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

2015-10-02

How I’m Leaning into Decluttering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2011-12-23

Christmas is Coming Look Busy

When I settle into it and pay attention I really really really love the holiday season. I love having lots of social plans. I love the colors. I love the music. I love the fact that folks coat their houses in glitter and lights just for the joy of sharing festiveness. My friend Silas pointed out tonight that it is awesome that other people do lights, buy them, put them up, figure out how you maintain security in your home and provide a power source from a 100+ year old brownstone. Dust them off after snowstorms and pack them up when Christmas is over. And we get to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

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Being single and child-free around the holidays can be really hard. I mean, I totally admit to having some holiday blues here and there. My life has lots of reasons to have the blues, I am unemployed and also the whole Seasonal Depression thing. (There is no light! I am a plant I need to rotate toward the sun!)

However, in the last few days I have felt my life perk up noticeably and I think it was because I let myself settle into the joy of the season. On my own terms and not because a TV show or commercial told me to.

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Christmas sweaters for everyone.

First, I recognized that I was putting too much pressure on Christmas THE DAY. There is so much in this season that is worthy of celebrating that it’s sort of like living your Senior year of high school for Prom only and forgetting about all the other amazing stuff you get to do like graduate, sneak around behind your parent(s)’ back, pick colleges if that’s your thing, get a letter in badminton or choir or whatever. There’s a lot to the holiday season that have nothing to do with one day and just about a generally agreed “We are going to be festive this time of year, OKAY.”

Second thing that helped me get into the holiday groove was seeing community care taking. In our queer misfit community more often than not we’re looking to each other for our joy and wonder in this season. Families are super hard to rely on and I have really enjoyed seeing the ways in which my queer community (especially nearby) is really there for each other this time of year.

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Macy in candy cane jammies is so cute it hurts to look at her.

I still have a relationship with my family of origin but they are 3,000 miles away from me, geographically and financially out of reach most holidays.

Thirdly, I just LET GO. More often than not, I have had some giant bummer during Christmas. I feel like twice I had huge partnership break-ups that lead up to me going home for Christmas only to be sort of miserable anyway because I missed my ex. Focusing on Christmas THE DAY means there is so much pressure on it being good and I just needed/wanted to be bummed the fuck out.

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I mean, CANDY CANE JAMMIES. Thanks for the prezzie, Miss Mary Wanna!

It’s extra hard for me sometimes to get into the holiday groove and create plans for Christmas because my birthday is Christmas Eve. I don’t like being the extra sheep at someone else’s family because I want to celebrate my birthday. And sometimes I get so bogged down in “How can I make my birthday perfect” that I don’t just let the wonder of casual plans happen. It is also hard to transition from “This is how we celebrated your birthday as a kid” to “This is how we celebrate your birthday as an adult” when your birthday is on a holiday.

This year I just really let go. I didn’t make any plans happen for Christmas, I just let everything I was putting into the holidays be Rebel Cupcake: Holidazzle on December 10th and after that allowed the month to roll out as it did. And it rolled out really well.

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My look for Rebel Cupcake: Holidazzle was “Fat Red Head Amy Winehouse Christmas Tree Topper.” With Leslie and Mackenzi.

I made cookies for a cookie party in Philly. I love that every year I get to see my niece Etta around Christmas time.

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I stayed in Philly an extra day and was able to go to my friend Miss Mary Wanna’s cervical pink apartment for a tree trimming party the next day in Philly. Four dogs ended up being there!

For a holiday potluck I signed up to bring music and joy. I made a boss holiday mix to play over ipod speakers and wore a christmas sweater set from Quacker Factory and a bright gold skirt.

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I accompanied my pal Lissa to a Murray Little Christmas, Murray Hill’s annual Christmas show. It was so hysterical and heartwarming.

We got queso afterward and it was exactly what I was craving. And apple cider.

I met my pal Leslie out at the Bryant Park holiday market and hung out chatting about our forthcoming monthly shopping event Double Chin Win watching the ice skaters circle the rink. Posed by the tree.

I didn’t have money to buy gifts this year but I did a lot of personal shopping for people. (For last minute gift ideas see my tumblr post–if anyone goes with the My Cherie Amour serenade please let me know.)

It’s weird how there is this societal pressure to Have Something To Do on December 24th and 25th. My darling friend Heather made a proclamation: “Henceforth, I do Declare Dec 25, a Day of Eating Nachos & Doin Whatever the Fuck You Want.”

I loved the invitation to come by her apartment (happily around the corner from me).
“Please rsvp w/ nacho supplies & other snacks & friends!
This is what we have.
We will have everything we need.
Me. You. Us.”

On Christmas afternoon my BFF Brian (neighbors with Heather) will be making Christmas ham and I am bringing the main dish for the lone vegan attending. Green chili. Garnished with a red tomato.

Mackenzi popped the birthday question by asking me if she could take me to a Chinese/Jewish fusion Christmas party on my birthday called Woks and Lox (I love New York). Of course I said yes.

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Silas and Macy at Solstice.

I started creating an intentional spiritual practice about 15 months ago and this is the first time I felt drawn to honor the solstice. I got a last-minute invite to a queer solstice party and did a small letting go ritual around a bonfire. It was so lovely. I spent the late evening cleaning the objects on my altar and smudging my house–the solstice is for letting go of things and it felt like the cleansing of energy was exactly what I needed. And I feel lighter now.

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Next week there’s a really fun last night of Hannukah party to attend. And Sarah Jenny is making me a birthday cake for her Christmas Eve for Jews and other Misfits potluck.

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Sure, there are things I miss about the holidays with a partner. I like having the person I love most in the world close at hand and upon whom I am able to shower attention and love. In a different life path I had kids by now and I’d be doing what my friends Christie and Becky do by being Santa for Etta. But that’s not the path I’m on and that’s okay. And by letting go of control of the path, and the direction of December, I was able to have a really amazing month absolutely chock full of the holiday spirit (and cookies, I’m actually sick of cookies).

So, here’s to celebrating the spirit of joy in our darkest times with chosen family, calling family of origin so my mom can wish me a happy birthday eve (she loves doing that, and I really love that she does that) and making some incredible Christmas nachos. Red and green, of course.

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