Excuse Me Sir…

Have you ever been afraid to go to the bathroom?
Weird question huh?

I am uncomfortable going to the bathroom each and every time I use a public facility.

I worry each time I walk into a women’s restroom that someone will look at me with “that” look and tell me I am in the wrong restroom.

I am a masculine woman, I’m tall, I have short hair and I wear masculine clothes…but I am a woman. I have no desire to be a man. I certainly have no desire to use the men’s restroom!

The reason I bring this up is because I’ve heard one too many news reports about yet another state passing a law that will focus on who is allowed to use which restroom.

When did my country become so petty that our local and state governments felt they needed to dictate toilet usage?

I keep hearing….you have to use the bathroom that coincides with your birth certificate. Must we begin carrying our birth certificate?

My gender actually does coincide with my birth certificate….yet I am regularly challenged by other women that assume I don’t know which bathroom to use.

For the most part I can handle myself. I use non-gender specific restrooms, I know every restaurant that has single toilet bathrooms and as my friends will tell you…they are forced to accompany me to the bathroom when out in public.
However, my concern falls to the young men that have realized they are truly female. Please…..please….please….think about how absolutely frightening it would be for a young transgender woman that will be forced to use the mens room. Do we really think she will be safe? Does it matter to the fear-mongers that a transgender woman could be raped? Beaten up? Possibly even killed? I suspect they think she deserves it.

You may be asking how this fits into a year of gratitude. I guess if I were you I would be asking the same question. The reality is, the people who are passing these laws are in the minority. I believe most people are educated and socially aware enough to realize the fears we are being fed are ridiculous.
It is you, the people reading this. The people that choose not to judge others. The people that understand not everyone fits the typical male/female role. It’s you that I am thankful for. You are appreciated by me and every other person that needs to know there are people in this country and in this world that are not afraid of our differences and even embrace our uniqueness. Thank you….i am grateful for you.

4:30A.M…..

boot camp

Yep that’s me…the tall one in the back row.

Several things happened today that brought to mind thankfulness. Its amazing how much more observant I can be when I have a reason to be focused.

What I’ve decided to share tonight is my amazingly early workout this morning. I joined a boot camp group, at the invitation of a friend, at 4:30AM.

I actually love early morning workouts. I enjoy the energy I feel after getting up early and pushing myself to the point of noodle arms!

What I hate is waking up early!
I frequently try to get up early for workouts but I’ve learned if someone isn’t waiting for me at a predetermined location…I will never roll out of bed.

I am grateful that my friend invited me to join her this morning and I’m also thankful that I am able to exercise. I know so many people that are fighting disease, disability and/or other mental or physical challenges that I realize I am fortunate to have the physical ability to be active.

So guess what I have decided to do 3 days a week? Yep! I’m going to be working out at 4:30AM.

Am I crazy…yep! But I’m also excited about this new adventure and grateful for the opportunity!

Chelsea…

Chelsea

Chelsea

You know those memories Facebook puts on our pages? I woke up this morning to a picture of my Pomeranian Chelsea. I had to help her cross the rainbow bridge 2 years ago. A few months before she died I took her to get her annual bluebonnet picture….this is the memory Facebook shared.

Throughout today I thought of Chelsea and the joy she brought to so many people. She went to work with me regularly. She sat through meetings, she comforted clients and melted the hardest of hearts. She lived to be 18 years old. I was fortunate enough to spend the last 10 years of her life being her person.

I love dogs and believe they are one of the finest creatures to walk this earth. Each dog I’ve had the pleasure of sharing my home with displayed their own uniqueness….their own personality.
But there was something about Chelsea that went above and beyond being a “good dog.” She appeared to anticipate my every move and mood. She was a camera hog that usually knew someone turned on their camera before the humans in the room had any idea. She also had a sixth sense when it came to people with disabilities and made sure they got her undivided attention.

I will continue to have dogs, I will continue to stop and pet any dog within reach and I will continue to wish I could save every stray I hear about. But no matter what, I will never forget Chelsea, and I will always be grateful that I got to be her person.

And no matter how difficult it was, I am grateful I was there to hold her when she crossed the rainbow bridge.

A Year of Gratitude…

Snoopy and Charlie Brown

Today I turned 53 years old. On July 16, 1992 my Dad died at the age of 53.
I have worried about dying young for many years. Fortunately, I took several healthy steps back in my early 40’s in an effort to beat the odds. Unfortunately, as this 53rd birthday has approached I’ve found myself worrying more about following in my father’s footsteps.

A few days ago I had an epiphany! I’ve always considered myself an optimistic person…Why am I seeing nothing but the negative in this situation?

Four years ago I committed to 365 days of thankfulness. That lead to my Facebook page, 365 Days and Counting and a year later my blog, Conversations Around the Tree.

I enjoyed that year of thankfulness and found myself much more focused on my actions and more observant of those around me. For this reason I’ve decided to seek the positive and resume a year of gratitude.

I hope you will join me on this journey of optimism and while I am searching for a nugget of gratitude each day maybe you too will search for something positive to be thankful for.

I have decided to share each post on 365 Days and Counting and Conversations Around the Tree. Some of my friends never made the transition from 365 to Conversations and I’ve met many new and awesome people at Conversations…..so I will post in both places and hope by doing this more people will find a reason to seek gratitude.

 

“Interrupt Anxiety
with Gratitude.”
Life by Guilia

RIP My Friend…

I went to a memorial service today for one of my former clients.
I first met “Susan” 6 years ago. I was completing my social work internship at a homeless shelter and she was living in the long term women’s unit.

“Susan” always looked a mess. Her hair never seemed to be brushed and it rarely looked clean. Her clothes were always baggy and frequently stained. But her smile could brighten a room.

When I learned of her passing I was sadden to hear she died alone. Apparently an accident resulted in “Susan” relying on life support. Her family lives in a different state and made the decision to remove the life support. I have no doubt they made the right decision….but it saddens me that no-one made it to her bedside before the plug was pulled.

“Susan” had a difficult life. She suffered with schizophrenia as well as drug and alcohol addiction. She spent time on the streets and in the 6 years I knew her she moved from group home to group home. She rarely stayed anywhere for more than 6 months. The voices that haunted “Susan” were evil and the addictions were relentless but she fought back. As a matter of fact, her memorial service was held at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting space and was ran much like a meeting.

Despite “Susan” dying alone, I learned at her service, she did not live her life alone.
I was not close to Susan, I was her case worker. A case worker is expected to maintain a professional distance. Even though we don’t enjoy a leisurely lunch with our clients we do occasionally run across individuals that steal a chunk of our hearts. To me Susan was one of those people. Every time I visited with Susan she flashed a joyful smile and gave me a bear hug. Sadly, I imagined “Susan” to be somewhat friendless, especially when I heard no one was at the hospital with her. But today I was happy to learn she had friends that cherished her, friends that formed true bonds with her and friends that also would have been at the hospital if given the chance.

Today I was happy to hear people speak of her humor and her love for soda. I nodded when I heard them speak of her challenges in life, and smiled when I heard them speak of her successes. “Susan’s” death silenced the voices in her head but Susan did the necessary work to conquer her additions. Today I was happy to hear that “Susan” won her fight against alcohol and drug abuse….she died one year sober.

RIP my friend….you will be missed.

They’re Gone

Several months ago I met Curtis and his dog King. They were panhandling at a busy intersection. I stopped and visited with Curtis. Through him I learned about a homeless camp under a local bridge.

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Curtis and King

My friends and I started visiting the camp at least once a month. We delivered food, water, blankets, dog food, clothes, etc. We visited and tried to get to know the men and women living under the bridge.

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Camp

Today I stopped by to drop off some dog food. I made my way down the overgrown path, and realized something seemed different. As I crested the concrete hill I realized the camp was gone. No tents, no mattresses, no make-shift shelters….they were gone. IMG_1441

Over the months I had learned a few names, Rick, Samuel and Chris but little else. Today i realized it is unlikely I will see any of them again. If there was a remote possibility that all of them found jobs, housing and security I would be excited. Sadly I know this isn’t likely. On the far side of the camp I noticed the tree was charred. As I walked closer I realized a large area was charred. fire.jpgAs I tried to process everything I was seeing, or not seeing, I imagine the fire may be what brought the authorities to the camp and what eventually became the demise of the camp family.

I hope some day I will run into some of them. But if I don’t get the chance to see them again…I hope they are well.