Alexandra’s Art Opening


textile design, 1987, silk
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I seem to have access to more energy these days.

Last night, I took a good friend and we went to an art opening.

The artist is one of my best friends.

I had trepidation entering the hallowed halls of the art world as I’ve cut the cord in many ways while I heal.

People miss me I know and wonder at my absence.

The art world is charged with lots of “Look at me! and tell me what you think about me!”

I also have unfinished business with two old friends I knew would be there.

We have loved each other and abruptly lost the friendship and carried hurt and probably a grudge or two over years as we cordially meet and separate, the grudge still taking up space.

But yesterday, something freed us.. let ME loose at least.

These two men are a couple who’ve been together for many years.

They are inseparable.

Between the two of them the energy front is formidable.

Not in a mean way but more an ‘us -against-y’all’ kind of thing.

Last night, the gods were with us as I met each of them separately.

In the few moments of chat and checking one another out, we healed.

Actually, I can’t speak for them.

For me though, a giant shift happened.

Things I noticed:

1. I was practicing NOT CONNECTING which I wrote about last week.

2. I looked and felt 100% on my game.

3. I had my friend at my side who I love and trust as support whereas I usually go to these things alone.

4. My energy was good so nothing in me was dragging or wishing I was elsewhere.

5. I was extremely present and genuinely glad to see these two SEPARATELY.

6. I was able to meet their eyes in a very clean energetic way and in that moment the grudge was gone and I loved them again (SEPARATELY).

The separate thing seemed to be the key.

I’ll have to remember the fact that I get overwhelmed when too much energy is coming at me like poorly disguised daggers and I fold.

Seems like a no-brainer when I say it but I am just a toddler in the self-protection arena.

From the reaction I received from many at the opening: “Cathy, you look so great!” I can sense that ALL THE HEALING I AM DOING ON EACH AND EVERY LEVEL SHOWS!

And I can feel it.

And that is what counts.

And I am on my knees in gratitude for the gift of life-with-the-energy-to-live-it.

Amen.

Building a Life


“”REVELATION”, 1996, 24″ x 6′, m/m
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It takes a long time to find a way to make a new and functioning life living with a debilitating illness.

At least it is for me.

I can go into self-criticism fairly easily if I forget that the changes I am working on don’t necessarily show up like: “OK! NOW WE GOT IT GOIN’ ON AND WATCH OUT WORLD!”

No.

Sometimes, even to myself I look like just a progressively disabled woman headed for under the nearest bridge as home.

That is when the ability to articulate what feelings I am having and the courage to get my butt over to where I know wisdom grows, saves me.

THIS IS NOT A SOLITARY PATH!

A hidden life seems comforting in it’s ability to render me seemingly invisible.

But the dragon / angel keeps filing her nails on the screen door and eventually I let her in just to keep my sanity.

The changes in me are ESSENTIAL, meaning ‘of-my-essence.’

But also essential in the way that means PRACTICAL in that my newly crafted life cannot take root without these interior shifts and gains.

When I lose sight, I need someone wise to remind me of my largest self.

For me, this could be a group of trusted people, a sacred (to me) place, meditation or a visit to one of my mentors.

Yeah, the way out is surely through..

And when I am surely through with the ‘through’…..

I pick myself up off the ground and put some great lipstick on and make a call or take an action.

And nobody out there will probably ever know the heroics it takes to push on through.

But that is ok because if someone reminds me, I KNOW..

And it is all right.

Sweet Spot


detail , 2006, 76″ x 54′, ceramic, earth, mirrors ,nails
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My dog, Olivia is my primary healer some days.

The weakness in my legs seems to stem from a specific spot in my lower back.

She knows something is ‘off’ there.

This little creature burrows down under the covers and presses her back into the small of mine and stays there.

When she does this we both heave a huge and audible sigh.

How does she know?

What did I do to gain the privilege of her company and healing?

If I cry, she lays on my chest with a furrowed brow and licks away my tears.

She keeps licking until I am soothed and quiet.

I see her face becoming progressively whiter by the day.

I know part of what she does for me is to take on much of the energy I release as I heal.

We are both working very, very hard.

People tell me they are not sure they could negotiate this terrain I deal with moment by moment.

The truth is we never know what we are capable of until called to the plate.

I do what I do but I am blessed not to do it alone.

White Men Want


“WHITE MEN WANT WHAT INDIANS GOT REAL BAD”, 1980, 5′ X 5′, pigment on wool
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This is my favorite title of a piece for all time..

And it is true.

I always wanted a Native American friend. (see?? the wanting thing..)

But they don’t like me.

And I know exactly why.

I am an ingratiating person by nature.

I like to connect.

If you meet me I will likely have a smile for you.

Native people can smell truth and point to where you’ve hidden it in two seconds.

They do not meet you with a smile and seem frankly suspicious if they carry one at all.

Goodness knows, they don’t really have an overflowing archive of stuff to be thankful for.

One thing they have that we want is the ability to contain themselves.

And be quiet until something presents itself to say.

I respect these things.

But in Native people, these qualities were born out of pure survival.

They kept their religion, anger, knowledge of the land and the stars, loves and losses hidden.

Because they could not afford anything less that a hermetic seal on their life ways.

I am not so indiscriminately ingratiating these days.

My own hermetic seal is at the ready.

It still feels weird to practice NOT TRYING TO CONNECT.

I go places and purposefully GIVE NOTHING AWAY WITHOUT A PROMP FROM THE UNIVERSE.

No smiles, no eye contact, no participation in the collective mess UNLESS I AM URGED TO DO SO.

And then.. then I find that the ‘vibe’ of the thing I have chosen to connect with is elevated in some way.

Not watered down by overuse or inattention or carelessness in any way.

There is purpose behind my connecting… not habit or need.

This way of being saves me SO MUCH ENERGY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am just beginning this practice.

Just beginning all over again.

Not Too Sure


detail of monoprint
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Oprah always has the last page of her magazine full of “THINGS I KNOW FOR SURE.”

A whole page!

Imagine…

Is it ok to hate her a little bit?

Freddy


6′ x 4.5′, m/m
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I went to Fredrick’s memorial the other day.

He took his own life at the top of his game.

He lived a very big, big life for still being in his 30’s.

Lots of people depended on him, looked up to him, had expectations of him.

He was a very smart, giant-hearted, rich and generous man.

He began as a collector of mine.

He had very good taste.

But besides that, he was an extremely refined gentleman and I loved him.

Celebrating him as we did the other day made me think about his choice to throw in the towel.

It shocked everyone and no one more than his beloved wife.

I thought about the various ‘lines’ I have had in my life so far.

Lines I never thought I wanted to or could live beyond.

Peed or shit in my pants? Done that.

Can’t find the strength to lift my body up to sitting from lying down and convinced the weakness was forever? Yep.

So depressed you can’t find the where-with-all to find a glimmer of an appealing future? Uh huh..

The thing is that each time I feel I have reached a line I can’t/ have no interest in going beyond.. I somehow pull it together to stick my toe in the waters beyond the line and find the weirdest thing…

That it was not my real ‘line’ after all.

And that the me who crossed the line is soaking in a new humility that helps me drop some of the hard and angular density of being human and take on a bit of translucency.

I can only imagine that my friend, Fredrick found himself at a line he could not find his way through.

If I love him, I cannot judge him for his choice.

Do I feel gypped because I don’t get any more of him? Yes.

But that is all about me..not him.

I loved you, Freddy. Love you still.

You left your mark on us and we wish you peace.

I am more because you were here.

Air


“ATMOSPHERE”, 1998, 30″ x 30″, m/m
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Before dawn I throw crumpled clothes on and, out of habit and desire, put some lipstick on.

I smile at my dog’s high-velocity tail and strap on her leash.

I unplug my wheelchair from the charger and sit down.

I wheel over and open the door to ‘out there.’

It rained just a tidbit last night and so the air meets me like a lover; soft, mysterious, full, inviting.

I love the half-dark.

The colors are dimmed, the air quality elevated and chilled and perfumed.

Songs are begun and ended on cues I can’t know from treetops and under tangled brush.

My breath slows.

My brow and jaw let go into original softness.

My dog feels the release in the loosened grip on her leash.

The wheels of my secondhand chair make a sort of tired but bearable sound.

I breathe.

And pray.

And breathe some more.

There seems to be enough.. right here in this moment.

I am full.

Of nothing.

No Rest

Well…… this here made me pause:

It is almost funny.

But for me, the one who now lives her life from 5-10 am and then again from 7-11pm because of the heat here,

The thought of having to find a dime for the privilege of sitting down is just too much for the girl.

Honestly, is this a commentary on the preciousness of PAUSE or WHAT!!!!!!?????

It is most certainly a cultural thing that puts the fear of god into us at even the THOUGHT of a midday siesta.

Do more, be more, earn more, say more, go more places, read more, accumulate more.

MS is the drill sargent for LESS.

One just has to get used to dropping dreams and capabilities and muscle strength and pride and plans along the roadside.

All of a sudden, after years of unloading, you lie down for a rest and your heart starts beating wildly.

Oh my God!

It is 2:00 in the afternoon and there is so much STUFF TO DO! I can NOT lie down!

I fight this fight in myself almost every day.

It is so very stupid.

I need rest though I can’t seem to allow it.

The heat is really the best antidote for this neurotic wave of ‘cultural norm’ I ride.

What would happen if I gave myself over to the wretched weariness?

Who would I be if I welcomed it as a signal to stop?

Is moving faster and more, BETTER?

For who?

And why is the rest pill so hard for me to swallow?

If I surrendered to it would I ever get up?

How do you make a life in the bench-sitter lane?

Is desirability all about productivity?

Is the space between as valuable as the form on either end?

As I keep dropping coveted stuff by the wayside under the forced discipline of MS, I am being asked to fall in love with emptiness.

It actually has quite an ‘elan all it’s own.

But I’ll probably be asked to drop that too..

Date


detail of textile, pigment on wool flannel, 1984
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I’m lucky when I think it is funny that I notice myself making up intricate stories about the future.

I say lucky because it is so seductive to execute a full-out novella when really I only know the first few words for sure.

Let’s back up here..

There’s a man.

Then there’s me.

We feel connected in a sexy and invitational way.

We really like each other a lot. Respect one another. Can sense a little bit of the ‘us’ behind each of our backstories.

So we inch a bit forward to test the waters on a ‘kindof date.’

We share a table and it is CROWDED with all the expectations, longing, assumptions and tangled webs of two precious humans hungry for a soft place to fall.

I wanted..

And he wanted..

And we missed each other in all the wanting.

The essence of our connection which is pure and real and very rare is not meant for lovership.

It interests me how the instant a powerful energetic synergy is perceived between two people we immediately think it is about a particular kind of intimacy.

These days, I see myself drawing people into my life who support me on very essential levels which have nothing to do with staying the night.

I know the world is moving ever faster because my past is full of relationships I knew were not essentially supportive yet I stayed in them for years.

I love that I can trust myself more easily these days.

Recognize the many, many faces of love.

And not feel I have to take them all home.

Healing


untitled, 1995, 30″ x 40″, m/m
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Yesterday, I had a much needed massage as I fell the other day.

Not hard but enough to weird my body out.

Goodness knows, I have seen my share of body workers in the life of this disease.

I am a discerning client to be sure.

In order for me to glean any benefit from a session the bodyworker, whether acupuncturist or masseuse or physical therapist or chiropractor must possess a few qualities:

1. INTEGRITY…They have handled the sexual boundary issue. I’ll know in an instant if their energy is other than on the task at hand. Healing can only happen supported by an atmosphere of integrity. I don’t have the energy to wade through other people’s ‘stuff.’

2. EXPERTISE… Probably all knowledge can be learned but in certain cases I have had the honor to work with people who ARE the knowledge, meaning they don’t seem to have to work to access it; they just embody the essence of healing. Rare birds, indeed.

3. COMPASSION… I am not sure you can be a true healer unless you have been shattered in some way yourself. I am not certain we are born with the oceanic capacity for being with another’s sorrow unless we have experienced some of it ourselves or as witness to someone we care for.

4. ABILITY TO BE A CONTAINER.. Signing up for a healing session can be full of surprises.. tears can come or limbs can tremble.. If the healer does not have the ability to provide a safe place for the healing to happen, healing CAN’T happen.

Yesterday, I was so weak that I could barely get up on the massage table.

When up there, I realized the privacy sheet was crumpled up at the end of the table under my thigh and feet.

I struggled and moaned to try and grab it to cover myself before he came back in the room.

Couldn’t do it.

Because I felt totally safe with him I had some embarrassment but no shame as he came back in the room and there I was.. butt to the wind exposed..

I told him I could not reach the sheet to cover myself and he untangled it from my feet and draped it over me.

The session we had was profound in the level of release that occurred.

The letting go that began yesterday is still happening this morning as I write.

I am so very grateful.. for him as the true healer he is and for myself for having the level of discernment and courage I do and for the GRACE that arrives when everybody has their hat on straight yet tipped a bit in homage toward the great unknown.

Break


detail of ceramic sculpture, 14″d x 12″h, 1977
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I have a wise friend.

Yesterday, we spoke and she shared something with me about narcissism.

I happened to have had the queen of narcissists for a mother.

It was always all about her. Always. Always.

But each and every one of us began thinking we were the center of the universe until we were rudely awakened to the fact that THERE ARE OTHERS HERE WITH US WHO HAVE THEIR NEEDS TOO!

Yuk..

My friend was speaking of how each of us chooses a tactic for survival at that pivotal point.

When dealing with the NARCISSISTIC WOUND we either inflate ourselves as a counter-attack or we deflate.

We carry this tactic along with us into adulthood, long after the threat experienced in childhood is gone.

I tend to DEFLATE.

It looks like this:

I beat myself up all the time for perceived mistakes.

If something is ‘off’ in any way I tend to look towards my self for the cause.

I don’t make use of my full vocabulary in order not to put someone off.

I ‘dumb down’ in order not to shine too bright and take attention away from others.

An example of INFLATION might look like how my father used to cover up his wound.

He worked for General Motors and because of his position, could bring home new cars to test out for a few months at a time.

We all knew the script to pull out for these moments: ‘DAD IS GREAT AND GOOD AND THIS IS SO EXCITING AND HOW LUCKY WE ARE!’

He charmed everyone at family gatherings with his shiny good looks and easy sociability to such an extent he had people lined up to get a bit of the heat.

We got the dregs of his drunkenness.

I think this way of looking at myself and others is so interesting.

In the theater-of-it-all I can now begin to distinguish my own and others PRIMARY ESSENCE before we picked the INFLATION or the DEFLATION card.

It is so easy to see now and so much easier to forgive.

I watch myself going: “Oh yeah.. he’s feeling scared so he wants me to know how great he is.”

Or: “I feel really insecure on this date so I’ll try to connect by telling him a fault of mine (mistaking this for intimacy)”

This is a GREAT piece of information my friend shared.

It feels so freeing to me.. uncomplicated and true and practical.

Today, I’m going out there to try and keep my tires road trip-ready.. not too much air nor too little..

So they can take the bumps as they were meant to.

Heat


detail of sculpture, ceramic
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Cathy has MS (or whatever it is..)

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

She is irritable.

50,000 tourists descend on her town in the Summer.

They wear khaki shorts and spanking new cowboy hats to keep off the sun.

They are good because they buy things.

But there are too many.

And it is HOT here!

100 degrees some days.

This makes Cathy very weak.

It is best to leave her alone when she gets this way.

Tomorrow will be coming and that is a good thing.

Convention Center


“RENAISSANCE”, 2008, 10′ x 3′ x 3′, earth,wood
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This large sculpture stands in the center of an outdoor courtyard on the main floor of our local Santa Fe Community Center.

Upstairs on the roof terrace there are 15 more smaller versions of this peeking out amidst gorgeous landscaping of feather grasses.

These were the last works-in-form I completed.

These upcoming weeks are high season in our town.

Many, many people from all over the world will be here for INDIAN MARKET and various other events.

I am proud to be represented so publicly.

And I miss the hands-on work that goes into creating large sculpture.

My body has just moved into different territory.

I try not to hanker after what was but really, IT WAS GREAT WHILE IT LASTED!

And an important piece of me I am proud of.

Onward ..onward we go into territory unseen and calling us to the mystery whether we like it or not.

God, please make it just as interesting and satisfying as it used to be.

White


“WHITE SANDS”, 2008, each piece = 14″ x 14′ X 7″, gypsum, wood
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Yesterday, I pulled a sage green sweater from my closet and put it on.

I went about my morning and noticed I was getting really irritated and depressed.

There was a pile of clothes on the floor and I watched myself keep looking at a violet shirt I had worn the previous day.

It wouldn’t let me go.

Finally, I realized the green of the thing I had on was NOT WORKING FOR MY WELL BEING.

I tore it off and put on the violet shirt.

Immediately, I began to feel more myself and as the day progressed I lost all memory of the depression.

SO…….. WHAT HAPPENED THERE?

If you look in my closet you will see a lot of black, white and variations on red.

I seem to be particularly sensitive to color on my body.

I have learned which ones let the essence of me shine through without their own overlay of agenda.

Doesn’t this sound very ‘Santa Fe’?

But really… color affects me deeply and I think, all of us to varying degrees.

It is a powerful tool.

Just watch women in the political realms staking their claim to power.

They wear a horrible shade of orange-red suit.

Someone told them red is a power color.

And they take that to the bank without a modicum of finesse.

What SHADE of red works for me?

IS RED EVEN A POWER COLOR FOR ME?

How do I know?

All very good questions, indeed.

For me, WHITE happens to serve me best when I want and need all my ducks in a row. It is a power color for me.

BLACK is purely neutral in my case and I understand why I have so much of it in my closet.

On my way toward discovering my authentic self I could have nothing that distracted me from my task. The vibe of bright yellow, for instance, might’ve sent me to the loony bin.

Yesterday, I was heading in that direction but caught myself in time.

I love sanity.

And knowing some tools to keep me there.

Crossing


untitled, 1992, 30″ x 22″, monoprint
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Cross is a strange word.

It is a religious symbol, yes.

And used differently it can mean sourness as in: “I am cross with you.”

You can cross over or into.

Cross one mushroom with another and get a third.

Cross out a whole sentence.

Or cross paths with another.

The gist seems to be a meeting point where one thing joins another or pretty much obliterates what was happening previously.

I heard someone on the radio speaking about the symbology of the cross in Christianity.

He described it like this: The horizontal line is representative of our very humanness.

We traverse these waters and have our various experiences, good and not so good.

The generator is our WILL.

We will ourselves forward and shoulder the very heavy HORIZONTALNESS (my word..) which certainly can be peppered with adventure, intrigue and golden things.

If we are fortunate, the luggage gets too heavy and we put it down to rest a bit and see a street sign still dripping with fresh paint with only the word “OTHER.”

We are so damn tired of the road and the weight and the willing of it all that we haven’t the strength to keep to our plan and so we leave the bags at the corner and make the turn.

The only thing we take with us is surrender.

And the turn opens to us and keeps opening and we fall in love with the question mark.

‘Till we get scared and need our favorite shirt from the left behind luggage and we retrace our steps back to the crossing.

But now the beloved shirt has a moth hole.

So we leave it at the side of the road and make the turn once again…

…and again..

..and again.

Chaos and Order


“BEACH SANDS”, 2007, sand,wood
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This piece is made from sand collected from many beaches.

I have always liked the juxtaposition of chaos and order.

In this case, the idea of tiny grains of sand from various places; tossed in the waves for God knows how many eons and then introducing the geometry on top of that.

It soothes me, somehow.

And so, I wonder how this thread of order and not which shows up in my work so often makes itsself known in my life?

Well, the chaos part is pretty self-evident.

It starts with an M and ends with an S.

The order is the interesting element because I seem to fight it in many ways but see that it is essential for a sense of wholeness for me.

I’m feeling too vulnerable this morning to list all the areas out of order in my life at the moment but suffice it to say they are there.

…and there..

…and there…

What I am drawing attention to this morning is the solace that seems to come from the presence of the two.

Together, they are life-supporting. Chaos and order.

I’m going to wobble over there and clean up my desk…

How to Pray


ceramic, steel, 1997, 28″ x 4″
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.
.
HOW TO PRAY
.
First, get out of the way.
.
Stay low to the ground and take
.
No thing for granted.
.
.
CA 2010
.
.
.

Mystery


textile design on silk, 1987
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I have the oddest feeling a new life is waiting in the wings for me.

I have certainly had many, many incarnations lived out in just this present lifetime.

And so, it seems another is just around the bend.

There is not too much fear.. some, truth be told, but the pull toward this new thing, whatever it is wins out over trepidation.

In the transition I don’t trust myself in the world.

My fuse is short and my tolerance level low.

I was meandering through my favorite bookstore yesterday looking for solace and a gorgeous amazonian black
woman sat at a small table with a sign offering intuitive readings.

I seldom choose ‘in-store’ guidance givers but I was drawn to sit with her and after all was said and done I left with the knowledge I needn’t look anywhere other than the avenues I now depend on for way-showing.

Illness fosters drawing at straws when answers aren’t forthcoming.

And always, I am asked to return to home base..

Close my eyes and go inside and ask for what I need.

Have the where-with-all to tolerate the stillness it takes to STOP.

Weirdly, this is so challenging for me.. the curtailing of incessant ‘going out there’ for answers.

We all seem to be heading fast and furiously away from stillness what with all the bells and whistles in our techno-age.

Where is our tolerance for silence?

Our ability to sit soaking in the unknown trusting it’s innate intelligence?

Knowing that we don’t know and that has to be ok sometimes even if it makes us wiggle and squirm.

Unbecoming Behavior


untitled, 30″ x 30″, 1999, m/m
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The process of getting well is fraught with bumps in the road.

For me, healing is a process affecting my emotional, spiritual, mental, psychic and physical selves.

Each change I make in one area shifts the others in some way.

Sometimes I am literally flattened and I don’t know why.

The thing I DO know is the more I let go of who I thought I was, the more I become uninterested in becoming.

It has been a life of pushing toward achievement for this girl.

Like a good and true American entity, I TRIED to go for the gold.

But in my art career “IT” eluded me.

Sure.. I made money sometimes and have magazines galore with beautiful spreads on my work.

A resume’ that tells the tale of decades of TRYING.

But is that it?

Is that the gold?

Truth be told, there was always a big MISSING in the life I led of creating art in my studio alone and driving it over to the gallery and sometimes getting a check in the mail.

I seldom knew the names of who took my work home to their living room or how they felt about it or what moved them enough to shell out the cash.

BUT I WAS AN ARTIST!!

With a genuine and shiny identity in my pocket.

And who is this girl who is getting out of bed at noon because her body is in revolt today and she doesn’t know why and can’t find the energy to care?

Instead of being in the process of BECOMING I am UN- BECOMING…

That artist girl is certainly still in here but she’s resting and healing from a lifetime of YEARNING for some damn thing that seems to be closer in to her these days, even as she lies still in the un-doing of it all..

Jonah’s Pool

If I were forced to choose a time in my life that I hold most dear it would be my high school years at Cranbrook.

In truth, my name was called each morning in classes across the lake at KINGSWOOD, the girl’s school part of the educational community.

But I likely was not there to answer.

I was given the gift of an education at Cranbrook by my grandmother.

A number of my ancestors names were carved (legally) in the halls of both schools upon graduation.

The Cranbrook Community is a rarified piece of real estate; both of the mind and the earthen kind.

I will write more about my time there another day but I woke this morning thinking about Jonah’s Pool.

The pack I ran with were boys, mostly.

Smart and sassy, irreverent and intense.

I loved them. Love them still.

They saved me but they likely don’t know that.

We laughed and cut class and smoked pot and walked around the grounds at Cranbrook in the process of becoming the men and women we are today.

We just looked around at things.. life.. and took note. We were too high to put the pieces together back then but later on in life we did.

It was the finest backstory you could ever imagine.

Jonah’s Pool was dark. And surrounded on all sides by green. And BIG! And in off hours, private.

It served as a swimming pool for the boarding students, teachers and all those associated with Cranbrook.

It felt like a secret place as you walked through the glade and the big, black water opened up in front of you.

I was too depressed most of the time in high school.

That pool gave me freedom as I crept through the green gates of hedge in the half light of Michigan evenings.

I scanned the still water and if I found no one there, I left my clothes on the bank and dove into the dark.

I never quite knew what was under that water.

Could have been anything.

But the mystery and surrender of the dive called me and I kept listening over the years.

It was medicine, that water.

A private reverie.

A grand erasure.

And I was new.

And I was new.

Today, so many years past, here in the desert, I remember.