How to: Support your Poly Friends

TL;DR: (Yeah, I had a lot to say here, #sorrynotsorry ) Be kind. To all of us. About our relationship. We like pizza and laughing so… less drama and more pizza please.

When we came out we knew the news would be a surprise for a lot of our friends and we were prepared to be patient while they processed this change in our lives.  We couldn’t have fully explained then exactly what we needed or wanted from them that was any different from before – we were in the midst of understanding this ourselves.  However, now that we’ve had some time to live this life and experience what it’s changed and what it hasn’t I have some thoughts I want to share.

In most ways being a supportive friend to any of the four of us hasn’t really changed. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that what we need from our friends didn’t change, just the number of people supporting us did. We’ve all been blessed with friends who included our married partners in the friendships and made sure they always recognized loving us meant loving our marriages.  Well there’s more to love now.  If you loved us and our marriages before please remember we have more partners we want to involve now.  Maybe it won’t be everyone together all the time – we don’t always travel as a group. However, we do travel as a group a lot of the time and it’s awkward and disheartening to think there are spaces where we aren’t welcome to be all of us.

Maybe I should note here that if there’s a real reason you want to invite one or two of us in to a space but not invite all of us, just talk to us! We’re pretty understanding about circumstances.  But if the limitation is being placed just because the plural nature of our relationship makes you uncomfortable, why are you inviting any of us to anything? This is a huge part of who we are.

Think of how you generally show support to your friends: spending time with them, keeping up to date with their lives, listening when they need an ear, offering advice when they need it, and yes, having some sort of friendship with their partner – even if its only because they’re dating and not because you would choose that partner as a friend for yourself.

I think maybe that last bit has been the most complicated for people in our lives, but we’ll get to that.

I want to stress here that I’m writing this with the greatest affection for everyone in all our lives and the deepest gratitude that they want to support us and be a part of our lives. Our friends aren’t the only ones figuring out “how this works” exactly, so we’re here to support them supporting us.

Spend Time with Us: We all have our own lives. Don’t worry – we didn’t become like a single-minded entity that can’t function unless we’re together. We still have our own friends and our own interests.  However, we love our time with all of our partners and we are protective of that time – we only have so much time with each person in a week – so maybe we’re a little picky about how we prioritize, especially when it means less time for our relationships. Try not to hold it against us if we can’t make a certain day or certain something work because we need to be home that night.  If we say we want to make plans work with you, we mean it.

Stay Up to Date with Us: Just ask us what’s up, what’s new, what’s happening.  We are busy, busy people and we’d love to share all the little things that bring us joy, stress us out, drive us crazy and make us laugh in a week. We have stories about the quirks of dating each other, about the side effects of living under one roof, about our various jobs and of course our hobbies.  We want to catch up – let’s pick a time. I think people hesitate to ask us what’s new because they just don’t know what to expect so let me reassure you – it hasn’t changed that much. It includes more people now. But if you’re afraid we’re going to bombard you with awkward amounts of detail about our sex lives or something you can stop worrying.

Let us Talk: You’re our friends – we’ve always been able to vent and rant and just talk with you.  We really highly value being able to speak freely about our lives without holding back when we want to switch from a story about one partner to a story about another.  We crave the ability to and the space to express ourselves without hiding any part of ourselves and our happiness.  But this is pretty well tied in to the next piece…

Give us Advice when Asked for or Needed: Except… don’t discount our relationships. I think it’s easy to assume poly is the root of all problems in our lives but we all have people at work that cause us stress, frustrations with our hobbies or other activities, and generally a whole lot of life that isn’t defined by our relationships.
We live together. We love each other. If we’ve come to you for advice on any topic, just know the recommending a break up is never the answer.

It feels like any time one of us expresses stress it’s easy for people to question if we should rethink our relationships. This gets frustrating because our relationships are a source of comfort, confidence and strength in our lives. Think of your own happy and healthy relationships – regardless of how they’re configured or defined – what do they bring to your life? I hope they bring you happiness, laughter, inspiration and that they feed your soul, feed your fire and enable you to be all that you are outside of those relationships. That’s what our relationships do in our lives.

When people suggest that our relationship structure is the reason we’re stressed about one thing or another I think it just kind of saddens us that maybe that person isn’t seeing how happy we are.

Including the Partner(s): Hey – you didn’t pick them. Your friend might think this person can do no wrong and you might think they’re all sorts of wrong.  That doesn’t change the fact. Friendships, in my experience, work best when friends respect and include a serious partner regardless of if they would pick that partner as a friend for themselves.  In case us living together isn’t the hint you’re looking for: We’re serious about this relationship and each other. You don’t get to pick your monogamous friends partners, and you don’t get to pick which one of us is coming to dinner.  If you message me saying we should get together for dinner and the invite is open to my partners – then it’s open to my partners. When you specify which partner or partners are invited and which aren’t it leaves me with the feeling I’m not really accepted by you. There’s a whole part of my life, a whole person who makes me crazy, insanely happy that you’re trying to ignore just because there are other partners you can focus on and really, that just doesn’t work. Maybe sometimes you want one on one time with me and that’s great but if this is an open invite for partners, it’s open to all of mine, or none of us.

Stop waiting fo the Break Up: Seriously. How much more do I need to say? Regardless of if a relationship is monogamous or not, holding your breath for us to break up because you’re not sold on the relationship is one of the absolute rudest behaviours I’ve ever witnessed in a friendship. You want me to be happy, yeah? Even if it’s not the exact happily ever after you imagined for me? (Otherwise, why are we friends?) Well then, start breathing because this relationship is built to last and friendships that don’t accept us can’t.

We’ve all gotten less tolerant of “friends” who add stress and drama to our busy lives

There might not be a super cute way to say this one. People who add stress instead of relieving it, people who make us cry instead of laugh, people who manipulate, spread doubt instead of encouragement, and who generally can’t bring themselves to be a positive part of our day… we’ve got less and less time or patience for those people.

And if our attitude shifting in a way that makes us okay with those friendships fading is a problem – if it’s a problem that we’re really over negativity and negative people – well, then our attitude changing really isn’t the reason the friendship is ending.

Carmen

How to Find Followers and Be Loved by Everyone

 

Everyone’s working hard and we want to be noticed and appreciated – we want to see our hard work pay off!  We see success in rising stats and so the key question becomes: How do I get followers? How do I become popular?!

I wish there was a simple answer like follow steps 1-3 and BOOM! You’ll reach your wildest dreams! But in a world dictated by algorithms and with everyone being careful and thoughtful about what and who they follow or subscribe to, it’s a little tricker than 1, 2, 3.

I post my tips and lessons as I learn them – I don’t have mind blowing numbers to show off as reasons you should listen to me.  What I have is a genuine experience that I’m sharing as it happens (Imagine, the original purpose of a blog!)

So here are my tips and strategies for finding followers and being loved by everyone.  Maybe when I’m famous I’ll rewrite this post and let you know if it works 😉

You have to collaborate to be successful, but you do have to participate. 

You see, creating great content is only part of the battle.  You don’t have to collaborate and share credit but you do have to interact with others.  How do you expect people to find and appreciate your content if you’re simply posting it and waiting for the big rush of applause and appreciation?  When they say you have to put yourself out there it isn’t about putting your content out there – it’s actually putting you out there and making connections.

Go find, like, follow and comment others who might be interested in your work. Find your audience and invite them in to see what you’re doing.  (And show a little love for them – you know how hard the grind is, after all!)
Pro tip: Do this on multiple platforms! Running a wordpress blog? Go like and comment on other blog posts.  Working on upping your instagram game? You know what to do – double tap and show some love! Looking to be the next twitter superstar? Twitter is a giant conversation platform – don’t just talk to yourself 😉

How much do you love it when you connect to someone, or to a company because they make you feel like a person instead of a customer?  When you are waiting for people to stumble across your content and appreciate it you’re thinking of them as customers or follower stats – not people.  In a fast-moving society where we often feel kind of lost in the masses, we have come to value personal connections.  So provide that!  Provide what you crave!

Support doesn’t cost you anything!

All the practical reasons aside – going out and giving those likes, follows and comments doesn’t cost you anything! Okay, so actually finding people who belong to your target audience and connecting with meaningful comments does take time. But you can work that into your workflow.  It’s actually an enjoyable part of my day so I use seeking and connecting with others who might like my work as a way to break up the heavier lifting.  If I am stuck in my writing I can work my social media a bit. If I am dizzy from the research I can find some new people to follow.  Work the different social media platforms you want to grow on into your daily workflow and watch how much making the first move helps you grow!

Just remember… Don’t be an asshole! Don’t start getting spammy and desperate leaving lazy comments that are just emoji’s or one word like “Great”. It doesn’t feel personal or thoughtful.  You want to invite people to connect with you so it’s worth being a decent member of the online community in the process!

Open your mind – what’s the vision when you say working for yourself is the dream?

So here’s the thing – a lot of people say they want to work for themselves but everyone has a different vision of what that means.  For me, it means the freedom to work from anywhere (usually from home), and to be fluid and ever changing in what I do.  I can control the content I produce and in the vision where I create my own line of products they are my design and I can change up the style as I feel like it.

So as you go seeking an audience don’t forget to look inwards and keep a clear vision of what you want.  It’s easy to get so caught up being someone who will attract followers and likes that you lose sight of who you are and what you want to be doing.

Carmen

Focusing on Control

One of the biggest challenges working gig-to-gig is feeling that I don’t control my work or income.  I can’t force students to book a certain number of classes just because that number would equal out to my ideal income.  I can’t always make jobs appear or make my efforts pay off as big as I want them too.

So what’s a girl to do?

Focus on what I can control and how to make those things go as far as possible. I wrote in my post Find Your Hustle about the importance of keeping more than one stream of income.

For example, right now my students are celebrating a national holiday and bookings are way down.  How am I going to make up the income of a couple weeks having lower than average booking rates?

Main gig not paying? Give your side hustles some love

Teaching is really my main gig. Of all the streams of income I have right now, it pays the most, and it pays the most consistently. At times like this when that consistency is a little less reliable than normal, I can focus on transcribing. I don’t transcribe that much in an average month because I’m very picky about the jobs I’ll take (I need high-quality audio to ensure I transcribe accurately and produce good work.). Perhaps this month I’ll be a little less picky and more focused on putting in time at the keyboard.

Add some Extra Hustle

I’ve had a lot more time than usual on my hands with these lowered booking rates.  It’s allowed me to give this blog some much-needed love at the time of launch, for example.  Even though I’m not counting on the blog for major income it’s still something I value having the time to build and work on so the lower bookings can be taken as a blessing.

Stay Fresh on what’s Available

This almost goes with adding some extra hustle.  Just as you might use the unexpected time off from your main gig to put some love into a project that may or may not be income-generating you can also use this time to check out any new companies and opportunities in your field. Maybe you’ll find a few more gig-providing companies to start a relationship with and further diversify your streams of income.

Keep your Lifestyle Flexible

Ultimately a downturn with one gig might just mean lower income for a period of time.  Even if you mitigate the impact by increasing productivity on some of your smaller gigs you need a flexible lifestyle.  For example, if you have subscription boxes or other lifestyle expenses you can “skip” for a month or cancel go ahead and cut costs to lessen the impact of a low-income month.

Or, enjoy the Vacation

When it comes down to it sometimes you have to just go with the flow and enjoy the time off!

Carmen

The Gig Economy & You: How to Start Working for Yourself

So you’ve decided that you’d love to let go of the 9-5 and make it on your own, doing work that you’re connected to. But how? The moment I realized this is what I wanted felt great, and the moment right after I was filled with daunting questions.

If I work for myself, what the heck do I even do exactly?
If you’re not sure what it should be that you set up a business doing start listening to the people in your life.

What do they admire you for? What do they wish they could do like you? What do they pay someone to do that you do for yourself?
For example, I’m really bad with numbers. Not only that, but perhaps more problematically, I have very low confidence in my ability to work with numbers. So even when  I sit down and figure out the math on something I’m still very uncertain that I’ve done it correctly, and I don’t trust my own results. Come tax time this means I pay someone to do my taxes.
Friends who are great with numbers and confident in their abilities save the fees that I gladly pay to know for certain that things are done right, and if they aren’t it isn’t my fault.

My mom is amazingly creative, she has a scary good eye for color and is very crafty.  When I was growing up there were lots of quilts, dolls, and clothing I had that others admired and she made with her own two hands. I remember her having various business projects making things like wedding dresses, dance costumes, and quilts for others. What she was great at, and they couldn’t do themselves, she made a profit from.

That’s the key to this whole gig economy thing. Listen to what others admire about you, become conscious of the skills you have that are so natural to you that you almost forget they’re special.

Those skills are the key to monetizing yourself.

I have always loved writing. It never seemed like a special skill to me. It was just something I loved and others seemed to enjoy so I kept at it. Now here I am making it part of how I control my income – from the blog to transcription.

Even teaching is part of this for me. I love to talk, I like kids, I’m good at English and approaching a concept from different angles until I’ve made it make sense for someone else. It’s all communication and strong communication is what I excel at. I never really practiced those things, I never really realized that they were different for me than others. Yet so many people listen to me describe my teaching job and say “That’s awesome, I couldn’t do that.”

When you have something you love that others say they just couldn’t do, you can usually find a way to take that to the bank. Let them know they don’t have to, for a small fee, you’ll get it done for them!

Comment with a skill or a few skills you have that others pay for (even if they aren’t paying you for it, yet 😉