Cosmic Cowgirls is a worldwide tribe of creative beings exploring the mysteries of the universe together. We are creating a culture of intentional inquiry and creativity that transform lives into legends!
As a community we offer revolutionary education online, on-the-road and onsite at our studio space and gallery in Healdsburg, California as well as at our ranch, Terra Sophia in Mendocino County. We also gather together in Red Thread Circle monthly to connect, explore and tell our stories. We have an annual gathering in which we explore the themes and stories we are working with in our lives.
Founded in 2006, Cosmic Cowgirls, is a woman and girl owned LLC discovering new ways of working together to create sustainable models of business that honors who we are as creatives and moves from a place of the heart.
The studio will be open for visits 3 days a week starting in August. Feeling sparked by the coSmsos of our tribe, consider taking a class to see what it’s all about.
But who are we really?
We’re bad ass mystics. Wild artists. Rogue poets.
Priestessess gone wrong.
Guides to the unknown. Keepers of the gate.
Members of a girl gang.
Revolutionaries for lost causes.
Unreasonable lovers of this life.
We are Storytellers. Legend Makers.
We are Cosmic Cowgirls.
We are women who walk between the worlds.
With one foot in the stars and the other foot on the earth!
In the Cosmic Cowgirls community we know about stories. We know how stories run your life without you even knowing about it. We know how to pull stories out of us, intentionally, and put them on canvas where we use paint and words to transform them into stories that support and heal us – instead of running our lives into the muck. Stories are like stardust and we have no hesitation getting our hands dirty working with them.
But how do we know which stories need transforming? Which stories are helping us?
Which stories are true to us?
I’ve noticed when I’m in the middle of trying to figure out what story resonates with my heart they sometimes get hijacked by this odd critter in my brain: the Curmudgeon Storyteller.
It happens when I am musing on something requiring deep unraveling. My brain wants to walk through all the scenarios of how something might play out, be created, or simply might happen. This could be a book I am writing, an interaction with someone I don’t trust, a medical situation that is not lending itself to easy explanation, and so on. Usually it’s something that’s going to take time to unravel and I need to be patient which is never easy being the fire-brained individual I am.
Usually the context of this thing I am unraveling stays in my brain for longer then I like and when that happens, I tend to worry at it. Perhaps because I am worrying at it, the Curmudgeon Storyteller sneaks in. He, and yes the Curmudgeon for some reason feels like a he, starts changing the stories and undermining my perception of them.
He undermines my confidence in my intuition, my ability to sense what is on my path, or off my path. And it is this which makes it so hard to deal with him when he hijacks a story. Because he undermines my confidence in my intuition, I feel like I lose my connection to that deep knowing in my heart. And that is terrifying and scary and depression-making and downright sucks.
So here I am writing the Curmudgeon’s story exactly because of what he does with my stories and exactly because of what I know how to do with stories. I am pulling his story out of me and applying liberal amounts of transformative paint, glitter, chocolate, and magical words as needed to shift this story into a new more healthy way of being.
The key thread in this story of the Curmudgeon is recognizing how I worry at things. I worry at it because the pattern is resisting unraveling, or because there are others involved who are not doing their change work, or maybe its a story that just requires time to move through it. The reason a story sticks around is not important; what I do in response is what matters.
Worrying at a pattern like a dog with a bone is fine if that resonates, but I’m more of a cat and dog-bone behavior gets old real fast. Instead I get frustrated when it feels like a story is not responding. Frustration is a form of anger and fire energy. Anything, especially anger, that comes from fire energy can be transmuted into creative energy. I usually forget this in some sort of convenient way which then allows me to grump and wallow about in my frustration and annoyance.
Of course, the Curmudgeon eats up the frustration and uses it to power the hijacking of my story. Then on top of frustrated, I am depressed, unsure, and even more unhappy. Grrr.
What will change this story? Why do we worry at things?
For me, it comes back to this desire to want to DO something to fix it or change it. To make it right. So I ask, where does this desire to make it right come from? And there it is –the heart of the worrying exposed and raw….
It comes from an old story from my youth in which I was made to feel wrong for wanting to be an artist. That young self did not understand why her father was so angry at her over this and, not understanding, assumed she had done something terribly wrong that SHE needed to make right. (In truth he was angry at the world he had created for himself and not at her.)
The need to make something right is a deep seated urge inside of my heart where that wound lives. We all have those kinds of wounds.
It is in how we choose to respond to those urges,
needs, desires, and experiences
that changes how these stories run our lives.
How will I respond? Having exposed the secret pathway by which the Curmudgeon gains egress for his hijacking behavior, I know because of the work I do with intentional creativity, that every time I begin to worry at something to ask:
What is wanted here?
While there are going to be times I need to make something “right”, there are more likely going to be times I need to take a step back and instead look at how I am choosing to respond. It is when I ask the question of “what is wanted here” that I create what I like to call a “container for opportunity.” An opportunity to change the story and change my response to the story. And that is exactly how to kick that Curmudgeon right on out on his butt.
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Did you know that Annette hosts Paint Where You Are Sundays in the Cosmic Cowgirls Studio in Healdsburg once a month? The day includes one-on-one mentoring and art doctoring, demos of technique, red thread and more – in honor of when Sue Hoya Sellars ran these for us. If you have been painting with us, join us in community. September 20, 2015 is our next painting day!
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Annette Wagner, M.A., is a Visionary Artist, Color of Woman Intentional Creativity teacher (many thanks to Ms. Shiloh for her teachings!), and Art Doctor. She paints Contemporary Symbolism and watercolor sumi-e paintings. She works extensively with metaphor, symbol, and color. She is also the Managing Editor of the Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine and staff at Shiloh Sophia Studios.
Annette studied with American Master painter Sue Hoya Sellars and has a Masters in Women’s Spirituality from Sofia University. Her background includes over 25 years of hi-tech experience including 21 patents. She is owned by her dancing daughter, two cat beings, the man of her heart, and her Muse. You can view her artwork and read more about Annette at: www.annettewagnerart.com
The first thing I want you to know about Cosmic Cowgirl Eileen Nash is:
Why? Because she does! And after five minutes into our conversation for Round-Up it was clear that Eileen is someone for whom the Universe opens up like a cosmic rose. She answers the call of her creativity and trusts in her power to manifest in this world the beauty, expansiveness, and potential that she sees and lives.
When I asked the questions that always float to the surface in our conversations: How do you show up in community? How do you show up for yourself and your Muse? Eileen was an inspiration on both counts and in her words a “path shower” for us all.
“You get so much out of collaboration within our community: the sisterhood, support, new ideas, fellowship, talking for hours. There is something incredible that lies within community and wants to be brought out. Recently I’ve had the joyful experience to offer workshops with Cowgirls Elizabeth Gibbons, Kerry Laird, Deborah Carlson, and painted at the New Museum in NYC with Leslie Nolan.”
“Collaboration,” Eileen said, “is soulfood.”
Eileen is bringing her power to help people manifest transformation in their lives in her specialty fields of Corporate Workshops, Spa Retreats for Creative Wellness, and Education and Rejuvenation for Nursing Professionals all weaved with her particular style and sparkle of Intentional Creativity.
Her website, Paintbrush Cafe, is at this moment being re-born to serve as a larger container for outreach with her work and wisdom and we will be so excited to tell you more about that soon!
And of course we want to know about her process: how does Eileen show up for herself and her muse in order to maintain the level of positivity and inspiration that she brings to everything she does?
It all starts with Morning Cafe. A deep exploration of inner territory, and a practice she gives the same heart and determined inquiry to as she does with her clients. I was thrilled to hear, this process involves glitter. Lots of it – and asks the tantalizing question:
Can you bring yourself to the threshold of symbol
and transformation, let your Muse catch you and transform and create a new story, and then, completely let it go?
Eileen shared with us this beautiful and fleeting Ephemeral Art Practice:
“Last Fall, I visited a Shaman to obtain guidance to sort out a troubling decades-old pattern. My ‘homework’ was to spend 30 days and create 30 ephemeral images of concepts I wish to release, using colored sand.
The homework was the path to enable me to walk the talk long enough and ensure my release was true and would stick.
The nature of Native American sand paintings is existential. The Navajo word for sand paintings means “place where the gods come and go.” Sand paintings were made on the ground and then destroyed at the end of the ritual.
I didn’t have colored sand, but I did have plenty of glitter.
If you have spent any time
around the Cosmic Cowgirl community, you believe in the power of glitter.
The purpose of this practice is to focus your thoughts; crystallizing an idea down to a symbol. The practice of choosing a symbol makes the process simultaneously easier to execute, and somehow distills and contains the concept making it powerful for you.
For a week or perhaps longer, your revolving door issues will arise.
At some personal, undefinable point, the journey becomes less about what you want to get rid of and more about what you wish to bring in.
To begin with I started with a few steps:
Gather your favorite beverage(s) on a tray- my favorites- espresso, a mango-flavored probiotic, a mug of hot water, and 2 ounces of juice. Proceed to the studio.
Light a candle, especially fabulous in the dark before dawn.
Take several conscious deep breaths. Center into your body and bring in the thought “What am I ready to release?”
Open your mind to the download- typically, I get at least one word or idea. If there are more than one concept- take another breath, gaze into the candle flame and sense which idea needs your attention.
This is a time that is sacred and all yours. You’ll be very present in these single studio sessions, and begin to look forward to hopping out of bed and lighting your candle.
If you would like to know more about my journey into this process I’d be happy to share it with you!”
Eileen can be contacted at Paintbrush Cafeon Facebook or on her temporary blog at paintbrushcafe.com. Watch that space for more from the fabulous Eileen Nash!
I’d love to hear where you are on YOUR journey –
and share it on our Cowgirl Round-Up! Interested? Contact me at email@example.com.
With great heart,
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Danna works with creative women entrepreneurs to reveal and celebrate their authentic voice and unique vision through the specialized lens of the internet world. She co-creates with her beloveds so they have a vessel to connect effectively on-line and engage with their community in a way that feels right for them. Danna welcomes adventurous women ready to open to wonder and create with her in her vision-quest style of website design at InspiredEyeCreative.com.
It is with great joy and gratitude that I share this video with you of my very own Mama, Caron McCloud at the Color of Woman gathering earlier this year. What a rare treat to learn from her and hear her read about her own Muses.
Expectation is a pinnacle point of achievement. A place far beyond where I live – always. I know this pattern well. It was conditioned into me as a child through the teachings of a father who thought making money was the only answer to success. And when he couldn’t make that formula work for himself, he pushed it out onto his children. His legacy.
Expectation is insidious.
It sneaks in when I let down my guard. It is a constant battle I no longer have any desire to engage in. When I focus my energy on doing something, when I engage with that doing energy, expectation rolls right in and sets up shop. If you are going to do X, then this is how high you need to jump. Oh, and by the way, the bar is high enough you will never reach it. Ever.
When there is an expectation of being successful, making money, winning the game AND the expectation is set out of sync with what can actually be accomplished, then the trap is sprung. I am never good enough because I can never reach up high enough to to achieve that expectation. I fail and this so-called failure fulfills the prophecy of the story of expectation: I am “not be good enough” yet again.
Except every expectation I set that is out of sync
with what I can truly accomplish is false. How do I know this?
Ask yourself… What IS an expectation?
Maybe its a goal you set for yourself. Or an ideal of behavior you reach for. Or a project you want to accomplish. Expectations are tied to something you want or have to do. When I achieve X, I fulfill expectations others have of me, that I have of myself. This is good. I succeed, win, feel good because I have made everyone happy including myself. Yes?
When I was younger, an expectation was something always out of reach. Something I always strove for but never quite achieved. I drove myself to be something or do something and yet never truly felt satisfied when I got there. Because before I got there, when I began to even get a little bit close, I moved the expectation higher and further out of reach. If I can do X then I should be able to do Y.
In my twenties, I realized I how I allowed this pattern to run my life and strove to bring the pattern into balance. One of the ways I did this was to change how I approached life by applying the philosophy of doing my best. Whatever I was about to do, I told myself I would do my best whatever that might be for today.
Tomorrow I might learn something that meant I could have done today better and that’s ok. Doing my best is not about beating myself up when I learn something tomorrow telling me I could have done what I did today better. Doing my best is about doing my best right now, right here. What I learn tomorrow can be applied on another day.
Having a strong driver as part of my personality, this philosophy of doing my best worked very well for most of my life. It kept my expectations in balance. I learned to allow myself to achieve my expectations and to feel happy, successful and fulfilled when I reached them.
The last eight years of my life have centered around transformation. These days I am happy to say I am truly ME – a wild, crazy, beautiful, artist woman. I am happy. I am a working artist. I have fulfilled dreams I never even had on the expectation list. I am no longer the person who needs this philosophy of “best” to keep her expectations from running her life.
I didn’t really notice this fundamental shift until very recently. My critic, of course, noticed immediately. Over the last year, my critic has been using the expectation pattern to make me to feel guilty about everything from not pursuing every opportunity to “get my art out there” or to “make money” or to “run my own business” or to “teach workshops.”
Worse, my critic has been niggling at me about my work in the world. Continually asking me what my work in the world is and when will I start doing it. As a result, I’ve felt very unsettled and as if I am not doing something I should be doing. Instead of being satisfied with what I am doing in the world, with the creations coming into form under my pen and brush, with the relationships I have with those I love, the critic pokes at them again and again. Pushing for more, telling me there is more I should be doing.
Well, I woke up one morning recently and started pulling out the threads my critic has been weaving because I knew something needed untangling, unraveling and reweaving. It just did not feel right in my heart. I started by acknowledging where I am in my life TODAY.
I am in a loving happy relationship. I create every day. I share my art almost every day. I work in the Intentional Creativity movement. I am an Art Doctor for those moving through transformation via painting. I teach and paint and am a portal for spirit. I write my stories and lessons and share them. I am raising a wonderful daughter. I am surrounded by a tribe of folks who love and support me and kick my butt as needed.
Which raises a very interesting point. Why is it that when we reach a place in which our dreams are taken form, that we continue to sabotage ourselves with old patterns? Because this is exactly what my critic is attempting to do. Think about it….
What exactly “should I be doing?”
Where does my critic get off telling me
I should be doing anything at this point in my life?
My critic is trying to set expectations again. Critics are like that, they hang on to old patterns like 5 year olds with tattered baby blankets and broken toys. Its terrifying to let go of these old patterns for the critic because oh my if we don’t have that pattern what might happen? The world might change or implode or, or, something!
Which means it’s time to turn this pattern on edge and empty it out. To pull the plug on false expectations. To release the old pattern of doing my best. To take the tattered blanket away form the critic and bring in the Muse to counter the tears and wailing. To transform this entire idea of expectations and doing my best and instead ask something entirely different:
What is wanted?
This inquiry came to me from a very good friend. I can tell it’s powerful because of how hard it is for me to work with. I wrote the words down on paper and sent them to myself in email. Why? Because my critic keeps wanting to change the wording to: what needs to be done – which is a way for expectation to sneak back in. Critics are little sneaks sometimes when they do not want to let go of a pattern.
“What is wanted?” comes from a very different place than “what needs to be done?”
Think about it. The second inquiry assumes I can do something and that I will do something. The first inquiry assumes nothing. There is no doing associated with it at all. And therefore no expectation. Anything or nothing or something might happen. Whatever the answer is, is ok. Inquires are portals and this one has a beautiful expansiveness to it.
Asking what is wanted opens a doorway for Spirit to walk in. And so, once again, I embrace transformation. I release expectation. I let go of “doing my best” as my protection against the beast of expectations. I call in the Muse to counter the critic. I lean on trust. And I ask again,
What is wanted?
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Annette is the host of Paint Where You Are Sundays, an honoring and continuation of the studio painting days that our Art Matriarch, Sue Hoya Sellars ran when she was with us. If you have been painting with us in the Intentional Creativity movement or with Cosmic Cowgirls and want to join us for the day in the fabulous Cosmic Cowgirls Studio in Healdsburg, our next painting day is August 23rd.All the details are right here!
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Annette Wagner, M.A., is a Visionary Artist,Color of WomanIntentional Creativity teacher, and Art Doctor. She paints Contemporary Symbolism and watercolor sumi-e paintings. She works extensively with metaphor, symbol, and color. She is also the Managing Editor of the Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine and staff at Shiloh Sophia Studios.
Annette studied with American Master painter Sue Hoya Sellars and has a Masters in Women’s Spirituality from Sofia University. Her background includes over 25 years of hi-tech experience including 21 patents. She is owned by her dancing daughter, two cat beings, the man of her heart, and her Muse. You can view her artwork and read more about Annette at:www.annettewagnerart.com
Note from the Editor: This article was first published in 2013, but we love this one so much we are sharing with you again.
Conversations in Going Deeper
Musing on Legend
As often happens, percolating on an article, I encountered three quotes…and at their intersection – exactly what I would like to talk to you about today – which is this:
Your Legend is even more True than Your Life.
I’ll start explaining by hoisting up my first quote by Isabel Allende who began a 2007 Tales of Passion Ted talk by saying,“There’s a Jewish saying that I love. What is truer than truth? Answer: The story.”And she went on to say,“I’m a storyteller. I want to convey something that is truer than truth about our common humanity.”
If you are an avid reader or story yarn weaver this may seem obvious to you. Because it is the storied versions of our life that we hold and share as we walk into our future. The way the bowl and window shattered on impact when that one relationship fell apart. The way the acupuncturist said my body was like a colander with all the herbs pouring through the holes instead of nourishing me. How ultimately shaving my head as I entered the business world was a more true expression of grieving than words. We hold our history in storied images and weave our connections in the sharing.
In another Ted Talk (I went on a Ted run while cleaning my office in a vain search for my passport) I found my second quote from another storyteller, Amy Tan, who said:
“I believe in specifics, the specifics of story, and the past… I also believe that in thinking about things — luck, and fate, and coincidences and accidents, God’s will, and the synchrony of mysterious forces — I will come to some notion…of my role. Where I am in the universe, and did somebody intend for me to be that way, or is it just something I came up with? And I also can find that by imagining fully, and becoming what is imagined…that is how I find particles of truth, not the absolute truth, or the whole truth…all possibilities including those I never considered before. So, there are never complete answers. Or rather, if there is an answer, it is to remind myself that there is uncertainty in everything, and that is good, because then I will discover something new.”
The quote is a bit obtuse, but I’ll simply suggest that the thread to take is when we really wade into story, we let go of knowing how that story turns out. Like the storywalking terrain shown in the images above where a companion seeks help from the moon, but emotional power cannot help, and from the sun, but the intellect doesn’t have the answers, so finally he visits wisdom who from the dirt under his fingernails creates two creatures who know just what to do. Doesn’t that sound so much MORE like a part of your life where you searched and searched for the answers and they weren’t in the normal places and then finally you were blessed by the ‘dirt under your nails’ (the just living)? Yes. So true. So perhaps what Amy Tan is saying is that good stories allow for ambiguity, and crafting them with uncertainty can show us new meanings.
Cosmic Cowgirls holds “Legend” as our Holy Grail. The crafted story of how you ongoingly choose to tell the story of you. Which parts to accent and which to leave out? But there is one final important distinction – also my third quote, which I found in an article on The Reality of the Fairy Tale by Helen Pilinovsky:
“Thanks to the changes in the old tales made first by Victorian editors, and then by modern film–makers, “fairy tale endings” are now associated with unrealistic, inhuman flawlessness and situations in which everything, however improbably, goes right…The original purpose of folk stories was not only to entertain but to teach: to show listeners that they were not alone, to communicate societal attitudes towards topics deemed unspeakable in open society, and to present possible solutions through the metaphor of magic.”
And that brings it all together – Stories of ourselves, our “Legend” allow us to find the autobiographical thread of truth. To explore the ambiguity and open to larger truths and meaning. And when done with full permission to include the messy, vulnerable and taboo, our legend gives us new possible solutions – “magic” answers which would not be available in our normal everyday ordinary world. Crafting our Legend becomes not only a holy grail but an alchemical cauldron in which to become our own answers.
What is one experience from your history that you particularly carry in story form?
What stories do you tell the most? the least?
What symbols have been showing up in your life recently and how might you make them a part of your legend?
Brimming with the quirky enthusiasm that prompted her nom de plume, Jenafer Joy rides bareback at the center of a Creativity Revolution. Using every trick in (and out) of the book – vibrant paintings, whimsical writings, and an unwavering faith in every person’s innate intuitive genius – it is impossible to spend time in her presence and not fall in love with yourself, with the whispering of your muse and with Jena’s heartfelt and contagious love of the creative life. Jena has been in the healing & creative arts leading Inspired Inquiry courses since 2003. And she had the joy of five years at the helm of the Cosmic Cowgirl Community as one of directors from 2010-2015. You can see everything she’s up to on her website www.jenaferjoy.com and can always find her paintings and a ridiculous pile up of journal pages on Facebook at The Art of Jenafer Joy.
I let myself out of my cage.
I saw the door
for the first time
and I just stepped out.
It was so easy!
It’s so beautiful out here!
Surprised at my sudden freedom
I looked back
to see that open door
and the structure in
which it was housed.
But it was already gone.
Stunned I wondered,
was it me the whole time?
Nobody put me there,
no jailer but my own self?
Ha! I wanted to cry but instead I started laughing.
In that laughing
remembered what I forgot so long ago: Who I am.
~ Shiloh Sophia
Dear Ones of the Cosmic Cowgirls Tribe,
This is your very own Chief Laughing Cloud here with a message of changes afootz
One of the things I LOVE about our community is that we move as the muse moves and as our lives move. We don’t run on a traditional plan, but we run towards and from where we feel called. This may be based on the moon, the season, mercury retrograde, life changes, marriages, babies, moves to the mountain, deaths and births and desires shifting. Sometimes when we think of ‘company’ like ours we think it should be ‘a way’. But it isn’t.
Each time around the sun we sit in red thread circle and ask,
what wants to happen now?
What are you seeing?
What do we need and want? The community shares their voices and leadership does our best to charts the course for the year…it is always exciting and new territory – while tapping into the strong foundation we have built for almost ten years as a community and company.
And we follow that new thread of the wild muse whether it seems to make sense or not. We move from the spark of inspiration not only sense of duty. Then sometimes we course correct and redirect and begin to see what was actually being revealed to us. And our members let us know – here’s what I need and we do our best to respond to that through our private member channels.
After our annual Cosmic Cowgirls gathering in 2015 we made some changes that are starting to show up now – we got new call leaders (YAE!), we shifted our focus to Legend Weaving, a theme near and dear to our actual culture, leadership shifted, new team members were added and we moved towards a new way of communicating with our community. We are moving less with ‘blogging’ for others who might be interested in our content, an outward brand, and more towards serving the voices and needs within our own community, who we already are. Hence, the magazine is shifting as these moves come into place. If you have questions, you know where to reach me. If you have ideas, you know where to reach me.
For the month of July our leadership and our cosmic mothership are on a sabbatical of sorts as we reset our course and add in the new coordinates for where we are headed now.
It’s exciting. It’s scary. The cage is gone and freedom is affootz.
Stay tuned as changes continue to reveal themselves like lightning bolts in the dark.