Stormy Weather

HORIZON",  50" x 50",  1999,  m/m

HORIZON", 50" x 50", 1999, m/m

 

Goodness…. what a road I’m on..

Night before last I spent in the emergency veterinary clinic with my dog, Olivia.

She was looking for dark places in my home to nest.. away from me which was not like her.  Couldn’t jump up on the couch anymore.

She still wagged her tail on my approach but she felt feverish and wouldn’t eat.

My heart said not to wait till Monday to get her checked out so we left in the middle of the night for the clinic.

She is in liver failure.

Everyone in the clinic was in shock at this finding as Livvy was behaving like she had it somewhat together. (Sound familiar?)

They put her in isolation as there is concern over an infection she may have contacted from going to the prairie dog populated park we walk in.

Now, I know not everyone is a dog person so I’ve lost some of you already but this post is really about LOVE.

I never had kids by choice. Never was drawn to procreate. My art seemed to suffice.

Part of the reticence was surely due to concern I would screw the kids up coming from the atmosphere I grew up in.

I never wanted a dog. Ever.

Too much responsibility. Too much ‘other’ in my sacred space. Just TOO MUCH.

A trusted guide and mentor was after me for two full years to ‘get it’ that a human, such as myself, who registers the world so acutely needs to have ‘a familiar’ (she calls it) to connect with and know and be known by.

Livvy and I have had a year and a half together.

When I cry, she lays on my chest and looks me in the eye with sympathetic tears.

When I need space, she needs no prompting to find herself something to do.

When I come home, she dances on her two hind feet and smiles.

There’s much more but I’ll spare you…

I am aching for the strangeness, the needles, the isolation, the discomfort my dog is steeped in at the moment.

I will pick her up tonight and begin what may be goodbye.

I woke up this morning mad at God.

“How much more?” I think, am I supposed to manage here, in what, at times feels like this little life?

Of late, it feels like the gates are wide open to any and every thing;  thorny and unbidden.

And then I get this flash of:  OUR GREATEST GIFT IS FREE WILL AND CHOICE.

No matter what is served up at the table, we ALWAYS have the privilege of choosing our response..

Self pity?   Depression?  Addiction?   Forgiveness?   Defeat?   Courage?  Gratitude?

I am choosing love today. And gratitude. And tenderness toward a being I adore.

After writing this post, self pity has lost all it’s hold.

The “Why me?” question has, once again blessedly shifted toward a much richer landscape.

Thank God.

Let Her Go

"TRIBE" detail,  2000,  13" x 24" x 4",  ceramic, wood, steel

"TRIBE" detail, 2000, 13" x 24" x 4", ceramic, wood, steel

 

LET HER GO

 

Just let that one go.
You know, the one you know so well?
That girl with the life juice that yearns to do every damn thing.
Even when she’d really rather not.

Just let that one go.
The gracious woman glad to be included
But blind to the truth of it,
That there is no interest there.

Let her go.
She worrys she’s not enough
Because poetry calls louder
Than the heat of the melting pot.

Let her breathe.
Agreements be damned
And yes-saying curtailed
Until she meets herself. Her Self.

Let her know.
She’s a smart one, that!
Every secret hidden,
And now is REMEMBERED! (in the Quiet)

Let her be.
This innocent stumbler.
A constant sure step
Misses Humility altogether.

Let her SAY!
The Horror, the Hope and Fury,
And Awe and Grief and Mercy
In this shadowy temple.

Let her pray.
For gut-wrenching laughter
And that lightness of being
Behind every tear.

Let her sit.
At the Gratitude table. 
Keeping company with candles,
Just loving the light.

 

C.A. 2009

The Grit and Grace of Need

"BLOOM",  3' x 6',  1999,  m/m

"BLOOM", 4' x 8', 1999, m/m

 

I have absolutely STELLAR friends.

They are my tribe and non-blood family.

When I graduated from high school,  I won the award for most congenial and prettiest smile….

That was sort of weird because I never belonged to any clique and was a borderline juvenile delinquent.

I value relationship highly;  with people,  Nature,  God,  rocks and minerals, creatures and particularly with my Self.

I love my own company.

Thank God for that as I have spent a good deal of my life alone  (mostly by choice..)

I am an artist.  By nature,  I navigate worlds unnoticed or uninteresting to most.

This makes me sort of hard to be friends with,  at times.  Or to understand, at least.   I retreat for long periods or become distant in a myriad of ways all too easily mistaken as a personal affront.

But really,   these are my ways of saving myself.   I feel the world so deeply.  And I still take too much of it on myself.   When the load gets too heavy I pause to begin taking the weight I carry that isn’t mine , piece by piece, and put it down.

There are a few friends who have stayed the course with me.

I NEVER used to need much from others-  priding myself in weary  ‘independent-womanliness’.  How utterly BORING.

So here I am,  a woman with MS who now NEEDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am in that between state of hating the needing and weeping from the gratitude from the help I receive.

I have a couple friends in particular who I am  ‘letting’  help me.  They know me well and tread so lightly that I often don’t even know I’m saying yes to their offers to make life easier for me.

I could NOT do life without them.  They keep meeting the pathetic little fences I keep trying to throw up to keep my imaginary status quo intact, with love and persistence.

We all are waiting for me to  ‘get’  the reality of my decline.

These friends continue to hold my metaphysical hand while I adjust to the new deal.

This is all unknown territory and I am afraid.  And not.

I am afraid because I am not practiced at needing.

I am not afraid because I have recreated myself so many times in life.   Seems like I have the skill set to do it again.

I do know that my ticket to wholeness within this transition is TRANSPARENCY.

That’s where you come in…  a witness.

You help me make it real.

This is,  by no means,  a small service I speak of here…

And I thank you,  so very much.

New Day

 

"RISE",  13" x 13" x 4",  2001, m/m

"RISE", 13" x 13" x 4", 2001, m/m

 

 

NEW DAY

 

 

Your dress is pretty.

The pattern suits you so well.

Don’t hesitate to call me.

 

 

                                                 -CA 2009

Comfort Food?

 

"ORANGE/BLACK",  30" x 30",  2006,  m/m

"ORANGE/BLACK", 30" x 30", 2006, m/m

 

FINALLY!!!!

My techno-world is settling down a bit.

I appreciate you hanging in with me.

Soooooooooo… yesterday I went to a favorite haunt.. a hole-in-the-wall treasure of a restaurant.

You have to drive a bit to get there but the rewards are divine..   rugged bumpy driveway,   7 tables and 6 things on the menu.

They are a Santa Fe landmark as they’ve been here God only know how long with the same menu items of 6 different ways to serve a BURGER! (natural, grown-by-them and ground-by-them burgers.

You walk in and write your name on a blackboard and wait to be called.

It’s an old road-house that cares nothing about pretense but knows what it does better than just about anyone;  BURGERS!
I like the un-done feel of the place; good folksy-folks with big hearts.
It is comfort food for me.. not just the food but the people and place and experience.

So I had my burger and fries and conversation with Bonnie,  the waitress and felt happy watching all the bikers and RVers and BMW drivers and a movie star thrown in to boot.

I was in heaven.  (Simple things make me happy..)

Last evening I felt my legs slightly weaker than usual.

This morning I couldn’t get out of bed from the acute dullness and wet-blanket feel over my entire body..

This morning there is not a trustable muscle in my body.

I am talking about this today because I often think those of us with an autoimmune challenge are acting as  ‘canaries in the mine.’

By that I mean to say that seemingly innocuous choices like eating a burger and fries cooked in questionable oil may affect us acutely where someone with a less sensitive system could skate by unscathed.

In this case, from past experience,  I recognize this feeling of utter numbness that dissipates slowly to be caused by eating the potatoes cooked in the ‘bad’ kind of oil we’re all trying to get away from, (trans-fats).

Part of my challenge in dealing with MS is to really value myself and life choices;  (diet,  work,  relationships,  where I put my attention,  etc..) over the short-lived solace of questionable comfort foods  (when I know the end results),  gossipy conversation (because I feel a part of some weird ‘us-against-them’ false sense of belonging),  life choices made moment to moment not in alignment with MY life and quest for wholeness.

I am being asked to lead a MUCH MORE REFINED life and often the little girl in here goes:  “I DON’T WANNA!!!!!”

The question begs : “Well, Cath, how much do you REALLY want to be healthy,  clear,  strong,  adept,  inspired,  of-service  (take your pick..)?

For me,  this is a moment-to-moment challenge..  or opportunity,  I guess.
It’s the graduate course in lining myself up with that thing that I recognize as larger than myself..

You may ask:   How can she get from talking about trans-fats in oil to a spirit-infused life?

Well,  I keep getting the blessed opportunity to move toward clarity and I watch myself keep turning it down because of pesky LITTLE WANTS!

I’m really not beating myself up..  Just a nudge to use our greatest gift of free will and choice and CHOOSE WELL.

Just for today.

OK, Cath?   Just for today..

Control (Not)

 

I just have to laugh…..

The server I use crashed a couple days ago..

I’ve had no access to my blog until now and find that my ability to upload photos is just not in the program,  yet…

So,  we are IMAGE-FREE .. till we aren’t.

I watched my heartbeat become erratic and my usually contained state-of-being fraying at the edges as I negotiated the territory of:   “I WANT THIS BLOG BACK THE WAY IT WAS NOW!!!!!!!!!    AND I’M NOT KIDDING!

I NEED TO BE PROFESSIONAL AND DELIVER ON MY BLOG IN A WAY PEOPLE CAN COUNT ON!

I NEED TO WRITE AND FEEL CONNECTED!

OK…  let’s just calm down a bit here, Cath..

(talking to myself):  If you think about it,  isn’t this situation kindof like what is happening in your body?

I WANT to move with grace but my leg is not cooperating.  It behaves illogically and not a DAMN thing I can think or pray or conjure is gonna change that.

I drop a favorite hand-blown crystal bowl which shatters on the floor.

I have a million choices in that moment..

1. Clean it up while crying at my loss of the thing.

2. Clean it up and curse the fact it hurts to bend over,  my hand can’t grip the broom well,  I’m bone-tired ALREADY and here’s another THING to handle..

3. Clean it up while lamenting:  I’m alone and WHERE IS THE MAN TO HELP ME?

4. Be stoic and put the blinders on about the reality of my physicality changing..

5. Sing and make happy..

OR…………….

I could just pause..

And notice what’s on my plate in the moment.

Dial up the  ‘WITNESS CATHY’

And breathe.

Then,  when my heartbeat comes down from the cobwebs up in the rafters,  I could slowly do the cleanup thing in a less reactive state..   no future thinking;  (what if this new level of clumsiness is PERMANENT?)  or past ruminations:  (my body didn’t USED to be this unreliable!).   

Feels better and more true.

So,  I’m gonna take my own advice and just breathe and softly notice how I HATE BEING OUT OF CONTROL as I wait for my blog to resolve into the form I take creative and connective solace from…

And find a brand new favorite bowl to get pleasure out of..

Gonnie

"FOREST THROUGH THE TREES",  2002,  4' x 6', m/m

"FOREST THROUGH THE TREES", 2002, 4' x 6', m/m

 

I couldn’t say  ‘Grammie’  so her name,  for me,  became Gonnie.

She was the person in my life who really SAW me,

She tended my spirit whether I wore bright blue eyeshadow and tatters as a teenager or went with her to the Village Woman’s Club for lunch.

We just seemed to like each other’s company.   And that was good as she pretty much raised me.

We had a quiet relationship.

We went to the pond down the block to feed the ducks and look at the black swans she bought for the city that made their nests in small islands of grasses.

Black swans with bright orange beaks.

We gardened together and tended rosebushes and raspberry tangles.

We grilled fat steaks on the patio and waited for the neighborhood basset hound,  Totter,  to come by for his treat.

All this with very little chat or conversation at all.

I thought of her today because I saw a goldfinch in my tree.  Then another.   Then another.

They are always a harbinger of her,  for me.

After she died,  that same bubble of quiet we knew so well together happened as I was at her memorial lunch at her home.

The whole family was there and all of a sudden everything sort of started to fuzz out.

I was sitting on her glass porch at the table she pulled a chair up to each and every day to play cards and feel her dog’s warmth at the small of her back.

She had a bird feeder right outside the window to watch their doings up close.

As I sat there at her table and as the world as I knew it began to blurr,  a bright yellow goldfinch landed on the feeder and sang.

I somehow knew it was orchestrated by her.   For me.

It was a  ‘top-five’  life experience.

All that life substance I just related occurred in quiet,  I realize.

Lately, I really notice myself pulling a cloak of silence around me.  Daily, I seem to secure the wrap with more purpose.

I’m not depressed.   It’s not that kind of retreat.

More of an invitation to a life less populated by the inundation of stuff and sound and ideas and purpose.

Does that seem heretical?

I keep wanting what I call  ‘THE SPACE BETWEEN’.

Honestly,  I’m not really sure I know what that is….

But I think it has something to do with that goldfinch.

Put Yourself Down

hand painted upholstery fabric,  1985, wool flannel

hand painted upholstery fabric, 1985, wool flannel

 

 

CHAIR

 

Put yourself down here

So I can tell you that you

Know more than enough.

 

 

                                         – CA 2009

Indian Market

untitled,  1991,  monoprint,  22 x 30

untitled, 1991, monoprint, 22 x 30

 

This coming weekend is INDIAN MARKET in Santa Fe.

It almost makes me WANT to be in a wheelchair.

It is THE best people-watching event one could ever hope for.

I have not attended in many,  many years because the crowd is too much for me to negotiate;  physically and energetically.

My heart always hurts a bit.

Picture this:   bright red lipstick,   ten-gallon white hat with a few feathers,  mini-skirt,   dripping with turquoise and silver atop 4″ heels..

Now,  THAT’S a memorable sight,  I tell you.

No judging here… but curiosity?  Indeed.

I am,  by nature,  a voyeur.

Human lives and choices facinate me.

The Native American population has some secrets AND WE WANT THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

White people want Indian secrets real bad.

What,  exactly is it that we think they’re not telling?

What knowledge do indigenous populations carry that the rest of us seem to know we need?

We either want to kill them or bow to them.

This weekend,  I think I’ll make that my quest as I look at the 50,000 people in my town for the week as they buy expensive stuff,   dress so they feel close to the clan,  stalk prize-winning artists so they can have stories to tell when they go home.

If I was in a wheelchair,  I could drop down closer to the land where,  I think,  alot of these remarkable artists draw inspiration from.

I could bypass the heady,  ego-driven posturing of a culture lost in performance mode and position myself in that inbetween place where it’s quieter,  a little more respectful.

I bet I could even see the art.

The View

"Land Quilt",   1998,  30" x 30",  m/m

"Land Quilt", 1998, 30" x 30", m/m

 

This morning I woke caught in the big picture..

What if this happens..?

What if I can’t pay for that..?

If my foot curls under any more,  then..

What will I do if…?

Everything started to feel very DENSE and I sat here at the computer wondering why the hell I was thinking I had anything of value to say.

This is usually very unlike me to lose the  ‘vitality thread’  altogether.

So I just STOPPED TRYING.

I just sat here and paused for a moment.

Looked out the window.

Felt how my body doesn’t really feel like my own today.

New tingling sensations have been happening on my left side,  and that side has been my FREE zone,  till now. There has been no weakness there but….

My mind just takes that new tingling and RUNS WITH IT!!
“Oh my God..”,  “What if?,  “Does that mean…?”

Yuk.

So… I’m just sittin’ here managing my fear and along comes my dog,  Livvy.

She looks at me with her soft,  bright,  patient eyes and my whole body comes back to this moment.

She makes her little throaty noises and I know exactly what she means..

This landscape is by far more interesting that the road I was about to go down a few minutes ago..

My Sister

Menswear collection,  hand-painted silk,  1987

Menswear collection, hand-painted silk, 1987

 

This past weekend,  my sister took my nephew off to his first year of college.

I did not grow up in an environment of respect and love.

I really am at odds to fathom how my sister raised her children with such a loving heart,  openness to her two kids’ individual needs and wants,  a giant dollop of good cookin’ and the ready listening ear she is for her spectacular children.

I know she’s hurting today in a home that feels alien in its’ emptiness.

How,  exactly,  do we learn to love?

How do we do that thing if we’ve not had a trustworthy model?

Each of my three siblings has seemed to draw from some mystical well and pull up the instructions for loving their kids well.

It truly baffles me.   And makes me quite proud.

I chose to keep my art at my center and not to have kids.   I married late, at 40,  which lasted 4 years,  but was never drawn toward raising a family.

These choices were true to my nature and I am ever grateful I knew to make them.

Even so,   as I pull through all the pretense I previously cloaked myself in before being diagnosed with MS,  that  ‘love manual’  my siblings seemed privy to is mine,  now,  to peruse.

I feel a bit of an innocent,  however.

The essential Cathy ain’t been too present till lately.

Can’t really love if you’re not all there.

Today’s post is really to honor my sisters’ magnificent job of mothering a son she now releases into the world to find his own flight plan.

I feel so good that the world gets to have him as he is an extraordinary young man and the world will be better for him.

Learning to let go with love.. gotta be somewhere in this  ‘manual’  here….

Guides and Mentors

untitled,  2000, 14" x 4" x 3", ceramic

untitled, 2000, 14" x 4" x 3", ceramic

 

Yesterday,  I saw a physical therapist recommended to me by someone I respect highly.

After a number of years dealing with many,  many body workers,  doctors,  etc.,  I notice that I have a built in litmus test that tells me within minutes whether I am sitting with a person who can help me move toward wholeness or head for the nearest exit.

People that love me will often relate stories of people they know who have experienced amazing results working with a particular regime or person.

In the beginning,  just after my diagnosis and thereafter until fairly recently,  I listened hard and watched for when I was drawn to act and made an appointment.

I gave my attention to the particulars asked of me by the practitioner as best I could and watched for results.

During the almost ten years of my relationship with MS,  out of all the people I have sought guidance from,  I have stayed the course with 4 people.

What is it that these practitioners have in common?

They can get out of their own way.

By that,  I mean I am,  over time,  THE MAIN EVENT.

This is not to say that I pay people for the ego solace of undivided attention.

I am talking about the difference between someone who gets a great charge  (and identity)  out of having a ‘following’ of patients doing what they are told to do.

If the results are not forthcoming,  likely it is the fault of the patient.

This very common experience I speak of has a very STICKY quality to it.

There is usually a sense of performance anxiety because when good stuff is happening,   the tone is affirming and pseudo-electric.   LIFE IS GOOD!  What I am doing is WORKING for this client!  I am GOOD at what I do!  YEAH, me!!

And the patient is going:  I AM A GOOD PATIENT!!!!  YEAH, ME!

When results are not forthcoming,  a sort of pall slips in… disappointment for both parties and usually the responsibility settles with the client because the practitioner’s ego is so bound up in  ‘success’  that they CANNOT BE WRONG.. So guess who is?

The alternative to this less-than-ideal experience is to work with someone who does not carry the agenda of needing the client to heal or behave in a way that makes them feel good about themselves.

The woman I saw yesterday was a good example of that.  She had nothing to prove to either herself or to me.

She took a brief history and began with a trust in the work that she was doing with me that was palpable.

Her work seemed effortless and I felt safe enough to relax into the unknown.

We both just listened to my body and registered movement and changes.  We both had stepped aside energetically into the witness mode.

The work was not personal.

Big results happened for me.

My body began to unwind and let go of some of my familiar tension and holding patterns.

I heaved big sighs.

I was excited!

She was pleased but not overly so.   She didn’t have that sort of manic  ‘I DID A GOOD THING!  I AM A HEALER!   energy about her.

I really felt like during the session everything about me was respected and she wanted NOTHING from me personally;  only to hold the possibility for a shift toward wholeness and the innate integrity of my body.

This experience felt like something I’d like to repeat so I made another appointment.

Absolutely NOTHING is carved in stone..  not weakness,  strength,  health or illness.

I just follow the threads that I register as having possibility for me to move toward God, really.

Some prove weak and the tension breaks under pressure.

Others stay strong and I keep pulling myself up,  hand over hand.

Destination, unknown.

Rain

"SLIGHT SHIFT",  2004, 45" x 5', oil on panel

"SLIGHT SHIFT", 2004, 45" x 5', oil on panel

 

It rained here last night.  ALL night.  Big,  gigantic deal  ’round these high-desert parts……

 

 

RAIN

 

She kept doing it!

All night without a let up

She took my tears back.

 

 

                                    -Cathy Aten August 2009

Point of View

"BROKEN",  2004,  20" x 5" x 3",  ceramic, 24k gold

"BROKEN", 2004, 20" x 5" x 3", ceramic, 24k gold

 

Working with clay is a tricky business..  so elemental.

Really, you’ve got the dirt and water (clay), the fire (kiln) and the air.

Master ceramists achieved that status because of a deep understanding of the elements  (I said UNDERSTANDING, not CONTROL).

In the history of Japanese ceramics,  if a coveted work of art fractured or broke in the firing process,  they would fill the break with 24 carat gold and call attention to the  ‘flaw’  as an integral part of the beauty of the piece.

It is hard to see in the above piece but I did just that.

My ceramics are pit fired.

I dig a pit,   lay sawdust down and a layer of kindling.

Then I carefully place the work and pile wood on top.

I light the pile then cover it with a piece of corrugated metal and leave it overnight to burn and smolder.

In the morning I return and uncover the pit.

When I saw this piece,  I just stopped in my tracks…  to me it was so very beautiful..

The colors and markings all come from the fire and I happened to use some old wood that made the fabulous drip marks.

I took the piece and excitedly put it under water to rub off the soot and see the piece more clearly.

It was still slightly warm from the fire and the water was cool and……….

IT BROKE IN MY HANDS.

I cried.

(Ceramics teaches one non-attachment as so many things break, but still…)

I filled the crack with gold.

It was such a precious process as the love of my art was there,  the grief of it’s not originally going the way I wanted it to go,  the cost of the gold,  the care and time it took to do this…

I have kept few pieces for my own collection but this one I have.

Such a gorgeous metaphor for my current state of being.

It’s all truly a question of point of view,  is it not?

Flawed or perfect?

A  ‘throw-away’  or a keeper?

New

"THICKET",  2004,  30" x 30", oil on panel

"THICKET", 2004, 30" x 30", oil on panel

 

Everything about the Autumn in Santa Fe is perfect to me.

It’s not QUITE here but last night,  all night long I felt it sneaking in.

I was up most of the night for some reason.

The moon is waning but still has that strangely magnetic pull to it.

It had me last night..  wanted me to go out there.

Honestly,  I feel almost sinful that I didn’t do that.

I was just too,  too perfectly content there in bed and feeling the slight chill after such a stretch of the heavy heat we’ve been having.

All through the night I watched the shivering aspen leaves out my window reflecting the moon.

I felt the quiet and tended my nest.

I just let each moment slide effortlessly into the next.

There was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in me that wanted ANYTHING to be DIFFERENT.

Today,  I’m tired but feel soft.  Expectant.  Because change is coming.   Autumn is pulling into the driveway and parking her car.

All this to say that my BODY LOVES THIS SEASON!!!!!!!!

I walk better.  Feel better.   Eat better.  Have energy.  Get inspired more.  Feel friendlier.  More on top of my game.

I really need the seasons.

Helps me remember that change is the only thing we can actually count on.

Pieces of a Whole

"SHE",  1993,  4' x 28",  m/m

"SHE", 1993, 4' x 28", m/m

 

I always sort of cringe when I see this piece I created so long ago.

It is one of those works of art that had me by the throat and made me do it.

But I am still somehow intrigued that it actually came from me so I thought I’d just take another look and try for a direct gaze instead of a sideways one,  for a change..

She looks kindof like she has prison garb on the top.

The bottom is this naive attempt at a door opening as I remember.

Her head is a spiral and two crosses at her sides.

A galaxy seems to be going on behind her.

She is put together somewhat like a jigsaw puzzle. 

She is wearing a dress.

Over the years as an artist,  a few recurring symbols have kept me company.

I was never particularly interested in digging too deep for their messages;  I just allowed them their place as they saw fit.

I know SOME things about why these motifs feel personal to me.

The spiral is intriguing because it’s movement can be either inward,  outward,  upward or down.

The cross has both the horizontal  (human)  and the vertical  (Spirit).

A doorway can be entered or exited.

The stripes probably signify the SHADOW in us;  choose to look or no..

The stars.. possibility.

When I pull this piece of art apart like this I can see her story.  The voice she carries unbeknownst to me at the time.

Hers is my story,  of course;  the parts that make up my whole.

I look at her and see her youth.  How she didn’t know how to do the  ‘take-away’  I now use as medicine..  in my art and elsewhere.. that of removing EVERYTHING EXTRA..  each element that doesn’t need to be there,  GOES.

The reduction to ESSENCE that comes with the grit of unexpected life.

The stuff we think we need and don’t.

The people we love and shouldn’t.

The lines we draw that are awkward.

I love this girl that showed herself in this painting.

I love this woman who can now love and not judge the young ‘her’.

I love the whole damn bumpy road.

 

Just for today, probably….

Little Things That Aren’t

"BARNACLE",  32" x 8",  2002, ceramic

"BARNACLE", 32" x 8", 2002, ceramic

 

Yesterday a good girlfriend and I went to an old haunt for a civilized Sunday brunch.

Imagine the white table linens,  crystal glassware and porch setting of an old Santa Fe interior courtyard.

When I arrived in New Mexico in 1989 I was still doing hand-painted fabric and the waiters at this restaurant all wore custom neckties I created for them.

So I have history there.

This is a very civilized restaurant and I had not been there for a long while.

Bobby,  the owner was there as usual,  greeting everyone warmly.    We love each other.

He betrayed his surprise at my significant physical decline since we last saw each other by doting…

He seated us at a table easy for me to access.

He sent us an appetizer on the house.

He whisked my new plaid walker away so it was totally out of sight.  I wasn’t sure if this was for my benefit or the other diners but it happened so quickly that I just let it..

An alarm bell went off in my bladder but I said nothing and let Bobby do what he wanted to do.

We had a gorgeous afternoon in this  ‘oh-so-civilized’  little spot.

Even though I like dirt so much for my work and can be caught drooling over a particularly fine or even tricked-out truck and do find deep beauty in ordinaryness,  I am a woman who NEEDS CIVILIZED BEHAVIOR AND ENVIRONMENT as a salve to ease most of life’s ruffles.  Just once in awhile.

And this place is THAT.

Here I am feeling so perfectly content.

Of course I now have to pee and my walker is unearthed from the shadows and Bobby,  the owner is making sure he leads the way like a tour guide to the bathrooms so I know which is the larger,  handicapped one.

I closed the restroom door and cried at his gentle and proprietary way of caring for me.

When our meal was finished,  Bobby was magically there as I began to lift myself up from the table.

He took my elbow from behind and pulled out my chair.

While all this  ‘tending to’  was going on I had an odd assortment of stuff happening in my head and heart.

Wow,  I thought.  This is an awful lot of attention.

And I am sssssoooooooo piss-ass independent that I usually manage to  ‘do for myself’.

But Bobby was loving me in his gorgeously elegant and compassionate way without me feeling diminished one iota by his over-the-top-assistance.

In fact,  I felt disarmingly connected to and safe in the world.

I did not feel like a disabled person.  Or at least that wasn’t at the top of my list.

I felt beautiful,  loved,  visible as a friend and loyal customer who has been in this community for 20 years and who now is changing physically but remains essentially the woman she was when she walked tall unassisted by a walker with a plaid pouch.

It really meant something to me that Bobby didn’t make a fuss.   But really he DID and I TOOK it and didn’t push it away like I do so often.

I left our lunch feeling very much an integral element of a community.

I do believe this sense of belonging is my most precious creation.

For it IS a creation..  a work of art.

No one dropped this community in my lap- it is a creation and not a given.

I see that I am reaping rewards I could never have dreamed.

And I can REST in that.

Wanting….

"SECRETS OF WOMEN",  1994, 45" x 45",  ceramic, wood, m/m

"SECRETS OF WOMEN", 1994, 45" x 45", ceramic, wood, m/m

 

Yesterday I ate a chocolate.

Then I couldn’t walk.

Recently I caved and ate french fries.

The next day my joints were totally weak and stayed that way most of the day.

My usual diet these days is pretty raw with lots of blended vegetables and fruit, salads and some organic protein.

I eat this way because of lifelong digestive issues and the recognition that certain foods render me seriously weak.

All our bodies are toxic to a certain extent from eating refined foods for so long and our environment full of non-natural substances we are forced to maneuver.

My real sense is that a good portion of my daily weakness can be assuaged by pinpointing dietary triggers individual to me.

There ARE certain foods alot of people dealing with MS seem to be affected by:   sugar,  chocolate,
trans-fats are some of them.

Sometimes,  like yesterday,  my rational mind just takes flight and I WANT.

This path to health  (whatever that looks like)  is a constant Zen master at my back with a stick rapping me on my shoulder when I fall asleep.

I’m not sorry for this enforced urge toward consciousness.

But sometimes a girl just wants chocolate…

And she pays…

And she pays..

And maybe makes a different choice next time.

And walks tall.

I wonder when the rewards for eating totally clean and being strong will outweigh the perceived pleasure of feeding my human WANTS..

Elements of a Life

untitled,  1998, 3"D varies, ceramic

untitled, 1998, 3"D varies, ceramic

 

Yesterday I took a trip to a local MS Society and to a medical supply place to check out wheelchairs.

One of the challenges I’ve faced since diagnosis has been the dense and patronizing air of people trying to help me (doctors, nurses, sales people etc.).  The victim mentality that surrounds this disease is monumental.

Where on earth is there to go when you are proclaimed :  “Primary Progressive MS and there is nothing that we know of that can help you.”

The pronouncement has bad stuff built into it.

I don’t really blame anyone for caving to the very human response of shrinking in the face of this,  whether it be literally getting smaller and withdrawing into oneself or doing the  ‘brow sweat’  and hand wringing routine, or tears or eating,  drinking,  or head bowing and eyes narrowing in the apology for someone’s own thrill at their good luck for getting a pass on MS.

I really understand all this.

But it bores me.

Yesterday I tried to practice the  ‘SOMETHING ELSE’  I keep trying out as a panacea for the deadly slime of any kind of life sentence kind of thinking or being.

The way I do this is to hobble into new situations as free of my own GUNK as I can get and with an expectation there is a life experience about to happen that I might like.

One can call this incurable optimism if you’ve a mind to.

Anyway, yesterday it worked pretty well.

The MS Society was able to give me exactly what I needed and more in their friendly and well organized way.   Totally free of weirdness because what I came to them needing was their specialty and they are experts in the territory.

Then,  at the wheelchair store I met both salespeople.  They were young and eager in a fun way.

I felt very seen as a woman who cares about grace and beauty and aesthetics so we could stay far away from the horribly antiquated designs of most hospital stuff.

I bought a new walker that is camel-colored with a sassy plaid pouch attached.   I like it.

I tested scooters and wheelchairs and decided on what will serve my current needs best.

A fun and well designed portable scooter that breaks down into two light pieces so I can manage this whole set-up and take-down-put-in-the-trunk maneuvering.

The point of this whole post is the possibility of using my creative being to craft a new life out of the sort of bent and incongruent cards I’ve been dealt.

It’s up to me to set the stage,  invite the actors,  decide when to enter stage left and when to exit.   Good and fun props make the scenes interesting.  A slight shift of tone of voice or inflection can make or break a scene.

The big difference here is that I am no longer trying so hard to entertain others.

This is my play and I’ll do what I can to make it richly textured and keep my interest high.

I’ll be so pleased if some of my riches fall off the back of my wheelchair and you pick them up feeling richer too..

But really..  this is my ride and I’ll keep doing my best to keep it tuned toward adventure, beauty, curiosity and courage.

I want to keep wanting to wake up each day;  frailty or no…

I’ts ALL my choice,  damn it.

Favorite Meditations

Three vases with holes,  2005, 36" x 14"x 6" varies, ceramic

Three vases with holes, 2005, 36" x 14"x 6" varies, ceramic

 

GOLD

Imagine you are lying down in a small,  slow river where the temperature is perfectly attuned to your body.

Your head is lying in the direction where the water is coming from and flowing down softly toward your feet.

The bottom of the river is smooth sand and you let your weight just settle.

 

Close your eyes.

Now imagine that the water is pure liquid gold.

It flows into the top of your head,  around your body and down and out through your feet.

Breathe.

Give yourself to the river.

 

 

THE LEAF

Imagine you are standing in a crystal clear,  still pond.

The water comes comfortably just up to the bottom of your nose.

Your feet are planted on soft sand below.

Close your eyes and imagine there is a leaf resting on top of the surface of the water just in front of your face.

As you breathe out through the nose,  the leaf moves slightly away from you.

As you breathe in,  the leaf is drawn back toward you again.

Breathe out..

Breathe in..

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