50 Shades of Filthy, Dirty, Domination

Disclaimer: This blog is going to reveal some plot spoilers about the book 50 Shades of Grey. If you do not want to know what happens, please don’t read…
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I just finished reading the book, 50 Shades of Grey by, E.L. James. I had heard the hype from a good friend of mine who claimed every woman she knows loved it! While I have never chosen a book only for the hype, I was definitely curious what the big deal was with this one…

I had no idea what 50 Shades was about but, I should have had a head’s up when I went to purchase the book at my local Barnes & Noble. When I asked the bookseller for a copy of 50 Shades, he simply smiled and said to check the Erotica section. “Wait, what?” I replied. He then checked the computer, while the color filled my cheeks and he said that they were sold out. He told me I could order a copy and they would have it delivered. I declined. Interesting, I thought.

When my copy arrived via a friend who was also feeding her curiosity, I immediately felt the need to hide the book from my children. The cover, with nothing more than a gray tie, seemed harmless, but just the thought of an Erotica Book arriving in my home felt -well, wrong.

I sat up, late on a Friday night, my heart pounding as I began to read. I thought I would immediately be drawn into a sort of romantic novel with mushy declarations of love and wordy love-making scenes. Usually I laugh at those kinds of fake love books, however, what I was drawn into was an underground world that I had heard of, but certainly knew nothing about. I could not believe my eyes when I read the story line including Sadomasicism, domination and abuse. The main characters – business man, Christian Grey and innocent young college grad, Ana seemed harmless enough. But, the story, while somewhat contrived and unbelievable was not even well-written enough to hold my attention. The sex scenes, and you cannot dare call it love-making, were perverse at best, violent and graphic at worst. The story line was disturbing enough for me and I found myself skipping large sections of scene to just get back to the barely there plot. To say I didn’t like this book was an understatement. But, what I really didn’t like was the statement it was making about abuse, love and women.

Christian Gray, an obviously attractive and successful man, creates a contract to initiate a relationship with his Woman Du Jour. He lays out in a very matter-of-fact way his plans for Domination in all aspects of the relationship and wants his woman to comply. Ana, a young fresh from college girl, falls immediately for the seduction and continues to allow herself to be abused, taken advantage of in a very physical and psychologically demeaning way and then actually falls for the bastard.

The only hook I found at all in the book, was my rooting for her to leave or for Christian to be hit by a bus. She does leave Christian at the end of the story, but given that there are 2 more books to the trilogy I can only assume she goes back for more – as so many abused women do.

Romance and Erotica novels are the number one selling book genre both online and in bookstores among women.

It is a sad state of affairs when women need a fantasy world to fill them up sexually or emotionally. I am not stating that everyone who reads 50 Shades and likes it must have something missing in their lives. Perhaps they just found the plot more intriguing than I did. However, I do find it shocking the sheer number of my female friends – mothers, career women and even grandmothers that have told me how much they loved this book. Many calling it “hot” and “steamy”.

It saddens me that a book about dominating women sexually, morally and psychologically can excite and intrigue someone so much. Do we as women, feel so unfulfilled that we need to read about a someone else’s great, or in this case disturbing, sex life in order to fill us up? Can’t we just talk to our significant other and create our own world of happiness?

I have a friend who works as a marriage counselor and newlywed teacher. She helped me compile an entire outline for a marriage counseling weekend I worked on for a client. Her job is fascinating – she sits down with about-to-married young ladies and talks to them about the ins and outs of a healthy sexual relationship and the meaning of an important aspect to a healthy relationship – Intimacy.

What I think worked for many women in 50 Shades and is a missing component in many relationships, is a fulfilling sexual relationship. Many women and men do not realize that the key to a healthy sex life is to first create a world of intimacy and then create the physical world.

But, many men and women do not know how or where to create this intimacy in a relationship. The physical is the only part that they focus on and the relationship quickly begins to falter. Pent up anger or resentment builds and partners turn to romance novel, pornography or even other partners to fill them up.

Many men portrayed in movies provide flowers or a piece of jewelry and instantly there is enough chemistry to create beautiful scenes of lovemaking. This is just not reality and women know it, so they turn to books or movies to live vicariously through those ‘scenes’, instead of creating those ‘scenes’ at home. Dr V who is also a therapist, believes that without intimacy you create a physical realm without an emotional one. Romance novels create a physical world that is also full of caring, loving, handsome men showering their women with gift, flowers and the most important component missing in many relationships- lines of open communication and words of appreciation and love. Women who are lacking emotional connection with their partner often don’t know how to ask for it to improve. There are plenty of books, therapists and even whole seminar programs devoted to the topic of intimacy and bringing this back into your life or introducing it if it hasn’t been there all along.

Here are some suggested points from Dr. V to get started for further reading so you don’t have to read about intimacy and hot relationships, you can actually have one!

http://www.gottman.com – Excellent work done by Relationship Institute’s Dr. Gottman
http://www.marsvenus.com John Gray is a leader in building intimacy and healthy relationships for decades
http://www.amazon.com/Communication-Miracles-Couples-Effective-Conflict/dp/1573240834 A recommended read for improving communication skills and having an ‘effective fight’

Happy Reading!

Just Feel Like Dancin’

For many years now my husband, Daniel and I have joked about taking up ballroom dancing. It’s totally out of our comfort zone, it’s just wild to think of us wallflowers, who are as graceful as a rock, dancing beautifully around the room – in front of other people – no less! About a month ago Daniel called and surprised me with an appointment for a private dancing lesson at the good ole Arthur Murray Dance Studio. I laughed that we were actually going to go through with it! Then, I panicked a little. Dancing in front of other people was going to be humiliating, I thought. I imagined my ungraceful self clumsily stepping on toes and bumping into people. But, I am always telling the kids to try new things and now it was my turn.
It comforted me that we were having a private lesson. I imagined a small little room, with a door, where we could just laugh it out and try our best. We arrived, dancing shoes in tow at the Dance Studio. I surveyed the scene. Lot’s of older men and women beautifully waltzing or chachaing around a very large, mirrored room with music blaring. Okay, I thought, I can do this. Where’s our private little room? I looked around, but didn’t see any door! We were going to have our private lesson in front of all of these people!
Suddenly, my heart started pounding a little harder and my palms got sweaty. I looked at Daniel and we both nervously smiled, feeling disappointment for the other at the tortuous humiliation we were about to pile upon ourselves.
Our teacher, a perky little lady, grabbed us both arm in arm. She asked us why we decided to take a dancing lesson. Hmm, to try something new and out of our comfort zone, I explained. She looked confused – “Uh, okay.” Wasn’t that why all people danced? I thought. She asked us if we had danced much together in the past. When I responded only once together at a wedding, she looked at us like we were total losers. Great, this is going to be interesting.
She walked, literally, with us arm in her arm, reassuring us that this was all dancing was about. Movement of the feet. Okay, I can do that!! After walking, in our little row of three, she placed Daniel and me in a traditional Waltz hold. 1,2,3,4 – we were learning the box step. After I stepped on Daniel about 10 times (and he only stepped on me once!) we kind of got the hang of it and looked up from the floor. Eye to eye we smiled at one another and immediately I felt less self-conscious. We can do this and it’s kind of fun…
After a few good shows of the box step we graduated to Swing. Hand on hand we shuffle-stepped back and forth and rocked side to side. It was a basic movement, but when she put on some “Twist & Shout” the Beatles hooked us up with some pretty good swing-ish style. Who knew Daniel had some hip-movement? Impressive.
Our forty-five minutes went by quickly and we had both survived. It was actually really fun. I learned some things about posture, movement and paying attention to my partner. It was interesting, a little scary and great for someone more introverted like me.
I realized over drinks with Daniel later that evening – it’s so easy in the course of life to constantly tell the kids to try something new and forget we’re still growing up too. If we don’t remember to shake things up (or twist and shout) every now and again, life gets monotonous and boring. There’s always lots of talk this time of year about New Year’s Resolutions. I am sure that their origins lay in the same school of thought – trying something new or making a change is never a bad thing as it always brings out something new and challenging.

Return To Reality

There comes a point when you live through the Midwest winters that you feel the need to get away. Many opt for Florida, California or warm tropical islands. My family opts for Wisconsin Dells. This isn’t a luxurious vacation that we’re seeking, not a warm land to roam, but a 4 hour drive to 82 degree indoor water park fun that accidentally reconnects us as a family.

Never do we think we need this family morale boost, we are just six people seeking a cheap place to hangout for a few days of winter break. But, what I always find is that the moment we jam pack the car, plug in the cell phone charger and pickup our bagels the change sets in. Suddenly, the little ones start to sing, the older ones start to laugh and the edge that existed in the air at home lifts off each of us the further we get from the city. No one cares if we eat peanut butter and jelly for dinner and skip lunch. No one cares if we’re half wet and half dry all day. No one cares if we go to sleep late or wake up too early. It’s vacation and there are no rules.

Water parks in general kind of freak me out. The corny themes, the way the workers say “do you want a bayg for that?” or take hours to do check in or check out just to piss you off. Then there’s the other guests. People who clearly don’t know hygiene walking around in way too tight bikinis (and a few too many speedos for my taste) strut their stuff with children running wild and beer overflowing. It’s a mish-mash of highfalutin individuals on a family holiday and divorced parents taking the kids away for the night and just normal middle class families trying to reconnect for a few days. It’s both sad and fun at the very same time.

Ironically, my kids don’t even like the water slides much and after an hour or two we’re spent. We stumble back wet into our rooms, shower (or not) and change and that’s when the fun begins. We loaf on beds munching on snacks watching bad tv, playing scrabble, roaming the halls – just laughing, sharing and having fun. We complain how uncomfortable the beds are yet we sleep until 10 am and then get up and eat cereal straight from the box for lack of bowls. We play video games that aren’t half as fun as the Wii we have at home, yet here they feel like the best games on earth just because tickets shoot out the bottom. We cash in our arcade tickets we spent twenty dollars on to enjoy and get a prize worth three dollars. We lose the prizes before we even leave the hotel. We eat ice cream for dinner and drink way too much soda and it’s all just fine with me.

All in all, on paper, it sounds silly. Why bother going to cheeseland to vacation? But, the conversations, the camaraderie between the kids, the playfulness and the calm are just amazing. It doesn’t hurt that you can walk around in pajamas or summer clothes in December while staring out the window laughing at the piles of snow. Somehow in this magical trip teenager attitude ripples away, preteen angst disappears and the younger ones become cuter than ever. Packing is lighter than a Disney getaway and my wallet still has wiggle room in it when we leave.

The trip home feels long for the kids as they are now anxious to get back to their routines, but for me it seems just far enough to let me savor the togetherness just a wee bit longer until I lose them once again to reality.

You Don’t Sleep Under Their Bed

There was a man sitting on a bus. He watched as another man, a father, got on the bus with his two children and sat across from him. The children, no older than 6 or 7, were jumping out of their seats and throwing papers from their dad’s pile of papers. They were very wild and starting to create a scene. The man, getting frustrated with the father’s obvious ignoring of his children’s behavior decided to do something. “Sir, excuse me, but perhaps you’d like to keep an eye on your children? They are making quite a stir on the bus.” The father looked up from the floor and met the man’s eyes. “Goodness, I’m so sorry. I hadn’t realized. Boys, please sit down.” There was an awkward silence as the boys sat with their hands in their laps. “I’m so sorry. It’s just that my wife just passed and we were coming from the hospital. I hadn’t realized my boys were acting up.” The father began to cry and the man felt himself turn beet red and apologized.

This story illustrates perfectly to me how we never know what’s going on in someone else’s life. We are told in the Torah that we must not judge unfairly. But, then we are given the right to our own moral compass, decision making and assessment. It’s frustratingly simple to look at a situation, pass our judgement and assume people should react how we do. It’s a process to remind ourselves that things may be different than they seem.

A friend shared with me her grandmother’s saying “You don’t sleep under their bed”. I thought this was genius. I will never know if the perfect couple are actually fighting non-stop or if the mother who seems to have it all together is really falling apart inside. Most importantly, if I spend my time judging someone I will never have the ability to get to know who they really are inside.

So, here’s to judging less & knowing more!

Mid-Wife Crisis

There comes a point in most every Domesticated Goddesses’ life that she realizes her youngest will soon venture off to the classroom leaving behind a stay at home mother with no child to parent. Said mother needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask, Who am I now? This eternal moment scares the living daylights out of many a woman.  I find some friends not ready to face that reality so they end up pregnant and smiling that their fated day is prolonged. My youngest is about to turn two so this Goddess is thinking – What’s next?

Fifteen years ago, before I became known to little people as Mommy, I was a teacher. I would stumble through lesson plans, grade papers, wipe noses and try to mold young minds. When I became a mother, I found it too difficult to have patience left for my own children at the end of a long day with thirty little ones. So, I tabled my budding educational career for the greener pastures of raising my own kids. The adventure has been an amazing and at times difficult, but I have never regretted the decision to stay at home watching my children grow.

But, now that I am faced with the prospect of doing just about anything with my life I find that terrifying. I’m pushing forty and having a mid-wife crisis!

Ever since I was able to hold a pencil I wanted to write. I would write stories as a child, about my own experiences -embellished of course. A queen who controlled her older brothers and turned them into slaves. In one, I was CEO of the New York Times, and in another starting up my own creative venture.

Then, as I got older I decided I wanted to write – for real.

A few people discouraged me explaining that as a mother could never handle running off to cover wars in Iraq or to write stories of poverty in third world countries. I was told writing was cut-throat and difficult to break into. My insecurities won me over and down the educator path I went.

It was never my true passion, but I did it and did it well. My students were my babies until I had my own babies. Now that my babies are growing up (with my oldest in high school) it’s time to realize my passion and face my fears.

We as mid-wife crisis mothers have waited long enough. We’ve procrastinated, we’ve delved into our children’s lives to create wonderful little contributions to the world so that they can go on and become successful and autonomous.

Now, it’s our turn. At least while I was waiting around, raising babies and changing diapers – it seems that things got easier to navigate…

Starting a career at 36 may not seem ridiculous. It’s not old, it’s hardly feeble, but after being at home for so many years I feel ancient. Just fifteen years ago looking for a job, there were no social networks, no tweets about your thoughts, no itunes to listen to on the way to work, heck, there was barely even an Internet!!

I would print out the resume on the old fashioned printer and mail in my copies following up with a phone call. I would scour the newspaper when I would look for a job before, now I can just pop on to a writing site or other freelance websites looking for writing jobs, submit my samples, link to my blog and wait. Oh, yes and then I get to wait. Ah, I also can wait. All this waiting is so freaking frustrating I could die waiting!!

As I wait I have found little gems in my online searches for Freelance Work. Having been hired many times I have had a wonderful experience through an online site called Elance. This little helper has been my hand-holder throughout my hedonistic healing of mommy hood into a real-life writer extraordinaire. Clients actually contact me instead of me chasing after them! Hallelujah!

Yes, I will persevere. I still have impressionable little people around the house. They see the efforts I am making, they observe the phone calls, the writing samples, the resumes, the follow ups and the edits. My oldest is learning that getting a job is a process that never ends – even as you grow older. My daughters are learning that women can do anything – be a mother, then be a woman with a career, or both at the same time. I am learning that life after full time motherhood isn’t as terrifying as I thought it might be. I am learning that all of my investments in patience has given me the gift of maturity and confidence so that when I send in my writing there is no longer embarrassment or fear of rejection. I am smarter now than when I was a 21 year old fresh off the college scene. So, other Domesticated Goddesses take heed – there is life after your little one goes of to preschool. I hope!

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