Complaining


detail of sculpture- giant porcupine quills, ceramic
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A very good girlfriend seems to love it when I complain.

She says: “Cath, it helps me to feel what you are going through and I think that if you don’t make time to tell the real truth about this you will become sicker.”

I have been thinking about what she said and tried it out this week by telling my sister my various symptoms and also letting my aforementioned friend witness as I spelled it our for her. I chose these two as I know they will not try to ‘fix’ and I feel safe with them.

She did seem very engaged and eager to hear all the details, letting me know she had heard me and thanked me for my honesty.

I walked away feeling a combination of things.

I was just a bit lighter.

But it’s genesis was not because of WHAT I shared.

I felt lighter just having the experience of my friend WANTING to witness me.

The core of relief actually had little to do with the sharing of symptoms but more the opening of two hearts reaching for one another.

This friend I speak of (and my sister)love me, want the best for me, feel better when they know specifics, I think, so they can have a ‘read’ on how things are for me.

The thing is: how things are for me is part symptoms but more than anything else it is how I suffer the experience of them. Or don’t.

I wail. Then I don’t.

I am too weak to go to my PT appointment. The next one I get to and work hard.

I have a home. Then I don’t. Then I do.

My wheelchair gets stuck while picking up poop on my walk with my dog. Someone stops in their car to help. I get unstuck and carry on. Laughing.

I feel stubborn and defended about receiving support from my family. The next moment I am praying for God to bless them with unending Grace in their own lives as they are doing for me.

I am best when I live in the space between.

Allowing it all but resting in none of it.

As soon as I complain, a rigidity, a denseness is attached to the thing and then I have to work harder even to ease it out again.

This is not denial but a choice.

My beingness is fluid in the fields of life; health, happiness, security.. there are options inherent on this field in which lie choices.

Our entire culture is enchanted by connecting through ‘woundology.’ It helps us feel we belong and settles the ache of profound loneliness.

Watch what happens when I say: “Yesterday, my incontinence was out of control, I was too weak to even roll over in bed and I now walk around with holes in my pants and raggedy shoes because my financial state is such that I can not afford all I want.”

You might feel good because you are healthier than me, easy because you have money in the bank and a profound recognition something like: ‘By the grace of God, there go I.’

You may feel sorry for me. Maybe you feel relieved I am still here and kicking (so to speak).

Likely, you would launch into your own health challenges at some point.

There is value in each of those reactions I listed above..for you but not for me. But value is value.

I just walk away feeling closer to the symptoms and challenges.

If I stay quiet and compose myself (when I can) to be like the river and release the very human tendency to grab hold of each rock (symptom,suffering) to ground myself in false KNOWING (I HAVE MS. I AM FAILING.)

If I stay quiet inside life then registers as Life (with a capitol L).

I try to make room for it all

And remember to wear my Chanel #5 (for my benefit and yours..)

I Had A Life


“BLACK FOREST” 2008, ceramic,sand
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I installed the piece shown above in a friend’s garden the other day.

Most of the work I created during my time as an artist is long gone..sold, thankfully.

I kept a few pieces back in my personal collection to enjoy myself and remind me of the ‘me’ that was.

Sometimes the art has other ideas and needs to go elsewhere.

Case in point: “BLACK FOREST.”

I enlisted two friends to help me install what happens to be my favorite work of art in a lovely and intimate courtyard with trees just off the home’s master bedroom and dining room.

I sat in a chair and told my friends where to place each object… “There..no, just 1/2 inch to the right..YES!”

They were patient as each piece found it’s way home.

I have not made art in awhile and found myself saying things like: “I LOVE MY ART!” “Look how inCREDible this is looking!”

When we were finished the two of them kindly packed up boxes and left me there alone for a bit to commune with the work which was so alive and tenuously sending down new roots into it’s unfamiliar earthen home.

It had already left ME and had begun the adventure of claiming the new spot.

I could tell it really liked where it was and I sat back and thrilled at the miracle that it was my very hands which brought this beautiful experience to life not too long ago… Not so very long ago…

I said goodbye and took my leave.

Just a touch of melancholy but mostly a lovely peace inside.

That life WAS…this one today IS.

I felt content knowing that somewhere along the line I have learned how to create a day, a life like that work of art; mold the clay, fix the flaw, enjoy the shape, send it through the fire and if it fractures pick up another piece of clay and do it again.