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

2014-03-10

March Astrology Self Care Road Map with Empowering Astrology

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When shit feels like it’s hitting the fan, I like to know if things are going on astrologically that are informing it. Sometimes it feels like such a relief to know I’m not alone and that there are others being hit in their deepest places. I’m certainly not the only person in my life who is having to deal with some super deep, core stuff right now.

My partnership with Katie Sweetman of Empowering Astrology continues this month. We’ve put together a road map of this month’s doozy of astrological wallops… Katie says this month is all about self care and she’s right. We need to get centered and focused on ourselves in order to get through all of the things the stars have in store for us, leading up to the Cardinal Grand Cross in April.

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We both wrote some great self empowerment and self care based activities for this month, which you can check out in this free download.

I’m also very inspired lately by Katie’s words on her Facebook page a couple of weeks ago. That in this time we can be guided by fear, or we can instead choose hope. I remember that as a very centering thought these days as folks are honking impatiently, scowling on the street and otherwise not being particularly kind. I work to remember that everyone is dealing with something that is hitting them deep, and that we all react in our own ways. The only thing I have influence to change right now is my own thinking, so I do my best to set my thoughts on positive things. To be kind wherever possible, even if I’m not getting credit for it. And to be kind to myself, first and foremost. I’m big into turning rage into productivity and sometimes that’s about working on compassion even when it’s hard and feels super unfair.

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Katie is prepping for an amazing Astrology Retreat to a private estate in Ocho Rios, Jamaica April 3-8, 2014. Workshops include strengthening your intuition and after dinner rituals! I was thinking how if I had the cash it would be a no-brainer for me, I would hop that flight and escape the last dregs of Winter here in NYC (and this one has been a doozy of cold, bad weather and bad vibes). In prepping this post I went through the photos from the one and only beach vacation I’ve taken during the Winter, to Vieques, Puerto Rico. It was a lovely trip and it’s been far too long since I’ve had the resources to do that. If it’s in your power to (wo)manifest a trip with some astrology powerhouses, take Katie up on the offer to escape and learn more about astrology!

Check out the January and February self development exercises!

2207972782_d5d91960c8_zYou can tell it was a long time ago because my hair is super short! I started growing it out when I got laid off from my day job in late 2008 and started paring down expenses… I get my hair cut like twice a year now, back then I had to keep it up every eight weeks or so.

2014-01-14

Free Self Development Astrology Exercises Part Two!

I blogged a couple of weeks ago about my new project with Katie from Empowering Astrology, combining astrological forecasts and self-development exercises–using the stars to give a little extra oomph to your self-development work!

Tomorrow, January 15th, is the full moon. Katie predicted that the emotional buttons getting pushed by the full moon and the ongoing Venus retrograde were going to bring to light issues from our relationships with our parents. I wrote some good, heart examining and heart opening work to do about reconciling your relationship with your parents. I hope it is helpful.

Click here to download the free exercises!

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These are my paternal grandparents. I’ve done a lot of self-development work reconciling my relationship with them, especially with my Grammy who was a person from whom I received physical abuse as a child. When I read the book From Survival to Recovery (through my work in Al-Anon) it really helped me understand how violent and chaotic her childhood was, which helped me humanize her and heal some of the trauma I experienced. Obviously it’s not as simple as just reading a book, but trying to give some context for work that has worked for me thriving through circumstances that were not designed for me to thrive.

Let us know how you’re enjoying the exercises. We’ll be launching this as a monthly workbook available for purchase from either of our websites and we’d love to be giving you what you’re looking for in self-development. You can comment here or email me at queerfatfemme at gmail.

2013-03-27

Blue Bottle Ritual With Spunky: Letting Go of the Old and Womanifesting the New

Nearly fifteen years ago I was working as a camp counselor at a Girl Scout Camp and met this blonde girl who annoyed me. I perceived her to be totally cliquish, shallow and ridiculous. A couple of weeks into camp (and in camp time that’s a lifetime) something shifted and suddenly we bonded over a candy necklace and became close friends. It was years before we realized we were soul mates* but we were certainly BFF right away. Spunky is the closest thing to a sister I have and, these days, through the magic of google video chat, I spend more time with her than 90% of the people I know in New York City.

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This is what Spunky and I look like now.

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This is what we looked like at 19 on “twin day” where either we dressed like twins on purpose or it was a dress your counselor dinner and we let our girls dress us like twins.

Part of being camp counselors is participating in a lot of non-consensual woo. I totally didn’t identify it as woo at the time (and balked at all forms of religion and spirituality), but having been a lifelong Girl Scout, I really knew how to plan rituals and ceremonies chock full of meaning for our girls.

Spunky and I used our current spirituality and past Girl Scout training to design a ritual recently that I thought might help some of my blog readers who are interested in getting energy unstuck.

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This was the first place I ever felt at “home” on a stage. Now being on stage is part of how I pursue my mission in life. Camp really gives kids and young adults life long learnables.

One thing that counselors had done for me in the past that I loved was giving the gift of a blue bottle. There’s a song about it. It’s a little blue bottle that you keep to remind you of summer’s energy, it’s a great gift at a Scout’s Own or a CIT graduation ceremony. I was CIT Director the summer Spunky and I met, and I gave her a blue bottle of her own during one of the ceremonies advancing my girls. I still have the blue bottle I received and it lives on my altar. Whenever Spunky and I do tarot readings over video chat we each grab ours to help us connect.

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One of my friends killed a rattlesnake under that platform tent!

It’s kind of eerie how much energy we mirror back to one another. Often we’ll have the same kind of action going on in our love lives at the same time, though she’s straight and I’m queer and our relationships look different than one another they are still often similar lessons and emotional journeys.

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This is the spot where we shared that candy necklace and became friends!

When I was coming to California for Thanksgiving a few months ago, we decided to create a ritual to womanifest some new direction for us in our thirties. The blue bottles we had were about who we were in our late adolescence and foolish twenties. Now we wanted something to redirect our energy towards what we wanted in our adult post-Saturn Return lives. We also decided to go to the most magical spot we could think of, which happened to be the waterfall on a trail just past the buildings of the camp where we first met.

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Maybe we sweet talked a caretaker in letting us wander the trail through camp.

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My spirituality is pretty grab bag, based on the premise that there is good orderly direction in the universe, a feminine divine that is inclusive of all genders, and deep connection and appreciation for the natural world. Rituals are great and I use them a lot in small ways to help me connect to the Goddess.

Rituals are a way to bind the magic of a particular event. They are a way of ordering your thoughts and pointing you in a particular direction. There are prescribed spells and rituals out in books and on the internet, which can be a helpful framework to start. I much prefer to hear about them first hand from people who have used them before. I find I am pretty good at making meaning out of things and it works more intensely if I just put intention into what I’m doing, regardless if it is a prescribed ritual or I’m just making it up. When designing my ritual with Spunky, I just set about making meaning.

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I totally said a prayer of protection for all the fat and/or awkward kids that will have to participate in this ropes course! Adolescent nightmare!

It was Spunky’s idea to get blue bottles again. We looked all over the Haight (I was staying in the Castro) thinking there would be a head shop or something with tiny bottles but nothing in our price range. We ended up finding them at the exact same Cost Plus in Marin County I used to buy blue bottles for my CITs. We got these great jars intended for spices that actually had blue lids in them.

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We created an altar space with all of the elements of our ritual.

We also bought some things that were symbolic of what we wanted to womanifest to put into the bottle. I got us some purple fluorite, which helps enhance third eye vision, balance and seeing truth behind illusion. We bought these shark teeth for strength. We put in these flowers I found on the ground when we were wandering the Haight at a particularly magical moment “in the flow,” to remind us to keep seeking the natural flow of life. (We both struggle with patience.) When we got onto the camp grounds we each grabbed an acorn (symbolizing kids), a tiny rock from the waterfall and some lichen because I’ve always thought lichen was really rad and it’s a good symbol of light and dark and working together with opposing elements to find balance.

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In the flow on the Haight.

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We also went to a fabric store to buy ribbon to do a binding for the handle of the bottle. I had read about doing magic with braiding–just by braiding something together and meditating on it you are able to infuse that thing with energy. So we each bought three strands of ribbon that symbolized things that we wanted in a life partnership. Mine are a purple fuzzy ribbon (spiritual connection and warmth), a green piece of lace (growing together and openness), and a black studded patent leather ribbon (for hot sex and good style). We each bought a piece of black netting to put around the bottle.

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During our ritual, which was using our energy together in a space that had a lot of meaning to us. We opened it by burning some mugwort for dream/manifesting energy and playing music on Spunky’s iphone. If this were a Scout’s Own I would have had everyone singing some song but we had a lot of Indigo Girls on her iPhone so that’s what we used. We cleansed our stones, put them in the bottle, said some meaningful things, wrote out things we wanted to let go of from our twenties that no longer served us, burned those pieces of paper and let the ashes flow down the waterfall, wrote out womanifestation prayers about our lives and our future life partners, put everything in the bottles, braided our ribbons and tied everything up.

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Spunky wrote this prayer a couple of weeks before in a text message to me and transcribed it to her bathroom mirror and we bound it into our bottles.

It was really special to do this with Spunky at the place where we first met in this lifetime.** Katie, from Empowering Astrology, has suggested to use the power of the Uranus/Pluto square to co-create, and the time is especially auspicious now with this full moon to do use our energy to shift things and clear out emotional clutter.

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*I believe that soul mates come in all kinds, both romantic and non, and sometimes they start out romantic and become not romantic. One of my closest soul mates is more than a friend to me but there really isn’t a word in the English language to describe what we mean to each other.
**Spunky’s energy healer says we’ve been connected since Atlantis. A past life reader I had a session with told me Spunky and I exist to mirror unconditional love to one another on our journeys.

2013-03-15

Astrology Q & A with Katie Sweetman of Empowering Astrology

After I posted about my astrological chart reading with Katie Sweetman of Empowering Astrology, I received a really interesting comment* to my blog that I thought made a really great follow-up post about “the whole astrology thing.” Also, Katie’s comments are a bit more of a background to what a natal chart is and why it matters. Hopefully Katie’s words will help folks understand a little more about what Astrology is and what it can do. (And, as an aside, I’ve had enough experiences with having agitation, unsettled emotions or strong emotions with no triggers and found out something was going on planetary that lined up far too accurately for me to totally buy astrology as a concept. Monster moon of 2012, you were bananas for this Capricorn.)

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Me and some of my favorite faeries, Dusty and Quito.

Hi Bevin, I just discovered your blog and I absolutely love it! You are beautiful and amazing and very inspiring for this shy femme. This blog is like a breath of fresh air. 🙂

I’m really curious about astrology, but there are a few things I just cannot get over. All of the planets and stars are too far away to actually impact us. Mercury doesn’t go backwards when it’s in retrograde. I’m more inclined to say that the moon can throw things out of wack just because it is close enough to actually impact the Earth.

So, how do these planetary movements affect us? Do they tug on our brains? I don’t believe in a soul, I believe in brain chemistry and neurons, do you have to believe in a soul in order for astrology to have an impact on you?

I’ve been going to counseling for a year now and I’d like to think I’m open to other self-care and therapy methods, I’m even open to the idea that people born at a certain time of year have certain traits. I’d love to get an astrological reading just to explore my life but I don’t know if I can get past its very foundations. I just don’t know how the movements of the solar system can affect our emotions, because I’ve never seen an explanation as to why/how they do.

I get that you are not an astrologer, I don’t want you to feel like I’m putting you on the spot or anything, I was just wondering what your thoughts are about the purely physical aspects of the planets and their relationship to our bodies.

–Lindy

Here is what Katie had to say in response:

So I was mulling over the questions posed by your commenter. They are not new questions; they’re usually the ones countered at an astrologer by the incredulous. But they deserve a thoughtful reply.

Astrology isn’t for everyone and I’ve never been interested in being the one who tries to defend it to skeptics. For many, the mere mention of astrology brings derision and belief that anyone who thinks it’s real is either stupid or worse, a charlatan. I’m never going to convince those people nor do I want to. It would be a waste of energy.

But for those willing to entertain the idea of astrology, the standard argument I make is that astrology is more than what you read in a newspaper column. Sun sign astrology as it is known is watered down astrology — astrology reduced to its most basic components. So if that isn’t real astrology, then what is? And why is something at least four thousand years old still relevant in this day and age?

Astrology is a symbolic language. Using symbols and mythology, it tells the story of you — your wants, your needs, your desires, your ambitions, and some the most intimate corners of your existence. I don’t know why astrology works, but it does. I wouldn’t keep consulting it for my own development and using it with clients if I didn’t see it foster amazing insight and healing.

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From the Winter Solstice Rebel Cupcake. Photo Credit: Kelsey Dickey.

I think astrology is less the physical influence of the planets and more their symbolic influence. Lost somewhere in the haze of time was the discovery that the movements of the heavens reflect life both here on earth and our internal life. “As above, so below” is the old hermetic axiom. Astrology is still relevant because it helps us peek into our psyche and understand why we act certain ways and see the mechanism behind certain behaviors. Psychologist Carl Jung was a proponent of astrology as he saw it was a way to get to the root of neuroses.

You don’t have to believe in a soul to find astrology relevant. But I think you need to believe in something outside of this existence. There has to be room for magic or a hunger to known yourself on a deeper level. Even if we’re just carbon and molecules and neurons, it would be a dull life to not want to make the best of our time here in our bodies. It’s the same impulse that makes us want to explore the world or explore space in rocket ships. It’s this sense that there’s something out there waiting to be discovered if we’d only start the journey. And it’s the same impulse that takes us to counseling — the impulse to heal and know ourselves on a more intimate level. Astrology and the natal chart acts as the map that takes us forward.

Thanks Katie for your compassionate and thoughtful answer! If you’re interested in getting a reading from Katie you can contact her here, check out her amazing blog or follow Empowering Astrology on Facebook for great information about what the stars have in store for us.

*As an aside, I also got a hilarious comment from someone on twitter that they had hoped that I would tell more of the juicy tidbits about my reading with Katie! If you want to know, some of the highlights are that I have had my voice stifled in past lives and my individuality and voice is really important to use in this lifetime. It is likely I would live abroad/very far from my family, and Katie said it was likely that me living 3,000 miles from my family now is a version of that. Also, I have a lot of planets in Scorpio. My moon in Scorpio means I demand authenticity in my interpersonal relationships. In April or May I’m going to get some big insight into changes about where I want to go.

2013-02-07

My Reading with Empowering Astrology

I like to think of activities like having my astrological chart interpreted by an astrologer, visiting mediums, having tarot cards read, past life readings and other types of woo activities as a cross between spiritual practice and therapy. They often work better if you go in with a specific question or questions and have something to work through by the end. I usually feel relieved and understand my path better as a result.

Last week I had my astrological chart read by Katie, the bombshell behind Empowering Astrology. I had met her once before years ago and upon one glance at my chart she knew that the previous few months (because of Pluto sailing through my chart) had been “like a nuclear bomb went off” in my life. She had no way of knowing but I had lost a job of five years and my apartment became uninhabitable in that span of time. That little nugget stayed with me and I had always wanted to come back for a full chart reading.

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Your astrological chart is basically a map of the stars as they existed at the exact time and location that you were born. When people say “I’m a Capricorn with a Virgo rising and my Moon is in Scorpio,” what they mean to describe are aspects of their personality as dictated by the positions of certain celestial bodies when they entered this world. Lesbians and woo-oriented queers use astrology as code with one another all the time, so it’s helpful to know those basics. You can get a free chart at astro.com if you know your birth time and location.

I’ve had a free chart for years and am very curious about how the natal chart can give me information about my life. I totally believe in past lives and that our higher selves select certain natal information to structure our journeys in this life. My relationship to woo spirituality is on the “why not” spectrum and if it helps me understand my purpose here and helps me to more effectively do the work and art I do then this spirituality is doing exactly what it’s meant to do.

Even though we both live in Brooklyn, Katie and I met via Skype video chat. Number one, this helps with the whole “Scheduling is the hardest part” bit of coordinating with New Yorkers. Number two, Katie was able to record our session so that I could have an mp3 of our conversation and not have to rely on my notes to piece together what I learned.

Tea service is really helping me finish this trust document.
Bring your own tea.

I learned so much! There’s a lot to know about how an astrological chart works. It seems to me that a good astrologer is a combination scientist, mathematician and intuitive. Katie definitely has all three. She knows so much about astrology, the way the planets talk to each other and can distill it easily into real talk for people who don’t know what a progressed chart, Mars conjunct Sun or what each house in our chart means. And those are just some nuggets of things I learned about in our hour-long conversation.

She began by asking me what I was looking to glean from our conversation. As I tend to do, I asked about my journey in life and my higher purpose. When I was younger I was always mostly curious about romance and money and that’s not to say I’m not still curious about those things, but these days I want to find out how to make it easier for myself to stay on the path I’m meant to be on. I’ve learned a lot through the language of pain about how hard it is to try paths that you’re not meant for, I’m looking for a peaceful journey leaning into the lessons I’m meant to learn.

Party planning involves spreadsheets & hauling beer.  We're ready for Yes Ma'am on Saturday!

Katie had a lot of lessons to tell me about. We began with her overview of a few areas she noted in my chart, like the clusters of planets I have in the houses in the bottom of my chart and some heavy duty “relationship karma.” I was surprised at how much past life information could be gleaned from my chart and Katie had a lot to say about how the things we’ve worked on in past lives can affect this life.

We talked about the planetary positions and certain traumas I was going to need to recover from, which hit the nail on the head for me about what I saw as my work in this life. I feel very reassured about the work I’m doing after my reading with her.

I especially enjoyed talking about the transits I was about to go through in the upcoming months. Transits are those lines in the chart where the planets move and Katie was able to tell me certain things to look out for. She also blew my mind by saying “Money is simply a 3D manifestation of energy.”

The contents of my bra at the end of the evening : 2 drink tickets, $6 in cash, 1 splenda packet, 2 lifesaver wint-o-mints, my cell phone (not pictured), an 11 year chip found next to the bar.

Since my reading I’ve listened to it again via MP3 while in the bath, which has helped me glean more out of it. She highly recommends listening to the reading several times. Her approach values shaking things up by providing insights into the natal chart and she really is an “energetic midwife” as she describes on her website.

If you’ve ever been curious about having your natal chart read, I cannot recommend Katie enough. She is smart, warm and extremely insightful. Also, her website includes a rad blog with a lot of nuggets, including this Moon Ritual to Manifest (or as I call it, Womanifest) I’ve done before and it’s been awesome.

Katie also has an awesome Facebook fan page for Empowering Astrology where she shares nuggets of wisdom about the planets moving around. Honestly I’m much more interested in astrological forecasts that talk about what the planets are doing for everyone than just what the Capricorn horoscope for the week says. Astrological destiny is way more complicated than that! Also, isn’t it nice sometimes to realize “Ugh, I went to my friend’s birthday party and felt so terrible all night for seemingly no reason” and then finding out there was a MONSTER full moon that was throwing everyone for a loop, and especially Cardinal signs. Anyway, Empowering Astrology on Facebook has those kinds of forecasts and I like them.

Also, as a rule, I pretty much only go to therapists, tarot readers or spiritual folks if I have a personal recommendation by someone queer or they are queer themselves. I just feel more safe and there’s less language to translate about my life and loves and gender and sexuality to people in my community. Katie’s queer herself.

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