With the innocent days of key parties and free love behind us, Not Your Mother’s Playground: A realistic guide to honest, happy, and healthy open relationships is a how-to guide for navigating today’s very different world of modern-day non-monogamy. From swinging to polyamory, it walks readers through the many ups and downs they may encounter along their journey. Samantha injects the honest story of her own open marriage throughout to provide readers with insight, humour, and refreshing personal experience. Whether you are new to non-monogamy or an experienced veteran, Not Your Mother’s Playground is sure to challenge your mind and validate your heart.
If you want to stay up to date on where they’ll be in stores, sign up on the top left for my newsletter and I’ll let everyone know there! Or, alternatively, you can buy directly from me by clicking below. (Note: I will be out of town until June 12th and cannot ship until then.)
CLICK HERE to learn more about getting a Kindle, PDF, or print copy of the book.
Learn more about the book here.
It’s all a bit of a dream to me now. I crossed “Write a Book” off my bucket list a few weeks ago and now I’m starting to settle into whatever my new reality is going to be. To say that the last few months of getting it all done were the hardest months of my life, is definitely an understatement.
I lost interest. I lost save files. I lost my mind.
I started writing the book Not Your Mother’s Playground: A realistic guide to honest, happy, and healthy open relationships, about a year after starting this blog. Outside of this site and writing some angst-filled songs and poems in my past, I didn’t have much real writing experience. Over the years people have asked me to write for different sites, as I started to make a name for myself, but it’s all been on the ground training for me. When I decided to tackle the book, I naively treated it like I do most other things in my life: like something that I was just going to learn how to do and get done. I gave little thought to the process and what exactly I was committing myself to. I tend to always jump first and figure out my parachute in the process of falling.
The first big lesson that came to me years ago when writing was this: Writing a book about how to have successful open relationships is extremely difficult when yours seem to be failing all around you. You see, as those of you who have read the evolution of this blog from start to finish know, I’ve had my ups and downs. Some of the heartaches and mistakes from my past made it impossible to try and offer guidance to others with a fake smile on my face. I lost the faith, many times, that I had anything worth sharing with the world.
Read more »
Keynote: Friday, May 31st at UBC Robson Square Theatre
Workshops: Saturday, June 1st in UBC Robson Square
I’m looking forward to presenting my keynote speech Living Honestly & Creating Change this Friday at the first ever Polycon in Vancouver, BC this coming weekend! Additionally, I’ll be presenting two workshops on Saturday afternoon: How NOT to be a Poly Elite Douchenozzle and Different Strokes and Double Standards. It’s an honour to be a part of this great event!
CLICK HERE to learn more about Polycon.
Book Launch in Toronto
Once I return from Vancouver, I will be working on getting something going. Stay tuned for more information
At my dad’s funeral in 2004, one detail has always stuck out for me; how many people came up to me afterward to tell me what a nice service it was. In the absence of familiarity, strangers found themselves obligated to fill the silence with generic words of solace. Better than saying nothing, some would say.
As the broken daughter on the receiving end of those words, I can only remember how frustrating I found them. Funerals are the worst time ever anyway; and having to keep it together while crowds of unrecognizable faces told me that my father’s service was lovely was like having the most attractive person in the world punch me with cupcakes, on repeat. The sentiment was nice and well intentioned (and appreciated on some level), but the underlying misery was still the same, regardless.
Perhaps that’s a morbid way to bring you to my point, but it’s the only thing I could think of that seemed slightly related to what I want to discuss, which is this:
It’s fucking hard sometimes to be amazing.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Well, I don’t exactly but I’ll gladly take a stab at it. You’re possibly thinking that I’m being self-absorbed and full of myself, calling myself amazing haphazardly on my blog because it’s “my damn page and I’ll do with it what I want.” Not the case. While that could easily be my prerogative, what brought me to this conclusion was recent weeks of well, misery. I’ve been on the edge of a break-up with someone near and dear to me and, if you know me on the Twitters, you’ll know that it’s hard for me to keep my emotional state hidden from public view. By “hard for me”, I mean “virtually impossible”. I might not share all the gory details, but it’s obvious when something is happening in this little heart of mine.
What does this have to do with being amazing? And how am I connecting it to my father’s funeral? Well, I’ll tell ya’.
I’ve noticed that in times of despair people will often reach out to me, offering their words of comfort. These internet hugs are lovely and certainly appreciated – at least for the intentions behind them, but they can also fall flat when presented like this:
“Don’t feel sad. You’re amaaaaazing!”
I have learned how to take a compliment over the years. If you think that I have done something to warrant being told I’m amazing or awesome or insert compliment here, I will certainly take it. I will blush and I will be genuinely grateful. However when it’s used as a blanket response to “I’m sad or angry”, it’s a lot harder to digest.
To tell you the truth, it feels dismissive, though I know that’s not the intent. When I am genuinely suffering with an issue that’s upsetting or angering me, a personal crisis that’s causing me sadness or despair; telling me not to worry about it because I’m amazing, leaves me conflicted. I’m left with feelings of guilt for allowing sadness or anger in when I’m apparently so amazing that I should be able to rise above all of that, right?
Am I not allowed to feel sadness because I’m amazing? Have I ruined your view of me as an amazing woman because I am momentarily feeling weak? Am I obligated to do something awesome instead of being able to just … be?
Of course not. And I know that if I asked them directly, people would never answer those questions with any ill intent, they only wish me to feel better. For whatever reason though, we tend to default back to generic language that we’re taught will make everything ok. We think we have to fill the silence, to say anything to recognize the sadness. “It was a lovely service, but ok yes, your dad’s still dead.”
Instead of telling someone who’s feeling down that they’re great, give them a tangible offering. Let them know that you’re there for them if they need to talk or reach out. And if that’s too much of a commitment for you, letting them know that you empathize and/or hope they feel better is a nice sentiment without being dismissive. Every now and then simply knowing that there’s a person or people out there that wish you good vibes is enough to get you through the day.
I know I don’t speak here for everyone. I’m sure there are those that feel that being told they’re amazing or awesome in times of despair is enough to get them through the day with their head held high. For me, however, I want to earn that compliment as recognition for being great not for comfort when I’m being sad.
Don’t get me wrong. If I’m doing something that you think is awesome? Please tell me! I won’t ever deny that validation feels GREAT and it’s also important for me to know that what I’m doing is making a difference. I simply want you, the world, to think that I’m amazing because I want to do and am doing amazing things FOR you.
For anyone that’s reached out in the past couple of months, I promise, I am grateful.
I’ve got a pair of Erykah Badu tickets to give away for her show in Toronto on Tuesday, March 5th. Just click this link and find out how to enter!
Another guest post from my friend, Kitty. She and her husband J have recently opened up their marriage, after years of being monogamish. Her journal posts are so raw and full of both joy and slight sadness, with a side of “I GOT this.” that I always feel connected to her when I read them.
This one is about meeting her husband’s lover. I know how that feels for me; such an awkward time. I’ve often felt like I’m intruding on his relationship time with someone else, or that they’re being nice to me because they “have to”. Then I worry about noticing their intimate moments or lustful glances, and feeling like a third wheel. Even after 6.5 years, I still feel it. Afterwards though, I always feel better. Like, now I “know” this person and have a genuine interest in their happiness.
This stuff ain’t always easy, folks. Thanks for sharing, Kitty.
I wish that I could watch my new life as a fly on the wall would. Observing, perhaps taking notes but not being overly concerned with what’s happening. I think it would be interesting to watch my life, this black comedy unfold. At first I thought I might be tits deep in a drama but I refuse to let my life be like that. And while there is tension and awkwardness and even sadness it’s in a way that could only be defined as a black comedy.
I think that sometimes, what defines whether a story is a drama, comedy or even a tragedy is all in how the characters choose to look at their situation.
Imagine a large convention centre and within its walls an event is being held. This event is Sexapalooza. Now imagine a smart, attractive couple that has just recently opened up their marriage. In the short few weeks since opting for this alternative lifestyle they’ve come to experience the typical rigmarole that would accompany such a bold endeavor. Now imagine the wife, feeling insecure and brazen at the same time, meets her husband’s new…love interest.
The three of them stand there amongst the anal lubes and cock rings and nipple clamps in all their awkward, nervous glory. The wife trying desperately to seem cool and confident and welcoming, the new girlfriend tense and hopeful, her heart pounding hard enough for the wife to hear, the husband stands there feeling slightly guilty and almost confident that his wife won’t be a bitch and embarrass them all.
Conversation is made. The women find that they have a few things in common and the tightness in their bellies ease up, just a little. Everyone speaks a little faster than usual, a little more enthusiastic then is necessary. The wife eyes the girlfriend up and down, sizes her up, analyzes and rates her. She admits to herself and later on to her husband that The Love Interest is indeed a Nice Woman and she can’t deny seeing her appeal. Consent, though hardly needed, is given.
The husband asks for a moment alone with his new friend, “to say goodbye” and the wife hugs the Love Interest, wanders off and tries not to think too much about whether or not he’s kissing her next to that big bottle of anal lube. It doesn’t really matter if he does or doesn’t, anyway. Right?
The Dark Comedy lewdly stands there, grinning like an asshole.
Recently, two of our dear friends decided to make the leap from their mostly monogamous marriage into open relationship territory. Theirs is a love most evident, and I’ve always considered them to be very strong as a couple, but making the switch to non-monogamy can be a tough hill to climb. When she sent me over her first journal entry below, I related so easily and was immediately brought back to my first days being open, and truthfully sometimes those old feelings flare up.
I am honored that she has agreed to share this wonderfully honest and raw story here and hope you enjoy, without judgment.
It’s funny how naive I was just a few days ago.
I had my first date on Friday and I was ridiculously nervous. I can’t even begin to describe my anxiety level at the time. And while my anxiety did dissipate as the evening progressed I found that it just transferred to a different area of my mind the next day.
The guy I went out with was nice enough though kind of boring and lacked the type of energy I enjoy from a man. It was fun in its own way but it’s not an evening I’ll be repeating. At the end of the date I told him to kiss me. It lacked any “oomph” so I told him to kiss me again. For real. For scientific research. It was not a good kiss and in fact, I felt a little icky after. It was like kissing a straight girl.
J went out with his wife the next night.
They had a FABULOUS time. J really enjoyed her. I asked him if they kissed and he said yes. I couldn’t help but wonder if he touched her breasts, if he got an erection, if he grabbed her ass the way he grabs mine. Not the healthiest mindset in to be sure, but I found myself there nonetheless.
He sat down on the love seat next to me and tried to embrace me. I could smell her perfume and it choked me in such a way I thought I might vomit. It had that heavy, powdery scent that so many older women are fond of and I could barely stifle out the words, “Change your clothes. I can smell her.” It was truly horrible. We made an agreement that clothes would henceforth be changed immediately upon returning home.
My feelings? Ugh. Argh. Blargh.
It surprises me how painful this can be. I want this to work. I believe in it. I want J to enjoy other women, I honestly do. And I want the same opportunities. But it’s so HARD. I’ve found myself in varying states of jealousy and pain this week. I’ve been a little emotional and a little irrational at times. I’ve lashed out a bit and I’ve cried. I didn’t like it that he was putting so much effort into getting to know someone. I didn’t like it a LOT. But I was also putting in effort, staying up late, writing letters, waiting for phone calls.
I have to constantly remind myself that what’s “Good for the goose is good for the gander.” That if *I* can become excited about new people and still be madly in love with him then he can do the same. And truthfully, I’ve always suspected he loves me more then I love him. I hate saying that but in every relationship there is going to be one person more in love. I love him intensely, but still. I think it’s him.
You’d think that this knowledge would enable me somewhat. That knowing the depth of his love for me, his devotion and the truth in it would help me relax. And it does. But still, I feel…scared. Threatened.
Last night I had the luxury of time to think. I realized that in part it wasn’t just my feelings of insecurity or that I was upset because he’d rather spend the evening out with someone that wasn’t me. What bothered me was the amount of effort he’d put in this past week. He sent her emails. He sent her texts. He called her on the phone and spoke with her late into the night. He asked her questions about herself. He made plans. He thought about what he was going to wear. He felt nervousness, anticipation, excitement.
Meanwhile, it’s hard for me to get him out of the house. The only time we go anywhere is when I demand it. Dinners out are expensive and we shouldn’t spend the money. The city is too far away and traffic is a pain and parking is a joke. Everything is boring. Why go out when we can’t drink because we have to drive.
I can’t remember the last time he suggested we go out somewhere. I honestly can’t remember the last time he took me out for lunch or suggested any outing at all, what-so-ever. I think it’s been years since he’s been the one to initiate any sort of social outing. I arrange everything.
And here he was making plans for someone that wasn’t me.
We spoke about this after he got home and I was excited to share this bit of information with him. As brutal as it was I was excited that I’d come to this conclusion. It wasn’t like the thought hadn’t occurred to me before but given the light of our new situation it seemed all the more important. I cried when I told him. He cried a little too. He promised to start making more of an effort. We hugged. We told each other how much we loved one another and we meant it.
But where does this leave us now?
It leaves us with a long road ahead of us. That’s what.
A couple of times this week I’ve wondered to myself if it was worth it. Is this venture really worth it? Do I really want this for myself and for him? I’ve marveled at the fact that while I am deeply, passionately and forever in love with this man I still have desires that he can’t or won’t fill. I want to spend time with other men. I want different experiences, different people and different sex. How strange is that? He’s a man who can satisfy me in ways that no other man has and yet I still want to have sex with different men! I still want to hear another man’s secrets. I just don’t like the idea of J sharing his mind and his body with anyone else.
I know that these are normal feelings. I understand that when people first open up their marriage it’s common and natural to have feeling of insecurity and self-doubt and sadness and pain at the idea of your partner doing all those special, intimate things they do with you.
This doesn’t mean I don’t want to keep at it. I’ve also experienced some very high points the last little while. It feels WONDERFUL to suddenly have all these men contacting me, vying for my attention, telling me I’m beautiful. I’ve met some pretty interesting guys online the past couple of days. I’ve actually had a hard time keeping up! To go from one man telling you you’re beautiful and smart to having a half dozen men telling you all the different things they like about you is a real confidence boost! And of course it makes it a lot easier to deal with J’s new friend when I myself am making new friends.
I suppose that with a little more time it will become easier and easier for me to embrace my inner goose.
It was probably in the late summer or fall that I first heard of #CrushTO events being produced by the girls at the sex-positive group, I’d Tap That. Up to my eyeballs in planning for both my work festival and Playground sexuality conference, it was only something that my brain could give a passing glance to, though I was intrigued.
In their own words:
#CrushTO is a flirty event series for hot, nerdy people who want to make sex-positive like-minded friends. An invitation for any and all: hetero, homo, queer, trans, kinky, lesbian, gay, vanilla, bi, flexible, monogamous, poly, and open minded young people (or young at heart.) Events are for everyone, regardless of gender, race, relationship status or sexual preferences.
Maybe it was a combo of me being sick last summer or feeling slightly romantically defeated, but the idea of going to an event where a bunch of hot, young people were flirting with each other using numbered tags and twitter was a bit much for me at the time. I was intrigued by the idea but too intimidated, thinking that it would feel like a repeat of high school where everyone was connecting and hooking up and I’d be left on the sidelines again, unwanted.
I may have some baggage to deal with.
Eventually the timing worked out and a bunch of the family wanted to check out #CrushTO‘s Halloween event. The old venue at the Central was pretty intimate, with separate spaces for dancing, chilling out, grabbing a drink, playing spin the bottle, yes, I said spin the bottle, upstairs and hanging out on the heated patio. I hadn’t done too much research ahead of time so I didn’t realize how diverse and relaxed and SEXY the crowd was going to be. People of all genders, sizes, races, and presumably sexualities filled the place with smiles on their faces. That usual atmosphere that goes along with the dance clubs of my youth – *look your best so that you can make out with a meathead by last call* – was nowhere to be found. Instead I felt no pressure to be anything but myself, whatever I wanted to be at the time (which was this weird doll thing).
If seeing people making out and being a little nekkid makes you uncomfortable, #CrushTO has designated safety people to make your experience as enjoyable as possible. You can never guarantee that there’s not jerks at parties, but I have yet to encounter one though I did have a friend who didn’t have a completely great experience, but perhaps a one time fluke. Plus, not only do you get a great night of dancing and drink specials, there’s burlesque shows, often/usually featuring the sexy Johnny B. Goode and Belle Jumelles, two of my fantasy favorites. Wait, did I type that out loud?
Recently, #CrushTO switched venues to Club 120, or Goodhandy’s as you may know it. The venue change is definitely a step up, there’s more room for dancing, and three floors to get your flirt on. It’s a bit unfortunate that there isn’t the quiet area that the last venue had, and that with only one exit they hit capacity long before the place actually fills up, but just get there early and you won’t have to worry about it.
The tags and twitter flirting don’t seem to work like they used to as the twitter screen stayed pretty static at the recent January event, but maybe it’s just a matter of adjusting the system. Maybe writing numbers on people triathalon style would work. Maybe people are simply over it, who knows. I hope not, because I want to get my flirt on via social media.
What I realized at the last #CrushTO event was that, while it’s promoted as a sexy, fun party night, I don’t go with the plan of making out and flirting with anyone new, though I’m totally not opposed to it. I go because it’s filled with beautiful people being nice to one another. I can dance like a total idiot and I don’t feel judged or embarrassed, (though I do hope that the DJ gets better and starts to play some more booty popping songs). It’s just a simple, great time without any expectations or pressures.
You should join us at the next party “Cosmic Love” on Saturday, February 23rd, starting at 10 pm at Club 120, 120 Church Street. I’ll be the one dancing like a weirdo, waiting for your flirty tweet. For more info, check out the Facebook event page. To learn more about the great gals behind these events and other sex-positive projects, visit I’d Tap That.
Disclaimer: This post is not in any way meant to defend the asshole trolls on the Internet who say dickish things and perpetuate so many inappropriate ways of thinking. This post is for the little guy; for you and I. For all of us who sometimes get it wrong and have true desire to make it right and learn from our mistakes. This post isn’t inspired by any particular incident but from what I see on the Internet every day. I am not suggesting that people should not stand up for their beliefs, nor am I saying that we should roll over and let ignorant people get away with hateful speech. What I am suggesting instead is … pause.
It’s an amazing time to be on the Internet, at least in western civilization. Not only can you spend hours and hours looking at cats AND porn, there is a battle cry being heard from coast to coast as we work to rid the world of social injustice, prejudice and hurtful language. With everything happening on social media, particularly on Twitter, at super-fast speeds, it’s not surprising to see at least one local online battle cry per day in our feeds. And the majority of the time – like 9.89/10 – these cries are justified. People who are uncomfortable with being called racist, fat-shaming, victim-blaming, homophobe or – insert your own adjectives here – should stop being racist, fat-shaming, victim-blaming homophobes. No doubt about it.
Because the Internet allows us the freedom to be, we have become quick to pounce activists, waiting for the next ignoramus to fuck up and cause a big stink. It’s enough to make your head spin when you’re used to the Twitter that was, but it’s also amazing to be involved in this time of social change and see it happening right before our eyes. We are making a stink about things because the platforms now exist for people to be heard and for others to be held accountable. Change is happening in the world and it’s long overdue.
What I want to write about today is not about how justified we are at attacking the ignoramuses. Ignorami? Ha, look at me being ignorant … anyway. Today, I want to propose the thought that perhaps, in our haste to make the world a better place, we are sometimes – and not always (gosh, I’m peppering this with “please don’t attack me” language, aren’t I), quick to paint other humans with the troll brush without compassion and understanding for the fact that maybe they just fucked up a little. Here’s some thoughts:
We all make mistakes.
It’s true. I fuck up and so do you. It’s part of being human and we ALL fuck up on the Internet at times. No one is going to say the right thing all the time, and if you think that you do, you’re an asshole. People will occasionally combine their 140 characters in not the best of ways, or not the ways that you might have chosen. Assuming that they don’t fit into the groups mentioned at the top *usually*, there’s a chance that they simply misspoke. More often than not though, instead of seeing people ask for clarification as to what the true intention of a message actually was, they’ll be bombarded with a “Hey! You suck! Here let me RT what you said and tell the world how much you suck! What’s that? You’re now trying to explain what you meant and that you’re sorry? Too bad! I’ve officially decided that for the rest of time, you suck.”
Then while they’re attempting to make it right, other people will jump on the bandwagon and also tell them how much they suck, and if they don’t have the strength for it the person that perhaps misspoke ends up retreating, we never end up learning what they were *trying* to say, and we lose another voice on the Internet that could have been an ally, had we slowed down when questioning their choices.
Everyone has different histories.
Please see the disclaimer at the top for this one. I’m not talking about the dickhead trolls.
This one doesn’t mean that just because you have a different history or background or privilege that you get to use those things as an excuse to be a dick. I find it interesting that there can be finger pointing at people for not being inclusive in their statements, while the finger pointers themselves are making assumptions about that person’s history, background or privilege; which seems to me to be occasionally hypocritical. If we want people to be more open minded in how they interact with the world, perhaps we should be more open minded in how we interact with them and give them a chance to explain themselves and where their thoughts come from.
These are personal spaces, in a public world.
The messed up thing about social media is that line between personal space and public responsibility. I take my role seriously as a person who gets a lot of attention for “representing” the poly community – not that I agree that this is a role I should have, but I recognize that it’s a slot that a lot of people seem to put me into, regardless of if I agree with it or not. Recognizing that the public have certain expectations of me to do and say the right thing is one thing, but embracing the fact that it’s my own personal space and sometimes I’m going to say what I’m feeling and it might not always be the “right thing”, is another. It’s easy for words to get twisted on the Internet especially in a place that at times can feel like such a personal, intimate, safe space for expressing our own thoughts.
Don’t hate, educate!
Sorry, forgive the cheesy heading on this one, but nothing really sums up my feelings more on this matter. We need to all take a step back from our pouncing stances and relax for just a second.
Not everyone that lives in another camp on the Internet is the enemy. With a little conversation, compassion and understanding they might be people we could share supplies with. There’s still a big group of folks out there that want to destroy our tents and throw water on our fires any chance they can, and we should definitely call those people on their shit, 100%. However, others who are simply trying to survive in the same world that we are but might sometimes lose their way; don’t they deserve at least a “What did you mean by that?” instead of “You’re wrong, you’re wrong, let me tell you all the ways you’re wrong and speak over you when you’re trying to respond.”?
I think we all need to take a step back and evaluate how we treat each other on the Internet – and in person. There are some amazing people out there with different opinions and histories and backgrounds. No one person is right all the time and no one person is wrong all the time. There is much to learn from one another and together we can do so much more to rid the world of the *real* problems than we can apart.