Bevin's Blog I'm blogging the relentless pursuit of my joy

2021-10-18

Getting Out Ahead of Seasonal Depression

It’s that time of year again! Where I live we are losing three minutes of light per day! Rapidly approaching Winter, long nights already begun, big storms, cloudy days.

I’ve been dealing with seasonal depression / seasonal affective disorder my entire life! I didn’t identify it until I lived on the East Coast, and thought it was the cold and the dark that affected my mood.

My mom shared with me after I moved to Los Angeles and I realized I was still coming up against SAD that when I was little I was incredibly “grumpy” in the Winter. I was also incredibly depressed my entire teens and most of the time growing up so I didn’t identify the different, enhanced struggles in the Winter.

Once I had more mental health awareness, tools and self care I have floated in and out of different depression and anxiety struggles as an adult but the seasonal is easier to identify.

I deeply thought that moving to LA was going to kick my SAD. “What if all my self care from October through April wasn’t just to fight SAD, how great could my quality of life be?” I wondered naively.

Prevention is the best defense against SAD and I have some of my best self care tips for SAD to give you now. Enhanced by my further studies living in Washington State so close to Canada I can see it on a clear day.

I hope these help you to care for yourself more gently in the coming season and spark ideas for your self care. I am not a medical professional and all of this is presented as information only! Use at your own risk!

UV Light!

Also called “SAD Lamps” these mimic the UV rays of the sun, vital to Vitamin D production and feelings of joy. I use mine for 15-30 minutes in the morning. I love to sleep and I don’t like my sleep disturbed, so early day UV rays are better for all those natural rhythms. I have had several but my current one is a lil gal that sits on my desk and stores easily in my small home.

This is the lamp I use now. All of the Amazon links here give me a small commission (3% or so) at no cost to you, but I do encourage you to buy from small businesses when you can because your purchase with them feeds a family rather than putting Bezos into space. But if you’re buying from him anyway I love that 3% it helps buy get audio books. Anything you buy from Amazon after clicking a link to them on my website earns me that commission.

Go Outside!

Our human bodies need to be moving outdoors for two hours a day. I’m obsessed with the physiology of high performance since I weave it into Fat Kid Dance Party aerobics so much and when I learned this it made a lot of sense.

Our brains and bodies have evolved differently. Our bodies believe we’re still in the 1700s living that farmer life. Being outside and moving is what our bodies wanna do even when our brains don’t. That’s self care, doing what you don’t wanna do now so that you’ll feel better later.

When I lived in the NYC snow life, I’d go out at least 20 minutes at noon to get as much light into my walk as possible. Now that I have access to many acres of old growth forest I go for at least 1 probably 2 hours most days, even when the weather is yucky. It makes a big difference in my overall well-being year round.

I’m obsessed with Big Leaf Maples.

Movement

Tying into the outside time is also moving your body! Even five minutes of dancing helps raise your spirit.

Blood flow to the brain helps! If you’re a yoga person don’t skip the inversion. Legs up the wall is my fav chill inversion.

Supplements!

Turns out, I actually had a lot of nutrient deficiencies for most of my life that have affected my brain’s functioning and last Winter–2020-21–I had the easiest, least SAD affected Winter of my life. During a global pandemic in a very cold and dark place!

The right quality supplements made the biggest difference. I had off and on used supplements from the drug store that weren’t effective in a way I could feel. I now use a super high quality source from a company that has their own organic farms and high quality fish.

Fish oil made the biggest difference in my brain. When I have more cash I want to try doubling how much I take and see if it is even better in there. I truly hate eating fish so this is why I think finding the right supplement (that doesn’t taste fishy) has been such a game changer for me.

I take a memory vitamin with ginko and cistanche. Blood flow to the brain helps with mood!

My doctor has me on 2,000% of the RDA of Vitamin D and I take a mushroom based supplement for that along with calcium and magnesium to prevent migraines. Fat folks need more Vitamin D than thin folks!

And Vitamin D is what a lot of studies show keep you out of the hospital with that deadly virus that is going around. (In that vein I take a lot of Vitamin C and Zinc and wear a mask outside of my quarantine pod to support immunity.)

Lipstick / Getting Dressed

I’ve been working from home primarily since 2008. It can be really easy to never get dressed or look cute. But honestly, taking that shower, getting dressed and for me putting on lipstick makes a giant impact on my mood. Especially through the pandemic, as I get ready for my daily walk I usually add lipstick and straighten my bangs because it makes me feel good.

For you it might be a special essential oil or perfume, or doing your hair or whatever. Notice when you’re in a particularly good mood and assess how you can recreate those conditions for yourself on the blah days. It’s a lot easier to start all this SAD prevention before you feel too depressed to shower or groom yourself so before you get out of the habit of doing it and slide deep into that place, consider your best defense a good offense. If you want! There’s nothing morally wrong about being in that place either, you don’t owe anyone your mental health.

Essential Oils!

Mood boosting oils I love include orange, geranium, peppermint, patchouli and lavender for chill. Connect to your friend who sells them and support a small business. I like them diffused, in carrier oils on elbow pits and wrists, or if food grade in a lil hot chocolate!

Resting More!

Our bodies are naturally attuned to light and when it’s more dark they want to rest more! I think a big difference in my experience of SAD is not beating myself up for needing more rest! I think a lot of my depression was anger pointed toward myself for not meeting my unrealistic expectations of myself.

I have been meditating a long time, from a shitty inconsistent meditator to a daily sometimes three times daily meditator. What it’s done for me is conditioned me to be a neutral observer of my body and brain. I can notice, “Oh my body needs more rest,” without the cavalcade of negative thoughts and beating myself up.

I’m not a “busy” person, I am a highly prioritized person running two businesses. It could be nuts / I could be nutes but instead I’m measured and neutral about my body and her cues.

I prioritize my body and what she needs and letting go of beating myself up for not being “productive” took me many years and I’m grateful for that fruit in my life today. Self care is learning how to speak to yourself with kindness and compassion.

So I rest more! Winter means more puzzles and books and longer sleep. Though I have been grieving a lot this past year which also means my body needs more rest so I’ve already been long sleeping.

I finally left quarantine to go camping with my friends. I was as safe as I could be to prevent the virus but I did take my chances by hugging 12+ times a day. Touch hunger! Mimi gives great hugs and makes great care packages! DM her!

Connection!

Humans need connection! Like a physiological need! And yes I’m totally touch hungry living alone in the woods but I do make it a point to connect with at least 3 people a day (my new goal is 10).

A connection vs saying hi and walking by is all about intention and inquiry. Am I being interested or interesting in a conversation? They don’t need to take very long but it’s worth it. I genuinely notice a difference in my body and mood on days I’ve had my three connections.

If you live with other humans or have a quarantine pod that hugs, try hugging 12+ times a day. I recently read that’s what it takes to truly thrive!

Plant Medicine

I love plants that help me heal and return to myself and my connection to Source/the Goddess. I love using Cannabis to boost my mood (especially citrus strains) and I have been using psilocybin to prevent depression to great effect (including over last Winter). More on my podcast episode about my experience using psilocybin.

I hope these are helpful tips! I don’t have the resources to monitor comments here but if you have other ideas or want to nerd out about supplements with me send me an email fatkiddanceparty at gmail! Love you! Hope you invest in feeling better this Winter because you deserve to feel good.


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2021-09-05

Debbie Harry and the Owls

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Bevin @ 2:19 pm

Every single day I leave my house, whether I want to or not, to go on a walk in the forest. Typically it’s during Golden Hour so I can connect to the sunset and am most likely to see banana slugs if they grace me with their presence.

I am always listening to music on a bluetooth speaker because there are cougars, coyotes, bears and other predators I don’t want to run into and I think they’ll avoid me if they hear me coming. They don’t want to run into me, either.

Yesterday as I was entering the forest from my neighborhood Heart of Glass by Blondie started playing. I thought about the first time I was at a party with Debbie Harry.

They just kept passing out free drinks! It was like Wonderland!

I was 29 years old in New York City and at my first celebrity party. Many years before I adopted the mantra “I belong in every room I walk into” (THANK YOU Myleik Teele for this gem and everything you have taught me). I was STUNNED to be in that room but loved every minute.

It was a party celebrating the opening of Cathy Opie’s mid-career retrospective at the Guggenheim and my group wasn’t technically on the list for the after party but we knew people who were there who said we should come to the bar at the Maritime hotel.

Hot party tip for post-pandemic times–if you show up looking cute and say the right names to the door person they might let you in. We got in! I saw Debbie Harry, a childhood idol! John Waters was there, too. I was very very excited.

My friend Silas Howard in front of a portrait of him from Cathy’s exhibit at the Guggenheim!

Cell phone photos were bad at that time and I don’t take pics of celebs without their consent but just seeing cool folks I recognized who made work I admired was a thrill.

Back to last night. I walk into the forest having had that memory. A little down the path I heard the first few bars of James’ Laid and started dancing–I startled a big bird that flew across my path.

Instead of disappearing into the woods it landed on a branch nearby and watched me. Well, we watched each other for ten minutes. It didn’t seem to care that I danced and played music. I took grainy cell phone photos. She was as into spying on me as I was marveling at getting to see her.

She moved her head around with that adorable flat face. I don’t know what kind she was, much smaller than the only other owl encounter I’ve had in the forest (a Great Horned Owl–freaking HUGE).

It was magical. I was radiating joy at seeing her.

It occurred to me that I felt as thrilled to see an owl in nature as I was to see Debbie Harry at a party. And between living in NYC and LA I’ve been to more parties with Debbie Harry than I’ve encountered owls in the wild.

My goal is to encounter way more owls and maybe post pandemic sometime just have a conversation with Debbie if she’s into it. Never any pressure. I’m the gal at the party in the far corner having conversations not mingling in the crowd. Big crowds are not my thing anymore.

It is my practice to set an intention for my forest walks, usually it’s to get to joy and wonder. In a pandemic when the world is falling apart, healthcare systems are collapsing and the government is abandoning the most vulnerable, this practice is truly about exercising my own mental and emotional strength so that I may continue in my work tomorrow.

I believe that when we feel joy, we enable the universal consciousness to use our energy to empower others. Like a battery on a Prius replaces the need for fossil fuel in a hybrid engine. Little kids radiate joy all the time like this–they are closer to the consciousness than most of us. As grown-ups we lose our play and our curiosity if we don’t cultivate it.

Your suffering alleviates nothing for others. Your joy is inspiration to others to find theirs. Prayer and joy are frequently the most powerful thing we have to offer in a world turned upside down so it might come together in a better more sustainable way.

We did not come here to fix a broken world. We came here to create the world of our dreams.


If you find value in this blog or in my work in the world, please consider supporting!
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2021-08-19

How I’m Preparing for the Virtual Glowing Goddess Getaway Retreat This Weekend

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bevin @ 3:37 pm
I love that our staff shirts at the GGG are so dope! This is Oregon 2019!

Since we cannot meet safely in person due to Covid spikes and wildfire air quality, we have pivoted entirely virtual for this weekend’s Glowing Goddess Getaway.

The GGG, for those who aren’t familiar, is a women’s self care cannabis retreat. We use cannabis as a medical and spiritual connective tool. In October 2018 I attended my first retreat as a Goddess Guide, teaching my Cannacize aerobics class. (Fat Kid Dance Party aerobics with slower more repetitive choreography to accompany an optional cannabis experience.)

Within the first 24 hours I was hooked. I knew this was the multi-generational sisterhood I had been craving since the one I poured fourteen years into had dismantled in 2015.

The GGG operates by five high standards: Self Love, Empathy, Inclusivity, Good Fun and Mindfulness. I knew from Deidra sharing about them at the opening session that these were my people.

2019 was the worst year of my life. To say that I survived from Getaway to Getaway is not hyperbole. When I had suicidal thoughts (frequently) I would tell myself just make it to the next Getaway. These women were a light for me in a very dark time. I was so privileged to serve at multiple getaways both as a Goddess Guide teaching classes and getting to run shifts at the glow bar. I could see the divinity in me and how I was unfolding in the reflection of how these women connected with me. The glow up from a Getaway is very real and very revealing. (In good and sometimes hard but worth it ways.)

In 2020 I was so excited for our big tour, but sadly it was canceled because of the global pandemic. We kept connected as a sisterhood through daily Instagram Live sister seshes and did a mini retreat on facebook live. But as cannabis is still a stignmatized plant it is an uphill battle to get us really connecting in those Zuckerberg owned places.

Beginning June 2021 we started virtual retreats! They have been the balm I’ve needed in this wacky time! I’m on Week 74 of a pretty serious quarantine. I still wear masks and socially distance around other vaccinated people. I have a lot of privilege to work from home and I’m grateful.

Getting to have my cannasisterhood in my computer one weekend a month has been such a soul healing!

I have learned a lot from teaching at and attending the virtual retreats these past two months and I wanted to share how I am preparing for it so I can get the most out of what is offered. Do what works for you so that you can get the most out of your virtual retreat experience!

Our retreats are recorded but there’s nothing like being in the room when it happens! (And it takes awhile for the recordings to become available.) But maybe you have a different weekend with availability and you want to use a past recorded virtual retreat as your guide. I think these tips are helpful regardless if you’re watching live or a recording.

  1. Time blocking! I live by my calendar and I’m incredible accountable to what I say I’ll do if I have it in the calendar. I know our time slots together are (Pacific time) Friday 2-5PM and 7-8:30PM; Saturday 10AM-12, 2-5PM and 7-8:30PM; Sunday 10AM-12. It’s in my calendar and I’m ready to go. I also teach my weekly Zoom FKDP aerobics class so I have it scheduled during one of our breaks. Everything else I need to do I’m accounting for and putting it in the breaks. If you’re setting yourself up for a future virtual retreat and you need childcare, arrange it! These virtual retreats work really well to glow up if you can give it your focus and not be doing laundry or a bunch of other things. I am also planning each day to go on my daily nature walk and time set aside for the behaviors I need to support my ongoing mental health.
  2. Care for self and others! During the July virtual retreat I had a mountain of dishes I didn’t finish. I forget why but mostly just not organized enough to get it done ahead of time. Regrets! It made it more chaotic for me in my house and thus not as able to be centered and focused on attending. This time I’ve made sure I’m caught up on dishes and disciplined to get them done once a day, I’m going to vacuum and straighten up before it starts. I decided laundry can get done next week and made sure I had what I needed clean. I also learned from previous couple of virtual retreats that committing to anything else during a virtual retreat means I miss time with my cannasisters and I really value the time together and don’t want to do that again.
  3. Food! This is really the same as caring for myself and making sure I have what I need to have the best experience. I didn’t get snacks before the June getaway and I regretted it. This time I’m meal planning and grabbing what will delight me and be easy to prepare so I don’t need to spend a bunch of time to make it happen. Food is one of the biggest things I miss about our in person getaways–Sailene is one of the best hostesses I’ve ever met and I’ve never gone hungry, she always has the dietary needs handled. So I think about the food joy from the in person getaway and replicate that in an easy for me manner at home.
  4. Cannabis! Obviously we use this as a tool to connect. I love having a variety on hand and recently ran out entirely! I made sure I went to the dispensary and am set up for what I want to be ready for this weekend. Also thinking through if there’s a smoking implement I want to use that needs to be cleaned. Cleaning pieces is part of the ritual of cannabis use and as much as I fantasize about a weed fairy coming through and cleaning and prepping everything for me, in these pandemic times I am my own weed fairy. I don’t want to miss a session because I couldn’t focus because I needed to clean my bong, you know?
  5. Outfits! Probably not a high priority for some but I like wearing cute things and being a visual delight. My favorite part of Festival culture is about the self expression of an outfit parade! It occurred to me that prepping for this virtual I could go into my storage and pull out some of my fun stuff and keep it interesting. On one of our recent 4:20PM sister seshes on the GGG Discord, I was hanging out with Funisha & Jenelle while I was sorting through my outfit storage. I love having a productive hang out!
  6. People! Do you have a local cannasister you want to get together with? Do you want to invite someone you wanna quarantine pod with together and watch the virtual together? I have always imagined our virtual events being attended by pods, and making a plan for that is something to consider! Mindie had her friend staying with her for the July retreat and it was really fun! This time around I’m solo but considering it for the future.
  7. Craft supplies! I’ve done the worst at this so far but prepping what I need for the follow along crafts is helpful! Whenever I don’t have paint and canvas I end up working on a puzzle while listening to the soothing voice of Mindie teaching painting! I’m very excited to plan well enough to have supplies. The easiest way to do this is to subscribe to our getaway in a box level on Patreon and then everything is sent to you!

Hopefully these help someone out there! I love to connect in these virtual retreats, and especially love getting to learn new things about myself and others. What’s true about both the in-person retreats and the virtuals is that I learn something new about myself or my purpose in the universe every time. I also make new friends and deepen established friendships.

I love serving this cannasisterhood and I cannot wait to see what the next 10 years is going to look like for us especially as we’re rooting ourselves into the digital part of our connections right now.

If you’re curious what a getaway is like, we have a free retreat available on the GGG Facebook! I’ll put up a follow up post so you have a program and more guidance to follow along. But the best way to connect is to join the GGG Patreon to join our Discord community. We have different levels of participation including for $42 a month a “getaway in a box” which is so packed with value it’s worth more than $42.

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2021-08-17

I’m Not Engaged but I had an Online Bachelorette Party Anyway and Here’s How it Went

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Bevin @ 7:58 pm

If you’ve hung around my blog or social media for awhile you probably know that I’ve been engaged a couple of times. (For those who have been around a really long time you might remember both of those characters!)

Both times I was planning weddings I never felt super inspired to have a Bachelorette party.

Truthfully, I was wildly overwhelmed finalizing a guest list for the wedding, let alone all the sub wedding events that tradition dictates.

I got to the point on the second go-around that I was going to do an invite everyone and take RSVPs til we were at capacity and then do a wait list. I know that sounds tacky to some of you (good thing I don’t really care what people think). My friendships mean a lot to me and I know folks have weird schedules and things come up so it was the way I tried to make it easy for me and for them.

When the second wedding was called off, I thought it was a fun idea to have a bachelorette party while I was still single. When it was a party that would matter to me and a fun celebration of singlehood. And I’m pretty burnt out on being engaged and next time I’m here for a swift engagement. No bachie.

The one big vision I had when I was planning that wedding was t-shirts! I didn’t want “bride squad” shirts I wanted them to say just my name–Bevin. A little Bevin team shirt. (They exist now!)

I had originally hoped that in 2020 I would have a bunch of cute little Bachelorette parties. I was going to go on tour and try to get folks together here and there as I could. Friend reunions! Maybe get some of my pals who now use cannabis to join me at the Glowing Goddess Getaway self care retreats. For me a perfect Bachelorette weekend IS a GGG, simply because relaxation, self care and good fun make for my ideal weekend.

But 2020 happened the way it did, all tours were called off and I was left wondering if maybe I could do an online Bachelorette party. That way, everyone can come, no one has to pay to travel or take out a whole weekend. A couple of hours, some good performances and connection time felt great to me!

I know something isn’t just a passing idea but it’s really something I want to do when it feels like unfinished business. This idea popped around in my brain for over a year!

To be honest, in 2019 I actually needed a Divorce Shower* but I was too emotionally overwhelmed to ask for what I needed. So in 2021 when I was still thinking of this Online Bachelorette and facing a second pandemic June I thought it was a good time to do one.

I connected with my bestie Rachael, an event planner, community organizer and skilled at performative debauchery and we talked through the vision.

I wanted a short performance and then some hang out by the virtual campfire time. Rachael suggested I try a real online platform versus a zoom for professionalism and I happened to have a credit with EventHi an online ticketing site that has been producing tons of great online events all pandemic.

The initial performers came together pretty easily, my favorite drag king Johnny Kingpin (my drag dad from back when I did drag), my favorite performance poet Regie Cabico and my favorite sex ed instructor Ashley Manta the Cannasexual (TM) all said yes! Plus my friend Sailene was willing to do a centering meditation to kick it off and my friend Deidra was willing to do a blessing to close it out. They are both the founders of the Glowing Goddess Getaway and it felt super nourishing to have that energy in the virtual room.

I asked a few other folks to perform who had been meaningful to me during my career so far and got some no’s, but if you’re not hearing no you’re probably not asking enough.

I sent out a bunch of texts and emails to folks I love all over. I loved using EventHi because in addition to sending guest list invites to folks I could just put out the ticket link on my social media and anyone who felt like they wanted to could come through.

Is it a bummer when folks can’t come? Yes. Having planned two weddings and countless events I know that there will always be a few folks who feel essential who won’t be able to prioritize your event. You have to make the relationships more important than the event.**

Even the morning of the event my bestie Rach couldn’t make it because of internet issues. I didn’t sweat it because I just knew the event that was meant to happen would happen.

And it did! I had hired ASL interpreters because of a potential guest who needed them and even though she didn’t make it the interpreters made it really fun and performative online. I cannot recommend it enough for both accessibility and also another level of polish and fun for online events. I have an incredible ASL interpreter for Saturday Zoom Fat Kid Dance Party Aerobics and they were able to connect me to two really fun queer interpreters. Watching Ashley Manta do a pleasure based anatomy lesson with ASL interpretation was super rad.

I’m so grateful to everyone who attended and especially the first time Johnny Kingpin did a drag act in many many years. SO CUTE and fun! And if you like poetry and cookies, Regie Cabico has a Queer Cookies Cookbook out you’ll want to see.

The attendance wasn’t giant but honestly I prefer intimate events. I am comfortable on stage in front of thousands but I actually prefer parties with 10-12 folks max. I have grown to understand what I need more in this stage of my life (thank Goddess) and at the end of the event I felt so complete. Loved, connected and nurtured.

People even flirted during my party and went on a date and I love being part of creating connections. That’s a success!

I thought to myself after the event, “I’d rather have a huge turn out at Fat Kid Dance Party class than my Bachelorette! I’m glad I did it because I want someone else to feel permission to celebrate themselves unapologetically when they need it.” And I now have a video of the event to show my future spouse so they can meet my people!

The bachelorette shirts weren’t ready in time for the party but now they are! And you can buy one if you want to have Bevin emblazoned across your chest!

We can always connect socially distanced in real life or on a zoom sometime and celebrate the awesomeness of being (whether in a marriage relationship or not)!

*Divorce Showers make sense to me. When you’re getting married you’re typically combining two households. Maybe in a Bridal Shower you get stuff you want that upgrade you but when you’re divorcing you’re splitting one household into two and you actually need that stuff. And who’s in a great financial position when they’re getting divorced? I sure wasn’t. I think our society over emphasizes weddings and there’s so much pomp and circumstance for a series of events leading up to the wedding. I love pomp and circumstance but I also value relationships over events.

**My favorite definition for a Bridezilla is a bride who is making an event more important than the health of their relationships. I’m not that.

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2021-06-15

Mononymously Using the Name Bevin for Three Years and Here’s How It’s Going

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Bevin @ 10:34 pm

I reflected on my podcast last week with my friend Mayuri that I never blogged about dropping my last (and middle) name.

If SJP is back on set as Carrie Bradshaw I can sit at my little table looking out the front window of my home and resume blogging.

I formally adopted a “mononym” in 2018, right around this season. I didn’t even know that word at the time but I knew I had a deadline to decide what my name was going to be in the credits of my life’s greatest work so far.

At the time I was engaged to be married to who I believed was the love of my life! And whose last name ALSO happened to have a B initial so changing my last name but not initial would continue my charming but complicated triple B name.

Born Bevin Barbara B*****ham I wore a lengthy formal name well as a weird child. I hated how unusual my first name was, how no one could spell it. How I was frequently sorted by schools and summer camps into boy cabins because they thought my awesome gender neutral name was a boy name. I have frequently used the name Jenny at Starbucks.

I didn’t even like my paternal grandmother who I was middle named for! I absolutely ADORED my maternal grandmother whose name (Anise) would not have had the triple B initials and my mom said alliteration won out. I love alliteration, I am into it. My name was a good one for the first part of my life.

I changed my stage last name to a dramatic made-up version of my government last name in 2006. A weird former client when I was a lawyer printed out my Friendster profile and send it to the state ethics committee. (Gay hating? Or just an early adopter troll?)

I knew I immediately needed a strong barrier between my professional government name and the name I used when I threw queer nightlife parties, wrote opinionated blogs and all of my other colorful performance art.

My long complicated name Bevin Branlandingham on so many fliers! I just never loved the real estate it took up when I could maybe just go by Bevin? That always was in the back of my mind but I think it felt like taking up too much space to just use one name. IRONIC that less letters felt like more space.

Prince, Cher and Madonna were early examples to me of what was possible with a mononym AND a body of work to back it up. It felt like, of course they use one name they are icons. By 2018 I was starting to think about how it made me feel to not have a last name on things and the feeling was undeniable. It felt right, clean and wonderful.

At the time I was planning a wedding. And the idea of a bachelorette party felt like a wild hassle! I love getting together with friends but planning a wedding and running a small business are two consumptive things and I felt like a destination wedding was plenty for a bachelorette. The only thing I wanted was that moment where everyone is wearing a cute shirt that matches each other.

You know how at some bachelorettes there is a white tee shirt that says Bride and a different color shirt that says Bride Squad? I saw that for me except all the shirts just said “Bevin” on them in a cute barbie font. With a heart over the i. (How I prefer it written, if you’re asking, is with a heart over the i.)

So with all this swirling in my head I even went on facebook and asked if folks thought I should change my stage last name to my future government last name (my ex fiance’s B last name) OR if I should keep Brandlandingham OR if I should drop my other names entirely. Sometimes just talking it out with folks you love helps get clarity on what you really want. I really just wanted to go by one name!

I am SO GLAD I honored my gut instinct and used my mononym for the credits in the Fat Kid Dance Party aerobics video! I sure am glad I didn’t use my ex’s last name! (She is herself named in the credits–she was a big help on that production.)

Since 2018 I learned from queer ancestor & disco legend Sylvester what a mononym was. I have had to explain to multiple journalists “I don’t care what your editor will say, I really only use one name.” I have learned nearly every last name box is impossible to skip on the internet. I get a heart flip of joy when I see my name on a piece of mail with no perfunctory last name.

It makes me feel closer to Prince who I jokingly refer to as my “real dad.” Prince and Bevin are both 5 letters. He’s good at taking what makes him weird and advancing humanity. I study him on you tube a few times a week–dance moves, performativity and mindset.

It also feels undeniably good not having a middle or last name associated with people from whom I experienced violent abuse as a child.

Renaming is a form of reclaiming and I hope you’ll give my podcast with my friend Mayuri a listen. Their story of reclaiming their name is powerful.

One of my dearest longest friends designed a Bevin bachelorette shirt (four designs and styles to choose from) for anyone who wants to support me and delight me to purchase!

And everyone is invited to my online bachelorette party (kinda a campfire with toasts and a brief bit of drag, poetry and a lot of tender moments!

2021-05-13

I Couldn’t Help But Wonder… Was I Ready to Be VAXXSEEN?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Bevin @ 12:40 pm
This entire post is titled from a meme. Meet my friend Gregory Littlely on my podcast!

Today I’m officially two weeks post second vaccine shot.

Collectively we are in the Second Pandemic May. It feels biblical.

I am vexed by the ethics of this time; now that I’m fully vaxxed I still feel the weight of the responsibility of being a human in a global pandemic.

First of all, incredible privilege to get to have access to the vaccine at all. I was horrified with the way the US government dealt with allowing other countries to have access to the vaccines, wanting to prioritize profit for pharmaceutical companies over human life. This is one of the many reasons why we must get money out of politics and have publicly funded elections. The donor class is killing people.

I have privilege to be able to socially distance, to work from home by design, to have running water to wash my hands, immediate access to masks when they became mandated because my mom made me some. To live proximal to my mom enough that I can quarantine pod with her and her spouse Pat but with my own space to work and rest and cook. I love having a kitchen and still haven’t eaten out at a restaurant even outdoors yet.

Staying home and social distancing was always about protecting other folks; wearing a mask helps others more than it helps you. Just because I’m vaccinated doesn’t mean I can’t still carry and incubate the Corona. The CDC says as of today the following (and it changes so much!):

“What We Know

  • COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 disease, especially severe illness and death.
  • COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of people spreading COVID-19.”

So while others are going to big concerts, bars, parties, traveling for fun on airplanes, I’m still here wanting to do my part. In all my frustrated ruminations about this I made a Second Pandemic April playlist. If you haven’t had a tantrum dance to Corduroy by Pearl Jam since the pandemic began, I highly recommend.

The ethics of this time are exhausting.

I am a touring artist, that’s the bulk of how I make my living. I was able to pivot and focus on my Patreon page when the pandemic shut down my tour in 2020. But now I’m trying to figure out the ethics of going to events and traveling again.

What if I incubate some Washington variant of the virus and bring it to wherever I might go? Is it just too bad so sad to folks who haven’t yet gotten access to the vaccine? Children–like this unvaccinated child under 11 years old who died in Hawaii with his vaccinated parents? Who can’t afford to get out of work to get the shot? Who are too medically fragile to get the vaccine? On immune suppressing drugs that make the vaccine less effective? Who for whatever ethical reason aren’t getting it?

I just think about what I do and how it might affect the larger whole. I don’t want to spread something that could result in someone dying if I can prevent it by mindful lifestyle choices.

I also think about the ethics of gathering people in these times. Like going to a meal at a friend’s house with a small group of adults versus a large party.

Why not keep wearing masks most of the time until the spread of the virus is under control? I look at this map from the New York Times in their daily Coronavirus briefing email about how things are going in the world; it’s Second Pandemic May and the world continues to suffer from so many things (literal war! honor killings! just in the past week!) in addition to the pandemic.

I can’t even imagine the mental and emotional gymnastics parents have been going through in the past 14 months. In person school or no? Divorced co-parent not following CDC protocols putting multiple families at risk. So much out of your control.

During my second shot symptoms (the worst of mine lasted a full 30+ hours, with about a week and a half of lymph node swelling) I took a rare couple days of binge watching TV. I watched the recent season of Sister Wives on hulu and the agony they went through being a big family split into four homes dealing with harm reduction and social distance among siblings. I felt for them! And I also remember how little information we had back then at the outset of the pandemic and how much we still don’t really know.

We had a pizza party in my neighborhood (which is more than 90% vaccinated, mostly people are over 60 here) and I was the only one wearing a mask. Outdoors, not socially distant. But–easy to be socially distant if you’re willing to be the weirdo sitting on her own at a table. And willing to get up and move to another table if someone sits too close.

I’ve been a weirdo all my life, being a weirdo who is willing to move myself within a social gathering so I can feel more aligned with my values is not that hard anymore. It’s constantly my edge to continue to not care what people think of me. I care what I think of me.

I think 2021 Summer/Fall is about PRIORITIES, CONVERSATIONS and HARM REDUCTION. My polyamorous friends have been training for this for years, they know how to have these conversations and weigh the considerations of multiple people.

I have two communities that are my high priorities and I’m choosing to attend the Glowing Goddess Getaways in person this year. Covid safe, lots of protocols. Outside. Easy to spread out. Easy to find my space. I’m willing to be a weirdo in a mask and only be near other masked weirdos. I can drive, which is important to me since I don’t yet have private plane access and flying commercial feels like a little metal test tube in the sky filled with covid from around the world.

When I have a link for virtual getaways I’ll post here, but most of the GGG announcements happen on Instagram.

In person doesn’t start until August and I’m actually really excite for the digital getaways. Creating digital community and belonging is something I’m really passionately working on for Fat Kid Dance Party Aerobics and I hope to lend what I’m learning to the GGG.

Everything could be different by August. And also what if folks lie about being vaccinated? I always end up with more questions than answers.

I want to go see my people in Atlanta. I want to be able to go and stay with my vaccinated friends in easily contact traceable ways.

Oh dear Goddess if I could private plane and go to Dollywood masked, be outdoors and stay in a cabin I would do it in a heartbeat. (I’ve gone to Dollywood in my mind so many times when life post gay divorce the past couple years has worn on me.) But I’m still not sure how any of that happens.

I wanted to share some of my thoughts because I know there are others out there thinking similar things.

“That’s great for you; not for me” is a fav new expression (thanks Myleik!) and it sums up how I’m choosing to work on my own behavior versus caring what other people do.

When I spend time having an opinion about what other people are doing I’m draining my energy from the work I’m on this planet to do. I truly, truly do not care or judge what you decide to do. But I care about your life and the worthiness of your existence and wouldn’t want to be part of a chain of disease spread that could kill you or someone you love.

I’m calling my hair Quarantine Mermaid Hair and haven’t got a cut since February 2020. I got a great hair treatment I do a couple times a week to repair split ends and it’s been keeping my hair in great condition but at some point I am going to chop. I thought it would be a “yay pandemic is over” cut but that might not be the case.

2021-04-12

Where to find Bevin these days

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Bevin @ 9:48 pm

My blog is dusty and it’s been awhile. A friend of mine said in a throw away comment, “Blogging is dead,” and I kind of agreed with her.

It’s definitely not like it was. Attention spans are even shorter and there are so many places on the web that house content that blogs have to be kind of exceptional to be a thing anymore.

And here’s the thing, there’s only one Bevin! And I’m still in the relentless pursuit of my joy. That’s where this blog came from, chronicling the relentless pursuit of my joy. In so many forms!

I started a blog during law school in 2002 on a website called Diaryland–RIP all of those drag king stories! Eventually I stopped performing drag, started a podcast and then started this blog here at Queer Fat Femme dot com. Then I started Rebel Cupcake my monthly body positive queer dance party in Brooklyn, stopped doing that podcast (RIP FemmeCast: The Queer Fat Femme Guide to Life), then stopped doing Rebel Cupcake monthly and focused on my then-partner’s cancer treatment, then I started Dollypalooza and moved to LA with said partner, started my tea company and Fat Kid Dance Party aerobics, shelved the tea company so I could focus on my start-up, got engaged, planned a wedding while teaching weekly in LA and touring FKDP all over the US, broke up with said partner (RIP that Dollywood wedding), started a new podcast and kind of lost my blog mojo while my life was falling apart in LA and I moved to live down the street from my mom.

I’ve been living up here since right before the pandemic started and living in the forest on the Olympic Peninsula is truly the greatest living situation for me. I’m feeling pretty peaceful most of the time.

In this day and age so many folks are called “content creators” and “influencers” and since I’ve been creating content on the internet for so long I think I get to decide what it is that I do. And this has always been about passing the peace. I figure out how I found some peace for myself and I share the recipe.

I called this blog QueerFatFemme because at the time there weren’t a lot of out of the closet fat femmes creating in the world. I thought if I shared my story at the intersection of those identities I’d help folks open their hearts and minds about a different kind of life and or show possibilities out there to other queer fat femmes. That’s still true! But the URL does feel a bit like an itchy sweater now.

I am definitely all of those things–queer, fat and femme. But there are tons of other identities that take up as much space or more than those in my heart and mind! I felt like it was a total coming out about using cannabis (for me it’s medicinal and I think most cannabis use is medicinal whether folks see it like that or not). I really wrestled with how much to share about being spiritual. That my newfound connection to the Goddess would drive people away. I started on that path in 2011 and it has created such a depth in my experience of the world. Honestly, I would have given up on Fat Kid Dance Party if it didn’t feel like a calling.

My work passing the peace, creating content, teaching aerobics–all of it feels like a ministry. Teaching folks how to love their bodies is pretty sacred work, in my opinion. And if it hadn’t been for my Patreon subscribers I couldn’t have kept this going with the pandemic canceling my tour. (THANK YOU to all of the babes who trust me to provide them self care!)

In the information age we are all voting with our dollars. Where we spend our money and the subscriptions we maintain are part of creating the world we want to see. I feel so honored to continue to create and thanks to Patreon be able to be a digital nomad–when travel is ethical again.

These days here’s where I’m creating:

Patreon.com/fldp for on demand aerobics videos, zoom aerobics classes and spiritual self care practice how to videos

You tube for free movement videos, vlogs, live podcast recordings

Podcast for chats with my friends who are all at marvelously different intersections of identities and pursuits! And occasional solo episodes about whatever I’m growing through or body image

Email list–described as “always informative never intrusive” by a reader, I usually send out one maaaaybe two a week

Instagram! (@bevinsparty) I just really love IG stories and am a dedicated daily forest dancer so you’ll find my stories pretty much always on and full of forest stuff and uplift and growth. Fat Kid Dance Party has an IG @fatkiddanceparty and so does my cat Biscuit Reynolds @biscuitreynolds

Tik Tok (@bevinsparty): So far I think Tik Tok is about being yourself, adding value and having a good time so that’s what I’m up to over there.

Twitter is an aggregate of stuff I’ve published. @bevinsparty

Glowing Goddess Getaway! This cannabis sisterhood has been such a wonderful community! I am stoked to get to be a Goddess Guide. The gatherings this year are going all have a digital component with three in person covid safe gatherings. I’m suuuuper excited about it and am having to work on not foreboding joy about it because I am afraid they will get canceled again this year. Dates will be released on their Instagram @glowinggoddessgetaway on 4/20.

You will also find me doing yoga on the forest floor, and walking daily in the forest. Having a dedicated daily outdoor movement commitment makes a huge difference in my mental health. Even if it’s just doing corpse pose on a tarp, it’s breath and body connection. I feel so blessed that I live in the forest. I heal in it daily.

A couple summers ago I changed my name on IG to @bevinsparty which was mostly because I think there are a ton of visible queer fat femmes out there I don’t need to be “the one” with the IG name. So I changed it.

The most meaningful thing I do is bring people together to have fun and do good in the world. I overheard someone say at my house once “Did I meet you at Bevin’s party or are you from TV?” and “Bevin’s party” as a meaningful place someone met someone cool sounded like true music to me.

(The answer was they were from TV. Living in LA was fun! I’m excited to visit and create there again when it’s less pandemicky.)

I tried doing daily letters to my future kids during the pandemic on this blog last summer but it became stressful. I shifted that to paper journaling.

I want to talk about the things going on right now. I think I have value to add. So be on the lookout for recipes, thoughts, stories and small business shopping guides.

Here’s to beginning again, with the Aries New Moon!

Quarantine mermaid hair, photo taken a couple days ago in front of these poppin’ Rhodedendruns. Washington State flower.

2020-08-17

Cherishing early adulthood stamina

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Bevin @ 6:56 pm

(This post is part of a series of daily letters from me to my future children reporting from the emerging paradigm.)

Dear Kids:

I interviewed your Aunt Rachael for my podcast today about her experience having the Corona virus. She said the worst part about it for her was all of the stress her loved ones were under being worried about her. She was in a fever haze most of the time.

Before we recorded the podcast we reminisced about epic nights out together earlier in our friendship. (In our 20s, we are both officially over 40 now.) Some of the most legendary nights of my life were in Atlanta with Rachael.

She said, “I can still go out til 3 AM but I won’t recover for two days, three if I’ve been drinking.” As much as I hate to admit it, I think I, too, had much greater stamina earlier in adulthood. I really prize getting a good night’s sleep now.

Once I realized what it was like to feel well-rested after I got laid off from my job in 2008, I could never go back to being tired all the time.

I’ve actually gone to great lengths to design a life where it’s possible for me to rest more on days I need it. Like today! Having a really hard digestion day and had to adjust what kind of work I could do.

I’m feeling really nourished by all of the fun memories I made in my early adulthood really squeezing the marrow out of life. I think one of my greatest assets in that time was having so much fun!

I was so hard working and didn’t get to have as much fun as a high schooler and early college student that once I got to going out I really made the most of it. I went to parties with DJs I liked (I can’t stand parties with bad DJs) and spent time with friends I liked and generally followed my enthusiasm. Took fun photos and made memories.

I’m not advocating hard partying or even drinking, I’m simply advocating enthusiastic adventures with friends who light you up. And enjoying late nights while you have that stamina! I’m looking forward to other seasons of my life where sunrises are something you experience after waking up not before going to bed. But wow, those nights when our socializing met the sunrise were always the sign of a fun adventure.

I love that Rach and I can still go out and adventure when I visit Atlanta, but we have a lot of self care involved now, too. And I also love that she’s making a full recovery from the Corona virus.

xoxo,

Mom

It’s been “hot” here (nothing compared to LA) and I noticed yesterday that if I lay on the forest floor it stays really cool and almost a little damp even though it’s dry. I immediately understood the life of a banana slug better.

This blog is entirely supported by Patreon. Every dollar counts to making this work sustainable and maintaining the archives of this blog. Thanks to my awesome Patronus supporters (as my mom calls them) for co-creating with me!

Body Positive Aerobics on Zoom

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Bevin @ 4:38 pm

Saturday mornings, 11AM Pacific, join me on Zoom for Fat Kid Dance Party Aerobics! You can do any or all of the class on a chair or standing, I give variations. Minimum participation is cheering along!

Rule #1: There’s no wrong way to do Fat Kid Dance Party–you already belong with us! Rule #2: We cheer for awkward! Rule #3: If you want to sing along go ahead. If you can’t sing, sing loud! Rule #4: We high five for self care!

You can buy tickets or get in for free at any level of my Patreon membership. Thanks to all of my Patreon supporters for helping to create these one of a kind aerobics!

Also check out:

Weekly Online Fat Kid Dance Party aerobics on your schedule

Fat Kid Dance Party Aerobics video 4 pack!

Teaching this class has become a highlight of my week! So fun to connect!

2020-08-16

Cardi B is giving me hope by giving me jams

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Bevin @ 1:20 pm

(This post is part of a series of daily letters from me to my future children reporting from the emerging paradigm.)

Dear Kids:

In the apocalypse days of August when the wildfires rage in California and folks lose power because of electric company lawsuit protection. When it’s hurricane season, and now Corona quarantine. Our election is looming and will it be untampered (my guess–it will be tampered with, but we must vote as though it won’t be). The US Postal Service is being defunded and questioned. So much to concern ourselves with.

However! Something that has been so life giving to me and my pals lately is Cardi B’s latest drop WAP. A collab with Megan Thee Stallion. Both of these powerhouse women are incredibly empowering and fun to dance to.

I wondered whether to share this in my “kid letters” but since the intent is that you’ll read these as an adult, and I want you to be empowered and own your sexuality no matter what it ends up being. (And knowing it can change! And that’s cool!)

And I am tickled by the idea of WAP being a classic song. In 20 years it will be! I still listen to a lot of old school Lil’ Kim and this is absolutely in that legacy of female empowerment through owning sexuality.

I could probably write a treatise for or against what WAP is doing culturally, but I don’t need to. I’m just finding joy in it, dancing to it, hearing the hook loop through my head and watching the video every day because it delights me.

We need more art that helps us come alive no matter what the outside circumstances. And I think Cardi B writes scripture.

xoxo,

Mom

This blog is entirely supported by Patreon. Every dollar counts to making this work sustainable and maintaining the archives of this blog. Thanks to my awesome Patronus supporters (as my mom calls them) for co-creating with me!

2020-08-15

This won’t last forever

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Bevin @ 9:34 pm

(This post is part of a series of daily letters from me to my future children reporting from the emerging paradigm.)

Dear Kids:

Week 22 of quarantine. It feels like it’s regular life now, which is both weird and fine? I was at mom and Pat’s house tonight for dinner and they had the news on for five minutes. Long before the Corona they knew that I don’t like to watch the news.

Since Corona, they’ve both told me they consciously watch less of it. But, still, they like to watch the weather. And tonight it was on and in that five minutes some newscaster said with somber expression: “The deaths from Coronavirus by December are projected to be 300,000 or more Americans.” I remember it so specifically because it was stated in such a dire tone.

Truly, if this was a movie of this time, it’s that headline and that report that goes into the montage. Anyway, the news gets paid to freak us out.

I had a phone conversation with a friend today who asked me if Democracy was dead. I don’t think one person can undermine democracy but also everything about this time feels like science fiction. I’m so curious how the 2020 election will turn out and how the Corona resolves.

I keep my head planted in this zone where I’m certain about the future, and present and appreciative of what I can be in this moment. And staying put, sheltered in place. And deeply aware of how powerless I am over this disease and pandemic.

The other day I was listening to a successful entrepreneur talk about her experience building her business as a mother of four kids in high school and middle school. She was doing something unusual, living in a town where her kids were going to school and traveling a bunch for her business. She said, “I keep saying this won’t last forever.”

I checked the date on her talk, it was ten years ago. Her kids nowadays are grown, she was right, this didn’t last forever.

And that’s so true.

For good times and for bad times. This won’t last forever. Heartbreak. Illness. Bad attitudes. Honeymoons. Winning streaks. Always remember the power of six months. (And right now, I’m focused on the power of five years.)

xoxo,

Mom

Grandmother loved hydrangeas. My mom grows a few plants she’s gathered over the years because of Grandmother. She cut back a bush and I kept a couple of stems in water in my trailer. I adore having a vase of fresh hydrangeas and they are really lasting! I totally understand why Grandmother loved them. I love finding new ways of intimacy even after she has shuffled off the mortal coil.

This blog is entirely supported by Patreon. Every dollar counts to making this work sustainable and maintaining the archives of this blog. Thanks to my awesome Patronus supporters (as my mom calls them) for co-creating with me!

2020-08-12

It’s okay to change careers if it doesn’t fit anymore

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Bevin @ 9:29 pm

(This post is part of a series of daily letters from me to my future children reporting from the emerging paradigm.)

Dear Kids:

I’ve been meeting a lot of lawyers lately at networking events. It’s rad, actually, because I used to be an attorney so it gives me a great connection point to talk about why I’m no longer a lawyer.

Today I had only 5 minutes in a Tokeativity Haus of Jane speed networking to get to know this woman, and our time was going to run out so I was very blunt.

“I’m not a practicing attorney anymore because lawyers have four times the national rate of suicide.”

It’s the truth. The more I work hard on my routines and grounding my mental health in my self care, I realize how unlikely it was for me to survive the rest of my life as a lawyer.

I also like to be transparent about making mental health and self care a priority.

Her response was priceless, “Yeah, none of my friends who are practicing are happy.”

I am so grateful that I took the leap to leave an entire career behind and figure out what I was actually here to bring to the earth. Turns out it’s Fat Kid Dance Party aerobics.

I remembered when George Floyd was murdered that my experience in criminal procedure class in law school showed me that I didn’t want to be an attorney. I had realized we were just playing chess with people’s lives and liberty as lawyers. It was gross.

But I was already halfway done with law school and I didn’t know how I’d pay off that $65,000 so I stayed in law school. I still carry $120,000 of school debt and I practiced law for almost 15 years.

I hope you never allow a scarcity mindset to dictate your life decisions. I believe you honor your commitments, but you also need to know when to change course.

xoxo.

Mom

This blog is entirely supported by Patreon. Every dollar counts to making this work sustainable and maintaining the archives of this blog. Thanks to my awesome Patronus supporters (as my mom calls them) for co-creating with me!

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