Archive for January, 2019|Monthly archive page

Maintaining

I took this week off to rest and recover a little from a very long, trying time at work. The polar vortex…and, to be completely honest, inertia…have kept me at home, doing next to nothing. While that sounds restful, I can honestly say it’s really not.

My sleep has not improved; if anything, it’s worse. Long, sleepless nights, days full of lethargy. Distractions, like reading and tv only go so far. And even as I recognize that my self-imposed lassitude is not doing the job, I can’t seem to make myself do more. There are chores I should do. There are things I should write. There are likely even things to do in this city, if I put in some effort to suss them out. But I’m not; can’t seem to pull it together enough to do anything.

Feels like I’m just biding the time until I can go back to work without getting crap from my boss for not taking time off.

Maintaining.

It’s a pitiful use…or not…of my time, I know. As a would-be writer and creative, it’s kind of demoralizing to realize how impotent my imagination is that I could find nothing better to do with a free week than get a suit fitting and then become a recluse.

Ah, well. Monday will be here soon enough and I can go back to work where I know what to do with myself and my time. At least there I seem to have a purpose and know how to fulfill it. Left to my own devices, I don’t know what to do with myself. That’s just shameful. Ugh.

Well, this turned out to be a post full of sunshine…not. Oh, well. That happens occasionally. At least I’m keeping my posting goal alive – maintaining.

Finally, a fit

My custom suits came in and I went for the first finish fitting today. I’m so incredibly excited for these! And they fit really well – only a few adjustments required. Who knew my left arm was half an inch shorter than my right? With a dart at center back to make the jackets sit better on my shoulders and taking in the waist and hemming the trousers, they will fit my body exactly right.

But more important is that even in this not-yet-finished state, these suits fit me, my self and identity, even better than they fit my body.

I surprised myself with a spontaneous admission to a friend on another platform to that effect. I said that this is what I have looked like in my most vivid imagination of my truest self since I was 10 years old. That’s precisely true. I’ve envisioned this identity for longer than I’ve had words to describe it and money to manifest it.

This outward presentation of the inner self is more critically important than I ever imagined. It’s silly to feel so emotional about clothes. But, really, it’s more than the clothes. It’s the freedom and agency to display this elemental aspect of myself. It’s the courage to be exactly myself and occupy this space and identity in exactly the way that makes me feel most genuine. It’s the feeling of completion and rightness. It’s the way my head comes up and shoulders square and my eyes meet everyone else’s. It’s the confidence that I’m exactly myself and everyone is seeing me exactly how I want them to see me.

Crazy how a change of clothes can make such a difference.

For those who have been privileged to occupy that authentic feeling in everything they’ve ever put on, this gushing excitement will seem insane. But for my fellow butches, tomboys, enbys, and others who have ever fought for the ability to wear the outward markers of their inner truth, it rings true.

Those fellow gender warriors will understand what I mean when I say that slipping into that suit, feeling it settle well on shoulders and hips, brought an immediate, blissful rest in my deepest self. With that on, I had no more work to do to make myself, the me that has been forever shrouded in the not-quite-right trappings of everyone else’s expectations, apparent to the world at large.

I can hardly wait to get the finished product and wear it out into the world!

Seeing the good

Well, my last post was less positive than I had hoped for so early in the year. I had a wild aspiration of doing only positive, up-beat posts this year while keeping up the weekly posting goal. I knew, deep down in the unacknowledged corners of my psyche, that was unrealistic. Let’s face it, everything isn’t always butterflies and unicorns. Too, I am not very successful at posting fake positivity when I’m feeling down or frustrated. So only happy posts was a pipe dream from jump.

But that’s not to say I am giving up on looking for the positives, even on the bad days. Seeing the good, even if it’s only one small thing, when everywhere there is darkness and chaos, is the most important facet to my campaign toward self-improvement. Because, in my most secret, private self, I know that if there is ever a time when the tally board of positives hits absolute zero, that’s when my spirit will truly despair. I have to know, like Samwise Gamgee, that “there’s good in this world” so that I have “something worth fighting for”.

I’m blessed in that I have not yet lived a day – and there have been at least 6 days out of my 49, nearly 50, years in which the darkness was all-encompassing and nearly absolute – which was completely devoid of anything positive. On the days on which I lost each of my parents, for example, I took refuge in the positive, glowing comfort of the love of my brothers and their wives. On the darkest day of all, which I will not describe or force myself to relive, I at least had resources enough to get help to dispel the evil and eventually emerge back into the light. As my anxiety coach has said several times: I “have a 100% success rate so far” of overcoming the demons, the stress, the fear, the evil that threatens my peace. So, if nothing else, I have that.

Luckily, I’m not living through rock-bottom like that right now, and there is much to be thankful for. Although there is stress and drama and sleeplessness still to overcome, I have seen a lot that is good and hopeful.

Here are three good things from the past three days (all of which I posted on FB, too) that make me thankful for the good stuff:

  1. 52,901 words, 120 pages written on my fiction project. And today I worked myself out of the corner into which I’d written myself a week ago. I think I’ll end up with about 145 pages in this first draft. I’m really proud of how far I’ve come on this. I think I’m on target to checking off a major bucket list item before my 50th birthday in a little over a month: completed book (short though it may be). It may never be published or ever read by anyone else, but I will have conquered the self-doubt that has forever told me that I couldn’t do it, couldn’t be a writer, had no skill to say anything worthwhile. Hah! Take that, insecurities!
  2. I had an awesome dinner out with Supper Club friends Saturday night, despite the frigid temps. Gnocchi and grilled chicken with onion soup Normandy was a perfect, warming meal. Nice conversation and a good atmosphere made for a great evening.
  3. The litigation stuff that I’ve been dealing with sucks, but it’s not all bad. On Friday, I had the hugely gratifying experience of receiving and handing over to my CFO a high 6-figure check from a settlement of a matter that I managed to completion. Nice when your work pays off – literally.

Good night, my friends! May the week ahead be full of positives for which you can feel grateful.

Back to the grind

I took almost an entire week off from work, successfully avoiding doing any work-related stuff other than answering a handful of urgent emails in the first day or so. That felt great! I desperately needed the break. And while I did a lot of cool activities, including writing, and spending some quality time with my SIL, and getting the suit fitting I posted about before, I also spent a good deal of time just resting. I deeply needed the rest and am proud to say I got three separate nights during that week when I got 6 or more hours of actual sleep. That’s a marked improvement over most weeks since the first part of August.

But now I’m back at work and have already, in just two days, worked more than 25 hours on the same ol’ litigation junk that I thought I had put to rest for at least a few weeks when I filed, just as I headed out the door for vacation, the motions we’d worked on for over a month. In reality, we got just over 24 hours to savor having made those motions before receiving the other side’s latest salvo. Now we’re back to preparing response briefs and doing so much of the work for outside counsel.

Honestly, I’m over this crud. Totally. If I never read another pleading – or prepare one – again, it’ll be too soon. And there’s really no end in sight. Add to that my boss’ constant interruptions (seriously, more than 2 dozen since he got back from lunch today alone) to grouse and rant and curse and complain – so that I have to stop trying to get through reading the pleadings, stop making my own notes, stop getting anything productive done to listen – and I’m right back to the stressed-out wreck I was before taking last week off. Including back to sleeping only about 4 hours or less each of the last two nights.

And because we have to get these responses filed next week, I have to cancel my business trip that I was supposed to do next week. It was going to be an opportunity to get together with some of my staff from other countries and participate in some critical executive planning sessions. But court deadlines trump. It’s just frustrating that my “day job”, the work I’m supposed to do as the leader of a functional business unit, has to take a backseat to what are truly specious claims by a bunch of money-grubbers trying to get a free payday.

Ah, well. I keep telling myself that at least I’m doing substantive lawyering, not rote grunt-work. That’s something, I guess.

A Fitting Experience

While I’m taking a few days off work this week, I’m taking the opportunity to take care of some personal errands. As you do. It’s not a glamorous use of vacation time, but it’s necessary. But today was a majorly cool experience.

My big gift for Christmas this year was a gift certificate for a custom made suit. My brother and sister-in-law gave me this gift for a couple of reasons. First they know that I don’t like shopping and don’t often spend a lot of money on myself, but would do both if given a nudge like this. Second, it’s something I’ve been talking about doing in preparation for the Alaska cruise our family is taking this summer. So my SIL went with me to be measured and have an initial fitting today.

I’m a bit of a nervous nelly when it comes to clothes shopping. The task has been fraught with stress and anxiety for me for my entire life. As a child, it was almost a war between me and my mother over what was “appropriate” for me to wear. I rebelled against anything “girlie”, which she felt was the only look fitting for my gender. As I got older, the experience became even more excruciating when size stigma was piled on top of gender discomfort, as well as being constrained by cost.

But since I attained a level of comfort (financial as well as gender identity), choosing masculine clothing exclusively, I’ve felt better about myself and the shopping experience. Yet even with that relative ease, shopping for clothes has still been a tense experience. So I anticipated that today’s activity would be as well.

I’ve never been happier to be proven wrong. Today’s experience was the most comfortable, gender-affirming, fun shopping experience I’ve ever had. My sister-in-law had prepared the way by talking to the stylist ahead of time, warning him that I am easily embarrassed and don’t like to shop.

It worked, because he greeted me by name and with a smile and firm handshake. He treated me with dignity and attention to detail, careful to discuss with me how he needed to touch me, asking my consent first. And he was carefully discreet with my measurements, which was so important to me. He even joked with me when I said I needed to be sure they wouldn’t add girl darts to the jacket that would give me cone boobs. 😜

It was so positive that I ended up ordering two suits and will likely add at least one custom dress shirt, as well. I’m surprised at how excited I am to have clothes made specifically for my non-standard body. Makes me feel pretty good, I have to admit. And that I’m going to have them in time for my 50th birthday is also really cool. I can’t wait to sport some custom fashion!

Something old and something new

Well, I made it through the gauntlet of the end of quarter/year and the latest court filing deadline. Barely. It was a grueling last few months and a particularly grueling last two weeks. With the lone exception of New Year’s Day, I have worked at least 12 hours a day, every day since Boxing Day. The atmosphere has been saturated with stress and pressure and the pace has been brutal. Between sales people’s unreasonable demands and my boss’ periodic fits and tirades, I was a nervous, anxious mess by the time I collapsed into my bed late Friday night after getting the two briefs filed on time with the court after no less than 12 re-writes over the last week.

But I guess there’s one good thing to come of that horrid mix of anxiety and stress: I finally slept for over 9 hours – the first long sleep I’ve had since at least August. I can’t say it was entirely restful, as it was punctuated with several stress dreams, but at least my body was horizontal and my brain mostly unconscious for that many hours in a row. That’s something.

I followed that with a day spent in my PJs, doing nothing more strenuous than reading ebooks on my Kindle app and watching football playoff games on TV.

But today my body rebelled at being in bed after about 6 hours and my mind was in agreement. So I rose, showered and dressed like a normal person. I count all three feats as accomplishments. I could have forced the issue, argued with both mind and body, and spent another day as a slug in my PJs. Instead, I’m conscious, dressed in can-be-seen-outside-the-house clothes, in public, being productive. That’s a lot for the first free weekend I’ve had in a month!

Speaking of clothes, I made a silly impulse buy on Amazon the other day and it arrived yesterday. I’m wearing it in public today as a silent (though not subtle) statement of my rebellious independence. (Never mind that I’m about to turn 50. I didn’t get a rebellious phase in my youth, so I’m making up for lost time. Sue me.) Here’s a pic of the utterly ridiculous, shiny statement piece:

Rainbow Unicorn is my spirit animal.

So I’m out in public, wearing my essential self emblazoned as a mascot on my chest, writing fiction (not this blog, a story I’m working on)in a coffee shop like a real writer.

I choose to view this as me embracing the old and new, seizing the opportunity of the new year to advance my goals. I’m being creative, both in my expression and in my writing. I’m choosing activity over sluggishness. I’m choosing socializing (albeit lone and passive) to hemitude. And I’m posting about it all. The personal growth goal trifecta.

That’s good enough. I win.

Starting Again

Happy New Year, all! At this start of a new month and year, my hope for all of us is for more kindness (to ourselves and others), less stress and anxiety, and more living in every moment.

For myself, I’m not going to over-burden this transition period with resolutions and lofty goals that will inevitably bring pressure and guilt. Rather, I’m just going to acknowledge that this is another beginning, just like every day is, really. And with every beginning comes an opportunity to start anew, with whatever activity or goals I choose to engage.

Like I said a couple of days ago in my Q4 report card post, I’m not sure if using the report card posts as an accountability device is still motivating for me. But I’ve thought quite a bit about what goals to carry into this new year. Last year I worked on (1) weekly blog posts (and making them substantive); (2) nurturing my spirit (especially through being creative); and (3) work-life balance (with a focus on in-person socializing). These three primary goals and ‘stretch goals’ cover the areas of my life where I think there’s most room for improvement.

And personal improvement, being the best me I can be, is the point. Of everything. (For me, at least. You decide for you what the purpose of life is all about.)

So, should I keep at the same goals? Yes. Any adjustments? Yes. Just small refinements, really. And those adjustments are a new start.

First, I want to keep the weekly posting goal, but I want to add an element of creativity. As I discovered over the last year, I thrive best when there is a creative challenge in my life. And although I didn’t have a lot of success with learning silver sand casting, I did do well with writing last year. In addition to blogging here, I worked on creative writing outside of my blog. I have kept these efforts to myself for a number of reasons, but mostly out of fear. And since fear is something to eject from my life, I’m going to try to get beyond that block.

I think it could be cool to combine these elements for a twist to my primary blogging goal. So, in addition to keeping up my weekly posting streak, I want to post at least one creative piece per quarter. I’m going to be as lenient on myself as possible on what counts as creative and I won’t be prescriptive about length or subject matter of these pieces. Creative writing doesn’t have to mean narrative stories nor even fiction; creative essays on non-fiction topics count. The only metric is whether I have the courage to push the “publish” button on at least one original work of creative authorship per quarter.

Second, I’m keeping the spirit-nurturing/creativity goal as-is, but I will count the creative writing posts on the first goal against this goal as well. Double counting seems fair in this instance, given the extra hurdle of having to overcome fear into the bargain.

Finally, I’ll keep the work-life balance/socializing goal. These are some of my biggest struggles. And I did pretty well last year in being intentional about tackling this aspect of myself. I don’t want to stagnate, so adding a twist seems like the right thing to do. But I also don’t want to put so much pressure on myself that I stall or regress.

But, again, fear should not be the decision-maker. So I’m going to add a twist, but I’m giving myself the entire year to accomplish it: go on one real date, in person, with someone whom I find attractive.

Oh, geez. Just writing that makes me cringe and want to delete it and pretend I never wrote it or even thought it. But I won’t. Publishing this post, putting that out in the universe, is as much an accountability device as the report card posts. Now that it’s out there, my personal integrity will require me to follow through.

But since accomplishing that goal requires the consent and participation of another person, I am only concerned with having the courage and taking the initiative to ask someone out on a date. I won’t count it a failure if I get turned down, or if it doesn’t go well if the date does happen. The point is simply to beard the dragon of being vulnerable enough to issue the invitation. Once that challenge is met, the rest (whatever that turns out to be) will follow. The real challenge for me is getting past the fear and inertia to begin at all.

So there you have it: my goals for this year are largely the same as last year – blog weekly, be creative, and socialize in real life. The added challenges of publishing some of my creative writing on this blog and going on at least one real date seem like tall orders. But since I’m turning 50 this year, I’m gifting myself this internal kick-in-the-butt as a gift of tough-love. Ultimately, I know myself enough to know that I won’t do either of those things without a motivator. And fear of public failure is definitely a motivator.

Again, happy new year, my friends! I hope you have an easy, comfortable, relaxed start to this year and that every day greets you with hope and possibilities. Let’s start again today and give ourselves permission to treat every day as a chance to start again as often as needed.

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