Ride

detail of installation, 1990, 10' x 10', ceramic, coal, earth, leaf

detail of installation, 1990, 10' x 10', ceramic, coal, earth, leaf

The other day I took a trail ride in the morning after a rain.

The sandy arroyo was etched with layers of the heave of the rainwater.

It smelled new. Un-fussed-with.

The colors were yellow and violet.  Sand.  Blue sky.  No wind.

My friend Carlos and I talked. But Nature was very demanding.

She wanted to be seen. Smelled. Taken in.

Exactly like a lover not taking no for an answer.

She touched her finger behind our ears with her scent so we’d remember.

Yesterday, I went to my new favorite ‘non-victim’ MS support group.

We talked about keeping death on your shoulder as a friend, not the enemy.  No morbidity!

Just teaching us how to LIVE and perhaps die well. We’re bringing in a consultant to speak about power-of-attorney, estate stuff and essentially saying what we want IF.. and not lending a blind eye to the hard stuff.

Being compassionate with those we love and deciding for ourselves before we put them in the place of deciding for us. Interesting territory and important no matter who you are.. MS or no..

The conversation had the same ease as the one we had on our trail ride.

Funny.. I am attracting experiences in which I feel truly safe and good.  New for the girl.

I am NO LONGER A PERFORMER TRYING TO BE SOMETHING FOR YOU OR ANYONE.

So.. I am seeing I can choose well..choose differently.

Life has the scent of ESSENCE – cool, clean, unfettered, enticing, raw and slightly wild..

My skin feels different. My eyes are clear. I am ready.

Not always, mind you..

Sometimes I am dull. My body aches. I am weak. I retreat.

It is all the same; life on a tarnished silver platter.

My reflection is perfect in one light and distressed beyond recognition in another.

And what is the difference?

I think the eyes I see with..

yes..

the eyes have the last say, don’t they?

The Wall

"DESIRE",  1990,  24" x 36", m/m

"DESIRE", 1990, 24" x 36", m/m

Since I’m an artist and a human being, I am interested in creativity.

I read and listen to conversations about manifestation and wonder..

Does the capacity to create or change or alter the course of an artwork or illness or love affair have it’s genesis in the mind?

Is it a DECISION we DECIDE to put our blood behind? Our flood of power and intent pointed in a particular direction over time?

What’s the difference between a wish and a prayer and an intention?

Does the success of a thing depend on whether we’re doing the action of supplication RIGHT?

Or is the whole thing moot and our place is to remain utterly alive in the moment and be prepared and open to receive?

Is ANYTHING we DO regarding altering existence worth DOING or even APPROPRIATE?

And if it isn’t, how would the universe know anything about what particular Christmas tree to plop ME down underneath?

Do I have ANY say here?

And if I do, what language does God speak so I can make sure the message is delivered?

And if the thing is to SURRENDER; what’s the difference between a nap and opening to what IS?

Emptiness is the thing that is most appealing to me these days.

But I’m not sure it isn’t because I’m just spent down..

Squeeze

Untitled,  2002,  28"h x 5"w, ceramic

Untitled, 2002, 28"h x 5"w, ceramic


I spoke with a good friend yesterday and heard all her stories about five-star travel, love affairs, hedonistic and spiritual adventures both..

I had to take a nap afterwards.

Why, I wondered, was I left feeling spent and reeling?

I lay down with my dog and we just WERE together for awhile.

My stomach relaxed. My breathing slowed. My chest unclenched. My jaw parted a bit.

Wow.. I guess THIS is relaxed, I thought..

I laughed at my surprise. Then I just sort of steeped in the realization of the unrecognized level of stress I carry just as a daily load. So normal to my being.

Then I really looked at what my ALREADY jagged nervous system does in the presence of someone else’s which travels at the speed of light.. (which our culture highly values)

MS-the taskmaster..at it again.. It MAKES me LOOK. MAKES me CHOOSE DIFFERENTLY.

Feels lonely sometimes.

But then again; that little time I had with my dog at rest was close to a top-five life experience in it’s effect on my psyche and system.

Strangely, I felt MORE connected..not less in the little readjustment scenario I was presented with.

I love my friend and her larger-than-life life.

I love the softness in my own belly when I am at peace.

Here is the healing.

Permeability

"WOMAN/MAN",  2000, 12" x 3" x 1", ceramic

"WOMAN/MAN", 2000, 12" x 3" x 1", ceramic

I watched this movie called THE WAY OF THE PEACEFUL WARRIOR”.

It’s a new-agey thing but the message and story was good.

A gymnast gets in a huge motorcycle wreck and his Olympic hopes are dashed.

He meets Nick Nolte posing as a sage/’service’ station owner who edges the boy away from his ego toward the absolute power of living in the moment.

The healing that takes place is anchored by the films’ motto: A WARRIOR IS ABOUT ABSOLUTE VULNERABILITY.

The film ended and I sat there thinking and looked up and saw these two sculptures on my wall. I have kept them for my collection and am glad I did.

They hang right next to a window hung with horizontal wooden blinds that rest half open.

After watching the movie and thinking about the importance of vulnerability, I looked up and saw the juxtaposition of the sculptures and window blinds and saw them as similar..

I thought: really the times I feel most alive are when I let the world move me as it will… when the slats of MY blinds are half open/half closed so it leaves me prepared to experience fully what I choose and ready to close them when that’s what’s called for.

Sort of : ever-at-the-ready.

I really liked thinking of these two figurative sculptures as windows; of ME as a window…

With the ultimate power of free will and choice in the decision to remain open. Or not.

I think THAT is where a sense of true safety comes from. It’s an inside job. Nobody/nothing can give it or take it.

And from that place, it seems ANYTHING is possible.

Just a thought I’m thinking this morning.

I’m gonna walk out in the world and practice..

Trust

detail, pigment on wool flannel

detail, pigment on wool flannel

I’m back to horseback riding now that it’s cooler.

It makes me happy.

Yesterday, I watched myself go back and forth between fear and trust on the horse’s back.

All I do so far is walk..I don’t want to trot or canter yet.

I had an affair once with a cowboy and we rode WILD down long arroyos (desert drainage ditches). I hadn’t a clue about how to ride well but that was way beside the point.

I was thrown one day. Very bad fall. It scared me. Never got back on.

Till NOW! And I am just resting in beginners mind.

I’m going to listen to how my body tolerates just so much trust and then it retreats into it’s cave.

This surely has to do with all the changes in my body and getting used to moving differently but it is more than that..

I really am an innocent in the world, after all the tossing aside of protective identities.

I see myself on top of this gorgeous horse riding next to my friend while we talk about interesting things and take in the landscape.

Everything feels right and good and allows me to sink into the microcosm of my precious body and check out the safety factor.
If I went faster at this point it might feel like I was too overstimulated like in a video arcade.

I’m not good at nor interested in multi-tasking these days.

I AM interested in leading an UNDEFENDED life and riding helps me do that. Perfect chance to feel the momentary shifts from trust and allowing to clutching and shut down.

Sensing these shifts on Apache’s back lets me have a more acute kind of consciousness out in the world.

Trust. Fear. Trust. Fear.

Open. Close. Open. Close.

Love.

Knowledge

"MASK",  1992,  12" x 5",  ceramic

"MASK", 1992, 12" x 5", ceramic

Yesterday, I attended a luncheon called WOMEN ON THE MOVE which was a fundraiser for the MS society.

I was honored to be invited by a new friend who was the keynote speaker.

I was told that usually people dealing with MS don’t get an invitation because it’s safe to assume we don’t have much money left over after all is said and done.

It was a really well attended affair..a class act..good food, pretty people, all the shadowy parts of the disease ‘nicened up’ a bit for the purpose of the affair.

My friend was brave in the delivery of her testimonial. She proudly sang short verses of songs to illustrate some of her points which were put forward in a lovely and honest way.

Afterwards, as people were milling around, I heard in various conversations that it was so great to know about the different kinds of MS, how it affects ones’ life, the adaptations we have to make, etc..

Walking with my walker gave me a great entry into conversations with some of the elite of New Mexico. I have a very visual disability as the walker goes where I go and I can’t hide it.

What I noticed from speaking with people was a really palpable relief from being introduced to some of the specifics of this disease we don’t hear on TV.

These were people opening their checkbooks wide and doing so out of their innate compassion but the fact seemed to be that many of them had never been up close and personal with the disease.

Made me see how very important it is to TALK out loud with people about this challenge and help people pull down the walls between the able and not. To educate people into a zone that feels safe enough to enter; not just for us afflicted with the disease because as we all know- NO ONE GETS A PASS in the human frailty realm.

It’s a good thing to feel like an ambassador in that way.

I didn’t follow my own words of wisdom from yesterday’s post about listening, tho…

I sat at a table next to a GORGEOUS twenty-something and saw fear in her eyes and somehow put on my bulldozer outfit as I launched into sharing what I know about MS with a newly diagnosed and terrified girl.

Oh, Cathy.. When will you learn to contain yourself when the situation calls for it?

Really, I just wanted to help. To sooth. To heal. To fix.

But I forgot to listen and she became invisible under the weight of my ‘share.’

I really need to get out in public more to hone my skills as a civilized being..  I did notice yesterday that most all my social inhibition and shyness was GONE!  Interesting..

I realize I may have been rambling a bit here but I am sensing something coming to the surface for me which is not fully formed..maybe a way to participate in a more visible manner toward the goal of educating people about MS? Working with kids? I don’t know yet.. But surely I am changing and beginning to feel ‘a CALL’ or invitation to do something I had never before considered.

I love new territory! Today, I promise to be a better listener for guidance and inspiration offered me from any source whatsoever which might help me move forward.

Fine Line

detail, textile design, 1989, wool flannel

detail, textile design, 1989, wool flannel

I remember a few years back there was a phrase being used something like: ‘connecting through the wound’. I’m pretty sure you guys never had this in your vocabulary but for us of the female species; we are always looking for ways to CONNECT! (I am now hearing the audible shuffle and scrape of shoes worn by the aforementioned half of the population in their mass exodus..)

This topic interests me because of the combination of revulsion and seduction I feel in talking with people about my health challenges.

It is truly a fine line between letting those who care about me in on how I am in an honest and vulnerable way

AND

launching into a whole shared-experience kind of thing where people start talking faster and their voice gets a little higher and eyes seem a little manic..

I’m watching all this in myself but it is a fascinating anthropological study in our challenges as a species to connect intimately and fully without moving toward THE WOUND.

Here’s an example:

“Hi Cath. How are you today?”
“Well, actually, I had this wave of fatigue wash over me this morning and I’m giving myself over to a nap.”
“Oh, I know.. Mt aunt who has MS has to deal with this all the time and she goes to a naturopath and gets this homeopathic concoction that he made specifically for her constitution and she has to take it every hour on the hour for a few weeks. She really likes this guy and thinks he has pretty much saved her life and she told me to tell you about him. He’s expecting your call. Here’s his number.. Don’t call on Thursday or Friday but the other days you could probably………….”
“Uh, huh.. Well, thanks so much for telling me about him. I’m gonna have to get off the phone now but talk to you soon.”

Granted, in this imagined conversation it is not a shared desire to connect through the WOUND by both people but you get the idea.

I’ve watched myself have a day where I had been feeling very isolated and empty only to see that I had just gone over the hour mark in a phone call talking about doctors, symptoms, meds, changes, et al…and STILL felt isolated as I reported all this stuff to ears that were only interested in their needs and story as I was in mine. YUK.

The FINE LINE I’m talking about is the one we’re each responsible for. It is more of a LISTENING line, I think.

Listening for where we slip into the addiction we have as a culture to FIX, and FILL IN EMPTY PLACES. Reach across the abyss of that inherent isolation in all of us by telling stories about someone else more than likely because it’s easier..but so far away from that tender, quivering thread between two people with the honor of experiencing one another for a moment.

I know this sounds ‘pie-in-the-sky’ to some, but it’s what I’m after. Not always. But I want to have that feeling of the preciousness of life more than I do now.

I’m REALLY not talking about any kind of scary intensity.. just the sweetness of a MEETING…a knowing, a seeing and the unexpected GRATITUDE that seems to always follow such experiences.

Simple:   I see you. You see me. Have the finest of days.. Glad we met. I am better for it.

Thank you..

Home

home1

I was invited to a friends home for dinner the other night.

There were four of us. A girls night.

This invitation came from a newish friend and I had never seen where she lived.

When I walked across her threshold I immediately got quiet.

I felt safe, welcome and an honored guest.

Why was that? She lives in a trailer (in the toniest hollow in Santa Fe).

It is an unpretentious home with all the qualities of fine living.

These are the things I noticed that made it feel like HOME to me:

There was a big, red leather chair from Design Warehouse set at the perfect distance from a roaring and REAL fire. The lighting was soft and diffuse and didn’t overpower the humans. There were intriguing and very personal treasures everywhere I looked and I wanted to LOOK. Kindof like I entered a treasure hunt and I’d never have enough time to assuage my curiosity. There was stuff COOKING! Not just ‘stuff’ (these are the descriptions single girls who don’t cook so much tend to use when offered the miracle of a home-cooked meal..pathetic, really). We had a giant, claret-colored and heart-shaped homegrown tomato with fresh goat cheese and olive oil the tenderest green color which almost made me weep from how smooth it was..with chopped fresh basil. Dinner was served by my adorable apron-wearing friend on fabulous plates with satisfying flatware. One candle in the center of the small round table. She cooked a hotdog for Olivia who was invited too..

The conversation was funny. And honest. And interesting. And loving. And real.

I was so happy there, with my friends and my dog and the fire and the recognition that all I needed was right there in that moment and I need not worry myself over any thing.

Safety. Beauty. Intrigue. Companions (sometimes). Pleasures for each of the senses. Simplicity. Nurturance. Nature. Sanctuary. Authenticity. These are some of the things that make home for me.

I’m building mine from the inside out.

Still under construction…

Self Portrait

fur portrait

This piece was created in 2002, not too long following a divorce and the diagnosis of MS and the death of my mother.

I like it.

It is strong. Unapologetic. Hopeful.

The elements are naturally pigmented earth (yes, THIS is what colors New Mexico serves up!),

.. mica in the shape of a butterfly stretching her wings at the bottom of the piece,

.. red fur to symbolize my very primal love of life and being a woman,

..black pointy things surrounding the nest of fur to protect her (not a leaden wall but more a fence with openings..),

..gravel at the bottom to suggest the rigor of the road,

..and a gold thread takes you to the apex of the pyramid

..where there is a chinese coin and small piece of quartz to magnify the intent of reaching for the gift (whatever that may be..)

I love the strong shape of the pyramid; something we often associate with male power when used in this direction.

When my intuition told me to use this shape in this way on the SELF PORTRAIT, I knew I would be ok..

I could NEVER have negotiated these rugged roads on my map without the fierce and unrelenting choices I make to KEEP RE-ENTERING the ring.

After that initial push, I can soften a bit and bat my eyelashes at the opponent in the hopes of creating some fertile ground to move from. (perks of feminine wiles..) The opponent running the gamut from fear to fatigue to disappointment to rage to apathy to disbelief..

Something more COOPERATIVE rather than EXCLUSIVE seems to work better.

INVITATIONAL and ALLOWING.

You’ll find me out back pulling those die-hard weeds..

Today..

jump

…I like these words:

gumption

mettle

moxie

got game

pluck..

especially that one- p l u c k

very good word, don’cha think?

Energy

prickly

All through out my career as an artist, sculptural objects somehow reminiscent of this one have arrived from my hands.

Round and concave with the inside like the heart of an artichoke: something mysterious and hidden, protected by prickly things.

Because I have always valued NOT deciding what I want to create but rather being LED toward fertile ground, shapes like this one arrive unbidden, waiting for me to give them the attention they ask for.

Most people are afraid of this kind of work from me. Men especially.

The immediate response is that this is sexual in nature. Vaginal. Scary.

Their faces contort into pinched retreat. But they continue to be drawn. To look. To look where we’re not supposed to look.

I finally figured out that the work I create which seems to scare people is archetypal in nature.

I think that because I surrender to the PROCESS of creativity instead of letting my mind direct the results, the gift that arrives is often outside our cultural comfort zone but valid in its’ desire for ‘air time’.

I really don’t care that much what other people feel about this work. Their responses interest me but I realize the message here is mostly for me.

In my healing, I see the connection between my disabling weakness and my disconnect from a good deal of myself.

I am certainly a ‘daddy’s girl’.

I looked into my mother’s eyes and found no power there.

Never did.

And so, I moved on and looked to my father.

There, I saw a slight ability to move outside himself and BE MOVED by nature, power, attention, accolades at work, beauty, visceral excitement, simple pleasures, hedonism.

I grew up hating women. I recognized in my early twenties that I better figure this out as I was neglecting 50% of the population.

Almost ALL my friends were men. I love men.

I went to New York and took a workshop called WOMEN, SEX AND POWER. It changed my life as I got to see all the faces of Eve over a grueling weekend and saw that I belonged to a complicated, passionate, compassionate, smart, naive, beauty-seeking gender. I fell in love. With women.

It was the first part of what has been a lifelong quest to discover who I am as a woman having had no count-on-able guide or role model.

I really am seeing that these sculptures I have made over the years are touchstones acting as way-showers.

They are prickly but somehow invitational at the same time. There is not a total shut down quality but a warning and a challenge.

If you intend to take from me more than you are offered, beware.

But if your heart is true and you have a little patience- here there may be gifts revealed to you.

This approach I am making toward an authentic life and access to my birthright of true visibility as a whole woman is a rigorous one at best.

But really… what else is there to do but take steps to unveil ourselves and show up real and true and strong and soft and ready to love?

Bitchy Girl

totems

Yesterday, I spoke with the central guide and mentor in my life.

She said: “Cathy, you cannot just skip from pain to enlightenment..or, in other words; move from the challenges you face to taking the ‘high road’ in your attitude without getting your feet dirty in the disappointment and grief.”

She said her take on my current dive in energy and strength stemmed from not feeling the entirely human and horribly base emotions that go with the changes in my life.

I am, indeed, an optimist which I do not intend to give up but it is becoming clear that I have a backlog of disappointments I need to face down.

It was a four kleenex day in her office and so I was able to see the truth in her surmise that I am lending a blind eye to the hard stuff and skipping off toward the glittery road of denial.

Truth be told.. I am wearing my passive anger like a well-fitting trench coat from the new collections out of New York.

Had myself and probably a few others won over.

My homework is to make a list of the things that have disappointed me. I’ll start here with a few and see how this goes/feels:

1. After ALL the tests I had done at the Mayo Clinic, they neglected to tell me I had a urinary tract infection which I have been living with unawares for 4 months now.

2. I have spent ALL this energy and money on moving toward wholeness over the last 8 years and I continue to progress at even faster rates than ever before.

3. Friendships I counted on as safe places turned out not to be that.

4. My efforts following many peoples’ well meaning advice have produced few results.

5. I am disappointed in myself for not acting on some of the things one facing disability does automatically as far as governmental paperwork, legal counsel and left-brain activity in general.

6. I push through my loss of function like an armored car, refusing to pause and accept the reality of change. I am grief stricken at the loss of freedom.

7. I can’t do my art and I can’t cry about it yet.

8. I am, with many exceptions, deeply disappointed in the human races’ ability or interest in dealing with disability.

OK.. that’s about as far as I want to go on this topic today.. I’m watching myself just LIST this stuff but not FEEL it…yet.
Cathy’s ‘fine line’ has been reached for this morning. The question being: How MUCH can the girl get to while writing to her witnesses on the web??

I so appreciate the sort of cloistered feel of the confessional here, in my studio..

But one has got, at some point, to draw the curtain and walk/roll out there and just DEAL…

Thanks for listening and helping me get started on this..

Oysters

oystershells

This is a piece I made after a trip to the South Carolina seashore.

I love to look for treasures after a storm.

What you see are hundreds of oyster shells with small ceramic stick-like shapes which look like the seaweed I saw that morning.

I threw in a few shells from other beach adventures.

The piece is called “TIDE” and is 5′ x 5′ in size; big enough to get lost in.

I went to a new MS support group yesterday and found some pretty fabulous pearls..

Not a victim of circumstance in sight.

A father concerned about his daughter going off to Israel for 35,000. worth of stem cell therapy.

A high-tech titanium wheelchair with cool visibility lights on one wheel held a fabulous vet who knew everyone and, it seemed, everything a person like me wanted to know about where, how and who to talk to about anything. She surfs, skis, paraglides, horsebackrides and lives fuller than most.

A great man with sparkly eyes and an easy, bighearted way about him made me glad to sit next to him.

A beautiful woman who had attended one of my workshops recognized me immediately and as she walked perfectly, I said: “You were diagnosed with MS, too?” “Yeah.. the fatigue thing.. ”

I really don’t take to groups too well. I’ve seen them fall to the lowest common denominator too often to count.

Not here, though..

These were people making a LIFE!

Yes, challenged by slurred speech, fatigue and a host of other pesky obstacles but probably not too different than you..

They CHOSE to remake the grit into some pearlescent thing.

A precious and unassuming treasure passed over by many.

Not an in-your-face kind of beauty but a noble and upright sheen that catches one unawares..

And, after the moment of contact; never again the same.

Layers of a Day

"LADDER",  1985,  5' x 5', pigment on wool flannel

TODAY

Fall seems energized

In yellow and violet.

She waits to lie down.

The Well

"HOMAGE TO KEN",  2001,  22" x 22", starfish, earth, mica, ceramic

"HOMAGE TO KEN", 2001, 22" x 22", starfish, earth, mica, ceramic

My nephew graduated from high school.

I love him dearly and wanted to give him something special as a gift.

I am making him a book filled with some of the things that have helped me along the way.

Just a sort of ‘check-in’ place when it all just seems too, too much.

I was thinking about what I felt was the TOP thing I might begin his book with; the BEST piece of wisdom I know..

Here it is:

As I look around at our culture in particular, I see the decline of a tolerance for emptiness.. I listened to NPR the other day and they were reporting that the average time between text messages between teenagers is somewhere around 5 minutes.

At a restaurant the other day outside on the patio, a woman downed three glasses of wine at 11:00 in the morning as she talked incessantly on her cell phone totally disregarding my audible pleas to see the ‘no cell phone’ sign directly in front of her.

It’s alarming to register the need we now seem to have to fill in every single empty space inside us with SOMETHING..

A sound, a communication, a food, a belief, a fear..

Just SOMETHING to assuage the void.

As an artist, I know something about the void.

I go there regularly. I soften and let myself open to something I don’t know and hope to be led to create something of vitality.

I am concerned for the next generation who have no tolerance for or even much interest in taking a walk and just looking, or reading a book from cover to cover on a rainy day with a dog on the sofa with you, or just sitting there and absent- mindedly staring out the window or spending the whole day not speaking to another person.

I feel it in myself, this cultural impetus to get up and DO something! Got a minute? Make a list or call someone or, or, or…

If we’ve always got our attention on OTHER, we have this constant outpouring of life force and are so seduced by the ACT of ACTING and DOING that we don’t even notice when we’re EMPTY.

And THEN we seldom have a clue how to fill ourselves up again to stay sane.

That’s what I call THE WELL. I really sense we are losing the ability to find it when we are spent.

In the escalating chaos we all are in the middle of, unless we know ways to get back to THE WELL, we’re gonna run out of juice and not have a clue how to regenerate ourselves when the DOING is DONE.

I want my nephew to know how.

I think it’s different for each of us but behooves us to be clear in our minds about where that WELL can be found when we’re just too damn tired, crazy, spent, confused, stuck or all done in to figure it out when we need it NOW.

The Hand

"APPLES",  2001,  40" x 70", m/m

I’m just crammed with fear today.

Now that my dog has stepped away from death’s door a bit, I’m a mess.

Could be that thing that happens in relationship where one of you cracks a little and the others’ job is to hold it together..

Why does it seem we seldom get to skate these days?

I know it’s not just me.

Reminds me of poker.

I’ve always been so curious about the game tho I don’t know the first thing about playing.

It seems you are dealt a hand and you keep it secret while doing your damnedest to create a mystique around what cards you hold.

If you do this well, people seem to make up their own stories about whether your hand is good, great or empty.

You play off one another’s stories.

Alot like life. How my life used to be.

My hand is pretty out there for all to see, these days.

Today, I became just terrified at this level of vulnerability. I can’t hide. And I know how to do that so well!

As my body feels less and less like my own, I find I am conscious of what is REAL as opposed to a story.

I was thinking about connections I am making with people which hold a distinct quality of TRUTH or RIGHTNESS to them whether I have known the person for a moment, a week, am reading about them or never met them at all.

This doesn’t seem false to me because I am now playing my hand from the heart as best I can.

Said simply: I have no energy or interest in ‘playing’ my hand other than being VERY, VERY judicious whose table I pull my chair up to.

I no longer have to THINK too hard about the value of where I am drawn and to whom.

I trust my INSTINCT as it becomes wilder and less domesticated.

More the scent of MUSK rather than JOY perfume (fyi: sweet, sweet, SWEET)

Yellow Man

untitled,  30" x 22",  1992,  monoprint

untitled, 30" x 22", 1992, monoprint

I came across this print I made from years ago and started laughing..

I remember it being a landscape of sorts as I added the bold red horizontal as the horizon line.

The shell beneath it is to suggest the sea.

Then there’s the spiral for the sun and the rest is weather, I guess..

But see the little yellow man dancing on the sun?

Hard to see him in the photo.  He has his legs apart and waving his arms in the air.  His back is arched.

How odd I chose to put him there.

What WAS I thinking?

I remember studying a particular kind of native american pottery called Mimbres

In this work there is always a figure of some sort; animal or human, which is painted in the center of the pot.

When the bowl is ‘done’ (no longer to be used), the figure in the center is RELEASED by breaking out the center.

I remember taking this great shape of a man and copying it to make a stencil.

AND HERE HE IS!

Riding on the sun.

Yellow as can be.

What does it all mean?

I haven’t a clue.

But it makes me feel good to look at it.

Neighbors

"SEA CUCUMBERS",  2005, naked raku, size varies

"SEA CUCUMBERS", 2005, naked raku, size varies

Where I grew up we didn’t know any of our neighbors.

It was suburban Detroit and car country.. the land of INdependence, NOT INTERdependence.

We carved out our fort and erected big walls. MINE, MINE, MINE!!!!

I’m single, have progressive MS and am finding myself not that interested in making walls these days.

I have spoken before about my ‘people-pleasing’ skills leaving me less than authentic and the diagnosis of MS having given me the impetus to do the work it took to find the REAL GIRL.

Well, interestingly, it seems as if I may be segueing into a desire to CONNECT rather than the last few years spent with my attention on letting go of what didn’t work; the emptying out in preparation for the attracting in.

I saw this yesterday as I attended a new MS support group being held in a place called Rainbow Vision.

My friend, Carlos told me this was a particularly vital group of people which included a wheelchair athlete.

As I parked and went through the doors of this place I noticed something happen to me.. I FELT REAL GOOD! Just by walking through the door.

I just took note of this and proceeded on to find the room where the meeting was to be held.

Turns out the date had been changed so no meeting but I sat and spoke with Melinda, the  director of the place.

Forgive me as I am still unable to link to websites within the blog but I’ll tell you about this.

RAINBOW VISION began three years ago as a sort of retirement community geared toward the gay and lesbian community.

It is a gorgeous place. Well appointed with an amazing array of amenities: restaurant, gym, bar, in-house phys. therapy, shuttle to anywhere.. the list goes on.

What impressed me as Melinda and I spoke was the foresight of the place to realize that this kind of environment would appeal to the straight community as well. People like me who wanted interesting people around, to live in a lovely spot where a sense of smart-community was a high value.

In my efforts to look down the road for myself, things like grocery shopping, driving, just the effort enlisted in daily living are seemingly simple things we all take for granted until we can’t.

If I fall, I wouldn’t know my neighbor’s name to call out to for help.

I listened to myself say in conversation yesterday that I prefer to be around people who have been shattered in some way or had their ‘ego rug’ pulled out from underneath them. It sort of shocked me when I said it. Why is that my preference?

Because if, for one reason or another, one is catapulted out of the status quo through disability, sexual orientation, color, life preferences or happenings, there comes a point of choice: Is life bigger than me or can I make a good one from what hand I’ve got to play?

It is HUMILITY and CREATIVITY and INCLUSIVENESS and COMMUNITY  and CONNECTION that interest me now.

Rainbow Vision let me see a model of the old communal-living style jettisoned into the present by cleaning up the place, recognizing peoples’ need for privacy as well as desire for community as well as an elegant life and providing services in case of need.

There’s a significant sense of safety when I think of it.

They put a twenty first century spin on the possibility of taking DOWN the walls.

Doing this disease without a partner is challenging at best. I am attracted to the idea of having like-minded souls around me.

Not sure what that will look like.. just noticing the changes in me.

Some Grace

"CHOICE",  1993, 5' x 5',  m/m

"CHOICE", 1993, 5' x 5', m/m

Some grace came down on me.

I know that because my dog is alive and, by all rights, shouldn’t be.

She is fighting the good fight and Grace is right there with her, giving her time, keeping too emotionally involved humans (read: ME) out of the way.

When I think of GRACE, I often remember when our family would visit my grandmother on Christmas Day.

This was always a somewhat stilted affair. Good gifts all around and a great, silvery and formal table unfit for children.

After dinner the adults gathered around my matriarch grandmother while she smoked and a ‘chosen one’ lit the fire.

We pinched our fingers together as we carefully lifted small, thin porcelain cups of coffee to our lips. The cups were so thin that when empty one could see the image of the queen of England. “Mom, when do we get to go home?”

There would come a moment just halfway through the coffee-time when she would rise and slowly walk to the phonograph across the giant oriental rug.

She’d choose a record and slip it from the sleeve. Set it on the revolving disk and carefully place the needle.

MAHALIA JACKSON!!

I LOVED this part.

It was like we were all in a very strange and STRAINED movie..

Who was this black voice and why did my grandmother insist on playing this record?! “This is weird,” we’d all be thinking.

Because my grandmother was always so withheld and WHITE!

And here was this voice that had so many threads to God going on that it was a regular afghan being knit!

The voice swelled and fell, whispered and boomed.

And THEN it was Christmas!

Only then, as my grandmother never looked at any of us and in her own private God-drawn chariot, she cried heavy tears.

Right in front of us!

Never wiping a one of them away.

I didn’t have the guts to approach a conversation with her about why this particular ritual meant so much.

Guess I had the sense even way back then to know that God was near.

And it was a very private affair.

I learned only later that those who know, don’t say…

Just can’t be done.

Clean

bowl,  18"d x 5"h,  1999, ceramic

bowl, 18"d x 5"h, 1999, ceramic

Lately, I am continually drawn to an architect named John Pawson (see www.johnpawson.com – my computer isn’t letting me do a link this morning..)

He knows about editing.

I WANT to know about editing down to the very essential. I am a student of editing one’s life.

I’m not sure I’d like to live inside one of his buildings but he certainly does the ‘nothing extra’ thing well.

Light, shadow and a whisper of the organic.

It’s almost like living in bonsai.

You know, that pesky branch sticking out to the left too far?

Snip, snip..

This black mascara doesn’t match the new softness in my heart..

Snip, snip.. Gone.

If I talk to this person on the phone, he will steal whatever little bit of life juice I’ve got in me today and I can’t afford it..

Snip, snip..

Does that make me bad?

Because I don’t really have all my warriorship protection skills down yet..

That’s why this process of living essentially is vital to me.

Kindof messy in the beginning but

I can’t find out what IS essential till I realize what’s NOT.. Let it go.. Make a vacuum that invites something new and spare, elegant and connected.

Sort of Calvin Klein with a little dirt on the hem of my coat..

****** PS.. Olivia is hanging in here.. fighting the good fight. I love my dog.

Next Page »