Myopia


“ABIQUIU”, detail, ceramic, earth
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My resolve has always been

To become the best I can be.

For me, that has meant

Things like meeting hidden traumas

Of various forms,

And mining the shadows

For energetic obstacles

Intent on preventing me from thriving.

It is a dirty job.

Messy job.

But, in my case it has been the only way

This beautiful patina

I now am seeing on me

Had any chance of making it’s appearance

And remaining uncovered.

I would not be surprised

If I knew

The actual number of people in my life

Who had taken a few steps back from me

For fear

My relentless quest and it’s intensity at times

Would upstage any chance at

An easy and comfortable exchange.

Believe me, I don’t blame the reticence.

It likely was a fine, fine choice indeed.

And so.. my path in healing my body and soul

Has been in partnership

With a good deal of solitude.

And I really get sick of myself, sometimes!

So- When I do,

A good dose of a grander perspective

Is in order.

Today, I went here.

I mean, REALLY….

Can you look at that and not remember

Your lovely

And purposeful

Part of the plan

Which is a supportive role

And not the lead?

I’m Not Giving Up


detail of painting on textile, wool flannel
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I wrote a post the other day entitled: “I’M GIVING UP.”

It was in reference to hosting an event in which I chose to sell most of my private collection of remaining art.

I orchestrated it as a mark in time

To help me and all parts of me

As well as letting the Universe know

That I am laying down my 30 year identity as an artist-in-form

Because my body is ‘different’ these days.

I did it with a very full heart.

With gladness.

I sat there and witnessed a good chunk of ‘time’ leaving

With my blessing.

The gift I gave myself was/is open space.

Emptiness… to love as is

Or, perhaps be filled by the Mystery.

Inside this process of give-away, sell-off, bye-bye darlings

Is wrath.

Wrath.

I have to say it again as I am quite sure I’ve never paid attention to that word

Let alone used it before.

And yet, there it is…

It’s visitation (for I know it will eventually knock on someone else’s door)

Shocks me.

I love my center.

It was lost for so long

And now I’ve found it.

I see I may have settled into a bit of complacency.

What to do with this quicksilver and searing

Unconsciousness

Directed at the beloveds in my life?

Yes, there are ‘reasons.’

Plenty of evidence to use as fuel.

But it’s dirty fuel.

Anger’s favorite gas is evidence.

It will run on and on

And on.

The fumes are so toxic, though.

It is inefficient fuel at best.

Today, I promised myself I would not give up

On my gentle heart.

The actions needed and the effects of

DESTRUCTION AND CREATION

Are messy, indeed.

Did I think I could sail through this life event

Of choosing to silence one voice

In order to make room for another to be born

Without any kind of fallout?

How silly of me.

I AM a gentle heart.

AND..

I am ‘other’ as well.

If I love and respect my own beingness

As I surely do,

Can I be humble enough to just notice what’s here,

Give it a nod or a bow

And move forward from the soft place

That seems to have the almost unbearable capacity

To house all these heretofore

Orphaned parts of me?

I am not giving up on myself.

I AM.

Picking Up The Sword


ceramic sculpture (detail)
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Crafting a weapon such as a sword

Is actually a very organic process.

Heat and more heat..

Folding, pounding.

Then do that all over again

A thousand thousand times

And you might (just might)

Get an edge you can be proud of.

I am wary

When I hear myself say that I don’t like something.

These days, it just plain takes too much energy

To have a judgement about ANYthing.

I heard myself say in this blog, recently: “I don’t like metal.”

Why, I wondered?

It is a neutral element

Save for whatever I put on it, meaning-wise.

When I think of metal

I think of swords;

Wielding a sword, in particular.

Every girl should have her own personal gleaming edge

At the ready.

Don’t be afraid..

Or, rather: BE VERY AFRAID!

Surely, we are speaking metaphorically here

But the journey from the tiny spark of God

We were born with

To the embodiment of ‘SAMURAI’

Is an arduous path, indeed.

Picking up the sword

And using it effectively

Asks us first,

To even know WE HAVE ONE.

Asked even last week what my sword looked like

I would have said a pretty flimsy and warped piece of wood;

Slightly waterlogged and bereft of patina.

Today, my answer is different.

I will tell you about it in a minute.

What do we need a sword for, anyway?

How do we hold it?

Where do we keep it?

How do we honor it?

What noise does it make when used well?

I want to survive

And thrive.

In order for me to do that

I MUST separate the wheat from the chaff;

Be ruthlessly

discriminatory in my choices:

People around me, how far I choose to let each in, places I go physically, food, thought and emotional patterns, beliefs, what I hold sacred and how I tend such…

These choices, and many more

Are what will keep me alive.

Saying the kind of “YES”

To these kinds of ‘medications’

Means there must also be an equal and potent

“NO.”

And this is where the sword comes in.

Being this discriminating

Makes my previous tendency toward acquiescence

Shake in it’s boots.

I haven’t the energy to whip around any long piece of metal

Willy-nilly

Until.. by some miracle

It meets it’s mark.

No.

I am going for the whisper of an almost imperceptable

“Fffffftttttt.”

I will turn and walk away without a smile.

Forfeiting grace, connectedness and my place in the community of fellow humans is not my objective.

Whatever is back there

Will be wondering just what happened

And I will have earned

The right to choose

Again.

I Give Up


untitled, 1991, ceramic objects
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This past weekend I surrendered.

The word conjurs up images of an army hoisting a feeble-looking white flag

And bearing the weight of defeat.

Perhaps, a better word for my actions might be “YIELD.”

I yielded to the fact I can no longer produce art

In the forms it has chosen to arrive

During my thirty year career as a fine artist.

My art-making has been labor intensive

And not….

But I have always had the solace of a ‘thing-in-form’

Which somehow magically appeared

At the end of a string of inspiration, action and completion.

I DID something!

I MADE something!

There is a mark here where there was none before.

I AM.

A great deal of my ‘I AM-ness’ has been derived from a long identity as an artist.

This past weekend two good friends helped me achieve

Another kind of work-in-form

Which far surpassed any fulfillment

I have achieved to date.

I packed up my remaining private collection of art (not all)

And the works fidgiting in the cavern of a storage unit.

My two ‘girlfriends/sisters/family’ helped me orchestrate a spectacular event

In which my remaining work was hung, leaned, propped against the walls

Of a gracious home.

Invitations were sent to collectors

With a real time and date

Inviting them to come by and help me release this long and lovely art-making career

I’ve utterly adored.

You can be sure

That in the hours before the appointed time

My cheeks were wet

With heavy tears

As I did the interior wiggling around

It takes to let go.

By the time we opened the gate

I was sitting there

On the lovely patio

Surrounded by a lifetime of giving birth to beauty.

I felt so beautiful, myself,

As I welcomed the art-lovers

And watched them choose parts of me

To take home and love.

In the end,

I felt no regret.. no clinging.. no ‘if only’s…’

Really, my willingness to surrender this beloved identity

Gave rise to rooms within my self

I’ve yet to choose furnishings for.

They wait patiently

Until my eyes adjust to the light.

This new space in me has a quality of infinite generosity;

It isn’t even hankering to be filled!

And I have left behind a good deal of fear.

So- I won’t have a sculpture or painting

To offer you.

It seems my very life has become the art.

I wonder if, in my smile

You can feel

The tears, the relief, the vulnerability,

The solace, the fear, the faith

It takes to step forward

Once again?

I Am A Boat


“FINE LINE” detail, 1999, m/m
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I am a boat.

Not a Chinese junque. – (my blood is too foreign though I do wish it wasn’t).

Well.. perhaps a gleaming and slippery, “Have a martini”, 40′ ode to speed? – (I’d lose the key..).

Maybe that great outboard motorboat we used up at the lake to go bass fishing as the dawn steam rose and we, wee ones still with sleep in our eyes? – (Oh, I did love the control!)

What about a catamaran? Sliding and cutting so deftly through..intent on getting ‘there’ FAST!.. The constant thrill of capsizing the thing?- (Nope).

I could be a giant cargo ship with all the ballast I’d ever need in rough seas.. (No beauty in all that safety and way too much metal. I’m not that fond of metal, anyway).

A folded paper boat adrift on an even pond? – (Not enough substance or staying power).

I will be a canoe.

My own ship carved of a tree so I will remember dry land should I turn toward forgetting.

It will hold one.

Two or three if I so choose.

My family and friends will have helped me carve the thing.

We will have sung songs and toasted it’s doneness before they hand me two paddles and I pause to bow (to them and it) before I step in alone.

I will push off the beach and settle my frame into the curve of the tended wood.

I will not look back.

I am not sad. I will cut the glassy sheen of the lake

And lean into my direction.

I pull the water to me

And let it empty behind.

Pull.

Empty.

Pull.

Empty.

The rhythm lifts me.

And the work is not.

I am free.

Destination is uninteresting.

I just stay with the impossible beauty.

In raw weather

I huddle in the rain and wind

Sometimes, just yielding to the whim of the lake

Because it is bigger than me.

In the morning with wet and straggly hair

I peek outside my parka.

The way seems clear

Though I do not know where I am.

A loon sets me straight

And my paddle meets the waters.

I sing.

Attention is Our Currency


“GRID”, 1992, 5′ x 5′, m/m
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I had a massage the other day.

He worked on my right side, primarily.

My leg below my calf has become quite numb.

The masseuse I work with has very shiny and clean energy

So I have the gift of not having to shield myself from his ‘stuff’

And just deal with mine.

We worked the full hour on attempting to wake up my leg.

He asked me to send particular kinds of breath there.

My breath shifted from the shallows

To deep and long and wide.

My whole being felt smooth and supported.

A strange loneliness left me.

After the massage I asked him:

“Can you tell me anything that I could be doing on my own
Until I see you next?”

“When we began, your leg was pretty much empty and dark inside. After we worked together, it now registers as ‘dim’.

It scared me when he said that.

WHERE IS THE LIFE IN MY LEG?

And yet.. I participated in just a short hour’s worth of work

And felt the shift

Of light / life / love come in.

It was not a pill.

Nor was it a panacea.

We PAY attention,

Which has always been in our bank account.

Endless supplies, it seems.

We get what we pay for.

I am quite sure that my eagerness to wake up most mornings

And the blessing of an attitude of curiosity

And general gratitude

Even though I could call my life ‘tough’,

Is the threshold to HEALING;

Whatever that ‘looks’ like.

My attention is directed toward a lightness of being

Rather than the dark emptiness I sensed in my leg.

I can tell you in all honesty

That if I hung out for long enough

In that dark place

I would die.

I don’t have the luxury of messing around with other forms of currency.

Attention is ‘IT’ for me now.

I either refine my abilities in this arena

Or I will lie down

And not get up.

You see: it is all a choice.

I CHOOSE LIFE.

I CHOOSE LIFE.

I CHOOSE LIFE.

Popularity and Choice


“RENAISSANCE” (detail), 2008, 10′ x 4′, naturally pigmented earth, waterproof MDF
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When I married a number of years ago,

In preparation for the day

There were choices to be made.

One of the most challenging for me

Was deciding

Who I REALLY wanted there.

It was effortful because I was changing;

Beginning to make decisions from an authentic place

Instead of an ‘expected’ one.

Like: “I should invite this person because she’s so-an-sos’- mother.

I am using this example because as I look back

Some of my decisions were unpopular.

But, the thing is:

I felt infinitely more free

To sink into the day.

Today, I am more practiced at choosing for myself

And I don’t really care

That those choices register as unpopular on occasion.

How, actually do I choose, these days?

Really, it is an innate trust of my body;

DOES THIS DECISION FEEL RIGHT?

Is this decision generated from my mind?

If so… Cathy: try again.

I often close my eyes and let myself sink into the bottom of my belly.

I try to do what it takes to bypass my brain and even my heart.

When I get my consciousness there

I ask the question again

And FEEL the answer.

Often it surprises me,

Or disappoints me,

Or inspires me,

Or scares me, even.

This intelligence I can now tap into at will

Is the one I trust with every cell of me.

Do I always listen? No.

Is my choice always correct? No.

Do I consistently do what it takes to get there? No.

Do I care what you’ll think of me when I act on this decision I’ve just made? Sometimes.

I am a work in progress.

My life is now my art.

I make a ‘mark’ here

And see if it feels right.

If not, I just take the liberty

Of painting over that mark

And beginning again.

And I walk (figuratively speaking) on..

Utterly enchanted by the colors I choose.

Smolder Factor


“LINE IN THE SAND”, 40″ x 30″, 2003, m/m
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I was listening to the radio this morning

As someone talked about survival of the fittest.

I hear that phrase and am continually thrown

Into the tired inquiry:

“Am I fit?”

On the evolutionary scale, is someone like me meant to drop to the side of the road

Because I am unable to keep up in the physical realms?

Well… no.

Period.

Honestly, somebody has got to change these litmus tests we use

To decide who has got worth

And who is not worth the effort.

Today, that someone will just have to be me.

Tell me that your heart is not changed and better

For having witnessed this.

Really, I ask you:

Do you think these people have ‘fitness’

In a way most of us have never even come close to?

I am calling it: ‘THE SMOLDER FACTOR”

Because it isn’t an ‘in your face’ kind of thing at all

But it has the heat

And sort of slow, transformative quality

That gets at ‘ya

When you least expect it.

If you get in there

And really FEEL those people

Can you tell me you’d leave them

By the side of the road

Without knowing in the bottom of your stomach

You missed some sort of treasure

For which there is no name?

Vulnerability


“WHITE TREE”, 2001, 11″ x 11″ x 4″, m/m
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We hear the word ‘vulnerable’

And we wish we hadn’t.

In the deep recesses of our smaller selves

We value power and control

Over communion.

We ARE vulnerable creatures…

Descended from the great apes who had what it took to survive,

We are standing here, now

With only the barest snippet

Of the fur they depended on for warmth.

Because we don’t need it.

Gone are the food gathering skills

And the ‘you stay with me, kid’ uber-nurturing

As well as the intricate tribal intelligence

It took to live so closely together

In peace.

Here we all stand (albeit with a wobble in my case)

Looking so confident

And secure.

And then….

Some THING happens

That shatters the thin sheen

Of manufactured order

We banked on lasting forever.

All of a sudden..

WE ARE IN NEED!!!!

Our shiny costuming

Is dragging through the mud

And we can’t remember the word

For: “HELP!”

Standing there, mute,

By the side of the road,

We let all the cars go by

As we hide in the bushes.

We stay there,

Wet and hungry

Until we are forced to step forward.

With every ounce of pride

Finally dissolved

And replaced by humility,

Someone altogether changed

And so very lovely

Approaches the highway

And asks for a ride.

Choice (re-post)

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Part of upcoming book: “GOOD MEDICINE”
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“Good Medicine” continued..


‘ALEXANDRA’S INFLUENCE’ 1995, 16″ x 16″, m/m
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introduction continued..

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In three years time, chiropractors and massage therapists and psychotherapists and injections became too familiar as my body slipped into and out of working order at an alarming rate. I became an unreliable friend as I cancelled more often than followed through on plans. Eighty percent of my life energy was going toward worry, pill taking and trying to keep my wobbly balance a secret. Life was getting narrow.

My ability to tame my point-of-view concerning physical illness has been my best medicine. Somehow, I have always recognized that between the lines of a diagnosis etched in stone are possibilities no one ever talks about. These gifts are born of the shadows cast from any illness; chronic or otherwise.

I love my life. This is not pie-in-the-sky denial talking. Of course, I am not thrilled with every second of every day but on the whole, for me, life is very good. My creativity has naturally segued from labor intensive art making into writing which feels natural and satisfying. My values are shifting from ‘out there’ gratification toward cultivating my own garden. I am judicious as to who and what I invite into the new world I am creating. I understand obstacles as challenges and way-showers inviting me into pockets of life that feed me deeply. I cry more and feel washed clean. My laugh is ready and real. I sense a transparent quality about myself reflected in the eyes of others. I am more authentically Cathy than I knew I could be and I like her very much.

My intention with this book is to change the paradigm of disability in our culture; to lift the societal veils surrounding illness and reveal a very new color palate enriched by humor, beauty and an honest look at possibilities instead of the narrow prescriptions of our well-meaning medical professionals.

I can promise you a laugh or two, a tear perhaps and certainly the tools I’ve found to craft a life of possibility instead of the out of control downward spiral all too often offered those of us in partnership with a high-maintenance body.