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

2015-11-25

How I Use A Positive Outlook as an Activist to Cope When the World Seems Terrible

Yesterday my therapist said something pretty surprising to me. “I saw this Barbara Walters special with Donald Trump. I can’t believe she would give him that level of publicity, and I am so sad that he is going to win the presidency.”

My therapist is a pretty positive person and generally very supportive of my positive outlook on life, so her certainty of the fate of a Trump presidency was shocking to me.

That sentiment, that resigned idea that the world is a terrible place, is hard to avoid right now. It’s hard to stay resilient against that idea. The terror attacks on Paris and Beirut. The media and social portrayal of support for Paris but ignoring Beirut, reminding us how the media devalues brown bodies.

The fact that Obama wants to let in only 10,000 Syrian refugees (and the amount of displaced Syrians is in the millions). Yet the House voting to block Syrian refugees even though refugees in the US are vetted for years and it would be extremely difficult to actually get away with terrorism as a refugee in this country.

The last few weeks have been jarring with the amount of hatred, fear, lack of humanity that is making the news. But at the same time, we’re in a time of deep unrest and outrage. I think it’s tantamount to the sentiment that you have to see the dirt in order to clean your house. I think we’re seeing the dirt.

My world view is not for everyone. If anyone out there would rather give up, see the world as a terrible place and resign themselves to the Trump presidency and live in fear, I think that is totally fine. But for me, I need to stay positive to stay alive, and I’m going to stay alive, so I can keep encouraging people to love themselves.

My therapist talked about moving to Canada. I remember many folks talked about moving North when George W. Bush was running for president and I don’t know that many people who actually did.

But that’s not my ethic. I’m not going to run away. I’m going to stay put, stay present, stay outraged and stay loving. I am going to believe for the best in people, I am going to believe that Trump will not win the presidency, and I am going to believe in the inherent good of the world so long as people like me stay compassionate and positive. And, let’s be honest, being president is a lot of work and I don’t actually believe he’s interested in doing the work.

Tomorrow in the US we celebrate Thanksgiving. Last night I was trying to think of ways to acknowledge at the meal I will be attending that the holiday ignores the mass genocide of the Native Americans with whom White settlers were supposed to be making peace, while still being socially appropriate. I think that comes from maybe leading a grace that names it, honoring those who died outrageous and unfair deaths, the legacy of colonialism that continues to affect Native Americans and other POC in this country. It comes from feeling genuine gratitude for what we have, and vowing to use what we have to uplift people affected by that legacy.

I leave this with a quote from Grace Lee Boggs, an incredible activist who lived to be 100 years old and passed away on October 5, 2015. Her tenacity and positive outlook resonates with me, and inspires me to continue to use my belief that we can continue to do better and do our work on an individual level to affect the higher good. (I highly recommend renting the documentary about her life and work, American Revolutionary: The Evolution Of Grace Lee Boggs.)

gracel-lee-boggs_robin_hollandPhoto of Grace Lee Boggs by Robin Holland.

“Love isn’t just something you feel. It’s something you do every day when you go out and pick up the papers and bottles scattered the night before on the corner, when you stop and talk to a neighbor, when you argue passionately for what you believe in with whoever will listen, when you call a friend to see how they’re doing, when you write a letter to the newspaper, when you give a speech and give ’em hell, when you never stop believing that we can all be more than we are. In other words, Love isn’t about what we did yesterday; it’s about what we do today tomorrow and the day after.” – Grace Lee Boggs, The Next American Revolution

2013-11-22

Thanksgiving Day Body Support

I have a few big triggers in my life and one of them is holiday events as a single person. (In fact, I realized when writing this post I’ve written about being single and child-free at the holidays several times, here, here and here.) Holidays are so loaded! It’s like here’s another time of year where you’re supposed to have a partner and that triggers all my feelings of not having this relationship I want. Plus all of the seeing family of origin stuff or not seeing family of origin and how isolating and hard it can feel at either end.

It’s hard to have a body at any old time of the year but especially given the trigger fest of eating and family and large meals and seeing people for the first time in a long time.

I was asked by Melissa A. Fabello of Everyday Feminism to be part of a Body Activist conglomerate on Twitter to provide support through a hash tag all day and evening on Thanksgiving!

I’ll be posting from the intersectionality of my work–about learning to love your body, being queer in the world, gender, and developing authenticity around family of origin.

All the information is below! Please signal boost!

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From the release:

#THX4SUPPORT: A Twitter-Based Recovery Support Event

Thanksgiving is coming. And while for many of us, that means the excitement of friends, family, and food, for many others, Thanksgiving comes with it a lot of stress, fear, and anxiety.

But you’re not alone.

And this Thanksgiving, we want to make sure that you get the support, resources, and community that you need.

This Thanksgiving, use the hash tag #thx4support on Twitter to:

Reach our team of eating disorder, recovery, and body image activists for one-on-one support or inspiration

Find awesome articles, videos, and resources being tweeted out by organizations and activists

Make new friends by finding people across the country struggling with the same issues. Start a support network!

The following people will be on hand to talk you through any feelings of negativity that you experience:

Melissa A Fabello, Body Image Activist: @fyeahmfabello
Wagatwe Wanjuki, Writer and Activist: @wagatewe
Arielle Lee Bair, Recovery Blogger: @arielleleebair
Kat Lazo, Media Literacy Advocate: @theekatsmeoww
Matt Wetsel, Survivor Turned Activist: @tiledsarenomore
Bevin Branlandingham, Body Liberation Activist: @queerfatfemme
Use the hash tag #thx4support or tweet us directly.

Are you an organization who wants in on the action?
Use #thx4support to tweet out related articles and resources!
Let your followers know that this support is available. Share this graphic!
If you have capacity, join in on giving support to people using the hash tag.

And what can individuals do?
Follow #thx4support and send inspiration to those in need!
Tweet out your favorite resources using #thx4support.
Let us know what kinds of ideas and questions you have by tweeting us!
Because we believe that recovery is possible. And we know that support can help.

—-

Struggling? The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) can help. Call toll-free 1.800.931.2237.

2009-11-25

Single in Sharp Relief

Thanksgiving is a really hard time of year for me. It is one of those holidays that puts into sharp relief how very single I am. I am happy with my life, I am making my life into the kind of life I want to be living and am extremely grateful that I’m not in an unhappy, unsatisfying and sad lesbian foot warming* kind of relationship.

However, when you were in a relationship (or 2 back to back relationships, in my case) where you were creating a family… Thanksgiving is just one of those family holidays where you feel extra weird when your day to day family doesn’t involve other people.

Just like Bad Fat Days, which happen to all fat activists and body loving fat people, being Single in Sharp Relief can be jarring even for the most ardently happy single person. But we already have all the coping mechanisms we need to get through it, just like Bad Fat Days.

The first thing I like to do is to be really grateful for the opportunities I have because I’m single. Thanksgiving is obviously an appropriate time of year for that, though I do a gratitude practice year round. Historically troublesome as it is, it is nice that Thanksgiving is a time when all the folks in the US are reminded to be grateful for what we have.**

*Holidays can be really stressful for couples and I get to enjoy the holidays in whatever way I decide to do them.
*I have a lot of self-reflection time.
*I get to think more critically about what I want out of my life and where I am going without worrying about compromise.
*I get to decide where I go on a Friday night without worrying about compromise.
*I get to flirt with any other single folks wherever I go.
*I get to save money or spend it on myself when I have it, rather than lots of money spent on couple gifts/activities.
*I don’t have to worry about the stresses of dealing with my partner’s people or family.
*I get to focus 100% on my family of choice and origin.
*I can have the high priority of travel without worrying about my partner not being able to come along or making those compromises.

Of course, that’s not to say I wouldn’t love to have a special someone in my life–I am a serious nester and do enjoy making the magic of a relationship. But I think the more you get involved in creating the magic of your single life you take a more critical eye to constructing a relationship that brings out the best in both of you, instead of defaulting to compulsory couplehood. Believe me, I was in two back to back partnerships for 5 years and both were big giant lesbian plunge situations. Nothing carefully constructed.

My BFF Rachael actually pointed out to me recently when I was talking about bad dates making you jaded that being jaded can be a good thing. “It makes your expectations for people’s behavior higher, which is good because you want to have a critical eye towards giving away your affections.”

So, in the meantime, it is nice to be in a place where I am excited about singlehood and focusing on the positive, even in the face of the Thanksgiving single stress.

As far as holiday plans I am in a unique place because my immediate family is very small (just my mom) and my extended family is scattered and only about medium size. I have spent my fair share of Thanksgivings and other holidays being another family’s 5th wheel or sidecar with my mom. Now I am a total free agent when it comes to compulsory holidays. Because it costs so much to travel and I always have had some sort of employment that requires my attention around the holidays, I’ve only been back home to the Bay Area for Christmas once in the last 7 years.

Being a free agent for the holidays is really exciting because I can figure out what I want to do and have creative community gatherings. This year I am really excited to share a Thanksgiving table with some of my favorite Brooklyn artists and have a turkey served from the glorious hands of Sarah Jenny wearing a vintage apron.

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L-R: Damien, Bryn, me and Sarah Jenny at the Original Plumbing release party in Brooklyn about a month ago. I should finish my review of the magazine.

*See Episode 6 of FemmeCast to learn about that phenomenon.

**Sometimes when you’re so stuck in your personal pity party, you need to reach out to your friends to help out. Big love to Kentucky Fried Woman and Ally for their help with this entry and reminding me why I am glad to be single even during Thanksgiving!

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