Gimme That Creme Brulee

matches2
matches, earth, 24×24″ 2006
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–by Anne Lamott

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Many mornings I check out the news as soon as I wake up, because if it turns out that the world is coming to an end that day, I am going to eat the frosting off an entire carrot cake; just for a start. Then I will move onto vats of clam dip, pots of crime brûlée, nachos, M & M’s etc. Then I will max out both my credit cards.

I used to think that if the world–or I–were coming to an end, I’d start smoking again, and maybe have a cool refreshing pitcher of lime Rickeys. But that’s going too far, because if the world or I was saved at the last minute, I’d be back in the old familiar nightmare. In 1986, grace swooped down like a mighty mud hen, and fished me out of that canal. I got the big prize. I can’t risk losing it.

But creme brûlée, nachos, maybe the random Buche Noel? Now you’re talking.

The last two weeks have been about as grim and hopeless as any of us can remember, and yet, I have not gotten out the lobster bib and fork. The drunken Russian separatists in Ukraine with their refrigerated train cars? I mean, come on. Vonnegut could not have thought this up. Dead children children on beaches, and markets, at play, in the holy land?? Stop.

The two hour execution in festive Arizona? Dear God.

And let’s not bog down on the stuff that was already true, before Ukraine, Gaza, Arizona, like the heartbreaking scenes of young refugees at our border, the locals with their pitchforks. The people in ruins in our own families. Or the tiny problem that we have essentially destroyed the earth–I know, pick pick pick.

Hasn’t your mind just been blown lately, even if you try not to watch the news? Does it surprise you that a pretty girl’s mind turns to thoughts of entire carrot cakes, and credit cards?

My friend said recently, “It’s all just too Lifey. No wonder we all love TV.” Her 16 year old kid has a brain tumor. “Hey, that’s just great, God. Thanks a lot. This really works for me.”

My brother’s brand new wife has tumors of the everything. “Fabulous, God. Loving your will, Dude.”

My dog Lily’s ear drum burst recently, for no apparent reason, with blood splatter on the walls on the entire house–on my sleeping grandson’s pillow. Do you think I am well enough for that?
Let me go ahead and answer. I’m not. It was CSI around here; me with my bad nerves. And it burst again last night.

Crazy!

Did someone here get the latest updated owner’s manual? Were they handed out two weeks ago when I was getting root canal, and was kind of self-obsessed and out of it? The day before my dog’s ear drum first burst? If so, is there is an index, and if so, could you look up Totally Fucking Overwhelm?

I have long since weeded out people who might respond to my condition by saying cheerfully, “God’s got a perfect plan.” Really? Thank you! How fun.

There is no one left in my circle who would dare say, brightly, “Let Go and Let God,” because they know I would come after them with a fork.

It’s not that I don’t trust God or grace or good orderly direction anymore. I do, more than ever. I trust in divine intelligence, in love energy, more than ever, no matter what things look like, or how long they take. It’s just that right now cute little platitudes are not helpful.

I’m not depressed. I’m overwhelmed by It All. I don’t think I’m a drag. I kind of know what to do. I know that if I want to have loving feelings, I need to do loving things. It begins by putting your own oxygen mask on first: I try to keep the patient comfortable. I do the next right thing: left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe. I think Jesus had a handle on times like these: get thirsty people water. Feed the hungry. Try not to kill anyone today. Pick up some litter in your neighborhood. Lie with your old dog under the bed and tell her what a good job she is doing with the ruptured ear drum.

I try to quiet the drunken Russian separatists of my own mind, with their good ideas. I pray. I meditate. I rest, as a spiritual act. I spring for organic cherries. I return phone calls.

I remember the poor. I remember an image of Koko the sign-language gorilla, with the caption, “Law of the American Jungle: remain calm. Share your bananas.” I remember Hushpuppy at the end of Beasts of the Southern Wild, just trying to take some food home to her daddy Wink, finally turning to face the hideous beast on the bridge, facing it down and saying, “I take care care of my own.”

I take care of my own. You are my own, and I am yours–I think this is what God is saying, or trying to, over the din. We are each other’s. Thee are many forms of thirst, many kinds of water.

Little Ditty

me
detail of ceramic sculpture, 2003
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“I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.”

– Mary Oliver

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I sing to my dog.

I sing because I live alone.

Shame be damned, I SING!

My singing is just a shorter, more potent bridge to her than even petting or playing..

I see this is true because her whole being listens to my nonsensicality and her eyes begin to glisten as the lids get heavy in a hypnotic way.

My heart slows. Her heart slows.

Singing allows insta-communion between us.

She doesn’t know I’m just making up the love song on the spot.

My intent is perfectly clear- showering love.

I give her what I spent a lifetime searching out. Too tired now to put my boots to the ground I do what I can;

My dog, my body, that tree, rock, dragonfly, friend..

Each are privy to the imperfection of my devotion.

I see now that it is RIGHT THERE IN THE IMPERFECTION- that is the nectar God seems to love best.

What a relief ’cause it’s all I got…..

Ready

politics
hand-painted terry robe, 1986
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“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There’s almost no such thing as ready. There’s only now. And you may as well do it now. ”

-Hugh Laurie – actor

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I had lunch yesterday with a friend I had not seen in over 10 years. She is in partnership with MS too.

She is a shining, radiant gorgeous being in every way.

I watched her struggling with a cane for balance and it literally hurt my heart.

This brought back memories for me of pre-walker and pre-wheelchair days.

My identity as a walking woman was carved in stone and nobody was gonna tell me different.

Adding more hardware to my accessories list was not an option in my mind. “HOSPITAL” equipment is SO ugly…just searingly ugly.

And besides that I would cross the line into “THOSE SICK PEOPLE” instead of being one and trying to pass for something else.

In my experience, perhaps the hardest obstacle needing to be met in the disability world is melting the identities we cherish and reforming ourselves into someone else entirely.

When a therapist told me years ago as I was entering ‘walker-land’ and having major issues about it: “Cathy, do you deserve support?”

Well- pathetically, I had to think about it for a moment but my answer arose as a quiet “YES.”

That “YES” has become louder and more ready over time as I see all this hardware/therapy etc.. making my life so much less stressful.

And so it goes- as new and unfamiliar obstacles arrive for me to deal with I go back to that question I was once asked and try to soften into the next little death of ‘the Cathy-that-was” and try to be fascinated by ‘the Cathy -that-is.’

The Seduction of Magical Thinking

loss
untitled 3’x5′ m/m 1994
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Positive thinking, law of attraction teachings, science of mind, visualizations etc are often not enough to get us into the integrated space to receive and create from a place of deep wholeness.
It is through feeling, releasing and getting comfortable with the entire spectrum of our emotions that we can truly and deeply create an authentic and abundant life. For too long, many people have been attempting to get to the other side of the rainbow through a spiritual by pass, which attempts to deny, minimize or suppress the emotional body.
Only problem with this is that while it may allow certain kinds of manifestations to occur, it does not lead to deep peace or true holistic abundance.
We deserve our wholeness. Mind, body, feelings and soul. When they are all valued and embraced, we can truly create any life that we desire.

via: FRACTAL ENLIGHTENMENT.com

Eyes

face

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I have written before about how I have a strange penchant for deliberately looking in to the mirror to study the quality of my eyes in the moment.

The process of becoming authentic has meant leaving the ‘faker’ Cath behind.

But first I have to catch her!

After all these years of doing this I see the veils or armor or grey notes that appear to camouflage my true self.

I want to let myself be seen honestly but this is impossible if people have to work too hard wading through pretense or posing.

Because I have the luxury of time I take this information into my day and finagle around my psyche until some shift occurs and then I check again.

I am after clarity and the raw honey of truth something like this:

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Letter to God

hospital
ceramic, 1992? approx. 4×3″
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Dear God,

I am frickin’ tired of character building. Let’s have a break, ok? Honestly- Can’t you find someone else to work with for a bit?
I hesitate sayin’ all this as I do just love the blessings-part you continue to bestow on me and don’t for a second want you to think I am an ingrate but REALLY!

My prayers have been lean and mean of late; “God, you show up now with (strength, optimism, money, a latte, person-who-can-help-with….., resilience enough to deal with……., a good (no GREAT) joke, computer tech support, that new shirt I need to replace the falling apart one, bladder control,

You do it NOW OR ELSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Cathy pauses to pull up her big-girl panties and proceed as an adult).

Really, God- if you will do these things for me (in my best voice-of-supplication) I’ll give you back something really good..I mean REALLY good. Something that you’d really like. What would you like from me?

I suppose it’s more rising from the ashes type stuff.

YUK. You just gotta give me a break here for awhile, God. I love you and all but I need to put my soul in a hammock for a good while.

A hammock, God.. Got it?

Thanks, Amen and all that..”

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A Way In and Through

adobe
detail of painting, m/m, 1995
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from Joseph Campbell-

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“Whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, “This is what I need.” It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment—not discouragement—you will find the strength there. Any disaster you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life. What a privilege!! This is when the spontaneity of your own nature will have a chance to flow. Then, when looking back at your life, you will see that the moments which seemed to be great failures, followed by wreckage, were the incidents that shaped the life you have now. You’ll see this is really true. Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not. The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes.”
~ from A Joseph Campbell Companion (my favorite book)

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I remember seeing Roger Ebert speaking late in his life. His jaw was pretty much gone on one side from cancer and he spoke through a voice synthesizer. I was so taken with his state of being because he had this glowey-thing going on; his eyes radiated an otherworldly radiance similar to what I saw in Christopher Reeve.

I wondered about this..still do.

Where does this shinyness come from? By all rights they, inside all their physical challenge would be the LAST people I’d expect to see this quality in.

I don’t really know the answer but see very minute snippets of this quality looking back at me in the mirror after a good cry when all my defenses are down. “An odd time to see this” I think, and carry on in my life bouncing back and forth on the ping pong table of emotions.

As far as I can tell this inner glow might have it’s genesis in the hardest quality of all: just (ha!) being present and accepting of what IS.

This is beyond hard to do without buffering the experience with periodic explosions through the door of bars, brothels or binging on OREO cookies

But, in the words of my friend in New Zealand: “I’ve pretty much had it with character- building.”

A girl can take only so much.

I AM Your Inspiration

totem

Or not, as the case may be..

I think life is more fun if we can find something in everyone we meet with the capacity to inspire us.

Recently, a few widely touted videos have emerged with the message: Just because I am disabled does not mean I am your inspiration. Admire me for what I DO – not what my body DOESN’T!

There seems to be a ferocious note weaving through these chastisements.

Somehow we are wrong for being inspired by those physically/mentally challenged who have done what it takes to mold a thriving life despite gargantuan obstacles.

Now- I’m not here saying that it is only WE, who are in partnership with MS or ALS or arthritis or amputation or Cerebral Palsy who are the ones who deserve oodles of accolades for making great lives despite the cards we were dealt..

No…

Likely, one of the next 5 people you pass on the street is dealing with some debilitating condition that just happens to be invisible to you.

What I AM saying is that there are some of us worth paying attention to, being conscious of.

The visibly disabled can provide reminders to society at large that capabilities, independence, security, comfort, strength, freedom, autonomy, seemingly perfect lives

Are each and every one fleeting, not count-on-able.

The great take-away is that one can create ones’ self anew and EVEN BETTER

If you’ve got a good (or good enough) attitude

And remain curious about the road less travelled.

It can be ghastly, ok..good or even great.

Usually a combination of each.

Staying present to it all is a herculean task.

The Reach

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“MY HANDS” photo credit- Gay Block
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THE REACH

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What will it be like when I can’t hold you?
A wine glass with leggy and dusky red smoothness
Or, God forbid- my beloved furry and wriggling dog..
Your hand, present and enveloping
My thinning and newly boney artists’ hand?
What if I can’t feel you?

What if I become afraid
And I don’t let YOU feel ME?
That self-imposed aloneness
Coming as the psyche winds down..
Too tired to weave any more threads
Into lush patterns
Hypnotic in their aliveness.

These damp thoughts
Come after sleep too deep
To easily wake from.
I was fathoms down
And the post-rain air
Was the cord I followed up and up-
Back here to You and you.

Life and Death are held
Within the minute shift
From one point-of-view to another.
I am lucky my previously supple hand
Naturally reaches toward
Wriggling dogs and fine wine.
I will lean into you, Life.
Please take my hand
If you don’t mind the stretch.

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– CA

Gently

ten questions
“RAIN” ceramic installation 2008
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“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”

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-Buddha

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Pervert

gettingdressed
painted silk jersey
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Today on our morning roll I passed by a construction site.

To preface this I will say that I am perpetually enchanted by humans building things, driving fun-looking machinery, digging, measuring stuff with pure intent.

I was skirting the site separated only by a chain link fence.

There was a guy standing atop a hill of dirt.

He looked very fine standing there.

He looked straight at me and held the gaze.

I waved in recognition of two people chancing to connect for a nanosecond.

He waved.

He was close enough to me that I could hear him utter something or other..

I also heard his buddies say: “Pervert” (laughing while soaking in their ignorance and ego).

Turning the corner to get home necessitated me passing closer to the group.

I was slightly in shock as I kept my gaze decidedly forward and passed them; all of us silent.

In my periphery vision I could see them standing there following me with their pointy eyes.

It pleased me the last thing they saw were the roses on the back of my chair.

Sometimes we are given little (fucking) gifts like this one to see how we REALLY roll..

Get angry? Depressed? Numb out? Quickly find someone to make wrong so we feel better? Hate all men? Lock in to feeling un-desirable? Complain till the cows come home about the unfairness of it all?

I got to see that my response is this:

1. Shock.
2. Scoot out of body till I got home.
3. Look at myself in the mirror.
4. Feel 10% victim-y.
5. Feel 90% sorry for them.
6. Rest in the fact they had no idea what they were missing.

I think I passed the test.

Next…….

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Groove

abyss
detail from painting on wool flannel
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get your groove on.. click here

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The Creative Process

girl1
“GIRL” ceramic,steel 22×5″ 2000
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THE CREATIVE PROCESS

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1. This is awesome.

2. This is tricky.

3. This is shit.

4. I am shit.

5. This might be OK.

6. This is awesome.

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– credit unknown

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I live with each one of these parts of the creative process and have since I can remember.

I’ve read self-help books, had years of therapy, drank too much wine and still..each part of this process is all too familiar to me.

I read this list and think: “It really shouldn’t be this hard, Cath.”

But it is.

After all these years I know that I feel most myself inside this process of bringing something-or-other to life that was scratching to get here..

This world is my safe place which is funny because it is anything but.

Something I like very much about writing to you here is the immediacy. I write what is there and sometimes I push the “publish” button before I’ve refined things enough.

Then- I live inside #3 which likely turns into #4

Until I coax myself into neutral which takes time and other ritualistic behaviors I won’t mention here.

This is my life.

I take major risks expressing myself.

I do this because I can.

And because I find what moves me, juices me, scares me, embarrasses me, inspires me, changes me, very interesting because I know that it is not just me who experiences all this remarkable territory.

Believe me when I say my family knows more about me through this blog than likely they ever really wanted to know.

But I like being known by them. A lot. Actually only sometimes.

Yeah- I also have shame and other stuff from being known so intimately but if the frozenness we all grew up with is the alternative then I choose my way.

I am fully aware I have built a forum here that allows for messiness (ie: not-absolutely-refined stuff to go live).

I’m more interested in authenticity than anything else these days.

I’m sort of falling in love with my imperfections on some private level because they are true.

Sometimes I get embarrassed that you get to see them.

But we all seem so frozen in our diligent “do-overs-until-we-think-we/it-look-REALLY GOOD or perfect even..”.

I’m interested in what is there before the “do-over”

And let me tell you: THIS IS WAY SCARY!

AND THRILLING!

And sacred,

Sacred,

Sacred ground.

Now..where is that martini?

Freedom, Fun, Fabulousness

moon

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Just beyond great! click on link

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Listening

Olivia-4

“We were listening to how you were listening to us.”

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-Native American to Dr. Jerome Bernstein (Jungian analyst)

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