My apologies for the summer of silence on this blog. It has been a very busy summer and lots of stretches to my personal poly-ness.
Hmm....where to start.
June to mid July was spent pulling together programming and resources for PolyFamilyCampBC, held at Gordon Bay Provincial Park on Lake Cowichan, Vancouver Island. Every year for the past probably ten years I've been involved and often the solo effort behind a group camping experience for my local poly community. This year was hands down the best one ever. So many people came forward to participate in one way or another and showed true commitment from idea to follow though. They needed me to guide and keep them on timeline but that's about it. It was wonderful. My carload arrived first and were able to have things set up and organized so that the others could quickly follow up and be involved as planned. Then one of the teens who had come with us had an accident with a hatchet while he helped prepare kindling for the evening campfire. We had to take him for a 45 minute drive to the nearest hospital. I handed my clip board with registration and schedule info on it to the nearest planning committee volunteer and left. They worked together and everything ran like a charm. I was worried about the injury which looked worse that in was and when we returned the group of folks who were from all over and not necessarily acquainted had pulled together for a weekend of poly community that is the goal but frequently not the achievement in these types of events. I was very impressed and felt privileged to have lucked into such a terrific group. The variety show and a spontaneous water balloon battle were too of the highlights where I watched people of all ages work and laugh together. It was a happy poly moment for sure. I'd actually thought that last year was my final year of organizer bunny for this event but was persuaded to do one more year. I really feel as if the planning committee which was totally new for this year is good to go on their own for next year as there is some very strong leadership amongst them and some very amazing creativity.
The rest of July and August was spent working on materials for two workshops that I would be presenting at PolyCamp NW in Olympia, Washington in late August. I also had a vendors booth at that event and was gathering some of my published work for that. I did a Writer's Boot Camp workshop at PolyFamilyCampBC as well as at this Washington camp. Helping people who like to write get themselves organized to publish is part of my business at Filidh Publishing (www.filidhbooks.com) and I run a Facebook group for authors as well as IRL meetings (Eclectic Writer's Boot Camp). The preparation for that workshop went fairly smoothly and both sessions over the summer were exciting with some very unique voices amongst participants. The second workshop for PolyCamp NW caused me more angst. Safer Sex for Teens was the title and while I've done safer sex workshops for adults before this was a much different audience. As my children were growing up, our house was the place to hang out and talk to "Mom" about troubling issues. I had many chats about how to talk to your boy/girl friend about being ready for sex, using condoms, pregnancy, drug/alcohol use at parties and a whole host of adult stuff that lands on a teenagers radar much earlier that most parents realize. I'm always mindful that my preferences as a parent for my children may not be another parent's preference and would often offer to help the kid talk to his/her parents about what was troubling them. So this workshop topic was a good fit for me and my co-facilitator who is a public health nurse with lots of teen contact in her place of work. The issue of what resources and laws are in place in Washington state (as opposed to British Columbia where we both live) around teenagers accessing medical testing, contraceptives, and safer sex supplies was a research point. Also the poly component. Teenagers who live in poly households, like any other teenager would most likely have an understanding of communication between adults as more open and agreements being in place but would of course not privy to the actual discussions or activities. The workshop was an amazing experience of listening to the kids and parents who attended and just being in the moment of curiousity with them. I promised to post the notes from that to this blog so that great bunch of kids could access the resources for later reminders and pass info on to their friends. The support of parents and easy atmosphere of the session was a very happy poly moment.
I had opportunity this summer to watch a few episodes of Polyamory: Married and Dating which belatedly became available to Canadian viewers. I like that its getting wide attention. I like that its keeping the concept out there and creating awareness. The term "polyamory" covers a broad spectrum of activity and personally those actors get way more sex than I do too, but it is still a very good show. I was tweaked by other things. For instance in the episode when the trio came to the quad's place for their first poly potluck:
1. the one woman says that she'd expected a sex party
2. the vetoed woman was allowed to attend the potluck despite the wife's discomfort
3. all the tongue sucking kissing going on
As an organizer, I had pause to wonder if people who see our notices for potlucks in private homes are expecting sex parties too. That would explain several things from hesitant attendance to an air of disappointment from a rather exuberant former attendee. It actually never occurred to me that one would see potluck and thing dessert was sex. Yes, yes...I am naive at times. Which brings me to point 3. People at our events hug and kiss but I generally don't get a throat swabbing with those greetings. That one character, Tahl, is a bit of a creep with his lower brain doing most of the driving in my opinion anyway. However, I'm wondering if parties in California are waaaaay different than up here in the Canadian zone.
Point two interested me. We've had poly configurations break up and issues like this in our local poly communities and when one is the organizer it is really difficult to manage the fall out of stuff like this. I thought the quad handled it very well as did the wife. The woman in question was a bit over the top with bringing flowers for "the woman of the house" which would have been fine had they been for both women of the house. I thought she was brave to attend the event at all though.
Conflicts are part of being human. The great thing about poly is that we have an opportunity to set them out on the table and work them out. Pushing the envelope on your comfort and allowing change and compromise to enter into the discussion is extremely valuable and exhausting. But definitely worthwhile.
This summer has been full of shifts in my work both as an employee and a business owner. There has been a lot of overtime and working from home to accommodate new responsibilities at my regular job. I also shifted hats in my business from being an author to being a publisher and promoter of another author. I hadn't really sought more than a mentor role but was approached by this author to take the ropes and get her published. It too has meant a lot of overtime and left no time for any writing of my own including this blog. I've been working on a book about being poly in Canada and a historical fantasy novel. Both projects call to me and I make brief notes but long to devote some time to writing them. All of this is very much like my poly relationships in that I try to make sure all my loves have some attention and hope that they will bear with me as I devote more to the one at this time. Transferable skills? Perhaps.
This has also been an interesting summer for family, extended family and poly family blending into one amazing blur of love and support. I discovered in June that I'm a grandmother and both my son and I have set about getting to know a very special young man. His mother has been embraced by our family and she is very pleased with the welcome to both herself and her son. I'd not have it any other way and I'm very fortunate that although she and my son are no longer together, she sees the importance of extended family. My one partner's ex partner has a new beau who lives with his son, his ex, her new hubby and a baby on the way. They have become regular guests in our home and at extended family events. It was kind of cute to note both of my partners and the new beau bonding over the BBQ recently. My partner's ex is roommate to my adult daughters and we all traveled to PolyCamp NW together. The menfolk entertained themselves and we had a girls weekend. Conversations were mom and daughter morphed into old friends. I had a hard time with PolyCamp NW as it was the first time I'd been with that group of people since ending a relationship with someone in that community. He wasn't there but his wife and other members of his poly-cule were there. In a sense that made his presence even stronger for me. I think I've backburnered the grief one goes through with busy stuff. I was absolutely welcome and hugged to pieces by all of them. I refrained from asking after him but it was a struggle and I really was not my usual upbeat self. His wife and I exchanged granbaby photos and I realized that two years have passed. I couldn't shake the sense that it had happened only yesterday and realized that I needed to get over myself and find closure. I think one of the things we forget in the poly people must communicate theory is that we really have to communicate with ourselves too. I got called on that which is another awesome thing being poly gives you. Time to move on. I realized too that hiding from the pain of that relationship ending has most definitely impacted all of my other relationships.
Another f@#!$$king learning experience and more notes for my book on poly. Life is just a research project in the end, isn't it?
Labour Day Weekend I went camping with my two live in partners, a lady who has dated both of my partners off and on, her teenage son and my oldest son and his girlfriend. We drove way up the Fraser Canyon to Quesnel and stayed at Ten Mile Lake Provincial Park. My son and his girlfriend live even further up north and met us there. Our friend grew up in the area and her son was born there so there was some visiting with her family in the area and a life of me guided tour of the town. I enjoyed visiting with my son and his girlfriend and our friend's son took a shine to the girlfriend referring to her as "bird" in sign language. On the return trip, we stopped in at my one partner's mother and step-dad's place and camped over night. My partner stayed on to visit with his folks and the rest of us continued home. His folks were very welcoming of my other partner, our friend and her son. It was the first we have seen them since the article in the paper and online about our poly triad came out in 2010. They knew we were poly before that but it was there in print for all the world to see. That's a bit different. Some of our family and friends have distanced themselves because of that publicity. Mom and step-dad were loving and just plain glad to see my partner and that he was happy. Definitely a happy poly moment.
Happy Fall, dear readers.