I Like Sex: Am I Sex Positive?

photo 2My sex life didn’t start out on the most positive of notes. Boys abused me, pressured me and confused me about the whole act of sex. The images I was given through the media didn’t help either. MTV was showing everyone hooking up on the Real World or Laguna Beach- never with the same person twice, so I thought I was’t “doing” it right. It seemed like everyone was having sex and enjoying themselves, so why wasn’t I? It hurt a lot, I never got any pleasure and it was, quite frankly, boring. The images I was seeing made it look so easy and romantic, but I never felt like the girls in the movies.

It wasn’t until I entered college that I started to understand what sex could be. It stopped hurting when I found out I was allergic to latex and I was given the opportunity to learn about my body and what I really enjoyed. Through a caring and patient partner and my own experimentation with the sex toy industry, I was able to discover new things about myself and my sexuality.

It got even better when I was given the opportunity to do some sex research. I was able to publish, “Gender Differences in the Interpersonal Context of Sexual Encounters of College Students,” as well as learn such fascinating things about other people’s sex lives, without it being awkward. I went from a blushing prude (yes a prude, a very severe conservative that thought all women should be covered up and keep their legs closed- oh how the tides have changed) to an open-minded and excited sexologist in a matter of weeks. People were telling me about their fantasies and all the places they had sex, to the number of sexual partners and positions. I just could not get enough! It was then that I decided to continue my education. As a graduate student at the University of South Florida, I currently study and explore sexuality and sexology. I was given the opportunity to assist with the class, Human Sexual Behavior and from there I discovered I wanted to be a sex therapist.

I also know now I really love and enjoy sex. I am a sex positive feminist that loves to bring knowledge and pleasure to everyone I meet. I am open about sexuality and how it ebbs and flows in our lives and I don’t see how what other people do to pleasure themselves involves me- have at it as long as it’s safe and consensual, go baby go! When I discuss my dreams for the future, it usually involves bringing orgasms to the world. Watch out Dr. Ruth!

Yet, what does it mean to be sex positive?

There really isn’t a solid definition. It’s a moving target that many scholars and activists alike can not agree on. But I like to think of it as being positive about sex. It’s a mentality that embraces all positive aspects of sexuality and the various acts of sex. There is no slut shamming or bashing of any kind about what people do to pleasure themselves. Sex is openly discussed. It also addresses the various myths associated with some sexual acts as well as myths about the body. I believe that a good sexual education is a must and that it teaches people from a young age about all the aspects of sex. Fulfillment and pleasure are on the top of my list as issues that need to be discussed in sex ed classes.

Health is also an important matter when being sex positive. Knowing not only how to name the correct body parts, but knowing how reproductive systems work, as well as how to pleasure oneself, is the first step being sexually healthy. Lastly, I also believe that safety and consent is a big part of being able to control what happens to you before, during and after sex. It is extremely important and sets the tone for the rest of your sex life. Seeing sex as beautiful is a wonderful thing.

What do you think? Do you see yourself as sex positive? I would love to hear from you!

Bio: Samantha currently attends the University of South Florida. She is getting her Masters degree in Women’s and Gender Studies with a focus on Sexology. She will be continuing her education at Mercer University in Atlanta by getting her LMFT and sex therapy certification to help individuals looking to explore their sexuality and help couples regain their magical spark! Find her blogging at A Feminist Life ad on Twitter

My 10-year-old Has Started Her Own Blog

My 10-year-old has started her own blog. Half of my brain is great with this. Knows it’s an awesome opportunity for her to engage with the world about something she loves. Hopes it will spurn her on to embrace her passions. Loves the idea of her learning in the trenches.

The other part of my brain is scared to death. Scared that we are pushing boundaries that will put her in danger. Scared that she will run head-on into disappointment, frustration, and confusion. (I AM a blogger, so I know these things come with the territory.) I’m scared she will be too focused on numbers and not enough on content. Too worried about appeasing her audience, and not sticking with authenticity. Too concerned with perfectionism to stay true to what’s driven her there in the first place.

I’m thankful that the enthusiastic side of my brain has won the argument long enough to get her up and running. And so I sit here with my worries, but before I can say “Google Analytics” all the people who love her have climbed on board her new rocket and are cheering her on as she shoots towards the stars. (She IS 10, you know.) She is getting the biggest confidence boost from her village; the biggest she’s gotten since learning how to ride a bicycle when you’re almost 5 and the hi-fives just keep on coming. She is staring face-to-face with what it feels like to come up with a great idea and the crowd goes wild.

I’ll bask in the reflection of her glory for a bit, thrilled with her smile and the momentum building-up behind her. I’ll worry a little about what’s to come. And I’ll learn from her – no doubt I already have – as she stumbles through this new place she is so glad to be, holding on tightly to what brought her here in the first place.

Angie has been blogging since 2008 about faith, life’s unexpected curveballs, and resisting domestication. Before three kids she taught high school English, but now she works part-time on her dad’s farm and manages her family of five with her hard-working husband. Her rural life is centered on their three acres where she is supposed to be gardening, but instead has her nose in a book and stays up all night writing. Read about her family chaos and find encouragement for yours on her blog Home Building @ www.angiejeanwagner.com.

Friday Favorites (April 7 – 11)

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One of our favorite writers, Dani Shapiro, talks about letting go in this short, but powerful post.

Another great writer, Katrina Kenison, (and a future Better Blogger participant!) shares her thoughts on the present moment, and she offers three Audible copies of her book as a giveaway.

Cecelia from Only You talks honestly about her struggle with anxiety.

Vacation time is upon us! Caroline offers tips for staying healthy when you’re away.

Sometimes we all need a reminder to embrace and be present in each day. Diane from Being Truly Present shares a beautiful post about emerging from Winter and seeing the Sun.

Stop Trying to “Cure” My Son

Autism Awareness (or Acceptance) Month runs through the month of April.  It is a time for people in the Autism community to raise awareness and acceptance to all the little things that make those with Autism the amazing and challenging people that they are.

The past few weeks have been filled with a number of amazing stories on autism. Stories that were insulting, inspiring, and infuriating.

I know that I may be in the minority because I do not sit and wonder why my son has autism. I am confident I know why. Sam was born at 24 weeks. That means the majority of his brain development happened outside of the womb. Knowing that – it is no surprise to me that some of the brain connections might not have formed properly. Of course, there is also the new report that was just released showing evidence that autism forms in the womb – which just helps reinforce my notion that Sam’s autism developed in the isolette.

Because of that, I have not had to waste my energy or emotional time on the “whys”. (I did plenty of that wondering why he had to be born so early.) I also have not joined the anti-vaccination crowd and blamed Sam’s autism on vaccinations that will protect him and those of his friends from preventable diseases. (NOTE: If you want to argue with me about vaccinations – don’t. I have spent enough time in NICUs and PICUs with immune compromised children. The fact that you are willing to endanger any of them makes my blood boil. So lets leave it at that.)

Instead, I have used my time to come to terms with the fact that Sam is autistic. Notice that I didn’t say “Sam has autism”. That was a very deliberate choice in words.

Saying Sam “has autism” implies that this is something he can be cured of. Like cancer. Saying that Sam “is autistic” means that autism is a part of him. Just like his eyes are blue.

That doesn’t mean I will not do everything in my power to help Sam overcome his autism. He is in speech therapy. He is in occupational therapy. He is in ABA therapy. He has completed FloorTime therapy. He eats a diary free and gluten free diet. (A note on the diet – this was at the suggestion of his pediatric gastroenterologist almost a year before his autism diagnosis.)

But even as I help Sam find the tools to communicate and connect with the world around him, I am not trying to change him. I love him for all that he is. I love his quirks. I love his ability to vanish into music. I love his smile. I love his laugh. I would not change a hair on his head – and that includes all the autistic hairs.

And that is because of the simple fact that those autistic hairs are a part of who Sam is. He is not bothered by being autistic… so why should I.

Now- don’t even get me started on the AOL CEO, Tim Armstrong, and his totally insulting comment about “Distressed Babies”.

Bio – At just 24 weeks into her pregnancy, her son Sam was born. He entered this world way too small (just 1 pound 12 ounces) and way to early – but don’t tell him that! He has been a force to be reckoned with from day one. Now, Sam is a healthy and thriving three year old, who is taking his recent Autism diagnosis with more maturity than the rest of his family! As for Melissa, Sam turned her world upside down. She went from being a career focused individual to a work-from-home mom. Her kids are her pride and joy – but don’t get her wrong – it is not all craft projects and kid perfection at her house. Far from it. Her blog  is a place where she tell Sam’s story, how he impacts his big sister, and generally explore the perils of parenting. You can find her on Twitter (@MelRagent), Pinterest (@MelRagent), and Facebook  sharing her stories.

 

Books for the kids

Every few weeks we go to the bookstore as a family. And a few times each year we are lucky to have GG around. A grandmother who loves books is a special kind of blessing. A grandmother who loves books means each kid comes home with three new books to read.

Here’s a rundown of the latest volumes in our house:

For my nearly 10-year-old boy, who loves to read books about real boys. He’s just not into wizards or magic or dystopia. He’s looking for real life in the pages of a book. (I don’t know where he gets that from. Ahem.)

Genius Files: From Texas With Love by Dan Gutman. Gutman is one of his favorite authors. Actually all of my kids like him. He writes all of the My Weird School books. (Get started with Miss Daisy is Crazy!) The Homework Machine is also one of my son’s favorites. But the Genius Files books are his favorite favorites. And when we got to the bookstore last week, I thought my son was going to hit the ceiling when he saw that the fourth Genius Files was there for the purchasing. (Don’t you just want to cry when you hear of such excitement?) This book is a medium-length chapter book that my boy gulps down like the Gatorade he loves so much to drink.

Timmy Failure #2: Now Look What You’ve Done by Stephan Pastis. A graphic novel that my son has read more than once and that he has loaned out to many of his friends. (This is one of his roles in his peer group. He is B: Lender of the Books.) Pastis is also the artist and creator of Pearls Before Swine, a syndicated comic strip. (Know it?)

Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue!: An Origami Yoda Book by Tom Angleberger. I have a confession to make. My nearly 10-year-old has never seen Star Wars. None of them. No matter. He still loves these books by Angleberger, who has written other books too, my favorite being Horton Halfpott: Or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M’Lady Luggertuck’s Corset, which I read aloud to my boy and which we both thoroughly enjoyed.

For my 8-year-old girl, who reads even while she is watching TV. She also reads when she is walking around the house, though we try to discourage this behavior when stairs are concerned. She ALSO reads to her little sister, which makes my heart grow four sizes every time I witness such sweetness.

Ava and Pip by Carol Weston. A.Dor.A.Ble. This book appealed to my little wordsmith for several reasons. 1) It’s about sisters. Sisters who are different from one another. My girl knows a thing or two about this. 2) It’s about wordplay, palindromes in particular. Her younger sister’s name? A palindrome. 3) The illustration on the cover of the book features a little girl with orange hair perched under a tree and a little girl with brown hair swinging upside down from a tree branch. Freaky similarities abound. Must familiarize ourselves with other books by Weston.

Ruby Goldberg’s Bright Idea by Anna Humphrey. A girl and a science fair. That was all it took for my girl (who is working on “All About Tornadoes” for a certain April science fair) to pick up this one. Not one to be interested in the fairy books or the princess books, I am a proud mama that this is the book that spoke loudest to my girl. And I’m grateful to writers like Humphrey who are writing books that sit alongside all of those pink, sparkly ones that so quickly take over the shelves. (I know, I’m getting close to a rant here…) It looks like Humphrey’s other books are for older girls, so we will definitely be checking them out soonish.

Junonia by Kevin Henkes. When Junonia first came out, in 2011, we got it out of the library,and I read it to my son. He was resistant at first, because it’s about a little girl. (See above, boy who likes books about boys…) But I kind of forced it on him, and he enjoyed it. Upon seeing it in his sister’s pile he even said a few positive words about it! This book is gorgeously written. It’s quiet and pensive and real and lovely and I hope will stand the test of time and become a must-read. Really. It’s that good. Henkes is probably best known for his picture books, which are unique and funny and perfect. And I’m so glad that he also writes these middle-grade chapter books. (My girl received Henkes’s The Year of Billy Miller for Christmas and read it (as did I). It’s wonderful. We are big Henkes fans. (Julius, Baby of the World and Chrysanthemum are among our favorite of his picture books.) He knows about the inner feelings of kids, and we’re lucky readers to read his wisdom in his stories.

For my 5-year-old girl, who is ALMOST reading on her own and who tries to will herself into being able to read daily.

Mercy Watson Fights Crime by Kate DiCamillo. We LOVE Mercy Watson. This is the fourth MW volume we have purchased, though we’ve read them all through library loans many, many, MANY times. These are books you can read over and over as a parent and not want to gouge out your eyes. DiCamillo knows children. Her Because of Winn-Dixie took the place as my 8-year-old daughter’s favorite book almost two years ago, and so far it’s holding strong. You would not be making a mistake in judgment at all if you ordered the whole set of six Mercy Watson books. In fact, order two sets and give one to a friend!

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. I am probably the last person to discover this book. Apparently it’s all the rage! It is a good one. About artistic expression and literally coloring outside the lines. A good message for kids. And for the adults presumably reading this book aloud. I just learned that Daywalt has a background in screenwriting and directing.

Pete the Cat: Too Cool for School by James Dean. My daughter loves the Pete the Cat books. LOVES them. She has so many, I’ve lost count. The pictures are funny and the stories are a little irreverent. This one is about Pete asking everyone else their opinions about what he should wear. He ends up wearing everyone’s favorite item and being overdressed and uncomfortable until he changes tack and chooses his own favorites. Another good message and a cute addition to my girl’s growing Pete collection! I know that as soon as the reading thing clicks in her brain her Pete books will be dogeared. (Sometimes she sleeps with Pete under her pillow already, as if hoping the words will seep into her brain.)

Thanks to GG for her generosity. I hope you find some of these of interest to you and yours. And I’d love to hear what your kids are reading! Our next trip to the bookstore is rapidly approaching…

Music of the Heart

Bye, bye, love.
Bye, bye, happiness.
Hello loneliness.
I think I’m-a gonna cry.

Wouldn’t you know it? It’s Buddy Holly. Right here in Starbucks, keeping me company while I write.

Sure, the lyrics tell a story of love and loss and heartbreak, but for me, the song is about joy. It’s about singing at the top of my lungs and not thinking twice about embarrassing myself. It’s about laughing through a jumbled chord or lyric. It’s about watching my dad wiggle his guitar around, hoping the free the slippery little pick that escaped his able fingers. It’s about family and connection and harmony.

It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, when I hear a Beatles, Buddy Holly, or John Denver song, I’m back in my childhood family room. I can clearly see my dad flipping through the sheet music pages, then a flicker in his eyes as he decides he’s found the next song for us to sing together. These songs, they’re so much more than music, they’re memories. The kind that fill up my senses — and my heart.

So today, as I heard that familiar old song, I couldn’t help but wonder. Years from now, what tune will fill the room that makes my kids instantly think of me?

While I don’t play the guitar, we do a whole lot of singing and dancing in our house. Pink, who’s far more tech savvy than I am, knows how to play music from my locked — yes, locked — iPhone. And, much to my dismay, she usually skips the songs that are my personal favorites. Big’s mastered getting to his favorite playlists on our Apple TV, too. And Little? Nobody takes over the garage to the Cars CD with outrageous dance moves like he does. Nobody.

The soundtrack to all of this entertainment tends to be made up of the latest and greatest Radio Disney and pop hits. A few songs stick — Party in the U.S.A. may forever and always be Pink’s theme song, and Hall of Fame is an all-time favorite of the boys — but for the most part, our tastes change as often as the charts.

Maybe that’s what they’ll remember. The way we listened to a song over and over until we knew all the words, then moved on to the next challenge. The way we all sang along, and music filled the air — and our souls — on quieter days. The way that, no matter how annoyed we all were with the day — and each other — music brought us back together, with a smile.

Whatever song or lyric it is that wakes a memory of me long after I’m no longer dancing on this earth, I pray it brings a warm smile to my kids’ faces. And reminds them of the joy that filled our home — and our hearts — through the years.

Friday Favorites (March 31-April 4)

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Common Core and standardized tests are hot button issues these days. Mrs Mom Blog shares an interesting post about why her children will not be participating in state assessments. 

The Musing Mama shares a very interesting post: The Trouble with Banning Bossy

Motherese talks about flexibility and blessings.

Melissa Camara Wilkins knows what it’s like to be a tired parent and shares 8 Signs Mama Needs a Nap

C. Jane Kendrick does a wonderful 2-part post practicing before writing a birth story.  Check out part one and part two.

Grace in the Ordinary shares a beautiful post: He’s Not Broken, Your System Is.

It’s Almost That Time of Year Again

It’s almost that time of year again. Graduation.

As many graduates look to join the workforce, it reminds me of my personal journey when I struggled to figure out my career path. From the very beginning, I challenged traditional approaches. For example, when I started to think about my first job, I didn’t even consider looking at what was available. Instead I wanted to start by asking myself to describe a job that would make my eyes light up. At that point, I didn’t care if the job actually existed as I was determined to search it out once I defined it.

At the time, I enjoyed meeting new people. I lived in Ottawa, Canada’s capital and had recently moved from a small town in North Carolina. My world had been opened and I was happy to be in an international city with exposure to rich cultures and traditions. It wasn’t long before I narrowed down my interests to the local travel and tourism industry. That would put me in regular contact with visitors from all over the world. Sounded right down my alley. Then, I thought about the kind of environment that would be interesting. Maybe a grand hotel? Without knowing if any jobs were available, I decided to reach out and contact the human resources department at the top hotels to see if there might be a match.

Sure, rejection at the first few hotels was hard. However, it didn’t stop me. I was right about my motivation. It was higher when I was searching for something that I truly wanted to find. Luckily, I didn’t have to persist too much more. I think it was the fourth or fifth hotel, that I finally I ended up with a job offer as a concierge/tour guide. And no, the job had never even been posted. I had made it to the hiring manager at the point where he was considering offering this type of position.
Now my career has taken many turns and twists since then, but I have managed to focus first and foremost on what organization best matches my passions and personal brand – everything that defines me as a person. The specific job has usually fallen into place with this as my focus.

If you or someone you know is stepping out in the workforce this Spring, why not consider a favorite brand as a potential employer? Think about the products and services you know and use the most. Think about where you spend your time or where you want to spend your time. This can and should help steer your job hunt. It will make you more competitive than other candidates. And it will help you build your personal, authentic brand.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes. In the meantime, read more in the book, The Brandful Workforce: How Employees Can Make, Not Break Your Brand.
Julia Gometz is author and founder of The Brandful Workforce, which helps bring good brands to life, through employees. Formerly she was head of employee engagement at JetBlue Airways. She previously worked at Morgan Stanley and served as a mediator on Wall Street, as well as in court systems and in the community. Julia lives in New York City with her husband and four children. Read more at The Brandful Workforce. Follow us: @brandfulme on Twitter or TheBrandfulWorkforce on Facebook

Why I Can’t Get Ahead of The Mess

laundry basketAs I walk through the disaster zone that is the living space of my house – credit due to my children and their love for things but aversion to picking up – I consider cleaning. How would I even BEGIN to gather up all the random things that I see strewn before me?

Step 1: Find an empty laundry basket.
This basket will give me a place to put the things I walk past, so I can then easily deliver them to their homes. (If they have homes.) That one sock, half an easter egg, the girlie clipboard, the tiny purse, a hair extension… and that is just the tip of the iceberg in this small entryway. Hmmm, an empty laundry basket….

Step 2: Empty this laundry basket.
Geez, I hate putting laundry away. Ok, this will all have to be folded and sorted first. Can I get my children to help? That would be nice and also of benefit to them in the long run. However, I have to decide if I have time for the arguments that would inevitably be a part of that process.

Step 3: Dump laundry on bed.

Step 4: Proceed with newly emptied basket into first room to begin process.
3 minutes of picking up and the basket is full.

Hmmmm, I’m going to need some more baskets……

Step 5: Return to Step 1

Step 6: Reconsider how committed you really are to this task.

Step 7: Abandon process and pour yourself a drink. Sit back and evaluate paying children to clean up after themselves.

Maybe I’ll skip steps 1-6 and just jump right to 7. That sounds less frustrating.

Written by Angie Wagner

Friday Favorites (March 24-28)

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This post by Kelly Coffey takes an interesting look at the downside of weight loss.

Check out this beautiful post by Lola and Maddie: doesn’t look good. i’m sorry

Jenn, an ultra runner has the magic word for a 100 mile race and life!

Kim Moldofsky shares an interesting look at gifted education in her post Gifted Kids and Skinny Dipping in the School Pool

In the wake of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin separating, Melissa at Married My Sugar Daddy shares an interesting look at the term “conscious uncoupling.”

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