he’d burned his touch onto my flesh.

And now, as I bent to pull away the sheet that still held his shape, I paused. At first, one knee, then another, my arms stretching toward the place where his head had rested, gathering and wringing the white cotton, losing myself in the chypre fog.

My body called to him, as I wrapped myself in the sheet, and closed my eyes. It would only be a few more hours until he returned, and his force would again heat this now cooled room.

The Year of a Hundred Things: Thing #100

I remember as a little girl having been born in a year ending in 5, counting by 5s and figuring out how old I’d be at the milestone markers. Wow, I thought, thirty-five in the year 2000. How utterly old I will be. Considering that I was in second grade at the time, I lacked perspective.

Life was pretty interesting for me at thirty-five. I hadn’t yet met my husband. In fact, I had made a habit of complicated and emotionally unavailable men. I was operating from the belief that I wasn’t acclimated to a life that included someone else. Seeking the inaccessible meant that I could enjoy the thrill of love without the messy details of commitment. It was genius. And it worked for a while. I had a lot of fun, and no one got hurt. Well…no one but me.

Five years later at forty, I was already married to the man that still tolerates the shifting sand under his feet. I’d resolved that I wasn’t as delightful as I had always fancied myself. In fact, I was a right pain in the ass. Fortunately, he loves a challenge. We struggled in our first few years to have children. I miscarried. We suffered four failed IUIs and two failed IVFs, until finally, after long having accepted that the delight of spontaneous and old-fashioned conception had eluded us, we made a little cocktail in a Petrie dish which became what is now the giggling sprite of the boy we love. So, for all you people who reach forty and think you have nothing to show for it, the two most amazing things in my life didn’t happen until this last decade.

On January 1st, 2015, I will start the countdown to my fiftieth birthday. It’s hard to even form the words, fiftieth birthday. I don’t feel fifty, and from what I’m told, I don’t look fifty, either. I’ll have to attribute that to good genes and a relatively healthy lifestyle. But the one thing that fifty brings me is a sense of peace about who I am.

So, as I stare down the big 5-0, I wonder at what is important to me and why. I wonder how many of you, my friends and readers, will have similar things, and if these pieces will resonate with you. I invite you to share those things with me, as well.

I present these things (and I use the term loosely) in no particular order, except for the last. The last will be the most important because it should have the most attention. The first…well…it’s something I look at every day.

“Thing” #100:

I am a little bohemian. Not a lot, because I am honest with myself (and a bit vain) that at 5’3″ big, flowing clothes don’t flatter. But, I am bohemian enough that, most of the time, I’d rather wear something that is comfortable and eclectic than something high-fashion. And when it has sentimental value, it becomes a talisman against the chronically negative. I abhor the chronically negative. It eats at my creativity and buries my mood under piles of emotional sludge.

So, I present item(s) 100: the gift(s). I have a few things that I wear, or carry, every day that were very thoughtful gifts. A bracelet from my sister, another from a friend who is profoundly connected to her friends’ needs. A have a few, each representing a particular story. In the image below, they lay atop a handmade art journal my sister gave me for Christmas this year. Each time I look at these things, I am reminded that someone took the time to think about me and send me a message in a gift. That is what love looks like. Small messages. These are reminders: little things that are hugely valuable to me.

Thing(1) - The Gift
Thing(1) – The Gift

Peace on Earth

I am a recovering Catholic. I was raised on a steady diet of Hail Marys and Our Fathers, delivered with my little white Rosary, kneeling reverently in the ordered contemporary pews of our Villa Madonna chapel. To this day. I whisper a Hail Mary if an ambulance passes within earshot.

I say that I am recovering because my faith is a glimmer of what it once was as a child. Back then, I believed that through Christ all things were possible. But doubt settled in when I was moved from the loving hands of the Salesian nuns to the hell fire and brimstone of a local school with legalistic Baptist views. My parents were simply trying to blend a family and simplify things. Ohhhhh, the irony. As abstract thought and discernment took root in my pre-teen mind, the myopic fundamentalism preached in that school effectively destroyed my love for my Christianity. I have struggled ever since. I have a scientist’s reason. I understand the physical dynamics of the universe and from that I have come to a place that gives me some peace.

Despite all of that doubt, there is a single experience that returns me instantly to the time when I believed that the Christmas message touched everyone’s heart, regardless of the name of their faith. Standing in the middle of Sacred Heart Church in downtown Tampa during a midnight mass will bring even the most heart-hardened, staunchly doubting mind to the brink of believing. It is then, while wrenching every note of O Holy Night from my throat, that I get a glimmer of what it feels like to be united by one ideal.

Last year, for the first time, I heard Casting Crown’s live performance of “I heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Such a beautiful message on a day when the whole world looks to the sky for a Christmas miracle. It is based on a poem written by Longfellow after his son was severely wounded in the Civil War. Longfellow was adamantly against the war and was deeply saddened that his son insisted on enlisting. At that time, Christmas wasn’t yet a national holiday, but as he listened to the churches ring their bells loud and clear, he penned these beautiful words.

Even if you have no religion, peace is in you. It’s in every one of us. Maybe if we just sing it out, the whole world, including those who’ve lost sight of it, will find their way. So, on this Christmas Eve, I wish each and every one of you peace. Take a moment and pay it forward. With one voice, one harmony, we can reach every corner of our world with this simple message.

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men

And the bells are ringing
(Peace on earth)
Like a choir they’re singing
(Peace on earth)

In my heart I hear them
(Peace on earth)
Peace on earth, goodwill to men

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men

But the bells are ringing
(Peace on earth)
Like a choir singing
(Peace on earth)

Does anybody hear them?
(Peace on earth)
Peace on earth, goodwill to men

Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep
(Peace on earth, peace on earth)
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, goodwill to men

Then ringing singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men

And the bells, they’re ringing
(Peace on earth)
Like a choir they’re singing
(Peace on earth)

And with our hearts we’ll hear them
(Peace on earth)
Peace on earth, goodwill to men

Do you hear the bells, they’re ringing?
(Peace on earth)
The life the angels singing
(Peace on earth)

Open up your heart and hear them
(Peace on earth)
Peace on earth, goodwill to men

Peace on earth, peace on earth
Peace on earth, goodwill to men

 

View live performance here: http://youtu.be/M7670CXvPX0

Writer(s): Brady ThorntonEllis Jr, Johnny R. Cash, Bernie Herms, Bill Wolaver, Carol Tornquist
Copyright: Chappell & Co. Inc., Non-stop Outrageous Publishing LLC, Word Music LLC, Banahama Tunes, Vivian Distin, John Carter Cash Music Inc.