The Body Politic


detail of sculpture, wood matches, earth
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A few years into this health challenge of mine I noticed that what was going on inside my body and mind was a microcosm of the macrocosm we all swim in.

I mean that the process I experience of having to rebuild a thriving life out of the ashes left after the big fire of MS seared away the me I knew; the artist Cathy, the yoga enthusiast Cathy, the capable, independent, lone ranger Cathy..

When she was gone I had the CHOICE to begin again.

I chose the gift of rebuilding myself into an authentic being.

I have made my life my art.

I didn’t used to need you.

Now I do.

I do because I have had the experience of being shattered

And checking in to see if I wanted to continue.

Either choice had value.

I chose.. and continue to choose LIFE.

What that means is a continual and rigorous inquiry into what that means to choose LIFE:

Is this food life-giving, this person, this belief, this TV program, this organization, this book, this home, this conversation?

I just can’t do my life alone anymore.

Our world’s population has not broken quite substantially enough for each one of us to recognize our need for one another quite yet.

The shattering hasn’t been felt personally by enough of us to recognize we need one another.

The pride has to go..the arrogance..the tunnel vision..the lone ranger and superman costumes (all mine at one point),

The water has to stop coming out of the faucet

For us to feel the thirst

And finally turn to one another.

Yes- we are all connected.

And that is a nice thought.

But it is just cocktail party repartee

Until it’s not

And THEN is when LIFE begins in the most unexpected and juicy ways.

Walking


detail of painting
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I have been one acquainted with the night.

I have walked out in rain – and back in rain.

I have outwalked the furthest city light.

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– Robert Frost

God With Some Skin On


OLIVIA
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This has been a roiling year for me..

Thanksgiving approaches and I check out my ratio of soft heart to armoring up.

I look back on who I was last year at this time and I don’t recognize that woman.

She used to be more gregarious and outwardly-purposeful.

I didn’t know love as intimately last year as I do now.

For this knowingness, much in my life has been traded: projects, food, muscle control and body functionality, a full life.

What initially feels like emptiness

Opens into a space populated by pure preciousness: my family who have circled the wagons round.. my beloved four-legged personal exultation of untainted spirit I am privileged to co-habitate with…. friends who keep their eye on me and their distance when I am hunkered down… healers generously spreading their salve on my beingness…helpers shopping and cleaning so I may rest in beauty…strangers opening doors and silently checking on my ok-ness…advocates stepping up and raising their voice where mine falls silent…soup-makers, screwdriver-weilders, magic money, dog walkers and internet comrades…silent prayer givers, tear wipers and inspirers all…..

Is this not a life of richness?

I think yes.

OK


detail of painting
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The truth is, everything will be okay as soon as you are okay with everything. And that’s the only time everything will be okay.
~ Michael Singer
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Dependance, Independence, Interdependance


ceramic installation detail
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Youth and health have this in common: the incessant rise and push outwards toward dreams and goals and future.

The tether is pulled taut in a muscular reach anchored securely in a self.

As a baby, we need… food, comfort, shelter, clothing, safety, love.

Slowly, we etch out a life for ourselves and cut the ties.

We swim out into our very own ocean; heedless of warnings about rip tides and monsters in the deep.

To this day I THRILL when I see a yellow school bus and realize I do not have to get on the damn thing because I AM AN ADULT! YEAH!

It is a heady experience to follow the sometimes confined experience of childhood with the giddy power of making one’s own decisions. Making a life.

Then- sooner or later we begin to need once again.

The sheen of an adventurous life spent oblivious to an end

Begins to take on a more opaque patina; colors and textures never imagined.

Joints get rickety and eyesight diminished.

The tide is going out now.

When I was growing up I used to love tide pools; those pockets in the rocks left holding an entire colony of creatures after the giant wave and out=going tide retreated.

Each of those creatures in in relationship to one another.. they have to be.. they are there together without the salve of an entire ocean to hide in, heal in, mask weakness, vulnerability and need in.

Interestingly, llness seems to reveal many roads toward wholeness.

And then…


monoprint, 22 x 30″
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“If one opens up chaos, magic also arises. One can teach the way that leads to chaos, but one cannot teach magic. One can only remain silent about this, which seems to be the best apprenticeship.”

— The Red Book, C. G. Jung

Holding The Opposites


hand-painted terrycloth robe
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Yesterday, I wrote a post I am not proud of but I promised not to edit myself as this seems the only way to see what is true for me.

I have made my life’s quest to become authentic.

This, for me means having the awareness of WHAT IS; pretty or not, slimy or smooth.

I awoke this morning eager to get to the computer and delete the post.

But I won’t because it is part of me.

Sometimes I am the woman who knows the truth of what I began the post with which was a quote regarding how to hold suffering.

Other times I am the woman who read over the finished post and declared it (and me) “shit.”

Last evening I attended a C.G. Jung Institute of Santa Fe community program which was a forum entitled: THE RELEVANCE OF JUNG’S PSYCHOLOGY TO OUR POLITICAL CRISIS.

I see a Jungian therapist and was interested in what might be said during an evenings discussion of the polarities we face intimately which manifest themselves politically.

One speaker told the story of Mitt Romney’s family dog Seamus, tied to the top of his car (but with a homemade windshield installed) to endure a 12 hr. road trip. The result was that Seamus had severe diarrhea. Mr. Romney hosed the dog and car down and continued on.

This speaks of severe detachment. Would he care for me if he treats his dog with such abuse and disrespect?

Another presenter spoke of the disappointment we feel in Obama’s reticence to be the mover and shaker some of us hoped he would be. (Why doesn’t he do what we want him to do and do it quicker?)

This election is unnerving for many reasons- one being the ‘winner’ could represent either polarity and what will we do..each of us if our guy doesn’t win?

Should I hate the part of me who ‘shit on myself’ and curl up in a ball as I throw in the towel?

One of the forum presenters mentioned Barak Obama’s invitation to all of us: something like ‘If you don’t like how I’m handling things – MAKE ME hear your desires/needs.. ‘ (my paraphrase)

The point being that if we are passive about handling our own personal muck and mire, paralysis and discontent then we have little right to demand someone else fix it for us. Barack was telling us that he can’t do this alone and was inviting mature (his word) ideas and solutions. He was inviting us to act.

But I don’t think we all need one another enough yet. We seem to still enjoy placing blame to rid ourselves of tension.

I pray for the ability and courage to walk in balance, to make room for what is and remember that through actions of my own I can bear the tension of the opposites and thereby live with more compassion for myself and others.

In Place Of A Pill


“YES” 6 x 4′ 1994, m/m
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“If you want to end your own suffering, this is how you do it. Not by hating the suffering; not by doing battle with it; not by trying to fix it; not by trying to figure it out; not by trying to get around it; not by trying to shrink it; not by trying to minimize it; not by trying to explain it away.
The way to reduce your suffering is to open up to it, to make it bigger, to make it wider. To see that your suffering – if you really know what it is – is the suffering of everyone. The way for anyone to end his or her suffering is to love others and be concerned for their suffering.
When you really love others, and you are willing to have your heart broken by their suffering, that is liberation. Your eyes and your heart are open, and even if you yourself are suffering, it is perfectly okay, and you don’t mind at all.”

–Norman Fischer, Weekly Newsletter, Upaya Zen Center, October 30, 2012
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Now, “LOVE” in the way he is using it here has zero to do with how we have turned the word into the oily and indistinct one used on TV like ‘THE BACHELOR.”

No…

I am going to speak from authority here as I am quite certain of what lies beneath major disappointment and heartbreak (as too many of us do).

The thing I am pointing to which is UNDERNEATH the gussied up and inauthentic thing we name ‘love’

Is something akin to what I would call: INTERDEPENDENCE.

For it seems I need YOU and the cracks and wrinkles etched so gorgeously into your humanity with courage (and not)

To feel my own heart open and soften and surrender.

And I do.

And I am so very OK.

But I write things like this and re-read them and think I am full of shit..

Ah, well- onward I go into the wild blue yonder.. complete with a sense of humor partially intact.