Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2017-03-28

General Life Update

Beloved readers, here’s what’s been going on in my life lately. Anyone following me on Instagram probably knows about what doozies life has been hurling at me lately.

Me and Dara at the Cuties fundraising carnival on Sunday. Their fundraiser is going on for a few more days, you can still donate to this vital safe(r) space for queers in LA!

Your Girl is Getting Great Press

I’ve had a couple of fabulous interviews come out in the last week!

Fat Sex Week XXL is coming! It starts on Thursday and I’ve already gotten press about it. I love serendipitous press. I was nominated as a Sex Hero and I was already thinking about another Fat Sex Week because a lot of great content was floating my way and poof! Check out this fabulous chat between me and Noah Michelson Editorial Director of The Huffington Post Voices about fat sex, why Fat Sex Week matters and what you can expect! (Spoiler: Fat Sex Week is always fatter than a regular week.) What an honor to be called a Sex Hero!

Me, April Flores and Tristan Taormino, also big time sex heroes!

I’ve been telling everyone about Jeffrey Marsh’s incredible book How to Be You (seriously should be required reading in high school) and so admire their work helping people to love themselves. Jeffrey and I have such in sync life purposes.

I was totally thrilled to be interviewed for their new Facebook fan page. We had such a beautiful conversation about how I came to be a body liberation activist and how my turning points to love myself came about. Check it out here and be sure to like their page! (Like my fan page while you’re at it! I’m always popping in great articles and self empowerment.)

I Started Fat Kid Dance Party

A month ago I launched my new dance aerobics class Fat Kid Dance Party (For All Sizes to Heal from Body Oppression). When I heard about EVERYBODY the new body positive gender inclusive gym opening up just six minutes from my house I had to figure out how to get involved. I started taking dance aerobics in LA and was frustrated that the classes were so fast-paced and not really open to all levels, even though they said they were. So I decided to do it my way. I had been producing body positive queer dance parties, this just meant that I was not only Femmecee and Producer but I was the choreographer and DJ, too.

This is what a gender neutral locker room looks like! Now if only they would install in a make-up mirror/vanity for the Femmes of all genders who want to put on their face/take well-lit selfies.

I spend hours on this every week as I learn this new art form and healing modality. I’m so excited how I’ve been able to use the concepts I’ve incorporated in the workshops I teach about body positivity into lessons during aerobics numbers. It is a very unique class and, I think, very healing with high joy vibrations. I’m getting great feedback from folks coming (bring friends, it’s so much fun in a group). Last week we did a cheer dance routine to all Missy Elliot songs, we did an aerobics dance for peace, a Prince song exploring body postures that give confidence, a 90s dance retrospective to Vanilla Ice and more. Every Thursday at 7:30PM! When you sign up online ahead of time, your check-in at the gym will be very fast.

My philosophy is if I would go to a dance party wearing it, I can use it to teach class. I love wearing overtly political shirts to teach aerobics. You can grab this and many other fabulous shirts/tanks/onesies from Genuine Valentine!

Since I often use exercise to prevent depression, I think my partner Dara genuinely believes I am going to be a happier person because I’m an aerobics instructor. Using an actual line of factual reasoning from one of my favorite movies, Legally Blonde.

We’re Finally Moving

My beloved Grandmother POTSA (Passed On To Something Awesome) on January 26, exactly a year after our lease on our little house in LA began. Two days later our landlady told us she was selling our house. Things here haven’t ever been great—it’s an old house and took a lot of work to become comfortable. We put heart and soul into it and even did a very DIY remodel of the attic to create a Mariah Carey closet for my clothes and Femme accoutrements.

Photo by Jes Baker of the Militant Baker. I’m still working every weekday monitoring her social media.

Our landlady used to live in the house behind ours that shares our driveway and while she was there with her grown children it was chaotic but not awful. We even had some really sweet holiday gatherings for Seder and the High Holidays in the courtyard between our houses. However, she moved out in October with her son and things got way worse. Basically, her daughter is selling meth and we suspect that at times have been cooking it. (Based on tells, like rotten egg smells, SO MUCH GARBAGE, etc…)

This is the Epic High Holiday. I used glitter burlap to artfully cover their weird pile of junk that included three old TVs (one was a big screen) that sat there for months until they cleaned it out and immediately replaced it with a broken down convertible that is now collecting a different pile of junk. But this pic is a great example of that old adage “When life hands you a pile of junk in the middle of your event space, break out the dreamy twinkle lights and glitter burlap.” Photo by Rick Sorkin.

I’m a person who believes really strongly in body autonomy and people getting to make their own choices about their bodies and what they do to them. That’s why I don’t shade fat people who make choices about weight loss and that’s why I don’t shade folks who use whatever drugs they want. However, one of the first things I learned as a young adult was “Never trust a tweaker.” That’s really stuck with me and I keep my distance. I also work hard at a 12 Step program for families and friends of alcoholics and drug addicts and I know the realities of that life very well. It’s been hard to have that energy so close by, the Trigger Train is making all stops.


The foot traffic next to our house has been rough. Imagine strangers constantly streaming past your living room and kitchen windows. It’s like having a coffee shop open up but not exactly coffee. The worst part is Macy, my dog, now has cancer and I highly suspect it’s from the stress and energy of the people passing. If you’re not a spiritual person, from an earthly logic place any dog would get stressed by so much foot traffic. From a spiritual place we had Syd, our energy healer, come by to do a healing for Macy and Biscuit Reynolds and she described the energy of the person walking by as being “hit by wasps.”

Things got to the biggest breaking point when we were up in San Francisco for my friend Amanda’s memorial. The folks in the back house had a party and someone was screaming about a gun. 9 cop cars and 2 helicopters later our pet sitters left Macy alone in the house overnight and I just hit my own breaking point. I knew I couldn’t be present for a memorial while scrambling to coordinate pet care from afar. We turned around and drove home the next morning. (Only one arrest, they are very good at hiding their drugs and guns.)

Anyway, we’re happy to have finally found a place! It was a difficult search. I’ll write a post about it in the future, but we were looking at a leap in rent no matter whether we got a smaller 2 bedroom house or a bigger 3 bedroom house. We could say yes to this paradise in Eagle Rock because it is well set-up for a room to be an occasional air bnb, which will help with our rent jump until Bevin’s Tea becomes wildly successful. And once we get the motor fixed, we will have a hot tub! Healing Oasis!! Thank you to everyone who sent us good vibes, woo, and prayers that we would find a great place!

I’m Throwing Myself into Spiritual Work and Grieving

Clinging to anything leads to suffering. I know that intellectually but I struggle with that a lot in grieving. I’m definitely still mourning my Grandmother big time but without a lot of capacity to do so because of the new aerobics class, house chaos and the moving. I’m also grieving all the stuff I wanted to do in our current house to bring it to fruition that I don’t get to finish.

I have been struggling to stay in faith these past two months about finding a place that works for us, and trust that something better was coming along. Many thanks to Alex, my fabulous psychic, for the pep talk that there was something better.

A quick trip to Sacramento last week while Dara attended a conference was just what I needed. My bestie and soul sister Spunky just moved to a fabulous new apartment in Sacramento. We toasted to NOT SETTLING and trusting the Universe to always deliver bigger and better with change.

Energy healing, going to an astrologer, card reader or psychic, or attending a class like a sound bath meditation, yoga or any of the Heal classes at EVERYBODY is a combination of therapy and spiritual practice. I have been throwing myself into all of these things because I know they help and will help me keep my energy moving. Grieving is part of life, and as someone with a lot of losses I want to do my best to process it and still really LIVE. It’s hard to live when you’re stuck in grief and sadness. This blog is a chronicle of my relentless pursuit of joy and I believe you can have joy no matter what, but that you gotta look at and acknowledge your darkness and sadness in order for it to pass.

When I know I’m not processing my grief enough it is really helpful to throw myself into healing modalities. It’s a thing you can do helps to turn on a spigot and let all the feelings out. About a month after Grandmother POTSA, I realized I was constantly in classes and environments where people were guiding me in taking deep breaths.

I’ve been enjoying Jasmine Danielle’s classes at EVERYBODY. They are strengthening, Barre, and yoga infused and so great. A three pound weight packs a bigger punch than you think!

If you feel so moved, take a deep breath right now. Breathe in for four, hold for four, breathe out for four, four times. This Four by Four breath I learned from Tara Magalski, is a real savior in centering.

The next big spiritual work I am going to do is to let strangers pack my house. I will leave my current house with Macy and Biscuit Reynolds on Sunday, let Dara supervise the packers we are paying to pack up our house, and come back with the pets on Monday to the new place. We both have had a lot of work taking up our time, we knew getting packers was essential to our being able to move quickly. Dara said I should just leave and let her handle it (she admitted later it was both a gift for my sanity and it will be easier for her without me around).

California is gorgeous right now. Due to all the rain this Winter the wildflowers (and bugs) are poppin! The hills look like they’re painted orange but these are just swaths of flowers. So beautiful.

I’m a controlling Capricorn and have serious issues with people moving my stuff around but I also know this will open up my capacity to write more and get more done. I can heal more folks and do more work in the world if I learn let other people do things that bring me stress. Plus, my friend Katy is in town and was just going to chill at her pet friendly hotel all day and invited me along. Yes please, Universe, I will accept this gift and learn these lessons while being a fat babe at the pool with Katy.

Bevin’s Tea is Still Brewing

I’m still hustling my tea business, though much of my business development was put on the shelf in October when Grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer. Right now I’m kind of a low-key tea dealer, selling to my friends and folks through my blog. Soon I’ll launch on Etsy, once I have the photos done and new labels designed. I am thinking about investing in a fancy label printer and I’m also deepening my work as a healer so that the blends become even more powerful energy healing. I want to return to blogging the process of developing a product based business, because the more work I do with Marie Forleo’s B-School the more I realize how much I benefit from reading other people’s small business journeys.

Got to hang out with Jes Baker a couple weeks ago when she was in town for a speaking gig at a college!

So, beloved readers, get ready for the launch of Fat Sex Week XXL on Thursday! It’s going to be fatter and louder than ever before. For now catch up on the last Fat Sex Week!

2016-08-24

I Know There’s Gonna Be Good Times: General Life Update from Bevin’s HQ

Friends! I just got back from one of the most inspirational and fulfilling weeks of my life. Intentional community, dream trip, deep emotions, deep caring, connections, luxury bathtubs. It was such a surprise to me that the experience was so deep and so much of what I needed.

I was blogging through the process of my transition to LA from Brooklyn, but things got pretty derailed for me as I have been affected both by the de-stability of the transition and the effects of the mental illness and substance abuse of a close friend. Shit has been rough.

How blessed I feel to have had this experience. Intentional community is incredibly healing for me. Summer camp did that for me as a kid and a teen. The Femme Conference did that for me for awhile, so did performing with my drag king troupe in the early 2000s. Now I have this new experience to reflect on. I’m excited to dive in and tell you all about what I saw, heard, learned, felt and experienced. But first, I think I need to paint a picture of what’s been going on in my life for context.

Exciting Stuff for my Body Positive Art and Activism
website-header-2016

I’m presenting at the Fat Activism Conference in September! It’s an online conference happening September 23-25, 2016 that you can listen to by phone or computer from wherever you are, you’ll also receive recordings and transcripts of each talk so you can listen/read at your convenience. It is super financially and time accessible as far as conferences go. I recorded my speech Disinvesting from Body Currency and Building Activist Resilience in July and I can’t wait to hear what all these other influencers and thought leaders have to say. Big love to the Fat Activism Conference organizers for all their hard work putting it together! <3<3

I was featured in a Buzzfeed article about non-traditional beach wear. Lots of hot and stylish people give their ideas. Many lustworthy instagrams to follow are aggregated. Your girl represented for the fat, flamboyant, vintage collecting femmes.

My friend Jes Baker reposted an article of mine on her incredibly influential body positive blog The Militant Baker. She’s been doing some amazing writing herself and amplifying other body positive thought leaders you’ll be interested in. My post she reposted is 5 Simple Things You Can Do to Start Feeling Okay About Your Body Today.

I also must take this opportunity to plug Dollypalooza in NYC Sept 3rd and LA on October 29th! Come out and party for a cause!

Self Care

I believe self care stretches time (thanks to Kelli Jean Drinkwater’s therapist for that nugget) and in times of rough stuff I have been centering my life around that. In terms of time management I try to pick one modality and wrap my schedule around that per week. I just kind of assess what my greatest needs are and go from there.

4684915640_cddd098660_zDear Goddess: Please give unto me a trip to Sydney to visit my soul sister Kelli Jean. Love, Bevin. Photo from NOLOSE in 2010.

I have mentioned for years that I’m in a 12 step program for family and friends of alcoholics and it has been one of the best choices I have ever made for my well-being. Since shit has been going down with my friend, I’ve been going to meetings about 3 days a week. It’s kind of easy to center life around meetings because they are scheduled. Unlike working out at the gym or “whenever” self care, you make a commitment to get to that 10AM Tuesday morning meeting.

I have had a hard time working out because of my heat sickness and the 100 degree hot like the surface of the sun weather in LA (like that time I passed out at the Getty after doing aqua jog) so instead lately I’m doing light stretching, dancing, and taking sunset walks with my partner Dara and our magical dog Macy.

I believe food is foundational and for awhile I was doing a lot of emotional eating. Eating from a place of “I know I gotta eat and it will gladden my taste buds to have this food that doesn’t serve my chronic digestive disorder so I’m going to do it anyway.” I jumped in on another whole foods summer reset cleanse with my body positive health coach Heartbeets Holistic Health. It’s a keep you hella full and take you by the hand and teach you how to prepare and eat anti-inflammatory foods program. Very veggie focused with access to meat if it’s your thing. Tons of recipes. Tons of self care modalities like dry brushing and detox baths.

Once you do Vic’s cleanse one time subsequent cleanses are gratis. I find when I’m doing a lot of traveling it is soooo helpful for me to focus on whole foods anti-inflammatory eating at home. It’s centering and also keeps the travel food from totally fucking up my life while I’m out of town and don’t have as much control over my food. So during the cleanse I was centering my life around cooking, grocery shopping and nourishing me and Dara.

I was shocked at how much better my capacity for dealing with life’s shit storms got when I was doing this cleansing. My moods stabilized and I was better able to be present with Big Feelings. Like, literally improved my relationship because when I’m in a better space emotionally so is Dara (#Empath4Empath is a tightrope sometimes). By Day 5 I could feel that initial impulse to freak out about something but I didn’t actually freak out. I was like seeing my Big Feelings from a calm and centered space and didn’t need to let it melt me down. What a gift I gave myself by focusing on healing my gut.

10176302283_70a9713433_oThank you forever Vic. I love you. (Vic’s in the center, we’re surrounded by Randee and Leo.)

Spirituality

I moved to LA to deepen my spiritual gifts and have continued to open myself up to new thoughts and ideas and create new spiritual practices. Given all of the tremendous devastation going on in the world at large right now, listening to NPR makes it hard to resist bawling your eyes out or settle into a default mode of rage. I know rage doesn’t serve me. So I like to employ prayer, gratitude and meditation to help elevate the world. At least it’s a thing I can do. I believe in good vibes. I believe do gooders in the world make the world a better place just by believing in hope. I’ll revisit that idea in a later post.

But let’s just say right now faith is kind of all I have in a lot of arenas of my life. I find it strengthens me when I can lean into it. It’s kind of like when you work out and build your core muscles your back pain gets better? Working out my faith really helps me stand tall in the face of an oppressive world that doesn’t value all human lives equally.

$$$ Hustle $$$

Capitalism is real and your girl has to pay those student loans and health insurance premiums, rent and vet bills. Moving to LA we knew that we had a finite amount of savings to live off of, we knew that I was working to retire from the practice of law and that we’re both building up small businesses. (Dara has a consulting business focusing on educational leadership.)

I believe being transparent about money is a form of classist resilience. They don’t want us to talk about money because keeping us in shame about how we are surviving because shame keeps us complacent. Right now I have about $1,500 in my bank account. Dara just got a check so we know how we pay October’s rent. But last week we didn’t know.

Seven months into our move to LA the hustle is real. I’ve lived before not knowing when next month’s rent is going to come and having to have faith it will—it never feels great. Here’s a list of how I’m gathering my acorns:

Desiree Alliance: I am so fortunate to work with an incredibly bad ass activist, Cris Sardina, who runs Desiree Alliance, a sex worker’s rights non-profit. Things got really busy before our biannual conference in July in New Orleans. We bring together activists working for decriminalization, direct service providers, professionals, academics, current and former sex workers and allies for five days of programming. We had some extraordinary keynote speakers, like Miss Major who is one of our surviving elders from Stonewall. She’s a trans woman of color dedicated to supporting trans women of color in the prison system through her non-profit TGI Justice (trans women of color are disproportionately incarcerated due to transmysoginy, racism and classism). Miss Major is a source of strength and resilience inspiration and just such a sweetheart. There is a movie about her that is winning awards all over the documentary circuit called Major! and you should prioritize seeing it. Her story is important and so inspirational.

I don’t make a ton of money as the finance officer of Desiree Alliance but it is meaningful work I feel honored to do. I’m looking forward to writing more grants with Cris to set up a sex worker activist mentoring program.

crisbevindararueMe, Cris, Dara and her baby granddaughter Rue, named for Rue McClanahan from Golden Girls.

Social Media Party Monitor for The Militant Baker: My friend Jes Baker is what I would call a “more famous body positive activist than me” and has hundreds of thousands of followers. That’s a lot of folks who comment and interact with her on social media and since her work challenges the concept of body currency the trolls who have nothing better to do than hate on awesome fat women uplifting people come out from under their bridges to say shitty things. I feel like a guardian who gets to make it easier for Jes to do her great work in the world. Read her book Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls (I’m quoted in it!!!). 

Dara wondered how I do it without having it affect me since I do the same kind of activism. I don’t know, it’s just easier for me partially because I get paid and partially because it is not directed at me and I know it makes Jes’ capacity greater. One of my life dharmas is to support activist resilience and somehow the purpose makes it easier for me read and delightfully block shit. And one day I’ll be influential enough to hire my own body positive activist friend to do that work for me! It’s great to have a job that is literally in line with your activism, however small it is.

jesbakerbevinchangetheworldHelping Jes change the world is an honor.

Law: I’m still maintaining an office in NYC so that I can practice real estate closings and estate planning for returning clients and friends in NYC. Most of my work is remote anyway and I have a great closing attorney who works with me when I can’t get to NYC for a closing. I just binge watched a ton of Continuing Legal Education classes in June and it was kind of fun learning about cannabis law, a very fascinating area I have no desire to practice in (still working on retiring from practice not starting something new) but as a media maker it’s helpful to have a fuller understanding of the evolving legal climate around cannabis.

The class about substance abuse for lawyers was fascinating, it taught me about how the qualities that makes one an effective attorney lends itself to suicide (the third leading cause of death among lawyers) and really highlighted for me why I am retiring.

Bevin’s Tea: I am still working on my Marie Forleo’s B-School course work and developing my business. I went to the World Tea Expo and cannot wait to have capacity to video blog about all the great teas I learned about. It’s both fun to be working towards a business I am extremely passionate about and frustrating about how long it takes to start something with no capital.

I have been learning so much both in practice and in B-School about creating a product-based business. Supporting artists and activists who maybe don’t have time or money to go get energy healing to take the fifteen minutes to prepare and consume a cup of reiki-infused tea is definitely part of my dharma. Thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered tea, it really helps a lot to learn the business by doing and I love the feedback. Can’t wait for you to see the product packaging I’m developing with my graphic designer!

bevinstea_logo_wcrystals

I also had no idea how much work it takes to start a new business and am taking each failure, mistake and triumph as necessary stepping stones to becoming the wildly successful energy healing mogul I know I can be. Also I want a line of clothing on QVC someday. As Dolly Parton says, Dream More!

Blog: My blog is a source of trickling income. I get gift cards for Amazon.com. When readers click links and buy literally anything on the site I get a commission. That helps me buy stuff for the house.

I get cash money from Bandelettes, the single sexiest form of chub rub prevention on the market (I used to spend all my commission on fatkinis but lately it’s gotta pay the bills).

The blog leads to the occasional speaking gig or sponsored blog post. If you want to reach a bunch of awesome people about your product or service, hit me up queerfatfemme at gmail.com. A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who has pre-ordered tea through my blog or used the Amazon referral link. Seriously helping right now.

everybodyeverybootyMe in my EveryBody tank and Dara in her Everybooty tee-shirt. East Coast West Coast queer lifestyles. Gym vs pride party.

OMG how many people have told me I “should just get a job” when I have a lot of them and am working towards being a full time body positive artist/activist/healer. But… I am getting a job, in addition to all the other jobs I have. I had to write my first resume focused on body positive activism! There’s a new body positive gym opening up 6 minutes from my house in Northeast LA. EveryBody is revolutionary, I’m honored to be part of the team.

It’s my deep pleasure to announce that I got a job as a fitness instructor doing body positive, accessible movement classes. I don’t think I would have ever thought in my whole life I would move to LA and become a fat femme Richard Simmons without the diet talk, but I’m really cute at it. I had done two different drag acts where we did fitness routines and those were for revolution not movement motivation but I’m stoked to get to be doing it for cash. I’ll give you more info when I have it.

Friends who visit LA–keep me updated because part of the class will involve interviews with artists and activists. Imagine a drag queen special guest star in a fitness class? I can’t wait to blow your mind. It’s like the next step to my body positive dance parties is to facilitate a dance party as part of moving and loving our bodies and healing collectively.

TRAVEL

I love to travel and have had some great opportunities this summer. I went to New Orleans for the Desiree Alliance conference and my friend Dana just happened to be staying at the same hotel after a bachelorette party. There’s nothing better than being at work at a conference dealing with the complaints of the AV guy and have a hot butch friend wearing a Dolly Parton tee shirt interrupt to hand you the best fried chicken in the world. I ate that fried chicken later on naked in my hotel room and it was the best moment.

danadollyshirt

I went to Columbus a couple of weeks ago to visit my close friends Christie and Becky and their daughters/my nieces Etta and Joey. Our friends Erica and Amy joined us from Philly with their kids August and Ani. Yes, I have lesbian friends whose baby’s nickname is Ani and I think that’s a #lesbianlevelup. It’s such a gift to be close to children and get to be part of their growing up. My heart swelled with pride when Etta and Joey were on a meditation pillow showing me how they find “Inner peeeeessss.” I love those kids so much.

Next week I head to NYC for Dollypalooza for my first time back since we left in late December. My heart is happy and also breaks a little because I know I won’t get to see nearly everyone I want to while I’m in town.

Last week I was overseas and I have an epic series of blog posts about that a comin’.

auntbevinettaandjoeyMy goal is to always have it be THE MOST FUN EVER when Aunt Bevin comes to town. I taught them how to hop train cars using this long cart at Target.

BEVIN <3 DARA

Dara and I never formally lived together before we moved to LA. Shit has been rough for us externally but we continue to find one another as a source of strength. Every time we hit a rough patch, we get through it and things get even stronger between us. We’ve talked about marriage obviously (and the legal protection offered would be really cool) but we’re waiting until we have the cash to have the blow out epic wedding of our dreams to pursue the level up. Queers have been finding creative ways of honoring our love connections for years outside of marriage and I am having a great time creating family culture and ritual with her based around our super woo spirituality and her Jewish cultural heritage.

bevindarathemedressI don’t support colonial imperialism but I do love red white and blue. How lucky that Dara loves theme dress as much as me?

Our house is cute as fuck and I’m learning how to let go of my perfectionism about it. House projects are constantly mounting and my Mariah Carey closet is still not finished. I was making myself suffer mentally and emotionally because I had this idea that everything “should” be done by now. I know now I had expectations that weren’t aligned with reality and given lack of cash, time and capacity we can’t have everything done yet. Houses are a lot of work, it’s like having another pet but way more demanding. I’m relying now on the power of six months and sitting in gratitude for what is done. We have a fridge (that wasn’t always true). I have my dream kitchen faucet we paid for through a rent reduction when the last one burst.

Now I just let it go, trust the universe and sing that song I Know There’s Gonna Be Good Times

My goodness it feels good to be back to real talk on the blog. More soon. Sending love out to all who need it.

2014-06-20

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

I read a lot of blogs, especially design and mommy blogs, where it kind of seems like the blogger has this magical, perfect life full of sunshine and roses. I know that’s an easy thing to think about someone who publicly shares about their life that things are easy all the time. But it’s part of my artistic intentions that I talk about the way shit is hard sometimes, too. This piece is about how it is okay to not be okay sometimes.

On Father’s Day every year for the past four years my magical, powerful, wonderful roommate Damien Luxe produces an event called Fuck You Dad: A Cabaret to End Patriarchy. It is a way for her to reclaim Father’s Day, which always falls near her birthday. It’s such an empowering event and I’ve really loved getting together with other artists to perform in a cute backyard and DIY empowerment we maybe (probably) didn’t get from our dads.

14428960215_f66d930428_oFrom a previous year’s Fuck You Dad offerings, as published on the Heels on Wheels instagram.

As an only child raised by a single mom in off and on working class/poverty, with a family legacy of alcoholism, I’ve got lots of dad issues. I work through them in a few venues, most helpfully in a twelve step program for families and friends of alcoholics. Much of the time, maybe even 95% of the time, I’m really fine. I have lots of compassion, detachment with love, etc… But this year it took me by surprise.

My girlfriend, who has been going through treatment for breast cancer, just lost her beloved father. He was a wonderful man, he radiated love and support and everything a Good Dad can be. (And I’d like to point out here that the patriarchy makes it really hard even for Good Dads to be Good Dads.) I am so grateful I got the chance to meet him.

The day after Dara’s last chemo treatment her dad went to the ER with chest pains and a little over a week later he passed away. It is really shitty to want to be celebrating a cancer treatment milestone and instead be packing up to go to a funeral. We were supposed to be getting together for a family vacation where I was going to meet her brothers and their families for the first time and her folks were going to meet my mom and Grandmother, my two closest biological relatives. It was weird how all of our travel had changed and it was a grief tornado.

As far as I could tell for myself everything was fine, considering. I was holding it together and feeling really helpful with the family. Dara’s family rules, they are really sweet and awesome. I really appreciated being able to be helpful—managing food as it came to the house, cleaning up, grocery shopping, making sure Dara was eating. All the kinds of things I’d learned to do as a cancer caretaker in a more concentrated form.

14445164014_98c990f573_oDamien emceeing and Heather and Daniel Rosza preparing for their Fancy piece.

We flew home from staying with her mom for the week after the funeral and the next morning was Father’s Day. I was working on my piece for Fuck You Dad and it wasn’t gelling. I was feeling really distracted and moody. Dara and I got into a really dumb fight and I didn’t know why.

Until I got to Jacqueline’s house to workshop our pieces and I kind of lost it during her rehearsal. And then when I got to the cabaret and started crying as soon as I hugged my friend Heather, I just realized, I’M NOT OKAY.

This was both a surprise to me and also kind of sucked. When I perform I want to have more control over myself and not feel like I might cry when I get up to the mic.

What I’ve realized about resilience is that it’s there when I most need it. During a crisis, I’m a rock. I am a logistics mistress, I will get everything taken care of. I generally am not feeling my feelings when I’m going through something hard. I’m just getting through. Given all the dad grief going on so acutely for the previous three weeks, given all the caretaking energy I’d been putting out for the past six months, I just didn’t have all my resilience I usually do on Father’s Day.

The dad stuff that’s usually on the shelf and very tidy for me was a total mess. But because I was performing in this space, with these people around me all at once, all these amazing Femmes who have been my rocks (some of them for years), I could afford to lose it a little and have time to collect myself before I went on stage. And it was okay.

Being a Feelings Squirrel kind of person, where a squirrel saves her nuts to eat during the long winter, I kind of unconsciously save my feelings for later when I have space. I recognize that this is a survival mechanism that I learned out of necessity in a not great childhood. This is something I’m only recently learning about myself so I am still working on how to constructively let out my feelings when it’s time instead of having them come out in not so great ways later.

I’m experimenting with ways for me to have some space to feel feelings. Like when we were in Vegas I took a friend’s recommendation for a Korean day spa, one of those places where you pay $20 and get to go lounge in a sauna or hot tubs for as long as you want. I went there because I knew I needed a place to feel feelings.

14435415852_70ef34c5bb_oJacqueline spray painting Fuck You Dad on a comforter. Photo courtesy @mxjackdawson on Instagram–the modern day Getty Images.

But it wasn’t enough. I totally got to the point on Father’s Day where my feelings were coming out of me like I was an overfilled sandwich cracker and the peanut butter was squishing out the sides.

When I found out that my performance at Fuck You Dad was the last in the line-up I knew what I needed to performed. I scrapped what I had prepared and I decided to do a healing exercise with the audience.

As my introduction I had the emcee call on three people that new me to solicit compliments. This is a totally hard thing to do, solicit compliments, but is a really quick and easy way to access strength and resilience when you need it.

When I ask my friends for compliments, I’m not doing it from an insecure place. When I’m feeling not okay, having my friends remind me why I am a babe or a bad ass or competent or whatever really helps me get out of the negative thought patterns that love to rush in when my vulnerabilities are high. Try it next time you need a boost—call on folks you consider body positive allies when you need a boost about body self confidence, or call on folks who you trust to support you when you need general confidence reminders.

They were perfect compliments, too. One was about being a good dog mom, one was about my blog and the other was about how I have a spirituality that is very big but I don’t push it on other people. It was helpful to have that framework for what I did next with the crowd.

14430104821_d0d57e77f4_oI didn’t even get it together enough to dress how I wanted to for Fuck You Dad and Jacqueline loaned me this babely leopard dress. I’m pictured with this totally nice person who looks like my bestie Leo who has been on the West Coast for months.

I told the audience I was not okay and that it was okay that I was not okay. I testified a one minute version of this post about my dad stuff. I thought that probably, like me, hearing 11 acts, many of which really went there with exorcising Bad Dad stuff, brought things up for people and they might need some centering, healing and cleansing.

I lead a breathing and prayer exercise. Breathing in healing and breathing out fear. Breathing in love and breathing out anger. I offered a Reiki healing to everyone for their childhoods—at my present level of Reiki training I can heal through time and space. I had them picture a time in their childhood that needed healing and I beamed the healing out to them.

Then I did a centering exercise based in gratitude, where I had the audience turn to someone next to them and thank them for being with them in this moment. I find it really helpful to make human connections in times when I’m not okay.

So that was my offering at Fuck You Dad. I wanted to share it with folks out there in my blog audience. Kind of like how even the most ardent fat activist still has “bad fat days” even folks who have done lots of work on different areas of their lives have hard times and it’s okay to not be okay. It’s taken me a lot of work to release the shame that comes up for me when shit I thought was long settled gets stirred up for me again.

And Father’s Day is almost a week over and I’m working on doing the things I know that work to take excellent care of myself. And I know I’ll be okay, even though I also know it’s okay to not be okay.

2014-01-14

Free Self Development Astrology Exercises Part Two!

I blogged a couple of weeks ago about my new project with Katie from Empowering Astrology, combining astrological forecasts and self-development exercises–using the stars to give a little extra oomph to your self-development work!

Tomorrow, January 15th, is the full moon. Katie predicted that the emotional buttons getting pushed by the full moon and the ongoing Venus retrograde were going to bring to light issues from our relationships with our parents. I wrote some good, heart examining and heart opening work to do about reconciling your relationship with your parents. I hope it is helpful.

Click here to download the free exercises!

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These are my paternal grandparents. I’ve done a lot of self-development work reconciling my relationship with them, especially with my Grammy who was a person from whom I received physical abuse as a child. When I read the book From Survival to Recovery (through my work in Al-Anon) it really helped me understand how violent and chaotic her childhood was, which helped me humanize her and heal some of the trauma I experienced. Obviously it’s not as simple as just reading a book, but trying to give some context for work that has worked for me thriving through circumstances that were not designed for me to thrive.

Let us know how you’re enjoying the exercises. We’ll be launching this as a monthly workbook available for purchase from either of our websites and we’d love to be giving you what you’re looking for in self-development. You can comment here or email me at queerfatfemme at gmail.

2013-07-23

Mind Diet: Ways I’m Tuning my Radio Dial to Joy

Years ago I started calling my blog a chronicle of the relentless pursuit of my joy. I’ve known from The Success Principles by Jack Canfield (I highly recommend reading it or listening to the abridged audio book) that joy is a compass that helps you find where you’re meant to go in this world. It’s amazing how you can hear something and believe something but putting it into practice is really difficult. One step at a time, definitely.

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Photo by Grace Chu from Yes Ma’am this weekend.

A few weeks ago I was talking to a spiritual advisor/friend about my businesses and how I’ve been struggling to make financial ends meet for the last year while still carving out time to finish my book. I am a part time attorney with my own firm as well as give workshops and produce events. These are all pursuits that bring me different levels of joy and connection. Her insight was, “Maybe you don’t believe you deserve this life? Maybe there’s something blocking it?” Something resonated deep and I’ve been working on the deserve part of it ever since.

A bit after that I had three big, weird, hard and hurtful things happen within twenty-four hours–culminating in this subway harassment. I was doing a lot of crying about these things and struggling. I am a faithful person who believes in the ultimate good in the universe but I had some moments of looking up into the sky going “Really?”

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Me and Leo at Prime. Photo by Drae.

My friend Drae throws this party for queers over thirty called Prime. (Next one is August 17th in Brooklyn.) One of the amazing things she has at the party is free “Woo Counseling.” An intuitive named Shaina sits with you, does a read on you or clears your chakras. I agreed to work the door at Prime as long as I got to see Shaina first before my shift. I told Shaina about the three events and she said, “You’re doing great! These things are just telling you you’re on the right path! What you need to do is change your radio frequency to joy and this stuff won’t affect you so hard.”

She explained that we vibrate on different frequencies. It’s very similar to how thoughts control your life (see Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life for a great primer on the law of attraction). If you’re on a dial where you think everything is against you, shift it up a few notches and vibrate on joy. Focus on happiness, silliness, playfulness, creativity. I do a lot of regular practices to keep my creative juices flowing and focusing on joy is definitely one I had been letting slip in my artistic hygiene. I’m a very positive person, but even when you believe in positivity it’s easy to slip and forget to revel.

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Tying Miss Mary Wanna’s corset. Just an average Saturday night in a Noxema commercial.

So I took Shaina’s advice. I got even more focused on grounding myself every day. I turn my phone to airplane mode when I go to bed and I don’t turn it back on until I’ve woken up, had iced lemon water, written my morning pages, done my affirmations, given ALF his pill and told my dog I love her. Morning pages are a practice from The Artist’s Way and they are a sort of meditative, tenth step inventory, prayerful, garbage dump of thoughts longhand on three pages every morning. Some people do 20 minutes but I need to fill the pages and sometimes the thoughts come fast or slow.

I have a bunch of affirmations I’ve written for myself but I also incorporate these Badass Resilience: Black and Brown Femme Survivor Love and Desire Affirmations By Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and Keisha Williams every morning. Looking into a mirror and saying them into my eyes if I can.

I feel pretty awesome that I’ve done all of these grounding exercises (and even some yoga) every day for four weeks, which is remarkable consistency for me.

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I went to this party on Pride weekend that was definitely a remake of the U4EA episode of 90210. Photo by The Think Theater Queer Photography.

Shaina also suggested I have a “mind diet” and focus on my joy. Learn a song and perform it in a video, for no big deal other than to do it. I started learning a song but what I ended up doing with it was using the song whenever my mind was slipping to not joyful thoughts.

I also know that gratitude practice is really helpful for me to orient myself to joy. The idea is that if you focus on the abundance in your life it will attract more abundance.

Lately I have been taking note of these moments that feel like a Noxema commercial in my life. You know in the opening scene of Clueless where Cher narrates, “I know you’re going, is this like a Noxema commercial or what? But I actually have a way normal life for a teenage girl.” Cher totally doesn’t have a normal life, and neither do I. I think the first moment I thought of that I was watching a bunch of my friends dance on a bench at WHAM BAM in the twilight while Hall and Oates was playing.

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Noxema Commercial moment happened really soon after this. Photo by Kelsy Chauvin.

Every time I have a Noxema commercial moment I stop and acknowledge it. Either to myself or to my friends specifically. At a midnight beach party on the third of July, my friend Quito spent three nights staking out the perfect illegal spot for folks to converge on a beach in the Rockaways. It was so dark you couldn’t see anyone but the folks you came with. It was intimate, adventurous and completely beautiful. Last week late night pool party swimming with a bunch of queer porn stars and sex workers at a conference in Vegas. I was in the pool commenting to someone, “This is my real life.”

I appreciate these crazy adventures, I appreciate all the living I do through even the rough spots that hurt. I think the hurt is sand paper that’s smoothing out the parts that need it so I can fit myself to the next adventure. Maybe if I wasn’t hurt so hard when my engagement ended nearly six years ago I wouldn’t have the alchemy needed to have these Noxema commercials in the summer of 2013?

I think this plays into the “do I deserve this” question which is that since I am given it and I work hard for it, I do deserve it. I get to enjoy it and revel in it. I should do those things.

My friends have also been amazing. I have had a hard time being open to romantic interludes but letting my friends woo me has been great practice at heart opening. Three weeks in a row I got flowers from a friend just because they wanted to be sweet to me. Even the amount of kind words has been incredible. Jacqueline in particular has been the most romantic friend I’ve ever had, last week in Vegas she woke me up by spooning me when she knew I needed it and drew me a bath after she saw me having a hard conversation–this bath also had bubbles, rose petals, Prince’s “Adore” on repeat (one of my favorite Prince songs) and hotel-brewed hibiscus iced tea. Her game is FIERCE.

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So I’ve been on this mind diet for a month and I have to say I had to suspend a little disbelief about it (as in thoughts of “I don’t know if this is really working”) because I’ve had this weirdo cloud over me for awhile. I know that I can hold multiple conflicting emotions at once, which is not something I realized I could do until a couple of years ago. For example, just because I have some sadness and hard feelings that creep around doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy other things and experience moments of joy. Conversely, just because I have the mind diet doesn’t mean that suddenly everything was great. Being joyful requires work, tons of self care and conscious orientation towards exuberant joy.

But I think it’s really working. It’s been one month exactly since I began it. Because I was doing such good work focusing on my feelings, I could parcel out things I might need some bigger help with. I emailed Katie at Empowering Astrology about it and she said it was work I could do on my own, but if I wanted to have a 30 or 60 minute session with her to work on it we’d see if Spirit wanted it and the money would come. And then, the very next week, I won a session with her in a raffle at a conference I went to. It was very random and serendipitous. The session I had with her yesterday helped me feel more empowered and lively than I have in months. Not since my break-up/extended break-up remix and my cat passed away.

@jacquelinemary at the beach
Perhaps just the presence of the divine Jacaueline Mary in my life makes it a Noxema commercial?

I might write up my session more in-depth when I figure out the words for the twists and turns of the universe lately, but today I’m just enjoying this simple joy, release and lightness of being. Here’s a write-up from my first session with Katie.

So, to summarize, this is how my mind diet tuning my radio dial to joy went down:

1. I ground myself every morning.
2. I focus on gratitude.
3. I do silly things.
4. I shift negative/hard thoughts towards joyful ones.
5. I pay attention to my feelings.
6. I ask for help.
7. I let love in.

For sure I am going to keep these practices up. I would love to hear in the comments how you tune your radio dial to joy!

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