Monday, April 29, 2013


Happy Single: Angie Ford

Zodiac Sign - Leo
Where were you born? I was born and raised in Panama City, Panama, and came to the USA on a full basketball scholarship. I played for and graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana.

I know that you travel a lot for you job.  What do you do for a living? I am a Sr. Program Manager. I started my career as a Software Engineer and now I am in management.  I have been at my company for 25 years and my job allows me to travel and live abroad. I have worked or lived in Chile, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, India, Thailand, and Japan.

That’s impressive. How are you able to work in so many countries?   I speak several languages - Spanish, English and Portuguese – which allow me to get project assignments in many different regions of the world. And, I am willing to travel. I enjoy seeing different places.

Your favorite country and why? Chile, because I have made great friends there and the work was a big milestone for me. I was able to meet important political people and I had an opportunity to visit many of the natural and beautiful places in this country.  I visited the Patagonia Region, saw and climbed the glaciers and had an experience of a lifetime.  I describe my experiences in my photo journal website listed below.  After you read it, you will see exactly why I LOVE Chile.

You are also an artist.  Yes, I am also the owner of Foto Magia Photography, LLC Studios, an in home photography studio.  I developed a passion for photography while in college, and I worked for my college yearbook.  My travels allow me to capture some great photos too, which I love sharing with family and friends. Taking pictures lets them feel my experiences and lets them see the blessings that my eyes have been able to see. I also document my travels in short journals, which I post on websites along with the photos.  For example: http:\\

What a wonderful hobby! I have seen some of your work and you are extremely gifted. Do you have other hobbies? I like to cycle, cook, play basketball and salsa dancing. I love being outdoors and enjoying nature.
Also I enjoy interior decorating, doing home improvements, as well as gardening. I love riding my Harley Davidson too. Reading is another pleasure that I do enjoy.  My favorite authors are Joel Osteen, John Grisham and Paulo Coelho.

Angie, you are a wonderful combination of beauty and brains.  If I asked 10 friends to describe you, what would they say and why? My friends would say that I am extremely giving because I am always thinking about the next person. I got that from my mom. She was always thinking about and helping the neighbors. She always made sure that everybody had food and what they needed. My friends have nicknamed me the “philanthropist” J.

I know we all desire a healthy relationship but what has being single taught you about yourself and about love?  I have learned that I need to be open and ready for anything to allow my destiny to fulfill itself. It has also taught me to be patient with myself and others .  I have learned that love should be easy and not forced. When love is to be, it will just flow.  Just like dancing with the right partner, no toes are stepped on and you just glide with the music and in synch. Although, you won't always agree while in love, you will know when to concede.

You mentioned destiny. What’s your destiny?  My destiny is to make sure that I see the world, to see everything that is natural and beautiful. Seeing the 7 Wonders of the World is on my bucket list –  I have 3 down, and I have 4 more go.

What do you love about being in relationship? I love having that sounding board to bounce things off of and I love sharing my experiences. I love sharing my family because I have an awesome family who loves me. I also love having my own family unit because family is everything for me.  I love kids and have gravitated towards people with children.  I love the holidays and being in a relationship during the holidays for me is the best feeling.

What do you find difficult? My traveling for work has made it difficult to be in a relationship.  It is hard to find someone willing to support my extended absences. My travel schedule is not fixed and I have to be flexible and available to hit the road at any moment when duty calls because all of my projects are abroad. Therefore, I need someone who can understand that and willing to accompany me whenever possible.  Seeing the world with a "special one" would be great too because there is a lot out there to see.  But, it requires that I have a solid relationship that is built on trust for it to work.

I understand. I travel weekly for work too. Many women say that they can handle the traveling, but about month 3 or 4 it gets hard. What type of women do you feel may best handle the demands of your job and your travel schedule?  I am looking for someone confident in who they are and what they want in a partnership.  Someone that is able and willing to communicate even when things are difficult.  A woman, who is open-minded, likes or wants to travel, family oriented, and loves the holidays. I want her to be loving and committed for the long run.

How are you or how have you prepared yourself emotionally, spiritually and physically for a partner? I have taken the time to analyze previous relationships and why they have ended, what worked and what didn’t.  I have also learned what I really want from a relationship and I have learned to compromise.  I have become a lot more patient with myself and others. After my last partnership ended, I decided to go to counseling to better understand me.  I also turned to God for guidance and read “Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. I started reading a lot more from Joel Osteen and establishing a strong connection with God.  A connection that has lead me daily and has allowed me to take one day at a time living in peace knowing that He has my back.

Over the years, how has dating changed for our community? With the introduction of social media and the internet, dating has become a game.  You can say it has its advantages and disadvantages because you can easily connect with a wide range of people in a matter of seconds (by creating a profile on a dating service) versus having to go somewhere physically to meet people. You can have conversations to discover each other, which is great.  But, at the same time, it can deceitful because people are not honest with the information they post.

So what’s your advice about dating via the internet? You just have to be mindful and careful while
dating. You have to put in the time and effort to really know someone and not just fall for physical appearances. Bottom line, be selective and know what your deal-breakers are and don't settle for less than you deserve.

What are your deal breakers? Infidelity is my deal breaker.  I don’t understand the reason why people are unfaithful.  If you are no longer interested in the relationship, you should be able to communicate about it and make decisions to part.  Don’t part emotionally prior to doing it physically because being unfaithful leaves others with so many questions. Questions that most likely are never really answered, and that is not fair.  I can openly say that I have never been unfaithful to anyone.  I know when to say it is not working for me anymore, and then work out a transition regardless of how difficult it may be for both.  Treating someone who I claim to love and respect is a must until the end.

What did you have to “give up” to be in relationship? Some friendships, because they weren't understanding that my priorities had changed, and that I was evolving and forming a family unit. When children are involved, my time is very limited, especially, with my travel schedule.  When I was home, it was all about my partner and my family, and all the hanging out took a back seat. Eventually, those folks recognized what I was doing and we were able to reconnect.  But, in a different way, which is good too!

What do you believe you have to give up or be willing to compromise to be in a relationship now?  I would have to give up always being the “decision-maker” and allow the other person to take the lead.  This is something that I am well aware of and willing to do.

How important is spirituality? Spirituality is the foundation of a great relationship. Having a relationship with God is very important to me.  It is not about denomination, but about believing in a higher being.  I grew up Catholic and my mother is a die-hard Catholic, as well as my sisters.  I have opted for a Christian church with a strong bible base.  I also love Joel Osteen and would love to visit his church in Houston (that is on my bucket list). I start my day reading Joel's daily prayer and my daily devotional "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young.  This sets the tone for my day.

You do a lot for the community work. How did you start Screen on the Green and how did you get involved with DOWAP? I try to be in tuned with my community, no matter where I live.  I strongly believe in giving back because someone gave to me for me to get to where I am today.  Therefore, I created DOWAP (Dining Out With A Purpose), a dining club that meets bi-monthly. We dine together and the restaurant gives 20% of what is spent to the charity organization assigned for that month.  Thus far, every event has been successful and we continue to grow.  We have a Facebook page, T-Shirts and a solid following.  I would like to see this grow into a national initiative because it is an effortless way to give back to the community.  We already go out to eat, so why not do it with a purpose?

 Also on my 40th birthday I decided to give back to my family and friends by having a movie under the stars in the backyard.  It was such a fun event that I have continued to do it every Spring for the past six years.  All you have to do is bring a lawn chair, snack and something to drink.  I also try to promote independent films during the Screen On The Green season.  It is also a great way for us to stay connected, as friends and family.

What do you most admire about yourself and why? I admire my quick thinking ability because it keeps me going to the next challenge, and I love a challenge.  I am very expressive and have no problems showing my emotions. I love that about myself because you know exactly what you get with me. I love my smile because I know it is contagious and there’s nothing better than making someone else smile with you. I also love the fact that I am a good teacher. I love sharing information with others and providing training (part of my professional responsibilities) because the moment you can clearly see that the knowledge transfer is working is very fulfilling.

What words best describes you and why? “Thoughtful” is the one word that I think describes me.  I always thinking about someone else and how to support or help them.  I get that from my parents.  They were both always taking care of other people and supporting them. Another word would be “Smart”. I think outside the box and I am a problem solver by nature.  I thank my Mom for helping me develop my analytical skills by buying me a set of Legos when they first came out.  I would spend hours building things, measuring, connecting wires (getting shocked too) to come up with a creation. 

Angie Ford (Interview conducted by SharRon Jamison)

Thank you for sharing your happiness with us at Create Love for Women Who Love Women!  We wish you continued to success in your journey to Create Love.

Imani Evans and SharRon Jamison ~ Create Love Founders

Friday, April 26, 2013

For the Love of Money

Money, Money, Money, Money. If you ask couples what topics are the hardest to discuss, and the hardest to resolve, I am sure that the topic of money will top the list. No question about it –talking about money is often times a difficult conversation. In fact, the more couples argue over finances, the higher the likelihood of divorce /and separation. Not good news! It is sad to say but fighting over money can destroy and derail your relationship.

Even though we can’t discuss all of the reasons why money conversations are problematic, I want to offer a few tips that I hope will help you reflect on your own relationship with money. And after your personal  reflection, I hope you and partner take time to uncover the cause of your own money disagreements because managing money is necessary, but fighting over money isn’t.

Tip #1: Make sure your dollars make sense.  In other words, make sure you know what you are really fighting about because money discussions are seldom about dollars and cents. If they were, money conversations would be more financial, rational, and mathematical talks, and not the heated emotional exchanges that rip relationships apart.

So how do you make sure that your dollars make sense? First, be willing to talk about money before, during and after you commit to a relationship, and accept that money conversations are a necessary part of sharing your life and sharing  your love. I would even recommend having a bi-monthly or monthly discussion about household finances.  Because even though it does not sound romantic, being in a relationship requires business skills. It requires financial coordination, communication, commitment and care.

So how do you get started? Outline the household  expenses and decide how and who will pay what bills, and/or  decide who will pay what % of household bills. If it works best for you to share an account, share. If it doesn’t,   don’t.  Make sure whatever arrangement you have is fair and equitable.  And most of all, be sure that the financial agreement works for both of you. After you agree to a course of action, there should be NO changes unless you both come back to the table and discuss and plan for the change. Why?  Unilateral changes are not fair , and most of all, they chip away at trust.

It also make senses that the partner who is better at handling and managing money, accept a bigger role in handling the joint finances. Don’t get upset, it just makes sense. Just think about it- If you have trouble balancing your own checkbook and your wife is a CPA, why shouldn’t she handle the money?  Remember whoever is better at something should be responsible for it. That rule not only applies to money, but it applies to all functions in a relationship. Why? Because capitalizing on each other’s strengths and covering each other’s weaknesses  is a sign of a healthy relationship; it is a sign of a true partnership. But if that does not work for you, I would at least recommend  writing a list of financial tasks and allocate them between the two of you based on your expertise, experience and your desire.

In summary, both partners should be informed about the household expenses and both partners should be involved, even if they are involved differently.  Both should have a say and a role in decisions about expenditures and large purchases. Both parties should have information about shared accounts, passwords and pins. And information about private accounts should be written down somewhere. That way if something happens to one partner, the other is not left in the dark about financial matters.

Tip 2: Make sure you don’t equate money with power. Make no mistake about it, some money arguments are about power and control. And even though people won’t admit it, many of us believe and subscribe to the Golden Rule: Whoever has or makes the most gold, rules.  I hate to admit it but when I was in my twenties, I bought into that concept. I thought that since I made the most money I got to dictate how many was spent. Wrong!!  I was wrong and unfortunately many other couples are wrong too.

So just to set the record straight -money should never be used to control, manipulate or force a partner to do anything. Why? It breeds resentment, mistrust, frustration and jealously. And if you are using money to dominate your partner, don’t mistake her temporary compliance for acceptance. Honestly, you better watch you back because nothing taints a relationship more than manipulation and domination. And eventually, your partner will grow weary of being controlled and leave you and your money behind.

Tip 3: Make sure what you value is really valuable. What’s valuable? Trust is valuable and every time you fail to adhere to an agreed upon budget, you are chipping away at your partner’s trust.  Trust me, financial fidelity is just as important as sexual and emotional fidelity. And if your partner can’t trust you to properly manage money, or to go to the mall without buying 10 pairs of shoes, or to have a credit card without it burning a hole in your hand, or to stick to a budget, your relationship is in trouble. And lying about purchases  is just as deadly too. Because even if your partner does not immediately see the purchase, when they find out that you did not honor your word, trust may be irrevocable broken. As my grandmother use to say, trust takes a long time to earn and little time to lose. So, is the purchase really worth it?

Not only is trust valuable, respect is also valuable.  And trust and respect usually go hand in hand. But here is a dose of reality - partners usually don’t meet at exactly the same financial time in their lives.  Honestly, it is rare that partners earn the same amount money, have the same  amount in savings, have the same amount in debt, or have the same amount  of financial savvy.  Most couples just don’t so there is bound to be some financial inequality. And even if we don’t want to admit it, if not handled and discussed effectively and empathetically, financial inequality can result in resentment, jealously, anger and disrespect. Why? Because nobody wants to feel as if they are in a lopsided or one-sided financial relationship.

But here is something to consider. If you are in a relationship for the long run, then who makes the most money is essentially irrelevant as long as one partner does not expect  the other to assume responsibility for the debt they brought into the relationship. Yes, you can help eliminate each other’s debt, but it should never be expected that you will assume responsibility for it. Keep in mind that you are agreeing to a relationship, not a personal bail-out.

But it also important to consider this - Maybe one partner earns more money, but the other likely adds value in non-monetary ways.  And after counseling many couples, I have found that is usually the case. So here is an exercise that can help. List everything you both do to make sure that the household functions effectively and efficiently, and then review your list. I am sure you will see that you both contribute equally, but differently. If there is a great disparity in income and in household workload, I predict that there are additional issues in the relationship that are preventing reciprocity.

Tip 4: Money does not make you. Money does not make you happy ,sad, smart, funny, or anything else. You are who you are. Money gives you 2 things: options and access. It give you options to purchase homes, education, clothes, travel, etc. It also gives you access to services, events and people that you never had before. But money is not you; it is a means of exchange, a way to transact business, and a system of measurement. But it is not you.

Unfortunately, some people base their self-worth on their net worth. And when their money is gone, they no longer feel valuable, useful and significant. Others use money as a way bolster their low self-esteem or as an
entrĂ©e’ into a new social class. But if money defines you, you are headed for heartache because money does not have emotional or spiritual transforming power. And if you only like someone or stay in an unfulfilling relationship because of money, you are robbing yourself of an opportunity to experience true love with someone else. I know that you have heard this before… can’t buy you love. It may buy you temporary physical comfort, but the heart and spirit will not be deceived.

So if you are financially well off, great. Celebrate that. But if you are depending on your financial portfolio to compensate for something you lack emotionally and spiritually, you will be disappointed. And if you are depending on your money to attract a mate, watch out. If you use your money as bait you will only attract gold diggers, opportunists,  parasites and users. And none of those personality types are partnership material. We all need money, but money alone will not  make you or solidify your relationship. So remember what money is- a means for exchange. It is something to spend, save and share.

 Tip 5: Money does not equal love. Receiving expensive gifts can feel like love but it is not. Even if your Love Language is receiving gifts, using money as the sole indicator of someone’s love sets you and them up for failure. Why? Because what happens when the money is gone? Do you stop loving? The adage is true….the best gifs in life are free. Gifts like listening, hugging, sharing, patience, understanding, helping, affirming, and the list goes on. Don’t get me wrong, gifts are wonderful. I love receiving gifts myself.  But what many people remember most is not the gift, it is how the gifts made them feel. 

 I realize that some people were raised in families where expensive presents were a sign of love, affection, and care. I realize that we all like gifts because gifts let us know that someone is thinking about us. I get that. But regardless of how we were raised, it is important to remember that money is a tool that can be used to express love. But, Money IS NOT love.

Are most money discussions hard?  Yes, but they don’t have to be if approached with honesty, openness and clarity. So before, during and after committing to your partner, talk about money. Talk about how you handle money, your goals with money, how you spend money, how you invest money, how you share money, how you donate money, how you value money. Talk and keep talking. We all need to handle money, but just be sure that money is not handling you.

Blessing as you continue to CREATE Love!

SharRon Jamison
Author of I Can Depend on Me

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Partners: Miya Binta and Alexandria Childs

How long have you been together? 
Miya: Alex and I are celebrating our fifth year together.

 How did you get together/meet?
Miya: We met courtesy of a mutual friend. We talked uninterrupted that evening for a couple of hours; scheduled a date for the next day and have been a couple ever since.
We give thanks to Spirit first and foremost, and to Shaman High Priestess Cherie Lyon for having the insight to introduce us at the most opportune time.

What was revealed during the conversation that validated that she was “relationship material”? What did she say or what didn’t she say? Alex: It wasn’t anything she said it was her personality and beautiful smile. I could feel the love and kindness coming from inside of her. I knew then she was the right one for me. There was no way she was going to leave that evening without my phone number. I also knew I wanted to be with her for the rest of my life. She was exactly what I wanted. It was like Spirit was saying “I’m giving you exactly what you want, love her and make her life easier”. And that’s what I try to do every day. Miya: Our romance story is so symbolic. When I meet her in 2008 it was post-“The Secret”. I created my perfect mate list of 27 characteristics that I wanted in a partner and Alex met 26 items all the way down to her socks. She was the manifestation of the list. I dreamed about her – how she looked, how she smelled. When I hugged her, my head fit perfectly on her shoulder. I knew she was the one.

Since you did not have a history or lengthy courtship before living together, how did you learn each other and learn how to live with each other? Alex: You have to really know yourself – strengths and weaknesses- and accept them. There were a lot of things that I had to learn about Miya, and there were a lot of things that Miya had to learn about me. We had to learn to live together. In our relationship, we don’t have roles. Whoever can get it done, does it. We don’t let pride get in the way. I am grateful for Miya.  I learned that she is a grown woman who knows how to use a hammer and nail and get her nails done. Miya: Alex is definitely a keeper. When she first came to my home, she said that the energy feels great; it was peaceful and she knew that she could live here.  So for us it was two things:  1) We decided we were willing to do the work required to blend two households and 2) we were open to Spirit to guide and change us. Of course it took some work, but we learned to share space and to share it peacefully.

What was the initial attraction?
Alex : I was initially attracted to Miya’s intellect, stature, her luscious lips and my ability to wrap my arms
around her. It was amazing that we read many of the same books and enjoyed similar entertainment. Miya: I was absolutely delighted that I had finally attracted a 6 foot tall woman who was proportionate in height and weight. I found Alex to be direct, yet not overbearing. Neither of us are voracious talkers, but we found common ground to make the initial connection.
Since you both are not big talkers, what other ways have you learned to communicate effectively? Alex: I am a touchy-feelly person. I am always caressing, hugging and touching Miya. I love touching her. So we do talk, but we are ok not talking. We are ok just being together sometimes in separate rooms.  Miya: We do talk, but there is a lot of non-verbal communication. Sometimes I wink at her, rub her head, and hit her on the butt. We sometimes send texts even when we are in the same house. We know each other very well so we know when we need to talk about something. It is an intuitive thing.

What would you say is the key to the success of your relationship?
Alex: The key to our relationship is really communication and conscious listening to each other.  We have a mutual respect for one another and a fantastic sense of humor. We laugh often at ourselves, and at each other. Miya: One key question or mantra in our relationship is “do you want to be happy or do you want to be right?” That simple question often reframes the entire conversation or would be disagreement. Alex: At the end of the day, we love each other and each is willing to do the work necessary to keep the relationship healthy. Miya: We have agreed to reevaluate our relationship each year to ensure that it is working well for each of us.

Hearing is an ability, but listening is a skill. How do you ensure that you are both “consciously listening” to each other? AlexWhen we started, I wasn’t a skilled listener. I wanted her to talk faster and hurry up so we could move on. Miya is not like that. Things have to resonate with her and I can’t rush her to resolution. It took therapy for me to learn to listen to her consciously. Miya: I had to train Alex to listen to me. I had to get her tuned in and focused on channel Miya. I had to also help her settle down so she would not drift off during our conversations. But Alex was willing. She was open and willing to get in therapy and work on it.

During your annual review when topics surface, how do you address them?
Miya:  We will say “this is something that bothered us last year”. We re-valuate whether prior solutions are
still working. People stay in relationships for the sake of convenience, not for love or commitment. We decided that we are not doing that. So we re-evaluate our course of action to determine if we want to “renew our contract” with each other. Alex: During our contract renewal we also ask ‘”Are you getting what you need?”

Discuss how you deal with and face challenges that might come up in your relationship? Miya: It depends entirely on what the challenge is. There are several ways that we deal with each unique situation.  In some instances, we can talk it out straight away.  At other times, the topic might be so volatile that one of us requests a timeout and we walk away to regain our perspective.  When a situation arises that we don’t know how to handle, we pray and ask for direction and guidance.

Conflict is tricky and many times Imani and I work with clients only to discover that the real conflict has never been identified and addressed. How do you ensure that the real issue is the real issue? Miya: It is intuitive. We depend a lot on Spirit. I can look at her and tell when she’s bothered and sometimes I have to press her. We have enough maturity and intuition that we don’ accept the BS answers. To peel back the layers: 1) Be intentional by asking poignant questions 2) Use a direct approach to address issues. Alex: It also takes trust. When you are pulling back layers, there needs to be trust when there is pain and emotions involved. I have to know that I can say “you hurt my feelings” and know that Miya will listen. She does and I know that I can always confide in her. She has never thrown anything up in my face. I feel I can tell her anything.

What role does spirituality play in your relationship? Miya:  Spiritually plays a major role. Alex and I pray together. We attend the same church (Shout out to Victory for the World Church St. Mountain, GA) and both embrace the same spiritual principles. We maintain a very simple, holistic life recognizing that God is at the center directing and orchestrating our daily steps.

What role does sensuality play in your relationship?
Miya: We both appreciate the gift of touch and a sense of closeness. During one of our chats, I shared with Alex “we’re always touching and close” and she responded “yes, because I’m always touching you”. That was a huge revelation that she needed me to be more intentionally reciprocal.  Alex: As an artist, I am very visual and I compliment Miya on a regular basis with respect to her appearance, attire, hair, etc. These compliments create an atmosphere of sensuality and intimacy that we both thrive on.

Miya, I loved that you said you had a huge revelation about touching. How far in the relationship did you understand her need for physical closeness? Miya: Mid-way in our relationship. Alex is like an octopus; she is always touching. I am not as emotive, but I had to learn that. I have to remind myself to be more reciprocal.

What advice would you give to other couples?  Alex: Mind your own business and keep others out of your relationship.  You don’t need “advice” from well- meaning friends. If you need counsel, invest in a professional counselor.  Miya: Keep the romance alive. Never take your partner for granted. Schedule dates as frequent as your schedule permits. It doesn’t have to be a whirlwind weekend in New York. It can be as simple as packing a basket and going to the local park. Make time for each other.

What has your relationship taught you most about yourself?
Alex: I have learned the importance of listening and remaining present.  I have also  grown to a place of feeling safe to trust my emotional self to Miya. 
Miya: I share much of the same sentiments. Because Alex is my friend and confidante, I have grown in my freedom to share intimate details of my past life with her. I have allowed myself to be vulnerable in this relationship with little reservation.

What do you most admire about her and why? Complete this sentence. I admire her because ___ and it makes me feel __________________________.
Alex: She is a great steward of her money. She is very frugal, a coupon clipper. She is not a frivolous spender….  Makes me feel safe. I know that I can trust her with our money. I feel I can trust her with my life. Even if we were not together, I would still trust her with my life. She has my back. Miya: She is the consummate professional. She’s so talented. I admire the perfectionism that she exhibits in her craft….Makes me feel proud. She does great work. She’s fair and honest. She is so good at what she does. I feel so confidant in her abilities.
If you had to say thank you to her for 1 important gift, what would that be? Alex: I would thank her for loving me because she doesn’t have to. She loves me because she wants to and I am grateful for that. Miya: I would thank her for her spiritual awareness. I am grateful that she prays for me and that she spiritually covers me. That she has me in her heart. I have had women love me, but never one to pray for me and lay hands on me. That’s huge.

What one word describes/characterize your relationship? Miya: Expansive. We are at a time in our life when it is all about us. And we are both so open and our relationship can go wherever it takes us. We are open to Spirit. We are ever-evolving. Alex: Easy. Miya feels like a breath of fresh air, like a nice breeze on a summer day.

(Interviewed by SharRon Jamison)

Thank you, Miya and Alexandria for sharing your love with us at Create Love.  We wish you many, many more years of happiness and success.

Friday, April 19, 2013

SEXLESS LOVE: Dealing with Lesbian Bed Death

Not getting any tonight, or last night for that matter? Unfortunately you are not alone. A few weeks ago I wrote an article entitled, The Art of Lesbian Sex, in which I referred to the oh-so-dreaded lesbian bed death phenomenon. Far too many of us have faced this issue at one point or another. But not enough of us are talking about it. I am not sure what the silence is about, except that there is still so much shame around sex among women in our American culture. The irony is that we have a dichotomous approach to our shame; Sex sells everything from cars to shaving cream, but God forbid we actually talk about real sexual health... Really?! Okay maybe that’s a soapbox for another article. As for lesbian dead bed, it is a real thing. When I talk to women privately I usually get one or all three questions: What is LESBIAN BED DEATH? Why does it happen? What is the solution? So let’s take a look at all three here.

First, make no mistake, lesbian bed death is a real issue identified by a sociologist named Pepper Schwartz. She coined the term in her 1983 book, American couples. Schwartz purported that lesbians have less sex than any other type of couples, including gay men. So we know it is not a “gay thing”, but something certainly happens when two women come together. According to Schwartz, the longer lesbians are together the less sexual intimacy they seem to have.

I have worked with couples who have gone months and even years without sex. I worked with a couple many years ago that had gone three years without sex (they had been together for 10 years at that time). However they had a very close emotional connection and even romance. But when it came to sex they simply parted ways, slept in separate bedrooms, and bid each other good night with a sweet peck on the lips every night. When they came to see me there weren’t experiencing any turmoil, but they wanted to revive their sex life. This brings me to the next frequently asked question – why?

I think the answer is as complex and unique as the diverse spectrum of couples experiencing this dilemma. Sometimes it is a combination of different issues and sometimes it is simply a bad habit. Nevertheless, let’s explore the possibilities:
1. HABIT-Perpetuating a bad habit or pattern was the case with the couple I
referenced earlier in this article. Sometimes we can behave our way into a bad habit. Life happens while you are not paying attention, such as work gets busy, a family crisis arises, new projects happen, etc.  And one little interruption to a regular sex life can easily get you stuck in a sexless pattern. One week goes by, two weeks, and then it just seems like an inconvenience to stay up late enough or get up early enough to make “it” happen. 
2. AGING-As you get older, obviously, your body will change. You may have new ailments, a new body size, or other things that alter the way you hold, recognize and/or use your body. Sometimes these things can get in the way of comfort and sexual desire. Then there are the affects of menopause – oh the joy! While I like to think of menopause as a natural transition into our feminine wisdom it certainly carries with it some very frustrating realities for some women, including a decreased libido. 
3. SEXUAL INCOMPATIBILITY-- What a curse to fall deeply in love with someone with whom you have no sexual chemistry. You can’t imagine spending your life without her only to discover you are simply not compatible in bed. I can hear some of you saying, “if I’m not sexually compatible with her I would not be in a relationship with her”.  Well that may be true for some of you but there are others who filter relationship compatibility through a different lens. Or maybe the incompatibility is more that your sweetie wants to swing from the chandeliers while wearing a lace corset, but you would be satisfied by pulling up the covers, turning out the light and making love from the June Cleaver handbook. There’s nothing wrong with either of those. The issue is finding someone with your same proclivity. 
Then there is the incompatibility of someone who won’t listen to your needs. You’ve told her time and time again, “don’t do that”, “do more of this”, but she wants to do only what is in her tried and true lesbian playbook-- regardless of your desires. Yikes, who wants to do any of that? Instead you just settle for a good snuggle with the woman who has 13 of the 14 things you asked the Divine Intelligence/God to send you. Whatever the incompatibility you may have found yourself stuck in a sexless pattern. The good news is that there is a way out.
Luckily, I truly believe there is a solution to every challenge. Here are a few tips for recovering from lesbian bed death and restoring your sexual relationship:

Self-awareness and self care-- It is true that the more in-touch with your body you are, the more sexual you will feel. Getting regular checkups and practicing good self-care is an excellent solution for anybody. And there is nothing sexier than a woman who loves herself enough to nurture her body, mind and soul. So make a checkup for your annual physical and become an active participant in your healthcare. Make sure there is no physical or physiological reason for your depleted sex drive.

If you are adjusting to new changes in your body discuss them with your partner. You may need to do things differently, or make adjustments. Don’t let insecurity, shame, or vulnerability keep you from the intimacy you crave. To the contrary, sharing them will deepen your connection and give your partner an opportunity to honor you.

Incompatibility is no reason to stop having sex. This simply means that in the absence of a natural sexual chemistry you will have to both become the student and the teacher for your lover. There are great books, videos and resources to get you open to the idea. Not every woman likes the same thing and there is no one size fits all approach. Be open to trying new things to satisfy your mate.

Be intentional. Make date night a regular priority in your relationship. However, if you have not been sexually engaged with your partner for a while now is not the time to go in like a kid with a new toy. You may need to move a little slower than usual. Start with simply touching and no expectation of sex for the first night. (REMEMBER: Touching releases the pleasure hormone, oxytocin.) Then the next night you may want to take it a step further. Try reading an erotic story together and talking about the parts that turn you on. On night three you might consider progressing to the next step. There are no rules. Do what makes you both comfortable and, more importantly, whatever works!

Finally, deal with any emotional baggage in your relationship.  Don’t let the fear of confrontation, resentment, or hurt feelings derail your sex life.  Whatever you refuse to deal with will, in fact, deal with YOU.  Couples counseling is not a sign of weakness.  It is a sign of a joint commitment to save, support and nurture your relationship.  HELP is not a dirty word.

Lesbian bed death is very serious and, for many women, a very painful experience to have in a relationship. If you are grappling with this issue there is nothing to be ashamed of. Seek out resources, counseling and support. You deserve to have a healthy, quality sex life as part of your relationship. I wish you great success as you embark on this journey to CREATE LOVE.
Nya Akoma! (Take Heart)
Imani Evans, MA
PHONE: 404.944.6409

Monday, April 15, 2013

HAPPY COUPLE HIGHLIGHT: Juanita and Stephanie

Juanita Davis and Stephanie “TY” Williams

How long have you been together?  2 years 5 months

How did you get together/meet? Juanita: I was actually dating someone when I was first introduced to
Stephanie about 13-15 years ago.  I said hello and kept it moving.  One day I was on a mutual friend’s (FB ) page and she looked familiar so I friended her.  I sometimes would leave her comments on a post.  Then one day (6 months after I friended her) she sent me a “private” message and the subject said “curious”.   From that day on, we have been together. She was transitioning from El Paso, Texas, back to Michigan so we would oovoo, text, call and finally we just needed to meet.  She came to visit for a weekend, it was heaven.  She came back the next month…heaven again….by the 3rd visit…I didn’t want her to leave and she didn’t. Stephanie: My Baby and I met about 15 years ago at a club.  We were both with someone at the time.  About three years ago she found me on Facebook and she requested me as a friend.

What was the initial attraction? Juanita: Her conversation….it was open and natural.  She wasn’t just saying things she thought I wanted to hear.  She told me things that probably would have made someone else run- like being in open relationships, being broken and needed to work on her. Oh, and she was beautiful! Stephanie: When she requested me as a friend,of course, I went to check her out.  I looked at her photos and found myself visiting them often.  What was attractive to me (and still is) was that she was (and still is) a voluptuous woman - confident and beautiful - and that is very sexy to me.  I did not comment on her photos because so many others did and I did not want to be just another one in the bunch  So I sent her a private message entitled “Just Curious”.   We messaged each other for hours.  It was so easy to talk to her and I felt at ease.  It was like she was embracing me and my past experiences with love and understanding.

Your relationship is still relatively new. What spiritual or emotional preparation did you do to get ready for love?  Stephanie: I never got a chance to do any preparation. I just got out of a relationship and I wasn’t looking for another one. I just wanted to get me together. What really reeled me in was our conversations on FB. Communicating with her felt good to me. I felt comforted by her. Juanita: I had been single for over 2 years and I was preparing myself to be in a relationship. I was working on me. I asked and prayed to God for some specifics, and I basically got what I asked for. I believe that I had to go through what I went through in my past relationships to prepare for Ty.

What would you say is the key to the success of your relationship? Juanita: It’s real!  We don’t
pretend to be this perfect couple; we are US 24/7.  Relationships are hard and we have some really good times and we have some really bad times.  We argue, we cry, we laugh, we get on each other’s nerves but we RESPECT and we LOVE each other unconditionally.  When we decided to be together we said if we don’t go in “for the lifetime” then let’s not.  Neither one of us is looking for greener grass just because we hit some rough patches.  Splitting up is not an option for us, so whatever we go through we come together, discuss it and work it out. Stephanie: Honesty, Understanding, Acceptance, Patience, Laughter, a little silliness & GOD.

Many couples struggle with acceptance. How did you accept her vs. wanting to change her? Stephanie:  Two things: Opening up completely and practicing compassion. She had been through a lot. Because of my growth and experience, I am able to understand and allow her to be who she is. Compassion because she had gone through some hard things with her family and friends. I am 52 years old, and I have been here longer so I understand that she has to go through what she needs to go through and I accept that. Juanita: If I want her to accept me, I had to accept her. It’s basically growth. You get to the point when you want to be with someone and you have to allow them to be who they are.

What is different about this relationship compared to your previous ones? Stephanie:  In my other relationships, I never gave all of me. I reserved some of me for my own safety. To even make the decision to give all of me was “God-sent”. Being vulnerable made us stronger, and we learned from each other. We feel like we have been together for 10 years because of what we have been through.  Juanita: Not to take away from any of my past relationships because I did love them, but Stephanie is the first one I wanted to marry.

Discuss how you deal with and face challenges that might come up in your relationship? Juanita: I’m a nip-it –in-the-bud person.  When something is bothering me, I confront it and get it out the way because if it marinates too long, you have one unhappy wife and that’s not a good look,  Depending on what the situation is, I sometimes need some alone time to let my anger die down. Then we can re-visit the conversation and resolve it, or agree to disagree and move on. Stephanie: We try not to let anything linger; we deal with it right away.  We say what is on our mind and go from there.

How do you resolve conflict? Juanita: We don’t have problems communicating.
When we argue, we argue. Sometimes I scream, but we always come back to the conversation. Ty initially had problems with that. . Stephanie: Juanita holds nothing back. She’s right – I had to get to that point. I don’t want it to be like 2 rams locking horns so she wins most of the disagreements. Lol. She has no filter; she has no problem letting me know what’s going on.

What Relationship Rules or rules of engagement support your relationship: Juanita: Always kiss me good night and never go to bed angry. We are human so we may be still mad, but we will kissJ. Stephanie: My baby is strong-willed so I will be the one who gives in. So when she is going through it, I have to give her space. I don’t always follow that rule because I don’t want her to be mad at me, but I tryJJuanita: Breaking up is NOT an option; whatever we are going through, we fix it. Stephanie: I had to get her to understand that we are still new and that we are going through a learning curve. We are still learning each other so whatever we go through, it is not bad at all. It’s ok.

What role does spirituality play in your relationship? Juanita: Well, we have bedside church with Joel Osteen.  We have not found a church to physically go to but  we both have our relationship with GOD. We just haven’t found a church that feels good to us.  Definitely our faith plays a big part in this relationship and we feel this is definitely a match made in Heaven.  We have been in Atlanta at the same time, have the same friends but not once ran into each other after that initial meeting.  I think he was preparing me for her and vice versa. Stephanie: Spirituality is the reason we know we belong together so it plays a huge role in our relationship.  GOD definitely sent her to me because I vowed not to be in another relationship and just work on me.  It’s funny how your mind feels like it knows, but often enough, our hearts make the final decision.

What role does sensuality play in your relationship? StephanieIt definitely plays a role because when I watch her or look at her it still makes me smile because she is very sensual and sexy.  When she looks back at me with those eyes, I blush.  When I catch
her looking at me it’s so seductive.  I often act like I don’t see her looking - such a turn on” J Juanita: We love to have sex but we don’t need to do it every single day.   For me, it’s the way she looks at me, a subtle touch, cuddling, watching TV or doing nothing together.  Just being around her arouses all my senses. I still feel that same way about her as I did when I first got with that song goes…”When I first saw you, I said Oh MY…that’s my wife…..

What do you do daily to remind her of your love? Juanita: I just don’t tell her because actions speak louder than words. We text, sex text, leave notes around the house and in the car, etc. I am a touchy-feely person so we are always touching. Stephanie: We are different. I like to hear it, she likes to show it and that was difficult at first.  Initially she would send me a song to tell me something.  I love to buy her flowers and make my own arrangements.  Juanita: We show each other by both carrying the load in the relationship and in our home.
What do you most admire about her? Stephanie: She’s very strong and strong-willed and that is what I need. A strong woman makes me better. There have been times when I used someone as a crutch, but she calls me out on it. She pushes me to do things myself. She makes me better. Juanita: I admire so much about her. She has been through so much but she has never given up on love.

What advice would you give to other couples? Juanita: Honesty, Honesty, Honesty and
communication.  If those two attributes are not your foundation, the relationship will not last.  There should be nothing you can’t get through together (except infidelity) if you really truly love each other.  Don’t sweat the small stuff….it’s never big things that tear a relationship up, it’s the small things…deal with them and move on back to the love. Stephanie: Pray. Ask GOD about what to do and ask for direction. And if you feel she is GOD-sent, never, ever give up.  Never give away your gifts from GOD.  Juanita is my Gift. Juanita: Keep folks out of your business. We don’t share negativity with anyone. Why expose people to what is bad? People will choose comments and choose sides so we keep our business private. We share good times, but never bad.

What did you learn about her that was healing: Stephanie: That she was supportive, no matter what was going on and even if she was mad at me, I knew that she had me and we had each other. JuanitaShe is the first person that I have ever wanted to marry, and I knew that within two weeks of meeting her. She is my soul mate.

Define soul mate: Juanita: I cannot explain it, but it’s something that I feel in the pit of my stomach. She was the person I knew I wanted to spend my life with. Stephanie: My friend, my lover, my companion, someone I can be completely be free to be me with-and that is her.

What has your relationship taught you most about yourself?  Juanita: That it isn’t always about me, my feelings and what I want to do.  I had been single for a while and very much independent.  I had to learn how to “fit” her into my life.  I have a life partner and it’s ok to ask for help. I don’t always have to be the strong one (but I am still the PrincessJ). Stephanie: I was not going to get into another relationship; I wanted to work on me.  But, if you think you want to better yourself, you cannot do it alone.  Without her, I could not see me.  We have opened each other’s eyes and embraced our flaws with love, patience and understanding.

What one word describes your love/relationship? Juanita: Puzzle. We have a lot of pieces –good and bad– but we fit together perfectly. Stephanie: Tenacity. We keep evolving. We have gone through a lot with each other in a short amount of time. That usually would discourage her, but I told her that it is ok. Because when we get through this, we will learn each other and have the perfect relationship. We are still growing, building, and learning which will keep us together forever.

(Interview conducted by SharRon Jamison)

Many thanks to you Stephanie and Juanita for sharing your love with us at Create Love.  We wish you continued success as you Create Love in your lives.

Imani Evans
SharRon Jamison
Create Love Co-Founders

Saturday, April 13, 2013

I know you ain’t talking to me like that!

“I know you ain’t talking to me like that!” I don’t know about you but I have
thought or said those words many times when people have spoken to me in ways that I felt were unacceptable or inappropriate. When people have spoken to me in condescending tones or in a patronizing manner, I immediately address their rudeness tactfully, or at least I attempt to. There is something about disrespect and disrespectful communication that shake me at my core. Honestly, it makes my blood boil, and I always feel the need to address it immediately and emphatically, yet diplomatically. As a personal commitment to myself, I always speak up.

Dealing with rude people who I really don’t know or don’t have a relationship with is difficult enough. But interacting with people who speak to me in degrading, offensive and patronizing ways who also claim to love and respect me is extremely problematic; it is downright painful.  Listening to a person who claims to love me speak to me in a demeaning way makes me feel a whole range of emotions, and none of the emotions are positive.  And even though there are many psychological and communication theories that explain the impact of tough tones and rough words, I am convinced that my son expressed it best when he was just 4 years old. He said, “Mommy, when you yell at me like that it hurts me in my ears and it hurts me in my heart”.

 Wow! The comment stopped me in my tracks and made me realize how careless communication damages the spirit and sometimes causes irrevocable damage in a relationship. Like my son so eloquently expressed, hurtful words and hurtful tones linger in the heart and can reverberate in your ears for weeks, and sometimes months.  And the sad part is that you can never recall the words or delete the encounter etched in the minds of your loved ones. You can’t un-ring the proverbial bell.

So I want to offer a few tips that may help you when/if your boo has a temporary and infrequent
communication lapse. In other words, when she has a melt-down and has a bout of temporary insanity and speaks to you in a disparaging way. And I want to emphasize two words: temporary and infrequent. If you and your partner have frequent communication lapses (yelling, biting comments, condescending tones, insults, etc.) or consistently communicate with each other in disrespectful ways, that is indicative of a larger problem.

Tip #1: Recognize that people who feel or have been wounded often yell the loudest and the most. People who don’t feel acknowledged, cared for, appreciated and protected (overall or in the moment) often respond in ways that are totally disproportionate to the situation. Their over-the-top responses and comments are not at all about you. Their responses are usually about their own emotional triggers that have been activated by something or someone. And, many times they are usually not emotionally aware that the have been triggered; they don’t know what’s going on until it too late. They are just responding and reacting without thinking/ considering the impact of their words or considering the origin of their discontent. They are just lashing out.

Tip #2: Recognize that people who feel or have felt powerless may respond aggressively to perceived slights. It is a known fact that people tend to be hyper-sensitive and over-react when they feel vulnerable, weak, helpless and hopeless. When some people don’t feel in control of their circumstances or they don’t feel in control of themselves, they may also project their feelings on to you. Instead of looking inward to effectively address their discomfort, they look outward, and oftentimes outward in your direction. If they are emotionally immature or/and under a significant amount of stress, they may resort to blaming, shifting responsibility, justifying, yelling or other manipulative tactics in efforts to point the finger at you. Why?  Because looking at themselves is too painful or too overwhelming; sometimes it is just emotionally too hard.

Tip #3: Recognize that some people don’t know how to access or explain their emotions and feelings  and so they act out. Yes, I said it – adults have tantrums. They act up and they act out when they are unable to express their thoughts, feelings and perspectives in way that makes them feel heard. I have even known couples resort to what I call low level communication – cursing, sarcasm, and innuendo. When some people are unable to identify their emotions and articulate their feelings they “hit below the belt”.  If/when they are unable to say "I feel frustrated, I feel scared, I feel ashamed, I feel disappointed, I feel angry, I feel lonely" or whatever the emotion is, they are more prone to respond in ways that are emotionally destructive and spiritually damaging.

Even though it is difficult to see beyond verbal attacks and irrational outbursts, it is important to try. Many times behind the cutting comments and offensive behavior is a hurting, scared person. A person who really doesn’t need or want to battle even though their actions and words suggest otherwise. What they really need is compassion, understanding and empathy. However providing any support,  let alone those three, are difficult to extend when tempers flare and when people “cross the line”, specifically your disrespect line.

But I challenge you to try.  I am in no way suggesting that you excuse bad behavior and verbal assaults. I am suggesting that you respond in ways that de-escalate the situation to prevent unnecessary wear and tear on your relationship. And, there are a few proven ways to decrease tension when communication break-downs or melt-downs occur.

The first way is to offer silence so that you maintain your composure and resist the urge to retaliate. Or you can provide a gentle touch or a hug to show your willingness to stay connected and engaged during the conflict.  You can lend an ear and listen to what they are attempting to say even though they may poorly communicate their needs. You can leave the room to give you space and to give them time to collect their thoughts and calm down.

After the verbal tirade is over, it will be important to discuss what caused the emotional outburst and the discussion should include facts and feelings. The facts will hopefully help you understand and appreciate what happened - situation, event, interaction or person.  And discussing the feelings will help  you understand the triggers - old wounds, emotional baggage, feelings, fears - that precipitated the intense response.

It will also be important to discuss the heated exchange and/or the cutting comments too. Be sure to express how the exchange made you feel, and offer ways to prevent the verbal outbursts in the future. Like I said before, infrequent communication lapses are problematic enough and need to be addressed. But consistent, out of control rants should never been tolerated.

Being spoken to in a way that feels disrespectful is never good; it can feel insulting, embarrassing and humiliating. And when you don’t respond in a way that restores your respect or challenges the disrespect, it can make you feel cowardly and ashamed.  But if we are honest, we all can admit that we have had communication lapses. We all, at one time or another, have done some yelling or have been yelled at. And we all have also been the recipient as well as the perpetrator of some offensive and patronizing interactions too. 

So here is the take-away. When your spouse/partner/boo has a communication lapse, remind yourself that her reaction is not about you. It is her own internal emotional stuff surfacing.  Don’t make it about you and don’t make it your sole responsibility to placate her. Remind her that you love her, that you are willing to listen, and that you are willing to help as long as it is done with and in love and with and in respect.

 As long as communication lapses are the exception and not the rule, be encouraged. You can work on yourself to better identify and/or control your emotions, and you can practice communicating with you partner in a direct, yet loving way. So if you have a communication lapse, quickly admit your mistake, apologize for communicating in a dishonoring way, and commit to do better. You deserve it and so does she.

Good luck and success to you as you continue to CREATE Love!

SharRon Jamison
I Can Depend on Me