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Fairytale F*ckery – Workshop Full

Workshop via Zoom
with Brandelyn &
Leah Blooms
Sat. May 22, 11am-1pm Pac

  • Brain chemicals and body reactions
  • Repeating family trauma and matching trauma styles
  • Why love at first sight is bullshit
  • Cultural brainwashing
  • Understand your “In Love” reactions and learn how to be the boss of your brain, even when you’re being swept off your feet!

Brandelyn (she/her) is a queer femme passionate about relationship-building, especially as it relates to understanding each of our own blind spots. She works in academic medicine ensuring that patient experiences are central in program and policy development. A certified trainer in Crucial Conversations®, part of Brandelyn’s work includes training staff and providers on navigating challenging situations that include intersections of fear and bias. She is a frequent presenter and has published work on the topics of including patient voices in research and rebuilding trust with patients following medical error.

Leah (he/they/she) is a mentor, writer, and artist who is passionate about learning, sharing, and empowering others to live their best lives. Their mentoring focuses on intimacy, mental health, gender, sex, and practical self-care. He helps clients understand where these major components of life converge and how responses to them impact our ability to be successful. Leah uses a variety of healing modalities in their mentoring practice including reiki, practical self-care/self-discovery, kink, mind/body connection, craniosacral, emotional processing, and aromatherapy.

Coming Up!

Relationship Check-In Workshop
~Foundations of a healthy relationship
~Figuring out the ways you’d like to show up
~What to look for in potential partners
~How regular check-ins can make your relationship closer, deeper, stronger, and healthier
~Compare different check-in templates with an intimate look at how my partner, Brandelyn, and I created ours and how it evolved during the pandemic

Untangle the Clusterf*ck Workshop
~Know when you’re triggered
~Steps to deescalate
~Get some objectivity
~Identify your core beliefs
~Change your behavior

Chrononormativity

Chrononormativity: The term ‘chrononormativity’ refers to the way in which our experiences follow patterns over time in conformity with normative frameworks, the use of time to organize individual human bodies toward maximum productivity. Found in, Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories by Elizabeth Freeman.

Theory 1, Part 2 “I can decide to simply be who I am (remove pretense and fakery) and learn to believe that I am Good.”
Overlay: Chrononormativity

The algorithm we’re looking at is: Debt Free, Steady Income > Arbitrary Undefined* Number = Good, Happy Adult, Deserves a Partner

*Undefined because I never took the time to figure out how much money I’d need to make to feel like a “good” adult.

To find out where an overlay like “chrononormativity” would go, we look at the first part – “Debt Free, Steady Income.” How does one achieve being debt free and have a steady income? How does a person know how to do that?

Chrononormativity is simply the chronological expectations we have on the average human in our particular society. It changes depending on where we grow up based on our cultural frameworks, including our family.

An example of chrononormativity is a kid growing up as a member of the Mormon (LDS) community would be expected to either go on a mission at the age of 18/19 or get married and start a family. And once married, you’re expected to have a lot of kids aged about 2 years apart. Everyone in the Mormon church, no matter where they live, is expected to get married young and have lots of kids. 

In the United States we expect and have systems set up to get teens a driver’s license around age 16. It’s “normal” for us all to become drivers. If you look at milestone birthdays, it’s the same thing. There are expectations around age built into everything. 

What happens if you aren’t “normal?” Your culture will try to get you in line. The society around you will try to “help” you by getting you back in line with “normal.” It’s meant as kindness, because in your culture, you’re missing important things that make you normal, and that’s what you want to be, right? Your friend’s parents won’t even check in with your parents. They know what the rules are for you at your house. “Your mom would be so ashamed of you right now. She raised you better than that.” Your peers will start asking questions. “You aren’t married yet?” “When will you be having your next baby?” “You don’t drive? How weird.”

Many times, maybe even most of the time, parents put pressure on their kids to conform because they worry about them being bullied and their future success. It’s fair, as a parent, to worry about your kids and their likability by their peers and society. How cool would it be, though, if instead parents instilled in their kids that it doesn’t matter how they are perceived and instead to be true to themselves, that there is room in this world for everyone? Built them up with other strategies for success? Because keeping every next generation in line just keeps perpetuating the same issues. 

Inside those questions above, it’s the meaning we’ve assigned to those experiences that hold the shaming and judgement and guilt. And, as a parent in these cultures, it reflects back on you if your kids aren’t “normal.” 

“You aren’t married yet?” = “What’s wrong with you? Isn’t God blessing you to find your mate? Didn’t your parents teach you right?” 

“When will you be having your next baby?” = “Don’t you want to be righteous and bring down all the spirits from heaven like we’ve been instructed to do by God?” 

“You don’t drive? How weird.” = “Don’t you want to be a grown-up?

“You didn’t go to college?” = “You must not be very smart or dedicated and now you’re never going to succeed at life. How sad for your parents.

“You’re single and graduated from college?” = “You’re a female and you should have been married and started having kids by now. You’re not righteous.

There are literally hundreds, maybe thousands, of chrononormative assumptions from your childhood that you might not even realize exist, that came from your family and your community. 

So. For me as a queer person, the stakes get a little higher. In a conversation with my friend, Genevieve, the other day, we talked about how being a queer person in a community where it’s not accepted exacerbates the shame around chrononormativity. You’re forced into hitting benchmarks to express “normal” to fit in, for yourself and how your parents might be perceived, even though some of those benchmarks are things you might never choose to do. You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. 

Back to the equation we’re working on: 

Debt Free, Steady Income > Arbitrary Undefined* Number = Good, Happy Adult, Deserves a Partner

becomes

Debt Free, Steady Income (chrononormativity) > Arbitrary Undefined* Number = Good, Happy Adult, Deserves a Partner [where we solve to find out how the overlay of chrononormativity affected my ability to understand how to be debt free and have a steady income]. 

Once we explore the ways chrononormativity affected things, we could swap out other overlays (American self-sufficiency theories, a “woman’s place,” religious culture, family stories, and childhood trauma etc.). 

Form and Process

Let’s talk about form and process for a minute, because so much of how I make sense of all of these ideas is by putting them into formulas, equations, algorithms, and theories. What are all of those terms and what do I mean when I use them?

Theory: a system of ideas to explain something 
Formula: a list of ingredients to get an outcome
Equation: the process of equating one thing with another
Algorithm: a process or set of rules to be followed to problem-solve

Before any of that happens, we need to know the problem, the facts aka the Observable Behavior, or what is factually happening. It’s what we’re solving for, and many times that “problem” changes and evolves when we go deeper and deeper. 

Here’s an example of the process I use. You’ll notice that things are fluid and keep changing. 

Observable Behavior: I eat a lot of sugary foods even when I try not to.

Theory: I crave sugar. Sugar tastes good and I’m weak and can’t say no.

Equation: if I don’t get to eat sugar I feel alone and sad (Eating Sugar = No Sadness)

Theory: my body is trying to protect me from sadness and grief. Even though I logically don’t want to eat too much sugar, my body and brain will override that to protect me.

Curiosity: What specifically is my body trying to protect me from feeling?

Formula: Next time I observe myself mindlessly eating something sugary, I will stop eating the food, sit still, and ask myself, “What am I (not)feeling in this moment and where am I (not)feeling it in my body?”

Theory: I have fear around X

Theory: If I change my belief around X and create a new truth, I can change my behavior and my body won’t have to protect me anymore by prompting me to eat sugar. 

Algorithm: Create New Belief (Afformation) + write and place it where I will see it when reaching for sugar + stop and feel my feelings + insert new behavior = significant drop in sugar intake

Observable Behavior: I repeat my new process, even in initial discomfort, and eat less sugar without feeling sadness around X. 

X, of course, is the wild card here and can take quite some time to solve for. There can also be many Xs that inform a single Observable Behavior. 

Additionally, some of these steps come with a lot of intense emotional processing that isn’t represented in the formulas etc. and vary from person to person.

Questions From My Inbox

What is a replicable algorithm?” An algorithm is simply a tool to understand how to solve a problem. A replicable one can be used over and over to keep solving problems so you don’t have to start at square one.

I barely passed pre-algebra and never took anything above that in high school, and in college I took only creative electives. Beyond enjoying a bit of geometry, because I’m a shape/container lover, my experience with maths in school has been colored by my family culture, my trauma-based childhood, and my ability to skate by in some areas of life, i.e not having to do my homework or coursework and still passing a class. 

My understanding of equations, formulas, and algorithms comes from one of my many adult lifetimes where I did front-end web design and back-end database work for about a decade. I might not have understood algebra in high school, but I learned some HTML, PHP, and bits of other languages that all work together to make websites function and look right. Much to my surprise, I found my brain did understand theoretically how maths function and that my lack of knowledge in this area was due to the things listed above and not my ability. 

In the last decade, working in the healing arts, my role has been to help clients identify areas where they are stuck in their development and come up with formulas to move forward. Most people have pretty simple formulas with complicated and unique overlays that inform how their brain has made sense of their personal traumas. 

Literally everything your brain does to compensate and make sense of your personal traumas is to keep you functioning and save your life. We often don’t think of our quirks, “bad” habits, and addictions as simply primal survival instincts, but that’s what they are. And once we see how our systems function, we can come up with algorithms that can be used again and again to promote healing. 

Researching and writing my book, Heal Something Good, helped me process and connect how the major components that make us Us go together – Mind/Body connection, Emotional/Spiritual selves, and Energy. Having that foundational chunk of understanding helps when trying to figure out what a specific client’s system has constructed for survival.  

Bringing things into the maths area makes doing this work super practical, which counterbalances the naturally high and dramatic flow inherent in emotional processing. We need to fully explore and feel our emotions to process them and move them out. And we need to be able to pull back and see the issues from a very practical viewpoint to be able to get a sense of the larger picture, plan our routes, and successfully navigate to move on. 

“Why should I care about this?” You might not, and I’m not here to “should” you about that. We’ve all got stuff that matters to us and spend our time accordingly. I can share a couple of reasons why you might *want* to care about this, but given that our internal work, once started, can be filled with tectonic shifts in our internal landscape, which often feels like upheaval and is rarely comfortable while you’re walking the path, I’d say that if you aren’t feeling compelled to learn more and dive in, this might not be your personal moment. 

Perhaps you know someone who might be standing on the precipice, looking down into the void curiously, and wishing they had a guide. If so, I’d appreciate if you passed my info to them. Word of mouth is how I connect with most of my community.

Hey, Hi, Hello

I’m looking at different ways to feel connection and support. I had planned to travel and hold workshops around the country for 2019/2020. But then the whole world changed, didn’t it? It seemed like everything changed suddenly and without warning. It also feels like things haven’t changed fast enough.

I’m researching theories and creating replicable algorithms that promote health and healing and I want to talk about it with everyone. Things like, “can you harness the placebo affect or does it only work if you don’t know which pill is real,” and, “can you teach your brain to let down essential feel-good chemicals without doing self-harming behaviors,” and, “can you actually change habits you consider harmful into healthy?” I’m also interested in the use of art, writing, and creating to process emotions.  

One of my first theories is:I can decide to simply be who I am (remove pretense and fakery) and learn to believe that I am good.

I rolled up to my partner, Brandelyn’s, home just as the world closed in March. What was meant to be a visit and a spring-board into finding my own place in the area, setting up shop at a wellness center somewhere, and then probably, eventually, moving in together at some point in the future a year or so down the road, became my new home and place of business.

One hefty hangup I had about moving in with a partner was a belief I held around money and worth and what it means to be an adult. Living a nomadic lifestyle for several years hasn’t promoted a regular 9-5 job with a steady income, health insurance, and no debt. On the contrary, I intentionally used credit to survive and pay bills while traveling. I have a car with what many people would consider a small loan amount and minimal monthly payments, a cell phone, and a small storage unit that holds the things both too mundane and too precious to give up while traveling. I live simply and intentionally, but I travel, and that has come at the cost of accruing debt. My privileges in this area include but are not limited to: white skin, native English speaker, a good credit score with the ability to get credit and loans, an understanding and helpful ex-husband, adult kids who would support me in an emergency, and a network of friends who support my efforts. 

When I view my life through the lens of “Have I made good choices,” or, “Am I a good person,” I get different answers depending on if I’m putting up the overlay of, “What it means to be an adult,” and/or “Am I living a life that makes me happy?

Those simple algorithms look like this: 

Debt Free, Steady Income > Arbitrary Undefined* Number = Good, Happy Adult; Deserves a Partner

Creative Endeavors I Enjoy > Undefined Reasonable** Debt = Living A Happy Life

*“Undefined” because I never took the time to figure out how much money I’d need to make to feel like a “good” adult.

**“Reasonable” is so tricky because it relies on so many ever-changing factors that happen on the fly. You can be completely happy one moment and chagrined the next if a tire blows out on the road or some other unexpected expense arrises. 

Suffice it to say, while being able to say I was happy with my life choices, I was not able to say I was Partner-Material based on my income and debts, which sent me into a tailspin of feeling unworthy of love. I knew I wasn’t “sorry” I lived my life nomadically, so I couldn’t figure out why I felt like my worth was tied to income. 

I decided to research my beliefs and motivations around money+worth, which included delving into: American self-sufficiency theories, a “woman’s place,” religious culture, family stories, and childhood trauma.

That changes the algorithms above to more complex problems, which I’m still writing and solving. I’ll be sharing my work with the class. 


We’re living in a world full of triggered people, me and you included. All our primal fears around “safety” and “needs being met” are on high alert. It is our natural instinct to round up the wagons, protect our families from outsiders, and survive by any means possible.

Isn’t it amazing, then, that so many folks are finding ways to support others outside of their comfort zone during this tumultuous time? How do you plan to keep it going? 

Essay – The Power of Wearing What You Want, Shondaland

My piece about embracing my gender is up on Shondaland:

She grew up wearing girly clothes to fit in with her family. Years later, she cut off her hair and dressed in masculine clothes, embracing her true gender identity.

“When I was little, I learned that pretending was a skill I should cultivate. I pretended because I came from an abusive household. As long as we looked perfect, sitting in a church pew all in a row — girls with curled hair wearing modest, fluffy dresses and boys in their white button-ups with ties tight around collars — all pretending to pay attention, we wouldn’t get a pinch from mom or a thump from dad.”

Workshop Signup!

Daily Ritual Creation + Self-Tying as Self-Care
Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) Activation Workshop

Build a daily ritual that creates space for healing and processing. Help yourself heal and learn to relax by embracing the built-in self-care system your body came with + learn and practice rope self-tie.

Limited space! Rope included.
Please bring a yoga mat or thick towel to sit on and a journal + pen.
– – – – – – – –

THANK YOU

What an honor to share space, time, and energy with you all!

San Diego, CA
Portland, OR
Oakland, CA
Los Angeles, CA

You were the best. xoxo

Pulp Mag – Being The Feast

And I think I’ve been content to let it go, not think about it too hard, and not let myself want too much or care too deeply that the feelings of disgust and vileness about my body persist. I turn the attention away from me and on to them. I make my partners feel beautiful and desirable because I experience them that way and don’t ask for that in return.

I can feel pleasure. I have lots of good sex. I’m good at achieving an orgasm now. Isn’t that enough?”

Read the full piece here: Being The Feast

Wing It

I found this little coffeeshop watercolor I did a few years ago and loved it all over again. It speaks to the part of me that feels like I have to have absolutely everything figured out before I do anything. Like, I’m supposed to know *how* to do everything *before* I actually learn how to do it or I’m a stupid failure. I made it into a T-shirt so I could wear it around to remind myself that I don’t have to know everything and that trying, failing, trying again is actually the secret code to learning and getting things right. 

There’s this show on Netlflix with Reese Witherspoon called Shine On where she talks to women who are awesome, and in one episode with Sarah Blakely, the founder of Spanx, Sarah says that her dad used to ask her at the dinner table what she’d failed at that day and been excited to hear about the things she’d tried. I mean…how cool is that, putting the focus on the effort and courage to try? It creates an environment where trying and failing is spectacular, instead of something to be ashamed of and hiding. 

What did you try and spectacularly fail at today? 

Podcast – League of Badass Women on Gender

Parts 1 & 2 of a podcast I did with Valerie Orth from League of Badass Women is live today. I get personal and talk about how instrumental Joe Crawford was in my process of coming out. <3

“In this week’s episode I continue speaking with health and wellness writer and mentor, and serious badass, Leah Roberts Peterson, on how society instills us with certain perceptions of gender—and what it would be like to one day live in a post-gendered world.

If you haven’t listened to Episode 12 yet, I recommend starting there. All League of Badass Women episodes are short (under 20 minutes), meant to be able to listen to on, for example, your commute.

So take a brief break from the chaotic world and take in some badassery to make your day a little brighter 🌞

You can listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or Soundcloud.”