To Everything There Is A Season

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.                          - Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

Most people of a certain middle-ish age are familiar with the song Turn, Turn, Turn (The Byrds, 1965) and how, taken from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, it contrasts various aspects of life. In a nutshell, the chorus lyrics go something like this : a time to be born/die, to plant/reap, to kill/heal, to laugh/weep, to build up/break down, etc.

As winter turns into spring here in the Midwest USA, my attention turns from redesigning websites to writing a book. And just like that, my Turn Turn Turn earworm - you know, when a song keeps playing over and over in your head - manifests itself.

How timely, how relevant to entrepreneurship and owning a small business, because as I look back over the last few years - as artist, writer, and owner of Abundance Art LLC - I see seasons, all the seasons.

The Spring of ideas, a new website to be designed and created, paintings to be painted, mandalas to be drawn, photographs to be organized. The sighting of success shoots popping up in the form of a first exhibit and sales.

The Summer of watering and watching the website grow with the opening of an online store, of joining an artist's cooperative gallery, hanging my visual art. And waiting, watching for signs of growth. The Summer of drought and worry when sales dry up and aspirations fade.

The Autumn of discouragement and letting go, understanding that somehow rejection is really just redirection. Being willing to receive feedback, and make changes accordingly. Redesigning the design.

The Winter of darkness, loss of hope when, in spite of all the work of the preceding months and years, the bank account remains barren. Trusting that, invisible underground, life grows. Listening in the wintry silence for the wisdom within, and saying hello to truth. Redesigning the redesign in a way that FITS.  Under the snow, something is being made whole.

And here we are, surrounded by signs of Spring again: bright yellow daffodils and forsythia, trees budding pink and white against the blue sky.

The seasons are always overlapping in this entrepreneurial world. My book's framework, outline, introduction, and first two chapters written, I learn that it's not the right book.  Devastated, I lay low, the smallest effort seemingly monumental.

And outside it is snowing. Winter isn't done with me yet!

Slowing down, allowing the snow covered daffodils to rest under their burden, I too rest, allowing something new to form in the place vacated by my book's first works.

Spring is just around the corner here in the Midwest USA.

And it's ALREADY here inside me in an abundance of thoughts and possibilities about my new ideal reader, marketing and publication strategies. For I am now blending the bits I like best -  painting fine art, selling beautiful photographic prints, and helping others - into a book that tells the story of how creativity saved my life. And growing a variety of income streams around that.

I am right where I'm meant to be.

And, I'm looking forward to Summer. And Autumn. And Winter. And life.

Are you?

You can find my original paintings and prints (paintings and photographs), mandala exhibit "go slow: woman on a journey" as well as artisanal notecards for sale at Abundance Art.

You can find my stunning collection of Russian Chandelier photographic metal prints for sale at ShopAbstractPhotography.

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Trauma Surprise and Resources

On the way to church yesterday, I shared with Dad my awareness of how difficult it is these days to get motivated to work on projects and chores in my house, life and work.

I reflected silently that I've been carrying an image of myself from years past in which I become almost like a tornado, tearing through my chores and errands, energized by the prospect of having my to-do list completed.

Continuing my inward thoughts, I'd been waiting for that tornado-that-is-me to manifest itself again. THEN I would get caught up on my backed-up piles of laundry, paperwork, dishes, outdoor chores, errands and lists of to do items for my business.

Returning to the conversation with my father, I also shared with him that I have slowly come to the realization that it will not likely be that way again. It's ok to content myself with baby steps, knowing that though it all may take longer, it will indeed all get done. That it will be ok.

As I spoke these words, a lump formed in my throat and my tears welled in my eyes. I had just named something both known and yet new aloud, aware of the letting go of something old and deeply entrenched. More time and space would be needed to process this in private, later.

Surprisingly sooner rather than later.

In church, the first Sunday of Lent brings with it the praying of the Confiteor, a confession.

Oh, how I struggle with the harsh words of this prayer:

I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; therefore, I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.  

Without meaning to sound holier than thou, here's how I look at life: I believe God loves me unconditionally, and I live my life doing my best loving him back.

Also, seven plus years of extensive and comprehensive trauma recovery and healing taught me what REAL compassion and love look like. First and foremost, for the little girl that is me. Then for all God's children and all his creation.

Me perfect? Absolutely not. Me a sinner? Yes, when I push God away or purposely ignore his call for help in my encounters with others. Even then, our extraordinarily compassionate God sees our hearts and understands when we're trying our best, even when our best is none too good.

And so, when it's time for the Confiteor, the heartfelt prayer I offer up is a version of my highest truth:

I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do. I ask you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

This morning, as the congregation reached the words,

through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault,

a passionate voice deep within me - the little girl that is me - suddenly and silently shouted no! no! no! no! And I just started crying, the kind of crying that wanted OUT. I excused myself to my father, saying I needed to go sit in the car.

Once inside my car, my crying turned quickly to sobbing, coughing, keening, waling and shaking all over. These typical physical reactions in Somatic Experiencing revealed to me that something(s) had triggered a trauma activation, that the best thing I could do was give my body's wisdom space and time to process and release trapped energy safely. I opened the windows slightly to allow fresh air in and released energy out.

The no-words releasing included no-words praying, me tightly clutching a small hand carved and buffed wooden cross designed with curves to be hand held. Because of its small perfect knot defect, I named it Wholely Holey Holy Lord. I held on to it for dear life for comfort and strength, so thankful for my long-ago decision to keep it in my car.

And I reached out for help. I messaged my therapist. I drew a mandala (part of my trauma healing process) on my iPhone and sent it to her so she would have a better idea of what was going on inside of me, and she texted back feedback that strengthened me. We would talk in an hour. In the meantime, I pictured her sitting next to me, supporting me.

The imagination is an amazing healing resource.

I started to journal, another resource in my trauma healing toolkit. This article completes what began in the car. 

My father and my brother the father (a priest, my pastor, a real blessing) both showed up for me after mass with compassion. As I drove Dad home, we talked a bit about my experience, and when I dropped him off he asked not just for a hug, but for a big hug, telling me he loved me. It meant the world to me, that love and support coming from him. So much healing there...

Late in the evening, my brother and I spoke briefly, sharing a special connection.

Somatic Experiencing, depending on the intensity of the work can be very energy consuming. I knew I would require extra rest, allowing for the limp noodle feeling this morning. Resting and working in bed, the cool wind blowing through the open windows, nourished my healing body, soul, and the little girl that is me today.

I thank God for my healing over the years. Yes, there are still surprises, unexpected triggers and activations that come from seemingly out of nowhere. They don’t frighten me like they used to.

I have a magnificent toolkit of resources. 

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There's a Whole Lot of New in this New Year

New Year's greetings and blessings all around!

What's new in your world in 2017?  At home? At work?  With children? With pets? 

According to my informal survey of one (me), a slight shifting occurs, along with a new sense of possibility.

And lots of change.

Starting with my website redesign:

  • Home - streamlined, including links to ShopAbstractPhotography and Etsy store
  • Blog page - easier navigation through current and past posts.
  • Shop - simpler display and clearer path to originals for sale vs print collections. Plus, by the end of the month, I'll be offering two different collections of fine art notecards, suitable for framing.

Did someone say GIVE AWAY?

Yes.

Twice.

Times twelve.

Each month, I'm giving away something from Abundance Art and ShopAbstractPhotography.

Starting with two drawings on Friday, January 27th, which gives you lots of time to join each list and share with family and friends. Feel the love, spread the love. 


 Abundance Art:

Imagine yourself lying on a beach in Costa Rica. No, I'm not giving away a free trip. Sorry. However, imagine having your own museum quality print of Costa Rica Beach... a $70 value - free! And you have plenty of time to join and spread the word.

 

 


Shop Abstract Photography

Now imagine yourself walking through the great hallways of the Winter Palace in St Petersburg, Russia. Look up. Gorgeous chandelier! Who would like to have a special limited edition of this stunning metal print - normally selling for $297 - for free in your home? Join and spread the word, and it might just be you.


There's one more way for you to win. For every person you refer to either subscriber list, you receive a $5 voucher towards a purchase from AbundanceArt.com. The way this works is that you contact me via the website with the names of the new subscribers and the list they joined. I confirm, and I send you the voucher code(s).

Sweet.

Don't you just love free stuff?

Here's to 2017 and abundant new possibilities!

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Bonus Blogpost: My New (Ad)Venture is Live!

Hello all,

Well, my brain and my body are so much in the habit of writing a blogpost, that here I am again!

There's been a rumor going around that I've been gestating.

Yes, it's true.

I've been growing something for a couple of months now, and I'm proud to announce it's a brand new...  website!

And notice my favorite little swirl on the left of the new logo? A nice bit of golden continuity with its blue cousin from my Abundance Art Logo.

Back to ShopAbstractPhotography, here's what's great about the first photographic collection featured on the new website. three of which are shown here to further entice you.

  • I know you'll love these twelve gorgeous chandeliers I captured on my dream trip to Russia as much as I do.
  • The images go through a special printing process involving aluminium - that's aluminum to you Americans, the only ones in the world who pronounce it that way.. but I digress -  and polymers that bring out the absolute luster and splendor of each piece.
  • The collection is a limited edition, which means each individual piece (signed and numbered by yours truly) may very well increase in value over time. Get yours now!
  • These beauties are perfect for a variety of residential and commercial venues.
  • For your convenience, you can purchase them directly from my Abundance Art Facebook page.
  • All shipping, domestic and international is included in the price. Woo hoo! Come on world!

In case you're wondering, abundanceart.com is absolutely alive and well, and continues to grow, as Candy and I progress with co-authroing our trauma recovery book. The chandelier collection that was there will be replaced with different photos in the next few weeks, along with some other changes to make it easier to navigate the website.

Plus, I added a link at the bottom of the Abundance Art home page that takes you directly to  ShopAbstractPhotography.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

One more thing. I have created a YouTube channel called Abundance Art,  and am in the process of  loading videos old and new onto it, including some of my trek/travel adventures to Nepal, Trauma and Somatic Experiencing education, and business and marketing stuff. Also, I'm still figuring out some of the features, so bear with me. Do let me know if there's anything particular you're like me to post. I can do funny. I like funny.

Because of all that's going on, I'm asking for your help and support. The good news is that it takes very little effort. I would be SOOOOOO grateful in you would share this in your social media and email circles, to really help me get the word out. Plus, get your friends and family to sign up for my email list. I'll be giving away a painting for free to celebrate the beginning of 2017, and you have to be on my mailing list to win.

Mailing list + chance to win free cool art = no brainer. :) Pass it on

I think that's quite enough for one day, don't you? 

Enjoy your weekend!

Peace and love to all.

I'm falling asleep!

Namaste,

Annette

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A Bit About Painting

Tonight I am really missing painting.

Between writing and distributing a daily blog, helping my Dad with some health issues, preparing my new website for launch and just daily living stuff, I've not taken time to pick out a new canvas, paints and brush.

In fact, I'm missing it so much that after I finish this, I just might create a little something.

How do you manage to squeeze in the activities in your life that really fill and nourish you?

How about taking a moment now and just enjoy some of the images from my paintings gallery, with or without titles. Just soak up the color, the whimsy, the energy.

About a half hour ago, I was inspired to create a little video tour of my studio/office/prayer and meditation room. It just bubbled up in my thoughts, and the next thing I knew it was done. So now I want to share my creative space with you.

I wish you could sit here and have a cup of tea with me as we look around. And smell the exquisite incense.

Ahh, that was nice...

To think I might have missed this calling. Back in 2010, having spent 35 years in nursing and healthcare informatics consulting, I made the decision to quit my job and answer the little girl that is me who pleaded "Please listen to me! I really need this!"

So, I began exploring my creative side in 2011, on January 12th, my birthday.

Having no formal art education, I worked with Pamela Hawkins, a local artist and at the time art medicine woman. She taught me the style called process painting.

This meant beginning my paintings simply by discerning what colors appealed, how I wanted to move (i.e. in long broad strokes versus swirls or circles or both), and what brushes I felt like using, along with what size I wanted to create. One of the coolest things I learned was that I could always add more paper if the painting called for it.

I was hooked. I set up my own little studio space in my home, starting with tempera on paper. In sessions over the next few years, she provided a safe and nurturing place, along with all supplies, and I painted and painted and painted.

It was she who taught me that I am the painter, the paint, and the painting. 

I've since progressed to acrylic on canvas, all sizes, though am drawn more and more to larger sizes. I love how it feels to move my body back and forth as I'm creating. Then stepping back to see what has shown up on the canvas. I'm often surprised, and there's a wonderful sense when the painting says "I'm finished now."

When a friend saw one of my paintings, he asked, "That came from your head?" to which I replied, "No, it came from my heart."

The truth is, a bit of my heart, soul and love remains in each of my paintings.

Wouldn't it be cool to create something together, you and I? I'm offering Something for Your Soul for those on a healing path and/or celebrating an accomplishment.. 

Well, I gotta go now because I want to paint.

Do reach out to me if you're feeling the vibe to co-create now. Or to make a gift for someone.

Let's manifest something beautiful together!

PS - After I wrote the blog and before I posted the email to my subscriber list, I did a bit of painting: I was so wanting to just fill the canvas with Cobalt Blue. 

So I did. First, gather the supplies:

Then paint. And since cobalt blue has been on my mind, onto the canvas it goes, along with some teal and bronze and a bit of sky blue...

 The Beginning of Cobalt Blue by Annette Hadley

The Beginning of Cobalt Blue by Annette Hadley

I like how it unfolded tonight... evocative of I'm not sure what. I'll check in on it in the morning.

Sweet dreams and peace to all!

 

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Aleppo: Deconstructed or Connected?

Have you had a chance yet to read Blogpost #25 Aleppo? If not, please do so. It remains very much on my mind since I wrote it. 

The regime is telling the people there to leave or die. Yet those who leave risk being detained and/or tortured and/or killed. Plus, I have read that the rebels are pressuring people who want to leave to stay. With no hospitals, invasive medical procedures are being conducted in basements without anesthetic. Talk about being between an exponential rock and hard place.

Ouch. I mean really, OUCH. My soul hurts.

As you know, I have chosen to auction my quadriptych (four panels in one) "Aleppo" painting to support the victims and rescuers in and around Aleppo,  Syria. Yet something niggled ever since that post a couple of days ago. Really niggled. Some thing wasn't quite right.

I figured it out today.

I am meant to give more freely. To model giving more freely out of love and solidarity for my Syrian brothers and sisters.

I had my 25% wrong. I was going to donate 25% of the proceedings, and it's supposed to be the other way around.

I'm going to keep 25% of the proceedings. I will donate 75% to The British Red Cross who is on the ground today outside Aleppo providing emergency aid.

Don't get me wrong. It is my intention to prosper in my business, and I believe with all my heart that success finds me. I'm learning that it is through providing a service to others, by serving, that I can really help others. 

This time, this feels right.

So, here again is Aleppo, my original quadriptych paintings, acrylic on canvas, four 14"x14" panels making up one image 28"x28" image. It it designed to be hung in one of two ways:

Deconstructed - this represents the brokenness and division of the city and its people.

 

Connected: This represents my dream that Aleppo will heal and rebuild in peace.

We can together serve up love and compassion and solidarity and relief. We can raise money for a humanitarian cause, to help in one of modern history's most horrific humanitarian crises. To help our fellow humans, our brothers and sisters in and around Aleppo.

My ask of you?

Come forth and enter your bid below! The winning bidder will also receive an assortment of Abundance Art notecards in addition to the paintings.

And if you can't bid, consider making even a small contribution to a Syrian/Aleppo relief agency of your choice. Just google it. 

And if you can't donate, remember the people in your thoughts, your prayers. Imagine peace.

Let's show the world what love and solidarity look like.

 

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Aleppo

Does the number twenty five hold any significance for you?

It keeps popping up for me, as I reflect on what is mine to share in this my twenty fifth blogpost.  I feel very passionate about what's been bubbling up for some time now. I can't not share this.

When I turned twenty five, I thought to myself, "Wow. A quarter of a century old!" Wow. I was so young!

Now nearing fifty nine and oh-so-much wiser and compassionate, I want to use this number to share the idea of solidarity and what it can look like in today's world.

What does solidarity mean to you?

Rather than give you a dictionary definition, here's what it means to me. That I am somehow connected to and impacted by my fellow members of the human race. Wherever they are, however they are living, whether they are suffering or not. I may or may not be able to change anything.

However I NOTICE them, I CARE about them. I HELP them if, when and how I can.

This last year, one topic has stolen and broken my heart, that being the civil war in Syria, especially in Aleppo. Today, the rebel forces are all but wiped out, their last "stronghold" being the Eastern portion of that city.

As you know, twenty five times ten thousand is two hundred fifty thousand. 250,000. A quarter of a million.

Did you know that that is the number of people trapped in Eastern Aleppo on this the 100th day of besiegement by the Syrian regime? It used to be more, but so many have died. And now, as tens of thousands attempt to flee, many are being targeted by regime forces with gunfire and bombs.

What about solidarity? How has that shown up?

Numerous organizations, including the Syrian Civil Defense, International Red Cross, and Catholic Relief Services have devoted resources to help victims and refugees. You can learn more here

Or, just google Aleppo relief.

For a long time now, the civilian rescue group called The White Helmets has been raising money, putting it to life saving use, with rescue and emergency medical training, ambulances and extraction equipment, etc. These are the men who run in to rescue after the bombs hit.

But now the bombing and gunfire is so incessant that the White Helmets often cannot get to the victims in time. They have to make decisions on how best to use their limited gasoline. They cannot keep up.

Their greatest joy is saving the life of another person.

Their greatest sorrow is hearing someone alive under the rubble, and finding them dead.

My emotions were shaken after listening to a journalist recently returned from Aleppo who discredited The White Helmets as puppets of terrorist forces. About this time, the White Helmets were featured in a Netflix documentary and were being considered for the Nobel Peace Prize. I didn't know what to make of it all.

Solidarity kicked in. All I could think about were my Syrian brothers and sisters. Their humanity. Their innate dignity. And their horrific life and losses.

Today, I am facing the possibility, what may become the reality... that the regime will accomplish its goal of destroying killing wiping out those who remain. Whether through bombing, gunfire, lack of medical care, and/or starvation.

I feel the desperation of the noose tightening around the collective necks of these innocent people of God.

Solidarity? Today and every day, I am praying for relief. For an end to the suffering of my brothers and sisters. I am honoring their instinct to survive under impossible circumstances. And I am more and more understanding what some are saying, that the ones whose lives are taken by the bombs are the lucky ones.

Solidarity? Today and every day I am praying love, peace, consolation in solidarity with my brothers and sisters. I am intending a power greater than hate, greater than violence, and that's what I'm sending out into the world. For even though I cannot change what is happening in Aleppo, I can change how I treat those in my life and in my daily encounters. With love and compassion. Encouragement. Fairness.

Back in June, when I became aware of just how bad things were getting, I was moved to paint my first quadriptych. One image across four panels. Each panel 14"x14". This came from my heart, and only later would the words form to describe it.

Twenty five percent is one fourth of something. What showed up on these four in one panels was deep cobalt blue, with some black and white. Diversity. The circular movements of my arm and brush revealed wholeness, connectedness.

And suddenly I knew its name:

Aleppo

For you can no more take apart these pieces and have a whole than our world can lose the people of Aleppo and not be broken by it.

Solidarity? Hell yes.

Let's turn the word into action.

I now know what I'm called to do, and how you can help me serve.

I am auctioning off Aleppo, starting at $1000.00 for all four pieces together. I am going to donate 25% of the proceeds to the British Red Cross, Syria Campaign. (I just donated 25 GBP to them.) Auction ends December 25th. How fitting...

How can you help?

Bid to raise the price. Someone else bid.

Bid again. Let's make something big happen.

Think hard about the blessings you have in your life.

Think hard about how you spend your money.

Notice the roof over your head.

Notice how safe you are.

Donate to a Syrian relief organization of your choice.

 

 Assalam alaykum. Peace be upon you.

 

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Inspired, Wired and Tired

I'm getting really excited now. With Thanksgiving barely behind, it's time to embark on a whole new adventure. In my faith tradition (Roman Catholicism), today marks the start of the Advent season (advent… adventure… hmmm), where we are encouraged to slow down in our hearts, wait, reflect, anticipate, and prepare.

A challenge, considering this to be a season traditionally very busy with shopping, get-togethers, decorating, etc etc etc.

Are you slowing down and/or preparing for anything unique in your life? The birth of a new baby? Recovery from surgery? What are you reflecting on these days? Anything special you're anticipating in addition to the holiday season?

Can you carve some space into your busy schedule to just be?

Here's how life is falling into place for me right now.

Inspired:

I've been collaborating with a graphic designer on an additional website in which I am showcasing my photography. Specifically mandalas, and starting off, specifically the most exquisite mandala for me, the chandelier. I'm feeling especially inspired right now because these aren't your ordinary reproductions. We're using a technology that essentially infuses the image on a metal background, creating a stunning result that brings out the metallic colors, light and splendor of each chandelier. The metal image is then mounted on a sturdy wood frame, ready to hang. And the smaller size (12x12) is ideal for mixing and matching:

 

We're looking at launching the website in the near future and you'll be the first to know.

Wired:

In the meantime, I feel very honored to have been accepted to have my own little corner in an online store, which launches tomorrow, Cyber Monday. I'll post the URL once it's officially open.

I'm offering the same chandelier products in this store as on my new website. And here's the really cool bit. The metal print chandeliers are being sold across both sites as a special limited edition collection. I'm offering two sizes, 12x12 (a total of 200 prints) and 24x24 (a total of 125 prints). Each one numbered and signed by me. When they're all sold, that's it.

Of course, I'll be adding other special limited edition collections, so there's always something to purchase. Just not that glorious Bolshoi Theatre as a metal print. (You'll still be able to order it on Abundance Art as an enhanced matte giclee print.)

Tired:

When I'm so inspired, I get wired, and therefore so excited and focused that sometimes I forget to eat or exercise or go to sleep at a decent hour.  I confess that I don't always listen to my body's wisdom.

Now is a good time for me to heed my advent intention to slow down in my heart and take a bit of time to wait, reflect, anticipate.

And how about you? Can now be a good time to slow down and enjoy my chandelier collection with a cup of tea or glass of wine? And anticipate coming back in the next few days to purchase limited edition metal prints. I'll keep you posted!

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The Marvelous Mysterious Mandala

 Sea, Wishfulness, by Annette Hadley, 2010

Sea, Wishfulness, by Annette Hadley, 2010

Back in summer of 2010, I was introduced to the mandala during a trauma recovery therapy session. It started as simply as this gentle prompt from my therapist as she gave me paper and pastel chalk: "Draw a circle. Now fill it in." We did some additional work around what I drew, and now, 100 mandalas later, my love and appreciation for them has deepened immensely.

From my own hand drawn ones to all other forms.

Woah! Let's back up. What's a mandala you ask?

It's just a circle. And so much more. Because the circle itself is so rich in meaning, considered among different cultures and faith traditions a symbol that:

  • Is universal, sacred and divine
  • Signifies family ties, closeness & protection
  • Represents the infinite nature of energy, of the notions of totality, wholeness, original perfection, the infinite, eternity, timelessness.

And finally, a perfect circle is symbolic of something that is whole, complete, ideal and eternal; a circle has no ending and no beginning.

I just love that! What do you think about it? Let's take it a step further into its place as a mandala.

If you ask Wikipedia, here's what you get: A mandala (Sanskrit: मण्डल, lit, circle) is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Indian religions, representing the universe. And I would add that the mandala/circle that represents the universe just happens to manifest itself in countless forms throughout our own little mandala/sphere called earth.

It is those manifestations I've fallen in love with, that I am drawn to like a moth to light. Mandalas are found in nature and architecture, natural creations and drawn designs, coloring books and specialty books. They may be round or create a round pattern. They may be spheres. They are created from repurposed broken bits of glass and other bits and bobs. They form on the floor when I'm sweeping up a broken Pyrex measuring cup, They show up as a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. 

 Pyrex Breaks 

Pyrex Breaks 

 Costa Rica Plant

Costa Rica Plant

 Summer in a Glass 

Summer in a Glass 

I zero in on them wherever I go.

Why does this matter? How does this happen? Because I have the mandala appreciation gene, of course! Those blessed with eyes to see experience a deeper awareness of the endless beauty of creation, the marvelous handiwork of craftsman, and the reminder of an eternal universal connection.

It's like there's a bit of software in my brain that registers the shape "circle" and I immediately experience a sense of one or more of the following:

Costa Rica mandala spheres.png
  • Path
  • Calm
  • Peace
  • Beauty
  • Eternity
  • Mystery
  • Curiosity
  • Symmetry
  • Wholeness
  • Nourishment
  • Completeness
  • Playfulness (who doesn't love to play ball?

I want to linger and soak it up. My brain circle software reminds me: 

  • Oh, my! Get a photo of that!

And so I do.

Here are some mandala photos from my most recent travel to London, Nice, and Monaco.

 From left: Monaco Mystery, Hilton Paddington Lamp, Nice Stonemasonry, London Chandelier

From left: Monaco Mystery, Hilton Paddington Lamp, Nice Stonemasonry, London Chandelier

My favorite mandala manifestation right now is the chandelier. Along with the power of the circle, in comes the power of light and all that it represents: power, beauty, illumination, possibilities. Abstract? Perhaps. Perfection? Definitely. I'm like a kid in a candy store when I find chandeliers to photograph. And they're so perfect because they offer a variety difference of perspectives, often mandalas within mandalas. 

Having introduced the chandelier as mandala, I invite you to my online store where you can purchase prints of my first collection, all photos taken in Russia in 2015.

Spasibo (thanks)!

So look around you. And up. And down. Repeat. Discover the marvelous mysterious mandala.

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Weather or Not

As I was thinking about today's blog topic, my mind kept wandering to poems I've written over the years. Specifically about weather. Especially about the kind of weather I like - cloudy, rainy, cool.  It turns out there's a word for people like me: pluviophile - a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days.

The kind of weather I don't like - sunny, cloudless, hot. In fact, when we go without at least some clouds in the sky for a couple of days, I get restless. If we go without clouds and/or at least wind for more than a few days, I get cranky. If we go without rain for several weeks, I get sad. I'm serious. I feel depressed.

You've heard of seasonal affective disorder? People not getting enough sunlight in winter? I don't get that. I mean, I really don't get that. So when a beautiful sunny day shows up, and people are saying "what a beautiful day it is!" I do my best to smile and say "it sure is." As much as I prefer clouds and rain, I don't want to rain on their parade. I'm really glad for those people on those days. And besides, I do want to honor the great beauty in creation on those days. But give me rain and clouds any day. Every day. And if not rain, then at least clouds. Especially in summer:

I always knew I was different. No wonder I loved living in London so much. And in the Middle East so little.

 My Kind of Summer Day by Annette Hadley, acrylic on canvas, 2014

My Kind of Summer Day by Annette Hadley, acrylic on canvas, 2014

And so, today I share my weather related poems, hoping they nourish you like a fresh rain shower after a drought.  Or a sunny day after a storm. Whatever floats your boat.

Seasons

Winter's blowing snow

Spring's fragrant grow

Summer's morning glow

Autumn's letting go

 

Pluviophile

Oh the comfort and calm of this cloudy morn, the soothing softness of new day born.

The rain, when it comes, joins the song of the birds, my well being, peacefulness, needing no words.

Would that it were like this day after day, clouds scudding 'cross skies, going on their way.

The sound - rain falling - my very soul feeds; I hunger, I thirst for the nourishing beads.

Of water, that which I love so dear, to feel, and hear it continue near.

As it falls from the sky. It nourishes earth. It brings new life, for me new birth.

 

Raining

Oh this rainy morning bed

Claims my body, toes to head.

Comfort seen and comfort felt,

Lying here, no speck of guilt.

 

Thunder Summerstorm

The thunder rumbles…

 Thunder Summerstorm by Annette Hadley, digital design, 2016

Thunder Summerstorm by Annette Hadley, digital design, 2016

There is something that must be heard.

The rain pours from the sky.

Nature herself is crying. 

The storm intensifies: 

Listen to me! 

Listen to me! 

Crack! open the past... 

Crack! open the wounds... 

Flash! to see and be surprised by what follows...

It is dark.

It is scary.

It is consuming.

It is cathartic.

It will have its way and...

I observe it.

I do not change it.

It changes me.

For the better.

And for that I am deeply grateful.

 

Summer Said Bye-Bye

Summer said bye-bye last night, whisked away by storm.

It's cooler in the night time now, days not hot, just warm.

My soul, relieved, can breathe again,through nature's changing flow.

Soon it will be autumn time, the season to let go.

 

Autumn Leaving

I watch the leaves falling in the

Bright-crisp autumn air.

I want to catch each one in my hands

And whisper "thank you for teaching me about letting go."

And I understand that

The trees must let go too;

And sometimes

That leaves them crying.

 

 

I haven't written a poem about winter… yet. But I will tell you one thing. I ALWAYS make a snow angel.

 Snow Angel by Annette Hadley, body on snow, Tromso, Norway, 2008

Snow Angel by Annette Hadley, body on snow, Tromso, Norway, 2008

At least once a year. And winter is on its way.

Like the poems in this post? Check out my poetry page for more, and then pop into the store

 

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I Go Slowly and I Prosper

How timely, this topic popping into my head this morning.

Most of my adult life I worked hard and I worked long hours, as in 60ish hours a week for long stretches of time. It had to do with my mistaken belief that if I could just do enough, provide enough, produce enough, be GOOD enough, that I would matter, be of value. That I would feel seen and heard.

Rubbish.

Let me rephrase that. "Rubbish," she said, with great love and compassion for herself.

My own body finally said "Enough!" in 2009, as it manifested a severe anxiety disorder on my return to Kansas City after working and living in London for four years. You might want to disagree, saying the disorder was in my mind, not my body. Ahhh, but science has shown it's all connected.

My anxiety disorder was actually my body's manifestation of held trauma accumulated over my lifetime. To make a long story short, through six and a half years of Somatic Experiencing trauma recovery therapy, my body was able to, very slowly, release that trapped trauma energy and begin to heal.

It is said that your biography becomes your biology. Intriguing thought. I have found this to be true.

About the title: Go Slow and Prosper. How did this new way of thinking come about in my life? First and foremost, it showed up in therapy. Somatic Experiencing actually re-patterns the parasympathetic nervous system, creating new neural pathways over time. The key is that this must be done very slowly, through baby steps, because the nervous system doesn't particularly like change.

During my therapy sessions, Candy (my therapist), repeatedly reminded me to go slow:

  • Slow down
  • Let's take this slower
  • We have all the time we need
  • Baby steps
  • Ok, let's stop here and see what happens
  • Just see what happens
  • This will take some time
  • It's really important to go slow
  • Don't try to rush it
  • When you go slow, big shifts can happen
  • You've worked really hard today, make sure to go slow
  • Your body needs lots of rest

She was right. Totally right. It was hard for me to go slow; I wanted the quick fix. Unfortunately, there wasn't one for me, given the nature (length, depth, breadth over time) of my trauma. Over the years I would begin to cognitively understand and physically assimilate the truth, that for me, going slow helped protect me from overwhelm and re-traumatization.

Living in Doha in 2012, this awareness out pictured in my painting "go slow". It remains a constant loving reminder to this day.

It also allowed me to finally understand these truths: That I matter. I'm important. I'm good. I can be seen. There is more than enough for me. These may seem insignificant to some; for me, they were and are life altering.

Ok, so I choose to go slow, to limit the commitments and activities in my life, to allow more time to rest and renew. To be more mindful, in the moment. To settle and calm myself. With great love.

My decision to leave the well paid world of healthcare informatics consulting and begin a creative business factored in this awareness of going slow. As well as the awareness that I did not have to work long hours to be successful. I knew and I know this in my body. In my very being.

I set and continue to honor the intention that I am successful, living abundantly through nourishing the world with what nourishes me. I envision deposits into my Abundance Art checking account. I see my savings grow. I imagine how good it will feel to have more than enough to live comfortably, continue to travel the world, and be a good steward of my blessings. The very name of my business proclaims that abundance. I believe it. I receive it.

By the way, the phrase starving artist does not belong in my vocabulary. I'm following a path, laid divinely before me, unlimited in possibility, not limited by fear or feelings of not enough. Not anymore.

I go slowly and I prosper. Feels good. Feels great.

I've worked all morning. Go slow…

Time for the weekend to start.

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A Bit of Heaven in 2011

With all the reminiscing about Costa Rica this week, it came to me that I want to share the year 2011 with you. A unique year, mostly a personal sabbatical to more fully immerse myself in my trauma recovery and explore my creative side. And travel. Oh boy, and travel. Other things happened in my life that year, such that each month developed its own character. Having begun the year painting, by year's end I had decided to paint a mandala filled with mandalas, one for each month.

It's helpful to know that, back in 2009, when my world was crashing around me, I came up with an acknowledgement and intention:

  • Not so fine in 2009.
  • Alive again in 2010.
  • A bit of heaven in 2011.

The years 2009 and 2010 are stories for another time... suffice to say there was a LOT of darkness, fear, and anxiety in my life, and by late summer of 2010 I realized I really needed to step away from work to dedicate time to healing. I was blessed to have enough savings to do so. And I had begun working weekly that year with a therapist who specialized in anxiety disorders, which, in my case, turned out to be the result of very early life and pervasive developmental trauma. Which was triggered by my return to the US in July 2009 after living and working in London for four years. Welcome home...not!

The hopeful bit here is that my therapist was certified in and practiced Somatic Experiencing methodology, which actually retrains the nervous system away from old patterns into new healthy patterns. With twenty years of experience behind her, she was exactly what I needed.

And so the year 2011 began:

 January

January

January brought a silent retreat, my first experience with process painting (I'll write about this some day), a trip with friend Linda to visit friend Jeanette who lived north of Chicago, where I had my first walk ever across a frozen lake. We spent a day in Chicago, the city of my birth, having lunch with my aunt and uncle, popping over to Navy Pier and Millennium Park, with Lake Michigan ever in view. We also spent a bit of time on the Magnificent Mile, and took the El back to near my uncle's home, where our car was parked. My friends indulged me by stopping in at the corner tavern for a beer. This was the area of my roots, where my parents grew up, met, fell in love, married, started a family.

As always, I felt the energy of the city.

 February

February

February was spent in Costa Rica, which you can read about here.

 March

March

In March, I visited my stepdaughter Annie in Phoenix. We took a side trip up to the Grand Canyon, which I'd never seen  in person. I loved learning about the geological history of the place. Imagine the impact of a trickle of water that became a river that created this grand canyon, With its now (for me) identifiable layer upon layer of sediment turned stone.

I took some time on my own, hiking down to a spot where I sat and soaked up the beauty of this immense space. I'd brought my journal and water color pencils and lingered, capturing my experience as best as I could.

I recall the silence, pure silence. The sun on my face, the stunning beauty of my surroundings.

God is good, nature is incredible.

 April

April

April. Oh, April! I could write a book about you! From the US to London to Jordan to Israel back to Jordan back to London (on the day of Will and Kate's wedding!) then back to the US, this was the trip of trips. I actually created a spreadsheet to help me pack, because:

  • I was visiting in London before and after my other travels, and it was forecasted to be cold. 
  • I was trekking in Jordan for a week - to Petra - and I had a standard trekking "kit" that had to fit in a certain camping bag and backpack/rucksack. I would leave my large suitcase in London.
  • I was touring in Israel for 9 days immediately after the trek, and the clothes for that time also had to fit in my camping bag. Thankfully the weather in Israel at that time of year is typically mild, and I would also be able to wear some of my trekking clothes. After I thoroughly laundered them.

There's so much to share about this trip that I won't even try right now. Except to say that on the very last morning in Jordan, I developed traveler's sickness. Not too bad at first, and I was able to go with my bestie Anjana that evening into London and to Buckingham Palace. There were hundreds of people around, still celebrating the wedding festivities, and the mood was so happy and light. I keep London newspapers from that day as keepsakes.

Unfortunately, by the day of my return to the US, I felt so sick that I could barely move. My heart goes out to ANYONE who has ever had to travel ill. At the stopover in Chicago I was able to buy Pepto Bismal and Dramamine, which eased my discomfort just enough for the last leg home. Some days later I began to feel better. 

Just in time to succumb to severe reverse culture shock.

 May

May

I spent most of the month of May reeling from the reverse culture shock, thankful to return to weekly trauma recovery therapy. Devoid of energy, I filled the pool in my backyard, blew up my raft, and floated the time away, easing slowly back into the reality of being back in the US.

Originally, when I started my sabbatical, I thought I would give myself six months, Somewhere in April I released that expectation. I was glad I did, because the end of May brought an unexpected and significant change. My father, married now for almost eighteen years to his second wife (my mother having died in 1991), had to separate from her due to health issues they each suffered, leaving them unable to care for each other. Just like that my in-town siblings and I became responsible for him and his many needs.

Short story - a major adjustment all around, with temporary accomodations for Dad at my sister's house.  

 June

June

Early in the year, I had talked with my younger sister Maureen about what she wanted to do for her 50th birthday. Turned out that we both had the same thing in mind: an Alaskan cruise with all six sisters. And since she lived near Seattle, WA, it was fairly uncomplicated to arrange. And so, in early June, Kathleen, MarySue, myself, Maureen, Terez and Laura all gathered at Maureen's and we celebrated her birthday in style.

On a side note, Maureen had recently recovered from her last of many reconstructive surgeries after removal of an acoustic neuroma in 2006. She lived with chronic tinnitus, dis-equilibrium, left sided deafness, left eyelid and facial paralysis (partially corrected with the reconstructive surgeries). We hoped this would be a celebration also of her healing. But while the "outside" was sorted, her emotional and mental well being suffered, neglected. We would learn more about this on the cruise.

Leaving Terez and Laura in Seattle, the rest of us boarded the ship and enjoyed each other's company and the amenities and outstanding natural beauty of the cruise. Kathleen and I experienced sea sickness, and her skin color was actually almost green before she gave in and used medicine. Curiously, Maureen did not suffer from it... we joked that her dis-equilibrium countered the rolling of the ship.

We chose various excursions, during which  Maureen and I watched a sperm whale dive out of and back into the water, an maneuver called breaching. Later, on another excursion, Kathleen and I would be delighted watching killer whales breach again and again.

The month ended with me back home, deeply concerned for my beloved sister Maureen, wondering what I could do to help her. As well as continuing in my own healing journey and helping find Dad a permanent place to live.

 July

July

July - wow, how do I explain this?

Easy part first. Thunderstorms - my very favorite weather.

Hard part second. I had been referred for adjunctive therapy with a very qualified local hypnotherapist (note the inclusion of the word therapist, so not just a hypnotist). In my first session I had the most unique experience of my life. Enough said. For now. In two subsequent sessions, we made what we agreed was great progress, even doing what is called breath work.

What I didn't understand at the time is that it was actually way too much way too soon.

 August

August

I spent the month of August mostly in shock, severe depression and anxiety, longing to be back in London where I had been so happy. And also in therapy, often twice a week. My Somatic Experiencing therapist had been on holiday while I was seeing the hypnotherapist, and when she learned that we'd done breath work, she explained that my nervous system was not ready for it.

The end result was actually a re-traumatization. Well, shit...

 September

September

September would bring a much needed respite. My friend Sheila (from our Costa Rican adventure), invited me to visit her in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We timed the trip for peak foliage. However, due to the weather conditions there, the color green still predominated. On the bright side, she had a house on Lake Winnipesaukee, and we spent several lovely days and nights there. It was warm enough to lie out in the sun and swim in the crystal clear COLD water - so refreshing for my body and soul. One evening we sat out, watching the sunset, lingering as the sky turned more beautiful by the moment, reflecting perfectly in the still water. 

We also traveled into Vermont and up into Maine so I could have my first Maine lobster (actually two firsts - Maine, and lobster). Check that off my list of things to do. 

 October

October

October found me on retreat again at Shantivanum (Sanskrit for Forest of Peace). Beautiful wooded farmland, rolling hills, regular prayer and meditation times and homemade vegetarian fare deeply nourished both my body and my soul. I painted, journaled, slept, hiked, slept, slept, slept. 

And decided I was ready to go back to work.

 November

November

I have always been blessed in my work life, essentially being recruited at every turning point into something different that would add to the foundation laid by previous job experiences. And so in November, I began contracting with a consulting firm, traveling most weeks to the client site. Figuring by this time that I would not be moving back to London in the foreseeable future, I adopted a sweet ten year old black cat named Shadow. Shy and affectionate at the same time, she was good company to have around when I was home, and she managed ok by herself when I wasn't.

That's the great thing about cats.

 December

December

December, still traveling, getting worn out, developing bronchitis. I was so determined to have a Christmas tree, that when I bought one, I also bought a new Christmas tree stand, and asked the guys to place the tree in the stand for me. I hauled it like that into my house, and filled the stand with water. That might have been the year that the only decorations on the tree were the lights. It was still beautiful, and it smelled so good. The year ended with me on a two week holiday, thankful that as a contractor I was not limited by the company's vacation policy.

It also ended with me learning that I would likely be moving to the Middle East in a few months for a one year contract.

Surprise!

And so, having pre-proclaimed "A Bit of Heaven in 2011" and definitely having experienced lots of bits of heaven, I also encountered a good number of hellish experiences. But isn't life like that sometimes? We may be doing fine and suddenly without warning be knocked sideways with unexpected news, illness, etc. By the same token, we may experience unexpected grace, blessings, growth.

When all was said and done, 2011 certainly went down as one of the most remarkable years of my life.

I learned much, I suffered much, I learned more, I healed some more.

And I got ready for 2012.

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Pura Vida!

In 2011,  I spent the month of February in the beautiful country of Costa Rica. My first three weeks dedicated to volunteering and cultural immersion in and near Cartago, I spent the final week with my roomie and new friend Sheila exploring the rest of the country.

I learned several things right off the bat:

  • The country's cultural motto is "Pura Vida!"-  literally "pure life!" and the people are very proud to proclaim this.
  • While a Spanish speaking country, the way they respond to being thanked is not the traditional Mexican phrase "de nada" - meaning "it's nothing." Rather, they say "con mucho gusto" - meaning "with great pleasure." They really take pride in this as well, as it lifts up the dialogue between people to a higher, more respectful, purer communication.
  • The country does not have an army. They choose peace, even being right next to other countries with drug war lords and rebel activity.
  • Last and certainly not least… drum roll… the water in the entire country is safe to drink! Woo hoo! How wonderful to not have to worry about this.

Oh yes, and one other thing I found quite curious. Costa Rica does not use traditional address naming conventions. Instead, they describe where a building is in relationship to other buildings or landmarks. For example, A Chamber of Tourism has the address Costado Este de la Municipalidad de Cartago, altos de Tienda Arenas. Translated, it becomes Costado East of the Municipality of Cartago, highs of Tienda Arenas. You just have to know the name of where you're going and the SatNav will take it from there. A picture being worth a thousand words, here's the address of where I was located:

I volunteered through Cross Cultural Solutions. CCS's model is to establish a local office in the country, and have that group interface with the organizations in need of assistance. Plus, they place an emphasis not just on volunteering, but cultural immersion as well, so volunteers come away with a valuable understanding of the country, its history, its language, social norms and culture. Very well organized, providing room and board in a "Home Base" safe location, and I highly recommend them. In fact, I would go on to volunteer with them for six weeks in India (their very first location) two years later.

Anyway, during my first three weeks, (weekdays), we spent the mornings at our volunteer assignments, the afternoon with free time and/or a cultural immersion activity (Spanish lessons, salsa dancing lessons, outings to natural landmarks and into San Jose, etc), evenings relaxing and/or preparing activities for our assignment the next day. 

Weekends were filled with trips to the west coast, excursions in the rain forest, relaxation at a nearby resort. Adventures included zip-lining, parasailing, and rappelling. Take a peek at where we rappelled:

Yep. We kept busy. We had fun. We worked hard. And we grew in relationship. With each other, with the local staff, and with those at our assignments.

I was assigned to help at a child day care center. From little bitty babies to 5 year olds, age appropriate programs along with eating times and play times gave structure to the morning. I helped out wherever I was needed, which might mean clamoring with the older kids through elaborate playground sets (oh my aching back!), or helping one of the teachers with class, or feeding and holding babies and younger kids. Often I would prepare a game or craft activity to fill free time. 

The first week I was a fish out of water. Unaccustomed to being around little ones, my energy quickly waned. Knowing very little Spanish, I felt inadequate. I realized how wise it was that we only volunteered half a day. No way I would have made a whole day.

The second week, I had picked up some Spanish and communicated a bit better with both the kids (¡siéntate! - sit down!) and the staff (¿Cómo puedo ayudar? - how can I help?). I learned the kids names, and they recognized me, waving with a smile, running up to hug me. I became proficient at feeding several little ones at the same time, interacting with them and making it fun. Left to their own devices they would linger, and there was a time table to be kept!

The third week, I felt at home, connected with both the kids and the staff. I took photos and videos and put them on a cd, and the kids got to watch themselves playing. They loved it. I cried the day I left, sad for me as I would miss them, sad also that the kids had to say good-bye to volunteers over and over again.

As is the tradition with CCS in Cartago, volunteers are invited to paint a message on the Home Base wall, along with a stamp of our hand. Rather than place the palm of my hand on the wall, I decided to place both hands together in the Namaste position and stamp that on the wall. Out from that grew whimsical leaves and vines and colorful flowers that reflected my experience of my time there.

In the last week, Sheila and I headed to the east coast, which, though officially Caribbean, tends to be more stormy and rainy. This did not dampen our spirits, and we enjoyed body surfing in six foot waves. Heading back west, we spent a few days near Arenal Fortuna, the active volcano, and experienced a local naturally hot (as in heated by the volcano) water park. Even the water in the pool at our hotel was hot… little did I know that I was experiencing a foretaste of middle east waters.

  Arenal Volcano, as seen from our hotel room

Arenal Volcano, as seen from our hotel room

Wrapping up our last night in San Jose, we headed north to the USA the following morning, me in first class, Sheila back in economy. (I had originally booked for three weeks, then extended to the fourth. And lo and behold a first class ticket was not much more than what I'd have to pay simply to change my travel date. Cool!). 

An amazing month behind me, our flight not yet taking off, I reflected on my blessings. Once in the air, I sent one of my five (they were quite small) mimosas back to Sheila, and took a photo of my breakfast to show her later. I ate every last bite. The movie The King's Speech was played for us. I felt like the luckiest woman on earth.

I hold the  the team at CCS and teachers (I still follow some of them on Facebook) of Shaday school in my heart and thoughts. And the kids, realizing the most of them have grown to school age, new ones taking their place. Peace and Pure Vida to you all. 

After my return home, my experience in Costa Rica would find expression in my painting "Costa Rica Beach" which hangs beautifully framed where I can see it in my kitchen, drawing me and others into its energy and beauty. It's a composite of several east coast experiences: one a three hour walk along the beach, two, the waves crashing against the rocks another day, and three the amazing sky on yet another day. This painting is my constant reminder of my time in that beautiful country., and brings me joy every time I look at it.

 Costa Rica Beach

Costa Rica Beach

Your can find prints and notecards of this beautiful painting for sale on my website store.

And consider international volunteering as a way to get out and explore other cultures. Good for your soul, good for the world.

Pura Vida!

 

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go slow: woman on a journey

Since July 2010, I have been drawing mandalas as a way to express my inner emotions. This has been in the context of ongoing trauma recovery therapy and healing and is explained in more detail here. Today, I share my experiences and photos of the various exhibits, because this is part of fulfilling my mission and vision to nourish the world with what nourishes me. 

An important concept to understand about the exhibit is that the title - "go slow: woman on a journey" is also meant to guide the visitor's approach to the exhibit. Go slow. (Ok, slowly is grammatically correct, but slow it is, because that's what came from my heart). This exhibit is a journey through time and a journey into my story. And if you go slow enough, it can be a journey into your story. For that reason, it is important to design a journey like path rather than a straight line of mandalas. The very act of taking steps around the corner to see what's next evokes reflection and journey-making.

My first exhibit was part of the KC Crossroads First Friday in June 2015 - one year to the date I registered my new business with the state of Kansas - and contained 12 mandalas mounted on tall angled white boards. I promoted the event with Facebook posts and rack cards distributed to local businesses. The exhibit was on the fourth floor of a historic building, and people coming in were saying that they were told, on the way up, by people on the way down, to keep going, that it was worth it. Later, I was told repeatedly by friends and visitors they were really affected by the images and the associated commentary. One man in particular told me that "Release" (below) touched his heart in a way it had not been touched in a long time. He ended up over time ordering two print reproductions, proclaiming on receipt of them that they looked just like he remembered and they still had the power to touch his heart. How gratifying! How very very gratifying. I even played with the notion that I am worth climbing four flights of stairs. Wow.

Release

My second exhibit was June 14th through July 9th 2016 at Images Art Gallery, where I am a member, as part of my being a featured artist for the month. This meant that my artwork displayed prominently at the front of the gallery. My paintings, prints and notecards filled the wall and window space, and "go slow: woman on a journey" occupied free standing space adjacent to that. Discovery and Uncovery were mounted on black angled grid panels, and Recovery on additional wall space. I was able to double the number of mandalas included in the exhibit from the previous year, which was a real blessing. I promoted the exhibit primarily through my Abundance Art Instagram and Facebook accounts and purchasing posts on HerLife Magazine. As well, this year I provided two new components: a printed introduction to the exhibit, as well as a means for visitors to order prints at the gallery. People took advantage of both. I also made myself present on several occasions to talk with visitors. One woman told me she totally "got it" and went on to say that she too was a trauma survivor. I think it felt good for both of us to be understood and be reminded that we are not alone.

From July 12th through July 22th, my third exhibit, really a continuation of the second, showed at Images Art Gallery. I very much appreciated the board's approval for this unprecedented extension, our hope being that it would bring additional visibility to the gallery, The exhibit was redesigned and mounted entirely on angled black grid panels. The journey through Discovery, Uncovery and Recovery involves walking back and forth around the panels, in a style similar to 2015.

As part of promoting this exhibit I purchased an eblast ad from HerLife Magazine, and as a member of InterUrbanArtHouse I submitted a feature for inclusion in their July newsletter. 

Unfortunately, long story short, the exhibit had to be taken down urgently due to ceiling leak issues. Like life, our journeys don't go how we plan them. Thankfully no damaged occurred, and the mandalas and panels are safely packaged and stored for their next outing. In the meantime, you can still visit the exhibit here on my website.

So that's the story of the exhibit that grew from pain and hope come together, sparked by an inspired title long before it became a reality, and mixed with lots of love and support and healing. May each of you find inspiration and encouragement for your own life journeys.

How curious and delightful that my mandala exhibit began on a tiled floor mandala.

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Introducing Maitri

Hello world!

Today I introduce you to Maitri. She's my exotically beautiful white cat with a lingering hint of blue in one eye, the other golden. I call her my Zen kitty; in fact, in Sanskrit, her name means unconditional loving kindness, and that really fits her. Calm, curious, friendly, patient, mellow (mostly), very much living in the moment. Intentional and determined, with a plush coat of fur made for petting… when she's in the mood. People not particularly fond of cats like her. People fond of cats love her. She has just now started purring at the age of three… what a pleasant discovery!

That said, she's deaf, and often her primitive ancestry takes over her inner quiet with a full range of roaring meows and antics that entertain and sometimes startle, especially in the night. She makes me laugh out loud. Every day.

I adopted her one week after I adopted Lucy, my young black and white beauty. This was in Doha, Qatar, 2012. I had Lucy at the vet for her one week post adoption check up, and I stood near a cage housing kittens for adoption. All of a sudden the door latch came undone, and this adorable white kitten started falling out. Quickly catching her, I looked into her one blue eye and one hazel eye, fell instantly in love,  and said "Oh, you're coming home with me, and your name is Maitri."

Maitri baby kitty.png

Within a few days, I suspected she was deaf, something the vet would confirm at the next visit. As I reflected my disappointment out loud that she would never hear me call her name, the vet's tongue in cheek comment "Oh she'll be able to read lips" cheered me a bit. Still, my sense of loss lingered, so I decided to journal it, and this is what emerged:

I adopted a kitty - named Maitri,

A sweet little white ball of fur.

Unconditional loving kindness

Is what I had in mind for her.

Her eyes, one blue and one hazel

Search my eyes and connect, so I think.

With deep concentration she watches,

Then pokes mine before I can blink.

I'm sad as I think of her deafness…

She'll never know to come when I call.

Yet now as I cry in my grief-ness

She appears, loving kindness and all.

Her playfulness, goofiness delight me;

It's so good to laugh out loud.

Her softness and tiny-ness quiet me;

She's Maitri, loving kindness avowed.

Now, back in Kansas City, we share our home with Kiki, a sleek black indoor/outdoor kitty, who came to live with us in spring of 2014. Because Maitri is deaf, it's not safe for her to be out and about on her own. But she clearly communicates her desire to do so by standing at the door and offering anything from persistent plaintive mews to proclaiming her loud ME-OUTs. Our compromise?  Harness and leash. A longer leash for the backyard, a shorter one for our walks. Yes. For our walks. It's really quite fascinating to watch her explore her world, remembering that she cannot hear the birds, or the kids playing, or (yikes!) the cars. She and Kiki have made names for themselves in the neighborhood, and I'm known as the lady who walks her cats: Maitri on a leash, Kiki walking beside… or behind… or in front… or not at all. And Lucy? Inside, please and thank you.

Maitri  has the best stories to tell, and she is in the process of writing her memweowr. Seriously. OK, it's really me. Using her character as first person. But this is the only time I'll say it.

In her Maitri's Memweowr Instagram account, she tells tales of her life and that of her human and catpanions. She teaches mindfulness and stillness, provides insightful observations, writes poems, and is featured, along with Lucy and Kiki in short videos. Her following is growing, which is cool, because she wants to spread her unconditional loving kindness - and her quirkiness - all over the world.

Every Instagram post is also shared to her Facebook Fan Club page, and she's got YouTube on her mind for the future. She just needs to figure out the best way to get there and stay there. She might decide to ask another human for help. 

Maitri Facebook.png

Oh, and another thing: mosaics. Maitri Mosaics. This kitty has a tendency to knock things over for fun. In my undecorated Doha flat I gave her, among other toys, a bowl and plastic balls to play with and we brought those back to KC. So, I didn't think twice when unpacking decorative items from my year-away storage.

Her curiosity and resourcefulness stunned me.

I learned the hard way, too late to save the Moroccan vase and the Norwegian glass plate featuring a beautiful abstract of green and red Aurora Borealis against a sky of cobalt blue (my 50th birthday present being a trip to see the northern  lights in person - and I did!). Plus some other pieces here and there. Finally I discovered Quakehold, museum putty designed to protect fine furnishings against the rumblings of earthquakes. Or in my case, cat-quakes. If you come to my home, you will see globs of the stuff securing photo frames, candle holders, knick knacks, and anything else Maitri-worthy. Including the mosaic plate I made out of the pieces of my Norwegian plate. There are more Maitri Mosaics to come, as I've kept the bits and pieces along the way. Plus I dropped a dish one day... 

Maitri Mosaic.jpg

So. That's Maitri, unconditional loving kindness. And quirkiness and fun. But don't take my word for it. She likes you already and invites you to like her back, and follow her life journey and reflections on Instagram or Facebook. No obligation, of course, because her love and kindness are unconditional.

Is she cool or what?

Me-out

Maitri/Annette

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