Old Habits

When I was about 12 or 13 years old, I began to have strange dreams. Many had occult symbolism; others showed me a figure I associated with Death. Between the dreams and traumas I had already survived, I had issues relating to my peers. One of my dreams set me off in search of a local cemetery. I found a sense of calm there that seemed to be lackingCemetery1 in my turbulent life as an adolescent. I tried explaining to my parents the dreams and the cemetery, but it only served to make my existence even more difficult. I found it easier not to inform them of the frequency of my visits to the cemetery or the durations.

As time went on, I would adopt many of the trappings of those who typically hang out in cemeteries. I began wearing more and more black, which was another source of contention with my parents. Eventually, my parents accepted the black clothing, but it reinforced the idea that it was far more burdensome to fight for the acceptance of my truth than merely conceal it. By 15, I had bought my first spiked leather collar. We didn’t exactly have a shop for gothic fashion in our area, so it was purchased at a pet store. I began wearing black lipstick and matching eye make up soon after. My sophomore year of high school, my parents were my transportation back and forth to school. I used the time in the morning to switch into black clothing and put on makeup. After school let out, I would switch back into more “acceptable” attire.

So many years later, I was finally able to begin my transition. It’s a reality my teenage self never considered possible. Now I work to reclaim those other forgotten parts of my soul, those bits I found that resonated but surrendered along the way. GroCemetery3wing up is hard, and we often sacrifice far more of ourselves than necessary in pursuit of the “rat race.” Paying the bills can be done in so many ways, and fitting in is often a matter of finding one’s place in the world. Why is it that we tend to be open-minded toward others, yet we become so unimaginative and judgmental when it comes to our own lives? After many realizations and epiphanies,  I’m back to wearing studded collars and dark makeup. And like an echo that returns to the source, I’ve come home to a cemetery. There is a local cemetery where I meditate, read, and journal. I also work to clear some old paths and debris. If we all do a little, no one must do a lot. And for me, it is a labor of love.

I’ve grown up as a restless individual. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini rising. Perhaps it’s because I felt alone for so long. It’s possible that the trauma and years of distrust has been sown into my very being. Whatever the cause, my longing for tranquility is so strong, it can onlyCemetery4 be found in a cemetery. While other company brings politics, gossip, and small talk, the dead offer no trivial prattle or idle words. They are silent reminders that are time is finite and must be used wisely. It is easy to see which stones are for those who accomplished great wealth in their lifetime. It is even easier to see who was actually well loved. Their graves have fresh flowers and other offerings long after the date of passing. I am always moved by flowers or some other token left at an older grave, still remembered. To me, that is love. Love is facing the pain and discomfort associated with loss and death just to honor how someone impacted your life. So if you wish to connect with your past, see your future, or simply get your priorities in order, stop by your local graveyard. Just prepare for your world to come to a complete halt as you face the most grounding encounter in all of human experience: your own mortality.

Love and blessings from the Beach Gothme-10months2,
River Sunfeather

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Throwing Out Expectations

It’s now been over a month and a half on HRT(hormone-replacement therapy). Many mundane, yet miraculous things have changed. My face has feminized so much, I am called “ma’am” at stores. My body shape has changed so much, I no longer fit into men’s clothing. My mood swings are mood roller-coasters. My breast development now requires the wearing of a bra. But something far deeper and more important happened. I let go of my expectations.

I had all of these grand ideas about how transition would go, what kind of woman I would be, and what I would look like. Not watching reality television, I was not lured by glamor or beauty. Instead, I had done a lot of research into feminism, women’s rights, and gender constructs. I would not be the stereotypical woman, overly emotional and concerned with fashion. I would not give into the pressure to “look good.” I would be conscientious to prove I was hardworking and concerned with the things that matter most: the environment, helping others, and of course, women’s rights. I would refuse to be oversexualized, put people with male privilege in their place, and would never settle for anything less than equality.

Right…. LOL!!!

While I believe we do get to choose our Path, I also believe our Path also chooses us. I have two daughters, who are probably more emotionally stable that I am right now. I am moved to tears by the word “kittens” and or even thinking “happy thoughts.” I’m also the most fashion-minded one in the house. I have heard the women in my life make terrible comments about their bodies. Body acceptance isn’t easy, but I feel it is crucial. Feeling comfortable and taking a little care in how you look is such a huge confidence booster. I’m still interested in things like the environment. Whether it’s making a purse out of an old jacket, a skirt from tattered bandannas, or a standing garden table out of an old box spring, I love to reuse things. It cuts down on waste.

I still do what I can do help others, but I’ve become so involved with transition that I honestly have become somewhat self-absorbed at times. I have found that it is typically better to wait until someone asks for help, and so that is what I do. I’m too busy trying to fix me. And though I still consider myself a feminist, it is for very different reasons than going in. I just want equality and realize I am now on the outside looking in, asking for/demanding it. I can now see male privilege in certain people. And when I try to point it out, I see male guilt. The situation is way more complex that I ever could have realized, and I am only just learning.

Things are so far different, I think I have become my own Shadow. The only emotion that has stuck with me, through it all is gratitude. I am grateful to be here. I am grateful for my supportive wife and her guidance. I am grateful for my bewilderment, for my disappointment, and for my letting go of who I was. I am grateful for the fact that I am still changing, and I have no idea who I will end up next. It’s time to throw out expectations like an old pair of ill-fitting jeans and embrace the new individual in the mirror.

Love and blessings,
River

MensWomensJeansSizeConversion

Early Electrolysis Results

If you are considering electrolysis, do your research. If you are considering doing electrolysis at home, do a lot of research. It cannot be said that my path is the best, good, or even decent. I will not say it is has been bad either. I can only vouch that my path has simply been mine. You need to find yours.

I’m not an expert, but I will share what I have learned. There are a few methods of “home electrolysis,” but only one is permanent. It is also dangerous. It involves inserting a needle-like probe into your pore, along the hair follicle. It passes a light electrical current through the root of the hair, killing or weakening it. It is like an electrified mosquito bite. You then tweeze the hair, plucking it from your skin. It is not a pleasant experience. Afterwards, your face looks like you were attacked by a swarm of mosquitoes. Then redness and swelling pass after a number of hours. Other people have reported a day. I am using the lightest settings on the electrolysis device. If you were to have a professional do it, it would be the same technique but more efficient and with better training. There would also be someone to be held accountable if/when there is a mistake.

There are many other details I am leaving out. One may have to retreat the same hair numerous times, due to it not being in the right growth stage. One has to make sure everything, including your skin is disinfected. It could take 18 months to clear a beard. The purpose of this post is not to inform you on how to do it, so much as to inform you of how I have handled it.

I am going to post a link for the device I use for those curious or interested. That said, I urge you to do research first. You are taking your own skin into your own hands. If you have the means, go see a professional. Here is the device on Amazon:  https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B00011JN5G Please read some of the reviews for tips and hints on using the product.

And this is the fantastic-feeling tea tree cream for applying afterwards: https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B000HZVS2M

Shaving is a rite of passage for many boys on their way to manhood. For me, it was an awkward moment. I’ve always hated shaving, not just because it was a chore but because it felt strange. I never did get used to it. But electrolysis can be just as bad if not. I will admit there were days I cried about it in the beginning. This is not just taking bad-tasting medicine. This is Harry forcing Dumbledore to drink water that tortures him in order to get to a horcrux. Many report taking tylenol before sessions to deal with the pain. I use meditation and deep breathing. It has now been a month’s worth of working, every three to four days for an hour at a time. Recently I stopped at a store with a friend and used the restroom. I looked in the mirror and noticed I appeared differently. It took a minute to figure out the difference. There are now small patches on my face that don’t fill in. When the changes become a little more noticeable, I will post pictures. Yep. Totally worth it.

There are really great resources out there on electrolysis. The following pages I found to be helpful starting places. I have also learned that some dermatologists offer electrolysis. If anyone has other resources, feel free to post them in the comments. I will post them on my resources page. Maybe I will give electrolysis and hair removal its own section in the future.

http://www.tsroadmap.com/physical/hair/index.html

http://www.electrology.com/

The Mirror Challenge

Everyone has insecurities about their body, and it is little wonder. With images of models and actors in their prime and who have been hand selected for their exquisite outer beauty, the ordinary person has not a chance when being compared to them. We also don’t have the money for the clothes, the make-up, the hair, the personal trainer, etc. But who is doing the comparing? How many times has our loved ones really told us we need to look like that? We do the comparing. We have been programmed to compare ourselves to everyone else. We do it out of nature and habit. It’s how we learn. If we cannot compare, we cannot see if we are doing something correctly. Unfortunately, we apply it to body image. And while we might not have all the money, we do have personal power. And we have the ability to shift our perspective. And now it’s time to our body back.

Some of us love the mirror. Some of us hate it. The challenge is to look in the mirror for 5-10 minutes every day. No make-up. No clothes. Hair down. Just you as you are. And tell yourself that you are beautiful. Tell yourself that you are ok with how you look. And tell yourself that you forgive yourself. 5 minutes a day, every day. Until you mean it. That is my challenge to all of you. If you don’t do this, then maybe nobody else will. And if you do this and mean it, it won’t matter what anybody says about your body. You will never compare or be compared again.

We know that society’s standards have been wrong, and they’re slowly changing. See the Ugly modeling agency here. Robyn Lawley, a plus-size model graced the inside of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue this year. Read about it here. Read about a beautiful ad campaign from ModCloth here. And when society(like Victoria’s Secret) does throw us a rotten fish, we fight back like this and this. The people in these articles had to come to terms with their bodies. Now, it’s your turn. Go out there give your body some love.

Waterfall