Largesse of Longing

Aten_scan11
“GO” monoprint, 22×30″ 1993
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I’m a big Joseph Campbell fan. In his book: REFLECTIONS ON THE ART OF LIVING he mentions at the age of 80 he looked back and saw that his life had opened perfectly, chapter by chapter, so that in the end he saw that all his complaints of “shoulda been” were wasted effort. His life was going to do just what it was supposed to do after all.

After a lifetime of holding myself as and hearing from others that I was: ‘too sensitive, not a terribly responsible citizen, depressive, delinquent, lacked linear functionality etc., etc…

I see that my desires, penchants, proclivities were/are all way-showers.

Now- I’ve been looking for Home all my life. I was born in a car just outside the hospital and labeled “impure” because I had the world all over me.

Back then Home meant a nurturing family and a secure place within. Now it means a feeling of indescribable peace.

I’ve done drugs, made bad mistakes looking for adventure, married and within 2 seconds slipped into a servile mess that embarrasses me still.

Looking, looking, looking to connect, love well, be a part of something, have an acceptable identity, wear my ‘normal suit’ to escape the fact I felt utterly lost in the world.

Oh yeah.. I can play a good game but all this time I’ve been looking… looking for Home.

One of the true luxuries of a disabled/chronically ill life is time.

Most people have to go on vacation to get some uninterrupted time but even then one needs extra time to let go into the space available.

I have time. Open, squeaky clean time.

I feel my longings sometimes painfully. I WANT to go adventuring. I WANT to drive. I WANT to wear cowboy boots. I WANT to eat chocolate cake from that restaurant…ad infinitum.

My desire for adventure I now assuage rolling down charming streets and seeing that I used to use driving as an anxiety reducer; more about the motion and desire to get somewhere. Now that my motions are restricted I have a VERY intimate relationship with my world- the thing I always wanted but was going too fast to settle in to. A piece of Home.

My longing for cowboy boots translates into knowledge I must pay attention to- I have a rough-n-ready girl in here who needs attention. Lately I swear a lot. IT FEELS GOOD! It seems to be a fine buffer to me as the fucking good-girl-at-all-costs. I feel free and light and fierce when I swear! I can tell it is helping me get to my authentic voice which, surprisingly is a wee bit nasty..again, I am closer to Home.

The sweetness is obvious. Feeling sated by favorite food is part of Home. That interior atmosphere of no empty places and immense gratitude for the sensation of wanting nothing.

That is my definition of the Home I seek: wanting nothing and resting in that space.

The gift of longing seems to be that each and every one acts as a seductive thread which when cut leaves us with a magnificent wardrobe we never even knew we had.

Long Light

baretree
“BARE TREE” m/m
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Autumn in New Mexico is clear and yellow and purple.

Deep royal blue skies in the daytime and frilly purple asters along the roadside.

My whole system is balking at the turning in life takes around these parts this time of year.

It makes me a bit afraid to re-enter the cold and hibernating urges of leaves and furred things.

I am a furred thing too but I don’t seem to have enough.

Most was lost to evolution and right now I want it back

Because I feel too exposed.

Will I be able to take the extra load of ‘solitary’?

Will I come out the other side?

This question is new to me this year.

The most nurturing nesting place I know is the deep drop into my own creativity..my contemplative Self.

My musing, my writing, my conversations can become an alchemical thrill if I turn from distractions like “What if?”

“NO!” I say.

I will burn all past and future thinking in the white heat of my fireplace.

In my furry robe I only wear when alone I will sit sipping wine, making up stories from the shapes I see in the lapping flames.

I have a whole life in front of me;

Lit by the long light.

Bring on the snow…..

Antidote To Everything That Needs One

walking
detail of painting
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Nothing I could add would ever improve on this except to say the gift of space seems to heal me these days:

click here.

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Fall Fashion

steve
hand-painted silk robes, 1987
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My sister, we’ll call her Generous Jennifer, has gifted me THE NEW YORK TIMES digital version.

Today is a momentous one for we damsels who give a damn about how we look. The annual “T” magazine, devoted to women’s fall fashion IS HERE!

I opened it up in heightened anticipatory mode this morning.

Looking through, languishing on pages showing the wild, weird and oh-so-wonderful concoctions of fabric, make-up, hair and the coveted shoe.

My personal fashion is lean of necessity; a uniform of 1 pair of shoes that fit over my brace, 5 shirts which are stretchy enough to make the sleeves accessible and tunic length, 2 pair of pants w/ waistband easy for 1 arm pull-up, wide enough for brace application and long enough to look ok in my wheelchair.

Anything I acquire must be thought through ad infinitum and still make me feel beautiful wearing it. This is a new kind of shopping, I tell you.

Things are about to get markedly more complicated as I have decided to have a supra-pubic catheter installed in my precious lower abdomen. A common symptom of MS is incontinence and with the decline of musculature in that area my bladder cannot empty fully on its own causing MANY bladder infections for which I must take antibiotics.

With years of attention on my bladder dysfunction I am ready to throw in the towel and let a cute doctor cut a hole in me.

The addition of this small tube extending from just above my pubic bone and draining into a lovely, plastic-y accessory bound to my leg will alleviate a gargantuan amount of stress.

Can I love myself through this seeming horror of a thing?

It is a turning point in my progression and a ‘big death’ instead of the little ones I deal with.

I could wail in the embarrassment of the thing and whine at the fact my pants now will need more width.

But, by jove! Wide leg trousers are all the rage this year!

I saw it in the New York Times.

ps.. more on this later. This is all new so could only scratch the surface for today. xxx

Rollin’

_MG_1333
_MG_1773_MG_1853
installation, ceramic

16_Renissance
“RENAISSANCE”, installed at SFe Convention Center, 10’x3′
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This weekend brings a tsunami of out-of-towners to Santa Fe in search of Native American treasures at INDIAN MARKET.

The town literally doubles in size with over 100,000 visitors.

I have a hard time with the frenetic vibe of so many people milling around so today I decided to go down to the plaza while peace still reigned.

SUCH a gorgeous day, my ferality nowhere to be found, Livvy and I stopped in a tiny glade of flowers.

A statue of St. Francis of Assisi stood there in the center talking to a gopher.

I just started up my own conversation with him: (Yeah..I am known to be heard speaking out loud to what seems like no one..weird wheelchair-lady)

“Hi, St. Francis. I probably could have sculpted a more favorable likeness. You look kind of angular instead of soft. Oh well…still glad you are here. You must have had a great life cavorting with creatures. You’ve got some prime real estate to rest in. I’m glad you are here.”

Then we rolled on.

A cute cop on a bike went past saying “Pretty.”

Some Texans getting out of a behemoth SUV say: “You got a look there, girl.”

Livvy gets wiggly and seems to have endless supplies of pee and I can relate.

We go visit my sculpture installed at the convention center and find that weeds (nice looking ones) are crawling up the sides. It looks so great.

I adore my town. It is tolerant, gorgeous in all of 4 seasons, not completely white bread and has never failed me in the nurturing department.

Everything about this place suits me and I am grateful for finding home.

Feral

dance

I have come to the conclusion that these days I have more in common with some feisty and feral creature than I do with the humanity I have moved within previously.

Really, I am not an upstanding member of society at the moment (pun intended).

I make plans. Cancel.

Look forward to an excursion to the movie theater. Too hot that day. Cancel. Then- never feel quite good enough to entertain the idea again. Feel bad about that.

Occasionally I will inadvertently eat something that my body is highly sensitive to and be reduced to utter lethargy in bed for the whole day until the culprit makes its way out of my system. I pull the covers over my head and let TV numb me.

Sometimes I hate who I have become..

Other times I relish the unfamiliar feeling of setting boundaries for myself.

Since this is a fairly new practice for me I tend toward ineptness.

Sometimes I feel mean, ornery, feral.

I used to have this idea that the way to get along in the world is to live one long YYYYYYEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS;
Saying yes insures we are connected, gives us an identity of being agreeable and available.

“Yes, I will meet you after I work a full day.” “Yes, I will call you” (even after a rugged conversation has taken place with a co-worker you could never have known would occur when you made the plan).” Yes, I will help you move” even though my back is healing from something-or-other. “Yes! I’ll do that for you.”

Yes, tell me your stories, hurts, successes…I am here for you! I am scared about an upcoming procedure and feel very private about it but PLEASE tell me what is important to you. I’ll handle my stuff later.

“OH! such-an-such is on the other line! Let me just get this and I’ll be right back!.”

When I say “no” or “raincheck?” or “I can’t spend more than an hour with you”, or don’t answer my phone or “Sorry- I can only do one thing per day and I know it has been months since we’ve been together” I often feel more “crippled” than at any other time.

How weird is that?

The thing is that after a lifetime of saying “YES” I am sort of getting into saying “NO”.

This is me today. Right now I can be unpracticed at saying no.

The thing is that I MUST DO THIS OR I WILL PERISH.

There is no doing it halfway for me.

A deep bow to those in my life who give me all the room I need to make all the shifts I need to make.

I love you for these allowances.

For me- space is the gold standard of gifts these days.

What I’ve Learned

clan1

A friend sent me this great little piece from a recent ESQUIRE magazine written by Jim Harrison who penned LEGENDS OF THE FALL in 9 days, by god.

WHAT HAVE I LEARNED?”, I asked myself.

I can fit 27 green grapes in my mouth at the same time. You’d be surprised how often this tidbit has slid into conversation which says something about me I don’t think I’ll ponder further.

I think God gave me exactly what I needed (MS) to kick the shit out of my ego and need to please everyone. Now, I can’t and don’t not because I realized it was an insane pursuit but because I haven’t the energy. I’ve been humbled, broken, have died and am currently resurrecting myself. Weirdly, I am not sorry about one speck of the grit of my journey if it got me here.

I love my dog more purely and deeply than I have loved any human. She has this uncanny way of mirroring me; I need a lot of personal space and so does she. She feels energy acutely and almost painfully and so do I. Someone caged her and disallowed her spirit to roam freely. I can relate. Most people find her difficult but I know her as complicated and asking to be figured out.

The right color lipstick can fix most anything.

CAPTAIN CRUNCH cereal did the trick to help me quit smoking. I’ve never actually lost all desire to smoke but I quit when I was a freshman in college. I did it by eating CAPTAIN CRUNCH for a full summer. I weighed 170 and wore tent dresses. I still have oral compulsions but weigh far less these days. I enjoy smelling a cigar now and then.

Independence is overrated but it’s hard to know this till we aren’t.

If you let someone who is angry or has weird energy prepare your food and you feel like shit afterwards, learn your lesson.

The road to enlightenment is pretty damn dark 98% of the time. The only flashlight that works is finding and telling the truth.

When I stop being curious about life, I’m done.

A relationship that is not mutually beneficial needs re-thinking.

The most crucial skill to ensure a good life is the ability to get to THE WELL. Meaning- when everything is totally fucked up how do you re-center yourself, change your perspective so the pieces fall into familiar places again? For me, in the past this has meant doing solo drives to special places, create something, give something to someone that lifts them, pet my dog. Sometimes it has meant a good dollop of vodka.

I actually know absolutely nothing for sure and I think this makes for a fine personal recommendation.

Do It Till You Do It

super1
hand-painted silk, 1987
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I’m da MAN! Ya!… click here

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The River

AAA


I WENT TO THE RIVER

Today I went to the river
That rolls by the church.
Diminutive in size,
It’s power is always a shock
After a truly long and weighty rain.

I went this morning
To mix my tears
Into the slow and steady creep
The river chose as her outfit
For today’s particular display.

Under the beleaguered bridge
Are fat navy blue letters
Left by some stringy-haired kid
Wanting to say something
We won’t hear.

The violent and gushing rains of last week
Left my river swollen.
The young willows on the fringe
Are now plastered into the flood banks.
The water had risen alarmingly fast and far.

My tears seemed to come up
Out of nothing
And then they were gone.
Maybe some generalized malaise
We, earth inhabitants now forever run in our veins.

There- the church bells finally sounding
And my dog rolling
To get close to some exotic scent.
I was so jealous of her find.
That dirt she wiggled in held treasure.

I felt satisfyingly small
There on the muddy bank.
“The river is bigger than me!” I thought.
Whether rolling or a raucous display
That river-girl is bigger than me.

I left that place
Having given the easy flow a bit more
Of the wetness we both know well.
I rolled home wearing that river’s solace
In the gift of an earthen and watery scent she offered me..

-CA 2014

Funny Man

liv chair

People in my inner circle still seem to get very worried when they read my words describing darkened times in my walk/roll-of-life.

I believe if I have any gift to share it might be said I hold the opposites as Carl Jung taught. I not only hold them as we all do but for some reason I can speak of them in an honest and vulnerable way.

These opposites I speak of are interesting to me. I can feel rage and touch it and be fully expectant on the other side will be a door labeled “FREEDOM”.

“Freedom” meaning the perk that comes from facing a thing and staring it down until it shrivels and instead of dragging a bowling ball around there is a crumpled paper attached there instead (for we never quite rid ourselves of all our monsters). They just become more manageable.

With depression things are quite different.

That door that saves us, puts stuff in perspective for us just isn’t findable.

In my own experience depression can take you down and leave you there to rot.

Quite different than sadness depression has an elephantine weight that prevents clear breathing, vision and rational thinking is nowhere to be found.

Genius seems to often be partnered up with depression. Who of us can say we’d be able to be a container for the kind of ready and high-voltage access to genius that Robin Williams anchored for us?

Maybe it wasn’t a death too early but a body just saying: “Enough. Enough. I gave and gave and can’t find the giving place anymore.”

The shelf life for genius is decidedly shorter with very good reason. It feels so good we want it to go on and on and on………… We sort of expect it to go on because Robin felt like OURS! And we want what we want.

Rest now, dear Robin. You lit up this place like a thousand roman candles and because of you we were lifted. Rest now.

Control

lowe
“LOWE INSTALLATION”- photo credit Herb Lotz
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My fabulous sister was here the past few days. We had a really easy, fun time together.

We visited a bug museum and ate (not bugs..), talked, mused, languished, rolled around town and did a lot of nothing. I felt entirely nourished on all levels.

I was tired when she left. Tired from nothing other than what felt like doing a lot of nothing.

The installation pictured above was a favorite of mine from my old life. Each of the three pieces was very labor intensive to create. The surfaces are covered with earth that had to be gathered from miles away down canyons and carried out. The tiny ceramic pieces dotting the work were individually shaped, smoke fired and attached to a nail which was set individually in hundreds of drilled holes. The frames were sculpted to fit the curved plaster walls.

My hands, mind, muscles, finances, spirit used to each be up to tasks such as this.

Now I lack the muscle control and general juju essential for even an afternoon of much of anything.

A family visit serves as a touchstone for a reality check for me.

Visits happen infrequently enough that I can’t sidestep the facts of my decline.

I am feeling sad in my bones today and missing the uber-dexterity of each and every tiny muscle of my hands which created the work you see here.

Yes, these days I am doing other work. I use different muscles like heart, psychic, emotional, spiritual.

I am still privy to the lovely exhaustion following satisfying work.

But not today.

Today I miss thinking I had all the control in the world.

But of course this is a seductive curve ball which has to, in the end, take the great fall.

One Tree

felingbetter

Trees have always been important to me.

They hide, heal, serve as guide posts, are good to have conversations with, remind us that it’s never over till it’s over.

By that I mean about this time of year I sense their preparation to withdraw; leaves take on a certain grey cast, the incessant push and drive slows and keeps slowing.

I keep wondering if I’ll make it through another winter. Then I do.

I remember one photograph of me taken by my father when I was an excruciatingly awkward, buck-toothed girl of 13 or 14.

I stood there in my best orange ill-fitting smock dress from India that was all the rage. It had that weird head-shop smell of patchouli oil. It was a bad orange.

Behind me bloomed a riotous pink crabapple tree.

I saved that photo because it represents something important to me. I look there and see that immense awkwardness I felt as ‘not good enough’ before my father’s very particular and pointy eye behind his camera. He wasn’t present much so we all had to get it right in the time we had. In the photo you can see I knew I wasn’t gonna cut it.

Along with that visceral tremor I experience revisiting this iconic image I see the perfection and absolute ease of the blooming tree.

That juxtaposition really served me to do what I had to do to get to where that tree was.

It was my teacher, my guru, my way-shower.

And here I am.

With gratitude to that tree.

Salve For Uncertain Times

creation1
“FINE LINE” 11x11x4″, m/m
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“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”

— Walt Whitman, from the preface of Leaves of Grass.