What does it feel like to be treated like you are making it all up?

The last few months old memories have been surfacing. My daughter has recently been diagnosed with a rare disorder: hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. We are still trying to make sense of this. It’s kinda horrifying to find out your child has something like this, yet the patterns of the syndrome really do match her symptoms.

Its even more crazy when Mom, aka me, also has a rare disorder: hypogammaglobulinemia which is an immune deficiency. And thats where the old memories come from. The days when I had these odd symptoms and no one, and I mean no one, had a clue why I got sick.

Have you ever been called a hypochondriac?
Told you are psychotic and are imagining things?
That what you’re experiencing in your body is all in your mind?
Ever called up a psychologist to ask if you are crazy
or really do have health issues?

Yup. That was my life. Still is sometimes. I’ve frequently been teased about being a hypochrondriac.

In my early 30s, I was working for Apple Computer on a project that was spun out into a different building off the regular campus. It was in a more industrial neighborhood. We’d come in every morning and wipe a layer of black off our computer monitors. I began having extremely painful sinus headaches along with brain fog and fatigue. Symptoms which went away when I was not in the building. (Later I discovered the building was next to a soy sauce factory and the black residue was coming in through the HVAC system.)

My doctor kept telling me I was having an allergic reaction but we couldn’t figure out what the culprit was. I saw a half dozen allergists who told me the same thing and were no help at all. I was ordered home and out of the building during which time my symptoms went away. Of course, it was while I was home and had no symptoms that the workers comp doctor examined me and decided there was nothing wrong with me.

At that point, despite my regular doctor being convinced I was ill with allergic reactions, my then-manger decided I was simply being psychotic and a hypochondriac – and proceeded to write all of that into my annual review. Sigh.

After almost a year of this, I was going to bed tired and fatigued and waking up tired. It was like sleep had no effect on me. The sinus headaches continued as did the brain fog. I had black circles under my eyes and had gained almost 20 pounds even though I had little appetite.

My then-husband daily told me all of these symptoms were just in my head and I needed to meditate and that would resolve all my issues. He was quite frustrated with me and very clearly convinced I was making all of this up.

Dancing with the Cosmos, Annette Wagner, 2012

By this point, between my manager and husband both harping on me, I began to wonder if I was simply going crazy and being a hypochondriac. So I called up a friend who was a psychologist and asked him if there was some way to determine if what I was experiencing was medical or psychological. He proceeded to do a thorough examination of me. In his professional opinion, what I was experiencing was real and medical and not psychological. I as so relieved to have him tell me this.

Not too long after that, I was referred to an allergist who specialized in mold allergies. The first thing he had me do was a mold elimination diet. Inside of 2 weeks, I felt like a new person. I woke up alert and rested in the morning and felt SO much better. I lost all the extra weight. We had found the culprit: mold.

With treatment, my body slowly calmed down and my health began to even out a bit. I wasn’t done with my medical adventures but the path forward began to ease. Years later, I was diagnosed with hypogammaglobulinemia. My immune system is deficient in IgG and that deficiency throws everything else in my immune system out of balance.

The experience of being dis-believed, told I was imagining things, being called psychotic and a hypochondriac stayed with me. I was shut down, not listened to, and told I was an idiot to listen to my own body and follow my intuition about something being off. That searching for an answer was only going to make what I was imagining true. What bullshit.

What I have learned in my adventures with my immune system, is that searching for an answer is exactly the right thing to do. You will know when another piece of the puzzle clicks into place because of the way the patterns match up and things begin to make sense. There is a resonance with what the doctor, tests or research papers say about your symptoms and potential condition that happens.

I’ve learned to listen to my body and my intuition and to allow them to lead me. And to grow a thick skin with regard to those in the world who persist in thinking I’m “making it all up”. They don’t live in my body and will never experience what I experience.

Why has this come up now? Because it’s time to pass on this knowledge to my daughter. To give her the skills to stand strong and to listen to her body and make her own way forward. Managing her health issues is only part of the job. Learning how and when to listen is the other part.

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Fear is the mind killer?

Boat of Sorrows; Boat of Hope by Annette Wagner

“Fear is the mind killer.”

That quote from Frank Herbert’s Dune has always stuck in my mind. I’ve niggled at it wondering why it’s stuck around as long as it has and realized it’s because of the truth contained in the idea it represents.

Fear does shut down our mind and, for me, the worst part is that it also closes the door to our heart – and that’s why this quote has stuck in my mind. When the heart connection breaks, love stops flowing through our minds and hearts and that causes all kinds of havoc to erupt in our lives.

What made me unravel this story was a little incident that happened the other day and yet it was huge in how it changed the context of how I understand fear in my life.

My man was out in the garage organizing; a necessary feat as we are now living in a much smaller house than we really fit into. He was installing overhead metal shelves to create a place for luggage and sleeping bags and such so there would be more room on the lower shelves in the garage.

I was out there organizing wrapping paper supplies, looking up at these shelves and what he was putting up there – and that is when, unknowing to me, fear snuck into my mind.

I voiced my concern about it being hard for me to get things down from up there when I needed them and the conversation derailed into an exchange about yes I would need help and how else were we going to find space to store everything if he didn’t do this and resulted in him being annoyed and frustrated with me. I left the garage feeling hurt and confused.

This is when my muse stepped in and started prodding me. Why did I react as I did? I knew he was going to put up those shelves. I knew those items were going up there. There are plenty of step ladders in the garage for me to use. Then it hit me.

I had spoken from a place of fear.

Why? Was it because I have a whacky back and can’t lift anything heavy? No. My physical limitation are an issue, however my sense was that wasn’t where the fear came from. I dug deeper. So where did the fear come from?

I had looked at those shelves and the things on them and suddenly I was back in a world in which I was alone. In which I had only myself to depend on and no one else. A world which had more constraints and less love because there was no one else to share it with. A world that did not include the blessings I have now in my life. It was a world of what if and doubt and distrust.

I was shocked. All it needed was one little glimpse of fear to bring in all of that? Ick.

Now I know why my muse kept prodding me into unraveling this story. Understanding how the fear can close down my mind and shut off my heart, explains so much about how I reacted. Doesn’t mean I am going to be suddenly perfect and never react from a place of fear again.

But maybe, just maybe, it means I will do it a whole lot less as I write my own new story about fear and it’s place in my life. About the doorway to my heart is resistant to fear closing it. How it sounds alarms when fear tries to do that. How I am more and more aware when fear tries to sneak in to derail conversations. And most of all, because love is at the center of my choices and I choose love.

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Today I Turn 60

So I asked myself, what does 60 feel like?

Is it about having a full head of wildly curly gray hair with brilliant magenta patches?
Still looking great in leggings and tank tops?
Feeling more healthy than I have at several other points in my life?
Is it about dancing with my Elle to the tune of some crazy song?
Laughing with my Cass when he sneaks in one of those teasing pranks on me?

YES.

Someone send me a birthday card joking about being Sexy and Sixty. It captured where I am in life perfectly. I am a damn sexy 60 year old woman. Never thought I would say that but there it is.

I want all of you women out there reading this to know: the thing making you outrageous and sexy at 60 is loving yourself for all that you are – and living into that. It took me years to understand that. And when I did, my life turned outrageously fun and love filled it.  

I’ve had the opportunity to do lots of wonderful and wild things in my life from driving my little Porsche on a race track to painting in Monet’s gardens to being the second person in the world to create computer icons. I have 21 patents to my name and am the one who created the graphic known affectionately as Moof. I helped produce a comic book about the Java mascot Duke and lived through conversations with Steve Jobs.

I’ve hit walls creatively and walked away from failed relationships and build houses on hills only to drive away from them one day. Made lots of mistakes and there are things I regret saying to people. I walked away from hi-tech and became the artist I always wanted to be. I’ve spent days on mountains doing vision quests and days on mountains painting and drawing.

My life has been a tapestry of change and movement and creation. I never know where my path will lead me and these days that’s just the way I like it. I didn’t always, but somewhere along the way I realized it was best to just let go of having grand plans because my life was about walking my path, not forcing things to go however I might think they needed to go. Choosing to follow my heart’s desire was the best choice I ever made.

I plan to have lots more adventures visiting deserts, creating paintings, laughing at pranks, flirting with the man of my heart and raising my amazing daughter.

If this is what 60 feels like than I’m keeping it.

 

 

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Untamed Heart: An Exploration of Intentional Creativity

Whoo hoo! I am happy to announce this wonderful new book and collaboration of Intentional Creativity teachers, of which I am both an editor and a contributor: Untamed Heart.

Its been a long time in preparation which makes it even more sweet to share it with you all. The book is available as a soft cover book on Blurb, OR you can order the PDF ($5.99) directly from me by clicking the button below.

$5.99 for your very own PDF of the book. 55 pages of full color and creative exercises.

 

Authors: Sofia Dabalsa, Shiloh Sophia, Annette Wagner

Untamed Heart introduces the concept of Intentional Creativity®; a movement in which all creative acts begin with intention. Intentional Creativity is about transforming old stories into new stories that fill us with passion and joy. It is the collaborative product of fifteen Intentional Creativity Teachers including the founder of the Intentional Creativity movement, Shiloh Sophia. Each teacher shares their own story and a practice or exercise for the reader to work with as a way of exploring the realm of Intentional Creativity for themselves.

All proceeds go towards the creation of the book. Let’s support women artists in print!

Authors include Sofia Dalbasa, Annette Wagner, Jessica Bowman, Sumaiyah Dymonz Yates, Kate Langlois, Susan Rossi, Jacqueline Hiew, Mai-Lan Thi Pham, Havi Brysk Mandell, Jennifer Mayol, Wendy Ward, Gurukiren Khalsa, Kendall Sarah Scott, Olyvya (Foussier) Van Eeden and Shiloh Sophia.

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Desert Wildflowers: Part 1 Amboy Crater

Wildflower hunting in the desert. Dust. Heat. Color. Life! I’ve been wanting to see the desert bloom for a long time. We usually head into the desert in the fall or winter. So when my partner and I realized we had time in our schedule to duck out for a long weekend and the blooms were starting to happen, well beastie truck practically packed itself.

  

Our first hunting expedition led us through Amboy, California which is a 1950s ghost town with one gas station and Roy’s – a motel ala museum complete with a canonical sign. We topped off Beastie’s tank while I took in the still-as-it-was motel lobby complete with a small carousel horse and a 1950s couch. Oh my such delights!

From there we drove a short distance to Amboy Crater which was in full bloom. I fell in love with wildflower hunting with my first step on the trail and the joy of finding beauty hidden where you least expect it. Seeing the scrubby, grey, dried out creosote bushes of fall and winter transform into green leaves and yellow blossoms which litter the sands around the plant with little golden petals.

Finding fast moving many legged beetles with an odd sort of iridescent shell until I suddenly realize they are covered in pollen and thats why they look like that. Coming around a corner and sending a lizard flying with its tail curled way up in the air. Then watching as it stops and checks me out. Then look out, there are two of them racing down the trail!

Peeking carefully under and around the bushes to find green grass mixed with little fiddleback sorts of flowers that come in yellow or white or blue depending on where you find them. Always keeping an eye out for snakes. Dancing as I walk on the earth trying to avoid tiny yellow daisy flowers while enjoying them out at the same time.

We hiked towards the crater wandering with lots of stops on the way. It was very hot and little shade and I am not one to perch in the desert sun without serious wilting. Thank goodness there was a breeze and a couple of shade stations to sit in out of the sun. As it was, I did get overheated by the end of it.

That said, I did a number of little sketches of flowers and a couple of larger watercolors attempting to capture the lovely fields against the mountains and sky and clouds while the man wandered about with his camera. The fields were golden yellow against the greenery and the mountains with groupings of white and purple and pink scattered about.

The fields were alive with critters happily doing their thing. Ravens talking to us. Lizards. Beetles. Birds. Lots of bees and insects flying about. People have said you can’t really understand how much the desert comes alive after the rains until you see it transform and they are right. It’s as if a light switch was turned on and suddenly everyone is dancing and growing and blooming. 

My flickr album is here.

Next stop: Mojave Preserve

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Me and Mom

leoda-in-india-editedMy mother, Leoda Floradene Hall Wagner, walked on Sunday morning November 27, 2016, right on through the veil between this life and the next. I knew she was fading and ready to go. When it was clear Alzheimers had captured her brain several years ago, I said goodbye and told her to go when she was ready.

I was off in Death Valley exploring with a group of friends and out of cell contact. We woke up on Sunday morning to high winds and packed up to head out. It started raining on us – in one of the driest places around mind you. We drove out and up into the nearby mountains to explore an old mine and right into the most beautiful snowfall I’ve ever seen.

When we got out of the truck it was still snowing lightly. I wandered and played and took pictures and sketched. Only later did I learn that right about then was when Mom was breathing her last breath. I will always remember the beauty of that morning – it was a gift.

img_6180Two nights before I had hiked up a hillside into a wash in the desert and talked to her. Telling her about my man and our love and how we were doing, what her granddaughter was up too. Just catching up on things. It was peaceful and I could feel her around me. I told her again to go when she was ready. When I left I found a little rock in my pocket with a brilliant green streak through it – one of the colors she used to wear.

She and I traveled to Ireland, with a side trip to London, in late spring of 2006 – our big trip together as mother and daughter. Mom loved traveling especially to see sacred sites. I spent 4 months researching the trip, mapping out what stone circles and cairns to see and where to stay. We were gone almost 3 weeks on our travels. The longest I had been gone from my very young daughter. I taught my mom how to use a camera phone to take pictures to send back to her granddaughter.

St. Brigid's Well

We began our trip by visiting London and going to the Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels – something she had always wanted to see. It rained on us as we wandered all over London. Then off to Dublin. We saw Newgrange and its sister cairns, Knowth and Dowth, staying in a B&B next door that served fried tomatoes for breakfast. We found Ramsey tombstones in Letterkenney and got lost trying to find stone circles and cairns hidden off the road. We stayed in all kinds of places including on the estate of a Lord where a Templar ruins still exist. We went up to the top of Maeve’s cairn and part way of St. Patick’s mountain. It was an adventure full of memories.

Mom was always interested in all things mystical. She had the gift of Sight; you could place your hand in hers and she would close her eyes and she would answer all the questions you were too afraid to voice. And then some. She wowed my friends and made it very hard to hide anything when I was a teenager!

One Thanksgiving, about 12 years ago, we talked about having this gift. My grandmother, her mom, had the Sight. Mom remembered as a child her mom coming to the breakfast table with dreams to share – her way of sharing her gift in a world that did not support women with the Sight. In my moms world, she became a “psychic” thought she never asked for money and never had one of those neon signs. We would laugh about that. I know the gift is in me too but different then how it was for her.

I was very rebellious when I was younger and still am I suppose. When I was born, Mom was delighted to have a baby girl after two boys and dressed me up in pink and bows and dresses and tried to make me into a lady. She painted my room pink every year until I protested and painted it brilliant orange. It took 3 coats of white to cover it when I moved out something that I admit still makes me smile. Amusingly, hot pink is now one of my favorite colors.

meandmomMom loved dressing up and fashion and shopping. And when she was shopping she walked FAST. I learned to always keep my eye on her so I didn’t lose her when we were moving through a shopping mall. She had her colors done and liked it so well she had mine done. She was making me wear rust and brown colors and it turned out my colors were black and rose and very pale blue and pine needle. Had to completely redo my wardrobe. My jeans and t-shirt phases were a trial to her. Then there was the old turquoise cape coat she really didn’t like which disappeared from my closet one day and resulted in a very heated argument between us.

She was proud of me for my career and for the things I created including being an artist. And as the years went past I realized I was proud of her too. Every place she lived she joined the local womens’ club and always became the president involved in all sorts of charitable activities. She was an compassionate real estate agent who helped her clients relocate, size down gracefully and move through the challenges of change.

I remember when I bought my little black Porsche. My dad’s reaction was shock. He literally could not believe I could drive it. Women just were too helpless to do that. My response was to take Mom for a drive in the mountains which she loved – laughing the whole time as I flew over the windy roads.

elleongrandmaShe was there when my daughter was born. She was so happy to hold Eleanor. She stayed with us for two weeks to help out and it was a gift. She did laundry, made sure I slept and ate and held Eleanor every second she could. When I had troubles with breast feeding, she couldn’t help and shared her stories of how the doctors dried up women without even asking in the 50s.

When Eleanor was small, she loved her grandma and made her play dress up with her all the time. They played with kittens and blew bubbles and we visited down at their house when we could. Unfortunately, the Alzheimers started to take her away when Elle was still young and now Elle doesn’t remember that much of Grandma. My one regret is that Elle could have had more time with Grandma when her mind was still with us.

I’ll miss her and I can feel her with me. Its odd. I am sad but mostly peaceful with her passing. Its been a long time coming. When I did my prayers this morning I could see her smiling face the whole time so very clearly. In a way she is more here now then she has been and that feels good.

I love you Mom,
Annette

From Loughcrew Cairn, Ireland. 

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The Many Uses of Canvases, aka The Mouse Episode

Last night, I woke up to that sound of something scritching – little tiny feet rustling about.

Groan. Not again.
Did that darn cat bring in another baby possum?

Over the last three weeks, Hero has made a habit of bringing in a collection of baby possums which then eat all the cat food, wash up in the water bowls, and proceed to wander about the house leaving droppings here and there until they find my open bedroom door. Then they carefully crawl up the inside of the screen door trying to find their way out. Hence my aversion to the scritching noise. 

The only redeeming quality of this behavior is that the baby possums really are very non-agressive. They just roll up and play dead and I scoop them out and out of the house and they wander off. Even the one that found its way into the bathtub did that. Of course, it might have just fallen asleep.

The sound of scritching definitely brings me out of a good sleep. Its why I now had a small flashlight by that bedroom door. So I grudgingly rolled myself out of my bed, grumbling that my man was not here to do this for me – after all isn’t this his job!? I grabbed the flashlight and carefully opened my bedroom door wider and allowed the beam of light to play over the entire door. Nada. Not one sound and not one little critter. Hmmmm.

mouse behind dresserThe very early morning is not the time when my brain works fully. That warm bed was calling me even if the man was not in it. I did notice that Princess, Hero’s sister, was sitting on the bed at full attention – a clear sign that something was up. Didn’t matter. I rolled back into bed, snuggled into a nice warm pillow and went back to sleep.

A few hours later, I had two cats demanding pets and breakfast so I rolled back out of bed and over to the big picture window to pull up the curtain. My usual morning routine. And that’s when I found out why Princess was still at full attention.

I pulled on the cord, the curtain went up, and the bloody mouse that had been rustling its way back and forth on the top of the rail went flying to the other end and out into the air landing at the far end of the wall. I shrieked as Hero went racing in trying to catch the beastie. It was trapped between a piece of furniture and had nowhere to go. I grabbed the damn cat and attempted to drop him in there but he was having nothing to do with that.

So I shifted stuff and the mouse came flying out right at me. Another shriek ensued. The cat flew out of the bedroom and the mouse ran for the dresser in the other corner. Double frigging arg.

Mouse episode 2I did what any self-respecting woman would do especially one who is just barely awake and very annoyed. I texted the man to express my opinion and took myself off to the shower. I left Princess to oversee the mess and the open screen door.

After my shower, I got dressed, an important detail when dealing with tiny scurrying critters that bring on shrieks. I felt more awake and ready to deal with the beastie. Princess was still on guard.

I carefully cleared off the top of the dresser. Then I very slowly angled out one corner of the dresser and took a long look with the flashlight. Yup. Right there – 3 inches of brown furry mouse clinging to the back of the dresser with all its might. Well, I was NOT going in after it. Possums yes, mice no. And no, do not ask what the reasoning is. I have my rules. 

mouse episode princessI did the only thing I could do. I went into my studio and grabbed several long canvases. Then I arranged them such that the only open path was out the screen door. Then I carefully pulled the dresser out from the wall more. The mouse perched on the plugs. Princess set herself outside the door and settled in to wait.

I went off to make breakfast. For me.

I informed the cats that their breakfast was not an option until the mouse situation was resolved. Not that this had any real effect on Hero. He cleaned out the leftovers in the bowls and went to sleep on his chair. Apparently he had a hard night – all those shrieks unsettled his equilibrium.

Sheesh.

  

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Living into my blessings.

IMG_4268Blessings are a gift
One we may be given
One we may earn
Do not fear
That they may leave you as quickly as they found you

Instead,
Live into them
Allow them to own you
Heart and soul.
Fear has no hold in the face of that
And you are doubly blessed.

Over the last couple of years, the tone of my life has shifted. It no longer flows in the old ruts and channels. There is a sparkling vibrancy that is uplifting and delightful. Falling in love with the man of my heart is a big part of this shift. Being loved for who I am, adored and appreciated for my crazy ways – it fills up all the lonely places in my being, sews up the old wounds and hurts and heals them with the balm of kisses and good loving. It has shown me I CAN live with love at the center of my life.

I feel immensely blessed.
And that, right there, is the problem.

You see, I’ve been struggling with coming to terms with feeling blessed and lucky. Feeling blessed brings up all the reasons why I don’t deserve the blessings. Feeling of not being worthy or good enough. Part of me has been afraid to voice my blessings, to believe they were going to last, to trust in them. Part of me was worried my special someone was going to realize I just wasn’t good enough for him. Or, that something would happen to just blow it all up. Then I got worried that this worry and resistance was going to result in me sabotaging my relationship and my life and my health.

This kind of worry and fear arises from the stories that run my life. We all have them and we feed them and give them energy when we listen to them and allow them to impact us – which is why I love Intentional Creativity so much. It has taught me how to re-write, re-imagine, and re-create my stories into ones that truly support me.

So I’ve been musing about this struggle to believe in the blessings in my life. The IG treatment healing my immune system. The reality that my job is to go on a hike and pull out my sketchbook and create art that heals our connection to the earth. The wonderful relationship I have with my daughter. Because I also know that when my thinking starts spiraling down into a big black hole it is time to…

STOP.
Dig in.
Sit on the earth.
ASK.
What is this pattern really about?
What will shift it?

Yesterday was my birthday and I headed to Grandmother Ocean. I left an offering for Grandmother when I got there. I put my hands in her salty water and walked through the waves getting all sandy as I chased seaweed at low tide. It felt so wonderfully perfect.

I brought a new sketchbook with me and decided to begin it then and there. I sat on the sand and got my pen out. Mused for a moment and then wrote my intention on the first page and it  was NOT what I expected:

live into my blessings

To live into my blessings.

I read that and got chills. AH! Suddenly everything clicked into place. Blessings are meant to be leaned into. To be acknowledged. To be appreciated. Not hovered over like they are fragile and about to burst and disappear. The blessings are the NEW story I am living. The fear is the fear of change and new things and the best way to chase it out is to live my life fully, to live into my blessings. To allow the blessings to replace the old stories and become my new story.

Because you see, blessings are not just gifts you open and enjoy once.  Blessings are a gift that can radically change your life and you have a choice of whether you accept the blessing into your life and live it, or continue to walk down the same old path with the same old story. I know what I choose to do – blessings here I come! 

Wow. This is one huge birthday present. Wow and yowza and holy batshit all rolled into one. Thank you universe! And Grandmother Ocean…I would not have gotten this message without sitting on your sand.

May your day be full of blessings,

Annette

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What does a box of adventure have in it?

adventure box top

Are there necessary items?
Perhaps some glitter to make things sparkle?
Or a chunk of chocolate for those times when one needs a little pick-me-up?

Is it a small box or a large one?
Hinged?
Locked with a small heart-shaped key?

It’s a tempting problem to try to solve.
However, perhaps knowing what is in the box is not at all the thing to do?
After all the nature of adventure is that one does not know what might happen next.
And to stay within that sensibility,
Perhaps one can never really know what is in the box.

It’s a thought.
Though I admit that part of me still wants to make a list of necessaries.
After all there is that whole bit about being prepared for all eventualities.

So what would I put in the box?
Love.
Something in black, cowgirl boots perhaps.
A bit of mad money – a $100 bill one can tuck into a bra.

IMG_4120

Then there are those items like…
Taking a deep breath while continuing to step forward.
That qualifies as courage I suppose.
Or maybe bravery.
One does need courage on an adventure,
Especially if one expects the adventure to be thrilling or scary.
And I don’t think something can really be called an adventure that is not just a bit scary.

So what else might a scary, thrilling adventure box have in it?
The Fool Tarot card where you step off the cliff in absolute trust.
Yes, that one.
A sense of the unknown seems to walk hand in hand with trust.
Which makes me think the Fool card needs to be in there too.

Then there is that whole thing about ‘follow your heart’.
That makes me wonder if there is a compass in the box
Perhaps not a traditional one pointing north
Rather, one that points down the path of adventure
And says this way feels like the way to go.
One that you use to feel the tug on your heart to know where to turn.

And if I am going to follow paths,
Then a ball of red thread is needed.
Why?
To keep me connected to those who I need to be connected to of course.
And you never know when you might need some yarn to tie to a tree
And leave unraveled behind you as you explore a possible path.
Finding one’s way home is part of any adventure.

IMG_4121There is one more use for the box.
A rather important one.
To gather up the messages and gifts and lessons of the adventure.
When one goes on an adventure,
There are always things that happen.
And the box needs space for
A dried rose from that garden you came across unexpectedly,
Or a ticket from a train ride that you didn’t mean to take
Or the quick sketch you made of the building where you had lunch that day.

It is these items that turn the box of adventure
Into a box of treasures and memories and new stories.
And when the box shifts is when you know the adventure has come to a close.
However satisfying an adventure has been
However joy-filled and laughter-filled
There is a touch of sadness that it is over and done.
That is when the box of treasures becomes a talisman
For the next adventure.

What is in your Box of Adventure?

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A Creature of This Planet

crocus sketch terra sophiaI drove up to the land on Friday morning. By the land, I mean Terra Sophia, the land where my mentor Sue Hoya Sellars lived up in the Anderson Valley. A gorgeous, peaceful 20 acres of hills and valley, trees and clouds. Rain and winds were predicted for Friday and Saturday, possibly even thunderstorms.

I wasn’t entirely sure why I had decided to come up here. My partner was out of town; my daughter off for the weekend. Perhaps thats why my brain offered up this idea of heading out of town for a short retreat off the grid? Or perhaps there was something under all of that?

raindrops in puff ballsRegardless, when I got up to the land, I was still wondering why I had driven three and half hours to spend two days by myself. I got out of the car and unloaded, put on my hiking boots, and then went for a walk on the land to say hello. I wandered – almost as if I needed to find something to do.

It took some time for me to settle – finally I  laid down on the earth, closed my eyes, and then sighed deeply. Maybe I don’t need a reason to come here. Maybe I don’t need to find something to do.

Maybe its ok to just be present…

To the song of the wind in the trees.
To the sound of the ravens cawing.
To touch the seed heads on grasses dancing in the wind with abandon.
To the feel of the earth crumbling in my fingers.
To watch the dark clouds rolling past the tops of the trees.

Ya think?

I wandered, sketched, laid on the earth, made myself some dinner. Slowly slowing down bit by bit by bit. Stopping to take touch little yellow flowers. To notice rain drops on whiskered balls of fuzz. Until I just stood still on the earth breathing in the essence of stillness letting it fill me up.

raindrops in spiderwebI put out food for the deer and one came by while I ate my dinner. We shared a glance and each went back to our sustenance. I could feel the sentience of the land and how it welcomed me. Letting me drift about until I settled.

By the time I woke up the next morning, I was grounded into the earth. I went for a long walk down to the creek through all the scrub and branches and downed trees. Hunted for wildflowers and had a conversation with a lizard. Dodged rain showers and sat in the transient sunshine. I was in connection with all the creatures and beings around me and it felt right and good and healing.

I needed to ground deeply and so the land had called me to come to her. To stand on her earth. To open my heart and feel the connection that is always there in my heart come to the forefront. To remind me that first and foremost I am also a creature of this planet in all her glory. That the human world is only one aspect of living and sometimes not a very important one despite its roar and demands and tugs.

fairy wingBy the time I left this morning, I was at peace. I packed the car and fed the ravens and deer. Then I knelt down and put my hands on the earth to thank her for nurturing me. And there, next to my hand was a fairy wing covered with dew.

Magic does happen,
Annette

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