I realized the other day that there are some online resources that I have used over the past few years that have really helped me acclimate to living in the male role in society that others might also find helpful. So I decided I should share them here. There’s a lot of mystery out in the FTM world about men’s fashion, especially when it comes to suits and dress shirts as well as basic male grooming, like shaving and skin care. Basically, anything you need an answer to about living as a male in modern society has been covered by these sites. They are not transgender sites. They are geared towards cis-gender males, but nothing about them is exclusive to that sect of society in my opinion and I think the owners of the sites probably would welcome visitors of all flavors regardless of natal birth history.
So, here is my list of resources that I subscribe to on the daily and enjoy learning from:
- Art of Manliness.
There really isn’t anything on this site that Brett McKay hasn’t covered when it comes to being manly. The articles are interesting and fun to read, educational not just for men but for anyone interested in history and life in general. His podcasts are always at the top of my playlist and always well done. Everything about this site is top notch. He does advertise for some products to fund the site, but it’s minimal and totally optional as to whether you make any purchases. He also sells some of his own branded products like t shirts and coffee mugs, but again, that is totally optional to purchase. For a free site, this is my go-to for great information about old school manliness without all of the bravado and machismo. Just good, old fashioned common sense and decency here. Brett’s goal with Art of Manliness was to create a site that offered men information that would generally be passed down from father to son or from grandfather to grandson, but was missing from most young men’s upbringings in modern day. I think he does a fantastic job of that and I find the information helpful, fun and interesting.
Check it out here: www.artofmanliness.com
2. Gentleman’s Gazette:
If men’s clothing styles and sizing stumps you and you wonder where to find out more about how to be a well dress gentleman, than the Gentleman’s Gazette is a great place to start. Raphael Schneider, the founder, is a dapper fellow from Germany who is all about how to look your best as a gentleman. He will not guide you wrong, though I must say I find some of his opinions and style ideas not to my liking. But, if you want to learn how to wear a tuxedo or spot a well made suit in a vintage store, or what kinds of shoes to wear for what occasion, he has the answers. He does a lot of nice, fairly short (about 15 minute), videos where he models different clothing and answers a lot of questions about styles to choose from. He talks about everything from ties and how to tie them, shoes, socks, hats, sunglasses, jewelry, watches, sweaters, shirts, underwear, etc.
Check it out here at: www.gentlemansgazette.com
3. The Modest Man:
If you’re a shorter guy, and especially a thinner shorter guy, The Modest Man is a great resource for you. Brock, the founder, is a low-key young man who became frustrated with trying to find clothes that fit men under 5’8″ and started The Modest Man to help other shorter guys find clothes that fit their smaller frames. He has a nice video blog where he discusses where to find shoes that fit, watches that don’t look ridiculous on a smaller wrist, shirts that are not too long, etc. His site is clean and easy to navigate and he has some nice free downloads that are very helpful for smaller guys. He covers everything from skincare to tailoring, so definitely check this site out if you’re, like many FTM guys, a little vertically challenged. I’m 5’2″, wear a women’s size 8 shoe and have very small bone structure, so Brock has helped me quite a bit in finding clothes and jewelry that doesn’t make me look like I’m wearing my big brother’s hand-me-downs. Unfortunately, I’m not thin by anyone’s standards so a lot of the clothes he recommends don’t fit me, but regardless, he’s given me a lot of pointers that were extremely useful.
Check Brock out at: www.themodestman.com
If you get a good vibe from any of these sites I highly recommend subscribing to their newsletters and receiving updates from them. It took me a while to get in the habit of doing that and I was always trying to remember where I had read some great tidbit of information. Once I subscribed, they all stuck in my memory banks much better and I never missed an interesting article or video either. I’ve been following all three of these sites for over a year now and I can tell you that all three of these men are professional and sincere in their desire to help others, while making a living off of their sites. They all push products that they like in a gentle, low impact way, but none of them bully or badmouth anyone or anything. If you’re looking for top notch, quality information without a lot of hype and bravado, then any of these sites will fit the bill. I recommend them all, but if I had to pick just one, it would be Art of Manliness for over-all information on being a man. Brett does talk about clothes some and has great information, but it isn’t his main focus. If you want fashion information only, then either of the other two are great sources.
Why didn’t I mention any FTM sites on here? The truth is, I haven’t found them to be that useful for me personally. They are usually geared towards much younger guys than me (I’m 55 now) and tend to be very trendy. I prefer classic styling and old fashioned information. There are some really good sites run by FTM guys, geared towards FTM guys, but honestly, I don’t follow them because they don’t have a lot to offer me. I didn’t grow up with a father and never had any kind of male influence in my life that could teach me things that I’ve always wanted to know. My brother taught me how to tie a tie a long time ago thankfully, or I wouldn’t know how to do that, but otherwise, he’s really not been much good for male role modeling. I really wanted to know the kinds of things my father would have taught me about being a boy/man in society and I think between these three sites, I get that and I’d like you to have access to them as well.
So, to quote Brett McKay from Art of Manliness, until next time, “Stay manly” and enjoy being a guy.
On the Nature of Boundaries – Tom Kenyon
DECEMBER 5, 2017 AT 6:43 AM
Lakshmi ♥ Star Seed – Lightarian (TM) Rays Master-Practitioner – Reiki Kundalini Master-teacher – Spiritual Channeller – Lightworker » Feed / Pauline Lakshmi
Art: Georges Armand @ Tutt’Art
On the Nature of Boundaries
by Tom Kenyon
Awhile back, at one of my workshops, a woman approached me quite upset.
She had been having lunch with other participants in the seminar and the topic of trust had come up. She admitted to the group that she had trouble trusting others. Her new-found friends began to immediately offer ways to help her.
One suggested affirmations like “I fully and completely trust the universe.” Another offered a visualization exercise to see herself as a flower of light fully open to the world. A third offered her a private healing session at half price. Everyone at the table seemed to agree…
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I’ve found myself saying on many an occasion that I sucked at being a woman and that I hated it. This is true in some ways, but it’s not the whole story. In a lot of ways I was an incredible woman. I was strong, proud, brave, smart and talented, funny, creative. I didn’t let anything or anybody deter me from going after what I wanted. I had my goals and, by God, I was going after them. It’s true that I didn’t “do” femininity very well. Oh well, so what?
I was an Amazon with my own set of rules and I lived amongst other Amazon women who played by their own rules too. None of us “did femininity” the way modern women today perform it. We were boys in women’s bodies. We could care less about make-up or hairstyles, nail polish or Louis Vuitton bags. A purse? Um, no. How about a fanny pack? Maybe just stick my wallet in my pants pocket and call it a day.
Yeah, we were women, but a different breed of woman. We wore work boots and flannel shirts, played softball and went camping in the summer. We built camp fires and listened to the Indigo Girls and Cris Williamson. We read Rita Mae Brown books and went to womyn’s music festivals. We worshipped the Goddess Artemis and wore jewelry with labyris on them. We were Amazons. Don’t fuck
with us brother or you might lose that appendage you’re so proud of.
Yeah, we were women. Proud women. Women who loved other women. We had commitment ceremonies. We got up early on Sunday morning to watch Martina play tennis. We had potlucks and went to concerts in church basements on Saturday night before heading off to the local women’s bar where we slow danced with our girls to music on the juke box. We watched to see if the cops were going to raid the bar and knew where the back exit was so we could make a quick escape.
We were women alright. We were Amazons. We didn’t need men. Men were pathetic losers you couldn’t trust or rely on. We went to women’s bookstores for book signings
and readings. We attended workshops and book club meetings to discuss the latest feminist theories. We could do anything men could do, only better. We put rainbow stickers on our bumpers and nodded at each other in recognition at the hardware store. When the boys asked us if we needed help we always told them, no thanks, because there was no way in hell we would let them help us. We held the door for other women and some of the guys. We smoked cigars, just because we could. We lit our femme’s cigarettes, even if we didn’t smoke.
Yeah, we were women. Amazon women. You couldn’t buy us on the internet. There was no internet. We were dykes. We read Lesbian Connection and On Our Backs to find other Amazons. We hiked, canoed, cross country skied,
cycled for AIDS fundraisers, helped sew the blanket together, we cried for our lost brothers, we fought for our rights and equality. We knew what it was like to live in the closet and speak in whispers about what we did over the weekend. We sought out womyn-only events. We attended Pride Festivals and were thrilled by Dykes on Bikes.
We weren’t PC.
We didn’t live by anyone else’s rules.
We were modern day Amazons.
Yeah, we were womyn.
A different breed of woman.
Balance is vital in everything in the universe. Without it, there is chaos. Relationships of all kinds must balance out. Imagine an employee who works their shifts but doesn’t get paid. Or a relationship where only one of the people ever gets to have their way. Neither of these relationships is going to last very long with an imbalance like that. Sometimes the imbalance is not so obvious or drastic. Maybe it’s just a little tweak that is needed, like when one of the people gets really hurt if the other doesn’t invite them out with their friends every time. That can be balanced out easy enough, I think. Compromise on both parts and a discussion about boundaries probably would take care of that imbalance. Nature balances everything out in the end. Masculine/feminine, work/reward, yin/yang. Eventually, even in same sex couples who are both very feminine or masculine, the yin and yang, feminine/masculine balances in order for it to work. It may be very subtle, but it’s there. If it doesn’t balance, the relationship is chaotic and usually fizzles out.
The same is true in the world. The people in power who make the rules need to be in balance with the people that they rule over for there to be peace and harmony. Right now, the world is not in balance. The people in power in the US, probably the most powerful country on the planet, are not in balance with the majority of the people in the country. Yes, you heard that right. But how did they get elected if the majority didn’t vote for them? Well, first of all, most people do not vote. That’s problem #1. And then, there is the electoral college and gerrymandering and third party candidates and all that crazy shit that really kicked our asses this time around and left us with the orange creep and his goonies as our leaders. But, here’s where it gets fun and exciting. When you throw balance into the equation it is super obvious that they can not maintain their power when the majority of the population do not agree with them ethically or morally. This imbalance can not be maintained for long. This is great news, right? You bet it is!
But, while I do 100% believe that the imbalance will correct itself eventually, there are things we can do in the meantime to hasten it along quicker. We’re already seeing a little of this with the local elections that were held here last week and the awesome victories that came about. That’s a great start and what is needed to keep this momentum going is more of it. We need to remember that WE are the ones in power and that WE have the majority. Not them. They did not win the majority of votes and when you factor in that a lot of people don’t vote and many of those do not agree with them either, we have a huge (HUGE!!!!) advantage over the current leadership.
They’re going about their lives right now acting like they are powerful and that the world should bow to them because, you know, they got elected and stuff. But the world knows what a bunch of idiots they are and don’t take them seriously. This is exactly what we should be doing too. Ignore them. Don’t follow their pointless Twitter feed. It’s only there to rile you up and piss you off anyway. What we all need to be doing is put our head up high and work diligently towards what it is that we DO want. Who do you want to put in power? What qualities do you want them to embody? What values do they need to have? Focus only on what you want and need. Stop fighting with the Independents and Republicans. Honestly, I think we will all need to work together and put aside our differences to get this all straightened out and back on course as a country and as a world population. Remember that you are part of the majority and be vocal about your views, but in a positive way. No fighting or debating. Just simply state what it is you’re working to see change in your world. When you get down to the nuts and bolts of politics, we all pretty much want the same things: Peace, clean drinking water, good paying jobs, affordable housing, reliable healthcare, safety, healthy food, good schools, a clean planet.
We all need to be working in some way, even if it’s just through meditation or doing small kindnesses to others, to keep moving the balance back in the right direction. You don’t have to do much. Truly, just live with love and kindness in your heart and keep things positive. Love always wins. Ghandi was right on the button when he said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” We don’t need to fight with our fists or our words. Fight with your acts of kindness and get out there and vote for the people who are in alignment with your values. Work on a campaign if you can and want to. Do what you can. But most importantly, don’t be scared and don’t give up. We have the real power and we will restore balance to this world. In fact, my guess is that it will be better than ever in the end as long as we all work together and don’t lose sight of our own moral compass.
I saw this on the back of a Chevy Suburban this morning while driving to work. What caught my eye is the brown object in the hand of the male figure. Is that a gun? Or is it a really big clarinet? Surely it’s a clarinet and not a gun. But, alas, I’m pretty sure it’s a gun. No other stickers adorned this obese SUV. I expected to see a TRUMP sticker or an NRA sticker, but no. I mean, really, what more needs to be said? Right? Dad carries a gun with him when he takes the family out. That should keep the family safe at night. Having their car parked in front of their house broadcasting that dad is packing heat probably makes them all sleep better. This, folks, is what life in the USA has come to. Guns and footballs equal a happy family that people proudly display on their fat gas guzzling, totally unnecessary SUV.
I’ve talked about my disdain for these stick figure families in the past, here. They make me wish my car was equipped with a fully loaded rocket launcher. But, alas, it is not and I am a pacifist. Mostly. But I really do hate those sticker families. They reek of cis-hetero privilege and this one, in particular, really makes me feel sick to my stomach. Especially after what just happened in Vegas last week and will continue to happen until…well, until… until…hell, I don’t know what the answer is. I’ve shot a shotgun a few times to hit clay targets and it was fun, but that’s the extent of my gun experience. I grew up with a rifle that lived in our coat closet. It had belonged to my father, who died when I was a baby, and hadn’t been fired since I’d been alive at least. No one was ever sure if it was loaded or not and we didn’t own any ammo for it if it wasn’t, so it was pretty useless to us. One night when I was in high school, I woke up and went to the bathroom to pee. When I came out of the bathroom into the narrow hallway I could see my brother standing between his doorway and mine with the gun pointed in my direction. I froze. Not sure why he was standing there with the gun and even less sure if he was going to try to fire it at me, I quietly said his name. He immediately lowered the gun and acted mad that I had scared him. I HAD SCARED HIM???? All I had done was take a midnight pee. He had pointed an old, maybe loaded/maybe unloaded rifle at me in the dark. I think I win the “who’s the most scared” contest.
Ever since that night I vowed to never have a gun in my home. We do own a BB gun, but I don’t really count that. I keep a baseball bat by my bed at night. I doubt it would do me much good if I needed protection, but I also doubt that a gun would protect me much either. By the time I got to it, loaded it and figured out whether I needed it or not it would be too late. Still, with today’s social climate, I do find myself wondering periodically if I really should take a handgun class and purchase something for home protection. I’m astounded by the number of people that confess to me that they own a gun and wouldn’t live without one. Many drive around with them in their cars without permits to do so. That’s their choice to make. For now, I’m choosing to not own a gun.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the state of our country politically and socially. The US is a mess right now. I firmly believe that the majority of people are still good people and don’t agree with what’s going on in our government. The majority of Americans did NOT vote for this administration. I hang onto that thought with all my might. But, the other fact that I can’t ignore is that a very large number of people voted for a man that they KNEW to be morally bankrupt and without conscience in order to preserve or regain something that they think they have lost: The American Way. So, to regain The American Way that we grew up with in the 50s, we’re willing to put a man who is in bed with fascists, Russians and Right Wing Christians in office. Brilliant idea!!! All I can do is wait this circus out and hope that I wake up one day to find it’s just been a bad dream.
Until then, I do have a plan. Me and a lot of other people have the same plan. I’m not one to attend rallies or starve myself for a cause. I like eating too much for that and I can’t stand to be huddled in crowds with other angry people. What I can do, though, is be the best person I can be and spread hope, love and joy to as many folks as possible. Yes, even the ones who unwisely pulled the lever for the clown in the white house. I’m planning to do some volunteer work to help senior citizens and adopting a habit of doing one nice thing every day for a stranger. See, I truly do believe that Love Trumps Hate. While I think this was a terrible bumper sticker for Hillary’s campaign because it’s confusing and just further pushed his name at her expense, I do agree with the sentiment. The more hateful they get, the nicer I will become. This, after all, is what we see happen whenever tragedy strikes a community. People help each other out. They save each other and become heroes. They don’t ask if you’re straight or gay first. They don’t make sure you’re a Christian before lending you a helping hand. No, they just help where it’s needed and all of that other crap just goes out of everyone’s minds. This is humanity at its finest. Sad that it takes a horrible tragedy that could have been avoided to see it, but there it is every single time something bad happens. Every. Time. Love Trumps Hate. Love will always win. Good always prevails over Evil. Every. Time.
Remember that and smile. Life is still good and this too shall pass.
I love her explanations. They really resonate with me.
I’ve believed this for quite some time and great to have it explained so eloquently here:
Yesterday’s name changes were inspired by a couple of factors.
First, I was looking at the search topics that people used to find my blog and one in particular caught my attention. I won’t mention what it was exactly, but you’ll get the idea. So out of curiosity, I entered that search term into Google. I was pretty disturbed at the images that popped up on my screen (at work!). Let’s just say, there was a lot of skin on my screen. And amidst all these pictures of naked people doing things I don’t want to see were the two pictures I posted recently from my wedding. Oh hell NO, I thought! This has got to go. Since it was my username that was used in the search that got my pictures lumped in with porn I decided that the name had to change. It hadn’t felt right for a long time anyway, so I was happy about that.
The other reason for the changes is that, basically, I’m done with my transition (at least for now) and I’m running out of things to talk about it. I’m also getting bored with the topic in general. I’ve been obsessed with gender for the past 5-6 years now and I’m ready to move on to something new. There isn’t much that I read these days that really speaks to me anymore or that I haven’t heard before. I do still really enjoy supporting others who are coming through their own process so I have no intention of just dropping off the face of the transgender blogging world. I just want to go in a new direction. Problem is, I’m not sure what direction that is yet. I have some irons in the fire that I’m working on professionally as well as personally, but I’m not sure if I want to blog about them here.
Another, less important, reason for the changes is that I’m feeling like I want to pull away from leading with being transgender. In other words, I’m at a point where I don’t want the first and primary thing someone finds out about me to be that I’m transgender. It will always be a part of my identity, but I’m just really exhausted from having that be front and center all of the time. It’s really refreshing to meet someone new and I’m just Shawn now, not Shawn who used to be Dawn who is trans but used to be a lesbian. Ugg, right? Just Shawn. A middle aged guy. Married now, no kids. Business owner. Just Shawn.
That might sound boring, but honestly, it’s liberating. I’m not talking about living “stealth” where I hide my past from people. In the small community I live in that is practically impossible anyway. I won’t hide my past. I’m proud of it. But this transgender dance is tricky sometimes. Deciding who to tell, when to tell, why to tell is always in the back of my mind. I’m not one to draw attention to myself, so going around telling everyone or flaunting being trans is not something I’m interested in. I have other fish to fry. There are many people other than myself who are much better prepared to advocate in public for our cause. Of course, I will speak up if needed, but it’s not my focus.
Which brings me to what am I focusing on right now? Short term, work is getting busy again, so I’ll be focusing a lot of attention on that for the next couple of months. Additionally, I started a program to become a professional intuitive counselor. I’ve been learning a lot about astrology along the way as well. In the end, I hope to be a Life Coach. I’ve been working with a coach for the past 6-7 years and he has been instrumental in helping me in my transition journey. I’ve also worked with a therapist over the years (actually, several) and have not found them to be as helpful as my coach. Coaches are results oriented and help you come up with action plans that help you move forward in life. I have nothing against therapy. I just find the coaching more helpful for me personally. At this point, I see Life Coaching as a side job. I’m not closing up my business to become a coach, at least not yet. I’m a person who needs a lot of variety and challenge or I get bored and stagnate. I think my dream job is actually several part time jobs. Also, I have at least one book I want to write and some travel adventures I’m looking forward to, so I think there will be some things of interest to talk about as all of this unfolds.
So the answer to the question “what’s next?” will evolve over time. I don’t have a concrete answer at the moment. I’ll continue to write when I have something to say. I enjoy writing the inspirational pieces and I would expect to see more of those in the future. As I’ve said in the past, transitioning is never over and we’re always transitioning from one thing to another anyway, so this blog is no different. It will change and evolve and if any of you have questions or ideas to share with me, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Probably the thing I enjoy the most about blogging is the interchanges with other humans going through, or contemplating going through, similar situations as myself. So don’t be shy and I look forward to continuing this conversation soon.
Ok, so it was harder than I thought to change my username. Everything I could think of was already taken and WordPress has gone to only allowing lowercase letters and number in new usernames. So I finally settled on shawn512. I started this blog in May of 2012, five years ago, hence the 512 after my name.
The blog’s name is now Mid-Life Musings. I’m not 100 sold on the name but it is an improvement until something better comes along. If I decide to change it again, I’ll definitely let you all know.
Thanks again for indulging my metamorphosis and for reading.