I Need Help

"CIRCLE", 1999, 30" x 4', m/m

"CIRCLE", 1999, 30" x 4', m/m

Those who know me are probably quite taken aback by seeing the title of this post.

Just writing it let’s me know how much I’ve changed.. am changing.

I AM NOT REALLY GOOD AT NEEDING HELP.

But there it is… I do.

Recently, I asked a really good friend if she would consider driving me up to Colorado (6 hours) to see a particular doctor I have an appointment with.

I need to be there M – TH so that means being gone 5 days.

I am well aware this is ALOT to ask of anyone yet I asked because I am required to go see two different people up there who have offices an hour apart and it became apparent that flying was not an option.

This dear friend said she was willing to go with me.

But I haven’t been quite able to trust her at her word that it is OK for her to take all this time out of her busy schedule with work.

I am sssssssoooooooo into her business here and can’t seem to release us both from my own projections as to why this accompanying me will be such a hardship for her.

And I’m pretty sure, given her druthers, she would be happy NOT to go..

But she said yes to going with me.

This kind of gift of time, care, compassion and effort directed toward my healing is the magnitude of something offered by a parent or a spouse.

I don’t have much (if any) recollection of being on the receiving end of this kind of ‘going-outside-your-comfort-zone-for-another’ kind of love from either my marriage or my childhood.

I could very well have my blinders on but I can’t recollect..

My whole being during childhood was couched with the flip side of this equation:

If I figured out what my parents wanted and needed and gave it to them then, in my wee mind, I might have a better chance of easing their existence and perhaps getting a taste of the protection and care I was due as a child.

But no… didn’t show up that way for me.

And so.. here I am as an adult having the treasured love-gift of time and effort from a good friend being offered me and it feels so new and different that I’m close to getting in there and fucking it up..

But I won’t.

Because I’m going to allow the gift of help being offered.

And practice expanding my armored and wary heart to let this in.

And she will probably have to tell me to shut up a few times as I remain in that place of grace called gratitude and insist on telling her.

How did it get so hard to love me?

I’m pretty sure it’s worth the effort, though, as there are miles and miles of uncharted territory beneath this veil I wear..

First Steps

"TANGLE",  1993, 5" x 5", monoprint

"TANGLE", 1993, 5" x 5", monoprint

Yesterday, I picked up my new leg brace.

First.. it happens to be gorgeous in all of it’s ‘leopardness.’

Second, I was in tears much of the day as my body adjusted and readjusted to the correct alignment a leg and foot are meant to have.

Funny, how these changes affected me so emotionally. I didn’t expect that.

But really.. when you think about all the efforting my miraculous body has been doing to compensate for loss of function in various parts of me- it all makes perfect sense.

The troops are all working their damnedest to move toward health and find these frustrating roadblocks like potholes in the nerve pathway that should allow one to bring a leg forward gracefully..

So then the whole energetic regiment has to find a different road..like the one that can lift my leg up with the sheer strength of my upper hip or my lower back.

Works ok for awhile.

Until the fatigue level just has the whole army lie down and nap till it has the energy to continue.

Take that tried-and-true scenario and add the brace and VAVOOM!!!!

You got yourself a little mutiny amongst the ranks!  CHAOS and CONFUSION!  What used to work, isn’t.

Today, I’ll take my ‘type-A-ness’ and soften to let my body adjust to this new support.

Little by little, I can sense the spectacular power that will be available to me as I drop out of the fear of falling and the frustration of trying to THINK my way through movement.

The very act of moving from VULNERABILITY TO SUPPORT is slightly dicey..

You’d think I’d slide into this (so to speak) with the eagerness and ease of a seal in the water.

It is almost like falling in love.. the IDEA of meeting, connecting, dreaming and touching are so seductive that we often DIVE IN.. and then… after the initial mind-blowing first steps, we relax into getting to know one another a bit.

Trusting that if we slow down, we might have a better chance of building a foundation that will last.

What Does It Mean?

"OVERVIEW", 1998, 30" x 50", m/m

"OVERVIEW", 1998, 30" x 50", m/m

In conversation with a good friend yesterday who also has Primary Progressive MS, she said: “Did you know there are three of us who lived in the same dorm in college who have been diagnosed with MS?”

These three are from the circle of people we knew and somehow have kept track of.

I don’t use Facebook but she does and is trying to do a little detective work.

This information floors me. And her.

I hesitate to say anything more about this at the moment because it would only be conjecture but it does give one pause..

And so… I am taking that pause…

Snow

"DECENT", 1998, 5' x 40", m/m

"DECENT", 1998, 5' x 40", m/m

It’s snowing in New Mexico.

I seem to thrive on change. It makes me feel alive.

Growing up in Michigan was a little much as the winters there are grey, slushy, frigid and wet. Oh, yes, and LLLLLOOOOOOONNNNNNGGGGGGG.

But in Santa Fe, Winter is brilliant and exciting and pristine and (almost) welcome.

The thing is that Mother Nature RULES here in the land of enchantment.

We, humans, can’t get too big for our britches because the land here is just so BIG! BIGGER THAN US!!

I love that.

It helps me put things into perspective when they’re not.

Like today.. my joints ache and my fatigue level is high and my limbs are weak and, and, and..

BUT… the seasons are changing and it is white outside the window and there is a question as to what wily MOTHER NATURE will do next because she is a mystery and keeps her secrets so well.

No BODY can know what she has plans for..

And that, to me, is very exciting.

It opens me to MYSTERY AND POSSIBILITY AND ADVENTURE.

But mostly I feel relieved that she has never revealed all her cards.

We, who think we’re so smart, can’t see beneath her veil.

I feel put in my place.

And grateful for the unknowing.

Showing Up

blanket, pigment on wool flannel,  1980

blanket, pigment on wool flannel, 1980

The sale of art I held over the weekend was great in many ways and a disappointment in others.

I am very ready to let much of my work go but the reality is that few people have any money languishing idly in their pockets.

The world is changing. Not just mine, but EVERYONES.

This still feels exciting to me even in the midst of chaos.

We need to change.

It’s uncomfortable and inconvenient at best.

So, after I spent awhile in disappointment that my expectations for the weekend were not realized, I began to wrest myself away from the fear and opened the ‘reality check’ door.

I finally remembered that the ‘ALL THAT IS’ doesn’t necessarily deliver the goods when and how WE have decided we think they should come to us.

Our job is to KEEP SHOWING UP the best way we know how and ALLOW the effects of our energies to play out as they will.

And they will.

But I hate this part sometimes because I WANT WHAT I WANT.

But it doesn’t go that way.

Sometimes, I am so very glad I don’t get what I want.

And that there is a higher order that filters my puny desires and returns my well spent energy in a form I NEVER KNEW I NEEDED OR WANTED.

What a relief.

My job is to show up.

And allow.

Power Tools

"THE COMING", 2001, 40"x40", m/m

"THE COMING", 2001, 40"x40", m/m

A friend told me he had to use a bulldozer to move all the mud from our recent rains.

I felt jealous.

I had the opportunity once long ago to drive a tractor and cut hay.

I really could have done that for the rest of my life and been quite happy.. (the other farm stuff doesn’t really do much  for me, though..)

Anyway, I was thinking that men have their power tools and I wondered what mine are?

At the top of my list goes CHANEL No. 5 cologne or body lotion.

When I need to remember myself, I go straight for that bottle.

Next, I would say my stash of a supplement called MAX B which is jammed with B vitamins my body craves.

Then, there is the ‘power spot’ in my home where I lie down with earphones on and listen to a cd of Tibetan Bowls being played. My dog is plastered on my stomach.

Another tool is going on a driving adventure to a tried and true place or a destination unknown.

I use my connection to the moon when I need it.

I wear either black or white as both those ‘colors’ never conflict with the ‘me’ that seems to shift so often energetically.

I tuck power objects into my clothes.

I have raw and honest and funny conversations with good girlfriends.

My creativity is another tool that never lets me down. Ever.

If I feel really far away from myself, I GIVE SOMETHING TO SOMEONE ELSE.  Works every time.

Oh, and let’s not forget the perfect lipstick. Sounds shallow, I know, but these are things that serve me well.

And what is the thread connecting all the things in MY toolbox?

I suppose that each of these things helps BRING ME HOME.

By that, I mean the natural and unaffected, authentic Cathy. The one I am beginning to know and trust to stick around.

The one I forget and need help remembering.

I like her.

And so, I give her the things she likes.

And let us not forget the pleasure in taking in a field of hay on a tractor with a red seat in the afternoon heat of the sun…

..and the scent of GREEN…… home.

Moving Forward

detail, "RENAISSANCE", 10' x 4', 2009, earth, mdf

detail, "RENAISSANCE", 10' x 4', 2009, earth, mdf

Today, I am hosting an open house where I will divest myself of most of my private art collection.. the pieces I created over the years that I chose to live with.

The purpose for this event is twofold: one- to have the opportunity to offer my work well below gallery prices in the hope people I care about may be able to take something beautiful home with them, and two- to purchase a wheelchair-adapted van for myself in the near future.

People have asked me if I feel sad letting all this art of mine go.

The truth is that I am thrilled to pass the work on to it’s next steward.

I really am not attached which kindof surprises me, actually.

Each work of art gave me what it could and now someone else will have the pleasure.

I am more of a ‘process artist’ which means that the actual process of creating is the main event for me; not so much the end result.

This serves me really well in my challenge with MS, too.

Not to be so attached to the end result but to enjoy the ride; learn, listen, cry, laugh.. the whole shebang..

Easy to say- harder to do.

But, I think, worth every effort in that direction.

At Rest

"SILENT ONE",  30" x 30", 1999, ceramic

"SILENT ONE", 30" x 30", 1999, ceramic

I find it challenging to be still.

My mind gets in there and makes me think there are other things more pressing than rest.

Rest = sloth in our culture.

My body wants to lie down.

Too many years of hyper-vigilance when I was more interested in figuring out what another was feeling and catering to their needs.

I’m a novice, really, at knowing what my own needs are.

I thrive in silence.

Very seldom do I listen to music.

In this process of healing I am in, the symphony I listen to is my blood.. My breath. My muscles. My nervous system. My digestive system.

These are the main events going on and I see that I must fall in love with THIS music..

I must lie down and feel mySELF (with a capitol S).

The culture is roaring at my door with the incessant chant: “YOU MUST DO! DO LOTS OF THINGS AND DO THEM PERFECTLY AND DON’T STOP DOING, EVER!!!!”

Today, I will listen to my own personal symphony and lie down for more than 15 minutes without guilt.

New Ground

detail of installation,  1992, ceramic, coal, earth

detail of installation, 1992, ceramic, coal, earth

I LOVE gaining ground..

Decisions I have been making lately regarding diet and most of all asking for and receiving support are really shifting my point of view as I negotiate these challenges inherent in a body hosting MS.

Doctors tell me I have no control over the progression of disability in my body.

But I never once (maybe once) believed them.

I am seeing that this is surely an inside job and of late, the choices I am making are helping me feel more whole.

Five things I am doing now that are shifting things:

1. I am letting self judjement fall away.

2. I know in every cell of my body that the supplements and medications I use are helping me heal. I make the taking of them a really conscious and sacred event in my day.

3. I am opening myself to support; things like being fitted for a leg brace, feeling good about inviting friends over to help with my open house this weekend.

4. My diet is very clean; organic with no yeast, dairy, sugar, coffee, alcohol and lots of vegetables and fruit. I have not turned into a boring and food-centric person which was a fear. (Granted, this is MY perspective..)

5. I pray. Alot. The way I pray has changed as I am making invitations to the Gods for my SELF. (My Episcopalian upbringing still waits for the thunderbolt as I say that..)

These things are making a marked difference in the quality of my life.

Making my way through the MS landscape feels like tiptoeing through the above landscape with the additional mines buried here and there.

Gently, and with all the presence I can muster, I go…

Instructions Not Included

"LOVE LETTER", 1999, 12" x 5', m/m

"LOVE LETTER", 1999, 12" x 5', m/m

Let’s see.. did I misplace those instructions somewhere when I opened the MS box?

Don’t see them anywhere…

Sometimes, this forced vocation of detective gets to me.

As I sat in my support group yesterday and listened to people speak, each person had their very own version of this disease that only barely resembled anyone else’s story.

What’s a person to do?

For me, all the litanies of treatment, symptoms, progression rates and meds/supplements ingested make for a dizzying ride.

This health challenge helps me go inside…go inside my own body and LISTEN.

If I really get quiet and stop worrying, wondering, comparing or being numb and just going through the motions as I make decisions, the guidance is right there for me.

It is SO very seductive to depend on someone else’s idea of what I am experiencing.

I don’t want to think about this.

And so.. I’ve seen myself look at a doctor I don’t even feel connected to or particularly respect and I DO WHAT I AM TOLD…and on down the road I feel angry and disappointed at the lack of results forthcoming.

I make that doctor SO WRONG!

But really, it was me.. I wasn’t listening.

I took a pill or followed through with a treatment that I didn’t fully believe in from the start.

Why would my body EVER jump into a healing partnership with inauthentic efforts on my part?

I am learning things like I MUST FEEL CONNECTED IN SOME WAY TO MY PHYSICIAN.

I HAVE TO FULLY BELIEVE THAT THE COURSE OF TREATMENT I CHOOSE HAS THE CAPACITY TO HEAL ME (whatever that looks like).

I MUST REMEMBER THAT THE BODY I HAVE TODAY IS NOT THE ONE I WILL HAVE A MONTH FROM NOW SO THINGS MAY NEED ADJUSTMENT.

And most important: I WILL DO MY BEST TO BE SMART AND SOFT TO THE GUIDANCE AVAILABLE TO ME THROUGH THE INTELLIGENCE OF THIS BODY.

Here’s just a little example of this: A few weeks ago, I gave up coffee and dairy.

I have always known diet plays a significant role in my weakness level but prefered to keep doing those things because of the pleasure quotient and rest in the knowledge I was doing ALL this other stuff as my ‘MS regime.’

Well.. after all these years of KNOWING this information but not taking action on it.. I now see marked changes in my body!

I feel cleaner and clearer. My tongue is no longer coated. Balance is still precarious but I have more ‘constitutional power’ to keep my awareness strong and focussed.

These big results make it easy for me to keep with the program and not weaken into my addiction to the pleasure-zone food brings me.

This new clarity trumps that history, for me.

Seems simple.

Took me about 8 years to listen to what I knew.

I think the instruction booklet is right here all along.

Takes awhile, though, to learn the language.

The Beginning and the End

"WHITE BARNACLES", 1994, 20" x 60", m/m

"WHITE BARNACLES", 1994, 20" x 60", m/m

This weekend I will host a studio sale and let go of a good portion of my private collection of art.

Over the years, I have saved one work from each period in my career, the above being one of them.

The purpose for this sale is twofold:

One is to purchase a van to house a power wheelchair.

This is a remarkable transition time; some good some questionable but CHANGE, she be comin’ on fast…

The second, and perhaps more important reason to offer my work in this way is the pure joy of making my work available outside a gallery at prices which allow many of the people I know and love to have the experience of taking something beautiful home with them. They will leave with the knowledge they are supporting me in my new life in partnership with a wheelchair.

I am SO looking forward to letting all this art I have loved, go to new homes!

Interestingly, I am no longer attached to them as I once was.

They will have new lives in new places and I will be left in the space between; the room created as I let a huge piece of history go (because I love it) and welcome the vacuum created by it’s loss.

It is a win-win-win situation for the art itself, the person taking it home and for me as well.

Funny, how I thrived on my relationship to these pieces of art for so long and then.. their time with me is over…

I am sssssssooooooo glad I KNOW when to let go in this case.

The freedom is perfectly thrilling.

Backbone

sculpture detail, ceramic

sculpture detail, ceramic

This journey with MS as a partner is not for the faint of heart to be sure.

When your hearts’ light goes dim, one must rely on backbone strength.

Hopefully, and thankfully in my case, I seem to carry some kind of reserve there, in my backbone.

I’m speaking metaphorically of course but I really think were they to test the bone density back there, mine would blow them away.

We all.. all of us in the MS contingent, have backbone.

It comes, I think, from living in the unknown.

We count on CHANGE as the most reliable event in our lives.

Yep, this ain’t no game for wimps.

Usually, I’m prone to go galloping off to the high road and find the little place inside this challenge that actually DOES move me toward WHOLE depending on my point-of-view.

Today, I am just going to let myself rest in what IS… not expend any energy moving it toward any other nicer ground.

My optimism saves me.

And changes me.

And I am blessed beyond words to have it.

But today..today I am just to damn spent to do any psychic machinations to locate the rose colored glasses though I know I look really good in them..

Today, I will let my friend drive me to a doctors’ appointment with the wheelchair waiting when we get there because there are too many long halls to negotiate and I will let her push me (new experience for us) to the office,

I will lay out my full history once again like an outfit on the bed before school the next day.

I’ll brave the horrid fluorescent lights and perhaps prickly nurses’ assistant and become my best advocate one more time.

Because we always need practice, don’t we?

And THEN I’ll have lunch with two new and fabulous friends who I am beginning to love already.

They also have BACKBONE as well as Primary Progressive MS.

They are gorgeously ALIVE and GENUINE and BEAUTIFUL and SMART!

Except when they’re not..

I feel grateful, once again. to share this particular road of mine because after all is said and done, it is THE THEATER OF THE ABSURD to be sure but how utterly fabulous to turn just barely to my side and feel the preciousness of EMPATHY, COMPASSION and the gift of gifts: BEING SEEN TRULY!

Because, now and only now am I able to come forward without a costume.

The raw and new and alien skin of a woman becoming…

My Tribe

figures, 2000-03, ceramic

figures, 2000-03, ceramic

I love my friends.

They tolerate me when I cancel plans.

They somehow always play to my strengths so I can remember they are there when I forget.

They are my mirrors in the dark.

They help me see past the messy house and too often worn clothes and forgotten story I told them yesterday that I am now telling them again.

They look beyond the un-pedicured toes and un-plucked brows and ugly shoes and dog hair covered coat.

They hear my tears when they haven’t even risen yet.

They eat cake with me and we call it ‘the sacrament.’

I know God knows what we mean and doesn’t mind a bit. Encourages it, in fact.

They shop for me so I can heal.

They travel to far away places with me in search of  doctors with good sense and the magic remedy that might urge me toward physical wholeness.

They look at me with their steady chihuahua eyes and in an instant I remember what matters.

They read my blog and tell me they like it and that it means something to them and I’m not just singing to the choir.

They keep me safe when I get off a horse and my legs crumple and then..

Then they hold me when I cry from frustration and then..

They laugh with me at the absurd theater of it all!

They make amazing meals and invite me to sit at their table.

They smile a genuine smile when they see me on the street.

They take Olivia for walks and love her well.

They have lunch with me after I see a new neurologist.

They drive me places and pick me up and pull right up to the door to let me off.

Even in the rain.

They respond when I have the courage to ask.

They help my heart open by slowly letting me see that helping me PLEASES THEM.

They help me whittle off the exhausted and hyper-vigilant me who knew herself only through serving others in the most unholiest of ways…to GET THEIR LOVE in return. Ugggggggg. It feels so PATHETIC to reveal that!!!!!!!!!!

But I know I’m not alone and someone’s gotta say it.

My friends are my anchor as this boat drifts and rolls with the swells.

I’ve got my pole hanging over the edge and catch great and unusual fish which I look at; I study them and familiarize myself with their newness and beauty and ugliness too.

I sit down to a meal, alone and rolling there on the sea and give thanks for each and every speckled fin and scale as I have the Thanksgiving meal of a lifetime.

And then I give thanks for it all… the whole darn table filled with exotic and frightening and sumptuousness spread out there for me..

But most of all- I give thanks for the ones holding the rope..

The ones who won’t let me drift too far but allow enough slack so I feel free to try on different emotions, different actions, different prayers to see what fits this newly authentic me.

They stand by me when I can’t.

And because of these gifts, I am here and feeling impossibly alive…

She Walks Pretty

"CALLIGRAPHIC STRUT",  40" x 30",  1995, m/m

"CALLIGRAPHIC STRUT", 40" x 30", 1995, m/m

Yesterday I went to a place called Hangar Orthotics and Prosthetics.

They make legs and arms etc.

Also, they create braces for people like me with foot drop which happens sometimes to people with MS.

It is a failure of the nerve impulses to travel coherently all the way down to lower extremities.

As a result , I have trouble lifting my right foot up as I walk and to avoid catching my dangling toes on the ground, I swing my whole leg out to the side to avoid the ground altogether.

It makes me tired to do this and afraid too.. afraid of taking a fall I might not have the strength to recover from.

And SO… along comes as my hero!  ALBERT.

He fit me with a 1/8″ thick resin brace that goes from my toes up to my knee joint.

He made an insta-cast of my entire foot and calf to be able to custom fit this to me.

It sounds disgustingly techno and heavy but in reality is fairly unobtrusive.

It keeps my foot at a 90 degree angle at all times and insures that my foot no longer curls under itself which it liked to do.

When he  let me try a brace on to get the feel of what this could do, my entire being relaxed into the effortlessness of WALKING! It was THRILLING! This walking thing…

The level of trustable support is amazing and I felt like a stupid idiot for not doing it sooner!

It was that pesky pride issue. I really had this very grand story going on about how it would look and be bulky and call MORE attention to myself and, and, and…

I got to pick out a pattern from a fairly extensive catalog to personalize this new part of my life.

I picked a leopard print.

This brace cannot really be detected too easily under pants; even the stretchy and form fitting
ones I wear.

I’ll need slightly bigger shoes to allow for the 1/8″ of resin but really no big deal in the scheme of things.

I am happy.

Happy I got around to taking good care of myself.

Happy I put the pesky pride down.

Pleased to think about using the energy I’ve been targeting toward fear and hyper-vigilance in my negotiating the world, for something else entirely.

Ease… give me ease.. I want ease now..

Makes me think that there is a slight possibility I may get some more of it when my power wheelchair is here.

Oh, God.. I’ll think about that tomorrow…

Close

detail, "SEA CUCUMBERS", 2001, naked raku

detail, "SEA CUCUMBERS", 2001, naked raku

All my life I have been intrigued by underwater colonies of barnacles, coral and kelp.

There was always something terrifying about the ‘intelligence en mass’ of a group of beings living so closely together.

But there was also the admiration I carried for them; that they had the ‘whatever’ to thrive both as independent elements and have the group identity as well.

You could see this as my anthropomorphizing this whole scenario..and you could be right..

Or it could be just a woman recognizing her own inherent distrust of other human beings as she watches other species in awe of their capacity to live so closely.

I love being a part of an intimate relationship but I lose my power pretty quick.

Or at least I have done that in the past. Haven’t given myself a chance in recent years. I do believe things might be very different as I am broken open now inside these dealings with my health.

Emphasis on the OPEN.

Most days I would not use the word ‘broken’ to describe me.

But really, If I did have a momentary crumpling into a puddle, wouldn’t it be nice, Cathy, to have a strong hand there to reach for?

Just asking.

You see, these are the interior ruminations that keep me company, sometimes.

They are mildly entertaining but my heart is ready for action.

I can tell because it starts beating faster when I think about barnacles…

I realize fully that this may sound mildly psychotic to some but I do think I get some points in the TRANSPARENCY department, don’t you?

If nothing else, it should make yourself feel very, very good about your own life..

And for that, I am glad.

Naive or Innocent?

"WANTON GIRL" detail,  1994, 6"x3"x3", ceramic

"WANTON GIRL" detail, 1994, 6"x3"x3", ceramic

I usually position myself in life as a student..

Knowing I am here to hopefully become a bit more tomorrow than I am today.

There seems to be a very distinct difference between meeting life at the door with wide eyes open to being called toward directions never dreamed,

AND…

The folly of surrendering to that very seductive naive place when the archives we carry inside us have distinct entries marking particular experiences with a big question mark.

DO YOU REALLY WANT TO DO THIS THING BECAUSE I SEEM TO HAVE SEEN IT WRITTEN THAT YOU KNOW VERY WELL WHERE THIS ROAD WILL LEAD?

That’s naive.

Innocence is when you can sit down with a friend you’ve felt betrayed by and leave the history at the door. I am talking about the ADULT kind of innocence; not the infant kind where we have NO history to pull on us either way so we are truly a clean slate.

What I’m interested in is the state of being where we can risk an outcome beyond what we know by clearing the slate enough to allow something as yet unnamed to occur without putting our well being in jeopardy.

I come up against this in my choice of medications, supplements, diet, bodywork and beliefs I negotiate regarding PPMS.

Something new and untried often has the scent of quackery or ‘last-ditch-effort’ to it.

I hope never to lose my openness to innocence.

As long as I keep my archive alive and at the ready (which has alarm bells built in that keep me from harm most of the time), I will continue to open to new ways of thinking and treatment that feel correct for my body and soul.

Of course we can all go directly into the ring along with science and religion as they duke it out over the ‘rightness’ of the particular kind of intelligence each KNOWS is CORRECT.

I am grateful for the stability in my being that allows a modicum of openness to ‘other’.

What we know has taken us only so far.

There are miles to go before we sleep.

Ducks in a Row

detail/ ceramic, canvas, m/m

detail/ ceramic, canvas, m/m

Part of the purpose in writing this blog is an effort toward TRANSPARENCY.

First, to myself; then to you as the gift of truth..

My family ever so lovingly came to visit me en mass a few months back.

We were all scared.

We all love each other very much but, as adults, are just now piecing together the skill and courage it takes to know one another for real after living in such a very screwed up family for so long.

We survived our shared childhood.  Just.

Part of how we did that was to scatter across the tundra as soon as possible in an effort to save ourselves.

For a long time, just proximity to one another reminded us of the untenable atmosphere of home so we just skirted the issue and made our own insular lives separate from one another.

We all love each other to the core but stutter toward any connection that resembles constancy.

We are surely a family and I am so very proud of my sister and brothers AND we are making this up as we go along in the arena of how to be together in our current sanity coming from the challenging environment we survived.

We each have extraordinary gifts; my sister happens to be the best mother I have ever encountered (go figure..). She creates glorious meals that would make Martha Stewart question herself in the privacy of her own home. I admire her steadiness. She is brilliant, funny and resourceful. My brother dreamed of becoming a pilot when very young. Against all odds (my mother) he achieved this dream and flys for Southwest with Captain status. He, also is an amazing father. My other brother makes me laugh like no one else. He has a weird and dry humor, is smart along with funny, ALSO a great father, loves his family fiercely and as an adult is pulling away from the gate at quite a clip in the ‘giant-hearted’ department.

As I am the eldest and there is a 5 year difference between my sister and me, we all grew up in very different families, perception-wise.

We each chose survival identities for ourselves.

Mine, I would describe as etheric and impractical.

I was interested in the ATMOSPHERE of a thing; not the mechanics of making a secure and good life.

My love was and is THE PRESENT MOMENT.

I envy my siblings because they seem to have ease and capability in the practical department. They actually have a working relationship with THE FUTURE.

I am smack in the middle of PRIMARY PROGRESSIVE MS and getting the wake-up call of a lifetime in the ‘how-to-create-a-safe-and-secure-life’ department.

This is truly not for the faint of heart and I would not recommend attempting this without a loving and patient partner but here I am…IN IT.

Facing myself. Blinders coming off.

It’s really pathetic that humans don’t often change until we get in enough pain.

This is messy, messy business.  Rich territory but gritty at best.

Sometimes I wonder if that, right there is the reason I’m in this conundrum with MS.. Is it some weird graduate course in CHANGE I signed up for in a previous lifetime?

My sister says I am resilient.

She told me that yesterday.

Somehow, that comment coming from her felt like a shimmering thread of hope and encouragement that yes, I am seen and I really think I have it in me to go the distance..

Figure Eight

"CONNECTION",  2002, 40" x 40", m/m

"CONNECTION", 2002, 40" x 40", m/m

I was thinking about what makes a truly satisfying relationship for me.

Like, is there a one-sentence description that captures that most slippery slope of connecting with another in a way that leaves one completely satisfied?

I thought: “Maybe I should start here with my love for my dog and see exactly why this particular relationship feels so rich and multi-textured with nothing wanting.”

So: What do we have here?

Olivia has a life.

It is hers and hers alone.

Yesterday, when we came back from an errand, I was too tired to put on her leash to come into the house from the car so I let her out of the door, trusting she would follow me.

She did not.

I hobbled inside and watched myself swearing up a storm as I had to pee and wasn’t sure I’d make it and the dog wouldn’t come when called and I swore some more and thought myself so stupid for trusting she’d do what I wanted and knew my anger covered big fear that something bad would happen and, and, and…

I thankfully made it to the bathroom and then stood in the doorway and waited. And waited.

Ten minutes.

Half an hour.

Please know that stress is really not great for MS and I was certainly in it.

I was so very weak and yet this scenario was unfolding and I had to do something so I chanced getting back in the car to go look for her.

(This really is getting back to the subject in one second…)

Didn’t see her.

I am now quite paralyzed on many levels.

I drive home.

She runs out to greet me.

Jumps in the car and has her tail tucked between her legs and wagging it a mile a minute as she rolls over to have me rub her stomach.

Well.. I could have scolded her but my true reaction was intense gratitude for the gift of more time with her. My heart could barely contain itself  at the knowledge she chose to have her adventure on HER terms AND choose me again.

Isn’t that really IT?  That we all screw up repeatedly (in the others eyes) and yet..and YET!  There is room to return.  Return with the tales to tell from the adventure!

What does all this have to do with anything?

If you translate the scenario to human terms it looks like this:

Person is expected to do something you want them to do.

They don’t.

You get pissed off.

You get all mad and hard and ugly..

The whole world disappears because you are afraid what you had is no more and you can’t do a damn thing about it.

What I realized is this: Each of us has our own story, our own adventures, thoughts, beliefs, wants and desires.

We get in REAL TROUBLE if we think we have and control over another.

If you look at the template of a figure eight:

I’m not talking about a circle, here, but TWO independent and distinct circles.

Each person (dog, creature, anything, really..) has it’s own life and to make a REALLY successful relationship another qualifier is that the life is WHOLE and PERFECT on it’s own.

When two whole and strong circles meet; there- at that precious spot of joining, the miracle of successful relationship can happen, I think.

Only when each part is already whole and meet without a dire need to control or be completed in ANY way, can successful and satisfying relationship happen.

MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL RELATIONSHIP.

Lovely.. so very lovely.

..and challenging. So very, very challenging.

Hidden Tears

hidden tears

HIDDEN TEARS

You’re in there I know,

Hunkered down somewhere between

What’s here and what’s gone.

—–C.A. Oct. 2009

Creatures

"SHELLS",  2001,  size varies, ceramic

"SHELLS", 2001, size varies, ceramic

I think I’ve spoken before about my relationship with turtles..

The turtle chose me long ago as my animal totem.

I really wanted something cooler like a hawk or whale or eagle; something recognizably powerful and majestic.

But turtle came to get me.. not just turtle, mind you.. but the DESERT TORTOISE.  Impossibly old and capable of navigating extreme terrain.

As time creeps forward, I see why we are together.

A turtle has some of the same characteristics that shells have..

They both carry a highly sophisticated and almost impenetrable outer shell.

No need for guns or sirens; the unbearably soft inner tissue is safe.

But they can choose… choose full exposure should they decide to.

Choose to come forward with the gift of that impossibly soft and vulnerable mass of evolving and changing tissue; continuously moving forward toward ‘becoming.’

One of the teachings for me personally, seems to be that I become aware of the total CONTAINMENT these creatures exhibit.

They are not dependent on outside forces for safe haven and carry their homes with them.

Their pendulous and painfully slow movement is the antithesis of what our culture celebrates and honors.

Slow……………………………

I am slow……………these days.

Strangely and quite unexpectedly, it allows me to constantly get all my ducks in a row, so to speak.

I find myself with a much larger reservoir for love, for instance..

And I let kindness wash over me for minutes, even hours, instead of almost missing it altogether.

I catch an intuition.

I see a friend’s eyes go from bright to dimly glazed and back again to bright at the mention of something or other.

I feel tears in the back of my throat left there weeks ago; uncried and losing their patience.

I sense how my legs lose their rooting when I’ve got my attention on the place I’m going instead of right here where I am.

And then, when I’m spent from all the energy it takes to keep BECOMING, I retract my long and vulnerable neck and arms and legs and tail and slip into that hidden nest where I’m pretty sure I can’t be found.

Until I want you to…

And more than likely, I’ll have something new and maybe dear to whisper in your ear or take your hand and we’ll have an adventure.

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