Photograph taken by author

It was about 5:00 am on Sunday and I was deep asleep. I started to itch. It jumped around to different parts of my body. I tried ignoring it and slipping back to sleep, but it would not let up. I took it as a hint that I had better things to do, so I decided to get up and journal.

I was still feeling raw from the events of the last week spent at a healing center in Costa Rica. The focus of the center was on the use of the psychedelic plant medicine ayahuasca.

Because my soul was crushed beyond my ability to describe it

Image from the Detroit Free Press

I’ve spent the majority of my life not being a fan of American country music.

I grew up listening to what would now be considered classic rock ‘n roll; Led Zeppelin, Foreigner, Queen. I moved on to heavy metal when I got into middle school. Rather than leaving genres behind, I just added to them. I didn’t let go of classic rock when I jumped into metal; I just piled it on top.

In college, I started getting into alternative/new wave music. Added it to the pile. The 90s brought me to grunge and indie rock. The pile gets higher…

Photo of the article in the local paper after I got back from Seattle

On March 1st, 1994, I left Columbus, Ohio on foot, bound for Seattle, Washington.

I headed west on Route 40 out of Columbus. I stayed on that road until just outside St. Louis. Rather than walking through a major city (with a bit of a reputation) with a backpack on my back, I decided to cut a bit south down along the Missouri River, then west again. Eventually, I figured I would add a little bit of north to my west.

I entered a small town right off the river. It still had sandbags outside buildings from the previous year’s…

How asking for help is not giving up.

Photo by author

It was 2005, I was in the basement of the condo that we could not afford and would lose in the near future. I was trying to come up with ways to kill myself without it looking like suicide.

Because I was not enough.

Re-reading my words, they seem oversimplified and shameful; a sad attempt to bottom-line something as vast as my soul. But, they contain the truth of it.

I had already asked for financial help twice. The money that I had borrowed from family was almost gone and my fledgling business was sinking ever faster.

There was no…

Photo by on

My daughter is moving out. She, her partner, and a close friend are getting an apartment. She has been planning this for a year. And when I say “planning” I mean spreadsheets and saving and meetings with her roommates to talk about minimum requirements.

Requirements for the apartment as well as requirements for successful cohabitation. Good Lord! What 20-year-old, who has never lived on her own before, knows to do that?

We had her paying rent for a year to get her used to that (she got the money back, but she formed the rent muscle memory). As a result…

Inside the maloka where so much healing takes place

A little over a month ago I quit my well-paying, cushy government job. I’d saved up money to cover my share of the bills and decided, at age 51, to take a year off to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. I’m calling this my “midlife process”, a preemptive way to avoid a full-blown “midlife crisis”.

Even with an incredibly supportive wife, family, and friends, it’s been harder emotionally than I anticipated. It was less about leaving the job and more about feeling guilty for taking the time for myself, bucking the status quo of…

Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

In case you are new, reading about my transgender daughter might help with context.

In the movie “The Sixth Sense”, the big reveal at the end that Bruce Willis was dead led to the kind of “oh!” that meant things that hadn’t made sense before now did. Things clicked, fell into place. It helped you understand things that happened in the movie that maybe you hadn’t understood. (Should I have prefaced that with a spoiler alert warning for a 22-year-old pop culture mega-hit movie?)

When my daughter came out to me as a transgender woman I did not…

Saguaro National Park outside Tucson AZ

Since my child came out as a, I’ve found that my emotional stumbling blocks to truly embracing this new reality have revealed themselves over time rather than all at once.

As an introvert who is most comfortable alone, I don’t have many close friends. I’m more okay with that than I’ve ever been, although marrying my best friend didn’t hurt. But, until my wife and I got married the person I was closest to was my son (if the pronoun usage is confusing read ). …

Pronouns on my daughter’s face…and in yours.

I’m hoping that recently having to change the pronouns I use when referring to my 20-year-old trans daughter improves neuroplasticity, a cool word I think of as brain flexibility. Younger brains tend to be more flexible. Based on the work we’ve been putting in on shifting gender pronouns, my brain should be clocking in at about 25 years old (half my biological age).

My daughter was in a relationship with a trans male for the better part of a year before she herself came out as trans. That gave us some time to get used to disassociating the pronouns we…

What I’m trying to avoid developing between me and my daughter (picture I took walking from Ohio to Washington back in ‘94)

I’m afraid to ask my transdaughter any questions about what she’s going through.

Afraid isn’t the right word…more of a physical compulsion against it. I’ll have the opportunity, I’ll think about it, then my stomach will contract and my throat will lock up.

After thinking about this for weeks, I think I figured out what’s going on in my head. There’s a part of me that thinks if I don’t ask her any questions there is still room for her to “change her mind”. Maybe she’ll go back to being that perfect boy around which my life revolved.

Those are…

Tony Leo

Professional Listener. Chief Pathfinder. Midlife Process Guide. Self-Health Evangelist. Change Monkey.

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