Learning To Let Go – With Gratitude by Riley McGrath (#245)

I invited my friend Riley to author a post for the blog, these are his words. 

Hi there,

My name is Riley McGrath. I’m a 20-year-old FTM transgender guy and my heart was left behind in Kingston Massachusetts. I am a lot of things; I’m an artist, musician, writer, twin, I’m queer AF, I’m an advocate and and an educator. I am a “man in progress,” a musical theatre nerd, and a hopeful explorer.  I have a lot of love to give but I have a lot of work to do before I can be the man I want to be.

I’m way too wise for 20 years old, but I’m glad that my experiences make me who I am. Do you want to know what makes me so wise? My life. My experiences. My challenges, defeats and triumphs, but also my regrets.

When I think of the word regret, what comes to mind for me is the fact that I wasn’t able to tell my dad that I’m transgender. It was taken away from me. By fear, by time, by social media, and worst of all, by a family member. I lost so much the day he found out, but I realize now that I handled the situation incorrectly. I blamed myself.

I could feel myself go through the stages of grief following this event. It wasn’t easy for me to watch my biggest fear come to life. What’s easy is beating yourself up for your regrets to cope with the event. It’s so easy to get lost in the hurricane of feelings that come with regrets. I’ve been caught up in this cycle of bad habits for a long time now. But at 20 years old, all I want to do is move on from things that have happened to me since I was 13. A change in mindset has recently taught me that moving on is possible.

Gratitude has taught me that there are good things even in the worst of events. That sometimes light shines through the darkest of rooms. That even an event like being outed as transgender to my dad can be looked at in a positive light. Gratitude taught me that I should be grateful for having a family even after coming out. A big part of gratitude is being grateful for what we have, what we don’t have, what has happened, and the things we are privileged to never experience.

I am slowly teaching myself that no matter how hard something is, it is all part of my journey and has made me into the person I am today. As someone who is new to self-love and gratitude, I am slowly learning to retrain my thinking and mindset. Gratitude is teaching me to be kind to myself, that it’s okay to have bad days, to love my journey and its process, and that seeing things in a different light change everything.

Remember this:

It’s not your fault.

You can overcome this.

And most importantly,

You are strong.

8.24.18

Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. Glasses (because I didn’t know how much I was missing out on seeing)
  2. Driving over the Sagamore bridge
  3. The community of people I’ve grown and changed with since I’ve come out
  4. Bicycles
  5. “Furiously Happy” by Jenny Lawson
  6. Haircuts (for making me feel manly)
  7. Rain
  8. The trans community on social media (Laverne Cox, Aydian Dowling, Chella man, Chase Ross and too many more to mention)
  9. Music (for being a life long friend, therapist, outlet, dancing partner and distraction
  10. Bridgewater State University (for being home no matter how far away I may be
  11. A lacking use of rulers in my drawings
  12. Pride month
  13. Wisdom (for having it, the fact that it exists, and many more reasons than words allow)
  14. Love (finding it and learning how to love myself)
  15. My best friends
  16. Anyone that has ever doubted me
  17. Bridgewater State University’s psychology research lab
  18. Sunsets and sunrises
  19. The lighthouse down the street from my mom’s house
  20. The fact that its 2018 (cause there’s more tolerance, diversity, love and acceptance, and people that advocate for what’s right)
  21. My sister (for taking care of me, going on adventures with me, keeping me calm and being a real queen)
  22. Every challenge and obstacle I’ve had to face
  23. Experiences and the stories they tell
  24. My amazing mentors that believe in me no matter what
  25. The crazy journey of manhood

 

As always, check out my first blog, 25 Things I’m Grateful For (#1) to know why I’m writing this list and why I want you to start yours.

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Featured image of the lighthouse and harbor in Situate, MA from Riley. This was the gateway for him when he moved away from his hometown in Kingston. 

The Best Version Of Myself (#211)

After finishing John Wooden’s A Lifetime of Observations today, his ideals and lessons gave me a lot to think about. His book focused on; character, compassion, preparation, faith, patience, leadership, and hard work among other teachings. His words resonated with me. Listening, stirred a feeling inside that makes me want to be my best.

I will never be a perfect person. I need to allow myself the grace to make mistakes. All I can do is give my maximum effort in all circumstances. That much is in my control. I’m grateful for the lessons learned throughout my life. Learning and improving every day means being patient with my process. I’m grateful for the people who instill these lessons in me. At the end of the day, I’m the only one who can foster and create the best version of myself. I’ve been given these tools to succeed and it’s my job to make a change. I’m grateful for my process. It’s all part of the journey.

07.21.18

Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. Good communication
  2. Home cooking
  3. Laying with my cat after a tough day
  4. Access to fresh fruit and vegetables
  5. Good role models
  6. CLEAN WATER! Check out my project and see how you can get involved!

  7. Late night mac and cheese
  8. Feeling refreshed
  9. Sharing gratitude
  10. The friends who inspire me to “run with the fastest”
  11. Taking it one day at a time
  12. My family
  13. Car rides with the windows down and the music up
  14. Bike rides through campus in Amherst
  15. Weekend hikes
  16. Making folders on Spotify to organize my music
  17. My process
  18. Catching the sunrise
  19. Adam, my supervisor at UMass
  20. Carpools with Carley
  21. That cozy feeling in the winter
  22. The feeling of sand between your toes
  23. When people give their time to a cause
  24. Signs from the Universe
  25. The precious present

 

As always, check out my first blog, 25 Things I’m Grateful For (#1) to know why I’m writing this list and why I want you to start yours.

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Featured image of the pier from Southend. One of my favorite days in England. It was just me in that moment. The wind, the water, and time to reflect. 

Gratitude In Honesty (#210)

Today I must have journaled for hours. I walked the mile-long pier and found a bench staring straight into the endless horizon. I sat in awe of the mighty current as the wind whipped across my face. I struggled to keep my page as the wind engulfed my entire being. With what felt like the promise of the storm, I decided to walk halfway back to the mainland and found some cover. There, I sat and reflected on this past year. It was almost a year ago to this day I was moving into UMass and starting my first year of graduate school. Life was different then. I was different then.

I’ve learned a lot over the course of the year. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and encountered challenges I wish I handled differently. Having the time to journal and reflect on these things helps me be grateful in a different way. I’m grateful others have shown me patience and compassion. I’m grateful to be given support when I needed it the most. Holding myself accountable is important to me. Taking a hard look at my imperfections doesn’t make me a perfect person, far from it. My goal is to learn from these mistakes and when looking back, I’m grateful for these lessons I learn every day.

07.20.18

Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. The sound and smell of the ocean
  2. My journal
  3. Vinyl music with my parents
  4. Square-dance classes
  5. Buffalo chicken and Patriots games
  6. Classic movies
  7. Monopoly nights
  8. A couple of deep breaths
  9. New music Friday on Spotify
  10. CLEAN WATER! Check out my project and see how you can get involved!

  11. My brothers in Sigma Pi
  12. My audiobooks
  13. Dream Team meetings with Jess and Carley
  14. Tattoo stories
  15. My teammates and good coaches
  16. West coast In-N-Out Burgers
  17. Learning new things
  18. Good news
  19. Driving through the Pacific Northwest
  20. Lessons about leadership
  21. A clear sky
  22. Morning runs to the train station
  23. Holding hands
  24. Sleeping in
  25. Right here, right now

As always, check out my first blog, 25 Things I’m Grateful For (#1) to know why I’m writing this list and why I want you to start yours.

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Featured image from my time in Southend today. The walk to the pier, the time by the water, it all mad for a great day.