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

2014-05-07

May Astrology Self Development Worksheet with Empowering Astrology

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I was just thinking to myself that since it’s May 7th and Mercury moved into Gemini that I needed to schedule an informational interview to take advantage of this astrological energy as per my worksheet with Katie from Empowering Astrology… And then I remembered I finished it as I was off to Dollywood and haven’t posted it to the blog yet! Sorry about that folks! I got distracted by the celestial magic that happened when I was among Dolly super fans… and oh yeah, Dolly Parton herself not one but four times this weekend! WHAT!?! Such a great weekend, more to come.

14107969796_4fdc1ff0cc_bMe and my amazing friend Jess at the Dollywood sign.

13919217139_192e24c75d_bDolly Parton atop her float in her Homecoming Parade through Downtown Pigeon Forge.

In the meantime, May is a great month to move ahead and make some inroads into all the things your curiosity is leading you to! This month’s exercises are all about paying attention to those secret things your heart is longing for and taking some steps to make them happen.

You can download the free guide here!

2014-03-28

Healing Emotional Wounds: April Astrology Self Development with Empowering Astrology

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I don’t know about you but this Winter I’ve felt like I’m running through mollasses about 80% of the time. Everything feels really hard and even the smallest things have been setting me off. It’s hard to tell what’s the circumstances of my life and what’s something bigger. Have you been noticing that folks are really grumpy, angry, frustrated at each other? Even driving to a coffee shop one day I noticed there was significantly more honking and aggression (though NYC is never free of annoyed drivers). It was bad enough that I just turned around and went home!

I feel grateful sometimes, when things are hard for me, to know that things are hard astrologically. If you have even a glimmer of faith in the universe positioning us to have specific challenges as part of our life journeys, it can feel like a relief to realize “It’s not just me.”

So, with grand triumph that we got through the past week/month/season, I present April’s astrological forecast from Katie at Empowering Astrology, with self-development exercises from me. I include some journaling exercises to take note of what’s going on with you to help heal your deep emotional wounds. I also talked about how I learned to have compassion, which Katie says is the trait that will help us the most during these rough times. There’s also a ritual to acknowledge a significant material loss you’ve had.

I hope these exercises help, I hope the astrological forecast of “Shit’s hard for everyone right now,” helps, and I hope you’re able to lean into your struggles from a place of hope instead of fear. That’s what I’m trying to do.

Click here for the PDF for this month!

2014-02-06

How to Gracefully Survive Mercury Retrograde and February Worksheet with Empowering Astrology

Today begins another round of Mercury Retrograde. (February 6th-28th.) If you’re not familiar with the concept, the best metaphor I’ve ever heard of to describe what it does is from my bestie Rachael. Imagine you go to the mall to get a black skirt. In Mercury Direct times, you’ll just get the skirt. In a Retrograde (when Mercury goes backward) you will go to the mall and never find the black skirt. But you will find something else completely amazing you never realized you might find. There are some amazing serendipities. Mercury screws up communication, contracts, technology, etc… and people are constantly stressing out about it.

IMG_5868 Me and Rachael in Atlanta in December.

Even if you’re not of the woo mind, the same “survival strategies” work to lead a balanced life. Learning how to go with the flow and respond with good humor when stuff isn’t working out as planned or communication gets all screwy are fantastic skills!

Katie, my astrologer from Empowering Astrology, has some incredible insights, which I’m posting below. (Also, if you’re ever wondering about other astrological concepts her blog is really great.)

Let’s talk nuts and bolts Mercury Retrograde. When I gave you all the heads up recently, there more than a little anxiety. I got a lot of nervous questions about signing things and starting this or that during the retrograde. So here’s my spiel:

* Life goes on during Mercury Retrograde. You just may have to retrace your steps.

* The retrograde is about review.

* Traditionally Mercury Retrograde is not a time to sign a contract, buy a car, or a computer — all Mercury ruled things. If you can wait to sign or make an important purchase or make an important decision, wait.

* My belief about Mercury Retrograde is that if you cannot afford to have something not work out, wait.

* Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of waiting till after the retrograde. If you must move forward with something, double and triple check the fine print. Be prepared to make adjustments once Mercury turns direct.

* Above all, don’t fear Mercury Retrograde. Fear is the lowest energy to create from and you are an aspect of the Creator made physical. Work with Mercury Retrograde. Go back to something that’s been on the back burner. Revise a manuscript. Try a different path. Meditate and reflect.

* Trust your own intuition. If you’re not sure if now is a good time to do something, ask yourself how it feels. Can you afford to wait?

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This month Katie and I partnered once again to create a worksheet about using the astrological climate to propel self-development. We put it all together for the full month as a pdf download.

It includes journaling work, ritual and play–including a really fun Valentine’s Day date you can do solo, with a friend or with a sweetie. My Valentine’s Day date now completely involves construction paper and modeling clay. It’s also got some really simple activities to help you hone your intuition. Have you ever wondered how to trust your gut more?

Click here to download the worksheet!

2014-01-30

Using Astrology to Manifest Your Destiny

This month I have been working with Katie at Empowering Astrology to create self-development exercises that coincide with the power of the astrological clock. Utilizing the stars to move us ahead in our personal journeys.

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The January 30th new moon is full of visioning! We’re making visioning collages to shake up our magic. If you’ve never done a visioning collage before it’s a great way to help your subconscious mind tune into those things that are your greatest desires. I did mine a little early this month when a group of friends wanted to do them together. I’m pretty proud of my guacamole moon.

Click here to download the exercise for the January 30, 2014 new moon!

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2013-12-31

Free Self Development Exercises in Partnership with Empowering Astrology!

I adore Empowering Astrology! It’s my favorite astrology site out there and Katie has ruined me for sun sign astrology–we are so much more than our sun signs. I did a write-up of my hour-long natal chart reading with Katie last January and ever since she’s been providing me with some amazing healing work. On a follow-up session with her in July I learned a meditation that helped me end a karmic cycle I was in with an ex lover. The healing I got from that has been profound!


A healing bath prepared for me by Jacqueline when we were in Vegas!

Inspire by Empowering Astrology’s daily Facebook posts I began using her as a catalyst to create self development exercises for myself. I’d use her predictions for what work is most powerful at the time and create journaling prompts for myself or rituals. I thought that partnering together to do this work and offer it to our readers might be a fun resource we could offer.


Katie from Empowering Astrology–a brilliant astrologer and a babe!

For the month of January we’re offering our self development exercises–a combination of Katie’s astrological forecast for the month and activities I’m writing as part of my self esteem and body empowerment coaching practice–for free as downloads on both of our sites around the lunar cycle–on or about January 1th, January 15th and January 30th. Starting in February it’s going to be a download for $5 for the whole month’s exercises.


Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

I’m really excited about this project. We hope you like them! Let us know if there’s anything you would like to see in the future!

You can download the PDF of January 1st here. It has journaling prompts for setting yourself up in the new year as well as a ritual for letting go of the past. This would be great to set up with your buddies as a ritual on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.

2013-12-06

Life Intentions

Last week I found out a friend of mine passed away. It was unexpected and she was only 45. A couple weeks before that I found out a beloved of mine has been diagnosed with breast cancer–we were already having long conversations about mortality when I got word that Ria passed. And two night ago I found out another friend of mine unexpectedly passed away at 33.

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Me and Ria. I love this photo of her mid-laugh. Her laugh was amazing.

This is kind of bananas.

I’m leaning in a lot on my spirituality through all of this. I do know that the Goddess never gives me more than I can handle. I’m also seeing a lot of the gifts that you can get through grief and difficulty and paring my life down to the important things.

I wrote this piece in my journal the other night while reflecting on Ria’s passing and what a huge influence she was on my life personally and on her community (over 1,000 folks attended her funeral). I have more words to say about her at a later time, but I felt compelled to post these on my blog for now.

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This is my friend Michael (left)

I want to live a deliberate life and I want to be effective and have a lot of fun and great adventures. I want to be unafraid of “no” and keep asking for what I want no matter all the “nos” I get. I don’t want to doubt myself. I don’t want to be held back by self doubt that seeps in. I want to be compassionate, loving, big hearted, generous, abundant, but always put my self care first. I want to live with integrity, make a lot of art. Keep bettering myself so I can better the world. I want to see my life as full and rich and abundant just as it is and not lacking even as there are other things I’m visioning and believing for. I want to trust the Goddess’ plan and be a vessel for her work here on Earth. I want to appreciate God’s gifts and beauty and all of the splendor this Earth has to offer. I want to make meaningful connections with people and sustain the ones that continue to sustain me and let go with love those that no longer do. I want to trust the process and I want to love ferociously, honestly and gratefully. I want to work hard and feel like it’s fun.

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2013-11-25

A Great Way to Deal with Yucky Feelings: Emotional Freedom Technique aka Tapping

In advance of the #thx4support event on Thursday I wanted to talk about a tool that has been enormously helpful in my life to deal with yucky feelings (on Triggergiving, I mean Thanksgiving, or any other day).

This summer I worked with a woman whose work with lesbian survivors of sexual trauma involves using Emotional Freedom Technique, colloquially called “Tapping.” I had heard of it before but never really learned about it until Dawn told me about it. She walked me through the basic steps, and honestly it seems so simple it can’t possibly work. But, as my health coach Vic from Heart Beets Holistic said about Tapping, “The neuroscience is there. It really works.”

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So I gave it a shot. And a few months after starting to use it in areas of my life I was finding the most difficult to navigate, mostly money stuff (growing up working poor problems, like scarcity and fear) and residual grief from a break-up, my life in both of those areas has radically improved. I don’t know that Tapping is the only thing that worked but things have gotten better and it’s a great tool so I have been telling everyone I know about it.

Here’s how it works. If you have a yucky feeling come up, you start Tapping. For example, when I feel fear come up about money, my whole insides tense up. My stomach goes in knots and my heart hurts and I just have a total physiological reaction. What I do when I feel that way is I start doing the tapping sequence (and apparently there’s no exact “right” way to do the tapping, but lots of people say starting with the pinky sides of the hands hitting against each other) and naming the emotions that are coming up with me. Then I do the whole tapping sequence and usually end it by saying what I want to release and tapping my head.

The real powerful part of this, I think, is naming your feelings honestly. Even if you believe working with the meridian points is all made-up, being able to name the feelings you’re having is so incredible. We’re taught to swallow our feelings, not express them. So I express my fear that there will never be enough, that I will always be broke, that I don’t have enough money to pay for things, that I won’t be able to live my life as an artist. Then I release them. I sometimes follow-up with affirmations because I like the antidote to fear and insecurity with positivity. (In the foregoing example, “I live an abundant life and the Goddess takes care of all of my needs… I have more than enough to cover my bills and give money generously, etc…”)

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The idea is that Tapping helps you move the trauma out of your body. It’s an energetic release that works spiritually, physiologically and emotionally to acknowledge the trauma response and let it go. I know a lot of people who have worked with Tapping to deal with significant life traumas and it has really helped them. I believe if it can work with people on the really big stuff it can also work on the smaller more chronic issues that block us from our path.

I am a fan of free call-in seminars and I did one in September that was about releasing fear around money. I was so annoyed that I spent an hour and a half listening to this call and the “how” of it was only five minutes about naming your money fears and releasing them through the tapping points. It’s also much easier to learn the tapping points in a video. My favorite how-to video is below. Five minutes with one of my favorite spiritual leaders, Iyanla Vanzant. She has an incredible show on OWN called Iyanla, Fix My Life. I highly recommend it.

Again, it feels wild that it’s so simple.

My yuckiest feelings sometimes come up for me when I’m in transit, especially in the subway. Mostly when I’m moving my mind is going the most rapidly. One time I found myself tapping while on the F train and felt a little weird about it. Vic says that you can tap on just your finger tips because those are meridian points as well, but sometimes I just tap for real anyway because I don’t really care what people think of me on the subway and, honestly, tapping is the least weird of the weird stuff I’ve seen happen on NYC Transit.

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If you’re going to be dealing with hard things on Thanksgiving, Tapping is a great idea to have in your arsenal! I think having a tool box of things that help you stay grounded and centered is a great way to pre-plan for hard stuff. If you’re new to Tapping, maybe sketch out a list of the meridian points to tap and keep it in your purse or pocket and excuse yourself to the restroom to let it out. And don’t forget to follow hashtag #thx4support on Thanksgiving to be part of a whole community of folks supporting one another through the holiday!

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Morgan, talking about the background of the Riots Not Diets cupcake (a reclamation of past grapefruit diet trauma) at Rebel Cupcake in May. Photo by Gizelle Peters.

2013-11-12

Ways I’m Embracing My Imperfect Meditation Practice

People are always going on and on about the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health benefits of a meditation practice. I’ve been working on becoming a gold star meditator in fits and starts for years. If my meditation practice had a star it would probably be glitter, shiny and a little distracting.

First of all, I’m a shitty, inconsistent meditator with a lot going on in my head. But I have noticed that since I’ve been attempting to meditate for three years, I am a lot calmer and better at it than I used to be. The trying is the important part. I don’t do it every day though I wish I did. I’ve assembled a few of my meditation tips to encourage other people to seek their inner peace even if they, too, are shitty, inconsistent meditators.

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Calling the corners at Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

I set up a place when I moved into my new apartment that made sense for meditation. At my old place I would sit at the foot of my bed right in front of my altar to meditate. I was never completely comfortable and discovered I liked meditating a lot better from a chair. So I bought a really cute armchair for $30 from a thrift store and set it right next to my fire escape window, where I have a few pots of flowers and herbs. I call it my “Feelings Chair” and every morning I write my morning pages in it and when I meditate I usually do it there. It’s pretty close to my altar (though it doesn’t face my altar) that I feel like I can get the energy from my little sacred spot in the corner where I do my meditating. It’s not perfect, but it works and that’s what’s important.

I really like Sharon Salzberg’s book Real Happiness, it’s like $10 and comes with a guided meditation CD. Very very good intro to many kinds of meditation. It helped me lighten up on myself about meditating. I used to get so frustrated that I couldn’t perfectly clear my head of all thoughts. She says, “The sky is not the clouds,” with regards to thoughts that saunter in during meditation.

Sometimes my meditation practice is just me staring at a squirrel I’m noticing who has a really beautiful fluffy tail, or some birds playing, or how flamey trees are when I’m walking Macy. I try to walk 20 minutes every single day in the Winter as a form of fighting Seasonal Depression, but I don’t always make it a meditation walk. (When I do a meditation walk, I do a version of the Sharon Salzberg prescription in the book I recommended, but mostly I just try to clear my head and focus on being on the walk.) Sometimes it’s a gratitude walk where I literally list things I’m grateful for during the entire twenty minutes (things get repeated).

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Backstage prayer circle with Ivan Coyote, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Felice Shays and Cal Truman (not pictured). Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

I also really love guided meditation journies streaming online. I started with the Oprah Winfrey/Deepak Chopra free meditation situation earlier this year and I’ve done a couple of others, but the Oprah/Deepak one two combo is pretty great. There is a new one that started yesterday. Once you sign up for one you end up getting notices for follow-up ones and now I’m subscribed to a few different online meditation sites for their free streaming meditations.

I’m trying out a video meditation series, which I’ve never done before, and might help folks get started. It really combines the peace I get looking at nature with guided meditation audio. I’m not totally wild about the content partners (not particularly meaty lectures) but the videos are gorgeous.

Lynnee Breedlove had a great quote on his FB the other day about what he thinks about meditation. He’s been a guru to me for quite some time, and he taught me a lot about the value of paying attention.

Meditating, it occurred to me. if god is love and the greatest way to love someone is to put your attention on them, and attention is awareness, which is consciousness, then all you have to do to experience god is pay attention (hard for ADD people, so we try to lengthen moments of attention with substances or brain chemical inducing behaviours, but such addictions cloud the attempt.) therefore consciousness/paying attention is experiencing/being god/godlike. So “all you have to do” to meet god/transcend is look at some one/thing, listen, and breathe. the more moments you can do this, the closer you are to god or the higher you transcend. simple, right?–Lynnee Breedlove

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Invoking the Goddess Lilith at the TRL Lilith Fair tribute show. Candle holder is Ashleigh Nicole Smith as Lilith and a helpful audience member who “Had a light for the Goddess,” as I requested. Photo by The Think Theater Queer Photography.

I like the idea that prayer is asking the Goddess questions and meditation is where you receive the answers. I had a lover who meditated differently–she treated it as a discussion with the universe and did a kind of question and answer. So when we meditated together I’d be keeping my mind blank and she’d be talking to the universe. But it was actually still really helpful to share energy in that way, and mutually pretty calming. Lots of my friends swear by group meditation or pair meditation.

I hope that some of these suggestions help encourage folks to do some meditating. Kelli Jean Drinkwater told me “Self care stretches time,” and I’m hoping that this Winter I can meet the demands of some impending emotional difficulties with an arsenal of self care and peaceful, meditative times.

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2013-09-03

Five Ways I’ve Learned to Embrace the Velocity of Change

A few years ago a friend of mine suddenly got a girlfriend. We were besties and spent a lot of time together, so I wondered why I was feeling weird about it. I was definitely happy for her, I liked her new beau and I was excited for her to get laid. I sat with the feelings for awhile and I realized what I was feeling was fear—specifically fear of change. I knew that changes in our friendship were bound to happen. We were both single and had a lot of nights free that we spent together. Eventually that situation changes.

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For this post I’m using photos from my Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip. I went on that when I needed to shake up the energy in my life.

I parceled it out and realized that the changes were really triggering my fear of abandonment. My parents divorced when I was 18 months old and my dad was mostly out of the picture while I was growing up. That’s a pretty classic recipe for adult fear of abandonment.

Once I could label that it gave me something to do on my side of the street. I could address my fear of abandonment without blaming or getting mad at my friend just for being happy. I don’t ever want to be mad at my friends for following their hearts and being happy! I want them to be happy. This fear of abandonment is something I’ve worked diligently to remove over the last several years, and it involves a lot of embracing the velocity of change.

I’ve noticed my friends going through a ton of big changes lately. Huge new jobs—dream jobs. Sudden moves. Losses of many kinds. A lot of them have gotten into romances in the last few weeks–it reminds me so clearly of that time where I thought I was going to lose my friend. I’m still having to remind myself often that I’ve weathered these kinds of friendship changes before and it is going to be okay.

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Being a hipster in Austin, TX at their monthly Femme night.

I’m positive all of these big changes aren’t just isolated to my friends. Since this is probably relevant to my readers, too, I thought I would do a round-up of some of the things I’ve learned along the way about embracing the velocity of change.*

1.Accept that change is part of living.

I like to remind myself that when things are changing and tranforming that I’m really living. The only constant in life is change. When I get a little dizzy with the “too much too soons” about change (because sometimes the good and the bad changes seem to happen in a flash without warning) I remind myself of that Pearl Jam song titled Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town. For some reason, when I was a fourteen year old devout Pearl Jam fan I heard that song and I would get so afraid that would be me—changed by not changing at all. And given how resistant I was to change at that age (and for many, many years after) it is a miracle I have gotten as far as I have.

I’m also the kind of person who initially resists even the little changes (I have feelings when my roommate moves around the appliances on our countertops), so my square one about change is generally negative. Accepting change as a constant has helped me hop away from that negative box faster than I used to.

Since change in life is a constant, accepting that as true—we cannot grip the happy times just as we cannot escape all the hard times—is actually a relief. When I’m having a shitty feeling I like to chant to myself, “Everything is temporary.” That helps.

Re-envisioning change as a good thing, a sign that my life is dynamic and magical, works for me.

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Having my cards read by a roaming psychic.

2. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Similar to the sentiment above, sometimes seeking out change is a really good thing. I’ve made big changes in my life before—I moved across the country at age 21. That was the first big thing I ever chose to do that forever altered the direction of my life. And it wasn’t my first choice, I really wanted to go to law school at my alma mater but I didn’t get in. Rather than hang out another year in Davis and re-apply I just bit the bullet and moved to Camden, NJ.

This was absolutely the best thing I did for myself at that young age. Without friends, a sense of safety or comfort, I really had to learn who I was. And I found myself. The year after I moved I started identifying as queer, made peace with my body and learned that femme was a thing you could be and it was awesome. I don’t know how long those changes would have taken if I’d never moved. I don’t know if those changes would have ever happened! I had no idea how resilient I was until I had to be.

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Slow dancing with that dreamboat Jessie Dress.

3. Small changes are good practice for the big ones.

Despite my desire to see change as a good thing, I remain a contented, homebody earth sign. I am so comfortable with things I’m familiar with I have to consciously seek out the discomfort of change. I try to push myself once a month to go to an event that’s out of my scene, I encourage myself to do new stuff. The weird panic I feel even for something as small as taking an unfamiliar subway stop is actually great practice for the big changes I have no control over. The tiny panics are prep. And once I’ve done it once it expands my worldview just a little bit more.

I also like to instigate change just to shake up my energy. Moving things around in my room, doing a purge of a drawer, slightly changing my hair, getting a piercing or a tattoo, going on a trip, these all help me feel change energy in order to shift my perspective on my life.

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Macy interacting with some chickens.

4. Remember all the times I weathered change.

When I started getting that panic about, “OMG the summer is ending and all of my besties are in relationships and I am going to spend all of my Saturday nights alooooooone,” it was helpful to stop and remind myself I’ve been through this before. Some friends just bail when they start dating something. That’s not about me at all. (You know, when they become the “I have to check ‘our schedule’ friends.” And the friends I have now slipped in there for the friends who slipped away. It’s the ebb and flow of life. My closest friends, our relationships have weathered a ton of changes. Including long stretches of not talking or moving long distances. But those are the kinds of friendships where you can pick up the phone and it’s as though no time has passed at all.

I’ve realized I never know what a friendship is going to look like when it starts and it is only time that tells me whether it will endure the shifts in our lives.

Just like friendships, I’ve gone through a ton of other changes that, at first, felt like a huge crisis but eventually became great opportunities. The whole memoir I’m writing is basically about how I weathered some tremendous changes in my life. (My wedding was called off six months out, I lost my job of five years and six months later was forced out of my apartment.) The good thing about those changes was (spoiler alert) I learned how resilient I am.

When I got laid off again by a small business I worked at for a three years, I learned it definitely gets easier the second time around. Applying this even to unfamiliar change is really helpful to shift my perspective from fear to curiosity. I don’t know what life is bringing me with each new change, but I know I have a choice about how I look at it.

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We were in Louisiana long enough to stop for gas and this photo at a rest stop. Definitely need to get back there and do NOLA!

5. Use your shitty feelings to teach you about yourself.

As someone who likes to learn and grow, I’ve found that often my shitty feelings are trying to teach me something about myself. Like how my panic around my bestie getting booed up taught me about my fear of abandonment, often there’s a lesson in my resistance to change.

Leaning into the shitty feelings is something I learned from my life coach when I was being life coached by Lynnee Breedlove. He told me once that if you imagine shitty feelings like an ocean wave that going through them is the best way to get to the other side. (Rather than fight them or just get out of the ocean altogether.) He said he likes to send up a prayer of “Thanks” whenever he’s facing a yucky change, reminding him to stay in gratitude.

I’ve got a couple of book recommendations. One is by SARK, a thought leader I enjoy who writes playful and deep books. Glad No Matter What: Transforming Loss and Change into Gift and Opportunity is an amazing book! SARK details a year where she lost a partnership, the death of her mother and her beloved cat companion. She walks through the process of turning these losses into opportunities to grow. It’s playful and deep and taught me a lot about learning how to embrace changes as they come. There are a ton of questions to ask yourself, workbook style. But even the narrative alone, if you’re not ready for the work, is worth the read.

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At Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium in Atlanta.

For the spiritually inclined, I also really enjoy Transitions by Julia Cameron. She wrote the Artist’s Way, so when I saw this in a tiny twelve step bookstore I visited when I was traveling cross country I snatched it up. Lately I’ve been reading the bite size reflections on change before I go to bed. It’s really amazing perspective on the good elements of change that we often can’t see through our pain. I like it a lot. It’s non-denominational and talks about God in the Spirit/higher power sense.

The result of my friend getting booed up years ago? We drifted apart. But it wasn’t nearly as hurtful or catastrophic as my panic at the time acted like it would be. I weathered the changes in our friendship and I’m confident I’ll keep weathering all the new changes my friendships have to offer.

*I am borrowing this term from an affirmation in Badass Resilience: Black and Brown Femme Survivor Love and Desire Affirmations by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and Keisha Williams.

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.

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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!

2013-03-27

Blue Bottle Ritual With Spunky: Letting Go of the Old and Womanifesting the New

Nearly fifteen years ago I was working as a camp counselor at a Girl Scout Camp and met this blonde girl who annoyed me. I perceived her to be totally cliquish, shallow and ridiculous. A couple of weeks into camp (and in camp time that’s a lifetime) something shifted and suddenly we bonded over a candy necklace and became close friends. It was years before we realized we were soul mates* but we were certainly BFF right away. Spunky is the closest thing to a sister I have and, these days, through the magic of google video chat, I spend more time with her than 90% of the people I know in New York City.

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This is what Spunky and I look like now.

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This is what we looked like at 19 on “twin day” where either we dressed like twins on purpose or it was a dress your counselor dinner and we let our girls dress us like twins.

Part of being camp counselors is participating in a lot of non-consensual woo. I totally didn’t identify it as woo at the time (and balked at all forms of religion and spirituality), but having been a lifelong Girl Scout, I really knew how to plan rituals and ceremonies chock full of meaning for our girls.

Spunky and I used our current spirituality and past Girl Scout training to design a ritual recently that I thought might help some of my blog readers who are interested in getting energy unstuck.

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This was the first place I ever felt at “home” on a stage. Now being on stage is part of how I pursue my mission in life. Camp really gives kids and young adults life long learnables.

One thing that counselors had done for me in the past that I loved was giving the gift of a blue bottle. There’s a song about it. It’s a little blue bottle that you keep to remind you of summer’s energy, it’s a great gift at a Scout’s Own or a CIT graduation ceremony. I was CIT Director the summer Spunky and I met, and I gave her a blue bottle of her own during one of the ceremonies advancing my girls. I still have the blue bottle I received and it lives on my altar. Whenever Spunky and I do tarot readings over video chat we each grab ours to help us connect.

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One of my friends killed a rattlesnake under that platform tent!

It’s kind of eerie how much energy we mirror back to one another. Often we’ll have the same kind of action going on in our love lives at the same time, though she’s straight and I’m queer and our relationships look different than one another they are still often similar lessons and emotional journeys.

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This is the spot where we shared that candy necklace and became friends!

When I was coming to California for Thanksgiving a few months ago, we decided to create a ritual to womanifest some new direction for us in our thirties. The blue bottles we had were about who we were in our late adolescence and foolish twenties. Now we wanted something to redirect our energy towards what we wanted in our adult post-Saturn Return lives. We also decided to go to the most magical spot we could think of, which happened to be the waterfall on a trail just past the buildings of the camp where we first met.

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Maybe we sweet talked a caretaker in letting us wander the trail through camp.

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My spirituality is pretty grab bag, based on the premise that there is good orderly direction in the universe, a feminine divine that is inclusive of all genders, and deep connection and appreciation for the natural world. Rituals are great and I use them a lot in small ways to help me connect to the Goddess.

Rituals are a way to bind the magic of a particular event. They are a way of ordering your thoughts and pointing you in a particular direction. There are prescribed spells and rituals out in books and on the internet, which can be a helpful framework to start. I much prefer to hear about them first hand from people who have used them before. I find I am pretty good at making meaning out of things and it works more intensely if I just put intention into what I’m doing, regardless if it is a prescribed ritual or I’m just making it up. When designing my ritual with Spunky, I just set about making meaning.

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I totally said a prayer of protection for all the fat and/or awkward kids that will have to participate in this ropes course! Adolescent nightmare!

It was Spunky’s idea to get blue bottles again. We looked all over the Haight (I was staying in the Castro) thinking there would be a head shop or something with tiny bottles but nothing in our price range. We ended up finding them at the exact same Cost Plus in Marin County I used to buy blue bottles for my CITs. We got these great jars intended for spices that actually had blue lids in them.

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We created an altar space with all of the elements of our ritual.

We also bought some things that were symbolic of what we wanted to womanifest to put into the bottle. I got us some purple fluorite, which helps enhance third eye vision, balance and seeing truth behind illusion. We bought these shark teeth for strength. We put in these flowers I found on the ground when we were wandering the Haight at a particularly magical moment “in the flow,” to remind us to keep seeking the natural flow of life. (We both struggle with patience.) When we got onto the camp grounds we each grabbed an acorn (symbolizing kids), a tiny rock from the waterfall and some lichen because I’ve always thought lichen was really rad and it’s a good symbol of light and dark and working together with opposing elements to find balance.

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In the flow on the Haight.

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We also went to a fabric store to buy ribbon to do a binding for the handle of the bottle. I had read about doing magic with braiding–just by braiding something together and meditating on it you are able to infuse that thing with energy. So we each bought three strands of ribbon that symbolized things that we wanted in a life partnership. Mine are a purple fuzzy ribbon (spiritual connection and warmth), a green piece of lace (growing together and openness), and a black studded patent leather ribbon (for hot sex and good style). We each bought a piece of black netting to put around the bottle.

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During our ritual, which was using our energy together in a space that had a lot of meaning to us. We opened it by burning some mugwort for dream/manifesting energy and playing music on Spunky’s iphone. If this were a Scout’s Own I would have had everyone singing some song but we had a lot of Indigo Girls on her iPhone so that’s what we used. We cleansed our stones, put them in the bottle, said some meaningful things, wrote out things we wanted to let go of from our twenties that no longer served us, burned those pieces of paper and let the ashes flow down the waterfall, wrote out womanifestation prayers about our lives and our future life partners, put everything in the bottles, braided our ribbons and tied everything up.

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Spunky wrote this prayer a couple of weeks before in a text message to me and transcribed it to her bathroom mirror and we bound it into our bottles.

It was really special to do this with Spunky at the place where we first met in this lifetime.** Katie, from Empowering Astrology, has suggested to use the power of the Uranus/Pluto square to co-create, and the time is especially auspicious now with this full moon to do use our energy to shift things and clear out emotional clutter.

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*I believe that soul mates come in all kinds, both romantic and non, and sometimes they start out romantic and become not romantic. One of my closest soul mates is more than a friend to me but there really isn’t a word in the English language to describe what we mean to each other.
**Spunky’s energy healer says we’ve been connected since Atlantis. A past life reader I had a session with told me Spunky and I exist to mirror unconditional love to one another on our journeys.

2013-03-15

Astrology Q & A with Katie Sweetman of Empowering Astrology

After I posted about my astrological chart reading with Katie Sweetman of Empowering Astrology, I received a really interesting comment* to my blog that I thought made a really great follow-up post about “the whole astrology thing.” Also, Katie’s comments are a bit more of a background to what a natal chart is and why it matters. Hopefully Katie’s words will help folks understand a little more about what Astrology is and what it can do. (And, as an aside, I’ve had enough experiences with having agitation, unsettled emotions or strong emotions with no triggers and found out something was going on planetary that lined up far too accurately for me to totally buy astrology as a concept. Monster moon of 2012, you were bananas for this Capricorn.)

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Me and some of my favorite faeries, Dusty and Quito.

Hi Bevin, I just discovered your blog and I absolutely love it! You are beautiful and amazing and very inspiring for this shy femme. This blog is like a breath of fresh air. 🙂

I’m really curious about astrology, but there are a few things I just cannot get over. All of the planets and stars are too far away to actually impact us. Mercury doesn’t go backwards when it’s in retrograde. I’m more inclined to say that the moon can throw things out of wack just because it is close enough to actually impact the Earth.

So, how do these planetary movements affect us? Do they tug on our brains? I don’t believe in a soul, I believe in brain chemistry and neurons, do you have to believe in a soul in order for astrology to have an impact on you?

I’ve been going to counseling for a year now and I’d like to think I’m open to other self-care and therapy methods, I’m even open to the idea that people born at a certain time of year have certain traits. I’d love to get an astrological reading just to explore my life but I don’t know if I can get past its very foundations. I just don’t know how the movements of the solar system can affect our emotions, because I’ve never seen an explanation as to why/how they do.

I get that you are not an astrologer, I don’t want you to feel like I’m putting you on the spot or anything, I was just wondering what your thoughts are about the purely physical aspects of the planets and their relationship to our bodies.

–Lindy

Here is what Katie had to say in response:

So I was mulling over the questions posed by your commenter. They are not new questions; they’re usually the ones countered at an astrologer by the incredulous. But they deserve a thoughtful reply.

Astrology isn’t for everyone and I’ve never been interested in being the one who tries to defend it to skeptics. For many, the mere mention of astrology brings derision and belief that anyone who thinks it’s real is either stupid or worse, a charlatan. I’m never going to convince those people nor do I want to. It would be a waste of energy.

But for those willing to entertain the idea of astrology, the standard argument I make is that astrology is more than what you read in a newspaper column. Sun sign astrology as it is known is watered down astrology — astrology reduced to its most basic components. So if that isn’t real astrology, then what is? And why is something at least four thousand years old still relevant in this day and age?

Astrology is a symbolic language. Using symbols and mythology, it tells the story of you — your wants, your needs, your desires, your ambitions, and some the most intimate corners of your existence. I don’t know why astrology works, but it does. I wouldn’t keep consulting it for my own development and using it with clients if I didn’t see it foster amazing insight and healing.

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From the Winter Solstice Rebel Cupcake. Photo Credit: Kelsey Dickey.

I think astrology is less the physical influence of the planets and more their symbolic influence. Lost somewhere in the haze of time was the discovery that the movements of the heavens reflect life both here on earth and our internal life. “As above, so below” is the old hermetic axiom. Astrology is still relevant because it helps us peek into our psyche and understand why we act certain ways and see the mechanism behind certain behaviors. Psychologist Carl Jung was a proponent of astrology as he saw it was a way to get to the root of neuroses.

You don’t have to believe in a soul to find astrology relevant. But I think you need to believe in something outside of this existence. There has to be room for magic or a hunger to known yourself on a deeper level. Even if we’re just carbon and molecules and neurons, it would be a dull life to not want to make the best of our time here in our bodies. It’s the same impulse that makes us want to explore the world or explore space in rocket ships. It’s this sense that there’s something out there waiting to be discovered if we’d only start the journey. And it’s the same impulse that takes us to counseling — the impulse to heal and know ourselves on a more intimate level. Astrology and the natal chart acts as the map that takes us forward.

Thanks Katie for your compassionate and thoughtful answer! If you’re interested in getting a reading from Katie you can contact her here, check out her amazing blog or follow Empowering Astrology on Facebook for great information about what the stars have in store for us.

*As an aside, I also got a hilarious comment from someone on twitter that they had hoped that I would tell more of the juicy tidbits about my reading with Katie! If you want to know, some of the highlights are that I have had my voice stifled in past lives and my individuality and voice is really important to use in this lifetime. It is likely I would live abroad/very far from my family, and Katie said it was likely that me living 3,000 miles from my family now is a version of that. Also, I have a lot of planets in Scorpio. My moon in Scorpio means I demand authenticity in my interpersonal relationships. In April or May I’m going to get some big insight into changes about where I want to go.

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