Yesterday, December 31, I was scooping the back yard and found a poor woodpecker lying feet up at the back of the yard near the utility pole. The ending.
The Beginning — January
The first day of this year featured the Green Purse — shopping with my daughter, as we continue to heal with each other. Great purse, too small, and now hanging on the door knob in the spare bedroom
The parable of love addiction and the foam roller at Pilates was on day 2.
Day 3 is calm, relaxing massage with acupuncture, then finding the intense focus required to drive home.
On the fourth day of this new year, Bird-On-A-Perch, a Pilates position, and then I am walking better. Running errands for coffee beans and cat food. The dangers of shopping at night and ordering books during the day still linger. Sitting in the sun.
By the 29th, Mark has had enough of the Killeen Daily Herald and is back home in Austin. We are both relieved this venture is behind us. Arthritis becomes my challenge, coloring days and sometimes nights. We work into a routine. Me, working on my health and Mark, looking for employment.
Acupuncture, massage, clean living and the gym are becoming my fast friends. I bought a large, black roller, like the ones at the gym. Mornings begin slow. I did set the alarm once for 6 a.m. on February 6 for a 9 a.m. Pilates group. On Saturday, 2/11, I work in the studio to finish the two small paintings for the 5×7 show. I didn’t finish.
I like preparing surfaces as the ideas are slow in coming.
Back injury — mid February is a game changer. The occuloplasty and brow repair is moved to March 5. A Medrol Pack takes care of all the pains but the acupuncture and cranial sacral save me through the March surgery and beyond
The hard job of healing continues, with acupuncture and the addition of a chiropractor and Pilates physical therapy. I continue seeking, understanding and standing with my truth.
On March 7 I took my last tapering dose of an antidepressant. A spiritual healing is taking place. I can feel the pain of 2009 and last year. It is not easy. Many years of antidepressants … too many.
Saving June bugs
from the water bowl on the patio
He rescues the drowning bug
with a wooden spoon, commenting
The little guy is exhausted from all that swimming
Behind the heart is a breath
Behind the heart
Near the spine
Breath embraces heart
A Day To Think
try not to talk out loud
be still and know
try not to speak
keep the stories quiet
focus on the feelings
this path will lead to truth
stay inside yourself
do not splatter on the world
or spew on the deserving
live in this moment
a naked new day spreads out
sprinkling drops of truth
which evaporate before I can
capture the essence of the hour
before I rise
careful or all is lost,
gobbled up by the first lies
of the stories in my mind
come and sit with me
feel the truth in the touch of my hand
let us bless each other through our embrace
heal the hurt with our eyes
as we sit
observing ripples of water at our feet
Knowing the pain is a release
I wonder how
it came to be for me
thinking about far away
between the lines
and the fear
and the mediocre
May and June
The month floated by with the birthday towards the end. I wonder why some people can not accept that some birthdays do not need a celebration?
Mid May the transformer on the utility pole in the backyard blew up. The top of the pole was on fire. This could have been a sign or an inspiration.
Then it was June and I perked up. Spring this year has been the best season in some time. Everything is growing, blooming. The drought may be lifting it’s dry, emberred head. The sprinkler is on out back. Toads are swimming each night in the dog’s water bowl. In the morning the water is a dark brown from the mud pods they deposit. What is that? Each evening the air is filled with sweet toad songs. Sometimes we sit outside, listening.
My struggle is the return to my studio.
July moving into August
Too hot. The dogs and I are bored. We are too bored to entertain ourselves. I have a hard time getting up and out to the gym. I wait too long to walk the dogs and then it is too hot. It is hard to breathe at times. Texas summer and it’s conservative politics. I would not miss it. I would not miss it.
July 13 — Several days of rain and relief from the heat, but the mold rules. Allergies and the barometer have brought on the dizzy, foggy headed, ears-hurting Meniere’s. The following poem was written on the 17th. Utility workers were here early, drilling a big hole at the back of of the yard to replace the utility pole that caught fire in mid May. The dogs are having a difficult morning. While the workers were taking their lunch break, the yard men showed up and began their kind of noise. Now my head is spinning and I need to be preparing for a business phone call. I write to help ease my fogged mind.
”Noise” ”The Phone”
Double digits, fake line
Speaking through the side
Of nothing from
Take it from the top
To focus, focus on
What I’m saying
Double digits through the side
Nothing from the beginning
Top, side, line
Here come the anxious feelings
Overwhelmed with small things
Talking, hearing you talk
Spins my ear, fogs my brain
Leaves me limp, used up, insane
Noise, how it ruins my day
It’s nervous, edgy stabbing
Vibrates my brain
Every fiber resonates
With your inflicted pain
You are a hideous whore
Sending my brain …
And then the phone rang
It is Monday and I’m sick, severe ear pain on the left before vomiting. I am now in bed, quietly writing sideways, with little dog, Birdie, grooming herself in her bed near me. All three dog beds are occupied. It is not easy in the fog. Bed is the refuge and Valium is the doctor. I would like to be better, thank you very much.
Calm my mind, ease the words
Whisper in the night. Whisper
In the night when only the far away traffic
Hums, sometimes rumbles
As long as it isn’t on my street, by my window
Isn’t that the way of the city? … the world
As long as it isn’t on my street
But if we didn’t live here
We wouldn’t have Whole Foods
Of this and that
A death, a birth, a union
A beginning, an end
One word, one step
Too close, a sigh
one word, one step
I cry happy
One step, one word
Draw near, warm laugh
Your hand closes over mine
One word, one step
8/9 A Thursday
I can’t get past it
Must be genetic
Grandmother tested nap time
Dogs in line
Heads on the pillow next to mine
Nap refresh, how can I make it more clear
Only an hour
The mind is more steady
Frayed edges hemmed
A long time ago
I should have stayed home
Not feeling well
Immediately, I went
A long time ago
To a desolate place
With fatigue and fever
Immediately, I went
September through October
Ah, September. Labor Day. I cancelled my worthless, time-wasting LinkedIn. I mean, what is it good for? Recently, LinkedIn must have changed something, because I was getting postings and updates from people I had never heard of! I kept trying to “hide” each one, but the list kept getting longer! I went into preferences and tried changing any and everything that I thought would make the madness stop. Then, last night about 9:30, I just simply unsubscribed. I felt so much better! It was like a popularity contest that wasn’t making my life any better.
This month I am aiming for more consistent work in the studio and more focus at the gym. More writing and drawing in my journals oils the wheels in my brain, and actually creates a better working environment for paints, crayons, pencils, canvas and paper. Blogging clears my head and offers a space to add the best of what appears in my journals. Ah, September. We should have cool (tolerable) weather by the end of October.
September 16 — It is raining. A nice day to clean the studio and go through journals. The following are writings that jumped out at me. Some I recall and some I do not.
Where is the mind to decipher the problems I created for a solution to the waking hours that crumble at my feet. (undated, written on a piece of paper loose in one of my journals, dated 7/6/2012)
Three years since you died. A long time; a short time. I am sorry you were so very sick. And scared. The family blew apart. But you may know this. Again, you may not. I don’t know which would be worse or better.
Time layers life. Nothing stays the same and nothing moves on. I think of you most days, especially during the full-moon nights, as that is the time that you passed from this world. To what? “We don’t know,” like you said months before you died. I’m okay with not knowing, as not knowing is something. It is the mystery that religion talks about — don’t they? Or did we make that one up?
Thinking of you in love. Liz
The Distance (another short story, began 12/14/2006)
Distance. There is distance and in it is a calmness that heals my ravaged mind. My happy soul sings through the weakness in my step. Stand still and wait. The breeze will always blow. What difference does it make if the day is short. The sun is lovely in the 4 p.m. breeze. Hope is all I need.
I call my mother to tell her I have a job interview. “Oh.” she said. She was raking leaves and the wind scattered her piles into the yard. I told her how happy I was. She said, “Well, I hope it lasts.” and “You should never have gotten into that marriage.”
But now I am happy to be alone and why live in the past? We can’t change it. We only have to focus on today and make a flexible plan for tomorrow, I explained. She was silent.
Living in the past is a rabbit hole I don’t want to go down. She was silent.
I don’t know how to visualize Mother’s anger — her anger with me.
Back to late October and my notes from a retreat for artists at Laity Lodge mid month.
Bits and Pieces… Liz’s notes on talks by Bruce Herman: and David Dark (noted second) author of The Sacredness of Questioning Everything
Bruce Herman (www.bruceherman.com):
Martin Luther King carried this book with him where ever he went — Jesus and The Disinherited
Making and Breaking in reference to art and spirituality:
“Art is a condition of complete simplicity costing not less than everything.”
He sees and represents Mary as the church.
There are no hard and fast rules that crush people or yourself in art and in spirituality.
What is making? Making is on the same level as knowing and speaking. Doing is pre-knowledge based. Making is the core of what and who we are.
Idolatry is a subversiveness of making — the taking of what is not yours. It is a disordered form of making for attention.
He talks about there being 9 declarations of being (Mathew 5) which are states of being (not laws). The Greek word is Makarios — blessed, astonishment, “out of breath” God-like happiness, happy, fortunate. Makarios was used for the gods in Greek. There is a Spanish equivalent but not in English, meaning good, happy, pilgrim; a form of joy to those who have been on a long journey and they are almost there.
We (as artist) are on a path if we are committed artist. It is a simplicity costing everything.
Simplicity … I could have wept here.
Noting: Tradition and the Individual Talent by T.S. Eliot
We need knowledge of tradition so we can do something new. Noting his words of Tradition becoming new.
Note on his beginning in his figures … creating a type of gray scale using earth, green and white. Ahhh.
Lost and Found: The idea of loosing the image to find it, meaning the artist must be willing to loose the image to find it. As life is not under your control — so then painting. “Liberal arts learning should be what is called Christianity.”
He/she is weak for whom his native land is yet so sweet
He is strong for whom every land is a fatherland
He is perfect for whom the whole world was as a place of exile.
When you leave is when the work comes alive.
(Art) is a pilgrimage to a place of exile, which becomes home.
Goodness, truth, beauty (as a foundation of art)
It is a symbolic reality to be an artist. Made in the image of __________
Without Making you become a Taker and you will die (symbolically)
Making can replace labor. Life consuming life.
And all shall be well… T.S. Eliot (Julian of Norwich)
Like the source of the longest river, find a way to empty yourself.
Believing that God will provide.
Be present but do not interfere with the art.
The gift, the art, is outside of my control.
Art is like farming — digging, work the soil, hope for rain, seeds break open.
Note to me: Let me be alive in my work. Not dead to restrictive planning and closed to change.
Notes from David Dark’s talk, 2012
All writing is a form of prayer.
We become who we pretend to be
Art is the feat (a rare or difficult act or accomplishment) of attentiveness.
Once you try to claim something, it is gone. Thank God.
Ceremonies out of the air evoke the forms. (as in brush strokes)
Self is a delusion
We have the gift of others
We find ourselves in one another
— They are gone and they took the word with them. (I really like this. I’m am not sure what it means, but I get happy thinking about it.)
A poet (artist) as a prophet. Or are artist and prophet interchangeable? The key is that to be either, both must tell their secrets/story.
Myth provokes explanation
But expects nothing
Myth keeps on going
Reintroduces the silence
Breaks it open
The simple is complicated
October 30 — a poem with image from Hurricane Sandy 10/29/12
Moving in a wild current
It all looked so good until that last tilt
The sand has shifted
Softly releasing our legged foundation
Ahh – the joy of the unknown
The not knowing, the unsure
Hold my hand and we can rise together
One wave upon another
Moving wildly, rocking, twisting
We have softly shifted
The current has taken us
November and December
The first of November, All Saints Day, I watched a yellow butterfly flitter through the scarlet blooms of Turks Cap. I was sitting in a wicker chair on the patio. The sight was grounding to watch, a calming for my battered mind.
I was just thinking … about the doctor’s appointment last week that was a followup to an MRI of my cervical spine the week before. Basically, I was offered a KitKat candy — But, doctor, isn’t there anything you would recommend to help with this pain? .. No … have a KitKat.
Now that I have thought on this a little longer, I think she said Twix!
11/6 was a very good day.
It’s only text on a screen
Not the smile on your face
Not real. None of it is real
It is only text
Text on a screen
A smile can be touched
Words can be heard
Light in your eyes
I didn’t plan for a Thanksgiving meal or celebration. Is that bad? Maybe I will get the house cleaned a little more today, but really I would rather be in the studio. The time is before 6 AM. Still under the covers. The dogs are softly snoring. A car just passed by on the street. Turning the light off and I’m going to try to rest or sleep a little longer.
It is already the 8th. The days have drifted past. I don’t think I comprehended how sick I felt for so long. Since mid-October, really. I’m in the hospital as of yesterday with a hard-to-treat chronic UTI. Five days of IV antibiotics – Vancomycin. Slowing down, actually to a halt, from trying to get the house ready to go on the market. Hard to think about. And again, it is not so hard. Embracing the unanswered and the unknown. Do we really know any thing? We think we do. We do not.
Sunday 12/9 This is a difficult day, tethered to an IV drip.
Monday 12/10 — By embracing the now, my panic calms. Tuesday 12/11 — I am released from my hospital IV drip and off I go. So happy out of the hospital. Immediately I over did it. Happy to see the dogs, they missed me and I them. Wednesday 12/12/12 … What a lucky-number day they all say. Maybe. Work continues on the house. Mark travels for a 2-day job interview. I go to bed early and, and this is important, slept through the night. Woke up at 6:15 AM on the 13th! Sun is shinning and the day looks good.
As of last Monday evening, 12/17, my house is clean! Really clean. Two wonderful women, Dahlia Cleaning, worked so hard to get this house ready for the next step. Our house will be on the market soon, and we will be embracing the unknown in a whole new way. Right now, this morning, the coffee tastes great and the sun is shinning. One day, one step, at a time. This goes for the holidays as well. What are holidays, really? One day at a time. New-year beginnings never look the same toward the end of 12 months.
A good Christmas morning. Quiet. Yesterday was the best because my 5 1/2 yr grandson, Barrett, called and talked to me on the phone. He talked and he listened. A new step. He thanked me for the card and $20 I had sent early in the month, and told me he bought two cars. I told him a story about when I was 5 1/2, in kindergarten, and discovered painting at an easel. His dad talked too. I sobbed after that call. A little progress. A little. So today will be a fine day too. The sun is peaking out and the wind is up some. Meditation with coffee is calling me.
12/26 — 12/31/12
On the 26th, the house is on the market and the official MLS listing shows up the next day. The realtors come bringing their clients. Each time we have to pack the three dogs into the car, go for a drive, maybe the dog park. This routine gets old fast, but it defines our days through New Year’s Eve. The year slips away quietly, exhausted. Nothing is resolved. The adult children are as they have always been since becoming adults. Nothing will be resolved or changed there either, though my heart hurts because of it. That is okay, because that is how it is. In the end we know nothing, and that is okay too. I am learning to use a Zen approach in my travel through this life.
The End of one year