Poly and Parenting

It’s kind of funny – as I write that title I’m like…  uhh I can’t write this, I’m not a parent yet, duh! But then again, not being a parent, let alone a parent in a poly relationship, has not stopped a single person from sharing their thoughts so hell, why don’t I give it a try.

We get a TON of questions about how our relationship affects our plans to be parents.  It’s not the questions I mind so much – actually we welcome more or less all questions because we’d rather people ask than assume.  The annoying part of these questions is the number of people who ask and then immediately tell us what they feel is the correct answer.

Can I just pause for a second here and tell ya’ll something? We’re not “trying”. We want kids to be a part of our future not our right now. So whatever we haven’t figured out, we’ve got time.

But I’ll be honest. When you get serious in a relationship you talk about the future. You talk about values, what kind of lifestyle you want, what your big life goals are, and what a family looks like or means to you.

If you want to be pessimistic you can imagine a different future for us than what we imagine for ourselves but ya’ll know it’s rude to root against someones love life and what makes them happy. And I know ya’ll aren’t rude.

So let me answer some questions:

Yes, we want children.

No, we don’t know how many but 2 is a good bet.

No, at this point we don’t plan to plan who the biological parents are. Oops – there’s a controversial one. Here’s the thing, we all plan to be the kiddos parents. I’m not going to parent a child any less because they are biologically Maggies or more because they are biologically mine. We all live under one roof and we operate as a family unit.  We plan to keep it that way as we think about bringing children in to our lives. They will be loved and looked after by all of us.  Like any other couple, when we’re ready, we’ll be throwing out the birth control methods and carrying on as usual. What happens from there happens.

I know people think it has to be pretty simple to just plan who you’re getting knocked up by, but it’s not.  I’ve tried to talk on this blog about how each of our relationships is unique and no one relationship gets to set the rules or boundaries for another. For me to say I wanted to have a baby with one man specifically would be allowing my relationship with that man to limit my relationship with the other man in order to ensure the biological parentage of the child. Given that we all expect to parent equally, setting those kind of boundaries doesn’t make sense for the relationships we’ve built.

On a related note, we won’t be announcing the biological parentage of babies born in our family. I mean, why would we need to? We’re assuming that our family and friends who will continue to be a part of our lives as our family grows will love our growing family for what it is: a family.

The world is a confusing place, we’re pretty sure that having 4 loving parents is not going to be a huge problem for our children. I mean, we had this conversation about same sex parents, right? There were a bunch of people who could barely fathom same sex relationships and so were completely unhinged at the idea that a child might not understand having two moms or two dads. But children understand love. Time and time again they’ve proven this to the world. Even the young children in our lives now – children of friends and family – handled us coming out better than most. It goes like this:

“Hey, you know how you have this Aunt and Uncle?”

“Yeah”

“And they love each other?”

“Yep.”

“Well, they also love this other man and woman.”

“Okay.”

“And basically the four of them just all love each other and they’re very happy together.”

“Does this mean I get extra gifts at Christmas?”

That is the most vital question a child has asked about our relationship. Does two more people coming into a relationship they’re familiar with mean that they get more Christmas gifts.  Whoa – so confused.

You can stop worrying about our childrens confusing home life now. They’ll be fine.

We have similar values about raising children. That’s a big part of how we know our children are safe from the concerns of others. We believe in raising children in a loving environment.  We believe in rules and routine.  We agree when it comes to dicipline. We believe in teaching them about the whole world, not just our world. We agree with each other on the important things.  They’ll be loved beyond belief.

These hypothetical children will be ours. No really, like any parents, parents to be or hypothetical eventual parents the bottom line and most important fact I can possibly provide you: who to have children with, what our household looks like and how to raise them is entirely up to us and absolutely doesn’t need your opinion about what’s best. You might feel that opinion passionately, you might even be a little bit not okay with the idea of us raising children as a polyamorous family. That’s fine. But if you think that your discomfort or opinions are a factor in our family plans I’m not super sorry to inform you, you’re mistaken.

Carmen

 

 

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

New Series: For Fit Sake

Okay so obviously I wanted to write about my fitness journey or health journey or weight loss journey – whatever you want to call it – when I started this blog.  In my mind it would have a bit of everything from my life and right now the three most important pillars that define my day to day life are my love life, my career and my quest to get healthier with the side effect of getting smaller.  If I’m really honest it starts with wanting to be smaller and I just know that the truth is I need to be healthier if I want to shrink.

Notice something about the blog? Two of those things get posted about all the time but something is missing. I haven’t been able to write honestly about my fitness journey because truthfully it’s been a mess.

Like anyone else, I prefer to write about my successes. I imagined myself writing these posts about having done this exercise or eaten that food and seeing results that made me happy.

Well here I am at my heaviest.

Damn it – that sucks to write. It sucks to admit publicly and to even think about going on, talking and writing about being here. It feels like the same old same old – I’ve been ‘at my heaviest” for some time now, except that number, what that phrase means on the scale, has been creeping up.

One of the most successful strategies I’ve had for losing weight in the past has been when I posted more regularly to my fitness-focused instagram. Of course I plan to get posting and engaging there again because it helped but I realized that this blog was always meant to have fitness on it so why shouldn’t it be a part of my accountability posts?

For Fit Sake is going to be an ongoing series posted every Friday where I’m making myself stay accountable about the week. I don’t want it to be just a diary so i’m going to encourage myself to learn each week and have something with a bit more substance to share and hopefully in the process of creating a series I’m proud of I’ll also be building a lifestyle that matches.

Things to look forward to this Friday and in near-future Fridays:

  • I’m starting again with the Body Love app by Anna Victoria. I really like her workouts and her as a fitness coach – she’s created a great community and a beautiful app so there’s no reason for me to go somewhere else at this moment. (Hint: 1 week in it’s going well!)
  • Updates to my fitness journal – what it looks like, how I use it, I’ll try to share.
  • Setting up space for myself to workout. I’ll share what working out at home means to me and how that’s changed.

You can find my instagram if you’d like the daily updates and details, too! My fitness focused instagram is @fitish.kitten

Since I’m starting here I want to know – what are you biggest struggles in creating a fitter or healthier lifestyle?

Landing that Online Job

So a couple weeks ago I landed two jobs in one week – both of them working strictly online through specific platforms.  So now I want to share a little bit (actually, a lot) about searching for and landing that elusive online job.

My specific jobs (and in case you’re counting, I’m now working with three companies) are all based on teaching English and supporting English learners.  So that’s the experience I’ll be speaking to. There are some general truths that will carry over if you’re looking at other industries online.

Teaching English is a huge online industry simply because the internet is such an excellent way to connect teachers of a language with learners while everybody has the benefit of staying comfortably in their home.

English is the dominant language of business so if you are a native English speaker you have a crazy advantage as many around the world are scrambling to learn our language in order to maximize their business, work and travel opportunities. I have spoken with people from France, Saudi Arabia,  Turkey, Syria, Brazil, South Korea, Taiwan, India, and China.  They are all different age groups and their reasons for learning English range from personal interest and a sense that it would just be good to know, to learning for academic pursuits like attending an international University to learning for travel and work.

There are a lot of companies out there that you can teach with – hence why I work with three.  It’s a good thing for both teachers and learners that there are so many platforms with similar services and job opportunities because it drives each of them to be competitive.

So, Where do I apply?

There are a few different ways that you can apply. You can research individual companies and apply directly to them or you can seek a recruitment group that will consider your resume and suggests companies you may be a good fit for.

I caution that free websites where you send your qualifications and they match you are probably not worth your time.  I tried it and they sent me an email saying they thought I’d be a good match for a company that was already on my resume.

That was the only company they sent me a notification for, despite the fact that I am a good fit for many companies.  Furthermore, they do not support you through the application process.

So really, you’re no further ahead than if you found the company on your own.

It sounds too simple to be true but I recommend starting the way I did: Google search “Teaching English Online” and consider what companies come up.

You want to understand their target client in order to determine if they are a good match for you.  For example, one of my companies targets students in China exclusively.  China is 12 hours ahead of me so if I want to teach them in their preferred time, after dinner and through the evening, I need to get up and start teaching around four or five in the morning.

I don’t mind but I do encourage people who want to do this kind of work to consider how time zones may impact their schedule and availability to work.

Other companies I work for target students around the world.  They have stronger demand from some regions and therefore still have hours where they highlight demand. However, because they do invite students from all over to learn on their platforms they are able to provide some opportunity to work throughout the day for me.

Company requirements range from preferring a long list of certifications to only requiring that English is your native language.

In summary for where to apply:

  • Research companies yourself
  • Understand the impact of their target clients and timezones for your schedule
  • Do you meet their requirements

The Application Process

How many people would love to work online? And why is that?

Because many people consider working online or from home to mean that the work is easy, low commitment, and open to anybody.

Therefore companies looking to hire English teachers and other online contractors are working hard and developing processes to discourage non-serious applicants.

Assume that competition is tough and ensure that your resume and application answers include relevant keywords. If you’re applying to teach English for example, you should be the kind of candidate that can have the words “teach, taught, tutor, children, adults, learners, English” on their resume.

Assume that your first challenge is to be filtered through an algorithm and use appropriate language accordingly. Don’t write something that would only matter to a human reviewer or a human reviewer may never see it filtered through the system. Straight forward, clear language that relates to the position responsibilities is best.

Furthermore, be prepared for multiple interview and training stages.  You’re going to have to jump through some hoops.  Jumping through hoops both demonstrates your seriousness about and commitment to the position and provides additional assessment opportunities for the company to feel confident they are hiring contractors who are a good fit.

In this process, one of the keys to success is staying organized.  Many companies will have developed their own platform that you would be working through and from the interview onwards they will be trying to teach you to effectively use this platform to meet their performance goals. You want to have clear notes on how to use the platform, all related requirements, and what the performance standards are.

Save any documents they provide you during the process all together in one folder; the documents may be provided through email and through the training platform so collect them in one place where you can access them at a moments notice.

Succeeding Online

Most online companies I have worked with, from transcription to teaching, rate contractors on a 5 star or 5 point system.  Most consider 4.85 and higher to be a generally acceptable range for contractors performance.  Aim higher, always, but especially aim for 4.88-4.95 if you are seeking advancement and bonus opportunities.

The most successful contractors are the ones who treat their opportunities with the same respect, commitment and care that they would be expected to give in a formal office environment. They follow instructions to the letter, follow up on all recommendations (If the company says that something is helpful but not required successful contractors are the ones who go ahead and follow that recommendation!), attend workshops and access all the support offered to them and they take pride in doing good work.

The reality is that it doesn’t matter where you’re working – a more traditional environment, somewhere with a startup vibe, remotely for a brick and mortar company or strictly online – every company favors employees who work hard.

Be that worker.

Developing a Career

I wrote a while ago about diversifying yourself.  I want to reiterate that the downfalls of working online necessitate diversity and maintaining contracts or opportunities with multiple companies.

To most online companies you are an independent contractor.  That basically code for them not owing you anything. No overtime – no matter how much you work, no sick leave, maternity leave or any other leave expected in most Western work environments, no health or wellness benefits, no paid vacation, and no guarantee of work or pay.  You work as much or as little as you want within the limits of how much work they have.  If students don’t sign up for classes my wide open availability means next to nothing. I might open eight, or even 10 hours of availability in a day and still only work 2-4 hours.  The company I work for doesn’t owe me anything for available hours that go unbooked.  The deal is that I work, they pay me, and in all other aspects, I am responsible for myself.

Many people are attracted to working online because of the “set your own schedule” ability and the idea that it is flexible. As I mentioned above though, don’t expect to be paid for any time that you aren’t actively working. You don’t have to open your availability if you don’t want to – but you are going to end up wanting to work as much as possible because otherwise you’re not getting paid.

The Impact of Policy and Culture

There is generally some understanding of uncontrollable circumstances.  For example, a large windstorm took down some power lines near my home and left me without power for 24 hours one weekend.  I messaged my company and was forgiven for canceling my classes because the circumstances were beyond my control and beyond what I can reasonably be expected to cope with while maintaining quality work.

I add the caveat about coping while maintaining a reasonable level of quality in your work because if your online employer is based in another culture you may find they have a different level of tolerance for personal issues than you’ve come to expect.

Some workplaces in Canada have very open and lenient policies for things like sick leave and mental health, for example. You can not expect this from an online company.

Realize this: Your manager might support you staying home from work because of that wicked head cold but it isn’t because they feel bad for you – they just don’t want you getting them sick.  When you work from home your head cold doesn’t affect anyone else.  My sick days with my companies are extremely limited.  Not feeling well is not a reason to not work when you work at home in your PJs.

Even more prominent – mental health and what should be done for people struggling with mental health issues is a cultural knowledge.  In Canada, we have a very empathetic attitude about mental health.  Most workplaces recognize it as a genuine concern and have varying levels of support. I know many companies still fail their employees completely, however, most have good and improving policies.

When working for a company based in a culture like China, I have found that mental health is considered a nonfactor.  It falls under looking after yourself, which is considered separate from your work life and not their responsibility.

Harsh – yes, very much so. However, it is a sacrifice that comes with developing a career that ignores physical borders.  You must work fluidly between cultures and learn to meet expectations that differ from what would be expected of you if you worked strictly within your own culture.

Working from home has its own unique set of benefits – there’s absolutely no doubt about that, for me.  However, those benefits mean mentally letting go of the benefits we may have expected from a more traditional workplace.  It’s a personal decision to favor one set of benefits and deficits over the other and figure out what kind of career is going to bring you the most satisfaction.

Carmen

 

 

100 Healthy Days

I haven’t talked about my weight loss and fitness journey a whole lot even though it’s one of the main things I planned to blog about.  The truth is that’s because I haven’t really been focused on that journey as much as I intended to be.

It happens to the best of us – we were moving, traveling, socializing etc.  Life got busy and I lost focus on my weight and fitness goals.

So I got to thinking about ways I might re-focus on these goals.  I have always enjoyed a good challenge.  It adds structure to the goals and gives me a structure for measuring progress.  Perhaps more importantly, they can take the focus away from the struggle.  If I’m focused on meeting the challenges I’m less focused on the ups and downs of working out and losing weight.

100 Healthy Days

So this is the challenge I’m planning now, starting today. 100 Healthy Days is more of an idea than a set challenge – while there are lots of challenges you can find written by trainers and other health professionals that have set rules and food plans this challenge is different.  As the name suggests, it’s time-based.  The way I am setting up and thinking of the challenge is to make good choices for these 100 days.  Rather than set or subscribe to a specific plan that would dictate these aspects of my life I’m maintaining control and decision making.

There are different mini-challenges and experiments that I will try within these 100 days.  For example, my girlfriend is challenging herself to go as carb-free as possible for three weeks and assess the presence of carbs in our diet after that,  and I’m gladly following that effort to see how it will affect me.  Plus I really am a bit of a bread-o-holic and it wouldn’t hurt to reign that addiction in a little (there’s a good chance it’ll be a good step in reigning in the waistline!)

I’m also looking to return to my yoga practice beginning with a 30-day challenge from Do You Yoga and a 30 day “Original Yoga Challenge” from Bad Yogi on Youtube.

Our treadmill is currently buried from moving but my husband has made a plan to unbury it this week.   So I should be back to my couch-to-5k training next week.  I might have started training outside this week but it would appear here in Canada April is having an identity crisis and acting like an angry November so that’s not happening.

So there will be different mini challenges and experiments for me to work through and post about throughout the larger 100 days challenge.  Stay tuned for how focusing on my health and fitness goals for 100 days impacts my life and progress!

Since fitness is a visual journey there may also be a few extra updates on Instagram so find me there @OhMyMermaid.Blog

What’s your fave way to challenge yourself?

Blogging and Social media: You’re there but Why?

I am still learning on my entrepreneurial journey.  The blog is launched, posts are becoming more regular, my social media presence is growing and in every week there are lessons learned.

I share these lessons as I learn them to become the resource I crave and build my identity within this industry.  I’ve talked before about following good advice and where to start.  Today I want to talk a little about being valuable versus being accessible.

The thing is that when we start blogging, or really when we start any online project we might secretly dream of overnight fame.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we woke up and tens of thousands of people had “liked” and “followed” us?

Sure, it’d be nice but not realistic in the least.

After all, what makes people follow you?  If you read the how-to guides floating around for Instagram right now the biggest thing most of them say is be consistent.  It’s good advice but it’s leaving something out.  Be valuable. 

You can post all day long, on a consistent schedule but what are you posting? You want to be consistently valuable as much as you are consistent with anything.

The online world will demand your accessibility – people will message or comment at all hours, they’ll forget about normal family schedules and just see you as totally available to them.  There’s a lot you can do too, to foster your relationships and availability is the easy part.

The true art is in being out there and giving people content that they actually want.

Carmen

 

 

 

 

 

Polyamory and Staying True to Myself

I realized the other day that delving into this polyamorous lifestyle has expanded my world and made me feel more complete in a few ways.  I think it’s true for a lot of people that even when they have different interests than their partner, they still rely on that partner when going on new adventures and we might hesitate to stray into interests that are really far from theirs.

Take Ben and I for example.  He is a computer scientist and a musician.  His hobby time is taken up with Dungeons and Dragons, programming and band practice.  I on the other hand, don’t have the patience for D&D or the skills for music. I like reading, blogging, and yoga.

It seems like we’re very different, and we are.  However, these hobbies have been with us since before we started dating.  Ben was in a band when we met, and has always tinkered with whatever tech he can get his hands on.  Likewise, I’ve always been a reader and enjoyed yoga.  Since being together we haven’t strayed away from these core hobbies in a big way.

We’ve explored some hobbies together.  There’s a mutual love of food, a desire to travel, tv shows and events we’ve fallen in love with together.  However, there are always things I might enjoy that I know Ben would hate and things he’d like to explore that I have no interest in.  That doesn’t mean we want to explore those things alone. In some cases that’s meant just sticking with what we know and sticking with each other.

More relationships, more experiences

Until now… with Maggie and Tom in our lives, we all have more opportunities to pursue new hobbies without having to do so alone.  In my life right now that’s demolition derbies for example: In the last two years, we started going to more and more derbies to watch both Maggie and Tom have fun destroying some cars.  While Ben really enjoys watching the events, I’m fascinated by the cars and with every heat I watch I’ve wanted to be a part of it.  I wouldn’t have dared though – without Tom, I have no way to build a car, for one.  I have no knowledge and would be totally lost without a partner in crime.  It’s my relationship with Tom that has allowed me to start learning more about all things derby in a way I never would have before.

Meanwhile, Ben and Maggie have found all kinds of craft beer festivals to enjoy.  Neither Tom or I drink beer (we barely drink at all) so these events hold no interest for us.  Maggie and Ben’s relationship has given them a partnership where they can explore those interests without dragging uninterested spouses.

I never felt incomplete or unhappy in my relationship with Ben.  There are still things that we love to do together and everything we built in the last seven years still holds significant value.  We both could have lived happy lives continuing to find and explore things we enjoyed together.

As it happens, polyamory has given us the opportunity to broaden those horizons and live more true to ourselves, not just ourselves as partners to each other.

The Importance of Unique Hobbies

Not to mention, having activities and hobbies we enjoy with each partner helps differentiate each relationship so that it develops to be unique and independent of the others.  While the four of us enjoy our “pod dates” for activities we’re all excited about (usually food or go-carting related), we also enjoy having our own time with each other.

It’s important to us that each of our relationships is allowed to develop naturally and that in each of our relationships we are focused on each other, not just each other as someone else’s.

Having hobbies and activities that are unique to each couple helps with this natural development of the relationships and with the sense of each relationship being independent.

A more independent Identity

Honestly I believe when we settle in with someone for the long term – whether that’s getting married or just moving in together and planning a forever kind of life – we start attaching our identity to each other.

We become “his wife” or “her husband” or “their partner”.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this but it does affect how we make decisions about hobbies and interests.  Will our other half be interested? Will they want to go to that event? Will they enjoy this?

We do it to ourselves even without a partner – we get an idea of ourselves and who we are in our head and then start ignoring things that don’t fit that box without really thinking about it – but that’s another post.

With three partners I can’t totally attach half my identity or decision making to what I imagine they’ll think of an event or activity so instead I start recognizing my own interest first and then figuring out if I might have company – who would be most interested? Who could support me best for this interest?

Focusing on my own interest and following my own inclinations rather than filtering them through a partner’s interests has changed how I think about my time and what I enjoy – for the better! It’s made my identity more independent without making my life more lonely.

How about you? What hobbies do you enjoy with your partner?

Looking for Advice? Be Picky

Yes, even when considering mine. The thing about wanting to work from home or for yourself in any capacity – actually, the thing about ANY thing you might be searching for advice on… is that there is A LOT of advice out there.
And the big secret: a good chunk of it is good advice. But you still can’t follow all of it.

Take blogging for example. I really am a successful example of how the Western school system molds our brains to value research and hard data so with a new project in mind step one was research.  Before I logged on to wordpress, named my project or even knew what I wanted my scope and subjects to be I was reading other blogs and articles about blogging.  There’s all kinds of advice from what and how to write, to how to promote it, to sample schedules, and the list goes on.

The reality is that while it might mostly be sound advice for starting a blog, it isn’t possible to consume and then follow all of it. Pick advice that makes sense with who you are, what project you’re working on and what you want from it.

The bottom line is this: Don’t be afraid to ignore good advice.

As for deciding what to ignore, don’t overthink it. Actually, you don’t even have to look at a piece of advice and then decide to ignore it. Really, the key is finding a few sources of advice that you trust and are interested in – then, stop looking.

As long as you’re looking for advice you’ll find it. You’ll find new or different strategies, approaches, ideas, etc.  You’ll find new gurus, leaders, and writers who will want to help you on your journey.

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed from hopping around between gurus and programs the key that they promote is consistency. Regardless of the platform or product, no matter what strategy you use to promote yourself the gurus agree: you have to be consistent.

So I offer you this: be consistent with the advice you choose to follow. Even if you don’t see immediate results or you see others selling advice that promises everything you’ve ever wanted… choose your advice and follow it consistently.

The Value of Goals

When you work for yourself, chances are there aren’t a lot of opportunities for promotion. Or there are, but they look a lot different than your traditional corporate promotion and they don’t always serve as the most accurate markers of success and development.

For example, there are some limited opportunities for promotion with my teaching company in that some teachers are invited to take on non-teaching rolls with the company.  It’s a great way to add a little extra work and experience when you get these additional roles , however they may not satisfy the ladder climbing itch the way a traditional promotion does.

That’s why I want to take a second to talk about the value of Goals. Goals give us something concrete to work towards, encourage us to plan for accomplishment and to always have a plan we are paying attention to.  Reaching a goal gives us a moment when we can pause and celebrate our success.

Did you want to connect with a certain number of new clients this month – and successfully do so? Share that news with your partners or family and let them congratulate you.

Did you want to grow your social network reach by a certain number of followers and have you met that goal? Take a moment to thank those who follow you with a little #humblebrag post!

These goals help you stay focused and give your work purpose and meaning in the context of your life.

Accomplishing goals also provides the opportunity to set bigger and more ambitious goals. Much like being given a bigger role in a traditional company, feeling that bigger goals are possible for you satisfies a sort of constant growth and promotion desire.  For example, if my first goal is to reach 100 followers on instagram by the end of the month and come the end of the month I have 125 followers, perhaps my next goal will be to reach 250 in a month. Seeing success will allow me to make data-based decisions about my capabilities and see my capabilities grow through my data.

Without goals we are working solely to make money and pay bills. Ultimately this is unavoidably important but it isn’t enough to motivate us. I want to pay my bills comfortably as much as the next person but working from home and not knowing why I’m doing it other than to continue existing becomes lonely, tedious and isolating.

We crave purpose, meaning and accomplishment and we can infuse our gig-to-gig life with these elements when we set and aggressively pursue goals that mean something to us!

What are your goals? How do you measure success?

Carmen

Accidentally Polyamorous

The very first question I get when I reveal to people that my husband and I are dating another married couple is….”How on earth does something like that develop!?”

It’s a fair question, I mean when you’re married you aren’t exactly supposed to be thinking that someone else is attractive and how you might like to have a chance at dating them.

So how do 4 married people all break that rule together?

Well there’s the story we use when we don’t really want to explain: We are all very good friends and have been for years. The friendship was so close and we were all so supportive of each other that feelings it was something beyond friendship developed naturally and we’ve all consciously decided we would allow that to happen.

It’s not untrue at all, it just leaves out the actual moment when things changed. Well, the two moments.

First of all my best friend and I got wine drunk watching Game of Thrones and ended up very distracted by each other.  Even while heavily intoxicated we were having an open conversation with both of our husbands (who were present for the Game of Thrones viewing, of course) about the quickly developing interest my friend and I had in each other. They were both very okay with what was happening even though it didn’t involve them. They both knew that both of us were bisexual and accepted that having feelings for and attraction to each other didn’t change anything about the marriages.

Now, my friend and her husband had talked about having a more open relationship.  It is difficult to pin point a name – open, non-monogamous, monogamish, polyamorous…. there’s many names and formats for relationships that include more than two people.

My husband and I had not really talked about actively engaging in anything like this. In passing of course we had chatted about it. I would come home and say “Hey my friend —- has this cool relationship where they see more than one person on these terms. Have you ever wanted anything like that or thought about having us and something more?” The conclusion was always the same: He was open to something like that at some point but the time was never now. There was always enough love between us and we made each other so happy. We had more growing to do together before we wanted to seriously consider adding someone else in any arrangement.

Then, a few weeks after the Game of Thrones my husband tried to send a sexy message to me requesting I send something sexy back but, as happens from time to time with our phones, he missed my name and sent it to my best friend.

Of course we tease him about how that’s a great excuse for when you send your wife’s best friend a sexy message out of nowhere one Tuesday morning.

She immediately messaged me and asked what I thought – should she tease him? Ignore it as a mistake? Or fulfill the request just to see what he would even do?

He also messaged me right away to make sure I knew what had happened.

I was busy getting ready and told both of them to have fun with their conversation and that they should send to each other whatever they felt comfortable with. I trusted both of them and really just needed to get ready for work.

As they started to enjoy flirting and teasing each other my best friend texted me to say if her and my husband were getting to connect, I should send her husband a message. I did – to say that I was on my way to work but I had a little time to chat. We got to work on getting to know each other more than anything else but Tuesday wasn’t over yet.

After work my husband called and asked what I wanted to do about the days developments and getting caught up. I told him to bring KFC home and we could chat about where we were at and where we wanted it to go.

Once we decided that we were both interested in continuing the flirtation and taking our friendship in to something more we called our friends and went to their house.

We sat around the campfire redesigning our own marriages, and how we related to each other.  We formalized my best friend and I’s habit of hooking up in to a relationship we both acknowledged out loud, and agreed that we would also start seeing each others husbands.

A few weeks later we settled on the terms dating, boyfriend and girlfriend. We have been so happy together that sometimes it amazes even us.

And that’s the long answer to “How on earth does something like that develop!?”

 

Carmen