It’s ok not to know.

Connect the dotsI woke up feeling really anxious this morning.

Acked out.
Kind of twisty.

And the suck really stood out.

Because that’s totally not my normal state.

I’m usually pretty flow-ey. Grounded. In the groove more often than not.

But today?

Not so much.

Mountains out of molehills with a side of stimulants

I knew I was in trouble when I started to sweat what kind of sound-ey thing I should do to start the day.

Drums or singing bowls? Singing bowls or drums?
Or maybe chanting? Or chanting and drums?

Clue #1.

I tried to drum.

But I was too distracted. So I went to make tea.

Because, you know, nothing helps anxious ack like consuming a mug full of stimulants.

Or. Or. Or.

Ok. I had tea. Now I’ll write.

No, wait. I’ll do email.

But first I’ll take a picture of one of my drums to post on Facebook.

Oh, and then I’ll make some notes about that idea I had yesterday. And then I’ll write.

Wait, where’s the cat?

Total. Lack. Of. Focus.

Clue #2.


By the time I finally opened my laptop to write, I was distracted.


By my left leg. Which was bouncing at a bazillion miles a minute. Non-effing-stop.

And I felt generally jitter-ey.

Clue #3.

Houston, we have a problem.


Dude. I get it.

I get what the anxious is about.

I got it the second I woke up and felt the ack in my chest.

I have some new goodies brewing.

Big stuff that I’m ridiculously excited about. Stuff that I can’t wait to share.

But stuff that is new and awesome. And did I mention big?

I need to make some tweaks to put it all into place.

Inner tweaks. And outer tweaks.

I don’t have all the logistics totally sorted yet.

So there are clusters of dangle-ey question marks sprinkled in between nuggets of wild excitement.

And I’m feeling anxious about the dangle-ey bits.

Change of plan

But after a morning of going in circles, imbibing too much caffeine and risking a repetitive stress injury due to the aforementioned bouncing-like-a-meth-head leg it was totally time for a break.

Trying to ignore the ack was so not working.

So my new plan was to sit with the tweaked and the acked out and the twisty.

Because clearly they had something to say.

I wasn’t trying to poke the suck. Because that plan is at least as bad as trying to ignore it.

I figured I’d just listen. And see what shows up.

Time to chill

So I went to the studio, snatched eleven of my favorite singing bowls and plopped myself on the ground.

I closed my eyes and just tried to chill.

Me and the bowls.
Me and my breath.
Me and the ack.


I noticed that I was rolling the singing bowl mallet around in my hands.

Back and forth. Back and forth.

And my brain was still thinking about all the question marks.

But I started to play.

First the big bass-ey bowl that I can feel in my bones.

Then the pair of sweet bowls that sound like birds.

Then a short pause. And after that the really old bowl that sings forever.


Aaaaand we have cartoons

Turns out the ack is worried about the dangle-ey bits too.

Feeling rushed to get it all sorted out. To get every last question answered nownownow.

If the ack were a person, it would be a cartoon.

A little old man with a big head. And big glasses. And a sweater that fits too tight.

He paces back and forth and asks a lot of questions. A lot of questions.

There is also much hand wringing involved.

And no matter what answer I give him, he always says But what about?! or Yeah but?! And then he fires off another question.

He really hates not knowing.

Connect the dots

I was trying to pay attention to my cartoon compadre without getting thrown off by his Gatling gun questions.

When I’d start to get sucked in, I’d focus on the bowls.

So I just kept playing.

That’s when it hit me.

When I hang out with these shiny golden orbs of mad awesomesauce, I never know what I’m going to play.

I just grab a mallet and go.

And I never freak out about it. Even if I’m playing in front of an audience.

I don’t sweat it. I just play.

I just follow one note to the next note. On and on.

It’s like a game of connect-the-dots with sound.

And it all comes together in a big heap of gorgeousness.

Deep breath

So it’s ok not to know.


I need to hear that again.

It’s ok not to know.

I don’t have to have every last dangle-ey bit all wrapped up right now.

I don’t have to sweat this.

Stuff is coming together. There’s so much awesome already in place.

And, really, it’s already looking amazing.

I just have to keep playing.

Connecting the dots. Following one note to the next.

Just like always.

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23 Responses to It’s ok not to know.
  1. Joan Bright
    August 4, 2010 | 12:38 pm

    Wow. This is an important and timely reminder! Same deal, last two days. I had all the focus of a …”ooh, look, shiny!” only it wasn’t all fun like that. More like frantic.
    I picked up a pair of two tone wooden agogo bells and the mallet at the Lunch Time Stress Less Circle on Monday and started to play a beat, just what came out of my fingers, so to speak. I didn’t think about it, at all. I stopped when the facilitator, a friend, Moe Jerant, started to speak and she said, hey that was a cool beat, could you keep doing that? So I did. We played shakers, tambourines, bells, and whatever and gradually, added in the drums. Just before this, Moe explained to a first-timer, a woman who Ann brought along, that the ‘secret’ to “all this” is that we make it up as it goes along! Really. Not rehearsed, memorized, or any of that…we just let it happen.
    Yup. And it’s always beautiful. I could see that woman relax and begin to enjoy herself after that, and just well, you know…floooowww. Her first drum circle. Always awesome.

    It’s ok not to know, and as a matter of fact, it’s beautiful and so much more better than the ack where ok, some of what is going on is not fun, but I dealt with what I could, for that day, Monday and Tuesday, did pretty well on the phone with everyone I had to talk to (had my friend and Reiki master hold space for me while I did the calls Monday and it was supportive and between calls she kept telling me what a good job I was doing when talking to people…which that acky voice in my head immediately discounted…sheesh) and the real problem? was me trying to figure out what I was gonna do when/if when next month rolls around howmigonnafindajob ohjeezohiamsoashamedofmyselfican’tfindajob….ewwwww. Icky, acky and just plain horrible and mostly all in my head, me beating on me. Better off striking a drum. Or a bell. or anything! Thank you for this. It’s more than true. It’s the essence of what does work, shown up next to what does not work, or help and is so counter productive and just plain mean to myself. Thanks. whew.

  2. chicsinger simone
    August 4, 2010 | 12:44 pm

    Woot, there it is!

    And to paraphrase MLK, you don’t have to see the top of the staircase to take the first step.

    *empathetic grin*

  3. Joely Black
    August 4, 2010 | 12:46 pm

    Your posts are always a wonderful breath of fresh air. I’ve been suffering a severe dose of ack the last few days as well. This is such a great guide to gently looking at what causes it and how to live with it.

    Although I have to say, there’s not enough bad and lots of good in tea. I find tea a very lovely thing to have when I feel down. But I’m English, and that’s what we do. – fiction – where I go to get over myself.
    .-= Joely Black´s last blog ..Amnar Serial- 8 Aftermath =-.

  4. Liz
    August 4, 2010 | 1:05 pm

    Ohh boy… does this sound familiar!

    I’ve been feeling that same bouncing off the walls feeling for a while now. At first, it was just what you’re talking about- a new thing that needed some time and space to sort itself out.

    But now it’s out… and so now the freak-out is all about whether anyone else will notice or care or dig it. And that part’s hard because I have so much less control. I guess the basic point still stands: it’s OK not to know!

  5. Dave
    August 4, 2010 | 1:19 pm

    Hi Fabeku,

    I’m excited to see what your next big thing is! I’m not surprised your leg’s a bit jumpy–so much huge energy rolling through.

    It’s great to hear how playing connect the dots with sound gets you back on track. I’m finding a similar thing with painting lately, one brush stroke following the next, it’s a relief to have something to sink into, that helps clarify things even if it doesn’t provide answers.


    Feeling tender towards the little old man with the big head, big glasses, and too tight sweater. I hope he heard what you said about not needing to know, and was comforted by that.

    .-= Dave´s last blog ..The Air Is Thick With Muses =-.

  6. Linda
    August 4, 2010 | 1:38 pm

    What a delightful and entertaining post! As I like to say, “Us anxious folks, we get the job done…”

    I’m loving your bright cheerful sidebars (at least on this browser!).

    It takes a big person to say I don’t know (sorry, I got distracted-your energy is permeating the blogosphere!), and sometimes it’s best to just sit with the anxiety, rather than try and flee or figure it out. Yes, it’s OK not to know!

  7. Tori Deaux
    August 4, 2010 | 1:44 pm

    Oh, this is SO where I am today, all full of anxious-brewing-things-that-are-being-tweaked-and-the-coffee-didn’t-help-isms.

    “Connect the dots” is “trust the process” but.. with dots.

    And action.

    This helps.
    .-= Tori Deaux´s last blog ..Needful Things! The Yes-I’m-Still-Breathing Edition =-.

  8. Sophie Nicholls
    August 4, 2010 | 3:20 pm


    Thank you so much for this. I loved, loved, loved reading it.

    I especially liked your dialogue with and characterisation of your ‘ack.’

    Not knowing – the thing that I and so many of my clients seem to struggle with most often. And yet, it’s in that space of not knowing that all the really good, juicy, surprising stuff happens – when we allow it to. Gestalt therapy calls it ‘the fertile void’ (I always imagine a very deep, serious voice saying those words, like in a trailer for a big blockbuster film – ferrrr-tile voooiiid – which makes me giggle a bit, but it’s just so true. That void is very fertile.)

    So thank you again for this. I am still resonating, reverberating, ringing with your beautiful music!

    .-= Sophie Nicholls´s last blog ..How to have your cake… and eat it too =-.

  9. Maryann Devine
    August 4, 2010 | 3:33 pm

    Excited to hear about the upcoming awesomeness!

    I totally get that lack of focus, and it’s so helpful to hear that the noticing, with the help of your singing bowls, is getting you through it. I’m definitely going to keep that in mind for next time — that I can observe and also get a little lost in something that feeds me.

  10. skaja
    August 4, 2010 | 3:51 pm

    as always, you bring a breath of fresh perspective to my life. 🙂
    .-= skaja´s last blog ..Why I write =-.

  11. Patty K
    August 4, 2010 | 5:21 pm

    I love how you write. Funny. Suspenseful. And reassuring. I’m in this place you write of right now. Excitement combined with anxiety. Trying to figure all the details – and prepare for completely unknown eventualities.

    My mantra for the next week or so: It’s OK not to know. Thank you. Looking forward to seeing what you’ve been brewing.
    .-= Patty K´s last blog ..A glimpse into life without social anxiety =-.

  12. LisaG
    August 4, 2010 | 8:41 pm

    Oh the little old man, oh how I can SEE him! And of course he’s wringing his hands :). Fortunately my “ack” is on hiatus this week, but I am sure we shall meet again and when that happens I will remember I can just follow the dots, the bread crumb trail, the bouncing ball and it’s ok not to know.

  13. David Cohen
    August 4, 2010 | 9:14 pm

    I feel instructed AND filled with anticipation AND grateful that you’ve shared that excited energy with us. You are a wonder.

    AND I want to hear bowls that sound like birds 🙂
    .-= David Cohen´s last blog ..A is for Awesome doodle =-.

  14. Victoria Brouhard
    August 4, 2010 | 11:13 pm

    Wow. It’s like you were inside my head. Or my day today. Or something.

    It’s the between-ness. No longer here, but not yet there.

    I’ll definitely be reminding myself this week that it’s ok not to know.
    .-= Victoria Brouhard´s last blog ..Find the No-Brainer Scenario- Should I Move…Again =-.

  15. Bridget
    August 4, 2010 | 11:30 pm

    Sometimes I wish that I had a button on the side of my body that said, “Stay tuned, aligning.”
    Or maybe, I could be one of those plastic people with a transparent outside, so I can see things align within.
    Because that’s what happening for me right now, and outside, it sure looks like that guy with the tight sweater.
    Really excited to see what you bring next.
    .-= Bridget´s last blog ..Moneylicious Pt 2- The Pole Dance =-.

  16. Elana
    August 5, 2010 | 1:20 am

    Fabeku, your post is such a comfort. Thank you for the reminder. And thank goodness that is not your normal state! I spend far too much time in that state and thus, know how tough it is. I’m really excited about you being excited about new cool stuff and I’m sending you sweet vibes of love, wonder and support that everything just comes up rosy! Plus, you’ll have chocolate from me soon : )

  17. Renee
    August 5, 2010 | 5:53 am

    Thanks for another great post! Lots of ack for me, too, lately, surrounding the appropriate time to resign from a position that is so clearly not a fit for me any longer, to the point where I feel ill just seeing my office building. That cartoon dude you mentioned is currently keeping me tethered with his “What if you run out of money before you find another job?” So, I’m trying to stick it out until I have more saved, but it’s so not where I want to be.

  18. Sue
    August 5, 2010 | 8:49 am

    What a lovely reminder that being in the not knowing zone is quite ok. I sure would love to see your cartooney guy. And can’t wait to hear your big news. Cuz Im sure it will involve hearing and lots of great sounds.
    .-= Sue´s last blog ..Brightest Life Mandala =-.

  19. Barbara Martin (
    August 5, 2010 | 11:51 am

    That tight sweater guy — I *know* him!

    ps Can’t wait to find out what the hopped up leg is ushering through!
    .-= Barbara Martin (@Reptitude)´s last blog ..Art Journal for a Writer =-.

  20. Josiane
    August 6, 2010 | 11:42 am

    It’s so hard to be ok with not knowing sometimes… but I’m much better at it now that I’ve experienced, a few months ago, how taking one tiny step forward opened the way for my brain to give me answers it wouldn’t give me when I was in “trying to think things through before I can move at all” mode.
    Really, it’s ok not to know everything, we’ll learn as we go, as we act on what we know.

  21. Casey
    August 10, 2010 | 12:37 am

    The last month has been nonstop busybusybusy. Working. Packing. Moving. And every time I’d find myself against a wall or gate or something (literally or figuratively) stuck, I’d hear your voice, “just flow”. And I’d relax, if just for a moment. Take a breath.

    Keep walking I told myself and my Hippie. Just a couple more weeks. Keep walking. We’ll get there together. “It’s ok not to know” is perfect. We knew the direction but there were too many details, so we just kept walking toward the goal; one step at a time.

    Now we’re here and I get some time to catch up on my blog reading. Thank you for your continued servings of insight and laughter.

  22. Fabeku
    August 18, 2010 | 8:36 pm

    Hey taters.

    So the day after I posted this the not knowing with work stuff turned into not knowing with family stuff.

    There was a possible Thing happening with Mom.

    Doctors. Tests. Trips to the ER.

    Which has been hard. And scary. And stressful.

    So it was like all of a sudden I’m noshing on a big hunk of ack smooshed between two slices of not knowing.

    Unfun. Totally and completely.

    Thankfully I think things are going to be ok on the Mom front. And things are movement forward with the other stuff too.

    So. Some replies…

    @Joan – I love when someone experiences a drum circle for the first time. Such a cool thing!

    And I love how much drumming is like life. You never really know what’s next. You just keep rocking one beat after the next. That’s how it goes.

    I’m sorry about all the hard. I hope things are headed in a good direction for you now.

    @Simone – Right on about the staircase. So totally true!

    @Joely – Sorry about the ack. I hope, by now, it’s gone buhbye. And about tea? I agree with you 100%. I look forward to it. Every. Single. Day.

    @Liz – Yeah, the will-anyone-dig-it? stuff can be hard. And I think you’re right. It’s ok not to know the answer to that. But I still get how scary and ack-ey that can be.

    @Dave – I love how you talked about painting. One brush stroke following the next. That’s it. Exactly.

    I’ve also been keeping an eye on my big-headed pal.

    He seems way more ok now than he was when I posted this. Still pace-ey and prone to playing with his glasses a lot.

    But the rapid fire questions have stopped. Which is good. For both of us.

    @Linda – Thanks! Glad you dig it. And I totally agree with you on the sitting-with-it thing.

    @Tori – I’m happy it helped. And I hope the anxious stuff isn’t still hanging out in your end of the world. Prolong anxious can be so hard.

    @Sophie – The fertile void! Said in a move trailer voice! That’s perfect!

    In fact, the next time I find myself in this void-ey place, I will leap to my feet and do the whole ferrrr-tile voooiiid thing. Awesome!

    @Maryann – I think that’s a really key point. The observing-and-getting-lost thing.

    Because, for me, if I just observe I get totally tangled up with the quickness.

    And if I just get lost, I can fall into unhelpful distractions that just create more ack.

    Being able to do both? Even doing both at the same time? For me, this is something that really works.

    @Skaja – Thanks you!

    @Patty – Isn’t it wild how many of us are in this place right now? Is there something in the water?

    I’m hoping that all of us are feeling better at this point. You. Me. All of us.

    And yay for new mantras!

    @Lisa – I love that your ack is on hiatus. That’s suhweet! *happydancehappydance*

    @David – Thanks. I appreciate that. And I’m betting you’d love the bird-ey bowls. I should see if I can get a decent video of them.

    @VictoriaNo longer here, but not yet there.

    Oof. Yes. That’s the place.

    The hard, wild, exciting, ack-ey, amazing place.

    Sorry you’re there too. Hardhardhard.

    @Bridget – I like the idea of being able to see things line up.

    It kind of reminded me of a GPS. Like when it’s recalculating the route.

    And you’re driving. And you’re waiting. And there’s silence.

    Definitely a little-old-man moment there.

    Happy lining up!

    @Elana – Love! Wonder! Support! Chocolate! You are an angel. Thank you muches.

    @Renee – Argh. That’s hard. I remember that sick-just-seeing-the-building place. I felt it too before I bailed on my last working-for-someone-else job. And I heard the same worried voices saying the same worried things.

    So so hard. I am holding biggie sized good thoughts for you. And here’s to being able to say sayonara soon.

    @Sue – Thanks! Stuff is really starting to come together. And I’m looking forward to be able to share the new goodies.

    @Barbara – He seems to be a pretty popular guy. I had no idea he was so well known. He sure makes the rounds, doesn’t he?

    @Josiane – You make a really good point.

    I think the first few times you let yourself sit with not knowing are the toughest. And the scariest.

    For me, it’s like there was some kind of sky-is-falling red alert that went off. Pushing every OMG-this-will-be-baaaaaaad button I had.

    And then when I saw that it wasn’t horrible and my world didn’t implode, it got a little easier to do it the next time.

    But those first few times? Wow. Hard.

    @Casey – I’m glad I was hanging out in your head during the busybusybusy.

    I love what you said about knowing the direction, but having too many details. And I love how you just kept heading in that direction.

    That is perfect! And smart! And awesome!

    Go you!

    Big thanks to all of you for everything you served up here. Good schtuff.

  23. Amy
    November 12, 2010 | 2:25 pm

    Hey doll!

    So I followed a link here, started reading, and got an interesting solvey idea that I thought you might like.

    I’ve been struggling with a lot of ACK with my whatever-business that’s in limbo. I know what I know, and I know what I don’t know… kind of, but can’t figure out a way to reconcile them.

    So I started drawing. Mind-mapping. I drew a circle on one side of the page called “What I know” and on the other “What I don’t know”. I started linking various things to those two circles, and even linked a couple to both (huh what?). It created a visual picture of what was there and what was missing without any judgment. One circle at a time. 😉

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