Body Weight

hand-painted silk

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Taking a proper corner in my 1973 yellow and black Camaro

Felt so growly and low.

I was in college. Kalamazoo, Michigan.

In that state, anyone who got three speeding tickets in a year went straight to jail.

For a week.

That was me.

It sounds all Formula 500

But I got those tickets in 35 mph zones trying to get to an early morning class.

It was hard to get me out of that car.

That bucket seat just inches away from the blacktop

Was all the school I really wanted.

When I moved to New Mexico in 1989

I had an affair with a cowboy.

Born in Michigan and segueing to Boston following graduation,

This girl had never been west of the Mississippi.

I came here on a whim by myself and literally fell deeply in love with the high desert.

Four months later I arrived back in Santa Fe for good.

I immediately signed up for riding lessons with Joe.

He had all the right cowboy stuff: infuriatingly sexy quietness, sweaty hatband on dusty hat, stubble, cheekbones and well-placed creases.

We rode, just the two of us through squat juniper trees mostly, for two hours a lesson.

I wasn’t really learning much. Always felt stiff in my seat

But gamely took off after him as he teasingly tore down red river beds

Galloping in his cowboy confidence

As I, thrilling in my totally-fucking-OUT- of control

Somehow stayed on

No thanks to skill.

Cornering in my Camaro and “stupid-galloping” down riverbeds

Had this in common:

Those experiences were as far away from my current wheelchair-sitting

As one could get.

That feeling of out-of-body

Plus

“Never-want-to-be-out-of-this-body”.

I miss that.

Going fast in my power chair just doesn’t cut it

But my mind is, each day in better, sinew-y muscle shape.

As I bump down old Santa Fe Streets

In fifth gear

I can get just a whiff of juniper

And be right back on that horse.

My mind is getting a friggin’ good workout, I tell you.

My Hat as Medicine

Wearing a hat is serious business.

The most important feature being it is impossible to be invisible

And I can not afford to let myself fade too far.

I purposefully wear a hat out in the world at all times because my reality in a wheelchair exists two feet below yours

Assuming you are ambulatory.

It isn’t just that the very act of wearing a hat is unusual enough to draw attention;

The fact I must expand my energy to include the very “hat-ness”

Is potent medicine in itself.

In order to be comfortable in a hat such as the one above I HAVE to be confident

Even if I am just faking it

Because faking it is exhausting

And so I usually fatigue which takes me to the real thing anyway, in time.

Cowboys know about hats.

They have to, by god…

Or else they’d be hopping off and on their trusty steed till the cows came home (on their own).

Those boys and girls (and me to a lesser extent)

Have to have a handle on aerodynamics; where is the wind coming from?

In order to slice into it at the right angle

To keep their hat.

Crosswinds are killer for me at large intersections thus the stampede string which I sorta hate.

I often use my hat brim as armor.

Emma is such an inviting accessory that I can tell the fiendish gleam

In a tourists eye

(having left their beloved canine behind at home and in full meltdown)

Zooming toward us for a petting fix.

If I am in a magnanimous mood and have a bit extra juice I will accommodate

But if not

I drop my brim

And pass them by

In a heavy silence,

Attuned to the disappointment dripping from their hungry hands

Behind me.

I’m not mean.

Just practicing the fine art

Of loving myself

Enough

Not to give away the gold

Unless I choose to.

Being a hat-person has given me entry into a select club of like-minded souls

Who tend toward the fascinating, gregarious, adventuresome, creative, life-appreciating and curious.

Who wouldn’t want some of that?

I’m a rolling “Meet-Up group.”

I remain ok in part

By ensuring I stay connected

Through the use of dressing well, sporting interesting accessories, my beloved Emma and a ready smile; my “connection tools”

Which are far and away more healing

Than any pill I could take.

Vulnerability

ceramic vessel, 24×18

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When I began writing this blog over 4 years ago

The promise I made to myself was to avoid editing myself out of truly authentic territory.

That meant telling my truth as truly as I could and not spiriting away the messy bits, the unflattering occurances, the embarrassing shit.

I, as an expert people pleaser was in search of the woman under the mask

And telling my truth is my road to HER.

There have been 3 times I have chosen to go back and delete a post because I just felt too raw after writing..too exposed.

The thing about vulnerability is that it is a universal condition and no one escapes.

Knowing this I recognize that if I have had a feeling or experience there is likely a slew of others in the boat with me, maybe cowering in the corners.

After revealing to a good friend recently that I took down a post she reminded me that my readership come here in part to get the TRUTH as opposed to a prettified scenario.

” People, your friends, WANT to hear the vulnerable stuff you deal with. Puts the beautiful parts in perspective. And makes US realize we have nothing to whine about. Put it back up. “

Arriving at a place in which one has little to lose is a freedom gift extraordinaire.

I am here.

And somewhat broken.

But strangely grateful for the lovely, lovely scars

Each with a story of resolve and resilience

Adding to the creation

Of today’s Cathy

Who ties (sometimes with help) a Parisian silk scarf around her sagging neck

And re-enters Life

In partnership with the scars

Which are quiet

Having been given the air-time

They each demanded and deserved.

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Gathering Evidence

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Whatever the story we have concocted

There will always be someone out there who will validate our opinion.

It feels so slimily good to gather evidence for our belief in what is true

But to what end?

A well placed ” I told you so?”.

Is this the gold we are after?

Chronic illness is a lonely affair.

We can invite friends and family and God

To come in close

And witness our sufferings AND triumphs

But essentially,

We live within our own concocted truth.

I say “concocted”

In light of the fact I experience my level of suffering or grace is altered

By the story I tell about it

And the more people I can gather around me who agree

Set my experience in stone – good or not-so-good

RIGHT QUICK.

For this reason I have avoided MS support groups.

It feels so very lovely to share agreement

Whether that be in the realm of health or politics or religion or sport.

Yippee! We are not alone!

Except we are.

In the most important of ways.

We create our lives

By choosing where to put our attention.

My sense is that I continue to thrive

In the largest sense of the word

Because I am familiar with how to approach a blank canvas; having done this very thing thousands of times in my career as an artist,

I understand how to create and not stop until it feels right.

I use these same skills as a bridge to each and every “next moment”.

In the end they even out to quite a lovely life.

This is true for me.

I do not need your agreement.

The Dignity of Doria

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I keep thinking about Meghan Markle’s mom, Doria.

After all the hullabaloo has passed, her quiet dignity stays with me.

She did not tuck her blackness in

Nor did she shove it in our faces.

She carried herself with an easy and powerful dignity.

She sat there in the pew, very alone, witnessing her baby marry a prince.

Prince Charles took really good care of her; recognizing the challenge of negotiating such an event with out a plus-one. He kindly guided Doria with seeming affection as Camilla stood by.

Today, on my morning roll I negotiated the crowded streets of SantaFe filled with tourist disconnect to my presence on the streets.

I found some quiet shade to do my voyeur thing.

The default posture I see most these days is a marked hunched back and collapsed upper chest.

Seeing this so much makes me feel claustrophobic.

It is a habitual and lazy stance of no possibility; armoring ourselves against the assault of internalized wariness of the daily unknown.

Closing off our chest like this truncates breathing so less Life gets in.

Thinking about this and noticing the same in myself I changed my posture

By rolling my shoulders back and subtly lifting from the muscles in my upper chest while pulling my lower back in toward my stomach a bit.

This is the basic yoga “at rest” posture.

I immediately felt really different as I opened my chest to hope and connection and ease and dignity.

If I don’t put energy into maintaining this posture I can go down the rabbit hole pretty quick.

This seems to be an immediate antidote to “victimhood”

And an invitation to poised liveliness.

It helps me meet the world from a far less “me-centric” place.

Keith Richards is Still Alive

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Isn’t he like 165 years old by now?

I look at his face and his wrinkles seem to be placed well.

His wife is cool and she is still there with him.

He wraps a rag around his head and still rocks it.

I, on the other hand, woke up this morning and felt angry at the pain and sad most good friends have left town and pissed off that it takes me two fucking hours to get my two feet into both pant legs instead of one.

Blah, blah blah….

Keith is so in love with playing guitar.

I adore the strange faces he makes in creative reverie.

Making sculptures as I am at the moment with my one good hand has me making faces too..

Thankfully, the frustration turns to laughter pretty quick.

It seems so weird; Keith Richards weird; that I love my life.

I found this new milk substitute called OATLY.

Made from oats!

From Sweden.

With cool packaging.

I bought some as dairy is not my friend.

I ordered it online.

It was terribly good in my morning tea.

I mean- beyond good actually.

Crack cocaine good.

Entertaining to read the box.

Good enough that it gets me out of bed in anticipation.

Now there is no more to be had…

Anywhere.

I checked, believe me.

The UK has some.. but shipping…

Can’t get no satisfaction.

How We Learn To Discern

my garden

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Discernment can be a foggy affair

If we don’t know ourselves truly.

Meandering through life for so many years as a people-pleaser as I did,

In search of love in all the wrong places

Had me making decisions from a fake place.

This is where MS comes in as one of the best things to ever happen to me;

I now haven’t the energy to concoct much of anything

So most of me is true;

Solidly my highest accomplishment to date.

If one is not visited by the magnitude of an ego-crushing illness

Which can assist in the process if we let it

How can we learn what is true and real for us

In the way of food or belief or partner or career or fashion or art or music or terrain or color preference even?

If I wear the color green I feel sick…

In my stomach and in my head.

Every time…

Green equals yuk.

Now, it was many, many years into this particularly potent equation

That I finally understood why

But that is sort of beside the point;

Green is so viscerally NOT my color that I could not NOT notice.

In my beginning to pay attention to finding out my TRUE likes and dislikes

The ensuing reaction to BAD NEWS had to be big enough to get through the murk and sticky mire

Of trying to be liked

Because there is a sneaky little thing that feels really, really addictively grand

When you figure correctly and give someone what they think they want.

After a few years of this study my refinement increased and I can now feel pretty close to in-the-moment when I’m in-sync.

THIS SKILL IS CRUCIAL FOR A GOOD LIFE I think..

Otherwise, we are living a virtual existence created to achieve the “best” response from another.

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ps- I abhor green because my mother re-decorated my bedroom as a child with chartreuse as the main color of rug,paint,fabric without asking me what I might like. My current self loves white…go figure.

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Easter Redux

detail of “RENAISSANCE”, naturally pigmented earth, wood, 10’x3’x3′

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I wrote this 2 Easters past but liked it enough to offer it again:

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I just returned from a midnight roll with Emma; full moon.. me dressed in gratitude to the dark (meaning: just socks but no shoes, hair all sticky-outy, shawl range-ily wrapped round my dubious outfit).

Emma doesn’t care.

I obviously don’t care either. It was the adventure of the thing.

This past Sunday all the Catholics were out on the Santa Fe plaza in high church regalia in a Palm Sunday processional.

The head man swung incense to and fro followed by the ecumenically outfitted ..followed by the general public waving palms..

Emma and I watched.

I had to go home and google Palm Sunday.

I’m really keyed into this time of year because I know something about what feels subjectively like crucifixion and the journey of return.

My urge to be free finds me looking to all religions for keys.

It seems to help me very much to bring the Jesus stories in very close as metaphors and relate intimately to his teachings.

Surely my way is only that: my way. All I ask is for you to read here with a modicum of curiosity and forgo showing me the highway too soon.

By way of Easter time, Jesus is nailed to the cross and has to just hang out there with what is.

He has lost the luxury of his own will and by default must look inward for salvation.

His suffering goes on and on and on and on.

The agony is witnessed by those at his feet.

As his consciousness dims he pretty much gives up all “Woe is me” and “Why me, GOD?”

In favor of final forgiveness and surrender into Death.

But then…

after a little rest and recuperation

He RISES!

Not just good as before but better.

You may think me sacrilege but variations of these same transitions play out in my own life and I’m pretty sure a good number of you experience them too.

MS has shattered me, crucified me, wrested my trusty will from me.

It seems foolish to lend a hierarchy to suffering; (yours isn’t nearly as gritty as mine).

Divorce annihilates who we were..loss of job or spouse or child or fortune; addiction, depression, jail time, surgery, disappointment or betrayal.

Hell..even a bad break-up leaves us bloody and wrecked.

All our cells are called to re-assemble into some alien pattern and no friggin’ instruction booklet is included.

We’ve all just gotta hang there on the cross till every damn one of our precious numbing agents, blame-games, uber scavenger hunts for relief and distractions from what IS

Are used up.

Man, this can take a loooooonnnnng time.

And we die.

Metaphorically speaking.

We die to who we thought we were even though we thought we were pretty damn great and it looked like we had all the tools we needed to cut through the pain and discomfort..

HA!

Not.

After all that foll-de-rol we go through writhing in our suffering we need a big time Siesta with a capital “S”..

Three days is really not long enough (says me..).

I really do hope Jesus had a few margaritas to chew on in that dark cave..

Of course there were the intimates there to help him do his re-entry by moving the rock because not a one of us can do this ourselves.

I repeat: NOT A ONE OF US.

Released–he rose again.

And I have too..lighter, happier, less dense, more curious.

My neck is saggier but hey..the costs of war and time…

I am pretty raw as well. Naked to the wind.

Sometimes haphazardly dressed. Sometimes Chanel.

The Shattering. The Reconciliation. The Return.

Happy Easter to every darn one of us magnificent, brave, beautiful, beautifully human, humans.

We are the miracle.

We rise.

Steven Hawking Is So Sexy

“FINE LINE”, 11X11X4,M/M

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I say “IS”

Because he’d want us to remember what he taught us about black holes and such:

That matter just gets gobbled up and redistributed

“…like burning an encyclopedia. It changes into smoke and ash so actually still there but harder to read.”

Yeah…as he aged his teeth jutted out and he looked crumply

But few of us turned away, did we?

No.

We watched carefully in awe as his devoted students fed him.

We read about his jokes: to prime minister he says: “I deal with tough mathematical questions every day but please don’t ask me to help with Brexit”

And trying out what it feels like in zero gravity for fun.

We heard him say “..anyone who boasts about their IQ is a loser”

And listened as he explained string theory to us toddlers.

He lived sooooooooo widely

And punctuated the gravity of his challenges with a grin.

Absolutely disarming!

Knowing he had that grin in him made it seem like he’d be open to a hug if I ever saw him in an airport.

I wish I could have been his dinner companion just once.

The crip jokes we could tell!

He told us in interviews that even though he is physically disabled he tries not to be spiritually disabled too..(grinning).

So- to me his beautiful mind, unhidden vulnerability, sense of humor, humility, kind of adorable crumpliness, love of women (he had a number of big loves in his life), intention to distill math and science mega-thought into words we toddlers could grasp instead of just writing for his colleagues , his mixture of warrior and leprechaun spirit and a sassiness that just popped out at times

Makes him very sexy to me.

I love you, Steven Hawking.

The Salve of Other

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Down on the plaza today

Feeling sooooo good.

I seem to have made it through another winter.

Back to my full time job of professional voyuer

I sat with Emma on my lap and a latte within reach.

It was mid-morning but few humans were around save the Native Americans setting up their wares for the day;

Dignified, constant, quietly contained.

A low and grumbly noise got my attention.

It came from a “camo-man” (my word for the plethora of discombobulated vets carrying the weight of war for us all).

He was quiet in his delivery of some language known only to him.

His body moved strangely.

Not dangerously.

I wheeled over and handed him a five dollar bill.

Not looking at me he took the cash and reached to barely brush my hand with his own

And walked off.

I truly felt steeped in Grace; his slight touch so full of intent and a host of other things that silenced me with their power.

One of the most challenging aspects of my health situation is the necessity to be so body-centric, so dense in paying attention to my physical body.

I must be so CARE-full

Im each micro-movement

In order not to fall on the floor or into the vacuum of a death spiral.

I must take pills, struggle with dressing, bathing, stay functioning in my home and work and community with dignity and balance.

All of this I used to do without a cloying effort but now must micro-manage energy; both psychological and physical, to show up in the world the way I wish to.

The call to action I had with the “camo-man”

Took me out of my self-centrism.

For a moment

It was WE…outside of time.

I forgot about “me”

And “he” also vanished

And there was just the numinous “We”.

How easy it is to forget who we are outside our personal pains, frustrations and concocted stories.

These things are not “us” at all.

We must reach beyond our bubble.

Or be very aware when a fellow reached forward toward us.

It seems God lives inside the extension outside our (little “s”) selves.

To Settle the Soul

“LIGHT”.5×4′,m/m

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The first crocus pushed through as harbinger of better days.

It is more of a challenge to enjoy long threads of “better days” in Winter.

I asked a friend to be my meditation “accountability buddy” at the beginning of February.

Structure helps me keep my word to myself;

“Monday- yes, Tuesday, yes”…. we traded this way via email for two weeks.

Suddenly, some thing got me and I recoiled from confessing to my friend that “no” had entered the arena.

The silent backstory in my troubled mind was bordering on cruel;

I’ll bet you know it well.

I’m not entirely sure that when the crocus begins to wake up and have the urge to move all the dirt balls and worms out of it’s way to reach the nourishment of light

That it does so without a number of rests, pausing to do whatever ( laundry, dinner with friends, get a facial?), and maybe even some time in stasis

Where the direction toward Life is unclear.

Can I love myself a little?

Be gentle in my requirements for success?

Maybe just begin again as I am ready

And leave the jaggedy tailings of mind fracking

By the side of the road?

Easy does it, Cath.

Enjoy the ride.

It’d be a shame

To turn any more precious moments over to The Judge.

He is so fucking fat.

THERE ARE CROCUSES COMING.

Saying What’s So


my friend Jann and me (different friend from birthday letter)

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Today, my wonderful girlfriend took me to a fancy place for a celebratory birthday breakfast.

As a gift she gave me a hand written letter I will keep always in which she told me who I am for her and how knowing me enhances her life.

I watched an OPRAH interview recently.

She spoke of having interviewed thousands of people from all spectrums of life; presidents to paupers and they ALL wanted to know the same thing:

“WAS I OK? WAS THAT OK? DO YOU THINK THEY HEARD ME?”

My friends birthday letter made me feel truly seen.

I continue to direct my consciousness toward unpeeling the layers of myself which do not feel authentic.

A giant swath of my life energy has been devoted to this quest.

In her letter she let me know my hard work in this arena is inspiring to her and the woman I have become and am becoming is someone she loves dearly.

Now, at a ripe 63 years of age

As I sit here in my wheelchair with almost total loss of my right hand and arm

I wonder what my purpose is?

The identity of an artist is gone.

I find it hard to believe I am not sorry.

My creativity remains very alive.

These days most of my life energy is directed toward upgrading the frequency of my whole being;

Frustrated Cath? Can I move myself into the frequency of calm acceptance then a step further into small steps forward ensuring something resembling success?

Soaking in depression as I watch a highly regarded film I was hating I wanted to leave but not to disappoint my friend sitting next to me. I left..thrilled to access the double doors as I exited the theater and feeling my frequency jettison into happiness at my choice to vote for mySELF!

I have a sense my core purpose is to become the best version of me by continuing to elevate myself when I am so often tempted to just curl in and armor up or let unconscious behavior go instead of saying: “Yeah, I did that and I am sorry.”

My friend let me know she sees me and I matter.

This gift of really SEEING one another and TELLING THOSE AROUND US THAT WE DO

Is purpose enough for me.

Nope…and Yes


detail of painting

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Aging is really shitty.

And not.

The other day I had a memory snafu the likes of which scared me to death.

This morning I ran into a female friend who blasted me with her opinion that all the sexual abuse victims voicing revelations hidden in pressure cookers for eons were, in her reality, just out for attention and money.

My tolerance level is at its lowest point.

No.

Nope!

I cut and ran from my friend.

I did.

Never did that before.

I used to have more Grace and room;

Space for differing opinions, values and humanness I might find prickly.

Aging and illness has given me a great gift of boundaries.

My physical body immediately registers energetic DANGER and unceremoniously steers me clear.

With the acute registration of “NO!”

Comes an equally insistent knowing of when and with whom to exhibit a hearty “YES!”

Yes to space and beauty and undefended connections.

Yes to nature and prayer and Emma and soul-polishing books and film.

Yes to eating well and rituals that keep me comforted and warm.

Yes to giving back to and investing in those who continue to support my well-being.

Yes to learning cool stuff and musing about big questions.

Yes to leading the kind of discriminating life that only comes with age and illness.

It is only by saying a definitive and hearty “NO!”

That I can even begin to know what and who to say a true “YES!” to.

Freedom


detail painted wool flannel

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On the street recently I met Monica; a lovely butter-colored puffer clad woman of an age who shared with me she had recently paid to have a new small dog enclosed park built nearby.

No small feat what with fencing, getting city approval etc..

I soaked in her uber-generosity as I rolled home.

Since Emma was a street dog in Los Angeles before we met and likely a puppy mill resident before that

Her history of the pleasures of just plain being a dog were severely truncated.

When taken to the new park and let off the leash she was very confused without the familiar thread to her person.

She remained in one place just looking around and yawning from anxiety.

Witnessing the learning curve to enter freedom is really interesting for me as a wheelchair user.

My own learning curve is to continue negotiating constant loss of freedoms

And how to stay free within the peeling away of those I take for granted.

My wheelchair was picked up by the repair company yesterday as it needed over-hauling.

I was grateful they left me with a loaner at least

Though it is far inferior to mine.

Venturing out last night to walk Emma the motor began faltering and I turned around to barely make it home.

Here I sit for at least a week able to use this chair around the house but no more.

I feel like a caged animal having lost my freedom;

A visceral inner howl.

Big STOP.

Each cell of me is wriggling with discontent.

To get through this I understand meditation to be my salve; get quiet..sit down and know there is nowhere to go and deal with the fucking truth of THAT.

Nowhere to go.

Nowhere to go…..

Nowhere to go…………..

I am free.

How I Keep Getting Up

“RENAISSANCE” naturally pigmented , 10’x3’earth, wood

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I’m talkin’ ’bout getting up in the morning and rising above the aches, weariness, thoughts of “not-good-for-much today”, undercurrent of hating the world and peeing my pants…

(Gotcha’ with that last one, eh?)

You may be aware MS is often accompanied by this symptom).

My greatest medicine is a way of looking….perceiving.

Our current outer world is uncivil, ill-mannered, divided.

It affects me so much.

I want to shrink away from it all;… MY pain.. THE pain just living our daily lives demands of each of us.

I find myself getting smaller energetically and less available to the barrage of bullets.

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SOME THINGS THAT HELP ME BE HEALTHY:

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1. Mental health is just as important as physical health and we can’t survive without it. My definition of mental health means we can easily access a reserve of energy to think new things, live moderately well in the unknown in the company of the natural anxieties arriving moment by moment. KEY word: A RESERVE of life juice. A savings account of self-love. HOW?

2. I put myself next to, behind or near people/beings of character through personal contact, video online, film, books, friends, animals.

3. I create beauty to keep myself entertained; decorating myself and my home and noticing it in others and telling them.

4. Remembering we only really have this moment after all is said and done, I cry, wipe the tears with 2-ply tissue, patch the hole in my skirt, apply lipstick and scent and roll on.

5. Depression finds my chest feeling collapsed. I remember my posture and get comfortably straight then breath into my belly. This creates instant pride in a good way.

6. Too much time alone and I get so bored with myself. Out we go- Emma and me into the wilderness of life. I go fast in my chair and sing stupid ditties into the wind.

7. Eating plants and green stuff is good but a slice of carrot cake with too much frosting is grand medicine.

8. Give something to someone. SOMETHING YOU VALUE to a stranger; a smile, even “Hello” will lift someone else but mostly you.

9. Down time with head under the covers is part of remaining healthy. Just get up before you forget the sound of youtr own voice.

10. Buy flowers. For your own precious self.

11. Remember the strongest truth there is: EVERYTHING DAMN THING CHANGES. ( NATURE points to this reality and the comfort/alarm in it). Comfort is not the goal.

12. Finding the good in the bad starts out being kindof exhausting but this is the most effective way to a thriving life I know.

I would say what keeps me on top of my game the most is subscribing to the philosophy of WABI SABI- the perfection of imperfection. Cultivating a way of looking.. .click here:

Purpose

Apologies for my extended silence.

If I don’t have anything to say, I don’t.

I have been shifting with the season.

In order for new stuff to come in the old has to die off as we all know but I never like it while it’s happening.

Like the leaves, my energies feel brittle and warm from the advent of composting.

I acted as sounding board for a friend conflicted in his decision-making process whether to stay in Santa Fe and continue in business which has been a challenge for the past year

Or to return to his familiar life back east where his income was safe and he knew exactly what to expect.

He was freaked out because he is pushed to the wall time-wise with head and heart battling it out.

His bottom line ended up being “PURPOSE” and deciding what that is for him; recognizing his unwillingness to live the remainder of his life without it.

Putting words to our purpose feels important.

For me, the diminishing capabilities of ambulatory living and even two hands to count on have forced me to welcome the heat of my own leaves which have fallen; on the composting trail to new and fertile soil.

Dirty, messy business to face the need to shift from one identity to the next.

I might say that my past and pre-MS identity and purpose was that of an artist bringing beauty and interest into the world.

Today, I understand that to merely exist with as much awareness and appreciation as I can muster

As well as be a reflection for the miracle that is us

Is my purpose.

Really the same thing I was doing as an artist

Just not “in form”.

After all is said and done

To BE…to exist

Is enough.

I wish I felt more kindly toward that pesky “composting” part though….

A work in progress we are.

I don’t remember Spring every occurring without the “dying to be re-born” part.

Do you?

Yuk. and Yay!

A Woman Eating Alone In A Restaurant

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One of my most satisfying pleasures is to go to a favorite casual restaurant or coffeeshop and enjoy being there alone.

It continues to surprise me so many friends are too uncomfortable to take solace in this simple joy.

I know…we have these ancient imagined stories reeling in our heads like: “How pitiful to see her there without a dining companion”, or “Can’t she get a man?” or just “How sad…”.

The key take-away words are: ANCIENT, STORIES, IMAGINED.

It is 2017 girlfriends.

You know you are good company.

Take yourself to lunch!

Here’s how:

1. Pick a casual place you know..maybe off hours to start.
2. Bring a book..forget your phone.
3. Smile on entry as you are seated.
4. Ask for a different seat if you don’t like where you are put.
5. Be engaging with the wait person: “Do you like this wine?”
6. I always imagine wait people dislike seeing me sitting alone because their minds are on money..less $ for table of 1).
7. When I first started going out to eat alone I just had to fake it because it was too weird but I took my mind off the strangeness by appreciating how lovely it feels to be served, the clean and sparkling glassware, nobody to take care of as far as entertaining a dining companion, just a deep pause in a fast life just for me.
8. Try not to go too far down into your book to make it impossible to connect with other interesting people.
9. Relish your own interestingness.
10. Lately, I go to a hotel downtown with an outdoor patio open to the street. Very casual at happy hour. I sit with Emma and have a margarita…no phone..no book..I just people watch. In just a few visits I have met astoundingly interesting people. It feels super comfortable because it is a hotel and not terribly strange to see a woman alone.
11. I always tip VERY well and make the experience different than the waitperson expected. You will be treated like royalty next time you go! PROMISE!

a tidbit from OPRAH- click HERE.

Keeping an Eye Out

detail of painting,m/m

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Rolling downtown I pass a bank of windows; eternally sparkling clean.

Who works here? I have wondered… recognizing a level of integrity gleaming in the midst of, shall we say “other”.

One day a lovely woman about my age ran out the door flagging me down.

“I’m Sheri. I see you pass by here so often and wanted to introduce myself”.

We had a spirited conversation and since then, as I pass her window I turn to wave and she does too.

So fun to expand my community in these seemingly little ways

That aren’t so little at all.

Bladder infections are visited on my weary physical self on a pretty regular basis as a pesky MS related take-away.

Needing to get out of the house yesterday I pulled my remaining energy together and ventured forth.

Approaching Sheri’s window I lowered my hat brim and scooted by without my usual acknowledgement in her direction as I hadn’t the inclination nor energy to bring up cordiality.

Today I had enough juice to resume our greetings and she emphatically held one finger up asking me to pause and wait.

She came outside and knelt down in the heat to even her eyes with mine;

“Are you ok? You didn’t seem ok yesterday. I needed to check on you.”

Instantly I dropped into the safety and comfort of having been seen and registered with curiosity and compassion by another of my species sharing minimal history.

This felt miraculous to me.

I told her so.

We basked in the incredulity of the gift of communion in a surprise visit to church on a Santa Fe back street one day in September.

Nature is the Antithesis of Illness

monoprint,30×22

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I try to keep the energy of my home clean and clear as best I can; clutter, emotional drama, too many colors and textures, unfinished projects and piles of “stuff” all lend density and heaviness to the vibe.

Flowers are insta-clearing agents for me.

They are extremely vital to my well-being and I adore arranging carefully chosen blooms.

Candles and especially the scent and smoke of sweetgrass help hoover out the sneaky slimeyness (sp?) bound to find entry sooner or later.

Sometimes Emma stands rigid on my bed barking at the empty corner of the room protecting me from things only she can see.

My tolerance for staying put indoors is two days which really is pushing it.

I get weird.

My brain curls into armadillo-mode and starves.

Even with all the consciousness I put into “keeping house”

The moment I close the door behind me bound for the plaza or some other adventure

I become light;

Brain unfurls into an un-armored friend and I move from my heart into the world.

Thoughts of pain and weakness and struggle,

Boredom and isolation and severed threads to Spirit

Fly off me like flinty scales

As I lean in to the fresh innocence of a day.

I have a friend in Texas waiting anxiously for what may be the ravages of a full blown hurricane.

Nature has many costumes in her armoire from ferocious to tender.

She demands we must bow to her risking everything if we don’t.

The fact Mother Nature is so much larger than us seems to allow the petty contractions I experience in my physical self to shrink in the light of Her pure and untainted energy.

Suddenly, I don’t feel the identity of “sick or pained or weary woman.”

A slow tear slides down my cheek in undefended humility and gratitude.

I roll on.

Free.

“Can You Help Me?”

“WANTON” ceramic,steel, 7x4x4

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This evening in Santa Fe is perfection in the cloud department.

I was rollin’ feeling very fine and then-

Emma adventured into a tangle of chairs and such.

Her leash got stuck in a number of places.

I carry scissors in case this too familiar scene is un-get-out-able

But I didn’t want to spend heftily for a new retractable leash

So….

ME to a benign-seeming stranger: “Can you help me?”

Now- I should know better than this because it has happened so often.

The energetic reaction I got from this person went from: “Oh my god…this wheelchair person needs something from me” and “I am late for the theater and tired of shelling out cash to the needy” as well as “WAAAYYYY too much need in the world! I can’t help EVERYONE!”

She displayed frustration, fear, impatience and displeasure.

Of course these are the stories I told myself from reading the energy evident in those nano seconds before I remembered to

TELL HER WHY I NEEDED HER HELP!!!

At which she relaxed and became my evening hero.

I wanted a cocktail when I got home..

Exhausted from the chaotic mess of an evening.

I am in my chair so things are not physically demanding but the psychological navigating that needs to take place sometimes leaves me breathless. My job is really to educate people about how best to be with me; attempting to foster a positive and fairly natural connection with a marginalized part of the population.

I like doing this but today I needed a good kvetch. It is often challenging to take care of myself AND those around me too.

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