The Lifestyle: A Review

Yesterday I finally finished “The Lifestyle: A Look at the Erotic Rights of Swingers” and I really enjoyed the analysis of what was going on with Swingers in the mid-late 90’s. The book is a bit dated but many of the lessons stand true today and books like this help destroy the unfair discrimination and naive views some people have towards those who don’t fit neatly into the “traditional marriage” paradigm. In fact, I found it surprising how many people were actually involved in The Lifestyle, the odds are someone in every neighborhood across western civilization there are play-couples who don’t see a problem with introducing third party eroticism into their relationships.

There are several different types of swingers discussed throughout the book but each type shared some common themes. It is very woman-centric, the ladies tend to control the action and explicit consent is absolutely mandatory. It mentioned many times throughout the book that come down to men tend to initiate the idea of entering the lifestyle but it is the women that really dominate. Due to the potential for coercion the official lifestyle clubs work very hard to self-regulate. Some clubs require interviews, psychological evaluations, and an application process to make sure both members of the couple are healthy and interested. Swinging cannot save a couple with a bad or weak relationship, but it can strengthen a strong and healthy one. Swingers don’t consider their actions cheating because everyone consents, especially their partner. The relationship comes first at all times, which is more than I can say for the people who cheat on their partners. The lifestyle at this time (and possibly now) does have a male homophobia though, men showing intimacy for other men is more than just frowned upon. That may have changed over the last 15 years as pansexuality and bisexuality become more normalized though.

The majority of swingers I would call “soft swingers” and they make up roughly 3/4 of people in the lifestyle. Soft swingers don’t necessarily have sex with other people, instead the enjoy the carefree and sensual atmosphere of being around adults where everything is out in the open. Because people are so open there are much fewer cases of unwanted touching, grinding, sexual assault, or harassment… everyone knows the boundaries, there are no games, it is all in the open. This is much like the Orgy Dome that my partner and I went to at Burning Man, it is a sexual place where trusting couples can be surrounded by sensuality without a worry of anyone being hurt. When some sort of sex outside of the primary relationship happens it is usually with another couple they know, trust, and it is a beautifully intimate affair.

Within the lifestyle there are also “hard swingers” who are more orgiastic. These are the vast minority though. Not that there is anything wrong with indulging in group sex with strangers, but it is relatively uncommon. Of course this is the type of swingers that comes to mind thanks to the media, you say swinger and people imagine “key parties” or groups of writhing oiled up bodies, when the reality is most swingers don’t engage in group sex behavior at all.

One chapter of the book was also dedicated to polyamorous people, though whether they are part of the lifestyle is up for debate. Where “swingers” brings up the idea first of sex (and many swingers would agree with that), the polys discussed in the book view things very differently. In their view they are very explicitly trying to remake society along the boundaries of love. Their relationships tend to be sexually closed and intimacy is shared within multi-person families and marriages. They wanted to bring Robert Heinlein’s views from “Stranger in a Strange Land” to life and even adopted the terminology of “grok” and “sharing water” in common conversations. To be honest, this chapter of the book kind of surprised me because that has not been my experience with polyamorous people. My experience, which I admit is minimal, seems to be closer to a middle ground between these polys and swingers. This may be due to the 15+ years separating now and this book or it may be that my experience is not the norm.

One of the most common criticisms of any lifestyle that is not monogamous is that it isn’t “natural”. The standard model of human sexuality pushed for monogamy, but that is being challenged pretty heavily by sperm competition. Under sperm competition a male will have more powerful and pleasurable orgasms if they think (or know) that their partner has had sex with another person. It is a pretty common fantasy for a man to want to see his partner be with another and sperm competition leads some credibility to that. This theory also shows why women can have multiple orgasms, take longer to orgasm, and become very vocal during sex… because they were built for many partners to help guarantee they get the strongest genes. More info on this can be found in “What Do Women Want?” and “Sex At Dawn

The media in the past has seen people in the lifestyle as perverse and open to all sorts of unfair criticism. They reinforced a form of classism where when rich and beautiful people embrace their sexuality it is to be celebrated but the common folk must do no such thing. Articles were written focused on how unattractive swingers were compared to their hollywood counterparts and how disgusting it was that they would wear scantily clothes, show intimacy in public, or openly flirt. I can’t help but be disgusted with the idea that sexual fulfillment and relationship experimentation is only a good thing if people fit into a certain physical mold. If all humans are equal we should all be free to pursue happiness with other consenting adults.

As disgusting as the media’s actions were for a time their tune eventually changed when the government decided to enforce morality. The major turning point was when the California ABC (which is responsible for giving out liquor licenses) started targetting venues who allowed swinging conventions and using nude art as their justification. Once there was a clear attack on free speech the media got in line and started at least supporting the swingers rights to practice what they wish. The ABC, as a bureaucracy, has virtually no check on their power. They are charged with defending public morality in any place where alcohol is served and used this power with virtually no oversight. They couldn’t be sued and any complaints went internally to ABC. They even claimed the authority to revoke the liquor license of any hotel that allowed nudity or sexual activity behind the closed doors of a hotel room. They used their power to primarily go after those who couldn’t fight back but the swingers had resources, they are primarily middle and upper-middle class suburbanites who weren’t going to go down without a fight. After the attempted censorship of nude art a judge finally reigned in ABC by putting a restraining order on them. To this day the ABC is charged with protecting the safety, welfare, health, peace, and morals (emphasis mine) of the people of California. As the author says, “When a government – any government – feels itself standing as a righteous bulwark against sexual immorality, the public becomes the enemy”

All in all this was a fascinating book that I really enjoyed. It did a great job of showing how “normal” most swingers are. They are mostly married, have good jobs, raise kids, and are many times religious. They just reject the current view of sexual morality, as the author said “Morals are without exception dictated by the dominant figures in a group, who ruthlessly attempt to constrain the sexual expression of others.” Swingers are telling the establishment to fuck off, they are living life their way. I would love to attend the national convention in 2014 but it is unlikely I will be able to due to my bike ride. Hopefully my partner and I can at least check out one of the local clubs or something though. There is a wide world of sexual and relationship acceptance out there for those that will open their minds and think for themselves.

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A Wedding Recap

This last weekend I had the huge honor of being the Best Man at my best friend’s wedding. I know in the past I’ve been fairly vocal about my own disinterest in traditional marriage, but I am an economist and recognize subjective value… meaning that I may not want a wedding for myself but am thrilled to participate in something important  to another. And man, this wedding was the fucking tits. There are a lot of stories and a lot of fun was had but here are some of the things that will stick with me the most.

  • Weddings can be really, really damn beautiful. The site (Convict Lake near Mammoth, California), weather, atmosphere, everything was perfect. A true fairytale location for a perfect fairytale wedding.
  • I will get naked and streak a household of mostly strangers for at least $20
  • My partner can’t handle Fireball whiskey
  • I am pretty decent at giving impromptu speeches… and that apparently surprises people
  • Real friendships stand the test of time… for the first time in 12 years my closest friends since fifth grade were together and we still had a grand time. Some of us have lost hair (not me), some of us have gained weight (me), and all of us have gorgeous partners but all-in-all the banter and friendship was the same.
  • Online presences are strange things. Several of the people I met at the wedding primarily knew me through Facebook and blog posts where I may come off one-dimensionally focuses on polyamory, sex, drugs, anarchy, and Burning Man. Hopefully I have the opportunity to spend more time with these people and we can get to know each other.
  • Some people get uncomfortable when you invite them to a foursome
  • It can be difficult to tell if people seriously want you in a foursome or not… I still have hope that the joking was only “haha, that’s funny… but seriously” and not really “haha, this is all just joke drunk flirting”
  • Some people will offer to have sex with you if you give them your jacket in the cold
  • Flirting is still a lot of fun, especially when your partner doesn’t care/encourages it.
  • Other people agree that my partner has a fantastic ass
  • When the dj plays Ke$ha most people leave the dance floor (not me)
  • A wedding that includes several Star Trek: The Next Generation references is awesome
  • Drunk parents rock
  • Love is an amazing thing… I don’t think Love is all you need for a successful romantic relationship but it is certainly an important part of the human experience.

I’m sure there are many more lessons to be learned from this amazing, unforgettable weekend but it is time to leave my office for the day so here is a picture of what I woke up to each morning I was up at the wedding.

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Birthday Wishes

This upcoming Sunday is my birthday, but because I am a (barely functional) adult I don’t really need much, but there are lots of organizations out there that do. So, for my birthday I hope you all will considering what you can to one of these amazing organizations. Liberty, ending the drug war, medicinal research, and ending rape are four of my passions and these organizations are on the frontlines. Every dollar helps.

Men Can Stop Rape: This organization is working to change the narrative around rape and end rape culture by mobilizing men to use their strength to protect, not harm. Check them out and see if they fit what you want in the world, if so, please donate.

Students For Liberty (SFL): As an international education based non-profit SFL is having a global impact for liberty. They provide resources and training for college students who are interested in a free society. Check them out at their website and if you like what they are doing you can donate here.

Students For Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP): SSDP is an international organization that works to educate and mobilize students to change the policies in their country. They value sensible policies of harm prevention, instead of incarceration, for narcotics use. They are doing many things that could use some financial support.

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS): MAPS continues to do great work in search of medicinal uses for a wide range of stigmatized drugs like marijuana, LSD, and MDMA. They focus on clinical research, as well as providing educational harm prevention materials. I really believe that what they do will have a huge impact on the treatment of a variety of issues that face society, but they need help to keep going.

If you really want to throw something my way though, I am accepting support for my upcoming bicycle ride via paypal.

You Should Give As Good As You Get

This is going to be one of those “if you believe TMI exists and/or are related to me and uncomfortable with sexual information it may be time to close the tab” blog posts.

I follow a fair number of sex and relationship advice-givers on my Facebook feed and have noticed something interesting. About once or twice a week a “How to give a great blowjob!” post appears on my feed, but I have yet to see a “How to give good cunnilingus” ever appear. I’m not exactly sure why that is. I admit that with the exception of Dan Savage (who is gay and has a high book knowledge of vagina’s but has not had much personal experience with them) most sex and relationship columnists tend to be targeting women. I had a friend point out one Vice column about cunnilingus but personally I found it fairly unhelpful and seemed to be more for shock value than actual advice. So, after a pretty decent Facebook discussion and encouragement from a number of female friends (and my partner) I decided to write this post.

Big Huge Fucking Disclaimer: I won’t even begin to claim I have the answers for creating pleasure. I am one guy who has had a fair number of partners and I am comfortable with my oral skills. These tips and thoughts are based on my personal experiences and the contributions of my partners (past and present) and some friends that shared their thoughts with me privately. Every person is different and desires vary widely, what I talk about here may not actually be effective for others, these are just my personal experiences. I don’t know if any of my followers will find value in this, but I hope they do… if nothing else I hope it sparks conversation because talking and discussing things with your partner is the only way to guarantee everyone is satisfied, inside and outside the bedroom.

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In retrospect, I owe most of my base knowledge to a guy I met in Basic Training that we called “Romeo”. When word got around that I was a 19-year old virgin Romeo took me aside and felt the need to tutor me. He could have done all of this in front of the group to humiliate me but I think he genuinely wanted me to have some working knowledge of the vagina before my first real sexual experience. So, he told me things that I would have ideally learned from either sex ed or my father, how to bring sexual pleasure to my partner.

Some Basic Information: If your partner has a vagina and desires oral sex you really should give it. Approximately 75% of women cannot reach orgasm through penetration alone… that means there needs to be some clitoral stimulation at least. In my experience I have only had one partner that could orgasm off of penetration alone and she could also orgasm off of only nipple stimulation, so she was a rarity. So, if you look at your previous partners and most of them orgasmed just off of penetration either that is a statistical anomaly or you have been lied to. (Side note: Ladies, please don’t lie about having an orgasm. This does not do anyone any favors. If your partner cares about you they will want to make you happy and that requires honesty. It is better to temporarily bruise an ego than fill your time with less than satisfactory encounters.)

In my experience some partners can be nervous, uncomfortable, or apprehensive about receiving oral sex. From the discussions I’ve had this stems from false stereotypes about the vagina (men don’t like giving oral, it smells bad, etc) or past partners have been really bad and it has not been enjoyable. It is important to remember that for most guys bad sex is better than no sex, while the opposite is true for women where bad sex can be painful, uncomfortable, and embarrassing. As with all new sexual things with your partner (or experiences with a new partner) it is good to move slowly in the beginning and communicate. All sexual acts should be consensual, and ideally that consent is enthusiastic. Communication really is key and the more comfortable everyone is beforehand the better. It should, and will, come naturally in the end. Oral sex is fucking awesome but remember, good relationships are GGG, and that second G means “giving equal time and equal pleasure”. There is no need to keep a scorecard of sexual acts but we all know when our partner has woken us up to oral sex or been the major pleasure recipient in a quickie, the last thing you want is for your partner to feel like they are being taken sexually for granted.

Alright, now for some basic anatomy… to be honest I wasn’t sure how basic I was going to get but I figured better be safe than sorry. One of my life motto’s is “The only thing I want more than my own orgasms is for other people to have orgasms” and it would be sad if a basic anatomy lesson prevented that. So, oral sex is mostly focused on the clitoris either directly or indirectly. As you can see in the picture below the actual clitoris is way, way, way more than the small glans above the vaginal, it is a web of nerves that extends all over the pelvic region. The “glans clitoris” is important and a major pleasure producing spot for most women but it is the tip of the pleasure iceberg for your partner, the nerves underneath the skin can (and should) be stimulated as well. Remember though, everyone is build differently and some woman are tip sensitive, some g-spot sensitive, some prefer light thrusting, some fast, some hard, some need to concentrate hard to orgasm, and for some it comes with little focus. All sex takes practice to get great and hopefully the following info will help you along the way.

Clitoris_anatomy_labeled-en

Warm Up: It is pretty unlikely that sex is going to begin with oral. In general, women need more warming up to be ready to receive oral. There is rarely a rush, so take your time. Start with kissing, touching, fondling. I find some over the clothes genital rubbing can really get things going, and trust me, it pays off in the end. To be blunt, oral sex can often take a lot of time and energy, the more you put into foreplay the easier giving your partner pleasure will be in the future. So, instead of rushing to the mouth banging take some time and treat each article of clothing as a new experience, every inch of new flesh can be a new place to explore with all your sense while you keep rubbing and playing with her body below the clothes. As a guy I know it feels good when I am still wearing boxers or shorts and I am being rubbed, in my experience that pleasure is similar for women.

Oral Sex: When it is time to begin your partner will likely be pretty moist. The actual level of fluid can vary significantly depending on your partner but hopefully if it is on either extreme (generally really dry or generally really wet) your partner will communicate this ahead of time. Often the vaginal folds will keep moisture in so it may take some play with your fingers to get to the vaginal opening. Use the natural fluid to make rubbing and touch less abrasive… just as it feels better to get a handjob with lube it feels better for the woman to have some moisture when playing with the clit. Once you begin playing you should use your hands/fingers and your mouth to provide a multiple stimulation.

Mouth/Tongue: For me the mouth is used primarily for clitoral stimulation but it starts as the primary tool. Kissing and licking along the inner thigh before you actually start with the vagina and clit can help build up pleasure through a bit of teasing. Again, there is no rush. Long, slow kisses from the bottom of the vaginal opening to the clit can be great stimulation. Once things are going the tongue focuses more on the clit itself by hardening and rubbing against it horizontally and vertically. A decent trick is to use your mouth to “draw” each letter of the alphabet, this provides seemingly random stimulation but keeps things going. If you find your tongue gets tired fairly quickly you can exercise that muscle by daily moving your tongue horizontally 100 times and vertically 100 times. Some partners may also enjoy it if you press your lips down around the clit and hum, causing vibrations to ripple throughout the area.

Primary Hand: To add stimulation your primary hand can put fingers inside the vagina. The amount of fingers varies depending on the woman but having it palm up and making a “come here” motion with your fingers can often stimulate the g-spot. Playing around with the locations, speed, and pressure can help you figure out what your partner likes. This stimulates the internal nerves of the clit and it would be a shame to ignore all those pleasure spots.

Secondary Hand: Don’t let your non-primary hand go to waste. You can use your secondary hand to massage your partners legs, caress along her skin, grab her butt, or relieve your primary hand when your fingers get tired (be sure to make sure they are wet though through quickly sucking on them yourself or using your partner’s fluid). A great use I’ve found for your secondary  hand is to massage or place pressure on the pubic mound or near the hip/leg joint. This can sandwich the clitoral nerves between your fingers inside the vagina and the skin on the outside. Play with her body, feel things out, and see what she likes.

Communication: In the end, communication is what it comes down to. Pay attention to her body and make adjustments as needed. Also, recognize that communication can sometimes be difficult and body signals can vary significantly. I’ve had partners that get incredibly quiet and still when they are close to having an orgasm and I’ve had partners that start to get loud and buck their hips or grind into my face. Once you know the signs it gets much easier. Not everyone (including me) is comfortable with a lot of verbal instructions, particularly during intercourse. It can be helpful to develop non-verbal signs with your partner (for example: one hand lightly pulling of my hair means speed up the tongue, two hands lightly pulling my hair means slow down, etc). Non-verbal instructions can start to become very natural and oftentimes become unnecessary, but they do offer a way to enjoy the pleasure that comes with knowing and being in control of the act (like with masturbation) and the spontaneity and freedom that comes from a partner doing the “work”.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. I hope this helped somebody, if nothing else it was fun for me to write. Happy orgasms everybody!

 

30 Days to a Better Man – Day 2: Shine Your Shoes

Oh goodness… the ole’ shoe shine. I was actually looking forward to this. In the military I used to love shining my shoes (as well as cleaning my weapon), something about the repetitive simple action calmed me and I did some great internal reflection during that time. So, here I am with the only two pairs of dress shoes I own, fresh Kiwi, and a cold Guinness, just like old times… I even have a wedding coming up so maybe I’ll bust out these shiners.

Hmm… these “skill” based ones are going to take a whole lot less blogging probably. I’ll try to be more entertaining in the future. To be honest, the most difficult part of this was actually acquiring the materials. Kiwi and stuff is easy to come by but motivation can be lacking, particularly after a long day at work and 25 miles total biking too and from work. I had to really convince myself to detour to a store for a task that I didn’t think would be a challenge at all, but I knew that if I slacked on a small challenge I would make excuses for myself on the bigger issues.

Couples Therapy

I have often talked about my advocacy for using MDMA* as a therapeutic assist for individuals facing PTSD, as well as a way for romantic couples to keep communication open and maintain a strong love for each other. A while back my partner and I got to experience something else when we had a night “rolling” with another couple who are our friends. I found this experience to be incredibly positive and I hope to relive it again with that couple and others that we know.

There is a false stereotype that MDMA is some sort of “sex drug”. In reality, it opens doors of communication and fosters love and trust between those involved. Due to the nature of the relationship of all involved the only sexual contact occurred between significant others and did so in a fairly private manner. Instead, the whole experience was a lot of discussions about love, life, relationships, and how much we appreciated each other. We  all got to discuss how we face the problems in our lives and what we hope for in the future. We were also able to find out how another couple deals with difficulties in relationship types (both being kind of mixed poly/mono couples). People who love each other should be free to discuss anything openly, but sadly social barriers and our past often prevent that. MDMA helps open that up.

Moving forward I certainly hope we have more experiences like this. With all things pre-intoxicated discussions are key. While I may be comfortable with things like being naked in front of friends, giving/receiving massages, having sex while others are in the room, or even sexual intimacy with others it is important to get these things on the table beforehand when everyone is completely sober… if something comes up of interest during a roll you can always discuss it the next day and save it for another time. It is better to guarantee enthusiastic consent and interest in an activity than risk harming a person or relationship. Basically, err on the side of the most conservative member of the group.

Unfortunately, I am not as outspoken in person with individuals as I am when writing about things as broad issues, so though I may be interested in something I often remain quiet. I’m working on this, and thinking there might be a better way. I’ve seen lists of sexual interests that couples can exchange where they rate things like “I’d love to do that – Maybe under the right circumstances – No way in hell” and I’m sure that could be adapted for couples therapy. Even if new boundaries aren’t pushed, enjoying a loving and intimate home environment while rolling is still one of my favorite things to do, and it sure as hell is a lot safer and cheaper than alcohol.

*Unfortunately we live in a place where men with guns are willing to throw peaceful adults in cages if they possess MDMA. Due to Prohibition the quality of MDMA can be compromised and can become unsafe. Please, please, please, always purchase from a trusted source, use a test kit to ensure quality, stay hydrated, and look out for each other. Rolling is amazing and can be a near spiritual experience, but it isn’t worth taking unnecessary fatal risks.  Be Safe.

30 Days to a Better Man – Day 1: Define Your Core Values

When I read on Facebook last week that a friend of mine decided to do the Art of Manliness 30 Days to a Better Man I was intrigued, as I often am by all things.I was so intrigued in fact that I decided to do it as well. My friend encouraged this and asked if I would like to share my thoughts with him as things progress and to offer support for each other, that seemed awesome so I decided to also put it into a blog. I’m not sure if this will be a daily thing or not due to my busy schedule but I am certainly going to try.

I guess I should mention why I found this interesting. As a feminist I seem to have a knee-jerk reaction against all things masculine, but this seems like an incomplete way to live life. There should be balance in all things, yin and yang, night and day, feminine and masculine. In order to understand and experience all things that humankind has to offer I feel the need to dive into new scenarios and viewpoints. I refused to take the government, religion, and societies views on life as gospel, I shouldn’t also take how I perceive feminist views on masculinity as gospel either, instead I will dive into the art of manliness and see if I can learn something.

This particular friend of mine makes the perfect companion for this adventure. In many ways he and I seem to be very different people. He is clean shaven, clean cut, classically attractive, wears fine suits, has dated an international model, professional, and articulate… he is the reincarnation of Frank Sinatra, including the voice (maybe) and the blue eyes (maybe). I, on the other hand, am bearded, cut my own hair, look like a lumberjack, have not put on a tie since 2012, have a partner who was lovingly described as a woodland princess, am a hippie burner, and am kind of a wreck when talking to anyone. I’m not trying to say that my life is better than his or anything, just highlighting that he and I are different (though we both love good booze and motherfucking liberty). In a way I feel like my venture into “manliness” is an exploration of his world.

Day 1: Define Your Core Values —-

When I saw this was the first day I was not really surprised but I didn’t think it would be much of a challenge. I’m 31 years old, I grew up on the west coast, went to college in the south, worked in the mid-Atlantic, had a threesome in the northeast, and rode my bicycle across the country. I have also served as an infantryman in the Army in Afghanistan and Iraq, work in corporate America, and had a job since I was 12. Basically, I figured I was pretty in touch with my core values. Before I started I decided my core values were “individuality”, “love”, and “freedom”. I wasn’t sure if these are the things that the exercise would point out but I was shocked when I printed this days work and saw it was six full pages. How in the world could it take me six pages to figure out what I value?

As I read through the instructions I found a passage (below) that really stuck out to me. It really reminded me of some of the stuff I am reading in “Steering By Starlight”, this day seemed to really be trying to help me find my North Star and find the path to the my own happiness and potential. It also reminded me of the often conflicting Army Core Values (Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, Personal Courage – LeaDeRSHIP) and how different it was to search for my own values instead of having them drilled into my head during Basic Training.

Defining our values gives us purpose. When you don’t know or you haven’t clearly defined your values, you end up drifting along in life. Instead of basing your decisions on an internal compass, you make choices based on circumstances and social pressures. You end up trying to fulfill other people’s expectations instead of your own. And before you know it, life has passed you by and you haven’t even started to live. Trying to be someone else and living without core values is down right exhausting and leaves you feeling empty and shiftless. Conversely, living a life in line with your core values brings purpose, direction, happiness, and wholeness.

So, per the instructions I spent some peaceful time thinking about my values. I ran through different scenarios and tried to focus on how I felt when exercising those values. I whittled it down to the following five. I wasn’t instructed to share them here but since I share pretty much everything with y’all I feel no need to censor myself now. So, my five values are:

  • Peace: The silence of internal and external conflict. The former may be impossible to achieve as a human but the latter is possible in most cases.
  • Intimacy: Human contact, love, touch, and affection. This includes friendship, sex, love, partnerships, cuddle puddles, and all combinations of expression love for one another.
  • Exploration: The freedom to see how far and wide I can go in this world. This is internal and external exploration… reading, writing, travelling, learning
  • Accomplishment: The sense that I have pursued something and truly did all I could. This may not mean I hit the goals I mentally focused on but I can rest comfortably knowing I did my best.
  • Variety: New experiences that challenge my mind, body, spirit, and expectations. This is my seemingly endless thirst to try everything myself to see if I like it or not.