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

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!

2012-07-23

Summer Update and Magic Mike

When I embarked on the journey to write a memoir this summer, stepping out in faith with no book deal lined up or anything, I swore I wouldn’t end up like so many of my favorite bloggers who sort of disappear when they are writing a book. And then I did it! I disappeared. When you pour yourself into something 1,000 words at a time and it’s a lot of hard stuff you don’t necessarily want to look at or think about it gets really difficult. So it’s all, write, self-care, write, live a new adventure over here.

Me, serving Aerosmith groupie @ Rebel Cupcake 27: Classic Rock Cupcake. Photo by @morganirene our Cupcake Princess.
Me, serving Aerosmith groupie @ Rebel Cupcake 27: Classic Rock Cupcake. Photo by Morgan our Cupcake Princess.

It was also a bunch of preparation for all the events I’m doing this July. The Sarah McLachlan Fumbling Towards Ecstasy tribute show was incredible–the acts were so vulnerable, tender, funny and profound. We believe we called forth the spirit of Sarah Mc’s stalker as the microphone spontaneously started moving around after the band Hellmouth sprinked a circle of salt around the lead singer during a Buffy fanfiction reading/performance over “Circle.”

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Backstage with Jessica Halem.

Rebel Cupcake was also electric. Truly a gift to hear the haunting black mass of Coven by Nath Ann Carerra with Elizabeth Koke. And I met a bunch of blog readers! One from Portland! Next month is August 16th, if you find yourself in town.

During my writing days I’ve been doing what I can to take good care of the well from which I draw my creativity. This means morning pages and artist dates, tools I picked up doing The Artist’s Way (I highly recommend doing the book with a group or a life coach, as I did with rockstar and writer Lynnee Breedlove from Tribe8.)

One of my favorite artist’s dates to go on is going to the movies by myself. And the other day I found myself during matinee times passing a theater where Magic Mike happened to be playing.

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Masculinity!

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m a Kinsey 5.5 and I live a life that puts Femmes at the forefront. I don’t have a lot of masculinity in my life and I feel pretty great about it. I love the masculine of center folks that are in my community and in my life, but considering I live in the Haus of Femmespiration, work for myself and collaborate with Femmes and limp wristed fellas, I just don’t really do a lot of masculine studying. I don’t think about it that much, so it takes a special moment for me to focus my attention on that kind of spectacle.

And Magic Mike is nothing if not a celebration of masculinity.

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I will be honest, I really love Matthew Mcconaughey. He is one of my favorite fictional lawyers and I enjoy his soft Texas accent. He’s why I went to go see the movie. I also really loved Channing Tatum in The Vow, so he was a win. And I didn’t realize Alseed from True Blood was in Magic Mike and was pleasantly surprised.

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The movie is essentially conceived of an all male revue of super buff dudes gyrating on stage for throngs of excited women. The dance acts are great, pretty well-choreographed and conceived. In fact, as a former drag king performer who studied the way men walk and talk and wear facial hair, etc… I think this movie is a great study tool. Each performance was basically the same as an apolitical drag act I’d seen once or twice before. Or, in the case of “Pony” by Ginuwine, three times before. It is always hot when performed well. (Channing Tatum can dance. Who knew?)

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The plot is loosely structured around a new kid in town and the more successful thirty-year-old stripper showing him the ropes. Maybe a little bit Coyote Ugly mixed with Showgirls. The plot is barely there, clearly not well-developed and hard to follow. The main love interest is boring and has one expression on her face the whole time. But it doesn’t matter how terrible the plot is, the male revue is so fun to watch! Let’s go back to the club while there are dollar bills being thrown around!

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If I had a Women and Gender Studies paper to write for undergrad I could really rip this movie up and sideways. I had an emphasis on cultural representations of gender while in undergrad and I was great at movie deconstruction. But I have a memoir to write! So if you’re taking a WGS class this Fall, go see this movie and take lots of notes.

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Anyway, I highly recommend it as complete eye candy. Especially if you enjoy or are attracted to masculinity or are or were a drag king performer. Just watch some of the gifs on tumblr. You’ll know what I’m talking about.


Patriotism would be a whole section of my paper. I could get 10 pages easily.

I’m 25,000 words deep into my memoir (my goal is 50,000 by the end of the summer, when I will start taking the taffy draft I have and choreographing the sentences better) and have lots more to blog about as things keep surfacing. Why is it that I hear more often than not that folks “just aren’t interested in Femmes” and how can I learn to let the love in? So much to think about.

2011-09-30

Consolation Cupcakes

Hi friends. It’s been a weird few months here at QFF headquarters. First there were three deaths right in a row this Spring, last month a sudden accident in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene claimed the life of a close family friend of mine. On top of this, the closing of Re/Dress NYC, my workplace and home to much of my politics and community.

Yesterday our pals around the corner from One Girl Cookies brought us consolation cupcakes.

Me and Leslie
Like I said to Leslie after we heard the news, “At least Re/Dress gave us each other.”

The announcement was made yesterday but I’ve already known for a bit and had to keep it under my hat, which has been hard since right now I’m dealing with the eventual loss of health insurance and the only steady income I have. (The rest of my income comes from my sometimes flagging solo law practice, speaking gigs, and performance opportunities, all of which provide sporadic income and require an intense hustle that actually takes away from my productivity and artistic energy.)

So it is a shock and brings up a lot of fear and first chakra stuff. But luckily fear is just a feeling, it’s not reality. I’m at a place personally where I know that. I’ve been laid off once before, almost three years ago to the day. This year has provided me lots of opportunities to deepen my spiritual practice and a friend mentioned yesterday “Wow, you’re talking a lot more about the Goddess lately.” My response? I don’t see much of a choice. Not to get too woo, but honestly the only security I’ve ever found in my complicated life is my choice to believe in a loving higher power.

Feelings of grief and loss bring up for me the desire to focus more on the right now of life. So I’ve had this Everyday Glitter post brewing and share it with you as a celebration of the gorgeous everyday-ness that even a steady monthly beat of sad news can’t take away.

Everyday Glitter #1: Artist Dates
One of the things The Artist’s Way teaches is to take yourself on a weekly artist date. I slacked off over the summer and just started again with a vengeance. (I highly suggest doing the 12 week Arist’s Way program to anyone, BTW.)

Sunday found me roaming Cobble Hill on my artist’s date and I remembered bookmarking a soda fountain the charming and articulate plus fashion blogger Nicolette Mason talked about on her blog, the Brooklyn Farmacy. A quick mobile phone google of Nicolette’s site found the address on her write-up and I popped in with a copy of Oprah magazine and settled in for a treat.

It’s a legit old school soda fountain with waitresses in vintage frocks and scarves in their hair and a really nice Brooklynite dude serving up old fashioned treats.

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My mom used to make me Purple Cows when I was a little kid, this one is grape soda and I subbed coconut ice cream for vanilla. It was really delicious.

Everyday Glitter #2: Puppy Watch

One of the coolest things about living in a densely populated area is that puppy watching is a daily thing. All number of adorable pooches are walked regularly. I’ve started parking myself on this bench near Re/Dress on my lunch walks to puppy watch. Sometimes when I’m working from home I take a break and sit on my stoop with Macy

Macy stoop

I mean, cute puppies make me feel better about pretty much everything.

Everyday Glitter #3: Style Emails!

Ever since Big Sexy premiered the Re/Dress NYC Tumblr Ask Box has been blowing up. I’ve actually really enjoyed answering people’s questions, especially this one about hiding a fat stomach. You can check my advicelets out over there!

Everyday Glitter #4: New! Big! Projects!
On Sunday I went over to Governor’s Island to discuss my curating an area as part of a big free art festival on Governor’s Island next May. I’m super excited about it. It’s going to be a body liberation / size acceptance interactive & multi-artist installation. I’m really excited to take my existing performance curatorial skills and do something bigger.

Governor’s Island is a great place to go chill out during the summer. It’s huge, there are bike rentals, parks, lots of grass, the ferries run frequently and are free. I had a lot of fun exploring everything and Danielle, my tour guide (and the person who recruited me to curate) knows the nooks and crannies of the island.

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Photo by Danny McL.

And Leslie and myself are tossing around ideas about how we can take her expertise in wardrobe and styling, my event planning experience and mash them up to a resale shopping experience. I’ll of course keep my readers updated, and you can keep tabs on Double Chin Win on the website.

Everyday Glitter #5: Fall Layers
Crisp Autumn air means more opportunities to wear weird rock vests and stifling stretch polyester vintage dresses. I found a brown fur rock vest at Re/Dress yesterday. I can’t wait to kick leaves and buy a new pair of Ariat Fatbaby Boots for the winter.

Everyday Glitter #6: Suri’s Burn Book
Hysterical fashion commentary told from the point of view of Suri Cruise on the fashions of celebrity babies.

Everyday Glitter #7: You!
As though on cue from the universe, the last week while I’ve been privately stewing on this news and brewing the what nexts for my life, I’ve gotten an influx of fan mail, had some really meaningful interactions with fans at the store, and other synchronous events to remind me that making my art is super important and is a two-way street. I create because I feel compelled to create, but it really does mean a lot to me that it means a lot to you.

Here’s to moving ahead in faith that what I’m meant to be doing next enables me to keep doing what I’m passionate about, helping the world become safe for folks to love themselves, regardless of their differences.

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The sky is not the clouds.

2010-10-06

Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation Book Review

Oh friends, I’ve been gone so long and yet not gone anywhere but inside my big, sweet heart and head. I’m doing The Artist’s Way and life coaching and as Lynnee Breedlove, my coach, says “Filling the well. Putting gas in the tank.” I’m still brewing some interesting mind blowing blog topics, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, I have a book to recommend to keep you company! It’s Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation edited by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman. Just released on Seal Press it is extremely accessible and interesting.

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The term “anthology” makes me think of things that are stuffy or academic. However, this reads more like an extremely well-edited and organized zine, which I believe is to its credit. Transgressing the anthology format, as the editors and authors transgress gender and sexuality. Some of the contributions are only a couple of pages and pack just as much punch as their lengthier counterparts. I love having something to read that can fit well between subway stops, which is where most of my reading takes place.

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Kate, reading at Rebel Cupcake: Sci Fi Cupcakes.

The editors use an AOL Instant Messenger format (old school!) for the introduction, intermission and conclusion of the book. They also discuss the topic of the next genderation, usage of the controversial terms “tranny” and “cisgender” and the reactions to both Kate and Bear when they came out as transgender during different genderations. I love that they’re not afraid to say what they think in this conversation and they really go there.

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Me, giving Kate an umbrella sheathed like sword with a sword handle from SITE Design at Rebel Cupcake.

I also loved the organization of the anthology. I love systems of creative organization and this just tickled me.
Part One: Do I look like an outlaw to you?
Part Two: Being reconfigured is not the same as being reimagined.
Part Three: …which is why I’m as cute as I happen to be.
Part Four: It might not be a picnic but there’s a great buffet.
Part Five: And still we rise.

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S. Bear Bergman hasn’t performed at Rebel Cupcake (yet!).

Several of the contributions resonated with me, including a touching account of “The Manly Art of Pregnancy” by J Wallace, which did a lot to counter the version of the “Pregnant Man” propagated in the media a couple of years ago.

I really loved the comic Transcension by Katie Diamond and Johnny Blazes. I love words and their application of language theory to finding a place within and without identity labels was extremely well-illustrated, both in text and pictures.

Scott Turner Schofield’s intense and powerful “The Wrong Body” has been swimming around in my head for weeks. It’s such a stunning and succinct narrative of why, as a fetus, he chose to be born a baby girl. “I saw that I would have time to appreciate my journey, with the head to understand it as a gift and the heart to achieve my whole self through all the trials it takes.”

And there are contributions to this anthology by trans allies as well. The piece that had me crying on the subway was Fran Varian’s “Daddy Gets the Big Piece of Chicken.” She weaves a gorgeous comparison to preparations for a date with her gender-variant lover and her working class family’s gender roles.

She shows the beautiful nuance of the unspoken dance between gendered energy and the ways in which we care for each other in our gender queer (and queer in other ways) relationships. “You walk on the outside, closest to the street. You do this because we are moving targets, even in San Francisco. You do this because you have been attacked for the masculinity you have constructed and because I am precious to you.” How lucky to have someone tell you how precious you are to them; luckier still to have someone show you how precious you are.

While I always want you, precious reader, to shop at a local feminist bookstore, if you buy Gender Outlaws: TNG on the internet and clickie through my link I get a tiny referral fee and it goes to buy me books and other delights.

NYC Readers! There is a reading at Bluestockings by some of the authors of Gender Outlaws: TNG (including Kate!) on October 8!

Rebel Cupcake photos by Nogga Schwartz for Rebel Cupcake.

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