Cheers Sexy People!
Wow! Just WOW! Seriously I am truly just blown away by the awesomeness that was the Beyond The Love conference this past weekend in Columbus, Ohio. I was definitely already very excited to attend and experience this event, and then “report” on it as the press person / journalist in residence. But I gotta say, it exceeded my expectations in pretty much every way imaginable. Not only was the content and the quality of the various presentations excellent, but the overall loving, happy and accepting vibe of the entire event was just a breath of fresh air. Add to that I was meeting for the first time many friends that I have been chatting with and getting to know for years, and it’s just an explosion of AWESOME! The producers Dan, Dawn and Karen really have come up with an excellent formula. They managed to marry great and useful information via workshops with varied activities for every personality type, as well as fun socializing opportunities fostering a sense of connection with your tribe. Just wow! Well done! Keep up the great work, guys! And how can I help more next year? 🙂
When I checked in for registration, I was asked what color sticker I would like on my nametag. They went on to explain that a green sticker meant you were open to people flirting with you. Yellow was “unsure” about being flirted with. Red was “thanks but no thanks.” I oscillated back and forth between yellow and green… Why I don’t know since I am totally available – I think it’s because I felt like I was working and had to focus on that versus flirting. Then I came to my senses and excitedly put a green sticker on my name badge. Why the hell not?! Poly conference! And this gal <—- is poly and open! Good choice, Kitty. Inject fun into your work at all turns I say.
The first night I chose to attend a workshop and then go to the opening ceremonies. I had no idea what to expect at all. The workshop (Polyamory 101 by Neil Wehneman, J.D.) offered tons of valuable information even though I’m not a newb at polyamory. Then the opening ceremonies gave us a taste of what’s to come and helped us get a sense of the fun, connecting and learning that we were in for. Yay! Then our keynote speaker Ferrett took the stage of the ballroom. He explained how he’s been married for 25 years and identified as polyamorous for half of that time. Then he went on to explain very beautifully that polyamory is most certainly not just about the sex. He spoke of “polyamorous friendship” – which he explained as deep, loving, connected friendships with special people that he considers every bit one of his loves. It looks something like this: multiple bonds = multiple loves = polyamory… as friendship is the basis for polyamory most certainly. Just beautiful and a lovely way to kick off the conference. Nice! Later in the evening, it was time for an awesome, hilarious and raucous burlesque show with some lovely ladies, as well as some live acoustic music. Excellent!
By the end of Friday night, I had not only made new friends with awesome and interesting people, but I had met at least two of my friends that I had only known cyberly, both for several years now. One of them is the infamous Ed H. who helps me run my Facebook group and is an amazing and thoughtful human. You rock, Eddy! And the other is an incredible woman Veronica who was partly the inspiration for this blog! She had started a super cool forum on FetLife called “Poly Talk”. Before I came up with the name Loving Without Boundaries here, I had “poly talk” as a stand in (thus my Twitter tag polytalkbykitty). And now I was hugging and sharing laughs and drinks with these fantastic peeps in person. My tribe! Fuck yeah! I’m living the dream! No really I am – this stuff gets me off! It is hard to describe how freaking awesome it is to meet friends finally in person that previously you had only chatted online / virtually with. Just connected-y awesome goodness that warms my heart! It’s hard not to jump up and down and pounce on them! But I managed to act relatively normal. Haha!
As far as the workshops and presentations themselves, I will dive into many of them in future posts. But to give you an overview, here are the workshops I chose to attend (out of 3-4 workshops that were going on at the same time in different rooms – there was also a gaming room when people wanted a break from the massive head-busting learning activities to “get their game on”):
Polyamory as a Spiritual Path by Michael Rios – What would relationships with others be like if we really were our own best friend? The more we do our own spiritual work, which is really about learning to fall in love with ourselves, the more available and loving we become. —> This workshop blew my mind!
Relaxing Relationship Containment by Kelly Cookson – Couples often have alot to lose if their relationships deteriorate or break up. Consequently, couples protect their relationships by engaging in something called relationship containment. A possible alternative: Couples can learn to relax relationship containment, giving everyone involved greater freedom to develop close relationships. —> Mind blown for the second time! I need a nap now!
Solo Poly by Master So’N’So – This lecture discussed the joys and pitfalls of being your own primary partner. —> This presenter is my awesome friend whom I finally got to meet in person and share a dance with later! LOVE!
Building Relationships That Last by Kathy G. Slaughter, LCSW – This workshop explained the day-to-day habits that help strengthen long-term relationships, as well as the four habits that will destroy a relationship. Based on the principles of the Sound Relationship House according to John and Julie Gottman. —> Freaking awesome information as I work on building an intentional poly family!
Constructive Jealousy: The DC3 Approach by Kelly Cookson – Jealousy happens. Learn to express jealousy in constructive ways versus destructive. This workshop taught how to express jealousy without punishing your partners or disrupting your partners relationships with other people. —> Loved it as this reinforced and expanded on earlier concepts Kelly taught!
What is Sex Positive About by Barry and Cathy – Being “sex-positive” has more to do with defusing the negative charge our culture has placed on anything related to sex, pleasure or personal fulfillment than it does about sex itself. This workshop focused on using tools to examine these culturally reinforced fantasies around sex-negativity which is one of our culture’s most strongly held convictions. —> Hilariously awesome workshop, and these guys are local to me with BMorePoly in Baltimore, Maryland. Small world!
Workshop Summary: The presentations I attended were freaking awesome. Stay tuned for many of the above speakers to appear on my podcast! That’s right! I’m so excited to dive deeper aurally. (giggity)
Fun Summary: The injection of bonding and socializing with other like-minded peeps was adorable, creative and cool! Between the flirt stickers, a flirt bulletin board and even an awesome “cupid” running around with a basket handing out little notes of admiration, I felt the love. What a fantastic, fun and friendly idea that also made introverts or shy people feel included and welcome. I was gleeful when I got a candy-gram and when there were “flirt” notes in my personal flirt board envelope. So cute!
Entertainment Summary: A burlesque show Friday night, excellent live music, a 1920s ball and dancing on Saturday night, and I’m a happy, entertained girl. Well done! Where do I sign up for more?
As you can see, I can’t say enough complimentary things about this conference. I can pretty much guarantee I’ll be there next year as well as helping create the magic in some form or another. Will you be attending and do I get to meet you in person there? Did we already meet this past weekend? What’s keeping you from going? You have a year to figure it out – I highly recommend it. Don’t dream it, be it! “Showing up” is half of what life is about. 🙂
Wishing you peace, love and happiness!
(and thrilling, fun sex too!)