The Lake


detail of painting
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I cried yesterday.

Tears come easily to me as I watch dysfunctional family movies or films about an underdog triumphing over life challenges. The distress of our environment is another trigger.

They also arrive when I am overcome by beauty; our New Mexico skies (before the fires), humanity at it’s finest and often inside the feeling of enormous gratitude.

Yesterday’s tears were the kind I seldom cry which come from frustration mixed in with surrender to ‘what is.’

I’m really pretty good at taking the high road but sometimes I get so tired of soldiering my way through that I must just drop to my knees and roll over and weep.

Yesterday I laid there on my bed and let the goddess of tears have her way with me. Such a relief it was..

But my dog was alarmed by the unusual noises she heard.

She came and sat directly on my chest and began licking away my tears.

They were flowing fast- making little lakes in my eye sockets.

She stayed there..lapping them up as they arrived and catching the strays which made it to my cheeks.

She stayed there loving me in this way until my heart settled and my breathing softened and the heaving stopped.

She stayed there until I finally smiled.

And only then did she take her leave.

After such a good cry and feeling washed clean I felt the need to celebrate.

So the two of us got in the car and went adventuring together..just looking at the world, smelling the world and feeling loved-the two of us.

I sang her stupid little ditties I made up on the spot while she kept her still wary eye on me all the while.

Life is good.

Minnows


pigment on wool flannel, 5′ x 5′, 1985
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It is searing hot all over the land and this makes me think of minnows..

Summers as a kid saw our family at a lake cottage in northern Michigan. My Dad designed the place and you’d think it was enviable but it actually was the repository of a whole family’s shadowlands.. Just the inside part.. The outdoors was just one big and wild adventure for me.

This is where minnows come in..Beside the dock were shallow waters strewn with interesting rocks and pebbles (petoskey stones from ancient sea coral beds, agate, unknown beauties..).

The early mornings found the lake calm as glass and most people still at their oatmeal as we headed to the dock with Dad.

He had a minnow net; square netting with thin tension rods anchored to each of four corners meeting at the top. A string attached to the whole thing was gently dropped into the shallows, letting it float to the bottom.

Everyone hushed themselves with a slight elevated pump to the heart while we watched and waited for the silvery things to swim over the net.

WHOOSH!!!!!

Dad would pull up the net and there would be the unfortunate fish flailing, to be used later that day as bait for another adventure altogether.

But this one with Dad was practiced pretty much in silence as a ritual almost. We, as a clan had this common purpose.

Today, we’d call it bonding… The simplest of activity made sacred.

It was all ours. No Mom there. Just us. The fish. The Lake. The smells and lapping of the slightly restless water. The pleasure in having him alone. The urge to stand taller and be better to catch his approval.

I think of this as the heat of today starts oozing through my windows; rendering me weak and dull.

I miss my Dad.

Prayer Cliff Notes


detail of sculpture, ceramic, earth, nails
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“Dear God,

Please let me do the best I can do.”

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-D.N.
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Being An Emotional Empath


ceramic, 2000, 14″h
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“What?” you say… is THAT?

Sounds a bit airy-fairy.

But really.. it is real.

I have been known to partake in the waters of online dating from time to time. I miss men’s company and never seem to meet many in my fast and furious world of negotiating MS. (My profile contains full disclosure in case you were wondering..)

I watch myself continue to sabotage any glint of interest moving toward me.

“Why?” I ask myself.

An emotional empath feels another person’s reality just like it were their own. So, in essence we often are unable to distinguish what is our own and another’s ‘stuff.’

My talent for this came from the need as a child to be extraordinarily hyper-vigilant to ensure us kids remained ok in a challenging home.

As an adult I do not need this skill anymore because I am not in danger but it remains and dictates a good deal of my life.

As an example, I spend an inordinate amount of time alone. I do happen to love my own company but beyond that fact I NEED this time to figure out what is my shit or someone else’s I am picking up.

That said- in the dating realm I have a propensity to shut down the glimmer of interest occurring because on some level I am quite sure there is no one out there who would understand my need for alone-time such as it is. Such a story I have concocted…..

It is qualities such as these which often label artists as overly sensitive and unstable when in fact, the truth is we tend to be privy to information coming from many sources others are not aware of.

This business of being an empath is EXHAUSTING!!!!!!!! when it is, and fairly interesting when it is not.

Illness allows me a culturally approved reason to isolate. I often wonder if I needed this to have a built-in respite from the madding crowd.

I pray my natural urge toward connectivity asserts herself beyond this ancient armoring I still carry so my heart may lead me and get more
air time.

Three Power Tools To Lessen Isolation


hand-painted silk robes, 1986
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I’ve written before about particular things I do or pay attention to which ease my ride (and others) on this big adventure we are all on.

It’s the little stuff, ya’ know? I’ll keep posting more of these over time.

THREE OF CATHY’S LIFE ENHANCEMENT TOOLS FOR LIFE WITH MS

1. ENHANCE THYSELF!
Women- find a signature piece of jewelry that is unique in some way. Since my right hand is compromised I wear bright elastic cuff bracelets that are easy to put on.. Some days see me in a series of bejeweled + serious + fun + elegant all worn together. It sounds a little ‘much’ but the effect pleases me and never fails to be a conversation starter. See here. Google: ‘arm candy’ and go to ‘images’ for sources.

One of the things about disability is that we tend to remain marginalized for many reasons: other’s fear over saying the right thing mainly. People really WANT to connect with us so it’s nice to give them a way in. Great earrings work too.

“Love your earrings!”
“Thanks!”

This seemingly small connection is more powerful than we know.

Now, I’m not a man but for you guys I’d say try a hat (Marc at WHEELCHAIR KAMIKAZE distinguishes himself this way) or very cool glasses would make me look twice and have courage to make a connection. There are fabulous patterned or woven shirts out there too. A little outside-the-box is the ticket.

2. TRY TO BE SOMEONE OTHERS ARE INTERESTED IN

I smile a lot. No one wants to see a sad or depressed woman with a walker enter a restaurant. I see people’s wheels turning when they see me dressed well, hip walker (well…better than most) and smiling. They seem confused because I don’t look ill (of course they weren’t there yesterday when I was comatose from the heat..). EVERYone has a story to tell and I find if I have the strength and interest to ask about theirs- they in turn show interest in mine. When I just wait for attention to come toward me- nothing happens.

3. TIP WELL AND ACKNOWLEDGE THE EFFORTS OF OTHERS

One of my favorite things to do is be really conscious with my eye contact and do it a lot. Make sure someone you deal with at the bank or in yoga class or someone risking opening the door for you remembers the great feeling they had when you gave them all you’ve got for just that split second. EVERY person is hungry for appreciation or just the experience of being SEEN. I know.. we ALL want it but give it first and I guarantee you’ll get it back in spades.

And that right there is my take on some good medicine. A good life isn’t so hard to find but isolating sure doesn’t work for me (except on rainy days….).

That was an untruth I just told you.. I do isolate a lot in reality but I’m so much better if I stay connected.