installation, 2009, red earth from Jemez, NM, ceramic, plants


I remember a bargaining with God phase in my life..


Who are we kidding here?

Just the other day I was saying: “Dear God. If you give me the strength to go to this lecture tonight, I will clean my desk tomorrow. For real.”

Over the years I have read too many spiritual books espousing the right way to pray: never with supplication, FEEL it first in your body, a wish or half-baked desire will never work, say it once then let it go…

Then there have been the various teachers I have respected expecting us to pray to their deities but the names were all wrong and the relationships I imagined with them were just that – imagined.

I realized I had so much anxiety about how to do it that I WAS NOT EVEN TRYING anymore.

For me- life feels flat if I am not connected in to something larger than me.

This I call God.

One of the true gifts of living with a chronic illness is the probable eventuality that we are taken to our knees.

The view from here may feel unfamiliar but when we finally get there we are VERY sure we cannot do our days and nights alone any longer.

And so we pray.

My prayers of late are fierce and sometimes said punctuated by sobs and erie animal-like sounds.

They are demanding, angry sometimes, confused and truly supplicant.

Other times my prayers are stitched together with gratitude and this kind of communion feels so right and good and genuine.

Lately, I prayed for a booster injection of hope.

The very next morning I woke to a softened heart and an urge to create and connect.

This is God’s language to me.

Willing my life’s direction has become boring, uninspiring, disconnected and far from the sacred.

“Dear God, please burn away anything and everything that separates me from you. Use me. Use me up. I will wait to hear back from you.”

Money + Strength = Power

monoprint detail


If one doesn’t have abundant physical strength

And money is scarce

Is power still an option?

I do my level best to make the financial and physical assets I have available to me go as far as I can.

I wake in the morning and nudge a sluggish and often obstinate body toward a modicum of adequate functionality.

Sometimes I win.

Sometimes I don’t.

When I can’t quite stretch my will up the hill toward the goal of participating in life as an independent, shining soul

Then, I become dependent.


And I feel powerless.

And ashamed.

Ashamed because I ought to be able to solve ALL MY OWN PROBLEMS



Because our culture supports looking good over being true.

I never really had any interest in being THIS true…

A little true, yes.

Enough to look good.

But my life often can look BAD.




When I have had the courage to ask for help, tell the Truth (with a capital ‘T’)

And the miracle happens; that of being seen in the mess and not turned away from –

THIS is when actual cellular re-organization occurs.

My experience is one of healing on EVERY level just by being seen in what is true for me.

I feel a kind of power in this sort of exchange which I can not claim but surely feel visited by, comforted, aided, softened, taught, re-arranged, silenced by and given an invitation from

To pay it forward.

Big, Giant Dog Love


This is Livvy yesterday in the sun.

She teaches me stuff.

She calms me, frustrates me, challenges me, makes me giggle, cry and belly-wiggle laugh.

Today, she was my church.

I quieted myself and paid close attention to the life in her.

We went to Starbuck’s and talked to some great people; fellow chihuahua lovers who even appreciated her loud voice.

One great looking guy saw us from the window as we approached.

He jumped up and met us at the door, opened it and said: “I just lost my dog last week. Can I show you a picture of SCRUFFY on my computer? I feel too raw to post it on Facebook but I can show it to you.”

We sat there and he showed me. I could feel the raggedy edges of his heart.

It was the best thing to happen to me today.

True Crossing

“SMOLDER”, 36×22, m/m, 2008


Joseph Campbell says it best I feel (from my absolute favorite book- REFLECTIONS ON THE ART OF LIVING- A JOSEPH CAMPBELL COMPANION:


“What has always been basic to Easter, or resurrection, is crucifixion. If you want resurrection, you must have crucifixion. Too many interpretations of the Crucifixion have failed to emphasize that relationship and emphasize instead the calamity of the event. If you emphasize the calamity, you look for someone to blame, which is why people have blamed the Jews. But crucifixion is not a calamity if it leads to new life. Through Christ’s crucifixion we were unshelled, which enabled us to be born to resurrection. That is not a calamity. So, we must take a fresh look at this event if its symbolism is to be sensed.
“If we think of the Crucifixion only in historical terms, we lose the symbol’s immediate reference to ourselves. Jesus left his mortal body on the cross, the sign of earth, to go to the Father, with whom he was one. We, similarly, are to identify with the eternal life within us. The symbol also tells us of God’s willing acceptance of the cross, that is to say, of his participation in the trials and sorrows of human life in the world, so that he is here within us, not by way of a fall or mistake, but with rapture and joy. Thus the cross has dual sense: one, of our going to the divine; the other, of the coming of the divine to us. It is a true crossing.
“In the Christian tradition, Christ’s crucifixion is a major problem: Why could the savior not have just come? Why did he have to be crucified?
“Well, various theological explanations have come down to us, but I think an adequate and proper one can be found in Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians, where he writes in chapter 2 that Christ did not think that God-hood was something to be held to—which is to say, neither should you—but rather, yielding, he took the form of a servant even to death on the cross. This is joyful affirmation of the sufferings of the world. The imitation of Christ, then, is participating in the suffering and joys of the world, all the while seeing through them the radiance of the divine presence. That’s operating from the heart cakra, where the two triangles are joined together.
“That’s what I see in the Crucifixion. Of all the explanations I’ve read, it is the only one that makes, what I would call, respectable sense. The others are all concerned with a wrathful god who has to be appeased by the sacrifice of his son. What do you do with a thing like that? It is a translation of the sacrifice into a very crude image. The idea of God being entity that has to be appeased is just too nasty a concretion.”

Joseph Campbell in “A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living.”

Keeping Quiet



My life is a big canvas and I continually try to refine the marks I put down.

Today, I apologize to those who hold subscriptions to this blog as my post from yesterday was delivered to you before I came to my senses and deleted it altogether.

In hindsight I felt it self-serving, incendiary and my thoughts poorly articulated. Not my best effort.

A past therapist told me these three guidelines which I try to live by:

1. Try not to judge.
2. Tell the truth as quickly as you can.
3. Don’t try to understand (I take this to suggest we gear ourselves toward witnessing with love).

Many, many times I have ‘crucified’ myself for making mistakes.

But really there are no mistakes.. just opportunities to keep refining ourselves.

Forgive me for presenting you with less than you deserve.

This blog is one way I work toward becoming larger, lighter and more loving toward myself and the worlds at large.


Empathy Vs. Sympathy



This is such a slippery distinction for many but makes life far richer when known:

Look here.


Is Being Alone A Problem?

lying down
“SQUID” 20×4″, ceramic,steel, 2000


“To become deeply silent is not to become still, but to become tidal.”

David Whyte


I have what some people crave: the utter luxury of unfettered time.

My life is spare and quite silent.

I live alone with my dog, Livvy though I have a few stellar friends close by.

Isolation can grab me by the scruff sometimes, and it can take me down.

The depths have always held great gifts as well as monsters. I have to be awake to this fact.

I spend time writing, reading, sitting in a big chair I love and just looking out with a diffuse gaze and musing about life, love, creativity, God, my haircut, Ellen DeGeneres and my weird neighbor.

Seldom do I listen to music which I always thought was odd (though I do love The Rolling Stones)

But now I just do what I’m drawn to do and relish the luxury of being able to choose.

Sometimes, I really miss intimate time with a man. Not just sex but the easy exchange of flirt and fiest and fun and folly. I have good male friends as well as women. I need their energy to help me stay balanced and tether me earthward when I fly too high.

What makes me happiest is what I call “BEING IN THE RIVER”. It feels very different than living a life watching the water from the bank.

Standing in the middle of the river one must continually adjust and re-balance to negotiate the shifting current from fast to slow as well as dodging the debris all the while enjoying the coolness and flecks of quartz just out of reach.

Being in the river means allowing ones’ self to be moved. Leaving the heaviness of WILL on the bank with socks and shoes and entering the water as an innocent; willing to be guided, taught, opened.

In the luxury of my contemplative life I can explore territory known to few.

I know this is the thing people used to pay me for when I sold a piece of art; I had done what it took to set my life up with time and space to deep sea dive and return to the surface with gifts of color, form, impressions, ideas they hadn’t the time themselves to conjure.

Now- instead of creating art in form I write, talk or just keep quiet.

So luxurious.

The Accusation of Optimism

drawing, 1980, 24×30″


I have used the following personal example of our culture’s predilection toward need = decrepit, victim, hopeless, helpless, anti-beauty, stay away, unkempt and usually angry, in another post

But I’m pulling it out again because it makes a point.

Years ago when I first entered the foreign lands of applying for governmental assistance in the form of Social Security Disability I was coached by a few folks to dress down.

They suggested I actually costume myself like a bag person and not bathe for a number of days


They said: “If you go in there looking like you do, no one will take your true needs seriously because you don’t LOOK like you need anything.”

I was appalled then.

And now.

There are quite a number of people I know and hear of who are in the CULTURAL WOUNDOLOGY CLUB (I call it).

Unfortunate but true: Having some wound whether it be a divorce, illness, addiction, broken ‘something-or-other’ makes you part of a clan. You belong. There are others like you. It feels almost giddy to share stories and feel the pleasure and alarm (hers is worse, better than mine) of the hierarchy in place, ready to dole out the slimy goodies we get from being somehow broken.

I can speak with authority about this because I know the club well. I have participated, paid dues, broken bread in the sanctity of ‘OH!- Woe-is-me-land’.

Don’t get me wrong here- The very finest medicine I know for a broken heart or soul is to be witnessed by another person in our pain. It makes it possible to feel the realness of it as we are reflected in our friend. We feel less crazy, less crazed by the anxiety of dealing with the cards we were dealt.

My temperment naturally pre-disposes me toward optimism or the high road or the silver lining.

I am blessed this way.

Actually, optimism thankfully interests me much more than other choices and the natural density of ‘poor me’ or: ‘give me attention please- I’m needy’ is not my natural direction.

So- when those people suggested I dress like a bag person to assure I looked needy enough to receive the support I so sorely needed I said a lusty “NO!”

What I did was write a one page description of what a day is like for me. I read it out loud to the intake person. I arrived in clean clothes but
left all gussification behind. I trusted in the truth.

I was approved in three weeks.

There is a part of my optimism many people naturally distrust because it does not go with their experience of what looks to them like a life of suffering.

Yeah… there’s suffering here. You betcha.

A good friend sent me this today:

“I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.” – Winston Churchill



I am re-posting the following because….well- just because.

monoprint, 1990, 30×22




Yesterday I felt positively radiant.

Today? Well…Let’s say major slippage has taken place.

You know, one of THE most exhausting things about this whole MS challenge is trying to figure out the cause of an effect… Why could I walk yesterday, have a reserve of clear energy and feel great about every darn thing, while today there are tears doing their best to push forward with no let up in sight, my foot curls under itself and my muscles ache and stiffen so I walk like Frankenstein? I am so tired and then I am afraid. Afraid that it will always be this way; that all the gorgeousness of yesterday will never be again…

UNTIL! Until I remember that CHANGE is the only constant! THAT is what I can count on!

So…. I go to work:

I go down the list and ask myself:

1. Do I need to drink more water?
2. Did I eat something that affected me? Or not eat at all?
3. Is there stress I need to handle somewhere?
4. Did I take all the stuff that supports me? (supplements, medication)
5. Was I out in the sun too long?
6. Did I use more energy than I can generate right now?
7. Did I stay too long with people who are too much ‘work’?
8. Did I take time to be silent today?
9. Did Spirit get too far away?
10. Did I forget to protect myself energetically out in the mad, mad world?
11. Did I not ask for help when I had the chance?

Each time this really scary loss of ground happens to me I contract into fear until I grab myself by the scruff of the neck (gently) and ‘re-up’ into life. The time it takes to do this gets less and less as I keep proving to myself that their really ARE causes for the effects and I am smart so I can find them, do what’s needed and carry on in some kind of graceful and radiant way.

When all is said and done, the gratitude I feel in ‘the return’ always brings me to my knees because in the shadowy recesses of my mind, I know it is not a given.

Whatever The Hell Happens

space between
detail of painting on wool flannel, 1985


“Nietzsche was the one who did the job for me. At a certain moment in his life,the idea came to him of what he called ‘the love of your fate.’ Whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, ‘This is what I need.’ It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment—not discouragement—you will find the strength is there. Any disaster you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life. What a privilege! This is when the spontaneity of your own nature will have a chance to flow.

“Then, when looking back at your life, you will see that the moments which seemed to be great failures followed by wreckage were the incidents that shaped the life you have now. You’ll see that this is really true. Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not. The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes.”

Joseph Campbell, A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living.

Two Feet


In all my wheelings around downtown Santa Fe of late I have noticed my world, located about two feet below an ambulatory person’s, is populated with previously invisible (when I walked) characters and intriguing stuff.

It is so fascinating how perspective shifts of a few inches can put one into what feels like another dimension. Which is exactly the truth when you think about it.

I know street people’s names and greet them as friends. They are low down.

The brickwork on that building is spectacular but hard to see because I am bumping around so much from the potholes I’m not looking at.

Also- there are grape hyacinths in the lowlands. Their fierce purple taunting the last flurries.

The man from another country selling jewelry with his constant companion of a cigarette- he always turns away as I approach his outdoor cart on the way to Starbucks.

I want to like him but I don’t.

My friend DANA sings outside in all sorts of weather. I like him. His singing is ok but his soul is the genuine article and I tried to treat him to coffee one day because his chapped hands got to be but he said: “I’m not a coffee guy.”

I stuck a 5.00 bill in his cup in lieu of caffiene and his playing stopped as he just looked at me and said: “Thank you, Cathy. Thank you. Cathy.”

I rolled away fast because it felt too intimate.

All this was hidden before from me. I was two feet higher.

Do these encounters seem of no consequence to you? Five years ago, if someone tried to tell me these things I may have felt pity. Probably so.

But you should be jealous.