"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Saturday 30 December 2017

Dare Greatly

This is that time when many make resolutions for the new year. From the small personal survey taken over six decades, I can boldly say that I am the only person I know to have kept that promise to myself. Made while in my twenties, I vowed to never make another new year's resolution.

If I was, in fact, going to break that vow now, it would likely be to promise to be bold - to have as many adventures as possible.  

Last year, as in the forty or so before, I made no resolution, but if I look over the year and search for a theme it is one of, in Brené Brown's words, daring greatly. 

2017 was a year of highs and lows.  I wouldn't change a thing. 

All the best to my readers everywhere. 
May 2018 be a year of love, risk, and reward. 

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. 
Because if you are making mistakes, 
then you are making new things, 
trying new things, 
learning, living, pushing yourself,           
changing yourself, changing your world.

You're doing things you've never done before, 
and more importantly, 
you're doing something

Neil Gaiman

Saturday 16 December 2017

Community ~ Trans and Beyond

When this blog started, and for a decade before that, my address might as well have read "Middle of Nowhere, Ontario". It took two hours and some to get to Toronto and an hour to get to a centre of any size. 

The beauty of that area more than compensated for the remoteness, except when it came to getting to know others in the transgender community. Geographical isolation and my spouse's initial fear of exposure made it necessary to hide who I was. I couldn't even go to a local therapist for fear that word might leak out.

Thanks to this blog I've had quite a few friends - trans and otherwise - who know I am a woman. For so very long I was never able to be in the same room with them.

It was only in the past three years that all of that changed, partly thanks to Cassidy. She introduced me to a friend of hers who lived close enough to visit. We were instant friends and now we are like family. We see one another as often as possible; she was one of two family who were there for me in the days after surgery in September.

Living as myself has allowed me to visit with some of those whom I met online in the past seven years. I'm looking forward to carrying that tradition on, too. (See you early in the new year, Joanna.)

This past year has seen tumult and so much change. The person I called sweetie for four decades and I are divorced. I moved from the community where we had lived together to help her move on. There are many there whom I will continue to see from time to time; they are my friends, not because or in spite of my transition. They are friends, full stop.

In my new community I am not in hiding, but neither am I broadcasting my history. It seems silly to worry that someone might think my hair isn't quite right (it isn't) or my voice is a bit masculine (it is) or that I might be trans. It has been my experience that when we get to know one another, these things matter so little. There are so many things that define who we are and whether we are worth getting to know. 

Sometimes I cannot believe how many second chances I have been given and not just to live as myself. I am married again. My partner and I knew each other as children and loved one another as teens and were good friends as young adults. We are wife and wife now, reunited after half a lifetime away from one another. We are comfortably active and are making new friends together here. Life is good.

Best wishes to all for a peaceful holiday season. 
Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas. 

p.s. As it happened, Joanna and I met before the new year, and had a great time together.

Sunday 15 October 2017

Be Here, Now

Some time back, I found the clock that is at the very bottom of the page here. It tickled my fancy and I put it there to see if anyone might comment. A question from an online friend has prompted me to think about how important being in the moment has become for me. 

It seems to me that modern life actually conspires against living in the moment. We are dragged into the past by ever-present music. We are pushed into considering a foggy future by commercialism that wants us to be dissatisfied by what we "have" and purchase some product that promises to make that future oh-so-much-better. News programming sends us all over the world, vicariously living the tragedies of others. As if our own lives didn't have enough drama, television brings us more along with all sorts of fantasy, and worst of all for me, violence. 

Against all of these and other ever-present distractions, I struggle to bring myself back into the moment. The catch phrase these days is mindfulness. I went looking on the 'net and found a site that has some very gentle ideas to help one stay in the moment: 

1 Observe the present moment as it is. The aim of mindfulness is not quieting the mind, or attempting to achieve a state of eternal calm. The goal is simple: we’re aiming to pay attention to the present moment, without judgement. Easier said than done, we know.

2 Let your judgments roll by. When we notice judgements arise during our practice, we can make a mental note of them, and let them pass.

3 Return to observing the present moment as it is. Our minds often get carried away in thought. That’s why mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the present moment.

4 Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back

That friendly question I mentioned was something like "Now that you are no longer concerned with your gender, what is it that is motivating you?" I had to admit, with no shame at all, that I have no over-riding motivation behind anything I'm doing these days. 

Time to think about what we are going to have for lunch now. 

Monday 9 October 2017


As illustrated by the previous post, there is a certain distance now that is getting in the way of good (relevant and honest) communication here. One can only say what one knows. One can only use the tools that are at hand to say what one wishes to say.

There are words aplenty archived over the seven years so far on the subject of dysphoria and transition. There are stories of success that came through struggle and hard decisions. There are also hints of a spiritual development that defies religious expression. Without that, I wouldn't be here at all. The words I will likely add from here onward can only speak from the perspective of my here and now. I will never forget, but neither will I dwell in the past.

I won't change the title of the blog, because most of what is archived relates well to two spirits and the reality of that sort of life. If I could partition this blog, the part from now on would have to be labelled something like: Halle's Place. Dull but accurate.

I am the person who survived the internal struggle and can only speak my truth.

As well, one must face the question about technological relevance. Blogging is a medium that suits me well. Facebook would have been useless as a platform on this topic, as would Tweeting. Photos of my dinner, or the repairs to a musical instrument, or the latest score of a piece I'm working on are not things I choose to share with the world at large at any rate.

Is blogging or this blog in particular still relevant? I've no idea. I will say that this blog gets more "views" per day now than at any time, but fewer comments. More important to me personally, in the past two years the blog has generated zero new email contacts. I have friends (real ones who I break bread with) who I met because of this blog. I am so very grateful to know them.

I shall never stop examining my life and doing my best to make sense of it; that is what brought me this far. My true family is all around and we can talk any time you wish; ask (use "halle.randall08" at gmail dot com) and an email will come your way. Any new insights I get into some topics will have to come from revisiting them. I am most likely to do that in a conversation with you.

Love and be true to yourself.

Friday 6 October 2017

An Unexpected Visit in Dreamtime

Dreamtime isn't always so obvious; sometimes it feels as though I'm awake, but this time there was absolutely no doubt. A bitterly cold wind was blowing off Lake Ontario. Waves were crashing onto that beach of many childhood memories. There is no way I should have been there; too dismal a place for my current mood. And, yet, there I was strolling along in my boots, all wrapped up in woolies, watching the dark clouds scoot along overhead; nobody else in sight, until ...

The last time I'd had a dream about this place, it was to visit and talk to my childhood self. Because that was a dream and I had known it, I had projected myself as the woman inside to talk to that boy. Today, I was just me - now, as I look everyday. However, the person sitting on the beach was no boy, but a man. A rather rotund one actually; familiar as the male façade I'd projected to the world up to two years ago, but in much worse shape.

His hair was thinner, and unkempt (the wind wasn't helping of course), his clothing haphazard, and his eyes were almost glazed over as he stared out into that stormy horizon.

"D.....? What has happened? You look terrible!" I almost blurted this out because he really was a mess and I couldn't ever recall letting myself go this badly.

"What does it matter to you? Who are ... oh, no way!" The confusion in his face showed that he knew only too well who I was, but was shocked to think what that meant.

I had to know: "It is October 2017, right?" He looked a bit puzzled at this, and then the penny dropped for him.

"Yes, that's right, and you are an alternate me who has transitioned. Oh, ... my ... How can that be? There is no way I could make it work; it wouldn't work! What did you do?"

"What didn't you do is a better question! Didn't you go to the endocrinology appointment?"

"I decided that wasn't going to work, because there is no way I could have kept our marriage together if sweetie had thought I was going to transition."

It shocked me for a few seconds to recall the total, one-sided devotion that had been in force not that long ago. I was convinced that my job was to fix every problem in the world, and divorce had to be avoided at any cost, even if the price was my life or at least my sanity, if need be.

"I had to go to that appointment, because without the estrogen I would have given up on life. I would have been going through the motions and would have hated myself. I had to transition and nothing was going to stop me. You should know all of this!" I was almost yelling at him; so angry that he valued his own life so little and valued the lives of people who had no idea what we had gone through, so much. "Look what this has done to you!"

"Is womanhood so important, so wonderful? What price have you paid?" Clearly he was just as angry and disappointed in me, for his own reasons.

Suddenly my part in this dreamtime drama was clear. To have told the truth to this version of myself, who had sacrificed all to remain true to a lifetime built on selflessness, would be a terrible cruelty. What good would come for him to know of the life I am living; so fulfilled in ways that could never have been believed two years ago?

"Womanhood is wonderful, and it fits me so much better than the life you have preserved. I've paid a price for sure, but I don't regret anything that I had to do. You and I are different in some very important ways D..... , otherwise we wouldn't be having this conversation in this howling wind on this cool afternoon."

He pulled his jacket a bit tighter and looked more intently out at that churning water.

I continued: "You needed this dream for some reason though, and the only reason I can see for having me here is to tell you that it will never be too late to do what you deeply believe you should do. If that is to follow your present course, then that is exactly what you must do. If you see me and it somehow gives you insight into your own mortality, know this; it isn't too late. I wasn't the oldest person having surgery that day last month."

It was time to end this, before the gulf that separated us, emotionally, philosophically, and physically became even greater. Neither of us could imagine the other's existence but there we were. Truth be told, I don't want to know what happens to him, but as soon as I say that, I know that there are as many different paths he and she might take as there are for me in the future.

As that beach and its horrid weather evaporated into dream dust, it was a relief to realize that most of the challenges I face are nothing at all like his. I don't miss gender dysphoria a bit.

Sunday 1 October 2017

It Just Is ...

In the first year of this blog (2010! ... that long ago?) a woman who had transitioned a very long time before wrote in a comment: "I gotta tell you, being a woman ain't that special. It just is ..." At the time, I wasn't impressed by this comment, but having crossed over into womanhood myself (in fact the terms transexual and transwoman really do not apply at this point) I have some thoughts on what is special. 

First of all, some thoughts on rebirth. Readers of Cassidy's beautiful blog will already be aware that Cass and I both had the same surgeon two weeks apart: Dr. Brassard in Montréal. I think Cassidy will agree that everything about this operation (pardon the pun) is top notch. In my case, ten of us had GRS over a two-day period (including two transmen, by the way) and we had a chance to get to know one another as we took our first steps after surgery and then, step-by-step were brought to the point where it was safe to send us away from the cocoon. Those baby steps were taken at L'Asclépiade, just steps from the surgical building. Some do walk there on the second day after surgery. 

Asclépiade (or asclepias) is the milkweed plant, which nourishes the monarch butterfly. It is actually the only plant the monarch will lay eggs on. 

Having successfully passed through our pupation stage in Dr. Brassard's care, L'Asclépiade was exactly where we needed to be while testing our wings for the first time. Everyone who works there is ideally placed to support and encourage, whether they be nurses, cleaning staff or admin. A special mention to the kitchen staff, who prepared meals that tempted the most delicate palate. Love you all! 

So, here I am three weeks later, feeling about as womanly as I can possibly be (where in my purse did I put those extra pads?), and asking myself "what is so special about being a woman?" And the answer is nothing and everything

When one has spent a lifetime struggling to exist in a body (and the stereotypes that go with it) that run counter to every instinct you have, it is a very big deal to be done with it. I will repeat here, by the way, that nothing said here is meant to deny the wonderful things that I managed to accomplish, or the family I was part of while trying to seem male; I did everything possible to make that work for as long as I could. 

So being a woman is a very big deal because the struggle to seem to be what I wasn't is over. As healing progresses, it is increasingly clear that I can now simply get on with being

When it is time to get on with one's life, there is nothing special about being a woman. The label "female" will not define me now any more than "male" did. 

I have been given the gift of time to live my life in the best way possible ... one day at a time. 

Friday 8 September 2017


As I write this, I am doing something I really don't enjoy; sucking on a cough drop. I do it for a very practical reason. Coughing right now (and for the past three days) is really painful in a non-productive way. Let me explain.

On Tuesday, the good doctor and his surgical team did what they could to create a physical world for me that genetics could not. Using the material at hand and their extensive understanding of how the body works, they set me on a path. That is all they could do. 

I am now adrift in this new world. 

It is amazing how a Truth will turn on you if you are not careful.

It is not the world you see, but how you see the world that matters.

This world I am now in is one of new sensations and most of them are painful. They are improving. I could choose to view these only as a bad thing to be endured or something else much more useful and appropriate to my situation and the choices I've made. 

In a very real sense, there is a birth happening here. Birth, as we know, is wonderful and, at the same time, incredibly uncomfortable. 

A girlfriend my age texted me:  "How do you like being a girl now? Lol... Seriously.... hope you're not hurting too much."
And my reply to her:  "Did anyone ask you that moments after you gave birth?" Her reply was to laugh herself silly. 

This birth is happening in slow motion. I can tell that there are beautiful new parts of my body that I will soon have to care for religiously. This is what I have. This is what I want. Getting upset at the painful sensations is to miss the messages those body parts are sending. "I am here. I am alive and I'm letting you know I can feel things."

I am trying to avoid the kinds of pain that are repetitious and annoying (thus the cough drop ...). Of course, I am anxious to be done with this birthing process but, at the same time, I'm leaning into the pain so that I miss nothing. 

This is a miracle, after all.

Monday 28 August 2017

Who Are You?

There have been a lot of changes in my life over this past two years. Two years is significant because that is when physical transition truly started with a visit to an endocrinologist and a prescription for estrogen therapy. It was a year and a half ago that I came out to all friends and relatives. Since then, living as myself, one might think that all vestiges of the male façade might have left. A gradual process to be sure. 

One evening a few weeks ago my best buddy from high school days, whom I've kept in contact with for the fifty years or so since, phoned. We talked the same way we always have; as though we haven't been separated at all. He knows I'm still me. However, what came from within me came as a complete surprise. I was shocked to hear echoes of that persona who was his best friend, his very male friend for all those years, talking through me very, very briefly. It was the cadence of my voice from those days, not the pitch, but still I was taken by surprise. 

Coincidently, there was a reunion in person with that same friend along with some others this past week. In person, I found myself relating to him and another male friend very differently; still me, but definitely different. I felt tenderness toward them, if that makes any sense at all. 

On a very personal note, and I almost hesitate to post this; oh what the heck.... next week I shall be having some very long-overdue corrective surgery furthering that gradual process referred to above. No surgery is minor; there could be complications and to have any elective procedure without full appreciation of those risks is folly. 

In high hopes your hostess will be back to report a speedy recovery in a couple of weeks... 

Monday 29 May 2017

Handling the Pressure

I will start this post with a warning for all my transgender friends: do not put yourself in danger. Know your audience. Be safe and do what you need to do to stay that way. 

This post is a reflection on thriving in situations when others would be distracted and fearful. I am going to use analogies with sports and performance to think about living authentically. 

As regulars here will recall, I enjoy the game of golf - a lot. I used to watch golf on television for hours, but really the best part of golf for me is not watching somebody hit great, sometimes amazing shots. What impresses me has to do with the bigger picture. There are golfers who can dominate in competition. Pressure doesn't seem to phase them. When asked about how they do this, it is clear that their focus stays in the moment. One shot at a time. They aren't paying attention to what others are doing , or thinking about what others might think, or how important this next shot is. They know where the ball needs to end up. They have the skills to get it there. They are oblivious to everything else. 

Similarly, I love playing music. I look forward to performing in front of an audience; it really is the point of all that work after all. As with a sport like golf, one works very hard to develop the skills needed to be able to rely on your body to accomplish your goals. The big picture is the ability to rely on those; to trust them to be there, as you perform for others. I've been asked many times what my secret is. How does one stand in front of others and play, sing, or speak without seeming nervous? Mostly, it has to do with being as totally immersed in the details of the activity as possible. It seems to me that being nervous has mostly to do with two things: feeling unprepared, and letting your mind wander to thoughts of what might happen if ....  In other words, getting distracted. 

If you know you are going to be out in public doing something where others might pay attention to you, get as prepared as you can. Like the old joke says: "How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice."  Then trust yourself when it is time to head out into the public eye. Self doubt is the great destroyer, whether you are trying to play a sport, or play a sonata, or walk down the street as your authentic self for the very first time. 

Believe in yourself. Be confident. Stay in the moment. 

Tuesday 16 May 2017

Forgiveness ~ Acceptance

For what is a lifetime for many (certainly it was a lifetime for the male façade who was blogging here for so long), I looked to others for approval. I admit it as a problem drinker might at an AA meeting; I was a chronic fixer. Everyone else came first. Maybe it happened because, as a child, it seemed like the only way to make grownups stop being angry. I don't know for sure, but that is who I was. Some call it "a pleaser personality". Every day I remind myself that this is an issue and I must stay aware of it.

I looked for acceptance and when I wanted something for myself, it was alway vetted through that filter: Will this make others around me happy too? When things went wrong, I did the quintessentially Canadian thing and asked for forgiveness - I am sorry.

Two years ago, I already knew what I needed to do and who I needed to be, yet fear ruled my life. To be myself I would have to let others down - badly. Surprisingly, when I told the most important people in my life, my children, they told me straight out that they knew I would still be me, but happier and healthier. There was acceptance and no need for forgiveness. We were good. We are good. 

Fear still ruled my life because my wife of many decades was terrified and disgusted by the prospects for her future with me as a woman in public. I wanted her to be ok; I wanted her to come along happily on this journey. But when she told me I will hate you if you do this thing, I froze and thought maybe I could put the life that had to be off a bit longer.

Friends who found out what was going on gave mixed reactions running the gamut from immediate acceptance to outright rejection. But those who spoke to my wife in private told her how disgusting it was and how she should just "take me to the cleaners" and divorce me. They were certain that as a woman I would be ridiculed and so would she. Some suggested that it would be dangerous; some might react violently against a transexual in such a small community. How could I do this to her?

I didn't do anything to her. I forgave and accepted myself. If nobody else in the world would forgive or accept me, it really didn't matter. I had to give myself permission to be myself. Once that was done, everything else was relatively easy.

Because I accepted myself, I acted naturally and confidently around everyone. That put them at ease and made interactions go well. I was not a target in the community.

If you have to break away from a life of maladaptive behaviour, begin by forgiving yourself for all the things you have done to others. Then forgive yourself for what you have done to yourself.

Accept and love yourself as you have accepted and loved others in your life for so very long.

Saturday 25 March 2017

Not doing Nothing anymore

Facebook has been good to me, so I won't slam it. However, it can be very annoying sometimes with repetitious views of the same thing - over and over. 

Some months ago, someone who knows me very well sent a message with this quote: 

"Promise me you'll always remember that you're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

As beautiful as it is, somehow it didn't feel like A.A. Milne, but every search I did insisted that indeed it is - until today. Wanting to find out which of Milne's books it was from, I found this article that told me. The author of the article, Pat Morden, did some research and discovered that the words above were not authored by Milne at all, but by some uncredited writer, working for Disney. The illustration above is a Disney creation as well. Now, let's be really clear about something; I do not dislike Disney or the cartoons or the movies. However, as Pat puts it so well, "the Disney piece is ideal for Facebook—sentiment neatly tied up with a bow."

The illustration below (or decoration as it says in the book), is by Ernest H. Shepard and is from The House at Pooh Corner*. I find it equal to the heartfelt words Christopher Robin says to Pooh as he is saying goodbye at the end of the book:

"Then, suddenly again, Christopher Robin, who was still looking at the world, with his chin in his hands, called out “Pooh!
“Yes?” said Pooh. 
“When I'm - when -- Pooh!
“Yes, Christopher Robin?
“I’m not going to do Nothing any more.”
“Never again?”
“Well, not so much. They don’t let you.”
Pooh waited for him to go on, but he was silent again.
“Yes, Christopher Robin,” said Pooh helpfully.
“Pooh, when I’m – you know – when I’m not doing Nothing, will you come up here sometimes?”
“Just Me?”
“Yes, Pooh.”
“Will you be here too?”
“Yes Pooh, I will be, really. I promise I will be, Pooh.”
“That’s good,” said Pooh.
“Pooh, promise me you won’t forget about me, ever. Not even when I’m a hundred.”
Pooh thought for a little.
“How old shall I be then?”
Pooh nodded.
“I promise,” he said.
Still with his eyes on the world Christopher Robin put out a hand and felt for Pooh’s paw.
“Pooh,” said Christopher Robin earnestly, “if I – if I’m not quite – ” he stopped and tried again – “Pooh, whatever happens, you will understand, won’t you?”
“Understand what?”
“Oh, nothing.” He laughed and jumped to his feet. “Come on!”
“Where?” said Pooh.
“Anywhere,” said Christopher Robin.

So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing."

*Copyright, 1928, by E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc. 

Wednesday 8 March 2017

She Persisted

My imagination is excellent. I have loads of empathy. Can those admirable qualities over the years have allowed me to know what it means to be a woman in our world? Not a chance.

I watched with anger and frustration as my wife was pushed aside in her work so that a man, with less seniority, who didn't know the job or do the work as well as she did, could have it. "He has to have this job. He has a family to support." She eventually left that company after a year languishing in the typing pool. 

In my heart, I have always been a woman, and yes, I live as a woman. By law, I am a woman; my birth certificate, passport, and driver's license say so. But what do I know of the sorts of hurts and challenges that a woman has faced every day in the world? 

It is International Women's Day, 2017. Last month the drawing below by artist Courtney Privett came to my attention. This Huffington Post article gives the explanation of how she came to create it. The drawing is self-explanatory and its title, Nevertheless, she persisted, says so much about what it has meant to grow up female in our society. 

I will reproduce the content below so that those who speak a language other than English can see what she wanted her daughters to know of her own life. I also feel a compulsion to absorb all of them more fully. I have heard only a few of these sayings directed at me in the past year. 

"What war on reproductive rights?" ~ "Feminists are annoying" ~ "You'd be so pretty if you made an effort" ~ "Stay-at-home mom? Get a job" ~ "Frump" ~ "You're too old to dress like that" ~ "Why are you getting so emotional?" ~ "Your husband is totally whipped" ~ "He picks on you because he likes you" ~ "Working mom? You're neglecting your kids" ~ "You just haven't found the right man" ~ "You run like a girl" ~ "over-sensitive" ~ "You're wearing THAT?" ~ "That time of month, eh?" ~ "Girls can't do that" ~ "Why didn't you just leave him?" ~ " You're going gray. You ought to dye your hair" ~ "You're formula feeding? That's not good for the baby" ~ "Breast-feeding a toddler? Gross" ~ "Catty" ~ "Whoa, take your Midol" ~ "How much have you had to drink?" ~ "That's a man's job" ~ "She was asking for it" ~ "Your clothing is distracting the boys" ~ "You'd be so much prettier if you wore makeup" ~ "You're wearing too much makeup. You look like a clown" ~ "Women will complain about anything" ~ "She's hormonal" ~ "Dyke" ~ "Slut" ~ "Whore" ~ "Frigid" ~ "Feminazi" ~ "Bossy" ~ "*Catcall*" ~ "Let the men work" ~ "Calm down" ~ "Smile" ~ "Relax" ~ "Moody" ~ May I speak to the man of the house?" ~ "Bitch" ~ "What were you wearing?" ~ "You'll want kids someday" ~ "You need to lose weight, for your health" ~ "You're too skinny. Eat a burger" ~ "Your biological clock is ticking" ~ "So many kids. Keep your legs together" ~ "Aren't you cute?" ~ "You're too fat to wear that"

Wednesday 1 March 2017

... you don't have to understand ...

About a year ago, early on in my transition, a male friend was telling me of a conversation with his father-in-law, who had known me for many years. This older, very traditional male was having trouble with the idea that a person he had known as a man for over a decade was now presenting as a woman; had changed her name to reflect that and so forth. He was worried, wondering what would happen when he saw me, because this was so far outside of his comfort zone. He didn't think it would be possible to accept me, because he couldn't understand such a change.

My friend explained to him that it wasn't really important to understand what was going on with me. It was enough for him to accept that what was going on was right for me.

Quite a few years ago my wife and I were in a restaurant, waiting for our meal to arrive. A group of 'ladies' were ushered to a nearby table. My wife assumed they were crossdressing and made some negative, judgement-filled comment. She then turned to me and expressed great embarrassment at the thought that I might soon be doing the same thing.

Her reaction might have seemed to be typical since none of these women were doing a lot to conceal the fact that they were men dressed up and having a good time pretending to be one of the girls for the day. I wish that I had found the words that my friend found. I would have told my wife the same thing, "What they are doing isn't hurting us - it's right for them. We don't have to understand."

There are times in our lives when we have to decide how we will act in difficult social situations. When we don't understand the way someone lives their life and we need to interact with them, then we should accept them without explanation or if we are interested and caring enough, try to find out more about what it is like to be in 'their shoes'. It seems to me that choosing to discredit another reflects more upon our character than theirs.

Wednesday 22 February 2017

Survivor's Guilt

What was I to do? What do any of us do, other than what seems like the right thing to do at the time?

What I did, while it was right for me, was too difficult for others who I cared for. Life said to me "Make a decision. Decide whether this time you will live for yourself, or ... "

When I chose life, that is what was given to me. While nothing lasts forever, I am not going to feel guilt for having survived, and perhaps, through sheer luck, for having thrived.

I am peeling away and casting off remnants of shame and guilt. What is left is me; grateful for every thing that has come my way, whether I deserve it or not.

After a lifetime of trying to please others and living with feelings of guilt and shame that I couldn't control the world, I did what seemed right. Sometimes the universe is benign. Often it is very, very cruel. For me, there was a gift of healing and acceptance in a way I could never have orchestrated.

Monday 30 January 2017

How Do You See the World?

A week ago, the message on this poster was added to the banner below my sunrise photo. 

The photo in the poster was taken one grey morning after a very heavy snow storm. Everyone was complaining about how much snow had to be removed, how difficult the driving was and so forth. 

I thought it was beautiful!  ~ I still do. 

I have been saying it for so long, I cannot recall whether I thought of it myself, or someone else wrote it first. I'll be happy to add credit if someone can tell me who the author is (other than me, that is).

Postscript: The puzzle is solved. See Lindsay Byrnes' comment below.

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Finding the Upside of Depression

I recall a time not so long ago that felt like the end of the world, or at least, it made me feel that I wanted the world to end - so deep into the spiral of depression that the best I hoped for was an end to it that would leave those I cared for deeply, safe and secure, without me.

This morning I was watching the video linked below, and it brought back those feelings. But it also reminded me what it was, and still is, that others did, that helped me climb back out of that deep hole. It was empathy from people who cared to enough to take the risk of offering connection. They let me know that when I was ready, they were there for me - no ready solutions, no platitudes - but simply a hand held out that told me "you aren't alone". 

I will never be done with the journey. If there is an upside to coming out the other side of depression, it is what I learned, and who I've become, by letting others know who I really am, and trusting that I would find some who would connect. 

It is a huge risk to make yourself vulnerable with the truth. Some might have and did hate me for being who I am. But there were others who had survived; others who would take the risk of saying "I am here to listen and care", and in that way pass along their strength. They might not even have understood the details, but they cared, and would not judge.

If there is an upside, it will be my own willingness to be that person who takes the risk and holds out my hand to others and say, I am here. I've been there. I will stay with you.

Dr. Brené Brown narrates the following RSA Short, with animation by Katy Davis and subtitles in a variety of languages, thanks to Amara. Click on the cc for captions.

Saturday 14 January 2017

And Now You Are a Woman

Sounds like some sort of benediction, doesn't it? Just exactly when does someone like me become a woman

Since mid February of last year I have lived as a woman in all aspects of my life. As soon as it was possible, my identification papers (every single one of them) were written in my proper female name and with the help of my doctors, the designation area of each one says "female" and has since June of last year. I have travelled extensively as a woman and have learned to accept that I no longer hold a door and allow anyone to walk through ahead of me unless they are my senior by a lot, or are infirm. I am a woman, and that means that often the door gets held for me. It is part of our culture to give some deference to women. I always say thank you. 

I have also learned that men's washrooms are clearly larger than the women's...  otherwise why would there be lines of us waiting to get into ours and men walking in and out of theirs at the same time?

What I haven't yet experienced is the dumbing down of any discussion because I am a woman. Granted, I never have been particularly handy with automotive repairs, but who is, in this age of cars you plug into a computer for a checkup? If there is still a carburetor under the hood there, it is definitely not located under the air filter anymore.. where the heck is the air filter?? 

There have been many times when I had to ask myself whether I should still do some of those things I was really good at before. Things like woodworking and snow removal and splitting of logs and hauling big bags of conditioning salt for the water softener are guy jobs, aren't they?

There are new things I'm learning that might seem womanly, but I have always loved to cook. With the help of a friend and the internet I'm learning to crochet. It is fun! 

I will admit that a year and a half of hormone replacement therapy has left some of my anatomy less well equipped to heft 20 kg bags about, but darn it, someone has to get those things from the store home and into the basement and there isn't a guy anywhere about. Someone has to clear the walks and driveway from the blanket of snow that can make walking or driving impossible otherwise. I live in Canada and that means you either operate a snow blower and heft a shovel or you hire someone to do it for you. I am not infirm, wealthy, lazy, incompetent, or weak, or deathly afraid of sharp blades, so I can and will do it myself. 

Will being able to crochet make me more womanly? If I continue to discuss the workings of my car, drive a golf ball 250 yards, heft heavy loads, remove the snow, or make up my own fire in the stove, does that make me less womanly?  I think not!

Oh, and by the way, I have an appointment scheduled for next month to arrange for my gender confirmation surgery and I am over the moon happy about it! 

Surgery won't make me a woman. I have been that for a long time; long before the documents or the hormones. It will give me something that was denied me for most of my life however. Sometimes you have to wait for the world to catch up with you. 

Yup, I am a woman and proud of it.