Visitation


detail of textile, pigment on wool flannel
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When my brother, the fabulous captain in the fleet of Southwest airline pilots

Comes to visit

He knows to prepare.

He has to do stuff.

He’s done it all his life;

The thing is.. he knows how to fix pretty much everything

Which really makes it impossible for him to just kick back

BECAUSE THERE ARE JUST SO MANY DARN THINGS TO FIX!

He cruised through my list in short order

And one of the items was to take a photo of my fabulous new BRUNO mechanical arm

Which lifts my wheelchair into and out of the car.

My brother-in-law wanted to see it in action.

So I stood there with the controls

And the chair attached just so.

Because it was a weird enough situation

Inviting a family member into the strange world of disability I live in

And because my brother and I just naturally make things fun,

I decided to ham it up and behave like I was at a car show

And introducing this new and wonderful model everyone should have.

My brother says: “See here..even a WOMAN can do this!

Even a WOMAN WITH MS!”

And we both collapsed into down deep gut laughter.

It was a moment I’ll always remember

Because of the ease with which we moved from awkwardness

Into silliness

And a cherished memory.

It really isn’t just mechanical things he fixes.

What Is Healthy?


textile design, 1985,pigment on wool flannel
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Having recently emerged from the grip of ‘the grippe’

I’m sitting here thinking about what, exactly it is that has changed

That made me want to get out from under the covers this morning

With a spring in my step, even?

For a couple of weeks I had no extra energy to NOTICE

Much beyond symptoms, where’s the remote?, the dog is getting constipated from too few walks, I already asked that friend to do me a favor and can’t ask her again, how dirty can one’s hair actually get?

Today, I recognize myself at last.

Here is the woman who has it in her to:

1. feel grateful
2. enjoy eating and the feeling of hunger
3. look forward to seeing friends
4. take a shower and feel good about the reflection in the mirror
5. have her attention on others when she wants to instead of just on herself
6. feel excited about the songbirds return to the bird feeder
7. not even know where the kleenex box is located
8. clean things
9. feel eager to find out what happens today
10. go for a full three hours so far today without one single wish that something was different

I love health.

I love that I can make up my own definition for what is is to me.

I love that that definition can change..

Just because I say so.

Friendship


textile designs, 1988, silk menswear
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Many years ago, a friend told me: “Cathy, you want to have this friendship on YOUR terms.”

It was not a compliment.

I’ve always wondered about that statement.

Was I doing something that evoked this ‘either/or’ kind of comment?

Sometimes, I think I am a high-maintenance friend.

I am a very connective person by nature.

But in order for me to do that well, I spend an inordinate amount of time alone.

People who know and love me are cued into the fact that stopping by my house unannounced is not a good plan.

I find it too startling to shift my consciousness from the unguarded state I am in within my home

To welcoming an unexpected friend with a civility I can’t and often don’t want to conjure up.

It has nothing to do with them.

It IS about the preciousness of cultivating my Self as the authentic woman I am becoming.

I am phone-phobic and prefer email in communication.

Does that mean I am hiding out?

Is that bad?

Honestly, I really haven’t the stamina to be that concerned about what people think of me.

On a very basic level I am trying to stay alive and functional.

My life IS on my terms.

I claim it as the ultimate gift I have been given.

I take great pleasure in spreading around any gold I might come across

As I try to do in this blog.

In fact, the sharing of my achievements and failures has proved very good medicine for me.

As I negotiate the hall-of-mirrors this lifetime has laid down as a challenge for me,

It seems to take a good deal of effort on all fronts as I shatter one mirror after the next to reveal the unadulterated ‘Cathy.’

Likely, there are prickly shards of glass stuck to my sweater as I exit the funhouse and head for bed.

My friends and family get nicked along the way.

I’m fairly certain, though,

That I’ll show up for the next round with my lips stained a berry red

And a lean silhouette dressed in well crafted clothes.

“Tell me all your stories,” I say…

And we sit down together for a cup of tea,

Enjoying each other’s company a an elixir

To the re-calibrating

We’re ALL having to do these days…

Supercilious


textile design on silk, 1988
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We are a vulnerable creature, us humans.

Put us naked out in a forest and leave us there even in the heat of summer and our survival skills would likely be sorely lacking.

And we all know this on some level;

That we are inherently weak

When push comes to shove.

And because we know this

It seems we have become inordinately good at making each other wrong;

Stuff like: ‘I don’ like your religious bent or your politics or your drinking or the color yellow you wear or your intelligence or your ease in social situations or your wealth or you have too many friends or you talk too much or I deserve that job you just got…’

I remember my ex-husband telling me one time that he felt superior to me when we first got together because he drove a 4-Runner and I, a lowly Dodge Raider.

Hmmmm…

We, as a culture in America, have pushed this ‘I don’t need or even want you’ thing to it’s limit.

Only because we know how frail we really are.

And I am a walking (rolling, limping) physical reminder of that backstory.

Some embrace me.

Others recoil.

I understand.

I really do.

I am no different.

Yeah, on a scale of vulnerability, I’m right up there..

But when I am suddenly confronted with a street person clearly on the edge of sanity

I turn away too.

I don’t really think we will have the luxury of turning away too much longer.

We’ve all used up the pioneering spirit of ‘I’M AN ISLAND’

And somehow we need bridges now.

Does that make us weak?

That we ‘need?’

Believe me.. moving from independence over to INTERdependence

Ain’t a picnic in the park

After so long believing we are the lords of our manor.

But my new digs have MUCH more interesting architecture!

Getting Dressed


painted terry cloth robe, 1987
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Yesterday I stopped to get a cappuccino with almond milk.

By the time I made it back to the car negotiating the ice and gravel from the past snow

The small and precious cup of warmth had spilled into my walker pouch and pooled in my handbag.

My cell phone was in there as well.

Someone told me that if your phone gets wet you should immediately stick it in some rice and it will be good again..

No rice in sight, alas..

I have had the same Coach handbag for over 6 years, I believe… probably a whole lot longer but it just felt too ‘non-hip’ to say that..

Since it was soaking wet with foam and coffee, I went online to see if I might replace it.

Thing is: I have needs..

Handbag needs.

It needs to be of a certain size to fit in the pouch.

Black.

Not too heavy.

No buckles or zippers.

Short shoulder strap.

Good quality.

Classic but young.

Functional but versatile.

Black (Did I say that already?)

Simple.

Goes with everything.

Well…

Every cell in my body is weary of cyberspace after looking for an affordable replacement.

This is how it goes in the land of high-maintenance body-land..

What should be simple is not.

I can’t just go: “I LOVE THIS!” and say ‘Wrap it up.’

No.. I must check if my fingers can grab the zipper.

Or pull on the glove.

Adjust the collar

Or hook the bra.

It is just so ridiculous at times that I push through the tears all the way to cracking up at the absurdity.

This is my life.

And today, since I can’t locate the right handbag online

I might just call my sister

As she has great taste and more computer tolerance than I.

Or I may just dunk my favorite bag in a sink full of water and try washing the thing.

I really have nothing to lose, do I?

Pride? Oh, that’s pretty long gone on many fronts.

And really? Good riddance, I say…

Girls With Claws


textile designs, 1988, various silks
__________________________________

If we, as women, find ourselves in the company of good and true girlfriends sometime in a life,

We ought to pause and reflect on what it took for us to get to that shining place.

Because it ain’t easy.

We are bred to find one another the enemy.

Are you prettier than I and will you gain the attention of the man or job or acknowledgement I WANT?

Do you have more money or better breeding than I and does that make you shine brighter and maybe keep me from acquiring someone’s attention I might need or desire?

Are you smarter than I?

Do you have a law degree and maybe that gives you a leg up on the ladder that I can’t even reach?

Is your home one I might envy instead of just taking joy you have it?

Do you know mysterious and secret things about Nature that might make you a better student than me?

Do you have a lover who is handsome and when he puts his arm around you, you look 16?

I want that.

I want those things.

I want what I have and everything else, too…

Four women shared a dinner table last night.

We like and respect one another a great deal.

We are beginning a study group together and this dinner was the first time we sat ’round a table together.

The energy between us began to get competitive and judgmental and wonky as the dinner progressed.

I was withdrawn from the start as I should never have been there because the place was too expensive but I had missed our first meeting and wanted to belong so I went.

One friend walked in looking like the pure gorgeousness she is.

I couldn’t just leave it at that..

I wanted her giraffe-print coat.

Then, when she talked about ‘three-day horse events and caviar and chignons and her family’s power’ I felt lonely and began to judge her.

It was my response to feeling lonely for her company.. the woman I know and love when we are by ourselves.

All of a sudden, when the four of us got in a group, the various defenses came out; our honed protective mechanisms.

We used what we knew to separate ourselves because we haven’t yet learned how to be together.

Some of us judged.

Some went to sleep.

Some told stories.

But we TOTALLY MISSED EACH OTHER!

We each left with claw marks on us.

Inadvertent, yes.

But there, just the same.

Women have to work to feel safe with one another and not hyper- vigilant that we’ll be left with ‘not enough’,

Is a cultural overlay that we’ve lived with for eons.

It takes honesty and effort to dissolve the armor we’ve all got that prevents us from truly enjoying our sisters.

Today, I’m trimming my nails.

And forgiving myself.

And all of us.

For wanting so much to love but often not knowing how.

The Man Box


textile design, 1987
___________________

My sense is that men are having a tough time of it lately..

We, as women, are in the throes of redefining ourselves.

The pendulum may have swung to a less radical and more integrated display:

ie.. we are not burning our bras anymore.

But, really.. we’re still figuring ourselves out as far as what THE RIGHT TO BE looks like for us.

And so it makes sense the confusion men feel regarding how we want to be interacted with.

The template hasn’t quite stopped reeling enough for all of us to get the outline drawn in the sand.

When I saw this short video of a big black guy; Tony Porter, talking about THE MAN BOX,

I couldn’t help but listen.

My pre-conceived (prejudiced) notions of seeing a guy like that, looking sort of ‘thug-like’ dressed in a fine suit and holding a microphone speaking to a full house of thousands of women,

Was more than I could ignore.

His honesty, apology and vulnerability moved me.

They also made me ache for all of us committed to evolution.

It’s such a chore.

And takes so long.

I feel blessed indeed, when I am in the presence of anyone who has done their work, effected change in themselves and fought the fight of unlocking the heavy chains of family and cultural status quo.

I am so moved , sometimes, in the witnessing of that kind of courage and tenacity in myself and others that I drop to my knees,

And say thank you to the Something-larger-than-me for what it took for us to make that leap across the chasm.

Tequila


textile design, 1988, herringbone silk
_____________________________________

I spent last Sunday with a charming man.

We had never spent an afternoon together so there was some trepidation on both our parts, I’d guess.

Me, because I wanted to somehow take the charge out of the ‘disability- thing’ and smooth out the rough edges a bit so we could concentrate on beginning to ‘learn’ one another.

He, because being a gentleman, he wanted to make sure I was ok and comfortable and safe.

Before we even went out he said: “You have to teach me how to be with you.”

I LOVED that forthrightness and clarity.

It gave me an invitation to match him there..

Meaning that I felt much less awkward in orchestrating my needs.

I know that a huge stumbling block in relationship to one with disability is whether the person feels patronized by offers of assistance.

If I help you , will you feel even MORE vulnerable? kind of thing.

People are generally kind of heart in my experience and just need a wee bit of a ‘go ahead’ from me to step into the hero’s role.

I give the green light by smiling. Or meeting their eyes with warmth. Or asking for help so they don’t even have to go to that weird place of wondering.

Sometimes, in new situations like on our date, I get in a muddle.

We had gone for a gorgeous drive through winter-esque New Mexico with her inky blue sky and blonde grasses and rust,purple,red edges of creeks easing through pastureland.

He took me to meet some of his good friends whom I really liked.

We sat around a big round table piled with books of art and poetry.

And we drank tequila.

Just a little bit.

On the way out, I had to negotiate three flagstone steps without a railing to steady me.

My date wanted to help and I found that I have been negotiating the world solo for so damn long that I didn’t even know where to grab or what to do to steady myself.

He says: “You aren’t using me..” as we both laughed nervously as I stumbled and lost all equilibrium but somehow steadied myself in the end.

Fact was: I DID NOT KNOW HOW TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HIM!

I passed it off as the tequila.

But really… it has to do with too long spent reaching INSIDE myself for strength instead of taking the chance to hone the trust it takes to reach for another with the expectation they’ll be there.

Fact is: sometimes they’ll be there,

And sometimes not.

But what a sorry life it would be to withdraw the reach altogether.

Addendum #2


textile design, 1988, silk
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A good friend gave me a welcome nudge the other day.

She mentioned I really hadn’t quite addressed the Social Security Disability issue I recently wrote about as completely as I might’ve.

And I heartily agreed.

What with all the outside coaching I received to prepare for my appointment like: “Dress like a bag lady and refrain from showering..”

I really was left with more missionary zeal than I had before,

To CHANGE THE WHOLE PARADIGM OF DISABILITY ALTOGETHER.

We, as a culture, are stuck in the antiquated and fetid position of forever shuffling our lame and infirm off into some shadowy place far away from the prized human specimens with all their parts shiny and buffed.

Must I actually stoop LOWER to receive governmental assistance?

Is it actually not enough that I use a walker to gain access to places others run and jump and spin their way into?

Or that I say prayers of gratitude for my access to ambidexterity as I’ve lost the use of my right hand?

No, I WILL SHOWER,

And I WILL wear the elegant clothes that help me feel beautiful,

And I WILL wear a particular shade of red lipstick.

Because hiding my light under a bushel basket will do nothing for me

But make me sicker.

So..the whole experience of playing the game of acquiring disability assistance was and is a valuable one.

My survival depends on this financial aid, yes.

And I am not stupid enough to shove my attempts at well being under their noses to make sure they smell my Chanel #5..

Going through the process has me acutely aware that the system is so very flawed and dangerous, even.

Shrinking our psyches and souls in order to fit through the keyhole beyond which the money is placed,

Is the antithesis of health-promoting.

Which, if the powers-that-be are awake..

IS COSTLY!!!!!!!

Small

detail of textile, pigment on wool flannel
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NOTHING – a poem
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The small of my back
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Hosts a creature with tan fur.
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I need nothing more.
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-CA
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Talking Loud


detail of painted textile
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My tone in prayer is new.

Louder.

Out loud, even.

I have spared God my true voice for eons, it seems.

And ‘it/She’ want to BE HEARD!

No more ‘mamby-pamby-make-nice’ at the altar.

Pretty flowers and incense and an ordered and lovely display meant to seduce.

No, the back of my throat is raw from sounds and tears and questions and humanness.

No more tucking myself in on the God-front.

I WILL BE HEARD.

Do I think adamance and ferocity will gain entry?

I am interested only in the bedrock of this life-thing.

A life lived cloaked in ermine rather than homespun has lost all ‘elan.

My voice on my knees is close to inhuman, sometimes.

I have gotten to that point very few times but whenever I do, the red carpet just appears and unrolls itself magically before me,

And, in that moment or whenever I reclaim enough strength, I step on.

And IT takes me.

And I am new.

And never look back.

And so very glad for the raw thing I just went through.

But only after it’s done.

And, as surely as I take breath, this deliverance can NEVER, NEVER, NEVER be concocted…

The theater of it must sneak up on me and grab me by the throat and kick me ‘hind my knees,

Until I fall..

At Your feet..

And let You carry what I cannot.

And You always do.

You always do.

You.

Halloween


“TWO”, 4.5′ x 4′, pigment on wool flannel, something like 1995
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In my book, Halloween holds no ‘elan.

It feels like a holiday for the privileged masses uninterested in or unaffected by a life lived ‘DE-masking’.

Folks take up the guise of goblins and pirates and mummies and witches.

They revel in the softening of themselves in order to slide into the skin of another.

I have spent my lifetime stitching together my very own costume.

And it truly did feel like a costume most of the while I was at work on the project.

“Fake it to make it’ as the adage goes..

The act of piecing together a solid sense of Self as a human, woman, life-participator-of-value,

When one has not had a reliable parent to back you up in the process,

Is a VERY long row to hoe.

And certainly NOT for the lazy or faint of heart.

There are horrors and mishaps and desert-dwelling years without much water.

But the result of such foraging..

IS AN AUTHENTIC SELF!

And that I have.

It is my highest achievement to date.

And I am uninterested and unwilling to pick a costume to cover this preciousness up.

She is too new and untried as yet.

But I keep feeding her with the finest of food,

Like people who can add to her song and huge dollops of Nature and an intravenous line of Spirit.

The restaurants I frequent ask that all masks and disguises be left at the door.

And so the few of us sit there with shining faces and don’t really say much of anything.

We just appreciate one another in our birthday suits.

My Friend and Foe


textile design, pigment on wool flannel
______________________________________

I love my bed. (this is not my bed in photo)

Sometimes it bores me because I know it too well.

Other times I think it is my absolute favorite and bordering- on- sublime place on the planet.

This, I know, is an unhealthy amount of attention to be paid to a piece of furniture.

I love it. I hate it.

Where is my therapist?

A symptom most people dealing with MS experience is a kind of fatigue not unlike the sudden onset of a full on stupor.

It is different than just normal exhaustion following a trip to the gym or a day digging a ditch (not that I would know..)

This core tiredness visits at inopportune times as an unwelcome guest.

I was sitting with a good friend yesterday having a charged and REALLY inspiring conversation.

Every cell of me was engaged in what we were talking about.

One moment all of me was there..

And the next moment 2/3 of me was gone or going.

I know this pattern well enough to be able to say: “OK.. I’m fading.”

And those that know and love me get it that I need to stop doing what we were doing and go home.

I am always a little bit miffed when I need to truncate my life like that.

It is then that I love my bed.

Until I don’t again.

And get up to meet life and give it a solid hand shake and move on down the road.

To see what’s next…

Hungry


detail of textile, pigment on wool flannel
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HUNGRY- a poem
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My heart is tired.
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And hungry. She needs the best food.
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But the shelves are bare.
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CA 2010

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Witness


detail of textile, pigment on wool flannel
_________________________________________

A few days ago I was honored to sit with three women I respect and feel safe with.

Safety is the key word as I knew without a doubt they would keep a confidence and not judge me.

The woman I call my ‘teacher’ is wise beyond knowing and has shepherded me through many hills and valleys.

Her recent request that I choose two women to witness a disclosure on my part challenged me.

Who DO I feel safe enough to invite to sit with me as I say aloud something I feel deep shame about?

My task was to make public something I had kept hidden for so long that I really did think I had forgotten.

And yet.. it still had me.

Had me in a stranglehold choking off life that wanted to come in.

And my teacher knew that unless I unveiled the secret I could never be free.

And so she asked me to speak it.

And let the three other women in the room help me hold it from that day forward.

The time leading up to our congregation was charged with release for me.

I found myself afraid to speak the thing and tearful at the thought of being so exposed after 20 years of hiding.

What would it be like to tell the truth?

It doesn’t really matter what the subject of my shame was.

We all have something wrapped tight and hidden in some secret corner, it seems.

The thing is, when I finally spoke the words; sent them out into the light of day,

The weight of them was far less than my private stronghold.

After my companions witnessing my admission, the core of it was still with me.

But all the charge was gone.

Gone.

Gone.

And I was free.

I look different now.

My skin is a little more pinked.

And where all that shame was is now ready to hold something else altogether.

And I trust it will come in it’s own time.

But I won’t hurry it as this space feels awfully fine.

Very fine, indeed.

Too Tired


hand-painted textile, pigment on wool flannel
_____________________________________________

Sometimes, I start feeling so good

That I forget.

It happened yesterday as I literally soared through my day.

It was a full one, to be sure.

I got up early, wrote, meditated, rode my new exercise bike, take Olivia for a roll, take lots of supplements and make a smoothee.

Take a shower, make myself beautiful, go to meetings and appointments, deal with disability stuff, rifle through unfiled papers to find something.

Go to storage unit and pray I can find one special photo to send to high school chum putting together a memorial for a friend, get dirty, dirty, dirty, find the photo, too filthy to do anything in public so go home.

Need gas in car to go further.

Hold my head in hands as I sit in car and wonder if I have it in me to do this.

Don’t cry but want to.

Save it for later.

Open car door, get out the walker, put in the gas while leaning up against car for support, get dirtier, put walker back in car.

Energy dangerously close to gone so stop at MacDonald’s for an iced tea to re-hydrate.

Pull over to side of road to be safe and rest while drinking tea.

Let seat all the way down to rest while I reclaim myself. Dog sits on chest.

Finally feel good enough to go home.

Pull in driveway and say prayer of gratitude I made it.

Unplug phone and computer and crash.

This kind of tiredness does not happen to me too often anymore.

It used to be my constant companion for years.

So, in a way, days like yesterday are good as they help me remember what is easy to forget:

That I AM HEALTHIER to be sure.

I could NEVER have pressed through a packed day like yesterday a year ago.

But I have got to take care.

Take extra good care of the health I’ve fought for and won.

Not squander it willy-nilly in undeserving corners.

I slept and slept and slept and slept last night.

And this morning I seem to get a reprieve..

Another go at the ‘life-in-moderation-for-the-moment’ thing.

It is another opportunity to refine my precious life.

A wake up call to my own value.

I want to live.

And live well.

So.. I’ll use today to begin again.

And thank God I can.

In The Raw

textile detail, pigment on wool flannel
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IN THE RAW- a poem
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I’m going to stand here
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Dressed in nothing more than my
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Unsolved heart humming.
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-CA 2010
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The Look


detail of hand-painted silk robe, 1987
______________________________________

I watched a guy sitting alone, yesterday.

He was in his early 30’s. Young.

At the table next to him sat another man with his daughter of about 4 years old dressed in a pink dress and barrettes holding her hair.

The first man had a book on his lap but he only pretended to read.

His real interest lay watching the table next door as the father gently negotiated breakfast with his daughter.

They were so connected and I could sense an easy and loving exchange between the two like they were of the same skin.

And of course, they were.

The other guy kept his surreptitious gaze on them for a long time.

He was enchanted, it seemed.

Curious, mystified and longing.

Awed by the simple theater unfolding of father and daughter.

It was the look of a person who was not too familiar with kids and had none of his own but wanted the heart-splitting love and utter trust that seems to come with parenting if you’re lucky.

I know this look of which I speak.

One can only concoct it if you’ve never had children. And I chose not to.

My art career always came first and in all honesty, I was never drawn in that direction.

Until now. Now, at a spry 55 years of age.

Now and only now do I know in my bones I would have been a great mom.

And so.. if you watch me carefully, you can catch me with THE LOOK sometimes.

Secretly watching others in that most precious of love-zones.. healthy family.

What does one do with all that love in there that went unused and unrecognized for the good part of a lifetime?

I often watch as I turn it on teenagers.

Kids hangin’ on the corner so wrapped up in whether they look right get a gentle and direct smile from me.

Money, sometimes.

Behind their “I’m so cool that I can’t say thank you” demeanor, I know they soften in my presence.

And so… I move through life spreading little tid-bits of love like that to the younger generation.

I know it makes a difference because I remember those that smiled at me.

Dad


hand-painted silk neckties, 1985
________________________________

My father died when he was 51.

He had this whole secret life at General Motors where he bossed a good number of people around.

And they let him I think because he was good at it, they probably liked and respected him and they needed their job.

That was his very private and unknown-to-us life.

Nice suits, 5′ tall nude woman sculpture in his giant, glassy office and the run of basement to top floor of the many- acred tech center spread.

The one day we kids were privy to this part of our father was on children’s day when we visited him there and sat terrified in the executive dining room for lunch as he awkwardly introduced his offspring to friends.

It pains me to think about it.

He sure looked the part in the glossy hallways there.

But I didn’t recognize the guy.

For me, I knew him catching minnows with us at the lake.

And making a real wooden red sailboat from scratch on which I spent many hours afloat.

Carving a too fast saucer run for us in the frigid air after a snowstorm,

And drunkenly waiting until he could go to work the next day.

I loved him.

And I knew he loved me.

But it was very quiet parenting he did.

More show-and-tell.

And because I was enchanted with power tools and turpentine and sawdust, he tolerated my tentative shadowing of him.

I would follow him to the workshop and he’d make stuff like enameled copper boxes or cast a fish in plaster from the creek below our house.

But something was eating him from the inside out and he kept it so quiet but I knew.

I didn’t know the thing’s name as I was so young but I was smart enough to see his unhappiness.

And so I was glad he had the secret world of General Motors to shine in.

And shiny he was.

I think he died of a broken heart because he spent a lifetime managing artists when what he really wanted to do was be one.

Living inauthentically takes it’s toll.

The legacy he left me is fearlessness around power.

Tools, people, big and scary corporate dealings, too- nice suit jackets and men in huddles.

He also left me the simple love of working with my hands.

He helped me become confident in my approach to life as a sensitive and creative being.

He inadvertently showed me the edge of madness.

That thing that happens when no one sees the real you.

And so… my life has been one of a collector; I find those in whose eyes I can see myself clearly, honestly and truly.

And I keep them close.

And closer still.

And I walk on with the solace of their gait beside me; barely but very surely there.

Jump Back


hand-painted silk jersey, 1987
______________________________

In my youth (elementary school) I had a friend named Mike Hershman.

One night we took 2 big cans of Nestle’s Quick and poured them into the pool of someone in our subdivision we didn’t like.

I remember feeling dastardly because I actually thought the whole pool would turn dark brown like chocolate.

Needless to say, that is not exactly what happened.

NOTHING happened. Except we laughed till we cried all the way home wrapped in the secret world of childhood shared.

I lived in the basement of our home which had a window well for ventilation purposes, I guess.

I loved living down there as I was far away from the bitter tailings of my family’s dysfunction.

One night, my boyfriend of 4th, 5th and 6th grade, Mark, took his chance and crawled into the window well trying to get into my room (invited guest).

Pretty bold, eh? On both our parts.

The stuff of legend.

The thing is that my dad came into my room just at the moment Mark was halfway in.

We were horrified.. all of us.

My father had no idea how to father, actually, and let my shame be the neon scarlet letter I wore for a long time.

That was a pivotal experience for me as I look back beyond all this adulthood.

Because even though I wore that shame around the house, secretly I LOVED THAT WE DID THAT!

Nothing neutral about those actions.

Devilish, desirous (as much as 10 year olds can muster) and just damn FUN!

I have had a postcard tucked into my bathroom mirror for years.

It’s a tattered black and white shot of a man and woman barefoot as they run with glee down a winding dirt road.

The feel of it is the same as the window well story; abandoned and free.

Where in the world did I lose that girl?

Intent on making her own rules needing agreement from no one.

I catch a glimpse of her behind the set of my jaw or twinkling shyly in the corner of my crows- footed eyes.

She is in the involuntary salivation driving past an ad for chocolate milkshakes.

And the disregard for the speedometer on a 2 lane lonely highway in the desert.

I absolutely love that girl.

Her voice comes from low in the belly.

And her lines are never straight.

She is prone to laugh at sick humor all the while wearing Chanel No. 5.

Serious, schmereous… yuk.

Louise Hay, who wrote a book, HEAL YOUR BODY on her ideas of the emotional causes of various diseases says under the MS heading: “Iron will, fear, mental hardness.”

I see myself in there.. too much deciding instead of allowing.

Eons of ‘armoring up.’

The affirmation she gives as an antidote is: “I am safe and free.”

I’m really up for abandon these days but what if I’ve forgotten how?

All I need is a little help to begin the sly turn of the corners of my mouth into the start of untamed laughter.

The rest will take care of itself.

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