Red Saab Sun-Fun


“EVENING”, 2000, 11″ x 11″, m/m
_________________________________

One of my favorite things to do is drive around New Mexico and look at stuff.

My friend has a Saab convertible.

The three of us (one chihuahua) went exploring yesterday.

We stopped to buy fresh cherries.

Spit the pits out as we went.

Sank into long silences.

Swooned over seeing that our beloved river, the Rio Grande, was still there

Considering it is burnt toast dry ’round here.

We found dirt roads that whispered “Come this way”

And we listened.

We saw some cool and creepy stuff

That will get woven into stories years from now.

I love my friend.

But not enough to have him watch me pee at the side of the road.

So I kept sending him off into the wilderness with the dog

While I supported myself on the side of the red Saab.

What I am about to tell you is the mark of a truly good friend.

This may be too much information so consider clicking off right here..

Peeing in the wilderness is a really satisfying activity in my book.

It has the taut quality of;

“Hurry, Hurry! Someone may come!”

But also, birds are singing and the pine needles are fragrancing

And you just look around

And appreciate the scenery.

Following ‘THE CROUCH”

One needs to arise once more…

And I could not.

I was humbled beyond any cool cover

And yelled for my friend.

He is strong.

And laughed at the whole predicament.

Then he helped me up- the girl with her pantaloons down..

All I could say was “LIFE IS SO WEIRD”.

And the three of us continued on our journey.

I got too much sun.

And I am glad.

I Got humbled.

And then I wasn’t anymore.

I got space in my heart from the land, the company,

The impossibly fresh air.

Space in my heart.. Space in my heart..

SPACE…………..

Memorial Day


detail “TRIBE”, 2007,ceramic,steel,wood, 12″ x 30″ x 4″
_______________________________________________

Memorial Days have come and gone in my life.

And I try to pause and recognize the immensity of loss.

But I have no threads in my life which allow me the truth of what it is to be a part of our military.

The closest I get is the abject stoicism my father displayed when we, his children, asked what it was like to be in the war.

War is a mystery to me.

Not really, as I know my own inner violence too well.

On the grander scale; acted out in real time; it just is too, too costly.

Today, I wanted a way into the hearts of those who know or have know war up close and personal.

I found these photos.

They silenced me.

The River Enterer


detail of monoprint
___________________

My life has been filled with taking the path less trodden.

These choices I’ve made come with costs, to be sure.

I can’t seem to stop leaving the house without a map.

Why is this?, I ask myself.

There are easier ways.

Paths with porta-potties along a manicured and tended forest trail..

But I seem to find it more interesting

To crawl over that boulder (metaphorically speaking)

To see what’s on the other side.

You see- I am bored by what I know!

Which makes the shadows and unknown terrain

My friends.

Sometimes I wish for a palanquin;

Because I can no longer go

All the places that call me.

I might surprise you

One day,

Phoning you up

To take hold

Of a corner of the thing…

My curiosity

Grabbing me by the scruff

Of my neck,

Stretched taut

At a whiff

Of a white flower

Over there,

Beyond my grasp.

Healing THROUGH MS ???


“WOMAN BECOMING”, 2000, 5′ x 3′, m/m
________________________________________

Why did I title this blog: “HEALING THROUGH MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS” ?

I began writing posts two years ago.

I wanted to create a forum which approached illness from the perspective of a journey

Complete with the grit and with emphasis on the GRACE part of the ride.

It is selfish, really..

I want an interesting life

And so…

MS interests me.

I use it as my spiritual path.

“HEALING”, for me, is the absence of desiring ‘other’.

To get there means being in partnership with this ‘thing’:

Not loving it but not hating it, either.

The more I need (read: need not want) it to be gone

The less energy I have to live.

In the process of attempting to look MS in the face

Without tightening my jaw in defense,

I am becoming more.

I judge less (self and other).

I am grateful more often.

I am less desirous of ‘stuff’.

I am quicker to forgive.

I love deeper.

I am present to my sorrow more.

It excites me.

And feels lonely, sometimes.

I am weak.

And I am strong.

Actually, MS has given me the ultimate ticket

Into the possibility

Of a life informed by Spirit

As opposed to The Culture.

I feel the chasm growing.

Between Me and The Cathy I Thought I Was.

This one is far more appealing.

To me, at least.

And, finally…

That right there is the gold.

Maya Angelou


“DEEP NIGHT”, 5′ x 4′, 1985, pigment on wool flannel
____________________________________________________

I love Maya.

Everything about her;

Her GRACE, wisdom, compassion, fierce loyalty to her beliefs in the innate goodness of people, the fact she does not let people who practice false modesty remain in her home because she wants to be around those who know their gifts and are unapologetic about them…

Here is a gift for her:

.

A POEM FOR MAYA ANGELOU –

THE GREAT WAVE

Big.
Booming.
Blooming
Blackness.

A wave born somewhere
With no name
We know.

SHE RISES.

In the impossibly dark,
Irresistable dark
Curl of the wave;

HER

Stray hairs mixed with moonlight,
Damp and unruly
Tended by MOON;

We had to wait

Until we were ready

To bear

HER BLACKNESS

With NO thought
Of turning away.

The Mystery
Did not yet speak
A familiar language
To us

And

We were afraid.

***

She rode that wave
In the rise
And the FALL

Until

We could hear her,
Approach Her

To ask Her forgiveness
For our tardy
Arrival.

Perhaps the secrets
That came
With those roiling and watery waves

SHE rode

Would stick
To us
Like pollen.

And we
Could try
Once again

To LOVE.

Only

Better now.

****

That VOICE –

Holder of each
And EVERY sound
Ever sung,

Is too big for us.

The largest part
We know
Of ourselves
Stuck in our throat

When SHE speaks.

We are yet young.
Our balance
On the surfboard
Wobbly,
At best.

We Do

Keep going…

Out.

Further out.

Testing
Our
New
Skills
On

The Wave.

SHE,

All ready
At the shore,
Guiding us

Safely in.

***

The salve
Which

SHE IS:

Made of whispers
And crooked,
Beckoning fingers

Is

Inviting
All of Us
Into that dark
Of Mystery

And a dawn

-With new air and birdsong.

Rather
Like to a tea party
Fit for royalty (Us).

The manual
For sweet change
Is to read

Between the lines

Of
Her life. Her breath.
Poetry,
HIGH
Wisdom

And impossibly precious threads
Of The Tapestry

Ready
To Be
Worked.

Our summons:

Handwritten
By HER

To roll

And s-p-r-e-a-d

On to the beach

At Dawn.

(but not alone as She had to.)

***

She asks us
Never to lose sight
Of the rightness

Running in the blood

Of those who took
The ‘us’
Out of RIGHT ous NESS.

We should look,
(I think she would say)
For our tribe;

They’re home

May well be hidden.
Down some scrubby, dusty path
Traveled by few.

But find them

We must.

***

We will

All
Begin
Crafting a spanking new
Stepping stone path

With Her pearls
And Grace
And impossibly large
And ready

Smile
Decorating

Our New

Host

Of meeting rooms
Open to those
REAL – ly

Ready

To ride

The Great Wave.
.
.
.CA 2011

“And Now What?”


“CRITICAL MASS”, 24″ x 24″ x 2″, 2005, wooden matches, naturally pigmented earth from Abiquiu, NM
__________________________________________________________

I have a friend I met through this blog.

He has a highly refined aesthetic gleaned from years as a graphic designer and photographer.

We hardly know one another at all,

And yet the particular landscapes we’ve both walked: MS, the art/design world, students-of-life, appreciators of Beauty,
‘Gratitude’ practitioners, personal point-of-view watchers, ‘Truth’ questioners,

Give us license to call one another a friend (I think..).

It is his quote which titles this post.

Living a life steeped in the sometimes placid and other times turbulent waters of a creative existence,

I have come to know a few tid-bits

Which translate well into my everyday doings in the world.

Change is the constant (the ONLY constant)

Of a life in partnership with MS.

One moment, I am getting dressed to go to the dentist

And the next, I have my head resting on my desk; unable to do another thing toward the end I desire;

That of putting on some lipstick to get to the dentist who will take away the pain of the pending root canal.

“And now what?”

I have to surrender to the reality of the thing

And call the (new, to me) dentist.

Tell him I am aware I have an appointment in 20 minutes

But I can’t walk because I am dealing with MS.

May I reschedule?

The irritation is there in the office manager’s voice

And I wait on the phone, prepared to have to pay for my missed appointment.

I am met with relief as she returns to the phone with a lighter lilt in her voice

And I reschedule.

In this tiny little life episode

There were a number of “And now what?” moments.

I care deeply about showing up on time

And also leading a life free of searing tooth pain.

The plans I had for this little snippet of life

Changed. And then they changed again.

I think, because I am well tuned to NUANCE

Having ‘listened’ long and well

To the promptings occurring

Within a particular art project,

I see I now use that very same skill to make decisions.

In this case, I had been non-plussed by the dentist I have used in the past

And- in the process of choosing another,

Picked the one I felt decidedly urged toward (the NUANCE thing..).

His response to my ‘situation’

When I finally sat with him, yesterday,

Was pure kindness and compassion.

He even had cool state-of-the-art machinery

And a gorgeously appointed office.

I do recognize at this point

That my choice of this new dentist was no accident.

It was my response to the question: “And now what?”

I can’t seem to help wondering

When I write a post about what seems like the smallest of thing;

Does this make MY life small?

The answer for me is decidedly NO.

I believe what I’ve talked about here,

ARE the things WE CAN TAKE WITH US when we go…

But until then..

I love and depend on this skill I have

Which is pesky in it’s refusal to be ALWAYS at my beck and call.

I like that I consider it my companion in life;

Dependable (sometimes)…

Inspiring (always)…

Attentive (maybe)…

Valued (highly).

My Radio Interview


“SWIMMING”, 5′ x 5′, 1985, pigment on wool flannel
___________________________________________________

Here is a podcast of my recent radio interview with the fabulous Desiree Cox, MD.

This is something different than the recent talk I did in Santa Fe

But I thought you might like to have a listen.

It is an hour long and works in bits and pieces if you haven’t the time for the whole deal..

We had fun.

Resolution/Dissolution


detail of “RENAISSANCE” , 2008, 10′ x 3′, naturally pigmented earth, wood
_________________________________________________________________________

I have spoken here before about my resolve to ‘get healthy.’

What, actually, does it mean to be healthy?

Without symptoms?

‘Perfectly’ orchestrated bundle of muscle, ligament, organs, blood, nerves?

Health insurance card left in your wallet behind every other card? New and shiny and lonely in it’s under-use?

Conversations lively with themes of hiking and tennis and work outs at the gym?

Yesterday, I posted one of my more transparent entries in honor of Mother’s Day.

I was urged by some unseen force to do it.

The theme is, at it’s core, what I believe contributed most to my health challenges today.

Transparency also has it’s costs…

Going very public with the likes of that post; things never spoken or even whispered in my family of origin,

Was part of my resolve to get healthy.

Because, for me, health means a clear and open place in ones’ self to register the nuance of Life

In all it’s sacredness

Devoid of the theatrical costuming we dress Her with.

I am fully aware that my experience of my youth is mine and mine alone.

My siblings had their own theater going on.

The only way I know to become FREE (ie: healthy)

Is to keep reaching for the colors and cut of the cloth

I have dressed my life in, in the past,

Which often have constricted my heart

And muscles

And mind.

It is my form of fishing;

On the banks of a gently flowing river

WITH A FRIEND (not recommended to be alone),

I cast my rod (for my version of ‘truth’)

And wait for the slow, underwater disturbance

Of the wriggling thing I’ve caught. (An “AHA” moment).

I reel in the slippery bottom-dweller.

Share it with my friend, (the witnessing)

And ALWAYS…

I MEAN EACH AND EVERY TIME

I reel in something from ‘THE MYSTERY,’

I look in awe at the raw and lively thing

And release it back into the rolling waters

With a prayer of gratitude

For how it has changed and healed me.

I NOW HAVE MORE ROOM TO ‘BE.’

The metaphor is this, in other words:

*Do the work.

*Find your ‘truth.’

*Tell a friend (to get it out of the murky waters of your head.)

*PUT IT DOWN.. (so you have more room for LIFE).

This is the best medicine I know.

There’s a way to do it without it’s reduction to navel-gazing.

But when one’s life is on the line (ie: read: mine)

Decorum has to take a second seat.

And THAT, dear readers

Is the squirrly-est part of my own healing path.

The process would be forever barred from the country club;

Renegade, messy, unkempt at best..

But then again.. her I am at last..

In love with LIFE,

Certainly not always..

But enough to keep going down to the river.

.
.
PS.. A pitcher of margaritas and some purple grapes with cheese and home-made bread
make very fine accompaniments.

Gifts of the Mother


hand painted terry cloth robe, 1986
___________________________________

I fell the other day.

It happened in a dirt parking lot which was rutted and sandy.

I was not hurt.

I slipped in the gravel next to my car as I was negotiating the narrows I had left between a railroad tie and the car in an attempt to give my dog some shade.

Needless to say, it was not a handicapped parking spot.

As I sat there in the dirt, I looked at Olivia who was sitting in the driver’s seat with a mixture of confusion, compassion, impatience and love on her face.

We chatted, my beloved dog and I as I sat there in the dirt.

“Well, Livvy… here I am sitting here and I can’t get up.”

Her eyes go half mast as they do when she feels love toward people.

I tried to turn myself over but my feet kept slipping underneath the car, not able to get a foothold in the dirt.

“Let’s try this again… hmmmm… if I hold on here and twist here, I might be able to do it..”

This went on for 15 minutes without a tear in sight.

Yes, I was swimming in humility.

Yes, I was frustrated.

Yes, I wanted to be ‘saved.’

But most of all it felt like a challenge far from the spiral of darkness it could easily have attached itself to.

What does this have to do with MOTHER?

I am the eldest of four.

I saw an old family movie recently where I was impossibly innocent and cute.

There was light there in my eyes.

I lost that at 5 years old when I got buck teeth and a new, blonde sister.

Something happened, then, that put me on a very gritty road I actually am not sorry about.

I was… believe me..

But not now.

Because I really am enjoying who I am these days and know she came forward BECAUSE OF choices I made in the midst of a challenging childhood.

My mother and I parted emotionally supportive ways early on.

Pretty much at birth.

She wasn’t ready to be stripped of the possibility of getting her own enormous needs met.

Forgive her? No.. not there as yet.

My sister got to ‘have’ her.

I have sometimes hated my sibling for the injustice of it all.

My sister became my mother’s confidant and ballast and empty space-filler-in-er.

They gathered in the kitchen whispering and judging.

A covert comment.. then the weird ‘cover’ of silent cooking or cleaning or: “Just LOOK at that crabapple tree in bloom.”

Needing a place of my own, I learned how to change myself around to charm, entertain, soothe and mollify my alcoholic FATHER.

She got mom; I got dad.

This arrangement served us well in the ability to survive a very dysfunctional family.

But my sister and I lost each other in the process.

I became a juvenile delinquent as I spun around, trying to finding a place in the world that felt free and mine.

I spent hours and days in the woods behind our toxic house, soothed by nature and the blessed non-humanness of it all.

I smoked cigarettes, pot, did drugs and skipped school.

I got a semblance of the attention I was so hungry for.

My mother and I got so far apart that when I was raped as a college student she did not show up at all.. a cursory “I’m so sorry” on the phone was the extent of support.

I asked her why? years later and she said: “I just didn’t know what to do or say.”

My sister and other siblings have created healthy and happy families, marriages and lives.

I am so proud of us all for surviving what we did without hurling our unhappiness outward toward whoever was there at the moment and creating good lives for ourselves.

I see that my sister knows how to be in relationship in ways I don’t.

Watching her in family and marriage inspires me and instructs as well.

This ability she has is the thing I envied for so long and can only happen as a transmission from ‘the mother.’

When I was struggling in the dirt of the parking lot after my fall, I was using all the skills I learned as an independent and rebellious forsaken child:

I know how to work my way through challenge by entertaining myself with a shift in point-of-view.

My movement toward Life includes the ability to NOT COLLAPSE and trust myself to know I can figure a way to achieve the thing.

I find myself and Life eternally interesting as I watch the ways in which people (and I) negotiate the shadow; society’s and their own.

I have learned to find solace and inspiration in the smallest of things.

We protect the things we love.

I grew up without that sense of safety that should have been a given.

I have had to learn to lick my wounds and choose now to enliven in each moment because it feels good.

This is an EARNED skill and truly one of my greatest achievements.

These abilities are the things I love and protect.

Here’s where duality comes in:

I know what LOVE feels like BECAUSE I also have been privy to it’s absence.

I can get over myself and love my sister,

And keep those away from my sphere who want what I have without putting in the work.

Because work it is

And truthfully, I’ve had enough.

I open myself now,

As a healthy, emotionally sturdy

LOVER OF LIFE;

Albeit a bit grimy on the backside.

Relief


untitled, 24″ x 4″, ceramic, 1996
________________________________

The pervasive and very pagan

Jumping up and down

Celebrating death

We are experiencing now

Scares me.

My body wants to curl in on itself

To protect my own preciousness

From untrustable human beings.

I include my own self

In that assessment

As I have surprised myself

More than once.

Fact is:

Security is an inside job

Whether we like it

Or not..

And we don’t.

I laughed so hard when I saw this:

And I was so grateful

For the little tid-bit

Of room

That laughter

Gave my poor heart.

You’re Bad


detail of pigment on wool flannel
________________________________

Last night during dinner with a very good friend

As I listened to another installment of the recurring drama of her relationship with a particular man

I heard these words come out of my mouth:

“It’s not him. It’s you.”

This morning, I looked around my house and did not see a diploma for a Phd. in psychology…

It felt harsh, the thing I said.

Another friend of mine has dished out that golden bit of wisdom to me

A number of times

But she just says the beginning of the phrase; “It isn’t him/her.”

She has said it enough to me over time that all I now need is just that lead

To know that my anger, frustration, horror, whatever..

Is generated by MY REACTION TO A THING

And NOT the thing itself…

I thought about this with the announcement of Osama Bin Laden’s death.

There was a hollow feeling.

We, as a country, have used up so very many years hating the bad guy.

It has become a national form of entertainment to hate the bad guy.

But when the bad guy is gone..

We’ve still got ourselves.

And has anything really shifted?

I am looking at all this for myself, this morning.

Where am I attempting to ease the road for myself

By making something/someone else wrong?

My health challenges…?

No men in Santa Fe…? (this is a favorite here..)

Not enough money..?

My mother..?

What IS bad is the anxiety I create

Waiting for the things I feel are bad

To get good, somehow.

And the only thing I know to do

Is to SHIFT MY POINT OF VIEW

And concentrate, instead on making change within.

Do you think this ‘pollyanna-ish’?

All I have control over

Is my very own inner violence.

Very seductive to think otherwise.

But it waits in cobwebby corners

Ready to spring

With the slightest whisper

Of the next disappointment

Or narrowing of my brow.

Effect change at home…

Easier to access a sense of accomplishment

And save the world

From the din of the frantic smoke screens

We seem to throw this way and that.