Sunday, August 7, 2016

Music, the language of the soul

Mimi (our youngest daughter - and aspiring violin player) has been playing violin for a few years now. We met her teacher at a studio which closed the following year. We thought her teacher was a perfect fit, and so we hoped she would continue to teach Mimi. When she offered to teach out of her home, Virginie and I gave it absolutely no thought. She has nurtured her along with a balance between high expectations, and praise that is near perfect for Mimi.

A few weeks ago, her teacher emerged from her lesson smiling. "Mimi has picked out her recital piece" she announced with a smile. "It's a folk tune from Quebec, and she needs to practice it". Guilty as charged. I'll blame it on being too busy, but I admit, I've never heard the piece played, either during lessons, or during Mimi's practice time.

Until this morning...

When a musician performs, it's not just the music. Each performer using the expertise of their chosen instrument, their personality, style, and body language, to portray a story, which can cause each of us to reflect.

I remember playing in the University of Lethbridge Wind Orchestra many years ago. We were playing a collection of folk tunes called "Armenian Dances" by Alfred Reed. To this day, it remains one of my favorite Christmas tunes. This was a special performance though, there is an Alto Saxophone solo during the piece, and I was selected to play it. I fell easily, and instantly in love with the music, and over the course of the semester, I longed to return to that moment, wherein I would have the opportunity, to return to that place where music, passion, and the feelings of my soul could finally be released in harmony with the other musicians.

During our final performance, I was struck with the knowledge that this would likely be the last time, I would be playing this piece. As I played through my solo, and surrounded by the musicians, our music swelled to a musical climax that I felt so deeply, that I wept.

I didn't stop playing... but tears flowed freely. For the moment, this was my gift, that I could give.

After an epic battle, ultimately lost by the DVD player, the music was ready. I counted in my daughter, and she began to play. I went downstairs to continue painting.

And then I listened.

Folk music is beautiful. I absolutely love it. To me, it conveys much more than music, it tells a story, of a culture. Not of battles won or lost on the battlefield, but of stary skies reflected in the ripples of a river, or dances done in traditional costumes, or of something as simple as a mother kissing her child goodnight, and blowing out the lamp, promising him of sweet dreams to come.

And so of all the interpretations of that tune that have been done, none come even close to the beauty I heard coming from the strings of my daughters violin, because she played it with a quality that caught me off guard.

She played it with innocence. And I wept.

We have become so busy as a society, I believe that we have forgotten how to feel. We have work to be done, lessons to attend, fitness goals to reach, kids to rear, shopping to complete. And when we arrive home after these busy days, we learn numb ourselves from our emotions. A psychologist once told me some people will cut themselves, not with the intent to harm themselves, but with the intent to feel something, something real.

It's a gift that music gives for me. Something deep and real that I can savor like candy.

Music, it's what we can share, and enjoy when we love someone.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My Bathroom Story

I look down at my Son as he smiles at me. "Don't worry Dad, you totally look like a girl, you'll do just fine!" His confidence is reassuring. "Thank-you" I reply, "You go ahead, I'm going to worry a little more okay?" He smiles and heads into the bathroom. I marvel how easy it is for him, how easy it was for me. We are at Nakiska skiing on a planned Father and Son outing which we have planned for many months. The bathrooms here are among the busiest I have seen, and waiting in line at the women's washroom was too much... I mean, I would just be standing there in line, waiting to be judged... so I have held it in. Finally, it seems that there is at least no line going outside of the washroom, and its time to not let fear control me. I reassure myself, and begin walking toward my goal. Two girls chatting together walk in slightly ahead of me. For whatever reason, this scares me and I turn around and walk back to the entrance. Back to my corner. I begin to think to myself, "people looking at me must think that I'm a total pervert! Wait... stop that! Don't let your mind wander. There is never a perfect moment, just go". My son will be due out of the washroom soon, and I would like to at least be inside by then, he's been such an encouragement. I am so fortunate to have a supportive family.

And with that in mind, I'm able to walk in to the washroom.

It is mostly empty, with a few gals washing their hands, minding there own business. I look for a stall, and finding one, go inside, lock the door, and with gratitude, release the pain of hours of patience.

Truth be told, I've never had an altercation in the washroom yet. So far, the women have been for the most part, kind and accepting. Yet, I still wonder, while I'm sitting down doing my duty, "what if someone asks me for some toilet paper? Do I sound female enough? Do I look female enough?"

And then there's the media. Virginie reminds me often, that they just "focus on fear". It makes sense... Every species on the planet is hard wired to pay close attention to fear. It is our collective survival instinct. There has been a lot of media attention about it lately.

Last week I was walking into the women's washroom at work. As I entered, I looked over to see another gal heading to the same spot. When she saw me going in, she stopped, and turned around.

I keep reminding myself that I don't know her reasons for the change if mind, if even a change of mind took place, but it sure seems that way, and so the mind sometimes goes in circles trying to make sense of it.

I completely understand that a woman wouldn't want to go into the bathroom with a man. It would be weird and scary. The irony of the situation is, is that I actually feel normal now (yes, as in not weird) and while I won't, I could actually quantify this statement.

Honestly, I don't think it's the governments job to write rules about bathroom use... it just complicates the situation. In computer science, we often talk about the KISS principle (keep it simple stupid). When writing software, don't write more than you need to, and when writing, give the components of your software a simple, identifiable, reportable job. Each component is responsible for doing its job, and reporting on its progress.

For bathrooms, we need to be teaching our children basic principles of safety. Don't leave with a stranger, don't let people touch you what we taught our children as "their special spot", and to smile and be kind to others. With these things in mind, every individual can be responsible for their safety. Simple, identifiable, reportable.

I realize people are not computers, but this is not my point. My point is the KISS principle. Being kind to someone in the bathroom does not endanger us. With the proper information, we can all be kind, and safe.

I've spent too much time fearing over the bathroom. My plight to all is to be kind, honest, and smart. Let's not blow this issue out of proportion. Creating a beautiful culture in our society does not come from the top down (governments to people) it comes from the bottom up.

This is what we do when we love someone.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Random thoughts on God and Transition

It's been a long while since I've been able to blog... I guess I have not needed to. For the most part, I've got nothing to complain about at all, and if I do have anything, they have all been first world problems. But, there have been some recent events that really had me thinking, and as always, this blog serves as a place for my thinking "outloud". It does not mean that anything I say merits any truth, and serves only as a method to sort out the things which sometimes "plague" the mind. Its almost like, until I write them down, they don't go away. Once they are recorded for all the world to see? Then I'm able to make peace with them.

3 weeks ago our family received confirmation that our request to have our memberships removed from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (commonly known as the "Mormon" church) was complete. So our relationship with what I'll from now refer to as "the church" was finally severed. Ending, what I felt were many years of what still feels like spiritual abuse.

I don't blame the church for anything. Honestly, it's a wonderful organization, and the people do their best to follow who they feel is their "great exemplar". And they do a tremendous job! For me, it was all about my perceptions about God, and leaving behind the church, has been my way of breaking up with the most cruel man I've ever known. God himself.

For most of my life as a man, I knelt any prayed every night. Mostly to have God remove from me, what I felt was the one thing that kept me from knowing him better. Gender identity disorder. It was not the disorder itself, but the stress it caused. One of the great blessings I enjoy today are girlfriends! Honestly!!! It's one of the most wonderful gifts I have ever received! (You know who you are). I always felt that I had better friendships with Women, but they never developed into romance... I was always just "too good of a friend". It frustrated me... but it makes so much more sense now why I felt that way. Because I am a woman too! Yet, there I knelt, night after night, pleading before my maker that I would have so much more with which to be a servant of him, if he would remove the trial of Gender identity disorder from me. But, year after year, the answer was obviously no. As I got older, issues resulting from the stress of gender identity disorder became worse and worse. I became suicidal, but worse, detached from my family, and what little friends I had.

I often think to myself, if I went into a test, on an undisclosed subject, and was required to write the test, but when I didn't know the answer and asked the teacher for any kind of help, the answer received was "no". The church sees life this way. It's our opportunity to come to earth, and be tested. I cannot get the information I need to make important decisions, I feel this is God's issue, not mine.

Yet, I've met members of the church with whom I've discussed this important topic with, and when asked if God will be merciful to me, because in their minds, I've made such a huge mistake, the only answer I could get was "I don't know". Honestly, if God really lives? surely he would be kinder than that... and so we sent in our church resignations. So that I could say my goodbye's to that cruel god, and have a chance to live a life, without feeling like I'm failing him every two seconds.

Tomorrow is May 8th. Yes, it's Mothers Day... but not only that... it's my one year anniversary of starting estrogen therapy!!! I could not be happier. I sometimes feel like I must have swallowed a horse shoe when I was younger, because so far I've defied many of the common issues girls who transition face. First and foremost, estrangement from their loved ones. Yet, for me, in spite of this reality, Virginie and I have become closer and closer. I cried today... I cried for many reasons, and for none at all. Gals, you understand right?!? and through it all, I found my way into my Wifes warm embrace. She held me, and looked with a look that said "I know your hurting, and I'm sorry." The most wonderful part is that I know if I lost it and started crying again? That she would come over immediately, and hold me, and love me.

This is what we do when we love someone.
One year ago tomorrow!
Just about 1 month ago. Hormones are amazing!!!