Annette: a retrospective (1968 – 2018)

When I opened my laptop today, I had no idea that I’d be writing my 200th blog post. I like the symmetry of a ‘milestone’ post being the first in Annette: a retrospective (1968 – 2018).


Self portrait in dappled light, 2018


I can’t believe that I’ve written 199 other posts here, sent each of them out into the ether… and they’ve all been responded to in one way or another. That’s something… and it seems fortuitous timing to start this retrospective at this stage in my blog’s lifespan.

Here’s the gist of it: I turn 50 in 15 days. Half a century on this little blue ball in space. That’s kinda cool.

In the course of those 50 years, life has served me a smorgasbord of experiences. Some wonderful, some mediocre, some long forgotten, some painful… nothing unique about that, right? We all share the same joys and burdens in that respect.

What I’ve been pondering, as my blog slowly atrophies and loses readership and engagement, is that while I might *feel* like my life is boring and I’ve got nothing much to say, that’s not actually true.

I might not be having a magnificent adventure or be in the midst of a deeply life altering season right this minute (or I could be but I just don’t know it yet), but I’ve had them, and they’ve shaped the person I am.

Really, I’m a baby valley; apt given that my middle name is Dale. The seasons of life have changed me, I’m worn smooth in some places, and there’s definitely sediment and settling happening! I’m made up of layers. I am an archaeological dig, waiting to happen.

What I’d like to embark on next is the blogging equivalent of a non-exhaustive, on-the-fly retrospective of Annette. Not a highlights reel. Nope. If you want pretty, curated and sterile, head over to Instagram and follow someone you’ll never know anything about except that they can create an on-trend flatlay.

What I’m hoping for is that as I think about my life and the things that have shaped me, I might find 14 more things to write about that are interesting, thought provoking, revealing and perhaps contain some of the kernels of what it is that make me who I am. It’s the ultimate blogging exercise –  a series all about me – huzzah for narcissism!

The thing is, I don’t think it will be that, and if it is, I apologise in advance. Yet, even if it is does turn out to be what women particularly have been told is the ultimate self-indulgence (thinking not of how we can first be of service to others is the ultimate lady crime, right?), really is that such a bad thing?

If I write 15 posts about knowing myself, about how I got to be the person I think I am today, and within those ‘mirror, mirror, on the wall…’ ramblings, there’s something transferrable or that makes one person reading this blog feel like they’re not alone in their own valley, then fuck it, I’m going to write like my story is the most important story in the world. Just for a fortnight.

To kick things off, here’s a list of 15 Annette factoids which may or may not come up over the next two weeks:

  1. I love colour.
  2. I am a shouty driver.
  3. Home is my favourite place in the world.
  4. I’m not inclined to be a follower. Not anymore.
  5. I do not have a passport, see item 3.
  6. Ambition and I are not well-acquainted.
  7. I love hugs.
  8. I taught myself to be compassionate.
  9. Going to youth group, at my local church, shaped me profoundly.
  10. I have no childhood memories of ever dreaming of getting married.
  11. I like my face. It doesn’t need to be dressed up for anyone.
  12. Once I believed I was irreversibly broken; I was wrong. See item 8.
  13. I am adopted. See item 8 again.
  14. Words are my gateway to the world.
  15. My words are worth reading.

I invite you to join me as I wander through the past 50 years. Maybe you’ll recognise some milestones and markers along the way. Perhaps as I ponder my past, it will light the way into the future. Let’s find out together.

With love,

Annette x

Deciduous Heart

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I think I have a deciduous heart.

According to Wikipedia, deciduous means “falling off at maturity” or “tending to fall off”, and it is typically used in order to refer to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally (most commonly during autumn) and to the shedding of other plant structures such as petals after flowering or fruit when ripe. In a more general sense, deciduous means “the dropping of a part that is no longer needed” or “falling away after its purpose is finished”. In plants it is the result of natural processes.

Hmmm. I might just have to stop and read that again.

The dropping of a part that is no longer needed.

Falling away after its purpose is finished.

That’s got to be about more than just leaves, right? That’s got to be about the soul too. Maybe it’s a deciduous soul thing, rather than a deciduous heart thing. Whatever it is, it’s a metaphor I can dig.

Maybe this is what #theviewfrom48 is all about? I wrote about the view here and even though I haven’t written much more about it, I have been thinking a lot about the where, why, who and what of being me. That’s nothing new for me, it’s a theme I return to often, and gladly.

It feels right for me to regularly take stock, because I think it serves me well to be mindful about my life, to look at what’s working, what is no longer needed, and to observe what’s fallen away.

Change can be so incremental that you barely notice it, and it can sometimes feel immensely unexpected and violent, leaving you reeling. I’ve known both types of change.

The things that I have let go off, that have fallen away, are as important, if not more important, than the things I’ve collected and added over the years.

I’ve let go of fears – that I wasn’t enough, that I was broken, that I was damaged goods.

I’ve let go of the idea that another person can complete me.

I have let concern about what others say about me fall away.

I have joyfully let go of living by others’ expectations.

I’ve shed plenty of leaves, heck, I’ve dropped branches.

And the falling leaves are beautiful. And the branches make great firewood.

Living isn’t about what we’re sold, or what we accumulate.

It’s about growing, and it is about letting go.

I’m growing.

I’m letting go.

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That’s the thing with seasons, they don’t just happen out there, in nature.

They happen to us, in us. We all experience seasons of ease, of change, of growth, of barrenness, of renewal.

I think the thing I’ve learned is not to fight that. I’m still learning that.

That’s the beauty of having a deciduous heart.

Autumn leaves aren’t afraid to fall.

I don’t want to be afraid to fall either.

I’m going to keep looking up,

Annette x



The view from 48

Good morning friends. 

This is my (slightly idealised) view, 48 days from turning 48. I’ve taken some creative license and brought us into autumn, because let’s face it, autumn is the most magical of the seasons. 

48 days from now I will turn 48. I like the symmetry of that. 

Recently, I’ve been pondering how I got here, who I am and what’s shaped me. Ive been wondering what markers along the way have been most significant, and perhaps more importantly, whether there are worthwhile and transmittable ideas, processes or unshackling posts that I could point out to others. (Does that sound ridiculously arrogant? I hope not.) 

48 isn’t 50, it’s not a Hallmark sponsored milestone, but it is what’s cresting in front of me. 

It’s a long time, isn’t it? 48 years. 

Not compared to the planets or the stars, or even the trees in the nearby hills, but for a person, it’s a good stretch of  days and nights, of summers, autumns, winters and springs. It’s a lot of Christmases and birthdays. It’s a hell of a lot of Monday mornings! 

Will I write 48 daily posts? I’m not sure, I kind of doubt it, though I do have the time at the moment. 

What I’m hoping is that by making a concerted effort to both reflect, and to scout what’s ahead, I might stumble across some things that help me join the dots. 

I’ve got this sneaking suspicion that the truest, best changes in our lives, the really important work of the soul (ugh, sorry about that!), happens not on the mountain tops, but germinates slowly, incrementally, often without us having much awareness of what’s going on, in the every day, in the mundane. 

There’s no mapped out plan for the next 48 days, there are no draft posts waiting in the wings, but I do want to tell you some stories. 

No matter how SnapChatty the world becomes, I think we still need stories. Stories and questions. 

Let’s find out. 


Annette x 


This is me, 49 days from 48. 


Hunkering Down & Keeping It Real

I’m a Melbourne girl, so I have to start with the weather – it is super windy, rainy, and cold, and feels like winter has seriously landed! The solstice seems to have acted as a starting gun, not the midpoint of the cooler months. I’m hunkering down, grateful to have a fridge and pantry that can see me through many days too nasty to venture out into.

Now, to more interesting things (I hope).

I’ve been pondering something since I’ve started this blog, and though I don’t have a neat 3 step plan or solution worked out, I thought I’d write about it, and see what you think too. Here it is in a nutshell:

When people write blogs, or books, or magazines, or do interviews on TV; whenever people hit ‘Publish’, it puts a snapshot of who they are out into the world.

As a baby blogger, my snapshot is still in the dark room, developing and coming into focus. I can see the outline of what it can be, this blog, but it is very much still in its chemical bath, under red lights.

Since starting this blog I have been so encouraged by the amazingly community that has come from the awesome Blog With Pip groups I’m part of (next intake starts in July – sign up via the link!). Without this group of women around me, urging me on, I don’t know that I’d have any momentum, or readers! When people from outside that fabulous group read my blog and comment, it blows my mind… am I getting beyond reading my essay at the front of the classroom? Really? Amazing stuff.

I feel like somehow, virtually, and spilling over into the face-to-face world, I have stumbled upon a group people forming a really fun, cute cheer squad and doing amazing hand-clappy, robotic-arms, tumbling routines, and chanting “Go-oooo Verbs!”  That is some kind of feeling. Wow.

I’ve also seen a lot of us being challenged by the ideas we hold around being  ‘good enough’ and whether we have anything to add to the blogosphere (we do!), whether we’re delusional to think anyone will read our words (we’re not!), or appreciate our art, or crafty endeavours, or agree with our points of view. To all those questions, I say this, I’m hitting publish anyway! I hope you are too.

There are challenges a plenty, from coming up with something interesting to write about on a regular basis (or irregularly, there’s no ‘rule’), to the ways we engage on social media, how much of our lives we share, what we choose to share, how we deal with negative feedback, or no feedback (that’s the worst, so if you read a blog and enjoy it, please take a minute to leave a comment!).

Then there are technical challenges – coding, widgets, themes, gobbledeegook that I still don’t understand at all, but for me the main thing is to write. To sit here at my desk, type my words, read over them, give them a tidy, and then hit the publish button.

What I know for sure is that I don’t want to be a blogger that isn’t recognisable in the real world. I really, really don’t.

Here, and in my Blog With Pip community, people tell me I am encouraging and clever and lots of other lovely, blush-y things – things that I need to hear and that boost my confidence, especially in a season that’s peppered with struggle and rejection in finding paying work. I have needed this group so much. That’s why it gives me so much joy to encourage and cheer other Pipsters on. Go girls!

And I am those things, I love to encourage people, it is kind of my life’s mission I reckon, and I love that I can think creatively, and write, and engage with people online and make people laugh and ponder stuff. I love those aspects of my who and do.

BUT they are not the whole picture. They are the snapshot.

I can be cranky, judgey, too quick to speak (and definitely to quick to comment online), rude, impatient and well, frankly, unforgiving. I have issues! We all do. Some of us keep very short records, which is admirable, and some of us lug around our emotional baggage in tattered archive boxes or faded suitcases.

I want this place, where I give you the verbs (god I love my blog’s name), to be somewhere you can come for a laugh, to read something I’m thinking about and maybe think about it after you’ve read it, to see what I’m baking, to hear about my obsession with my #favouritehuman (my niece), and most of all, to have a chat about whatever is going on in your world.

What I don’t want is to build on online persona that is some kind of facade I have to remember to keep up. I’m not saying this as a way to duck my head, peep out from a Lady Di fringe and seek compliments, truly I’m not – I am saying that I am encouraging, and clever, and quick witted, and I can be a cranky pants and a person who has uttered mean words I wish I could take back. I am a single gal, a daughter, a sister and a friend – someone who has had ups and downs in life. I am all of the things. I am working actively on some of the less appealing qualities I have in my archive box, and some of them are marked ‘DO NOT DISTURB”.

So, whether you are an L-plates, still in development blogger like me, feeling your way, or an experienced and got-it-going-on blogger reading this (eep!), heck, basically, if you are a person in this world; juggling home life, work life, friendships, family dynamics, illness, relationships, finances, the highs and lows, I want you to know that you are welcome here, in whatever state you find yourself.

Drop in, leave a comment, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram and say hi, I’m having the best day ever, or just coasting, or I’m having an absolutely shit day. We’re in this together.

This is not my place, this is OUR place.

If it’s just me tap, tap, tapping and nothing else, the publish button becomes kinda redundant.


What’s on your mind today? Who do you want to be? What’s in your archive box? How’s the weather?

Let’s chat.


Annette xx


What’s in a name?

I have been dipping in and out of Claire Hewitt’s daily May blogging challenge and today’s prompt caught my eye – First Names.

For most people, their baby’s name is discussed over a long period, and during pregnancy. There are favourites. And names that are immediately discarded as too common, too strange, too much a reminder of that annoying kid from school and the list ebbs and flows. Opinions are sought and discarded and sometimes the poor kid causes arguments before they even come into the world.

I don’t really have any idea about how I got either of my names.

I have had two first names.

One was given to me by my 17 year old mother, prior to my adoption, and one was given to me upon my adoption. So which one am I? Does a name define a person?

Am I Sara, daughter of Andrea, my teenaged mother, who I know precious little about? (I don’t know anything identifying about my father.)

Or am I Annette, daughter of Brian and Dale, who didn’t have their own biological children until after they adopted two babies?

I don’t usually use different terms for my mothers and fathers, because I don’t want to – and I think labels have the tendency to compartmentalise or diminish significant roles in my life. This will confuse, or even rile some folks. Tough luck. These are my people, and the language I use about them is my choice. I have two mothers, and I have two fathers. I will not allow anyone’s discomfort with that to impact me. It’s the truth about who I am.

The interesting thing is that both my names have something in common.

Sara is a diminutive of Sarah, which has Hebrew origins and means lady or princess. Sarah was the wife of Abraham, the Old Testament prophet. She became a mother at 90. No thank you.

Annette is a diminutive of Anne if you prefer the French lineage, or Hannah for the Greek fans. Either way, the meaning is gracious, merciful or favour, grace. And Hannah was the mother of an Old Testament prophet.

So, which one am I? Who am I? According to my names, I’m a merciful lady, and on a good day I might brush past these characteristics. A very good day!

I can tell you that my thoughts about my names have changed over the years. I actually really like both my names, and in recent years I have toyed with the notion of making Sara more a part of who I am now. Perhaps a small tattoo? It’s only four letters. I hold the world record for weakest stomach/lowest threshold of pain, so no tattoo yet – it’s not something I need to rush into.

Inevitably, some of you will be thinking, “but how will that make your parents feel?” You may find the notion of me wanting to honour my first first name disloyal or even wrong. Adoptees spend a lot of time answering questions about how everyone else feels – their adoptive parents, their ‘birth/biological’ family, their siblings. Tip: ask adoptees how they feel please.

It’s so strange to be telling someone your story and have them seem more interested in the other characters in it than in the person standing in front of them. As an adoptee, often the role people see us in is of the grateful “orphan” or rescued wretch. This isn’t a musical! There are a million posts I could write about being an adoptee – I’ll try and stay on track with first names for today.

So, I’m Annette – one of five children that share family history, parents and our surname, yet we don’t all share physical characteristics or DNA. Most importantly, “they” all love vanilla slices and I find then gross!! Ergo, vanilla slice loving is 80% genetic.

My dad calls me Nett – you may not. My good friends call me Nettie – you may become someone who shares that level of friendship. I’ll tell you if you overstep. I’ve done it before! Mostly, people know me as Annette. That’s who I am.

I am also Sara, a woman with no idea about my origins, or family history. I have no clue whose blue eyes I have, who I might laugh like, or frown like, or LOOK like. I don’t look like my favourite aunt or my gorgeous sisters (I’m still super cute!). I know my mother’s name, and her mother’s name. I know that Andrea’s birthday almost coincides with my parents’ wedding anniversary.

And whatever you call me, I know myself pretty well.

So, what’s in a name? Plenty. Echoes of my mothers’ desires for my life perhaps, or their feelings about and hopes for me.

Names don’t belong to our parents for long, they may choose them, but we grow into them. I intend to keep growing into both of mine for a good while yet.

Thanks for reading. If you’ve got a question about adoption, please feel free to ask!


Annette, and Sara xx