Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.

31Mar/090

Rest

I fell back asleep this morning and woke up at a quarter before 8. After very little thought I decided to take the day off, just calling into the meetings that were most important and moving one until tomorrow. I felt better than Monday but still very tired, very sore.

Atari starting having UT problems again so I was suddenly available to take him to the vet. When we got news a friend's aunt had died this morning and the family could use some food, I was able to make a pot of soup. I looked at some vacation rental ideas for my birthday and worked on the piece I've started that reflects on over a year of maintaining the transfer of merit ("chant") list for ZCO.

In the evening I walked up to the gym and met CK there. We did some yoga, some abdominals some weights (I'm starting to be able to isolate and use my back & middle deltoids and triceps again) and then sat in the steam room. I felt so much better when we got done.

It was really hard to give myself a day of rest, but I realized this morning I really needed to. I'm glad I did, I enjoyed being home in the quiet, writing, cooking and taking care of things around the flat. I feel better on several levels after allowing myself this day.

30Mar/090

The Monday After

Not too much today. I was tired, poorly rested, and in a funk all day. Come down from finishing teacher training on Saturday on top of everything else going on. Spent most of my day feeling unworthy of living up to the positive things people said about me on Saturday. Heavy with the responsibility of that praise.

Yes, today my inner critic showed up right on cue so I would spend most of the day distracted with negative feelings. Generally a lousy and unproductive day. Feeling unproductive, when I'm not intending to be, it really irritating to me. I feel very impatient with myself when I have trouble focusing when I feel I should be.

CK and I made tacos, even picked up and enjoyed an avocado with it. Such luxury! We watched Wilde, which was as well written and acted as I'd heard. It has been a nice quiet evening together. I really was happy for it since she'll be at the Inner Critic workshop this weekend.

Today should be the official end of the 30 Poems in 30 Days challenge in my Sangha. I find that I have 28 poems at the end, which is pretty good. Given the day I've had I'm trying not to focus on not having 30 and to allow for a simple haiku to end on.

Moving Forward

An ending becomes
Just another step forward.
My way along the path.

29Mar/090

CK and I slept in and it was lovely, confirming for me that getting to sleep in is a true pleasure. Lie last Sunday we decided to indulge in brunch at Sweetpea Baking Company. This decision led to the delightful serendipity of joining several friends who were there as well.

It was wonderful to watch CK present her work on the new design of the ZCO website at the annual meeting this afternoon. I was so proud of her and so happy to see her get to take in all the applause and positive feedback from our Sangha. I know she believes me when I tell her she's doing great, but I also know that it is very powerful for a room full of people to express appreciation for her is incredibly beneficial. I felt very proud of her, happy for her accomplishment, energy, and integrity.

I shared with HB what JW had written about me, the words of commendation she spoke about me at our teacher training graduation. He commented on the responsibly it suggested. Not that he questioned my ability to meet it, just acknowledging it. He also picked up on her noting that I need to recognize the sacredness within myself, that it is as great as the sacredness of the sutras I feel so immersed in.

Talking about it, starting to put words to it and then sit silent in zazen for a few minutes left me feeling closer to the tears I was surprised didn't arise last night. I think the energy to finish is still ebbing and I may hit a point where the emotion settles down.

Later on CK & I shared a marvelous, delicious evening with friends up here from San Francisco. It was wonderful spending the time with them, chatting about life. I enjoyed that we did not so much "catch up" as just progress from the present and talk about what came to mind. We did get to get more detail, which I really enjoyed, about their trip to India last year, but mostly we just shared in one anothers company. It felt like a wonderful way to end the weekend.

Commendation

I am still learning how
To have the compliment
And my view of self align.
The words of praise still
Feel heavy with responsibility
And I continue to question
My ability to carry them.
Yet to deflect them,
Minimize the words to
Fit into my comfortable view
Is to also make small the
Heartfelt words given to me.
It doesn't yet feel like
Those words are really mine,
Even though they were
Certainly given to me.
I am merely trying to
Allow myself to exist
In the same space as
These words of praise,
To try not to move
Away from honor,
To recognize my
Own accomplishment.

28Mar/090

Fourth Noble Truth

Tonight during the graduation ceremony for completing my 200+ hour yoga teacher training my teacher said that I was the Fourth Noble Truth. The way I teach yoga is one of the paths away from suffering.

I'm still just trying to be with this compliment. Trying to not listen to the voice of the inner critic and move away from these words. I'm pretty stunned, really and am just trying to stay with it being a compliment.

E said some pretty amazing things too and made a yoga octopus pendant for me. I so love the design she came up with and the meaning behind it. It has already crossed my mind that the design would be incredible on a t-shirt or as a tattoo. I've also wondered if CK could use it on the website we're going to come up with for my yoga teaching practice.

And then CK said wonderful things about me after being put on the spot because I forgot to warn her that JW would ask her to speak. I felt so happy to have her there with me. I mostly just focused on the flower in front of me and tried not to cry. She also brought these lovely, orange flowers for me and made awesome vegan mac & cheese.

I am actually rather amazed I wasn't crying all evening!

...thinking about all this stuff to keep from thinking about something else... keep from thinking about how I embody the Fourth Noble Truth when I teach... It feels big, too big to get my mind around, so I'm going to stop trying and rest.

Fourth Noble Truth

There is a way.

That is the simple
Beauty of the
Fourth Noble Truth.

All one needs is
Just the knowledge
That a path exists.

27Mar/091

Another Check on the List

Tonight I finished my 46th asana class in the past 7 months. That doesn't count the 2 classes per week I taught during the majority of those months. My body aches, I'm tired, and I'm not sure my hoping that after 4 consecutive days my body would get used to the effort actually is true. Tonight my body feels as though it is clamouring for rest. I am so looking forward to having no class to teach or attend on Sunday and I really think I'd like to go swimming on Monday.

AM has keys to his studio and can even start moving some things over. He's trying to sell the camper he bought last year as well as some of the furniture we agreed was his to either take or put onto Craigslist. I'm relieved since it means in a few weeks I can feel like I'm not in this constant back and forth. Either missing my cats or CK and not feeling entirely settled either place. I am looking forward to sharing one space for both of us that doesn't feel cluttered.

Tomorrow night is our graduation party. I'm toying with wearing an outfit from India I bought a year and a half ago, have never worn. It is snug, especially on my arms and bright, I feel a bit conspicious in it. The feeling of tightness on my arms which makes me think about all the ugly, loose skin there after losing weight. I'm trying to remember how it brought a smile to CK's face when I tried it on to show her. I don't know, maybe I'll just wear my yoga clothes.

Sometimes I'm OK with my body and some days not so much. Tonight is really a "not so much" night. Perhaps it is feeling so tired and fatigued, that's contributing to feeling so-so about my body. I should be appreciating it, I was up in shoulder stand, in splits again tonight and it felt really good. This body I get so frustrated with did that pose.

I submitted a proposal to teach "yoga for geeks" workshop at Open Source Bridge. For some reason I feel very uncertain about the whole thing. CK reminded me that everyone I've mentioned it to in the local Open Source community has been very supportive and encouraging of the idea. She also pointed out how she doesn't have the same wrist and shoulder problems she did when I met her, all because she's doing yoga now. Besides being beneficial, healthy I think yoga practice really fits in the Open Source community. It is something people are encouraged to do themselves, to work directly with the shared knowledge of it, and even adapt it to fit each individual's needs.

As I drove to the flat from Prananda I was delighted to see lingering streaks of pink low, peeking through the clouds. The faintest hint of blue towards the top of the sky. It is so nice to not be in the dark, to feel like spring and warmth are not far.

Spring Evening

I know gratitude
For evenings streaked with last rays;
Sunlight lingering.

25Mar/090

Rushing, but Still Time for Flowers

Lots of back and forth today. Woke up late, with a start, on the phone all the way into the office. Rushed through meetings, rushed to catch the bus to the flat, more meetings, off to see my therapist, emails, then off to yoga.

Yikes, no wonder I feel tired! More warrior I in class tonight too. I said to CK a moment ago that I think if Joy does it again tomorrow night I may cry. I am actually interested to see how my body and pain are doing after 5 days with a yoga class in them. It would encourage me to have a more vigorous home practice, I have a tendency to do a lot of restorative things because I'm so tired.

Made a kind of casserole tonight with leeks, celery, garlic, carrots, fingerling potatoes, dill, tarragon & lentils. Turned out nicely, simple but tasty. We've been wanting split pea sop again but haven't had time to make it. Really just need to order a small pressure cooker for us to use more often.

Had a great time at Code-n-Splode last night, first time I've made it to one. I really liked the input I heard from other women working in technology. It gave me a lot of ideas to think about in working with my team. In all the years I've been working in technology I've never really formed a connection with other women in tech. Following the interview thing it was a really good way to spend an evening and I only felt hugely nervous a few times.

I also felt more encouraged to work on my proposal for OS Bridge, bringing a short yoga class that really focuses on maintaining the health of the hands, wrists, neck, shoulders and back. Truly hip work should show up, and I'm going to show a couple of simple standing stretches. Just things people could do at their desk.

Nice moment walking along 9th Avenue this afternoon. It wasn't raining or too windy, actually was warming a little. I was passing under cherry trees bursting forth into flowers and enjoying the delicate scent of them.


Spring Walk

Sweetness of flower
Scent hanging from branches as
I made my way home.

24Mar/090

Further Words on Growth

Evolution

Realizing,
Gathering my mind,
My heart,
Around the
Idea that changing
Is evolving.
Not giving up
Or losing respect.
Rather it is growing,
Moving forward,
Adapting towards
Strength
Instead of favoring
Weakness.

24Mar/091

Inner Critic vs. Ada Lovelace

CK signed a pledge back in January to post a blog entry about a woman in technology she admired today, March 24, in honor of Ada Lovelace. The goal of the Ada Lovelace Day project is to get 1000 blog entries talking about women in technology. There's been a thing about it on her blog for weeks.

She surprised me by saying she wanted to interview me. Yes, I'm a woman who's been working in technology for over 12 years. I just never have thought of myself as worth interviewing over it. In fact thinking about it gets my inner critic all riled up noting how I don't do anything important, that I'm just a hack with a lot of what I do, there's so many other women who are better at technology than I am...

Yes, that list could keep growing, easily.

Part of it falls right in line with my having a very difficult time recognizing my accomplishments. I am so focused on moving forward, keeping momentum up that the very idea of stopping to appreciate, reflect seems very uncomfortable. I come from a very non-technical family and being the only child with a real passion for technology, learning and studying, my interest in these areas didn't really warrant a lot of supportive input. In fact, I never had a computer until I was in my 20s and on my own. The value of buying one for home was not something that I could convince my family of in the mid 1980s.

Here I was this morning, reading CK's blog post about me, and feeling awkward as all heck. Just noticing the awkwardness, where it comes from. Aside from all I've already said it occurred to me that it feels strange because I admire her so much, as a woman in technology and as a human.

In part I am just in awe of anyone who is successful in running their own business, doing freelance work. I've been in the situation of living with someone trying to do that and it was pretty hard. I've always felt a lot of uncertainty at my ability to do that and have let that drive me to try and find as stable as a job as possible. She works really hard for her clients and is concerned that her work be the best that it possibly can be. She has inspired me to think about leaving the corporate world and work for myself!

There is a large part of my admiration for her that comes from my respect for her integrity and intelligence. Those don't have anything directly to do with technology, but I think that they are so important. Combined with her openness, her want of learning, sharing knowledge and fostering collaboration is so important in any community. In the technology community I see her using these skills to find ways to support and encourage women more. CK also uses her time and technology skills to help non-profit organizations improve their online presence and make resources more accessible.

A lot of the time I think CK is a way more accomplished woman in technology than I am. She speaks with great skill about the specific tools she works. Her capacity and tenacity when it comes to learning is just amazing, she just sticks with topics, turning them from side to side until the solution becomes more clear to her.

I've never given a lot of thought to being a "woman in technology", it was just what I was drawn to and I spent a lot of time projecting a "tough" image to protect myself, playing "alpha geek" with all the guys who would be at events. I pretended not to notice and/or just played along with the "boys club" type attitude I'd run into on a regular basis in the NOC, in server rooms, in the cafeteria, and at conferences.

Over the past few years I've become more aware of the need to foster an environment where people do not feel the need to compete, especially for women. Yes, some competition is fun and can spark creativity, but it shouldn't be regarded as the only means to feel included in a group. Most importantly, everyone can benefit from being encouraged to go where the passion and curiosity for learning takes them, whether it is data visualization, neuroscience, baking, teaching, or writing.

23Mar/090

Remembering Dad

Kind of a heavy post today. These thoughts, the poem below, have been banging around in my skull for several days now. Nearly feels like the noise them make gets in the way of trying to write about things for my Zen community, a piece on my weight loss for Chozen to post to her blog site, or the poem that's lurking around in there (an homage of sorts to Neruda's Ode to Tomatoes).

The other day I was looking for a safety pin and came across my Dad's wedding ring. I've had it since the day he died. I very clearly hold in my mind taking the ring off of his hand and putting it onto my hand. For a while I wore it, when I was 130 or more pounds heavier. I was a bit sad when I'd lost enough weight that I could no longer wear it out of fear of it falling off.

That moment where I took off Dad's ring has been fresh in my mind now. The further away I get from his death, the more I am able to pull apart the frozen way I felt at the time. He's become a big part of the reason I changed my life, lost the weight and began steering my life always towards health. It hurt so much that he would choose alcohol and cigarettes over me. In some ways I now see more clearly how the nearly 25 years he was my step-father were never free of his addictions and that those addictions were closer to his heart than the love he tried to show me. It hurts to think about, but I try not to let that anger & pain completely obscure the ways he really tried to be a good father.

This December it will be nine years since his death. I still have some of his ashes in a glass jar in my house and his ring in a box in my room. I remain profoundly sad to have lost him and sometimes feel like I am one of the few people who actually remembers the ways he tried to be loving. He wasn't very good at it but he was the only one who tried to fill that "father" role in my life when I was a child.

I was reminded of all this during a final scene in the last Battlestar Galatica episode. It combined a couple of things I hate about crying (I have a very long list of things I hate about crying) -- crying in public (was watching with a crowd at the McMenamin's Bagdad) and crying because some television show or movie is written in such a way to tug at my pentiful heart-strings. I feel like a weepy sap and embaressed there are people there who might see it. No, it doesn't matter if other people are crying too.

It was a scene where a ring was exchanged between the living and the dead. I watched and felt the weight of my Dad's hand in mine. How I had to move his fingers to remove his ring. He felt lifeless, truly. His body was an empty shell and I knew my Dad was gone. There was only his ring left, heavy on my hand.

Dad, December 11, 2000

I stood there; still,
Silent, holding tears.
Mom gestured at me
To take his ring.

His hand was
Still warm
As I slid off
The ring and put
It on my finger.

The heavy gold
Didn’t really know
The change from
One cooling hand
To one cold with
Grief and anger.

He didn’t look
Asleep, at rest.
He looked dead.
My heart was filled
With the enormity of
This final withdrawal
And I didn’t know
What to say
Or do, aside
From putting
The ring on.

Nine years later the
Ring no longer fits,
My fingers are
All too small.
It sits in a box
In my room.
My heart still
Pulls tight
In my chest.

21Mar/090

Just a Few

I'm really not feeling much like writing after another full, long Saturday at Prananda. I'm physically and mentally tired. It was a really good day, I even was working on my handstand (a pose I hate). The second to last free class was less crazy than the three previous weeks, for which I was really grateful. Even worked on the bio I'll use on my site.

Had a bit of a rough moment, watching the last episode of BSG no less. Reminded of my Dad's death, but it still feels a bit too sore to write about. That and I'm just too tired out to devote a lot of energy to it, and it deserves that energy. In part because I am just worn out by the combination of staying out late for BSG on top of the grief & anger that came up.

So I'm for bed early on a Saturday. I'm not teaching tomorrow and am looking forward to sleeping in, hanging out, maybe doing our grocery shopping. A Kundalini Yoga class at 2:30 then seeing Watchmen with CK and a friend at Cinetopia in the evening.

That brings me to today's poem. I was a little foggy and noticing how I felt resentful, petulant about coming up with a poem. I'm trying to be kinder since the poem I put together the other night when I felt this way someone really liked, commented that it was a kind of "word painting". I gave the irritation and blank screen a few breaths, then came up with something I actually feel alright with.

Aging

What is age?
This thing that
Happens to us
All, eventually,
If we're lucky.
The thing is,
I am just not
Feeling it aside
From a collection
Of physical aches
And emotional pain.
I keep moving
Forward into "age"
Yet feeling further
Younger and less
Certain inside.