Putting the Pieces Together

"GRID",  2001,  5' x 5',  canvas, oil, modeling paste

"GRID", 2001, 5' x 5', canvas, oil, modeling paste

 

Dealing with a chronic illness is exhausting.

Not just the drop-dead fatigue that goes with MS but the deliberation of what tack to follow healing-wise.

Do I take the few medications available with their side effects and spotty results or do I follow alternative approaches?

The fact is that there are plenty more questions spiraling around this huge surge of autoimmune-challenged people than there are answers.

All I know after 9 years of dealing with MS is that when I choose a particular form of support;  whether it be diet, energy work, Western medicine,  alternative approaches,  prayer or nothing at all,  EVERY cell in my body has to be behind my choice.  There can be no question there.   Period.

I have been drawn to a number of approaches to the challenge my body is faced with.   I regret nothing.  Not a thing.

I have chosen to spend the next week at the MAYO CLINIC and get tested from top to bottom in hopes of returning home with a clear baseline to work with.   The whole experience so far feels clear and kind and thorough and adept.  I haven’t left home yet so we’ll see what kind of an adventure this turns out to be.

I am grateful for this opportunity.   Not eager, I can tell you but curious,  willing and committed.

The journey really starts when I press the  ‘publish’  button here and walk out the door.   It will be the first time I have travelled without someone along to help with wheelchair,  luggage,  security,  finding bathrooms and then finding another one!  The frailty part of MS is really apparent away from home.   Nowhere to hide so I just put a slight attitude on,  dress elegantly,  spray on a little Chanel #5 and move into the theater of it all.   Pretty entertaining,  I can tell you.  Entertaining and poignant.  People are kind in heartbreakingly beautiful ways.  I see that I remind people that  ‘but for the grace of God, there go I.’  I am happy to play that part but this trip is about me.

I’ll keep you posted.

Protection

"SHIELD",   2004,   14" x 6" x 2",  ceramic

"SHIELD", 2004, 14" x 6" x 2", ceramic

 

I talk alot about becoming softer and leaving my ancient armoring behind.

When the goal,  as for me,  is moving in the direction of that heart-of-the-artichoke I spoke of yesterday;  that impossibly young and tender green can’t seem to exist without the protection of all the leaves that come before..

I am a woman who wants to see the best in people.   When I meet you I can usually sense your core of goodness.   The trouble is that often, just because I have the capacity to experience the presence of that thing,  it often is not actualized in a person.   I get in trouble because I tell myself stories that it is.

So…  I leave myself open..  open to the disappointment and grief that come with the realization that the circle cannot complete in a relationship because I practiced selective awareness-  meaning I saw what I wanted to see.

I have spent a lifetime as a sieve.. .leaking my own precious energy out into the world.   I know now that this quality of mine comes from a severe sense of lack.. .what I call  ‘not knowing how to get to the well’.

Now I know the value of my essential self.   I have become rigorously selective.   Sometimes it feels bitchy.   But really,  it’s just how change happens,  I think..  The pendulum swings ALL THE WAY OVER and things look messy and chaotic for awhile until it returns to a place of perfect economy and grace.

The grace I now experience occasionally is earned.  It comes from the rigor of looking at not what I WANT but what IS..
I have to step outside myself to see this subjective point-of-view.

In lieu of  ‘armoring-up’  all over again to gain a modicum of even a false sense of security,  I am on my knees in gratitude that I have done the work it has taken for me to approach the sense of feeling SAFE.   Not safe FROM something but safe IN the knowledge and sense of what it feels like to be in the river of life and open to the wisdom available to all of us,  just one step to the side of the carefully constructed personality we love so much.

I’m bored with my personality.  I like it and it serves me really well but I want the thing that is on the other side of what I know.

My challenge with MS is my task master in getting me there.   I HAVE TO OPEN TO SOMETHING NEW  (or crawl in a closet and die..)    NO!   LIFE IS CALLING!  And I’m up for the trip because now I know that I DON’T KNOW.  I don’t know the way.  I don’t know the rules.   I don’t know the moves.   All I know is that I don’t know.

And that leaves plenty of room for miracles.

Fear

 

detail of ceramic bowl,   1999,  14"h x 16"d

detail of ceramic bowl, 1999, 14"h x 16"d

 

My God…  friends are getting divorced and rushing at it in uncivil and unkind ways,  people are losing their jobs and homes and perceived fortunes,  there is unexplained illness and general alarm stalking us all…

What is this upheaval all about?

My reaction to all this seems just slightly heretical.  My sense is it is all good.  Yes,  it feels baaaaadddddd….  But I still think it is good.

Good for us to give ourselves, our culture,  our chosen gods over to disintegration.   A clean sweep is what’s called for here,  it seems.  We need this kick in the butt to rearrange ourselves,  our precious chosen identities,  beliefs,  relationships and ways of being and doing.  Ways of eating and working and relating and thinking.   It just ain’t workin’ no more…   We’ve got new job descriptions coming in the mail.  The earth is shaking and boiling and the atmosphere charged with that acrid green scent right before a huge electric storm and we are all trying to make our way to the mailbox,  gingerly edging our way around ground fissures.

The weird thing about this is that I know we’re all just fine.  Even though my right foot curls under itself,  my hand turns blue and I can barely put my leg through my trousers,  I’m FINE.   Isn’t that the weirdest thing?   My friends divorce acrimoniously, every state is going broke and we’re just fine.

Over the years,  many people have responded to my artwork such as the one above as  ‘scary’.  I took offense for awhile then I realized they were reacting to the shadow which always seems to make itself known in each piece I create;  sometimes more overtly  than others.   When I work,  I never really DECIDE what a piece will be.  I let it have it’s own life because then it can teach me.

The piece above was like a meditation to make.   One form made over and over and over and pressed into the bowl-shape.  When it was finished,  I wondered who the girl was who created that thing?   Over time I have come to see it as a visual representation of the discrimination and innate protectionism I have always had very active in me.  Something like the very soft, vulnerable heart of the artichoke. Takes a little work to get there but well worth the effort.

I really have the sense we are all being asked to allow that vulnerable,  pure and true heart to be more accessible to ourselves and each other. In the way of healing in my life it looks like making sure I connect,  like through this blog,  or out in the world in small ways like holding someone’s eye a nano-second longer in gratitude as a door is opened for me.  A general softening out of the ‘I AM AN ISLAND’ thing…

The discomfort,  irritation and madness of change is horrifying.   I have the graduate course in that going on,  here in my body.   I AM afraid. But just to the side of that fear is a strange sort of peace.   I just have to keep reminding myself that it is right and good that I have no idea what this is all about;  in the world or here in my sweet body.. .and just trust in the knowledge that nothing new can be born without something else giving way..

The CREATION/DESTRUCTION  myth is my dance partner and I am wearing my best perfume.

Me vs. Me

 

"TWO",  2006,  40 x 40",  ceramic, earth, wood

"TWO", 2006, 40 x 40", ceramic, earth, wood

 

This is a favorite piece of art.  There are two small ceramic balls inside each square of the grid I placed over the whole surface.  The balls are all at varying distances from one another.  When I made this I was thinking about relationships with significant others but today it makes me think of how I relate to myself.

See how the tension changes inside each square according to how close or how far away from one another the balls are?

It’s like during a day how we feel good about ourselves,  how we think:  “cool…this is going well and I’m on a roll here..”,  then you open a bill and you distance yourself from yourself only to go out in the world to do an errand and someone opens the door for you with a genuinely kind and heartful smile and life is different once again.

I sense that the suffering the Buddha talks about has to do with this very thing:  that we have an erratic relationship with ourselves,  we are not trustable in being rigorous about keeping our consciousness like a river;  softly easing around the boulders in the way while surrendered to the movement.  Not fighting it,  not loving it,  not telling someone about it to make ourselves feel good,  not hiding from it….  JUST BEING IT.

I’m going to try that today.

Rock

 

"BLACK ROCK",   2002,  40" x 60",  m/m

"BLACK ROCK", 2002, 40" x 60", m/m

 

I remember hiking down an old riverbed around Eastertime one year by myself.  It was a perfect day with clear,  modest heat and an impossibly blue sky.

As I walked,  the old riverbed opened into fabulous  ‘dishes’  of sandstone;  large spanses of really smooth,  slightly concave places where the water used to just slide over without making a fuss.

This place was hypnotic.   Held all around by 30′ canyon walls with a few delicate willow trees  pushing up through the rock in places.  It was silent,  felt safe and I never wanted to leave.  I took all my clothes off and laid down in the middle of this old riverbed on my stomach.   I don’t really cry much but that day I turned my cheek to the rock and sobbed my guts out.   I asked the stone to take everything in me that felt like  ‘too much to hold.’  At that time I was unhappy in a marriage and confused and lost.   Somehow,  the power in this rock place I had stumbled on helped me remember my essential self apart from any schism I felt at home or anywhere else.

The rock actually did take and hold all the overwhelm and emotional and physical upheaval I was carrying that was just too much for one human to be expected to manage by herself.  So that rock let me know in a big way that I didn’t have to.

On that day I started to understand that rocks,  in their deeply contracted density,  have the ability to hold… they can hold for us and they also hold archives of knowledge we have no clue about.

When I had left all my tears there in the riverbed,  dressed and started back,  I saw a little wall of rock stuck back aways in a canyon hollow. When I went to look I found an old,  old dwelling.   Someone else had known the power of that place.

I think we get called to go where we need to go if we listen.   To this day,  if I feel less-than-strong in any way,  I remember the warmth of that rock on my wet cheek and stomach and it helps me move on.

Asking For Help

 

"DISTANCE",  1995,  6' x 4',  wool flannel

"DISTANCE", 1995, 6' x 5', wool flannel

 

My nature is a go-it-alone-girl.

It’s not that I don’t like people.   I do.  Very much.   We are unpredictable at best but I like the human race just fine.

Since I am a  ‘watcher’  and a creative type,  I spend a good deal of time alone.

I love my own company…  thankfully.

Since I have steeped in solitude most of my life,  when I needed something there was usually one person there to ask-   ME!

I became capable.  I can make things,  fix things,  handle tools,  figure stuff out,  transform things,  design things..  manage with a high degree of satisfaction.

Now things are quite different.

I need help shopping for groceries.   Getting on and off a horse.   Having enough money to buy medication,  supplements in order to function, putting my walker together,  walking my dog,  getting stuff from my car inside the house,  lifting my artwork,  getting supplies to do the work, installing the work,   working at all..,  cleaning my house,  getting my mail,  taking the garbage out,  cooking.

Everything takes longer.  Truly spontaneous time is a thing of the past.

My family wants to know how they can help.   They really want to.   I don’t know what to tell them.   They live far away and can’t shop for me,  do errands,  stuff that I really need.

I hate asking for help.   It’s a language I don’t know.  Yesterday,  a friend said:  “Well, you could invite someone to drive you up to Abiquiu (2 hours north of Santa Fe and a favorite place of mine) and gather the earth you need for your art project.”  She said it in a way that sounded like it would be fun to have that kind of adventure WITH ANOTHER PERSON.   You see,  normally, when I am around other people for extended periods of time I lose myself,  my precious SELF.  I have worked so hard and long to find her that I can’t risk the chance of losing her.. so I stay alone alot.    But now I can’t.  Or at least I seem to be entering a time where I need people.

Doesn’t this sound sort of pathetic?   When people say:  “It takes a village,”  meaning we are absolutely NOT islands unto ourselves,  it sounds like a cultural revelation…   I know that the issue I am talking about here;  that of moving from a sort of  ‘self-centric’ existence to the big circle of life is not my issue alone.  It is cultural.   National.   A wide, wide world- sized issue.

But the healing starts at home.  In my heart.   Here,  where I stand.

The whole idea of inviting people I care about to participate in my life is a whole different kettle of fish than coming from the place of;  ‘oh my God.. I need help with this and I didn’t used to.’

I really have a great life.   It is full.  I am satisfied.  Not just satisfied but eager,  awed and inspired.

Shame to keep that to myself…

Legacy From My Dad

 

"TRIBE",  2005,  10" x 25" x 4",  ceramic, wood, steel

"TRIBE", 2005, 10" x 25" x 4", ceramic, wood, steel

 

Roger Wilson Aten died when he was 51.

He was an alcoholic.  That’s not a great lead-in but true,  none the less..

He was an industrial designer for General Motors and in charge of the Styling Department.   His co-workers gave him an award for  ‘boss of the year’.  That really confused us at home because he was piss-in-his-pants drunk every night.

After all these years of therapy,  reflection,  ‘almost-forgiveness’  and musing-  here’s what I’m left with:

I loved him.

He loved me.   I could tell because he spent hours in is workshop showing me how to use giant power tools,  work with my hands and trust my instincts.  He seldom spoke.   We worked silently together and I learned by osmosis.   In his workshop it smelled like turpentine and wood.   When he was on an extended business trip and I was a child,  I went down there and drank some turpentine.  I got my stomach pumped.  I think I did that because I missed him.

He loved nature.  He built a Sunfish sailboat in the workshop by hand.  Wooden.  Red.
We took it on a trailer up to our summer cottage in Northern Michigan  (which he designed).  He taught us to sail.  We waterskied behind a powerboat he drove.   Mostly he was drunk but we let that slide and played along because he was so happy.  And that was unusual.
We 4 kids caught minnows in a square net early in the morning and he took us fishing.

I think my mother ended up hating him.  She was a bitter thing..  Hated anything corporate and constantly tore him down about GM.   Here he was, trained as an artist and truly a creative being but also knew how to manage people well.   GM gave him alot of money to forgo the active creative part and manage the people doing what he wanted to do.   I sort of became his wife in a way-  I can’t remember any overt sexual abuse but I,  as a sensitive young girl,  could sense what kind of emotional support he needed on his return from work each day; entertaining?,  distracting?,  ego-building?,  soothing?    Mortifying to write that but we must stare our shadows down or they’ll level us..eh?
He was an incredible provider…  We had everything and more.

Except him.

He was gone to us.

I think he drank to fill the empty place left by a cold-hearted woman,  a life spent providing for children he had no idea or interest,  probably, in parenting,  and starving for the connection to his highly creative self.   He died in his sleep.  Of a heart attack they say.   Next to his girlfriend as my parents had finally divorced a couple years earlier.   I think he just had had enough and let go..  I think he died of a broken heart.

At the funeral I sat between my mother and his girlfriend.   My siblings all chose to leave the church because of,  well..pick your reason… I think they made a wiser choice than I…

I stayed and fought to keep my stomach down.   It was over-the-edge family theater.

It’s been 35 years since he died.

This is what I got from my father:

….a true love and connection to nature,  a tendency toward silence,  a trust in my creative abilities and intuitive skills,  knowledge of working with tools large and small,  an upbringing safe from financial concerns,  a love of driving and fast cars,  a love of adventure,  needing long drives alone in open landscapes to clear my energy,  the choice to follow my artistic dreams without question and his unconditional support in this,  the ability to read energy and adjust myself accordingly,  the  questionable attribute of never asking for help,   a tendency to choose men to be in a relationship with who are emotionally removed,  a general distrust of the stability and safety in ANY situation as I’m expecting some weird or horrifying thing to happen,  a general deep weariness in my body and psyche as a result of being on hyper-alert all the time.

Love is complicated.

I am….

 and that is the true gift in the end.

Writing on the Wall

 

"MARKINGS",  2003,  30"x40", m/m

"MARKINGS", 2003, 30"x40", m/m

 

 Do you think we,  as human beings,  prefer to live in a state of familiarity so much so that we actually recreate the same level of stress in our bodies no matter what,  just so we unconsciously get that weird comfort level of struggle we are used to?

I know,  I know…  we’ve heard it all before,  these metaphysical gyrations that one could just pass off as the mind working overtime to find reasons for a less-than-whole physical vessel.

I believe my birthright is a radiant,  healthy,  fully functioning body which allows me to move through life with ease and grace.  So… if that is my sense of things,  my task is to ferret out any and every mindset,  habit,  less-than-conscious behavior,  outside influence,  emotional muck and dietary deviation that keeps me from THAT.

My nature is,  at baseline;  curious,  peaceful,  grateful,  creative,  adventuresome and kind hearted.

Somewhere along the line I began protecting that very core of me by armoring myself up,  becoming hypervigilant and expectant of a less-than-thriving existence.   This way of being has become a uniform I feel naked without.

I am blessed to have a courageous and connection-loving spirit which has kept my sight usually an inch or two above the muck and mire.

My body can’t heal on subsistence rations of juicy,  gooey,  gorgeous,  luminous living.

I’m going to watch where I’m  ‘pinched’  and invite utter fullness knowing that I’ll need some help reacquainting myself with exactly what that is and how it feels in my body.

I think it will be like learning a new language;  awkward at first but by and by various  ‘tipping points’  are met and my comfort level will build accordingly.

Just writing about this makes me feel at the threshold of health. Gotta go with that……

Layers of a Day

"Leaves",  12" x 12" x 5",  2006,  ceramic, earth

"Leaves", 12" x 12" x 5", 2006, ceramic, earth

 

The intensity of  ‘disintegration’  around and in me is profound these days.

People are getting divorced,  ill,  angry,  scared and numb.

The only sense I can make out of the whole thing is that every part of this earthly rearrangement we are in the middle of is helping us give up our addiction to comfort and begin to reacquaint ourselves with the power in EMPTINESS.

We,  as humans and a community of cultures,  need this rugged overhaul.

It feels bad.  It’s inconvenient.   It is scary.  We’re all in the dark to some extent as our security reserves;  whether they be physical strength or monetary or closely held beliefs or beloved jobs and homes  are being challenged.

What used to work,  doesn’t.

I keep using my own body as a petrie dish and watch to see what grows.  Something exciting and terrifying is happening.

We all know that nothing new can happen unless the vase that is filled to the brim  (investments, physical prowess, comfort of velcro-ed on beliefs)  is emptied.

Then there is a period of drought.  Yuk.   We hate not being comfortable.   I hate not being comfortable.

BUT THEN…  then the vase begins to fill.  Relationships are rearranged,  abandoned or discovered.  We barter for services.   I see that my disabilities are not the death sentence I once felt they were but that my creativity is fuller,  richer,  wider than before my diagnosis.

We begin to make a difference instead of going after being different.

My own comfort is inextricably linked to yours.

I find out my neighbors name.

It is a horrible thing that humans don’t change unless we have to.

Now we have to.  I have to.

I am just going to trust that everything is as it should be.  Fighting it doesn’t work,  anyway.

So,  today,  I’ll take a few energetic steps back and try to just witness the underlying perfectness unfolding and leave my judgement and complaints behind.

Just for today.

10%

"THE FIELD",  45"x45",  2001,  m/m

"THE FIELD", 45"x45", 2001, m/m

 

If we only use 10% of our brain power,  what is the other 90% doing?

And how can we corral it’s immense power and,  in my case,  help me heal?

I am constantly walking on the razors’ edge here;  by that I mean I pay close attention to working WITH this health challenge as far as not making it the enemy but not my lover either!   Sort of letting it have it’s voice and I try to listen.

I think about that as well as recognizing that our birthright (my sense is) is a whole,  radiant,  fully functioning,  fully capably physical form and this challenge is on my plate to find my way there.

It’s like;  surrender to the thing or fight it but with every smidgeon of consciousness I can muster.

That’s one of the things that makes me weary-  that constant readjusting I do when I realize I’m too far over into the  “I hate the way my body is”  and make the correction to soften into more of a  “What does my body and Spirit need in this moment?”

I think of that 10% brain access and my immediate reaction is that I don’t know how to get to the other 90%,  but that is not entirely true…

On my altar at home I have flowers.   They have been there for three weeks now.   They still look fresh and new.   I had the same flowers in the house and they lasted for a week and a half.  Everyday,  I look at the ones on my altar and go:  “Now, that is unbelievable.”  I keep saying that and not really GETTING that something out of the ordinary is happening there.

I think it has alot to do with the elusive 90%.

Today,  I’m going to sit before my altar and have an out loud conversation with God.  I may get angry….and if I do,  I’m just going to let it rip. I am going to ask for some of that 90% to be available for me in my healing.   I’m going to ask for some of my dense,  habitual ways of being human to be taken and replaced by a luminous transparency;  that very thing that is greening the flowers-  I am going to ask for that thing.

Promise

 

"BRANCH",  2002,  40"x30",  m/m

"BRANCH", 2002, 40"x30", m/m

 

Funny.. (sort of) that yesterday began with such promise and turned into something well..  I guess I’d say;  ‘other than that.’

I went riding and wore black.  It was hot. Very hot.

Heat is one nemesis of MS.

Midway out I began to lose feeling in my right side and couldn’t grip either the rein nor the saddle on that side.  I was slipping to the left in a big way.   By the time I got back,  I could barely get off the horse.

The slow tears started their way down my cheek and I couldn’t hide..

What I was met with was pure kindness..

Carlos,  the main ranch man,  took off my hat and wiped away my tears.   He looked me in the eye and told me a funny story about taking women out to a romantic place for dinner and having to pull out a flashlight to see the menu and how his body disobeys him sometimes and just won’t get with the program.  He wanted to make sure I knew I was not alone in my challenges.  It was just what I needed in that moment.

The kindness of everyone there,  down to the big,  black lab,  Midnight,  left me less frustrated at my loss of function and my vulnerability.

I don’t want to falter.   I don’t want to have people see me falter.

Why the hell not?

Does it make me less than perfect?

The great people I rode with seemed to like having me there.   We were all doing the same thing-   letting the  ‘too fast,  too much,  too peopled,  too noisy,  too uncivil world behind for just an hour.   We opened ourselves up to that ever-present thing that is bigger than us,  that heals all our woes and emptiness by just being there and letting us see her;  NATURE in her best dress.  So beautiful that we get amnesia and let ourselves be taken..  taken just one step sideways where broken and tired bodies are moot points and all we care about is how She holds our heart in Her hand and wipes away all the tears we’ve ever cried.

So-  that’s what I was left with after yesterday’s segue from ; ‘This is going to be a GREAT day.  I can just feel it.”
To-  ‘Oh my God..  I don’t think I can stay on this horse.”

Just one tiny step to the side of terror,  frustration and helpless feelings are the kindness and acceptance and heal-all salve of fellow humans who will show you your innate perfection when you need to be reminded most.   And NATURE..  her door is always open for us to remember ourselves beyond the grit and grace of our pesky humanness.

Today,  I’m just taking a deep breath.

My Morning

"DREAM",  1999,  30"x30",  m/m

"DREAM", 1999, 30"x30", m/m

 

I just love early.  Early morning just as dawn eases in.

So full of promise,  don’t you think?

Or not…  depending on your mood.

But today…  TODAY FEELS GOOD!

I’m going horsebackriding.  Then picking up some rocks I had drilled for a project.   Horses.. rocks..  what else does a girl need?

Some days,  like today,  just arrive with goodness built in.  Whatever shows up on my plate today feels ‘doable’.

Of course,  the powers that be may have the last laugh but this morning…  I AM HAPPY.  I FEEL GOOD.

I’m going to prepare myself,   open my door,  step out in the world and be curious;  curious to see what particulars light up in front of me like a Christmas tree asking to be noticed for the absolute perfection they are….

I know I’ll feel surprised..  surprised at what actually shows up as perfection..

It’s liable to be small things like how my dogs’ eyes fill when I tell her I love her,  or the fact I can easily slip onto the horses’ back without making a fool of myself in the process,  or that when I pick up the rocks today at the stoneyard,  the guys are all proud and puffed up at the work they’ve done for me because they know it’s good and will make me happy… these things matter…  these human things;  so small,  so precious.

Today,  I’m just grateful for the opportunity to step out the door on my own steam and witness the whole,  gorgeous theater of it all.

Average Eyes

"Critical Mass",   2006,  30"x30",  matches, earth, wood

"Critical Mass", 2006, 30"x30", matches, earth, wood

 

I would guess that the only thing I would attach the word  ‘sin’  to would be to go through life with average eyes.

I was lying in bed the other morning and it was early..  just after the sun came up and it had rained hard the day before.  I laid there watching the aspen leaves shivering in that ‘young-girl’ way they do.  Mourning Doves called,   light did that thing it does every day; it arrives.  And we never question it.

The world feels like one big complaint these days..   lay-offs, no sales, reduced nest egg, medical bills..

And yet- there is a gaining upon us.   I can sense it right behind the eyes swollen from tears and the clenched jaw with caved chest curling in to protect the heart.

We are being called to order.

I am being called to order.

Step up to the plate with your armor off and curiosity high.

For me,  this means things like watching what shows up BETWEEN the worried thoughts and  ‘make-wrongs’  that are so damn easy to do when life feels bigger than us.

I’m going to watch where my heart opens today.  and tomorrow..  and the next day.

I’m going to keep myself from blaming the world at large for my ‘condition’ and soften my narrowed eyes and really take a LOOK.

I’m going to look at the slight sparkle of hope I have,  just waiting for me to dust it off so I can see;

See the miraculous changes happening in a world so bent on comfort and the security of  ‘sameness’.  We ain’t got that no more..  I ain’t got that no more..  My body is not comfortable.   I can’t rely on the comfort of expecting it to do what it did.

So..  Is everything ‘less-than’ because of this?  I don’t think so.

As all our devotion to what WAS evaporates,  there is ROOM for something beyond what we know.

And how exciting is THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today,  I’m just going to look behind the discomfort of change for what might want to come forward and make a place for it to do that.

Just for today.

Woman Becoming

"Woman Becoming", 1995, 56"x40",m/m

"Woman Becoming", 1995, 56"x40",m/m

 

WOMAN BECOMING

 

Woman becoming.

Dark kelp forest holds her safe

Till’ she wants your eyes.

.

Butterfly

 

Untitled,  ceramic,  2001,  8"x4"x1"

Untitled, ceramic, 2001, 8"x4"x1"

 

Did you know that the time between a caterpillar and when it emerges as a butterfly,  inside the chrysalis is LIQUID?

Yes,  the caterpillar forms the pod-like nest for itself and withdraws from the world.

It begins it’s transformation by surrendering to a liquid state.

It’s innate intelligence gathers into the next stage of existence.

This time it can fly!

The butterfly scratches a way out of the chrysalis and warms itself in the sun.  Gets all the kinks and wrinkles out and lifts off….

I am enchanted with all this as I become aware of the changes in me…   I see in my face that my beauty is deeper,  my well of knowledge is more,  my light is gaining and my connection to Spirit is unbreakable.  I see these things;  notice these changes and yet,  MY BODY DOESN’T WORK RIGHT!  How could this discrepancy be happening?   It does not rationally make sense to me.

And rationality doesn’t have a THING to do with it.

My sense is that my psyche has it’s own pace for evolving,  gathering,  becoming.

My body is hiking its’ own hike-  I like to think it is in that liquid state- similar to the caterpillar / butterfly.

Perhaps,  because my physical body is denser than my psyche,  it needs time and rest and the state of withdrawal from the world to make the leap from caterpillar to flying thing;  to catch up,  so to speak, with the other changes going on in me.

SOMEthing is happening…. I am so grateful to be curious instead of bitter.

Reserve

"GATHERING",  2002,  40"x40",  m/m

"GATHERING", 2002, 40"x40", m/m

 

Energy.

How to get it.

How do YOU get it?  Really,  I’m wanting to know.

My sense is that for YEARS,  ages,  eons,  I’ve been spending my energy on others before myself.

I’ve spent it as fast as I got it.

I used to have what felt like an inexhaustible reserve.   Now I don’t.

I am pretty empty,  it seems.

I do one thing per day and I’m spent.

This is not the quality of life that I thrive on.   And we don’t change,  it seems,  until those imaginary rainbow-colored, glittery stories we’ve lived by all this time go grey.

So…  here’s what I’m doing:

Eat green and healthy.   Lie down when I need to.  Go to bed REALLY EMBARRASSINGLY early.   Say no more often.  Meditate.
Keep my home ordered and clean so it’s always restful to look around.   Not do ANYTHING I don’t have to.  Stop worrying so much and become soft in trust.  Stay out of my head.  Learn stuff from my dog.

I could go on but really,  I want to keep this simple.

Here’s my litmus test:

If it feels good, ok.

If it feels hard in any way,  let it go without judgement.

Simple,  huh?

We’ll see…….

I am serious-   tell me what YOU do! I need some ideas, ok?

Fullness of Being

"WHITE TREE",  2004,  12"x12",  m/m

"WHITE TREE", 2004, 12"x12", m/m

 

Have you ever noticed how some people seem full?

Full of life and an expansiveness that is almost electrifying but really resides in peace?

And then there are other people who seem pinched and wanton and need their inner garden watered?

I love watching people and allowing them to be mirrors for myself.

Yesterday,  I saw a good friend I had not seen in years.  He’s always been part of my ‘tribe’;  my inner circle,  but we don’t know each other well.  We don’t know each other’s stories.  Don’t really care about our respective personalities and how they jive or don’t.   We just ARE together.   It’s never a surprise,  that intimacy when I see him;  just a welcome reminder of what is beyond personality.

Anyway,  yesterday I saw him.  He looked bigger,  brighter and his visage had changed as well as the way he held his body in space.  He looked,  felt utterly new to me.

He told me his stories of recently crashing emotionally and what he did in response to heal.

It was interesting but not as much as how mutable this guy is…

He is FULL..   full of EMPTINESS!!!!  How weird..   Full of nothing..     But the nothing is READY.   Ready to be filled.

I recognize this in myself as well.  This readiness.   I also recognize the pinched quality my body carries.  It is tired,  stressed,  wondering what to do,  scared,  angry at having to face all these ‘body- centric’ issues daily,  frustrated with the spotty results my various actions toward wholeness achieve.

So…. wholeness.    How to get it.  Keep it?

I really get the sense that surrender is a key here.  STOP DOING.

Today,  I will rest in the original net of wholeness that was there before all these pesky ‘lessons’ came along.

I will trust I am not doing this alone and walk purposely in the world but softly;  softly,  not to disturb the gathering of fullness.

Coal

"PASSAGE",  2000,  36"x50",  m/m

"PASSAGE", 2000, 36"x50", m/m

 

Dark days.

Blue mood.

Today,  I’m going south to an old mining town to gather coal for a project.
A friend is helping me with some web design and we are doing a trade for the work.  His web mastery/ my art.

Funny,  how the thought of winding my way down and around until I get to vast spills of coal turns me on..

I’m going to cover geometric forms with this sparkly,  gritty, mysterious,  black stuff.  You can see some work similar to what I’ll do with the coal if you click on:  “Cathy’s current work”  to the left of this post.

I chose coal for this particular man because he is really familiar with ‘the shadow’ as I am;  not having had an easy time of it on the planet. He is the epitome of cool..  cool motorcycle,   cool hair,  cool demeanor,  cool talk,  fast and smart.   He is oozing creativity and truly a master at what he does.   Thus- the coal…   It generates heat.   So does he.   It has a sheen that makes you want more but it’s tempered with a touch of danger.   So does he.   It is black and multi-faceted and mysterious and makes you think of men working hard in a mine and loading up trains;  dirty with white startled eyes.   My friend is handsome,  though he has that muscled,  ‘known hard work’  kind of body.  Anyway, the choice for coal to as the material to do this piece for him feel perfect.   I can imagine the dark, magical stuff covering these shapes hanging on the wall casting intriguing shadows.  I recognize I may have my own story going on here about who he is, but it’s fun and I’m stickin’ to it.

I love my art.

I certainly hope he does.

Just writing about it moved me from black to light.

Life is good.

Off to the coal spill…….

Be Still and No

"ZERO POINT",  2002,  60"x45",  m/m

"ZERO POINT", 2002, 60"x45", m/m

 

I had a conversation with a friend the other day and he told me he is an adrenaline junkie.  It was exciting to think about as I am from Detroit, Michigan and love cars;  fast cars and big construction equipment for some reason..  Anyway,  when I left him,  I thought:   I remember that ‘me’ who courted danger,  loved a wild ride and was up for doing most anything to shift my state of being from wherever it was to somewhere else.

I love fast but now I am slow.  Movement is very consciously carried out these days.   I keep trying to remember to soften my jaw while I do my day as it grips with the relentless attention to keeping upright with a modicum of grace.   Movement in general has always been critical to my well being.   I love to drive.  I get big things done behind the wheel.   I design,  muse,  have silent (or not) practice conversations,  cheer myself up  and somehow always feel free.   I suppose it’s that ‘long-open-road-American-thing’ but I usually do it by myself and am so grateful for the pleasure.

This love of motion has become an addiction,  I think.   I know,  actually but I can hardly begin thinking about it in that way.  Honestly, it acts as a screen or a veil;  a seductive cover that appears as if I’m doing something but often it is inane errand-doing.   I think I’m running…running FROM something . Sounds so cliche’ but I really have to look here..

As effortless motion is no longer my birthright,  my energy reserves are smaller.  I can no longer just feel the itch to drive north into Georgia O’Keeffe country and spontaneously get that hit of freedom.

So… where does that leave me?

Fast and free is sexy.   Is slow sexy?   How much is cultural habit?  How much is Cathy habit?

 THERE IS GRIEF HERE!  Another little death to contend with but this is a big one for me.   I have used movement  both to get away from myself and to find myself.   Now what?  The stillness scares me somehow.  I suppose this is why a regular meditation practice challenges me.   The biggest part of me knows that EVERYTHING is held in the stillness.  The small me wants to drive.   The big me loves the sense of infinite width in
the silence.  The small me loves the electric hum and air pressing in on me from both sides.  SOMETHING IS HAPPENING!  ..nothing is happening..

The whole conversation makes me so nervous…

Guess I’m close to gold..

Instinct

"YES",  6'x50",  1999,  m/m

"YES", Â 6'x50", Â 1999, Â m/m

 

I’ve made this month about looking into what integrity actually is for me.

My body feels like it is ‘dis- INTEGRATING’.  To integrate means to make whole, complete, join.

If I clean up corners of my life that are out-of-integrity,  does my body respond to these changes in any way?

Where does the word ‘INSTINCT’ fit in here?

When I look at my life,  I see the glaring places where I AM out of integrity:   money situations, dealings with family and others,  not doing what I said I would do.   I want these shadowy corners clean so I have room to move; psychically and physically.

But that doesn’t address the word, INSTINCT.

I realized yesterday,  on a fairly profound level, that I have had most of the pure and fierce,  undomesticated instinct culturally bred out of me.

What I’m talking about is that ire that rises up when we witness a child being abused and the capacity to strip ourselves of any and all identity we cling to kicks in and we ACT!

We act from our core of goodness and we don’t act alone because someTHING lends us a hand.

What I’m looking at today is reclaiming that instinctual behavior on a very personal level.   In what situations do I water down my instincts to ‘make nice’?  Where do I not act when my instinct tells me something different?  I’m beginning to see where this happens in my diet,  how I go through my day and most interesting to me;   my relationship to Spirit.   There is a WHOLE language I INSTINCTUALLY know but am lending a blind ear to.  This makes me laugh because If you asked me,  I’d tell you you’d be hard pressed to find someone who cared more about her relationship to something larger than herself.  But caring is different than LIVING INSIDE SPIRIT.   I want that.

I am just going to see if I turn my carefully constructed self inside out and expose that girl in trust to the brilliant information that is patiently waiting outside my skin;  I’ll see if that softening and willingness in myself gives me more strength to walk.

Please forgive me if I can’t find just the right words as I begin thinking about things in a different way.   Maybe the word part will reflect some of it’s own integration as I listen to my instincts,  seemingly  hushed as they may be.

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