Friday, May 15

The ties that bind...

I've spent a good part of this week exploring the phrases "my hands are tied", and "the ties that bind".  My hands have been hurting a lot recently - trying to grip a door knob, pick up a pice of paper, turn a page in a book.  All of these tasks can be difficult and need to be done with both hands at certain times of the day.  The joint between my thumbs and wrists in both hands have deteriorated, due to lupus, with bone on bone grinding - basically it's arthritis, which my hand doc says can only be resolved with joint replacement.  We have tried less invasive approaches, as well as other surgeries, with no success.  I've also tried acupuncture, physical therapy, massage, energy work... believe me - seeing a hand surgeon was my last choice after all else failed.

So, as is my way, I look at these hands that are bound by pain and some use limitations -these hands that create things of beauty, hands that surprise even me, and I admire them for what they can do.  Mostly this exploration has been done with thoughts, but an image has been haunting me for days and I have finally finished creating it, using four pages to spread it out.  

Seeing bound hands is not an unfamiliar image to me.  A number of years ago I had a recurring dream of myself being hung by my hands and thumbs.  I know, sounds pretty dramatic.  I was in a dark dank room, hanging - I remember little else before waking.  I'm not sure about sharing this story at all, but what the heck...
click on images for closer view
Not long after the dreams began a friend was telling me about a woman she had done a "reading" with, for something called soul retrieval, or soul memory.  Soon, another friend had a reading, and the more they talked about it, the more my curiosity was peaked.  This was about - wow, twelve years ago.  (yes indeed, time does fly!)  Long story short, I made an appt for a reading with Ellen, which was done over the phone, since I was living in Tucson, and she was in the San Diego area.  At the time I wanted out of the desert and southwest, so my husband and I were searching for someplace to move to - that's where my primary focus and hope for guidance was when she asked what I'd like her reading to focus on.  That and the source of my then undiagnosed pain.  

We set the appt for a week or so later, and when I called her back, at the pre-arranged time,  one of the first things she told me was that she "saw" me in a past life, as a very young woman who did hands on healing in tibet.  She claimed it was in the beginning of a time of political upheaval, and I was taken and tortured.  Ellen said she "saw" my captors beat my hands and hang me from my thumbs and wrists, in an attempt to get me to confess to where the healings and worshipping practices took place, and to give names of other healers... I had told Ellen nothing of my dream (actually, I hadn't shared it with anyone at that point), giving her only my name, birthdate, what I did for a living, and a few questions I wanted answered - the usual stuff.  Whether I actually had this past life experience or not doesn't matter to me.  What matters is there is a powerful unresolved image that I carry with me, feel in my body.  One with so much energy in it that someone else, sensitive enough, was able to pick up on it, too.
One of the reasons I choose to explore things symbolically is that it allows me to not take it all so personally.  This removes me from ever being in a place of victim, and allows me to detach and see a situation from all angles - past, present, and potential.  I have a lot more to learn from my hands and all the energy and creativity that flows from them.  

In the mean time, I am experiencing  a great deal of pain in these hands of mine currently, but  I am aware that the ties that bind me are linked to the Divine, so as I work with and learn from them, the output of artwork may be coming at a slower pace, but it is coming.  Shifting gears, adapting, accepting, and remaining in a bit of awe about it all, I will be posting my journal pages when I do them, as I do them - but rather than daily, as I had been, you may see a slower stream.

Then again, I may start doing other work altogether! 
There are a lot of ideas percolating, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see :)


  1. OMG! Karin where have I been!? I totally missed the window with the blinds. BRILLIANT. I LOVE LOVE your art. That face painting is my favorite. Oh Karin do you ever do large canvases? You paint like a master, you are a master. Please paint the face and window in a large canvas! Please.

  2. tender kisses and softly blown breaths on your beautiful, expressive, hard-working, tired hands...

    The images are so poignant here. I love how the tightness gives way to the flutter of the butterflies - may your pain take the same path...
    much love,
    PS - Yes I am going to Squam in September !!!! Doesn't it look fabulous ? So excited and grateful !

  3. wow... this is powerfully beautiful, karin. LOVE the hands. my god, they're so beautiful. the butterflies, the colors -- ALL of them.

    you know, i've been thinking about handwriting analysis, and it occurred to me that we don't *need* to take any kind of course to be able to see where we are at any given point in time (like we'd have to do if we learned handwriting analysis). the images tell all. clearly...


  4. Karin, I'm so sorry you have to suffer with such pain. Chronic pain has to be one of the most challenging things for people to deal with.

    I have a friend who by all rights, should be dead after a workplace accident. He's not, but he lives with pain as a constant.

    So, I have much admiration for people who do this, and can still get up and do something creative and beautiful, like you do.

    Your four page piece of art is gorgeous. And I understand a little, the sense of being bound like that.

    Years ago, I too had a strange dream that was connected somehow to a past life experience. Apparently. It was interesting that through kinesiology, the root of the issue was identified and then cleared.

    Whether or not my experience or yours really happened or not, as you say, doesn't matter. The patterns or reverbrations that exist within do matter though.

    I sincerely hope that some day, you find a way to cut those bonds and even more freely express the beauty you and your hands create.

  5. How very life affirming you and your art are. We cannot always do anything about our pain /circumstances but we can choose how we deal with it - as you say it makes you not a victim. Sending good thoughts your way.
    ( I get tarot cards in my dreams)

  6. Okay, very sorry, the typos were atrocious even I could not understand what I was saying...


    Ah I forgot the title of your post. This morning I asked a friend if I could start the knot of the ties that bind for I want her to be in my life for a long time, until I die perhaps? But the phrase "the ties that bind" is positive to me and painless and comforting. The Wall Street Journal yesterday on their weekend journal edition featured the 10 Ames, Iowa women and the ties that bind them since they were 12 years old, now they are in their 30s.

    I wish your ties do not bound your hands with pain for a long time, it would be tragic. Thank you for the email explanation of the face. Lynne Hoppe is one fine master artist. I wonder of I started the outline of a face with my left hand? That is amazing! I find it rather primitive and raw yet liberating. I imagine it as an intense exercise and I shall add, sensuous, I have always used my left hand to steady the right...I wonder if it is capable of doing more...

  7. stunning !!!!

    The image and the story...

    I'm sorry to hear about that pain and the feeling of tied hands. I can relate to that.

    But those almost transparent butterflies, as i look at them they say that those "bonds" are not that tight and your "hands" they will find their way to free theirselves and fly.

    Wishing you, from my heart, all the best.

  8. Oh my goodness -- your work is so amazing -- always amazing!

    Also, I didn't realize you had Lupus. And, this is such strange timing. I have ITP and have recently realized that I've had many SLE symptoms off an on chronically (for many years). So, we're looking into it. You've been such an inspiration to me and my admiration for you just grows and grows. Now, I feel a sort of sisterhood with you, too, that gives me such heart and hope! Thanks so much for sharing about yourself and for your beautiful, beautiful art!

  9. Hi Ces, Thanks on the window piece, and I'm glad you love the face - I do too. It's all Lynne Hoppe! As you know, I've sent you a link to her and explain via email :)

    Thank you Kim, I thought it was the same place. I'd never heard of Squam before you wrote about it on your blog, then I saw that video and it really does look like a fun and creative environment!! How inspiring that will be!

    Thank you Lynne :) as far as things like handwriting analysis goes, I think there are subtle discoveries to be made - underlying subconscious messages that may not be seen in the conscious - windows to the unconscious I may not have revealed on my own.

    Hi Svasti, thank you so much. I agree with you about the stories of our past life experiences and their meaning in the present. The presence of the butterflies as the holders of my ties is meant to represent the fact that bindings are truly an illusion. I bet everyone can find something in their lives that has, at some point, felt like a hand tying restriction - from financial constriction keeping us from being able to live a certain way, a physical restriction due to illness, accident or, addiction, or even a belief system - whether we chose to stay bound by those ties is the kicker!

    Hi Whitney-Anne, Wow, that is cool - to get tarot readings in your dreams! thank you for your affirming words - I agree, there are some things that just are, so we do our best with that.

    Hi Ces, Yes, there are many positive ties that bind references! My butterflies represent the positive aspects of that, to me. I love your point of the ties of friendships that bind us together.

    Thank you Maria,
    yes, the butterflies are there to remind me that those ties are only as tight or restrictive as I allow them to be. I have pain, yes, but I can still create and adapt and move along. The pain may be real, the ropes are an illusion - light enough to be carried by a flock of butterflies...

    Hi Liz, Thank you, and I wish you the very best in your search for answers regarding your health and the quandaries of your body. May I simply offer the suggestion that you listen and trust all that your body tells you, seeking until you find doctors that will listen, too. much wellness to you!

  10. Amazing imagery. The message i get from them is that the butterflies represent dissolving pain. I get migraines when my neck is out and as the pain killers kick in it's a feeling of solid pain breaking up into wisps that drift away.
    Thanks for sharing your journey Karin. I admire your courage and the way you deal with your pain.

  11. Karin, whenever I checkout your blog and you have not posted on that day, I think healing thoughts for you because I know you must be in pain.

    Thank you for sharing the thought provoking imagery and sharing your story. And I don't know if you coined this "past, present and POTENTIAL" but I love it and it will be part of my vocabulary from now on! I hope you won't mind.

    Take care of yourself!

  12. Karin this is poignant and beautiful too.

    Your poor hands and the pain. It is so hard and yet you made my prayer book. Oh Karin.

    I have a few wishes and one of them is that you didn't have to suffer with this.

    Love Renee xoxoxo

  13. The illo is a strong massage, and I like that you share the background info about it makes it even stronger.


  14. A wonderful work of art, and a very well written post from a very inspiring person. That you are able to come up with something so artistic and full of emotion is proof of your passion and dedication to your craft. Each stroke is filled with your emotion. I wish you well and more power!

  15. Thank you Robyn, yes the intensity of a migraine and it's dissipation is very similar...

    Hi Sonia, past, present and potential just popped in my head - but I may have read or heard it somewhere else, since there's nothing new out there :)

    Thanks Renee, (and it's on it's way) It's our nature to want to take away other's pain, yet it has, in part, made me who I am and my art much of what it is, so I am not suffering - your wish is answered :)

    Thank you EWian, I appreciate your words and am glad that to have taken what felt like a risk, to share the story behind the image.

    Online Printing, thanks so much for your supportive and appreciative comment - it truly means a lot to me!

  16. OMG I'm just in awe of this.

  17. Butterflies are wonderful symbols to remind humans about their own incredible lightness of being. Thanks for your pale presentation. You open windows to the soul in magical, colorful ways. We are very blessed.


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