Why Trees Don’t Have Nervous Breakdowns

Lakescape silhouette

So much of the wealth of the world we owe to trees.

From crib to casket, they cradle us,

We build our homes from their bones.

Trees fabricate the very air we breathe.

They soothe our weary souls,

and nourish us with fruit and seed

conjured from water, light, and stone.

They build the soil.

They temper the winds and rain.

They buffer our excess.

If trees accomplish all these things, and still sleep the winter through,

What makes us think the world will stop if we leave our desks for a day or two?

 

 

Did you enjoy this post? Anne

The Magic in the Mundane

“The maker is too close to his product. He sees in his methods only the ordinary. He does not realize that the world at large might marvel at those methods, and that facts which seem commonplace to him might give him vast distinction.”  – Claude Hopkins

“To see the world in a grain of sand, and Heaven in a wild flower…” – William Blake

girl with magical expression

What greater wealth than the ability to see the magic in the mundane?

Claude Hopkins, one of the great advertising whizzes of the early 20th century, did this in spades. Hopkins’ campaigns regularly turned little-known brands – like Quaker Oats,  Goodyear Tires, and Pepsodent – into household names, making millions in the process. How? Very often, by calling attention to things that others considered too ordinary to point out.

Poets and artists turn everyday experiences into another kind of wealth, food for mind and spirit.

And the greatest alchemists of all are most often overlooked – because they’re underfoot. Children are pure potential, and capable of nearly anything (as long as no one tells them they can’t.)

Look at a snowflake, or a sprouting seed, or a newborn baby. Are these things not as magical as they are mundane?

What would happen to your life if you began to honor the magic that exists in it?

Did you enjoy this post? Anne

The Songbird’s Message

I was dabbling about in the kitchen tonight, when I suddenly thought of a friend. The word “sing” came to me, as it did when we first met two weeks ago. Then, a few moments later, the impression of a song bird.

Nightingale singing
“Nightingale,” watercolor on paper. Collection Anne Michelsen.  

It reminded me of this lovely poem by Victor Hugo:

Be like the bird that, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her — and sings — knowing she hath wings.

​I got the feeling that the ‘singing’ is metaphorical – whatever makes your heart sing, do it and don’t hold back, even if it seems foolish or impossible. (Although if you want to sing while doing it, so much the better!)

This time of year some of the birds are already starting to stake out their territories in the woods – and singing to attract a mate.

If this resonates with you at any level, think about what you would like to manifest in your life…

…and sing your heart out. If your wings aren’t fully developed yet, your song will help them grow!

Did you enjoy this post? Anne

Messenger Bee

A magical thing happened in the studio yesterday. And it had nothing to do with paint.

I was just wetting the crease of a folded piece of watercolor paper in preparation for tearing it in half, when I glanced down and saw something crawling across the studio floor. At first I thought it was a humongous spider, but on closer inspection, it turned out to be…

A bee!

A honeybee, I think. Of all the odd things to show up in January, in the middle of a big old building in the U.P. of Michgan.

I stooped down and set my finger down in front of her. She climbed on readily.

bee on finger

Up close, I could see each joint of her six legs, shiny black like her oval eyes. Two sets of transparent wings jutted sleekly from her fuzzy thorax. Her segmented abdomen throbbed rhythmically as she paused, tasting my skin, then ceased as she continued her slow march along my finger. She looked weary, emaciated.

I suddenly needed reassurance that I could get her off if need be, so I placed the bristle end of my Chinese brush in her path.  It was still wet. I thought she might not like that, but she climbed on obligingly. Then, delicately, she lowered her proboscis to the wet bristles and began to drink.

fuzzy bee photo
This photo is as fuzzy as the bee herself, but you should be able to make out my little bee on the brush bristles.

 

Who knows how long it had been since she had had water? She drank and drank, and I began to wonder if she might be hungry, too. I carried her slowly to the kitchen, fetched a chopstick from the drawer and extracted a drop of honey from the jar on the shelf. Yes, she was hungry. She ate purposefully.

While she ate and drank, I tried to capture her image. My phone camera rebelled against focusing on such a small object, but alas, the other camera’s battery was dead. I shifted the brush to my left hand and drew a series of quick sketches from multiple angles.

bee sketches

As I drew, I realized that this bee brought the answer to a question I had recently sent out to the universe. In fact, she was the answer!

I am working on the idea of creating a series of seven power animal paintings, one for each of the seven major chakras, or body/mind energy centers. The animals for some of the chakras came to me right away. Others are taking their sweet time to show themselves. Not surprisingly, I’d been struggling with finding an animal to represent the third chakra, the Power Center. This is an area I’ve definitely had issues with for a long time – lifetimes – and which I’ve recently started working on unblocking. In fact, that very morning I had spent 40 minutes in a power center-clearing exercise before getting to work…

As I drew my little friend, I suddenly realized – of course! – that the bee’s yellow color, her confidence and her disciplined devotion to purpose are all perfectly suited to represent 3rd chakra energy.  She had come to volunteer as the Power Center animal for my painting. 🙂

When the bee had had her fill she retreated to the end of the bristles and washed her face and legs. Wanting to get back to my task, I set her, brush and all, amongst the leaves of my plant.

bee on plant

A single bee in the middle of winter is not likely to live long. I figured she would probably never fly again, but she might enjoy feeling living leaves under her little feet.

I finished halving the sheet, but instead of starting the painting I’m planning to use it for, I was drawn again to check on the bee. I watched her struggle up a slippery leaf. She slipped back, regained her footing, then slipped again, tumbling to the windowsill below.

bee on windowsill

Once again, I placed my finger in front of her and she climbed on. She stayed there a while, gathering her strength…

Then, in a moment, she launched into flight.

Bee in flight sketch

My bee circled once about my head, then, suddenly, she was gone. But what a gift she had brought!

And I wonder…how many other spirit messengers have come into my life, and I never knew it, because I didn’t take the time to listen?

Did you enjoy this post? Anne

Second Chances (Dancing Horses)

Dug this out of the attic the other day. It wasn’t finished. I’d shoved it into a portfolio one day several years back after filling in just the background, the horses’ eyes and nostrils, and the mane and tail on one of the animals (can you guess which?)

Three or four moves later, there it was in my hand again. Blank white horses, flat as paper. Waiting patiently for brush and pigment to quicken them to life…

3 White Horses watercolor painting

It wasn’t until a day or so after finally completing the piece that I realized how significant it was that I’d picked this piece, out of the couple dozen unfinished paintings I’d started and abandoned over the past fifteen years,  to finish first.

Fifteen years of unsettled living, punctuated with excruciating creative blocks. Stressful times, and fearful times. Fear of not stacking up. Fear of losing control if I let myself follow my dreams.

Is this time different? Am I deluding myself to think that now, after starting up and drying up countless many times, I’m finally ready to let that creative river that’s been dammed up inside me for so long run free?

I’m not going to think about that. Instead, I’m posting this painting.

Orange. The color of the sacral chakra. The creative center of body and mind.

Violet, for the crown chakra: spirit and soul.

Horses. My personal totem animal. Horses to carry me over obstacles. Wild horses, running free.

Here is the message I hope this painting brings to the world:

It’s not too late. Dig out your buried dreams. Dust them off, and mount them again. Don’t think about where they’re taking you. Just enjoy the ride. So what if you fall? You will have tasted the wind.  

Did you enjoy this post? Christie

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