Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


How Low Can We Go?

I gave up my streak yesterday. I'd had a long run of unbroken posts but yesterday I was just too tired, too miserable, and couldnk make myself do one more thing that felt like a task.

Nearly 120,000 people have died from COVID19 and police continue to kill Black people.

I keep hoping to hear Puck's giant feet clacking on the hardwood floors.


Worst Year Ever

We had to make the decision to put Puck down today.

Acute, extreme kidney failure. One kidney looked to be dead.

That's the post for today. This is the fourth cat we've lost over there past 12 years. Fifth for me since I just lost a kitty right when I met CK.


It’s the Grief

I felt overcome with grief this morning, set off by a thoughtful gesture. As I blinked through a moment of tears, I was struck at how much grief I’ve felt this week. The heaviness and sadness I’ve felt are not depression, but grief cycling through.

I made a couple of videos over at the club I still work for. It was pretty tiring to go out to do that. I also stopped to pick up some medication, I had intended to go to the post office as well, but forgot!

I found myself wishing I could just drive off to the beach. Then I remembered that it’s still closed.

Grief came back then.

There’s so much to grieve right now. Even in our good fortune there’s so much we’re missing out on this year, including an event with friends & family to mark CK’s 40th next month. I miss my students.

My errand included some spectacular roses, I’m really grateful for all these moments if beauty.

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Seventy-five Thousand

75,477 people have died. This number is low since the CDC website is showing the Thursday tally at end of day Friday.

The lack of mourning and outcry feels increasingly wrong. This is why I'm making art every other day to show this growing number. I can't look away.

I have a friend, another yoga therapist, who had been been contacted by the Contact Tracing network that's been created in Oregon. She had a terrible virus on February, she's been in close contact with three folks who've tested positive. She'd tested negative, but that batch has had several false negatives.

I practiced saying out loud to her that I wouldn't be going back to in person teaching until a virus is available. I don't feel it's ethical to encourage my students to gather in groups. I'd rather keep getting them online!


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.


Thirty Days

Today I've been actively practicing isolation and physical distancing with CK at home for 30 days. I miss my routine. It is Easter, I'd likely have made the effort to go to church.

Apparently Day 30 is the day when the boiling rage I felt last night condenses into a terrible case of the mopes. All the fear and anger about COVID19 meeting head-on with 7 year-old grief and unresolved feelings of being a bad friend plus a generous helping of rage towards my Mother and family of origin.

It made for an uncomfortable morning where it felt like everything set tears to falling. I ended up drinking tea and playing video games for a while before tackling some chores.

While I'm not feeling simmering rage or weepy mopes, I do feel worn out by the mix of feelings over the past few days. Despite the angry kitty letting me sleep in until nearly 9am, I feel as though I didn't get any extra rest at all. The heightened hypervigilance that's part of the energy of COVID19 for me, is really exhausting.

There is still a double-whammy effect whenever IK's death anniversary comes up. I get the grief, shame, hopelessness, and anger I felt at that time. Along with it comes up the anger, shock, disgust, and despair I felt at my Mother's response to the effort we put in to arranging the memorial service (CK), packing up his apartment (me), contacting his family (both of us). She was jealous of the energy and love we were giving our friend who had just committed suicide.

Up until IK's death my Mother had been the center of attention. When we got the news, we jumped into action with a few other close friends to do the work that needed doing. My Mother pestered me on multiple occasions, asking why we, I, had to help. Why wasn't IK's family doing the things we were. Once we found IK's parents, why didn't we just step back and let family take care of everything. Family should be cleaning up the apartment. Family do the memorial service, why are you, just friends doing this?

I was, in the midst of the shock and terrible grief for our friend, horrified and ashamed of my Mother's petty, selfish behavior. It felt like everything we'd worked on to help her, to improve her health, and build a life around taking care of her unraveled at this point. She realized that our attention could be diverted away from her, she took every little dissatisfaction and she blew them up, she began really bullying me again.

Given that I was already processing a great deal of anger at my Mother for terrorizing me so throughly as a very young child that I never questioned her as an adult, this year it has all hit me extra hard. Last night I was so angry at her and the political nightmare our country has become that I could even make art. Today at least was better and I could make something!

Palest pink brushes
The edges of white flowers.
Apples begin here.


The Exploding Inner World

Tumblr reminded me of this quote I posted a while back, it felt fitting to revisit today

"To traverse the exploding inner world, a person needs to be able to not only name what’s going on but to cultivate themselves to be present with whatever shows up, learning over time how to welcome the discord."
- Deirdre Fay

Although our friend IK left this world 7 years ago yesterday, it is always the 10th it hits me hardest. Almost as if it took an entire day to integrate the loss and shock. Whenever I hit this date blip I feel shame, the echo of the shame I felt when IK committed suicide over how wrapped up we were caring for my Mother.

Teaching gave me a little boost, but much of the day I was in a fog. Astounded by the death toll, the ghoulish politicians, and stewing over trauma memories. No surprise I dozed outside rather than yard work.

A haiku for a groggy Friday afternoon.

Dozing in sunlight.
Apple blossoms nod along.
This moment is whole.


Mom’s 77th

‪Today is my Mother‘s birthday. She would have been 77. ‬

I consider all my students, including the new one who came this week, aged 99, and think, that’s so young!

‪When I tell people why my energy is low, they feel like they get this heaviness, they know how to respond. Oh, that sucks… imsorryforyourloss… mumble.‬..

‪When your abusive parent dies your grief is complicated.

If you’re currently doing trauma therapy to heal said abuse? You get complications galore in your grief.‬

I’m sorry for my loss. Losses, there’s so many when you have a parent with a disordered personality. Loss of safety, loss of parental support, loss of identity, loss of confidence, and loss of stability. To name merely a few.

I’m proud of how much I accomplished without any direction aside from the urging of my heart to run in the opposite direction of the example my Mother set. I finally had to admit I couldn’t save my Mother and saved myself instead.

In contest to my complicated grief today, I was showered with love at the bakery after driving across town to our favorite place. I was told how I’m “always a shining light” and offered a hug. At work the director told my new manager that my work, which doesn’t make the community center a lot of money, provides an important service.


November Blues

Realizing I haven't posted since my birthday. I had a bit of a slump around my birthday, just spent some downtime, teaching classes and resting on many levels.

I've since been regrouping on all the tasks to complete after finishing my Advanced training in Integrated Movement Therapy, seeing clients, having meetings with my mentor, writing. Then it was October, which arrived uncharacteristically wet. We were overwhelmed with garden produce, unable to get to a lot of it processed.

A guest in October left leaving us feeling exhausted and anxious. About the time it felt like my energy was picking up, well the election happened. The next day each of my three yoga classes had students crying in them, which was a lot of energy to contain and hold gently, tenderly. I was exhausted utterly at the end of that day, the next morning I awoke with a fever and sore throat. That quickly turned into a hacking cough. Missed classes, came back to teaching too soon, relapsed and ended up missing out on the first real rest and treat I'd planned for myself at a yoga & art retreat out at the Oregon Coast.

I'll be wrapping up the last of my to-do items before applying to my internship, I'm not too far off my original goals for my program. I'm grateful to have been able to keep focused on this goal while at the same time working on completing my business plan. This week I'm submitting my application for a small seed grant for starting my business, which I'll be using to pay for internship costs. Things are coming together nicely even with needing some downtime around my birthday.

I'm trying to keep focused on all the I've been getting done, because once again this year November has rolled in with rain, dark, and some serious blues.

Trying to be gentle with myself. November and December bring together the anniversaries of 3 deaths: My Dad (step-father) died in December 2000, the a little over 11 months later my biological father died in November 2011. Next month also marks the first year since my Mother died last December. The year my Mother did her best to blow up our lives, that all started in November, continuing on through into the New Year. When I keep in perspective that these last two months of the year have just held a lot of grief.

Which means this year won't be the year the blues don't stroll on into my life in November. Another year of practicing appreciating what I am getting done and reminding myself that these blues aren't here forever and in a few weeks the light will slowly begin to return.


Bittersweet Anniversary

Yesterday marked two years since CK and I have been legally wed. This year marks our sixth wedding anniversary, the traditional gifts being candy or iron to signify either sweetness or strength.

Today she's on her way to the Allied Media Conference. Our ability to end up traveling on or around anniversaries has been a constant theme since the first one. The exact dates themselves being less important than our joy in the passing of each year together.

We're living a pretty different life then when we began our married life together. Both of us are now running our own businesses, I'm not even working in tech any longer. We've moved to the far southwest hills of Portland, firmly in the suburbs and enjoying it. We garden even more now, we've adopted two dogs, and we've survived a whole lot of strife.

While this should feel like our season of celebration, this time between the anniversary of our right to legal marriage and the anniversary of our joining our lives together in public ceremony, it feels hard to really celebrate after Sunday's mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The largest mass shooting in United States history, but only the latest incident of violence against the LGBTQ+ community.

The Persian poet Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī wrote, "Is weeping speech?"


Imagine that every encounter you have with a new person is guarded. Do I talk openly about having a spouse, which could be kept "neutral"? When the new person inevitably refers to my "spouse" as my husband, do I feel safe correcting that person or do I let it slide because I don't have the time or energy to open myself up to possible confrontation? While recently flying with CK the airline staff at the check-in counter checked me in and referred to CK as, "Mr. K.", making both assumptions about gender, perhaps just not fully paying attention. Given the tension and stress in airports, was it worth our time and the potential for greater consequences to correct that person about gender, calling out that we're queer? Am I going to lose students if they find out my spouse is a "wife", not a "husband"?

We're lucky, far luckier than many. We live in a pretty liberal city, we're not the only queer people in our neighborhood, we're white, and we have a lot of access to things that make life easier. CK's family loves and accepts us fully. We have a multitude of friends who believe in us and love us. That said, we're grateful for two dogs that bark a lot in addition to a security system.

Imagine that every single day you wake up to the knowledge that there are not only countries in the world where you could be killed for loving who you love, but that there parts of the country you don't feel entirely safe traveling. When CK and I travel, within the country we are both citizens of, we often carry copies of a durable power of attorney for each of us, just to ensure that we would be able to help the other in the event of a medical crises. Imagine making that part of your pre-travel check-list.

Imagine that every single day you walk against a society where people think it is a bigger tragedy that more people like you weren't killed. You might say that this is just one, isolated, extremist preacher, but I have absolutely no doubt that there are people who share his opinion.

That's every day if you're queer. Maybe that's all you've got to carry. You are white and male. You felt accepted, valued, and loved by your family. You had friends and fit in at school. You went to college, graduated, found a satisfying career, found joy in the love of another person....

Stop there. because once you start expressing that your love for another person does not fit within the norms of society you stop feeling valued and accepted. Yes, maybe your friends, family, and boss accept you, value you, but you spend every day knowing that a significant part of society condemns you over who you love. That's the best case scenario if you live in a country that doesn't outlaw your very existence.

Just try to imagine that as the best case scenario. Most people don't have it that way. They don't experience an easy time at school, they struggle to try and fit in, they're not male or white, and they lacked the kind of resources that made getting an education and higher paying career possible.

Now imagine you grew up in a family that derided you, abused you physically, made fun of you, called you names, perpetuated verbal sexual abuse that filled you with shame and self-loathing, made you question yourself constantly, and left you feeling worthless. Imagine that every day you make your way forward, working for good in the world, fighting against the ingrained belief that you are a failure, a disappointment.

That kind of family of origin and the daily weight of homophobia is my everyday experience. I'm a queer woman from a toxic family. My Mother went to her deathbed telling people sadly about my "lifestyle" and making sure I knew that I owed her everything since I was lucky she didn't "get rid of" me.

Today I spent 15 minutes weeping in my van in a parking garage in downtown Portland. Struck with overwhelming feelings of failure, worthlessness, and self-loathing and trying to take in a beautiful email from my teacher telling me how much pride she has in work I've done. Some days are like that. The Buddha's last instruction* was to make a light of ourselves, to shine so that others might also find a way to liberate themselves from suffering.

Some days it is hard to be a light in a dark world.

A friend of mine posted the following (added emphasis is mine) and I think it sums up how I'm feeling today.

I'm so tired. Thank you to the allies who are raising the hard conversations ... I don't have the heart for it right now. I see you challenging friends, family, the media, and it matters to see your support. Please find a way to sustain that passion. Thank you to the few people who are gun owners who have said you don't need an automatic weapon to hunt or protect your families. You're right, but I do not have it right now to fight that fight. And thank you to the people who care enough to say, "are you okay?" Keep saying that - not just to me, of course, but for our collective healing, our humanity. It's not okay that we have to watch this turmoil, it's not okay that many of us have faced threats, exclusion, and judgment - for years and years, not just because of this. This event rips the scabs off of our hearts, to be sure - but this is bigger than that. Are we okay? Start asking that. We are not. Collectively, humanity really needs a reality check. Get the fuck over yourselves and be part of the solution. Don't pray for me, stand next to me. Don't insulate yourself, be uncomfortable with difference. Don't allow politicians to fuel divisive hate - all for personal gain ... check them. Tell them it's not okay. There are plenty of opportunities, find them. But most of all, don't forget these moments of horror and be comfortable again next week.

Please. Don't get comfortable. Don't go numb.

Speak up, stand up, walk beside us. Don't forget this with the next excitement that comes in the news cycle.


*The Buddha’s Last Instruction
by Mary Oliver

“Make of yourself a light,”
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal — a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
even green.
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire —
clearly I’m not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.