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  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    This year I’m
    doing something
    different than my
    usual tradition of
    pithy punch list of
    lessons learned to
    wrap this series of
    entries up.
    I’m writing
    this last entry
    exactly two weeks
    after we got home
    from the burn, b ...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Monday morning I
    woke up early and
    decided that I
    wanted to do one
    more personal ritual
    before we had to
    break down and pack
    up our yurt and load
    the truck and leave.
    So I took my handpan
    and one of our
    little chairs and
    walked ou ...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Sunday is always a
    tough day at the
    burn because we have
    to strike
    tough physically of
    course but
    it’s also
    tough emotionally
    because it feels
    like the setting and
    the vibe we worked
    so hard to put toge ...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Saturday was my only
    day with nothing
    pre-planned and
    nothing I had
    committed to do. The
    burn was almost over
    and I was starting
    to feel nibbles of
    FOMO (Fear Of
    Missing Out) so I
    was determined to go
    see some more art
    (especially ...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Because I had
    actually gotten
    enough sleep, I woke
    up reasonably early
    on Friday morning.
    Josh was still
    asleep, but I wanted
    to take advantage of
    the relative
    coolness of the
    morning and go do
    something. So I
    decided to take my h ...


A blog in which Our Heroine records, reflects and wrestles with meaning. With lots of asides.
Tags >> intentional life design

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about reading, and its place in my life. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about how it was being a voracious reader as a kid that made me want to be a writer, and about how these days I write a lot more than I used to, but in “olden days” I used to read a whole lot more than I do now. I miss reading. I miss that feeling of diving into a book and not coming out for hours and hours, finally surfacing blurry-eyed and satisfied out of story world into the “real” world, ready to dive into another story.

Reading used to be my main form of entertainment, my go-to activity whenever I could sneak it in. But then life got a lot more complicated and full of other distractions, and my reading time evaporated. (One of the things I truly hated about grad school was how it destroyed my ability to read for pleasure. And one of the few silver linings about breastfeeding both boys was that I could sometimes still read with one hand, so even if I wasn’t sleeping, at least I was reading.) I still read now, but if I’m lucky I average around 2 books a month (I’m not including all the other forms of reading that I do all the time—everything from Facebook to blogs to online articles to magazines to unpublished manuscripts that I’m critiquing.) Since I belong to a book group, and we read one book (almost always a non-genre fiction book) per month, and that accounts for about half my book reading every month. If the stars align I’ll also squeeze in at least one other book each month, sometimes a non-fiction book, sometimes a genre novel. And then every once in awhile I get on a reading tear (usually when I’m on vacation or hooked on a particularly easy-to-blow-through series) and read 2 or 3 non-book group books per month. But that’s still not that many, and it feels like far fewer than I used to read.

So I was doing some math, just for fun, on the way to book group the other night. And the math blew my mind by giving me some actual data to play with. Let me ‘splain. Going with nice round numbers, let’s say I read around 25 books a year. I’m 42 now, so again going for the nice round numbers, let’s say I’m blessed to live another 50 years to the ripe old age of 92 and still able to read books that whole time. (It could happen—my Grandma is 90 and still reading up a storm.) That means, at my current rate of reading, I will be able to read approximately 1,250 more books before I die. (Yes, I know that the older I get, the more “free” time I will probably recoup and be able to use for reading, so it’s very possible that my reading rate will go up as I age. But for the sake of simplicity I am going to ignore that possibility for now. I’m also willfully ignoring the possibility that I will die sooner—or later, God willing—than 92.)

I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last few months in a process I’ve now come to call “Intentional Life Design.” (I’m pretty sure I didn’t make this phrase up, but it’s an apt one, so phrase, I claim you!).This is when I turn my focus on each part of my daily living: what I work on everyday (and when), how and when to encourage creative and relaxation and exercise time during the day, how our parenting or our household routines flow, how we organize our living space, how we nurture our marriage, how and when I interact with family and friends. The goal is to try to make sure that the ways each of these things occurs has been intentionally designed to be that way, rather than something we just put up with by default. I keep finding more and more areas in which Intentional Life Design applies, and trying to put my focus there.

Life in general is all about choice and intention right now--two things that sound easy (and desirable), but sometimes aren’t. I’m in the process of paring away all (or at least most) of the things in my life that aren’t necessary or desirable, so that I can reveal the true shape of what my ideal life will be (just like in the story of Michelangelo and the David sculpture--he said that in order to create it, he just chipped away all the parts of the marble block that weren’t David). I’m choosing to slow down, to take on less and do fewer things at once, but do each of them more consciously and intentionally. (This is a big step and a hard thing for a champion multi-tasker and gold medalist in the “Suck-it-up Olympics” to stick with!) I’m trying to be less driven by deadlines and by outside expectations, and more guided by my own inner rhythms and enthusiasms. Some days it feels great, like “woo-hoo, I’m on vacation!” kind of great, but some days it feels scary and anxiety-provoking, like “oh god what will people think of me if I do/don’t do that and how am I going to make a living, anyway?” Some days it feels like all I do is seesaw back and forth between both extremes, whacking hard into the ground on one side before breathlessly careening back up in the air towards the other, over and over.

I’ve had a post-it stuck to the dashboard of my car for a few months now that says:

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