Sunday, November 27, 2016

An Empath

My two cousins in Dallas, Texas cut people open and chop out bones. They are orthopedic surgeons.

I could learn to be a doctor and perhaps do surgery, but I would have to overcome my sympathetic nervous system. I am a sensitive type—an artist, and also an empath. “The trademark of an empath is feeling and absorbing other people’s emotions and/or physical symptoms because of their high sensitivities. These people filter the world through their intuition and have a difficult time intellectualizing their feelings.” (From Psychology Today, Ten Traits of Empathetic People) I would “feel” some pain when cutting someone open, let alone cutting out their hip joint and tossing it in the trash. No matter that person is under anesthesia and asleep.

I could never be a bully because I sympathize with the other. I feel human anger, jealousy, fear and it hurts. I often will bend over backward for someone else at my own expense and have been taken advantage of by self-centered and unfeeling people. During times of peace and joy with another, I can feel elated. I replenish easily in nature, in wild fields, under open skies, among birds and beasts, by water.
I quickly tire of being in a crowd because I absorb too much. When I was young, if in a crowd or at a long meeting, I would often feel an urgency to use the bathroom—an escape mechanism. During eighth grade, the class elected me their president and I declined. 
Now, as I pass mid-life, I find I can travel alone for months, even a year or longer.

Too much togetherness can be difficult for me—I have been married three times. Perhaps I fear being engulfed and losing my identity and do not give myself easily to being a unit. Maybe I am not “domestic.”
Once when my mother visited me from her home far away, we were standing together in my yard and a terrible migraine came upon me, although I never get headaches. Mom always was tough—I felt I absorbed tension from a deep layer of being.
When my oldest daughter was seventeen, there came a time when I was waking at night with a feeling of dread, as if something was wrong but I could not discern what. Soon after, we discovered she had advanced cancer and would probably not survive. The cancer started in her hip bone, and for two years until the day she died I felt pain in my hip.

Usually I am healthy and without pains, but occasionally something will flare up for a short while. Yesterday I felt uneasy around lunch time—a bit nauseous and unsteady. I wondered at the unusual indisposition, but the discomfort passed as I focused on my artwork and gallery. Soon after, my dear friend and comrade talked with me and texted describing the sudden onset of her “stomach being on fire” and having digestion symptoms that necessitated medication. "Probably too much Thanksgiving leftover sweets," she said. "I am not used to the richness!"

Oh, and did I tell you that I often begin thinking of someone moments before they call me on the phone?

Sunday, November 20, 2016


A big wind knocked over a panel of sheetrock in my backyard. It struck a jade plant I had placed outdoors for the summer months. The jade is old—over forty years, and has sentimental value to me. Since it arrived as a twig in a pot, it has been with me through thick and thin over the decades, bearing silent witness to my life and changes. 

When the panel hit, it's main limb broke off, as if a person had an accident and lost their leg and arm. I grieved a few minutes, then determined to care for my plant and watch it reshape itself from its deformed state. I saved the broken piece to put in soil and see if it would live. 

 It has been several months, and both plants are living—the power of regeneration.

This is what I have had to do many times. The wind of fate breaks like a storm upon my life and though I feel crushed, even unable to move, something stirs within to regenerate and flourish again.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Hardships Can Make Us Stronger

Hardships can make us stronger. I do not have complete evidence of this, but believe that every situation has some good in it.  
-Naomi Boone, (Jan. 11 1980 - July 5 1999)

When my daughter, age seventeen, wrote those words in her journal, she had been diagnosed with cancer and given little hope of remaining alive. Naomi gathered her resolve and reached for an uncertain future. 
During the next two years she was to endure extreme hardship. Like coal under intense pressure, she harnessed the good, became strong and brilliant as a diamond but vanished, leaving a glimmering trail of stardust in her path.

With the recent election, I am feeling the same apprehension and grief come back.  My beloved America is torn and seems to be fighting itself—much like the cancer cells that tore apart my daughter's body.

Our current crisis has “some good in it” and can “make us stronger.” America is at a moment of truth. Our healthy cells must unite, recognize the unhealthy usurper ones and overcome them. Healthy cells cooperate and work for the good of all. Unhealthy ones simply take and multiply savagely.

Ultimately America must be altruistic, benevolent, kind, strong, patient, just, honorable. Furthermore it needs to have the well being of the planet at its heart and eschew being self-centered.

Another thing: the election being “rigged” is true. The system is broken. Too much vested interest, money and corruption holds sway—and has almost since the beginning. Why do we have a two party system? It needs to be remade. America is in peril. A new body politic must arise that is not based upon opposition but rather unity.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Meet The Sun

The little room with yellow walls barely contained me. From its tiny balcony on the second floor I looked out over a field to a city street that curved and ended on the shore of the Ganges River at Varanasi, India.

One year ago, each morning before dawn, I dressed, gathered my camera and hurried outdoors in the dark to witness the chanting and prayer rituals of young men and women gathered facing the river. Dressed in shimmering silk and flowing cotton fabrics, the fragrance of devotion emanated from their being. Their gleaming hearts shone in the dark as they reverently performed their ceremony.

The Gange River is so holy it is deemed to be a goddess. In the darkness, girls sang and intoned with sweet notes of sacred love as the young men, in synchronized movements waved urns of incense billowing fragrance, blew into conch shells and created arcs of light with flames of lit oils. I stood nearby and watched, becoming more exhilarated until the conclusion when the first glimmering of daylight shone above the river.

I am typically not a morning person and usually labor out of bed around 7:30 AM.
But during my time in Varanasi the daily ritual of joining the group of devotees by the Ganges, worshiping something ancient, ever-flowing, and holy before turning to meet the sun as it rose above the horizon . . . well, it was not a chore but rather a blessing.

I miss Varanasi.