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

2017-05-23

Everyday Glitter

Hello and Happy Tuesday from my beautiful home in Los Angeles! I have a couple of deeper posts I’m working on but in the meantime wanted to share with you some everyday glitter–little bits and bobs of things that are delighting me right now, that might also delight you!

Jeffrey Marsh Text Joy
I adore Jeffrey Marsh! I have solidly recommended their book How to Be You to everyone I know and am slowly buying it for each teen in my life that I sense is a weirdo. In a world that vilifies difference, Jeffrey’s message that it’s completely spectacular to be your own unique self is vital!

If you want to grab a delight in your phone, text MARSH to 75985. It is a sweet journey. I could only do two days of the ShineText situation before my phone went spontaneously dead (which is why you haven’t seen me on Instagram in four days), but I found it uplifting for those two days. You deserve kind reminders!

Get to know Jeffrey (and me!) a little more, through this delightful video interview!

Jeffrey performing and inspiring at the Love & Resistance shabbat dinner I produced with my friend Rick Sorkin on inauguration day as a way to build up and empower activists. Photo by Rachel Crowl.

Meet ClaraBelle Blue
Adiba Nelson tried in vain to find a children’s book that centered the experience of a special needs child that had a personality, so she decided to write her own. Meet ClaraBelle Blue is inspired by her daughter and helps ALL children understand that you don’t need to be defined by your abilities. In addition to the main character with cerebral palsy, the book also includes characters with invisible illnesses such as anxiety and ADHD.

I think it’s a great way to show kids about difference and get more comfortable create relationships with people who are different. Check out the book trailer below, buy the book and share it on social media! (And read little excerpts in this Buzzfeed article.)

Nitika Chopra’s Love Entourage
I met Nitika last December and have experienced so much delight from her social media. She’s very upbeat and sweet, her Instagram stories are full of love, motivation, fun and exploration: of beauty products, spending quality time with her soul sisters and sharing her family’s culture. Like me, Nitika believes in the transformational power of self-care and that beauty rituals are an amazing way to connect to self love. She has had debilitating psoriasis for 26 years and the experience helped transform her perspective on life, she focuses on her happiness instead of her suffering.

Nitika is a lot of things and one of them is a life coach! She is launching a new round of her Love Entourage group coaching on June 5th. If you’re interested in working with someone who knows about self love to help you dig it up in you, check it out!

Flip or Flop Vegas
Since I retired from thirteen years of Real Estate law practice, I get my money these days through a lot of tiny hustles, many of which I can perform while watching mindless TV. I am a total sucker for home renovation shows and I love to watch the transformations, the design and the problem solving. Charismatic designers and hosts help, too!

I read People Magazine and I was really curious if the Flip or Flop spin-off, Flip or Flop Vegas was in response to the divorce of the couple in the original Flip or Flop. I certainly don’t believe people need to be married in order to be on HGTV, but as friends have reported from the producers of those house hunter shows, if you’re gay they are going to ask you to get someone to be your fake partner. Regardless of the intentions behind the creation of the show I am surprised to say how much I enjoy Flip or Flop Vegas.

It has a lot going for it. Like the original, this is a married general contractor and realtor/interior designer couple, where they buy places for cash and transform them into properties buyers will love (informed by their work with real estate clients). Aubrey is blonde and thin, Bristol is a hunky MMA fighter. Vegas is a rough flip market, it was very heavily hit in the 2008 real estate market crash and I remember before the crash reading a lot of articles about how bad the crash would be for Vegas since there was so much speculative building during that time.

Since the success of a flip is dependent on cutting the margins, they do a lot to save money without sacrificing quality. Aubrey shops mega clearance and develops relationships with suppliers who also supply casinos and celebrity homes, which means she gets higher end glitz and glam supplies at a huge discount from the leftovers of casino projects. I’m a Femme who LOVES a good bargain, I call it my “hunting” so I really appreciate the vicarious thrill of finding high end tile on clearance.

I can’t say Cottage Glam was my favorite end-result design but I loved that she pinterested this wall design and had Bristol build it. I find it relatable and her design choices to be adventurous.

Because of the Vegas influence, Aubrey can’t help but incorporate “glam” into almost every project, including a “Cottage Glam” and “Farmhouse Glam” projects. This is obviously something I’m super into. I also like that Bristol will DIY just about anything, like making a pergola from scratch instead of buying it off the rack or building barn doors. They are a pinterest dream come true. I find it pretty satisfying to watch their projects come together, and Aubrey’s staging is always very fabulous.

Nate & Jeremiah By Design
I can’t plug a heteronormative design show on HGTV without plugging the gay couple holding it down on TLC. Nate Berkus folks might remember as Oprah’s go-to interior designer in the latter years of her talk show and occasional specials on OWN. After losing his partner in the Sri Lanka tsunami he has found new love with his now husband, another interior designer, Jeremiah Brent.

It’s a combo of a regular house renovation show and Extreme Home Makeover, the tear-jerking heart pulling ABC show I wish was still on the air. Nate and Jeremiah rush in to save a couple from an ongoing renovation that has stalled out for some reason. Usually because home renovation can become a money-pit, but in some cases because couples can’t agree on a vision or because they are stymied by indecision or too many small decisions. (Oh, how I can relate.) They work with a small budget the couple has, call in some favors and deliver a stunning reno that works for the family.

I feel like the show is missing a key element, in that at least a couple of the episodes it was clear that one or both of the couple could use some therapy work around what was stalling their renovation. One woman refused to step foot in her kitchen because it was too dirty with other people’s germs even after her husband hired three cleaning crews, and her husband and daughters ate their meals separate from her. A home renovation is only relieving a symptom but isn’t going to address the cause. This show is beautiful design work and a great reminder to me to do my self work so that I don’t let my perfectionism get out of control and grind my life to a halt!

Like many design shows we get pieces of their home life. Nate and Jeremiah, gay dads worried about pre school admissions just like other upper middle class families I see on TV!

2016-04-27

LA Transition Month 3: I Started Swimming

We’ve officially been LA residents for three months! I got my CA Driver’s License finally. I got my DL when I was 17 and living in the Bay Area, so they managed to find my old record and give me my old number. (Big Brother is real.) I had a little disagreement with the entirely pleasant clerk who took my application. I stated “red” on the hair color question. However, I actually identify my hair color as “Ginger Spice.” She had to fight me about whether I am blonde because when I was 16 and got my permit I was blonde. I don’t identify as blonde but I guess because of bureaucracy that’s what is happening on my ID. Lots of people don’t have their true identities on these documents and I’d rather work towards a third no gender marker on IDs than self-selected hair color.

IMG_20160413_194959I guess with the bangs now I look more blonde than ever, other than in high school.

I was stressing about taking the test because I know some folks who have flunked the first try, so I wanted to just get it. I needed my license in order to go to the Medical Marijuana dispensaries to use my prescription I got back in February. I’ll post about the process, it is fascinating and has really helped me physically, mentally and emotionally. For anyone getting their CA DL I suggest reading the manual once through and doing the practice tests online. I’ve had to take written tests in most of the states I’ve been licensed in, having hopped from CA to NJ to PA to NJ to NY in my life, but never felt as stressed as I did this time. I think I’m just tender right now and prone to stress.

I passed on the first try after reading the manual a few hours leading up to my DL appointment, and while I was waiting. It still took two hours of waiting in lines to get my license in spite of the appointment, so definitely make an appointment.

IMG_20160413_174934794I made this dog bed for Macy out of a vintage suitcase from Goodwill ($10), an old pillow (free dollars) and a vintage blanket with a stain on it I got at the World’s Longest Yard Sale ($0.50).

You know that old chestnut “I’ll do it when things settle down.” I started saying that to myself a few weeks ago when we were dropping everything to prepare our house for the Seder for Dara’s family and then preparing the Seder and then the tea pre sale and then preparing my Schedule C info for my accountant to file my taxes (this is like a week of non-stop accounting and bookkeeping) and then… I’ve had so many projects back to back and not achieved any semblance of balance and I’ve been reminded (I’ve realized this before and forgot) that I need to bring my own serenity to every situation. And that I can’t just keep dropping everything to focus all of my attention on one thing with a deadline.

This is how I lived in Law School, it’s how I have lived when I’ve been the most high strung and I can’t live like that. I need to plan, sort, execute, and let go of the stuff that’s not that important. I need to live in alignment with my values!

I decided that I would start organizing my schedule around my self care. And the thing that is the best at helping me chill the F out is exercise. I do it primarily for my mental and emotional health, but it also really helps with my physical and spiritual health as well. Since I haven’t joined a gym yet, waiting for the body positive gym Everybody Los Angeles to open somewhere around here, I decided to start going to lap swim at the community pool. Because we have those here, and some of them are outdoor heated pools.

I had to do some clever searching because the LA website just gives you addresses not neighborhoods, and some of the pools close in the “Winter” here. But the Glassell Park pool, just a six minute drive from my house, was a great candidate.

bevinatpoolMe at the Glassell Park Pool.

When I showed up for the first time and paid my $3.50 I was amazed to see that the locker room looked just like it did in the community pools in the Bay Area where I grew up. I remember as a kid those cement floored, wooden benched locker rooms with modesty changing areas that only cover you from the neck to the calves. So that means this locker room hasn’t been updated in thirty+ years. Amazing. And when I went out to the pool after giving my bag to the locker room attendant behind the window in exchange for a safety pin with a number on it, I marveled at how huge the Olympic size pool is. And how few rules there are.

My recent public swimming experience is from swimming at the Bed Stuy YMCA in Brooklyn. An indoor year-round pool with strict rules and schedules. Lap swim means lap swimming only, you must wear a cap, when more than two people are in a lane circle swimming is mandatory. These are all spelled out on a long list of rules.

Here there are very few rules other than no running on the pool deck. No caps required! No lap swim guidelines except the lifeguard’s half-hearted “You have to share the lane” when a man was super rude to me. Lap swimming and recreational swimming are at the same time. It’s a bit intimidating to go swimming in public for the first time, especially as a fatty, so I brought Dara as my body positive ally. It was great, I swam for almost an hour, alternating between swimming and aqua jog moves. I love aqua jog, that will be another post.

I have kept going, managing three times a week most weeks for the past month. It’s still cheaper than going to a gym and it’s been helping me. I need to add yoga to my routine to stretch more, but this is a nice way to center.

IMG_20160412_191109Unfucking the guest room.

The house continues to come together. Sadly my Mariah Carey closet hasn’t been sorted out, so once my friend Taylor helped me get everything upstairs and put on the floor or hung on the pipes, that’s where it has laid. I can’t wait for it to be in full working order. Every time I go up there to get dressed I’m kind of drawing from my red suitcase or various piles. It’s pretty much the opposite of what I imagine it can be.

Dara and I were dissatisfied with the orientation of our bed. We paid to move a bunch of my mom’s hand me down furniture from the Bay to LA (I detailed this in a previous post) and the movers set it up originally. I didn’t find it accessible for me to walk around a CA King size bed to the other side of the room so Dara took one for the team. The snuggle position required from that orientation had me on Dara’s left side, which is the side she had a cancerous tumor removed from her breast. It’s more sore, it had radiation and surgery. So we decided to try the bed against a window. (Not my favorite aesthetic choice, but definitely an improvement in snuggle land.)

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Here’s some advice about moving a sleep number mattress. Make sure it is completely zipped up before you move it. If you do not do this step, it will fall apart into a bunch of pieces and look like a play space for 3 year olds. There will be foam and air mattresses everywhere, because all a sleep number is is a very expensive air mattress with foam on top of and surrounding it. This bed cost $4,000 apparently and is an air mattress. It took us over an hour to put it back together and get the bed set-up again. I’m excited to someday buy a Casper or a Tuft and Needle mattress–if you know anyone who sleeps on one ask them if you can lay on it, they are exquisite and much less expensive than standard retail mattresses.

sleepnumberbed2Dara is physically in that mattress in this photo.

Anyway, so far the bed in the new spot is fine, but we have to sell and replace the nightstand we had because it is way too big to fit on either side of the bed. Two steps forward one step back is going to be the title of the memoir about moving cross country into a house without a bunch of money or the correct furniture.

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We finally moved everything into the guest room from the staging area in the dining room before the Seder. While Dara was away on business again for 8 days, I tackled the guest room and made it so we could blow up our fancy air mattress (that cost $100, which is literally pennies compared to a sleep number mattress…) for our second overnight guest, Jacqueline. This just meant a lot of stuff got Tetrised against the wall but progress not perfection is my motto. To be transparent, though, it feels hard for it not to be perfect.

IMG_20160426_221241373The wall of the guest room looks like this right now.

I set up all of my tea stuff in the dining room because for now I am in and out of it a lot and need it accessible. On the long-range plans are to convert our cellar (presently storage) to a tea studio.

IMG_20160416_133608285_HDRFemme Tea Party offerings: Hibiscus Coconut iced tea (I’ve added Nettles to the blend and it’s amazing), Self Love iced tea, Dolly Mint iced tea, Feelings tea served hot.

I’ve been getting amazing feedback about my first round of Reiki Infused Teas that I sent out. Only one got lost in the mail, which did eventually find its way to the intended recipient along with the replacement tin I sent–she joked that she must have needed a lot of Feelings Tea support. I believe in the Universe and so maybe yeah. That Scorpio Full Moon was extra difficult. I learned a LOT about the process of starting a product based business and am learning a lot in B-School.

B-School is good but slow going. Marie Forleo gives all this bonus content when you sign up and one of them, Start the Right Business, is required reading before you begin her modules. With 60 pages of reading and exercises, that itself was a lot of work. I’m glad they tell you right away to go at your own pace because I needed my own pace.

IMG_20160414_214512721Jacqueline is the first person to wear a bikini as an outfit on our porch.

Jacqueline and I did a bunch of stuff while she was in town. We went to In-N-Out Burger and the Pleasure Chest on her first night. We had Korean BBQ with my favorite plus size porn performer turned incredibly sweet, smart and wonderful person I know in real life April Flores (we called it BBW BBQ). We went to Disneyland with our friend Jenni, James Darling, Jenni’s sweetie Fin and her friend Michele. It was epic, there’s another forthcoming blog post.

IMG_20160416_182418Femme Tea party part one!

IMG_20160416_182219Femme Tea party part two!

I hosted a Femme Tea Party where I served four kinds of my tea blends and made some delicious rice crispie treats with Good For Me Lifestyle’s amazing Energize Me Better Butter. My guests got Reiki infused tea and delicious superfood supplement treats–I love being that woo kind of hostess.

IMG_20160416_133634312_HDRAlso included in the snacks were gluten-free scones made by Jenn and guacamole from my avocado tree.

I kind of ran away to visit Grandmother this weekend. I knew I owed her a visit having not been since early March, but also I wanted to get away. Sometimes running a house and not having the house set up completely feels overwhelming. The Scorpio Full Moon was in full effect and making me feel at odds with lots of things, including Dara. It’s nice to have family you can go visit in someplace beautiful. This guy at a pizza place asked why I wasn’t at Coachella (it’s really close to Palm Springs) and I said I was going to have a lot more fun swimming in my Grandmother’s pool listening to Guns and Roses.

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All in all I would say that LA is gorgeous, I love living here, the transition is hard, I’m not sure if I miss NYC, I’m overwhelmed with how much I have left to do to settle into my house and I’m really excited to get my tea company running so I can make a living off being a tea proprietress. The next pre sale will probably start on Monday. I had been hoping for this week but there’s a lot going on here. Dara got a grant to throw a 30 person Seder dinner in our backyard. Even as I’m not in charge of it, there’s still a lot for me to do.

2012-03-11

A Brief Guide To Home Organization By Someone Who Is Not a Design Blogger

As I have mentioned, I moved about six weeks ago. A move that was neither anticipated or instigated by myself has resulted favorably–a great apartment, a fabulous roommate–but has created no small amount of upheaval.

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Taylor cat sat for my while I was on my Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip and he mentioned my bedroom was entirely too small to relax in–and he was right! It was totally the kind of thing I needed an outsider to tell me.

I have been treating this as an opportunity to start fresh. My old place was pretty tiny, poorly laid out and filled with half-completed home organization and improvement projects. I purged a ton when I moved, as one does. I am much better at purging than I used to be. I grew up poor and we moved thirteen times by the time I was thirteen years old. I love to “nest” and I like having a lot of things. I’m also a magpie, anything shiny I want to keep around me. Further, I’m a perfectonist. I often don’t finish things because I’m afraid they won’t look perfect and therefore won’t be good enough. It’s a treacherous cycle.

In the last few years I’ve practiced time and again getting rid of things and freeing myself. But it doesn’t mean I don’t still have a lot of stuff. Clothes, especially. And craft stuff! Dear lord. I love to design things with my hands and I’ve always dreamed of having a dedicated craft area. It was my plan to convert my old living room into a craft room. I was about halfway there and then sort of stopped, at a loss of how to organize it and also an issue with getting shelving up.

I’m a good information organizer but not so great at things.

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The finished craft corner. There will be a new bookshelf to replace those cardboard boxes full of books.

Along comes my friend Elisabeth, who pitches herself as an organizational top and volunteered to help me sort my new craft area. It was a really incredible process! She was so kind! So many of those TV shows about organization start with someone mean about people’s stuff. But Elisabeth was gentle. Between our time together in my craft area and my bathroom I learned a lot about simple steps to home organization from Elisabeth and I wanted to share them with my readers who are not organizationally-inclined.

1. Take all the stuff you need to organize out, and separate like with like.

For my crafts we started with what project they created (all hair bling stuff went together, knitting stuff went together, etc…), then subsections based on what part of the project they work for. So hair bling flowers are in a bag together, hair bling backings are together, feathers have a shoe box.

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I designed this hair bling to go with this jacket–as seen on Golden Girls’ Blanche, by the way.

For the bathroom we just pulled things out of boxes and saw the categories, even though I couldn’t think of them until we started pulling them out. Like medicine, hair accessories, lotion, nail stuff, etc…

2. Start putting stuff together and find spots that make sense, and containers that make sense.

I really believed that I had to get special matchy matchy organizational boxes or whatever to really succeed at this project. I didn’t. Elisabeth said very distinctly “Don’t wait to have the ‘right’ sorting mechanisms. So, I just used what I had and it seems to work great. In fact, I have this huge surplus of these great purple re-usable shopping bags I made as merch once but didn’t sell even half of them. So those are quite handy, and don’t look bad.

I also used a lot of vases and tiny glass bottles and previous organizing craft caddies I already had.

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I also have noticed in the bathroom already there’s a section of stuff that could use a different kind of container, so I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for a basket or something cool during my thrifting adventures.

3. Save the micro projects for later.

There’s a few little things I need to consolidate further, but not getting bogged down in the micro projects meant we could finish sooner.

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I dislike cleaning, so to make it more fun I wear a cute apron. This oil cloth apron is water proof and is a cute vintage style. Also, I believe in cute baskets for organizing, like Baby Girl Chicken (tea, duh) and a stereo for music while cleaning. Shout out to Bklyn Boihood calendar!

4. Be gentle, loving and willing.

Elisabeth was so sweet and loving during the whole project. It was nice to have conversations about items. I was very willing to take her direction (and, in fact, really needed direction, even if it was heading somewhere I was already inclined) and willing to let go of stuff that didn’t make sense.

Being gentle meant I could be flexible with the space. Sometimes sorting things helped the space take shape around where things needed to go. It felt pretty amazing and freeing.

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Pretty much all of our appliances have outfits. I didn’t realize my Kitchen Aid was naked until it had this jaunty crocheted doiley.

5. Use the Buddy System.

Elisabeth said I really just needed to invite friends over to do this work with me. It was quite nice to share the experience, talk about my stuff on the outside instead of relying on my inner process which is often clouded by a critic who is hard to ignore, especially when doing something daunting.

It was also lovely to catch-up with a friend! And we discovered in my archives box that we had the same Day/Night journal from 1999. She said she had struggled with how to use the two sides of the journal. I totally used one side for day-to-day journaling and the other side for BAD poetry.

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Me and Elisabeth! Thank you again so much!!!

So that’s it! I’m no design blogger, but I hope these tips are helpful to folks like me who always want their presents to look Martha Stewart fancy but more often than not use the store’s bag and tissue as the wrapping. My life is going to always be a work in progress. But this progress feels so significant and I celebrate that the progress is where the living happens.

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