Reconnection Project

The Beating Heart of Fandom

Today is T-14 days until my 40th birthday, and the Reconnection Project has empowered me more than I ever thought it would. Today, I start the process of moving beyond me... Let the games begin.

Fandom is an action and a community.

The Last Air Bender from Shore Leave 32

When I say fandom is an action, it is a bunch of actions.

  • Reading and writing Fan fiction

  • Creating, sharing, and discussing Fan theories

  • Listening to, writing, and singing Filk

  • Sharing, making, and viewing Fan Art

  • Fan Vids

  • Fan films

  • Cosplay

  • Costuming

  • Roleplaying

  • Fan games

  • etc...

Every fan has their own way of participating in fandom. I used to participate a lot more than I do now. And that changes today.

When I stopped everything in the depths of my depression, I stopped playing in the fandoms I love.  I cut myself off from the fan communities I used to not only participate in, but I cut myself off from the people I used to interact with.

Community and fanac (fan activities) go hand in hand, especially now in this age of the internet.

We are defined by our actions

I cannot say that enough to myself or to you.

Ideas in your head stay in your head and if you aren't careful, they will cage you in there.

Life is action. If you want to live a life of compassion, you have to engage in acts of compassion or you are not compassionate. The same is true with everything.

If you want to define yourself by what you love, you have to engage in loving actions.

In fandom, that means, we have to share what we love and promote it. Don't let yourself be passive. Passivity is silence, and silence is nonexistence.

Take your voice back! Take your life back! Share your love with the world. 

Some people might think this is a silly or trivial thing, but it isn't.

My love for Yoda says something about me. He represents wisdom, inner strength, and the ability to find humor in any situation. These are all qualities I admire and desire in myself. When I see my Yodas around the house, it works as a symbol which draws up all these connections in my unconscious mind and strengthens those qualities within me.

Some people might think that is taking all this too seriously, but that is how mythology works.  It is a subtile effect on us, but it effects us all the same. By choosing to surround myself with these images, seeking them out, and sharing them, I am participating in the mythos. Ever time I quote Yoda, I am participate in the mythos and strengthen those qualities in me. 

Don't think that these are some kind of solemn acts. Solemnity isn't required for actions to have effects on our selves. Sometimes they are moments of catharsis, and sometimes they are pure frivolity.  

Today's Task: 

Find at least one thing you love and participate in it.  Share a picture, a video, read some fanfic, watch a fanfilm, or at the very least watch or listen to something you love.

Let me know how you are participating in the things you love.

Let your light Shine

Today is T-15 to my 40th Birthday and I feel like wrapping up in a blanket and ignoring everything because my allergies struck back. A trivial problem, but when you are trying to build up momentum any stumbling block can knock you back down.

One of the biggest problems we face is when we are judged for what we feel is a problem in our lives that when compared to other problems in the world seem trivial. Our problems are ours, and we have to deal with them as they face us.

Now, don't misunderstand me.  I am not saying it is ok to whine about our state in life or wallow in your own misery.  In fact, we have to do the exact opposite.

Obstacles

Whether big or small, obstacles will always crop up. Their severity is all too often dictated by our mood when we stumble upon them.  If we are at a particularly low point even the smallest thing can throw us completely off our game.

What is your light?

Our light is a combination of things.

Light Empowers

Whatever empowers you is part of your light.  Whether it is music, dancing, drawing, writing, cooking, baking, knitting, it is important for you to know it and have it at hand when the time comes.

One of my biggest recharging stations is music.  I love to listen to it, and even more to sing along. I don't have a good singing voice, but I don't care.  I love it. As I write this, I feel lucky by Mary Chapin Carpenter came on.  I am not a big Country music fan, but I love that song.  I had to stop typing and just sing along. Here's the video if you want to join in.

Now that feels a lot better.  I don't exclusively listen to happy go lucky music.  Right now, Reptile by Creaming Jesus is on and I am singing along to it too.

Both songs work for me, but I have always been a Goth at heart.  Neither of these may work for you, and that's fine.  Find what works for you, and embrace it.  We have to take moments to refuel or we can't complain when we inevitably run out of gas.

Light from Within

Light also comes from within us. This isn't where I tell you that you have an ineffable light deep down inside you and you have to let it shine.  You do, we all do, but that isn't what I am talking about right now.

There are things you do that are uniquely you that can fight back the darkness when it comes for you.

It might be your sense of humor, or wit, or a quirk in your perspective that comes from a very honest and vulnerable place.  This light can be the hardest to find and harness, but it is key to fighting off the darkness.

For me, this is my imagination. Whether I let myself day dream for a minute, rework a old myth into a new story, or just wander through some old memories, I find strength in the words and images arising from my unconscious mind.  That is why the first thing that I struggle with in dark times is my ability to imagine.

When you find that unique thing inside you, learn how to harness it to make yourself stronger.

Today's Task

Find one thing that refuels you and makes you feel alive and do it for no less than 15 minutes.

I am going to give a private concert to my dog and cat, and to his chagrin my husband who is working out of the house today.  What are you going to do?

There's not enough Love and Understanding

It is now T-16 to my 40th Birthday, and it happens to be Brian's Birthday today.  As I write this, he is playing Civ VI, his present with the biggest smile on his face.  It is hard to express how much I love him.

Love is such a strange thing.  I never thought this would be a part of my life, yet still here it is.  Our story is as strange and bizarre as it would have to be to get people like us together.  My life has taught me the most important thing anyone could ever know about love:

Love sneaks up on you

By that, I mean every kind of love. Romantic, friendly, familial, or just simple compassion, it just sneaks up on you. It doesn't come when you seek it out.  It seems to hide when you look for it, but when you least suspect it, there it is.  I was in a relationship when I met Brian.  I wasn't looking for anything else, but it happen anyway.

Friends from Shore Leave.

Romantic love isn't the only kind of love that sneaks up on you. Friends do as well. I never expected to make so many friends from New York, especially since I haven't been to the state since 1996, but now I have a circle of friends there that are as supportive, if not more, than any of the friends I have in the town where I live. How did that happen? 

Honestly Honesty

After an event I am not going to go into a lot of detail about took place in 1998-99, many people I thought were friends stole every THING that I had including my sense of self and how the world works. After that, I decided just be bluntly and blatantly who and what I am.

While I wouldn't recommend for everyone to be as open about their lives as I am, I will say that you have to be yourself.  

Stop caring about what others think about you

I am just me, and you should be you. If you spend any amount of time worrying about what other people think about you, that is just a waste of time.

The one thing most lacking in this world is honesty or integrity or however you want to name it.  Society will always pressure individuals to play a role, because it is a machine like everything else.  It packages, names, and grinds people down until they fit into the role it needs them to fill.

What is important to remember is that Society is made up of many subcultures, and those subcultures empower Society to behave the way it does.  If you are in a subculture that doesn't want you, find another that does.

I left the mainstream or popular subculture years ago because I am not the Cisgendered, Heteronormalized, Centrist demanded my the currant cadre of subcultures that make up the present coalition we call Pop Culture.  

I am not Cisgendered, so I identify as genderqueer, or more specifically as androgynous.  I planted a flag there, and made a home in a community that accepted me as I am.

I could never live a Heteronormalized life, so I found myself in the feminist and LGBT communities.

I am not a centrist, so I called myself out as a liberal.

So what subculture do I live in? Fandom. I love a subculture that defines itself by what it loves rather than what it hates (which is how fandom should be defined, even though sometimes people push the edges of that definition).

To me, that is the secret of life and how everyone should act.  When you focus on the things you love, you attract a loving community around you.  This is a how you attract love in every form.

Brian and I connected through fan activities, and we have now been together for almost 20 years.  All of the friends I have, I met through our mutual fandoms.  Love gives meaning to life.  Love gives us strength.  Love is all that matters.

Task for Today

Share something you love with a partner, friend, or a stranger.  Connect with those closest to you over your mutual love for something: music, shows, movies, games, etc.

Let me know what your results are.

Take back your life one thing at a time

It is T-17 days until I turn 40, and I am surprised at how that base 10 number is affecting me.  It is not that I feel old, it is more that I am looking back on my life to this point and wondering what (if anything) I have done with it.

This is a self portrait I made May 13, 2014, I think you can see how I felt.

I would never say that I have wasted my life, but the last several years have been empty and devoid of meaning and purpose.  I lost myself.  This isn't a midlife crisis or anything of the sort. A couple years ago I fell into the deepest depression I have ever experienced.  Through it, I disconnected from everything and everyone I ever loved.  I lost almost all of my friends, and I don't blame them. I was not a good person to be around.

Nothing made me laugh. Everything made me cry.  I couldn't feel anything at all.  I didn't/couldn't care about any aspect of my or anyone else's life.  It is hard for me to explain to someone who hasn't gone there what a black hole my life was.  I hope no one reading this has ever been in a place like that.  It was a vacuous pain no one ever needs to feel.

Since I came back, it has been really hard for me to reconnect to my life. Everything seems distant. Those connections didn't magically reform, and I don't expect them to.  I have to do the work, and that is what this series is about.

11 Years ago was my first Book Launch Party...

My Book Launch Party at the Wine Rack/Java Stop for Liquid Sky.

My first and only Book Launch Party was 11 years ago today...  When I think about it, it was my only book launch party.  Liquid Sky, my first novel had just come out.  You can see how happy I am in the picture.

If the depression I just talked about was the lowest I have ever felt, this was probably the best.  After years of writing, the fourth book I had written was right there in print for anyone to read.  Even now, when I think about it, I can't help but smile.

I don't know why I didn't celebrate the release of any of my other books. In fact, I hadn't realized that I hadn't until I started writing this.  That is something that has to change.

8 years after this, we bought the Wine Rack... Everything should have been great, but by January the next year I tweeted:

By July, I had completely fallen off the cliff.  It's not like everything was all good before that.  All this had built up for years, and the collapse took years away from me.  

Stopping Everything Stops Everything

Leading up to this depression, I had stopped podcasting, because I didn't enjoy doing it by myself.  I stopped blogging because I couldn't see the point of it.  I stopped writing because the stories weren't perfect.  I stopped going out because it felt pointless.  I stopped everything then everything stopped.

I am not saying my depression was my fault.  Depression isn't something that can be blamed on its victim.  What I am saying is that the problems mounted one on another until I was buried so deep I couldn't breathe.  I didn't see it coming. I couldn't see it from the inside.

Now that I am on the other side, putting my life back together has been more of a challenge than I want it to be.  Not like life cares.  Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

Starting One thing at a time.

To get my life back, I realize that I am going to have to start up one thing at a time.

For me that means I have to start with my first love, writing.

I love to tell stories.  I don't care if they are books, short stories, podcasts, or prose poems.  I just love to tell stories.  Even in my darkest moments, I tried to write, but I allowed the perfect to be the enemy of the good.  I wrote nothing because the stories weren't the greatest thing ever.  How stupid is that?!

My stories are my stories.  They are my heart.  Whether or not anyone likes them other than me, they are my stories.  I don't have to care what anyone else thinks about them.  All that matters is that I like them.

That is where I have to start.  You might have a different starting point, and you probably will, but each and every one of us has something in our lives that gives us a sense of purpose or meaning. I have to write something, anything every day until that connection comes back strong in my life.

Every day, leading up to my 40th birthday, I am going to find one thing to celebrate or reconnect to.  I hope you join me on my journey.  I am taking my life back, and I urge you to do the same.

Please share your journey with me.  Let's walk this road together.