Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


So Much Grief

My memory of feeling worthless, not valued enough to be kept safe, is different in that it doesn’t directly involve my Mother. Instead it involves witnessing the caregiver I was left with abusing her children. I was accustomed to physical abuse within my family and was terrified this woman would come after n me next.

Something about this particular memory awakens profound grief. Combined with all the grief I feel about COVID, businesses I love closing, Black Lives Protestors being continually brutalized by police, the corrupt GOP, and our cat having cancer.

It leaves me feeling so tender, with tears right at the surface. This is a state I find painfully vulnerable, I do not have a friendly relationship with tears, still. It says something that I’m able to say that rather than “I hate crying”!

I said to students Tuesday that grief is so big at times, but e we keep working with it until it’s like a small, precious stone we set on the altar. We ultimately each create our internal Room of Grief where each precious stone lives.

I like this, I want to write more about it, but this beginning bit, when it’s all so much at once and so big, how to hold space for that? That’s the part I want to be better at.


End of August

Obie has lost five pounds since January, it's not good. We also can't seem to get control of his vomiting so today her got in to our vet. His kidneys are small and he has a golf ball sized, but not density, in his abdomen.

They took blood samples and more will be known tomorrow when the results are in. We're really hoping for hyperthyroidism.

A good friend, who happens to be something of an expert on disaster prepared, started off the day noting that she felt it wouldn't be a bad idea to prepare for civil unrest in November after the election. Prepare to lose power in late Autumn, have food stocked up, first aid supplies and a radio.

It's left me feeling down today. Amazingly I recorded a video and sent out a newsletter, and people found it helpful. The patches I took to the post office have started to arrive and people liked them.

Trying to keep all that in mind and not the rest of it; it will be there in the morning.


Another Body at a Protest

I'm pointedly staying away from social media right now. Tonight someone was killed in Portland during the protests. Tonight a right-wing group met at the Clackamas Town Center and drove into downtown Portland, shooting paintballs at people, spraying mace at people.

In the midst of all of this I'm trying to focus on feeding us simple meals today. Whiles CK napped I took nearly 1000 patches, across nearly 140 separate envelopes, to the post office. I also sent a strap and a handmade eye pillow off to a student who lives in Ohio. That's been waiting on me for a few weeks now. I put some origami cranes in with it too and a note.

We'll get to the hammock tomorrow. CK spent yesterday trying to stay alert and she was more tired and anxious today. I have had the patch and yoga prop mailing hanging over my head for weeks, so getting all that to the post office felt good. I also picked up our mail, checks, birthday cards, and a present from a student were waiting for me!

The anxiety we both felt seeing the convoy of Trump supporters was going through town with guns was pretty high. CK suggested we play a game on the bed; pretend camping. We played Hanabi which is lovely, doesn't need to stay perfectly in place, and is collaborative rather than competitive. It wasn't a total disaster when Bertie jumped up in the middle.

I'm hoping I can make plans for a couple of socially distant walks with friends this week. I'm thinking of making a trip through southeast next week to drop off another set of supplies with a friend and some small gifts for a friend who's not only doing regular compiling of the reporting on the protests in Portland, but has been going through a breakup as well.


Wisconsin and Guns

I was deeply saddened, but unsurprised, to wake to the news that 2 people had been killed last night in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I'm grateful it wasn't worse. I'm livid at the sheriff there who suggests that protestors brought it on by being out past curfew. I'm also enraged at all the cops who encouraged militia members and gave the murderer a pass, plus gentle treatment. I'm sickened by the news media who show a white terrorist doing community works before killing people while painting an innocent man, repeatedly shot in the back in front of his children, as a criminal.

Oregon has a lot of problems with militias and racism. We have Proud Boys and people putting nails in shields to bash into Black Lives Matter protestors. We had them here this past weekend aiming guns at people and spraying bear mace.

Wisconsin though, they have the same militia problem AND they have whole bunches of people who think it is their duty to open carry while picking up groceries. Granted, the murderer was a 17-year-old cop wanna-be who came up from Illinois.

Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin; all of these states have the same issue. Too many people wanting to make a political statement by wearing a gun to dinner.

Years ago, when I was engaged to my second husband, we went back to Waukesha, Wisconsin, where he was from. Multiple events were planned for me to meet his family and friends. One small dinner party, 6 people including the two of us, had a conflict because one of my fiancée's friends was one of these open carry activists and I didn't want a handgun at the table during dinner, even holstered. The dinner was being held at another friend's, where we were staying, and there were numerous guns in the house already!

What strikes me is how he tried to talk me into just letting the friend wear his handgun into the house for dinner. Why couldn't I understand Wisconsin folks more, after all, I'd gone to college there? I was just so accustomed to people gaslighting me this way I ignored that, dug in and insisted that there were already enough guns.


Violences of All Kinds

I woke up in the early morning hours and was just getting back to sleep when CK, who had sat up in bed, said aloud, "Justin Townes Earle is dead."

We both have this memory of introducing each other to the music of Justin Townes Earle, who she got into, and Steve Earle, who I was into, as part of our courtship. It was probably a few years into our relationship she realized later, looking at the dates of JTE's releases.

This news set a gray tone over the day. CK noted that for whatever reason, this celebrity death was hitting her hard. I thought a lot about intergenerational trauma and how it robs people of their ability to feel connected. I thought about TJ, how close in age we were and how he didn't make it out. I'm so grateful for the ways I found to cultivate resiliency, I managed to avoid the addictions that were modeled for me.

We have been worried about friends and family in California. Just as one fire near my mother-in-law was contained another has started. I'm grateful our fire season has been so mild so far.

Today I heard that a member of the soccer patch community I belonged to was assaulted by cops last night, awoke in an ambulance and is now home covered in bruises and with a concussion. Part of me is surprised it has taken this long for someone I know to experience police brutality during the uprisings here. I'm grateful that it's taken so long and I'm also full of rage and grief at the state of the police.

Then another Black man shot in the back repeatedly by cops over the weekend. This time in Kenosha, Wisconsin, which is about 90 minutes from where I went to college. The man lived, but is now paralyzed from the waist down. There are uprisings there and the more police violence as the response.

I keep thinking about a series of tweets from Black activist Brittany Packnett asking how many times do white people need to "bear witness" to the brutalization and murder of Black people, particularly by cops, before we do something about it. Postcards of lynchings date back to the 1880's, I didn't know about this until I was a young adult. I was so surprised, now I know better.

I'm glad I'm taking a break this weekend and glad I'm cutting down to 2 weekends a month, but I'm committed to holding space for the Yoga of Freedom classes. If people want to study with me on Saturdays it's going to come with a side of social justice. Getting more white people to talk about this without having to ask a Black person to unpack it for them is vital and is something I can keep doing.

It feels like so little, but I'm keeping in mind that this past Saturday a student in her early 70's shared that she'd always thought herself to be, "a gentle, kind person", but coming to the class has helped her see that she does have a lot of biases about race and how people look. She said it's been very eyeopening and is helping her realize that she's got work to do!


Marketing Me

I was asked to join the roster of teachers for a 3-day online retreat. I was especially asked to offer a segment on Yoga Therapy for Chronic Pain. Given that's my life story, I'm excited to share this work.

I'm excited to create coursework and student materials. I'm not excited to market myself more than I'm already doing, but I'm doing it anyways.

COVID and trauma therapy were already enough for me to feel less than motivated to make social media posts daily. Then George Floyd was killed, righteous protests began, Portland became a scene of police brutality, and then federal agents showed up & it got even worse.

The feds have left. We're back to homegrown police violence so the protests are less intense.

So I guess I can get back to marketing myself. Yay.


Anger / Depression

When I realize I’m beating myself up I’m trying to pause and acknowledge my anger. Not validate that I’m being hard on myself, unreasonable, but that I’m experiencing anger.

I acknowledge there’s so much to be angry about right now, how helpless I feel, and how ineffectual my efforts seem. I remind myself that directing the anger inward doesn’t resolve it.

I’m trying to learn to integrate my anger. What a hard lesson this is for someone who was forbidden from showing anger.

Today I'm especially grateful for the surprise of art in the mail from a beloved friend. It helped a lot with today's anger. I'm inspired to send out mail tomorrow.


Insomnia and Me

Every night I have 2 discussions with my Trauma Brain:

1a) I have completed enough tasks that I'm "allowed" to sleep.
1b) I'm always allowed to rest, 1a is wrong.

2) Sleeping is safe.

Yoga helps lots, I mediate or do some kind of physical practice. Often both.

Hot showers, just got out of one. Water is very helpful to me.

For many years I want aware of my fear of sleeping. Like many emotional states, I experienced the fear somatically. So much of my trauma is before cognitive integration was available to my brain, so I just don't feel right.

These days of pandemic and protests against police violence have made it harder to convince my body that I'm safe. When I feel less safe, my critical self spends a great deal of time telling me to go do the dishes, clean the floors, deal with the blackberries, catch up on email, finish the taxes, make a budget, defrost the freezer.....

And that's just taking a few seconds to transcribe my inner list of things I must do before resting, playing, creating art, etc.


Anger Turned Inward

Today I taught my second Yoga of Freedom online classes and it went very well. I focused on there later John Lewis legacy and the moral obligation to speak up, to stand up.

For the rest of the day I was in a gray depression feeling like I'd done nothing right.

It isn't true. My art page for today even captures things I did in addition to teaching a difficult class. It's just how I feel.

In reality I'm angry about Federal cops in Portland. I'm angry about my racist family, not that there's anything to do about it besides process it. I'm angry people continue to politicize masks.

All that anger doesn't have anywhere to go, this is most likely the cause of today's blues.


Don’t Look Away

Tonight I head to bed grateful that more journalists after paying attention you what is happening here.

I was up until nearly 2am, unable to wind down.

I've had memories of protesting in the 90s brought up. So many memories of my terrible family. I was seen in TV in a news clip and took so much heat.

I'm grateful for a soccer game victory dance with Bertie