Category: relationships


Love Them Anyway

I had occasion to pass along this poem to a friend, and in so doing, discovered that the author has revised it slightly. I thought it a good occasion to reprise my blog post from three years ago, with the updated text. Enjoy.


love them anywayIt is a sad fact of life that “no good deed goes unpunished.”

Perhaps you have done a kindness by helping someone in need, as Androcles removed the thorn from the lion’s paw. But for every Androcles, whose lion repaid his kindness, there are ten who are attacked by the one they tried to help.

Some good Samaritans get so discouraged when this happens that they just give up, and stop helping others. If our motivation in doing kindness is to get a reward—even the reward of gratitude—we often will be disappointed.

Instead, we do kind things because that is the person we want to be. Do it for ourselves. Do it for our sense of self worth, our self respect. Do it for one’s own sake.

In his 1968 booklet, “The Silent Revolution,” Kent Keith advised, “give of your time and effort because you care and want to give, not because you are expecting anything in return… Do things because you believe in them, and the simple satisfaction of having achieved them will be enough.”

He goes on to admit that helping others often results in being attacked and mistreated by those you are trying to help. But his response was not disappointment. Instead, he proposed “Ten Paradoxical Commandments,” that rang so true even Mother Teresa posted them on the wall of her orphanage.

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

We show kindness to a lot of people on Littlefield Grid. We give of ourselves without any expectation of reward or profit. Sometimes, our kindness is repaid with gratitude. But that’s not why we do it. We extend kindness because that’s who we want to be.

Sometimes, we are repaid with thoughtlessness; and, on a few rare occasions, hurtfulness from the very people we helped. Thankfully, we have some terrific folks in our community, and that rarely happens. When it does, we could be resentful. But we aren’t. We keep right on extending kindness. And we always will.

We do it anyway.

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the submissiveA new submissive recently asked my advice. It made me smile to think that I’ve been doing this long enough, and that my contentment is so evident, that someone should think my advice worth having.

I am happy to share what I told her. Although she asked for “advice” and it is just easier, language-wise, to write it as such, I would not normally tell anyone what they should do. D/s relationships are all very different, and there is not much that is objectively “right” or “wrong” about them. What works for me, in a 24/7 TPE relationship, may not work for someone who is into “bedroom bondage” or time-limited “scenes.” With that disclaimer, I will share random thoughts that are probably valid for all submissives.

It’s your choice.

D/s relationships, even TPE (Total Power Exchange) relationships, are a consensual power exchange. “Consensual” is the important word there. You choose to surrender your power to Him, but that choice is yours. From that point on, by mutual agreement, choices are not up to you; they are His. You both enter into a consensual agreement for your mutual pleasure: you agree to give up control, and He agrees to accept it. Never forget that it is a choice; and one for which you both must take responsibility.

Let go.

Once you have submitted, go all in and relinquish control. Don’t tell Him what to do. Don’t argue. Don’t give Him 29 reasons why not. Just give in and accept His will.

I find it amusing when submissives wax poetic about “the gift of submission” and how they long for it, yet they don’t actually submit. Don’t say “Yes, if…” or “Yes, but…” Just say “Yes, Master.” Let go of your own will, and accept the gift of His domination. That thrill is what you’re in this for, isn’t it?

Don’t worry if you don’t submit fully the first time, or even the first ten times. Most subs need time for the trust to deepen. Your dominant should be helping you with that. Go easy on yourself. Listen to Him and accept His guidance.

If something absolutely goes against your grain, you need to be able to speak to your dominant about it. Which brings me to my second piece of advice.

Respect yourself.

A D/s relationship must be built on mutual respect (even if you are into humiliation). You must respect your dominant, but He also must respect you – and most importantly, you must respect yourself.

Giving control to another person can be thrilling, but you must have power before you can give it away. If you have no self-control, you aren’t ready for the discipline of a D/s relationship.

Delight in abandoning that control to another, but know where the safety switch is. Respect yourself enough not to let anyone damage your emotional, physical or financial health. Your dominant should care for you, but you have a responsibility to care for yourself, too. If you can’t care for yourself, you may lose the ability to give anything to Him. So speak up when you are in trouble; He needs to know, and it is the responsible thing to do. If your dominant does not want to hear about your needs, you may be in an abusive D/s relationship (and not in a good way).

Be generous.

Do not confuse “submissive” with “passive.” Submission may focus on being receptive and open, but this is not just about you. Pleasure should flow both ways.

Learn to be giving. Be observant; open your eyes and ears and heart, to see and hear and feel what pleases Him. Then give pleasure generously. A good dominant will do the same for you. The best dominants know what you need even more than you do.

Refrain from criticizing. Be very careful about humor; for some women, poking fun, in the guise of humor, is nothing more than thinly veiled criticism. Being critical is one of the most toxic things you can do to any relationship, D/s or otherwise. Instead of telling Him what you think He’s doing wrong, tell Him what He’s doing right. Remind Him why you admire Him. Look for and honor the best in Him.

Above all, in everything, be kind. None of us are perfect. If you want Him to forgive your shortcomings, be willing to forgive His. Compassion and simple kindness are in short supply in this world, and there’s no reason they should be, since they cost nothing to give.

Respect Him.

king and pawnI am continually horrified by the lack of simple respect shown by some submissives. Submitting to His control is only part of it. Observing correct protocol is one important way to show respect, but that should be a visible expression of a deeper conviction. If you have chosen to submit to this dominant, it should be because you respect Him. That conviction, in your heart, should be evident. Everyone should be able to tell.

You show respect in your speech and actions. You also show respect by being loyal, by being present, by being attentive, and by being faithful. It shows when you ask for His advice and guidance, and when you follow it. It shows in how you speak to Him, and how you speak about Him to others, even (especially) when He is not present. It shows when you support Him, and when you honor the people, ideas and things that are important to Him.

Lighten up.

As you give and receive pleasure, remember that laughter is one of the greatest pleasures. You don’t have to be serious and dramatic all the time. It’s okay to be funny and even silly sometimes. Just be sensitive about the timing of your silliness and keep it kind.

I don’t think I am particularly wise. These random thoughts are merely a summary of the things that I have learned by the good fortune of having been in a loving D/s relationship for eight years. For this, I owe an eternal debt of gratitude to my wonderful Master, Walter Balazic, for teaching me everything, and for being so amazing.

To all submissives, I wish you all the best as you immerse yourself in the pleasures of a D/s relationship!

 

8th Anniversary

Eight years ago today, Master, you gave me your collar, and in that moment I knew infinite joy. I am yours permanently, to infinity and beyond! I love you Master 🙂

 


(The background photo: “infinity room” mirrored art installation by Yayoi Kusama 2009. The artist intended it to symbolize eternal life; to me it captures my unending happiness as yours, stretching from that day eight years ago, to infinity and beyond!)

 

 

In 2014, on the 1st Anniversary of the opening of Littlefield Grid, my remarks were about building. On the 2nd Anniversary, my subject was inspiration; last year, on the 3rd Anniversary, I spoke about family. Today, I have one thing to talk about: Gratitude.

Gratitude is not only a debt we owe, or something we do to make someone else feel good. Gratitude should be something we do for ourselves. Having an attitude of gratitude, opening your eyes to look at your life and realize just how good you’ve got it, makes YOU a happier person. When we leave off complaining, and instead live in the awareness of the gifts we have been given, it changes our perspective about everything.

We have it good here on Littlefield Grid. We all could take a moment to step back, take a look at our situation, and realize just how good we’ve got it here. While other grids have failed, Littlefield is solid. Other grids have gone out of business; Littlefield is strong. Other grids have had technical breakdowns; Littlefield is running smoothly.

That is because Littlefield has what no other grid has. We have Walter. It’s because of Walter’s outrageous generosity that we have superior technology. It’s because of Walter’s vision that we have a virtual world focused on community, not profit. It’s because of Walter’s fierce leadership that each of us has a virtual home here.

And that is why I will lead the chorus of thanks – not because you need it, Master, but because I need to be grateful.

Master, when you gave me your collar, you promised to give me flight. And oh my, you have done that and then some. Buoyed up by your confidence and your love, I have soared. We all have.

In that spirit, I dedicate my exhibit for this year’s Anniversary as a monument of gratitude, to you, Walter, my Master and my love.

And I invite everyone whose lives have been touched by Walter’s kindness to join me in saying, “thank you.”

Gratitude Monument

jahrzeit

Elizabeth Rofanui – Feb. 29, 2016

The Heart of the Matter

To me, love is everything.

The name of my blog, “the space between,” is a reference to that belief. Everything in this life that means anything at all happens in the context of relationship, that “space between” people. And not just people: creatures, groups, nations, objects, ingredients, relationship-scienceskills, elements, atomic particles, nature, physics, heavenly bodies, theories, emotions, opinions and ideas are what they are by virtue of their relationships. They may be relationships of love, friendship, opposition, attraction, admiration, reflection, negation, celebration or humiliation, but they are relationships nonetheless.

Nothing and no one exists in isolation. Everything and everyone is in relationship.

Our opinions and beliefs inhabit our relationships. Our convictions affect how we treat the people in our lives.

My most deeply-held convictions are expressed in a set of guiding principles by which I strive to live. Relationship is at the heart of those principles. I try to live a life filled with love and compassion. I seek and honor the goodness that is in every person as a reflection of divine love. I respect the dignity of every human being, whatever my relationship with them might be.

This is not some insipid, vacuous, feel-good idea. Love is a challenge. It is an urgent, important challenge. If I believe that the universe is built on relationships, what will I contribute to it? What world, what life, what relationships will I create? Will I love only those who love me? Can I love those who hate me? Can I find the presence of divine love in those who do harm? Can I respect the dignity of every human being, even those whose convictions arise from malice?

Yes, I can. It requires no small amount of mindfulness. But yes, I can see and honor the goodness in every human being, even when – like most of us – it is just one ingredient in a mix of hatred, pain, greed, fear, rage, and who knows what else. Human beings are messy. But there is always goodness in there. There is always something in them to love. I make the conscious choice to find it, honor it, respect it, and keep my attention on that above all else.

I do not turn a blind eye to hatred, deceit and malice. I do what I need to do to protect myself and those I love, and to serve justice. But whether or not I agree with someone’s ideology has little or nothing to do with my love for them. My loved ones represent a very broad spectrum of beliefs, opinions, and convictions. To quote Kent Keith and Mother Teresa: we are all unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. I love anyway. I hope my loved ones love me anyway, too.

In time, one learns not to reduce humanity to white hats and black hats. One learns to tolerate ambivalence. I do love, and will continue to love, people who agree with me and people who disagree with me. I will consciously choose to respect the dignity of every human being, regardless of their beliefs and opinions. I will seek and honor goodness in all. I will love those who are given to me to love. I will strive to live a life of compassion and kindness, and nurture relationships into which I will pour every ounce of love I have to give.

Only in this way will I be the person I want to be.

To me, this is the foundation of everything.

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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   🙂

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

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. “You have no reason to feel that way,” 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 “serenity” 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.

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