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

2015-10-02

How I’m Leaning into Decluttering

A couple of years ago I had my first full reading with my astrologer, Katie Sweetman of Empowering Astrology. She told me that I should be decluttering. It was a big spiritual thing I needed/wanted to do but because of elements of my chart I don’t remember, it was also something that was hard for me. Both a struggle and something that I needed to happen for my spiritual growth.

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In the Earthly realm I can tell you straight up why decluttering is hard for me–I moved 13 times by the time I was 13 years old. I had a working class single mom, so between financial uncertainty, divorce stuff, and moving towards the best public school district she could, we were on the run a lot. As a kid, coming home from summer camp to a new place is jarring. I have a thing with wanting to feel settled in a space and I think having stuff is part of that. It’s also from a place of having been really poor/broke in my life and wanting to make sure I can be safe and have the things I need. I’m a pantry always full just in case kind of person. State of emergency and stores are closed? My house is where you want to be.

In the past couple of years I’ve been leaning towards late in life minimalism. Well, my version of it, which, compared to how I used to be, will appear way more simplified. (I love glitter, accessories and flamboyance too much to truly ever do minimalism.)

As someone who has come to faith in my thirties, part of paring down is actually trusting the universe. If I get rid of these crayons, can I trust the universe enough that when I need crayons again I will have the means to buy them or borrow them? If I get rid of these clothes can I trust the universe that I will be able to get clothes that fit me when I need them? It’s hard to do that when you’ve had the experience of a weight change and not been able to afford work clothes that fit. (This is why a lot of work wardrobe pieces for me accommodate size changes.)

notesDecluttering old files meant I found a weird stash of personal archives from earlier this decade. I found a postcard from a friend, a note from an old lover, the card I got from the first time I met World Famous *BOB* in person before we became friends, a coupon for Bed Bath and Beyond I still intend to redeem.

The universe works in mysterious ways and somehow, just after I lost my day job in 2008 and set out as an artist/freelancer, I met someone who now invites me over every time she does a closet purge and it’s almost as good as having a personal shopper–her taste is impeccable, we’re about the same size and she loves shopping but is a picky outfit wearer and rarely returns things. Her generosity has kept me in cute clothes through a LOT of financial tough times. Her Tumblr is also amazing, lots of rad fat stuff, sex positivity and feminism.

Katie’s astrology reading was right, I can feel the internal need to simplify and to open up energy. In some ways I’m very excited about moving across the country because it forces the question “Do I love this? Can this be replaced?” for literally everything I own. I appreciate the nudge to do this thing I’ve been doing slowly for the past couple of years.

mailingstackI’m getting really intimate with the post office down the street. My next task is to figure out when the line is the shortest.

When Dara lived with me for a couple of months during chemo she hired my friend Miss Mary Wanna to come be my personal organizer and organize my bedroom. She was really helpful, both knowing my aesthetic and needs as a showgirl (no one can help a performer declutter like another performer), but also being a firm nudge to get rid of the things I really needed to get rid of. It was right after I had lost a bunch of weight and it was helpful going through my clothing. I have a small rubbermaid tub of vintage that fits at a different size because those are items I love and will come back to, and I let go anything that wasn’t something I loved.

(Miss Mary Wanna is a great personal organizer and if you need someone to help you do a project like that, you should get in touch with her.)

meandjoeyI actually really hate the process of sorting through things and decluttering, but I really love putting love out there. It was sooo fun to make a care package of craft supplies, toys and costume pieces my nieces Joey and Etta will love. It definitely helped me forget how much I hate going through stuff.

That experience was great training and I employed the idea that I wanted to really be able to see and use my home better and in order to do that I needed to continue to pare down what I had. I am a longtime follower of Fly Lady (FLY stands for Finally Loving Yourself) and her free systems of organization and philosophies that help folks who are not born organized get some control over their spaces. She’s the person I heard “Do you love it?” from long before everyone was talking about the Tidying Up book.

ettaI love what a weirdo Etta has become, and how princess oriented she is. I made sure that in my costume pieces for her that I put in some balance–a bridal veil I had kicking around as well as a pink suede tool belt. And plenty of really weird toys and crafts. And a lot of glitter.

I began the plans for my impending move in earnest a couple of weeks ago, getting moving quotes (why it takes as long as shopping for insurance to get a simple moving quote is beyond me), and realized that Mercury is in Retrograde and I should just plan to finalize the HOW of moving once October 9th rolls around. I thought it might be helpful to know how much space we have to move before I started packing, but it’s this weird dance of how much I can get rid of versus how much I want to take.

Since Mars is in Virgo I’m using that glitterdone energy towards the organization of the move and it feels great to be taking huge steps forward.

I’m actually learning a lot about myself in this process of decluttering. It’s helping me really think about how I use my time and how it relates to my values. Going through my stationary reminded me how important the written word is in general–I think handwriting is an amazing tool for harnessing energy. Sending random love notes to my loved ones used to be something I spent a good amount of time doing. Doing the decluttering showed me that I want to get back to that.

But I don’t need all of my Girl Scout camp counselor stationary to do that, I can get by getting rid of 70% of my stash and just stick to my card file box. (It’s a great organizational tool for being thoughtful, having cards sorted by occasion and ready to go ahead of time, so all you have to do is remember to go into the card file and pull one out to mail.)

victoriachristmascardIt’s never a bad time to tell a friend that you love them, even if it’s through your 2014 holiday card you didn’t even get printed until February 2015.

I had a friend, Tammy Cannons, tell me she was interested in getting all of my leftover stationary and office supplies and would pay me the shipping. So I had a great time curating an amazing box of old stationary (I said, “I hope you like Winnie the Pooh and Babysitter’s Club”) and threw in a ton of accessories, too. Decluttering + care package is such an amazing feeling.

I’m putting a lot of time and energy into ensuring my stuff goes to great homes. In the past, when I’ve dropped stuff off at Goodwill and Salvation Army I have been told by them that my things would be all sent to the trash. When someone tells you that, you start not trusting the NYC donation monster. Also Housing Works has told me before that they get so much great stuff in NYC they don’t want pedestrian donations. So I’m working on being mindful about how stuff goes away. Since I am intentionally doing my move with a lot of lead time, we’re moving on faith instead of for a job or in a panic, and I’m actually working on how to do this the least stressful way possible.

bevinandtammyI had so much fun putting together Tammy’s care package, too!

I can sort things and do it differently, so I’m going to. It’s helpful to have folks willing to come pick up stuff (also great way to have tea with friends who I don’t see enough) and it’s helpful that my apartment building has a magical “free bench” with a pretty successful turn around. I dropped off my huge stash of craft paint the other day when I went outside to walk Macy and it was gone before I came back into the building. And the stuff that gets donated for real is going to go outside of the city someplace where they have more space and less population density and hopefully things will go to good use.

I’m instagramming a lot of my process at the hashtag #bevinanddaragowest and it’s also a great way to find stuff I’m offering out there for the cost of shipping. This creepy joyful monkey lamp (I bought when thrifting with Mackenzi) was snatched up right away by my friend Lo Lo from DC who will now add it to their a full of monkey ephemera!

creepymonkeylampjoy

2015-04-10

New Episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket: Downton Abbey Teas (No Spoilers)

THERE ARE NO SPOILERS IN THIS POST.

That’s important for anyone who remains a Downton Abbey virgin. My dog groomer, Sequinette, of Fur Majesty NYC grooming, recently confessed to me that she hasn’t ever watched it. I know she’ll love it, so I said it to her and I say it to any of my readers who haven’t gone there with Downton… It’s waiting for you when you’re ready.

People are so into Downton for a ton of reasons. Here are some of the reasons I love it:

1. High drama: This show, like Empire, Nashville, Alias, Dallas (I went there with an 80s nighttime soap opera), loves to make 90 degree turns with its drama. By the end of an episode out of nowhere a character’s life will be changed forever. Also, like Buffy, the show’s writers are not afraid to kill off a beloved character, which amps the drama up 10 million percent. Scientifically proven high drama factor.

2. Vintage glamour: OMG the costumes! The hair! The sets. Downton the location (it’s set in some huge castle that is a real life place) is practically a character in the series.

maggie-smith-downton-abbey-2The Dowager Countess (played by Maggie Smith) is my favorite character. Her one liners are amazing. “Don’t be defeatist dear, it’s very middle class.”

3. Class tension: There are not a lot of shows on television that address class in any way, even the ones that are set in working class surroundings don’t always discuss it. I love that they talk about it, and especially that the show over the seasons addresses changing times in England, that exploration of the division between “upstairs and downstairs” (the upper class and the serving class that served them) is actually pretty nuanced and ongoing.

4. English people experiencing feelings: Emotions aren’t something Brittish people are known for being comfortable with and it’s so fascinating watching characters who are supposed to suppress feelings having them. The actors are really great in Downton Abbey.

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5. Shirley Maclaine! She shows up sometimes.

6. Tea passion: I literally always go make some tea while watching Downton because they remind me about tea and then I want to drink some.

So when Dara and I found a canister of GRANTHAM BLEND tea from The Republic of Tea at Bed Bath & Beyond last summer we were dumbfounded. Did we plop $12 on a caffeinated tea I probably wouldn’t like as much as PG Tips (because it is my hands-down favorite black tea why try something else). But the answer was, we love Downton Abbey and I figured it would be great to try it.

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Then on a recent trip to BB&B* I found more Downton Teas! Their English Rose tea (based on the daughters Grantham) and their Estate Blend (an Earl Gray based on the Dowager Countess). After that score I knew I needed to Lesbian Tea Basket about it.

Here are the Downton Tea Blends I tried from The Republic of Tea.

English Rose Tea (delightful hibiscus rose blend)
Grantham Breakfast Blend (a black tea basic–don’t be fooled it does not taste like ginger)
Estate Blend (an Earl Gray that is the best vanilla black tea I’ve ever had–you can only get it at Cost Plus World Market OR the CPWM in the Bed Bath and Beyond)

There are FOUR MORE varieties of Downton Teas I still need to try (and you can get them from The Republic of Tea website). Lady Cora’s Evening Tea is next on my list (chamomile lemon blend). Bates’ Brambleberry tea (another caffeinated black flavor tea) comes out on May 1st! And for $6 you can buy a sampler pack of ALL OF THE DOWNTON TEAS. I love a sampler.

You can watch all the seasons of Downton Abbey on Amazon Prime here in the States! And *sob* the upcoming season is going to be the last!

20141106_153105I think I love BB&B partially because of my triple B initials and partially because of the coupons and partially because I live in the city and it is kind of the best suburban style store and partially because of all the as seen on TV merch.

*We were at Bed Bath because I had coupons! I bought a $130 slow cooker/roaster/steamer thing for $80 on a gift card! I felt like the best Cooking Identified Femme Huntress when I scored that level of discount and used a gift card. I love coupons. I’ve been posting my recipe successes with the Ninja 3-in-1 on instagram.

If you want to buy your Downton Tea with a coupon, sign up for the Bed Bath & Beyond mailing list. The most valuable one for this I think would be to get the $5 off $15 coupon from the back of the catalog or use the 20% off coupons from the mailings or that you sometimes find in People Magazine. It’s like the best ongoing easter egg hunt when you have a BB&B gift card like I do and you want to ultra maximize your savings. Do you have BB&B money saving tips to share? Please comment!!! I love this game.

If you want to watch all of the episodes of the Lesbian Tea Basket, my web series where I rate and review tea and reclaim tea parties for lesbians, clickie here!

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