Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Expressive Writing

I made an effort to spend all my accumulated Audible credits today. It's a step in getting rid of my account. Next I need to have CK show me how to get all my books downloaded into our NAS. Then the account goes away and that's one more monthly expense that's reduced. When I want a book, I can give money to CK and she'll get one and put it into the NAS.

Yes, it's more overhead, but having 2 accounts isn't really cost effective. I don't listen to one book a month. I am also happier to get some books from the library anyway. It's a step towards less money being spent.

Along the way of doing this I found a book about the "Laziness Lie", as the author puts it. It's an excellent look at what I've called the "Productivity Trap". It's an excellent listen for someone who's often up past midnight worried that've not done enough to merit going to bed to rest, resenting that I need to rest when I have so much to do.

In it the practice of Expressive Writing is mentioned and it piqued my curiosity. It's an approach of writing non-stop, without editing, for 20 minutes about your feelings. Then, at the end, you've the option of just throwing it all away. It's been used a lot with vets and populations that have often struggled to connect to emotions.

It made me think about some of the ways I'd try to "trick" my brain into letting me express to another person some of the things that had happened to me. Using my touch typing ability and making the font too tiny to read or/and taking my glasses off and just typing as fast as I can. Printing it out and giving it to my therapist. I wouldn't really look too closely at it myself and often I'd not save the file.

In another kind of expressive writing, I find myself thinking more and more about poetry. Perhaps I've taken enough of a break from writing it that I'm yearning to return.


Another Disappointing White Man

Today I caught the news that a teacher I've drawn inspiration from was investigated for sexual misconduct in 2012.

The claim was found to be valid and a mediation occurred. Later, when the person harmed left the teacher's foundation, she was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement about the whole thing.

I'm so tried of this same old flavor of disappointment.


Friday Night Blues

I am not teaching a workshop tomorrow so I'll have to find some other way to mark my pandemiversary. I suspect it will involve yard stuff and moving boxes of books into the van.

My friend was sent to the ER early this morning because she was so exhausted and having problems controlling her breath. After 3 hours she was seen and told she was still stick with COVID, not sick enough to need any other care.

I spent part of the day writing up notes asked making them accessible to her online. She said they were better post-visit notes than from her doctor. This is true because I could dedicate a couple of hours to just doing this work.

I also found out that I'm in the running to be one of the teachers for a yoga intervention study that's been funded! It's on fall prevention through yoga, targeted to rural older adults using technology to reach folks who don't have access to local resources. I'm so excited to be part of this and so anxious I won't be chosen.

I just feel so heavy tonight and continue to struggle with feeling like I get nothing done.


Staggering Grief

I did a short session today for my friend who has been sick with COVID since January 12. Running a fever every day, a little bit. Quarantined in the bedroom, her husband has been sleeping on the sofa this whole time.

She's told me, "I'm too sick to do anything or be around anyone, but not so sick I get additional support."

Last night her husband held her legs, both of them masked, while she cried. It's as choose as he dare gets.

We talked honestly about the trauma she is enduring. She cried some when I told her that her life will be permanently changed by this. Even if her body recovers 100%, the emotional effects will need to be integrated.

She tries hard to let people distract her with news. It's too hard to be present to what's happened.

I told her as little bit about what I've been learning about Long COVID, no one has told her anything at all. I explained why yoga can help.

We did a tiny bit of breath work. My experience with folks with COPD helped me pick an approach right off that was accessible and helpful. She's coughed for so long now that breathing hurts because her muscles are exhausted from the spasms of coughing.

I'm going to put together a package with a yoga strap to send her. We're going to do 2-3 thirty minute sessions a week. Short because she's so quickly exhausted by everything.

Later today she's posted a video update sharing a little of how she's doing and mentioned that the breath practice helped.

After that I spent a little time painting and sat on the deck with Ursa and the dogs. We had an impromptu Zoom happy hour and saw friends. I'm glad I had all that to support me since I'm feeling a lot of grief about the world.

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So Smart

I don't remember the number at the end of all the interviews, tests, and meetings where the adults talked around me, but not to me.

I do know at the end of it all I was treated awkwardly by teachers who either expected too much out of me, wanted me to help run the class, sometimes they felt a need to make sure I knew who was in charge and they were the smart one. A few wanted me to explore intellectually, but provided to support or guide rails to set me up for success.

Perhaps they assumed I got that at home.

At home it was never the same. Out of the meetings where my Mother was told again and again how remarkable I was. The message to encourage and nurture, provide support and new outlets for my voracious curiosity, was there. Suggestions for additional outings that would encourage me, museums and more books.

The thing is, my Mother already want capable of doing that. All along she gave me the childhood she had wanted. I got a little wiggle room in colors, including bright yellow linens for my bed in highschool. I got to make choices within tightly closed sets.

The sets all taken from an idealized notion of what my Mother wanted her childhood to be.

Out of the IQ testing arose a new, hateful thing to say to me.

"You think you're so smart."

"You think you're better than me/us."

The thing is, looking back over it all, I am better than them.


That Asshole

My brain, the Whinnie aspect, moved on from Inner Critic decades ago. Now all it has left is shame and I am full up.

I'm trying to catch myself those times where I'm utterly failing to follow my own advice. This is such a big area; I look up and realize I've been beating myself up all day because I haven't done all the things.

CK had a telemedicine appointment today with doctor and they talked about the weird numbness she's had for a few weeks now. Tomorrow I'm taking her over to get a blood draw; our ND said to be well hydrated because there's several years she's running.

She's concerne. We have been too. We're helping each other to not obsess or catastrophisize.


Did You Do Anything

I'm having a night where I'm trying to recall what I did all day. It feels like dishes, meals, and a small amount of cleaning in addition to a few emails. It feels like I got nothing done. It also feels like I missed something.

I had this idea that is start to do a little something move related every day. Use the habit tracking pages to help me focus. I didn't make it happen.

It's not lost on me that earlier today I reminded a friend that we're still living through National pandemic trauma and it's not in unreasonable to be unmotivated and unproductive. And still, with "Whinnie" sitting at my side asking what the hell I did all day.

Finishing artwork doesn't count for Whinne's definition of productive, but I completed a cool collage today!


Pandimiversary Week

I can't believe we're finally here. A year since I looked carefully into what was known about COVID-19 and by the end of the week I told all my students and employers that I had to stop teaching in person due to concerns for not only my health, but my wife's health as well. Two weeks later both the sites I taught at closed.

One site has reopened somewhat, but I had a conversation with them this month that I was not planning to return to in person teaching for the foreseeable future. I heard there might be the possibility of filming content for the other site, but there's never been any follow up about that. I told students last week that I planned to be online for a while yet.

Saturday I've scheduled a workshop, although I've not had anyone sign up yet. It's my actual sad anniversary date. I both hope people sign up and hope they don't so I can just rest at home. It might be better if they sign up, grounding for me. Although who knows.

I'm grateful for a good weekend connecting with my art friends and our close friend. A game we supported the fundraiser for arrived yesterday and we've played quite a lot. It's fun, although we're supposed to be able to get to a point level to reach a "Bronze Award" and we've yet to make it. That's making it a little frustrating, but it's a lovely addition to our game collection.

CK made a comment today about not being able to sustain a constantly expanding game closet and I looked at her a bit aghast. It's true, we really should rotate out some games we've lost interest in, but it feels a little harder to consider than even books!


Celebrating my Healing on my Mother’s Birthday

I got through my Mother's birthday, sheer would have been 78, without falling apart. Might be the first one in 7 years that hasn't included a meltdown.

And I had a hard week and a busy day! Honestly, I did fill the week up a bit so I couldn't get stuck in a wallow of anger and grief. I told my therapist it could either help me get through the week or be terrible.

It's turned out positively. I got sushi and tempura takeout for us (yes, did my Mother didn't like) and made the fancy cocktail I made up. We played our video games and watched summer Netflix. Ursa was a delightful good.

I know some of this success is from therapy and my commitment to keep going during these times. I don't fully grok why facing and integrating the horrors of my early childhood makes it easier to be present and start the challenge of moving to another country, but it does. I'm just grateful.

Our realtor came and we reviewed the bottom floor today. Really, it's more of the same; get rid of stuff, pack, and get out of the house. Then more serious work to repair, clean, and present can be done without us in the way.

My first project is to clean up the yard a bit in preparation to get landscaping folks hired. I'm hoping to be to this point by April.

I also want to have a goal of getting rid of things weekly. Maybe a daily task too. I'll find some way to use those habit tracking pages in the calendar!

In a couple of weeks, since CK's current manger had a health need scheduled, she'll ask for us to be connected with the relocation manager. Then we might start sharing the news more.

While this is public, we discussed it and this diary isn't well known, I haven't really shared much that I've been doing this, so the only folks seeing it are making a point to do so and/or an old RSS feed started sending it to them again! Those folks have heard the rumblings that we're slowly doing a big thing.

I heard from the Oregon Health Authority; no, hospice volunteers, even if they're actively working with patients, after not eligible for the vaccine. June it is, still. I got is both in the system though!



Today I hosted a support meeting about getting vaccinated for COVID. Last week there was so much anxiety and crosstalk that I offered time this week. Not a lot of folks came, but this have improved since last week.

The best part; helping a student realized that they're eligible now, despite being younger, because they use oxygen at home.

The other best bit was a student I admire sharing how she managed to get herself into a clinic in Woodburn, a little south of Portland. She noted how the Oregon Health Authority site states that you can go outside your county, she takes that to mean she can go anywhere she can get one quickly.

She made a plan to check out the taquerias and took her dog with her to give him an adventure. She got in early and then enjoyed Mexican food in her car with her dog.

In the past she's traveled alone and she would often show up with bright pink hair.

She has so much gumption and curiosity, I really admire her. I have a lot of good role models for aging now, bit she's up there with Dame Judy Dench!