Part of the Summer 100 are a few themes to help guide participants in creating similar content. The theme of the first round is masturbation, self pleasure, and self care. I had been getting ready to publish the below piece so it was ready just in time and is right on topic!
The Explore More Summit is an online event hosted by Dawn Serra from April 23rd through May 3rd. The event provides several daily recorded chats discussing topics on sexuality, relationships, play, and boundaries. During one of the Explore More Summit talks by Kate Kenfeild I came across the new-to-me term “masterdating”. (That’s right – I didn’t misspell the title!) Kate is the creator of Tea & Empathy. This is a great place for those delving into their emotions. Kate has developed the Tea & Empathy cards – a set of cards with emotions and a corresponding description on each. I jotted down several great points that were shared during Kate’s talk – a super helpful potato metaphor, to make space to be messy with myself and my partner, and as mentioned – masterdating!
My interpretation of the term masterdating is making time to spend by yourself doing things you love. It could involve a meal out, a walk in a local park, or even exploring new hobbies. Truth be told I struggle to take myself out even for small things. I am anxious in public and usually find a bit of comfort in bringing my husband along. Doing things by myself would be a great way to start exploring more hobbies and hopefully to start decreasing my anxieties. I was able to identify some mini-masterdating that I have already worked into my life such as reading on the bench in the lobby at work during my lunch hour. I was proud when I realized I had become comfortable doing it! Preparing myself to start masterdating more often I had to examine why these things make me anxious and why they are also considered self-care.
Activities alone in public are uncomfortable for me because I am terrified of what others think about me. While in public alone my anxiety rises and I micro-analyze everything. My outfit makes me look fat, my hair and makeup aren’t nicely done, I look like a mess. I know I should remind myself that it doesn’t matter what others think of me. My anxiety just takes over – but I am learning.
I am learning that going out and doing things alone is an important part of self-care for me. Exercise, fresh air, and vitamin D are great benefits of getting out. Another great benefit is that through masterdating I am also teaching myself that my anxiety does not control me. I will be just fine and can even enjoy these activities. I have always considered masturbation part of self-care so I am always excited to see posts such as an Instagram post by Ayanna Imani discussing masturbation as self –care. There are other posts such as Viva La Sexy’s post titled Sexy Self-Care that show the diverse list of self-care activities they created after attending an awesome panel. Many of the items on their list are items I try to prioritize as self-care. I attended a similar session at Playground and I too have started challenging myself to find more time for sex and pleasure in my life. Taking care of other elements of self are also important and for me that is where masterdating comes in!
As a result I have challenged myself to meet a few masterdating goals! I was able to quickly identify 3 activities to work towards. Each of these activities is something that I have always wanted to be able to do alone but anxiety has prevented me from doing so. I spend every other weekend alone and several weeknights each week. This has allowed me to explore some more structured activities such as leading a local guide unit. Building more unstructured activities into my life is a great way to improve my mental health and include more pleasure in my life. The activities are of varying levels of discomfort for me and I am really excited to work on accomplishing the following:
The Afternoon Outing – I live by a beautiful lake front park with walking trails and plenty of spaces to relax. I have always stared out the window at those folks using the green space to unwind and enjoy themselves. The individuals reading a book in the grass at the park. The couple’s rollerblading, walking, or running side by side at the boardwalk. These are the people I look at and think – that would make my heart happy! I also enjoy reading in the fresh air. There two activities that could be a great masterdate! This first goal is comprised of 2 baby steps. The first being spending some time reading in my back yard alone and the second is going down to the lake front to read one afternoon.
A solo movie – Several people that I know have talked about going to see a movie alone and I was surprised at how relaxed they were about it. I didn’t grow up in a movie loving household but I married into a movie loving family. When we first started dating my husband and my mother in law were always purchasing the newest movies and were always watching a movie in the background of their daily activities. This was new to me and introduced me to enjoying watching movies alone. I fell in love with selecting the movie of my choice, curling up with a cozy blanket, and treating myself to some movie snacks. Going to an actual theatre on my own is a terrifying but exciting idea. I realized why it was terrifying once I visualize it a few times. Purchasing a pop and popcorn, settling in to my seat, and not having someone beside me to make comments to was how the events played out. I needed to rewrite the script in my head and eliminate the anxiety of being alone. I have been to a few movies with others lately and have started noticing the people that are there alone and visualizing myself as them. It has made me think that I could do it. Select a movie I am excited for, buy a drink and popcorn, and sit back and enjoy.
Dinner Alone – I have always envied the single person enjoying a drink at the bar or dinner at a restaurant. Dinner out is a treat in my house but providing it to myself as a treat hasn’t really crossed my mind. I often have noticed a single restaurant patron while out with others and it reassures me that it wouldn’t be that bad – and could be an awesome pick me up on a day when my mood is a bit low. Drive thru does not count towards this goal – it does need to be a location where I am served at my seat. I would love to hit up a little Italian place and treat myself to a few of my favourite treats.
Each of the three goals above may not be nerve racking to some of you – but they are to me. They are part of bettering my self-care habits and learning to love myself a bit more. I am hoping to complete all three goals by the end of the Summer 100. The beautiful weather is here so why not enjoy it?