Let's create a new holiday

Thoughts to pave the way

I have a grand idea to combine Presidents’ Day, Martin Luther King Jr Day, and the Super Bowl into one weekend. First, some history.

We know when Martin Lutheran King, Jr., was born—January 15—but we like our three-day weekends, so we set our marking of it on the third Monday in January. It wasn’t hard for us to do this, since we long ago moved George Washington’s birthday (February 22) to the third Monday in February, and tossed in Abraham Lincoln (February 12) to create Presidents’ Day and a three-day-weekend holiday.

It took years of discussion to create these holidays and their dates. We have begun the process with discussion regarding Halloween.

Halloween is tied to a church festival—All Saints Day is November 1, and Halloween is derived from All Hallows’ Eve—yet the way we use October 31 has nothing to do with November 1. So, the idea has been floated that we permanently move Halloween to the final Saturday in October. That would get it off a weekday evening, which is a school night for trick-or-treating-aged kids.

I think this is a no-brainer. There is nothing sacred about October 31 in how we mark the day. Let’s move it. We moved Washington, Lincoln, and MLK Jr. We survived just fine.

Since we survived moving those three, let’s do it again, and let’s do it up right.

Presidents Day, MLK Jr Day, and the Super Bowl

Since the Super Bowl became huge and was gradually moved to the evening—in the Eastern Time Zone, it isn’t done before 10:00 p.m.—plenty of folks take Monday off or begin the workday groggy and unproductive. For years, many have suggested we create a holiday of the day after the Super Bowl—a National Day of Recovery, if you will.

I have a bigger idea, and a better plan.

Presidents’ Day and MLK Jr Day are federal holidays. Some other folks get them off—I’m never sure whether our trash will be picked up or the kids will be in school—it’s quite a mishmash of who does or doesn’t have the day off.

We long ago (1971) combined Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays, and we survived that quite fine, thank you. And I don’t hear anyone feeling guilty about sliding MLK’s birthday around to suit our three-day-weekend desires. Worse, Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays have almost become an afterthought, a day on which mattresses are put on sale and not much else.

We still have events to properly mark MLK Jr’s birthday, and I believe this is important. And it certainly is not unimportant to reflect on what made Washington and Lincoln significant to us. Well, how about the accomplishments of some of our other presidents? And let’s not forget people such as the women who worked for the right to vote, and many other Americans who have been vital to our nation’s good?

Could we not honor all of them in a unique way, and be a stronger nation for it?

And could we do all of this and wrap it around the Super Bowl? You bet, we could.

It would be a four-day weekend—Friday through Monday—the first weekend in February, which is conveniently between MLK Jr Day and Presidents’ Day, and when the Super Bowl is played.

It would be holiday that is kept across the board—by the government and schools and businesses. Folks would get Friday and Monday off, the way they get Thanksgiving.

It would be called United Stand Americans (USA) Weekend.

Friday and Saturday would be used to mark things associated with Washington, Lincoln, and MLK Jr. The days would be used for parades, rallies, and speeches. We would do well to expand our remembrances, even deciding on a focus for each year. One year could be civil rights or the privileges of voting. We could branch out to American innovations and advancements in medicine, science, education, the arts, and industry. Truly, any person, group of people, or area of importance to our way of life in the USA could be highlighted as we remember those who pioneered that area and the blessings we all enjoy because of them.

In the days leading up to the weekend, our schools could concentrate on the year’s theme, providing our children of all ages specific insights they might not otherwise have ever been taught … and, perhaps, inspiring some of them in what to do with their lives.

On Sunday, we would do our thing with our Super Bowl festivities. Whether or not you’re into the game, you have this four-day weekend to plan something that’s special, and you wouldn’t need to travel on Sunday and cut short the weekend.

Super Bowl revelers wouldn’t have to take a personal day on Monday … or lie about why they stayed home because they are, ahem, under the weather.

By my suggesting we can highlight various people and milestones, I don’t mean to lessen observing the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. We can and should continue to note and relish his efforts and our benefits. Sadly, though, I fear that eventually it will happen as has occurred with our former leaders and Presidents’ Days: after my generation has passed away, which lived during MLK Jr’s lifetime, his day could become nothing more than another winter day off, and another opportunity for some area of business to corner their market with an annual sale.

We can hold tighter to MLK Jr. Day, restore dignity to Presidents’ Day, and create a USA-sized holiday for our nation by book-ending these days with the Super Bowl.

Knowing it will take years to create enough energy to ignite a fire under this, I hold the match before you.

Will you strike it?

Get Greg on Ellen


Would you give me a helping cyber hand?

I made a short video in which I tell Ellen DeGeneres the essentials about myself, my transition to female, why I’m back to being a guy, and that I wrote it all down.

I can’t think of a better voice than Ellen Degeneres’ with which to unite mine, to make my story widely known so that I can educate regarding gender issues, what it means to be transgender, and to grow compassion in our fellow human beings.

If the cyber community would widely share my video, perhaps I could grab Ellen’s attention. I am confident that if she watched it, she would love to have me as a guest on her show.

I can’t do it without you. Please, share my video, and encourage others to share it. Thank you!

Here’s the script from which I worked:

Hey, Ellen~

Greg Eilers, here.

Like you, I had a secret, one so big that I could never imagine it getting out.

Mine was a lifetime of gender conflict. Finally, when I was in my mid-fifties, I was hurting so badly I could no longer stuff it down.

Addressing it meant that I had to tell my family. And my whole world. And quit my job.

I was a Lutheran minister, Ellen—where they don’t have LGBTQ pastors. You can imagine how it went over when I revealed, “I have gender dysphoria.” And later when I said, “I need to transition, or else I’m either going to lose my mind or kill myself.”

Ellen, for three years—2015 to 2018—I lived as a trans woman. I transitioned legally and had every surgery. In 2016, Indianapolis Monthly published the article I wrote. (Show magazine.)

I know what your thinking. Hey, you’re a guy. What’s up with that?

That’s what I said! Soon after I finished my transition I stopped experiencing myself as a female. That was a new kind of gender dysphoria hell.

Thankfully, all along I was writing. (Show book.)

Those who’ve read my story say they couldn’t put it down. I want to use it to educate about gender issues and what it means to be transgender.

I published it myself, so I don’t have anyone to help me promote it. Ellen, will you help me get the word out? Will you have me on your show?

2019: 3 unthinkable things

2019 was mostly an excellent year. I achieved an older goal and a newer one, both which had seemed insurmountable, even unthinkable. Along the way, another unthinkable thing occurred, one that cut deeply.

I’ll get that one out of the way, so that I can end on a high note. In the spring, I was told that if I continued to go the local transgender support group, there were some who would not attend. Because I did not want to be a roadblock for anyone, I elected to stop attending.

Julie and I started going to this group in January 2015. We attended most meetings. We received support and provided it. Because Julie was able to grasp transitioning in a loving, compassionate manner, she was especially helpful to SOFFAs (significant others, family, friends, allies). With my pastoral experience and natural gift for gab, and because I experienced every step in transitioning, I too offered my share. Indeed, the Christian faith was a familiar topic, especially those suffering rejection by Christian family members, and I regularly provided insights and understanding.

A year earlier, I had resumed living as a male, so why would I want to continue to attend? The reasons were numerous. This had become my group. I had made some good friends. Retirement from the ministry had ripped me away from people; this group filled a void. And, because I like helping others, I could continue to be helpful.

Even more, what I experienced in feeling male after transitioning proved beneficial. As I related what was going on, others opened up. I broke the ground for some to admit that they don’t always feel strictly male or female, and it sometimes scares them because they transitioned.

A young trans woman approached me about what she was experiencing. She visited at our house a few times, where we had long talks. Soon, she resumed living as a guy. He’s doing fine now, feeling he’s sorted through things. I was happy to help him.

Others admitted that my detransitioning scared them. I suspect that one or two didn’t want me at the meetings because they feared what happened with me could happen with them.

One of those trans women unfriended me on Facebook, without saying a word. She and I had been close. It hurt a lot.

Indeed, the Facebook unfriending became rampant. No one told me, of course; they simply did it. I had to figure it out, recognizing I was no longer seeing them in my newsfeed.

Many didn’t unfriend me, but they’ve kept their distance. Only one local trans woman has acted the same toward me as she did when I was a trans woman.

I found it all so absurd. Some of the same people, who cry for acceptance, now rejected me. I was the same person I always had been, but by no longer identifying as transgender they turned from me.

They turned from me the way they hate how others turn from them.

And so it goes. There is no one group of people fully able to do for others what they ask from them.

My final meeting came right after I received my memoir in print. I brought it to the meeting. Before leaving, I addressed the group. I read some paragraphs, showing them how I was still supporting them. My final words to them were, “Whether or not I see you again, I will be speaking up for you and educating wherever I can.”

In 2020, I will publish my second book, Ministering to Transgender Christians.

That’s a nice segue to the older of the two major goals I achieved in 2019. I had long been wanting to write a book, which I thought would be a novel. (That sits in my computer, unfinished and untouched for years.) Ever since my therapist, in 2013, told me to write what I was experiencing with my gender dysphoria, I had been compiling my memoirs. In September 2018, I completed the first draft.

At that time, I knew nothing of self-publishing, so I had no clue whether I would be able to get it into print. When I learned that I could, cost free, publish it through Amazon, I was elated and took the plunge.

The other previously unthinkable goal, which I’ve only had since taking up jogging year-round in 2016, was to log one thousand miles in a year. I hit the mark the first week of November. As I type this on December 30, the following screenshot from my app reveals where I stand for 2019.

My 2020 goal? 1,200 miles—to average 100 per month.

My second 2020 goal? Publish my second book.

My third 2020 goal? Get cracking on promoting my books and my program of transgender education.

Forty years of running

I began distance running in 1980. That made 2019 my fortieth year as a jogger.

Though I began running in Montague, it wasn’t until 2018 that I ran by this namesake corner.

I’ve logged tens of thousands of miles in what I estimate to be more than 5,000 outings—nowadays sometimes running the entire route, occasionally walking it, and often with a bit of walking mixed in with the running.

As a kid, I always loved running. In baseball, roaming the outfield was my passion. In football, wide receiver and I were a perfect fit. Living a mile from high school, most afternoons I ran all the way home.

When I got married in December 1979, Kim and I made our first home across from Montague’s high school. I had taken up tennis, and the school’s tennis court had a concrete wall. When I had no partner, I beat the ball against the wall.

One summer-of-1980 day, as I was once again waging a battle royale against the wall, I paused to catch my breath. I gazed through the pine trees and past the baseball field, observing the track on which I had run in school. I put my tennis gear in the car. I walked over to the track.

I began to run.

I came back a few days later and ran some more. Soon, I was bored with the track. I hit the road.

I never stopped.

In the early years, I typically ran only two or three miles. In the 1990s, when at seminary, I got to know a guy who was a distance runner, who told me that to burn fat I needed to run longer. More like five miles per run.

So, that’s what I did.

Living most of my life in Michigan and Iowa, snow and cold kept my jogging to spring through autumn. For years, I didn’t do any exercise in the winter. Then, we got a treadmill. Finally, we bought an elliptical.

I survived the treadmill and elliptical by watching TV. Even the best of shows never gave me the level of enjoyment that running provides. Not only do I like the movement of running, I love being outdoors.

The second year we were in Indianapolis, three things happened to propel me toward year-round running. First, we had a mild winter, with little snow, which allowed me to get out often. Second, I started to use a running app, which made it fun to track my progress. Third, the elliptical broke.

Julie fixed the elliptical.

I kept running.

I have to run over a mile to get to this trail, the Fall Creek Greenway. It’s worth every drop of sweat.

I’ve always loved statistics, so I began recording my miles on my computer, wiping my app clean with each new year. 2016 was my first year as a twelve-month runner, so it was a no-brainer that I set personal bests in total miles and number of outings. That year, I achieved 799 miles on 171 outings, a 4.67 average.

In 2017, I had surgeries in January, April, and November. After my April surgery, I could hardly walk, much less run. Fifteen days post-surgery, I was able to walk 1.5 miles. I restarted using the app. In three weeks, I was back to walking five miles. After my surgeon allowed me to run, three weeks later I was back to five miles.

I was hoping to hit 1,000 miles for the year. The November surgery got in the way. Still, I was mighty pleased to log 987 miles on 201 outings, a 4.91 average.

Last year, I was determined to get that 1,000. I was on pace when, late in the summer, I experienced pain in my joints and loss of strength in my muscles. By autumn, I could barely run above a walk. I finally had to stop, altogether.

I learned that my hormone levels were too low. In November, I restarted hormone injections. In a few weeks, my bones and muscles rallied. I completed the year with 839 miles on 180 outings, a 4.66 average.

As 2019 began, I was in good health. I had to negotiate some pretty lousy spring weather—recall all the rain that kept the farmers from planting—and then in June I hurt my back. I made up for it with a personal best August, getting out 28 days for 177 miles, smashing my previous best month’s record by 26 miles.

The first week of November, I hit the magic 1,000. I set my sights on 1,200, hoping to average 100 miles a month for the year.

As I type this on December 15, I am on track to get it, at 1,142 miles.

If the weather holds out.

It’s supposed to snow like crazy this week and then be cold.

Rats.

Whether or not I beat the weather or not, I am delighted that in my fortieth year of running, at age 62, I’ve achieved personal bests in miles, outings (209 at the moment), and average (5.46).

I began running because I loved it. I continue running because I love it and because of the health benefits, which are many, especially for my heart. Last week was my annual trip to my cardiologist. I showed him my app. He was as impressed with my knees holding out as he was with my miles.

I hope to run as long as I’m able. I’d like to make it to age eighty. And, if I do, to keep going.

After forty years at this, there is one thing of which am most pleased. Despite running against some high winds, in some hard rain, and staving off approaching lightning—despite pulling muscles, falling five times, and once breaking a toe with more than a mile left to get home—despite the new dangers Indianapolis has brought: dogs chasing me and cars nearly hitting me—

On every one of the more than 5,000 times I left the house on foot, I came home under my own steam.

Every. Single. Time.

When I twice had large dogs chase me in 2019, I took to wearing this horn. If a dog chases me into the street, he gets the horn, no matter his size. I’ve already used it six times.

Dear Mom

Dear Mom~

You’ve been on my mind in a unique way. December 7 marks the day that I equal your age on the day that you died—the same number of months and days you lived into age sixty-two.

I was twenty-eight when you left this earthly pilgrimage. That was old enough to be past the years when young people easily evaluate the next generation as “you’re so old!” yet still not able to recognize that one’s early sixties shouldn’t be considered old at all.

I know that, now that I’ve reached it.

Of course, the paths of our lives determines how old we feel, and your path and mine couldn’t be more different. You suffered enough health struggles for the entire family. Your poor body was surely worn down, not to mention your spirit, when you received the news that you had cancer in your back and had to begin chemotherapy. While, only days later, your sudden death came as a shock, none of us were surprised to hear your doctor say, “She died of heart failure. The news of this cancer had hit her so hard. I think she had enough and finally gave up.”

The doctor’s suggestion caused none of us to argue that she didn’t know you, that you were a fighter, that you would never give up on life. Never give up on us.

Indeed, all you did, throughout your sixty-two years, was fight for life and fight for us. You soldiered on after being widowed from your first husband after only one year of marriage. You soldiered on through four miscarriages interspersed with the six babies you delivered. You soldiered on when Jim was wrongly medicated, leaving his brain so severely damaged that you and Dad had to sign him over to the state because you could not care for him and all of us, both physically and financially. And you soldiered on through the many assaults on your health.

Thus, when you were sixty-two and received not your first, not your second, but your third diagnosis of cancer, your three score and two years of life had been as full of trials as a person who lives to be ninety.

While I’ve had enough of my own troubles, I’ve arrived at this age-matching day in way better shape. My health has more closely matched Dad’s, who was active and quite healthy to age eighty-three, when a broken hip quickly took him down. Indeed, as Dad never stopped gardening, I am still at it and intend to follow his path.

Sure, bending and crouching made it more of a chore for Dad in his later years and he moved more slowly, but he kept at it. “Just peckin’ away,” we kids loved to say in our respect-filled way of mocking how he kept at everything he did—words that echo in my head when I am in my garden and ready to cash it in for the day, but I am moved to say to myself, “You can weed one more row. Then one more row. Keep peckin’ away.”

One thing I acquired from both you and Dad was flat feet. Do you recall how I had to quit football in high school, because the high arches in the cleats caused me so much pain I almost couldn’t walk after practice? Well, my feet have never gotten as bad as yours to have to wear orthopedic shoes. (How you hated those ugly shoes!) Thankfully, my flat feet could handle what we always called tennis shoes. Before you died, I had been jogging six years. Not only did I stick with it, I am days away from completing my fortieth year of running. And, I’m delighted to report that I’ve run more miles this year than ever—more than 1,100.

But, oh! I can’t deny that I’m sixty-two. For as fluidly I run my five- and six-mile routes, afterwards I find myself making noises when I get out of my chair, and it takes a few steps before I find my stride.

I recall your arthritis, your many aches and pains. I get it now. Age isn’t just a number. No matter how hard a person works to stay healthy, the body gradually wears down, wears out.

Since I can still do everything I want to do, I am grateful for how healthy I am at age sixty-two. I can’t imagine experiencing what happened to you. I can’t imagine being removed from my family so quickly. So prematurely.

We sure missed you. Truth be told, I still miss you. I am thankful for all the years I had with Dad and sad for all I didn’t get to share with you, even all of the crazy-tough stuff I endured this decade. Yet, because you are with the Lord, I’ve never wished you back to this earth. And though I’m in no hurry to leave this life, I also long to be with the Lord.

The too few years we had you were a gift. As on December 8 I will exceed the number of days we had you, I cherish the many gifts which comprise my life.

You taught me how to live well, to be a good person. Everything you gave me, taught me, instilled in me, continues to shape me. To live in me. Therefore, you continue to live in me.

You made the most of your sixty-two years. You made them a gift to us all.

I intend to make the most of the time I have left.

Till I see you in heaven,
your son,
Greg

A gift for any avid reader

This shopping season, are you looking a good book for an avid reader? My memoir, A Roller Coaster Through a Hurricane, is
a. about my experience as a transgender person.
b. filled with humorous, tragic, and compelling events from my life.
c. a story how I lived my Christian faith through adversity and rejection.
d. my love story with Julie.
e. all of the above.

On Thanksgiving, my granddaughter arranged my stock of books.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The first time I dared call a girl for a date could have gone better.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“You’ve Got Mail” has nothing on how Julie and I came together.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Personally and professionally, tragedy has been a frequent visitor.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I detail the transitioning steps for myself and all trans persons.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I learned a lot by living publicly as a transgender woman.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

That’s but a glimpse into the ride provided by A Roller Coaster Through a Hurricane!

Purchase it by clicking the BUY button, below:

Afraid to act

Saturday afternoon. Sitting in my living room. Watching TV. Movement on the street catches my eye.

A car had stopped in front of our house. A second then pulled up behind. This is not unusual. The streets don’t line up straight in our neighborhood, and we figure that’s why we get a lot of stopped cars and turnarounds, folks having gone where they didn’t intend.

These cars were facing so that the driver’s side was toward the street. They both had tinted windows, thus I couldn’t see who was inside.

To my amazement, the following happened: from the driver’s window of the first car, a large, plastic soda cup came flying over the car’s hood and trunk and into our ditch.

Within seconds, out came another cup. This one hit the hood of the rear car, bouncing off to land next to the first cup.

The cars remained in place.

My immediate thought was to walk out and talk with the driver. I was itching to do it, but I didn’t move. I didn’t move because all I could envision was the situation going awry.

I feared the driver would not listen to my calmly-asked question as to why he—I assume it was a guy—tossed the cups out. I feared that he would lash back at me. I feared even worse.

As I sat and watched the two vehicles idling, the sense grew in me that this was done on purpose, that the person was deliberate in throwing these cups into our yard. And the longer the two cars remained in place, the more this sense deepened, and the more I was offended.

It felt like a dare, as if these guys were saying, “We can do whatever we want. You gonna come out here and stop us?”

I’m not saying that’s what they were thinking. It’s most likely they simply were getting rid of the cups and didn’t give a hoot about where they landed. During my daily running throughout our neighborhood, I see so much trash—cups, fast food bags, cigarette packages, you name it—that it seems many don’t care, don’t think, just want to get rid of their trash.

As I post this two days after the cups were tossed, I’m still angry. I am frustrated. I can’t get this out of my head. I simply cannot understand this kind of behavior.

I am angry because of the littering—the lack of caring displayed, that a person can toss his trash wherever, that he didn’t care whose yard he littered. (Would he want others throwing trash in his yard?) Even more, I am both angry and frustrated that I did not feel safe to talk to him. (When I told Julie, she echoed my concern.)

I find this comes down to some basic questions.

  • If people feel free to toss their trash wherever, what more important things do they not care about?
  • If folks don’t feel safe bringing such things to the attention of litterers, how will they talk to each other about more serious matters?

Now, about the dog owners, who don’t keep their pets secured, and the dozen times this year dogs have chased me as I jogged by . . .