Why I’m Monogamous

Monogamy-SWANSI grew up in a family with a mom and a dad in the traditional-valued Midwest who are still married after over 35 years together. Every relationship I knew and saw growing up I took for granted that they were monogamous. Of course I didn’t know the in’s and out’s of other people’s business- because it wasn’t my business so I certainly didn’t need to know- but it was the underlying assumption. It was the culture I grew up in. I heard stories of my grandpa doting on my grandmother. I saw my father doing the same to my mother. Every healthy relationship I saw in and out of my family was on based on monogamy.

For those of you salivating right now thinking, “My god! She’s gonna delve into details of her personal life! She never does that! I can’t wait!” Sorry. No go. No details. Generalizations and philosophy only. I don’t like other people knowing my personal business. Because it ain’t yours.

Though I do like talking the juicy details of yours. Feel free to dish because I genuinely love that shit.

But here’s what I will say:

A couple years ago, I got thrown into a loop. I was introduced to the notion that monogamy might be an unfair cultural expectation that we force upon our relationships and thereby nearly doom them to fail because in many ways it’s unnatural. I read the book, “Sex At Dawn,” which is an extremely interesting and fair assessment of how we’ve become what we’ve become in terms of our cultural expectations of our traditional relationships. It makes a strong case for reevaluating how we view the nature of our relationships and how they can better serve our own innate human sexuality.

And over the past couple years, I got to really evaluate and asses what that means to me. Like the good student I am, I was willing to question completely my own belief systems and challenge them. I had a number of first-hand experiences where I got to learn and question and be open to different lifestyles that what I was accustomed to. I willingly tried on different values to see if something fit me better or enhanced my lifestyle in unexpected ways. I challenged myself, grew, and learned a whole lot about what I truly want in life.

I learned, at my core, that I’m still monogamous by nature. Or maybe it was by nurture. Either way, that’s the path for me.

I challenged it. I pretended I wasn’t. I tried to be the chick that strings along a lot of dudes. I tried to be the person who didn’t care about certain things and cared a lot about others. But no matter how many ways I stretched it, my mind always snapped back to the basic ideas I grew up with. I wasn’t my best self. I was weirdly insecure and indecisive. I sacrificed too much of my basic wants and needs and ended up losing myself. And learned from the process.

But the biggest reason why? I’m too busy for anything but monogamy.

That’s basically it. I’ve got too many other passions and projects on my plate. If I have a partner help me, support me, and delight me as I sail through these adventures, that’s all I want. I don’t need anything else. I appreciate the people who explore other lifestyles because it’s obviously important to them. And I appreciate that my choices aren’t for everyone. If I’m happy and satisfied, I’m too busy nurturing and caring for and investing in my partner to worry about what’s out there that I might be missing. I actually like working through things. I like being challenged and growing. I don’t believe in our constantly upgrading culture that seems to think our happier self is outside of the world we have access to right now. As long as I got a guy who wants the same things in life, and we’re bringing out the best in each other, that’s all I need. And I’ll save the rest of my energy for the millions of other elements of this life that I’m passionate and curious about.

Let me be clear- if you’re not happy in a relationship and it’s not salvageable, certainly move on. I don’t believe that we all have to mate for life and resign ourselves to whatever fate we chose in a partner when lives and people and wants and needs can change in dramatic and unforeseeable ways. You have to be true to yourself and your own happiness. So you have to be willing and open to whatever that means for you.

It’s just for me, I have a tendency to go all in with anything I’m investing in. Whether it’s a project or a person, I get focused on making the most of any opportunity. And if I spread that focus out too thin, I don’t feel like I’m giving it my best. And it’s not everything it could be. And then I regret it. And wonder what it could have been if I had just been more willing to focus on it.

So that’s what I do. I focus. I get tunnel-visioned. I invest. I care. And I’m willing to take whatever emotional blows come with actually caring about the outcome of something. I’m willing to go this distance and fight to the end of the line. If it ends, so be it. But at least I can know I gave it my all.

Plus, romantic relationships are just one element of life. There are so many wonderful things to experience and learn and create. Ain’t nobody got time for dat.

And by nobody, I mean me.

And by dat, I mean dating multiple people.

But different strokes for different folks. My own values and choices are certainly not meant to threaten or judge anyone’s lifestyle. You do you, honeybear. What you do in the privacy of your own home between consenting adults is none of my business.

Unless you want to make it my business and tell me about it. In which case, like I said before, I’ll totally be into because I’m a sucker for listening to other people’s love lives.

Though sharing the details of my own isn’t my thing. Nor is sharing in general.

So if you’re the lucky suitor who wins my affections- you my boo, my bae, my mans, my babymomma- good luck and may God have mercy on your soul.

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It’s the Journey

journeyForgive me in advance for the lack of details on this post. I want to convey the idea behind it without relaying every detail of my personal life. Believe it or not, I can actually be private about my personal life when I want to be (and I usually want to be).

But here’s what I’ve been thinking about lately. Just like that cheesy (but very true) saying “People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime,” I think some creative projects can be the same way. Every project you do may or may not have a lasting result (if it’s ever even completed). But you can always learn something and improve as a result of doing it.

I did a project not long ago. I came up with an idea, called together a crew of people to help me make it a reality, invested a lot of time and money into its creation, and was pretty proud of the result.

Then some things happened. And it made me not want to do the project anymore, despite the fact that I had a bunch of things ready to show the world. I just didn’t have the heart to continue investing anymore time and energy into something that had so fundamentally changed in me. The (excellent) quality of the product remains the same. And that’s the hardest part to deal with. I really want to continue with it, but I just no longer believe in it. I don’t have it in me. I have to step away. I’ll be a healthier, happier person if I just let it go and open myself up to the next great thing rather than try and fix something that I know is broken and no longer serves me.

And it took me a while to come to terms with that. But once I did, I realized that the creation of the project- even though it didn’t last very long in reality- was the important part. I will always have the memories and friendships I made while working on the project. I will always have the stuff to enjoy myself and be reminded of my own work and lessons learned about it. I will always have the memories made each step of the way.

So don’t worry about the outcome, friends. Never stop creating. And don’t you ever stop believin’.

Western Love

eastwood_good_uglyI’m currently obsessed with Westerns

Truth be told, I’m almost always obsessed with something, so this is actually a healthier obsession than some of the ones in my past…

Long story short: I did a project for a festival and met a guy who loves Westerns. He suggested we do a comedy western. I was like, “Sure!” He met my main man, they got along splendidly, and now we’re going to go shoot a short comedy Western I wrote in a couple weeks.

Because life is pretty cool like that.

I’m so excited. So I’ve been watching a series of classic westerns to prepare. And I’m getting into them. Like… real into them. As in, sit at home on weekend nights, watch cowboy movies, and walk around (my studio apartment in Los Angeles) pretending to glare down my (invisible) opponent and grasp my (also invisible) gun.

So if you need me, I’ll be in the Wild Wild West of my imagination for the next couple weeks. Please be patient with me, partner. When I return, I’ll be your Huckleberry.

Flexible Goals

flexibilityI love goals. I write about and talk about them a lot.

One thing I’ve never included in the goal conversation, however, is the fact that I’ve learned to be flexible about my goals. Probably because I’ve only recently learned the value in maintaining that flexibility.

While I think it’s beneficial to really visualize what you want most in the world so that you can do everything you can to achieve it, I think it’s fair to recognize that you can’t force the world to bend to your every whim. You can create whatever reality you want, but it won’t always look exactly like what you expected.

I’ve got a thousand stories about this type of stuff. For example, I had created a goal for myself to essentially do more voiceover work. I didn’t know how I’d go about it. Within about two months after creating the goal, I found myself not only submitting my voiceover work to agents for critiquing weekly through VoiceRegistry.net, but also had landed my first animation gig on a short project. When I first pictured the goal, I saw myself standing in front of a mic with headphones on getting constant feedback from booth directors. And a little while later, that’s what I had.

It’s not exactly what I thought, but it was exactly what I asked for. So I enjoyed it, was grateful for the opportunities provided and went back to the drawing board to clarify the next thing I wanted.

I think a key to happiness is allowing yourself to see the good and not being blinded by only seeing one fixed outcome. So you want the love of your life to show up and sweep you off your feet? Awesome. That’ll likely happen. And it’ll likely come along with some conditions you didn’t see coming. So do you say, “Screw you, Universe! That’s not what I meant!” and throw away a perfectly wonderful opportunity. Or do you say, “Sweet. Let’s see what the heck happens in this…” and figure it out as you go along.

If you’re so obsessed with the outcome looking exactly like you expected, you’re setting yourself up for perpetual disappointment. Maybe the outcome you’re obsessed with isn’t what will actually serve you best. Maybe by missing out on that one opportunity, the universe is leaving you open and available to the life-changing one around the corner. But ending that relationship, it’s making room for the more amazing one that’s waiting behind the corner. By having you “fail” in one area, it’s lighting a fire under you that will fuel your motivation to do even more. And in that motivation, you end up creating three projects that will launch your career. Maybe by hitting that red light you don’t get side-swiped by the person who’s going to run the red two lights down from now.

I don’t know about you,  but I know when I set a goal or have any specific outcome I desire, I allow myself to visualize it as best I can and let the universe fill in the rest. And as long as I’m listening to my gut and living in perpetual gratitude for the good and the bad shiz thrown my way, I think I’m doing alright. Or as they’d say in the hood, “aiiite.”

Actual Gym Boyfriend!

Ask and ye shall receive.gym couple

You guys… I have a gym boyfriend. One more meeting and he’s basically a gym husband at this point.

I’m so excited I can hardly stand it!

Here’s what happened: I got a late night workout in last week. I was doing stuff on the bench press. I remember because I remember thinking how lucky I was to snag a bench press. Little did I know that was only the start to my luck.

I was doing combo moves, one of which included using the bench press to step up in like a horizontal lunge.

Two guys were not far from me on another machine. I didn’t pay attention to them. How could I know one was my future gym boyfriend? We can’t always tell these things!

So I’m between sets, resting for a minute and magic happens. A guy comes up to me and says, “I like your shoes,” and smiles. I was like “Oh… yeah… thanks.” I wore my ridiculously bright shoes. I didn’t even realize I was like a bird in the wild with my crazy colors attempting to attract the opposite sex. But that’s exactly what I did.

Then he smiled at me. Yes. You read that correctly. He SMILED at me.

So I put my headphones back in and looked down. Keep in mind, my last gym fling didn’t last. I don’t know if I’m ready for more gym commitment. I just didn’t know.

But he and his friend stayed closed. He made funny faces at me. I made my eyes wide and awkwardly looked around. He asked if I needed a spot. I didn’t have any weight on the bench press because I was focused on high reps not heavy weight. I said no but thank you. Then I started forcing myself to breathe because this is the most I’d talked to anyone at the gym in a very long time.

Then I went to a different section to stretch. It was by the stairs to go upstairs. He wandered around saying hi and bye to various people. Before he went up the stairs, he made a point to say bye to me. He made it a point, you guys. It was… exhilarating .

I mumbled bye awkwardly and continued stretching.

I haven’t seen him since. But I can’t wait until our second gym date. Maybe I’ll even make eye contact this time. WHO KNOWS!

Episode 61: Patience – Show Notes

patienceThe latest episode of Femoir: The Podcast is a longer one, friends, but since we’re talking about patience, I hope you take the time to listen to it and enjoy!

I talk about the three major improv and comedy theaters in Chicago:

1. The Second City

2. iO (Improv Olympic)

3. The Annoyance

I mention the stage version of my solo show, Femoir.

I also mention my wonderful pending web series, The Other Client List, again. I am very excited about it. It’s gonna be gooooooood.

And I also mention my crazy peg leg pirate upstairs neighbor (again) and the fact that SHE BANGS!

As always, you can subscribe to these for free on iTunes!

Leg Press Kisses

I saw something either disgusting or adorable the other day in the weight room.spidey

A woman was sitting on the leg press and her significant other was standing above her. They were talking really close. Then he gave her a kiss. Upsidown-Spiderman-kiss style.

There are times in my life I would have found that disgusting. I would have thought their PDA was way too much. I would have mumbled and grumbled in my head, thinking they should put a lid on it when they’re in a neutral location like a gym. So if you find the thought of two people kissing on a leg press machine gross, I totally understand where you’re coming from.

I happen to be in a different headspace these days. I thought actually found their affection endearing and adorable. Instead of throwing up in my mouth, I giggled under my breath and thought of some of my own happiness lately and identified with them.

I let their little bit of light shine on me. And it felt great, you guys. Just…fabulous.

Gym Date Night

Xena-Warrior-Princess0013I have discovered an amazing night to go to my gym. Part of me wants to hold back and not tell you when it is… but the other part of me knows that you’re probably busy with “having a life” anyway… so I’ll share.

Friday night. The last hour before the gym closes. I’m gonna call it: Magic Hour.

Why?

Because it was magical.

Allow me to paint the picture…

I walk downstairs to drop off my bag in the locker room, like I usually do, only to see it’s mostly abandoned. I guess the rest of the women who live in my area were out on “dates” or “hanging with their friends.” It was just me and the worker who was cleaning it. It was silent. And wonderful.

I step outside to my weight room to look for leg stuff. I figure if you don’t have much time to workout, might as well work on leg stuff to get the most bang for your buck.

I look around. There are a good handful of people there. And they’re all men. No women in sight. Usually I’m in the minority. I’m rarely the only one of my kind. Already I’m liking my odds.

I take another look at the men. They’re all in great shape. They’re all about my age.
And get this… I was actually noticed.

I’m gonna repeat that. Even though repeating seems silly in blog form because I could just ask you to re-read it. But instead I’m going to retype it. For dramatic emphasis.

I was actually noticed.

Magical instance #1: I was sitting on an ab machine. An anxious dude came up when I was done with a set and asked if he could sub out with me to use the machine at the same time between sets. Since he was nice about it (unlike the grandpa I’ve spoken about before), I allowed it.
After he was done with his set, he got up, wiped down the machine, and returned the weight to my weight.
You know what that means? He took note of my weight so he could return to so as not to inconvenience me any further than he was already doing.

Magical instance #2: I was doing squats (like a boss) and a man came up and asked me how many more sets I had. I told him one. He said, “Sure, no problem, sweetie.
He called me sweetie. Normally, I’d be annoyed. But this was an evening workout so I wasn’t sleepy and hungry like usual. Plus, he said “Thank you, sweetie” when I told him I was done.
I felt like a weight room Princess.

Magical instance #3: I was using the pulley machine to do an ab crunch. I asked a guy hovering near the machine if he was using it (because I’m not an asshole). He kinda mumbled something and started doing pullups right next to it. Unsure if that was a yes or no, I just looked around for a minute. A giant man doing the same exercise I wanted to do on the other machine right next to it, pointed to the other pulley thing and said, “I’m done using that. You can use it, honey.” That’s right. Another pet name.

I said thanks and started using the machine. After my first set, he put a mat right next to me. He had been using it for his knees during the same exercise. I hadn’t even though about that. I put it under my knees. It was luxurious. At this point, I felt like a queen.

While I can’t always make it to the gym on a late Friday night, I now know that if I’m ever going through another gym boyfriend slump, I know when and where to show up in order to be treated like a weight room Goddess.

Of course I never actually speak to any of those guys beyond quick interactions. That’d be too much. I adore from a distance. And I like it that way.

It’s over

sad heartIt’s been almost a month since I last wrote about my gym boyfriend. When I wrote about it then, we hadn’t seen each other in quite some time.

As of today, I still haven’t seen him.

So I’m calling it. It’s over. I can’t even start obsessing over my rebound fling guy because I haven’t seen him, either. And there are no other guys at the gym who tickle my fancy. So I guess it’s over. I’m gym single. I’ll have to just go back to focusing on my workout and not giggling and pretending to stretch in the corner. Ugh.

Maybe they got cold feet. Maybe they really felt the connection between us and got by the intensity of our (my) eye contact. Maybe they just stopped working out. Or maybe they somehow found this blog and moved far far away from LA.

Whatever the reasoning, I’ve decided to let it go. Move on. You’ve gotta get rid of the old stuff in your life if you want to make room for the new. I’m not expecting a gym superhero to show up (my old gym boyfriend looked like Superman…). I’m just accepting that it’s over. And I’ll move on.

Maybe I’ll even start real relationships with actual people that I speak full sentences to.

I dunno. That seems like a lot of work and I don’t want to further stress myself during this already difficult time.

Episode 53: Friendship – Show Notes

old cowboy

In this episode of Femoir: The Podcast, I start with a story about my grandpa saying, “I’m particular about my company.” From all the pictures I’ve seen, he looked a lot like this guy.

I talked about how I didn’t experience a lot of cliques in the schools I went to while growing up. Those schools were Sycamore School and BJPS, for anyone interested.

I also talk about how grateful I am to some of the friends in my life. For anyone who missed it, here are some of the articles I’ve written recently:

My Bop, Love Letter, Making Dreams Come True, Lucky Lady

I also referenced my web series I’m filming that so many friends are involved with. It’s called The Other Client List. Check it out!

Don’t forget to subscribe for free on iTunes!