Like many people, Katie and I have been watching the Winter Olympics from Pyeongchang this last week. I’m continually inspired by the amazing things these kids do. NBC has done a number of pre-packaged interviews with Olympic athletes and their families, and a common thread among them is big dreams.
One athlete told of his dad saying the very same words my dad said to me: “You can do anything you want to if you want to do it bad enough.”
My dad would have never put up with it if I told him my dream was to live life as a woman. Who could blame him? It was the early 1960s, after all.
But that was my dream. I thought about it a lot, but not even I believed it was really possible. Happily, I was wrong.
One thing I’d like to do — if not today, then maybe this weekend — is take a little time to count my blessings. I have the life I’ve always dreamed of — even though some of the details are quite surprising. But it’s so easy to get self-absorbed on a day-to-day basis, where “planning” is sometimes figuring out what’s for dinner or what to do this weekend (if we want to really get long range). And the weight of the day can seem to take on more importance than it really has.
I think that is a common barrier to happiness. That, and Facebook.
I need to take a few deep breaths, get quiet and just remember how hard I fought to get where I am and all that I sacrificed to be who I am. Just living every day as Leslie is a revolutionary act. It is my closest-held dream that never carried with it the possibility of really coming true.
Yet here it is.
It’s funny that something so momentous, so impossible and so rebellious is now ordinary. It’s just the new normal. It’s easy to take for granted the miracle I’m living every single day.
When I was little and would dream of living my life as a woman, I always thought I’d be ridiculed and laughed at. I’m not — at least, not that I’m aware of.
I never imagined the big challenges would be political — institutionalized bigotry designed to deny me healthcare and access to public accommodations necessary to participate in society. I never thought that political leaders — grown men and women — would sow the seeds of fear and hatred towards someone like me with no evidence at all that I deserve either. That’s been a surprise.
In dreaming about this impossible dream, I never pictured my finding love. That was so far removed from the realm of possibility. I’d always imagined myself living as a happy hermit — living my authentic life, but completely alone.
The reality is that, somehow, the stars aligned, and Katie and I ended up crossing paths, and her kindness towards me that began as nothing more than helping a friend has turned into something more — a lot more. Having someone who loves me like she does makes this journey so much richer and so much more worth living.
I love her dearly and would do anything for her. I have no doubt she feels the same way about me.
Pushing 60 gives things a sense of urgency they didn’t have when I was younger. My dad’s “some days” ran out Feb. 21, 1987, when he was only 67 years old — just eight years older than I am now. I plan on living way past 67, but so did my dad.
It’s a somber reminder that sometimes things don’t work out according to plan.
My first thought is to create a list of blessings — write them out — so I can see them. Then I want to create a visual reminder of sorts that represents these blessings and add to it as life goes on. I’m already realizing that I’m going to need a pretty big canvas or a smaller medium. It could be a rock garden, or wine corks, or a jar of marbles with each one representing a blessing in my life for which I’m humbly grateful.
I don’t think the form it takes is nearly as important as remembering and acknowledging each blessing. They can be whatever I want them to be, from huge ones, like my daughters who love and accept me, or the warm and safe house Katie and I bought together and our two border collies. Or they could be simple things, like the feel of the warm sun on an early spring day.
The point is that believing in your dreams and being thankful for the people and things that make life worth living are important to living a happy life. I also hope to live my life in such a way that I can be a marble in someone else’s jar.
I live a simple life, but a good life. I’m happier than I ever thought I would be, and I understand things now that I didn’t when I was younger — like how you should never let go of your dreams, because they might just surprise you in the most incredible ways.
Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com.