In The News

“TREE OF LIFE” 2002 22 x 14″ ceramic, graphite

Olivia and I made the newspaper this week.

“The Art of Feeling Better” in the New Mexican newspaper.

Such a lovely article revolving around the Healing Class taught by Daniel Villasenor I attend.

I now move around Santa Fe and people sidle up to introduce themselves and tell me stories of someone they know with MS or some other challenge and how they have sent on the article to them.

It feels very vulnerable to be so exposed in the disability portion of my life.

I looked at the photos and was almost startled that was me with a walker and wheelchair.

I care deeply about my community and the world at large.

It seems if we are gifted with any opportunity to make a difference it seems almost arrogant to refuse.

Core Of Goodness

hand-painted textile

Can a trip to the Verizon store feel like church?

Yesterday, I wrecked my phone by tossing it into the pouch of my walker. There was a cup of tea in there already…oops.

Since I have no land line my cell is my ticket to an extended life should I fall and not be able to get up so you can see why my next stop was the Verizon store..

The thing is- the main place to do this task actually feels like a trip to Satan’s lair; 2+ hours of waiting in enough electromagnetic
juice to fry bacon on one’s brain, close contact with irate, impatient people intent on their own ‘specialness’ and no chairs to rest in.

I went online to see if there was another location in town. YES!! and the reviews people had left were swimming with praise. This place was less that 2 miles away in downtown Santa Fe.

I was conversing with myself out loud as I walked toward the front door: “Cath- I know you have no energy and it is hot out here but you have to pull it together to do this.”

I opened the door and LO! I was the only customer! I walked to the counter and there was Derrill with a genuine smile and an evident kindness.

As we began my order I saw that standing for this transaction was not in the cards for this girl and so I sat. Derrill proceeded to walk me through my options, bring me paperwork and explain techy stuff by continuing to walk all the way from behind the counter to my chair and back as the time went on.

When I had to use the loo he went before me and opened the door for my safe passage.

Before I left the store I had every question answered, each task not needing me personally to perform completed by him and a bag with organized paperwork, new phone and a very full heart.

Ad so- was that experience all that different than church? Is that substantial feeling of communion that passes for kindness a lesser version of the reverence we seek in a house of worship? Perhaps.

All I’m saying is that in the midst of hot summer days with humanity massing in readiness for the high-season here, in Santa Fe there is a Verizon store with a guy in it named Derrill who plumped up my heart and made me feel happy to be alive in the most unlikely of places.

Blood Love

hand-painted silk

My sister, Jen is here for a visit. Last time we saw each other was two years ago. In that time she has packed up a family and moved to Chicago, endured 18 months of a commuting husband, 2 kids graduated from high school, one cat died, she found a new job in a new city, started book groups to attract like-minded people into their new life, decorated their new pied-a-terre with utter aplomb and showed up at my doorstep the other day looking spectacular.

I love my sister.

We are easy with one another. And we laugh.

We tell and re-tell the story of being fed ‘eggs goldenrod’ when we were young; poached eggs on toast with grated yellow egg yolk sprinkled on top and for dinner when Dad was responsible for us we were treated to bowls of orange juice with apples cut up and floating in it.

Then there was the gerbil she was so eager to give me which chomped down on my finger and I tried valiantly to shake it off (took awhile..).

These are the memories that make up sisterhood.

Here she is now with me- sitting on my elevated toilet seat, walking the dog, uber-cleaning my ENTIRE kitchen for me, eating chips for dinner, loading the walker into the car, telling me about city life and the kids and how it seems a legacy from our mother that we are aging so well!

My heart is happy to have her here. I feel so good about who we have become-together and separately.

I feel that low and deep hum that is family blood flowing strong and tenaciously. The river has always been there but in youth whipped up to a froth with misunderstandings, jealousy and the cruelty that often accompanies individuation.

Here we are, my sister and me..

Just sittin’ up here on the deck of a boat in that river with a beer..

Lookin’ out at the world with interest.

Quiet and content with the punctuation of laughter.

Got Shadow?

Did anyone ever get to a morning without going through some shadows?

Part of why I have some success negotiating this path marked “MS” (I say success because my attitude and general state of being has remained remarkably free of vitriol which is a common and understandable side effect of chronic illness)

Is that I insist on having an interesting life.

I have MS on my plate at the moment and it is she I turn to (not having to turn very far) to be curious about.

The religion of ‘woundology’ as I call it is seductive indeed. We can find members at every corner willing to put their story in the basket going around and thereby keep loneliness at bay.

I am certainly not saying I do not need support because surely I do. And a lot of it.

I see that my life as an artist has trained me in what it takes to be interested in and to NEED the shadow. I know how to muck around in it, adjust my eyes to it’s nuance, be surprised by it, humbled by it, decipher the language I find there, grab the gifts and get the hell out if I can.

Have a metaphorical martini and approach again.

Oh, how I could bore you with my story. Everyone’s got a bestseller going. Everyone. Chapters of mine are inescapable because I have the visual aids of walker and wheelchair. You may be afflicted by arthritis or your kid is doing drugs or the home you just bought is teeming with mold or maybe all that sun you seared yourself under as a teenager has turned into cancer. All hidden. All human. Each with the potential to bring the house of cards down.

What to do… What to do?

No one really knows much of anything, I find.

And that right there is the great and grand leveler in life; it is all an inside job and no one can do it for me but me.

And so.. I just try to make it interesting.

And when it isn’ isn’t.

But maybe that will change.

Like everything.

Admiration and Loneliness

ceramic, 7 x 2″

This week I am participating in an intensive taught by my yoga/Qigong instructor. People from far away places have made their way to Santa Fe to take part in this event; Italy, Portland, OR, Taos, NM. Sixty of us are tied together by one thing in particular: we desire some quality, some knowledge, some way of being in the world that we experience another person (our teacher) embodying.

Loneliness is built into admiration. I might feel someone else may be familiar with a quality or piece of the puzzle which, if I had access to it would help me add a pivotal piece to my own puzzle. I would then feel more whole or complete. The distance between the having and not having is undeniably lonely. Painful and exquisite at the same time.

I do not think completion is the goal, frankly. I prefer to court mystery and be astonished when in proximity to the next ‘thing’ for me. Or, perhaps it is not for me… Maybe the quality I admire is meant to just be admired and for me to feel that potent distance; the space between being the destination of the gift- and the stance of admiration being the gift itself.

Are You Bitter?

detail of painting on textile

In the past few days I have covered some ground, I tell you. I get up in the morning and strap on my AFO brace and then comes the bionic knee brace over that. I grab my walker to head to the loo. The dog walking which comes later is more of a roll as I unplug my wheelchair and grab some treats. I open the front door and untangle myself from the leash cord of a bouncing dog.

I swear. I apologize.

I roll over to the plywood ramp enabling me to make the shift in level between the flagstone and deep gravel. I cringe at the ramp’s paint color because it does not match the gravel it sits on and is a visual assault.

I shift into high gear to clear the deep driveway gravel and swerve and correct until we make it over to the more stable gravel road. I ply the dog with a treat as I take her in my lap and we tense ourselves for the brief but risky journey on the ‘big’ road. We wonder if the next car will be populated by a cell phone user in the midst of a painful marital spat and therefore crushes us in their oblivion.

We get to the safe road.

An out-of-the-package black dyed hair lady purposefully approaches us in warrior mode.

“I have high blood pressure” she says. ” When I see you coming down the street my hackles go up because I know your dog will poop in my yard and the poor mailman…” Unconsciousness begins to seep into me and I want to hit her.

I say: “You do not have to worry about me/us. I am a responsible dog poop-picker-upper.”

We roll on.