I Met You With Space

winter
untitled, 40×32, m/m
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It has been a few years since I have seen my brother who came to visit this past weekend from Maine.

He is the youngest and I the eldest.

I felt a bit anxious before his arrival because neither of us is the best communicator with one another and there was so very much I didn’t know.

We also had survived a very challenging few years forced to deal with financial decisions tumbling us both like a lapidary machine.

Inward we both retreated to lick our wounds for years.

Befriending my mortality as I have chosen to do brought to my awareness I missed how my brother and I laughed once upon a time.

Would I ever get to do that with him again?

Had he lost all respect for me because my choices have been different than his?

Would I die without knowing that HE KNOWS how much I love him?

I made a conscious decision to empty our playing field before he arrived; swept myself clean of attitude, opinion, doubt and fear.

Space in my heart is what I would and could offer him as my love present.

He walked through the door..looking so very handsome and light!

He had not experienced me in a wheelchair and I asked him if he felt weird.

“Well…it’s different. I was expecting it though.” I loved his truth-telling which he did the whole time he was here.

We rolled around as I introduced him to my coffee spot, favorite people.

He gamely took Emma’s leash as she was dressed in a leopard winter coat. Now THAT takes some testosterone don’tcha know?

We vowed to not participate in family secrets when possible..he bought me dinners and delivered coffee and wanted only to support me in any way he could.

During our visit my heart and body melted any armoring I had taken on due to inaccurate realities I had concocted

And what was left was pure love.

Pure Love..blood Love..genetic sharing recognition love…Love period.

Just Space and Love.

Space.

The freedom of Space.

The gift of Space to Be.

Space to Be Love.

I love you.

Curiosity Is Innate

chair1
hand-painted upholstered chair
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I’d have to say that my ability to remain curious no matter what is perhaps my greatest medicine.

As an artist I thrived inside the cocoon of privilege allowing infinite room to micro or macro-shift from one thread of mystery and interest to the next.

In my studio alone no one punished or chided me for a stupid or preposterous idea.

Yes, there were great costs generated from this past chosen lifestyle of mine.

The million dollar take away has been the template carved into my soul

For how to find the goodness, inspiration or provocation in each and every moment.

I believe we are each born with the impetus to want to know no matter what.

The first time we hear “NO! Bad girl!” as we test our vocal range or pull that red tablecloth down closer to us on the floor to check out the color and shatter glasses and plates

Or make a painting with our own shit on the wall

We begin a long pilgrimage toward a tidy life.

Most of our energy goes toward controlling everything and everyone so no room is left for authenticity or error or surprise.

We know what we know and we like it.

My retention of the gift of curiosity gives me the space to be surprised at my resilience, moved by strangers’ kindness, find peace in solitude, know my worth for just being, consciously work with my own reactivity as my teacher, greet what I deemed ugly and intolerable with respect and space, find beauty in the ordinary..

My prayer is for us all to re-awaken our innate curiosity for ourselves, our environment and those we share it with and each other.

My Grandmother’s Closet

addendum 2
hand-painted silk, 1987
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My grandmother had a fancy dressing room.

Wall to wall closet, built-in vanity with lots of french-style mirrors, inviting drawers and surface area for potions.

Painted a lovely sage green and carpeted in this soothing color

I crept in there barefoot to sit my young self down in the tufted swivel vanity chair

And take a good, long, private look.

I saw a chubby, acned girl. The distance between that little me and her gowns hanging there in the closet was so great it silenced me on all levels.

So…I opened the golden lipstick tube and proceeded to primp.

I painted, slathered and slipped ever-so-carefully into too many yards of crepe de chine in emerald and scarlet and butter yellow trimmed with gold.

I brushed my mousy hair with sterling hair tools and dabbed perfume behind my pink ears from cut crystal bottles.

Dreaming of dances and be-jeweled darlings dipped by suitors while waltzing

I stood there looking….

Taking a tissue I daintily touched up the corners of my dreaming mouth painted red

And stepped away from the mirror.

I closed my eyes to feel the future kisses and fine stationery as I opened invitations finely calligraphed.

Suddenly smelling hamburgers cooking downstairs

I hurriedly took off the gown, pressed it smooth in the closet to avoid detection and washed my face well.

Running down the stairs to hug my grandmother I knew I had forgotten to delete the strong perfume.

But I didn’t care.

I knew she knew.

She knew so much and loved me still.

Excuse me while I go paint my lips…..

Letting Go- again…

moving
CATERPILLAR, 2004, 12x4x2″,ceramic
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I sold my beautiful car.

A few years ago my sister and brother-in-law gifted me their Honda mini-van as their chicks flew the coop and I desperately needed a vehicle I could outfit with a power wheelchair lift.

This was more than a car to me…more a mobile hug from people that love me.

It kept me free.

For a long time.

One day in a Target parking lot I was attending to putting my chair in the power lift and taking my walker out of the back in order to walk from the back of the car to the drivers seat.

This angular lady in a convertible passed me by and took in the disability theater I was performing and proceeded to give me THE LOOK

Whose subtext was something like: “REALLY??? YOU ARE THIS DISABLED AND YOU ARE STILL DRIVING?? I’M GETTIN’ AWAY FROM YOU FAST.”

Granted this was my subjective interpretation but God speaks in mysterious ways.

The fact is this reaction to me infected my blood had me think long and hard about my driving capabilities.

It was then I chose to stop driving.

Moving from risking my own and other’s lives and remaining what I called “FREE”

To dependancy on my caregiver and friends to cart me around was strangely easy.

Selling my beloved van this week (time lapse about 2 years) was couched in the same ease.

There was no gripping, no tantrum.

Resignation and grief were there..are here.

I guess I’m getting better at living inside “WHAT IS”.

Freedom is still mine with great dial-up van service and my proximity to downtown Santa Fe for chair roll-abouts daily.

The idea of being free seems to have a lot to do with the very action of letting go of what we think we can’t live without

And finding the room left over, previously tightly occupied, has a giant updraft built right in…

Or maybe I’m just fooling myself

Because the reality is too gritty?

Either way- I choose the up-draft thing

Just because I can.

Church Ladies

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Emma and me in church
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I have written before about my personal brat pack from high school and the connection we forged which, for me, has been tempered over the years into the finest alchemical magic imaginable.

The past few days I had a visitation from another pack member, Paul.

He arrived with the gift of a mixed CD he made for me sporting stuff like THE MAMAS AND PAPAS, ROD STEWART and other beloved oldies because that’s what we are.

He knows I love to wake and groove.

At this point my body won’t reliably obey my will so I desperately need the juice, juju and jive to enervate my sloth.

Paul treated me royally in so many ways and I felt my entire self let go into the safety of being looked after and out for.

We tooled around town together so easily. I smiled seeing my buddy with tiny, white, stubborn Emma leading him to and fro.

I feel quite tribal in proximity to my pack members from way back then.

Paul and I stopped into a favorite meditation spot; The Santuario de Guadalupe.

There is something inordinately precious about sharing the experience of prayer or connection with “All That Is” with those we love.

I left the church feeling ‘more.’

Thank you, Paul.

Yesterday

07_Thrive_1
“THRIVE” installation in private home, ceramic pieces 6″x1/2″,nails, 2008
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Not too very many years ago I woke, showered, made coffee and prepared to enter my studio to make art if the gods were with me.

Yesterday, I woke and did my ablutions then prepared Emma for her walkabout.

Within a half an hour I had met and spoken with two handsome septic system giant hole diggers.

“Good morning” I say.

“Buenas dias” they say in unison.

“Very nice hole you are digging there”.

“Gracias” (big toothy smiles).

Next interaction was with a homeless guy I had admired because his dog is ultra well-mannered and he (the dog) wears sunglasses all the time.

I say: “Your dog is so cool. How did you train him so well? I am trying hard with my dog but frustrated alot.”

“Pretty good for a homeless guy, right?”

“They need love, love, love, kindness.”

That was his distilled dog training session which was pleasantly and decidedly far away from Cesar Milan wisdom.

Emma and I rolled along toward her favorite grassy place.

A little later some guy in a very fancy car yells: “What kind of dog is that? Can you come closer so I can see her?”

I negotiate the curb cut, humans, lamp post,trash bin to get closer.

Traffic is impatiently backing up behind him.

“This is Emma. She’s a maltese w/ some terrier.”

Speaking urgently now: “My dog is an ……(some fancy dog breed I had never heard of).”

“He looks like your dog and I miss him so much I just had to say hi.”

Horns now honking behind him three cars deep.

“Bye bye Emma!! Bye Emma! Bye bye……” he keeps yelling as we move along.

We wheel away and I can’t stop smiling at this direction my life has taken.

I just am enjoying the hell out of it.

Giving Up On Acuracy

adobe
detail of painting
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Illness, especially over time, allows me to put most of my shopping bags down.

More interested in emptying out than adding reverses more than I bargained for.

Less ruled by the impetus toward graciousness and the necessity or even the energy for correctness

Is a brand new modus operandi for Cath.

Unreliability, embarrassing and inadvertent omissions and costly non-action are my present reality.

Sometimes I feel truly insane, so far am I from the more civilized Cathy of yore.

I beg to be released from my lifelong shame-based existence,

Vestiges of which act as constant road blocks to the Peace I pray for.

Ego annihilation is a costly affair.

I love grace, accuracy, correctness, civilized and well mannered existence.

These are all elements of Beauty I cherish.

Taking a machete to false identities leaves me raw and weary.

But really…to my soul it feels akin to re-virginization.

You think I’m kidding…

These days my connectivity account gets overdrawn daily. I feel apologetic yet I haven’t the energy for even that. Such a different me.

Such costs..such rewards.

My big challenges have always been to come down to Earth and make Real in my physical being the wanderings in the ethers which have served me so well in my art career and spiritual life.

I thrill in the vivification of the stasis my body seems stuck in when I make a transformative discovery!

Mastering the balance of light and shadow is my way now which is little different that the 30 years of making art.

Make a mark. Erase or paint over. Try another one. Yep- that feels right. Move forward.

I don’t always have what it takes to change out of my paint-spattered clothes to present myself well to incoming guests.

I find I must allow myself to give up some graciousness in order to make room for Grace.

Accuracy has to be bumped down the list of virtues

In the quest for authenticity.

I pray those I love and value highly will grant me the decidedly challenging gift of not taking my inadvertent ungraciousness too personally.