Monday, January 21, 2013

Summing Up

I've done many things in my life that I'm proud of.  Believe it or not, this humble blog is the one I take most pride in.  It is the truest thing I've ever done.  My blog is the most authentic expression of my self.  In the context of my life, that is a Herculean accomplishment.

As a child, I was dutiful for parents who centered their lives on childrearing.  As a student, I worked hard, got good grades, was admitted to a prestigious college, got into a top-tier law school and graduated with honors.  As a young attorney, I learned my craft, endured years of financial exploitation, escaped predatory partners, started my own practice and built a profitable business enterprise.

In my twenties, I saved a girl's life.  I rescued her from certain suicide, nurtured her and helped her build a happy life which she still enjoys today.  I take pride in these things.

Flying above these achievements, however, is this blog.  Part art-project, part autobiography, my blog records, displays and celebrates my inner soul.  It shows who I am.  Given the opprobrium of our society toward gender transgression, that's no small thing.  From my earliest memory, I was told forcefully and repeatedly that I can't be the person I am.  I was told I had to conceal my nature.  I believed, with profound sadness, that suppression would be my lifelong fate.  Fortunately, it is not.

We reach a stage in life when we realize it's do or die.  Literally.  We face mortality when our family and friends start dying.  The prospect of a terminal point prompts us to examine what we're doing and ask if that's all there is.

My mother died.  My brother died.  Close friends have passed away.  I know, with the weight of a boulder on my chest, that I will die.  I almost did once, lying on a cold roadway with a collapsed lung, broken ribs and no ability to breathe.  I came very close to the end.  Such an experience leaves a scar on your psyche.

Three years ago, I decided to confront convention.  Reject social restrictions.  Be the person I am.  I started blogging and showing the world what I've always wanted for myself.

Sounds great, right?  But there's always back-pressure.  Lacking experience in female fashion, my early attempts at dressing up were bad.  Pathetically inept.  The first three times I tried on makeup I cried.  I couldn't do it.  I had no skill and no mentors to help me.

But, as the girl whose life I saved once said about me, I'm dogged.  It is my best trait.  I perservere.  I keep at my goals relentlessly, ignoring pain, forgetting disappointment.  I forge ahead with sheer will.  Damn it, I thought, I'll learn how to appear credible in female form if it takes forever.

I slowly improved.  I'm at a point now where I'm not embarrassed by my appearance.  I won't win any beauty contests but measuring progress from where I began, I'm satisfied.  You may not realize it but transforming a body with no curves into the semblance of a woman's shape takes effort.  Most women can just toss on clothes to look female; I have to do more than that.

My blog shows this journey.  Openly available to anyone, my blog reveals my inner self in all its oddity and honesty.  You may visit many blogs, but how many do you visit like mine?  There's a reason for that.

Are you proud of your blog?  What do you think it does for you?


  1. Life, blogging, fashion, etc. is a journey and experience all in itself. Your blog is really one of my favorites. You did something so brave and you rocked it! Heather

  2. Perseverance my friend, that's the way - I am so proud of you, because I have seen you grow and get better.
    This picture in that pretty dress, you look amazing !
    I always come to your blog to see how you are doing and read your thoughts :)
    You are a unique person and therefore have a unique blog.
    I am happy with my blog, I have been able to learn many things through others about myself and have been able to connect with people :)

  3. You're an inspiration to me my friend - I love your blog and you should be totally and completely proud of it. You're amazing (or as Sara would say, amazeballs).

    I'm proud of my blog too and the person I think I've become from it. It's still a work in progress - but so am I. :)

  4. I can't stop myself from returning to the word "lovely" to describe you. Your sweet soul, your nurturing and encouraging spirit, your classic-with-many-twists fashion sense. You do it all with gusto and grace. I'm so glad to know you. I'm most proud of my marriage. We dated and married pretty young, but we have a great depth of support for one another in individual interests and a pretty darn good sense of fighting fair. My blog is a hobby, a personal documentation that kind of mushroomed out of control, but I'm so glad for the community it's built!

  5. As you can see from the comments we all love your blog too! There are so many misconceptions and misunderstandings of people who are transgender, so if you keep posting there is a very good probability that your blog will help a lot of people. Keep it up! And please don't get frustrated with makeup or your figure. What might look natural for your female friends is actually a lifetime spent finding clothes that look good and makeup that flatters. I'm still learning, but spent at least forty years figuring it out. I recently started painting my own nails. For years I would go without polish or have it done professionally. The first time I tried myself I was almost in tears too! Now I'm pretty good at it. (:

  6. Ally I am so glad that you take pride in your blog. It is hard work blogging in general, and you have even more to deal with. I love that you pushed through all of your struggles and continued with this blog. Each post shows hard work, even the ones of just random cool shit you find on the internet. You took the time to put it together :)

  7. I'm so proud of you for being true to yourself. I have greatly enjoyed your blog and your honesty. Tenacity is essential in life. Almost nothing works out or is perfect the first time. The important thing is that we keep moving forward. You rock, Ally!

  8. Wow. I always really enjoy your posts because they make me think while I enjoy the fashion. I don't know how frustrating and crushing it must be not to fully be yourself. To decide that you were worth more than social convention makes me want to sing and dance with joy. I'm proud of my blog because even in times that I feel lonely, useless, and starting over (now, for instance) I know that I have this space that I have created. Even if no one reads it, I know it's there for me...

  9. You're right, I visit no other blogs like yours. As far as I know, there are no others that are like yours. That's one of the reasons I like yours so much. I'm relatively proud of my blog. I think anyone who puts themselves out there, as bloggers do, should be proud. We open ourselves up to criticism from people all over the world. And, lets be honest, some people won't like what we're doing, and won't have any problems telling us about it. Especially those of us that put our image online for all to see and comment on. I like to think that if I can give 1 woman more confidence or help her to see that she's worthy of fashionable clothing, without the money or the model body, than all I'm doing is worth it.

  10. You have all the reasons to be proud of yourself and your blog :). I can't say neither about my self yet, but I'm improving :)
    x, Lara

  11. I love your blog so much. Because it really does inspire me to keep being ME. I may not be struggling with gender or orientation, or even struggling with my style as much - but I still struggle to stay true to myself, my ideals, my dreams.

    No blog or person I've ever met is like you. I'm very proud of your perseverance. I'm glad for your friendship.

    I'm proud of my blog because I've always been such a loner. My blog gives me a place to reach people, real people. Instead of keeping my dreams in books, in art, I'm sharing it. I'm living it. If I can help people in any way along the way, I'm beyond honored.

    I think in a way, my blog has saved me. I've had many hard times where I've wanted to give it up. I'm a hermit by nature, I don't like leaving the house, big crowds, or anything that causes anxiety. But over four years of blogging, with the encouragement I've received, I keep going. I've gained a lot of confidence in myself that I never had before.

    I still have moments where I put on clothes and feel crushing defeat. I don't even bother with make up because despite being a girl, my skin rejects it. My attempts at nailpolish look like a kid's. Without my blog I'd still be wearing crappy t shirts and dirty jeans. Now I feel pretty most days. I feel girly, tough, and cool.

    I could go on and on about how much blogging means to me, how much it has changed me.

  12. The red shoe pic. :) Ally, you have such courage.

    I am proud of my blog too. What I know so far is that it's an important nexus of connection and reflection in my life, and so much yet to be determined.

    Great post, my friend.

  13. Ah, a blog about reality. I used to be afraid of dying. But for some reason that fear went away. Now I just accept it as what will be. And in the meantime I, like you, have worked on self-acceptance. I don't think having an unusual quirk is a definer. I fell in love with a 17 year old boy 25 years ago at 43. We are still together and will celebrate 24 years of nonmarital bliss in April. Not the norm for East Tennessee. But it's me. And I am OK with that most of the time. I love hearing about your life because in some small ways I empathize with the need to just be who you are.

  14. You should be proud of your blog. It takes a lot of bravery to share who you truly are with the world, and I admire that about you.

  15. Ok, first of all, you are incredible, inspiring and just a gift.

    I am proud of my blog as well, it's kept my heart in what I love and has given me a chance to reach out to others as I normally wouldn't, being that I'm so shy.

  16. I think I would rather live in the sunshine of honesty and freedom to be me than always being told "No that is not who you should be or who you are". Your blog gives you freedom to let your soul take wings and share your gift of who you are. My blog reflects who I am and I feel daring because I am a middle aged old lady who learned to ride a scooter and motorcycle and that makes me different from mainstream society and people have preconceived ideas of who I am because I ride a bike and I have to say their notions of the kind of person I am are completely wrong. They think I am a rebel (well maybe a little), some have asked my kid if I belong to a biker gang (really?!) I guess If you count the 62 other women I have in the riding group I started then I guess we could be considered a gang. I have learned in the last 2 years that I am determined, brave and don't give a rip about what people think, I am 48 and have just figured this out now, it is liberating!

    Ally you rock and girl you have bodacious legs - love the tights! Btw I don't always get the fashion thing right either, I have more misses than successes and as long as you feel beautiful that is ALL that matters. XO

  17. What a beautiful, open, and honest post. I can feel your heart. Ironically, I can relate to your struggle in wanting to appear female - although maybe in a slightly different way. I think many women can: I sometimes don't feel "woman" enough. I feel as though I fall short as to what is expected of me, and therefore don't measure up.

    "Flying above these achievements, however, is this blog. Part art-project, part autobiography, my blog records, displays and celebrates my inner soul. It shows who I am."

    So beautiful. I hope that my blog reflects who I am, and my personality. When I am down, or going through a hard time, I try to express it. When I'm happy, I try my best to share my joy.

    Wonderfully written!

  18. I think you should be justly proud of your blog Ally. You write beautifully and your voice comes through authentically - as ever,I needed some time to ponder the question you posed.
    While I cannot,and do not want, for various reasons, to reveal some parts of my life,having a blog gives me so much pleasure. I have to thank Sheila and Megan (Fashionable Bureaucrat) for either encouraging me to start a blog or inspiring me with theirs. I can share the details of outfits with other people who think about clothes in a similar way, but from that, it is developing into lovely friendships and long conversations about so many things. I get a bit grouchy on days when I don't get time to look at blogs and join in the conversations..

  19. Its quite simple Ally - you're a 1 in a million and we adore you. I remember my first visit to your blog after you'd commented on mine ... I was taken by surprise, a wee bit confused, then curious ... I revisted and revisted wondering if you were simply having a little dig at the fashion bloggers ... but you shone through and you've allowed us to see your struggles and triumphs and share in your failures and successes and that I do believe makes us all appreciate our womanhood so much more - your questions, your honesty, I'm sure has helped us all grown a little within ourselves.

    My blog is an outlet for me ... a way of expressing myself ... I've been blogging since 2001 and my blog has gone through many makeovers and changes and all of them express where I am at the time and where my interest lies. Its allowed me to meet new people (although none in person as yet) but showed me a world I never knew existed.

  20. i'm proud of you and your blog!! I've seen and met many transgendered people, and the Southern Comfort convention is held here, but you are the only one I "know." You have the picture posing down pat, and I could pick up some skills from you there!
    I'm very proud of my blog. I never dread writing it or suffer from lack of ideas. I like to think I'm helping people, and letting them realize that beauty isn't a scary thing that takes hours. It's attainable.

  21. I think this is awesome!!! I fully support ones freedom to express themselves and be the person they are meant to be!

    My cousin recently had the transgender surgery, I am very proud of her - so I can definitely relate to your thoughts.

    Btw, cute dress - I could never pull it off w/my thighs not fair. ;)

  22. This post literally moved me to tears. Compared to the way you see your blog, my view of mine is pretty shallow. But it has done one wonderful thing. It's opened my world up a bit, and allowed me to meet some truly fantastic, amazing and even inspiring people. (Nudge nudge.)

  23. I love reading about you and your journey, Ally. I think it's a beautiful thing you do and I love that you keep doing it.

    Blogging... helps me make friends. I'm incredibly anti-social and without my blog I probably wouldn't talk to anyone. At the same time, it gives me something to work toward. It's a good thing.

  24. Oh Ally, what an intimate, deeply touching post and portrait of who you are. Thank you for sharing how much your blog matters to you (I feel much the same way out mine) and how it stands as your shining accomplishment. May it always bring your happiness, peace, and new adventures.

    ♥ Jessica

  25. What a beautiful post Ally; thank you for sharing this. You are truly a remarkable person in so many ways, and yes, your personal journey really sets your blog apart from everything else I read. You have every reason to be proud of what you do here -- and who knows how many other lives may be touched, or even saved, by your willingness to make your journey public.

  26. Like many have already stated here in the comments section, it's great that you've found the perfect outlet to express yourself in. Your blog is always great to visit. Your journey to self-discovery is inspiring as is your openness. I often wish I could be halfway as open in my own writing, but the nature of my personality makes it difficult.

    As for your question regarding blog pride, I genuinely enjoy keeping my blog- however it only barely scratches the surface of my taste and interests. I often feel it's probably for the best that it stay that way.

  27. Of course you are unique in the blogosphere, Ally, no one writes as beautifully and thoughtfully as you do. You are simply you, and it absolutely works, based on all your loyal readers and fans. You should be proud of finding a place where you can simply be who you are and dress as you like and say what you feel.

    I can't even dress as I like or say what I feel on my blog. Like SS, I have to be more cautious about what I put out there. But it does give me an outlet and of course, has opened the door to so many wonderful friendships I never would have experienced otherwise.

    I think most woman can look back on certain outfits, and wail, "Why did I think that looked good?!" I even cringe at old blog pics. And sometimes last week's. It's a lifelong learning process. Some of us are geniuses at personal style, but most of us aren't. But that doesn't mean we don't love the challenge.

  28. You are one of the bravest women that I know, Ally. No - THE bravest. I'm so proud of you for 'coming out' and finally living your life how it was intended!

    1. Thanks, buddy. You played a big role in this, so let's share the credit.

  29. Dear friend,

    I'm sorry it's been so long since I reached out on the WWW. It's been such a joy to look through your blog every now and then and I always want to come back for more right away. I'll never stay away this long, to be sure! Your honest, kind words, your independent and strong spirit, your vitality, passion, excitement, and humor - all of these things make you and Shy Biker a joy to experience.

    I hope we can meet up in NYC sometime soon!

    Again: you're such an inspiration to me and so many others. For that, always, thank you!!


  30. Everyone else has said it so well: You should absolutely be proud of what you're doing here. You're educating, entertaining, enlightening, engaging, and I didn't even mean for all of those to start with E, but it's a fine letter. At some point I plan on writing about how my views on transgendered folks have changed over time, and you have absolutely been a part of that.

    I'm proud of my blog, though not always (particularly with design, which I need to have someone overhaul because my skills have been exhausted). But more than anything, I love love LOVE having an outlet for all these thoughts that have bounced around in my head for years. I wish I'd started longer ago, but then it wouldn't be the same, would it?

  31. Wow, this post says volumes about you! You're right, I don't follow any blogs like your's (until now.) And makes me ask questions to myself...
    I am happy with my blogging experiences, it has helped me get over my fear of technology, and I've met a lot of new friends. I tend to be a very private person, (to a fault,) and this has helped me open up about who I am. I almost always feel silly taking pictures of myself, as if maybe I'm just a bit more narcissitic than I should be. But it does allow me to be creative in writing, photography and fashion (and crafty as of late,)and let's face it, I don't know anyone, male or female who doesn't want to look good and feel good about themselves, inside and out.
    It's hard to be a "real" person on the internet, and you do it so well. Keep being real.

  32. I'm immensely proud of my blog. I've said this before, but even though the point of the blog is to help other women and girls change their perspective of themselves into something more loving and empowered, I was completely unaware when I started out just how much it would do that for ME...simply by focusing on self-love purposefully more of the time and always thinking about things to write about naturally caused me to love myself more...or at least be more forgiving to myself when I feel less lovable. I have never been a regular poster; I don't post for the sake of putting something out there every week. Maybe that's a mistake, maybe not. I write when I feel I need to because it feels like someone out there needs what's on my heart at that moment. Knowing that I have actually made people stop and look at themselves in a more positive way...well, I can't put a price on that.

    I think your blog does the same thing, just in a different way. The fact that you love yourself and nurture your dreams and no longer care if you're "different" or how you'll be perceived rubs off on people and inspires them to be braver and follow their own passions. But, most importantly, you still blog for YOU. It's your gift to yourself and allowed you to start dipping your pink-painted toes into new waters at a pace that felt comfortable to you. And now just look at you!!

    I like this kind of post. I really enjoy learning new things about you.