AEDM – 2016 – Day 11

For Art Every Day Month – a halfway done jewelry project – showed the beginning of this in the blog the other day. Just finished putting it together, now a handmade chain and those beautiful red beads and I’ll decide what I’m going to do with it.

Polymer clay, soft pastels, brass, copper…..chain and beads on their way – oh, and a metal leaf or two.

poly-thing

Tomorrow’s a writing day, a long one. Doing the last assignment for the wonderful writing course I’m taking then on to the other wonderful writing course.  I love November!

Namaste’

AEDM – 2016 – Day 10

Thank you Leonard Cohen.

cohen

We lost a great voice in the world today.  Been a trying week so far with another voice coming in, the peanut gallery screaming for the most part.  Like many of us, I’m a bit weary.  I want to bury my head beneath a pillow and wake up so much later. But I’m not going to do that.  I’m an artist/writer. I’m a creator, and so are you. We are the souls, the fragments, the silk in the spider web. What we should be spinning is a way to capture love. Tons of it.  Writing it.  Drawing it.  Painting it.  Cutting away at the metal and wood until it is all we see.  Burning the hell out of it with a torch, in a kiln, slumping it over our bended knees until what comes through is the best part of us, the gods and goddesses born to breathe the same air as Jesus, Buddha…..Mandela.  They were free in their prisons. When are we going to be that? When we realize we are the Kings, the Queens, the forest filled with trees, the wings on every butterfly and the electricity in the core of the earth…..this is who Cohen was.

My quiet day ends early.  Art tomorrow, the last assignment in my very fat writing course, still microwave comparison shopping…..

Be free in your heart no matter who the figure heads are.  Don’t be the problem.  Make art, books, music, love, babies, legacies…..be Cohen and all the greats because that’s who you are, one of the greats.  Never forget that.

In case you’re very, very young (in which case I doubt you’d be reading this) here’s a bit about him.  My generation bows to you, Mr. Cohen.  See you again one day.

The New York Times

Leonard Cohen website

Rolling Stone

Hallelujah

 

 

Namaste’

 

AEDM – 2016 – Day 9

Art Every Day Month – something creative every day – been a crazy day, you know?  I don’t have a strong offer for this but I have something to share.  Here we go….

friends

 

This is my art for the day.  This box. With gifts. (check out the waffle iron) From friends. For my new apartment.

I’ve been a tad, uh, nomadic. Four plus years.  Began as a lark of an extended vacation in Florida to make some decisions, regroup, come to terms with job loss, a major car accident, two minor surgeries, family death, you name it, it happened.Was like a drone following me around, dumping napalm.  No more.

Florida’s nice if you enjoy feeling like a piece of gum on the belly of a dachshund walking through a steam room to find his owner.  Not for me.  But, there I was. Supposedly was going to stay with friends for a few months. You know, of course, that sometimes things don’t go as planned.

Out of nowhere, after all those years of speed walking three miles a day, I was diagnosed with a failing heart valve. Surgery was imminent.  Yes, in the swampiness of Florida. Birth defect gone bad. Suddenly, I couldn’t walk from one room to the other. Couldn’t breathe fully. Couldn’t drive. Couldn’t eat much.  Couldn’t get on a plane. Nothing. Nada. Prohibited from everything adults do.  Everything. Complications with insurance, related medical issues (and I’m otherwise healthy but things happen in clusters). After a few months, test after test, a severe panic attack in the fourth MRI, thinking I’d bleed to death after a tooth extraction (meds do that), I underwent heart valve replacement surgery.  Not a walk in the park (Think dachshund….gum).  I was at a friend’s house.  Really.  It wasn’t even my house or my family. It was my somewhat old friend’s ex-husband’s house.  I was just getting to know him.  That was the only place with room.

I took photos of my naked chest before. Of course, I did.  I signed all the documents, gave the appropriate people the important information in case….call this one, if…..call these otherwise…..passwords, balances, what to do with the cat, my art, my mother’s ballet shoes. My mother died in similar surgery.  I’m not a fearful person but I had genuine concern. (I drag those shoes everywhere.)  I only shared my true feelings with a few people. Others came up with “try not to worry”, “you’re strong, you can handle it” Well, now, not your chest, is it?

Can you imagine your friend’s ex-husband being the only one available to put your post-op support stockings on every day because your friend left on vacation? Then he has to take them off.

Who changes the litter pan while you’re at the hospital?  No kidding.  When you are single (technically, I’m a widow.  I’ve earned that badge but that’s another story) the issue of cat welfare isn’t an easy one to resolve. They’re like children.  No one loves them as much as you do and when you abruptly leave for a bit, they feel abandoned.

My belongings were in storage in another state.  My art.  My winter clothing.  I was in Florida.

Then there were the people who suddenly showed their religious side even though I’m not religious and asked them to keep the thoughts to themselves. But. No. They  wanted me to understand why I’ll probably go to hell if I don’t repent.  Now was the time to ask for forgiveness?  (What the hell had I done? I hadn’t a clue. I still don’t. Some people are just nuts) Time to repent.  Yes.  And I’m thinking “Hey! Cracking my chest open, cutting out a part of my heart and replacing it with tissue from a pig!  I think this is enough repenting, indeed”  Apparently, their God had limited humor.  One learns to move forward. Hell couldn’t be as hot as Florida.

Surgery, aftercare (cardiothoracic ICU – angels, pure and simple), home nurses, a physical therapist to help me walk again, cardiac rehab where they force you to stretch your chest wall open fully, take your own blood pressure after your 15 minutes on the bike – let me just say that it was a long and oddly magical trip.  If that doesn’t break you, nothing will.  And if it doesn’t make you grateful, you’re a fool. Then there’s this, this – back at the house when I first came home after surgery to this place where I was supposed to just be visiting – they altered the guest bathroom with handicap bars, a shower chair to accommodate me.  Me.  Put a small lounge chair in my room so I’d be comfortable –  I slept in it for 30 nights after surgery because I couldn’t roll over in bed. The cat was on my lap nearly all the time.  Clinging. They made my meals when I couldn’t, put up with my emotions.  Checked on me all the time. Gave me a place in the office where I could write, make things. Gave me privacy when I needed it, and helped me to the Vet when necessary because my cat began her journey with an illness that eventually took her life.

I was in Florida for two years.  Wasn’t for me, although I tried. Looking for a new apartment long distance was nearly impossible. Reconnecting with certain people, interim housing – twice – all you can imagine. Recovering financially.  Physically.  Learning new ways of being. A few more stops along the way.  Someone told me they felt I’d been frivolous with my life, that I was spoiled, had no responsibility and I thought “Let’s see how you handle all of this after losing a husband and things I haven’t mentioned” but what I said was “Goodbye”.  No one knows what we go through except for the people who truly love us, and sometimes they don’t care to look at who we are, and the people who truly love us are the people we have chosen to love.

The only people you can count on other than yourself are the friends you cultivate, the ones you show your vulnerable self to as well as your dragon goddess, the ones you extend yourself to and open your soul to.  Your relatives are just a genetic link.  Your family is who you were given to.   You might have a huge family or a tiny one as I do.  You might all get along.  You might not.  But you didn’t find them by conscious choice. Your true friends will get you through that gum walking path to your owner.  And your owner is You.  You find yourself through trials and when those trials include people who love you by choice, the world is a wonderful place.Your true friends see the You in the mess that occurs and the glory that you achieve. Try explaining that to your estranged brother, jealous sister or cousins who think they know you, or don’t want to.  The people you choose to surround yourself with are your true family – if you are smart enough to love them fully.  Choose them wisely. Get rid of the ones who don’t show you love.  Love is an action, not a word. We’ve all heard that.  But do we practice it? Love them strong, love them through crap and love them with words, deeds and accolades.

Now. The box.  From a dear, dear friend.  For the new apartment I’m moving into next month. Because.  Just because.  Because I love my friends and they love me. You have no idea how much that makes up for the lack of birth family.  It is everything.

My friends have stepped up for me through my ridiculous and often comical journey of the past four/five years, many of them with their own gum on their bellies, kept me going, gifted me, leant me, shared with me, cried with me, held me when my sweet, sweet cat died, supported my writing and art.  They loved me back into being.  And some didn’t.  Some just checked in.  A few left on their own accord and a few left because I asked them to. And that’s OK.  I’m OK.  Their OK.

That box is a tangible example of what love and community can do, how we pay it forward in many cases to strengthen the tribe and often need to call it back, how it creates and supports equality, love, and all that good stuff.  From time to time everyone needs a leg up, a period of Grace, a kindness.  I’m a very grateful gal.  I’m there for my friends.  They are there for me. It doesn’t get much better than that.

AEDM – 2016 – Day 6

Back to Making…

poly-pendant-collage

…jewelry “stuff”. This has been sitting, abandoned on my bench, waiting for some love.  Writing, writing and…..more writing has been going on. Art Every Day Month is about creating – anything – doing your art – being productive, so here it is, my art project that is currently happening.

Polymer clay pendant sitting on the brass and copper that will be its new home.  A few of my copper leaves and gorgeous red crystals and I’ll post the photo of the finished piece – whenever it’s finished. Projects galore here so who knows….

You probably know by now I walk the streets (in a good way) looking at nature, taking photo upon photo and always finding inspiration.  So here is what inspired me for this piece.  Wish me luck.  Someone I care about will be getting this.  Maybe that will be me….

Namaste’

AEDM -2016 – Day 5

THE BED

angels

Did you know that metal and plastic have their own odors? Feel? History? Combined with other scents, they become somewhat of a Book of the Living and The Dying. They do. I know. I’m made of them. I have copper in me and silver, a poly product recently developed to keep me light. I’m cold and inflexible – this is what they think, but there is a bit of everyone’s scent on me, everyone’s fears and gratitude, the bursting of illusions and welcoming of transition. That changes the game, doesn’t it? It should.  It makes me part of the team and without me, no one would be there to hold my loved ones. My function is that of support, to stand silently and hold those who arrive, release them when they are ready to go and be non-judgmental in the meantime.  Silence is my inheritance. That doesn’t mean I’m not observant, that I don’t see all things, or hear the conversations held in the hallway when I’m empty, when the room is being prepped for the newest inhabitant. I never agreed to ignore anything.  This is my room.  This place of equipment, a sink and toilet that come out of the wall on demand, where there are electronic charts, beeping sounds that are constant if the ones I hold are lucky. I know by the way they grip my rails who has been loved, broken, betrayed or who betrays – there was one I held who had two wives who didn’t know each other existed until they came to visit him in this room. My room.  Meeting each other for the first time while I held him, careful to keep the tubes straight, watching while they argued about him, tugging at his toes and I wanted to close up like a shell and hold him like a pearl until the nurse entered, instructing them to leave.  We are serious here about care. She knew he’d betrayed.  We all did.  Every wall, bit of machinery, tube and syringe knows after a while the truth of the lives who have been here. It doesn’t matter to us. Speech isn’t necessary.  Truth lives on the energy of everyone, everything. I held this one, not the way the angels did, but I did my best.  That is all anyone can do.  I continued comforting him as he dressed, as he spoke to both wives on the phone. I felt relieved when he left and wished him good luck in my way. He was going to need it.

The new ones are always interesting.  Each time they grip the side rails, grounding themselves as they come out of the abyss, adding their essence trail to the previous one, like snails coming and going.  I wear an invisible coat, a pelt that gets wiped away every time someone new arrives.  I’m wiped down as if I’m the infected one, the vulnerable one who needs healing, but traces of souls linger whether alive or dead.  The oil in their hands, the vacant spots where rings used to be and watches – they become more aware of time while here and have no real way of measuring it until they leave – the first breath after surgery or pronouncement of death, all of it ends up on me. I’m the first to know they are gone.  Well, the angels know but that is different. Can you imagine what I’ve seen?  I have so many stories I could tell.  Acceptance. Realizations.  Embarrassments. Their bits and pieces seep into the porous and invisible spots beneath my surface.  That is where the essence lives.  Only I know this – that no history is ever completely wiped clean, or forgotten, or unimportant.  Every moment counts and the nameless are always noticed by the angels. Most importantly? All is forgiven. They’ve told me, these angels, invisible friends who know me as they do every bit of surface here, the monitors, the mattress padding that feels crisp at the edges when first changed, the walker that waits patiently, like all of us, to be needed, ready to serve.  They hover, cajoling, persuading those who aren’t committed in either direction. It’s like an invisible dance on the rails for those in transition or on a path of renewal. When the lights are dim, when the nurses switch shifts and the meals are wheeled down the hall we chat, the angels and me.  We wait.  Watch.  This room’s chaos has moments of bliss. Every heartbeat, every breath. That is the bliss. Every goodbye is a good one, regardless of which side of the veil you are on. It is the only inevitability.

“This one’s name?”

“Shh” Her wings open quickly without sound as she floats overhead, hovers, caressing the new one I am holding. I can see through her.  I see through all of them.  Her light pulses down, penetrating the new one, shoots through the mattress, touches my frame, my motor, my hard rubber wheels.  It warms me – every single time, knocks over the mind as if Gabriel himself were in the room.  Their light sustains me, strengthens my cold rails and restores my need to stay focused in my mission, to be true and solid.

“Sleep” her words aren’t uttered in sound.  They are a wave of pale lavender energy, anointing the forehead of the one I am holding, wrapping the entire room as a ribbon does a golden box, a gift for eternity.  The energy stream is a knowing, a sign for me that the one I am holding will survive, that the event will be recorded on the right side of my rails, in the stainless-steel counters, in the hard surfaces the living assume have no awareness. The dead know.  They’ve been on both sides of the veil.  There will be another one to attend the dance now. The angel departs with a nod and is gone, leaving only the mute female sentry in the corner, her wings spread out around the monitor screen, watching the green ECG/EKG lines, seemingly entranced by ST readings, monitoring the systolic and diastolic and I wonder if this one is as experienced in patient care as I am.  I haven’t seen her before. I’ve been here five years.  She is wide eyed and young, dressed in a white suit, her dark skin like warm embers, her long dark hair flowing past her waist, her wings tipped in gold. I want to kiss her.  She is exquisite and sharp.  She looks at me and smiles through her mute mouth that has no lips, only chords like a harp.  I know the names of everyone I’ve held, their diagnosis, their destination.  If I had veins there’d be liquid love flowing through them.  I imagine that I do, that I can be more than true and solid. I tell the angels all the time I want to pulse that liquid love through the tubes and leads that flop over my rails, holding this one – all of them – to the world, keeping them connected to this life, from floating so far away they can’t return.  I am the tether. I accept the contents of their tubes to be what is needed for their bodies but I’ve learned what is needed for their souls.  I do my job.  They and the angels do theirs. They come back from the abyss or they don’t.

The entire department was remodeled last year.  My room is at the end of the unit, next to the elevator bank.  The new hallway floor is a cream color, with tiny speckles of blue and beige, bordered along the walls in a deeper yet soft blue. Nurses and aids walk ambulatories up and down the hall, slowly, progressing to normal strides, wearing new gowns with tiny smiley faces on them, open in the back and held together with two tiny pieces of fabric.  Now one looks. Each room has motion sensitive sliding glass doors, an opening into where I live, and lounge chairs for the ones I hold to relax in when they can sit up.  They are encouraged to move as soon as possible after the neck tubes are removed, the ones in their chests, once they can sit up.  Some never can.  There is a pocket on each chair side for reading material, a slot for their heart pillow – every patient gets one, donated by a volunteer group, theirs to hug when they cough, cling to when nothing else helps and when my rails are a distant memory at home when they try to forget.  The angels and I never forget.  Heart pillows made of donated fabrics – always red, some solid, most random patterns and stuffed with hygienic fiber fill.  I feel them, light as a feather but with energy the size of the building, energy that brings comfort to the chests of the ones I hold as they cling to them, coughing the first few times, a teddy bear of sorts reducing their fear of splitting wide open and dying.  Heart pillows on the chest of the one I hold – I feel the sweetness down to my core.  It is one of the perks of the job I do. So is watching the nurse comb someone’s hair, massage their hands and feet, helping them re-enter a world they almost left. I am a witness of sorts to rebirth and extreme compassion.

I meet interesting people even though I can’t leave the room as the angels do.  They visit everyone.  There was a gypsy in my room last year – Romani – I heard a nurse tell an orderly “Please be respectful” and now I know the correct word.  I held her for one week after the valve replacement procedure which her family hadn’t wanted.  She did.  It was her heart.  Her decision.

They tumbled out of the elevator like a circus group, modern dress but an energy that was old and skeptical. There was an invisible curtain, a group aura, that traveled with them to the room.  Five of them arrived, only one allowed in the room at a time.  The first one, a young woman dressed in a black silk pants suit and purple scarf visited the one I held, lit a sage stick, waving the smoke around her.

“You can’t do that here” the nurse watched them from when they first arrived. Her voice was kind yet stern.

The smell from the red match-head filled the room.  Sulfur and sage smoke circled me – one more scent for my pores. For that moment, I felt the angels bow their heads, their wings opening and closing in recognition of love, the pale green light from their hearts glowing brighter and brighter. They do not intervene. They are witnesses as I am.  The difference is their direct connection, their powers to guide and direct.  Their pureness. All I can do is hold the ones who need it.

“Clearing the room” the young Romani woman’s voice was low and steady.  Her smile polite and hesitant.

“I’m sorry. You just can’t do that here” The Romani woman politely left my room at the nurse’s request. The angels and I watched.

One at a time, family members entered my room. One brought a ball of string, tied a pentagram around the bed, connecting at the feet of the one I held, chanted something I’d never heard before in a voice so soft that it felt like velvet draping across everything in the room, me, the chair, the two large ceiling fixtures.  He waved his hands in the air, gently, slowly, up and down the chest of the one I held.  The next Romani came in as he left.  The drabami.  When she entered my room, the one I held opened her eyes briefly, gave a faint smile and whispered that word, closing her eyes again, returning to the abyss.  The drabami stood near the one I held speaking to her in their language, reaching her deep down in their ancestral nest. I don’t know what the words meant, only that they were constructed from beauty and love, tradition and hope.  The Romani alternated visits into my room where I held her for that week until she was released.  Empty again, I waited to be wiped down along with the wall of stainless steel fixtures, the floor, the appointments to my room. I liked watching the sink and toilet move in and out of the wall, retreating when not being used, quiet and invisible.  I enjoy watching the mini-fridge be cleaned of snacks and drinks the families bring. Pudding is my favorite.  The ones I hold love it, chocolate mostly. My room is self-contained.  I’m happy here.  I hear the nurses talking as they came in and out, restocking the cabinets, bedpans, toiletries, restocking the music CDs, a wide selection appealing to everyone’s taste.  Soft music for those who enjoy it.  Bible, Koran, The Lotus Sutra for anyone who asked.  In the metal cabinet to the right of the sliding doors, there is a crucifix, a Buddha, a Star of David and several other religious icons.  The angels chuckle at this, not because they felt this unnecessary, but because of the white energy that came off the staff and rose to the angels’ hearts and kept them filled with Joy.  It vibrated like a tickle. Their wings opened involuntarily.  Their heads bowed deeply. I heard the nurses talking that second night after the Romani woman left my room. They said she died shortly after going home.  I wanted to be sad.  I wasn’t. She died with her people, her tribe.  I don’t have a tribe.  That makes me sad. The shine of the cream and blue hallway was the only light that night as the angels and I planned for the next arrival. It was like moonlight coming into my room.  The stainless-steel wall sparkled.  The equipment was still, on mini sabbatical, quiet, a pause in the ongoing story.

I live in a room with angels.  The people who visit come to be healed.  I hold them as tightly as I can.  I listen to the clanking of wheels on the food carts that feed them, the whirring of machines that keep them alive, their loved ones who visit – some sob, some sit with Grace and breathe in the moment.  I am fulfilling my destiny.  The angels and I are never alone.  Every person I have ever loved is here, their essence lives in the pores of my being.  I record their stories inside me and one day, when it is my time to leave, to be replaced and remodeled, I will pass on my knowledge to a new generation.  My old parts will be their new parts.  The angels assure me I will be re-born and used as I’ve instructed in my will.  They will watch over me regardless of the form I am in.  Nothing will change my soul. They will recognize me and visit, breathing their pale lavender light into me, wrapping it like a ribbon around a gold box for eternity, holding me as I have always held others.  I am loved.  I am unafraid.

© jacqualine-marie 2016 – all rights reserved

 

Namaste’

 

AEDM – 2016 – Day 3

Queen Anne’s Lacequeen-ann

Opinions abound.  She is herb, weed, wildflower all at once.  History states (and you can Google this) Hippocrates recommended that women eat carrot seeds to prevent pregnancy. Consider – She knew, before us, what would be needed.

She is Wild Carrot, the young girl dancing in a meadow near a burbling stream, caressing rocks and debris much the way holy water was supposed to anoint the crowds.  She heals, inspires, forgives.

She represents Sanctuary – for those needing safety, warmth, to feel the sun embracing us while speaking “Look around you. Breathe”, she is the Goddess holding us in her palm until we are stable, relaxing her fingers encouraging us to fly. We are all birds.  She is the nest.

In the neighborhood surrounding my new home, there are patches of curbside gardens.  My daily walk isn’t just for exercise.  It’s a virtual shopping spree, a brain balancer – soul sister.  I listen to inspirational words, an iPhone ear bud in my right ear, the left bud tucked in my hoodie.  I’ve had profound tinnitus in my left ear since the age of 12.  A result of Scarlet Fever. I’m 70.  So many years without silence, missing the nuances of conversations certain tones at concerts, that whine when your breaks are going.  Too many years listening to the shrill squealing of ravens on an endless loop in my head at a volume louder than the old dial tone.  This isn’t just an auditory buzz from taking too many aspirin.  It impacts my balance, my sleep, my hearing – my mood.  I meditate to it.  I’ve learned to embrace it. Daily walks are opportunities to concentrate on different things, letting it guide me instead of controlling me, pushing me toward constant growth.

Back to the gardens – I photograph ordinary things that are not so ordinary, depending on one’s point of view.  Half a doll in the middle of the street.  The heel of a blue athletic shoe teetering off the edge of a curb. A used condom.  Three dead leaves, crisp edged, each a different color, competing for my attention. It’s all the same life-happening event unfolding. Me, my right ear bud and whatever it brings into my consciousness, my left orchestra of squealing ravens, we walk a healthy pace through these streets shouldered by curbside gardens and every single day I find a reason to celebrate regardless of what is in my head, my heart, the bank, my future. My only concern is Now.

I’ve seen her before, of course, many times but here, in this new place, this new climate, these new people, challenges and opportunities, she is the new constant.  She is everywhere.  In her various phases, she is young, mature, brown tipped, stark white, an ever so pale nearly unnoticeable apple green, a purple center like the crown chakra – trust, devotion, inspiration, happiness, positivity – she represents all woman, every color, ethnicity, orientation – she is a symbol of the energy the world needs to heal – the great mother – the Queen. And so, I look around me.  I breathe.

November 2nd – Art Every Day Month

Untitledsunflower-next-final

the neighbor’s yard at night I’d say
Garden but there’s trash
bent packets of unmentionable things
Jack Daniels
cast aside packs of reminiscent
tobacco litter

and a Flower
sleeping yellow
drooping petals holding space
for dreams of beings ignored
in conversations with the Sun
who dance beneath a silent Moon

even if the music isn’t ours
like the birth of someone else’s child
all bells call our name
Waking us at night
Whispering
“Shh……listen”

© jacqualine-marie 2016

Namaste’