Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


is this thing on?

Uh, yeah, busy.

I've been reminded of my blog silence so here is something paltry to answer that silence.

There are boxes everywhere making what is left of the living room feel particularly cozy.

There is no longer an enormous fridge in the dining room. It has been moved to the garage, soon to appear on a CraigsList near you. I emptied piles of scary "once food" into the compost pile yesterday. This would appear to by "my" job since the site of decaying food makes CK flee the vicinity.

This also means you can once again appreciate the lovely arch between the living and dining rooms. I am very happy about this and ate my dinner on the floor last night in the space the old fridge once took up. Just because I could.

AM still has some loose ends to tie up. A pattern he and I have known in our relationship for a quite a long time. At least by stepping in to make sure I'm address my own anxiety around this alleviates some of those fears and regrets. Just making the effort to keep things moving and rolling up my sleeves (sometimes literally) to get the work done feels something like progress even amidst the chaos. It is an interesting challenge to my practice which makes me think about things much more carefully than I would have before in my life.

I went to sesshin last week. It was very, very hard. At times it was the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life. It was also beautiful, worthy and rewarding. I actually reached the "glad I went" stage pretty quickly from the "I'm glad I'm done" stage. I've already moved onto looking forward to August's sesshin, 'Grasses, Trees, and the Entire Earth'. There is a lot to process and write about on this, but the moving madness must take priority.


Big Changes

Now that teacher training has wrapped up the Next Big Change has time to manifest.

AM had mentioned that he was pretty much transitioning to his flat. All of the anxiety and grief I've felt once the distraction of teacher training was done began to feel intolerable. The fear about sesshin next week began to feel overwhelming. On top of all that I was now worried about Zonker and Phoebe being alone that much. I had gone to check on them on Saturday night after AM moved his furniture out and felt awful leaving them to go back over to CK's flat.

Teaching yoga on Sunday barely lifted me out of it. Quite often teaching is so grounding it helps me move through fear. We ate some lunch, I talked with my Mom, and CK and I decided suddenly to just start her move. My move back into my house again.

We got her essentials, including Atari, moved over and started working on things. The futon sofa from the meditation room is now out in the living room. A chair I had is up from the basement (courtesy of Sangha members who helped AM move) and it looks nice from what we can tell amidst the bags being unpacked.

There's a lot to be done. Much more than I had anticipated, but we'll work through it together. Already we both feel so much better with us being here. Zonker and Phoebe are so much happier with us here. Atari is getting curious after 2 and a half days alone in what will become CK's home office. Her plants make the space look great even in the chaos. The weight of the fear feels far less oppressive.


Friday Date Night

CK and I both work pretty hard on our various "work" projects and other things like yoga, Zen, and various connections with the Open Source and other communities like Love Based Living. It is pretty easy for us to just take a night off. Setting an official, on the calendar "date night" was discussed and tonight was our first official one.

When I left the building to walk over to Backspace I felt lighter and was happy with the warming weather, puffy white clouds & blue sky, and the sun lighting up all the green leaf buds on some trees and pink or white flowers on other trees. I was smiling at the late afternoon and as I walked past people they would smile back, regardless of who they were.

She wrapped up working and I checked email while having a creme soda. We decided to wander over to Shanghai Tunnel for a beer, mostly because I'd never been there before. This well known Portland bar, CK has been on a visit, but hadn't. It was OK, comfortable enough and people generally friendly. We played a couple of rounds of pool and decided to move on.

Bailey's Taproom was next. I think in my heart I'd never gone in since it occupied the space where Lampthong Thai once was. It was very comfortable even though it was pretty crowded with people. CK ran across the street to the convenience store to grab a bag of pretzels since Baily's only serves beer, and we enjoyed a sampler tray of our choice of beers.

We popped into Saucebox very briefly before ducking out again. I hadn't been there in years and only really had cocktails there. It was very loud, very trendy, and CK noted that it felt like San Francisco (in a bad way). Nothing on the menu really grabbed us as enticing enough to stand the atmosphere. While the staff were occupied we left quickly.

Onto looking in the window of Dragonfish. Again, nothing really jumped out at us as decent for dinner or even snacking. Sushi sounded good, as did miso, but we knew that we'd have to wait for a visit to Mio.

Since we were near Southpark we popped into the wine bar. The wait person went back to the kitchen to find out just what could be made vegan and came back with some suggestions we're going to keep in mind for the future (they offered to make risotto, fresh pizza, or linguini - any with an assortment of seasonal veggies). We ended up with their hummus, fresh flatbread, and fried chickpeas.

The wine at Southpark is always great. That's why we ended up in there, we at least knew the wine would be nice even if we moved on to eat something somewhere else. The flatbread & hummus plate usually comes with tzatziki but since we obviously wouldn't be having that they just added the chickpeas we wanted to that plate. All tallied up we ended up only paying for two glasses of wine and the flatbread plate! Nice touch on their part since quite often having some accomodation for a vegan often costs more.

The hummus was very garlicky with a nice tang of lemon and heartier than the more traditional, ultra-smooth kinds (like at Hush Hush, Nicholas Restaurant, or Habibi). The flatbread was freshly made and so tasty that we will try their offer of a custom pizza some other evening. The fried chickpeas with lemon were so tasty, lightly crispy on the outside, and with a bright, lemony burst of favor!

I felt a bit better today over all and not just because of the fun evening we had. Zazen and making myself write last night helped some. I also was able to fix something before heading downtown this morning (with the help of KE's extra eyes on my code we found a problem I was stuck on). I enjoyed myself at the Geek Chix lunch meet up at P.F. Chang's then walked over to the office for the afternoon. I felt like I caught up on a few things, which helped with starting to feel a bit more focused.


Graduation Depression

Everyone keeps asking me how happy I am now that my second round of yoga teacher training is completed.

I haven't made it to happy yet. I'm beginning to wonder if this is the next entry onto the list of accomplishments I don't truly feel happy for finishing. I feel unfocused, anxious and sad.

Some of this sounds like it is normal. I touched base with a couple of my fellow trainees this week and they echoed my less than happy feelings. I have heard from others how they felt down after finishing something like this. Tonight after the Dharma talk Nan called it "Graduation Depression" and gave me a hug.

I want to feel energized about the piece I'm writing around responding to the suffering of others. I had a moment last week where I just wrote flat out and felt good about it. My thoughts really came together around the idea that what we can offer to others, what we always have available to offer. Instead I sent a copy to CK and immediately hated what I wrote.

"Ahh, I hear the voice of the Inner Critic." said Chozen with a smile when I mentioned this to her tonight.

Chozen wants me to feel energized about writing for her blog on Psychology Today. I told her I had an outline done and she was happy to hear that I'd made some progress. I felt like a bad student. I also told her I hadn't written in days, felt unfocused, depressed, and not at all wanting to attend her sesshin starting the 20th on Loving-Kindness.

Being Chozen, she heard all of this and smiled at me. She insisted she is not nagging, merely reminding me with kindness to help me focus. She asks people to reminder her in this way when she is writing as it is useful to her. She is looking forward to my writing about responding to suffering and said that my reaching a point of hating it is not necessarily bad. She said that she gets that way too sometimes and then later, when the writing is read again she discovers that there's some good stuff.

AM is moving the bulk of his furniture this weekend. We had some tense words yesterday and I still feel the energy of them. These two endings, strung together, seem very heavy. As the teacher training progressed to a celebratory, loving end my marriaged progressed towards as loving a divorce as possible.

Saturday I am going hiking with CK and whoever else shows up at 10AM by the Zoo MAX stop. We're going to have a picnic after the short hike, if it rains we'll do it in the shelters at Hoyt Arboretum. On Sunday she and I are going to Easter dinner. Ham will be served so we're making a hearty, vegan soup to take with us.

I feel guilty for not being excited about CK moving into the house with me when I am back from sesshin. I know inside there's a part of me that is so happy, so grateful, so excited and yet I feel very disconnected from that part.


Props for Props

I'm in a bit of a funk today. It feels like my not having the intensity and distraction of yoga teacher training has me finally in the space for all the other stress of the past seven or so months to really be present. I'm not really liking it.

I just feel on edge, painfully so, and somewhat overwhelmed by all the changes. I'm finding it even more challenging than usual to vocalize about it. Not that things are bad, but I just feel very unsettled, have felt unsettled for some time now, and that is wearing on me.

And yet, in the middle of it all there was another gloriously beautiful day today. I enjoyed working from the house with both Phoebe and Zonker coming in at times to sit with me. It was warm enough to have the windows open and I worked on things until about 4:30 then packed and went over to the flat.

We opted to not go to the gym, instead gathering up the camera and going for a walk up through the park to the library. CK took photographs of just about every different flower we encountered. It was a very leisurely walk and just a good break from the intensity and stress.

Such a lovely break we ended up being late going over to EB's house. I felt really bad since they were clearly waiting on us. They seemed to think being late because we were out enjoying the sun was understandable. We quickly got to chatting and eating tacos.

Then spent some time cutting up the giant roll of yoga mats EB and I purchased together. We each ended up with 9 mats, slightly shorter than 6' each, and a little bit left over. Yes, PVC mats which smelled like chemicals, but this is a good way to start out. My blocks are cork at least. The blankets are cotton, so vegan, but not organic. It is great to have my own collection of props to be able to teach a small class just about anywhere!


A Day Guided by Whim

I had a good day today even though CK is up at Great Vow and Mom is sick. Have been thinking a lot about practice, authenticity and relationships.

It started out with turning off the alarm at 7AM then waking up at 8:20 to realize that I had successfully turned off the alarm instead of "snoozing" it and that I felt pretty well rested. I got up and thought about going to the gym. Decided to call Mom and was pretty much immediately greeted with, "Where were you last Saturday? I waited around all day for you and you never showed up!"

Uhh... I pointed out to Mom that last Saturday I was practically at Prananda form 9AM to 9PM for my last day of teacher training and graduation party. She then accused me of being short with her. Then started coughing horribly and said she'd have to phone me back.

Right, not a good start to the day. When she did phone back I was dressed and making tea, ready to drive out to Corbett to see her. She told me that she had a pulmonary infection (I could guess that by the terrible coughing) and was on day two of a very high dose of Prednisone (ahh, that explained why she started out angry and irrational at first). I said I'd come see her anyway and she said not to, that both she and my step-father were sick and I should stay away.

I was disappointed, really. She and I talked for a while. This past year I find myself listening to my Mom say how she wished things were done differently when I was a kid, how she regrets choices she made that affected me. In a way it is almost unsettling. I'm so accustomed to not being acknowledged that to have attention focused on the ways I suffered is uncomfortable.

Suddenly I found my day empty. I thought about going to the house and working on the yard. I pulled up the information for the Integrative Meditation workshop. Then a saw someone I'd at Beer & Blog ask if anyone was up for breakfast in SE PDX.

I thought, what the hell, and answered. We set something up and I headed out. The food turned out to be really mediocre, not awful but not really great considering there are several good places around. It was just fun hanging out, talking about life in general and bicycles. After breakfast she even let me take a test ride on her Xtracycle, which was a hoot!

For the rest of the day I let whim guide me and indulged myself a little. I reminded myself that even having spent money on the laptop I could afford a little indulgence. It was OK, I wasn't being too extravagant

Found some good things at the Hawthorne Goodwill, including some pants to replace a few pair that are too big, a couple of lightweight hoodies, and some shirts. Wandered over to Sweetpea and had a better cup of coffee. Then picked up a couple of items at Herbivore I'd had my eye on for some time (a dressy-looking belt and a t-shirt) and chatted with Michelle a bit more about my disappointing Vy & Elle bag, she even had a recommendation for a local PDX messenger bag designer! I then popped in and talked ink at Scapegoat (maybe could get in by June or sooner). Picked up the old iBook I'd locked in my desk downtown and then headed to the flat. The evening was filled with a dinner for a friend's birthday at Portobello, which was very tasty. Hung out with just a couple of folks afterward and it was a great evening.

The fact that I missed CK all day long doesn't distract that it was a really lovely day, it just is part of the overall state of the day. The thing that strikes me the most is how I don't feel this huge, "oh I don't know what I'd do without you" kind of dramatic emotion. I just notice how she's not there. I enjoy myself, yes, have a lovely time, but I'm aware of her absence always. She's sent me messages here and there, each filling me with love. I have been so grateful for this little connection to her this weekend.

I am so glad she will be home tomorrow, I look forward to enjoying the spring sunshine with her in the late afternoon. It will be wonderful to catch up with her, I really am looking forward to hearing about the workshop and her experience with it. I feel profound, awesome gratitude that she wants to whole-heartedly share her life with me.


Checking Out Beer and Blog

Really tried out the Air today. I intentionally left my work laptop, an HP, logged in and locked up on my desk downtown. I spent some time using the option to remotely access my work laptop and ran several things. Worked on the login scripts some more, making some progress. It was great getting to use the laptop this way, it was so much faster.

CK asked me this afternoon if I was getting used to the idea that it was my laptop. I smiled at her and agreed that I was settling into enjoying it. It is really nice to be able to do this for myself. I also have really enjoyed the "oohs" and "ahhs" I get when I take it out of my bag!

Which I had a lot of opportunity to do this evening, finally checking out Beer and Blog at the Green Dragon. I liked hearing about how BnB got started, had a porter, got some buttons and was introduced to a pile of cool people by my friend YW. I'm always grateful to run into him at events since he seems to be able to introduce me to just about everyone. In fact, I only seem to manage to remember a handful of the people each time because there are so many new people!

I spent some time chatting with ML from The Movement Center. We talked briefly about approaches to yoga. It was great hearing someone talk about the importance of keeping yoga accessible! She was very interested in my ideas about workshops around trauma recovery and compassion fatigue. Looking forward to connecting with her more later.

FW also introduced me to a woman who is running a site for people coming out as queer later in life, QueerL.Net. Interesting to read so far, more interesting to know how another person went down such a similar path.

I also got to see MS, who I missed last week now that we're not all gathering at the Bagdad to watch BSG! Fun chatting about cats with her and about programming with her and SB. All very cool people met tonight, I was really glad I went.

After that aw AM's flat this evening. It is cozy and nicely located with a great view of the sun setting over the city. We had dinner at Fujin's. I found everything to be saltier than I imagined, but still really tasty. We ordered a tofu soup to start that I ended up finishing. Soft tofu and veggies in a clear, veggie broth. I added some chili paste and it made the most of my dinner which is probably for the best since the Crispy Eggplant is deep friend, the veggie pot stickers were deep fried, and the tofu in the General Tso's Tofu was also freshly deep fried!

All that and I miss CK. She left this afternoon to attend the Inner Critic workshop at Great Vow. She's let me know she's glad she's there, which I was really happy to receive. She also said she wants to try to find a way for us to attend the Walking Together workshop for couples in May.

Seeing AM getting settled into and happy with his flat was good tonight. I also got to hear how DW is moving forward with grace towards getting a place with her friend. Although I know part of me is working on just taking my hands off of both of those lives it was reassuring to listen to the positive news. On top of that having such good connections tonight, more positive experiences getting involved with new community, was helpful. Once I get talking with people it is easier to be open.

But it was getting CK's messages as I was headed to the flat to take care of Atari that were so special. I cannot help but return to my gratitude in sharing our practices of Zen and yoga together. I miss her a lot tonight, things have been so busy and unsettled for so long I really wish she was here. However, I feel comfortable and good about her being at this workshop. I feel even better knowing that she really wants us to attend the workshop on relationship as spiritual practice. To feel not only that she supports my practices, but that our sharing of them is this powerful synergy is really something I'm profoundly grateful for.


New Computer

My Oregon tax refund showed up last week and I spent it plus a little this evening. After much prevaricating, asking for advice, reading articles, and having long conversations with myself in my head I purchased a computer this evening after work. The Mac Store had a special for a MacBook Air that included an option to get the external SuperDrive for it with a rebate that will make it free.

I have been delighted mostly at how fast it is compared to the old iBook I'd been using for a while now. The lightness of it is almost alarming since it feels like I'm going to toss it across the room when I pick it up. It flew through downloading my preferred applications for browsing and using Twitter, ordering a neoprene sleeve for it, and setting up buttons. Then running everything, lots of tabs open, two chats going, logged into webmail for work and Gmail -- and it hasn't felt slow once, in any way. All that and it is very comfortable to type on too and I am loving the wide screen.

One of my best friends from college was on Facebook when I posted a comment about making a big purchase and was one of the chat windows I had open. While chatting with her, laughing about how we both have books all over the place, it occurred to me that I've never really had a new computer for myself. I've always had used ones I've purchased. I certainly count this as new since it is fully refurbished and certified by Apple.

I really thought a lot about it since I was opting to spend a lot more money. In fact that was a lot of the conversations I had with myself again today. Feeling like I was being too extravagant, which is a way of saying "not worthy", should wait until it isn't so new & expensive, and shouldn't spend so much. I kept reminding myself all the reasons why this made the best sense for me. The full size keyboard lets me type very effectively, the wide screen is better suited for working on articles, and the ultra-light weight will mean I can carry it around with me without it being too heavy for my back.

Despite still feeling anxious during the whole purchase I'm feeling a lot better about having used it for a little while this evening. I know it will be a very useful tool for me and will be something I can use for quite a long time. It is a good way to celebrate the work I've doing too, in a lot of areas in my life, but finishing the teacher training especially.