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

2016-08-24

I Know There’s Gonna Be Good Times: General Life Update from Bevin’s HQ

Friends! I just got back from one of the most inspirational and fulfilling weeks of my life. Intentional community, dream trip, deep emotions, deep caring, connections, luxury bathtubs. It was such a surprise to me that the experience was so deep and so much of what I needed.

I was blogging through the process of my transition to LA from Brooklyn, but things got pretty derailed for me as I have been affected both by the de-stability of the transition and the effects of the mental illness and substance abuse of a close friend. Shit has been rough.

How blessed I feel to have had this experience. Intentional community is incredibly healing for me. Summer camp did that for me as a kid and a teen. The Femme Conference did that for me for awhile, so did performing with my drag king troupe in the early 2000s. Now I have this new experience to reflect on. I’m excited to dive in and tell you all about what I saw, heard, learned, felt and experienced. But first, I think I need to paint a picture of what’s been going on in my life for context.

Exciting Stuff for my Body Positive Art and Activism
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I’m presenting at the Fat Activism Conference in September! It’s an online conference happening September 23-25, 2016 that you can listen to by phone or computer from wherever you are, you’ll also receive recordings and transcripts of each talk so you can listen/read at your convenience. It is super financially and time accessible as far as conferences go. I recorded my speech Disinvesting from Body Currency and Building Activist Resilience in July and I can’t wait to hear what all these other influencers and thought leaders have to say. Big love to the Fat Activism Conference organizers for all their hard work putting it together! <3<3

I was featured in a Buzzfeed article about non-traditional beach wear. Lots of hot and stylish people give their ideas. Many lustworthy instagrams to follow are aggregated. Your girl represented for the fat, flamboyant, vintage collecting femmes.

My friend Jes Baker reposted an article of mine on her incredibly influential body positive blog The Militant Baker. She’s been doing some amazing writing herself and amplifying other body positive thought leaders you’ll be interested in. My post she reposted is 5 Simple Things You Can Do to Start Feeling Okay About Your Body Today.

I also must take this opportunity to plug Dollypalooza in NYC Sept 3rd and LA on October 29th! Come out and party for a cause!

Self Care

I believe self care stretches time (thanks to Kelli Jean Drinkwater’s therapist for that nugget) and in times of rough stuff I have been centering my life around that. In terms of time management I try to pick one modality and wrap my schedule around that per week. I just kind of assess what my greatest needs are and go from there.

4684915640_cddd098660_zDear Goddess: Please give unto me a trip to Sydney to visit my soul sister Kelli Jean. Love, Bevin. Photo from NOLOSE in 2010.

I have mentioned for years that I’m in a 12 step program for family and friends of alcoholics and it has been one of the best choices I have ever made for my well-being. Since shit has been going down with my friend, I’ve been going to meetings about 3 days a week. It’s kind of easy to center life around meetings because they are scheduled. Unlike working out at the gym or “whenever” self care, you make a commitment to get to that 10AM Tuesday morning meeting.

I have had a hard time working out because of my heat sickness and the 100 degree hot like the surface of the sun weather in LA (like that time I passed out at the Getty after doing aqua jog) so instead lately I’m doing light stretching, dancing, and taking sunset walks with my partner Dara and our magical dog Macy.

I believe food is foundational and for awhile I was doing a lot of emotional eating. Eating from a place of “I know I gotta eat and it will gladden my taste buds to have this food that doesn’t serve my chronic digestive disorder so I’m going to do it anyway.” I jumped in on another whole foods summer reset cleanse with my body positive health coach Heartbeets Holistic Health. It’s a keep you hella full and take you by the hand and teach you how to prepare and eat anti-inflammatory foods program. Very veggie focused with access to meat if it’s your thing. Tons of recipes. Tons of self care modalities like dry brushing and detox baths.

Once you do Vic’s cleanse one time subsequent cleanses are gratis. I find when I’m doing a lot of traveling it is soooo helpful for me to focus on whole foods anti-inflammatory eating at home. It’s centering and also keeps the travel food from totally fucking up my life while I’m out of town and don’t have as much control over my food. So during the cleanse I was centering my life around cooking, grocery shopping and nourishing me and Dara.

I was shocked at how much better my capacity for dealing with life’s shit storms got when I was doing this cleansing. My moods stabilized and I was better able to be present with Big Feelings. Like, literally improved my relationship because when I’m in a better space emotionally so is Dara (#Empath4Empath is a tightrope sometimes). By Day 5 I could feel that initial impulse to freak out about something but I didn’t actually freak out. I was like seeing my Big Feelings from a calm and centered space and didn’t need to let it melt me down. What a gift I gave myself by focusing on healing my gut.

10176302283_70a9713433_oThank you forever Vic. I love you. (Vic’s in the center, we’re surrounded by Randee and Leo.)

Spirituality

I moved to LA to deepen my spiritual gifts and have continued to open myself up to new thoughts and ideas and create new spiritual practices. Given all of the tremendous devastation going on in the world at large right now, listening to NPR makes it hard to resist bawling your eyes out or settle into a default mode of rage. I know rage doesn’t serve me. So I like to employ prayer, gratitude and meditation to help elevate the world. At least it’s a thing I can do. I believe in good vibes. I believe do gooders in the world make the world a better place just by believing in hope. I’ll revisit that idea in a later post.

But let’s just say right now faith is kind of all I have in a lot of arenas of my life. I find it strengthens me when I can lean into it. It’s kind of like when you work out and build your core muscles your back pain gets better? Working out my faith really helps me stand tall in the face of an oppressive world that doesn’t value all human lives equally.

$$$ Hustle $$$

Capitalism is real and your girl has to pay those student loans and health insurance premiums, rent and vet bills. Moving to LA we knew that we had a finite amount of savings to live off of, we knew that I was working to retire from the practice of law and that we’re both building up small businesses. (Dara has a consulting business focusing on educational leadership.)

I believe being transparent about money is a form of classist resilience. They don’t want us to talk about money because keeping us in shame about how we are surviving because shame keeps us complacent. Right now I have about $1,500 in my bank account. Dara just got a check so we know how we pay October’s rent. But last week we didn’t know.

Seven months into our move to LA the hustle is real. I’ve lived before not knowing when next month’s rent is going to come and having to have faith it will—it never feels great. Here’s a list of how I’m gathering my acorns:

Desiree Alliance: I am so fortunate to work with an incredibly bad ass activist, Cris Sardina, who runs Desiree Alliance, a sex worker’s rights non-profit. Things got really busy before our biannual conference in July in New Orleans. We bring together activists working for decriminalization, direct service providers, professionals, academics, current and former sex workers and allies for five days of programming. We had some extraordinary keynote speakers, like Miss Major who is one of our surviving elders from Stonewall. She’s a trans woman of color dedicated to supporting trans women of color in the prison system through her non-profit TGI Justice (trans women of color are disproportionately incarcerated due to transmysoginy, racism and classism). Miss Major is a source of strength and resilience inspiration and just such a sweetheart. There is a movie about her that is winning awards all over the documentary circuit called Major! and you should prioritize seeing it. Her story is important and so inspirational.

I don’t make a ton of money as the finance officer of Desiree Alliance but it is meaningful work I feel honored to do. I’m looking forward to writing more grants with Cris to set up a sex worker activist mentoring program.

crisbevindararueMe, Cris, Dara and her baby granddaughter Rue, named for Rue McClanahan from Golden Girls.

Social Media Party Monitor for The Militant Baker: My friend Jes Baker is what I would call a “more famous body positive activist than me” and has hundreds of thousands of followers. That’s a lot of folks who comment and interact with her on social media and since her work challenges the concept of body currency the trolls who have nothing better to do than hate on awesome fat women uplifting people come out from under their bridges to say shitty things. I feel like a guardian who gets to make it easier for Jes to do her great work in the world. Read her book Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls (I’m quoted in it!!!). 

Dara wondered how I do it without having it affect me since I do the same kind of activism. I don’t know, it’s just easier for me partially because I get paid and partially because it is not directed at me and I know it makes Jes’ capacity greater. One of my life dharmas is to support activist resilience and somehow the purpose makes it easier for me read and delightfully block shit. And one day I’ll be influential enough to hire my own body positive activist friend to do that work for me! It’s great to have a job that is literally in line with your activism, however small it is.

jesbakerbevinchangetheworldHelping Jes change the world is an honor.

Law: I’m still maintaining an office in NYC so that I can practice real estate closings and estate planning for returning clients and friends in NYC. Most of my work is remote anyway and I have a great closing attorney who works with me when I can’t get to NYC for a closing. I just binge watched a ton of Continuing Legal Education classes in June and it was kind of fun learning about cannabis law, a very fascinating area I have no desire to practice in (still working on retiring from practice not starting something new) but as a media maker it’s helpful to have a fuller understanding of the evolving legal climate around cannabis.

The class about substance abuse for lawyers was fascinating, it taught me about how the qualities that makes one an effective attorney lends itself to suicide (the third leading cause of death among lawyers) and really highlighted for me why I am retiring.

Bevin’s Tea: I am still working on my Marie Forleo’s B-School course work and developing my business. I went to the World Tea Expo and cannot wait to have capacity to video blog about all the great teas I learned about. It’s both fun to be working towards a business I am extremely passionate about and frustrating about how long it takes to start something with no capital.

I have been learning so much both in practice and in B-School about creating a product-based business. Supporting artists and activists who maybe don’t have time or money to go get energy healing to take the fifteen minutes to prepare and consume a cup of reiki-infused tea is definitely part of my dharma. Thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered tea, it really helps a lot to learn the business by doing and I love the feedback. Can’t wait for you to see the product packaging I’m developing with my graphic designer!

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I also had no idea how much work it takes to start a new business and am taking each failure, mistake and triumph as necessary stepping stones to becoming the wildly successful energy healing mogul I know I can be. Also I want a line of clothing on QVC someday. As Dolly Parton says, Dream More!

Blog: My blog is a source of trickling income. I get gift cards for Amazon.com. When readers click links and buy literally anything on the site I get a commission. That helps me buy stuff for the house.

I get cash money from Bandelettes, the single sexiest form of chub rub prevention on the market (I used to spend all my commission on fatkinis but lately it’s gotta pay the bills).

The blog leads to the occasional speaking gig or sponsored blog post. If you want to reach a bunch of awesome people about your product or service, hit me up queerfatfemme at gmail.com. A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who has pre-ordered tea through my blog or used the Amazon referral link. Seriously helping right now.

everybodyeverybootyMe in my EveryBody tank and Dara in her Everybooty tee-shirt. East Coast West Coast queer lifestyles. Gym vs pride party.

OMG how many people have told me I “should just get a job” when I have a lot of them and am working towards being a full time body positive artist/activist/healer. But… I am getting a job, in addition to all the other jobs I have. I had to write my first resume focused on body positive activism! There’s a new body positive gym opening up 6 minutes from my house in Northeast LA. EveryBody is revolutionary, I’m honored to be part of the team.

It’s my deep pleasure to announce that I got a job as a fitness instructor doing body positive, accessible movement classes. I don’t think I would have ever thought in my whole life I would move to LA and become a fat femme Richard Simmons without the diet talk, but I’m really cute at it. I had done two different drag acts where we did fitness routines and those were for revolution not movement motivation but I’m stoked to get to be doing it for cash. I’ll give you more info when I have it.

Friends who visit LA–keep me updated because part of the class will involve interviews with artists and activists. Imagine a drag queen special guest star in a fitness class? I can’t wait to blow your mind. It’s like the next step to my body positive dance parties is to facilitate a dance party as part of moving and loving our bodies and healing collectively.

TRAVEL

I love to travel and have had some great opportunities this summer. I went to New Orleans for the Desiree Alliance conference and my friend Dana just happened to be staying at the same hotel after a bachelorette party. There’s nothing better than being at work at a conference dealing with the complaints of the AV guy and have a hot butch friend wearing a Dolly Parton tee shirt interrupt to hand you the best fried chicken in the world. I ate that fried chicken later on naked in my hotel room and it was the best moment.

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I went to Columbus a couple of weeks ago to visit my close friends Christie and Becky and their daughters/my nieces Etta and Joey. Our friends Erica and Amy joined us from Philly with their kids August and Ani. Yes, I have lesbian friends whose baby’s nickname is Ani and I think that’s a #lesbianlevelup. It’s such a gift to be close to children and get to be part of their growing up. My heart swelled with pride when Etta and Joey were on a meditation pillow showing me how they find “Inner peeeeessss.” I love those kids so much.

Next week I head to NYC for Dollypalooza for my first time back since we left in late December. My heart is happy and also breaks a little because I know I won’t get to see nearly everyone I want to while I’m in town.

Last week I was overseas and I have an epic series of blog posts about that a comin’.

auntbevinettaandjoeyMy goal is to always have it be THE MOST FUN EVER when Aunt Bevin comes to town. I taught them how to hop train cars using this long cart at Target.

BEVIN <3 DARA

Dara and I never formally lived together before we moved to LA. Shit has been rough for us externally but we continue to find one another as a source of strength. Every time we hit a rough patch, we get through it and things get even stronger between us. We’ve talked about marriage obviously (and the legal protection offered would be really cool) but we’re waiting until we have the cash to have the blow out epic wedding of our dreams to pursue the level up. Queers have been finding creative ways of honoring our love connections for years outside of marriage and I am having a great time creating family culture and ritual with her based around our super woo spirituality and her Jewish cultural heritage.

bevindarathemedressI don’t support colonial imperialism but I do love red white and blue. How lucky that Dara loves theme dress as much as me?

Our house is cute as fuck and I’m learning how to let go of my perfectionism about it. House projects are constantly mounting and my Mariah Carey closet is still not finished. I was making myself suffer mentally and emotionally because I had this idea that everything “should” be done by now. I know now I had expectations that weren’t aligned with reality and given lack of cash, time and capacity we can’t have everything done yet. Houses are a lot of work, it’s like having another pet but way more demanding. I’m relying now on the power of six months and sitting in gratitude for what is done. We have a fridge (that wasn’t always true). I have my dream kitchen faucet we paid for through a rent reduction when the last one burst.

Now I just let it go, trust the universe and sing that song I Know There’s Gonna Be Good Times

My goodness it feels good to be back to real talk on the blog. More soon. Sending love out to all who need it.

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I Tackled the Bin: Loving Myself Through Paper Adulting

The moving trucks come to take us to California two weeks from tomorrow. We ended up going with Flat Rate Moving on the recommendation of a friend, and I will be sure to blog about our experience because getting moving quotes took me 10 hours (literally). Personal experience, warnings and recommendations were crucial to my selection.

I feel like the process of decluttering and packing up my life is probably some of the biggest energy work I have ever done. Moving across the country when I was 21 was a life altering event in the best way, even though it took me a couple of years to realize it. At that time I was in college heading to law school and I still can’t believe I amassed so much stuff in four years at UC Davis. I managed to get rid of a ton of it, and the stuff I couldn’t fit in my tiny Saturn SC I gave to my mom to either ship to me or store in her garage. I don’t really have that luxury this time around and I’m having to make a million tiny decisions about whether or not I will need something “someday” and whether or not that matters.

This is a constant battle of trusting the abundance of the universe and cultivating a unique collection of vintage housewares. I’ve also struggled with my burning desire to be “efficient” which is a close cousin to perfectionism. I consider perfectionism in my life a form of self-abuse from which I am recovering.

archivesfliersSometimes you find things while packing that are actually delightful, like a flyer from my Rebel Cupcake days (It says simply “BODY POSITIVE DANCE PARTY” on the other side) and the article where Rebel Cupcake was a critic’s pick in Time Out New York and they used a photo of me hovering over the Gay and Lesbian events section. I am really proud of that moment in my media coverage. It’s one of those things I wish I could just go sit with sixteen year old me and say, “Bevin you feel like a total weirdo outsider now but in less than 20 years you’re going to be a total weirdo event producer and Time Out New York will call you a plus size party girl and it’s all going to be awesome because you’re going to bring the weirdo outsiders together and have more fun than the people you feel isolated by in this terrible suburb.”

Have you heard of the term “adulting?” People are using it all the time now to talk about the kinds of things that we have to do as adults. There’s lots that is unsavory about being an adult, like budgeting, paying bills, making doctor’s appointments, making hard decisions, going to bed early. Adulting lands in the gray area between taking life too seriously and self-care. Some of this has to get done in order to enjoy life, but you have to play in order to enjoy life, too.

I used to think that going to the dentist was my least favorite adulting task. I can’t believe I have to go and pay money for the privilege. I mildly resent it even though I really like my dentist, I just hate that it has to happen.

Now I realize that filing is absolutely my least favorite task. Filing and it’s supremely aggravating cousin, dealing with the mail. Professionally, at my primary money making task as a lawyer in my own firm, I deal with paper all the time. I’m actually supremely organized and have lots of systems for that. I just can’t seem to muster the desire or ability to tackle my personal paper organization at the level I’d like to. Because of my perfectionism I knew it would take hours and hours or likely days to resolve everything. I also struggle with fears around money and dealing with anything related to money and that definitely affected my dealing with paper. (I’m also baby stepping my way recovering my relationship with money and defeating my blocks to money.)

Because it was SO MUCH to deal with the papers and I couldn’t resolve all of it I would do none of it, or the very minimal I could get by with dealing with. It’s mostly putting it off until I can’t deal anymore and then I do a spurt of cursory sorting. Getting rid of junk mail, obvious trash, setting aside shredding. The rest goes into a sack (usually a small shopping bag, Ricky’s are great for this) “to be filed.”

My perfectionism/procrastination cycle kept me from resolving things for years, so those sacks of filing being put off became what I started to call “The Bin.” Eventually I got all the sacks into The Bin, overflowing as it was, and I knew where all important papers were, generally, and when I needed something, I could go through The Bin until I found it. It was functional but not pretty.

Over the years I’ve honed a method of how to handle the papers and harm reduce as I resolve my issues with paper adulting. I finally found a filing system that works for me. I use small plastic boxes like these and have letter size folders–I just went ahead and splurged on a box of 100 because I’d eventually use them for lots of things, even though I didn’t need 100 for my personal files.

I have developed some great habits, like stopping at the trash room on the way into my apartment with the mail to immediately recycle all junk mail. I’ve gone paperless wherever possible. I also have started paper adulting more often, so I am at least staying up to date on things. Because my new file management is easier to get ahold of, I can file easier because it’s accessible. (A tiny tote is easy to pull out.)

meaningfultrashI found this piece of meaningful trash in The Bin that was probably sitting on my printer when I had to move really quickly the last time I moved. (I didn’t get the benefit of months of decluttering that time.) It’s a concert ticket to see Lovers, that I ended up not using because I decided to take a cross country road trip instead. That trip was four years ago! I’m really excited to have another trip on the horizon.

I’ve also tried and failed at starting new better habits, like Only Handle It Once (OHIO) with papers. I don’t know that I’ll ever have a lifestyle where I can just come in with the mail and immediately file things away. I have tried to have a clipboard on the wall with papers that need to be dealt with shortly, a cute accordion file with the same function that is by my bedroom door… The truth is, our systems are only as good as we are at keeping up with them so of course it hasn’t been perfect.

The only thing I’ve found that actually works with paper management adulting is loving myself through it and harm reduction. I know I can do SOME things through spending SOME time. So I’ll set aside a night every now and again to tackle the piles. And it hasn’t gotten as bad as it used to get in the past couple of years through this loving and accepting approach. I haven’t had a sack of leftover filing papers since 2013, actually.

But, The Bin, remained. I could keep up with the papers but hadn’t spent enough time to resolve the old back-log.

Since I knew I was moving cross country, I knew I wasn’t going to be moving with The Bin. I have been working on it for months, a couple of hours at a time. I’ve hand hangouts with a few different friends that involve watching me with mountains of papers going through, shredding, recycling, marveling at things I found from 2001-2013. Just last night I got near the bottom of the bin and asked Dara to flip through a Time Out New York I found. “Can you see if I’m in this? That’s probably why I kept it.”

6991907434_eab70e1c60_bHere’s the other photo I want to show sixteen year old Bevin, taken in the Rebel Cupcake photo booth when the cast of the first run of Bayside! The Saved by the Bell musical performed. From my blog post in 2012 where I wrote to teenage Bevin: “When I was a fat depressed, often suicidal, teenage closeted queer I never thought I would be a New York plus size party girl making out with Zach Morris and gay AC Slater but maybe this was always my destiny. I wish I could tell early 90s awkward Bevin that it gets better. And also that her crushes on boys that looked like Zach Morris and AC Slater were just gaydar.” Bayside! The Musical returns to NYC in January, by the way, if you haven’t seen it, it rules.

I finished sorting The Bin last night. I can’t believe how much shredding I’ve done and how long it took. I think it has to have been at least 20 hours of sorting, shredding, filing and recycling.

I still have my current pile of mail to get through and I wanted to go through my file totes to make sure I’m not bringing too much of any one type of paperwork. And I’m definitely not happy with my personal archive management and know I can do better–basically it’s many files and a box of magazines I’ve been in, badges from significant performances, photos before I went digital and stuff like that.

In spite of that, I feel really proud to have loved myself through one of the most dreaded parts of adulting, and this move. Next up, physically boxing up my bedroom, celebrating my birthday party on Saturday, and figuring out what clothing to pack and what clothing to keep in the car for our road trip.

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