One month exactly from my 49th birthday, some thoughts on aging…
coming face to face with my whiskers….and my bold new dress
This and a Black and Yellow Dress
go for it
follow your dreams
don’t let anything stop you
put love first
scale the mountain
this world needs a revolution
if anyone can do it, you can
the future is yours
there are no limits
Well. I have done that and
now looking back, I wonder
Where did those voices come from?
Where I have come from
there is only – now this –
There is no going back
As 49 approaches the bend in my river
My eyebrows slowly disappear and migrate
Now I grow chin whiskers with that hair
I am soft in places
Where I used to be firm
Stiff in places I used to be soft
Just a few weeks ago
My eyes stopped seeing 20/20 and
a bunion came for dinner and stayed
The spots on my face and hands
expanded overnight forming a map
of my hundred addresses
I trace my fingers over my body
honoring the carriage of this soul
in this particular body of starry clay
Only one breast has spotted black hairs
My head’s soft browny hair turns gray
Did my nose hairs grow overnight?
Did my feet just expand and spread?
Is one side of my hip that much bigger?
Did my knees just speak in tongues?
As I witness the changes
My compassion swells for all those
Who held so fast to beauty in youth
Being a big woman has kept me humble
When looking for a chair to fit your frame is
the first thing you think of at the little café
Being a big woman has kept me agile
To the temptations beauty set before me
The beauty I do have is transforming, I bow
Bow to every late night, every indiscretion
Bow to the fearless choices I survived
Bow to my own kind of greatness
I tip my cowgirl hat to badlands and
bad boys by the dozen, goodbye
choosing love in a union, with a ring on it
Have I achieved greatness?
Not in the way that I thought, but
perhaps this is the way my soul chose
I will never know
What happened on the path
I did not choose, so I surrender
There were plenty of mistakes, do not tell me
“there are no mistakes” with a wink
I have worked hard for these scars
I have opened galleries with $5 in my pocket
I have had an art show, with no $$
In the folds of my evening gown on opening night
I have published books one copy at a time
at midnight on a house account
I have hawked my wares on street-corners
I have done wrong when I knew better
I have hurt others when I didn’t have to
I have had my share of sleeping on the job
I have danced all night in bare feet in bars
I let the blues move me to tears and change me
The saxophone that hurt me is my colorful scar
I have howled at every full moon I saw
Me and my girls have drank too much
We let our hair down more often than most
I have let poetry save me from certain ruin
Rumi, Rilke, Yeats, Walker and SARK
talked me off the ledge with hard words
They gave me the pen as my sword
and knighted me without ceremony
and I lived through that one night
I chose community and service over wealth
I chose the wild-lands of creativity over comfort
I chose the Divine over religion’s spell
I chose revolution over destination
I chose the sacred and the unruly as sisters
I chose my cosmic address as home
I invited thousands of women to join me
To dawn paintbrushes and canvases, to dance
with me to make invisible…visible….
We invite the great mystery to tea, flirting
with our muses with glittering hands, caring less
and less about those who don’t understand
This has been a good time
This is a good life
This story that is just beginning, is mine
As I put on my new tortoise shell glasses
I can read the café menu by candlelight
I choose the lobster with drawn butter
I choose an adult beverage, a negroni
I smile at my lover when he says
He can’t take his eyes off of me
He wonders what I am thinking
I hope he can’t see the whiskers
Then I remember
With these changes comes wisdom
My inner eyes strengthen to my inner world
As my outer eyes soften to the outer world
With this advent of progress
the deep wildness strengthens my stance
I reach for his hand
“I am ready for the next great adventure!”
I say with a mock sophisticated hand gesture
He says, “Yes, I believe I read that in your bio”
So the day goes on in this way,
making choices consistent with my progress
Seeing with different eyes
At the French Market in New Orleans
He points out a dress, black with yellow
Ruffled sleeves and from our Motherland
I wonder if I am the kind of woman to wear
A dress like that, I mean,
Who would I have to be?
I try on the dress in the street
My juicy bundle of lobster infused
rotundity is pleased by a perfect fit
With true regard, I question the vendor if
it is appropriate for me to wear
an African-made dress? He says,
“This is culture, that has become art
and this dress is for you, I promise
and don’t worry, anymore, about your size”
He puts the head-wrap on me
I decide the head-wrap is too much and I laugh,
and he has no mirror so I trust the men
(I hope it will be great with a cowgirl hat)
My love insists it is for me, joyfully
I accept that I am bold enough for this
This and a yellow and black dress
The rain and thunder come,
we duck into a crowded café
with bundles of bags, and kiss
The bands wearing orange and feathers
Swing by with their horns and their glory
This city, 300 years old, shows me herself
Shows me herself so that I might see myself
My aging, as not just a part of my charm, but
As the potential for even wider wilder stories
We watch the full moon rise over
the Mississippi from the balcony,
We go to bed early on a Saturday night
Today I wake up thinking about my biography
wondering if anyone is as interesting to others
as they are to themselves!
To find myself interesting enough
to spend time with, writing this:
To ponder your own being is wealth enough
We are going to a jazz brunch, and then
a watercolor class at the house of Degas
with his great-grand niece, a surprise, really?
As my skin thins, my stars begin to show
My stardust seeping out of my jaguar spots
Showing my age, showing myself to myself
Sharing myself with you
Praying that you, too, will find peace
With this eccentric, astonishing process of age
I put on my bright bold dress
Step into a world in which I choose to belong
Carrying the strength of story with me
My own story, our story, this story
The chance to change a story I am telling
May 19, 2019
New Orleans, LA
“Cosmic address” comes from the words of Sue Sellars
Photo “caught” by Jonathan right after the head wrap went on
A handful of photos + a few videos from NOLA for you are here on my Artist Facebook page.
If you are in our Intentional Creativity online private Facebook group, Red Thread Cafe Classroom, the post is here.
Have you ever been to New Orleans? If yes, then you know it is like another country, not just another state. But perhaps another state of mind…
We are here attending the American Alliance for Museums – because I think when I grow up I want to be a Curator and Museum founder. We are here feeling into this business…this model, and finding that much of what we’re learning is very similar to what we are already doing, and have been doing, but from a different context. I am shifting my context and this trip is a part of it. What would it be like to have a larger context for the unfolding of my body of work? I am exploring.
One of the cool things that is happening here is they are talking about things like – does the definition of museum still apply – we got to try our hand at a definition, here is my draft…
A curated gathering of unique voices committed to telling stories that inform, educate and uplift our collective evolution in continually emergent design spaces. The stories are told through diverse mediums, including but not limited to, image, language, object, sound, and performance able to be experienced by our senses, with respect to the ancestors and hope for our descendants.
When you are in a new place, new ideas arise, like the writing above popped out after day one. Being here one day on the full moon feels like two weeks!
On Sunday, as part of our museum trip, we got to hang out and do watercolor with Degas great great nieces, and hear stories of his impactful time here. What a treat to talk to them and learn about their family tree.
Jonathan surprised me and it was so truly sweet – then we went dancing in on Frenchman – hearing five bands in a few hours just lifts my soul!
This Friday begins our 3-day Apothecary workshop (one place left if you get a wild hair). If you can’t come in person, join us for the online version HERE.
Our teaching in NOLA is the groundwork for what we will bring to the online version. For that one, we hired professional videographers, and Jonathan will be in front of the camera with me instead of behind the camera for once. Because in Apothecary (which has now been taken by hundreds of people – you can read a few reviews here) he talks about his military experience, which is so profound. This class is his idea and mostly his design too! It is an honor to teach with him. As I packed up his ‘helmet bag’ from the combat he experienced, I am so very grateful he made it home….life is such a paradox, yes?
I love my new dress. And I am glad, according to the vendor, that it supports the people who make and sell the clothes, in this case, instead of takes from them something they hold dear. It isn’t easy in an instant or more to know what crosses the line and I am grateful we are looking at those lines. I am very sensitive to this and what is happening in the conversation on race and appropriation and land. Our talk with the vendor was a good one. But then he was trying to sell his stuff too! Along the lines of respect and change, I wanted to share this slide (below) from the museum conference – and, a tribal Houma woman opened the conference. I think change is happening, every so slow but good to see. Tears just poured out of my face.
Today it is more clear than ever that there is not a one size fits all solution for the description of a museum, or what is and isn’t appropriate to say, to wear, to practice from things not within your own tradition. In each case, there can be questions asked, and stories told – because it is unique to that person, place and exchange. But there may be a one size fits most black and yellow dress :) The story continues as each of us explores it in our own traditions. I am very glad the deeper dialogues are happening, as tricky as they may be to get ‘right’. But then I know, getting it right is not the answer, getting closer to each other’s stories is where the healing is. That is part of the dialogue at the museum too – there is an overall energy that the people here truly care about culture, sharing, diversity and so much more than I could have imagined. Huge efforts being made and I am glad to be part of it.
In the areas of music, food and fashion there are lots of intersections to be explored moving forward, and lots of opinions within the same cultural groups! Let’s journey together.
And so I send you my thoughts on aging…I am sure you have your own list. The thing is, listing it, the experience of writing it was the ritual I needed to accept the reality, this age thing is upon me. And now off to the conference.
Sending big love right where you are, from where I am (with a wave from a white hanky)
Yours from NOLA,
Here’s the link to see the Degas house in New Orleans. This is his great great niece, Mary Estelle. Yes, the great grand-daughter of Estelle, whom Degas painted over and over when he was visiting here and when she came to France.
SPRING and SUMMER of 2019
In Person with Shiloh Sophia
- May : New Orleans, LA Apothecary workshop – one spot left
- June : SONOMA, CA MUSE DAY: Midnight Muse
- June: SONOMA, CA BOLD Workshop for Women Entrepreneurs – I’m co-leading with Amy Ahlers!
- July : SONOMA, CA Magdalene Retreat with Dr. Kayleen Asbo
- August : SONOMA, CA MUSE DAY: DIVA X
- June: Apothecary Medicine Painting Virtual Retreat
- Now: Midnight Muse Painting Class – Start Now
- Every Month: FREE Red Thread Circle Calls for Women
For all events and classes visit www.cosmiccowgirls.com
May LOVE be at the CENTER of all CHOICES