• Stephanie Ashton

Music Sounds Better With You

Stardust, 1998

This blog is all about what I have been up to in October, and my thoughts and feelings on Translife that go along with it.

True to my Gemini nature I approach pretty much everything in life with a happy and carefree nature. However, as the warm and bright days of summer pass and we skip merrily towards Christmas, I can be observed to change a little and become more serious and reflective on all aspects of my life. Whilst many dear readers may think it is wise to slow down and think about life from time to time, the unfortunate side effect with my reflective side is that I can lose focus and drive. And that is exactly what has occurred in the past three weeks.

Off the back of a really great time in Birmingham at the end of last month, it looked like I was going to buck the trend this year and stay on top form through October and November. Plans fell into place for meeting dear friends and attend some really great events in the run up to Christmas. Brilliant. Then I received my Vampirette pictures and squealed like a schoolgirl with sheer delight at how well my project has turned out. And yet, none of these positives could reverse my declining mood or growing sense of anxiety for very long. So, in a matter of days in October I deflated like a flan in a cupboard. Work pressure, some unpleasantness in my personal life, and overlapping and confusing work/social engagements quickly left me feeling a little low and confused in my emotions.

For those that know me in real life this will instantly sound like complete 'tosh.' It is well known that my core values of love, hope and tolerance keep me upright and buoyant in nearly all situations. If we have a personal theme tune for our lives running in our heads then mine would be Bowie's Jean Genie for boy-me, and Blondie's Atomic for girl-me. And yet my energising theme tunes have been a lot quieter this month. Why is that? Because Steffie has smashed up my music system.

Little Red Riding Steffie

The root cause of my problem is that I have been enjoying myself a lot this year, and I mean ALOT. I have made lots of new friends, partied hard, had brilliant experiences and generally lived the high life. Somewhat ironically however, all this short-term girl fun has been done at the expense of making serious progress towards the longer-term goal of transitioning. I am back at my old game of putting it off again because I am living so much in the here and now. In fairness I have started laser facial treatment and working on weight but its all a bit flimsy to be honest. Looking for a job as Steffie has gone on the back burner, a key factor in setting me free. I have spent way too much time messaging and time on social media (but then don't we all?) And when it comes to money...well I have been burning it like it is going out of fashion. Damn you fashion designers for knowing my weakness for Diamante clad objectives of any description!

In summary I think I have come to the stage where the desire to go further into my female life cannot be placated any more with any amount of fun times or possession of shiny things (not even Velvet and Diamante Manolo Blahnik shoes...my god this is serious!) The long shadow of Stephanie seems to be cast over everything I am doing, and she is watching intently for progress. It is also true that I am finding it increasingly difficult to stop girl-me behaviour breaking through into what is left of my boy life. As a result of these feelings I am finding myself getting more than a little anxious and confused on occasion.

I have therefore decided that after December I am not committing to any more events or doing any more photo-shoots until I have an appointment with my consultant to get hormones progressed, and have been to Facial Team in Spain to explore that aspect of transitioning. No more distractions - time for action. This new plan does not address what on earth I am going to do for a professional job, that I must confess. Maintaining a professional job in my current line of work is difficult so there will have to be some serious changes, but I have some new ideas on that front and am committing to resolving this issue in the next 6 months. Hopefully, that will be sufficient action to maintain a sense of making progress and keep the anxiety at bay.

Can still placate her with wine...for now...

I came across the title of this blog whilst listening to some old school French House Music and it got me thinking. The Music Sounds Better with You...yes it really does. Time to gather friends and loved ones together and have some fun to pick up my mood. So last Friday I went on a date with a guy I have been friends with for a while and it is only fair to say, it was a complete and unmitigated disaster. It wasn't a date as such in truth; rather two friends going out for dinner and drinks. And yet, the poor chap got so super awkward it was like having dinner with the rain-man.

Fortunately, my dear friend Yanira messaged mid-dessert asking if I fancied a chat. I didn't need a better excuse to escape this situation and immediately played the card "my bestie has an emergency and I need to leave." Nothing short of throwing money down on the table for the bill, I said thanks for the "nice time" and made a sharp exit. In under 20 minutes I was home and had my kitty slippers on...what?! my heels were killing me, and I love my kitty slips!

Heels abandoned and Kitty slippers on...yeah!

Once settled at home with a glass of wine in hand, I proceeded to have a lovely chat with my friend on Facetime. Now this particular friend is funny beyond belief and we just really spark silliness in each other with the result that I actually got stomach pains from laughing so much, again. It is not a word of a lie; we genuinely have to stop speaking to each other after 30 minutes in order to avoid sustaining life threatening injuries from laughing so much.

No sooner had I put the phone down to Yanira, than my 'niece' Ashlee Brook messaged me and then we started into a lengthy and silly "show and tell" session. I like Ashlee very much and we really do have a laugh with this silly "show me a sign" game we started playing. Then finally, Anna started messaging as she was also out and about. We shared pictures of our nights out and made arrangements to try and meet up soon. The end result of all this fun girl chats was that my mood was massively uplifted and reminded me just how important it is for girls like us to have good friends with whom we really connect and seek support from time to time.

Myself and Ashlee Brookes play this silly game of saying hello to each other with signs. Compared to the rest of my life it seems quite normal

Quick Cuppa with Anna before going to bed

As the rest of my weekend would be dominated by a family event, I decided to have Friday off work so that I could get a Steffie blast before going to endure the oddness of my relations. I decided to spend the day playing with new make-up I have bought recently and to take some pictures of new dresses for events planned in the coming months.

Nothing usually placates the girl-in-me quite like some time dedicated to just mucking around with make-up and dressing up. Whilst some girls may find make-up a chore, I absolutely love playing with new products and brushes, even if my ageing face is increasingly giving me problems with hooded eyelids and saggy bits. Facial surgeon over here please!!

So, below is a picture of my bathroom shelf with my emergency travel make-up kit spread all over the place. Yes, my travel kit contains more products than many girls own in total but as I said I adore playing with make-up. So, on Friday I spent hours playing with two new Revolutions palettes I have bought. Now without being a snob I normally only ever wear Bobbi Brown or Urban Decay because I know they agree with my skin which can get dry easily. However, I am super excited about this Rachel Leary palette by Revolutions as it has brilliant eye shadows and contour colours in one which is nice. Mixed with some of the eye shadows from Revolutions Imogenation tray you can create some really fun looks. Given that Revolutions is cheap(ish) make-up it is a real winner in my book.

Revolutions Rachel Leary set

Okay, so whilst on the subject of make-up products I am sure I wrote somewhere I would never do reviews but so many people ask me about what I use, I thought: what the hey! In the first set of pics below is the Clarins moisturiser I use, and it is brilliant. I can put any foundation on this, and it is always great. Next is Mac Full Coverage foundation which I swear by. Along next is Mac prep and prime translucent powder.

I will be honest and say I normally use Ben Nye powder day to day, but when I want perfect finish then prep and prime totally rocks. Next in line is NARS concealer and this is the best product on the planet. I use this around my eyes and always carry it on a night out in case I need 'running repairs.' Finally, we have NYX Sweet Cheeks contour palette which I quite like but in fairness there are many great contour palettes out there.

Now we can get onto some really fun products in the pictures below. I love mink false eye lashes and I buy mine in a tray from China for $6 USD off Amazon. It is criminal what the beauty stores charge for one set of ordinary lashes. Next up is Mascara. Forget all that big brushes nonsense with product falling down your face. The little brush in the Mac extended play is dead easy to use and totally the business.

Then we come onto highlighters which I adore. My favourite at present is Illamasqua liquid gold which looks absolutely stunning around the eyes, on lips and even on shoulders. And last but not least comes lipsticks. My love affair with NARS continues and whoever came up with the idea of a crayon lipstick deserves a Nobel peace prize. We have all drawn with crayons since childhood, so you basically need to have forgotten everything you have ever known not to be able to use this. Even completely trollied, I can get my lippy back on before going home at 2am.

After that rather large sidetrack into make-up...I did warn you about lack of focus this month...I will continue my story. So last Friday I set up my camera and lights and took some pictures to see what I would look like in new outfits I have bought recently. I have not included in this post everything I tried on or else there will be no surprise factor left when I wear them out. People will say, oh yes, I have seen her wearing that dress in loads of pictures online lol Well, a girl has to think about these things!

So, here comes the fun pictures. When I want to have a sustained photo session at home, I typically lay out all my outfits so that I do not miss anything. To avoid my cat either then sleeping on or clawing my dresses he gets the big heave-ho outside. Well, the outrage caused by putting him outside last Friday was incredible. 'You want to put me, your loving companion, outside on a cold day like this with no food?' he seemed to say. In fact, my mog was so annoyed, he decided to photo bomb me from the other side of the patio doors! This is my cats first appearance on social media and our first combined shoot so please be kind.

The Annoyance of Freddie Kits

Kitty: "You look fat in that white dress by the way..."

Well, that is a little bit about my October so far. Personal strife continues and work is a pig, but I am looking forward to Halloween and finally posting my Vampirette pictures for those with an interest to view. I have also given my website a severe face lift in the past weeks and that will go live on Halloween also.

Final Remarks

None of us are immune to the ups and downs that go with trans life, or life in general for that matter. It would be easy to say that life would be easier if we did not have the desire to dress and/or transition. However, I know for myself this is a complete lie. Firstly, I would just get myself in to some other trouble (its my nature - dogs bark) but also why deprive myself of my souls calling to do something I love. Indeed, if I do not make more progress, I fear my anxiety will only continue to grow. Maybe it is interesting for others to read that I have many of the same highs and lows as anyone else...it is not all just "plain sailing."

Finally, always cherish your dear friends who can lift you in the bad times and who can look to you for support in their moments of need. My friends lifted me last weekend just when I needed it and set me off on a happier path. Take care dear readers and see you on Halloween xx