Olivia

"RED",   24"x36",    1995,    oil on panel

"RED", 24"x36", 1995, oil on panel

 

I dropped my dog last night.

Her name is Olivia and she is a 10 lb.  (obese, says the vet)  chihuahua.

Dropping glasses, a fork, soap?  Sure.   Goes with the normal MS day of ‘less-than-perfect’ behavior of my body.

But my beloved dog… no.

It happened in the midst of a dinner party I gave.   It was time to get dinner on the table.  I reached down to pick her up to reassure her that all these people were ok and she was still safe with me.

And I dropped her on her side.

She screamed and cried noises I had never heard.  She is a rescue dog and submissive but no baby.

I took her to my bedroom and made a cave for her with my chest and arms and whispered as she cried and trembled and seemed so out of her body and not connected to me.

Two friends came back to check on us and I asked them to see if they could find her treats and bring them to me.

Somehow- she perked up.   Re-integrated at the sight of food  (don’t we all?)    and carried on like a champ for the rest of the evening.   She stayed close and was quiet but wagged her butt like she does and responded as usual.

This whole thing made me think about trauma.    When I was married, we went to a therapist for some guidance.   He asked me what I really needed.   I said: ” I’d like Steven to put his hand on my heart for ten minutes.”  Steven did this and I burst into tears.    I scared him.  He didn’t know what to do.   He took his hand away.

All of us have stored trauma.  Not a one of us escapes.  How are we to help heal one another if we have not the tolerance for our own trauma?  Because that is what happened to my husband.   He saw something that was too close to his own scars;  still very secret and in the shadows so he could not have the tolerance for mine when it surfaced.

My experience with my dog last night let me see how fully I could be with her pain.   Because she is a rescue dog,  I can never know the truth of the time I wasn’t there.  All I can do is turn every cell toward her when something activates an old hurt and she shows me the damage done to her in the past.   Last night, I saw that I had done my work well.   I’ve plumbed my depths and faced the shadows and because of that,  NOW I CAN LOVE WELL.   I’m not saying that I didn’t hurt my dog because I did.   What I saw,  though,  was that her reaction was a combination of her history and the present hurt.   

Today we are going to the river to play and let it take us….

Civilized Behavior

"SPIRIT",   1993,   m/m,   14x14x4"

"SPIRIT", 1993, m/m, 14x14x4"

 

I love teenagers.

Yesterday,   I had backed my car up to the house and left the hatchback open most of the day as I waited until I had enough energy to bring stuff into the house.

I waited all day into the evening.    And still… the hatchback was open out there.

AND THEN… a little knock on the door and I find my two neighbor kids;   probably 13 and 15.  I’ve lived here for three years now and there has always been an awkwardness between their family and me.   We are culturally different and there is the ever-present adobe wall between us to contend with.  They are a real family;  two boys running, shooting hoops, yelling at each other;   I LOVE this!  Since I chose not to have kids and give my art career my attention, I tend to live vicariously through others.  I’ve never done well with infants but teenagers, I seem to want them around me more and more.

It has surprised me so much that my neighbors and I like each other from afar but we stay just that:   once removed.  I watch myself yearning for a connection there but don’t act on it.  That is why it was such a surprise when I saw the two boys at my door asking if I had anything in the car I needed help bringing into the house.    The seemingly small attentiveness they showed in noticing that my car door had been open so long and breaching those silly made-up barriers that keep our hearts in lock-down,   actually brought me to tears.    Of course, being no dummy, I know full well their parents were behind the kindness here but I got to make them my heros and they were feeling good when they left.  And so was I.

A Small Thing

 

"PUSH",  22x30",  monoprint,  1999

"PUSH", 22x30", monoprint, 1999

Did you ever notice how one small whisper of a touch from someone can blast your heart open and leave you breathless and wondering how that seismic shift happened from such an insignificant gesture?

It makes me know that absolutely nothing I do is insignificant.  My way of being affects all those I come in contact with and also those I never cast an eye towards.

How can this be?    Is this what it means that we are all one?

Sometimes it’s just so much easier to think I am an island unto myself and tend my garden any which way I want.    It’s mine;  I’ll do what I please.

But really,   if that one touch caused such an effect of opening in me even when I didn’t want to,   I must take care with the effect I may have on another.  It may be you.. you who may need a little more softness and connection in your life today that I give my genuine smile to.    I really hope so..

Sticking My Neck Out

"Suburban Girl",  2002,  ceramic,  36"x 4"

"Suburban Girl", 2002, ceramic, 36"x 4"

 

I began this blog just one month ago.  I absolutely love the process of revisiting all my artwork from the past and finding one image to complement what I write each day.  The pleasure in this is enough but I was wondering if I was creating in a vacuum as there were so few comments.

Yesterday, a friend looked up the stats on who has visited my site and where you are from.  Turns out that this world-wide-web thing really works!  There have been 245 of you who have viewed pages 645 times this month.  You are from the U.S., Canada, the UK, China Nicaragua, Kuwait, and India.

I am very conscious of wearing existing friendships thin with chronic talk of the gains and losses of living with MS.   I AM SOMETIMES SO BORED WITH MYSELF!  I never envisioned having most of my waking life filled with thoughts of diet, strength, walking, survival, supplements, finding a bathroom fast, and the psychic fortitude it takes to keep to the high road.

I need you all out there.  Very much.   I love people;  find them utterly fascinating, challenging, precious, disappointing, courageous and inspiring.  I used to be so ‘out there’ in the river of it…but now I stay closer to home.  I have marginal energy and my tolerance level for just normal, day-to-day stress is close to zero.  What is a life-lover like me to do?   I muse.   I write.   I do my best to remain visible.  Not just visible but BRIGHT!

My interior landscape is utterly entertaining to me, and now I see that there are those of you out there connected in some way.  My boat has been cast on the sea for a wild ride, captained by just me.  I’m a curious person and happy more than not but sometimes, living in the valley of the waves is a bit much on the girl so I want you to know your presence shows up like a light and it’s enough to have me skip from crest to crest and forget the valley altogether.

Thanks.

XX C.

Intelligent Life

 

"Figure"      2002       ceramic       5"x3"

"Figure", Â Â Â 2002 , Â Â ceramic, Â 5"x3"

 

What is intelligent life?

I know a few people I consider intelligent life. All the animals and creatures I consider intelligent life.   The entire natural kingdom of plants and minerals have an intelligence about them.

What is the defining factor in my assessment here?

I suppose it would be the easy, surrendered trust that we are held…. by that I mean that we are not alone,  we have support beyond what we know,   we KNOW very little and there IS a way to be guided,  supported and nurtured by the universal life force.

The creatures, humans, minerals and plants I prefer to have as company all seem to effortlessly drink from this waterfall available to us.

When I try to decide things on my own without checking in to this vast store of natural intelligence,  I get totally screwed up.   Then I scrap the plan that sounded so brilliant, get quiet and LISTEN.   Just listen.   And ALWAYS from the silence comes intelligent life.  Every time.

The Brightness

1985   textile design    pigment on wool

1985, Â Â textile design, Â Â Â pigment on wool

 

The river yesterday ran muddy and full.   After the rain and clouds moved over the brightness took my breath away.  Electric blue sky, impossibly scented air and everything abandoned to the opening after the long grey.  I took my blanket and laid it in the damp and yellow drying grasses;  near enough to the water to see a grandmother and young girl hand in hand happily walking the riverbed up to their knees. They saw me and turned around.  I was glad they guarded their time together like that.

I let the sun have me.  Too long, it seems, as when I tried to get up,  I couldn’t.

My legs and arms were weak and rubbery;  disobedient and foreign.

MS and heat just don’t do well together but sometimes my brain just has selective listening to it’s archives.

What to do?

First, let’s try talking to ourself:  “Cathy, you can do this.   What the hell is happening to me?  There is NOTHING about this that I recognize.  Try again..  Nope.  Not working.”

My knees are muddy from trying to solve the puzzle of standing up with no support.

OK..  I laugh… I LAUGH!  What else is there to do?

Interestingly, the laughing releases some of the panic and muscle constraint and I am vertical; dirty and vertical.

Actually,  what I took away from that day was gratitude for the undeniable changeability of it all..  mood, weather, muscle capacity..   it really is the only thing we can count on..  The only thing.

Past is Present

naturally pigmented earth, Abiquiu, NM

naturally pigmented earth, Abiquiu, NM

 

Today is Memorial Day.   I am thinking about dirt.

My grandmother was a suburban shaman of sorts. She ran the cocktail party circuit with the best of them but never took it on as an identity. In fact, I think she abhorred the whole lot.

When she died, I was already living here in New Mexico. I returned to Michigan for her funeral. I took a private moment and walked in her beloved garden. Roses, raspberries, lilies of the valley in the shade under lilac trees. Her favorite were the peonies. I dug up a scarlet one and took it home on the plane. It was in my lap the whole time as I looked out the planes’ window and mused about legacy.

After I got home I planted it. I knelt down and dug a hole. Suddenly this strangely compelling urge to eat some of the earth around the roots of the plant overtook me. I didn’t know what was happening. I followed where I was being drawn to go and swallowed some of the dark, musky earth. It tasted somehow familiar.

Fast forward ten years to present day and we find an artist (me) using earth as her medium to create with. What I notice is the continual unfurling of the intelligence of the earth in me; things I know my grandmother knew are now finding me and being expressed through my art instead of a garden. It is interesting to me that this was never a ‘decision’ but a ‘calling’ and I was fortunate to hear. This legacy I experience is a very alive and vital thing. It has no beginning and no end in sight and helps me feel softer inside exactly because I can’t figure it out, have no urge to, and know without a doubt that it carries nothing but goodness and a prayer for me to BE more.

The Honey Guides

"GIFT"     2004      14"x2"     ceramic

"GIFT" 2004 14"x2" ceramic

 

THE HONEY GUIDES

Once upon a time there was a girl who had a secret place.
It was up on a hill covered in long grass.
Sometimes she would snuggle down and make a nest for herself
when her parents were bugging her or if she felt alone.
She never really fit well anywhere.

She was well liked though she belonged to no group.
Her best friends were Nature Spirits.
They would whisper and sing softly in her ear.
Her fledgling heart was always soothed.
As she grew older she returned again and again to her grassy hill
and the Spirits who tended her so long and so well.

One day she noticed that far away across the river, in a little cottage
Smoke was rising from the chimney.
In all these years from her secret spot she had never noticed this before.
She became curious and decided to pack a little bag
And make the long journey to the cottage.
She was cold. Perhaps she could find some warmth by the fire.
She walked for days, for years and a lifetime.
As she finally approached the cottage she heard laughter.
I sounded like a party.
She timidly knocked on the door and all the noise inside stopped.
The door creaked open and in a blaze of light and warmth she saw a table.
It was set with crystal and silvery things.
There were many places set at this table.
From each chair came a welcoming smile from the most radiant people
The girl had ever seen.
She felt warm and tingly inside as she noticed
There was a special place set just for her.

She sat and someone began to speak.
“We are the HONEY GUIDES. We are here to teach you about sweetness
And nurture and family and love.”
“We will hold your hand while you eat and your heart will grow
And you will always know where to go for food.”
And at that- a beautiful woman with golden hair
Began to sing a heartbreakingly beautiful song,
A blessing was given and the feast began.

The girl understood that her whole life so far was in preparation for this-
Her seat at the tribal table.
She was no longer alone.
She felt her heart grow wide and wider still.
And she saw it was true what she had been told;
That part of The Journey must be made alone
But for the heart to become ripe and full
One needs a hand to hold.

                            – Cathy Aten

Girl and a Horse

"GOOD DAY"    1990       monoprint       22x30"

"GOOD DAY" 1990 monoprint 22x30"

 

Today is one of those weird milestone days when I drag myself out of bed, everything is ‘dis-integrated’ in my body and it is raining and I wonder how the hell to do this life? The realities press in like sticky tar and I can’t find the brightness.

When I began this blog, a friend sent me a link to a guy diagnosed with pancreatic cancer who was an editor of the New York Times with a blog of his own and a giant listening audience as he spoke of symptoms, horror, depression, everything we all associate with disease.

When I think of widening my audience for my own blog here, I just can NOT go the way of shared suffering in such an overt way. It is seductive to do it and that shared experience is what makes support groups so vital.

Even, and especially on dark days such as today, the biggest and best parts of me remember the smooth and unyielding flow of SOMETHING larger than my pesky ‘woe-is-me’ self.

The last time I remember that heightened feeling; everyTHING in life is good, happened on Apache’s back. I’ve been going to a place called CHALLENGE NEW MEXICO which caters to disabled people like me. It’s a safe, loving, adept and compassionate oasis where we ride horses whose level of patience floors me.

Carlos is the true anchor of the place. He’s the cowboy who is big enough to hold all the chaos we ‘freedom-seekers’ bring with us and somehow channel it into life altering experiences of peace, perfection, possibility, hope and MUCHO FUN!

He told me once that he knew Apache, the horse, was in many, many people’s dreams after they had ridden him. Today, I remember and dream.

Community

 

"CONNECT"   <br>   2003 <br>   30" x 30"   <br> oil on panel

"CONNECT" 2003 30" x 30" oil on panel

 

I attended a workshop once and learned something.   The question was asked: “If you want to know what you truly love in this world, watch what you do all the time with no coaxing”.

I am a watcher.   I have a favorite coffee shop I go to where I feel totally at home and am always greeted by name with a genuine smile from behind the counter. There are, admittedly, many kinds of love but I can safely say I love the people who work there. They are real, funny, compassionate, irreverent, wise, without attitude, curious and diligent in delivering a class act experience. ‘Case you’re wondering, it is THE STATION in the Railyard…

This is what I do there: grab a cup of coffee, read the paper or better yet, a great and shiny magazine and I muse. I watch people; how they relate to one another or themselves. I feel the slight shifts in energy as one person arrives or leaves. I listen to the train blow it’s whistle and feel a prickly thrill thinking about some adventure.

Being there feels inspiring to me. I design art projects. I sketch on napkins. The life of an artist can be isolating at times. I get sick of myself and then I go to THE STATION. I go alone 99% of the time because this particular kind of time is a part of my work day. It might look to the outside world like ‘time off’ but for me, this is vital. I get things done. I get to take the pulse of my town. All the regulars support one another. These people are chosen family. My life is richer because of them and the environment they sustain. I spend so much time watching, registering, gathering information that when I choose to write or make a work of art it just sort of ARRIVES with a good deal of integrity already in it. As the form takes shape there is an ease to the execution because of all that has come before.

I love the fact that I have enough years on me to know the places and people who allow me to feel most naturally myself; no performance.

Diet

"SHELLS'  <br>   ceramic     1994   <br>   5

The other day I took my dog for a drive to the river. She splashed around while I sat and mused in the sun. It was perfect.
Driving home I pass this great restaurant with an outdoor cafe, a stellar view of the mountains and guacamole to die for which they make at your table. I can’t help myself! I turn in and park. It is just too summery, too dreamy of a day and I’m in it with both feet.

I have kept my diet so very clean for so very long in my quest for health. I eat mostly raw (salads, veggies, smoothees, fruit sparingly, some grains and quite a bit of protein). I thought I could just have the fabulous guacamole and forgo THE CHIPS! But it just didn’t work out that way.

Anyone challenged by living with a chronic illness knows the desire that is always scratching at the door to BE NORMAL! I hate going to restaurants and being what I call a ‘food person’ which translates to really high maintenance ordering and a curl of the lip from the waitperson. On this summer day, I threw caution to the wind and went for the unadulterated pleasure of eating without decision making or anxiety. IT WAS GREAT! I was happy.

The next day I could not walk.
The day after that I could not walk.
Today, the feeling is just barely coming back to my legs.

Specific foods are debilitating for me and I know it but hedonistic desire overtakes me occasionally and I get my lesson. AGAIN.

The corn has an allergic effect on me because of all the fungus it picks up when processed. Raisins act the same on my body for similar reasons. When dealing with a health challenge such as mine, one needs to know about chemistry, psychology, food combining, environmental issues, ad infinitum… I find it marginally interesting however there are many ways I’d prefer to use my life energy rather than what feels like such a ‘me-centric’ existence.

And so I rebel.
And then I can’t function.
And then I choose again to get up, dust myself off and begin again.

Without chips.

People

detail of "The Family"  <br> 1996    10" x 3" varies >br>  ceramic

detail of "The Family"  1996   10" x 3" varies   ceramic

 

 

A friend told me he’d give me the shirt off his back if I needed it.   I could tell he told the truth.  I saw a woman put herself in the middle of a median with heavy traffic and hold a sign asking for help. I could tell she really needed it. But then I thought: “Cathy, who are you to decide if she looks like she really needs it or not? Isn’t the fact she has so visibly announced she is in need ENOUGH? I gave her some money just for the courage it took to ask but I would have liked it if I extended my hand just because she asked and not because I was proud of her because she did.

But why? Why are we so proud? Why is it considered better not to need? To appear independent and strong and capable? To put forward the whole theater of perfection and the satisfaction of: “I can do it myself.”?

I am bored silly with myself. I have plumbed the depths and am better for it but HONESTLY! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

What interests me now is connection. How you and I are similar. We each have frailties and strengths. Some more noticeable than others to the outside world but there just the same for each of us. As I learn to be with my own, I can better be with yours. I can’t honestly say that when I see a person more disabled than I, that I don’t recoil just a bit before I gather myself into the softhearted compassion growing in me. It has to do with this very visceral recognition of the non-existent line between us. Not:  ‘But for the grace of God, there go I’,  but: ‘There go I’….. In that instant, I am in the center of the creation/destruction myth as, on some level I register the gymnast in me, the hiker, the biker, the walker, the woman gliding across the cafeteria with all eyes on her as a poised woman, AND the stumbler, the needer of help, the canceler of plans, the -not-so-sure-of-herself-like-before woman.

I attract different people now. Real people with the courage to do what it takes to get all these pesky walls down, be real, be transparent…now THAT is strength! Are we each any different, really, than that girl in the median of the road holding the sign? There might be more graceful ways of asking but, in essence, I NEED YOU… and you need ME and pride has nothing to do with it, nothing at all…

One Small Thing

detail of installation    1992    10'x 10'   ceramic, earth

detail of installation 1992 10'x 10' ceramic, earth

 

Peace. Where do I find peace? A respite from all the ‘too much’ of the world?

I watch myself looking at the grasses by the roadside and heaving a sigh of relief. The fresh smell of my dog or how I’m having a ‘good-hair-day.’ This little bonsai tree I put in my bathroom just somehow eases everything toward slower and better when I stop to notice it. I’m bored with ‘filling’…filling every moment with SOME thing, whether it be a conversation, idea, chore, desire, ‘should’, ‘if-only’ or ‘maybe when’.

Give me emptiness, a whisper, a long, redwing blackbird song. The satisfaction of the just-before-dawn ‘almost light’, or the solid sense of a fully integrated body.  These are the treasures I covet.  I am rich.

Undone

"Thread"    22 x 30   monoprint    1999

"Thread" 22 x 30 monoprint 1999

The world is a mess. I have the sense it’s all supposed to be exactly the way it is but it’s a real challenge to negotiate these choppy waters with any modicum of grace whatsoever. Some days I am so seared by peoples’ negativity and alignment with ‘victimness’ that all I can do is retreat to my cave and just not participate. This used to have the scent of avoidance but now I feel smart. After paying close attention for so many years to my state of being; emotionally, physically and spiritually, the foundation of health and well being I enjoy is very EARNED and PRECIOUS. The life I now lead is infused with goodness on many levels. I am learning to protect myself in new (to me) and necessary ways. As we all move from chaos and ego-driven lives toward the interdependence of lives lived in balance with each other and the whole, we are asked to soften, listen and surrender to intelligence beyond what we know.

My physical body seems to be acting like a ‘canary-in-the-mine’ as I am given the opportunity to make choices that support my thriving in the world. I do this by letting go the false thrill of accumulation and numbness seemingly so seductive not too long ago. I FEEL things now; the shadowy and the light. I crave simplicity, candor and mystery. I’ve got God in my pocket and a feast for a life, AND I am known to cry heavy tears when it is all just too darn much.

My prayer today is to have the consciousness to do what it takes to reclaim my own sense of balance and well-being before I end up causing the suffering of anyone else by making them pay in some way because it all just seems much too much for one human being to hold by herself.

This or That

"Choice"    2007    12" x 12"    ceramic, lens

"Choice" 2007 12" x 12" ceramic, lens

Our whole reality is really about our point of view. Am I whole and perfect or flawed and ‘less than’? Is the day too hot or am I grateful I live in Santa Fe and not Michigan? Is my walker a giant red flag that screams disability or is it a support which helps me stand tall and retain some sense of grace?

I remember how long I put off going to the hospital supply store to look at walking aids. I finally took a good friend with me and, as it turns out, we laughed, met some great people, made an adventure out of the whole thing and look back on that day with great memories. It really taught me that my pride, vanity, desire to ‘look good’ and not draw too much attention to myself as a ‘less-than-perfect-specimin’ were all manufactured by my culturally conditioned mind. The empty space that arrived when I dropped all that boring theater is infinitely more interesting and is jam packed with possibility. I need FUN! I need RICHNESS! I need ADVENTURE! I need CREATIVITY! I need CONNECTION! The more I yield to the river of this journey of mine instead of throwing giant boulders in the way, the more room I have for the unexpected and mysterious; territory I thrive on.

Archaeology

"DIG"     2005   36"x 36"   m/m

Yesterday I felt positively radiant.

Today? Well…Let’s say major slippage has taken place.

You know, one of THE most exhausting things about this whole MS challenge is trying to figure out the cause of an effect… Why could I walk yesterday, have a reserve of clear energy and feel great about every darn thing, while today there are tears doing their best to push forward with no let up in sight, my foot curls under itself and my muscles ache and stiffen so I walk like Frankenstein? I am so tired and then I am afraid. Afraid that it will always be this way; that all the gorgeousness of yesterday will never be again…

UNTIL! Until I remember that CHANGE is the only constant! THAT is what I can count on!

So…. I go to work:

I go down the list and ask myself:

1. Do I need to drink more water?
2. Did I eat something that affected me? Or not eat at all?
3. Is there stress I need to handle somewhere?
4. Did I take all the stuff that supports me? (supplements, medication)
5. Was I out in the sun too long?
6. Did I use more energy than I can generate right now?
7. Did I stay too long with people who are too much ‘work’?
8. Did I take time to be silent today?
9. Did Spirit get too far away?
10. Did I forget to protect myself energetically out in the mad, mad world?
11. Did I not ask for help when I had the chance?

Each time this really scary loss of ground happens to me I contract into fear until I grab myself by the scruff of the neck (gently) and ‘re-up’ into life. The time it takes to do this gets less and less as I keep proving to myself that their really ARE causes for the effects and I am smart so I can find them, do what’s needed and carry on in some kind of graceful and radiant way.

When all is said and done, the gratitude I feel in ‘the return’ always brings me to my knees because in the shadowy recesses of my mind, I know it is not a given.

Connection

"SEEDS"   1995     ceramic     1"ea.

"SEEDS"  1993  ceramic  1" eachÂ

 

 

Where I live in New Mexico, s-p-a-c-e is the thing… It’s big here. VERY big. Bigger than us.

If you are smart, you have a healthy respect and curiosity about it. New Mexicans have been building walls around their homes for aeons to carve out a little bit of safety, intimacy, shade, ‘meness’. We know that Mother Nature rules because we’ve tested her once or heard about someone who did, and lost the bet.

It’s very seductive to build a wall. The separateness feels good initially. We can talk ourselves into believing we need ours for survival or perhaps comfort, but do we really? If I live in a suburb, do I need the giant lawn with the chain link around it? What do I lose while I’m basking in my independence? My neighbors’ name? What else?

I’m asking myself all these questions lately because I am changing. Instead of the protected space being the main event, the ‘space between’ interests me most.

I am editing my life in many ways and when all the STUFF is gone, there is room; room to feel myself, to feel you, to feel God, to feel my community, the people and ideas that call me and those which don’t. The ‘call’ actually becomes an audible cry, an electric current BETWEEN. The form of things loses it’s elan and the vibration excited by connection of some sort calls me- or repels me- but I can FEEL IT- where before I was too far removed.

I trust this new intelligence in me. Not intellectual, not manufactured in any way. It has an ease and rightness to it and the byproduct seems to be that the walls come tumbling down and the protection and armoring make no sense in the brightness of it all.

The Dinner Party

1992  50" x 36"  oil, canvas

"Couple" 1992 50" x 36" oil, canvas

 

I am going to give an imaginary dinner party because I don’t have the energy to give a real one.

This is WAY outside the box here but life is short…

This is who I’m inviting:

1. Jacques Cousteau

2. Katherine Hepburn

3. Ramana Maharshi

4. Lance Armstrong

5. Joseph Campbell

6. Queen Latifah

This is purely an intuitive list;  an ‘in the moment’ thing.
Hmm…Why these chosen ones?  What do I think I’d gain by sitting at their table?   What’s the draw?   What would they say to me?  What would they say to ME?  One thing each.. (this is fun).

                               *                *                *

Jacques:   “Always be curious but careful when you think you know.”
Katherine:   “Keep your own counsel. You’ll have more fun.”
Ramana:     “………………………………..” (silence)
Lance:    “Never say die, but you can cry.”
Joseph:    “Yield to the river.”
Queen Latifah:   “Make a big, elegant noise.”

Adventure

 

"Veil" <b> 1994 <b> 45" x 60" m/m
“Veil” 1994 45″ x 60″ m/m

There is a road I know deep in Georgia O’keeffe country. It runs 13 miles of dirt along the Chama river. I go there when I need to find God fast. When my prayer is cast too quickly or the content dulled by impatience, I drive. The motion slows me somehow. An hour outside of town I start to feel clean. The sage signals the approach of the river around the bend and there she is; rushing and sparkling and alive and free. It’s the freedom thing that always gets me. She is confined to her path, seldom fighting the bank, Most days she gleams contentedly or maybe bucking with the slight under pressure of who knows what. She seems content to murmur on the straightaway or thrash and yield to the bothersome boulders in her way. It doesn’t seem the destination is of interest but I could be wrong. The longer I sit, the less dense I become. My blood somehow moves to match her. A huge quiet lifts my weary humanness and floats me, destination unknown.

 

Having

Tree of Life, 1993<br> 30" x 18" x 3"<br> Media: ceramic

Tree of Life, 1993 30" x 18" x 3" Media: ceramic

Today I did an experiment. I wanted to see if I could stay centered all day in the feeling of ‘havingness’. This is different than ‘everything’s OK’. It’s more like the slow drip of nectar into the body, muscles, nerves, organs, heart and mind from a small straw at the top of the head. I wanted to see if I could somehow reverse this feeling I’ve had of losing ground.

I have so many stellar guides and wayshowers along this path; physical therapists, pilates instructor, apitherapist (bee venom therapy), nutritionist, doctors, chiropracter and therapists among them. All this energy moving outside myself to keep afloat and heal. I want someone to FIX ME! I want that other me who had enough energy to get a pedicure or give beautiful dinner parties for my friends. What if the answer is not ‘out there?’

Yesterday I visited a fellow artist at his studio. My balance has been so poor lately. I stumbled and grabbed his outstretched arm. We walked together slowly and comfortably over the gravel and through his door. It was natural, strong, compassionate, and easy to reach for and receive his support. I felt strangely whole. We were both enriched by those few intimate moments though we didn’t speak of it. Sometimes I thing independence is highly overrated. It scares me to write this sentence but it often seems the more I lose, the more I have. This pesky ego just doesn’t want to lie down.

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