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

2015-12-03

I Tackled the Bin: Loving Myself Through Paper Adulting

The moving trucks come to take us to California two weeks from tomorrow. We ended up going with Flat Rate Moving on the recommendation of a friend, and I will be sure to blog about our experience because getting moving quotes took me 10 hours (literally). Personal experience, warnings and recommendations were crucial to my selection.

I feel like the process of decluttering and packing up my life is probably some of the biggest energy work I have ever done. Moving across the country when I was 21 was a life altering event in the best way, even though it took me a couple of years to realize it. At that time I was in college heading to law school and I still can’t believe I amassed so much stuff in four years at UC Davis. I managed to get rid of a ton of it, and the stuff I couldn’t fit in my tiny Saturn SC I gave to my mom to either ship to me or store in her garage. I don’t really have that luxury this time around and I’m having to make a million tiny decisions about whether or not I will need something “someday” and whether or not that matters.

This is a constant battle of trusting the abundance of the universe and cultivating a unique collection of vintage housewares. I’ve also struggled with my burning desire to be “efficient” which is a close cousin to perfectionism. I consider perfectionism in my life a form of self-abuse from which I am recovering.

archivesfliersSometimes you find things while packing that are actually delightful, like a flyer from my Rebel Cupcake days (It says simply “BODY POSITIVE DANCE PARTY” on the other side) and the article where Rebel Cupcake was a critic’s pick in Time Out New York and they used a photo of me hovering over the Gay and Lesbian events section. I am really proud of that moment in my media coverage. It’s one of those things I wish I could just go sit with sixteen year old me and say, “Bevin you feel like a total weirdo outsider now but in less than 20 years you’re going to be a total weirdo event producer and Time Out New York will call you a plus size party girl and it’s all going to be awesome because you’re going to bring the weirdo outsiders together and have more fun than the people you feel isolated by in this terrible suburb.”

Have you heard of the term “adulting?” People are using it all the time now to talk about the kinds of things that we have to do as adults. There’s lots that is unsavory about being an adult, like budgeting, paying bills, making doctor’s appointments, making hard decisions, going to bed early. Adulting lands in the gray area between taking life too seriously and self-care. Some of this has to get done in order to enjoy life, but you have to play in order to enjoy life, too.

I used to think that going to the dentist was my least favorite adulting task. I can’t believe I have to go and pay money for the privilege. I mildly resent it even though I really like my dentist, I just hate that it has to happen.

Now I realize that filing is absolutely my least favorite task. Filing and it’s supremely aggravating cousin, dealing with the mail. Professionally, at my primary money making task as a lawyer in my own firm, I deal with paper all the time. I’m actually supremely organized and have lots of systems for that. I just can’t seem to muster the desire or ability to tackle my personal paper organization at the level I’d like to. Because of my perfectionism I knew it would take hours and hours or likely days to resolve everything. I also struggle with fears around money and dealing with anything related to money and that definitely affected my dealing with paper. (I’m also baby stepping my way recovering my relationship with money and defeating my blocks to money.)

Because it was SO MUCH to deal with the papers and I couldn’t resolve all of it I would do none of it, or the very minimal I could get by with dealing with. It’s mostly putting it off until I can’t deal anymore and then I do a spurt of cursory sorting. Getting rid of junk mail, obvious trash, setting aside shredding. The rest goes into a sack (usually a small shopping bag, Ricky’s are great for this) “to be filed.”

My perfectionism/procrastination cycle kept me from resolving things for years, so those sacks of filing being put off became what I started to call “The Bin.” Eventually I got all the sacks into The Bin, overflowing as it was, and I knew where all important papers were, generally, and when I needed something, I could go through The Bin until I found it. It was functional but not pretty.

Over the years I’ve honed a method of how to handle the papers and harm reduce as I resolve my issues with paper adulting. I finally found a filing system that works for me. I use small plastic boxes like these and have letter size folders–I just went ahead and splurged on a box of 100 because I’d eventually use them for lots of things, even though I didn’t need 100 for my personal files.

I have developed some great habits, like stopping at the trash room on the way into my apartment with the mail to immediately recycle all junk mail. I’ve gone paperless wherever possible. I also have started paper adulting more often, so I am at least staying up to date on things. Because my new file management is easier to get ahold of, I can file easier because it’s accessible. (A tiny tote is easy to pull out.)

meaningfultrashI found this piece of meaningful trash in The Bin that was probably sitting on my printer when I had to move really quickly the last time I moved. (I didn’t get the benefit of months of decluttering that time.) It’s a concert ticket to see Lovers, that I ended up not using because I decided to take a cross country road trip instead. That trip was four years ago! I’m really excited to have another trip on the horizon.

I’ve also tried and failed at starting new better habits, like Only Handle It Once (OHIO) with papers. I don’t know that I’ll ever have a lifestyle where I can just come in with the mail and immediately file things away. I have tried to have a clipboard on the wall with papers that need to be dealt with shortly, a cute accordion file with the same function that is by my bedroom door… The truth is, our systems are only as good as we are at keeping up with them so of course it hasn’t been perfect.

The only thing I’ve found that actually works with paper management adulting is loving myself through it and harm reduction. I know I can do SOME things through spending SOME time. So I’ll set aside a night every now and again to tackle the piles. And it hasn’t gotten as bad as it used to get in the past couple of years through this loving and accepting approach. I haven’t had a sack of leftover filing papers since 2013, actually.

But, The Bin, remained. I could keep up with the papers but hadn’t spent enough time to resolve the old back-log.

Since I knew I was moving cross country, I knew I wasn’t going to be moving with The Bin. I have been working on it for months, a couple of hours at a time. I’ve hand hangouts with a few different friends that involve watching me with mountains of papers going through, shredding, recycling, marveling at things I found from 2001-2013. Just last night I got near the bottom of the bin and asked Dara to flip through a Time Out New York I found. “Can you see if I’m in this? That’s probably why I kept it.”

6991907434_eab70e1c60_bHere’s the other photo I want to show sixteen year old Bevin, taken in the Rebel Cupcake photo booth when the cast of the first run of Bayside! The Saved by the Bell musical performed. From my blog post in 2012 where I wrote to teenage Bevin: “When I was a fat depressed, often suicidal, teenage closeted queer I never thought I would be a New York plus size party girl making out with Zach Morris and gay AC Slater but maybe this was always my destiny. I wish I could tell early 90s awkward Bevin that it gets better. And also that her crushes on boys that looked like Zach Morris and AC Slater were just gaydar.” Bayside! The Musical returns to NYC in January, by the way, if you haven’t seen it, it rules.

I finished sorting The Bin last night. I can’t believe how much shredding I’ve done and how long it took. I think it has to have been at least 20 hours of sorting, shredding, filing and recycling.

I still have my current pile of mail to get through and I wanted to go through my file totes to make sure I’m not bringing too much of any one type of paperwork. And I’m definitely not happy with my personal archive management and know I can do better–basically it’s many files and a box of magazines I’ve been in, badges from significant performances, photos before I went digital and stuff like that.

In spite of that, I feel really proud to have loved myself through one of the most dreaded parts of adulting, and this move. Next up, physically boxing up my bedroom, celebrating my birthday party on Saturday, and figuring out what clothing to pack and what clothing to keep in the car for our road trip.

2012-05-14

Begin Again

One of my favorite concepts in meditation is the idea of it as an opportunity to practice beginning again. It’s a concept brought to me from a book I have been slowly creeping my way through, Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program* by Sharon Salzberg. It was only ten bucks and came with a guided meditation cd and basically sets out why meditation is great and a gentle, 28 day program for becoming one of those daily meditating people you hear about and want what they have.

But, for me, like with all things, this meditation book has taken me way more than 28 days to get through and that’s okay. Sharon says in one of the very first meditations that as you get lost in thought you get to begin again. Come back to the breath. It’s very gentle. The practice of being gentle with yourself with something as simple as a thought coming into your head during meditation, when the idea is not to think, is a radical notion for someone raised in our culture of harsh judgment and perfectionism. Especially for me, where I relied on overachieving and appearing as perfect as possible as a survival mechanism through a difficult childhood and adolescence. Gentleness with yourself is a radical act. So is the idea that you can “begin again” even after you’ve done something wrong.

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When I was a fat depressed, often suicidal, teenage closeted queer I never thought I would be a New York plus size party girl making out with Zach Morris and gay AC Slater but maybe this was always my destiny. I wish I could tell early 90s awkward Bevin that it gets better. And also that her crushes on boys that looked like Zach Morris and AC Slater were just gaydar.

So, you see, dear readers, I am at yet another begin again crossroads. That law firm job I got in January that I was so stoked about? Totally bad fit. I won’t get into the specifics, but after about a month of thinking it was going well, it just wasn’t. My talents are manifold and were not a good fit for that environment. And I was miserable and working really hard. Certainly not making enough money to be worth the amount of stress I felt, though I believe that even one of those $150,000 a year associate jobs isn’t worth that kind of stress on your body and life. And so, after three and a half months, I am going my own way again. As a Capricorn overachiever I can be very committed to things and get mired into it even if I am not enjoying it, so to have it only be a three and a half month detour is significantly shorter than I otherwise would have stuck it out.

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Me and much of the cast of Bayside the Un-Musical at Rebel Cupcake. There’s one weekend left in their run (May 16-19th at the Kraine Theater in the Lower East Side), I saw the show and it was ridiculous and a MUST SEE for any fan of Saved By The Bell.

It was a shock when it happened, however the relief and peace I have felt since it was decided I wouldn’t be working at the firm anymore told me this was the right path. Decision making is a self-correcting process, I believe that even when you make a choice there is guidance about that. If you make the wrong choice, there will be a gentle (and then not so gentle) nudge away from it until you get on the path you’re meant to be on. Sort of like when I was engaged to someone who I know 4.5 years later was a terrible fit but at the time was undeterred and had no perspective. That was a self-correcting process. And, even though it was devastating at the time, I feel great about the life I have now.

The last 4.5 years have held a crazy amount of change for me. My life is radically different but so much more than I could have imagined. My Saturn Return was bananas–end of engagement, laid off from a job of 5 years, a terrible living situation necessitating a move while being on unemployment–and things keep on changing and upheavals keep happening. I sold my beloved Prius in April because I knew financially it was the right choice–good thing because then I lost my job and selling it has given me SO much flexibility.

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And today, I have a lot of possibilities and opportunities. I have been working on a new memoir, shelving the more difficult and emotionally fraught memoir for later, and it’s flying out of my hands and into a shitty first draft. (All hail the working through perfectionism enough to be okay starting with a shitty first draft!) I am feeling more creative than I have in months. I’m happy. It’s been two weeks and part time work and per diem jobs are sort of popping up. Enough to pay the bills.

I won a reader’s choice nightlife award from Go Magazine, the largest circulating free lesbian magazine in the world, as Best Emcee (and thanks to all of my readers who voted!). Rebel Cupcake won for Most Eclectic Crowd.

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The awards were really heavy. I felt like the Adele of the Lesbian Nightlife Awards. Also my Grandmother thinks I look like Adele since she went blonde and I don’t know whether it is because we’re both fat and wear big eyelashes but I’ll take it as a compliment.

Rebel Cupcake, a nightlife party celebrating all bodies and flamboyance, just turned two years old! At the two year anniversary one of my heroes, Barbara Carrellas, did a sex magic fire ritual and the demo bottom turned over and she made a cake out of foam on the bottom’s naked torso with two candles in it and the whole club sang Happy Birthday to Rebel Cupcake while the cake burned. That was an incredible moment.

I wrote a new workshop and debuted it at Columbia University for their Radical C.U.N.T.S. club about embodiment and learning to get into our bodies. (Called Get Me Embodied, like the series of embodiment posts I am continuing to write for the blog.) It was such a wonderful experience and afterwards I just thought “This is what I need to be doing.”

All of this happening literally on the heels of my last day of 9 to 5 work I am taking to be a sign that my artistic life is on the right path. It is terrifying trusting the universe and not knowing how I’ll have retirement or health insurance, but I am also very, very happy. And I know, somehow, I will figure it out. And I know there is power in letting myself begin again.

*I link to Amazon because I get a tiny referral fee for anything folks purchase from clicking through to Amazon from my blog but I suggest buying it wherever you can, it is a great read.

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