It seems, as the years go by, that the real message of this time of the year has faded to overstuffing oneself on turkey, or whatever passes for the holiday meal and vegging out in front of the TV or computer, engaging in whatever non-activity one prefers.
To me, the true meaning of this holiday, that of being grateful for what one has received in life, has faded into self indulgence and solitude from the scary world outside one's "safe place." In this post, I shall attempt to re-affirm what is truly important to me in my life.
I am grateful for my birth family. Yes, there are a few who refuse to acknowlege who and what I have become, but for the most part, they all understand that it wasn't ever their choice to make, and most have come to accept that, even if they don't fully comprehend why I had to morph into Cathy, they accept that it IS my life to live, not theirs. I guess a semi-armed truce is better than the alternative.
I am grateful for my "family of choice." Those who know me online, and those who know me in "real life," all of those who have accepted Cathy for who she is and not what they wished her to be. They have made my journey into the unknown climes of femininity an easier task than it could otherwise have been.
I am grateful for the efforts of Erin, her staff and volunteers who have invested their time and efforts to try to keep this place open for business. Piper has given up much more profitable work to devote herself to keeping cranky, undependable and outdated equipment chugging along, keeping our place a place of comfort, experimentation and entertainment as well as a place to try our hands at that ever uncertain, scary profession(?) of writing...expressing our fantasies, our hopes, our dreams and our troubles.
I am grateful to ALL those who dare to write and present it to us... for FREE, to help assuage our feelings of lonliness, of disenfrangement (is that a word?) our seperation from what seems like an uncaring world.
I am grateful to ALL of those who give freely, as much as they can to help keep Top Shelf open and running so we can all feel it's a safe place to open our hearts and minds, to express what's in our souls.
I am grateful to a loving, caring God for accepting me back into the fold of belief in him/her. For too long I doubted, I wondered, I refused to accept that faith was a real thing.
I have found friends, I have found family, I have found faith. All of those thanks to this thing called the internet.
To a special few, they know who they are, I have found the love, the friendship, the acceptance that I longed for all my life. Through travel, through service to my country, I have never found such wonderful people as I have found in you, my online family of the heart. Grover, Paula, Persephone, Beverly, Gwen, Scotty, Ariel, Angela, Peter, Erin, Larry, Tina. You have made my life much more enjoyable, made me feel important, made me feel loved, appreciated and needed.
My most heartfelt thanks to ALL of you who have communicated with me over these past 16 years both in real life and over the internet. You have enriched my life. I hope I have done the same for you.
I hope and pray for all of you out there in the internet world and in real life. I wish you all healthy lives full of love and true friendships full of understanding and tolerance.
God Bless us.... every one.
Catherine Linda Michel