Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Food Carts & Bicycle Rides

Another gorgeous, warm day & evening in P-Town and full of reminders as to why I love my city.

This afternoon I met some folks up by PSU to check out a new Korean fusion taco truck, Koi Fusion. I'd hoped to catch a bus on 5th Avenue, but didn't end up being able to and walked all the way up from my office. It is a good walk and with the sunny weather I was pretty warm by the time I found the truck.

There was already a decent line waiting and food being served up. It was fun meeting new people and chatting while waiting. In addition to some more tech community folks I met the owner of the Whiffies food cart, Greg, and his adorable French bulldog puppies, Maddy & Moira (oh so cute, so sweet). It was very pleasant hanging out, making the wait go quickly, and oh was the wait worth it.

In a little tray was tofu cubes seared in a nice sauce topped with cabbage, bean sprouts and served in a fresh, made-in-the-truck tortillas. I got a little homemade, vegan kimchi on the side. It was all awesome. Very fresh, very good ingredients, and incredibly tasty.

Koi Fusion tofu

I was all fired up to go to yoga in the afternoon but by the time I made it home and opened the door to the adorable site of CK napping on the sofa with Phoebe I just wanted to rest. I do feel a bit guilty about not going to yoga this evening but instead CK worked on the website for my yoga teaching practice while I wrote. I made some progress on the article I started that reflects upon the time I've kept the list of names for the Transfer of Merit for the Portland ZCO community. Finally getting going on some projects at work has helped me get writing again in general.

CK & I decided to meet up with some folks, some we know from the tech community, at the food cart pod on SE Hawthorne & 12th. There are some carts that have been raved about and it has been very popular to head there for dinner after the Beer & Blog. Neither CK or I had been to any of them and it was such a beautiful night we decided to ride over.

It was a gorgeous ride over. Warm, sunny and that beautiful evening light. I smiled thinking about myself just a couple of months before my 30th birthday. I was at my heaviest, most distracted, and most unhappy. If you had told me then that 10 years later I'd be 150 less, vegan, and riding my bicycle to SE PDX with my girlfriend I would have shook my head and laughed. Funny thing is, several times people have guessed me to be around 25. When I was just about to turn 30 I looked far older than I do now.

When we got there we were met by friends and there was some chuckling about the contrast between CK's sleek road bike and my cruiser. We got input from Dawn, a fellow vegan, and wandered around a bit to check out the offerings. CK commented a couple of times that the whole vibe in the cart pod reminded her of Burning Man.

We decided upon starting with a vegan pot pie from Whiffies. One bite each and we agreed that we were happy to NOT be within walking distance of this cart. Wow, so good. Lovely, light gravy, veggies and homemade seitan in a flaky, fried pastry. Best Vegan Pot Pie Ever.

For our second course we split some fettuccine & veggies tossed in a pomegranate & balsamic reduction. Yep, from a cart. The Yarp?! cart specializes in really tasty pasta and other dishes. The dish was recommended to us and we put in an order. When it was ready were told by Jeremy, the owner, to just eat and we'd sort out the money stuff later. Bemused we sat down and dug into a huge serving of perfectly cooked pasta, summer squash, olives, red peppers, roasted garlic, onions, and assorted mushrooms in a reduction of pomegranate and balsamic vinegar. Incredibly tasty and Jeremy was way cool to chat with. I even found myself enjoying the chantrelles!

One totally unexpected gift from the universe was getting to chat with Liz. We chatted about yoga for a bit and pies. The conversation ended with the offer of her small house in Nepal for us to visit if we'd like. Wow! I am so very touched by this lovely, entirely unexpected offer.

Then we had to ride home. Hard, especially going up the hill at first. My legs complained a lot about being asked to do this. I felt a little grateful for not doing a yoga class too since my first real ride of the year. CK gave me an encouraging pep talk while I worked my way up the hill to Alberta. We laughed all the way to the house.


Just a Cold

I've had a wonderful few days and I'd been planning writing about all of it today. The fun evening AM, CK & I had Friday watching the vice presidential debates we'd DVR'd while we had been at the Dharma Center the night before. My first real serious rain ride, with new Ortleib panniers, on Saturday. I also have wonderful pictures to accompany writing about the wonderful day CK and I spent in Hood River County on Sunday.

However, at this very moment I have a cold and feel rather puny. I've been trying to tell myself it has just been my allergies getting worse with autumn really settling in. On Saturday I was questioning if I was fighting something, but felt well enough to be at teacher training and ride to CK's afterward. Yesterday I felt a little fatigued, but better after CK & I had slept in some. This morning I woke up feeling pathetic and the effort of trying to pump air into my tires exhausted me.

AM came and picked up me and the bike. I worked from home, catching meetings and checking into things. I'm going to go to bed early tonight and will write about the weekend. I'm trying not to resent being sick, I haven't really felt this ill in over a year which is so much better than my health at any time prior to the past 5 years. It was a stressful, upsetting week last week and that on top of an intense schedule really has left me a bit low.


Autumn is Nigh

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.

Once I got there I breezed past the Kiyokawa booth and spotted several new varieties since I'd been there two weeks ago. I was thrilled to spot the Pink Pearl apples were out. I got some wooden tokens from the info booth (can be purchased instead of getting cash from an ATM and used at any of the markets throughout Portland) and quickly made my way back to the apples where I picked out at least a dozen apples.
Back in the car I polished up one of the Pink Pearls and took a huge, satisfying bite. So worth waiting for, not that there is any choice about that. These apples only appear at the end of summer for a few weeks. Since they do not keep or ship well they must be eaten up and then they are gone with the season. They are not very showing, being a tan color but once they are rubbed with a cloth they practically glow.
We made our way on to the Bike Gallery to get a "tube top" for my bicycle. This is a bit of telescoping tube that clamps onto the seat post and the neck of the bike so it will hang on a bike rack. I also picked up a Pearl Izumi beanie to keep my head and ears warmer (I've liked the riding gloves I got from this company a lot). My head has ached a little in the morning because my ears get so cold. The same woman who sold me my bike helped out and was fascinated by the shockingly red apple I was eating so I took her in one before we took off.
Coffee and bagels at Seven Virtues, a nice bit of routine AM and I have been enjoying for a few weeks. We check emails, talk, and I work on homework for teacher training. It is a nice quiet time together before I have to dive back into my teacher training. Then we headed back to the house so I could load up.
It was a good class, again. I'm enjoying the depth of study on anatomy and adjustments. It is very much what my basic training lacked. I've not necessarily suffered for not having that since I had studied, but it is very good to get to spend this time on these topics. I feel like I am learning the asana and theory in far greater depth than before.
The ride over to CK's was long, although I was able to keep breathing through my nose and didn't feel quite as exhausted coming up the steepest part of the climb. It was good to have the movement in my legs and hips after sitting for so long in class, however, having sat so long meant I was fatigued and hurt quite a bit. It was really nice to arrive at CK's to the warmth of her company and the smell of dinner cooking.
It really feels like autumn this evening. The air smells of leaf fall and the leaves composting, breaking down on the ground. It is markedly cooler as well. When we popped out to go get cookies and chai I needed a fleece of CK's to be warm enough. I'm really happy to spend this time with CK, anticipating the anniversary of her move up here and getting to enjoy this time of year together.

Change and Emptiness

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!

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Sunny September Sunday

Whew! What a busy few days. I feel really tired and energized at the same time. Mentally I'm zooming a little but I feel the physical intensity of the past few days. AM and I are watching Jools Holland, which we DVR, Toots and the Maytals played as did Jet, from Australia. We had the leftover pumpkin curry for dinner along with some flat crackers toasted with tomatoes, olive tapenade and some red onions. It was a nice, simple meal and we talked a lot while getting things together.

Today my class ended up running a little late, but no one really seems to mind and the class was a lot of fun. Two students from last year returned after a long break bringing two friends with them. One person completely new to yoga, one who remembered taking Kundalini yoga classes many years ago. Another returning student from this summer, R who gave me such a compliment a few weeks ago when I was having a very difficult, vulnerable day. And CK, something that brings me a great pleasure; I feel a rush of warm emotions when I see her on her mat.

The energy was very good, lots of questions, and I was just enjoying it so much I was surprised to find we were still doing standing posed and it was at the end of class time! I didn't feel too bad since class had got to a late start. R had asked for plank and side plank, which was great since I was really looking forward to teaching going up into adhomukha svanasana from plank pose. This was one of the things from teacher training that I really wanted to try with my class. I was pleased to see how much better each person's pose looked, even the brand new person!

CK and I rode back to her place afterward and were able to continue our conversation from a little better place. The yoga practice burning off some of the energy and grounding us both. It was easier although still deep and touching places that hurt. We had more soup and just hung out talking to each other. Occasionally taking breaks and talking on other topics, but still keeping connected.

We lay down together, just touching and talking. CK brought up an idea she had, that perhaps we investigate adding Tantra to our shared practices, to our relationship. It ties very closely to our Hatha yoga and Zen practices and might be useful in discovering how to feel safe in intimacy together. As she told me this I'd been laying there thinking that maybe before we go to bed we should actually sit together, meditate.

I mentioned this and she asked if we could touch. When she said that I was struck with the idea of sharing a cushion so we could sit with our backs completely touching. We tried this, each perched on one side of a flat, bed pillow. We slowly let ourselves lean into each other and sat for a few moments. It was wonderful feeling the warm length of her against the whole of my back, knowing the sensation of her breath as well as my own.

It isn't exactly a path through the rocky shoals of intimacy that shows up in anything we've read, but it is something I think valuable to explore. I recall one book suggesting an exercise to sit with you hand on your partner's heart, but the arm would quickly grow tired and it seemed a little awkward even though I like being able to lie next to CK with my hand on her heart.

There was something so deeply connected feeling in sitting with my back to her, and that was just a in the few moments of trying out the idea of sharing a cushion. I feel like it could be deeply intimate sitting for many minutes that way, in zazen. Our backs touching and sharing the movement of breath while our minds did the work of settling into the silence.

We lay stretched out on the bed after zazen together. Outside there was a block party with live music. It was a warm, sunny early September afternoon and we found ourselves enjoying each other while a jazz guitar and female vocalist came in through the open windows. CK noted, as we were lying there enjoying the day and the music that it felt natural to be together.

Sitting with my back to hers for those moments, feeling her so deeply, helped to ground me in how strong of a relationship we're building. That helped the feelings of desperation and hopelessness subside. When those things settle it lets the tension around intimacy subside.


Yoga Teacher Training Begins

The day did not start well. At 12:47 one of the suction cups holding the thingy which holds the family tooth brushes and toothpaste gave loose and the two tubes of paste crashed into the tub. AM & I both sat up in bed with a start and he got up to investigate.

At the top of the stairs Zonker hissed at AM as if to say, "Did you hear that, I'm not going down there!"

AM came up told me what it was and we tried to get back to sleep. I'd been barely sleeping, uncomfortable and my mind just awake. Not lots happening, just awake and achy. Should have taken a melatoninin, perhaps if my mind was settled with that help I wouldn't have been as mindful of pain.

So I decided to work from home. Good day for it, had my monthly one-on-one call with my boss. Nice to be home for those because I don't feel like I need to walk off to talk privately somewhere. I had a good kick-off meeting for a project I'll be doing most of the code for. I tried to get PHP to work with the MySQL test database I set up but I'm still stuck on errors about the connection not working.

Then off to Prananda for my first teacher training class to start! As usual for me I felt anxious about it. The ride over there helped with some of the nervous energy as did the asana practice for 90 minutes. By the time we were doing two hours of sitting down and talking about the next seven months I felt much calmer.

I knew I wouldn't be the youngest, but I'm not the oldest either. There is quite a age difference between all of us, which is really cool. One solitary guy and 9 women, plus Joy. Again in a group I'm interested to hear how many people move to Portland. I'm one of a few with a meditation practice. There's several of us with back and hip problems, chronic pain, and muscle spasms.

We watched Yoga Unveiled for about 30 minutes. I was really enjoying the deep history of yoga. There were seals from Harappa discussed and shown which show people in early yoga poses. Tracing yoga back closer to 5000 years! Not sure if anyone else was as into this bit as I was, I know a few people were finding it a bit deep to follow. I'm looking forward to the rest of this DVD.

One of my fellow students has just moved here from Hood River and had rode to the class. She lives on the way I take home from the studio and hadn't put her light on her bike yet. She also hadn't known the best way to take back to her neighborhood so she followed me to her street. It was interesting to be the person who know something about bicycling in Portland!


Riding over I5 at night

It was a great night for riding home after the first meeting of my yoga teacher training. Not a lot of traffic at all, not too cool or hot. It was nice riding through the neighborhood to the pedestrian bridge on Bryant. It struck me how much changed in the last 10 years. Here I was, 39, riding home at night from yoga teacher training, 150 pounds less. At 29 I'd pretty much given up on riding a bicycle a few years prior, had not notion of taking yoga (although I was still swimming then), and spent a lot of my time distracting myself from all the messy emotions I had inside, which is what I had been trained, forced to learn to do as a child.

I was quiet, just my breath and the appreciation of change, the late summer night. I enjoyed the noise over the freeway. Even at 9:45 or so the traffic was still rushing both north and south so there was a constant hum. The loud, present roar that is the buzzing hum in the background of my bedroom. I peddled up over the rise of the bridge then coasted down the other side, mindful of the changes, the feel of the night air on my face and the drone of I5 in my ears.

After that it is an easy, pleasant coast to my house. I quickly rode across Albina then turned to coast down the hill on Commercial. Standing up on my peddles, leaning up into that feeling of flying, and coasting along until I braked at the house.

There were frogs singing as I stopped. I stood on the lawn for a moment just listening to them; so beautiful.

AM had pumpkin curry waiting for me when I got inside. Spicy and sweet, it is warming after the ride home (my legs get cold quickly). I'm tired, but feel more grounded in this commitment than I did earlier today.


Dentist Day

Wow, what a day. I was feeling OK about the dentist appointment until about an hour before it happened and then the tension surrounded me like a cape, pulling on the front of my chest. I didn't feel panicked as much, but I was just taut and cold. Finally I took some Xanax before we left and it settled in by the time the dentist was working on my teeth. Although I think it would have been good to have had it a little earlier so the cleaning and flossing would have been a little less intense (I particularly dislike someone flossing my teeth).

It went fine and my teeth are good, although they'd like to do some sealants on several of the teeth to protect them from getting cavities. I dislike the idea of more visits, but it would better than getting cavities and having the more invasive work done. AM and I were out of there after about an hour and got home in time for me to do a little more work before packing up to go to yoga.
In some ways class and the effort to bicycle there felt frustrating. I still felt foggy from the Xanax, my mouth still feels sensitive and I just felt tired out. Although I had a peach and a smoothie before going to class I felt really depleted afterward and a bicycle ride home seemed a daunting task made even more so by finding I had a flat tire when we came out. CK heroically fixed my flat then suggested we stop and have dinner at Thai Ginger.
I'm just so glad to be crawling into bed in just a moment. Curling up under the covers with CK and going to sleep in a while. I was trying so hard to be positive today but I was just feeling at low reserves and was hugely grateful that CK didn't seem too bothered by it. She just stepped in helped me and was gentle with my crankiness.

CK saves the evening

CK and I rode over to Prananda for asana practice and somewhere after we went over the freeway I hit a nail. It sounded like a rock but at a light we saw what looked like a tack. I made it to the studio but after class we came out and discovered the tire was flat. When CK pulled the metal out we saw it was a good sized nail!

She pulled out her tools and proceeded to save the evening by pulling out the tube, patching it, putting it back on, her pump wasn't working right but some people walking past loaned us one. And the tire's back on, low pressure but in acceptable range for the tires. Tomorrow I will ride it over to Bike Gallery and have them check things. I'll also pick up a spare tube, tools, patch kit, etc. CK & I are going to look around for a bike repair class to take together.
We stopped at Thai Ginger for dinner after class and while trying to lock my bike to a street sign it fell over! Some of the zip ties CK had secured my crate on the rack snapped off in the fall. We got into the restaurant and found out they were only doing take out. I felt just cranky and defeated by the day.

CK jumped in and said we'd eat outside, just have out take out front. In the end they made us noodles and ended up serving us, on plates, bringing us water, and everything. Mostly they just wanted to keep the indoors clean! Thankfully the dinner was tasty, quick and helped some of the sensation of defeat. The rest of the ride home was mostly flat or downhill, so that helped improve the evening hugely.

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September Starts Slowly

Still feeling a bit slow today. Seemed like many people today were still moving slow after the holiday weekend. At work today and in my class "tired" was a common word. It was such a long weekend for me but still pretty busy in many ways and getting back to the routine seemed a bit of a challenge.

I got through the day, making myself get up and go for a short walk around 2:30. Picked up a nectarine, some rice cakes, and other fruit for the week at Whole Foods. Tried to make sure I had a snack soon before leaving. When I got to the house I also had a banana before going to the community center to teach yoga.

Did some sun salutations in class with a focus on lunges and a series around adho mukha svanasana. Then did some work on the core muscles in the abdomen -- I'm thinking I may feel those tomorrow! Afterward I walked over to CK's flat to pick up my bicycle -- neither of us had felt like biking over in the chill of the weekend and had left mine there.

I was glad she was home. Since she'd been over hanging out on Monday and had slept in a bit today we decided not to have our usual Tuesday lunch. It made sense but I had to admit that I missed that part of the "normal" routine. Instead I had some leftover chili and kept working on simple, but necessary tasks on my list. As I walked up the block I first saw her truck, then reminded myself she might be on her bicycle. Then I saw the open windows and Atari sitting looking out at the world going by. CK was what I saw next, waving at me. I realized how much I had wanted to see her at feeling the smile spread across my face.

I summoned up what energy I'd gathered teaching class and got set to ride home. I gave AM a quick call to let him know I was on the way and he asked that we go to Dalo's for dinner. I had an easy ride over and the usual, yummy vegetarian platter. AM offered to come up with a way to bring my bike home in the Outback, but I pointed out that the best part of the ride home was what was left. Sufficiently fueled by injeera, lentils, cabbage, spinach, peas, and beer I easily got up the hill and coasted home.

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