Hurdles


“MESA”, 60″ x 40″, 1999, m/m
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For a short time in grade school I was a hurdler.

In Phys. Ed. the coach would set up a short run of them and we’d have ourselves a meet.

I was a struggling hurdler.

Gymnastics was my game and truth be told: I was slow on my feet.

My body has an interestingly vivid memory of what it took to clear one of these things.

Set your heart on overdrive.
RUN!
LEAN into the hurdle at perfect time to allow a
JUMP UP!
STRETCH one leg out in front farther than you know possible.
COMPACT your body into a tight thing that takes up little space.
At the same time exert big energy to PULL other leg up into a bent knee and LIFT knee as high as possible.
Maybe clear the hurdle.
Feel free.

When one does hurdles it is a good idea to pull every ounce of energy in toward yourself as close as you can get it.

That container of life that you make yourself is what you feed off of as you sprint into the netherlands.

Nothing messy. Nothing out of place. No cells being used for anything other than making it over the hurdle as a streamlined and elegant machine intent on getting to the other side.

I am writing this today to remind Cathy of what it takes to heal herself.

The Look


detail of hand-painted silk robe, 1987
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I watched a guy sitting alone, yesterday.

He was in his early 30’s. Young.

At the table next to him sat another man with his daughter of about 4 years old dressed in a pink dress and barrettes holding her hair.

The first man had a book on his lap but he only pretended to read.

His real interest lay watching the table next door as the father gently negotiated breakfast with his daughter.

They were so connected and I could sense an easy and loving exchange between the two like they were of the same skin.

And of course, they were.

The other guy kept his surreptitious gaze on them for a long time.

He was enchanted, it seemed.

Curious, mystified and longing.

Awed by the simple theater unfolding of father and daughter.

It was the look of a person who was not too familiar with kids and had none of his own but wanted the heart-splitting love and utter trust that seems to come with parenting if you’re lucky.

I know this look of which I speak.

One can only concoct it if you’ve never had children. And I chose not to.

My art career always came first and in all honesty, I was never drawn in that direction.

Until now. Now, at a spry 55 years of age.

Now and only now do I know in my bones I would have been a great mom.

And so.. if you watch me carefully, you can catch me with THE LOOK sometimes.

Secretly watching others in that most precious of love-zones.. healthy family.

What does one do with all that love in there that went unused and unrecognized for the good part of a lifetime?

I often watch as I turn it on teenagers.

Kids hangin’ on the corner so wrapped up in whether they look right get a gentle and direct smile from me.

Money, sometimes.

Behind their “I’m so cool that I can’t say thank you” demeanor, I know they soften in my presence.

And so… I move through life spreading little tid-bits of love like that to the younger generation.

I know it makes a difference because I remember those that smiled at me.

Hardware


detail of painting, m/m
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I’m telling you.. humor and humility are my finest virtues these days.

My best traits used to be stuff like honesty and a sense of humanitarianism.

But now… I laugh more and count on good lipstick to cover for the raw realities of my companion, MS.

Yesterday at the physical therapist’s office, I rose from the table following a session with mini shock treatments stimulating my lazy musculature.

My knees have always tended toward hyper-extension but now, as there is even less structural integration in my right leg, my knee just wants to slam back as far as it can when I walk.

I’ve had what they call an AFO for quite awhile which is a fiberglass sheath that goes from foot to under the knee.

It is a leopard print which seems to entertain me and PT-types.

Foot drop is a common issue in MS which is when muscles weaken which govern lifting one’s foot up to clear the ground when walking.

The AFO takes care of that.

My new knee brace extends from just below the knee joint and goes up to mid-thigh.

It is made from a cool techno- metal and straps around my leg with velcro.

Very light. Gives me great support. Can’t see it under clothes. I walk better.

Straighter. Inching toward forgotten pride. It helps me meet life full on.

So.. I’m in the therapist’s office putting all my contraptions on and blithley whizzing through the various velcro straps and such.

She is trying to help me and suddenly looks up with half-wet doe eyes and says: “HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR BRACE?”

Well.. I almost lost it.

Such sincere compassion and real curiousity and presence.

She very nearly took me into my ‘cry-zone.’

But partnered up with tears and sprinting out in front is laughter.

And that’s who got there first.

Often, in this grueling testing ground of character, I just CAN’T feel.

Not in the moment at least.

My dog, Olivia is fat with the tears she’s licked from my face over time.

So they’re there, sure.

But humor is my elixir of choice these days.

And believe me.. it’s VERY real and not a front.

If you saw the brace contraption you’d likely marvel at the engineering involved and we’d quickly move on to talk about the latest VANITY FAIR magazine article on Lady Gaga and I’d tell you I really had no idea who she was until I read that article and we’d laugh at the absurdity of my disconnect from really important things.

Creation / Destruction


“FINE LINE”, 1998, 11″ x 11″ x 4″, m/m
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Two years ago I burned a large collection of past paintings.

They had been shipped back to me from a long time gallery I had worked with which was closing it’s doors.

When I saw the work unwrapped in my studio, none of it felt like me.

It wasn’t bad work at all, in my eyes.

Just past tense.

Sometimes, the life from which a work of art is born is instilled in the piece itself and that life can carry a work for eons.

It will have a substance all it’s own and a stand-alone quality.

This past work I was now confronting was created from a less-than-authentic place in me.

And it showed.

Perhaps not to others but surely I could tell.

And so..what does one do faced with this situation?

Put the work back into the marketplace hoping for a check here and there?

I have reached a point in my life where I DO feel true and real.

My conscience would not let me return the work to be sold.

So I burned it.

I made a ceremony out of the event and invited friends and had someone take a chainsaw to my paintings before they met their demise.

The point of all this drama was to let the universe know that I was seriously ready for change.

It was the beginning of my MS symptomology rearing it’s head in ways could not avoid.

My right hand was not working well and I was tired.

Intuitively, I knew that healing could only come from me taking a stand in my life for a shift away from anything I was giving energy to which did not serve me in some way.

And so.. how does one do that?

By burning my work I was consciously making room for something new to arrive.

And arrive it did.

And continues to do so.

And I marvel at the courage it actually takes to radically invite and welcome change.

If I had done it in a ‘tidy’ way, I might still be steeped in a ‘Cathy’ I wasn’t all that fond of.

Here is a photograph of the Hindu goddess KALI, the creator / destroyer.

She is not pretty.

Fierce? Yes.

But probably not your first choice as a dinner partner.

The thing is that change is messy and exhausting and it can rip your heart out from the horror of it all.

But KALI never leaves us empty if we feed her with our courage like that.

Her rewards can be beyond anything we know.

But we never know until we strike the match.

Dad


hand-painted silk neckties, 1985
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My father died when he was 51.

He had this whole secret life at General Motors where he bossed a good number of people around.

And they let him I think because he was good at it, they probably liked and respected him and they needed their job.

That was his very private and unknown-to-us life.

Nice suits, 5′ tall nude woman sculpture in his giant, glassy office and the run of basement to top floor of the many- acred tech center spread.

The one day we kids were privy to this part of our father was on children’s day when we visited him there and sat terrified in the executive dining room for lunch as he awkwardly introduced his offspring to friends.

It pains me to think about it.

He sure looked the part in the glossy hallways there.

But I didn’t recognize the guy.

For me, I knew him catching minnows with us at the lake.

And making a real wooden red sailboat from scratch on which I spent many hours afloat.

Carving a too fast saucer run for us in the frigid air after a snowstorm,

And drunkenly waiting until he could go to work the next day.

I loved him.

And I knew he loved me.

But it was very quiet parenting he did.

More show-and-tell.

And because I was enchanted with power tools and turpentine and sawdust, he tolerated my tentative shadowing of him.

I would follow him to the workshop and he’d make stuff like enameled copper boxes or cast a fish in plaster from the creek below our house.

But something was eating him from the inside out and he kept it so quiet but I knew.

I didn’t know the thing’s name as I was so young but I was smart enough to see his unhappiness.

And so I was glad he had the secret world of General Motors to shine in.

And shiny he was.

I think he died of a broken heart because he spent a lifetime managing artists when what he really wanted to do was be one.

Living inauthentically takes it’s toll.

The legacy he left me is fearlessness around power.

Tools, people, big and scary corporate dealings, too- nice suit jackets and men in huddles.

He also left me the simple love of working with my hands.

He helped me become confident in my approach to life as a sensitive and creative being.

He inadvertently showed me the edge of madness.

That thing that happens when no one sees the real you.

And so… my life has been one of a collector; I find those in whose eyes I can see myself clearly, honestly and truly.

And I keep them close.

And closer still.

And I walk on with the solace of their gait beside me; barely but very surely there.

Vulnerability


detail of textile painting on wool flannel
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Yesterday I said: “I feel vulnerable” to a friend.

It was weird because that word usually has a ‘less-than-great’ connotation.

And it did when I used it.

I wanted to be seen in a particular way and was afraid that wasn’t going to happen.

So… I felt exposed and vulnerable.

Except there was a hidden sweetness there too.

A part of me that didn’t care all that much being exposed.

My hide was permeable.

I wasn’t an armored truck immune to incoming ‘whatever.’

I looked up the definition of vulnerable and at the bottom of a list of less-than-desirable states of being was the word: TENDER.

That’s what I felt yesterday… tender.

In my past life, feeling tender was just too damn scary.

I was out for full on protection of self no matter what and absolutely unwilling to let the fortress gate down to bridge the moat.

No.. the walls were impenetrable and have pretty much stayed that way for years.

If you met me back then (not so long ago) you’d likely never know the grip I had on myself.

But I had made it through some tough stuff and had a tenuous foundation goin’ for me that no one got to mess with.

So really, that left me INvulnerable at least in my own mind.

Sweet for one’s ego but my heart dried up to some extent.

One of the surprises I’ve received in companionship with MS is making friends with the kind of vulnerability I’m speaking of here.

I certainly don’t go around in the world leaving myself exposed to harm.

But I am letting the old guard down more in certain instances in order to be seen as I am; a woman steeped in her humanity trying to get comfortable with it, love it even, with no apologies.

I am changed. Changing. Very alive.

Imperfect, sure.. in the best sense I think.

I’ve still got the old vestiges of me that want to be seen a certain way.

But that girl would be less-than-authentic.

And I now love truth more than pretense.

I am tender to the touch of life now..

Gold


Abiquiu, NM earth
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I saw purple asters by the side of the road.

They are the unofficial harbingers of Autumn in New Mexico.

It’s my favorite season in the high desert.

Purple and yellow flowers and the impossibly blue sky.

This morning it was hard to get out of bed early.

So I didn’t.

I have a meditation I often do sitting up but today is different.

I laid in bed with the pre-autumn chill for atmosphere and I did this:
.
.

CATHY’S GOLD MEDITATION

. .with closed eyes imagine walking down a path through a dewy meadow heading for a small stream.

.. lean down to feel the perfect temperature of the slow moving brook.

.. leave all clothes and jewelry by the side of a rock and slowly step in.

.. with head pointing into the slight current, lie down in the shallow water and spread your arms a bit away from your body.

.. close the eyes and breathe.

.. imagine the liquid you lie in is gold. Liquid gold.

.. feel it enter the top of the head and make it’s way ever so slowly down your body as it fills each vein and artery, organ, muscle and bone.

.. let the gold reenter the river through your fingers and toes so as you keep relaxing, the separation between you and the river becomes indistinct.

.. keep opening the top of the head to the flow as you surrender to the slight current.
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If that’s not church, I don’t know what…

Jump Back


hand-painted silk jersey, 1987
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In my youth (elementary school) I had a friend named Mike Hershman.

One night we took 2 big cans of Nestle’s Quick and poured them into the pool of someone in our subdivision we didn’t like.

I remember feeling dastardly because I actually thought the whole pool would turn dark brown like chocolate.

Needless to say, that is not exactly what happened.

NOTHING happened. Except we laughed till we cried all the way home wrapped in the secret world of childhood shared.

I lived in the basement of our home which had a window well for ventilation purposes, I guess.

I loved living down there as I was far away from the bitter tailings of my family’s dysfunction.

One night, my boyfriend of 4th, 5th and 6th grade, Mark, took his chance and crawled into the window well trying to get into my room (invited guest).

Pretty bold, eh? On both our parts.

The stuff of legend.

The thing is that my dad came into my room just at the moment Mark was halfway in.

We were horrified.. all of us.

My father had no idea how to father, actually, and let my shame be the neon scarlet letter I wore for a long time.

That was a pivotal experience for me as I look back beyond all this adulthood.

Because even though I wore that shame around the house, secretly I LOVED THAT WE DID THAT!

Nothing neutral about those actions.

Devilish, desirous (as much as 10 year olds can muster) and just damn FUN!

I have had a postcard tucked into my bathroom mirror for years.

It’s a tattered black and white shot of a man and woman barefoot as they run with glee down a winding dirt road.

The feel of it is the same as the window well story; abandoned and free.

Where in the world did I lose that girl?

Intent on making her own rules needing agreement from no one.

I catch a glimpse of her behind the set of my jaw or twinkling shyly in the corner of my crows- footed eyes.

She is in the involuntary salivation driving past an ad for chocolate milkshakes.

And the disregard for the speedometer on a 2 lane lonely highway in the desert.

I absolutely love that girl.

Her voice comes from low in the belly.

And her lines are never straight.

She is prone to laugh at sick humor all the while wearing Chanel No. 5.

Serious, schmereous… yuk.

Louise Hay, who wrote a book, HEAL YOUR BODY on her ideas of the emotional causes of various diseases says under the MS heading: “Iron will, fear, mental hardness.”

I see myself in there.. too much deciding instead of allowing.

Eons of ‘armoring up.’

The affirmation she gives as an antidote is: “I am safe and free.”

I’m really up for abandon these days but what if I’ve forgotten how?

All I need is a little help to begin the sly turn of the corners of my mouth into the start of untamed laughter.

The rest will take care of itself.

Home


detail of painting, m/m
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I’ve been thinking about adobe.

Brown blocks hand formed the way they’ve always done it.

Dirt and straw.

If you’ve ever had the chance to spend time inside an adobe home you likely have never forgotten the feeling you get of being held.

It reminds me of my youth in Michigan when we got blasted with a snowstorm and the following morning the scene was too bright for mortal eyes so I dug my way into huge white drifts of snow.

Secret caves tinted with butter-colored light seeping in through the packed snow.

It was so easy to carve away the insides and I lovingly patted the walls and made shelves and a smooth floor.

It felt more like home than home.

Secret. Mine.

Some guys in the neighborhood I now live in are constructing an adobe addition.

There is a preciousness to the site as they have piled the bricks lovingly around the poured foundation and they watch the weather closely for hint of rain.

Each day these beautiful brown earthen blocks inch higher as the men sing in Spanish and wave at me as I go by.

The whole thing gets covered up in the evening by a garish blue tarp.

Making a home…

I’ve made a few.

Each time I make one they get livelier and more beautiful.

Like more oxygen gets in and anything unnatural or pretentious is discarded at the door.

Here are my essentials:

light
space
quiet
safety
comfort
simplicity
sensuality
nature

That snow cave way back when was a fine, fine template.

Except I never figured out the heat issue.

Probably because I never invited anyone in.

I was too intent on making myself an island.

I just totally forgot the bridge.

For a long, long time I’ve forgotten the bridge.

But lately, I’ve got my drafting table out and a drawing is taking shape that intrigues me.

Still shadowy and indistinct but surely coming of it’s own accord.

It looks bridge-like but one can never be sure.

I think the most respectful thing to do is get out of my own way and let it have it’s own voice; undirected by me.

Because I have little knowledge of this ‘bridgeness’ but I know the island too, too well.

Good Night


detail of painting, m/m
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Lately, the night has been waking me, pleading with me.

I have to take notice when I rise of my own accord without any trace of desire to keep bundled up under the comfort of covers.

It feels as though I am called forward.

Into the dark.

But why?

To hear the rooster announce?

Or take strength from the uncomplicated and static-free air of a pre-dawn?

These hours are always my chance to feel myself clearly in the mystery of things.

If I close my eyes, there is an underlying anticipation.

Of something unknown to me but not of the monster variety.

It feels like a waiting thing that I want to make myself especially beautiful for.

I walk to the kitchen and my legs feel oddly stronger.

It seems in the deepest of night I reclaimed some lost parts of myself and I step lightly.

I sense all the people out there nestled under the small lights of their beloved households.

Love and fears and illness and dreams and courage and herculean strength and boredom and ALL OF IT happening just down the street or round some bend.

The dawn is showing her skirts now.

Life is coming in fast but still at a tolerable rate.

Nature has such an elegant tempo.

Never too fast or slow and reliable to the minute.

She makes me want to be better.

More.

Not really smarter but more PERMEABLE.

More able to allow the full impact of her gifts and lessons and especially gifts.

If you can know and tolerate the dark then she lets you use her to FLY!

Tree


“BARK”, 1999, 5′ x 24′, M/M
____________________________
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.
THAT TREE
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Generously you
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Shared your bend and sway secrets
.
So I could move on.
.
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.CA 2010
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.
.

Essence of a Thing


detail ceramic sculpture
_______________________

In my first couple years living in Santa Fe I belonged to what I now call a cult.

Back then it just felt like a group of dedicated and inquisitive people learning about what ESSENCE is.

Our discussions were lofty and lively.

Being a favored student took care of a lot of the insecurities I felt at first in my new home town.

But I was dedicated to the study.

Still am, in fact (but from my own living room).

Here is an example of the kind of inquiry we did:

One Christmas, we had all been asked to bring an ornament for the tree.

Each of us arrived and carefully found the right spot on the small pine for our offering and hung it there.

We sat in a circle around the tree and just enjoyed it for awhile.

Then our teacher asked us if there were any ornaments that seemed like they did not belong on the tree; didn’t feel quite right for some reason; something ‘off’ about it.

Slowly, it came clear that a plastic reindeer seemed too kitschy for the occasion.

Off he came.

Then there was a garish and glittery star..

Off.

We went on like this for a couple hours as we sat in silence and felt into each object and it’s relation to the tree, the event, the time of year.

He was asking us to open our field of experience beyond the little tree and the habitual dressing of it with haphazard gleam and glitter.

When we were done there was ONE ornament left on the tree.

A beautiful blown glass ball in a shade of blue with no name and a mysterious surface; not too shiny, not too dull.

It stood alone alone but not lonely.

There was nothing about it that was ‘in your face’.

It was not trying too hard to shine brightly.

And yet, it had enough presence to carry the whole tree.

This seemingly small investigation taught me so much about the essence of a thing/person.

When I married the man I did (now divorced) I never got past the gleam.

In a cultural sense he looked good on all fronts and wooed me well.

He said all the right things and I let myself be enchanted by the story instead of the substance.

Knowing what I know now about essence, I decide everything differently.

Is the energy complete as it is or am I tempted to get in there and complete it so it feels like a better match for me?

I look for the energy of a figure-eight; two people/ things which have their own solid and complete circle going on.

The sparky-ness happens at the meeting place.

I use this formula whether buying a handbag or choosing a friend.

The fact that intermittent fatigue is a life companion has allowed the crash course in the discriminating department.

I don’t have the energy to tolerate ‘almost-but-not-quite’.

I am going after the color of blue with no name and the mysterious sheen I saw on a Christmas tree long ago.

A Shadow of Herself


untitled monoprint, 1994, 22″ x 30″
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Yesterday was a bit of a challenge for the girl.

I had an appointment with a new physical therapist whom I love.

She is well versed in neurological issues and can meet my gaze without going away like most PTs I’ve worked with seem to do when they crank out their work-a-day prescriptions.

One needs a different archive of knowledge when working with MS than with other issues and she has it.

The challenging part was the in-my-face incontrovertible changes in my precious body.

I have backed off moving to a large extent for a variety of reasons.

I often don’t glide through life gracefully like I used to and it makes me sad because I care about grace.

It is harder to get up off the floor after I work out so I avoid it altogether.

Uggg.. I sound whiney but really it is just hyper-alert. CATHY! WAKE UP! NOW!

The way I have always seemed to make transformational change is when reality becomes potent enough to burn it’s way through my self-inflicted fog, I ACT AND CHANGE.

So, I have decided to look for a stationary bicycle for work outs.

It solves the reticence to get-down-on-the-floor issue.

Would make me feel as if I am covering some ground.

Because I live alone I have no one to impress with my interior decorating choices.

And in lieu of the ballroom dancing lessons I crave, this should be good for the hips and one doesn’t need the fancy gown or special shoes.

My brother told me he was out for a 65 mile ride on his bike the other day with his lycra-wearing cronies.

My riding outfit likely won’t be so cool but I’ll see what I can do to entertain myself and my dog.

I love my body and I can tell it wants to serve me in a more whole way.

My job is to do everything I can to assist that end.

It’d be so much easier if we, humans didn’t wait so damn long to get the messages meant to help us move forward.

But that would water everything down and the theater might become less interesting.

(DID I JUST ACTUALLY SAY THAT??????)

“Cathy: you hate drama. Just get on the bike.”

Small Things That Aren’t

_
“SHELLS”, 1995, ceramic
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I am a stubborn woman.

If you live alone for long enough one tends to think that we know best and nobody better tell us differently.

A friend sent me these few words in an email recently: “Don’t make anything today except happiness”.

Sounds innocuous enough..

But for some reason I let him boss me around just for that day.

(interesting to notice who I let close enough to do that..)

As an artist, I make stuff.

I always have.

So..to ask me to stop ‘making stuff’ and make happiness took me aback I can assure you.

I was intrigued because I actually have always thought that creating things actually DID make happiness for me and that is certainly part of the equation.

But he was asking me to look at things a bit differently.

How DOES ONE make happiness?

This is my report back to him following my investigation:

1. go to cafe and drink good coffee and read the paper.
2. home to do a bit of business stuff.
3. think about cleaning the house but don’t and feel happy about that
decision.
4. lie on couch with dog and do nothing but feel soft breeze on
skin. Feel happy again.
5. worry that i am an unproductive slug. Give up on that idea and
decide to push this doing nothing thing farther.
6. Remember how MG looks so comfortable and good on the golf course
and realize HE seems to know how to do this pretty well.
7. Eat stuff I love for lunch.
8. Feel happy again….
9. Have conversation out loud with myself that I think is pretty
funny and I laugh.

At the end of that day I felt PEACE and ENERGY and INSPIRATION and GRATITUDE for his prescription.

I have kept that feeling too.

I see that a good chunk of my life, even tho it is infused with the supposed glamor and mystery of a creative life, has been lived inside the cultural and necessary press outward to ‘decorate my cave with the reigning cool-factor of the day.’

What stirs me, heals me, inspires me, calls me, someone termed: RADICAL HUMANITY.

I find it in the most unusual places like my friend’s sentence above.

One has to have the rare capacity get outside one’s self to practice this concept.

You can’t just be out for yourself.

FEELING INTO what another person’s reality might be is the ticket.

And perhaps extending an offering tailored for the circumstance expecting nothing in return.

That right there is the difference between my past ‘making of stuff’ and my current life.

The stuff I made was invisibly couched in the demand: “BUY ME!”

Getting a check after a sale of that kind of work relieves the pressure of a faltering bank account but never once repaired my heart.

What I am going after in my life now are answers to the question: WHAT STIRS ME?

Here’s something:

If you have some time (18 minutes, but you can watch this in smallish bits and still have your life enhanced) Chris Abani- “The only way for me to be human is for you to reflect my humanity back to me.”

Well worth the time. It might make some happiness for you.

Birds


“FLY GIRL”, 2005,11″ x 11″ x 4″, bone,shell,gravel
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I never really heard of a child who loved bird watching.

Which makes me think it is an adult thing that some of us grow into.

Like coffee or something.

I, myself, love birds.

When I can see them, that is, as my eyesight ain’t the best.

They are so little and fast and unpredictable and shy.

And the men are parading around in their finery instead of the women and that feels good to me.

Makes me heave a sigh of relief.

Some birds choose partners for life like ravens.

I always have to stop what I am doing and watch a pair of black silhouettes against an inky blue sky rolling and tumbling as they play tag then contentedly flying off to dinner somewhere in some secret glade.

Yeah, I’m a romantic to the core and I’m stickin’ to it.

Birds voices are clear and sure and as individual as ours.

They say what they have to say with extreme economy and move on.

I respect that.

They also have established territory and protect it.

I like that too.

They can be fierce in their approach as a hawk to it’s prey,

And silently guide a car down a dark and lonely road as an owl did for me one time.

The thing that impresses me most is the seeming ‘nothing extra’ in their existence.

Power, pleasure, protection,preening, personality and plain old sittin’ around on fences just looking at stuff.

Then they lift themselves effortlessly into the void and follow some compass we’ll never know and FLY.

By God, they FLY.

And I try not to fall prey to envy.

Never Alone


hand painted terry robe, 1987
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Yesterday, I had an appointment with the women of WESST.

These brilliant people are dedicated toward assisting women(mostly) who are in transition and need start-up business counseling, funding or just a brainstorming session or two.

They are sort of the female faction of S.C.O.R.E.

Because I AM in transition from a lifetime of art making into a different sort of life and my brain does NOT lean toward prudent business decision-making,

These brilliant women and I had a round-table discussion.

They are housed in the SANTA FE BUSINESS INCUBATOR which is a shiny, new and modern building that smells like success when you walk in.

I surprised myself as I began our meeting with a force in me that I almost didn’t recognize.

I knew I had to be succinct as I outlined my desires and plans for them; not too fast but knowing I only had one hour with them.

I told them about my book proposal in the works.

I have some extraordinary film footage I shot two years ago as I took a chain saw to all my old art and burned it in a ceremony to make room for my new life and I want to have it professionally edited into a film I can use for my speaking in the future.

They looked at this blog and the video I’ve posted and they all sat back at the end of my presentation and paused..

I waited.

Then there were suggestions popping up here and there regarding funding I could apply for.

They said, “Why not start at the top here?”

“The Oprah Foundation has a lot of grant money for serious people like you.”

“You need bridge money to continue doing your creative work.”

“Call the Library of Congress and ask them for grants available for the disabled. People don’t know this but they HAVE to answer ANY question you call with (within reason, I am guessing).

Anyway, the point of all this is that THEY TOOK ME VERY SERIOUSLY.

It was absolutely thrilling to recognize I have been working toward a new future and some very smart women gave me a big, giant green light and by doing that helped me feel VERY SUPPORTED .

And not alone.

I can tell you that making a new life is a challenging bit of row to hoe.

But SSSSSSSSSSSOOOOOOOOO much more doable when you do it in partnership.

I am feeling healthy enough to put some serious momentum behind my new career of writer/public speaker.

Wondering, Wandering


“BREAK”, 1993, 10″ x 10″, m/m
______________________________

One of my best girlfriends and I took our yearly jaunt up north a ways into Georgia O’Keeffe country.

We go there specifically with a list of intentions, wants, needs and the both of us take turns telling each other and the river and the giant cottonwood tree and whoever else is listening the direction we’d like our lives to head in.

When we have done this before I’m here to tell you.. STUFF HAPPENS!

It is quite astounding the power of witness and putting words to things usually just roiling around in my head.

We found our spot by the river and I sat on a log while she spread out on the land.

I wanted to do that but knew I’d never get up again.

As the afternoon wore on it got very hot and I thought it best to find shade.

But I couldn’t get up from the log!

In times like this I take my time and eventually find the right muscle combo to rise up like a phoenix.

But this time my friend who loves me so began to sob.

She was very angry that I was having to deal with MS and all that goes along with it.

She wanted perfect health for me and was stymied that the Universe would visit this terrible thing on her friend.

She was MAD, MAD, MAD. and sad.

She told me the story of her therapist who was diagnosed with Cancer and took herself out into the desert and “RAILED AGAINST THE MADNESS.”

I guess the woman spent the entire night yelling and crying and yelling some more at the injustice of her illness and how she wanted it GONE.

Seems it worked as she was Cancer-free after that night of madness.

Well, when my friend told me this story I started thinking: maybe I should do that; take myself out into the deep desert alone and get really mad.

Maybe there IS some energy block I need to release.

Maybe I would get healed.

Interestingly, as my friend held me and cried as she told this story, I let myself be held but the core of me was pretty neutral and she was in such a state.

I was just sitting there considering whether I should do the desert-thing and feeling very loved by my dear friend.

We left and as we drove home I was still in that kind of removed state. Just noticing from a few paces to the left.

I came to the conclusion when I got home that in order for me to do something as dramatic as this woman’s healing journey, I’d have to create a theater scene that I just don’t think is in me right now.

Weirdly, I don’t feel mad.

Most of me feels radiantly good, in fact.

Yeah, my leg and arm are not working great but in essence, I wouldn’t know where to go to call up that level of anger and perhaps get the instantaneous healing.

Does health mean a perfect body?

What about when your insides feel all lit up? Is that health?

I don’t know the answer but I do know that it would feel like going backwards for me to concoct a night of ‘raging at the enemy.’

My path is different.

The only thing I know to do is move forward when I am called to do so.

And just be still and listen if I don’t get the call.

Tell Me..


untitled, 1997, 11″ x 11″ x 4″, m/m
__________________________________

“Tell me two things you like about me,” I said to my friend last night as we rode in his convertible to go see a famous storyteller.

I know.. it sounds truly pathetic..

I actually only do this with him because we are such good friends and I know he loves me.

… and his tolerance level is high.

“Why?” he says.

“Because I feel insecure today.”

With a sigh he says: “I like your eyes.”

Then: “You can laugh at yourself. That’s good. I like that.”

I say: “OK… two more…”

“Two MORE?” he says.

“Well… You say what you feel.”

For the life of me I can NOT remember the last thing he said..

I want to remember.

I need to remember.

It is good to have tolerant friends.

Amen.

Good To Be A Girl


“PRIESTESS”, 1997, 12″ X 3″, CERAMIC
____________________________________

This morning I woke up and showered with new shampoo and conditioner.

They smelled like Hawaii.

I have never been to Hawaii but I know it smells like that.

I did my ritual of pill-taking except it felt different today because I moved them to a different place in the kitchen and approached it like an altar instead of a ‘too familiar’ action.

I put on make up and loved the look of my face; tanned, healthy, natural, undefended.

Looking in the mirror after I get my feet and legs solidly under me, the favorite pink lipstick comes out.

Then Olivia starts wagging her tail like some convict just tasting freedom after 30 years behind bars and we take the power chair out for a spin.

The air is fresh.

She takes inordinate pleasure in peeing and pooping and I smile knowing the feeling.

I look away to give her privacy.

Later, we go to the drugstore for more pills and have a little trouble pulling the heavy door open and negotiating the walker through.

I look up and see a beautiful wrinkly face on a tiny old woman propping the door open for me.

She says:” You look so good. You must be in your 30’s”.

I am standing there not believing this gorgeous old woman is opening the door for ME..

Something is off with this picture but we talk and she says she is 86 and thinks my walker is cool.

My heart is singing a little tune as I roll off to the car and I have a big smile on my face and give the dog 5 treats because I’m kindof overflowing with SOMETHING but I’m not sure exactly what but I know it is good.

It is very, very good to be a girl.

We get to lavish ourselves in scented things and put fun colors on lips and eyes and notice nuance and connect everyday things to something larger than us and belong to a sisterhood with no age requirements and be moved deeply and surprised by the opening.

I’m not claiming exclusive gender rights to these life-enhancing things..

Just feeling very girly and quite good about it.

New Look At Home


“THIN LINE”, 2000, 24″ x 24″, m/m
___________________________________

When I came across this, it made me think of how over-the-top glad I am that moved into a small place.

It was a jarringly abrupt change in square footage and segueing from home ownership to apartment dwelling was a shift.

When I look at these amazingly gorgeous and economical uses of space that the Japanese dare to create I just about swoon.

We all know we are headed in the same direction that over-population directs us; that of taking up less space.

Here in Santa Fe there are neighborhoods of 10-20,000 square foot homes that lie vacant for all but two weeks of the year.

We seem to have lost the sense of poetry that living informed by the currency of the times affords.

It is a ‘take what you’ve got and make something beautiful’ opportunity.

I think that the grist for the mill in the MS conundrum is the same.

I know I have the blessing of being an aesthete which primes my sensibilities toward the creation of something interesting if not beautiful.

And for that I am very glad.

Because crafting a beautiful life is entertaining to me.

I seem to thrive on the duality of it all needing something ugly to push up against to get to the gleaming thing.

I keep wishing it wasn’t like that but then the pleasure in the creation of beauty might pale into some beige and neutral horror.

And beige is my most un-favorite color.

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