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109. The Relationship Anarchy Smorgasbord and Finding Queer Belonging with Maxx Hill

Nicole: Well then the first question I do like to ask is, how would you introduce yourself?

Maxx: Oh, wow. That feels like such a big and bigger question than just like asking me to introduce myself. Like, how would I, so my name is Maxx, the relationship Anarchy and Polyamory community knows me as Maxx Hill, that one, that may, that does the smorgasboard.

Uh, the best ways to refer to me are Maxx and they and them, or if he, him is also fine. I'm an artist educator, really, first and foremost, and an illustrator. You know, my, my art goes to work, I guess is, but then I'm also, you know, here I am sitting weaving baskets, so, mm-hmm. I don't actually have that like hierarchy in my head, or I do as much as I can to kind of dismantle the hierarchy that in my head, that I've inherited of certain arts are better than others.

But, uh, yeah, that's the core of what I do and, and how people know me. I drink, I'm sitting here drinking tea. Um, I'm queer. That's, you know, a great little uhhuh, little bitty, I guess, you know, when back there was a workplace that I used to work at, don't recommend it. I officially can't say who it was.

Mm-hmm. But, um, you know, one of the people that I was working with was like, you know, giving me a lot of pushback mm-hmm. About using gender neutral language to refer to me, uh, using the right pronouns. And she's like, well, what should I call you? I'm like, you can call me a queer. And she was like, you know, 70 year old activist.

She's just the look on her face. Like, what? I'm like, that's what I'm comfortable with you calling me. Mm-hmm. That is a fine word for me. I'm telling you to call me this. Yeah. And like, she was just so astonished, refused. Of course. For real. Um, but I know that for, for many folks, queer is a, is a word that has a lot of baggage to them, but, I like to make people uncomfortable with the things that they have accepted as truth.

So, yes.

Nicole: Yes. Well then tell me, yeah. What does queer mean to you? Getting you with the easy questions. Let's just start with the easy ones.

Maxx: I mean, I, I really love the phrase not gay as and happy, but queers and fuck you, or fuck the system or fuck the police, or, you know, any of those kinds of things. Uh, we had a conference here a number of years ago now that Kate Bornstein spoke at, Kate Bornstein, wrote, I think, wrote the book Gender Outlaw.

Um, has been like an out trans person for a very long time and has written a lot about it. And she kind of explained that like, Gender queer was the term that was around for those folks who really didn't fit into the binary or didn't want to fit into the binary. And then like more recently, non-binary is, has been the term.

And, um, I'm friends with a person who I, who they think they actually coined the term. Like they have the essay that they wrote mm-hmm. Like ages ago where they like coined the term. Kate talked about how non-binary is a little bit more presentable. Mm-hmm. It's not as confrontational, whereas gender queer is intentionally confrontational.

Mm-hmm. And so for me, queerness ha is like integral to questioning so much and making that system that has made us uncomfortable, making it uncomfortable in turn.

Nicole: Yeah. Taking that power back.

Maxx: Yeah. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Nicole: Yeah. And I'm conscious of that, the fact that you mentioned earlier that you grew up in a rural environment.

Mm-hmm. Was coming into your queer identity accepted in that space? I know, I know. Dumb question,

Maxx: Nicole, but I gotta ask. I mean, it's a fair question. So, my nesting partner is, um, like grew up where, you know, in the town that we live now mm-hmm. Which is, you know, a, a blue area in a red county, minus New York City, a red state really with via honest here.

My nesting partner, even though is younger than me, he's my trans elder because he knew about trans people. He came out as trans, he had access to resources, even new to look online to find them. Define the language, had community, had a local queer center, run by a local nonprofit. There was so many levels of access that he had, and he is like, grew up literally 30 miles away from me.

Hmm. I didn't have language for these things and just thought I was a weirdo. Hmm. So, and didn't and they, and like my school wasn't the smallest school in the county. Yeah. You know, we had maybe like 350 people per grade instead of a hundred, like one of the nearby school districts. But it's still like, there just wasn't information and I wasn't really online, um, when I was in high school struggling with a lot of mental health stuff and being on the computer was not helping that.

Sure, sure, sure. So even just figuring out that I was queer in any sense of the word. Let alone trans was like a whole arduous process. Like, and then accepting that and then like, okay, there was a group of us weirdos so we could sort of accept that, accept like queerness in each other to some degree. And that was cool.

But like, you know, not having access to people really to see myself reflected in any way. Mm-hmm. I think the first time I really had access to other trans people was when I was in college. One of my first friends in college. We both had very different ways of getting there, but like, you know, they knew they were trans.

I was in a lot of classes with them and like, Every semester having to correct. Okay. The legal name that the teachers have is not the name. Like, things refer to me in these ways. Like I, so I went through that with like, in so many classes with this class, with this friend of mine. Mm-hmm. You know, and seeing that and like feeling a resonance there, but not understanding how to talk about it or how, how to wrap my brain around it.

So yeah, there's, there's challenging, I guess is like a simple way of putting it. It was just, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Nicole: Yeah. I was conscious too, you said, I thought I was a weirdo. Oh, oh man. What a place to be in.

Maxx: I mean, I still really embrace the weirdo because there was a group of us, but like, I felt like I was even a weirdo amongst the weirdos.

Mm. So yeah, that isolation in that, Oh yeah. Lack of belonging. Oh yeah. Thanks. Toko Paw. I don't know if you know Toko Paw Turner. Um, tell me, yeah. Toko Paw is, I don't know what title she would use, but she talks about belonging a lot. She got a book, I think called Belonging. Um, the Cover Art is by, um, Molly Costello, who is another really amazing, was just an amazing artist, but Soko, PA Yeah.

Really talks was like the, one of the first people that I saw who talked like publicly about shitty moms. Really Fuck you up. Oh, whoa. Do you have a story there? Oh my God. I haven't process, I haven't processed it well yet enough to, for it to, for me to be able to talk about it from, you know, the healing instead of the wound, but yeah, sure.

I share that. Shitty mom, shitty moms will fuck you up. Um. Mm-hmm. But, uh, and she talks a lot about belonging. Mm. And the importance of belonging.

Nicole: But yeah. What does that word belonging mean to you?

Maxx: It's starting in some ways to not feel this way, but my first sort of instinct is, oh, it's that thing that other people have that I don't get to have.

Oh, Maxx. So, mm, yeah. Say more. Oof. Again, I'm not sure how much I can say about it without, and like, you know, I'm, I'm in therapy, um, the fourth, yeah. Like, to work on this, but it's just, you know, being constantly feeling like an outsider, even amongst the outsiders. Mm-hmm. Um, you know, and, and a big part of that was not really having permission to really find myself Yeah.

And find community that saw me for me instead of who they thought I should be. Mm-hmm. And you know, I've spent a lot of my time trying to find, you know, the other weirdos and sometimes I've succeeded and, you know, sometimes that hasn't gone so well. Right, of course. So it's being seen, being loved, being appreciated for literally who you are.

Being valued and really cherished within some level of community. So that could be, you know, one person, yes, I can get some of that belonging from, you know, one-on-one. But it's really like being able to sit back in a, you know, whole gaggle of people who I'm one of many like, yeah. Yes. So yeah, that's, so I think that's, that's belonging to me.


Nicole: And that's also why I appreciate you coming on this space and sharing your story and talking about your experience, because I think we both know that you're not the only one who's, who's felt this, who's looking for that community and these experiences.

Maxx: Yeah. I do have to remind myself of that, that, yeah, even if I'm feeling alone in this moment, I'm not alone in that feeling, as heartbreaking as that is.


Nicole: So, But it can be so hard when you look around and you don't see the people who share the same identity, let alone are accepting of your identities. Right. That's a whole other level to this, is it's not just sharing, but also is it safe? Yeah. Yeah.

Maxx: I have felt put up with, um, a lot and tolerated instead of cherished.

So there's a lot of people who are not in my life anymore who I used to think were very important because I, upon reflection or they were really just tolerating me and it's not really fair to either of us. If they're just tolerating me, that's not a real relationship. Yeah. Um, you know, that gave me chills.

Nicole: Yeah. How did you like navigate that? How did you discover that and then enact the boundaries to create different connections and take space when you found that out?

Maxx: The middle minimalist podcast was really helpful while I was, um, in the middle of a. Breakup as other people have told me. It's really, it's a divorce.

You were together for how long? And I had to like move house and everything. Wow. Um, the minimalist podcast is really helpful. Mm-hmm. Because they talk a lot about, they, I mean, I was listening a while ago and they've kind of changed their format to be like a lot shorter and not as deep, you know, in each episode.

So their old catalog is really good. They talked a about like, you know, being selective about the kind of people you have in your life and about, and different experiences. You know, there's a lot of different like rules and stuff that people will follow, but like, you know, if it's not a hell yes, then it's a no.

Mm-hmm. And like realizing, oh, it's, I'm not somebody's hell yes. Then that's a no for me. Yeah, absolutely. I'm sick and tired of being tolerated. Yeah. This is a whole different level, like level and topic of conversation than I thought we would get. It.

Nicole: Does it feel good? Does it feel good? Are you okay with that?

Maxx: It feels very fascinating and interesting and like, okay. I'm like, oh yeah, this is what it feels like when someone who's, I'm normally the one in your shoes. Ah, I feel like asking the questions. Um, so it's a little bit, it's a little bit different, but good, but fine. It's just very Okay, good. Very different than where I thought we would end up for sure.

Nicole: Checking in with that consent and if, and if at any point it feels like too much, you can also let me know and we can push in a different direction too and Yeah. But yeah, I hear you on that, that power change. It's the same thing for me when I go into, you know, a different role. Uh, being the client in therapy or being the student in yoga for me is always so uncomfortable cuz I'm like, I'm so used to being on the other side now, like, what is this?

Mm-hmm. Um, so I hear you on that. And I think it's interesting in terms of my like theoretical lens. In terms of psychology is, you know, understanding how all of these relationships are affecting our concept of self. Right. You know? Oh yeah. When you're being tolerated and, and you look in the mirror and that's how someone's receiving you, it's impossible for that when you look into the mirror to not have that affect your sense of self.

Maxx: Oh, yeah. Oh yeah. On like an integr level. And I'm, I'm working on this all the time, you know, I really hate and love at the same time. The phrase like, as RuPaul sounds, I'm gonna misquote it. Thanks, remember. But, um, you know, if you don't love yourself, you can't love anybody else. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And like, I've had pushback from that, from some folks.

If you can't love yourself, how's anybody supposed to love you? How they're often used is very judgy. And so like, and very like, well, you gotta learn to love yourself. And it's like, well, how the fuck am I supposed to learn to love myself if I've never actually felt love? Yeah. Yeah. How am I supposed to figure that out?

Yeah. And like, how am I supposed to really know what feels like love to me if I've never felt that? Yeah. How am I supposed to like figure out how to treat myself that way? Right, right. You know? And so it's been helpful because also there were situations and there were relationships where people were doing things that would have felt like love if I had thought I could deserve it.

Mm-hmm. But I didn't think I deserved it, so I didn't let it in. I didn't feel it. Yeah. So then I couldn't appreciate the love that I was getting. Ooh. So it's complicated, right? Yeah.

Nicole: Yes. Or if you've been in an experience where, Maybe you've experienced some sort of trauma or neglect in early relationships, uh, whether that be in your family, romantic, any sort of relationships, right.

Sometimes you can have a standard or a sense of what love is that maybe is abuse, you know, and you just mm-hmm. You know, you just don't know because that's what was modeled for you. Yep. That's the scary thing too, right? Is that sometimes even that gut sense of like, yeah, this is love. Could actually be not

Maxx: Yeah.

Nicole: Not even close to what you deserve.

Maxx: Yeah. Yeah. Learning what boundaries are even like that, that's even a thing. Yeah. Learning that I can have them, learning that it's my responsibility to, you know, take care of myself in them. Mm-hmm. Um, learning that I have to trust other people to take care of theirselves.

Yeah. So that I'm not taking on extra stuff that I haven't. Actually consented to, there's so much work to it. There can be, you know, a challenge of feeling like the person that's doing the work in a sea of people who aren't. Mm. Um, put some resent there. Yeah. So

Nicole: yeah, yeah, yeah. In our larger culture at large.

Yeah, for sure. Yeah. And even that quote of self-love, I always wanna push back, you know, like this idea of the self is a very western concept that not all cultures have. And in my perspective, I think there is a self that experiences time, you know, whatever time is through some sort of, you know what I mean?

I dunno. Um, I gotta talk to a phy, a physicist one day, but like this sort of, you know, soul that experiences time and goes through all these events and other sorts of things, but our concept of self is so drastically shaped by all the relationships that we have. And when I say relationships, I don't mean just like, The direct, you know, people, even the larger society, when society doesn't accept you.

Mm-hmm. That's a relationship that's going to affect your sense of self. When you don't feel safe to go into Texas, that's going to affect your sense of self. Right. Because it's a sort of relationship where you are not accepted for all of who you are and that's gonna affect that ability to have self-love.


Maxx: Yeah. Feeling like that. The world. Yeah. Oh, you said that so Well, I don't even wanna try and paraphrase that. Like that's, yeah. I've been trying to sort of internalize that lesson recently and see like, How that has affected me. Hmm. Because it's, it's much easier to look at like the specific relationships.

Right. You know, and it's much harder to kind of see the systemic things. Mm-hmm. Um, but my brain kind of works, you know, in both directions at the same time, kind of globally. And then also very specifically, this is actually like a really good segue into the Smorgasbord.

Nicole: Tell me, let's go, let's do it.

Let's do it.

Maxx: There's a part of me that wants to like, tell the story about where my work with the Smorgasbord started. Please do. Please do. Story. Um, I found relationship anarchy before I knew that they were people actually practicing anarchy who were like anarchists. Like I, I didn't know That was like a thing that people were still doing.

And so I found relationship anarchy. You know, I was listening to more than two, which are you familiar with, you know, all the terrible things that Franklin Vogue got up to.

Nicole: I've heard some of it. Yes. Yes. Okay. Which makes me sad because I really enjoyed the book.

Maxx: So it's definitely like learning about it and reading what Eve and some of the other, um, folks have said.

It's definitely made me look at the book differently. Really. Someone, someone is borrowing my, my copy right now, so I don't even have it, um, to really actually look back on. However, the parts that really spoke to me are the parts that you've wrote. Mm-hmm. So that feels good. That was, I think one of the first times I really heard or read the term relationship anarchy.

Right. I was like, oh, that sounds interesting. And then I think either in, you know, one of the Facebook groups that I was a part of, someone shared the image of the smore sport and I was like, wow, this is really freaking great. And it's just a really great way of talking about. You know, the, the concept of being able to customize your relationships.

Yeah. And that, you know, not everything has to be cookie cutter and you can really make it work for you. Right? Mm-hmm. Which was really great, but that was the original version, which was like made, you know, it's like a grid. And I actually used that as a tool for discussion in a relationship. I sent it to this friend of mine that we were, you know, interested in exploring more than friendship, but also, you know, our friendship was very important.

Mm-hmm. And so, you know, we wanted to take steps in a way that we could both know that we could change that step back, alter, et cetera, at any point, you know, it was like, so we like very intentionally negotiated how we were gonna, you know, explore. Mm-hmm. And we use a SW board as a part of that. So like using the red light green system, the red, yellow, green light system to.

Color code, different sections of theora sport, like what's on the table, what's not on the table, what's maybe on the table. And that went really well. And it was like a really good tool that we like, filled that ahead of time, sent to each other and then like sat down and like had a chat. Yeah. You know, in like a neutral location and like could just figure it out.

And it was like really great. Right. And then I realized, I was like, wait, there is nothing on here about spirituality. Oh. And like, I am a Pagan, I have been, you know, practicing various aspects of that for a very long time. It's a, it's an important part of my life. Mm-hmm. Um, it's, you know, integral to my everyday life.

And if it's something that I can't really talk about with somebody because either my specific, you know, way of doing spirituality, I. You know, makes them uncomfortable or it's just not something they have any interest in. Mm-hmm. You know, then I note that mm-hmm. It's an important factor, you know? Mm-hmm.

Like in my own brain about how I interact with people. So I updated the smorgasbord. So version two, the first one I worked on, I was like, oh, I'm a graphic designer. I can make these little actually look like flowers. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Duh. Like, I'll make this look like a big old table. Yes. And then I'll add spirituality in that.

And so like, the version two was, was the relationship anarchy smorgasbord for the spiritually minded Ooh, yes. Whatever. And I think I, I didn't add a whole lot of things. Maybe I added just a couple things and then I just put it out. Oh. I got swamped with feedback almost instantaneously. I had so many comments, and like, I sh I put it out there on, on the, the couple of Facebook groups I was in at the time.

And they were, and they were really like happening places at the time. So like, yeah, there was a lot of feedback that I got and I like almost immediately made version three. So the second version, it very quickly showed me how one, like I can't do this alone. Two, it reinforced to me the values that I have and continued to have and had was really starting to live at the time of working together.

Mm-hmm. That was like really the height of feeling like I was able to start applying my values of like community and mutuality and like, I felt like, and I continued to feel like I am doing work for an enormous community of people. Like the, the version six of the smallest board is in poor languages right now.

I think there's a Dutch process, maybe a Hebrew one. Over the years, I've had people reach out and be like, Hey, can I translate this? I'm like, yes, sure. Here. And I think, and you reached out to me asking for, um, permission to use it for your dissertation. I was like, right, yeah,

Nicole: yeah. You know, you started to create this, you know, the version two and the other versions, and so many people reached out to give feedback to want to add to it, to want to translate to it.

I think sometimes, I don't know about you, but when you're living in this value system, it can feel like no one else is doing this. No one else is out in the world trying to live in this same way. And so I'm sure getting all of that feedback, having people across the world, reaching out to wanna translate it, that's so validating, you know, when you feel alone in this.

Maxx: Yeah. I think luckily around that time, like living in a collective, you kind of end up realizing most of the people that you live with. Are also non-monogamous. Yeah. Oh. To sort of, you know, those kind, those kind of folks kind of collect in collective living situations. Sure. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, and I had connected with a poly friendly game night group and like I commandeered some of those folks into a relationship anarchy discussion group and the follow up for the pandemic.

Yeah. And it was just, yeah, it was a really neat time of being able to feel really deeply into community. And the smore board has allowed me to continue to feel like, you know, a part of community even when I've like, you know, been feeling very isolated. Yeah. It's been really great. And you know, I've appreciated a lot of people's patience.

I'm like, Hey, I'm working on a new version a year and a half later. Finished it guys.

Nicole: Yes. Yes. Taking your own time with it. Absolutely. Yeah. I'm curious if you'd be willing, I'm sure there's a lot of people who are gonna be tuning into this conversation that have never heard the relationships Morga board.

If you were to provide a, you know, overview, a description of what that is, how would you describe it?

Maxx: So imagine if you will, we're doing a visual metaphor here. Yeah. So imagine if you will, all the aspects of any way of being in a relationship are laid out as food on platters on a table, and you and another person.

Because you know, every relationship in your life can be customized. You YouTube can go to that table and you can go, oh, you know, I would really like this. I'm trying to like really lean into the metaphor here. Um, I'd really like this fluid bonding Kesh over here. How, what do you feel about that? And other person would be like, you know what, actually, that's not really what I'm into, but I am into this other thing.

And so the smorgasboard can be a tool for self-reflection, you know, upon, like, you can just do it by yourself and say, Hey, what are the things that I want in any relationship? What are the things I need in any romantic relationship, sexual relationship, friendship? What are the things that I want? What are the things that I am 0% interested in?

What are the things I'm open to, but not really pursuing in any way. You can use these as a tool for self-reflection and use them as a tool for discussion with another person. It's a way of making a little bit more tangible. One of the, you know, aspects of relationship anarchy, which is relationship customization.

I think it's one of the more fun aspects of relationship anarchy. And it's also the one that like is, I think in many ways one of the easier ones to talk about with folks who are not already familiar with anarchy as like a political mindset. And Sure. You know, Praxis relationship anarchy is in many ways still very different from polyamory, though.

It's one of the parts that's been appropriate, means something different nowadays, I think for a lot of people, rightfully so. But I think it's the part that's most easily taken on by other people. Mm-hmm. And that I think a lot more people practice relationship customization than realize they are, and. I think it's, you know, if you're gonna try to convert people to relationship anarchy, which I don't necessarily think is a great idea to try to convert people, but if just existing as you are interest people, I think the customization part is like, you know, the, the shiny little glittering treat that's like, oh, oh, you mean my relationships don't have to look like this?

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. No, actually you can do whatever the fuck you want.

Nicole: Exactly. That was my question I wanted to ask of, you know, these are almost leading questions cuz I'm totally with you, but I wanna ask like, well Maxx, why would I wanna customize my relationship? It's so clear, you know, friend, lover, it's easy,

Maxx: but what if you're horny for your friend is a great question.

You know, like, or what if your more, most unstable relationships, so your friendships. Yeah. And the kind of people that you end up, you know, wanting to bone or not people you wanna raise children with, but raising children is a thing you wanna do. Right. Right. Like, so you end up changing what is the societal script for what a friend is.

Mm-hmm. We include things like child bearing, which is normally done with someone under the, like sexual partner category. And so, yeah, I think there's a lot to be said for taking these societal scripts for what different kinds of relationships can and should be, and dissecting them and deconstructing them and ta and, you know, laying down all of the Lego pieces all over the, you know, basement floor and, you know, deciding how you wanna put them back together instead of the way that, you know, the Lego book tells you how to put things together.

Right. No offense to those who love to follow, you know, the directions on the Lego booklet.

Nicole: And I think it's important to recognize when the Lego booklet, the people in that seem, not everybody, but some people seem to really dislike mm-hmm. The finished product of the Lego booklet. And then say, why? Why is this not satisfying?

Why am I upset with the spinal product? And I say, well, maybe there's another way to exist that hasn't been talked about, that you didn't get the informed consent of, which was, Hey, there are multiple ways to do this. Here's another one. You're gonna make the informed consent. Now that you know all of these, like, I think there's a part of this is that like we just haven't been offered any other way of existing to be quote normal, whatever that means.

Yeah. You know what I mean? So then I don't know if people have been given informed consent in terms of like how to exist in this world in terms of relationships when there's only been one model. You know, when the Lego instruction manual says this, and this is the way you do it. I just wanna create a world where people know there's other ways to do it, and you get to choose how that feels good for you.

You get to construct your own playground in that and it's gonna be beautiful.

Maxx: Yeah. It's not easy. No. Like, I mean, but I think the thing that is one of the hardest for other people who try to do this mm-hmm. Try to customize their relationships or are trying to, you know, be in a relationship with someone who, you know, who's a relationship anarchist.

You know, I think the hardest part is those aspects of being in a relationship that people are used to ascribing to hierarchy. Mm-hmm. Right? Like and expecting as a form of, you know what I understand to be hierarchy, but they see a security. Mm. Right. So for example, I was dating somebody. And she had said some not great things.

I was decompressing from it. I told her I needed some time. Mm-hmm. You know, and she was about to like go on a trip into a different country and be kind of out of contact for a little over a week. She wanted to talk to me and I was like, I'm still decompressing. Mm-hmm. From that. But also like, I had a friend who was suicidal.

Mm. And I was like supporting that brunch. Yeah. And so, no, sorry, I'm not gonna talk to you on the phone right now. One, I'm not in a good place for it. Two, I have a different priority right now. Right. You know, when I told her that, she was like, what could be more important than talking to me? And I'm like, the listeners can't hear this, but you and I are making shocked faces at each other with eyes really big and like, Dude, like I didn't even bother to tell her.

Mm. Because the fact that she, it was unfathomable. Mm. That anything else could be more important in my life. Right. It's like, that was like Don, that was like, times up, this is not working because such a different value system mm-hmm. That like this romantic relationship is not more important than the other relationships in my life.

Nicole: Right, right, right. And we can maybe hear where she's coming from, of wanting to be loved, wanting to have that security, wanting to know that she's important in your world and, and, and, and there are other humans in your life. Right? Mm-hmm. I just, mm-hmm. I just don't understand, I mean, I guess this is because we're in the same value system right.

Of relationship anarchy. Right. But it's like, How do you not see that this is another human soul? I understand we might be not engaging in the same aspects of the Schor, smorgasboard or other forms of intimacy, but this is another human soul that I have a relationship with. Of course, that's important when they're in need.

Of course. That is more important.

Maxx: Yeah. Yeah. And I like, I didn't even know how to like, like, yes, there are things that are more important than you right now. Yeah. Sorry. Like, sorry, not sorry. It's true. Like I'm allowed to value things. Yeah. Like, yes, I'm, I'm allowed to find other people more important in a given moment.

One of the things that's been, you know, kind of hard for me to like, accept about myself is that like when I'm present with somebody, I'm very present with them and. Sometimes that expresses itself by me not being able to split my focus mm-hmm. And think about, you know, other things or other people when I'm being present with somebody.

Right. And, you know, my nesting partner was just talking about this with me the other day, that like, they knew this about me, understood this about me when we started hanging out together. And like, yeah. Becau like, yes, it feels really good when that a hundred percent of focus is on you. And I was like, but then also it can feel kind of not as great when that focuses on somebody else, but that's not a bad thing.

Mm. Right. Like, that's not off sale. You're on my part. It's not a lack of character on my part. Mm-hmm. And so I've been like, you know, there's, there's responsibility that I have to still have. I can't like, you know, blank slate myself as soon as I'm hanging out with somebody. Right. You know, I've also been taught that like, that is irresponsible.

That's I, that's, you know, inconsiderate. I don't know how I'm like not be present with the people I'm being present with,

Nicole: and that's a gift, right? To be present with the person that you're with. That's one of the best things that we can give another human, you know, is to be intentional about the time that we're spending with them and to sit with them and be really there rather than a million other places.

Yeah. I think also what a lot, a lot of what I'm hearing too for the, the people who practice monogamy or any other sort of relating is that this comes into all sorts of relationships. It might be with your family, other sorts of people that at times might become more important and that's kind of accepted.

Or other sorts of relationships, like relationships to your craft relationships, to your career relationships, to your ho. There's so many different types of relationships we have, and we're always fluctuating with what is, you know, the focus, what is the priority? And that kind of comes into your value system of how do you wanna create your life, and what do you wanna have your focus on, and how do you wanna distribute that energy?

And we all get to choose, you know, how we wanna go about this journey of creating a life in this existential void. You know,

Maxx: I love that you said a relationship to like your craft. I was like, oh man. Yeah. Geez. I, I had never thought of it that way. Mm-hmm. But that is so true.

Nicole: And the reality is, like for me, you know, my craft is this podcast and other sorts of things.

Mm-hmm. Like. Doing this podcast takes away from my limited resources of time and energy. Mm-hmm. Okay. Yeah. It is going to, and that's just reality. And we are all working within that reality of like, where do you wanna invest your time and energy. Mm-hmm.

Maxx: Yeah. Yeah. I mean I, uh, I started recording a podcast in, in the spring of 2019.

Mm-hmm. And never released it because I kept having to like rethink how I was gonna do it. And then the pandemic happened and I just have not had mental time or energy or space for it because, you know, so many things, um, you know, starting a business that is doing well, which is nice. Hell yeah. Kinda,

Nicole: um, kinda like we were saying earlier, like that's gonna take up your time and space.

Yes. And it will affect the other relationships that you have with humans. You know, this is a relationship to. A meaningful project and it will change your availability for human relationships, you know, for good, bad. Otherwise we don't even have to make that judgment. It just does, cuz time and energy is limited.


Maxx: And it, it also has affected like the relationship that to Toby and I have because Mm. Yeah. Like, you know, so much of our time and energy that we spend together is towards the business. Right. Right. I, I have no idea when I'm ever gonna release my podcast. Like, it just keeps pushing that farther down line.

Yeah. It's allowed us to do so many more and new and different things.

Nicole: Absolutely. A new thing to connect over, a new thing to talk about, a new thing to dream about, you know? Yeah. There is more to do in relationships than to just have children together is a mean of means of meaning making and importance in this world.

You know what I mean? I think that's so much of the narrative is that that's the one way that you can be in relationship with, you know, a partner and make meaning, and there's so many different ways to do that.

Maxx: I've been trying to really like dismantle my own prejudices against like being in relationship anarchist and then like seeing people I know, getting married as somebody, as somebody who is an efficient, like, and I love the ritual of it, and I l like, I love the, the significance of it and the way of like customizing the ceremony.

I'm a pagan, I love ritual and ceremony. It's great. And yet I also know that for a lot of people, that act means so many more things than they are consciously aware of. And so I'm, you know, I've been trying to really kind of dismantle my own prejudices so that I can at least look at it, you know, as clear-eyed as I can.


Nicole: And that's a tough place to be in. I think I also feel a lot of that, um, kinda as you start to study these ideas and kind of realize there's a life off the escalator, there's a life of, you know, constructing relationships of your own desires and all that sort of stuff. It's, it's hard to see when other people aren't thinking critically about what they're doing.

Like, yeah, marriage is great, marriage is beautiful, the ceremony is beautiful. That idea of building a life together is lovely. All for that. Have you talked about what that looks like? Have you talked about what your fidelity looks like in emotional, sexual, energetic, yada, yada, yada? Like there's just, yeah.

A lot of things that I think people don't really talk about. And I think that's why one of the beautiful things, you know, we were talking about the relationships smorgasboard earlier. Yeah. You know, like sitting down and spending the time to explore what your relationship looks like. And I think even in my own research about relationship anarchy, holding space for the people that do monogamy through a relationship anarchy lens.

And that's great. Do it. Get married, do all this stuff, and spend time talking about what you want your relationship to look like. So some of that bias is, I think, almost out of this place maybe of care that like. Wow. Like, there's just so much I, I wish you all were thinking about because it might make your relationship better.

Like embrace the marriage, embrace the monogamy, the fidelity, but like, talk about it and I think, yeah, maybe, I don't know if you're like, that's kind of where I'm coming from of like, wow, like if 50% of these are gonna end up in divorce, like how can we start talking so that's not, you know, what happens.

Maxx: Yeah, yeah.

Nicole: And like those are bad odds. Those are bad odds.

Maxx: Okay. They're really bad odds. Oh yeah. I, you know, my parents got divorced, like, and I, that fucking sucked for everybody. Mm-hmm. But them being together was worse. So, you know, like that the divorce isn't the problem. It's the unhealthy relationships that are not good for anybody that lasts too fucking long.

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. You know, and that people feel like they're stuck on those escalators. Yep. And that there's only one way to do things. Yep.

Nicole: I mean, at some point when you're looking at someone and they're about to embark on something that is a 50% chance and like, In that 50% chance is a lot of emotional turmoil and pain.

Like at what point is it like, hey, like you're at a cliff, like let's just talk about the cliff in front of ya. You know, like that's care at some point. And like how do you do that in a way that's not patriarchal of, you know, directing in a power over model of what someone should do or trying to educate or like you said earlier, convert like, I don't know Maxx how to do that, what I'm doing is making a podcast.

where we talk about these ideas. You can come everyone and take 'em or leave 'em, but I'm just throwing them out there into the universe, you know, like leaving them, asking questions, creating conversation, you know, and just starting to have talks about this. I, I think will change the world.

Maxx: I mean, that's what people keep telling me.

Like, yes, there are people who have said, who've commented on my post about Thisor board and been like, I don't get this. I hate this. I think this is terrible. Mm. Fine. It's not for you. Yeah. Great. You don't need this. I'm so proud of you. You've already done this work. You don't need this. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

You're, you're already miles ahead on your relationship anarchy path. You don't need this great. Wonderful. Mm-hmm. You're already get, you're, you're digging in deeper into mutual aid and the, the other aspects of relationship with anarchy that we haven't even really talked about, like the manifesto is fucking great.

Everybody should read it. Um, just for a different perspective on being period. Like on being Yeah. Um, for those people for whom it's a harder thing to wrap their heads around the smorgasboard. Can be one of many tools. Mm-hmm. You know, like to help people to recognize, give them permission. Yeah. You know, some people really struggle with feeling like they have permission to, to step outside of the box.

Yeah. And I've had a lot of people thank me for that and like Absolutely. And I'm like, okay. I feel like I am doing the thing like that. I am somehow making the world just a tiny bit better. You know? I don't know how many trans phs, like the relationship anarchy SMOs board, I hope they become less transphobic over time.

You know? I don't, yeah. I don't like, and I don't know how many people even know that it's a, that a version that they've been using is a made by a trans person through it. You know? Who the fuck knows? There's a whole bunch of things coming together and I'm like building this, but it's not solely by me. Of course.

Nicole: Who knows? Yeah. Cuz you're in community and that's the whole. Relationship anarchy piece, you know, is community interdependence and all of that. And yeah, you're doing amazing work by sharing this tool with the community and being a part of that and yeah. The way that you're living your life, you know, the personal is political in that.

I mean, you're, you're doing that work every day by living in the joy that is being you. Yeah.

Maxx: Hmm. Thank you. Yeah. Yeah. You know? Yeah. How did you find the smore sport?

Nicole: I think my journey was like more than two polyamory exciting. And then I was like, relationship anarchy. And then I read that small little paragraph on relationship anarchy, and I was like, I like this.

This is resonating with my soul. Where can I find out more about this? Which then was like multi amory Google. And then I was like, okay, dissertation, boom. And then, so that's how this all came. You know, and I think one of the beautiful pieces that I think about this is, at least in my own personal lived experience, you know, I'm, I'm such a romantic, my God, I was raised as a Disney princess lover notebook, the Titanic, like Taylor Swift, my God.

Okay. And so the idea of the one, the one, the one that fits all of these magical boxes and is gonna meet me in some sort of way, man, has there been such freedom in letting that go And understanding that there are a multitude of relationships that can meet me in such beautiful ways. And there's so much space to create those relationships and that freedom then to not be searching for the one, but to see the beauty in all of the people I have around me.

Man that has been expansive, and that will change your sense of love. Like I feel more surrounded by love because I'm not looking for the one to fit me when I can see all the different ways that I can be in relationship with other people. I mean, that's profound. And this, I think is why I'm so passionate about relationship anarchy, whether you do it in a monogamous sense or in any sort of other sexual fidelity practice.

You know what I mean? Like it will change how you see your sense of love and connection to other people. Now I'm getting on my soapbox.

Maxx: I love it. That's a great soapbox in my experience. It's true though. Yeah. You know, I was in a relationship for 12 years, was somebody that I saw in love with when I was 16.

Mm wow. There was a lot of things that was just like serendipity and like, like just things that just seemed like they were meant to happen and like yada yada. Yeah. And it was like, I. Fucking great, but there were so many aspects of who I was as a person that I could not be mm-hmm. In that relationship.

Mm-hmm. That was like a relationship in which I was tolerated, but that I thought that was the best that I could help for. Yeah. You know, because I was in love with this person and because of how things, you know, how we got together, how we met, like, it just felt like so much of that, you know, romantic Disney princess stuff, you know, it felt very much like one of those, you know, stories like in the moment like, wow, this does not, this, there's no way this is really happening.

Like, you know, like it felt like this, and like this feels like the plot of our movie. It doesn't even feel like it's allowed to be real, you know? It felt really good at the time and like even looking back on it, there's still like some really precious and magical things about it. Alongside the fact that like, for who I am, that's not a relationship where I could really grow.

Mm-hmm. Into myself. Yeah. Yeah. Like, I couldn't actually be who I am now and like, and yet having been in that relationship, like there's so many aspects of that relationship that saved my life. Mm-hmm. Yeah. You know, and like that, like, I would not have made it to like, to where I am without that relationship.

Right. And without that person in my life. Yeah. So there's a, there's a lot of, you know, appreciation while also realizing that when I got broken up with, I had to, to be able to, you know, survive that breakup. Mm-hmm. I had to be a person that could accept how wonderful and magical that was at the beginning, while also accepting that it wasn't working.

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. It wasn't working for me, wasn't working for that other person. Yeah. You know, and that like I needed to. Be able to build a life that was more in line with my values mm-hmm. That I wasn't able to really live before. Yeah. Because of that relationship. Mm. Right. Mm. So having had the opportunity to rebuild my sense of identity on a few occasions in my life, it's never fun, but I'm not mad about it afterwards.

Nicole: Oh, no, growth is so uncomfortable. I'm gonna be normalizing that for the rest of my life. That growth does not feel easy. It feels uncomfortable and,

Maxx: and agonizing. Oh yeah.

Nicole: Yes,

Maxx: yes, yes. Because I, I talk about this with my students all the time. So I teach remotely and I generally teach kids one-on-one. Yeah.

One of the things that I do to help them with their self-advocacy. As a teacher and to help me be a better teacher, as I explained to them that learning does not happen when things are easy. Yep. It also does not happen when things are painful. Mm. Learning happens when things are uncomfortable to some extent.

Yeah. And the amount of uncomfortableness that we can tolerate at a given time is dependent on our entire situation. Absolutely. Sometimes you have a kid who can handle really complex things and like it's because they slept really good. Their breakfast was their favorite breakfast. They had a really nice lunch.

Their friends all like them. Their fam, their family life is going really good. Right. And so they can tackle really hard stuff right. Next day. They can't do it. Why? They have freaking migraine or like, they didn't sleep well because they got a new puppy and though they love their new puppy, it kept them up all night because they're, they're like, Ambient level of discomfort is too high.

They can't actually take on as much new stuff or be as challenged in the same way. Like, you know, it only takes a little bit of challenge for them to feel, you know, that higher level of discomfort. Um, and going into like pain and frustration if you haven't grown for a while and you've had a backlog of things that you've been trying to like, that have wanted to change.

Mm-hmm. Like, I definitely felt that way before that breakup. Like there were things that were building up that needed to change, you know, that I needed to amalgamate, that I needed to understand when that breakup happened, that was like the floodgates fucking opened. Mm-hmm. If I was in fucking agony mm-hmm.

For like months. Do I wish that I had started that work earlier so that it would maybe have been a little bit easier in the process? Yes, I do. Um, but there, there's no way I could have made it joyful and fluffy bunnies, morality.

Nicole: Right. And I. I wanna throw in some anarchy of psychology if you're willing to Ooh, yeah.

Like that same message of, you know, like the kid who comes in and, and can't do well on their test because they didn't, you know, have breakfast that morning cuz their family couldn't afford to do that or have that space. Like, it's the same thing with psychology, right? Like you have depression, you have oppositional defiant disorder.

Okay, let's look at the environmental context of this person and how they were raised. What sort of resources were provided to them and like so much, this comes back to that concept earlier we were talking about of like, is there a self, you know what I mean? Like so much of who we are is quite literally created by the relationships we have to other people, the relationships we have to society, resources, other sorts of things.

So starting to even deconstruct that model of psychology, that puts the blame on that kid who's not doing well on the math test because their family couldn't afford food that morning. That's not the kid's fault.

Maxx: No. Yeah. Thank fuck. People are starting to actually like apply what you know.

Nicole: Yeah.

Liberation psychology. I've got some interesting like recordings coming up. Uh, yeah. With people who are doing the same thing. I deconstruct it. I mean, there's also this reality that like once you know, we're all. Aware of the autonomy that we do have to change our systems in that, you know of. It's not like we just can completely be like, well it's the system's fault so I don't have to do any work here.

You know, like it's a yes and statement where like we can also do work where we're at, but also it's not, you know, that person's fault to a degree. It's none of our faults when we grow up in this sort of environment. So it's very, yes, Anne. And so I appreciate what you were saying about like, in your own story, the context of where you were at at that moment, like was not the time that you could have processed this leaving, you know, and keeping that in mind too.

And we're thinking about the people that are engaging, you know, in marriage, that bias, all that sort of stuff that we're talking about. Like some of these things like people don't have, you know, maybe even the privilege of enough space to reflect critically on their relationships and other sorts of things because of the capitalistic environment that we're in, where we're working constantly, where we don't have time to sit down and be like, Maybe I wanna construct a different world.

Like so much of this is also just like the society and the system. Um mm-hmm. And so it's just really fascinating to also like keep that in the for month forefront of how we understand ourselves, how we understand ourself in relationships and the bigger society.

Maxx: Yeah. Yeah,

Nicole: yeah. Yeah. Oh, it's been a mind fuck for me.

Oh yeah.

Maxx: Yeah. Oh damn. So how long have you known about relationship anarchy? Like three years now. Okay. So fresh. So it's fresh. Yeah. And I love that you're like three years you're making a podcast, you're doing your dissertation on it, and you still call yourself a baby. Like, beautiful. Thank you. Yeah. Like there's, you know, I was diving into and talking about non-monogamy 10 years ago.

Yeah. And trying to figure this stuff out. Like not actually acting on any of it, but really like, Thinking about it because I, like, I was in a relationship, like, and we wanted to try to like be responsible about it. Mm-hmm. And I, you know, when I learned about relationship anarchy and I showed the manifesto to my former partner, he, and he and I looked at each other and were like, this is how, like we had wanted to build our relationship.

Like we had gotten together a long ass fucking time ago, like literally the year before the manifesto was written. Mm. And we were trying to do our best like rural weirdo kids in an upstate New York town, like trying to like, figure shit out, you know, and like do what we could to like live what we thought were our values without even knowing the word values.

Like Yeah. You know, how to put our values into, into words, but we're still trying to put it into practice. Like, you know, I read that manifesto, I was like, holy shit. You know? And it blew my mind. Yeah. Because I was like, other people have been trying to put words to this, right? Yeah. Not having a community around it and then finding community.

Hmm. Finding people like, who wanted to talk about this, who wanted to dig in deeper. Who, who wanted to like keep questioning. Yeah. And realizing, you know, the relationship I was in was, there was no space for that. Mm mm. You know, and realizing that like, I needed to be able to do that, but like, wanting so hard, you know, wanting so hard to stay, but also like, I had so outgrown that

Nicole: Oh, I have been there very recently.

Very recently. And I think one of the big things for me that I, that I gleaned from having a conversation with another amazing human, thank God for community that gives us d different perspectives and help us mm-hmm. Helps us grow and expand. Was thinking about how, yeah. All of this sort of relating, being introspective about it and how we're showing up in the world is a value system.

Not everyone has that value system. And in this existential void, I am not here to say that I am any better than anyone who doesn't enact this value system. We all get to choose how we wanna show up in the world, but when it comes to close relationships in our lives, like it is important to have people who have a similar value system and can meet you in that.

And I never really thought about this sort of orientation of relationship anarchy and being reflective about anarchy in general in terms of its applications across, you know, all the domains of connection and existence. That's a value system. Mm-hmm.

Maxx: That I need someone to meet me in with a lot of the media, you know, that's produced about relationships, it's like mm-hmm.

Shared interests. Mm-hmm. Right. Yeah. But, okay, great. I, my former partner and I, we had a lot of shared interests. Mm-hmm. But at some point in time, our values diverged, and that's when we were no longer compatible. Yeah. Right. As I've spent, you know, more time thinking about relationships in the broader sense of the word.

And I love the fact that you use the word relationships, not just to refer to romantic relationships. Thank you. Yeah. Um, but like all of the relationships that matter to me are with people for whom we share values. Mm-hmm. And like the relationships that I have that I, you know, continue to maintain, but that are, you know, are losing significance to me, it's because I don't feel like our values align enough.

Yeah. Right. You know? Right, exactly. And sometimes that, you know, one of those values is, um, feel like the people around me actually like care about my wellbeing. Mm-hmm. Not just say they do, but actually are applying, are, are doing things, are living their values. Right. To show that they care about my wellbeing.

Yeah. Um, and, and the wellbeing of other marginalized people. Right. Like Right. Not just doing what is easy and comfortable. Right.

Nicole: Right. I know I wanna ask too, because as someone who's been in that space, especially recently, and the fear that comes with leaving those relationships where we are tolerated, uh, yeah.

And I think that, you know, someone listening to this, there might be someone that's in that same sort of space where they're like, I love this person, but I feel like I'm being tolerated with certain aspects of my identity and my value system. Is there anything that you would wanna say to them or to your younger self in that situation?

You know, if you could look back and speak to yourself.

Maxx: It's not worth staying. Mm-hmm. The sunk cost fallacy as a fallacy for a reason. It's not worth staying in a place where you're only tolerated and it like, and, and that, that's like, yes. You know, that person could change and could grow to accept and respect and appreciate you.

Mm-hmm. Um, this is a thing that I got from the minimalist podcast. They have this scale, the scale of Torah. Um, it's an acronym. Mm-hmm. Um, and like at the bottom level of their scale of respect is tolerance, right. Ah, just tolerating. And then one step up is acceptance, right? Where you're like, okay, you're not, you're not tolerating warrant.

You've accepted this, this thing or this person, or this aspect of this person. And then there's respect is higher up than that. And then appreciating is like the top of that scale. Like, and like, One of the examples that they would give is like, if there's this thing that your partner does or that your friend does, or that your, you know, mom does that it doesn't benefit you directly.

Maybe it even annoys you, but like, if you can appreciate how that makes this person a better person or like makes them who they are and who they are as someone that you love. Mm-hmm. Like, you can, you know, you can kind of see like how this makes them who they are and that you love that so then you can actually appreciate this thing about them.

Right? Mm-hmm. But if a person is, you know, just fucking tolerating you and it's not changing and maybe try talking about it. Cuz sometimes people don't realize that what they think of the, what they think of as ex expressions of love. Yeah. You know, don't feel that way to you. Could be their just, you know, it's y yada love language thing, right?

Sure. You know, sometimes it's that. Um, but sometimes it's, you know, they don't, they don't really appreciate who you are and talk about it, but if there is a fundamental difference there, it's not worth trying to change them. Like they have to want to see that differently. And if they don't, then you're just hurting both of you in the process.

Yeah. Like, it's just, it's a waste of time, energy, effort, attention to stay in a situation where you are not appreciated. Mm-hmm. You know, you're gonna get resentful. Mm-hmm. I got there. Mm-hmm. Like,

Nicole: yeah. And it's so hard because we all need relationships. We all need connection. And in those moments to, to step out of that connection can be so scary.

Especially if they're meeting your need in a lot of other ways, you know, and it's maybe just this, One piece, you know, that can be really hard to sit with and, and to step out of that connection to find, you know, another one where maybe you, where you are accepted for all that you are. That can, you know, is it worth it?

Is it worth it to leave this when I have it right here? And I think the reality is that that relationship will affect you, affect your sense of self. Oh, God does that relationship well. If I know anything from psychology, it's that you can put boundaries. But when you're really in those close relationships and looking for connection and aspects of yourself are not accepted or tolerated, that will affect your sense of self, okay?

And that doesn't make you weak. That is part of what it means to be a social person, a social creature in relationship with other people. And we need good relationships to leave the bad. So I wanna invite all of those people, you know, myself included. Like, those are the moments when you start leaning out on the other relationships because it's not like you can just take this one out and be like, I'm gonna be fine independently.

It's like, no, only connection. So stepping out into connection with other people where you can be accepted for your full self and then eventually stepping out of those ones that maybe are not meeting you there, you

Maxx: know? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, in, in many ways my position has changed, you know, in very good ways.

Yeah. Since I, you know, made that decision and I, you know, I only wish it had happened sooner. Right. You know, because I don't like being resented.

Nicole: No, you don't deserve that. No.

Maxx: No. Deserves that. No. And a lot of the work that I've been doing, you know, since that breakup has been discovering all the ways that that relationship both helped and also eroded my sense of self-worth.


Nicole: Yep. And that's, Not, that doesn't make you weak. That's normal. That's gonna happen to any human who's in that sort of relationship, you know? Exactly.

Maxx: Yeah. And so holding that, yeah. While also holding like, doesn't make, you know how that person, a bad person? No. And good rid, you know, like, but not like in a, in a resentful way, but just like, you know what it different journeys fine.

Different journeys. Yeah. Yeah. And, and being glad that it's over, you know, glad that that's not a part of my life anymore. Glad that the people that I do spend my time with, I really actually feel cherished by, um, you know, as you were saying, like, like leaning out on those other relationships that you have to get those other needs met.

Yeah, I totally did that. I had like, you know, three people. That I immediately texted as I was sobbing on my kitchen floor. Mm-hmm. Like to start getting those needs met. Right. Awesome. And those needs for the connection and like mm-hmm. You know, was immediately lining up like friends I was visiting just to go cuddle.

Mm-hmm. And like, you know, learning how to exist out of that relationship. Right. So that has made me a lot more, I wish I had been more compassionate already, but it has made me more compassionate and understanding for folks who are, who have a harder time establishing new connections with people. Right.

To be and, and have a harder time establishing strong enough connections to be able to support them. Mm-hmm. About believing of those relationships where they're just tolerated.

Nicole: Someone who, you know, maybe raised kids and then now hasn't worked 20 years and they're trying to leave a marriage where, you know, like, how am I gonna sustain myself outside of this?

I mean, there's a lot of. Different factors. I think that will keep people in certain relationships. And so having compassion for others, having compassions for ourself as we navigate, you know, all these different variables that come into play when we're navigating this, it's, it's not an easy journey, but I think, you know, your experience through it is why you're able to share your story today like this and able to, you know, talk about the difficulties of it and you know, all the wisdom that you gained through that experiences.

You know, that's a lot of what you've shared today and I really appreciate you coming on the podcast to share your wisdom here and with all of the listeners.

Maxx: Thanks. Yeah, I am, I don't know that I can even quantify what I've gotten out of this conversation, but I really appreciate the camaraderie that I'm feeling and yeah, like, you know, as we were talking about community as a value that both of us really have.

I made the Samora board because I believe really strongly in community. Like I started working on that because, you know, I didn't invent it. I always wanna make that clear. I did not invent it. Sure. You know, I just started working on it and, and kind of became the mouthpiece of a, of a community that wanted to see it improved.

And, and I, and I do that work because I believe very strongly in that we help each other. Yeah. I'm glad that you found it. I'm glad that it's helping you. I'm glad that, you know, I, I hope good things happen, you know, for other people. I hope it helps other people really like figure themselves out, figure their relationships out, figure out what is working and what's not working and, and you know, then, you know, if they can make lives that work better for them, then maybe they can use that, you know, freed up energy, you know, they were spending on relationships that weren't working.

Oh man. Maybe it's, you know, maybe they can use some of that freed up energy to. Continue to make the world a little bit better, please. Oh, yeah.

Nicole: Someone who just stepped out of one.. Man. That freedom energy is a very valid, valid statement. I've been feeling it in the best way possible. But yeah. Thank you.

Yeah. For the work that you're doing and how you're supporting the community, it's, it's very valuable. As we come to the end of our time here, I like to hold a little bit of space. I have a closing question that I ask all of my guests, but if there's anything still lingering that you wanna say too, I like to hold a little bit of space.

Maxx: Um, no, I think I'm good. I've, I'm, I've made good progress on my basket. I'm glad. I'm glad. Hell

Nicole: yeah. Hell yeah. Beautiful. It looks great. Yeah. Thanks. Well, then I'll ask the closing question that I ask everyone, which is, what is one thing that you wish other people knew was more normal? Ooh.

Maxx: Mm-hmm. Fuck. I love it. I love it. I, you know, when I, I was listening to one of the, the other episodes and I was like, God damn, that's a good question. I should try to remember this so I can think about that and have this prepped, bler prepped, Nope, I forgot about it. I'm like, I knew that.

Nicole: Listen to your gut.

Something's gotta be right there. And it's, it's probably the right thing.

Maxx: Something that I wish was more normal. I wish more people knew that who they are is beautiful and that they get to decide who they are and that they can continue to make who they are. A beautiful art project. I'm gonna continue on this tangent because it's, it's one thing, but it's everything like, Art.

Art is everything. We are our own art project, and we don't have to be separate from the other creative things that we make. Spirals aren't fucking everything I make because everything is a spiral in every, and like I'm sewing things together, you know, and I make chain mail like the the, and like I, as I'm making this, I'm like, oh, this is like when I've made chain.

Well this is like when I've done pottery. This is like when I've done this, like as I'm getting older, so much more of what I'm doing creatively is intertwining and interconnecting, not just in like the things that I'm creating physically, but is also reflecting the work that I have done to love and appreciate myself.

Which still feels like a hard thing to say, like I paused because it still sometimes feels like a hard thing to say because of that process has continued to be work. Um, but I want. For my past self. And I want for other people to know that who they are is beautiful and that they get to shape who that beautiful person is.

Nicole: Yes. If that could be the message that we share with the world, I think the world would be a better place. Yeah. One conversation at a time, right? Yeah. One conversation, one relationship at a time. And, and we'll get there. We'll get there. Or, and or it will get there in the lives after us. Right by, yeah.

Stepping on, you know, some of the work that we're doing here now, I think the world is gonna go towards that direction.

Maxx: You know, I get, I'm getting chills right now. Um, I really, I want that to be true. Yeah. More space. Yeah. Sometimes more space. More space. Sometimes hope is hard. But that's, that's what I want.

Yeah. Yeah.

Nicole: I really appreciate you coming on the podcast and being so vulnerable about your own relationships and the work that you're doing for the community. So thank you. Yeah. Is there anywhere you'd wanna plug to people to find your work, your new business?

Maxx: So, um, I'm on Instagram at Maxx Hill Creates, um, Maxx has two Xs and the, the website for my calendar business is gardening buy

Mm-hmm. And yeah, we sell calendars and cards and seed saving supplies, el you know, giving people the tools that they need to make their lives better.

Nicole: Mm-hmm. Your relationship to the earth. Yeah. Yeah. There it is. Yeah. Oh, well, thank you so much for coming on the podcast and being part of this, uh, social movement.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Maxx: Thank you. Thank you for also doing this. It's, It's good. It's important, it's brave. It's a lot of work. As someone who has learned how to edit podcasts and has not released them, it's a lot of work to do and to do yourself and to do well. And, um, I really appreciate your conversational style and your way of holding space for people.

Nicole: Thank you, Maxx. I really appreciate that. Letting that one sit in.

Maxx: Yeah. Yeah. Take that one in. Take a few deep breaths with that one.

Nicole: It's a long journey. I plan to do it till my eighties, man. I'm gonna change throughout this whole process, you know what I mean? Like,

Maxx: yeah.

Nicole: Yeah. If you enjoy today's episode, then leave us a five star review wherever you listen to your podcast, and head on over to modern anarchy to get resources and learn more about all the things we talked about on today's episode.

I wanna thank you for tuning in and I will see you all next week.

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