I feel more beautiful today than ever in my life; even while limping around and wrinkling my brow in the frustrations inherent in the small moments of my day no one sees but me.
Can’t cut vegetables? I grimace to get more muscle into it and it still doesn’t work.
Then- compassion comes.
Compassion for my self.. my complicated girl-self on her hero’s journey.
My face becomes softer and my eyes too. I like how I look and the vegetables are still there.. uncut.
I keep getting the gift of one more step forward
And I am never alone anymore as I have felt so often in my life. I have my tribe around me.
I aspire to the sublimity and Grace of THIS
No matter how many grimaces or how much surrendering She takes.
Maya Angelou has written that she disallows the practice of belittling others in her home. She asks those who cannot speak from a positive place regarding another to leave immediately.
I might take that further and say we haven’t the time for false humility concerning our own own gifts.
I’ve noticed myself beginning to cringe at my own or others downplay of talent, wisdom, courage, instinct, leadership, specialness AND ordinary precious humanness.
Why is excess humility valued and receipt of acknowledgement for work well done often shied away from and even abhorred?
Not good manners to let praise rest with a person. Much better to deflect.
I find I do not trust those who do not know or can not stand for what they are good at.
This has been me too often.
Far, far too often.
I was such an impostor for so long that I had literally forgotten my natural self and so there was no one of substance home to accept a compliment or turn away from the dangerous projections of others.
I still work on my skills in these realms but I have a solid core now which is my compass and helps me find North when I become lost .
As I aspire to my highest Self I enjoy those around me knowing their worth and standing in it with no apology.
When I didn’t know myself well I used to ask those in my life whose opinion I trusted things like: “What do you think my best/worst qualities are? What do you sense are my gifts? What are qualities in me you admire? Are there things I do that frustrate you or cause impatience?”
I began to learn myself and that process has never let up.
Tell me what you are good at and I will share my gifts with you as well.
One thing I do well is to reflect others back to themselves so they might get a whiff of their own beauty. I am able to do this because I had a mother who couldn’t with me and I understand how crucial it is to know how we are perceived by others.
This is an innate quality and not a learned one. I used to use it unscrupulously in order to get people to like me.
Now it functions more like an elevating energetic tool; people begin to shine brighter as they remember who they really are.
It is then that the alchemy truly can begin.
When I chose to re-title this blog last year
And went from “HEALING THROUGH MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS” to the current “LIVING UNDONE”
It was unsettling for some.
One of the greatest gifts offered to those dealt the hand of a chronically challenged physical self
Is the opportunity to edit one’s life down to what is sustaining, inspiring, nurturing, growth provoking, curiosity piquing and life-enhancing.
I have learned and am still learning what weakens my life force.
I tell you A LOT has been left at the side of the road as I walked (rolled) on.
I am continually interested in what stays and what goes;
Ideas I was so sure of, teachers I revered, objects cherished, habits enjoyed.
Gone, gone, gone.
The great undoing is never done.
And so- what exactly is left as we un-do?
From over here it feels wide and oddly full. Peace and possibility might describe what my experience is.
Peace and possibility.
The room for something to come in to my sphere as yet unknown with the pure essence of that which is Life.
If I’m empty enough and prepared my space (consciousness) so it shimmers with all the rough edges tumbled smooth
I may hear the softest knock at the door and recognize Her through the peephole.
We will share tea!
I will neither fear Her departure nor pray for Her to remain.
We will share tea.
I have 2 power chairs- One is quite small and also quite old. I use it in the house and it loads into my car. The larger of the two chairs I use for tooling around town adventuring.
The aged one was gifted to me by a friend. I hated it. It did not feel like a gift at the time.
It was big and black and obtrusively disturbing to my persnickety aesthetic (I like white).
After awhile I was grateful for the support, it’s diminutive size (turning radius in small apartments) and the freedom it afforded me as my physical self lost ground.
The other day it just quit on me. Dead. Dead in it’s tracks.
It was an inopportune spot- seductively near the bathroom and tight quarters made it dangerous for me to attempt trying to rescue myself.
I sat there for awhile and thought:
I could grab hold of walls and doors and hobble my way to my other chair but if I fell I’d take the chance of hurting myself which I can’t afford.
(Livvy the wonder dog comes to check on me)
I try wiggling the levers to release the power steering so the chair can be pushed manually and can’t do it.
What’s a girl to do?
What if I have to pee?
God- Cathy- don’t even entertain the thought.
Where is my walker? Let’s see.. can I get to it? No.
The answer is no.
I hang my head.
NO! CATHY YOU WILL NOT COLLAPSE!
I have my phone and call my caregiver who by all rights should be here at 9:00am (it is 7:00 now).
I pull myself together, call her and see if she can come now. No- she has her family to see off but she will be there as soon as she can.
She has forgotten her house key.
I call the apartment office and she goes over to get the key.
I am rescued. (10:00am)
I am humbled to the innermost layer of myself. Again.
I am not in control on so many fronts.
I hate that reality.
Most people know this fact intellectually.
I know it very viscerally, soulfully, emotionally.
Because I know this at my core I have the gift of being able to segue quite readily into the other point-of-view which illuminates the fact we create our own reality.
This is such an over-used and tired phrase.
What it means is this: Life is a theater, a play, the Divine Comedy if you can get there.
If you don’t like the scene- change it (for me stuck in the chair it was the choice between being a victim to it or laughing at the absurdity of me trying so hard to avoid the whole mess).
MESSY! MESSY! MESSY!
Life is so messy.
And then it’s not.
And we carry on…..
Over this past year I have really been trying to be a solid but permeable container for my own emotional shortfalls, confusions, resentment, sadness, worry, chaos and general inner violence.
For it surely is mine; generated by me, affecting me most, fueled by my very own fire.
I am inviting Peace.
Dealing with such health challenges as I do allows large swaths of musing time to decipher and de-code what works, what doesn’t, what I need and don’t.
What I end up with is the truth of desiring a peaceful and soft heart, standing at the ready to be affected, moved, used and effectively used up before my time is done.
From the Buddha-
One day the Buddha was walking through a village. A very angry and rude young man came up and began insulting him. “You have no right teaching others,” he shouted. “You are as stupid as everyone else. You are nothing but a fake!”
The Buddha was not upset by these insults. Instead he asked the young man, “Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?”
The young man was surprised to be asked such a strange question and answered, “It would belong to me, because I bought the gift.”
The Buddha smiled and said, “That is correct. And it is exactly the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger falls back on you. You are then the only one who becomes unhappy, not me. All you have done is hurt yourself.”
When I first moved to New Mexico in 1989 I hadn’t the eyes to see.
She was brown to Michigan’s green.
Vistas are uncommon in lower Michigan; fenced in by walls of green and air laden with moisture, cutting visibility still more.
Everything about me expanded to meet my new landscape.
I had to adjust to the space as it plucked away my cocky knowingness and introduced me to the beauty of nothing.
By ‘nothing’ I mean the absence of ‘something’.
Look HERE to see what I mean.
Many of you will feel a big “YUK” when looking at these photos.
Your mouth may pucker at the dryness and exposed and nearly naked scape you see.
The thing is- She needs time..
Her beauty and magic are not immediately revealed.
We all know the finest of revelations in life are slightly or hugely demanding to access
And absolutely never delivered to your very doorstep.
Appreciating New Mexico landscapes such as these has taught me to look closer, dig deeper, change my glasses or wait out the heat before I can get to those tiny pieces of ancient pottery or the dinosaur bone or night-blooming cactus or shiveringly silver night sky over-loaded with stars.
I use these skills in my life today as I travel the roads disability takes me down.
I find the subtle yet life-altering kindnesses which never take center stage but leave me with a divine fragrance which has great staying power.
I hear the ready and authentic “Good morning” from a stranger and it is clear he has also been touched by illness or hardship in some way and wants to let me know he SEES me.
Perhaps the raven’s big, black swoosh against the still air went unnoticed in my Michigander childhood. Likely so. But not now.
You hold my grateful soul so gently and well, dearest New Mexico.
You keep wearing costumes I have never seen and I shall tire not of the constant invitations you send me.
I will keep sending you thank you notes.
The art of living is based on rhythm.. on give and take, ebb and flow, light and dark, life and death.
By acceptance of all aspects of life, good and bad, right and wrong, yours and mine,
the static, defensive life, which is what most people are cursed with, is converted into a dance, ‘the dance of life’, metamorphosis.
One can dance to sorrow or to joy, one can even dance abstractly.
But the point is that, by the mere act of dancing, the elements which compose it are transformed, the dance is an end in itself, just like life.
The acceptance of the situation, any situation, brings about a flow, a rhythmic impulse towards self-expression.
~~ HENRY MILLER
This thrills me..
Today is my birthday.
It feels so good to feel so good.
At last, I do believe I have turned a corner toward recovering the Cathy I knew before I had to move 6x in 6 months, landed in my lovely new place and began to reclaim myself with rest and more rest.
I feel very good.
I am somehow different.
Some veil has dropped.
Some more of me surrendered.
A new softness.
Yes, a softer heart which is all I’m after anyway.
My sense is that this loveliness is arriving due in part to connections with and support from old friends, new friends, current friends and family (non-human too).
I am not sure what has shifted to allow this miraculous web of support I am in the midst of receiving.
There is not a cell of me which feels alone in my challenges and this is new.
I do believe that likely this past ‘solo steerage’ had surely been self imposed in large part
But also behaviors and ways of being taken on in childhood to keep me feeling safe.
Now- I need them not.
And for this new sense of room left to me in their absence
I take a deep bow
To my own fortitude
And to those who walk at by side, unbidden but devoted just the same.
The past two weeks have been devoted to shingles.
This disease sounds light and giddy and jingling
But I am here (barely) to assure you
Shingles is not fun.
I beg you to get inoculated if you can.
Painful, depressing, ugly, painful and very painful.
How do people live with constant pain?
I enjoyed the drugs
But not enough to want them after I became pain free.
ODE TO SHINGLES- by Cathy
You are ugly, insistent and hurt me.
Your searing, red calling cards
Have all my attention;
Not because you interest me
But your sheer resolve
To test my mettle
Renders me weak and weaker still.
I hate you!
You must leave me now.
But spiritually speaking
Should I befriend you
And stop fighting?
Buddha says suffering is desiring
Some other outcome.
I have fallen from Grace
In my atomic incapacity
To soften my eyes
As I bend to your poison.