I chose this accompanying image as it feels complicated and dry.
Like me today.
I woke with heavy tears behind my eyes and vestiges of a bad dream involving the well-being of my dog.
I found it necessary to handle the question marks concerning what would happen to her should something happen to me.
She is my family.
I also have been lax in checking in daily with my designated friend who agreed to check in on me if she does not get an email in the morning.
Meeting the daily challenges of a life in partnership with chronic illness withOUT a partner are daunting at best.
No one would ever know unless they chanced to live it.
A friend brought me dinner as I was out of food.
We sat and I told her of my worries.
We solved both concerns by her agreeing to the two tasks at hand; she will take Livvy if something happens to me and I will check in with her each morning trusting that if she doesn’t hear from me by noon to investigate.
I cried again after she left but the old dryness was gone; instead, my heart was ripe and ready to meet life with curiosity and eagerness once again.
I felt clean.
My face looked very beautiful in the mirror.
It is that sharing thing…. transparency with those one feels can witness and likely respond without projection and therefore judgement.
A rarity and sacred ground to me.
My friends are my extended family web and I feel their silken threads almost invisibly attached but when truly needed, their tensile strength pulls me up and I am lifted.
A wise woman left this small pool of words in the comment section of my last post.
It made me sit up straighter and piqued my interest
As Truths (with a capitol ‘T’) tend to do.
There it stands alone: “THERE IS NO NORMAL”.
Never really has been, after all.. just stuff we find solace in thinking they will continue unaffected and recognizable for the foreseeable future
I am grateful that as an artist part of me abhors anything resembling normal because that has signaled that it has been done/said/believed/thought before and therefor has some if not most of the life wrung out of it.
Normal means major comfort too..
Normal quality of air, normal sun rising and setting at the expected times, normal dog brushing and licking time with my tea in the morning.
Speaking of quality of air- my brother and his family are very close to having to evacuate to a safe distance from the encroaching wildfire in Colorado near Colorado Springs.
Is there ANYthing normal about this chain of events and the emotions that go with them?
We are, each and every one of us tasked with living in the unknown more and more these days.
There are few count-on-able normalities.
When I find one I feel like kissing the ground.
For me- lately these moments (for they are that) are centered around the stellar friends and family I have around me.
I think we might be wise to strike the word ‘normal’ from the dictionary.
‘FLUX’ seems more apropos.
Get in the river and do what it takes to find your footing.
For me, I try to keep it interesting as I remind myself to be gentle..with my own precious soul and others.
The road is gritty and miraculous and curiously winding but seldom straight.
THE GREAT MYSTERY keeps appearing around these bends in that road.
If I let it.
When I moved into my current apartment an ecstasy welled up in me because it was bright and clean and mine.
Living here for a few weeks has weaned me away from that initial rush and left me hollow.
I am living essentially in a parking lot..other apartments face mine a scant 30′ away on one side but mine borders the parking lot on two sides just 6′ away from my bedroom window..
I wheel 8 blocks over and through vast concrete swaths of other apartment complex real estate to finally arrive at a tiny patch of green for my dog to relieve herself and me to pause and breathe in the air of life.
Santa Fe is a tri-cultural (Anglo,Hispanic, Native American) city and I am feeling the bubble of ‘anglo-privilege’ I took little notice of when I was a fully functioning part of this community.
I could afford to keep my ‘tribe’ close in and choose to where I was to live.
Since I do not have the luxury of working, my surroundings are crucial to my health and well-being.
The reality remains I am in need of the governmental assistance I receive and am grateful for.
My apartment complex is populated with many, many young Hispanic mothers raising large families of small children alone.
They are tired, angry and spent. Rightly so.
I am a foreigner in their eyes and they are to me as well.
I thought I was noticing racist tendencies in myself as I began curling my energies in toward myself for protection against their steeliness and indifference.
It isn’t racisism after all as I discovered; just a desire for a quality of life with more possibility of connection, feeling of safety should I need their help and the absence of armoring-up.
And so.. as providence would have it- the complex I have always wanted to live in has called and there is a spot for me there at the end of the month. I have been on their wait list 2 years.
I will move once again end of this month.
How will I ever manage to rally once again is anyones’ guess but I am choosing quality-of-life as we never know how much of that precious stuff we will be granted after all is said and done.
I call on my adventurous angels to assist me emotionally, physically and spiritually.
I am still on the road to ‘home.’
The act of publicizing my penchant for parking lots as I did in my last post generated enough private and concerned response that I thought I’d address it a tad further.
The state of creativity has been my safe place in life.
That means that no matter what else was/is going on around me I trust my ability to drop into the ‘well’ (I call it).
The qualities of a well are these: distance to the water, the journey to get there, darkness, mystery, fear, curiosity, nourishment, surrender to the unknown, possible treasure or death.
Both life and death are held there.
Artists worth their salt step forward even with the big question marks.
My having chosen a life with creativity at it’s core has meant finding ways to ‘clear the decks’ so-to-speak,
Before I set sail.
My parking lot visitations stemmed from the need for peeling away all costuming and revealing my tender underbelly on a regular basis.
This in service to creating art far from the ‘so what?’ variety.
Somehow-the anonymity of the practice of parking-lot-sitting has allowed me to get familiar with my natural self in way that weren’t happening at home or in my studio.
Studio time was for making the things I was inspired to do as I sat invisibly in cafes.
Sometimes, the avenues we choose to shield ourselves become destructive and soul-diminishing (alcohol,sex,food)..
My way seems weird even to me but I really don’t care..It serves me, hurts no one and I am better for it..
In moderation, of course.
If you see me there please leave me there as my startle reflex is frighteningly low…..
I had a secret place when I was a kid. It was a short bike ride from home and I’d go there for solace from an intolerable and toxic family experience.
It saved me.
It was a very non-human (except for me) experience; Nature with her greenness and protective forest-rimmed meadows populated by pops of color and a world of insects and birdsong.
It was my safe place.
Safe because no one knew.
No one could find me until I wanted to be found.
My body sank into the good dirt and my mind relaxed itself and dropped the hyper-vigilance.
As an adult I find car is my safe place and has been since I could drive.
I prefer to drive alone. I’ve covered many miles of road just looking..
Looking at stuff..life.
Driving has been/is a spiritual experience for me. Something ‘other’ takes charge as I go along. The logical me steps to the side and the ‘witness’ me takes care of operating the machine (I am a very good driver BTW) while I take Life in.
I have spent a good deal of time in parking lots.
More so now my stamina won’t carry me out into the wilds of New Mexico on road trips.
Nobody knows this about me; the parking lot thing. This is a confession, I guess.
I always wondered about myself but not enough to really figure it out.
It pleases me- parking myself w/ dog somewhere nice and airy and watching..
Watching Life with a capitol ‘L’.
I do this in cafes too.
Most times alone.
People wonder, I tell you.
What is the draw for me? Why the solace in these things?
Because of my dicey upbringing I don’t trust many humans. If I am a moving target there is a built in safety inherent in the very movement.
This is OLD BRAIN stuff I’m talking about here.. not logical or rational.
If you can’t find me you can’t hurt me. (This coming from a 58 yr. old…)
The old brain safety fostered by anonymity has always fueled my creativity and still does today.
I’m just a girl who loves the world and has a hard time feeling safe in it… thus living alone and loving it.
The thing is that the tendency to isolate doesn’t serve me as I really, at my natural and unaffected core am a true lover of people and need and adore to connect.
I am so interested in discovering this ‘safe place’ need and how it manifests for me.
I’m equally intrigued to do what it takes to assure a hefty dollop of connective living which is my best medicine.
“CLOSE” 40 x 40″ m/m
I’m exploring my new neighborhood which seems cast in endless concrete but there is a little patch of grass Livvy and I go to each early morning and evening for her to relieve herself. She hides in long grasses and gets the privacy any girl needs.
As I wheel around here I have become a pied piper of sorts for kids mesmerized by the wheelchair and teenagers keeping just enough distance to remain cool as they take in the scene of me with dog, roses on the wheelchair, their wee and uncool brothers negotiating me up close and personal and most of all everybody getting respectful and interested attention from an adult.
Coming home this evening there was a white low rider Ford truck whose driver lowered his window and waved to me.
I thought: I can always recognize someone who has dealt with disability in their own lives by the easy effort they exhibit to greet me with none of the usual overcompensatory fear and weirdness which naturally comes with unfamiliarity.
My heart goes wide at the brief but almost sacred recognition.
I suddenly feel beautiful, important, vital and worthy.
Such a seemingly little thing.
But clearly not.
“People will forget what you’ve said
and people will forget what you’ve done
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
-Dr. Maya Angelou
I find myself using this image I created from so long ago more than any other.
Well- it gives me a visceral experience of courage, the great unknown, the Big Mystery, hope and the sense of: “What the hell else is there to do, Cath, but move forward?”
I am uninterested in drama and the forthcoming laundry list of recent life ‘opportunities’ is an attempt to fill in THE VERY BIG BLANK I left you all with on this blog:
* move out of long-time beloved home and into rental until new apartment opens up (thinking 2 weeks).
* rental place is very inaccessible, dirty, depressing and dark.
* after over 1 month I must find new place to live as tenants returning to rental.
* move again to hotel w/ cooking facilities
* stay there another month
* FINALLY apartment is ready!!!!
* move in and love it.
* washer and bath flood apartment 3x. Construction company puts me up at Holiday Inn while my floors are jackhammered.
* stay 6 days
* FINALLY I am given the go-ahead to move back home.
And here I sit at my own computer writing to you from my lovely though not as yet fully unpacked, HOME.
Now- for an able-bodied person these challenges would be just that- challenges. For someone in my position with challenged abilities they border on deadly as stress wreaks havoc and fatigue curtails the necessary tasks of living (like eating and exercising and grooming). Yes- I was a dirty girl at times..
I lost weight. I lost functionality. I couldn’t access creativity.
I read. Watched cable TV. Made trips to the library to use a computer. Took Livvy for rolls around parking lots surrounding hotels. Went deep inside myself and spoke to very few friends. I isolated because I had nothing to say and no energy or inclination to be acceptable company.
I got depressed.
Then I got ok again.
And so forth and so on…
I waited in stasis mode for a respite and tried not to beat myself up for all the things I wasn’t/couldn’t/didn’t want to do.
What was the lesson in all of it?
What was I to learn?
This life of mine could be titled: “THE GREAT UNDOING”
Who I was, ISN’T here anymore.
Who I am is a work in progress; messy, raw, real, separate, connected, grateful, angry, tired, curious, lively, fun and not.
Honestly… I’m getting more honest… I am disappointed in myself and others less often. I can usually find the gold given enough time.
What interests me most right now is setting up my life to return into life WITH that very gold; by writing, speaking, connecting.
I really hit the wall yesterday regarding the level of patience demanded of me as I await my apartment. It was ugly. Raw venom. People with access to lawyers would NEVER put up with this abuse from the city inspectors no-showing to appointments at my future apartment building and the constant move-in dates set and cancelled since January. Almost 4 months of waiting. It is all insanity provoking.
I let it pass through me and two hours later as I watched our country’s response to the unimaginable tragedy in Boston and now Texas I had to adjust my perspective to recognize that what I have are fancy problems comparatively. Perspective is everything. When you can get it.
On another subject entirely:
I am not really sure what mag wheels are exactly but I like thinking about them and saying the word. I took delivery of my new wheelchair yesterday and IT IS SO COOL AND TECHIE LOOKING. Called QUANTUM, it’s wheels are large and deep tread, body is pewter grey and matte black and distance capacity is 15 miles as opposed to the one mile on my current used model (gifted to me two years ago). My new one comes via Medicaid many months in the making and I was prepared to ‘shut up and make do’ aesthetically and functionally but NOOOOOOOOOOOOO need. My Detroit genes are quivering at the speed potential.
Reality check: I am excited about a wheelchair… How did I get here?????????????
Well…Here I am still in wait mode for my apartment. It interests me how the essence of a place can be so alive and either nurturing or not. Here, I have had an opportunity to rest deeply on all levels and catch up a bit on what has been a full 5 months of high stress in my housing transition conundrums. Since I am so good at soldiering my way through challenges I tend to forget what stress does to MS.. It really is scarily apparent the ground I have lost as I begin to relax and recoup. I rest, read, self-medicate with cable TV and eat consciously.
I get in trouble when I isolate myself due to fatigue. Yesterday, I went into downtown Santa Fe and tooled around with a good girlfriend and Livvy. I noticed how happy I was and able to be present with various people we met on the street because I had the support of my friend. She has what I call ‘wide-vision’ and sees possible obstacles before we get there and remedies the situation which paves the way for me to relax. Just little things like moving chairs out of the way and opening doors.
I honestly don’t know how I do this path I am on alone. I just do what I have to do and am beyond grateful for the support and kindness I come in contact with more often than not; surprise conversations of depth with strangers, miracle offers of financial help, my family’s continual ‘got your back, Cath.’
Life is good.
ps… forgive me for not responding to emails you send me through this site. my mail system won’t let me until I can access my desktop computer.