It’s hard to believe I’ve been working on Oh My Mermaid for a year now. Originally I started developing this project back in January and the 1st post went live January 16th 2018. I posted 3 things that day because I felt the need to get a bit of content on to the website. I didn’t want to welcome internet wanderers to an empty house, after all, when I finally started inviting people over.
I finally launched – as in, started telling people the blog was a thing and building my social media presence – on February 5th.
Since then this project has grown and grown! This year I’ve posted 64 posts here – this will be number 65. Those 64 totalled 50,084 words.
Sometimes blogging can feel like talking in to a void… you take time to create these carefully crafted pieces and share parts of yourself, and you put them out there hoping someone hears it, sees it, reads it… you hope that you have a purpose.
Oh My Mermaid has attracted 6, 615 views from 2,936 visitors. As blogs go, I have room to grow but I could do a lot worse!
I’m so grateful to the 103 people following me on wordpress, 57 people who have liked my facebook page, 163 people who have joined the journey on twitter and the 415 people who are there for me on Instagram. Ya’ll, all of ya’ll, are really what make this project have life.
You have read, commented, and shared with me all year long and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you!
I’ve talked a lot on this blog about my relationship. It’s been an amazing place to share the happiness and joy that has come in to my life since starting to date Maggie and Tom alongside my marriage to Ben. Being able to write about the journey has allowed me to process my own developing relationships and I’ve been so happy to share how our lives are changing and developing.
I shared my very first trip to Pride Toronto with Maggie by my side. I also shared Ben and I’s trip to Blue Mountain, Ontario as I started dabbling in a bit of travel writing.
Don’t worry, we are all planning 2019 trips that I can’t wait to share with you!
I’ve even been able to use this as a place to share my ongoing struggles with fitness and weight loss.
Really, it’s been a lot of #realtalk and 2019 is going to bring even more with a new flare for beauty blogging – something I never thought I’d do! I’m so excited to share some beauty realness with you!
I’ve also been able to share about my developing work-from-home lifestyle with teaching remotely and an increasing desire to follow my entrepreneurial spirit wherever it may lead me.
Stay tuned tomorrow for a little preview of what’s coming in 2019! 😉
In summary, 2018 has been a great year and this project continues to grow. I’m so humbled and grateful to have followers along with me on this journey and I’m so excited to see where 2019 takes this project and our little mermaid minded community! ❤
Thank you 2018,
PS. Haven’t caught up with me yet? Find me here:
And as always, right here on wordpress!
I posted before about loving the Anna Victoria work out plan and about how much the virtual community around that plan made a difference in my fitness journey. There’s still love in my heart for the virtual fitness community, especially on instagram. I still adore Anna Victoria as a fitness guru but I’ve moved away from following her plan.
I posted about this, too, when I talked about longing for more creativity in my fitness.
So here’s a little update stemming from those thoughts:
That seems overly simple and ridiculously obvious, but hear me out. Even the beginner plans I’ve tried have a number of expectations. They tend to look super do-able on paper but in the middle of a work out maybe not so much. Besides that, even when they are genuinely within my abilities there are other problems around success and failure when this journey is just at the begining and so, so fragile.
Being “off plan” might be one of my best fitness decisions yet. When I followed a fitness plan created by someone else, even if I loved all the components of that plan, it created equal opportunities for failure and success.
If I followed the plan with dedication and discipline I would see results and experience all the joys of success. As someone who loves lists and plans I took great satisfaction in checking off work out after workout, day after day. I really enjoyed the sense of accomplishment that came with completing first one workout, then one week, then another. I liked knowing I wasn’t alone but actually participating alongside so many other people subscribed to the same plan.
All that said… each day that I missed a workout or each move I couldn’t physically do in a given workout became a hovering failure. A bit of a cloud above my head and they added up until they felt bigger than my successes. As soon as the list of perceived failures grew longer than the list of successes and check marks the cause seemed lost.
Now, like much that is related to fitness, the failure I felt so discouraged by was as much in my head as anything else. With a little work, I’m sure it could be overcome.
It would have been a worthy cause to overcome those hang ups. However, I chose instead to rethink my approach to get around the hangups.
Now I commit to one hour of working out per day. I have very few rules for what that hour has to look like. It can look the same every day or different every day. So far it’s the same every day and I’ve been focused on cardio using the treadmill in the garage.
This allows me to be a little gentler with my expectations of myself at the beginning of my journey. I don’t have the strength, endurance or agility that I have in the past. As frustrating as that can be, having minimal expectations has given me the opportunity to rebuild while also forgiving myself for what I’ve lost, and what I’ve gained.
So far, moving “off plan” has opened more possibilies and given me a healthier mental approach to fitness.
What has changed your fitness routine?
It seems obvious that the days we argue, find ourselves on different pages, and miss each other’s signals are the most difficult days in my relationships. I mean, duh, right? Nobody likes fighting or feeling like something is just off in their relationship. It’s unpleasant, uncomfortable and it can feel downright scary when you don’t know how to get back to the good days.
I was blessed in that my parents never fought – well, certainly never in front of me. If they disagreed or ever felt off-kilter I never saw it. I love this about my childhood and when I talk to people who tell a different story I feel really grateful for the harmony that always existed in my household. While this blessing taught me a lot, there’s one thing it didn’t teach me: how to weather a storm.
I had an amazing example of what love looked like and what happiness meant but I never witnessed a relationship survive a fight. I never knew how a marriage could navigate rocky times without sinking or even that a little friction here and there could be normal.
In the first three years or so of Ben and I’s relationship, maybe even longer, we never ever fought. People who knew us as a couple wondered out loud how we could be so damn happy all the time. I appreciated the praise for our relationship success but I could never articulate how we had achieved it. For me, it was just natural and normal. It looked like my parent’s relationship and like Ben’s parent’s relationship. We never had to work at it.
The hard truth is that in those days it might have been easier to live this bliss because life really didn’t have too many serious stresses. We were in high school and then at University. We were only just beginning to taste adulthood and we knew then that life was sweet with minimal bills and a lot of time available to spend together.
As we’ve progressed into full-time jobs with more serious bills (ahem, student loans – the very ones that previously made finances so stress-free.) and a lot less leisure time to spend with each other or with anyone, for that matter, we’ve had to face a new and evolving set of challenges. I think our relationship has faced a couple of unique sets of challenges, actually.
Building a life together brings one set of challenges. From living together and maintaining the house together, lifestyle choices to mutual bills. Building a life together has challenges and difficult conversations built in.
On top of that, we’ve had to grow up together. I’ve talked a little bit about this and probably will talk about it again from time to time. As romantic as it is being high school sweethearts if the relationships are really going to last forever there’s some work to be done to transform from teenagers who love each other into adults who function as a team, whose lives work together and who still love each other.
I think we’ve been lucky. Even with the challenges we’ve faced we really haven’t had to weather too many storms. That being said I wanted to take a second here on getting through the days we don’t like to talk about.
Finding ourselves lacking harmony some days was really scary because for so long we never felt that way and we didn’t see a lack of harmony in our households growing up so it started to feel like we must really be doing something wrong. It wasn’t our normal so it felt like a battle neither of us was ready for.
The way we survive and the best advice I can give is simple: love first.
When the love of your life drives you crazy, disagrees with you, makes little mistakes over and over again or just seems to be lacking something you need from the relationship, take a deep breath and love first.
Someone somewhere in something or other I was watching about relationships once said couples have to fight while still being on the same team. You can be upset with each other and you can ask each other to do better in the relationship but always be on the same team.
When you start to feel like you’re on separate teams in some sort of ultimate opposition everyone loses.
What does that look like?
Sometimes it means pausing the argument to ask yourselves what you want the result to be and finding out if maybe you just have different ways of trying to get to the same place.
This happens to Maggie and I sometimes. We’re both strongly opinionated, highly organized, goal driven and a tad bit stubborn. When we see someone else in the pod, particularily each other, veering off the path we really feel we should be on… or if someone asks us to change ours… get ready for a world of resistance and friction.
Then at some point someone asks what the freakin’ point is and we realize we both have the same answer. We’re trying to force each other to the same destination we’re just trying to get there in different ways. Realizing we were on the same team and had the same goals the whole time has solved basically any fight we’ve ever had in a matter of seconds.
Fun fact: Want to clear men out of a room? Start an argument with your girlfriend. Never seen Ben or Tom make themselves dissapear faster than when their women are on the path to disagreement!
Sometimes it looks like creating a compromised vision of how you want it to end so that even though you weren’t fighting for the same thing to begin with you have created a new goal you can both work towards.
Sometimes it means going to bed and seeing how you feel in the morning.
Everyone says you shouldn’t go to bed angry. I sort of agree but I think more importantly you should never go to bed (or anywhere) letting your anger be bigger than your love.
I hate going to bed angry. It’s a terrible feeling and I never get a good sleep. But staying up all night depriving yourselves of any sleep at all is going to put ya’ll in a worse mood and move you further away from resolving your disagreement.
Ben and I have never slept in separate beds simply because we refused to sleep together. If we’re not sleeping with each other it’s because one of us isn’t home, because I am only sleeping for a few hours in between classes. If we’re supposed to be in bed together, we are. Even when we’ve upset each other.
It’s part of putting love first and living the truth that we’re on the same team. We don’t let frustration and disagreement divide us.
When it feels hopeless let yourself remember all the reasons you’re here. How did you end up together? How did you end up living under one roof? How did you feel as you laid the bricks one by one and built this life together? You made a decision – actually, you made a lot of decisions – to get here.
Staying here is a decision, too. It’s a decision that makes sense with the hundreds and thousands of decisions you’ve made as a couple so far. But ending it undoes all those other decisions. Deciding to leave and turn away from love is a decision to remove all those bricks you laid and unbuild this life.
For me, it was worth building and on our worst days, it’s still worth fixing.
Lastly, when I read about peoples worst relationship days they talk about feeling like something is beyond saving. Another piece of advice in my head that I know I got from somewhere but can’t remember where is that you can build something new. Deciding that your relationship isn’t working the way it is doesn’t mean you need a new person. Love is pretty limitless. When you refocus on love you can assess what parts of the life you built aren’t functioning and focus on rebuilding those and doing better instead of swinging the wrecking ball and walking away.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes relationships end and there’s nothing wrong with deciding that what ya’ll really need is to part ways. That being said, I believe in love and the way I see it love can weather a lot of storms when you are willing to repair what you’ve built when it gets damaged.
People sometimes ask us about how commitment fits with being polyamorous. The question can be framed in several ways. We get asked why we got married in the first place, or if we really value our marriages and how we could value our marriages but still want to date other people. We also get asked how we could commit to our partners when we’re already committed to someone else.
All of the answers go back to one truth that is central in our choices and our relationships: How these things fit together really depends on how you think about them and the role you want these things to play in your life as a whole.
Of course, if you think of romantic commitment and monogamy as being the same thing, then it doesn’t fit with polyamory. There are lots of people out there who choose to have open relationships or engage in non-monogamy of some form but still see their long-term lifestyle revolving around one, monogamous partner. There’s nothing wrong with commitment meaning monogamy for you but that doesn’t mean that the definition or boundary carries over for other people
For us, making a commitment of any kind is simply a personal decision where you decide to incorporate something into your long-term vision of your life. We all do this with jobs, choosing where to live, lifestyle choices like going to the gym or doing yoga, having kids, etc. We are designing our forever. We are deciding what our goals are for 1 year, 5 years and 10 years from now. We are using our current situation and experience to understand what we want from the future. I think we all have a few “never agains” and a few “forevers”.
Therefore, in our lives, it’s okay to decide that a partner who isn’t our spouse is still part of our forever. We’re looking at our lives right now, our experience of the past year or so, and our experience prior to dating each other and we’re realizing when we imagine our future, we see each other in it.
Sometimes I get the sense that people worry for us and feel we’re taking this big risk. They fear we’ll get our hearts broken and as people who love us, they don’t want to see us experience any kind of pain, least of all heartbreak. I love and respect that the people in our lives care for us this way and would do anything to protect us from pain. Still, I don’t think we’re taking risks that are truly above and beyond the unavoidable risks of love.
Honestly, from day one I have known that it would hurt if I lost Ben. I have loved that man through a lot of ups and downs. We’ve done a lot of growing up together. If my marriage ended, it would be an unimaginable loss for me. The thing is, marriages do end. When I married him we put ourselves at risk of becoming bitter divorcees. Falling in love and furthermore, basing your life around that love by moving in together and facing the world together, is a leap of faith.
It’s the same leap of faith whether you do it once, twice or more. And it’s still the same leap if you make it with one person at a time or three.
I believe love is worth it. Ultimately, I am okay with taking the risk because I believe in love.
Alright, so I’m cheesy. That’s not new!
Maybe that helps clear up some of the misconceptions about the ability to be committed to more than one person. We generally all have more than one person we see in our lives forever. Best friends who talk about our lives, our dreams, and goals with. Best friends who we hope will have kids the same age as ours so they can grow up together, too. In my life, it just happens to be that I’m dating more than one of my forever people.
But there’s another misconception at play, too. Many people who are aware of polyamory or at least various threads of non-monogamy have the idea that while polyamorous relationships might have many goals, commitment isn’t one of them. As polyamory becomes more widely discussed in the media and more widely known, a list of potential relationship goals such as romantic and emotional fulfillment, support of different interests, and meeting different relationship needs is also known. Maybe you have one partner who is more reserved and supports your undying love of watching movies and talking about philosophy while another partner loves to party and supports your need to experience new things and travel. However, most people don’t imagine polyamorous relationships as committed.
In fact, many of them are!
For us, being polyamorous is a belief about our infinite ability to love and choosing a committed lifestyle is a relationship preference. We could believe in infinite love but not want this “settled down” lifestyle. We could also want this settled down lifestyle without wanting polyamory or even want an “unsettled” lifestyle but with only one partner at a time – none of them gaining our commitment.
You see? Loving one or loving many and loving short-term or long-term are two different preferences. It just so happens, for us, we prefer to have multiple partners who are committed to a long-term life.
As I was planning out my week I started thinking more about how I wanted to incorporate workouts and good food. I did really well throughout October in terms of working out often and making little changes to my eating habits. The start of November though has seen a lot of that fall away and old habits proving their strength. As strong as those old habits are, I’m fairly certain my determination to improve is stronger.
This is actually the first week I’ve truly planned out what my fitness and food looks like based on reflection for what I want. Usually, I am working more closely with a program like the Anna Victoria Body Love app but I sort of got bored with the repetition of that program. I enjoyed it, in a lot of ways, but for a number of reasons I had trouble making it stick.
I’m realizing that maybe what I’m lacking right now is creativity and taking the time to listen to what my body and mind actually want. I know I want to be healthier but I’m thinking of how that looks for everyone else. I see all the “fitness gurus” and “health experts” that post gorgeous photos of their salad and encourage you to commit to their workout program. While that works for some people, it hasn’t been working for me.
It’s really easy to feel like a failure when what works for everyone else isn’t working for you. If it works for all those people then maybe I’m the problem, right?
Every other aspect of my life seems to be taking off and fitting together. So what’s missing with fitness?
In every other aspect of my life, I’m engaging those cliches like “follow your heart” and “be yourself”. Creativity is the common thread guiding my work and improvement.
So this week, as I plan out my creative projects like writing, social media and content creation I’m including fitness. I ask myself questions about my work and projects such as what I have time for, what I’m interested in, what I’m craving and feeling. This is a big part of how I develop my writing especially, and how I determine what I want to broadcast on social media. It’s acknowledging what is happening in my life, what is happening in the world and the direction I’m interested in developing in.
Now, I want to apply that to my fitness strategy. I’ve developed a plan to incorporate focusing on different parts of my body with focused workouts each day, similar to how I did with Anna Victoria but open to more creativity in the actual movements and routines.
I’ve also planned to include yoga in my day because it allows me to reconnect mind and body and celebrate a movement that feels good.
What popular strategies have you tried and hated in self-improvement and fitness?