Leslie McMurray

Living life as a trans woman isn’t easy. In fact, it can be hard as hell. It hurts; it’s expensive, and at times can seem an insurmountable challenge. There are still many obstacles stacked before us that all seem to conspire to derail transition, or worse.

We need look no further than our annual observation of Transgender Day of Remembrance each Nov. 20 to illustrate the challenges and obstacles. Getting caught up in those challenges can be tempting. Poor me syndrome can creep in.

So I thought I’d share a tool I came across many years ago to help in facing the challenges. It works for me, and I hope it can help others, too.

I used to live in the mountains of Northern California, not far from Lake Tahoe. It was truly beautiful there. Lots of tall trees, free-running creeks and rivers and, of course, snow capped mountains.

But trying to plant a garden was a real chore. There were hungry deer eager to eat almost anything we planted. The ground was hard and had lots of rocks, from small baseball-sized ones to those too big to lift.

After digging and digging and extracting these rocks and tossing them into a pile, we decided to make a rock garden of sorts. (We planted flowers, too, eventually.)

This rock garden took shape as a kind of border around the front lawn. It was a couple of feet wide and ran maybe 30 feet long at first, then grew from there.

I don’t recall where I first heard the idea but I loved it right away: Place every stone with a purpose and assign a blessing in your life to it. This was a wonderful exercise in living in gratitude because there were a LOT of rocks.

The blessings were easy at first: One for each of my two daughters, my wife at the time, a roof over my head, our two beloved dogs, a good job, enough food to eat, good health — and so it went.

After a while though became more of a challenge. But the funny thing was, it sort of forced me to really set my mind on just how fortunate I was.

Most of us are really blessed far beyond what we are aware of on a daily basis.

Comfortable bed? Many people in the world lack even that. Music? Yep. Good friends? How about a rock for each one. Treasured memories? Sunny days? Sure! Rainy nights in front of a fire? Absolutely.

You get the idea. No matter how many rocks we found around the property and in the ground, we always found blessings to assign them.

You can do it with rocks, or collectable spoons or stuffed animals or whatever you want. It’s even fun to go back and remember which rock was which blessing.

Is life a challenge sometimes? Yes. Is that going to change? Not anytime soon, no. Matter of fact, it can sometimes be a real beat-down.

But focusing on the good things we have in our lives can be a real attitude adjustment. Living life from a place of gratitude can really help your outlook.

For each one of you that read this and get something out of it, I’ve got a rock with your name on it. Please accept my deepest thanks.                     •

Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 21, 2014