Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Getting There

Getting There
by David Wagoner*

You take a final step and, look, suddenly
You’re there. You’ve arrived
At the one place all your drudgery was aimed for:
This common ground
Where you stretch out, pressing your cheek to sandstone.

What did you want
To be? You’ll remember soon. You feel like tinder
Under a burning glass,
A luminous point of change. The sky is pulsing
Against the cracked horizon,
Holding it firm till the arrival of stars
In time with your heartbeats.
Like wind etching rock, you’ve made a lasting impression
On the self you were
By having come all this way through all this welter
Under your own power,
Though your traces on a map would make an unpromising
Meandering lifeline.

What have you learned so far? You’ll find out later,
Telling it haltingly
Like a dream, that lost traveler’s dream
Under the last hill
Where through the night you’ll take your time out of mind
To unburden yourself
Of elements along elementary paths
By the break of morning.

You’ve earned this worn-down, hard, incredible sight
Called Here and Now.
Now, what you make of it means everything,
Means starting over:
The life in your hands is neither here nor there
But getting there,
So you’re standing again and breathing, beginning another
Journey without regret
Forever, being your own unpeaceable kingdom,
The end of endings.

I discovered the poet David Wagoner, when I was around 15 or so. I was blown away by the way he talked about death, both of humans and of forests. He's a poet who made an impression upon me as a human and as a writer. Several years ago, when CK and I were in those first awkward weeks of a relationship, I invited her to a friend's birthday party. He requested that in lieu of gifts that his friends put on a talent show for him.

I read poetry, it is something I learned to do in high school, even did it competitively into college. Yep, forensics. Yep, competitive public speaking. I was one of those kids. I really loved it and the skills I learned in it have continued to be useful to me to this day. For part of a season I had a whole set of dark, death-y poems of David Wagoner's I read. There was a year in high school where we lost a student from each class; the junior class loss was a friend, not a close friend, but we were on the swim and water polo teams together. The poetry fit.

I'm not sure if I found Getting There when I was younger. However, when searching out the "right" poem to read to a friend to celebrate his fortieth birthday, I came across it. My friend loved it as well as my choice of Pablo Neuruda's Ode to Wine (this poem follows at the bottom of this post, because it is just too marvelous to miss).

I feel like I have begun getting somewhere. Some place where I feel like I'm finally on a path and not, yet again, thrashing around in the brambles, hopelessly lost.

While I was on retreat in November for Level 2 Integrated Movement Therapy training the two-year anniversary of the last time I saw my Mother passed. Two long years, one year which felt as though it consisted almost entirely of learning how to sleep again, since making the decision to not have any interactions with my Mother because she is incapable of not treating me abusively. Kind of a big anniversary.

However, all told, being in training with my teacher, at a place I have so quickly come to love, seemed like as good as any place to be. The other option probably would have involved snuggling in the bed with dogs and cats. Not that the home option is bad, the retreat option just seemed better, like it was probably a really good place for me to mark that anniversary.

The actual day, the day where I last saw my Mother, was our last night of the retreat and we had a small fire ceremony involving a nighttime walk in the triple-spiral labyrinth at the Grunewald Guild. Before going out we reflected on a word, a phrase, something we wanted to work on releasing, letting go of. I picked a pretty powerful word to offer up to the fire.

The anniversary hadn't felt as though it was really bringing me too low most of the week. I was grateful too feel on a more even keel then I had back in September. That's until I was halfway through the second spiral and I felt as though all the anger, grief, and profound loss I have felt since that day just hit me all at once. For a moment I stumbled, nearly falling out of the labyrinth I was walking in. I made my way around it, offered something it is high time for me to let go of to the fire, crying steadily all the while.

I've had anxious, restless dreams since returning. My brain continues to try and integrate, process things. Today I saw my massage therapist who helped release the profound tension in my upper body I've been carrying since the fire walk.

Thanksgiving is the day after tomorrow. Friends are coming over, our longstanding tradition. The transition into the winter holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving, still feels a little painful. However, it feels like I've been getting there more easily these days.

*"Getting There" by David Wagoner, from Traveling Light: COLLECTED AND NEW POEMS (Illinois Poetry Series)© University of Illinois Press, 1999.


Ode to Wine
by Pablo Neruda

Day-colored wine,
night-colored wine,
wine with purple feet
or wine with topaz blood,
starry child
of earth,
wine, smooth
as a golden sword,
as lascivious velvet,
wine, spiral-seashelled
and full of wonder,
never has one goblet contained you,
one song, one man,
you are choral, gregarious,
at the least, you must be shared.
At times
you feed on mortal
your wave carries us
from tomb to tomb,
stonecutter of icy sepulchers,
and we weep
transitory tears;
spring dress
is different,
blood rises through the shoots,
wind incites the day,
nothing is left
of your immutable soul.
stirs the spring, happiness
bursts through the earth like a plant,
walls crumble,
and rocky cliffs,
chasms close,
as song is born.
A jug of wine, and thou beside me
in the wilderness,
sang the ancient poet.
Let the wine pitcher
add to the kiss of love its own.My darling, suddenly
the line of your hip
becomes the brimming curve
of the wine goblet,
your breast is the grape cluster,
your nipples are the grapes,
the gleam of spirits lights your hair,
and your navel is a chaste seal
stamped on the vessel of your belly,
your love an inexhaustible
cascade of wine,
light that illuminates my senses,
the earthly splendor of life.But you are more than love,
the fiery kiss,
the heat of fire,
more than the wine of life;
you are
the community of man,
chorus of discipline,
abundance of flowers.
I like on the table,
when we're speaking,
the light of a bottle
of intelligent wine.
Drink it,
and remember in every
drop of gold,
in every topaz glass,
in every purple ladle,
that autumn labored
to fill the vessel with wine;
and in the ritual of his office,
let the simple man remember
to think of the soil and of his duty,
to propagate the canticle of the wine.

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Looking Forward

I feel like I'm coming in, trying to blow off the cobwebs, remove the dustcovers, and start setting things to order again.

So very much has been happening, it has really been overwhelming at times. I would start to post about things, then it would be too much and I'd put it off. Then it got to the point it felt like I'd never write a catch up post.

Like any Practice, the essence is in the present moment. The Now.

So what has happened since May?

More yoga classes have happened. I teach a total of eight classes a week currently. Seven classes are at studios or clubs, two of which don't require membership to attend. One class I've started under my own business name, Samatha Yoga, is a Yoga for Women class that I hold at a studio space I rent in downtown Portland.

In April I started to investigate Integrated Movement Therapy (IMT) as a possible direction to head in my desire to train in a form of Yoga Therapy. That classes are largely held in Washington, Seattle and a little town called Plain, and Portland was part of the appeal. I also heard some really great feedback about IMT from the Executive Director of Living Yoga.

I signed up for some group classes on Yoga for Anxiety with one of the IMT instructors and felt a real connection. The more weeks into the program I went, the more interested I became in the ways the IMT approach to Yoga Therapy. In mid-April I took the IMT Basics class as well as the Level I 3-day intensive on IMT for Adults. My hope is to be complete with the program, including practicum and internship, by next winter.

In May I joined the Board of Directors for Living Yoga. I was starting to do a dive into helping improve the usefulness of data and some software-as-a-service type tools when August rolled around with a huge pile of Big Life Changes. A sudden increase in stress, combined with the realization that the schedule I'm taking for my IMT studies conflicts with many of the Board meetings, as well as wanting to take as many teaching positions as possible right now to help extend our savings further, led me to the decision to leave the Board. I'm hoping I may be able to revisit joining sometime in the future.

Also in May, we purchased a used 2002 Chevy Astro Passenger Van. We'd done some research on vans to facilitate moving props to group classes and for us to camp in. The Astro was the winner and we found a good one at a very small dealer near our house.

June is the month of the Surprise Bulldog. I'd taken the van to our mechanic's shop for a good once-over and an oil change. I came home with a shy, skittish, 6-month old bulldog puppy. His owners had gone through a traumatic breakup. One would no longer have anything to do with him and the other owner, the adult son of the owner of the shop I go to, was keeping him crated for up to 13 hours a day. When the van was done, the puppy came up with me. Later that night we named him Bertie. Depending upon who you ask it is either short for Bertrand Russell (CK) or Bertram Wilberforce Wooster (me).  Let me tell you, an English Bulldog puppy is an adventure in so many ways

In early August, after several years of not being heard or respected, among other things, CK decided to leave her position at her high tech, high stress job. Right now she's been taking it easy and deciding what she wants to build. This whole event gave us some rather intense weeks throughout the month as we got closer to her last day, August 27th, the day before my birthday.

On August 26th I received a truly mean, spiteful letter in the mail from my Mother. Thankfully I had an appointment with my therapist scheduled for the 27th in anticipation of birthday blues, so the letter got immediate attention. I have wondered if she's trying to provoke me into responding somehow, or if it is just pure maliciousness and making sure she gets the last word in. In the future I'll be returning mail from her unopened.

Then I was 46 and we had a relaxing day. I taught a yoga class, because I wanted to, and otherwise we just had a mellow day. We ended the day with rock & roll; seeing Steve Earle & the Dukes perform. I am happy to report that 46 is not too old to rock and roll, however, I personally recommend at least a day's recovery time afterward.

To make my birthday extra awesome CK snapped a picture of Steve Earle and me. She also told him it was my birthday and he signed a personalized message on the concert poster we'd picked up.

That brings us right in September. The first week CK was officially not working she built a beautiful book shelf for our living room. I spent the first week of the month getting ready for the two-week, residential training retreat I had coming up. The official Samarya Yoga Teacher Training intensive, held at the Grunewald Guild in Plain, Washington. Given some of the experiences I had with Zen sesshin practice, I had a lot of anxiety going up there. Not to mention the heightened stress I was under due to the rather busy August we'd had. Still, can't keep putting things off until I feel "strong enough" to do them.

To make it a little easier on me I outfitted the van for a camping try-out. I had power, so an electric blanket to stay warm during the chilly mountain nights as well as power for my laptop and my very own electric kettle. I also made some snazzy curtains to cover all the windows.

I ended up flipping the bed around, finding that those back doors let in quite a draft. I came away with several items to improve the experience. The suction cups to hold the curtains need better positioning, and perhaps more of them. I want to find a way to block the back doors. Other than that, I was very comfortable in my little van-cave and so grateful for a place that offered total retreat when I was overwhelmed.

The training was intense. Upon returning and starting to catch-up (debrief) with my therapist she asked me about making a list of everything that came up, so we could prioritize them. I looked at her without blinking and told her that Everything had come up, in due time, across the long days of the retreat.

It was at times a tour through trauma. It was at other times hugely uplifting, the satisfaction of learning deeply, curiosity encouraged, dynamics of human interaction explored, the practice of gratitude established, an understanding of sisterhood unfolded, and so much more. The picture is of me just after our closing ceremony (still have taken very few selfies, but this one isn't too bad).

I was back home for 5 days after that experience, teaching all my classes, and then up to Seattle for a 3-day intensive on Level I IMT for Teens. I'm working on getting my time with my mentors done, hopefully over the next few weeks. In mid-October I'll have the 3-day intensive on Level I for Children. I leave again for Plain, Washington on November 1st for the 1-week, IMT Level II intensive.

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May was spent processing anger, waves of it. Then, unexpectedly, a childhood memory suddenly focused into clarity, which took some grieving and new, different anger to integrate and express.

Enjoying the Cool of the Park - June 21, 2015 - Tigard, Oregon

Similarly to learning safe ways to express anger I've also been exploring ways to "have a good cry". The idea of putting the words "good" and "cry" together is absolutely alien to me given my family of origin. Animal movies, sentimental ones particularly, seem to do the trick. Periodically Dora and I've watched a few really sappy dog movies when CK's has been away on work trips.

It has been a learning experience, in many ways.


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Stumbling Towards Peace

So much for my National Poetry Month pledge. Ah well.

Red Gerbera Daisy - May 25, 2015 - Portland, Oregon

Creativity, writing or other artistic medium, has been distant this winter into spring. I'm also not really motivated to read much either. I was thinking this morning about the two kinds of shame that arise around this. First out of the gate comes the, "Why are you at your desk working on collage, polymer clay pieces, organizing, bead work, anything!?" That one is so obvious. I should be making an effort to spend time at my desk dedicated to my art. This is the way artists  become selling artists.

The more subtle voice of criticism is softer and hints at some colossal, irredeemable flaw in not wanting to be creative. To be perfectly content in this slow, fugue state and not desire to break out and make art seems like the biggest betrayal, failure of them all.

Which means that some days, still many days, I work a little (3 classes a week, moving up to 5 come June), try to take care of some household errands and/or chores, and nap. I still feel kind of amazed at just how much  I still nap and how an hour of therapy can throw me into a tailspin lasting for days. A particularly intense therapy session earlier this month has seen me back to nearly daily naps, many over 2-3 hours.

What finally occurred to me on the 11th was that I'm angry. I left that therapy session angry, which was a far healthier response than the shame and body disgust I went in with. That said, I'm really at a loss when it comes to anger. A childhood of being disallowed the expression of any "negative emotions", anger, disrespecting elders, "talking smart", anything perceived or labeled as "back talk", etc. As a young child this was enforced through physical action followed by banishing me to my bedroom where I was also not to cry and carry on, lest I be "given something to cry about". As I grew older I would mostly just be banished. Cut off from contact aside from school attendance. The rest of the time I was in my room with the door closed, shutting me away.

What I realized now is that when I'm angry I tend to get in a gray, exhausted, demotiavted funk really quickly. This leads me to just go to bed and nap. I go somewhere quiet and try to wait it out. Which really worked for me growing up, but as an adult.... well it still works because I'm teaching and not working some stressful, full-time+ job in IT. However, I also get that the anger I feel at the abuses I survived is a pretty reasonable response.

And yet... there are my vows, particularly the Ninth Grave Precept which directs us to, "Actualize harmony. Do not be angry."

So I'm trying to find ways that let me acknowledge and reconcile the anger I feel, particularly my "inner, younger selves" that were so utterly denied any way to express anger at what was happening in the present moment. Ways to express the anger that are safe, measured, and do not bring further harm to myself or others. I'm brainstorming some "intuitive art" sessions where I just pick colors, textures, words, and images from my collage materials that the inner anger resonates with and, on the advice of my therapist and CK, I occasionally try yelling and screaming in the car.


Learning Rest

I've only been able to establish a restful sleeping pattern in the past year. Peeling back the years of trauma and job-related stress (those 17 odd years of being on call) that created my inability to sleep well, chronic insomnia (couldn't get to sleep, couldn't stay asleep), starting from age 4 or earlier, has been hard. Multiple professionals have helped to treat me and give me tools to help me learn to rest at last.

These days I don't sleep as often or as much as I was in early 2014, but the need is still there. After more than a year of practice I am finally able to listen to my body without fear or self-shaming and let myself nap, fully rest, whenever I need to. It is nothing short of miraculous.

Learning Rest

Bleeding Hearts Return - Portland, Oregon - April 2, 2015

After a lifetime
Of restlessness.
Nights of scattered,
Small hours of sleep
Caught between the
Night terrors and the
Waking anxiety that
Brings them.

To experience the
Gift of sleep, to
Learn the rhythm
Of the body and
Its need for rest,
True rest that heals,
Is sipping from
Kwan Yin's jug.

Drinking in the
Elixir of life.


New Path and National Poetry Month 2015

As I am feeling my way into this new way of being in the world, emerging into the life of a yoga teacher, artist, and writer with equal measures of joy and trepidation, I am trying to return to some things that helped foster my creativity, like annual 30 Poems in 30 Days project for April, which just happens to be National Poetry Month.

In years past I've really loved showing my love for poetry by committing to challenge myself to write 30 poems in 30 days. I'm not sure here on April 1, 2015, if I've ever done them all. I'll have to look back and see. I'm not sure I'll get them all done this year, but I feel good about reviving this "tradition" on my blog. Trying to write poems each day challenges me in many positive ways.

The biggest challenge is to just compose a poem. Write it, one day, often at a single sitting (although a haiku may take me the whole day to compose). Don't fiddle with it, just write it, publish it on the blog. Don't judge it, just write it. That's a hard one to work with, but this annual exercises challenges me to work with my inner critic.

New Path

Hospitality Agent Lumpy - Portland, Oregon - April 1, 2015

This uncharted territory
Had beckoned to me,
Yet always seeming
Far off, shimmering
On the horizon.

Yet now I find myself
Right at the edge,
Ready to step down
The road to a new way.
Now, now is the time.

I feel, all at the same time,
Joy, fear, uncertainty,
And, to my surprise,
Delight at moving into a life
I never dared hope to live.


Taking Flight

In February I registered my business, Samatha Yoga, which I hope to begin growing this year as a mobile yoga teaching practice, bringing classes to offices, conferences, wedding showers, and more. I've been communicating with one local company already after having counter-pitched an inquiry from a technical recruiter; saying that I wasn't in the tech business anymore but wouldn't they love to improve the Health and Wellness options at the office by having me come teach yoga.

I've also been teaching two mornings a week at a gym in Happy Valley. It really is growing the ideas I come up with without any props aside from the yoga mats the students bring themselves. However, if my resolve to eventually only teach classes or private sessions were props are abundantly available wasn't already made, this experience only strengthens it!

I also spent part of a week attending workshops at Art and Soul last month, which was exhausting and exhilarating in equal measures. I took two workshops, which I'll be writing about soon on the ZenZada blog soon.

I've recently done some immersions where yoga, meditation, and/or energy work and journaling is used an approach to work with anxiety. These aren't teacher training, but as a teacher I'm finding them very valuable as I gather information to make the best decision for my training to become a certified yoga therapist.

At the beginning of March I sold my old house in North Portland. The sales cleared all the debt associated with the property as well as some remaining personal debt, including the very last of my student loans. As embark upon this exciting new experience of running my own business it is an enormous relief to have the liability of the house hanging over me now that I no longer receive a lucrative tech income.

So in many ways my new life seems to be taking off! Which is as exciting as it is tiring.

Fly away, Scrub Jay!

This month also sees my unemployment benefits expire. I am feeling anxious and guilty about this date sneaking up on me. I have been refining, tweaking, researching, refining, etc. on my application to the Self Employment Assistance Program that I'm afraid I may have missed the deadline to apply. There's another federal program I should still be able to apply for, I hope.

I'm feeling mad and frustrated with myself and the days where I feel like I've been zapped by a Cone of Demotivation (+4) that leaves it hard to even keep up with things around the house, make art, improve my business materials. I've been hit by another round of headaches; seems muscle tension is impeding the circulation of lymphatic fluid and blood in my head and neck.

In my meditation practice I've returned back to something my old Zen teacher used to say, "I am whole, complete, lacking nothing." It helps keep firm the reframing of seeing myself as wounded, not broken. I'm working on a bright book of affirmations for the year and am including this mantra, of sorts in it.

In February I also played around with using one of the heavy paper cranes I'd made for our first wedding as the basis for collage, becoming a kind of paper sculpture. One of these large cranes had been delivered to my Mother in the hospital on that day. When packing up her things for the last time I chose to keep it. However, seeing it was rather bittersweet for me. I added more layers of paint to it, a quote from Mary Oliver on one side, "Leave some room in your heart for the unimaginable." and that mantra on the other. In February it was sent, along with 60 beautiful cranes folded from chiyogami paper and two hats, knitted by my friend LG, with a paper crane pattern worked into it. It made it in time to Lansing, Michigan, to bring one of the last smiles smiled by my second college friend to lose their battle with cancer. Yesterday, very early, she peacefully passed onto the next journey.

Spring starts as rather a mixed bag. Sadness, excitement, joy, anxiety (always), hope.

Cranes4CJ Paper Sculpture


The Weight of Waiting

I haven't written much this past year, a huge 12 posts in all of 2014. It was the kind of year I never expected to happen, really, I never expected to get the privilege of having time to stop, to honestly look at things, to heal.

I wrote in December 2013 that things had blown up spectacularly with my Mother. It still isn't something I want to talk about as publicly as my blog, but if you're someone who knows how to contact me directly, drop me a line or give me a call, invite me out for tea or lunch if you're in Portland, and I'll give you the high level of all my Mother put us through.

Back in April of 2012, when all the chaos of trying to get my Mother's financial assets returned to her by her husband, someone left this comment on my blog. Understandably, I choose not to publish it (exactly why I have a posted comment policy).

Take your mother home

It’s your duty to invite your mother to live with you in your home. Take care of her until
The day that she dies. Anything less from YOU is a disgrace.

Karma, dude.

Umm... yeah, I've been carrying that one around for a while. It has made me felt crushed by guilt. Ironically, when this compassion-impaired, ignorant, judging person posted this unpublished comment we were already discussing what would have to change in order to have my Mother move in with us.

We bought another house. I became a landlord and rented out the house I'd purchased. We moved all our stuff. A month later we moved my Mother and most of her stuff into the new house. A week later we had a house full of emergency responders in our chaotic house because my Mother took her lunchtime insulin and fell asleep, so her blood sugars dropped so low as to require a trip in an ambulance. So began our daily oversight of her medications, insulin, blood sugars, meals, etc.

The amazing thing was is that it actually helped. Her care providers were truly seeing improvement in her health overall, things that had worried them for years. The constant message from them was to keep doing what we were doing. The diet changes, the help with medication, the fall prevention (in part due to stopping her over medicating herself), and the regular oversight was really shifting her health dramatically in a positive way.

Except we were to find out she didn't want it. She really didn't want that improvement and even rejected me personally in one of our last conversations in October 2013.

Yes, all this while working in a position at a large high tech company that constantly demanded more and more of my time, and where I'd eventually experience sexual harassment from my boss.

The combination of all of those things just shut me right down last year. "Dangerously Exhausted" was a phrased used by both my new physician and new mental health nurse practitioner.  Total emotional and physical exhaustion, nearly the the point of hospitalization. In the end, seriously harming my health as well as the health of my marriage, was all I got out of throwing myself fully into trying to care for my Mother while working to the point of tears over a project that just couldn't succeed.

In late November 2014 I commented to my therapist that it had been a while; that I was expecting to hear from my Mother any day now.

Yes, despite my letter asking her to direct all communication thorough CK, she has sent some cards and letters, which mostly focused on asking for things we've already tried to send. Less than a week later a social worker called CK and told her that my Mother had chosen to go to hospice care, with no further treatment of the thyroid cancer or anything else. CK then called to share the news with me.

So now there is the weight of waiting. Tom Petty said it best, "The Waiting" is the hardest part. This is the state I've been in since early December. Back when she had a "month" to live, possibly more if she responded to the palliative treatment.

Only he was singing about love and passionate encounters. However, the same adage applies to this limbo state I've been in since early December. Waiting for the call, the news that she's finally passed over.

Waiting for the news I've prepared my whole life for. It finally feels like I'm ready for that news and now I wait.

I sent her a letter that arrived early this week. It reassured her that I'm doing fine, that I know she (believes) she loves and cares for me, and that I hope she was finally moving toward peace at long last. Now I just feel the weight of waiting for that final phone call, waiting for the news that she is gone.


October Observations

October is here, arriving with a burst of rain and then come days of warm, summery days and crisp evenings. Really, one of my favorite times of year in Portland. Leaves are just turning, apples are plentiful, all the moss that had gone brown in the summer heat turns to green again. I'll miss the last two weeks of the month because we'll be leaving the house, and all the beautiful creatures living in it, in the very capable hands of a dear friend while CK and I enjoy a trip.

Kitchen Benefactors

Part of the trip for her will be work, but we have several days for just us. It has only taken two marriage ceremonies for us to have a honeymoon, but we're finally doing it. I'm getting really excited for the adventure of an entirely new place, one I've always wanted to visit. I'm also just happy for us, the last few trips CK and have taken together have been completely overshadowed by the Mama-Drama-Rama the claimed 2012 & 2013. We deserve a nice holiday with no emergencies to deal with at home.W

My talk to MozFest didn't get accepted, which is disappointing, but it is nice to not be worrying about my slides, etc. before giving a talk. I will be attending though, if anyone else is there and wants to look me up.

I've been applying for teaching positions at studios around town. Really, it feels like auditioning, particularly when I give a demo of my teaching. I never thought I'd come to prefer the grueling, multi-person, multi-hour interviews of the tech industry, but the audition thing is so nerve wracking that I'd take the old way back any day! What I've discovered is that there are a lot of teachers in the area and a lot of owners that have a very specific image they're trying to project.

No, I'm still not working in tech. The earliest review of that, a date given grudgingly, would be January 2015. However, the overwhelming opinion is in favor of me not going back to the tech industry at all. I've been noodling over this quite a bit the past few weeks after getting some unexpected news about my last company/team. I spent a good week in blue sky mode, fantasizing about going back so I could prove I could hack it, or make a difference, or finish something.

Then I had a good talk about all these feelings coming up with my therapist and after some discussion I saw that a large part of my desire to return to my last company is out of some hope it will "fix" my feelings about leaving college. It will somehow repair the past if I prove something that doesn't really matter in the present.

That brings me back to healing from the idea that you can spend 17 years building yourself into something and be told that you have to stop. I never thought that would ever happen. Maybe wouldn't have had I not had such a supportive wife and felt that I still had to keep everything moving along, regardless of my own health and the health of my relationships.

I am humbled by the abundance of support I now have in my life. Instead of trying to find a job that just gets me by, that doesn't let me take the time to really heal the hurt and trauma I've survived, I am instead thinking of ideas of how to market my private yoga sessions with people. I'm also on Week 6 of The Artist's Way, and that has been bringing me some profound insight on how I view my health and identifying the ways in which I'm mean to myself; writing things down so I can better work with them. I've also been working through a lot of anger about my Mother, huge amounts; my therapist and PMHNP both say that it is about time for me to feel angry, about a whole lot of things.

All that means I'm also still napping, which I'm trying to be less judgmental about having identified my impatience for my need to rest as a way I'm mean to myself! Some things, like having a 45 minute conversation about what it was like at my job this time last year as part of the process to review my eligibility for unemployment benefits, will leave me feeling worn out for a day or two. I am keeping in mind and trying to celebrate that it is an improvement over a week's fugue-state after challenging tasks like that.

The good news about sticking with the hard work is that it is helping things out; I am getting unemployment benefits now that I've been released to some kind of work and am actively searching. I'm going to be applying for a couple of programs that help you establish your own business, which I'm qualifying for since my physician has advised me not to return to my old career. Teaching classes here and there is going to be hectic and costly in regards to time spent commuting and fuel. CK has been brainstorming ideas for me to set up a solo teaching practice, with a class or workshop at a studio here and there.

I've also just started an Etsy shop. It isn't "open" yet because I need to face down my block over photographing artwork to post. In addition to pieces listed, I'll also be taking custom work. This winter I experienced a huge shift it what I was creating and am really excited by the direction I'm heading it, but I've avoiding photography for some fear of failure.

I'm planning to take an introduction to matting and framing artwork class at the Multnomah Arts Center next month. I plan to use at least one of my own pieces of artwork since I have so many questions on how to mat them. I know it will get me over the fear of using the mat cutter I bought a few months ago!

Since I've been doing so much with making art, I've started a new blog, ZenZada. We're also going to include stories about our life (mostly raccoon adventures thus far), reviews of places we stay when we travel, vegan/GF travel tips, and other lifestyle things like that. I started it in part to have a place to write about my co-creative art project with a Portland artist.

Vegan Nosh continues to move along, I've been doing a series of experiments with vegan burger recipes and posting about them. Since we found out CK cannot have gluten, I've been doing more experimenting and cooking at home, which is really better for us in so many ways.


Halfway to 90

A week ago was my 45th birthday.

The evening before we had dessert and went to a linoleum block carving class together. It is a technique that is also used to carve stamps for things like letterboxes, so now we can make our own stamps to plant. We had a lot of fun taking the short class together, each finally choosing a piece of Banksy's artwork to make carved blocks from. Here's my carving of one of my favorites:

We celebrated my actual birthday quietly by driving out to Arcadia Beach for a picnic and a walk on the beach with Dora. It was an unusually sunny day at the Oregon Coast, which was a real treat. We took our camp stove and I made tacos for our picnic. On the way back home we stopped at a farm stand and picked up corn, summer squash, chilies, and a big head of savoy cabbage. We just took it easy in the evening, eating leftovers and playing boardgames. The next night I grilled a bunch of the veggies for dinner.

CK took off the whole last week of August, two days of it comp time, since she'd worked the first three weeks, nearly continuously. We spent the time working on some house projects, resting, reading, and playing boardgames, mostly Twilight Struggle. CK had picked it out years ago, but we never seemed to find the time to figure out how to play it. We finally did last week and had a good time playing it, although I have lost all the games we played!

Recently a friend from college recommended The Artist's Way to me after I'd had a very upsetting experience demonstrating teaching at a yoga studio. Christie had noticed my interest in it and surprised me with The Artist's Way Starter Kit and The Artist's Way Workbook. She also picked out a couple of other books I'd wanted, one for fun, The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel: Volume 1, and the other for inspiration, Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life. I'll be detailing my experience with The Artist's Way on our new blog, ZenZada.

I also got my proposal, Yoga; a Model for Open Knowledge, submitted to the Mozilla Festival being held in London this October (you have to search for the title, there isn't a direct link to it).

Last month I was feeling very down, so a quiet and restful birthday with CK was just what I needed. It was also nice for us to have some time to just rest and enjoy being home together. It felt like the first time we've had to actually be at rest in our home together after the trauma of the past 2+ years.

CK asked me a goal for this new year. After only a little consideration I said that I want to actually sell artwork! It seems a worthwhile goal and I certainly am set upon the path.