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

2014-02-03

New Episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket–A Visit to the Tea Shop in Woodstock

Last week I went away with my sweetie to a tiny town near Woodstock, NY in the Catskill Mountains. A friend of ours gifted us with the time at his rental property as a nice pre-chemo getaway. It was really lovely. I can feel myself completely relax when I’m around nature and out of the city. Part of my relaxation rituals, especially in Winter, involve the consumption of tea.  20140129_142200

Dara and I are both big fans of rooibos teas and we ran out of a few favorite varieties while at the cabin. Since we’re conserving pennies we didn’t want to “go into town” to spend money, but the idea of taking a wander through the adorable storefronts of Woodstock was super appealing. I thought that perhaps we could combine an errand with an adventure and googled tea store in Woodstock thinking I’d find a coffee shop with a smattering of teas. Instead we stumbled upon this gem of a store right in the “downtown” area of Woodstock called The Tea Shop.

It was gorgeous, light-filled and had a literal wall of loose teas, each in a big tin that the shop keeper opened for us and then spilled onto the lid so we could get a good whif of the tea and see the components. Fantastic presentation!

We settled on a few rooibos varieties, and we each picked a black tea (decaf for her, full caf for me) to order a la carte as a cup of tea. I was so delighted by the experience I had to film a Lesbian Tea Basket right then and there. Watch this video below and find out how magical the tea experience was, as well as my rating of the Orange White Chocolate black tea.

You can order from the Tea Shop of Woodstock online. Many thanks to my wonderful friend Leo for editing the video for me.

Other things I loved about visiting the Phoenicia/Woodstock area of the Hudson Valley:

Mirabai–super cute New Age book store. We were drawn in because of the sign that said “Calm, this way.” It was basically the catalog of Hay House in a store, plus a whole bunch of other related awesomeness. Great kids books and virtually all the self-development, spiritual and/or beautiful books you can think of. A giant selection of tarot cards–all on display so you can touch and feel them. There was also a really sweet meditation room that you can just go in and meditate in when they aren’t giving workshops. I almost bought a 40% off calendar but see above about trying not to spend money. (I still don’t have a 2014 calendar so if anyone out there has one to unload on me get in touch!)

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Mama’s Boy Market–seriously it’s called that. They have tee shirts if you’re interested in repping that way. Also, they have an awesome Pay it Forward board where you can buy stuff for your neighbors. One of my favorite bloggers blogged about a woman whose sister had Down syndrome and passed away. On the anniversary of her sister’s death they were doing a social media Pay it Forward campaign, and I thought it was too much of a coincidence not to participate, so I bought a random Phoenician a cup of coffee in honor of Maura.

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If you want to check out more episodes of the Lesbian Tea Basket click here!

2012-03-06

Get Me Embodied: Ecstasy is Necessary Book Review and Interview With Author Barbara Carrellas

Barbara Carrellas radically changed how I saw my sexual identity without even knowing it. I went to a workshop she gave at the Lesbian Sex Mafia on fire play. Even though I had existed in community with tons of kinky folks, I never thought it was for me. And then I saw how empowering and beautiful it was to set someone on fire for pleasure and connection. All of my fire safety skills from Girl Scouts were so thrilled about the care and attention put into the act, and I was immediately drawn to the kind of connection and trust created through those acts.

Barbara is an author, sex/life coach and sex educator. Her new book, Ecstasy is Necessary: A Practical Guide, is on a blog tour and today is my day! Welcome to the blog, Ecstasy! Would you like a cup of tea?

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Me and the Miracle Whips, a feminist performance troupe from LA.

I said hell yes to the blog tour mostly because I think Barbara is awesome and also because I want to learn how to have better, more fulfilling sex, I identify as being in the relentless pursuit of my joy and getting a galley copy of her new book is a pretty rad perk of being a blogger. This book was beyond anything I imagined it was going to be.

This book is an empowerment manual for embodiment. It is a road map to learn how to go into your body and get to know yourself on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. I spend at least 6 hours a week diligently working on these connections for myself and there was a lot I learned about myself within the first seventy pages.

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Photo and body paint by Camrose Artes Infinitae.

You begin to examine your values, needs and desires are right away. I was really surprised when I was working through my values, since this timing coincides with my thinking and talking about how I find balance and settle on my priorities. Distilling your core values to six main tenets tells you what your priorities should be, gives you some guidance as to how to align your life.

Get a cute notebook when you’re getting the book. You’ll need it for your work going inside and becoming the expert about your own body.

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It can be frustrating as a single person without many regular sex partners to want to improve your sex life and not really know where to start. I am a big believer in the power of attraction–that you attract what you put out. This book is a great place to work from within to draw to you what it is you want from a partner. I felt not once alienated by my single status. Barbara also begins the book by giving a shout out to “they” as a gender neutral singular pronoun and the book is explicitly queer positive.

I was able to ask Barbara a few questions that I thought the readers of Queer Fat Femme would enjoy and also really just wanted to pick her brain for things that were going to help me on my ongoing journey for body self-love. It’s win-win, we’re all on the same team!

What is one great thing that folks who feel disembodied can do to open themselves up to ecstasy?

Breathe-often and deep and full. Send your breath down into your torso so deeply that you can tickle your genitals from the inside. Use your breath to experience your body from the inside out. When we feel disembodied we often feel like we can’t place our bodies comfortably in the world. Go within. Try and sense the universe inside your own body. When you orgasm, instead of trying to blast out of your body, dive deep within. Revel in the love and dark mystery of your inner-verse.

Do you have any advice on learning to feel comfortable with a new sex or play partner?

I like the Tantric approach. Accept what is the way it is. Don’t fight it, use it. Sit across from your partner, gaze into their eyes and breathe. This will no doubt be uncomfortable at first. Don’t fight it. Giggle and squirm if you need to but don’t speak. Just keep breathing and eye gazing. As you breathe, gently allow your feelings of nervousness or fear to begin to move toward excitement and anticipation. You will both soon feel an emotional space open up that is safe and comfortable to occupy together. You might want to follow that with some wordless, safe sensual touch. Then you can begin to speak. Whatever kind of speaking follows (negotiation, limits, safer sex, desires, etc.) will be much more easily spoken and received.

How can we help ourselves feel worthy of joy & ecstasy?

Ask yourself, “If I did feel worthy of joy and ecstasy what would that look like? What would that feel like? What would I do or do differently if this were true? If you can’t imagine this for yourself, imagine how someone you admire would feel or act. Then fake it till you feel it. I mean it! Act “as if.” Think of this practice as your emotional rehearsal space and show up for rehearsal daily. You will eventually-probably soon-feel some measure of joy and ecstasy. That will lead to more joy and ecstasy. The joy and the ecstasy will eliminate any feeling of unworthiness. One caveat: this is not a one time transformation. It’s a skill. Once you’ve learned the process you can use it whenever the not-good-enough feelings threaten your joy.

Isn’t Barbara so smart and grounding? I feel calmer just reading her responses. Imagine how great it would be to see her live! Check out her book tour schedule here.

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Me, Kay Ulanday Barrett, Kit Yan, Drae Campbell, and Miss Mary Wanna at Cupcake Cabaret, a show about the radical act of self-love and empowerment I produced last winter.

The book is out and you can buy it! I, of course, as always implore you to get it from your local feminist sex toy store or indie book store. But if you want to buy it online you can do it through this link. Ecstasy is Necessary: A Practical Guide

And there’s so much to read about Ecstasy is Necessary all along the blog tour! Here’s the schedule below:

1 March Kate Bornstein : Kate Bornstein’s Blog for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws.

2 March Viviane : Viviane’s Sex Carnival~A Blog about Sex and Sexuality.

5 March Betty Herbert : Love in the Long Run

6 March Bevin Branlandingham : The Queer, Fat, Femme Guide to Life (That’s me!!)

7 March Kendra Holliday : Striving to bring shy folks out of their shell, and offer a safe haven for those exploring their sexuality and creative side

8 March Sinclair Sexsmith : The sex, gender and relationship adventures of a kinky, queer, butch top

9 March Nancy L. Hill : Cultivating a Beautiful Life

12 March Andrea Zanin : Thought on Sex and Life

13 March Rubyyy Jones: Love Lust & Light

14 March Jill Boyd: Smart-ass Virgins Make Better Whoopie

15 March Heal Your Life: Live blogging with Barbara!

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