Accidental Fudge

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Tag: happy new year

Action

Happy New Year, readers! The adventure(?) that was 2017 has ended, and 2018 has begun. Last year was a rough one on a global level, but while my generalized anxiety reached new heights, I can’t say it was a terrible year for me personally. Sure, I didn’t knit as much as I usually do and I spent a lot of the year feeling an overwhelmingly hopeless sense of doom…but I also strengthened some really meaningful friendships, went to Song School, wrote 20 new songs…and I survived. A lot of pieces of my life that felt chaotic and unsettled for a long time have calmed down significantly, to the point where I feel like I’m coming out of survival/energy conservation mode and into a place where I can DO things.

Which brings me to the point of this first post of 2018. I don’t do a lot with concrete resolutions, but I’ve liked the idea that I’ve seen of choosing a word with which to frame the new year. My word for 2018: Action. I am still sussing out exactly what that means for my year, but I know it means a few things for sure:

  1. Taking better care of my mental health, particularly in terms of anxiety. I am back in therapy with a new therapist, and my goal is to work on finding better coping mechanisms and strategies for dealing with the anxiety that has become a constant under the current political administration in the U.S. I’ve identified some triggers and some key areas where I shut down, and while I know this will be hard work, I am at a point where I feel like I can do it.
  2. Taking better care of myself physically. I’ve started physical therapy for my right knee, which has been acting up since Thanksgiving, and as long as I keep up with the exercises, it really does help. Today I’m going to the doctor to follow up on some high blood pressure results from the last time I was there. I have a few other longstanding issues that I want to work on, too (chronic pain, follow-up on some issues I had before we moved to Chicago that should probably be checked out).
  3. Being more politically active. I want to call congresspeople, and be involved in local politics somehow, and stay outraged and stay active. Because this nightmare of an administration isn’t going away on its own. I can’t do everything, I can’t fix it all, but what little bit is in my control, I feel like I need to follow through on.

The brilliant S. Bear Bergman wrote a really wonderful bit about this in his Ask Bear column this week, and you should read it here if you, like me, are feeling overwhelmed here at the start of 2018. Here’s to tackling this new year “bird by bird” (to quote Anne Lamott), or “one penguin at a time” (to quote Bear’s article). We can only do what we can do. For myself, that means better self-care and more external action. Inertia is hard to overcome, but it’s time.

Welcome to 2017

It’s a new year, and one in which a lot of things look scary and uncertain. And I’m sick. I’m writing this on Wednesday; I’ve missed two days of work and I can’t breathe through my nose. Not exactly how I wanted to start the year off.

Still,  it hasn’t all been terrible. Here’s a short list of nice things that have happened in the last week:

  • My partner and I had a low-key New Year’s Eve – we had ribs and mashed potatoes for dinner, and then spent the rest of the evening playing Scrabble, drinking wine, and watching a movie. It was a lovely way to ring in the new year. And I actually made it past midnight, which hasn’t happened the past couple of years.
  • I’ve gotten a lot of knitting done. This is often the upshot of being sick and missing work. I finished the sweater I agreed to knit for my coworker’s kid, and started on a blanket for my nephew, whose birthday is coming up in a couple of months.
  • As much as being sick is no fun, I’m trying to see the bright side of it, like the fact that I was able to catch up on a bunch of sleep and get some much-needed time to myself (even if most of that time has been spent in a sort of feverish haze).

 

 

Reflections and Resolutions, 2016 Edition

Well, folks, here we are at the end of 2015, and what can I say except…it’s been a year.

The past 12 months have held some of the hardest and best decisions I’ve ever made for the sake of my mental health. It’s been a year of purging in many areas of my life – from clothes and books and other belongings to toxic relationships – and while it hasn’t been easy, overall I’d say it’s been worth it. I’ve learned a lot about myself, about who I am and what I believe, about what works for me and what doesn’t. I’m exiting this year feeling better about myself, my space, and my relationships than I did entering it. Which, as it turns out, fulfills the loose goals I set for myself last year.

Some things, sadly, have not changed since I wrote that post last year. Police have continued to murder black people and suffer few – if any – consequences for it. Violence against trans women, particularly trans women of color, has continued to occur at alarming rates. It’s a frightening world we live in, and as a white dude, I have far fewer reasons to be frightened than most people. I am still learning how to use this new voice and new privilege for good, and I know I fall far short the majority of the time.

As I’m writing this post the day before New Year’s Eve, I’m formulating a little intention-setting ritual for ringing in the new year. At this point, it’s going to look something like this:

Supplies

  • Tea lights (real candles, not the electronic ones)
  • Tea light holders
  • A toothpick or pocket knife
  • Somewhat concrete goals for the year
  • Matches or a lighter

Ritual

  1. On each tea light, use the toothpick or pocket knife to carve a word or symbol representing a goal for the new year.
  2. Place the tea lights in their holders.
  3. While lighting each candle, take a few moments to focus on what the manifestation of that goal will look like.
  4. Once all the candles are lit, spend a few minutes watching the flames in meditation/reflection.
  5. Let the candles provide the ambiance for the evening as they burn all the way down.

That’s it. Super simple, but still something a little special to mark the beginning of a new (re)commitment to a goal. (I’m still working out exactly what goals I’m going to set for the year…perhaps one of them should be, “learn to be more decisive!”)

I’m not sorry to see 2015 go, but I feel like we’re parting on mostly amicable terms. I’m looking forward to 2016 and all the promise that it holds!

Reflections and Resolutions

This post will go live on January 1, 2015. As I’m writing this (on December 31, 2014) and reflecting back on the past twelve months, I am a little overwhelmed. On the one hand, 2014 was a year of many personal joys and triumphs – it was my first full year on testosterone, I feel more at home in my body than I ever really have, it’s been a great year at work, I got to be an Uncle Ommer, I managed to write a blog post every single week for a whole year, and I legally changed my name last month. But it’s been a hard year, too. The chronic back pain I’ve dealt with since middle school is becoming a more persistent problem. It’s become evident that my biological family on the whole has no real intention of affirming (or even acknowledging) the fact that I’m transitioning, even if I give them explicit examples of how they can do this. Many people dear to me have experienced loss of many kinds and wrestled (or are wrestling) with particularly dark periods of depression and anxiety.

From a national standpoint, it’s been a year marked by racist police violence and the murders of young black men at the hands of cops, which has shed much (but, as always, not enough) light on how systemically ingrained racism is in the world, and how determined so many white people are to be oblivious to it. As is sadly the case every year, trans people all over the world suffered unspeakable violence and hatred; just this past week, a young trans woman named Leelah Alcorn took her life because she felt she had no future, because her Christian parents forced her into “reparative” therapy, isolated her, and took away any hope she might have had. We need to do better. I want so desperately to believe that we can.

There’s still much to be learned from 2014, but it’s also definitely time to start moving forward and learning what 2015 will bring. I’m not usually one for resolutions, but there are a handful of things I want to work on this year:

  1. I want to take better care of my body. I am less concerned with weight loss (I’ve been at a stable weight for a whole year for the first time in my life, and that is more important to me that whatever else that number is or is not), but I’ve had chronic pain issues I’ve been pretty much ignoring for a long time now, and it’s time I dealt with that. Testosterone has reshaped my body into something I actually appreciate, and both for my own sake and the sake of my loved ones (who take such wonderful care of me when I’m in too much pain to effectively take care of myself), I need to start treating it with more respect.
  2. I want to de-clutter and take better care of my living and working spaces. I have way, way too much stuff. My partner and I have plans to go through everything in our apartment over the next six months or so and discard or donate all of the things we’re not using, don’t need, and just aren’t excited about anymore. It’s an overwhelming prospect, but I think we’ll both be happier for it in the end. (I undertook the process of cleaning off my desk at work last week, and discovered I actually do like having an orderly workspace, despite my tendency toward clutter. I think it was the encouragement I needed to get started.)
  3. I want to do a better job of taking care of my loved ones. I have always been very good at being there when people reach out for help, but I have a long way to go in remembering to reach out to people who can’t do that for themselves. It’s been my goal each of the past few years to get better at creating safe spaces for the people who walk in and out of my life. I think I’ve succeeded in that, but there’s always room for improvement.

It feels weird to put myself first on that list, but one of the things I’ve had to relearn (and relearn, and relearn) over the past handful of years is that if I’m not taking care of myself, I really can’t take care of anything or anyone else. I’ve gained a more concrete understanding of what that means this year, and particularly related to the goals above: If I don’t take better care of my body, I physically can’t help my partner clean and de-clutter the apartment. I can’t pick things up off the floor right now. It’s a problem. I want to help, so I need to get my body back into reasonably working order. Additionally, when I’m in pain all the time, that decreases the amount of mental energy I have to take care of other people. Bipolar cycles can greatly affect how much space I have in my head and heart for other people’s problems, no matter how well I manage that, so I need to be extra certain that I’m regulating how much energy my body is taking away from that store, too.

2014 was a big year, but I’m ready to part ways with it. Here’s to a brighter 2015!

The Obligatory New Year’s Post

It’s official: 2013 is over. It’s been a big year for a lot of reasons, and while it may be cliche, I think there is some value in looking back and looking ahead, and the start of a new year feels like a good/convenient/why not time to do that.

So for starters, let’s look back on 2013, shall we?

  • Sometime around the beginning of the year, I decided I needed to get back to job hunting, because eight unpaid days off over the holidays (and more unpaid days off after I threw out my back in the first week back) forced me to acknowledge that my job was neither what I wanted nor what I needed.
  • In January, I threw out my back. My partner was taking a nap on the futon, and I bent down to pat hir on the head, and couldn’t stand back up. I missed three-and-a-half days of work. I probably should have gone to the doctor, but I couldn’t handle the thought.
  • April was marked by another instance I shall not recount here when I should have gone to the doctor, but couldn’t handle the thought. I was too afraid of going in and being constantly misgendered by medical professionals.
  • In June, I hit my first quarter century.
  • At the end of July, I FINALLY got a new job, one that was full time and gave me my own health insurance plan. Suddenly I was in a work environment where I could be out, where I could be assertive about pronouns. It was a huge shift, and got my mind whirling out of control about the issue of physical transition, which had previously been nothing more than a very shadowy dream.
  • By the end of August, I was having pretty terrible panic attacks at the idea of social interaction anywhere that I wasn’t out and knew I would be read as female the majority of the time.
  • September 1, my health insurance kicked in. I had my very own plan for the first time, and a good one at that. I scheduled a doctor’s visit at Howard Brown Health Center for mid-September, thinking initially that I would just go in for a routine check-up, but realizing by the time the day arrived that I was going to ask about starting on testosterone.
  • When I called the clinic to schedule my other two appointments in the Informed Consent process, I found out I would have to wait until Halloween to continue the process. I grabbed the appointment, and told myself it would be okay, because it would give my partner and me time to discuss what I was doing.
  • It was okay. I have the best, most supportive partner ever.
  • November 7, 2013, I had my first injection of testosterone cypionate. I have never been so calm about a decision in my life as I was in that waiting room, even though my appointment wound up starting an hour after it was supposed to.

2013 has been quite the ride. Here are some things I’m looking forward to in 2014:

  • A shaving supply shopping date with my partner. (The peach fuzz is coming in!)
  • The facial hair that will necessitate the above. (I’m aware that this is going to take a couple of years, probably, before it’s really all there. But whatever.)
  • A trip back to Minnesota in February to watch one of my pieces (and the pieces of several other writers) be performed in The Naked I: Insides Out.
  • A deeper voice. (I’ve already noticed that I can hit more low notes with more volume when I’m singing.)
  • Learning new things at work.
  • Learning new things at home (about me, about my partner, about whatever manic obsessions I develop as time progresses).
  • The birth of my first nephew, and learning what it means to be Ommer Alyx.
  • Knitting more.
  • Writing more.
  • Reading more.
  • Expanding this blog.

It’s an incomplete list, to be sure. But I’m very excited to see what this new year brings!

Cheers!

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