A Free Woman

“RAIN” installation, clay objects on nails sunk into wall

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JUST RANDOM THINGS ABOUT ME:

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I am comfortable not being married.

My decision not to have children was a good one for me.

Even though I ride out the day in a wheelchair I am comfortable with my STATE.

Knowing I know very, very little helps me.

I adore red lipstick.

My guard has truly been let down with just 3 people.

If you can make me laugh you got me.

The love I have for my dog, Emma, likely verges on quite unreasonable.

I feel safer in Nature than with people.

The health challenge of MS saved me.

Freedom is my top value.

I seem nice but can be very fierce.

When I go out to a restaurant and dine by myself I find my own company very entertaining. She never bores me.

It is really fun to be a woman who loves lowrider cars, old trucks, INDIAN motorcycles, the smell of Mercedes and the lines of a Porsche.

My family is made up of remarkable people I love. I am proud of us.

When I periodically lose my connection to Spirit I feel worse than MS could ever make me feel. Only then do I think about dying.

My need for “depth of living” and self-examination annoys some people and I am still learning how not to care.

My best medicine is silence. I need an extraordinary amount.

I don’t know how to live with another person because I give my power away.

Even at 63 and a lifetime of therapy to get me healthy (which I am) I still don’t have a very clear picture of my own power and strength.

Santa Fe is my beloved. I put my feet down here and my soul sprouted.

I think I likely will be forced not to have any work done on my aging face because how can I start erasing if I haven’t got the whole “me” yet?

I always thought not needing anybody and being very independent were the holy grail. Now I know it is INTERDEPENDENCE.

Respect for another person is a major litmus test for me.

I watch how you treat those who serve us.

Honestly, I do not know what I have done to deserve the aid and assistance I have had in my life to become who I am. I could never, never, never , never have done it myself.

A good cup of coffee is sacramental.

It Was Us

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I saw a man on the street yesterday.

It was early evening.

I was feeling very fine.

He surfaces regularly behind his blue metallic walker

Pushing. Gripping.

He is old but a warrior I could tell

Because of the fierce determination he always wore.

Yesterday evening he was sitting down on the seat his walker provided.

It was a downtown street corner with a 4-way stop.

His head bent down to his chest he just sat there silently on that corner.

My heart strings began thrumming and I actually turned around and headed for him.

I was called to go.

No wasn’t an option.

I pulled my chair up close to his on that busy intersection.

He was drunk. He did not look up.

I had no adverse reaction to his state and

Slipped some bills in his loosely clasped hands.

He registered the sensation in his hand and grasped the cash gently, lifting his weary head up a few inches to try to catch my eye

But couldn’t quite do it.

He slowly stretched out his free hand and I took it.

A purely purposeful micro-movement like a dancer.

It was so full, warm and soft. Human.

So THERE for me in his gratitude.

I dropped my head like his and held his hand for quite awhile right there in that intersection.

We were two broken ones.

For two minutes we had communion on the street.

Two times in my life I have experienced a holy touch with someone.

He called me “Goddess” as I wheeled away.

His only word spoken.

I don’t know the mystery of what happened there on that corner

But God was surely near.

And it was us.

One Life As Art

hand-painted terry cloth robe, 1987

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I was recently invited by an old friend who is the owner of the primo art supply store- ARTISAN’S in Santa Fe, to write something for the monthly newsletter. This goes out to 7000 people so it is no small thing. It felt good to do because so many of my peers haven’t seen me in years so this was a chance to let them know I am ok.

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ONE LIFE AS ART-
Using the skills I learned as an artist to thrive in illness

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I lost the whole damn thing. The “who” of me just wasn’t after a diagnosis of Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis in 2000. My right leg went first and over time disability has visited me in a hemispheric way affecting my beloved right side, generously allowing some use of my left.

My power wheelchair is fast. Growing up in Detroit I demand a cool ride with some sass. Surrendering my driver’s license turned my stomach. Seventeen years into this landscape of chronic illness has changed me for the better. It really all comes down to choice; in the moment do I go for the somewhat intoxicating (due to familiarity) downward spiral or do what it takes to elevate my self into “art” or something resembling beauty?

These are exactly the same decisions I faced over my long career as a textile designer, painter and sculptor. Life as an artist or musician or any uber-sensitive creative is precarious at best. We know the un-known intimately. Whether blank canvas, slab of clay or hungry piano keys…some THING has got to get done to make art. This tolerance of the unknown is the key to my curious “ok-ness” within the health challenges I live with. The big void is not the enemy for me as it, understandably, manifests for most. I know the thing, despise it, am frustrated by it, haunted by it, in love with it, addicted to it, nauseated by it yet have chosen it as my life-long partner. Why? Because in that very void is where all the magic lives.

To bring this closer to home here is a recent example: transferring from my wheelchair to my bed is a precarious move for me. I must park my chair facing the bed and exhaustingly use what little strength I have in my quads and push up to stand, pause, pirouette to place my behind on the bed. Very occasionally there comes a perilous moment when I understand the safe completion of this dance move is not going to happen and I slip with a groan to dead weight prone on the floor; a slow, yet uneventful humbling. This has happened twice before and I have a medical alert button around my neck I use to call the fire department to come get me up. Eight men in uniform enter my bedroom within minutes. I never have the right make-up on or even many clothes of course and the flush of embarrassment pours red for all to see.

The other day it happened once more and I realized I was bored by my historical hysteria and changed the story; like erasing a naïve charcoal line and replacing it lovingly and with elegant assuredness onto the paper to create something new. I pressed my safety button, adjusted my hair and clothing as best I could and lay there on the floor petting my dog in the lovely surety a host of gorgeous men were on their way to my bedroom. I was calm. They came in and I lay there smiling, looking up at a circle of hunkiness; thrilled as they exerted their herculean mastery and lifted me compassionately into bed. It was over in 10 minutes and the bright flashing lights of the EMT and fire trucks left my neighbors to the stories they would tell.
I, on the other hand, was easy in my body and oozing with gratitude for their help but mostly for the fact I had changed my own story from one fraught with angst to an (almost) fun encounter.

Don’t like the shade of red you chose for that paint stroke? Change the damn thing and move on.

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Tidbits for the road:

1. Stay curious.

2. Asking for help does not mean anything other than you need some help. Let people be heroes.

3. By all means live with a dog.

4. Connect in small ways with those you don’t think need it or want it even. There are worlds there.

5. Try so hard you fail often enough not to fear it.

6. Your purpose is just to exist. Anything else is extra.

7. Judge profusely for 5 minutes max then soften back into yourself- nothing/no one can reach you if you are hardened into defense-mode.

10. Falling is just a new perspective. Look around. Find the gold. Bring it back.

END