“CLOSE” 40 x 40″ m/m
I’m exploring my new neighborhood which seems cast in endless concrete but there is a little patch of grass Livvy and I go to each early morning and evening for her to relieve herself. She hides in long grasses and gets the privacy any girl needs.
As I wheel around here I have become a pied piper of sorts for kids mesmerized by the wheelchair and teenagers keeping just enough distance to remain cool as they take in the scene of me with dog, roses on the wheelchair, their wee and uncool brothers negotiating me up close and personal and most of all everybody getting respectful and interested attention from an adult.
Coming home this evening there was a white low rider Ford truck whose driver lowered his window and waved to me.
I thought: I can always recognize someone who has dealt with disability in their own lives by the easy effort they exhibit to greet me with none of the usual overcompensatory fear and weirdness which naturally comes with unfamiliarity.
My heart goes wide at the brief but almost sacred recognition.
I suddenly feel beautiful, important, vital and worthy.
Such a seemingly little thing.
But clearly not.
I find myself using this image I created from so long ago more than any other.
Well- it gives me a visceral experience of courage, the great unknown, the Big Mystery, hope and the sense of: “What the hell else is there to do, Cath, but move forward?”
I am uninterested in drama and the forthcoming laundry list of recent life ‘opportunities’ is an attempt to fill in THE VERY BIG BLANK I left you all with on this blog:
* move out of long-time beloved home and into rental until new apartment opens up (thinking 2 weeks).
* rental place is very inaccessible, dirty, depressing and dark.
* after over 1 month I must find new place to live as tenants returning to rental.
* move again to hotel w/ cooking facilities
* stay there another month
* FINALLY apartment is ready!!!!
* move in and love it.
* washer and bath flood apartment 3x. Construction company puts me up at Holiday Inn while my floors are jackhammered.
* stay 6 days
* FINALLY I am given the go-ahead to move back home.
And here I sit at my own computer writing to you from my lovely though not as yet fully unpacked, HOME.
Now- for an able-bodied person these challenges would be just that- challenges. For someone in my position with challenged abilities they border on deadly as stress wreaks havoc and fatigue curtails the necessary tasks of living (like eating and exercising and grooming). Yes- I was a dirty girl at times..
I lost weight. I lost functionality. I couldn’t access creativity.
I read. Watched cable TV. Made trips to the library to use a computer. Took Livvy for rolls around parking lots surrounding hotels. Went deep inside myself and spoke to very few friends. I isolated because I had nothing to say and no energy or inclination to be acceptable company.
I got depressed.
Then I got ok again.
And so forth and so on…
I waited in stasis mode for a respite and tried not to beat myself up for all the things I wasn’t/couldn’t/didn’t want to do.
What was the lesson in all of it?
What was I to learn?
This life of mine could be titled: “THE GREAT UNDOING”
Who I was, ISN’T here anymore.
Who I am is a work in progress; messy, raw, real, separate, connected, grateful, angry, tired, curious, lively, fun and not.
Honestly… I’m getting more honest… I am disappointed in myself and others less often. I can usually find the gold given enough time.
What interests me most right now is setting up my life to return into life WITH that very gold; by writing, speaking, connecting.
I really hit the wall yesterday regarding the level of patience demanded of me as I await my apartment. It was ugly. Raw venom. People with access to lawyers would NEVER put up with this abuse from the city inspectors no-showing to appointments at my future apartment building and the constant move-in dates set and cancelled since January. Almost 4 months of waiting. It is all insanity provoking.
I let it pass through me and two hours later as I watched our country’s response to the unimaginable tragedy in Boston and now Texas I had to adjust my perspective to recognize that what I have are fancy problems comparatively. Perspective is everything. When you can get it.
On another subject entirely:
I am not really sure what mag wheels are exactly but I like thinking about them and saying the word. I took delivery of my new wheelchair yesterday and IT IS SO COOL AND TECHIE LOOKING. Called QUANTUM, it’s wheels are large and deep tread, body is pewter grey and matte black and distance capacity is 15 miles as opposed to the one mile on my current used model (gifted to me two years ago). My new one comes via Medicaid many months in the making and I was prepared to ‘shut up and make do’ aesthetically and functionally but NOOOOOOOOOOOOO need. My Detroit genes are quivering at the speed potential.
Reality check: I am excited about a wheelchair… How did I get here?????????????
Well…Here I am still in wait mode for my apartment. It interests me how the essence of a place can be so alive and either nurturing or not. Here, I have had an opportunity to rest deeply on all levels and catch up a bit on what has been a full 5 months of high stress in my housing transition conundrums. Since I am so good at soldiering my way through challenges I tend to forget what stress does to MS.. It really is scarily apparent the ground I have lost as I begin to relax and recoup. I rest, read, self-medicate with cable TV and eat consciously.
I get in trouble when I isolate myself due to fatigue. Yesterday, I went into downtown Santa Fe and tooled around with a good girlfriend and Livvy. I noticed how happy I was and able to be present with various people we met on the street because I had the support of my friend. She has what I call ‘wide-vision’ and sees possible obstacles before we get there and remedies the situation which paves the way for me to relax. Just little things like moving chairs out of the way and opening doors.
I honestly don’t know how I do this path I am on alone. I just do what I have to do and am beyond grateful for the support and kindness I come in contact with more often than not; surprise conversations of depth with strangers, miracle offers of financial help, my family’s continual ‘got your back, Cath.’
Life is good.
ps… forgive me for not responding to emails you send me through this site. my mail system won’t let me until I can access my desktop computer.
I am beyond content in my little hotel room. This is really the first time I have lived with a fully outfitted handicapped living space and it really makes all the difference in the world; roll-in shower, low sinks, elevated commode.
Everything is spotlessly clean and no toxic cleaning odors. My needs are simple and here I have it all, albeit Spartan. If this last 5 months of living in stressful ‘find-a-suitable-new-home’ mode have taught me anything it is this:
I need beauty like I need air. For me this is not extravagant or gold-plated. It simply means SIMPLE. Unfettered energy, light, uncluttered, airy, uncomplicated, healthy, easy on the eyes and body.
When I moved to New Mexico 25 years ago from Michigan I had to train my eyes and being to live with space. New Mexico IS space. Energy travels with no obstacles. The colors are muted, shy even. So different from the enclosures of forests and moisture-laden vanilla skies. The sky here is unapologetically a riveting color of blue which acts like the best qualities of a wee bit of valium for me.
The allure of ‘stuff’ has dropped many, many layers in the tapestry of my value system. I am decidedly content in my nest.
Instructions for living a life.
Tell about it.
- Mary Oliver
I love her so much I feel ok calling her “Mare.”
I am paying attention all right..
Paying attention to my tired skin and psyche as I shift abodes once again.
I am astonished by the friends I have in my life who are here, shoring me up and ‘re-membering’ my phantom limbs which now are adrift in their own orbit it seems.
I am astonished I still have the curiosity and capability to keep waking up and donning my favorite red lipstick as I re-enter the world to see what lights and shadow I see.
Here I am telling you about it..
Telling you the chessboard intrigues me.
And I still got game.
If you look closely at this sculpture you can see hundreds of little hook-shapes resting in what, for me, is a boat.
It really is a self portrait.
I remember the day I made it thinking of myself as a boat floating quietly on a smooth lake during a moonlit night.
I wanted to pull the light down into my dark.
I am familiar with the dark.
I’ve befriended it over time.
The hook-shapes in the piece are testament to my desire to glean.
My tendency to harvest.
I love this piece.
The underside is a world unto itself.
Pocked here, smooth there..
And the fundamental shape of an egg.
Fragile. Meant to be broken. Giving birth. Then discarded.
I am that.
A very real swamp the chronically ill can muck around in is the tendency to have all energy focussed on one’s self for too long
And thereby forgetting altogether about miracles, wonder, awe and magic.
I get so sick of myself sometimes.
But who is the ‘I’ who witnesses her ‘self’
And what is she hungry for?
My larger Self (capital ‘S’)
Is reminded, in the nick of time
Of Her unlimitedness
See more at VISUAL MD
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 began this blog almost three years ago with the title: “HEALING THROUGH MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS.”
For a long time it felt right as I continued be introduced to the changes taking place in my body and look at what they had to teach me.
Everybody needs a new suit of clothes once in awhile and so, as you see- I have changed a few things here, most notably the name.
What does “LIVING UNDONE” mean?
Well… I think of it sort of like a blank canvas; all this stuff you thought you were is blasted away by something-or-other and you have the chance to re-make yourself..
I have never been that interested in talking much about the various symptoms associated with MS.
When I do it tends to make them worse as I direct my consciousness there.
I keep myself out of any physical or emotional or spiritual downward spiral by staying curious; curious about reasons why they might be occurring beyond western medical explanations, who I am becoming as a result of the challenges on my plate, who I want to be within them, how others are affected, the unexpected gifts woven into facing head on situations I’d rather not and thought I couldn’t and what things are important to me now and what isn’t.
The way my consciousness works within my current experience is not really that different than the 30 years I spent as a fine artist.
I make a mark (decision) and stand back to check it out.. does it enhance the whole?… does it feel good in my body?… is it necessary?..
am I proud of it?.. is it elegant? simple? graceful? nourishing? nurturing? elevating? could I and everyone else live without it? am I better for it?
I could go on here but you get the drift..
Sort of making my life my art.
Granted, this doesn’t work all the time and the ‘art’ gets pretty ugly…
I NEED to have an interesting life.
That is solely up to me.
I just try to take the hand I’ve got and play it the best I can.
It sucks that I can’t have a deep and leggy glass of wine as I sit at the table and play out the game…
But I can always wear a great dress and throw on some lipstick.