Friday, December 08, 2017

Being out. Being me.

Hi,

There are times when Life seems to have you on an assault course. Barriers, tunnels, and cold, wet mud to slog through. We push on doing what we can, sometimes stopping for breath, sometimes to help someone along, or even to get help ourselves. It's not so much aiming for the finish line, but clambering through until you reach easier ground. Mind you, any time you're not crawling through the proverbial mud is a win in my book. :-)

When my boss - who, BTW, is a thoroughly nice chap, BTW - showed me my remaining holiday leave, I dared to dream I may get a day out. Not that he knows... or so I hope. I did suspect a colleague knew a few years back. But that may have been the paranoia talking when I first started out. Trans people, we're a funny lot ;-)

So, a day out? Much careful planning was done to ensure everyone would be at school or work. I ran through a mental checklist of what I could wear and reduced it down to what I like to wear, and what won't kill my feet after two hours. Ladies, I know your pain when it comes to a day in heels. The unholy battle of style, comfort, and practicality :-)

Then, along comes a dose of the lurgi. The Ever Lovely Mrs J was the first to be set to bed by its evil germs. Wee Man followed, the Little Miss, and so the weekend passed by. So far, so good! They started to get better, and as my day off approached, I did wonder if I would - ACHOO. Shiver. Shiver.

Bugger. :-)

Still, with plenty of Lemsip, fruit, and the bloody-mindedness of a T person wanting a day out, Wednesday rolled around and I was not sneezing or shivering, so off I went.

Step by Step

With Wee Man and the Ever Lovely Mrs J off on School Run Part One, it was up to me to take Little Miss off to primary school. We have a chat in the car (mostly about books) and it's great daughter/father time, IMHO. I kissed her goodbye and set off back to the car.

It was at this point that the nerves start to kick in. I don't know if you have this crisis of confidence - if that's the right term - or worry bomb, but I do when it comes to going out. There's the will something bad happen?; will I be spotted?; to The Agreement. The latter, I don't truly hold up to, and this makes me feel guilty. In my defence, I do go far away on the rare times I go out as Lynn, so I'm hoping this would be okay. But, hey, we all lie to ourselves right?

One of the ways through the fear is to break things into steps. So, once everyone is off to work or school, I get ready. I usually know what I'm going to wear, so today there was only a few choices to be made around shoes and skirt. The top was a red jumper or a fall back to a red cotton cropped sleeve should things warm up. I ditched last time's heels (much as I love them) and plumbed for my ankle boots instead. That style seems very popular at the mo, so when trying to blend in following fashion a little seems to help.

With my outfit on, we're on to make-up. Best keep it simple and nothing too 'nighttime'. We don't want to scare people do we? :-) I chanced using two mascaras, as I'd read this helped with definition and I can say that a coat with Brand X, and a second coat later with Brand Y, does indeed give a better curl and more definition.

All that was left was to double check my bug-out bag. Time time, a small travel suitcase with Richard clothes, work shoes, and the all-important make-up remover. After letting the dogs and out checking the outside tempreative (brrr!!), I popped a pretty scarf on. All I had to do now was make it out of the front door and into the car.

Deep breath, Lynn. Ooh, maybe not that deep, given the corset's well fastened. :-)

Into the porch, pop the lock on the car, bung the suitcase in the boot, close it, get in, seatbelt on, and off up the drive into the traffic.

After that, it's a stop at a nearby-but-not-too-nearby layby to check I do have everything I need. Oh, and to sort my nail varnish out, of course.

Being Out

Oddly, once I was parked and on the move, my nerves settled. Parking was tricky as I guess lots of folk had come in for Christmas shopping. Whoever designed Leicester's main shopping centre had put in some wall length mirrors just inside. Not only do they bring the natural light in, they're also great for a quick selfie ;-)

I'd brought along my birthday money, which may go to show that I've not been buying much of late. Well, apart from a new red lippy for today. :-) My main aim was just to enjoy the day out, and maybe spot some Christmas presents for the Ever Lovely Mrs J. Leicester has some cute little shops away from the high street, so it's those I head for after checking out the usual chain stores :-)

My luck was out on the shoe front - not that I needed any - as all the 9s seemed to have gone. New Look didn't provide. Perhaps it being that awkward period of mid Xmas Party season, so they don't want to fill the shelves with goods that aren't going to move. Fast fashion, eh? If you've not bought it before you need it, you've had it. Ah well. I was trying on, more than buying, so it's all good.

-

I think I must have been in town between 11am until 3pm, which was long enough to get around the city centre. I had a lovely chat with a young lady in Body Shop. I'd popped in for a replacement blusher, and we started chatting. Turns out her partner is (was?) trans, and I found what she had to say about sexuality and growing up very interesting. She was not yet 20, so I think very much in the next generation. She was saying how she fell in love with the person, rather than the labels. The conversation moved on and I felt that if I wasn't going to buy anything, I ought to move on. So I did :-)

I had a couple of what I'd call just regular chats with people in shops. I say regular because they felt no different to how I'd talk to them in Richard mode. I think you can gauge when people want to talk, and when you're just intruding on their day or time. I had a long-ish talk about make-up routines with a specialist in a department store. Much as she's paid for her patter, she seemed genuinely complimentary about my make-up. Good to know I don't look a complete mess then! :-D

I didn't get any stares or rudeness really. It seems we trans folk are becoming part of the background more and more. I did spot maybe a handful of passersby taking a too long a look, but I wasn't really paying attention for the most part, and maybe they were curious, rather than judging. Hell, I can dream. :-)

Come the end of the day, I took a skirt I had no plans on buying into the changing room. This was solely so I could take some snaps in case the walkway one hadn't worked. By this time I'd swapped my jumper for the red mid-sleeved top. It seemed that walking about certainly warmed me up, despite the arctic chill on the wind.

Today's daytime outfit sans coat & scarf


The only snag to the day was when I set off to my usual 'getting changed spot' deep in the countryside. Eeek! I don't know what had gone on, but someone had blocked the short lane with a large tree stump. It took me another 30 minutes to find another place quiet enough. Maybe next time I'll think about getting changed at a service station. That or setting off earlier and using the facilities at Chameleons HQ.

All in all, a great day out and one that's left me with a lovely happy glow to my mood. Hello Christmas Spirit.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, December 01, 2017

Staying healthy

Hi,

This week has shot by and it's December already. There's no noise from the kids about putting the Xmas tree up, but I'm sure that will come. Every year there's that frisson of danger: has some fiendish fieldmouse crept into the loft and nibbled the decorations? Not that we have a mouse problem - next door's cat is very attentive - but living out the sticks, we see quite a bit of wildlife. Still, at least it's just foxes, crows, and squirrels. I saw a rat down by the canal last week at work. Feel free to make your own gag about a despised politician or celebrity of your choosing. :-)

Yesterday I happened to attend one of those working lunch gigs. It was about mindfulness and stress in the modern workplace. What stress is like in the less than modern workplace I've no idea, but if you know, do tell. :-) Mindfulness seems to have been doing the rounds over the past few years, but I've found it helpful. It's not always easy to tune out the noise of your own mind, so the breathing techniques have been useful. I also tried attending a workmate's meditation class which sort of takes things a little further. If you've not tried either, I would say it's worth a spin. If nothing else, it's something new and possibly a new crowd of people to talk to.

Talking of the latter, the modern workplace presentation included some tips on reducing your own stress. The top five, as it were, are: giving, relating, exercise, appreciating and trying out. The presenter did go on to explain them a little, but I'm going to have a go at them. They may have a slight trans bias ;-)

Giving: Or more accurately, giving help or time to people. I think there's definitely something in helping others, be it the simple acts of day to day kindness, to stopping and going out of your way to help someone. I don't help out at Chameleons for the props, I do have a vested interest. That said, seeing at evening go well, or reading about a person's first-time visit is very rewarding emotionally.

Relating: Being involved with people and actively listening to them. I've been doing some training in coaching of late and that's been really helpful. Certainly, the active listening and knowing your own biases has helped. Relating isn't just me talking about me - which this blog sort of provides - but that vital two-way conversation we have. That whole line about a problem shared and all that.

Exercise: I know I don't do enough of this for the amount of food that I eat. That said, a walk with the dogs in the morning, and a cycle ride between offices at work gets me outside. It may not be much, but that 15 - 30 minute break from not looking at the screen, and just enjoying the world really helps me recharge.

Appreciating: I once read "it's what we don't have that makes is miserable" and it took me a while to get my head around that. Rather than chasing stuff, I don't have, or even won't have, taking the time to enjoy what I do is a trick I'm still working towards. Take this month for example, in previous years I'd have been flapping about finding the right Christmas dress. This time, meh. I've got plenty I could wear and while there's some pretty outfits in the shops, I'm quite looking forward to putting something together with what I already have. Likewise, it's another week or so until Chams, so no cross-dressing for a bit. But, if I play the mindfulness card and think on the thermal leggings I'm wearing, I can appreciate the fit and the feel. Not in a pervy way, but they don't feel like my bloke jeans either.

I am rooted in the me.... and thinking of fab shoes.
Trying Out: This was doing new things. The job I've been doing has been good in this regard. Less staring at screens, but working with people and so much learning to do! How people work, how systems hang together, and new techniques from old workmates on organising activities. Plus, with a bit less presenteeism, the occasion course out of the office means I'm meeting new people and picking up new skills.

All reasons to be cheerful!

So, next time someone asks you about a mindfulness practice, think on about your favourite shoes. How do they feel on your feet? How do you walk when you wear them? My name's Lynn Jones and I'm guilty of owning perhaps one too many pairs of beautiful, beautiful heels. :-)

Take care,
Lynn