Winter

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untitled, 2000, m/m
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I woke to white.

My astoundingly adept and count-on-able care taker called in sick for the second day.

I had jettisoned myself over to the nearby mall for food yesterday which was good.

Today feels like slightly ‘pilly’ cashmere.

Six out of seven days I am blessed with the benign and welcome tiny knock on my door announcing Roseanne’s appearance

To shop or clean or wash linens for me.

These tasks have passed insidiously from my capable and eager hands to hers.

I just let her have them…grateful and like today rather surprised I am not able.

My dream last night was adventurous, complicated and ambulatory.

Then that reality opened into this one..

I have no caffeine in the house!!

This reality sucks!

No, really Cathy… get a grip. There is white loveliness out there! Bundled people playing on the street. Echos of squealing children testing outdoor voices.

My girlfriend brings me deep, rich, fragrant tea from Starbucks!!!!

Remind me when I doubt miracles exist.

Beyond Comfort

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detail of painting on wool flannel
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Waking this morning I looked at my basket of supplements neatly concealed by a white linen cover laid atop the too many bottles in a Shabby Chic kind of way.

OMG.

Can I actually open my mouth one more time and throw down my gullet all these supportive measures supposedly keeping me functional?

Then there’s the insidious creeping of neurological dysfunction into my left side which has been my “good” side

And this scares me.

My butt has met my wheelchair seat too long now and has lost that lovely fleshy insulation I used to hate.

How times change; I want my butt back, Goddammit!

What is left of me after all the “I don’t want to’s” and questions like: “Where is the old, lighter, funner, muscular, spontaneous adventurer, bigger-bottomed Cath?”

With the going there is a coming…

The thing arriving I might describe as more of a transparent presence.

There is a girl in here far beyond the tears shed from not making it to the bathroom in time.

She’s the one who is curious about how her shadow-side has informed her life. The woman who rises to clear her tears and change her pants and re-apply lipstick before re-entering the world a bit more humble and lighter for having laid down some of the pretense of being so together so much of the time.

I rise.

Antidote

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painted silk
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I watched the Academy Awards last night.

It is for me what they call a “hate watch” these days.

I hate that I want to watch it but I do it anyway.

FASHION! VACUITY! UNCIVILIZED BEHAVIOR!

I think I watch it from the artist’s standpoint

But really.. I am just your average voyeur.

Judging mercilessly is condoned on this eve and who would say no to that opportunity?

Certainly not moi.

In the midst of witnessing rabid and open-mouthed gum chewing by nominees

There were moments in which intelligence and heart pierced through the fog of our selfie-driven culture rave.

I wake the next morning with a hangover from partaking in this event.

The stillness I felt seeing the glorious beading on that green sheath she wore so elegantly

Wasn’t enough to buffer all the heat-seeking energy of my fellow humans (and let’s not forget my own….).

I found this as an antidote.

Making My Bed

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painted wool flannel
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I took myself out for lunch the other day.

Rolled to a fave place with my notebook in hand.

Needed to be IN humanity but not OF it.

Ordered a glass of wine mid-day. Never really do this but I needed to get fuzzy.

The world felt too taut.

My lunch arrived and I had a question on my mind: WHAT IS MISSING IN MY LIFE?

In my artist days I’d sit in cafes and somehow, the atmosphere of being surrounded by people helped me float down into less of a “thinking” mode and interesting directions would make themselves available.

On this day I made a list of things I felt were missing in my life. There were 8.

They came fast and urgently. Unbidden really. Just right there.

The last one made me hold my breath:

#8- Forgive my ex-husband.

Now..I have been working hard on forgiveness in the past few years but I didn’t even look in this direction.

He pissed me off for so many reasons..

Evidence of his horribleness was everywhere when I looked.

Gathering evidence and making a case FEELS SO GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OMG…It feels so damn good.

How can I forgive a manipulation like pulling out a pre-nup the night before we wed??? I mean, RIGHT?.

Oh yes, my friends…I was very, very right.

The thing is that I married him with my eyes closed. Now, I’m no dummy. I closed them because he represented security, cache in how my family saw me and how I saw myself as he was president of a publishing company, had all the “stuff” of a pretty life, handsome, we traveled (as much as we could in the 6 months we were together before he asked me to marry him).

I remember the numbing mind-fuck I did to myself as he asked for my hand.

Pathetic unconsciousness stemming from a lifetime of self doubt about my own worthiness;

“You want to marry me? WELL- SURE!!! Someone WANTS ME THIS MUCH!!! Nice ring, BTW..”

And there I was- entering into 4 years of “serve- your- man”…

Not one thing about the failure of our marriage was about HIM. NOT ONE THING.

He was actually a good and generous man.

I must forgive myself for needing what looked like love so desperately.

And I do.

A very, very different kind of “I DO.”

Will vs. Prayer

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detail of painted wool
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I always hesitate writing about anything that smacks of religion like God or prayer. I don’t wish to offend so please know that words such as Nature, All That Is, Creativity, Love, the ineffable which we recognize is larger than us yet includes us are all experiences of the same thing in my mind and heart.

My spiritual life is what I trust, rely on and learn from. That said- as you know I have been working really hard to find a dog as a companion.

Most often, if I set a clear intention and it doesn’t come from a “grabby” place; if I do the work required to let the universe know I am serious about the thing

I can count on a response in due time.

Sometimes not exactly what I desire but a response none-the-less.

I realized that after months of friends helping me search breeders, writing letters to local shelters, assistance dog places, leaving phone messages galore and getting NOT ONE RESPONSE

That something was very off.

I realized I had forgotten to enlist the help of God.

I totally forgot to pray.

This vital step gets forgotten too often because my connection to Spirit has been a count-on-able connection since I can remember. I take it for granted. My long career as an artist depends on my ability to naturally drop into the Void; that place which holds all possibility.

In my dog search there has been only DOING.

Doing and acting and working.

Now, I have said my prayer:


Dear God,
I really need your help.
I am too lonely without a soulful furry being to live with and care for.
These are my needs:……………..
If it is for the highest good can you help us find one another somehow?
Thanks for listening.
Love,
Cathy

So- as of two days ago I am taking my hands off the steering wheel.

There are great, sweaty gripping marks I left there.

I heave a sigh of relief and walk away feeling all the room in the world for the appearance of my buddy. Or not- as the case may be.

Radical Inclusion

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monoprint, 22×30
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NO EMOTION IS A MISTAKE

“Awakening is not about deleting or transcending human emotions, for how would the ocean transcend a single wave, and how would the sun transcend one of its beloved sunbeams? It’s about seeing that every emotion – from joy to despair, bliss to boredom, agony to ecstasy – is only a movement of life energy, actually a movement of yourself, a wave in your vastness. No emotion is a threat, an enemy, or a punishment. Every emotion is an invitation to remember your vastness, rest in your oceanic nature. You are on a pathless path of radical inclusion, friend, and there are no mistakes here.”

– Jeff Foster

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Walkin’ Down the Road

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“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”

-Helen Keller

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Dog Love

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About 6 months ago I realized that my precious chihuahua, Livvy, had become so protective of me that she would bark incessantly at any who entered our home as well as dogs and people she didn’t jive with. Biting had begun to be an issue as well and my stress level crossed over into emergency blinking red while my nervous system tried so hard to save us all.

I was chastising myself for being unable to soothe her by being a proper alpha pack leader. This little being was my healer and worked SO hard to have me be ok; crawling up on my chest when my tears flowed to lick away every darn last one of them.. I was living on sacred ground with her as far as I was concerned.

I realized that my life was becoming dangerously narrow as I steered away from any and all contact with people we’d meet on our rolls around town for fear of her reaction. After much work with dog trainers resulting in frustration that my body was unable to perform the training prescribed, I realized I needed to find a new home for my beloved.

Turns out no rescue organization was willing to take her because of the aggressiveness she displayed.

At the end of hope I made the decision to put Livvy down. I don’t have to tell you that my guts were lying there on the floor at this decision.

A MIRACLE!!!!!!

My girlfriend Adele (Livvy adores her) stepped in and eventually found a FABULOUS home, rather spa, for my beloved with a boyfriend chihuahua, big yard, humans home all the time, dog door and frequent trips to Home Depot and the dump.

Adele’s gift to me of securing a great life for my friend was the greatest gift I have ever received.

Cut to today: I have become far too lonely without a significant other to ride shotgun. Weirdly not ok. I began searching for a dog with a friend’s help 2 months ago. We looked into breeds appropriate for me and came up with CAVAPOO (mix of Cavalier spaniel no bark, Poodle, smart and friendly and no shed).

NOT ONE of the breeders we contacted returned our many calls…

Assistance dogs are big dogs and I need small. The wait is over a year as well.

My best bet is a correctional facility where the women inmates are hooked up with a rescue dog and training involves a 24/7 relationship between dog and inmate. Training for specific needs is possible and the cost for a trained dog is 280.- 500. I feel good about supporting this program but again, this may prove a dead end.

Dogs and disability.. I have faith my dog will make it’s way to me. Clearly, too much WILL on my part is not the ticket. Pulling my wanting, wanting, wanting back I am now resting in the knowledge that when the time is right my need and desire will be met.

Suggestions appreciated!

Qualities for Cathy’s new dog:

soulful
uber friendly
minimal barking
easily trained
close to 10 lb.
short hair

Save Me From Myself

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“My bad thoughts make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.”

– another Anne Lamott quote keeping everything in perspective

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Every Moment

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“WHITE SANDS”. ea. piece = 11x11x4″
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“EVERY MOMENT ENDS INSTANTLY. BECOMES PAST, YOU KNOW?”
-source unknown

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Birthdays are good for checking in with ones’ self; Am I who I want to be? If not – how do I get there? Do I ask for help? Who, then?

In my own case, at 60 I am asking different questions: So Cath.. you’ve been around awhile now. Not much to really WANT anymore..been there, done that. Soooo…what shall the next energetic pushes be about?

Well- my two mantra words for this next chapter are: CONNECTION and FUN.

Generally speaking I am not ok if not connected; people, self, nature, animals, God, creativity.

Isolation and collapse do not serve me well though remaining connected to my Self demands knowing when to retreat in a healthy way.

Fun? well- this is my work in progress..

Either way, the shadow must be invited to the party and at least have a seat at the table or nothing is REAL and REAL is what is fun for me. Maybe it doesn’t get a piece of cake but it gets a a seat none-the-less.

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Being Glad For Being

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My friend Nymphe and me
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Beings being glad….click here

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“The Ducks are Bad Ducks…”

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by Anne Lamott

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“Nearly twenty years ago, I arrived at a fancy writer’s conference, in what were some of America’s most majestic mountains, where I was looking forward to meeting a great (and sexy) American director, who’d given a lecture the day before. But he had already left.

There was, however, a letter from him, to me: to not-all-that-well-known me. It began well enough, with praise for Bird by Bird, and gratitude for how many times it had inspired him when he got stuck while writing screenplays. He singled out my insistence on trying to seek and tell the truth, whether in memoir or fiction, and my belief that experiencing grief and fear were the way home. The way to an awakening. That God is the Really Real, as the ancient Greeks believed. And God is Love. That tears were not to be suppressed, but would, if expressed, heal us, cleanse up, baptize us, help us water the seeds of new life that were in the ground at our feet.

Coming from a world famous director, it felt like the New York Glitterati was stamping it’s FDA seal of approval on me, and my work.

Unfortunately, the letter continued.

He wrote that while he had looked forward to meeting me, he’d gathered from reading my work that many of my closest friends and family members seemed to have met with traumatic life situations, and sometimes early deaths. So basically, he was getting out of Dodge before I got my tragedy juju all over him, too.

I felt mortified, exposed. He made it seem like I was a sorrow-mongerer, that instead of being present for family and friends who had cancer or sick kids or great losses, I was chasing them down.

And I flushed in that full body Niacin-flush way of toxic shame, at being put down by a man of power, that had been both the earliest, and now most recent, experiences of soul-death throughout my life.

My clingy child was drawing beside me, What did I do? You can’t use your child as a fix, like a junkie. That’s abuse; plus it won’t work.

Well, duh–I fell apart, on the inside, like a two dollar watch.

I had stopped drinking nearly 15 years before, stopped the bulimia 14 years earlier, and so did not have many reliable ways to stuff feelings back down. Also, horribly, my young child, two thousand miles from home, upon noticing my pain, clung even more tightly. I wanted to shout at him, “Don’t you have any other friends?”

What I did was the only thing that has ever worked. After finding a safe and stable person to draw with my son, I called someone and told her all my terrible fears and feelings and projections and secrets.

It was my mentor, Horrible Bonnie.

She listens.

She believes that we are here to become profoundly real, and therefore, free. But horribly–hence her name–she insists that if we want to be free, we have to let every body be free. I hate and resent this so much. It means we have to let the people in our families and galaxies be free to be asshats, if that is how they choose to live.

This however, does not mean we have to have lunch with them. Or go on vacation with them again. But we do have to let them be free.

She also knows, and said that day, that Real can be a nightmare in this world that is so false. The pain and exhaustion of becoming real can land you in the an abyss. And abysses are definitely abysmal; dark nights of the soul; the bottom an addict hits.

And this, she said, was just a new bottom, around people-pleasing, and the craving for powerful fancy people to approve of me. It was a bottom around my psycho doing-ness, my achieving-ness.

She said that because I felt traumatized, and that there had been so much trauma in my childhood, and so many losses in the ensuing years, that the future looked like trauma to me.

But it wasn’t the truth!

There was a long silence. (Again: she listens.)

Finally, I said in this tiny child’s voice, “It isn’t?”

Oh, no, she said. The future, as with every bottom I have landed at, and been walked through, would bring great spiritual increase.

She said I had as much joy and laughter and presence as anyone she knew and some of this had to do with the bottoms I’d experienced, the dark nights of the soul that god and my pit crew had accompanied me through. The alcoholism, scary men, etc.

She said that what I thought the director had revealed was that I am kind of pathetic, but actually what I was getting to see, with her, and later, when I picked up my luscious clingy child, in the most gorgeous mountains on earth, was that I was a ral person of huge heart, laughter, feelings and truth. And his was the greatest gift of all.

The blessing was that again and again, over the years, we got to completely change the script. Thank God. We got to re-invent ourselves, again.

But where do we even start with such terrible days and revelations? She said I’d started when I picked up the 300-pound phone, told someone the truth, felt my terrible feelings. Now, time for radical self care. A shower, some food, the blouse I felt prettiest in. Then I could go get my boy and we could explore the mountain streams.

Wow. We think when we finally get our ducks in a row, we’ve arrived. Now we’ll be happy! That’s what they taught us, and what we’ve sought. But the ducks are bad ducks, and do not agree to stay in a row, and they waddle off quacking, and one keels over, two males get in a fight, and babies are born. Where does that leave your nice row?

I got about five books out of the insights I gleaned from our talk. I still have a sort-of heart shaped rock my son fished out of a stream later. Sadly, this director’s movies have not done well in the last twenty years. Not a one. And all of his hair has since fallen out. Now, as a Christian, my first response to this is, “Hah hah hah.”

But Horrible Bonnie would say, Now you get to tell it, because then it will become medicine. Tell it, girl– that we evolve; that life is stunning, wild, gorgeous, weird, brutal, hilarious and full of grace. That our parents were a bit insane, and that healing from this is taking a little bit longer than we had hoped. Tell it. Well…okay. Yes.”

Trading Up

CHRISTMAS
“RED”, 6′ x 45″,m/m
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When I turned 50 years old 10 years ago I did not feel the angst or intrepid egg shell avoidance that many women feel facing that particular marker.

I felt free.

Old enough to enter into the divine phase of life of not caring so much about others opinions.

Easing into my 60th birthday I sense I got into a FORD PINTO (albeit with a fabulous paint job) at 50 and at 60 I just put the down payment on a FERRARI.

So often I have spoken about the luxury, gift, privilege inherent in a life lived in partnership with chronic illness; that of TIME.

The nuances in life which travel under the radar for most

Affect me deeply.

Today, I realized that my primary litmus test allowing me the best chance at a five star day

Is a soft heart.

The physical sensation of a soft heart feels like my armor drops away to reveal a full-being undefended porosity.

I am realistic enough to know a constant diet of this is not the point..

But my Ferrari’s directional light is turned toward a soft heart to be sure.