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.

Mettle

ceramic,7x4x1/2″


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It took me longer to forgive my mother than the guy that raped me.

They both took things from me; stuff I needed to thrive.

The rapist rendered my physical self insecure which has lasted a long time and I am defended where I wasn’t before.

My mother disallowed my essence and spirit to recognize themselves as innately good and worthy.

She could only give what she knew.

I have forgiven them both

And directed my life toward re-mothering my own self; my way.

It will be a lifetimes’ work.

I surround myself with beauty and know I love it because I feel my own beauty through it.

Flowers, antique linens, light, space, silence, treats like a daily visit to the coffee shop where I am known and appreciated, living with an animal that teaches me every day what love actually is, sharing my talents and creativity with others, acknowledging beauty and goodness in people when I experience it instead of staying quiet, dressing well, cultivating good manners, keeping gratitude very, very close.

I never wanted kids.

Don’t remember ever having even one “biological clock ping”

And I am so glad because somehow God knew I needed this lifetime to be about me and my own healing.

I had so many unmet needs myself that I was spared eventual resentment toward children.

Today, I would be a great mom I think

But I am 63.

It seems a bit weird that dealing with the constricting challenges I do

My heart has more love in it than ever.

I did/am doing the work and am so very glad.

It could have been a bitter pill of a life

But feels more like a swim in an infinity pool;

98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

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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Knees

“ONE BLUE SQUARE”, 5′ x 5′, 1991, m/m

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This is one of my favorite works of art by Bruce Nauman.

The medium is beeswax and the impressions are of “five famous artists”.

I respond to it because it makes me think of the physical action of prayer; from the coolness of standing tall, our physique erect

We are drawn to break at the knees which instantly introduces vulnerability.

Surrendering to gravity the elevation of our brain comes down closer to the earth.

Physical height is halved and we perch awkwardly on our knees and toes.

This is not a power position in the sense of combat.

I am part of the 1% and therefore fortunate beyond measure

But there have been times where I have needed to ask my tribal extended family for help.

This kind of “asking” is very different than leaning into a partner or family or a bank for help.

This “ask” (I’m speaking of my recent crowd-funding project for Emma)

Is the type of need that heats up your knees;

Praying there with a shattered, fat ego broken in pointy shards spread around chaotically.

Actually, I feel sorry for those who have yet to experience this particular kind of deep dive

Because the loss of altitude changes one.

The vertigo kneads heart muscle on the way down.

The support I received allowing Emma to live longer from so many, known and not

Leaves me with faith;

In myself knowing how far I will go for love.

My heart is now embroidered with threads to you; I am not alone

So I must release this unintentional default mode (which feels so sticky sometimes).

Thank you for extending Emma and me your stellar and comforting company along our shared road.

I feel you there in the gift of witnessing me here.

We are good together.

A Little Civility

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In my previous life as an artist

I felt very good about my ability to create and spread beauty; one painting or sculpture at a time.

Rolling around in a wheelchair with marked loss of physical function prevents me from the creation of art-in-form.

I used to have so many dramas roiling around in my tired brain.

Things like deadlines and marketing and my presence in the community; an unrelenting barrage of “to-do’s”.

Without all that riff-raff I have learned to luxuriate in empty.

It scares me sometimes- that very emptiness can feel like obscurity or lack-of-potency or laziness or even disinterest.

This morning as Emma and I adventured downtown earlier than most

I passed by a number of landscape maintenance workers.

I said “Hola” or “Good Morning” or paused to chat about the fine weather.

I tipped my hat brim in acknowledgement of a hungry man rifling through cigarette butts.

The plaza sprinkler system came to life and it was quite a sight to see the pigeons fluttering in the mist.

My heart felt full to bursting from the salve of the tiny connections I had just made.

Tiny waves we are..each a part of but not separate from

the Ocean.

Good Morning.

Sovereign

When I married late in life I changed my name to his.

This unconscious soul-death move (for me)

Was just one in a lifetime of gripping the arm of the culture hard enough

To prevent my ignorant, fledgling identity jello-legs

From collapsing beneath me.

In my defense-

It was just part of the deal then and sometimes still; marry, surrender, serve.

Same thing in other arenas too:

Get hired, work too hard, shut up, be soft and supportive, let your boss’ hand rest on your butt and smile and smile and smile..

Have a child, don’t tell anyone how hard it is, try to find something exciting about diapers, have dinner ready when he comes home and smile and smile…on your way to the bedroom.

Go to church in a pretty flowerey dress when a button-down and khakis are your thing, listen to the fancy- robed man rail on about God and homosexuals and smile.. smile as your Dad in the pew next to you nods emphatically to himself…

Lately, when I speak my truth instead of remaining silent to avoid conflict

My voice arrives somehow fierce.

It can startle me and others

But if I take a minute to pause and acclimate myself to the authentic me I find that I love my true voice; a very different substance and gravitas mixed with dignity and self- appreciation.

The woman pictured in the photos above is a very good friend; Barbara.

We did not communicate regularly during the past few years.

She came to visit recently and drove up in this steely RV with impossibly elegant lines.

Her laundry list of shitty life-happenings included (she told me) divorce, breast cancer, career ennui, identity questioning.

When we lose ourselves how to we get Her back?

If we were performing in the costume of “GOOD WOMAN” too often in our life

Did we ever REALLY know ourselves at all?

My beloved friend Barbara, took her savings and invested heavily in her precious self;

Bought the van, carved out a month, taught herself all the stuff she needed to know about generators and driving a big rig

And she hit the road to feel who she is

Without any one else around to be accountable to.

When we sat together at a bar in Santa Fe she was strong! and funny! and smart! and vulnerable! and gorgeous! and curious! and very, very, VERY alive.

When I take myself out for dinner..just me and Emma,

The experiences I have build on themselves.

Over time I now understand myself as authentically Cathy.

Now I can choose more accurately who and what I am willing to give my life energy to.

This is my highest accomplishment.

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.

Steven Hawking Is So Sexy

“FINE LINE”, 11X11X4,M/M

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I say “IS”

Because he’d want us to remember what he taught us about black holes and such:

That matter just gets gobbled up and redistributed

“…like burning an encyclopedia. It changes into smoke and ash so actually still there but harder to read.”

Yeah…as he aged his teeth jutted out and he looked crumply

But few of us turned away, did we?

No.

We watched carefully in awe as his devoted students fed him.

We read about his jokes: to prime minister he says: “I deal with tough mathematical questions every day but please don’t ask me to help with Brexit”

And trying out what it feels like in zero gravity for fun.

We heard him say “..anyone who boasts about their IQ is a loser”

And listened as he explained string theory to us toddlers.

He lived sooooooooo widely

And punctuated the gravity of his challenges with a grin.

Absolutely disarming!

Knowing he had that grin in him made it seem like he’d be open to a hug if I ever saw him in an airport.

I wish I could have been his dinner companion just once.

The crip jokes we could tell!

He told us in interviews that even though he is physically disabled he tries not to be spiritually disabled too..(grinning).

So- to me his beautiful mind, unhidden vulnerability, sense of humor, humility, kind of adorable crumpliness, love of women (he had a number of big loves in his life), intention to distill math and science mega-thought into words we toddlers could grasp instead of just writing for his colleagues , his mixture of warrior and leprechaun spirit and a sassiness that just popped out at times

Makes him very sexy to me.

I love you, Steven Hawking.

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.

To Settle the Soul

“LIGHT”.5×4′,m/m

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The first crocus pushed through as harbinger of better days.

It is more of a challenge to enjoy long threads of “better days” in Winter.

I asked a friend to be my meditation “accountability buddy” at the beginning of February.

Structure helps me keep my word to myself;

“Monday- yes, Tuesday, yes”…. we traded this way via email for two weeks.

Suddenly, some thing got me and I recoiled from confessing to my friend that “no” had entered the arena.

The silent backstory in my troubled mind was bordering on cruel;

I’ll bet you know it well.

I’m not entirely sure that when the crocus begins to wake up and have the urge to move all the dirt balls and worms out of it’s way to reach the nourishment of light

That it does so without a number of rests, pausing to do whatever ( laundry, dinner with friends, get a facial?), and maybe even some time in stasis

Where the direction toward Life is unclear.

Can I love myself a little?

Be gentle in my requirements for success?

Maybe just begin again as I am ready

And leave the jaggedy tailings of mind fracking

By the side of the road?

Easy does it, Cath.

Enjoy the ride.

It’d be a shame

To turn any more precious moments over to The Judge.

He is so fucking fat.

THERE ARE CROCUSES COMING.

Saying What’s So


my friend Jann and me (different friend from birthday letter)

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Today, my wonderful girlfriend took me to a fancy place for a celebratory birthday breakfast.

As a gift she gave me a hand written letter I will keep always in which she told me who I am for her and how knowing me enhances her life.

I watched an OPRAH interview recently.

She spoke of having interviewed thousands of people from all spectrums of life; presidents to paupers and they ALL wanted to know the same thing:

“WAS I OK? WAS THAT OK? DO YOU THINK THEY HEARD ME?”

My friends birthday letter made me feel truly seen.

I continue to direct my consciousness toward unpeeling the layers of myself which do not feel authentic.

A giant swath of my life energy has been devoted to this quest.

In her letter she let me know my hard work in this arena is inspiring to her and the woman I have become and am becoming is someone she loves dearly.

Now, at a ripe 63 years of age

As I sit here in my wheelchair with almost total loss of my right hand and arm

I wonder what my purpose is?

The identity of an artist is gone.

I find it hard to believe I am not sorry.

My creativity remains very alive.

These days most of my life energy is directed toward upgrading the frequency of my whole being;

Frustrated Cath? Can I move myself into the frequency of calm acceptance then a step further into small steps forward ensuring something resembling success?

Soaking in depression as I watch a highly regarded film I was hating I wanted to leave but not to disappoint my friend sitting next to me. I left..thrilled to access the double doors as I exited the theater and feeling my frequency jettison into happiness at my choice to vote for mySELF!

I have a sense my core purpose is to become the best version of me by continuing to elevate myself when I am so often tempted to just curl in and armor up or let unconscious behavior go instead of saying: “Yeah, I did that and I am sorry.”

My friend let me know she sees me and I matter.

This gift of really SEEING one another and TELLING THOSE AROUND US THAT WE DO

Is purpose enough for me.

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.

Space


3 silly girls at a birthday party: Alexis,Cathy,Nymphe

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Recently I watched a wonderful film on NETFLIX: EMPIRE OF SCENTS.

One clip in particular fascinated me as the question: “What does space smell like?” was posed.

Only a handful of space-walking astronauts could answer this question with authority.

Not that they whipped off their headgear whilst meandering outside the space capsule but upon re-entry to home away from home they are sealed into a pressure chamber to allow the shift in atmosphere.

Coming in from outer space as the door closes behind them SPACE and its scent is captured in there with them.

After the cabin is re-pressurized they then take off their protective gear and for a scant few seconds can smell the scent of space.

The astronaut interviewed described it as “slightly metallic; maybe like a witches cauldron.” A little bit scary, old and a little bit mysterious was the sense I got.

It feels to me that all of us sentient creatures are just floating; crowded into the ante-chamber breathing the dark,hot breath of our centuries old history

Until the friggin’ re-entry door decides to open into maybe something that is beautiful and smells of hope.

How do we find the buffer for the acridness afoot in our world ?

Setting very clear boundaries regarding what we invite near us is key.

The effort to cleve to any intention I may set feels nothing less than Herculean.

There is always, ALWAYS slippage

And yet..

Sometimes I am RIGHT IN THE POCKET!

The things that work best for me in the current witches cauldron we are soaking in are:

1. good, authentic, forgiving friends
2. my dog, EMMA
3. a heating pad at night
4. always flowers
5. recognizing the little miracles when they happen like some stranger opening a door for me.
6. A good book
7. gratitude all day long
8. creativity
9. non-clutter
10. showing appreciation to people who enhance my life for seemingly small things like a superb cup of coffee.
11. prayer
12. lipstick.
13. film
14. tequila

onward we all go…

xxx

Re-Solve

detail,hand-painting on wool

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When I think of “resolution”

Like many of us do at this time of year

The word seems hard and one I don’t actually feel like approaching.

I never keep my word to myself, anyway, in the way of resolutions and feel like a failure.

Wondering how I could use this potent time of the beginning of a new year

And have an intention I’d feel eager about holding and continually re-visiting

I came up with this:

Create an IMAGE in my mind instead of a list of words which would be a symbol for the feelings and emotions I wish to evoke

That hopefully will translate to action.

Just musing about this idea brought forth an image of me;

Standing (no wheelchair) dressed in a butter yellow swirly ball gown (the kind a competitive ball room dancer would wear. I have always had the secret dream of being such…),

My shoulders thrown back as well as my head, arms outstretched in a totally undefended stance.

When I hold this image in my mind I FEEL what the essence of it carries: balance, athleticism, confidence, joy, faith, creativity, trust, Spirited.

Life.

Capital “L”.

This is the “ME” I will be living into this year.

Happy New Year fellow life-wanderers.

In the face of so much ugliness may we do our best to make and share a bit of the beauty we are.

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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Intimate Observation


painting on wool flannel

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The weather has shifted into raw winter here.

Everyone is bundled and puffered.

An occasional muffled greeting escapes layers of protection and meets my ears.

Emma’s face bravely pokes into the wind like the prow of a Viking ship.

As my beloved Santa Fe slips into the holidays

The stoic and frozen Native Americans sit very still under the portal presenting their offerings as they always do.

They are so beautiful in their contained presence; the antithesis of what is on the news.

The winter, between holidays, is our local time sans too many visitors

So we can see and feel one another easily.

How do those Indians keep sitting there prettifying a tiny piece of sidewalk real estate with blankets placed perfectly

Bordering their neighbors spread?

Where do they go to the bathroom?

Why do they seldom smile?

Over the years we’ve led our lives near one another with me and Em scoping out the plaza and the mysterious Naive American artists nearby, a few hundred feet away.

It calms me they are always there.

I count on their gravitas.

One time this past summer I had the thought to rise before dawn and spread anonomous rose petals all along the sidewalk where they set up.

Anglos can be mysterious too.

I didn’t do it thinking how they’d have to do the work to clean them up.

We all exist side by side with stories about one another

Or maybe not.

But we share air.

A brief look.

A quarter of a smile.

These seemingly inconsequential ocurrances seem meaningless

Yet, here I am writing of them

Feeling a soft and grateful heart.

We never know how the essence of us affects the world of “other”.

Add in the courage of vulnerability or out-loud recognition of those who matter;

Up your game to half a smile

And add a “Hi”

POOF! You got a community.

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.

Nope…and Yes


detail of painting

.

Aging is really shitty.

And not.

The other day I had a memory snafu the likes of which scared me to death.

This morning I ran into a female friend who blasted me with her opinion that all the sexual abuse victims voicing revelations hidden in pressure cookers for eons were, in her reality, just out for attention and money.

My tolerance level is at its lowest point.

No.

Nope!

I cut and ran from my friend.

I did.

Never did that before.

I used to have more Grace and room;

Space for differing opinions, values and humanness I might find prickly.

Aging and illness has given me a great gift of boundaries.

My physical body immediately registers energetic DANGER and unceremoniously steers me clear.

With the acute registration of “NO!”

Comes an equally insistent knowing of when and with whom to exhibit a hearty “YES!”

Yes to space and beauty and undefended connections.

Yes to nature and prayer and Emma and soul-polishing books and film.

Yes to eating well and rituals that keep me comforted and warm.

Yes to giving back to and investing in those who continue to support my well-being.

Yes to learning cool stuff and musing about big questions.

Yes to leading the kind of discriminating life that only comes with age and illness.

It is only by saying a definitive and hearty “NO!”

That I can even begin to know what and who to say a true “YES!” to.

All of It

.

Early this morning Emma and I jetted downtown.

The holiday streets were bare of humans.

The return of my wheelchair after a week of being in the shop and me held prisoner at home

Provoked a middle-of-the-road, fifth gear frolic.

The line at Starbuck’s was out the door already.

A single dad behind me in line chatted me up due to the cement grey solemnity he met in his visiting 3 kids.

I could taste the awkward hunger for some sort of bridge between them.

All of us turned to Emma to save us.

A loud, video-gaming recalcitrant young un’ pushed everyones’ borderline sanity into the red zone

Until a stranger braved an approach to the family and said: ” Please turn down the volume of the video game.”

The father huffed.

I had left my paper, sunglasses and Emma’s leash on a table to ensure I had a place to sit.

Negotiating my chair through the throng of holiday-altered folks

I returned with coffee to the safe zone I had smartly saved for us.

The single Dad settled his chicks at a table nearby slurping breakfast Frappuccinos and headed over to my table.

He stood chatting for too long and I understood he desired safe harbor.

I just couldn’t save him.

I needed the pseudo- peace of this morning to feel the simple pleasure of Emma in my lap and muse about how it feels to be a sensitive person; perceptive enough to pick up the nuances of the surrounding family constellations

As well as the slight fog of single people without family near.

I was pleased I did what I needed to do for myself this morning by not throwing the life preserver to the guy.

He ended up sitting at the community table by himself.

Feeling the world as deeply as we all do; the discordant symphony of Life itself

Tests us all moment by moment.

Finishing my coffee I left to roll about my beloved town.

A bit of silent communion was had as I caught the eyes of a few fellow travelers and smiled.

I felt in love with all of it.

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