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she breaks apart in washes
under the weight of now
whispering to the songs of taize
leaning-velvet firmly in life’s vows.

Part of the season of today is being co-pilot in caretaking my parents. I find it fascinating what surfaces in this process. Emotions long thought gone, memories believed gone in the winds of time.

It is both exhausting and a gift simultaneously.

and life does not stop. I certainly cannot put the illness I live with on hold and ask it to come back another day. lol That never happens anyway; wouldn’t that be nice. Ask to be more convenient please?

Not gonna happen. and here I am today, in a flare of my illness. It is not a bad one. Not like in the past before I was on a preventative medicine where I would be hospitalized and things were very scary.

I went to outpatient infusion to receive 5 days of IV Steroids. and am now on an oral taper to step down your body from the steroids.

And how does this all relate? How does it relate to the topic of forgiveness?

With my family, I am meeting some feelings, some not ever felt, and with my copilot, I am learning I was never alone. I am sorry we both went through what we went through. The openness with which I can speak with frankness is comforting.

And within certain experiences now, I feel compassion, I feel thankful for this season I have with my parents. It is bringing me to another level of forgiveness, a rich and reality based forgiveness. I do not really have the words I am searching for but maybe you can get the idea.

The other end is related to self forgiveness and compassion. I often feel guilty for my illness. Not because anyone is trying to impose that, quite the opposite. I have such a supportive community and family and friends.

No, I do it to myself. and when my illness decides to flare, I feel guilty, and I worry about others worrying, and I begin to mentally go down some rabbit hole of “make sure this” or “make sure that” so nobody worries or is scared or now has extra hardship. Better get better and fast. You know, the absolute crap in the head kind of trash talk about oneself.

So, I step back. my meditation has been reflective in this idea of self forgiveness. My illness is a reality and it is ever present. I do not need to feel guilty. I do not need to trash talk myself inside.

I can ask and accept the extra help I need. It is hard sometimes. Part of that is just the loss of independence in the traditional since, but with that extra help, I am able to do things, to get out of bed, to get ready, to go to the park, to run errands, to go to the studio all kinds of things.

Yes, it is loss, and that is a reality, and it is not endless, and the richness of accepting help. The intimacy I get to know and grow in deep friendship, I would not have such this experience but for needing this extra help.

I meditate with what independence really means, and does it matter. Is it really just part of the illusion of wanting to do things perfectly so I can prove worth to be here and take up space.

Yesterday was quite the day. It was my birthday, and I don’t usually celebrate my birthdays much; its a long story for another time maybe.

I had a morning to lunchtime people who came over. I am working on recovering from this flare of the NMO. but very special people came. brought decorations and hung them and we wore silly glasses and party time headbands. They brought me a coffee, and flowers and presents! For those who know me it is difficult for me to do this. and to accept things like this.

It was so much fun! by the lunchtime ish I was spent. and people left and I slept and rested the rest of the day, also getting to spend some time on the phone with people I love.

It was a special day. I had so much fun laughing with these friends, my family. Bright, colorful, and smiley. the deep smile, soul-hugging kind of smile.

And I hang on to that, because I am taught to let go. to enjoy the moment as it is. And isn’t that at least part of self forgiveness, forgiveness? to be present in the moment as it is, without judgment; just being; resting in such being?

I will keep meditating. There is no one answer. And the mind, body, and soul, can answer for themselves.

paint, much love, always,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower

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Difficulty with a side of ice cream part 2

Last time I spoke a little about this shift in perspective. This week I want to talk about how i see it relating to the shift my work is taking by pure physical form. frenzy of line/mark-making becoming slower, thicker brushstrokes. and feeling where I am in the middle of the shift; flipping the script.

Before my illness took over, I worked very intensely on the paper. scraping, erasing, sanding. often wearing holes in the paper. Sewing, repairing, or letting the holes be. It was very physically demanding.

I don’t have that kind of stamina or strength or mobility in my limbs. I needed to adapt.

I discovered digital media and eye gaze painting. Amazing technology and something very cool to train your eyes as your brush/pen.

picking up a brush in my mouth and painting. This is a process. I am still learning and practicing. Attaching the brush to my wrist is not ideal as my arms don’t have strength for this.

Physically I am actually forced to slow down my mark-making. My marks are thicker. larger areas of color. a painterly aspect I never considered myself to have.

Fascinates me that somehow thicker impasto is where I am drawn. feels as tactile as the sanding and scraping I used to do. But not so frenzied. It is a shift in intensity.

Somewhere it seems lighter. It feels in sync with this shift in perspective to begin with the light.

I have no idea where it will take me, but that is where I always trust my work. It always seems to foreshadow where life goes or leads me. Teaches me more and more about trust and faith.

Do you have seasons and shift in your life? How do you move through them?

paint much love, always,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower

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Difficulty with a side of ice cream part 1

Life in heavy fogs;
when walking turns to ice cream,
laughter becomes light.

Sometimes we just have to laugh. Levity and smiles really is good medicine. Sometimes I dream it. I imagine it. Maybe it isn’t physically happening in the moment. Maybe I am actually crying. and that is okay. There is nothing wrong with darkness.

It is not pleasant. It is not OK. It is dark. Difficulty is just that; difficult. Sometimes avoidable and sometimes not.

For a while now I have been dealing with unrelenting physical pain. It sucks. no other words to describe it. Currently I am tired of rearranging medications. My neurologist is great. He had no problem keeping on tryin. He is very supportive and I feel lucky.

But I am tired, so my last appointment I said such. Medication is not the only way I work to manage pain. I use meditation, stretching, acupuncture/Chinese medicine and massage, a variety of tools in my toolbelt. I even found on YouTube an interesting exercise from an art therapist where you have a conversation with pain. I liked it.

So, here I am and of course, one big way I deal with life is through my work. writing and painting. and they are not actually separate to me, they are one in the same.

I struggle to describe it accurately but I really enjoyed participating in the interview and I think it does a pretty good job at talking about how I feel about words and art, so I will link it here: part 1 and 2 if you wish to read them

Paper Cuts and Paper Heals: Connie Karleta Sales
Paper Cuts and Paper Heals: Connie Karleta Sales

Anyway, recently I decided to sit with a phrase from John out of the Bible:

“The Light Shines in the Darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:5

I believe that the majority of my art has come from the perspective of darkness the light overcame, so i flipped the script and came from the perspective of light the darkness did not overcome.

Light and darkness are both still there. perspective is the change.

I ended up with 2 paintings:

The Color of God Within, and
The Light Darkness cannot Consume

They make me smile. The shores are rocky and they make me smile; like eating ice cream. levity breaking into joy.

This is getting long, so I will stop here for now, and continue next week with part 2 talking about how i see it relating to the shift my work is taking by pure physical form. frenzy of line/mark-making becoming slower, thicker brushstrokes. and feeling where I am in the middle of the shift; flipping the script.

until then,
paint much love, always,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower

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Thoughts and Desires

I have been reflecting, reading, and writing. Like life does, I had slowly let go of things I did on a regular basis for my own well being.

There is no why or excuses, it just is. I choose not to berate myself or batter myself, and instead, gather, and begin; again. and ebb in the flow of it all. it happens.

I do get frustrated at myself. It is a life long struggle to get things done. I do not like admitting to ADD but it fits. I get overwhelmed and lost in it all.

I also am a pro at self-sabotage. The very inner part of me still believing in those old messages of never being capable of anything, and that I am so broken I should just forget ever being productive.

A doctor, a psychiatrist spoke those words. Now he also said that disability insurance paid him far more than my employers insurance so why would I want to work anyways. Seriously? (side note – this doctor lost his license and went to prison).

As much as I believe in myself I also so easily fall into all the messages I spent much of my life believing. from childhood into adulthood. and I doubt my own ability to make decisions.

Little by little I change this. One decision at a time.

I am doubling down. Finding ways to help myself in accountability and responsibility. Leaning on the help I have and not trying to be so stubbornly independent.

I am making goals I am terrified to make. Looking at the steps I need to take to work toward them. What do I need to take care of myself.

What are the things I need to accept/re-accept. The things that make my life easier and healthier and yet sometimes just get sick of it.

Things like my feeding tube and liquid nutrition which really needs to run pretty much 24/7 for my body to be okay. Being attached to tubes all the time get old and frustrating, AND my life is healthier by allowing the tubes to be the extension of self they are.

I am allowing myself to explore where I want to be, where I want to fall into, be comforted by. Should I be surprised it brings a smile?

My blog, I choose to get back to where it used to be. A once a week, randomness of thoughts, feelings, through art and poetry.

My work is just that, the questions, the wonderings, the fears, the hopes, and joys of life as it is lived. polished or unpolished.

I am taking risks I have not dared to take. Wanting a newsletter but not understanding enough to risk sending one. Cost plays into it too. Recently I found I could connect my Square website to MailChimp and I can begin for free to explore this world and connect through email to you. I am excited now more than I am afraid and anxious. I hope you will enjoy them for those who wish to sign up or already have.

Thank you for hanging in and joining the journey. You are beautiful humans, and I love you.

Here is to 2023 and the adventures the year will bring.

paint much love, always,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower

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Flying Fierce

Start your story here.
Looking anxiety in the heart.
Arrows through and piercing
Daring a long day voicing.

Sometimes days are just like that. Loud and anxious. When pain cries without much relief. It is not nice. I double down. Into the creative I go.

She is fierce like that. She looks straight ahead, accepting where she is, standing in it; unwavering.

I look at this painting, a part of the small series, “Based on Becoming and Flying. She stands tall. She helps me in putting my shoulders back and upright.

It is okay not to be okay. wondering where this anxiety is coming from. It is okay. She reminds me of this.

Today is just not a great day. Pain in hard, and it can feel unbearable. And art can pull me through.

A hug, a kindness, a simple gift. To look, to feel into her, she holds my hand and leads me through.

Fierce is her ability to hold me.
I imagine I am flying fierce.

paint much love, always,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower

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Intimacy Learned

We are raw exposed
protection armor melting

to feel safe;
to feel validated;
to be able to choose enough vulnerability
not only to allow someone to fully see my pain,
also to reach out and ask for help.

Then there is the vulnerability unasked for.
Unwanted. Forced.
Leaving me feeling exposed, naked, and in terror.
Someone satiating themselves with my body.

What is it about physical pain today that leads me back in memory, in these waves of past, forced, exposed, unasked for vulnerability. And I just want to run hiding.

I stay though, because I know I am safe. I know I have learned the difference between what is forced upon me, and what I get to choose.

I know what is safe and unsafe.
I learned true intimacy.
It is beautiful and warm and I get to live it every day.
I get to choose it everyday.

Instead of desperately trying to cover myself up, I leave myself with my hand stretch out and my voice speaking in the words of “I am in pain, please help.”

It is f$%king scary. It is not the terror though of the past.

This is where this painting is birthed.
Her eyes staring out, steely and soft, and looking directly out.
Mask of hiding and covering up falling off through her words.
She sits insecure and open.

Choosing to be scared, and vulnerable at the same time.
She is tough and finding her way through.

This is what pain had to say today.
This is the Story Within Her.

paint much love, always,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower

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I touch against no wall, she said.
Holdfast to the light,
sweeping as a
moment present.

I have started a new series called Stories Within Her. I do not know where the series will travel, evolve, end, or not end.

It is about the blending of the Now and the Then. I am curiously fascinated at how dealing with the severe physical pain of today, can bring me back to both physical and emotional pain of past experience.

I am sitting with that; meditating, praying, conversing with pain.

It is not the same. Certainly not the past. Where as once I created coping skills of self-destruction, now, I sit with the neutrality of joy. light.

Here this figure is; holding fast; and experiencing peace simultaneously.

This painting went through a lot. From 2 figures, to a portrait, to this single figure swept in light.

Her head is upright, bathing, seeking, looking, listening. She needed a moment to herself, away from yet deeply in.

Breathing. What did pain have to tell me this day? She told me to maintain that firm grip on seeking solution; also let go in the stillness of nothingness. Quiet can quiet pain. Let her soak and wash within the light.

paint much love, always,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower

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Based on Becoming and Flying

Am I flying?
She asked.

Stillness within the hours,
Next into next,
They can move as slowly as
A trudge through sticky mud.

Buried in her arms
Of silk-numb
Spikes and needles
Rain down her body.

The minutes
of the clock-glow
Can’t tick fast enough.

Her pain dripping
like water-cascades
of light and thunder.

through blurred-heavy eyes
Falling into her dreams
Of flight and dance

Residing there in
Unconscious darkness

Until the eyes of the
Wide open dawn
Call back

My neck craned back across my pillow
My eyes closed
My prayer is my cringe of
“please! Let this end!

I am in pain!”
–feeling the sick in it’s relentlessness.

So, I fly
into the nothingness being
of meditation
— and prayer.

I fly into becoming
stretching through
the hardness of my muscles
washing through the fire of my nerves.

I become,
the fire.
I become
the hardness.
using it
growing —

and dawn appears.
a moment of dread and hope
sigh and surrender.

I become
I become
I become!

energy of sun
surrounding me
above, below,
by my side.

I become —
not alone;
in flight.

paint much love,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower

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Staring the Cosmos Within

I watch myself forming
Oneness is calling
It is always Advent somewhere.
Feeling the depths
past meeting presence
freedom, safety, and voice abound.

Waiting in conversation with oneness.
Advent of my life
I look within you in harmonious completeness.

Unholiness I was terrified of you.
I let you in because you said so.
But you are a lie, your name is abuse.
Twisted reality, making me believe what you did was okay.
I hated myself because you said I was as gum on the bottom of a shoe
You lied, you said you could take my very breath away.
That I would not survive without you.
But light kept standing by, waiting, and
Looked you straight in the eye as
Strength stood up with my sustenance
walking away from your lies and abuse.

I watch myself forming.
fear of an unholy birth defeated
This feeling of brokenness finished
I am undamaged and undone.

Peering out into decidedness
Oneness calling is calling
Completeness speaks me whole.

Oddly enough, these days I am revisiting my past in very different ways. Coming to understand how much of my self sabatage of dreams, giving up of my voice and freezing into shut down of silence leads to one place; the old messages I thought I left behind and let go years ago.

And I did, and here I am within a new level of letting go and being very aware of these moments and literally pivoting in making different choices.

Two things, I started therapy with the intentions of helping me work through some of the grief of my body’s limitations and living with a chronic and severe illness. I believed this would help me in pushing forward in action of my goals. Instead where life needed attention was something different.

Visualization like no time before, one of the stand out moments was at Acupuncture. She placed a needle in a particular position and it was guttural pain and abject terror, and yet quickly as she was massaging out this little voice said, “You don’t need to be here.” and and old old song from years ago by Shaina Noll, played in my head. the main words of the song, You Can Relax Now

“You can relax now,
Go on and open your eyes,
Breath deeply now,
I am with you.”

I felt myself in this safety and freedom that none of what I continue to deeply believe within myself, that I am gum under the bottom of your shoes. that I could never be any kind of “success” because I am stupid and incapable.

What nonsense. A deeper knowing in my bones of the lies that its true name is abuse, and that is not mine to take on.

These experiences these days. The totality led me here.

It creates a consistency I choose one day at a time.
I choose freedom and safety. So I look out in a deep stare, fully meeting your eyes with mine. Umbuntu – I am, because you are. in which my soul includes itself – I am because we are.

paint much love, always,
Connie Karleta Sales
This Crooked Little Flower

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Gazing Upon Forever

To know me is merciful
Here I sit to visit engraved

I gaze upon the forever
all for love,
all for being.

patterns of mute
and fear, I grow roots.

Roots opening arms
giving taste of heaven

heavily I carve my being
collages of vivid-softness.

to know me is the mercy
of each line beyond me;

and we arrive,

all for the love of being.

This miniature is from the series, All for the Love of Being, a Visio Divina meditation with the words of Hafiz of Shiraz. Visit the link to read more and listen to the introduction to the series.

Reoccurring within my reflections were themes of grace, and providing myself a safe place to experience giving myself grace; giving myself the gift of roots made of breath enabling me to carve me into the bones of this earth.

I am a part of this world; not realizing I had excluded myself from the we I draw so often; still making myself unhealthfully meek, small, and frail.

I believe you might know this experience. Many of us do. Not all, but many.

It started with three graces. and turned into the prayer of St. Patrick’s breastplate:

Christ be with me
Christ within me
Christ behind me,
Christ before me
Christ beside me
Christ to win me
Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

A friend gave me a rosary and wrote a prayer based on St. Patrick’s breastplate in a time I was desperate for safety and journeying in a very darkness of terror.

I had no idea what my future held. I didn’t see myself alive, and was separating little by little from abusive place, and discovering my personhood.

I prayed and held and wore this prayer through my skin. Here I sit once again praying her into my skin, as she is worn into the soul of the paper.

She began as a digital drawing, and after I printed her, I continued with traditional media as reverse painting on glass, because I attached her to the cabochon. She grew roots more and more until she set herself into walnut; gazing upon forever.

paint much love, always,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower

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Gaze Between Us

Air stillness inhales
eyes of the entrapped cosmos
— before breath held just

(haiku and drawing originally published in Haiku Hub)

A portrait of change from the series Heal Me Open; meditating with words from Jeremiah;

“heal me and I shall be healed,
save me and I shall be saved,
for You are my praise.”

After my 2nd major attack of NMO, leaving me a quadriplegic, I adapted into digital painting and drawing. After my first major attack in 2015, I went looking for ways of adapting. My hands were weak. My legs were weak.

Then in 2018, after my next major attack, with help and meditation, I fell in love with digital mediums as I drew myself and grew into the grief and acceptance of this new life.

It was numbingly difficult to be turned in bed every two hours, to be cleaned, to have everything done for you in ways you never imagine until you are there.

This was nothing like after my cancer surgery in 2008 when I needed help with dressing, and general assistance as I was not allowed to lift, bend, etc.

But this, I ate through a tube coming out of my belly; I peed through a tube coming from my bladder; I moved with the movement of others.

My sister in law came and spent a month and a half by my side. Setting her alarm at night in order to wake and turn me every two hours in order to prevent skin breakdown.

My family and I grew in an intimacy like no other, and I was confronted with my own modesty and my sense of privacy where there was none.

My community came together and volunteered, sitting with me; bringing their gifts as we got to know each other in new ways.

In this way, there was such beauty, and this allowed me to explore and grieve and find beauty through learning this new way of connecting with the Creative.

I work on either a Surface Pro 6 or a Surface Studio 2 computer, and my two favorite programs are Sketchable and Rebelle 4. I use both a Surface Pen with soft nibs and the Surface Slim with its hard tip.

I either use an adaptive tool to hold the pen to my hand, a mouth stick so I can hold the pen in my mouth, or I use my eyes using eye tracking technology on a Tobii 4c tracker.

She is the gaze between us before breath is held and then exhaled.

paint much love, always,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower

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The Grace of Our Ghosts

Today, sweet compline,
can you experience the light
that is yours?

The wholeness of who;
to have passion;
a nearness held Close?

Allowing the collision
of love as an invasion
into your life?

In the early middle night,
she grasps allowing life to be.
reaching forward;

Hidden by her own protections
today needs no justification;

smiles and griefs,
her anger and joys
living in the wetness of her breath.

Lies drenching from every pour
as truth becomes her way.


she sweats away time,
melting the swelter
within her soul.

I wanted to see the grace I know is there. It is just that some days I am plain worn out. I am sure you know those type of days, because I believe we all have them no matter where you are in your life journey or season.

Sparked by an invitation to participate in a very cool project called #passtheblackbook. Where many artists of all levels and backgrounds etc. were coming together creating art in one digital sketchbook using Sketchable, a very cool drawing software for Surface PCs. Here is a link to check it out and learn more: Pass The Black Book

I began drawing on my page, and one layer led to the next and the next and. . . you get the picture. And what grace in this time with no great time limit, and the gift to be where I am, in the space I am in.

Let’s face it. I just have not been feeling my best lately. I just said to a friend today that I felt like my sparky spark is not so sparkly right now, and that I need to refill my glitter tank.

And that is okay. Not that long ago, I apologized as I do often for my state of being. I said to my hubby, “I am sorry for being a bump on a log.” He replied quite simply and lovingly, “You are fine, just the way you are.”

I pause now days when I find myself wanting to apologize. What am I really apologizing for? I have no idea. Just something ingrained in my existence. To apologize for my existence.

That I have no right to breath. That I am lazy and I should be better; do better. and not wanting to get in trouble.

This is a ghost of my life experience. The ghost of being the sexual play toy of very sick people as a little girl and growing up. This is the ghost of not knowing I was anything more than property. The ghost of fear.

I speak slowly because I wish I could come up with another word. It took years to curb my desire to ask permission for every single movement or action.

May I make a phone call. May I get something to eat. May I go to the bathroom. Somehow the ventilator and its programmed breaths can ping itself to a time when I was told how many breaths per minute I was supposed to breath to be appropriate and being punished if I did not breath appropriately.

Somehow pinging back to not wanting to get into trouble and wanting to say no, all at the same time. “I am in control. I will be in control. You don’t own me.”


Funny how much you can frolic along life and wham! A ghost pops up beside you without even realizing it.

There are just those things so ingrained in our experiences that they walk with us from time to time.

Funny to me how often in this season of my life, as I walk with grief and joy in the flowers of illness and a failing body; funny how often I am walking with ghosts of my experiences past. popping up here and there in ways I never imagine.

What do you do with your ghosts?

I do as I always have done, I draw out the ghosts. We dance in paint and charcoal. They show me such grace in their existence. Show me so many beautiful ways of being. I show them it is safe to be who they are.

How I live now. The love of my family, my friendships, and acquaintances. The fullness of laughter, and true joy.

The okay-ness of being right where I am. With this, one action at a time, I see life in a different way. An action of rest. An action of a dish being washed. An action of stillness in the flowers.

It doesn’t mean the sparkle instantly beams on high, but it does comfort the fear; and gives it rest.

Please, enjoy this meditation, The Grace of Our Ghosts, resting in practice of being.

paint much love, always,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower