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When I tell my friends (and lovers) that I am choosing to be celibate for a good period of time (until July 2011), they are often perplexed as to why I would choose this. I’m not surprised; it’s a little shocking even to me, and I’m the one making the decision! In case you don’t know, to give a little background, I have LONG been a supporter of positive sexuality, have been polyamorous for quite a few years, and have no qualms about telling people I LOVE sex. So, why give it up then?

It’s a damn fine question. In fact, I have to admit that I didn’t decide to be celibate for a particular set of reasons; rather, I decided it was right for me at this moment, intuitively, and only later set about thinking of what ways this benefits me at this time. And there are numerous ways…I’m sure I’ll miss some but here are a few of the big ones that come to mind:

A great deal has happened this year, and the biggest by far is my separation from (and soon to be divorce from) my exhusband. I have been with him, off and on (on more than off), for the past fourteen years. We started dating when I was sixteen. He was my second boyfriend, and the second person/time I ever had sex. I’ve been fucking him a LOOONG time! Needless to say, my character was greatly influenced by this relationship, and so was my sexuality. In many ways, for both of us, we have no idea who we would be without the influence of the other. I have known D for almost half my life (I’m 31 now) and actually, truly, moving on from that relationship has had a tremendous impact on me.

We had actually separated once in the past, for two years, but we saw each other very frequently during that time, and were physically involved shortly thereafter. This time is different: he lives three hours away and, although he sees the kids every weekend, we hardly see each other for more than 5-10 minutes a week. Getting this distance has been good for both of us, and it has made me see several things clearly that I have ignored/looked over/glazed over in the past. One of the things that has been a constant between us is an extremely powerful physical connection. The force, the gravity, of that connection was overwhelming. It was an addiction. The physical pull towards each other was so strong, and intensified our emotional connection so much, that we both were constantly drawn to each other despite many significant differences in outlook and personality that caused constant strife between us. We have wildly different approaches to finances, to parenting, to housekeeping, to holidays, to family..and those are only the biggies. With the distance we have now, I can see clearly that he does not share ideals that I wish to share with a primary partner. And here is the crux of things: I do wish to have a primary partner again. For a while, I did not. I did not want the entanglement, the stress, the drama that could easily come from such a commitment. But, as time has gone by, I realized I do miss certain things. I miss the feeling of being part of a team, of having someone to snuggle with at the end of the night, someone to coparent with, someone to share resources with, to giggle with over silly little things.

In realizing this, I began to do something I had never done before: I made a list of qualities I need in such a partner. These things are not complicated: a similar parenting style, financially stable, able to budget, poly, preferably kinky. The only one that surprised me was the realization that I want someone who has their own kids: because I am DONE with that part of my life. I enjoyed childbirth very much, both times, but I have no desire to start over with a baby as I would someday like to have MY life again. Anyway, when I made this list, I also saw that it’s important for me to connect with someone strongly in a mental way first, BEFORE any physical connection. Because I am very “boy” that way – if the sex is great, I get distracted, I overlook important, VITAL compatibility issues. And I am simply unwilling to do that anymore. (I find it rather ironic that, far from the “usual” female reason for celibacy in dating, i.e. to be sure the guy wants to be with her ASIDE from sex, I have the opposite problem: I am fully confident that people want much more from me than the sex, but I need to be sure *I* don’t get caught up in the sex and distracted…that is, I need to be sure I want THEM without the sex lol!)

SO that’s one major reason why I feel pulled to this celibacy thing.

Another one has to do with sex and my libido. When D moved out in May, it hit me hard. I missed the sex something fierce, and I wasn’t really enjoying sex so much with other people. In large part, that is due to the fact that the D/s in our relationship was so predominant, and I really don’t sub to anyone else. So I missed the submission tremendously, and it had a dampening effect on everything else. However, I know myself very well, and *because* I was craving submission so strongly, I knew I could not trust myself to navigate a scene wisely…so I abstained totally from D/s. It sucked, but it was the best thing for me. Meanwhile, my libido continued to be nonexistant. I continued to have sex on a fairly regular basis, but it was mainly driven by other people’s desire. That is, if THEY wanted to, I was fine with it, but if someone else didn’t make a first more, I would have gone the whole night just snuggling. It’s very easy for me to adopt a “why not?” attitude with sex. I don’t have to be lusting after it like crazy to decide “sure” when someone else is interested. I do enjoy it in the moment, I do cum, but the *motivation* to make it happen wasn’t in ME. So a good portion of this celibacy choice is to address that as well. I feel that, to solve the Case of My Missing Libido, being very selfish with my body and allowing ME to feel desire for someone first – and to let that desire build over a LONG period – was a necessary thing. When July rolls around, I WANT to be going completely nuts wanting sex. That would be exactly according to plan LOL! Because this “me not wanting sex” thing? Is weird, and freaks me out, honestly.

OK, so those are some of my main reasons. The “rules” are simple: no sex until July. Dates are fine, kissing is okay, that’s all. Exact date in July to be determined, and hey, I will likely throw a party to celebrate! :p

Questions? Please throw them at me! The more I explain it to others, the more I understand it myself…

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FLYing ramblings

One of the things that Flylady goes on about is that FLYing is “Finally Loving Yourself.” I could not agree more. (Mind you, references to “God Breezes” and such are rather…saccharine to me, but I just ignore that and take all the good stuff. The woman is brilliant in many ways.) I know that when I am depressed, when I am down on myself, when some little part of my brain whispers that I don’t deserve good things, *this* is when it is hardest for me to get up and do things. And of course, it’s a vicious cycle: the more that goes undone, the worse the place looks, and the easier it is to be down on yourself. Which is why, some days, I take that “Just 15 minutes” slogan and work it for everything it’s worth.

And those 15 minutes, BOY do they add up. There’s an absolute gem in that mantra. 15 minutes is short enough that you don’t feel overwhelmed, it has a definitive end point, and even better, most tasks that my silly brain blows out of proportion until they seem unconquerable, well, HEY…they’re not. In fact, many a time that “endless” stack of dishes takes only ONE 15-minute session. A regular stack, even less.

Currently, I have reclaimed most of my kitchen (there’s still a disorganized set of shelves masquerading as “art supplies for the kids”, and the tupperware cabinet needs a thorough going-through), the hallway floor is totally clear, the bathroom looks decent again, and my room is only a mess because it is clothes-sorting-central at the moment. I am pretty pleased with this progress, and moreso that I have kept my routines for the past few days enough that what I gained has not lost any ground.

The kids and I have been talking a lot about “keeping the house pretty.” In fact, we promised the house that we would take care of it properly. 🙂 In loving the house, we are showing love to ourselves.

They are very excited about Chore Wars, a website designed to allow you to win experience points for (what else?) doing chores. I am having waaaayyyyy too much fun setting up nifty names for chores and locations through the house. For instance, the kids’ room is the Warrior Training Camp (min is the Queen’s Parlor). The most important thing though is that, despite my having signed up a few days ago, it is NOT finished being set up with! Why? Because I have NOT let myself get distracted with it! I’ve spent a small amount of time each day updating it, but have not let it get in the way of, y’know, actually GETTING STUFF DONE. This may seem obvious, but it’s all too easy to get sucked up into the interwebz and hey, I’m proud of myself. 😀

I’ll post a link to my Chore Wars character in a few days, when it’s all updated and such. It’s pretty nifty, and anything that brings more fun into life? I am down with that!

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When I started this blog, I wanted to choose a topic. I wanted to write about things that had a great relevance to my life, that meant something to me, things I am passionate about. Sexuality was an oft-proposed topic. I am very positive-sexuality oriented and a number of people were on my case to write from that perspective, and about my experiences with poly, with bdsm, etc. How could you work kink and parenting, who did you tell about your multiple relationships, all sorts of things. And yes, this was something I could go on about at length (as anyone who’s ever got me started about poly knows LOL!) But thinking about kink and parenting got me thinking about parenting, about cosleeping and natural childbirth, about breastfeeding, “extended” nursing, babywearing (aka slings), cooking for kids, free-range kids, all things I am wildly interested in as well (as anyone who’s heard Eva’s birth story on their first date with me can attest…) Thinking about feeding kids got me pondering cooking from scratch, essential spices in the pantry, “un”cooking aka raw food and green smoothies. That brought me to Craig Ballantyne and Turbulence Training and the Transformation Contest (all of which I learned about through Stumptuous, AMAZING site), which in turn got my mind on changing habits and routines and Flylady and housekeeping. Which links right back into everything else.

So in the end, I chose the title “Easier Than You Think” because I want to write about all these things which, in my mind, are so connected and which generally I feel get a bad rap as being “hard” when, well, they don’t have to be. Some of these things I grew up with and so didn’t struggle with overly, but for the most part they are all things I have changed about myself, my perspective and my approach to life over the years. So I know from experience that it’s not as hard, as daunting, as it can seem, and that even the stuff I am currently in mighty combat to change :p will in fact look pretty simple when I look back on it.

Which brings me to what’s on my mind today. These things all go together; teasing out “where to start” in a :LIFE: is not only silly but is pretty much impossible – a starting point can be anywhere. It’s all connected. For me, things fall apart first in my home, if something is not quite right in my mental state. Why is this? Well, probably because I grew up in a VERY messy household. Intelligence, curiosity, integrity, all sorts of things were valued…but cleanliness? Just wasn’t really high up on the list. Things suffered even more when my father – the homemaker, a quite unusual thing for the time, died unexpectedly when I was thirteen and my sister was ten, leaving my mother suddenly widowed with a new house we’d been in less than a year that she had no real idea how to care for, landlady responsibilities she had never signed up for, and OH did I mention my sister and I went through puberty the year after that…at the same time? (I apologize to my mother upon occasion for the whole puberty thing…) The house was atrocious, terribly horribly bad. But it was what I was used to, and though it may seem intuitive if you’ve grown up with it that way, there is “learning” in how to keep a house neat. Not just how to CLEAN it – that I excelled at, I could take the worst, most terrifying room, and get it spotless through an insane amount of work…I just couldn’t maintain it, I couldn’t KEEP it neat.

Over the years, I lived in my own place (sort of) with two roommates, and we battled over dishes and such. I discovered Flylady and overthought it instead of taking baby steps, I just wasn’t grokking the reason yet why you can’t fix everything in on fell swoop. I got married (to one of my former roommates), moved in with my inlaws for 9 insanely difficult months (suffice it to say, my mother-in-law grew up in EXACTLY the opposite situation as I did, cleanliness-wise, and even for that, it remarkably anal), and then my husband and new baby daughter and I moved to our own, totally independent place.

And there I struggled. My husband, having grown up in such a different way, was always on my case about the house, or so it seemed. I was working, and he was the one at home with the baby (no longer quite so unusual a choice), and even with that, I wasn’t keeping things clean enough for him (despite that he did most of the work). This caused so much tension that it led to our separation – he left me while I was pregnant with our second child. Now, the house was nowhere NEAR as crazy as it was when I grew up, but the constant fighting finally got to be too much for him. For my side, I couldn’t figure out what his issue was. I mean, he told me, but it didn’t make any sense. Meanwhile he wasn’t stellar either – among other things, he would splurge money that wasn’t “his” to spend, often putting us in difficult financial situations that should have been easily avoided.

We were separated for two years. How we got to a point of reconciling after that is a long story, and one worth telling in its own right, but a big part of it is that I finally figured out WHY he was upset. I finally understood one of his favorite sayings, one I just never :got: before: “A room is like a mind.”

He would say this, and I would nod, maybe smile, and thought I got it. But I didn’t.

Living on my own, with only a 2-year-old, left me no one to blame for things being out of place, and no one to clean up except myself. I was well and determined to prove him wrong, very motivated to show him that FUCK YOU I can do everything you can do, and BETTER, and a whole lot else besides. I wasn’t doing it in a mean way really, but I was absolutely certain that, his naysaying aside, I COULD change, and I WOULD dammit. And so I returned to Flylady.

This time, I read the whole thing, I let it sink in, and I started small. I kept my sink shiny, and I read the emails daily, and what do you know, my house started to come together. And as my house came together, I felt better. When I wanted to make something, I could find the materials I needed. When I woke up in the morning and walked into the kitchen, I wasn’t overwhelmed at the dishes needing to be done. In fact, my shiny sink positively HUGGED me. It made me smile, giggle even, every single morning. It was AMAZING. I could think clearer, I could relax, and I WASN’T cleaning all the time. In fact quite the opposite. I felt like I wasn’t doing much “work” at all. What made the difference, what finally taught me not how to clean but how to KEEP things clean, was routines.

At the end of every night, after putting Ana to bed, I would pick up any stray items in the living room and kitchen and put them away. This was the work of only a few minutes. (It helped that I got in the habit of, whenever moving from one room to another through the day, asking myself “is there anything here I can take where I am going and out away?”) Then I would sweep the carpet (again, tops 3 minutes) and HEY the living room was now pretty much spotless. Moving into the kitchen, I would wipe down the counter, stove and table (maybe 5 minutes…if I was slow), do the dishes (usually 15) and sweep (2 minutes). Then I would mop (something I used to dread but realizing it actually took very little time helped a great deal!) All in all, I’d be done with the main rooms in less than half an hour, and WOW did it look good after. And I felt great. Instead of tiring me out, having the house clean gave me energy.

And somewhere in all that, I finally understood. When the room is cluttered, your mind is cluttered. Your energy is all tangled up and everything is hard. Finding things (in room or mind) is difficult, it takes lots of work, and often ends up in needless duplication (anyone who’s ever bought a 2nd, or 4th, pair of scissors when you couldn’t find the first (or third) knows what I mean here…). When the room was clear, my ENERGY was clear. I could relax. Nothing whispered at the back of my mind, telling me “look at those dishes, you’ll have to do that soon”, or reminding me for the umpteenth time that “you’d better mop up, it’s getting downright sticky in there.” When I relaxed, I was truly relaxed. Nothing needed doing because everything urgent was DONE. “A room is like a mind.”

And oh, what a difference it made to understand that.I finally understood that THIS is where we had been crossing wires, this more than anything else. When the room was messy and the kid just gone done for a nap, *I* had seen two hours to spend with my husband, precious minutes to catch up, to talk, to fuck, to snuggle. I didn’t want to CLEAN, that was WORK, and kept me from that vaunted couple-time. But for him…the subconscious message he got if I pushed him to chill with me was “she doesn’t care if I can relax”…pretty much the complete opposite of what I wanted him to feel. We both wanted the same thing – enjoyable, pleasant time as a couple – we just crossed wires in understanding how to get there.

That brings me to today. Three years after we reconciled, we are apart again. For some of the same reasons and some different ones, but on the whole a very friendly separation. It’s been four months since we broke up, and while I am doing quite well in a number of ways, I realize some things definitely suffered. And chief among them has been my routines. Now, to be fair, my routines had suffered a great deal before we separated, and so the structure for them was already crumbling. As I mentioned, keeping my house neat is one of the easiest things for me to lose, even though it gives me so much benefit. Still, changing such entrenched habits and mind-processes IS difficult. Or rather, not difficult, but one must respect the process, the fact that it takes TIME to create new pathways in your brain, and moreso, to program those new pathways to take precedence over the old ones that have been carved in.

I forgive myself for the fact that the house has been pretty bad. This is important – if I don’t forgive myself then I can’t move forward – and, that said, I have been getting back to Flylady and my routines. One of my favorite sayings of hers is “You are never behind. Just jump in where you are.” and that’s what I have been doing. I’ve pulled out my timer, and in 15-minutes bursts I’ve made a goodly amount of progress over the past week. The most important thing is that I have KEPT the progress I have made, because I have not just been cleaning but also doing my morning and evening routines. THAT is the important part.

A room is like a mind…and I am ready to let mine be clear again.

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About a year ago, I was at the dinner table with my kids when my younger daughter, then three, taught me a valuable lesson.

 To give a little background, my kids are very eager to get taller. They have a wall marked with measurements and they love to check it. My sister (their primary caregiver) had begun telling them that they “need food, water and sleep to grow”, in part to encourage them to nap – after all, it helps you grow! So, at this particular dinner, my two daughters were talking with their father and myself and the youngest one pipes up, rather randomly, “I need food, and water, and…and sleep to grow, right?!?” Before I can reply, their dad jumps in quickly with “And love!” which of course made me smile. My daughter however didn’t miss a beat: She replied “Oh, I HAVE love! I love Mommy, and Daddy, and Ana and Connie and Nanen and Grandma and Grandpa…” and on she lists all the people she loves, while I struggle not to burst into laughter. That wasn’t what Daddy meant at all!

But later I got to thinking about it. And I realized…she was right, and we were wrong. You don’t need the love coming from others to you. What you NEED is to have love in YOUR heart for others (and for yourself, but that is another story…)

The more time went on, the more I realized what an insight this truly was. When you’re feeling lonely, or upset, or afraid, just look into your heart and realize, love keeps you warm. Not the love coming in from others, but the love you radiate out into the world.

How many people do you love?

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This is a story written by my sister some time ago about Ana. As it ties into my post about trying food more than once, I thought I’d share!
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Ana doesn’t like licorice. She devours fennel, but licorice isn’t her thing. Well, more for the rest of us.

Today, I desperately had to shower… and the cornstarch trick only made it more desperate, so I set them in front of TV for 22 minutes while I did this. Doors wide open and all that. Left the licorice where they could get it, because they don’t like it.

Peek my head in, guess what Ana’s trying to sneak?

And I *told* her, as I took it away, that she doesn’t like it anyway, and do you know what that girl had the unmitigated gall to say? The nerve? The chutzpah, in fact?

“But, Connie, you have to try it more than once!”

Which of course is what we always tell her about carrots and eggwhites and other foods of dubious nutrition. NOT, I must repeat, NOT candies and licorice that we don’t want to have to share anyway!

Well, I laughed. Aaaaaaaand… then I said she was quite right and here, she could try another piece just to see. They’re kinda big pieces, too.

Well, she put the whole piece in her mouth, and she chewed, and she chewed, and she smiled at me and pointed towards the door… and me? I waited. And waited. And waited, as she kept nodding and smiling and waving towards the door, until I suggested that she try swallowing.

Gotta give her credit, she smiled right up until the point where, halfway through swallowing, she realized she couldn’t fake it anymore and spat it right out. “I don’t like this Connie!”

Well, that’s why I didn’t bother hiding it, Ana! Who’d expect her to sneak candy she doesn’t like anyway? And it’s not like I didn’t warn her.

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We use a number of things to get both kids (3 and 5) eating nutritious food – particularly vegetables. You could call them tricks, but really these tips are not tricks.You could call them tricks, but really these tips are not tricks. What they are is a process of changing perspective – yours and the kid’s.

First off, inspired by a study that showed it can take up to 10 tries to learn to like a food (and this goes for adults as well as kids), we have a standard line in the household – not only is it used by Deme and myself, but also by my sister (who is their weekday caretaker) my mother, and the kids themselves. That line is “Did you learn to like it yet?” and the variant “You have to try it more than once!” (Ana used this line once to hilarious effect!) We also talk about how my sister taught herself to like peppers, eggplant (now her favorite veggie) and, just this past year, beets. So the kids not only hear us tell them to try it, but they also hear how it works, and they see us practice what we preach. Also, at this point they have their own stories to tell – Ana knows how she didn’t used to like kale, but now it is one of her favorites (to the point where she runs over shrieking in the supermarket “Kale! Kale!!” and I have to stop her at four bunches – she would surely keep going!)

As an important part of that, we encourage them to take one bite, even if they didn’t like it before. “You might have learned to like it” and if they still don’t like it, we don’t push. We will just say “Oh, I guess you didn’t learn to like it yet. Maybe you’ll like it next time.”

Another vital thing is, we ask them to eat what we eat. It stands to reason that the kids will do what you do. So if you always feed your carrots to the dog, you are teaching them that vegetables are “icky”, and of course they will feel the same way.

Also incredibly important is: Do your vegetables taste good? It seems silly to ask, but lots of people serve extremely bland, often overcooked veggies and then of course don’t like them. This is easy to fix – but fresh veggies (frozen are so mushy!) and cook them in a delicious way. Need ideas? Ask me!

Young kids are very interested in everything and being curious often like to try things when they see you making them. Rather than tell them not to eat the raw cauliflower you are chopping, let them try a piece. Don’t tell them “Oh no! That’s for dinner.” – there is nothing better for them than raw vegetables. Mind you, over time you may find you have to plan for more veggies when making dinner than you used to! I always have to chop an extra pepper for the kids to share, for example. Other raw vegetables they are fond of include broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, snow peas, and with my younger one, carrots and beets.

Beets you say? Why yes! Nothing could have surprised me more than when Eva walked up and asked “What are those?” as I was peeling beets for dinner. “Raw beets” I said, and she replied “Can I try one?” “Sure – Wait, here try one of the peeled ones.” And of she went, apparently she liked the first bite because she ate the whole thing out of her hand like an apple, and came back asking for more!

I am very careful with things like that NOT to show my surprise. I want my kids to think of eating vegetables as yummy and “normal.” If you react with glee at every bite of kale they eat, they will instead get the message that eating veggies is “weird.” In fact, my daughter was quite surprised when a friend over at dinner announced (before trying them) that she didn’t like something (it was either beets or kale, I don’t recall). Ana looked quite shocked and said “Yoy don’t like kale???” I believe she followed up by saying “You have to try something more than once” LOL!

These things all work best if you use them from the beginning, but even with older kids they can help. The most important thing is to lead by example. You may even end up having a conversation later down the road about how to handle peer pressure at school when the other kids think that what your kid eats is “weird!”

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