Posts Tagged ‘life’

the spaces in between…

Posted in beginnings, explore, gifts, home, journey, love, memory, notice, ponder, secret suffering, time, travel, UncategorizedComments Off on the spaces in between…

Forty one years ago I took a cross-country trip from Buffalo , New York to as far as you could get  in the United States –  Hawaii.

It was not planned, possibly very foolish and most certainly under the category of youthful indiscretion at it’s very best. It was exactly what youth is for and all about. I regret nothing. The right trip at the right time with all the lessons I could squeeze out of it without dying in the process. I think we remember these moments better than trips in later years because there is nothing but new adventure ahead, no previous experience to draw on and more importantly, no expectations. Every day was a gift of wonder. National Parks and Forests, a Volkswagen bus, a geodesic dome,  a 30 foot catamaran and any friend who took us in took the place of a house. Life lessons happened on a daily basis. After a few months the country stopped and the ocean appeared. The mighty Pacific Ocean! I thought I would be thrilled. Awed. But we arrived at sunset and to this day my strongest memory of that long travel to end up at ocean’s edge was – loneliness. I felt small, vulnerable, and oh, so alone. Weird, right? I am still not sure why I was so overcome with that emotion, but I suspect it has to do with the space in between. In only a few short months, I had come to some big conclusions about my young life and made some very big realizations. The vast space in between the east coast and the west, the Atlantic and the Pacific, my searching and my finding, my needs and my wants, my past and my future.

It’s funny how we yearn for youth and avoid old age. What we lose in the physical body we gain in spades in our heads and hearts, and that’s the trade off…and I’m okay with that. Those decades of the learning curve of life were long and winding. Little went as planned and much more came from finally accepting. I want to tell those in their 30’s, 40’s  and 50’s that it gets easier in your head right around the time your body says, “this is wearing me out a bit.” To which I say, it’s supposed to. We are all warriors on the road to a final rest.

I love this photo I chose for the blog header. Here I am, some thirty odd years after my first sad encounter with the Pacific Ocean with a very different outlook on it to be sure. And that’s what happens in the spaces in between – we find some joy and peace on the way.

when life gives you peaches…

Posted in beginnings, food, gifts, memory, nature, notice, ponder, secret suffering, time, UncategorizedComments Off on when life gives you peaches…

It’s the end of summer and I can already feel it in the morning air. Mostly I sense it in my head. The change of seasons tends to throw me off my usually steady countenance. Pretending it doesn’t just makes it worse for me as I look for ways to avoid the rocky , unsteady way it makes me feel.

I stared at this lovely, perfect peach for 2 days now waiting for it to hit that point where when I walk past it, the smell becomes  so heady, that I knew today was the day. I will eat this peach today and celebrate the end of the summer season and the coming of the next one. The change of seasons seem to affect me differently than other people, and I’m not sure why. They are like ‘little deaths’. I know that sounds strange and sort of dark, but perhaps that is why I like a climate where it feels like a never ending summer.

Time creeps on us all, and while we wait for the calendar pages to go by, always waiting for the next thing, we should not let those magic moments slip by too fast. Those moments when you can smell the peach in it’s perfect ripeness, and look forward to nothing else for the entire day, wherein you finally get to eat it. In another moment there will be only a pit, and I just might have to shed a tear of joy for how wonderful it was, and then one more for the fact that just like summer…it’s gone.



Thoughts on Thoreau…

Posted in 7 deadlies, beginnings, collecting, home, notice, ponder, technology, timeComments Off on Thoughts on Thoreau…

There is much to admire in the writings of Henry David Thoureau’s , WALDEN. Of late I have been carrying around a tiny volume of the book and diving in and out of it. I was prompted to read it after thinking about last weeks’ post on tiny houses. There is a fascinating excerpt in the chapter on economy, that really caught my attention. It follows a comment he makes as follows:    

                                          The evil that men do lives after them.

” The customs of some savage nations might, perchance, be profitably imitated by us, for they at least go through the semblance of casting their slough annually; they have the idea of the thing, whether they have the reality or not. Would it not be well if we were to celebrate such a ‘busk’, or feast of first fruits’, as Bartram describes to have been the custom of the Mucclasse Indians?” When a town celebrates the busk (says he) , having previously provided themselves with new clothes, new pots, pans and other household utensils and furniture, they collect all their worn-out clothes and other despicable things, sweep and cleanse their houses, squares and the whole town of their filth, which with all the remaining grain and other old provisions they cast together into one common heap, and consume it with fire. After having taken medicine, and fasted for three days, all the fire in the town is extinguished. During this fast they abstain from gratification of every appetite and passion whatever. A general amnesty is proclaimed; all malefactors may return to their town. On the fourth morning, the high priest, by rubbing dry wood together, produces new fire in the public square, from whence every habitation in the town is supplied with the new and pure flame.They then feast on the new corn and fruits, and dance and sing for three days,’and the four following days they receive visits and rejoice with their friends from neighboring towns who have in like manner purified and prepared themselves’.


This made me wonder if this custom was a throw- back to our modern day ‘spring cleaning’ ritual – without the fire!

I never have to look too far when I look to others who sought knowledge and direction in how to navigate modern life. Few will argue that our lives have for the most part become unmamagble in many ways. Thoreau would not be in the least surprised to see what has become of life in the year 2014. Over and over it comes back to this … TO END IS TO BEGIN

intercept life…

Posted in art, explore, friends, journey, time, travelComments Off on intercept life…

Getting out of your own way in life is no easy task. I’ve had lists of things that I wanted to do, achieve, see, make etc. And I’ve had lists of thing I swore I would NEVER do. Never say never. Next year I am crossing some oceans to do something I swore I would NEVER do.

Take a trip on a cruise ship.

 I swore to never set foot on cruise ships, convinced I was too germaphobic to not get deathly ill. Then an intriguing invitation came for a trip entitled –  the  MUSE CRUISE. The title had me intrigued. It is being hosted by an artist and coworker from my early days. The cruise is for women creatives from all walks of life. Painters, photographers, writers, jewelers , poets, and I’ve heard rumors of ranchers and homemakers, all wanting to walk a creative path. The trip has a workshop in creative journaling and docks at some fabulous caribbean ports of call. With the exception of one country, I have never been to all the others.  It includes one very tantalizing spot that is on the list of the 7 Wonders of the World. It’s a bargain for a week filled with all the energy that being surround by interesting, creative women from all over the country might afford. The MUSE Cruise is calling, and I must go! This continues my studio without walls odyssey, and gives me yet another opportunity to ’embrace the horror’ and get out of my own way in life. What’s the worst thing that could happen? I’m choosing to think about all the great things that will happen!


” …if you lead an interesting life, you’re on track to make interesting art. Your job is to put yourself on an intercept path with interesting experiences.”  Ted Orland from The View From the Studio Door


nature gets the last word

Posted in journey, nature, notice, ponder, Uncategorized1 Comment

As an artist, it’s both frustrating and humbling to constantly be reminded how futile it is to try to beat nature at creating beautiful things. All efforts seem so futile when you look closely at the simplest of things … the patterns on a seashell, the colors of a bird’s feathers, the clouds overhead. I use nature as my teacher and every day is again a reminder there is simply no way to learn these wonders in such a short time. It’s like always being in kindergarten.

I remain always on my knees in appreciation of the wondrous beauty of it all.

If someone or something always gets the last word, let it be Mother Nature. What good and lovely hands to be in, from the beginning to the end.

(featured photo by Catherine Massaro)

soft & prickly

Posted in family, gifts, home, journey, love, memory, time, UncategorizedComments Off on soft & prickly

“I’m a member of the last generation of American children whose parents, especially mothers, did not worry about us almost constantly .” 

These are words from one of my favorite column writers on parenting, John Rosemond.

How I  loved the freedom I had as a child. Especially in the summer when our only requirements were to be home at 6 o’clock sharp for dinner, know where your brother and sister are, and don’t bleed out. Cuts were fine, bruises were fine, anything that required stitches or expensive trips to a doctor were not fine. We survived summers on great big bandaids and hydrogen peroxide. That’s that great stuff that bubbles up when it hits your wound and disinfects whatever evil you fell into. We looked like wild animals by the end of summer, just in time for school to start. Then came haircuts, hard shoes, and a return to schedules and accountability. Yet checking in was still slim. Dinner at 6 sharp NEVER changed, but it was up to us to seek out mom if there was trouble, and that was to be avoided if at all possible. Mostly because she was busy working and expected us to figure it out ourselves – which we did. It made us independent  in behavior and independent thinkers as well.

My mom was there for us though, solid as a rock, both soft and prickly. My independent streak drifted well into high school where I was consistently in trouble as I tested the boundaries of just how far I could go with practicing adulthood. I had many hard landings, including one very memorable expulsion. And just when I thought I had pushed the boundaries way past tolerance for even my father, I found a greeting card on my bed, with my dad’s handwriting on it. My father rarely, if ever, got involved with discipline problems which were my mother’s realm. So it was a surprise, to say the least , that my father had commented on my expulsion.

The picture  on the card was the famous Norman Rockwell painting of the little pig tailed girl, bruised black eye, all disheveled from a schoolyard skirmish, waiting on the bench outside the principals office – she had an impish smirk on her face. The inside of the card read simply,



Love, dad


I still have that card, and still value how few words it took for him to tell me that it was my battle to fight , no matter what form it took, and love would be there to back it up.

Parenting back then was both soft and prickly … just like real life.

Thanks mom & dad.


catching up on the world

Posted in day of rest, ponder, religion, secret suffering, technology, timeComments Off on catching up on the world

It’s Sunday … a day of rest. Do yourself a favor and really embrace that concept whether it’s from a religious point of view or not. The world has gotten so complex, so overwhelming, with instant knowledge of everything around us from all parts of the earth and even beyond that realm. It’s simply too much for us to comprehend.
What we can practically change or impact is so very limited and small compared to what we hope to accomplish, it’s exhausting to our minds and spirit. So don’t try and catch up on the world because it’s a day off, instead sit still and let it go by. Revel in the slow and stillness and take a day off from the complexities of life.
Trying to catch up on the world can’t be done and trying to will get you nowhere; like this poor guy in the featured photograph.

Relax everyone.

(featured photograph by Catherine Massaro)

The Escape Artist

Posted in 7 deadlies, beginnings, journey, secret suffering, timeComments Off on The Escape Artist

So, this is a rather long story if you care to indulge yourself in epic failures I’ve had, that somehow changed my life for the better.

I landed a job once at a time when I needed it most, though my entire life as I knew it was going to hell. A place I had always dreamt about working, New York City.

The job started out in Long Island, Central Islip for those of you who know that part of the world, but since the showroom was in Manhattan, I was able to convince my boss that I could get more done working out of the city rather than the manufacturing plant in Islip. I was thus spared the daily ride in to Penn Station on the Long Island Railroad, plus the indignity of living in Central Islip.

The job was more money than I had ever made, but my expenses were as well. I was paying a lawyer for a divorce, my shrink for my sanity, my son was in a private school in Connecticut and I was slowly going bankrupt from it all. So I needed that job just to hang on to my crumbling life. As circumstances would have it, my boss was a complete shit head of the most manipulative, evil, diabolical kind. A truly dangerous fellow who liked trapping his employees into personal loans for cars, and their children’s college debt, vacation home mortgages and the like and then holding their feet to the fire knowing they could not quit on him. He would then proceed to humiliate and verbally abuse them publicly in the workplace, knowing they were trapped. I had a fellow working with me, dear Julian, who warned me from the start to never, ever, take a thing from him and I heeded his warning. Came a day, when the entire sales and creative team was at the big conference table to review sales from market week, and the shit started hitting the fan – big time. Mr. Evil started at one end of the table ( I was at the very end) and one poor schmuck at a time, he berated their work and them personally till I was almost white faced watching their humiliation. He was however, making his way quickly towards me, and I realized my father would be turning in his grave knowing I was working for such a despicable man. I had had enough of being manipulated in my marriage, saw the ugly connection of putting up with crap and the long term harm it had done me, and suddenly my therapy kicked in and I knew I had to make a call. I slowly put all my files into my briefcase, stood up calmly and faced him down at the opposite end of the big oval conference table and said exactly that –

“If my father knew I was working for such a horrible person he would turn in his grave. I quit.”

As I marched out of the room, watching the looks of horror on my fellow coworker’s faces, he screamed at me, “You will never work here again!”

No problem, I was gone. It was time to go. And I felt like a bird let out of a cage as I marched down 5th Avenue free from tyranny – until I got to Washington Square, when it dawned on me that I was now living in one of the most expensive cities in the world… without a job.

Well, long story short, things got bad and things got worse. Within 2 months I crashed and burned both physically and emotionally and landed back in Buffalo, filing for bankruptcy, living with my mother, completely incoherent and on lots of Prozac. That’s how things can go when you make grown up decisions. I just knew no amount of money was going to be worth that paycheck, no matter how much I was loving being in New York City, and I surely was loving it.

But the most wonderful thing happened … I started to get better fairly quickly after I let go of the nightmare that had become my life. I crept slowly and painfully back into the working world, one sweet little low paying job after another, eventually without pharmaceuticals, and a newfound strength and freedom. Where I landed about 5 years later is sort of a fairy tale ending, but it just goes to show … you should know when it’s time to go!

(featured image – oil on canvas, THE ESCAPE ARTIST, by Catherine Massaro)

sit loosely

Posted in explore, journey, ponder, travelComments Off on sit loosely

There is a wonderful neighborhood at the edge of downtown Reno on Wells Street, that has a huge Hispanic centric street fair each year. My favorite part of the event is the magnificent march of the caballeros in their full equestrian Spanish regalia. Their outfits are only rivaled by the horses’ saddles and bridles. They are precision riders on equally precision trained horseflesh. I admire the history behind this group and the discipline it takes to keep their story alive. Our personal stories may not be so glorious, but they  can be enriched by having the courage to adventure into the unknown or unfamiliar now and then. Have an adventure – sit loosely in that saddle of life and take a ride down an unfamiliar trail. Let me know where you end up.

” Sit loosely in the saddle of life.”

(photo by Catherine Massaro)