Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Year That Was (aka Shannyn Comes Alive)

Been plotting a retrospective for a little bit now, as people are wont to writing at the end of the year. Ir's one of those long posts you know might just bore people to tears. As I write this, on a very damp, dreary morning, December 30, the time and place feels approporiate. I feel very sensitive for some reason, so as weird as it seems, this might be the best thing to do to snap out of it.

Some of this might get heavy. Feel free to stop here if you don't need or want heavy.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

100%

Big day, today.

I'll skip the elaborate presentation. I call this "100%" because that was my answer to Tanya when we chatted and I told her all about what I wore to work today. She figured I was 90% femme, to which I replied, "100%".

Today, not a single item of clothing I wore to my job, in a real office, was sold under the pretense of "men's". There are no caveats here. All female-targeted clothing. I'm proud of myself. I did not have my hair done up, and wore no makeup...and my body wasn't very femininely shaped, but I'm proud. One more baby step forward.

What I had on was:
- ladies simple white T-shirt from Target
- ladies flannel button-up shirt, also Target
- cotton panties. not sure where I got them now
- ladies curvy bootcut Levis jeans (from Kohls)
- ladies reversible belt with silver buckle
- ladies Columbia socks, beige/brown, from Kohls
- brown lace-up skechers with subtle, small heel (bought via Amazon)

Here is the look. Yeah, I look like a dude, I think. But I don't care. I was Shannyn today.


Saturday, December 22, 2018

Duality Ain't So Bad Sometimes

Maybe it's because it's Christmas time, and red is everywhere. Maybe I just like red. Does it matter?

Today, I bought a new pair of shoes. They are RED. They are not BURGUNDY. And you are reading this, saying, "and we care WHY?"

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Do We Need Our Pain?

Yesterday, I was listening to The Gender Rebels podcast, as I usually do. I mentioned them way back with one of the first blog posts I wrote, and not exactly in glowing terms. They have grown on me, since I've learned by listening to them tackle questions from their listeners. I haven't found many other audio sources for trans issues, especially those that offer the perspective of a CIS female as well as a MTF trans woman. I'm really glad I stuck with their podcast. If anyone has other good podcasts, blogs or sites for this kind of stuff, leave me a comment or let me know some way. I thank you.

Anyway, on the episode from December 6th, the subject of therapy comes up as something either partner in a cis/trans relationship can do to ease the burden on their partner. The idea of not using your partner as your lone source of airing your trans "laundry" was very poignant, I thought. However, Faith, the trans partner in the relationship (Kath is Faith's partner and co-host), does not go to therapy currently, and they discussed why. In that, Faith mentioned that she, and I'm paraphrasing here, "needs her pain", as it is part of what defines her in life. We are talking mental pain, not physical, although one can easily, and often does, affect the other.

If I'm allowed to get a little nerdy here, the other time I heard this phrase, "I need my pain", was in the movie, Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier, a long time ago. It is said by Captain Kirk to Mr. Spock's half-brother, who has the power to take away the pain of anyone he encounters. This has always stuck with me since I first saw the movie, and read the paperback novel for the movie as well. Some things just stick with you. It's not the greatest movie, but it has some decent ideas.

In my own way, knowingly and unknowingly, I have carried that concept with me a long time since. Through my own therapy, I have reached the point of recognizing the traumas that shape our lives. Dealing with these traumas is the real trick, of course. What occured to me yesterday was the question, "do I need my pain like I have thought I did?"

I asked myself that because it seems that I'm headed in the opposite direction since I re-entered counseling. Trying to get rid of my pain has been a focus. As I hope to write later before the year ends, I have had a lot of pain this year, as many people have. I hope talking about mine in some way helps others with theirs. Otherwise these blogs are pointless. Anyway, I recognized that I am heading away from Captain Kirk's credo of "needing my pain".

As I write this, I'm not sure of the answer to the question. In ways, it seems like we do need our pain, since as Faith says in Gender Rebels, it is part of our identity. To me, I find some sort of comfort at times in being outside the norm on things, "zigging" as I mentioned way back when. But should we? Should a trans person purposely carry that around on their shoulders daily? Should any person want to portray themselves as wounded in some way? Is it a show of strength? A sign of weakness in that we need others to recognize that, hey, look at all the crap that happened to me, and I'm still here!

This post could get a lot longer if I were to stop and do research and comment on all that. I think instead I will let the question sit a while, re-watch Star Trek 5, and see what comes to mind. Not all questions need to be answered now. Some questions can never be properly answered anyway.

What do you think? As always, let me know via a comment, or message in some other way if you know where to find me. Thanks for reading.


Sunday, December 2, 2018

Does Nobody See The Light Except Me?

I just discovered a new (to me) show on Amazon Prime called "Enlightened". I was looking for something different to watch than all the old stuff I've been kinda clinging to lately (like House, M.D.). When you login, you see stuff like "Jack Ryan", and that hasn't appealed to me yet. I read and watched all the Tom Clancy stuff over a long period of time. It's not really resonating with me anymore, the war and politics and junk like that.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

I'd Like To Thank The Academy....

Not Really. As if I'd win something. Pfft.

The reason I came up with that silly title is because, in thinking of how to write this post, it became a thing where I want to thank individuals instead of being generic, as I usually am. I've mentioned friends before, but not often. I try to write without specifically mentioning people, since not everyone is as public as I am in regards to this part of their lives. Many in my community outright require complete anonymity, and I am, of course, good with that.

Many of the names I will mention here aren't real, legal names. So I think we're mostly covered in the anonymity department. Every single person has, however, been REAL and true to me. Even if I didn't get along with someone, I still learned something from them. Also, just like anyone who has ever written a speech thanking anyone, people get left out. I really fear this, but you know what, I'm not perfect, and if I don't name you, I truly didn't intend leave you out. An awful lot of people have been part of my progress over the last year. As I write this, I'm curious to see how many names I actually end up with.

The first person that comes to mind is James. We've known each other quite a while now, and your belief in me, the potential you see and support you give, consistently, is truly appreciated. You were the one who put me in contact with Tanya, and that, my friend, is just totally immeasurable in how much it means.

Tanya, I met you when I had just hit a new low, having lost my job for the second time in a little over two years. I got worse from that day for a little while; I sank to depths that scare me to think about. You've been truly like a sister. There is no one on this earth that knows more about me than you. We've had so many good times this past year or so, and I have learned that I needn't doubt our friendship. I'm sure others would agree that I'm pretty self-doubting, but you haven't shied away from me. I've gotten better, and I hope to keep showing you my best, so we can keep being the best of friends. Can't wait to get out there dressed with you after so long. It's coming, sis!

I'm also very thankful for Angie. I've known you for probably close to two years now, and I think we always liked each other. But the last little while, for me at least, the friendship has skyrocketed, and I am so happy about that. You are the funniest person I know, and you really prop me, and many others, up with your wit. Beyond that, you have a caring heart, and much like Tanya, have a good compass of where you are with things related to femininity. You're both strong examples of knowing balance. I learn from you all the time. You might not realize it, but it's true.

Three people I'm thankful for, I don't get to really interact with much now, if at all. Dee, I miss you and hope you are truly doing alright. Your courage to become yourself in the face of great adversity is inspiring. I wish you had time for me still. Hannah, I know you are out there, you've shared very few words over email the past few weeks, and I worry about you. I'm thankful for our friendship, and I'm always here when you need me. Mandy, my younger friend from the beautiful northwest, I'm thankful for your spirit. You are a dedicated partner to your wife and a hard worker, and very strong. You also have a wonderful youthfulness that I really enjoy. The song suggestions and just general banter has been really fun. I hope you are doing well, and look forward to interacting more.

Trying to include everybody without overlooking someone is tough. I already know I'm running long, and am going to leave people out. Two people with a St. Louis connection are next. Suzi, thanks for your encouragement of my blog that very few people read, and so much else. You show everyone around you that you can live a classy and complete life as a woman. You also have shown me that just because you are a woman, you don't need to give up on all of the more "male" things we might enjoy. Many talk about those subjects all the time, but you are different in that you are out there in the world and really walking the walk, so to speak. And to Kara (or whoever you choose to be, lol), thank you for sharing your story and your journey with me so far. You are going about things so well, and I'm glad to see that. Even if I never get to accomplish much more myself, you are among the special ladies I will always be cheerleading for.

I'm going to just name names now. All of you I enjoy spending time with, and each of you has brought a lot to my world. I learn from everyone, and am glad to be there for any of you that ever needs someone to talk to. Here goes. Obviously, Rue and Crafty. Thanks for steering the ship and overlooking my occasional lapses in judgement. Fred and Michele, you do a great service and are also both friends to me. Mike. Samantha. Even you, Jon and Eric. Kimmi, Lynn, Samantha, Melissa, Tammy, Ellie, Tom (where did you go?), Jenn(ifer), cookie, sisko, audiojoe (for keeping an eye on my island), fire_n_ice, Ronnie, Lisa, Chrissy, Lucy, Elle, Roxie, TC, Nevada. Every one of you deserves your own paragraph.

Ohhhhh. I know I am leaving people out. Thank God I don't need to actually give speeches in real life.

In my outside life, I am thankful for my job. It's been tough adjusting, working against my own self-doubt, foggy mind (bye bye, sleeping pills), and trying to fit into a group that's been together a long time and are mostly different from me culturally. I am blessed to have what I have, and I'm working hard to keep it.

I am thankful for my parents. My dad is still here after giving us quite a scare this year. My mom, you listened to me when I told you the biggest secret ever. My brother, who due to proximity, is the much better son in making sure my parents are ok.

I am thankful for my kids, both teens now, and still fairly civil people. I know I've been far less than a dad should be, but I am trying. I know you don't understand why I am the way I am, and I hope to be able to do something about that. Because you are loved. I hope you will always love me, no matter who I am.

I'm thankful for my wife. She could have easily thrown me out, or just been awful. We have major philosophical differences, not to mention theological ones. You do still try to help me, and we parent the best we can. It's not fair to you the way I've evolved, and the way I've come apart at the seams. I can only hope that you can see a better person emerging, to whatever degree it might be. Nothing has been intentional. We all are who we are. It's unfair to expect any of us to be something we aren't.

Ok. I'm done now. Thanks for reading.

P.S. - THIS is how you accept an award.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Remembrance

Hello. It's been a while since I wrote a proper post here. Truthfully, I haven't felt like I had that much to say that would be helpful to others. I'm not really one to truly toot my own horn, despite the attention hog I might be perceived as by some. I've been working on myself, and trying to be there for others. I feel good about how all that has been going. I'm sure I'll expound on some of it at some point.

Today, I want to focus outward again. It so happens that I learned about the fact that today, November 20, is actually recognized by many people as Transgender Day of Remembrance, or TDoR for short. I had no idea, until friends clued me in this morning. It's been going on since 1999. Here is one link that would help start your learning about this, should you choose:

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Think Of Me

Today's stuck-in-my-head, brain-worm song.

Think of me when you're lonely
Think of me when you're blue
Think of me when you're far away
And I'll be thinking of you
Remember all of the good times
We had in days gone by
Remember all of the sadness
The day you said goodbye
You told me you would be leavin'
But you wouldn't be gone too long
Now I hope and pray with each new day
That you'll come a-travelin' home
Think of me when you're lonely
Think of me when you're blue
Think of me when you're far away
And I'll be thinking of you
I watch the mailman comin'
I wait by the telephone
I meet the trains down at the station
And I spend my nights alone
But now the waitin' is over
And Time has set the scene
'Cause God meant me for only you
And he meant you for me
Think of me when you're lonely
Think of me when you're blue
Think of me when you're far away
And I'll be thinking of you
Songwriters: Don Rich / Estella Olson
Think Of Me lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Ebb and Flow

Tonight, I'm sitting here watching the World Series. Although the Red Sox stand poised to maybe end it tonight in only 5 games, there has been a fair amount of back and forth. Especially that third game. A long time ago, I think during another World Series, the Dominican pitcher Joaquin Andujar was quoted as saying, "There is one word in America that says it all, and that word is, 'You never know.'". I think that's about right.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Be Careful Who You Wish To

Shortest blog entry I've had yet. In honor of my favorite holiday, Halloween (tongue planted firmly in cheek), I wanted to share this short story by my new favorite author, Jenny Boylan.

They say you should be careful what you wish for....but maybe we need to be careful who we wish TO. Check out "The Hag of the Beara".

Stay spooky, my friends!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Leap When Appropriate

"Why do you think people would treat you worse if they knew the truth?"

This question is asked of Dr. Gregory House, M.D. (played by Hugh Laurie) by Dr. Darryl Nolan (Andre Braugher) in the second part of the House, M.D., season 6 premiere. It aired on September 21, 2009. I don't remember it distinctly, and just looked up the details on IMDB after catching that line as I rewatched the episode on a rainy, lazy Saturday morning in Georgia.

House is in a psychiatric hospital, to which he committed himself in an attempt to cure his Vicodin addiction. If you've ever watched the show, you know this character has developed a facade of, to put it mildly, being an asshole. Genius, wounded, addicted, Asshole.

Friday, October 19, 2018

A Little More Of Others

For whatever reasons, humans go through a lot during their time on this planet. The human spirit, if you stop to think about it, even for 60 seconds, is beyond belief. With disease, war, work, politics, religion, traffic, mothers, mothers-in-law, young folks, old folks, the trials people face just never ends.

The trials of the gender-confused is just one of many, many, many such ordeals the eight billion of us Earthlings collectively endure. It's good for each of us to realize this. Our issues aren't the only ones happening around us. Despite what the news shows, I still think we do a decent job of supporting our friends, family, and even strangers. Today, I am writing about one such person. A special person who can use a few more positive thoughts sent her way.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Neither Here Nor There

It's been just short of a full week since I eliminated most of my online presence. Time to take stock of where I am, and in so doing, give updates to those who still see this blog and are interested.

The past weekend was one in which I did not chat online at a chat site, or watch Twitter, or some other time-consuming activities that I usually engage in. The idea has been to see what it feels like, and put more emphasis on my actual life. So what did it feel like? The first couple of days, I thought about what a mistake I was making, that I missed those things, and other negative emotions. I also was proud as each hour passed by. Online can be very addicting, and this was my drug I was witdrawing from.

I did note that, while not having my face buried in my phone or laptop, that my kids engaged me a little whereas they may have just passed by in the days and weeks and months previous. Not a lot, but I did notice. Did they see me as someone they wanted to talk to again? They must have; all I did was try to be available.

I didn't make any pronouncements or anything about what I was attempting to do, or why. I am hoping that it will be noticed. Not only am I on my devices less, I have returned to my former location to watch TV, etc. I knew I had moved in order to hide my chatting, etc. and so, to me, this is something I hope will be noticed and possibly appreciated.

I will admit that I created a login for chat this morning to just go in and observe, see how I felt. I saw names I hadn't for a week. It was nice to see they were still there and hopefully doing well. I didn't engage anyone, and left soon after. I noticed quickly that I was just waiting for something interesting to be said, and when it didn't, I thought about the time I had devoted to this, and how it wasn't as beneficial as I thought. Maybe I will return more later, but only if I have found balance, and certainly I won't log the hours I did before.

How have I filled up the time that I suddenly now have? No drastic changes. If I watch TV, I am able to focus better on that, and get more out of it. I need to start doing more actual activities instead, but access to things is limited for other reasons, some of which may be excuses, some may be legit. I'm aware, and hope to do better. Less passive, less timid.

Things are otherwise the same. I get pangs of loneliness. I've had those all along. During one of those the other morning, I responded in part to my wife's challenge that, if I am serious about this transgender stuff, I would tell my parents. She didn't think I would do it. I thought on it a couple of days, and when the loneliness set in, I chose to look to someone that's part of my life to be an ally. That person was my mother.

If you've read before, my mother had expressed to me encouraging words on the native North American concept of the "two spirit" or transgendered person. Even though it turns out she didn't quite understand it the way I thought she did, I was able to use that as a lead in to telling her about myself, to an extent at least.

I told her some details of what I feel like, what I did growing up to combat what was then an unknown, not-understood condition. Before I did so, she thought I was telling her I was gay or bisexual or something. As with many folks, the separation of gender and sexuality is a difficult concept. I told her I hadn't done anything like that, and gave details of my life of crossdressing.

Somehow, I survived that. As evidenced by the fact I lived to type the tale today. It wasn't as if I got a, "hey, that's wonderful" reaction, but I wasn't comdemned, and I feel like I was at least heard by someone who cares about me, even if the caring often gets presented in odd ways that can leave me baffled or infuriated or both.

Now that a few days have passed, I need to talk to her again and see what questions she has. We aren't mentioning it to anyone else yet, at least I hope we aren't, but this a step in....a direction. A positive direction, I hope. A way to emerge from the shadows just a tiny bit more. To be more authentic. Less deceit, more truth.

I guess that's it for now. As always, it feels good to get the thoughts and feelings out my mind and into the ether, no matter how condensed they may be. I wrestled with writing the blog all week, as I know that very few are likely to read it. I did say I would continue, and I will. If for no one else than myself. But I believe my words will help someone else, even if it's a single person.

A very good friend reminded me of that possibility the other day. I lamented not getting the exposure I had before (it wasn't much, but wasn't nothing), and that I didn't want to blog and have it look a "woe is me" kind of thing. She mentioned that in a way, I'm lucky. Many people who might need to express themselves in some way and yet cannot, might read this blog and see some hope, and my good fortune. I thought that was crazy at first, since my life is a mess. But when seen through the prism of a possible future where I realize more of my goals, the possibility then would exist for others to look back and see that someone achieved, and that they can, too.

So, I write for me. But, present-day me and future me both hope that others are encouraged and helped by my expression of self, of documenting my journey. It really is more about the journey than the desination. We never, ever "get there", because "there" immediately becomes "here", and then is gone infinitely quicker than you can even have that thought. So, concentrate on the journey. Try to enjoy the ride. It will be worth it.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Get tuned, Stay tuned.

I'm tempted to call this one, "When I Stop Leaving, I'll Be Gone". Because I like to rip off old song titles, album titles and such. But to do that, I'd need to be either leaving, or gone. I feel that I'm doing neither.

This post is in reference to a decision I made yesterday to pull back drastically on my social media presence. It's something I've been thinking of for a while, and the moment came yesterday when circumstances aligned to where it felt best to do so.

I've spent an inordinate amount of time in the past couple of years communicating with many people that I felt can relate to me and who I feel understand who I am, and who I am becoming. I have done so largely in the shadows of my own family, and thus drove the perceived deceit factor up through the roof. The actual deceit factor is much less, but perception is what counts.

I am writing this early on Saturday morning, and I am already feeling the effects of what I have decided to do. I am awake, and feel alone, and therefore am in need of comfort and comradery. A very main focus of mine in this blog is to be positive and not whine about my situation. Nobody wants to read that. I will try to minimize it here today, but I feel I must be open about where I am with things. There are people that I've communicated with that will miss me, I know that. That's the hard part, because I like being liked, and the thought of being missed tells me maybe I did something right.

I have left just enough avenue open to strategic people that I know in order to not only be there for them as I want and need to be, but so that folks can know I'm ok. Somehow, I will be ok. I am ok. There are a great many people out there in the world who are not ok. I'm not one of them, relatively speaking. If I look hard enough, I still do have blessings.

So again, if you are still reading, why did Shannyn decide to strip back things? My hope is that in doing so, I can further emerge from the shadows, or at least not be buried in them as I have been for so very long. Hiding is perhaps my biggest sin of all, to my family and even to myself. When someone is different, in any way, we can either own it fully and say, "yeah, I really like ping-pong, and I don't care who knows it", or we can join the underground ping-pong club that plays late at night, probably with glowing paddles and balls to minimize what even their own members see. Ok, that's way exaggerated, but actually sounds really cool. Maybe I'll start such a club. The NPPAOA. Nocturnal Ping-Pong Association of America.

Sorry for rambling. What I'm seeing as important is an attempt to return myself to my family in some form, to recognize that I've been absent in their lives, maybe repair a smidgen of the damage hiding has done to them. It's a tall task, as the damage is immense. I know it's not all my fault, since I didn't ask for dysphoria, or to be transgender. It's not bad to be this way; as you know I have embraced it. But others didn't ask to have to deal with this either.

Another thing I recognize is the need to put my energies into things like furthering my public presence, if that's where this is all leading. I guess the idea is to stop hiding so much, and make the time I spend interacting with others like me much more a thing of quality versus quantity. As mentioned, it is designed to give time to MAYBE rebuild my family dynamic. It seems irreparable right now, but with God's grace and a lot of effort, who knows.

In that vain, I'm gonna steal something again. To whom I'm stealing from, remember it's a compliment to have your stuff stolen. We all kinda know this one anyway. And it is oh-so-apropos for me in this moment.

As I was describing the latest events to a very dear friend last night, she told me of her daily Bible verse that came up. It's John, 8:32. and even if you don't believe in God or the Bible at all (I don't judge, and hope I'm not judged), this should be pretty easy to understand and attempt to abide by:

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Imagine describing your feelings about becoming more transparent and truthful in your life, and then that verse is mentioned. It hit home, for sure. At the same time, I wonder what being more revealing will do to those who wish it from me. Will it help, or am I bound to, at some point, scream like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, "You can't handle the truth!"

I don't know the answer to that, dear readers. Two things can happen. Things get worse. Or things get better. They won't stay the same.

This blog will continue. Anyone can reach out to me via the comments. Some of you know other ways to reach me. Or you know someone who knows how to reach me. I take heart in the fact I've learned from most everyone I have met, even the negative stuff, and hope they enjoyed the Shannyn experience, too. Beyond this, should we meet again, I will be better than ever, more ALIVE than ever, and the good person I am won't be having to hide from the world.

I do have a specific request for anyone who reads this particular entry. My ability to spread the word about my blog is much diminished. That's an unfortunate side effect of my direction. I'd like to think the blog can do good for others, but for that to have any hope of being possible, it needs to be read. If you will, copy the URL and post it somewhere you visit, so others can see it. Share it with one friend, or on whatever accounts you might have. It all helps. Thanks.

I always thank people for reading, but I especially mean it this time!!! Get tuned, Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Four Stages

It occurred to me today that in interactions with other girls of my persuasion, there are many different dynamics that can exist between us and our female significant others. It seems everyone I talk to has circumstances that are just a little different. But there are definite trends. So after some thought, I came up with what I think are four benchmarks, or stages, that describe where many of us stand with our wives or girlfriends.

As always, I'd LOVE to get feedback on this topic, so COMMENTS ARE WELCOME.

I should mention that maybe there is a fifth stage, Stage Zero if you will, in which the significant other knows nothing of a girl's true gender/sexuality. However, the 4 main stages, as I see them, are:

1. Awareness. She knows you crossdress in some way or form. This can include the sexual component, but let's stick to gender identity and dressing as our true selves.
2. Tolerance. Or Acceptance. She is willing to put up with your shenanigans (I like to call them Shannynigans). But she doesn't like it one bit. This could extend to the "do what you want, but I don't want to see it" types.
3. Encouragement. She knows, and she's ok with it. She knows it makes you happy. She might even desire you to be this way, though that tends to stray into...
4. Attraction. She not only likes it, she LOVES it. She is sexually attracted to you in your feminine form.

Obviously, Stage 4 is the top of the mountain. I can't think of a scenario that would be better for a trans girl or crossdresser. If there is one, I want to hear about. It would have to be GLORIOUS.

If I had to rate my situation on this little scale, I would need to put it at maybe 1.5. What I do outwardly is tolerated, but probably because there isn't much choice. I'm feeling my way towards an appearance that gets closer to my ideal. I'm very far from that ideal, but it's inching in the right direction. My relationship might be inching (or leaping) in the opposite direction. It could be considered acceptance, but it's definitely not a desired acceptance on her part.

Should acceptance be a different stage from tolerance? I'm not sure. I'm not trying to make this definitive. Just a bit of food for thought created to start discussion. Thanks for reading. I'll be watching the comments section.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Not Hidden At All

Last night life returned to "usual" for me. Most of Shannyn is once again hidden, unsure when it can return. The clothes and makeup and all that is put away. I hope it can come back out again much sooner than later. I like this chick, she suits my personality.

Enough third-person talk. I had resigned myself to trying to work within the confines of family, go with the flow a little better, engage more. And I did, to an extent. I found it difficult, however, and after I went to sleep, I couldn't stay asleep. I wasn't having conscious or thoughts in a negative way, anything tangible I can really relate now. I just was off.

I usually go to sleep with a podcast playing on my phone. I listen to a lot of podcasts I never hear. LOL. For some dumb reason (I blame Android), my podcast kept stalling and locking up my phone. So for two hours I tossed and turned, rebooted my phone 2 or 3 times, and managed to get agitated. Tried rocking myself to sleep. Didn't work. It was my anxiety. I guess because my idyllic week had come to an end, work was around the corner, and I was facing not enough sleep.

Finally got to sleep, and got a decent few hours. Then I woke up and got going to work. The thoughts of calling off sick, etc., popped in my head as they often do. I felt very vulnerable. However , the words I see early every morning, the ones I've related here before,  were in my head, as I had hoped they would be when I needed them: "You wake up badly. Give it time. Don't freak out." And so, I trudged on.

The really cool part of this story came after I got to work, and was engaging with friends online (work was slow, I promise). I was talking to one in particular, kinda noticed she was logged in early for a Monday, but didn't clue into anything. At some point, I thought of my upcoming birthday, and then it hit me: IT WAS HER BIRTHDAY!

So, that made me happy to realize. This courageous trans lady is someone who has been supportive of me for a long time. This was her day. I knew she was kinda not super happy about it, since she mentioned her age a couple times previously. You know how it is, many people don't like their birthdays. I actually LOVE my birthday. It's the day that I came into the world. Even though I share it with millions of people, I still feel it's my special day. I take the day off work. No way I'm working on my day if I can help it.

So anyway, I immediately launch into showing my friend she is adored, appreciated, everything. Happy birthday to you...all that jazz. Others joined in, which was my plan also. I wanted her to feel special. And I think I succeeded. She thanked me many times, but I made sure that I thanked HER. My day had been made!

And just like that...my rough start to the morning was gone. The essence of the person that is Shannyn was there in all her glory. Being encouraging. Being helpful. FEELING helpful. THIS is WHY I exist. And why I have to continue to exist. All the goodness that is so terribly locked inside me when I'm in guy mode comes out when I'm at least thinking as Shannyn.

Turns out, Shannyn's not nearly as hidden as I thought she might be, once the clothes and makeup were put away. That brings me joy. I want more joy. I'm gonna continue doing stuff like that. I want to somehow unlock the person the world sees every day, the one that's quiet and shy and withdrawn, aloof. Somehow I want to bring the two together, and I think I can.

But enough about me. If you read this blog post, you owe me something. Not really, but if you want to do anything that supports me today, I want you to find someone in your life, or a stranger, or even yourself. MAKE THAT PERSON SMILE. The reward you get will be worth a million dollars. It really will. I felt it, it is glorious. Pay it forward.

Until next time....

Friday, September 21, 2018

Wonderful week, part 2

Normally, I don't mention reading previous posts (although I hope you do), but in this case, you might want to read this one before reading this newer one.

After my wonderful Monday, I knew I was ready for more. I had already mentioned to my counselor I see weekly that I might want to take advantage of the opportunity to show her Shannyn, as opposed to the DUDE she sees every week. My plan was to test the waters, and then decide for sure. After taking a break on Tuesday (I was tired, probably all the adrenaline of Monday wore off), on Wednesday morning I texted my counselor to say I'd see her later, and that I would look "a bit different".

Different is definitely how I looked. I wore the outfit I had been hanging onto since "Wednesday". Plus my secret weapon, the new cardigan sweater. Again I struggled with eye makeup, but I got it done. I had all day to get ready, since I was working from home. I casually bathed, shaved and got ready slowly throughout the day. So, when the time came, I was ready.

Or ALMOST ready. This is pretty funny, and I could've been mortified when I realized it, but I just laughed. In getting all the girl aspects ready as best I could, I neglected one thing that I do everyday, regardless of gender: I FORGOT TO PUT ON DEODORANT!!! Oh. My. Goodness. LOL. Luckily, I was very clean and didn't sweat. Nothing was getting to me this day. The session was only an hour. Lots of AC in the car. Could only happen to me, I swear.

Anyyyywayyy...made the long drive to the counseling office. Just me time. Listened to pop music the whole way. Just as I was getting there, heard the somewhat-old song "Smile" by Vitamin C. Anyone remember that one? Here ya go. That one reminded me that to present myself best, to approach "passing", I needed to smile and appear confident. I was happy, and I was confident, so I smiled. No fear. SOOOOO exhilarating!! When I reached the point of no return (too far from home to turn back without missing the session and paying the full cost of missing without notice), that was a cool moment. It was happening.

The next best part was climbing the set of stairs to the second-floor office. It was a different but great feeling as my legs ascended the steps and swished against my denim skirt. That was pretty cool. Girls, you know what I mean if you've ever done that. I went into the office's little waiting area and sat confidently until my counselor came out to get me.

Turns out she had been doing a small group or family session right before mine, I think with another counselor too. So several people came out of the door, not just a couple. I figured there would be someone there besides her, since there usually is. They left fairly quickly, so I didn't get a chance to engage. I think I would've had the chance been there. I respect folks' privacy, so didn't say anything. I just smiled.

My counselor greeted me just as always. She didn't act any differently, and really we didn't focus on my appearance in the session. We did talk about how I'd gotten the courage to come as Shannyn, etc., so there was a focus on it that way. The thing that struck me part way through was this felt all so NORMAL. I mean, she's professional, so we don't exactly exchange fashion tips anyway, so there was no comment either way on whether I looked good or bad or ugly. It was just the regular conversation, and I think that was good.

That was basically it for the night. I did hit the Mickey D's drive through on the way home, partly for the experience, partly because I was hungry!

So, what are the takeaways from this experience? After a couple days to reflect, I think the ideas of Monday's outing were reinforced. I was OK with myself, the way we all should be. It's sometimes an elusive feeling, especially when you aren't "normal". The ability to sit and talk with another human being, dressed as I feel I want to be, was very rewarding. She is paid to listen to me, and is a professional, but I think had it been the terrible thing that fear tells you it can be, I'd have noticed SOMETHING to detract from the experience.

I guess that's the biggest thing. The same person that has been to see her every week was the same one that she saw this week. Except maybe this week there was more happiness. I can't wait until next time to see how she perceived me. That was a goal, to see what she thought about my demeanor, etc. I purposely didn't ask her anything about that time. Bottom line, I felt like ME. A happy me. I knew I was in there. And I want to not be stuck inside so much anymore. I can achieve.

The sub-title of this blog is "A tale about discovering. About hoping. About striving. And hopefully, about achieving." With that in mind, let me take a quick inventory based on these two incredible days:

discovering - ✅. definitely learned a lot.
hoping - ✅. some hopes became actualized.
striving - ✅. I reached out, with the determination we all have inside, and got where I wanted to go.
achieving - ✅✅✅✅✅. I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Cardigan as Cape

This post might be a tad long. A lot has gone on this week, and as much as I will try to not go overboard with details, I suspect I will go overboard with the details.

I've been at home alone since Sunday, and will be until this coming Sunday (I'm writing this on Thursday). Given this extremely rare bit of free time, I've had some activity that I consider seismic. Now, I haven't cured cancer or won a million dollars or experienced an actual earthquake, but my ground has been SHAKEN. In a very good way.

On Monday, I got myself together in full Shannyn regalia, including a new wig, and went in my car, in daylight, to a CVS pharmacy about 10-15 minutes from my house. I needed to go somewhere where I wouldn't be recognized by anyone I know (I don't know that many people, but still). The goal was simple. Leave the house looking like NOT A DUDE, enter a building that was NOT MY HOUSE, and interact with someone who I did not know. I had never done that before. I almost typed "have never done this before", but I can no longer say that. WOOHOO!!

I originally intended to do this on Sunday, but I aborted the attempt. I just had to go back through a conversation I had with a friend in text to remember why, since somehow I blocked it out of my mind. I had decided I wanted to try this pink nail polish from Sally Hansen. Pretty pink color I thought. The application of it went horribly, and now I remember similar polish of that type that didn't do well either. It was one of those Insta-Dry types, and I guess that consistency is tougher to paint with, maybe.

After doing my toes, I got frustrated with the look, and as I am one to do, I let my fears use that as an excuse to just stop for the day. I could have perservered, but I didn't. It's an issue I have often; I don't deal with adversity all that well. So, sadly, I wallowed in that for a few hours before slowly coming out of it, but it got too late in the day. I did manage to repaint my toes in my best red polish. That went much better, and boosted my spirits before bed.

I managed to wake up ready to try again on Monday. It was a workday, but I got home early and got myself ready. Denim capri pants, black blouse and tan sandals with my red toes and new blonde wig. It came together really well. The mountain to climb was makeup. Since I rarely get to practise, I'm very terrible at it. Eye makeup at least. I had a hard time getting the liquid eyeliner on right, and dealing with smudges wasn't easy. At one point, I stopped and had a moment. This was adversity, and I could have easily aborted again right there. Somehow, I didn't. That might have been the biggest thing about all this. I didn't let that stop me this time.

The last part of the emsemble was a light grey cardigan. I had known I wanted one to make any outfit work better, and help conceal any flaws I saw in my body. Not much I could do about my face, LOL. On this Monday, I finally bought the sweater online and picked it up in store at Kohl's, my favorite store, during a work break. I have since come to see that cardigan as something akin to a cape that a super hero would wear. It seems silly, but my confidence went up when I put that on. I didn't have to worry about my capris showing something they shouldn't, or my top not being long enough. Neither actually was the case, but I knew I'd be moving around and this just made me feel safe. Strong. Secure. Invincible. Able to leap tall buildings in a single....well, not quite that.

Oh yes, this post is long. I'm gonna break into two posts. So, once satisfied that I looked "ok" (somehow I told myself I had done my best, and it was ok, and that getting out was the goal anyway), I got into my car in the garage, away from any neighbor eyes, and I drove out of my neighborhood and away from home. I can remember coming to a stop sign and making eye contact with a guy as he made a right turn before I could get out. I owned it. He probably didn't even see me, but maybe he did. I didn't care.

I got to CVS and parked. Got my hair brush out of my purse, made sure the hair looked ok (need to work on keeping it out of my face, that's such a new sansation), lipstick looked ok, and out of the car I popped. I went into the store, and I can't say I was in there very long. Maybe 5 minutes, tops. I grabbed a few junk food items as my "reward", including a Cherry Coke that was warm in their fridge for some reason, and went to the counter. The girl who was working mentioned how another little fridge at the counter had a colder Coke, so I said thanks and exchanged the one I had. I pulled the cash out of my little ladies' wallet, and made the purchase. I made sure to attempt eye contact as a means of not giving myself away, but the girl didn't reciprocate. Maybe she was disgusted, maybe she is as shy as I am. Anyway, I said thank you again, and left.

Both going to, and heading home, I kept looking in the rearview mirror at myself. I couldn't get the grin off my face. The joy was palpable. I had done the impossible. I know in typing this post, I'm not giving the feelings justice. You would need to understand what a closeted trans person feels day-to-day, unable to present as she wants, the fear of doing so, and the determination needed to break those negative thoughts and emotions. Some of you reading this know exactly what I mean.

For now, that's the story of Monday. More happened Wednesday that was even better. I will get to that, I promise. I hope that anyone who reads this gets something out of it. I hope that my experience shows that if your heart needs something, then you CAN overcome the negativity and fear and get what you want, no matter what it is. Overcoming obstacles is often not easy at all. I don't know that I knew I'd ever get to this point, and it's really a TINY step, but oh so meaningful for me. I'm different now, and I LIKE IT.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Impulsive

I can remember Christmas, 1990. I had thought I was thinking about 1989, but turns out I was wrong. Don't trust memories folks...Google it! Anyway, that was the year I got my first CD player and CDs. My brother was still on cassettes. That year, he received the first Wilson Phillips album on cassette. I had no idea who they were. I didn't follow pop music at all. All I knew was I didn't like this GUY Wilson Phillips because I had seen the record charts and he was keeping Don Henley out of the top spots. Henley I knew because I had recently turned on the Eagles. So, to me its funny I thought the Wilson Phillips GROUP was actually a solo act and was a guy.

That's just a silly little story. What's it got to do with the theme of this blog, so many years later? I'll tell you what. One word: Impulsive. Song #3 on that Wilson Phillips album. Recently, I've been thinking of my actions in terms of the degree of impulsiveness I had going at the time.

A recent example of "good impulsive" was when I bought a new skirt that I had not been looking for. It just was there as I was in the store that day. As with a lot of shopping when you aren't "out", it consisted of seeing something as you semi-quickly walk through the women's section, leaving the store, thinking on it and going back later to get it. That's often how it goes with me, anyway, although I'm learning to relax more and just shop. Depends on the level of bravery I have at any given moment.

With this skirt, I left it the first day because it was midday and there were lots of shoppers. I went back early the next day because I knew the store would be less crowded, tried the skirt on, found out that, while I liked it, they didn't have my size. Being a chain store, I then went online and found one in my size at another store, ordered it and picked it up that same day. Gotta love technology sometimes!

When I was driving back after getting the skirt, I was talking to my friend and we were talking about how to make this an outfit. That whole exercise, and the purchase itself, were just FUN. I can remember saying in the moment, there is just no denying that I enjoy this. Later, I thought, gosh that was IMPULSIVE. But I loved that it had been. I described all this to my counselor later, and she said I was more CALCULATED than impulsive, at least in this instance. Interesting.

On the flip side, this week I meant to go to the gym before work on Monday, but didn't make it because I just wasn't feeling it in the morning after a tough weekend. I then decided I would go AFTER work. When that time came from, I'm in the car, and come to where I either go right toward the gym, or left towards home. Impulsively, I decide to skip the gym and head home. That's what I call a BAD impulse. Bad impulse #1, as #2 came as I got closer to home and decided to eat fast food. Ugh. So not only did I not exercise, I ate junk. Like I say, bad impulse. My counselor said that I was just trying to be good to myself at the time. I'm not sure I buy that. I wish I had gone to the gym.

Back to the song. This morning it came up on my playlist when I was in the car. You'll note many of my posts have or will come from songs. I think it's healthy to use songs as ways to process your thoughts. I listened to the song, and paid attention to the lyrics. I have heard the song a hundred times, so I basically knew what it was about. While it doesn't exactly fit my recent thinking, since it's about love and not just life, I still think some lyrics stand out:

"I don't wanna think about it,
don't wanna think clear, don't analyze what I'm doing here.
Wanna be impulsive, reckless...."

This is right on the money for me. I want to have that thrill and JOY of the good impulsive act more often. Don't overthink things. See ball, hit ball. I thought the word "analyze" was used well in thar line, too. More lyrics:

"This is not like me to follow my heart so easily.
I am reckless, impulsive."

And there's this one:

"Acting on the moment, it's spontaneous."

I think I'm headed in the right direction in my life (most of the time I think that), and while I love the idea of RECKLESS, I'm apparently too calculated to let that really happen. At least I think so. I want to experience things the way I want them, not how others want me to experience them, or not experience them at all. And I want to have less of the "bad impulsive" moments. I've been working on staying calm in times of turmoil, so hopefully that can become a new norm, where I don't just do something detrimental, even something as small as eating out versus exercising.

I am stuck on the GOOD IMPULSIVE part of me. It was thrilling. I want more of that. Think about it. Maybe you want it, too.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Don't Worry, He Said. Be Happy, He Said.

Strange day today, so I will type my way through it. Maybe.

Had a good day yesterday, and woke up feeling positive. Made it to work, and started the day. Then, started to notice my mood shifting. Nothing work-related, that I can tell. Maybe a slow day can be bad for someone like me. I dunno.

I've been kinda just doing my thing most of the day, and have a couple hours to go. I don't feel down, but definitely not up either. Stuck in the middle. Weird.

Friends have been sweet to me this morning, and I feel much love for them. I do feel appreciated by them. I'm certainly blessed in that way. I must be doing something right. These people don't seem otherwise insane, so I guess they like me.

What is my deal, then? The dysphoria is there, as always. Often, it's kinda like trying to paddle upstream. You might make a little progress, but you might slip back. Often, you hold your position. As I try to figure stuff out, and where the future goes from here, I'm having to learn patience. I've mentioned this before. Don't hurry...but don't wait.

The other thing I'm having to learn is to worry less, and do more. That's the trick. How does a person not worry when they are constantly aware that they don't fit into their situation? When you feel like your every move is potential disaster? How do you sit back and say, "it's all good"?

You (and by you, I mean you and definitely ME) don't worry, at least you keep it to a minimum, because it is such a WASTE. You aren't accomplishing anything by sitting and worrying. You should instead (and by you, I mostly mean ME) take on the issues. If you don't succeed, you actually did succeed, because you didn't do nothing. Failure can be a stepping stone to success.

A couple hours ago, while listening to music, good ole Bobby McFerrin came up at random. Unless it wasn't random. I definitely didn't purposely find and play the song. In any event, I heard it. Such a catchy little ditty from thirty years ago. OMG, 30 YEARS AGO.

This song still works today. Listen to this song (link HERE). The lyrics are so simple and so true.

"In every life we have some trouble
But when you worry you make it doubleDon't worry, be happy"

No way I'm going to try to top that. Be well. Love someone. Love yourself, too.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Pretending

I swear I must lead the league in contradictions.

Here's the latest one: I am a trans-person/former (current?) crossdresser who HATES Halloween.

Wrap your head around that, if that's even possible. Halloween is the one day of the year where people like me are FREE. Almost anyone can justify dressing as the opposite gender (females dress as males too, ya know) on Halloween. So, why do I detest it so?

This idea just hit me like a ton of bricks as I was talking to someone about role-play. It was mentioned that I don't enjoy doing that, which is true. As part of my response regarding why I don't enjoy it (not online at least; there's a difference), I made the comment, "I already have to pretend to be a man."

In the past, in the same situation, I have stated that I was already playing a role, that of a woman which physically I am not, not yet anyway. And as such, I didn't like adding another layer to the disguise. Maybe that seems like I'm just no fun. That could be true, also. But I caught myself today responding to the same question in the way I described above. Which popped into my head the idea about Halloween.

I think I'm trying to psycho-analyze myself as I write this, and so if I get anything out of it, as usual I hope someone who reads this will also. I don't remember why I started to really hate Halloween. Hate is a strong word; I don't use it often, but it kinda fits here. I just know that, one year I dressed up in a kid costume, super hero or something innocent, went around and trick-or-treated, and then the next year my parents couldn't pry me out of the house with a crowbar. I wish I knew what age that was. Maybe I should ask my mom what she remembers about it. They fought me on this for two or three years till they gave up and I got too old, I guess.

Every year from there on, I hated that day. Wanted no part of it. November 1st was probably my third favorite day of the year (after Christmas and my birthday: IN THAT ORDER). I can remember hiding at my grandmother's house when other kids would come and collect their candy. I remember after it was over getting candy from my family just handed to me. That probably didn't help me get over not liking the ritual of dressing for Halloween, but I digress.

Fast-forward to about 11 or 12 years ago. My own kids are on the scene now, but very small. I tried to get past my own hang-ups and participate in Halloween with them. At the time, I was dressing in women's clothes at home a little, tolerated by my wife. That has come back to haunt me, but I digress again. Somehow, I had the idea that maybe I could cure my fear of Halloween by dressing up and going trick-or-treating with my family. I could relax, have fun, and overcome this long-standing obstacle.

What to dress as? Well, of course, a woman. And so, helped by my wife, I got together an outfit that was kinda cute as I recall, and we went to a friend's house. Trick-or-treated, had a very small party. With me dressed as a girl the whole time. I loved it.

Anddddd....it never happened again. Somehow, I tumbled back into my shell, didn't ever dress up again, and so on. I did help drive the kids around as they did their thing eah year. But, I didn't like it much. Maybe not hated like before, but it was definitely a toleration thing, not a relaxed, have fun kunda thing.

So, today as I recall all this, I wonder: what the heck was it that make me do a 180 on Halloween? What is lost to my conscious memory about it? Did it have anything to do with my dysphoria? I'm pretty sure it happened before I was like ten, and therefore before my starting to dress. Does my dysphoria go back further than age 11-12? Do I just want to believe it did? Would that add to my self-perceived credibility of whether I am really transgendered at all?

These are questions to ponder, for sure. Whether it helps me, I have no idea. I find expressing these things in words is helpful, so this post is not a wasted effort. I need to write about my "origins" soon, so this post maybe leads into that.

So, there you have it: a chunk of the reason I'm not that big on pretending. Size of chunk yet to be determined.

As always, I would love to hear what others think. Does any of my experience resonate at all, either from today or previous posts? Am I just a crazy, messed up person? What do you think? Let's share. It would do me some good. Might do you some good also. Until next time........

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Neutral...is progress

I've been holding off on writing a new entry here. I haven't quite known what to say, so I've held off. I recognize today, however, that I ought to write something, else too much gets bottled up inside.

How to write a positive blog post when things aren't necessarily positive? The same way it's possible to have positive thoughts. I mean, a blog post, a diary if you will, is just thoughts expressed via a keyboard or pen and paper.

I was approached this week by a university grad student about my story for a paper she is writing on transgendered people and their journey. About how they started of course, but with a focus on what has happened in the actual transition, in terms of hiding from society for a time, that in-between time anyone transitioning would have to get through, as well as what their present looks like. I was excited to be considered, and found out all about it. It wasn't meant to be, since I am only THEORETICALLY trans (my term), and wouldn't be able to answer many of the questions on this lady's list.

Maybe that's the topic here as the words flow from my fingers. I know there are many theoretical transpeople out there. Probably more than physical, transitioned trans people. What is that like? What do we do when we live in the "in-between"? Many of us may never progress beyond what we have now. Some will be ok with that, some won't. Can you live with neutral progress?

Where I am with things is exploration. Semi-aggressive exploration with the occasionally-dipped toe. Or just polished toes. I digress. I ask a million questions every day, and read a fair amount. I think it's leading somewhere, and it is. Other than the thinking INSIDE though, there is neutral progress outside. Due to several factors, maybe this is as far as I get. Maybe I learn to live with myself the way I am. Maybe I use my own experience to help others in some way.

Or maybe things EXPLODE and I become radically different. On the outside. Gender dysphoria, in my mind, was always the idea that one should have been born with the opposite sexual characteristics than they were, and having that longing to bring the inside and the outside together. I never felt that as kid. Still don't, really. MY gender dysphoria is in the fact that the things I want to DO would be much better and easily done were I to look like a female. At least I think so.

I love women's clothes. And shoes. And jewelry. And accessories. And makeup. I just do, always have. Always will. I want access to that stuff. These are the things that take up my waking time, when I don't even realize it. Always looking for something shiny to feel happy. It's not that I have to have shiny in order to be happy, but it couldn't hurt. The idea of working out the dysphoria is more in that I want to have the access I mention, but in such a way that I just blend in. I'm not looking to shock anyone.

I guess maybe that "blend in" thing is still a part of conforming to society. That's bad. And it's good. I don't have the personality to be a rebel. Even though I kinda am, accidentally. I didn't make myself this way. It just is what it is. So, after so so long, I'm trying to go with it.

To wrap it up, I suppose I can say I am ok with my neutral progress at this time. What I am learning hasn't turned into anything you can really see yet, but it is there. Even without a transition, per se, at least not yet, I can consider myself trans. It makes sense. You can't have a male body and think the way I do, like the things I do, without being trans. Can you? That's a legit question.

Thanks for reading. Please comment if you can. Answer the question above. Tell me I'm a delusional crazy person. It will only feed my neutral progress, and lead to forward progress, hopefully.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Just Go

I don't have a particular title for today's post. If, by the time I get to the end of it I have something clever, I'll change it. For now it's just musings.

I was just thinking, wouldn't it be interesting to reach a point where I was so used to wearing my feminine clothes that I forget about it altogether. Everything right now is either guys' or girl's'. My shirts are guys'. My jeans can be either. My shoes are girls'. And so on. I wonder will I reach the point someday that it doesn't even occur to me to think about what gender's clothes I'm wearing. At that time, will it just because of me, or society as a whole, i.e. genderless.

Genderless will be a long way off, I believe. Not likely in my lifetime. And how far I get, who knows. I'm still in the infant stages, even though I've been wearing women's clothes for over 30 years, off and on. The steps are small, but seem to happen a bit quicker now.

I think things are happening because I finally just want them to. I'm not as afraid of it. Right now, my living situation is in limbo, in terms of who is and isn't living with me. It seems I will have much more freedom at some point in the not-so-distant future. Which sucks and is exciting at the same time. I'm allowed to feel both those things, right??

I think ahead, and see my entering the real world as Shannyn as just a matter of time. It's not a matter of IF anymore. I'm going to get my chance to see what it really feels like. It may scare the crap out of me. I hope not. A dear friend who is transitioning gave simple advice recently, saying, "you've got to get out. somewhere small, like a coffee shop. see how you like it". That was it. No big production. Just go. It could be for 5 minutes. That's what I want to do now. Just go. Ok, I'm changing the title of the post.

If you read this, and at all can, take a moment to comment. I so desire feedback from others like me. I've got great friends online, and they encourage me. I'd really like to know what people think of what I have to say and share. Even if it's bad. Well, easy on the bad stuff. Please though, reach out.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Don't Wait...Also Don't Hurry

I wrote this yesterday, before things fell apart. Boy, did I see something coming. But why waste a positive message....

I'm not sure if it's just my nature, or something about me that constantly comes out when I consider ideas, or anything, really. I find myself often thinking after I respond to someone, "You always give one answer, but hedge for the opposite answer". Something like that. For instance, if someone were to ask me what I think of their shoes (this rarely happens, to my chagrin; I was born to give opinions on clothing and shoes). I'm likely to take a look, and give my opinion. In what is hopefully a helpful way, even if the shoes don't work. "Those are nice shoes, I love the color and style. But, I can see where others might think they don't look good on you at all. Go with whatever you think, don't worry about what others think".

I seem to always have that thing like "on the other hand..."

Right now, I wanted to write something because I feel quite positive. Earlier, it was less so, and who knows what I'll be like later today. The reason I titled this post as I did was to frame it in such a way to illustrate how I feel right now. My mind is constantly thinking of ways, small and not-so-small, of feeling better mentally and psychically. Making Shannyn come alive! I've been thinking about hair care, and other things like either medical treatments for hormones, or even herbal. All over the place.

I saw yet again that phrase about how you eat an elephant: "one bite at a time" (Thanks, Tanya!). I saw it in article about switching careers, which I'd love to do one day. I guess I am happy because, whereas often I would get so bogged down by the various mountains to climb, or elephants to eat, that I'd get down or just feel like it was hopeless. This same article talked about looking for "little yesses", or experiences that get you down inside to where you can recognize that it felt good. And how each little yes can maybe lead to other yesses, and maybe something significant in the future.

What I took from all that, as I've been working on in my life in general, is to not worry about right now. What's the worst that can happen? Most of the time, nothing too horrible. So, I can do something, or just think something, and maybe it's cool, and maybe nothing comes from it. What have I lost if the upside, in the immediate, is only a little yes? Nothing much.

I suppose what I'm getting at is that I don't need to hurry to change everything all at once, or in a hurry. Some things might never change at all. And I CAN be ok with that. At least, that's how I feel about it now. See how I just did that? I can be ok, but on the other hand.....LOL.

The other end of things that often plagues me is that, in my search to not bite off more than I can chew, to slow down so as to not get overwhelmed, what happens if I am taking my foot off the peddle too much, too often? Should I be concerned that I'm not doing enough to affect the changes I want? Is my non-aggressive personality still harming me, just in a different way?

The answer to that is, I haven't a clue. It seems that it's a delicate balance, one that we all lie with all the time. I don't think the answer can ever be known 100%. When I write here, I speak in first person. I'm talking about me. Some of what I am realizing might be so painfully obvious that someone who reads it, and they think I'm just a very dense, stunned person. BUT ON THE OTHER HAND....and this is my hope, maybe someone reads this and recognizes something of themselves in it, and maybe it turns into their own "little yes".

Sharing really is caring, and I care a great deal. About more than just me. BUT, maybe I care too much. See what I did there??? HAHA. I wish you all well till my next ramblings.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Going Home

Right now, I am on a short trip back home to where I was born, grew up, and spent the first half of my life. It's an interesting experience, since I feel much more aware of myself than ever before, and see all the influences I had growing up. Environment definitely shapes a person.

In many ways, it's like riding a bike, being here, even though it's been nine years since I was here last. I can drive some places without GPS, which is cool. Seeing relatives is nice, and even though I'm introverted, I can deal with all the personalities pretty well. It's enjoyable, for sure. I'm away from the pressures of being who I am at home and at work for just a few days.

It has dawned on me though, that even here, I feel out of place. Being who I am inside is compounded by time away, and also the fact this is a very small town, as opposed to the huge city I usually navigate every day. There is that feeling of not living an authentic life, and makes me long to become more authentic. I feel that coming on, but for now, it's almost all locked in my head. I'm wondering when someone might ask about my shaved legs, though it is likely no one will.

Once when my family came to visit me, I was sitting next to my brother, and I had my arms smooth at the time. He noticed and asked if I shaved my arms. I admitted to it, though I probably gave some dumb excuse for why. My arms are only trimmed down right now (an act of marital compromise I'm not sure is appreciated), but my legs are freshly smooth like I want them. I wonder if I would be any more courageous giving a reason why now, if asked. If even I just said, "I like them this way, I don't like being hairy", that's a step in the right direction.

The other thing of interest comes after talking with my brother and mother just this morning. The topics were varied, and came around to accepting others like immigrants, or gay people, etc. My mother, who says she likes to laugh at life and not take things too seriously, yet actually takes things very seriously (yup, I'm like her AAAAHHHHHHH!!!!), mentioned a native North American person who is transgendered. I was expecting her to say that the person was ostracized by his people, but she mentioned how she (I think it's a MTF situation) is actually treated special by her people, and is referred to as "two-spirited". I have read about that, and as my mother said, I think that is very, very amazing.

In that talk, it went through my head: maybe I should tell her, and have an advocate in my family. But, I can't trust that she would walk the talk if it turned out to be her oldest son. I'm not yet there in terms of taking such a risk. Ah, a girl can dream. One day, maybe.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The "Road To Happiness"

This morning, I discovered a new song (actually, two new songs) by an artist I have gratitated towards over the past few years. I don't tend to like a lot of newer music, so maybe it's the fact that Cam (Camaron Ochs) is so darn cute and spunky that has helped get me hooked. I'm sure she'd rather be known for her music, so I add the fact that I really dig her songwriting as the reason I enjoy her songs. It certainly is why I'm writing this post today.

In 2015, Cam came kinda out of nowhere with her song "Burning House" and wound up nominated for a Grammy. Somewhere along the way, I heard the song, and admittedly, got swept up by her brilliant blonde, curly hair and incredible smile, and checked out more of her music. I know people aren't supposed to mention looks in 2018, but I am. It's a compliment, and I really hope she wouldn't mind.

Back to today. In my twitter feed (guy-side twitter), there was a post about a new song by Cam. The article that went with the song mentioned it being a ballad with great lyrics. So, unlike most posts that I see like that, I actually wanted to hear the song and see if it was good. I do want to get turned on to new music. Who knows why we gravitate towards certain people and not others? Doesn't matter. If I didn't like Cam's songs and songwriting, I'd have likely passed this one by, like so many others. So glad I didn't!

Cam's new song is called "Road To Happiness". Very apropos for me, and I'm sure many others. It's an elusive thing, happiness, and that's kinda the theme of the song. It resonated with me, since I'm kinda committed to finding new happiness within the framework of my true self. Musically, it's kind of a sweet, haunting song. A surprising combination, I can't really describe it. It certainly works with the lyrics. And the lyrics are what are on my mind right now.

I'm going to put some of the lyrics here, and give an idea of how they hit me. I'll also post a link to a short interview Cam did recently, that has me excited about her next album.

"Be careful who you hang around; beliefs are sticky things
Stick on your shoes and on your soul, rearrange your dreams
Get so good at climbin' you stop askin' where it leads
On this road to happiness"

I am ever-mindful these days about the company I keep. And don't keep. I genuinely feel like there are some influences that haven't been good for me, which is terribly sad to realize. Beliefs can really stick to you. I'm not even talking religious beliefs, and I'm not sure Cam is either. I think she's talking more about perspective and philosophy of life. When she says "rearrange your dreams", that sounds like: people can really mess up your happy if you aren't careful.

The second half of the chorus that comes next has these lines:

"Is the future that we're chasin'
Worth the right-nows that we miss
On this road to happiness?"

I think this is the part that has me wondering the most. I've tried to start working on myself to not worry about the future so much, and find contentment and happiness RIGHT NOW. There are days that are really hard to get through, and I know I can't handle trying to solve the whole future. I think I need to solve the immediate future, also known as TODAY. What good is planning tomorrow if you can't make it there? And yet....as I try to find the new me, the best me, I wonder whether I have the right amount of balance between there here-and-now, and the bigger picture, the "road" if you will. I guess there is no way to know for sure. We all do the best we can.

I think Cam's second verse in this song is very poignant, as she wonders how much other living things handle the now/later balance, the stuff we want and need versus the baggage that can come along with it:

"I'm takin' time to ask myself just where I wanna be
Does the flower growin' in the ground worry just like me
Or does he love the sun so much that he don't mind the weeds
On this road to happiness?"

We know that flowers don't worry. They don't feel or think. And yet, they are where they are. Is that by complete accident? The flower needs two things: the sun, as Cam mentions, and water. Very basic. The flower cannot be concerned with the weeds that grow around it. It doesn't know that the weed is a danger to it's ability to get that sun and water. It grows as it will, striving for both; above ground and below. For people who worry too much, there's something to be admired in an entity that doesn't worry. Doesn't feel. We are stuck with feelings, and I for one wouldn't want it to be otherwise. The point might be that, if we are going to feel, let's feel the things that can be positive and beneficial. Strive towards the sun, avoid the weeds.

Here's the article I mentioned. Her earlier 2018 song, "Diane" is fantastic, too, especially if you remember the old song, "Jolene": https://uproxx.com/music/cam-sophomore-album-diane-interview/

Full lyrics for "Road To Happiness" can be seen here: https://genius.com/Cam-road-to-happiness-lyrics

I'm off to download these two songs. Thanks for reading. Hugs!!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Dreams

This week, I was asked what I would do if there were no limitations or restrictions on me. No worry about judgement or rejection. Having not had time to think about it beforehand, I don't believe I gave a very good answer.

It's funny. I'm not sure I allow myself to really dream much anymore. And I need to change that. I have lots of hopes, but what are the dreams? What is it, specifically, that I wish was true and different about me, or the people around me?

One thing I dream about is a day where I don't need to worry about what the people in my house think were they to see, or if they see, my femininity expressed. The mere act of shaving my body, or using products on my skin, or even dressing for the day in underwear I enjoy better is fraught with peril. If I am in the bathroom getting ready, my wife could walk in at any second. And I just don't need the looks or judgement. I suppose I need to get past that part. So, I dream I get past that part.

Lately, I've been daydreaming more and more about adding on to the feminine things I wear to work. I work in a nice office building where things are very casual in my company. I see plenty of ladies walking around looking nice in great dresses, or pant outfits, or even just casual with jeans and nicely accessorized blouses. I so want to add accessories like bracelets and cute belts, things like that. I'm obsessed with ladies' jeans. They feel so much better than guy jeans.

Oh, and I really want to get my ears pierced again. I had them a long time ago, but let it go with my kids being little, not to mention the silly notion that giving up trying to be feminine was the right thing to do. Nowadays, I go eat at the food court at the mall for lunch sometimes, and Claire's is right there. That's where I had my ears pierced years ago, and I so want to go in one day and come out with the starter studs, at least.

I know it's all part of the journey, and I'm learning patience. As great as it would be to wear a great dress with amazing heels, or just a skirt and blouse outfit, that will take more time. I need to keep not only myself and my family in mind, but my job. I can't just show up looking completely different. My company professes to be trans-friendly, but in being pretty new there and unproven, can I really trust in their public stance? I figure I could easily be let go for trans-related reasons and have it be written up as job-related. This is something all trans women need to keep in mind, I think.

I suppose maybe the biggest dream of all right now is just more courage and strength to see through what I want. Gosh, I haven't even mentioned having smoother skin, a better-proportioned body through help of hormones, or anything like that. Being able to utilize my own hair, could that ever happen? The possibilities seem endless, but I am trying to be realistic too. It's a balance between going for it and being patient. As the song says (Faith Hill's "The Secret Of Life"), the secret is to not hurry, but don't wait. That line sticks with me so much.

To end for today, thank you to anyone who has read my posts so far. I hope it's interesting and relatable to you. I really would love to hear more from others. What are your dreams? Doesn't even have to be trans-related. Keep hoping, and keep dreaming.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Amanda

If you know me, you know that country music is a major passion of mine. It's been ingrained into me from the start. My whole family leaned towards that type of music, it seemed. My oldest uncle was a big Johnny Cash fan, from what I hear. My cousin that I grew up with ended up a country DJ, and I would be around when he would practice for being on the radio.

And my mother, well, she is a major music nut. It's definitely one of the few things we bond over. She likes different kinds of music, from 50s and 60s pop right through the 70s. It's her era, and many of us tend to continue to like the era of our youth. And of course, like the rest of the family, on that side at least, she has always liked country as well.

Which brings me to Amanda. What do you think of that name? I've always thought it was a pretty name, quite feminine. I decided to learn more about it. I do have a reason. I didn't pull it out of thin air.

I looked at two websites that I ought to give credit to, instead of just stealing their content:

https://www.behindthename.com/name/amanda

https://www.buzzfeed.com/lyapalater/things-that-perfectly-describe-all-amandas?utm_term=.nwqVb3mm9#.aydJK6BBa

It seems Amanda comes from Latin (doesn't everything?), meaning "lovable, worthy of love". Pretty cool. Excellent sentiment. As for the supposed "things that describe all Amandas", I'm not so sure they don't describe people with all kinds of different names. Some of them even describe me. Some definitely wouldn't describe me, like the one about hitting snooze all the time. I don't even use an alarm.

Let me cut to the chase, for those who have hung in so far. I talked to my mother today, and during the course of the loooooooong conversation, it came around to baby names. My mom doesn't know anything about Shannyn yet. So I sensed in this conversation with her the chance to find out something I didn't know. Stealthily, I slid in the question about what my name would have been, had I been "a girl".

You may have by now guessed she told me it would have been Amanda. It's quite a thing to learn that, it seems. I'm not sure I really even wondered about it before. Here I am, completely choosing my female name with no insight other than just picking what I liked, and there was a ready-made name for me. I know many girls like me that have used the girl name they would've been given had they been born female. I guess I'm a little dense.

To tie in the country music part, my mom had chosen Amanda based on the old Waylon Jennings song. Very apropos, since that's one of my very favorite artists. And a great song. And so now I have this nugget rattling around my head. It makes me smile. I wonder, if I ever legally changed my name, should I utilize Amanda now? It sure is a pretty name. Mandy. Love it. No, I think I'm staying with Shannyn now. Fun to think about, though.

The funniest part about all this was hearing that she "just knew I was a boy", and didn't really even consider the possibility that I could be a girl. Wow, if she only knew how I have turned out. Inside, at least. I wish I knew ahead of time how she'd react to knowing what I have going on. Then the fear might not be so much for little ole "almost Amanda". I think I'm lovable, as the name suggests. I hope so, anyway.

Let me know what your parents would have named you if you'd been born the opposite sex. I'd love to hear about it. It's great fun to think of what might've been, but we mustn't ever dwell on it. Live here and now! Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

When Did You KNOW? When CAN You Know?

I suppose the title of this post applies to anything in life. There are things we see as complicated or just so far outside the norm (there's that word again) that we think they don't fit mould of everything else when it comes to discerning when we became aware of them in our lives.

When did you become aware of colors? Of the existence of danger? Sexual pleasure? LOVE? If you're an adult, you could easily lump these four things into the category of "long ago, when I was young". Would that be accurate, though?

I haven't done the research on any of this, but it seems to me that discerning the differences in color (if not being able to name the colors) would come pretty early on, as a baby even. As for danger, we know toddlers are fairly fearless when it comes to things like injuring themselves. Fear of not having comfort from mommy and daddy can come pretty early.

Sexual pleasure. We know that comes later, around the time of puberty. It takes many forms, of course, but that is more in gaining a physical ability to FEEL something, as opposed to an emotion like love. And of course, love takes on infinite meanings. You can love your parents because they keep you safe, you can love riding your bicycle, love playing a video game. These things happen at all different ages, especially love of another person outside of our own family. Safe to say the concept generally sets in pretty early life, love of SOMETHING.

So, we are talking about awareness: of things, emotions, people, STUFF. The focus of this post is awareness of GENDER. Again, no real science or research behind this, other than an informal poll I took of people I associate with online. The reason I did this harkens to my last post, around the concept of when a baby can be aware of gender, or even of when parents can recognize gender in their child. For most people, again, they would generally answer that it's "early on".

When it comes to WHO we are inside, when does that happen? And when are we aware of it ourselves? For the folks hosting the podcast I wrote about recently, it seems like it's a fragile ecosystem that must be protected heavily in the first few years of life. Certainly, the color green, as opposed to blue or pink, will ensure that if the child is going to be feminine, or male, then the outside world won't be able to influence that in the opposite direction. I feel a tad sarcastic typing that, but it does seem to be the view presented by some.

It's much more complicated than that, though, right? How does a child get from not being able to hold up it's own head to playing with toy trucks, or Barbie dolls? What's the progression? It does seem to me that it's HEAVILY influenced by the outside world. We can only play with the toys we are presented with. We only wear, when little, the clothes given to us. We have no control over that stuff. At some point, children see more choices, be it in a nursery, or preschool, or whatever. Then preferences start to emerge. How many of those choices are innate?

I feel myself wavering and inconclusive even as I write this post. If I am 43 and can't figure out whether a 3-year-old knows whether or not he/she is playing with boys or girls toys, or doing what boys or girls do, how can an actual child of that age know? If they can know, then yes, unless they have the ability to properly communicate to their caregivers their preferences, they might well fall into gender confusion or frustration. But if they don't yet make those connections, then does it matter what outside influences they receive at the time they receive them? Since they become memories to be recalled later, maybe so. But maybe not.

In the poll I conducted, I asked when, for those born with male gentalia, did they "know" they leaned toward the feminine? Here are the results to-date on that question:

Age in years        # of votes   % of total vote
0-5         9    11
6-10        23    28
11-20        26    32
20+        17    21
Still don't know 6     7

A little about the audience this question was presented to. This was posted on a site that caters to people that either don't, or are to some extent don't, fit 100% into the "norm" of male or female. There are so many labels and categories. Suffice it to say, the people who saw and had the opportunity to respond to this question don't define themselves as being in "the norm". That includes men attracted to non-genetic feminine-type persons, though the guys weren't the focus of the poll. Those men have a whole other perspective on these things, one I like to learn about also.

I wanted to see how many respondents would say they knew they were, for lack of a perfect term, "girls" at a very young age. Part of that is selfish, to get an idea how I compared to them in terms of age of awareness. The rest was in response to the podcast, to gain perspective on if the hosts stance (especially the transgendered host) were in the ballpark with their opinions versus this other group of folks. The results are unsurprisingly mixed.

One thing that sticks out is the interpretation of the question. I know at least one person responded in terms of when they first started to wear "girls clothes", rather than a feeling of some sort of dysphoria. I know others that are clearly in the camp of transgendered from a young age. I was caught off guard when I was told that this one particular person, born male, told her early grade school class that she wanted to be a mommy when she grew up, and got laughed at mercilessly, as kids will do. That stuck with me all day, and I had to ask her if I could share that here in some way. Kindly, she said yes. I also had a good friend not respond, telling me it's not so easy to pinpoint. That in itself is as response of sorts. I respect that.

We can see that the majority of persons answered to the older age ranges. We might attribute part of that to the fact that many of us don't have actual memories for most of that 0-5 range. That actually might be a clue to the overall premise here. I was surprised at the number that chose 6-10, though I shouldn't haven't been, having interacted with so many of these people over the years. It does seem to become evident a lot during the pre-pubescent years, often when people look back at their younger selves.

Personally, I was in the 11-20 category when I became aware of anything. Notice I didn't say "knew". I'm not sure I "knew" until the past few years when I finally accepted that I'm just not going to fit into the male "box" very well. I'm very sure some of the reasons for my own 30-year gap is due to the influences of the world, the attempts to fit in, and not wanting to disappoint those who saw me one way and not another. It's beneficial to me to learn the stories of others. It helps me to "know" more.

To try to wrap this up in a green ribbon (so as to not influence anyone), I think the point is that we all walk a different path, with many commonalities and many differences. So I can't really come across as being in favor of the people in the story from the podcast, or against. I heard first-hand the opinion of the hosts, but I haven't walked their path. I heard second-hand the opinion of the older woman who didn't understand the actions of the young couple. I can only guess at her path, and that only since I am of a similar age, presumably. I didn't hear the reasoning of the young couple at all. And I sure didn't hear from the baby.

Maybe sincerity, caring, and curiosity should be what counts in navigating a topic such as this. Or indeed any topic. I find it interesting that the thoughts I have about something that ties to the idea of gender so closely can apply to just about any other topic that humans face, deal with, and try to understand. Gee, maybe that's because I'm HUMAN, just like everybody else, no matter the toys I play with or the clothes I wear.