The Curmudgeon Storyteller


by Annette Wagner, M.A. 

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.

Annette Wagner-Chrysalis

Chrysalis by Annette Wagner, 2014.

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.

Annette Wagner-Freedom

Freedom of Being by Annette Wagner, 2013 (resting on my altar)

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. 

* * *

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!

* * *

annette-ocean-bioAnnette 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:

Author: Annette Wagner

Share This Post On
%d bloggers like this: