Cut and Run

detail , hand, painted wool flannel

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Our very natural push toward survival at any cost serves us well in most cases. The fittest of us are the ones who move forward adding to the evolutionary theater as best we can. It seems unthinkable to have our trajectory beset by disease and yet here I am.

“Cath? This is God.”

“Took you long enough.”

“Well..timing is crucial on these things and I don’t mind saying you are a stubborn customer needing a bit more finessing. My feeling was at the outset that you might just benefit from a real slew of hard core challenges to shake the sleep from your eyes and get you up here faster. Let’s see…how about MS-the really hard kind? A few decades of that and humility will be yours. Pretty great take-away gift, right? I pride myself on the creative life-lesson-learning scenarios I come up with! Maybe you could choose a really controlling partner to marry and see how you do with that? Maybe rape could be part of your way and just because I believe so deeply that you can do it I’ll throw in a bitter and depressed mother who’d prefer you weren’t here and go through life figuring out how to get that love you missed.

You have the chance to deal with each of these challenges in any way you choose because of free will. It is a hard life but you can make it a very rich one as you surely have chosen to do. You can get as mad as you want at me as often as you like but I will promise you that you will feel grateful for every speck of your life and thank me in the end.”


Following the diagnosis of MS in 2000 I put most of my available energy and money into making it go away. These days I understand this is happening and it is my spiritual path for me to work with it the best ways I possibly can. Can we honor illness by recognizing the facts of it as opposed to turning away down an endless road of cure-hoping?

I deleted the last post I wrote after promising I’d keep this blog true. I betrayed myself.

I think I can just cut and run sometimes. It has been a familiar modus operandi for me.

MS is my vehicle for finding my “true.” It’s here. Might as well use the damn thing for good.

Here’s the text to the deleted post(I thought this too depressing):

It has been two months since my last post.
I want to apologize but I just can’t bear to hear one more “I’m sorry” pass through my lips.
I lost my wonderful caregiver after 7 years.
The 2 temps Medicaid sent hated dogs and tried to scam me out of money.
My family has my back as they blessedly do in my times of need and made it possible for me to hire a good friend, wonderfully smart, capable and tolerant to allow me the space to de-stress enough and begin the process of finding a permanent person.
I fell twice using the new wheelchair I ordered and now am in the process of returning this one and getting what I need.
The string of UTI’s keep on comin’.
Climate change has rendered Santa Fe virtually sun-less this summer.
My creativity is hanging out somewhere in a dustbunny-ed corner inebriated to assuage the seemingly hopeless wait for my call to attention.
Picture this: night has fallen. I sit here at the computer looking fully dressed waiting for the rain to end in order to give my beloved Emma a chance at relief on an evening walk.
I watch the “Minutecast” part of the local online weather predictor for a 15 minute break in the rain. I’v got my hat on, Emma in her leash, poop bag in place, everything looks good.
We wait.
But if it was daylight I would never chance this outfit: skirt half-way pulled up my thigh because I hadn’t the energy to move beyond my pain and get it all the way up. My thigh flesh is pretty much covered up by a black cashmere blanket. I have one shoe on because the other eluded me and who the fuck cares in the night anyway.
The sky has stopped wetting itself. Out we go; red flashing safety lights high up enough not to illuminate my cellulite inadvertently pouring through the rungs of my chair.
I think Emma still likes me enough after our long wait as I just saw a micro tail wag.
This is my life.
And I am not sorry.
Sigh.

What In The World To Do?

“FINE LINE”,monoprint,22×30″

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A good friend said: “If this political climate continues for another four years I am done with life. I’m outta here”.

I fully understood the sentiment.

I have thought the same about my own ‘micro-world’

Often seeming forever colored by pain or struggle or physical dissolution of some kind in relationship with MS.

There have been a few lines I thought I could not live beyond

But truthfully…getting up close and personal with such “lines”

I find they never are the end game;

The line I think I can’t live beyond.

So what is the thing that grabs me under my armpit for support to ease my weary self across that self-drawn line?

Two things:

1. BEAUTY
This is an honest to God truth for me: each and every time I think I can’t go on or have lost interest in doing such..
Just after such an energy cave-in a thing happens which emerges out of the mist, is usually very small as opposed to monumental
And makes it’s good self known with the sweetest of normalcy.

It could be: “You look so beautiful with your cute dog!” as I roll by
Or maybe someone has passed quite a ways down the street but backtracks fully just to open a door for me.
A stranger has said: “Your attitude inspires me. May I bring you a homemade dinner sometime? Share an evening and get to know you better or just drop the food at your door perhaps?”

The other day it was the tiniest moment catching the eye of a grumbling homeless man when I said “Good Morning” and he lifted his confused head and gave me the purest of smiles.

It is a family members’ financial bail out with no questions asked or my dog’s insistent mid-night press into the small of my back coupled with the indescribable sweetness of a deep and secure sigh eliciting the same from me.

My idea of Beauty used to loom so large. Now it is held in secret and tiny places.

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2. RESPONSIBILITY
These explosions of Beauty help me understand I matter. And you matter. And we each have our responsibility to do what we can to recognize our unique gifts and to give them to our fellow travelers on this grit-laden road. I can’t go precisely because of the beauty I AM..and YOU ARE.

Sedimentary Perception

AAA

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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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Come follow me on INSTAGRAM! I am a beginner but it sure is fun..xx

It Took Me a Life to Learn

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Things I have learned that are most important to me now:

1. Whenever someone’s behavior triggers me and anger or resentment arise.. It is usually about me and seldom about them. (I hate this one..)

2. The line I think I can not live beyond is likely not it.

3. A smile is my most powerful tool. Free, takes up no space, universally understood, magic-maker.

4. It is way more fun to love myself than run the ragged tapes of self-disappointment.

5. A good scarf, bracelet, earrings or lipstick can elevate my state of being in an instant and act as invisible “fist bump” to people letting them know I care about putting myself together well and entering life with confidence and curiosity. Less victim..more eager participant.

6. Suffering pokes holes in the armor of a heart. Those humans and animals having experienced tenderization in this way are often recognizable to the others immediately.

7. Prayer works only if truly, madly, deeply FELT.

8. Asking for and receiving help has been my hardest thing. Being capable, independent, self-sufficient and not needing is really not the holy grail our culture espouses. I am learning INTER-DEPENDENCE.

9. Really “seeing” another person is the greatest gift I can give. This means, even for just a moment, putting aside all of my own needs, wants, drama, complaint, worry to allow space for the other person to just EXIST in my company.

10. Beauty is available everywhere and always..often in the ugliest of situations. A good life means, to me, adjusting my attitude and awareness in order to access that Beauty.

What Do We Do In The Dark?

monoprint,30×22

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This winter has been challenging for me.

Bitter cold, schizophrenic wind screaming in the eaves

And way, wayyyyyyyy too many mornings

Waking to cool grey watercolor skies.

Yuk.

My wheelchairs deep tread tires itch

For action

And I spray Chanel #5 on my curly lamb neck warmer

And wear it around the house

Like a weird prayer

For the permission

To outdoors myself.

This week warmth has snuck back in.

And good friends and family are coming to visit!

I begin happy-ing up.

Emma gets ditties sung to her

Whether she wants them or not.

During the long dark

I thought of the longest dark.

Not seriously;

More in a curious way.

I prayed in my bed

Curled fetal

Around a heating pad

I love

More than is reasonable.

I prayed for my athletic and shredded

Nervous system

To fucking give me some peace.

Emma and I make the micro-adjustments

As we lay there-

Needing the primal reinforcement

Of constant contact.

I let myself love crime TV

And try to meditate in the mornings

But I am water-logged in stillness

So inviting more seems the act of a mad person.

One day I screamed into a pillow

Out of vocal atrophy

But Emma got a look on her face

No one should ever see.

In the dark of this winter

My hibernation was

Not a peaceful one.

My friends will arrive soon

And help me reclaim

Undernourished life lines

Connecting me to

The taut and gracious

Brain and body

I let go to seed.

My underground self

Will keep stretching

Toward their warmth and humor

And my complexion will pink.

My own long migration

From the dark to the light

Depends more and more

On Communion

Of any kind

Which,

In essence,

Means not alone.

I Bought a Leopard Print Jacket

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I usually shoot for spare and elegant in my “peacockery” when choosing what to wear.

But lately I have ancient anger re-surfacing.

Old “mother-stuff” undealt with.

You’d think a lifetime of therapy would have taken a squeegee

To my nervous system (in chronic hypervigilance due to her)…

But NO……

The glass is not yet cleared of the awful fog of war

I innocently turned in on myself

And ended up with an autoimmune illness

Which makes me fucking ANGRY

So I bought myself

A LEOPARD PRINT COAT

In the hope that when I wrap myself

In the perfect chaos of the spots

I will take on some of that same wild

And

Even as I hold myself

High and risen

In my trusty chariot ;

Contained in an elegant package

Will be me as the wildest, growling, taut in muscle and mind

Leopard-girl.

The leavings of sonic boom shatterings

Of grief laced with rage

And be-fuddlement

Will be seen by those behind me

Perchance ambling by

Confused by the wide and sure

Pressure

Of

Paw prints

Left by

A very large

Cat.

Smelling of Chanel #5.

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.

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.

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.

Vulnerability

ceramic vessel, 24×18

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When I began writing this blog over 4 years ago

The promise I made to myself was to avoid editing myself out of truly authentic territory.

That meant telling my truth as truly as I could and not spiriting away the messy bits, the unflattering occurances, the embarrassing shit.

I, as an expert people pleaser was in search of the woman under the mask

And telling my truth is my road to HER.

There have been 3 times I have chosen to go back and delete a post because I just felt too raw after writing..too exposed.

The thing about vulnerability is that it is a universal condition and no one escapes.

Knowing this I recognize that if I have had a feeling or experience there is likely a slew of others in the boat with me, maybe cowering in the corners.

After revealing to a good friend recently that I took down a post she reminded me that my readership come here in part to get the TRUTH as opposed to a prettified scenario.

” People, your friends, WANT to hear the vulnerable stuff you deal with. Puts the beautiful parts in perspective. And makes US realize we have nothing to whine about. Put it back up. “

Arriving at a place in which one has little to lose is a freedom gift extraordinaire.

I am here.

And somewhat broken.

But strangely grateful for the lovely, lovely scars

Each with a story of resolve and resilience

Adding to the creation

Of today’s Cathy

Who ties (sometimes with help) a Parisian silk scarf around her sagging neck

And re-enters Life

In partnership with the scars

Which are quiet

Having been given the air-time

They each demanded and deserved.

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Gathering Evidence

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Whatever the story we have concocted

There will always be someone out there who will validate our opinion.

It feels so slimily good to gather evidence for our belief in what is true

But to what end?

A well placed ” I told you so?”.

Is this the gold we are after?

Chronic illness is a lonely affair.

We can invite friends and family and God

To come in close

And witness our sufferings AND triumphs

But essentially,

We live within our own concocted truth.

I say “concocted”

In light of the fact I experience my level of suffering or grace is altered

By the story I tell about it

And the more people I can gather around me who agree

Set my experience in stone – good or not-so-good

RIGHT QUICK.

For this reason I have avoided MS support groups.

It feels so very lovely to share agreement

Whether that be in the realm of health or politics or religion or sport.

Yippee! We are not alone!

Except we are.

In the most important of ways.

We create our lives

By choosing where to put our attention.

My sense is that I continue to thrive

In the largest sense of the word

Because I am familiar with how to approach a blank canvas; having done this very thing thousands of times in my career as an artist,

I understand how to create and not stop until it feels right.

I use these same skills as a bridge to each and every “next moment”.

In the end they even out to quite a lovely life.

This is true for me.

I do not need your agreement.

The Dignity of Doria

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I keep thinking about Meghan Markle’s mom, Doria.

After all the hullabaloo has passed, her quiet dignity stays with me.

She did not tuck her blackness in

Nor did she shove it in our faces.

She carried herself with an easy and powerful dignity.

She sat there in the pew, very alone, witnessing her baby marry a prince.

Prince Charles took really good care of her; recognizing the challenge of negotiating such an event with out a plus-one. He kindly guided Doria with seeming affection as Camilla stood by.

Today, on my morning roll I negotiated the crowded streets of SantaFe filled with tourist disconnect to my presence on the streets.

I found some quiet shade to do my voyeur thing.

The default posture I see most these days is a marked hunched back and collapsed upper chest.

Seeing this so much makes me feel claustrophobic.

It is a habitual and lazy stance of no possibility; armoring ourselves against the assault of internalized wariness of the daily unknown.

Closing off our chest like this truncates breathing so less Life gets in.

Thinking about this and noticing the same in myself I changed my posture

By rolling my shoulders back and subtly lifting from the muscles in my upper chest while pulling my lower back in toward my stomach a bit.

This is the basic yoga “at rest” posture.

I immediately felt really different as I opened my chest to hope and connection and ease and dignity.

If I don’t put energy into maintaining this posture I can go down the rabbit hole pretty quick.

This seems to be an immediate antidote to “victimhood”

And an invitation to poised liveliness.

It helps me meet the world from a far less “me-centric” place.

Keith Richards is Still Alive

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Isn’t he like 165 years old by now?

I look at his face and his wrinkles seem to be placed well.

His wife is cool and she is still there with him.

He wraps a rag around his head and still rocks it.

I, on the other hand, woke up this morning and felt angry at the pain and sad most good friends have left town and pissed off that it takes me two fucking hours to get my two feet into both pant legs instead of one.

Blah, blah blah….

Keith is so in love with playing guitar.

I adore the strange faces he makes in creative reverie.

Making sculptures as I am at the moment with my one good hand has me making faces too..

Thankfully, the frustration turns to laughter pretty quick.

It seems so weird; Keith Richards weird; that I love my life.

I found this new milk substitute called OATLY.

Made from oats!

From Sweden.

With cool packaging.

I bought some as dairy is not my friend.

I ordered it online.

It was terribly good in my morning tea.

I mean- beyond good actually.

Crack cocaine good.

Entertaining to read the box.

Good enough that it gets me out of bed in anticipation.

Now there is no more to be had…

Anywhere.

I checked, believe me.

The UK has some.. but shipping…

Can’t get no satisfaction.

How We Learn To Discern

my garden

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Discernment can be a foggy affair

If we don’t know ourselves truly.

Meandering through life for so many years as a people-pleaser as I did,

In search of love in all the wrong places

Had me making decisions from a fake place.

This is where MS comes in as one of the best things to ever happen to me;

I now haven’t the energy to concoct much of anything

So most of me is true;

Solidly my highest accomplishment to date.

If one is not visited by the magnitude of an ego-crushing illness

Which can assist in the process if we let it

How can we learn what is true and real for us

In the way of food or belief or partner or career or fashion or art or music or terrain or color preference even?

If I wear the color green I feel sick…

In my stomach and in my head.

Every time…

Green equals yuk.

Now, it was many, many years into this particularly potent equation

That I finally understood why

But that is sort of beside the point;

Green is so viscerally NOT my color that I could not NOT notice.

In my beginning to pay attention to finding out my TRUE likes and dislikes

The ensuing reaction to BAD NEWS had to be big enough to get through the murk and sticky mire

Of trying to be liked

Because there is a sneaky little thing that feels really, really addictively grand

When you figure correctly and give someone what they think they want.

After a few years of this study my refinement increased and I can now feel pretty close to in-the-moment when I’m in-sync.

THIS SKILL IS CRUCIAL FOR A GOOD LIFE I think..

Otherwise, we are living a virtual existence created to achieve the “best” response from another.

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ps- I abhor green because my mother re-decorated my bedroom as a child with chartreuse as the main color of rug,paint,fabric without asking me what I might like. My current self loves white…go figure.

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