The Poetry Of Adaptability

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HAIKU-

SOFTENING MY MOUTH
TAKES MOST OF THE HARDNESS OUT
OF AN ARMORED HEART

– CA

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Adaptability means allowing ourselves to be malleable; fluid to the river of life.

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DEFINITION-
make (something) suitable for a new use or purpose; modify.

synonyms: modify, alter, change, adjust, readjust, convert, redesign, restyle, refashion, remodel, reshape, revamp, rework, redo, reconstruct, reorganize;
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We can’t enter new territory all armored up being “right” because then there is no room for any newness to enter.

My best tool these days is what I call THE INNOCENT MOUTH. I have written about this before but feel like mentioning it again because it is so potent.

When I am really sure I am RIGHT my mouth tightens, lips thin, jaw sets, skin loses luster and liveliness, eyes harden and neck pulls in on itself.

Sounds pretty, eh?

(The best way to do this is to just consciously drop your teeth away from each other- lower jaw drops 1/2 inch down and jaw hangs naturally)

I have been paying attention to discarding armor for awhile now so I am sensitized to how these symptoms look and feel on me.

All that energy put in to defense leaves little left over for possibility.

And that is what I want.

I want to know that I have what it takes to move from the “THIS IS TOO HARD!!!!!!”

into:

“Just one little minute here Cath… Breathe, pause, start again.”

This is a micro-example, surely but the point is to keep at it and translate into bigger stuff that comes down the pike.

Soft mouth.

Innocent mouth.

Possible goodness.

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Willingness

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ceramic, approx. 5x3x3″
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WE ARE HERE

We are here essentially to risk ourselves in the world, we are a form of invitation to others and to otherness, we are meant to hazard ourselves for the right thing, for the right woman or the right man, for a son or a daughter, for the right work or for a gift given against all the odds. And in all this continual risking the most profound courage may be found in the simple willingness to allow ourselves to be happy along the way…

©2011 David Whyte
Excerpted from ‘LONGING From the upcoming book of essays CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.
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The Point Is…

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“And the point is, to live everything.”

-Rainer Maria Rilke

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A Good Thing

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detail of painted wool flannel
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Terry Wahls, MD has just published her long awaited book: THE WAHLS PROTOCOL.

She deals with PPMS as I do and was restricted to a wheelchair only to have healed herself to the point of an astounding level of athleticism through diet, primarily.

This book is the smartest and most comprehensive tome dedicated to healing ANY autoimmune illness I have ever read.

She concludes that inflammation is really the cause of most disease and her book is about how to feed yourself to allow recovery; in her case from what was essentially a death sentence.

Of course other vital elements are necessary to support healing like stress reduction, exercise and some supplementation but her main focus is on food and I believe her.

A diagnosis of PPMS leaves one to become their own best advocate as the western medicine model has little if anything to offer us unlike the relapsing-remitting MS folks to which all meds. are targeted.

If I eat sugar I can not hold my own weight at all.

24 hours later the effects of the sugar will have passed through my system and I am back to myself again so for me, I need no further proof diet is essential to my functioning.

Put The Damn Thing Down

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installation view, ceramic, earth
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A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”

It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down!

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Quiescence

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photo credit: Sharon Rose Dozar
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Quiescence, in the world of electronics means an electrical current holder (wire) which is at rest- no current running through it.

I posted the photo above as a documentation of the hardware I negotiate my life with.

They each lend me support which I try to appreciate.

Those accustomed to the blessed freedom of nonchalance in the mobility department would be hard-pressed to know the level of dedication it takes to remain dignified in this world I inhabit.

Thus- the title of this post which reflects my desire: that of a life lived in the non-suffering state I know to be possible through the Akido way of non-resistance. This means working to keep my circuits easy and empty of judgement, shame, grasping at a different state, frustration, anger, hopelessness, regret, et al…

Even hope, satisfaction, pleasure, knowledge, fun, communion sully the innate quiescence of the current.

Clean and empty.

This is hard to allow. Hard to even imagine.

But the alternative is a techno-jumble which balloons out the tender insulation of the wire; “THIS IS TOO HARD! THAT PERSON DOESN’T GET IT! I HATE THIS WHEELCHAIR! I WANT A DIFFERENT LIFE! I WANT TO WEAR THOSE DRESSES THE BALLROOM DANCERS WEAR!”

Or the flip side: “THAT CAKE IS SO GREAT! I BELIEVE THAT TOO! THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO HEAL AND I’M EXCITED TO TRAVEL AROUND THE WORLD TO SEE THE HEALER-MAN!” I ACTUALLY GOT THAT AWARD! Yeah me!”

Dignity is my main medicine.

For me, I work to hold the opposites in my body and mind.

Not negating any thing. Just witnessing, watching, being curious.

It is a huge job.

The graduate course, in fact.

Healthy

possibility

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“A healthy relationship is where 2 people just make a deal that they will help make that person the best version of themselves.”

– rawforbeauty.com
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The Deeper Business

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About beauty:

I feel more beautiful today than ever in my life; even while limping around and wrinkling my brow in the frustrations inherent in the small moments of my day no one sees but me.

Can’t cut vegetables? I grimace to get more muscle into it and it still doesn’t work.

Then- compassion comes.

Compassion for my self.. my complicated girl-self on her hero’s journey.

My face becomes softer and my eyes too. I like how I look and the vegetables are still there.. uncut.

I keep getting the gift of one more step forward

And I am never alone anymore as I have felt so often in my life. I have my tribe around me.

I aspire to the sublimity and Grace of THIS

No matter how many grimaces or how much surrendering She takes.

Self-deprecation vs. Aspiration

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hand-painted terry cloth robe
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Maya Angelou has written that she disallows the practice of belittling others in her home. She asks those who cannot speak from a positive place regarding another to leave immediately.

I might take that further and say we haven’t the time for false humility concerning our own own gifts.

I’ve noticed myself beginning to cringe at my own or others downplay of talent, wisdom, courage, instinct, leadership, specialness AND ordinary precious humanness.

Why is excess humility valued and receipt of acknowledgement for work well done often shied away from and even abhorred?

Not good manners to let praise rest with a person. Much better to deflect.

I find I do not trust those who do not know or can not stand for what they are good at.

This has been me too often.

Far, far too often.

I was such an impostor for so long that I had literally forgotten my natural self and so there was no one of substance home to accept a compliment or turn away from the dangerous projections of others.

I still work on my skills in these realms but I have a solid core now which is my compass and helps me find North when I become lost .

As I aspire to my highest Self I enjoy those around me knowing their worth and standing in it with no apology.

When I didn’t know myself well I used to ask those in my life whose opinion I trusted things like: “What do you think my best/worst qualities are? What do you sense are my gifts? What are qualities in me you admire? Are there things I do that frustrate you or cause impatience?”

I began to learn myself and that process has never let up.

Tell me what you are good at and I will share my gifts with you as well.

One thing I do well is to reflect others back to themselves so they might get a whiff of their own beauty. I am able to do this because I had a mother who couldn’t with me and I understand how crucial it is to know how we are perceived by others.

This is an innate quality and not a learned one. I used to use it unscrupulously in order to get people to like me.

Now it functions more like an elevating energetic tool; people begin to shine brighter as they remember who they really are.

It is then that the alchemy truly can begin.

The Great Undoing

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monoprint, 22×30″, 1994
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When I chose to re-title this blog last year

And went from “HEALING THROUGH MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS” to the current “LIVING UNDONE”

It was unsettling for some.

One of the greatest gifts offered to those dealt the hand of a chronically challenged physical self

Is the opportunity to edit one’s life down to what is sustaining, inspiring, nurturing, growth provoking, curiosity piquing and life-enhancing.

I have learned and am still learning what weakens my life force.

I tell you A LOT has been left at the side of the road as I walked (rolled) on.

I am continually interested in what stays and what goes;

Ideas I was so sure of, teachers I revered, objects cherished, habits enjoyed.

Gone, gone, gone.

The great undoing is never done.

Never.

And so- what exactly is left as we un-do?

From over here it feels wide and oddly full. Peace and possibility might describe what my experience is.

Peace and possibility.

The room for something to come in to my sphere as yet unknown with the pure essence of that which is Life.

If I’m empty enough and prepared my space (consciousness) so it shimmers with all the rough edges tumbled smooth

I may hear the softest knock at the door and recognize Her through the peephole.

We will share tea!

I will neither fear Her departure nor pray for Her to remain.

We will share tea.

Just that.