My Hands (repost)

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photo credit: Gay Block
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MY HANDS
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These are my hands.
They have made both good and hopeful love.
They’ve coaxed night terrors from a dog
And curled in upon themselves
So hard
As to wake cramped.
These hands have prayed belligerent and beseeching prayers.
Fine and common meals have been made.
Black eyeliner and red lipstick
Precursors to an exhibition
Of art both sublime and something less.
These lovely hands are mine
Because I baited fishing poles
And threw back the fish.
Sometimes.
Sometimes I gutted those fish on the driveway
And loved the color and shapes I found inside.
These hands have thrown one wine glass
At a man
And missed completely.
They have signed unread contracts
And penned love letters
Unfortunately unappreciated
By anyone but me.
I love my hands
Because they have been strong
And now they aren’t.
I love that I still love them.
I love them still.
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-Cathy Aten 2013

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Close One

creativity
monoprint, 22×30
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It seems forever a challenge for me to manage having enough to eat in the house.

A bit of gauntness has attached itself to my visage of late.

I struggle with eating enough.

Today, I planned poorly and did not ask my caregiver to collect groceries

So..at 4:00pm I headed over to the mall and walked Emma along the way.

Brrrrrrrr…

Snow songs were sung.

I must cross a giant intersection to get to the store.

Never do I feel more vulnerable than negotiating untrustable humans driving.

I am hard to see even with my fluorescent flag flagellating.

Relieved in the peace that follows each crossing I let my guard down.

I screamed feebly as a maroon SUV curled into an illegal parking lot turn

Missing me by an inch.

The woman apologized slurredly. Drunk.

I could not speak.

I was blessed with the opportunity to see her a few minutes later entering the grocery.

“Your driving needs some serious help.”

She says: “I aaammmm sooooo surry dear.. My husband is in a wheelchair…blah..blah..blah.”

I felt really alive after that experience.

Really happy to be alive.

On the way home I sang: Uptown Funk You Up.

Advisor

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My spiritual advisor is white.

She likes who she likes

And lets the others know

Her distain

First, with a muffled yet throaty

Growl

And if that doesn’t take

She ups the volume.

Beyond seventy

In dog years

Has given her street cred.

She weighs a scant 7 pounds

Yet her sturdy legs

Can stop my wheelchair

When I want her to go

Where she’d rather not.

How embarrassing

That her wee frame

Can alter my course.

It bugs me.

Frustrates me.

Makes me lay down

Any modicum

Of genteel comportment.

I surreptitiously

Look around to see

If any body saw me lose it.

She is that Akido master

I saw on TV

From Korea

Who, with the barest ruffle

Reduced twenty men

To prone.

I have gotten stuck in stasis.

For a long time now

Avoiding projects,

Pedalling in place

And not doing

Yoga poses I know will save me.

I bend to whisper

In her ear

Just now:

“I love you.
I respect you.
It is a privilege to live with you.
Won’t you help me
And teach what you know
About intent?
You see..
I’ve lost my moxie
And you have it
In spades.
I’ll trade you
Really great food
And original songs
Along with
Your spot
Always saved
In bed
Next to me
If you’ll just share
How-in-the-hell
You keep calling up
The gladiatorial acumen
Running red
In your blood
So close beneath
The white white whiteness
Of your lovely fur.”
Amen.

You Look So Good

ten questions
“RAIN”, installation, ceramic,nails,light
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It takes me a boatload of chi to present myself well in the world.

I do it and keep doing it because it entertains me, helps others feel comfortable interacting with me, helps me feel whole, feels like a community service to be experienced as a cool woman in a wheelchair who clearly has some challenges going on but is not victimized by them.

I try to be a piece of art complete with the same garnet red blood you carry in your veins and perhaps represent a way of living in a compromised physical self outside possibilities you are familiar with.

A friend sent me this which interested me as the bike’s purpose is to try to give others the experience of MS which is so personal to each of us afflicted however there do exist some pretty common symptoms.

My temperament is to rise; add light to shadowy stuff.

I work to include the shadow but not hang out there too long.

Some people think I fake my attitude in life as a coping skill.

I’m just trying to create an interesting life by way of placing my attention in groovy places..(did I just say “groovy???”)

See- this is how I entertain myself..

I find myself endlessly entertaining by jove!

Restless Things

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I wish I could keep the feeling of light;

The very pumping muscle of my heart woven securely into that of my dogs.

I wish my fur was as clean and white and soft as hers,

My eyes perpetually unglazed and I also want to keep the exact same strength in my ‘good’ hand

That was there yesterday

But

God doesn’t really seem to work that way.

God is great and all that but heorshe seems to really need the grand entertainment

We scurrying, impatient ingrates provide.

For goodness sake I can hardly sit still for two minutes to relieve my mind

Which is lately wrung so tight and desperate for a spa day or at least a nice cool numbing martini

BUT NOOOOOOOO……

The road of refinement means making room for the opposites;

Stroking one story ever-so-compassionately (like shame or disappointment or boredom for instance)

Then crossing the river to tend to the ecstasy of the breath-taking innocence of a tender rose roseing.

Back and forth we go

In our duck boots.

After awhile it is the very river-crossing outfits I wear

That are the only thing holding my attention very long.

Is that wrong? Too shallow?

I am pretty sure I see God over there mid-guffaw.

Re-invention

1acupuncture
detail of sculpture,earth naturally pigmented on wood
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I always get slightly nervous when posting photos of myself like I did yesterday.

My upbringing contained the clause: “Drawing too much attention to yourself is gauche.”

But really..I actually think I do it for myself.

Periodic reminders of; still here..looked pretty good on that day..blessed grainy photo treatment..

It is a large part of my stay-ok plan to unashamedly proclaim my health, perseverance and actual astonishment

That after all is said and done..moments I live but don’t share..each searingly private unimaginable experience lived through…

HERE I AM STILL!

Rising in the morning to re-apply scarlet lip color once again and re-enter the world with all the presence I can muster.

Or perhaps it is a day to pull the covers over my head and say a distinct “NO!” to every damn one and thing.

Either way..I am still here.

Grateful.

Except when I’m not.

Kind.

On a good day.

Bored

Until I get excited.

The training a lifetime lived creatively has allowed me is this truth:

Re-invention is my very blood.

The shifting sands of my physical self are just that- shifting.

Absolutely NOTHING is static…no symptom, no feeling, no belief, no circumstance whatsoever.

Here we all are brothers and sisters! Shattered! Brilliant! Judgmental! Genius! The whole damn deal!

The greatest treasure we are gifted with is our perception

And for today I unashamedly covet my hard-earned self worth.

I like to like myself.

(somehow still looking skyward waiting for the thunderbolt to curb my enthusiasm….)

Success

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“SUCCESS IS LIKING YOURSELF, LIKING WHAT YOU DO AND LIKING HOW YOU DO IT”

– Maya Angelou

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photo credit: Bobbi Lucchino

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Cool Water Over Hot Brain

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detail,painting on wool flannel
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The title of this post is how reporter Megan Kelly describes her style.

She is the GOP debate moderator who sent her roots into the ground and asked TRUMP about his various utterances regarding women.

I just loved her potent and visceral awareness of herself.

Santa Fe has quite a bit of ice and snow left over from a recent spate of storms.

My Michigander childhood seems to come to attention in such weather and I find myself an intrepid adventurer

Powering down icy sidewalks with Emma slippin’ and slidin’ sampling the olfactory symphony of the day.

Today, I got stuck.

It was snowing.

Having done this often enough now

I knew to even out my heartbeat and calmly wait for a human to arrive.

I did an instantaneous “cool water over hot brain” maneuver without even thinking about it.

No fear got in.

Well..that’s a lie but a tiny amount was there instead of full blown freak-out.

A guy had passed us awhile back and he had headphones on. I could still see him and I yelled my best yell.

My unpracticed throaty alarm muscles could not penetrate white earbuds shoved in the side of his skull.

Wait. Wait.

Wait. Wait. Sing a song. Wait.

Curl into self from cold.

Wrap scarf around shivering small dog.

A MAN! A MAN COMETH!

A cute curly grey haired man with corgi in houndstooth jacket (dog) cometh!

“OH! I am so happy to see you! I am very stuck. Do you think you can pull my chair back a few feet?”

I am embarrassingly over- effusive in my gratitude

But I can see he is at least entertained..maybe even feeling pretty good about himself amidst such heroic acts.

Why do such seemingly small interactions stay with me longer than any work of art I ever did?

Rolling home in the snowy close-to-dark

I feel good with my blinking LED safety lights announcing our approach.

Swoop

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My good friends dropped altitude just to come see me the other day.

I trust them with the entirety of my heart topography.

Intrepid travelers they are..roaming the skies in their plane.

On their way home to Boston from California they swooped into Santa Fe airport and tooled over to see me.

It had been years since we last met.

On seeing and holding Jann my tired heart burst from the constant molding of it into “OKness”.

We seem to have lost all protectorate guise and surrendered after all is said and done into Love.

It was there since day one 30 odd years ago

Though it was young and untested.

Both Jann and David have stellar histories as professional photographers.

Jannie now photographs the essence of what captures her attention which generally is canine.

Dogs rival humans and pretty much everything else in her hierarchy of import.

All the while we communed she clicked away at my beloved Emma.

Here is her gift to me.. how acutely tuned her soul is to Life!:

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www.jannlovesdogs.com is her website

The three of us sat there fooling around with Emma and muttering appreciations of one another, sharing lipstick and sunglasses and hair epiphanies (David was very patient).

The hour was short but we all did a good job of weaving tapestries we’d unfurl at later dates

When distance felt to heavy and the world too coarse and stupid.

My heart friends returned to cruising altitude that night

But I stored their substance in my heart

And all the next day it kept overflowing and pressing out of me in sweet tears.

I Am Enough

saving grace
detail of painting, m/m
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Striving, yearning, desiring, wanting….

So friggin’ exhausting.

I remember early into the diagnosis of MS all the attention I placed on looking for cures.

People who love me and care about my well being each had the answer for me.

Negotiating all the well-wishers remedies as well as my own took years as I tried the ones which drew me and followed many inviting promises.

After 15 years of sending my precious attention out there trying to alleviate my suffering

I have come home.

Home is:

Not comfortable

Then it is.

It is messy and curious and angry and gorgeous.

Home feels secure

Until I fall.

Exhaustion gives way to being bathed in Grace.

Loneliness lasts long enough to accentuate the communion which never fails to arrive.

Yesterday, I looked down at the shirt I wore reflecting my heartbeat.

So steady. Strong. Warrior strong.

I am home.

I am home.

A soft white dog trusts me.

She wags her white flag of a tail.

I am trustable.

I trust.

I am.

Reset

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So far this morning I have realized I played a part in a very uncomfortable get-together with friends partially because I was uber-envious of things they have that I don’t.

Another friend came over declaring she is in love

And yet another is deep in depression.

Yikes.

Nothing feels neutral.

I retreat into singing softly to my spiritual advisor, Emma.

Her trusting eyes are there still.

The press of her warmth on my lap helps my heart shed protective density too weighty for that lovely muscle.

My personality has served me so darn well over the years

But she doesn’t interest me much of late.

I saw a photo of a simply clad Samurai warrior

With his two swords still at the ready.

This feels somehow like me;

The gift of feeling one’s mortality whispering close and hot in the ear

Is, for me, the necessity to remain clear, grounded, honest, soft-hearted, curious and upright in rapt attention.

In our world this calls for at least periodic fondling of the grip of our sword as well as some polishing.

We needn’t use it.. just appreciate it’s existence.

Or use it.

I think the turn into the New Year is a perfect reset time.

This year..in the way of resolutions instead of things I want I chose ways of being I’d like to inhabit:

peace

inclusiveness

connectivity

Three things.

I bow to the sheen of your own personal sword.

No Woman

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I am pretty darn sure there isn’t a woman alive who truly enjoys being seen just after waking up;

Mussed up everything, questionable breath and wrinkled pillow marks etched into middle-aged epidermis.

In the deep night I pressed my beloved adjustable bed button

And rose to gather my wits, destination: the restroom.

Seated in my chair I pushed the chair ON button

And n-o-t-h-i-n-g.

It had short circuited..

My mechanical pseudo-prowess kicks in and for an hour I try to fix it with one hand.

No go.

I can do ANYthing. But I can’t.

Get back in bed.

Pet Emma.

Hmm…Another wonderful life lesson about how none of us can control one fucking thing…YAY!

I couldn’t relax enough to sleep so I ran through possible saviors; calculating distance to drive, who do I feel ok enough to let see me looking wrecked and lying in pee?

DAVID!! close by, beloved past boyfriend, he would be sure not to judge.

9:10 am: “David?” (I hear his surprise to get a call from me Sunday morning)

“My indoor wheelchair short circuited and I wondered if you would consider coming over here to help me switch to my larger chair? (I am blessed with a very old small chair.. small enough to keep from banging the shit out of my walls).. I can’t get out of bed.”

“Sure!” he says genuinely up for this morning service call. “I’ll be there in 15 minutes”.

I lie there in bed w/ covers pulled all the way up, spit pasting my hair down and he knocks on the door, Emma hardly barks because she knows when goodness is afoot.

“MY HERO!”

He fixes my life in 4 minutes.

Then I ask if he’d mind taking Emma for a walk.

He shines back at me..”Sure.”

This gives me 10 minutes to de-bedlam myself and when they both return I say: “David..this means so much.”

He says: “I’ve been waiting 3 years for you to ask me to do something for you”.

I am a pill.