Happy

Yesterday I went to the Happy Show at the Museum of Vancouver.  It was my first visit to the museum and I would recommend going, they had some great exhibits about the history of Vancouver.  I thought the Happy exhibit was excellent, though.  It is just here until September but I may try to go again before it leaves.

The exhibit looked at what makes people happy and shares some tidbits from an upcoming movie about this.  It is an interactive exhibit that gives you the chance to draw a happy animal, ride a bike to power a neon sign and take a card with a happy challenge on it among other things.  One of my favorites was a round table divided into three sections.  The three sections were labelled immediate happiness, short term happiness and long term happiness.  Visitors were encouraged to write their thoughts on what created these types of happiness on the appropriate section of the table.

Happy

This was the section I was most interested in.  This is what I want for my life.  I want a happiness that is not fleeting.  It is pretty obvious as I write this, that a happiness like that can not be based on external factors, because they are temporary.  Money, cars, even people come and go from our lives and may or may not be here tomorrow.  Some of the things people had written that can bring this long term happiness were Gratitude and courage, Being OK with the unknown – Vulnerability, Self Knowledge and from there self love, and dang it! on your own terms for your own approval.

These really caught my eye and parts of the exhibit seemed to support these.  One section was focused on stretching ourselves and stepping out of our routine and even comfort zone to try new things and make new connections.  It won’t always work out, but you don’t know until you try and the act of trying can make you happier no matter the results.  Sometimes if you don’t try, you will just wonder what would have happened if you had.  Some people call this regret.

My journey now is definitely out of my comfort zone, but I think it is about being the authentic me.  I feel good about that and it has changed my happiness level for the better.  Connection with people is important for happiness, too.  Sometimes I worry that being the authentic me and having that connection with others is mutually exclusive because the authentic me is not exactly in line with mainstream society.  Maybe that’s where the courage comes in, even if I am not sure and have some worries, I need to just forge ahead and let the results play out.  No matter the doubts I have, I am confident that I have chosen the right goal.  Long term happiness is ultimately what I am looking for in my life.

Advertisements

I Quit

So for the last 40 some years I have been trying hard to show that I fit into the gender club that I was assigned to.  I thought that was the easiest way to get through life and manage to seem “normal.”  Lately I have been questioning just what normal is and have decided that my normal is different from anyone else’s.  I know that may not be such a huge revelation, but what was a big revelation, to me at least, is that it is ok for my normal to be unique to me.  I can learn to be ok with it, too.

Now this post isn’t about that really though.  Questioning normal and subsequently wondering why I haven’t questioned it before has given me a new awareness.  As you can see from my previous post, I have questioned my gender.  The questions have gotten stronger and more serious lately and I think they are leading me to one place.  For me, it really isn’t my gender that I need to question.  My questions really have been pointing to the gender system that society has imposed on me.  Any discussion of my gender acknowledges the existence of a binary gender system.

For a long time I thought the best term for how I feel is gender fluid.  This was still based on the binary gender system.  i could fluidily identify with one gender or the other or somewhere in between.  To be in between there had to be the two poles to be somewhere between.

For me personally, the term gender queer implied falling outside the normal binary gender system.  This explicitly acknowledges the binary.  It seems like this binary is the reference point I was using to determine my gender and I really am not entirely comfortable with that, because I don’t believe in the binary gender system.  The logical questions that followed for me were 1. What else is there? 2. Why do we have to be one or the other? and 3. How did I get into this system I don’t really believe in?

My conclusion?  I quit!  I don’t remember signing up for this system.  I tried to fit into for years without wondering why or questioning whether it was really a club I wanted to be a part of.  As far as I can tell, gender is a socially constructed club that most people follow blindly because we are told to, whether implicitly or explicitly.  Wait a minute, that sounds a little like a cult.  Again, a very personal decision for me and absolutely no judgement for anyone else’s decision, but I don’t really want to be part of the gang anymore.  I am getting out of the gender club.  I don’t want to pick one or the other or something in between, I want to be out completely and not define myself by gender.  I want to officially declare myself ungendered!

I am not exactly sure what this will mean.  I am still trying to figure that out, but I think it will be an interesting journey that I am not sure I have the courage for.  I would not advocate breaking any laws and I will respect laws as they relate to gender, that much I have decided, but as much as possible, I am going to avoid gender altogether.  If someone can give me a clear definition of what it means to be a man or a woman and why it is important to belong to the gender club, I may reconsider.  I don’t want to follow this socially constructed norm just because though.  I am tired of picking sides when the sides haven’t even been clearly defined.  It will take some relearning and plenty of correcting myself, but I am taking myself out of the gender club.  I will return my membership card if I can find out who is in charge of this club and gave me my membership to start with.  I don’t remember asking for it and its time for me to unsubscribe.

Colored Toes

My friend’s three year old son likes to wear the princess dress at his preschool.  Every time she tells this story, people think its cute.  I have never heard a negative reaction to it.  I think its great, too but it makes me wonder at what age this behavior goes from cute to not alright?  I personally think that whether behavior is acceptable or not is a matter of perception, so why do we as a society perceive that a three year old boy can wear a princess dress but it is not acceptable for an adult male to wear a dress or skirt?

Gender and gender expression is perplexing to me and the more I think about it, the more perplexing it is.  Of course these are just my thoughts and opinions, I do not claim to speak for anyone else and I certainly don’t mean to offend anyone.

I was born with male parts but I am not sure that my gender is male.  I am not even sure what makes ones gender male or female.  It seems like it is just some random rules made up by society.  In my posts I will refer to people born with female parts as women, girls, etc. and people born with male parts as men, boys, etc. but even this is not the most comfortable.  I just don’t think we have the language to adequately describe a range of gender.  Our language and our society is built around a binary gender system.

Ok, so the colored toes.  Yes, I paint my toes.  I like the look of painted toes and fingers. I like the splash of color it adds to my life.  It makes me smile to look at them and it is exciting to see the wide range of colors you can use and the ease with which you can change them.  I find it odd that because I was born with male parts I am not supposed to enjoy this little pleasure.  I see a double standard, women can dress in men’s clothes but men can’t enjoy the wide variety of textures, colors and styles of women’s clothes.  I guess men can, but there is a real risk of not only ridicule but even physical violence.  I find that women have so many more choices and in general their clothes are so much more pretty.  To add to that, they get to add color to their faces along with their finger nails and toe nails if they choose to .  So my painted toes are my first step in adding a little of that color to my life.

Gender is a very personal thing I think and I don’t really believe the man or woman model really covers the wide range of people out there.  This model makes a neat and easy way to label people we meet based on their appearance, actions and even pitch of their voice.  I am getting a little tired of trying to fit into this nice neat little box that I have felt pressured to fit into my whole life.  This box called male has been constructed and communicated to me by church, media and the people around me my whole life.  There is a certain way a male is supposed to be and we get this message every day.  Right now I am questioning why this message is out there and what happens when a person doesn’t fit into this system?  Why does it seem it is more acceptable for a person born female to present as a male than a person born male to present as a female?  Why do we have to have these labels anyway?  Is gender necessary?  The way I see it, sex is our physical make up and gender is more of an internal thing.  Just so you don’t get confused, gender and sex are separate from sexuality.  A male presenting as a female is not necessarily a homosexual, the same as a male presenting as a stereotypical macho guy is not necessarily heterosexual.  In fact, this is another area where I think our limited language makes it confusing.  If my gender is neither male nor female, and my preference is to have intimate relationships with females, does that make me homosexual or heterosexual?  My take on it is that I am a unique human who would rather you get to know me than try to place labels on me.  It takes more than one or two labels to capture my uniqueness.

My New Blog

It’s May long weekend in Vancouver, what a great time of the year!  The weather is very nice, but I am inside taking a blogging class at the library.  No need to feel sorry for me though, this is something I have been wanting to try.  I have been on a journey lately to find my authentic self and journaling has been a part of that journey.  Now maybe it is time to take that journal, or at least a part of it, online.

 

I am not sure what direction My New blog will take, but it will be exciting, at least for me, to find out.  If anyone else sees it, that could be even more exciting.  Hopefully it will serve to entertain, educate, inspire or any combination of the above for at least a few people.

 

Ok, my blog class is almost over so I will keep this first post short.  Why did I name my blog Colored Toes?  Check out the next post to find out.  It does have to do with my personal journey over the last several months and the warm weather we are having in this beautiful Spring.

 

Happy long weekend everyone!