Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


60,000 and Rising

Why have I been making ragey art tracking this number all month? It feels like I'm cleaning a wound. I feel the need to bear witness to this number.

I wrote 30 haiku those month too. Generative, even just silly things like Animal Crossing, have offset the rage art making. I'm getting some rhythm to this new, unchosen schedule.

‪There's been good in this month. It's precious to have meaningful connections when the news is so dreadful. Next month I might try to make art about survivals that weren't expected. Celebrations even if I'm still ragey.

‪Day 30 Haiku

‪Beginnings. Endings.‬
Neither coming nor going.‬
I am always whole.‬


Revealed Self

Today I told students that teaching online is more about supporting my mental health than recovering the income I‘ve lost teaching for the City. It came up because students were asking about ways to pay me and if I’d contacted the Silver & Fit organization about getting registered with them and paid forth my classes.

I told them I hadn’t had the bandwidth for it, and this week I’ve been dealing with pharmacy stuff and had therapy. My cortisol brain can only manage so much in a day.

I told them to just come. To email me pictures of flowers in their yard or paper notes, which I treasure. These are all perfectly good payment options since teaching online is helping my mental health.

It felt highly vulnerable and like I was doing something wrong. Which probably means it was the right choice. This is a crappy method of figuring out what to do, but here I am!

Daring to reveal.
Vulnerable to be seen.
No more hidden Self.


Restraint Keeps You Safe

Today, to contrast yesterday’s despair waiting in and out, I was anxious all day long. I felt like a failure, despite all we got done on the weekend. Tomorrow’sa therapy day, so it might well be more of the same.

I'm still thinking about language, this selection from Lao Tzu, translated by Ursula K. Le Guin, has been one I was reflecting on before the pandemic. Now it feels especially apt.

Fame and Fortune

Which is nearer,
name or self?
Which is dearer,
self or wealth?
Which gives more pain,
loss or gain?

All that you grasp will be thrown away.
All that you hoard will be utterly lost.

Contentment keeps disgrace away.
Restraint keeps you out of danger
so you can go on for a long, long time.

Now for today’s haiku! I didn’t set put to write a month of haiku, but at some point my heart just decided to go for it. Haiku is the first type of poetry I learned about, learned to write, so it feels fitting.

Distant for safety.
We find new ways to reach out.
Connection endures.


Despair and Roses

Rounds of yardwork, laundry, and bouts of despair; there it was, raw despair about pretty much everything. Set off by trying to sort out our dinner, but truly not related.

We've not eaten a meal out our take away in over six weeks. This may be the longest I've ever done since I was a child and Mom and I lived on food stamps in low income apartments. Not counting free meals at school.

My Mother liked eating out. Liked fast food, convenience foods. After marrying my stepdad this was all more accessible and became part of every week.

It is so hard when at times neither of us wants to eat and we need to. This is an area that's especially hard for CK, her medications exacerbate her sensitivity about certain foods/textures and that's all aside from gluten intolerance.

Usually it isn't too hard. Today though; despair for a few minutes.

And then there are these roses making our back yard smell glorious. I'm so grateful for this and the gardening I could do today, plus all they laundry done!

Sunlight on roses.
Warm, heady scent fills the air.
Linger this moment.


Fifty Thousand

I was trying to think about what to write when I did my nightly check of the CDC’s website. The site is a day behind, but it is where I started to check this month.

It’s a grim ritual. I feel the need to bear witness in this small way.

Shopping today, a pharmacy pickup, exhausted me. Fred Meyer is the least safe feeling space to shop; they aren’t making efforts to limit the number of people in the store at a time.

That we managed any yard work amazes me.

Grief, a heavy stone.
Each number another stone.
We are diminished.


Kites Must Open

I went shopping at the big Japanese market today. It was a relief to be somewhere where staff and shoppers were all taking masks and distancing seriously. Inside and out into the parking lot where we waited to be let in.

Tomorrow I need to get the one prescription that must stay at a walk-up pharmacy. We need gardening supplies too. Shopping is exhausting and I'm incredibly grateful to friends who are offering to pick up thighs when they are out. It meant we had cupcakes for dessert.

Watching the kites flying today while queuing to get into the Japanese market. Grateful to find everything for us to have a special dinner tonight.

Turn to catch the wind.
A kite must open to fly.
Soar across the sky.


Blue Each Spring

The irises I planted when we moved here, after tearing back some landscaping, have begun blooming. I’d totally missed that they were going.

I admired them and then let a friend take them for a natural pigment project she’s working on. Since she’d been shopping for us, it seemed a fitting tribute!

Whenever these ones bloom I always call to mind this haiku by Shushiki. It feels especially fitting this particular April of everything.

Dead my old fine hopes
And dry my dreaming but still…
Iris, blue each spring.

In response to Shushiki:

Did you plan with hope?
My careful plans are scattered.
Iris blooming still.


Weight of Memories

Today felt hard.

I spent much of the morning arguing with my Mother's bullshit that decided to play on my head. Connecting with students lightened my mood a little, but I spent the rest of the day feeling exhausted.

I felt shame. The nagging feeling that I should be doing more with my time off from commuting. That we have it relatively easy and safe, but I'm weighed down by memories and the dread of the coronavirus.

Every other day I've noted the USA death toll on this month's art journal signature. I take the number from the CDC website. Today it me know that across two days nearly 5,500 people have died.

‪Still, there was the rain falling and Camillia flowers that drop off so perfectly before they decay.‬ I spent some time under the eaves admiring them in the damp.

‪Spring rain hangs heavy.‬
‪Raindrops on fallen flowers.‬
Weight of memories.‬‪


Yearning for Growth

No big insights today. Kept mostly on track. Intermittent grief for the second career I was building, but tempered by my slowly growing online classes.

I’m yearning for the kind of post-traumatic growth that moves us forward in our capacity for compassion. Today was a day when it felt like a very distant dream, even though I mostly avoided all news today.

Sunlight streaming down.
Illuminating the world.
Yearning for new growth.


Gas What?

I started a post about the strangeness of today’s oil price crash set against childhood memories of gas lines and shortages in the 1970s.

Then it borked and the save failed.

We got through another day. Groceries ordered. I sat on the deck and managed to answer a few emails.

The roses are blooming.

Heady scent lingers.
Profusely blooming roses.
Abundance of Spring.