Sunday, July 06, 2014

Summer time, when the living is ... *deep breath*

I am experiencing something right now that so many of you do every year. However, it is brand new to me. I have a child attending public school, so this is my first "have them home all summer" thing.

Normally, all of my kids are here all the time, and you just learn to pace yourself. I've written before that we needed to make some changes for everyone, and this was a great decision. No regrets. It is beneficial to the entire family.  However ... summer.

All of the benefits we reap from a team of people in the life of a child are just gone. *poof* Like that. For three months.

You have to acclimate to the constant again. It's showing me just how much I do this naturally with homeschooling, and just how well I got used to the "new normal" in our home.

Thankfully, we are surviving with very few tears and I have yet to pull out all of my hair.  Which is good, because mine would come out very quickly, seeing how most of it is stuck together.  Thought I would share my gems that have made a huge difference for us.  It's simple, really.

I have a really long list (40-50 things) of things my child can do at anytime during any day of summer. It is posted in a prominent place. It involves some electronics. It involves movies and shows. But that is not where I have seen the biggest help. That list is chock full of lots of messy things. Stuff like fingernail polish, paint, makeup, face paint, craft sticks, glue and Sharpie markers. Messy stuff.

I have some boundaries on these things (mainly where they can be used). Other than that, the only thing I ask is that the last thing be put away before you start the new thing. I have to remind my kid of that regularly, and they have been fine to comply. Mainly because they are super excited to be moving on to the next thing.

This particular child has ADHD. Like, has ADHD so severely that it took a trained professional to point out what was going on because what I was seeing did not fit the stereotype in my head. As we have treated it in multiple ways, I have discovered that so much of their behavioral and social struggles are a part of a mood disorder, sure.  However, the ADHD is lighter fluid on that flame. This list thing has been wonderful. And they truly enjoy all of the many ideas and options about 85% of the time.

I have also been practicing "yes!" a lot.  If it's not going to hurt a person or a thing, I try to say yes. It is the summer of mess, but it is also the summer of peace and joy. It is the summer of creativity.

It is the summer of removing polish and repainting nails four times a day.  "Mom, I don't like how I painted my nails this morning. Can I paint them again?" I sat and thought and then let out a, "Yes!" I also helped them buy their very own polish remover, cotton balls, and makeup remover wipes with their allowance money. All theirs. No one else can hog them or use them up, and they can use them all day long if they want to.  Put it on, take it off. Paint it on, take it off. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

It is messy, but I created areas where the mess is fine and encouraged.  Why, yes, their clothes are covered in stains. Permanent stains.  Many on the butts of their britches.  Uh-huh.  Look at me all not caring! Just gonna' buy ALL new things before school starts again. Someone give me a ribbon!

I was taught a lesson a year ago from a therapist who has issues with attention:  kids with ADHD don't often feel overwhelmed, they actually tend to feel painfully bored to tears. Out of all the things on the list, I'm seeing about the same six activities repeated most of the time. The choice gives feelings of control. The mess factor gives feelings of creativity and again with the control aspect. I made sure to put a little novelty in there, like "Eat a meal outside."  Who knew? I've never once said you CAN'T eat outside. However, after putting it on that list, my kid has eaten breakfast and lunch out there almost every single day.

A list. A long list. Of lots and lots of ideas. And me embracing and encouraging mess. It is saving our summer.


(I have since created a Pinterest board of most of our Summer Fun list)


Follow Christine's board Summer Fun List on Pinterest.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Immediacy and Impermanence

This week I participated in beautiful and ridiculously lengthy Facebook thread, birthed by burners. It was full of snark and brilliance. Within minutes I had fallen madly in love with people I have never met, and wanted them all at my party.

Also, I wanted to plan a party.

It erupted quickly and the comments multiplied for the better part of the day. No, really. It was insane. Hundreds of comments.  Notifications going off non-stop: ding, ding, ding. I actually crawled into bed that night and thought, "I hope a bunch of these hysterically genius wonders of humans don't stay up late and post a bunch more funny. I'll miss it and have to catch up in the morning!"

I did.  I totally thought that. I was serious.

The next morning, I woke and immediately grabbed my phone to see what I missed. Here is where I learned a big, painful lesson.

The thread was gone.

It had been deleted by the person who started it, because ... why not? It was so funny to begin with and why not just remove it?  *poof*

It was perfect and it also pissed me off (while some people actually posted they were pissed off, I played it cool and said nothing - even when feeling pissed off, cause I was so funny in my comments).  I sat there and felt like the last picture of my grandmother had been lost in a fire. Yes, that is ridiculous, but that is how I felt in that moment.

"Impermanence may be heartbreaking, but it’s also kind of awesome! It means that we get to remake the world in every moment." - Steve Bearman

It does seem like such a little thing, but it forced me to think of how all change affects me.  It's one of the ten principles that continues to challenge me and I'm radically resistant. I know why I struggle with it. I hold onto things too tightly. I place value in things, for fear that if the thing is gone, the experience has been erased. I have my own reasons for this, and you have yours. I figure I have fine-tuned this throughout my lifetime, so the change will continue to be slow and steady. "A journey, not a destination" and all that crap.

"Instead of resisting, allow change to unfold and try to understand what’s transforming and why." - Vishnu (go read this whole article and just sit in the middle of it for a good, long while)



Tuesday, April 29, 2014

There is no magic pill, right?

If you are like me, you are an animal when it comes to seeking out help for your kids.  From struggles with learning, to finding clothes that fit right as their bodies grow and change, to learning about all the therapy options for mental and emotional health issues ... we advocate for the little and the big.

(photo by Tibor Fazakas; used with permission)


I touted mindfulness mediation almost a year ago when I wrote: "Meditation ... not just for the woo-woo hippies anymore." I knew it was a good thing for me to be doing. I had read the stuff and knew the studies. I did it for me. All that time I knew if it was good for me, it would be good for my kids. I thought that. I didn't do anything about it. Until February.

One of my children worked with me and their therapist, and took a one-month challenge to meditate and list gratitudes every day. We saw a definite change in their ability to self-regulate and an improvement in their sleep. They also started to enjoy meditation, and then led their own group on Facebook for the month of March.

And I knew. I knew I needed to add it to the day of another child. This kid has struggled deeply and greatly over the last few years. We started a treatment plan that included medication and play therapy. We continued with good diet and sleep habits. Yet, there were still some definite daily struggles ... waking up angry and miserable every single day. It was hard to watch and frustrating to see it continue, regardless of the steps we had taken. So, we started daily meditation. This child is younger, so we kept them short and geared toward children.

Oh. my. holy. cow.

Is it a magic pill? No. This child is not free from all of their struggles. However ... however, we have seen daily improvements in sleep, mood and an increase in genuine happiness and joy. We have seen a very obvious decrease in negative behaviors that were not affected by medication and therapy alone. For the first time. Ever. This child will continue to battle some things, but the daily meditation has removed so many clouds from their "sky."

You can read more below. You can google search and watch resources. Do your own legwork. Or trust me. Give it a try.

I am so happy with how it has helped my children and myself, I am going to offer a way to help you give it a try. You see, we do guided meditations we find online (note: NOT just sitting there still and quiet for ten minutes!). For the month of May, I am hosting a Facebook group where I will provide these daily meditations you can just stream online and do alongside your child.  Nothing fancy. Just meditations we have found online that work for us. This will be geared to grade school and younger. To join this group, head over to "Meditation May!"

My daughter is going to host another month online for teens and adults. This keeps her accountable and is helping her practice her leadership skills. You can find that group at "Love Me, Choose Me, Pick Me." Why, yes, we do love Grey's Anatomy in our house. Please note:  if you join her group, she expects participation. She's 14 and leading the way. The adults better keep up!

I triple-dog-dare you to try this with your kid for one month. Give yourself and your kids little weekly rewards when you knock out another seven days, if you need the extra push. I dare you to just give it a good, solid try. It's free. It's simple.

And I'll be doing it with you.

Now for links and research and what-not.

************************************

Dr. Bruce Perry is touting the unbelievable impact of rhythmic activities: yoga, meditation with deep breathing, singing, dancing, drumming, etc. Read more at "Perry:  Rhythm Regulates the Brain"

"Recent studies from Massachusetts General Hospital have shown that eight weeks of MBSR can actually produce thickening in particular regions of the brain important for learning, memory, executive decision-making and perspective-taking: all important functions to have at optimal levels when you are under stress or experiencing pain. Also, certain regions get thinner like the amygdala, which involves threat and fear circuitry. If the amygdala is getting thinner after you’ve been practicing mindfulness for only eight weeks, I find that pretty amazing." Read more at "Q&A: Jon Kabat-Zinn Talks About Bringing Mindfulness Meditation to Medicine"

"For years the research results have been pouring in: anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and heart disease respond to meditation. The latest study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that a practice that incorporates mindfulness meditation can boost attentiveness and improve mood while lowering stress in less than a week. After just five days of 20-minute sessions, students who meditated outscored their peers (who were practicing a form of guided relaxation) on tests of attention—and reported feeling less angry, anxious, and depressed." Read more at:  "A 3-Minute Dose of Meditation"

"From eight types of potential benefit identified by the study’s authors, those rated as most important by the students were stress relief and enhanced school climate, including through improved teacher mood. Although further study is needed, these results indicate that high-risk adolescents can sense the benefits of mindfulness meditation after just brief exposure to the practice." Read more at "Research Roundup: Mindfulness in Schools"

"Several experts likened the current state of mindfulness to the way people approached yoga a few decades back. These days child's pose is part of everyday language, but not so long ago yoga was seen as kooky or, worse, some odd religious practice. Like yoga, mindfulness is rooted in contemplative religious practice and like yoga has been secularized and is used as a complementary medical treatment for many conditions, as well as in schools." Read more at "Mindfulness mediation at school gives kids tools for emotional expression."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Six years

(November 2010 - Elizabeth Knox Photography)


Six years ago today we became a family of seven.

It has been the hardest six years of our lives. For all of us. We share this - the struggles, the pain, the very difficult memories.

It has also been the greatest six years of our lives. For all of us. We share this - the healing, the joy, the love that was proven day after day and the family.

We are a family.


(May 2013)


My children are my heroes. They deserve this. They deserve family and hard, hard, hard work from their parents.

I talk with a lot of parents to help them learn and stay present in a way their kids need. I've never experienced anything more challenging than the person I have had to try to become over these last few years. It is hard. It is so hard.  

Ultimately, though, is not about us. The parents. It is about our kids.

Today read this and remember who has the hardest job in all of this.

Our kids have it harder than us.

Our kids did not ask for any of this.

Our kids want to do better and be better, but desperately need someone to help them.

Our kids cannot and will not be able to do it on their own until they have been re-parented through their gaps.

Our kids have been hurt in ways we cannot fathom.

Our kids deserve the insanely radical efforts of therapeutic parenting.

Our kids deserve parents who take good care of themselves so they can wake up and try again.

Our kids deserve love and loving acts, even when no one is feeling warm, loving feelings.

Repeat one of my mantras with me:  the only thing harder than parenting them is being them.

Celebrate your kids today. The fact that they still wake up and breathe. They are so strong and so scared. They are more strong and more scared than us. They are brave and weary. They are more brave and more weary than us.

I invite you to use our day of celebration (with some pain mixed in) to look at your kids in the way we forget to do. Their whole being. Their whole story.



******************************


To my kids,

I love you guys. All of this, everything we've all done, is for you. Because you deserve it. It's not about us, and it's not for us. It's for you. You are so amazing and worthy. I am so sorry that I have had many days of being messed up and human, and I know my words and voice and face have told you otherwise. I know there have been times that I have reflected back to you the very people who brought you pain earlier in your life.

None of the bad is your fault. On those days it is my problem, and I am letting my own issues spill over on to you. What I do know is that you have slowly and steadily responded to the work we've all done. Because that is who you are, in your core and in your very being. People around you did things to bury that and make it feel impossible to truly be your beautiful self. But with some help, the real you has come to the surface. I'm not surprised. You are light and love. And you deserve space to still struggle and still keep working. I will keep working to be what you need.

You are so very worth it.

You have been such a gift to me, and taught me so much about life and being brave. I will never be the same because of you.

It is an honor to be your mother.  I love you.

- Mom

(December 2013)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Help with the day-to-day



I have used Facebook much more over the past two years, and it has replaced a lot of my information sharing I used to do on this blog.  I like the immediacy of it and the ability to engage in conversation.  It also makes more sense to send out quick links to articles on my Facebook coaching page than to create a blog post for those small items.

Unfortunately, due to continued policy changes, fewer and fewer (as little as 5% - 10%) of those who follow my coaching Facebook page actually see the content I post in their newsfeeds.

I have created a solution.  For those who would like parenting tips, challenges and ideas (and occasional coaching discounts) without having to check my page, I now have an email list.  Remember, as well, that the things I share are positive and effective for all homes and all kids.  You don't need a child with a history of trauma to find benefit in being playful, accepting, curious or empathic!

My promise is:  no more than one inspiring or ass-kicking email a week.  No more than one discount email a month.  You may unsubscribe at any time.  Easy peasy.

You will have to verify that you signed up.  So, please don't SPAM your friends and put them on the list without permission ... much less your partner/daughter-in-law/neighbor, insinuating they need parenting advice.  Not cool, man!


Parenting Tips and Coaching Discounts from Christine Moers

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Help and Support for Parents for $3



I am very excited to tell you how you can have instant access to "Chaos to Healing: Therapeutic Parenting 101," day or night, for just a $2.99 rental fee.  Since its creation, this video has been utilized by therapists and foster parent organizations across the globe.  It continues to help parents and other caregivers learn a new way to help children with deep struggles and challenging behaviors.

When Billy Kaplan and I created this video resource, our goal was to make something for parents and professionals that was affordable, practical and full of quality information based on the PACE parenting model of Dan Hughes.  We did just that.  In case you were not aware of it, we can also add "easily accessible" to the list!

For just under $3, you can rent "Chaos to Healing" through Amazon instant video.

We also encourage you to share this with your adoption and foster care agencies as well as parenting groups you are a part of.  This adds another wonderful resource for training and continuing education credits.  It makes their job easier, and it's something you can watch at your convenience instead of trying to find childcare and get to another class scheduled at a difficult time across town.  It is such a privilege for Billy and I to be adding a valuable and extremely affordable tool to the "toolbox" all of those who are providing homes and safe spaces for the children who need it most.

You can cut and paste the following link to this post and simply forward it in a text or email (or use the the email button below):  http://goo.gl/TGDhLw

At the bottom of this post, you can also find the buttons to post it to your Facebook page or other social media sites.

Dan Hughes, himself, has viewed "Chaos to Healing."  He had this to say:

“Billy Kaplan and Christine Moers have produced a wonderful video that describes the basics of therapeutic parenting. They don’t rely on special video effects to convey their knowledge and ideas. They simply sit and and have a conversation with us, with empathy, respect, interest, and a clear desire to be of help. 
First they help us to understand the tremendous challenges that children face when they are given the chance to live in a safe home with caring and committed parents, after first having experienced neglect and abuse at the hands of their original parents. Then Christine and Billy let us know that they 'get' the tremendous challenges facing parents who are trying to raise these children. 
They do not give us magical techniques or parenting cookbooks. They direct our minds to the basics: an attitude of playfulness, acceptance, curiosity, and empathy (PACE) along with the value of developing a home that provides these children with safety, supervision, structure, and support. They offer no quick fix: Christine speaks of the need to interact with your child, again, and again, and again ... However, they leave us with hope and renewed energy to provide these children with what they desperately need.” 
- Dan Hughes, Ph.D.Quittie Glen Center for Mental Health

SPACE Conference in Illinois


Once again, I will be attending and speaking at the Parenting in SPACE Conference, April 12-13 just outside Chicago, Illinois.  The registration costs will increase again on March 25, so I wanted to put it in front of you one more time, in case you've been putting off your decision to attend.

Lindsay Crapo and I will be hosting the pre-conference for moms.  This will be a relaxed time to connect in a smaller group, receive some encouragement and develop some wonderful friendships which will carry you throughout the following year.

The two of us will also be doing a break-out session during the conference.  I'm very excited about this one:

101 Reasons Not to Do Therapeutic Parenting  
Christine Moers & Lindsay Crapo
This therapeutic parenting gig is hard. When you look at it on paper, it makes sense. You might almost feel empowered. However, doing it in the moment can feel impossible. What we all discover is that we do not like it. Not one bit. It is HARD. In this session Lindsay Crapo and Christine Moers will share their real, raw stories, ways they have done it WRONG, and the things they keep learning along the way. They will remind you that you're not supposed to be perfect, and you are already doing a great job. Even when you are pretty sure you are screwing it all up.

Check out the entire conference schedule and then see if it is something you can make happen. It's more than a conference. The House Calls staff are available throughout most of the weekend for you to pull aside, ask follow-up questions and fill in the gaps we all tend to have after your average conference. It truly has a personal touch in a way I've never experienced in any other similar setting. This is why I push this thing so hard every year, and I am so proud to be a part of it. It is the brain child of Billy Kaplan, and his goal every year continues to be, "How can we better support these parents?"

I know, right? Amazing! I hope to see you there.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

A playa lesson that stuck




This would be me.  Burning Man 2012.


I was reminded again this week (and last month) of another life lesson the playa taught me.

I am responsible for my own experience.

I am responsible for my own pleasure.

No matter what is thrown at me.  No matter what happens to me and around me.  I have choice.  I have power.  I have complete control over my own response to everything.

In parenting.  In relationships.  In travel.  In work.  In life.

I am responsible for my own experience.

"In the final analysis, the questions of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it happened."  ~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Negative things will continue to happen the longer I breathe and walk around.  For a while I wanted them to stop.  I wanted to avoid them. Cause, you know, that's possible.  *cough*  Now I know I can embrace the negative, feel it and then choose how to respond.  Respond instead of react. Raymont Anderson is a life coach who tries to help his clients understand the results of responding in anger when something is thrown at them. For instance, someone cutting them off in traffic or being hurtful. Maybe our children responding to us in a not so pleasant way. Our natural response is anger or lashing out.  Fighting back. Anderson asks, "What did that give you? What was the benefit? You are the one who raised your blood pressure, levels of cortizol, and testosterone as you responded in anger."

Hmph. I hate how right he is. Those things are already elevated. And we can feel them and stay with them, waiting for them to subside (all the while, not reacting from the middle of that muck). Or we can react in a way that actually increases all the negative.

I am responsible for my own experience.

I have choice and power. Granted, I might not have all the choices I want, and I might not be able to exercise the amount of power and control over a situation I would prefer. That does not remove the fact: I still have choice and power. I am not here to experience my life passively. I want to participate! Own it!

If I want something to change, I am responsible for asking for change or making that change occur. Again, it might not be my ideal, but I have the power to speak, ask, compromise, find contentment in what is handed to me, think outside the box to do so or walk away.

"My life is perfect, no matter how it looks."  - Jackie Woodside 

I have stopped for a moment to ask myself if I really believe that.  My life is perfect, no matter how it looks? I believe I'm a perfect parent. I really do. Not because I do all of the right things all the time.  I'm a perfect parent because I am human and I keep trying. Keep leading by example. Keep loving. Keep showing them how to fix stuff when a person messes up (which means I have to mess up for that to happen). It is not possible for any person to make the best possible choice in every circumstance, so that can't ever be the definition of a "perfect parent." Can I apply this same thinking to my life? That it's perfect, no matter how it looks?

It is. Because I don't let my negative life experiences dictate my happiness or my fulfillment. I don't let them own my head and my heart. I do not let them feed me lies that I have no choice or no power.

Screw that!

I am responsible for my own experience.  And how.
 "Self-Love is about embracing your unity and equality.

It is about knowing that this is your life and that you are the one responsible for your experience of it.  It is about being your own hero. 
It is about creating space for yourself instead of waiting for that space to magically appear. It is about knowing that there is room for you on your to-do list." -Christie Inge (emphasis is mine) 

I'm going to head out and make my day what I want it to be. No matter what is thrown at me. Then I think I might just do it again tomorrow.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Maybe it wasn't what you were expecting

I just had the best Sexuary of the six years I've been doing this.

I started Sexuary (Sexperiment) because I had spent most of my life trying and opening up to things that might improve my sex life.  Because, ummmm ... it would be stupid not to, right?  That makes sense.

However, I was doing it because I thought I was broken.  I wanted to be like the women who wanted sex all the time.  I wanted to want sex.

I wanted to be a guy (although, yes, even plenty of men struggle with what they think their sex drive should look like).

I wanted to fix me.  But I wanted to fix me for my husband.  I wanted to be a better wife.

Now, I don't have a problem with doing things to be a better partner or a better friend or a better mother.  Those are all good.  But over the last few years I have discovered just how important it is to be a better me, before I can do any of those other things.  If I don't love me, I can still go through the motions and do the right/good things, but they bring about no internal growth.

I had to make it about me.

While most of the posts over the years have been about sex with a partner, I was simultaneously doing my own internal work.  It was deeply personal.  Many times painful.  Often empowering and amazing.  Not the kind of thing you want to share with the world while you are working through it.  So, this year was the ideal time to encourage others to try the same.

Several years I have had people admit that they "hide" Sexuary from their partners, because they don't want to set sexual goals.  Or they just get depressed because they are single or in a sexless marriage.  Or gay/lesbian/bi in a heterosexual marriage.  Or they just plain hate sex.

They many times echo what I have felt:  "I am broken."

I was not broken.  I am not broken.  You are not broken.

But a lot of us get into a routine of regularly not stating our needs, or seeking out solutions.  And that's what this year was about.  It was a year to be brave and peel back very scary layers.  Look at what was underneath.  Dare to have really terrifying conversations not knowing what the other person would feel or say ... but having the conversation anyway because it was the best thing for you to do for yourself.

It's hard to post that in a way to help you understand what I saw this year.  I can never capture the amount of vulnerability and bravery I witnessed in such a diverse way from such a diverse group of people.  It wasn't just the people in our Facebook group, but plenty of you out there sending in emails and writing about the big, scary, amazing ways you were finally taking care of you.  And being honest with yourself and those you love.  Finding answers.  Negotiating.  Hearing your voice continue even if it was shaking.

So many of you "got" it.  Stating your needs and asking for things to change, or for compromise, is not being a bad partner.  It's being a person of worth and value and treating yourself with just as much compassion and respect as you do for others.

While I will not be writing posts throughout February in the future, that month will forevermore be Sexuary for me.  And I hope it will be for you, too.  I have a feeling I will do a private group each year, where people can have a similar experience.  We'll all need it at different times for different reasons.

Who says your big, brave thing has to happen in February?  Do it this week.  Next month.

You are worth it.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

What you've been learning about "me"



I've asked some people to share what they have been learning this month as they make themselves the focus.  The Sexuary group encompasses about 100 people.  They are all participating in various ways.  Here are what some of them have to say.


"I have become more aware of the pieces of myself that I am still not loving. I didn't even realize how much of myself I still have hang-ups over until trying to complete the daily self-gratitudes.  I thought I was pretty self-accepting but have realized during this month that I have so much farther to go yet. (Further? It seems like it should be further.) I have been challenged, reassured, intrigued, and at times even a little shocked--not by you, but by my own lack of comfortability in thinking about and discussing sex. Thank you for the opportunity to take a loooong...hard (pun intended) look inside for these few weeks. I look forward to the continued conversations with you and with myself."

*************************************

"This theme hit me right when I needed it the most. SO far I have learned/am learning: my language affects my children. My complaints about my body are training them to self-loathe. I'm using different language that promotes appreciation, not disgust for who I am. I've always been happy- dependent on the acceptance of others and i'm learning that I don't need others to tell me i'm good/right/a Christian/beautiful. I am learning that I make those perceptions myself and then they are MY reality. Their perceptions cannot affect my reality, and that's a hard one. I've always had a fear of being alone in many capacities and this group has shown me that I am not. We all have the same fears/desires/wants/needs just on different levels.  But, in the end we are all so very much the same. It has been thought provoking, inspiring and life changing to me (and opened up a lot of new dialogue with my husband and I)."

*************************************

"There were moments early this month because of the nature of the Sexuary group (such a variety of people and types of relationships) when I thought 'how can I be focusing on the ME theme when I am constantly pondering other people's experiences?' Then it hit me that this context IS EXACTLY how. Thanks to you amazing people I have spent everyday this month examining my own freedoms and limitations, my triggers and my turn ons. You all have unwittingly challenged the areas in which I've remained cautious and have exuberantly applauded when I am badass and brave. And in practicing grace, gentleness, acceptance, excitement, and pride for all of you - it has become easier to extend the same grace, gentleness, acceptance, etc to myself.

I needed to get to know all of YOU so that I could get to know all of ME! ("Circle of Life" soundtrack begins now :-))"

*************************************

"Participating in Sexuary was the final piece to the puzzle to bring me to the point where I can say that I love my body. I don't hate my body anymore. I even took a full frontal nudie pic of myself. And liked it. And kept it (courtesy of an app that lets you password protect photos). There is no way I could have done that a month ago. Or ... well any time in the past."

*************************************

"Probably the best thing has been putting faces to the whole spectrum of sexual behaviors. In Christian circles people who have sexual practices other than a lifelong monogamous marriage relationships tend to get demonized. We're afraid of the unknown. So thank you for being brave and out there and honest and sharing a small part of your lives with this Sexuary community. It doesn't change my own preferences but I'm not offended or afraid of the differences anymore."

*************************************

"While I do enjoy porn, I would also say it's had a negative impact on me. Because I started checking out porn as completely unexperienced virgin, and I do not recall one conversation with my parents about sex or the body, I took those falsified videos as the norm. That's what my body should look like. That's how I should shave. That's what sex always looks like.

However, I don't hold it against porn. And it's not JUST porn, it's media. Even if someone never touches porn, it's not like they don't still get images of what they 'should' look like. But through life and experience, we learn. We learn what's realistic and what's faked. We can learn to accept and love who we are. We realize that every body (literally- body) is different and that it's okay.

Again, though through porn videos, I did develop a false idea of sex/body... I think that can happen regardless. Fact is, it is easy to feel insecure. It's easy to feel like you don't measure up. It's easy to feel like you're not beautiful enough, smart enough, sexy enough. But it's our thoughts that need adjusted, not necessarily our actions.

I had to adjust my thoughts and my beliefs about who I should be. For me, porn wasn't the enemy... I was my own enemy. And I had to make friends with myself. Still working on it, but we're getting there."

*************************************

"I have not only found that my sexuality is not shameful, it is natural and loving. I have learned that it is okay to ask for what you want and that it is okay to admit you want to be loved. For me I was not worthy of love from anyone else. I picked men that were unavailable to me. They were married, here in the same state because of school but are leaving. I have always set myself up to be left. I have now come to understand that its my fault and mine alone. I have learned that I can love myself, ask for what I want and not be ashamed of it. The result is a long term loving relationship with no shame attached. In being brave comes true inner peace because my bravery helps me get my needs meet. I also learned a lot about anal play. LOL. I am a bad a** mother f*****."

*************************************

"I love what [she] just wrote about the symbolic meaning behind the ways we modify our bodies all the time--claiming it as ours, using it to make statements to the world about who we are. So much of what I find I am sharing in all these threads is not really about sex at all. Or about preferred pubic hair length. Or back door or front or toys or none. All my reflections & comments are really about me wanting to be real with myself, be completely vulnerable with *somebody*, to be true to me, to figure out how to come to terms with all these different areas of sexual expression and what they make me think and feel about me. I want to figure out who I really am sexually and then empower her. Boy, I am so dense. In other words, I am learning about my innermost self through all this. Which was the whole point."

*************************************

"I had no clue that I had a crazy amount of shame issues. This Sexuary I has opened me up to be more honest and much more exciting in my (almost) 10 year marriage. Honestly I was scared to communicate what I wanted or what I liked."

*************************************

"One of the biggest things I’m learning, and this community has majorly helped with, is simply that it is okay. Who I am, things I’ve done— it is okay. As far as I can think, outside of intentionally harming yourself or others, anything is okay. It might be something different for all of us, but we all have struggled with something that we feel is unacceptable. Whether in regards to our appearance (tattoos, breast size, weight, how we dress, etc), our sexuality (gay, polyamorous, open marriage, queer, etc), or another part of who we are, a person or group tells us that who we are is not okay. And that sticks with us. It’s hard to shake. If we’re not careful, we can easily let fear and shame and guilt and feeling inadequate drown us. And we start to believe these people. That we are not okay. This is bull***t. And you don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve it. We are okay. And not “okay” meaning simply satisfactory, but acceptable. Lovable. Decent. Beautiful. Permissible. Who you are is okay. What you’ve done is okay. That does not mean everything is good and right… sometimes we need to correct a wrong. Sometimes we need to apologize. Make a change, adjust an attitude. But what it does mean is this— there is no part of you or I that is completely unacceptable. We should never, ever feel bad or shame about who we are. Even making a mistake is acceptable. Learn from it. Then move on. Do not carry guilt with you. There might always be that person or group that tells you that you’re not okay, they are wrong. Love them anyway. But let them carry the burden that their judgement creates. It’s their burden, not yours. I accept you. With your pubes sticking out of your panties, your naked smooth vag, your chest hair (hopefully just the men?), your love for porn, your “vanilla” sex, your polyamorous relationship, your sex toys, your beer belly, your flat chest, your penis that doesn’t always cooperate, your lack of libido, your insane fantasies, your wavering faith, your monogamous marriage— yeah, you. You are okay."