journey

Being Myself: meet my new intern, Desiree.

Hello all, my name is Desiree, and I'm Dillan's new intern for the fall semester. Clif Bars 061

 

Dillan has asked me to write on his blog and give a brief introduction as to who I am. I met Dillan at Lesley University. Dillan came to a class I was in called Application to Holistic Healing. The class was an intro to other holistic practices and the professor organized many guest speakers whose businesses are using holistic models.

Immediately, I was drawn to Dillan's humor and the way he promoted health in a non preachy, nonjudgmental way.

When he shared with the class his recent transition in life, to come out and begin his gender transition...I began to see how similar Dillan and I really were, despite our different journeys.

A snap-shot into mine:

I was raised in a single parent home and brought up in a christian family. I considered myself, as did others, a “born again”. I married a christian guy and we were significant leaders in our church. My mother was proud of me and my two younger siblings looked up to me. I lived among the Christian teachings for 25 years.

Then things began to change.

It wasn’t one event that led me away from the theology, it was a number of life events that made me rethink who I wanted to be. Making this change was not an easy adjustment, and once I did it my life didn’t suddenly turn into “boom, now I’m happy".

Everything unraveled right before I got divorced. I lost friends, lost family support, broke my foot then, lost my job, started an unhealthy relationship, stopped eating...

drank a lot of wine, and more wine.

I fought back every tear that wanted to be cried out because I was still performing for everyone else.

I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. They shaped me into who I am today, and I think I’m pretty cool! (It’s taken a lot of introspective work to be able to say that and mean it).

I wanted to do my internship with Dillan because I could relate to his personal story. Even though our transitions in life have been so different, we have more in common than not. We both have been through some life changing events that have shaped us into the people we are today.

But, if you really think about it, who hasn’t been through a transition in life that changed us forever? 

After I graduate, I’m interested in doing the same kind of work as Dillan. I look forward to learning from him. I respect his approach and how he communicates with his audience. His message is clear, that we can make an impact on the world by simply accepting ourselves for who we are.

 

One Year Later: Overcoming My Fear of Reaching Out to My Family

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nelson

Last week I celebrated the one year anniversary of "going under the knife" to change my physical form as part of my transition to male.

I promised to post a video showing footage from my "unveiling" as well as results one year later and you can see that below. But rather than lead with that, instead I want to share a bigger transformation with you.

You may have noticed (or not) that over the past four years, I've barely mentioned my family. I've hardly spoken of them because I was estranged from them. I know this happens for all sorts of reasons in many families, and this began before my transition but you can guess that it wasn't exactly something that would bring a family together, even in the best of circumstances. It can happen, but didn't for me.

I went through this entire process without contact from everyone except my mother. She and I had minimal, strained interactions prior to surgery and after, it got even more difficult. One reason for this, I can see after the fact, was my focus on myself and my process. Summoning courage to make this leap meant I had to be a little selfish for a while, especially when it was clear my family wasn't in a space to support me. And I am 100% totally ok with that, because it's what happened.

A few weeks ago, I shared on facebook that I emailed my father for the first time in four years. It got tons of likes and quite a long list of comments, most of them from my loyal and incredible cisgender* following. It was clear to me that everyone can relate to family estrangement and the courage and fear inherent in trying to bridge those distances.

The reconnection is slow-going. Such is the nature of change.

Communication with my mother, however, is moving along more swiftly. I'm sharing this now because I want to inspire from a place of real self-awareness. I haven't shared much about my family in the past because I was still seeing myself as the abandoned, the forgotten, the deserted.

That wasn't . I was simply not able to hold space for their process of losing the person I had formerly been. I was terrified of what they would say, and hurt by things that had already been said--before transition and once I mentioned it--so I made the decision to take time away until I felt stronger.

I knew it wasn't easy for them, but it wasn't easy for me, either.

It was easier for my friends, though I can guess it hasn't been a walk in the park.

It was easier for my partner, who has known me for 9 years and we both sort of always knew this transition was inevitable.

It was easier for strangers, most of whom have no idea I am even transgender.

It wasn't so easy for people who had known me since birth. And a certain kind of guilt prevented me from being able to listen to their experience. Silenced grief goes unprocessed, in my experience, and prevents true healing.

One year after my surgery, I am celebrating a tremendous transformation, both inside and out. I took steps to do what was needed for my own health and happiness and now I am able to overcome my fears and extend compassion and a listening ear to how it has affected my family, namely my mother. Bearing witness to her grief is only possible because I first did it for myself. Extending compassion and understanding to her process is only possible now because I showed that love for myself, first. As a result, we have plans to reunite next week--for the first time in almost 4 or 5 years. It pains me that it's been so long that I forget exactly how long.

This video shows before and after images of my physical body, but the true transformation that I'm celebrating one year later is that of becoming the person I really want to be: kinder, honest, compassionate and able to listen with love to bring about true healing and acceptance.

Have you broken a mold of some sort or lived outside the lines in some way?

What was the impact of that on those around you?

How can you accept and affirm your decisions and still make space to help others heal?

Please share your stories below.

If you want to join me on this fearless journey I'm on, you probably want to join my pay-what-you-can Fearless Living virtual program. Check it out: http://dillandigi.com/fearless-living-the-remix/

Update from Emily and Jillian, Lesley University Rockstar Interns!

Emily Scolaro: My update: the only word that can I use to describe this experience this far is unreal.  I choose unreal because it is exactly that.  How many people get the opportunity to intern and learn from such an amazing person in their undergrad?  Not many!
Throughout this journey I have learned skills and gained knowledge that I could not have gotten from just reading a book, or going to a class.  Working with Dillan on a weekly basis has opened my eyes to a variety of opportunities. Engaging in a professional environment has made me become more self-aware.  I have learned how to place limits in certain aspects of my life, which has helped with my overall health; mentally, emotionally, and physically. The constant feedback of positive affirmation and constructive criticism from Dillan has driven me to be more passionate about everything I’m learning. I can see my future more clearly now and I’m hoping that one day I will be in a job where I feel so inspired and self motivated.

Dillan encouraged Jillian and I to attend a talk that was held by the Integrative Health Collaborative of Boston. They were hosting “an evening of networking with integrative health colleagues and a presentation from Dr. Darshan Mehta.” He talked about mindfulness as a tool for healing and staying healthy and how practitioners at the Benson-Henry Institute use and teach mindfulness as a treatment strategy.  After seeing his presentation I was in awe, mostly because I could not understand a good portion of the words he was saying.  Aside from that, the networking and knowledge I gained was amazing.  Jillian and I were probably the youngest people there, but we were treated as if we were just as equal as everyone else (whether one was a doctor, medical student, pharmacist, cook, health coach, etc.).  I felt honored to be at this amazing place, with a breathtaking view of Boston, and have remarkable people with common interests around me.  The networking aspect of the whole journey was probably the most beneficial.  I saw how Dillan advocated for herself and for her business, listened to others and what they had to offer, and could gage where to place her energy and focused attention.  This is one of the moments that I will look back at this internship and remember the impact it had on me.
I plan on continuing my internship in the spring so that we can proceed with some amazing ideas that we are developing.

Jillian Clarke:

Holistic psychology has always been a passion of mine, even before I knew it actually had a name. As a sophomore I have dove deeper into the field of holistic psychology and holistic living has become such an important part of my life.  Interning with Dillan has been one of the major catalysts for this love and passion.  This semester with Dillan has not only been an amazing work experience, but has also been changing my life for the better.
Working with Dillan has most definitely added to the primary foods of my life, particularly in the aspects of my career, relationships and spirituality.  Each week that we meet I have learned more and more about myself (I feel blessed to be able to do so much self-care at an internship!).  One of the experiences with Savor Your Existence that has helped my self-care progression was teaching a class at Lesley College with Dillan and Emily.  I spoke about the daily hardship of cravings and the correlation to primary food.  Being able to share my personal experiences with my peers was such a liberating feeling for me.  I was able to share my hardships and teach my peers how to cope with theirs as well.  I learned a lot about myself that day; the most important lesson was that I learned how well I was actually doing in my own life.   Learning about issues such as cravings, holistically, has strengthened my self-awareness and mindfulness.
I am so grateful for this amazing opportunity to work with Dillan this semester.  I am planning to keep working with this extraordinary person and keep broadening my horizons.