Reach and Rest

“RENAISSANCE” 2008, 10 x 3′, earth, wood

When I saw this short video I thought:

“Well, yeah.. I know the feeling.”

Except I hang out far longer in the rest periods.

Far, far longer…yep.

The intimate negotiations of my days have to have a somewhat laser quality to them

For me to remain upright, engaged with life, washed, fed, forgiving of myself and others, calm, inspired and most of all- grateful.

Here I am.. another day… and onward I go into the unknown of it all.

Here we all go into the big unknown.

Then tomorrow if we’re fortunate, we’ll get to do it again.

At the moment it’s tiring to even think of it

But the alternative is just not interesting to me.

Pushing Back Against Chaos

detail of ceramic sculpture

I wonder why my life has not been an easier ride?

I am talking relatively here as I’m fully aware I live in a place where all my basic survival needs are handled.

This very recent news I must relocate soon has awakened the specter of shame in me.

Shame because I do not have the luxury of leading a hidden life anymore- most of my life-theater is known by family and friends.

My vulnerabilities, strength, challenges, wins and losses on all levels are quite public.

People know exactly what is in my closet, how often I have to pee, my financial life is public and my have’s and have not’s have lost the sheen of privacy.

This is so partially out of choice as I write as an offering to you here

However, as I live alone without the support of another human in my home to witness me in these challenges I face

I have had to reach out to friends and family for help. In that reaching my life becomes quite transparent.

The rest of my family seem like they have such tidy lives.

I am not sure of this because they have not needed me as a support or shared the shadowy corners inherent in their own lives.

And so- I get caught in thinking they don’t have any.

And I feel ashamed about mine.

I do not have the luxury of a secret life.

On one hand this is a relief but my next breath has the familiar heaviness to it.

The only salve I have found for the quivering that arrives with uber-transparency is the act of staying right with WHAT IS…

Not what I wish for but what actually IS and the truly authentic life I am building by the very act of living with the pricks and prods of what feels unbearably vulnerable at times.

MS has helped me get real.. really real.


If God offered me the opportunity for a ‘do-over’ life would I take it?

No… a thousand times no.

And why? Because I got this hand and I am playing it the best way I know how and it has changed me from an armored tank into a woman of substance;

A warrioress on the fields of chaos and more innocent and unapologetic in repose.

Know Who You Are

“GIRL” 18 x 3″ ceramic

MS is the great humbler.

It takes one down.

But then we get up.

And we look into our own eyes in the mirror and see the one of us who had previously remained hidden-

The life-warrioress, the inner adventurer, brave and ferocious dark forest enterer..

Lipstick wielding, clear-eyed watcher,

Hermitess, songstress-to-her-dog.

I am all that.

And so much more.

So much more I’ve yet to be.

Look at this before going any further…

Is humble so bad?

Does my wobbly gait render me graceless?

Can’t you see how much closer to you I can be now?

How the space between us is electrified

Now that I’ve stopped putting so much energy into an often inauthentic smile.

I Am A Boat – republished..

“FINE LINE” detail, 1999, m/m

I am a boat.

Not a Chinese junque. – (my blood is too foreign though I do wish it wasn’t).

Well.. perhaps a gleaming and slippery, “Have a martini”, 40′ ode to speed? – (I’d lose the key..).

Maybe that great outboard motorboat we used up at the lake to go bass fishing as the dawn steam rose and we, wee ones still with sleep in our eyes? – (Oh, I did love the control!)

What about a catamaran? Sliding and cutting so deftly through..intent on getting ‘there’ FAST!.. The constant thrill of capsizing the thing?- (Nope).

I could be a giant cargo ship with all the ballast I’d ever need in rough seas.. (No beauty in all that safety and way too much metal. I’m not that fond of metal, anyway).

A folded paper boat adrift on an even pond? – (Not enough substance or staying power).

I will be a canoe.

My own ship carved of a tree so I will remember dry land should I turn toward forgetting.

It will hold one.

Two or three if I so choose.

My family and friends will have helped me carve the thing.

We will have sung songs and toasted it’s doneness before they hand me two paddles and I pause to bow (to them and it) before I step in alone.

I will push off the beach and settle my frame into the curve of the tended wood.

I will not look back.

I am not sad. I will cut the glassy sheen of the lake

And lean into my direction.

I pull the water to me

And let it empty behind.





The rhythm lifts me.

And the work is not.

I am free.

Destination is uninteresting.

I just stay with the impossible beauty.

In raw weather

I huddle in the rain and wind

Sometimes, just yielding to the whim of the lake

Because it is bigger than me.

In the morning with wet and straggly hair

I peek outside my parka.

The way seems clear

Though I do not know where I am.

A loon sets me straight

And my paddle meets the waters.

I sing.
-C. Aten 2011


“CATERPILLAR” 2004, 14 x 3″, ceramic

An interesting blip has raised it’s head.

I must find a new place to live.

I gave myself a few hours to collapse in a puddle of victim-soup

And then I raised my head, dripping with OMG’s and why me?

I washed my face and put on fresh lipstick and took the dog for a walk.

When I spoke of boredom in the last post I was speaking of just this:

Being at the effect of ANY situation is a gargantuan bore to me.

Even this prospective domicile shift has me now turning it into an adventure which is far more satisfying. Even exciting.

My body can not even approach thinking about the mechanics of a physical move and in the interest of not exacerbating MS I have to know all the help I need to make this eventual change happen will be there for me.

The specifics of this are rife with opportunity to blame, make wrong, hang out in anger and do what we all tend to do when life just doesn’t go our way and we are tossed out of the comfort zone we cherish.

My life thus far has not been so much about comfort. In some ways yes.. I live in the United States and have been privy to the best of the best.

For now- I am being asked to see that comfort is here for a time and then it is not and then it is again.

The thing that seems to matter most at the moment is to be able and GAME to CREATE MY OWN COMFORT ZONE which has always depended on finding life interesting at the very least as well as looking for the gold dust inherent in any situation; THE BIG MYSTERY in seeing beyond the black hole has saved me more than once.

I want my life to be like an IMAX theater!

Switching back and forth between observer and participant and back again;

‘I am petting my dog… There I am petting Olivia’ or this: ‘Stretching out my leg like this feel incredibly great… ‘That stretch seemed to lengthen my leg.’

Small things like these.. not meant for the marquee.

And so.. you can today picture me paying my few dollars at the ticket office of the theater, still wet from my recent swim in the murky waters of “OH! woe is me!” and curling into the intimate wrap of the chair watching “CATHY’S LIFE” big as life in surround sound with a slight but easy smile on my relaxed and open but slightly tattered face.

A link to Reality check:

Boredom As Freedom

detail of painting

Boredom has often been a harbinger of big change for me.

I have paid attention to it for long enough now to realize that the state of boredom is my nemesis; I will do what it takes to make it go away.

I am bored by having 90% of my life energy directed toward taking pills, effortful ambulation, saying no instead of yes, feeling the built-in separation between me and Life as I negotiate a physical/emotional/spiritual challenge like MS.

The whole thing bores me…

Having all this energy directed toward my self feels unnatural and unfulfilling.

It has been 12 years now that have found me dealing with this diagnosis and it’s accompanying landscapes, most of which are colored by decline of some sort.

But not all..

I have been the ‘constant farmer’ and faithfully turned the ground in my fields each season. Few corners of my soul have escaped scrutiny. I’ve taken my bent and rusty shovel and used this illness to grow myself a new Self.

And now I am tired and bored.

What comes next? I wonder…

I am bored and free.