January 2023 | Interview with Kay Crista: Oral Poetry Performer, and Jeweler – Part II
I was cracked open by beauty. It was my soul cracking open, its form being beauty.
I love my work because I’m sitting in beloved solitude at the altar of beauty. It’s a meditation in silence and creativity that replenishes the well, and then I’m able to give to people from a deep place. I’m an extroverted introvert.
I asked Kay about her website and her jewelry. I built the website myself with help from friends for photography and modeling.
I was in the middle of rediscovering jewelry, after twenty years of turning away from it. When I found pearls in a bead store in Hawaii, they set me on fire! I haven’t pursued anything like that in my life. I was making jewelry every day obsessively. I couldn’t make jewelry fast enough. There’s something so unique about pearls. They’re Ocean and Earth, this thing growing inside a living being. Unfortunately, those beings are killed for their pearls, and I have focused my more recent work in gemstones.
I was creating all these pieces with light and color. I was cracked open by beauty. It was my soul cracking open, its form being beauty. Being a mother, and having my daughter Hallie, disrupted my persona, and things literally fell apart. Out of these ashes grew Beauty. I surrounded myself with deep, archetypal Beauty in images and form.
I was 40. Uranus, the planet of authenticity, was in natal opposition. Am I living my authentic life? Hallie was born on that energy. She looked at me and saw through everything. At that time, I was a workaholic, my relationship was dysfunctional. I wasn’t handling money well, and I was drinking. I could fool everyone else but Hallie. “Mamma, where are you?” she asked me at age two. The purity and the love of the child broke through.
I was reading Rudolf Steiner when Hallie was five, and read that spirits live on the surface of the sun before incarnating, while thinking, “That’s pretty far out!” One day, Hallie pointed at the sun and said, “That’s where I came from.” Another time, in the bathtub, Hallie looked at me and said, “This time you get to be the mom.” That girl rocked my world and broke open the prison I had been living in.
Around that time, my photographer friend Daphne, put an enneagram book in my hands and said, “I think you’re a two.” (There are nine personality strategies.) Two is “the helper” type, prioritizing service and doing for others often at one’s own expense. I was so undone. Here I thought I was Kay with all these unique qualities, and there they all were listed in black and white. It was humbling to have my behaviors revealed as a personality survival strategy. And then I fell into a state of grace.
The shell crushed open and for about three months every moment was sacred and I felt carried by the flow of wu wei. Now, I still get these glimpses. All the deeper mysteries give me that taste. Once you see it, you can never forget. There’s a Sufi saying, “It cannot be found by searching, but unless you search it cannot be found.”
I’d been a meditator since I was at college, but when I met Adyashanti in 2006, he changed my entire paradigm of what meditation is. He said, “It’s the mind’s nature to think. If you try to stop thinking, you will be at war with your mind forever. Meditation is to be present without identifying with the mind’s chatter or one’s feelings and sensations. There is a pure beingness that exists before any thought, feeling, or sensation arises — it is aware of them, but not them. Resting in that awareness is meditation. Or, as Rupert Spira says, “Meditation is who we are, not what we do.”
For the last decade, I’ve had an autoimmune disorder, recently re-diagnosed as ankylosing spondylitis (A.S.) I have struggled with inflammation, immobility, and pain in varying degrees and discovered it is exacerbated by stress. It has brought me many teachings.
Once, during the worst symptoms, I was getting ready to go to a gem show. I was in so much pain and fatigue. I heard this voice in my head, “Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry,” and I then recognized that voice had been with me my entire life, subliminally pushing me along. So, I started noticing that voice and stepping away from it. These are the gifts of noticing our thinking, and noticing our feelings. When I’m living with greater awareness, the more these voices get exposed, the more I can live from my true being.
I still hear and feel that anxiety visit, and every time I notice it, I realize that I need to stop and go slow, and check in. I scan my body. Where are the physical pain spots? What are they telling me? What do I need in this moment? It’s like waiting for the sand to settle in water until clarity arrives.
When I was first diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica, I was put on steroids which helped enormously, even though it was the wrong diagnosis. I was re-diagnosed later with A.S. There have been periods when I could only do one thing in a day and it made me very conscious about how I chose to spend that precious time. I continued leading an alternate 12-step program for people with sugar addictions once a week — work that was dear to my heart as I had struggled with disordered eating through my twenties and thirties. And I continued to make jewelry every moment I had the energy for it. Fortunately, the disease has never moved into my hands. It has attacked the ligaments in my feet, knees, hips, shoulders, and back.
I was on steroids for many years, and then I was able taper off. Sometimes I have to resume temporary large doses to knock down flare-ups. My symptoms ebb and flow and I’m still on small doses of pain meds. I’ve learned to live with pain. Unless it reaches acute levels, I’ve become adapted.
There was a time in that first year of getting sick when the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong and the pain and immobilization were creeping steadily through my whole body. I felt I was dying, and I had this thought one day while looking out the window at my beautiful orchard — life is just going on without me and that’s okay. I learned humility too, from living with this condition. Being someone who’s struggled with illness as well as compulsive and addictive behaviors, I have great compassion for all who struggle — overtly or in silence. These are the gifts of adversity!
So I can’t save the world—
can’t save even myself,
can’t wrap my arms around
every frightened child, can’t
foster peace among nations,
can’t bring love to all who
So I practice opening my heart
right here in this room and being gentle
with my insufficiency. I practice
walking down the street heart first.
And if it is insufficient to share love,
I will practice loving anyway.
I want to converse about truth,
about trust. I want to invite compassion
into every interaction.
One willing heart can’t stop a war.
One willing heart can’t feed all the hungry.
And sometimes, daunted by a task too big,
I tell myself what’s the use of trying?
But today, the invitation is clear:
to be ridiculously courageous in love.
To open the heart like a lilac in May,
knowing freeze is possible
and opening anyway.
To take love seriously.
To give love wildly.
To race up to the world
as if I were a puppy,
adoring and unjaded,
stumbling on my own exuberance.
To feel the shock of indifference,
of anger, of cruelty, of fear,
and stay open. To love as if it matters,
as if the world depends on it.
– Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer