Mr Domestic and The Arts and Crafts of Self-Soothing and Discovery

This week’s episode was a joy to record and features crafting expert Matthew Boudreaux, better known as Mr. Domestic. He’s committed to creating an inclusive online community that bridges cultural gaps through quilting and crafting.

Matthew shares his journey to rediscover his love of crafting and how it helped him manage his anxiety, panic attacks and how he even uses it to self-soothe. Plus, we speak about how having a child helped him understand what had been lost when his family asked him to reject a core part of his identity. And how the experience led him to rediscover crafting and helped him embrace a part of himself that had been dormant.

Show Notes

Welcome back to Laid Open podcast. This is your host Charna Casell. And my fabulous guest today is Matthew Boudreau of Mr. Domestic he learned to sew as a kid but the antiquated binary gender expectations of his parents got in the way of him pursuing it. Shortly after his daughter Helena was born in 2013. His spouse bought him a couple of sewing classes. And with his kid as his muse and inspiration, the quality and coolness of the stuff he made far exceeded anything that he thought he’d ever be able to create with his own hands. Mr. Domestic is a fabric and pattern designer sewing instructor owner of his new online sewing school so you and hands down his favorite thing about his entire journey is the truly inclusive Mr. Domestic community that’s been created by all of its members. Welcome Matthew life is about to start is. Brand new so glad to have you here.

Thank you for having me. I’m super excited to chat with you. This is gonna be awesome. Yay. Absolutely. Yay. That’s what it’s all about. For me. That’s why I do all of this as for other people that just feel included that maybe felt overlooked before. So yeah, right on, I just don’t want anyone to be forever feel how I felt as a kid. So that’s my, that’s, that’s what my adult sadness is about.

And how did you feel as a kid, I mean, were you made wrong for having a love of sewing and it was outside of that, quote, unquote, gender norms.

I was made wrong for everything, like horribly abuse, physical, emotional, mental. I’m a queer man, formerly gay. But I recently came out as asexual once I discovered that more, but I was different. Like they noticed I was different. So I did not receive support. They it was one of those things, they didn’t want to talk about it. Very homophobic outwardly. So yeah, I was I was taught that I was wrong. And not welcome. And I grew up in Texas, which is different than where I live now. So I thought that was I thought that was how the world was that I was just not worthy. Not good, not valid. And I didn’t realize people thought and felt like I did. And there’s a lot of us, I didn’t realize that until I left Texas, and my 30s. So yeah, that was that was very powerful, and opening up my realization that I wasn’t flawed. Yeah, actually pretty awesome. But that was I had to spend about a decade sorting through some trauma. And now it’s like I’m living my best life. That’s what I really love, Mr. Awesome domestic. Is, is not only that, you’re creating that community for other people. But you get to see you’re like, not only am I there’s just one of me, there’s 500,000 people that are in support of you being you, and spreading love.

That’s crazy. It’s so beautiful. That’s It’s so surreal. And it’s crazy. And now it’s like it’s over 600,000 This is growing really fast. Which is not what I ever expected. I never expected that once I stepped into myself and love myself fully. I didn’t let anyone anyone else impact me that once I really did that stood on my moral authority. I know what’s right and wrong, and started speaking out on stuff. I would have my younger self. Hell, my 30 year old self never would have thought I would ever be doing that. Yeah, people would love me for that. That blows my mind. It’s weird. I will never be able to wrap my head around that because I so counter to what I was trained as a child,

Right? It can be so disorienting when you when you experience something that goes against a core belief that you marinated in as a child. Yeah, right. Like you’re spoon fed it you’re marinating in it, you’re like, Okay, this is what I’m supposed to believe this is all there is to see. And then suddenly you’re doing something so different.

Yeah. It’s so interesting. It’s so interesting now living my own life and just paving my own way and doing my thing.

And how was that for your kid? I’m so curious. She loves

It’s amazing. Like she’s growing up. My spouse and I talked about it because my spouse had a similar upbringing to me, but it’s like, we always it’s so interesting watching a child grow and unhealthy environment. Yeah. And like what that’s like and how she shows up. And it’s an unintended consequence, but it helped heal a lot of my own trauma, realizing oh, I wasn’t the one that was wrong. Wow. Unconditional Love is the easiest thing I can give my kid like that so easy. Nothing’s gonna get in between me and my kid. That’s what I’m supposed to do as a parent. Well, once I realized that I was like, Oh, wow. Not only did my family get it wrong, but a lot do out there. So let me be the opposite of that. And let let people like me know that they are actually right. Right. The other people are the wrong ones.

Well, there’s, there’s so much I mean, when I picture you, in your family, as a child versus what you have cultivated for your kid, I just picture Wow, your parents must have been really, really fearful. To not be able to offer unconditional love. And it’s really heartbreaking.

Clearly, clearly, it was very much hurt people hurt people situation. But yeah, they just did. They didn’t have it themselves. They didn’t have a for each other. They sure didn’t know how to like, share it with their children. So yeah.

And what have you been able to do? To be as fearless, right to bring less fear and more love into your life into your heart and into your orbit?

The most dramatic thing that I did, I think a lot of us have done that the past couple of years is we all discovered people in our worlds and circles that weren’t a match. And so once I sifted through a lot of that, and eliminated a lot of toxic relationships that I protected. Just because I thought that that was my job. I always thought if I just did did more and extra that they wouldn’t think I was flawed being a queer human. So yeah, that’s that’s how that’s how that direction went with all of that.

And you’re your partner. Are you still together that you raised? Yeah, we’re together, you’re still together? Yeah, yeah,

When we got married together, we were a same sex couple. But then we’ve been together 20 years now my, my spouse is non binary. And so I started calling them spouse instead of husband. And to navigate all of that, here you go, I love it. And so I’m really curious about this, because I’ve encountered this with other with other friends and other guests how social media has actually because it can, it can appear like the superficial thing out in the world. But it’s also this remarkable resource, especially around gender and sexuality and identity and understanding certain things. Because young people, right, there’s all this language that they brought in. And, and it can be so liberating. And so I’m curious about that as it relates to your spouse and to you and your identities.

Absolutely. Like, I’m gonna say a bunch of cheesy stuff. So just get used to it bring out one of the one of the earliest things that I learned or discovered that was contrary to what I was trained was that I’m not supposed to tell my child who they are. Like, I’m my child’s guide, I’m here to help her become the best version of whoever she is, whatever she wants to do, not to put any of my I mean, of course, if she got into crafting and wanted to be Little Miss domestic, I would be excited, but also be equally excited as she chose, like soccer or like, I don’t know if video games just something that’s powerful. So when I realized that the relationships actually the opposite of how most parents do, like they’re there to teach us. That’s what they’re there to teach us and to open our minds and open our eyes and to allow us to experience things from a perspective we never did. And since we love them unconditionally, we’re forced, we’re forced, if you’re a good parent, forced to change your thinking, to allow it in. But most parents don’t do that. So then that’s, that’s everything. I realized that now. It’s like, look at the kids. The kids are the ones that are saying now, there’s not just this or that there’s actually like a whole like smorgasbord variety of who I could be. And that made me look at myself a little different. I never thought that I would re re look at my sexual orientation or gender. I never thought that I came out when I was 17. I had been gay. I was happily gay. I love saying husband proudly. I have like gay pride flag stuff everywhere. But then, actually, this is what happened. Yeah. And I’m a fabric designer. So I designed a pride collection last summer that I did exclusively with Amazon and fabric.com. And I had 30 prints. And I did a bunch of gender prints. And this is like quilting cotton for people to be able to make clothes and cotton and stuff. And I learned so many different ones. And I was like, Oh, this is what the kids are talking about. So just in my own Learning. I was like, Oh, I’m actually not that. I’m this. And whenever I realized I was this, which is asexual, I was like, everything makes sense. Wow. I was a lightbulb moment. Because no, I very easily could have been. You know what? Oh, that’s silly. I come on. That’s silly. But I was like, no, let me really explore this. And it just opened my mind. And I look forward to like, at least half a century more of learning like this from the kids.

Yeah, well, and it’s, it’s a beautiful thing when two partners can work through a transition. There’s so many different kinds of huge life transitions that happen. And you know, a gender change, or shift or sexual orientation shift. All those things are just one of so many huge things that occur. Right? Yeah. I’m curious if you want to share any more about that.

Yeah, absolutely. It was a struggle for me. At first, because my ego was attached to the identity of being a gay man. And being in that same sex marriage I fought for I was one of the pioneers. We fought for it, we got it that that was that was a part of my identity. And I just, I kept thinking about it from my my lens, how it was impacting me what that meant about me. It was all very me, me, me in the beginning. Then I realized I was like, oh, because I mean, I’ve been in therapy for a while. I love it. I’m learning stuff about myself all of the time. I was like, Wow, this isn’t about me. This isn’t about me. It’s about my spouse. It’s about the person that I married that I love unconditionally. Okay, let me learn about it. Let me explore it. And then easy. I mean, it’s challenging. Sometimes I slip into the old pronoun still, and it’s been years, but I’m trying and it’s just it just really cool. And it’s empowering and powerful for myself to watch them really lean into their truth. Mm hmm. Like to see that with someone you love was inspiring for me to lean even further into mine, to empower others to lean into theirs as well.

100% I just got shivers. I don’t know if you gotten to listen to any of my other episodes. But there’s an interview I did with a man named Raj. And he did listen to it. It sounds like the opposite. But it’s the same. This, you know, this piece that’s so beautiful, which is, gosh, people give up on relationships over a lot less, you know, and this piece around your identity, like being able to have a flexible enough identity that you’re not so overly identified with something that she can’t keep loving somebody. And then the piece of like how one person’s authentic self expression can inspire you to step more fully into yours. I just really love Yeah.

Initially, when I was going through the struggle, there was a point when it could have ended. It could have, but as I was processing that I was like, No, I see myself growing old with this human. There’s no other human I want to do that with. I don’t care what our relationship looks like, it doesn’t matter to me. I know that when the rest of my life, I want this person next to me. So I was like, Oh, yeah. And I always knew that we had this weird unconditional love thing from the get go, no matter if I went up and down. They went up and down all of that there was always unconditional love that Yeah, yeah, it’s pretty, it’s pretty cool. It’s pretty cool.

Well, that alone is massively significant. And I’m so glad you you found someone that you have that with given when your primary caretakers are not loving and not validating and and are rejecting it can feel so scary and impossible to imagine someone else can love you. So the fact that you’ve found someone and there’s that level of of consistent connection and attachment is profound. And we’ve been together since I was 24 or 45. So it’s 21 years, and the stuff we’ve been through Like honestly, the I would say the PERT the first decade and a half. I don’t know how they stayed with me because we both unleashed our trauma on each other. That’s how we were that’s how we were showing what love looked like. Yeah, that’s how that’s what conflict looks like was escalating fights, etc. But now we work through our stuff on our own. And then saying go to a place where like, Yeah, let’s recreate this. Let’s recreate whatever this is going to be in our and what we want what’s best for us. It’s just really cool knowing that you have the power to do that.

That yeah, that is that’s super empowering and inspiring. And I think that you know, we haven’t even gotten into your crafting stuff but but you really mean like, this is this is a part of it. This is a this is a part of like, look what I can, you know, create with my own two hands, my heart, my brain and how has it gone the other way in terms of their ability to be with you and your shifting identity around being asexual

That in itself. That was pretty much a nothing burger. Yeah, I was like, okay, whatever. But like me stepping more into activism and advocacy and speaking out on social justice, etc, my, my spouse is a person of color. And I was that person I was not. I’m gonna say it. No one says this anymore. That woke white person. Right? They thought that they were good that I was doing it right. I didn’t have any way to grow, I was good. But during the pandemic, especially gave us all time, I really leaned into cracking my own biases, and growing something they had been trying to get me to do for the number of times I was told to get out of my white feelings by my spouse, because in the 1000s, and it hurt every single time, but they stuck with me, because they knew it. And then now I broke through and I’m like, Oh, my gosh, I knew nothing. Every one if you’re listening, you don’t know anything. And that in itself was like a Wow. But dot dot growth that I did for myself. Not for them. Yeah, not for I’m trying to be like, Look what I can do. I don’t talk to them about it. I don’t I don’t ask them how to do things. I do my own work, because you don’t lean on someone of color when you’re trying to advocate for them. Yeah, that journey. Wow. Our relationship is the closest it’s ever been. And I see them and they see me and like I really want to show up for them. And it’s just, that’s cool. It’s cool. Like you have to do individual work. Oh, yeah. On yourself when you’re in a relationship to grow together?

Well, there’s so many different kinds, right? And just because you’ve like, quote, unquote, worked on something, you know, there’s also this piece of like, okay, you can tell your story, but has your body told your story? And there’s, you know, yeah. It’s so cute. I saw you in a video doing that. What, what, what, what Matthew just did was touched his O’s. And I do that too. Like, I’ll do that with him by sessions in therapy.

We’re twins, we’re just your twins. I love it that, like you were pooping ourselves. Okay, back to what was the train? Oh, yeah, I remember that. There are so many different kinds of work that we can do on ourselves. And I was saying, like, you know, we can also I’ve seen this with clients, right? Where someone will be like, had no experience to rape. And they’re like, oh, yeah, no, no, I, I was in therapy for that I, you know, I told that story. Versus it’s like, okay, well, how things can still live in the body beyond verbally tell? 

know. Absolutely. That’s, that’s the steps, you got to process and you have to be intentional with it. And there’s a lot of like, having that that visceral physical reaction as you normally would. But then you have to stop yourself and check and be like, That’s not happening now. Like, even on myself, you would spoke on it and open about my own. I had been sexually assaulted a dozen times throughout my entire life, that I thought that I was the problem. And what was wrong with that too. But now I understand and understand more in my asexual identity that why people thought I was more of tre because I’m just kind and I don’t have an agenda to why unkind to people but people mistook that for something else not to but see there, I am putting the blame on myself, it was because I was because they were bad. But I have to check myself a lot, like with certain situations, and be intentional when I go into spaces to make sure that I’m like, if this happens, or this happens, or you feel this way, you need to remove yourself. And it’s been over a decade, decade and a half since another way that I would like to just reframe that is you know, when you’re a kid and you’re growing up in an environment that’s abusive, and it becomes safer to not be home to not be in your body. And so then you become an adult. Yeah, you know, who’s not in your body. And so, when people are predators, or offenders, they are looking for people who are not showing signs that they know how to protect themselves, they either see a freeze response in you, or they they see a collapse in you, or they see a niceness or a light it could just purely be a beautiful light that they want to move towards you know what I mean? And so that’s not bad on you. That’s your nervous system. You know, in some habits that might have showing

Oh, thank you. Thank you. Oh, thank you. They wanted my light now my light is for all everyone else my lightest for all of the good people and not for them.

Yeah, well and it does it really takes a lot of training to to be able to protect yourself and if if that was trained out of you as a kid, then why the hell would you know how to do it as an adult. Right. You know?

I mean, I only recently discovered by boundaries a few years ago. Oh, wow, these are amazing. I love them, which resulted in me no longer having a relationship with like 95% of my biological family. Well, there you go. Yeah, that’s what needed to happen. So

have you read my grandmother’s hands? Kind of bringing, bringing the conversation back to racism? And so there’s, I really think that you would appreciate this book and by reso, Manickam. That’s about white body supremacy. And it’s so it’s genuine somatic is have you Yes. Matic approach. Okay. Yes. Attic therapist. Okay. And so as he and and so that there’s approach to looking at how racism, systemic racism impacts, not just people of color, but white people in the level of, you know, on a body based level, and how having a certain kind of having the privilege that we have, as we’re both white people, because you can’t see us, right listeners, right, unless you’ve actively done the work to untrain, that that power, dynamic from your system, we’re walking through the world in a certain way, and impacting people in a certain way. And so it’s addressing how to work with systemic racism on a somatic on a body based level, not just on an intellectual.

That sounds very powerful. That’s, that’s right up my alley to I’m sure I buy exhibit it went unchecked. If you don’t know what to look for. You don’t know to look for it. Like when, Your Honor, yeah, yeah, in public, but that’s occurred in my relationship. And I never understood that just the ownership of our body, even the ownership of their body that I feel like that is very much ingrained at all of this. And so I am very much wanting to read and look into that. That sounds powerful.

Yeah, you know, along those lines, it’s this piece of, you know, so first, as trauma survivors, there’s a way that children and who become adults then often will shrink in their own physical skin, and may take up less space to be less of a target, just in the way that so that’s like developmental trauma, but then there’s social trauma, right? So racism, or homophobia is a form of social trauma. And so, you know, it’s like that piece of how visible can I be? How much can I embrace visibility and be safe in the world? Right?

See, mine, mine has been to do the opposite. Actually, a survival technique for myself has been to get larger, I’ve definitely wanted to be healthy. But something happens once I’m at a certain way I used to model and so that was really traumatizing. For myself, I was really lean. After I quit, quit drinking alcohol, I focused on fitness for a while. So I was lean moved to Los Angeles. excetera. But that, that makes me feel protected. When I’m, I’m bigger, I feel like I’m not going to get hurt. ever larger, I’m not as attractive. I thought. So there’s this psychological thing that happens to myself when I hit a certain weight when it gets too low, that I just bounce back up. And I know that that’s the trigger for it. But it’s like, Wow, interesting,

you’re touching on multiple things, which is really important. So I was thinking more just like on an energetic level, or like, a really big person cannot be visible, right? You suck in around your bones, or like, you’re like, Hey, do not see me or like a really tall kid will curl over and write and try to not be as tall and and so what weight does weight functions as like a blanket on the body to dampen down the emotions and sensations so we don’t have to feel ourselves as much, which also means we don’t have to feel fear, and we don’t have to feel all that. But then there’s there’s also the reality in our culture of like, really, like larger people become invisible. Yeah, you know what I mean?

They do sadly. Well, that’s another bias to check. Yeah, there’s so many biases to check and different forms of privilege for sure.

Yeah, so there was something else I was gonna mention about that book, but I don’t remember what it is. And you know, I know that he he also offers courses in case that is of interest to you have any listeners, there are courses that are being offered that and you can check that out as well online. And I can give you that info at the end of the of the recording and put it in the show notes.

I love them. Yeah, oh, let’s do this together. Do it.

Because you’ve got all your listeners out there. Right? Yeah, that’d be awesome.

A movement, a movement. I mean, that was actually one of the things I was really curious about because you care about diversity and creating crafting and making this community welcome to everybody. And I was curious about things like quilting as ways of breaking down biases and an opening minds right so like if there’s some some older white woman in Texas who discovers you and wants and thinks you’re a great resource around quilting What are some stories that maybe you want to share about people in your community that have seen things in a new way, whether it’s people of color, straight people, fundamentalist Christians, like who are the people that make up your community?

Like my my community is, it’s an amalgam of a full rainbow of people. The only people that are not welcome in my community are people who have racism, prejudice, bigotry, homophobia that’s unchecked, because we all have, we all have it. But if you’re gonna come to my community unchecked and not want to have that conversation about checking it, you’re not, you’re not welcome. But originally, when I first got into Mr. Domestic, I didn’t realize I was doing this because a part of my protection as a queer human, whatever, just as me myself, as I, my personality as large, it became that because it’s like, if I can be this and make you fall in love with me, then you’re not gonna, like, hurt me, or like causing harm. So that that protection came out, I was nervous, it was anxious, it was the beginning, I was getting affirmation on the internet, making a lot of brand deals, I got caught up in all of that. And it wasn’t until a couple years back, when I realized that I was when we all had a cultural awakening, I realized I put myself in the same situation that I had my lived in Texas, which was I was in a situation of a bunch of people that think they have the best of intentions, that are willing to tolerate me, not accept me. And that was, that was alarming that I was in that situation. And so I broke out of that. And not that I that’s not a part of me, that’s a part of me. But I was like, I need to show more of Matthew. And that’s when I leaned far into like advocacy and activism. And I just have to do it all of the time now. Because if I didn’t do it, someone’s gonna creep in and be in the corner and think they can assert their like racism, or homophobia, and, and for so that’s one thing that thick privilege like that does. They don’t realize, when I’m speaking about a certain demographic that’s not welcomed, that I’m talking about them. They’re not used to being excluded ever. So they just naturally think that they’re included. So that being my journey, I have a bunch of conservative white women that have been with me from the beginning. That never left. Because they’re they’re growing and learning from me. And I get emails all of the time, even cell from people who have stuck with me that are like, I am so grateful. I have learned about my biases. I’ve learned more about the LGBTQ community, I’ve learned how to step up for my trans child or trans grandchild, I don’t I don’t know what their political affiliation is. But the fact that I can make that kind of impact, I’m like, wow, so yeah, there’s a lot of dot open minded, conservative white women willing to learn and grow, said, and all I care about is respect. And then I have a bunch of queer followers or parents of queer people that don’t do anything with grafting that they dislike the environment, if you’ll say for them, I have a larger number of black and indigenous makers and followers just because I do a lot of work with them. So it’s, it’s the entire gamut, as conservative trumpets are not welcome. So let’s say conservative to a degree, all the way up to like leftist humans, from the age of 13. Up to 80. Like it’s a it’s this vast, vast environment and community of people who are different is all I can get out that just wanted to feel seen and be respected and be valued and loved. And that’s very powerful. It’s really cool. That that many people from that need backgrounds are down with that.

Yeah, I love it. And and thinking about crafting as a tool for bridging the gap like political, and I don’t know, potentially religious differences in value differences and having there be something that people can come together around and that you foster that.

Yep. Powerful. Yeah. thing that I’ve done on that level, was I did a conversion therapy map quilt. I did it two years ago where it was it’s a quilt of the United States. And the entire it’s a rainbow of states. Each state’s a different color going from a rainbow and then I sent it to a quilter who quilted it beautifully. They they typography things in the different states. It’s gorgeous quilting, and then I covered up every state with gray, where conversion therapy is still legal. Wow. And so I said know that all of the time wow, the how vast that that message has gotten out the people I’ve educated on that, that every time there’s a say it’s been a long time since it’s been banned anywhere, then I’ll make it a big to do and I’ll like, do alive and I’ll record myself doing it and make videos educating again, the power of that, like I’ve been on religious podcasts like a variety that have really appreciated knowing about that. And that showed me Wow. You can do a lot with a quill. And you can do a lot with crafting. There’s there’s a lot of different ways to bridge the gap, as you say. Yeah, yeah, I’m trying to find all those ways.

Oh my god, I love it. I love I feel that I feel the impact of that quilt in my body right now. I’m all like, Oh, awesome. Awesome. Yeah.

I would love to see that. I would I would love to see that. That that quilt sounds incredible.

Yeah, I’m going to work on a new one, which is going to be on the trans defense. You know, the trans defense where people can kill cause harm to someone who is trans and that becomes their defense and they get off, etc. That’s horrible. Oh, that’s not that’s gross. I’m gonna do it on that because that’s gross. Now I should be able to say I did this because they were gay. And that scared me. Yeah, I did this because they were trimmed. And that scared me now. Well, you don’t that doesn’t you shouldn’t go into a rage and cause harm to someone.

No, it’s no, that’s it’s insane. And there’s so many my friend is a lawyer who works a lot with women who are in prison for domestic you know, they were domestic violence victims, and then they like killed their abuser and they’re in prison. Yep. That’s, that’s legitimate self defense.

Yep. But I mean, not to say that where they’re living is great. But I’m hoping that where they are now is better than the situation they were in before. Oh, right. Guy suck. But like, I hope I hope at least for them.

Yeah, no, I mean, this is the that’s the unfortunate reality right now. Where are you? Where are you living right now?

I live in Washington State. Okay, right outside of Portland, Oregon. Yeah. All right. Yeah. So

I’m in Oakland, California and San Francisco, is close by. And it’s been the COVID has been really, really rough on the homeless population here. And you know, there are a lot of people with mental illness and drug addiction, who were in shelters and once with social distancing, and shelters closing and things opening like, you know, Pete, there’s just a lot of homelessness. You’re my other my other life. Yes, I work in HIV pharmaceuticals in the area. So there’s a lot of overlap with homelessness and mental health there. And they’ve been hit hard. Right. And so, yeah, it’s heavy. I’m like, wow, that’s sucks.

Well, what I what what made me think of that is just thinking like, yeah, here’s the reality, the unfortunate reality is that people in prison, if the if you’re if you’ve dealt with homelessness, because of drug addiction, or mental illness, like being in prison, you you’re fed, you have a roof over your head, and it shouldn’t be that way. And that’s all Unfortunately, the reality. No, and so, totally changing. I call it spinning the Lazy Susan Bennett spinning it back to you.

Yeah, Corvette? No. So I’m curious. I mean, you’ve answered this in a lot of different ways. Because clearly educating people and helping them evolve feeds you. And I’m curious about how crafting throughout your whole life has been a resource for you.

Well, sadly, I wasn’t able to get into it till later, because I wanted to. And then because I was a boy and my mom wouldn’t teach me my stepdad didn’t encourage it to that’s part of my story is that my spouse bought me a couple of sewing classes, right, a year after Elena was born. And she is almost nine. So it’s been eight years. This has been my journey for eight years. Never did I think that when I just started making clothes for my kid, because I wanted to connect with her making dresses and clothes, but it evolved into this. That’s this has been a wild journey. But yeah, it brings me peace. It’s an activity that I can do with myself with resources that I have to bring me into presence. And I have panic attacks. And it’s one of the things one of the tools that I have, I even have some activities that I can do. If I feel one coming on, then I can come in here and then like a straight line quilt, for instance, I’ll just find something and I’ll quilt it. Or I’ll just grab some fabric and I’ll weave it together. Anyone who follows me the reason I do a lot of those and you see a lot of videos like that, if you ever see one no, that that was the product of a potential panic attack. And that got me out of it. So it’s brought the eye it’s something that’s my own that I get to do I get to get lost. It’s positive. It’s something I always wanted to do. The fact that like, if you see my stuff I’m make amazing things. Like my stuff is amazing. That blows my mind to, like, it’s all about having this kid. That’s my inspiration that pushes me to try my hardest. It also that loves thing that people say when you make it really goes in there. So all of that combined, it took me to heights and this just as a side effect a symptom of me just being in my space, sharing it with people spreading joy. Yeah. But are people wanting to be a part of that?

It’s so good. You know what, what? So as I was a kid who, who made a lot of things make like clothes out of last tube socks, not for myself, obviously, but for adults. But you know, I was make art and sculpt and do all the things for like hours on end. And so I was lucky to to have that. That was one of the few ways I did feel really supported by my mom is she would just leave me to my own devices and let me make things luckily. But so as an adult, what I what I’ve come to learn as I’ve learned more about the brain is that what when you are in a whether it’s crafting, writing, making art, you’re in an alpha brainwave state, which is also what you go into when you’re deep meditation. Right? It’s called this is was noticed the zone and are totally brilliantly being guided to soothe. Like it’s a perfect response to Oh, talk. Yeah.

Okay, because that’s actually how it feels. Yeah, looks tired and just get into it. I’ve just set alarms for myself so that like, I can discover that I was recently diagnosed with ADHD also. So there’s that component of, of my reality. But yeah, it’s, this is this is my happy place. But really, it’s more about like, it makes you feel like that.

Oh, absolutely. Yeah. And you know, and I had, I was working with a Neurofeedback person, that’s one thing that you can do, and also in relation to ADHD as well. And what she could see in that brain map, she was like, there’s a, there was a when hyper coherence means there’s a lot of something and HIePRO is not a lot, right. So there’s a lot of hyper coherence around alpha, and she’s like, well, you’re either a master meditator or there’s childhood trauma. And your brain would anesthetize to a chaotic environment, by by by creating more of this brainwave, right? And I was like, well, both are true. But it’s again, it’s like these brilliant ways. We, as humans, we know how to take care of ourselves, and we know to do what’s good for us. We actually listen and I love that you’ve been listening, and you’ve created a whole identity and Career and Community around doing something that really resources you. And that’s been my journey as listening for coincidences ever since my sister passed away. She was my one source of unconditional love growing up, she passed away 14 years ago. And ever since then, I mean, that’s what I got into like metaphysical stuff and laws of attraction. I read the secret, manifesting all of that kind of stuff. I started paying attention. It’s like you can plan for life. But then it’s like life happens. So like, I would just take it as life happened. And that led me from going to someone who was an addict that didn’t have anything and control, no real direction, no really sense of family to manifesting and building my dream, Quinn, tripling my income living in my dream house, the story of how my daughter was adopted, I’ll tell you, because it’s it’s so crazy serendipitous, that it’s like she was destined to be my kid, live in an amazing supportive, it’s like, this was just me paying attention. And when opportunities came, I would show up. But you have to pay attention. And I started listening to my intuition. Yeah, this is all been intuition guided. I tell people, your intuition is the only voice that will never lie to you. But for some reason, we always think that it’s wrong. It’s never wrong. It’s actually telling you what’s right. But since this is a lovely story that I’d love to tell you about how my daughter was, was adopted. Yeah. So I live in the Pacific Northwest. I was getting my second master’s in business administration at Portland, Portland State, the one person that I connected with because most of the most of them were younger. They were younger. And this person was young, too. But she was she was mature. So it’s like we could we could connect randomly I get a text from her one day because I always would tell people I wanted to be a dad. I always knew I was supposed to be a dad. I know. I’m an I’m an I’m a badass dad. But I would always let people know. Yeah, I want to adopt one day when I adopted one day. I was getting older. It wasn’t happening. You said Were you serious about wanting to adopt a child? And she was the one person that was like, Yeah, I am. She was like, wow, I have someone that you’re interested. I was like, why? She was like, yes, one of my employees came up to me and told me that she was pregnant and would like to give her child to a same sex couple. I told her that that I knew someone if she would like me to connect y’all. And the reason that her birth mother wanted to do that is that she did not want to be a parent herself. But her aunt was a lesbian. It took him seven, eight years to adopt a child. And so she wanted to gift that to allow a family to become a parent, and she was two months pregnant. So we connected, we hit it off, it was such it was such a beautiful relationship. And seven months later, I was in the delivery room, cutting the cord. First person to touch her skin to skin contact. We were there the whole time. It was such a beautiful week after I’d never could have envisioned it being more beautiful. The birth parents had a room, we had a room next to them. We took care of her in the evening. And then during the day, we would just hang out and play games and do stuff. It was it was I could not envision a more beautiful way for a child to to meet their family and come into the world. But if anything would have been any different. I don’t know that I ever would have been a dad, and how it absolutely was supposed to be my child. She’s 100% My child, she’s a mini me. It’s crazy. But wow. And it was all because I paid attention. And I really knew what I wanted. And I visualized it and all of that kind of hokey stuff. It really works.

And you were open about what you wanted. Right? You spoke what you wanted. I did. And you can and you you were open to this kit. This this young woman who you became friends with, right? Like if that if you hadn’t been someone who is open to that person, right opportunity wouldn’t have had a doorway to you. Right? That Oh, I love it. Oh my god, I just I have so many clients who are struggling to have children and in a variety of different ways. And yes, the adoption process is so challenging. It is like we like wow, people are like it was a hard No, actually it didn’t fall in his lap. But it was just it was Yeah, yeah, it did fall in my lap like how babies happened. But yeah, we were so lucky. I’m so grateful for it.

It’s encrypted so hard. Yeah. Yeah. No, seriously, for queer families. It’s so hard. But we’re awesome. Parents. Anyone? I’m not sure about it. Queer people are amazing parents. Just so you know.

I’ve been thinking about, you know, in terms of COVID. Right, which are still in it, guys, because this started your, your community started? How many years ago?

Six, seven years, but really, I got on Instagram five years ago. Okay. Yeah, the reality is I, you know, people are stuck at home with less to, you know, entertain them outside of their homes less to engage in less physical, you know, exercising resources, etc, etc, perhaps stuck at home with somebody that they’re not happy to be stuck at home with who knows? The whole range, right? Did you see a massive upsurge? And yeah,

Absolutely. Absolutely dead. Because I mean, I’ve had, I’ve had lovely people, let me know that I don’t deserve the attention that I got. And I just love them for that. Because my response always is, absolutely I don’t, no one deserves attention from anything. No one’s entitled to it. But I’m getting it. So I’m doing the best that I can with the attention that I’m getting. Just just

Great answer. are like, you’re like a Yeah. So what was the question? I forgot, I forgot to say, tell it tell us more about this upsurge in in COVID. Yeah, my growth. It’s not something I ever expected. But I feel like, especially whenever, I mean, I’m still positive, to some people don’t perceive what I do as positive because I’m telling them off. But it’s like I positive with everyone else. But I feel like the space that I created, even though it was online was like the it was antithetical to what Trump created in America. And so people were looking for something positive, without a political span. And I was there and that was a big part, I think of why I grew. I’m approachable. I’m funny and goofy back then. I wasn’t talking about stuff. So yeah, a lot of people were there. But then the pandemic happened. And at the same time, I didn’t change gears. But I became, it became clear that the core of Mr. domestica is inclusion. That’s the brand, its inclusion. I do what I need to do to make sure it’s inclusive, not pretend inclusive, but truly inclusive. Wow, it exploded. It exploded. I went from a community of maybe maybe 100,000 120,000, to now 600,000 and growing so fast. I think the pandemic is a huge part of it. I don’t think this virtual stuff is going anywhere. I fully intend for my life to be a hybrid of virtual and in real life probably forever. That’s just how I perceive the reality of where we are. So yeah, this benefited because I knew how to do live teaching. I knew how to do live streams. I was equipped for everything that this moment took? Yeah. And a lot of people didn’t didn’t do that.

Right. It’s yeah, you caught the wave.

I did. I did. And I’m like, Wow, thank you. That’s so cool.

Yeah. Well, and there’s, you know, as a as a psychotherapist who had full practice for years before COVID. Like, this is not it’s not new for me, but the demand. And also, I don’t have anyone to refer people to all the therapists I know, in the Bay Area. And, you know, years ago, the statistic was something insane, like 83% of all therapists in the United States are located in California, because there’s all the schools are happen to be in. So, but I think a lot of people have moved to other places because of COVID. But the reality is in so that means that there’s fewer therapists and still people in need, but there’s, it’s just crazy. And I think that things like crafting, as we were talking about earlier, are really useful to help manage anxiety for a number of reasons. And one of the things that I see and I experienced for myself, so for me, it’s like, you know, I’ve made all the ornaments for my I had my first Christmas tree, and I made I made all these succulent terrarium, also. And I and then I was like, I was making a fairy house and I was making things for me is that space of the okay, there’s uncertainty in the world. And I may be powerless around this thing. But I can create and complete this thing right in front of me. Yeah,

That’s powerful to be able to do so. And one thing I add to people, especially if you’re new, but even if you’ve been crafting or sewing for a long time, yeah, I’m a 95. percenter, I strive for 95%. Perfect on something. Because that’s, that’s awesome. That’s a plus, though. And I really feel like that final 5% strive for perfection can potentially seal your joy. And that definitely makes me anxious. So I strive for 95%. And I’m all about the process. I want to make sure that like creating, I’m there, I’m present, I’m here. And so at the end, even if it’s not perfect, I had the whole experience, and I wasn’t stressed out trying to make it perfect. So yeah, I just if y’all have the ability, don’t don’t try to be perfect. You don’t have to be because you still made something and that’s pretty cool.

Oh my god, the perfection thing is also so paralyzing it, not only does it make often you make you anxious, trying to complete the thing, but it also can stop you from even starting. Yep.

That’s the thing. Yeah. A lot of people, that’s a barrier for them jumping into a lot of things is that it’s like not just jumping into it.

Mm hmm. No, that’s so good. And do you have a lot of recovering perfectionist in your community? Like have you taught them and

I have some 100 percenters? And I validate that they think that they find joy in that. And whenever they whenever they realize they don’t, I’ll be there for them. They’re always like, Oh, it brings me joy. And I’m like, I don’t think it really does. But okay, you go at it. You try for that. 100%. But yeah, I have I have created situations for these 100 presenters to experience the less than perfect and it’s i It’s eye opening and mind boggling. And you can see the thing things different when you realize you can do stuff without I even do certain techniques that it’s impossible to be wrong. Like there’s an improvisational piecing where it’s like, there’s no wrong way to do it. I like those where it’s like no matter what you do, it’s gonna be cool, right?

Yeah, like happy accident. Yes. Yeah. So I’m curious. Baca, maybe it’s been almost 20 years, but bitchin stitches. Did she know? Do you know what a Bichon stitches?

That’s when you get together and you stitch together and then you bitch about stuff?

Well, yeah. So I was I, at least for me, it was a big thing, like 20 years ago. And so I was curious about that. Like, given that this stuff is virtual. And I know, I imagine you’re teaching are you also doing a kind of Bichon stitch,

I am going this is this year, my team has grown. So this year, it’s a priority to do more virtual classes set up through me and then, like social hours, or maybe we can just zoom and like, chat and hang out, I’ve realized that for me to participate in inclusive things. I have to create them. Because for for me to ever feel welcome a lot of the spaces, especially if they’re in a church, it’s not very welcoming to the queer humans for the most part. So yeah, I’m gonna make it happen. I’m gonna edit. Like if these people don’t want to do it with me. I’m gonna manifest it and make it happen. So I’m building it.

I trust you. I trust you. Well, I I do not doubt your babies can fall from the sky for you. And you aren’t gonna have that picture. I’m doing it. And people are here for it. So let’s do it. I just it’s like I have a day job and I love it. So it’s like, I don’t want to like leave that because that that mission is really powerful. But this missions, this, this mission is pretty rad. And I created all of this. So yeah, it might be a time where I need to make that decision so that I can really devote more time to all of the wonderful things that we can do with Mr. Domestic. For now. It’s um, so it’s awesome. It’s cool. This is all so cool.

I love it. There’s so much joy in a number of my episodes, I have a best friend who who I have conversations with for so my friend Amy who also identifies as asexual, and, and a lot of what I’ve given Jasmine. And so I’m curious for you, because it’s a conversation that I have with a lot of my guests and I’ve had with Amy a lot, which is what is sexual freedom? And you know, I think it can absolutely include being asexual. Absolutely. And what is what is it for you,

I feel that sexual freedom is exploring yourself to learn what your desired sexual experiences are being open to don’t judge don’t judge what someone else wants to do. I mean, there’s separate limits, don’t bring in animals and stuff. But like, if you’re with consenting people, explore all the things do all the things me being asexual, I explored all the things to learn that that’s not for me, right. But had I not explored them? I would not have now. So yeah, that’s it just have the freedom to just do whatever you want to do. That’s legal, and consensual, and don’t judge other people for what they’re gonna do. Like, that’s lame. We’re all living our lives, trying to find out more about ourselves. And just because someone else has some kind of system in their world that doesn’t allow them to explore themselves more. That’s a problem. That’s your problem. Like, stop doing that and go explore yourself. So that’s my thinking of what sexual freedom as Yeah. And also, like, my orientation might be fluid. I don’t know. But this is where I am right now. Me having the freedom to say, You know what, right now? No, I’m not I’m not going to do that. That’s a part of that.

Right? Choice. Yeah, this is part of it. And then there’s also this liberation of a lot of time. I mean, first of all, when you’re in a committed partnership, you’re not you’re not spending the same amount of time if you’re a single person out there in the world trying to date and like, oh, boy, the amount of energy that goes to like, if you know, but, but there’s also the belief that in which you may be hip to your second chakra relates to your your sexual energy as well as your creative lifeforce energy, right and creative self expression and sexual self expression. And so I just imagine a lot of this energy that that is available in your second chakra, which is below your belly button is just like exploding in a rainbow of fruit flavors. In your creative world.

It is a part of it honestly, was me. Like, it all came together, I was moving in the direction of asexuality, but it’s like me realizing, oh my god, this sucks. So much energy is not a priority anymore. The amount of energy, it took affirmations, it was always transactional. For me like that. It wasn’t it wasn’t for me, but no longer having to spend so much energy like, I mean, I’m married. So it’s not like I did, but even the relation married relationships, you do. Wow, I have so much more energy to do to build so. And it’s really cool. And I didn’t realize that took up so much like the desire for sex, the pining for sex, the disappointment of not getting it when you want to all of that that took that would take up a lot of energy for me.

Right? Right, a lot of it, and it clean. If there’s something that got kind of cleaned up or organized or like, you know, less heavy in your system, when there’s a longing for something, then it’s not happening or you’re like, oh, okay, this loss. Cool. And one day, I might be like, You know what, I don’t want to build anything. I just want to have sex all day. Let’s do it, honey, and that, but I don’t know, that’s the sexual freedom of each of us. We get to make those choices for ourselves.

Right, right. Living in a level of fluidity and listening for what feels right now. Yep. Like, you know, I had a teacher, a Qigong teacher, which is internal martial arts, and he was a martial arts master and he lived by, by spirit, and what intuition told him and he would it told him that he couldn’t fight anymore. And or told him he couldn’t accept money for his teaching anymore. And he would listen and he would do all he would follow everything that he heard, you know, and so there’s a level of like, okay, so that’s, that’s happening now, and now it’s different. And how do I see Stay connected and the flow of that I mean, but really, that’s your intuition telling you like, hey, pivot, do this other thing. Wow. Yeah, we should all live like that. Yeah, it would be so beautiful. But there’s also another part of it that is you have to be a good person to, like good people, you can’t be a bad person.

Don’t listen to that voice in your head that tells you to kill little rabbit.

Yeah, not that not that. That’s not your intuition. So one of the things that I like to give listeners is a practice to engage in. So if there’s anything and you started to speak to it, and I obviously it’s a harder thing for everyone to do if they don’t have the resources and the tools and things. But is there are there any practices that come to mind that you’ve used, like, it could be a five minute practice, to help manage anxiety or soothe yourself or create or go into a creative flow, or even start to think about being a creative person? If you haven’t? Embrace that part of yourself?

Yeah, it involves me removing all of the stimulation that I can, I’ll even like I like to lay under the desk. And like, I’ll put on noise cancelling headphones, I’ll put on a mask. And I’ll just lay under the desk. Like, I don’t even know how much time I spend under there could be a minute could be an hour, I don’t know. But I just do that. And then I sit with myself. And it’s like, I always have a bajillion thoughts. And I just sit there, tell my thoughts slow down, and they slow down. It’s all about intention. being intentional. Boy, I’m overstimulated like that. Well, I just got to get rid of everything else. So I can just be there with me. That’s the practice. So it could be five minutes, I don’t know. Could be. Could be, it could be days.

What’s beautiful about that is that you’re actually turning towards yourself in you’re going. Okay, little stimulated one. I’m going to take you and I’m going to swaddle you in silence, and in take away all the stimulation and we’re going to be together. And this is okay. You’re okay. You’re like swaddling a baby.

It’s very much the healthiest self taking care of the traumatized little boy situation. Every single time. Yeah.

That’s great. That’s great. It’s good. It’s, you know, versus the turning away, which is what a lot of people tend to do, right?

I learned through work, just that I can take care of myself. I can. And I didn’t know that before. So it’s like I know that I can I have the power to look within myself. I used to always feel like there was this dark box of stuff that I just never wanted to reach into. And I never wanted to talk about, but I’ve processed and worked through a lot of that. And so that’s that’s the key to it.

Yeah, beautiful. Oh, it’s been so good getting to know you. I’ve really enjoyed this meet you. Oh my god, I could challenge you all day. To Fred. Take it out. Like for real? It was so lucky. This is great. Yeah, you’re superduper interesting. Really? What you’re doing is pretty powerful. I’m honored that you allow me to come chat with you.

I’m giving you a virtual job for everyone who’s listening. Let’s do it. Okay, I do this with people when I livestream or teach. Okay, everyone stretch your hands out when I and then okay, now wrap your arms around your dog when I count to three when I get to three squeeze 123 Yes, we’re all hugging each other. That’s a group hug see? A ton It’s good right now everyone I’m Rachel grip on well and so and and if people want to find you, Matthew, do you want to share any of your handles your social media your website?

I’m Mr. Domestic spelled out but it’s m i ste are not Mr. Because if you do, Mr. It’s a cat. And I promise you everyone I’m a real life human. If you search Mi s t r domestic. I’m on Tik Tok. I’m on Instagram. I’m on Facebook. I have a Facebook group. I have a Pinterest. I have a YouTube channel. I have an online sewing school called so you as in Wu Yan everywhere. I get around, because I only have so much time to spend on this planet and I want to spread as much joy as possible.

Oh my goodness. Busy busy bee Yeah.

So come find me everyone.

Beautiful. Thank you. Matthew shared with us how sensory deprivation is a way for him to calm his nervous system when he’s overwhelmed. Today for exercise. Let’s practice listening in for what feels good and soothing to us. Like Matthew You may need to create a quiet space under a table with noise cancelling headphones or perhaps in your closet or your car or lay down on the grass outside or in your bedroom with the lights off. slow your breathing down. By slowly inhaling through your nose, fill your belly till your ribs, press against your sides fully and slowly exhale through your mouth. You can rest your hands on your belly, feeling the rise and fall of each breath. Ask yourself what is comforting to me what feels calming and maybe exactly what you’re doing. Maybe you need to be in water, or in dirt. Maybe it’s sewing, squeezing, Clay, running, riding, or petting your dog. Listen for what words or images may arise. You can trust that quiet voice. The impulse may be to second guess it, but you can trust it. We are wise beings beyond our awareness. And when we turn towards ourselves, we can care for ourselves. Turning towards is an act of kindness that you deserve. And once you listen to this, then you’re helping yourself learn to get regulated enough to hear the next message of what you’re being drawn to do. So if you have any big decisions you’re trying to make in your life, the first part is getting still and quiet. So you know what is up and what is down what feels better, or what feels worse. It may not feel great right away but neutral or a little less bad is a great starting place. 

This has been Laid Open podcast with your host Charna Casell. Please join us again next week. If this show feels beneficial. we’d love if you’d please rate and review it and share it with your friends so others can find us. If you have additional questions around sex and trauma you can submit them at charnacasell.com Follow me at Laid Open podcasts on Instagram and Facebook and read more about my work at passionatelife.org Until next time, wishing you massive love.

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© 2022 By Charna Cassell, LMFT. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. MFC 51238.

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