Why Rey of “Sunshine”?

How did I get the name for this new section of my blog? Sure, Rey is a pretty obvious choice, and the pun on being a “ray of sunshine” always makes me giggle. But the name Sunshine has a double meaning for me:

Ever since I was a baby, my mom would sing me “You Are My Sunshine”, and it’s always reminded me of her. So much so, in fact, that it inspired my first tattoo:

Now, while my mom was around when the original trilogy came out, she never became a fan. But when The Last Jedi came out, she asked if we could go see the movie together, and I melted from happiness. I tried explaining that she might not know who some of the people were and it could get confusing, but she didn’t mind – she just wanted to go see the movie that made me “so happy”. Could you just squeal??

So after giving her a crash course in the new trilogy, we watched TLJ and loved every second of it. I caught her laughing and smiling along. The crowning moment of my life, though, came when Luke is training Rey on the ledge and she describes what she sees. When they briefly show a mama porg shielding her little babies, my mom went, “AWWWW!” right there in the theater. My mama porg ❤

After the movie, we went out to IHOP and I mentioned to her that my goal for 2018 was to join the Rebel Legion so I could go on troops at children’s hospitals and other charity events. She was thrilled for me, and even asked me how the costume was coming in the next few months.

When she and my father finally came out to see me at a troop, and it all came full circle. As we walked through the convention floor, a little girl ran up to me for a photo. My parents stepped away and looked on as I told the little one to put her hand on my staff and we posed for the picture. Afterwards, my mom mentioned how cool it was that these kids get to see their favorite characters, and how happy she was that I got to do that for them.

That’s when it hit me: every time I strap on those belts and pull my hair into those buns, I can be a “Rey” of Sunshine for these kids. And that’s how I got the name for this little corner of the internet!

May the Fourth Be With You

Since hurtling headfirst into the Star Wars fandom back in 2015, I’ve celebrated May the Fourth in increasingly ridiculous ways each year. IMG_1593 My first year, May 4th also coincided with a launch party I had a hand in planning at my job, so I coopted a small section of the party and created the Mos Eisley Cantina, complete with my little Sphere BB-8 and a Photo Booth with masks: The following year, with no parties in sight, I celebrated May the Fourth by surprising my coworkers with a pop-up Tosche Snack Station, complete with Princess Leia buns and Sarlacc Pit Dip.

That night, I attended a Paint & Sip party with my friend Jenny, where we got tipsy, created lightsaber paintings under the guidance of a guy dressed like Han Solo, and generally had too much fun.

In 2018, I was SUPER stoked: I had just started a new job at an incredible place, and wanted to treat all of my new coworkers with a full on feast… and they LOVED it.

IMG_1572 Before I could even get it all set up, people were calling friends from other departments to come and see the “party” I had created. IMG_1577 I took a risk in showing my “true” self to these folks and they ate it up – literally and figuratively. Really, there was like no food left by 10:30am. IMG_1586.jpg In fact, I made such an impression that HR saw fit to include a recap of the party on the office-wide TV screens for more than a week after the fact: img_1738.jpg After the office party, I had my heart set on another Paint & Sip event after having such a great experience the year before. Unfortunately, the only one near by was about an hour away, and I don’t know about you but paying $40 for a Paint & Sip night and only painting and not sipping because I have to drive is kind of lame. IMG_1647.jpg But the picture was sooooo pretty!!! Luckily, I have VERY talented friends, and after I lamented not getting to paint this gorgeous thing, my friend (who happens to live across the street from me) invited me over for our own local Paint & Sip and we did a pretty stinking good job if I do say so myself:
Do you celebrate May the Fourth? Do you have any party planning tips? Share in the comments!

Dream Cosplays

While I haven’t had much experience as a cosplayer, one thing I DO have is Star Wars experience. A few solid years of it, actually. And if years in this fandom has taught me anything, it’s that it’s not the skill that’s important – it’s the desire to make something happen.


With that in mind, I’m a big believer of putting those crazy lofty goals out there in the universe, if not just to make them real. So today I’m going to talk about my dream cosplays – because even though they seem like impossible dreams now, who the hell knows where I’ll be in a few years’ time?

Enfys Nest

235159780715706cee4c56ab4619f103Spoiler Alert if you haven’t seen Solo: A Star Wars Movie (though why you’d be reading a Star Wars blog if you haven’t seen a Star Wars movie that’s been out for more than 2 months is beyond me), but Enfys Nest is definitely one of my top 5 dream cosplays. I went into the movie liking the look of the character, but when that helmet came off, I FELL IN LOVE. Immediately I wanted it all: the cape, the fur, the helmet, the staff…


And when I learned what the helmet actually said??? I want to cosplay as Enfys Nest in a bad way. Even if I could make or own the helmet, I think I’d want to be buried in it. It’s that badass.



Random, and kind of out of character, I know – but something about the iconic look of this suit just screams awesome to me. When I see a TK at an event, I immediately smile. Yes, I know they should have the opposite effect because they’re the bad guys, but it’s just… they’re classic, instantly recognizable, and again, just like Enfys Nest, BADASS.

Queen Amidala’s Red Invasion Gown


This is it, guys. The gown that got me into Star Wars. The dress that launched my cosplay fantasies, if you will.


This one is by far my ultimate. If I could only ever create one more costume for the rest of my life, it would have to be this one.


I’ve gone as far as researching the different fabrics and materials used by other costume builders to create their own versions, and have even sourced materials nearby, but I haven’t considered this a reality. Maybe one day 😉

What about you? What are your dream cosplays? If you could create or own any costume, what would it be, Star Wars or not?

I Love Trailer Reaction Videos

When The Force Awakens opened, I discovered the wonderful world of Trailer Reaction Videos and fell in love. If you haven’t seen these, it goes like this: people apparently record themselves watching something for the very first time and share their reactions with the community, much to the delight of all involved. I found the emotions these people shared to be so raw and so real, and I loved it. Seriously, just try NOT to cry when a whole slew of people SCREAM WITH JOY when Han Solo shows up in this one (it happens around 1:23 and I cry. every. time.):

So back in April of 2017 when The Last Jedi teaser trailer was released at Star Wars Celebration, I recorded myself watching it for kicks and never really did much with it.

Although I did learn something about myself: when I’m truly surprised, I make the exact same faces as this guy.


Don’t believe me? See for yourself (pressed for time? scrub to 1:40 for my facial gymnastics):

You’re welcome.

So anyway, in keeping with my tradition of recording reaction videos, I hit record when the FULL Last Jedi trailer premiered, and this is what we get:

Note: I did edit the end of the video a bit tight; apparently my emotions were running SO high that I turned and spewed a whole litany of “I told you so”-type expletives at my husband that are definitely NSFW, so there you go.

What do you think about trailer reaction videos? Have you ever recorded one? Even if it’s not Star Wars related, please show me, I love squealing over things excitedly with other fans!

The Joy Awakens

How did I get into Star Wars and the Rebel Legion? Pour yourself a mug of thala siren milk and pull up a chair, it’s story time.

My infatuation with Star Wars has taken a winding road through my life. Full disclosure: I’m not one of those people who was raised with this franchise in my blood. In fact, I distinctly remember my grandmother trying to get me into the original trilogy, which I turned up my nose at. Labyrinth was LIFE for me from ages 5 through 12. These space movies were boring. They didn’t have any singing or dancing (or David Bowie), so I didn’t have any interest.

What I did have was crippling anxiety and depression, even at a young age. My first panic attacks happened between grade school and middle school, and I soon learned (with help from a great therapist and the support of my parents) that change was what set that anxiety off. Fast forward to the end of middle school, when high school loomed on the horizon, and my anxiety started to creep back into my life like a storm cloud.

And magically, The Phantom Menace arrived on the scene.

The hype for this film was at its peak right when I needed a distraction. I still remember seeing Natalie Portman in that incredible red gown in the trailers and thinking, Oh. Girls can like this?

So I liked it. A LOT. For a few years. I jumped right into the fandom and watched the movies over and over again, read the comics, hung the posters on my wall… and then I got used to high school. I fell into a rhythm and found other outlets. By the time Revenge of the Sith had come out, I had more or less lost interest once again. Even though I’m ashamed of this, I’ll admit: I became “too cool” for Star Wars.

Fast forward once more to December of 2015. I was 32, married to the best guy ever, had a stable job and a successful blog, and everything going for me. But I had fallen into a depression unlike any other I’d experienced in my 32 years. Everything hurt. At my worst, my husband had to drive me to the park and physically pull me from the car to walk by the water, just to get me out of the house.

I’d seen trailers for The Force Awakens and knew that I wanted to see it just for a distraction and an excuse to eat some popcorn. But when we finally sat down in the theater the day before New Year’s Eve, I had no idea that the movie I was about to see would quite literally turn my life around.

I watched it three times in the movies and quickly fell back into the fandom – which was even easier this time thanks to social media and the incredible team at Disney that turned Star Wars from just a bunch of movies and comic books and TV shows into a true way of life. My friends who had loved Star Wars from the start all laughed at me as I tumbled down the rabbit hole and re-watched every movie over and over, connecting the dots and learning the names of all these characters.

It was like I had found a family I never knew I belonged to.

When my closest friend Debie held a Star-Wars-themed 10th wedding anniversary/vow renewal costume party in May 2016, I knew I had to dress up as Rey.

Rey embodied all the qualities I wish I had: bravery, strength, focus, determination… plus it didn’t hurt that she got to use a lightsaber! So I started scavenging costume pieces from anywhere I could find: Kmart curtains I dyed in a pot of tea and hemmed with hot glue became my tabards; Uggs served as good enough desert dweller boots; the staff was just a child’s toy I bought from Amazon and duct taped together when it arrived broken.

But when I put that costume on and pulled my hair into those buns, I physically felt different. Stronger, more capable.

However, dressing as Rey in the office is frowned upon, and people tend to stare when you run errands in cosplay. So I packed my costume away and stuck with enjoying the idea of dressing up in a smaller way at events that featured Star Wars characters, like Star Wars Nights at local baseball games and charity events.

Finally, at the New Jersey Devils’ Star Wars Night in December 2017, I gathered the courage I needed to make conversation with one of the characters and asked all the questions. How do you do this? You make a costume to specific guidelines and submit for approval and sign up online to “troop” with other characters at things like children’s hospitals and sporting events. Can I do this? Absolutely!

It was like a lightbulb had gone off: I could dress up as Rey AND do good? I became obsessed.

Slowly but surely, I started gathering all the info I could from Facebook costuming groups and online forums. Piece by piece I built my costume, with hours of blood, sweat and tears…. OH so many tears. I obsessed over the minute differences between sandstone, beige, eggshell and cream. I went to hardware stores and learned how to use a Dremel tool. I stabbed myself with sewing needs and burnt my fingers on hot glue.

Finally, after being approved in late June of 2018, I went on my first troop at a Lego convention in early July. Within the first hour, a child came running at me with open arms and screamed “REY!”… and I didn’t stop smiling for the next seven hours. My cheeks hurt the next day.

I had found my thing. In all the things I’d done before – running, writing, etc – I mainly took pleasure in them for pretty selfish reasons. Sure, running helped me fund-raise for charitable organizations, and writing allowed me to help other people by sharing my story about anxiety and depression, but cosplay has given me instant gratification – I see the smiles on these kids’ faces and know I’m doing a good thing.

So here I am, starting this blog. I’ll share the ups and downs of creating these costumes, talk about my favorite parts of the fandom, and most importantly, talk with YOU about what you’re working on! The only reason I’ve come this far is by connecting with other folks who do this too, and now I want to Rey it Forward (ah? See what I did there??) and share the knowledge and gain even more of my own!

So thanks for stopping by – and reading this ridiculously long post – and be sure to give me a follow on my Star Wars themed Instagram to stay in the loop!

Mile 26

Real Talk: The TCS New York City Marathon left me turned off about running. With having to put our cat to sleep the day after the race and dealing with injuries for months post-race, I never felt that post-marathon high.

I deleted almost all of the pictures from that day off my phone. But for some reason, I couldn’t delete this one: the Mile 26 marker.

I still remember how I felt when I snapped this picture. Every inch of my body hurt. It was dark and rainy, spectators had all gone home. When I saw Mile 26 I thought “Who cares. There’s no triumphant final push left in me, why should I take a picture?”

But I did, and every time I clean my camera roll, I still won’t delete it. It took me 7 months, but now I know why: because it was the lowest point I’d been at in months… BUT I KEPT GOING.

I got that medal. I pushed through a mental and physical hell I created for myself over 25+ miles through the five boroughs of NYC and I survived, just like I’ve survived every other “lowest” point in my life. It’s a reminder that there’s always something to look forward to, even if I have to go through just .2 more miles of hell to get to it.

When you get to your Mile 26, just keep going. I know it hurts. But it’ll be worth it.