Courage Fulfills: The Many Rewards of Mindful Exploration

It is not quality vs. quantity, but instead quantity and quality.

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John and Jackie Melfi are blogging friends of mine over at They are also fellow Open-Swinger lifestylers that I not only respect for their sex-positive view on life and relationships, but also for their sound, understanding help they offer singles and couples curious and/or exploring the Open-Swinger lifestyle… or perhaps couples/singles doubting what they’ve been taught about love, intimacy, sex, and a truly fulfilled and wholesome life.

This week’s blog-post is “Ask John & Jackie: Pros and Cons of Open Relationships” and the email they chose to share is a really great example of a woman curious about the possibilities of a different lifestyle. A lifestyle of endless riddles-with-rewards and strong, lifelong friendships. Jackie’s response to her is superb and reflects her many years of wisdom with her husband John and living the lifestyle for years. What is just as intriguing is the woman’s list of pros and cons. From the blog-post…

Dear John & Jackie,

Hi! I’m enjoying your videos so far. I wanted to share my story and ask some questions about the swinger lifestyle.

I was raised as a Mormon, which is a fundamentalist cult-like strict faith. It is sexually shaming and suppressing unless you are married, and even then, there isn’t much openness and experimentation emphasized. I realized the church was a hoax and left, but it took me until I was 28 (I left less than a year ago).

I am now in a relationship of about 6 months. He is my first sexual partner. My viewpoints on all kinds of things have evolved radically since I left the church, and continue to. Some of those things had already evolved for me, such as — I saw absolutely nothing wrong with gay marriage, which was prohibited and discouraged in the church. Obviously I see nothing wrong with sex outside of marriage I’ve surprised myself with how much I’ve opened my mind.

One thing that I’ve started thinking about more, which I would never have considered previously, is threesomes and open relationships. We have joked about it, but I kind of started thinking about it more seriously and doing a lot of research. He has always been curious about trying an open relationship so that he could know whether he even liked it or not before writing it off, but none of his girlfriends would have been into it. I seem to be okay “thinking about it” but I’m afraid that I’m just fooling myself, and that it would not go well, or it would ruin my relationship if I tried it out. Here are my fears and my pro-cons. Perhaps you can offer some insight, but I am coming from a very different lifestyle than most people who become swingers. I’m at the VERY earliest stages of thinking about it.


  • I can try more sexual partners (since I’ve only had ONE), which will bring me more experience and pleasure, and teach me more techniques to please my partner
  • Having more partners wouldn’t mean I have to end my relationship
  • I firmly believe in freeing your partner as much as possible to be themselves and express/fulfill themselves. I’d never considered it on a sexual level until now, but I’ve thought more and more about it.
  • I may feel less jealousy or suspicion, because we would communicate openly and he wouldn’t feel a need to sneak around behind my back.
  • I wouldn’t worry about my partner cheating (which currently is a fear! 😉 )
  • I may feel more love and acceptance of all people (especially women)
  • My partner may be more satisfied and content in life
  • I will be empowered as a woman
  • I will more fully overcome my upbringing of shaming and suppression. Instead, it will be about total authenticity and embracing my beautiful sensuality. I have already had to heal from that and it’s a work-in-progress.
  • If I get married, we will never reach that breaking point where we’re struggling and feel the need to get out and date because we’re sick of each other. Instead, we’ll have been proactive about that.
  • It may increase the level of our trust and communication
  • For both of us — that magic of first meeting someone and feeling the chemistry never has to fully disappear. We’ll always have a craving for that and now we could have it forever.
  • I would never need to look on jealously at someone who had a more freedom-based relationship or as myself if I should have experimented with it.
  • I like talking to him about his past relationships. It helps me digest them and not see them as a threat.


  • I don’t know how to date. I’ve never dated outside my church until now, and certainly never been intimate with someone I wasn’t dating.
  • I didn’t even really like dating before. It was tiring and painful. Of course, for me, it was more about looking for a life partner instead of having fun; this type of dating might be more fun!
  • I am an introvert, and my partner is much more gregarious. He would have a much easier time finding dates, and I would be more likely to be reading a book at home feeling depressed that he’s not around. I know it’s not a competition, but I would feel like he was the only one benefitting if I couldn’t get dates. I find it very easy to ignore people in public, but he loves looking at women, engaging with people, etc.
  • No idea how the logistics work. Like… is our house off boundaries? Do we rent hotel rooms? Their place only? How do you find people to date?
  • He might fall in love with someone else.
  • I might fall in love with someone else.
  • I will continue to age, and he will date younger and younger women, constantly comparing me. I feel like the double standard would just be even more emphasized in an open relationship. Am I wrong?
  • I am pretty open minded but do feel some jealousy when my BF flirts with/checks out other women when I’m present. He doesn’t do it intentionally; I can just tell when he’s attracted to someone else and is more engaging with them. I worry that my jealousy would eat me alive!
  • I’m afraid at failing (being a bad lover, not being able to come etc — this is a legitimate concern because I just barely became sexually active! As I’m healing, I can be hard to please and vulnerable)
  • Our relationship might fail
  • It may make me feel like I’m not satisfying him
  • I am already going through so many changes. This might shock my system.
  • I like knowing that my partner and I have no STIs. Adding more and more partners to the mix seems like tempting fate.
  • My entire LARGE family is married and monogamous and quite conservative. None of them watch porn (or if they do, it’s underground and considered “sinful”), none of them would ever consider cheating or they’d get kicked out of the church, and they would be extremely judgmental to learn of that lifestyle. It would require a lot of either hiding, or facing constant judgment and shaming. I’ve already dealt with so much of that just from leaving the church. They are not embracing of my lifestyle even as is.
  • It’s hard for me to fathom bringing other people into such an intimate part of our lives. Sure, I can fantasize about a threesome, but I feel like I rely on the privacy to be comfortable and trusting in our sexual encounters.
  • We might give it a shot, and one of us may decide to live that way the rest of our lives, and the other won’t like it, which will tear us apart. If we’d never tried it, maybe we could have prevented that.
  • Our relationship is a cradle for my vulnerability. Will that go away?
  • Even though I enjoy my untethered life after the church, there are still little things that resonate with me, since it was my entire world view for my whole life. The sacredness and specialness of marriage between two committed partners still resonates with me. Maybe I need to give it a shot, but it just feels a little wrong for me. The same way I can appreciate homosexual relationships but don’t have a desire to engage in one. How do you take the first step?

Anyway I’ll keep reading your posts and watching your videos and checking out other articles online. I am certainly curious about this lifestyle, but I’ve seen some people hurt by it before, and I’m coming from a very different background. I’m not sure it’s for me. I apologize for the LONG email but hopefully it will be a new and interesting perspective for you, and maybe you’ll have some insights for me. Thanks, and cheers to great, honest, authentic relationships! Xoxo


Voliere Wire BirdcageJackie’s reply is simply fantastic, but probably more importantly is her encouraging approach while also being empathetically understanding — Jackie too is from a deeply religious background. I encourage you all to go and read her entire reply here.

This was one of my favorite parts in her response:

I have had my share of people in the lifestyle ask me about the fear of John falling in love with someone else. My standard response is, “I don’t have any control over him falling in love regardless.” Look half the marriages in the U.S. end in divorce and this is the monogamous standard! Keeping ourselves or our partner in cages, does not protect us from a relationship ending. this is why I am purposeful in my thoughts. I don’t spend my days worrying about what I might lose, instead I focus on what I DO have. The beauty in what I have right this moment with John. This loving with an open hand and heart, I have found (at least in this relationship) to work almost like an oxymoron. The more open my attitude about our relationship, the closer the relationship seems to become. The funny thing is though, that this closeness isn’t on purpose. I’m not giving freedom in an attempt to keep John, nor is John doing it to keep me. We have simply come to see that this is a natural response to this kind of love…a bonus!

Not giving freedom in an attempt to keep John, nor is John doing it to keep me.” When I read this sentence I imagined two symbolic images. The first image was a ship like the one above in the header, but not at sea. It was tethered tightly to its pier, never or rarely to become what it was meant to be. The second image was a birdcage without a door. There was no need for a door. The bird’s sheer beauty was found in its flight as well as its rest.

How will the ship and its crew know and learn what they are capable of finding, of handling if they do not leave port or journey out of the harbor and out of their home sea? How can a Bird of Paradise be fully appreciated (loved) if it is kept behind a locked door or even a door which is rarely opened?

Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote a very popular poem most of us are familiar with, but I want to add my own personal touch at the end:

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all,
Or the most.

I am certainly not advocating reckless abandon. We humans are not one of the planet’s most intelligent creatures for nothing. Trials and errors have taught us plenty to keep moving forward even after setbacks. Successes are lifetime memories, failures are merely opportunities. Do not let fear stifle what awaits us all. Have courage to fulfill your curiosities and experiences beyond your imaginations. Try. Keep learning how to fail better each time. Eventually you’ll become an expert at exactly what you were always meant to be! The more the better.

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Since I Was A Boy

Several years ago I lived in an apartment no more than a mile from a suburbia airport north of Dallas.  It is the home of a vintage flight museum I have visited countless times and volunteered two or three times just to touch and be near the famous warbirds.  Like a boy loves his dog or a little girl loves her favorite doll, I marveled at the history, pilots, and flying machines of World War II.  Some days I would utterly frighten my son and daughter by suddenly dropping whatever I was doing and run out the door as fast as I could.  Seconds later they would hear what I already heard.  Sometimes the windows and knickknacks on the mantel or shelves would vibrate.  Turn your volume up as loud as is appropriate to get the full effect and play this 30-second clip:

My kids would chase after me, sometimes out of breath because I would keep moving around in order to see as much sky as I could watching the spectacle arrive and depart.  “How can you always tell the difference between modern planes and the old ones!?” my daughter would ask.  That is amazing!” as she shook her head bewildered.  As I have gotten older, been to many airshows, and gotten more informed and educated on EVERYTHING World War II Aviation, a few of those traumatic surprises would start with pumped adrenaline, then goose-bumps, and then tears.  My son, always emotionally connected to me since his first breath, upon seeing my tears would ask “Why are you crying Dad?”  And this is how I would describe to him my joyful tears.

* * * * * * * * * *

I love almost all of the WWII planes whether they were combat or cargo, they all had a vital importance to the war effort.  Their pilots were some of the bravest heroes under the most extraordinary circumstances.  All of our veterans from any war or combat service are and will be heroes.  However, if I had to choose just one WWII plane to love most, I know exactly which one she would be.


The P-51 D Mustang

If you are not aware or cannot remember, at the onset of the Second World War the Allies were grossly unprepared to fight Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan.  Both Axis nations had a big head start in fine machinery and experienced well-trained pilots.  In the first 24 to 30 months of combat, most air battles were won by Germany and Japan with much better maneuverable faster planes and better pilots.  Losses due to combat or dogfights were often staggering for the Americans and British.  Plain and simple, the German Messerschmitts and Folke-Wulfs, and the Japanese Mitsubishi Zeroes were flat-out better machines.  Any high-ranking general will tell you every time, if you don’t control the skies, you either will not win or you might win but at astronomical losses in men and materials.  In 1942 and ’43 the war in both theaters was very uncertain for America and Britain.  The Germans controlled the skies over Europe and the Japanese controlled them in the Pacific.

The Allies desperately needed an edge in the skies!

The primary reason Great Britain thwarted Hitler’s Luftwaffe (air force) in the Battle of Britain was because of their Spitfire and Hurricane pilots.  Spitfires could handle the Messerschmitts while the Hurricanes could take out the bombers.  The problem was that Britain could not quickly replace losses; both in planes or pilots.  The Spitfire housed one of the most superb engines ever built:  the Rolls-Royce Merlin V-12.  The Americans had a few good fighter-designs but most of them at the time were under-powered and couldn’t match the high-altitude performance of the German engines.  Finally, with British ingenuity and American manufacturing, emerged a single fighter-plane that would change the course of the air war in Europe and the Pacific…

The North American P-51 Mustang.

You might ask how can just one fighter plane change the course of a war?  Simple, the P-51 D Mustang saved thousands of American bomber crews from their deaths.  From 1942 to early 1944, American bomber losses were intolerable because the bombing raids required deeper penetration into Nazi Germany.  In the Pacific air war, vast oceans with few islands also required long-range aircraft.  The Allies had no such fighter plane capable of escorting bombers all the way to their target and back until the P-51 Mustang.

Not only did the Mustang, with its high-performance high-altitude Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, match and exceed those of its enemy fighters, but it was also highly maneuverable and lethal in the hands of a good pilot.  To put it in perspective just how much the P-51 Mustang changed the air war, the survival rate of American bomber crews in Europe prior to its introduction was 1-out-of-3 crewmen killed from 1942 to late 1943.  After the winter of 1943-44 when Mustangs flew escort, the survival rate rose to 67% after 25 missions flown, then 81% by 1945 and the end of the war.  The P-51 Mustangs were quite literally their knights-in-shining-armor for bomber crews, or “Angels on our wings” as many bomber pilots and crewmen would describe.  The Mustang helped turn the tide of war and bring it to a quicker end.

That is the historical impact of the Mustang.  Now I want to describe from a boy’s perspective the emotional impact of this gorgeous mighty bird.

Leave it to Steven Spielberg to capture the moment perfectly how it feels for a boy.  His 1987 film Empire of the Sun starring a young Christian Bale, tells the story of a small British boy fascinated with flight and “the brave daring pilots” of the Japanese Zero fighter.  He gets separated from his parents in Shanghai, China at the outbreak of war with Japan.  Though his captors are brutal to him and his “new” British prison-family, Jim (Christian Bale) worships the Zero pilots and their magnificent planes throughout the first half of the war.

After they are moved late in the war to an airbase to build a runway for the Zero fighters, Jim hears rumors about a new fighter plane called the Mustang, the Cadillac of the Skies.  He eats breaths and reads everything he can get his hands and ears on.  I relate completely to Jim’s obsessions of flying and the machines these brave pilots fought in.

And then one morning while paying his respect and admiration to the Kamikaze pilots and planes, Jim’s whole world and those of the planes and pilots he worshiped so long are turned upside down.  Apologies that this heart-wrenching scene is broken up into two clips – blame YouTube!

It is hard to put into words how the flight, the speed, the beautiful lines of a P-51 looks and feels to a young heart.  There is no other sight or sound in this world like the air being sucked into the intake whistling at a high pitch as it dives toward you, and a second later the reverberation of that V-12 roaring by as it climbs away at over 4,160 feet per minute!  “Go P-51…Cadillac of the Skies!”  As Jim screams, “HORSEPOWER!

Since I was a boy I have always dreamt of flying in this mighty magnificent warbird.  To feel the immense rumble of that Rolls-Royce Merlin engine supercharged and forcing me back into my seat.  That would absolutely be one of the best days of my life!

For a few very lucky months the software company I use to work for had their offices at the end of the runway.  Every two or three weeks the owner of the flight museum and the P-51 D Mustang would take it out for some fly byes.  On one particular occasion he throttled it out on take off.  Just over halfway down the runway he had enough airspeed to lift-off and put this beautiful bird into a 35-40 degree climb with ease, banked it, and then leveled off about 600-700 feet at cruising speed.  It seemed effortless.  I thought to myself, so that’s how it must have looked and sounded back in 1940’s Europe and China.  Imagine if you were Japanese or German what it meant watching the Mustangs fly by and listening to that whistling horsepower.  Imagine how it felt if you were British or American back then:  finally, the beginning of the end.  Wow!  I still get chills up and down my spine every time I hear that distinct engine and watch it zip from one horizon to the other.

Some of man’s creations are works of beauty and timeless.  Today my son no longer has to ask why I have goose-bumps and tears watching famous warbirds; he gets it…just like I did when I was his age.

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