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Archive for October, 2008

I fell asleep on the couch this evening while trying to grind out a few more hours of work. As often happens, sleep did not come again right away, so I searched the Internet for the blogs of my closest friends, those people whose thoughts remind me of who I am and what I believe.  I ended up at the blog of one of my newest friends, a friend whose words move me most deeply these days, regardless of her topic. My only complaint, and one I gladly suffer, is that her posts prompt so many thoughts and deep emotion that I find it hard to move on to work or other things. Instead I find myself wanting to stay and linger with her thoughts, and the thoughts they evoke in me, and to write about them, because I feel such a deep kinship with her.

So, this morning, as I sat in bed and surfed the ‘net, I read her latest post. One statement in particular in that post triggered a cascade of thoughts and feelings, reminding me of what I believe, what I know, about myself and the shared illusion of a world in which we think we live. And so I wrote. This is what I said to her in a comment I posted on her blog:

The primary teaching of A Course in Miracles is that only Love is real. Consequently, we are truly all One Being and we realize our Oneness, bring it into our awareness, when we share our love with another. It also teaches that every action, whether by ourselves or by others, is either an expression of love or a call for love. Thus, regardless of the situation, the only appropriate response to our sisters and brothers is Love, unconditional, unlimited Love.

Many years ago, not long after I began studying the Course, I decided that, to be the person I know myself to be, the person I want to express in this world, I would ask myself, “What would Love do?” or, stated somewhat differently, “What is the most loving thing to do in this situation?” When I ask myself that question, I remind myself I must include myself in answering that question, for any response that is not loving to me, as well as others, is not truly loving. And then I wait. The answer always comes, sometimes sooner, sometimes later, but it always come. I make mistakes all the time, mostly by forgetting to ask the question and mostly by not being loving to myself, which I find much more difficult than being loving to others. But each day I learn and the answers come more quickly and more as an expression of who I am and less as the result of conscious thought. These and the other lessons I have learned from the Course have truly transformed my life and led me to be the woman I am today. There are many other spiritual paths that lead to this same place. The Course just happens to be mine.

Why do I share these thoughts here? They were all triggered by this statement from this post: “My search for more validity and ‘realness’ can only come in community, sister- and brotherhood with others . . . “ Love is only real, can only truly be experienced, when it is shared. By being shared, it expands and I come closer to realizing the Truth of who I am, the Truth of who we all are. For that I need community. I need you and all the others loving friends I have found in my life, on the ‘net and off.

Thank you, my friend, for being a loving friend to me and all who come to this place and read your words. They are gifts beyond measure.

Blessings,
Abby

Cross-posted from my ACIM blog.

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Well, a friend and fellow blogger has tagged me with one of those chain letter/blog thingy’s. Although there’s a bit of political motive here, I like the ideas behind it: to honor 8 others whose blogs I love to read, and to list 8 places in the United States where I’d love to live. So, here’s the task:

Where Would Your 8 Homes Be?

List them. You don’t have to list your reasons, but if you do at least for a few of them, it would be more fun. And remember that the only rule is: the homes must be within the borders of the United States of America or else, within the borders of the country you live in, so as to utterly emulate the McCains. When you’re done, tag 8 people, so that they may join in the self-indulgence, forgetting about the crappy property market and the equivalent of The End of Pompeii on Wall-Street. You could spend your time hammering your doors and windows shut in preparation for the apocalypse instead, but it would be much less fun.

First, my eight bloggers, in no particular order are: Lisa Harney, Questioning Transphobia; Leith, aka riftgirl, Being T; Allyson Robinson, Crossing the T; Callan; Lori, Lori’s Revival; Keri Renault, Words that Transcend; Autumn Sandeen, The View from (Ab)Normal Heights; Sonora Sage, Reflected Wisdom.

Where would I love to live? These are some of my favorite places:

(1) Swan Valley, Idaho lies along the South Fork of the Snake River, one of the premier flyfishing streams in the U.S. Actually, the Snake is a major river, but it’s full of islands and small braids, so, even though it is also one of the most heavily fished rivers in the U.S., it still retains a wonderful intimacy. But most of all, I love this place because I spent many wonderful days on the river with my father before he passed on, with my children, and just by myself floating along becoming part of the river and its life.

(2) Stanley Basin, Idaho. Nestled at the foot of the Sawtooth Mountains, which aren’t as tall but are just as beautiful, if not more so, than the Tetons along the Idaho/Wyoming border, this is one of the most beautiful places in the country. Although this area is growing and changing like everywhere else in the West, it’s isolation, high altitude, extreme winters, and land use restrictions resulting from Congress’ creation of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in 1972, have kept its most important values, and vistas, intact.

When I was young, my family spent many wonderful times in this area camping and fishing. They are some of the best memories of my childhood. While still in college, I spent two summers here working for the U.S. Forest Service, which was hard to beat for a summer job. That experience led me to realize one of my lifelong dreams of fighting forest fires, and, later, being a smokejumper. (Yes, I was one of those crazy “guys” – yes, we were all guys; the Forest Service was only just beginning to allow women on fire crews back then – who jumped out of perfectly good airplanes to fight forest fires. If you look closely at the roster here, you’ll find me listed, although my name is slightly different. For some reason, I didn’t make the crew photo for that year, though. That’s probably for the best, at this point. Although it’s kind of tempting to register as a member on the McCall smokejumper website and stake my claim as the first woman smokejumper in the U.S.)

Even better, I have seen been back to the Stanley Basin with my own children, camping in the exact same camp spot as my family when I was young, hiking and fishing in some of the same spots. The day that all three of my daughters and I spent flyfishing on the Salmon River below Stanley was an experienced I never anticipated. Those, too, are memories to be treasured.

(3) Seattle, Washington. I lived in Seattle for 12 years after law school. Seattle is a beautiful city, vibrant and diverse. You can find any type of neighborhood you could ever want there.

It didn’t turn out to be the best place for me, though, at least, not at that time. I crashed and burned in my job from depression and unacknowledged gender dysphoria, my marriage got continually worse, and my wife moved from alcoholism to IV drug addiction. We moved away (to Montana) in 1994, my wife OD’d (but survived, thankfully) a couple months later, and my marriage (and my life) fell apart. It’s an experience I would never wish on anyone, but it’s what it took to get me to where, and who, I am today. For that, I will always be grateful.

(4) Livingston, Montana. Livingston is where we moved to from Seattle. I only lived there for 5 months, but my ex and my daughters lived there for another 4 years. Livingston lies right on the Yellowstone River where it turns east after running north out of Yellowstone Park for about 50 miles. Livingston is an interesting mix of art galleries, fly fishing shops and traditional, small-town Montana life, what with celebrities like Steven Seagal and others living in Paradise Valley south of there along the Yellowstone. It also offers easy access to world-class flyfishing. (Anyone notice a theme here?)

(5) Stanford, California. I attended Stanford University in the early ‘70’s. (Yes, I am that old.) Stanford and the nearby Palo Alto area is one of the most idyllic urban locales in the country. I would have loved to stay in the Bay Area (I went to UC Berkeley – Boalt Hall for law school a few years later), but I knew I didn’t want to work as hard as I would have to, to be able to afford to live there, so I’ve only been back a few times.

(6) Prescott, Arizona. I’ve lived in Prescott since 1995 (except for a short and disastrous year and a half when I moved to the Chandler/Mesa area (Phoenix suburbs) as part of an ill-fated romance). I never intended to stay in Prescott, but it’s turned out to be a good place for me. If I have to live in Arizona, I can’t think of a better place to be (except maybe Tucson – see below). Prescott is in the mountains at 5300’ right at the boundary between the ponderosa pine forest and the high mountain chaparral. It’s a delightful place to live, if a mite conservative politically. There are a few of us here, however, that are anything but conservative.

(7) Eugene, Oregon. We visited friends in Eugene several times while we lived in Seattle. It’s a wonderful place with the University of Oregon, plenty of old-style hippie culture, mountains, lakes, flyfishing, and the Oregon coast only a short drive away. It’s a tempting place to live, even now.

(8) Tucson, Arizona. As I wrote before, I’m thinking about moving to Tucson. I have lots of good friends there (*waves to Lori and Liz*), they have a vibrant LGBT community, including a large and active trans community, the University of Arizona ensures an ongoing mix of cultural offerings, and it’s the most liberal community – politically and culturally – in Arizona. If I can figure out a way to pay for the move, it’s probably where I’m going to end up next.

Thanks, my friend, for leading me gently down this road of looking back at my past and forward to my future, and remembering some of the things that are important to me.

OK, so what about the rest of you. Where would you live, and why?

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The November 2008 issue of The Atlantic magazine contains an article called “A Boy’s Life.”  It’s a comprehensive exploration of the topic of transgender children:  where it comes from, the struggles that parents and children experience as they strive to find ways to deal with it, and the difficult choices they must make in that process.

I’m not sure how I feel about this article.  Much of it is troubling, since I wish the whole topic of the origins of being transgender and how best to treat it to be neat and simple, but it just isn’t.  In the end, I believe that children should be allowed to make their own decisions to the extent that’s feasible.  (Obviously, that’s a huge loophole, but, for the moment, I have neither the time nor the inclination to try to define my position any further.)  If a child typed as a boy at birth wants to live as a girl, she should be allowed to do that with her parents’ support.  At the same time, her parents need to make clear that either choice is OK.  If she later decides that she wants to live as a boy, that too should be allowed.  Will it be more difficult then?  Yes, of course.  Every choice we make has consequences and, as much as we might like to, we cannot insulate our children from the consequences of their choices any more than we can avoid the consequences of our own.  But I believe that the challenges of returning to life as a boy, after living as a girl for weeks or months or years, will be less traumatic than growing up never having had the chance to have that experience and to make a more informed decision about her future.

Eventually, she will be faced with decisions that will have permanent, physical consequences — whether to begin cross-sex hormones, whether to have SRS.  That is where the use of hormone blockers has the greatest benefit, since they delay the onset of changes that will make living in her affirmed gender infinitely harder until she has the maturity and the information she needs to make that momentous decision, while retaining the option of allowing her puberty to proceed as it would without intervention.  In the end, however, it must be her decision, not her parents’, not her doctor’s.  None of can know what is truly best for another person, even our children.  All we can do is ask Spirit to guide our choices and the choices of our children and then trust that She will respond to our calls.

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A friend shared this video with me and now I would like to share it with you.  It states the things that are essential to a life of peace and joy, the life that each of us — trans, non-trans, gay, straight, black, white, Christian, Jew or Muslim — deserve, but many do not enjoy.  I’m doing what I can today to make these rights a reality.  Are you?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “The Universal Declaration of Human Ri…“, posted with vodpod

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