Tashi Lama

This is my most recent piece, still warm from the kiln!

I feel so much love and gratitude in my heart for the tender care that my vet and his staff give to my cats that I just had to make this piece for them, as a surprise! It’s really a gift to myself, mostly because making it for them and thinking about how surprised they will be gives me great joy. It gives me joy to think that every time I go to their office from now on and see it I will think of my beloved cat Tashi, who is my model and inspiration for these little “fat cats”. It will be a precious reminder to me of the kindness that they have given to me and my cats over the years, and how the most simple acts have a profound effect.

My cat Tashi is about 10 years old, and until about 8 months ago she was pretty round and robust (at her biggest, 12.8 lbs). But over the last 8 months she’s started to lose weight, alarmingly so. For the last 3 months I’ve been taking her in to see the vet and they’ve done tests, but aren’t really sure yet what’s going on. In the meantime, some days are good days and some days are bad days. Tashi will eat and seem like she’s doing really well, and then all of a sudden she changes, and she’ll turn up her nose at anything I try to give her. She goes to her bowl and peers up at me with a sad, mournful look like she’s starving, cries pleadingly as if to say“ I’m hungry, my tummy hurts!” Other times, she sounds downright mad and I swear her yowl means “FEED ME, NOW!” But sometimes, no matter what her cry or yowl is, she doesn’t eat, doesn’t touch one stitch of food. These moments are torture for me – I want to help her and I don’t know how. My heart aches for her and for me and for all the hunger and yearning on the entire face of the planet. It touches such a primal longing in me to nourish and feed and heal, and to be nourished and fed and healed.

I’m at my most vulnerable when I don’t know what to do, when there’s no easy fix or something I can do right away to ease my anxiety. As much as I wish I could say that I don’t worry – I do! So when I walk into my vet’s office, I am often raw with vulnerability and emotion – love for my cat and desire that all my worries will magically melt away. I’m ashamed that I’m thinking about how much it will cost and if I can afford to take care of my cat’s most basic health needs. And at times I feel guilty – Did I miss something?…..Did I wait too long to take her to the vet?……Do I not play with her enough?…..Am I gone too much?

When I go into their office, the kindness, laughter, warmth and tenderness that come from Dr. Yoon and his staff washes over me. I feel as if I am in the right place, at the right time, with the right intentions and, for awhile, my fears are calmed. No matter what the outcome, I have done the right thing by bringing her here. And as they make efforts to ease my cat’s pain and suffering, they are also easing my pain and suffering. They bring me hope, they bring light into my dark, they hold the cup for my tears, they are soft and gentle with my cats and they are a loving presence in our community.

Light and Dark

I’m reading “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers” by Debbie Ford and I love it! It’s a wonderful book about embracing all of who we are, and finding gifts in places that most people would rather not go. Her book is so full of little gems and insights that inspire me. Here’s a quote:

“Our shadows exist to teach us, guide us, and give us the blessing of our entire selves. They are resources for us to expose and explore. The feelings that we have suppressed are desperate to be integrated into ourselves. They are only harmful when they are repressed: then they can pop up at the least opportune times. Their sneak attacks will handicap you in the areas of your life that mean the most.
Your life will be transformed when you make peace with your shadow. The caterpillar will become a breathtakingly beautiful butterfly. You will no longer have to pretend to be someone you’re not. You will no longer have to prove that you’re good enough. When you embrace your shadow you will no longer have to live in fear. Find the gifts of your shadow and you will finally revel in all the glory of your true self. Then you will have the freedom to create the life you have always desired.”

Many years ago I heard an interview from a successful filmmaker and one thing that he said resonated with me very powerfully and has stayed with me all this time. He said that his work was about taking things that were fearful that were locked up and kept secret inside us and taking them out of the shadows, bringing them into the light and honoring them. Honoring their intention and gifts. Finding beauty in them. Sweetness and innocence. By bringing them out of the dark and into the light, we find that we are not alone and our vulnerability and openness connects us. My work is almost always about this – finding tenderness and grace and beauty in places that live in the dark, hopefully with a little humor and irony.

This piece is called: Me and My Shadow(s). On the back side is Emily Dickinson’s poem “I’m Nobody! Who Are You?”. For me, shadow is like a 10 ton gorilla in the room that I pretend isn’t there. Whether I want it or not, it accompanys me everywhere (on top of my head, on my back….) So I say – Embrace it!