Friday, September 28, 2018

A kick in the head

Hi,

This week saw Wee Man and I enjoy the last episode of Bodyguard. For those of you yet to enjoy it, there'll be no spoilers. A big thumbs up for a quality BBC political thriller. Brilliant performances by the cast and great writing too.

It's no secret (as it's in the trailer) that one of the lead characters has PTSD. Now, in honesty, I don't know much about that, but I would say I do know a little about seeking help. We men are not always the best at getting help when we need it, and I'll include folks on the trans spectrum too. We may not be completely 'bloke', but for some of us that's most of our background and day-to-day culture too.

But, dare I say, getting help may be just what you need. Soldiering on regardless may feel stoic and Very Stiff Upper lip, but - and maybe shock news here - there are no prizes in doing so. Shame really because I think a gift of any sort (well, only the nice type!) is always welcome.

So how does this play into this being a trans blog? Well, I think that blokes - certainly those who are somewhere on the trans spectrum - may have had years of hiding who they are, putting on a mask to blend in, sneaking around like a spy, and that's before we even get to start talking about dysphoria.

Yes, mental health issues in the trans community - and possibly due to that hidden stress - are slightly higher than for non-trans folk. Not that either group is better or worse; we're just on slightly different paths. But, regardless of who you are or who you want to be: please don't put off asking for help. That might be from a friend, your family, your doctor, or other professional. It might not feel like talking about what's bugging you will help, but, and over time, it will.

If you don't fancy confiding in your GP or suchlike, a local trans group may well be a good place to start. They may certainly empathise with your situation and I think that no-one (at those with their heart in the right place) is out to recruit or convert you.

Hell, those of us attending; we're trans-something-or-other and we've probably realised that we'll be in it for the long haul. If you are? Well, that's up to you. Maybe you will, maybe you won't. But, if you come to the group, at least you can find out and maybe make some friends along the way. Perhaps, even slightly loopy ones in rose-printed dresses ;-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, September 21, 2018

Old friends

Hi,

Not so long ago I bumped into an old school friend. For sake of ease, I'll call him X, but he doesn't have a wheelchair or any psychic powers. Shame really, because the latter would no doubt have helped my exam results and solved the issue of having to work for a living. Mind you, all that spandex; it's not very forgiving is it? :-) Oh, we've gone all improv and surreal again. What *is* in this tea? :-)

So X and I were having a stroll through the leafy suburbs of Nottingham. It's been well over 30 years since we last spoke, so there was much to catch up over. What had happened to who, marriage, kids, potted life history, etc. For me, all very fascinating and X certainly hasn't lost his wry wit and comic timing. Much laughter was shared at how things have played out for two boys from the sticks, who are now older, broader, balder, not necessarily wiser, blokes in the city. :-)

A few personal details were shared on X's part. I'm not 100% sure. Maybe it's my interest in his life, a willingness to share on his part, the coaching course or the recent YouTube video I watched "These are not the droids you are looking for" has really paid off. I won't impart what was said because some things are indeed private.

On that note, I - and I know now wrongly - assumed he knew about me being trans. X was in the wide social circle back when I was outed. Given the years gone by and that I'm now far more at ease with things, I thought I'd broach the subject. I opened my smartphone and showed him a snap (see right). "Do you know who this is?"

He looked for a bit, stared into the distance, and then looked to me. "Sorry, not a clue. Should I?"

I said, It's me. 

X nodded, pulled a thoughtful face and said something along the lines that he had no idea. Not only of who was in the photo but that that was part of who I was. We had a chat about trans things, Chameleons, how things have changed for trans people, and he confessed he knew very little. We spoke a little about it and the conversation moved on to kids, how culture has changed, and had life played out as we had expected. X said he'd keep things under his hat, which is cool by me, but if he does say more, we move in very separate worlds these days.

In honesty: I had no idea how things would play out - as I said to Val the other day - but I'm very glad things have gone the way they have. I've a loving family, health is okay, I get out now & again, so these are all things to be grateful for.

So, is there - to use a modern term - a take away from all of this? If there is, perhaps we're not quite so recognisable as we think we are. Sure, the voice can often be a dead giveaway, but photos and at a distance, why we might not 'pass', we do pass as someone else. Maybe, when you're out and about, that's something to keep in mind. Maybe you can worry less and enjoy the moment more. You might, fingers crossed, find happy memories.

Take care,
Lynn


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Midweek meandering

Hi,

I was about to write 'another one of those rare midweek posts', but if it's another one, how can it be rare? Hmm. Ah well, best ponder that another time!

With a bit of planning and careful changes to the work diary, my schedule was free to collect both kids.... and have a day out. It's not that going to Chams isn't enough, I think it's more that by being out in the real world, I feel I'm not moving between one closet and another one. I'm now wondering why that feels important, but that may be a post for another time! :-)

After a few emails and some outfit deliberation, I was pretty much sorted. Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but when it comes to dressing, I've a few things I like to try and balance. Part of it is feeling good about how I look. Does this outfit work? Is this me? Are the clothes too tight? Is this too young or too old? What will other women be wearing?

All of those thoughts flutter about because, and perhaps like most people, I don't want to look a mess, and I want to blend in. Sure, I don't want to be beige and disappear, but equally, I just want to go about my day and enjoy the time out. I don't dress to be looked at or noticed; I dress because it makes me happy and it's a lot easier to try clothes & shoes on when you're presenting in the corresponding gender! :-)

The snap (right) doesn't quite show the pattern top, skinny rolled up jeans, and flat I decided on. Given the weather warning for strong wind, I opted for my older wig which is slightly less flyaway than the recut one (see last week).

I had toyed with the idea (hoped?) that I could manage a red skirt and low heels with the top, but having looked at the current street fashion, we're not yet into opaque season. Ah, maybe one day my pins will be smooth, but until then, I'll just have to work with what I've got.

As way of a change, I wasn't out on my own, as Val had kindly agreed to join me. Diane was scheduled too, but couldn't make it at the last minute. These things happen! So, it was up to the not-quite-so dynamic duo to wander about, talk, check out the shops, and not terrify the locals. ;-) Sadly, I was late because I had been somewhat ambitious in my ability to get changed and arrive. At least that gave Val a chance to stretch her legs after the journey down.

What did we get up to? Well, we had a look in the sales in New Look. A few maybes in the shoe sale, but nothing I really needed. In fact, I think that was probably the theme of the day. It wasn't so much a shopping trip to get things, but chatting and shopping rather than being at work. I did find a long skirt in a charity shop which was a pleasant surprise and I think with the right top and long boots, would be spot on for A/W.

Due to the call of Dad Duties I had to call time about 1.30, and while that cut the day in half, it wasn't a mad rush to get home and get changed. All in all, a very nice day out! Everything is packed away and having stuck with ballet pumps, my feet are thanking me.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, September 14, 2018

Scaffolding

Hi,

I think I now know what my blogging kryptonite is... or maybe even, are. Namely:

  • trying to write a post after a very tasty meal. All brain power has been redirected to my stomach. Hey, I'm a man, a dad, and over 40. Frankly, it's touch and go monotasking. :-P
  • failing to write down any semblance of a theme
  • the first gin & tonic in many months
  • Tiredness
  • Any combination of the above :-)
Hmm. I may just have to wing it. :-D

With the cooler weather now very much in place - and thank all that's fabulous! :-) - it was time to think about transitional dresses. Not quite summer, not quite autumn, but that lovely in-between time. Thinking back on a few of those words from that last line, it now seems obvious that this is my favourite time of year. Still, if the stereotype fits eh? :-)

Looking in the dress cupboard - and I'll confess that it's an 80/20 split between mine and the Ever Lovely Mrs J - I spotted a few numbers that jumped out. Taking out a monochrome number I'd not seen before, I asked: is this yours?

Mrs J raised an eyebrow and a smile: "No, you daft lump, you bought it in the sale."

Ah. Guilty as charged. In that went with a backup outfit, three pairs of shoes, and the rest of my industrial scaffolding that brings all the curves to the lard. ;-)

Talking of curves, the new corset is going to take a little breaking in. I was certainly sat up straight for most of the evening.

Tracey - part of the former organising dynamic duo - popped in. Not just to rub it in that she'd retired, the lucky lady, but also to help us out yet again. Due to some issues with the bank, the old account had been put on the dormancy list. However, it seems Tracey is not a lady who suffers administrative fools. Their loss and very much our gain. With a bit of luck, the old account will be merged with the new one. Fingers crossed!

Part of completing that meant sending over some evidence to prove who the group are. Luckily, last week's nerdery of setting up a VPN has paid off. With help from Nicole's smartphone for a WiFi hotspot, I managed to connect back home through t'Interwebz and send on the necessary documents. Go team!

After much catching up, time was against us, so it was off to tidy up, take photos, and de-princess back to the land of drab. Thanks to Val for the photo!

In other good news, I saw the lady at Boots who helped me with my brow make-up. She'd received her thank you from the area manager (never let good service go unrewarded, IMO), which is cool. I also asked if she'd be interested in helping set up a make-over night for the group. Again, fingers crossed!

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, September 07, 2018

Self-care

Hiya,

This week I had the good fortune to be asked to run some trans awareness training. Unusually the event was during the evening, so no long lunch was required. Also, and given the time, I checked with the Ever Lovely Mrs J that she was okay about holding the fort and with me going along. All was fine, which is very cool and the peck on my cheek for good luck put a spring in my step. I think there's nothing quite like acceptance to make you feel loved.

I'm not going to talk about the training or the venue. Maybe I would have posted s snap if I hadn't been in bloke mode, but you can't have it all ;-) Anyhoo, one of the numerous questions they asked was off I had any advice on coping mechanisms. The ones that came to mind where:
  • Light exercise - don't mope about at home, but get out into the open air, as the simple act of regular movement can be a good anti-depressant.
  • Thinking on what's going right - rather than thinking how big & hairy you are (or the opposite for F2M folk). Look at
  • Stealth Clothing - if we're talking underwear, for M2F folk, 'boy shorts' rather than boxer shorts and a feminine vest under your shirt might help. Equally for F2M people, no lacy knickers but a proper set of blokey kegs.
  • Scent - The right choice of deodorant can - at least for me - make me feel more 'me'.
  • Mindfulness - Enjoy the here and now when you can. Truly take the time to enjoy the place you are in, the good moods when they come, and the times when your body feels like yours. Dwell on those and don't worry about the future or the past. Live in the moment.
  • Distraction - If it's not going so well, do something to take your mind off things. Try a hobby that takes up your attention: baking, painting, writing, video games, etc. Things that fill your attention so the darker thoughts can't sneak in.
  • Toes - More one for MTF people, but I find that painting my toes makes me feel more me. Even if my toes aren't visible, the fact that I know they look nice, well, that can help me feel good about myself.

The mindfulness is something I've used to promote calm feelings. While walking I'll run a commentary on my head around what I experience: the shoes on my feet, the wind against my skin, the way the trees move, or the noise of passing traffic. I find it stops me cycling over the certain thoughts by not leaving them any room to sneak in.

I'm curious if the same or similar approach would help me appreciate getting ready to go out in Lynn mode, but that will have to wait until next week.

So, my question to you, is what strategies do you try to keep the blues, or even, dysphonia at bay?

Take care,
Lynn