Daily Prompt: Youth – Do You Feel Young?

via Daily Prompt: Youth

 

I’ve heard it said that you’re only as young as you feel.  There’s how you feel in your body, of course.  Do you feel creaky?  Limber?  Pained?  Strong?  Since starting to exercise again, I feel younger physically than I did a year ago. Even six months ago, I felt sluggish and my back hurt most of the time.  Amazing how much difference even twenty pounds can make.  Even though I’m still in the obese range, my blood pressure is lower, my back doesn’t hurt as much, and I feel younger.  It makes me want to lose more and become stronger.  Exercise helps me shed my premature age.

Youth is a mental state as well.  You can be naturally young due to age, you can freeze in time at a certain point, perhaps sixteen or twenty, and not age from there.  You can be eighty and enjoy a second childhood – whether from dementia or enlightenment.  I aim for a conscious maturity, though I never want to devolve into ossification.  I stay active, mentally and physically.  I want to be like the willow, strong and supple throughout my life.

How old do you feel?

How old do you want to feel?

 

Courage: Teaching myself to be brave

Earhart_and_electra.jpeg

 

Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace.

The soul that knows it not
Knows no release from little things:
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear,
Nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear the sound of wings.

Nor can life grant us boon of living, compensate
For dull gray ugliness and pregnant hate
Unless we dare
The soul’s dominion.
Each time we make a choice, we pay
With courage to behold the resistless day, And count it fair.

 

Amelia Earhart

 

Amelia Earhart wrote these words in her twenties, while she was still in college. She had yet to do all the amazing things she did later. This poem is a great reminder of not only what it takes to be courageous, but also why we should be brave, and what our lives are like without courage.

“Daring the soul’s dominion” means, to me, that brave act of choosing how we wish to feel and doing what we wish to do, guided by our minds, rather than surrendering to the tyranny of our emotions. It also means that we must be brave enough to make a choice and face the results, come what may.

With the final line, I think that it also can take courage to face troubles and worries and fears, and yet think that the day will be a good one. Being positive is, after all, a good choice.

I wrote this couplet when I was in flight school, in the same vein:

 

Each day is a good day because it’s a day not a night,

each flight is a good flight.

Transgender Truth

Trans folk may not be what, or who, you think they are.

If you have a trans friend, I commend you. If you have a trans family member, I commiserate with you. If you, yourself, are trans, I support you.

However, many people may never have met anyone who is transgendered. There are so many misconceptions out there, so much fear, and so many lies.

For instance, so many many people I know think being transgendered is a lifestyle choice or something you do on a whim.

Did you know it’s actually a medical condition?  Researchers are beginning to see evidence that it is indeed possible to have a brain with the structure of one sex, in the body with the structure of the other sex. Because of biology and hormone balance, it is more common for male babies to be born with a female brain than vice versa. The cause seems to be hormone fluctuations that can sometimes happen during pregnancy.

The result then, is someone who feels, deep inside themselves, that they are one gender – because their brain is built that way – while their body is shaped another way. Some people who are transgendered are also intersex, where their body has both male and female sexual characteristics, but their inner sense of themselves differs from the arbitrary decision their doctor or their parents made at birth.

Bottom line: in many cases, a transgendered person has a valid and measurable medical reason behind their decision to take on a role as the opposite sex. It is a decision that only comes after much soul searching, it is not a whim or a snap decision, it is not a fetish, and it is not a lifestyle choice.

 

Transsexuals versus crossdressers

A crossdresser is someone who dresses as the opposite sex, for enjoyment or for many other reasons, but who still identifies as their birth sex. A transsexual is someone who was born as one sex but is changing to another. They may or may not have had surgery.

 

Sex versus Gender

Sex is what your body is shaped like. Gender is how you feel inside.

 

Problems with restroom access

Something that most people don’t know is that people who are going through gender transition are often required to be on hormones and live exclusively as their desired gender for at least a year before getting surgery.

If we think about this, it’s easy to see that forcing someone to use the bathroom of their birth sex could be quite problematic. This would require someone who is dressed as a woman, is passing quite well, and is doing everything like a woman, to use the men’s room anyway. This is a recipe for beatings and even murders. Meanwhile, if she had quietly used the women’s room, sat in the stall as she always did, By the way, she might have been doing that for months or years – without causing alarm or trouble. She doesn’t want trouble, she just wants to use the bathroom, like any woman.

Surgery is difficult, painful and expensive. Hormones are expensive and can be dangerous if mishandled. Doctors sometimes refuse to treat trans patients. So for those who say “why don’t they just get it over with and finish the process?” please consider that the person in question may want, very badly, to finish – but be unable to. It’s harder to get a job when you are trans, after all, and there are a lot of social roadblocks. Jokes about trans folk are common, there are few legal protections, and people die every day for being trans.

Because of the way she’s routinely treated, I know a trans woman who often says “we are the last niggers in America.”

 

Are transgendered people dangerous?

No. Nothing about having gender dysphoria makes you any more unstable than any other person. Statistically speaking, heterosexual-identified males are the most likely to predators, whether of children or otherwise. People who are trans may actually have more compassion than others because they are so frequently mistreated.

 

Can gender dysphoria be cured another way, such as through prayer?

No. It can’t. Gender dysphoria can be suppressed for a period of time as a person denies it and tries to meet societal expectations of who they should be. Many people try to be ultra masculine or ultra feminine in an effort to “be who they should be” before realizing that they truly are the other gender inside, and it’s not just a phase. Methods of treatment that don’t involve a transition usually result in depression at the best, suicide at the worst.
What trans people want

It’s a large subject and impossible to speak for everyone, but in general, trans folk just want the same rights everyone else has. They don’t want special rights, they just want to live normal lives. The goal of most trans women, for example, is to simply be a woman – not to be specially privileged, but deserving of the same respect everyone else gets.

 

What trans people are not

Trans people are NOT interested in “converting” your kids, and being trans is not contagious. They aren’t dangerous or unstable and many have incredible amounts of self knowledge. In general, they are not perverts. They are also not necessarily gay. They usually aren’t “confused” either.

 

How to refer to transgendered people

Individual tastes differ. You can say “a transgendered person” or “transgendered,” but never “a transgender.” Similarly, “a transie” can sometimes be an affectionate descriptor, but never “a tranny.” A tranny is a part off a car, not a person, and it’s usually very offensive. “Transsexual” is also usually appropriate.

 

Ways to support a trans person

First, treat them as the gender they present as. If you are confused about pronouns, just ask. Avoid asking a bunch of intrusive questions unless they have showed they are comfortable about it. Other than that, just talk – enjoy their company, treat them as a person. Most trans folk don’t want to center their life around their transition, they have other interests, skills, loves, dreams. Above all, just treat a trans person like… a person.

 

How you can help

I know this post has been long, and the people who need to read it probably won’t. Even if you never donate to a trans friendly charity or help a trans person directly, though, you can be educated about the subject and gently correct wrong assumptions and incorrect facts along the way. Also, parents, please teach your children that staring and making inappropriate comments is not polite and can hurt people.

I would truly appreciate it if anyone chooses to share or forward this blog entry, it may be copied and duplicated in excerpt or in part by anyone as long as the original intent of support is maintained. Thank you for caring enough to read this!

Invictus: teaching myself to be strong

 

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.                                                        -William Ernest Henley

 

This poem is truly inspiring to me. Though it seems a bit trite because it’s been quoted so often, it shows me a better, stronger, more enduring path to walk in life. At times I think “am I lying to myself? My head has been bowed by circumstance plenty of times, I have been an incredible coward.”

However, reading this poem and learning it is not about honesty – it’s about replacing old thoughts with new. It’s about convincing myself that the old way of doing things is wrong, that there’s a better way. It acknowledges that life is tough but I can make it. It gives me good, strong, positive thoughts to fasten on, so that when a weak, cowardly thought comes up, there’s something to stand up against it. In effect, it’s “perseverance practice.”

The only things I have done in my life that were worthwhile, happened because I didn’t give up. Invictus is a poem about not giving up. I wish I had learned this poem as a kid. I wonder if I would have been stronger?

Is there a poem or quote that you use to become a better person?

How customer service taught me to “be a lady.”

When I was little, sometimes I’d hear “that’s not ladylike,” or “be a lady.” I usually got a negative impression of that. I didn’t watch TV as a child, so I thought all “ladies” were like the women at church – rather timid, rather limited, and rarely doing anything interesting. I surely didn’t want to be that! It wasn’t till later that I discovered women really could do interesting things, as I learned about Amelia Earhart and Sally Ride and Joan of Arc, and eagerly read stories about Athena and Artemis. Still, these women weren’t portrayed as “ladylike” and so I still thought being a lady was for the birds.

In a way, I still do – but I’m changing.

Enter the wonderful world of customer service. I went from a completely clueless tech support rep who could barely clear cache and cookies and was awash in a sea of things I couldn’t control, to a competent CSR, and eventually a knowledge expert who was training other people. During that time I learned a lot about being a lady.

I learned that it was just as okay to let the door be held for me as it was to hold the door for others. I learned to accept help with nearly as much grace as I gave it. This kind of work drilled me to always, always, always say please and thank you. I learned how to be calm and polite, even friendly, no matter how loudly the other was yelling, and how much power that gave me. A true lady’s grace under pressure lets her overcome as many challenges as a true gentleman’s strength.

A wiser, older coworker of mine once said, “a lady can do absolutely anything she wants to. But that doesn’t mean she has to.”

Once rather uncomfortable with the courtesy that is traditionally given women, I learned that it was important to accept that courtesy – how else can we give men practice at being gentlemen? Being a lady doesn’t mean you are not allowed to do certain things, but it is a role that ultimately makes the world a gentler place to live in. I could get out of my airplane (I did eventually learn to fly) and walk to a door, smile nicely at the man who held it and thank him, then confidently go in to the hangar and ask the mechanics for a quart of oil and a red rag. There’s nothing unladylike about that!

I realized recently that my main problem with “being a lady” was connotations related to the word itself. Ladyship could be a position of grace and strength, much like being a gentlemen. Whether you are a lady or gentleman, it means you are strong, mentally and hopefully physically, can stay cool under pressure, are resourceful, keep yourself neat and clean, and know how to talk to people graciously. It means you have respect for other people and yourself. It has no bearing on what you do for a living. Being a gentleman or a lady is a state of mind.

We live in an amazing time. Women and men have more freedom than ever. At the same time, we can pass along old fashioned customs of politeness, not because they are a duty, but because they are a joy.

Amelia: not just another Airhead!

It’s become fashionable in some circles to remember Amelia Earhart as a somewhat flaky, irresponsible aviatrix who is mostly famous because she got lost. She is often portrayed in movies and books as somewhat irresponsible, even a dilettante.

This is far from the truth. Amelia Earhart was a tireless champion of women’s rights. She wasn’t just about flying, either. She constantly tried to help young women enter fields of math, science, engineering, and other traditionally male dominated roles. She studied hard in school, tried to learn as much science as she could, and even picked a high school based on the science programs available there. She earned most of the money for her flying career and took many jobs, sometimes two or three at a time, to pay for it.

She worked as a nurse’s aide during the aftermath of world war I, she worked for the phone company at one point, she drove a gravel truck, she was an author, she worked as a social worker in a settlement house as well as many other jobs. At one point she drove across the country in a two seat sports car at a time before the interstate system was even in place. She learned to fly multiengine aircraft, set numerous records, and flew a type of aircraft called an autogyro across the country as well.

Once, she was in position to win an air race but another pilot had cracked up their airplane. Instead of continuing on to win, she saved the other pilot’s live and then got back in the air to win second place. She was more interested in doing the right thing than winning the prize money.

She got together with Charles Lindbergh, and started America’s first airline, TAT. It went through many evolutions and name changes and eventually became Delta Airlines.

Yes, Amelia took advantage of publicity. She used it as a tool to try to advance the cause of women. She did some stunt flying for fun, and some to prove that women could. She supported other female pilots and helped create an organization for them, called the 99s. She encouraged people to follow their dreams and not be limited by their sex or social position.

She wasn’t the best pilot, nor did she claim to be. She loved what she did and she wanted other people to love what they did, too. The more I have learned about her, the more inspired I have become. She didn’t hold herself above people or claim to be the greatest, instead she tried to inspire people so that they could join her in the sky.

 

The Art of Womanhood

This is a blog I would love to write or contribute to.

Currently, there is a truly amazing website called the Art of Manliness. I love it because you can find information on many different topics that are incredibly valuable in the world today and yet are neglected or nearly forgotten. You can find everything from how to do an old school wet shave with a straight razor, to basic car repair, understanding tools and materials, how to light a fire without matches, how to dress sharply, how to write a letter, and all kinds of old things you wished you’d learned from your grandpa. AOM is a window to a more civilized world full of manly men who know how to be strong, capable, and independent, but also kind and loving.

I want to do that for women.

I want to help create a repository of information that modern women can use. Old skills, new skills, tool use, self defense, health, beauty, grace, independence, and family skills. I know all of these things are available elsewhere – and I’d probably start by linking to existing content – but I want to make a place for people who want to know about all of this and at the same time carry forward an aura of grace and dignity and strength into the new era.

How about an article on being a gracious hostess? Or how to really carry on a conversation? How to pick out stationary and when to use it? Or how to talk to a mechanic without looking like a fool? I basically want to collect these things together in a package that’s classy, well organized, and appealing to women. It could be a sister site to Art of Manliness. Maybe we could even ally together.

There are so many skills and arts that are being lost even as we speak. I want to preserve them! What if a young woman wants to learn to roast a turkey, say, but her mom isn’t there to give her all the tips and tricks? What if a young woman needs relationship advice but doesn’t have someone she trusts to talk to? Or doesn’t know how to sew on a button? Or needs to jump start her car?

“Art of Womanhood” would solve all that!