In Search Of Authentic

detail of painting


For the month of December I have set the task for myself to find and post images and ideas which exude the particular perfume of THE TRULY AUTHENTIC. (click on very short film in widescreen)

These holidays we are entering scratch at my heart because they feel preposterously pale in comparison to the essence of where I imagine they began.

This is a selfish quest I offer to you all as a little window into the Real, the True, the Sacred.

With love…

What Is Your Twig?

untitled, 5×5, painted wool flannel


My “go-to-wise-guy” is MOOJI.

I listened to this story he told of a Zen monk whose peaceful being was severely challenged by a simple twig.

The tale affected me because I have paid close attention to keeping my nervous system fairly free of over-zealous fish caught in my net and thrashing away, entangling themselves ever further in a mess of knots.

Recently, my very own ‘twig’ descended into my life and I felt like the peace I count on went up in flames of blame, criticism and that seductive knowing of my ‘rightness.’

In order to get this darkness out of me I felt the need to share my feelings which brought relief but left me with the recognition I had done a poor job of containing myself.

My twig is feeling criticized and unseen.

Gets me every time.

Peace up to a point then WHAMMY!!! TAKE THIS CATH!

I am not beating myself up, just recognizing what it actually takes to re-balance myself; re-calibrate toward my shining Self as opposed to the little ‘c’ so full of drama.

Gratefully back on the peace path.


ceramic seeds, 1″ each



I want to say something
About not getting
What you want
Because if all those prayers
Had been answered
I’d surely not be me
And that would be a shame.

The warm press
Of my dog on my thigh
Might have slipped
My attention
As I went surfing the net;
Mindlessly window shopping
For fur hats.

I might have missed
The precious and strong
Grip of my left hand
If my right one
Weren’t so weakened
By the take-away
Illness brings.

What if I actually had
All the independence
I have prayed for
And altogether missed
My heart stretching
With love for all those
Who let me know
I matter to them?

If I had all I wanted
I’d never know
How not having
Helps me know
The very important gift
Of wanting
And cherishing
Exactly what I have.
-Cathy Aten 2013

Be Still

ceramic shells


I am at a loss to add anything to this video but I wanted so much to share it with you all as all the chaos and craziness begins for the holidays.

I invite you to breathe and settle to watch the whole thing.

You will be different after experiencing this.

I am.

Where I Come From


Growing up I spent most weekends with my grandparents who lived on a lake/pond.

It was pretty still water with just the right amount of brush and uncut trees bordering the edges.

Mornings would find me on the trail to my favorite access where I felt the privacy I needed to just BE.

In this lake were giant orange carp. (skip to 1.14 in video)

I fantasized they were unwanted goldfish flushed down the toilet and now getting their revenge by growing into huge monsters.

I loved them.

When we are kids and unfortunately this penchant seems never to leave us; that of: “I LOVE THAT! I WANT THAT!

I would stand for hours at the edge, bent down with my hands in the water. Very still….

I waited for these beautiful creatures to trust the unfamiliar presence in their liquid world.

At some point if I was very lucky a huge, orange beauty would swim between my extended hands and


At this point I am stationed on the opposite side of the lake from my grandmother’s house.

I ran hard and fast with the fish between my little hands, around the lake and back to the bathtub at my grandmother’s.

First, I filled the sink to keep my fish alive. Then, the bathtub.

I was so proud! It was time to show off my prize!

Gracious as she was, there were satisfying exclamations of my fishing prowess, the handsomeness of the fish in the tub and then a bucket was retrieved for a walk together back to the lake and the grand release with a tearful goodbye.

I still feel like that girl; moving like a solitary witness.

I go out there, recognize magic, want to take it home, get it here then see that it was never the “thing” at all…

It was me.

I Have To Laugh

detail of installation, ceramic


I have to laugh at the thought of you all reading yesterday’s post….

I mean, REALLY!

What a picture I leave you with: girl in wheelchair beating the bejezus(sp?) out of a pillow yelling profanities into the morning air.

These are some of the ways I entertain myself it seems.

Latent anger needs a voice. A bad-girl one preferably.

Having done what it has taken to get authentic I now like to watch myself being so.

Truly- who would have thought those noises were in this girl?

Then this morning I am different. Light. Engaged with life. Unembarrassed. Ready for the next thing.

The very best thing to know is that the present doesn’t have a shelf life.

We are.

Then we are again.

And then again.

How fun is that?

A re-do every darn moment.

Sure-others hold tightly to stories they tell of us but those are theirs.

And this is mine.

What Makes Me Come Alive?

“WOMAN BECOMING” 70×42, m/m


Winter came.

I felt isolated, dogless, flat over the weekend.

My friends I spoke with felt equally adrift; “What is my purpose?” “I just wanna watch TV.” “I have a stomach ache.” “I’m just over here cleaning out drawers and I don’t even know why.”

Pulling in when one is already IN is dicey territory.

Here comes winter and my body and spirit balk at the tightening up, bundling up, showing up for the naked trees and infinite colors of grey.

Here’s a confession: I have a hard foam baseball bat that I use to get my blood moving sometimes.

It goes like this: Feel physically like my blood is stagnant, my heart can’t remember the last time it was moved and I am boring myself into oblivion.

Step one is to grab my bat.

Sit in front of bed with pillow placed before me.

Grab bat with a fierce grip.

Grimace. Raise bat over head.

Wail down on the pillow yelling “FUCK!” “FUCK YOU!” (exclamation of your choice here..).

Often I don’t really know what the words are directed towards.

Keep going till you can’t.

Pause to feel the goodness.

Carry on into life with clean and electric blood.

Don’t underestimate the power of this.


The Warriors

“LANDSCAPE” 45″x6′,m/m


Early this morning at Starbucks with my girlfriend found us sitting next to a man worthy of notice.

He was dressed in a crisp and ironed white shirt, nice vest and necktie.

His grey hair was tousled but great looking.

He sat there contained with his attention cast toward something on the table.

My friend said: “You look so great. Do you live here? We are not so used to men who dress so well!”

“Yes, I live here and thank you! I am going to the Veteran’s Day parade.”

All of a sudden my reality shifted to the fact he took great care to put himself together as he did and show up at that Starbucks table gathering himself in preparation to go honor himself?, his fallen
buddies? I felt foreign. I did not know. This was their day.

I began my short roll home and passed pods of middle aged and older men walking toward the plaza where the parade was to begin..

They saw me in my wheelchair and each greeted me consciously… directly.

I was making my way through a stream of testosterone-laden sacred ground as I rolled through them.

Some faces were downcast.

Some hands carried or used canes.

Each owned the ground they walked on in a particular way. Surely, with friendliness but sorrow and potent poignancy were there too.

I was silenced as I approached home realizing I had witnessed a remarkable event. The gathering of Warriors.

I know nothing of war, active combat or otherwise.

My dad was a warrior but never spoke of it.

Many, many times I stole into his top drawer to fondle his medals and ribbons.

I enjoy freedom to move, speak, believe, live the entitled life of one who is far removed from what it takes and has taken for me to have this privileged existence.

Dear God… please help me not take my freedoms for granted and won’t you shower those who kept and keep us safe with more blessings than they can handle?

Forget It, Fetch It, Forge It



“Suffering is forgetting our true nature.”



Sometimes my mind hears all these pretty words that the wise ones uttered under some tree in a far away land

And I just go numb.

“Yeah..sounds nice.”

Words like suffering, true, even nature are so much a part of our vernacular

That their overuse diminishes their potency.

After all is said and done Buddha’s words are the wisest of the wise for me.

My lifetime has been one of doing what needed to be done to dismantle the armor that helped me survive a less-than-supportve youth.

The taking on of that armor saved me but left me with a very false sense of my true nature.

How to get her back?

1. Recognizing the disparity between ‘false’ and ‘real.’
2. Strong desire to re-claim myself.
3. Taking one action and then the next and the next to find help retrieving Cathy.
4. Creating a life to safeguard advances made.
5. Repairing erosion as immediately as I can.
6. Remaining grateful for the courage, strength and support enabling my innocent self.
7. Creating a life to safeguard advances.
8. Creating a life to safeguard advances.

She’s back.

I’m here.

Whew- what a ride………..

I still suffer but return fairly quickly to my natural self.

When there, I do not suffer.

For real.

The Tittilation Of Technology

monoprint, 12×12″


Is it weird that I find my VERY OWN NEW COMPUTER sexy?

After years of looking into a pre-high-def greyed-out screen

My world is now 27 inches of realer-than-real color

Which, in all honesty, has acted like a virtual facelift on me.

I mean- I truly look 10 years younger

Without the toleration inherent in out-dated technology:

The swearing and hair pulling and dreaming of very heavy drinking

I can now meet you here with clarity, higher level creativity

And a face sans-crinkled brow.


Pure silliness and I don’t care..

The very first thing I did on my new machine

Was to watch an episode of PBS AMERICAN MASTERS- ALICE WALKER.

I was enveloped by the richness of color, depth, sound, soul and inspired to bring those feelings forward in my own work.

This is part of the sexiness I feel;

The impetus to exude that which is given..

To pass forward the grace and gifts of living inside and with BEAUTY.

I am new.

My portal to the world has opened wider and here I am.

I am indebted to you all as my witness

For this could not be without thee…

Party On A Limb

“BLACK FOREST” installation, ceramic, sand, 2008


In a Tree House


Will someday split you open
Even if your life is now a cage,

For a divine seed, the crown of destiny,
Is hidden and sown on an ancient, fertile plain
You hold the title to.

Love will surely bust you wide open
Into an unfettered, blooming new galaxy

Even if your mind is now
A spoiled mule.

A life-giving radiance will come,
The Friend’s gratuity will come –

O look again within yourself,
For I know you were once the elegant host
To all the marvels in creation.

From a sacred crevice in your body
A bow rises each night
And shoots your soul into God.

Behold the Beautiful Drunk Singing One
From the lunar vantage point of love.

He is conducting the affairs
of the whole universe

While throwing wild parties
In a tree house – on a limb
In your heart.

~ Hafiz


I Want What He’s Havin’

not neutral
untitled, m/m 54×36″


This guy rocks.

(It isn’t all about MS……..)