Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hit Pause, This Feels Wrong

I talked to my therapist today about the struggle around intimacy I've felt in my relationship. I told her how I'm really not angry I just feel a bit lost and miss the feeling of connection on that level. I immediately burst into the tears that were just barely contained this morning.

She summed it up perfectly by noting that she imagined, given all the things she knows about from the the years we've been working together, that I must be feeling abandoned. Part of it is the newness of the relationship, we're still fitting together so withdrawal feels very big and scary. Once it was stated that way I could see how it certainly triggers old programming -- the numerous times in childhood and into adulthood I'd become attached to someone they would either change & hurt me or we'd move away & I would lose that connection. It feels so big that it is very hard not to feel like it is my fault regardless of being assured it isn't.

What I'm also finding really difficult is that being reassured, reminding myself of my accomplishments, sometimes doesn't make me feel better. In the rush of relief there is also a flood of absolute grief and the shaky realization of just how much shame, guilt is in there. CK made a point this morning to remind me that the distance we feel right now isn't anything I've done and I felt tears heat up my eyes. Same as when AM makes sure I know he is OK, that he isn't angry with me. I'm just shaking inside with relief and the realization that I'd fallen back into preparing to be punished. Yes, it is so good and helpful to hear these assurances from my loved ones, but it also seems to expose a raw hurt that I'm not entirely sure what to do with.

My therapist gave additional suggestions to my idea that I should distrust my first emotional response. She said I should just hit pause in those moments so I can really check in. She also thinks that in that pause I need to remind myself of my accomplishments, how those things are true and whatever rush of anxiety or fear I'm experiencing is based in the bad information I was given as an impressionable child. AM commented that I can also remind myself how I'd felt afraid in the past and needn't have been.

I finally voiced the anger I was feeling. I resent that the rest of my life will be filled with moments where I have to question myself, rein in the emotional response, and correct it. Like having to do some chore, vacuuming, at unexpected moments, for the rest of my life. Yes, with practice it will become easier, but it will always be there and it is so damn unfair. In these feelings I hear my 11 year-old voice, sobbing out the words, "This is so unfair!" to an angry mother who refused to hear any other viewpoint, would not hear any words I spoke.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Writing a Voice

Last night on the way home from the dharma center AM and I were talking about the concept of the inner critic. I've noted often that I don't often get a tangible voice in my head telling me I should be ashamed, that I'm bad, that something is too ambitious for me, etc. Every once in a while one pops up, but now I am most often able to spot the absurdity of the statements it makes.

AM commented that perhaps I should stop trying to figure out why I don't get a tangible inner critic to work with. Stop comparing my experience to others and assume that I should be the same. Start working with the way my mind works, moving forward from what does happen. I think I hear people in my sangha talk so often about the work they do with their inner critic I feel a bit strange that I don't seem to have one to really work with in the same way.

Most of the time I get what feel like just rushes of emotion, wordless and omni-present. Occasionally my mind just checks out of the moment and is thinking about work, teaching a class, planning what to say at some even in the future. I don't even really notice it starting to wander off until I gain awareness of how far I've moved out of the present. I noted in the discussion last night there are times it as almost as if someone just happened to stroll by and pop a bag over my head leaving me blind, deaf, and speechless to the present. It makes it difficult to try and resist, work with it.

Now I try to first figure out what the emotion is, or at least what is on the top of the layers. I really try to stay present, check in and determine if the emotion appears to be excessive for the given moment. I have to pull down through more recent experiences and remind myself that something won't blow up. The first emotional instinct may quite often be out of place, an echoing call of the past intruding upon a future that is far safer. It is such effort to do this and I feel like I mess it up all the time.

The emotions, they're what I can call the inner critic; like feeling as if I mess up all the time. My inner critic doesn't yell at me; perhaps I can envision some sorcerous creature that summons forth the crashing emotions and unleashes them upon me. That's what I think was coming through when I titled a blog "Thrashed on by the inner critic".

Maybe writing is another door as well, when I write about the emotions the voice comes out more. "I mess it up all the time" is certainly a voice talking and not just the raw emotion of inadequacy, failure, and shame. Those are definitely the feelings that are coming through when I think about struggling with my anxiety. Expressing those feelings through writing suddenly gives them a voice. Not that I think I'll take up arguing with myself in my blog, but I do have the opportunity to be mindful of a voice coming up, saying exaggerated and hurtful things about myself.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

command line metta

The impending rain was the last straw in my deciding not to bicycle to the office today. I'd woken up sometime before 4AM with a start (AM had crashed into the nightstand), then needed to go to the bathroom, then Phoebe waking me up to pet her. I dozed fitfully after that until the alarm sounded at 6:30. The thing that needed to give was my desire to bicycle in today.

I phoned CK to let her know, feeling a bit bad for doing so. The route to use had seemed a contentious topic, so calling to say I wasn't up for it regardless felt a bit silly. She was understanding, of course, agreeing that I am not equipped at all to deal with rain (either on my person or my stuff).

Work was filled with the usual work stuff, including an inability to access the documents I keep on Google. Some new measurements of the corporate IT and/or security folks. One more reason to give thought to looking to be somewhere smaller. Made some progress on some things, little on others. My head ached by the end of the day.

Quick snack at home, AM had made samosas and I had one with a little sambar. Then off to teach yoga. Tonight I rushed off to the dharma center afterward because they needed someone to chant and do bells. I volunteered because no one else had and somehow my mind things this is somehow a "make up" for bailing out on them last Thursday.

Tuesdays are seated meditation (zazen) followed by walking meditation (kinhin) then discussion, a bit more zazen, and ending with chanting service. I like the idea of this a lot, but since I finish teaching a little past 7PM each Tuesday it means to go I must wolf something down in the car on the way over to sitting at 7:30PM. Now having done it I can confirm that it really makes for a long day, even if I hadn't started out short on sleep.

We discussed the wrap up, well for me first discussion about the Bhramaviharas ("Divine Abodes") and I mentioned how difficult it is for me to apply these to myself. That I find it far easier to cultivate these things when I deal with others. Yes, things are still challenging when I interact with people closely, but it is far less effort to practice these states of being with others.

I especially mentioned how doing metta practice for myself is such a challenge, that is the time when I am most distracted. So distracted I don't even notice I'm no longer attending my meditation; I don't consciously distract myself so much as mentally shift to other activities. HB has suggested practicing in a mirror, but that really is difficult and even upsetting at times. GR offered the idea of doing it a different way, perhaps writing it out.

When we had our second sitting period I tried this. Not literally, no pen and paper. I envisioned the feel of my fingers on a keyboard, typing out the words. My mind saw the letters appearing on my monitor, in a terminal window. This variation helped, my mind stayed more focused on the metta practice and aware of the potential to wander off. After chanting service I made sure to share that the "writing" suggestion was very helpful.

And I'm finally in bed again. My right side especially hurts. From the side of the tail bone down the entire leg, lighting up the hip and knee particularly. I felt so drained from work today, not energized by it at all. I am trying to not lose track of how tired I am and how the down shift in the weather to mist, drizzle and rain leaves me feeling chilled and slow. These things and the rush of anxiety last week have left me feeling thin again. Some of the irritation at work is truly magnified by these things and not just work itself.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Grinding Gears

After my massage today I feel more tired, the pain across the lower back is less intense, and the raw emotional energy right at the top has settled a little. Not enough, I still feel tired out and a bit thin on resources, but a little better. While Beth worked I could feel some of the intensity rushing up to the top, pain and energy moving around. Reached the point where I was no longer talking so much as I was just breathing. Sending the energy of the breath through my body, drawing in renewing energy and moving it through the areas clamoring from Beth's attention.

Made sambar in the pressure cooker! Comes out very tasty and very quick. I've really wanted to make it for a while, it has been several months since the last time I made it. CK met me at Beth's and we rode back to the house together. We all hung out and played a round of Magic.

Everyone is tired today. Tired from lack of sleep, an excess of emotional energy, and too much to do. It was interesting to see how communication degrades when reserves are lower. Almost as if our gears are turning at different speeds and the teeth no longer connect up as neatly. Trying to be mindful of this, not reading anything further into the evening.

Tomorrow will be very busy, rather long. Going to try to bicycle into work. Ride home, teach yoga, then go to Tuesday zazen, discussion and service. A person is needed for Ino duties and I said I could come. AM will bring me something to eat quickly in the car and we will just get there on time for sitting. I'm glad to be going to a Tuesday evening gathering, but it will be a very long day!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Don't Listen to Instinct

In the early morning hours I had dreams of being lost in some airport in the desert. Separated from both AM and CK, phone not working correctly, not fluent in the language spoken around me, and entirely disoriented, lost. "Crisis dreams" are what AM calls them. I have all kinds of variations on them, often related to travel.

It had been such a rush of a day yesterday, my anxious feelings still present making it hard to communicate with either AM or CK well. Going hiking in the Gorge, having lunch out, going to a movie (found it pretty lame... glad I saw it at a second run brew pub), dropping off the visiting friend, getting CK's bike, going back to my house just to grab stuff and bicycle to CK's flat. I was missing being at home, missing my cats, and still utterly thrown off by trying to work with the anxiety CK was experiencing.

We'd hit one of those bumps last night; where we freeze up and fear rushes into the place where our connection resides. It becomes excruciatingly difficult for me, own fears that I've hurt her, that I've screwed up fundamentally, from rushing to the forefront. Certainly one of those areas where I have to fight the instincts that clamor. Easy to link that directly to dreams of being lost and disconnected from the people I love. And so I woke up with tears already welling up in my eyes.

Just barely time enough to get the tears calmed down, hiding just below the surface again. Time to reconnect then rush off to teach class. So grateful for 3 students only, one of them CK. Having to rush off to teach was frustrating because CK had just told me that she loved me and we were able to be close with less fear. Once I got into the rhythm of class I found it welcome in that it connected me back to the calming of my mind that comes from teaching.

I rode over to New Seasons from the community center to pick up some DLPA, the Arbor Lodge store specially stocks what seems to be the only vegan variety available in the U.S. Once I got home AM and I decided to run over to India-4-U to see how Kumar and Alka were doing as well as pick up a few things we've run out of. We had some very tasty lunch at Red & Black and picked up a "Bake in Black" t-shirt from Sweet Pea Baking Company.

The rest of the day AM and I have just hung out, talking, reading, and watching things on the Science channel. I feel just worn down, absolutely exhausted on so many levels. I'm so incredibly grateful I have a massage scheduled with Beth tomorrow, I really feel the need to have her help with the muscle spasms in my back and the energy of emotion that is so hot right now.

Just sitting with it I'm starting to get a feel for the subtle, nearly voiceless ways in which my PTSD manifests. Sometimes it is so obvious, so silly that it is easy to laugh at it and know it is wrong (like this morning having the thought that it is so hard for CK to have space to cry because I'm so busying crying all the time).

Children who are abused cannot comprehend that something is wrong about the adults around them and therefore assume they are at fault, to blame for the situation and/or deserving of the punishment. No matter how many times my rational mind may understand that something is in no way caused by me, a part of me reacts in shame for having done wrong. It becomes another practice to resist the initial instinct that signals I've done wrong and/or am in danger. I know that these past couple of weeks I've been trying to practice this but it doesn't come easily yet and I feel as though I tire easily.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Absolute Beginner

I feel really resistant to the practice of writing tonight. I really don't want to write and am relying upon the "practice" part of this to get me going. I'm tired physically and mentally. My emotions still feel right up at the surface, unsettled. Maybe not as bad as last July, so some progress, but like my going up hills on bicycle, it feels slow.

AM and I, as well as CK and I, have been talking about going to the NVC (non-violent communication) class being offered by our Zen community next month. Learning how to more compassionately express our needs and emotions to one another. I am looking forward to this chance to learn really useful skills together although it is tough since right now my emotional stuff feels so present and big.

I'm listening to Absolute Beginners right now and there's a sweet irony to it. My feeling so inadequate these past few days, all the emotions and challenges that my family relationships bring up, fits with the idea of a beginner in one view. I don't feel very comfortable being a beginner for the most part. In most everything I do there's some level of anticipatory-anxiety, dread.

There's the other side of being a beginner, the state in Zen described as Shoshin. Shunryu Suzuki was known for saying that in the beginners mind there are many possibilities, in the experts mind there are few. My mind in the state of beginner sees endless possibilities for humiliation, retribution, anger, shame, and utter failure. My inner critic summons up wild waves of fear and blinds me to any other outcomes. The work in retraining my mind is to see the possibilities for joy, for success & accomplishment, pride, happiness, and peace. Not to try and eradicate the thoughts based in fear, just to achieve parity in vision so I perceive the thoughts based in peace equally.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Woke up still tired and wishing I could stay in bed. AM asked if I wanted him to drive me down instead of biking from CK's and part of me wanted to do that. Instead I got up, took a hot shower, we went over to CK's so I could get my bike.

When I got in there I found her looking unrested and hectic, rushing around picking up socks and things, asking me if some socks were mine as I walked in. She revealed that she not slept well again; unsettling dreams cascading into one another all night. Instead of hopping on the bike and rushing off to the morning keynote presentations I sat down and listened to her talk. After a little while and time for many hugs I rode the rest of the way down to the convention center.

CK had told me that she'd been researching jobs for me, not to try and "solve" everything, just to give me ideas. I felt a momentary rush of surprise that she would do that for me, followed by the understanding that of course she'd do this for me, then just gratitude that she wants to be a part of my life all the time, for real. Both things stayed with me all morning. The idea that I really should look at the job market again and the gratitude for the amazing relationships I'm blessed with.

Talks this morning ranged from amusing, to interesting, to rather dry. I logged into
work and exchanged messages about training. I felt less of the feelings of inadequacy that had swelled up in me yesterday and even managed to chat with some people during the morning break. I mentioned the idea of doing a presentation next year on change management and the people I talked with said it was a topic they were interested in.

I was happy to get an email back from CK during the final series of talks letting me know she was feeling better than she had this morning, less exhausted. Shortly after that she popped onto the IRC channel set up for OSCON, we chatted for the last bit I was there. Then I was back on the bicycle to home, I thought it would be a good test since it would be about the same as coming home from downtown.

After I made it home AM and I got some pizza at Hot Lips then picked up a couple of things at
TJ's. Checked into work, let myself look at some job listings on Craigslist just to get an idea, and talked with AM for a while then rode over Prananda for a class. Just myself and another student but Joy held the class anyway. It was a nice class and a good way to transition from OSCON to "normal" again.

Nice having downtime tonight. AM made tortilla soup for dinner and we sat on the deck having some as the sun set. CK is spending time with a friend who is up from San Francisco. We've kept close over messages. It helps to have the easy, immediacy of communication when we're not together. Little reminders of love and desire.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thrashed on by the Inner Critic

Well, this has been a long day. CK and I even slept in some so we'd have more rest and more quiet time together before heading off to OSCON for the day. We felt we were doing a bit better, reconnecting together again. It had been tough yesterday as the sheer pressure of being at the conference together had taken a toll on the somewhat emotional place we'd been in on Sunday. There is just so much mental input, constant noise of people talking, and countless screens to watch.

After having trying to be present through days of feeling a real disconnect from CK, trying to connect, then dumping ourselves into the mass of people that is OSCON, we were really feeling the intensity of the lack connection was producing irritation, anxiety, and just draining us both utterly. I took a bath, we ate a little, and felt somewhat better.

Laying down to cuddle and rest I felt a rush of anxiety come back. The unreasonable flash of panic earlier that the stress of a conference full of geeks would be the end of us was echoed back to me. I finally thought that the anxiety that I'd been experiencing when we'd been together earlier was being recalled too. All of it just flashing through me again. We ended up drifting into sleep.

Sleeping in, waking up without rushing out the door helped as well. And then we were off to the conference. At some point during a series of talks about Perl I just felt the anxiety hit me. I felt so inadequate. I felt utterly outclassed and a poser of a programmer. It felt like I shouldn't be there at all. I didn't like diving back into the boys' club that is technology.

AM and I had dinner together and talked about the just drained, anxious way I was feeling. He was able to note how he just feels lonely without me around. Our friendship is so close that he really feels my absence. In talking to him, in being reassured again that he wasn't angry, wasn't going to treat me to snide comments and coldness like my ex-husband had done so often, I was able to see my fears are too big. He is OK even if his loneliness brings up irritation. He isn't angry at me. He truly wants to help foster the happiness that CK & I have in our relationship. When I'm feeling so anxious it is hard to relax into trusting this, hard practice.

Talking to AM this evening I had a realization about some of the anxiety about feeling inadequate professionally, intellectually at OSCON. The last time I did a conference like this I still weighed at least 80 pounds more than I do now. I still had the body armor of my weight, my long hair, anger, and a carefully constructed persona that included an intense bravado, a "fuck you" attitude.

Because of my practice I don't have any of that anymore. I'm present with all of the feelings of inadequacy that I was distracting myself from. I wasn't expecting to have a run in with my inner critic this week and it hurts. I practically begged to get to come to OSCON, I've been so excited about it.

I ended up not going to the Dharma center tonight. Showing up, leaving the merit list for the week, and pleading illness. Hogen asked if I could sit with all of this and I told him I couldn't there, not in zazen. I was too nauseated and my hips and back hurt so much. Once I'd had some tea and some real food that nausea passed, suggesting blood sugar contributing to some of the feelings of illness.

I'm trying to refocus on the encouraging people I've met. Suggestions of else I could be doing besides programming have occurred to me. There has been things that felt like what I wanted, more community to learn from. Trying to work on that inner critic.

CK had it pegged perfectly, how the inner critic was speaking through me today. In talking about what I want to do, I focused on everything I think I don't do well. I had noted that I'm having a difficult time articulating what I think I'm really good at.

My not being able to articulate my true ability, that is the inner critic with hands over my eyes and blinding me. The ability to clearly detail everything that is not a strength, that's very obviously that critic.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

mad crush of geeks

Today at OSCON was the craziness of the expo floor opening. T-shirts, Mac Air prize give-aways, flying toys, headhunters...

And relationship stuff that feels hard to navigate and that always leaves me feeling a little stressed. Hard to feel connected to either CK (stress and lack of quiet) or AM (because I'm not there).

My back and legs really ache. The combination of biking, tiredness, stress, sitting in conference chairs, standing talking... not so great. I'll be happy for my massage therapy appointment with Beth on Monday.

I'll be happier next week to return to something even slightly resembling "normal" schedule.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I am so tired, exhausted really. My head aches from the effort of attention, sinus pain, and just an ache from having a headache all day. My eyes are tired from processing data on screens large and small. Today I have awoken at 6:15, had a shower, got dressed, bicycled to CK's, discovered a sweaty back from bicycle & a cotton shirt don't mix, changed to a t-shirt of CK's, had toast, bicycled to OSCON, sat in on a very good workshop on PHP, had nearly the exact same lunch as yesterday (not worth elaborating upon... salads), went to what I feel was a terrible workshop on PHP, left early, got gvim working on my Mac, ate some soup, changed clothes, bicycled to Dishman, taught a yoga class, rode back to CK's flat, changed yet again, bicycled back to OSCON, and listened to various presentations & awards (geeky, inspiring, mind-boggling, funny...) until 10PM, and finally CK & I rode back to her flat! I promptly put on my pyjamas and sat down with a thump on the bed.

CK heated up more soup for us, which helps as has the water. Seeing the day up there in a list gives me perspective on why I'm so tired and hurt so much. It is a day that really presses on my resources rather hard. Although there are evening events at OSCON for two more nights, tomorrow won't be so long as CK & I already plan to leave a bit earlier, rest a little, then go to a yoga class. Thursday will be zazen and by then the sheer crush of so many people, so much talk, countless slides projected on screens will make settling into silence such a blessed gift.

The workshop we went to in the afternoon was very disappointing to me. Not only did I find it to not be very professional, even accounting for cultural differences (presenter is from France), but on a level where I felt that economically it wasn't worth the time spent, especially for someone like her who doesn't have a big company footing the bill to attend (which should be her choice to be irritated about, I didn't need to take it on to be annoyed on her behalf). CK finally propelled us towards going home early to rest a bit before I had to teach, plus I'd have time to eat a little. I hadn't wanted to go, wanting to stay and salvage the 90 minutes that weren't useful. She finally noted that I was having a hard time letting it go. And I was. The ride home helped burn off some of it as did fixing something on my Mac that was making it hard for me to work on code projects.

The irritation feels pretty far away now. I can look at the afternoon and spot it, but it lacks the immediacy that was making it hard to let go of. With that time shift I wonder how one irritation in the day might rile up other feelings of irritation that lurk below the surface. It is a slippery slope to follow irritation down into anger.

I used to have the mistaken impression that in Buddhism anger isn't allowed, better yet we somehow transcend it. I asked Hogen about it and he made sure to reinforce to me that it isn't that we never feel anger, that's unreasonable because we will feel anger. It is that we don't give rise to the anger. We don't let it manifest into unkind words spoken out of that heat that is just a few degrees hotter than irritation.

So CK became my important Sanga of one today. A fellow traveller upon the Way who merely noted that I wasn't letting go. Had she not brought me back, giving me perspective, I may have easily let the irritation rise into anger.

Monday, July 21, 2008

OSCON08 by Bicycle

At OSCON today I was telling CK how much I enjoy sharing the experience of being at the conference, learning with her, that it feels very organic and collaborative. So often in the past it felt very competitive, having to prove myself as a woman in unix systems administration. Now at work I more of a coach so there isn't that feeling of collaboration in the same way. Plus this is another way in which she teaches me, we share learning, and that is very precious. I am enjoying sharing the challenge of learning to bicycle again with CK and how I'm able to actually just relax into her taking care of me.

Back at the house after what felt like a long, but possible bicycle ride to the house AM had experienced an unsettled day. We talked about one thing that kept at him was that despite of how Love has been written about but that some people just will not know that kind of connection. I especially liked his comment that we don't find love, we are conduits for the energy of Love in the universe. It reminded me of the idea that we are growing, cultivated by our relationships with one another.

Revisting the Genjo Koan by Bicycle

Oh I slept so poorly last night even having taken some melatonin. I tossed and turned from some combination of pain and travel dreams. That busyness of rushing to a destination, unsettled. I could not help but whimper a little when my alarm went off at 6AM. I hauled myself out of bed and got myself together, onto the bicycle and off to CK's.

I made it a little more quickly to her flat this time and had some breakfast while she finished getting ready. It took us only 10 more minutes to bicycle over to the Convention Center for OSCON. We locked up and watched all the guys walking by with badges on. We laughed at how relieved we were to be there together. She's not been to an event like this before as an attendee and I've not been since 2000.

We got through registration, through the Starbuck's line, and onto our respective sessions. I had all Perl workshops today while she did one on PHP and another on A/B testing. We were fed salads topped with grilled veg and tofu, which was pretty good. Tomorrow she and I both will be in PHP workshops together. I'm looking forward to it a lot.

The ride home was hard since the wind was blowing right down N Williams making the hill climb up to Alberta challenging. Other bicyclists passed me in a parade of faster rides powered by legs more trained than mine currently are. I just kept pressing my feet into the peddles and trying to breathe through my nose, control my breath.

CK asked me later if a year ago I would have thought I'd be commuting on a bicycle. I'm so thrilled that I can do this, very surprised too. I didn't really think it would be possible to find something that I felt both comfortable and safe on. It is intimidating to be out in traffic again, I found the big trucks loud and close as they rushed past me on Russell. As tough as I find the hill up to Alberta, I'm still so grateful to be huffing & puffing my way up it.

In answering her I found myself stumbling over one of Chozen's Dharma talks from last winter. The sangha had been studying Genjo Koan for several weeks. One evening Chozen focused on the image of a boat that reappears in Dogen's lines. She talked about how we feel when on that boat, with nothing but ocean in four directions. How would we see the ocean at that point, how is the boat viewed.

In that kind of situation we tend to cling to the boat, the idea that the ocean is enemy at that point. If we loose the boat, we are consumed by the ocean. We don't see the limitless, boundless, teeming depths of the ocean as our element, we cannot sink into the idea of merging with it, abandoning our little boat and our wish to see land soon.

Chozen taught that our mind is that boat floating upon the boundless ocean of the BuddhaDharma, but our tendency as we age is to close our mind which shrinks that boat. We start telling ourselves that we're too old to learn something, no longer willing to try new things, and believing we're not capable of something. Chozen found herself, at 60 learning how to play piano for the first time.

And I find myself riding a bicycle. My shoulders, mid-back, side ribs and chest ache. We realized that it is most likely because I'm gripping the handlebars with such tension as I learn this skill all over again. Still, I'm making my way through trucks and the whoosh of cars.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Soil in Which I Grow

I'm in a spot where I'm winding down, between laundry loads -- last two are folded & put away, the last for the night is in the dryer. In what I find to be the meditative space of folding laundry I was thinking about the weekend I'd had. The bicycling on Saturday and a day of shared chores & dinner today. The time talking in between to CK and with AM. The feelings that come up around being cared for.

I got back to my laptop after getting the laundry done for the moment, the leftovers put away, and sat down to most lovely message from CK. She commented to me how she used to think of relationships as plants, things to be tended. She said that now she saw each of us as a plant, the relationship is the soil in which we all grow.

My eyes closed to just let the words settle. It is so lovely, so apt.

Hogen has told me that all the terrible things that I have survived can become potent medicine. Something so powerful and healing is able to be distilled of awfulness. I had shared this with CK earlier while lying on the bed upstairs feeling the breeze from off the river move over us. I was very mindful in repeating this to her how hard this is to me, how often I observe myself trying to hide or push away the the parts of my history that arouse shame, fear, deep grieving, and worry.

I thought of our compost pile. The things which make a plant grow big, healthy, and in the case of vegetables, most nourishing. Our vegan house sends that majority of all food waste and scraps into the compost. Quite often things go into a very large container at the side of the sink, the mostly clear plastic presents a view of decomposing plant matter. This stuff that looks rather nasty to my eyes will go out into the pile, be broken down further, mixed with clippings, and existing compost. The stuff will get hot, chemical reactions happening all the time, beneficial stuff culturing & growing until the whole of it steams with energy.

In the end it is a beautiful nourishing thing. The compost builds up the hard, clay soil here, slowing helping what wasn't nurturing much of anything into something that will grow the plants that in turn will nourish us. The growing of food is such a direct and intimate relationship with what we eat; all made more productive by having rich soil, compost.

The somewhat overdone plant analogy is a lotus. Out of the nasty, black muck of a pond's bottom a lotus grows. From the deep darkness it reaches upwards to produce the most radiant of blossoms. The lotus represents purity, renewal, creation -- all because it grows out of the nourishing slime.

So is my history. Damned awful stuff I went through, but out of that nastiness I have not only managed to grow, but now find myself thriving. Like the compost pile, it is all thrown in, stirred around, and in the steaming heat all is distilled into goodness, potent medicine.When I allow myself to feel the range of things, even the nasty stuff, I grow. I grow in the rotting, steaming compost of my past and I grow in love.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Riding my bicycle over the Broadway Bridge for the first time today, with CK riding behind me for support and encouragement, brought me back to wondering why sometimes it is so easy to sink into feeling good about being cared for. Not only that it feels good, but it is easy to sink into it and just be in it. At other times being cared for by another person simultaneously arouses feelings of guilt and unworthiness. I find it impossible to sink into, just relax in the sensation of being cared for. It is pretty easy to look at it and trace back to how fraught my childhood was with the feeling that being cared for had strings attached or that my input on how best to care for me was unnecessary, bothersome.

Today was an easy day. Perhaps it is because I feel so new to bicycling, returning to it after years of not doing it at all. Traffic is more intense, both cars and other bicycles, and the gear has changed a lot too. Immediately back to a beginners mind when it comes to bicycling, so the feeling of being watched out for, kept safe, was helpful and comforting.

I found it harder when CK bought me a book at Powell's. Little twinges of guilt. She makes comments about my birthday coming, hinting at gifts, and I felt small for a moment, off center. I'm wearing the hoodie she bought me at UBC, which I love to wear because it is warm, comfy, and reminds me of CK. When she said she wanted to get it for me I felt, all at once, pleasure & excitement and guilt & discomfort, not wanting to seem a burden.

Similar emotions all rushed up when she gave me a massage in Vancouver. Eventually I was able to relax into her touch, until such time as our energy mutually shifted to being less relaxed. Always so many moments where my initial reaction to her caring, her affection is a feeling of uncertainty and not being worth it. I shift past that immediate response, into reality and the present, sometimes that transition takes longer, feels more rocky.

I make it eventually, able to at least truly feel the way I'm cared for even if I feel the discomfort in it at the same time. Finding some way to be on the mid-span, bridging two extremes. One extreme is the place where I feel shaky, uncertain, ashamed, unworthy, and afraid that if I sink into being cared for it will be suddenly pulled away from me in a way that inflicts humiliation. The other place, the other side of that bridge is where I am fully able to relax into being cared for, trust in it and be nurtured by it.

Broadway Bridge

I rode my bicycle across the Broadway Bridge today. I felt so exposed, so shaky, so frail and vulnerable. The river seems so big and the bridge so long from a bicycle. I've not ever been on any of Portland's bridges in anything other than a car.

Almost like a return to watching the bird on the sidewalk earlier this week; that connection to the delicate and tenuous nature of our existence. In a car you might feel a very big gust of wind coming off of the river or a large truck, but on a bicycle I would feel my arms shake and the frame and I would wobble just a little.

Going over the first time I couldn't bring myself to ride on the right hand side, which I should be doing so faster riders are able to pass me on the left. The rail on the right side looked so very low and open, so much so that I have no appreciation for the beautiful metal-work of the rail, only a feeling of anxiety that I could easily be over the rail and plummeting towards the river. That someone died jumping off of the Hawthorne Bridge earlier this week -- just for a lark, he and his friends were all doing it...

Finally I was off the bridge and waiting at the light. I sat through a green light not realizing that the bicycles have their own light! Riding up Broadway, through the hotel zone and the shopping around Pioneer Square, was a bit unnerving. I even put my foot down once and braked when I should have kept going. Cars jockeying for parking, drivers not even bothering to look for bicycles. Then up the hills to the Portland State University campus, which ended finally and we locked up our bikes.

CK said I had a huge grin on my face when we were standing there at the edges of the Farmers Market. I was still breathing heavily from going up the hills. It just feels so hard. I wasn't down in my lowest gear, but I was pretty low and felt as though I was moving so slowly. CK said I was doing fine and wasn't nearly as slow or shaky as I felt I was (this seems like a theme in my life... my therapist notes that I always evaluate myself far more harshly than others do).

I was so incredibly grateful to have CK riding behind me today, calling out instructions the whole time. She reminded me not to stop suddenly in bicycle traffic, as I had a couple of times due to nervousness in the hotel zone. She gently chided me later for answering my mobile and chatting briefly with AM, "Pull over to talk on the phone". I felt safer and less anxious with her there caring for me.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Today turned out to be less productive and more stressful than I was anticipating. DW came to have lunch with me finally, after changing schedules, over sleeping and coming late. Things went OK until I commented on that I felt sometimes she wasn't very compassionate in her view towards people in general. She got defensive immediately, I withdrew and noted to never mind because I just wanted her to have a good trip. She immediately stormed off to her car. Upon my insisting she talk to me she made a point to defiantly light a Camel.

This blow up is really a long time coming. When I split up with her father she really made a lot bad choices that hurt everyone in her life a lot. It culminating her in assaulting a police office and being put into state mandated therapy, at first in a locked up facility. She told me in as many words to stay out of her life.

Per the therapist decision they decided to work with the relationship between DW's father and her, leaving me out. Since I made both DW and her father uncomfortable they were both glad to leave me out. A couple of years passed. DW even made a point in her blow up today to note that she didn't decide to leave me out. I chose not to point out to her that her therapist didn't preclude her from contacting me, rather the decision was to limit family therapy to just her Dad and her.

Later she contacted me a little, making a couple of hesitant phone calls. When she got closer to being released I was invited to come to a final therapy session. At that time DW noted that she just had to be in the present, wouldn't talk about anything that had happened, and was very defensive. When I suggested that there wasn't any "going back" to how things had been years prior, that things would have to be established all over again, including trust, DW told me I was being unreasonable. Just as she expected.

Since then I have seen very little of DW. She has been doing the things she wants to do, even more so now that she is 18. He father continues not to talk to me -- DW tells me it is because I have wounded him so much; I did point out that he hurt me a great deal too. She will come over, occasionally when I've made a point to contact her, for dinners and tell me everything she is up to.

Today I found out that I have just not been living up to the expectations of "Mom". DW really feels a need to have me be in the role of mother for her since her own mother was crazy and abusive. I'm the only person who has ever given any serious effort to the role in her life and that I went on with my life when she told me to get out has apparently been very painful. I was told I should have not listened to her, I should have pushed it on her.

She continues to be so defensive that it was really impossible to get her to see that it isn't blame that I'm laying at her feet, I'm just noting the truth. She didn't want me involved in her life and I listened to her. I've tried to make myself available to her, but she has set priorities to be with her friends and do the things 18 year-olds do. I've often had to be the one to send text messages or leave voice mails to get her to come over and let us know how she is doing.

Ultimately things ended on a more positive note. I think it made it clear to her that although one relationship is gone, we cannot time travel and do it over again, but there is a way for us to build a new relationship. Oddly enough this is practically what I said to her when she was released to her father's custody again. Maybe she's in a better place to hear it now. I hope so.

I don't have a good road map for being a good mother. An 18 year-old, who isn't even my daughter by biology or marriage, wanting me to be a good mom seems to be a really big challenge. I can think of a long list of mistakes I made when I was trying to parent her age 4 through 12. I do believe I owned up to making a mistake with her right away, if not immediately, apologized, and tried to not ever make the same mistake again. But now, how do you suddenly parent an adult?

Kind of moot for a while. DW is off to parts East to see the country. Wander her way around with no responsibilities. I think it is OK that she does this although it is clearly something that my own mother would never have let me do. I was paying bills, paying for college, paying for books, paying for loans, and encouraged to get out of the house as quickly as I could. Pushed into the decision to move in with someone before I was really ready to. It is something I've always kind of wished I could do and now seems even more unlikely.

Maybe by the time she's back I'll have a better handle on her wanting me to really be in a parent role again. Funny how it is totally a role. The only thing keeping it in place is the desire to have it there. She wants, from the way she sounded this afternoon, feels a need to have me play this role for her. There was part of me that just wanted to walk away when she stormed off. I guess some part of me still plays the role too since I went after her instead and despite it looking strange, sitting on the sidewalk next to her car while she talked to me.

Bridge Anticipation

I feel quite a bit better today after aching a lot for days. Iris worked on my very sore left side. My feet, which have been cramping so much, feel better a bit too. I'm relieved since tomorrow CK and I are going to bicycle into downtown together.

I'm going to bicycle on a bridge -- which leaves me feeling a little nervous to be honest. I'm even more excited to get to go bicycling with her than I am anxious about being on a bridge! Since I live in Portland I really need to get over this nervousness or resign myself to never going to the West Side unless I figure out how to take the Townie on MAX or a bus!

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I wanted to write about the ways in which I find being cared for by another person to be both wonderful and a bit scary at times. How sometimes it feels easier when AM cares for me, sometimes it feels easier when CK is doing it. Sometimes it just feels like a struggle regardless of who is trying to do it. Almost as if allowing myself to be cared for is creating a kind of vulnerability I am uncomfortable and lack trust in.

But I feel exhausted and lousy. My first monthly cycle in months and I've felt chills, flushed & feverish, and overall an increase in the muscle spasms in my legs, hips and around my tailbone. I take birth control pills continuously in order to suppress my cycles precisely because I'm so miserable and my existing condition in my back is exacerbated so much. I'm even having a much lighter cycle than I used to and I'm still feeling lousy.

CK gave me that look since yesterday -- noting at times I've looked gray and also look just exhausted. AM came to pick me up at CK's this morning when I let him know I wasn't able to go downtown and sit at my desk; having my legs down like that is very painful some days. My therapist noted how she's so used to seeing me with so much energy that it almost seemed like I was depressed today. At the Dharma center people were noting that I didn't look myself.

And I don't think I look myself. I look ill and unhappy. This change in my system, the way all of the nerves, muscles, tendons and other tissue around the reproductive organs are so affected by the cycle just amazes me. Similar to my back; that such a small change in the back causes such significant problems. We're so incredibly complex and delicate in so many ways.

In a way it ends tonight back reflecting on the bird I saw yesterday; sharing a moment with a creature even more delicate and also highly complex. To me it did not highlight my power compared to so tiny a creature so much as it reminded me that all beings are, in their own ways, equally fragile and terribly precious.

I hope I feel better tomorrow. I want to ride my bicycle. I especially want to ride it Saturday morning downtown to my office and the farmers market.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bird on the Sidewalk

This morning the alarm went off at 6 and I turned it off through a wave of fatigue. Not necessarily any greater level of pain, just feeling so very tired. I asked AM if he would drive me in so I could rest a little longer. Phoebe jumped over me and we curled up to watch the bright light of morning, then dozed a little longer.

I decided to get a coffee, my weekly indulgence in coffee, so AM let me off by Half and Half so I could grab a latte before my weekly team meeting started. It wasn't too busy and I was quickly presented with a lovely soy latte, complete with foam leaf on top. I should get a picture sometime when they do this, not all of the folks there do it. Really dense foam.

Doing OK. Little tired, sore in the left hip from the ride home last night with all my stuff. Not looking forward to my upcoming meeting. Looking forward to meeting CK at Chaat House for lunch a little after 1. I'm headed down the couple blocks to my office and I'm stopped short by something.

In the center of the sidewalk is a small, brown bird. At first, walking up to it, I thought it might be dead already. The victim of a neighborhood cat. But as I came up to it I could see it breathing, see just how small it was against the concrete. It didn't make a noise, didn't move or show any alarm.

At first, perhaps having had the initial thought that I was about to see a mangled bird on the sidewalk, I assumed the bird was in distress. I stood there, nearly frozen, watching. It just was there, breathing. I began to wonder if it was dying, if the breathing that appeared rapid to me was a sign of great pain. Then I noted how small the bird was, how it just sat there blinking tiny eyes and moving air through it's body, almost as if it were resting to regain strength after exertion or shock. Maybe a younger bird still not with the full experience of flight.

I just stood there, looking down at this tiny being. I thought of Norman Fisher's words in the article Coming Home to the Body in the current issue of Shambala Sun, that this tiny creature and I were sharing breath. We are all of us sharing our breath, all of the breath that has ever been breathed we share.

So I stood there, breathing, realizing that in observing the bird, feeling my concern, curiosity, desire to react -- all of these things my brain was doing and my body wasn't breathing right. In standing there in the middle of the sidewalk, my brain ran down many pathways and the breath tightened in my chest so it was as rapid as I supposed the little bird's to be. I felt the side ribs in my body, moved my breath toward them, back toward even breath.

For a moment I recited metta for this little bird, either at the end of it's life or just regaining strength. I didn't know what else to do and wondered if I should always be in reaction mode like that anyway. In the corner of my vision I saw two men approaching. I stood up, facing them, noted to, "Mind the bird."

As I stepped away, I looked back twice more, wishing merit for this very small being I'd just shared the practice of breath with. Then I headed off to meetings starting momentarily and co-workers. Frustration, laughter, tasks, lists, connection, and the general busyness of a workday. It all flew by, up until now when I'm writing and contemplating sleep.

It of course wasn't there that I could tell when I left the building later. I've tried not to wonder about all the possible reasons for seeing the bird. I have just been aware that since that moment this morning in the back of my mind I've kept a small, brown bird. Holding space for it to be free from anxiety & fear, free from suffering, and that in it's own way know happiness & peace.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Slipping Back Into Routine

I woke up this morning at CK's when Atari jumped on the bed around 6:30, meowing and wanting attention. He ended up jumping over me and settled in the space between my knees & chest. I noted the golden light coming in under the blinds, pet Atari briefly and listened to CK breath.

It felt so nice, so lovely that I hated having to disturb the quiet, upset the cat. My alarm was going off and I had work to get to. CK sleepily mumbled at me, pulled the duvet up over us. I snuggled up to her a little, giving her little kisses. I wished I could just lay there with the two of them in the cool of the morning instead I reluctantly pulled away from her and took a shower.

When I came out, dressed but for my shoes, CK looked up at me and muttered, "You're already dressed." I sat back down on the bed with her and listened as she tried to wake up, insisting she was going to at least get up and walk with me. I insisted back that she just sleep some more. She drifted back off, her hand slipping off my knee.

My heart had a moment of feeling so full at seeing her there sleeping with Atari curled up by her legs, at home in Portland. She looked like she was really resting. I could appreciate just how sexy she is, how completely appealing to me on that level, but I was also just struck at how sweet and beautiful the morning was. I forced myself up and out the door, putting my headphones on.. The moment on the bed kept my step light all the walking to the MAX stop, riding into downtown, and onto my work day.

Mostly good day at the office. Usual mix of talking with people, even after these several years it feels strange that chatting is encouraged because it encourages strong teams. I did some training, wrapped up some things, finished some script stuff I was working on. Got some really frustrating news from our IT department. About that time, when I was feeling particularly uncharitable, I left to take my bicycle back to the shop.

After teaching asana practice this evening I popped over to CK's for a little visit. Before I left she hugged me close asking if I'd really worried her family would talk her out of our relationship. I told her that mostly I was feeling anxious for her stress down there in Sacramento and my being up in Portland unable to take care of her. From all of that anxiety bubbled up silly stuff that I knew wasn't real at all. It isn't that I don't know she's fully capable of caring for herself. I just like to do things that leave her feeling cared for -- making dinner, helping shop for groceries, just being there to listen to her.

When I got to the house all hot and flushed from the ride AM helped me with my stuff and told me he was proud of me. It feels strange that someone should be proud of me for doing this. I'm trying to keep it in perspective and try to see the accomplishment. I feel that when I reflect on some of the anxiety I've felt at riding a bicycle again, but I fall into the usual habit of not taking pride in what I'm doing.

Bicycling Around Town

About that time, when I was feeling particularly uncharitable towards people I work with, I left to take my new bicycle back to the shop.

A back rack, very stylish, was added to the bike as well as a bottle holder for the handlebars since one can't be put on the frame. One of the mechanic crew fixed the looseness in the post so my saddle doesn't flip around when I lean back into it. He also adjusted the handlebars back a little. Brought it home, hung out with AM for a little while then he and I got an old, metal Alpenrose milk crate bungie-corded onto the back. I loaded up my yoga gear and made it to the community center in 17 minutes.

I rode over to CK's after a nice class (they even tried side plank). Hung out with her for a little while, talked about my technical problem at work. After I had some water, almonds, and sitting I got my laptop I'd left there in the morning, and get everything loaded up. CK laughed a little and noted how I looked like a typical Portland bicycle commuter all of the sudden.

I made it back home again on the bicycle. The last two blocks going up towards Alberta feel so long, even longer tonight with the laptop, yoga straps, eye bags, speakers and my backpack. After I got up to Alberta I enjoyed the long, slight slope downhill home.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Finally Home

CK got home this evening and I am so relieved, happy and just settled feeling now that she's back. We got over to my house, grabbed up my things, she got to see the new bicycle and we came over to her flat for the evening. Dropped stuff off, went to the market, came back and made up some quick tempeh tacos. Sat on the bed, ate dinner with a beer then played Magic (I won after not having played for years & years with an "elven" deck of hers).

Just a slide back into "routine". I realized, as she was hugging me at the car in the airport garage, that some undercurrent of fear had really crept in. Some nagging sensation that she'd gone down to see her family and they'd have "talked sense" into her about this whole relationship thing. She set her things in the back and hugged me close; just huge relief whooshed through me.

A trickle of it has started inside, I went ahead and paid to park for the 10 minutes (tops) I was in the lot so I could meet her as she came through security. Her flight had been a little early, luckily I checked at the house AND my house is very close to the airport, so I just made it. Walking across the open area just as I saw her come out of the gates. She smiled when she saw me and gave me a quick hug & kiss.

It is the ease with which she displays affection for me that just leaves me silent and smiling sometimes. The first long-term girlfriend I had wouldn't show me affection in public to the extent of pulling away from me when I went to take her hand while walking together in downtown Portland. I set that aside, never being able to adequately explain to her why that hurt me so much and she never really allowed the space to put it to words.

There is just such intimate beauty in being able to lovingly touch someone in public. Not even to the extent of passionately kissing or touching. Holding hands, the way I put my head on CK's shoulder when I'm tired of standing, or the way she puts her hand on the back of my head and neck. They are not passionate, excessive displays in public but they are very intimate. They are precisely why I have started telling my Zen sangha about my relationship. Those intimate touches give it away and it is unfair of me to try and hide them, suppress them because they might be seen by someone who will judge.

What I find so interesting is how powerful they are when I'm made aware of how people can react. The rude Texan woman giving us a glare in line at the aquarium in Vancouver B.C. All that had happened was one of those sweet, simple intimacies of comfort and affection. Had we been a heterosexual couple of any age at all she would likely have not even noticed or maybe even smiled. Because we are two women sharing that level of intimacy, clearly "more than just friends" we got a glare.

I don't think about making those kinds of gestures. There's no time to get wrapped up in worrying that someone will condemn me for kissing CK lightly, or holding her hand when we walk together. We share that deep, intimate connection and love so why wouldn't I want to just have the simple pleasure of having that level of public touch. I don't even think twice about it. I suppose that's why it hurt so much years ago when MM pulled away from me -- although she loved me and would say so, she was always thinking about who might be watching, who might tell her parents (at the time they lived in Hawaii still), a client might see and not call back. She was never just caught up in loving me and wanting to hold my hand for the sheer pleasure of that connection.

That so much of American society thinks that way and worse is pretty infuriating. Why should it matter in any way at all when people want to express love and joy in the world. There is such a stinginess about Love. When Jessa was dying I really had a perspective shift on Love and gained this sense of the vastness of it just out there -- rather along the lines of how the late Douglas Adams described how immense the universe is* in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

I am perplexed at people wanting to hold Love in, codify it, contain it despite it being so utterly beyond our full knowing.

* "Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggling big it is. I mean you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space."

If you replace "space" above with "love" up there and it pretty much sums it up.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bicycle Anxiety

So I'm still reeling in shock from having purchased a bicycle today. AM has suggested I stop thinking about the numbers, noting that this is an investment. He and CK both really wanted me to get something that I'd enjoy, be comfortable riding, and be safe on. I will just have to be really good about finances through November so I pay for my teacher training program. It really isn't like I can't do it, but I've never felt like I'm very good with financial stuff. It is something that has felt difficult and painful to learn. I was utter amazed when my numbers were ran and I was told about the mortgage I qualified for.

Come January the car will be paid off as well as my old tuition account at Beliot. This weekend, aside from spending a pile of money on a bicycle and gear AM and I just hung out around the house. We ate meals at home except for Friday night when we went to Dalo's. AM worked on a podcast mix set. I wrote, read every review on a Townie I could find, and we watched Batman Begins last night. Really what we know makes it hard on us financially and physically, since we've all put on weight (almost 15 pounds for me) during the spring & early summer, is eating out!

I find it hard to spend this kind of money on myself like this. No question, all of this money is being spent on solely me. AM won't be riding this bike. CK might try it out, but she loves her bike. I think something runs into feeling unworthy of spending this money. Having spent early childhood in poverty then growing up with a mixed message -- so many things were cheap, "make do" but a lot might be spent on a shopping trip for back-to-school clothes (that Mom mostly picked out). Just feels like a lot of the "make do" stuff needed to be where the money was spent. Many monetary decisions were made because of what Mom wanted and most of the family didn't get the things I thought were worth the expense.

Which is to say I feel guilty having spent this money. I feel guilty having made the decision to pay my yoga training in 3 installments rather than all at once so I would be able to buy a bike now. But when I follow those down I just find that sense of being unworthy since I also feel like I've made a good decision even if it is more than I thought it would be. That contradiction points further back to the past affecting the present moment.

I just feel uneasy. As much as I've enjoyed a quiet weekend hanging out with AM, I miss CK. I miss the little routine we all are learning how to have. I wanted to share getting a bicycle with CK; the other feelings of guilt and unworthiness really get in on this route and I find myself feeling guilty for not waiting for her.

When I write that down and look at it I feel silly. It is so damn hard to break out of all of this crap programming I got as a kid. Makes me wonder just how much of my fear something will go horribly wrong is somehow rooted in all of this unworthiness. Clearly one of those moments when some variety of magic wand would really be useful... instead, I think I'll go to bed and hope my legs and hips don't hate me in the morning.


So I'm still reeling in shock from having purchased a bicycle today. After trying out four different bikes and doing a test ride of a guy's model because it was $125 less on a Criagslist add, I settled on a blue, Electra Townie 21 from the Bike Gallery on Sandy; a very cool woman named Marjorie helped me out. In fact I'd gone into the shop yesterday asking to ride a cruiser style bike from the same company. She suggested I try out the Townie while I was waiting for the cruiser to have the seat fixed.

I picked up a very blinky rear LED light that clips onto the Bell Metropolis style helmet (which was thankfully on sale $15 off). I also got a Cats Eye headlight that's mounted on the handlebars. They installed fenders for me and during my first ride I head small rocks from the road catching on them. I'll need to take it back for a couple of adjustments, the saddle moves around a bit on me and I head a little drag noise when I was in the highest gears. They'll also be adding a rear rack and a water bottle holder.

I rode over to her flat tonight on my evening mission to take care of Atari. It took me about 20 minutes to get there. I followed other bicyclists through the intersections that I was a little challenged by (crossing MLK). One guy complimented my bike, which felt pretty good. Once I got home I started to feel anxious again about buying the bicycle.

I'm already $109 over my budget and still need a lock, pump/patch kit, water bottle holder, and the rack (probably over another $110). The bike was more than I was expecting, but is very comfortable for me which is what is really important, otherwise I cannot ride. I spent more on a helmet but am very happy with that choice, ditto for lights. I've decided I'm going to ask Mom if she'll chip in money towards buying some panniers as my birthday gift, especially one that can hold a laptop safely. We're doing some things in very different order so I am able to have a good bike this summer. I'll be able to ride it to yoga classes, over to CK's, around the neighborhood and maybe eventually I'll even be able to ride to work.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Why Practice Yoga

I began a Hatha yoga practice before my Zen practice and feel it is an invaluable contribution; the two work together perfectly. In many ways Buddhism is a yoga practice, one of my yoga books notes that the best know yoga practitioner the world over is the historical Buddha. Siddhartha was practicing yoga on his path on the Way.

One of my Zen teachers asked me one day what was the benefit of my yoga practice and here's what I came up with: Yoga teaches me to be patient and present in discomfort, staying with my breath. It teaches me to stay with the moment and in my body even when I'd rather just curl up under a blanket and hide.

Many yoga poses are not comfortable and my practice has one hold in poses, sometimes for many breaths, minutes. Holding and staying in an intense pose puts the mind no where else but the present moment. Oh it might take a moment to think about how it doesn't want to be there, that it wants to be elsewhere, however the sensations in the body will help keep the mind present. It is a part of the purpose of doing it, to empty the mind and be present. The poses teach us to do that while challenging ourselves. From that, we learn to quiet the mind when just sitting. We learn to do it in everyday moments too.

The sage Patanjali who is credited with writing the Yoga Sutras wrote in the second sutra that "The purpose of yoga is to calm the fluctuations of the mind" .

I remind my yoga students of this a lot. That the purpose is not to have a buff body or touch your toes, it is to settle the mind into silence. The poses do improve health over all and you learn deep practice with the breath, but they are also a very powerful tool in teaching one how to be quiet and present mentally. If as a side benefit you end up with a great backside, can touch your toes, or stand on your head, then be grateful your practice is so physically beneficial!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Happy Weekend!

Oh I am so happy there are no meetings, no co-workers, no code (unless it sounds like fun to do), and no office tension for two days! I had a tension headache going strong by 1PM and it has been going back and forth since then. I feel it from my jaw to my shoulders, all across my head. I'll neti before bed to see if that offers any relief at all -- maybe some sinus irritation complicating things.

The official announcement was made that a person would be leaving my team. The news I learned about yesterday. I'm was aware of knowing ahead of time, not really being able to reveal that (doesn't seem appropriate). I just wanted to work on my scripts too, but there was talking to do with team members. It was just tiring. I did get some more accomplished on my scripts but it was all done through the haze of a headache.

CK wrote me late last night, well very early this morning, to let me in on how she was doing on Wednesday night. She was less anxious mentally than I had thought and was feeling the anxiety in her body in a way that was akin to ticklishness.

When I read that this morning it occurred to me how my anxiety colors things. In writing last night I felt I had identified how my anxiety gets tied up in a desire to comfort CK. That it becomes my own desire to be comforted by touching her. To some degree that could almost be seen as a positive under some circumstances -- both of our feelings of anxiety might be helped when we hold each other. But I also need to be able to be OK with the anxiety I feel. Reading her message this morning I could see how in working to just be with my anxiety is helpful to us both. I still think it was good I remembered I could turn to using metta meditation as a container for my anxiety -- turning it into merit.

Today she's sent me messages letting me know she is doing fine, we talked while I was over with Atari, and chatted this evening. It has been wonderful to have that connection, I'm so grateful that she is willing to include that effort in her time away. I was telling her earlier that I would be just fine if I didn't get that connection, but I do prefer having it. It feels good, nurturing to maintain the closeness of our relationship even when one of us is away.

I'm starting to feel a little less shaky about things. At times it has felt like everything would just fly apart, leaving all of us hurt and I felt terribly guilty and ashamed that I might hurt the two most important people in my life. It has been so terrifying to try and settle into this relationship. Maybe it is only because trying to maintain my practice with it keeps me aware of how connecting, opening up to intimacy with another person can be so frightening. CK is the first person I've fallen in love with without any of the layers of personae I had in prior relationships. It feels at times so much bigger without all of that cushion between my essential self and another person.

It also has been hard to let go of fear that things are going to go badly with AM, that we will end up hating one another, something that always was in the background in my first marriage. It has taken a while for me to really grasp how exhausting the undercurrent of jealously had been, especially since it was mixed with the message that I was supported in whatever I wanted to do. I would go ahead and do something that was fulfilling to me, maybe even something like going for a bicycle ride and not even a date with another person, and I would be told that what I wanted to do was fine, I was supposed to be able to do what I wanted. After all, AP and I supposedly had a polyamorous marriage. But I'd do what I wanted, needed to do and I'd be greeted with silence, sharp words, envy.

Test Ride 1

I thought about going to yoga this evening -- burning away some of the tension of work. My head hurt so much after work I didn't want to do much of anything. After a little bit AM and I went up to Cascade Cycling and I had a test ride on a Biria Easy Board 7. Somewhat strange looking but I found it very easy to get started and off down the street. I felt a more stable and a lot more comfortable than I had when I rode the Trek. I was actually surprised at how comfortable I was!

I'm still finding shifting unusual (improved, just different), but then I've not been on a bicycle for so long things have changed a lot. The guy at the store first explained why the other Biria bikes were quite a lot more expensive and I realized I didn't understand him at all! I told him so, he explained the encased gears and the ability to shift the bike while it was stationary. Impressive, but I'm fine with the old style gears.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What does it mean to miss someone

Last night, while trying to get to sleep I saw that CK lay facing me and she had pulled her hands up tight to her chest. At that moment I'd been feeling a bit of fear and was rubbing my hands with anxious energy. Seeing her face tucked down towards her hands I thought that we looked like two frightened children hiding under the blankets together. I had a moment of feeling things shift, going a little sideways. Some buried echo of being frightened with another little girl under a blanket so many years ago. I was aware of wanting to touch her, feeling how the desire to comfort my own self would try to rationalize as comforting her tension over the flight in the morning.

It took a while, some mindful breathing and I was eventually able to drift off to sleep. In the morning I was tired and sore, but very happy when she told me she actually slept well if too little. I lay in bed aware of her moving around, finishing off her packing, then we were into the car and at the airport.

At noon I ran into a very challenging day at work. More big changes. They affect me personally and make my boss, who is my friend too, miserable. I spent 3 hours solid on the phone. At 2PM I heated up some re-fried & corn tortillas and quickly ate them while on mute. My flood dream seems like some kind of strange premonition now.

AM put together dinner for us and we quickly ate out on the deck before going to the Dharma Center for Zazen. I finished first and sat back in my chair on the deck, pulling my feet in close. "Missing her already?", AM asked me.

I thought about it. I'd been thinking about it all day. Yes, I miss her. But it isn't just her companionship and feeling cut off from that since she's in California. We've been apart for a few days at a time. Although even being apart for more than a day or two in town and I miss her.

I finally answered AM. I told him it wasn't that I was missing her. I was feeling the anticipatory anxiety for her time with her family tomorrow. What I am missing is the ability to be there and rub her feet, put music on for her, take care of her in whatever way offers her comfort and ease. I can't do that from Portland. All I can do is think about her tension around family visits.

During zazen I first just sat, just felt my breath in my body. Starting with fuller breaths, really filling and emptying my lungs. In the second sitting period I returned to metta practice. I offered it for my co-worker who was given upsetting news today of a change in manager; that she will be joining a different team. I offered it to my boss who has had a long year of changes, reductions in her team. Finally I settled in on CK. Making metta a container for my own worry, feeling lost without the ability to offer physical comfort, and gathering up her worried, tense expression I chanted metta practice for her in my mind.

Afterwards I chanted my second time. I was much louder, more confident Kojun said. She thought a very stressful work day led to a more easy chanting service. My teacher told me I needed to enjoy my voice more. He also said I will make an excellent Ino.

No hearing the voices of the past tonight when I chanted. I gave my teacher a quizzical look at his telling me to enjoy my voice more. I remember studying voice at college felt like such a daring thing. Done so far away from home no one would hear me and tell me that I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. Two thousand-plus miles I found that I had a strong, good voice but I never grew comfortable in it and I only enjoyed it when I was surrounded by the rest of the choir. Even then I felt a little nervous, as if at any time someone would tell I was an imposter and disgrace me.

Thursdays make for such late nights. At least tomorrow is Friday and there isn't much beyond gardening planned.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


CK is packing to go to Sacramento for a few days to her Mom's. I'm sitting here typing, talking to her here and there as she puts together the things she needs for the trip. Found a promising yoga studio nearby and sent the information.

After a tense team meeting today at the office I brainstormed a little with two co-workers on some ways to help with the recurring tension that keeps showing up. I've suggested that perhaps some kind of training that targets both appreciation of strengths and differences along with communication skills. Something everyone goes to, on the client team as well, because it can only be helpful to everyone. I was very grateful the rest of my usual meetings for the day were canceled or I wasn't a needed resource.

CK and I had a good yoga class. Joy was able to find the perfect way of describing what to do in a lunge so now CK feels the stretch moving into her psoas and quadriceps. I was glad to hear it since in two other classes, one Joy taught & one I taught, she was having trouble finding the correct pose. Now she feels the pose more accurately and I know another way of explaining what the body needs to do.

All the thoughts of Mom this week combined with a tense team meeting, and the on going tension on my team, have me feeling a little burned out tonight mentally. I don't feel as introspective tonight either, perhaps that's because my mindfulness is split watching CK pack; knowing I'll miss her. I feel a little worry already. This might be a draining trip for her and I love being able to help her feel better in those circumstances.

The last time she went home it was winter. I knew I was just smitten with her but wasn't sure how she felt about me. I still was convinced she found me way too old and boring. But she liked going hiking with me. I remember being really thrilled inside when the prospect of rain, possible snow, enormous puddles and shoe-sucking mud didn't seem to bother her at all. In fact she seemed to be enjoying herself a lot. Then she was off to Sacramento, sending me emails that seemed to hint at more than merely friendly interest.

Nearly every local, close friend of mine as well as one of my best friends in San Francisco all heard about these emails. I dissected them at length and felt my anxiety grow big. Then Busterpher was sick and I was off to the monastery for women's' New Year retreat. I had invited CK to come out and see the place, have lunch when AM came out to pick me up. Throughout the retreat thoughts, desires, wishes all would percolate up from time to time, offering welcome intrusion compared to the difficult practice of the retreat. My heart welled up with emotion when I came outside on the first day of the new year and saw CK and AM there.

Just over 6 months later and she's off to Sacramento again. We don't run into the nervous, new relationship tension and anxiety as much anymore. We've hit a few bumps, some of them at full speed, in establishing a relationship with no cultural markers, talk about D.I.Y.! There have been scary moments but we're able to at least see through them, able to recall when the small mind gets overwhelmed that the person we're with is compassionate, ethical, honest and loving.

Now it is many minutes later than when I started. CK is all packed, mostly. The spare computer here died while I was typing earlier so I'm now using her "real" computer. Knowing her as I do there is evidence of the bond in this sharing of something so vitally important to her. That she feels my having the means to do this is important and worth sharing.

We need to try to sleep to get up at least by 7AM to go to the airport. In December I sat with the anxiety of wondering if she wanted to pursue a romantic relationship. Tomorrow I'll sit with missing her, not seeing her just before I chant service and no plans over the weekend for either us or our family. AM and I will work in the garden, getting winter squash planted finally. Maybe seeding some salad greens, kale and chard. I hope there will be some squash from our garden when she's back. I already look forward to cooking dinner for her when she is back on Monday. I suppose that is slightly more positive sounding than saying that I miss her already.

Big Blue Ball and Summer Market

Listening to Big Blue Ball finally. Hearing snippets about it for the past 15+ years it is a real pleasure to finally hear it. AM felt that perhaps some songs showed a little age having sat around on tape for years. I've found the songs range pretty wildly, which is to be expected. One hit me a little off but that's more likely due to listening to it after a yoga class, dinner and after 9PM when I'm feeling a little more chill.

I went up to the farmers' market a little before noon. It was already brimming with people getting lunch, flowers, or other purchases. I knew CK and I were going to make dinner after yoga this evening so I went to seek out some fresh raspberries or cherries to be our dessert. I did my usual tour around the small, but packed market and then settled on purchasing a pint of golden raspberries; delicate and glowing in the sun. I'd noted some of the "cue ball" zucchini squash we've put into our garden (ours are the size of pencil erasers right now) and picked up two lemon-sized ones to saute. While standing in line to pay for them I stood next to a pile of beautiful carrots and was unable to resist picked a bunch of yellow and orange ones. I also found a lovely variegated sage start to plant in our garden.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Calamity Dreams

This morning I first work up around 5AM when Phoebe, the youngest cat, decided it was time for her snuggle. I dozed off again once she settled down against my chest. When my alarm went off an hour later I had drifted into a nightmare of sorts.

I was at a team meeting for work, however, there was imminent flooding happening. People had been evacuated, however, there was not enough room to take everyone and I was one of the ones still remaining. I could see waters rushing though the street outside, rising rapidly. As I was frantically gathering together what items I felt would best prepare me to survive outside and opening a window to climb out. That's when the alarm went off and I awoke with a start. Hours later I find I can still distinctly recall feeling somewhat frantic, that I did not want to die, however I was also very calm, efficient and methodical about preparing to escape on my own. I also had a sense of acceptance if I was going to die, I just sure was going to try and prevent it if at all possible.

Work has been filled with upheaval, so the bit of work thrown in there makes sense. In Portland we've had 6 people retire due to downsizing. They all got very good retirement incentive packages, but two of the 6 were people I genuinely felt like were my friends at work. I've felt a little lost without them, especially in team meetings where sometimes the other part of our team in Denver ride roughshod over the Portland folks. That the dream was a face-to-face team meeting too doesn't surprise me as those often leave me feeling uncomfortable and hits into all those ways in which I feel awkward and uncomfortable being a part of a group.

I shared the dream with my boss, who gave me a concerned look. She's the one person I've always felt was my friend at work, it helps that she's only recently been my "boss". In the past two years I also started to open up to her a little bit about my PTSD. Moving in 2006 really set off a lot of things and I needed the space to work from home a bit more often, finding being in the office too much to handle sometimes. Especially after having had some flashbacks trigger during a team meeting; I figured she really needed to know what was going on since it was starting to affect my work to some degree.

When I told CK about it later she asked if I thought it was related to all the stuff about Mom churning around. I thought it could be -- when I look up a little online about dream interpretations I find that having a flood in a dream may represent emotional issues and tension or possibly feeling as though circumstances are out of my control. Dreams of escaping might signify good health and prosperity -- not sure if I was going to escape, but I certainly was making my plans for it and was fiercely driven to survive. I also find reference to dreams of escape being about feeling the need to discover new potential in myself, drop old habits, or that I've encountered some self-imposed limitations and feel the need to overcome them.

I suppose all of those things fit pretty well. I absolutely have a huge amount of tension around my relationship with my Mom; how to maintain as healthy and positive relationship as possible given the history there. This is tough practice. A few years ago I saw how heavy the aspect of a "hungry ghost" that hangs over my Mother and most of my family. Sometimes it gives some reason to, but never an excuse for some of the ways she behaved. Other days I really despair at how willingly, desperately she clings to delusion, resentment, and dissatisfaction. On those days I try and stick with what my teacher reminded me of, that my practice on her behalf helps her even if she refuses to help herself.

That I need to discover my own potential... If I were to say otherwise AM and CK, not to mention my Zen teacher and therapists (psychotherapy, massage therapy, physical/craniosacaral therapy), would be quick to point out this out to me. Not necessarily discover, so much as feel grounded in, believe in my own potential. Last ango my teacher suggested I work on developing pride in what I've accomplished. Months later I still struggle with it.

Sometimes I get a glimmer of it. Tonight I convinced my yoga students to try shoulderstand. They gave me dubious looks after I showed them pose, but I walked them through it carefully. After a few minutes I looked around and saw several wavering pairs of legs up in the air around the room. All of them attempted the full pose and did very well, most of them doing the pose for the first time, after I'd given them options to do only part of the pose if they felt that would be more comfortable.

That's big and obvious, it easy to take pride in that. I have confidence in my ability to teach a challenging pose to beginners while encouraging them that they could do it. I do recognize pride in the rush of positive feelings upon seeing them all trying and succeeding.

The trick is recognizing and cultivating that positive side of it elsewhere. That's what seems so much more difficult at times. I spend such amount of time not even thinking about myself. Not in a mindful denial of self or an endless litany from the inner critic. Not even that much attention to self. To learn how to have pride takes being more mindful of myself and that is challenging to learn. When I maintained a persona it was easy to be mindful of the self I thought I was, I spent a great deal of time on being caught up in the idea of self. With the persona gone, with finding the path to who I really am -- maybe who I was as a child or who I was before this lifetime -- there is a disconnect from a sense of self that makes pride or recognizing potential challenging for me.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Path of Confrontation

Today was a bit rough. I woke up feeling tired, cold and aching in my back and legs. I'd planned to get up at 6AM to catch the 6:46 bus downtown but I turned off the alarm and slept until then. AM drove me downtown and assured me that I should consider working from home part of the day.

Normally I work from home Mondays. October through May I read for SMART on most Mondays nearby my house so it makes sense to catch up on email, read, then come home and work the rest of the day. I'll bring my work laptop home with me on Fridays so I am able to access the network via the VPN and can access all files, run Crystal Reports, etc. Most tasks I'm able to do via the Java client I can get to via a secure website, the reports are the big thing. Today just had many things that needed me to take care of in person, so in I went.

Some of it felt like the post-weekend blues on top of hurting a lot. Going to bed thinking about Mom meant for what seemed to be somewhat restless sleep. I forgot to take a melatonin so my mind jumped around in dreams that would be barely recalled when I did wake up. The temperature dropped quite a bit and sometime around 4AM I felt chilled, woke up, turned off the ceiling fan, and tried to get comfortable again.

By 12:30 the vague nausea was not going away and every time I leaned back in my chair to stretch my left hip spasmed. I phoned AM and he came down to get me. I feel bad being driven around. I hope the balance evens out that my vegan diet offsets some of the rides AM & CK give me. More than anything it just gets old hurting to a point that I want those rides. Mostly I just try to be grateful that neither of them seems to mind running me around.

I was thinking I don't know what to do with all the Mom stuff. At times I just feel fed up and angry. I've felt so tied to her all my life, a message she's spent countless hours reinforcing. How I'm her "miracle" and how she's done everything for me. That's how she sees everything, through the lens of her sacrifices. She retells things she's worried she may have done wrong as mistakes made while doing the best she could.

There's times I just want to start yelling at her and not stop. I know it is futile. Even if she were to stay an listen she'd rewrite everything I said before she committed it to memory. More than that when I weigh that action against Zen precepts I really find it lacking. It isn't that I shouldn't expect to never get angry, I should not give rise to spewing forth that anger. I should just stay with the anger to see where it comes from. Much of the time the anger at my Mom arises and I just accept that it is reasonable for me to be angry.

Anger is stressed by some as a path to healing, the backbone of recovery. Anger frightens me and I am physically ill when I feel the searing heat of it, seemingly to me that my hair shoots straight up from the temperature and energy of it. So it is easy to not give rise to that, just for that reason alone I'd rather not follow the path of anger to heal.

More than that it feels wrong to ruin whatever delusions of happiness, perhaps even moments of real happiness (I sincerely hope) my Mom has left. I believe that's why she rewrites everything to cast herself in a good light -- the overburdened, poor, single-mom who has a heart of gold even if she makes the occasional mistake. I know too well the reality of the overburdened, poor, and divided attention & absence of a single-mother in the early 1970s. I just also know that her choices weren't always mistakes and were certainly not founded in compassion much of the time. But to cope with her choices she rewrites it all so somehow she sees herself as a heroine in one of her romance novels.

I suppose I see too clearly the obvious sadness in her doing that. Seeing that I know releasing my anger with her choices at her would be so harmful. I know it wouldn't change history or really leave me feeling any better. Nor would it further any kind of progress or growth. It would merely be giving rise to anger and, although I've not made that vow formally before my community, I'm trying to practice it.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Festivals, Evangelicals, gardens, and Mom thoughts

I've had such a nice couple of days! I'm trying to allow for one day of the week where I don't get an entry down and that is fine. So far it turns out to be Saturday night. Makes sense as that night I've often had a busy day and either all of us are up late hanging or CK & I are over at her flat or out. Either way, in late and it seems far too late to try to and write too.

Yesterday we all got up. I had nodded off again and woke up at 8:30 when AM called up to me. He said he wasn't feeling well and wouldn't be able to join CK & I volunteering at the main gate of the annual Waterfront Blues Festival. A volunteer organization associated with retirees and employees of my company work together every year to process donations of money and food for the Oregon Food Bank. Since both CK & AM had expressed interest in going I suggested we all volunteer. After our stint we could enjoy the festival for a little while.

I was a little frustrated with AM who was suffering a headache he thought from sleeping downstairs on the futon, next to Bodhi's crate. CK & I had said we'd sleep over at her flat so AM could sleep upstairs, but he'd wanted us to be at the house and not driving home late after fireworks (and drunk drivers). I thought we needed to be downtown a full 30 minutes earlier than we were expected so I was feeling rather anxious as CK was still sleeping! AM ate some breakfast and felt well enough to go, CK got ready and AM discovered I was wrong on the time!

We managed to get downtown, find our group, and get dispatched to our jobs for a few hours. AM stood at the gate end dividing entrance from exit and helped security get people in through the correct gate. CK and I stood out in front of the gates handing out festival programs to people arriving. The sun wasn't out much so it was not as bright nor hot. One of the volunteers brought a bubble gun and filled the area with bubbles between trucking boxes of food from the gate to the truck.

The only thing that made for a day of practice was an older man with a younger one who were handing out pamphlets for "Jews for Jesus". A Jewish friend of mine had once told me about this group and how angry they had made her during college. She had realized that anger stayed with her beyond college and colored her impression of a lot of Christians. We'd find out later, watching the group leave in a van, that they were associated with the evangelical Apostolic Faith Church. Having that history in my background I immediately felt myself closing off to these people and watched the reaction of judgment I felt welling up in me.

The older man tried to engage both CK and I. I could feel anger rise up hot in me when I heard him say to CK that she didn't have an open mind because she wasn't willing to listen to what he had to say about Jesus. I strongly felt the urge to jump in and berate him and tell him to just shove his religion. After some moments he would try to engage me. My telling him I practiced Zen gave him just a pause before launched into my listening to the way of Christ. I tried to just breathe through my desire to tell him I'd tried that way and found it overrun with unethical men. I finally turned to the approaching festival-goers and told him that my job was to be handing out programs. He didn't try to engage CK and I much after that. AM would later note how he too had been fighting the desire

Later I would over hear him telling the younger man how he had to push past the resistance people put up. How to just make people take the flier. How to ignore what people were saying about having a faith and insist they listen to this evangelical message. How to get in front of CK and I so people would think they were getting programs, just get the fliers into peoples hands. "You've just got to do it anyway, just get in there and make them listen." I would hear him say.

When I talked about it later with CK about how angry and judging I was. How I tried to be compassionate in frankly turning my back on that man. Perhaps turning my back to him and focusing on the task assigned to me was the most compassionate act since it took away the danger of my engaging further, possibly vocalizing my anger. Compassion is the key here; CK noted that what was lacking in the way this man engaged people. She actually had a copy of the flier they were giving out; rather poorly drawn and some message about a truly "cultured" person was following the path of Christ. I found the flier to be very disingenuous.

What's strange is that when I try very hard to think from that man's perspective I wonder if he does people he's being compassionate. That he believes we're all going to go to Hell and by forcing us to Jesus, "Saving" us, he is doing an act of love. I just don't think any way that tries to use what I see as unethical methods to be a real act of faith. At times I feel like the evangelical Christians are using a "quantity" approach and the "quality", the true cultivation of deep faith, isn't as important.

We all would reflect on how the way in which Zen makes Dharma available, but does not take a stand on most topics, does not proselytize is something that attracts all of us. There is such deep, deep truth in this. Each person must find a Way. If they are forced, coerced, or done through a less-than-clear message than how can the Way be true?

We were all relieved when they finally left the festival gate.

After our stint we strolled around having some food (not truly worth reviewing) and beer. Listened to some music and enjoyed each other's company. Afterwards AM dropped both CK and I over at her flat. We should have made dinner. I'd eaten very little during the day, especially not much protein. We ended up doing other things instead and then dozed off. CK had said just before falling asleep that she felt weird -- somewhat of a code that some memory or emotion may have triggered.

I had tried to stay awake. I dozed off myself after seeing that she had taken her arm off her face and was sleeping. I woke up a little while later feeling disoriented as I very rarely nap and a nagging feeling of unease hit me. I tried to get up to check the fridge, sort out stuff that had been tossed aside, and felt rather unwell. CK awoke and saw that I wasn't feeling well. She assured me that she was fine, just over tired and drowsy from having beer.

We soon realized our respective blood sugar levels was crashing! Neither of us are diabetic or hypoglycemic, but following a fairly healthy vegan diet means that our blood sugar does drop pretty low. Both of us tend to not like the idea of eating when it gets pretty low, which isn't very helpful when all you need to do is eat! We tried to get together enough to go eat something but couldn't think it through very well. I finally said I was making tofu sandwiches, since all the ingredients were on had. We ultimately got to making salads topped with grilled tofu. Once we sat down and ate we were feeling better. We listened to a recent This American Life and a story from David Sedaris' newest book. Then ended up crawling into bed and falling hard asleep.

We were able to sleep in a little bit this morning, I finally got up a little after 10AM to shower. CK made me toast and a smoothie (which I usually have a little of to go with my toast). Then we went to my yoga class. She is going to take it this summer along with trying to go with me to Joy's class on Wednesday's. Afterward we went to my house and picked up AM. After lunch and shopping we worked in the garden. AM & CK worked on stripping the lawn out of the third raised bed and I worked on getting all the tomatoes caged, sprayed down the cucumber & summer squash with a neem solution, and did a little weeding & dead-heading.

DW came over and hung out with us. We made some tofu burgers for dinner and sundaes for dessert. DW really liked the shirt I picked up for her at Paranada while on vacation. She told us about the plans she's making to travel cross country for a while. I thought how I never had the chance to travel like that when I was young. I immediately had students loans after getting out of college, very large ones. I was rushed off to college right after high school. I paid for all my books, took out loans, and was generally broke. My parents didn't help at all except for a little bit of money once in a while. My mom also had a real insistence that if I lived with them at all I follow her rules; I cannot even imagine her ever supporting me in just taking off from the "real world" to travel around the countryside taking odd jobs!

Some strange odd things about Mom popping up this week. The memory of her trashing my room, sometimes just because I didn't fold clothing in my dresser drawers the way she insisted. Or that I just shoved stuff into the drawers, even if they closed completely and the mess inside wasn't seen. She'd just dump everything all over my bed and across the room. Emptying drawers, the closet, clearing things off of dresser tops.

It popped into my mind while making the bed at CK's flat. She had once commented on how I almost always make the bed. It made me laugh to think of this thing I do now, not over done, just really neatening the bedding, was such a war ground with my Mom. Then tonight thinking of the way she tried to point me, direct me always. I really would never have gotten support to leave and had I left she'd have told me I couldn't come back. She practically forced me out of the house when I started dating Anthony, even though I wasn't ready to live with someone. If I hadn't been pushed out I'd likely have never married him, then divorced.