Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.

30Mar/200

Ups and Downs

Had some unexpected, positive news today. Something that connects to the work I’ve been doing to promote my Aging into Vitality practice, an invitation to connect with a professional, medical group for “Lifestyle Medicine”!

I also had 14 people, at least, come to online chair yoga today! I upgraded to the pro account and we now have plenty of time for people to say hello and connect. I’m excited to get this all going despite being fixated about how I look on camera.

These things helped keep my mood up, and I’m so grateful as it is hard not to get down. Between thoughts of my Mother & family and watching the infection & death rates climb, it can feel heavy. After doing some cleaning I finally took a short nap with the dogs on the sofa, I can’t make it through most days without a nap.

Am I doing enough to protect us? Am I keeping well or collapsing? I worry about this most times I take a nap. What will the new normal be?

25Mar/200

Highs and Lows

I held a Yoga in Chairs today and 14 people came! The online teaching thing is working! This filled me with energy and gratitude!

By bedtime the weight of the rising infection and death rates rising, set against the backdrop of politicians demanding that we get back to work, siphoned off the morning’s energy and took more on top of that.

I felt exhausted all afternoon. Lunch depleted me. I made the effort to make up a slightly different version of tofu salad and didn’t enjoy it. Food felt hard today.

A student got hit by a fraud attack, falling for a PayPal-themed social engineering after paying me online. People can be so terrible.

I finished making a card for a kid who just had her birthday Monday and was really bummed put that everything got cancelled. That helped as I felt increasingly sad all day, I’ll mail it tomorrow, maybe along with another handmade postcard.

24Mar/200

Online Teacher

Yesterday I tried a mini class and there were a lot of bumps. Today I did another one, four students came, and people paid me!!

I’ve felt so behind my peers getting to this point, needing to manage my anxiety and prioritize my family. I’m so grateful CK’s job is secure in all this crises; I didn’t have to scramble and could take a week to become an online teacher.

There’s still some fine tuning, better directions for my students, but I’m so grateful to be at this point! I’m getting yoga and community to people again.

The weirdness that comes up for me around financial success, that’s my normal and why I’m an exception for in-person therapy right now.

20Mar/200

Bittersweet

CK has been even less enthused about food than usual, it’s the anxiety. That’s really the catch all answer to most things. It’s the anxiety. Oregon has a lot of extra uncertainty because we’re even more screwed in the testing department.

In response, I made an effort today to get a few more groceries before the expected “shelters in place” order. The pickup order didn’t go smoothly, I was late for a virtual tea. I saw a dear friend at the store and we had to be distant. Then I discovered the thing I tried to get CK in the pickup order wasn’t quite followed.

A student left a voicemail when I was in the store asking me to call back. I realized I was afraid of hearing someone had died. Realizing that is what is very likely coming for each of us; hearing terrible need of loss.

I found out that MSCC is closed until April 28, at the earliest. I’ll be paid the hours I should have worked through April 1, then I’ll be laid off, making me eligible for unemployment. I shouldn’t be surprised if it extends, possibly to June.

It all left me feeling rather down.

Then I called the student back. All is mostly well. It’s been a week since Yoga in Chairs, she and her husband are missing it and can’t remember the movements we do. Her husband began attending this winter after a stroke and the class has really supported his recovery.

A week without class is starting to show. Although he’s still physically stronger, but his other healing isn’t doing s as well. The many neuro-protective exercises I add to the class have been a big boost. It wasn’t until the classes abruptly stopped that they realized just how much I’m helping!

I reassured her that online classes were coming and I do online sessions if they want to come up with a sequence just for them. When she apologized for being so overwhelmed sounding I reminded her that we’re living in unprecedented times, overwhelm is part of the scenery here.

I am feeling proud of my work. I’m feeling despair that the only answer to this pandemic is to isolate. I miss my students.

18Mar/200

Celebrating & Mourning Resilience

This whole pandemic thing is making my anxiety unhappy. I’m really grateful for dogs, they bring joy to us every day. It wasn’t an easy day and I was extra happy to hang out in the sunshine in our yard with them this afternoon.

I've worked so hard the past several years to get my nervous system out of the state were I can'tsleep because I'm sure it isn't safe. My hypervigilance is flared up, telling me that it has been right all this time, the world isn’t safe!

I went to therapy in person. SAFE/EMDR cannot be done remotely. It really isn't safe. While therapists ate being encouraged to use an online tool, they are allowed to make exceptions for folks who have “complex cases”.

Like mine. Yay, I’m Complex. I get to keep working on my trauma history that drowns me in shame, especially where it interacts with money. I’m really relieved I have this option even if it is a mixed bag.

I’m so angry. I’ve spent the past five years reinventing and healing myself after tech burnout/Mom breakdown. I was just getting going and now I’m stopped. I got our yoga room more organized today so I can start doing online classes. More reinventing. It isn’t wasted, but it is exhausting and sad.

My therapist was thrilled to hear that I had already asked CK to help me out with my sudden loss of job. I’m already aware how much teaching helps me manage my mental health.

We worked a little on the current memory. It revealed some details that left me celebrating how resilient I was, and am. How I found my own ways to soothe myself, I had to since my Mother was unable to set an example of this. I began finding creative ways to isolate and soothe from my terrifying family at such a young age.

I was such a bad ass, compassionate, peaceful little kid.

I’m integrating the rage I feel because I had to become that kid. I love her and I’m amazed at her, again and again. Between my family and the 70s/80s, no one was looking out for her.

10Jul/142

July 2014 Update

tap. tap. tap. Hey, is this thing on?

I feel that at least a short summary on all the things that have been going on is long over due.

By October of last year work became intolerable to the point of triggering my PTSD and my Mother flat out told me that she didn't want to work with me/us to live together or even have a relationship with me. In early November 2013, as I was trying to put on Ignite Portland, Mother pulled the granddaddy of all tantrums in order to get her own way and strike out in one massively hostile, abusive, dangerous action. And I? Well, I just had to stop and was encouraged by HR to go on short-term disability.

I was granted the benefits for two months, but instead of personal recovery I had a couple of frantic months where I was still dealing with Mom's stuff and hostile behavior. I also frantically looked for another job. Then day came where I was supposed to go back to work and I really just kind of halted, the human equivalent of a core dump. My health care providers told me to stop all of it and sleep, take walks with the dog, make art, read and take lots of hot baths. There's new medications too, which have helped me to start sleeping again and keep my PTSD at a more manageable level. I have also officially left my position at my old company.

So I run errands during the weekdays and have been working on organizing more things around the house. Spending a couple of years constantly dealing with my Mother's stuff has had me taking quite a few trips to Goodwill to get rid of things I realize I no longer use, read, wear, etc. A friend of mine and I created two new flower beds in our yard last month, one in the back and the other right outside the front door. I love that whenever arriving home or leaving, the first thing we see now are flowers.

My health care providers remind me that I am doing the necessary work of healing after years of exhausting work from being on-call for so many years and the even harder work of healing the wounds from the abusive relationship with my Mother. Lately there's been more good days than bad, which helps me feel like there's "progress".

Still, there are days were I find it hard to get myself to leave the house. Seeing old co-workers causes panic attacks. News or contact by my Mother causes a week of nightmares and days-long anxiety. Finding yet another box of her hoarded, expired medication exhausts me. I'm told that the level of breakdown and extreme exhaustion I was at in December was pretty severe and recovery may take a long while. I have been strongly encouraged to "retire" early from high tech positions and instead teach yoga and start selling my artwork.

If I were to be hoping to return to tech, my doctor has said that she would consider releasing me to that kind of work until January at the earliest. However, my care providers have enthusiastically released me to start teaching occasional yoga classes. I'm going to be trying to get on the substitute teacher list at some of the community centers, athletic clubs, and yoga centers.

A June Wedding!

I also am now legally married to CK, which is amazing and wonderful. In early June Oregon's ban on same-sex marriage was overturned and we got our license within hours of the legal ruling. On June 14th we were legally wed in our backyard with a few close friends, CK's Mom & Step-dad, and sister were in attendance.

I've been adding a few new recipes to Vegan Nosh. I love that my food photography has improved so much from the class CK and I took together last year. I've found a linoleum block carving class the day before my birthday and have broadly hinted to CK that I'd love us to go together.

This weekend I will be attempting to spend some time at the World Domination Summit. Ticket was bought a year ago, when spending a crowded weekend with a few thousand people sounded fun. Giving myself permission to just go for the things I want to go to.

29Jan/100

The Body That Practices

I finally brought my notes together into a rough draft of the workshop on Metta Yoga, "Union with Loving-Kindness". I've been thinking about this for so long and tonight a question from a Dharma Sister wondering if I'd set a date in a few weeks reminded me I needed to not loose focus. I'd brought up to Hogen that I was deeply committed to teaching this workshop, that I see it is so necessary to cultivate love and compassion for the body that practices.

Once I started writing down times and what practice went where I was surprised at how quickly I brought it together. A morning introducing Metta practice before moving into Asana to warm the body and open the hips before resting. Sharing lunch, including some time to just eat, perhaps even 10 minutes of silent eating before people talk. Then gather people back together for discussion about the body, how we view it, how we compare it, and how we stop that cycle in favor of cultivating gratitude and compassion for it. Deep focus on Pranayama after discussion before moving into another hour of Asana practice to open the heart and focus the mind. Time to practice Metta during meditation and then ending in full Savasana.

There it was, a full day of yoga built around Loving-Kindness practice, cultivating love for our body. A part of me feels like a big fake. I have a lot of days where I rush to put my clothes on, even more disappointed with my body after weight loss than I was when I weighed 290 pounds! I certainly have times when I feel entirely unqualified to teach anything and no one wants to hear about my experiences.

And then I'm brought back to center. I become present to my body, that which supports me even on days like today when I don't feel very good. I've become better at recognizing when I need to rely upon the loving support and encouragement from CK, my friends, my Dharma family, and even my Mom. These people are all my Sangha, the good company of people seeking the Way. Like falling backwards into the thousand arms of Avalokiteśvara, I let myself feel the support of all of those hands of my Sangha and through that find belief in the truth they see in me in those moments I am unable to see it myself.

I am grateful for the belief of my Sangha and for my body which supports my practice, the Sagha of me.

8Dec/090

Loose Ends

I taught my last Tuesday class at Dishman tonight. I was a little sad before heading out, but felt OK once I got teaching. Which is usual.

I was surprised to end up teaching a more vigorous class including some sun salutations to warm everyone up since it has been so cold (for Portland standards). The requested hip & leg openers got right into some of the "crunchy" congested energy of my hips. The left one doesn't hurt as badly after all the acupuncture earlier today.

It was another long session focusing on detoxifying the meridians. More of the heart-protector again. Some discussion about the energy being caught in the muscles being anger. Not the kind of overblown rage that we often think of as anger, but the energy that arises to set a firm boundary. Something that was denied or taken from me growing up.

In five element acupuncture anger also represents the energy of spring that causes buds to open. It is the energy of rebirth and creativity. It is represented by wood. This is the block that stands out most dramatically.

The needles went into the surface of the back, the tender points between the shoulders, and tears came and stayed for a while. Not hard, just constant. It was a long session, sitting for only 10 minutes before lying on my side, wrapped in blankets except for the bare back for the needles and feeling the energy zoom around.

After teaching a delicious potato & broccoli soup for dinner made by CK while I was teaching. She's been working while I've been finishing up a couple of small art pieces. All the energy drained out of me about 90 minutes ago and I'm hoping I'll sleep better tonight.

4Nov/090

Ch… ch… Changes… (and a simple novel)

I'm still kind of stumbling around mentally after that snapshot of the Inner Critic moment. I am considering the suggestion of giving her a "non-threatening" name, so I can talk to her. I thought about staying home on Monday after taking that picture but went out instead to the women's Dharma group I participate in. I was glad I went even though I felt very resistant to it.

Tuesday I talked with CS at Dishman and resigned from teaching there now that CC & EB have said they will take over the two classes. Feels weird even now typing it. Felt big and shaky doing it. I immediately got off the phone with him and went to Dishman to teach a class. That felt even weirder. I've not told them yet, I'll bring it up over the next 5 weeks, my last classes. I'll officially end teaching at Dishman on December 20.

And I have no where to teach. I've been talking about teaching at our Zen center, but I have a whole lot of back-and-forth feelings about it. In some part I'm worried that the space, so amenable to Zen practice, is not the best for yoga practice (carpeting, everywhere). I sent a message over to a new studio in my neighborhood today and have been chatting with a new studio in Northwest Portland.

I've been considering other changes too. Looking very strongly at what I'm doing at work, what my motivations are for that work, and considering all the feelings I have about work carefully. At the very least it might be good for me to do the practice of writing my resume (it has been nearly 8 years since I did that) and see what kind of response I get to it. Might convince me to tough out this rough patch, might remind me that I do possess a lot of skills, and it might be a new step on my path.

And I've been letting myself wholly enjoy a good novel. I picked up Sunshine at Powell's the other day, it was on sale, on an end cap as I walked through and I've always enjoyed Robin McKinley's books. It is fun to be reading something so lighthearted, relatively, compared to my stacks of poetry, Dharma and yoga books!

19Oct/090

Transition Practice

Stayed home and rested much of the weekend. I still feel like my energy just deserts me at times, but the head/ear pain has subsided. I'm feeling a bit gloomy that I have 5 more doses of the antibiotics. They're working but they make me feel a bit nauseated and leave my mouth tasting as though I have a handful of pennies in it.

I taught a class on Sunday that ended up with many adjustments, to such a degree that it was good practice to stay with compassion even while I felt frustration arise. When I finally gave space, silence to it I am able to see that frustration really arises out of the fear that my students will feel like I don't give individual attention fairly and that I worry some students may need assistance but I am often asked to help a very stiff, over-achieving student.

Today I took a big step in my teaching. I've started to contact friends who are also yoga teachers to see if any of them want to take over my classes at Dishman at the beginning of the year. Right now I have the luxury of working out details to offer a class at my Zen center. I see it more of a way to enrich my practice of teaching by letting it become even more deeply co-rooted to the Dharma. I'm also checking around at other studios to see about teaching a class somewhere else.

I think I am finally being able to let go of the "guaranteed money" of teaching at the community center. I have these two classes, I'm always on the schedule, and I get paid regularly. Not a lot, but for the past 4 years it has become something of my personal fund for books, a couple of my tattoos, and clothing. Once I could start to let go of that I could start to approach people I'd really like to take over my class.

I have a big soft spot in my heart for these classes. I've learned so much in teaching them and I want to leave them feeling as though I've done everything I can to support those classes continuation. I believe at least one student will follow me when I move to the Dharma center, so perhaps I'll get to experience that connection to my first teaching practice as I move into new waters of teaching.

And I've been having fun working on two "Artist Trading Cards". Autumn themed and I've been playing around with pressing leaves then decoupaging them down. On one I've drawn a very simple tree in pastels against a grey, about-to-rain sky. Another has three leaves on muted, smeared oranges and yellows.

The Autumn rain awoke me early this morning, before the alarm, and I snuggled down a bit with a cat while listening to it on the roof (I love that my bedroom is under the attic so I can hear the rain on the roof). The day that ended with an orange-y sunset peeking through dark grey clouds. All that in mind, a haiku for the rain.

Autumn Downpour

Dawn and hard rain sound,
Thrum of water on my roof.
Autumn serenade.