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.

to the Men

I have been thanking you individually, but it doesn’t feel like enough.
The women have been family and deeply generous nurturers to me for months,
and I need to write another love-letter to them,

This one is for the men.

There are men in this world who care.
It’s been like – I don’t know (?) you’ve known I am hurting (well, hell. I have tried to keep it completely silent, but I am just not good at that. I’m leaking out all over the place…I hope to do better at being responsible and keeping this under wraps.)

and you have been kind. You’ve been valiant, you’ve been protectors, and I will go so far as to say heroes.  You’ve quietly brought words of affirmation, support, music, love, advice, understanding,  – and I just want you wonderful men to know that I see you. I want the world to see you.

It must be a damned hard thing to be a man in this society.
And here you have been. Strong. Thoughtful.

Look, I’m not putting you on pedestals, because I did that once, and I was on a few pedestals myself, and I learned that it’s not something anyone can live up to – and it’s not a way to feel seen and loved for who we are, flaws and all-

Some of you, I have known for decades. Some, a few years. Some, I just met.
I know some of the times you’ve not been your best, and hey- I like you. We’re all evolving.

You’re still, right now, so valiant in my eyes.

You’ve come to someone who is at rock bottom, sitting in the rubble and looking around her like “okay. time to rebuild. The sky’s the limit when there’s nothing, I guess.” So fractured I feel I can barely remember why I’m here, most days – let alone setting about finding a new purpose, build a new future –

and you’ve given support. None of you asked for anything in return. None of you have been angry when I don’t call, and when i turn down invitations. Literally NONE of you have expressed anger over this!

Men can be generous. Men can be loving. Men can believe the best of someone. Men can be so loyal. Men can be gentle. Men can be understanding. Men can be patient. Men can be nonjudgemental. Men can be forgiving. Men can be supportive. Men can be caring. Men can be honest. Men can give their word, and keep it, or responsibly communicate if they can’t. Men can keep working at doing their best…

I just … am so full of gratitude for you today, men.  If I could give each of you a medal, I would.

5454148-medal

Chewbacca needs a medal too…

That is all. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

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.

Radical Love in Action (warning: long and unedited.)

Love in action is built with focus and intention.

I’m going to write a blueprint, one day, when I’ve narrowed down the steps.
It doesn’t happen by accident, and one can’t wander into it guided by feeling.
It requires absolutely razing the foundations of anything built on desire. If there is a shred of you that wants someone else to be or do something,
napalm that shit.

teaduel

You must heal, for your own sake. Do not drink the poison of bitterness and anger.  As long as you carry anger toward someone else, you are continuing to poison your own tea!

Kill it. It hurts like hell. If you want to live fully and truly, do it. kill it now.
When you have a smoking crater (yes, it will smoke- that smoke, which consists of a hundred or a hundred thousand memories, will continue long past the time you think it should be clear. It will get in your eyes ::cue the song, you know the one-:: and it will make your heart sting and your eyes water, but it’s just smoke. Ride it out. You are stronger than the memories, and the smoke will probably continue to rise your entire life. That is okay! Let it. It holds goodness, but it is nothing to build a life on.)
Have you done it? Okay. So you’ve got your smoking crater. I had to do a “letting go” ritual every day for a few months, until I had my crater. The castle I had built on it was HUGE, but it was a monstrosity. Part complete beauty, and partly a frankenstein of youthful inadequacies and brother-wounds. It had to go.

loveasitwas

this is the face of a love that was built on “I am not enough, and you are everything.” It’s great for fairytales, but it carries pain. If you have this face, it’s time to take stock.

Now it’s time to lay a foundation of acceptance. You loved someone. Because this is my story, I’m going to tell you, I loved that person exactly for who he is. I saw him, flaws and all. I still love him. And now that I have released him completely, I can tell you that I set that love free every single morning. I will love him until the day I die, and I’ll love him exactly for who he is, and who he chooses to be.
The foundation of acceptance is this: I see you, person I love, and I wish you to live your best life. I don’t wish anything from you. I let you go. I’m grateful you’re alive and in the world, and what made you the happiest was leaving. So I am glad you left.
I am truly glad, because that is what you chose, and I love you for who you are.

It’s not even just forgiveness, because forgiveness implies that there’s a wrong to forgive. There is no “wrong” here. Forgiveness, of course, comes first, waaaaay before you’re ready to raze your foundation.

If you’re not there, don’t worry, just release, and look around at your own life. Release as many times as you need to. You’ll find it hurts less as time goes by, and you’ll also find people rushing to fill the gap. These people are possibly drawn by the energy of release,
and they are not truly for you. Not yet. These are likely people who are drawn to the unavailable, and have wounds of their own that are drawn like a magnet to your grief. They are the rescuers and the fixers, the grief-dwellers and the ones who think love looks like sadness. Love them, be grateful for them, but please do not become romantically involved with the ones who show up now.

Something I am learning: if you wished to build a life with someone who ultimately didn’t want to be with you, this is energy you created in the past. This is something you drew. This is something I drew to me: that which did not want me.
So if I want to build a new life, and draw in that which chooses me, sees me, loves me, and counts themselves absolutely blessed to be my husband,
I need to shift my energy.
The energy needs to be quite clear. It isn’t “longing” energy, or “wistful” or broken or lost or incomplete … these things are all the things that drew to me a person I loved more than I have ever loved – a person who did not want to be with me.

Because what I was drawing to me was “longing,” you see?
As much as I fought – fought! – to make it work and to build “happiness” and “peace,” on a foundation of “longing,” THIS BUILDING CANNOT STAND.

I can’t say it strongly enough.

RAZE the foundations of something that rejected you. Anything that denied your heart. Anything that didn’t do whatever it took to work on building with you, to see the blessing of a life with you, MUST GO. Not “go” as in any acts of anger or unkindness. “Go,” as in, you gently release. They will go easily, because they wanted to! And that is okay.

And then, what you do, once you’ve got your foundation of acceptance – NOT anger, not grief, not “could-have-beens”, but acceptance, which means you can truly look at that person and say : I love you so completely. for everything you are and are not, for everything you’ve chosen and haven’t chosen, for every mistake I feel you made, for every mistake I made, for every time I was my worst self with you, for every time you were your worst with me, for every flaw and wound and everything you’ve perceived, for every shade I don’t agree with, for every beauty that you’ve given me, all of it. I love you. For every future choice, for whatever love you find and prefer and fight for, I love you. And I completely release. I need nothing from you. I know our time is fleeting here, and I choose to spend it loving you rather than wasting a single moment of the connection we’ve been given cut off because it hurts to let go… I will let it hurt, because this is how my heart and soul grow, and I am grateful for all of it.

This is the acceptance foundation.

Then, on top of that, build SELF acceptance. For whatever reason this person didn’t want you – unless you hurt someone and need to examine and grow and learn from that- the other reasons are NOT your business. (Trust me…me, who thought about getting a boob job. Me, who thought about dying my hair. Me, who thought about ceasing to eat food….) It is time for you to realize that you don’t have to win love.
Realize it on a deep soul level by loving yourself. Not easy, is it? I’ll tell you the steps. Here’s how to do it.

Every day, when you cut ties with the person you’ve loved deeply, realize that part of the reason that love was so powerful may have been (if they have not chosen you back, this is a possibility:) that in some way, this person holds energy that resembles a wound you’ve received early on in life. The moment when your young self felt incomplete or less-than. Continuing to desire someone when they do not choose us can indicate this sort of wound. So it’s time to patch it up. When you think of this person, if you feel pain, dive into it. Ask it what it needs.
Mine is a sort of “lack” feeling. It tells me, “you’re not good enough yet, you’re just not good enough for him to notice or care, so you’ve got to keep working harder.” I hear that, and then I fill it with my own regard. I fill it with “I see you. You are. You are strong and look how constant your love is. Look how loyal, look how magnificently you loved. You accepted someone knowing full well (I am a realist at heart) that he has a problem with committing to things. Commitment feels like prison to him, but you looked further into that, and you saw the absolute beauty of that. The reason commitment feels like the bars of a cage to that beautiful soul is that he cares too much. He feels responsible. He flees because when he feels responsible, he becomes anxious for people, continually anxious. He feels he can’t really say ‘no’ to responsibility for someone else’s troubles, and that results in the behavior of running away. You saw this, and you loved him so fiercely. You love him still, and for that love, I love you.

Give yourself this. The kind of love you give, that seeks to excuse wounding behaviors in others, that seeks to understand, it is time to learn to give that to yourself as consistently as you can.

For the first few days or weeks, if you’re like me, you’re going to feel really selfish. Let the thought come up “I’m being selfish,” and say “yeah. that’s right.”  any time that inner voice seeks to tell you something like that, just agree with it. You can’t argue with that particular gremlin, because what it is seeking to do is keep you in the status quo of the victim/martyr.

When you do something brave, I want you to look in the mirror and say “you are so brave. You wonderful woman/man/being, you are magnificent.”
Say it, I do not care how corny you feel.

Get in the habit of saying the good things. Like you’d interact with your own child. Don’t focus on the bad. Don’t focus on the mess-ups. That’s what we do all day, every day, and it’s TIME to shift the energy now.

EAT CLEAN AND HEALTHY FOOD. DRINK PLENTY OF CLEAR WATER. MOVE YOUR BODY.
I can’t stress these ones enough. You are purifying yourself of all that is toxic, of all that is self-harming.

Because it’s time to draw people and situations into your life who accept you, love you as you are, and want you. 

The desired outcome is: beloved. The desired outcome is: wholeness and thriving, abundance and synergy. Working together, learning from mistakes, argument for the sake of coming to understanding (rather than “being right”), and life built on a foundation of radical acceptance.

When someone talks to you, do you have something you want them to say? release, breathe, and come back to the foundation of acceptance. When someone is telling you their plans, do you have something you want them to do, or believe they should do? release again. Listen in order simply to hear, with curiosity, as they tell you their vision for their life. And let go of any identification with , or attachment to, that.

I believe what I am doing is again taking the warrior’s path. It may be far easier to simply “cut them off,” as many advised me to do. I was advised with a rabid fierceness, in fact, by complete strangers on the internet – that if I did not cut ties with my ex, I was not okay, and I was in fact mentally ill and heading for certain doom.
I just didn’t buy it.
Love, for me, is not contingent upon a definition of relationship. I have been blessed with such a love in my life. The moments he called “fantasy,” were real for me- but I am a realist, not an idealist. I can see when there are struggles, but I am also an optimist, so I say “this moment was connected and beautiful. this is real.” I see what is, and I make the best of it. It’s who I am.

I know what it is to lose someone to death, someone I loved, but was estranged from for years. I let my pride and anger steer me, and I lost years I could have spent being in his life. We came back together and were the best of friends again, just as if no time had passed, two days before he died. It was a gift from God and one of my deepest life lessons.

Don’t lose time. Learn the art of radical love. Accept what is, love yourself, live in the energy of self-acceptance, which will draw to you that which also accepts and loves you!

Time and life are both precious, non-renewable resources. 

I am moved to write this today in case there’s someone out there who, like me, has been . urged to “cut off contact” with someone they still love. It’s the popular thing these days, but I am  here to tell you there’s another way. It’s REALLY difficult, but YOU CAN SHIFT YOUR LOVE. you are allowed to love, and love fully. Just work, and work hard, until you do not desire to OWN. It’s the hardest work you will ever do. You’ll battle your ego, your pride, and you’ll come face to face with all that you are made of.
But understand this: if someone doesn’t work to be with you, they are not for you. You must shift your love so that it loves YOURSELF so much, you know and feel the kind of serenity you thought being with this other person would give you. If they can find someone else they’d rather be with, they are NOT for you, and you are so blessed they didn’t make themselves be with you!

It’s not defiant, and it’s not angry. If you feel those things, go back to square one, and raze that foundation again. Keep digging and burning until you have forgiven completely.

The feeling is one of peace, and of joy for NOW. Not in dreaming of someone or something to come, but right now, your life, all that it contains and doesn’t contain; joy and wholeness and magic and gratitude.

Becky & Mark @ Babette's-57.jpg

Love is always something to be grateful for, in its purest form. It does not seek to bind, control or alter. 

 

 

Story therapy

I am quite overdue on an update.

It’s been such a busy time of transformation.

I used to wonder what it was that had people be “fans” of things. I didn’t have it in me. I couldn’t get excited about celebrities or shows; the closest I came was a deep desire to completely live in the worlds of books I read. As a little girl, I asked Ray Bradbury to autograph “Halloween tree” for me (my favorite book at the time) and he was grumbly and grouchy, and it scared me to death. I was cured of fandom in that moment, I thought.

I loved costume and theatre, and I wished to create rather than be-a-fan-of-things.

Then I had some fans of my own through Star Trek, and I saw that, while they all had different things that drew them and different things they needed, the ones who wrote to me shared a common longing. They didn’t seem to feel whole, and fandom gave them fulfillment. I was honored by their love of my work and also with their trust; they wrote to me sharing the most vulnerable deep and scary truths, and asking for my support. I am glad they landed on me, rather than someone who may not have had time to honor their trust.

Through them, I learned a little more about this “fan gene” that I thought I lacked.

I don’t lack it. I’ve discovered the “fan gene” in myself; all I needed was a little more hardship, and a little less emotional resource to create my own characters and work.

With someone I loved, I discovered characters and stories that kept me going. They inspired me. Loki embodied courage to me; the courage to be himself, even though what he was, his fundamental nature, was disapproved of, even reviled. (I still think Loki would have been a great king. He had the necessary political mind, and he had peace as a goal.)

From there, it was Star Wars. I’ve loved Star Wars since I was a little girl, playing with my action figures and ships in an empty lot near my house, but I didn’t have the “fan” feeling.

I didn’t leap fully off the diving board into the deep end of fandom until something happened that razed the foundations of my world entirely.

Masks can embody things we find it hard to access.

The future I had envisioned was gone, and I had absolutely nothing to stand on, except some friends I delight in, who don’t judge me, family who love me, and a good therapist.

That’s when I went utterly mad, in a way.

Everything my therapist told me I had inside me, every character strength I was working to focus on, every shattered place I was striving to shore up and rebuild,

I found it all in a character someone else wrote: Ahsoka. All of a sudden, I understood “cosplay,” something that had previously puzzled me.

Money that was to have been spent on a wedding was spent building this character with careful accuracy, with the goal of eventually volunteering for events and children’s hospitals. I wanted to do something good while giving my heart a little bit of a shield.

When I put on this armor, I feel happy. I feel I’m putting on her strength, and slowly, each time I paint my face and improve at the makeup, I feel her courage becoming my courage. I don’t need it in the same way I did when I started, but I still feel this way. Capable, joyful, strong.

Creating this character has given me the motivation to exercise every day, and stay extremely consistent with following my gym’s October challenge.

My waist feels like a column of steel now. My body is getting stronger every day.

When we are broken enough, it’s okay to use whatever tools we need to shore ourselves up until we are stronger.

Ahsoka has been my teacher.

Pretty soon, Genevieve Lefoux will be another.

It’s not taking on another identity – it’s finding an outward embodiment of a character that has qualities I need to learn to be proud of, not afraid of.

I had become so afraid to be too big, too strong, too much myself.

I’m seeing now what creates the need for stories. They give us a reminder that we can be better. They give us a handhold on the cliff. They give us a reminder that we can still find joy in the most unlikely of places, and that we can love ourselves.

Underneath it all, if we can love and accept a character who has some of our own qualities and flaws, we can learn to love ourselves. We can learn to see ourselves with a bit more compassion.

And of course, the stories give us play and connection,

and when they have noble qualities we wish to develop, they give us a reminder that we can.

I’m getting stronger now, and while I don’t need Ahsoka in the same way I desperately needed her while I was gathering her costume together, I still feel great strength and joy in getting better at portraying her. I love the idea of crafting all her incarnations as she gets older, so I can someday be the mad old lady who dresses up as elder Ahsoka Tano.

I also have a coat coming that inspired the character of Genevieve Lefoux. It will be a talisman of sorts; now that I feel I’m moving on and moving forward from heartbreak, I can wear the coat of a character who loved, and loved fiercely, was betrayed, and was not broken.

She never lost anything, in my eyes – she is altogether admirable, and the one who betrayed her was a shallow fool who utterly lacked the ability to see what they were throwing away.

She got back to her work, and her work was sheer genius.

It’s time for me to get back into my work intensely. Time’s a-wasting. Wearing a coat and accessories from one of my favorite authors on the planet will help me, now that I’ve learned the power of a piece of armor.

Don’t underestimate talismans, heroes, stories, shields.

What inspires you? What do you wish to embody? Giving yourself a daily reminder of that, whether it’s something to wear or a quote on the wall, can help ignite and re-ignite inspiration daily.

Onward –

(Once again, I’m not editing this. 😬 here is my story, flaws and all!)

October challenge

Just a quick example of diet and fitness:

It’s not about Herculean efforts each time- it’s about persistence and consistency.

October’s challenge is:

1: to take photos of each meal & document all that I eat, evaluating at the end of the day how well I kept on track with dietary changes –

2: exercise for 30 minutes or more each day

3: drink half my body weight in ounces of water daily

4: added challenges. Today was 100 sit-ups (I did these first thing in the morning, and actually found them a great way to ease into moving and waking up. And running up to two miles, which I’ll complete this evening.

Tomorrow is push-ups.

Just completed a workout which consisted of : 10 minutes max rounds of 2,4,6,8 calorie row & wall balls,

10 minutes max rounds: burpees and weighted (20lbs) toe-touches

10 minutes max rounds: thrusters and kettlebell swings,

Then max rounds of 20 bicycle crunches and 10 weighted sit-ups.

I’ve found that if I don’t think too much and just show up, the workout handles itself.

The main thing I’m learning is that it doesn’t matter if I stumble. Yesterday, I fell flat on my face. I had a terrible day of no-coping. I had a night of agony and depression. Today, I’m back at it.

We will never be perfect – we just need to keep aiming. If I take joy in the reaching itself, and take a moment to feel proud of myself, not for achievements, but for resilience,

I think I’ll learn to love my life much more consistently. At least, that is the goal.

Ahsoka Lives ✨❤️

If You Choose Change, Turn to Page 25

It’s officially the second month of my Complete Life Renovation program.

Wow, time flies when you’re building a new foundation.

I was going to talk about how I shed 20lbs from the day of my engagement to now, with really specific guidelines, but then I lost a dear friend – and it seems far more important to discuss the inner work, first.

I’ve been on the phone for hours connecting with, and laughing with, a few people I haven’t talked to in over a decade. I’ve lost a friend I assumed I’d have more time with, a friend I had future “someday, we’ll all meet at Disneyland together,” plans with. Someday is now forever cancelled; it lives in the heart only, along with my wedding day.

I’ve discovered a hidden room within my heart that can feel even more gratitude. I’ve discovered that love is a way of life, and it’s not at all scary.

Gratitude illuminates. Love can be ever present

A deeply damaged person taught me from birth to adulthood that love came with a steep price. That if I loved, it meant I had to endure the agony of maintaining silence while someone else made my choices. I am now discovering in a way that is rewriting my very bones, a whole new truth. Turning up the light, switching from gaslight to sunlight, The very opposite is the truth.

“Martyrdom is not a love language,” a wonderful friend (and founding member of my life-decisions-committee) said to me.

Love means bringing myself to the conversation. It means saying, respectfully, “no.” I cannot say yes, not really, until I have said no. Until I have owned my “no,” and found out where it exists, I don’t even have a self, and cannot truly be with someone else.

I’ve been so wildly enjoying rediscovering my very own life. Mine, and only mine. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Don’t get me wrong – there have been days battling depression. Days lost to tears and falling back into chewing on my own brain and spending far too much time zoning out on social media (one of my depression-habits. It clues me in now, when I do that I need to go for a walk.)

I was about to make wedding vows. I was on the threshold of that. While my heart still feels fairly shattered around that loss and bewildered by it, I am also deeply grateful there was a pause in that conversation in my life – because the vows would not have been able to be truly given. Oh, I would have meant them, and I would have kept them, even if it killed me. But we can’t give vows, not really, when we don’t fully own, know, and love ourselves. I wouldn’t have been able to join with someone else at all – the real me would not have even been present.

How could I pledge myself and my life to another, vow to walk by his side in all things, when I wasn’t even standing on my own two feet? When I didn’t know my heart, when I was so dissociated from myself that the simplest of decisions caused major (MAJOR) anxiety and stress, because I didn’t know what I liked, needed, or felt?

No wonder my emotions leaked out all over the place like sputtering fireworks. My subconscious was desperately trying to get in touch with me.

To Choose Change, Turn to page 25.

Stop looking for your life in other people. Take complete custody of your own life.

Stop. Pause and be where you are for just a moment. This is the deepest Jedi training of all. Put down the lightsaber, the fancy flips and jumps, set down the weights and the jump rope, take off the boxing gloves, set aside the costumes and games, the light shows and laughter – all those things are reflections, shadows.

External things have helped me gain access and insight into the next steps. Exercise helps. Getting stronger helps. Eating right helps. My head is clear, my emotions are flowing in a much more even and peaceful way, because my body is supported, and I feel good and strong.

Okoye shirt! “Born to be a WARRIOR”

These things are all well and good, great for the confidence and such, but they’re still external. Sitting down on the ground in stillness, sinking into the world inside, finding my center and truly releasing everyone and everything, the chatter of opinions and beliefs and the endless words from others I had forged into chains that bound me so entirely, I couldn’t make simple decisions on my own –

I have found joy. It just is. It’s not formed of action or external approval. The chains dropped away. I didn’t have to force it, break them like the Hulk; I didn’t have to squirm out of them, breaking myself into new shapes like Houdini – all I had to do was follow one spark of joy. Then another. All I had to do was listen, and allow. All I had to do was be extremely firm that I wasn’t romantically available to the wonderful men who reached out; all I had to do was take that courageous step once, then again, and each time it got easier, and my chains fell away so lightly.

On page 25, my new-old-friend-former-future-husband said to me, (speaking about film structure) invariably, that’s when the change comes. We have the “ordinary world” of our hero, and then *boom,* page 25, the call to adventure.

Page 25 isn’t found by making it happen. Page 25 is going to find us, wherever we are. But at the same time, the hero can choose to refuse the call to adventure- then, I suppose, go back to page 1. As long as it takes.

My page 25 didn’t announce itself dramatically. It slipped into place as if it had been waiting patiently. I couldn’t get to it until I finally let go of all the pages before it, you see.

I think perhaps some never reach their page 25.

Please don’t let that be you.

Let go. Anything you’re afraid to release, that’s a sign that you really need to release it.

That which chooses you truly will choose of its own free will. It will do the work. Situations and people- let them show you they see your worth.

That which doesn’t choose you doesn’t need your energy or focus. Love, bless, and release. Your life is waiting – your self is waiting.

This is a call to adventure. The hero of the story (you! I!) must walk alone for a time, or they won’t ever be able to find the kyber crystal that is waiting for only their heart.

It’s so much fun, this Jedi training.

You can do it – you can handle anything.