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

2016-09-06

My REALITY Storytellers Journey to Israel

Last summer when Dara said she was applying to go on a trip to Israel with two of her best friends, I was super dubious. I declared many times, “This is totally a Zionist trip, there’s no way that for $300 you’ll be doing anything but being brainwashed about Israel.” The trip was for social entrepreneurs and Dara was a great candidate for it, due to her experience dropping her day job and living off her savings to start a global peace project, A Big Project.

I was kind of nervous to have Dara walking around in the Middle East and especially Israel. I grew up hearing about suicide bombers in night clubs and genuinely thought that Dara was in danger heading to Israel. But my friends Kieran and Shelly had just spent a year living there and came back in one piece, my Grandmother and Aunt had both visited Israel multiple times and were fine (and loved it). So I did what I do to feel okay about her choices and was grateful every time I heard from her.

The whole time she was in Israel we talked a half dozen times and every communication was about how little sleep they were getting and that the food was great. I laughed because one of Dara’s greatest pet peeves is less than 8 hours of sleep. I was surprised to hear afterward that the trip was “extremely nuanced” and that they were given a lot of perspectives about the conflict between Israel and Palestine.* (See my footnote for a discussion of how “extremely nuanced” played out in my perspective, but that was the verbatim description Dara gave me when she got back from her trip.)

oakbevinmeganMe, Oak and Megan from my trip. I made some really deep amazing connections with incredible artists and innovators.

“The whole point of being an artist or making a statement is to learn about yourself.”—Robert Mapplethorpe

Dara has a complicated relationship with her Judaism yet came home wanting to have Shabbat dinners. She wrote for a grant to do our Epic Seder this past Spring from the foundation who runs the trips, the Schusterman Foundation. I knew there was a component of the curation that developed an intimacy with Jewish culture that was special enough that Dara, with all her complications, felt a connection to it.

I went to a couple of reunion events with Dara while we were still living in New York and really enjoyed the people I met there. Everyone she’s introduced me to from her REALITY Global trip is totally awesome and it intrigued me. They are curating a trip with really amazing people who can make connections with each other to enact social good. It was clear that there was more to this trip than just a tour of Israel, it’s a powerful network of change makers.

Along the lines of meeting great people, Dara hung out with a friend in Washington, DC from her REALITY Global trip. The friend happens to be Michelle Obama’s speechwriter and that Milania plagiarized speech was written by Sarah early in her work with the Obamas. (You HAVE to read this amazing Washington Post article about Sarah, but also know Sarah is a kind, smart and dynamic person apart from her extraordinary speechwriting.)

bevinandsarahHMe and Sarah at the final meal of the trip.

Anyway, Sarah told Dara that she was going to be a facilitator on the inaugural REALITY Storytellers trip and that I should apply.

I considered it. A funded trip might be the only chance I would get to visit Israel ever and my Grandfather is buried in the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. He is descended from the Tribe of Levi, he just barely escaped the German Holocaust and his brother Kurt ended up moving to Israel after Israel’s declaration of independence. It was super important to Kurt that Grandfather be buried in the Mount of Olives. (Check out my Lesbian Tea Basket episode with my Grandmother to hear about his escape and just a bit about his extraordinary life.)

I also have never previously left the country other than Canada. I do a lot of domestic travel but haven’t had the funds or family resources to travel internationally. It felt exciting to open up to a new opportunity and learn more about the world. I mean, I would LOVE to be a world traveler so here’s the chance to do something new and cool.

Knowing the trip had helped Dara get more in touch with her Judaism I was excited to get more exposure to it, since it was important to her father that I help continue that legacy in the Barlin family. 

I knew that I might be stepping into some shit in my community because radical queers tend to default to supporting the boycott of Israel. I don’t want to support a government that oppresses people and creates an apartheid state, which was all I had heard about the West Bank. I didn’t know the terms of the boycott but I remember my roommate’s then girlfriend having a lot of Feelings about violating the boycott by buying her a Soda Stream.

If a boycott is against a whole country, that’s something that is hard for me to get behind. I’m a person who doesn’t agree with the actions of my government. Here in the US the legacies of slavery and colonialism are alive and well. The mass-incarceration of people of color, the prison industrial complex, the execution of unarmed Black men by our police force, Guantanamo Bay. Literally all of US real estate is stolen from Native Americans. Would I want someone to make a judgement about me as a person based on my government? Especially when a Bush was in office? It felt hard for me to want to support a boycott of a people when it’s the government and not all of the people who are propagating the policies I don’t agree with.

I learned from Dara’s global peace building work that in the era of social media there have been a lot of cross-border political collaborations and art projects. I wanted to meet the folks who made up that Israel. Who are the radical queers in Israel and what are they up to? What do they believe is a viable peace solution in a volatile region?

moonriseoversyriaThis is the view of the moon rising from Mt. Bental overlooking the Golan Heights and into Syria. We could hear bombing. At the top of this mountain I lead us in a prayer for peace. I still pray that we can use our connections and what we learned as fertile ground for social change and peace building.

Since I understood the trip to was NOT a dogmatic zionist approach to Israel, I thought it would be a powerful way to learn more about the conflict and develop my own opinions rather than fall lock-step with what other people tell me to think about things. A friend of mine went on a different curated trip to Israel and the West Bank and came back full of political ammunition against the Israeli government. Remembering his writing after that trip I knew no matter what I learned about the conflict after the trip I would do a lot of learning and developing by choosing to go.

I applied for the trip. I wrote my essays focusing on my art and activism in the body positive and queer communities. I talked about my ties to and interest in Judaism. I managed to make an only 90 second (the limit) introductory video. And I got accepted.

The trip itself was a fifty-person tour group made up mostly of participants, who came from many walks of life. There were way more Christians with no ties to Judaism on the trip than I thought there would be. (I would be considered “strong ties to Judaism” because of my partner and my Grandfather.) It was roughly third Jewish folks, a third strong ties and a third no ties. The Storytellers were from all types of Storytelling, political speechwriters, broadway performers, actors, social media managers, TV and movie producers, journalists, novelists and more. And a queer body liberation blogger (that’s me).

In addition to the 40ish participants we had our facilitators who had been on previous trips, three to five staff members from the Foundation plus more that popped on and off the bus, our tour guide, our bodyguard, our bus driver and sometimes a photographer. Our schedule was packed early morning to late night with activities. Sometimes lectures at the hotel but more often out and about seeing things and hearing about them from our tour guide. We had a panel of journalists, tons of leadership development activities, tours of villages and went all over Israel from the Golan Heights to the Dead Sea, a big ol’ crater in the desert to Jerusalem, Jaffa and Tel Aviv.

I feel like I got a Master’s degree level immersive coursework about Israel, the conflict with the Palestinians, the war in Syria. Old and New Testament Bible stories come to life. Israel was nothing like I expected and the trip completely blew me away, creatively, emotionally, politically, and left me more curious than ever. I have way more questions than I came with.

smallintheenormityTo say I feel small against the enormity of the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an understatement. A Democratic state that is trying to adhere to a specific religious and cultural identity in a modern world and all of the other difficulties bridging human diversity in the Middle East is mind boggling.

I’m always pretty obsessed with the moon from an astrological and energetic standpoint. The moon was full while we were there. It was an Aquarius Full Moon, flooding the collective with humanitarian energies. I thought that was auspicious for the work we as Storytellers could do to create bridges for peace.

I kept thinking that if this was a masters program and I did need to write a thesis, what would I talk about? I was listening to Antony and the Johnsons when I got home and in Future Feminism, an off the cuff stage banter piece from her album Cut the World, she starts out talking about the moon. I remembered about how we were collectively obsessed with the moon in Israel. In Future Feminisms she talks about shifting the world towards matrilineal systems of governance, religion and corporate leadership. I realized that if I were writing a masters thesis, I would apply the concept proposed in Future Feminism to Israel. What would a matrilineal system do to affect the peace process and protection of all humans in and around that region.

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”—Eleanor Roosevelt

I’m a woman with a lot of complexities, I at once feel small and powerless but take my role as a person who is a Storyteller seriously. It’s scary to talk about something that is controversial and I know will make some of my friends mad at me. But I also know I won’t do anything to work towards peace by staying quiet. I am pro human rights and pro solutions and I don’t think solutions come from shutting down conversation. I’m interested in learning more and having more interactions with folks who want to find peace. So in the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt, here goes a whole series of blog posts about my trip and what I learned.

When I bought my Type-H electric adaptors for the trip, I could only get a set of 4 and I was already thinking about reselling them when I got home. But now I’m going to hold onto them because I’m pretty sure I’m somehow going back.

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I’m excited to write more about this trip, about what I learned and experienced about myself, the people, the conflict and the role of Storytellers as social change in subsequent blog posts.

“I’m someone who’s looking for a reason to hope, and for me hope looks like feminine systems of governance being instated in, like, the major religious institutions and throughout corporate and civil life. And it might sound far-fetched, but if you look at your own beliefs, just imagine how quickly you accepted the idea that the ocean is rising and the ecology of our world is collapsing. We can actually imagine that more readily than we can imagine a switch from patriarchal to matriarchal systems of governance — a subtle shift in the way our society works.”–Antony and the Johnsons

*I’ll say that the idea that it was “nuanced” was interesting to me and my experience of how the nuance played out was that the folks giving us presentations (most often our incredible tour guide Michael) would tell us a story and say, “I am going to contradict myself” and would tell us a another side of it. I learned immediately that, as in other conflict situations I’ve been in, it is reductive to say “sides” as thought there are only two. Often we would here two, three or four perspectives. I’m not sure if other trips to Israel give as much detail or have as much information and perspective as we were given access to. I also know there’s always more information than what we are given and that curiosity will bring more.

2014-08-02

August Astrological Forecast and Self Development Worksheet with Empowering Astrology

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August is here and it’s time for some more planetary shifts to bring us in alignment with the next round of ways we can improve ourselves. I agree with Katie from Empowering Astrology, rough astrology is either our chance to get knocked around or it’s our chance to use the energy to be our best selves. Saturn is making some difficult conjunctions this month, anyone who has gone through their Saturn Return knows it’s rough to get real about what is going on in your life. But it’s also a great way to grow.

As always, I’ve written exercises working in conjunction with this month’s astrology to create self improvement with some celestial oomph. The activities include learning how to respond instead of react (good strategy no matter what’s happening in the stars), a full moon ritual about getting real with yourself, and incorporating health at every size into your new moon intentions.

Click here to download this month’s report.

Enjoy!!

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!

2014-03-10

March Astrology Self Care Road Map with Empowering Astrology

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When shit feels like it’s hitting the fan, I like to know if things are going on astrologically that are informing it. Sometimes it feels like such a relief to know I’m not alone and that there are others being hit in their deepest places. I’m certainly not the only person in my life who is having to deal with some super deep, core stuff right now.

My partnership with Katie Sweetman of Empowering Astrology continues this month. We’ve put together a road map of this month’s doozy of astrological wallops… Katie says this month is all about self care and she’s right. We need to get centered and focused on ourselves in order to get through all of the things the stars have in store for us, leading up to the Cardinal Grand Cross in April.

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We both wrote some great self empowerment and self care based activities for this month, which you can check out in this free download.

I’m also very inspired lately by Katie’s words on her Facebook page a couple of weeks ago. That in this time we can be guided by fear, or we can instead choose hope. I remember that as a very centering thought these days as folks are honking impatiently, scowling on the street and otherwise not being particularly kind. I work to remember that everyone is dealing with something that is hitting them deep, and that we all react in our own ways. The only thing I have influence to change right now is my own thinking, so I do my best to set my thoughts on positive things. To be kind wherever possible, even if I’m not getting credit for it. And to be kind to myself, first and foremost. I’m big into turning rage into productivity and sometimes that’s about working on compassion even when it’s hard and feels super unfair.

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Katie is prepping for an amazing Astrology Retreat to a private estate in Ocho Rios, Jamaica April 3-8, 2014. Workshops include strengthening your intuition and after dinner rituals! I was thinking how if I had the cash it would be a no-brainer for me, I would hop that flight and escape the last dregs of Winter here in NYC (and this one has been a doozy of cold, bad weather and bad vibes). In prepping this post I went through the photos from the one and only beach vacation I’ve taken during the Winter, to Vieques, Puerto Rico. It was a lovely trip and it’s been far too long since I’ve had the resources to do that. If it’s in your power to (wo)manifest a trip with some astrology powerhouses, take Katie up on the offer to escape and learn more about astrology!

Check out the January and February self development exercises!

2207972782_d5d91960c8_zYou can tell it was a long time ago because my hair is super short! I started growing it out when I got laid off from my day job in late 2008 and started paring down expenses… I get my hair cut like twice a year now, back then I had to keep it up every eight weeks or so.

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!

2014-01-14

Free Self Development Astrology Exercises Part Two!

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

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

Click here to download the free exercises!

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

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

2013-12-31

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.

2013-11-05

Mercury Retrograde Update About Fundraiser for QueerFatFemme.com

It’s Mercury Retrograde, meaning the planet Mercury is moving backwards instead of forward. Astrologically this generally means communication breaks down, issues from the past resurface and there are all kinds of mechanical issues and it’s really hard to plan anything. Anything. (Learn more about this Mercury in Scorpio Retrograde on the Empowering Astrology podcast!)

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Photo by Grace Chu.

As though to put a cherry on the top of my Mercury Retrograde experience yesterday I woke up all set to write a post about meditation practice for my blog and I logged on to see that there was some kind of weird gray film over the site. I couldn’t navigate anywhere or do anything. I had been having trouble on the back end of my WordPress for awhile, even in spite of keeping my WordPress install up to date and updating my plugins. Some tinkering by a friend determined there was an ad trying to run over top of my website, spammers of some kind had hacked in through a back-end plugin and tried to drive traffic somewhere. I’m so sorry if any of you tried to read the site yesterday and ran into that, but there’s the mystery solved about what happened!

I feel very lucky that I was all up in my meditation practice so I was able to approach it calmly, figure out what I could do and what was out of my control, and let it go. I’m also grateful I listened to my friends and I’ve been doing a fundraiser to sustain the website, budgeting part of it for a back-end repair. I knew I’d have to get someone with some good WordPress know-how to get in there and clean out whatever virus or rotten code that was infecting my site but I didn’t think it would happen on such an emergency situation! So THANK YOU readers who have donated or signal boosted for my fundraising campaign because had this happened a month ago I don’t know if I would have been able to restore the site so quickly.

The thing about Mercury Retrograde is that I like to lean into the serendipity of it all and just let the good, unexpected stuff happen. So, hopefully it’s going to be a lot easier to use my site because the back end will be less wonky and I can focus on more content!

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Photo by Grace Chu.

That said, I’m at almost 40% funded, which is amazing and THANK YOU AGAIN to everyone who has donated! My blog is officially five years old now and I’m working to raise $1,000 per year of content! There are so many great prizes available, which I enumerate for you below with photos because GFM doesn’t allow photos, starting with the TOO HOT FOR GO FUND ME prizes, that are available through paypaling me (queerfatfemme at gmail.com).

Someone already snatched up the week stay in Mexico City at my friends’ Air BnB but there are some amazing marketing and branding prizes, homemade cupcakes in NYC, life coaching by me and so much more!

Coming up on the blog is the resurrection of the post from last week lost during the internal hurricane, the conclusion to FEMME SEX WEEK once I get my interview questions back from the amazing Femmes I’m interviewing for FEMME SEX WEEK and that meditation post I mentioned above!

Prizes that are too hot for Go Fund Me! (Paypal your donation to queerfatfemme at gmail)

$80
KCMO beer love package
2 bottles of Boulevard Bourbon Barrel quad (2013 and 2011). 2 bomber bottles from the smokestack series if your choice.
And a t-shirt or hat of your choice. Donated by a hot butch from Kansas City, MO, Jen!

$99
Lap(top) dance by Drae Campbell! Drae Campbell, butchlesque artist & comedian, will perform a laptop dance via Skype for you! Up to ten minutes. She’s hot as shit!

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Photo of Drae Campbell by Kelsey Dickey at Rebel Cupcake.

$100
Lap(top) dance by Miss Mary Wanna! Miss Mary Wanna will perform a private laptop dance via skype for you! Up to ten minutes of Southern shimmy! (Also redeemable in person.) We originally conceived this as a lapdance but it was definitely funnier if it was a laptop dance.
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Photo by Patience Owens.

All the Prizes available on Go Fund Me!

$10
I will drop good intentions on you via twitter! My benevolent wishes are totally powerful. (I saw an I will make a wish for you as a prize on a fundraiser recently and I loved the idea that for $11 I got someone’s good intentions. I take this really seriously! I will drop good intentions your way in a public forum!)

$15
I’ll send you a postcard with my benevolent wishes on it! Snail mail rules! Who doesn’t love getting mail? The postcard will be awesome. I made the below postcard to send to friends and it still lives on people’s inspiration boards.

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$20
I’ll guest list you to my event of your choice within the next year. Maybe you were going to go to Rebel Cupcake anyway? It’s kind of like buying a ticket pre-sale. This applies to events that I’m producing that I get a list for.

$25
One fat unicorn pink bandanna, silk screened by me. It will look very similar to this one that I produced a couple years ago!

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$30
One “You Are Incredibly Resilient” poster. Conceived by me, designed by James Leander (a dear friend and graphic designer), 11″ x 14″ full color and a great reminder to stay strong in an oppressive world!

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$39
A tote bag that says “Fat on the inside.” It will be a bold print, and silk screened. I love tote bags and don’t fool around when it comes to them.

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$40
A tote bag that says “All Bodies Are Good Bodies.” Another bold print, silk screened.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey.
$41
The baker (we call her the Cupcake Princess) behind the delicious cupcakes at Rebel Cupcake will make a dozen for pick-up in NYC. They are incredible and this is a bargain! Generously donated by Morgan Hart.

$50
Receive an unpublished chapter from my memoir–dishy dyke drama, misunderstood fat politics and a lot of awkward in this piece. It’s a gritting teeth kind of chapter but also pretty powerful.

Bevin reading at the Lesbian herstory archives
Me reading at the Lesbian Herstory Archives from my memoir.

$69
It’s very important that this prize is at the $69 level. 30 minute Tarot reading or life advice from Miss Jacqueline Mary. Redeemable via Skype or in person in NYC!

Tarot reading with Jacqueline. #babestagram #lesbianteabasket

$75
Learn to play (or enhance your playing) the fiddle with Julia Read, an amazing musician! 30 mins, can be via skype or in NYC. Listen to her stuff she’s amazing!!!

$125
All the things! Both tote bags, fat unicorn bandanna and poster from earlier prize levels!

$130
Branding consulting! Marico Fayre offers marketing/branding consultation via skype! Up to 30 minutes of consultation with a professional who can take you from zero to hero! She seriously does this for a living and is incredible at it! Great for a small or big business!

$150
Life advice from ME! I give lots of advice on my blog but now I can tailor it directly to you one on one via skype which I will be able to use once I have a new computer! 30 minutes of life advice coaching via skype or phone with Bevin Branlandingham. Legal advice, self-advocacy, love your body, shopping, dating, self-esteem, etc… Whatever! I’m yours for a half hour!

$500
I will put you on the VIP list to all of my events for the rest of your lifetime. Who knows where the universe will take me? This could be worth millions! Anytime you want to go to one of my events you just let me know and I will list you! What if I get to be a guest on Ellen someday? How about when I make it big and host the Oscars? You’re THERE! You’ll also get a signed copy of all of my books when they come out. Anyone I’ve ever dated can tell you I know how to make someone feel VIP!

Donate here!!

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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My Reading with Empowering Astrology

I like to think of activities like having my astrological chart interpreted by an astrologer, visiting mediums, having tarot cards read, past life readings and other types of woo activities as a cross between spiritual practice and therapy. They often work better if you go in with a specific question or questions and have something to work through by the end. I usually feel relieved and understand my path better as a result.

Last week I had my astrological chart read by Katie, the bombshell behind Empowering Astrology. I had met her once before years ago and upon one glance at my chart she knew that the previous few months (because of Pluto sailing through my chart) had been “like a nuclear bomb went off” in my life. She had no way of knowing but I had lost a job of five years and my apartment became uninhabitable in that span of time. That little nugget stayed with me and I had always wanted to come back for a full chart reading.

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Your astrological chart is basically a map of the stars as they existed at the exact time and location that you were born. When people say “I’m a Capricorn with a Virgo rising and my Moon is in Scorpio,” what they mean to describe are aspects of their personality as dictated by the positions of certain celestial bodies when they entered this world. Lesbians and woo-oriented queers use astrology as code with one another all the time, so it’s helpful to know those basics. You can get a free chart at astro.com if you know your birth time and location.

I’ve had a free chart for years and am very curious about how the natal chart can give me information about my life. I totally believe in past lives and that our higher selves select certain natal information to structure our journeys in this life. My relationship to woo spirituality is on the “why not” spectrum and if it helps me understand my purpose here and helps me to more effectively do the work and art I do then this spirituality is doing exactly what it’s meant to do.

Even though we both live in Brooklyn, Katie and I met via Skype video chat. Number one, this helps with the whole “Scheduling is the hardest part” bit of coordinating with New Yorkers. Number two, Katie was able to record our session so that I could have an mp3 of our conversation and not have to rely on my notes to piece together what I learned.

Tea service is really helping me finish this trust document.
Bring your own tea.

I learned so much! There’s a lot to know about how an astrological chart works. It seems to me that a good astrologer is a combination scientist, mathematician and intuitive. Katie definitely has all three. She knows so much about astrology, the way the planets talk to each other and can distill it easily into real talk for people who don’t know what a progressed chart, Mars conjunct Sun or what each house in our chart means. And those are just some nuggets of things I learned about in our hour-long conversation.

She began by asking me what I was looking to glean from our conversation. As I tend to do, I asked about my journey in life and my higher purpose. When I was younger I was always mostly curious about romance and money and that’s not to say I’m not still curious about those things, but these days I want to find out how to make it easier for myself to stay on the path I’m meant to be on. I’ve learned a lot through the language of pain about how hard it is to try paths that you’re not meant for, I’m looking for a peaceful journey leaning into the lessons I’m meant to learn.

Party planning involves spreadsheets & hauling beer.  We're ready for Yes Ma'am on Saturday!

Katie had a lot of lessons to tell me about. We began with her overview of a few areas she noted in my chart, like the clusters of planets I have in the houses in the bottom of my chart and some heavy duty “relationship karma.” I was surprised at how much past life information could be gleaned from my chart and Katie had a lot to say about how the things we’ve worked on in past lives can affect this life.

We talked about the planetary positions and certain traumas I was going to need to recover from, which hit the nail on the head for me about what I saw as my work in this life. I feel very reassured about the work I’m doing after my reading with her.

I especially enjoyed talking about the transits I was about to go through in the upcoming months. Transits are those lines in the chart where the planets move and Katie was able to tell me certain things to look out for. She also blew my mind by saying “Money is simply a 3D manifestation of energy.”

The contents of my bra at the end of the evening : 2 drink tickets, $6 in cash, 1 splenda packet, 2 lifesaver wint-o-mints, my cell phone (not pictured), an 11 year chip found next to the bar.

Since my reading I’ve listened to it again via MP3 while in the bath, which has helped me glean more out of it. She highly recommends listening to the reading several times. Her approach values shaking things up by providing insights into the natal chart and she really is an “energetic midwife” as she describes on her website.

If you’ve ever been curious about having your natal chart read, I cannot recommend Katie enough. She is smart, warm and extremely insightful. Also, her website includes a rad blog with a lot of nuggets, including this Moon Ritual to Manifest (or as I call it, Womanifest) I’ve done before and it’s been awesome.

Katie also has an awesome Facebook fan page for Empowering Astrology where she shares nuggets of wisdom about the planets moving around. Honestly I’m much more interested in astrological forecasts that talk about what the planets are doing for everyone than just what the Capricorn horoscope for the week says. Astrological destiny is way more complicated than that! Also, isn’t it nice sometimes to realize “Ugh, I went to my friend’s birthday party and felt so terrible all night for seemingly no reason” and then finding out there was a MONSTER full moon that was throwing everyone for a loop, and especially Cardinal signs. Anyway, Empowering Astrology on Facebook has those kinds of forecasts and I like them.

Also, as a rule, I pretty much only go to therapists, tarot readers or spiritual folks if I have a personal recommendation by someone queer or they are queer themselves. I just feel more safe and there’s less language to translate about my life and loves and gender and sexuality to people in my community. Katie’s queer herself.

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