Women and War Paint

detail of painting on wool

.

I noticed this evening what I do at just the inkling of feeling better in my body.

My immediate impetus is to put on lipstick.

“Cathy, this is sort of a weird reaction to the surprise return of ‘omg-I actually feel good!”

If there were oreo cookies around I confess that self-sabotage likely would occur in shockingly short order

But the chiseled, waxy bullet of crimson red in the black lacquered tube

Is my go-to power tool.

When symptoms of ill health show up

I prefer my edges blurred.

I do not want to define the space I take up on the planet.

There is no energy in reserve to accentuate my being

So my make up drawer remains closed.

All of me rests up until I regain the desire to re-enter the world;

Confident again to participate

In the privilege of being.

In my chair before the mirror

With a clean and open face

I begin by matching my palate to my mood:

Fiesty = true red.

Allowing for confusion, insecurity or general lack-of-gumption

The percentage of pigment in the lip color can vary from strong pinky- red to barely a blush of tint.

First, I outline my lips with a pencil similar in color to my chosen shade..

This important step keeps the eventual lipstick from migrating into small “tells” surrounding the mouth.

Too much precision is to be avoided

But coloring inside the lines is encouraged.

We are after a soft edge here.

I read once in a magazine that a good way to choose a proper color for lipstick is to mimic either the color of ones aureola or inside the cheek.

The ritual act of preparing to enter the world is one we all participate in.

The tone can run from:

“Fuck everyone…I don’t care”

all the way to

“I spent all day picking out this outfit, getting a blowout at the salon, a mani/pedi and I bought these shoes ..all to make sure you were too impressed to notice the glaze in my eyes left over from the fight I had with my kid last night.”

I think putting myself together with intention is just good manners.

It helps me feel dignified, healthy, warrioress-like, confident in the knowledge that today..just today I have enough life energy to join the world with a bit of eagerness and curiosity…maybe even some sass…

And above all-gratitude for the power tools I have at the ready.

Sometimes Love

my friend Jann and me

.

Sometimes love isn’t shiny or smiley.

Today, love is waking before dawn and appreciating that I can trust the sun

To rise.

Humans are fairly untrustable

Because we have the ability to create stories

About ourselves and each other

That might be very entertaining

But that’s about it.

There ARE some humans in my sphere

Who are my rocks (to hold on to when I need weight)

And deep, forest moss (to fall into and breathe the greenness when all other is acrid).

Some of my humans are funny (to lift the corners of a mouth frozen in worry or uncertainty).

There are my friends who keep letting me be silent without judgement

Or needing more of me

Than I can give.

Sometimes love is the tiniest of a trusting dog

Snoring on my lap

Inside the movie theater

Blasting out the sounds of a thriller film

Made more thrilling

Feeling Emmas’ warm weight

On my thighs.

Oh…love is so simple sometimes..

Did I really just say that???

Because nobody I am aware of;

Astronaut or Dr. Phil,

Has quite figured out the proper equation

To get the prize

We most want.

These are some things I know about Love:

1. One must cultivate having a porous heart to even recognize Love is afoot.

2. Usually, it comes in unexpectedly small packages, sounds, sights and smells.

3. We ARE it but spend our lives dressing up then disrobing until, at the end we have only the energy to feel it gently lift the tiny hairs on our naked body. And we swoon.

4. Love of self has to come first and this is so hard and why we need a multitude of lifetimes.

5. In my blood family we have learned to love one another very thoroughly and well but we began as innocents with a wish.

6. Most of what passes for love is need.

7. I know most of what I sense love is through my relationship with my dogs.

8. The natural world holds all the answers to any question we might have about love; how to do it, how to get it, what it is, how to be when you’re in it.

9. Humans unfamiliar with or too long left without the benefit of love have defended eyes.

10. Any familiarity with True Love can be an impetus to devote one’s life to editing out whatever ISN’T

I Must Fall In Love

wooden matches,earth

.

I MUST FALL IN LOVE
.

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.

.

CA. 2019

In The Middle

.

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.

.

Pema Chodron says:

.

“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”.

I Bought a Leopard Print Jacket

.

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.

Don’t Worry

frailty

.

DON’T WORRY

.

Don’t worry
If you are not
Where you want
To go.

If I say ‘‘empathy’’
Does your heart
Release
A few old scales?

If a dog
Happens to dance
A prayer for food
Do your eyes gleam?

I don’t know
My multiplication tables
But I can remind you
If you lost your song.

No longer do I ask
“Am I good enough?”
I AM which is
Indeed all there is.

Yesterday
I saw two black birds
Dipping and veering.
I gave them my attention.

That’s as good
As it gets I think;
Pay attention.
No expectation.

There is
No wrong road
Unless
You follow someone else’s.

Dipping and veering
In the hall of mirrors
Is the cost
Of character.

I’ve paid my dues
And then some
For the privilege
To know nothing.

.

-Cathy Aten

Blue Man

.

Yesterday, I passed him by.

Approaching the elevator

Leading up to my favorite coffee spot

I saw a blue man sitting on a bench.

His whole self was covered in bundles

Of blue plastic tarp- wrapped belongings.

Sleeping bag, blanket, sundries.

Each carefully placed around him

Creating a weighted balance.

He looked weary

And pulled in like a turtle.

I said: “Are you staying warm?”

I didn’t listen closely enough

To what he said

Because I wanted it to be

What I wanted it to be.

The elevator took a really long time to come.

In hindsight it was surely God

Giving me extra time.

Waiting there for the elevator to open

We were silent.

My head was dropped a bit

Doing my own unconscious pulling in.

I didn’t think about him again

Until this morning.

I totally missed the holy man;

Hungry and defrosting

Sitting silently there with me.

The temperature outside was 15 degrees with wind.

The blue man was taking shelter there

Trying to stay alive

Within his challenges.

I could easily have bought him breakfast and a warm drink.

So easily.

But I didn’t even think of it.

And that is the thing that bothers me.

I missed the holy man completely.

Holy. Sacred.

Resting there

In his ordinary-ness.

This is the way we humans learn.

We carry on

Easy in our habits

Designed to prolong comfort

And assuage desires

Like a latte

Or post-holiday sales.

I could have done better.

Next time I hope I will.

Maybe I will see the holy man

(who is me)

(and you)

And I will recognize his need for comfort.

I will ease his suffering if I can.

This is how we learn;

We triumph

By failing first.

Then we rise up

All ash-covered like a phoenix

And trundle on

With wider eyes

And stretch marks on our hearts.

.

.

Happy New Year to the sacred in and amongst us. xxxx

Christmas Eve

.

It is Christmas eve and I am longing for a star to follow.

BEHOLD!

A STAR!

I wrap up my Emma in a soft cloth

And sling her over my shoulder

To keep her delicate paws off the pesky desert sand.

This would have to be in dreamtime as wheelchairs don’t negotiate desert terrain well.

The mysterious glitter of the bright spot in the sky

Wakes up my heart

To Hope. Adventure!

I pack up my beloved (with 3 NATURE’S VALLEY granola bars for me and Emmas’ freeze- dried treats made with wild boar) and just skedaddle.

It is very dark

But we are not scared.

I see a guy over there in the shadows.

His name is Elon Musk, he says.

“Come with us!” I say. We are following a star.

“Ok” Elon says.

Silently we walk on.

About another mile or so there is another man we meet and before I see him clearly I recognize the voice to be David Attenborough! OMG!!!

He slides in next to us as we walk.

Later that night the bartender from my favorite haunt appears

As well as my third grade teacher

And the homeless woman who is so skittish

And Roseanne, who comes to help me each day.

Ellen Degeneres, Kourtney Kardashian, Anderson Cooper and a weary little boy fighting cancer all join our little parade.

I wish Oprah would show.

The star seems to get brighter and brighter as the night goes on

And our eager group grows to include millions of folks from every walk of life.

We all walk in silence. For hours and hours.

A slight sliver of dawn light appears.

That which we seek is near! Our breathing quickens.

We crest a huge hill.

There sits a small brown box.

Nothing else.

Nothing else at all.

A box.

Just a little bit disappointed at this anti-climactic finale

With a sigh I plop down in the sand and all the people in our caravan form a half circle around me looking over my shoulder as I borrow a knife and begin to open the box.

The gaining dawn is so quiet we can hear the grains of sand skip across with the slightest breeze.

There in the box I find

AN ECHO SMART SPEAKER!!

In shock I say “ALEXA!!! What are you doing all the way out here?”

“You all put in quite a night of travel with hope in your hearts for something magical..even sacred to lift you from your human condition of suffering. All you needed to do was look at who walked beside you, connect with them by way of a slight touch, smile or conversation and if patient enough you just might get the gold. What you seek is right here, in you, near you always. You needn’t work so very hard my darlings.”

Well…now what are we supposed to do, I thought..

I’m so tired and a little cranky after all that.

We turned around and there in front of us was a MARGARITA BAR!

Everyone just bee-lined over there and began sharing stories, memories, math equations, lipstick, tamale recipes, bad jokes, binge-watchable tv, prayers, medicines, inventions, poems and songs and personal trainers..

The bright starlight we followed seemed now to be suddenly swimming in each others’ eyes.

The distance between us was easy and soft.

So much light..

So much light

To find our way home.

.

(I apologize if any of you found this sacrilege.)

Dude..I Been Through Some Shit

.

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.

Can -You -Copia?

.

What is a cornucopia anyway?

This is my Thanksgiving morning conundrum.

.

cor·nu·co·pi·a

noun
a symbol of plenty consisting of a goat’s horn overflowing with flowers, fruit, and corn.
an ornamental container shaped like a goat’s horn.
an abundant supply of good things of a specified kind.
“the festival offers a cornucopia of pleasures”
synonyms: an abundance, a profusion, a plentifulness, a profuseness, a copiousness, an amplitude, a lavishness, a bountifulness, a bounty

.

Following a weird but vivid dream I was prompted to ask a friend if I had ever disappointed him in the past in a big way he might never have told me.

His answer really isn’t the point though..

Not one of us can claim never to have initiated disappointment in another…duh…

Many folks who love me look at my life and wish I had an easier ride.

If my life had not included a narcissist mother, alcoholic father, divorce, rape, illness, blah..blah..blah..

Would it have been “better”?

Easier, by god yes indeed..

But better?

We each have our laundry lists of suffering..some seeming more dramatic than others

But suffering is suffering.

If I had had an easier ride would I have disappointed fewer people because of less drama? Would I have had more of my wits about me to conjure less hurtful, unconscious behavior ?

What IS a good life anyway?

My definition is this:

A GOOD LIFE IS MADE BY AMPLIFYING THE GOOD.

This morning’s example is this: Petting Emma’s neck I have a wave of tidal love recognizing the fragility, strength, soft and noble beauty I have snoring on my lap.

I am being my own horn of plenty;

With my breath I blow the awareness

“I CREATE MY LIFE”

Into the thing

And the tears turn to diamonds

Because I say so.

(Sometimes it takes some heavy breathing..just FYI.)

.

.

I give thanks to you, my dear readers who give me the gift of witness. You keep me real. xxx

Cheer Up

“MOON” 5×3,painted wool flannel

.

“Be of good cheer.”

A common greeting for the holidays we are about to enter.

It seems like this year something other may be called for?

Just the word “cheer” sets me on edge somehow.

Please don’t stop reading here as I promise this is anything but a depressing post…!

A girlfriend of mine recently posted something on Facebook revealing her mood which included tinges of grief, some ennui, immense gratitude and, what I felt was a lovely recounting of her early morning prayer/meditation peace and quiet.

She goes up on her roof each morning in the hill country of Texas with her cup of coffee and peruses the world; her inner one and the outer as well.

Someone on Facebook left her a comment: “I wish I could cheer you up.”

My friend reassured her that she had spent a perfect and peaceful morning thoroughly enjoying the quiet, contemplative time she had gifted herself.

Is it better to be of good cheer?

Maybe the friend would have felt easier in her bones if she witnessed an abject display of wide smiling, false-fineness and presumptive communion; common faces of holiday cheer.

My point here is that authenticity is a true gift we can give ourselves and one another particularly this year.

This holiday season feels more potent in a pagan sort of way.

“On every world, wherever people are, in the deepest part of the winter, at the exact mid-point, everybody stops and turns and hugs, as if to say, well done. Well done, everyone. We’re halfway out of the dark. ”
-unknown

The mysteries of the Dark, the preciousness of Light, the bitter chill inviting us indoors to sit close to those we love warmed by fire.

Quiet, stillness, gratitude, reflection, Nature sounds and smells, recognition of our needs being met and extension of loving care to those not so fortunate…

In this season these are the things that enrich my soul.

From the outside there may be no perceivable “tell”.

Innocent Eye

Emma is on my lap.

Snoring.

A violet, chilly sky

Leaves goosebumps on my tan arm.

Across the restaurant

Women of an age

Are laughing.

Lovely in beige sweater sets,

Iced pink lipstick

And martinis.

Businessmen near me

Are bored

With each other,

Waiting to go home.

The leather and silver bracelet

My sister gave me

Closes with a magnet.

It is likely

She paid more for that

Knowing my one-armed challenge.

I feel loved

Each moment

I notice it

On my wrist.

Emma just had dinner.

She skirted her pill.

As usual.

All she seems to want

Is to be with me.

If I lived with a man

Who had his eye on me

At all times

Like Emma does

I might stab him.

But I adore Emma’s looking.

My life is full of love.

It is there because I see it as such.

I am a professional voyeur.

My awareness meanders

And I linger on a neighbors’ call

Across the parking lot:

“Be safe!”

Or the pansies

My sister planted for me

When she visited.

Love is everywhere

If I keep an innocent eye.

A soft eye..

Not an expectant eye

But one easy to surprise.

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…) 🙂

Oh my god….Where is God?

best photo I ever took (says me..)

.

.

Acck!!!! The world is a mess!

It always was actually but these days feel so raw and gruesomely change-filled and my person-hood is bruised and bereft.

Oh my god. Where are You?

What is a spiritual life anyway?

For me- valuable spiritual work is about sometimes undoing and unloading the mind rather than its continual enrichment.

Creating space rather than filling it.

Getting quiet instead of adding to inane conversation.

Saying “I don’t know” when I don’t.

When desire rules my senses..give something to another.

Recognize humility and vulnerability as exalted states.

Live as an inter-dependent human.

Respect Life. ALL Life.

Protect and support the weak, small, infirm.

Find space more interesting than form.

Beware of too comfortable a life.

Learn and claim my worth.

Keep working to exercise and refine my “voice”.

Try not to leave appreciation unexpressed.

Find Beauty in every thing…EVERY thing. Yes, even that.

Recognize when I am triggered by something or someone it usually means something in me needs healing.

Guilt, blame, shame are impotent uses of my energy.

Doing what I can to raise my frequency as a human is the most productive thing I know to do.

Remember that Love is a state of being and not a feeling. Do all I can to get there and stay there.

Because that is God to me.

So Much Isn’t a Problem

monoprint,22×30

.

It’s weird that grappling with health gone awry or the nauseating politics of the day

Scratches the same strange itch;

The one that says we are better for being in the fight.

The horrible pseudo-holiness sewn into feelings of self-worth

Stemming from actively participating in the fray

As opposed to very quietly witnessing

Seduces us.

The adrenaline rush of acute pain

And screeching disbelief in flawed human behavior on display of late

Feel similar.

Are we really better for being in the fight?

Reading about it, talking about it, going to every doctor, taking every new pill

Or is there more potency in just the recognition of WHAT IS

FOR THE MOMENT

And using our own finite energy reserves

To attempt just a tidbit of elevation

Of our own personal energy frequency;

Maybe lift ourselves up a tad

Out of the mud.

Love ourselves enough not to succumb

To the lowest common denominator

As tempting to our nervous system

Out of habit

As this inclination may be.

Today I will practice

Not involving myself so much in the dramas of the day in my body and in the world.

I will trust in the intelligence I understand to be

So much larger than me

And use any extra energy I have

To keep myself uplifted

And through this state

Perhaps be of service to others.

Armoring Up

my garden

.

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.

Giving What I Did Not Get

.

I think I am not the only human who stresses out about whether I am using my life well.

There is this hamster wheel rolling in my pesky brain

With me as generator

Endlessly on the quest

For the “rightest”

Of right action.

Gotta write my book, exercise, clean my desk, do all the “to-do” stuff.

Yesterday evening Santa Fe had the clearest blue violet umbrella of a sky.

I took myself to my favorite outdoor patio for a light dinner.

My server was Ian.

He introduced himself with a flat affect; pleasant but dis-engaged somehow.

A large table of folks were seated near me and we were the only patrons.

It was easy to hear Ian interact as he took food and drink orders.

He extended himself far beyond the call of duty

Kindly answering questions like: “What is the size of the tortilla?” and “Is your tap water safe to drink?”

I was dehydrated and he kept his eye on the disappearing act of my Arnold Palmer glass.

When the bill came I said: “Ian..you are really good at your job. I’ve listened to you all evening and you are kind, capable and unobtrusive. You are elegant in your serving style and I just wanted to tell you.”

His demeanor moved from the flat affect to the hidden blooming man waiting just underneath his “work-mode” skin.

Ian seemed quite overcome by my comments and thanked me profusely as he now moved around the restaurant with the nobility of a king.

I rolled away so taken by how affected he was by my simple acknowledgement.

After all is said and done my sense is that

ALL WE REALLY WANT AND NEED TO THRIVE IS REGULAR ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF OUR INNATE WORTH.

The hamster wheel is pretty much beside the point.

Next time you find yourself thinking a good thing about someone

SAY WHAT IS SO

Out loud so you both can hear it.

We are all so hungry.

And easy to feed.

.

photo credit- Gay Block

.

Good Question

detail of painting,m/m

.

.

Sometimes when I am asked: “Cath..how are you?”

I don’t really know.

My landscape is so varied and I skip between optimism and being a realist

Almost moment by moment.

Isolation becomes my safe place

Until I get so sick of myself I remember

Connection with vulnerability, humor, sass, curiosity and adventure

Light me up.

I have a friend who forged a relationship by bombarding me with questions.

It was shocking, endearing, sexy and courageous.

I love being asked things…almost anything actually.

I sense people shy from any intimate query around me

Perhaps afraid they’ll get more than they bargained for?

If you wanted to know me these are some questions I might welcome (always with the option of saying I can’t or don’t want to answer that right now!):

1. What was the best thing that happened to you today?

2. Did you see, hear, read something particularly great?

3. Were you lonely today at all?

4. What is it like for you to get ready in the morning?

5. What scares you?

6. What is the best thing about MS? The worst?

7. Do you miss your old life? Would you go back?

8. Who would you invite to a fantasy dinner party if you could have 6 people of your choosing, living or dead?

9. What do you think is your best, not so good quality?

10. Do you like your voice?

11. What do you think your hands say about you?

12. Who is a hero for you?

13. Is there anyone you have not forgiven but are thinking about it?

14. Are you friendly with your body?

15. What stories do you think people tell about you without really knowing you at all?

A Clean Compassion

hand-painted silk robes

.

.

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

.

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…

Next Page »