You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Love’ tag.
As I approach 30 I find myself doing a lot of soul-searching and self-analysis. This has led me to face a lot of the shadows in my past. Some of them I created, some of them I used to hide bad memories or mistakes, and some are just a part of life. However, all of them, when left unchecked, have the potential to grow and overtake the light in my spirit. Indeed, at one time or another each of them has, resulting in imbalances that often took a very serious toll on my life and those around me. As I begin to embrace 30 I also begin to address these shadows, clean what I can from the darkness, and accept them as a part of me rather than avoid them as blights. Each one has made me who I am today, and each one continues to me an opportunity to grow as a person.
This Mother’s Day we took Hubby’s mom to the zoo. The day before that I spent with friends and their young daughter. I had my moments of grief and loss, of nostalgia and loneliness, and even of regret that I hadn’t holed myself up all weekend, but by the end of last night I was happy for the experience and the new clarity it gave me as I move forward. With that clarity came messages to three generations of who I am.
To My Mother:
I’m sorry. For all the things a child cannot articulate. For all the opportunities to tell you I loved you, to hug you, to spend a day with you that went empty. For the places in my life where you tried to teach me better only to have me forget or ignore the lessons. For letting myself hold on for so long to losing you instead of the memories of who you were. For not having the chance to have an adult Mother-Daughter relationship with the most important person who has ever loved me; the one who loved me enough to give me a chance at life. I will never take that gift for granted again. Thank you. For continuing to teach me those lessons. I see you more and more inside me every year, and there are days when I can’t fathom how you managed all that you did with a smile on your face and a song in your heart. You sacrificed more for me than I will ever truly understand. You loved even when it hurt, you fought for what you believed in, and you followed the path that felt right for you no matter who tried to tell you otherwise. There have been so many times in my life when I’ve missed you and longed for your advice. Thank you for that model. Forgive me if I’m struggling to do as well as you did.
To My Unborn Child:
I may have never held you in my arms, but you are always in my heart. I’m sorry. For not being able to protect you. For not being able to give you a life. For being scared and unprepared. Thank you. For giving me a reason to keep going through one of the darkest points of my life. For still giving me hope that someday I will be a good Mommy. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you and wonder what my life would be like now with you in it.
I’m sorry. For letting you carry this weight on your own for so long. For abusing and neglecting you. For the resentment and the guilt. For never telling you that you were not to blame, that you did everything you could with what you had, and that you were loved. For leaving you alone in the darkness and depression, hoping you’d eventually just fade away. Thank you. For not giving up. For having the faith I could not. For being strong, beautiful, and even happy at times despite me. For believing in us and knowing someday I would come around. With you on my side I know I can accomplish anything.
There it is, friends. One of the hardest letters I’ve ever had to write. Two phrases that far too often go unsaid to our parents, our children, and ourselves.
Go now, be at peace.
My mom used to love to feed the giraffes at the zoo. She couldn’t see them, but she knew they were there, and she loved the experience. Looking back, my mother had that spirit in all areas of her life.
I can not remember a single challenge or occasion in life my mother didn’t rise to. When she lost her site she learned braille and newborn care in the dark. She got a Guide Dog and eventually a job teaching computers to the blind. I have days when I can barely remember how to tie my shoes, but this woman thrived no matter what was thrown at her. This is what I remember when I feel like I just can’t fight anymore. That my mother did not just survive her life. She lived it.
When faced with significant things like motherhood and love she dedicated all that she had to give, and she never turned down a friend in need. At times it let people take advantage of her kindness, but it never stopped her. If she could help, she did. If she couldn’t help directly, she found a way. I grew up knowing my mother loved me and would give anything for me to have a good life and a happy heart. I never knew anything other than acceptance and support, never doubted she believed in me, and that unconditional love has carried me through many points in my life where I’ve veered from the beaten path to find myself.
What else has my mother’s spirit lived on to each me? That no matter how hard things get it’s always alright to laugh, to play, and to dream. As a kid I watched my mom bowl, play Frisbee, and beat the pants off of everybody at Monopoly. She decorated a giant tree every year for Christmas, dusted around ridiculous decorations at Halloween, and dared to wear pointy little heels to work. She rode roller coasters and went to concerts, Disneyland, and, yes, the zoo. Nothing was ever off-limits or too much trouble. If it sounded like fun, my mom was there before anyone.
Which brings me back to the giraffes. My mom never had to see them to know they were there and to experience their beauty. We spend so much of our lives looking for something, and quite often it’s already here waiting to be experienced, waiting to be loved, or waiting to be nurtured. Sometimes I close my eyes and the world becomes a very different place, one with more potential than I can see with my eyes. It’s all so very simple, but it’s something many of us spend our entire lives trying to learn. My mother knew. If you hold the food out, the giraffes will come.
Go now, feed your giraffes.
Congratulations! You made it past the first few dates and have started to develop a relationship with a new partner! I won’t assume my last piece had anything to do with it, but with the timing and all I will accept it as a coincidence and thank fate for proving my points. In any case, now let’s examine your current state for a moment.
I’m going to bet you’re giddy and excited. You’re smiling even through mundane every day tasks, you can’t stop thinking about this new step in your life or the person you’re taking it with, and when you’re together the rest of the world either vanishes or becomes paradise depending on the glasses you’re wearing that day.
This is what we call NRE, or New Relationship Energy, and it’s like sweet Ambrosia after an extended period of failed expectations and frustrating encounters. Enjoy it. This is where the foundation of your new relationship is built, where you begin to discover what it will look like, and when you really start to get to know your new lover. This is a time of firsts. I reiterate, enjoy it. Don’t let the worries about where you’re going, what you’re doing, or what this new person in your life thinks of every little thing you do or say hold you back from being who you are and living in the process, not three steps ahead of it.
Be yourself. If she can’t accept you now for who you are she won’t be able to accept you in the long run, so stop worrying about it and just let yourself be in the moments. Take the opportunity to do something new. Form your identity as a couple, and do not attempt to replicate your other relationships, and do not try to compare them, because this is not any other relationship but this one. Every couple is unique, as are the roadblocks and tender moments each one will have. Embrace these differences. If every partnership you have is identical what’s the point in being poly?
Finding balance. While NRE and building new bonds is important, so are other priorities in you life, like your job and existing partners. It’s easy to lose track and let all your time and energy be absorbed by something new, but the rest of your life still needs attention as well. Make sure to keep up communication with your established partners, as they may be feeling some growing pains. Sharing your new experience while setting aside some quality time for them can strengthen that bond and ease any inner struggles that may be forming, allowing them to feel compersion instead of insecurities about an unknown situation. Use this as an opportunity to do something you haven’t done in a while or even try something new yourselves. Take out that relationship bucket list and cross something off. Reconnect with what brought you together, and even what made you poly.
On the flip side, remember that you are poly, especially if this is your first multiple relationship. Don’t wrestle with questions about your established partner’s motives or feelings. You both agreed to the terms of your poly relationship. If you start to feel uneasy you should talk about it, but don’t let your second guessing pull you away from giving your time and energy to your new love. Believe me, you’ll all miss out on a lot that way, and you will not be able to fully enjoy polyamory until you can master this hesitation.
The last hurdle with NRE is when it starts to end, or rather when it starts to transition to become an established bonded relationship. This is where a lot of people feel a drop. This is where you start to say things like “you never XYZ anymore!”. This is where a lot of relationships end, because when the buzz wears off and a routine starts to form many people feel like they fall into a rut. For some it’s true that the only thing they ever had in common was an addiction to NRE, but to me this is when the real relationship begins. If you can enjoy the NRE for what it was and truly own and embrace the meat of the relationship that has developed you will find that it’s worth it. You don’t have to stop having the adventures and experiences, but now you have them as a couple with an amazing bond and a solid foundation. You have built something that will survive the setbacks and enrich all your lives. Do not mourn the end of the NRE, welcome the beginning of a new journey.
Next Week: My final installment. Family introductions.
We’ve all been there. One of us gets the idea that Date Night is a good idea. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great idea when you’ve reached a point where all your time spent as a couple is spent cleaning or running errands. The caveat is that once you plan a date night you need to find something to fill that time, especially in the winter when temperatures make it hard to keep a smile that isn’t just frozen on your face when outdoors. Luckily you’ve got a voice of experience to give you a few favourites in my book..
The family that glows together. I happen to love mini golf, but golfing in 20 degree weather can be a bit much, and until recently there were no local places to play indoors. The ones that have popped up are just as fun and challenging as any outdoor courses I’ve played, and they’re usually some form of blacklight glow golf! If you’re in Florida you get the added benefit of lizards. The last time we were in Kissimmee it turned into a side game to score lizard avoidance because they would sit on the course or run across it as our balls were in motion. Fun!
Drive Each Other Crazy! If you’re blessed enough to live somewhere warm enough to be outdoors, like the Fun Spot in Orlando, find a go-kart track and go! Drive doubles or singles, and take a romantic ride on the Ferris Wheel. Just make sure you go in the photo booth before the ride in the bumper boats with water cannons on them. Or don’t, and make it sexy!
Life’s a Picnic. Pack your favourite lunch or desserts and head out for a relaxing picnic. Again, if you’re lucky enough to live in a warm climate, go to the park or beach. If not, maybe wander through a museum, aquarium, or indoor farmer’s market. Don’t try to picnic in the snow unless it’s a hot chocolate picnic.
Take a Scavenger Hunt! Have you guys heard of Watson Adventures? You should have. I’ve written about them before. They’re awesome! With hunts themed for adults and children of varied interests, you can wander through art and science museums, farmer’s markets, historic neighborhoods, and zoos. Make your family a team, or split up and see who gets the most answers!
Be a Bunch of Tourists. Head to a local brewery, historic site, or factory and take a tour. I am constantly amazed by the places around us that I have never heard of. This year we made a list of “to do” ideas for those restless weekends when we just want to be out of the house. It also gives you a good reason to get some pictures as a family without feeling silly. Go ahead! Be silly, and learn something while you do it!
Be a bunch of kids! Head to a local bowling alley, Family Fun Center, or Dave and Busters with pockets full of quarters and let loose! There is a barn not far from our house that has been converted into an arcade. The best part? Once you pay to get in the games are unlimited! There’s another place in a really cute village of restaurants and antique stores with vintage arcade games, much like the Musée Méchanique on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, which means there’s something for the history nerd, the antique shopper, the foodie, and the gamer all in one trip!
A few tips.
You are not a weather man, and sometimes it’s just not worth heading out in the elements no matter how much you need the time, so have a contingency plan. Stay in and have a slumber party. Make hot cocoa, ice cream sundaes, cookies, or a bunch of new Pinterest recipes. Do each other’s nails and hair, men too! Have something in mind in case you can’t or just don’t feel like leaving the house.
If you’re playing some kind of game, never hesitate to make a wager. There is nothing wrong with a little competition, especially if there’s something in it to sweeten the pot. It can give you something more adult to look forward to if there are kids with you at the time, and it can give you leverage to bargain with later. Have a few already in mind so you’re not put on the spot when it comes up, because it will.
Never be afraid to be creative and just go with it. It’s good to have a plan, but remember that plans can always change, and sometimes we each have a different idea of how an activity is going to go or what we should be doing. Keep it simple. Be flexible and open-minded, and just enjoy the ride. The important part is that you’re all together. Date night is about the time together, not the itinerary.
I hope that helped! Now go make plans! Take an umbrella, and wear sensible shoes.
Go now, have fun!
What does it mean to be poly?
Polyamory is not a method or a behaviour; it’s who we are as people. While no two people are identical, there is a very bare boned archetype of a polyamorous person.
To be poly, one must be open-minded, honest, and willing to step outside of her comfort zone. She must be strong, sensible, reliable, and able to put the needs of her family ahead of her own.
To the outside world, from conversations I have had, we take on a bit of legend and fantasy. To those who support polyamory, or at least tolerate it, we are saints. We are patient, selfless, and unfettered. We never have a negative emotion or disagreement, and life in a poly family is nothing but a day in Shangri-la. To those who are not supportive of our lifestyle, we are flaky, immoral, and non-committal. We are either being taken advantage of or avoiding real relationships, and we never deal with real issues because we can’t possibly work together as a team.
Reality is what reality does, lying somewhere in the middle Yes, polyamory requires patience, a skill many of us have had to hone as we go. We must not be selfless, but able to compromise, and poly merely means setting or own limits and boundaries as they make sense to us, not that we can simply ignore rules. On the other hand, yes, there are some people who are poly just to avoid real relationships or commitment. Sadly, it is my opinion that they will never grasp the full potential and freedom one can find in a committed poly family.
We’ve been over all this before, but what I have not discussed is how being poly looks and acts within the community, and even within the family.
Within the community we are a team, no matter what. Past that, we may look different, because poly is not a set of rules. No two poly families looks or acts the same. To some we’re a little more conservative. To others we’re a bit more open and free. In either case, we try to be a good resource and sounding board, especially to those just exploring polyamory. Our lifestyle isn’t a closed cult or a patented method, nor are we the poly police, but we try to project a loving, sharing attitude to those who may want to learn and grow or just talk. What’s that line about poly people talking a lot? We do.
When I think of Hubby or A, I think of people I can trust and speak with openly without judgment. I think of people who will fight just as hard as I will for our family and come to me with a problem before letting it cause resentment or discord. The fact that we’re human means that sometimes we get a little off track or lose sight of the bigger picture when something is important to us as individuals. We have bad days, we get emotional and cranky, and we have fears and insecurities that can sometimes keep us from being as open as we hope others will be with us. This doesn’t mean we’re “doing it wrong”, it means we’re not gods or angels, but mortals after all.
In a conversation I had with someone recently I was asked how I thought the “group mind” of a family changed our identities, and I think a lot of my answer to him fits here. To the outside world we feel a need to look strong and well-adjusted. We want the world to accept polyamory as a happy, healthy lifestyle, so we put on that facade to never let on that we have rifts, because to have an issue is to prove all the arguments made against polyamory. Sometimes this behaviour gets internalized and becomes how we act with each other, which can dangerously lead to a lapse in communication and compassion and make us feel trapped. At times I feel like we do the same within the poly community to prove our authenticity. We hold ourselves to unreachable standards, leading to inner turmoil and an unstable family structure.
Now I may to contradict myself for a moment. Yes, poly is a way of being not a way of doing. No, this does not mean that every poly person will get along with or be able to love every other poly person. I have gone on several date with people who admitted that polyamory was the only thing we had in common. The only reason I was a blip on the map was our proximity and lifestyle and the size of our local community. The problem here comes when people settle with situations that don’t make them happy because of the assumption that there aren’t any other local poly people. This panic leads to bad experiences which can actually drive people away from the lifestyle, which I hate to see. That’s like never eating pizza again because I assumed the place next door was the only pizzeria in town and got sick from it.
Polyamory doesn’t change who we are, and it is not an exclusive personality trait. It’s merely a lifestyle that embodies a set of personality traits that make up part of who we are as lovers, families, and individuals. By no means does it make us all compatible, and by no means does it make us all experts, but by no means does any of that make us less genuine.
I usually have some idea what I want to do for Hubby for Valentine’s Day. This year, however, my well of ideas has run dry, so last night I set out on an internet search. I was thoroughly unprepared for the magnitude of hilarious Valentine’s Day crap out there! While I’d never pay money just to give Hubby a gag Valentine, I will let him read this post and laugh with me, which is all in the same spirit anyway. I hope you’re all prepared, because ready or not, Happy Valentine’s Day
I’m a little uncomfortable being just stared at this way, but I might give this card with a taser.
This one has creepy pink-lipstick adorned Nick Cage, and why is that teddy bear sitting up on the side like that? I’d give this with a ragged old teddy bear I found at a thrift store. Maybe a rape whistle.
I actually considered buying this one, especially because it’s a magnet. I might give this in a “gas acceptance” gift basket full of canned pork n’ beans, cabbage, and grapes.
Cutest. Card. Ever. I’ve never cuddled a hedgehog, though. It’s probably not as cozy as it looks.
This was made me snort. I love science…and puns…and science puns. I’d pair this with one of those foot-long giant pencils.
For the dog lover in all of us. I might give this card before a romantic picnic in the park as warning to watch where you step.
Card number two I almost purchased. I had never seen an episode of Star Trek from beginning to end until I met Hubby. Last yeqr we had a romantic Jacuzzi suite where we spent a whole day watching a Star Trek marathon.
As is Jack in the Boxes weren’t creepy enough, here’s an image for you. Also, where to puppets or spring action “Jacks” have butts? I would give this with an actual Jack in the Box, the older and creepier the better, and a shaving kit.
This card speaks to the part of me that feels rebellious and indignant when people get overly suggestive. Still, I’ve always had a fondness for Alf, and it reminds me of my childhood. I’d give this with a box of fruit snacks and a slap bracelet.
This is just a big NO. It’s creepy, it’s bratty, it’s everything I dislike about Pokemon. Picachu was created to specifically attract girls and mothers to Pokemon, which makes it a manipulative “pocket monster”. It should not be using innuendo. I would give this with two bouquets. One for my date, and one for her mom.
What does it say about me that the first problem I had with this was the grammar? I’d at least send this with a cliche bottle of wine or box of chocolate to soften the blow.Creepy Yoda cupid. I probably don’t need to say more. I just hope there aren’t any old people in the room when my date sees the picture.
Don’t give this card if you’re part of a triad or poly family. Just sayin’. I’d give this with a bag of Sudoku and crosswords, maybe one of the personalized crosswords I mentioned last year.
There ya have it, friends! If you actually want to purchase any of these gems, they’re all available on Etsy.com. I send you all my love this Valentine’s Day, and whether or not you have a date I hope you do something exciting!
Go now, love.
Imagine a Steampunk-esque miracle contraption with gears and chains, cogs and levers, and even a little smokestack if you’d like. When everything is running smoothly the machine can do anything. It can fly! It can swim! It can grant wishes!
I like to think of a poly family like one of these Amazing Machines, within which we are all individual pieces. We each have a function and a speed at which we work well. When things are as they should be we are an unstoppable force, but if a piece needs maintenance of something gets caught in the gears the whole machine is impaired. As a family, as opposed to a group of individuals, we have created a system of woven interdependence wherein the health of the individual maintains the health of the whole.
We all have bad days, and we try not to take our frustration out on those we love, but even if I don’t throw a shoe at Hubby he can usually tell when I’m in poor mood. Most of the time he tries to fix it. If for some reason he can’t he tries to be supportive. Whether or not this puts him in his own poor mood it still weighs on him. Seeing someone we love hurt, sick, or unhappy is never an easy thing for anyone. When I’m stressed, he’s stressed. When he’s stressed, the same process is repeated between Hubby and A.
This ripple effect comes into play most profoundly when one or more of our relationships is having a rough patch. When Hubby and I argue it puts him on edge and off kilter in the rest of his life, including his time with A. When they have issues it causes the same uneasiness between us. Depending on the severity of the problem, it also tends to affect the relationship that A and I have built.
One of the best solutions here is maintenance. Obviously the more we tend to the machine the better it works, but maintenance means more than that. It means being aware of the health of the machine and catching small issues before they become large ones that could break one or all of the parts. It means keeping the gears oiled. With our family that means checking in on each other and creating better bonds that are less likely to break under minor pressure. It means communicating even when emotions run high to avoid one of us snapping. It means understanding when a family member is venting, not taking it personally, and trying not to turn our own venting into an attack. It even means not being afraid to slow the machine down for a moment, let an overworked gear cool, and ask for some assistance if there’s a large enough problem.
I have a lot of faith in our Amazing Machine. She’s done a lot of unbelievable things in the past couple years, and there’s a lot of spark and life left in her still. We’re still learning how to maintain her, as much like any self-made contraption she didn’t come with a troubleshooting manual. Sometimes that means surprises. Sometimes that means moving things around a little. What it always means is that we are finding our rhythm together as the nuts and bolts settle and everything falls into place.
We are an Amazing Machine!
Go now, build something!
Someone recently told me that he understood polyamory because of one’s ability to have constant excitement when a marriage gets boring. After mulling it over and thinking of my family I smiled, mostly because this guy will never understand the key to even a monogamous relationship.
New relationship energy (NRE) is awesome, I agree. It’s exciting to have someone new to explore inside and out, hearing their stories for the first time, and feeling the spark of new chemistry. It’s a feeling that cannot be recreated as a couple journeys through life together, and it’s absolutely something to cherish and enjoy. It’s a rush some people would not give up for the world, but most of those people have never felt the excitement and energy of what’s beyond NRE.
There is an erroneous belief that once “the honeymoon is over” and we settle in to life together that life becomes rote and boring. It’s true that we get comfortable and pick up some of the personal ambitions and interests we may have set aside for a while, but comfort doesn’t mean have to mean complacency.
What that comfort does mean is a deeper intimacy than you find with NRE. It means an understanding of each other that creates an excitement and anticipation all its own. I already know where most of Hubby’s paths go, but they are no less beautiful and exciting than they were when I was stumbling across them. Having this bond means another level of communication and body language that only two people who have gotten to this level of comfort can have. That comfort makes us a well oiled machine with an energy that reverberates through our lives even when we are not together.
The idea that we become rote and boring implies that we are static creatures. As human beings, that is simply not true. We change, we grow, we evolve, and watching that in process Hubby and getting to know all these new and exciting aspects of him is an awesome thing. The fact that I have someone to share my growth who continues to love me in all my forms is even more unbelievable sometimes.
Like any part of a healthy marriage, keeping a vibrant energy going takes maintenance. It takes awareness of who Hubby is and who he is becoming. It takes accepting all those changes. It takes letting him see who I am becoming and trusting him to accept me for whoever I am. Most importantly it takes a willingness to step out of the comfort zone once in a while and do something new together. Take a trip, take a class, anything to stir life up a little. It takes not letting the rut and routine swallow us whole just because we’ve been together for more than five years. It’s a commitment, and it’s a refreshing part of our life.
We are not poly because we’re bores with each other. If anything, this poly family keeps the excitement turned up. This has nothing to do with new partners or NRE. It has everything to do with who we are as a family, and this family never fails to keeps me on my toes.
I apologize that it’s taken me a week to write this. I’m still typing everything with my left hand only.
I am addicted to Shutterfly, and every year I make a family yearbook. A scrapbooker at heart, I just don’t have the time, space, or money to devote to as many scrapbooks as it would take to use all the pictures I take. As someone who majored in Photography I can also admit to being a shutterbug. When there are pictures of me I usually have a camera in my face or hands. I have had to ask people to take pictures of me to have some evidence of my existence beyond being the one who took all the pictures. My father has admitted to having this same issue, so I assume it’s hereditary.
In any case, 2012 was pretty rough on this family. In fact, it seems to have been that way for many of our nearest and dearest. The party line of New Year’s Eve seemed to be, “Here’s to 2013, because 2012 was terrible!”. It’s true, this year our family took a pretty hard onslaught of blows. We experienced loss of friends and lovers, sickness, financial problems, and for the first time in five years our marriage reached a point of uncertainty. Our household took a huge hit that left us rebuilding from the ground up, and that rebuilding caused a lot of growing pains for everyone.
As tough as that all was to swallow at the time, the key word there is “growing”. Personally and as a unit we all grew this year. We grew closer, we grew stronger, and we grew in faith and maturity. I met someone in July who challenged the way I loved and opened up to new partners and showed me what this poly life really has to offer me. While the end of that short relationship rocked my core it taught me a lot about myself and forced me to re-evaluate my expectations and standards for future relationships. The last half of the year tossed me and Hubby around like a hurricane, but it uncovered a lot of hidden issues we had been avoiding or had gone unnoticed. Through that we have been able to fortify our weak points and strengthen our bond. We have fine tuned how we work as a team and proven that we can survive anything.
Sorting images for this book I began to realize that in between all the tears and screaming there were also a lot of smiles. It’s true that a negative moment will stick to your memory before a positive one. Woven between the struggling were great moments of love and happiness. This last year was amazing for new adventures and opportunities. I took trips I never thought I’d take. I got to see my family more than I have in years. We have made huge strides with Little Guy and his mother, and we are well on our way to pulling out of this slump.
What I love most about these books is the optimism on every page and the reminder that we are alive. There are no pictures of arguments or suffering. There are no shots of sorrow or frustration. While the lessons are important the details are not. There are no grudges or residual anger here, just love and laughter. 2012 was a year of transition and transformation. Its story is written across the smiles and faces in these pictures, and while the lessons are always with me I choose to remember the Shutterfly version of my life, and it’s been a beautiful year!