Thoughts on Being Non-Monogamous

I suspect the title of this post might raise a few eyebrows. Even though I’ve been in non-monogamous relationships for the past 7 ish years, it’s often not something that comes up in conversation. We’re open about it, but given the contexts most people just assume that we’re monogamous. It’s the default position, especially if you have 2 heterosexual individuals who are married and identify as partners.

It’s interesting how actually prevalent non-monogamy is. Many couples have some sort of “loose” guidelines. For some, it’s just things like flirting, while others may have defined a hierarchical, non-hierarchical, or anarchy relationship model.

There’s something interesting that happens when you embrace non-monogamy. The required extra communication, the ability to talk about thoughts and feelings that are often taboo, having thoughts about someone else, wanting to flirt, feeling joy and excitement from being with others. These are all things that “regular” society says is bad. If you feel these things, then you’re doing relationships wrong. You then feel shame, disgust, or sadness at feeling them. You start to question your current relationship, even if it’s objectively great because well, if you feel those things, then surely something is wrong. This person can’t be “the one” if you have those thoughts or feelings.

It also brings about some introspection with regards to self confidence and jealousy. If you really start to dig down into it, often our thoughts, fears, feelings of jealousy, etc, are products of what we’ve been told are what makes “good” relationships. Clearly if our partner is enjoying being around someone else, that must mean we’re not good enough. Maybe we’re not “enough”, maybe they’ll leave us, maybe they were never that into you. If we examine it, I think we find that many of these are internal problems, problems with our thought patterns. If you truly have a good connection with someone, you should know, understand and be able to talk thru these things.

Many people make analogies to explain it. Just because I usually love vanilla ice cream doesn’t mean I won’t take chocolate once in a while. We can also compare it to our partner playing a video game by themselves or spending time with another partner. Would we be jealous of the video game? I would say no. (I can see someone saying that yes, they could be, and perhaps that is the case, but if so, I’d argue the video game is not the problem. If your relationship is so tenuous that spending time on another activity causes you pain, something deeper is probably wrong.)

If you want to learn more, this intro to polyamory is very interesting. There are also great books on the matter such as: Opening Up (There are also many others).

If you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments or send me a DM.

Mental Health in the workplace

I got one of the best compliments Yesterday. Someone I worked with previously is interested in starting discussions around mental health at their new workplace because of how much it helped them when we worked together.

I mentioned a bit of what happened (most of this was not done by me, I was just one small part of the events that happened) and I thought it might be helpful to share here.

It first started with someone saying that during one of the company meetups they would have a 1h thing where people can just come and chat about mental health in a random room. There were a few people who showed up. We decided to create a private slack channel where people could just talk openly about mental health. Word of mouth started spreading, especially among people who were like “Well, it’s not really _that_ bad, I don’t have a diagnosis, etc etc”. We welcomed them all.

I (and I’m sure many others) had follow up conversations with folks who were mentioning going thru rough patches. Since I was quite open about it, often mentioning in the #watercooler channel if I was feeling depressed or anxious and taking a break, lots of folks send me DMs just asking me about it and just wanting to chat. Sometimes it was about them, sometimes about a loved one.

I’d ask them all if they wanted to join and convinced them that even if it “wasn’t that bad” they should join. At another team meetup I did a lunch thing where folks could come and eat lunch one day with others and chat about mental health (or just listen).

It was just to see others who were also working thru things. You didn’t need to talk or anything, you could just listen. I did a bit of an intro of why I think it’s important and some of the things I struggle with, a few other people spoke, some didn’t (but they often would send me a private message saying thanks later).

When I left, it’s one of the things people told me they appreciated the most. To have someone who they saw as senior and a leader talk about this. It made them feel like it was “okay” to feel that way sometimes.

I’ve started doing talks in workplaces about this as well, if you (dear reader) think it could be useful for your workplace, I’m always happy to give a talk. I don’t charge anything but I ask that the organization make a donation to Kids Help Phone. For some organizations, donations aren’t possible so I send an invoice and make the donation myself.

I’ve done this talk in workplaces and at conferences such as Confoo and the feedback has always been very positive:

“6/5 Sensitive topic explained simply and with humour”

“Great personal touch”

“Good energy, interesting perspective and personal anecdotes”

“Very good talk. Honest, straighforward, helpful.”

“Important topic presented in a funny manner”

Confoo 2016 feedback

Stéphane’s candid testimonial on mental health issues was truly engaging. With his great sense of humour and genuine presence, Stéphane puts his audience at ease, making participants receptive and open to tackle what can sometimes be a heavy topic. Having “just a regular guy” come in to share his knowledge of mental health, sprinkled with personal anecdotes, made us feel like we were having a conversion with an old friend. We learned lots of great tips and tricks to prevent or deal and were inspired to talk about mental health more openly.

Great talk, Stéphane, thank you!”

Gabrielle Michaud,
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada / Government of Canada

If you or anyone you know wants to chat about mental health, I’m always happy to listen.
Spoiler alert, I’m not a professional and will probably recommend you talk to someone a bit more qualified.

Belonging to political tribes

As you can see, my frequency of posts on the SNC Lavalin matter has declined. A bit because it seems like it’s not really that big of a deal. Ya it’s probably not the best thing to have done, especially moving Wilson Raybould out of that position, but in the scheme of things… shrug.

I’m concerned that perhaps my thoughts on it as biased because it’s “my tribe” and I’m just making excuses but I’m not sure. It does seem a bit overblown. I mean, would I of preferred if it hadn’t happened, yes. Do I think it’s sub-optimal and reflective of politics in general, yup. Will this change how I vote, probably not.

The “tribes” aspect is an interesting one. It reminded me of a blog post by Vincent St. Pierre about how you shouldn’t be a blogger. The problem is that many people, especially in politics assume that if you blog or tell thoughts that are not towing the party line, you’re not loyal and don’t deserve a job in politics. I understand the appeal of having folks who will toe the party line all the time even when not employed. You see it in many op eds written by consultants/lobbyists (which are often former staffers) who will probably go back to the ranks of political staff after making good money for a bit.

I’ve had a few people who mentioned to me that my analysis is interesting, but they don’t understand why I’d “burn bridges”. I understand the concern. I guess I don’t feel I’m burning bridges, I’m just talking about what I feel and how I understand things to be.

If someone doesn’t want me as part of their team because I speak my mind (publicly when not part of an organization, privately when part of an organization), then perhaps I’m not right for that job/organization.

I prefer having a nuanced conversation about topics instead of just hurling talking points to others. I understand that’s not something you can do when you’re working for a party, but as individuals, we should acknowledge when things are or were sub-optimal and really try to find common ground. We should dig into the root causes of issues and how we can fix them together.

As a friend recently said, “Elevate your discourse, you piece of shit”

What is a DPA anyway? (More Trudeau-SNC Lavalin)

Up to now, I’ve been focusing on the optics of this. I know a few people assume this means I think that giving SNC Lavalin a DPA is a bad idea.

In truth, I have no idea if it’s a good or a bad idea. I do support following the rule of law that says it’s the Solicitor General’s purview to make that decision. But is it the right decision? No idea, and I suspect most people don’t know either and just choose the “right” answer based on partisan beliefs.

This article does a great job of explaining what it is and a bit of the hypocrisy of the media and the opposition about it.

Again, I think people who focus on the “real” root of the issue of if SNC Lavalin should or shouldn’t get a PDA are missing the point of why people are angry or feel betrayed. Paul Wells has a take on it that I think is close to the mark. It’s a bit overly dramatic but I think it explains why the public is shaken. It’s not about the outcome, it’s about the optics of how they tried to get that outcome.

For all most of us know, a DPA is the “best” outcome, but I think that’s missing the point now.

Trudeau – SNC Lavalin (part2)

I’m really curious to see what will happen next. Gerry Butts has asked the committee looking into the SNC Lavalin matter to be a witness:

This is interesting, I think there are a few strategies they could take:

  1. Argue the specifics of SNC Lavalin: This would mean focusing on their belief that offering a DPA is the right call. I don’t think this will work out since it doesn’t address the root issue, that Trudeau appears to not be who he says he is.
  2. Butts takes the fall: Butts claims it was him and not Trudeau. I don’t think this is actually going to happen, mostly because I don’t think folks will buy it since Wilson-Raybould discussed it with Trudeau directly.
  3. Trudeau owns up that this was a mistake, apologizes and re-instates Wilson-Raybould.

I think number 3 is the best option. Ya, lots of folks will say that’s weak. But those folks already dislike him. To be who he says he is, to be what folks expected of him, he needs to own up to the mistake, explain why he did it (jobs / the economy [which is not a good reason IMHO, but one folks will understand]) and say it was a mistake and that really believes in being different and he failed in this case.

This relates back to being authentic, something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. It seems many problems are solved when you’re very much true to yourself.

Is this the hill you want to die on?

Maybe it’s just me, but that’s a question I’ve been asked quite a few times. It’s a loaded question really, the implication is that if you don’t change your mind, you’ll “die”. That it would be foolish not to change your mind.

For me, it’s often a matter of principle. It’s about doing what I think is right, it’s about not compromising on ethics or values, or just not going along with ideas or plans I don’t believe in. It’s about being authentic.

It’s never as if you really die, the consequence really if often something the lines of not being part of a group, ending a friendship or relationship, leaving an organization, or leaving a job.

Maybe it’s idealistic or optimistic, but I think perhaps we should choose to “die” on hills more often.

SNC-Lavalin and Political Hypocrisy

If you haven’t had the chance to watch the testimony from Jody Wilson-Raybould I suggest you watch it. I think it was very interesting.

It’s a bit interesting because I think the problem is not as much the interference. I’m 100% sure that the previous conservative government would of done (and probably did do) the same thing.

To it me it speaks more that Trudeau was not acting like what he said he would. He said he would be different. I was actually in the room when he addressed the Liberal Leader’s Office’s staff a few days after he won and he said something like this:

“We’re going to try to do what everyone says they want, which is to do things differently”.

What I took from it was that it wasn’t lost on him that many people have said this and have then lost their way.

I’m 99% sure that Harper’s PMO did something like this or even worse. They actually did do many things that I think are far worse. But, that was expected of him. He didn’t pretend to want to do things differently.

I’m clearly not a lawyer but I don’t think the pressure put on Jody was a problem as much as it was that she was shuffled out of that portfolio for her decision. That the PMO did not stick to the sunny ways it promised.

Trump, Harper and countless others have done far worse things. The difference is people expected that from them. I think the only thing people care about is that a politician is consistent. That they are not hypocrites.

If this hurts the Liberals, it’s not because of what they actually did but rather that it means that Trudeau is not who he says he is.

At this point I feel like the best outcome is to admit mistakes were made and apologize for them. Trying to debate the finer points of this isn’t going to end well.

Sadly I worry that this will impact the Liberal’s chances in the fall election, I don’t think this is something that a government should be kicked out for. Perhaps I’m being biased because I’m associated with the party and still support it’s values, but I think things like the child income tax benefit, legalized marijuana, cutting taxes for lower incomes and raising them for higher incomes are the right things to do and those matter more than this.

Other interesting reads:

Accidents causing death

There’s a very good opinion piece in the CBC about the driver of a semi that caused 16 deaths.

I feel like so many people judge quickly, but it easily could of been them. Momentarily distracted, changing the radio perhaps. We should try to have more compassion towards mistakes like these.

Fear in leadership part 2

I often used to assign malice to folks in leadership positions I strongly disagreed with. I then slowly moved to assigning ignorance. It made being compassionate to these folks much easier. Now, I often assign fear.

Now here’s the tricky part. It’s way easier to notice and see this in others. Looking inwards at what you are afraid of…. Now that’s much trickier.