The Countdown: 30 days till the journey is “done” – Day 336 (Sunday – Nov 4)

I began this journey December 4th, almost a year ago, expecting to regularly and frequently be going through the paper piles and doing lots of other things that took more courage than I felt I had. With only 30 days remaining in this year of breaking through my fears, it could be deflating to look around my room and notice the many places those paper piles have not only not shrunk, but even grown. Then again, if I take a look inside, I am in awe of the ways I have changed and been changed.

My hope for these 30 days until December 4th is that I might use this time to consider what has happened – hopefully with frequent, perhaps shorter posts (it could happen!), and I’ll try not to worry about adding pictures when I don’t have the time.

I spent the past three days with a group of amazing and wonderful people, mostly transgendered or genderqueer in some way. Most of them active and involved, even being the leaders in their various faith communities. Being around them never fails to inspire me to continue the inner work I am doing. I’d like to share some of what I wrote in my journal this morning, beginning with a verse from Psalm 90: “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.” (NKJV)

In the past day or so, I’ve been thinking about new beginnings and how this day that begins the 30-day countdown of my ‘blog journey’ feels like a new beginning to me. Interesting, how it doesn’t feel like a journey to a new beginning, for the new journey has already begun.

This verse reminds me that God has been with me throughout this year of challenges and changes. The conference felt like a time of introspection and renewal. My trans friends and colleagues rekindle my desire to do ministry even as a I also appreciate that the “be still” process needs to continue. The author of a devotion I read talks about lying in a tree house as a kid, looking up at the sky, and not needing words to talk to God. She speaks of her experience as one of being in a “sacred space.”

I thought of the “sacred spaces” created through the differing faith expressions shared at the conference. There were people from Pagan, Jewish and Christian traditions, among others. Diverse experiences of the Divine were made available to all.

I don’t know that I have ever had the experience of being truly unwelcome in a particular faith group or 12-Step meeting, although my ACA/Al-Anon mentality can sometimes leave me thinking I might be unwelcome. Most, if not all of my trans friends have been rejected from these places that usually claim to “welcome” all who feel drawn to be there. Being around them enables me to show my support for their journey and deepens my own as I consider the courage they have needed just to be who they are.

This day does feel like a “new beginning” for me. The ten(!) hours of sleep I got helped, I’m sure. Yet it’s more than that. It’s even more than being thirty days away from the end of this 366-day journey.

It’s about having learned that I can “be still” and let my insides transform so that my “outsides” can begin manifesting those changes. It’s about learning that letting go in countless small ways is teaching me how to let go in bigger ways and how to let go with even greater ease.

It’s about discovering that even trusting God happens incrementally; that it’s not a simple decision I make, after which I can heave a sigh of relief, check it off my to-do list, and call it “done.”

It’s about learning to dream again and discovering that it’s the dreaming itself that’s important. I don’t have to know if or how any of these dreams may manifest, let alone when; it’s simply important that I do the dreaming and, through giving myself that permission, experience the growing belief that I am loved by God and I am just as worthy of experiencing these dreams as anyone else – as are you.

It’s about learning to trust, one day at a time, in God’s provision for me, in God’s love for me. And as I trust, I find I do have the courage to take those next steps of my journey through life.

Note: Your comments, experiences and reflections are welcome and appreciated. This is a place where “cross talk” can be a good thing! 😉

And for anyone who might notice: Admittedly, the math of my day numbers in previous posts doesn’t quite add up from the day I began this blog journey, but I needed to keep it simple. I adjusted the day count around the first of the year, adding 20 rather than 27 to whatever day of the year my calendar said, in order to make it easier to track. Yet this is, in fact, day 336, not day 345. 🙂

Day 91 – Sun, Mar. 11th (91/275): Friends, Heroes and Unexpected Blessings

This past week I finally had a lovely, long phone conversation with a dear friend of mine. We live too far apart to get to visit in person for now, so we rely on the blessings of modern technology: texting, phone calls, emails and, when we’re both connected, online chatting. One of these days I may even get Skype on my computer, so we’ll be able to see each other while we talk.

A time to embrace...It's been too long!

We’ve been through a lot of rough patches together, when one or the other of us were going through the wringer. We’ve seen each other at our low times, when everything was falling apart, and we’ve celebrated each other’s victories. This time, we were celebrating her acquisition of her own home after years of renting. What a joy!  When she told me about having met “someone,” I told her I wasn’t surprised. She asked me why. I told her that I wasn’t surprised because the doors that opened the way to a new home are the same doors that open her life up to all the other good things. In the past five to ten years, I have seen her spread her wings, little by little, and become so much more that I suspect she would have imagined she could be.

I remember how scary some of those steps she took in her life were. When we were no longer living in the same area, we stayed in touch – sometimes daily, keeping up with each other’s lives. It has encouraged and inspired me to watch her grow, to become a woman with increasing confidence and inner strength. It helps me know that I may get there yet.

Near the end of the conversation, I said to her, “You inspire me.”

Friends don't have to be here to bring me joy - but it's nice when they are!

Some of my heroes are people I don’t even know or people I barely know. I don’t think of them as people I “worship.” I have long since outgrown that kind of hero-worship. (At least I hope so.) Heroes, to me, are people who have done something with their lives that inspires me, something I want to emulate or hope to do myself. It doesn’t have to be something big. It doesn’t have to be something public. It doesn’t even have to be something other people would notice.

I’ve mentioned before that my gay/lesbian/trans friends are among my heroes. They’ve had to swim against the current of public opinion most of their lives. Yesterday, I read a eulogy delivered at my aunt’s memorial service. I realized why I felt such a closeness to her, a desire to have her in my life. She was an amazingly strong woman who came across as gentle and quiet. Her strength came from within. Another hero.My friend has also moved into the hero group. (There are many there, with room for more.) She reminds me that we don’t have to be perfect or do things right the first time. The path to greater confidence and courage happens one small step at a time, sometimes while our knees are still shaking and our hearts pounding, sometimes with our knees skinned and bleeding from the times we’ve stumbled along the way.

 As we talked about the things we were doing to take better care of our bodies, I again appreciated how small steps make a difference over time. I’m sure her progress has come in small steps; I know mine has.

In the past week, I’ve been blessed by conversations with dear friends, blessed by three full days of additional work, and blessed by discovering an effective way to get some much-needed exercise. Plus I have a couple more “heroes” to bless me as I consider how their examples inspire and encourage me to be more and more the person I know I can be.

Noticings:

  • How good it feels to be taking even small steps toward getting more exercise.
  • How grateful I am to have been on an early wake-up schedule for a few weeks before the time change. This morning was a challenge and tomorrow my body will wonder if I’ve forgotten to finish my night’s sleep!
  • How little attention I’ve been paying to the categories I thought would drive my posts. Hmmm…
  • How my journey seems to be going into deeper issues than sorting through the scary paper piles and submitting job applications, although I still want to progress in those arenas as well.

Action step(s):

  • The addition of short, effective stair “workouts” into my days.

Day 57 – Monday, Feb. 6th (57/309): Coming out/Breaking Out

Before you leap to the popular understanding of what “coming out” means, let me start by saying that I don’t happen to be gay, bi or trans, though I count my many LGBTQ friends among my “heroes.” They have had to break through many (valid) fears and barriers to claim who they are. Whenever I’m around these friends, I wonder, how long will it take me to claim who I am, to be the person God created me to be?

I’ve carefully avoided talking about queerness in any sense of the word. And just in case you haven’t been hanging around academia in places like Berzerkley and other planets, queer is actually a term used and appreciated in academia around gender studies and the like, to explore the ways we push against the status quo and notions of the way things are or have been (as if they ever were a particular way). But I am not an academician, so I won’t even attempt to go there. I offer this point merely as a way of quieting, hopefully, the discomfort or concern some people feel about using the word “queer” in connection to notions of sexual orientation or gender.

I might as well tell you right now that I enjoy using the word “queer” because I rather like pushing against, well, lots of things that make some people uncomfortable. We are too often told what we “should” or “shouldn’t” do or say by others and that in itself is a good reason to question the way things are. (It’s also the nature of Aquarians to be a bit contrary.)

But my queerness – or lack thereof – is not what this is about for me. What I’m trying to do is to keep pushing at the boundaries I’ve built around myself that keep me from breaking through my fears. When I began considering bringing up LGBTQ topics (like, this morning), I balked. That’s not really what my blog is about, I thought. I don’t want to derail the conversation (even if it has largely been one-sided) that is here to help me break through my fears. Then I noticed that bringing up a subject about which I feel passionate (as in supporting LGBTQ people) brought up fear. Oops! And I thought this journey was merely going to be about organizing and purging the paper piles and finding adequate employment…

“Coming out,” for me, is about breaking through my fears and not being afraid to be who I am. I have so many friends who have had to face far worse fears than I do to be who they are and they are not only fine, they are amazing and often wonderfully successful because of who they are. The fact that I am so drawn to my lesbian and trans-women friends made me wonder about myself. Eventually I realized that the attraction I experience is not what I experience toward (“straight”) men, but rather the admiration for those who have had the courage to become more fully themselves.

For me, as someone who has considered herself to be shy most of her life, part of my “coming out” will be to embrace the closeted extrovert in me. I remember remarking to my pastor once that I was shy. He looked at me with a puzzled expression and said, “You’re shy?!” The memory of that moment stayed with me. It is only in the past couple of years that I have come to recognize that my shyness has really been about fear and being afraid to be who I am for fear people would dislike or reject me

There’s so much more to say on all this, but I’ll stop for now. Be prepared, though, now that I’ve brought up one of my favorite topics. (See, Aquarians really do like to be contrary and, I suspect, do a bit of trouble-making!)

Have a blessed and wonderful day being yourself!

Action step(s):

  • Writing a birthday card to my birthday “twin,” even though it’s a bit late.
  • Giving myself permission to perhaps regularly get to work early and take some time for my own tasks before “clocking in” – like writing this post.
  • Bringing up the “Q” word in this blog – despite the fact that I feel extremely nervous doing so. (Have I lost you now? ;-))

© 2013 LuciasJourney.com