It’s Time for a New Chapter

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.

Until now.

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.

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. That being said, 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.

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 and held me back. They do say that hindsight is 20/20 – I could never have imagined what such clarity would reveal.

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. When our pod started it 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 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.

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.

Getting a “Real Job”

Let me start by saying I always resented that phrase – “real job” – as if the way I earned my money wasn’t actual work. People loved to ask if I was applying at “real jobs” or if I’d thought about giving up teaching for a “real job”. Working from home as a freelance English as a Second Language Teacher was nothing short of a real job. From the very basics of performing a task and getting paid to the more complex work of planning, preparing and continuously training, teaching was meaningful, challenging and real work.

Still, this kind of teaching lacks a certain stability. It’s hard to plan your life or build serious financial goals when your pay varies widely in the wake of world events, holidays and student availability.

Not to mention that you end up teaching during your own countries holidays and off on vacation during holidays from other parts of the world. It’s not the worst but still, it’s hard to explain why you taught on Christmas eve and then relaxed all through February (Chinese New Year).

The last few months have brought a lot of change to my life. While I do still love the work flow I had built I also wanted to try something new.

So I went out and did it – I got myself one of those “real jobs” people talk about. No more “real” in the actual doing of work, but substantially more stable and a better hourly wage.

I’m now happily working away full time in a call centre – I got lucky and found one that lines up super well with my existing skills and interests. There’s a sort of taboo around being okay with call centre work. It’s not supposed to be a “good enough” job to warrant anything nearing job satisfaction but so far it’s been a good experience. So good, in fact, that there’s already talk of me “levelling up” my training. Hello, raise!

Not to mention it brings me back to my favourite town. The place where my Grandfather lived, my dad grew up, and I went to school. It feels like coming home.

Don’t worry – I’m not abandoning all my at home hustle. The social media management business and Etsy shop continue to evolve and remain close to my heart. I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus while the dust settled on the new job and other life changes. That dust is settling, though. Soon all the changes will be official in blog posts and I’ll keep ya’ll posted with the changing realities of working from home and working from well, not home.

Change your Hair, Change your Life

Many of my readers will know I’m going through some massive life changes right now and what better way to celebrate all forms of change than to change my hair?

I’ve done a lot of colour changes from dark red to bright red, to purple, blue and even green. Of course putting all those colours in required bleaching my hair as they wouldn’t have shown nearly as well on my natural brown shade. Still, the last time I put blonde in my hair for any purpose other than making other colours show up was in high school. Back then I couldn’t handle the toning process – it irritated and burned my scalp. Therefore the toner came off too early and my blonde was always yellow. Yuck.

No wonder I decided blonde wasn’t for me and started only using bleach to support other colours, like purple.

Today however it seems the toning products are a bit gentler and I’m a bit tougher. I’m so happy these things are true because I’ve totally fallen in love with my blonde hair and plan to keep adding blonde and perfecting my shade.

Don’t worry, I still sneak a little pastel pink in to keep it fun.

The other change – and truly the more major change is the length. I had insanely long hair that people routinely thought was fake because they couldn’t imagine I’d actually grown it out.

It was proof of my patience. Like 8 years of patience. I cut it to a short bob before moving to University and I hadn’t cut it since. Until now.

I suppose I’ve less patience now for anything that holds me back.

And damn. It feels good.

Okay, y’all know I’m going to grow it right back out. That’s just what I do. But for so long I was seriously afraid to cut it. I cringed at the thought of a trim and flat out cried the day I actually cut it.

That poor hairdresser.

Still I am loving the freshness and having so much fun with it. Yes, it will grow long again but next time I won’t be so afraid of the change when it’s time for a cut.

Check out the before and after to see how big this change has been!

What’s been your biggest hair change? Did you love it? Hate it? I wanna hear all about it!

 

 

What Nobody Tells You About Working From Home

Working from home – or earning a living working from anywhere, therefore allowing you to travel while working – is definitely glorified in our culture. When I tell people about what I do they often say I’m lucky or that it must be nice. They’re not totally wrong but there’s a few things nobody tells you about working from home.

It’s Lonely

This is the best kept secret of the work from home crowd. Honestly, I talk to people from morning to night – literally I start teaching kiddos between 5 and 7am, and I finish teaching adults at 10 or 11pm. I talk, talk, talk all day long and when I finally shut the microphone off I still feel an overwhelming sense of loneliness.

That’s partly because even though I talk to people all day long I often have the same conversation over and over again – Hello what’s your name? My name is Carmen. Where do you live? I live in Canada. What do you do? Wow that sounds stressful…” and on it goes.

Even when I’m not teaching, I’m writing and blogging. This is a little different because I don’t write the same thing over and over but I also don’t get a lot of direct interaction with the people who are reading what I write.

Cabin Fever is an Occupational Hazard

Along with the loneliness get ready to have a love-hate relationship with your house. It’s my home. I picked this furniture. I put it where I wanted it. This is where my super comfy beds are. This is where my favorite pillows are. There’s a recliner and nice places to read a book or watch TV.

But oh my gooooosh get me OUT of here. I wake up, work, eat, exercise, entertain myself, work again and sleep here. I’ve gone for car rides to the gas station just to be somewhere that isn’t there. Working from home might be the dream but from personal experience our brains need a change of scenery. It’s a requirement. Sometimes the best thing I can do is go do some blogging or social media client work from Starbucks.

It’s real easy to gain a ton of weight

Seriously. All I do is sit at my desk. Unless I make the conscious decision to go down to the treadmill or out for a walk it’s easy to pass the whole day without moving a whole lot.

And your whole kitchen is, like, RIGHT THERE. So eating a lot is super easy.

It’s a recipe for weight gain (Trust me , I know. Keep an eye out for my posts about my weight loss journey.)

People Forget that you Work

Yeah, your family is included in this. You’re there when they leave to work and you’re there when they get home. They don’t work at home. Home is just about relaxation and hobbies and family time for them. They kind of forget that it’s like, also your office building.

This goes for friends, too. They imagine that since there isn’t like, a manger or a boss watching you work you could just leave at any time to go do fun things with them.

While it might be true that you set your own schedule you probably have some time requirements and can’t just leave on a whim. Even if you leave on a whim, the work you were gonna do during that time still has to get done so even if they don’t see it you’ll be putting those hours in – be it afternoon or after midnight.

There’s a Million More Distractions Than A Regular Office

In a regular office I feel like a sort of hive-mind kicks in. Even if you’re having trouble focusing everyone else is working that that kind of prompts you to re-focus and get with the program. When I worked in an office it felt way easier to find the next task and get it done because usually everyone else was working so I could feel the groupthink guiding me to work too. This was important, too, because if the whole office wasn’t working then the whole office wasn’t working. A distraction for one became a distraction for many and nothing got done so there was a true sense of value in that groupthink must-work atmosphere. At least if you were gonna go off task you needed to be discreet about it.

Have you ever heard of procasti-cleaning? This is where suddenly you feel the overwhelming urge to clean your whole house instead of doing work. The whole house needs a cleaning, anyway, right? So it’s not really procrastination because you’re still being productive, right? How about Netflix? So easy to access from home and no manager to catch you binge watching Riverdale instead of working.

As many of you know I’ve recently taken up as a demolition derby driver and the shop is right out back! I could be building a car instead of working!

So is it a Dream?

Working from home sounds awesome until you realize every part of your life that isn’t work is right there and it’s SO ridiculously hard to be productive.

Okay, so it’s still pretty awesome but before you make the jump consider that there are some serious risks and if you’re moving to freelance you might want to budget for membership to a co-work space or find another way to plan time out of the house doing something social!

Celebrating Ten Pounds Lost!

*I wrote this a little while ago and got shy about publishing it. Expect another update soon!

I’ve written again and again about the struggle of weight loss. I always feel like I’m starting over. I am still feeling like every week I must be starting over. Like every time I eat something that’s a little less than healthy alarm bells go off and I feel like I have to start over on being healthy. It’s ridiculous and I know that I have to work through that. I haven’t ended my fitness journey every time I have a cheat meal or get busy and miss the gym.

So – finally I get to post a celebration post! I’m officially down 10 pounds! Many of us might be familiar with the cycle of trying to lose weight – losing some – losing motivation – gaining weight back. The most I’ve ever lose has been 10 pounds. Well this time the motivation isn’t going anywhere!

That picture was taken at the CN tower and was probably around the time I was approaching the most I ever weighed. I can’t remember exactly but I know there were more confident times in my life. I have very clear memories of putting that outfit together simply to hide the rolls and using the scarf to feel like maybe I could hide the chubbiness in my face and neck. I was just so pleased the scarf and sweater were cute together and the necklace helped to make the whole thing look intentional. But it wasn’t.

It’s taken about 2 months to get from the heaviest I’ve ever been to where I am today. Even if that progress isn’t the fastest a lot of work has happened. In those two months I’ve seriously cut back my calories. It’s funny because I’ve counted calories in the past. Realistically I never stopped knowing what a portion size looked and felt like. I just stopped paying attention and let my portions get a little out of control. Now that I’m refocused on making sure that I account for what I eat it’s amazing how much better I feel and how much I was able to cut out.

I’ve also done better at getting to the gym regularly. The last week and a half has been a little wonky and busy – we’ve been on the road a lot and it’s been tough to get to the gym. Over all though I’m doing well with the 3x a week every week and sometimes 4x or 5x a week gym routine. I know I’ll get back on track in the coming week and keep that statement true.

People are truly always looking for the secret or the magic trick. I’m included in that. I would love a magic trick so I could stop asking “How many calories is that? How much can I have?” Nonetheless, it’s actually as simple as nutritionists have been telling us all along.

Eat well. Keep moving.

How your pre-summer fitness journeys going? =) If you use My Fitness Pal we can be friends – find me by username ohmymermaidblog =)

Ranting about Beauty Products that Suck

I don’t really know where I got the idea that I should settle on products that I love and am loyal to.  Maybe it’s some marketing ploy or maybe I just made it up.  I guess I do have my faves but I love trying new products.  One of these days I’ll do a post about my faves because if I love them, anyone can love them. Let’s be real… I’m no beauty queen, no makeup artist, truly, no expert. Just a girl who loves a bold lip.

Anyway, as I was touching up my hair color and browsing new makeup products online I got thinking and thus, this post (ahem, rant) was born.

Can we talk about lip products?

There are so many of these lip products out there that everyone praises but then you start digging in and there are 16 steps to get it to actually look nice. Ummmmm… hard no.  I am JUST coming around to the idea of a primer and only with the idea that I might consider looking after my lips similar to how I look after my skin so I’ll cope with an extra layer of product to do that.

And by coming around I mean I’m thinking of purchasing a lip primer someday. I haven’t actually taken the idea anywhere.

But this 16 step process of exfoliating, moisturizing, priming, and god knows what else every time I want to put makeup on is just not going to happen. I bought this gorgeous NARS liquid lipstick. Applied it and loved the color like I’ve never loved a color before.  But I swear I barely had the lid back on and it was everywhere. It bled off my lips so there were no clean lines, it was on my teeth, my skin, anything I ate or drank. I don’t even think I had to take a drink… somehow I just looked at the water bottle and BAM lipstick stain.

I went back to Sephora to ask what I was missing, totally prepared to be sold a NARS primer or something, but basically the answer was… nothing.  I could try a liner, the girl told me or even a little setting powder on top but not too much because that just make it chalky.  So… that makes this color basically useless.  I don’t know who out there is buying a $30 lip product that’s only good for selfies but it’s not me. My lip color better put in the hours right there with me.

I just think that for a product to be worth high praise it should stand on its own, at least for the most part.  There are reasonable expectations like maybe a touch of primer or a setting spray.  Even I can handle some general good practices like that.  But if it’s going to be a highly specialized application process, a whole line of specialized products, and graduating from makeup artist school with honors… well then to me that’s not a great product.

… and skin products.

What the f*ck is up with these “water sprays” and “jade rollers” and another 16 step process to put make up on? Again… I was late to the party with face primer.

But even if I was late to the party on face primer, I’m not sold on rolling a rock around my face.

Oh and yes – me being late to the party on makeup trends is going to be a repeating pattern.

Anyway… I wear foundation for two reasons. I started wearing it, like most of us, as a teenager with acne to hide.  Nowadays I wear it because I love a bold lip and a bold lip looks kind of odd when your lips are fab AF but your skin is just kind of naked.

So needless to say I do not want something complicated.  It’s kind of on my list to experiment with just a little BB cream or something like that. The simpler the better.

Okay so those are the primary products I wear but I’m sure I’ll be back soon with more beauty rants.

❤ What are your beauty pet peeves?

Let’s Really Talk about What Non-Monogamy Means

Woooo, it’s been a minute, ya’ll. Life got super busy but I missed writing so I’m back here on my favourite little blogging project.

I was thinking this week about how much we all have grown since I started this blog. We’ve all learned a lot, shared a lot and I think it’s safe to say we love where the journey has taken us so far.

One thing I can say for sure is that I see polyamory and non-monogamy popping up in all kinds of articles and conversations. Maybe it’s just true what they say, that when you’re thinking about it suddenly you see it everywhere even if it was always there and you just didn’t notice. Then again, maybe the conversation around different relationship structures is really gaining traction in more and more mainstream spaces.

One thing my mama said when we started this journey and first came out was that the big difference between us and other generations isn’t what we do. We certainly aren’t the first bunch of married people to bend the rules or rewrite relationship boundaries. But as a generation that grew up with a developing social media landscape we have different ideas about privacy than previous generations. We don’t want to keep something private for the sake of other people.

What I mean when I say that is that, of course, some parts of our our lives are kept to ourselves but that’s mainly because we like to have things that feel like “just ours”.

Nothing is kept private for the sake of not offending others or because we fear the reactions of others. For us, keeping something private that doesn’t feel like it needs to be a secret becomes more inconvenient and frustrating than the consequences of sharing are.

Even in the early days of my polyamorous relationship we struggled with how starkly different life at home became from life outside the home. Life at home included cuddles and affectionate conversations. Life outside the home meant pretending we were all just friends, carrying on as usual.

It got ridiculous when Tom and I would arrive at a derby first and then Ben and Maggie would show up and the four of us would be trying to explain why we arrived in separate cars with each others spouses.

(Yeah, we’re bad at secrets. People weren’t sure exactly what was happening but they knew something was up)

I blame social media. We all like to share and instead of being super picky about what we share we’re actually just picky about what we don’t share.

Anyway… It’s awesome to see different relationship structures being talked about in mainstream spaces. It truly is. Every *positive mainstream conversation helps others like us feel more welcome to come out and makes the process easier because there’s less to explain. So I’m here today to humbly suggest a sort of “next step” for how this conversation develops.

Let’s break it right down. Instead of saying polyamory and non-monogamy or some generalization like that, let’s be specific about what we want to talk about. While there are some places where those generalizations really do fit the conversation, in most cases we would be better off getting specific.

Right now a lot of conversations are set up as a conversation about monogamy and then all the relationships that are not monogamy.

Is it really fair to have this gigantic pillar of monogamy standing alone against everything that isn’t it?

And is it honest to lump everything that isn’t monogamy in together?

Doing so makes it so hard to appreciate the widely varying mindsets and relationship philosophies of everyone outside monogamy.

I think that’s a problem because most non-monogamous people I’ve talked to just want one simple thing: for other people to say “oh, okay, I can understand how that works.” It isn’t a need for others to sign up to live that lifestyle – I know it’s a shock but the non-monogamous masses aren’t on a recruitment campaign. We just want to be understood. Kind of like how we all understand how monogamy makes sense for some people.

When we lump all of non-monogamy together we make it harder to understand how each different relationship structure functions. While everyone under the umbrella of “non-monogamy” might agree that monogamy isn’t the only way, how exactly we interact with others outside the bounds of monogamy varies from person to person and relationship to relationship.

So I am super excited to see mainstream publications like cosmo, vice and more sharing stories about polyamorous relationships and dishing out details so that non-monogamy and all the relationships that go with it become a more common vocabulary. With that excitement, though, I’m eager to see us dive a little deeper from umbrella terms to sub-cultures and specific relationship terminology.

If there’s interest, I may even model this next step here on the blog with a series of posts exploring what all is under this non-monogamy umbrella with us.

What do you think? What kind of conversations are you seeing, liking and not liking about relationships “these days”?
Do you have certain questions or things you want to see talked about to dive a little deeper here on the blog? =) Drop a comment or email me at ohmymermaidblog@gamil.com