“Love Someone…”

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“..who doesn’t deserve it.”

– Anne Lamott

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I gave a dinner party last night.

Surrounded by radiant loved ones and candles, sumptuous food and wine and stellar conversation and kindness, intelligence, care and gratitude for each and every one of our many blessings.

My heart plumped up very big.

There was no confusion or meanness or ulterior motive stuff in attendance.

It was easy to love.

Such a relief

From trying to remember everything happens for a reason in the world and we are, EACH OF US little pieces of God walking around, stumbling, face-planting in our self-created shit.

God said to love my neighbor as my(S)elf.

Not: my(s)elf.

My little “s” self is anxious and feeling out of control and ping-ponging in and out of depression imagining all the terrible stories I can concoct regarding world affairs

Until I exhaust myself and surrender into remembering Grace and Hope and Kindness and Compassion

Don’t have a shelf life

And I turn my head with open eyes

To say “Good Morning” to someone I’d rather not.

Three Questions

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These are my current litmus test questions I use for relationship:

Do I feel lighter after being with this person?
Do I feel encouraged?
Do I feel valued?

The feeling lighter seems very key to me. It signals something really good and healing happening in the non-thought arena.

I already have enough weighty stuff going on in my life.

Inspire me?

Make me laugh?

Tell me I make a difference?

Value my existence?

Be radically honest?

Join me for a saunter down my road.

Yellow

she walks
detail of painting on wool flannel
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YELLOW

Crispy cracklin’
Happenin’
Underfoot.
Sleepy ground
Frosted yellow.
Floating yellow.
Down, down,
Leaves leaving.
Catching air.
Tilting this way
And that.
Slicing through
Air
On their way
To rest.
This yellowing
Of leaves
Takes a whole year
To get the color
Right.
I will wait
For the next round.

When
The yellowing
Leaves leaving
Finally rest;
Suddenly still
Post-flight,
The brown
From the ground
Takes them home.
They surrender
Their yellow
Then brown
And crisp
Their way
Into the folds
Of Mother.

Turning
As they do
Into wallpaper
For worms
The coming Winter
Makes them rest.
In their de-yellowed
Silence
They each dream
in utter
Stripped down
Nakedness
Of yet another season
Of yellow.

The truth is
It is quite impossible
To reproduce
The very
Same yellow
Next year.
It will never happen
Again
And this is why
We must be
The registrars
Of the perfectness
Of the yellowing
They give us
As their gift.
It happens once.
Only once.
And it is we
Who
Must
Remember.

– CA Oct. 2016

Girl Power Giddy Up

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I love seeing a woman poised and articulate and well put together according to her unique coloring and features.

When I saw Hillary standing there last night all secure in herself and rooted deeply like an ancient tree

I knew something of what it took

Not to throw a glass at the man next to her.

Her chin was kept raised just so…

Just a bit more might have approached arrogant.

Michelle treated us recently at her last state dinner to the parting gift of toned and sturdy shoulders bedazzled in a column of gloriousness

Wearing her trademark grace and invitational smile.

Most often I wear a hat scooting round my beloved Santa Fe

Yet today I wanted my short hair available to the wind;

Today…I took some of that grace and rootedness and composure and elegance and intelligence and articulateness and poise and tolerance and sturdiness and security in Self

I witnessed being modeled before me by women in power

And I wore it myself.

And it was very, very good to be a woman.

What Happened?

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I have a good friend in my life who asks me 10,000 questions.

If I were to describe him I might say he is one gigantic heart of curiosity.

His questions come with no fear; “Show me how you transfer from your chair. Does it hurt when….? Can you do this? What does it feel like when….?

His unabashed interest makes me laugh and feel so light.

Over time I have come to understand the vital importance of letting those around me know how things ARE for me.

They see me all put together when I meet with them; stationary in the seat of my chair all dressed..physically and psychologically ready to be with them in as present a way as possible.

No one but Emma sees what I do or how it looks or how it sounds to get to the place where I am balanced enough in psyche and physicality to offer my best self in relationship.

People who love me want the whole of me, I know. Living alone as I do offers plenty of hide-out space to keep the raw mess of pain, weakness, fatigue and sloth to myself.

Today is painful.

It makes me hate everyone.

I rolled down the street in tears as I sang to Emma on my way to be just a wee bit a part of the masses hoping to find some feeling of connection as opposed to the revulsion my vulnerable humanness imprisoned me in this morning.

I am usually very adept in shifting my state of being.

Pain is different and new-ish to me. A new and unfamiliar landscape.

I love when my friend asks all his questions. I love his fearlessness in wanting to know me. It takes a lot of the work of educating someone how to be with me out of the equation.

Very infrequently a stranger will ask: “What happened to you that you use a wheelchair?”

Most often it is a kid with the questions.

I just adore being asked ANY question, really. Curiosity, to me is the foundation of Life’s lusciousness.

It is a big unknown whether a person is open to questions at a particular time or not but the only way to know is to try one out and gauge the response.

For me I say: “Bring em on”.

I will answer the ones I can and think about the ones I can’t but be grateful you were interested enough to brave the asking.

Raindrop

allofus
FIRST SEED, detail, ceramic,earth,nail,wood
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Skittering around the hood these days as yellow leaves are dripping from impossibly blue skies

I see that I am now a “fixture” in the downtown SantaFe scene.

Folks recognize me now and feel an ease in extending themselves to chat a bit.

Yesterday as I rolled down a crowded morning sidewalk,

My mind working overtime to negotiate strollers, screen-hypnotized lost-looking tourists and garbage bins

Two disheveled young guys quickly passed me by saying “we love you..”

I recognized them as teenagers part of a tight knit group of cronies who gather at a particular park bench doing what they do.

The street was far too crowded to revolve my chair around to acknowledge them so I just rolled on letting in the surprise pleasure of their gift.

Today as I waited in line for coffee a precious 5 year old girl was enchanted with Emma.

“What is your dog’s middle name?” she asked me with utter self-possession unknown to most adults.

“Well..I didn’t think to give her one. Can you think of something?”

Without a hitch comes: “Raindrop.”

Emma Raindrop Aten.

On the plaza a bit later I sat in the sunshine, ERA on my lap sleeping under the tails of my burnt orange velvet shawl.

A woman paced wildly to and fro on the central bandstand whipping her arms around as she pleaded for our salvation. She was quite adamant and off-putting to me as I felt very ‘saved’ already and so I found a quiet spot to enjoy my inner state of being which felt perfectly still and satisfied, steeped in gratitude and the wonder of it all.

Still and satisfied.

Steeped in gratitude.

What Is A Spiritual Life?

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At this point 4+ years into the offerings put forward through this blog

You know better than to think it is ‘disease orientated’;

Meaning this is not really the best place to go to acquire tips and referencing having to do with help with MS in the form of particular supplementation and current research.

I would suggest WHEELCHAIR KAMIKAZE for the research part

And ANN BOROCH for alternative support.

Healing for me is the process of continually paying homage to forces wider and larger than me and listening ACUTELY for guidance, acknowledgement, gentle chastising and not-so-subtle prodding.
This is also my definition of a spiritual life.

Who can debate the fact Nature can be larger than us?

Are we all quite sure we know the forces behind how winter always follows summer and we are not wrong in counting on the eventual return of spring even after we’d all lost hope?

Desiring change is not enough.

We must feel it in our bones.

And act.

Those giving voice to the need to protect our life-blood of water in North Dakota have had their web-of-security-and-trust balled up and thrown haphazardly down to the ground.

Nobody feels safe these days.

Can someone save us?

No.

We are all we’ve got.

I’m all I’ve got.

Want to have a great life, Cathy?

My savior is ME + God..that force I recognize as larger, wider than me.

I am saddened by the absence of these ideals in our current American Experience.

David Brooks writes in the NYT: “There is an assumption, in both campaigns, that we are self-seeking creatures, rather than also loving, serving, hoping, dreaming, cooperating creatures.”

I am utterly bored with self-seeking.

Today..I am fatigued and prayed: “God..just use me but please give me the stamina and wisdom and willingness to carry out the work you have for me.”

How can we serve? Inspire? Teach? Support? Protect? Elevate? Make safe?

Please give me strength in this desert.

ASK, LISTEN, TRUST, ACT.

Amen.

Dirty Girl

fire1
detail; clay, earth
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In my youth I had such a poor awareness of my own uniqueness.

Growing up is the process of our inner, mostly unformed trove of gathering knowledge

Moving from the innocence of watery, exciting, untested and scary thoughts and ideas sloshing ’round our brain

Eventually settling into the solid geometry of things we KNOW.

As an adult I notice two distinct kinds of intelligence in me:

CRYSTALLINE being the library of linear, geometric, tried and tested knowledge I count on to navigate my world

And the FLUID kind I depend on as an artist and woman interested in evolving.

If I think of a glass filled with water as a metaphor for fluid intelligence; the brain being the glass…

The qualities of water are things like changeable, has depth, unpredictable, can be cool or hot, liquid or gas, ice or steam, healing, vital for survival.

Intelligence which has crystallized has done so over time; beginning as viscous and settling into it’s own unique beauty and precision of it’s resting geometry.

In choosing the people we feel comfortable and safe having the job of governing our country, a majority of crystalline knowledge to draw from in ensuring history does not repeat itself feels important

As well as good dose of the liquid to allow the intuition and guidance needed to shift and flex as we need to within relationship.

My life as an artist has been possible because my mind is weighted toward a more liquid form of intelligence.

It seems human relationships and effective partnerships are often initiated by the draw of the ‘other’

Meaning my tendency toward liquidity needs the balance of the crystalline to feel whole.

Getting there feels so messy..learning and evolving is dirty business..not knowing but wanting to know feels embarrassing and raw.

But then doing only those things I am sure I’m going to be good at may feel calm and without static but awe seldom gets a seat at that table.

I want the magic, the new landscapes, the poetry yet to be written.

To get there I must face the terror of the blank page, constant erasure and re-boot, no library to pull from, no signage to point the way.

Just one foot in front of the other knowing my sneakers will never, ever, ever stay clean.

Good Morning Practice

memorial day
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I have to fight invisibility in my chair or I risk depression.

Intuitively, I have made use of various tools to ensure a bridge between my reality and that of ambulatory folks.

Here are some of my most successful bridge builders:

1.- RED LIPSTICK- Statement making lip color demands I rise up to meet the audaciousness of the hue. That means that even if I don’t FEEL like I’m psychically robust enough to not let the color ‘wear me’

In order to avoid self-consciousness I must move into the color which raises my vibe hand helps me connect.

2.- EMMA Need I say anything? FullSizeRender

3. DRESSING WELL I wear my trademark hat but also take time to present myself to the world to radiate the self-respect I have. I find people are hungry to assist other humans in need and I can help by making myself as approachable as possible.

4.- SMILE or at least don’t frown I realize a smiling wheelchair person is somewhat of an enigma. Sometimes it means fake it to make it and occasionally smiling is outside my reach altogether then I go home and pull the covers over my head awhile which seems to work well.

5.- SAY “GOOD MORNING” with eye contact and mean it Sometimes the world feels like a cesspool and we just don’t want to get our feet wet. This is exactly when people pull their smelly acrylic brocade drapery across and around themselves as they walk down the street; basking in the false obscurity of heavily veiled marching to work or wherever. “Don’t look at me!” their body language says. “Life is too hard and I am too tired and sad.”

But I look. My eyes grab theirs and don’t let go and as they startle from just that I say: “Good Morning”…medium soft but loud enough to leave a scent after I’ve rolled on.

Some people do a quick take and return my greeting but I can tell they don’t really get it until maybe 20 steps on. Often a flush comes to a face with eyes widening in surprise.

The best is when a tiny or gleaming return is bestowed on me and the bridge is made and I use it to add to my daily foundation as I roll around just being….