Home, Community, and Understanding.

“Home is not where you live, but where they understand you.” — Christian Morganstern

Coming home to a small town after a large event is an odd thing, if you’ve never been to one, I don’t know if I can rightly explain the sense of belonging, community, and togetherness.

One of the presenters at Wicked in the West had said when they leave an event they crawl back into their cave and are alone again until it is time to “peek out”. I didn’t really understand this until I had time to think about it, and now I understand completely.

For us, it’s hard to keep in touch with people: work, the gym, minimal time with my girl as it is – our random phone calls, talking back and forth on social media it’s all a way to keep connected. However, I must admit, I miss talks till all hours of the morning over scotch, hugs, and not feeling like an outsider because of my/our fetishes or play. Even the act of entertaining, which we love isn’t something we get to do often, if ever.

The great part about being who we are, is that we are out, we make very little (if any) distinctions between vanilla and kink life, because of that I’m known as the slightly “odd” friend. There are parts of our lives I can’t discuss in good conscience from authority transfer to S&M on a regular basis.  I’m at home with this, and truth be told, we are currently moving towards helping create a local community, or at least increasing the miniscule one we have.

For those of you in a larger community, I offer this suggestion.

Quit taking things for granted, quit complaining and start contributing. Sure, there are issues – predators, drama, personality conflicts, and good old fashion disagreements. Is there a perfect solution? Hell no, however, at the very least do your best to not make whatever the current issue is, worse.

Realize that you HAVE a community of like-minded individuals available to you, for munches, play parties, and learning opportunities to explore things YOU find important. Even if it’s only 4 or 5 people who get together and practice rope ties. Your micro-community is there to support one another, and find joy in things that others can’t (or won’t) understand.

Reach out to people, try and find common ground, morals and beliefs. Be compassionate, fair, and non-judgemental. Have boundaries, sure, but be welcoming, inclusive and kind.

Be a builder, be engaged, and be thankful you have a home where people understand you.

In Leather,

 

Syn

 

 

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Wicked Trifecta – Or 2 out of 3 Ain’t Bad.

We just returned from Edmonton and the Wicked in the West conference. It was celebrating it’s 3rd year, and this was our second time attending.

Our second go ’round with wicked can be captured with a statement I thought of while in the car home. “Our first Wicked was like finding long lost family, this one was like coming home to them.”

I attended many of the classes that focused on the Journey of why we do what we do, how we got there and how to foster community. As per usual I learned a lot, about myself, my authority transfer, my Friends, and family. To each and every one of you, Thank you for having the hard discussions, letting us into your lives, and your transparency.

I have to also take a minute and recognize all of the WCPE and WCBB competitors, it takes a huge amount of courage to open yourself up and let people (in some cases relative strangers) put you under a microscope. Your commitment to sharing your passion, dynamic, and expertise is worthy of so much respect.

I have to confess, I do feel slightly guilty about not being able to meet as many new (to me) people as I would have liked. In the organized chaos of coming and going, play, and reconnecting with our western Brothers and Sisters, I felt a bit selfish for not being able to carve out more time.

Last year We attended with the intent of experiencing as much as we could at a Con far from home, meeting people, and learning from as many people as we could, this year for me, Wicked felt different in a few ways but no less game changing, and certainly caused no small amount of self reflection.

I learned the importance of family and being present with those we love for their milestones, Thank you for including me, and allowing me to share in your moment, and everything after.

I learned that I care little about judging pasts, but care deeply about how it helped turn them into humans I have taken to caring for a great deal in a short period of time. Thank you for your vulnerability, your wisdom and welcoming us as family. I will say it again – One day we’ll sit down and I will hopefully be able to share my past with you, so you will understand.

I learned the value of connective energy – from a few people, thank you for allowing me to share your energy, your joy and your catharsis through our scene (with one beautiful human) and being there for the others while you were having hooks thrown.

I learned the value of working on being a hedonist a little more, be in the moment, enjoy things for what they are. My head fuck things up a lot – and sometimes I need to listen to those that love me, and those that challenge those preconceptions I have. 10/10 would be less awkward. (Ok, I’m still going to be awkward, but I’m more OK with it now)

I learned the value of accepting a compliment at face value, I’m lucky to have friends in my life that see things more clearly than I do sometimes, and need to accept good council all the time, not just when it suits my comfort or narrative.

I learned I have things to do, and things I want to accomplish rather than just existing, I have found my way to continue to give back, I promise to try and live up to the idea of being a lynchpin because I think I understand now.

I learned that though I may not always agree with my Leather Family, We are still family, and I continue to be impressed, humbled and blessed to have you all in my life.

I learned the value of second impressions, especially when they are  close to chosen family sometimes the person you first meet, isn’t the same person the second time.

I learned that my girl is even more amazing than I thought, and although people may come and go, she is my constant, unwavering partner in life, love and so much more.

There are other lessons, other thoughts, and memories, but these are the ones I have been chewing over in my coconut the past week. I am sure as I unpack more I will have more learning, lessons and love to reflect on.

Thank you Nelson and imp for giving all of us a place to come home to every year and reunite, meet, and learn together. It’s a gift I can’t adequately thank you for, ever.

So that was part of my Wicked Family experience.

I learned.

I laughed.

I grew.

I was loved.

In Leather,

Jason/Syn

Integrity.

Integrity is a strange concept to most.

Many know the word, even more use it, but few really know how to define their version of it.

Folks in Leather circles also tout integrity as one of the standard core principles, but really what does it mean?

I can’t profess to tell you what integrity will mean to everyone, but I can tell you what it means to me, and how it relates to my leather path.

Integrity for me, contains two parts – being honest, and having strong moral principles.

Honesty is a no brainer for me. I will admit in my distant past I was less than an honest person, and it cost me dearly.  I used to surround myself with less than honest people, and so lies, deceit, and political games became my norm, couple that with the circles I ran in, the behaviors I indulged in, and the people who encouraged it, and it’s no wonder I hit bottom and bounced. I’ll get back to this later on, but I wanted to get this one out of the way for the time being.

Strong Moral Principles.

It hasn’t been an easy road to develop those, Just like my honesty, in my younger years I existed in a morally grey area, I lived a life that, in order to survive I continually compromised my morals to fit in, to make a living, and even just to feel like part of the people I chose to associate with. Cheating, lying and using people for my own ends was the norm.

I hit bottom, and disappeared, I had to reinvent myself because I didn’t really like the person I had become.

I won’t go into the proceeding years, but I will say I took a long hard look at my values, morals, and how far I would really go to protect the person I wanted to become.

So this brings us back to the two things I consider integral to Integrity. Honesty, and strong moral principles.

In my life I expect honesty from myself and others, I don’t word vomit everything to be honest or transparent, however if you ask me a question I will answer you truthfully – You might not like the answer but you’ll get it. I expect the same honesty from the people I choose to trust and let in. I also Do my utmost to be honest with my partners and family about needs, wants, desires. Honesty isn’t a part time thing, it’s all or nothing, in my mind it requires you to be comfortable with being a villian in many eyes, and strong enough to stand by your convictions.

Being of strong moral principle is a little more of an ephemeral thing. Everyone’s morals can and will be different, so I will speak from my own standpoint and beliefs.

I have a few core morals – conducting yourself ethically in relationships (ethical monogamy, and nonmonogamy), honesty, honor, transparency, and doing the right thing. There are MANY more, but these are some of the ones that spring to mind in regards to lifestyle context.

I tell my girl all most everything in regards to what is going on in my life, who messages, what we talked about etc etc…. The potential of new partners – play, sexual or otherwise is something that should be discussed on the ground floor in the interests of honesty and transparency. I also take the same stance with my girlfriend as much as able, and again to be transparent – less so in terms of scenes I may have, however I don’t hide them by any means. I also take a similar stance regarding friendships and acquaintances – If the information is relevant to them, I often share it, regardless of the outcome.

Doing the right thing is something that I think encompasses all of the above, however, Also the easiest to bend to fit your own world view. In my past I hurt a lot of people because my moral compass was quite literally broken as fuck. As I got older I vowed to try and do what was right, and it’s all I continue to try and do daily. It took a lot of work to get here, and I’ll be damned if I ever undo the work I’ve put into it.

Integrity is one of those core leather principles I hold dearly, and many profess to do so as well, some are genuine, and some like to think they are.

I really do try and surround myself with people who closely resemble and echo my thoughts on integrity and other Leather values, the trick is finding them and recognizing it in them. In my travels I have found many of those people and I am honored to call family, tribe, and love them as hard as I can.

In Leather,

 

Syn

 

 

Tools, Not Toys.

Not so recently, my opinion on Tools for BDSM activities has changed, I’ve gone quite minimal for a couple of reasons, which I’ll get into in a minute.

Right now, if you were to watch us pack for an event you might be surprised, my gear is simple: Black Jeans or Road Leather pants, Vest, random t-shirt, and my cane bag. That’s it.

Inside the Cane bag there’s a fairly impressive and growing collection, all from one vendor: Badass Canes. I have two other tools in there, Motherfucker and Oh SHIT!

Now the reason my Tool bag is so spartan is actually because of a thought I had a long while ago. I basically look at S&M as a hobby, and I’ve never been one to Cheap out on hobbies.

Full disclosure – I think the BDSM on a budget classes have their place, they’re a great place to get your feet wet and try out things for a minimal investment. However, my over-riding thought is that if you’ve decided to get serious about ANY hobby, you should eventually dedicate some serious money into quality tools.

Tobacco, scotch, vaping, drone racing, paintball/air soft, even photography. All popular hobbies/collections with functional application, but eventually you have to sink some cash into quality tools to improve the experience. I have a few friends who even knit or work with fibers, I’m sure they can tell you the investment in proper equipment is not only worth it, but improves the experience and end product by light years.

Using this logic I am of the opinion that, in order to create something extraordinary for myself and my bottom, I owe it to them to have high quality equipment. Picture a dark and dingy Kink.com video (we’ve all seen them), the bottom is squirming, yelping and sweat and blood is flowing off them, the dingy floor collecting all the various fluids, the screams echoing off the stone walls and floor – the tall dark and mysterious top is kicking them, punching, and taunting – then as a climactic finale they pull out the neon green and orange dog chew toy and proceed to swing it with wild abandon.

Would that ruin the carefully constructed fantasy from professionals? Probably.

We talk so often about fulfilling wishes and desires and carefully constructing scenes, but I find on a whole we rarely realize that the tools you use, from functionality to aesthetic is rarely considered – it’s all part of the scene you create, and personally I’d much rather have one REALLY well made tool, than a bag full I don’t give a shit about because they’re cheap.

Again: Quality tools are an investment, and yes based on the scene you’re creating or your level of involvement budget toys do have their place. All I hope you think about is how does this hobby stack up to other ones you have? Does it deserve a bit of an investment?

Just my 2 cents and a random thought.

 

Syn

Lets Create Something.

So lately I’ve been thinking a lot about something a few people have said to me.

“I couldn’t handle the way you play, I’m not ready for that level.”

I’m paraphrasing, but you get this gist.

The public play that most are exposed to are Dot and I together and truth be told I beat the hell out of her, because We like it. I’m a sadist and she is (among other things) my masochist. Canes, heavy rough body play, blood, spit, the list goes on. It’s hot as hell and we both need the release. However, what people don’t see is the softer side, or less physical activities.

Sensory Deprivation and sensation play, Needles and Needle play, mind fucks, Spanking, forced orgasms and orgasm denial, service, and bootblacking, the list goes on.

I’m adept at much more than just rough body play and other more violent and fucked up activities, I LOVE getting responses, whimpers, facial expressions, gasps, giggles and the connection that comes with it.

Too much I see people pigeonholed into one thing being their thing – the whip person, the rope person, the toy whore, the knife person. I am more than just a one trick pony, I truly believe that connection over a shared activity is much more important than the intensity of the activity, it’s about creating something together that is fun, satisfying, and beautiful together.

Before allowing yourself to pigeonhole someone, or being pigeonholed, I’d highly advise you look beyond a list of fetishes, or your preconceived notions about them. I for one hope that people realize I’m not just the heavy body play/cane guy, I have a whole world of other BDSM activites I enjoy and am quite proficient at. I want to share that with people and help create something we can both carry with us forward.

Regards,

 

Syn

Mentors Vs. The Cult of Personality.

When I first started dipping my toes into the wider world of BDSM (AKA found Fetlife and joined the local community), I made a few very telling mistakes… and it’s something I see a lot of still happening to people on a regular basis.

I fell into the trap of hero worship (emulation) rather than forging my own path and adopting things that had practical real world value for my life and relationship.

You see, my town is incredibly small and at the time there were few (No) power exchange couples locally for me to talk to and exchange ideas with – So I went searching, and this is where I found out the difference between carefully constructed fantasy versus real world applications. For those of you familiar with them, I aspired to be the next Peter Acworth, Stefanos, and James Mogul. Is this smart or healthy? I suppose it could be, had I not been taken up in the PERSONA’s rather than the real people behind the characters.  (For reference Stefanos is still someone I’d love to meet/attend a class from.) I very quickly was approached by someone who kindly offered some advice Via PM on fetlife and Helped nudge me in a better direction, To this day even though we don’t talk much I follow things he (and his slave) likes and comments on closely.

Over the years since then I’ve learned the difference between hero worship and mentors.

Mentors are people you can go to with questions, or in need of advice, and for the most part they are readily available to answer said questions or give out some wisdom. They’re regular people with flaws, insecurities, and practical real world experience. They can fill gaps in your skill set, and might offer other people to talk to who have a better grasp of certain subject matter. They want to see you succeed and reach your goals, and will help facilitate that however is needed, they should push you and challenge you. Mentors should not: try to fuck you,  sabotage your goals, or not practice what they preach.

Hero worship is blind allegiance to the ideal of something. Imperfections, and the struggle to become are swept aside in favor of a sparkling view of effortless success. The sad and accurate truth is these individuals are usually lauded with praise, and afforded attention that others are either denied, or have to work harder to achieve by order of magnitude. In such a sexually charged environment like the BDSM/and Leather cultures something as simple as a certain aesthetic or method of play can cause the hive mind to elevate that person to status and credibility that they might not otherwise attain or deserve.

So whats the point?

I see time and time again mistakes I’ve made manifesting in others, the Cult of Personality is strong, and the pull is intoxicating – To fit in, to aspire to the pinnacle, it can be human nature to do so, all too easily, and the followers of the these people can be zealots, from the D-list to A-list celebrities in vanilla and BDSM circles.

Many people confuse this with mentorship whether they mean to or not. Blindly accepting something as the proper path, or one to aspire to, will, in the long run, cause a pretty spectacular train wreck, publicly or privately.

Think critically of the people you put your trust in, your future in this subculture is your own – don’t blindly follow and expect success through emulation of your hero’s or trying to copy their aesthetic. On the flip side evaluate if you want to be a paper paragon, or someone people want to follow based on realism and merit.

I for one plan to do what I do, because I like it, and if people choose to ask – I have no problems digging up the pristine, along with the dirty truth of my journey because they just might learn something.

 

Syn

 

 

 

 

Ego, Community, and Progress.

“Why is success so ephemeral? Ego shortens it.  Whether a collapse is dramatic or a slow erosion, it’s always possible and often unnecessary.  We stop learning, we stop listening, and we lose our grasp on what matters.  We become victims of ourselves and the competition.  Sobriety, open-mindedness, organization, and purpose – these are the great stabilizers.  They balance out the ego and pride that comes with achievement and recognition.” – Ryan Holliday – Ego is the Enemy

It seems as of late many levels of the BDSM community has had issues with a multitude of things: consent violations, predatory behavior, divisiveness, and hero worship. I don’t profess to have the answers to all of it, but I do truly believe that most things can be attributed to ego.

Ego breeds divisiveness, the belief that so-and-so is better than others, that somehow their knowledge or past deeds affords them the ability to remain above or separate from both the community on a whole and consequences of their actions (or inactions). The belief that one group is more deserving of loyalty over another, based on an imagined (and often unseeable) line in the sand. The inability to constructively criticise or not attend an event for personal reasons without being ostracised. It all leads back to community divisiveness and a less safe environment for all.  We fail to discuss predatory behavior, or consent violators, or toxic people because we somehow believe that these discussions are drama.

“Choose not to be harmed — and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed — and you haven’t been.” — Marcus Aurelius

Ego is something I have struggled with over the years. In turn, it led me down a path of divisiveness, rather than learning, and comfort rather than progress. I’ve learned that if someone has an honest opinion of you that you disagree with rather than being hurt and taking the path of divisionism find what can be improved in yourself and move forward with unity in mind.

Now, that is not to say that if a person is a repeat offender/predator/unwilling to learn – that you should go out of the way to be inclusive. On a whole, a unified community would police itself much easier, rather than these individuals hiding in the “camps” of a divided community, because communication and shared goals have broken down.

I’ll be honest there have been times rather than “rock the boat” I’ve kept quiet due to politics, I’ve since realized that while tact and neutrality are important, I will always be pigeonholed into having chosen a side, whether I personally believe I am neutral or not. Do I attend every event? no, is it because of people? sometimes honestly it is. Other times, I dislike the venue, venue staff, offered learning experiences, etc. The problem with this being that ego can lead people to believe it’s an “us against them choice”.

“The problem is politics is made a sport, almost as much a sport as football or baseball. When it comes to politics, adults and politicians do more finger-pointing and play more games than children ever do. Too often are we rooting for the pride of a team rather than the good of the nation.” — Criss Jami, Healology

Thriving communities have one thing in common, and that is that the people who are involved in it are looking out for each other and the well being of the collective – there will always be dissenting ideas, but no voice should be too small to be heard, if not listened to. It should not be about political clout, it should be about moving toward the same destination if not in harmony, at least without sabotaging one another as well as some level of civility.

Just a few thoughts,

 

Syn