Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking Back

The first sounds I heard as the year began where fireworks off in the distance. In the silence of the zendo at Great Vow Zen Monastery we knew it was 2008. When zazen ended we rung the bell, 4 times each for each woman attending the retreat adding up to 108. The morning, the first day of the new year, I had offered a vow to not hate it when I cry the next morning, in the company of my Dharma sisters.

The year has given me many opportunities to not hate my tears, not feel like the world is going to end when I cry. Given me many chances to evaluate who I am, greet myself with compassion and truth, and move forward on my way.

AM and CK were the first two people I saw after the retreat ended. I remember feeling my heart skip a beat when I saw them, feeling an important shift. Later I would dismiss it as my being overly-optimistic because I found CK attractive and I was excited that she'd come.

I'd known her just a few weeks at that point. We'd not spent a whole lot of time together in person yet and had exchanged a handful of emails. I did know that I felt a tight, high, nervous feeling in my heart when I was around her. I'd suggested to her that she come out and have lunch at the monastery since she'd be arriving back to Portland while I was in retreat.

I hadn't really expected her to come. I really wanted her to come, but I was trying to keep myself in check and not get my hopes up. The retreat had been very intense, so seeing her felt like this marvelous surprise.

I've been looking back at posts, I haven't looked at my hand-written journals yet. But I can see where the energy started to really shift. I felt it a little at a time, the feeling inside me that I wanted to protect my relationship with CK. The move towards keeping it safe, sheltered until AM and finally decided we really needed to move on from one another.

I am writing before going to the Dharma Center tonight, joining my Sangha and that of Dharma Rain for a potluck, sacred circle dances led by CB, Fusatsu and zazen through the new year. I am really looking forward to be with my community this year, sharing this celebration with them, they have become an important part of my life. I would like to do the Joy in Mindfulness retreat another time, but this year with teacher training it doesn't really make sense from a time or finance perspective.

As the year ends I'm writing while CK folds laundry. An African stew is cooking for us to take to the Dharma Center for the potluck. I made matcha cupcakes just a little earlier. We are settled into these little domesticities with appreciation.

AM is sitting with his Dharma Punx community and will come to the Portland Dharma Center later to join for Fusatsu and zazen. We have hung out the past couple of nights, just watching things like Top Gear and Dr. Who. Have also been joined by DW and many episodes of Battlestar Galactica. I still feel close to him, to them both really, but we all feel the shift in our lives.

The year has worked towards and ending and a beginning. I suppose all years are like that when you look at them, this just feels dramatic because it is my life and it is a rather big change. It feels like the right direction. Not that a relationship doesn't have compromises, but I said to someone this afternoon that in this new way I didn't feel like I compromise in what I needed to be fulfilled, to be my authentic self.

Over and over this year I've learned the practice of the precepts in each moment. There is no way of knowing if I'm making the right choices for 10 years from now. I can only make the best possible choice in accordance with the precepts in each moment. The moments of 2008, looked back at from New Year's Eve, have been joyful and painful, hard and easy, letting go and opening up; I feel in each of them I tried to be mindful of making the best possible choice in each moment.

A Dharma New Year

I spent the first moments of 2009 on my zafu in the zendo at the Portland Dharma Center sitting zazen with members of both Zen Community of Oregon and Dharma Rain. The silence of zazen was punctuated by 108 rings of the bell. A ring for each of the types of impediments to enlightenment.

Last year I'd spent the New Year at a women's retreat, Joy in Mindfulness. It was a very special time and I look forward to doing it again sometime. Aside from the yoga teacher training (financial and time resources are dedicated to this) and no vacation time, I really wanted to experience New Year's with my community and my beloved this year.

There was a potluck dinner to start followed by sacred circle dances led by Chozen Bays. After we settled into the zendo for Fusatsu, a ceremony where we burned paper where we'd each noted things that are impediments to our true selves, zazen, a chanting service, and closed with some sparkling cider served formal tea style in the zendo! What a full night!

CK and I made an African peanut stew from the Becoming Vegetarian book that we both like a lot and I made some matcha cupcakes, which were very popular when I brought them to a sitting night earlier in the year. Our Sangha must have agreed since both were all eaten up by the time we packed up after midnight. It was a delicious potluck dinner, I may have gotten some unexpected butter, but that may happen from time-to-time. Some of the stand out dishes were several variations of salads made with quinoa that inspired CK & I, buckwheat noodles tossed with a sesame dressing, carrots & tofu, and there was a very tasty lentil & chard soup we'll have to track down the recipe for later. Oh, and Brussles Sprouts, which we both just love!


For some people the sacred circle dances Chozen teaches are a "big snore", but I enjoy them a lot. They are simple, close and always invite a lot of shared, gentle laughter. I am pretty thrilled that CK enjoyed them too!


The only downside to a perfectly wonderful night was when I began to stiffen up and hurt a lot, from my right lower back to the ankle, during zazen. We sat a longer second period, with no kinhin between zazen periods (only a wiggle bell), and I didn't switch to a seiza bench between. They'd opened a few windows to keep the zendo cool (to help keep everyone wakeful) and I grew tight, chill, and further into pain. Always a very challenging part of my practice.

Even still, I'm used to working with the pain so it doesn't detract from events overly. Once we got home, I had some ibuprofen, hot tea and snuggled under a warm blanket until I was feeling better. Sleep will further help.

Tomorrow, today really, we're off to Eugene for a couple of days at a bed and breakfast, a little exploring, and a lot of relaxing.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

OK, Universe, I Get It

I tried out a great new yoga class tonight at Yoga Pearl. I have to take 8 classes outside of my core study at Prananda in eight different styles, seven of which JW has already designated for us. I've been so beat up and IW asked that I take care of my shoulders a bit more, so I decided to take a Yin class and really enjoyed it.

As we settled into class beginning the teacher told us that she was going to continuing to focus on the theme of metta, particularly directing metta towards ourselves more.

OK, Universe, I get it. Here I'd already spoken up before being called upon to recognize that in 2009 I need to practice cultivating metta, patience and generosity for myself. Said it publicly with my Sangha listening.

I nearly sighed aloud when the teacher started talking about directing metta towards ourselves. During the long periods we held the poses she talked to this topic. Rather like doing very slow asana during a Dharma talk.

Clearly I have my "resolution" for the New year spelled out for me!

Some Yoga in the Pearl

Had a great yoga class tonight at Yoga Pearl. I had planned to take a class this evening at Near East Yoga, inviting people to join me for the introductory Ashtanga class there. However after physical therapy last night my therapist asked that I not undo all her hard work by doing that. "One too many chaturunga!" she said.

I'd taken a class at Yoga Tree in the Mission in San Francisco that was Yin/Vinyasa and had been intrigued by the very deep holding of poses that was the Yin side of things. Since I need to take classes in 8 different styles, one of my choosing, I thought a Yin class would be perfect. Besides, I eat at Blossoming Lotus all the time and have been interested in trying out a class at the very hip Yoga Pearl!

The class was taught by Uma Kleppinger and I enjoyed it a whole lot. The class started in virasana to begin, as part of beginning for meditation. We then moved through baddha konasana, then to setu bandha sarvangasana (chatush padasana per Iyengar) with a block under the sacrum. Then resting a moment flat before coming up into a very modified matsyasana with a block under the shoulder blades and another supporting the head. Supported paschimottanasana and upavista konasana. Double-pigeon, and ending with a little more seated meditation.

I found it very much like zazen in many ways. Unlike other practices in Yin you are supposed to let the body relax into the pose. Not push through the balls of the feet, lengthen the spine, any of the things I'm used to. Just let the body sink into the pose, stay with the body and the breath. Then staying with each pose as the mind resisted being there, wanting to come out, wanting to be told to inhale and come up.

With some of the ideas I've had about workshops in the spring I'm very interested in this style. Even more so than the Ashtanga class I really see myself wanting to learn more about Yin and how to incorporate this deep practice into my teaching.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Winter Moon

I headed out to NW Portland to an appointment with my physical/craniosacral therapist around 5PM this evening. I noticed as I came into downtown from the Broadway Bridge that the moon, the thinnest sliver showing, was rising above the West Hills, peeking out of the clouds. Down a little in the dark, evening sky was the bright point of Venus.

I wished I wasn't driving, wish I wasn't headed to an appointment. I'd have liked to stopped somewhere to just and enjoyed it. Instead I was mindful of the road and made it to my appointment in plenty of time.

Portland's sky is of the nature to change in the winter, by the time my appointment was finished there was no moon nor Venus to be seen again. I felt very grateful to have caught that momentary glimpse

Exploding Out

I had an appointment with IW today, the evening sky was so beautiful as I headed over. I took my art journal with me, correctly guessing that she'd find the drawing I did of how my fear feels very interesting. It is so energetic, which is something that my therapy with her touches into, the ways the energy is stored, bound up in my body.

I tried to explain to her that when I first was explaining the energy during sanzen with HB some time ago that the fear felt like a black hole. The blackness pulling in all the light and energy, the way a black hole pulls apart a dying sun.

I'd started the drawing with that blackness, the center of it and added the reds, yellows and oranges. The meditating figure I added later. Eventually I realized it was me, the figure. At the very end I decided to add features to my face. I wanted to feel hopeful so I drew gentle, peaceful features.

IW was excited by the drawing. she felt, contrary to my "black hole" image that I'd draw all the blackness exploding out. She was interested that it was directly over my heart, the black fear and angry reds. IW thought if I'd added lines, containers around it the energy would be shown as trapped inside, instead it was all rushing, draining out of me.

She hopes I'll do more artwork, she thinks it is a great outlet for exploring this energy, these memories. I mentioned to her that I'd got the idea to try some artwork after picking up a crayon during a guided meditation for trauma recovery. IW, like GM thought I have made a good choice in providing myself art supplies after that moment. Especially given how art was something that wasn't really I had a lot of opportunity to do growing up despite wanting to.

We talked a little while she worked on the trigger points in my body. I mentioned that GW thinks my mind lets go of things during zazen at the Dharma Center because it knows that I am safe. She agreed with that, but she also thinks that in the silence my body is able to speak. That through all of this my body is trying to tell me things. Eventually I'll get through all of this and my body will be able to let go of some of the pain because it has finally been heard.

On top of the posi

Sunday, December 28, 2008

End of Year Reflection

Tonight there was a practice circle after zazen instead of the more usual sanzen. As a Sangha we haven't been together very much since Ango ended mid-month; kept away by weather and holidays. That being the case HB thought a circle would let us all reconnect more as a community. He asked us to speak to what we've learned about ourselves over the past year and what our intention is for the coming year.

At first when practice circles are announced I feel deep gratitude for the opportunity to sit back and listen to others. To not have to speak, reveal myself to my community. Given the way the year has gone I voluntarily spoke up about mid-way through the regular members rather than wait to be called upon.

I've learned a lot about myself this year. There have been many hard and painful truths surface. What I settled upon to share, to be brief so all people would have time to talk is that I've realized what a "behind the scenes" kind of person I prefer to be.

I like being generous with compassion, patience, understanding and support with others. I particularly like it when I can do this from behind the scenes, facilitating the progress and comfort of others. Not that I don't like receiving acknowledgement for these efforts, but I prefer that acknowledgement be accompanied with little fanfare.

More importantly I realize how I am not generous with myself. I begrudge myself the same compassion and love that I easily give to others. I set unreasonably high expectations for myself and deny myself when I understandably fail to meet them.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

History Revisited

I've been sorting out stuff I've written the past day or so. Digging in and moving stuff around. In part it is to be mindful and protective of those that I write about. I also wanted to create a space that really was just where I talked about living in Portland and places I frequent or travels I make. It has meant I've reopened and reread everything I've written since the end of June. In fact, I'm only part-way through September.

It was a tough summer. There has been so much shifting and changing the past year, just to revisit the past 5 months or so is to see big bumps navigated. Really, the past few years for me have felt like everything has changed entirely. With my practice I've become a different person than the one I thought I was. Strangely enough, I mostly feel very young again.

Hogen said something once, when talking of the vows we take, about looking at what was true when we were children that is still true today. When he asked us to consider this I'd found it unsettling, upsetting even. It was a request that threw me into the pain of my childhood as well as the stark reality of how little I remember. In practice I have started to touch that, to see myself turn towards things I remember feeling were important as a child.

Looking at the past months, reflecting upon what I wrote most days, I see where the hope keeping things together started to unravel. Seeing where I started to shift away from what I thought would always be and try to dive into the truth instead. Revisiting where the steady reassurance and heterosexual privilege of marriage started to unravel.

As painful and unsettling as this has all been, I feel like I'm moving towards the right path for me. I never thought it would move me in this direction, away from what I convinced myself was safe. Regardless, I feel like I'm moving towards what is the truth and there is genuine comfort in it.

Besides, I've come to dive into the shifting uncertainty that is our daily existence. Which is to say that I recognize that I was merely clinging to the illusion of safety. Like the boat on the ocean, with no shore to be seen in all directions. The boat is the illusion of safety, the small mind that clings to what it knows rather than sink into the limitless, boundless Dharma.

Friday, December 26, 2008

No Guaranty

I have spent a good part of the day hacking my blog writing up into that which is about my path in life, this blog, and something that is more general about living in Portland, travels, and reviews (food, museums, movies, hikes, etc.). Just creating some space between the things. What I haven't done for a couple of days is actually write.

The past two days have been filled with the intimacy of sharing space and time together, helped by the historic amount of snow Portland has had this past week. CK and I spent Christmas Eve hanging out then baking for the better part of the day, into the evening. Our plan was to have cookies to take to JW's for a Boxing Day bonfire. Christmas was spent inside, just being close and talking.

We opted not to go to the party. The weather has warmed but we now have about a foot of icy slush covering the neighborhood streets. We'd be fine once we got out of the neighborhood, but the two blocks to do so might see us stuck. Instead she and I walked up to Whole Foods to get a couple of things for dinner and we rented a movie.

Most surprising about the past several days here at her flat is how things feel possible, sustainable was the word CK used. Even when it is difficult we both manage to stay present, to be in the moment and not escape, even mentally or emotionally. There is deep passion, unquestionably and it deepens as we grow into the relationship, but it isn't mindless.

This is sometimes still feels sudden and shocking, the transition. I was letting the truth that there's no way to guaranty that I'm making the right decision, that any of us are. There's no method at all to prove that 10 years from now that I'll look back on this and know I was correct. That's the reality of the constancy of change we live in. The only thing we have are the precepts.

Yesterday I was standing at the sink washing dishes and thinking about all of this - me, the history surfacing in my present, the love I feel for CK, the ability to recognize the difference in the way that I love AM, the speed at which things are changing. I felt the woosh of time zooming past me and just looked at how I try, imperfectly most times, to turn towards compassion, truth. Holding all the choices up against the precepts and seeing that I'm doing my best to turn my life towards them.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Instead of concentrating on a project for work I am watching CK sleep. She made it home late last night and we didn't wind down to sleep until nearly 1AM. She had told me earlier how tired she was, how she couldn't seem to really sleep at her Mom's house these past few days. Last night she'd noted how it feels like she can finally relax and let go.

I find it interesting that we can intrinsically know that we're safe somewhere, we aren't going to come to harm, yet we cannot let go of being alert. Maybe it is just those of us who have PTSD since pulling us out of our routines wakes up a vigilant watch for danger. I don't sleep well when I'm not at home, especially not well in hotels.

Occasionally she has woken up, said something small to me and drifted back off. She's even tried to read, but only fell back to sleep again. I realized I was hungry, only had snagged a last chocolate cookie earlier and forgot all about breakfast, and got up to make some toast. I've been sitting here watching her resting, just observing the quiet and my gratitude.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Staying with It

I've been inside most of the day, really all day since the only going outside I did was to walk to the edge of the sidewalk, marvel at the snow and go back inside again. I logged into work and plugged away at a project much of the day, the rest of it was spent completing some online training I had listed as an accomplishment for 2008.

CK decided this morning to drive after finding another person wanting to do the same. The other woman also has experience driving on the snow and using chains. A vehicle was rented, chains were bought and the two of them set off up I-5 from Woodland, California at 11:55 this morning. I've been very relieved to be able to text with her off and on as well as talk with her a couple of times.

Nearly 2 hours ago they passed Eugene and were less than 100 miles from Portland. The would have started hitting the results of the snow and ice storm within the past hour and she sent out a message that they put the chains on about 35 minutes ago (about 8:45PM as I'm writing). I'm not sure if she'll be able to come directly to the flat where Atari and I are waiting for her, she may get dropped into downtown. If the MAX is running, and the Blue Line is, she would have to do the walk from the stop which takes about 15 minutes of brisk walking on a normal day. I may bundled up and meet her partway with more layers.

I worked on things until about 5PM today then decided to wrap it up for the day, my eyes were feeling a bit tired. Felt a little better after some asana practice, some deep forward bends, lots of down dog & twists, and a few sun salutations. I felt so stiff after sitting all day working, the relative cold outside, and an undercurrent of concern for CK. Then sat zazen for a little while, had a difficult time being present today once I tried to settle into stillness with that worry and ache.

Earlier in the day I had started some soup and it had filled the flat with a delicious smell. I finished zazen feeling hungry and impatient. I'd brought my dinner, soup and toast, out and realized that I'd started to check emails, news, road conditions, Twitter... All distraction while I was mindlessly eating dinner. I put the laptop aside and brought myself back to dinner, fully appreciating the very tasty soup I'd made.

I've been online either working or checking personal stuff (email, blogs, Facebook, Twitter) so much today that after eating I put aside my iBook at went back to my journal again. Added the words "NOW" and "HERE" on torn bits of blue paper, plus a red square (an homage to the "you are here" dots on maps) to the cover.

Last night I'd played around with the idea of putting the drawing of myself meditating in the journal. It isn't a realistic style image, it is me because I know it is. It is a drawing I did after explaining to HB what the fear feels like in my body. I had described a dark, heavy, cold blackness at the center of my chest. It felt like tendrils of that blackness snaked out, devouring all the warmth and light around me. Like a black hole consuming the matter around it.

After working on the colors for a while I went back and added just a little definition to show that there was a person there. When I put small lines in the face I decided to give the hint of a smile to the mouth. I wanted to see myself as knowing peace in that effort, despite the crushing, destructive feeling of the fear I still was able to maintain some equanimity. I spent a fair bit of time on carefully cutting out the piece, trying to preserve the tendrils of colors. I mounted it over gold foil, origami paper.

Neither the cover nor the piece inside feel completely finished to me yet. I've set them aside for the night, opting to write some and let my thoughts around them both settle. CK is on the outskirts of Portland now (about 10:24PM as I finish up this entry), making slow but steady progress.

It has been good practice, this past day of being alone. I look forward to waking up with CK tomorrow morning, knowing she is safely back in Portland. Back to the practice we share together.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Until I have something worthy

CK is still in Sacramento. Portland is covered in at least a half inch of ice on top of several inches of snow. At least another half inch of snow has fallen this afternoon. It is cold, windy and totally unlike Portland. Which is why CK is still in Sacramento. And I miss her a lot.

I'm at her flat, my other home is how it feels now. I don't have cable traction devices for the Outback and the ones DW had for her little car were too small so AM drove me over in the truck so I could stay here. Last night I'd noted just how cold the flat was and that Atari hadn't eaten very much. AM and I talked about it and agreed I'd just stay over here if she was still stuck.

Atari was so happy to see me. It took a good three hours to get the flat up to a comfortable temperature. I also turned on the electric blanket and he's now sprawled out on it, a paw outstretched, sleeping comfortably. He's been extra friendly and loving. I'm really glad that AM can be at the house taking care of Zonker & Phoebe and DW so I can be here to make Atari comfortable.

When I first go here I just stayed bundled up, on the bed (on top of the electric blanket), reading. Atari got on my lap after I'd put on some REI fleece pants I had over here and I read Lavinia for a while. It started to snow hard again so I decided to play with the snowshoes, walked up to the end of the street to get a feel for them, and took some pictures. Gratefully came inside, noting how much warmer it felt, and did some chores.

Before leaving the house I did something out of the ordinary. I grabbed some more art supplies. My sketch book and Art Stix had migrated over here, primarily so I could show her something I'd done. I grabbed up the book I'd bought a couple of years ago at Rainbow in San Francisco, my collection of paper (origami, samples from San Francisco, etc.), the pencils and my glue.

I was chatting with CK this evening and told her that I'd started to do a collage on the cover of this sketch book. It is just spiral bound with heavy card stock cover. The inside is filled with high quality, heavy, hemp paper. I bought it for myself on a trip visiting SJ and every time I've opened it I've held myself back. On some level thinking that I needed to save this nice book for really nice work, that anything I'd put in there now wouldn't be any good, unworthy of the book.

So it has been blank all this time. The cover got bent on the front providing a way for me to feel angry at myself for mistreating this special thing (I never use). I just move it around, occasionally open it and appreciate the paper inside, all the blank pages. The book I lug around now is cheap and I judge most of what's in there unworthy. Sometimes I color pieces on it to cut out and use elsewhere.

I love the idea of an artist's journal. I also feel somehow called to honor this desire in me to create this way. I guess it is another place where I get stuck calling myself an 'artist'. I think about journals and never start one, never satisfied with any unifying theme. I made one cool page dedicated to Mondrian in my other book but have never followed on my idea for doing pages around other artists I've enjoyed the work on.

In light of trying to see my creative efforts as worthy in my own eyes I started to cover the bent cover. Adding a collage of papers for creativity as well as reinforcing the bend so it will work better. It doesn't need a theme, I'll just add in things when I am inspired to make them. I already have a couple of ideas to start myself off. It is just the art that is here with me now, which is entirely worthy.

And Dream of Beloit

A strange dream that I actually remember after the usual morning routine...

I was visiting Beloit. Not that I was a student again, although I was there to take an exam, with CK. Or perhaps CK was there taking an exam and I was just tagging along since it was at Beloit. I recall asking her if she felt like she was sufficiently prepared and wanted to explore.

Only I had a plan. I lead us across campus, to the far southern end where the Logan and Wright are. When I came around the old Carnegie library, used for English mostly when I was a student there, I was surprised by the closed up anthropology and art buildings. I felt an anxious at seeing those shuttered spaces.

I found out from someone that both were being renovated and was directed to the temporary offices of the director, still my old advisor (in that amazing way dreams can bend time). I lead us over the the strange space filled with a few desks, books, notes, and random pieces from the collections of both museums.

HM seemed bewildered by me. Although I haven't been back to Beloit since 1990 HM looked exactly the same. In response to his not recognizing me he gave me a stiff hug and then uncomfortably commented on the passage of time, so many students, etc. There was much awkwardness and HM started to tell me about the renovations.

This is about when my pager went off to notify me that some patching had been done on a server at work.

Mostly I'm jotting this all down because I don't always remember my dreams. I tried writing about them first thing in the morning, I should pick that habit up again. My therapist doesn't do a lot with dream analysis, not "one of her main tools" as she likes to say, but we have had interesting discussions about them.

The thing she said she found interesting about them is how often I am not a major character in my dreams. I end up in the background of them, I likened some of my anxiety dreams to feeling like I'm Rosencrantz... An inconsequential bit player to important events. I don't actually have the power to change anything going wrong in my dreams, I just happen to be there when things go wrong and am unaware of the potential danger to myself.

This one was a bit different in that I recall it more clearly and I'm a more major player. I was active and doing things, taking part in the dream. I don't often dream about real places or people, but here was CK and one of my old advisers from college. CK wasn't a non-entity either, I felt her support and interest in being with me.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snowed In

Last night I was aware of missing CK on a night when I usually don't see her. That somehow her being down the coast, her not being in the city made me miss her more. She was supposed to land at 2:30 this afternoon, but instead there is 6 inches of snow outside and she is in Sacramento at her Mom's.

I had been in a good mood, deciding to go down to Jantzen Beach to do a little holiday gift shopping with my stash of gift cards and practice some snow driving. Found a few things at one shop and was sitting on the floor in Barnes & Nobel looking at books when CK phoned me from the Oakland airport to say that Southwest had just cancelled all their flights into Portland for the day.

I wrapped up my decisions and drove carefully back to the house. As I went over the slough I noticed that I could barely see past the sides of the bridge, the snow was coming down steadily and there was very little visibility. The cancelled flights made a lot of sense then.

So AM, DW and I spent most of the day sitting around the house. I cleaned through my beading supplies (I need another case to sort beads into, have numerous random tubes and bags again) and started some knitting. Around 5PM it was out into the snow to go to CK's to check in on Atari who was cold and lonely. AM & I popped into Whole Foods briefly and picked up a couple of things. I then drove us to get gas then back to the house.

The snow has fallen steadily all day long. As I'm writing this it has started to turn into ice pellets. I miss CK. I'm chatting with her, have talked to her on the phone today, but I miss her being a handful of miles away at most. I miss being with her on a Saturday night, snuggled up in bed together.

Yeah, good practice. I realize I feel a buzzing irritation with the storm, with this whole trip to Sacramento and the stress she has felt around it all. Annoyance at not being with her on one of "our" nights. I'm trying not to judge the feelings, just note them, be compassionate to myself and the ways in which CK helps me find a way to be at peace with myself.

It is the practice of realizing that we do without the people we love. And it makes me realize that I love her. Over the past year I've felt that change, deepen beyond the sharp keen edge of new desire and passion. This is just a profound awareness of the ways in which I feel she completes my life.

Friday, December 19, 2008

In the Body In Fear

This isn't usually a night where I'd be at CK's flat, but somehow her being in Sacramento makes me miss her. I dropped her off at the airport this morning, she'll be back tomorrow, but I don't like her being away. I am sorry to be missing sharing this trip with her. It has been so stressful, the time between this trip and her last.

Yesterday evening I was realizing that on top of feeling kind of out of sorts I felt very anxious about going to sit at the Dharma Center. Talking about the thoughts that had come up last week, reflecting on that event, had created an undercurrent of anxiety was gripping into me as the time ticked towards needing to go.

Part of me knows I'm here, in the present and the worst happened 21 years or more ago. But at the time that happened it wasn't safe for me to be present with the trauma and I was so frightened that my brain stopped me thinking about it at all. Part of me accepts GM's explanation that my mind knows I'm safe in the zendo so these things come up, just like HB noted they do. Then there is the part of me that is terrified of actually getting the memory back, reliving what I was too afraid to experience and process as a child.

As I started to explain this to CK, who was feeling like she needed to miss going in order to prepare for the flight, her mother phoned. This tense conversation had been looming, waiting to descend since Sunday and now it landed with intensity.

I paced back and forth a little, finally going to the kitchen. I'd thought I'd start making us dinner, but instead settled on doing dishes. All of them in the kitchen area. The smallness of the flat and the raised voices, the intense emotions I was already feeling -- all of these combined until I felt like a small child.

I turned the water on and off. Washing, rinsing, drying and cleaning the next round of things. I kept trying to keep feeling my body, the way my diaphragm moves, and trying to put my thoughts only on the washing of the dishes, not on CK's voice around the corner. I felt cold and taut.

CK got off the phone and came into the kitchen. I'm not sure how I looked, but I'm guessing I didn't look alright since she immediately stepped forward to hug me close to her. I felt ill, cold, exhausted, and afraid.

I was finally able to tell her that when things got to raised voices is was bad in my family. When my Mother got to the point she was yelling, she was throwing things or trashing the house, my room. If I ever got to the point of raising my voice I was told I was inappropriate, out-of-control, rude, and disrespectful. I'd be grounded. Once I was slapped, locked in my room another time. It wasn't just my Mother either, but my Aunt J and Gram as well.

CK asked if I could even go to the Dharma Center, we'd need to leave within minutes. I felt a rush of fear and shook. I'd finally sit down on the bed and talk with AM, let him know I wasn't feeling well. In addition to the panic attack I had a very upset stomach and muscle spasms in my back.

I got off the phone and CK brought me some ibuprofen. She then set to making us some dinner and we spent the evening just being close to one another. We managed to get to bed a bit earlier and get some rest before the alarm woke us.

After dropping her off for her flight I came back to the house and worked all day until heading over to the studio for a yoga asana practice class. JW ran exceptionally long so it was 8PM before I got to CK's flat to take care of Atari. We sent messages to one another for a few minutes. I'm so glad she'll be home tomorrow afternoon.

I will plan to talk with HB about the panic attack. How to help myself say settled with insights and memories surface. I stay with the body, but sometimes I can tell it is in a very defensive way. Like doing the dishes last night, I could stay in the body but it was in this pulled in way. I can feel it is significantly different way than when I am meditating and am merely with the sensation of being breathed, open to that feeling.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Centered, but in Molasses

I saw GM today and talked, ranted and let out all the stuff I'd been working on these past couple of weeks. I went back and forth between me and how stuff happening with CK left me feeling. In learning what are OK responses, I worry that sometimes I'm over-reacting to things, being over-protective or reactive.

I finally wound round to talking about what had come up during zazen last week. I noted now it felt different, that I didn't literally feel the world shift. Sometimes when memories slip in or a flashback happens it feels as though I've lost my balance, physically, for real. That the flashbacks can be auditory or even recall a physical sensation adds to the disorientation they cause.

She said it almost sounded like my brain had made a conclusion about things, about what happened after my memories suddenly come to a stop, "the film runs out" is how I describe it. The way my brain my settled, knew, no longer questioned and hypothesized. She called it huge insight and pointed at how way that zazen is a place where my mind knows I am safe so it is free and quiet enough to have these kinds of realizations.

GW thought it very significant that I seem balanced when I've had my yoga schedule going on, work being very busy, the relationship building with CK and the relationship re-shaping with AM, add on top of this processing abuse from my childhood. She said she was relieved in a way that I feel tired, she said it would have been more worrisome if I wasn't tired.

GW said something interesting. She feels that I am doing so much with the yoga on top of my Zen practice. In many cases she would be counselling someone on making a poor choice, but I don't go out 5 nights a week drinking. I have 5 days a week that include deep yoga practice, 1-2 days a week of Zen practice with sangha. I devote this time, and I did note that I find myself exhausted at this third-way point of my yoga training, to things that support me.

I laughed when she said she felt like in spite of it all I was balanced, centered, and making progress still. I responded (ever quick to lessen a compliment) that I was doing so in molasses. Slow progress.

Maybe not as slow I as call it either. I told her about metta practice, about being able to consistently offer it to myself after having the insight moment during zazen. I still haven't talked with HB about this, about being able to stay with myself. It also occurred to me how today I was able to tell GM about the moment in zazen, to talk about the certainty of it. To talk to any degree, even indirectly about the sexual abuse during my early childhood without collapsing into choked silence, muscle spasms and fear is significantly changed from last summer.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Art Thoughts

I woke up having had unsettling dreams, tired and worn out. It was hard to get going. It occurred to me that I should jot down the dream, but didn't get to do it right away so the images drifted away while I showered.

After having lunch with CK today I finally went over to her new office with her. Although it is so near my own office downtown, for some reason I'd not popped in there at all. The building, split up into smaller spaces, is used by several artists and the scent of the place reminds me of the art hall at Beloit.

I can remember having ideas for projects in school as a kid but no one to work on them with me. Anytime I want to create something with my hands feeling at a loss as to how to execute what was in my head with my hands. I never got to take an art class after 7th grade ceramics. Not entirely sure why, maybe it was too expensive to buy supplies.

Like singing, art is a place where I feel resistance, my inner critic pushing me down, patronizing my ideas and efforts. Refusing to actually apply the word 'art' to anything I create. Craft yes, art no.

Winter's Cold

Outside it was frigid today. The cold felt bright, intense, brittle; reminding me of Wisconsin. As soon as I sat in the car the cold sank into my hips and they ached. Winter's cold is not a friend to my body, it tightens and resists the cold, pulling in on itself to try and keep the hearth going.

After my last meeting wrapped up I quick looked at CK's blog, which is allowed on the network at the office and contains her most recent Twitter posts. I saw that her office was not warming up at all, it was a bit past 11AM so I checked to see if she wanted to get lunch. We met up in the Park Blocks and headed over to Blossoming Lotus for delicious lentil & wild rice soup and a very tasty maple glazed tempeh sandwich (messy, CK laughed at the sight of me with stuff on my chin).

I finally saw her office, walked over with her after lunch. I liked the way the window saw the edge of the Chinatown gate, as seen from across a rooftop. On the way back out I realized what the smell in the building recalled -- being in the Wright Art Hall at Beloit. I worked in the Wright, as a attendant in the museum my freshman year, and ultimately as the assistant to the Wright Registrar.

I spent days going through the records of the collection. One project involved affixing the small images taken from cut up proof sheets onto the actual paper record. While working on this project with the modern art print collection I would often be unable to correctly determine the proper orientation of the image. I'd have to take the record, the tiny photograph and a magnifying lens back into the stacks with me, locate the original piece of artwork, figured the orientation of piece and affixed the photograph to the paper.

It was both a tedious task and an utter delight. I viewed photographs of much of the collection, especially the modern art. Working in the museums, I also worked and researched in the Logan collection, also meant that I had numerous occasions to hold priceless pieces in my hands. Old things, amazing things.

Once I took a spinning a weaving class down in the basement of the Wright. Hours spent bent over a 4-harness loom or setting up a back-strap loom using the banister to tie off to for tension. When I last left Beloit one of the looms was holding a half-finished project of mine. Rose colored cotton, chosen mostly for affordability, done in an simple open-work lace. Then plan was to continue the autumn of what would have been my senior year, only I never went back.

CK's office is in a building that smells like the Wright. A dry smell hinting at plaster, paint, pencils, paper... creation. The building evoked memories, many of them precious.

Pulling on clean, cotton gloves to handle artwork or artifacts. The smoothness with which the huge drawers containing prints slid out. The feel of the ceiling mounted storage, the shift of it as you opened them apart like enormous pages. The chill of the ceramics storage in Logan's basement -- particularly there. Many hours coming in from the cold outside to descend into the dry, chill ceramics room. Bundled up, sitting on the concrete making meticulous notes about the Peruvian pieces I was researching for my thesis.

The scent of the medium of artistic is very rich for me I realize. It feels like yearning sometimes, wanting to create. I want to create artwork for CB & HB when I take Jukai next autumn. I am able to picture it in my head but I feel confused as to where to begin.

I imagine the impression of a gate as the back of the piece, with words from the Flower Sermon running on the edges, "I possess the true Dharma eye, the marvelous mind of Nirvana, the true form of the formless, the subtle Dharma Gate that does not rest on words or letters but is a special transmission outside of the scriptures." A wooden artist's model of a hand holding a flower. Perhaps the flower is made of beads on wire, making the flower easy to twine about the hand. Somewhere there is a smile, just the hint of it, Mahākāśyapa's moment of realization. I've thought about the base being an enso with the hand rising out of it.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Had a massage from BM today. I told her about nearly falling, how my hips hurt so bad on Friday that I had that emotional response, oh.... and learning to drive CK's truck (have wondered if that's why the left ankle has been so tense). She said, "Well, we're work on that!"

She started checking out my neck and I was surprised at the tension. I could feel that my whole neck was solid, taut, no movement between the vertebrae. The pain shot through my left shoulder, up into my jaw, and down my back.

While she worked on my body I found several places where the tension was so great, the spots she worked little points of intensity. I switched to Ujjayi Pranayama to help breathe through the heaviness of the energy. Pushing the breath through my shoulders, back, and hips, down my legs and out my feet.

Yesterday was beautiful. Woke up at 8AM and looked out of the window to see falling snow. We snoozed a little longer and by 9AM the snow was accumulating. At about 10:30 I got a message from CS that Dishman was closing up for the day so CK and I decided to walk up to her athletic club for a work out.

It was nice to share that practice with her, like so many of the other things we've found to share. We did some stretching and work on our core muscles, abdomen and then moved onto weight machines. After doing some isolation of my leg muscles I walked on a treadmill for half a mile while CK settled into a run next to me. I then headed down to an empty studio to go through some standing yoga poses.

While we were on the treadmills there was an announcement that the club was closing up at 1PM due to the increasingly bad weather. CK and I had a quick soak then bundled up to walk back to her flat for lunch. Her meeting with DTH was cancelled so we bundled up again, walked to MAX and went to Pioneer Square to enjoy the city in the snow.

The experience, Portland covered in a layer of white, was lovely. There was a bump in our day when CK had an unsettling call from her family. She walked with me up to the art museum anyway and I took pictures of the sculpture garden. My hands were freezing so we went and sat in the atrium of the Galleria to warm up a bit. After that we headed home, trying to keep ourselves warm in the truly frigid wind.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Cat Has Exited the Bag

Having told the close core of friends, sangha, and co-workers this week, AM sent out the message he had I have been working on the past several days. Have only heard back from a few friends -- a couple of emails and a nice voice message from SJ.

It has been tough this week, talking to people. Made me very aware of how difficult I find it to be open with people now. I was reflecting upon how open I could be about myself, my sexuality, when I weighed 290 pounds. Having that extra person surrounding me really made it easy. Now I feel exposed, vulnerable, back to being the scared kid I've been hiding all my life.

I told my teacher training class today that I was mentally, emotionally, and physically. I realized in talking to CK afterward I knew I could even add "spiritually" to that list. I feel just depleted by the whole effort of it even though I feel relieved to have finally gotten the news out. Am trying to stay mindful of having had that bit of experience trigger the other night, those tend to send me a little lower while I process them.

After a long, draining, and physically challenging day of teacher training CK picked me up. Coming into the flat I saw the lights she'd hung up and the small, living tree she had decorated. It was such a sweet moment and helped equalize some of my energy.

The question that comes to my mind for HB is how do I let these emotions come up, be present with them, and move through them. It is reasonable to mourn and feel the pain I experienced as a child but wasn't safe to express at the time the experience itself happened, but at times it feels overwhelming to me. Perhaps he'd just remind me to stop trying to rush through things, there is no timeline for this.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Too Far

I woke up anxious today. I'd been dreaming that I was living in a more rural area, open fields around with houses dotted along a road, and Phoebe had gotten out. I was calling her, dashing after her across one of the fields. She just seemed to get further away from me.

I was tired too even though I'd slept a bit longer. Yes, I had gotten to bed rather late last night after writing and I had ached from my major stumbled while walking the train. I didn't hurt as badly as I'd feared when I woke up, but I was tired and anxious. Today my left leg hurt from the back of me heel into my lower back, the reaction to catching myself and jarring that leg.

Then onto the rush of the morning -- trying to use the Java client to answer emails and remote into my work laptop. Things weren't working right and kept stopping on me and I didn't get much done. I was then off to read for SMART, which is always fun, although my kindergartner has moved.

Had lunch with my friend DH today. Since I was coming from SMART I drove downtown and had to find parking. I brought her up to speed on the changes going on, which didn't surprise her overly much. She's very happy to know that AM and I are getting divorced so we can maintain our friendship.

I didn't get out of the office as quickly as I'd wanted. I had hoped to have a little time to spend with CK before we drove over to the house so I could change and grab my yoga gear. Between leaving late and bad traffic I got there with only a few minutes to spare before we rushed out into the rain.

On the way to the studio we found ourselves at mild odds with one another. CK felt criticized and in responding I began to feel chastised, foolish. The weight of the anxiety this morning, the work of talking to so many people this week, and the ache in my body just felt huge.

At first class helped. The warming postures and Pranayama grounded me. It was in the standing postures, after doing a series that seems to aggravate my hips hugely every time I try it, we were doing revolved triangle when JW came by to suggest a small correction to my alignment. It hurt so badly that I had to stop.

I stood with my head hanging down and felt my breath catching, my face burning, tears springing to my eyes. I had pushed too far, too hard and gone into that space where the effort, intensity and pain combined to leave me feeling demoralized, stupid, ungraceful, and wondering why it was I thought I belonged there.

I tried to switch to the other leg but immediately felt overwhelmed and left the studio for the bathroom. My breath was all at the top of my lungs, held tightly there by the feeling of pressure on my heart and belly. I put my face down on my crossed arms and felt the heat burning my face. I looked pale and worn.

I went back to my mat and tried to rejoin the pace of the class. Nothing felt right, nothing felt OK. On top of it my inner critic was noting that I should just knock it off and stop acting like a big baby. I kept trying to tell myself I was just fine, merely in pain and needing to rest. All of the techniques I use when I feel triggered while sitting zazen.

But I was crying and miserable. I felt like a little kid, in a bad way, and exposed, vulnerable as well. CK came over to rub my back and check in with me. I told her I was going to do shoulder stand while everyone was doing savasana at the end. It helped alleviate things a little, centering me a little and helping me feel my breath again.

I was thinking about what HB had talked about last night. Talking about how when we are practicing stuff bubbles up -- emotions we never had the space to feel, things we try to avoid thinking about. Maybe there's something about pushing too hard, going into the pain and exertion too far, that stirs up the muck and the feelings of not belonging, not being good enough, the-last-kid-picked-for-sports embarrassment, and the messages to behave, not cry, to stop acting like a baby.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Where Silence and Stillness Meet

Big day today -- told two co-workers I'm close with and my boss about the divorce, my being a lesbian. The first one I talked with is a gay man on my team who went through a similar transition himself several years ago. It was good to have his advice and I was very moved to have his offer of a sympathetic ear as I make this change in my life. My boss just gave me a big hug and offered support. My other co-worker, who has a 17 year-old son struggling with his sexuality, offered another hug, support and asked if I'd be comfortable talking with her son when he was ready to start talking to people (her son, and my knowing I might be able to be some kind of resource for him, was part of the reason I told her).

As with telling other people, it goes just fine. People are supportive, open, loving and very respectful. Everyone also seems to be really behind AM & I doing this to nurture our friendship and to be fair to everyone involved. It hasn't been really fair or satisfying to either of us for a while and adding CK to it as a polyamorous relationship for me only meant that it was unfair for more people.

Tomorrow I'm going to have lunch with DH and tell her the news. AM and I are going to send out an email to the rest of our friends over the weekend since we'll have told the closest friends by then. I'm sure there will be emails and phone calls galore after that. More than anything it is just tiring and I feel drained. It was a tremendous relief to have the routine of zazen at the Dharma Center tonight.

HB said something tonight in his Dhama talk about there being a space where silence and stillness are the same. Silence isn't being closed off and isolated, rather the state of being we are in when we are entirely still. Where we are when we settle the mind into silence and rest in the essential self, to paraphrase Patanjali.

I wasn't there when I first started to sit zazen tonight. RP had told me as I was heading upstairs to the zendo that HB had said he wanted to the Ino to wear a microphone when chanting. I felt my stomach tighten up in response and I tried to laugh about it.

I settled onto the bench and breathed in deeply a few times, feeling my diaphragm move the air. Just trying to let the thoughts settle and let go of thinking about chanting with a microphone later. And it worked for a little while.

Until I felt the anxiety about my voice come back and this time it came accompanied by old emotions from childhood. I worked on my breath and when I felt that slipping sideways feeling of something triggering my PTSD I focused my gaze on the radiator, the repeating patterns on it. I looked sideways and CK's profile, feeling the energy of her sitting next to me.

I never felt the full heart pounding, skull crushing fear I've had show up. Just a kind of sadness. I was able to remind myself that what happened to me was years ago and I am just fine now, that I was in the zendo, with people around me who care very deeply for my well-being.

I didn't even have to say it again and again. Once I'd grounded myself by connecting to the room, the radiator and CK beside me, I was able to feel the breath and the sadness together. The steam clanged loudly in the pipes, I was pleased to note my heart was beating at a calmer pace. In kinhin I felt myself slide into the movement meditation with profound gratitude and stillness of mind.

When I returned to my cushion for zazen I set my mind to metta. I pictured myself, the little girl who wanted to be a Rose Princess, and began the practice. I was amazed to find myself staying with the practice, breathing in, breathing out a loving-kindness prayer for myself.
May I be free from suffering and fear.
May I be free from anger.
May I be free from shame. (an extra one I add for myself sometimes)
May I be happy.
Usually I cannot even stay with myself enough to do three of those prayers. My mind wanders around, off planning and full of fear, shame. When I consider that I've done enough mindless metta I focus on a person I love, a person I have a more neutral relationship with, and a person I dislike or have difficulties with. These are normally easy and focused, when I send metta to others.

Tonight I was able to stay with myself, the image of myself as a little girl. 9 rounds of prayers, each staying mindful. Not unwavering, but never so far I forgot where I was, which is the usual case. After 9 I did the three prayer sets for others and then let myself return back to my body, the feel of it being breathed, until the bell rang.

I started to Hogen about it, but decided to hold off, just letting my acknowledge of it just be still a little longer. It has been such a full day

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


It was nice last night, driving home with CK and settling down for bed.  I felt anxious when I finally got into bed, chilled and hyper-alert.  No monkey mind, just urgent wakefulness.  CK murmured sleepily at me, I answered back that it wasn't anything in particular, nothing triggered.  Just the anxious business of being around a crowd of people, the talking.  She curled herself against my back, warming and comforting me.  I fell asleep fairly soon after that.

Woke up five minutes before my alarm feeling awake, although not entirely rested.  I got into the shower and dressed.  CK woke up and wished me a good morning before I headed off to the office.  Spent a busy day, more working with people and less on code.  Tomorrow's shaping up to be much of the same.

Tonight's the second night we've had where I see her after work or teaching, we have dinner and spend the night together.  I've stopped thinking of it as "bonus" time together and started seeing it as the way we practice being together full time.  

I was chatting with an old friend from college this evening, unexpectedly.  He was commenting how we all looked so much better now, how we've all seem to have learned about who we are.  I noted that I finally stopped trying to fit in.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Out on a Tuesday

Today's challenge was having all of my co-workers, past and present, as me how things were going, how AM is doing, etc. I said fine and that he's looking at going back to school this spring. I smiled a lot and talked about my yoga teacher training.

More than anywhere or anyone telling people at work feels most awkward. The vast majority of my friends already have known I am sexually attracted to women. Most of them are going to nod when I say that I'm a lesbian. Everyone I work with thinks I'm straight.

It isn't that I've tried to hide it from them. I just haven't been involved with a woman in years so it didn't seem that important to tell people I wasn't straight. In telling them about getting divorced, but remaining good friends, it will make more sense if I come out. I just feels so damn awkward.

Thursday we're doing yet another team lunch. I'm going to try to catch CM afterward and ask him if he'd have coffee with me. He's been working at our company for over 30 years. At some point he made the shift from being a married father of three girls to being an openly gay man with a lovely partner. I am hoping he'll be willing to share some advice with me and not find it irritating or nosey for me to ask him about it.

More than anything I just want to be honest about who I am. I don't want to hide my love for CK from anyone or anything. That feels wrong on so many levels. When we are able to be out together, both in the sense of two women in love with each other and in the sense of being in public together, it feels entirely natural and comfortable. A friend of CK's, our friend, says we're adorable together.

Tonight I drove CK's pickup over to meet her at Cube Space for the winter Coder's Social after I finished teaching asana practice. I didn't stall once, except when parking (need to put in clutch sooner, further), which left me feeling pretty good. Upon getting upstairs, into the crush of geeks, I felt hugely overwhelmed, uncertain, and not up to socializing. I quickly got some food and went to find where CK was playing Apples to Apples with a group.

Food helped and when a new round of the game started I joined in. It was a lot easier talking to people in that smaller setting, with the game to help facilitate the conversation. Groups of new people is one of those things that really makes me feel my PTSD acutely. Or at least honestly process and feel how uncomfortable I am. Before, having crafted an elaborate personae, I was able to get through things much easier, ignoring my discomfort.

What I was able to settle into was how nice it was to be out with CK. To be seen by our peers and be together without it being any kind of issue or question. We're just another couple that shows up... Granted, we're a minority to begin with since more men show up at these events still. That we're vegan, Zen, yoga practitioners also sets us apart. Regardless of all the things that set us apart, we're considered part of the community and our being together is a non-issue, which is how it should be.

Monday, December 8, 2008

One Down

Talked to one of my oldest, best friends tonight about the relationship changes. It wasn't great timing -- it was out at a coffee house in SE as part of a games night event that includes a lot of people she knows from Love Tribe. Ideally this is not where I'd share the news about AM and I, but it was face-to-face and I'd rather share with people in person than not.

I prefaced telling her by asking her not to say she was sorry until I finished. I told her that we were getting divorced because we needed to be authentic and honest with our lives. That pretending my being lesbian didn't matter for the last few years has eroded our friendship and isn't fair to either of us. That we were still going to be friends and our doing this would ensure that we would stay close friends.

I never expected SW to get upset or say anything terrible. Mostly I just felt bad about sharing such news at a social event. I talked to her about sending out the news via email because of the time of year, not wanting some to know before others, and many other reasons. She agreed that was a good idea and then just see people as I/we can. That was nice to hear that input from a close friend.

We spent some time chatting and catching up. She said how amazed she is to hear me talking about bicycling and that I'm even considering trying to go on a backpacking trip on a couple of years. I talked to her about CK and I, some of the things we want to do with our life together. SW shook her head a lot, smiling and laughing at times at how much we've both changed over these nearly 20 years of friendship. More than anything she said she is happy to see me getting to really be myself. A sentiment that seems to be a common thread when I tell people the whole of things.

I didn't get as much done at work today as I had planned for myself. My day sudden got taken up in working with other people and projects. Tomorrow we're doing a "white elephant" gift exchange and potluck, several of the retirees are coming to join us, so I won't get a lot done either. I find it difficult switching the gears between programming and coaching or working with clients, when I spend a day called onto "people" stuff it is hard for me to effectively program much. Maybe next week I'll work a few more days from home, block some time on my calendar and just program in quiet.

Yesterday was lovely! Slept in, CK made me toast & tea while I had a hot shower, went and taught asana practice, we had lunch then went out adventuring. The primary adventure was teaching me to drive her very manual, old, fussy Toyota pick up.

I'd learned to drive a manual transmission when my Mom first taught me to drive when I was 16. I didn't earn enough to cover the amount I'd increase my parent's auto insurance policy, so I never got my license until I was 25. At that time, and since then, I've owned vehicles with automatic transmissions.

It went really well. We went out to a transit mall and I practiced stopping and starting several times. Then I drove around the parking lot. CK noted this morning that when I started thinking about what I was doing I stalled it more. I apologized to the truck several times.

Afterward, confidence and enjoyment was high so we went on over by the IKEA and I practiced some more. Even drove us home to her flat, only stalling it a handful of times.... Well, after stalling it about 3 times at the first real light! When it got to parking it (reverse is very hard) I decided I'd had enough. CK parked the truck and we went inside to have some cider with very nice rum, watch an episode of Six Feet Under, and make dinner.

She kept saying how I was obviously a natural at it, that I remembered what to do. And yes, there is some part of that. The other part is how well she teaches, how compassionately and encouraging. It was a joy to know yet another way in which she is a a wonderful partner. Each time we come up to one of these moments where the people involved in a relationship find out that they might rub each other the wrong way (like travelling together, her going to my doctor's appointment, and now teaching me to drive manual), we find out we rub along quite nicely together.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


I kept coming around to the word synergy when talking to CK about how I feel our mutual practices combine. In a way I try and move away from using it since it is a word I think gets over used sometimes.

From the Greek sunergia
, for “joint work, assistance, help”, synergy describe a situation where the final outcome is greater than the sum of the parts which went into it.

Earlier this evening I was talking about our practices. We each have a yoga practice and we each have a Zen practice. I finally said that it as though there is a third, distinct practice that is the one we have together. The practice that is us together is something unique.

It isn't that it is merely our two, individual practices twisted together, like the way a candy cane is distinctly two different pieces joined by heat and pressure into one. This is something that is entirely different and greater than the two of us that add to it. It very different from what I've known in the past.

This discussion came up around how I feel in part a little hurt that AM is deepening his practice now, when we are divorcing. How I realized he and I could have been truly sharing a practice for over 3 years now and I feel a little let down. I am finding it easy to let go of this, just acknowledge it and assure myself that it OK to feel this hurt. Maybe it is easier because I know I am already moving towards a tangible, supportive relationship instead into being on my own.

Trying not to pick this one apart too much and just enjoy the feeling of deeply sharing and supporting with another person at this level. I think about it too much and almost feel a little overwhelmed at times. It has me look even more closely at years of lacking this in my life, which is painful. It helps me to know that I move towards being authentic, honest.

I told JW tonight after class. Everyone had left and CK was a few minutes late because she was grabbing groceries (to make dinner AND cookies). I realized it was the perfect time to let JW in on why the past several weeks I'd alluded to things being very busy, very big in my life. I quickly told her it wasn't an, "aw, shit" kind of situation. It just was us realizing that the truth about who we were mattered much more than either of us hurting the feelings than the other. That avoiding the truth undermined us in other ways.

It felt OK practicing talking to another person like this. I suppose it will get easier to tell people, reaffirm and reassure with this information over and over. Each time I say it I feel the truth of it. I don't feel the sinking feeling in my stomach for too long and just find myself saying that it was important that I live my life in a way that is as authentic and true to my essential self as I possibly can. That is my practice.

Friday, December 5, 2008


I'm not really hungry, I just am craving sweets. I don't feel hugely ill, in that I've certainly felt much worse than this at times in the past. I do feel unwell, fighting a head cold so my face & head aches, my nose hurts from sneezing, the swelling in my nasal passage & sinuses is causing an itchiness in my whole head, and I feel a general irritation at the whole situation.

Mostly I just want to settle back into routine. At the same time I'm resisting even the simple routine things of writing or sitting. I feel distracted by my head aching. I find it too easy to be checking websites and wishing CK was online to chat with than I do to just string any thoughts together to write.

I was also pretty busy mentally today for work. Spent much of the day detailing my accomplishments for 2008, finally tracking down how to rebuild the November report that got missed in Monday's server mess, and was on and off the phone coaching someone through finishing development on their first change request. My promotion is entirely entangled in bureaucracy.

I didn't go read for SMART today, not wanting to pass my cold along. This was actually helpful given everything I was working on. I also did not go to asana practice at Prananda tonight; JW has a strict, "Keep your germs at home!" policy. I think that's when I started to feel the irritation.

CK was heading out to asana practice and I was sitting at home. I've looked forward to practice tonight with her. It was the second night of practice I was missing with her after not going to the Dharma center last night. I've worn her hoodie all day, one we both forgot was at my house. It has been a sweet comfort in my litany of cranky feelings.

I don't want to go to class tomorrow -- a combination of not feeling well and enjoying last weekend with CK so much.

Just an escalation of feeling irritated and not fully well. When any additional ache in the body is added to the level that I live with from day to day it feels burdensome. Since I'm not hugely ill I have the energy to be irritated, chafed by it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Jinxes, Colds, and Authenticity

Just Monday I was telling my gynecologist that I'd only been sick once all year. I am now sitting with my laptop, in my PJs, sniffling, sneezing and feeling generally puny. So much so that I am not at the Dharma Center tonight, a change in my routine that feels unwelcome.

I am reminding myself that last weekend CK was ill. Then my friend SJ came up from San Francisco with a cold. Then DW came down with a cold. Yesterday I was sneezing like mad but I said to myself that it was allergies. Even my massage therapist noted how bad every one's allergies have been when I saw her yesterday.

I felt congested and had a slight headache when I woke up but after a hot shower and neti I was feeling better. While riding MAX into downtown a surge of the headache spiked above my right eye. CK spent the rest of the ride trying to block the sun from shining into my face. A latte from Backspace helped with the headache as did the rest of the walk to my office.

Around 11:30 the headache began to creep back into my awareness. I decided it was a need for lunch, but after having some curried lentil soup I felt generally lousy. By 1:30 I was checking with CK as to how she felt and letting her know my status. By 2pm I had that prickly, warm flush of a low fever and was talking to CK on the phone. She sent a message out to our Zen community asking for a volunteer to cover Ino duties for chanting service tonight.

I went ahead and went to my appointment with my therapist. She too insisted I acknowledge that my getting through my annual exam with my gynecologist without either a does of Xanax or bursting into tears is a significant success for me. We talked about all the changes going on, mostly just bringing to light the various tasks and anxieties. Paperwork, division of stuff & debts, what to do about my last name (if anything), settling into being with CK full-time, having kids, feeling like my pain is going to limit my ability to parent... And I touched upon a little bit of hurt I had been feeling.

I have been watching AM making plans, making many good decisions about what to do and how. I am so happy to see him doing this, moving along his path again instead of just coasting. I realized there was a part of me that felt irritated with him and when I sat with it I felt the hurt of his finally making these efforts when we're divorcing.

We talked about it, how it isn't entirely unreasonable to feel some of these things around his making efforts I've wanted to see him make for years. I'd really rather expend the real energy on being supportive, it is the most helpful, loving thing to do. It isn't as if I want to say to AM that I want us to try to keep the marriage together now that he's making these changes.

Ultimately nothing changes my being a lesbian. I know that I wouldn't be happy staying married to a man and having casual intimate relationships with women. I have never felt able to be fully open when intimate with someone "casually".

Finally being able to experience an open, loving relationship with a woman brings me face-first to the truth of just how many things about my sexuality have been patches to work around the fact that I wasn't being authentic. The more I express my essential self, the more my heart opens and I allow myself to be vulnerable, sharing myself completely with another person. That I get to choose a path that lets me be with another woman who is willing to share herself in love with me is an unexpected, un-hoped-for blessing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


The shorter days and decreasing temperature are getting to me.  It isn't even 9PM yet and I feel tired out already.  I feel sleepy and achy much of the time.  I was trying to remind myself that this time of year I always start to feel worse.  I believe this is what has been feeding my feeling of not being able to be active enough to co-parent with CK.

It was the first winter, sitting cold in the zendo, that I drifted away from my Zen community.  It would be well past spring before I finally went back, getting over my guilty feelings for having been away for so long.  The cold leaves me feeling tight, pulled in around myself even more so than my anxiety does. 

I was so grateful for the massage I had this afternoon.  There had been a little confusion around time, but BM saw me an hour later than I'd written down.  I live very close by her, so it made it possible.  She quickly threw a heated towel over me when I lay down, helping heat my tight muscles while she worked on releasing them.

While working on my back she moved over a spot, just about at the second thoracic vertebra, and I felt a surge of anxiety.  When IW has worked on my trigger points I've had emotions come up, but not usually during a massage.  She asked if it was too much and I found it wasn't, I was merely surprised to find it lurking there.  It felt like all my fear about aging, arthritis, and the leftover unsteadiness of having a physical exam on Monday.  The spot seemed to stand up off my back for several minutes, like a cat who's fur has been pet backwards, until lengthening out again.

I got to CK's afterwards and she was in middle of finishing up dinner.  It smelled wonderful and felt so nice to walk into the welcoming warmth of the flat.  She needed to finish up some work so I soaked in a tub of hot water and Epsom salts, which has helped further the effects of the massage.

It has been a quiet night.  I haven't felt like watching anything tonight.  We folded laundry, I updated the merit list to take to the Dharma center tomorrow, CK is watching tutorials.  I'm sitting in my pajamas writing, yawning hugely now and again, and am aware of feeling comfortable with her.  Not that I can't immediately touch the deep passion I feel for her, but this too is beautiful and sweet  It just feels companionable, warm and a nice sample of things that will only become more of our life together.  

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Merely the Effort

I had decided not to write tonight. I worked right up until going to teach yoga tonight, worked a little more, ate dinner, worked until nearly 10 and had not made enough progress. I decided that I could just not write tonight.

While brushing my teeth I reminded myself that this is part of my practice. Just the effort to write about my day, what my experiences are. Like sitting zazen, something I do even when I don't feel like it.

The stress of a changing life has been at such a constant hum lately that it has been easy to just not write, not even a few sentences. I've gotten better at sitting zazen, but slacked off on this practice.

And the thing is, today had some good and interesting moments. I'm just tired and want to go to bed instead of writing about them. Today I've had the chance to reflect upon not enjoying writing when I'm tired and not enjoying zazen before work (I spend most of my time trying to NOT plan my day).

What I'm trying to reflect upon out of those discoveries is the satisfaction of practicing whole-heartedly, as my teachers would say. In each case I just am being with my discomfort and irritation and practicing anyway. There is actually some peace, some pleasure in merely the effort of practicing.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Acceptance & Inequality

It was so nice to be back with CK this weekend, just enjoying each other's company. We went to see Milk, which was very good. Although I already knew the outcome of the movie the telling of the story was riveting. I felt tears in my eyes during the last minutes of the movie.

Being reminded of the past helps. There is more acceptance now for same-sex relationships. I am very grateful to be living in Portland where that acceptance is even more widespread.

Afterward CK & I walked around downtown for a little while -- enjoying the lights in the tree at Pioneer Courthouse Square, having a coffee at Powell's and picking up a few things at Whole Foods to round out our belated Thanksgiving Dinner. The feelings of gratefulness and frustration at how same-sex relationships continue to be discriminated against stayed with me while we were at Powell's. We had been looking at books about parenting and observing all the notes and special cases about trying to secure the rights of the non-birth parent made my head ache a little. Absolutely worth the effort, without question, but it acutely highlights the unfairness of marriage inequality.

We had fun in the kitchen making mashed potatoes (note -- NOT in the Kitchen Aid food processor next time, the consistency was rather pasty although it was still very tasty) and heating up the leftover pumpkin I'd made on Thanksgiving day. The next day I taught my class and we spent the day talking, being close, and cooking more. Today she went with me to a doctor's appointment, making time to be with me when I was anxious.

How utterly ordinary and simple. I am biased; being that I'm part of a lesbian relationship of course I think same-sex marriage is fair. However, I know I'd think this way where I in a heterosexual relationship. There is nothing usual for partners in a loving relationship to want to pursue commitment, publicly.

CK and I love and live our lives together in such perfectly usual ways. We go to the movies, stroll around holding hands, we shop for groceries, and occasionally kiss each other lightly when we're stopped at a street light. We make meals together, answer emails, love our pets, and pay taxes. There are many other ways in which we are each extraordinary, but our relationship is as simple and ordinary as any other couple. That we should somehow not think we are not worthy of marriage because we are "different" seems beyond absurd. Or at least it would be absurd if it didn't hurt so much.