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Today was a rough day. One doesn't give up all in one go. Rather ones ability to function and cope is eroded over time. Like water eroding a rock. Each day passes unremarkably, but every single one is another drip that bores its way into the core, and if enough of them pass, the rock gives way. It's been 3650 days since my career, the only career I ever wanted and the one single thing I did for myself, was ended. I've not really had much of any job since. Just accumulated efforts at keeping going. Why am I still counting days you might ask? Because what is important is not that the career came to an end, but rather, how it did so. The job of a military medic or nurse is to bring people back, fix things, leave no one behind. Or as I once put it, "to fix the holes that other regiments make Sir" Well I got left behind, and aint no one in a hurry to fix the big fuckin hole that left in me. In truth it took me a while to figure out why after all this time I still - on occasion - struggle with the turn my life has taken. Sure I immerse myself in trans issues, and try to live up to those old ideas. At times I am at war with myself. I dislike failure and apathy. I loathe the creeping acceptance of both even more so. I never was great at letting ignorance go unchallenged either, but then in a small organisation such as a national military or indeed any community of common ethos, theres usually agreement on what that ignorance is. (whether that agreement is true or not is irrelevant) Civilian life aint like that. One mans ignorance is another rationality. The military is great at taking individual goals and making them collective. Oddly creating a micro society of sorts. Civilians... nah.. especially after 30 years of Neo liberalism, here in Britain, they just do what the fuck they want, based what is good for themselves. Why? because an idea of the common goal, effort or if you like "mission" is lost on those who seek to accumulate wealth for themselves and for its own sake.


I aspired to a successful career. To make both impact and a difference. That didn't happen. I got dumped unceremoniously back into a world that doesn't understand me, nor I it, and in which I never wanted much part anyways. Nothing is gonna change that. But so far its been a bloody long posting, and some days I just wanna call end ex.


But no. Because that would mean leaving people behind. And I know how painful that is. Plus, you're never outta the fight, until you make a choice to give up. Today was a rough day. However, today was not that day.


Tomorrow aint gonna be either.


If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”


Martin Luther King


It's funny, but whenever I tell people about some of the military stuff they always focus on the bombs bullets and bangs and assume that my difficulties stem from that, or some imagined hang overs from a patriarchal masculinity. For a time I did too. Still others assume that because I'm trans and by default part of a marginalised section of society that I would now be anti military, and anti police. They miss the point. The bit I actually struggle with is that all of it, the dead friends, the human cost and the bombs bullets and bangs didn't mean dick. No one cares. except of course those who's lives have been similarly touched.


The ideal that I devoted my efforts to when I donned the uniform was exposed as a lie by the manner in which my career ended. The uniform rendered a mere costume for the bias and bigotry that I had fondly imagined I was fighting against.


What price naivety eh?


It's been said many times in many places that soldiers fight for the guy next to them. For their people. Multiple reasons for joining become lost in that camaraderie. Therein hangs my current predicament. Given the clash between my choices and those of others, and the resultant isolation, Who or what am I fighting for?


Given my current field of operations is academia one might be forgiven for thinking of truth, wisdom & honour, and yet for our current government it seems those ideals are held in poor esteem and academia merely argues endlessly about what they might mean.


Perhaps progress would be a better goal. One that holds intrinsically within it both reason and method of survival: to keep up the effort. Fortunately for me, it's useful to remember that water doesn't always destroy rock: If the rock is constantly moving, and comes into contact with abrasives, then it can also polish it.


“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one”

Bruce Lee


So progress it is. Slow it may be, and yet a crawl is still a stubbornly optimistic forward movement. A refusal to choose defeat, or accept failure as permanent.


Till next time.


Sarah.

Once again life has given me pause revisit the word "identity" in the consideration of my own.

I'm fond of the saying that life gives you who you are, not what you want"


And that's true, in that life will be a direct response to the work you put into it, the thought you apply to guiding the direction of that work and the effort, commitment and desire for whatever it is you want from it.


But that's the catch isnt it? One has to know what one wants.

As ever, creating that knowledge is not a singular process. It requires others and is, in effect, a collaborative effort. Teachers, colleagues, parents, children, partners, and friends all have a part to play in creating our view of what we know about the world, and thus how me might decide what it is we want from it. This, inevitably includes ourselves, since we reside in that world.

Knowing what you want from life is therefore intimately wrapped up in knowing what you want from yourself, creating an ever evolving and unceasing cyclical process. One the philosopher Rosi Braidotti calls "becoming"




So what will you accept in life from yourself and others? Or Let in, & give power

and credence to? That stuff creates you, and is created by you. It creates reactions in others, that then ripple outward, affecting and creating the world's of others. Action, reaction. Cause and effect. Or more correctly Cause, inference, consideration, reflection, interpretation of probable meaning, contextual justification, then...and only then....effect.

If any of those intermediate steps are skewed, or blocked, for example by untruths and deceptions whether by self or others, then so too will the effect. Because whilst one retains autonomy to create ones effect from the causal incident, one is denied access to the components within which it is created. The 'effect' is therefore diverted, subverted, and changed, and the original outcome lost, perhaps forever.


This results in what GWF Hegel called, "an epistemic failure" A failure to know that which one thought one knew. So, be careful what you let in and consider appropriate justification in the creation of your identity.

Give your 'self' the time it needs. Again Hegel recognised this. Immediacy being a reliable component of a failure to know that which one thought one knew.

Examine the intersections of life carefully. And be mindful that every body travels it's own path through life, navigated by it's owners justifications. A path that may be very divergent from your own, and thus as a result is also not yet 'known' to you.


The other half of the story..


Of course 'knowing' what it is you would wish for, and placing oneself in relation to others is important. However we also need to have belief in ourselves & our abilities. To believe that, once known, what we are aiming for is both possible and or attainable. To have faith in our own ability to navigate the world, to persevere in the face of hardship, derision, disbelief, distraction and derailment.


So be micro ambitious. Achieve. Delay gratification. Work on what is in front of you. Ignore those who call you obsessed, deluded, obnoxious, bigoted, opinionated, or just plain stupid. If They're complaining then you're probably not as wrong as they suggest. Leave them behind if you must. Learn. Read and become the authority in your own life. There is a world of difference between 'believing in an authority' and 'being that authority'. Examining ones own

bias means critiquing how one acquired ones views, from whom, and for who's purpose?

It takes effort, humility, and no small amount of resolve. But then, once it is done, we move away from falsehood. Toward, it is hoped, an eventual truth.

Make no mistake, life, and the people in it, will place derailments and falsehoods in the path. Some sadly do not wish your endeavours to meet with success for they believe their success depends on your failure. (Yes current UK government I'm looking at you)

But no matter. Let them. No matter how hard some fight for the status quo, change is inevitable. Let those who would "rather be right than rich" fondly believe they are so, because their mistake lays in poorly defining both.

Your job is simple. Know YOUR path. and forge it. till next time


Sarah@stubbornlyoptimistic.me


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Today is the 122nd Corps day of the Royal Army medical corps. (RAMC), having been formed by royal warrant in 1898. This sunny, somewhat quiet day finds me in an introspective mood.

I wore the beret of the RAMC from 1994- 2004. 4 years Longer than the subsequent Nursing Corps one. Its hardly surprising then that the corps and its motto "in arduis fidelis" has had a lasting impression upon my life.


So it's probably even less surprising that on days like today I get a little introspective. Had I stayed with the medics until the present day I would have served 19 years in the regular forces. Instead life had other plans for me and I find myself engaged in other battles. Its weird you might think, being sat here in 2020 writing about events that exist now only in memory, looking at my beret and stable belt that sit in the corner of my office and the signed picture of the guys and girls from the JNCO cadre that I still have on my wall.


Yet, sometimes we find ourselves forged by efforts and events long past. Their impact not truly recognised until years later. We carry with us the regret for poor decisions mixed with pride in having been places and done stuff that was different, difficult and challenging. All done in the name of serving a purpose bigger than ourselves. Yes of course, for me thats tinged with a little annoyance at the betrayals and injustices that ultimately lead to where I am today, but in life, you make ya choices and you have to live with them.

Decisions Decisions And what of those choices? In recognising my own sense of self as a trans person I made some pretty big ones. You dont just wake up one morning and find you've gone through a gender transition. (Though many might wish it so) You make choices, you go through stages, processes & learning. It's messy, complex, disorganised and disorientating, and not without pain and consequence. Conflicting ideas and opinions, some qualified, others not so much, about how and why that learning needs to be done and what it should look like are all around. As the saying goes, "opinions are like arseholes, we all have one" and in the gender culture wars that are currently raging you will find many of both. Not everyone will be right of course. and eventually societies will navigate their course through current dilemmas and disagreements. I hope they do so in a way that minimises individual and systemic injustices to those most at risk.

In the mean time I'll continue to fight for my 'Colours' until I run out of energy, bandages or ammo. However the first rule of being a medic, and one of the very first things I was told all those years ago after walking through the doors of Fenham barracks is: "don't get shot, cos if the medic goes down were all fucked"


Getting a little R&R


Whilst I left the military, it never really left me. (abandoned yes, but left, no) I found philosophy and stoicism, which resonated somewhat. But then what is a stoic resolve if not to be "steadfast in adversity"? The very motto I wore for a decade. 'Being me' isn't something I can just take a break from, just like signing the rifle back into the armoury and going on leave doesn't mean you stop 'being a soldier'. In these current culture wars where existence is resistance, how then does one find a little peace and some rest and recuperation?


Many in my position chose literal solitude, since they're content with themselves and it is the barrage of 'opinion' from others that causes injury. Others just hide, whether that be in a closet of self denial or under the cloak of stealthy 'existence'. Still others simply deny that there is a conflict at all, suggesting all is well with the world. Unsurprisingly there is also strength in numbers, so some may find support and strength in the company of others. like minded and similarly driven. But theres the catch. "like minded" A walking contradiction such as myself rarely finds like minded souls. And if they ever do, recognition of them is hindered by complications of history etc. After all there probably aint all that many ex military leftie SJW former nurses who are lesbian women with a trans history now are there? (and how many of those have trust issues the size of the hoover dam?) In nursing we used to talk about viewing people "holistically" and not as merely their condition, disorder or injury. Yet 'being me' is to 'be' trans, and 'know' myself as such. So how do we get some down time from the constant 'being' of that which is both freedom and prison?


Simply by remembering, on days such as today, Who we are, not what. And why we fight.


Someone once told me "I am a lover not a fighter" At the time I didn't realise the false dichotomy in those words. However today it is starkly apparent.


Todays fights are tomorrow's rights. Our current struggles against the UK and US governments, and entrenched racial and gendered biases need to continue so that those who come after us have no need to repeat the same battles in the same ways.


What does the soldier fight for? Sure flag and ideals and all that, but they fight for their brothers in arms. Their sisters, lovers, fathers, mothers and others. for those beside them in the field and back home.


In 1916 John Maxwell Edwards wrote the words heard at every remembrance parade:



"When you go home tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow we gave our today"


I have come to realise that the conflict I find myself current engaged in will consume my today and all the tomorrows I have left. It awards no medals, and heralds no citations. It aint no hero gig either, merely necessary. Having but one parade a year that is more protest march than celebration is proof that refusing to be a victim is not the same as ignoring victimisation. Letting go of the past to live in the present is all well and good. but on occasion our past is the very reason for us inhabiting our present as it exists. And that present, for me at least, is in effect, a Cold War.


One where words are repurposed and weaponised to divide those on the margins of society and allow the injustices inherent in the status quo to persist. Because of who I am, I cannot let that stand unchallenged. I fear there is much adversity ahead for LGBTQIA+ and BAME people. We will all need to be steadfast.


So rest up.


till next time.


Sarah@stubbornlyoptimistic.me.

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