Dude..I Been Through Some Shit

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Last night I got so friggin’ sick of myself that I had to raise my frequency right quick.

I went directly for the sassiest red lipstick I have and applied with a brush (this method takes more time and signifies some adventure of note is about to take place.)

Keep in mind my Michigander roots embrace anything that feels like “weather” with a weird kind of anticipatory glee..

It was really cold last night but a sparkly, deep and dry cold with no wind.

I bundled Emma and myself up so we looked incredibly well put together in our winter wear, locked the door behind us and headed out.

I love how I can entertain myself out of depression by creating an event.

We headed downtown in search of Christmas lights; my red safety flashers creating a pink pool of light behind my wheelchair.

It was late-ish and little was open so we headed to a favorite hotel bar I knew to be cozy with a real fire and decorated lavishly for the season. A single woman never feels weird in a hotel bar and often Emma provides an easy conversational entry should I be inclined. Last night was just for us though.

Emma and I sat there quietly for over an hour soothed by the fire and a lovely glass of red wine.

It is too laborious for me to remove all my outerwear when in a restaurant and I am pretty heat tolerant so I sat there still bundled, sinking into thoughts of my rich life.

My sister tells me she is amazed by my resilience.

I am too truth be told.

Suffering can be an end-point or an impetus.

Some people make a religion out of it.

Granted, hardship is a way to connect; we all experience it to varying degrees. There will always be someone in agreement with how hard life is.

What we do with our suffering determines our state of being and quality of life.

If suffering is a constant companion there exists the danger of becoming too familiar with that frequency and settling in for the ride.

In the distant past when I attended support groups I found attendees comfortable in the habit of suffering.

I am fortunate to love my own company and be more interested in creating my own entertainment when need be.

Shifting my frequency ever higher on the spectrum is a skill I practice as my best medicine. I began learning about this in practical ways from this book:
Power vs. Force by David Hawkins.

In Dr. Hawkin’s work the example I gave above had me moving from the stasis of APATHY up the frequency ladder to COURAGE as I took action.

Here is a good beginning entry into his work.

Can -You -Copia?

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What is a cornucopia anyway?

This is my Thanksgiving morning conundrum.

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cor·nu·co·pi·a

noun
a symbol of plenty consisting of a goat’s horn overflowing with flowers, fruit, and corn.
an ornamental container shaped like a goat’s horn.
an abundant supply of good things of a specified kind.
“the festival offers a cornucopia of pleasures”
synonyms: an abundance, a profusion, a plentifulness, a profuseness, a copiousness, an amplitude, a lavishness, a bountifulness, a bounty

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Following a weird but vivid dream I was prompted to ask a friend if I had ever disappointed him in the past in a big way he might never have told me.

His answer really isn’t the point though..

Not one of us can claim never to have initiated disappointment in another…duh…

Many folks who love me look at my life and wish I had an easier ride.

If my life had not included a narcissist mother, alcoholic father, divorce, rape, illness, blah..blah..blah..

Would it have been “better”?

Easier, by god yes indeed..

But better?

We each have our laundry lists of suffering..some seeming more dramatic than others

But suffering is suffering.

If I had had an easier ride would I have disappointed fewer people because of less drama? Would I have had more of my wits about me to conjure less hurtful, unconscious behavior ?

What IS a good life anyway?

My definition is this:

A GOOD LIFE IS MADE BY AMPLIFYING THE GOOD.

This morning’s example is this: Petting Emma’s neck I have a wave of tidal love recognizing the fragility, strength, soft and noble beauty I have snoring on my lap.

I am being my own horn of plenty;

With my breath I blow the awareness

“I CREATE MY LIFE”

Into the thing

And the tears turn to diamonds

Because I say so.

(Sometimes it takes some heavy breathing..just FYI.)

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I give thanks to you, my dear readers who give me the gift of witness. You keep me real. xxx

Rollabout

detail “BLACK FOREST”, 2009, ceramic, sand, wood, 8’l x 18″h x 38″w

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HALF

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Half brittle
Half dampened yellow leaving leaves
Laid down
Under my half worn
Tires
Half-way
Downtown
This morning.

A half-grey sky
Spit half snow
And some rain
Onto Emma and me
As we cruised
At full speed
Dressed for the bitter
Except for mittens.

There were no croissants
And half-glad
I read my magazine
Half-judging
New mothers
Allowing
New humans
Full access
To the dirty floor
Of the coffeeshop.

Emma was half content
When we sped home
Before she was ready.
I was too cold
And half-assedly
Swore into the full headwind
Making sure
I pulled it completely together
Before crossing the street.

Barely just inside
My apartment door
Emma and I just sat there
Fully winter-clad
Still.
Silently, we waited five minutes;
Both heads half-mast
Waiting quietly
To de-frost.

You wouldn’t think
A day like today
Merited the label
“HALF FULL”
Would you?
However,
I am a fine specimen
Of full-on Michigander
And I say it is so.
Half in jest.

-CA 2018

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Cheer Up

“MOON” 5×3,painted wool flannel

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“Be of good cheer.”

A common greeting for the holidays we are about to enter.

It seems like this year something other may be called for?

Just the word “cheer” sets me on edge somehow.

Please don’t stop reading here as I promise this is anything but a depressing post…!

A girlfriend of mine recently posted something on Facebook revealing her mood which included tinges of grief, some ennui, immense gratitude and, what I felt was a lovely recounting of her early morning prayer/meditation peace and quiet.

She goes up on her roof each morning in the hill country of Texas with her cup of coffee and peruses the world; her inner one and the outer as well.

Someone on Facebook left her a comment: “I wish I could cheer you up.”

My friend reassured her that she had spent a perfect and peaceful morning thoroughly enjoying the quiet, contemplative time she had gifted herself.

Is it better to be of good cheer?

Maybe the friend would have felt easier in her bones if she witnessed an abject display of wide smiling, false-fineness and presumptive communion; common faces of holiday cheer.

My point here is that authenticity is a true gift we can give ourselves and one another particularly this year.

This holiday season feels more potent in a pagan sort of way.

“On every world, wherever people are, in the deepest part of the winter, at the exact mid-point, everybody stops and turns and hugs, as if to say, well done. Well done, everyone. We’re halfway out of the dark. ”
-unknown

The mysteries of the Dark, the preciousness of Light, the bitter chill inviting us indoors to sit close to those we love warmed by fire.

Quiet, stillness, gratitude, reflection, Nature sounds and smells, recognition of our needs being met and extension of loving care to those not so fortunate…

In this season these are the things that enrich my soul.

From the outside there may be no perceivable “tell”.

Innocent Eye

Emma is on my lap.

Snoring.

A violet, chilly sky

Leaves goosebumps on my tan arm.

Across the restaurant

Women of an age

Are laughing.

Lovely in beige sweater sets,

Iced pink lipstick

And martinis.

Businessmen near me

Are bored

With each other,

Waiting to go home.

The leather and silver bracelet

My sister gave me

Closes with a magnet.

It is likely

She paid more for that

Knowing my one-armed challenge.

I feel loved

Each moment

I notice it

On my wrist.

Emma just had dinner.

She skirted her pill.

As usual.

All she seems to want

Is to be with me.

If I lived with a man

Who had his eye on me

At all times

Like Emma does

I might stab him.

But I adore Emma’s looking.

My life is full of love.

It is there because I see it as such.

I am a professional voyeur.

My awareness meanders

And I linger on a neighbors’ call

Across the parking lot:

“Be safe!”

Or the pansies

My sister planted for me

When she visited.

Love is everywhere

If I keep an innocent eye.

A soft eye..

Not an expectant eye

But one easy to surprise.

The Edge of Empathy

I’ve come to understand that feeling empathy is a true luxury.

It seems like it should be a given that those with tender hearts should always have the ability to feel into another’s humanity.

The game changer is pain;

Any kind of pain; emotional, physical or spiritual.

Becoming intimate with physical pain over the last 6 months

A monstrous myopia repeatedly comes calling as an uninvited guest.

MYOPIA-
Definition of myopia
: a lack of foresight or discernment : a narrow view of something

I am an Aquarian soul with a penchant for depth and width and undying curiosity as a rule.

As an artist, space and freedom of movement in my mind-scape have been crucial to my evolution.

Pain is confining

And shrinks my heart’s capacity.

I hate having all my attention on myself.

But it’s hard to re-direct the grip of contraction.

The fact that I am just now learning about the unwelcome effects of living inside this confounded contraction

Says a great deal about growing up in the 1%.

Affluence buffers one from the lion’s share of suffering in most cases.

So the luxury of empathy for others is truly a gift

We, the privileged are blessed to extend

When we find so much extra energy left over after we do what we need to do making a life.

I think there may be much wisdom for me scuttling around in the shadows of this newly contracted life I am visiting for the moment.

I want so much to say: “Shooo! Get along with you now! You are not welcome here! BE GONE!”

But I can’t.

I will bow my head and learn whatever fucking thing I am supposed to learn.

It likely has something to do with putting my own needs above others.

(Oh yeah…that again…) 🙂

I Bit the Hook

ceramic,7x4x1/2″

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I went down the rabbit hole in conversation with a person close to me with differing political views.

I knew this was unproductive from the start and staved it off a bit

But entered the fray anyway.

It feels embarrassing to witness my unchecked little self.

The tsunami of desperately needing someone to understand my truth

And value it

Was a force

I did not understand as ego.

Such wasted energy in the end.

I do not have the skill of detachment in this political clime.

Putting my precious life-force toward pieces of the pie where I can actually make a difference is my direction for today.

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“….we grab at pleasure and try to avoid pain, but despite our efforts, we’re always alternating between the two. Under the illusion that experiencing constant security and well-being is the ideal state, we do all sorts of things to try to achieve it: eat, drink, drug, work too hard, spend hours online or watching TV. But somehow we never quite achieve the state of unwavering satisfaction we’re seeking. At times we feel good: physically nothing hurts, and mentally all’s well. Then it changes, and we’re hit with physical pain or mental anguish. I imagine it would even be possible to chart how pleasure and pain alternate in our lives, hour by hour, day after day, year in and year out, first one and then the other predominating.

But it’s not impermanence per se, or even knowing we’re going to die, that is the cause of our suffering, the Buddha taught. Rather, it’s our resistance to the fundamental uncertainty of our situation. Our discomfort arises from all of our effort to put ground under our feet, to realize our dream of constant okayness. When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment, or awakening to our true nature, to our fundamental goodness. Another word for this is freedom—freedom from struggling against the fundamental ambiguity of being human.”

-from LIVING BEAUTIFULLY WITH UNCERTAINTY, by Pema Chodron

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Oh my god….Where is God?

best photo I ever took (says me..)

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Acck!!!! The world is a mess!

It always was actually but these days feel so raw and gruesomely change-filled and my person-hood is bruised and bereft.

Oh my god. Where are You?

What is a spiritual life anyway?

For me- valuable spiritual work is about sometimes undoing and unloading the mind rather than its continual enrichment.

Creating space rather than filling it.

Getting quiet instead of adding to inane conversation.

Saying “I don’t know” when I don’t.

When desire rules my senses..give something to another.

Recognize humility and vulnerability as exalted states.

Live as an inter-dependent human.

Respect Life. ALL Life.

Protect and support the weak, small, infirm.

Find space more interesting than form.

Beware of too comfortable a life.

Learn and claim my worth.

Keep working to exercise and refine my “voice”.

Try not to leave appreciation unexpressed.

Find Beauty in every thing…EVERY thing. Yes, even that.

Recognize when I am triggered by something or someone it usually means something in me needs healing.

Guilt, blame, shame are impotent uses of my energy.

Doing what I can to raise my frequency as a human is the most productive thing I know to do.

Remember that Love is a state of being and not a feeling. Do all I can to get there and stay there.

Because that is God to me.

So Much Isn’t a Problem

monoprint,22×30

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It’s weird that grappling with health gone awry or the nauseating politics of the day

Scratches the same strange itch;

The one that says we are better for being in the fight.

The horrible pseudo-holiness sewn into feelings of self-worth

Stemming from actively participating in the fray

As opposed to very quietly witnessing

Seduces us.

The adrenaline rush of acute pain

And screeching disbelief in flawed human behavior on display of late

Feel similar.

Are we really better for being in the fight?

Reading about it, talking about it, going to every doctor, taking every new pill

Or is there more potency in just the recognition of WHAT IS

FOR THE MOMENT

And using our own finite energy reserves

To attempt just a tidbit of elevation

Of our own personal energy frequency;

Maybe lift ourselves up a tad

Out of the mud.

Love ourselves enough not to succumb

To the lowest common denominator

As tempting to our nervous system

Out of habit

As this inclination may be.

Today I will practice

Not involving myself so much in the dramas of the day in my body and in the world.

I will trust in the intelligence I understand to be

So much larger than me

And use any extra energy I have

To keep myself uplifted

And through this state

Perhaps be of service to others.

Armoring Up

my garden

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I am noticing how mega-herculean my mind is.

Pain and muscle spasm have been my partners pretty constantly for about a month now.

In order to function I try to disassociate from my body and default into my head.

This sets up an unholy schism.

This tactic feels oddly good because so much work has to go into bypassing the pesky physical form

And our culture has taught us that working very hard DOING STUFF, THINKING STUFF, PRODUCING STUFF

Gives us a gold star.

In the news I watch the theater of evidentiary exchange.

It really isn’t that hard to find support for any opinion you might have.

The thing I am noticing is the penchant for bypassing the body in favor of the seduction of the mind.

Watching the current sparring in the halls of justice provides a perfect laboratory.

How do I decide who to believe when forming my own opinion?

A most potent power women in particular possess seems to me to be

The ability to recognize the brain we have

AND

The archive of knowledge generated by FEELING our existence through our physical form.

This skill set is what we need to be mothers to our children.

We are masters of hypervigilance.

The boon of this innate registration of subtlety allows women a width of awareness

With far more gravitas than a defended or “heady” response.

The negative side of this can look like adrenal exhaustion from just taking in too much life.

For me to heal I am being very tender with myself in part by backing off the “fight” not to feel.

An immediate softness makes its self known as I allow the messages my body wants me to feel.

My tender heart seems to have all the room in the world for the stuff I wear armor to avoid.

Avoidance seems to equal armoring

Which feels and looks so hard.

It certainly has weight

But the kind so very far from the ground.

Giving What I Did Not Get

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I think I am not the only human who stresses out about whether I am using my life well.

There is this hamster wheel rolling in my pesky brain

With me as generator

Endlessly on the quest

For the “rightest”

Of right action.

Gotta write my book, exercise, clean my desk, do all the “to-do” stuff.

Yesterday evening Santa Fe had the clearest blue violet umbrella of a sky.

I took myself to my favorite outdoor patio for a light dinner.

My server was Ian.

He introduced himself with a flat affect; pleasant but dis-engaged somehow.

A large table of folks were seated near me and we were the only patrons.

It was easy to hear Ian interact as he took food and drink orders.

He extended himself far beyond the call of duty

Kindly answering questions like: “What is the size of the tortilla?” and “Is your tap water safe to drink?”

I was dehydrated and he kept his eye on the disappearing act of my Arnold Palmer glass.

When the bill came I said: “Ian..you are really good at your job. I’ve listened to you all evening and you are kind, capable and unobtrusive. You are elegant in your serving style and I just wanted to tell you.”

His demeanor moved from the flat affect to the hidden blooming man waiting just underneath his “work-mode” skin.

Ian seemed quite overcome by my comments and thanked me profusely as he now moved around the restaurant with the nobility of a king.

I rolled away so taken by how affected he was by my simple acknowledgement.

After all is said and done my sense is that

ALL WE REALLY WANT AND NEED TO THRIVE IS REGULAR ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF OUR INNATE WORTH.

The hamster wheel is pretty much beside the point.

Next time you find yourself thinking a good thing about someone

SAY WHAT IS SO

Out loud so you both can hear it.

We are all so hungry.

And easy to feed.

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photo credit- Gay Block

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Good Question

detail of painting,m/m

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Sometimes when I am asked: “Cath..how are you?”

I don’t really know.

My landscape is so varied and I skip between optimism and being a realist

Almost moment by moment.

Isolation becomes my safe place

Until I get so sick of myself I remember

Connection with vulnerability, humor, sass, curiosity and adventure

Light me up.

I have a friend who forged a relationship by bombarding me with questions.

It was shocking, endearing, sexy and courageous.

I love being asked things…almost anything actually.

I sense people shy from any intimate query around me

Perhaps afraid they’ll get more than they bargained for?

If you wanted to know me these are some questions I might welcome (always with the option of saying I can’t or don’t want to answer that right now!):

1. What was the best thing that happened to you today?

2. Did you see, hear, read something particularly great?

3. Were you lonely today at all?

4. What is it like for you to get ready in the morning?

5. What scares you?

6. What is the best thing about MS? The worst?

7. Do you miss your old life? Would you go back?

8. Who would you invite to a fantasy dinner party if you could have 6 people of your choosing, living or dead?

9. What do you think is your best, not so good quality?

10. Do you like your voice?

11. What do you think your hands say about you?

12. Who is a hero for you?

13. Is there anyone you have not forgiven but are thinking about it?

14. Are you friendly with your body?

15. What stories do you think people tell about you without really knowing you at all?

A Clean Compassion

hand-painted silk robes

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The human condition is not all about comfort.

Blessed are we who get some.

I used to think being a compassionate person meant doing the best I could to attempt re-creating all the feelings, drama, grief, loss or whatever a person was experiencing

INSIDE MYSELF IN SOLIDARITY.

I finally realized that no…this “taking on of the other’s experience” just leaves me exhausted

And unable to be of any kind of help to my friend.

It seems that being a clear witness for another is the best way to serve those we love.

Initially, I found this uncomfortable

Thinking I was not feeling enough or strangely numb to the situation.

It took a long time to segue into a clean compassion.

When friends give me the gift of attentive clear witness

I am so grateful.

The power of this is I feel utterly safe to express myself fully understanding they have the security to just “hold” for me

And not take on my shit, insist on fixing or doing whatever to maneuver away from the smelly bits.

That scenario often ends up with me having to take care of THEM in some way and I am further exhausted..

It was a great day when I realized there is no hierarchy to pain or suffering.

It is what it is. Mine is not greater or less than your own. Pain is pain. Suffering is suffering.

We all have it yet we are champion gymnasts trying to get away from it.

We NEED all those conditions we consider BAD

In order to recognize the good, grand, sacred and Divine

Or to push up against to maybe evolve into a shinier version of ourselves.

A person with a patina is far more intriguing to me than someone living with a vinyl plastic covering like those used on a couch to repel soiling.

Solidarity surfaces from the recognition of our shared human experience.

When I am quiet with you in your confusion

All our ancestors sit there with us;

Heads bowed..

Holding for us both

That which is beyond the strength of mere mortals.

After that they help us rise

With a quick fanny swat

Urging us further down a road

We never need to walk alone.

Saved

“LIGHT”, 6’x4′,m/m

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Reflecting on what I wrote in my last post about Freedom

This sentence just kind of stopped me: “The health challenge of MS saved me.”

Now- What the hell does that mean?

I had to go back and really think about it myself because this tidbit of wisdom just sort of snuck out unbeknownst to my consciousness at the time. (often I write stream-of-consciousness which is how I learn
where I need to put my attention).

“Saved from what?” I asked myself.

Change, challenges and particularly crises are bitter pills.

There are many reasons freedom is my top value (theme of last post); first and foremost in my youth I lived with the mother-message: “Cathy-do NOT bypass me with your energy! ANY of it..sexuality, creativity, gregariousness” ..et al.

I have forgiven her for this psychic compression of me because I now am strong enough to call up compassion for the lure she sucombed to, needing to punish SOMEone for her unhealed shit.

Being a stubborn human as I am I guess I needed a giant wallop of a gritty scenario to push up against to realize my Self (capital “S”);

To release all the armor, protective measures and survival strategies I created to ensure I allowed myself the experience of my essential self.

THIS is how the challenges of MS have saved me…my perseverance has shown my innate knowledge of and loyalty to doing what it takes to RETURN TO MY ORIGINAL SELF.

What I offer you here is the privilege of coming along on my ride in all of its unvarnished WABI-SABI wonderfulness.

Often not very pretty

But very, very real.

This level of vulnerability seems in short supply.

I try to remember if it is true for me then it may be so for others.

I call it a privilege because whether you judge or champion you are privy to the mechanics of a woman BECOMING.

My observations and exposure here are of huge value to me as I have the benefit of a computer screen between us as a buffer allowing intimacies perhaps too timid to appear face-to-face.

Thank you for wading in these rippling waters with me.

Profoundly less lonely.

And way more fun.

xxxx…

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

Everything, Everything

ceramic, high fired

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My existence in a wheelchair puts my perspective about 2 feet below yours in all likelihood.

My current penchant for going down to the Santa Fe Plaza very early in the morning has the effect of an archaeological dig at times.

This morning I saw deep brown skinned, old Mexican men lifting giant glass containers filled with fresh watermelon juice as they readied their street vendor food cart.

Pigtailed girls ran deliriously after taunting pigeons.

Native Americans sat stoically tolerating the tourist gum-chewing and innocent disrespect; their eyes slightly glazed and hungry at the same time.

I loved my soft awareness with its desire to attach itself to the surprisingly graceful choice the city gardeners made of planting corn in the large pots used to direct traffic.

Perception stayed cool and comfortably low..

Humored by high-heeled, polyester suit-clad women teetering blindly while worshiping their phones.

I could see their crowded thoughts buzzing like flustered bees above their hair.

The stately trees generously buffered the sun.

I was in love with it all; the clear air and green smell mixed with surreptitiously smoking folks trying to get small in their shame and pleasure.

The low down suits me.

All these different levels and layers of perception invisible to the others but carrying wiggling and lively realities unique to each.

How very much we miss by remaining in our familiar territories.

The lower I get the quieter I become.

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Change

Emma and me at The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

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Mike Tyson, the fighter said: “Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.”

I think one of the gifts I have to offer is my willingness to share with you all some of the welcome surprises and utter shit that can happen as we age or challenged by illness and are confronted with loss of our carefully crafted and beloved identities.

I can think about change all I want; make lists of intentions, affirmations, to-do’s and desires

But the important personal life “re-boots” never happen

Until we get excruciatingly bored, over-the-top sick of ourselves

Or we are forced to shift in some way.

Comfort and familiarity usually win out over consciousness

Because change is messy, inconvenient, humbling, embarrassing and fucking hard work.

The good fortune of getting flattened by disability like me

Is the option of choosing to entertain change was not even on the table.

I had to/have to…

And, inside moulding my new identities

I think about things you may not.

As an example- I think about Death more than most people because I feel my mortality deeply and want to grab juicy Life while I can..

Not like I want to check out but more to let Death inform my Life, ride on my shoulder; help me make choices that add up to the treasure that is me.

The thing is- living at depth (I call it) can challenge people.

The last post I wrote (topics like Death,suicide,too sensitive for the world..) brought a slew of PLEASE UNSUBSCRIBE ME‘s to my inbox.

I don’t want to be off-putting or lose readership so I deleted the offending post.

I now have the all-too-familiar sensation in my essence of shrinking my soul to fit…

Clearly not healing!

So- I am inside some of the messy parts of evolving my Self to Whole.

As Mike Tyson was saying in the quote above- not a one of us can ever know how we will react in the aftermath of the punch.

My writings here are part of my way.

I am working on not apologizing for taking up space in the ways I do.

The Loveliness of the Little Good

STORMY WEATHER, 44×44,m/m

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The title for this post came from the David Brooks article I just read referencing the new documentary on Mr. Rogers.

There were so many weird things about Fred Rogers to make fun of if you weren’t a kid:

His voice made me kind of want to attach a jet engine equipped with mega-doses of testosterone to his voice box to make him talk faster.

To me, he seemed too slow, too overtly gay, too simple and at first blush, too patronizing of children.

He was a fun object of ridicule from my generation

Because we didn’t need him so much.

We were not the ones to be confused as to why the adults would not let us swim in pools containing black people.

When Kennedy was shot we were reduced to stoney silence in the face of all the adults breaking around us; The salve of Mr. Rogers was for those smaller than us. We had nowhere to turn.

I saw the documentary and realized every single syllable, inflection, clothing choice, topic discussed

Were intentionally chosen

To foster his one mission:

TREAT CHILDREN AS THE HIGHLY INTELLIGENT AND FEELING BEINGS THEY ARE.

He spoke slowly and put his face close to the child.

No question was stupid.

“Mr. Rogers..can I be sucked down the bathtub drain with the water?”

He replied softly and evenly: “No, Bobby..just the water goes down the drain.”

Phew.

He gave up his desire to enter the ministry in lieu of understanding he could be of service to his chosen congregation of tiny people in other ways.

He was not gay as his measured and intentionally soft voice suggested but married to a lovely woman who supported his unwavering attention to how best to use TV as his educational tool of choice.

Disability, racism, divorce, death, step-parenting, illness, loneliness, single parenting, riots, bullying, shyness…..each of these topics Fred Rogers approached with the assumption kids were very ok with the truth if presented kindly and without the slime of patronization.

In an interview I read, the black policeman character Mr. Clemmons said that once Fred Rogers had leaned in quite close and looked him in the eye saying: “I like you as you are. I wouldn’t want to change you.”

Instead of feeling the vulnerable expression maudlin Mr. Clemmons said he felt truly seen and loved.

He never forgot it.

When I roll around my neighborhood in my wheelchair and, with intention, extend a small “Good Morning” to most I pass

I get to see the seeming shock a verbal invitation to join in solidarity, if only for a moment, from a stranger can elicit.

It is my version of “I like you as you are”

And each time I see relief

At this tiny recognition

Of our shared

Shuffle

Down a sometimes very gritty road indeed.

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