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

2013-05-01

Book Review: Reveal: A Sacred Manual for Getting Spiritually Naked by Meggan Watterson

Cruising Twitter one day in early April hero and mentor Barbara Carrellas tweeted that we should check out the new book from her friend Meggan Watterson. I plunged into the internet rabbit hole, learning that this book was about delving inward for spiritual fulfillment, something I have been yearning to develop. With Barbara’s recommendation and my curiosity piqued, I was ready for it. Hay House Books sent me a review copy of Reveal: A Sacred Manual for Getting Spiritually Naked.

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The book is part memoir, part self-help manual, part spiritual overview, with a distinct focus on the Divine Feminine. I learned so much about world religions and spiritual practices I didn’t already know.

The author travels on two different pilgrimmages to Divine Feminine sacred sites in Europe and tales of those journeys are part of all of the awakenings in the book. She trumpets many times that she went all that way to find something that was inside herself the whole time.

That’s what was most captivating for me reading this book. I wanted to find a way to not get so rocked to my core every time something happened “to” me or someone in my life left. I’ve done a lot of this work, through building my self-esteem and self-worth, but I know there’s something in my spirituality leading me to that solid, unshakeable core as well. That is the ultimate destination in the relentless pursuit of my joy.

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From the book: “The fierceness of Kali’s iconography is a symbolic attempt to capture the intensity of her force. The complete transformation Kali’s unconditional love demands feels as terrifying as her appearance. It’s a love that is powerful and paradoxical, trasformational and frightening, because it asks for nothing less than complete surrender.” Kali is a goddess for those of us who have been called “too much.”

Meggan talks about her intense fear of flying that she was able to overcome with an integrated spiritual practice, ultimately learning how to replace her fear with faith. By the end of the book she mentions dancing down the aisle of the last commercial flight she was on. A stark difference from the white knuckled grip of fear she used to experience. I think a lot of folks can relate to wanting to unlearn fear that holds us back from our destiny.

The book is organized in seven main steps to “Reveal” the sacred truth within. For those out there interested in body liberation activism, her chapter on REVEAL: Your Sacred Body will especially resonate. Getting into your body and seeing it as sacred is essential work to living wholly integrated. She also talks about returning to the body after a childhood sexual assault and I thought it was a great chapter about embodiment.

I’m also particularly curious about how one listens to their soul-voice–that still, small voice that creates impressions or straight-up talks to you from the inside, telling you where next to go. There’s a whole REVEAL: Your Soul-Voice chapter.

I really enjoyed Meggan’s tale of meeting “the hugging saint” Amma, who literally hugs every single person she meets. I was so impressed–what a heart-open way of connecting with people. Amma’s website claims she has embraced 32 million people. That’s like more hugs than anyone gets in a lifetime. Looking at Amma’s photos I see so much of my step-mom in her it’s actually really mystical.

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I’m also always ready to find cissentric language in things that talk about “women’s” whatever, but this book wasn’t gender essentialist. It talked extensively of the bond women share, the sacred feminine, but made very little reference to how womanhood is embodied or created.

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From the book, discussing her first visit to the Black Madonna of Notre Dame de Vassiviere, pictured above. “The Black Madonna is black not just because of her relation to the Egyptian goddess Isis but also because ‘she has literally or figuratively been through the fire and has emerged with an immense capacity for love and understanding.'” That is how I always want to emerge from pain.

Bonus for all of you R. Kelly fans out there–she met him on a ship once.

Books like Reveal are necessary because so much of feminine energy and women’s bodies are erased, ignored or subjugated from modern-day spirituality. I learned so much that piqued my spiritual interest. One of the signs of a good book is that it keeps sliding into my everyday conversations. Like talking to my roommate about my interest in the Gnostic Gospels, turns out she has a copy and it’s in my living room waiting for me.

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When people talk about what was edited out of the Bible it makes me so annoyed! My mom, who declined to raise me Catholic though she was raised Catholic and now attends mass every Sunday as an out Lesbian in a gay-accepting church, always said she was suspicious of any book that deleted the voices of women. I wish I had spiritual teachings like Reveal growing up!

Buy Reveal on Amazon for $13.29, Kindle for $10. Buy it from Hay House directly for $15.

2013-04-29

Fat Babes Pole Dancing Class

My new friend Jacqueline proposed two things after I told her about my recent break-up: a tarot reading (which I took her up on) and finding a pole dancing class. She wanted to go with a fat and/or crip person (two things she identifies as) who was not already a stripper because what’s the fun in being a beginner with someone who can already flip around a pole like it’s no big deal. I love trying new things with other fat babes, so I was all in.

Doing activities in the erotic genre are a great way to reclaim your body in the wake of a break-up and feel empowering especially when you might not be getting laid as much as you’d like to, regardless of your DTF* status. It’s also a great way to expand your repertoire and enhance your fat sex!

The class Jacqueline found for us was at Sacred Brooklyn, a yoga studio and pole dance palace three blocks from my old apartment in Bed Stuy on the border of Clinton Hill. I tried the studio once, for hot yoga, which was the one and only time I have done hot yoga and I got injured. So I haven’t been back.

The classes are a little pricey–twenty bucks for 75 minutes. (The going rate for yoga and exercise if not included in your gym membership is $15 in that neighborhood.) In spite of the price I thought it was cool to try something new and I also was certain I would have fun doing this with Jacqueline.

She did some recon ahead of time emailing the instructor to ask about fat babes in class and the instructor, Roz, was very body positive in her reply so I was stoked. It’s a great idea to reach out to the instructor ahead of time if you have any concerns about the class. Most yoga and exercise proprietors I know want their customers to feel engaged!

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Jacqueline’s outfit for pole dancing. She took off the scarf and leggings.

The studio emailed us instructions to wear no lotions or oils the day of class and to come in a tank top or sports bra and shorts. Neither Jacqueline nor myself are shorts identified, so I went with a sweat skort (a skirt made of sweats material that has shorts sewn in underneath–I have two of these and swear by them for summertime gym-going) and my Yes Fats Yes Femmes tank top and Jacqueline wore a black and white stretch pinstriped pencil skirt and tank top. She’s just a babe like that. (Also red panties underneath that were plain to see when we did certain moves. Oops and sorry not sorry.)

Roz came into class like a house on fire! She was so full of energy and enthusiasm. I loved it! I used to be extremely loud and enthusiastic when I was in my early twenties and I’ve never met anyone louder than me until Roz. It was refreshing and beautiful. She had on a new push-up sports bra she got two for one at Lane Bryant and I appreciated the shopping tip!

#Babestagram

The class had twelve people in it (which is the max I think), an instructor and an assistant instructor. The demographic was all over the place, tons of gender presentations, body sizes, races and at least a twenty-year age span. There were at least two folks I would have pegged as “masculine of center” on the street.

Roz admonished us to “stay in your lane,” meaning we’re all at our own level of skill and we should try to do what we can do and not focus on what other folks are doing. This is a good reminder for most physical activity! Also good because even though this was a beginner class there were lots of “regulars” who had been coming for quite some time.

We did a long set of good stretches to hip-hop and R&B slow jams, a genre I love. It was sort of like yoga with a groove. The introductory activity was a mirroring exercise, where they paired us off with the “divas” (more experienced students) and the newbies maintained deep eye contact and mirrored the dancing from one side of the room to the other. These dances involved sexy crawling, erotic arm movements, basically hot stripper moves. Because it’s more than just on the pole!

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I tried out being a blonde last weekend, too.

Then we did some pole exercises. The first was a “crunch” where we used our upper back, core and arms to lift us up off the ground. It was a little intimidating, but Roz showed us a few different variations for success. There are four poles in the room so three of us at a time rotated. The “divas” did a much more complicated version and I watched them out of the corner of my eye. We were all so co-cheerleading! It was such a positive room, a win for one was a win for all (and when you’re watching other babes doing pole dancing, probably that’s a win anyway).

There is some pole maintenance, like putting on this hand drying stuff and wiping sweat off the pole. It’s really hard to lift yourself off the ground if your hands are sweaty!

Then we did a spin exercise. I liked it, it reminded me of spinning on a playground. Roz gave us an ass dancing tutorial (which was a version of a “twerktorial” I saw the week before at Rebel Cupcake) and then wanted us to practice it.

In the “circle of love,” Roz had us all sit in a circle and each of us took a turn practicing a dance for the group. It could be something we saw in class, something we saw on youtube and wanted to try, we could practice the ass dance, or anything. It was fun and goofy and hot and liberating. Everyone was still so supportive!

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The twerktorial at Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Kelsey Dickey!

The last move was a reverse spin, that the assistant instructor Rebecca said was easiest if you exhaled as you began the spin, which I found really crucial to loosening up enough to let myself spin to the ground around a pole. Not an easy thing to do for me, falling on purpose and doing it with grace.

We exited the class (which Roz warned at the beginning would run late and it was almost two hours total) doing another mirroring exercise. I thought it was an incredible experience! I felt so positive, challenged and embodied. I could be silly and try new things and use my body in different ways.

I was sore the next few days like I had athletic sex. My knees hurt from all of that crawling, my inner thighs and arms and back were definitely feeling it. Jacqueline and I are definitely going to go back (and try to bring more fat babe friends).

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Dancing at Rebel Cupcake/Sweet Fox with Zachary. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

*Down To Fuck. See this post.

2013-02-11

FAT SEX WEEK: Courtney Trouble’s New Porn “Lesbian Curves”

After the success of GAY SEX WEEK on my blog in October 2011, I decided to produce FAT SEX WEEK to celebrate sex for all bodies. This is especially inspired to counteract all of the media about sex around Valentine’s Day that’s all heteronormative/couplehood-oriented/body hegemonic. It’s a week of body liberation and sex and it’s going to be really fun! Check out all of the FAT SEX WEEK magic!

(All the photos in this post are Safe For Work as long as fat girls in lingerie are safe for your work. Fair warning.)

The best thing in the world to launch FAT SEX WEEK here at QueerFatFemme.com is a review of a totally QUEER FAT FEMME ON FEMME porn! Lesbian Curves was just released by that bombshell Courtney Trouble from her indie body positive porn production company TROUBLEfilms.

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This is hot babe Courtney Trouble wearing an outfit of lingerie I wrote in my porn review notes “Need to find those underwear and buy them.” Femme reviewer realness.

I have long admired and appreciated Courtney Trouble’s porn femmepire. She says in her blog, “My audience may be smaller than most, but knowing that my art is on track with a larger scheme of the adult industry makes me feel like I’m working towards a goal of normalizing, representing, and respectfully erotizing what may seem like a ‘fetish’ or a minority in mainstream sexual ideals.” This is exactly in line with why I think sexual content in identity work is so important–it is really powerful to own our sexual liberation and represent it in a way that is both sexy and honest. I love Courtney’s art!

On to the review! Courtney sent me a review DVD of Lesbian Curves and I watched it a little differently than I usually watch porn, which is usually picking and choosing scenes based on my mood. This time I went beginning to end, on the couch like a movie, and we even went into the special features the next day!

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Betty Blac. All of the stars of Lesbian Curves are hardcore babes.

Here is Courtney’s summary of Lesbian Curves:

Sultry body worship, sensuous kissing, playful taunting, sex toys, chemistry, and hard core lesbian fucking are what make Lesbian Curves the genre-busting adult film you’ve been craving. This full length feature is full of luscious skin, bodacious bodies and intense orgasms, brought to you by the fiercest femmes in porn, soaking wet and thirsty for passionate, curvaceous, gritty, real lesbian sex.

Starring Courtney Trouble, Kelly Shibari, Betty Blac, Sophia St James, Sandy Bottoms, Kitty Stryker, Peppermint Fatty, and Eden Alexander and shot in full HD.

I really adored that the cast is size diverse throughout the range of “fat” sizes–from inbetweenie on up. Check out the cast photos here (NOT safe for work). It’s also racially diverse, including a scene that is just two queer women of color.

It’s clear that the porn performers have real chemistry. Especially the scene between Kelly Shibari and Betty Blac. I had a long conversation while watching it about whether or not they were a couple in real life.

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The music is good, especially during the first partner scene. It’s almost like someone was DJing the porn. I like it when porn music actually flows well. It’s also luxuriously edited. There aren’t a lot of story lines in this movie except the scene between Kitty Stryker and Eden Alexander.

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There were no safe for work photos of Kitty Stryker from the press kit so I borrowed this from Kitty herself. She has two-toned hair and cute glasses in the movie. I had a long conversation during her scene about how to get Kitty to make out with me.

Sophia St. James has been a favorite of mine for a long time, ever since I saw her in Bordello (another amazing work by TROUBLEfilms). She has a great scene with Peppermint Fatty that involves a juicy strap-on. I’m interviewing Sophia later this week as part of FAT SEX WEEK.

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I’m pretty sure no nipples makes it safe for work.

A lot of the scenes are best described as “Sweet and hot.” There’s a deep tenderness and body appreciation between the performers. Not a lot of kink involved in the movie, which is a little bit of a bummer because, to be frank, a lot of those sweet asses could have used a vigorous spanking and/or some good biting. (Just saying. Kitty Stryker, call me.)

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I never consider time wasted watching porn if I learned a sex technique I can fold into my repertoire. Courtney does this thing in her scene where she holds her tits together and has her scene partner suck both nipples at once. This is not easily accomplished in real life but is fun to try!

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Watching porn that represents people whose bodies look like yours and who are doing sex the way you like to do sex is incredibly self-affirming. I thought that the intro to the video, where a fat girl (Courtney) is engaged in some serious self-loving body worship, was extremely powerful from an artistic and embodied point of view. And also just totally hot.

It can be hard to find porn that represents your body or how you like to do sex, which is why it is so crucial to support indie porn makers like Courtney and TROUBLEfilms (which has a pretty incredible queer, race, gender and size diaspora).

Lesbian Curves is $28 on dvd (which includes lots of extras, that I enjoyed greatly). You can download to own Lesbian Curves for $26.

I was talking to my friend Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasina in my kitchen the other day about Lesbian Curves and she said, “Were there queer fat femmes getting tied up? That’s what I want to see!” And we went on to basically write the sequel, Lesbian Curves Two: Femme on Femme Action and it involves a scene where LLPS whips someone while they recite the Femme Shark Manifesto. Courtney, if you want me and Leah to help you vision this we’re happy to get coffee.

A copy of Lesbian Curves is the perfect present for your lover, partner, bestie, future sexcapade for Valentine’s Day! Also, you can give the gift of a QueerPorn gift certificate from Courtney’s website!

Stay tuned for the next installment of FAT SEX WEEK tomorrow!

2012-03-05

Get Me Embodied: Bevin’s Story of Disembodiment

When I was first involved with fat activism and radical queer body positive communities I heard the term “disembodied” thrown around a lot without really understanding what it meant. I understood unlearning body shame, body self-hatred, body disempowerment but I didn’t understand the distinction from disembodiment.

I started asking around and my working definition of disembodied is not being present in your body–checked out. While you literally have a body there is such an intense mental, emotional, spiritual and/or physical disconnect with your body that you are not aware of it. I’ve heard some folks describe it as literally being out of your body, like your perspective is above and separate from your body, especially during trauma or triggered trauma.

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Me and my pal Aleza at the Jews for Racial and Economic Justice Purim Ball. The theme was aptly “bodies”.

Disembodiment is an intensely personal experience that stems from systemic causes, as explained by my erudite roommate Damien Luxe, who wrote about her embodiment through the gym in a previous post and is working on a performance piece about embodiment for Heels on Wheels Glitter Road Show.

It can be caused by a lot of things, including intense body shame, gender trouble, abuse, trauma, sexual assault, other assaults, depression, dysphoria, anxiety and a whole host of mental health issues, and many many other reasons. Our bodies are constantly under attack in the media and in our culture and especially women’s bodies and the bodies of other oppressed folks. Basically, it’s really hard to have a body in this culture and there are a lot of ways in which people deal with that, including checking out of their bodies completely.

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Afrotitty at JFREJ Purim.

Disembodiment is a survival mechanism for bodies under siege.

Becoming embodied once more is a practice and a life’s work. It’s not the kind of aha moment where suddenly you click your heels three times and you’re back in your body. You develop tools and exercises to put you in touch with your body. Sometimes things happen, as with all grief and trauma, that might bring you back into that space of disembodiment or trigger a desire to check-out. And you can reach into your tool bag and do something to help you settle back into your corporeal place.

It never occurred to me that I had been disembodied as a youth. I’ll save the details for my memoir, but my experience as a teen was being very depressed, suicidal and constantly under attack and shame about my body. I hid my queerness and any other weirdness I could, but the result was that by the time I was in college I was entirely checked out of my body. I had a traumatic death in my family when I was 19 and the way I dealt with that and all other traumas was to power through it and forget it ever happened.

So when I came out of my shell, got into my body and started to learn to love myself, I just moved into my new life and didn’t look back. I remembered the shame and the hiding and the green corduroy overalls but I didn’t think about what my experience in my body was like.

I was a late bloomer and in college I was intimate with exactly one person, my first girlfriend. We didn’t even have sex. I mean, thank the goddess we didn’t have sex. (Of course, I had a lot of shame about being a late bloomer then, too.) Two years ago I reconnected with that first girlfriend and the experience of being physically intimate with the same person I had been intimate with in college sent me into a flurry of remembering. I remembered the experience of being 19 and not in my body. Of feeling desire mentally but not really feeling it physically. Of kissing and checking out so I wouldn’t feel the shame of my body.

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Hana Malia and Glenn Marla performing as “headless fatties” enacting the fat shaming obesity prevention subway ads in NYC right now. Their theatrical work My Wife’s Ass is incredible and they now have a page on facebook.

And I remembered more. I didn’t look in mirrors because I didn’t want to see myself. I didn’t look at my body when I showered. I just denied its existence because it was such a site of failure. I just didn’t feel it.

It was remarkable to have a name for what I had gone through. I didn’t feel worthy of having a body because it could never be the “perfect” body and I just couldn’t get into it.

What got me out of the disembodiment is a life’s work. I found my body performing, getting on stage and creating art for audiences, moving my body and experiencing it as an empowering artistic tool. I found my body by dressing to express who I was and not who I thought I should be (androgynous lesbian realness) or trying to hide in baggy clothes. Empowering my physical appearance and expressing myself on the outside. I now find my body in lots of different ways. Walking at least 20 minutes a day is a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual exercise for me. Looking, really looking, at my body. Dancing, feeling free in the motion. Loving the parts that I still need to be gentle with. Reminding myself that part of my spiritual journey here on Earth is using this body and this vessel. Learning how to express and receive desire. Doing yoga, going to the gym, and being present during those activities. Stopping my mind and letting my body do the feeling.

I am super into talking about embodiment and disembodiment these days, making art about it and I am writing a new workshop on embodiment, and am hoping to get some of my incredible friends to share their experiences on the blog and the Lesbian Tea Basket.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a great book review about embodiment and sexuality.

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Playing mamarazzi with Damien and JPG at Purim. I love that I have the opportunity to talk about this kind of stuff at the kitchen table.

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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