This post comes from my friend and a returning guest blogger, Riley McGrath.
My name is Riley McGrath, I am a 20 year old FTM transgender guy from Scituate Massachusetts, though home to me is really Bridgewater State University. I am studying psychology and am taking on a double minor in LGBT studies and women and gender studies. I hope to become a gender therapist where I will be helping trans folks like myself every day of my life.
Something that I’ve carried with me throughout my coming out and transitioning process is this idea of a chosen family. I grew in a big Irish Catholic family. These values have been ingrained in me, my whole life. Now that I’ve started my transition and have come out, the importance of family has changed for me.
To me, family is the people that accept and support you without any conditions. I don’t see my biological family being in my life forever unless they accept who I am and start to call me Riley. My true family is the people have been with me since I have come out and support me without exceptions. One of the beautiful things about being LGBT is being able to choose your family. Sometimes it’s after your biological family kicks you out. But you find the most amazing people to “replace” what you’ve lost. My chosen family is something I am grateful for every day of my life.
One of my favorite quotes about family is from the TV show, The Fosters. It is something I carry with me through the ups and downs of being queer and a trans male. “DNA doesn’t make a family. Love does” I really love that quote and it always reminds me of my chosen family.
Today I’m Grateful For…
My chosen family, even if some people aren’t in my life much anymore
Drywall and painting
My sister, who is one of my favorite people on the planet
The trans community on social media (Laverne Cox, Aydian Dowling, Chella man, Chase Ross and too many more to mention)
Question 3 in Massachusetts
Bridgewater State University (as always)
My friends Catherine and Sean, for letting me stay when I have to work early/ late… And their dogs too
The crazy journey of manhood
Both my jobs, my bosses, and my coworkers
Music (for keeping me sane through the ups and downs of life)
Being able to learn how to cook on my own
Church (for showing me that LGBT folks can be religious)
My best friend and brother (for our hour-long conversations where I always end up crying)
Anyone that has ever doubted me
Everything I’ve gone through and struggled with
The crazy journey of manhood
Having the right and privilege of voting
Sunrises and sunsets
My research group
My dad (for giving everything up for me)
How much I’ve grown since September
The month of November (November 20th specifically)
With my fall semester coming to an end, I feel like I finally have time to breathe. I’m grateful to watch summer to fall, fall turn to winter. Each day brings something different. I remind myself change is GOOD with each breath I take.
I haven’t been perfect. I’ve certainly made mistakes but I work hard to recognize and learn from them. I’m looking forward to the new year. A year full of the unexpected.
An exciting and new opportunity I want to start with the Gratitude Journal is to invite guest bloggers to contribute. It is with great pleasure that people can connect through gratitude and hopefully inspire others to share and reflect on their own.
Our first submission is below ~
Gratitude Journal #1
The world is complex and overwhelming, but I am strong, I have people who support me and I can win this one day.
Today I am thankful:
A very hot shower on a very cold day.
Clean laundry because my husband took care of it.
Cookies for breakfast, just because.
Time to meditate.
Time to relax and just breathe.
It was 11 degrees and my truck started on the first try.
My husband started a new job Monday and things are going great.
I had a problem at work and both my bosses supported me 100%.
I brought my 5 lb dog to work which brought me lots of happy visitors.
Gas is very affordable this week.
My freezer is full so I don’t have to go shopping.
My favorite show is on tonight.
I am halfway through holiday shopping.
I have enough money to be able to donate to charity.
My children and grandson are healthy and doing fine.
My younger daughter is almost finished with her thesis.
My older daughter has achieved work-life balance.
I am looking forward to my grandson’s 3rd birthday in a January.
There is a free holiday party at work!
My dog, Kylo is making so many people smile today.
I am busy, but I put all my obligations on a list and it feels good to mark them off.
There are times I can be quite rigid. I stick to my routine and wouldn’t dare change it up. I think there’s value in recognizing that. Theres power in reflection.
I’m grateful for when I can return to that familiar feeling. When I can recharge and find my breath. I want to find gratitude in normalcy and the mundane but not grow fond of it. I think it’s important to find ways to expand our comfort zone, not escape it. We just have to take it one step at a time.
John Wooden, one of my favorite coaches and philosophers said –
It’s so easy to relax, to cut corners, to let down after you’ve reached your goal, and begin thinking you can just “turn it on” automatically, without proper preparation. It takes real character to keep working as hard or even harder once you’re there. Don’t think you can make up for progress by working twice as hard tomorrow. If you have it within your power to work twice as hard, why aren’t you doing it now?
To me, the same applies to our energy when it comes to positivity. If we have the power to impact others, to be kind, and to show others gratitude – we must give our pursuits everything we have and then find a way to do it all again. This is how we create change, it starts with us!
I have to keep reminding myself of this as the fall semester comes to an end and I still have so much to take care of.
The work will get done, I keep saying.
Each breath acts as an anchor, knowing I have goals I am working towards. Planning only gets us so far – and similarly – so does writing lists. I want to live out loud when it comes to gratitude and positivity. I want to take those next steps and live each moment and use each action to demonstrate gratitude. This looks like patience. This looks like empathy and encouragement.
Ultimately reminding myself, I need to take life one day at a time. The best is yet to come. The work will get done but saying it isn’t enough. Taking action brings life to another level.