And we Prayed

It’s been a super stressful morning. We’re all still in various stages of shock about what happened in Orlando. And the truth is, it’s especially painful after the events leading up to it that have affected the LGBT and most recently the T.
 
I decided to go for a bike ride and just loose myself as I weaved through the streets and bike paths of Houston.
 
And as the rain clouds started moving closer and I wondered if I would get totally drenched, I noticed a guy resting on one of the bridges.
 
About 5 feet away from him was a large wooden cross with a pack strapped to it, and some wheels affixed to it’s base.
 
I recognized this as one of those people who travel around carrying a cross and I thought to myself, I wonder where he’s been and where he’s going.
 
He waved as I passed and I continued on.
 
on my return trip I passed him again. This time resting about a mile away from his previous stop sitting under a railroad bridge, his cross leaning about 20 feet away and his head tilted down with a dog at his feet.
 
I continued on, and this time he didn’t notice, but, I got down the path a little ways and I thought to myself.
 
Maybe I should stop, maybe I should talk to this guy, so, I turned around, road the half mile back and introduce myself.
 
His name was Stephen. His dog’s name was Ranger. He was traveling from El Paso and making his way through Houston. He carries the cross a few miles gets a ride back to his truck, then brings his truck back to his location and finds a hotel to spend the night.
 
We talked a little, and I asked him if he had any problems. He said yes, with religious spirits. I asked what he meant, and he gave an example of people who told him Jesus didn’t die on a cross, but died on a stake.
 
He said, it’s not the point. The point is he died for our sins.
 
I know that some of you aren’t Christian, and that’s totally ok. But, the point of this story is that there is a story of love that often gets overwhelmed by the details.
 
We talked a little more, and I told him I needed to get going, and he asked if we could pray together.
 
I agreed.
 
He asked what we should pray for, and I said the people in Orlando.
 
So, there, we were, a man, a dog, a huge wooden cross, and a transgender woman under the railroad tracks next to the Bayou between two thunderstorms….
 
And we prayed.
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He Sent a Tree

Being a Christian and transgender can cause a lot of conflicts in our understanding of life and God.
As we go through our transition we question our identity, and we question our relationship with God.
We’re human, and transition is one of those epic paths in our lives that people write books about.

It’s a life time of judgement, even if those judging don’t know you are transgender. Their words ring in your ears as you move from childhood, to adolescence, to adulthood.

One day, we hang our head, and give in to the shame that had been pushed onto us, we feel defeated as we feel we failed God.  But we can’t fight any longer, and we must move forward.

Some of the judgement turn into muffled whispers, and some turn into screaming shouts.  But, our transition continues.  It’s like some type of force is pushing us down this uncertain road.  Those judging will say we are against God, and that the force is evil.  They shout to us to rebuke our wicked ways, and through tears, and pain, we know there is no other way.

You see, even though we don’t know it yet, our transition, is our path.  And we are right with God.  We’re doing what he intended, and we are becoming an example of his love.

All those years of fighting against this force, was fighting against God.  And the moment we gave our self to our transition, we gave our self to God and righted our course.

For some of us, it took longer than others, and surely we have greater distance to travel to move back to that course.  But, none the less, it’s been corrected.

Every day, as I finish yoga at my home, I pray to God, and as I sit there on the floor, I ask him to let me be an example of his love.  Through all of the judgement, and all of the shouting, I simply want to live as an example.

Today, as I woke up, and checked my social media, as I do every day, and there was one of those memories and it suggested I share.

It was a quote from a friend who reached out to me with this

“I don’t know the answers to any of this but I know I have gone from being apathetic either way to really feeling bad for the harassment trans people have received. I know it has brought me closer to God by the feeling of “needing to love another” and worry about my own log.”

And, as I was doing my morning yoga, as I practiced in my office, I was in tree pose, when another friend sent me a message in which they shared a link to a 5000 year old tree in Scotland that was suddenly producing berries.  It had been producing pollen for thousands of years before.

This means the tree, once male, was now producing fruit, something female trees do.

It’s difficult, to be transgender, when so many people shout at you telling you that you are going against God…  but, the truth is, they are not an example of God’s love.

And, just as a force is guiding us, a force is guiding them.  And in both cases, we will find out that the source of these forces are not what we originally thought.

I can only be positive about my path.  And I know that my path, and the force guiding me is God.  I have no question.  I have no doubts.  And, just as tree should be judged by it’s fruit, people should be judged by their example.

There is an evil that is pushing people away from God.  That evil is living comfortably in the church.

God sends us messages, and as long as we are willing to listen, they will help reinforce our path.  Today, he sent me a tree.  And, I am so very thankful.

What kind of fruit do you produce?  What kind of tree are you?

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The Leap

There’s a fear of the unknown, a fear of what will be, and a certain comfort in what was.  Our past is known.  (No surprise there).  It’s a book we read, we thought about, and maybe even reread chapters in our head at night as we lie down to sleep, or hear a song, or smell that one smell that reminds us of that one time, in that one day.

But it’s the future we live for, even if that past tugs at us.  It’s easy to stop, to be afraid to step forward when all we can think about is the past.   Over time, the good remains, the bad slips away, and our memories become cruel liars that beckon us with pictures, sights, and sounds of the good ole days.

It’s the future we must embrace.  We know it will hurt, even if we can’t remember the pain behind us, the future promises the pain.  It’s just when, and how much that it keeps secret.  But it’s that pain that makes us grow, and it’s that pain that allows us to blossom.  It’s that pain that lets us feel the love, it’s the cold that lets us realize the warmth, it’s the bad that allows us to experience the good.

I tell people that coming out was like running to the edge of a cliff about to jump off.  With each step you force your courage up through your throat until you’re about to choke on it, and finally, even if you hesitate, finally you leap.  In an instance you feel the ultimate freedom of flight as you fall through the air, a great joy, a burden lifted, but only for a short time and you realize that the ground is coming fast.  You realize that this euphoria comes with a price, and the consequences won’t be known until you finally hit the ground.  You will either survive the fall or you’ll be killed.

The leap is the forced uttering of those words, “I am……” the freedom, is the moment of time the person, you loved enough to tell, to register the words that just left your mouth. “I am…..”  And that ground, that horrible realization and reaction good or bad will remain in your thoughts until the day you die.  You know nothing can go back to the way it was, nothing will ever be the same, and yet you must jump.  It’s the future.  and it’s the future we have to live for.  It’s who “I am…..”

Those people you told, the ones you care so much about, will either stay, or go.  The people who you loved deeply may be no more.  but, some will embrace you and love you with an even greater love.  It’s like a great cleansing.  And, of course, as you are finally you, people who get to know the real you, and didn’t know the walls you put up, the defenses you stationed, will know you at your very core, they will know your soul.  It’s then, that you realize the gift that the leap gave, and a glimpse of how the future might turn out.

In our life, there are times when the past seems to end and the future begins, and I feel as though I’m at one of those times right now.  I look back at the last two or three years, and I can see the twists and turns in the path that has been one of great trials, and great joys, and as the memories of the pain fade, and the ones of joy take over, I wonder what will be in front of me as I step out of my transition and into simply living.  It’s almost as if an entire life was lived in that short time, and here I stand looking back on it as though I’m seeing my path as I climbed a mountain.  My view is from a different perspective, I can see how it’s all related, the stumbles, the falls, the small steps forward, and now that I’m at the end of that climb, as I stand on this cliff, it’s time to leap once again.

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Cherished

The amazing thing about our lives, is that they aren’t wholy our own. They zig zag and intersect with countless other lives on their own trajectory through the universe.

The neat thing, is that every single interaction means something, it’s enough to change our course even if slightly, and it sets us up for our next intersection until finally at the end of our life we end in the place that we were always supposed to.

I like to look at people in cars, scrambling to and through, running errands, taking kids to soccer practice, grocery shopping, or going to see a friend for the very last time,and I wonder about their lives, their first kiss, their first christmas, their first heart break, and I realize that the human experience has an infinite amount of combinations, but some how we always end up where we’re supposed to be.

Sometimes our final destination may not seem as nice as someone elses, but that destination has an affect on someone else, and it’s these affects that make humanity what it is. It’s a soup, full of ingredients, none more important than the other, yet all seem to be somewhat un fair.

A few of these times, these happenings, these intersections turn into much more then a wave and a smile, and we find ourselves making real friends, friends who affect us more than others, and have some sort of pull in every decision that we make from that moment on.

This week, in Chicago, as I followed through on a goal that would change my life, I met many such people. My caretaker Lisa, with a slight shake and soft hands, my Dr, a surgeon, who’s artistic vision would forever change how the world reacts to me, the nurses, drivers, even the pharmacyst at target who showed such compasion as I explained why the name on my ID didn’t quite match the vision before her.

But it’s one couple in particular, married for 4 years, Sarah from Italy, and Maya from the US, and to the untrained eye looked like any loving lesbian couple. However, Maya was transitioning, and like so many other spouces Sarah was transitioning along with her.

If it’s possible to crush on an entire couple, I’ve crushed on this one, and I can tell you we will remain great friends, from this moment on. You can feel when you meet someone, and you know that some day you’ll visit, and someday even you’ll share birthdays, celebrations, or any other life event.

No doubt Maya and Sarah, a match so obviously made in heaven, having met doing tango, oozing such affection toward each other, was such an inspiration.

Both full of grace, both full of life experiences, that you can’t help but realize you have so much to learn from them.

I hope some day Sarah, the college professor from Itally who loves to cook, and Maya the solar panel installation architect, will have children, and no doubt those children will be as beautiful and as loving as their parents.

To say I’m inspired is an understatement, and to say I feel blessed for having my life collide with theirs in such a chance happening, is simply to be honest with a vision of things more than our shallow self involved world.

I know that some day, when I’m at my final destination, Sarah, and Maya will have had their hands on the helm of the ship that is my life.

I’m better for knowing them, and I can only hope they feel the same. Thie couple from Vermont, this stylish, world travelled, and beautiful couple. And Now, they are my friends. I cherish them and I always will.

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Northern Exposure

It’s snowing in Chicago.  It’s like a light fluttery show, but the flakes are huge.  Of course, for a southern girl, any snow is a big deal.  I like Chicago.  The people seem nice, and helpful, and there is such an ignorance of all things Texan.

I’m sitting in the hotel dining room, looking out the window, and I’m wearing a black hoodie with the word “Whatever” displayed across the front.  My face is bruised, bandaged, and I’m just a little high on painkillers.  All in all it’s a great time.

It’s my first day out of my hotel room in almost a week.  It feels really great, and I just needed to see that the world was still revolving around.

At this very moment outside of the window, I witnessed two snow plows drive by and with an awe that a kid might have the first time he’s at the zoo whinessing an elephant trumpeting his trunk, I’m simply in awe.

My dr has been by every day.  He’s fast at everything.  He speaks fast, he walks fast, his visit is even fast.  But, I really get the impression that he enjoys his work much like an artist who sculpts beauty from clay.  His sweet comments of honey, sweetheart, and sweetie all make me feel like I’m some dainty little flower, and whether he knows it or not, it goes a long way.

 

My care taker, a woman I paid to stay with me for the first 24 hours has long since gone, and returned to wash my hair and show me how to do the God awful massage that I must complete three times a day for thirty minutes each time.

Out of all the things I’ve done in this great endeavor to become physically how I see myself in my mind, the surgery around my face is the scariest and most impactful of all.  So many unknowns filled my head and I had this dreadful feeling as I left Houston that I would never return.

But, I will return, I’ll return looking different, and the last details of the old physical me will be erased, and I can finally move forward in confidence and grace.

Oh sure, I feel that I was making strides in those departments for a while.  Practice in voice, mannerisms, fitness, look, all come together to express an identity that many people have come to know as simply me.  But, I really think this final stroke of the brush will really bring it all home.  And from this moment on, I hope the last physical attributes of a body which i had at least a moderate distaste for will be gone.

I’ll always have that boy deep in side of me.  I don’t regret that, and I have pride in the man that I was.  But, now that I’ve seen my path, and I’m climbing higher on that mountain, it’s all making such sense, and the blessings I feel are almost overwhelming.

My flight to Chicago was uneventful, just a few second glances after showing my ID, but the professionals that the airline hires handled it like a champ.  The very first time flying first class spoiled me.  The hotel staff has been wonderful.  The car staff which seems to be run by Bulgarians, is pretty amazing to me.  My driver Kusco, organizes all the Bulgarian folk festivals and I look forward to at least trying to make the one in Chicago in the spring.

Even the target close to a mile a way, and not a bad walk, was a wonderful experience as i stocked up on groceries, clothes, and an oversized bag to carry it all back to the hotel.  I met a special person who went on and on about how he loved buying those canvas bags and after a short chat, I realized that God is everywhere and all will be ok.

It was 5:45 am on Tuesday when my driver dropped me off at the clinic where my face would forever be changed.  The staff was wonderful, and everything was explained in great detail.  The surgeon, nurse, and anesthesiologist all had their pep talk and game plan outline in the room with me standing there, and I surely appreciated it.

Soon, I was on the table, looking up at the lights, and as I felt the fuzziness over take me, I realized this was it.

The surgery turned out to be about 9 hours.  I had a broken nose which I hadn’t known about.  Surely, a result from years of football and rugby.  But it took a bit to fix.  I also bled a little as I was told.  All of this made for an exceptionally long surgery.

After the fuzziness the next thing I remember hearing was “She’s waking up” and sure enough there I was, tube still in my throat and the surgery was over.

 

Still under the effects of the anesthesia I remembered thinking that everyone was working in warp speed.  It was almost impossible for me to process the speed that people were moving and talking.  I simply focused on the light, took deep breaths, and finally the hose was removed.

With the nose work that I had done, the absolute worse part of recovery was the mucus and blood build up in my throat and in my lungs.  It was like having melted cheese stuffed into your mouth.  It felt as though I was drowning.

Stay calm I kept telling myself, but the pain wasn’t bad, and my breast surgery was much worse.

It was 11 pm when we got back to the hotel.  Such a long day.  And I was flat out exhausted.

Thank God for pain meds!!

On day 3 when Lisa, my caregiver came back to finally wash my hair, we had a great conversation.  I know that some of you who read this blog have had bad experiences with the church, and with that, it’s easy to make that experience about God,  but this entire trip has been nothing but God everywhere to me.

Lisa and I spoke and she told me how she had moved away from the church.  How their thoughts on transgender people, people who were her patients, were not accepted.  I told her my beliefs,  and how I think that no man speaks for God, and it’s so easy for me to see how everything is moving in the way it’s supposed to.  Sure I fight things, sure I’m unsure of what I should do, but the funny thing was she told me how her church is her motorcycle.  It’s when she feels closest to God.  At that moment it struck me.  My bicycle is the same way.  It’s me, it’s my mind, my soul, and God.  It really was amazing.

The rest of the time we were like friends at a slumber party.  She showed me how to do my massages, and when I got excited at hearing the fluids move, I told her it’s like the monkey in all of us.  It’s like popping paper, or grooming or popping a pimple, and I was so excited.  We died laughing.  I guess there is a little bit of monkey in all of us, and we all have that grooming in us.  It’s primal I guess.

Finally it was time for her to go.   The only person who stayed with me, my friend Lisa, and she promised she would check on me, and off she went.

 

Today a woman named Rina came to give me a massage that I’ve never had before.  It was a bit strange but I trust, and it involved inflatable bags around my legs, and some suction cups around my neck.  She’s a former patient of the Dr, and we had a great discussion about her path and also identity theft.  You just never know what people can tell you if you just take the time to listen.

Since then It’s been me and a fairly nice hotel room.  I’ve had a very little appetite, and I’m hoping that will drop some lbs, and when I get home and have my first pizza it won’t reset all of the starving I’ve done while I’m here.

Incase you wondered.  Pudding, apple sauce, and gatorade are all we need to live in life.

I miss Houston a lot now, and I can’t wait to get back.  I want desperately to be in my own home, but I know healing is important.  I want to be diligent in all that I do, and I want things to turn out as perfect as possible.

 

I’m going back up to my room now.  Maybe a nap, maybe some facebook.  Who knows.

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Hidden Gifts

We fight so hard to fit into what people expect of us, and finally, we realize, that, which we fight so hard against, is actually a gift that only a few will ever know. It’s then, that we can be ourselves. Even if those around us will never understand that gift, it’s ours to live, suffer, and finally enjoy.

 

If you’ve ever climbed a hill, mountain, or even just a serious amount of flights of stairs, you know what each step is measured, small, and deliberate.  In the beginning we think, there is no way we can do it.  Even, an overwhelming feeling of why do it in the first place.

There are those around us, all with very vocal voices, and no shortage of opinions on why or how to even attempt such an endeavor, and many see no purpose in it whats so ever.

Even within ourselves this conflict is there.  How should we do it, why should we do it, and even, should we do it at all.

It’s a personal matter, a matter no one but ourselves will ever understand.  Even those who claim to feel the same can’t quite put their finger on the same feelings that we have within our heart.

When I was younger, and I realized I was different, I prayed with all my might to be normal.  I wanted so desperately to be like the others, and I wanted so desperately to make my parents proud.  Even to this day, that drive, that urge, that need to please my parents and even those who I’ve looked up to, is still there, and as strong as ever.

But soon we realize that even before we knew it our right foot has already made the step toward that hill, and the left is sure to follow.  After a time, as we climb, and as we pass different challenges along the way we realize that at this point, climbing to the top is the better choice than simply turning around and making the treacherous trip back down.

It’s an epiphany, it’s a realization of a gift, and it’s a moment in our life when we realize that Gods path for us becomes so very clear.

Sure some will say, we’re wrong, some will claim to speak for God, and some, with all of the confidence in the world will claim we are going against him, when we, in our heart, hear him speaking to us.

There was a man who was convicted of a murder of his wife.  He spend 20 years in prison and was on death row three times.  I watched this documentary with such horror and when the person asked him if he was angry about it all.

He, with all of his graciousness, replied, no.  To him it was a gift.  He explained that in his life he had been able to experience everything that life had to offer.  Pain, sadness, despair, joy, elation, the real human experience.  This man’s comments resonated with me and as I sat there, tears in my eyes, I realized that all of the suffering of being transgender goes hand in hand with all of the joy and it’s all a gift.  It’s a gift that I am thankful for and I can’t possibly express enough how blessed I feel to have it.

It’s difficult for us to see these gifts, it’s hard for us to accept, and in a world where “fair” seems to be thought of as some birth right, we tend to turn away from the gifts that God gives us.


So, here I am, I can see the summit,  I’ve slipped, fallen, rested, and even considered turning back completely,  but now when I look back, from this point on the mountain, I can see the entire path.  Not just at the base of the mountain, but the entire path that has led me here in all of it’s perfect balance.

And when I’m at the top, when I’m finally able to make this whole transition a thing in my past, I’ll be a better person for it, and I’ll know love and joy like I’ve never known before.

Our life isn’t what others decide for us, it’s not what others plan, and their disappointments are within them.  It’s us who has to listen, and it’s us who have to take that first step.

Listen to God, and step with the right, the left will follow, and after a while, I promise when you look back the view will be breathtaking.

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What’s ours is ours

“Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love. Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more.  The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type … Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!” ~ Brittany Maynard 11-2-2014

Our life is our life.  Our death should be ours as well.

From the moment we’re born we build experiences, make decisions create memories.  We always believe the sun will rise, the world will turn, and a new day will bring a new little chapter in our life.

Yet, in the back of our minds, we know that it will all end.  We know that one day the sun will still rise, the world will still turn, and new chapters will begin, but we won’t be apart of it.

What would you do if you knew that you had a short time left?  Would you make the best of it, would you enhance your life, or would you let it simply extinguish  like a flickering candle at the end of the wick?

I didn’t know Brittany Maynard, but like many other people I found out about her on the news.  She had a short time left, and rather than lay in bed, rather than let the last days escape her, she made a decision that I can only hope I would have enough courage to even contemplate.

She lived her life to the fullest, and while doing that, brought attention to something that seems to be much more controversial  than it should be…..  How and when we die, should be our decision.  And no one should have the right to keep us from it…..

In the end she was surrounded by her family, friends, a circle of people who while no doubt sad, loved her and respected her decision, and respected the life she lived.  In her death she was blessed.

 Family is an odd thing.  Most people think of family as a group of people genetically attached by common ancestors.  But, the reality is that family is the circle of people who love you and shower you with their acceptance, and let you live or die the way you need to.

Someone else I knew died this month…  A girl, transgender, a woman, who lived her life never knowing the gifts she had. A woman who spent her life fighting for the simple right to live it as she needed to, and yet, even though she couldn’t grasp her gifts.  She fought those who would have kept her from living her life much as Brittany fought those who would have kept her from the death of her own terms.

While Brittany was surrounded by her family at her death, Jenni wasn’t.

Jenni didn’t decide when she would die.  Instead it was a chance happening, a brain aneurysm took her.

And after this happened those of us who tried to convince her just how special she was, those of us, even if distant, who were her real family had no power to fight her last battle with those so unfortunately genetically attached.

After Jenni’s death, they took her body, cut her hair, put her in a suit, and with an open casket and one last imaginary victory they thought they proved to her that they won the war she fought her entire life.

Of course their final disrespect had no bearing on her soul.  But it was the ultimate in disgrace, and is a stark contrast to how Brittany passed on her own terms….

Tomorrow, the sun will rise, the world will turn, and a new chapter will begin even if we’re not a part of it.  So live your life, and embrace your gifts even the ones that hurt.  And do what you can to surround yourself with family, and be a part of someone else’s family.

Never forget this life is yours.  This death is yours…

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