"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 - -

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Autophagy

As I understand it, you pronounce the word "awe-toph-uh-gee" with emphasis on the "toph" part. The word literally means "eat oneself". No, not cannibalism, but the process of removing old dysfunctional material in order to make room for regeneration. 

Relating to my previous post, autophagy involves the recycling of body cells that are old or damaged to make room for healthier new growth. It is an expected result when one goes onto a two-meal-a-day or less regime. Quoting a study from 2017 by Nuria Martinez-Lopez and Marina Garcia-Macia et al, : "Our studies suggest that consuming two meals a day with complete food restriction in between the meals is sufficient to lower blood glucose and lipid levels. This simple dietary approach activates a cell “cleansing system” called autophagy in liver, fat, brain, and muscle that helps prevent obesity and diabetes."

I have heard claims that this same process can prevent dementia, reverse hypertension, and remedy other age-related conditions. I will likely never know if any of this is true for me. I do feel really well, but that might have to do with other factors. 

Since I transitioned, basic attitudes I carry toward myself and others have thankfully undergone some autophagy as well. A lot of old worn-out ways of dealing with the world have been shuffled off to the bin, much as the façade was so many years ago. Memories that have haunted me for years - of interpersonal interactions gone wrong and friends or family lost because of those interactions - while not forgotten, have been put to new, more productive, purpose. It is as though a distillation process has removed toxic, hurtful feelings, allowing lessons learned to be retained in a more positive way. In the past others could manipulate me by making me feel sorry for them. I now know that it is possible to have empathy while at the same time maintaining firm personal boundaries. 

It seems likely that the ability to alter my emotional responses has to do with hormones. So often we are lead to believe that women have emotions that rule their lives. In my experience - what a unique position to make a comparison I have - my range of emotional response has widened considerably yet at the same time a tendency to allow emotions to overrule good judgement has been flushed away along with the testosterone. 

Another use for the concept of autophagy describes a process that clearly needs to take place in the world as a whole. Old and inappropriate animosities among nations or among religious groups have, in too many cases, stiffened to become hatreds. Media, social or otherwise, is full of vicious accusations, and, in some cases, bold lies designed to dehumanize or demonize the opponents. Within nations, political differences which at one time would have resulted in debates in the house of government now seem to have a tendency to harden into hatred as well. In the not too distant past, bitter political rivals might have been friends away from the debate. In important matters of state, they would even have agreed, putting forth joint motions with unanimous consent.

In the next decades, it seems inevitable that more people will be displaced from countries where the climate no longer supports food production. In some places, scarcities are causing bloodshed.  The way other nations respond will determine whether we have a future of peace or of endless war.

When a body has diseased cells that are not removed and recycled, death is the inevitable result. If we choose a way of life that involves clinging to what is toxic, we must expect to live with the consequences. 

"And so, while the end-of-the-world- scenario will be rife with
 unimaginable horrors, we believe that the pre-end period will be filled
 with unprecedented opportunities for profit."


Thursday, 14 October 2021

Food Revelation

As always here at Two-Spirits - One Halle, I will tell you how I feel and what I believe in this post - your results may vary. But, actually, these are not just my feelings this time. My dear friend Coline lead me along this path. So, today, here is something we are both convinced is working for us.

Coline's post is here. Please do read it. As she says, make your own assessment of what we have found.

Since transitioning, my weight has been increasing gradually. Lately, it has got to the point where my wardrobe is restricted, but in a year and a half of lockdowns, that really didn't matter much. I'll be honest and say that with the gradual relaxing of restrictions I wanted to lose a lot of that extra weight, especially in the front. As well, I thought it would be lovely to take some stress off of my achy knees. Since my transition, life has been very good. I have many reasons to want a long and healthy life now. 

Before continuing, let me tell you that I will not participate in weight-loss programs that require that I shell out money for boxes of specialty foods. If it wasn't grown or raised by me, or a farmer somewhere, it won't go in my mouth. 

Last year, my endocrinologist said that my blood sugar levels were high enough that type 2 diabetes and insulin treatment was likely in my future. By cutting back on my food intake I was able to hold my weight in place. I posted It Works for Me on my other blog. That is how convinced I was that cutting calories would help. Yet sadly, no matter how I cut calories, after the first few pounds, weight loss just wasn't happening. On top of that, I was hungry most of the time - craving those goodies that got me where I was. Clearly, a diet wasn't going to help me in the long run. If only I could find a way to not feel so hungry - then I wouldn't mind cutting calories. 

What Coline told me helped change all of that. Several good sources pointed out that the very thing doctors eventually prescribe when you have type 2 diabetes, insulin, is the culprit. As Dr. Jason Fung says:

 *"... insulin resistance leads to high insulin levels, and as we have seen, high insulin levels cause obesity."

It turns out that insulin is also the culprit that was causing my hunger! The insulin roller-coaster is basically like this: we eat a carb-filled meal - insulin is released to deal with the spike in blood sugar - some of the excess sugar is converted and stored in the liver - what the liver cannot handle is stored as fat in other parts of the body as a reserve to be converted back into sugar in times when food is scarce. After the blood sugars have been stored away, the body senses a crash in blood sugar - we get hungry - we snack on something sugary - insulin is released to start the cycle over.

After we have lived like this for a long time, the cells of our body become used to the almost constant bath of insulin and don't react as they should.  That is insulin-resistance.  


As Coline suggests, you need to do your own research. Both of us had seen the adverts for a keto diet and had thought it was just another fad. Oops!! 

The spreadsheet I made for calorie counting is in use again, but this time, it is counting carbs, calories, and meals. I am down to one or two meals a day (lunch and/or supper), no snacks, ever, and about 25g of carbs daily.  During the day, a mug of coffee with cream doesn't hurt a bit. Just put that sugar bowl away. It is like poison. 

I feel really well - never hungry and, so far, have lost ten pounds. Low carb doesn't mean tasteless, especially when you get lots of vegetables, seafood, and meat cooked in butter or olive oil. I thought I would miss breads and pasta, but no. This really doesn't feel anything like being on a diet.

I am one happy lady, who is losing weight, isn't hungry, and is really looking forward to wearing those clothes purchased five years ago. 

*Fung, Jason. The Obesity Code. Greystone Books: p.109

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Entering the Arena

For most of my life I've known the risks of standing out. As an athlete, a musician, teacher, and stage actor, I stood at the brink - about to enter the arena in situations where the team depended on what I could do. My success was the team's success and the opposite as well. I know how much courage it takes to enter the arena. 

As familiar as I was with that risk, standing at the brink of transition over five years ago felt different by a factor of a thousand. 

I have invoked Brené Brown's wisdom many times on this blog. Somehow I missed this address she gave to an audience of creative people at 99u in 2013. For we who are trans and must still put ourselves out there in the public eye, her words ring so true. Hearing them six years ago would have made a difference in my life. Luckily, somehow, I found the courage to step into that arena where all the critics and my worst fears held sway. 

Brené says things like, “I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.”

and

“Yeah, it’s so scary to show up, it feels dangerous to be seen, it’s terrifying. But it is not as scary, dangerous or terrifying as getting to the end of our lives and thinking ‘what if I would have shown up, what would that have been like?’ “

When I recognized who I was - a strong woman living the life of a hollow man - the question 'at the end of my life which path will give me peace?' was like a tipping point. It was time to woman up and enter the arena. 


At the risk of repeating myself, this song definitely applies - thank you, K.

"If we walk away, then we walk away never knowing what we could have done."
New Morning Sun - Blue Rodeo 

Friday, 13 August 2021

Male and Female Created He Them

I had watched so many YouTube videos that I fell asleep. In a dream-like state I was still watching a video, but my spirit guide Aadi was on the screen! As always, her image was shifting, old/young, woman/man, black/asian/nordic, then finally settling down as the picture and my laptop seemed to slowly dissolve. I looked up and she was sitting at the end of the couch, looking toward me; the beautiful woman I have spoken with so often in the past. 

“Aadi, it has been so long! It's wonderful to see you!” “Yes, it is, isn’t it?” She looked briefly like Mary Poppins as she said that. 

She asked, “How long do you think it has been since the last time?” I remembered immediately that my spirit guide didn’t live in a particular timeline, but somehow always knew everything about this version of me. 

“It will be seven years in a few days.” I told her, remembering having read somewhere that a human’s cells are mostly replaced every seven years, and thinking that I am not the person I was in 2014 in more ways than one. Yet to Aadi, I was always the same. It made me wonder what she saw when she ‘looked’ at me. It also dawned on me that seven years ago, I was teetering on a cusp. I might have turned my back on transition. I am certain Aadi also keeps track of those other realities where I rebuilt the façade and gave up on transition. How could she keep track of us all? Immediately I remembered what she had told me in that last visit together:

"In what you would call this moment my consciousness is here with you, and also consoling another Halle who transitioned thirty of your years ago and cannot imagine how she can carry on without her partner of twenty five years.  As I tell you this, I am with yet another version of you who just died in a mysterious car crash and is trying to figure out why he still is conscious and can see his dead body and mourning family gathered. These are just three of an infinite number of 'places' I am engaged in 'at the moment'. My perspective is *different* shall we say.

Aadi smiled as though reading my mind, which I knew she was doing constantly, “You have some questions for me today I think.” I had to laugh at that, because I did have questions as a result of a particular video I had just watched on a channel where this man ‘discusses’ difficult issues in the context of the bible as he sees it. The show I watched was about a biblical interpretation of transitioning. Quoting from Genesis, he pointed out that God made humans male and female. To him, that means God doesn’t want us to mess around with how he made us - we are supposed to remain and live as we came out of the womb. It was the old 'abomination in the sight of God' argument.

"Aadi, am I an abomination?" She surprised me with her answer: "Oh, definitely!" then clarified: "In some human beings' eyes you and anyone like you is dangerous and they hate you." "Yes, I get that," I said, "but what about God?" Without missing a beat, Aadi morphed into a white-haired thunder god and gave me a hard stare. I am used to her being able to change appearance, but suddenly, it was my appearance that shifted, over and over. I became different versions of how I have looked to the world through my lifetime as well as some looks I can only guess are how I will or could look like in the future or in other lives. As I settled back to my current appearance, thunder-god-Aadi spoke in a voice that was the most gentle of baritones. "You look just fine to me Halle."

At that moment I remembered something else she said seven years back. She told me that everything I or any of my uncountable incarnations does adds to our totality. Everything we learn increases the joy of the whole. 

Aadi then surprised me by asking "Do you think God is a man?" In that dreamtime world it didn't take me a second to reply "No, I don't think so. After all, isn't it written in the same bible passage that God said 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness'? So, since 'man' is both male and female and so many different mixes of races and appearances, doesn't that mean that God is the same? Doesn't that mean that God encompasses all of humanity?" 

Looking about as though she was hosting a lecture series, Aadi asked "Does anyone have questions for our guest speaker?" then slowly faded away, Cheshire-cat-like, her beautiful smile disappearing last. 

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Taking Charge

Eleven years ago I began an intense self-examination process; much of it documented here. Over five years ago, I did something that set me apart from almost everyone I knew ...

I took charge of my life. 

It had never occurred to me that so many people that I had considered friends would become angry. At the time, it seemed impossible to me that the fact of taking charge was what bothered them. It had to be transitioning itself. Yet that seemed to ring hollow. Why? Because, yes, transitioning does change our relationships with others a bit, but, I thought, not that much. I was still me. I didn't reject anyone's company because of being female. I still enjoyed going for walks, especially when a set of golf clubs was involved. I still taught at the school. I faithfully cut my grass, etc. Yet, the reaction of most was quite dramatic. It polarized those who knew me. There were a few who were accepting - even some who were quite excited and pleased for me. Mostly, there were the 'others'. 

In retrospect, a lot of the anger was generated from envy. I heard things such as "You have lived all your life up to now with this, so you should be able to carry on with it. You don't have that much longer to live anyway." That attitude made me wonder what had they sacrificed to make them so resentful of one who refused to put their own interests aside? 

It was in considering the nature of the people who immediately saw what I was doing as life-affirming and good that an answer began to form. Without exception, those positive people had made conscious choices in their own lives and they didn't blame others if those choices didn't work out. They understood life-affirming decision-making. 

Somehow, our culture had led those who envied me to believe that by giving up their own lives, ignoring their own interests, numbing the pain as needed, they were doing the 'right thing'. They saw what I was doing not as 'life-affirming' but instead as 'letting the team down'. 

If one chooses a path, because they know in their heart that it is right for them, that is life-affirming. If I had made the choice to continue to fight a battle against transition, and that choice was based on some positive motive, it would have been life-affirming as well. It is the motivation that counts here. Those who were excited and pleased were people who could appreciate how difficult the process that brought me to transition was. They had taken charge of their lives in some way. Those who hated couldn't understand or appreciate what I was doing. 

Choosing to put the needs of others before your own shouldn't make you envious of those who do not. But when it does, it is toxic. 

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Skylar's Story

I often wonder what I can do to educate others about transsexualism. More importantly today I ask how a blog post can help someone whose child comes to them and reveals that they have been forced to pretend to be someone they aren't.

Some parents might not have the time to read a great book on the subject. A blog might not be able to help them. But a beautifully made, award winning* video, short and to the point, might be the perfect solution. 

I lived behind a mask for a long time, so it heartens me to see someone able to articulate their own need to live an authentic life before they reach puberty. Even more so to see parents and most of a small community come together to support that young person as they begin living the life they should. 

The National Film Board of Canada presented film-maker Rachel Bower's movie, I Am Skylar in 2019. Here is a link to a post by Bower this past year in the NFB Blog, that has an interview with Skylar in her sixteenth year. If you wish to see the movie, it is there as well. 

Friday, 26 February 2021

A Recipe For Happiness

This story starts when I was young and naive. It usually takes a lot of living to find the truth about happiness. 

Because of my naiveté and a basic character flaw (I am a fixer due to experiences in my early life), I married someone who was unhappy a lot of the time, thinking that I was so wonderfully clever (not naive, not me!) and lovable that I could 'make her happy'.  Of course, if you have been reading a few years worth of this blog, you know that not only did I not make that lovely lady happy; I made her very, very unhappy because I couldn't keep the big-secret-of-me from finally grabbing me by the throat and coming out. 

Now some people will say that I transitioned to "make myself happy", which is nonsense spoken by those who know nothing of gender dysphoria. Oh, yes, I have become a very happy lady, but that happened much later and for many very different reasons having little or nothing to do with transition. No, transitioning was never about 'making myself happy'. It was about ending a lie. It was about finally letting my nature take over. It might be said that transitioning was about ending unhappiness, which does not automatically make you happy. It leaves you in an in-between state - a kind of 'happiness limbo' where there is at least a potential for happiness.

Since puberty I had been at war with myself. The way I felt and the things that testosterone made me want and feel made me really unhappy. Designated male at birth, that flood of testosterone was supposed to make me feel right. Estrogen should have made me feel awful. I know a man who had to take estrogen shots as part of his medical treatment. He hated how it made him feel; almost suicidal. In my case, blocking the testosterone felt better. Starting estrogen supplements felt right. All of those drives that made me hate myself were finally gone. It was clear what must be done. 

Was I happy? Hardly. The person I had spent over forty years loving and 'trying to make happy' said what I was doing was wrong. She told me she wouldn't live with a woman and be thought of as a lesbian. I was very unhappy. I wanted the two of us to be 'the Halle girls'. So this taught me that one transitions to be authentic, not to be happy. Do not let anyone con you into thinking that by transitioning you will 'find happiness'. That is horse-pucks. 

"So where is the recipe?" I hear you saying. First another story. 

Years ago our family used to go camping at the same provincial park every year. No matter what time of the summer we arrived there was always a man who was camping, alone, at the same campsite. He always had a big pot of water over his campfire, that was always a pile of glowing embers that he would add a small stick or two to now and then. He was an artist. He told us the water was there for anyone to take a panful. What a happy person! Working away, generous with his time if you felt like chatting. Such a life would have bored me to tears at the age I was then. 

These days, I could be that artist. I could be around that campsite, keeping the fire on low, adding cold water to make more hot when needed. I could read and do my stitching when the light is right. I would go for walks, make my meals, and sit, watching the world go by quite happily.

One needs to find their own happiness. It looks different everywhere you see it. As many people as you meet who are happy, there will be that many different ways to be happy. 

I suppose writing this has made me happy. 

Step 1: Think about what has made you happy and do it more.

Step 2: When you find it, be true to your own happiness. 

Step 3: Never try to make someone else happy. It is hard enough to find and nurture your own. 

Recipe notes: If you are very lucky, as I am, you will find someone to share your happiness - someone who appreciates your recipe, as you appreciate theirs. 

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

You Must Read This Book

What a lucky day it was that, on a whim back in the fall, I checked the inbox of an old email address and found a request from Kim Corbin, Senior Publicist of New World Books, to review Paria Hassouri's autobiographical book Found in Transition.*

This is a very frank story by and about a parent whose child has grown up as a boy, but has now told her parents she is a woman. From the first chapter, it is clear Paria is a wonderful parent who is trying to do what wonderful parents do - the very best for her children. This account of her search for what that very-best-thing will be makes excellent reading. She clearly values truth above all. Laying bare her failings, Paria takes you along as she grows as a parent, learning to let go of fear and lead with love.  

I found myself, both as a parent and a woman who transitioned very late in life, nodding my head in agreement at Paria's struggles to understand what was happening, crying with her as she grieved the loss of a son and hoping, as she hoped, that her daughter would be safe and happy. 

Paria's dedication at the front of the book tells you much about her and the book:
For Ava, who always teaches me much more than I can ever hope to teach her, and every other child brave enough to live their truth.
And for every parent struggling with making the best decisions for their child with the knowledge that they have.

I began making notes while reading the book, but it soon became obvious that this post would be way too long if I attempt to incorporate them. I strongly suggest you buy and read Paria Hassouri's story. Make your own notes. 

*Hassouri, Paria, Found in transition : a mother’s evolution during her child’s gender change; New World Library, 14 Pamaron Way, Novato, California 94949 U.S.A.