Watching For Annette

I have done it again, quit a job before having another. This seems to be my way and I will not regret it. Balance may appear to be precarious. There are things I need to broach, to try and explain myself, and I’m struggling to reconstruct whether there is a beginning and a middle to this. I’ve been on a long journey and been silent from this page. Even I am still struggling to voice exactly where it is I’ve been.

So I will start with where I am now. I am standing on a cliff. It is an exhilarating view, from a long climb, and the air is so fresh that you can eat it. You can survive on it. The sky really does lead one to heaven. Behind the clouds roll and churn what you are glimpsing is not something that is replicated down on earth. So, the cliff, I am poised. I am breathing. My posture is good, I stand tall. It is not the quitting itself that means a thing. I am done now. It was something I gave my time to, to earn enough money to support myself. Something that I am very good at, but one that debilitated me with its teenager’s shifts and its teenager’s wage. What matters to me are the manifestations, inner and outward, of where we are going within ourselves.

Back to the cliff…

I told you about the perfect rock. I wore it looped through my belt when I was a teenager. The water in the lake had worn away the weak and unsubstantial to create a hole, and what surrounded that hole was the strength of the rock. What was left was perfection, its endurance and durability. I’ve fumbled, trying to express how necessary the holes are to bring what surrounds them into definition. That absence also creates presence.

I feel as if I have been living the hole of my own life, this long winter. Still in my Good Life, but living in the absence. Still my life but everything somehow opposite. Everything mirrored back. Living in the shadow that fell from last year’s happiness. I know I felt it coming, prescient is what I am. I knew it was coming, I held on to that attic by my fingernails until the very last moment. I knew that everything was going to change. And it did.

From outward appearances? No. I moved to another good place. I got something to work at in which I excel. Small dramas. For a blessing counter I was still in the Good Life. But inside of me it all changed. I started living in the minus column. Follow me here…I still had all the checks and balances in the plus column (the smooth gray stone around the hole), but I was now in the part of the rock that wasn’t there anymore. It wasn’t, I wasn’t. It felt as if a more real life was being lived inside of me, in that walk by myself through the dark, while my life on the top in my daylight living hours was but a reflection. Walking but now limping. Still saying thank you but through tears.

We all have a secret life. Sometimes secret from ourselves. Our secret life of dreams named and unnamed that we birth in our breast. We dream and we dream. We journey through a nighttime of interior wastelands. We tire, sometimes forgetting what we are doing and where we are going but then the dawn comes when these dreams break through the surface of our lives into the light of day. I felt the piercing loss of a love I was not giving. The loss of a love I was not receiving. Experienced the absent life. My secret life. An unlived life.

On the surface though, I kept going, but I felt paralyzed. My muse turned to mute, the hand at my throat my own. Watching and listening. Moving through this world but stumbling in the dark inside, wondering about the why of experiencing this opposite, this negation. Suffering through the loss of what was never in my hands, never made into a dream. It isn’t faith I’ve lost, it’s still here, up here with me on the cliff. Faith is what made me make the climb. But I let go of what I never had. This is what I know now. I let go of what doesn’t exist. I had to embrace the absence to let it go. Joy does not escape its grieving.


I was shocked to be back at Chapters again. Going back is something I don’t do. I don’t go back, to men or jobs. I liked it a lot when Eliza said, “It’s only going back if you’re looking back.” That helped. Previously I had impetuously quit last summer’s job and found myself with no income for quite a few weeks, hence the return to Chapters. But why was I repeating where I had already been? Then it was brought to my attention three times in one day why I was back in this bookstore. And then I got it. A synchronistic meeting in the bookstacks with a woman named Mange enlightened me. She told me that she had had it all twice. Twice. And lost it both times. And that now she knew why. Because she did not have gratitude. We both pulled amethysts from our pockets. In amazement we touched them gently together and raised them in a toast to each other. And aha! I knew why I was there again. For these encounters, for these teachers. For the gift of these people. “Until we find the lesson in the things that we perceive as obstacles, we will be forced to repeat them.” I began accepting the blessings embedded in the bleak.

But not just accepting them. I began embracing them with gratitude. As I walked towards the store I was making deals. I was saying my prayers. Teach me something, or let me be of service to someone, somehow. If I had to be there, then let’s get this thing done, so I could be finished and move on. My quota was two mindful, significant connections with people per shift, or I would jump off the Jacob Haldi Bridge. I started watching for the moment when my reason for working in a job that was too small for me was unmasked, and its greater purpose was revealed. Oh, how my prayers were answered! What bounty rushed towards my hungry heart.


The universe talks to me. Talks to me in words and signs and I am listening. I was given a Pathfinder. Let me spell it out for you, a P-A-T-H-F-I-N-D-E-R. Sure the universe has a sense of humour. It was a dogmobile that friend Janice used to shuttle hyper and upset dogs back and forth from the Pound. It doesn’t smell so good and it’s covered in dog hair. And just to make it more interesting it’s a standard and my technological skills end at the toaster. So there are things to do. Challenges I must rise to. Getting down the road isn’t going to be easy.

Goethe said it, “Until one is committed…” John Burroughs’s “Leap, and the net will appear,” is a rallying cry to faith. I believe that job was done and enough lessons learned. When I told Jonah I quit, my son sent me a note of cheer, “Go Mom, go! Leap and Annette will appear!” I am laughing now. Four times this week already women by the unlikely name Annette have appeared in my day. Thank you crazy wonderful Jonah! You have triggered a plethora of Annettes. And thank you my angels for sending me reminders that I am getting closer to my path again, on higher ground.


I have a friend. Her name is Dale and her moniker is The Lazy Wizard. When you conjure up a picture of Merlin think the opposite, of a gloriously feminine version of a wizard, this is Dale. Statuesque, long hair blowing about her face (even without a wind), and an invisible wand she waves to create fantastical creations. I told Dale that I was ready to take flight and she said, “You need wings. Come over and lay by the fire, we will put henna wings on your back.” Just the thought of that was enough for me. I savoured the deliciousness of wings to fortify my resolve. On Wednesday I walked over to survey my Pathfinder which sits in her driveway; waiting to be cleaned, waiting for me to learn how to drive it. I was accosted at the door by Jacy, daughter of Dale, like mother like daughter. Wielding her cake decorating tool filled with henna, filling the air with the smell of clove oil to darken the stain, I sat as Jacy drew a long stemmed rose up my spine. Attached to this on either side, two perfect wings unfold across my shoulder blades. I sat in a dream before the fire and didn’t leave until I had more; puzzle pieces. Two on one wrist. On the other arm three interlocking pieces and two pieces straying from the others.

They will fade, the pieces not the puzzle. The Pathfinder will become mine. I will claim it, drive it, travel new roads. The wings beneath my shirt are my secret strength. I cannot see them and will never know when they ever truly disappear. Annette is standing by, I jumped anyway (these wings have come in handy). I’m waiting for more signals from the control tower. Communications are coming faster now. Dr. Bill told me something that pilots say to one another…Runway behind and sky above are useless to a pilot.


It’s late, and the telling of this story has taken me far into the night. This is the first day of another new beginning. I’ve come to an understanding. I can feel the integration of my light and dark, loss and love, visible and invisible. I accept what is and what isn’t; the perfection of my life. The rain is thrumming on the porch roof outside my bedroom door. I have brought in lilacs. I will smell them as I lay in the dark. I will take the beauty of Rumi’s words into my consciousness and take them down, down, down where I don’t need a net, where I already know how to fly.


Always check your inner state with the lords of your heart.
Copper does not know it’s copper, until it is changing into gold.
Your loving does not know its majesty,
until it knows its helplessness.


Good Life

4 Responses to “Watching For Annette”

  1. Abby Palmer says:

    Diane – what a beautifully written piece – thoughtful and funny and wise. I especially love your imagery of the hole in the rock. A deftly imagined and unique way to describe your insights about living in the presence of ‘what isn’t’, rather than the strength of ‘what is’. And your wisdom to love both.

    You’re back! And you are truly a gem.


  2. Cylia says:

    Wow, Diane, you’re twanging my heartstrings again dear sister. Your imagery is so rich and full. You had me laughing too. You are a joy. See you soon I hope, waiting for that pathfinder to find its way to me in Vancouver, love and hugs, cyl

  3. Shirley says:

    This piece brings to mind a beautifully written thought I first heard several years ago. ‘when you take the first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe one of two things will happen… there will be something solid for you to stand upon – or, you will be taught how to fly.’

    You already have your wings – but you’ve known that for a long time, haven’t you.

    And yes, your imagery of of living in the presence of ‘what isn’t’, is profound. That’s what most of our lives is, isn’t it. I love your writings but find it takes me a long, long time to delve through each paragragh, trying to catch my breath.

    Thank you so much for putting so eloquently into words what most of us only feel – you help us all to see so clearly.


  4. Terry says:

    Wow Diane! I just cleared a bit (just a bit!) of my desk and found the URL for your blog. I’ve been reading and reading –I love it! I love your poetry. I love your writing. I love your thoughts…

    I notice that the last time you wrote it was still May –what’s up today?

    Did you know you inspired me to quit Chapters? After you left Chapters I did some figuring and discovered that with only TWO HOURS of teaching art classes I can make up the same (a bit more, actually) income as I made in four shifts at Chapters. Well, it wasn’t a big step from those figures to leaving Chapters. I advertised and filled the two classes within two days and gave my notice that week.
    Come see my new art school!
    Come have tea with me!
    Come celebrate freedom!

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