Feel It to Heal It

Night before last I had a nightmare. They are rare these days, but they used to be so bad and so frequent as a child and young adult that I would refuse to sleep. I used to wake up in fear and ready to fight.

My early life was extraordinarily traumatic. I don’t share many details for fear just hearing about my survivorship will traumatize others. But not sleeping would create chaos for me in day to day life. It took years (and some luck) for me to learn how to give myself the psychological safety and physical comfort by body needed to sleep.

A huge part of my healing journey came when I got very honest about what I needed in my home and in my intimate relationship. I need to sleep next to someone I trust with my physical and emotional safety. I found him. I love him. Together we have created a home that is beautiful. There is no yelling, no physical danger. We have food, heat, a soft bed and loads of love for each other. I am safe. He will protect me with his life. I am blessed.

This year we bought a house. Another dream come true. I have not lived in a house since I was a child in foster care. I knew it would come with some “large” emotional feelings.

Each time I step up in life, into a safer space, I move through what I call “large” feelings. As joy fills my world it always comes with fear of loss.¬†This is what my nightmare was about. Fear I would lose him, our home, and all of the safety that brings us peace.

I spent all of yesterday haunted by the nightmare. A day filled with manageable but very real panic attacks. And a heavy heart. And a little anger that I am doing so well, and everything is good, so why does this pain invade me?

This is the life of a survivor. Maturity has taught me to accept the nightmares. The feelings are only temporary. If I continue to allow myself to feel my feelings without allowing them to turn into self destruction, there is more growth and joy on the other side of them.

I breathe. I listen. I trust. I write it out. I share with another trusted soul. Doing so makes room for more joy and goodness in my heart.

Am I grateful? Absolutely. It’s not grateful in that “hey you should journal as a morning practice” sort of gratefulness. (Dont get me wrong, I do count my blessings.) My gratefulness is much more hardcore. Gratefulness in the form of a punch in the face. Abrupt, undeniable, and mean.

My life is beautiful. And I feel it.

It’s Not Time to Hit The Breaks

Ducky on a cold yet sunny day, wearing a fur hat, sun glasses, and red lipstick.It snowed in Arkansas! Be still my heart!

I grew up in Minnesota. I loved the long winters. Living in the south where winter brings mostly brown grass and baren trees, I just long for snow. I miss a sunny day with blinding, sparkly fresh snow.

It’s a little baffling to me when I hear southern folks talk about snow with fear. They don’t have resources (salt, sand, and plows) or the experience to manage it well.

The days when it does snow down south I get to push people out of the ditch and tromp around in the weather, feeling exhilarated. (Part of the glory of heavy snow or ice to me is that it gives us all an opportunity to help our neighbors and remind each other that we are not alone.)

Yesterday I was driving when the worst of it hit. Mind you, it only snowed heavy for about an hour and then it began to rain. The rain brought slush. Within just a couple of miles I passed, in various locations, five cars in the ditch. I could see by the wheel marks they started to slide and disastrously hit the breaks.

Any Minnesotan worth their weight knows when you start to slide, you take your foot off the gas but you never it the breaks. Doing so will only make the situation worse, causing you to slide further and spin out.

A close up image of drops of snow melting on blades of grass.
Image by Susann Mielke 

All of this makes me think of my goals. It’s the new year. My goals are freshly crafted. They are lofty. I need to remind myself to stay on the road. It things get slippery, don’t hit the breaks. It will only make things worse.

I hope you too are dogged with your goals. Whatever they may be don’t give up on yourself.

A Love Letter

I believe it was the writer Richard Bach who wrote…

We teach best what we most need to learn.

This explains why I try to teach you that you have value in the world. I remind you that you have agency over your own body. You deserve good things. You need to do the work that is required to attain those good things. Joy can be found in this world. You are beautiful.

I desperately needed to learn these things myself. Sometimes I need to relearn them. Teaching people about their beauty and agency keeps me aligned. Thrive on, my friends. We are in this together.

Image of Ducky from lips to lips to collar bones, with red lipstick and a slight smile.

10 Things I Love

It a photo of my grinning face from my nose down, with a close up of Ragnar, my orange cat, resting his little head on my knee.These are a few things that are bringing me joy at this moment. I have made a pact with myself to buy nothing in the coming year that is not an absolute need, so let’s see how this series of “things I love” changes as the year evolves?

  1. Drinking vanilla cream loose leaf black tea out of a wide mouth mug
  2. Throwing soft blankets over my old couch and sinking in deep
  3. Continuing to beat the ass of cancer, yup we found more again this year, but I am doing ok
  4. My Woodland Journal where I sort my thoughts and plot world domination
  5. My bamboo bread slicer that makes homemade loaves of bread go further than when I would sloppily saw away at them
  6. Being partnered in business with people who are ethically sound and strong enough to provide health insurance for my employees
  7. Doing back bends on my yoga ball
  8. My simple, lightweight, forest green corduroy shoulder bag
  9. My canvas boots from Sketchers
  10. Organizing the event space in my Conway store in anticipation of the joy we create in that space in the coming year

These links go to my Amazon associates account and I make a tiny kickback when you use them to make purchases. It helps support my blog. (Thank you so much!) You can also see what I am lusting after on my Amazon wish list. (I love reading other people’s Amazon wish lists!)

Christmas is Over, Bitches!

Oh gawd, I love this winter holiday so much.

As a child I used to be dropped off by my mom at the most wonderful place in the world, my Norwegian grandma’s house. She lived in a small town in Minnesota. She would have a big tree, covered in tinsel. She’d have plates of cookies and bars. She’d have a mountain of gifts for me and my siblings. This was the only stable home I knew as a child.

My little grandma sitting in a big chair with a mountain of Christmas gifts in her lap.
My little grandma and the cardboard fireplace she would set up each year, complete with carboard fire and wreath.

We were poor so she would replenish our needs. She’d sew the holes in our socks. She’d give us a new tooth brush, a wash cloth, and one set of new clothes. She’d feed us until the clothes we arrived in would not fit.

Every Easter she would bring out the big Wards catalog and have us circle the items we liked, clothes, toys– anything we liked! She would then buy some of those items. By the time Christmas had come, I would have forgotten what I had circled and it was all a surprise!

Grandma’s sheets were always clean and crisp. The house smelled like home cooked food. She lived right next to the river. If the river ice was thick enough, I’d go ice skating. Everything about grandma’s house was dreamy and good.

Sadly, my grandma passed away from cancer with I was 17. Everything Christmas disappeared with her.

Christmas became the time of year when I picked up an extra job or two. I’d work in children’s toy stores most Decembers. I’d pick up all the shifts from my co-workers who were taking holiday breaks. It became the time of year where I could catch up on my bills and make my employers really happy to have me. There was however no family, no lights, no big meals, no sweets, no gifts, and my traditions were lost. It went on like this for most of my adult life.

The best I could do would be a small potted tree and a restaurant meal, if I had the money to splurge. Christmas became a season of work. Until I met my husband.

Swiss roll cake with holiday sprinkles on top and a swirly filling center.He doesn’t let me work myself to death, any day of the year. He encourages me to rest some. His family became my family. Christmas became big again and full of traditions with his family. I wallow in it!

I bake, we put up string lights, there are Christmas trees, and the joy is unbearably wonderful. I actually woke up from my sleep last night with tears in my eyes because I was dreaming about our actual life. What a curious thing, to have this much joy. I take none of it for granted.

Snap shot of my molasses cookies, with a dusty sugar coating on top.

Anyway, all that to say I ate too much sweets this year. I made molasses cookies, lemon bars, a Swiss cake roll with roasted chestnut buttercream filling, pumpkin pie, and an apple pie. It was glorious and I regret nothing!

Today, I come back down to earth. Time to prepare for the New Year, write my goals for 2024 and clean up my act. This morning it was tea and a porridge made of seeds and nuts, with an apple and a spoonful of ginger honey.

And you? How was your holiday? What are your goals for 2024? Write them down and make them real. It works.

Where have I been?

This last year has been a frenzy. A joyful frenzy. An exhausting frenzy.

With much help from my business partners, we opened a sexy store in Conway, Arkansas.

I never managed planting roots in Conway, AR but my husband is from Arkansas. His amazing, supportive family is here too. We circled the city of Little Rock until we found a space about 30 minutes outside of the city.

Conway has two sizable universities. And about one million campus-size churches too. As we signed out lease I was asking myself, would we be welcome here? (The answer is yes!!)

Ducky grinning at the camera while wearing work gloves and holing a drill.There were no crews or hired hands. We stripped the walls and floors. We built it all out with our hands. We laid carpet, build display cases, processed endless pallets and cases of pleasure product, and carefully hung up hundreds of pieces of lingerie. I worked until my hands were numb. Together we built out a beautiful 5000 square foot, non-judgmental space in the world.

Once we opened our doors, the most amazing humans have come streaming in. Conway, it turns out, is a lovely place to be.

After the store was open for about 8 months, we had the opportunity to buy a little shop in Fayetteville, AR called Condom Sense. It has been on the historic Dickson Street for 27 years and just one block from University of Arkansas. The owner was ready to retire. She wanted to sell it to someone who was also education focused. Suddenly, I have two stores in Arkansas.

If you are not in Arkansas, you can still support by shopping online. I am also a partner in the website.

Life has not always been easy, but good things come with hard work. Now that the stores are up and running, I am looking to come back to writing again. I’ll share my adventures. I’ll share the pleasure products that blow my mind. I’ll give y’all a little piece of my heart and see who shows up to enjoy it all with me. Maybe you?