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

2013-07-23

Mind Diet: Ways I’m Tuning my Radio Dial to Joy

Years ago I started calling my blog a chronicle of the relentless pursuit of my joy. I’ve known from The Success Principles by Jack Canfield (I highly recommend reading it or listening to the abridged audio book) that joy is a compass that helps you find where you’re meant to go in this world. It’s amazing how you can hear something and believe something but putting it into practice is really difficult. One step at a time, definitely.

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Photo by Grace Chu from Yes Ma’am this weekend.

A few weeks ago I was talking to a spiritual advisor/friend about my businesses and how I’ve been struggling to make financial ends meet for the last year while still carving out time to finish my book. I am a part time attorney with my own firm as well as give workshops and produce events. These are all pursuits that bring me different levels of joy and connection. Her insight was, “Maybe you don’t believe you deserve this life? Maybe there’s something blocking it?” Something resonated deep and I’ve been working on the deserve part of it ever since.

A bit after that I had three big, weird, hard and hurtful things happen within twenty-four hours–culminating in this subway harassment. I was doing a lot of crying about these things and struggling. I am a faithful person who believes in the ultimate good in the universe but I had some moments of looking up into the sky going “Really?”

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Me and Leo at Prime. Photo by Drae.

My friend Drae throws this party for queers over thirty called Prime. (Next one is August 17th in Brooklyn.) One of the amazing things she has at the party is free “Woo Counseling.” An intuitive named Shaina sits with you, does a read on you or clears your chakras. I agreed to work the door at Prime as long as I got to see Shaina first before my shift. I told Shaina about the three events and she said, “You’re doing great! These things are just telling you you’re on the right path! What you need to do is change your radio frequency to joy and this stuff won’t affect you so hard.”

She explained that we vibrate on different frequencies. It’s very similar to how thoughts control your life (see Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life for a great primer on the law of attraction). If you’re on a dial where you think everything is against you, shift it up a few notches and vibrate on joy. Focus on happiness, silliness, playfulness, creativity. I do a lot of regular practices to keep my creative juices flowing and focusing on joy is definitely one I had been letting slip in my artistic hygiene. I’m a very positive person, but even when you believe in positivity it’s easy to slip and forget to revel.

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Tying Miss Mary Wanna’s corset. Just an average Saturday night in a Noxema commercial.

So I took Shaina’s advice. I got even more focused on grounding myself every day. I turn my phone to airplane mode when I go to bed and I don’t turn it back on until I’ve woken up, had iced lemon water, written my morning pages, done my affirmations, given ALF his pill and told my dog I love her. Morning pages are a practice from The Artist’s Way and they are a sort of meditative, tenth step inventory, prayerful, garbage dump of thoughts longhand on three pages every morning. Some people do 20 minutes but I need to fill the pages and sometimes the thoughts come fast or slow.

I have a bunch of affirmations I’ve written for myself but I also incorporate these Badass Resilience: Black and Brown Femme Survivor Love and Desire Affirmations By Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and Keisha Williams every morning. Looking into a mirror and saying them into my eyes if I can.

I feel pretty awesome that I’ve done all of these grounding exercises (and even some yoga) every day for four weeks, which is remarkable consistency for me.

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I went to this party on Pride weekend that was definitely a remake of the U4EA episode of 90210. Photo by The Think Theater Queer Photography.

Shaina also suggested I have a “mind diet” and focus on my joy. Learn a song and perform it in a video, for no big deal other than to do it. I started learning a song but what I ended up doing with it was using the song whenever my mind was slipping to not joyful thoughts.

I also know that gratitude practice is really helpful for me to orient myself to joy. The idea is that if you focus on the abundance in your life it will attract more abundance.

Lately I have been taking note of these moments that feel like a Noxema commercial in my life. You know in the opening scene of Clueless where Cher narrates, “I know you’re going, is this like a Noxema commercial or what? But I actually have a way normal life for a teenage girl.” Cher totally doesn’t have a normal life, and neither do I. I think the first moment I thought of that I was watching a bunch of my friends dance on a bench at WHAM BAM in the twilight while Hall and Oates was playing.

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Noxema Commercial moment happened really soon after this. Photo by Kelsy Chauvin.

Every time I have a Noxema commercial moment I stop and acknowledge it. Either to myself or to my friends specifically. At a midnight beach party on the third of July, my friend Quito spent three nights staking out the perfect illegal spot for folks to converge on a beach in the Rockaways. It was so dark you couldn’t see anyone but the folks you came with. It was intimate, adventurous and completely beautiful. Last week late night pool party swimming with a bunch of queer porn stars and sex workers at a conference in Vegas. I was in the pool commenting to someone, “This is my real life.”

I appreciate these crazy adventures, I appreciate all the living I do through even the rough spots that hurt. I think the hurt is sand paper that’s smoothing out the parts that need it so I can fit myself to the next adventure. Maybe if I wasn’t hurt so hard when my engagement ended nearly six years ago I wouldn’t have the alchemy needed to have these Noxema commercials in the summer of 2013?

I think this plays into the “do I deserve this” question which is that since I am given it and I work hard for it, I do deserve it. I get to enjoy it and revel in it. I should do those things.

My friends have also been amazing. I have had a hard time being open to romantic interludes but letting my friends woo me has been great practice at heart opening. Three weeks in a row I got flowers from a friend just because they wanted to be sweet to me. Even the amount of kind words has been incredible. Jacqueline in particular has been the most romantic friend I’ve ever had, last week in Vegas she woke me up by spooning me when she knew I needed it and drew me a bath after she saw me having a hard conversation–this bath also had bubbles, rose petals, Prince’s “Adore” on repeat (one of my favorite Prince songs) and hotel-brewed hibiscus iced tea. Her game is FIERCE.

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So I’ve been on this mind diet for a month and I have to say I had to suspend a little disbelief about it (as in thoughts of “I don’t know if this is really working”) because I’ve had this weirdo cloud over me for awhile. I know that I can hold multiple conflicting emotions at once, which is not something I realized I could do until a couple of years ago. For example, just because I have some sadness and hard feelings that creep around doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy other things and experience moments of joy. Conversely, just because I have the mind diet doesn’t mean that suddenly everything was great. Being joyful requires work, tons of self care and conscious orientation towards exuberant joy.

But I think it’s really working. It’s been one month exactly since I began it. Because I was doing such good work focusing on my feelings, I could parcel out things I might need some bigger help with. I emailed Katie at Empowering Astrology about it and she said it was work I could do on my own, but if I wanted to have a 30 or 60 minute session with her to work on it we’d see if Spirit wanted it and the money would come. And then, the very next week, I won a session with her in a raffle at a conference I went to. It was very random and serendipitous. The session I had with her yesterday helped me feel more empowered and lively than I have in months. Not since my break-up/extended break-up remix and my cat passed away.

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Perhaps just the presence of the divine Jacaueline Mary in my life makes it a Noxema commercial?

I might write up my session more in-depth when I figure out the words for the twists and turns of the universe lately, but today I’m just enjoying this simple joy, release and lightness of being. Here’s a write-up from my first session with Katie.

So, to summarize, this is how my mind diet tuning my radio dial to joy went down:

1. I ground myself every morning.
2. I focus on gratitude.
3. I do silly things.
4. I shift negative/hard thoughts towards joyful ones.
5. I pay attention to my feelings.
6. I ask for help.
7. I let love in.

For sure I am going to keep these practices up. I would love to hear in the comments how you tune your radio dial to joy!

2012-03-06

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo and body paint by Camrose Artes Infinitae.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 March Betty Herbert : Love in the Long Run

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

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

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

9 March Nancy L. Hill : Cultivating a Beautiful Life

12 March Andrea Zanin : Thought on Sex and Life

13 March Rubyyy Jones: Love Lust & Light

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

15 March Heal Your Life: Live blogging with Barbara!

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