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

2016-11-29

Bevin’s 2016 Holiday Gift Guide Centering Queer, POC and Women Owned Businesses

I have been doing a gift guide* for almost as many years as I’ve been blogging here (since 2008) and I always center work by queer, POC and women owned businesses. Now, more than ever, we need to be mindful about where we are putting our dollars! If you can buy your holiday gifts or handle your self pampering needs by supporting artists and businesses that are facing a loss of protection after Drumpf’s election, you are able to do a really concrete thing to help folks out. Money is energy in 3D form–it is important to put a damn in Capitalism, reroute it away from corporations and into the hands of folks whose lives will improve because of it!

If you can’t buy but can support folks by amplifying them on social media, that’s a gift, too, for a hustling entrepreneur!

I’m also highlighting folks who live in red states, supporting queers, POC and women in those spaces is especially vital now that racist, homophobic and misogynist nationalists are emboldened. We are in this together and redirecting our spending is an important way to connect and support social justice.

Make Good Choices
OMG OBSESSED. How about for the Femme Jewess in your life, this LIPSTICK MENORAH? Everyone should buy his and his or hers and hers or they and hers or whatever cups for your next queer wedding! I really want the Never Been Gayer mug to reaffirm my commitment in a Drumpf Presidency to get GAYER AND LOUDER AND WITCHIER. I want to buy everyone I know this Hannukah present, Oy to the World mug. NEVER BEEN MORE APPROPRIATE.oytotheworld

The prancing unicorn mug is a perfect idea for a weirdo in your life.youmakemefeellikeprancing

Make Good Choices on Instagram.

Tie By Hand
One of my oldest friends, Christie, just started a woodworking business called Tie By Hand! She makes a lot of really cute and useful accessories and toys. Dad gifts galore! I have always loved watching Christie create, she puts such love and intention to what she builds. 10% of proceeds go to Equitas Health the LGBT health center in Columbus, OH where she lives. Support a queer family living in a red state!

I think her bottle openers are perfect for the rustic masculine person in your life, elegant in their simplicity. tiebyhandbottleopener

The kids’ toys are wooden and adorable.tiebyhandunicorn

I am simply in love with this magnetic knife holder. tiebyhandwalnutknifeholder

Check out all of her unforgettable one of a kind gifts on her website and the LGBTQ mentorship program she is working to implement.

Paypal Christie@tiebyhand.com to buy any of her products!

Genuine Valentine
Genuine Valentine creates apparel for gender nonconforming folks and anyone who identifies outside of the gender binary. I’m so into the simple design and cozy styles. Run by a gender nonconforming roller derby playing drag king performing friend of mine, I’m so excited to share some of my favorite gifts.

This shirt is a great gift for someone who is interested in showing solidarity/acting as an ally for gender nonconforming folks! Comes in XS-3X.
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I have been giving gifts of clever onesies for all the amazing babies born into my life. I love the sentiment, Dolly Parton said in her Pure and Simple Tour that her mom did great by her to let her make her own path and parents could support their kids by just letting them be themselves. I think the Making My Own Path onesie is a great reminder of that great advice.
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The Future is Genderless–I love this kids’ shirt. genuinevalentinefutureisgenderless

Use code QUEERFATFEMME for 15% off orders at Genuine Valentine!
Genuine Valentine on Facebook
Genuine Valentine on Instagram

Furface Pet Portraits
If you know someone who loves their pet, buy them a digital pet portrait from Fur Face Art! Ketch is a queer artist who has two remarkably cute rescue pekingese dogs and draws really compelling art of pets! It’s been a longtime dream of mine to get portraits done of all of my pets! Order soon because Ketch usually gets full up closer to the holidays! furfaceartshihtzu
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Fur Face Pet Portraits on Facebook
Fur Face Art on Instagram

Hello Holiday

I found this shop through queer fat femme fashion icon Nicolette Mason. They are based in Omaha, Nebraska–red state! They also rep Black Lives Matter on their instagram, which immediately got my attention for folks I want to support!

I’m so into the Girls Support Girls tee shirt–it comes in pink or white and all the way to 3X and is $33. Bust up internalized misogyny! Great gift for pre-teen and teenage feminists!helloholidaygirlssupportgirls
This Intersectional pin is sooo cute. Great gift for academics and social justice types who go to a lot of conferences and wear blazers or denim vests with bling. $13!helloholidayintersectional_2048x2048

Hello Holiday on Instagram
Hello Holiday on Facebook

How to Be You by Jeffrey Marsh
If you have a pre-teen or teenager, especially a weird one, in your life, get them this book! As soon as I cracked this book I knew that every single teenager should read it and work through it. It’s part memoir, part workbook to ask yourself the right questions to get to know yourself. When you are growing up as someone who is not a “normal” it is really isolating and lonely! How to Be You is permission giving and beautiful. I think it is suicide prevention and self care to do the work to get to know yourself, especially during adolescence when it is particularly emotionally difficult to not fit in.

Jeffrey Marsh (they/them pronouns) grew up a genderqueer in a small Pennsylvania town and became a social media superstar with their affirming and positive Vine messages. You can buy it here on Amazon and I get a referral for the purchase, or buy it from an indie shop like The Strand or even better an LGBT bookstore!

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Jeffrey Marsh on Instagram.

Stuzo Clothing
Owned by queers of color, Stuzo Clothing, was nominated over five times on my solicitous Facebook and Instagram posts when I asked my followers and friends for recommendations! “A genderless clothing company designed to invoke thought and emotion” Stuzo has some cute presents! They have a store in LA and a robust online store. Also, if you are a person wearing their Koas Kontrol Coat at a party I will stop you to talk about it. STUNNING piece of art.

I LOVE the black mesh button up shirt–I think it’s so sharp and the kind of thing that is timeless if you have strong style. $75 but only goes Small to XL. (If you’re a bigger person who wants to wear it, contact them and ask them to let you know if they do a bigger run!)stuzomeshshirt

The LEZ hat is so stylish–the bandana brim is a fresh update to the tall letter snapback.

The Adipositivity Calendar
Photographer and Fat Activist Substantia Jones set out to show the world fat bodies in an effort to normalize them. Her cutting-edge work has evolved over the years, and she perseveres doing this stuff through a lot of internet BS from haters. Her play with light, her use of bodies to paint a picture is really beautiful and extraordinary. Modeling for her has been such a great experience. I’m plotzing over this photo from our shoot in June–my eyelashes and tattoo are so incredible in the shot. I feel like art!

Her calendar is an annual collection of never-before-seen shots. I’m in it this year for the second time! It’s such an honor to be Ms. July! (My shot is below–a special sneak preview! I’m a YARD SALE PIN-UP in a rainbow snakeskin lamé bikini.)adipositivity16-06-la-203-yardsale-tagged-1100

In Substantia’s words: Every freaking penny of profit goes toward defraying some of the costs of keeping the Adipositivity Project alive, so stuff ya some stockings with these things. You’ll be supporting fat activism, body positivity, and pushback against bigoted patriarchal jackwaddery. Plus it’s all pretty an’ shit.

Buying this calendar funds the body revolution! Sharing about it helps fund the revolution more! I would love to see Substantia make so much cash off this calendar she can shoot Adipositivity art full time and comfortably for all of 2017! (Share this post on Facebook!)adipositivitycal-page-07-july
Adipositivity on Facebook.

Xiomara Lorenzo Designs

Xiomara Lorenzo Designs makes 3D Printed Hoop Earrings. They come in a variety of bright colors and the process seems really cool. I love the large earrings, I feel like in a bold color they would make an amazing statement piece. If you have a Femme who loves modern design on your holiday giving list, consider these. I would get a color you know she wears a lot (red for red-lipped femmes is a solid choice). If I were buying them I’d get them in hot pink because I’m wearing a lot of black and white lately.
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Xiomara Lorenzo Designs on Facebook

Eye of Crow Herbs
My friend Lizanne is a queer femme herbalist out of Oakland who sells herbal remedy products. We bought some Tumeric Oxymel at the QueerCare LA event in June and we loved it. I am excited to try her other remedies. The 3 of <3s blend is great for anyone you know going through a difficult emotional time, including grief. And the Sleeptime blend would be great for someone you know who is losing sleep at night. Or Lickable massage oil for your lover/love interest/poly side dish / whatever. Lizanne rules. Buy her potions!
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Eye of Crow Herbs on Instagram

Stellarium Jewelry
Stellarium Jewelry is owned by a queer femme friend in Baltimore. Her pieces are beautiful, woo and striking. “Stones that are used in this work are hand selected for their energetic and aesthetic qualities.”

This crescent etching earring is a great choice for someone who loves the moon. stellariumcopperetchingearring

Black, White, and Grey Chalcedony Necklace with Sterling Silver Chain is so beautiful. The stone can help with self doubt or help lessen the effects of dementia and senility. Great gift for someone who could use a tangible reminder that you believe in them. stellariumhowlitenecklace

Last Craft
Last Craft is the work of the amazing Amanda Stilwell, a queer femme in Chicago. If you know someone who loves 80s/90s culture, shop here for them. The New Wave Tarot deck is really cool for anyone who loves New Wave and Woo (a pretty big cross section). As a fan of the movie Heathers and body positivity, I must shout out the Big Fun pin.lastcraftbig_fun_large

Last Craft on Facebook
Last Craft on Instagram

Lockwood Shop
Lockwood is my go-to NYC gift store. My friend Mackenzi owns it and her buying is always on point. When we met 7 or 8 years ago she had one tiny shop in Queens and now she has four! It has been so inspirational to see her work hard and hustle her dreams over the years and I LOVE her baby and kids’ stuff. Like this Metrocard plush rattle!!!nyc-rattles-baby-metro-card_th

Or this dinosaur hand puppet!dinosaurhandpuppetlarge_th

Lockwood Shop on Instagram
Lockwood Shop on Facebook

New York Toy Collective
This dildo and accessories company is owned by a queer woman of color and it is such a labor of love. They work to foster a sex positive world and make gender affirming and fluid products. I met them while they were tabling at a party on mine and Dara’s first one on one outing! (First date according to Dara but since I didn’t know it was a date I don’t count it.) I have the Mason in hot pink and LOVE it as well as the Shilo. Quality pieces that have lasted for the past three and four years, respectively!

I got my Mason as my payment for modeling for New York Toy Collective (it was a “lifestyle shoot” and in the video from the shoot I’m juggling dildos–possibly one of the funnest things I’ve been caught doing on video). I’m super honored to be in this shot with Erika Hart, an amazing breast cancer body acceptance activist who is making big waves right now!
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If you have a friend getting married, consider one of these (or collecting gift cards) for Bachelorette party gifts or wedding shower gifts or I’m in your bridal party gifts. Or maybe give one to your partner to sizzle things up this holiday season! They can make a sex toy out of any genital through their 3D scanning!

New York Toy Collective on Instagram
New York Toy Collective on Facebook

Massage and Body Paint with Julia Cameron Damon
My friend Cam is an amazing body painter and masseuse. She’s based in Longmont, CO, so if you ever are driving through definitely get in touch with her about booking a massage. (I did that once driving cross country, stayed at her place–which is also an airbnb–and got a massage. It was perfect. It’s gorgeous in Colorado.) cammassagetable

If you want the most incredibly unique and romantic experience to give your partner for a holiday gift, book a body paint session with Cam! She will also fly out to you and do a whole body paint/photography session. It’s amazing, such a beautiful embodying experience. In Cam’s words, “Sometimes folk fly into Longmont Friday have dinner and a massage before bed. Then get up Saturday and we paint and shoot all day. They rest and leave Sunday–I have gift certificates for this experience too. Models come away with 100s of digital downloads.” Since Cam is deaf, it’s best to text her–303 243 2240. She does baby belly painting! She travels a bunch, so seriously just get in touch and talk about it. Read all about my experience with our body paint session in Brooklyn five years ago! cambevin

She posts her travel schedule on her Massage Facebook Fan Page.

Novel Idea Crafts
I love bibliophiles and bibliophilic intimacy, thus I love this woman-owned shop with cute crafts made from old books! Much of them are Christmas-oriented, but she does custom work and that’s what I would love to suggest. If there’s a person in your life with whom you have a connection over a book–like if you were Forrest Gump Jr. you might get your dad an ornament made with rolled pages from Curious George.
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The Paira Birds

If you want to give affordable, really cute art, Tabitha Brown’s digital portraits start at only $15 and really pop. I find them so compelling and joyful. Especially the fox clutching the tea mug (obvs) and many representations of Black folks. foxtea
I feel like this Trini Transistor is a great decor item for a kids’ room.pairabirdsboombox

Bevin’s Tea
Mackenzi said that I hadn’t mentioned my tea in awhile on my blog so I’m making sure to remind readers I’m building an energy healing tea business. The tea is a vector for energy healing when maybe you don’t have the time or money to go have a full Reiki session.

My goal is always to have delicious tea blends, so everything is luxury level blends of organic ingredients. I blend with certain healing properties in mind and emotional effects. Feelings tea is great for when you’re going through it, so is Find Your Chill (especially if you need a sleepytime aid). Dolly Mint is meant to help folks get dollars, stay positive, and ease digestion. Hibiscus Coconut has nettles for anti-inflammatory help and positivity enhancement. Self Love is caffeinated and meant for self loving. I also have a Lesbian Tea Basket sampler pack so you can try all the flavors. My Earl Grey is positively the most popular for folks re-ordering after having the Lesbian Tea Basket. I’m still working on getting up on etsy, but for now you can order it from this page on my blog! I want to make energy healing as accessible as your pantry!lesbianteabasketround1

Bevin’s Tea on Facebook.
Bevin’s Tea on Instagram.

*Inclusion in my gift guide is always free and it is a true labor of love–it takes me 30-40 hours to curate, write, html code, research and resize photos for this post. Dara reminded me I always say I want to start it sooner because I annually forget how long it takes. I’m totally indebted to my friends and followers who help me source a diverse roster of folks to include!

2012-01-04

Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip Part 5: Wyoming, Salt Lake City and Freedom

Dubbed the Lesbian Jack Kerouac by my BFF Brian for my propensity for long distance romance, “A girl in every port and on the road with a broken heart,” he describes me, I set out on a life-changing adventure in November of 2011. This is my tale of deep heart exfoliation via asphalt. Check out all the tales in this series at the Gay American Road Trip 2011 tag.


To Salt Lake City, UT from Longmont, Colorado via Interstate 25, Interstate 80–through Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.

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Longmont is basically spitting distance from the Rockies. GORGEOUS. Majestic.

I left Cam’s at noon to pick up a prescription at a local drug store. I called my doctor because I just felt the slightest hint of an oncoming urinary tract infection and that is NOT CUTE on the road. She called in the prescription. Whatever it was went away quickly with the short course of antibiotics and I am glad I took action for my health instead of hoping it would go away on its own.

I enjoyed that the gas station in Colorado was blasting country music like we were in the South and there were lots of cute men in cowboy hats hopping in and out of pick-up trucks. This was my first time in Colorado. I drove through a few small towns outside of Fort Collins on the way to I-25 and stopped at a Goodwill looking for Double Chin Wins. Nothing doing. As I said in my yelp review, the pricing was great for end-users but not for vintage resalers–whoever is doing the pricing at the Goodwill in Fort Collins is very conscious of value, which is actually great for them. But I prefer thrifting where I get to determine what the treasure is, you know?

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Once on the highway I was still feeling the buzz of the love from Cam’s house and how nurtured I was feeling. I was enchanted by the expansive rolling beige hills of Colorado and just as I was about to enter Wyoming saw a big buffalo cut out sign. Thinking “It would be really cool if that was actually a buffalo ranch” BAM, there were buffalo. Roaming.

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When I-25 intersects with I-80 in Cheyenne, the freeway makes a great curve. I was so overtaken with the beauty of the sky there. I had a spiritual moment.

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There is something so incredible when the sky keeps going on forever like that. I felt lighter. I felt open. I felt that energy shift I had been longing for during the last few months of loss and change and grief. I felt free.


Cue MEN’s “Who Am I To Feel So Free”

My break-up in November was the last straw that sent me packing on this trip. I was sort of intent on it working through the holidays and the winter, figuring even if we weren’t forever times compatible we could provide some joy and comfort to one another in the meantime. That she dumped me out of the blue rather than work on things was a shock. It was also a complete blessing in some ways because it liberated me to do the soul-searching and processing I needed to in order to rise from the ashes of my life.

Cue June Carter Cash & Johnny Cash “It Ain’t Me Babe.”

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We had been monogamous and it was the first time I was in complete monogamy monogamy for several years. My fiance and I were non-monogamous with a few rules and didn’t really use it. And anyone I dated after that was never a girlfriend girlfriend. I had once been “secret monogamous” (so declared by a friend) because I was seeing someone and even when presented with ample opportunity I didn’t stray. So being for real monogamous for the first time was a weird mindset shift. If I was attracted to someone I might feel guilty or have to internally process that “Okay, we’re all gonna be gay for real long time,” or something. It’s not hard for me to practice monogamy but I am the kind of Femme who just wants the theory of freedom more than the practice. Monogamish.

My friend Heather weaves this great metaphor. I am a wild pony and I like my corral door to be open. Line the corral with lots of snacks, I’m not really wandering. But when the door is closed it just feels so closed.

So I had been feeling the effects of a closed door. Not necessarily in a bad way and not that I won’t be monogamous again. But this was three weeks after my break-up and I was still doing my internal conditioning of “You can’t act on this attraction because you are monogamous.” And then having to remind myself, oh, no, you got dumped. You’re free again.

And this freedom just settled in like clouds shifting in the sky as I drove through Wyoming that day. I felt good.

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It was stunning. Wyoming is beautiful country, I just can’t believe it honestly. That song Cowboy Take Me Away (cue Dixie Chicks) always always reminds me of it. I went through the Northern part of Wyoming when I was 21 and moving to New Jersey from California and was similarly struck with its gorgeousness.

Since this was the end of November, the weather was shifting and there was visible snow. It was sort of exciting. I stopped for gas often, every 100-150 miles instead of every 200-300 miles as I had previously (my tank will get me 350-400 miles but I am a girl scout and I am prepared). I was stopping so much both because of my peeing needs and also I kept fearing there would be some long loooooong stretch of highway with no gas stations. Wyoming is long and the cell service is somewhat spotty at best.

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Sounds tasty. It was the day before Thanksgiving.

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I love a great sunset–best part about driving East to West is watching the sunset everyday.

So the gas stations had snow on the ground and it was really really cold. Macy had on her sweater. We kept going toward Utah. The best part about this part of the midwest is that they typically have Diet Dr. Pepper in their soda machines. It is my favorite fountain beverage and hard to get outside of the surrounding Texas area.

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I stopped at a Sonic for some tater tots for dinner, lost the screw in my glasses when I changed out of my contacts, did some girl scout macguyvering looking around for an eyeglasses repair kit in my car (found it). Took Macy for a good walk in a Wyoming strip mall, atop some rocks overlooking the glowing highway.

I entered Utah and it was pitch black. The drive of I-80 to Salt Lake City is super mountainous and scary. Lots of “look out for deer” signs and twisty turny stuff. I had never been to Utah but was freaking out more about the road and whatnot to notice.

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This is still Wyoming.

I switched my audiobook to the more upbeat Bossypants by Tina Fey. I gripped the steering wheel. I made it to Utah by 9pm. I was road worn.

Cue Starkville by Indigo Girls. A song all about being road worn and love lorn.

I sat in that hotel room (super grateful for the microwave and fridge so I could enjoy leftovers from Cam’s lasagna) and felt all buzzy from Diet Dr. Pepper, updated the music on my ipod and wrote a very hysterical and lengthy email to a friend. Sadly determined my drive the next day was another 12 hour stretch. My previous Salt Lake City to Bay Area projection had been incorrect. I wanted to make it to my mom’s house in the East Bay by dinnertime but wasn’t sure I could physically wake up in time to get on the road by 6AM.

I decided to let the goddess decide (no alarm set) and fell asleep watching an infomercial for the genie bra. [Which, by the way, doesn’t actually make those women’s boobs look great. You’re better off with a well-fitting real bra or wearing a sports bra. I am not sold on the genie bra.]

I was buzzy and road worn, but I was free.

NEXT STOP: East Bay!

2011-12-21

Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip Part 4: Longmont, CO, Queers and Wealth

Dubbed the Lesbian Jack Kerouac by my BFF Brian for my propensity for long distance romance, “A girl in every port and on the road with a broken heart,” he describes me, I set out on a life-changing adventure in November of 2011. This is my tale of deep heart exfoliation via asphalt. Check out all the tales in this series at the Gay American Road Trip 2011 tag.


To Longmont, Colorado from Chicago via Interstate 88, Interstate 80, Interstate 76, CO 52–through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado

I departed Suzanne and Jen’s around 6:15AM. I am a big fan of hitting the road early on long driving days for many reasons. Maximizing visibility by driving during daylight. Safety reasons (better to break down during daylight). Abundance of bathroom breaks (when alone I don’t stop at rest stops after dark). I freely admit to stopping to pee every 50-100 miles. Usually about every 100 but if I’ve had coffee it is more frequent. But the major benefit to me for leaving early is getting to arrive at my destination with some amount of the day left.

This driving day was going to be a big challenge, and I knew it. My AAA trip tik had estimated the drive at 16 hours, which was incorrect, as google maps GPS on my phone quickly alerted me when I plugged in the destination. I sensed there might be something up with the AAA estimate when Suzanne looked at me wide-eyed over the dinner table in Chicago “You’re going to Cam‘s tomorrow? I’ve driven there from here–we had three drivers! It took a long time!”

I’m not afraid to drive for a a great distance (obviously, taking this journey by myself) and know to add about two hours worth of stops when calculating the time it will take.

I believe one day google maps will create a feature called “Bevin time” where it knows I walk approximately 3 minutes slower than it assumes for public transit directions and transfers and when calculating road trip directions will add a 7 minute stop for every hour traveled, which I think it my average amount of stopping time including meal breaks and all the iced teas I require to go the distance.

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In preparation for the trip I had with me a printed AAA Trip Tik from the travel office, maps for every section of the country I was driving through, AAA guide books and a printed updated AAA Trip Tik from my computer (my route changed a little bit from when I had spoken with the AAA agent). All of these resources were free with my $55 yearly membership. However, despite all the trees used in the creation of my navigation safety net, 90% of the time on my trip I used google GPS for android. Tree-free.

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This was super helpful when I got within 30 miles of each destination, as obviously, most of the folks I was staying with lived near my route but not quite on it. Sadly, the GPS navigated me in a circle in Chicago’s early morning “Oh god I hope I get out of the city before traffic starts” commute. I felt like I was in a toilet bowl going in circles trying to get on I-88.

I sat in some traffic and the toilet bowl finally released me into the suburbs and onto the Illinois turnpike. Playing “Come On! Feel the Illinoise!” was pretty perfect considering how gray and entirely un-enthusiastic that road was.

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The sunrise was entirely obscured by gray clouds and the overcast Illinois turnpike was really boring. All morning I worked with the spiritual tool of finding beauty in anything–here’s a gorgeous colorful train working its way across the landscape, here’s a pretty farmhouse I wonder what their holiday traditions are? Another game I like to play on the road (or on public transit) is writing stories in my head about people and what their lives are like. The more unexpected the better.

I was surprised to find at the rest stop that the line for McDonald’s at 7:30am was almost out the door but the line for Starbucks was non-existent. I happily bought some oatmeal and iced coffee and went back out on the highway.

We got to Iowa and highway 80, crossed the Mississippi with little fanfare. Maybe it’s years and years of Indigo Girls fandom but I have high opinions of the Mississippi River and the fact that it costs $12 to cross the Hudson into New York City, $5 to cross the Delaware River, and there’s barely a sign warning you that you’re about to pass across the colloquial demarcation of this country? I mean, I am not complaining that this was a toll-free crossing, I’m just saying get a bigger sign. Have some build-up. I barely had a chance to crane my neck looking for steam ships.

Iowa was hilly, as per Dar Williams’ foreboding, and a little more interesting than Illinois. I noticed here was where folks started staring at me openly at rest stops. I wasn’t even wearing something that scandalous.

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I stopped in Des Moines at a Panera (my favorite road food) for salad and a half sandwich. Walked Macy along a strip mall’s faux sidewalks and kept going.

I was delighted that the rest stops in Iowa had weather tracking tv screens and I was able to determine that the weather was going to shift to clear once I got to Nebraska.

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Before there was clearing, there was more overcast.

This was a Tuesday and Tuesdays for me are my spiritual homework day. I am in an anonymous fellowship that focuses on healing relationships through focusing on yourself. Keeping Tuesdays sacred has been an important part of my dedication. Driving as long as I was I hoped to take a moment with the sunset to do some reading and reflecting. I thought maybe I’d catch a rest stop in Nebraska for that.

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The break in the clouds was really dramatic for me.

Ten hours into my journey I was craving more coffee–good coffee–and the possibility of a Starbucks once I was long past Omaha seemed far-fetched. I pulled off for a McDonalds restroom break somewhere in the middle of the lengthy state and somehow the only Starbucks for 200 miles appeared on my right hand side. I stopped and had the aforementioned goddess rest break with Macy in the outside sitting area. It was sunny now and the sun was starting to perform her swan song.

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The rest of Nebraska went by in a blur, with a brief stop at a Goodwill to get my shop on for Double Chin Win (the pop-up vintage shop for all sizes I am developing with Leslie).

I got a little stressed out about timing my arrival to Cam’s. The GPS seemed to stretch on forever, but she texted that she was a night person. Preparing for my arrival she had asked what kinds of food I liked and had made a lasagna from scratch which she was going to pop in the oven when I was an hour away.

The last few hours were spent on I-76 into Colorado, total blackness on the road with big signs warning about “Big Game Crossing.” Yikes. My hitting a deer fear went into overdrive, brights on and heavy tears from the end of Just Kids alternately working for an against my clear vision.

Arriving at Cam‘s was amazing. Her house is so bright and lively, lots of vivid colors and interesting art to look at, sumptuous furniture just begging to lounge on. Not only had she held dinner for me, she offered a massage. She’s a professional massage therapist and this was the third state we’ve done massage work in. (We have set a mutual goal to massage in every state. I can’t wait for Hawaii.) In fact, I think she’s one of the only massage therapists I’ve used in the last couple of years.

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OMG the lasagna was extraordinary.

Her in-home massage studio is so incredible! It is just beautiful and warm and if you live near Longmont, CO you should book an appointment. She makes her own massage oil and I got my choice. Also Macy accompanied me. I was hoping she would settle down and sleep in the peaceful mood but we were practicing “Attachment Travelling.” She pretty much wouldn’t settle down until Cam put her on the table with me.

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I knew that my self-care in traveling required that an 18 hour drive day needed a morning off, so Cam had planned an omelette bar. She took post-it notes like a short order cook and we could pick pretty much anything we wanted. All the cheeses. Spinach. Red and green peppers. Onions. Top that off with a skillet full of bacon and sausage and it was probably the best breakfast I had until I hit Atlanta.

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I met her sweetie John and Macy met their gorgeous black cat and feisty puppy Riley who stood outside the back door holding a series of toys trying to entice someone to play with him.

The morning in Colorado was stunning. I arrived in the dark with no idea that the Rockies were just on the horizon outside of their sliding glass door.

I felt so warm and welcome at Cam’s. Beyond cared for. Wrapped in a tortilla of love and care.

Cam keeps a guest book in her massage studio and asks folks to sign as they come through–it’s an idea she got from our friend V and I think it is wonderful. So many of our tribe travels through it is nice to remember who stopped in.

The toll booth workers in Illinois were chatty–the first woman I gave my dollar and change to gave me two biscuits for Macy. The second toll booth worker told me, as I heaved my teal Cynthia Rowley bag I got for $20 onto my lap, “You must be rich to have such a big purse.” I told him I was just well-prepared.

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It’s so interesting folks’ perception of wealth and monetary ability. You can’t tell anything by looking at people about their net worth. Honestly. Even the “expensive shoes” trick is a farce. My big purse has more to do with being raised poor than it has to do with being of any means. A scarcity mentality coupled with wanting to feel secure that I am prepared for anything with a sprinkling of being captain distraction and not particularly good at editing. I battle this constantly. I genuinely appreciate when people do not comment how heavy my purse is when they hold it for me. Yes it’s heavy but I do have hand sanitizer and am prepared with a hanky when you need it. You need lip gloss? I have seven. Three shades of red lipstick.

I think wealth has everything to do with your attitude about life and how succulent you live rather than your monetary means. I say yes to opportunities and live on faith (faith it til you make it) and have far less means financially than I could if I just shut myself away in corporate America making someone else rich. I think that by living my life this way I am a wealthy person. Simultaneously, I genuinely do not know how I will pay my rent on February 1.

Obviously there is a balance–I am sad that I can’t be the Lesbian Bette Porter to every queer arts organization that needs $1,000 to launch something incredible. I wish I could fund all of my schemes. I don’t want to live without health insurance. But I am super grateful to have cultivated my adventurous spirit and find more fulfillment from that than I would from making a hundred grand a year. And goddess knows how much it is worth in dollars the quality and quantity of incredible friends in my life who enrich it daily through words of affirmation, kind acts and lots of other ways.

I also think there’s a significant issue with queers and other folks from marginalized groups valuing themselves and the work that they do. Job hunting like I am now I have to put a value on my time and my skills–it’s really hard! I have to remember just like I believe myself to be wealthy because of the value I put on my experiences and the wonderful life I have cultivated, I need to believe myself to be worth the money people pay me and valuing myself monetarily takes a lot of practice. It is important to remember that when I am hired for an event as a performer or workshop presenter or at a company as a lawyer or as a social media maven, I am selling not just my time but also all of the years of experience and education I have behind me. All those years working for free as an event producer in high school, college, girl scout camp, the drag king community, gay prides, etc… add up to someone who has an effective and valuable knowledge base.

That said, the wealth I enjoy in the life I have cultivated, on this trip of a lifetime, certainly womanifested when I visited Cam. There is no amount of American dollars that could have bought the love, comfort, sweetness and generosity I received visiting Cam. Our friendship is wealth. And for that I am eternally grateful.

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I am welcoming another QueerFatFemme.com Blog Benefactor on board! Domino Dollhouse is an online retailer of gorgeous, sexy and exciting plus size clothing. I have been a huge fan for a long time and got to paw through her collection recently. I was impressed at the quality of the garments and found them to be great value for the money.

My favorite piece from the collection came home with me.
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Birthday Bash dress. This one has a price point of $169 (worth every penny in my opinion). But most of her dresses hover around $60-$80.

The Ava Adorable dress is only $54.99 and sooooo cute.
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This Full Skirt looks so foxy on lots of different people (I watched folks try it on all weekend during the final Indie+ show at Re/Dress). $54.99 and comes in grey. There is a similar style in black as well.
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Marianne Kirby models the Minnie Day Dress $79.99.

I also own the Tail Feather dress. I received many compliments when I wore it on my road trip. It was easy to roll up in my suitcase and look cute and casual.

She sells vibrant clothes up to a generous 4X, totally boss leggings and accessories.

Tracy, the designer and total babe behind Domino Dollhouse, is offering a special coupon code for QueerFatFemme readers! Enter “QFF15” (case sensitive) at check out to get 15% off your Domino Dollhouse order!

Thank you for your support of QueerFatFemme.com, Tracy!!

2011-07-19

My Body Paint Photo Shoot with Camrose Artes Infinitae

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There are a lot of things you can do to work on getting in touch with your body. Learning what it means for me to have self-care and physical pampering has been really helpful. So has getting into having bodywork done.

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As someone who grew up both fat and poor, I had a lot of hurdles to get through to feel like I was worthy of someone touching my body to pamper it as well as pay for that to happen. I was 26 and working full-time at a well-paying job until I actually got a massage for the first time.

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Bodywork is an umbrella term that means a lot of different types of therapeutic activities using the body–both through touch and not. Massage is probably the most well-known type of bodywork but there are a lot of bodywork things you can get done including reiki and other energy healing, acupuncture, chiropractic services. I think it’s just amazing to learn how to be touched and how to be pampered.

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In late April I had a bodywork session that was a new form of being in touch with my body that was quite wonderful, brought to me by my friend Cam of Camrose Artes Infinitae.

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I had been massaged by Cam before, both at Michfest where we met (she is on the massage staff) and when she does massage tours through New York City (she’s based in Colorado). She was in town in late April and as the cherry blossoms were in full bloom she was inspired to paint from my existing shoulder piece. I decided to go for the bodypainting bodywork this time.

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I sat down with her at a friend’s apartment in a third floor kitchen overlooking backyards in my neighborhood. The window was open and storms were rolling in and out. We didn’t put on any music, I just listened to the birds and the weather, occasionally chatting with Cam when we were face to face and she could read my lips. But even eyes closed it was a really wonderful experience. Feeling the brush against my body, the breeze on the paint, hours and hours of attention on my whole body with lots of different brushes and sensations. It was unlike anything else I’ve ever done.

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She laid out a huge palate of colors and glitter and proposed color schemes and ideas to me, but I really trusted her instincts. She has such a wonderful eye for different colors, if you page through her portfolio online you’ll see what I mean, every body she works on is totally different.

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She used rose water to mix her paints so all I breathed in for hours was the scent of roses. It was heavenly. She can also do it without rose water if you are scent sensitive but I highly recommend you go for the roses.

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Part of the brilliance of the experience of getting your whole body painted is being able to document it. Cam is a very talented photographer and she has a strong artistic vision. She’s the kind of photographer that prefers to shoot a lot of frames to get the one that is just right.

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She gives really great direction, too. She sees a lot of possibility in architecture and structure, backgrounds and how they blend with a subject.

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Nudity was optional and I have only been shot nude by one photographer before (who is a good friend) so I thought for this since we were planning to try to shoot out amongst the cherry blossoms I would create a special outfit for it. I took an old pink bra and fashioned a sort of faerie floof to it and created a skirt out of shiny gold fabric from my craft stash. I also brought with me a muumuu to wear over it when I needed more modesty.

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I also prepped for the session by getting a manicure in a coordinating color and I decided to just let my hair be wild and fluffy.

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It got too late in the day to go to the Botanic Gardens but we had a lot of fun just wandering through Clinton Hill back to my place. It was like a two woman parade, me popping in and out of doorways and Cam trailing behind me, all smiles and taking photos.

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At the end of the day I felt incredibly peaceful, beautiful and not of this world. I was supposed to go to this legal networking class I had paid for but I decided to skip it and instead visit my friend in the hospital and go to the homecoming show for Heels on Wheels in full body paint. That was way more fun and way more in the spirit of living my life as a full-time artist.

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Cam retains copyright to her images but will give you lots of hi res versions to have for your own collection or to use for your queer performance art purposes (or whatever) with credit back to her. I cannot recommend her body painting services highly enough as a way to treat yourself. She’s also a really great masseuse! She’s gorgeous and has amazing energy! She travels a lot (maybe to your town?) and she’s so wonderful.

Thanks again, Cam!!

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