Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I'm a big believe in re-invention.  That is, I find it critical to take the time to honestly consider and reassess things in our lives at regular intervals of our lives.  Sometimes that assessment leads to minor changes.  Other times - it can lead to big/huge/life-changing ones.  I call those Re-Inventions.

Certainly, a gender transition is probably the most significant re-invention that I can imagine.  But as I've said before, once you've been down that path you find that it becomes more difficult to simply accept things in your life that you'd change for one reason or another if you could.  Whether they're pain-points, you've outgrown things based on current life circumstance, or you want to head in a new direction it's far easier to simply accept constraints as being boundaries than it taking the risk involved in letting go of the familiar for the possibility of something more.

I've talked about that here before.  I can't say that everyone thinks as I do, but this kind of an approach has proved itself to be both a blessing and a curse.  When things in my life don't align with my overall life-plan I have a hard time just accepting that and growing comfortable with it.  For someone like myself who truly embraces the sentiments expressed in Serenity Prayer they're more like life rules than guidelines.  Change is good, especially when you're the one creating the change.....

Recently I have alluded to some changes in my world.  The difficulty of aligning my career (more specifically, the income that it provides) and my deep need to set some roots and settle down have been pretty  much at odds for quite a while now.  I have no doubt about where the roots are growing, and I absolutely refuse to shape my world around my career.  I've lessened the burden by seeking out opportunities within arm's reach of Charleston but in reality that's not something I can or will sustain long-term.  Changes need to be made.

After almost 35 years I ask myself - What is a career?  It doesn't mean the same thing to me today that it did when I was just starting it, or starting a family, or at early formative stages.  It is now

For me, it's something that I've done for over 30 years now.  Do I enjoy what I do at this stage of the game?  Not particularly.  Does it provide fulfillment?  I suppose it does - to a certain degree.  Can I see myself doing it for another dozen years?  No.  My career provides good income, insurance, and some of the other need-to-have elements of life but if I had options to change lanes at this point I'd seriously consider them.

Well, I do. I have made some.

I should preface some of this by saying that I learned a long time ago the any time you trust that "luck", "hope", or "circumstance" will be instrumental elements to change things in your life it means two things.  First, you're willing to settle for whatever happens since you're not directing things in any particular direction.  Second, you're willing to sit and suffer for a prolonged period of time since you're not taking the initiative to make change happen.  That has never been my style, perhaps even to a fault.  I have a very hard time simply accepting when important things suck in my life given the realization that they'll continue to suck unless I take steps to stop it.

As of this past week I am one of South Carolina's newest Real Estate agent licensees.  I've been taking the necessary coursework and working through the hoops to get licensed to buy and sell property in the state.  I am now doing the work necessary to obtain a license in North Carolina, as well.  I've joined an established nationwide agency and am looking forward to gradually setting sail in this new life direction.

This is all new ground for me.  The process thus far has been an interesting one.  Much of it is backwards to anything I've known before.  For example, when I'm looking for a job I'm used to having to interview so someone can make a decision whether or not to "hire" me.  Well, as a real estate licensee you interview with local brokers but in reality you're interviewing them, not the other way around.  Agents are independent businesses so getting hired isn't difficult.  It's actually producing once you've found a broker that's the hurdle.

Anyway - there will be more coming on this.  I wish I could just change lanes now and give my new opportunity my full time and attention but I can't.  The allure of breaking free from my cubicle-bound corporate life is strong, but there are practical realities that need to be considered and managed.  I can't simply close my eyes and jump, hoping to land safely.  It's more complicated than that.

One of the other people in my class is very similar to me.  She's roughly my age and has a very successful consultant position with a top company, but has grown tired of all the travel.  She did exactly what I'm doing.  The big difference is that she has quit her old job to focus on the new one.  I can't do that yet.  For me, it's difficult to try to straddle two worlds (any two worlds) but the goal is to keep that period as short as possible.  I'm trying to do that...

Here are some photos from my world over this past week.  Nothing special - just things I do and see.

An evening stroll on the Four Mile Creek Greenway boardwalk

Spring color in the Low Country

Almost time to consider a dip in the pool at my apartments

Early morning on the Don Holt Bridge - I just like the tilted perspective

Pretty sunset over the Isle of Palms Marina
Selfie on my way to work.  I often wear my hair up when it gets warm outside  - I'm much "cooler" that way.

Starting new things can be unnerving and exciting both at the same time.  I've had enough new "beginnings" to grow comfortable with both of them.  However, I especially enjoy the excitement aspects.  Despite all the challenges and question marks, this truly is an exciting time.  For many reasons.

All that said - stay tuned as I gear up the new career.  This should be interesting....

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Aura of Confidence

I'm wallowing in nostalgia this afternoon.  I typically have music playing in the background.  Whether it's my own substantial music collection, Pandora, a radio station on iHeartRadio, Paladia, or an album from Spotify there is usually music playing in my world.

This afternoon's selection includes Gordon by the Barenaked Ladies.  They were big in Rochester in the early '90s - long before they hit it big nationally.  I can't believe that was over 20 years ago!  Anyway, the songs bring me back to a time long ago and far away.  I'm enjoying this....

Big happenings in Donna's World this week.

I mentioned that I'm actively taking steps to change careers that would allow me to align the things that are important to me right now.  I'd rather not discuss specifics yet, but it requires a level of education/training and a difficult test to get through the door.  I took the test yesterday.  And passed.  PHEW

I like tests.  I always have.  I'm good at preparing for them and part of my personality likes the fact that there's a right answer and it's my job to find it.  That's why I like math, too.  I've been a studying machine over these past few weeks preparing for this so it's a big relief to finally get it over with.  I don't expect to be making any drastic changes in my life in the near future but it opens the door to opportunity - a door that was locked to me until yesterday.  I'm sure there will be more to come on this.

Another thing I like - Peanut Butter.  I go through periods of absolutely craving it, and this is one of those periods.  I eat it on sandwiches.  I eat spoonfuls of it for a snack.  I enjoy it...just because.

I met with my doctor this week for my annual bloodwork review.  Everything looks good.  My total Cholesterol is 151.  My HDL is 68.  My LDL is 66.

One thing she checks is my hormone levels.  My testosterone level is < 3, which I'm thrilled about.  Almost non-existent.

I've transitioned off my bi-weekly injections as my estrogen level is high even without them (as in, > 500).  I"m happy about that.  Although the shots have always provided a level of a "high" that I can feel the cost of the injectable vials makes it difficult to afford.  Each little bottle is ~$200 and I just can't justify that on an ongoing basis.

My hair is perhaps the longest it has ever been.  When it's up in a ponytail the bottom of the ponytail rests down on my shoulders - I can feel it on my neck.  I remember how odd it was to feel the long hair from my wigs on my back and shoulders in the early, early days.  Now, I hardly notice it.  My stylist likes long hair so we trim it every 6 or 8 weeks but otherwise it just keeps on growing.

All things considered - I appear to be pretty healthy.

I walked into the Dry Cleaner yesterday and the woman said to me as I walked up to the counter, "Now, there's one confident woman!".  It took me aback a little bit.  She said I just had a way about me - my head up when I walked, a purpose to my step, an "aura of confidence" (her words, not mine).  "You look like you don't need no man for nothin'" she says.  I agreed.

Frankly, I'd rather be perceived that way than as a weak and indecisive.  It's unfortunate that our culture typically applies gender to things - strong and confident are considered "masculine" traits while quiet and vulnerable are considered to be feminine. Regardless - I'm comfortable with whatever traits others perceive in me.

Last week a FB "Friend" posted an article about open-carry weapon laws in a number of states.  He wrote something about how idiotic this was, and other similar-thinking folk piled on with any number of insults and typically stereotypical comments.  I chimed in as disagreeing and provided a number of what I feel to be very valid points.  This person quickly wrote to tell me that I'm "insane", un-friended me, and removed the entire post.  As sports columnist Jim Rome used to say when asking for opinions and thoughts - "Have a take, and don't suck."  Unfortunately, social networking stresses the former and often forgets the latter.

The reason I mention that here is that a note just came up on my iPad that the Governor of Georgia signed a bill allowing gun owners to have guns in places where they had been previously banned including school zones, churches, and parts of airports (read it here).  This guy and his band of friends are probably in a frothy frenzy over it.  Honestly - I don't have a problem with it.  It's not the responsible gun owners (like myself) I'd be worried about.

What I do have a problem with is sending troops to Eastern Europe (article here).  There is no way for this to play out positively.  Frankly - I think this is just going to turn into another huge mess that we can't get ourselves out of.  Why do we never learn?

There's a bird that has made a nest on my front patio, on a ledge just outside the door.  Every time I go outside it quickly flies away, only to come back shortly afterwards (when it's "safe").  I wish I could tell this bird that I'm no threat, and that it can relax.  Unfortunately, I don't know how to speak that language so we'll just have to put up with one another as is.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easters past and present

I hope everyone had a pleasant Easter.  Mine was very nice.

Easter has been the singular holiday that has embodied the ups and downs of my life.  If there is a single day that symbolically represents the best of times, and the worst of times - this is it.

I remember an Easter back ~1980 shortly after I met my wife.  I was working going to Syracuse University and working at a hotel there.  They had scheduled me to work the big Sunday Brunch, which was fine, but my wife's family was having an Easter cook-out that afternoon and it would be the first time I had really met her entire family.I had arranged to be able to leave at 11 so I could do both.

Well, 11 o'clock came and we were slammed.  I went to the manager to tell him I was getting ready to leave.  He said that we were too busy to let me go, so we could evaluate in another hour or so.  My future wife was already there to pick me up and it only took a second to decide what to do.  I left as planned.

I was baptized the week before Easter.  The priest who I worked with to convert wanted me to do it at the Easter mass but I wasn't going to do that.

Over the course of my son's childhood Easter was about church, then brunch.  We colored eggs and did Easter Egg hunts around the house.  They were good, good times.

It was an Easter shortly before I left home that my wife started yelling at me that I was ripping our family apart and that she would divorce me.  That was the first time my son was exposed to any of what was happening in our household at the time.

That following Easter was perhaps the lowest point in my life.  It was a couple of weeks before I was scheduled to begin my transition.  I was alone in my apartment, separated from my wife and son.  I was uncomfortable, scared, confused, and generally in a very dangerous place.  My manager, Mike, came by to bring some roasted chicken and wine for a mid-day brunch to pull me out of it.  I called off my transition and went back home less than 10 days later.

Three years ago Elizabeth and I and the kids spent Easter at the White House - we had tickets to the Easter Egg Roll.

A couple of years ago I spent the morning wandering around downtown Charleston taking pictures.  The city is all decked out in its springtime finery, and truly a sight to behold.  It was wonderfully peaceful.

And this year - well, it was notable by being un-extraordinary.  I was where I wanted to be, with the people I wanted to be with, doing what I wanted to do.  In the scheme of things, that can sometimes be more special than anything.

More than any other annual milestone, this day is a reminder of the ebb and flow of life.  Good times and memories, and bad ones.  Hi points, and low points.  Tumult, and peace.  I always look forward to Easter if for no other reason than it represents Springtime.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

On my way to Somewhere

I never really finished my last post before hitting the "Publish" button.  I was going to share a couple of pictures from my world, but events conspired to delay that.  No's what I was going to share.

Where I work....

My working week home

I watched the movie Phenomenon again the other night.  It's the movie where John Travolta plays simple country guy George Malley who saw a bright light one night and suddenly gets all kinds of interesting "powers".  The fascinating part is the affect it has on his friends who suddenly start to fear (and eventually shun) their long-time friend.  There's a lot of good stuff in's a wonderful movie.

One of the lines I particularly like is when George realizes he's only got a little time left and is trying to explain it to the kids.  "Everything is on it's way to somewhere", he says.  So true.  It's all a journey.

I have been finding myself reminiscing quite a bit lately, not simply things I've done but feelings I've had.  For example, my apartment complex has an indoor basketball court so I bought a basketball to play there.  I haven't had a basketball in a quarter century.  I remember spending hours in our backyard all by myself, practicing the same shot over and over, pretending I was in a game.  I remember putting up a basket for my son so he could experience that same thing only to find that was my own memory not his.  He never showed an interest in it.

Songs do that, too...especially songs from when I was in high school.

I had a wonderful weekend.  The weather was sunny and warm (~80 degrees).  I spent time quality working in the yard.  We spent an afternoon on the jet ski, visiting some of the beachy islands around Charleston.  I took the boat to the mechanic to have her checked out for seaworthiness.  Nothing specifically extraordinary, but all of it was memorable.  As I sit here this morning I'm a little burned around the edges, but otherwise none the worse for wear.

Tomorrow I go in for my annual lab work - they're going to take and test my blood.  I hate that.  I'm going to assume all is well until I find out otherwise.  Keep your fingers crossed.  :)

Thursday, April 10, 2014


I've been away for a while.  Sorry about that.  There's not specific reason - in all honesty I haven't had much to say.

That's not because my life isn't any less busy than it has ever been.  Au contraire.

I'm taking active steps to embark on another mid-life transition.  Before anyone gets too cute - NO, I'm not transitioning back.  I'm more than happy where I am.  I've prioritized a number of things and it's obvious that if I want something to change I'm the one who needs to force the issue.  So, Ima forcing the issue.  More to come on that.

I've said for a long time that the key ingredients to any transition are (a) desire (b) creativity (c) adaptability (d) timing (e) luck....but most importantly (f) time.  Time is the key.  That's the difference between a sudden change and a transitional one.  Anyway....I'm working on it.  I suspect I'll have more to come at some point.

The advent of Social Networking has opened new horizons for meeting people, connecting with friends, meeting new people, and overall "life-sharing".  I perceive SN to be like fire - controlled it is a blessing.  But uncontrolled, it is a curse.

More than that -  when people share too much it can become dangerous. There are aspects of FaceBook that I enjoy. For example, I've reconnected with the person that I took to my High School Sr. Prom.  It has been so nice to catch up on life with here - all thanks to social networking.  Perhaps oddly - the people who are my closest friends typically aren't friends on FB.  There are FB "politics" that sometimes get in the way of what's happening in the real world that I'm just not willing to deal with.

That said - I am so so happy that none of this existed when I transitioned.  I realize that everyone is different, but for me, my transition was a personal journey that I saved to share with a small group of intimates, not to a world of strangers.  I'm not in any way saying that others don't or shouldn't feel otherwise as there is no one right answer.

More than once I've imagined myself the night before I called off my initial attempt to transition.  If there were such a thing as FB back then would I have reached out?  Would I have tried to explain the dark place I was in?  Would that have saved me from myself?  Who's to say, but I doubt it.  What I do know is that the right things eventually happened so it's not really all that important.

The reason I'm sharing that is to reiterate the fact that I'm a private person.   My transition was a deeply personal journey that I saved to share with a small group of intimates friends.  That's still true - Even though I have a public-facing side, it only provides a limited view into my world.  Does anyone know where I work?  Does anyone know where I am at any point?  Does anyone even know that I've got a very significant other in my life?  Unless you're a very small group of 1 or 2 or 3 people, the answer is "no".  I cherish my privacy as I cherish my dignity.  One you give either of them away, it's difficult to get them back.

I'm in the sharing mood, so I'll share a couple of things here tonight.