Of Hearts and Such

hearts and bars

I went for a screening EKG yesterday and was told that it looks like I have had a heart attack; one of those silent, sneaky ones that tend to happen to women; especially postmenopausal diabetic women with polycystic ovarian disease.  I have been referred to a cardiologist and expect the lecture on losing weight, taking statins, and exercising.  Trying hard not to freak out too much (no pun intended) but my immediate reaction is, “Well ,no wonder I have felt like crap for so long!” and trying to come up with a plan to manage yet another chronic condition.  I was very sick all last fall, 3 straight months of one damned thing after another, knocked flat on my back, and I am just now recovering. I think the infarction probably happened sometime then.  I am trying not to be too paranoid about thinking that every twinge is angina now.

Ironically, a friend who was practicing her Reiki nailed it many months ago.  She said she felt something going on with my heart and I blew her off.  In addition to all the physical stuff happening last fall, there was some serious emotional turmoil as well.  I have often said that I felt like that particular person ripped out my heart and stomped on it.  I had no clue that could be taken literally.  In spite of the emotional pain, he acted as a catalyst for my growth and dredged up some long-buried crap that I needed to face and clear out. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was productive.

On the dying side (after all, isn’t that what this blog is supposed to be about?):  It has been frigging cold here.  Snow flurries and snow on the mountain tops yesterday morning and very windy, which causes the cold to bite through to the bones. Typical Spring weather in western NC.   I am itching to get back into the studio, got some special orders for friends I need to get done.  And a bit of a whine here; standing on cold concrete in an un heated garage is not my favorite thing to do, even with a kerosene heater.

I have bought a planner called The Freedom Journal, which is specifically for those of us who are trying to be self-employed.  I have committed to spending 2 hours a day minimum in the studio no matter what, even if it is just sweeping the floors and cleaning.  Dying is a messy art.  Wish me luck folks, and send good vibes.  I need all the help I can get and being accountable to you will go a long way toward me getting stuff done.  My goal for the next 100 days is to get all 60ish of my blank shirts dyed, photographed, and posted on Shopify.  Stay tuned.

Much love to you all.  Stay warm.

 

An addendum about hearts

hearts and bars

Interesting how things pop up just when you need them the most.  It was a bad weekend for the September Syndrome for me.  It has been a pattern in my life for I don’t know how many years that if there is going to be major drama and heartache in my life it is bound to happen in September.  I have quite trying to list the numerous events.

I woke up from a nap a while ago with this quotation on my mind.  I dug through a box of memorabilia until I found the very ragged piece of paper given to me years ago by a meditation teacher.  I don’t know who to attribute the quote to, just that it comes from the Sufi tradition.

Overcome any bitterness that may have come because you were not up to the magnitude of the pain that was entrusted to you.  LIke the mother of the world who carries the pain of the world in her heart, each of us is part of her heart and is, therefore, endowed with a certain measure of cosmic pain. You are sharing in the totality of that pain.  You are called upon to meet it with joy in stead of self-pity.  The secret: offer your heart as a vehicle to transform cosmic suffering into joy.

Point taken, Universe, point taken.

 

 

 

Hearts

 

ThomasheartI am a sucker for heart shapes. I am not sure if I can explain exactly why.  I suppose a therapist could dig through my psyche and talk about my need to love and be loved, etc. and so on ad nauseam.  Maybe I am just a sentimental soul.  I have an acquaintance (Hi, Linda!) who posts often on FB about people having love in their hearts and I appreciate her attitude.

Here are some of my first experiments along those lines.  I expect that variations on the heart theme will be a focus of my work for the next  while.

 

cropped-heart-shirts.jpg

These were the first successful batch.  Pinching and folding layers of damp cotton and keeping everything neat and tidy is quite the challenge.  Translating the curvy heart shape into a tidy straight line before tieing off the bundle can lead to inventive, colorful swearing.  I am not sure what I am going to say when I get around to trying stars.  Mandalas are already giving me headaches.

But what do hearts MEAN?  Love, of course.  But love take many forms; agape, eros, philia, ludus, pragma, philautia, storge.  I won’t define them here.  Google is your friend.  Go ahead, look them up and have a  long think.

IMHO, the different forms of love are not as distinct as the philosophers would have you think.  The edges are blurry, soft, and easily blended into each other depending upon circumstances, mood, the alignment of the stars, current bank balance, and whatever else you want to add to the list.

And so many times what we may mistake for love is really our ego hollering at us. There is a song that says, “Love hurts.”  Hell, yes, it does. It hurts when we don’t get our own way about it, when we cling to expectations, daydreams,and preconceived notions. When we cannot see the real person in front of us through the fog of our own pain. When we try to control situations and make them fit some predetermined, idealised script.

But, then. . . is that really love?  When our own attachments and expectations get in the way of seeing the other person clearly?  or is it an illusion?  a neurochemical stew triggered by hidden memories and the reptilian brain, fueled by hormones and DNA’s imperative to replicate?

I wonder if what we call “love” in most cases is really a trade-off of some kind. Some of the most honest people I have ever known have been prostitutes and  recovering addicts. There are no mincing words or polite euphemisms.  They tell it like it is; straight up, unvarnished, and blunt.

In some ways, pick your own examples, we prostitute ourselves for what we may mistakenly believe is “love” when it may only be status and security or fantasy fulfillment. I have heard it said that cats are such popular pets because of their resemblance to human babies; they trade being cute and cuddly for food and shelter by triggering our nurturing instincts.  And we “love” our cats (or at least, some of us do.  I realize not everyone is a cat person.)  Or are we addicted to the neurochemical changes brought on by_______________________ and thus we “love”___________________? (You fill in the blanks.)

There have been a few times in my life when I have experienced genuine love not fuzzed by ego and free of social contracts.  I am not sure which of the aforementioned categories I would put it in.  The others looked at me and SAW me; saw past the facade of personality and the layers of life; saw my soul and did not weigh, measure, judge, discriminate, or try to barter.  They set aside their agenda and were simply present with me. Just there.  I could drop the masks, not fear, and be blessedly still.  I knew that I was okay, no matter what peculiarities and quirks I may carry around; however id and ego may manifest, they saw my soul and accepted it, bruised and dirty as it may be.  All they asked in return was that I try to meet their regard in the same way.

No, we did not run off to some castle in the sky and live happily ever after. I came close to shaving my head, donning orange robes, and heading for the monastery but life would not have it that way, I had other responsibilities and karma to burn. I got on with the messy business of living, carrying those encounters with me to bring out when I need reminding and to maybe. . . somehow. . .someday. . . translate them into art and share them with others.