I Want You to Thrive: How to Use the Submissive Playground “Tracks”

january-subplayAs a Dominant, my job is not to teach you how to submit—other submissives and your own inner wisdom holds techniques and tips for that. (That’s why the course has fourteen guest educators who are mostly switches and submissives.)

My job as a Dominant is:

  1. To create a space for your submission to walk into and feel held, safe, and able to deeply explore.
  2. To set you up with rules to follow, protocol to practice, and goals to meet that are reasonable, clear, and manageable. I want you to go away from encounters feeling awesome, strong, bad-ass, energized, well-used, respected, and maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll both feel a little bit transformed.
  3. To keep checking in to the Big Picture of our mutual goals, and keep tweaking our rules and protocol so that we are doing the best we can to move closer to them.

In Submissive Playground specifically, my goals for the submissive “players” who participate in the course are:

  1. To have fun! To identify and suspend some of the judgment we’ve accidentally absorbed about what “real” submission is and what it means to submit well, and to instead dive into myriad ways to do it, and figure out what works best for us right now.
  2. To do experiments with our bodies (and hearts and minds), to “collect the data” from the experiments, and to keep moving forward.
  3. To connect with community and witness the many ways a D/s path is possible, and to support each other in the different ways that we pursue these arts.
  4. To support you in identifying your “growth edges,” the places you’d like to transform and learn and grow, and to offer resources on your journey. (And to identify some of my own growth edges, too!)

These goals, and this premise, is what the whole Submissive Playground ecourse is built on.

The content in Submissive Playground keeps growing. This is the third time rife & I will be doing the course, and this time I’m adding Maisha Aza and Axe from the Masocast as guest speakers. The guest speakers who have said yes and provided videos so far are primarily white and cis women or genderqueer folks, so I have some particular perspectives I want to make sure to seek out and include. It’s great to have the full course and now be able to hand pick more contributors who have different identity backgrounds.

(I am still specifically looking for submissive-identified folks who are people of color, of any gender, though I do particularly need more perspectives from cis men and trans women. If you are this or know someone you recommend please let me know!)

So the material is vast. We have guest videos from FOURTEEN PEOPLE, we have porn to watch, erotica to read by Jeff Mann from the Daddies anthology and by BB Rydell from Say Please and Kathleen Delaney-Adams from Best Bondage Erotica, we have technique articles by slave david stein, we have an audio interview with Raven Kaldera.

But that’s just the beginning!

In the course, there are also many other ways to interact and get value.

1. The Materials

That would be the dirty stories, how-to articles, and porn that I’ve already mentioned. It’s all the things to read and watch and interact with, the graphics rife has made, a custom-made Lust Language quiz, plus some BONUS materials when rife and I had too many good materials not to include.

2. The Experiment

This is the “go do this activity” part. There’s one per module (and four modules total—Bondage, Discipline, Service, and Masochism) and it’s the thing that you go try out in your life—there are ways to do it with a partner or by yourself.

3. Submissive Journals Homework

The journals part of the homework is thoughtful written responses to #1, The Materials, and #2, The Experiment. It is kind of like discussion questions in a class, a series of questions to get you thinking about and interacting with the materials and your experiment in a deeper way. This has been a big hit for journallers, folks who are into self-reflection and self-examination, and who like writing.

Doing #3 kind of requires that you keep up with #1 and #2, at least in part.

4. All-Player Live Video Sessions

This is the “live” part of the course. All the participants, plus me and rife, meet up every other week throughout the course to talk about all the #1 Materials, #2 Experiment, and #3 Homework, and to share our stories of discovery with one another. This happens in Spreecast, so there’s a chat function and you can come on video (but only if you want to) and talk to me and everybody in the course. These have been so very fun! They have set dates & times:

  • BONDAGE: Saturday, January 31, 10-11:30am PST / 1-2:30pm EST / 5-6:30pm GMT
  • DISCIPLINE: Thursday, February 12, 6-7:30pm PST / 9-10:30pm EST / 1-2:30am GMT
  • SERVICE: Saturday, February 28, 10-11:30am PST / 1-2:30pm EST / 5-6:30pm GMT
  • MASOCHISM: Thursday, March 12, 6-7:30pm PST / 9-10:30pm EST / 1-2:30am GMT
  • WRAP-UP: Saturday, March 28, 10-11:30am PST / 1-2:30pm EST / 5-6:30pm GMT

And they are all recorded so you can go back to them and watch them later if you aren’t able to miss the live calls.

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Oh wait! Let me tell you about The Star Chart!

Throughout the course, Star & Mentor Players have access to the Star Chart, which is a place to keep track of the different pieces of the course and what you’re consuming. It’s like having your own sticker chart on the wall where everybody can see how you are doing your chores.

5. Submissive Community

This is the part, more than any of the others, that participants have said was really life-changing. Making connections to folks on a similar submissive path from around the world has been amazing! Friendships have been born and connections have been made. I firmly believe that identity explorations are easier when there’s a community context, because you have not only support but also many representations of how this particular identity manifests. In the course, we have a chat during the live video sessions, there is a message board available for your perusal and in-depth conversations, and you’re hooked up with a “subby buddy” with whom you can dive in and converse more deeply about the course.

6. One on One Sessions

Last but not least, the individual sessions track of the Submissive Playground course is where you and I get to dive deeper into your particular journey with submission and offer some support around whatever your growth edge is. One session is included with the Star Package, and FOUR sessions are included with the Mentor Package (which is why it’s called the Mentor Package, cuz you get some significant mentorship for your D/s path over eight weeks). Anybody in the course can add on additional sessions for a reduced rate, though, so just contact me if you want one. (Note: I’m not really doing 1-1 work with clients this year, instead I’m focusing on teaching and ecourses. So this is a great way to have some 1-1 time with me!)

Oh yeah, and rife is also limitedly available for sessions. After watching his videos in the course and hearing him speak about submission, you might really want some support directly from him and his brilliant submissive theory.

And that’s pretty much the course!

So if you’re not sure you have time to devote to a course, my suggestion is to check out the various contents, decide which one or two or three you are going to prioritize, and leave the rest behind. Sure, you can dig in to them if you find yourself inspired, but you will know you are totally on top of your commitment to the course when you finish up the work for your Track, and you don’t have to feel guilty about not doing more.

Because hey, I don’t want to add to your endless to do list! You’re busy! And you should be out making money and getting laid and changing the world for the better, I don’t want to get in the way of that kind of important stuff.

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Plus, many subs are the A+ student type.

You don’t need to put that kind of pressure on yourself on my behalf. You can still get TONS out of this course even if you don’t do half of it. And, you can always download the materials after the course if you want to keep them and do them later!

Maybe your work or home schedule is such that you just can’t make the All-Player Video Sessions, for example. That’s okay! You can watch them later, or you can skip them altogether and dive into the materials yourself. (Sometimes I give a context or some content in those video sessions that I am encouraging us to explore during that unit, but you can do it on your own.)

Does that all make sense? I want this experience to be exciting, fun, and energizing for you, not a drain or an extra obligation. And rather than dropping off mid-course because you aren’t caught up, what if you set lower expectations on yourself and then felt AWESOME when you completed them? This is recreational, for your growth and pleasure.

I want to set you up to succeed, and to thrive.

Ask Mr. Sexsmith: I’m a sub, but my partner is not a dom. What do I do?

This question comes from Marie:

“My partner and I have come to a difficult place in our relationship. I have long since had the desire and urge to be dominated, to be somebody’s submissive, and to explore the world in its entirety. My partner, however, has no wishes. I’ve sat down with her and tried to explain what it meant, what it meant to me, and what it would mean to our relationship, but she says she can’t bear to hurt me (even if I enjoy it). I’ve been the dominate one, so to say, in our relationship, and I know for a fact that she would never consider me seeking a dom or have an open relationship. I love her, but I’m unhappy. How did you first address all of this? And is there anything else I can explain to her before I have to make a decision? I really want to explore this, and I want to with her, but she really has no budge room, and I don’t want to make her uncomfortable.  All in all, I’m really confused and at ends.”

….. I have one more thing to add that I didn’t say when I recorded the video yesterday, that is whispering to me now that I’m re-reading your question.

Marie, you wrote: “I really want to explore this, and I want to with her, but she really has no budge room, and I don’t want to make her uncomfortable.”

And here’s the thing. You want to explore this with her, but she doesn’t want to explore it. You want to push her a little, because you are very attached to doing this with her specifically and not opening your relationship to some sort of non-monogamy (which is totally understandable!), but you don’t want to make her “uncomfortable.”

But: let me remind you, sweet pea, for a moment, of your own discomfort. You are uncomfortable by not having the kind of D/s relationship dynamic that your secret heart-of-hearts craves. And there is no reason for her discomfort to be more important than yours. Yes, of course, her discomfort is important and consent is important—I’m not trying to say that she should do it anyway and you “win.” But what I’m trying to say is that you have a clashing of needs here, and you two are going to have to figure that out.

You want something. She doesn’t want it.

There’s so many ways to sugar-coat that, but that’s the simplest core of truth.

It’s totally okay to have different wants or needs in a partnership—that happens all the time. What is important is that you two come up with a way to talk about these different needs, be they around sex, or D/s, or monogamy, or what you make for dinner that night, or whether your parents come stay for a weekend, or where you go on vacation.

It’s extra scary to talk about, because it’s sex and extra dirty kinky stuff that you may still have some internal shame or guilt about. Do you have that? Ask yourself, for a brief quiet soft gentle moment: Do you think you should be able to have this deep want? Or are there things in place between you and that want that make it even harder to ask for, to advocate for yourself around?

I mean, if it was … a new car that you wanted, or a puppy, what would you do then? Would you think of those as “legitimate” wants, whereas this is a scary, shadow, selfish want? (I’m just guessing—maybe that’s not how it feels for you.)

I guess what I’m really trying to say is, YOU DESERVE TO HAVE THIS. And it sucks that she doesn’t want to do it with you. That really sucks. I’m sorry. There’s nothing wrong with you for wanting this, but you two might have come to an irreconcilable difference, if she a) won’t allow you to explore it with anyone else and b) won’t explore it with you.

So now comes a very difficult decision on your part, which is precisely why you’re asking me this question: Is your desire for this greater than your desire to be in this intimate, monogamous partnership with her?

Ask yourself that gently, with kindness, as if you are your best friend asking yourself this. It’s okay if the answer is no. It’s okay if the answer is yes. It’s okay if the answer is “I don’t know.”

I know for me, no partnership felt right until I had that D/s dynamic. It just didn’t. As much as I loved them, as much as I wanted it to work, it didn’t, until I had a power dynamic in place. I don’t really know why. For whatever reason, that’s my fetish, that’s how I’m wired. That’s what really makes me pleased and happy and satiated. Sometimes, for me, the love itself—though it was good love and beautiful love and important love and growing love—was not enough.

It sucks that sometimes love wasn’t enough. But it’s true. I needed more. Maybe you do, too.

Got a (different) question?

I’ve got a full inbox, but I love hearing your gender and identity and sexuality puzzles. What’s on your mind? Ask it here! And I’ll do my best to email you when I answer it.

Remember, Sinclair does one-on-one coaching!

I hope my thoughts give you some places to start. If you’re still stuck, remember, I do one-on-one coaching sessions, and I would be very happy to help you with resources, experiments, ideas, support, or just talking in depth through this process. Contact me for more information and pricing.

Comment Zen …

Readers, do you relate to Marie’s question?

If you do, would you share your own story about being in a relationship and not getting the kind of power dynamic that you wanted? What kind of resources helped you on your journey? Books? Anything to recommend for others who are going through this?

Leave your story anonymously if you like; your email address will not be published, and if you don’t want your usual “gravitar” picture of you to show up, just type “+sugarbutch” in your email address (like [email protected]) and I’ll know you want to be anonymous.

And there’s more …

If you want to explore your submissive identity even more, sign up for the Submissive Playground summer school! Registration closes June 30th.

Masocast podcast features … me! Also: Fancy Package on #subplay!

I’ve been spending most of my time lately working on Submissive Playground. It’s kind of shocking to me how much time it’s taking to set up—I didn’t have a very realistic sense of the time involved on the back end. The past two days, I’ve spent close to 10 hours writing the main course landing page, and today, rife has already spent at least three hours designing it.

And that’s not even the curriculum! That’s just the copy describing the curriculum.

The course is getting close (pre-course materials launch in ten days!) and so I’m spending a lot of time thinking about submission, writing about assumptions, getting clear on what I want to know from the Players, and strategizing learning styles and games and tasks and fun things for people to do in the course.

I talked to an old friend from New York City, Axe, about the Playground and also my breakup, and D/s and M/s, and what it’s like to have left New York, on his Masocast recently. You can download it or stream it here:

The Masocast is community-run, so go donate to keep it going strong. I think Axe is an excellent interviewer, and a deep thinker about lots of kink things. This is my fourth time being a guest on his podcast, all the old ones are still available to download & stream too.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my motivations for putting something like this together, too. It was basically rife’s idea, and we brainstormed about it and bantered about it for a few hours before massaging it into the concept as it currently stands.

I think a big part of wanting to explore submission with people deeper is from the ways that the D/s in my relationship with Kristen went badly. The last two years, both as she and I were struggling to improve things and in the year since we split up, I have helped many people sort through their own struggles with D/s, and I know my perspective on these topics have really helped them come to a better place. In some ways, I don’t have a lot of range, having had only two major D/s partnerships, but I have a significant amount of depth in my studies of D/s.

And, when I floated around an idea of a Dominant course, the interest of learning to dominate from a dominant wasn’t as great as practicing how to submit with a dominant. I’ve been moving away from the me-as-know-it-all-teacher style of teaching anyway, so this experiential workshop is a good start to that.

Amazingly, the Star Player packages are sold out!, and I’m considering adding a few more slots to let the folks on the wait list in. (Want in? Email me, [email protected]) I allotted time in my calendar for three Fancy Players, who would meet with me every week, but those aren’t currently full …

Which brings me to …

There are still slots available for people who want to be “Fancy Players,” aka The Super Star Package. This package has some special things in it! The major thing, and the reason why it’s more expensive, is because it has FOUR one-on-one sessions with me included in the package, one during each week of the course.

Here’s what you get:

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  • Four 1-on-1 sessions with Sinclair (via Skype or phone)* — $500 value!
  • Customized Submissive Playground dog tags*
  • A letter to your current or future dominant, outlining your strengths and suggestions for further training*
  • A paper certificate of participation, mailed to you
  • Submissive meditation worksheets
  • Weekly tasks/assignments
  • Erotica to read!
  • Porn to watch!
  • Tasks for and feedback on your personal submissive journal
  • Weekly all-player sessions to discuss your experiences with the current topic of study

* Exclusive to the Fancy Package

Go ahead & sign up!

If you’ve already signed up, you can upgrade! (Or, perhaps your partner or Sugar Daddy or Sugar Mama or Sugar Butch (haay! See what I did there?) or Sugar Femme or WHOMEVER would want to upgrade you as part of your dark-time-of-the-year holiday gift? Have them contact me!)

Alright … I’m off to pack (no, the other kind, you pervert), and fuck my boy and probably go to the grocery store to bake cookies so we can be all ready to catch a plane tomorrow morning. We’ll be spending the next two weeks with family, and off on a retreat by ourselves.

All you Submissive Playground Players: I’ll be in touch!

Everybody else … thank you, for all of your wonderful support and comments and shares and clicks and for reading this year.

Where I’ll Be in Spring 2013: Leaving Marks, Fucking Forever, and Other Workshops in Toronto, Seattle, New York, and More

Greetings from Texas! I’m back in Houston visiting Rife, and I’m booking working traveling emailing and trying to get my next few months of spring travel solidified.

In addition to doing workshops and classes at colleges and toy stores, I’m available for private sessions in any of the cities that I’m visiting. I finished a year-long training in 2012 to see people privately for sex and intimacy coaching, and as you can imagine my specialties within that include BDSM, topping and bottoming, power exchange, D/s, gender explorations, leather, Daddy identity, and … well, basically everything that I write about here. I’m glad to tell you more about what those sessions are like or what I’m available for, and if you’re interested in booking time with me when I’m in one of these cities, contact me and we can talk about it, mrsexsmith at gmail.com.

More information about my private coaching sessions is available over at mrsexsmith.com/coaching.

Of course, I’m available for individual and couples sessions—sex and intimacy coaching—via Skype or phone, too, but doing it in person is a lot more fun.

Here’s where I’ll be in the spring as of now:

January 9-16, TBA, Houston TX
January 11, Sex Out Loud Radio, 5 pm PST/8 pm EST on Tristan Taormino’s radio show on The VoiceAmerica Network. Call in to talk to me and Tristan LIVE: 866-472-5788.
January 17, Advanced Cock Confidence, Wild At Heart, Seattle
January 18, Talking Dirty, The FSPC, Seattle
January 20, Leaving Marks, Wild At Heart, Seattle
January 25-27, Celebrating the Body Erotic II for Women, Body Electric Retreat, Albany
January 31, Queer Porn TV #pornparty! Free! Three scenes that I’m sure will be hottt.

February 4, Leaving Marks class at Conversio Virium, Columbia University, New York
February 7-10, Feminist Politics of Topping at the IvyQ conference, Yale, New Haven CT
February 14, Guest speaker at the 50 Shades of Grey course at American University, Washington, DC
February 15-17, Protocol in D/s Relationships, Talking Dirty, Fucking Forever: Sex in Long Term Relationships, Write Better Smut at Dark Odyssey Winter Fire, Washington DC

March 1-3, Celebrating the Queer Body Erotic for all bodies workshop, Body Electric, Philadelphia
March 7, New College of Florida, Sarasota

April 4-6, Feminist Porn Awards, Toronto
April 7-9, Queering the D/s Dynamic, Talking Dirty, Cock Confidence at Come As You Are, Toronto
April 10-11, Sex Week at University of Tennessee Knoxville
April 18-21, International Ms Leather Contest, San Francisco

May 15-17, Celebrating the Body Erotic for Women, Body Electric workshop, New York, NY
May 23-26, Saints & Sinners Conference, New Orleans

Woah crazy right? I’ve never been to Florida so I’m especially excited about that one, I’m going to be judging the IMsL contest so I can’t wait for that adventure, and I’ve never been to the Feminist Porn Awards! So many firsts and exciting things in the works.

I’m still booking more places and filling out my schedule in the next few months. Want me to come visit? Get in touch and give me ideas about where I should pitch!

As usual, you can subscribe to my events/appearances feed through RSS or through iCal. And it’s all online at http://www.mrsexsmith.com/appearances/—that’s the first place that gets updated when I get booked, so you can always see my most up to date schedule there.