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

2017-12-15

I’ve Been Going Live on Facebook Everyday for Five Months and Here’s What’s Up!

In July PopSugar released a video about the aerobics class I created, Fat Kid Dance Party (For All Sizes to Heal from Body Oppression). The video went viral—it has had almost 4 million views to date. Since it was mostly hosted on Facebook my fan page Queer Fat Femme was my social media account that saw the biggest bump.

With this bump in likes I wanted to figure out a way to engage my new and longtime followers in a new way. I also had been thinking of ways of taking what I was teaching with movement at FKDP and deepening those lessons about self love and healing from body oppression. Something outside of aerobics class that uses additional teaching modalities to light a healing path for folks.

I can’t NOT photo credit! It’s a part of who I am! But my friend McKay who took these great photos doesn’t want photo credit so I’ll just leave it as a casual mention with lots of gratitude.

Enter Marisa Murgatroyd, business coach and motivator. My pal Christine Dunn (an effective relationship coach) had been posting about Marisa’s work. I seriously considered attending Marisa’s conference Message to Money Live last February but I didn’t have the funds to attend.

In late July Marisa created a 21 Day Facebook Live challenge. It was free to join and if you went live on Facebook for the 21 consecutive days of the program you would win a free ticket to Message to Money Live! At $1,000 value, this was not a small incentive for me.

I wasn’t ready to start going live every day. I had a ton of reasons I could have used to keep from embarking on this live journey. Timing! I was about to go visit my mom in a remote area of the Olympic Penninsula, what if her wifi was spotty? I didn’t know what exactly my live videos would consist of. Some days I am not in any shape to “perform,” how easy would it be to maintain my authentic voice? A cornerstone of my “brand” is being exactly who I am, no compromise. What if I ran out of things to say? What if no one tuned in?

When I began my journey to love my body I wasn’t ready. I just started. I used the tool fake it ’til you make it big time until I finally just did love my body without having to fake it. There’s a great business strategy, start before you’re ready. Same concept. The incentive and the timeline were a great opportunity so I did the thing, joined the challenge and started doing daily Facebook live videos. I could have easily sat in that resistance space spinning what if questions in a procrastination hamster wheel.

It has been almost five months and the results have been fabulous. In those first three weeks I ended up having another viral video. I was in a coffee shop answering media interview questions about Fat Kid Dance Party, literally writing about the effects of oppression on the body while a woman next to me said some horribly fatphobic things to a group of five people. Not one person stood up for justice in that moment and after I got done staring at her in shock I felt a surge of rage. I couldn’t sit there one second longer without going off on that woman, so I took a self care walk, leaving Dara with my computer.

I had the commitment to go live every day and here I was in a self care crisis rage spiral and I decided to get messy. The video of me processing that moment has 74,000 views. That was more than enough of a high five from the Universe for me to commit to continuing this daily live video project. The viral video also won me an additional $500 gift certificate for Marisa’s other coaching projects, I’m excited to use it to help develop the Fat Kid Dance Party digital workout platform once the pre-sale crowd fund (launching next week) finances my first video project.

Going live on Facebook every day answered a lot of the things I had been ruminating. It gave me a great outlet to engage people around the core tenants of what I teach at Fat Kid Dance Party in a much deeper way. It was on Facebook so it deepened the connection to all those new and long-time followers, and there’s really nothing like eyeball to eyeball contact to develop trust and intimacy. I have been a blogger for going on fifteen years and doing a live video takes me as little as five minutes including posting it, whereas a blog post takes me a minimum of five hours (usually more like 20 on a meaty post) between writing, editing, html coding, photos and social media amplification.

It has been a fabulous record of my life, a great way to share information I have learned in service to making the world safe for people to love themselves, and a wonderful training ground for my true career goal—a self love talk show. In many ways, it already is my self love talk show. It’s like a lab where I get to work on my on camera skills, develop my verbal storytelling, and learn what engages my audience the most.

Since my daily live show goes with me wherever I travel I get to share the cool places I go and great conversations with my incredibly wise friends. I have always wanted an Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown element to my talk show/reality show. (I just did a tour of Dolly Parton’s Chasing Rainbows museum this weekend!)

Since it’s live and daily, I feel less need for it to be polished. I don’t wear make-up every day so I don’t wear it in all of my videos. I let myself be messy, especially when I’m going through hard times. I’ve also learned that I don’t come off nearly as messy as I feel on those days I’m not as confident, which is a relevant lesson for everyone, we’re probably not as messy appearing as we feel.

It requires a level of daily self reflection that has allowed me to do more deep personal work and reminds me to look for lessons and tools. I think it makes me super relatable and my audience engagement is totally enhanced. I’ve gotten new Reiki energy healing clients from it and it has helped me work through new offerings as I develop as an entrepreneur looking to support my family with my art and healing work.

My friends have shared with me that my live videos feel like they are hanging out with me and that they love them because it’s an easy way to keep up with what ever-bustling Bevin is up to. I absolutely LOVE that! I want my viewers to feel like I am a healer, ally and supportive bestie in this journey with them, so the fact that my friends reflect that it’s like hanging out with me IRL is the best feedback.

My self love talk show was always a dream of mine and now it is a reality, I didn’t realize it until about three months into this project when the theme of my daily live videos emerged. I am in a continual process of deepening my self love and I deal with issues that come up that are so relevant to any step in the journey. Start before you’re ready applied to me as much in 2002 as in 2017.

This Saturday, December 16th at 5:30PM Pacific I am going live with my first ever holiday special. I LOVE the holidays so here’s another dream coming true. This year I have a musical guest, La Louma (if you love Sleater-Kinney or layered beautiful instrumentation get into her!!), we’re lighting the menorah, doing a solstice ritual and I am evoking Dolly vibes by having a raffle you can win from your living room for tons of Dolly fan art. Buy tickets here!

By turning on notifications for my live videos I am inviting you to have tea with me every day!

At the end of that PopSugar viral video I say, “When you love yourself you can move mountains.” Loving yourself makes everything easier. Join me daily! You can click the “follow” drop down menu to turn on notifications when I go live so you don’t miss an episode or tune into the ones that are most relevant to your journey.

2017-06-12

Two Important Weeks for Fat Kid Dance Party (For All Sizes to Heal from Body Oppression)

At the beginning of March I debuted my dance aerobics class Fat Kid Dance Party (For All Sizes to Heal from Body Oppression). I have been pouring so much heart, soul, muscles and hustles into this class! Most of the time I have between three and nine folks in the room and we have a fabulous time. I have two special classes coming up this week and next that I wanted to especially highlight for followers who are in LA, visiting LA or friends of mine who keep meaning to come to class.

The totally optional post class selfie has become a ritual I enjoy!

My class is 50 minutes long, 7PM Thursdays at EVERYBODY gym in Glassell Park, Northeast LA. Price is $14 a la carte and gets cheaper with class packages! A mash-up of dance aerobics, line dancing, sing alongs and unbridled enthusiasm, Fat Kid Dance Party is an act of dance floor reclamation. If you’ve ever been called “too much,” “too fat,” or felt too awkward to dance, this is the supportive class for you. More about my class later in the post.

June 15th I am partnering with The Plus Bus, our local LA plus size resale store, to sponsor a meet and mingle after class. Come sweat at 7PM and mingle from 8-9 in the cute EVERYBODY patio! The Plus Bus will bring over a rack of clothes and some water, and you’ll get to meet new people who are also interested in busting up body oppression. Fat community is hard to find most places, and LA can seem so body obsessed that it’s hard to believe there are other body positive warriors out here. But there are! I love connecting people and wanted to facilitate a way for folks to meet by attending my aerobics class so here goes*! Connect on the Facebook event page (pro tip–will be an easy way to social media link up with the folks you meet).

June 22nd Pop Sugar is coming to class to cover it for their website! I’m both thrilled and terrified about this! Part of learning to be an aerobics instructor is studying other aerobics instructors–their moves but more so their teaching style. Whenever I go cruising you tube I inevitably find a Pop Sugar aerobics dance combo from some slick instructor. It’s extremely cool to have Pop Sugar visiting class. Real talk (it’s my blog, so it’s always real talk) I feel kind of odd about plugging press coming to class. Honestly, I would love for them to see the class full of enthusiastic folks of all sizes and have that translated to their readership. Hopefully the folks who read Pop Sugar will want to come to our gym and support it with memberships and class packages! And folks who have never really thought about Health at Every Size who see the feature might be inspired to lace up their sneakers and try it.

More about my class:

There are four rules for Fat Kid Dance Party (For All Sizes to Heal from Body Oppression).
RULE NUMBER ONE: There’s no wrong way to do Fat Kid Dance Party.** I teach at a low-impact cardio level and offer variations and free dance to raise the cardio for folks who need more to sweat and I offer chairs that are rated up to 500 pounds for folks who want to work out from a chair. All my numbers have flamboyant arms, you’ll get a workout from a chair, too!

My friend T does Ironmans and broke a deep sweat in class with me so I know it’s working for all levels!

RULE NUMBER TWO: We cheer for awkward! If you feel awkward at any time, just say, “I feel awkward” and we’ll all cheer.*** Also, if you go right when I go left or whatever, you’re just making my choreography look more complicated and that makes me look good!

RULE NUMBER THREE: If you want to sing, go ahead. If you can’t sing, sing loud!

RULE NUMBER FOUR: We high five for self care! When we see someone getting water, we high five! When we feel good about movement we’re doing, we high five! Everyone gets a high five for showing up!

I go through the rules during our stretching. I use a stretching modality at the beginning of class that helps to improve mobility, reduce chronic pain and engages all of the muscles in the body. We generally stretch to a Stevie Nicks song and a New Wave song. They rotate every class.

We warm up with a 3-4 song dance combination I teach step by step. I have a cheer dance combo we use all Missy Elliott songs, a drag queen number, a boy band combo (boy in this instance means non-threatening masculinity not determined based on assigned sex at birth), a pop princess combo based on Mariah and Britney, and I just unveiled a confidence routine to all Beyoncé songs.

Each class has a line dance, mostly because I always watch in awe at line dancers but don’t feel confident enough to be awkward and screw up a bunch in front of strangers. But in a safe(r) space like my class we learn the dance first with a slower song then up the tempo a touch and do it on four walls. I pick a real line dance from out in the world of country, oldies, soul and other line dance genres and apply it to whatever songs I want. So far my favorite has been the Step in the Name of Love to Lizzo’s “Good as Hell.”

The rest of class is made up of one-off numbers. I am an artist first and foremost so there’s a lot more to each number than just movements–my years of body positive workshops have infused all over the place.

We do somatic taking up space exercises based on actual research to Prince’s “Baby I’m a Star.” We talk about prison abolition and racial justice with “White Lines” a song that is totally still relevant thirty years later. I do a walking meditation about healing your past bullying and stepping into your light to Erika Jayne’s “How Many Fucks Do I Give?” We heal high school trauma with Gossip’s “Move in the Right Direction.” We do Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl” based on a James Baldwin quote I live by.

Plus Dolly Parton, Pointer Sisters, Vanilla Ice, and still more to come. Mary Lambert’s new overtly queer single “Your Name” will be in a class really soon. We end each class with a cool down and a thank you to our queer and social justice ancestors who did all the work so that we have spaces like EVERYBODY and can heal together.

I am doing my Reiki Master training right now and I have learned lots of ways to put Reiki in the room and in the class content so it is at once a movement class and energy healing!

Jenny declared herself a “regular” after her first class (she found out about it when my friend Jes Baker of The Militant Baker posted it on Instagram) and is my first actual regular who comes to class all the time! I feel honored to have a regular.

If someone had told me two years ago that I was going to move to LA and become an aerobics instructor I would have laughed them out of the room. But then I decided to move to LA and when I heard about the new all bodies are good bodies/gender inclusive gym EVERYBODY opening just six minutes from my house I was so confused as to how to participate. I figured I could give body positive workshops like I had been doing for fifteen years. But then I was in the back of an “all levels” dance aerobics class at Heartbeat House struggling to keep up and realized that I could probably turn all of my drag performance and queer dance party production skills into my own class. A class that is actually for all levels not just for folks who can hop around the room like a graceful gazelle.

Actual quotes from people who have taken my class:
“I broke out into a deep sweat but my joints don’t hurt!”
“I feel significantly more joyful than I did before class.”
“This is like somatic therapy! I wish I could send my clients to your class but I want it for myself.” (Said a therapist with good boundaries.)

I hope you all can make it to this very unique healing modality some Thursday to come!! And if you’re interested in a Saturday evening class sometime, or maybe want to visit LA and need an excuse, I am thinking about doing a special event late Summer/Fall. Clickie on this form and let me know what dates would work best for you!

*If you’re doing body positive work in LA and want to partner up to do an after class hang out, get in touch!
**Borrowed phrasing from Glenn Marla’s brilliant, “There’s no wrong way to have a body.”
***Adapted modality from Kelli Dunham’s Queer Memoir series, where they cheer when an author says they feel nervous. It’s great permission giving for folks who aren’t used to speaking in front of a crowd.
****Since I’m an artist first and foremost, my own process is infused in the class all the time, including my friends I want to continue to connect to who have passed on. I honor my friend Amanda every time we practice the Boot Scootin’ Boogie to The Judd’s “Why Not Me,” a song we bonded over a lot. And I honor my friend Taueret in every class because she and I shared a deep love for cheesy 80s aerobics. She would love this class.

2017-03-13

Introducing Our Rescue Persian Biscuit Reynolds

When I first saw the Harry Potter movie that starred Crookshanks the cat, I became singularly obsessed with getting a squishy faced orange cat like him and the lasagna obsessed Garfield comic from my youth. When it came time to get a cat (in 2007) I was on the hunt for rescues that had a squishy faced orange cat, which in cat speak is known as a “red Persian” or an “exotic short hair” depending on the texture of hair you want to deal with. My second choice cat was a Himalayan, the same kind of cat my friends Becky and Christie had. Himalayans are a cross between a Persian and a Siamese, which I now know to mean extra loud.

Fate stepped in and I got the goldmine. Two cats were available for adoption from a woman whose daughter was allergic to them, they were older boy cats (my fav because boy cats are more snuggly and older cats are more mellow). One was a red Persian and the other was a Himalayan.

A Family portrait I had done by Kelsey Dickey the day before Bear POTSA. They were totally fine with me picking them both up at the same time.

I had eight beautiful years with ALF and Bear and I still miss them a lot. I had a hole in my heart after they left. I learned that cats and dogs provide really specific energy work—apparently purring cats heal via specific vibration. The first time I felt a cat purr was at bookstore a few months after ALF passed and I burst into tears, not out of sadness but more of a release of something pent up.

To say Biscuit Reynolds was planned is an understatement. As soon as I knew we were thinking about moving to LA (we started the “thought process” over a year before we left NYC) I had to suspend my only recently begun search. It wasn’t fair to get a cat knowing that I would have to move him cross country. I also was having no luck finding Persians in NYC rescues and there is a Persian cat rescue here in LA so I figured I’d just hold out til we got here.

Our adoption photo.

Of course, even after we found our house, it was months before we were finally ready to get a cat. Honestly, we still weren’t ready I was just in need of special cat bonding and healing. My friend had just taken her life via suicide and I decided we would just go to the next adoption event Dara was in town for and see if there was a cat we bonded with. She travels a ton for work, and the one time I went to an adoption event without her I didn’t get the cat I applied for, partially because Dara wasn’t with me.

It was the day of the Dolly Parton concert at the Hollywood Bowl, not the most ideal timing to schlep to Santa Monica (it’s 40 minutes without traffic), but I was determined. We got there just as it opened and they were still decorating the crates the cats were in. The abundance of gorgeous Persians was so wonderful and most of them were boys.

Biscuit Reynolds is named for a favorite Southern food, reminiscent of a few folks I’ve lost, and one of Dolly Parton’s leading men with a strong mustache.

You guys, the politics of rescue orgs is really interesting. There was one cat that was already spoken for. After interacting with all of the rest of the cats available for adoption we both really liked this orange and white Persian on the end of the cages. We hung out with him and talked to his foster mom and the rescue owner about adopting him and they were so weird about it. They didn’t like him with a dog simply because they didn’t know how he would interact with a dog. Our dog Macy is the ideal cat companion dog because she defers to cats to set the boundaries. This was not a selling point.

Anyway, we went out to grab a coffee and talk about the cat situation and came back and he was already adopted by someone else. We found out that it was someone who was a friend of the foster mom. I don’t understand why they didn’t just say, “We’re saving him for my friend.” It would have saved us from certain heartbreak about losing that cat!

Macy and Biscuit are on instagram as BiscuitandMacy.

We hung out with a couple other cats, this white Persian who I recognized from the Facebook feed for months who had a lot of special needs. Dara was pretty adamant that my time with ALF and Bear in their last three years—subcutaneous fluids for kidney failure, sundowning, peeing in the hallway—was enough special needs and we needed an easier cat. Plus she wasn’t feeling him.

Enter Biscuit Reynolds. I hadn’t considered him because I misunderstood which cat was spoken for. He looked just like the original cat who went to the friend of the foster mom. He was super snuggly with us and really sweet. The thing I wanted most in a cat was a good snuggler. He was supposedly 4 or 5 years old, had been surrendered by a previous owner who had adopted through the rescue. The owner was a touring musician whose roommate let Biscuit get out and he got lost for a few days.

He was on special urinary crystals preventing diet and he “peed differently than any other cat” the rescue owner had ever seen and I might have to give him a bath once a week. I didn’t see that as a red flag. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time and I didn’t think through the lifestyle requirements of a cat that needs regular bathing, and honestly, most Persian cats need regular bathing and grooming to help with their maintenance.

He is so chill about wearing outfits which is a major plus for me!

Once I had him in our home I realized a lot about Biscuit Reynolds. I could tell he was in a LOT of pain based on the way he was sitting and how he never cleaned himself. If your cat stops cleaning himself, you need to take him to the vet, you’ll notice when they develop an uptick of knots in their fur. I wish I had noticed that about ALF, I would have caught his kidney disease sooner and he wouldn’t have collapsed.

I could also tell there was definitely something wrong with how Biscuit Reynolds pees (if you watch, it comes out in just tiny drips, not a stream). He also pees a lot more than a normal cat because his special food makes him more thirsty. His butt is basically a longhair trap for pee and he walks around with wet “pee butt.” The wet pee butt makes his skin really tender on his hind quarters.

We asked the rescue to pay for a trip to their vet to work on his pain and his pee butt. Cat pain meds for chronic conditions are hard because they have sensitive livers. After a couple of trips and a lot of tests, we know he has a pinched nerve in his back (no idea how he got that). We found out he’s actually 7 and that he was in such bad shape when returned to the rescue from his life outside he needed blood transfusions! Their vet had no idea what to do about his peeing other than to keep him shaved. I was grateful for the help with his pain management and the full testing workup we got but not super satisfied about the pee butt situation.

We finally found a medicine that helps somewhat—Gabapentin, which is usually used to prevent cat seizures in a higher dose. We give it to him along with Vet CBD oil with an oral syringe. This is just simply a way of dosing liquids to a specific measurement and then squirting in his mouth. I can tell he is feeling better because of how he acts, the variety of positions he lays in and that he now grooms himself.

Biscuit Reynolds is basically a small friendly monster. He makes these incredibly loud snorting noises when he grooms himself. He excretes gross stuff on his face from his eyes (standard for Persians), he dunks his whole face into his water so he ends up looking really weird and a little scary until it dries, and he has a pee butt. We try to bring levity into the situation by calling him Mr. Peebuddy (pronounced like Peabody) and giving objects like papers we didn’t put away or the floor a daily Peebuddy nomination.

Monster face. We’ve since started cutting the extra floof off the sides of his face because it gets matted and knotted from the water.

He’s the weirdest cat I’ve ever had. He doesn’t eat anything but his food. No treats and no chicken! What cat ever rejected chicken?? He also doesn’t like catnip and is not motivated by it, which is great for me as I have two blends of Bevin’s Tea with catnip in them, since it is soothing for humans. But hard to get him to want to use a scratching post by putting catnip spray on it.

He is just as snuggly as we hoped but I had forgotten to affirm that I wanted a cat that smelled great and was self cleaning. We now have blankets to provide a safety barrier between us and the cat. I have to mop the living room and bedroom floor all the time, use disinfecting wipes on the couch and recliners (thank goodness for wipeable furniture) and use cute towels or doilies on the other furniture he sleeps on. I make a DIY febreeze with essential oils, vodka and water. We clean soooo much more often, which is probably a net positive given how much I hate cleaning but hate the idea of pee butt more.

Biscuit Reynolds is OBSESSED with outside. Persian cats aren’t great indoor/outdoor cats because they have high maintenance coats. ALF and Bear didn’t give any fucks about going outside and they were very easy. We take Biscuit outside on a harness and leash and let him roam around. I tried walking him with Macy one time and that was not so successful since Biscuit Reynolds doesn’t like to walk in a linear fashion and mostly wants to crouch in the grass and chew on it.

I bought him some grass to eat in the house, he refused it. Outside grass only.

We are now getting him groomed as short as possible with no frilly cat stuff like puffy paws so that he’s easier to keep clean. We keep his water bowls small but numerous so he can’t quite dunk his whole head. Our groomer gave me this spray to help neutralize the pee smell on his hindquarters. We are trying a custom diaper next to see if it keeps him dry and still enables him to poo in the litter box.


Biscuit Reynolds turned out to be a lot more maintenance than we thought. If we knew going into it how much care he would require Dara would have easily talked me out of it. However, since my experience caring for my Grandmother while she POTSA (Passed On To Something Awesome) I am rethinking how I feel about “care.” Caring for her was an incredible bond that I’ll never forget. I am rethinking the care I provide my pets as bonding. I wanted to snuggle with a cat but in my tender care it gives me and Biscuit Reynolds a sweetness that is more intense than just having cats, feeding them and scooping the litter box.

I feel like given how much we tried to not get a special needs cat and still ended up with one, it’s like this special lesbian cat work we were called for. We’ve already given him energy healing with Syd, our healer. I also give him Reiki all the time. And on the docket when our money situation is more abundant, we want to seek out a specialist to do a surgery on his urethra to try to correct how he pees. We also got a message from our healer about seeking out essential oil therapy for him so if anyone knows a healer in the natural/herb arts for pets please let me know! Or if you’ve had a similar situation with a cat let me know!

I know the care intimacy is working because within a month I genuinely felt love for him, and it keeps on growing. I’m also kind of obsessed with him because he’s so weird, so sweet and so handsome.

2016-03-01

Dolly Parton taught me to Dream More and I’m Doing It!

You all know that Dolly Parton is one of my heroes. She taught me to Dream More. It’s part of her four pillars of success, as she outlined to the University of Tennessee graduating class commencement speech and then elaborated in her book Dream More. (I highly suggest the audio book read by Dolly herself.)

jessbevindollymatiequinnI met Dolly last summer because I work hard, dream more and have generous friends.

Anyway, I’m dreaming. Those of you who have been reading my blog over the past few days know that I’m hustling a pre-sale of my Reiki infused tea blends in order to make tuition for B-School, an online business school whose sign-up ends tomorrow. It’s a stretch to make the money needed to go to the school when you are a freelancer living off savings after a cross country move but I am working on it!

The great news is that I have sold a bunch of tea and gotten a few donations, so I am now officially 30% funded!! Thank you to everyone who has purchased tea so far and donated, and thank you to all of my friends who have shared the fundraiser!

I need your help to get closer to my goal!
Would you consider posting the link to my pre-sale on your social media, emailing friends you know who love tea and/or healing modalities?

If you’re on Twitter here’s a tweet to copy and paste: Help Bevin @queerfatfemme get to #BSchool! Buy some #reikihealing infused tea! Sale ends Wednesday! http://queerfatfemme.com/reiki-tea-pre-sale-ends-march-2nd/

I know I’m on the right track for a business because I am excited to blend the teas! I’ve already started to dry the tangerine peels for my Rooibos Citrus blend, carefully carving out the pith so that the peels brew sweeter.

I’ve gotten great feedback about my tea through this process, too!

Jes Baker of the Militant Baker said when sharing the tea sale with her readers, “Bevin of Queer Fat Femme is a healer and one of the most inspiring people I know. She’s launching a Reiki tea line and is starting a pre-sale now. She left ‘Feelings Tea’ with me last month and it changed my life. Go support a rad chick and get rad tea, my loves. Everyone wins.”

dollyquotemugI got this mug at Dollywood! The quote says, “If you don’t like the road you’re walking start paving a new one!”

Dari, a friend of Dara’s, came over and said my Self Love tea (I served it iced, it is great both ways) has a good flavor that lingers in the mouth.

My little niece Joey (4 years old, her favorite music is “Dolly Parton” and I have her saying that on video) said “Yum!” when her mom Christie gave her my Find Your Chill blend. I got a cute video text about it.

My friend Holly said she loved the Dolly Mint I served her when we were hanging the other night and followed up by buying a tin!

bevinmilkbobMe, backstage at the first Dollypalooza in 2014. Right between World Famous *BOB* and MILK (RuPaul’s drag race). I never knew my life could be so awesome and I am really excited to see where it can go! There’s another Dollypalooza happening in NYC in the Fall and one planned for LA next Winter, so BOLO (Be On The Lookout) right here or at Dollypalooza.com.

I’ve also heard some amazing things about B-School since I launched the fundraiser and gotten support from folks who love Marie Forleo’s work and, in the words of Paul Thomas (a follower of the Militant Baker, who heard about my tea from her), “Marie Forleo is the real deal.”

I’m so excited to get this business off the ground using my blog and to share the progress with my readers. I would love your support by sharing, buying tea or even just thinking good thoughts that I can womanifest this goal by tomorrow evening!

Dolly says, “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.” That’s what I work to do with this blog, and that’s what I’m hoping to support with this Reiki-infused tea business!

2014-06-20

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

I read a lot of blogs, especially design and mommy blogs, where it kind of seems like the blogger has this magical, perfect life full of sunshine and roses. I know that’s an easy thing to think about someone who publicly shares about their life that things are easy all the time. But it’s part of my artistic intentions that I talk about the way shit is hard sometimes, too. This piece is about how it is okay to not be okay sometimes.

On Father’s Day every year for the past four years my magical, powerful, wonderful roommate Damien Luxe produces an event called Fuck You Dad: A Cabaret to End Patriarchy. It is a way for her to reclaim Father’s Day, which always falls near her birthday. It’s such an empowering event and I’ve really loved getting together with other artists to perform in a cute backyard and DIY empowerment we maybe (probably) didn’t get from our dads.

14428960215_f66d930428_oFrom a previous year’s Fuck You Dad offerings, as published on the Heels on Wheels instagram.

As an only child raised by a single mom in off and on working class/poverty, with a family legacy of alcoholism, I’ve got lots of dad issues. I work through them in a few venues, most helpfully in a twelve step program for families and friends of alcoholics. Much of the time, maybe even 95% of the time, I’m really fine. I have lots of compassion, detachment with love, etc… But this year it took me by surprise.

My girlfriend, who has been going through treatment for breast cancer, just lost her beloved father. He was a wonderful man, he radiated love and support and everything a Good Dad can be. (And I’d like to point out here that the patriarchy makes it really hard even for Good Dads to be Good Dads.) I am so grateful I got the chance to meet him.

The day after Dara’s last chemo treatment her dad went to the ER with chest pains and a little over a week later he passed away. It is really shitty to want to be celebrating a cancer treatment milestone and instead be packing up to go to a funeral. We were supposed to be getting together for a family vacation where I was going to meet her brothers and their families for the first time and her folks were going to meet my mom and Grandmother, my two closest biological relatives. It was weird how all of our travel had changed and it was a grief tornado.

As far as I could tell for myself everything was fine, considering. I was holding it together and feeling really helpful with the family. Dara’s family rules, they are really sweet and awesome. I really appreciated being able to be helpful—managing food as it came to the house, cleaning up, grocery shopping, making sure Dara was eating. All the kinds of things I’d learned to do as a cancer caretaker in a more concentrated form.

14445164014_98c990f573_oDamien emceeing and Heather and Daniel Rosza preparing for their Fancy piece.

We flew home from staying with her mom for the week after the funeral and the next morning was Father’s Day. I was working on my piece for Fuck You Dad and it wasn’t gelling. I was feeling really distracted and moody. Dara and I got into a really dumb fight and I didn’t know why.

Until I got to Jacqueline’s house to workshop our pieces and I kind of lost it during her rehearsal. And then when I got to the cabaret and started crying as soon as I hugged my friend Heather, I just realized, I’M NOT OKAY.

This was both a surprise to me and also kind of sucked. When I perform I want to have more control over myself and not feel like I might cry when I get up to the mic.

What I’ve realized about resilience is that it’s there when I most need it. During a crisis, I’m a rock. I am a logistics mistress, I will get everything taken care of. I generally am not feeling my feelings when I’m going through something hard. I’m just getting through. Given all the dad grief going on so acutely for the previous three weeks, given all the caretaking energy I’d been putting out for the past six months, I just didn’t have all my resilience I usually do on Father’s Day.

The dad stuff that’s usually on the shelf and very tidy for me was a total mess. But because I was performing in this space, with these people around me all at once, all these amazing Femmes who have been my rocks (some of them for years), I could afford to lose it a little and have time to collect myself before I went on stage. And it was okay.

Being a Feelings Squirrel kind of person, where a squirrel saves her nuts to eat during the long winter, I kind of unconsciously save my feelings for later when I have space. I recognize that this is a survival mechanism that I learned out of necessity in a not great childhood. This is something I’m only recently learning about myself so I am still working on how to constructively let out my feelings when it’s time instead of having them come out in not so great ways later.

I’m experimenting with ways for me to have some space to feel feelings. Like when we were in Vegas I took a friend’s recommendation for a Korean day spa, one of those places where you pay $20 and get to go lounge in a sauna or hot tubs for as long as you want. I went there because I knew I needed a place to feel feelings.

14435415852_70ef34c5bb_oJacqueline spray painting Fuck You Dad on a comforter. Photo courtesy @mxjackdawson on Instagram–the modern day Getty Images.

But it wasn’t enough. I totally got to the point on Father’s Day where my feelings were coming out of me like I was an overfilled sandwich cracker and the peanut butter was squishing out the sides.

When I found out that my performance at Fuck You Dad was the last in the line-up I knew what I needed to performed. I scrapped what I had prepared and I decided to do a healing exercise with the audience.

As my introduction I had the emcee call on three people that new me to solicit compliments. This is a totally hard thing to do, solicit compliments, but is a really quick and easy way to access strength and resilience when you need it.

When I ask my friends for compliments, I’m not doing it from an insecure place. When I’m feeling not okay, having my friends remind me why I am a babe or a bad ass or competent or whatever really helps me get out of the negative thought patterns that love to rush in when my vulnerabilities are high. Try it next time you need a boost—call on folks you consider body positive allies when you need a boost about body self confidence, or call on folks who you trust to support you when you need general confidence reminders.

They were perfect compliments, too. One was about being a good dog mom, one was about my blog and the other was about how I have a spirituality that is very big but I don’t push it on other people. It was helpful to have that framework for what I did next with the crowd.

14430104821_d0d57e77f4_oI didn’t even get it together enough to dress how I wanted to for Fuck You Dad and Jacqueline loaned me this babely leopard dress. I’m pictured with this totally nice person who looks like my bestie Leo who has been on the West Coast for months.

I told the audience I was not okay and that it was okay that I was not okay. I testified a one minute version of this post about my dad stuff. I thought that probably, like me, hearing 11 acts, many of which really went there with exorcising Bad Dad stuff, brought things up for people and they might need some centering, healing and cleansing.

I lead a breathing and prayer exercise. Breathing in healing and breathing out fear. Breathing in love and breathing out anger. I offered a Reiki healing to everyone for their childhoods—at my present level of Reiki training I can heal through time and space. I had them picture a time in their childhood that needed healing and I beamed the healing out to them.

Then I did a centering exercise based in gratitude, where I had the audience turn to someone next to them and thank them for being with them in this moment. I find it really helpful to make human connections in times when I’m not okay.

So that was my offering at Fuck You Dad. I wanted to share it with folks out there in my blog audience. Kind of like how even the most ardent fat activist still has “bad fat days” even folks who have done lots of work on different areas of their lives have hard times and it’s okay to not be okay. It’s taken me a lot of work to release the shame that comes up for me when shit I thought was long settled gets stirred up for me again.

And Father’s Day is almost a week over and I’m working on doing the things I know that work to take excellent care of myself. And I know I’ll be okay, even though I also know it’s okay to not be okay.

2014-06-12

My Reading with Spiritual Advisor Alex and Kazoo

I like to think of meetings with spiritual advisors, psychics, astrologers, past life readers and all manner of woo folks to be a cross between spiritual practice and therapy. You get a chance to work through issues you are having with someone who has more insights than you might at a given time and it also relies on your belief in a power/energy/spirit world greater than yourself.

A friend of mine had a reading with Alex and Kazoo and recommended him. Alex, that is, who is the human part of the duo, Kazoo being the spiritual end. Alex communicates with Kazoo, the name he gave his spirit guide at a young age.

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I started working with Alex and Kazoo with a twenty minute reading, which he offered as a special a couple of months ago. After our first reading I was sold on his gift, our connection and I was curious what a longer, hour long reading would be like.

Both times I met with Alex and Kazoo via Skype. I’ve done other spiritual readings over skype before and I find them to be just as good as in person, sometimes even better because for some reason my focus is a little more sharp. When I’m with someone in person it takes me longer to focus in on the interaction and I get more distracted.

Kazoo connects with spirit guides and tells Alex what the spirit guide is saying. So the reading is kind of like Alex reporting what two metaphysical beings are saying about you. This is basically where my recent interest in talking to psychics and mediums is coming from–at this point I know so many people who have POTSAed* I’m convinced everyone is partying out there and I want to know what’s happening. I’m nosy.

Alex knew things about me that you wouldn’t know about me, even if you scoured my blog and my social media. There are psychics out there I have worked with who I can tell are making a genuine connection with me and Alex is one of them.

The thing that really got me with Alex and Kazoo was during the first reading he gave me really great advice about something I had been struggling with without me even needing to ask about it. After my first reading I was able to rest assured I was doing the right thing and it became more and more clear that he had been right about that in a very specific way (sorry to be so vague about the subject) that he couldn’t possibly have just guessed and thrown that at me. So having had that great advice and comfort, I decided to reach out to Alex for a full hour-long reading.

Both times Alex and Kazoo connected with a male spirit guide of mine. From his first description I thought it might be my paternal grandfather, who I have felt a closeness with since his passing in 2012, but Alex explained it is someone who tunes into me out of respect for someone close to me.

During the second reading I asked if there were any other spirit guides around and he said a couple of sisters popped up. The sisters thing was interesting because during my visit to a psychic medium in January (a crowd-funded birthday present from my friends) a pair of independent sisters appeared, who I believe to be great aunts of my father. Both readings, by Alex and the other medium, explained the pair of sisters in really similar ways.

In the reading Alex reported first what my spirit guide was excited to talk to me about. He noticed a marked difference in my energy from the first reading to the second reading. When I had my second reading I was at a house alongside a babbling brook–a weekday vacation I took at the end of May to get out of the city. He said I needed to have this be a more regular thing that I had let my energy get too depleted and it’s an important renewal for my spirit to be out in nature.

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Alex then switched to me needing to spend more time doing things in a “selfish” way, things that have no purpose whatsoever. Spending time working on stuff that requires my concentration but pulls me out of the world. I asked if it was like working on a puzzle and he said, “Yes!” as I had been working on a jigsaw puzzle for a few months but hadn’t yet gotten to finishing it. After the reading I set aside a bunch of puzzle time, telling my girlfriend that I needed to have some puzzle time to unplug.

My spirit guide told me to spend less time studying and more time paying attention to my intuition. I had noticed my internal tapes kept berating myself for needing to learn more. I often get into weird thought spirals where I think I need to learn things–I was recently on a tear telling myself I needed to learn more languages, to play the banjo and a few other things I keep thinking I need to “study.” It was interesting that I got the specific message that I needed to spend less time studying. I found this advice to be eerily timely. I had told Alex nothing about me thinking about studying and he knew to tell me not to do so much of it.

He also told me more dessert and indulgence.

I was also told that life has been sending a lot of shit my way and instead of dodging things I should just start letting them hit me and not letting it affect me. It’s less like playing frogger in life and more like just walking across a street and not letting the trucks break me, if that makes sense. It was helpful advice that I’ve found really empowering in the couple of weeks following our second reading, as life has delivered more shit storm.

I enjoyed hearing what my spirit guide was excited to talk to me about, but what I found most valuable was towards the end of the reading I just started bouncing ideas off of my spirit guide through Alex and Kazoo and getting some very detailed feedback. It helped me flesh out some things that I’m working on.

I talked about my idea to craft Reiki infused tea blends, as I am now Reiki Level Two attuned, using Reiki energy to invigorate the healing power of herbs and super charge the tea itself with Reiki life force energy. Alex said, “Ding ding ding!” about the idea. And we worked through some things that I hadn’t even gotten to with the idea that my spirit guide was really excited to tell me about.

One thing that was really interesting that came up was when I was talking about an event I’m planning, my first foray into nightlife after a six month hiatus. At first my spirit guide was supportive, but then Alex’s face got very concerned. He warned about something very specific that had happened and I knew immediately what it was. It was super powerful and important that I get affirmation/warning from my spirit guide on and I was really glad I brought it up.

14140094159_af8998ee54_zAfter I got home from the trip to the babbling brook I turned back to the puzzle I’d been working on for two months and finished it in three days. It’s missing five pieces and I really don’t care.

If you’re feeling called to have a reading from Alex I highly recommend it. I found them fun and soothing.

Alex and Kazoo’s readings can happen via skype or in person if you’re in the New York City area. He also does readings for up to three people at a time, which I imagine is really fun.

Alex is offering a special for my blog readers–if you book a reading and mention my site before June 30th (the reading can be for later, you just have to book by the 30th) you can get an hour reading for $50 off his standard rate. So instead of paying $150 you pay just $100.

Get in touch with Alex through his website, connect on his facebook page or email alexandkazoo at gmail dot com!

*Passed On To Something Awesome (the idea that when you pass you are going on to a higher consciousness).

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