Confessions of a Polyliberamorist

I have a confession to make: I love reading more than one book at a time. Sometimes it feels like I dive into a relationship with a new lover, only to set them aside and dive into a relationship with a new one, going back and forth until both are over.

Currently, I am in the middle of three books: Witches by Erica Jong, Will I Ever Be Good Enough? by Karyl McBride, and Philomena by Martin Sixsmith. And when I say I am in the middle, I am about half way through each of these books.

Witches is a fun, well-written journey through witches and witchcraft. The pages are beautifully illustrated by Joseph A. Smith. And I mean all  the pages. Even the table of contents and the font are given over to building a story of mystery woven with history. If you want a leisurely stroll through witch history, past and present, this book is a good place to start.

In addition to witch history, I read a lot of self-help and psychology books. I picked up Will I Ever Be Good Enough? after a recommendation by a friend with a mutual interest in family relationships. If you think you are the daughter of a narcissistic mother, this book is helpful. I can’t say that it fits my situation very well, and I found myself reading and skimming quite a bit. The topic seems to be well written by a psychologist with personal experience, and I would recommend it, if you were interested in the topic.

I borrowed Philomena from one of my sisters, and I picked it up again yesterday after cleaning up the printer desk and a shelf above it. I started reading last night, and spent more time this afternoon. Martin Sixsmith is a former journalist who knows how to build suspense. Maybe it’s the story, but, with each sentence, Sixsmith layers one feeling of growing terror on top of another. The cruelty of those who claim to speak for God blows my mind. My heart goes out to children and parents everywhere who are separated from each other by means beyond their control.

All these book-lovers, all these fleeting relationships. I can burn through books faster than a fire burns a line of fluid. One of these days, I might find myself satisfied with one and only one book at a time.

One Positive Thing Leads to Another

This morning I did something different: I played music while stretching, and I took the time to notice tension release after some poses, which are a combination of yoga and physical therapy stretches. After a few days back into my stretching routine, I am feeling better.

The stretching and the physical therapy exercises I do in pools helped me feel really good before my recent descent into despair. Like I person who thinks she can stop taking the medication that are making her sane, I stopped the stretching and the gym earlier this month. I get lazy. I think I can get away with it. I get proven wrong.

The gradual release of tension in my body of the fibromyalgia pain lightens my body and my mood. I start to float through a lot of things I want to do: writing, being creative, finding inspiration, moving forward. I considered getting up earlier and how doing so would allow me to get to writing earlier in my day. I considered this body-mind-mood connection.

But my brain felt as empty as stage with only a spotlight on it. Usually, this worries me. Today I thought. Is that so bad? If my brain was an empty stage, what characters might come out? What stories could I write?

I sent my short story to three friends. Two read them and gave me comments. Whee! I have never willingly asked anyone for feedback on something I wrote. That’s a new one for me. All of this is new. I reminded myself that I do not produce widgets. I build worlds in stories.

How fucking awesome is that?

Then it hit me: I am incredibly blessed! I have so much privilege of which I am not even aware most of the time. My life is amazing, just the way it is. I have love, a home, companion animals, awesome friends, loyal family, access to healthcare for mind, body, and soul, and all the food and Starbucks coffee that I could possible want.

I have books, a bed, and a safe environment that I can make my own and create in. I have the power to move my life forward in any direction I want. My life is the way it is because I allowed all of it in. My relationship with my mother has improved immeasurably, one sister wants to be closer to me, and the others are in good standing. So much Love exists in my life. So much PeacePower, and Privilege.

Yes, I have been through health and surgery hell. I survived J– R–. I survived years of head-banging therapy. I survived jobs I despised and toxic friends.

Every time I listened to my desires in recent years, I came face to face with the answer I needed. My desire to grow brought me to a book to EMDR to M– P– who helped you with IFS, ACT, and EMDR to missing my family to moving home for my father to a vastly improved relationship with my mother to diving into a writing career to being self-directed, and to speaking your truth to your family and finding that you can live through it all even when doing so is scary.

All told, I wrote a full 8.5″ by 11″ page of things I can be grateful for. That must be some kind of record! All that writing gave me a renewed sense of Hope and Faith in myself. I can do it. I will do it. I am doing it.

Hope is my word that Buzzfeed says best describes me. Hope is a cat in the Garden City Petco that I want to adopt. Sweet, soft, and loving, Hope was found impaled on a fence. She let me pet her through the window.

I am humbled by the ability of abused souls, human and animal, to continue loving even after torture and pain, accidentally or not.

I think we need new Internet shorthand. Instead of SMH, we should start thinking talking and sharing SML – So Much Love.

Go spread some love.

Poem: I Am Spring

I am Spring

You brought me here
Under the pretext of rains
To nourish and protect my growth
Instead I died dry
In your desert of guidance

Now I am my own Spring again
My Equinox lifts me
From your everlasting winter’s rein

My flattened words grow greener
With their sunny meals
I cultivate myself with passion
I rain down on my fields
And drink in refreshment
As I run

Water soaks my ruched white summer dress
Laughter gallops forth from my lips
Sparrows sing as I swirl
Mini daffodils crown me
Lavender explodes under my feet

I stop to pick a daisy
And run my fingers along the prickly stem
I inhale their yellow scent
With my eyes closed I imagine

Running with you through my fields
Holding hands
Loving each other
Just as we are

© 2014 by Wendy Mastandrea

What’s on the Menu for Date Nite?

You don’t have to married to go on date night. Maybe you and your partner have been living together for so long that you feel like roommates rather than romantic partners. After you live with someone for years on end, the romance does get worn down by the humdrum routine of daily living.

How could it not? Our lives settle into routines: work routines for us, school routines for our kids (if we have them), errand day on the weekend, etc. After a while, the only excitement happens when you go on vacation or find a new hobby together. For my husband and I, finding a new joint hobby happens rarely because we are the opposites that attracted.

If you designate the same night each week for date night, it could be that even that gets to be routine. The only way to shake it up, other than changing the night of the date, is to commit to not to default to the same activity every week. It can get expensive and tiring to always come up with new things to do. At least, try to not do the same thing two weeks in a row.

Our default date night is eat dinner (in or out) and then stay home together. Watch a movie. Play games. Screw around. Or whatever we feel like doing. Because I deal with chronic health issues, I often only have so much energy. I might only have energy for engaging in one activity. Or we start off with dinner and then I poop out.

How do you keep your date nights interesting?

2 Ways Volunteering Changed My Life

For two years, I volunteered with a friend at the MSPCA-Angell Animal Care and Adoption Center in Jamaica Plain, MA. Our official title was Cat Cuddler and Condo Cleaner. I would still be volunteering there if I had not decided to move home to NY in September 2013 to be closer to and help out my elderly parents. Volunteering was such a personally fulfilling decision that I thought I would share and encourage you to do the same.

Life Changer #1:  I nurtured relationships with those who shared my values

The best relationship that I cultivated during this period by far was the relationship I had with my friend Alicia, who had suggested we volunteer together. Every week, Alicia would drive to my house and pick me up. We would volunteer for 2-3 hours, and then she would drive me home. We started looking for places to have brunch together, and, after a few weeks, ate and Veggie Galaxy, a vegan/vegetarian diner which quickly became the only place we went to lunch.

We listened to each other, offered each other support, and made each other laugh. We shared a love of kitties, a love of our husbands and our families, and of volunteering. When she became pregnant with her daughter Claudia, I did all the cleaning and the litter for nine months so she could still volunteer. We seemed to have similar outlooks, philosophies, concerns, and ethics. I stayed with her for five days after Claudia was born to help them out. Now that I am in NY, we Skype so that I can get to know my niece and keep in touch with two of my best friends. From one close coworker, I’ve added another best friend and one niece to those I deeply care about.

Life Changer #2: I gave love, care, and medicine to countless homeless animals, which helped me, too

Caring for animals is a topic dear to my heart. Even so, I can only adopt so many. I live with three cats in a small space: Hunter, who is 17.5 years old; Gwendolyn, 2 yrs 3 mo; and Norman, 2 yrs 8 mo. Because so many animals need help to go from crisis to their forever home, I felt like I could do my part by volunteering. The more often I went and the more animals I helped, the happier I became. I was living out my values in ways that benefitted the animals first and myself second. Or maybe at the same time. It doesn’t really matter. I was able to give and receive joy and affection that lasted well beyond the few hours I was there.

No matter what your values are, I am sure there is an organization that could use your help. Don’t wait! Do it now. Your life will change for the better.

How Not to Resist Urges in 2014

Even self-restraint has joined the list of items in the “Too Much of a Good Thing” category. According to a New Year’s day science blog post by Huffington Post’s Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D., researchers are quoted in a reply to the blogger saying: 

“The practical implications are exactly as you laid out — if you are trying to control urges, they might come back stronger. Or you might develop or potentiate other urges… it’s a difficult nut to crack, that’s for sure.”

This topic interests me because I have long been an extreme (ex-TREME!) self-restrainer. Ok, you there! Stop that laughing! I know I have given some of my readers plenty of opportunity to experience my emotional (read: angry) side. At those time, an excess of self-restraint was probably the farthest from your mind as a contributing factor. But I have other examples:

  • You probably do not know that I have struggled with an addiction to sugar since I was a child. With full- and half- and empty-hearted attempts to give up sugar in 2013, I primarily used self-restraint to put an end to it.
  • With the exception of one group diet challenge at a former employer’s, I have not been able to lose and keep off the weight I have gained in these last 13 years. 

After 2014 rolled around, I thought about what I wanted to focus on this year. I decided that I want to focus on the positive, e.g. achieving my goals, instead of focusing on avoiding things. If I feel anxiety when achieving goals, I will breathe deeply and carry on. Not get rid of it, but just to let it be. Not to diet or get rid of sugar altogether, but to focus on eating micronutrients and organic, unprocessed foods. Not to hold back my feelings, but to feel them and then share them in a simple, direct manner without letting guilt or shame drive me into taking it out on anyone. 

I want to be able to say, ‘You know, I’m not comfortable with that / I do not like when you do … / I feel ignored / it hurts me when, etc.’ because it is only when I acknowledge how I feel and share it with in plain words that my anger will be simple anger instead of being ANGRY. On the flip side, I hope I can hold steady when someone I love says to me, ‘You know, I’m not comfortable with that / I do not like when / You hurt me when …’. I want to be able to accept it, to breathe, and stay open even when life rushes in waves underneath me, regardless of the direction the feelings flow. Because the flow of an open relationship is so much more rewarding than indulging in chocolate chip cookies.


I think.