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Stand where you are

for you have much richness
deep in the you; you are
;
even if it means lying down.

in rest there is life;
cool comfort,
joy in our stillness-es.

in our suffering
in our loss-es,
we reach into our each.

in our worn-ess,
in our despondency-s,
we are rich in offering
.

in our arms,
allowing the intimacy
of others into our lives;

we are rich.
you; are rich
in the all of y/ou/r illness-es,

we reach into the each;
and have much to offer;
humanity’s necessity;

stand where you are
even in lying down.

CKS

(originally published 2020)

Definitely winding down; I am less than two weeks away from my next Rituxan Infusion. This time, I am looking forward to it. I wish it were yesterday.

This past six months has been the best six months in two years. Overall, I might be fatigued and worn down, but I am still able to get up in my chair, still able to do things that I otherwise would not be able to do for myself before.

I also am present. I am not trying to do more, not trying to push through, not trying to be better than I am. I am right where I am and that is where I shall remain for today.

I am using a new eye gaze set up, and that makes all the difference in my life. You have no idea how much energy conservation it provides me.

Drawing more by holding the pen in my mouth. lol, that is somethin’; try it sometime. It is fun, and a lot harder than it looks. Actually, I am not very good at it. My face muscles have a hard time keeping it in my mouth. But, it gives my arms a bit of rest. And, its fun, and makes me giggle.

My pen held in place by Velcro, it can’t fall out of my hand, so, a floppier wrist is not much of a bother, its my triceps, my major movement that gets slowed, heavy, and hard.

And, so I stand where I am, lying down, binge watching much tvany suggestions? – resting in the melody of this life, and enjoying it. At this point I would normally be frustrated and developing more depression and sadness.

And I am not. I am not depressed. I am not sad.

I am joyful. I am happy. I am excited about things to come. Things that are happening; new and continuing. I am happy in feeling more present in the lives of my loved ones.

Where are you standing today? What does your present look like? Mine looks like this, and I imagine it is wrapped in a lovely pink bow!

You are enough, and have so much to give to a world that needs the you, you are. My hope is to be a part of changing the conversation around being sick, and how we treat people who are ill, suffering, and dying. How we treat people.

Each time we act with pity, we take away a person’s power. Each time we dismiss someone because of their suffering-s, we take away their power.

Each time we act in amazement at an accomplishment; despite of; we take power. Each time we discount illness and suffering because of amazement in accomplishment; We set apart rather than bring together.

Too often we treat, and act as though a person must overcome, defy, get well, in order to have worth. We take power away.

All these are wonderful things. overcoming, defying, all this is not in and of itself a problem. But why isn’t living with and alongside of provided for, cared for and caressed?

In the heart of it, that is what happens in order to get to remission of an illness, the easement of a grief. and then there is living when remission and easement is not possible.

I am not not trying to live, I am not trying to be well. I am Connie, living with a rare disease, a future unknown, but its unknown for everyone, because we are not there yet.

I love this life, standing where I am.

please share today, and invite others.

I wrote this in 2020 but I still identify today.

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

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and she danced

into such winds
she laughed;
learning to play;
feeling her joy.
CKS

___________________________

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

*sold, private collector, 2020 – thank you!

*painted with Surface/Surface Pen with Sketchable and Rebelle 3

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Succor Creek

Desert Cliffs
with Sun-drenched festivals
of light cascading.
CKS

L352

Spring View
Cliffs at Succor Creek
Oregon


My husband introduced me to Succor Creek and Leslie’s Gulch, Oregon.  It is the High Desert landscape located not far from the Idaho border.

If you time it just right, you will see the desert flowers blooming in the spring before the sandy dry colors of yellow overwhelm the landscape.

Here, the flowers are not yet in bloom.  The desert she is preparing.  It was a lovely brisk day with green sprinkled within the dance of sun and cliffs.

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


*Succor Creek, Oregon, 1 1/4″ x 3 1/8″, ink, pastel, graphite, paper, ©CKS


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Forgiveness

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

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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Seeker of Light

Seeker of Light
Come to the star-gazing
Come the night skies
Come to me darling
Where light never lies.

My heart resting heavy
Panting its beats
Fervor’s intensity
Light oh so sweet.
CKS

Not feeling my best lately, and I am okay. My Rituxan infusion is not too far off and I have all my appointments coming up, so I will discuss it with my medical team.

Pain gets to me. For those that know chronic pain, you know, you know. It sucks. There are no other words.

I am continually working with solutions and helping myself each day. One moment at a time. Coping and forgetting. There is something to be said in the act as if mode. It can help, not 24/7, but it can help.

I can see in my work, the longing and striving. The reaching and seeking.

This painting started out digital and then moved into traditional media. She started out on larger size paper and wanted to be a bit smaller; feeling more intimate and comforted by the boundaries of the paper.

What if I start with light. This is a question I have been asking. She holds her hands to her chest and rests there. comforting herself as she baths in night. A time when life has a blanket of silence, and she can wander into the void and feel wrapped and swaddled.

I have not been up to a lot of writing. It takes a lot of energy. but the sun is shining outside today, and I wanted to place my energy somewhere other than nothingness.

So, I thought I would share her, The Seeker of the Light. as she made me smile today and I hope she makes you smile too.

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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Holdfast

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

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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Not Super Girl

Within the words of licorice tea,
I find you.
sentient dissensions
owning the failure
of successes;
and the success
of failures.

Sensitive pallor
of prismatic translucence;
propensity’s inclination
night’s sky
you burn

In that same prismatic fashion
calling us
beneath the surface
of our own forgotten bodies.

Knowledge blurs our perceptions
love in a time of nowhere
and all-where

Dervishly
throwing off your own balance
knocking us unhinged
breaking our hearts
that we may sow intended.

A single strand
writes itself
into a parachute
for the many.
CKS

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

Night in the House of Poetry

she moves within the changes of humidity/barometric pressure
she is made of ink, charcoal, paper, and plaster-clothe
she finds she is empowered
asking for help; not attempting to be “super girl”

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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
Weakness,
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
harnessing
crying
writhing
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.
CKS

paint much love,
always,
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.

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

II
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.

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

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

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,
together,

becoming,
all for the love of being.
CKS

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