Remember what Valentine’s Day was like back in 2nd grade? I do. I gave everyone in my class a Valentine. I didn’t discriminate. The goal was to make everyone feel special. I loved those paper Valentine’s. Just buying the box from the local Caldor filled me with excitement. The joy of bringing a little piece of love to everyone. And feeling loved in return. It was so simple. And no one felt left out. At the age of 7, all love was distributed equally. Okay, maybe you gave that one extra big valentine, that came in every box, to your best girlfriend, or your boy crush. But it was still about acknowledging every person in your class.

It was expectation that got in the way. How come Annie got more big cards than I did? Why didn’t Joe sign mine? Did Beth get more sweetheart candies? Jealousy and envy started to rear its head. And why didn’t Deacon give me one at all? I thought I was his best girl friend? All the acknowledgment was gone and now it was about who got more love than I did. And there is the bane of Valentine’s Day. It’s rooted in acknowledgment, cut down by expectation. And I’m here to tell you to let it all go. Because , it’s true, Joe didn’t sign my card. But he didn’t sign half of them because he thought the whole Valentine thing was weird anyway, so he just stopped signing, stuffed them all into the little white envelope, took the class list and wrote each name neatly on the front. He made sure everyone got one. Because even though he might not “like” you, you were his friend. Even peripherally. And that counted.

And here I am. A grown up. And here’s what I still know. It’s not a about presents. It’s not about dinner reservations. It’s not about being part of couple. And it is not about being lonely. When Valentine’s Day is done right — it’s about acknowledgment of time and love well spent. It’s not filled with expectation about how you want to be appreciated. It’s so much simpler than that. It’s about giving from a place of real heart. It’s about receiving with grace. And it’s about remembering how the glue tasted on those sweet little white envelopes as you sealed each and every one with just love and acknowledgment for time well spent.

Well you know what I’m going to choose. But can we talk about ‘nice’ for a minute? Christmas is all about virgins and children, and anything less than that is considered de rigeur. Really? Immaculate births? Where’s the fun in that? And while we’re so busy making memories for the “family” (read: children), we need to remember to take a little bit of time out for the adults.

It’s time for the to take back Christmas. And make the memories that yet another cashmere sweater can’t manage.

I know. When? Too tired. Too stressed. Too frustrated. Well, guess what. A good sleigh ride takes care of all those things that make the holiday time not so jolly. So here are a few good reasons to put some holiday jolly at the top of your Christmas list.

  1. Sex relieves stress. One good healthy release of endorphins is more than enough to take the edge off.
  2. Sex boosts your immune system. Who knows what germ warfare you’re under while you run yourself down with shopping and partying — all while standing behind the new H1N1 incubator.
  3. Sex boosts self esteem. Why does this matter? Ask me that again Christmas Day when your mother is telling you that you’re making the gravy all wrong. Or when your brother has just trumped your $25 American Express Gift cards with a $100 ones for iTunes for all the nephews (true story).
  4. Sex helps you sleep better. The oxytocin released during orgasm also promotes sleep. And you need it to help you with #2.
  5. And if none of those worked for you: Sex burns calories! What a great way to fight off the holiday 5. Without having to hit the gym.

So turn that Ho, Ho, Ho into a Ho, Ho… Oh. Go ahead and be naughty. And leave ‘nice’ to the stressed out, sleep deprived virgins.

Oh and no partner to relieve stress with? Then try clicking here.

One of my Dad’s favorite expressions was “Youth is wasted on the young.” So, I see now, is lube. Teenage boys have been using it for years. Lube. Olive Oil. Banana peels. Or anything else Portnoy could think up. And they used it unapologetically. And in copious amounts. They used it because it felt good. Full stop. So what happened? Did they think the girl wouldn’t like it? Were they embarrassed to bring it out? Unfortunately for us girls, the closest thing we got to lube was KY-Jelly at the gynocologists office.  And you know what? We could have used lube then, and we can certainly use it now.8c741e45-65b8-bd7b-dd8a-bda07faad7c3

Lube has this strange stigma attached to it for women. Like if we aren’t self lubricating then somethings wrong with us. We’re not turned on. Or we’re post-menopausal. None of which are true. Sometimes, sports fans, we’re just dry. And sometimes, even if we are wet, poking something dry inside can still be painful. Lube has not gender. Lube has no age. Lube is a all round player in the world of pleasure. So pour it on!

For teenage girls it would certainly make self pleasuring a lot less painful. We girls all know what I’m talking about. And for lovemaking, it’s always a plus. It doesn’t make things too slippery. It doesn’t effect intensity for the man. It just smooths everything out. For everyone. If there’s pain, let there be lube. Even if you’re pouring like Niagara.

And for my menopausal ladies — you should have this on your bedside stand like you do your lotion. Dryness is a big issue post-menopause. And sex can be painful — for lots of different reasons. But a good lubricant can take care of a good 75% of the issues. Really. And, it enhances his pleasure as well. There is no need for pain in pleasure (unless you so desire it).

Besides, lube is fun in other ways, too! Great for hand jobs. And is a great way to get your man to soften his touch. Try it on your nipples, for a little massaging. Though not a substitute for massage oil as it absorbs more quickly and differently, it is fun to try on different erogenous zones to create a smooth, soft touch. Just for a minute. And then no messy, oily residue to deal with! My favorite is Kamastra’s Love Potion. It’s silicone. I know. But it’s light and it lasts a long time. And, yes, you could use olive oil, but it doesn’t absorb the same way and you wind up smelling like a salad.

So why the diatribe on lube? Because 75% of the people that walk into my store don’t use it. And at least half of them again, return to thank me and buy more. So go ahead. Buy it. At the very least, it’ll bring up some fun high school memories to get your evening off to a memorable start.

There is a reason I don’t sell king size bedding in the store. I don’t believe in the king size bed. It’s too big. You might as well be sleeping in separate beds. And what’s the fun in that? I have an adage: “Full size. Queen size. King size. Divorce.”

This is one of the 80’s phenomena along the lines of ‘the bigger the better.’ Well, it’s not. The benefit of having a partner to sleep with you is that they’re there. You can feel them. Hear them. Reach over and touch them during the night without having to get up and walk over. Proximity is a big part of intimacy and a king size bed is simply a barrier to it. Any bed that allows you can spread your arms and legs and not touch the person next to you is a problem.

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I’ve heard all the arguments. Kids, dogs, too hot, he/she kicks. Whatever. My response? Kick the kids and dogs out of bed (they shouldn’t be there anyway!) Buy lighter blankets. And you’re going to get kicked anyway.

Nighttime is the only time you get to be so close for such an extended period of time. And if you can’t, or don’t want, to lie that closely to your partner during the night, you’ve got bigger problems than the size of your bed. My parents slept in a full size bed until I was in my early teens. When they finally purchased a Queen, the only plus my father talked about was that his feet didn’t hang over the edge. When people suggested that a king bed was even more luxurious he responded, “I don’t want to be that far away from my wife.” I loved that.

So if you’ve got an unstoppable yearning for a king size bed, maybe you should rethink your relationship, not your bed.

What you wear to bed is a bellwether of your relationship – with your partner and with yourself. I have a class here at the shop called “You Are What You Wear.” I ask women to bring in what they normally wear to bed. I don’t care what it looks like. What I care about the answer to these three questions:
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1.    Why did you select this?
2.    How do you feel in it?
3.    What message do you think you’re sending?

A gift of beautiful lingerie from your partner is the ultimate compliment. It means he believes you are a goddess. It is an expression of his love of you and your body. There’s really no way to make that wrong. It might be the wrong size. It might even be a bit, well, trampy. But it’s only given with the best of intent. He thinks you’re hot. And wants you to know it.

Here’s the bad news. Men don’t make great choices. But you need to be very careful in how you handle this. A look of “you’ve got to be kidding” is not the way to go. Instead, a gentle, “this is so beautiful, but not really my style/color/size. Would it be okay if I exchange it?” And you can. But not for the flannel kitty pajamas. For something soft and sexy. That you feel soft and sexy in. And you must greet him in it exactly as he’d hoped with the Frederick’s of Hollywood number you returned. He paid you the ultimate compliment buying it for you, now give him the thank you he deserves.

I had a great workshop here this week. One of my favorites to date. It was called Feng Shui Your Relationship, taught by a well known practitioner here locally named Tracy Boyce. I’ve had a couple of events with her this month, and I’ve taken action, but nothing prepared me for what I found Thursday night when I got my compass out.

So after our first event, there was a lot of discussion about the bedroom and ‘making room’ for your partner — whether you have one or not. My bedroom was certainly not ready for sharing. My bed was placed in a way that you could barely get to the other side of it. You had to squeeze between it and the bureau. There were shoes stored along the wall. Access to the other side of the bed was essentially blocked. There was also no bedside table on that side. There wasn’t room for so much as a tshirt in a drawer or my closet.

Okay. I get it. I moved the furniture. Sent two bags of old clothes to Goodwill. And even changed out my bedding to make the room lighter and more inviting. And POW, I’m spending more time up there. I love the space. I feel at home finally.

A few days later, I clear the last bastion of bedroom clutter off the bureau and find three books of love poetry. These were given to me by a male friend many months ago. Someone I’ve never dated but have spent many a day talking about our respective romances. And then it hits me like a ton of bricks — I have to get rid of these books! Love poetry, from an unavailable man, laying out in my bedroom. Yeah. That’s just great, Margaret. Do I give the to the library? Toss them? I had written notes so the library was not an option, but tossing them seemed like bad karma. So I decide to bring them to the shop. Then I’ll decide what to do with them. So what happens next?

POW! Two men, one right after the other, walk into my shop. Both single. Both handsome. Both very centered and open. Each spent more than an hour talking to me. This went well into the afternoon. And before I know it,as the second one leaves, I hand him one of the books of poetry (trust me, it was relevant) and sent him on his way. Now I panicked for a minute. Did I just crap on this great Feng Shui that was happening? But I felt good. I felt totally re-empowered. I felt like I took all the negative “not available” energy from the original giver and turned it into “I’m totally available for you” from this giver — ie, me!

So good, right?

Now it’s Thursday and I’m sitting in the Feng Shui Your Relationships workshop. All of the pieces above are coming together. I’m like a peacock with his feathers out. I’m so proud. Star student. We do our journaling and set out our goals and then “the grid” comes out. Me and my compass need to do some sleuthing around my SW corner — my relationship corner. I go home. Map my SW corner. Oh shit.

My SW quadrant is my junk room. I’m not kidding. My house is very tidy and put together until you get the that room. It’s a disaster. Part office. Part junk room. I literally throw crap in there that I don’t know what to do with. But wait, it gets better. In the SW corner of this room is my cat’s litter box! You can’t make this stuff up, people. I was horrified. I’m literally letting men ‘dump their crap’ on me. This is so true! Both those men from the previous day, told me all about their past relationships, what they’d learned, what they were looking for. They weren’t interested in me. They were just interested in dumping their shit on me! (In the nicest, not intentional way mind you.) Of course they did — have you seen my SW corner?

I got up early the next morning and started cleaning. Bags of garbage. Tons of books and papers that belong here at the shop. I’ve essentially cleared it out. There’s still a lot to do. But I’ve laid a rug down. Put a lamp in there and tried to turn it into a room again. I mean there is still a ton to do. But, one thing at a time. At least I’m decluttering. And preparing for the relationship, right? It’s a start.

As for the litter box. It’s staying in there for now. Not sure what to do about that just now, but I’ll figure it out. Good news is I have an amazing relationship with my cat. Now if we can just change the relationship for my personal kitty we’ll be all set.

So I’m still obsessed with this New York Magazine article I wrote about last week about The Affairs of Men. I’ve had myriad conversations with women and men about it. I’m discovering that more and more women are having or have had affairs than I’d ever suspected. Apparently I live in some single gal pumpkin patch that thinks men are the primary cheaters once you get married. I clearly need to rethink that supposition.

But as an addendum to the article, they did a poll of men and women asking myriad questions about sex, frequency, beliefs. And this statistic caught my eye. That when asking marrieds how many times a month they had sex, men answered they had roughly 16% more sex than women. Really? Now I know these weren’t actual married couples that answered, but simply marrieds, but still. Really? How does that work?

Do men and women define sex differently? My discussions say yes. Men tend to define it as the act of intercourse, women often define it as what can be a quite complicated time/intimacy equation. Men don’t see blow jobs as sex, but women do if it is part of more intimate evening (I’m betting on your knees in the Oval Office counted as far as Monica was concerned). This is similar my question of The Line regarding affairs. Is there a line that defines sex. And if so, men are getting exponentially more based on this poll, and my ideas about how it is defined.

Maybe the definition of sex was made clear in the polling of the question, but what if it wasn’t. If women don’t enjoy it, does it count? Yes but begrudgingly — they’ll look for the caveat. Women want the emotional connection that goes with making love. Otherwise, as Charlotte in Sex and the City put it, they just want to “get it over with.” Men, trust me, if he gets off, it counts, baby.

So once again I’m left flummoxed. What am I asking? Or what am I concluding? What I am sure of is the act of sex is not a barometer of happiness. It’s a very necessary component to be sure. But how it’s happening is critical. And if he’s getting it 1.3 more times a month than she is then that bloody article above will continue to haunt me.

So here I am still looking for answers. Anyone got any? Bring it on.