The Big, Fat, REWRITE POST

And now, for something completely different.

I am rewriting someone else’s book, so I decided to come here for a moment, and tell you what I’ve learned about how to go about the revision.
I find it really effective.
First, you’ll need 11 colors of sticky notes. YES, ELEVEN. I am doing this particular job with only seven.
Second, you’ll need to print out four copies of the book.
I’m only printing out one, as this is a short book, and I feel I can read my own writing. haha. (we’ll see if I regret that.)

You’re going to take a color of sticky note, and read through it with one focus each time, per color.

First read: mark the things you like. Moments that speak to you. Moments the voice feels strong, the story coherent; whatever your reason, just mark them. If you have moments later on (you will) of feeling discouraged, you can come back and look at these things you’ve marked.

Second read: take another color, and mark the things you do not like. Look for places where the storytelling falls flat, there’s too much explanation, exposition that doesn’t arise out of action, stilted language flow, voice not matching character, character’s voices sounding too alike.

Third read through: Mark big picture issues.
Fourth: mark craft issues
Fifth: mark flow issues

GENRE: Mark everything that doesn’t suit the requirements of your genre. (this does *not necessarily fall into a rewrite, as sometimes we can blend genres or break the rules, but we really have to be aware we’re breaking them, and do it wisely.*)

Conflict & tension: a sense of urgency drives ALL fiction, regardless of genre. Especially these days, we need to write everything as though it is a thriller, and make sure readers want to keep turning the page. Mark places where the air goes out of the scene, or where you make a predictable choice.

In your structure, make sure the story has a thread, a through line that drives the reader through the story.

keep things personal.  Exploit your character’s weaknesses and feelings.
Add time pressure, if you can.

Add a sticky note where you feel you can create more urgency.

Clear Conflict/ Dilemma: Describe it in one or two sentences. Write it down on a post-it and mark the book in the color you choose as soon as that conflict appears. If the note doesn’t show up until a quarter of the way through, revise it to be sooner.

the “holy grail” must become increasingly difficult for the characters to attain.

PLOT: take a sticky note and summarize plot twist. mark the places where this occurs.

Character:  don’t let one character have the upper hand all the way through. who are the main characters, and what do they want? What is in their way? What are they willing to do to attain what they want?
MOTIVATIONS: mark spots where this shows up, and see how you can make it more clear.

Scene: if you come across a scene that does not add to or move the plot forward, mark it

Dialogue: characters must have different voices, motivations, points of view, reactions,

another read through: Bring your characters to life:
give us first impressions.
add small details (glance at the watch, etc) that capture important details of character in the way they react to things. What they say or don’t say.

more sticky notes: mark sections where you dump a character’s history and CUT THEM ALL. Instead, add a sentence or two, tops, and only if it’s important.

Think about your relationship with your reader as a new relationship – one in which you would not discuss your exes, being a savvy and caring person who wants to keep your new relationship a healthy one. You’d only mention things about your exes *if it somehow applied to your current relationship, or was something your new love needed to know.* don’t jeapordize your relationship with your readers by dumping character details on them!

rather than telling, show who they are in how they interact or react. And taking a reaction as an excuse to dump “this reminded her of the time her father…” blah blah is HORRIBLE – just don’t do it.

make sure the details make your characters relatable. Not every character can be the best, the youngest, the top, the smartest…we hate them already.

Take more post-its and find spots where you can add depth to your character.

more post – its: hunt down stereotypes and get rid of them, revise them, or use them to your advantage.

Something has to affect the characters in order to make them do something. MOVE THAT PLOT.

Another color: normal world. Do you have it? Mark it.
Inciting Incident? Mark it.

Middle: do events deepen the conflict?

Is there a mirror moment/ point of no return/ all or nothing? Mark it

A dark moment when all seems lost? “Pinch point” – mark it. if you don’t have it, mark that TOO.

Do events speed up or delay the moment of conflict?

END: is it in line with the setup in the beginning?
Is it in line with the character’s motivation?

If it is a happy ending, did you have a moment in the middle where all seemed lost?
If it is a tragic ending, did you have a moment in the middle where all seemed settled and won?

Main plot ought to be able to be summarized in cause and effect.
Fiction is not haphazard as life is.

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so. Steps 1-4

1) genre
2) conflict
3) character
4) plot 

5) tighten manuscript : 80,000 words – 100,000. for YA, 60,000. 

if manuscript is 20k off, trim it.

Take out post-its and find things to cut. Are you getting to the point as efficiently as possible?

-Make us wait for revealing character’s background/ story until it is relevant.
– Until it is relevant, show it slightly in behavior.

CUT: transitions/ detailed background information:
*no history lessons, and no science lessons!

Do your worldbuilding within scenes. With action.
Don’t introduce or lead into every scene. Begin and end in the middle, it creates momentum.

Skip descriptions of the mundane.

Make sure every scene contributes to overall plot & conflict.

AVOID purely transitional dialogue to put information forward.

Hunt down non-dialogues and mark them to be cut.
Tension is vital. Characters can argue, tease, flirt, etc… just don’t let them stand around explaining things to each other.

MARK ALL ADVERBS AND PASSIVE VOICE.

POV:
Whose story is it?

How might the reader relate to the character? Intimately, or from the outside?

First person: World through the character’s eyes.
Third: we see the world over the character’s shoulder
Omniscient: as a reader, we don’t identify, but remain at a distance.

There are shades of these, but I don’t feel like writing about them, as this is already too long! ( Do you see why I rarely edit my blog? xD)

Don’t break POV. Don’t show things the character couldn’t possibly know, if you are in first person. Mark all places this kind of thing happens.

Don’t confuse 3rd person and omniscient: don’t “head jump” from character to character. If you are in omniscient, you CAN’T share the characters’ thoughts.

Mark slip-ups with yet more sticky notes! These slip-ups hide, so go carefully here.

7) VOICE & STYLE
the narrator is NOT the same as you.
It’s a voice, a stance you take to tell the story.
Writing style must serve the story.  Mark any place where the language is more YOU than the narrator.

Use sticky notes to mark where you can improve your imagery. If we are reminded we’re reading a story, we put the book down.

Step 8: Storytelling  
You’ve all heard it. “Show, don’t tell.” Observe, rather than comment. Give detail, rather than summarize. BUT if the “showing” is slowing down the pace, tell some things. Tell the things that can be throwaways.
Telling is on-the-nose explanation; showing gives the world in details that allows us to experience it.
Try to involve all our senses in narration. Watch & inhabit the world around the character. Using “dead time” (like at bus stops or something) to do this is a good trick.

Use stickies to mark places where you can add more detail.
Use stickies to mark places where the pacing seems to get bogged down, and needs to speed along.

Steps 9- 10: Structure

9: Read the work out loud to find missing and misspelled words. You’ll notice your “favorite words” that you use too often.
Mark sentences that are just too complicated.

You’ll learn where your language makes music, with variations in sentence and word length, and where it doesn’t.

Check for :  characters missing/ descriptions off
Timeline off or not tight enough
Give sense of urgency, again, it needs to sing on every page.

First page needs to foreshadow the last: work on the first page LAST.

step 10: THE BEGINNING
The first page and a half are one unit
The first 30 pages: one unit

First page has to have a “hook”
First 30 have to get the story going and reel us in.

If 30 pages do nothing but explain the premise, REVISE.

The beginning has to firmly ground the character and reader in a time and place, establish and transport us into the world immediately.  In the beginning, certain promises are made. Promises of : voice/ genre/ character/ possible goal/quest. We have to be really mindful about breaking these promises, or we risk reader betrayal. It can be done, but it’s a deliberate choice to make.

Urgency drives fiction
Sticky notes are your colorful road map.
Start revision with big picture things, then work your way into the small ones.

Repeat the process until you 1) can’t improve it any more or 2) can’t behave like a human anymore.

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Closure & Refocus

I’m sure you’ve heard by now the saying
“What you focus on, grows.”
or “Energy flows where attention goes.” 

This is so true. I look back through my blog, and for YEARS – yearsandyearsandyears – I think probably since my self-imposed near-decade of singleladyship ended in around 2009 – I have been focusing on relationship.

Specifically, on what is “broken.” What “isn’t working”
Oh dear.
Okay. That’s no longer helpful, so I’m going to close this out with a few final lessons, and shift this huge ocean liner to head toward what is having me wake up each morning with joy bubbling in my heart and soul. It’s got nothing to do with relationships (not romantic ones!) and everything to do with connectedness. With ALL relationships. With life purpose. With the reason I am here in this funny, crazy old life.

But first (the tranya-) the last two lessons (for a while, until there are more…because you know me, I simply cannot stop tinkering and trying to figure out the human psyche. I can’t. We fascinate me so!)

Lesson 1: It isn’t broken. 
Oh dear sweet hearrrrrrt … your relationship is not broken.
Whatever we are attracted to, whatever we attract, that person is resonating within our life patterns. We are drawn powerfully to that which we feel we either needed to repair early on, or need to learn. Or maybe it’s familiar. Maybe that person who is “just not that into you” is reflecting the way you feel about yourself, and you need to be more “into you” before you can even accept love! Ever thought about that? If we meet those who truly care about us with a feeling of dismissal or even contempt, and then we find ourselves scrambling after that which rejects us, there’s kiiinnnnnda something important to be learned there. Don’t ya think?
So: say you keep meeting really critical, nitpicky partners, and there’s a small ache in your heart that draws you powerfully to fix, strive, anxiously check, and strive mightily to please that person. Their actions toward you become almost an obsession. Not much else in life seems as important… and then sometimes there’s a powerful flood of goodness when you’re rewarded with a smile or words of affirmation or a gift…well.

It’s not broken. That ache, that pain, that thing that you think only their presence, their happiness can “fix” – if you feel a little pang of incompleteness when that person is distant, and feel a powerful joy when they are happy with you? That’s a signal right there. If you find yourself saying “If he would JUST -” (anything. fill in the blank. For me it was “JUST be present with me and appreciate what we are and have together” – well that JUST is a reaaaaally tall order, actually!-) These things are signs that the “incompleteness” is a wound in you, that YOU can heal and make whole.
If you sit with it (Gosh, it hurts – soooooo uncomfortable, because it doesn’t really want to be looked at, you know- it’s like Moaning Myrtle.) sit with it, be with it, and just listen. Put your hand on your heart and say “what do you need?” Learn what it has to teach. Listen to what your heart has to say. That is what is drawing you to someone, if that other person cannot fully be with you for some reason.
You’ve unearthed it!  It’s a dark gift, yes, but it’s a very important and life-changing gift. You can now heal it.  This was just an example, but you get it, yeah?

How do you heal it?

By making a vision board of love, first of all. What images just have you prickle from head to toe with joy and completeness and the feeling of love and celebration? Don’t overanalyze them- just slap ’em on a vision board, and put it somewhere where you can see it every night and every morning, and for top-up moments when you slip into old habits of “incomplete” feeling.  Even say to yourself, aloud “I am so excited to know my love.”  Feel it. Believe it. We all deserve wonderful, healthy, loving relationships. There is nothing to stop that from coming into being. You can have that with yourself, first. (I’m not of the school of “you have to love yourself completely before you can love or be loved by someone else,” but I think it sure would bloody help.)

Second: affirmations. Our minds are simple. They actually believe and create what we state. If I say “I am asleep,” I am not kidding you, I fall asleep better than with any sleeping pill.
So if I say “I am in love,” it starts to work. I feel in love. I feel in love with my own life. I’m in the same state being “in love” with someone else gives- I’m deep diving into the beauty of each moment as I’m in it.
Of course we can’t live that way all the time. But wow, does it feel good to be in love.
Try it! “I feel good.” “I am focused.” “I feel all is well.” It just really works for me.

Third: We’ve all heard it a hundred times, but that’s because it’s true: self care. Self care meaning, make yourself some healthy food and enjoy it. Take yourself for a walk. Move your body in the world in whatever way you can move. Meditate. Set a timer for 15 minutes, and clean one part of your house for just that 15 minutes. Make a small promise to yourself, and keep it daily. Give yourself a star on the calendar when you do.

Why? Because it feels good. 🙂

write this on a piece of paper, and stick it on your bathroom mirror. Say it to yourself (out LOUD) every morning:
I love myself.
I believe in myself.
I am capable of achieving any goal I set.
I shine.
I feel great. 
I look great.
Today will be an excellent day! 

 

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look forward now, eyes on the alert for goodness up ahead!

I could go on and on about this stuff.. but the main thing I am finding really eye-opening and healing right now is the book “Getting Past Your Breakup” by Susan J. Elliott. (there’s also another great one called “Restart Your Heart: how to love like you’ve never been hurt” which is scripture-based, and contains prayers for each day, if that works for you.)

It’s not about forcing yourself to “get over it” or “Forget about it.” In fact, practices of sealing feelings off and shoving them down will actually ensure that they simply do not heal.
No- it’s about transforming it. Remaining friends with my ex and staying in each other’s lives has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I have gone through depression, shades of attachment, grief, anger, stories of who he must be, victimhood, blame, mourning the old dreams which were SO real to me, wondering what the love is that I still have, and whether it’s appropriate, and what to call it; wearing my rings, not wearing my rings, re-dedicating my rings, burning our wedding vows and saying a prayer as the smoke of that beautiful moment of writing them together curled up toward the full moon… you name it, I’ve howled it, danced it, sang it, written it, painted it, sewed it, cried it, laughed it, clung to it, torn it up, wrestled with it.
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My north star has remained this: we were brought together for a reason, and we have a foundation of somewhat-honest, true friendship. (Yeah, I had to qualify that. Because reasons. And it’s okay: not my problem anymore.)
I feel I understand him on a deep level, and I feel he understands me. We share a sense of humor about many things. I am unwilling to allow my attachment to a dream remain, if it means I lose out on connection with someone who groks and works with/ ignites/ springboards my creative mind in a way that few people do.
So the big struggle is to accept that we have incompatibility, and were unhappy romantically. Okay, that’s not so bad.
Transform it. Gratitude that this person is such a close friend, gratitude that I will always love him on some level, gratitude for all that we two have discovered and learned, gratitude that our many adventures changed me for the better – and release the rest.

It’s not easy, and it has to be revisited over and over and over, until it begins to feel like having food poisoning.
I got tired of it, and it began to feel a bit wallow-y and self-indulgent, and I realized I would much rather just go play and enjoy the beautiful sunshiny day – and that’s when I realized, somewhere around December 27, that I was not just going through the motions anymore: that I was healing. That i LOVED my new life. Loved it!  That I was able to be present fully with the people who are with me. That I feel easy and open, happy and somewhat excited about all that is showing up in my beautiful, beautiful, life.

(I *strongly* do not advise doing what I did, though, to get here, which is: I took NO time to myself. I did way too many things, until I was so depleted and exhausted, I wound up being ill off and on for two months. DO take some downtime. Do not be afraid: You won’t sink. You won’t be locked in a tower and never able to come out again. It will be okay.)

Do I miss him as a companion in all things? I sure do. And do I wish my beloved cat were not dying? I sure as HECK do. But these things are what is. My old love is gone out of my life, and my cat has a tumor that fills his entire chest, lungs and liver.What, within that, is good and real? What, within that, would be lost unless I can be fiercely present, or gently present, and focused on what IS, rather than howling about what I wish the story looked like?

Oh my gosh, there’s so much. Every morning I get to have with Figaro on the deck in the sun, seeing him bask and purr, luxuriating in a good moment of belly full of delicious food, sunshine and birds singing..I’d miss that entirely if I were railing against the fact that he is dying.
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Peace and true, deep joy  begin with acceptance of what is. 

Connection and Love that has room to breathe and evolve as separate lives begins with forgiveness and true release. 

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Emotion, Yet Peace. The way of the grey Jedi (ok one of these folks is Sith…different path. ‘nother blog post.)

Which leads me to the Second Lesson:

something I had promised last blog post: How to physically heal from the pain of rejection.
Rejection. It feels like a bruise in the heart, doesn’t it? Or maybe tears prickle your eyes, or you gasp, like someone punched you in the solar plexus. However it hits you (even if you go numb/cold and shut down, or feel immediate anger – do know that those reactions are secondary, and are even deeper than the first. These reactions are protections, and the pain will show up for you much later and maybe even come out sideways in behaviors you’re not proud of, unless you’re able to notice your reaction, and name that you feel rejected, and go deal with it. Don’t beat yourself up. Practice noticing.)

Okay. So. However it hits you, don’t do what is called in buddhist teachings “the second arrow.”  Do not shoot yourself with “I shouldn’t be hurt by this.” “I’m a grownup.” “It’s nothing. Stop taking it personally…” etc.
Know that it has been proven that the same place in our brains light up as when we have physically injured ourselves. If you sprained an ankle, would you say “I’m a grownup, this should not bother me.” No – you’d assess what needed to be done, and you’d apply remedy. You’d give it some time to heal.
When rejection hurts, here is how we heal the part of the brain that feels injury:

Think of a list of good qualities that you are certain you possess. It *has* to be things you really believe about yourself. (not something like “I’m the most beautiful person in the world.” hyperbole will not work, as our brains simply shut it out.)
Once you have a list of qualities, choose one to focus on, and write a paragraph or two about why this is a good and useful quality to have.
Important: in order for this to work, you actually have to write it with pen on paper. Do not just sit there and think it. Don’t type it. Write it, old school style.
You can write it as a letter to yourself, or you can write it stream-of-consciousness; whatever works for you, as long as you use complete sentences and write it thoroughly.

This has been proven in a scientific study to actually begin to heal the part of the brain that has been injured. Do it as often as you feel you need to. If you keep replaying the rejection moment in your head, it will keep re-injuring. It does diminish over time, but it will take longer if you just keep stomping on that sprained ankle.
There: those are my last two heart lessons for a while. I’m tired… I feel like it’s all become a bit self-indulgent, and I no longer wish to wallow in “what is going wrong?” Because I no longer feel like this mindset is true for me.
I also am feeling like “Romance” for me consists of friendship with physical affection. I’m just not feeling that the other stuff is authentic to me. The height of romance, for me, is knowing someone really well. Glove to my hand. Hand to my glove- whatever. Shared jokes, songs and knowing someone’s love/detests/ texting him when “Africa” is playing on the radio “turn on the radio RIGHT NOW” and having him actually do it and text back “that was so awesome!” THAT is the height of romance to me. 🙂

Now that I am evolving toward health and heart awareness, (guys- news flash – we will *never* be perfect, so don’t wait for it -) I feel I’ll make life partner choices that are in positive alignment. No longer seeking that which needs me to improve! That gave me my momentum in life; working to please, working for that prize of approval gave me my purpose.

Well, whew. Enough of that. I have a different purpose here now.

I LOVE men, don’t get me wrong – I loveeeeeee men. Seeing the ones I care about pleased and happy, hearing that they’re proud of me or glad I’m in their lives will always bring me such a glow. I can’t change that about myself, I simply adore good men!

But my purpose, the one that’s bringing me joy, is to create stories. I spend pretty much every waking moment with a book in my hands, reading (when I’m not doing other life stuff, of course-) and have done since I can remember. I read about three books a week, maybe, minimum.
My passion is fiction. My passion is uncovering things that we humans do that others can read/ watch/ learn from , laugh at, cry with, fall in love with, and just in general be entertained and walk away with the warmth of connection, that we’re all human after all, and maybe having seen something of themselves in my work. Maybe having a new appreciation for their own flaws, a new love-light and compassion to give to their shadow.
This is my drive as an actor, as a writer, and now, as a baby-yoda-filmmaker.

 

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This is me approaching the filming of my show…so I got help. Good help- the very best. You’ll see!

Soooo yeah. this blog is going to take a wee shiftie, but the lessons I learn will still be gifted to you here – they’re just going to be in (hopefully) more entertaining form.

Look…I have two agents waiting so fracking patiently for my stuff. I have to get the fiction out there. I hope you’ll enoy it – it’s just so much more fun to take in a life lesson when it’s in the shape of a character we are getting to know. At least – that’s how I feel.
Onward! (Excelsior)

(yeah, this one’s unedited. People. I cannot edit this, I have places I’m supposed to be. Read what you want to read! Leave what you don’t.) 

Rejection and Forgiveness

I spent years trying to put down roots in a family that absolutely did not want me.

I tried to give more love, thinking eventually they’d see my heart and value me. They didn’t. They flat out rejected me. I do not bear their name, and I never will.

I spent years agonizing. Bringing my heart and more love, more kindness; crying out my hurts and then renewing my hope every week, every single time. Hope/ rejection. Hope/rejection. For years. I never knew why I wasn’t good enough and didn’t measure up – I just knew I couldn’t. It was indescribably painful.

This played right into my childhood wounds, and awakened the modus operandii of past-me; If someone dislikes me, rejects me, or is in some way critical or unkind, let me just give more love and be even more kind and understanding. Let me scramble to explain myself when I am misinterpreted, to fight against perceptions that don’t feel like me; let me then take ON those perceptions and “fix” myself. It’s an endless cycle of self-abandonment, when we make others’ criticisms our truth, and keep trying to “do better.”
Young me grew up believing that Love was the act that would heal, and that if people were unkind to me, it was just that I had done something wrong; I hadn’t given them enough kindness yet. Jesus, I believed, said Love was everything. Therefore, it was incumbent upon me to love those who threw stones at me. Both metaphorically and literally (yes, I have been surrounded and pelted by stones, while my brother stood by, and then asked me what I had done wrong that i deserved that. How…biblical.)

Wow, is this ever faulty.
Let me save you years of therapy: don’t do this.

If someone doesn’t like you, rejects you, seems to be seeking ways to find fault or criticize, smile, and walk away.

Forgive them. They don’t know what they just lost.

Forgive them, for they know not what they do.
I forgive the people who didn’t want me in their family. They got their wish, their prayers were answered.

I forgive them completely. I still carry sadness that my value wasn’t seen, but I don’t need to mourn long. Why should I?

I lost people who didn’t love or even like me. They lost someone who loved them. 

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know you are as lovable as this little guy, and keep going. 

 

Just a reframe, if your heart is hurting. Especially at this time of year, the old things come up. I think they come up so that we have the opportunity to shine light on them and maybe heal them at last. Don’t jump through hoops trying to figure out “why” people reject you. Just go where you are seen. Go where your heart is welcomed and appreciated. Go where you are liked. Go where people are grateful you choose them.

If you don’t feel such places or people exist, clear out the old. allow a space of nothing to exist – like the barren trees in winter. Keep loving yourself and doing what you are called to do in this world. Keep noticing what it feels like to be loved, wanted, and appreciated, by giving yourself affirmations. Then, the new blooms will creep in, and you’ll be able to recognize them, because you’ll know what it feels like to be loved, wanted, and appreciated, given the benefit of the doubt, given compassion and lovingkindness.

abundance will come, if you are courageous and don’t just fill the emptiness with relationships that continually ask you to apologize, prove your worth, or “buy” your entry with service, gifts, changing yourself, or any of the other ways we try to negotiate our worth with others.

Your worth is not negotiable with other people.

I am sending you love.  We are all a team. Some don’t want us. And that’s okay- they just deprived themselves of an amazing, loyal, loving, person. Their lesson to learn (or not), and their loss. Pivot! Whatever rejects you, redirects you.

I’ll do a part 2 to this post, which will be a more practical, how to heal the pain of rejection post. It has been proven that rejection lights up the same places in our brain as physical injury, and there is a way to heal that.

We all deserve to love and be loved.

Day 123: Being Ahsoka FAQs

it is Day 123 of my Becoming Ahsoka Project.
I actually was able to put this character together and get her approved much faster than I had anticipated, because of a last-minute find, someone selling their full Ashoka set including Lekku.
Otherwise, I would still not have my headdress. The man who makes them is slammed, so my official Lekku still have not arrived.
I have strung beads and attached them to this headdress with earth magnets; I have sourced a Padawan “braid” (Ashoka’s is beaded) from a wonderful Ahsoka cosplayer in Italy; I have strung yet more beads, and repainted this headpiece 3-4 times… suffice it to say, I am very fond of it now.
When my official one comes, I will repaint this one to permanently be “Darkside” Ahsoka. (She can be seen in the “Mortis” episode of Clone wars. She only makes one appearance.) I have been approved for the 501st now with her. (yay!) I am going to hold off trooping with the 501st until I can permanently paint my Lekku. It is time-consuming to dress it for Mortis, then re-paint again to be Ahsoka.

So. All that having been said: if you’re a cosplayer looking to build Ashoka, get approved with the Rebel Legion or the 501st, and begin trooping, the chances are slim that it will only take you 123 days.
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I was reeeeally fortunate. Also: I think the force was in play here, as this has kicked me right into a new life, and helped me keep my head above water.

I got TOO busy, though, and have been ill off and on since Nov. 1. I think a bit of rest might be in order, now that the dust has settled.

So here are some FAQs that mostly policemen, paramedics and firemen (oh hiiiiii, adorables) have asked me during my troops.

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1) Are you a Star Wars fanatic?

– No. Really, no. I am a Lord of the Rings fan, a Gail Carriger/ steampunk fanatic, and I’m utterly mad about manymany books. Star Wars is something I grew up on, and was reintroduced to by my ex. We shared it, and it has a new place in my heart as a result. I discovered Ahsoka with him. In her I found out WHY I have always loved Star Wars primarily in all sci fi.  (see #2)

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2) Star Trek, or Star Wars? 

I never could quite define why, but Star Wars. All the way. When I discovered Ahsoka Tano, she solidified it for me. The women of Star Wars are simply extraordinary. They are full human beings with ambitions and fierceness, who don’t shrink into “yes sir/no sir,” pleasing-to-men, mini-skirted little servants. Which…yes…is the message a very young me got from Star Trek. The women were not role models to me. I focused on Spock…but it was still all about men. That is my experience acting in the Star Trek world, as well. I have ZERO space for the women-are-pretty-little-inferiors conversation, even if it’s subtle. nope. next. Then there was Leia, firing blasters, rescuing herself, asking for help when she needed to, sassing back, kissing whomever she wanted to kiss, (even if it was a mistake. nooo leia, that’s your bro.), defeating baddies even when she was humiliated in a bikini and only had the chain around her neck to work with. Leia. unforgettable, unstoppable, and always my hero. Star Wars, all the way, and every time. (and, of course, add John Williams, and there really is just no question. what was the question?)
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2 1/2) What are you? 
I am a Togruta, from the planet Shili. I was discovered by Jedi Master Plo Koon when I was three years old. (Yes, a fireman grilled me about my planet. First person who has ever asked me that. Thank Goodness I am a researcher.) 

3) How long does this take you? 

I give it three hours. I’ve gotten quicker with the prep process, but there are a lot of little bits to remember. I cover my eyebrows first, and I want to have plenty of extra time in case that doesn’t go smoothly. It needs to be done well. Then, I apply sticky stencils to my face. Then, I cover my body with makeup. Body first, so it can dry. Then, I take my time painting my face – i use a few different shades. Then I remove the stencils and do the white markings. Then, I do regular “glam” makeup.
The costume has a lot of little pieces. I’ve had to go back home once, when I forgot the necklace or the contact lenses.
Sometimes I save the lenses for right before a troop, and other times, I put them in at home.

3 1/2) What is that on your head?

The kitty-cat ears are called Montrals, and the three long pieces are called Lekku. The Lekku are like my antennae; they are very sensitive. Yes, you can touch them if you ask first.

4) Can you see?

Yes. I can see perfectly well in the blue lenses, and they are very comfortable. I can’t see as well in the sith ones, so I will be applying those before a troop, at the location.
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5) Can you hear?

What?

…No. I can’t hear much. If I smile and nod, and the question or statement wasn’t a smile-and-nod kind of question, chances are I didn’t hear you, but am growing self-conscious about leaning my lekku next to your mouth, or saying “ehhh?”

6) Are you single?

No.
I am not single, in the sense that I am absolutely not looking for partnership at this time. Thank you. I also probably wouldn’t date someone who first met me when I’m wearing nothing as Ahsoka. No matter how handsome and kind you seem, (yes, I’m looking at you, firemen of the world), you don’t know me. When it’s right, I’ll probably wind up getting together with a true friend. I am uninterested in partnership for the sake of partnership.  I’ve had enough romantic love. I’m kinda done, for a while. I’ll let you know if that changes. In the meantime, there is no such thing as “Friendzone,” I think friendship is valuable. But I’m going to be clear and reiterate that, if you push for more in the guise of friendship. thanks!
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7) Do you work out?

Yes. That was the point of Project Ahsoka. I didn’t want just a numbers goal (not to knock those. they are difficult. but they didn’t motivate me) or a goal like “I will run a marathon.”  I wanted something that would fire me up. This was it. I do crossfit, although I haven’t really been there for two months (see paragraph 1), I do pushups, jump rope, situps, squats and work with weights at home, and I do solo sessions on the heavy bags at a gym right down the street from me. Exercise is therapy to me.

8) Why are you here? Did Disney hire you?

No, I do not work for Disney. We are volunteers. the 501st and Rebel Legion are strictly volunteer organizations, unless hired under our agreement with Lucasfilms (that was added with the Mandalorian, I believe.) I do this because when I *did* work for Disney, working with the Make-a-wish program was my favorite aspect of it. Also the charity shows and meals we did for those in need. I learned that giving love to others who needed some brightness makes me feel happy, and feel like my life has a little more purpose to it. I am here (at any given troop) because it has saved my life to focus on embodying a character I love and admire, who has heroic and brave, confident qualities I wish to develop in myself – and bringing the joy of the story world she lives in to others and to causes that need support.  Woo-hoo, run-on sentence, go you!
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9) Will you come to my house? 

No. I would not feel safe. But you can bring your household to a troop 🙂
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10) I saw you on youtube/ at the Disney opening of Galaxy’s Edge!

Hmmm… you saw Ahsoka? Well, that is wonderful. I am sure I was there. ❤ 😉
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11) How can I help the Resistance?

Keep hope alive. Also: If someone says “Ignite the Spark,” to you, your response is “Light the Fire!”
Just pay it forward. Tell people about charity troops, find a way to get involved, support, or just be extra kind to people even if they’re acting like Vader. They’ve got an Anakin somewhere inside, and maybe a little kindness will remind them. Or maybe not, and that’s when you can be extra kind to yourself, too, and remember that no one else’s unkindness belongs to you- even if it is directed at you at the time. It’s not yours to carry. Walk away from something that makes you uncomfortable, be clear in your boundaries, respect yourself and be respectful to others. Be like Ahsoka – ask questions when you need to, and do your best. Believe, be strong, and keep the hope alive that humans can keep learning to be better to each other. We are a team! May the force be with you…always.

Box Full of Darkness

“Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.”

“I tell you this
to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world.”

― Mary Oliver

What do you do with your anger?
I am making friends with it, as I think it has been shamed enough, and has something it has been trying to tell me all my life.

Codependent people see boundaries as abandonment.

Setting and keeping boundaries can feel “mean,”
if we have been taught from a young age that our life purpose is to please other people.

But you and I are not slaves. So let’s toss out that bullshit and consider anger for a second.

Anger is my fence – it tells me when I have violated my own well-being by allowing, accepting, that which I do not actually like.

Anger is extremely painful for me to sit with. I’d rather do just about anything else. I would rather distract myself, dance, put on a show, build costumes, paint, or people-please into the wee hours of the morning,
and if Anger comes in my sleep to try to knock on the gates of my heart,
I’d rather not sleep.

There was a man named Quentin who passed away in April, a few months before my own homeworld imploded. I had a complicated relationship with Quentin. I loved him. Anger was somewhere he lived. I wanted to rescue Quentin from his own despair, from his bitter stories about how unloved he was. I wanted to love him into knowing he was worthy, into seeing his own goodness. This is a lifelong practice of mine. I seem to find the most unhappy man in the room, the one who is usually standing alone, and go love him. Try to love him into healing. (Yeah, working on changing that practice. It’s exhausting, and people build their own shadowy islands, and don’t necessarily want to be welcomed on a boat back to the sunlit lands.)

The Quentin I remember

Yesterday, Quentin came to me in my sleep. I had been contemplating a new relationship; I had been wavering on the edge of – I know I am not ready, but I wish to believe what someone is saying to me, and I wish to be held. I am so, so weary, and I wish, above all things, to rest. I wish peace – I wish to love and be loved, and really, what I really actually want is a good, heart-connected, solid, hug. 🙂

And so Quentin came to me. In my dream, we were playing a game. I had taken a sort of mystical chip-thing (probably Mandalorian-influenced, cause whatever, I’m addicted to the props and costumes of that show) from him, dared him to catch me. This was the sort of game Quentin and I played all the time I knew him. Dare and double-dare, hide and seek; he was the Loki in my life – he was not healthy for me and he intrigued and drew me. Quentin was a dangerous dark fire I did not understand.
So in my dream, he finally caught me- I laughed,
and he held me.
He held me a long, long time. Just held, like the best and longest hug from a friend or family member you are completely safe with, like the most important kind of heart to heart cuddle.

And I realized when I woke up (too soon) that I would not harm another with my unreadiness. I will keep my boundaries solid, though I do long to love and be loved-

I won’t be bringing my toxic minefield with me into someone else’s life and heart- until I clear and heal this energy, I have to reinforce certain walls.

Healthy people do not dance with unhealthy people – water seeks its own level- so what happened in relationship with me was something I co-created. Toxicity, misunderstanding, distrust, abandonment – these were the ghosts that haunted something that could have been healthy and beautiful.

No more. No. More.

I am evolving toward the primary relationship I envision; I can feel what it will be, to be healthy and in good communication, mutual autonomy, support, individual freedom, trust, respectful choices, honoring each other, and also – affection generously shared. Shared adventures and work, joys and yes, sorrows and lessons. Abundance, not lack.

I’m not made to walk in this life alone. I love people too much, and I have too much love and care to give.

But until it is as darkness-free as it can be, I will not be passing on this gift to another.

So I sit with the box of darkness. I accept it. I invite it to teach me what it has to give.

I am so weary – so very tired of learning and growing – and I’m trying to shift this into an adventure of sorts, because I need to love my life;
but sometimes Strider is just fucking sick of sleeping rough, and being on the lone path, and remaining silent while the Jolly Old Inkeepers whisper stories about her, and insist that she is dangerous. Sometimes she just wants to pull her tattered cloak aside, and say “I am the lost king, you stupid, silly, reactive, gossiping peasants,”
but she can’t.
She’s got to wait for the Gandalf who will write the note that says “all that is gold does not glitter;
not all those who wander are lost…”
(unsurprisingly, I was obsessed with Strider as a child. I loved him beyond reason. The man alone? Check. The misunderstood one? Check. The gold that only the wise would see? Oh, I thought *I* was that wise rescuer, to see the good in Strider – I’ve been looking for him all my life, and little did I know, I actually AM Strider.)

strider

sometimes writing a blog can get dramatic

To stretch a metaphor until it squeaks like an irritated Hobbit: Strider has to bide her time and do her work, and pray that she’ll live long enough to stand beside her Arwen and lift her face to the sun at last.

(but you know what? What if we were each our very own Arwen? She refuses to leave Aragorn. She gives up immortality in order to stand by his side. I think being as loyal as that to ourselves would have us be able to create boundaries with a little more ease, and enforce them with steady grace, and fierceness if it became necessary.)

Patience.
Dreams. (thank you, Quentin)
Persistence.
and, of course, the stories, that somehow make it all a little more bearable.

Day 95

I began this experiment simply in order to give myself a goal to focus on, so I could get moving and heal, rather than sit in grief.

Looking back from day 95 to the beginning, what has changed: everything!

My relationship with food has completely changed from day 1 to now.

I don’t really get hungry, for one thing- so I have to remember to eat, which is a new challenge.

I’ve been away from the monthly challenges with my trainer for a few weeks, and I think for now I’d better stick with them – having the structure and accountability of recording what I eat and drink has the effect, for me, of making me eat and drink.

And life is better overall when one consumes food and drinks water.

I am steadily losing weight, but I can tell you for sure now: the weight we lose when we’re eating consistently and drinking water is much more strong and healthy- looking (and feeling!) than the weight we lose by not eating. If you’re a person who is going for aesthetics, eat food. Just measure and document it , keep it clean and enjoy it, that’s all! Treat your body with loving kindness, and it will reward you.

When we binge or have a “cheat day,” what that does (I’ve found out through trial and error) is it sends the blood sugar out of whack- the body is scrambling to figure out what the heck to do with this new stuff (and maybe a bigger amount than usual,) and then I find I’m overly hungry for a few days afterward.

This can lead to a cycle of giving the body more food than it really needs.

How to heal from a “cheat day”: focus on drinking water. That reset me pretty quickly. My body was like “oh. Oh… I’m not really hungry after all.” 😆

What has changed emotionally in 95 days of a shift in focus: well, I’m still figuring that out. I have really bad days, and really good ones. There’s a certain kind of freedom in heartbreak – there’s a feeling that nothing can hurt me now, so I am free to live more courageously, I suppose. I’ve discovered anger, and sat in the burn of it – highly unpleasant – and I’ve found that on the other side of that is a deeper clarity, release, and peace. As long as I clung to “love” and “friendship” and steadfastly refused to acknowledge anger, I wasn’t able to completely put my past where it belongs: in the past. It is over and gone now, and one day its colors will fade and mellow into something with softer edges, with warmth and a gift to give. For now, it is a story that feels like it happened to someone else- and I guess that’s where it needs to live for a while, like a bottle of port set away in a cellar to mature. If I shook it up, or exposed it to light too soon, it would simply become vinegar. (I’m not sure if that happens to port. But you get the metaphor, yeah?)

My social world has expanded and grown shockingly fast.

My first troop, at Angel’s stadium Alzheimer’s 5k

Project Ahsoka began as a life raft in the middle of a really hopeless-looking shipwreck. It felt like a ridiculous spar I was clinging to, half ashamed to be “doing this at my age.”

Well. First of all, never say that crap to yourself. “At my age” is a dumb gate to build in your life.

I met people who are causeplaying characters they love, who are older than I am. They are cheerful and happy, confident and lovely in their freedom.

This is energy, regardless of age- it is contagious goodness.

Once I was accepted (which felt incredible, to get that email!) I plunged into a world that is faaaaar bigger than I had imagined it would be.

And now I’m making more costumes, because it brings me joy, and these people are kindred spirits in many ways.

Stock Jedi in the works ❤️

So that’s day 95. I’ve had a few weeks of setback due to illness (writing convention crud!) but a pause isn’t a stop – I kept doing push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and walking/ running even while ill. I know that may sound nuts, but keeping your body moving even if it’s at a much slower pace, is giving your muscles love and getting the oxygen/ blood flowing to them in a way that they seem to need. I don’t know: I’m no physical trainer, but that’s what it felt like.

TL:DR: If you’re going through it, keep going.

A pause is not a stop.

Yes, listen to your body, but also know that your body is like a toddler, and sometimes you need to have good boundaries with it, and give it water when it insists it’s hungry. 🙂

Do things you enjoy, that are fun. That’s a great way to meet people you enjoy, who like what you like. At any age.

If you are depressed and having trouble getting moving, set one small goal. Or set a big, funny one, like “become Ahsoka Tano from Clone Wars.” You just never know what will grow out of being in action toward that goal.

And a teeny tiny goal like “write for 15 minutes, focusing only on that for 15 minutes,” can 1) have you feel great, because you complete it, and 2) have you surprised at how much you actually accomplish with that teeny, tiny goal.

Whatever you are trying to do, be, and build, you’ve got this. We’re in it together.

Meeting fears can be fun- when you find out they’re not so scary after all 😉

Hogwarts House

I don’t really know what my Hogwarts house is.

I thought it was Ravenclaw, because I like to read above, basically, everything else in life.

Then I thought it was Gryffindor, because I have no fear of speaking up when others can’t say what really needs to be said. In fact, I am compelled to speak for those who have no voice. I have a strong and extremely fierce defender instinct- just not so much for myself. (Working on that.)

Then, I thought it was Slytherin, but I always knew it wasn’t – I was deeply hurt and angry, and *wishing,* above all things, to be Sith and Slytherin, and not care for someone who didn’t have a moment of thought for me. I wanted to burn the heart right out of my chest, and feel indifference bordering on contempt for someone who chewed me up, spat me out, and just didn’t even consider me at all. (I still feel this way. But I am not Slytherin.)

But I adore Alan Rickman, who gave Snape strength.

A friend told me I was so clearly Hufflepuff. I freaked right the fuck out. “No! Hufflepuffs are Hobbits, damn it, and I am adventurous.”

I still have to look at that. I’m loyal, but my loyalty is to the point of damage. I’m that dog following someone who kicks me. Nope. Not interested in living into, or perpetuating the damage of my childhood.

I’m introverted, and want to completely disappear when the damage is having its way – and when I’m healthy, I love people and am actually on the extroverted side (though I will never love noise and crowds and meaningless conversations make me want to run and hide in a book.)

So. I guess there’s our “damaged-self” house, our house we wish we could embody some traits from, and then our “healthy” house.

I’m still not sure what that is, yet. I just know it isn’t Slytherin. As much as I truly, madly, deeply hate to admit that.

I wish, above all things, to become heartless. I can’t. I’ll continue to be hurt, I suppose.

Perhaps that makes me Gryffindor- because it takes courage to say “this is who I am. I loved and considered your well-being. I still do. That I was not even a thought on your radar, while you worshipped and longed for the ones who were devious and cruel, well, that’s who you are.”

What is yours?

– what’s your healthy house?

-what’s the house of your patterning (that isn’t necessarily you?)

-what’s your friends’-perception-of-you house?

-what’s your house you wish you could embody some traits from?

Yours Nerdily,

A Gryffin-claw-puff dragon

What is Love to You? (I really want to know-)

(This is just a response piece – and a question. Please feel free to answer in the comments. . What is love to you? (Because I am not sure- I think I might be wrong. I think I have created it to be more about work than perhaps it should.)

“Love doesn’t look like this,” the ex of my ex said in an article.

And I want to say “How do you know? Did you stay, learn, and do the work, or did you leave and chase the next bright, shining, happy feeling?”

What does love look like to you?

To me, it looks like choosing.

It looks like choosing again, when times are a little tougher. It looks like looking at that person – your person – and remembering the good things you love in their heart, when they’re acting like a seven year old. It looks like working to understand. It looks like tenderness when it’s difficult to soften. It looks like reaching for someone’s hand and remembering to connect when we’d rather be in ego and anger.

I’ve decided this is love. And I’ve decided that I’ve loved.

Love never was a “feeling” for me.

But one thing I’m learning in therapy as I do the work of choosing to love myself is :

Someone else’s experience is not mine to worry about.

If someone else decides that “these ten things will support you in the idea that it’s good to stop, drop, and roll,” is a really smart thing,

Then it’s a smart thing for them.

I’d be interested to hear what love looks like to you.

I do know I need to learn to let go a little more quickly. For sure. Some of those “20 truths” (whose truths? My inner gremlin snickers) May be very important for me…

A Time To Retract

There is an adendum to the previous post about radical love.

Love and forgiveness doesn’t mean excusing behavior that violates your boundaries and needs.
If you make your needs clear, and someone consistently violates that trust,

that’s when it’s time to consider that cutting them off. Leaving the past behind, leaving anything connected to that, blocking all concerned, might be a better choice, if people disrespect your heart, boundaries, and needs.

It is wise if it isn’t a choice made in anger. But if it must be, that’s okay too. Anger is a signal. It’s a signal of boundaries violated, and it’s a signal that we need more self care.
Listen.

Things look prettier by gaslight, don’t they?
It would be peaceful to believe – it is tempting, sometimes – that you are the problem.
I chose that. If I am the problem, then I know there’s something here I can fix. It’s within my control. It gives me a sense of safety, and I don’t have to listen to my gut which is telling me the room is swimming in gaslight.
But ultimately, it will make your life a misery. If a healthy and reasonable expression of a boundary is somehow painted as “overreacting,” and, if they blow it up to others as such, the manipulator is showing you who they are. Pay attention.
Even if their behavior is somehow unintentional, it’s there.
It will show itself repeatedly.

Center, breathe, and watch.

How do you know it’s gaslighting, and how do you get out of it?

You can’t just “not react” when someone pulls strings, because they will run around to others telling whatever story of your “reaction” they want to tell, and they’ll act like they’re doing “damage control,” when in fact, they are the one who set the fire themselves. There are many people in this world addicted to strife, upset, and drama.
You can’t bring peace to this. You’ll just get caught up in their drama tangle.

What you can do is ignore.
Express your needs again, and make sure you are heard.
Don’t react if they try to twist things that you are somehow “irrational,” “Overly sensitive” or “crazy.”  Just state your needs.

Then if your needs are not respected,
Walk away.

I don’t care what it costs you, or you think it will cost you. The cost of your own identity is far greater than anything you could possibly gain by sticking around remaining loyal to anyone engaging in this kind of manipulation. And if your friends or family believe that person?
That is their lesson to learn.

Walk away.

Let your life become completely empty, if that’s the way it has to be.
Keep being your incredible self, hold your head high, stay on the high road, and walk away only for the preservation of your own heart.
By doing so, you show yourself that your heart is worth fighting for. That you don’t have to stick around and take behind-the-back behaviors of unkindness. That isn’t for you; it’s not yours. If people engage in it, that’s their karma, and theirs alone to carry.

Leave them with it.

Walk in love.  chewieahsoka.jpg
Ultimately, those you spend your life with need to earn it by behaving as respectfully to you as you do to them.

No regrets. Stay on the warrior’s path, and let your heart of integrity and honor lead the way.

The rest is noise.