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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

[Well, I meant to get a post up about my New Year’s Intentions last week and then I got clobbered by the news about needing chemo treatments. I’m still reeling about all that, but at least it helped clarify my intentions. Anyway, onward.]

Last year I intended to trust more, and while that was certainly a challenge (one that will always be with me), I think I did do more trusting. I especially practiced that surrender to trust that comes from overwhelm...there were too many times where my usual plan-ahead, multitasking, project manager mode just wasn’t possible so I had to get comfortable with triage and just-in-time problem-solving and with trusting that everything would be okay. And it generally was, so trust was easier.

This year, it felt harder to pick an intention, largely because there was so much chaos and uncertainty swirling around me that it felt somewhat self-defeating (or at least overly optimistic) to set an intention. I did come up with some personal projects I wanted to commit to: blog more, start yoga again, start using Instagram again, and of course that perennial classic, FINISH THE DAMN BOOK. But though I have started several of those projects already (oh hi, Parentheticals!), I am also vividly aware that any and all of these are likely to sink with barely a bubble into the murky swamp of discomfort and depression as things continue to evolve with my cancer saga (not to mention all the other life drama). Yes, the year is still young and there’s plenty of time to start things anew or continue slogging away at things; but I think the only things I can really commit to are being gentle with myself about expectations and settling into whatever pace I can, even if that pace is herky-jerky and wildly inconsistent.

The Journey to Handpan-Land

Posted by: julia

I’ve been super quiet on social media of all kinds lately (because reasons, but that’s not the point of this post). I’ve just hit what really feels like a big life crossroads, although I’m still mired in the middle of it so it’s hard to say what will stick in the long term and what won’t. But even so I just had to write this story down for posterity. What story you ask? Why, the story of my journey into handpan-land. What’s a handpan? You ask? And well you might. A handpan is a musical instrument that is vaguely related to the steel pan, but is convex instead of concave and is played with the hands (actually, the fingers) rather than with mallets or hammers. It is made of hammered steel and looks a lot like a metal turtle shell or UFO. Go look up “handpan” on YouTube and you’ll see a zillion videos, of which my current favorite of the moment is this one (but believe me there are 10,000 more). They’ve only been around since the year 2000 and there aren’t very many of them in the world (though more and more people are learning how to make them and there is a very passionate community of players.

(Let me digress for a moment and say that I am by no means anywhere close to a trained musician or even a drummer, although many years ago I did play darbukka in the UCSB Middle East Ensemble and I still have several hand drums which I enjoy occasionally fooling around with. These days I spend my creative time as a writer and artist, not so much as a musician: the only instruments regularly in my life have been my kids’ piano, violin and cello.)

Anyway, my recent journey into handpan-land (say that three times will make you giggle!) was like falling into a whirlpool full of fizzy water, one that lifted me up rather than sucking me down. (Anyone remember the fizzy lifting drink scene from the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie? Yeah, soaring and gleeful like that, but without the threatening fan at the top waiting to chop me up into pieces...for now at least!) But it’s also been a crazy ride on the serendipity train. Everything that has happened to me so far on this journey has felt like an incredible lesson in both manifestation, and what my Jewish friends and family call “b’shert” (which is a Yiddish phrase that means “meant to be” or “destiny”).

I’m much later in putting my New Year’s intention down in print than I usually am, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking a lot about it for the last few weeks. For whatever reason, this year’s intention was a little harder to articulate than previous years have been (hey, some years are like that), but here’s what I’ve come up with so far: in 2014 I discovered that trust breeds trust, so in 2015 it is my intention to keep the trust cycle going by...trusting more. What do I mean by that? Well, I’m still feeling like I may have to talk around the concept a bit before it completely crystallizes, but let me have a go at it.

So as background, let me say that the last few years have been an interesting journey through identity work and personal growth (yeah yeah, I’m in my 40’s, and this is not unusual, I realize). One of the big issues I’ve been grappling with during this phase of the journey is trust. (Yes, I have trust issues. How frightfully pedestrian of me, right?) Precisely why I have trust issues and under what circumstances they flare up and get triggered is a complex and tangled story that I’ve spent lots of time picking apart with my therapist and won’t go into here, but suffice to say that sometimes, I have a hard time believing that things will work out without great effort and a certain amount of defensive contingency planning on my part. Much as I *say* I want to be the kind of person who lives in the moment and believes that things generally work out favorably in the end, and often preach the efficacy of this approach in my advice to others, I often have a hard time actually doing that. (Oh well, you know they say you teach what you most need to learn...) I get scared, I get anxious, I get triggered, and I go right back to “no one else will notice there’s a need here, so I’d better take care of it myself, and well ahead of time, too, just to make sure it doesn’t fall through the cracks.” I juggle faster and add more balls and fancy footwork, and for a while I feel like a super circus queen...until inevitably something gets missed or tripped over and everything overwhelms and falls apart. But I have only myself to blame, which is really uncomfortable, so I try blaming other people for not rescuing me, but then that isn’t very comfortable either, so I resolve to not even involve other people next time, and just try a little harder to do everything better by myself. (Whew. I’m a little freaked out just typing all that.)

Now, I’ve been working on all this stuff, as I said, and one of the things that happened towards the end of 2014 is that life circumstances were such that I got super overwhelmed by all the Things To Do (admittedly, that’s the passive many ways I knowingly and willingly set myself up for much of that overwhelm, it didn’t just happen out of nowhere). Travel, high school applications, social and family obligations, Dickens Fair, Josh starting graduate school, kid care, housework, holiday hoo-ha...there was so much going on that I just couldn’t juggle it all myself in the pro-active ways I was used to. I had to drop some Things, and give some of the Things to Josh or other people, and just trust that it would all somehow work out ok. And you know what? It did work out ok. It totally did. Sometimes just barely, and sometimes at the last possible moment or not in the way I thought it would, but overall: Things worked out ok. And in acknowledging that fact, I found myself feeling more confident, and yes, more trusting, about the possibility that this whole “trusting that other people will help do the Things and that Things will work out ok” process might be repeatable. And get easier each time. It was kind of exciting, and made me want to trust some more.

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