Saturday, September 20, 2014

Friday, November 15, 2013

Polly on Tour - Columbus, Ohio - Conference spoiler

I'm in Columbus, Ohio for Beyond The Love conference and Poly Summit. 
I'm going to post here - if I can make technology work for me - the handouts for the sessions that I am presenting.  I'm up against some hot topics so if you can't make my session or can't make the conference at all, this will give you an idea of what we intended to cover.  The first two are based on chapters from my new book: Love Alternatively Expressed available shortly.  The third one is based on sessions of the Eclectic Writers' Boot Camp which is a Facebook and real life group of writers sponsored by Filidh Publishing, Victoria, BC.  Filidh is looking for poly voices in literature and it is also my business.   Watch for details on my new book's release and purchase options.

Practical Poly - Room A 10:30 -11:45am Saturday
Joy of Poly - Room C 1:00 - 2:15 pm  Saturday
Writers' Boot Camp - Room B  9:00 - 10:15 am  Sunday
More details on the conference as it progresses.

Polly on Tour - Toronto leg

What an amazing week!!  I arrived in Toronto from Victoria on November 7th.  I had a lovely uneventful flight.  My brother picked me up from the airport and I stayed at his family home for several nights before and after the Playground 2013 conference.  I also stayed a couple of nights with friends in Brampton. 
I had several agendas going with this trip - ever the multi-tasking queen - gee I must be poly.

1. The conference:  I had agreed to be a panel member for one session on the Sunday and do a volunteer shift at the registration desk on the Saturday.  Playground is a sex positive community event which is inclusive of all forms of non-monogamy.  My purpose was to represent the poly community and network.  The registration desk was a perfect spot to greet attendees, sponsors, vendors and speakers as they arrived and get a face to a name to approach later with business card.  The panel I participated in was concerning Non-Monogamy in Canada and community building in particular.  That gave me opportunity to work with Anlina Sheng and Samantha Fraser who are two very effective community building bunnies and much fun to work with.  Discussion guide is uploaded here if you are wondering what that session was about.  The answers aren't though so you missed out but I've put it in my new book coming out next month:  Love Alternatively Expressed

2. Family and friends:  connecting and renewing friendships and family relationships was why I agreed to come to Toronto in the first place.  That was wonderful and its peculiar how we all went our separate ways and found ourselves all into similar healing solutions etc.

3.  Business:  Networking and finding stores to stock my book and one of my clients' books.  I found three books stores where one is interested in his book and two very interested in mine.  Possibilities of author read/sign and workshops to be presented.  Very successful networking.

4.  Community:  To find out where the Toronto poly community was meeting and join them if possible.  I missed the one group's meeting as it was the previous Monday but I did catch another meet and then one was arranged for me specifically to discuss the possibility of a PolyCon in the Toronto area.  There is much enthusiasm and watch this blog for details as they unfold!!!

So on all points this was a successful trip and I left Toronto last night tired but uplifted.  I also had some thinking to do over comments made during the conference about inclusion and inadvertent exclusion in our community events.  Anytime a particular group is exposed to an ism - racism, sexism and so on - there will be phrasing, attitudes, mannerisms, types of activities and so on that are triggers associated with that negative - ism experience.  If you aren't part of the group that has experienced that you might not be aware of it and the word in your event notices, the location, the type of event etc will speak to them as excluding them.  Hopefully that wasn't your intent but it will impact attendance at your events.  Look around at the next one.  How many people attending regularly are NOT in a heterosexual couple or possibly bi-sexual configuration?  How many are LGBT?  Our Victoria groups are most certainly open to attendance by anyone who doesn't flame the concept.  What is it that stays that we exclude people who are not couples seeking a third or other couples?  We have the occasional new poly person come out who identifies as Gay, Lesbian or Trans but they don't come back because they are the only one.  To be sex positive is to include every form of adult sexuality is it not?  In theory, we do but not so much in practice.  JD Hobbs made a very good comment to my earlier posting on Finding Community that might have hit the nail on the head.  The comment indicated that some of that person's hesitancy to join the communities available was the incestuous nature of small communities.  I got all twitchy at the word incestuous but the commenter has a point in the likely intended thought that everyone knows everyone in a small town and discretion would go out the window.  However, there is also a lot of dating within poly groups and many times the only folks regularly attending are of the same tribe and if not lovers - some form of extended family.  That might be the unintended exclusion messages that people not sleeping with you and not really interested in you/your gender/your version of poly would see as a pretty good reason to attend something else.  Having no one of potential date material definitely turns some people away.   Also have huge drama in the middle of a poly meet because the intimacy of a tribe might tolerate it but it will drive newbies away.  I still remember attending a poly meet in nearby community and having two of the organizing tribe scream derogatory comments at each other from opposite ends of a huge table in a restaurant with some 30 attendees of the meet talking quietly among themselves and not even acknowledging the argument.

Dr. Ruth Neustifter is an amazing speaker who participated in several sessions on in particular was with regards to this sex-positive stuff and being inclusive.  She encouraged us to develop a definition of 'sex-positive' for ourselves that is clear so that as we wander in the world and encounter those who claim to be so can be assessed against it.  Exclusivity being somewhat insidious and sliding right past us otherwise.  Good idea.  When I attended this and another conference a few years back called Sex 2.0, I found that the attendees were from the sex trade workers community, or more militant LGBT group members and the undertone of rage and so much left to fight was a bit disturbing.  Very different atmosphere from poly conferences.  It occurred to me that we poly peeps need to get some of that rage on and make some noise.  We need to fight some battles.

Dr. Ruth also talked about a denial of self-care that is rampant.  We shame ourselves into believing that other people suffer more and no one else will do it.  We participate in a cult of exhaustion and must make ourselves understand that will be more useful rested.  We must honour the path others have forged and take care of ourselves.  Tired people are complacent and we need to grab onto that rage and fight the battles for our rights.  We also have a lack of practice.  We have no idea how to relax and the suggestion of using technology to set alarms to remind ourselves to drink water, eat, walk away from the computer etc.  was suggested.  ( - set reminders in advance)
Read more from Dr. Ruth at

Today I arrived in Columbus, Ohio and am going to attend the Beyond The Love conference and Poly Summit this weekend before returning home to Victoria, BC on Monday. 

Details of that conference soon.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Finding other people with whom to be poly

I had someone recently contact me on OKCupid to ask how to be poly without going the monogamous couple who eventually maybe might kinda sorta try poly after 10 years angle.  I told him to go where poly people go and add himself to a poly relationship configuration or build his own.  My own relationship configuration began with two of us forming an open relationship from the get go.  We found the idea of poly first, then each other and finally added people to our Circle of Love.  Well not so much a circle as a wacky chemistry diagram, but whatever works.

Local poly group events are a start.
Conventions, conferences, workshop weekends and any other twist of the concept of learning, sharing and finding community are excellent opportunities to network and just plain meet people.  Seeking out these opportunities is a good way to expand your Circle of Love exponentially.  Or add yourself to one.

 How is this different from hitting the bar with the local poly group?  Meeting NEW people for one but frequently, with the wide connections that the internet provides, amongst the new people will be someone you talked to in a forum or their partner.  Being away from the usual scenarios provides a bit of adventure and playfulness to things when the business of the day is done.  You might connect and remain long term friends or lovers for years hence or you might just be ships that pass in the night.  You might meet someone who eventually falls in love with your partner's other partner.  Poly is cool like that.

It is an opportunity to observe and possibly meet/have conversation with the leaders in a particular community and get all nervous fan silly.  This past weekend I attended a convention for Sci Fi and Fantasy fans in Vancouver called VCon.  It was their 38th year and while they have the planning down to a science - science is not perfect and one can't anticipate everything.

 Unless they built a time machine and went forward a year noted the problems and returned to prevent them!!!! 

ah hem....anyway.  Having survived riding herd on the planning of PolyCon last May in Vancouver, I paid a bit more attention to how this convention was organized and what happened when issues arose.  It was very interesting and made me feel that we did pretty well for a first time convention.  Mostly good luck rather than wisdom on our part.  PolyCon was attended by just under 100 people and had several streams of workshops delving into the practical, political and possible of polyamory.  We had some community superstars present and a bit of a fan base building for them with great media attention.  I didn't get to schmooze as much as I'd have liked to as I needed to keep on those issues that arise, but I did make some connections and foster some friendships.

I look forward to attending Playground Conference 2013 in Toronto from November 8 to 10 where I will represent the West Coast poly community on a panel. This is a sex positive community conference and a great place to facilitate awareness of the philosophy and practice of polyamory.  I hope to connect with the Toronto poly community and do a book reading/signing of my new book "Love Alternatively Expressed".   Details on that conference at

A week later (November 15 to 17) I will be presenting workshops and hanging out at Beyond The Love 2013 which is a first time conference for the poly community of Columbus, Ohio.  I'm a bit nervous of this event because I've only been through Ohio on the way to Florida when dinosaurs walked and I was a teenager.  I find the folks organizing the event to be very warm and suspect this will be much like going to visit relatives I haven't seen in years.  I look forward to sharing with them in the sessions and social side of the conference.  Details about that conference at

Locate community even within a bigger event.  There is often a poly contingent at conventions that concern themselves with Sci Fi, Fantasy, Cosplay, Steampunk and so on.  There are poly folks at BDSM conventions.  We are every where.   Find the poly conferences, retreat weekends, and conferences. Many of them are listed on Facebook somewhere - just search "poly".

The Polyamory in the News blog or written by my amazing friend, Alan, is great for poly news and information but he also keeps a list of events to attend.
 Another great source for events around the world is this calendar

An excellent idea for networking in preparation for a move to a new city is to check out the local poly group online or attend a camp, conference, retreat or convention in that area ahead of the move or shortly thereafter.

Step outside yourself and risk getting to know someone new.  In that encounter you will learn something about yourself and open the door to the most amazing experiences.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Riding the Waves

How do surfers ride those amazing waves?  The long answer involves discussions of technique and physical strength and of course balance.  The short answer is ...they stay on the surf board.

Sometimes practicing poly involves staying on the surf board despite all kinds of reasons not to.  Riding the wave of this emotional crisis and learning to compromise or stand up for yourself or whatever it takes to have the love survive.  Sometimes being sure that its over and coming to an acceptance of that is easier than having it all fall back into place and move on trying not to look for the other shoe to fall or the crisis to revive.
Sometimes it takes sleepless nights filled with quiet tears.  Sometimes its sitting in your boss' office with your supervisor passing you tissues while you sob like a baby because your bi-weekly clinical supervision session began with her asking  "So everything okay at home?"  Regardless of how many lovers adorn your life, when one of them falls apart the pain is a universally understood thing.  That much we share as humans regardless of our relationship philosophy.

This has been a wild year.  The Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association hosted PolyCon in May.  It was a terrific success with very supportive media reports and a goodly number in attendance for a first time event.  There were excellent workshops, a diversity of perspectives and much successful networking of poly community members from across Canada and the western US.  I've had follow up interviews regarding it and the CPAA's next focus with radio and print  media ever since.  The feel of the media is more supportive and more informed than the media contacts during the court case and within a month of  the decision announcement there wasn't much media interest.  This time keeping poly in the public's attention hasn't been an issue.  Awareness is happening!!!!

We had an expected amount of trauma pulling it off both financially and logistically but pull it off we did.  I think it took me a month to recover from the stress and sheer exhaustion of organizing it.  I would have never been able to do it on my own and I'm very grateful for some great helpers. We did end up substantially in the hole on the expenses of it  so please feel free to donate or purchase collectors' swag and carry on the awareness.

 The interesting thing about being a poly organizer bunny is that it puts stress on those around you and pulls you away so you aren't able to participate in normal life as much.  You might not notice that your loves are either supportive and okay with it or drifting off to be appreciated elsewhere.  From my perspective either is  understood and appreciated as a reasonable response.  It is hard to be in love with someone who is very public and very devoted to being in the forefront of a movement for change.  Most often all their time, money and energy is not being spent on you.  We try to keep a balance but there are times when we just can't do that.  If you love us, most likely the fire that burns and drives us to be organizer bunnies is one of the things that attracted you to us in the first place.   I can put that part of me aside for a bit but not for long.  It is who I am.  The drive to change the world or some small part of it is so deep in my psyche that to roll over and go back to sleep while someone else might do it is just not going to sit well with me.

I have preferences.  We all do.  I have things that I just don't ever want to do - like the Capilano Swinging Bridge - and then there are things that I am not particularly comfortable with but could be persuaded.  Moving to Vancouver would be in that category.  I like Victoria.  My family and job are here but given a good reason and some transition time - I might move there.  I don't know the city well and probably gripe about that too much.

In the midst of the PolyCon planning, I discovered that I had not one but three new grandchildren, my youngest child moved out to live with his new family, one of my partners dove head long into NRE with what presented as a Cowgirl and I travelled 14 hours by bus to attend the birth of a grandson and be reconnected with that son's father.   (A cowgirl is a monogamous woman who "ropes" a poly guy from a poly tribe and gets him to be monogamous with her.)  The partner got a job in Vancouver and was all set to move there with Cowgirl.  He discussed it with my other live in partner who was thinking about transferring to a Vancouver office and following.  Nobody discussed this with me.  A least not in a serious way that caught my attention.  Could be that it was mentioned and I had my brain in PolyCon or grandkids or money worries.  Who knows?  I admit to being a bit thick when I'm focused on getting things achieved.

Anyway, it was a done deal when I figured it out.  My partner told me that he knew I didn't like Vancouver so didn't ask me to move with him. I was devastated.  Big shock thinking that my little triad was happy and that they loved being together as much as I did only to find that they were eager to be elsewhere.  For them it was the excitement of moving to Vancouver and being part of sporting organization than that they were leaving ME.  They both figured that we'd be a two city household for a bit and then transition.  I took it very personally mostly because the communication around it sucked like an enormous vacuum cleaner.  I felt that I had been lied to and manipulated at worst and that they had assumed a lot without consultation at best.

Ended up that the job fell through, the Cowgirl got cold feet and the move never happened.  We'd given notice on our apartment and I just couldn't get with the program on finding another place.  I didn't know who the hell I was housing for one thing and even when it was established that the one partner wasn't going to move and that his heart was broken - I had no trust in that not happening again at any given moment.

Trust is what keeps you on that poly surf board.   Mine was pretty wobbley.

We had some discussions as a trio and individually.  Finally we were able to find that solid triad - ness again.
Its a good thing we did because our landlord made life very uncomfortable and the move was a small chunk of hell.  We now are in a smaller place which will help our financial picture improve so that we can transition to a two city household.  Vancouver may be in my retirement plans.  The door is open to what the future provides.

The lessons?  Don't take your relationships for granted.  Constant feedback and touching base on agreements, issues, plans and dreams.  Go forward as a team but be supportive of individual goals and needs that might unbalance things for a bit.

No matter how rough the water.  Hold onto the trust and ensure you are trustworthy - and stay on the poly surf board.  Ride the waves.

Hang Ten, bbbaby.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Cycle of Life

Often in sharing what polyamory is like I have invoked the analogy of having many children and loving them all the same amount but differently in terms of what works best as one interacts with each child.  Having multiple lovers is very much like that, I would say.  In the perfect scenario, that's the case but not always.  Still it is a reasonable analogy that makes sense to someone new to the concept of polyamory.

In the last year I have begun to welcome grandchildren into my life.  It occurs to me that this life stage is an excellent analogy for compersion. I have two grandchildren who I only became aware of months after their births as their mothers are no longer girlfriends of my 22 year old son. (Yes, one can preach safer sex but that doesn't mean anyone listens.) Both moms and babes live with the mothers' parents and they are the primary grandparents.  I have mediated for our family's involvement and see them occassionally and not nearly enough but schedules are like that and as a poly person I get that and inclusive extended family a bit better than the average bear.  Still being a secondary grandparent in terms of access is a tough one.

Recently, I watched another son and his girl friend work together with maturity beyond their eighteen years to bring a beautiful baby girl into the world.  They were supported by her mother and the midwife for most of it with a doctor and nursing staff addressing the actual delivery.  I was not present for the actual birth but helped spell them off in support of her contractions and I got the first photo of the newborn.  I remember very clearly the birthing of my children and this was a rather surreal third party experience.  I'm so proud of my son and his girl friend who I have long viewed as a daughter.  I'm happy for them and can't wait for my next snuggles.  I'm happy that my son is surrounded by so much love.  I did feel a bit left out.  My baby having a baby and all that but I was most privileged to be involved as was needed.

The analogy to compersion comes from being head over heels in love with these three amazing children and having to stand back as  I'm not the parent and not the primary caregiver. I'm also not the only grand parent nor the one with the most access and availability.  I'm happy that they are loved and well tended.  I love them and can't wait to spend time with them.  Compersion is being happy that your lover is being loved by someone else they love.  It goes beyond sharing to being happy that someone is loved even if it isn't you doing the kissing.   Grandparenthood in a nutshell.  Being so full of love and bursting for that dear little baby that your heart overflows to see the look on their parents' faces at each new wonderment and you cry with joy when you see the other gramma do it.  Compersion.

Just when you think you can't possibly be happier - a cute little face looks up at you and your heart explodes.  Life is very very good.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

and more on dating

I did it.  I dusted off my list - sort of.  There's a new app that goes with OKCupid called Crazy Blind Date.  I installed it and said when I would be available in the next week.  I updated my various profiles both in the text part and in the photo part.  And I waited.  Well I perved other people's profiles too but mostly I waited.

Crazy Blind Date found me a date within a day or two for three days hence.  I message the guy and tell him to look for my jacket. They give you a name and a photo that is cut into cubes and mixed around so you can see bits but not the full face.  I decided the wisdom of OKCupid was trustworthy enough and showed up at the location on the appointed date and time.  Early actually.  I bought a cup of tea and sat where I could see both entrances.  It's only Timmy's not some dark bar.  It's 7:00pm not after midnight. I'm in a public place but my partner sits on the other side of the restaurant surfing on the free WiFi.  Just to be sure that I'm safe meeting a stranger.  I'm more worried that I've no clue what to talk about.

I wait. 7:00pm
And wait. 7:30pm
And wait. 7:45 pm

At 10 to 8 I see a little number one go up beside the icon for the Crazy Blind Date app on my phone.  I've a message from the guy.  "Hey I didn't realize this date was a go and just now checked the app.  I can still come but will take me 30 minutes to get to Timmy's."

Hmm.  Not sure if I want to give him points for messaging me at all or bounce him to the curb for being a putz. I won't agree to waiting for him to show as its getting late and I have to consider keeping my partner waiting around on the other side of the restaurant.  He says he's just ended a relationship and just wants some casual friends.  Hmm.  I decide that I'll take the middle ground and swap email addresses and OKCupid profile names for another time.  We do this.  I see that his profile has a photo and very little else and he's new to OKCupid with none of the "questions" answered that the system uses to tell you if you are compatible. Clearly the matchmaking factor was entirely availability.  I leave it to him to contact me as agreed and as I've not heard a word figure he's not into polyamory which is all over my profile.  My daughters' cats can do better matchmaking.

I have had several people contact me on OKCupid recently too.  It seems to get busy as either Spring or Christmas draw near.  Horny and Lonely times?  No idea but it is like clockwork every year. 

Here's a recent conversation:
SOMEDUDE: Hi [My ID but spelled wrong]. I want to be adventrous suddenly. I must admit I do not have any experience. Tell me more please

SOMEDUDE: Good Morning sweet Lady - can we meet or chat beffore I pull out from here tomorrow.

ME: Thanks for your notes. I'm just recovering from a couple of days down with the flu so not up for it.

SOMEDUDE:I want to pull out of the site. I am embarrassed as some ladies have turned me down. When can I know of your decision ? I wish you speedy recovery. Please boil ginger in hot water and add little lemon and honey. Drink it and your flu will disappear sooner

SOMEDUDE: Thank you for the response. Give me good news please 

SOMEDUDE:  I just realized you are in Victoria. Do you want to recommend a lady to me in Vancouver area please

ME: Here's my opinion only: no photo is a no for me. Your message was very friendly and kind hearted. I don't get that from your profile. You may be lonely and depressed but that is not good advertising. Profile should tell me enough to interest me. You want sex and you drink is what I get from yours. So that is you and about 10 other guys on this site everyday for most women. What is there about you that makes you different? Put that in your profile unless it is the size of your penis. Women want to be inspired by your kindness or swept away by your romantic side. Very few want to rescue someone from lack of sex. There are some though so change your profile or carry on as you see fit. For me, there is nothing of interest in what you have written to motivate me to meet you. I wish you good fortune.

SOMEDUDE: Thank you. I get what you say. I think I will give up for the time being. Best of luck ffor you 

So besides the points I noted in my response, you know why this guy is getting no where?  No photo and high pressure.  Desperation is NOT a turn on.

Is any of this different because I'm poly.  Well in the first instance, I much prefer to be upfront about being poly.  I won't be mono ever again.  Not a lifestyle choice but an absolute core part of my personality.  I multi-task and happily share everything.  So yeah not enough criteria in the match making process on that app for me.  Even the better criteria of a custom search on OKCupid itself doesn't help me.  Most of the people who would put polyamory in their profile on OKCupid and are local to me, I already know and have dated or we've mutually crossed each other off the to date list.  I hate long distance relationships.

And really the crux of it is that I have two awesome men in my life full time as well as two and sometimes three kinda cute other men in my life when the schedule goddesses cooperate - I'm just a tad fussy pants about who else to add to all those balls in the air - pardon the pun.

I wouldn't mind to find a girl friend though.  Bi-sexuality being quite common in the poly community, I know I'm not alone in that wish.  In Vancouver they have an active Bi Women's group and from that have come speed dating events and coming up in April -  Aunt Poly's Slow Dating for Women who Date Women ( ) where you fill out a survey and they match you with other women for a 10 minute date at the event.
The problems for me are the interactions of new people with my existing relationships and an extreme ineptness at woman to woman bonding. Also when your schedule is so complicated you are just willing to compromise on fewer things.

Why don't I just be happy with what I've got and give it up?  I do for the most part actually.  I multi-task more that just my love life and my universe is a very busy place.  Too pooped to pop.  Still, there is that part of me that feels the lack of a feminine bond  - a BFF - a playmate.

 Key for poly dating is keeping a balance of time and energy between new partners and existing partners.  That is not always easy to monitor when you are in the depths of new relationship energy but even after that has faded it is really important to touch base frequently to make sure what you perceive is accurate.

Key for any king of dating is keeping the search to the idea that making new friends is the objective and long term love or sexual interactions could be a bonus along the way but is not the goal of dating.  Then relax and have fun.  Interacting with other people should be more like a day at an adventure theme park and less like exploratory surgery.    

Relax.  Take the risk to make a new friend.  Be true to your self  but polite and respectful in your treatment of others. Yeah that means respond to messages with a no thanks and show up if you book a date.  Don't scope them out and leave without saying hi.  We all have feelings and egos.  Do not however be so polite that you make yourself unsafe. 

Good luck in your travels and comment here to tell me how you do.  Now....where was that link to Aunt Poly's event?????