Woke up feeling more rested and less sore, it was a nice break. I worked from home until about 11:30 then headed up to Washington Park for a team picnic. It was a nice time even though lunch was just salad stuff since in picking up veggie burgers they selected ones with eggs and dairy in them. I brought some of the apples from the Farmers Market and the rest of the grapes from KW, which many people commented on enjoying.
I slept pretty well, hard, and woke up ahead of the alarm. Although I felt stiff, I could quickly tell that my hips felt a lot better from BM working on them. We needed to get going pretty quickly so AM would be able to take TE to an appointment. I was doing alright until I was in the shower and the first muscle spasm hit in my lower back. I tried to breath and stretch through them, but they were not letting up at all.
After seeing me standing there with a hand on my back AM commented that I should work from home again today. I didn't really argue, I knew I had many meetings throughout the day and it felt hard to stand much less sit. I went back upstairs and put on some warm fleece then came back down to make some tea & toasted English muffin. I didn't feel as bad as Monday, wasn't feeling nauseated, but still felt fatigued on top of the pain. A good look in the mirror revealed that I still had rather dark circles under my eyes.
As I had my breakfast I rang into the first of 4 conference calls. The day wore on, I tried to get up and move a bit more frequently so I wouldn't stiffen up too much. I had some of the lovely leftover soup for lunch. I've been oddly hungry today, on top of meals I have snacked on apples and corn tortillas (in the toaster oven, with jam). I've tried to make the meals rather small, so maybe it isn't so unusual I was still hungry.
I'm trying to CB's voice in my head, "Now don't get obsessive!" when it comes to eating and my weight. It was such long, hard work that I begrudge any pound put back on. I went from having to make sure I stopped eating before I stuffed myself to having to judge if I've eaten enough to not end up feeling ill. I have to keep reminding myself of the small sizes of the clothes I have and that they still fit fine.
I was thinking about talking to BM yesterday, how I told her that my therapist tells me I'm making rapid progress but I felt like I was still just spinning. The seemingly constant grinding of all the things coming up, new thoughts, old fears, and shame inappropriately put upon me.
Something came back to me from reading Thoughts Without a Thinker by Mark Epstein a couple of years ago. How our true nature, brilliant as a diamond, is obscured by things like traumatic events. Our psyche scraped and scratched until the surface is dulled.
Perhaps this work now, although it feels like it is chafing my heart and soul, is not further scratching but it the polishing necessary to restore the clarity and brilliance that we all begin with. Just the way stones are put into a tumbler to slowly polish away the rough surface so the beauty beneath shines.
No post yesterday. I didn't really feel like interrupting a quiet evening to write, felt the guilt around it, and decided that really it is OK if I miss a day once in a while. Trying to let go of what my therapist tells me is a "Puritan work ethic" run amok. I just feel like I should have more projects DONE if I have such an out of balance sense of work! I just reminded myself that this is about practice, the practice of writing and not a practice of perfection (again).
My yoga class yesterday was a lot of fun. Hip opening, sun salutations, and supta padangusthasana (1-3). There was great energy from everyone; the container of the class felt like it vibrated with positive, shining prana.
After wards CK and I ate leftover rice & mock-chicken casserole and finished off the purple cauliflower & Romanesco broccoli from the market. After hanging out chatting for a while we decided that we wanted to see a movie and settled upon Hamlet 2, feeling in the mood for something light.
We quickly got ourselves downtown to the Regal on Broadway, purchased tickets, decided to get popcorn, and only missed mere moments of the previews. They've changed the seats and we liked the tables that now appear between pairs of seats. We felt a little worried when a pack of young teens sat down directly in front of us, but they settled down pretty quickly.
The movie was very funny. I was cringing at Steve Coogan's portrayal of a lousy drama teacher in Tuscon, Arizona. Talking about it today with my massage therapist, BM, who has also seen it. She enjoyed it a lot too, the silliness of it and we both agreed it is very well done.
CK and I made soup once we got back to her flat. We had been talking about making an African peanut stew she has a recipe for, however, we didn't really much feel like leaving the flat so I decided we'd just make soup out of what we found in the kitchen. It was fun to do and we enjoyed getting it put together.
We shared some wine and one of the Pink Pearl apples I'd picked up from the Farmers Market. While the soup cooked I practiced doing asana adjustments with CK playing my student with improper posture. We watched another episode of Six Feet Under, which I've come to enjoy a lot.
After such a relaxing Sunday I woke up in a panic at 7:20 this morning. I'd tried going to bed while anxious feelings, old shame forced on me, swirled around incessantly. I tossed and turned, waking up with starts, and then unable to get comfortable. All night I did this until I opened my eyes, saw the time and sat up with a start. I felt disoriented and ill.
I got into my email for work, sat in on the daily status call, and had the toast & almond butter CK made me for breakfast. I ultimately decided I was not up to the bicycle back to my house and gave AM a call for a ride now that we have the right stuff to transport the bike on the Outback. He gave me a worried look when I got in the car, a second confirmation besides the mirror that I didn't look well.
The day was full of meetings, planning, and trying to work with people on determining the best process to use. I went through it in something of a haze, my mind feeling a bit blurry. CK got some frustrating news in the afternoon and I was glad to be working from home so I was available to message with. AM phoned me at about 2:30, as I was finally eating some lunch, to ask if I needed a ride over to my massage therapist's. I suddenly realized I had an appointment coming up in 30 minutes!
I finished just the toasted, whole wheat, English muffin topped with avocado. I didn't want to feel full while having body work done so I didn't have any of the leftover soup more than two bites. The little bit of bread, rich with the avocado was enough for the time being. I wrapped up a couple of things and rode on over to BM's house.
She and I chatted about how I was doing physically and energy-wise. After talking about the pain in the hips and back I told BM that I felt like I was just spinning my wheels in this old pain even though my therapist says I'm making progress. While she worked on me several times I felt energy moving through my limbs, pooling in my fingers until I felt myself shaking them as if to encourage the excess to leave.
After I got home AM and I put together tacos for dinner, finishing off the avocados in the house which were perfectly ripe. It was tasty and quick since he'd made nachos Sunday night; there was leftover taco filling and re-fried beans in the refrigerator.
After dinner AM headed over to BG's house to go through all the donations sitting there for the Burmese families our Sangha has been helping. I was going to go with him, but he asked if I really wanted to since I still apparently looked poorly. I ended up sitting downstairs writing and listening to music while he was gone.
It was nice to have that quiet. Mostly I wrote about food since DG had commented to me that the reviews of what I make sound tasty, but he wanted directions. It is very good practice for me to do this, really start breaking down what I cook. Since I've thought of writing a cookbook at some time this is exactly what I need to do.
Writing about food, really thinking it though, has been very grounding to me. After feeling such anxiety, uneasiness, and shame I should never been made to feel, the connection back to making healthful food feels healing. I remembered CB telling me about how she would bake when things were tough or she felt stuck, that merely turning on the oven to pre-heat would help.
JW made a comment during the hip opening workshop that there was a difference between "letting go" and "getting rid" of something. I have been thinking about this a lot, trying to check in with myself and the ways in which I would just like to get rid of all this nasty stuff. Moving from hiding it, denying it, pretending it wasn't there, to trying to just excise it from my life. I still need to move towards letting it go, embracing those terrible things and finally being able to rest.
Slept in until 8:30 this morning, which is pretty late for me. It was nice to sleep until I woke up, including waking up for a moment at a few minutes before 7AM and getting to go back to sleep. AM and I stumbled around, took showers, I got together all the stuff I'd be taking with me later, and then we made our way to the Hollywood Farmers Market so I could get more apples.
A couple of weeks ago I was walking out of the Farmers Market, looking for where AM was waiting in the car. I wasn't easily spotting him in all the busyness. He hadn't waved at me or done anything to catch my attention. When I finally did make it to the car he remarked that he hadn't recognized me for several moments.
This is a strange, new milepost. AM has always recognized me even when friends, family members have done double takes upon seeing me after many months or years. I guess it is understandable since I sometimes do not recognize myself in the mirror and at times seeing my reflection go by feels as though I'm seeing the past. I more closely resemble myself at 16.
Most people at 39 would be thrilled to find that they looked so much younger would be reassuring, pleasing. It isn't that I'm not thrilled, it is rather gratifying to still be asked for identification when I purchase a bottle of wine. It is just part of the strangeness of it all, of letting go of the elaborate persona I must have started to craft from the moment I left Portland for college in Wisconsin. A bit of play-acting that become everything I was.
Online I've been been touching base with people I've not seen in years. None of them have mentioned the change so far. Maybe they think the photo isn't current or it just isn't as dramatic through an online photograph, but no one has said much. I can feel myself bracing for it, the questions.
CB and HB have both said I need to be proud of this and at times I almost think I can start to figure out how to do that. Then I run into the strangeness of not being recognized by someone who's spent a great deal of time with me these past 9 years or anticipate old friends wanting to know what happened. At those times I feel like I miss a step in embracing pride over the accomplishment.
Maybe it is the feeling of attention being called to it, to me, that leaves me a little uncomfortable. I can recall wanting to be the center of attention as a child, to be popular like my cousins. I would thrust myself into the center, yet was never quite comfortable there, the effort was always forced. By the time I was in college I was just starting to move from that kind of behavior, building the habit of staying to the sidelines that turned into kind of withdrawal.
In losing weight I never set out to be in the spotlight, to have attention drawn to me. I merely wanted to live a more healthful life. I wanted to be sure I would be here for those who love me, that I wouldn't suddenly leave due to heart problems or diabetes (two things that affect the women in my family quite a bit). Learning how to be in the center and have people truly interested in my being there feels awkward. Different from the forced quality of my youth, just awkwardness as I keep doing what I've been doing for the past few years; the behavior that has put me in the spotlight without seeking it.
The day was full and busy. I enjoyed my ride in. I found myself going down Flint behind a bicycle class from MLC. It was fun to see all the kids learning how to safely navigate through the downtown traffic to get to school. I was reminded of CK trailing me around on many rides while I got comfortable. It left me smiling, especially after I made all the lights on Broadway and flew up onto the bridge. I may have actually enjoyed going over the bridge!
Work included lots of running down issues for a good part of the morning. I worked on my database a little. AM came downtown and had lunch with me, dropping off my zafu & wagessa in case we didn't meet up at the Dharma Center later. Afterwards I worked with the newest teammate and coached her on database connectivity and Business Objects Enterprise. In between I tried to figure out the metadata when I suddenly realized it was time to go!
I was reading through the Heart of Great Perfect Wisdom Sutra on MAX after work, hearing the sound of it in my head. Listening to the way the words move together, percussive, like the mokugyo only deeper, more resonant. I kept coming back to reflect on the words, Form itself is emptiness, emptiness itself form.
A few weeks ago I'd exchanged a message with someone about his comment of questioning anyone that said they knew what the truth was. I asked what if you knew that the truth is change. It is the true constant of the universe.
When I was looking at the words in the sutra, hearing them in my head and feeling them I came back to this constancy of change. Change underlies the whole of the sutra; it is because of the constancy of change that form is empty. Everything is in constant change, each moment, at some level. With this being the case that which we think of as form is empty.
So that's where my mind has landed with my practice tonight. Change and emptiness.
Actually, there's a whole lot more in there and my day was more full than that, but it is late, I'm tired and really feel the need for rest!
I had in mind to write about something else today, but I find myself as fatigued at the end of the day as I was when it started. I was up a little past 5AM, I believe Zonker was involved, I went down to the bathroom and came back to bed to finish a little more sleep. My whole right side ached, shoulder to foot.
I turned off my alarm and decided to work from home. The Outback was due back from the mechanic and it would be helpful to have me around when it was finished. I felt hugely fatigued even having gone to bed a little earlier on Tuesday. I also needed some quiet to work on the database I'm building. I drifted in and out of fitful sleep, uncomfortable, it was hard to drag myself back to fully awake a little while later.
Meetings all went far more quickly than usual and I was able to start working on the databases. It has been a long time since I've worked on databases and usually always worked with someone else. I do some research, make progress, stop, do more research, inch forward. That's how it goes. It is tiring and by 4:45PM my eyes and head ached from it.
I got my things together and rode over to Prananda. With the fires in the area the air quality is a bit poor and it has felt more difficult to breath. Sometimes the ride over is very energizing, tonight it was just the way I go to asana practice. I felt fatigued during the practice and by the end my body seemed very heavy.
Made my way slowly up the long climb on Denver. I was thinking how hard these climbs are, but when I finally turned on Ainsworth and could enjoy the flat for a while I was enjoying myself again. Simplistic analogy for the constant changes of life. When it is a climb, when we're having to really work and the breath strains we're often not so enamored of the moment. When there's a nice coast downhill or a flat surface to just enjoy the movement on, then it is easy to enjoy the moment, even wish for it to last longer.
I finally got to CK's flat and was out of breath to the point of coughing, which is how my asthma shows up. I sat on the sofa for several minutes just drinking water and getting my breath back. After a little bit I got up to neti and that helped with feeling like it was hard to breathe, somewhat. The ride here from Prananda is pretty taxing, especially since I'd already felt fatigued starting out. I'm thrilled to be able to do it, but it is pushing a little.
CK made us squash (zucchini and sunburst) sauteed with soy tempeh served along side a grain mix from Trader Joe's. I'd pointed her to this mix of Israeli cous cous, red quinoa, orzo, and split peas and was glad she enjoyed it as much as I do. It was a simple, hearty and very delicious meal. For dessert we had a nectarine and pluot sliced up with some walnuts. The rich, earthy note of the occasional walnut pairing so nicely against the tart-sweet flesh of the fruits. The whole meal is a good reminder of just how simple food can be yet be so completely satisfying. It doesn't need additives or fancy preparation/presentation.
Sometimes I believe this is one of the core things that has gone wrong with food culture in my country. The appreciation of simple food is either lost or considered elitist. Food must be fast, plentiful, and make you feel good about yourself (hence the surge in popularity in "functional foods" containing omega-3 fatty acids, extra fiber, green tea, etc.). If it isn't cheap, it must be fancy to the point of being excessive. And it should taste the same across the entire country.
It shouldn't be this way at all. The fruit we had tonight was succulent and bursting with intense, delightful flavors because it is the height of the season for it. It is whole, complete and perfect. It doesn't need any packaging or additives because nothing truly can enhance it. If I need more omega 3, or 6, fatty acids I'll have more flax or hemp oil. If I happen to need more fiber I have brown rice and more of those delicious fruits and fresh vegetables because that's what is naturally chock full of them.
There are times I worry about our society because the very building blocks of it, the food we consume, isn't truly recognizable as food anymore. Enormous companies spend millions of dollars telling people to eat this way, that it is convenient, economical, and completely normal. I'm left wondering how can we nurture our world when we have let ourselves become unable to nurture ourselves?
Before going to bed last night I looked carefully at all I'd written about myself, read the truth in it all, and I took another deep breath and wrote to the three members of my sangha who have found me, so far, on Facebook. I've known this was coming, I anticipated it weeks ago and that drove me to talk to HB and RP.
What I've come to see this as is my being authentic all of the time. In the past I kept separate circles. For a little while I tried overlapping them, work and social, but mostly that happened because the place I happened to be working kept hiring out of the same group of poly/queer geeks who all happened to be friends and/or involved with one another. Aside from that anomaly I grew to be more and more compartmentalized in how I interacted with people.
CK summed it up really well over lunch at Habibi today when I mentioned it to her. She noted that it sounded really hard to do. I had to immediately agree. It is difficult trying to compartmentalize myself and I am reminded of the ways in which I chose to put myself into compartments because I believed that's what I needed to do to have someone like me, not leave me.
It takes to much energy to remember all of that and it is not very compassionate to myself nor entirely honest, or at least authentic. When I read about the essential self in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras I was deeply drawn in. That when we still all the thoughts rampaging around in our minds we get to rest in our true nature, who we really are.
I find myself now wanting to always dwell in that place of authenticity. Honoring and loving who I am honestly and transparently regardless of the community I am part of at a given moment. The same person who works most days as a systems analyst is the same person that teaches yoga two days a week, sits with her Dharma community at least one day a week, and studies yoga three additional days a week at this time. I am the same person to my most intimate partners as I am to my friends, co-workers, students, fellow yogis/yoginis, and sangha.
This is the honest way to approach my life now, in keeping with my observation of the Buddhist precepts as well as the yamas and niyamas of Yoga. It is at once the easiest way and a most difficult path. Before I could hide parts of me that one group might find questionable, or I thought they would find questionable. Always shifting to make sure I fit it well, regardless if I really felt the fit inside. Now I'm fully present with the beauty and discomfort of not fitting in.
In truth I've never really fit it. I've always been forced to be something I'm not either by my family, lovers or myself. Playing up some bits, like the over-the-top sexy girly girl, while playing down other essential parts, the nerd who loves more than anything to learn about the world I'm in.
Now that I've just started being who I am all of the time I'm finding myself in circles where it is not only acceptable, but celebrated that I'm different. I've spent the vast majority of my life only revealing bits and pieces of myself at a time. To be surrounded by people & groups where I am safe to reveal my whole self and am still be supported is unsettling at times merely because it is new.
I find it a little sad that truly unconditional love and acceptance is an uneasy feeling for me. At least I'm feeling unsettled over something that is healthy for me. I am grateful for that and the hope that I will spend the rest of my life learning to be comfortable knowing support and love.
Today seemed to bring a lot of news of deaths. In between trying to get phpMyAdmin running I updated the merit list for Thursday's service with the names that kept arriving in my email today.
I was happy that today brought the lovely news the George Takei finally was able to marry his partner of many years. It has been so beautiful to read news of so many people able to wed legally, even though at times there is great sadness mixed with the joy. It continues to astound me that people choose to be so narrow in their religion as to deny marriage to people, how this isn't so simple.
And then there's me. Married to a man, just what many of those same religious people would pray to come into my life. That I be "straightened" out by the love a good man. Only that isn't what happened at all. A good, even if flawed man, could see immediately I wasn't straight, wasn't even truly bisexual. He said to me tonight that one of the first times he really watched me look at a woman he knew I was a lesbian.
But here I am, I love my best friend but we can no longer ignore the (lesbian) elephant in the room. It is not the only reason he and I have drifted apart these past 4+ years, but my experience with it has changed and made it obvious the ways in which I've still be playing along. Maybe this time I've been doing it, working around my unhappiness, not because I'm tired of being yelled at. Still, doing it because I don't want to hurt someone isn't right either.
I have little hope that the people who currently would deny the right to marry to gay and lesbian couples would stretch even further to not judge me and my relationships. A lesbian married to a man in love with a woman. In a relationship with them both. Our middle way, but to the view of most people it was a path far out on the fringes. Regardless of that, I have to judge the way for me.
More people from my sangha finding me on Facebook. I am again reminded that I am not ashamed of my choices nor what I've written about, however, I am aware of the need to approach this with care. I never really entertained the idea that it would just be college friends, current friends (many in San Francisco) who I enjoy keeping up with. I am so glad to have spoken to my teacher some weeks ago now as well as speaking to the head of our community here in Portland. I am considering what steps I should take. Perhaps an email acknowledging that questions may arise and that I welcome them? Perhaps meeting with the Harmony Committee as was suggested by RP, progressing from there.
The biggest change for the house today was Bodhi finding a new home with a friend of AM's, J. This is a big relief and yet sad too. Bodhi was just too big for either AM or I with our physical limitations, he easily knocked AM off his feet several times. Because of it AM has felt himself growing into his depression. To top it off, Bodhi has just been unhappy. He loves us, but he loves being around other dogs more and has seemed to suffer being away from the kennel environment because of it.
J really loves big, playful, boisterous dogs. He stood there playing with a rope with Bodhi for several minutes, both of them looked utterly thrilled. He has a dog about the same size, but about 16 years old. J has apparently been quite at a loss at his dog's aging, no longer being able to play and get around as well. He's wanted to get another dog for some time now. It really seems to be a good fit.
It inevitably leaves me thinking of Juno, my last dog, an Alaskan/Siberian husky mix that was all energy. I have never been able to shake the feeling like I did the wrong thing by her and in the end she disappeared into the night, never to be seen again. I wasn't even there and, during a moment of pre-teen anger, DW once told me it was all my fault since Juno ran away clearly trying to find me. No matter how often I tell myself it wasn't my fault it is hard to really let this go.
Yesterday was a three hour hip opening, first chakra (Muladhara) workshop at Prananda. Last year during the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy training workshop I ran into how intense getting into this chakra can be. I'd ended up in tears being assisted in holding a pose I feel is a true ally (supta padanguthasana). I was a little nervous about this but at least prepared.
In a couple of poses, holding them far longer than usual, I felt some tingling of the panic that shows up with IW works on the trigger points on my left sit bone. I was able to breath through these things. A few times it became so intense I would just lay down or do child's pose.
It was during savasana, resting with a flax seed bag over my eyes, that I felt the deep grief well up inside of me, mixed with some of the anxiety and fear. I felt very anxious and kept trying to just breath through it. When it got to be too much I turned my head to the side and let the bag fall off of my eyes. I stretched out my hand to touch CK's elbow as she lay in savasana next to me. She felt me and reached her hand out to hold mind.
I dislike crying to begin with, it awakens all kinds of fear in me that I'll be punished for it in some way. That's how I feel at home crying. In public it feels so much worse. After we sat up and offered three chants of Om I lay back down on my side, feeling the wetness on my face. I curled up in a tight ball, just feeling the grief and shame. CK stayed with me, helping me find my way back through.
JW came over for a moment, just to check in and be sure I was OK. After the workshop participants, including CK, left the teacher training students settled down to watch more of the DVD. I lay on my side, shawl over me, and just was present for the words of the DVD. Tried not to go back into the fear or grief.
After some DVD watching we went back to adho mukha svanasana. I think I may have done the pose 24 times in a couple of hours. Reviewed the respiratory system and assists for downward dog. CK came and picked me up. I had my bike but was so utterly exhausted I knew I couldn't make it to her flat.
We stopped at Dalo's on the way home, enjoying the usual vegetarian platter. Spent a lot of time talking that night and got to sleep a bit late. Both of us taking more ibuprofen before managing to get comfortable enough to sleep.
CK was yoga'd out after Saturday's workshop and stayed home while I taught my Sunday class. It was a good class, broke down downward dog further as well as some shoulder things. Another new student today, G, a man who seems to be in his late 40s/early 50s. Unsurprisingly his shoulders are very, very tight as well as his upper back. He left saying he'd be back next week.
CK had been busy cleaning and making yummy tempeh hash. We had that for lunch topped with tomatoes from the garden, it was just such lovely comfort food after teaching and the work on Saturday. We hung out for a while, resting and talking, then walked up to the library then on to Mio Gelato where we discovered vegan sorbetto. We each had a scoop of nectarine sorbetto which tasted just like late summer!
After getting back to the house, CK brought me and the bike home, AM and I talked for a bit before making wonderful pizza. Whole wheat crust, tomatoes from the garden, grilled eggplant & "cue ball" squash from the garden, and some Tofurky Italian sausage. We've hung out in the basement watching stuff on Discovery while I've done laundry and wrote.