Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Find the Beauty in YOU

I'm going to be sharing more and more things on self-love - the message I believe I'm meant to share to the world. Here's an excerpt from my book on self-love: Falling in Love with Me - 30 Days of Self-Love, that hopefully will be published in the near future.


The keys to keeping a long-term relationship alive and healthy is choosing to focus on the good things in your partner. It takes a decision sometimes. The relationship we have with ourselves is the only one that’s going to last a lifetime. Grow that relationship. Focus on the good things.
The beauty of it, is that you’re more able to face your shadows when you’re appreciative of your good stuff. In fact, those very shadows are beautiful gifts of growth for us.
Maybe make a list of things you like about yourself.
Write down a thank you to yourself for all the things you’ve done this week to help you grow in your self-love journey.
Find one thing about your body that you like. Everyone has something. Maybe it’s your toenails. Or your belly button. Or your thumbs. Or do you really love your hair?
You came to this earth in this body. I believe that we chose to live this life. We chose this body to exist in. We wanted it. Maybe it’s caused some pain and suffering at times, but it’s beautiful and magical. It’s so complex. It can do so much.
Don’t judge your externals by the world’s standards. This body of yours is a vessel—a magical one that you chose to live through.
Look at yourself as a bouquet of flowers. Some of the flowers in the bunch are more colorful than others. But the duller, more muted ones complement the brighter ones. It all makes up a beautiful harmonious whole. You’re this mishmash of goodness and icky bits, gladness and sadness. Your good parts are the glue that gives the contrast to the whole bunch. When you’re feeling blue, it’s good to think of the good things.
Our culture has taught us to find beauty in only certain things: long legs, flat tummy, sleek hair, small nose, high cheekbones, clear skin, CISgender, etc. The key is to find beauty in a new way—to take a different perspective. Beauty makes life, well, beautiful. Try to find beauty in all people. When you do that, you open your eyes to real beauty. You open your eyes to endless possibilities to experience beauty in your life. You’ll then open your eyes to your own beauty.
Find beauty in the small things: that flower blowing in the breeze, the smell of rain after a hot day, the aroma of freshly baked pizza. Let it feed your soul.

Here is a bonus extra that's not in the book:

Meditation for Finding Your Own Beauty

Find a quiet spot away from technology and people. Take a hand mirror with you. Sit or lie down - make sure you feel comfortable. Close your eyes. Focus on your breath or a part of your body for a few minutes. Imagine a cloak of love falling down from the sky and resting upon your shoulders. Feel the warmth of that love infuse your whole being. Breathe in that love. See it get absorbed from your shoulders into your chest and heart area, then your stomach area, then your legs and your arms, and your head. Feel that warm liquid of love pulse throughout your whole body. See it grow until it surrounds you in a beautiful golden glow. Bask in that glow.

Now see the picture of a lover in front of you. It doesn't have to be anyone you know - just imagine someone very loving and kind. They are deeply in love with you. See them looking at you with such love and admiration in their eyes, as though they have found the greatest treasure of their lives. Feel that love and acceptance beaming from them toward you. Hear them say, "You are so beautiful." Now open your eyes slowly and hold the mirror in front of you. You are now that lover. See yourself through the eyes of that person who loved you and admired you so much. Look at all the features in you that this person or being was infatuated with. Appreciate those things. Acknowledge as many as you can. See yourself through beauty-viewing eyes. If you keep finding fault in yourself, don't berate yourself - just don't dwell on the thought and shift your thoughts towards the beauty-viewing. Smile at yourself. Put the mirror down.

Now close your eyes again. Feel that feeling of admiration, of appreciation from the depths of your being. Pick it up off your body like it's a ball of light or energy. Hold that ball in your palm. Put your hand over your heart and place that ball / feeling into your heart. Pat it to keep it there. Imagine it's found it's home in your heart now. Take a few more gentle and relaxing breaths. Wriggle your fingers and toes. Open your eyes again and focus on the room.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Alien Captured

Today, I want to welcome fellow ROSA writer, Marie Dry, to my blog, with her 5th book in her alien romance series.


In a bleak future, where government systems are breaking down and poverty and violence reign, on an abandoned farm in Montana, Susannah had a simple plan. She’d capture an alien, sell him to the resistance, and use the money to save her son.

Instead, Susannah had an arrogant alien trapped in a pit who acted as if she was the prisoner. He wanted to kill her dog and insisted she should care for the wound he sustained when he fell into the pit she dug to trap him. On top of that, she had no way to know if the resistance got her message. Every day that passed, she doubted her decision to hand Azagor over to the resistance.

But her son, her baby, was being held by people who considered him unclean because he was conceived out of wedlock—and time was running out.


She thought she had everything under control until her little dog fell into the pit that held the alien captive.

Susannah jumped up, and Killer, who had sat next to her, yipped and jumped away. Everything slowed around her, and while she stood, horror freezing her veins, Killer fell into the hole. His small paws scrabbled at the rusted iron of the trapdoor and then he fell. She saw his mouth move, knew he was barking and yipping, but she couldn’t hear him.

Susanna stood petrified, her heartbeat slowing, seeing the world around her > through a tunnel. The only other time she’d felt this strange sensation was when she realized they’d taken Noah, and she’d never see him again. At the end of the strange twisting tunnel, she saw the alien’s green savage face staring up at her.

He held her tiny dog in his hand, and he and Killer stared at each other, Killer frozen and obviously not knowing what to do. At least the fall didn’t seem to have injured him. His bones were very fragile, and Caine had warned her they broke very easily. Azagor lifted his hand until he held Killer in front of his face and pulled his lips back from his teeth.

Abruptly life rushed back into her frozen limbs. “Don’t you dare eat him,” she screamed while praying Killer didn’t pee on the alien’s hand.

The alien looked at the dog and then at her, and his hand closed ever so slightly. Five claws pointed at Killer’s fragile head. He held her dog up to her like an offering, while his vicious claws slowly lengthened.


Night Owl Reviews:

Marie Dry has really knocked the ball out of the park with this Science Fiction alien romance. The fifth book in the Zyrgin Warriors series, "Alien Captured" is a nonstop adventure ride that will not only keep the reader engaged and turning pages but will pull at the heart strings.

Savannah thinks to save her son by capturing one of the aliens who have invaded Earth. Azagor believes he will capture the heart of Savannah, the woman he's chosen to be his. The problem, Savannah believes him to be an evil demon sent to punish her. Having grown up in a strict religious cult that has shunned technology and where women are slaves, she doesn't know anything about the modern world. Azagor considers himself a modern warrior and is floored at how little Savannah knows and how hard her life has truly been. Slowly Azagor shows Savannah that his intentions are honorable and he's not a demon but more importantly that he will help her find her son.

This was a touching and passionate story with some laughs, heartache, and celebration. I recommend this book and the series by Marie Dry.

Whisky with My Book Review:

I can’t review this book without giving some consideration to the heroine, Susannah. Some might look on Susannah as a weak character. Indeed, in modern contemporary society, she would be considered not only weak, but also backward. But the author provides a thorough background on Susannah, who is very much a product of her upbringing. In this case, I think nature and nurture had it in for her and the other females in her cult. Susannah is a member of a cult that is ruled a man (Brother Josephatus) who fancies himself to be the right hand of God. The women do all the work and have no rights. The women were raised this way and accept the status quo even if they do not like it.

But the cult has abandoned Susannah because they (Brother Joseph) believe she is no good. First, she had a child out of wedlock. In addition to that, she claims to have seen a demon.

Well, that demon was actually the Zyrgin warrior, Azagor. I’m sure anyone could make that mistake. They are green-skinned, red-eyed and have a forehead ridge that could be a horn.

Left on her own, and desperate to get her son Noah back, Susannah’s strengths spring to life. First she conceived the Alien Captured plan. Now that is a title I would not have expected to see in the Zyrgin Warrior series – Alien Captured? The highly trained, arrogant ‘I-am-a-Zyrgin-Warrior‘ type should never have allowed himself to be captured.

And yet, it happened. It would be spoilerish to say much more about the warrior’s capture. But if you think Azagor will stay captive for very long….well, he is a Zyrgin Warrior!

The captive situation puts Azagor just where he wants to be, in the company of Susannah. As you can see, the warrior has some preconceived ideas of what should be happening:

Instead of harboring fantasies of contacting the resistance, she should want to tend to his wound. Sponge down his body and be so impressed with his superior warrior’s physique that she would want to be his breeder.

Susannah treats him as a dangerous enemy to be used. He treats her as a captor to convince to become is breeder. Breeder is the Zrygin word for mate. Azagor (and most of his fellow warriors) don’t have any clue that human women are not all all keen on that word. Misunderstanding ensues, followed by humor.

The lack of understanding about each other and their cultures makes for a lot of misunderstanding. Some is not very funny, but some is quite humorous. What is really funny is what Azagor thinks he knows because of what other human women have told him and the human movies he has watched. I think the cultural differences that create such wonderful interactions are my favorite parts of the Zrygin warrior stories.

But this one also has one more thing that always to appeals to me. A dog. Killer is a Teacup Yorkie – the last of it’s kind. He is a tiny little dog with a huge heart. He takes on the mean green alien without backing down. I can’t help but love this little Killer, even if Azagor thinks it looks like a rat and doesn’t like him:

She was about to grab Killer and run when Azagor stopped as abruptly as he’d started. “He is small and weak. You should kill him. I will get you a better pet.” He absently scratched at his wound, and she swallowed. Didn’t he feel any pain? “The Aurelians have pets.” He said it as if having a pet was the strangest thing to do. “They are called battle leopards. It will protect you.” His lips pulled into what she supposed was his attempt at a smile. If he ever wanted to scare anyone to death, all he had to do was smile. “We’ll make the rat the first snack for your new pet.”

There is more to that rat story, but I won’t say more.

There is also a child, but in this case, he is too young to talk, and therefore does not have that ‘cute kid’ appeal. Susannah’s baby, Noah, was taken from her as soon as he was born. He doesn’t appear until late in the story, but his appearance makes for a heart-wrenching scene. And while the baby does not qualify for cute kid status, the Zrygin warriors reactions to Noah are quite endearing.

There are some interesting, quieter side stories. One about the project of building something in space. Also there is talk of a previous time travel project. I am not sure if I would know more if I had read the first three books in the series? But I would like to know more. Perhaps there will be additional details in book 6.

I really enjoy the alien/human relations in this series. In Alien Captured, the cultural clashes and misunderstandings make for the best rocky start to what will turn into a very cool romance between the determined heroine and the even more determined hero. If you have enjoyed other books in the series, you will like this one. If you are new to the series, go easy on Azagor, until he wises up. You’ll like him!

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Buy the book here: Amazon

About Marie:

Ever since she can remember Marie Dry wanted to travel. She had had the privilege of living in Zambia, Morocco, and Spain and sees herself as a bit of a gypsy. Every few years she gets restless and has to be some place new.

She read romances since she was nine and was fairly young when she decided she would write the perfect story that had all the elements she looked for in a romance. In 1997 she decided to go all out with her writing and to get published. Being published by Black Opal Books is a dream come true for her.

There are several wonderful moments in her life that she would never trade for anything. One of them is meeting President Nelson Mandela and the second being published.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

My Lesson from the Velveteen Rabbit

I don't know if you've ever read the children's classic, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.

I discovered there were some beautiful life lessons in the little story, for me. And maybe for anyone else who has had their heart broken. And for humans else out there. 💟

Spoilers below, if you plan to read the book yourself or to one of your children / grandchildren:

The velveteen rabbit is a plushie given to a boy for Christmas. At first, the boy doesn't connect with the soft toy, but soon he finds it's his favourite toy and he takes the plushie with him everywhere. It gets rough and worn, but according to the velveteen rabbit's friend the Skin Horse, he's becoming real. The more he's worn, the more real he becomes. One day, he meets flesh-and-bone rabbits, and a little seed is planted inside of him to be able to move like they do, but then his time with his boy grows, and he's so happy, he forgets about them.

Firstly, I love this message. As life wears us down, and things come our way to make us not so shiny and perfect on the outside, we become more real on the inside. And that begins to show out in the world. It's called vulnerability. And vulnerability is beautiful. In fact, vulnerability researcher, Brene Brown, states that those who believe that their vulnerability makes them beautiful are the most resilient human beings in the planet. As soon as we take off the mask that we always have to be okay and good and strong and positive, and break down the lie that when we're not tough all the time, we're weak and inferior, we can be human and oh so strong. Because when we hide our true emotions - the good ones and the bad, when we choose to gloss over those painful parts of ourselves, we put a band-aid over a bleeding sore. We ignore our emotions by numbing them with food, alcohol, social media, working constantly, fitness fanaticism, dieting, parties, etc. Numbing them makes us less able to experience the happy emotions - the genuine ones. If we can't face our grief, our sorrow, our rejection, our anger, then we will never fully feel our happiness, relief, peace, satisfaction, etc. And that's why we are a messed-up society. We idolise strength and stoicness. Vulnerability is seen as weakness.

Vulnerability is what makes us strong. We have to learn to love ourselves whether we are strong, capable and with it, or whether we feel like crap, or the breakfast the dog brought up on the carpet.

Breathe into those bad emotions. Let them sit in you for a while, and then find a way to grow out of them. They don't have to stay. But they need to wear out that velveteen inside your bunny ears, and rub the pink sheen off your plastic nose, and thin out the plush fur on your rump. They make you real. And we all really, truly, in the depths of our being, love a real person, because they teach us to connect with that deep part of ourselves - that part that longs for love, and that part that is compassionate and empathetic. Being real means loving the whole YOU.

But bad things happen to velveteen rabbit. His beautiful boy becomes sick. Rabbit lies by his side through the terrifying illness until the boy becomes better. Rabbit is there for him, whispering to him that he can make it. And he does make it. Problem is, the doctor decides that the boy needs to go to the coast for a while to heal some more. And all his dirty old toys need to be tossed out and burned to get rid of the scarlet fever germs. Rabbit gets thrown in a box and taken to the bottom of the yard to get burned.

Rabbit feels all alone. He thinks back to all those beautiful days when he was thoroughly loved by the boy, how his love made him real. He's tormented by the happy memories, especially as he knows it's over. He cries real, water-and-salt tears, and those tears sink into the ground. A flower springs up with a fairy inside. The fairy is beautiful and she plays her magic on the velveteen rabbit. She makes him truly real - rabbit made of fur, and bones, and cells. He discovers he can bounce around like the wild rabbits he'd seen before - the ones he'd secretly longed to be. And he joins their tribe.

This story hit me in the heart, in the gut. Because I fell in love with my husband. He showed me love like I'd never known before in my life. It was beautiful; the memories of happiness are there. He helped me with my low self-esteem. Then one day, the boy got sick and he grew up, and he didn't need me anymore. I got thrown out in a box to be burned at the bottom of the yard.

But I didn't die there. My tears made some magic with the earth. Earth and water alchemy. And I was made real, and I'm still being made real. I'm learning to love ME. I'm learning that I don't need the love of a boy to know true love, that true love lives in me, that loving myself for ME is true love.

It's hard to be vulnerable and real. When people are judgemental, it makes it extra hard. The other day, I was having a bit of a tough time. My kids wanted desperately to send their dad a birthday and Father's Day present. But they couldn't decide what. Eventually they did - at the last minute. And they wanted me to get a photo printed of them standing next to the woman my ex left me for. They wanted to put it in a frame and get it posted to him. It was a punch to my gut. I nearly didn't go through with it. But I chose to make them happy. They don't understand the true extent of the pain my ex has caused me, both through the divorce and subsequently through certain actions. They may never. (And I don't want them to if it means they must suffer the same pain.) But I love them and want to make them happy. So, I went to the photo shop to organize the photo and to organize a Father's Day present for him. I knew inside that he would never appreciate all that I went through to arrange this for him - it took out a whole day from my busy schedule. But I did it for them. So, I told the lady at the photo shop about my dilemma. At first, she looked a bit wary of me sprouting off my personal pain to a stranger. Before I would've berated myself inwardly for telling a stranger my woes, and I would've been angry with her for not offering a sympathetic ear. But then, I decided that she's young, and newly married (with a gorgeous shiny ring) and isn't used to vulnerability - many of us aren't. She's human and she's a product of our stoic society. I didn't hate her for it. And that made me friendly toward her. I ended up leaving the shop with a good feeling between the woman and I. She made me laugh and we shared some jokes and a pleasant report. I felt better about the whole thing after that.

Vulnerability isn't easy, but being real is beautiful. We each secretly long to bounce around with the true tribe of bunnies out there in the wild. Wild women and men we are - deep inside. Let fairy magic sparkle.

(Thanks to for the photos.)

You can buy The Velveteen Rabbit here:

You can listen to Brene Brown's TED talk on vulnerability here:

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

My Reader Story

As writers, we are also often avid readers too.

And we each have a reader story.

I'm keen to know what yours is.

Here is mine in summary (as it's a lot more complicated than I remember, probably). It's always evolving.

When I was a kid, I developed a deep love for books and used to walk to the library every week to get a whole lot to read. My dad kindly fuelled the passion by subscribing me to the Puffin book club where I received a couple of classics every month. I loved getting new books every month. Oh, the smell of a new book. I devoured most of them.

As a teenager, my taste for reading was deeply affected by my religion. I became very religious as a teenager and I felt I should only read Christian books. There were some great ones at the time - stories of young girls from difficult backgrounds who came to Christ. And I read sagas like "This Present Darkness" by Frank Peretti, which were gripping and rather scary! They did upset me at times, especially since we were told to be afraid of the devil. I read a lot of Christian teaching books too.

Towards the end of my high school years, I didn't read much at all - I actually became too religious for my own good. Then I went to Bible college and after that, worked. A little later, I fell in love, got married, and moved to Zambia where we soon had our babies. I began to read again while breastfeeding my babies. I found the hours spent breastfeeding them a great time to read. I only read Christian books though, most of them sweet, inspirational romances. This grew when we moved back to South Africa and I joined the wonderful Newcastle library.

After I wrote my first romance, I met other writers, and learned about other romance genres. I read their books and began to open my mind to reading non-inspirational books. I devoured the romance genre, even dipping into the erotic romance genre.

Then I deconstructed from my strict religion. The divorce happened. Suddenly, I couldn't read romance anymore. And that was the only fiction I really enjoyed. I became stuck. But then I began to devour self-help and general spiritual books. So, that is my current reader status - I'm really into spiritual books at the moment. They are my usual fare. I do read a novel from time to time, but I've become a lot fussier about what I read. I'm just tired of the same old thing. Also, I read romance almost every day for my day job. As an editor, I've become extra critical about the genre too and have to read high quality for me to finish a book.

I also really struggle to read a novel on the kindle. For some reason, it loses its magic. But if I find a good physical book, I can get really into it.

What about you?

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Indie Editing Chick Offer

I am so blessed. I get to read books as my day job. Okay, sometimes, when on a tight schedule, it can be really intense!

I've been running Indie Editing Chick for over a year now and have some amazing clients who send me some beautiful books. I feel so honoured to have played a part in several Amazon bestsellers.

I didn't even realise that I'd be good at editing because I find my own books need thorough editing before they go out there. But I think that's actually part of the reason I've become a successful editor - I know what it's like to be on the other end. I also know what it's like to have difficult editors who want to change your wording or voice, or those who don't bother to check your grammar and wording properly.

Editing other people's books has taught me so much about writing. It's taught me how to see a good story or a diamond in the rough. My favourite part is when I fix up a glaring inconsistency or character flaw in the story. I actually really like it when something needs a good fixing. 😊 It makes me feel useful. (I know, it's hard for the authors to sort out, but it's also a chance to make the book shine.)

Please pop around to my website to take a look at what services I provide at reasonable rates:

Indie Editing Chick

I'm offering a half-price proofread of a book of no more than 50K to one lucky person who comments on my blog or Facebook post.

Self-Love vs Self-Esteem

Growing up, we were often told the importance of self-esteem. Self-esteem is absolutely wonderful and we all need to learn more of it. We need to believe in ourselves and our strengths and abilities. But self-esteem isn't enough. There's more.

To be whole as human beings, we need to truly love and accept ourselves. Loving ourselves is one of the best ways to have a healthy mind and heart. As I've started to learn to love myself in a deep and transformative way, my life has blossomed. I've grown in happiness, peace, and confidence. I've become less judgmental of others as I've become more respectful and kind to myself.

So, I decided to write a book about it. My book Falling in Love with Me - 30 Days of Self-Love is now complete and has been sent to a publisher. It's a 30-day devotional for spiritual seekers. Thirty days of learning how to love yourself more. I'd love to give you a sneak peak from inside the unedited version:

Day 15 – Have Fun

I have this beautiful oracle card deck by Gabrielle Bernstein called “The Universe Has Your Back.” I read her book of the same title, and it touched me deeply, so I couldn’t resist getting the deck to remind me of the truths. Lately, I’ve been picking one of them frequently which states: The Universe Works Fast When I’m Having Fun.
That saying sounds like a lot of nonsense when you read it offhand. I mean, how do we get our dreams to manifest and save up for our future when we’re having fun? We need to work hard to make our dreams come true. Everything in life requires hard work.
Of course, hard work is important, but there’s a subtle truth in the saying which I’ve been pondering.
When we only think of our duty and all the things we need to do, when we forget to relax and enjoy our life, we become less and less effective. We lose touch with our intuitive, creative self. I don’t know about you, but the times I am least creative are when I’m overburdened and overly stressed. Creativity flourishes when we’re relaxed and having fun.
How do we have fun?
I know this sounds like a silly question, but honestly, as adults, it’s quite hard.
What do you enjoy?
When you’ve been ignoring your own needs for so long, this is a hard thing to know. Why don’t you go on a self-discovery journey to find out what you do enjoy? Take up some hobbies, try some creative projects—they don’t have to be elaborate. Join a group if you are energized by being around people. Do something in nature. The earth is very grounding and supportive and heals us emotionally.
I think the hardest thing for me was to lean into fun and relax. It takes time to find a rhythm. And hey, if you don’t have enough fun and you start to run yourself ragged, be easy on yourself. It’s a learning process. You’ll get there.
Try to emulate a child. Get in touch with your inner child—that innocent, free, uninhibited self. Children are fascinated with the world around them and they don’t feel guilty about enjoying simple things. Really, you don’t have to do anything huge and momentous to have fun. You could walk around the shops and check out purses or belts—buy a couple you like or even start a collection of snowglobes or postage stamps. You could watch a different series on Netflix. Or you could experiment with all the things you could do with a glue gun. Make origami with colorful papers or take the plunge at something radical like joining a dancing class or going parasailing.
It may take you months before you actually start to enjoy it. Hey, it may set you free straight away. Be patient with yourself. You just need to explore a part of The Universe you’ve ignored for so long in the name of being sensible and good and responsible. Like learning to ride a bicycle, you may not get it right straight away, but you’re getting out there (the proverbial there) and making an effort to get in sync with The Universe. You’re getting in sync with the way fun makes us change, makes us happy, and heals us. And teaches us to be stronger human beings.
Try to find things to do on your own too. If you have a partner, you may be tempted to only ever have fun when they’re around. As good and vital as this is for your relationship, it’s equally important, and in some ways, more important, to find that sweet spot alone. That thing you do for you and no one else.
We give a lot to those around us. It’s wonderful and beautiful.
Give to yourself too.
Find fun in everything you do—the mundane, the hard work, and the routine. Listen to your favorite podcast while doing chores or errands. Meditate while you do your workout at the gym. Listen to music.
Enjoy the journey of self-love too. Yes, it can be hard to face the lack of love we’ve had for ourselves for so many years, even our whole lives. Yes, it can mean a bit of shadow work, but it needs to be fun too. It needs to be exciting. It’s all part of the journey to getting there—to being in radical self-love mode. Falling in love with yourself is the dance of a beautiful, most perfect, life-altering romance. Maybe it’s not as outwardly noticeable to others as you don’t have a new beau on your arm, but that inward glow is bound to radiate somehow.
Daily Affirmation: I want to have more fun. I’m going to have more fun. I didn’t come to this planet just to learn hard lessons; I came to revel in the joy of being a human being. There is so much to explore. I learn best when I’m having fun, whether in work or play, whether in spiritual development or practical day-to-day. I was made for fun. I’m a master at discovering new ways to have fun.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Patriarchy Poison of Fundamentalist Religion

Post below is 18+ only:

I am branching out on the non-fiction front and I plan to write more articles on my blog about real-life issues, especially along the lines of self-love and feminism, and possibly, environmentalism. These are things I'm passionate about, and I believe that I've been given a chance to speak my truth and to have a voice in the world. My opinions may be strong at times, but they are just opinions. Yes, they may change over time, but I believe they are part of my evolution and growth as a human being. I hope they can help some people to change their ideas and find healing.

I have deconstructed out of a religion that messed me up in so many ways. One of the ways was in my sexuality and womanhood. I respect those who have a spiritual practice and believe in the divine, and I don't want to discount their beliefs in any way, but I do want people to be careful of what they are taught in religious communities. They can be deeply harmful. The points that I want to address in this blog post refer to the effect that fundamentalist Christianity had on me as a woman (in the past).

We were taught several things as Christian women. I'm going to list the ideas below in bold and deconstruct them:

1. A woman leaves her father and mother and joins or becomes one with her husband.

We were taught that we were under the authority of our parents until we got married. When we married our Christian man, then he became our authority. He was our support, the one we were to look to for guidance and the one who was to ultimately make all the decisions in the home. We became one with him and were now under his spiritual leadership and umbrella. The basic idea was that our lives would now become complete once we married our good Christian man. He became our "lord", our everything.

As "romantic" as this may seem, it breeds codependency big time. Instead of teaching young women to become financially independent and to develop their own sense of self and autonomy, we're basically taught that we need our parents to tell us what to do and straight after that, we need a man to tell us what to do and make decisions for us. He becomes our "lord", our everything, instead of us learning to find ourselves as well-rounded and happy adults.

So, basically you become dependent on this man and when he leaves you, you're pretty much in deep trouble.

It also creates an imbalance in the marriage, where it's no longer a partnership of equal, adult, mature human beings, but an authoritarian hierarchy where the man is in charge and the woman must listen.

2. A woman is to submit to her husband and respect him. That's her wifely duty and Christian duty to God. Even if she doesn't agree with him, she must submit with gentleness and reverence.

As "beautiful" and "godly" as this may sound, it's also deeply flawed and dangerous. Sure, it's good to respect your partner, but when that respect is required of you, it's very different and scary. Respect is rather a mutual thing that both partners should enjoy from each other - something that comes from friendship and partnership, not subservience.

What happened in my marriage is that, in order to be this good Christian wife, I lost myself in the relationship. I gave up many of my needs and wants to make him happy. Or if I did put my needs first I felt so guilty about it. At first, I felt really good about my "goodness". Well, let's say I felt really good about my behaviour throughout most of the marriage. I felt good about being sacrificially kind toward him. But in the end, it didn't get me anywhere. He left me anyway. And, once I'd begun to heal from the divorce, I realized how much of my own power I'd given away to make him happy. How I'd bent over backwards for him oftentimes, at the expense of just saying no and taking time for myself. Yes, I fully blame myself. I gave my power away. But my actions were directly related to how I'd been taught in my religion to act as a woman.

What this idea also pushes is that women end up accepting abuse in the name of submission and "reverence". Then the woman can't get out of the relationship because she's supposed to be this good wife, who loves unconditionally forever, no matter what.

3. Masturbation or self-pleasure is wrong and is a doorway to lust.

So, we were told we shouldn't pleasure ourselves because it leads to fantasy about other men and therefore lust, which ultimately will lead to adultery.

This is total codswallop.

On so many levels.

Firstly, not getting to know my own body, away from the relationship and even before the marriage, made it harder for me to navigate the sexual side of our relationship because I didn't know my likes and dislikes, at all. I was taught to be ashamed of my needs. I was a stranger to my own body.

Secondly, self-pleasure does not lead to lust. It enhances self-love and self-discovery. In fact, it actually reduces lust because your sexual needs are met.

Thirdly, it puts a strain on another person to meet all your sexual needs, which leads to...

4. As partners in a marriage, we must never say no to sex, unless it's to fast from food. 

Yes, this is actually in the bible. The only time we were allowed to say no to our partners is if we were fasting from food or very ill. Or upon doctor's orders, like after having a baby.

And because we were told that men had higher sex drives than us and only felt loved by their wives if they were given sex, we basically felt that we couldn't say no - that it was the worst thing we could ever do to our husbands. (It also makes a man think that he must only get sex to find love, but I strongly believe men are much more well-rounded than that.)

I was told at a lady's group once that I'd better give my husband sex whenever he wanted it, else he would eventually have affairs and leave me for someone else.

So, you'd better give your husband sex. All the time. Whenever he wants. If you don't, it's your fault if he cheats on you. (I was even asked by some Christian ladies after my divorce if I'd made my husband happy in bed. They basically implied that it was my fault he cheated on me.)

This idea needs some serious deconstruction.

For one, no one else is responsible for our sexual fulfilment. We are the ones who are responsible for our own bodies and pleasure. It is just wrong to place this burden on another human being. If your partner is not meeting your sexual needs, yes, it would be wise to communicate this problem in a loving way, but if they can't oblige for some reason, a compromise needs to be reached. If your partner has a lower sex drive than you, then you should find your own way of meeting those needs without comprising the integrity of the relationship. Cue in the self-pleasure thing. (Yes, you won't die without sex. Many single people survive, or actually thrive for years without sex.)

Sex is supposed to be a gift. It's something we offer our partners because we love them. It's not something that they should demand or that we owe them. And women thrive on the pleasure just as much as men.

For two, not being able to say no puts a damper on the sex drive. It makes sex an obligation and a means to keep someone happy. That's not a great way to fuel passionate love. Sure, if the couple agree mutually to work on that side of their relationship, to improve frequency - wonderful. But as soon as it becomes one partner's duty to keep the relationship going by being some type of sex-slave, something is seriously out of balance.

Thirdly, this whole mindset is fear-based. It creates a dynamic of insecurity and possessiveness in the relationship which doesn't enhance love.

Importantly, it teaches us to put our partners needs above our own, constantly. This is very unhealthy for a person's well-being and a relationship. It will eventually lead to resentment or dis-empowerment.

I remember how I always felt like I couldn't go to sleep without my partner in case he wanted sex that night. When he used to stay up really late at one stage, it was exhausting. I could never just relax in bed at night. It was always my wifely duty to wait up for him, just in case. Eventually, it became too exhausting to live like this.

And lastly, it made us think that we had to go with whatever our partner wanted in bed. This is a scary thing and can lead to abusive situations where a woman accepts things that she doesn't enjoy. That doesn't enhance the relationship and leads to resentment. It also weakens the woman and makes her unable to express her needs and say no. It enables men to always dominate and encourages narcissism and abuse.

Patriarchy is often a subtle thing. Be careful if your religion teaches things that dis-empower women, wrapping it up in flowery spiritual language and self-sacrificial urgings which can appeal to people who have a yearning to be good and faithful to their faith. When women are dis-empowered, men suffer too. Relationships suffer and so do families and communities. Women and men are equal. Yes, we are different and we should embrace those differences, but in a relationship, we should be equal partners who love and respect each other - individuals who are entitled to say no and entitled to time out and space and being selfish sometimes.

Friday, April 6, 2018

One of the Main Reasons I Don't Write Erotic Romance Anymore & Was Never Really Good at It

18+ only. Please don't proceed further if you're under 18.

I want to share something that I deem very important for the well-being of the females on this planet. What I write below may not resonate with you, and that's fine. I write this to help people and in no way to judge anyone else and the path that works for them. Everyone is an individual and has their own story, and that's what's so beautiful about being on this big blue and green orb - we get to learn from each other and learn to be tolerant with each other.

Something happened after the sexual revolution of the 60s - women were liberated. And men. Women were suddenly allowed to enjoy sex. And explore their sexuality. What a wonderful thing!

Then pornography happened (or maybe it had always been there). I don't know exactly when pornography started up, but I suppose it grew more with the advent of the internet. Before it was just those magazines teen boys used to slot under their mattresses. Now it's full-on videos of the act. People got access to finding out about sex without having to read dry literature or ask their elders (blush, blush). Soon after e-books came out. Erotic romance was written and published, and read, long before Fifty Shades of Grey caught the world alight.

I'm not a fan of pornography and will give my reasons below. But with regards to erotic romance, there is much good in it. I find romance is pure feminism. It shows us ladies that we are meant to be loved, pampered, and pleasured. We are important and we don't just exist for the purpose of our husbands' sexual pleasure. We are to be honoured and pleasured too. Nor are we here just to propagate the human race. Erotic romance can put a woman in the mood and can show her what a good lover is all about. But...

I used to hate reading it sometimes because it made me feel like such a failure as a woman. I always struggled with multiple orgasms, and didn't really like a lot of the things that instantly worked for other women. It was made out to me by the books and my partner that there was something inherently wrong with me. When I took up writing erotic romance books (under a pseudonym), more to please him than myself, although I was curious about the genre, I tried to bring some realism into them. That backfired. My books didn't sell well at all. I struggled so much to write the genre. It was like wading through thick vegetable soup. I wasn't idealistic enough. And seeing it was a reflection of my real life, I wasn't sexy enough. I was just poop as a woman. Because our womanhood is totally based on how sexually acquiescent we are. (Sarcasm siren going off, big time.)

But when my relationship fell apart, a seed got planted in my psyche that maybe I wasn't the problem after all. That maybe it had to do with unrealistic expectations.

And since then I've read and heard of several things about the dangers of pornography. It's not like I've actively gone looking for this info, although at times I've tried. It's just popped up, as though my eyes have been opened and as though The Universe wants to assure me that I am wonderfully created and good enough just as I am.

Pornography is not based on real relationships and real sexuality; it's done according to a standard system, and the women are chosen according to a certain look (not just in their shape but also in their more intimate visuals). A lot of the time, these women hate their jobs and do it for the money and not for pleasure. It often objectifies women, revealing them as merely objects of pleasure and not human beings with moods and different tastes. (I'm sure it does the same for men but that's not what this article is about.) It shows seamless orgasms, without any issues, and need for patience and communication, and taking time to discover your partner. And MOST OF ALL, it doesn't represent the sexual tastes of the whole population.

And I'm afraid to admit that erotic romance sometimes does this too. Yes, it shows things from a woman's POV, how she gets pleasured. It helps us ladies know that we do deserve pleasure and a good man to give that to us. But it also often shows women who always have multiple orgasms, always orgasm (and in a violent, life-changing way every time), and always have every single need and desire met perfectly with every sexual encounter they have with their partners.

This sets up the stage for very unrealistic expectations.

But it's fantasy, you say.

Sure, it's fantasy, and if you can just see it that way and not let it influence your own relationship with your partner or with yourself as a human being, great, and good for you. But if it in any way makes you feel unworthy and inadequate as a woman, there is something intrinsically harmful about it for you. And if it makes your partner unhappy with you and messes up your relationship, because they have unrealistic expectations of you, then it's not healing womankind at all.

Today, I heard a podcast of an interview with feminist and sexuality educationalist, Melissa Fabello

The biggest thing I got out of the podcast was that not all women like multiple orgasms ( and not all of them have bigger-than-life experiences when they orgasm - for some it's just a simple feeling of satisfaction. Also, every one likes different things and it doesn't make you a bad or un-sexy person because you don't like certain things. It's not like your body is deliberately choosing to spite your partner. Sometimes, in erotic romance, the women seem to like everything. Every single thing. And the partners seem to instinctively know what they like without asking. I'm not criticizing the authors as you can't write a sex scene with stumbling and with a woman saying, "No, please don't do that. It's not nice." Because that wouldn't be very swoon-worthy to read. But hey, it would be really nice if someone could write a book like that one day - how a relationship actually wasn't perfect in the beginning, but the couple learned to communicate and work with mutual pleasure in a loving, patient, and understanding way. To me that would be the most romantic erotic romance ever!

That said, there are many amazing, beautiful, touching erotic romances that I read in my day job which I wouldn't want to change at all. I just want women to learn more about themselves and educate themselves so they are more able to love themselves and have healthy relationships with their partners. Melissa recommends this book, which I'm quite keen on reading. I can't vouch for it.

I'd love to hear your comments.