Well if you’re near me, in Ontario, or if your area is similar to ours, then you’re back in lockdown. This time is a little different. We’ve been through this before and we’re better prepared to cope with the realities. Along with our own improved coping abilities the businesses in our communities have the experience to thrive. They’re improving their curb side pick up protocols and they have a better understanding of how they can tailor their products and services to this reality. For example, providing take-home kits to fuel your creativity and pre-packaged bundles that will allow you to spoil yourself and support local.
There’s still a lot of empty time to fill, though. So what better time than now to join a book club? Reading is a truly independent activity. Unless someone is reading to you then you’re on your own as you work your way through a book. You control the pace and you can pick the moments you need to read most. A book club just creates a little social aspect, knowing that in your own cozy corner curled up with the book you’re not alone. It gives us some common ground to meet on and ideas to discuss. Reading may be totally independent but book clubs create a connection.
So, this is the official launch of the Tea with Books book club!
Each month we will meet with a zoom meeting and enjoy some tea & socialization inspired by our book of the month. Since I’m making this official today let’s set our first meeting for somewhere around February 25th or so – once I have a better idea of interest we’ll work out the ideal day and time for our group =)
I’d also love for people to share their developing thoughts on the Tea With Carmen social pages by posting to the Facebook community, commenting on instagram or tweeting me!
Without further ado – what should we read first?
Didn’t See that Coming by Rachel Hollis starts off talking about a major unexpected (and unwelcome) life event – an experience you may or may not share. She’s using that experience to talk about the bigger picture and recovering – in her own words – “when your world falls apart”. It’s safe to say that regardless of how kind, or unkind, the pandemic has been to you personally we’ve all experienced our lives falling apart in one way or another as we’ve transitioned through various lockdowns and whatnot. So I’m hoping this book will be a great place to start our year and our book club.
If you’d like to make sure you’re totally up to date on all things related to the book club please email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the list.
You might of seen this comical gem floating around online. We’ve all been there, girl, there’s no shame!
Around the end of November and beginning of December I did some reflecting on where my skin care routine was at (ahem, inconsistent, bordering on non-existent.) and where I wanted it to be. Luckily I do have pretty good skin and if I stray away from my skincare routine I don’t suffer too horribly. That being said I still see the odd bit of acne or imperfection. I always kick myself when they pop up because I know how to prevent them, I know how to look after my skin, I know how to do all the good things… so when I see the imperfection pop up I know I could have done better and prevented it.
As I’ve built my current routine I thought I’d share it with all of you lovely souls.
Now, I’ll say this, too: This is my current routine but it has not been my only successful routine. I sometimes go through “phases” of skincare, make up, shampoo and conditioner, etc. So an honourable mention goes out to Kate Somerville products. The “ExfoliKate” and “EradiKate” lines did absolute wonders for my skin and the results came almost instantly. I purchased these products while struggling with a major breakout at the recommendation of a Sephora consultant.
They’re expensive as hell. I decided not to continue using these products partially because of the price tag. I don’t hesitate to recommend them, though, because if you’ve got the finances to support this habit they are a great investment and you’re skin will look flawless.
Where I’m at currently is still not cheap, exactly, but it’s affordable by comparison and the results justify the investment. I’ve been using the OLEHENRIKSEN product line. I’ve used this collection in the past which helped me to be confident redeveloping my routine around these products now.
This is also one of the first times I’ve developed a morning routine and an evening routine that were at all distinct from each other. While separate there is some overlap between them. So let’s dig in to what I’m using.
Truth Juice Daily Cleanser
How can you not love starting the day with a cleanser that smells like oranges? It’s one of the most pleasant scents I’ve ever had in a cleanser without being overpowering. It makes my skin feel soft and creates an instant glow.
Balance Force Oil Control Toner
This is a good, reliable toner. I have naturally oily skin so as much as I appreciate the moisturizing effect of the Truth Juice DailY Cleanser I still need to control and balance that out a little bit.
C-Rush Brightening Double Creme
This is a super rich, thick, moisturizing cream. I go very light and only apply a very thin layer of it, but that little bit goes a long way. It keeps my skin soft, relaxes any pesky fine lines, and builds on the glowy effect of the cleanser.
Find your Balance Oil Control Cleanser
Like I said, my skin can be a bit oily so at the end of the day it’s nice to wash all that away with this cleanser. it simply makes my skin feel clean and fresh.
Balance Force Oil Control Toner makes another appearance
A match made in heaven, same as before. This is a good “goes with anything” toner. Especially having somewhat oily skin I’m never not going to benefit from a little oil control and and since this toner makes that it’s primary objective it’s a good pairing with basically any other product.
Goodnight Glow Retin-ALT Sleeping Creme
This cream is a little lighter than the C-Rush Brightening Double Creme but it’s still a bit heavy if I’m not careful. It’s formulated with an alternative to retinol for anti-aging effects but mostly I just like feeling as though my skin is being taken care of while I sleep.
Transforming Walnut Scrub
I can’t say enough about this scrub. First and foremost I switched to it as an exfoliating scrub when conventional exfoliating scrubs were becoming controversial due to the teensy tiny plastic beads being drained in to sewage and water systems. I love that the exfoliant here is created from natural material. Beyond that it’s hands down the best exfoliating scrub I’ve ever used. Now, it is heavily abrasive so it’s not a daily cleanser. I use it 1-2 times weekly, as needed.
Here’s a little selfie snapped just for you as I finished writing this. No make up – no filters. Okay, the lash extensions and henna brows go a long way to creating an awesome “woke up like this” vibe, but the over all smoothness of my skin comes from the products I just shared and finally getting myself in to the habit of actually using them consistently.
Stay hydrated and make an effort to eat your fruits and veggies. Your diet won’t make or break your skin – but it can help or hinder your efforts! Your skin is a part of your body and will reflect what you’re putting in to it similarly to your energy levels and over all feeling of health.
Will drinking your water (this is especially important) and eating well mean that you never have any skin issues and don’t need a skin care routine at all? No, not quite. However it’s the kind of caring for yourself that works in harmony.
What are you fave skincare tips? Drop a comment and share your secrets!
It’s hard to feel optimistic about 2021 because many of us might feel like we kind of got tricked by 2020. We remember this time last year, when we looked with such anticipation to 2020. We had many plans, hopes and dreams. Places we wanted to visit, people we wanted to see.
Then it all went sideways so fast and the challenges 2020 brought have dragged on for months, and months and months. Certainly longer than most of us could have expected. Back in March when Ontario entered its first lockdown it was hard to imagine that we’d still be talking about lockdown restrictions at Christmas.
How do we recover? How do we recapture the optimism and hope we felt a year ago and bring that kind of light with us in to 2021?
The most obvious part is that it’s going to look very different from before. We have the advantage of knowing that 2021 will continue to bring us new and previously-unimagined experiences. So we already know that 2021 will be different from any year before it, and therefore so will our thoughts, resolutions and plans going in to it. Our ideas about what a successful 2021 will be are going to be shaped by what we experienced in 2020. Even though that seems like a let-down, here’s why I think it’s similar to any other year, and can have some serious silver linings.
Other years the way our current year has shaped our resolutions might have been more subtle, and more individual. We might have moved and therefore created a resolution to finish perfecting our new home with paint and renovations. We might have gained a little weight and so created the resolution to lose it. We may have created resolutions that were specific to our job, or our relationship, or our finances. We looked back on our year and figured out exactly what we wanted to do differently in the coming year. It was a personal reflection process that was unique for each of us.
We will do those things again but we’ll relate to each other more closely than before because so much of our hopes and resolutions will come from what we experienced in 2020. For example, we might be focused on diversifying our income or creating a more robust savings due to the struggles we experienced this year – and anyone in that boat has to know they’re not alone. It’s been a record year for professional and financial instability.
We might create resolutions about building home offices and home gyms. A vast majority of us have found ourselves significantly increasing how much time we spend at home – and the way we spend our time in our homes has changed. It’s now the office, the gym, the yoga studio, the video studio, the music studio, the content creation hub and the table at which we have tea with our friends (albeit in front of a laptop).
We might resolve to embark on a journey of self-improvement. Read more books, take some online courses, and reflect on how we can grow, change and improve our skillsets to respond to our changing goals and challenges.
Then again, it’s also worth resolving to be good at and commit to self care. With so much change and instability you’re giving a lot of energy to keeping up with what’s going on around you. It’s more important than ever to find moments of joy and moments of peace. Bump up your skincare routine for a little built-in self-love daily. Perhaps finish your day with a gratitude journal or take a part of your lunch break to do some yoga or a work out (especially if you work at home and stay seated and still throughout the day, like me).
It’s also possible we’ll collectively resolve to be less materialistic, to shop small business when we need things, to use more sustainable products. Bonus points if you buy your sustainable products from small local businesses! In this perhaps we’re resolving simply to help each other. To support our community members, friends and neighbours.
So, as we have in other years, we’ll all look at how 2020 went and develop goals that reflect what we can and want to do better. Our goals are personal and individual to us but they’re also likely to have similarities to those around us. After all, as isolating as the pandemic has been, it’s also been a collective experience. That means that the resolutions we’re setting are similar to other years – simply more reflections of changes we feel empowered to make – but it’s also more communal than previous years. This year we also have the major advantage of knowing a lot more about what the year will ask of us and being better prepared.
Exactly what it is that will shape and define 2021 may be unknown but we are better prepared for surprises than we were going in to 2020. We’ve developed new coping skills and found opportunity in chaos. Let’s keep doing that, keep getting better at it, and make 2021 unique, collaborative, and better than ever.
It’s a bad habit many of us have to let our routines become chores. We just kind of accept that the routine is going to suck but, what are you gonna do? You gotta work, right? With many more people working from home during the pandemic and a number of companies exploring longer term work from home policies here’s a few ideas for creating a work from home routine that doesn’t suck.
2. When the work day is done, Shut down. Walk away. Be done. This was my absolute biggest challenge working from home. Work was always right there. I could just pop in to the office and… and, and, and… it never ended. I was always just a thought away from work mode and it made life difficult. I couldn’t really relax and just focus on the time and people I was with. Don’t get sucked in to the vortex of always working just because it’s right there.
3. Find a task management system you like. It’s easy to finish a work day and wonder what you even did all day and where the time went. Whether it’s an old fashioned to-do list, a task management app you’re loyal to or a time-tested strategy like the Pomodoro system – find a way to manage your tasks that you will like and use, and that will allow you to know you got done what you needed to.
4. Don’t forget to move and hydrate. If you’re like me and wear a fitbit then it will remind you to take a minimum number of steps per hour. Apple watches have a similar feature but it’s also just as effective to set hourly reminders on your phone to have a stretch, pace around a bit, look out a window… anything that means you aren’t stuck in one position all day long. Same with hydration. There’s apps that will remind you, as will simple phone reminders or drink wear with time-goals on it. Regardless of how you go about it don’t get sucked in to a work vortex and forget to look after yourself.
5. Stay connected. If your workplace has work-approved methods of staying in contact like an employee chat then use it. If they don’t have this type of set up then go ahead and reach out to text your colleagues from time to time. Whether it’s to pick their brain the way you would if they were just the next office over or for a little water cooler chat don’t let working from home become extra isolating.
Overall, think about the parts of your workday that you enjoy the most and how you can build a schedule and routine that flows and balances all of your needs. It should include focus time and allow you to be a badass powerhouse but also should include time that nourishes you and boundaries that let you be so much more than a workaholic.
Drop a comment with your fave work from home tips, tricks and routines!
When it comes to fitness, improving our strength and losing weight, our bodies need rest. We have a culture that’s really turned us against that, though. A culture that’s normalized working out 6-7 days a week and made rest feel like a synonym for lazy, or weak, when it is neither of those things.
What if we change the vocabulary. What if our rest day or days weren’t called rest days, but instead recovery time? Recovery as a word celebrates and acknowledges the effort and work we are doing. Instead of insinuating that we are unable to go on, as rest has come to, recovery tends to weave itself in to the fitness route. While rest is seen as separate from our workout routine, a break from it, we see recovery as an integrated part of a workout schedule. Fitness influencers and trainers support this with suggesting stretches, foam rolling and specific nutrition for recovery. It’s part of taking care of your muscles, your cardiovascular system, and your mind.
Now let’s be clear – rest and recovery are the same thing. We aren’t really talking about different processes. We’re talking about two words that can be used to describe varying your schedule, relaxing, caring for your body outside of the gym. However we’ve allowed a culture that pushes us to feel we’ve never done enough to hijack one of these words – rest – and make it feel like a guilty pleasure instead of a key component in our routine.
So maybe in order to move foreword we need to change the vocabulary. We need to remind ourselves that there’s nothing guilty in listening to our bodies and claiming what we need.
A key reason I think this is so important is that when we treat rest as failure we allow it to overwhelm us. If the rest day isn’t built in to the routine – or we feel guilty about taking our rest day since most reputable programs do include at least one rest day – then instead of feeling refreshed we will feel anxious about the time we took to rest.
This is something I encountered this week. Normally Saturdays are a low intensity day for me and Sundays are a complete rest day. However with gyms re-opening and a little extra motivation I worked my ass off all weekend – literally.
Then on Monday – my normal legs and booty day – I hit a wall. Hard.
Okay, I thought, a rest day. Not a problem. I didn’t rest on the weekend so resting now is okay. Not a problem. Let’s do it. It should have been refreshing and energizing. I should have woken up on Tuesday at least sort of excited to step back in to my routine. But I didn’t. I woke up anxious that I wasn’t on my routine and that anxiety was paralyzing.
Did I want to jump in to my regular Tuesday Abs and Cardio? Did I need to double my workout and also get Mondays workout done? What was going on with the fact I really didn’t want to do any of it?
So I didn’t.
Now I went to the gym on the weekend but it wasn’t my gym. Gyms were allowed to reopen as of Friday so I visited a local one that had done so. However my gym opened on Wednesday so that was my first opportunity to get back in familiar territory.
Thankfully that was the push I needed to take a step back in to my week and not let my Monday-Tuesday off stretch towards the rest of the week. But what if it had been a normal Wednesday with no gym reopening to get me motivated?
I’ve been there before – when one day turns to two turns to three turns to a week and then six months and I am totally derailed by a day or a few days of feeling that my rest was a problem and that I’d failed and not knowing how to recover from that failure. While I’m grateful that there were outside forces – an accountability partner and a re-opened gym – to help me find my way this week – it’s really gotten me thinking.
Recovery is so key and listening to your body is a way to avoid catastrophic failure, injury, and burn out. So why don’t we normalize it? Why do we still celebrate stretching over our natural limits to such an extreme level? I know there is a tide of change working to push back but with the virus and everything going on, it can’t come soon enough.
I know a lot of us are spending way more time at home and fall somewhere in between eating everything in sight and frantically redeveloping our fitness routines. I thought it was about time I pull this piece out of drafts, blow off the dust and post it.
Anyone who knows me knows that saying I like Apple products is putting it mildly. I love the way my devices work together and that makes it easy to choose Apple whenever I need a new device.
So a while back I thought I’d upgrade from a Fitbit Alta and add an Apple Watch series 2 to my Apple family. For the first little while that watch and I got along wonderfully. Pairing it with my phone was easy. If you’ve ever had 2 apple products you know how well they’re designed to work together. My iPhone, iPad and MacBook have always encouraged a seamless transfer of information. It was no surprise that my watch worked with my phone exactly as advertised.
Still, I found with time I wore the watch less and less until finally I pulled my old fitbit out of the drawer and relaunched my fitbit account.
Now, thanks to my parents and Christmas I’ve even upgraded from that old Fitbit Alta that I bought in University to a Fitbit Charge 3. I love it so much.
Here’s a few points of comparison that are key for me. Read it all or skim through and find the points of comparison that matter to you.
If you’re comparing the Apple Watches currently available to the Fitbit’s currently available one thing is clear from the very start: Fitbit offers a lot more choice.
Apple Watch is Apple Watch – that’s pretty much it. You might be able to pick up a model from another year with slightly different materials (aluminum versus stainless steel), and if you go back to series 2 you can maybe find a 38mm watch versus a 42mm watch. But realistically there’s only one style of Apple Watch with minor differences to warrant different price points.
Fitbit on the other hand offers slim and simplistic trackers that are a little more “dainty” alongside the larger screened model intended to compete with Apple Watch.
When I purchased my Apple Watch, series 2 was the current lineup. I chose a 38mm black stainless steel model. I loved the dark, shiny metallic look for this watch but damn was it heavy. It doesn’t help that it really does look best paired with a black stainless classic link band (a knock off of Apple’s $600 band that I picked up for $50 online). If I wore it with a sport band it would be way lighter but it would lack a certain shiny style pairing that stainless steal watch with a rubber band.
I denied it for as long as I could but honestly the thing was just too big for my wrist. It took up like my whole arm, it seemed. Visually it seemed even heavier because of it’s dark colour. The actual heaviness of it could be dealt with for daytime wear but I noticed that if I wore it continuously while sleeping (since sleep tracking is an advertised capability) my wrist would start to ache after only 2 or 3 days.
Fitbit on the other hand is much lighter – I haven’t experienced all fitbit models, of course. The fitbit alta and the fitbit charge 3 both are very light, and I honestly forget it’s there. It’s so light it never causes any aches or issues.
Plus the smaller profile on my wrist fits in to my style a lot better. I can add a bracelet or decorative hair tie and accessorize. With Apple Watch adding any bracelets or anything just made my wrist look even more cluttered. I was drawn back to fitbit in part for the ability to accessorize.
Information on your Wrist
One of the big draws for the Apple Watch is the claim that it can put basically all your information and notifications on your wrist.
It does deliver a lot of information. There’s no denying that.
But then again, so does Fitbit. Even though the Alta wasn’t the most up to date model of Fitbit it still picked up and displayed my text messages. Later models of Fitbit even allow you to reply while Alta only allows reading. Fitbit Charge 3 also allows reading only although the format is much better than Alta’s. The smartwatch version would allow some reply capability. Phone call notifications are delivered as well with a display of the caller ID and vibrations to alert me on both Alta and Charge 3.
The issue with Apple Watch here isn’t that it doesn’t deliver. It delivers the information but it’s not as useful as you might think. While yes, technically, there’s a lot of built in capability to do tasks such as replying to messages, viewing photos, or adding notes to your reminders app etc, in reality why would you do that on a 38mm-42mm screen when you could pull your phone out and use that screen?
By the time you put in the effort to navigate the tasks on your wrist, holding the watch at an odd angle and probably hitting the wrong tiny button once or twice, you might as well just get your phone out.
Well it is true that the Apple Watch delivers a little more information and has more customizable watch faces this takes a toll on its battery life. If I really used the capabilities of the watch – reading notifications, occasionally completing tasks, and relying on it day in and day out as advertised I’ll also be charging it day in and day out. Or at least every 2-3 days.
Meanwhile I have to ask myself when I last charged my fitbit because it lasts like a week at a time. Charging is a rare need, which is a surprise given that I do maximize my use of it by actively tracking my heart rate through workouts, checking the time and date a dozen times a day and tracking walking and running work outs.
I love that with both devices you can challenge friends to see who can get the most steps or crush their goals. The thing is… in both cases you can only really compete with someone who has the same device as you – or at least one in the same family. Let me tell you, there’s a lot more fitbit users out there. It’s a lot easier to find friends to compete with on fitbit.
It doesn’t hurt that one of those other fitbit users is my boyfriend so we can cheer each other on. Nothing gets me moving like the pride of reminding him over dinner that I kicked his butt in our step goals and move goals.
That social competition feeds in to this piece too. Both companies advertise their devices as a tool to add motivation and push you to be your best self. They both do a good job with reminder notifications prompting you to move, drink water, etc. Realistically though that better version of yourself happens with or without the device. It’s all about you taking the actions and making the choices that need to happen.
So – all this to provide some thoughts on Apple Watches versus Fitbits for those of us wanting a piece of every day smart wearable technology that helps us out with fitness and then some.
Do you wear a smart watch or activity tracker? What do you use, what do you love and why?
Just wanted to pop in with a plug for my cute little etsy shop Seashell & Mermaid =)
Here’s a few of my fave designs – but I also do custom work! Think that sweet t-shirt you’ve always wished you could find, or sets for bachelorette and besties groups! Just drop me a line and we can talk about styles, colours and everything else to make your vision a reality.
Find all my designs here:
This time of year you’ll see almost everyone talking about their resolutions. Some will advertise what their resolutions are while others will be intentionally vague about what their resolving to change in 2020. Even more so, you’ll see the advertising bonanza making good use of everyone’s good intentions.
Did you watch anything about New Years Eve in NYC? Planet Fitness literally sponsored it so a good portion of the broadcast was yellow and purple with Planet Fitness written all over it. You couldn’t even celebrate midnight without marketing from a gym.
From gyms and weight loss products to money management and career improvement programs to fashion changes, skin care and everything in between advertisers will be looking for your biggest insecurity and vowing that, in exchange for your hard earned cash, they’ll wipe all those insecurities away.
That’s why I find goal setting more practical. Goals aren’t a commercial venture. Goals don’t have to be about the things you don’t like about yourself or the things you want to change. They are more likely to be tied to new projects or about measuring progress and milestones without discrediting what you already accomplished in past years. And it’s a lot harder to sell to someone’s goals than it is a classic resolution. Goals are about our own commitments and actions, not about what products we buy.
Even the simple or common resolutions sound better translated from resolution language to goal language. Try weight loss, for one. Instead of “my resolution is to lose weight or get down to this certain number on the scale”, say “My goal is to cook at home 5 nights a week and be at the gym 3-4 times a week.”
We all know that if you’re eating at home, you’re likely eating healthier than if you ate out and if you are also going to the gym there’s a good chance you’ll be losing weight. If not losing, per se, you’re definitely getting on track to a genuinely healthy lifestyle. Health is a better pursuit than weight loss for the sake of weight loss, anyway.
It’s also easy to scale and personalize goals so that they make sense for you and where your current challenges are. If you’re really good at eating at home every night but you struggle with gym motivation then maybe you’d modify the above goal to read “My goal is to cook healthy meals 5 nights a week and go to the gym 2-3 times in the next 6 months and 3-5 times a week in the 2nd half of the year.”
And oh – that’s my favourite part.
Even though this time of year we talk about how fast 2019 went by, how the previous year seemed to go by before we could even process what was happening, how we don’t know where it all went and feel like we can’t even remember what we did…. it still feels like a year is a big, huge, impossible timeline for a goal.
Simultaneously we’re feeling that 2019 was fleeting and impossible to hold while 2020 is massive and the end of it, along with our goals or resolutions, is entirely too far away to think about.
Funny how time plays these tricks on us.
So break it up! Don’t focus on “the year” as an oncoming storm. Focus on the first 3 months, the first 6 months, first. Think about what a quarter of the way, or half way to your goal will look like and correlate those milestones to next month, to March and to June. This gives you the most important things of all, a place to start and a path to follow.
All this, really, to say that it’s a great idea to embrace the good intentions behind resolutions and reflect on what you want to do differently in 2020 but if you’re doing so it’s also time to figure out how those resolutions, goals and plans become reality.
Here’s to avoiding any further New Years Eve’s where we feel like all of a sudden a whole year escaped us.
Last year around this time I took some time to reflect on my first year of blogging. Back then this blog was called Oh My Mermaid – it launched in early 2018 and it was great to see how the first year went. Those stats and that review told me a lot about the response I had gotten and motivated me to keep showing up and putting myself out here.
Of course reflecting should be a habit we do annually, at least, if not more. So here I am reviewing 2019.
Curious thing about 2019’s stats. They demonstrate that there’s still a growing audience for this blog – and oh my god I’m so grateful for that revelation I could cry. More on that in a bit. What 2019’s stats reveal more so than 2018’s did, though, is my life offline.
See, 2018 showed great growth from launch onward. 2019 shows a slower, more steady growth but fewer blog posts, fewer words. A symptom of a complicated and changing life offline.
I wrote about that in my last post, titled It’s Time for a New Chapter – have a read if you want more on that.
In those changes and the battles that were going on I lost a part of myself and the blog suffered because of it. Now I’m back. I feel more like myself than I have in a long time and just as losing myself took away from the blog, finding myself has started me writing again.
I want to take a moment now and really tell you – from the bottom of my heart – thank you for reading. Even when I was distant and posts were few and far between. Even when I seemed so far away and you may of thought I’d forgotten and abandoned this blog all together… I hadn’t. And this little corner of the internet has been a source of motivation to get to a good and healthy place in life. Writing for this blog – even bits and pieces I never published – has helped me sort and understand my own feelings. Messages I’ve received after posting have reminded me how much I’m part of a community and never alone. I am so grateful to my readers and well, ’tis the season to let ya’ll know you truly mean so much to me.
So without further ado, a few stats from the previous year and a promise to post a 2020 sneak peak, just as I posted a 2019 sneak peak this time last year.
While I made 72 posts in total for 2018 I only made 18 posts in 2019… actually seeing that stat today was kind of a shock. I knew I had lost myself in what was going on offline but I didn’t totally realize how much of myself I’d lost.
Still, despite the scattered posts I had more views and more visitors this year – that… that fills me with gratitude and hope. I had 6713 views from 3362 visitors. As I said last year – not half bad, but with room to grow!
I grew from 103 followers to 160 here on wordpress.
I switched my facebook page to a new Tea With Carmen one – leaving the old Oh My Mermaid page – please come join if you haven’t yet.
I grew from 163 followers on twitter to 200 even and counting with every tweet – it’s a weird habit to get back in to!
On instagram I held even – not to shabby given long absences.
I have some new social strategies I want to try going in to 2020 and I’m excited to be coming back to the online projects I started with such passion.
As promised, stay tuned for a 2020 sneak peak shortly after Christmas and some new comment in January! Drop a comment with any requests so I can get to work bringing you content you’ll love =)
The sudden lack of posts and the sudden rebranding followed by more silence are symptoms of changes in my life offline. Over the last couple of months I have struggled each time I open a blank page to write a new post. There was one thing that I knew I wanted and needed to write about but the timing just hasn’t been right.
Polyamory has been a wonderful adventure but it has brought us to an unexpected place. I suppose we all had decisions to make as we came to a sudden realization that our polyamorous relationship had run its course and really wasn’t functional anymore. There was nothing particularly easy or painless about the dawning of this realization and breaking up didn’t bring out the best in any of us.
Maybe the reality is that we all got married too young. I was 22 when I walked the aisle and looking back both Ben and I had a lot of growing left to do as people. We promised to grow together but who he grew to be didn’t have the same love for who I grew to be.
The youthful hope, the ambition, the certainty that we could love differently and take all of life’s challenges together all came to an end in June. It was time for us to face big questions about what we wanted in our partners. Polyamory as a relationship philosophy is not to blame for this so much as incompatibility. While we loved the ideas we’d had for our future, we were unable to bridge the space between us. We weren’t all wanting the same things and where our goals did align we had differing ideas of how to reach those goals.
A part of my life ended. I packed up the pieces of my life that I would keep. I told Tom I couldn’t handle living under the roof with Maggie and Ben as our breakups unfolded but that I was absolutely not leaving him. And I climbed in to my mama’s car to spend some time at her house while it all got sorted out.
And I am pleased to be able to report that despite all the stress, the hurt and all the emotions that go with all that ending and a divorce at the ripe old age of 26… I’m happy.
I think under different circumstances I could have gone on being happy in “the pod” or even just with Ben had “the pod” not happened. Had things shifted a different direction, maybe. That being said, hindsight has shown that there were deep cracks in the foundations of those relationships. Clearly there was more than one path to happiness for me. In the months since the separation I’ve gone blonde and am loving it, dropped 25 pounds, gotten my god damn license at last, acquired a car and landed full time employment. Stable, out of the house employment. Imagine that!
In hindsight the relationships that ended were holding me back in life far more than they were supporting me or moving me foreword. There may have been a time when those relationships didn’t hold me back but this last year I made a lot of sacrifices that preserved the relationships with deep personal consequences. They do say that hindsight is 20/20 – I could never have imagined what such clarity would reveal.
While I made those sacrifices willingly, and lovingly, believing fully in the beauty of the relationships I was growing, the arrangement became unsustainable. It turned out that there was no equality, no return of that kind of love. When I asked others to return the commitment and make sacrifices for my well being only one in three saw the necessity of doing so.
From the beginning of the unravelling it was clear Ben and Maggie planned on staying together. As things unravelled Tom and I were presented with a choice. Our polyamorous journey was initiated by Ben and Maggie and many people wondered if Tom and I had even had a choice about being together. As we processed our marriages ending we both knew without any doubt that we did have a choice. Life was changing in dramatic ways one way or another… we had the opportunity to reflect and figure out if we wanted to change our relationship as well. We made our choice, and we chose each other.
Maybe things do happen for a reason and life pushes us where we need to be so that we meet the right people and take the right opportunities. My heart is so full of love and gratitude for the amazing man I’m with I have to wonder if everything else was just a convoluted way fate had for making sure we found each other. Found, and appreciated each other.
So here we are. I still like writing about all the same stuff. Relationships, and fitness and beauty and any other musings that cross my mind. I guess I just get to add divorce to the list of relationship experiences I can speak to when I write.
I’m still here, still blogging, it’s just time for a new chapter.