And So It Goes

“RAIN” installation, clay objects on nails sunk into wall ALWAYS IF YOU CLICK TWICE ON PHOTO IT WILL ENLARGE

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The Ten Rules For Being Human:

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1. You will receive a body.

2. You will be presented with lessons.

3. There are no mistakes, only lessons.

4. Lessons are repeated until learned.

5. Learning does not end.

6. “There” is no better than “here.”

7. Others are only mirrors of you.

8. What you make of your life is up to you.

9. All the answers lie inside of you.

10. You will forget all of this at birth.

11. All of the above will send to to the mental institution if you don’t have a dog or live with a beloved animal (Cathy’s addendum)

Chérie Carter-Scott

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EXTRA! EXTRA!! I HAVE A NEW INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT! COME FOLLOW ME, OK? https://www.instagram.com/emma.and.cathy/

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Nurturance

“TREE OF LIFE”, 28x16x4,ceramic

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My lifetime as an artist dedicated to the authentic expression of creativity

Has had gargantuan costs along with the rewards.

Space and silence, unstructured time and seemingly foolish meanderings

Make up the ocean I swim in.

This way of living has pretty much made me unfit to participate in marriage or raising a family.

Freedom as my top value doesn’t really mix well with motherhood or intimate partnership it turns out.

I am blessed to have made the choices I have made and adore the waters I swim in

Yet, when my family visited last week I noticed a few things:

1. I HAVE BEEN WITHOUT HOME COOKING TOO DAMN LONG-
My brother brought his infra-red grill and cooked us all steak! We had baked potato,salad and wine. We ate off our laps and no one minded. My kitchen was left tidied up. We laughed and talked. I belonged to “the clean plate club”. Every part of me felt tended to.

2. ALLOWING FAMILY TO WITNESS MY DAILY CHALLENGES WAS IMPORTANT-
I need help with so much- cutting up food, making my bed with particular needs, needing to leave a get-together because my energy crashed, walking Emma, cooking, transferring, getting coats on… This is all stuff that usually happens in the shadows or with my care-giver..then I just “show up” looking well and all the struggling to participate in life is forgotten. This time my family “saw” stuff. It was intimate. And very good. It made my heart swell.

3. MY BROTHER along with others FIXED THINGS!-
I will venture to say single women pretty much worship people who can fix stuff. We live with the broken-ness of small and big things too long and get used to the brokenness which is never good. I could build a church around my appreciation of this kind of skill.

4. I REALLY MIGHT HAVE BEEN A GOOD MOTHER-
I absolutely made the right choice for me- that of understanding I needed this lifetime to be about my art career and the reality having little humans to care for would have stirred up resentment at the reality of lending a blind eye my own needs. Plus,the role-modeling I got was not the best which scared me. I saw and felt, during this visit, that had I wanted to I could have been a good mother. Don’t really know how I know that but I do.

5. THE HUGE EFFORTS INVOLVED IN TRAVELING ARE A MAJOR LOVE PRESENT-
Energy exertion toward another when it is fueled by Love is a prayer in Itself. Could be flying or driving across the country, filling up a water glass, paying for a meal, listening intently to what is said without judgement, walking a dog or putting a new roll of TP on correctly :-).

Amen.

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.

I Must Fall In Love

wooden matches,earth

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I MUST FALL IN LOVE
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I must fall in love

With my unfortunately placed

Lines and wrinkly bits.

I remember

Saying to myself

Not too long ago really:

“I hope I don’t age like her.”

“i hope my way is more balanced

In the crevice department.”

The ones

That appeared overnight

Around about my mouth

Are called

“Marionette lines.”

Do men have these?

I don’t think so.

I wonder if mine came

From all the false smiling?

No matter.

I must fall in love

With who I am

Because I haven’t the money

To erase the evidence

Of all the innocent

Choices I made

In service to

Curiosity.

And survival;

Let’s not forget that…

If I plumped myself

Up

And needled

The cracks

I would surely miss

The full landscape

Of me

And I find myself interesting.

I do crave

A gorgeous aging

Like those older models;

Luckily

Calling attention.

My envelope

Of skin

Has travelled

Through the mail

A bit.

I’ve been places;

Mostly in my mind

And

I am

Here still

To tell you

I wish

I had not

Smiled

When

I did not

Want

To.

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CA. 2019

In The Middle

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The good part of the “bad” in chronic illness is the fact our old and cherished identity we thought we’d get to preen and feed forever
melts into a puddle. We are left with a rippling and fractured reflection of our old self. There’s no one to assist in the warrior’s path of bringing the new “us” into focus.

We are ‘in the middle’ as a new way of life.

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Pema Chodron says:

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“We are told about the pain of chasing after pleasure and the futility of running from pain. We hear also about the joy of awakening, of realizing our interconnectedness, of trusting the openness of our hearts and minds. But we aren’t told all that much about this state of being in-between, no longer able to get our old comfort from the outside but not yet dwelling in a continual sense of equanimity and warmth.
Anxiety, heartbreak, and tenderness mark the in-between state. It’s the kind of place we usually want to avoid. The challenge is to stay in the middle rather than buy into struggle and complaint. The challenge is to let it soften us rather than make us more rigid and afraid. Becoming intimate with the queasy feeling of being in the middle of nowhere only makes our hearts more tender. When we are brave enough to stay in the middle, compassion arises spontaneously. By not knowing, not hoping to know, and not acting like we know what’s happening, we begin to access our inner strength.
Yet, it seems reasonable to want some kind of relief. If we can make the situation right or wrong, if we can pin it down in any way, then we are on familiar ground. But something has shaken up our habitual patterns and frequently they no longer work. Staying with volatile energy gradually becomes more comfortable than acting out or repressing it. This open-ended tender place is called bodhichitta. Staying with it is what heals. It allows us to let go of our self-importance. It’s how the warrior learns to love”.

Rollabout

detail “BLACK FOREST”, 2009, ceramic, sand, wood, 8’l x 18″h x 38″w

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HALF

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Half brittle
Half dampened yellow leaving leaves
Laid down
Under my half worn
Tires
Half-way
Downtown
This morning.

A half-grey sky
Spit half snow
And some rain
Onto Emma and me
As we cruised
At full speed
Dressed for the bitter
Except for mittens.

There were no croissants
And half-glad
I read my magazine
Half-judging
New mothers
Allowing
New humans
Full access
To the dirty floor
Of the coffeeshop.

Emma was half content
When we sped home
Before she was ready.
I was too cold
And half-assedly
Swore into the full headwind
Making sure
I pulled it completely together
Before crossing the street.

Barely just inside
My apartment door
Emma and I just sat there
Fully winter-clad
Still.
Silently, we waited five minutes;
Both heads half-mast
Waiting quietly
To de-frost.

You wouldn’t think
A day like today
Merited the label
“HALF FULL”
Would you?
However,
I am a fine specimen
Of full-on Michigander
And I say it is so.
Half in jest.

-CA 2018

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The Edge of Empathy

I’ve come to understand that feeling empathy is a true luxury.

It seems like it should be a given that those with tender hearts should always have the ability to feel into another’s humanity.

The game changer is pain;

Any kind of pain; emotional, physical or spiritual.

Becoming intimate with physical pain over the last 6 months

A monstrous myopia repeatedly comes calling as an uninvited guest.

MYOPIA-
Definition of myopia
: a lack of foresight or discernment : a narrow view of something

I am an Aquarian soul with a penchant for depth and width and undying curiosity as a rule.

As an artist, space and freedom of movement in my mind-scape have been crucial to my evolution.

Pain is confining

And shrinks my heart’s capacity.

I hate having all my attention on myself.

But it’s hard to re-direct the grip of contraction.

The fact that I am just now learning about the unwelcome effects of living inside this confounded contraction

Says a great deal about growing up in the 1%.

Affluence buffers one from the lion’s share of suffering in most cases.

So the luxury of empathy for others is truly a gift

We, the privileged are blessed to extend

When we find so much extra energy left over after we do what we need to do making a life.

I think there may be much wisdom for me scuttling around in the shadows of this newly contracted life I am visiting for the moment.

I want so much to say: “Shooo! Get along with you now! You are not welcome here! BE GONE!”

But I can’t.

I will bow my head and learn whatever fucking thing I am supposed to learn.

It likely has something to do with putting my own needs above others.

(Oh yeah…that again…) 🙂

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.

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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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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Easter Redux

detail of “RENAISSANCE”, naturally pigmented earth, wood, 10’x3’x3′

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I wrote this 2 Easters past but liked it enough to offer it again:

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I just returned from a midnight roll with Emma; full moon.. me dressed in gratitude to the dark (meaning: just socks but no shoes, hair all sticky-outy, shawl range-ily wrapped round my dubious outfit).

Emma doesn’t care.

I obviously don’t care either. It was the adventure of the thing.

This past Sunday all the Catholics were out on the Santa Fe plaza in high church regalia in a Palm Sunday processional.

The head man swung incense to and fro followed by the ecumenically outfitted ..followed by the general public waving palms..

Emma and I watched.

I had to go home and google Palm Sunday.

I’m really keyed into this time of year because I know something about what feels subjectively like crucifixion and the journey of return.

My urge to be free finds me looking to all religions for keys.

It seems to help me very much to bring the Jesus stories in very close as metaphors and relate intimately to his teachings.

Surely my way is only that: my way. All I ask is for you to read here with a modicum of curiosity and forgo showing me the highway too soon.

By way of Easter time, Jesus is nailed to the cross and has to just hang out there with what is.

He has lost the luxury of his own will and by default must look inward for salvation.

His suffering goes on and on and on and on.

The agony is witnessed by those at his feet.

As his consciousness dims he pretty much gives up all “Woe is me” and “Why me, GOD?”

In favor of final forgiveness and surrender into Death.

But then…

after a little rest and recuperation

He RISES!

Not just good as before but better.

You may think me sacrilege but variations of these same transitions play out in my own life and I’m pretty sure a good number of you experience them too.

MS has shattered me, crucified me, wrested my trusty will from me.

It seems foolish to lend a hierarchy to suffering; (yours isn’t nearly as gritty as mine).

Divorce annihilates who we were..loss of job or spouse or child or fortune; addiction, depression, jail time, surgery, disappointment or betrayal.

Hell..even a bad break-up leaves us bloody and wrecked.

All our cells are called to re-assemble into some alien pattern and no friggin’ instruction booklet is included.

We’ve all just gotta hang there on the cross till every damn one of our precious numbing agents, blame-games, uber scavenger hunts for relief and distractions from what IS

Are used up.

Man, this can take a loooooonnnnng time.

And we die.

Metaphorically speaking.

We die to who we thought we were even though we thought we were pretty damn great and it looked like we had all the tools we needed to cut through the pain and discomfort..

HA!

Not.

After all that foll-de-rol we go through writhing in our suffering we need a big time Siesta with a capital “S”..

Three days is really not long enough (says me..).

I really do hope Jesus had a few margaritas to chew on in that dark cave..

Of course there were the intimates there to help him do his re-entry by moving the rock because not a one of us can do this ourselves.

I repeat: NOT A ONE OF US.

Released–he rose again.

And I have too..lighter, happier, less dense, more curious.

My neck is saggier but hey..the costs of war and time…

I am pretty raw as well. Naked to the wind.

Sometimes haphazardly dressed. Sometimes Chanel.

The Shattering. The Reconciliation. The Return.

Happy Easter to every darn one of us magnificent, brave, beautiful, beautifully human, humans.

We are the miracle.

We rise.

The Salve of Other

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Down on the plaza today

Feeling sooooo good.

I seem to have made it through another winter.

Back to my full time job of professional voyuer

I sat with Emma on my lap and a latte within reach.

It was mid-morning but few humans were around save the Native Americans setting up their wares for the day;

Dignified, constant, quietly contained.

A low and grumbly noise got my attention.

It came from a “camo-man” (my word for the plethora of discombobulated vets carrying the weight of war for us all).

He was quiet in his delivery of some language known only to him.

His body moved strangely.

Not dangerously.

I wheeled over and handed him a five dollar bill.

Not looking at me he took the cash and reached to barely brush my hand with his own

And walked off.

I truly felt steeped in Grace; his slight touch so full of intent and a host of other things that silenced me with their power.

One of the most challenging aspects of my health situation is the necessity to be so body-centric, so dense in paying attention to my physical body.

I must be so CARE-full

Im each micro-movement

In order not to fall on the floor or into the vacuum of a death spiral.

I must take pills, struggle with dressing, bathing, stay functioning in my home and work and community with dignity and balance.

All of this I used to do without a cloying effort but now must micro-manage energy; both psychological and physical, to show up in the world the way I wish to.

The call to action I had with the “camo-man”

Took me out of my self-centrism.

For a moment

It was WE…outside of time.

I forgot about “me”

And “he” also vanished

And there was just the numinous “We”.

How easy it is to forget who we are outside our personal pains, frustrations and concocted stories.

These things are not “us” at all.

We must reach beyond our bubble.

Or be very aware when a fellow reached forward toward us.

It seems God lives inside the extension outside our (little “s”) selves.

Farmer

installation in private garden,naturally pigmented earth,ceramic

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If one is a farmer of life
Times of drought tiptoe in.
Rough, old earth workers
Expect such chilly emptiness.
They wait.
Patiently by the fire
With a scrappy mutt
And darned socks
They wait.
Inside illness
As I am
Time is stained by fear;
Will I slide smoothly
Into a new season
Of fecundity?
Will summer sweat be mine again?
Or will I wither
From lack?
The oddest questions
Seek me out.
Really…ANYTHING
With expectation
Is suffering.
I should know by now
That emptiness
Is only
Rest
And possibility
We humans
Dress up
in
Anxiety.
Today, Riley
(my shaman barista)
Decorated my latte
With an artfully drawn frond
Of some sort.
That tiny action
Rose up to grab me
By the heart.
Can we make anything beautiful?
That little flower he drew
Affected me as such
Because it came
Suddenly
Into my anxiety-tinged emptiness
I feared
Might never end.
If the emptiness disappeared
There’d be nowhere
For the Love
To land.

I Sing

“BIRD”, 2001, 5″ x 4″ x 4″, ceramic

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I SING
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Big.
Black.
Eyes.
Watching
Me.

Ever-present oceans
Of adoration
And also
Fairly gracious
Demands:
“Get a move on, wheelchair girl!!”

Does each
And every
Tree trunk
Play
It’s own personal
Dog symphony?

In her complete silence
Emma is
A potent diplomat.
She instantly shifts all
Discontent;
Granting us a few untainted moments.

If she likes someone
She may
Grant the fortunate
A tiny tail wag
Or even a lick.
Maybe.

Never needy
Or unappreciative
Except
When I move
Away from her
In bed at night.

It is then
I hear a rustle of blanket
And slight adjustment
Until the press
Of her warm back
Meets mine again.

Emma is communion.
A wafer and wine at mass
Don’t hold a candle to her.
Everyday
I open my personally writ hymn book
And sing.
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– CA.

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The Wave

I dropped my head this morning with a sigh

As I read that TIME MAGAZINE has voted the women

Who have bravely thrown open the shutters

And told their truth regarding past sexual abuse; THE SILENCE BREAKERS people of the year.

Is it any wonder 90% of autoimmune disorders (MS, Chrone’s,RA, ALS) are experienced by women?

Autoimmunity is the action of the body attacking its’ self.

What do we all imagine happens inside us as we continually shrink to fit

As I have done most of my life.

My storyline began at birth changing myself around to wrangle some love from a depressed mother.

From there I went on to do things like stay silent while Les McCANN, a jazz musician of note, fondled my crotch in a pressing crowd while I asked him for an autograph for my boyfriend.

It was an expensive gift.

I stayed silent.

My boyfriend was overjoyed.

In my 30’s I was raped in Boston.

A young black man stole into my apartment.

My eternal hero, Detective Joe Lally, pieced together obscure clues and caught the guy.

As I testified in court I understood my voice was very important; I would make it through this horrifying experience-keep it together..speak through my walking-deadness

Because I knew that my voice that day represented all the legions of women who could not, would not speak.

The rapist was sentenced to 27 years in prison and died there a few years ago.

My hero, Joe, called to tell me of his death.

The backround fear I carried in the bottom of my stomach left.

I remember years ago when the wave of feminism was gaining and bras were burned in a potent but fairly messy swing of the pendulum.

Change happens this way.

A critical mass is reached.

The pendulum swings waaaaayyy over to one side and then, in time, we integrate that very change achieving balance.

Courage is contagious.

I am going to let this sacred wave of change wash away all the self-judgement, shame, silence, containment, stasis and the lost and weary undernourished dragon in me I left out in the cold so long ago.

I think I shall invite her in and tell her I am sorry for shutting her up so many times that her fire almost disappeared.

I will listen. Wipe her tears and polish her scales that I never let her use to protect me.

I will tell her it was too dangerous to allow her presence to be known.

We can share some tequila, maybe.

She will be my teacher.

My blood has cooled to a dangerous degree and I will let her gently warm me with her fire.

How I Keep Getting Up

“RENAISSANCE” naturally pigmented , 10’x3’earth, wood

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I’m talkin’ ’bout getting up in the morning and rising above the aches, weariness, thoughts of “not-good-for-much today”, undercurrent of hating the world and peeing my pants…

(Gotcha’ with that last one, eh?)

You may be aware MS is often accompanied by this symptom).

My greatest medicine is a way of looking….perceiving.

Our current outer world is uncivil, ill-mannered, divided.

It affects me so much.

I want to shrink away from it all;… MY pain.. THE pain just living our daily lives demands of each of us.

I find myself getting smaller energetically and less available to the barrage of bullets.

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SOME THINGS THAT HELP ME BE HEALTHY:

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1. Mental health is just as important as physical health and we can’t survive without it. My definition of mental health means we can easily access a reserve of energy to think new things, live moderately well in the unknown in the company of the natural anxieties arriving moment by moment. KEY word: A RESERVE of life juice. A savings account of self-love. HOW?

2. I put myself next to, behind or near people/beings of character through personal contact, video online, film, books, friends, animals.

3. I create beauty to keep myself entertained; decorating myself and my home and noticing it in others and telling them.

4. Remembering we only really have this moment after all is said and done, I cry, wipe the tears with 2-ply tissue, patch the hole in my skirt, apply lipstick and scent and roll on.

5. Depression finds my chest feeling collapsed. I remember my posture and get comfortably straight then breath into my belly. This creates instant pride in a good way.

6. Too much time alone and I get so bored with myself. Out we go- Emma and me into the wilderness of life. I go fast in my chair and sing stupid ditties into the wind.

7. Eating plants and green stuff is good but a slice of carrot cake with too much frosting is grand medicine.

8. Give something to someone. SOMETHING YOU VALUE to a stranger; a smile, even “Hello” will lift someone else but mostly you.

9. Down time with head under the covers is part of remaining healthy. Just get up before you forget the sound of youtr own voice.

10. Buy flowers. For your own precious self.

11. Remember the strongest truth there is: EVERYTHING DAMN THING CHANGES. ( NATURE points to this reality and the comfort/alarm in it). Comfort is not the goal.

12. Finding the good in the bad starts out being kindof exhausting but this is the most effective way to a thriving life I know.

I would say what keeps me on top of my game the most is subscribing to the philosophy of WABI SABI- the perfection of imperfection. Cultivating a way of looking.. .click here:

“Can You Help Me?”

“WANTON” ceramic,steel, 7x4x4

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This evening in Santa Fe is perfection in the cloud department.

I was rollin’ feeling very fine and then-

Emma adventured into a tangle of chairs and such.

Her leash got stuck in a number of places.

I carry scissors in case this too familiar scene is un-get-out-able

But I didn’t want to spend heftily for a new retractable leash

So….

ME to a benign-seeming stranger: “Can you help me?”

Now- I should know better than this because it has happened so often.

The energetic reaction I got from this person went from: “Oh my god…this wheelchair person needs something from me” and “I am late for the theater and tired of shelling out cash to the needy” as well as “WAAAYYYY too much need in the world! I can’t help EVERYONE!”

She displayed frustration, fear, impatience and displeasure.

Of course these are the stories I told myself from reading the energy evident in those nano seconds before I remembered to

TELL HER WHY I NEEDED HER HELP!!!

At which she relaxed and became my evening hero.

I wanted a cocktail when I got home..

Exhausted from the chaotic mess of an evening.

I am in my chair so things are not physically demanding but the psychological navigating that needs to take place sometimes leaves me breathless. My job is really to educate people about how best to be with me; attempting to foster a positive and fairly natural connection with a marginalized part of the population.

I like doing this but today I needed a good kvetch. It is often challenging to take care of myself AND those around me too.

Be Quiet

detail of sculpture,ceramic,wire,wood

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I have been somehow drawn to a Native American woman selling jewelry on the plaza.

She is perhaps in her 80’s, sits alone on a store’s stoop a full block away from the Palace of the Governors portal

Under which sit close to 100 Indians who have driven from far-away teensy-tiny towns 

To participate in the daily lottery which decides who can stay to sell work.  All others turn around and make the long trip home and try again another day.

It is an extremely lucrative affair as there are many regulations ensuring buyers are purchasing authentic Native American work

Not produced in China.

The old woman sitting alone captivates me for a number of reasons;  her fortitude-showing up EVERY day no matter the weather.

I began waving to her a few months ago as I passed across the street.

Sometimes she’d acknowledge me..sometimes not.

One day I saw her in Starbucks at the table next to me.

Cathy: “Hello.  There is something about you that feels special and I always enjoy seeing you as I pass by. My name is Cathy”

Lady:  “I’m Rose.  I started the whole program for Indians to sell their work under the portal but it got too political and so I left.”

Cathy:  Incredulous, I wait for her next words..

Lady:  “You know…you don’t have to wave at me every time I see you.  You can just notice I am here and OK and I can do the same.  You don’t have to wave.”

My experience with Native Americans is that their tolerance for my anglo TRYING TO CONNECT feels like wasted energy and fairly base.  Turns them off.

Following this exchange the lady and I barely connect at all; barely looking at one another and definitely no off-putting gesticulating.

To me, it feels lonely and not satisfying.

And yet…with time I am settling into the quiet recognition she is trying to teach me.

I am learning to contain my white-girl overtness and feel the sacred beneath.

I am letting myself be taught.

Georgia and Me

inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe’s “BLACK DOOR” series, ceramic,earth,bone, 30x30x4″

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I attended a lecture this morning hosted by THE GEORGIA O’KEEFFE MUSEUM by a woman who served Miss O’keeffe as librarian, housekeeper, companion and eventually caregiver as she became blind.

To hear her tell it, O’Keeffe was quite the toughie; prone to acerbic delivery in conversation and the non-mincing of words.  She was a challenging broad, shall we say.

We most often hear of Georgia in her prime , modeling unfettered independence sans family and expected norms of behavior

As she gifted the world with her way of seeing; lifting and shoving us all off the comfort of our familiar.

During the lecture I became self-reflective listening to this woman’s stories of Georgia aging often without grace;   frustration, bitterness uncontained, not so friendly or even less welcoming than her healthier days.

Access to grace is very hard won in the company of pain, fatigue, dissolution of body, mess and overload of general living stuff.

These things I am beginning to know.

Used to be that even when I was overly tired or weak I could always pull up grace enough to ensure my intimates worry about me was eased and a conversation could be had without the back round screech on the blackboard I could hear in their minds, concerned for my welfare.

Sometimes I sit here and Grace is cruising around town in her cherry red restored convertible Thunderbird with the top down miles from me.

I know not when she’ll return.

She never follows my orders.

This is when things get a bit lonely as I have very few I trust to visit myself upon when overtaken by our inevitable corporal dissolution.

I pull the covers over my head.

You think you’ll not be touched, I know.

It is a surprise how primal and naturally gritty and inconvenient just below the surface of normal we are.

The greatest gift those who love me can offer is   S…P…A….C…E…

With no judgement.

And the knowing that all we each can count on is change.

I might be nicer tomorrow.

Or not.

Or I might be.

And that would be nice.

For everybody.

My comportment is now quite unreliable.

It is what it is.

If you see me without a painted lip you’ll know to perhaps steer clear.

If I hadn’t the juju to pause and apply…I likely don’t have it for you.

Tears of a Bouncer

ceramic,5×3″

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Richey Rich sits on his old swivel barstool outside the only biker bar in Santa Fe.

It is smack in the middle of downtown having been at the same location for eons.

It it a little scary as the front plays host to the heavy metal of restored Harley Davidsons parked impeccably at measured distance from one another.

Such a show of intent mixed with low-hung choppers and such can serve to accelerate ones “roll by.”

But yesterday, as I was readying myself to hold my breath attempting to avoid the damp beer smell mixed with old sick

Richey Rich asked to pet my dog.

He wore many big silver skull rings and chains and a leather vest with vet insignias and various flags.

Eyes clear, he reached tenderly for Emma.

“My mother passed away not long ago and she left me a yellow legal paper with (pause to wipe his tears)

Forty two things she wanted me to do for her after her death (METALLICA playing in the bar).”

“What were some of them?” I ask.

He pulls out his phone to show me his two tiny dogs.

“This one (more tears) has dementia and the other passed two months ago.”

“Sorry I’m taking your time like this. ”

A giant of a man walks out of the bar, guns his bike and roars away with a wave from Richey.

“No..I really want to hear your story” I say.

“She asked me to take care of her dogs.”

“She told me to be sure to cut and care for her roses.  ALL of them and they go all the way around the house!”

“My uncles, all 4 of them and my Granddad are war heros.  I’m her only child so I got the list.” (tears)

“You have a good heart” I say.

“Mom said if you have a good heart you collect others who do.”

I reached with my good hand for his big paw.

“Bye, Richey…see you soon and thank you. You made my day better.”

“Bye Bye sister.”

This is my kind of church.

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