Monday, January 28, 2013

SHARE YOUR LOVE: Happy Couple Highlight XVII

Cole Thomas and Soko

How long have you been together?
Soko: Somewhere between “not long enough” and “forever do us part” aka 4 years.
Cole: "Fourish" years, but I think I knew this woman in another life or something. We're getting married in March in 2014.

How did you get together/meet?
Soko: We talked as friends online for a couple of months before meeting at Starbucks for coffee.
Cole: I discovered her My Space page one day while searching FL leatherwomen’s groups.  She only knew people in W.O.L.F. but wasn’t herself a member.  It intrigued me to find she understood Dom/sub relationships but hadn’t had not yet been involved in one.  To me, that spoke of a certain kind of virginity. She then brought her allure to my studio for a photo shoot and I became very interested from there.

What was the initial attraction?
Soko:  I was a victim of her smirky smile, her overconfident attitude, and her stalker tendencies!  LOL.  Seriously, I thought she was (and is) awesomely handsome!  It also intrigued me that she performed as a drag king and spoken word poet. Once we got to know one another, I realized that we were going through similar challenges as single parents of teens/young adults.  It was good to have someone who truly understood what it was like.

Cole:  First off, she preferred boi-types, not just “accepted” us, as some women claim to.  Soko’s pictures and profile revealed that she was a creative and adventurous woman, free enough to perform in theater in zany costumes.  I also saw that she worked in bookselling.  As a certifiable bibliophile as well as a thespian, I found both appealing.  AND she is curvy, pretty and feminine in appearance.  I later discovered that she, too, had two children and one gifted child in trouble.  She was also now single parenting, trying to figure it out on her own.  It is uncanny how two of our boys look like siblings and how one of my sons looks more like her than like me.  (BTW, I did NOT stalk her.  She was blowing up my phone; so I had to give her a second look!)

What would you say is the key to the success of your relationship?
Soko: From the beginning, we have shared open and honest (sometimes painfully so) communication.  We can both be opinionated and share strong personalities.  We are very honest and intimate, consistently playful, and fiercely loyal to one another.

Cole: Early on, we were on a schedule of sorts.  It was very organized with goals and timelines.  It might not sound too romantic, but you’d have to understand the entire context to appreciate this nuanced romance.
Clear expectations, whether met or unmet mattered to us.  Our groove has lots of “round peg: round hole” connections that render the “square peg: round hole” areas less salient.  I hurt when I hurt her feelings and I know she hurts when she disappoints me.  I don’t know how that fits in, but it impacts the relationship’s success.  Passion and compassion are also key.

Discuss how you deal with and face challenges that might come up in your relationship?
Soko:  We’ve had to learn to “read” each other and to work around our own issues with conflict resolution.  For example, I might yell in the heat of the moment.  Cole wants to resolve things “rationally” in the moment, but will shut down if yelling is involved.  I have learned to vocalize that I first need time to calm down.  I had to learn to back away until my emotions were not taking over my brain. Cole has learned to be patient and give me time to do just that.  Then, we talk it out. We have learned that sometimes the worst place to talk about sensitive issues in the house. So sometimes, we go out so that we are on neutral ground. That helps us talk about issues with less emotion. After we resolve it, we reward ourselves by going to lunch.

Cole: As the Dominant in this relationship, I have certain entitlements that can blow up in my face if I ever attempt to abuse them.  It’s so very instructive, the job of balancing of power and responsibility!  It started off that we faced-off when the issues heated just between the two of us, but as trust built, conflicts were addressed with more maturity and humility.

From day one we’ve done remarkably well facing outside challenges – even problems related to parenting – as a team.  I’ve asked her opinion often and learned a lot about realities about which I would have much rather remained idealistic.

Disagreements?  We’ve come to love one another enough to respect boundaries around arguing.  She had to stand up to me and show me that she cares more about her health and wellbeing than about this relationship before I recognized that it should be just that way:  Self-respect first.  It lets some air out of my ego sometimes, but keeps me honest.  I am convinced that only an intelligent woman of color, from the school of hard knocks can create this type of balance with me. Where an irreconcilable difference is concerned, offering the other person grace seems all you can do, particularly when you realize that if they (or you) could do better they (or you) probably would.

Cole, why do you use the word "entitlements”?
Perhaps I am just crass in that way.  There are probably 20 different words I could use. What I am saying is that in relationships you reasonably expect to have some things.  In our relationship, those things are stated and agreed upon.

Cole mentioned being a "Dominant"? Can you share more?
Cole: Every relationship that has a Dominant/submissive dynamic is not the same. That’s important in this time of labels, no labels, anti-labels, etc. In every relationship, there is a balance of power that is agreed upon by both parties that determines how the relationship is conducted. In many relationships the couple spends time in power struggles. However,  I have learned that I prefer relationship with the structure of stated expectations. You can’t assume that everybody was raised like you were raised. Rather than assuming, our expectations are stated. If people are honest up front, they give people an option to stay or to go.

Soko: In a Lifestyle relationship, being a submissive does not mean that you are a passive participant or a doormat. You always have the power to say “no,” and most everything is negotiated up front. In the beginning, we discussed our non-negotiable needs and wants; we made sure that the things we could not live without were known up front. In our relationship, she’s the head or driver and I am the navigator and the glue. It is a loving relationship. It means loving that person enough to reel yourself back. I always feel respected.

Cole: There are time-outs in our entire dynamic, especially in the time of high crises.  If something goes wrong, we are not concerned about formality; we are concerned only with mutual respect. Options are always there.

What role does spirituality play in your relationship?
Soko: We both believe in God.  That’s enough for me.  What anyone calls Him isn’t as important to me as is the fact that they believe and demonstrate faith.

Cole: Our BDSM dynamic –for example, her submission– is among our expressions of spirituality.  It speaks to a connection, a type of sanctuary we create for one another.  On a broader scale, we don’t sell religion or spirituality to one another.  We trust our common ground and move forward with it.  Soko has both Protestant and Muslim training and is also very inclined toward the tangible.  I am a strange combination of Christian faith and criticism, of earnestness and cynicism, of humility and egoism.  We speak candidly and express ourselves in our common and respective practices.  I would say we recognize grace for what it is and operate within a gentle critique of the organized religious avenues that have or haven’t worked (do or don't work) in our lives.

What role does sensuality play in your relationship?
Soko: This is a tough question, kind of like trying to describe air!  I can hear sensuality in her laughter and when she calls me “doll”.  I hope my Dearest feels it when I trail my fingertips down the nape of her neck and that she can smell it when I make her cinnamon crisps.  I recognize it in a look and taste it in her kiss.  In our relationship, sensuality and intimacy are also the making love between the making love.

Cole: Hmmmm. Where to begin?   Maybe I should leave this topic to her to describe.  I feel we nail intimacy (no pun intended) most every day, often in the form of sensuality, but not always.  It keeps us feeling loved, indulged, desired and aroused.  We are fine with making ourselves vulnerable enough to straight out ask for attention when either feels overlooked.  Honestly, we kind of spoil each other.  And then, there’s the whole series of sexing, (I didn't mean sexting, but I guess we do that, too) playing, love-making, fucking, flirting, dancing.  The more kinky aspects of the relationship - D/s, dungeon-style bondage and discipline, "sadism and masochism"*, role-play - broaden and deepen our sensuality.

How does she show/tell you that she loves you?
Soko: My absolute favorite thing is that she tucks me in bed every night. She checks on me and makes sure that I take my medicine. She always, always kisses me good night.  Something about that ritual makes me go to bed feeling cherished and loved. I like to make her feel loved by bringing her coffee every morning. I love to do that, and I love that she enjoys it.

Cole: I show her I love her by giving her the “tasty morsel” face – that look you give someone when you want them like you want fresh dessert.  I have chores around the house, too; I mop the floor, wash dishes and even iron our clothes!  I also write my doll poems and I make her other art. I also know her rhythm so I can sometimes anticipate needs and vice versa.  She shows me love by loving my children like her own.  She shows me love through pets names (yes, "Daddi" is one); grocery-shopping and meal preparation; sex, lovemaking, and BDSM.  

What advice would you give to other couples?
Soko:  Find ways to love and laugh every day.  Also, honesty.  First, be brutally honest with yourself.  Then, be up front with the one you love.  After that, you will have to acknowledge that nobody can be 100% or perfect, not you and not her.

Cole: Don’t expect your partner to be your everything, but let her know what you do expect, even at the risk of her being unable or unwilling to meet those expectations.  Establish where you have common ground and capitalize upon it.  Do not make sh_t up.  If you have to go back and correct something, go back and correct it as soon as you realize your error.  For bois: if you love a steady femme and she loves you, trust her when she says you're acting like an ass. You probably are; seriously.

What has your relationship taught you most about yourself?
Soko:  I used to think I would never find that someone.  I’ve learned that it takes courage to love someone.  It takes even more courage to allow them the chance to love you.  Turns out I am more courageous than I thought!

Cole: Three things...
1) I expect submission, in part because it gives the relationship clear structure and in part because I am both sensitive and sentimental, too.  As a Dom, loyalty seems to be a much higher calling.  I don't mean that it's harder; I mean that the stakes feel higher.
2) Being able to laugh at myself (and you at yourself) can be an invaluable asset in relationships success.
3) Sure, I can be selfish and spoiled, but I will recognize and acknowledge same when it is pointed out in my actions or my failure to act.  I learn from these instances.  I can't have a successful relationship with a woman whose spiritual foundation is shaky.  That isn't, however, a new discovery.

What one word characterize/describes your relationship:
Cole: Beloved. We are spiritual, sharp, sensual and solid. That was tattooed on my back years before I met Soko.  I was looking for that in a woman and I finally got her.  You said five words, right?  lol
Akemi: Honored- because every day I feel honored that I am part of her life, and vice versa.
  *No, not the S & M on Criminal Minds!  We combine “Risk-aware” with "Safe, sane, and consensual" and reach a comfortable flow.

Learn more about Cole and Soko at the following websites. will be up March 1st

(Interview conducted and written by SharRon Jamison)

We are grateful to Cole and Soko for sharing your amazing love with us at Create Love for Women Who Love Women! We will see you at the Create Love Conference on February 16th!

Imani Evans
Create Love! For Women Who Love Women
Creator & Co-Founder

SharRon Jamison
Create Love! For Women Who Love Women

Saturday, January 26, 2013

6 Relationship Reflections

Birthdays are great time for reflection and revisiting life’s lessons. On January 25, yesterday, I turned a fabulous 45 years young! I am blessed and grateful to see another year. And in 45 years I have learned many things about choosing and maintaining a successful relationship. These lessons have now become my road-map for what works in my life. It seems befitting that I might humbly share these lessons with you, in hopes that they may be of some use. Some of these lessons have been learned through heartache, trials and tribulations... While others were learned through the fulfillment of relationship bliss and by doing my personal work (critical for all of us).

Lessons and reflections:

1. The ebb and flow of a relationship is natural – Don’t let the reality shows and sweet romantic comedies fool you. All couples go through things, because life happens while we fall in love. There are always those things that we cannot control, like deaths, job loss, health challenges, troubled kids, etc. It happens for all of us and it can put a strain on couples who are stuck in only living a fantasy relationship. But if you learn how to ride the ups and downs without panic, fear and anxiety you can experience a solid love – and an ineffable love, whether you are together forever or not.

2. Know thyself – How we select a mate and maintain a relationship happens through the lens that is a culmination of all our experiences – our schema. Doing the personal work of confronting and healing our issues will help clean the streaks off the lens. It will alleviate the painful filters by which we see the one who is our greatest mirror – our partners. Thus we can make better choices. It is not about seeking perfection, but rather about engaging the process in order to experience the progress. Do your work, beloveds! You and your partner deserve the very best.

3. Your partner cannot be your everything –  In short you have to have a life! If you don’t have one, get one! It is not your partner’s job to fill you up. That is a lofty job and unfair to expect of anyone. Filling up your life is a shared job. Do you have friends with whom you spend time? Do you have something you feel passionate about or a hobby that you love? This is essential because it gives your mate an opportunity to miss you and admire you. It is such a thrill for me to see my sweetie in her element, doing her thing. And I love when she gets to see me doing the same. It gives us a sense of pride to support one another and celebrate each other.

4. Fear of intimacy swings both ways--This was my big lesson. And it is a very personal lesson that I am happy to share with you, for the intention of turning pain into purpose. Years of choosing women with varying levels of intimacy issues taught me a valuable lesson about myself. Attracting this pattern into my life was a call to deal with my own intimacy issues. I was only manifesting a deep belief that I held. Wow! That was a hard pill for me to swallow. But the truth is that choosing women with a fear of intimacy was a passive way to avoid intimacy myself, without owning it. 

So if you find yourself complaining about noncommittal or emotionally unavailable women, then it is time to take a look at yourself and what you truly believe. Any pattern in your life provides you with a great deal of useful information about your belief system. If you want to know what you truly believe, I mean deep down inside, all you have to do is look around you. I am not talking about the lip service you pay for your image. Instead, I am talking about behavior that originates from your subconscious. Taking your personal inventory will give you the truth. What are you attracting?

5. Finding the balance of being an individual and a partner can be challenging, but it is essential – I have had many clients struggle with this particular issue. How do I love her the way I envision doing so, without losing myself? Well, I don’t have a neatly packaged answer for you. The truth is that the answer to this question is as individual as the number of people reading this article. I can, however, offer these points as a guide to finding the right answer for you.
  • The better you know yourself the easier it is to ask for what you need.
  • A willingness to communicate your needs with honesty, authenticity and transparency will pay off exponentially. No one should be required to read your mind. We all have to learn how to consistently ask for what we need.
6. Comparing your relationship to others is dangerous and ineffective –Last, but certainly not least, this is a lesson that I think comes with time. When you've lived long enough to have long-term relationships, and watch the relationships of others up close and from a distance, you begin to get it. Everything that looks shiny and glittery is not gold. Sometimes couples who appear to have it all are truly struggling. And it is their right to their personal life. So don’t get in the habit of believing that all relationships get executed in the same way.

It is my sincerest hope that you find some use of these birthday reflections.  Then if you so choose, please feel free to share your greatest lessons too.  We can all learn from each other.  I honor you for taking the steps to CREATE LOVE!

I look forward to exploring some of these concepts in greater detail at the CREATE LOVE Conference. SharRon and I look forward to seeing you there. Be sure to register! Here (Singles AND Couples)

Nya Akoma (Take Heart),

Imani Evans, MA
Creator & Co-Founder
Create Love! For Women Who Love Women

Find Imani:
Women Healing Women, Inc

Self-Care For Dynamic Women

Monday, January 21, 2013

SHARE YOUR LOVE: Kesha & Carol

Kesha McKnight and Carol McKnight

How long have you been togetherKesha: We have been together since November 18, 2005 a total of 7 years, 1 month and 13 days. Carol: This is the day our souls connected and we have not been apart emotionally since. We were married on April 11, 2010.

How did you get together/meet?
Carol & Kesha: We met at a mutual friend's Halloween Party.

What did that feel like? What did you feel the need to explore? Carol: I never had feelings for a woman before. There was something that was so mysterious about Kesha that I knew I needed to explore and find out what it was. Kesha: I didn’t feel anything at the party, but I was captivated by her. When she danced behind me, it sent something through me. It was subtle, yet powerful. After the party, I wanted to get in touch with her so I asked the host of the party who was the pirate. (Carol was dressed in a pirate costume that night J).

What was the initial attraction? Carol: I didn’t know, but I was intrigued by her look and her behavior. Kesha: She was graceful and her sway was mesmerizing.

Both of you were married to men, how did you realize that you were gay? Carol: In the past with men I felt like something was missing. However, with Kesha I felt like I had everything. When we were first intimate, I wanted to tell her I loved her. I said, “I know you are going to think that I’m crazy, but I have an over-powering feeling to tell you that I love you”. I had never been pleased on that level. I felt a strong connection and the feelings I had couldn’t be suppressed. Kesha: I had butterflies in my stomach the first time we were intimate - our expressions were so intense. I couldn’t shake those feelings. I had a strong desire to protect and please Carol. I was not afraid to love Carol holistically with my body, my mind and my spirit. When she told me she loved me, I felt a strong sense of security that she was someone I could love unconditionally. It felt as if I was in a dream; it didn’t feel real. I asked myself, how could this love I never felt for anyone so powerfully be so perfect? Then it was clear, I knew that I would never be without her love again. At that moment, I knew we would be connected for life.

What would you say is the key to the success of your relationship?
Carol: The key to the success of our relationship is that both of us are committed to our growth, not only of our relationship but personal growth as well. We do the work and we put in what we want to come out. Kesha: The key to success in our relationship is that we both exercise compassion and that we both communicate with a humble spirit.
What do you mean by “exercising compassion”? Kesha: My love language is words of affirmation so communicating with compassion means to have compassion for what I am going through at a particular time. It means that I need to know that I am heard and understood in a compassionate way. That’s important to me partly because when I grew up I felt like I didn’t have a voice.

What do you mean by “putting in the work”?  Carol: To continue to grow personally. To always be growing, learning and being vulnerable. We are both committed to growing. That’s what makes our relationship better. We also really challenge each other. For example, Kesha taught me to be more vulnerable. She has helped me do that because she makes me feel safe. She doesn’t use information that I share with her against me. We are there for each other in our weaknesses. We remind each other to grow.

Discuss how you deal with and face challenges that might come up in your relationship?
Carol: We deal with our challenges head on with love, understanding and compassion. Kesha: We deal with and face challenges in our relationship when we keep loving each other through the storms, when we open up and talk about our fears, and when we put together a plan as soon as we can to overcome our pain, disappointment and adversity

What role does spirituality play in your relationship? Kesha: Spirituality plays a very important role in our relationship and it's what keeps us grounded and quiets our egos. For example, my ego said that I am supposed to have a child. I’ve learn that having a child doesn’t make me who I am. I am still a whole person even without that experience. Carol: Spirituality plays a huge role in our relationship as this is what grounds us. It is the foundation from which we pull from in both the good times and more challenging times. We have to go back and remember who we are. In challenging times, we are moved in different directions. When we go back to what we know to be true, that is what gets us through the challenging times.

How do you remind/affirm your love to each other? Kesha: I tell Carol every day that she is beautiful and how much I love her. Carol: She never lets me suffer through anything; she always offers to help me. In my previous relationship with a man, it was always about roles and about what a woman should and should not do. We don’t have that in our relationship and it is less pressure and stress. Kesha: I pay close attention to her being overwhelmed. I am very protective of her emotions. So if there is anything that I can do to alleviate stress I do it. Carol: I tell her that I love her daily.  She loves to express her feelings so I try to be a good listener. I remind her that she is needed and doing the right thing. Kesha: She’s the best listener in the world and that’s healing for me when I can use my voice and know that I am being heard and understood.

What is the most romantic or loving thing that she has done for you? Carol: Her proposal. She proposed to me on February 13, 2008. She was coaching a little league basketball team at the time and she wanted me to attend her banquet. I wasn’t too happy because it was Friday and I had to come straight from work with jeans on. I made my way to the place where the banquet was being held and she met me at the car. I was irritable, but she wanted to be lovey dovey and hold my hand. I started walking I realized that the banquet location was really a bed and breakfast. We had the entire place to ourselves. She opened the door and there were rose pedals, candles, champagne and a teddy bear. It was beautiful. We had dinner and we took a bath. Then she got down on both knees and read the poem. After that, she asked me to be her wife. I broke down and cried. The next day on Valentine’s Day we went to pick out wedding rings. 

Kesha: We just completed our 3rd IVF attempt. It was emotionally and physically challenging. I was hurt and disappointed when it failed again. I was angry and I did not want to try anymore. I said to Carol maybe in the future we can adopt a child. Carol said no, I will have your baby! Her response blew me away! We had just completed our 3rd attempt where Carol carried my eggs and that didn’t work. So then she offered to use her own eggs in what would be our 4th attempt to have a baby. We really expected the IVF to work this last time, but instead we got negative results and that was devastating. The doctor told us that our expected due date would be next summer on July 26th. Ironically, our grandson was born this past summer on July 26th . Our grandson’s birth was a spiritual sign that we are supposed to be here to help raise our grandchild.  What a beautiful way for me to experience motherhood and I know for sure that my wife will do anything to make me happy. She has proven her love for me in a way that I never would have dreamed of and it’s the most loving thing that anyone has ever done for me.

What role does sensuality play in your relationship? Kesha: Sensuality and mutual attraction is the foundation of our love, it is the reason why we fell in love and why we still find refuge in each other’s arms and hearts. Carol: Sensuality is key; this is where it all began for us.  This is where we feel the safest and the closest when we are in each other’s arms. Kesha: I like to use the word homosensuality to describe my relationship with Carol versus homosexuality. I am not focused on what sex she is but rather what’s in her heart. We are the same spirit and that is what attracted me to her love. Her nurturing and emotional beauty is so profound for me. So if anyone were to ask, I would clearly respond that I am a homoSENSUAL! J

Since you had never been intimate with a woman before, how did you know what to do? Kesha: It was the best night of my life. I knew what to do and I did a great job. J The fulfillment I got in pleasing Carol was like nothing I had ever experienced before. It was phenomenal! Carol: It felt so natural that it was a little scary. Knowing what to do came easy. That to me was a sign of where I needed to be.

What did you have to learn/unlearn to be together? Carol: I had to learn to be more compassionate. Sometimes, I would be more like a man and I didn’t express a lot of emotion. Kesha taught me to be more compassionate. I also had to learn to be more vulnerable. I had to learn to allow her to see my feelings, and I had to learn to recognize my feelings so that she could see them. Kesha: I had to un-learn that I didn’t have to be perfect. Because of my childhood, I thought everything had to be perfect. I also had to learn to be more accepting of my family even when they don’t express compassion. When I am hurt or disappointed, she taught me not to go into my shell. She taught me how to love my way through it. I am a solution-oriented person and I like to fix things. She has taught me that some things are not mine to fix. She is good at that. Carol has taught me to let it go.

You are not only partners in love, but you are also partners in business. Tell me about Euphoria Affairs. Carol: We are a wedding planning business that specializes in same gender loving weddings. We started our business based on our experiences planning our own wedding. We experienced some rejection and we faced challenges with vendors. There were people who didn’t appreciate or celebrate our love.  We want to protect our community and prevent our clients from having to face those same challenges. Kesha: We had a wonderful time planning our wedding. Now, we play an important and active role in assisting our clients with their wedding selections. We safeguard our clients by choosing vendors who support our community. Working together as business partners compliments our marriage. Our roles are determined by our strengths. It all comes together like a romantic production. Carol is the Producer,
I am the Director and our clients have the starring roles. We strategically carry out the vision of our clients and we’re very passionate at what we do.

What word characterizes your relationship: Carol: United. There is no challenge, situation, or person that can break us apart. Our love is just too strong for that. Kesha: Committed. We are committed to making our relationship work, not just for us, but for what our love contributes to the universe. I want to be the example and allow the universe to use us in a special way. Loving each other in our relationship is a bonus.

What advice would you give to other couples:  Kesha: Your relationship is a reflection of yourself. Therefore, it typically shows you what you need to work on and what can be celebrated.
Carol: Be true to yourself in everything that you do, make sure you are in your relationship for the right reasons, to BE what it is you DESIRE in a relationship, allow yourself to be vulnerable, be willing to grow and just LOVE! 
(Interview conducted by SharRon Jamison)

See more about Kesha and Carol's company, Euphoria Affairs: and

We are grateful to Kesha and Carol for sharing your amazing love with us at Create Love for Women Who Love Women! We will see you at the Create Love Conference on February 16th!

Imani Evans, MA

SharRon Jamison, MBA

Friday, January 18, 2013

H.O.W. to Love

Love and healthy relationships are something that we all desire and deserve. We all want to feel appreciated and acknowledged, safe and secure, celebrated and cherished, and embraced and engaged. We all want and need to feel loved. The challenge, however, is that many of us struggle with giving and receiving love. In many ways, we don’t know H.O.W. to give or receive love in a way that honors ourselves and our partners. But what I know for sure is that there are three very important steps that are required to CREATE Love that is supporting, sustaining and most all, satisfying.

The first step to giving and receiving love is the practice HUMILITY. Over the years, being humble has gotten a bad rap because we usually associate humility with being weak, shy or timid. But it takes a strong and confident person to be humble. It takes a secure person to appreciate that she is not higher than you or lower than you, but that you are equals.  Humility is important in a relationship, and  without it, you will not experience the depth of love that you desire.  If you want true intimacy, you must practice humility.
Humility is also important because it keeps the relationship killers away.  What are relationship killers?  They are pride and arrogance.  Believe me, nothing kills a relationship faster.  Just think about your current friendships and relationships. Do you like to interact with people who are smug, self-righteous, egotistical or conceited? I bet you don’t.  I don’t either. And, if you think of the top reasons why relationships and friendships fail, I am confident that pride and arrogance somehow played a role. Both of them create emotional barriers and emotional distance in a relationship. Pride shuts people out, and arrogance shuts them up. Both are hazardous to any relationship.

What are some ways to exercise more humility in your relationship? I am glad you asked.
·         Realize that you don’t know everything. Your partner has her own perspectives, opinions, traditions, customs, beliefs, and systems. She does not have to abandon hers to partner with you and you don’t own the market on truth.  Remain teachable. You don’t and will never know everything about your partner because she is not static. So don’t assume that you do. Ask questions and show interest. Also, ask for advice. She may know more than you know about certain subjects.

·         Practice forgiveness. In other words, Give up your past hurts and disappointments, FOR a better future. Remember the forgiveness you extend, will one day be the same forgiveness you will need. Act responsibility too when you hurt people. Humble people accept accountability when they hurt others, even it if they hurt unintentionally.  Don’t gloat or criticize when you are right. Nobody wants to hear “I told you so” or “you should have listened to me” or “you should have asked me”. Keep in mind that people who gloat are usually alone and friendless.

·         Remember that you also have skeletons in your closet so  don’t judge, especially when you don’t know or have the facts. And remember, even when the facts, you still MAY NOT have understanding.
·         Remember that humility means different things to different people; humility is influenced by a person’s culture. So make sure you know the culture, and then practice humility.

The second step to giving and receiving love is to remain OPEN. Openness is key because it is the ability to welcome and invite people into your presence, and at the same time, make them feel safe. It is the invitation and the request to bring all of who are you to the relationship. Openness is a wonderful gift to give someone, but openness is sometimes difficult for us to accept and practice. Why? Because society, families, churches and other external factors have forced us to hide or conceal parts of who we are. We have in many ways been rewarded and encouraged to lie, or at least obscure the truth. But like the saying goes, “I rather be hated for who I am, than to be loved for who I am not”. 

So, who are you? Only you really know, and only you can really tell.  So strive to be open, honest, direct and sincere. Challenge yourself to be transparent and vulnerable.  But remember that openness does not guarantee acceptance or agreement, but it does promote awareness. And, many times awareness is what we need to feel acknowledged and appreciated. How you can you encourage openness in your relationship? Remember the following.  A closed mouth does not get fed. Openly express your needs, desires and wants so that they can be addressed.

·         A closed mind can’t be lead. Remain receptive, approachable and teachable. Always be willing to learn about yourself, your partner and your relationship. And most of all, try not to label or categorize things you don’t understand. Increase your tolerance for ambiguity.

·         A closed book does not get read. In many ways, your life is a book of experiences. Let your partner read your book so that she can win at loving you. Without data, people do damage.  Nothing good comes from being closed.  Opportunities mainly come from opening your mouth, mind, heart and soul. So be open - to love, to learning and to life.

The finally way to love is to be WELCOMING. Being welcoming not only means being friendly, kind and generous, it also means being accepting. And, there is a difference between being open and welcoming too. Openness says I am receptive to you, however welcoming says I receive you.  Welcoming says I accept you, hear you, grasp you, get you, and meet you. Being received and admitted into a person’s heart can be life-changing. In many respects is a way of saying I love you - warts and all. Acceptance is powerful; it is one of our greatest human needs.

Welcoming, acceptance, is also one of the ways that we communicate respect and dignity for others. It is one of the ways we communicate value to our love ones. You want a loving relationship, be welcoming. I will discuss the importance of acceptance in greater detail at the CREATE Love conference.
So H.O.W do you love? Practice Humility, Exercise Openness and Be Welcoming. These three decisions can make a good relationship, great. Also, three decisions can make you better as a person and partner. So when you don’t feel good about yourself or your relationship, ask yourself one question: I loving me and my partner? As the saying goes, the truth will set you free.

I look forward to exploring some of these concepts in greater detail at the CREATE LOVE Conference. Imani and I look forward to seeing you there. Be sure to register!

SharRon Jamison, 

Monday, January 14, 2013

SHARE YOUR LOVE: Happy Couple Highlight XV

HAPPY COUPLE: Christin Brown and Ashley Kelly-Brown 
from Santa Barbara, California

How long have you been together? We have been together since April 8, 2002 and we were married on August 3, 2008.

How did you meet?  
Christin: I attended a gay prom in Hayward, California, and I saw Ashley dancing with her girlfriend at the time. When I looked at her I said to myself, “If I could have any girl, it would be her”. Ashley: I was working at Starbucks and in walks this beautiful woman. She was really gorgeous. I said “If I can be with any girl, it will be her”. Two weeks earlier I had broken up with my girlfriend. I was at work and Christin walks in. I did not know what to say so I said “I like your tongue ring”. Christin: I thought, oh yeah!

What was the initial attraction?  
Ashley: She had long hair and wore dresses. She was really girly. She also had this sexy voice. She was a plus-size girl and she was so comfortable in her skin. She had confidence and swag. She also had this masculine side of her. She was beautiful! Christin: When I saw her on the dance floor, it was a total movie scene. When I saw her, everything went quiet. It felt like destiny and that we were destined to be together. When I saw her at Starbucks, she had an amazing smile. She has these big beautiful eyes and she has a way that she looks at you. I fell in love with her at first sight.

Ashley you were 17 and Christin you were 18. How did you know that you were gay, and how did you know you were in love?
 Ashley: I knew I was gay when I was 5 years old and I had my first girlfriend when I was in kindergarten. I always had those feelings for girls. I am happy that I found my soul mate. For me, Christin was it. After our 1st date, I knew that we were going to be so amazing together. I knew that we could do great things together. I wanted her to be my girlfriend after our 2nd date but she said that she was not ready. I broke up with her even though we were not really together. Later that night, she came back and brought me flowers. She said “I am ready”. Christin: I was scared and nervous because I had never experienced something so intense so fast. Ashley: She took a chance on love, and we moved in together during my senior year in high school.

You were not scared? 
Ashley: No, I had cancer when I was 4 years old. I had already dealt with life and death situations. I was ready. I don’t feel that I have time to wait. I was a little nervous, but when I am nervous, I know that I am growing .Christin: I was in college, and I didn’t expect to leave the house so soon. This gorgeous woman swept me up. I was scared because she was such a beautiful girl. I thought that I was supposed to hang out and party in college, to have the college life. But when I met the girl of my dreams, I knew I made the right choice. We were excited to be together. It was nice to be with her. I put my trust in her, and her ideas always pan out.

What are the keys to a successful relationship? 
Christin:  Laughter. I so enjoy making and hearing her laugh. Making her laugh is one of my favorite things to do. Communication – Ashley taught me that. Communication is important to keeping our relationship working. Ashley: Know how to have fun and know when to take a break. Know when to shut everything off. Sometimes when you need clarity, it is good to get out. And, know when you need time apart. There are times when you just feel bad, and just need to be by yourself. You have to get to know when those times are and your partner should not take it personally. It is selfish and invasive to not let your partner have that time.

How do you handle conflict? Ashley: I am a zodiac girl. I am a Cancer and she’s an Aries. Cancers are emotional and we like to talk about our feelings. Aries are different; they like to bottle them up. When we are facing conflict, we continue to work on it. Sometimes we can’t talk face-to-face because it is hard to control our expressions. When you have been with someone for a long time, you know what the facial expressions mean and that might make communication difficult. So we sometimes use technology. We can text message and that’s less emotional. We can sometimes send an email or write a letter when we don’t see eye-to-eye. Christin: I like to write because it gives me a minute to choose my words wisely. If I hurt, I don’t want to make her hurt, and then we hurt each other. We don’t do that. We make modern technology work for us. Ashley: We haven’t had a lot of conflict in a while. We don’t bring that into our relationship. When there is conflict we know it’s not us; it is what we bring into our relationship. So, we will get rid of it immediately.

What have you learned about yourself in your relationship? Ashley: I have learned that I can be high-strung and stressed for no reason. I let things around me create stress in me. I like instant results, and I like to fix things. Sometimes, I need to step back. I can’t control everything. I have learned that from Christin; I have her to thank for that. We don’t have stress because we are such a great partnership. We live with the “glass full” philosophy. I am overwhelmed with joy and we are solid. I am happy. Christin: I am chilled and down to earth. I am easy-going. I have learned that I can be too chilled and that puts an excess amount of responsibility on Ash. I have learned that I need to step it up some times and not put more on her. It is not fair that I am chilling and she is stressed. I have that as one of my goals this year. I have learned that I can trust. We can have a ball together and still are free to enjoy yourselves. Ashley: We don’t lie or cheat. We don’t keep secret passwords, etc. We don’t play the  jealous game. We both know that nothing can compare to what we have. Everything else is just a waste of time and energy. I tell Christin, I may not trust the people around you, but I trust you. Christin: We don’t have jealous stuff, we have a loving relationship, a true partnership. Our love is not built on possession, fear or a lack of confidence.

What role does spirituality play in your relationship? Ashley: I don’t conform to any religion. I have a relationship with God; I talk and pray to God. I am feel guided, protected and loved by God. I am not in search for a church or a religion. We are a spiritual family. Christin: From kindergarten to high school, I went to a private Catholic school. I grew in church. I understand the beliefs. We don’t attend a church now, but we wouldn’t rule it out. Churches have not let me be 100% myself. There are now churches that are welcoming so maybe in the future. We have a spiritual connection with God and nature. Ash welcomes the universe and I have learned that from her.

You are partners in love, and partners in business. How did you start LunaBella Make-up and Hair? Ashley: I was 18 and Christin was 19 and we were living in San Francisco. We are both make-up artists and we were both working at MAC. We were doing weddings, and we were doing pretty well. I said, “let’s start a business doing this”. Make-up is a form of art. It came natural for me. I had tapped out at MAC unless I wanted to move. In November 2008, I told Christin that I want you to quit your job and start building our business. Start building our website, etc. In 6 months, I will quit my job and we will do this full time. She left and started preparing our business. I worked at MAC and did weddings during my lunch hour to pay the bills. I was tired, and I was making more money at the weddings than at my job. Instead of working 6 months, I quit in 4 months. Now, 5 years later, we are opening up our own full-service salon. (My note: They also do make-up for top celebrities. These ladies are amazing). Christin: We really work very well together. In between, I went to cosmetology school to learn how to do hair.. Our salon specializes in textured hair. We plan to service all markets, but especially provide services for the curly hair and natural hair market. We want women to embrace their curls. Ashley: Christin has also attended culinary school and wants to open a restaurant. We live in Santa Barbara, California which  is the 2nd top wedding destination in the US. We do weddings and special events, maybe 150 weddings every year. We don’t advertise and our business continues to grow. Eventually, Christin will have her restaurant and the salon will provide a great foundation for that.

How do you prevent the job stress from affecting your relationship? Christin:  We are a great team so it doesn’t affect us. Years ago when we both worked at Starbucks, it put a huge damper on our relationship. There was inequality because Ashley was the lead manager. At our company, we are equals and we laugh a lot. We give each other critiques. We love what we do, and we love that we do it together. Ashley: We are both artists and we create magic. We make people feel and look great. We make people feel good about themselves and we create good experiences. We want our clients to have an amazing time so we never let anything that is going on with us affect them. When you love what you do, and love each other, it is not hard to work together. Christin: There are no power struggles. If anyone of us needs help, we help. We always check in with each other to make sure that we are ok.

How do you keep romance in your relationship? How important is sensuality?  Christin: I am always all over her trying to kiss her. Familiarity is comforting. I always make sure that she knows how much I love her. I always want her to know how I feel about her so keeping romance in our relationship has never been a problem with us. With the years and our schedules, we sometimes have to make appointments to be with each other. We have no problems dropping hints. We are not so coy anymore. Ashley: I love this woman so much. I always want to kiss her. We have wonderful, spontaneous fun time, memorable moments together. When we don’t see each other, we miss each other. We have such a passion for each other. We are so committed that it solidifies that she in the ONE. I feel blessed to be with her. We appreciate each other, our blessings and our life.

How does she make you feel special? Ashley: She makes me dinner and she lays out my clothes. She finds things for me. She’s always thoughtful and that’s romantic. She is so sweet. When I need her or need something, she never blinks an eye. It is never a bother to her to do something for me. She cleans out my car. She pampers me. She does my nails and my hair. She totally takes good care of me. Christin: She makes sure that we have a roof over our head. She is the ultimate planner. She always makes sure that everything gets down and goes well. She likes to please me and she makes sure that everything balances out. She likes to hike. I learned how to hike so I could enjoy it with her. I want to see her happy. That gives me joy.

What were you willing or what did you have to give up to be together? Christin: I had to learn how to compromise and what that meant. I was stubborn. I had to learn to say “I feel this way, how do you feel”. Learning to compromise is about giving and sacrifice. I had to give up being stubborn. Ashley: I had to give up the respect of my family.  My family became born-again Christians, and my relationship with Christin became an issue for them. I decided that I would no longer sacrifice my feelings for my wife for them. I will not compromise Christin because she is my wife; she is my family. I told them I did not change, you changed. Before they changed, there were accepting. They were at our wedding. In 2008 when the economy went bad they lost everything and found solace in religion. I don’t believe that God would continue to bless us if God was so disgusted by us.

What 1 word describes your love: Christin: Rich. We are rich in love, rich in truth, rich in compassion and rich in values. We have built something that you can’t put a price on. Ashley: Strong. The longer we are together, the stronger we get and the stronger our foundation gets. We are stronger personally, in business, and in life. I get so much strength from this relationship.

Learn more about Christin and Ashley at Good luck with your salon. We are proud of you.

 (Interview conducted by SharRon Jamison)

We are grateful to Christin and Ashley for sharing your amazing love with us at Create Love for Women Who Love Women! We will see you at the Create Love Conference on February 16th!

Imani Evans, MA
(CEO of Women Healing Women, Inc.)

SharRon Jamison, MBA
(Author of I Can Depend On Me)

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Art of Lesbian Sex

Do you know what the largest sex organ is in the human body? Drum roll…you guessed it! It is the brain. The brain is the gateway to meaningful intimacy and the greatly desired phenomenal orgasm. The Art of Lesbian Sex is an article that pays homage to that beautiful sex organ and the pursuit of a fulfilling sex life.

I’ve never seen anything conjure up an equal dose of excitement and embarrassment like the subject of sex among lesbians. Interestingly enough, if you get a group of lesbians in a room talking about sex you are sure to hear someone say, “Sex is not the most important thing for me.” And I would agree except for one caveat – when sex is the thing that is not working, then indeed it is important! I think that sex is as spiritual, emotional and essential as any other element of a relationship. There are many reasons to make sex a high priority in your fulfilling love life. This is not to say that there aren't some significant, loving and quality relationships wherein sex is not essential. However, this article is written for those who wish and desire to have and maintain a fully satisfying sex life as part of relationship sustainability.

Let’s explore the reasons to embrace sex as a significant part of your relationship:
1. Sex has extraordinary physical benefits that range from pain reduction, to stress management and weight control. Oh the joy! It is true. Sex is one of the best ways to release a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is often referred to as the “love hormone”. The reason for its nickname has to do with its relationship to bonding, empathy and building trust. It sounds like a big bill to fill but oxytocin does it with no problem, which is why it is so essential for new mommies bonding with their babies.

In addition to this wonderful God-given hormone, sex also is a great way to burn calories and workout. And I don’t know about you but I’d rather have sex than go to LA fitness any day. While LA fitness is $36/month, sex is free--Well... :-)

Sex is a physical connection that softens you to your partner. It allows you to feel more compassion and closeness. The time before, and after, sex is equally as important as during. Cuddling and snuggling reduces stress and some studies show that it even reduces fear. So be sure to put as much time and thought into the prep work and the closing.

2. Sex is a spiritual connection. As a Buddhist I will leave the Bible quotes to my well-qualified business partner, Minister SharRon Jamison. However I think it is a common thread among most major religions that sex is sacred, and most enjoyable when shared with someone with whom you give your heart as well as your body. It allows you to be vulnerable and free. I am sure that most of you have heard of Tantric sex. It is the art of combining spiritual awareness with one’s sexuality. It is believed to deepen our consciousness while experiencing the highest form of pleasure. Whether you explore Tantric sex or simply embrace the concept of sex as a sacred act, you can allow yourself to be spiritually present when you make love. I promise it will be the greatest gift you allow God to give you and your partner.

3. Sex is a gateway to deepen your emotional connection. There are times when words simply do not express how much you love your partner. Making love is a way to exchange and express your feelings, hence the term. You can allow your fingers, lips and body to speak for you. The way you hold your partner and the sweet sounds and moans you offer her will tell her volumes. Not just about how you feel in the moment, but how you feel about her overall. Have you ever had someone merely touch your thigh and send you to faraway places of ecstasy? Conversely, have you ever had someone do every trick in the book, but it does absolutely nothing for you? Well if you answered yes to the latter, then you know that sex is the gateway to a deep emotional connection. However it can be as deep or as superficial as you allow.

This is the reason that lesbian death-bed is so dangerous to a relationship. Yes, we all get busy, get our feelings hurt and get focused on doing life. But you have to honor the sexual needs of your relationship too. Not just for your partner but for yourself as well. And sometimes it just takes a little intention to wake up that sleepy clitoris. And with 8000 nerve endings to stimulate, she will be delighted that you did! So don’t allow yourself to push it to the back burner. If you do, you’ll be sure to find yourself in more arguments and increased relationship stress.

4. I would be remiss as a counselor if I didn’t take a few moments to talk about some of the dysfunctions and sexual issues that can show up and cause a problem with a healthy sex life. For example, your partner may be a survivor of sexual abuse or violence. In which case, she may have body memories, or just a difficult time being touched or vulnerable. If any of this is true, for whatever reason it exists the onus is on both people to seek out the support and help needed to find out what works for the two of you. This should be done with understanding, empathy and compassion.

In addition I have heard way too often from studs/bois/butch women that they are often neglected sexually or not respected after being sexually open and vulnerable. It is my hope that we can move beyond this as a community to something more freeing and loving. Not every woman will want the same thing but we should be open to allowing a woman to express the full gamut of her sexuality, whether she is a stud, femme, or any of the myriad of ways lesbians embrace their identity.

5. Remember that sex is not just for couples. If you are single and not dating in any way, you can still have a healthy sex life through your imagination and masturbation. That’s right, I said it – masturbation! It is a healthy, sensual and loving way to satisfy your needs. I would encourage you to even be intentional about it and not just seek the orgasm. Instead spend time loving your body, touching your body and making love to yourself. It is a great way to explore how you like to be touched and what makes you feel good. So if you are single and dating yourself, make sure you get lucky at the end of the evening! :-)

Now, I entitled this article The Art of Lesbian Sex because, just like art, sex is unique to the individual experiencing it. And, just like art, a fulfilling sex life requires creativity. So here are some tips to expand on your artistic side:

-- Try something new! You might consider trying something you've never done before. There’s such a wide range of things available to explore with the right one. Discuss ways to feel safe. For example, find a safe word that signifies to your partner that you want to stop, or that you no longer feel comfortable. Maybe you can have a sensual date with your partner by taking her to the adult toy store and just touching and playing with the things you see. Even if you don’t buy anything you’ll get a kick out of seeing what she likes.

--Explore your fantasies. Fantasies aren’t always meant to become a reality. Sometimes it’s the joy of fantasizing that can be arousing. Can’t come up with the most creative fantasies… You are in luck! There are experts who have done it for you. Grab an erotic book... Like maybe one by Claudia Moss, Robin G. White or Fiona Zedde.  I promise you, you will be wet by the end of chapter one.
--Be sure to talk about sex before you’re in the middle of sex. Nothing dries up a vagina faster than saying the wrong thing in the middle of sex. You will go from swimming the ocean wide to crawling in the desert before you know it. So don’t do it to yourself. Have some conversation outside of that precious moment. Discuss your likes and dislikes and your willingness/unwillingness to step out of your comfort zone. Be sure to help your beloved win at finding your sweet spot. This way everyone wins.

Great Links:

I honor you for taking the steps toward this LOVE REVOLUTION…Nya Akoma!

Imani Evans, MA
You can also find Imani at the Self-Care for Dynamic Women