For the Love of Service

April 10th, 2014

I just watched an episode of House, M.D. about a blogger. She blogs her entire life (except her BM, that is), and it got me wondering about my blogging. I blog once a week here and on my family-friendly blog (which is like my weekly call home, as generally it is only my family who comments on it, though a few friends do read it, too). I’ve been at this blog for nearly five years now, with 413 posts including this one (I’m sure the actual 5-year mark will be a fun celebration of links or something).

I didn’t post last week, and I really wasn’t sure what I was going to post about this week. I don’t share a lot of the Really Personal stuff here, and sometimes, I just feel like I don’t want to share anything. Other times, I wonder if I have shared too much. But I still come back here (nearly) every week. Because I want to share with you, my dear readers. I want to be the voice saying, you are not alone. There are others like you, who feel the way you do, who have the same problems and missteps. This is how I give back. I was welcomed by my kink community, and I want to help others find their own, even if it is just by letting them that such a thing exists.

I was trying to explain my desire to serve to a friend this week. I went searching the Service tag on this blog, but did not find a post that really explained my view clearly and succinctly, to share with him. There are lots of posts that mention it, or talk of a specific example. But, getting right down to the heart of it, did not seem to be there. So, I told him: helping people fills me up.

It really is as simple as that. I’ve lasted in the retail industry for eleven years, not because I love sales (hate it, hate it with a firey passion), but because I love helping people. And yet, he still had to point this out to me a few years ago, when I bristled at the idea of being a service sub, if only because I disliked the examples I had to that point. I’m still not sure that I would be a service sub for any future partner, but I know the caretaker in me comes out regardless of whatever dynamic we may or may not have.

I went to a really awesome service intensive this past weekend, but when I looked back over my notes, I wasn’t really sure what I’d post about it, other than a general list of classes and that they were great. I didn’t want to reiterate what the teachers had spent so much time creating, it felt like I’d be stealing their hard work if I posted about a class individually in depth. So, here’s an overview.

I learned about mindfulness and gracefulness in each act of service. I learned about pouring tea and catching drips. I learned about the difference in leather-care opinions between leatherworkers and bootblacks. I learned about folding napkins and towels into fun and amusing shapes. I was reminded that receiving service is not passive, and involves just as much vulnerability as giving service. And I learned about gentle massages and nerve stroking. But more than that, it was a very small group, which enabled me to meet and connect with some really great people from the local area, and from as far away as D.C. and Minnesota. We had a wonderful time and are already asking to do it again.

As per my last post, even after a class in mindfulness, I went to lunch Monday and forgot to change into a skirt for him. My mind was so full of other things that when he looked at me funny, I didn’t even realize it until he pointed it out. I spent last night digging mud out of his boot soles, after he went to the dog park, as penance. He thanked me today, and even so, my brain was full of wishing I’d done better. Don’t I always? But I did a better job at cleaning them than I’ve ever done before, so I’ll be happy with that. And I’ll ask the other bootblacks for tips on Saturday.

Well, considering I wasn’t sure if I was going to post Anything today, I’d say that’s a fair bit of rambling about service. Good night, dear readers, see you next week.

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Service and Ritual

August 29th, 2013

I attended a class last night on service and ritual and, as good classes do, it got me thinking. I carelessly commented, after, that ‘we have no rituals.’ He quickly corrected me, handing me his bottle as he did, which I instantly balanced on my palm. I struggled to clarify my meaning, acknowledging that he was correct, but I was referring to ‘something we do every time I see him.’ We don’t really do protocol, mostly because I haven’t asked for any. There are things I always wear for him: my skirts/dresses and my rubberbands. But, we stay away from formality and protocol for the most part. The ritual of serving him a drink from the palm of my hand is the only thing I would call an exception.

The class focus, however, wasn’t necessarily about that, though. There was a bit about creating rituals, and there was a lot of the use of the word. Which is why it got stuck in my brain. But the parts that I took away from the class, were about service. A stage performer and instructor, the presenter talked a lot about mindfulness and awareness of your task. Being aware of your body, your eyes, your movements, your attitude, and your top. She talked about knowing your motivation, and goals, for every act of service.

I found these things speaking to me. I do serve him his drinks on an open palm, but unless it is hot, heavy, or very full, I usually pay little mind to the act. If I am not just serving it, but holding it between sips, I am find I am more attentive to the task, because it is not ‘here you go, and done.’ But that’s not an excuse, just an observation. It is a simple thing, but it is one that makes him happy. A little more attention and mindfulness could serve me well.

His boots. One of my favorite forms of service to him is taking care of his boots. I guess you could say that this is a ritual, though it has quite a bit of variance. Sometimes I share the task with another, sometimes they are on his feet, sometimes not, sometimes I have taken them to a meeting or to my own apartment. But, when he is wearing them, there is a bit of formality, in that I kneel or sit at his feet in a submissive posture while I complete the task. I am very mindful, in this situation, too. I want to not just clean his boots, but also make him feel good. The goals are two-fold when he wears them. When he is not, I lose the formality, but it is still an act of service where the goal is to please him, and take care of him. I feel like I do stay fairly mindful, whether he is present or not, this is one task that takes my full attention.

Other acts of service, things I do because he asks, or because they are needed. Domestic services, group organizational services, editing services. All these are places where I could bring more mindfulness of not just why I do them, but how I do them. The why is usually straightforward – because he asked, and because I want to please him, help him, and reduce his stress load. Keeping these things in mind could help when I’m feeling stressed out about doing something(usually the group organization). The how could be improved as well, by just being more aware of myself while I am completing the task.

All in all, a very interesting class, which has left me with many good things to think, and act on.

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Connection, Intimacy & Trust

December 30th, 2011

 

I need to read more Heinlein. An illustration Wednesday night included a reference to a character in Stranger in a Strange Land, who is apparently the best kisser because he completely focuses on the person he’s kissing. That kind of complete focus is something I both yearn for and strive for. I play in public a lot, so there are always other people, movement, sounds that distract either myself or my partner. In private play, life can be the distraction. Thinking about other people, or the bills, or the things I have to do today. But when all that goes away, in moments where our attention is completely focused on each other, it is amazing and powerful.

This is something hubby and I are starting to work on, as we try to build intimacy. Spending time just being with each other, focused on each other, touching each other, but not having an agenda beyond connecting. I had a hard time with it this morning. My brain kept going to my To Do list. But I kept dragging it back. Yes, I had a lot to do today, but it was more important to stay in the moment with him. Doing that, staying there, with him, opens us up to each other. Allows for letting down walls and being vulnerable with each other. We had good discussions today that we might not have ever had otherwise.

Other suggestions that were given this week were to create cues to reinforce this. Lighting, music, perhaps even clothing or a symbol to focus intent. I think candles might be good for us, we both enjoy fire and light scents. Incense sounds too heavy for me, though I know hubby likes it. Music will have to be careful about, I get distracted by words too much sometimes. But things to think about.

Another important discussion of this week has been about communication and trust. Specifically, when hubby asks me what I’m thinking, and I shrug or say nothing. I do this because I think the things that are on my mind are either unimportant, or inappropriate to the moment and in either case, I don’t share them. I found out that, to hubby, this comes across as, I don’t trust him with my thoughts. Or even further, hubby creates a list of possible thoughts, and picks the worst one as what I’m really thinking. So, I’ve agreed to work on that, and try to be more open with my thoughts.

We also talked about how open communication can lessen jealousy, fear and insecurity. When hubby watches me scene, he sometimes feels negative emotional reactions, but if I talk to him about the scene afterward, it makes him feel better. For me, I thought that seeing and hearing would create the same reaction, and so tended towards not really talking about such things. Sure I blog about them, and hubby says that helps too, but for him, verbalizing helps him process the most.

This discovery came about as I talked about my flogging on Wednesday. While hubby was doing other things, he had been randomly flogging or paddling me, but then grabbed me by the hair and tossed me up on the cross. I thought to myself, oh awesome, he’s going to beat me into a puddle of tears. The flogging started out light, nice leather mops to work me up into it. Then he moved onto rubber mops to really pound into me. At one point there was a rubber massage ball pounding at my shoulders and neck. I screamed and pounded my foot on the floor to the beating, but I was determined to stay on my feet until I simply couldn’t anymore. I wanted beaten hard and I didn’t want to give up.

So we kept going and going, until he grabbed a long rubber flogger, said Goodnight and dropped me with two strikes. I raised a hand towards the cross, but dropped it when he hit me again. He hit me a few more times with it as I sat on the floor, and then switched to a dragon’s tail. I was able get up to kneeling with those strikes, but I couldn’t stand back up, I was afraid the flogger would come back and I couldn’t stand up to it.

And then he walked away. I felt him go, I wondered for a bit if he was coming back. I wasn’t sure what was going on. I wasn’t crying, I wasn’t a puddle, but I was happy and inside myself. So, I let my hands fall from my chest. He still didn’t come back, he was off behind me to the left, but I couldn’t hear him. I put my hands on my thighs, knelt properly and went further inside myself. Meditated on my body and my mind and how the flogging had made me feel. I meditated on nothing but my contentment. Until the world started coming back, I started to hear his voice again, I started to feel the people around me aside from him, I came back out again. Stood up and rejoined the world.

Talking about this last night, helped hubby to understand what I had gone through. How it had made me feel. He was able to see the scene with my eyes and feel compersion for my happiness. So, I will work sharing with him more so that compersion is easier. And I will trust him to tell me when he wants more or less sharing.

It has been a very good week, with lots of good discussions, sharing and time with my loved ones. Very happy holidays indeed.

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Mistakes, Punishment & Service

February 17th, 2011

My Four Mistakes

1. I did not wear a skirt when I went over to his house last Tuesday. In fact, I wore jeans. Excuses, excuses, excuses. I did not wear a skirt, as I had agreed to do, and failing a skirt, shorts, in his presence. This was a promise I made to him, quite a long time ago. And this was the second time I had broken that promise. Both times, I had excuses and distractions, but that does not change the facts. He asked me to wear skirts or shorts so that he could have easier access to things he might want. I agreed to wear skirts and shorts for him, to always be available for that access. It became a sign of my submission to him. Being ready and available to please him at any time. To forget, no matter what the reason, to not be aware enough of myself and my promise, is unacceptable. It is disrespectful of our bond and my gift of submission to him.

To correct this mistake and keep it from happening in future, I have chosen a skirt to keep in the car at all times. It is shorter than my usual skirts, but still appropriate for wear around other people and in vanilla settings. It is a skirt I don’t mind wearing, but it is not my preferred skirt, so it will allow me to keep my promise, and remind me to be fully conscious of my choice of clothing.

2. I did not text him when I got home last Thursday. More excuses that do not matter. I know it is the rule, and it has a very solid basis in history, both his own personal history, and in our personal history. He wants to know I have gotten home safely, and I have agreed to let him know that. There are even nights when I haven’t been with him that I text to let him know I’ve gotten home safely so he does not worry. I often ask others to do the same and have recently started teaching our Toy this habit as well. I often get on Hubby’s case to let me know where he is at and I understand the worry, though not with the keenness his past has sharpened it to. Driving anywhere is always taking a risk that something might happen along the way.

To correct this mistake and keep it from happening in future, I will let go of the various things that caused excuses in my brain. Daylight or early evening is not an exception. Not playing is not an exception. Whenever I leave his presence, I will let him know when I have arrived at my destination, regardless of situation, time or place.

3. I did not follow a direct order. He told me to take off her pants and I hesitated and hemmed and hawed and used her as an excuse. He even said I was getting in trouble the more I hesitated, and I did not act. He told her I was getting in trouble, and I was still negotiating the order with her. Eventually, when a solution seemed to be reached, I did take her away and get her changed out of her pants, but I still did not take them off myself. I was acting as a buffer to her comfort levels, instead of doing as I was told.

To correct this mistake and keep it from happening in future, I will remember that she is responsible for herself, and while it is our agreement to protect her, I am also to do as I am told. She has full capability to take care of herself and stand up for herself, I must allow her to do so and not do it for her.

4. I took the cuffs off her without permission. No excuses, no demurring, I did not have permission to remove the cuffs he instructed me to put on her only minutes before. He had, in effect, put them in place, and I removed them. Putting them back on correctly makes no never mind, I took them off without asking. He bound her and I undid that. She is our toy, but the bondage, in that instance, was to him.

To correct this mistake and keep it from happening in future, I will be more aware of what I am doing for myself, for us, and what I am doing on his behalf. I will be more aware of the bonds of bondage and respectful of undoing them. I will be mindful of asking to undo things he has done, or asking to stop doing something he has begun.

Punishment and Service

I speak above about how I am going to avoid making these mistakes in future. But that is for me, that is my process. For him, I must not only correct my behavior, but also make up for these mistakes. It sets my mind running, thinking of what to offer him for these infractions. I have warring feelings of guilt and a desire to please. I know he likes to receive service, but I feel a selfish want to be punished. There are also complications of health, situation and timing, and our new toy to consider. I also do enjoy the punishment fitting the crime.

It took me a while to break the cycle of feeling pain must be involved or offered. It took him being blunt and throwing it in my face for me to realize that I had to stop. Sometimes punishments include pain, but in this case, it was not on the table. My masochism was not to be fed, my guilt was not to be relieved through physical catharsis. To truly make up for my mistakes, I need to be selfless and offer service to him, not ask him to do something for me.

I also got spun around on writing as penance. I would write about my mistakes and read it aloud to remind myself not to repeat them again. But this is hardly punishment for a writer, this is what I do. And it doesn’t really work all that well, as may be evidenced by my repeated attempts last year to stop making the same mistakes over and over again. Writing, as he pointed out, is good for reflection, but does not punish or correct mistakes. It does help me to make plans though, and that is good, but not what I need to offer to him.

And so I began again, for a third time, to think of service to offer him. To think of things he would like, that I could do for him, that would match up to the mistakes I made. Things I could do with Toy’s assistance, as well, because two of them involved her, and perhaps it would help her, as well as entertain him. Things that would not interrupt our evenings, but enhance them.

We are still negotiating the final details, but I have found my path again, with his guidance.

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Negotiating with Loved Ones, or What Poly Means to Me

February 4th, 2010

Maybe I should officially switch to Thursday post, it seems to work better for me lately.

Poly relationships, I have said before, are balanced largely on communication. Also important are consideration, compromise, and compersion. Sorry about the alliteration, but it works for me. Negotiating relationships and boundaries is an important part of maintaining balance and happiness for all partners. Every relationship is different, what works for one, may not work for another, and what worked last month may not work this month. People change and grow and relationships have to do the same to keep up.

In any relationship, you have to have consideration for your partner, for their feelings, for their triggers and for their foibles. Mindfulness, to me, is next to godliness. And compromise follows right along behind. Being willing to give and take to keep the balance. But also remembering that you have to do both, one-sidedness is not compromise. Compersion is hardest, being happy for what your partner has with their other partners, instead of our normal human reaction of jealousy.

I admit, I’m not always mindful. I sometimes do not want to compromise. And for some people, I just have a hard time even approaching compersion. That is okay, I grow, I learn and I keep moving forward. I keep trying, I keep loving and I keep communicating as best I can.

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