Posted by: julia
on Jan 01, 2017
Tagged in: writing
, intentional life design
, Burning Man
Once again I am stealing some time away amidst the familiar familial hurly-burly that is our Stinson New Year’s tradition to do some reflection on the past year and record it for posterity. 2016 will definitely be a memorable year in my book, mostly for purely selfish and personal reasons (helloooo cancer! And also, goodbye!) but also because this past year has definitely felt like a turning point in history, especially with the election of Donald Trump and all the accompanying upheaval in American life. We are certainly living in some interesting times and I am doing my best to stay solid in my values and my determination to keep loving and creating and making the world a better place for everyone.
But before I get too far down the rabbit hole of predictions and solutions for what kind of looking glass country we seem to be dealing with, let me go back to the point of this post, which was to record and reflect on what happened to ME in the year just past (because after all this is my solipsistic storytelling space). With the able assistance of my calendar and my photo log, I ought to be able to at least remember the highlights in vaguely chronological order.
January started off quietly, which was definitely welcome after so much upheaval (cancer surgery and treatments, holiday hoo ha) in the previous months. For my birthday weekend Josh and I got all dressed up and went to the Edwardian Ball in SF for two nights with a bunch of friends and had a terrific time. A few days later we also went to see the Wood Brothers in concert but it turned out to be kind of a bummer show since the band was sick. The week after that I had my first chemo treatment, at which I did not have a terrific time but at least it turned out to be less horrible than I had so fearfully anticipated.
Posted by: julia
on Sep 25, 2016
Thursday morning I had to get up bright and early to run my “Fly Your Freak Flag High” (FYFFH) workshop, which started at 9am. (I almost never have to set an alarm on playa, but this was one of those times.) Mom had agreed to help me run the workshop, so she and I grabbed my box of flags and the box of newspapers and sharpies and made it out to the Pink Lounge right before 9. There was actually one eager soul already waiting there for us, but otherwise all was sleepy and early morning-vibe. I roped in a few more people who were hanging around the lounge, and got everyone started coloring. Then I took some blank flags and wandered around trying to convince other people to come play with us. I gave a few flags to the Pinkies working the water bar so they could recruit people who came for water (and do their own flags if they wanted). I realized this year it worked best to invite people to “come color with us” as opposed to “would you like to make a flag/make some art with us”. I think that’s because with the new popularity of adult coloring books and coloring as a meditative/relaxing activity, people were more interested in coming to chill out and color on something while chatting with others than perhaps they were interested in a specific workshop/art-making experience about figuring out what kind of freak they were and displaying that publically. Which is not to say that we didn’t do both (in fact I think the “come color” concept was a good Trojan horse way to ease people in to the fuller experience of thinking about their identities), but the “chill and color” concept seemed to be especially attractive in the early morning (probably would be during the hot afternoon siesta hours as well).
Another thing I noticed about the FYFFH workshop this year was that we had many fewer people participating this year (probably only about 20 folks over the course of the two hours), but they were all really into the activity. Many who did participate took it really seriously and spent quite a bit of time making their flags. I had one woman tell me how making her flag really helped her clarify and bring into focus some of the big epiphanies about her burn, and she really appreciated having a way to create a physical memento to remind her of them. Cool! With so relatively few people to manage, I had more time to connect and hear people’s stories about their flags and what they put on them, and really give people the gift of being seen and heard. (I especially enjoyed chatting with a young man from Boston who gave me enthusiastic recommendations about “livetronica” bands from Philly to listen to after I asked him about the logo he’d put on his flag.) My friend Ron came by during the workshop and made a flag and we got to catch up a bit, which was great, and my new artist friend and camp-mate Deron came and made a flag too.
Around 11am people were starting to gather for Halcyon’s Hug Nation talk and the Pink Ride (which meant our Pink Lounge was getting crowded), so I gathered up the coloring supplies and the box of flags and put them away and went to go get all pinked up for the Pink Ride. There were a bunch of Pinkies hanging around in the back of camp while Halcyon was talking, waiting for the Pink Ride to start. It turned into a mini-Meats and Cheeses farewell party over at Rod and Sarah’s shade patio, since they were going to be leaving the burn later that day. Eventually Josh and I went out front to get our bikes ready to roll and check in on what was happening with Halcyon’s talk, and I discovered Anjanette out past the Dream Swing flying a kite in the increasingly windy (and dusty) weather. She was having a happy time with her kite and decided not to come on the Pink Ride. Eventually the pink masses gathered and rolled out on the Pink Ride, following Halcyon and yelling “I love you!” and various compliments to people we passed as we cycled by. (People almost always yelled “I love you!” back.) The Pink Ride went a different route this year (I think because we were closer to Center Camp this year and Halcyon wanted to extend the ride a little). We rode out to the Man plaza and then down the 6:00 spoke to Center Camp, and circled the “Inside the Mind of Da Vinci” sculpture on the way. While we were all standing around in the big circle outside Center Camp waiting to go inside, I gave away the rest of the 40 or 50 pink heart bubble-wand necklaces I’d made (I’d given some to campmates earlier). Then we all held hands and spiraled in to Center Camp in a massive pink swirl and had a big “love you!” hug-fest with everyone.
Posted by: julia
on Oct 25, 2015
Just got home from my first official handpan gig, doing some meditation and sound healing for Eileen Barker's Path to Forgiveness retreat attendees at Mount Madonna Center in Watsonville. It was both fun and satisfying to be a handpan ambassador and an honor to be of service to other people on their healing journeys. I would definitely do that again!