Life, love, hills and trees

Yesterday I was honoured to attend the memorial service for a friend, a trans friend and someone who had touched the lives of many, many people. A woman with a love for proper curry, although I dispute that Birmingham curry is best, I’ve eaten curry in Leicester! A woman of the most incredible engineering skills. A woman for whom we trekked all the way to the top of the hill for. A woman with a passion for nature, authenticity and connecting with people. A woman who in her own authenticity knew that what was important wasn’t passing, wasn’t hiding who she was but instead embracing those non-binary aspects. A woman who in doing so demonstrated to other trans people that it was OK, that conformity is not the only answer. Even in her passing she managed to connect people, brought us together and made the world a better place. There is no real message here other than that those we love are only with us for a short time but we are never made less by that love.

I don’t often talk about my personal life on here, this is a work blog after all, but personal is important too. Time out to look after yourself is as important as the time you spend helping other people. Enjoying life, building connections, getting out and about and off that train just occasionally is something I should perhaps do more often. Summer is coming and with it the time to go exploring, to take a holiday, to maybe just take one or two layers off. A shout out to everyone out there who is learning to love themselves, too find themselves and to become a bit more comfortable sharing their authentic self with those around them. You’ve got this! And on those days when you haven’t got the strength then we, your friends and allies, are there for you.

Last week was, as always, another full and fun week. On Tuesday Deanna, Dawn and I interviewed for our new Fundraising and Social Media Officer and soon you will be hearing Chrysalis news in another voice. Don’t worry, I’m not going to fall silent! I think I talk a bit too much for that.

Wednesday was a chance for the office team and volunteers to get together. Welcome to Kieran who spent a few hours in the office testing out our new induction process and getting to know what goes on at the hub of everything. Southampton you’re getting another great counsellor on the team.
Next there was lots of talk about Bournemouth and how much closer we are to opening a new Trans and Questioning Support group there, if you are interested in getting involved, as a volunteer or because you would like the chance to get some support whilst you explore your gender identity: what it means to you; how you want to progress; how others have experienced transition; and to receive counselling then contact us at the office. Finally on a very busy day we had the facilitator’s meeting. A chance for all our facilitators to come together, catch up on news, talk about their groups and share best practice.
Thursday I was in Basingstoke again. Thanks to Basingstoke Voluntary Action for letting me set up camp, there is something about being able to get the feel of a place and a sense of belonging. Chrysalis does not have remote locations, each and every place we run our groups is our home. The home of our volunteers and beneficiaries and support networks.

And then on Friday I was invited to take part in Southern Health’s VOX POP Diversity and Inclusion event. I got a chance to speak about Chrysalis, the work we do and the importance of acceptance, pronouns and of course toilets but more than that it was great to feel part of a bigger team. To be so welcomed and included. Coming from a large institution to running a small one has been a challenge in many ways and I hadn’t appreciated how much I enjoy bouncing ideas around with a diverse group, all of whom are experts in their own fields. So thank you to Ricky and Sarb, you may have thought Southern Health were getting all the benefits from the day but I can assure you Chrysalis and I have grown and developed too.

What’s on this week? Today I get to find out how the Facilitator’s Away Day went. Facilitated by Dr Mike Sims the team got to enjoy a day out in Warsash and to encounter each other. Thanks again to the Salterns Club for allowing us to use their space. This evening I’m off to Guildford courtesy off The Nuffield Theatre who are taking Devin and I to see a production of Rotterdam, which will be showing at the NST Campus on 6th-8th June, a comedy about gender, sexuality and being a long way from home. With a cast embodying all genders and none NST have worked closely with Chrysalis and The Art House to make sure that they are not only putting on an outstanding production but one that really considers our community. Those of you involved with Chrysalis will already have received your email with our discount code and more about the show. Thanks again too the Nuffield Team for thinking of us.

More about how it went tomorrow because after that I am *gasp* taking a holiday. I know! An actual holiday. Time away from Southampton. Time connecting with friends and also time when I won’t be doing all the driving. Since this last week Tiny car has travelled from Hampshire to Hertfordshire and to Herefordshire this will be a much needed rest.

See you all soon.