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 –

Day 3: I Am No Jedi

One of the things I love about Ahsoka Tano is she turns her back on the Jedi when her integrity requires her to do so.

Someone in my life I love and admire very much did that recently – completely went against what societal convention and pressure dictated, made an extremely difficult decision, and faced the fallout of people potentially not understanding, jumping to conclusions, attacking, etc. What admirable courage of heart this took! Not many people can seize their lives like this.

I was often vocal about my support of – choose! Choose your own life and truth every day! But when the choice wasn’t what I wanted, I hit a wall in which I couldn’t completely live in that ideal. I wanted to, but I was grieving. I went through my own journey of loving release, then deep hurt, then back to acceptance and now – complete admiration – for this person’s choice. This person has my full support, gratitude, and I completely celebrate now, that they are living their fullest life as they need it to look. It wasn’t cut and dried for me- because their fullest life involved a future without me in it.

I try to be an evolved human, but emotions are things that have to be allowed. Hopefully, allowed in a way that doesn’t hurt others… but I can be messy.

And the messiness brought me, in the roundabout way “meant to be” things seem to occur, to myself. To getting to know and belong to myself in a way I didn’t know was possible. By doing the hardest thing and living their truth fully, this person gave me the deepest gift! They gave me MY truth, as well.

Incredible. I don’t think it could have happened any other way.

This is a part of the Grey Path too, I think – loving one’s self in the moments one doesn’t live up to the Jedi-Hero ideal, and also trusting that even though the decision may hurt deeply (if you’ve seen the scene where Ahsoka refuses her padawan braid, this is a prime example,) it is the right way to go, and there will eventually be even more beauty, more abundance, more fully LIVING because of it.

And this is Ahsoka. How easy it would be for her to just slide back into the role of Padawan, about to become a fully fledged Jedi. But

“I am no Jedi,”

she says. One of her most powerful moments.

I am no Jedi

Walking the grey path (neither all light or all dark) requires us to check in with our motivation, pause before reacting, and choose from the wise place of deep knowing, rather than choosing from “shoulds,” habit, or a desire to please others, or a fear of others’ disapproval.

What else are we here for? I wish to come to the end of my life and know that I lived MY life. That my mistakes were mine, and I fully stood in my truth as much as possible, and allowed others theirs.

Which brings me to day 3. My morning’s training was “what have you learned from your failures?” It was about how failure is good, is important.

Random kitty break! (Her name is Ahsoka…)

And I realized: I haven’t failed at anything lately, (except perhaps the relationship I mention in the beginning of this post- but, though I risked and dared absolutely everything for it, I don’t count that a failure at all… it feels like a victory in so many ways, for both of us- I just don’t know why or how, yet.)

I’ve failed at nothing. Which tells me I haven’t been risking enough, in more years than I can count. I can’t remember the last time I failed, except for physical stuff like double-unders or pull-ups.

This realization was a bit of a punch in the gut.

I need to get on the field again. I need to risk, and I need to fail.

Failure is extremely important.

Have you failed lately?

Check your path. The safe way is to go along knowing you’re all light or all dark – and how do you know? Because you follow those in front of you. There’s always someone in front. There are always a lot of people around you on those paths, because approval is the way people on those paths stay safe. They know they’re right, because Yoda or the Supreme Leader gave a nod of approval. Because all the others approve and agree. How safe, how comforting …how utterly devoid of questions.

What happens if a person starts questioning, weighing whether things are in alignment with their individual truth, with their core values?

They risk causing disruption on the extreme paths. They fall into Grey.

Sometimes, scoundrels and non-Jedi need to walk alone-

and I would far rather strike out on my own knowing I was fully living my truth, than feel a deep core loneliness in a crowd because I wasn’t being honest, wasn’t being myself.

This is the heart of Ahsoka. She can’t remain detached, because sometimes her sense of justice causes her to get involved. She can’t follow the rules, if the rules don’t make sense.

She is one of my heroes.

And today at the gym, I worked so hard I was actually making a thin sort of keening noise at one point (thank goodness for loud music), and crawled over to get my bag, but had to lie down in fetal position on the way there.

Proof

I didn’t bench press a very heavy weight, but it was a good step for me. I didn’t deadlift the heaviest of everyone there, but I was strong in my form and felt good. I didn’t row the fastest by any means, (in fact, of the day, I came in at a lowly 5th) but I worked as hard as I could.

I didn’t do the highest number of bicep curls, either, but I did more than I thought I possibly could.

Today was an AWESOME day.

Sometimes, you wind up on the floor. But if you’re on the floor having given all you’ve got, that’s an incredible feat of courage, and a big step forward.

Now. Let’s all go fail more. Risk more, leap more, fall more, risk all, be messy, apologize, try again, lose our tempers, learn from it, grieve, be “extra,” miss a dance step or two, laugh too much, throw our hearts toward our dreams, turn our feet toward the path that is our truth and let people have their reactions- that is their story to live.

Walking the Grey Path isn’t easy – but it’s worth it.

“In my experience, just when you think you understand the Force, you find out how little you actually know.” – Ahsoka Tano

day 2: Get Your Hero On

Beginning an endeavor publicly, and being quite specific about the goal, is like setting out a bowl of honey in front of an ants’ nest.

You will discover haters when you least expected them.

I’m doing something for myself – I am changing my life. The future I had been living into so clearly I felt it was already real, is now nonexistent. It is up to me to burn that draft completely, and rewrite.

Ah, the terror and wonder of a completely blank page!

I could go absolutely anywhere. I could do anything.

I decided to take stock before I dash off somewhere, sink into my heart, and do some deep renovations; to rebuild my life beginning with my health and my body – the things I know are my own. I don’t need to move across the ocean just yet- I have work to do in my soul, first; I have wonderful friends and a happy life here, I may as well start right where I am.

“You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.” – Eckhart Tolle

A very good old (of 30 years’ standing- that should earn him a distance medal-) friend and trainer, and another very good trainer I’ve been learning from for a few years, are supports I am grateful to have.

A good therapist, as well, is a support I am grateful to have.

Old-friend-trainer gave me an assessment, to offer me some help and support in this rebuild from the rubble of my old life.

“I need you to get specific about your goal,” he said.

“I don’t know- a bikini competition?” Nah. Didn’t feel authentic to me. “Better posture?” On the right track. “Confidence?” Yes. “No longer giving a flying frack what anyone else thinks!” Heck, yes. “You know, Milo,” (his name is Milo-) “I just want to be Okoye.”

“Train for a black belt?” He offered.

“Hm, no. But I am building a character, and I want my version of her to have the heart of Okoye. I don’t have Ahsoka’s body type, but I can become a warrior.”

He looked up from where he was (HEROICALLY!) cooking breakfast for me (what!!! I know ✨✨), and his face lit up. “I like that plan,” he said, and that’s when I realized it was, actually, a plan, not just a playful conversation. He held out his fist. I bumped it with mine- and the deal was sealed.

And so, the Jedi-hero plan was built. The magical thing is, it doesn’t matter what other people think about it! It doesn’t matter if they understand… but I’m sharing it for anyone who wants to get from point absolute-nothing-in-life-is-true-anymore, to build-your-own-Wakanda-Coruscant.

It won’t all happen in six months, but the habits will be there.

The awesome thing is, people who feel they need to criticize or express skepticism are very few compared to the ones who are supportive, interested, and even inspired. So the little digs made me smile. Their comments feel like little boosts to my airship fuel tanks…

Check back in in 6 months, dear Nellies of the world, and you’ll still be squinting at your screen thinking up something passive-aggressive to say about someone else, while I’ll be living into my fun vision.

OR, I don’t know, join me, and make something cool with your life. Crazy thought!

So. Without further ado:

Day two involved therapy (yes! Jedisuperheroes need to hone our minds and mental health as well!)

It involved drinking water, stretching, Getting Stuff Done, eating right(!),

And a flexibility workout.

Eating right:

I begin with a shake. I prefer a low sugar high protein one called Orgain with superfoods. I add frozen broccoli or a cup of mixed greens. I add half a banana, or half cup blueberries.

I also begin with coffee, because I am addicted to the stuff, and I wish to be able to speak to people, rather than growl.

I’m still exploring snacks. Today I split up an isagenix bar, but that was an emergency fallback, as I was rushing to aforementioned therapy appointment.

Chicken breast. Broccoli. Sauerkraut.

Exciting stuff, I know. But if this kind of eating is new to you, try it for a while. You’ll get used to it. You’ll find you crave it. It takes the body a little while to adjust, if you’re used to eating out a lot. Give it a try!

When I’m super munchy before bed, I have a cup of frozen grapes. These things are like enchanted Turkish delight, so measure them. Really. They are SO GOOD.

Photo. Because they are THAT good!

that’s all for today- it was mild, but progress happened.

OH! And someone is making me an Okoye *and* an Ahsoka workout shirt! Oh yeeeeaaaah, it is happening. Will probably take a month or more, but I am thrilled!

In the meantime, here’s a stand-in. I bought this in Ticonderoga, NY, on a sale rack at wal-mart for $5. I wasn’t even into superheroes at that point; I just needed a t-shirt, as the film shoot was longer than my clothing supply. (Incidentally, that’s the film shoot that opened the door I stepped through which closed a month ago, but led me here to this moment, in a liminal space with a dizzying amount of doors I can choose next! Funny thing, life- there’s nothin’ like it. 😉 )

Later, my boxing teacher said it was his favorite, so I hung onto it. Years after that, I dyed it purple. These heroes were just hanging about, waiting for me to discover them: and so I shall.

Get Your Hero On, everyone, no matter how long it takes, and no matter who laughs, or tries to beat you up in an alley.

“I could do this all day.” – Captain America ❤️

(This is rambly. I’m not editing it. If you’ve got questions, ask questions- I’m here all week-)