Everyone Has Something To Offer

“What really burns me up,”  Dr S. Kristine James said to me, “is watching old guys who just stay home and watch TV, or maybe drive their wives around.  Hell some of them don’t even drive anymore, they just follow their wife to the story like a puppy dog.

“Why don’t they volunteer, at the library, at the museum, something?   Why don’t they?

“Everyone has something to offer,” she told me.  “Everyone.”

“You realize what you just said, don’t you?”  I asked.


“It’s the theme for your keynote speech.”   She laughed.

Kristine isn’t a speaker, not a talker.  Kristine is a doer, and that’s why she has built special conferences and places for her people since 1986 when she formed CrossDressersInternational in NYC.  Twenty seven years of offering her service to people she cares for, twenty seven years of trying to get other transpeople to see that everyone has something to offer.

She may bark orders and play tough, but I saw her run around the table to hug a frightened newbie.  She told the story of a terrified CD on their first night at the CDI apartment who was too scared to move, so she and another gal each took and arm and carried the new gal to the restaurant, where a few glasses of wine loosened her up and started her exploration of self.

TBB and I chatted about this.  TBB started Southern Comfort Conference after her experience at IFGE 1989 with the goal to bring together a wide range of trans communities in a southern style.  She was arguing that she was a CD voice there, but that’s not the way I saw her.

On my first evening at SCC 1993, I came up to her at dinner after chatting in a session.  She told me that she was hosting the talent show, and I joked “I always knew you wanted to be a mistress, just not a mistress of ceremonies.”

“That’s funny,” she told me.  “Come on up and host the talent show with me.  You can do it.”

“Don’t you have a script already?”

“I have nothing.”

I scrambled around to get something ready, smashing the leg off a hotel table as I carried it to the stage, a bit unsteady in my heels, and we did our first show together.  I set it up like the Tonight show, and I played Edwina McMahon who chortled and guffawed as a toadie to the host, all the time giving TBB funny lines to transition between the performers.  You can’t put a writer on stage, but if you disguise the writer as a stooge, well, that will work.  Next day, though, many people came up to me and commented how drunk I was.  No.

The next night, the performers didn’t show and TBB had to vamp.  I tried to cue her to a piece I gave her the night before and she hauled me up on stage.  That’s how The Drama Queens (We have no act!  We have no talent!  We are The Drama Queens!) were born.

“The first time I met you,” I reminded her, “you told me that I had something to offer, and I had to do it now.  Onstage.  I find it hard to believe you only did that with me.”

TBB agreed.  “Yeah, that’s probably my primary contribution.  I always could see talent in people and help them bring it out.  Everyone has something to offer.”

Holly Boswell has long brought her own nature based spirituality to the SCC.  “I really didn’t get what Holly was doing,” TBB told me.  “To me it seemed like bullshit, as I’d rather belt out a showtune.  But I did get how many people said that Holly’s sessions were the absolute best they attended, transformative and empowering, and that’s why I always supported her.”

In the end, the most important thing isn’t becoming the same, but becoming ourselves.  Both TBB and I agree that what we want is for Holly to be more Holly, for everyone to be more themselves and to offer their own unique and potent gifts to the group and to the world.   We each need to fight our own fight for authenticity and power, not getting lost in the struggles of others.

In fact, what TBB did at SCC was to keep the hoards of crossdressers at bay, so diverse voices always had space in the spotlight and not just around the edges.  She left and that diversity suffered, so while SCC still has diversity at the margins, it’s not quite so queer in the centre.

What both Kristine and TBB know, know deep in their bones, is that if you give someone the gift of trusting in what they have to offer — and everyone has something to offer — that you give them the gift not just of giving, but also of receiving.

When you open yourself to give to others, you open yourself.   And that means you are also open to receiving as you work with others.   This is one reason that service to others is always service to ourselves.     You build relationship and value, so everybody benefits.

Number five on my “What You Need To Know” piece is “The most painful thing about trans is not being able to give your gifts and have them accepted.”

Kristine knows this.  So does TBB.

They know that everyone has something to offer, and when you make a space, give them a chance and encourage them to offer it, you build better people and better communities.

This is what they offered.  And I thank them for it.

And so, I offer what I pulled to play when I toasted Kristine at her last gala as conference chair on Saturday night.

This one’s for you, Doc.

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace
How Sweet The Sound
To Save A Wretch Like Me.
I Once Was Lost
But Now Am Found
Was Blind
But Now Can See.

I saw Dr. S. Kristine James in her pink “conference” gown outside the room where she was throwing her last Gala as founding chair of The Empire Conference, surrounded by men in skirts.   That might not be a surprise at a transgender conference, but these people had hairy knees and under plaid.  They were the pipes and drums, here for the event downstairs, the 100th anniversary of the Ladies Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

They walked onto the dance floor and the sound filled the room, filling the soul with drone and melody, as the pipes were designed to do so many centuries ago.  The tune was Amazing Grace and I started to smile.   Then I started to laugh.   I can always tell a good performance of Amazing Grace because I start to laugh, feeling the grace inside of me.

I was singing it once in college when this bantam Christian guy on my floor got offended, saying I didn’t understand the meaning, that I wasn’t entitled to sing it.   “Of course I know the meaning,” I told him.  “Grace was a hooker in Glasgow.”  People laughed and he turned beet red at the perceived slap at his ownership of grace.  The amazing grace of our creator that can save us is there for everyone, even a battered bunch of trannies dressed to the nines and gathered in a hotel function room, or a sex worker in old town.

I had come to the Empire Conference this year for two reasons.  The first was as an observer.   Even though it only happened fifteen miles from here, I hadn’t been able to come for the decade I was taking care of my parents; they demanded too much of me.    This year I could pitch in and be of service in some way.

And the second reason, of course, was to work the process, to see where it took me.  I went to Startup Weekend wondering if I was still smart about business and working the process told me not only that I was still capable, but that my own authentic self had to come into play too.    I hadn’t be able to offer a seminar or plan a presentation for this year, the deadline passing as my parents were dying, so I had no expectations to bring, no goals to meet.

I assumed that I would just be supporting the experienced on-site registration team.   That’s not how it turned out.  My two colleagues had other needs and left much of the work to me.  I spent more hours and solved more situations than they did.   They reminded me, though, of so much of what happens at trans-events, where people see the world through their own internalized values.  One, a woman I knew from decades ago, was sure I should work on my voice and get some work on my face to pass better in the world, while the other, advertising chair at Fantasia Fair was sure I would enjoy a week with the crossdressers in Provincetown.  Both wrong.

My real job, though, was supporting Kristine through her last days as conference chair.  I solved problems, encouraged her to tell her stories, and talked about the shared history we both experienced.   That work included getting pulled onto the dance floor during the first dance and starting a wild three way spin-around, management again taking the lead to encourage involvement and engagement.   I even had to stand up for Kristine a bit with the new young LGBT team that supported the enormous Provider’s Day sessions, hosting almost 150 health care professionals who wanted to learn how to support gender-variant identified clients.

My own work started when, after the Friday morning rush,  I dropped into a session run by the local Advocates.  I chose to speak up a bit, talking about the trans twist on the imagining of the one day when all gay and lesbian people turn pink, so we can see how diverse and omnipresent they are.  We need transcool people to turn pink, to know how safe we are, telling the story of how Penny was scared about going to change sex on her driver’s licence in very red rural Virginia, but the clerk just smiled and said “I have a cousin just like you.  We’ll fix you right up, honey.”    I talked about how the growing visibility of diverse transpeople was important, because rather than being like people who just knew there was red wine, white wine and maybe rose, the world was learning that a chardonnay and a pinot grigio were the same but different.  Being out around diverse gender people, we may know that, but it’s important the world sees us each as individuals, and appreciates our own unique bouquet and character.

As the group broke, four or five people asked when  I was presenting my session, because they wanted to come.  As I talked to people over the weekend, this was the most simple understanding, that I am still smart about the trans experience.  When people brought up a topic, I had something useful and well through through to add, mixing personal experience and the theological work of understanding the lessons from shared story.   My contribution was valuable, and most often, valued.  That was important.

The two professionals leading the provider’s day even asked me to offer an appreciation to Kristine for her decades of service to the interlocking communities around trans at the big lunch, knowing my voice could help the health professionals understand her lasting value.

As a woman, I know that relationships always work better when people find themselves attracted to me, rather than me trying to make other people notice me.   Breaking through is the hard part.

One woman who noticed me quickly was coming to her first trans conference ever.   That doesn’t mean she was a newbie.  At 15, with a mother who helped, she went to Callen-Lorde in NYC to start hormones and has been living as a woman since.   At 33, though, her current job in law enforcement was questioned when state officials realized she had answered the question about registering for selective service two different ways, and that flagged her.  In the end, she was safe, because the feds knew all about her history, but the experience shook her, making her realize that in this age of information, perfect stealth is impossible.

She told me her story.  When I asked if her boy name was very masculine, she stopped.

“I never tell people my birth name.  Never.” she said.  “I hate it when they want to know my “real” name.”

“But I’m going to tell you.”  And she did.  It was an incredible moment of trust, and a moment of exposure she wanted to do, a freeing moment.  I was honoured.

She hadn’t figured out what she needed to do, yet.  Maybe work with at risk trans identified youth.  Maybe, but that felt risky and uncomfortable.

“Maybe your work is around law enforcement,” I suggested.   That felt risky too, because she found out that so many people in that profession have judged all transpeople on the offenders they see, the marginalized and vulnerable transpeople who engage in sex work and such.  They don’t believe transpeople can be capable professionals contributing to the community.

Amanda Simpson spoke as the Saturday keynote with a dynamite speech.   A professional who entered politics and was the first transwoman appointed by the president, she made an impact.

My new friend went to up to speak with her after the speech and then she came and pushed her phone into my hands.

“You have to take a picture of me with Amanda,” she said.  “I want to put it up on my Facebook and show those people at work!”

She has applied for other jobs because she really wants to build a career and do important work, but she hasn’t heard back.   Now, because of Ms. Simpson, she is thinking that maybe being out and authentic will make her voice more potent, allowing her to do the work and build a more potent life.  Great.

As the femme woman who ran the local Pride center and is now part of a special initiative to get bright young diverse leaders into government told me, we always recognize family.

I recognized Ava.   Youthful and petite and beautiful, her life has twisted through time.  She knew early she was trans, one of three male siblings who were all LGBT, but challenges like her mother’s suicide lead her to live as a gay male hairdresser.  Now, her business has died and she has been reborn.

She came with a crossdressing friend and took care of them, and as I registered them, her energy just shone.  Maybe it was when her eyes, filled with compassion and hard earned wisdom came out from behind her chic wraparound sunglasses to show attention, or maybe it was just the voice, asking and knowing at the same time.

Whatever it was, I can damn well tell an insanely powerful trans-shaman when I see one, all broken and brilliant, busted and brave, walking in the world both wounded and healer.  I caught up with her at the bar and asked her story, reflecting the intense strength I saw in her.    She may be a Samantha while I am a Miranda, but we knew each other as sisters.

I got to see myself a bit through her wise eyes.  “Why don’t you trust that men will treat you as a woman?  I’ve been around women a long time honey, and you are definitely a woman.”  “What do you mean you don’t feel safe flirting?  You have been flirting like mad with everyone since I met you!”   Last week, when I caught a glimpse of myself in boy clothes reflected in the shop windows at my sister’s mall, I was stunned how old I looked.  But when I asked Ava how old I looked, she said that I looked a bit older than her, in my middle to late forties.  For someone a decade older than that, it was a great affirmation.

I started talking to Ava about starting a practice, about marketing her skills to those looking for support in change in the world.  Trans-shamans can help the world heal, I told her, and get themselves taken care of in the process.   As I drove back to grab a change and a recording of My Way that I wanted to use to honor Kristine, I realized what I had always known: When I am called to give advice, I better damn listen closely, because it’s usually meant for me, too.

Ava did my makeup before the gala, a bit disappointed in my sheepskin boots, black velvet pants, and beaded black jacket.  She wanted me in more color, more skin, but then realized that I’m a femmedyke.    We chatted, about the challenges of having a transbody in a way that women would share, but that I never get to share with other grown-up transwomen.

When I got into the elevator in the parking garage to go to the Gala, there was a big woman in there, uncomfortably wearing an emerald green sequined evening gown with two wrist corsages.  I tried to figure out what was going on, but when she spoke, I realized she was born female, only dressed like a CD.

“Are you going to the Hibernian event too?” her friend asked me.

I smiled.  “No, there is another event in the hotel tonight,” I said.

Later, I met Ava in the ladies room and stood with her as she repaired her face before going back to the admirer who had been paying attention to her.  It was the first time I felt safe just chatting in the ladies, safe with a girlfriend who got the struggle.

The big woman in the sequin dress was there, and in her boisterous and gregarious Irish manner, she was holding her arms over her head, saying the dress was killing her and she might have to keep her arms up through work on Monday.

“Ah yes,” I said.  “That sequin rash will hill you.”

Her girlfriend laughed and said “What we do for beauty!”


I would have liked to party a bit more, but with 8 AM reporting times, I was tired, said my farewekks and drove back.  I know I will be in touch with Ava again, and I know that I still have much to process from this immersion, this affirmation.

As I turned into the subdivision, I was going east for the first time.  There she was, huge and luminous, just over the tract houses full of people who I fear won’t understand, who won’t get my own jokes and my own beauty.

My mother in the sky showed herself, a full moon low enough to touch, shining brightly in the darkness.

She had come to welcome me, to wish me blessings and to remind me that I too could shine if I trust my own power in the world.

Thanks to Kristine for building the space for this to happen, thanks to Ava and all the others who touched me at this conference, everyone from a father who is fighting hard to make safe space for his trans daughter to a pastor who is finding her new voice to a she-male porn star/husband (she only does solo sets, though.)

And thanks to my mother moon for bringing me the amazing grace to participate in the process.

One step at a time, eh?

Therapist ‘Tude

There is a syndrome among therapists that I find a bit challenging.  Some therapists — and I do mean some — really think that because they are the professional, they are always the smartest person in the room.

I had that happen today at the conference.  A therapist wanted to hell me how things are, and I offered a smart and thoughtful counterpoint.  In business, when you find someone smart in the room, the best choice is always to leverage them, to see what you can get from them.   But this MSW?  No, she needed to challenge me at every turn. She needed to be the smartest person in the room, the one with the answers.

It’s amazing how abject those who want to help transpeople see us. I had one crossdresser wife in a doubleknit turquoise walk up to me and review my wig.  In her view, the colour works with my skin tone and the shape is acceptable.  I just said “It’s amazing what they can do with plastic nowadays,” but I found the whole thing incredibly rude.

I gave the doctor who was interested copies of some speeches yesterday.   The “Fear Of Fabulous,”  IFGE 1995 and SCC 1995.   Today I fell off her radar, as she attended to the more abject people than I.

To be powerful and trans at this conference is to be wrong, at least according to the professionals who are out to help us.

But one old acquaintance who noted the name on my badge is Cali and not Callan said “You are always changing aren’t you?”

Somehow, I just can’t think of any other way.

Bloody Minded

There are many times I wish I was more bloody minded.

That’s a British phrase meaning obstinate or determined.  “That bloody minded fool just won’t let it go!”

I’m at the conference, and I have had some thought about who I want to be there, what performance I need to explore.   I know what I should be doing.

But that’s not quite what I am doing.  Instead am having a discussion with an very old acquaintance who tells me that if I am just more like her, with a more modulated voice and more facial work that I can pass in the world as being born female.

You know, that brings up all my old stuff.  I have the dream, oh yes, I have the dream.   My paths to orgasm have always fallen on that dream; if I was just more young, more ripe, more female.  Oh, to be a girl, a hot girl, a sweet girl, a loved girl.

Not going to happen, though.  Not in this lifetime, anyway.  But the dream?  It still pulls me.  My missing girlhood, you know?   Adultified early.

This woman is all about the genderqueer folks, the few who walk bravely through the world with an neutral or mixed expression.   Yet when I talk about the fact that we all construct our presentation, she resists.  Does clothing really say that much about us?  She doesn’t want to think so.

My history is genderqueer.  I came out a as a guy in a dress, found myself a gender neutral name, and never want to lose the voice I have which reflects my complicated history and lattice work of scars, even as I transcend them.

I talk to her about how passing restricts her voice, and she says that she can pass in the world and still have a transvoice when needed.

She loves the work she has done at voice classes, the way she has altered her body (even if genital modification wasn’t required for her) and she holds that dear.   She also venerates those who can walk in the world visibly genderqueer.   But my balance of these components, transnatural and shamanistic, well, shouldn’t I be more like her?  Even if I explain that being 5′ 7″ and 150 lbs is very different from me, she persists in old tranny tropes; aren’t there large women, too?

I know the dream, I really do.  And a lost girlhood is at the essence of what haunts me, even as I know that if I had a perfect girlhood, something else would haunt me.  Humans, well, we are made to be haunted.

I don’t want to be swept into her fears.  It was much more fun to be swept into the dreams of another woman, who has been through recovery, who is a parent with three kids and sole custody of the two youngest, and who has yet to make the leap into the world of women.   She is so bright and textured, yet her shiny, candy coloured appearance, with a helmet of wig belies the nuance she holds.   The person on the inside isn’t showing yet in the presentation, which is pretty but not beautiful, not as beautiful as she is inside.

When I meet someone, I make sure to value what they have, who they are, before I talk about where they might change.  I know that they present as they present for good reasons, because this is where they are.  And who I am to say where they are going, where they need to go?   Unless they ask for feedback, unless they feel a need to change, they aren’t ready for change.

I really, really want to be more bloody minded, more projecting of persona and personality, demanding a spotlight and acceptance of my ideas.   I want to avoid being swept into other people’s dramas and make my own damn dramas around me.

I am here goddamnit!   Listen to me and don’t just act out your own stuff on me!   See me for who I am, for my strength and beauty and grace and don’t make me have to open your mind to the twists in your own damn thinking!   Just listen and behold, dammnit!

I really, really want that.

But I know that’s just another thing I am not going to get, at least not in this world.   People need light, and I am swept into their emotions where I can help clear out a bit of clutter, opening the way for sunshine and growth.    It seems to be what I can do, rather than come with demands and drama.

There are people to be taken care of, people who can use a word, an ear or a fight.

And I’m just bloody minded enough to be there for them.




Take Care

Who is the most vulnerable person you have ever taken care of?

I’m a chick.  What melts my heart is a story is when people take care of each other.  I don’t root for couples to get together for drama or hot romance or dreams, I root for them to take care of each other, and then maybe take care of some babies.  A long time ago someone said that what women want is to be taken care of like a queen by someone who deserves to be treated like a king, and that made sense to me.

I like stories about businesses and about rehab because I like to see people taking care of each other, working together to meet each others needs.  Maybe it’s because I identify as a mom that I love this so much.  Being a parent is about creating family, and family is about the symbiotic taking care of each other.

I used to write a lot about the role of the parent, so much so it got me kicked off a butch-femme list.  They wanted to play out their own dreams, not take on their own responsibilities.   But the parent, especially the sandwich parent who cares for both children and their aging parents, well, that’s a role I understand.   After all, I started taking care of my own parents and siblings when I was only in single digits.

As a transperson, I understand how many of us feel denied the opportunity to take care of others, especially children. That denial of responsibility can leave us feeling immature and self-centered, because we aren’t trusted to take care.   We may think that all we want is to be taken care of, but the act of caring for another is profound in itself, getting us out of ourselves, opening our hearts and our minds.  When we have to understand the struggles of another, we become bigger people.

I was holding down the table at the Pride Walk, where we had a pile of Hershey kisses.   A butch woman and a boy came by, and he wanted a candy.  She checked to make sure there were no nuts, and then authorized him to have one.  He came back for another, so I looked back at the woman, now about twenty feet away, with a quizzical look.  She gave me the nod, so I gave him the candy.  It’s a mom thing.

I know that trans is a very individual and personal journey.  But if it becomes a very self-centred journey, then we have no context other than our own feelings, and that can leave us lost.

And if we become too self-centred to care for someone else, then we also lose the chance for relationships where we take care of each other.   And as a chick, well, those are the kind of relationships that melt my heart, maybe because I see them melting the hearts of others.

I wish I was taken care of better, yes.  But stop taking care of others?  I just couldn’t.

Tell Me Your Story

I have a secret goal.

I want to build a universal field theory of the human spirit.   Impossible, I know, but I can try, can’t I?

The magic of science is to let considered inquiry and evidence collide and then see where it takes you.  You have a rough theory, then the evidence shows where that theory imperfectly models what you are looking at and you have to come up with a better theory, a better idea, a better understanding.

Tell me your story.  Give me more evidence.  Let me understand better so I can be better.

I was reading some chat about The Joseph Campbell Companion, maybe the closest thing to scripture I have.  I read one comment

When I agree with him, the truth of it all just seems so obvious. When I disagree, I chalk it up to the fact that he was only one man who lived but one life.

That comment really irks me.   It’s not the way I approach the world.

When I agree, the world seems harmonious, sure.

But when I disagree, I chalk it up to the fact that I don’t understand where the author is coming from.

Actually, my interest isn’t in agreeing or disagreeing with the author, it is understanding or not understanding the author.  I assume that if someone took the time and effort to tell this story, they had something they needed to communicate, and it’s up to me to read their meaning, not to apply my own meaning and dismiss it.   They are doing their best to convey their experience of our shared world, and seeing through their eyes gives me more perspective, a clearer vision, more enlightenment.

Trying to deal with the world by deciding how much it meets your own belief structures, well, that seems to me to be a blinkered view.

My father was a design engineer, but his specialty was “conceptual design.”  He was fascinated with the exceptional in jet engine behaviour.

I know well that wasn’t the approach of most design engineers, or of most operating engineers.

There’s an old joke which asks how you determine the volume of a red rubber ball.   The mathematician measures the ball and calculates the volume.  The physicist gets a graduated cylinder, immerses the ball and measures the displacement.  The mechanical engineer gets the part number off the ball and then looks up the volume in his Handbook Of Red Rubber Balls.

When I find something that I don’t understand, some story that doesn’t make sense to me, it means to me that my understanding is imperfect and I need to learn.

And the odds are that new understanding will be challenging to me, because if it wasn’t, well, I would already own it.

I certainly don’t agree with every choice people make.  My agreement isn’t relevant or required.   And I certainly make my own choices, but that doesn’t mean people who don’t make the choices I would make are wrong.    To be human in the world is to hold a viewpoint, a perspective, a role, and other people have very different experience and views than I have.

A therapist found me exceptional because after I talked about how others made bad choices, I would go on to explain why they made those choices.  And I have always been able to channel others, to clearly elucidate their position in a way that they appreciate, even if I violently  disagree with that position.  Maybe that’s just the vestige of debate club training, where you have to be able to argue either side of an issue, or maybe it’s just my emotional empathy that has always swept me into the feelings of others.

All I know is that it is central to who I am, central to my path to create a unified field theory of the human spirit.

It has always frustrated me that I felt required to enter the worlds of other people to understand and feel their position while so very few people are able to come into my world and see through my experience.  That means that while I work to create shared language, work to find the universal, their language usually excludes me, erases what I value.  They dismiss me as just one person who doesn’t count, holding onto what they choose to agree with.

So many people hold views that they really want to believe are considered and logical, but are really outgrowths of their belief structures.  That doesn’t make the views any less real or good or true or powerful, it just means that they come from some place deep down inside of them, from some inner knowledge that they hold dear and valuable.  I know that I need to understand and respect that belief structure because it very much informs their life and their choices, and that no amount of rational argument will change those deep feelings.

That doesn’t mean that beliefs can’t grow and evolve, because they do.  It just means that they do that in ways that are other than rational, usually through compassion and empathy.  It is when we engage the heartbreak of others that we open to new ways of experiencing the world, open to seeing the limits of our own belief systems.   Feeling the feelings of others, usually when encapsulated in a story, helps us be part of a bigger world.  When our heart goes out to someone, it grows.

Tell me your story.  It’s your story, your experience told in the best way you can manage.  Let me reflect that story back to you in a way that you find affirming.

And then I can get more understanding, become more open, have a more useful view of our shared world.

Because that is important, at least to me.

What What

I was at the TransWalk on Saturday and did my sketch on “Fear Of Fabulous.”

One gal talked about the frisson she got when she found the bright orange purse she was wearing.

The tall, genderqueer identified person looked at a butch or FTM person across the way and noted that “I get that quiver when I see someone like them!”

I took that as a cue and went into a little riff.  “Oh, I have dropped my handkerchief!  Could you possibly help me and pick it up?”

I got a smile from a couple of the other people there with that bit.

But the GQ person needed to slap me down.

“That assumes that masculinity is attracted by femininity.  That isn’t always true,” they said flatly.

“OK,” I granted.  “What do you find to be successful in attracting people like that?”

“I’m just myself,” they answered.

“Myself is great,” I agreed.  “In the end, that’s all you can offer.  But how do you start that sizzle, make that spark?”

They didn’t have an answer.

Attraction is a weird thing.  It often starts with growing intimacy — working next to someone, seeing them regularly, etc. — or it starts with a bit of role playing.   A bit of flirting to fan a spark into a bit of a flame.

I’m going to tell you.  I don’t much trust my ability to flirt as a woman.  And that really limits my expression.

But that moment felt good when I did the bit at the walk, even if another said I missed it because I enacted a stereotype.

I have a week of exposure coming up at The Empire Conference.

And I think I might just try to flirt a bit.


I was in eigth grade when I heard my first Kōan.

“What is the sound of one hand clapping?” asked Miss Glidden, my social studies teacher.  I liked her because I would write my essays in a comic style, somewhere between Jackie Vernon and James Turber, and she loved them.

And here she was offering a kōan, one of those paradoxical questions that are designed to create “great doubt” and test students in Zen Buddhism.

I was fascinated by the idea of a note to think on.  I had loved my first real theological experience, fourth grade confirmation class with a pastor who chain smoked King Sanos and who soon after would go to visit a mental health facility for a while.   I had to go through another class in eighth grade, though the pastor, a brush cut ex-military chaplain who wished he was still helping our boys kill gooks, accused me of cheating when I answered a question right, so we must have used the same book before.  No, sir, I did the fundamentals the first time rather than having multiple choice tests.

Miss Glidden soon showed herself.  She snapped her fingers a few times, expecting us to understand.

“This, this,” she cried, snapping her fingers again.  “This is the sound of one hand clapping!”

I may have been only thirteen, but I knew she had missed the point.

Ever since then, and probably before, I loved taking some idea and thinking about it.  I suppose some would call it meditation, but for a compulsively pensive person, meditation is different than clearing your mind.  For me, it’s always more of a fight, an active struggle to take a quote, an epigram, a concept, an idea and apply that all around.

People who like clear desks and empty in-boxes have always confused me.  Shouldn’t you always have piled of interesting ideas hanging around where you might find a use for them, a new way to connect or explore?

I was recently talking to a young shaman about developing her tool kit, about finding the modes and modalities that work for her to do the work of deconstructing and reconstructing ideas and situations.   How can she bring power to the world, the power of analysis to take things down, and the power of synthesis to build them back up again?  What are the word, images, objects, rituals, processes, techniques, that can let her help her actualize authentically, let her help others integrate and transcend?

If you look at my blog posts, I’m sure that you can see how I use ideas as Kōans to start and inform understanding.  They start essays because they start thinking because they start doubt.

To me, Kōans are the tiny crackers that help pry open my vision, helping me go from emotion to understanding what is going on inside of me.

Creating great doubt?  For a liminal person who lives inside the questions and not the answers, that’s just cool.

Counselling’s One Goal

Counselling has only one goal.

That goal is to empower you to make better choices from here on out.

That simple.

Now, there are a whole mess of ways to get to that point, sure.   Basically, though, you have to have the strength to change what you can change, the serenity to accept what you cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.

You need to get free of being controlled by your history, free of being controlled by your habits, free of being controlled by your doctrine, free of being controlled by your expectations, free of being controlled by avoidance strategies, free from being controlled by blind denial, free of being controlled by pain, free of being controlled by fear.

Then you have to find new strategies, habits, approaches and contexts to support good choices.    What is good is up to you, but usually empowering, affirming, choices that respect nature and the world bring us more positive than choices which support acting out of fear and pain.

Everyone heals in their own time and in their own way, as frustrating as that may be.    But actualization, integration and virtue come when we can make positive choices rather than just enact negative reactions.

Counsellors help people find ways to get past their shit and make better choices.

That simple.

Creative Urge

Robin Williams has offered memories of Jonathan Winters in the New York Times.

I was struck by one line:

No audience was too small for Jonathan. I once saw him do a hissing cat for a lone beagle.

I certainly don’t know either of these two people, but I know my own heart which resonated with Mr. Winters, and I suspect he has missed the point.

Mr. Williams loves an audience, needs an audience, can deal with huge audiences.   He is a missionary, going out to dominate the crowd.

But if Mr. Winters was anything like me, he didn’t have that same drive, the drive needed to make yourself a huge public success.

I suspect that Mr. Winters’ audience wasn’t the lone beagle.  The beagle was no more important than the sticks or hats he used as props.

His audience was himself.  He was a visionary who just loved creating comedy.  He probably went into fantastic acts when he was alone in his room, just to amuse himself.   If it amused other people, well, that was great, and that paid the bills, but the creative urge had little to do with dominating an audience, little to do with an audience at all.

That’s not the way Mr. Williams approaches the world, I know that.    He battled to get through drama school, to make a place for himself, to titillate and please a crowd.  That audience response feeds him.  That’s the call of a missionary.

The call of a visionary, though, is to have visions.   And it is creation that offers bliss, not affirmation.  Affirmation offers support and rewards, sure, but it isn’t the primary driver.

At least, it isn’t for me.

And I suspect it wasn’t for Jonathan.   He laughed inside when that beagle responded to his imaginary cat, created out of imagination.

And that was enough.

Take A Moment

Take a moment.

Take one moment of your life when you felt something strongly.  It doesn’t matter what you felt — envy, pity, disgust, love, rage, compassion, shame, regret, delight, whatever.  Just take a moment when you felt something strongly.

And then tell me about what it was like to be in that moment.  What got you there?  What did you want to do?  What did you end up doing?   What would you have done differently?  What did that moment reveal to you?  What did you know to be true in that moment?

Share that moment with me.  Share that moment with the world.

And then you can own that moment.  You can own that feeling, you can own that pull, you can own that history, you can own that choice, you can own that desire, you can own that forever.

That’s what emotional process is.  It’s understanding what triggers your choices, understanding what choices you made, understanding how those choices turned out, understanding what you would do if you could choose again.

That understanding unlocks your freedom in the only moment you ever have freedom, in that moment between stimulus and response.

That understanding lets you find the strength to change what you can change, lets you find the serenity to accept what you cannot change, lets you find the wisdom to know the difference.

Sharing that real moment is a step away from expectation, away from the way things “should” be.

Because, in the end, life is nothing but a series of moments.  It’s just how good our choices are in each moment that decides how good our life is.

So take a moment.   Take a moment to understand.  Take a moment to consider.  Take a moment to reflect.  Take a moment to feel.  Take a moment to think.  Take a moment to share.

Taking that moment can make your next moment better.

And making your next moment better is the only way to build better relationships, better products, a better life.

So take a moment and value it.  Value it enough to share.

And that will make each moment count just a little more.

Take a moment.


Two Representations

We had just moved to the Boston area.  I was about 13.  My room was in the basement, the only one down there.  I had an old tube radio, perched on a big wooden box my grandfather had built when he visited Toronto from the farm.

I found the rock’n’roll station, WMEX, 1510.  At 10 PM, though, the music stopped and one of those 1960s late night radio talk shows came on.  Steve Fredricks, a cool guy with a cigarette voice who took social issues into the darkness.

That’s when I first heard Virginia Prince, the white prince of crossdressers.  She was in town for an early Trinity Club event.

I knew I wasn’t alone.

After that, I would buy paperbacks from the used bookstores by the Common.  Books like “A Year Among The Girls” and “The Transsexual Phenomenon.”  I’d read them on the subway and leave them in the passage that crossed the tracks at Wonderland station.  Didn’t feel safe bringing them into the car.

But it wasn’t the first time I saw a media representation of someone like me.

The first time was when I was watching the Jack Parr show.   I was about four or five.  I loved political satire, staying up to 9:30 PM in order to watch That Was The Week That Was when I was in third or forth grade.

Jack had on a guest who just amazed me.  He could take a stick and become five or six different characters, all funny, all sharp, all crisp.

I knew I wasn’t alone in the world when I saw Jonathan Winters.   I spoke in tongues too, heard the voices in my head, had them channel through me.  One boss said I was always doing “radio plays.”

Jonathan Winters gave me hope and a voice.  Well, hundreds of voices, actually.

I never met Mr. Winters.  But I did meet The Prince, in a Syracuse hotel where there was a trans event.

I was in my boy clothes.   The Prince tried to read me out, but just missed.  No, I hadn’t purged.

“Well,” they said, “you obviously haven’t accepted your femme self.”   Ah, yes, the Second Self, the Prince Model.  “Now I’m Biff and tough!  Now I’m Suzy and pretty!”  I’d rejected that since i first came out and refused to take a “femme name,” identifying as a guy in a dress.  I wanted to be whole and integrated, not two parts.

“My femme self?” I asked.   The voices started to come now.  “What about my British self?  Or my redneck self?  Or my Valley Girl self?  Or my Bostonian self?  What about all those other selves inside of me? ” I asked.

The Prince turned away in disgust.  They didn’t enjoy it when they got challenges they couldn’t answer with stock boilerplate.

But I knew that the representation that most powerfully resonated with me wasn’t the crossdresser.  It was the man with all the characters inside of him, the guy who had his share of challenges in a long life.   Jonathan Winters.

Since then, TBB and I have hosted the Virginia Prince Lifetime Achievement Awards three times, in Portland Oregon, Atlanta and Toronto.   I got into a fight with The Prince beforehand every time.

But those characters inside of me never stopped coming.  They still flow, one reason that I will never just be a proper, mild and appropriate lady.

Thank you, Virginia Prince for telling me I wasn’t alone as a trans person.

And thank you more, Jonathan Winters, for showing me that I wasn’t alone in the world even though I was a little touched.


Fear Of Fabulous

I went to a local pride walk today.  It was a bit odd; I wore my pride eyelashes and was the closest thing to a drag queen there, and the theme was trans -pride.

I listened to the speeches.  One by the step-mother of a transman was very moving, as she talked about how surprised she was at the challenges, threats and indignities he faces being out and trans.  It was the only thing close to a trans narrative today, and you know me — I think it is stories that open the heart.

Of course, I ended up thinking about what I would have said.

Who are transgender people?

We are people who knew something about ourselves, knew something so powerful we were willing to face social stigma, shaming and abuse to let it out.   We were told from a very young age what the rules were and what the penalties were for breaking them, but we felt something so powerful inside of us that we have to let that out.

And what is it that we know?  What are we so sure of that we are willing to take daily abuse just to manifest it in the world?

That’s simple.  We know that inside of us, being crushed by the pressure to be normal and fit in, is someone who is just, well, fabulous.

We know that there is a better, truer, sharper, more beautiful and more whole person under the mask others want us to wear.

We know that we can’t be true to the fabulous self our creator put in our heart unless we face down the limits so many want to put on normal.

We know in our hearts the old feminist teaching that we are not defined by our biology, but rather are defined by the choices we make, including the choice to be the most fabulous self in the world.

This is a world where there is a deep fear of fabulous.  Fabulous people don’t play small, don’t play along.  They cannot easily be intimidated, because being fabulous people know that love is more important than fear, know that they can never really be separated from the world and their creator if they become the best that they can be.

This is one force of transgender people in the world.   As  transgender people work to be the most fabulous person they can be, they make us face our own fear of fabulous.  They make us question how much of our fabulous self we surrender to play along, to play small, to play nice.    We can look to our creator and creation and wonder if we too can be more fierce and fabulous in the world if we just claim more of our own heart and fear less the pressure to fit in.

Transgender is, in the end, a demand that the fabulous self we know ourselves to be inside be more present and visible in the world.  Transgender is the claim that if we are not limited by gender stereotypes we can be even more authentic, potent and fabulous.

That call for each of us to the most fabulous self we can be is at the heart of the call for transgender rights in this culture.   For people who fear fabulous and demand compliance to their projected norms, this may be a hard idea to grasp.

But if getting over the fear of fabulous can make each of us more potent, give each of us more to contribute to our shared world, isn’t that worth it?

The struggle transgender people have in the world is to find their fabulous and let that fabulous self flow in the world.

And in the end, isn’t fabulous, well, fabulous?

Transgender rights are human rights.  And the human right to be the most fabulous we can be, without fear and shaming, well, that seems, just fabulous.

Safety Space

I watched an episode of Tabitha Takes Over where she did a revamp of a classic gay nightclub in Southern California that had lost a lot of its lustre.

What it hadn’t lost, though, was a strong sense of family, of safety, of support, of welcome, of play, of caring.    That’s what the show built on, convincing owners to empower the next generation, to lead with fun and trust and only correct when needed.  One old queen stopped watching TV and started really getting into social media, just another senior who found they loved a new way to connect. Another let go of micro managing, realizing it was much more fun to be proud of the staff when they did good than to bitch that they didn’t do things the way he would.

There was even one transwoman at the big grand re-opening party, looking a bit lost in the sea of gay guys, lesbians and drag queens, but still having a great time.  I wanted to kiss her.  After all, somebody should.

I got out of my decade taking care of my parents a few months ago.  And since then, I have been looking for someplace where I can feel safe and welcomed.   I haven’t found it.

My realization, a long time ago, was that if I was going to find safe space I was going to have to create it.  I do know how to listen to other people, to not get pulled by what their stories bring up for me, to not press my own agenda and fears, to encourage.

I realized that, sure, and I spent decades getting clear, understanding that what I am upset about is my stuff, not theirs.   Those early days of being called a balloon-burster have stuck with me, and I know that people heal and grow in their own way and their own time.  They don’t need me to tell them what I think they should do, they need to be supported in taking the next step that they need to make, whatever that is.

I will tell you, though, that it feels unfair and painful that I am always the one who has to take care of others, and that there seems to be no one out there who is ready to take care of me.    That’s not completely true, of course, but to acknowledge that is to have to fall back on my logical, thoughtful mind rather than being able to express my feelings, and that is the challenge I have always had, needing to stay centred in my overloaded head so that others don’t have to engage and respond to my feelings.

I know the right answers.  I have spent years looking for the right answers.

I have also spent years looking for safety space, welcoming, embracing and understanding, someplace where people get past their own damnselves and care for others.

Yes, if I haven’t found it, I have to make it.  That’s the right answer.

Just not a satisfying or nurturing answer.

Vulnerable, with Needs

This blog is not a good place for me to be vulnerable, to express my needs.

This blog is a good place for me to explore my own thoughts and feelings, as entwined as they are, so I can explore my own interior by building symbolic representations of what I think and feel, there for me to see and build on.  By putting myself out there in this way, I build understanding, although, it is true, mostly understanding of myself by myself, which is still a valuable goal.   Refined understanding can lead to enlightenment, if you let it.     Still, if someone else gets a bit of insight about their own challenges from engaging my words, well, that’s good too.

The problem is that I am heading towards a wall.  I am waking up from my former life and assessing the damage.  I know I can’t just do what I did in the past, that I have to be new or be dead.

And with my keen grasp of the finite, that seems like a challenging choice.  After all, the detritus of my parents lives and deaths is still all around me, and I am still profoundly alone.

There is no doubt that my creator, my mother-in-the-sky, has given me signs of new possibility.  She has indicated that I might still be of service, might still find delight, might still be valued, might still learn, might still get what I need.

But the damage and loss are real and deeply affecting.  I wake up from sweet dreams about my past that are now nightmares because they just illuminate what is lost in my own battle to live without getting free.

I watch young people engage energetically on a wide swath of body centred subjects, from sex to hairstyles, and I know that I was never able to connect on that level and never will be in the future.  I was never, ever, ever that young, even when I was really immature.

But still, when the deeper topics come up, then I can engage with authority and insight, really digging down and finding truth.

That truth, though, is cold comfort on long rainy nights when dreams remind you of loss, when the past keeps coming to cut you, and you feel bereft and lonely.

This blog is not a good place for me to be vulnerable, to express my needs.

I can tell you I need the mothering I was denied, the frivolity I missed, the sensuality that escaped me, the caring that people couldn’t offer, the understanding that never was mine, the human contact that lets us be safe and silly, lets us flow and frolic, lets us shed our defences and just be fuzzy.

But telling you doesn’t change the situation one whit.

I thank God for what I do have.  The flowers TBB sent look as good or better today as when I found the FTD box on the doorstep a week ago.  I have ginger snaps and pepperoni, I am warm and dry.

But this blog is not a good place for me to be vulnerable, to express my needs.

And sometimes, you need the creature connection that makes hope a warm thing.



Not Grief

Left the house for the first time in a week, since I went to the ophthalmologist.

Went to my doctor, who has been great with my and my father’s issues.

His practice is now affiliated with the hospital system that made my father a paraplegic.

Not good.

He asked me how I am doing, and I talked about bereavement issues.

I’m not good with grief groups, as I have written here.

And that’s because what I am challenged with isn’t just bereavement. and change and ambivalence but rather post traumatic stress.

And every time I trip over the boards that man screwed up in the floor or face that hospital chain again, it all comes up all over again.

The trauma just keeps on coming.

So many stories left to unpack.  So little energy.

Sloppy == Authentic? Thinking Replaced By Social Influence?

“We love authenticity, that’s why we have a billion reality shows,” said Neal Gabler, an author of several best-selling books on Hollywood culture and history. “And here comes Anne Hathaway. Everything she does seems managed, calculated or rehearsed. Her inauthenticity — or the feeling of her inauthenticity — is now viral.”

“ ‘If the majority has done my thinking for me, I can move on to something else,’ ” Dr. Goncalo said. “People don’t want to think.”

In that sense, Hathahating echoes the emergent online sport of “hate reading” — following a blog regularly for the express purpose of ridiculing it, or “hate watching,” the bad-television-show analog, as chronicled by Katie J. M. Baker, in Jezebel.

“It’s like we’re in middle school,” Ms. Baker said. “The easiest way to bond is to talk smack about someone else, whether you’re online or at a party.”


No wonder the culture has left me cold.

Blessing Your Dreams

Do you want to bless your dreams?

Do you want the universe to smile on you, leaving you feeling like you can face the world and create the magic you know is inside you?

If you want that in your life, the way is simple.

The first thing you have to do is to bless the dreams of others.

It’s not important what you think of their dreams.  You may see them as misguided, as far fetched, as misdirected, as shallow, as silly, as inane or any other thing.

But you still have to bless them.

Blessing dreams isn’t about blessing the outcome other people think they desire.  It has little to do with their imagined goals at all.

Instead, blessing dreams is blessing the process of dreaming.   Blessing dreams is blessing the power of following dreams to take us where we need to go.

“Yes,” you are saying, “go on that journey to follow your bliss.  And that journey will help you sort things out, help you get more centred, help you become enlightened, help you see more clearly..

“Yes, chase your dreams and see where they take you, knowing that every experience, if it turns out the way you imagined or teaches you something new is a gift.’

When you see someone who has something you want, who is going for something you want, bless them.  Blessing their experience of success and abundance is blessing your own experience of abundance.

We get by giving.   When we engage others with a positive attitude, we get a positive attitude in return.  A rising tide lifts all boats.

Blessing the dreams of others is what gives you permission to bless your own dreams, rather than just being a balloon buster who knows how to see potential flaws, even where those flaws are far from fatal.     Where we stumble, there lies our gift, so often stumbling blocks hold seeds for success.

If you want to have your own dreams blessed in the world, your first challenge is to bless the dreams of others.  Help them find their power and grace, help them move forward.

And as you do that, you will find more of your own power and grace, you will move forwards.

Blessing their dreaming is blessing your dreaming.

And having your dreaming blessed is what I wish for you.

Not Abjection

If what all trans people share is their abjection — defined as being cast off, degraded, contemptible, defined as the converse of privilege — then who the hell is going to want to identify as trans?

For many trans activists, though, this state of abjection is the at heart of their own belief system, and anyone who challenges it is being transphobic and not appropriately socially aware.

British artist Chrissie Daz has written about this in a piece called Trans: the phoniest community in Britain?   In it, Daz posits that there are “no real people converging … to constitute the ‘trans community.'”

Of course, there are many real people who are concerned about trans issues, no doubt, but are we “converging” to “constitute a community?”

If you identify as lesbian or gay, you get to meet and be in relationship with other people who identify as gay or lesbian.  That is a real benefit.

But what benefit does one get from identifying as trans?

Sure, that identification may give you a bit of language to explain your choices to a wider world, may get you some kind of medicalization benefits, and maybe, in some places, some protection against discrimination.

But does it build you relationships?  Does it give you an empowering community?  Does it get you laid?

No, it does not.

The big complaint Daz seems to have is with the coercive action of identity politics.  The primary target of identity politics is not those outside the identified group, as they don’t care what others think about them.   Daz has been the focus of some of this pressure for compliance with groupthink in language and expression and does not like it one bit.  For Daz, trans is a journey to bold and unique individual expression, not group membership.

Rather the primary target is people who activists think should be in the group, but who do not conform to the way of thinking and being that activists approve.  The attempt is to deny those people their own voice and identity unless their voice complies with the voice and identity chosen by group leaders.  Look at people of color, women, or any other group in which identity politics activists have tried to deny membership to those who do not comply with the proscribed mindset and you will see lots of people ignoring the activists.

Daz identifies the theme of this imposed identity as vulnerability, which they reject.   I identify the theme as abjection, which I reject.   We are not important because we are broken, and identifying as abject & socially correct should not be the only legitimate passport to entry into trans spaces, trans umbrellas.

If standing up as trans means standing up as abject, then there will never be a convergence that forms a community.    If our obligation is always to cede our voice to those who are defined as more abject that we are, we will never come together as a community.

Unlike Daz, I do believe that there are interlocking communities around trans, and I also believe that none of them are exclusive to transpeople.

But I also believe that the notion of “trans community” based on abjection (or vulnerablity)  and used as a tool to demand compliance is a fiction of identity politics that does not serve our individual or community empowerment.

It is useful to teach people to examine their own assumed privilege to understand those who don’t have that privilege.  We do need to be more open to those less fortunate than we are, need to be sensitized to systems of oppression.  But is it useful to then try and build community based on abjection?   I think not.

Even if your Women’s Studies prof says that the oppression and abjection of subject groups is what makes the world a bad place, I believe that being out, queer and empowered is what makes the world a better place.  Go ahead, call me first wave.

I’m here, I’m queer, get used to it.

Aging Is

“I want to be a veterinarian.  And an astronaut.  And a fashion model!”

When we are six, anything seems possible.  We dream and we imagine and the world is open to us.

Joseph Campbell talks about one of the most potent rituals he ever attended.  In it, you picked five tokens to represent what you valued, and then you were lead through a course.  Along the course, there were barriers where you had to sacrifice one of the tokens to move forward.  Campbell talks about how people resisted this sacrifice, finding ways to delay, to avoid or to trick at the barriers.  He saw this process as analogous to aging, moving through life.

When we are six, anything seems possible.  But even by the time we are sixteen, we know that we have to make some hard choices, to decide what we want to hold onto and what we want to let drop.

Aging is the embrace of the finite.

In much metaphysical thinking, as spirit we enter the human world of separation as a way to be forced to make choices and discover what we really value, discover who we really are.  This is why the gift of a lifetime following your bliss and slaying the dragon with “Thou shalt” on every scale is becoming who you really are.   It is the finite nature of human life that forces us not just to be smitten with infinite possibilities but to become more pure, burning off the external and focusing on the inner life.  We are all born as flesh and as we age, that flesh dies and our story grows, and when we are gone, all we leave is story, the essence of who we revealed ourselves to be in this world.

Like the people who Campbell saw go through the ritual of the gates, as humans we find it tempting to try and avoid the challenges of choice and to keep a hold on the scatter of possibilities that we first beheld as children.   To resist aging is to resist the embrace of the finite, resist the truth that choices must be made and that in the end those choices define who we are and what we live, what we leave in the world.

Our bodies start to feel more and more limited as they break down, our history creates more and more definition to limit choices, our energy dissipates so that we don’t have enthusiasm and exuberance to feign interest in what we don’t really care about, and we don’t have the capacity to just live in denial, eating the dung of others.  Risks seem risker when we are less robust, and when we have a real understanding that life is finite.

For transpeople this can be very hard, because we knew from a very young age that possibilities were denied to us by a heterosexist world that shamed and stigmatized us into behaviours based only on our reproductive biology and not the contents of our hearts.  Those young days of possibility weren’t really open to us if we needed to cross the conventional lines of what boys were supposed to do, what girls were supposed to do.

As we age, the masks are dropped, though, and we are caught in the bind of coming out in a time and place where we no longer have the energy to learn and the social context to be tolerated in our wild explorations.  That’s a tough place.

But aging is the embrace of the finite.  Aging demands that we figure out who we are and what we value as important, then make choices around that knowledge.   It demands we stop living the scattered, diffuse outer life and come to a centred, focused inner life.

I wish I could go back and explore my possibilities again without the “Thou Shalt” dragon limiting my field of choice.  But in a human life, that’s not possible.  Life only moves one way, and that way is towards a reckoning with the finite.

That journey, though, is always a journey of revelation and enlightenment.  It is the journey that spirit living a human life always struggles with.

Pick your battles.  Don’t spit into the wind.  And be boldly and bravely who you know yourself to be, singing the song your creator put in your heart.

Aging reminds us that life is finite.  And because it is finite, it is precious.  Value it, now.

And be brilliantly you.