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

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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

 

 

Patterns.

I’ve written a bit about energy exchange in the past, and the give and take that people have both in the lifestyle and in day to day life. Using positive and negative energy to our advantage or detriment is something that, if you’re unaware of, can dictate your success or failures with partners or even your chosen role.

Which brings me to something I’ve been reflecting on for the last little bit.

Patterns.

Humans thrive on patterns, whether you believe it or not. We hear it every day “They had a pattern of behavior”, “A pattern of abuse”, and other patterns. The trick is recognizing them and learning how to break a negative pattern.

Personally, many moons ago, I had a pattern of the type of partner I would seek out, and honestly I didn’t even realize it at the time. Looking back it’s very clear.

Abusive partner I could “save” them from? Check.

Minimal work on Loving themselves or self eteem? Check.

unhealthy coping skills? Check.

Vapid, Jealous, and mentally or physically abusive? Check.

Now all these things aside, I had my own issues to deal with, which I have gone into at length elsewhere – The important part was realizing my pattern and trying to break it.

Originally I placed the blame for my patterns squarely on others, it’s so much easier to blame others for your circumstances than put the work in to change them. In the end, the truth of the matter is that -I- was (and am) the common denominator.

I took the initiative to change my thinking, and really analyze how I deal with people and situations.

Am I being true to myself?

Am I openly and honestly communicating my needs, wants, and desires?

Am I seeking relationships that will enrich my life and help with personal growth?

Do the people in my life add anything of value, be it joy, friendship or companionship?

Am I being honest with myself about what kind of person I am?

Are my interpersonal/coping skills the problem?

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” – Marcus Aurelius

On the path of mastery one of the greatest things I ever made peace with was the fact that human beings on a whole are imperfect by nature (or nurture). I might not be able to control how they choose to act, live, and respond, However, I can choose to compromise with them.

Does my Partner make me happy? Hell yes she does, she adds to my life and my journey, but she does NOT define it, or control it. I see too much of people saying BDSM or power exchange “makes them whole”, or defines them, or their partner is used to define who they are as a person.

I used to think my partner, and my friends defined who I was as a person – that isn’t so, They do enrich my life, and expose me to a connection of something bigger than myself, however, at the end of the day I am the one responsible for my own joy, happiness, and how I view and interact with the world.

Dominant or submissive, it shouldn’t matter, YOU must strive to be the best PERSON you can be, not a label, and not relying on others to define you as a person. If that is the pattern you find yourself in perhaps it’s time to break it.

Patterns can be positive or negative but if you’re caught in a cycle of drama, destructive relationships, or even a cycle that stunts your growth, the only limiting factor is you.

YOU control your fate:

Not your Family.

Not your Friends.

Not your Dominant or Submissive.

Take the responsibility to analyze your patterns, and change them if you need to, ask for help, find a mentor, do what you need to.

Be authentic, be true to yourself, be courageous enough to break the patterns, and courageous enough to stop pointing fingers and start changing yourself for the better.

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

 

 

 

 

Lessons, Leather, and Small Cats.

It’s odd how something so intensely personal on one level, can get you thinking about something which seemingly has no real relation to it in the first place.

Then the connections and reasoning become clear.

I lost my Constant companion Daisy a little over a month and a half ago, and truth be told it’s still affecting me today, I still come home and have to stop myself from checking her nap spots, or worrying about feeding times. I still get sad, having her Urn near me on my bedside table simultaneously makes me feel better she is near and fills me with sadness my friend is gone and I’ll never be able to trade head boops with her again. I will say though, it’s gotten me thinking.

In my past and especially at the start of my leather journey I was so fucking worried about being universally liked or desired, or even fucking NOTICED. I went out of my way to try and achieve these things and ended up angry (in my head), when I was ignored or dismissed because of stupid and arbitrary things, like my physical appearance, or play style, or clothing choice – hell even the fact I had a dick. There were friends and acquaintances, who to my FACE, told me that they wished I wasn’t in the picture so they could “go after” my slave. Truth be told it was soul-crushing at points.

When I was younger, I was always the fat wingman, the white knight, and the “buddy” who always third wheeled. Reliving that in my adult life, albeit differently since I am in a committed Power Exchange, with not only someone who is my slave, girl, little fae, best friend and fiance, made me question connections I had made, and overall community on a whole.

Then we met the people who would eventually become “The Herd”, and Some others who might as well be family too. (you know who you all are, and if you don’t – Ask. <3)

So where does Daisy fit in all this?

As I reflected on the years with her, I realized a few things I should have a long time ago.

Cats, dogs, animal companions, in general, don’t give a fuck what you look like, how you dress, or if you make an ass of yourself. They love and accept you completely, without reservation. They will cuddle with you if you had a bad day, and you can tell them your secrets, content in the knowledge you won’t be judged or have it used against you because they can gain something. They don’t care if you have a penis, a vagina, or your sexual orientation. True companions simply want to be with you when you experience life, they want connective experiences, love, and affection, and will return what you put out in kind.

These are the connections I crave, value and want in my life.

I have all this and more with my girl, as well as my other partner Trixie and her primary. I’ve recently discovered this with The Herd and other others who have become family of choice. Discussions and laughs over a Too-big (LOL) breakfast, smiles and tackle hugs from people I see far too little of. Even connections we’ve made in other provinces, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and beyond, being welcomed with an open heart and arms is new to me, and I must say I appreciate it more than I can express, and I value each and every one of you.

I’ve never really had anyone close enough to me I would consider A Brother or Sister of choice, and truth be told, now that I do, I find it hard to express just how much it means to me…. I consider you family, my tribe, and I hope that I can be someone you are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with. Others from the Leather Nation who I’ve met, and helped show me their connections and energy, thank you – coupled with some introspection, it has restored some of my faith in people, and I hope I can return some of that energy and positivity some day.

It seems odd that a tiny, outcast, feral cat could help me realize these things, but I swear that’s how my mind connected the dots. I’ve always said lessons can come from anywhere, and I believe it more now than ever.

The next part of growth is for me learning how to verbally articulate these things rather than spewing them out in text.

People deserve to know they are valued, loved and accepted unconditionally.

A tiny cat, who just happened to be the best friend I ever had taught me that, and I’m sure she still has lessons for me for years to come.

In leather,

 

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

Fear, Growth, and Keeping things on the Radar.

Fear is an odd thing. We all have fears, some more than others, fear is part of this weird cocktail of emotions that make us human.

I was raised to be fearful of change, I love my parents, but they’ve been stuck in the mindset of fearing change for more years than I can count, or remember. Time and time again I will say something and my little fae will say to me “That’s your Mother talking, Sir.” and she’s not wrong. That is her loving way of reminding me that I need to take a breath and alter my thought pattern on whatever we’re talking about.

As of late, my Mother’s voice has been in my head a lot.

So what change am I fearful of?

It’s hard to explain, with our goals for the upcoming year I am less fearful and more restless, I don’t like dragging my heels when it comes to things we want to get done. Where I am concerned, in order to progress with self, I have to address a few things and hope for some self-acceptance.

All my life I’ve struggled with body image and acceptance. In high school, I was a huge geek who preferred to read and play video games rather than sports – My formative years during puberty were spent being turned down by girls in favor of athletes and in other cases someone who wasn’t fat and could talk to girls without turning beet red. Now I understand this was in some cases twenty years ago, but the lessons and head fuckery still pop up today. Even in front of my little fae I can still be self-conscious about my body hair, and figure. I am getting better a little bit at a time, However, it’s a slow process and one that is hampered by the fact that certain people in the lifestyle can be shallow. I might not face the direct cruelty that teenagers are capable of, but if you think men aren’t held to a beauty standard, even in a body positive space like the kink community, you’re kidding yourself. Don’t believe me? Look up “bears” on fetlife, and try to find something that doesn’t revolve around a relationship based on fetishization outside the gay community. I’ll wait. Even now, during operation look better naked, I’ll still be a bear – I’m built big, and the downside is, I don’t have the height to match. Lol.

The other thing I fear and more immediate in nature is confronting my Wants and Desires in regard to the lifestyle. My needs are well met by my little fae, and I’ve tackled a few wants, I have Lola as a partner as well, who understands healthy polyamory more than I would have guessed, she and her primary have been amazing as we explore this. There are other things than what I mentioned in my previous post which I consider harder to simply talk about and even acknowledge they exist as a thought in my head. Some of these things are desires, some are wants. Some are relatively tame, and just need some further work to make a reality. Others will need some help from self-acceptance, and conversations with my little fae and perhaps Lola -if- I think she can help. it’s a scary thing opening up some of your deeper and more closely guarded thoughts, even to people you love and trust.

Now, this point isn’t so much fear, as confusion. For my entire life, I’ve identified as straight, however, there’s always been that little voice in the back of my head that isn’t so sure. I should clarify this before I go any further. from a purely physical standpoint, I am definitely attracted to women – curvy, bigger, muscular, average, athletic it doesn’t matter – I love ALL female shapes and sizes. As of a year ago (think), I found myself attracted to a MtF transgendered Pre-op woman, I love her brain and her personality, and in the process, I found there may have been some pants feelings attached to this. Now, nothing ever came of it, and probably for the best – she and I are what I would consider great friends, and her partners are fantastic. It just put the thought in my head, that I might be “Pan-curious” – hey, if people can be bi-curious or heteroflexible, I can be Pan-curious, maybe I’ll meet a brain at some point that does it for me again. Or does that make me queer? It bears some thought.

It’s Ironic I saved this one for last, as my little fae was just here to drop off some things at work, and get her collar put on, so she read everything up to this point prior to it being finished.

This one is one I always battle with, I always have a low-level fear of fucking up, or not being “enough” for my little fae. I am told time and time again by people that she’s too good for me, or that I’m in the way and if I wasn’t they’d “steal” her. I’ve had people say this directly to my face, and sometimes in front of her, both men and more often, women. Now I should point out that more often than not I ignore them out of hand, but cumulatively even though she tells me there’s no chance, that little voice in the back of my head sometimes gets just a bit louder. I wonder if someday I’m not going to be enough to help her when she hits a low,  I wonder if someday I just won’t be…. enough. I have to wonder if I can continue to provide what she needs to be a healthy and happy girl, at least to the best of my ability. It’s a dumbass way to think, but when dealing with the gremlins in your head, you have to realize it will happen.

In the end, fear is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to progress out there. For me posting this here is a step towards healthy vulnerability and addressing some harder topics for me, they are topics that don’t really fit with the normal narrative for me, these are things I don’t have solutions for – and really lack any sort of cohesive plan, but they do bear acknowledging and remembering they are there.

 

Regards,

 

Syn