Be patient with this girl until I right all the wrongs with my computer access and can be with you once again.
Most people I know have been entertaining the flu this season.
Or they have been stripped to the bone by the herculean energy and effort it takes to navigate a once-friendly-but-now-fierce world with even a modicum of grace.
My personal trials have come in the guise of the question: “Where the hell am I going to live after March 1 and can I even afford an affordable housing development and how do I do what all this asks of me when I do not feel well?”
Where/what/who is ‘home’ anyway?
My spirit animal is the turtle and I keep learning from her that in the end we all will realize that we must carry our home with us and not do ourselves the disservice of leaning too far into the comfort or beauty or safety of a coveted abode
Because sure as shit- it can be gone in a nanosecond.
Soon I will move out of this gorgeous place I’ve lived in and into a temporary place for a couple weeks, stuff goes into storage then move again to a newly built apartment complex and a space outfitted for the disabled in me.
I have never set eyes on it.
Yet this is where I will be.
There are little deaths every day.
Once I felt free.
And now am beholden and often feel too transparent to my supportive family.
Privacy has gone by the wayside.
We are all negotiating this new territory that is ragged and whipped up with instantaneous dirt-devils appearing out of nowhere.
We are all full of grit and grime
Because it is happening so fast
And our parkas and bullet-proof vests are in some closet
Because we have been mercifully complacent
We lost that privilege.
I crave a strong drink with an umbrella
And possibly a cigarette to pose radically with.
Anything to make the rock tumbler get to the reveal of the gemstones
When before they weren’t worth a second look.
I like the rock tumbler metaphor:
It takes grit and friction and steady time to transform an algae-crusted nothingness pebble
Into an agate anybody might even want to EAT, it’s sheen and beauty attract us so..
I think it is this way in the ‘breakdown’ times:
GRITTY and TUMBLING and SEEMINGLY ENDLESS and GREY and ORDINARY
Somehow opens into clarity.
It happens every time.
But seldom in OUR time….
Louise Hay made the connection between illness and emotional blockages popular. She writes that MS is due to ‘rigid thinking.’
I poo-pooed that bit of information for years holding ‘rigidly’ to my belief I was a person who is flexible, open and I felt very ‘right’ in these beliefs.
Here is a story:
Years ago when my mother died I inherited money which was put into a trust divided equally four ways for the siblings.
My youngest brother was given the thankless job of overseeing the trust for the rest of us siblings. I am the eldest.
We were each to apply for any funds through him as the bridge to the trust.
I was in the full throes of ‘MS-land’ and had not the energy to get a job so I kept taking money out monthly knowing full well I was depleting the principal and would someday come to the end of this gift from my mother but I did not know how to make another kind of decision that may have preserved the money for a longer period.
This was a huge strain on my brother and me. Our relationship became adversarial as he only wanted to support me and I felt cornered and judged and unable to wrap my weakened arms around doing the ‘smart’ things which may have preserved my relationship with my brother (whom I love dearly) as well as my money.
I stopped communicating with him.
Life continued for us both but very separately.
The money quickly ran out as we all knew it would.
I felt oddly relieved and free.
My brother and I spoke sparingly over the years following but always with the foundation of love we feel for one another. The foundation was surely there but with a large chink missing.
A few months ago I felt an enormous ‘missing’ in my heart at the loss of our former closeness.
I called him and apologized for anything I might have done during that time that frustrated him, angered him, disappointed him or hurt him in any way.
I took full responsibility for the wreckage.
I had been making him wrong for a long time in my mind; He was judging me for being less capable with money matters than he and he thought me lazy for not getting a job to augment my finances and he thought me infantile in my dealings with the trust and him as he tried valiantly to do this horrible job he never asked for.
On the phone I heard his deep anger and frustration as he took up the space I gave him to speak.
Something happened during that phone conversation: I heard him and left ‘me’ to the side.
I got off the phone and a wide and luscious sense of peace filled in that missing chink in our foundation.
This peace was palpable and was injected directly into my heart and has stayed there.
As I move through the world now, that same peace seeps out and moves of it’s own accord toward other parts of my life which need the same salve.
My brother and I were/are both innocent…innocent hearts doing their very best.
We are all innocent hearts doing our very best.
I love you, Pete….
I cried yesterday.
Tears come easily to me as I watch dysfunctional family movies or films about an underdog triumphing over life challenges. The distress of our environment is another trigger.
They also arrive when I am overcome by beauty; our New Mexico skies (before the fires), humanity at it’s finest and often inside the feeling of enormous gratitude.
Yesterday’s tears were the kind I seldom cry which come from frustration mixed in with surrender to ‘what is.’
I’m really pretty good at taking the high road but sometimes I get so tired of soldiering my way through that I must just drop to my knees and roll over and weep.
Yesterday I laid there on my bed and let the goddess of tears have her way with me. Such a relief it was..
But my dog was alarmed by the unusual noises she heard.
She came and sat directly on my chest and began licking away my tears.
They were flowing fast- making little lakes in my eye sockets.
She stayed there..lapping them up as they arrived and catching the strays which made it to my cheeks.
She stayed there loving me in this way until my heart settled and my breathing softened and the heaving stopped.
She stayed there until I finally smiled.
And only then did she take her leave.
After such a good cry and feeling washed clean I felt the need to celebrate.
So the two of us got in the car and went adventuring together..just looking at the world, smelling the world and feeling loved-the two of us.
I sang her stupid little ditties I made up on the spot while she kept her still wary eye on me all the while.
Life is good.
Summers as a kid saw our family at a lake cottage in northern Michigan. My Dad designed the place and you’d think it was enviable but it actually was the repository of a whole family’s shadowlands.. Just the inside part.. The outdoors was just one big and wild adventure for me.
This is where minnows come in..Beside the dock were shallow waters strewn with interesting rocks and pebbles (petoskey stones from ancient sea coral beds, agate, unknown beauties..).
The early mornings found the lake calm as glass and most people still at their oatmeal as we headed to the dock with Dad.
He had a minnow net; square netting with thin tension rods anchored to each of four corners meeting at the top. A string attached to the whole thing was gently dropped into the shallows, letting it float to the bottom.
Everyone hushed themselves with a slight elevated pump to the heart while we watched and waited for the silvery things to swim over the net.
Dad would pull up the net and there would be the unfortunate fish flailing, to be used later that day as bait for another adventure altogether.
But this one with Dad was practiced pretty much in silence as a ritual almost. We, as a clan had this common purpose.
Today, we’d call it bonding… The simplest of activity made sacred.
It was all ours. No Mom there. Just us. The fish. The Lake. The smells and lapping of the slightly restless water. The pleasure in having him alone. The urge to stand taller and be better to catch his approval.
I think of this as the heat of today starts oozing through my windows; rendering me weak and dull.
I miss my Dad.
My sister, Jen is here for a visit. Last time we saw each other was two years ago. In that time she has packed up a family and moved to Chicago, endured 18 months of a commuting husband, 2 kids graduated from high school, one cat died, she found a new job in a new city, started book groups to attract like-minded people into their new life, decorated their new pied-a-terre with utter aplomb and showed up at my doorstep the other day looking spectacular.
I love my sister.
We are easy with one another. And we laugh.
We tell and re-tell the story of being fed ‘eggs goldenrod’ when we were young; poached eggs on toast with grated yellow egg yolk sprinkled on top and for dinner when Dad was responsible for us we were treated to bowls of orange juice with apples cut up and floating in it.
Then there was the gerbil she was so eager to give me which chomped down on my finger and I tried valiantly to shake it off (took awhile..).
These are the memories that make up sisterhood.
Here she is now with me- sitting on my elevated toilet seat, walking the dog, uber-cleaning my ENTIRE kitchen for me, eating chips for dinner, loading the walker into the car, telling me about city life and the kids and how it seems a legacy from our mother that we are aging so well!
My heart is happy to have her here. I feel so good about who we have become-together and separately.
I feel that low and deep hum that is family blood flowing strong and tenaciously. The river has always been there but in youth whipped up to a froth with misunderstandings, jealousy and the cruelty that often accompanies individuation.
Here we are, my sister and me..
Just sittin’ up here on the deck of a boat in that river with a beer..
Lookin’ out at the world with interest.
Quiet and content with the punctuation of laughter.
This time of year I just have to talk about dirt.
I learned about the earth from my grandmother who fussed about in her garden;
Hunched and bent to the ground.
She tended her roses
Far better than her children.
She heaped silent appreciation toward fragrant lilacs
And blue-red raspberries
Never caring a whit about the state of her fingernails.
We worked together, she and I.
Turning the dark, worm- laden soil;
Ever impressed that after the impossibly long and stultifying winter
Nature decided once again to leave her seed pods
And shrunken tubers
Dropped to the side like a tattered dress
And reveal Herself
Utterly naked and unashamed
But for perfume.
“What if perfect movement was overrated?
What if sensuality and getting to know one’s self didn’t have anything to do with perfect movement…..”
As I continue to navigate my life
I find myself enjoying the luxury
Of space and time.
I am blessed with a lovely place to live.
Where my interests used to be queued up behind
Art and artists, beauty in form, the next acquisition, participating in my community with the intention of holding my place to ensure I was not forgotten,
I sit now in my sunny window and look at birds as I pet my dog.
I next get down on my purple mat and feel the love for myself because I can make the transition from upright to prone and back again when I chose.
Today I am able.
And go deeper into the eons-long holding pattern
Of a woman/women reaching for perfection.
Sometimes I think I have been given the task of carrying and transforming
The sorrows and disappointments
Of every girl
Searching for a voice
To charm and spin
And thus- exist.
Here I am now- on the floor stretching like a newly awakened babe;
Perfect in her imperfection sounds maudlin, doesn’t it?
I’ve got this tune on my lips
Peppered with unpolished and primal sighs,
Releasing old stories.
I’m striking the set.
The old movie is over.
What is next is next…
I’ve not a clue.
But it will be true.
A friend had surgery yesterday.
We spoke briefly about our mutual fear around being ‘put under.’
I remember my youth spent skipping classes to dart outside and meet up with my cronies under a huge spruce tree where we proceeded to smoke so much pot that the very tree we sat beneath was gasping for oxygen.
Last evening, I was scheduled to have dinner with another friend.
He arrived very high and I said: “I can’t have dinner with you tonight because you’ve been smoking pot. We can pick another time.”
He said: “Come ON! I’m still me.”
“No.” I said. A definitive no.
I heard myself say these things with a friendly fierceness in my tone.
What do I know now about consciousness that I did not know long ago under that smokey spruce tree?
The reason the friend facing surgery and I shared fear about anesthesia
Is because we know what living in an unconscious way is like
And, now, following miles and years and eons of study, introspection, courage and grace
We are the beneficiaries of consciousness with some gravity to it;
And speaking for myself, this is my greatest gift and highest accomplishment.
To think of surrendering to medically warranted anesthesia is terrifying enough
But it makes me think of where in my life I purposefully blur my edges and render myself
A veritable wet washcloth version of Cathy.
Like my friend I chose not to spend an evening with because I experienced him as only half there,
I have my own numbing devices.
Witnessing my reluctance to spend my precious time with only a portion of the essence of a man available to me
Had me looking at how I gyp the world (people, practice, nature, critters, God)
By not bringing my full consciousness to the moment.
Something to think about, I tell you…
Sobering to say the least.
Which ended up being precursors to a divorce
I found a magazine on our dining table
Very purposefully opened to an article titled : IMPERMANENCE.
I just got angry and righteous
When I saw it
And was gleeful in my decision to not read the damned thing
And walk on…
“What does HE know about Buddhism, anyway?” I thought. (this particular article was about Buddhist beliefs).
Really, in hindsight, he was just trying to find a way through an experience just too horrible to conceive of: that there was an actual ending to something he imagined a ‘forever thing.’
Yeah.. this impermanence thing is really not fun. Really not.
But it HAS become interesting to me.
The fact that things can end and we don’t have to make any noise or drama about it.
Things just END sometimes.
That’s just the way of it.
We can add noise and good theater to it if we choose
But they are OUR additions to the play.
What got me thinking about this today is this.
And it’s ephemerality (is that a word?)
Makes it so.