Meditation on Gratitude

Capturing feelings of gratitude can be extraordinarily hard. It is often fleeting and ephemeral, not something tangible that I can pin down and examine.

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But in the last few days I’ve been focusing on the flow of energy in my life, and my reactions to recent events – disappointing and painful – and how my attitude to these events is influenced by my core beliefs.

Those beliefs are not always helpful or positive, so at a very deep emotional, mental and physical level I’m doing some work on changing that.

One of these long-held beliefs is a variation on the theme of not being worthy – ultimately worthy of loving. This premise is one that so many of us carry throughout lives like a lead coat of misery or shame. A rainbow of morbid grays that weighs us down and contributes nothing to our emotional or mental health.

I’ve decided to cast mine off and reclaim my inner space as an optimistic, confident woman who is indeed deserving of respect, someone’s time, being heard, being supported, being treasured, being satisfied, being adored – and being loved.

In some ways my ‘cougar’ identity – read ‘mature, sexually empowered woman’ – is one face I hold up to the world. There are others too.

I’m sure this new period of determined growth will influence my dating life and my desires in the coming months.

I’m henceforth inviting in people who will help me grow, specifically towards re-building my core (unconscious) beliefs to be life-affirming, self-affirming and loving.

Part of what I will be working on during the next two weeks is creating a vision board. I have never done one of these before, although in a way my whole, beloved home, particularly my bedroom and study, is about holding beauty, strong positive energy and ideas through language (quotes), images (cards and pictures, artwork) and of course, cherishing the physical (through touch and intimacy).

This is my first living space (house) that I alone own – I’m responsible for the roof over my head (to also shelter and protect my children) by my own labour and dedication. Before now everything I owned belonged jointly to the ex-husband. It is immensely liberating to go it alone – although I share the space with my children, I know that one day it will be all mine. It is my safe space and my sanctuary.

This is a deeply empowering fact that I don’t take for granted. I am grateful for my ability to provide for myself and my family in work that enriches me, and helps me grow and learn every day. It is also work that allows me to enter ‘the zone’ aka the flow; a place where we are lost in our endeavours. I am grateful for this state as there is no more rewarding career than one that allows you to connect with this energy through whatever means is your calling.

I am also grateful for the reciprocal love, warmth, listening, and sharing of my friends and immediate family.

That may seem obvious but in feeling gratitude I can’t go past the most observable source, which includes the people who I spend the most time with day in, day out, week in, week out and in some cases, year on year.

There are many other aspects of my life I’m grateful for, including my good health. I’m also working on being genuinely grateful for my physical body (without succumbing to the notion of myself as a flawed and less-than-perfect specimen of womanhood).

I’m hopeful that shifting some of these unhelpful core beliefs and subconscious attitudes will also shift something in the type of relationships that I attract into my life.

And of course, you – dear reader.

I am grateful for you. I am grateful that what started out as dipping a toe in the waters of experimentation (never having read a blog before, much less followed dozens!), close on 9 months later I have a solid following and much more importantly, a genuine feeling of community channeled via blogging and specifically, WordPress.

In 2017 (September to December), Unleashing the Cougar achieved 4,547 views from 1,251 visitors, attracting 433 likes and 409 comments.

In 2018 (to end May), Unleashing the Cougar achieved 8,055 views from 2,492 visitors, attracting 596 likes and 562 comments.

Highest all-time views were in March and April 2018 with 1.9K each month.

The top 4 countries to view UTC during these 9 months were United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, with surprising numbers in France, Germany, the Netherlands and India.

In 2018 (to end May) I have written 41,229 words or 22 posts, and in 2017 (from September), I wrote 46,423 words, or 36 posts. I have long posts on average, because I tackle meaty subjects, and they sit around the 1800 word mark. And UTC has gone from zero to 264 followers in these 9 months – for every one of these people I am honoured and thrilled.

Thank you again to everyone who has read or commented on this (still) work-in-progress blog. Thank you to the women and men I have ‘met’ and collaborated with, some of whom have become my first blogger friends – and one I have even met IRL!

As always, I am grateful for feedback, suggestions and opinions, especially constructive criticism because that’s how we learn and grow.

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Eve Lawrence 

Interview with my blog’s second follower!

About Sensuality, Sex and Something Else

Welcome to Unleashing the Cougar! I’m so excited to have you as my second follower, and I was thrilled to find out that you’re an Aussie in the US. Want to give us some background or a blurb about yourself and your blog? I read your first post from July 2016, so I’m guessing you’re a seasoned blogger now!

Haha!! I wish I was a seasoned blogger, sometimes I still feel like a newbie! I’m glad you found my blog. I have been reading yours and you have some really informative posts.
As for about me… hmmmm, well the boring version would be that I am a British born Aussie living in the United States but my favorite description of myself is that I am a fun loving, slightly quirky, batshit crazy self-confessed nympho who discovered at the age of 50 that chocolate is not better than sex after all!!

My blog?…well it’s kind of like a stepping stone into my batshit crazy adventures, it might not be for everyone because I like to swear…a lot!! and I talk about shit other people tend not to mention in polite company, so if the word orgasm makes you blush, probably not for you!

So, why did you start your blog? I find it pretty funny and I get the sense that your readers identify with your exploits and sense of humour. Reading the background and the early posts was a bit of a shock to go from the current frivolity to discovering your history of abuse and sad or controlling, unsatisfying marriages.

To be totally honest I really don’t know how I decided to write my blog. I just knew that there was so much going on with my life that was fucking with my head, and that I needed to write it all down. I find writing very cathartic and initially I was just going to do a private blog for myself but while I was getting it all set up I had the option for public or private and I thought, “what the fuck, let’s do it!!”

And my history, yeah it was pretty shit. I have tried many times to write a book. Firstly, I’m not even sure people would believe all that could happen to one person; there is just so much adversity. Secondly, I kept getting bogged down in the doom and gloom of it all. I’ve discovered with my blog that I have a knack for writing in a humorous and witty style, which I did not know was within me so I began my book again writing in the same style and voila, my book is almost done!

SEX, SENSUALITY AND SOMETHING ELSE implies an interest in two related topics – what is the something else? And why did you start at 50 – and is that age significant? I love the way you share about your previous sexual desert and the sudden focus on sex you felt somewhere over the Pacific Ocean! I also loved the reference to your 77 year old mother suggesting you buy a dildo (clearly she didn’t know about vibrators!)

Haha, my mum has no clue just how naïve she is, bless her little cotton socks!! She tried reading my blog once before I edited out all the pornographic bits, oh boy that was a mistake!!

Sensuality and sex – so, all my life I have had sex; there was no sensuality involved. It was just straight out fucking, some of it rape. When I turned 50 after eight years of abstinence some little switch in my brain fired up and all of a sudden I was obsessed with trying sex. After some false starts I did get to try (proper) sex and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life…discovering that if you couple sensuality with sex you get something amazing!

The something else, that is a little more complicated. There are other things that come along with the online dating world, some of it can be fucking brutal. I wanted something in the title that would give me the opportunity to discuss those things. At first I thought the something else was going to be self-esteem but I soon discovered there were other things, self-actualization, substance and so much more!!

You’re a sexy older woman, obviously, but are you a cougar? What do you feel about the cougar mythology or stereotype? I enjoyed our discussions with Christine Feminist about clothing and your right to dress for yourself in a way that you find appealing. I love the way purple is your favourite colour – have you noticed that a lot of women over 35 love purple? And just between us, are we the only women on the planet right now who are not that keen on facial hair?!

To be honest with you I don’t give a shit about labels or stereotyping. If someone wants to call me a cougar, have at it! I really don’t give a rat’s arse! I will have sex with who I want, when I want and I do not have to answer to anyone except my own inner bitch and I am getting better at telling her to shut the fuck up! My own personal limit is that I will not have sex with anyone younger than my oldest child. Mostly this is because I still have some body issues. Fuck, I’ve had three kids and I am 51 years old, I don’t need to be waving my saggy bits around in front of hot young men.

Personally, I think one of the problems is that once a woman reaches between the age of 45 to 55 she is in her sexual prime. She has very few inhibitions, no screaming babies to take care of, so sex does not have to be put on the back burner. Men, on the other hand, once they get to that age they’re not as virile as they used to be and sometimes need a few days between sex to recoup, (though most of them will deny it till the cows come home). I have experienced it TOO many times to know it is a fact! So, given that I could have sex every day of the week three times a day and most men my age can only have sex three times a week, it’s not really compatible. So sometimes to get what you need, a girl may have to look a little younger!! (And facial hair! What’s the deal with that? Although Mon Capitaine does have facial hair, which he keeps very neatly trimmed, and I actually like it on him!)

I’m surprised that you dived straight into dating sites and didn’t do any research – hence the endless sites that pretend they’re free but really they give you nothing for nothing. Over time I’ve learned about the genuine free dating sites (filled with fuckwits and ads on the whole) and I haven’t yet paid for one. A year on, what can you share about your dating sites discoveries?

I was too fucking jetlagged to research anything. Honestly, all I wanted to do was find someone who could speak in complete sentences to have sex with. I had no idea of the journey I was about to undertake. I learnt a whole range of new terms from FWB to ghosting. Who the fuck knew all that existed? I only used three dating sites: Zoosk, paid, it was okay. POF, paid was my favorite and I don’t mind the paid feature but it is not necessary and I probably won’t pay when I go home to Australia. Match, biggest crock of shit I ever used, paid for it and still thought it was total crap. I did try Ok Cupid but took that off almost right away, too many Nigerian scammers!

My biggest piece of advice is to be very clear on your profile what you are looking for! Be warned if you put on your profile you are looking for a booty call. Don’t be surprised if someone starts the conversation with ‘when are you available to fuck?’

I love the way in your blog (especially the first couple of months) you share a lot of personal vulnerabilities and history. As you do this you become human and real to your readers – how has it felt for you to be able to do this, and share these parts of your intimate life?

Writing about and sharing my experiences is what helped me to grow and learn on my journey. Despite the fact that the first 50 years of my life mostly sucked arse I consider myself really fortunate to have been on this incredible journey. I have had some amazing experiences. It’s through this journey, and discovering my own sensuality, that I’ve been able to rebuild my shattered self-esteem and finally become the person I was supposed to be and not a product of child sexual abuse and domestic abuse. Many people think my blog is simply a sex blog but it’s not. It’s a journey of self discovery and if my story helps one solitary person towards rebuilding their self-esteem, that would be awesome!

Your verbatim dialogues with guys on dating sites really are gold. How has your journey been from so much tolerance a year ago to now?

I’m a lot wiser now and even though it’s been quite a few months since I’ve been on dating websites, I discovered there’s this little bitchy side of me that loves to play with douchebags. I’m sure I will be back on dating sites when I get home to Australia. I’m kind of looking forward to fucking around with those who deserve to be fucked with.

How do you think your journey has changed you? I was fascinated to read of your phobias and foibles, especially shoes! How has that been affected by your tumultuous year of change?

I am nothing like the person I was 18 months ago. Like I said before, I finally feel that I am the person I was always supposed to be and not the product of my abuse. I am far more confident in so many areas of my life and I am learning to get rid of all of those phobias that were part of my survival strategy as a survivor of abuse. Not only have I had to deal with some form of abuse most of my life, I also have the challenges of undiagnosed sensory perception disorder and possible OCD and Autism spectrum disorder. This last year or so of growth has helped me to overcome many of my challenges. Up until the age of 50, I would not eat a single cooked vegetable and I refused to try ANY new foods. I had a very limited palette and mostly ate chicken or tuna salad. Now I pretty much try anything and incredibly, some vegetables are now my favorite foods. A person can achieve SO much when they decide to be brave! And let me tell you, it really was a conscious decision to Be Brave.

I like the way you have been so honest about your excitement on discovering sex at 50 and wanting a lot of it. I think a lot of women feel that way after long-term relationships end – like the kid at the candy store. I’d love to hear more about your recollections of that time.

Most of my problems in the early days were related to my struggle with my own morals and what was forced into me over the years about what is appropriate behaviour for a woman. I think my battle with this is what made my journey so interesting. I do not think the human race was ever supposed to be monogamous and we tend to live by OLD Victorian principles. I have my own personal analogy called ‘the stale bread analogy’. The short version is that when you first buy a loaf a bread, it’s lovely and fresh and you just want to keep eating it, but after a while you have to do stuff to make it edible, like make toast or French bread, until all you have left at the end is breadcrumbs.

Relationships are the same. As time goes on you need to get creative to keep it interesting. You have three choices: you can pitch the breadcrumbs and buy another loaf of bread. You can use the breadcrumbs to make new and varied dishes. Or you can use the bread crumbs to make the same dish over and over again. Most people keep making the same dish with breadcrumbs because it’s comfortable and familiar. Some people do it for years and they are happy with that. I don’t think I will ever get to breadcrumbs, I think I will always want fresh new loaves of bread on a regular basis!

The first disturbing story that triggered past trauma really had me feeling sick and worried for you, also pretty disgusted that you had to go through that, and even that men like that exist. Over time, have you managed to find any ways to screen out the perverts/undesirables?

I wish! Although I am nowhere near as naïve as I once was, I still think I’m probably too trusting. My friend Louise thinks that’s one of my biggest challenges. It’s probably a good thing that I want to keep seeing the good in people… it does get me into fucking trouble though, which is why she is Louise and I am Thelma!

I totally identify with the rollercoaster analogy and how your early experiences made you lurch from one extreme to the other. A year on, how do you see that first 6 months dating again, and how do you feel about your life now?

That first six months was the greatest roller coast ride of my life. While there were a lot of parts that were not great, on the whole it was a magical, fantastical adventure. I’m actually excited that when I go back to Australia I get to start the adventure all over again with ‘fresh meat’ lol…Fuck I don’t believe I even said that! As for my life now, I fucking love life with a passion that I have never before experienced. I enjoy every waking moment, even those ones where I am filled with self doubt or bored or even puking my guts up, because I am LIVING. For the first time in my life I am LIVING!
It might sound corny but most of my life I’ve felt like it was somebody else’s stage play. I was just a character reading the lines given to me. I did not feel involved in my audience or what was going on with the script, I just followed the story line. Now I integrate myself into everything I do. I no longer just read the lines, I adlib, I take the script, rip it up and write my own. This stage play has no fucking script and I get to choose what the story is about.

I’m so glad you wrote a fair bit about the love bombing/crazy mad texting leading up to the meet/sex and then the come-down after that. It really is an unsettling pattern in online dating and I was disappointed to read that it happened to you so many times after sex, despite such affirming feedback from your partners. Your honesty in describing your fears was really touching, and I like the way you named them. Is the blog being anonymous a major part of this ability to be so honest? Do you know any of your readers in real life?

When I started the blog the ONLY people who read it were my family and friends. Awkward much LOL. It honestly started off anon and was always supposed to be that way, particularly as I work for a fairly major financial corporation and at times have had over 100 staff. Now I no longer have those staff and many of them have watched the changes within me over the past 12 to 18 months so they have shared part of the journey. A good number now read and enjoy my blog.

The other thing is that when I first started the blog ‘Jad’ was my pseudonym because it was a name I have always identified with. As part of my journey I needed to embrace everything that was about me, which included adopting the name that signifies so much. So now my anon pseudonym is legally my name.

I still try to keep is somewhat anon and I do not put it on my facebook page mainly because I am going to be job hunting in Australia and this can either go wildly against me or wildly in my favor.

Thanks so much to Jad for sharing not only her intimate, touching and amusing stories via her blog, but also for her candid responses to my fairly thorny questions. Please feel free to comment on any of the topics raised.