Nativica: Questions and Answers

by Heidi Hansen, October 18, 2016.  Art and text copyrighted. Permission required to reproduce.


Q: What is Nativica?

A: Nativica is a place where children woodswalk through native plant art and learn to identify the native plants of the northwest, how native plants help the animals of northwest habitats, and how they, as persons, are an important part of this ecosystem. Nativica is a place created through northwest botanical art that will inspire children to be conscious and careful woodswalkers. To observe the details and nuances of native plants, and themselves in that experience, to curate and conserve their own carbon footprint in northwest nature.aaa1nativicanativicagarden

Here are a few examples of the native plants you will experience in a northwest woodswalk:


Q: What is this plant and can people eat the berries?

A: Kinnikinnik is a sturdy evergreen groundcover that is commonly used to landscape along parking lots and city sidewalks. The berries are toxic to humans but nourish birds nicely through winter.


Q: Why is this called Tall Oregon Grape?

A: There are three types of Oregon Grape. This Tall Oregon Grape grows uupward like a shrub, the other two stay low and creep along the ground. Tall Oregon Grape is evergreen, with sharp leaves. The sky-blue berries are very tart and early pioneers had to use lots of sugar to make them into jams.


Q: Where is this watery place? Can I go there?

A: Ellsworth Springs is just that, a natural springs located in SW Vancouver, Washington. It is surrounded by a large evergreen forest and a terrific place to woodswalk. In this painting of the springs, you will see Western Red Cedar dipping its roots in the water, a bright yellow Skunk Cabbage right in the water, Vine Maple trees, Sword Fern, and Pacific Ninebark. All of these thrive right at Ellsworth Springs!


Q: Why does this leaf have so many colors?

A: This is a Vine Maple leaf just beginning to turn its colors in the month of October. Vine Maple leaves can turn bright red at high altitudes or a glowing orange at lower levels.


Q: Why don’t I see this flower very often?

A: Our native Irises are small in their flower, and not commercial showy types of flowers. But, they are very precious and beautiful and so surprising when you see them there. This is Oregon Iris, which blooms in June, and is pale lavendar and delicate blooms.


Q: Are native Iris fragile?

A: No. Like most native plants, they are strong, rugged, and adapted to survive many changes in environment. This is Iris tenax, larger and more deeply purple than the Oregon Iris, and has an extensive root system that holds it firmly in place.


Q: How do ants and Trilliums help each other out?

A: In the very middle of the white flower part of the Trillium is a sac of sticky sweet liquid that ants love to eat! They get it all over themselves, and the pollen of the flower sticks to it. When ants travel back home, they leave a trail of the pollen that starts new Trilliums in new places.


Q: Is it true that if you pick a Trillium, it will die and never grow back?

A: No. Deer eat Trillium tops all the time, and moles even nibble at the rhyzomes (which helps Trilliums sprout new flowers out of the same rhysome). If the Trillium is healthy, the flower will come back the nnext year. If it is weak, or not in a good spot, it might take a couple off years to flower again, but it will not die. Trillium rhyzomes have a robust underground life!


Q: Why is the Garry (or, White) Oak tree so important?

A: Our native Western Grey Squirrel and our native Scrub Jay depend on the acorns of this tree as a main meal. Our native White Tailed Deer eats the bark. Garry Oaks take a long time to grow and are very rugged but in the last 20 years have had a blight that reduced its population, which hurt our native animal populations.


Q: Why is there green on this tree bark?

A: A Scrub Jay is bursting out of a fall-colored Big Leaf Maple. Big Leaf Maple loves wet forests and so moss ggrows on its moist bark, as well as lichen and these provide rich beds for little licorce fern to grow on. The leaves of BIg Leaf Maple are yellow in Fall.


Q: What kind of tree is this Western Gray Squirrel eating on?

A: Garry Oak, of course — you can tell by the leaves — they have rounded edges. You will see here that an Oak in a moist woods will grow moss and fern like the Big Leaf Maple, although Oaks really like dry areas, too.


Q: How do native plants help our Salmon runs?

A: Red Osier Dogwood, seen here with its blue-ish berries, grow near river banks and help keep the banks from eroding. Also, their roots grow down into the water and when the water swooshes by it, churns up oxygen bubbles. This oxygen and root shield nourishes and protects salmon eggs when they spawn. Paper WIllow trees and Ginger and Strawberry help riverbanks stay strong.


Q: Why is Common Camas such an important native flower?

A: Although the flower is a lovely light blue color, and prized for it’s simple beauty, in the history of First Nation Peoples of the northwest — in particular the Nez Perce Tribe — Camas bulbs provided a major food staple. The bulb was dug up using a specialized paddle. These native tribes knew how to dig up the Common Camas, not it’s toxic twin named “Death Camas.” They had culinary techniques for mashing the starchy Camas bulbs and cooking them into hearty loaves. When Sacagawea guided the hungry and fatigued Lewis and Clark expedition west over the Rocky Mountains, they were greeted with luscious flowing fields of beautiful blue Camas flowers. For Sacagawea, this meant home. For the Lewis and Clark party, it meant a food source that would help them survive their journey in an unknown land.


Q: How is Pacific Dogwood different than Red Osier Dogwood?

A: They are cousins, but Red Osier is a low-growing shrub and Pacific is a tree. Pacific Dogwood attracts bees and butterflies like crazy! Look closely and you’ll see that Pacific Dogwood flowers out in three skinny branches, like fingers, from the main branch. And the flower petals have a distinct curl that makes a ballet dance when they catch a summer breeze.


Q: Why don’t I ever see Fairy Slipper in the woods?

A: You may not have your nose to the ground. Fairy Slipper, Calypso bulbosa, is our unique native NW orchid and she is tiny and grows in the mossy root base of big Douglas Fir trees. She is no faint of heart! Our native orchid is the first flower to bloom in spring, and that means in early February when there is still snow on the ground!




Q: How can I help keep our ecosytem healthy?

A: By enjoying it. By being gentle with it, keeping it clean and safe for the plants and animals that grow there, including yourself. Walking and biking instead of driving, inventing new ways of using old things, and planting native plants (in this painting you will see Orange Honeysuckle that attracts hummingbirds, and Blue Heron that eat the fish in the river. Can you find the dragonfly?).

_______________What’s next in Nativica?  The origin story!  How Zeke Worthy braves a vacuus storm to look for a solution and finds Nativica and the magic of an Attic Keeper’s sketchbook.  But, it’s his woodswalk that becomes heroic, and it begins with a poem about ferns.


Nativica art,  text and brand is copyrighted to Heidi D. Hansen, all rights reserved, reproduction requires permission and possibly purchase.  Email Heidi at to talk about it.

















Pain Management Through Meditation

48093_509659179085479_168254671_nContemplative practice can help with chronic pain.  Long-term opiate pain medication is no longer an option for many pain sufferers, and developing daily habits of meditation becomes a life raft amidst the misery.

I recommend the daily use of at least 3 different types of meditation for:

  1.  Anticipation of pain emotions;
  2. .Avoidance of pain behaviors;
  3.  Getting through acute pain;
  4.  Prevention of worsening pain;
  5.  Spiritual acceptance, surrender and cultivating meaningfulness.


Some of the contemplative practices I recommend are:

  1.  Past-present-future-present imagery;
  2.  Trancework;
  3.  Body concentration;
  4.  Fluid breathing;
  5.  Focused breathing;
  6.  Word flow;
  7.  Biofeedback;
  8. Creative recovery.

I offer meditation coaching for pain management online and in person (Vancouver-Portland area) , individually or in small groups.  My fee is $55.00 per hour and I offer a sliding scale to those on a tight budget.  I can take major credit card payments online through safe and confidential  Email me at, or call me at (360) 609-2646 for more information.  Thanks, and be well!  – Heidi Hansen, M.A.

Know Your Vacuus

In the fictional Muse Academy, the dark forces known as The Vacuus try to suction out their ideas, their creative process and the life of their creative inspiration.muse9

This happens in real life, too. People, places and things can suction out your creative inspiration and deaden the process of cultivating your ideas and motivations.vacuus

Creative persons must keep their process and product safe. Keep it in their ownership. Manage the boundaries of destructive forces in their public and private lives.  Prevent destructive attitudes, talk, choices, relationships from entering your creative spaces.

To do that, you must first know and identify “vacuus” in your life.  What is your “vacuus”?   What is your personal and public plan to safeguard your Muse and ideas?muse2I am available online or in person to provide creativity coaching for individuals or small groups.  My fee is $55.00 per hour and I take major credit cards. Email me at http://www.hhansenma@yahoo  or to discuss your creativity coaching. Thanks! — Heidi Hansen



HIDING : A one-act/one-woman play


DSW (Disappearing Social Worker) narrates an introduction to our play:

DID (Dissociation Identity Disorder, formerly called Multiple Personality) is about hiding. In plain sight. One of many, stuck out there on the front of the stage, interfacing, accomplishing tasks, while the others of many stay secluded and shielded from the blows the front one will undoubtedly endure. Taking one for the team, so to speak.

But to never be able to live, to be out in the open with others, never interfacing and taking it for your own instead of for the team — never to have an experience that you can call all your own — that is the indelible pain, the incredible loneliness of DID.

Just for one day, one afternoon, one hour, on one small street, let’s give them their chance.

Scene: It’s a New York City street, just one block long, but crammed with as many stores of as many different types as one could ever want. You could live on this block all your life, never leave it, and always have whatever you needed.

Voice calls out, “We’re lost!  Anybody know where we are?  Where are we? What street is this?  How did we get here? Anybody recall the path?  So we can backtrack on it to get back to where we were?”


Scene:  Lining this one block, there is a shop for everyone, for every want or need. Funky coffee shop for CW (Celtic Woman), who writes there, and where Penny (3 years old) can get a cinnamon cookie — or bettter yet, the kind in animal shapes with brightly colored frosting.

There is a walk-in chapel where Sophie can kneel and pray amongst a fld-out table of candles.

There is a drop-in community mental health social club, where Lucy can go and sit and pick up brochures on free counseling resources and take a stab at the 1000 – piece puzzle made up of exactly 914 pieces.

A music shop where used and new instruments are sold and repaired and tuned. Where sheet music can be bought and likely musicians can try out their tunes for each other. That’s where Marcus wants to be the most, but alas, he is stuck with babysitting Penny and Jodie and Sandie – who need their hands held tightly so they don’t wander off and get lost or kidnapped, and making sure everyone has their bus tickets in good shape and in the right pocket.

Marcus would also like to visit the internet cafe, to finish up and click and send away his college grant application. But, if he hasn’t time to practice his guitar or drums or clarinet, how will he ever have time to study at college? And how would the Little Ones ever feel safe enough to get to sleep without his lullabyes at night?

And when, by the way, exactly, is night? When someone is asleep the others are awake. There is always someone awake, no matter the light or dark of outside or the am/pm of the clock. Time is static and yet so elastic it stretches like worn out boxer shorts and binds just as well.

This is life in the Hiding.

Hiding in plain sight. Everyone, yet no one.

Scene: The empty NYC street has taken on a few features of a living/dining room of a sort, on the sidewalk, which is clearer than the street front of shops which has become somewhat faded. CW sits at the table, typing on a laptop perched on her knees, a large empty mason jar on the table. A loud and intrusive banging as a door slams from somewhere, and is kicked and cursed. Medina is home.

Medina: “So what if I’m angry all the time?” she yells in anticipation, as if she has already been accused of a temper by someone anticipating emotional triage.

Lucy, 15 years old and plump, wearing a French policeman’s hat, appears out from in-between 2 shops and slumps down at the table, head in arms. “I’m so depressed.  Everything is dead inside.  I can’t go to school today. Everyone is gone away.”

Medina: (Ignoring Lucy) “If it weren’t for me, you’d be nothing. Still stuck in that gray cement hospital room, on a sticky rubber gurney being pumped with pinatas of medications and used as a guinnea pig to see how they worked. At least I got you outta there and got you your own apartment and a job and a career. So don’t crap with me tonight. I’m in no mood.”

Lucy: (Getting up suddenly and fleeing back into the row of shops where she came out of) “ooohh – no hospital! Nope! No no no hospital!”

“You’re right, Medina,” DSW says gently but firmly, entering the door with recyclable bags filled with vegetables and granola bars. “You did, that and more. And I am so so happy that you did. We can all have a life now, because of you, we all have a life.”

“Then what the crap is all the fuss about?” Medina charges, trying to get a verbal fight going to ease her rage.

CW looks up from her laptop and remarks, “It’s so the Missionaries don’t get us.”

“Ugh!” spews Medina in rapid answer. “Not them again. Oh hell not the Missionaries — what??? Are they here, now? Has Sophie been praying again? What, she wants to go back to church?? Again?? No way! I’ve learned my lesson on that one — hasn’t she??”

Penny pipes up, crumbs sticking to her lips of pink and robin’s – egg blue frosting, “But my like sunday shool. We get to sing songs, and hab juice.”

Lucy steps out of the shop fronts wearing an artist’s beret hat. She hovers by the table and speaks in monotone: “I’m so depressed. Can’t move. Can’t move my arms to paint or draw or anything.”  And she slumps back and is gone.

DSW pokes around in the grocery bags. “Marcus, can you take over here, please? I’ve got a client scheduled and I’m bussing it — oh, has anyone got a spare bus ticket I can use? With a round-trip? I’m not sure when I’ll be home. There’s a can of carrot juice in here, and please please eat the dried cranberries — we don’t want another urinary tract infection, allright? And the organic radishes and  carrots — eat the tops, too – they’re filled with the good stuff.””hideset3

She dissapears and so does everyone else, ducking as far away from Medina as they can.

“God, you’re a bitch,” CW sneers at Medina as she grabs a bottle of cheap wine out of the fridge and fills the mason jar with it. “Why don’t you just get lost. My life is just fine without you. Probably even better.”

Medina: “You don’t have a life. You don’t even have a person.”

CW: “I have more of a life than you do, Medina. I’ve got more of a Self than you ever will. It’s rich and deep and textured. Not just one big tantrum repeating itself over and over. I have a self. I’m someone.”

“Hmf!” Medina sneers and laughs. “You’re who the liquor says you are. You’re who the church says you are. You’re who your mother said you were, and your father demanded you to be, and what your uncle made you into. The hospital says you’re crazy, so you’re crazy. You let it happen. Then you just go off and hide.”

CW sighed, “Bitch. Child porn isn’t so bad compared to living with you, Medina. No — wait — that’s too low. Sorry. That’s way too low, even for you. I’m sorry.”

Lucy appears, wearing an English gray felt tophat:  “I’m going out for a job interview.” and exits to the stage side.

Scene: Silence. Then, a soft melody floats over the stage played by an accoustic guitar, from somewhere.

Medina sighs, lays her head back of her shoulders and squeezes her fingers into her eyes, as though squeezing out a sponge.

“Wish I could feel something besides mad. Wish I could read, concentrate — get away from all this crap — get somewhere else, maybe read some of the books you’ve written, maybe then I’d know.”

“Know what?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know what I don’t know. Just something. Something that’s missing. Not hollow or empty, just something not there.”

Marcus pipes up, “The Missionaries are knocking. Are we home?”

“No!” Medina and CW shout out together, then look at each other and gurgle a laugh.

CW: At least we agree on that. Want a drink?

Medina: If I get the bottle. You can have what’s left in your glass.”

SCENE:  Penny, Jodie, Tommy and other Little Ones quietly appear coming out of the shops and Marcus silently, gracefully, rolls out sleeping bags for them on the sidewalk behind CW and Medina. Quietly, the Little Ones curl up in their cozies and Marcus sits beside them strumming his guitar. We hear the lullaby guitar melody in the background.

Lucy enters from the stage side where she left, wearing an Arabian Sheik’s headdress. “Too depressed to work. So depressed, can’t concentrate. Can’t do the cash register. Too much stimulation.  CW, can you get Jodie her cookie. I’m too depressed.”

CW (to Lucy):  “It’s Penny who wants the cookie.  You’re her Big Girl, Lucy, you do it.  I’m you’re Big Girl, and I get to say. Even if you’re depressed, get her the cookie.”

Sophie:  (popping her head out of the card table chapel) “I’ll pray for you, Lucy!  The Lord will heal you if you only have faith. Let’s talk with Missionaries – – together!”

CW:  (to Sophie and Lucy, who both go back into the shops) Whatever.  (To Medina): “In the hospital, the ER, it was like — what do you call it? A glockenshpeil? Cuckkoo clock? The German kind where every fifteen minutes it gongs and all the little wooden shudders carved into it fly open and the little characters pop out one at a time, then go back in and pop out again, over and over ? Kind of like in circle? That’s what the ER ward was like. A line up of room doors opening and crazy patients in gowns wandering out to have some kind of human contact, be among the living, eat and talk and walk — then the staff shooed them back in their rooms, and they would go in and then pop back out again, needing to be in the traffic of the living, popping in and out — do you know what one guy said?  The staff was really down on him for “acting out.”  When transport finally showed to take him to his long-term unit, he barricaded himself in his room and shouted for his jeans and t-shirt. Over and over. Over and over staff scolded him for acting-out and said they would force him down and give him an injection to sedate him or he could walk on his own.  Security was called, other ER docs showed because he was really big and it looked tense — then he just simply said, “I’ll go — I just want my clothes, my regular clothes.” Staff scolded him he had to wear his gown to go.  And he started crying and said, “I just want to look normal.”

Scene: Silence, as they gulp, together. Medina takes a clump of fresh organic carrots from the grocery bag and breaks off the carrot tops in one wrench. She fiddles with them.

CW: I am who I say I am. Not who you — any of you’s — (she nods her head up and down the street, which is lighting up and becoming filled with pedestrians, bikers, taxis, a city bus.) say I am.

Scene: Medina stuffs the carrot tops into the empty mason jar, sarcastic (?)  and arranges them like a bouquet of flowers. The guitar music stops. That is The End.

_______________________________”Hiding,” text and stage design and music is by Heidi D. Hansen, copyright 2014-2016. email at for information.


Helping Girls Get A Strong Sense of Self: The Meaning of Flight of The Thundermoon Swan

In the previous story, Flight of The Thundermoon Swan,”  is a metaphor for girls and people who care about girls getting a strong and independent sense of Self.  Here are some questions to consider:flightofthethundermoonswan

  1.  What might the “cupboard” in the story mean for girls you know?
  2. . What might the moon relate to in the lives of girls you know?
  3.  Why did the moon ask for what it did?
  4.  Why did Lucy comply?
  5.  What will the moon do with all the items that Lucy brought?

I’d love to hear your comments on these and any other thoughts you may have.  Reply here or at . Thanks! – Heidi D. Hansen, MA, child and family counselor.

The White Feather Campaign for Invisible Disability

Announcing The White Feather Campaign by Heidi Hansen(c2016). No colored ribbon here, but wear a white feather as the symbol of advocacy and education for persons of invisible disability.

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What To Do and Not Do With Persons of Invisible Disability


1. No shaming — if you have contempt for the mentally ill, find another career field.

2. No assumptions or judging – Ask questions and get more education instead.

3. No bullying — Get counseling to address your insecurities and control compulsions.

4. No gossipping — neither in the hallways, break room, nor in the chart. If you need validation that much, hand the situation over to someone who has more confidence.

5. No threatening — Walk away and get more education/ training in communication/negotiating skills. Try empathy as a skill.

6. Teamwork –Include the person of invisible disabiity in the treatment team process and practice.

7. Ask the person of Invisible disability for information about their disorder and the cures and their medicines. They probably know things that you do not.

8. Invite the person of invisible disability to contribute — how can they, their experience, and personal knowlege be a boon to others?

9. Understand clearly that the person of invisible disability is the one who gets to say who they are, not you, not the beaurocracy, not the insurance, not pop culture, not the family or friends.

10. Don’t challenge, question, discount, ignore or put down a person’s invisible disability. Persons of invisible disability can be articulate, educated, and use a wide range of other, successful skills– and still have a disabling condition. That condition doesn’t come with a wheelchair, ASL interpreter, seeing-canes, or prosthetic limbs, but is just as real and just as much covered under The Americans With Disabilities Act.�


copyright2016heididhansen. Email for permission to reproduce these materials.


A Day In The Life of PTSD

A Day In The Life of Invisible Disability: The Many Faces of PTSD

Do you or someone you know experience life on some part of the continuum of symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress?

Post Trauma Stress can really interfere with the regular structure, routines, and goals of daily life and not all medical professionals or Emergency Rooms or Crisis Line workers know how to approach and support the sufferer through it all.

Let’s talk panic attacks. Panic is such a physical thing as much or more than emotional. This is what gets in the way of the cure. If our bodies are in fight, flight, or freeze mode, and the heart feels like it will go into arrest, the lungs are clamped shut and can’t get a breath, one’s skin feels like it is covered in fear as much as air, we are not able to concentrate enough to access the skills that will help.

Medications that help bring a person into a level where he or she can access coping skils like deep breathing or meditation are often scapegoated in the medical community and patients are labelled as drug seekers or abusers. It’s a frustrating, shaming interaction with medical personell that can really bring doen the sufferer’s self-esteem, which cycles around and makes things worse.

Often if a person experiences dissociation (another continuum) as part of their PTS, a panic attack can really be anothher part of the personality (multiple) trying to break out and come to the external environment to have a voice and a place and a relationship. And that tectonic rumbling is experienced as a panic attack.

Not many medical personell know that perspective, and so overlook what would help, which is letting the other inside person come to the front, interact with the outside, and establish a validity in their relationships, identity, voice.

What I have found is that when a panic attack becomes intense and physical enough that skills can’t be accessed, is to make the environment ( and here’s where support persons come in) very basic in the following ways, where the sufferer just has to receive it rather than try to actively do things.

Here’s 3 starters:

1. Get everything very very quiet. Reduce all stimulation of sound, lighting, interactions and allowing Just the sounds of the rain on the window, the comfort of a soft blanket, being still. Just noticing the quiet in the environment, present-moment observation of the simplicity of this time can have an effect on the body that is going berserk.

2. Do something — anything handy — that is tactile. Pet the dog, put your head under the cool shower, hold an ice cube in your hand. Rub your toes into the carpet. Rock back and forth if you don’t have a rocker chair. Eat something with a flavor or texture that you haven’t had in awhile (something spicey, something hot or cold, something chewey.

3. Tell 1-3 support people what you are experiencing. Have a hand-out prepared for them that describes what you need from them when you are having a bad panic attack. Prepare this ahead of time. Sometimes just knowing that others know brings a sense of security that you are not alone with all the terror and out-of-control physicality.

Here’s one final thing — instead of trying to attack a symptom straight-on as a symptom, do other things in your environment and personal day that gives you a sense of power and control. Do one small thing, then rest. Make a time when you will do one more confidence-building thing. For example, if I can learn something new in the middle of a panic by listening to an NPR interview, feel more powerful. If I can walk my dog around the block I will feel more powerful. If I can draw a picture of what this experience looks like, I feel like I still have a Self, and I have conrete evidence that I am still in control. And I can, in small bites, expand that personal control, which will, over time, replace the body getting out of control.

The most important thing is to advocate for yourself — during times when you are feeling better — is that you will be allowed to do the things that work, and not necessarilly what other people are instructing. You know your panic better than anyone else, set it up so your personal patterns will be met with the things that actually work for you.

c2014Heidi D. Hansen, M.A., Mental Health Recovery Specialist. Contact at or text/call 360-241-5538.