This month has been crazy. September is a stressful whirlwind, and I am so happy to say good riddance! The school year got off to a great start. Phew!
So, my September challenges were fantastic. I love doing sober months. It honestly makes me wonder why I don’t do it more often. I think it’s easy to lose sight of how much I drink in the summer and over the holidays because there is just so much to celebrate! Who doesn’t love beautiful weather and/or good company? As with most of my mindfulness challenges, it comes down to balance. I was sober in January, and hoped to be more mindful about the situations I chose to drink in after that month, but slowly developed into a multiple-times-a-week drinker again. I am recognizing this trend about myself - I have no problem completing something or living a certain way if I have clear guidelines, but if I loosen it to “do this less” or “be more conscious of this” or “every once in a while,” I allow myself too many liberties. This realization is not necessarily new, but it is something I feel that I have a better handle on because I have been writing about my feelings and experiences on this blog. Chronicling my mindset and thoughts has been extremely helpful for recognizing the positive and negative patterns I fall into, and hopefully I will be able to focus ever more on the positives. How do I plan to put that thought into action? I’m not quite sure yet. I think what I will do is limit my drinking to once or twice a week, and only on days when I don’t have work the next day. So, I will only drink on weekends or holidays. I will do this for October, and see how that works for me.
My other challenge for October will be to make sure my room is clean every night before I go to bed. Having a clean room is one of the things that gives me peace of mind. I wonder if being more mindful about having it consistently clean will make me feel different in any way. We shall see!
My other September challenge was a Beach Body fitness program and I - somewhat grudgingly - have to admit that I loved doing it. I did the 21 Day Fix which is a program that incorporates nutrition and exercise for a complete 21 day challenge. The guidelines are very clear, and there is a plethora of information available to the folks who purchase the program. As I mentioned in my previous post, the nutrition guidelines are very similar to the way that I ate when I was my happiest, healthiest self. Nutrition is another area where I easily fall back into bad habits. The 21 day fix required me to get back into my healthy meal planning and prep practices, and be extremely mindful/conscious about the things I was putting into my body. I loved the program, and noticed extreme mental and physical benefits. I feel stronger and leaner, I lost 7 lbs (which wasn’t necessarily my goal, but hey I’ll take it), and generally feel better about myself because I am taking the time for self-care. These practices are helped greatly by the folks around me that are also trying to make similarly health-oriented lifestyle changes. It is always easier to do something when you have a supportive community around you. I not only had the accountability community via social media and the BeachBody app to do my challenges with, but I have family and friends who are supportive and even joined me for a workout or two. I am excited to continue to build on those 21 days with other programs and groups of people. I am excited to continue to focus on my health and wellness. I am excited to feel better and better about myself as a result.
One of the reasons that I am so excited about taking charge of my fitness is that it allows me a little bit of control over my body - something that I struggle with because of my gender identity. One of the things that bothers me about my body is that the way I gain weight is specifically feminine. I do not like having a curvy shape. I think the best way for me to achieve the most gender neutral body I can without surgery and/or hormones is by working to be lean and fit. This combined with the other actions I take daily to achieve a neutral presentation including chest binding, fashion choices, hair style, plain-face, etc. will certainly lead to more synchronicity of mind and body. This synchronicity is something that I have been working on since coming out publicly about my gender identity in January. It is easy to forget how much of a journey these past 9 months have been. It’s wild to think back, to look at old photos, to read old blog posts, etc. and realize all of the developments that have taken place in such a short period of time.
While I am extremely happy about my vulnerability/openness and my explorations, I have definitely come across some significant challenges. It is scary to go out in public with a chest binder on for the first time. It is scary to ask people to start calling you by a different name. It is scary to ask people to use different pronouns when they think of/address you. It is scary to reimagine yourself. It is also, however, liberating. I feel like I am finally able to deeply explore my own personal truths and live as closely by them as I can. The deeper I get into them, the scarier it becomes, yes, but also the more passionate I become about the societal/cultural issues that surround matters of personal identity. I recently read an inspiring article about the importance of asking others to use your pronouns. This piece came to me at such an important moment. I have been struggling increasingly to balance the spaces where I am out about my gender identity and the spaces where I am not. It is not easy to live divided, but that is the reality of my current situation.
Part of my hesitation about coming out in other spaces - namely work and extended family - is that I am simply scared. I don’t know how it will be taken if I ask the kids at work or my relatives to start calling me by a different name, or to use a different prefix. I don’t think it would be a big issue. I really don’t think the kids will mind; I actually think they would understand it better than the adults. But how do I ask parents to have that conversation with their kids? I think it is an important conversation, and I know it is something I will talk to my own kids about, but am I strong enough to be the person that brings gender identity issues into the lives of these families? Am I strong enough to stand up for my rights and my person to deal with any criticisms or questions that come my way? Perhaps I am being unfair to everyone else. I think the vast majority of people would be over-the-top supportive. I am sure there are families that have already had these conversations with their kids or amongst themselves. I am still, however, terrified to make the necessary changes. I am working towards it. I have to accept it by and for myself before I take the next steps. Is this fear unfounded? Certainly not. Our society is far from accepting of the spectrum of gender/sexual identities. You really never know how folks will react to these issues. I want to be one of the people that is working to change our culture to be more accepting of the gender spectrum. I’m trying. I’m getting there.
On the other side of the coin, I have entered some new spaces since coming out where I am being forthright about my gender identity from the start. One such example is my volunteer work for the Human Rights Campaign on the planning committee for this year’s annual gala. I recently had business cards made up, and am overjoyed to see my pronouns: “they, them, their” clearly listed. I have also started to include my pronouns on my email signature. It is exciting to have opportunities to introduce myself in a new way. I look forward to the day when my identity doesn’t feel new; both to me and as a part of our culture.
As always, thank you for reading. I love you. Any thoughts/ideas/comments are greatly appreciated.