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.

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.

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.

Week 4: Balance

In the first weeks, I was rigid. Strict eating plan, strict with working out every day. I didn’t work my way up to my goal, which was working out several times a day; an unexpected trip, and Yoda’s theme intervened.

During that trip, I had a morning of complete dissolving. When I arrived and walked into a lovely, serene, spotless hotel room to myself, I collapsed, like someone had cut the puppet strings that held me. I crawled into bed, slept for the first time in a month, and simply couldn’t move.

I worried that I was likely being rude to the friend and his partner who brought me there and gifted me this – but I was so exhausted, even the anxiety couldn’t make itself heard beyond a few uneasy stirrings that had me text them to communicate that I was so very grateful, hoped I wasn’t being rude, and that I cared very much about them & about seeing them.

Then, I just climbed into a Dagobah of my own, mist and fog muffling everything.

Photo by Elizabeth McGuire w/edit by me;) – thank you Eliz ❤️

I was coherent enough to order room service for the next morning and hang the menu/do not disturb sign on the door, since I wasn’t going to move enough to get food.

Room service breakfast with a pristine down comforter to luxuriate in turns out to be one of my favorite things in this lifetime.

It reminds me of mornings in Switzerland with the cow bells faintly singing into the window through which I can see the brilliant green of hillside, as the fresh crisp breeze flirts with white curtains that filter the morning light to a glowing haze that sparkles on silver coffee pot, and dances in the steam curling from a freshly poured cup.

Yes, mornings in Switzerland are a run-on sentence; I could drape words around the memory all day, and still not feel I’ve conveyed the deep peace, comfort, beauty, and feeling of complete bliss.

It reminds me of England, where the ritual of breakfast (and tea, later on-) was an important time, a respected institution that felt established to remind me that my needs were important, and that enjoyment of taking nourishment was absolutely expected.

And then -I’ve written to you about the concert.

When I came home, something had shifted. I have felt buoyant, joyous, with more playful energy than I know what to do with.

I’ve plunged back into building fiction again in a way that’s been missing from my psyche for years. Just notes and short stories, thus far, but back to plot crafting in the worlds I began long ago. It’s back- the inspiration is back.

I can’t tell you what it means to have that precious stream flowing back in after years of agonizing chiseling away at dry, cracked and hardened earth- but if you work in a creative field, you will understand.

I had so much playful energy, the hard work went out the window. I’ve had to keep up with my commitments, but exercise has taken the form of yoga, lighter weight lifting, and walking for hours.

I had my first foray with the group I’ll be volunteering with, and I learned the importance of not waiting for my “perfect superhero physique” before I don my montrals. Ahsoka has tight leggings and a backless, sleeveless minidress, but I put it on even though I don’t feel “superhero” enough yet. But I’m getting there –

And what I learned was that it’s not about me at all. It’s not about my physique or my age or whatever. It’s about holding the line for that person crossing the finish line in their own victory lap. It’s about holding out my lightsaber for a little girl and letting her find out she’s strong enough to hold that heavy thing all by herself.

And I lost my balance. I overindulged in play. I’m exhausted. I’m depleted, but I am finding my way back to wholeness through connecting with friends and new people, and my own sparks of joy.

So. Week 5 is going to be about creating the balance.

“You are a dragon,” my therapist said to me. “I can see it. You’re a protector and you’re so strong, but you shrank it because you wanted to hold others up.” You didn’t ever have to shrink. Grow and breathe fire. Others can take care of themselves and find their own strength, or not, that’s their own lesson – you won’t help anyone by being afraid to be strong.

He may have not said those exact words all at once, but that’s the gist.

Balance takes a lot of small constant adjustments and awareness. The quickest way to be fully present, is to stand on one of those wobbly things that requires you to balance. It’s the same way in life. A little too far this way, a little too far that- and oh, the peace, for a moment, of “just right.”

Week 5 will be balance training. I’ve got this- I’m a dragon, after all –

Photo by Aki Kiriyama. Thank you, Aki! ❤️

Creative edit by Adam Browne. Thank you, Adam! ❤️

Week 3: Yoda’s theme

There’s a ghost who is by my side on the plane. I can feel him there – he’s got headphones on, and sometimes he looks out the window. He smiles at me, sips his drink (ginger ale), sleeps. He smells slightly sweet and spicy, honey mixed with clove and pine. He loves to travel with me. He holds my hand, sometimes. I feel him there, a solid, safe, warm presence; I could lay my head on his chest and drift into peace. I know his heartbeat. I thought that meant I understood his heart.

He walks by me in the airport. He sits beside me at the concert. He roams through the hotel room, checking out the view and laughing at the sound of the squeaky door.

He’s not real; I created him. He loves to travel with me, enjoys what I enjoy, delights in being with me sharing it all, understands how I feel, and experiences things with me. When I am reveling in being together and feeling content, so is he.

We create people in our own image … and it isn’t real. None of it. I’ve discovered this. All we can do is trust that they feel the same way we feel, but I’ll give you a peek at the end of this chapter: they don’t. People never feel the same way we feel. They feel how they feel. They see what they see, and they experience something completely different, even while sitting on the same damn plane. They can be sitting there angry or frustrated or bored, when we’re at our most content, feeling so connected – they can surprise us later with “no. It wasn’t special at all.” Oh yes – for the romantic hearts in the back row who don’t want to believe this- they truly can.

All we can hope is that they communicate how they feel, with frequency and honesty. Ha.

A friend flew me out to Cincinatti to see him conduct Empire Strikes Back to picture with a brilliant orchestra. To hear the music not down low in a cinema mix, but up front as the star (movie was captioned so the dialogue didn’t have to compete) changed me. Yoda’s theme, not delicate as usual but HUGE, changed me for good.

Gratitude –

My friend’s generosity changed me. He put me up in an hotel called the Renaissance, which oddly enough, I had stayed at in l.a. long ago with the love who inspired my ghost.

I took my ghost on a walk around the city, and we had ice cream together. Ice cream with a piece of pie on top, because it was insane, and why not.

I am not sure how long the ghost will stay, but I know that the kindness of friends mellows the grief. It’s turned into a familiar thing like a small belt around my chest, where it used to be a ship’s anchor.

Yoda’s theme used to have a hint of wistfulness to it, of longing, of reaching for something greater that was delicate and fragile. It tore into my heart in a deep place no other piece of music (so far) could reach.

This time, live, and with a brilliant conductor putting his heart into it, it was completely different. It had power lightly held in check. It was majestic grace, it was certainty. It held a note of exultation, of strength that doesn’t question but says, “watch this!” While it gleefully, smoothly lifts a ship out of the swampy ground without faltering.

The music said, “Trust me.”

Was it different, or was I different? Both, I think.

I heard it with my ghost sitting beside me, and in my heart I asked him how he enjoyed it. I never heard his answer, because my own answer mattered more, now. Yes. Enjoyed it past expressing, and was transformed.

Does the piece of music read us, or do we read the music? Both, I think.

Yoda’s theme used to hold a question for me. It reached. It wasn’t sure it would ever find what it sought with such powerful longing. I cried to feel the yearning in the notes.

This time, it answered. It held inevitability and solidity. It took my ghost away, and said “Trust.”

I cried this time in relief. I cried because the door to the kyber crystal chamber had closed, and I held my own answer gleaming green in my hand. I cried because I’d never see that chamber again.

And somehow, with my blindfold on, I feel now where to strike. I feel the way forward. I know (by the way, in Hebrew “Yoda” means “I know”-)

I know that all is as it should be. The solidity, the safety I felt when someone else held my hand, or when I could feel him near- I have that now inside my chest. On my own. Yoda’s theme took my question and smiled as it closed a door deep in my chest.

It is sealed, now. The answer is “trust me.”

I’ve received more than I know how to receive. I have been grateful more than I’ve ever been before. From parents to friends to complete strangers, the generosity of people is teaching me that I still have so much to learn about love.

And learn, I will.

Someday is Now – The Fixer

Matthew is creating a business. He’s also driving me to the airport at 5 o’clock am. I feel like I might be late. I’m tense, frazzled, running on John Williams in my head, and two hours’ sleep.

“Oh? I’d like to hear about it,” I said, my mirror-neurons already firing up story beginnings, readying the “startup” reference files – something to make money. The tomes politely stacked themselves on the “to be consulted” shelves in the front of my mental library; my brain does like to prepare its material-

“A way to feed the homeless,” he said. I hastily cleared my brain shelves and sat forward.

He talked quietly, in an impassioned murmur, eyes on the road intensely, as if it held the answer to delays in production. I strained forward even further into the middle, between the front seats, like a kid on a car trip wanting to be in on the talk.

“I swear I’ll drive safely,” he added, as he swerved a little while rooting around in his glove compartment for a card.

I didn’t care. Don’t drive safely. Tell me more.

“Debit cards people can deposit into. So they know where it’s going, they know it’s not being spent on booze or drugs, they know they’re helping, and the people who need it receive help.”

His voice cracked “it’s taking too long. It’s out of my hands in tech land now, and every day they delay, someone is out there, hungry. Hungry. I tell them, I don’t care – just GET IT DONE.” I recognize his determination- it’s in my chest, too. He doesn’t know any other reality than this business working, and delays are intolerable. Blocks between this moment and the non-Someday-but-NOW! future he can see so clearly, are chafing him. I get it. Man, do I get it.

He has an old friend who lives next door to “my favorite singer in the world;” he said, growing suddenly coy.

Hints crept out… finally a first name… and I said, “are you talking about Eddie VEDDER?”

“Yes,” he said, glancing at me, a bright, kyber-crystal-blue eye lancing me briefly, then turning back to the road – Matthew appears to live more deeply than most- “yeah. He does things for the homeless, so I thought- anyway, my friend keeps trying to lure me there.”

“I was in one of Eddie’s music videos,” I chuckled and told him the story of my Cameron Crowe adventure – “and I think this is a sign. You need to go. He’s the coolest, most kind man. He’ll hear you.”

We sat and talked a bit at the airport loading zone. I didn’t care at this point what time my flight was.

It didn’t matter. What was important was that Matthew believe that he’ll find support. If Eddie doesn’t get to hear of this brilliant plan that’s already in motion, someone will. But because he’s Matthew’s favorite singer, and because he was vulnerable, authentic, and so kind to all of us doing his video, I hope he will.

Matthew isn’t waiting on Someday. Someday better catch up- time’s dancing forward, and every day that passes, there’s someone out there who needs a meal, and even more, needs the precious knowledge that people do care. And there’s a driver named Matthew who cares a whole damn lot.

If I learned from the other drivers about the energy with which we weave our “Someday,”

From this one, I learned to find the fire of urgency. To visualize that person in my mind who needs my work NOW- and I’ll quickly dismantle my someday, and “get it DONE.”

“When something’s dark, let me shed a little light on it / When something’s cold, let me put a little fire on it/ If something’s old, I wanna put a bit of shine on it/ When something’s gone, I wanna fight to get it back again/ Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, fight to get it back again”

Someday, Maybe I will

The week David started as a chef at the Four Seasons, they found a rat in the kitchen.

“I’m not really a fine dining kind of guy,” he said, his face pensive. He was a mountain of a man, filling the driver’s seat to bursting, reminding me of Mr. Incredible crammed in a business suit.

“I’m going to stop driving when I pay off the Prius.”

I let the silence breathe, and he tells me he loves fishing. He tells me he’s going to write a cookbook, because he was given a legacy of Japanese recipes.

“Someday, maybe I will,”

He says –

* * *

Mohammed was a journalist for ten years in Mauritania, North Africa. It was dangerous to write there. “Were you afraid?” I asked.

“No-ooo,” he shrugged, “I just got used to it, I guess.”

He is studying Human Resources, a doctorate degree. When I misunderstood and thought he said something in politics, he laughed and said “maybe I will. Maybe I will study politics, and go back and change things in North Africa.”

I let the silence rest again, easy and welcoming.

“Someday, maybe I will.”

I left my notebook behind in Mohammed’s car, or in David’s, so I’m jotting their stories here, for now. There are many more details I will add, so you can feel them, see them – these Uber drivers.

When I left one of their cars, I felt I had donned a heavy lead-lined cloak of despair, woven from burst pipes before thanksgiving, rusted underpinnings in a House said to be a blessing, a marriage handed as a someday vision while underneath – oh, underneath, I had a vision of myself choking on mud under that house, my broken fingernails scraping for a way out. The world was all grime and graffiti, and I raged at the hopelessness of it.

When I left the other car, I was light, the world sparkled, and fairy lights shone in the water, gleaming blue, gold and rose in beauty that had me gasp in delight. “Yes, it is beautiful,” he said, happily.

– oh – I nearly forgot the lawyer; how delightful he was. We were breaking the rules, tried to board twice, and he got tangled in the fence separating one side from another. To laugh together was such a simple moment of complete connection, while the guard glowered.

Where are you going? Where are you staying? “I don’t want to go to Cincinatti,” he said, with the air of confiding a shameful secret. “The meetings last ALL DAY, then you go out afterward with the same people.”

His face was so wistful, the sparkle faded.

“Then leave afterward, and hear some music,” I said.

“Maybe I will,” he answered, his smile returning.

I’ll learn to create the energy I wish to live inside, not take on that of others. I’ll learn to lend my own lenses. I’ll learn the kind of strength that can give the gift, and paint despair with brighter hues.

Someday, maybe I will.

Week 2: I Could Do This All Day

It’s day 16 of my self-created program. Eventually, I’m going to need to get some professional input, but for now, I’m sticking with a challenge through my gym, and adding some stuff myself.

It’s been a struggle of a week. I can’t believe this is only day 16.

All I’m going to say for this entry is:

I can do this all day.

I’ve been on the floor, proverbially and literally, and the hits just keep coming –

But I’m sticking with what I am committed to, which is: strict diet plan. Drink 1/2 body weight in water a day. Work out every day with no exceptions.

That’s all. Right now, when I check off those tasks and remain accountable with my gym challenge, it gives me something to focus on.

Losing weight is proving easy, compared to the emotional battle I’m fighting.

But! If you’re going through something rough, all I can jot down here on day 16 is: check off some physical maintenance tasks every day. It just helps to anchor me in this place and time, and it helps me to know I am keeping the engine running, even if I’m not really present that day- I can look back and go oh yeah, I drank water.

Here’s a photo of the meal journal :

As for the struggle that’s happening in my heart and mind, here’s what’s helping : I found a children’s charity organization to volunteer for.

I focus daily on gratitude for my incredibly generous friends: this needs to be a journal entry on its own, because friends have blown my mind with their kindness, and receiving has turned out to be another challenge, another muscle to strengthen. I’ve had to, as I don’t have the emotional or energetic resources to reciprocate right away, so I’ve had to just receive and give them my gratitude, writing a heart-list of thank-you gifts I need to give when I am restored enough to do so.

My collection of “superhero” workout clothing is growing. My body is getting stronger. My heart will catch up when she is ready –

Repping Ahsoka, and keeping going

That is all. I’m ragged, this time, so my journal will reflect that – and it will get better.

If you are going through hell, keep going.

1) eat right. Even if things taste like sand; just put healthy nutrients on your plate, and tell your body thanks for holding you up while you get through this.

2) move your body. It helps the emotions move through, and out of the stuck places. It helps clear and refocus the mind.

3) let people help you

(This is bloody hard, and I absolutely know that. It may be the most challenging of all. It can come with shame … but please. Remember how good it feels to help someone else, and just be grateful for the kind people around you.)

4) don’t lean TOO hard (do practice self-soothing. Everyone is struggling, and can’t carry it all. You can do this. You’ve got this.)

5) When you can, help someone else – (consult your own energy on this one, and don’t pour from an empty cup. Just do what you can. You’ll know. I will be cosplaying for kids, because it also helps my heart to do so.)

6) Move away from energetic drains.

(Don’t be “polite,” and suffer as a result. If people are asking attention that you need for yourself and your own healing right now, don’t be afraid to say no. I’ve even had people be rude and actually flat out vicious. I am running on fumes, so it hasn’t been hard for me to say “I don’t have the energy to give to you right now.” And shut the door to inappropriate, demanding, insensitive, or unkind people. Old me wouldn’t have been able to be so blunt.)

And when the going gets really rough, just tell yourself “I can do this all day.” And keep. Going.

That’s all I’ve got for week two –