Friday, August 26, 2016

Asking for directions


First off, don't panic. Everything is fine here. Well, unless something very bad has happened and I'm currently enjoying a sulphur and lava hot tub with Old Nick. Now, wouldn't that be amusing for a smug-arsed atheist? :-)

I bet the Devil has loads of synergistic management paradigms warmed up and ready.
You thought it was pitchforks? Ha, idiot mortal! That's *so* 12th century. Welcome... to the Management Farm. Take a desk, you'll be needing it. 
Got your clipboards and iPads ready? Good.... Oh, the Wi-Fi may drop out on you and do write quickly, because the ink tends to evaporate. Don't worry... there will be a test later.
Now, must dash! Catch you proles later!! I've outsourced the training to XPRG. If anyone wants me, I'll be in the executive boardroom with the Sally the Succubus.  
Moving on... :-)

Okay, weak comedy aside - and I should add a disclaimer that in no way I am qualified to make judgement calls (excuse the pun) on religion. With that out of the way... Speaking personally, I feel that Hell is something you can carry with you. It's not flames, damnation and punishment - well, maybe two out of three (hint, not flames). Damnation, if you will, is that personal torment. Perhaps, even, punishment we build for ourselves, 

Wise words, Mr Bloch
The above piccy and de rigueur meme line make sense, at least to someone who skirted the sulphurous shores back in the day. What I would add, is: don't stop, unless it's to ask for directions.

Back when I was struggling under the dark cloud of depression, there were things I tried to make it go away. None of them, I should add, helped. I tried throwing myself into work and ignoring it (Nope!). I tried distraction techniques of watching films or gaming ('Errk! Wrong answer, Hans!'). I wondered if 'going all the way' - from a trans perspective would help, but it didn't. The latter just made me question everything and send me further into a tailspin....

So, negativity out of the way, what did help? Learning from friends (a wave to the Chams massive is due here) who'd Been There, Got the T-shirt and Survived certainly helped. I didn't feel alone so much. Okay, I wasn't cured, but I think it's about little steps in the right direction.

What else? Exercise and company. The latter I've mentioned and the former just meant getting out into nature. Even if it was an hour's walk to the sarnie stall at work. I wasn't at my desk, I was out seeing the world.

Writing helped. Not about the depression, although I'd be a liar if I said it's dark shadow hasn't crossed these pages once or twice. Shit happens, as they say. :-) Writing short stories, or even writing blog posts let me explore ideas and tackle subjects I couldn't talk about.

Although I found it tough, going to the doctors was the thing that helped me the most. Validation, if you will, that I wasn't going nuts. That people do fall over (so to speak) and we don't always bounce back. With time, and after some meds to level me out a little (man, did they help take the worst away), a rather impersonal therapy (CBT) course was the last part of the map I needed to get myself out of the Hell I'd made.

There wasn't some 'morning has broken' moment, in that I felt cured and the sun was shining. Instead, the slow dawn of Spring; where the dark episodes became less and less. I'd been warned that depression is a tricky beast and I may find the bad feelings would come back. They did, but this time, the CBT course I'd struggled to take in, the ideas and techniques were my counters.
Oh, why bother. You know it'll fail....then you'll be in trouble and the shouting will start...
You don't know that. It's all up in the air, right now.  Let's just play it by ear and let it all flow past, like so much flotsam on the tide. Relax and just enjoy the now. The weather's good and you'll be having breakfast when you're back from taking the dogs.... 

If I had any advice to give, I would say this: get help if you're suffering. It may feel like hell right now, but you can recover. It's not forever and if you slip back, that's cool. Be kind to yourself, as you're doing all you can. Just keep edging out of the darkness as best you can. Stay engaged with those you love and who love you. Keep getting out and don't listen to the dark cloak that wants you to lie like a corpse. I won't lie and say this is easy, but living isn't. It's hard and it's a battle, but you'll win.

Good luck,

Friday, August 19, 2016



In a moment of madness I had a spot of tidying up. Not a purge, dear reader, but a clearance of clutter to dispel the debris. Or, as is sometimes said in Nottingham: getting shot of yer crap. :-)

While clearing my bedside table, I found a small tin that contains a set of cuff links from long ago. Much as said items have some sentimental value, there's a little more to it.

Going back to the late 90s, I used to have a large travel trunk. I felt the need to use the term 'travel trunk' to avoid any smutty laughter about the size of my trunk, or if it's well handled, etc. Yes, Carry on Blogging, by all means. :-P

Junk in the trunk or frocks in the box?
So, said trunk sat empty for many years and through an odd arrangement of some old curtains and a sheet of wood, it doubled as a rest for my inkjet printer. Yes, a printer so old that the cartridge didn't cost more than the printer itself. :-) Skip on a few months and shoes, dresses, a wig and make-up began to amass in there. It was a safe place to keep everything and very far from prying eyes. On rare days alone, I'd unpack what I had and grab an hour here, or an brief morning there, being able to express all of who I was. Oh, and wish I was better at make-up :-)

After Wee Man was born, like all kids, he was drawn to anything he couldn't get into.

"Why is this shut?"

Because the edges are sharp. 

"What's inside?"

Nothing by old curtains. 

"When can I have a look?"

You can't because I don't know where the key is...

Then when we had upstairs done (not a euphemism)  I moved all of my other clothes into the new wardrobes and spare cupboard. Now, Wee Man, and later, Little Miss, could use the treasure chest - as they called it - to keep toys, or indeed, old curtains.

Rather than my Lynn-wear being trapped, it's now hung in wardrobes or tucked away in draws. I don't worry about the Ever Lovely Mrs J seeing what's in there, because she's cool with it. The only thing now, is the occasional worry that the kids will have a look through our cupboards and wonder why there are two shoe collections, four wigs and a large grey bag that Dad always takes with him, when he goes out on Thursdays.

Mrs J and I made a deal with the kids that we'd respect their privacy and that the should respect ours. They're good souls and I'm hopeful curiosity won't get the best of them. It would, I feel, be somewhat of a Pandora's Wardrobe and I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

With my clothes hung up and stored safely, I'm thankful. If I look back to those 90s memories, I doubted that I'd ever be in a place where my lovely wife would be okay with who I am. If I look further back to before I met her and before I'd managed to accept who I was, I doubted I'd meet anyone who'd understand. So, all things being equal, I've quite a bit to be thankful for.

Now, fingers crossed eh? ;-)

Take care,

Friday, August 12, 2016

Something old. Something new.


After some deliberation I decided to have another crack at ordering a new corset. Much as hot weather and shapewear go together like the British and not queuing, sometimes, it's the only way. Well, other than watching my diet and following a regular exercise plan, but like that's going to happen! :-)

So, after last time's debacle of a corset that fit like a sleeping bag, I ignored the vendor instructions and followed my heart. If of have said followed my gut, wouldn't that have sounded more macho? Yeah, maybe, but we're still taking about lingerie, so I'm now confused :-)

I collected the item from the local Post Office and it dawned on me how easy Internet shopping had made things for trans folk. I've said before that the web had made it easier for us to stay in touch as build communities. There's a wealth of information on how to dress your best, learn about makeup and get support from people. Certainly less trial and error, or having to traipse to a trans friendly shop miles away. Or worse, having to brave an unfriendly retailer who have poor service and high prices. I'm hoping the more predatory businesses have gone under, leaving the better ones, but that's probably wishful thinking.

What was I? Yes, said item was a good fit and certainly of better material and comfort. Well, inasmuch that using steel and cord to contort your male shape into definite curves can be. :-) I'll not be sending this back in a hurry.

Chams itself was fairly quiet, which happens sometimes. As Val pointed out, it's the summer holidays, so chances are folk are away and these months are traditionally our quietest. I had a good chat with Fyona, Pat and Sarah while I was getting changed.

With the new corset and some old, but not yet vintage, heels, I felt very happy with my outfit. It's funny, I've heard one or two trans people say they don't like trousers, yet oddly, I find skinny jeans or very wide leg trousers really comfortable. Maybe said troos just need to be not like bloke ones. Anyhoo, I had bought some new earrings in the Pia sale. Well, there were in the sale and I was already ordering something fancy for the Ever Lovely Mrs J. Be a shame not to save on postage... :-)

New earrings
Old and pretty heels
Feeling fine
Holding the wall up

Val was kind enough to take the above snaps and surprise me with a comedy number.

Lynn blending in.
The powers of Chameleons
Talking of Chams, the group's website will need to be moved soonish, as the hosting company is now charging and at quite a rate, IMHO. While the service has been reliable, a good look around T'interwebs has shown we could get a site and a forum in one got the same money. It's very tempting and with backups thrown in, seems mad not to. Still, it's a joint decision and that reminds me I still need to a new community account going. Ah, things to do, people to see eh? Who'd have thought that helping run a small group would involve so much....and I don't have the booking or finances to sort out. Still, much better than the alternative of no group! :-D

Take care,

Friday, August 05, 2016

Fighting the fear


"Hey, have you signed the leaving card for X?"

I'll put 'best wishes' because putting 'so long you useless shafter and good riddance' isn't very British ;-)

Or so I wrote on social media, t'other day. X is another casualty from the team I didn't join. About a year ago we had a consultant come in and merge two teams. After about six months he announced if we wanted to be in his team- let's call them Team A - we'd need to apply and be interviewed. Alternatively, we could move straight into a new team under a different manager and it would be a different role.

The new team felt, at the time, a bit of a step back. The Ever Lovely Mrs J, who is wise as she is pretty, said: "If you can't decide. Write a list with two columns. Write down all the good as bad things about choice A and do the same for choice B."

Being a man I did the unusual thing of actually listening and taking her advice. I may be a bloke, but I'm not 100% there. ("Hey, can we get a guy's opinion on this?" Sure, I'll help find you one. :-P )

So, looking at the consultant being temporary, the inflexibly around process (because all work issues are the same right?) and some of the... frankly arrogance, I'd have to put up with, I decided not to join.

Yes, I was scared of the unknown around Team B, but I did know who I'd be working with. Plus, the work there was also a chance to shape things and collaborate, rather than dictate. I felt the fear and jumped. Despite my initial concerns, the new team have been welcoming, down to earth, practical and flexible. Consistent, yes, rigid, no. I don't think I've been happier and so productive in years.

Given Team A - and I'll let you make your own jokes about what the A stands for ;-) - has now lost five people. There's a sixth (contractor) in his way out too, I'm feeling very glad I listened to my lovely wifey.

If there's anything to be learned from all this, it's these:

  • A step up may only be based on one person's perspective.
  • A list of yay or nay can truly help you focus.
  • Feel the fear. Think. Do it.

For that last one, if I'd allowed fear to rule me, I'd not have:

  • Started this blog. 
  • I'd never have made it to Chams. 
  • I'd still be in the closet. Not honest with the Ever Lovely Mrs J. 
  • I'd never have been out in the day time.
  • I'd never have had an evening meal with (trans) friends.
  • I'd never have done Karaoke (actually, that may be a negative ;-) ) 
  • I'd never have gone dancing with friends.
  • I'd never have made friends who know all about me and don't judge me for it.
  • I'd not have pierced ears (a small thing for some, a big do for me)

All things to be thankful for.

Be brave. Be fabulous. Be yourself.

L x