Life's been a whirlwind for Polly Amorie this past month. I have some newsy bits for you and some observations to share as well.
First the newsy bits:
Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (www.polyadvocacy.ca) is looking at projects and advocacy opportunities with the legal stuff now taking a backseat. They are seeking proactive members from across Canada for various committees working on everything from moderating email lists, web design, planning conferences, developing a poly leadership network with a forum for communicating and collecting resource information to facilitate a refining of a focused advocacy effort and future legal advances for the many families practicing polyamory in Canada. Want to get involved? Contact them through the website. Recruitment for specific projects will gear up after their AGM on March 25, 2012.
Dating Challenges for Poly/Open Relationships - May 31 from 7:00 - 9:00 pm at SPARC (Sex Positive Arts and Resource Centre) 450 Montreal St, Victoria. $10 donation per person proceeds to PolyFamilyCampBC. This is a panel forum with audience discussion encouraged. Panel members will provide experienced tips on meeting men and women to date, dating couples, dating for bi-sexual men and women, dating ettiquette in general, talking to your dating partners about polyamory, opening your relationship, strategies, really bad moves and how to repair the mess. Excellent for new to poly/open relationships and those who are experienced.
PolyFamilyCampBC is scheduled for July 13 to 16 at Gordon Bay Provincial Park Group Camping area. This park is on Lake Cowichan. The site has a communal cooking shelter, hot showers and privacy for attendees to enjoy a stream of adult activities and workshop, a terrific child and youth program running concurrently and intergenerational activities as well. $40 per adult (16 yrs or older) early bird discount if you register and pay before July 1 and children/youth 15 and under are free with a one time family/tribe/camping group child/youth programming fee of $20. Registration opened March 3rd and you can access information and the registration form at http://sites.google.com/site/polyfamilycampbc/ Also please "like" the Facebook fan page PolyFamilyCampBC.
Observations: Women, poly and beautiful surroundings.
This past month I was able to attend a women's retreat at Big Fish Lodge in Port Renfrew, British Columbia. This is an amazing cozy place which can be rented by the bedroom but this group had the entire facility. There is a backpackers hostel across the street from it owned by the same group. Very friendly management and luxurious accommodations. Schedule of activities was flexible and division of provisions, cooking and clean up was well organized as was car pooling. The organizers did very well and the women attending arrived with good intentions and cooperative spirits. I tend to be a bit of an introvert in the company of women. I joke that I've lost my manual for female to female friendships and intimacy options. I made a conscious effort to participate fully though and was rewarded with some very interesting conversations and sharing moments. There were so many common discussion themes of women struggling in their relationships with their lovers, children, co-workers, extended family and with themselves. I think women in general are too hard on themselves with comparatives overwhelming from all angles and sources but poly women find dealing with their own issues an essential component of multi-partnered relationship development. These women were so gentle and supportive of each other yet sharing such a scourge of hard judgements on their own efforts. One of the chat sessions we had involved making three statements about another woman in the group that acknowledged and praised some aspect of her personality, approach to life or activities and then had you make three statements acknowledging something about yourself. I heard some amazingly insightful statements and saw the respondents moved to tears by the observations of others and the new understanding that somehow they had made an impact just being true to themselves. The statements made to me completely floored me and I was able to see clearly that the things that are key to who I want to be are observed as being who I already am. There's an epiphany for you. I had become that woman despite my hard self-judgements to the contrary. The woman I was partnered with for the exercise is a charming and very endearing transgender woman who I know well and it was a delight to make acknowledging statements about her - in fact quite difficult to select only three. I found it really tough to think of three about myself though. So what has this to do with being polyamorous? Most but not all of the women at this retreat espouse the philosophy of polyamory although not necessarily currently in a multiple partnered relationship. There was comment that some of us have more than our "share" of lovers and perhaps others could do partner respite care. While meant to be humorous the idea that we take love away from other people by having more than the western monogamous ideal is commonly expressed even in such a setting of people who understand the concept of unlimited love and compersion. Following on that discussion was a discussion on how to be more successful at meeting new partners who also espoused the philosophy of polyamory and in particular how as women to meet and date other women who were lesbian or bi-sexual and understanding of polyamory. It was interesting to hear the stories of those present who had dating nightmare stories to share. We explored back roads and lush old rainforest, had lunch and a circle gathering under a 900 year old tree. We wandered along the beachfront collecting bits of memorabilia. We did art work, needle work, played music, danced, sang, laughed, cried and talked and talked and talked and talked. We cooked for each other and ate new and different things. There was chocolate covered strawberries, wine and plenty of terrific baked goodies to spoil and feed us. And sixteen women, some who had never met before, each found that they had sixteen dear friends to take home in their heart including a new or stronger friendship with themselves.
First rule of polyamory: Be your own primary partner. Understand, accept and love yourself.
Observations: Family is defined by your own heart.
One of my partners had surgery just over a week ago. It was supposed to be day surgery as it was a laproscopic gall bladder removal but there was a chance that they'd keep him in overnight. I accompanied him to the hospital and was prepared to wait with him until they took him to the operating room. The nursing staff had other ideas and I was handed a piece of paper with a number to call and a time when he'd likely be back from recovery to the day surgery area. I'd take the day off work but decided to go to work since he didn't need me. I called at the appointed time and was told that they didn't have anyone by that name. So I went to the hospital, presented the paper and said I had a receipt for my boyfriend could they please return him. The receptionist called around and found that they had just moved him to another area and I found him. I was allowed in to see him briefly as he was still quite sleepy from the anesthesia. The nurse wanted me to take his prescriptions to the pharmacy for him since I'd be waiting for at least an hour more. I said that I didn't have his wallet for his benefits card and likely he'd have to do it himself. "Oh, You're not family then." she says. I said I live with him, he's just not on my benefits plan. "Oh, so not his wife. We best leave them then." she says and shoos me into the waiting room. Well I was a bit offended. And I spent a fair bit of time thinking about documents that ought to be in place as we grow older to ensure that he and my other partner and I are not excluded from decisions and access to each other in this kind of situation. My other partner's estranged wife was quite ill a few years back and the hospital would only talk to him about her care as he is still legally her husband. Her step-mother was quite incensed about it. He and I talked about it at the time because the reverse would be true too. They'd only talk to the ex and I'd be excluded. With the decision on section 293 comes relief as we have no ceremony to bind us and make us illegal yet we have no ceremony or documents to bind us and define our family for instances like this. We don't count. I don't think the state should define what constitutes "family" and "next of kin". I think that we should be able to define that ourselves.
On the flip side of that, our house has a basement suite which our landlord has been unable to rent since evicting the last tenants in mid November. Recently a lovely woman and her toddler daughter have moved in. The owner of the house is aware that we are a poly triad but also I gather the tenants of the house and suite have not always got along. For either reason, the owner told this new tenant not to approach us. He didn't tell us that and we'd not comply anyway because we don't roll like that. My one partner introduced himself at the first polite moment and told her to drop in anytime to meet the rest of us. She had us down for coffee a few nights later when we all home. She's a dead ringer for one of my best friend from kindergarten through high school days. Looks very much like her, sounds like her and has similar mannerisms. She's glad to have neighbours who are open minded and easy to get along with. We've had several interactions since and look forward to a friendly relationship. She invited herself and her daughter to Christmas 2012 family dinner and our monthly board games night. She and her daughter are welcome additions to our house and our household. We have kids, dating partners of kids, roommates, ex spouses, ex spouses' parents, parents, close friends and now neighbours who are our family of choice.
Second rule of polyamory: Family, Tribe or Poly-cule includes the far reaches of your heart. Love (with all its forms and faces) is an unlimited replenishing resource that can be shared exponentially if you set it free. Knowing that sets you free at the same time.