The Triad Book!

This is where all my energy is going right now: I’m hard at work researching my book, interviewing triads and people who have been in a triad that has broken up; I’m reading all the books ever written about polyamory and love triangles; and I’m very busy connecting with triads and polyamorous folk on Instagram and Twitter.

3 interlocked hearts no source

If you’re interested in following this project, there are a few different ways that you can engage:

  1. Follow along on social media: Instagram or Twitter
  2. Have a look around the website.
  3. Take the survey (for anyone over 18 who is or has been in a triad).

There are more options on the site. I hope if you or someone you know has an interest in polyamory or specifically triad relationships, you’ll join me in the journey of writing this book!

Advertisements

Random Acts of Kind Weirdness

#sexyghostOn Halloween night, I was thinking about random acts of weirdness and how they can brighten someone’s day. Of course what got me thinking about this was when I realized that using just my #sexyghost costume, I could really either freak people out or make them laugh by simply standing very still — say, under a streetlight, or in a dark corner of our yard. How much fun would it be to wear the costume around dusk and stand in the woods just off a bike path somewhere? I mean, as long as I didn’t get beat up.

This got me thinking of other random acts of weirdness — something that used to be one of my favourite hobbies. My best friend and I used to do things like rollerskate around the neighbourhood in angel wings (we were 18, not 8), and we had grand plans of setting up a fake Christmas tree in the park in the middle of May. I also like to buy flowers and hand them out to strangers, paint rocks and leave them in unexpected places, or create treasure hunts in the library for strangers. I miss doing these things!

Later that night (because we really got WILD on Halloween, y’all), I was reading The Artist’s Way and thinking about what I might want to do on my artist’s dates. Wait — dressing as a ghost (read: draping myself in a sheet) and standing very still beside a bike path could count as an artist’s date, right? I mean, that sounds super inspiring to me! Were there other random weird acts that I could list as ideas for artist’s dates? I got myself to the googles and started searching for ideas.

Well, guys, it turns out that’s sort of a tricky thing to search. What are we looking for here? Random acts of kindness? “Ways to make strangers smile“? “Weird things to do in public“?

Okay first of all, I’m all for Random Acts of Kindness. But could we come up with some more interesting or inspiring ideas? Paying for the person behind you at the coffee shop is awesome. But it doesn’t necessarily need to be on every list! Some of the ideas are downright abysmal. Compliment someone? Be courteous in traffic? Thank someone for a job well done? We need to read an article about random acts of kindness to think of these things? THIS IS WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE WORLD, PEOPLE!

The half that weren’t exceedingly obvious, cost money. Yes, buying things for people is nice (no-brainer). Gah.

“Weird things to do in public,” it turns out, gets you a list of slightly mean and completely inane activities obviously written by a 14-year-old (I can say this with confidence because it reads like a list I would have written, or probably did write, at 14). Not helpful. The 14-year-old is the only one laughing, not any of the strangers who witness their antics.

Wow, this is long-winded, but MY POINT is that I’m soliciting you fine, creative folk for ideas. I have five requirements, of which any idea must meet at least four; and I also have some examples to get you started on the right track. These can be for one person to do alone, or two or more people to do together.

Suggested activities must meet four of these five criteria:

  1. Will make someone smile;
  2. Is artful in some way;
  3. Is unexpected;
  4. Doesn’t cost anything or could potentially be done for free;
  5. Inspires childlike joy.

The best examples I can find online are Improv Everywhere (they really capture the spirit I have in mind and I’ve always loved their antics), and my favourite homeschooling blog, A Magical Childhood — specifically her “10 Ways to Make Today Magical” posts (not exactly what I’m looking for, but many of her ideas could be adapted to meet the criteria and be done as an artist’s date; plus I think that her activities are whimsical and perfect to teach kids a sense of art, kindness and fun all at once, which is amazing).

Examples (things I’ve tried and ideas from my own list):

  • brush the snow off all your neighbours’ cars (meets four criteria if playing in the snow fills you with glee)
  • leave treasures in the woods, around downtown, around a library (I like these painted stones)
  • guerilla gardening
  • write love letters
  • draw treasure maps and hide them
  • hand out flowers to strangers
  • wear funny hats and help people bag their groceries (my friend and I actually tried this. I stand behind the idea but I have to say, only one person accepted our help. We were wearing bunny ears!)

Hit me up with your best, most inspiring, most fun, artful ideas you guys! What have you done or always wanted to do?

Our Homeschooling Goals for Grade Five

Well, it’s mid-September, which means we unschooly types are starting to trickle back into what we think of as our school/unschool year. Of course I’m not technically unschooling as Neko is in a blended program, and also given that we do some schooly stuff most days, but we still fit the personality profile (you know — sleeping in, avoiding bookwork, having not the most academic goals in general).

Neko started back to her blended program last week and we had our facilitator meeting last Monday, so it seemed like a good week for us to start back at our homeschooling as well. We’ve been doing a tiny bit of review since late August but we have mostly been lazy and sleepy.

I have, however, been thinking a lot about what I’d like to focus on this year. The major factors in this planning have been the fact that we are putting Neko into a public arts school next year, so I need to make sure she is up to speed on her core subjects; and also that I want to make sure I’ve done as much as I can during my intensive time with her to instill the core values that matter to us as a family: gratitude, service, self-sufficiency, appreciation of art and connection to nature, specifically.

Neko having some fun at the Telus Spark Science Centre last spring.

Neko having some fun at the Telus Spark Science Centre last spring.

 

That makes two separate categories of goals for our homeschooling year. First, Public School Prep; and second, Family Values.

1) Public School Prep

Math:

Neko has decided that she does not love math. This makes me sad. I LOVE math. I find it fun. So the fact that the kid I’ve been trying to teach math now hates it makes me feel like I have totally let her down. Anyway, enough about me and my insecurities and guilt. My goal for math for this year is to help Neko to feel confident in her ability to grasp new concepts, and use concepts up to her grade level. She is mostly at grade level so it’s not like we have a ton of catching up to do, however she really doubts her abilities. I’d like to use a variety of different methods of learning (I’m especially hopeful about using art and kinaesthetic learning) to help her grasp concepts like division, fractions, decimals and early algebra so that she doesn’t go into public school assuming she is way behind everyone.

Language arts:

I’m really excited to have some “team writing” time this year where we spend an hour together working on similar compositions (ex. both of us work on short stories at the same time, or poems, or research projects). The main skills I would like her to take from this are planning and revising skills. Right now she is happy to sit down and start a story from scratch, but I’d like her to understand the options for different types of compositions and styles of writing and have the ability to sit down and plan her composition before she starts writing. She also needs to know about story arc and the crucial elements of each type of composition, as well as how to go back and revise and edit. On a more basic level, we will be working on legibility, capitalization and punctuation to iron out any remaining kinks.

Science:

This year my main objective is to familiarize her with the scientific method and the proper process of conducting an experiment.

2) Family Values

Gratitude:

I’m sure it’s the age (9.5), but I feel like Neko has been fairly ungrateful lately. She wants everything all the other kids have and I know that gratitude for the things you have is extremely important to longterm happiness. I have planned a variety of methods and activities to instill and discuss gratitude over the course of the year. I hope this will be good for me, too.

Service:

This ties directly into gratitude. I’m not sure yet whether we will do a few different volunteer tasks or the same one repeated monthly. For our first commitment we’ll be serving lunch at a large homeless shelter and outreach centre downtown. I would also love to create small, beautiful public pieces of art to drop around the city, as this would tie in to service, connection to nature, appreciation of art and also gratitude.

Self-sufficiency:

Neko is currently really interested in making and handling her own money, and she’s motivated to work to earn cash. We are exploring options like working as a mother’s helper, weeding and watering neighbours’ gardens, and selling her artwork online to figure out what makes the most sense for her. I would also like her to learn to cook more dishes this year and become more comfortable with basic kitchen skills, as we haven’t covered this as much in the past as I had hoped to. Every Monday night she and I will be cooking dinner together. Lastly, I’ve signed her up for Girl Guides in our community, and the meetings are a few blocks from our house. I’m hoping she’ll meet other girls who live nearby and also that she can ride her bike to the meetings and later to her new friends’ houses.

Appreciation of art:

We’ll be visiting art galleries one day each month, exploring the new exhibitions from local artists as well as the more iconic pieces featured at Calgary’s Glenbow Museum. I hope that we can follow up our outings with some home learning, either through library books or online, and then maybe try out some similar techniques ourselves.

Connection to nature:

This is so key in my opinion. I believe that nature should be home base for everyone. We should have the desire to go into nature when we need to ground ourselves, and feel comfortable doing so. This has been really key to our homeschooling journey all along but this year I’d like to finally do something I have always wanted to with Neko. We are going to choose one spot in a local park (not like a public greenspace, but an actually wilderness area) and visit it once every week or two. We will go on the scheduled day regardless of the weather and be in the that space for a period of time, and record what we see. What is the weather today? Are there animals around and if so, which ones and what are they doing? Are there plants growing? Is there water running? What else can we observe about how this spot changes through the seasons? My hope is that by visiting the same spot throughout the year, we will gain a level of intimacy with that spot and some insight into the cycles of that exact spot.

Neko in the wild.

Neko in the wild.

Of course I recognize that at the beginning of every school year, we homeschooler have pretty lofty goals and a renewed vigour, which usually wanes by January and by spring we have again become super lazy and extra unschooly. But what would happen if we didn’t set these lofty goals?! A person can dream.

We’ll see whether I manage to meet any of these!

Tonight I Ran Instead of Writing

Well, at least when I was done I had a big breakthrough on the rewrite of my novel, so I’m excited about that. The thing about running (or exercise in general) is that it’s necessary for inspiration and brain function, and yet tonight it used up my writing time. How does one find time to run *and* write?

Introducing: “Things I Did Today Instead of Writing”

I’ve been so busy with love and life and parenting and career and houses and moving and running and life for so long and now here I am, settled, and it’s damn scary because I could write. It’s so quiet and I have time and space and ideas and money and even a god damn office and that means I have no excuse not to write and that makes me want to just go watch Friends on Netflix and fold laundry because there is so much laundry to fold that it would give me an excuse not to try to achieve what I hope to and quite possibly fail at it.

Opening and running a business for five years; homeschooling; dating and heartbreaks; building communities; learning to garden; learning to can; keeping myself just so busy all the time really did well to keep me from writing. I never had time to write!

I’m making time now. I’m making space. And when I sit down and the house is quiet aside from my writing playlist and I have the papasan chair to myself and the dishes are even done (!!) and I have this list of blog post and story ideas I’ve been brainstorming right here beside me, the blank screen looks back at me and frankly, it’s terrifying.

This is that hard part they were talking about, isn’t it?

I introduce to you my new blog category, “Things I Did Today Instead of Writing.”

Yeah so I’m just going to say, I don’t mean for this to glorify procrastination or avoidance. I’m actually hoping that by drawing attention (largely my own) to the ways I avoid writing will make me more conscious of my hang-ups and my avoidance methods and force me to face and work through them.

Also I hope someone will get a laugh at them or at least be able to nod in commiseration.

Arrested Development*

Is there a type of arrested development that is specific to mothers, or at least stay-at-home parents?

Because I think I have that.

Lately I have been very focused on making life changes and getting my writing career started, or re-started (which it is, is arguable).

I’ve been reading a ton about setting and achieving goals, as well as books about writing — mastering the craft, finding time to write, building a writers platform and so on. And it has struck me that I’m exactly where I was ten years ago.

Incidentally, ten years ago I was pregnant with Neko, and she’s now nine and quite self-reliant.

Does this happen to all of us? Any of us who had dreams or career goals or creative pursuits aside from mothering? Our youngest turns ten or so and we feel the need to really hustle, suddenly, and then we come across a journal from when we were 21 and realize we still have those SAME goals and dreams and we still haven’t gotten any closer to them?

Wait, let me change that a bit.

Does this happen to all of us who started having babies young?

Because maybe this isn’t a thing that happens to people who have their first kid at 28, 30, 35. They’re on this happy career train and they’ve built a name and a resume for themselves and then they have a kid or kids and they know what they need to do to keep that train moving or at least waiting for them at the station until they’re ready to hop back on board.

It’s an odd feeling, isn’t it? Feeling so fired up to get going on your writing, your art, your dream of a university degree, and looking around at others your age and realizing they’re ten years ahead of you. And then looking around at your competition and realizing they’re 20. And god, they have so much energy and they know all the coolest bands you haven’t heard of yet and they’re working on publishing deals and gallery shows and then you sit down to watch Girls and you love it but at the same time HOW OLD ARE THEY?!

But yeah, you have this awesome kid or these awesome kids. And you know that all these young’ns will be so tired chasing a toddler at 39 years old and that brings you some measure of satisfaction.

How is it that I still don’t understand how to pitch an article properly, that I’ve still never been featured in a national magazine, that I don’t have these really amazing connections that it seems like everyone else has?

But hey guys, we’re raising the next generation over here to be rad feminists and make the world a better place and that Costco trip isn’t going to run itself because god damn, do these kids eat a lot.

And yes, I know there are tons of parents who achieve creative greatness with little ones underfoot. Hell, I’m friends with some of them. I’m not saying parenting is an excuse. It’s just that I know I’m not the only one to find myself in this place.

Now what?

*Yes, I love the show as much as you do. Sorry if you feel misled**.

**Once in Gr. 8 I had to read a textbook passage aloud in class and the word “misled” was used repeatedly throughout. I pronounced it “MY-zuld” each time and when I finished the whole class and the teacher snickered for the longest time. Thanks for pointing it out the first time, jerks.

Handwriting Without Tears… Wait, For Real?

I’ve been on the fence about cursive for years. Well, you know, since she started “grade one” (quotes to accommodate unschooling). Do kids need cursive? I’ve read lots of conflicting views (yes, this is what homeschooling parents do – read conflicting views on the merits of cursive writing). It seems that it boils down to, on one side: why bother; why fight kids to make them learn something tedious when it’s not necessary; it’s outdated and who cares anyway? vs. Scientific studies whose findings suggest that learning and writing in cursive is good for fine motor skills and can help a child to have better reading and spelling skills (this article sums up the arguments, both scientific and otherwise).

As I do on a lot of things, I fell somewhere in the middle. I’d love for Neko to learn cursive, for the reasons outlined (and because it’s good to have options when it comes to writing, and also because how else will she develop a cursive signature?). When you’re good at it, cursive can also offer a more efficient method of writing by hand, which I can appreciate as a journalist.

On the other hand, if it’s going to be a fight, I just don’t think that I care enough.

With those points in mind, I haven’t pushed the issue. Cursive showed up in her Brainquest workbooks in grade two or three and she hated the exercises, so I left it alone.

However, this winter we took a trip to the educational supply store and Neko spotted Handwriting Without Tears on the shelf. We discussed whether she’d be willing to give it a try and suddenly – thanks to the book or a different stage of brain development, I’m really not sure – she was totally into it.

The verdict? Well, she’s been using it since about January, and she picks it up willingly to do one or more lessons at least a couple days a week. She now knows cursive almost completely and she mostly loves writing in cursive. And there was never a fight, very minimal frustration (she thinks “tow truck letters,” as they call them {for instance, when an “o” comes before a “w” and they have to link at the top rather than the bottom} are “dumb,” but that’s inherent to cursive writing, not an issue with the book or its method of teaching), and no tears to be sure.

I have to say I’m pretty pleased. She can write in cursive! That wasn’t even in our learning plan for the year!

I’ve Made a List

It’s a thing I do. I am REALLY good at making planning lists. I make them all the time – I plan how and when I’m going to run, do yoga, write; I make meal plans, I make lists of things I’d like to do and places I’d like to visit. And then instead of doing and seeing and making and writing all those things, I make another list.

So here is a list of real life stories I’d like to put on paper. I had insomnia last week and all these great stories were running through my head so I made a list. Would you want to read any of these?

  • telling Veronica that Kevin’s gay
  • kismet road trip with Angeline
  • out all night with Chaara
  • being the surviving sibling
  • the time I went camping alone and ended up reading Harlequins
  • ladybugs on the beach
  • eggnog at Christmas
  • birdwatching biker
  • my mom being the dirtiest Cards Against Humanity player
  • how we’d walk out of class in high school
  • when the cat ate my mouse
  • how vividly I remember the one time my dad said he likes me
  • the fight dad and I got in the day of my grandpa’s funeral
  • why I opened the store
  • what Paul was like in high school
  • I thought everyone who lived in the city was better than me
  • “I thought you were vegetarian”
  • when your past bullies compliment you
  • the times I’ve stopped to help road kill
  • driving to Luciette Hot Springs with Andi and Hannah
  • what I thought of rodeos as a kid
  • family feud
  • our short pot habit

I’m intrigued. I should really write those. If aspiring to be David Sedaris seemed like attainable goal, that would be the goal I’d pick, I think.

Note: some names have been changed.