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

Year End Reflections: 2016 Version

Posted by: julia

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.

Handpan Healing

Posted by: julia

Tagged in: solipsistic , record , music , memory , life , handpan , art

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!

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”).

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