Latest Entries »

Happy Anniversary 2016

When we met, you told me that what I need is a strong Master. And that you are one. You were absolutely right, on both counts! And you were exactly the right Master for me.

Thank you for everything you have given me and done for me.

Here’s to many more happy years together! I love you, Master ¬†ūüôā

Solitude

sweet-solitude-edmund-blair-leighton

Sweet Solitude by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1919

I want to reveal something personal about myself. It is not an easy thing to understand. I will do my best to explain it. I ask you, gentle reader, to suspend judgement until you have read my entire post, and do your best to understand, and, if necessary, forgive.

No matter where I start my explanation, it will be very easy to jump to conclusions. If you read one sentence, or even one paragraph, and quickly believe that you understand… please bear with me, because you probably don’t understand. Even if you think it’s simple, trust me, it’s not.

Let me start with a caveat: people are different. I know that seems crushingly obvious, but I need to say it. What is right and good and healthy and natural for me, may be completely different from what is right and good and healthy and natural for you. Just because something works for you does not mean that it works for anyone else. So please keep that in mind if you find yourself thinking that there is something “wrong” with me. Okay? Okay. So, here goes.

I am blessed to enjoy a handful of intimate relationships with some remarkable people. I give thanks every day that I am lucky enough to have these people in my life. I strive to show them the same love, compassion and respect that I have received. I am also blessed to be part of a wonderful community, to which I happily give time, talent and energy, because I enjoy doing so, and as a way of returning thanks for the many gifts I have received. I am very glad to be part of the community, part of a family, and part of a D/s relationship that is, quite simply, life-sustaining for me.

All of that is absolutely true. It is also true that I am sustained by solitude.

Since some of you will read that and instantly have a negative reaction, let me unpack it for you. Solitude is not the same thing as loneliness. Solitude is not isolation. Solitude is not withdrawal. Solitude is not depressing, painful, or unhealthy in any way.

For me, and others like me, solitude is serenity. Solitude is tranquility, a restful peace. Furthermore–and this is important–solitude is not the opposite of relationships. For me, solitude is fuel. Solitude is what enables me to love.

This is not true for everyone. In fact, it is not true for most people. Most people draw energy from being around others, and when they are alone, they feel lonely and isolated. They seek out company because being with people recharges their batteries.

I enjoy being with the people I love, and I seek out their company because I like it. I like to laugh and share and be intimate just as much as anyone. But for me, it takes a lot of energy. I like it, but I can’t sustain it. At some point, even if I am enjoying myself, I will begin to feel drained, then exhausted. And then, in order to recharge my batteries, I need solitude.

While I am alone, I am refueling. I am centered, focused and grounded. I may be working, playing, reflecting, studying, meditating, daydreaming, praying, planning, or indulging in small pleasures. But unless something unusual has happened to cause it, you can be certain that I am not sulking, pining, standoffish, hiding, lonely or withdrawn. I am most likely  content, and happily immersed.

That doesn’t mean that I hate interruptions, or that I don’t want to be around people. If for some reason I need to protect my solitude, I will; that is my responsibility, not yours. So don’t worry that you will bother me if you interrupt me. And if you interrupt me and I say, “not right now,” it means exactly that–it doesn’t mean forever. It means that in this moment, I need to be recharging my batteries, but later, when I’m recharged, I’ll probably be up for spending time¬†together.

A few years ago, I wrote about the difference between introverts and extroverts. I am an introvert. My source of energy is reflection, deep thought, solitude and intimacy. I need these things so that I can sustain essential relationships, work, activity and community.

That is who I am. If I am not like you, and if that bothers you, I hope you will forgive me. After several decades of self discovery, I know with deep certainty that this is who I am supposed to be.

Never Again

Aging, in many ways, has caused me to look at myself with wry amusement.

The creaks and groans. When it takes longer to rest than to get tired. When children I taught have their own kids going off to college. When pulling an all-nighter means not getting up to pee.

For most of my life, I was younger than everyone else around me; always a year younger than others in my grade at school, the youngest of my cousins, younger than almost everyone else in my graduate school class. Now, in many situations I am one of the oldest, if not the oldest person in the room. This amuses me. In the classic three stages of womanhood — maiden, mother and crone — I have become the crone. I honor and embrace my crone-ness.

Advancing age has brought on what I have called the “Never Again” effect. It’s a moment when you come to the realization that you have probably experienced a certain thing¬†for the very last time in this life.

It’s not so much about deciding not to¬†do something ever again. This is more about the realization that you will never have the opportunity again, even if you wanted it.

We all have a private bucket list of things we want to accomplish or experience in this life. “Just once before I die, I want to…” My bucket list included, among other things, five musical works that I wanted to sing at least¬†once. It didn’t seem an unreasonable goal, as I was a member of two professional vocal ensembles that might have done any of those works. But age eventually got the better of my voice, and my singing career ended before I was able to sing any of those five works. No amount of effort or determination will restore my ability to sing. Physiology is what it is. Aging happens.¬†I realized one day that I will never again be a professional singer. I will never again have that opportunity. That was hard to accept. I had spent most of my life in pursuit of, and immersed in that life. It was not easy to think back on¬†the hopes and dreams I had in grad school in my twenties, the energy and optimism with which I embraced the journey, and to realize that now, whatever was going to happen, has already happened. That life¬†is finished. It is over now.

That is just one example. There are many others. A few of them, in the past few days, have been very painful. The number of endings in my life is beginning to outweigh the number of beginnings.¬†I am by no means unique in this. I’m guessing it happens to everyone. But in this journal I can only speak about my own experience.

In young adulthood, with decades ahead of me, the future was an intriguing mystery. With the arrogance of youth, I felt that anything was possible. I could select any path I desired, and pursue it with confidence and hope. Now, in my seventh decade, some of those paths are forever closed to me. I have been blessed with intelligence and ability and have always had a lot of drive to accomplish my goals. It has been extremely difficult to accept that some of those goals now will forever remain unmet.

Sometimes, I say “never again” with a sense of relief. About certain things, I think, thank goodness I never have to do that again. I grow increasingly aware of the things that are a waste of time and energy, and as I grow older and my supply¬†of time and energy shrinks, I’m unwilling to spend any of it on pursuits that ultimately mean nothing.

A few things escape the “never again” effect because no matter how old one is, one can never be certain they’ll never happen again. Who can say for sure that one will never fall in¬†love, or never witness an astounding event? In June 2014 I was pretty sure there would never be¬†another Triple Crown in my lifetime, but the very next year, I was proven wrong. Sometimes you just never know.

But the list of assured “never again” grows longer with each year. It’s increasingly¬†unlikely that I will ever be wealthy, own a nice home, have children, travel to far off lands, learn to sail, buy a new computer, etc. etc. My limited resources, my dingy little apartment, my solitary life, my physical limitations… this is it. This is what I get to have now. Whatever I have now, is what I’m going to have from now on. My ability to change it has diminished.

Should I mourn? Or celebrate?

There was a time when I had ambition. I had the vision of a hopeful future, and the energy to make it happen. Gradually, life’s defeats and disappointments took their toll.

Now, where once I had vision, I have understanding. Where once I had ambition, I have acceptance.

These are not bad things. ¬†Perhaps they add up to that elusive quality called “wisdom.”

I can no longer chase a bucket list of accomplishments I will never achieve. But I can love the people who are given to me to love. I can no longer sing as I once did. But I can embrace moments of joy and laughter.

I can’t escape¬†the storm of passing time. But maybe I can learn¬†to dance in the rain.

dance-in-the-rain

burglarTo help protect our grid¬†from content theft, Littlefield recently created a new venue for our premium content, that cannot be accessed by hypergrid visitors, but only by committed, active members of our own community. Unsurprisingly, in response to an article about it, this move was met by criticism from the very people who forced us to enact this change. They spouted self-righteous platitudes about how Opensimulator “must” remain open and interconnected. Pretty words… but completely empty.

We started out believing in that fanciful pipe dream of being all open and interconnected. But Opensim people took dreadful advantage of us. Too many hypergrid visitors took our content, not to use and enjoy for themselves, but to SELL, when we had given it away for free.

But to me, even worse than that are the people who assume that we created OUR content to support THEIR grid.

People often praise the quality of content on Littlefield grid. Our content is outstanding because we worked long, hard hours to create it, and because we spent, literally, THOUSANDS of dollars of our own money to purchase premium textures, animations and so on directly from the artists who created them. Those premium building materials are superior in quality, but, not surprisingly, they come with licensing agreements, including the agreement that those materials would be used only on our grid.

Why would we spend so much of our own money, and use it to create things that we give away for free? For one reason and one reason only: to build a COMMUNITY.

We give things to the members of our community because our community¬†gives back. We have an awesome community of people who help and support each other. Most hypergrid visitors, on the other hand, rarely participate in our community. They come, they take stuff, and they leave. They don’t even talk to us. What good does that do our grid?

We aren’t here to show off our creations. We are here to build a community. We invest in content to support our community. That’s the only reason we do it. Letting our content off our grid (1) does not support our community, (2) violates licensing agreements, and (3) pads the wallets of copybot thieves at our expense.

Littlefield is not now, never has been and never will be a business. We have never charged a penny for our content and we never will. It will always be given away for free.

If people from other grids would like to own our content, I would be more than happy to show them where to take a class in building skills, and point them to the same artists who supplied our materials, so that you can buy from them also. But instead of putting in the time, money and effort to create things themselves, people want to take a short cut. Instead of creators, they just want to be consumers. They want to build their grid using our stuff. I’m sorry, but we aren’t here to supply your grid with stuff. I’m happy to show you how to create your own stuff, though.

.

How to defeat terrorism

Today, instead of rage, I will embrace compassion.

Compassion is the polar opposite of what they wanted us to feel. They expected that we would be enraged, and respond in kind, striking back with brutality as they struck us. But they don‚Äôt get to have their way‚Äďnot from me, anyway.

So today, instead of tearing down, I am going to build something.

Instead of feeling fear, I am going to do something fun.

Instead of feeling grief, I am going to rejoice in love.

And that is how I defeat terrorists.

9-11-survivor-tree

.

.

.

(reprinted from 9/11/2013)

What’s the best way to design and lay out a store in the virtual world? One of my responsibilities in our virtual world is building most of the shops, so this is a topic always on my mind. In search of some fresh ideas, I recently visited the Hair Fair in Second Life. Although the hair creations showcased at the event are interesting, I am always¬†more fascinated by the venue–the design of the sims and the individual shops.

I complain that I struggle with creativity, that I am more of an engineer than an architect. But instead of just whining about my deficits, I do my best to try to learn what I can about design, style and composition, so that I can become a better builder. For my own education, I photographed all 60 shops at the Hair Fair, and made¬†notes about what I liked and didn’t like about each¬†design.¬†I was struck by how each tiny¬†shop was uniquely and meticulously designed, and how lovely¬†they all were.

I decided to share some of my observations here, for the benefit of my friends on Littlefield Grid. We are blessed on Littlefield Grid to have a lot of creative people, who generously share their creations with other members, so we have lots of shops. While there is nothing wrong with pasting vendor signs on the walls of a rectangular room, it can be fun to challenge yourself to think creatively, and come up with new and different ways to arrange a store. Please allow me to support you, by sharing some of my observations.

1. GET OFF THE WALL!

There is no law that says you have to paste vendor signs onto a wall. Sometimes someone will complain to me that they have used up all their wall space. While making a bigger store for them is not a problem, there are lots of other ways to use the space. Use the middle of the room!

This shop sported hotel lobby luggage carts:

HairFair_002

Here the signs were hung from the ceiling:

HairFair_038

Products and vendors can sit on various types of tables, shelves and racks. This also allows you to use the wall for other things, like windows, to enhance the appearance of your shop.

HairFair_011

HairFair_030

HairFair_029

HairFair_052

.

2. BREAK THE BOX!

Frank Lloyd Wright famously waged war against the tyranny of the “box.” When every room is a rectangle with corners, it gets pretty boring and can feel confining. Although the space assigned for your shop may be rectangular (as all these examples were),¬†you can take steps to make the shape more interesting. When the corners disappear, the room feels more spacious.

These shops varied the shape of one end of the room, making it round instead of square.

HairFair_026

HairFair_018

Who says that the floor has to be flat? Or the walls or ceiling, for that matter?

HairFair_032

Here they made the corners vanish into darkness.

HairFair_010

This shop got rid of the corners… and the walls and the ceiling and the floor… leaving nothing but product.

HairFair_042

.

3. USE A MOTIF

You can make your shop more interesting with a theme or motif that reflects your style and the style of your products. Here are a few interesting ones I saw:

Parking Garage:

HairFair_006

Make the indoors outdoors – go to the beach:

HairFair_060

HairFair_023

.

4. FRAME WITH ALCOVES

If you have to use the wall, consider creating alcoves to frame your product.

HairFair_051

HairFair_047

HairFair_024

HairFair_020

Above all, make the experience of visiting your shop an interesting one for your guests. It’s a great way to make life more enjoyable in our virtual world. Your creations are and should be the center of attention. I hope this shows you some ways to make them stand out!

.

Happy 6th Anniversary

Happy Anniversary, Master! Here’s to many many more years togetherūüôā

With love, from Your Camryn

We speak of “real¬†life”¬†in contrast to the virtual world, as if the physical world¬†is more legitimate, more authentic. The virtual world is relegated to the status of playful fantasy. A dream.

When I entered the virtual world, I dreamed the person I wanted to be. I thought I was fantasizing. Some would say I was creating a character. That it was “playing.” I thought so too.

I immersed myself into the dream. It was rich with color and feeling, alive with relationships and possibilities.

The woman I dreamed was me inhabited a boundless world. There were no constraints on her. She could be anyone she wanted to be. She didn’t become anyone. She became someone. She blossomed, becoming¬†an authentic individual with a unique personality and style. She was not a character. She was not a fantasy.

One day, I realized that this dream person is the real me.

The physical world that my flesh and blood body inhabits is confining. I am trapped inside walls of limitation. Not only physically, but in terms of just being who I am. I have never been able to be myself¬†in the so-called “real” world. But I didn’t even know it, until I had the opportunity to dream myself into existence in the virtual world.

There are still a few who choose to look through my virtual self, ignoring me¬†as if I¬†were not real, or just some kind of placeholder, or at best, dismissing me as a fantasy¬†character. They consider my physical self to be the “real” me.

That makes me sad. Because those people have chosen to limit me. They have chosen not to see the real me.

Dream the real world with me.

to dream

Ragnar Lives

I am a big fan of the hit TV series “Vikings,” which chronicles the exploits of legendary¬†9th century Norse hero Ragnar Lothbrok.

Ragnar Lothbrok, 9th century Norse hero

There is a lot to like: complex characters, sweeping cinematography, gripping plot lines, and a fascinating‚ÄĒsometimes terrifying‚ÄĒglimpse into¬†an ancient culture.

Vikings “lived large.” They did not shun violence and brutality, but they loved as fiercely as they fought, boasted of their battles,¬†cherished their families, thirsted for adventure, honored their gods and embraced expansive joy over and above¬†guilt. They raided and plundered from England to Rome, taking what they wanted to take, dealing violence to anyone who stood in their way. The haunting “Vikings” theme song says it all: “Give me more, give me more, give me more.”

How different from our own morality! Or… is it?

We espouse noble values of peace, respect for others, diplomacy and moderation. But sometimes I wonder how deep those convictions really go. If you scratch the veneer¬†of our so-called “civilized” world, does our inner barbarian still lurk beneath?

Imagine if you travel to another town, and see something you really like, for example a shiny new car. You want it. You fantasize about owning it. Your civilized self would go home, earn the money, and buy one. But your inner Viking, if empowered by strength, would simply take the car that you see. You feel entitled. Because you want it. Because you can.

In the real world, most of us would not simply¬†take someone’s car. Most of us choose to live within the law, and respect the mutual agreements that constitute civilization.

But the virtual world, for some reason, seems to be different. In the virtual world, the inner Viking is unleashed.

Grid raiders hop from grid to grid, like 21st century Vikings, and feel entitled to take whatever they see. Because they want it. Because they can. Buildings, landscaping, clothing, hair, furnishings, vehicles, whatever.

Sometimes they¬†make a ridiculous attempt to disguise their hypergrid plunder by giving it away and calling it a “freebie.” As if that fools anyone.

If you are a virtual Viking, at least have the courage to admit it. Vikings valued truth and honesty, along with strength and courage.

Personally, I choose not to unleash my own inner Viking. I will never take any so-called “freebies” from other grids because I know how often¬†those freebies¬†are plunder‚ÄĒthe hard work of an artist¬†who did not consent for¬†it to be stolen and given away. But that is my choice. I can’t¬†control what morality others choose.

In the end, who wins? It’s hard to say. I like to think that the consequence of respecting creativity is to create an environment that encourages more creativity, which¬†benefits all of us.

Even so, it is worth looking at history. Ragnar Lothbrok and his raiders plundered England, taking as much treasure as they could, but 250 years after the events chronicled in “Vikings,” one of their descendants simply¬†took the whole island. In 1066, William the Conqueror,¬†the great-great-great-grandson of one of those same 9th century Viking raiders, invaded England and became its king. The present day British royal family, those figureheads¬†of civilized values, are in fact direct descendants of the¬†barbarian¬†raiders who plundered Lindisfarne in 793 AD.

Is it possible that civilized values are not the opposite of barbarian values, but only a mask, a disguise? Is it deceptive, allowing us to deny the existence of our inner Viking? Or is it a way to protect ourselves, and others, from its power? How do we come to terms with the conflict between these aspects of our nature?

If grid raiders continue to be Vikings,¬†taking what they want to take because they want it and because they can, without guilt or respect for law, will we be better off? Or worse? I don’t know. I can’t say what the ultimate outcome will be, or should be. For myself, for now, I choose to¬†continue to let my watchword be respect.

And I’ll just watch Vikings on TV.

.

No reason

With apologies to proponents of cognitive therapy, I think the head is ultimately powerless over the heart.head-heart

Using logic in an attempt to control feelings is ludicrously futile. ‚ÄúYou have no reason to feel that way,‚ÄĚ we say to ourselves. As if that means anything at all.

Maybe I have no reason to feel what I feel. Nonetheless, I still feel it. I am an intelligent, reasonable, rational person. Yet if I am heartbroken, all the logic in the world will not mend me. No amount of rational thought will ease my pain.

Oh, the battles we fight with ourselves over this conundrum. We try to hide our feelings, to give the appearance that rational thought has won the day. We seek various cures that are supposed to produce ‚Äúserenity‚ÄĚ to keep our emotions in check. But if we are really honest, we have to admit that those feelings are immune to the power of rational thought. We feel what we feel. Logic has nothing whatever to do with it.

We should just swallow our pride and admit to those embarrassing hurt feelings. At least to ourselves.

.