Keep growing. Keep going

julia.jpg

Julia is our editor, copywriter and favorite triathlete.

Making the transition to writing for social media from a more traditional writing background (I used to teach college writing) has been a challenge. I tend to “say too much,” mainly because I have a love affair with words. And I was taught that it’s better to say too much than too little. Honestly, it’s much easier to cut words than to add them after you think you’re done with a project. (That is maddening for a writer.)

We walk a fine line in social media writing—we want to grab the ever-shortening attention spans of our audience while giving them as much information as possible in short, eye-catching posts. It’s tricky. So so tricky. Sometimes it comes so easily and quickly, and sometimes it makes me want to chuck my laptop out a window.

And then there’s the competition. There is a ridiculous number of good writers for social media platforms, all vying for the same gigs. And writers, by nature, are not fond of “the hustle.” Most writers I know are pretty reserved people, preferring to sit back and observe, rather than putting themselves out there to sell their craft. It requires a tremendous amount of mental energy to write, and then we have to expend more to attract potential clients. So, we adapt.

When I’m not writing, I’m reading other folks’ writing on social media. (And books. I LOVE books.) Some of the best writing advice I’ve ever gotten was, “If you want to write well, then read. Read everything you can.” I am trying to apply this to writing for social media, and I believe it is working.

I am still learning how to navigate this way of writing, but that’s okay. When we stop learning, we stop growing. Keep growing, and keep going, friends.

 PS.: Julia took this picture on her way to Ironman 70.3. Talk about badass.

One way is not the only way

Sean-ONeill-Posting-Bee-22.jpg

Organic reach might have its days numbered, but does that mean the end of social media for businesses?

Answer is, not really.

Yes, the makers of Facebook and Instagram don’t want your business to be able to reach your target market. Therefore, you have to pay to access this privilege. But in reality, social media platforms are in the business of advertising, so it’s not surprising that it’s getting harder to grow an organic following without paying them. They are doing everything they can to hinder free and organic growth.

But because I am optimistic (and because I read and research a lot every day), I believe the end is not near, but we do have to adapt. What I tell my clients is yes, they want your money, and yes, you still get to have a strong online presence. However, think of social media as a way for you and your business to connect with people, to tell a story, to engage with real potential users of your goods and services, to have a customer service that really works, instead of exclusively trying to promote your business.

When I am working with a client, I am thinking strategically about what his/her audience wants to see, instead of how many likes the post will get. I want to know these people, instead of counting the follows. I precisely consider all demographics, psychographics, location, interests, and behavior, and then I close my eyes. I imagine them scrolling down their social media feed and I think about what will make them stop and pay attention to that specific post. And I also consider that usually, when people are on social media, they don’t want to be marketed to. They want to be entertained. Period.

Shortly, your organic potential growth on Instagram will end gradually, but, hopefully, there is hope for those who are willing to change their mindsets in regards to content creation. Consider that Instagram is still the best social media platform to build meaningful relationships with your audience and that adaptation is necessary, just like in many marketing strategies around. We at PostingBee are happy content creators, fast adapters, and our number one obsession (ish) is to build organic relationships with your audience. How? Schedule a free Discovery Call with us and let’s bring your social media plan to the next level--despite the fact that C-level Instagram executives don’t want you to.

How do you start your daily grind?

Different perspective.

Different perspective.

In the hopes of building the best morning routine I could, I did some research on the daily routines of some of the most successful people I know. They certainly inspired me to think about different parts of my own routine - perhaps they’ll be useful to you as well.


Robyn Balsley
I start my day early at 4:30am with meditation, reading a devotional, Optimize +1 (Brian Johnson), and then get into my day. I then get some work done while it is quiet and then go for a run around 7:00am.
Instagram - @gracefulimpression.com
Linkedin - https://www.linkedin.com/robynbalsley
Website - www.gracefulimpression.com

Allison Benham
I start my day with reading from some kind of positive business, health, or spirituality book, I write down what I am grateful for, and I exercise by walking, running, or doing some weight training. I try to do this 7 days a week but sometimes I only make it 5 or 6 days! I do find it really helpful though, to have some time to myself in the morning to be thoughtful and take care of myself.
Instagram - allisonbenham
Website - http://yourspaces.com/

Julia Sanderson
The way I start my day is by taking a deep, slow breath and whispering, "I am here, and I am grateful," soon followed by magical bean juice (coffee).
Instagram - @juliasanderson_writer
Linkedin - https://www.linkedin.com/in/julia-sanderson

Sean Kneale
I start my work day by catching up on what is going on in the cycling world: who won what race, what brand launched what and other general industry happenings.  I do this by checking the cycling websites, LinkedIn and other social platforms.
Linkedin - https://www.linkedin.com/in/sean-kneale
Website - www.esmbike.com

Cheri Ruskus
I start each and every day with what I call Morning Momentum which is a time and space for me to come into world at sunrise on my own terms. My practice includes first off a great cup of coffee as I enjoy meditation, journaling, beautiful music, reading, stretching/yoga, then looking at my calendar and thoughtfully planning my day.
Instagram - @VictoryGirl

Brian Rogers
My way to start my day, " is breathing and acknowledging that everything will work out and not judging myself if it doesn't . "
Linkedin - https://www.linkedin.com/in/brian-rogers
Website - http://www.flg.agency/

Dina Griffin
My way to start the day is waking up without an alarm, drinking a cup of water before delving into my much anticipated cup of coffee, and then practicing my meditation to the awakening of the day around me.
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/nutritionmechanic/
Website - http://www.nutritionmechanic.com
Linkedin - https://www.linkedin.com/in/dinagriffinrd/

Üma Kleppinger
Mornings are a ritual of self-care. I enjoy meditation listening to the birds and the water fountain in the neighbor’s yard, followed by mindset work and journaling, coffee, playtime with my kitten, and a bit of foam roller and movement work to loosen up the body—not necessarily in that order.
Linkedin - www.linkedin.com/in/umakleppinger
Instagram - @allied_indie
Website - www.alliedindependent.com

Travis Ruskus
After waking up I like to meditate, exercise, shower, and eat before looking at my inbox or working on a project.
Instagram - @travisruskus
Linkedin - Linkedin.com/in/truskus

As for me, I like to wake up at 5:30am every day and say “thank you for another day” to my heart, meditate, go for a run, then come back home and start the day.

Would you like to be featured in our next blog post? Leave a comment and we will reach out to you.
Maybe we can work together on your social media needs? Let’s schedule a free call: https://calendly.com/postingbee/consultation?month=2019-09

We're only human.

Meet Julia Sanderson

She smiles when most are crying.

She smiles when most are crying.

Julia is our copywriter and content editor and we love her Diana Price spirit. She loves giving copy that extra "pop" and racing triathlons is her side job. Here is a little bit more about this rockstar:

Introduce yourself, honey.
Julia Sanderson, Jupiter, FL, copywriter, 2 teenage boys

Define success
Success is loving who you are.

Biggest pet peeve in the industry
Misuse of apostrophes #wordnerd

How do you create engaging copy for social media?
I study my client and the client's vision and products. A LOT. Then I try to find their voice to talk to the customers they want.

Who would you like to work with for a day?
J. K. Rowling. Her imagination and the way she has been able to touch so manypeople with her writing is just astounding from someone who was once a struggling single mother.

Ready to start working with our team? Let’s get started! https://calendly.com/postingbee/consultation?month=2019-09

Rebranding can be cool

Gasmoney Studios, in Denver

Gasmoney Studios, in Denver

Why are we moving strictly to content creation? Because of our powerful research capabilities--that's where our experience and expertise is. We want to focus on our powerful skills--marketing copy, full creation of social media posts, and social media management--because we prefer a small portfolio with big results for you, our clients.

And why are we rebranding? We are creating a new niche and giving ourselves a new facelift, in order to strengthen PostingBee’s brand message and to allow it to evolve and grow. Doing everything the way it has “always been done” doesn’t promote change, and without change, growth cannot occur. One-size-fits-all just doesn’t apply in the best business practices, and it’s vital to brand our business to reach and unite with the right clientele.

Our new logo contains some deeply rooted hidden meanings. Those 6 cute honeycombs represent the essence of our brand identity:

Work Ethic

Professionalism

Respect

Determination

Reliability

Compassion              

With attention spans shortening (thanks, social media), you’ve got to devote more work to hook your readers, clients, and followers. And for that reason, we are calling ourselves Content Creators from now on, and our jam is, well, creating content for your social media channels, websites, and whatever other marketing needs you have. We want you to know that we are a group of highly engaged professionals whose passion is to make your success a reality by understanding what the superpower of your business is. We will ask questions and scour—not just read, but scour—the internet for your industry news and trends, in order to create outstanding content for your business’s needs.

 So we are no longer just a “boutique marketing agency”—we are so much more. PostingBee is about social media content creation. We are committed to providing more focus, structure, plot and character development, and different tone of voice to tell the story of your business in ways to entice your readers, clients, and followers to keep coming back for more. Let us be part of your business’s story.

Written by Adriana Giorgetti on a Saturday afternoon. Ready to work with us? Let’s chat!

Time To Rebirth

Crema Coffeehouse, in Denver.

Crema Coffeehouse, in Denver.

I created Posting Bee, LLC, in 2015 with the intention of helping, learning, and growing together with other local small businesses by working on their online presence and storytelling, and that I did. I’ve worked with clients in all sorts of industries: book writers, realtors, fitness professionals, influencers, retail shop owners, and athletes, to name a few. And I loved how these experiences distilled lessons into clear takeaways, the kind that celebrate growth and gratitude. But it’s time to change, and, like I tell my own clients, time to use your secret superpower. And PostingBee’s superpower is the ability to listen, to adapt, and to be reborn.

 I remembered what motivated me to start my own business nearly 5 years ago. There were many reasons, but one of the primary factors was that I was motivated by my own negative experiences when I worked for corporations, where the culture was dominated by people whose only motivations were their own profits and how they could continue to dominate, who had no appreciation for, or understanding of, my value as a professional and as a human being. I wanted my business to be the antithesis of that: I want the people with whom I work to know that they and their experiences are valuable to me and that they are more than just potential profit numbers.

But being a business owner also has its own set of challenges. Since founding PostingBee, I have heard the word “no” many times; I have worked with horrible professionals; I have been deceived. I have had a communications “expert” tell me that words were his currency, all while he was behaving in such terrible and unethical ways behind the scenes. Anyone in any business runs into this type of misbehavior and lack of professionalism. Those types of people in business lure potential clients with the promise of flashy advertising and marketing plans, offering exaggerated experiences, and then leave those clients less than satisfied, often from poor planning and lack of attention to detail.

Struggling through my own experiences with people like that in business gave me a lot of power and taught me some valuable lessons, and, because of that particular experience, I, as a business owner, learned a lot about my own values, limitations, and strengths. And it has motivated me to recreate PostingBee to be the cure for these negative experiences.

Adriana Giorgetti is the the founder and owner of PostingBee. To know more about her career on Linkedin.

Conquering the world, one mile at a time.

Conquering the world, one mile at a time.jpg

Jeremy Hendricks is a taco eating, beer drinking, artist, trail and ultra runner who comes from the urban sprawl of Phoenix, AZ and now makes his home at the foothills of Boulder, CO. You can follow Jeremy on social media.

I grew up like all young boys do; being influenced by sports heroes and organized team sports.  I stood tall and lean as I do today and I had a hunger for being the "next big thing" in...well anything.  

At an early age I was certain that I'd be a soccer phenom.  I could kick a laser, shake and bake, outrun pretty much anyone on the field and lets be honest; I had an amazing bowl cut that would flow through the wind like Secreteriat.  Alas, I actually kinda sucked at soccer because; well you kinda have to pass the ball to other people on occasion and that simply didn't make any sense to me.  So, after a good crack I took my posed soccer picture and hung up my cleats indefinitely.  I can still remember the feeling of the texture of the soccer ball against my feet as it glided down the field.

Next up to bat was literally and figuratively the undeniably greatest professional sport of baseball.  I wanted to be under the lights making big plays, spitting in the dirt, smashing the leather with my Louisville Slugger more than anything.  You see, baseball involves 1 thing.  A very, very fast moving hard ball hurtling itself towards you whether at bat or on the field.  I forgot about this critical component and my fear of said 5.25 ounce death nugget.  I'd much rather discover bugs in the freshly cut grass and just run the bases as fast as I possibly could.  After taking a good few shots to the arms, chest and legs; I took my oversized hat posed baseball pictures and hung up my glove indefinitely.  To this day I can still smell and feel the cotton baseball pants and their unwavering ability to trap in the AZ heat.

I was the next Shaquille O'Neal.  This was absolutely my calling.  I was destined to be a basketball god.  I had grown tall, lean, had an amazing vertical and could outrun anyone on the court, until the street lights came on.  Basketball requires very little.  A good ball, Nike's, hoop and a Gatorade.  I found myself practicing moves like Clyde Drexler, Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins and absolutely dominating the local asphalt cracked court with 8' hoop.  Yup, 8' hoop.  Needless to say when it came to formally playing basketball...I was a little dreamer in a big world.  Plus, that whole passing the ball to other people thing.  So, after a good neighborhood career I hung up my oversized shorts and Nikes.  The hot summers of the court burning my feet and the touch of the net on my fingertips are still with me.

Football.  I was nearly 6' in high school and weighed an herculean 130lbs.  Needless to say; I let the greats like Walter Perry, Jerry Rice and Joe Montana have their sport.

There was one thing that I did well in all of these sports endeavors.  I ran.  And I ran a lot, fast and well.  I didn't have to pass a ball to anyone, nor was I likely to be hit in the schnoz by one.  So, maybe there was something to this running thing.  As simple as that I decided that this was to be MY sport.  I could still look amongst the grass for bugs, move swiftly past others, sweat Gatorade, stare into the space before me, and feel the texture of the earth as it burned my feet.  I'd found my own "next big thing."  I was a runner and I was born to run after all.

I'll never forget what all of the other sports have given me; but I'm also likely to never hang up my running shoes either. 

Don't be like me. Maybe just a little.

Don't be like me. Maybe just a little..jpg

by Julia Sanderson

Full disclosure: I’ve been sucking at time management lately. But, even though it’s summer

break, it still causes massive amounts of grief when the boss isn’t sticking to a routine. (For all intents and purposes of this piece, “the boss” is also known as “Mom” or me.)

Routine and schedule are something of a religion around our house. During regular school year hours, we really need things to hum along at a steady pace. I have two human boys, two canine boys, and a husband (okay, sometimes he counts as a kid too). My older son is a teenager and also happens to have high functioning autism, so he is a worshiper of routine. It’s his security blanket, in a way. No springing last minute appointments or trips or pop quizzes on him, or we all SORELY regret it. My 11 year old is much more flexible, but, since he’s an artist at heart, I have to keep him on a schedule too, or he will procrastinate and piddle until the end of time.

Even the dogs love their routine and schedule - they know EXACTLY when it’s time to go for walks and to eat. Their internal clocks are more accurate than Swiss timepieces. You get the picture. We are all busy. That’s been done and discussed to death, right? Wake up; eat breakfast; ready for work/school; off to work/school;  work/school have schedules; home from school; blah, blah, blah..

And then Mom goes and throws endurance training into the mix. *Insert screeching brake sound here*

Wait WHAT?! Yeah, so somehow training for triathlons and road races (and sometimes ocean mile swims) helps me focus and stay the course. My teen requires a lot of mental and emotional energy from those around him, but especially me. Without boring you with details, I’m constantly “on alert” for anything that may throw him off and possibly trigger an outburst or meltdown or just unnecessary tension.

Triathlon training helps me burn off excess tension in myself, so that I can deal with any problems that arise for/with him, meaning, I don’t lose my sh** when he does. It LITERALLY keeps me sane. Okay, well, saneish, and possibly out of jail.

Why would I add this insanity to already busy days?

Well, that’s where the magic of time management helps out. It requires me to consciously sit down and plan out every week and every day of that week, down to the meals and snacks. (Of COURSE, there are snacks two growing boys and a triathlete mom?!)

Honestly, though, it helps even if I’m not doing heavy duty training.

I don’t do the planning, and suddenly we are eating dinner at 9 PM on a night when there are no scheduled after school activities, or I’m picking up takeout (both expensive and not necessarily healthy) because I didn’t plan a meal. (Okay, sometimes my teen eats all the food, and takeout or pre-made meals from the grocery store are necessary anyway.)

Usually, on Saturday afternoons, I look at two calendars - the family calendar and my training

schedule. I always ask my uber picky children what they want for dinners, and, for the love of all that’s good in this world, my hope is that ONE DAY they will agree on the same things to eat. But, for now, I’m a short order cook. (My teen has massive sensory issues, including tastes and textures, so that’s fun not.) I make a grocery list for all those meals and for their standard breakfasts and lunches (those are almost always the same, so it’s a no brainer), and then I do the shopping on Sunday afternoon. I try to prep some of the meals Sunday evenings, if chopping or marinating or that sort of thing is required. This helps to prevent 9 PM dinners and other evening drama during the week. It also prevents hangry meltdowns from any one of us too.

Would I LOVE to fly by the seat of my pants every night for dinner? DUH! But, it just isn’t feasible

or smart for us. Let’s face it who has time to make a gourmet meal every evening for dinner after all the other running around all day? Who really has the energy? So, despite my tendencies toward lazing around on the weekends, I don’t let myself slack (unless it’s summer and we have nowhere in particular to go). Because then EVERYTHING sucks, and I feel like I have teen angst myself. And, honestly, no one wants to see ME hungry and tired. It’s UGLY, y’all. We’re talking the Snickers TV ads about hunger, but just not funny at all. So, don’t be like me during summer break.

Healing Journey

Healing Journey.jpg

by Richii Jai

Richii is a dear friend, a spiritual mentor, and most of all, a splash of imperfection in this pretentiously perfect world. Read away.

I keep getting up too early in the mornings. I feel like it may be making me grumpy by mid-day, but I continue the habit. This has been going on for years now, starting back when I lived above a yoga studio in Nederland, Colorado. When I say “living above” the studio, I mean directly above the studio’s lobby in loft area that you could park a Mini car in. I had stashed all of my necessary belongings in the loft, and could only visit the space after 10pm each night, because this space was a secret. Only the owner of the yoga studio knew that I was sleeping up there, up an old pine ladder, on a futon mattress surrounded with neat piles of clothes, vitamin supplements, and a hoard of kids toys.

Every morning I had to get up at 4:45am, climb down from the loft and move the pinewood ladder back up into it’s position in the ceiling. I’d keep all the lights off because the neighbors did not know I was living there, nor would they approve.  Feeling my way through the lobby around large desks and display cases, I’d get to the kitchen area and make tea, as quiet as a mouse and as respectfully a possible to this space. Tea in hand, I’d go to the floor of the lobby and sit down in the dark.

This is magical space, dead quiet, maybe some wind, cold from the snow outside and the old failing heater. I’d sit and give thanks that I had a place to sleep and a warm-ish place to wake up, and a place that was a healing arts center. Yes, yoga studio was in the front, and Shiatsu, Acupuncture, and Massage Therapist treatment rooms in the back and side of the of lobby area. This building was over 120 years old, made of old timbers and sat in the middle of an ex-mining camp, now Colorado tourist attraction. Truly when sitting in the dark I could feel the spirits (Tommyknockers, ghosts of miners)  of the people that had lived there in history, sometimes slightly creepy, but non-threatening. I could also pray. I sat in the dark, holding a hot cup in my hands and prayed for help with my life.

Now since there was a regularly scheduled 6am Yoga class each morning, I had to wake up, tidy up the space, and make it appear that I was arriving for the yoga class, usually the teacher would get there just minutes before it was to begin. Remember, it was a safe guarded secret, and only the owner knew about me being there.

So, yeah, praying, praying that usually broke into tears and begging God/dess to save me from the turmoil of downward spiraling events that had occurred in the last two years. Divorce, brain surgery on my 4 year old son, homelessness, heartbreak. I had also beat addiction to tobacco and marijuana, and other trippy controlled substances. I sat in the dark and asked for help and direction, help on a path that was destined for something better, really anything with less hardship would be better. I had a sacred space to sit in, I was held by the vibration of healing that emanated from the treatment room and the adornments in the lobby, the likes of tapestries, statues of deities, large crystal bodies, and mountains of books about healing and spiritual masters. All those vibes gave me security, a sense that this was going to work out for the best, and I was at the mercy of the spirits in that building, and the universal spirit guardians kept nudging me, or allowing me to feel them, this helped me to feel like I was not lost, not abandoned, and perhaps being lead through a special training that would make me qualified to help other people through the strife and difficulties life can present.

By 5:40am I had to on my feet and erase any residue of tears and outcry, get my coat and boots on and stand outside of the building, making it look like I’ve arrived for yoga class. This went on from August of that summer, through the winter and into May. That’s about 9 months of sneaky-after-dark back door entry, lonely bedtimes, and early morning sitting in the dark waiting for yoga class. During that time I had several part time jobs down in Boulder and was hitchhiking and taking the bus up and down the 17 mile canyon system.  I would work my hours in an herbal apothecary owned by some very nice yoga devoted people. They were always encouraging and insightful in their daily conversations about health, wellness, yogic lifestyle, and Buddhism. This was the second biggest blessing and high vibrational environment I would sit in almost daily. I was surrounded in healthy approaches to diet, and herbal supplements for detoxification of tissues, and “true believers” as my friends for the day. Usually I would go take another yoga class in the evening right after work, and then I’d have to bide my time until I could sneak back into the healing arts center to go to bed.

On the weekend I was borrowing people’s cars so that I could drive the 4 hours to southern Colorado to see my son. My ex, her daughter and our son where living well on our property outside of a small town in the mountains. They were safe and secure, enjoying our mountain home and getting through the early years of elementary school. I was unable to find work or living space in the ranching town nearby so I moved back to my hometown of Boulder.  I’d come mid-week sometimes, too, depending on availability of cars or trucks I could borrow, you see, that long drive had killed two Subaru outbacks in two years. Thus, I’m always asking new people if I can borrow their car, as to not wear-out my other possible lenders. I was not making enough money to buy another car, I was earning enough to feed myself,  pay child support and hospital bills. I am ever grateful for the people that helped me those 2 years, getting to see my kids often and having the fortune of healthy, spiritually oriented people to help my heart heal from dismay.

Sometime in late Spring I had the opportunity to move down to Boulder and have a nearly-free rent situation, sleeping in another loft above the yoga studio! This one was nearly identical, very small, no storage capacity, a kitchen and a bathroom downstairs that I could use. . Still no car, i walk everywhere. Walking and talking, or rather chanting mantras I’d been learning at the classes, and listening to on CD’s. The studio in Nederland, the Good Karma Center, had asked me to start teaching classes regularly because the teachers and hiring managers felt I was proficient and capable. I was teaching a Wednesday 6:30pm class, and then they asked me to teach all of the early morning 6:00am classes. Wow, now I was suppose to be there early in the morning! No more sneaking. My life had become filled with teaching and taking yoga classes, attending satsangs, and kirtans, working for a holistic health focused company, and walking everywhere. Walking is likely the best meditation you can have. Every step is surrounded in an open space, and yet feels private because nobody cares to look at you. Walking also takes forever to get anywhere, and it’s less fun if you have to carry lots of items. So, a small backpack, good shoes, and a song in my heart, I’d walk everywhere, feeling grateful that I have a family, a new group of friends that show me love, and enough money to pay child support and bills, and maybe soon I’d get a new car and be able to rent an apartment.

I continued to study yoga, it was the only time space that I felt made sense to me. I enrolled in more training and became formally certified to teach nationally. I was hired by a large studio that soon gave me enough classes to teach that it was full time job. Still no car. Still walking, busing, and biking between Nederland, Boulder, and now Denver, to make a living. It’s rare for a new and budding yoga teacher to make much for teaching classes. It usually takes years to get any good gigs, or enough experience to learn to manage your schedule effectively.  On the buses I would listen only to spiritual music, chanting albums, and lectures about the spiritual aspirants journey, the pathway of the masters, and the wisdom of the ancients. I was still dirt poor, but had amazing health, stamina, and desire to learn and develop the ability to be a better teacher and a better person. 

Fast forward to the 5th year as Yoga Teacher, I had been training in massage therapy and manual therapies under tutors at The Good Karma Center, and the Element Center, so I was offering bodywork and healing art sessions, working on several people per week. This was slowly helping my financial situation, and I eventually rented a house in Boulder. Still, ever eager to learn about the healing forces in the body, I was studying and practicing 2 and 3 times a day and remaining inside of a bubble of yoga, health, and spiritual devotion. I was becoming my environment. People started giving be flattering titles like “master” and “guardian”, and those are difficult to deflect and remain humble, while my self esteem need the boost so badly. They are just names, they are things people call you when they want you to be that for them. They are characters that walk around the community, “The Yogi”, “The Healer”, “The Leader”, “The Servant”, “The Milkman”, “The Artist”, “The Banker”, “The Hippy”.  I’m glad to know that being on the spiritual journey, and the journey toward healing my extreme sports injuries, would be a great way to get an ego boost, make some new friends, and re-stabilize my family life and role as a father. My son doesn’t remember his brain surgery, he doesn't remember the weekdays that I wasn’t in his home, he has only memories of healing arts centers, yoga studios, and weird health food recipes that don’t taste like donuts. Some how I managed to get the help I needed to heal from a broken heart, a broken family, and a broken body. He doesn’t know anything about what I was going through, because I was smiling when he saw me and grateful to be present as a father.

I am on a spiritual journey, I see things other people cannot see. I have had experiences that are unique to someone who has survived the brink of insanity, and the cliffs of despair. I have been held by friends, masters both alive and dead, and sometimes, once in a while, God/ess actually talks to me outloud, reminding me I am not alone. I get up early in the morning, it’s still dark outside, and I make tea. I sit on the floor and try not to cry about my life. I get ready to go teach the morning yoga classes, and give thanks that I have somthing to do with my life that keeps me out of trouble, and also helps me make friends.

 

Richii Jai

RichiiJaiYoga.com

Empty closet

lgbt.jpg

I know her for a long time now, but since she came out, I added respect to the list of feelings I have for this human being. 

My time in childhood was interesting. I was a typical kid - loved cartoons, getting dirty, exploring and not eating my greens at dinner. There was a pretty big difference between myself and the other "normal" children though. I was different. 

Some of my earliest memories were slipping into my moms heels and trying on lipstick. This is not all uncommon for girls at that age... the problem for me was that I wasn't recognized as a girl at that point. I was in the wrong body. While all my other boy friends were out playing guns and warriors with sticks in the woods, I was playing with makeup, clothes and hair styles.

Not fully knowing what it was that made me different, I tried to talk to my friends about it but never found the courage to follow all the way through as with certain friends at the time. As I got older and into high school, I saw the way they ridiculed and singled out people that even just acted as part of the lgbtqa spectrum, making their lives miserable throughout school.

When I eventually tried to tell someone, I immediately backtracked as I was instantly made to feel like a freak so played it off as a joke. I also tried to get the courage to tell my best friend, but based on my previous experience, I couldn't find the strength to tell him. 

This, and society through the years, actually pushed me to become more of the typical man that was expected of me. I joined in with the ridicule, I got in fights, I learned martial arts, loved action movies and eventually got into cars and motorcycles (narrowly avoiding going down the path of dangerous motorcycle clubs). I was big, 267lbs big, and not really a force to be trifled with. Deep down inside, however, I always remembered the freedom of just being able to be myself as a young child, even though somewhat hidden.

I went through life, nicknamed "dangerous" as I would get so wildly drunk that I would become a liability to my friends and need looking after. I tried a ton of drugs, drank regularly and was not in a good place. One of the other things that earned me that nickname is that I would always wonder off at the end of the night on my own, and find my way home alone. Little did my friends know, that on almost every one of those journeys, I would find myself on top of a building ready to go over, or considering other more tragic ways to end my duality of suffering in silence.

On a few of these occasions, I reached out for help and received it but still wasnt able to fully open up. I ended up just making up stories about why I was at such a low point. I was soon to become one of the statistics. I ended up buying clothes in womens stores, going through the checkout as quickly as I could... head down, pick something, anything, buy it and head back to my apartment loaded with guilt, then throw my new purchase in the trash. This repeated every few days for years.

I found my best friend through online dating and she moved to England with me from the US. We had a number of significant challenges, one of which being that she found out I was wearing womens undergarments in secret. This led her to push me to go to potentially the worst therapist ever to be involved in this... telling me it was wrong and to try and "fix" me. Again, I was in a place of ridicule and unacceptance, from someone you should be able to tell anything to. I went deeper into hiding, said I was fixed and eventually, we married and we moved to Denver, CO together. This would turn out to be one of the best location moves of my life.

I was still buying clothes, wearing them, then throwing them away but at least it helped me to learn to walk in those heels I dreamed about as a child! I was gaining the courage to openly shop in the womens section although still harbored a lot of guilt and shame.

In moving here, I started work at a new company and instantly made some great new friends. One in particular got me into fitness and triathlon. For a big person, not readily entered into fitness through my years, I started to see new energy, weight loss and a lust for the worlds natural beauty by being outside running. Looking in the mirror, 70lbs lighter, I realized that I could make physical, mental and spiritual changes with dedication. Throughout that period too, I started to see a level of acceptance of all people from my new found friends. Not just acceptance, in fact, but an overwhelming support of lgbtqa. I started thinking, what about me? Will I ever be able to be accepted for who I am? Will anyone still want to know me? Will I lose everything I have built? Would I lose my job? Will I end up on the streets?

The dark, ultimately tragic place I often found myself in over the years hadn't left me and I found myself very close to ending everything, again. It was at this point that I decided to take charge of my life again. I sought out a therapist that specialized in transgender patients. I was so nervous when speaking about this openly to someone on the phone! After my initial consultation, I engaged in therapy weekly and very soon after, felt great about who I am, and was already accepted by someone in society that I didnt think would accept me - after all, my previous therapist made me feel terrible about myself.

Judgement and assumption works both ways... I assumed I would be judged harshly by the world, and ultimately ended up judging the world too harshly. It is full of wonderful, beautiful people who are ready to accept change.

After a number of months coming to terms with who I am, and the possible future that was in front of me, I found myself in a whole other world of terror - taking action. This also put me in a state of deep, dark depression as I was closer than I ever have been before to just being true to myself and being free from the cage I put myself in but in order to free myself, I would have to endure great risk, huge change, and all of the original fears still existed; life, livelihood, friends and family.

I started drinking heavily again, at home, staying up way later than I should have. Fortunately for me, my sister who lives in England was also a night owl so I spoke to her, drunk, a lot. She had courage and strength I had not known anyone to possess, and came out to my somewhat religious family about being in differing places on the lgbtq spectrum regardless of ridicule. And boy, did she face some. One evening, it just came out if my mouth... "I have something to tell you". In fact, it was through text, but still... it was happening. I was met with such incredible support, I cried, we talked, I was filled with such excitement and love from deep within. I knew that whatever happened, I would have my sister through everything and anything. I started to tell other friends that I knew out here that are gay, purely as it would help me learn how to come out and it was in a safe environment as they had likely been through hardships themselves so hoped I would be met with some additional understanding. I was right.

The day came to tell someone that I wasnt sure about the reaction. I had written a small excerpt and posted it online anonymously (as an exercise to get my feelings out there) and showed my mom the link. She was reading it out loud and then halfway through, stopped and asked "Is this you?". I told her and again, started tearing up. She was shocked and instantly supportive but it was also a lot for her to take in. It was my first lesson in understanding that true acceptance from people that have helped sculpt my persona my whole life, would also have a large adjustment to make. In my mom's case, her little man was actually never her little man, and was always her baby girl. This opened her up emotionally, realizing I have been living in darkness for over 3 decades and that she wished she could have supported me. It also led her to have a lot of self doubt - was she a bad mother? How could she not have seen this, in her own child? How is she now to act around me? I could see my actions causing pain, but I could also see her strength and love.

So, I now had two family members on my side. That knew, and accepted me fully. I had to teach them a lot about what this means... SRS (sexual reassignment surgery), HRT (hormone replacement therapy), different terminology, different sexual identities, gender identities, etc. It made me do a lot of additional research too, for my own knowledge and understanding and it helped strengthen our bond.

As time went on, I started telling more people and was met with incredible support. This led me to being able to act, be and assume my real identity around a number of friends and family. It was still easier to tell people by text, but I would also now start telling people face to face. At this point, my mom had also told me that had she had a girl at birth, what she would name her and I misheard her - I adopted the incorrect name and grew attached to it and started using it wherever possible. It felt right. It felt like me.

As more and more people started to get to know the real me, I started to gain more and more of my personality back, my freedom to express and just be myself. It felt then, and still feels to this day, liberating and emotionally freeing. I am finally at a point where I can embrace my true inner self, regardless of what is reflected on the outside, and not only that... I consider myself so fortunate to have found incredible, beautiful, welcoming friends and be born into a family of such strong support and  encouragement. 

Not all transgender individuals receive this amount of love and support, and although I am still very much in the thick of my journey, I see a very bright future ahead and every day brings me one step closer to living freely. Life is a gift and should be lived and treated as such, in any way any individual wants to live it. Regardless of who they are, there will be people beside them. Regardless of who you are, you will have support. Live true to yourself and find your own happiness, as it does exist.

Louisa