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

2015-01-23

Movies I’ve Seen: Selma, Spare Parts, Into the Woods, Inherent Vice, Wild

When planning to go to the movies recently I literally said to myself, “If I can’t live somewhere warm at least I can go see a movie about a warm place.” Ugh Winter. I’m never quiet about my attempts to pull myself out of Seasonal Depression. In the past two weeks movies have been a big part of it. Here’s a rundown of what I’ve seen and what I thought.

Selma Movie (2)

SELMA: Go see this movie! It’s so important! The story of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leading the march from Selma to Montgomery. I was glad I read the January issue of Oprah Magazine first so I was refreshed on the history and could watch the story and the actors a little closer. You can probably get a good refresher from the Selma website.

I thought Selma was brilliant in so many ways. Foremost for me is not thinking of people who are heroes as having to be perfect in order to be heroes. For me, it doesn’t diminish MLK Jr.’s work in the world because he wasn’t a perfect husband. They tell a real story about a marriage of a civil rights leader that was flawed. MLK Jr. had infidelities and that was a struggle. I think a lot of biographers and filmmakers about legends shy away from talking about ways in which they weren’t perfect and I think it loses humanity.

There is a lot of depth to stories that you don’t hear from dry history lessons and I really appreciated how much we got to know several of the activists involved and the politics of civil rights movements that we are still struggling with today. There was also a lot to cry about in the movie, again and again, especially the amount of police brutality that juxtaposed with today is heartbreaking. But still uplifting in a way because at least while you’re watching it you know that the Voting Rights Act passed and they got what they were working towards.

It’s impeccably acted and I also loved all of the attention to vintage detail. I also noticed a way of personifying the women who were feeding and tending to the needs of the activists while they were strategizing. I thought it was nice to not just have that be a mystery but to show that there were people working behind the scenes to make it possible for the activists on the forefront to do the work they were doing. Also also, there are a lot of activists’ stories told, including many women, which is often overlooked in historical films where there is a main male hero.

Listen to the new song Glory by John Legend and Common, which plays over the credits in the movie and rightfully brings Ferguson into the room. You can hear the song on the website, iTunes or Spotify.

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Bonus: Oprah, playing her third film role where she punches a man.
Bonus: Woman of color directed

Spare Parts: I had planned to go see another movie but it was sold out. We did a quick scan of what was playing and saw the trailer on my smartphone. I hadn’t even heard of it! I’m so glad we saw it, though, because it was heartwarming, funny and inspirational.

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George Lopez stars as a default because of no work as an engineer with a PHD substitute teacher and reluctant advisor to the robotics club. The club is assembled of a group of high school kids, all of whom are undocumented immigrants. I think it’s rare to see a strong plotline of undocumented folks in mainstream movies at all, let alone funny movies.

It’s a true story of a high school underwater robotics team that built a robot with not a lot of money to compete against MIT, Cornell and other fancy universities. The storytelling is a bit formulaic, like I could kind of see how they were writing the story, creating conflict and moving the plot along, but I also really liked it for the content. The acting was phenomenal. George Lopez was more understated clever funny, which worked great for the character. Esai Morales as the father of two sons, one of whom is documented and one who isn’t, was a total stand-out.

I’m not sure how much longer it will be in theaters (it opened last weekend) and I always think it’s important to see movies in the theater to tell the movie industry people want to see movies with strong characters of color.

Bonus: Dara cried real tears because it was so heartwarming.
Bonus: Jamie Lee Curtis as the hilarious principal of a school with no money. Many of the other characters are very dramatic. She’s just goofy.

Into the Woods: I’m a little dubious about movie musicals but this one was actually really well done. It’s based on a musical that weaves Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood and a few other fairytales into one story. It was magical, mesmerizing, well-acted and fun to watch. A great escape from reality movie. I also enjoyed the way the typical fairytale endings were upended and revised. Dara said that the actual musical was much darker than the movie version, so if you’ve seen the musical expect that. Also, Meryl Streep’s hair is epic and I found myself wondering how they made blue hair look so great.

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I did go on a rant after seeing the movie about why they didn’t cast at least a few of the main characters as people of color. I thought it was sorely lacking in racial diversity that could have fit in with the plot pretty seamlessly.

I saw it in a theater that had no heat, so even though it was a cute movie I was cranky afterwards.

Bonus: Johnny Depp as the wolf is a total babe, and so is the endearing chubby baker.

Inherent Vice: I saw this last night–after the movie I wanted my two and a half hours back. Here’s the thing, I love Joaquin Phoenix (aka River Phoenix’s brother, may he rest in peace) and I love Reese Witherspoon so I thought an adventurous mystery movie set in LA would be a great way to forget about how cold it is right now. I was sold by the trailer!

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Joaquin Phoenix stars as a private detective searching for something. I could never really figure out what he was after. Was he after the real estate tycoon his ex girlfriend was boning who disappeared? Was he just being given mysteries to solve by seemingly random potential clients? If I had read the book maybe I would have followed the movie better. Maybe if I knew more about drug culture in 1970 I would have understood more of it.

The most noteworthy part of Joaquin’s character is that he is a hippie who smokes a lot of pot and does whatever other drugs come his way and he gets into mischief as a result. And then maybe I thought, if I were stoned would this make more sense? Would I follow the plot more? And the answer is probably not at all.

If I was at home I probably would have given up on it about a third through the movie but because I paid money for it I stuck it out. Dara didn’t like it either and this movie has prompted us to create a code word for, “I’m okay to leave if you want to.”

There was this one scene with the ex-girlfriend that might be hot or kinky if it wasn’t in the middle of such a terrible movie. But by then I was annoyed enough that I was just like, this movie is some kind of white guy film school fantasy sequence. But, it’s a mainstream movie that’s pretty sex positive so maybe that’s a plus? I don’t know. The hair was awesome. And the vintage sets and cars were really great. And a lot of people liked the movie on Rotten Tomatoes so maybe there’s some sort of redemption in this flick I’m not seeing.

Wild: I saw this a long time ago but it’s still playing and it’s worth a high five. As stated, I love Reese Witherspoon. You should also enjoy her if you go see this movie as she is basically the main thing you’ll see in every scene. I read the memoir Wild that the movie is based on and was super worried that it was going to not do the book justice. It’s not as good as the book. But it is a really beautiful adaptation of the book.

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The story is a woman who decides, with little to no experience or training, to backpack 1,000 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail. I was excited to see the movie just for the scenery, that’s a gorgeous hike. And it was poignant and beautiful and fleshes out Cheryl Strayed’s relationship with her mother in a way that pays homage to the deep relationship in the book. The acting is great, and so is watching someone go camping in a way that has a real plot and conflict. Because it’s hard to make a movie about camping interesting. And yet, it totally is.

Bonus: Cheryl Strayed is in the movie and drops Reese off at the trailhead.
Bonus: A few unexpectedly hot sex scenes. They weren’t that hot in the book.

2015-01-09

Five Ways I Shake Off Body Oppressive Rhetoric During the New Year’s Resolution Bandwagon

Having spent the last three weeks traveling, between a road trip for a meeting at Dollywood and a family trip to Seattle, I’ve been really off my game. I find it so challenging to travel and meet my self-care needs.

I manage a chronic digestive disorder (Irritable Bowel Syndrome is the Western diagnosis, but I know it’s more complicated than that) with food restrictions and I can feel when my digestion isn’t working. I can get away with not eating in alignment with my body for a little while but eventually it adds up and I’ll pay a price with intense flares and body pain. It’s hard to not want to eat all the amazing food you’re exposed to when traveling. Moderation works for me until it doesn’t.

I also manage my mental and emotional health with exercise. I am still not sure what alchemy I need to carve out time for more than walking the dog when I travel, but more often than not if I pack my gym clothes and shoes I won’t use them. I’ll end up cranky and spiraling by the end of a trip from not getting my angst out on the elliptical. I know that setting better boundaries and time management when I travel is a growth area for me.

15889385960_a7632fe2fa_zWe already had the Seattle trip booked when we got a meeting with the Dollywood Foundation to partner with them for silent auction prizes for Dollypalooza in September… We decided to just go for it and took a road trip, and fulfilled my bucket list dream to see Dollywood at Christmastime. It did not disappoint.

As I was preparing to leave Seattle I found myself really excited to go to the gym and drink green juice, smoothies and detox from sugar. And as I heard the same kind of “drink all the green juice!!!” and “get a new gym membership!!!” trumpets from the anti-fat mainstream media and billion dollar weight loss industry in conjunction with the new year’s resolution influx of people working to lose weight for the umpteenth time, I felt gross about it. Like, here I was wanting to participate in something that is also being used as weapons against bodies like mine.

I thought a lot about what was going on in my head about this stuff and how it was that I have herstorically dealt with the new year’s uptick in relentless weight loss commercials, before and after I began eating in alignment with my body and going to the gym. I came up with some ways that I’ve used to make sense of the complex and seemingly contradictory relationship I have with loving my fat body, hating the sizeist media and making choices that help my body feel its best. I share them below.

1. Run your own race

I like to remember that everyone has their own life and their own life challenges. It’s really difficult to live in a society that literally has a war on body types like yours. In my case, the war on obesity hits home, but other bodies are under attack–people of color, disabled folks, transfolks, aging people. It’s also true that oppression of any body affects all, so the fear of becoming fat, or old, or disabled affects the narrative and creates a society where no body is safe.

So that said, people who need to focus on diet and exercise to lose weight, I just let them do their own stuff. That’s their life path, not mine. I am very self aware and know that my choice to go to the gym doesn’t mean I think my fat body is bad. I also don’t expect some kind of wild body transformation. I do expect that as I keep going back I’m going to feel calmer and more at peace with my surroundings and the onset of Winter and the Winter Blah Blah Blahs (aka Seasonal Depression). (P.S. I’m writing this blog post while sitting under my NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy LampUV Happy Light.)

16085137075_a651db95c4_zSpeaking of lights, that’s a hologram of Dolly Parton playing the Ghost of Christmas Past in the Dollywood production of A Christmas Carol.

2. You are worthy of love exactly as you are.

All of the “NEW YEAR NEW YOU” rhetoric (actual graphic I saw on the itunes store app center thingy this morning) is basically shorthand for you’re not good enough. Remember there are multiple billion dollar industries that require you to feel insecure in order to sell you products. It is not in their best interest that you feel good about yourself.

But here’s the thing. Today, right now, you sitting right there. You are actually good enough because you are human and you are worthy. That’s something you can choose to believe.

There’s a myth that losing weight and modifying yourself is going to make you feel worthy, but self-acceptance is actually the surest way to make yourself feel that way. I know a lot of people who have lost weight in a myriad of ways, and the thing that seems the most common among them is that people who started out hating their bodies had a lot of self hate left once the weight was gone. Wild insecurities pop up when you lose weight and haven’t lost the hate for your body.

It’s not like we don’t all have ways we want to grow and change, change is the only constant in life. I’m a lifelong learner and self-developer. But I know even as I have “areas for growth” (I’m always working on improving my language to be more gentle with myself) I’m worthy right now. It’s just choosing to shift your perspective to believe that you’re worthy and accept yourself as you are. Maybe that’s a change you can work on for the NEW YEAR NEW YOU.

15897718658_474ccf4ff1_zThis kettle corn that I watched get made in front of me was very inflammatory and very delicious. Moderation in all things, including moderation, said Maya Angelou.

2. Be critical of the media you consume

When I was first getting involved in size acceptance I went on a complete media diet. I focused only on size positive or size neutral things. I obsessively collected pictures of cute fat people and put them around my house so I could see them. I trained myself to see fat as positive.

Now I’m able to employ lots of techniques for consuming mass media (that’s probably a whole other blog post). I work to be very critical of what I consume.

I was in the airport and saw the new Self magazine with a big headline of “Love Your Body.” I didn’t have the chance to read it because I was too busy being paranoid because I was accidentally high, but I went onto the website to find out if they were really joining the bandwagon of loving your body as it is. And I saw that the Love Your Body headline right where every other month has weight loss tips, and I looked through their website and saw all of their weight loss articles, so I realized they were just co-opting language to sell weight loss! Real classy Self magazine!

This time of year especially, I work my hardest to remind myself that mass media is not the boss of me and try not to get defensive or mad every time I see something that advertises quick weight loss or uses headless fatties to scare folks about fat. Getting defensive or mad is totally a valid response, though, and my rage does flow through, but rolling my eyes is better for my stress level. I remind myself that lots of fat people are really healthy. Health at Every Size is all about people at all sizes having access to activities that are good for your health. And that is an inconvenient truth for magazines that rely on fear of weight gain in order to sell copies.

I know that choosing to go to the gym is all about me loving my body and not about me losing weight in order to love my body, a complexity that seems contradictory but is actually not at all to me. I worked really hard to make peace with that.

I also know that people who are fat and don’t choose to go to the gym or restrict their eating are totally worthy of love, too! There is no “good” or “bad” way to have a body, it’s just a body!

16076930595_5d2229e69f_zMe and my fat friend Santa just hanging out on a porch in front of the Christmas buffet. I actually found the buffet meals to be full of food options for lots of dietary restrictions. In addition to a mac and cheese station.

4. Replace should with could

This is a wonderful strategy for treating yourself with kindness. I used to be the kind of person whose resting thoughts were always on the ways in which I needed to improve myself. “I should learn Spanish. I should eat better. I should be working on my book. I should get back into working on neurolinguistic programming.” That’s an actual transcript of my inner self abuser that I just tapped into. I can go DEEP into self-shaming with shoulds.

Because I’m still a work in progress and I believe language is so powerful, I have been working for about a year on replacing my shoulds with coulds. “I could learn Spanish. I could be working on my book…” It’s so much gentler. This constant New Year’s chatter of all the ways you should change keeps reminding me of the ways I want to change. But instead of hearing “You should go to the gym” I am hearing, “I could go to the gym.” I am hearing, “I could organize my room.”

5. Every BODY is different

Dr. Phil is full of complexities and I don’t love all of his messages, but he said one thing that really hit home for me when I was early in my fat activist days. I was in a place of “I’ll eat a cupcake whenever I want” as a way to express fat rage. (That’s still a totally valid place to be, of course, but I like to be strategic about my fuck yous and eating a cupcake more than once in awhile will cause me a lot of pain so I don’t.)

Dr. Phil said something on his show specifically about sweet tea that I haven’t ever forgotten. It’s that, basically, all bodies are different and he drinks a glass of sweet tea and gains weight and lots of folks drink a glass of sweet tea and stay thin.

His point was that he had no control over the type of body he has and he had to accept it. And that’s just kind of how things are. Like, it feels really shitty that I got this amazing huge gift basket from a professional colleague for the holidays and pretty much everything in it, wine, crackers, pretzels, caramel corn, hot cocoa, is all food that will make me sick. That fucking sucks. But I’m at a place where I am choosing to accept and love myself for who I am and that means cherishing the complex body I was given.

And I would love to eat a fuck you mass media cupcake, and I probably will eventually. But in the meantime I’m going to accept my body and do the work it needs to do to feel good, so that I can do the work I want to be doing in the world to change it. To create media that helps people feel good in the bodies they have and become the people they want to become by cheering them on instead of shaming them.

15890219499_633f4fb47f_zHow about a fuck you 25 pound apple pie from Dollywood?

Do you have additional ways you choose to shake off the body oppressive media this time of year and/or manage to strike a balance with your own personal wellness goals?

2014-02-20

Five Things I do Every Winter to Avoid Seasonal Depression

This post is part of my mini-blog series about self care. Click this self care week tag to read all the posts!

When I was a teenager living in sunny Northern California I completely resented the sunlight for being so cheerful. I was a surly, depressed and unhappy teenager who had been relentlessly bullied in my childhood and middle school years. I think it was to be expected.

11534524226_e726da4816_oThis is the present-day backyard at my mom’s house. My teenage bedroom window is on the right. It’s waaaaaay nicer in the backyard than it was 20 years ago. When I was home for Christmas I spent each morning of my 2 day stay in the hot tub.

What I didn’t realize that upbringing was doing to me was making me unsuited to any other climate. The first few years I was living on the East Coast I wasn’t really in touch with myself and my emotional well-being to understand that what was happening to me in February and March was seasonal depression, but as I’ve learned more about it and developed coping strategies I actually can see when it creeps up and I know how to stave it off.

Seasonal depression is about lack of sunlight. I am a creature who comes alive in the sun, even though I used to resent it so much and I can get wickedly sunburnt. But I sincerely appreciate it and definitely need it for my own well-being.

I was hanging out with someone who was so delighted by the warmish, bright day we had on Monday that she pumped up the heat in her apartment, threw open her window and laid down in the sunbeam. Naked. (The UV rays won’t penetrate glass so you need the exposure to the direct light.) I thought that was the most delicious way I’d heard to combat seasonal affective disorder.

12663409293_09c60c005a_z When I was visiting my mom for Christmas we went on a hike at Point Reyes for my birthday (which is Christmas Eve).

I thought it would be helpful to share my Winter regimen, which has five main components:

1. UV Therapy Light–I use a UV lamp (aka “Happy Lamp”) every single day for at least 15 minutes but usually 30. I flick it on first thing in the morning when I do my journaling and I sit right next to it. If I’m not journaling I’ll read or sit on my computer. It really works. The one I have now was a hand me down from a friend and I’m thinking of getting a travel one because mine is kind of big and hard to move around. I start my UV light work in late November and lasts until it feels like Spring is really happening. Here’s a version from Amazon that looks handy and small.

I also know some folks who go tanning (the bed kind, not the spray kind) and have said it is mood altering, but of course there is the skin cancer risk…

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2. Vitamin D–I start taking a Vitamin D supplement in October. Just one additional pill on top of my multi-vitamin.

3. Walking–I walk for 20 minutes every day and I try for that walk to be around noon when the sun is at it’s highest. Even in the snow. I try to do this all year long but I have a heavy emphasis on this in the Winter months. I have a dog so that really acts as an impetus to walking.

4. Exercise–I exercise year round as a way to assist my mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. It’s the best thing I can do to take care of myself and in the Winter ideally I go to the gym three times a week. In October my gym buddy Avory and I were talking about upping our gym regimen because “Winter is coming…”

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5. Keep the blinds open. Part of my morning ritual is opening the curtains up in my room. I’m on the second floor, which is great for birdwatching but not so great for light, but those little bits of sunlight that occasionally peek through are important to me and it reminds me that there is a world turning outside and it’s not perpetual darkness.

I hope these help. It’s not too little too late, when I find myself off the bandwagon within a couple of weeks I can feel the effects of my seasonal depression strategies at work again.

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