Winter Solstice 2017

The first time I missed winter solstice in 7 years was December 21st 2016. Here I am sitting cross legged on a crushed Domino’s pizza box on a cement-floored, covered porch pressed in the corner against two cold brick walls of a house. Becca, my platonic partner, is standing feet from me taking puffs from her cigarette and occasionally turning to blow them outside of the covered porch area we are in. She’s waiting for me to be present again, to talk to her. I’m absorbed in my phone frantically typing into the search bar of my web browser, “winter solstice 2016 time and date.” I press enter and the page promptly loads displaying a page that clearly says at the top of it, “Winter Solstice is on Wednesday, December 21, 2016 At 5:44 am EST.” It is currently Wednesday, December 21st at 12:18 pm EST.

I should be sleeping right now after staying up all night. I should have covered my windows with blinds, curtains and sheets to keep out the sun. The sun that came up because I stayed up all night with only candles to light my surrounding. My hands should be finally warm after a long brisk journey adventuring outside to see the sun rise from the top of a tree covered hill in the cemetery near my house.

But here I am sitting on a pizza box cursing, “fuck, fuck, fuck!” I didn’t stay up all night. I didn’t wish my friends “happy winter solstice.” I didn’t even know the date or time of Winter Solstice. Why, why, why, why, why!?

Because I am a mom now. Because I suddenly and abruptly have 3 small children. Because I have a house that needs cleaned, clothes that needs washed, dishes that need done, food that needs cooked, mouths that need fed, voices that need to be listened to. I may sometimes call myself their theraputic support staff, other times Becca’s platonic femme dyke partner, but what I really am is a mom.

I am a mom to 3 kids, I am a partner to Becca. They drove across this country and the country north of here to be in this city, my city, her city, our city, a place where she hopes to finally feel safe, a place where they are all finally free of his abuse. A first stopping spot where she will raise her kids in a safe environment where they can be who they are and not be mentally or physically abused any more.

And here they are starting to feel safe, starting to explore themselves more, starting to tell us that some of them are girls. Starting to get enough attention and not having to worry about words and fists being thrown. Instead we all are growing into the magical beings we are. And I am here as an essential part of this, part of them all processing what has happened to them. Giving them all the attention and support they need to overcome and finally cure generations of abuse that has happened to these 3 native kids and their amazing mother who has been through more than I can grasp.

Two of the three kids I care for

Two of the three kids I care for

So here I am on winter solstice thinking about how this is a time for reflecting, for staring into the darkness and seeing the sun rise out after 14 hours of darkness. I didn’t reflect on winter solstice, I didn’t even realize it was winter solstice. But here I am watching a family emerge from the darkness, watching myself emerge from the darkness. I may have watched the sun fall or rise, but over the past 3 months and more I have been watching 5 magical beings including myself emerge from darkness. We all been emerging whether it be from an abusive home, a male identity that isn’t ours, a controlling an abusive relationship, a shitty job, shitty friendships, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks and self harm.

We are all emerging from darkness to become powerful beings. And as I stand back and take time to reflect I can feel my chest filling up with strength, puffing out and taking up space in a way I never have before. I can feel my power bubbling up. I can feel my emotions and see others feelings with a new clarity, I can even grasp emotions that I don’t yet have words for. As I lift my arm I feel energy shoot out of it across sidewalk moving the leaves on the ground and shaking the trees. Energy flows from my head to my feet and into the earth as I ground myself on command. I am not just a person anymore, I am a being filled with magic, compassion, anger and love. And on this winter solstice I can’t say I saw the sunrise, or that I stayed up all night by candlelight, I can’t even say I knew when the solstice was. But I can say I am growing, I am reflecting. I am becoming Jenny, I’m not a flighty spaced out tranny who is insecure and unsure of herself. I am a magical being who has powers that few can grasp, call me awakened, call me an indigo child, or call me crazy. But I am Jenny and I move worlds, hear me roar.

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Winter Solstice Card 2015

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Dear Friends/Family,

This past year has been an amazing and challenging year. I started hormones on January 9th and legally changed my name on May 6th. I’ve been meditating for over a year and 6 months of it has been at a Shambhala Buddhist meditation center where I have learned a great deal. I started working again as an organizer, field director and currently doing data entry and just about everything else at SEIU.

During this past year I’ve also struggled with depression and anxiety. A week after my name change occurred I realized I was molested as a child. But from these experiences I opened up and finally asked for help. I have had tons of support from all I have told and found a strong bond with friends new and old. I have accepted and learned so much about myself and am appreciative of everyday I have. My life is so much more wonderful than a year ago, than a month ago. I’ve grown a huge amount in that time and looking back is a truly humbling experience. Thank you for being in my life and if I don’t regularly I hope to see you in the next year.

Love,
Jenny

This is the solstice card I sent out to family and friends and that I extend to y’all. This year has been an amazing year. One that has been terrific, horrible, freeing, paralyzing but despite all of the things that have happened this is the happiest I’ve ever been. Looking back on every other time of good feelings I can see that they are filled with feelings of despair, depression, and suicidal thoughts. These haven’t gone away but I’ve accepted them and started to address them. Knowing it has gotten so much better is relieving, because day to day I often only recognize problems that arrive.

Currently I’ve been struggling with how to relate to friends and what I want from them. But I am struggling with this because I am not just being what other people want from me I am figuring out what I want from other people and figuring out how I want to interact with them. Essentially I’m struggling a lot because a lot of what that I’ve “figured out” is wrong. I figured out how to serve and please other people now I’m figuring out what pleases me. I’m taking missteps every step I take but I’m learning so much from them.

I’m trying to be me. I’m focusing on me and it’s not always in a good way. I’m more selfish, impulsive, self-centered but like how a pendulum swings back and forth before reaching it’s center point. At least I imagine that is what I’m doing. It’s hard to explain it’s hard to understand I’m not sure exactly what I’m doing but this is how I conceptualize my current missteps. I am over being hard on myself, I’m over hyper-analyzing myself. Instead I’m letting myself do whatever I want and I dealing with the response in the moment, I’m relearning why I act the way I do. Is it for others? is it for me? Am I doing this to please people? or to please myself?

I don’t feel completely like myself but I feel like I’m becoming free. I feel my sense of obligation diminishing and my sense of commitment to being who I see myself as fading. I’m Jenny and that person knows who she is. I needn’t incessantly analyze myself I just need to do what feels right, and that what I’m doing. And all the while I’m trying to work on communications so I express why I’m doing what I am and how I feel. I’m just trying really hard to be me and it is a confusing disorienting journey. I will slight you on the way but don’t hold it against me, I’m pretty sure you won’t.

Who am I? I’m Jenny. What does that mean? Fuck if I know.

Informed Consent Hormones Pennsylvania: Second Puberty

Hey all! I’m writing this post for two reasons to list the resources I know about for Informed Consent Hormones in Pennsylvania and to tell y’all about my experiences thus far. If you don’t need those resources skip below, if you do enjoy.

So far I know of a few places that have informed consent hormones and a list more that may or may not be specifically informed consent in Pittsburgh in Garden of Peace’s website.
The ones that are informed consent in Pittsburgh are:
Metro Family Practice (which in my experience take most if not all insurances despite facts otherwise. I go here and have felt utmost respect as has my non-binary roommate Jamie who is going there too [they are super cool about the non-binary stuff])
Stacy Lane at West End Health Center(I heard from one person that a questioner they filled out had questions that felt like Dr. Lane may be gender policing a bit, asking whether my friend wore dresses or not.)
East End Community Health Center, which I have heard nothing bad about from the person that I know who goes there.

In Philadelphia I only know of the Mazzoni Center. They are an excellent resource which includes great resources online about name change etc here and I have heard great things about them.

In Harrisburg and Lancaster there are the Alder Health Services which provide informed consent hormones.

I feel that it is very important to better share information in the trans community, especially when this information is essential to new comers. I will be attempting to share information I am finding and cataloguing all the details of my name change for people who are excited about that lengthy exciting process in the coming months. This is also meant to motivate people to not give up hope because I almost drove to Philly before realizing there are 3 informed consent clinics in the city I lived in.

Now to the exciting stuff, changes I’ve felt on my two weeks on estrogen!!! Well first off I’d like to say how validating and exciting this has been for me. I felt torn about taking hormones for a while and was scared of possible side effects. I weighted positives v. negatives and found that there were hardly any negatives and a lot of positives and was compelled to take them and right my body.

The first thing I felt was headaches the first few days. I also got really somber and felt very lonely one day. I ended up going on a long walk and going to a friends house. This feeling passed quickly, though it ended up feeling validating, especially when my roommates just told me I was having my period for the first time (ha).

I have been taking NatureDay supplements for 10 months now and will continue to. They have caused a small amount of breast growth – significantly more after I started using the soap and moisturizer. The introduction of estrogen on top of that has caused noticeable breast growth, even by friends who can feel it in hugs and visibly see a small change in only two weeks!

But the most noticeable thing for me is an increased energy level. Before I struggled to feel a desire to do much of anything now I feel happier and more productive. I don’t know if this is estrogen specifically or simply my body/mind response to it. Either way it feels nice to be even further from the weight of depression.

I also recently talked to a translady who had been on hormones for just shy of a year and she showed me her results at a dance party we were at. Woah. Her breasts, and hips were much much larger. And her face feminized more than I expected not to mention her super soft skin. A week ago I got nervous not being able to pass but after seeing her changes I’m sure I’ll look a lot more effeminate and voice training will certainly help the disconnect I feel with my body. I’m really excited for the year for so many reasons. Haven’t felt that a while so I’m pumped for 2015!

The Holidays

This holidays, since I’m still not working, I travelled all over and had a great time seeing everyone. Firstly I went to Philly, then State College and finally a solo backpacking trip on the Laurel Highland Hiking Trail. I’ll briefly tell y’all about all my trips and show some pictures.

Philly was nice, I saw all the friends I had hoped to and updated them all about my news of going on hormones and that (starting this Friday!). I also got to tell my Aunt and Uncle I was transitioning who were quite supportive. I even got to see a good friend from my first year of college and spent the solstice sunrise with her.

Sunset in Fishtown, Philadelphia

Sunset in Fishtown, Philadelphia

I spent the solstice in Philadelphia and spent most of my time in a brick cabin of sorts called “the compound” owned by Half Dread. It has a rain water collection system, electricity and a wood fire to heat it. The day of the solstice I spent time at Philly Aids Thrift and lots of time meditating in the sun. That evening I was with Guac for a while and even got to see Juju briefly. Anxiety overtook me that night and when I saw the sunset I felt myself working through and flushing out old problems. It was a cathartic experience and has made me exciting for 2015 a year of powerful enlightenment, awakening and openness.

Sunrise in Philly - exhausted and relieved

Sunrise in Philly – exhausted and relieved

Next was State College. I saw mostly my immediate family, it was especially nice to have my brother there. He missed x-mas last year, which while it’s not an important holiday for most of us it felt like the conscious choice of work over family. My family worked on calling me my new taken name and worked a little on using female pronouns too. This felt validating as though I was transforming into a woman in their eyes, and in my own.

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My final trip was to hike along the Laurel Highland Hiking Trail (LHHT). It’s the same trail that I hiked over Thanksgiving and I was happy to hike it again. This was the most intense of all the experiences. Including two opposite by equally astounding experiences.

The first being hiking two days to come upon a winter paradise. Suddenly there are houses covered in snow, even their roofs (there was no snow to be seen where I was hiking). People are skiing from house to house and then I see a ski lift. I’m at Seven Springs Ski Resort. I laugh and take a silly selfie and continue hiking. Whereupon I realize this is only the beginning, the LHHT cuts directly across multiple ski slopes. From serene woods to dodging skiers and snowboarders. I hike across the slopes taking a couple of pictures as I laugh at the insanity of what I am doing. Finally after 20 minutes in this winter paradise I quietly return to the woods.

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Now my third and final day. I decided that morning to cut my trip short early because there is freezing rain, I forgot my rain pants and I’m running low on food. I spent the day wandering adjacent trails in Forbes State Forest. The weather is beautiful with everything coated in a thin layer of ice. After hiking for several miles I realize I want to bike back to my car (I dropped of a bike two days hike out so I could ride back to my car). I also realize that I am lost and can’t comprehend where I am on the map. Luckily I see my footprints in the ice and simply retrace them. Three miles later I make it back to my bike and realize I have 20 miles left to bike.

At this point I am tired and woozy and have been for the last two miles of hiking. I eat two chocolate bars and start biking. First I bike down Laurel Hill, peak elevation 2,994ft, on Route 31. Next I bike up and down a series of hills on some back roads before turning onto Route 653. At this point I am exhausted and my pants are drenched, I can even feel the water sloshing around in my boots. I reach pinnacle after pinnacle as I climb the mountain where I parked my car. Having just read Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron (I’ll talk more about this soon) I try to stay focused on the present and not let my mind wander.

This experience is wet, exhausted and laden with mild muscle pain. Not as bad as I imagined. The whole experience was actually beautiful, being present in the now even if it is miserable it calming and fun. After miles up hill I start seeing fog and familiar signs. I make it to the summit in a state of serene peace. I was very present and remained so the following day.

A wonderful end to my trips and a great memory to have as I embark on my job search and continued quest for my true self.

Winter Solstice 2014

Happy winter solstice friends, family and readers,

I hope everyone had as heartwarming of a year as I did. My friends and my family has gone above and beyond and helped me more than I ever expected. I feel truly humbled and extremely happy to write this. The last two years can best be summed up by two tarot cards I drew last new years. One was for 2013 one was for 2014. My card for 2013 was the 8 of arrows, struggle. My card for 2014 was the 9 of arrows, dedication.

Tarot Reading 2013

Over the last year I went from slowly dying and saving money to buy a house in Pittsburgh to quitting my job and working on being happy now. I vowed to spend my savings on things that made me happy and in becoming who I truly am – a woman. In August I went on a bike trip to remind myself of who I was and to start telling other about who I am.

Along my trip I had great responses and lots of support. I don’t know where I’d be without all my friends and family. The people near and dear to me stood by me and offered more support than ever. They picked me up when I fell and urged me to keep moving forward. Thinking of them and their unwavering love and support makes me feel free to do and be who I am no matter how scary that seems.

This past year was hard, but rewarding. I struggled but I found myself. I kicked depression and started meditating and being more mindful and present. I haven’t given up on anything but fake me. I left the bike shop world for good and am about to try to get a job working with mentally challenged adults. After that I plan on going to grad school to become a counsellor. My life is coming together and next year is setting itself up to be an even better year than this one.

Planned for next year is a solo backpacking trip to kick it off. After that I have an appointment to get hormones on the 9th of January. Second puberty here I come! I can’t wait to have my body fit my view of it. The next two years will be an exciting long awaited feminizing of myself. All the while I’ll be continuing to find my trueself and find love and happiness within myself instead of in others. As Arcade Fire says, “it’s never over” but that doesn’t mean that everyday it isn’t getting better and better.

Winter Solstice 2013

This isn’t the biggest or most important solstice, but this year was the solemn solstice. Due to a bit of poor planning and overlapping plans I had to voyage out on this solstice alone. I also cheated and went to a party. After walking all night, tired and exhausted, Majesty gave me my final burst of energy to help me pull through and make it until dawn.

After coming home from work I hurriedly found my candle stash and spread them all over the house and kitchen. I turned out the lights in the kitchen and one of the people visiting asked me when I started celebrating and why. I realized this was my sixth solstice. I started longing for a real holiday (disillusioned by Christmas), I tried festivus for two years and then I found the solstice. It stuck with me as I deep down knew I was and needed a good solid spiritual holiday.

After a candlelit shower I went to a party with my coworkers at the bike shop. I knew I was violating the rules (the house was going to have all the lights on) but I hadn’t a choice. I needed to go to the party and it wouldn’t be long before my roomies went to sleep. The party was a good time – I was the last to leave and went on my voyage home around 2 am.

After a break in my room looking at stuff on my computer and getting somewhat close to sleeping I knew I had to walk. I walked my normal dumpster route and then I made up for my cheating by walking into the cemetery and trying to find the holly bush I had found weeks before. Like many of the spiritual voyage I go on around the solstice I didn’t achieve the tangible goal and returned empty handed. I did achieve the more important goal of going on the quest and cleansing myself of my wrongs and by making it through the night without sleeping (something I’ve only done one or two times).

I made it home as dawn occurred and remembered why I enjoyed winter solstice so much. As the sun rises all of your tired and discomfort fades away and leaves you feeling refreshed and happy. My final walk home also had a steady rain to help in the act of cleansing myself of the past year and preparing me for the next year. I took 3 deep breathes, one for the painful beginning of last year, one for the awakening of last year and one for this next year.

Along this winter solstice I was ecstatic to be able to also connect with people I haven’t seen much but still love deeply. I had the pleasure of talking to Majesty the night of and just before dawn and received a call and fbook message from two roomies I had in Philadelphia and a few texts from Guaca. And finally I talked to Intern the following morning and heard about how he is also living the dream out in Colorado and is celebrating the solstice tonight.

I feel so lucky to have so many amazing people in my life doing and living such amazing live. Know is a better time than any to share with all of you my solstice card and associated text.

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Last solstice good friends and I waited for the world to end on the edge of the Hudson river. It rained and stormed as if the world was going to end, but all that happened was a slow and steady sunrise, like every year before.

The new bakatun began, but it took me many months to break free of old habits and crutches that were holding me back. Now finally free – free as ever, I am ready to embrace this solstice and new sun with open arms excited for everything this world has to offer me.

I hope you had a good year so far and if not have a great year this coming year.
❤ Yeti

Winter Solstice And NYC

The longest night of the year, December 20th. Sunset in NYC was at 4:35 pm, sunrise was at 7:16 pm, 14 hours and 41 minutes of darkness. With the winter solstice, and possible day of the end of the world (end of Mayan calendar) happening at 7:12 am.

Here’s a play by play of how we survived the last night:
4:30 – Caught up with Cider, Malibu joined us around 6
7:00 – Dinner
7:30 – More conversing
8:30 – Malibu tried to go to sleep
9:00 – Bananagrams!
10:15 – More desires to sleep
10:30 – Hot chocolate for all!
10:45 – Youtube, Memes, Gifs, and more youtube
2:15 – Attempted sleep
2:45 – Pushups Malibu/Cider/Yeti 1.) 17/15/21 2.)25/20/26 3.) 30/14/27
3:15 – Hummus and vegetable meal
3:30 – Watched “Girls” from the maker of Tiny Furniture
3:50 – Watched Kumare, an excellent movie
5:30 – Played Malibu’s game, Cosmic Wimpout
6:00 – Final struggle with sleep
6:30 – We finally left the house despite the rain, to go to the edge of the Hudson


A delicious dinner made by Cider


Malibu’s gift to Cider, beeswax candles, helped keep us up all night


Malibu was the dominator throughout the night


How we spend most of the night


10 minutes before the apocalypse, still keeping up positive spirits


I wasn’t nearly as happy just before the apocalypse


The end looked imminent

Lessons learned:
-lack of light causes extreme tiredness
-Youtube isn’t an enjoyable way to stay up, but it does work (mainly because of the lighting)
-Not going outside drives you crazy!

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After sleeping for 4 hours we woke up, bumped around the house, talked to Majesty and then we went on a bike ride to NYC. The ride totaled 24 miles.

We started in Dobbs Ferry, quickly making it to a bike path. The path was excellent and scenic, it brought us through Yonkers and finally into the Bronx. When we entered the Bronx the trail ended and was a muddy path. We had to walk at times, especially when we got closer to the city. Cider and I began to get paranoid, worried that there might be someone else out there. The last few miles were stressful but finally we got out of the path and made it to a road in the Bronx.

Our energy wained but we pushed on. It was exhausting to see that we were on block 200, needing to go all the way to 42nd. Towards the end we were hardly able to pedal, pedaling just enough so we would keep going forward. The four hours of sleep certainly didn’t help either.

We finally made it to Grand Central, tired, hungry and ready for bed.

My final day in NYC we hung out with Juju, but not before some fun:

We broke down on the side of the Saw Hill Parkway. We got towed back to a mechanic a couple blocks from the house and then Juju just decided to visit us instead. I joined her, her brother and her brothers friends for a showing of the Hobbit for Juju’s brother birthday. Afterwards Cider and Malibu joined us for food, drinks and stand up comedy. Most of the people were horrible, but it led for an interesting end to our very interesting weekend.