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Poker in the Rear

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First Baby, New Life :)
  k2o4, Oct 29 2018

Originally posted on

Hello ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, yogis and gangstas, proletariat and bourgeois – we gather you all here today as fellow humans, to tell you a tale of life, a tale that we’ve each personally experienced, a tale about that moment when a human life is birthed from womb to world, water to air, and darkness to light.

Let me tell you about my experience, what it is like for a privileged white boy, who never wanted kids, to start a family. I’ve gone from drunkenly tipping porta potties for fun and angrily beating up strangers to vent, to tenderly holding this bundle of love in my arms and crying with joy as I look into my wife’s eyes. And am I ever glad that I made it here.

We’re both wounded kids, Penpa and I. Don’t get me wrong, everyone has childhood wounds, so I’m not saying we’re anything special. But I can’t talk about our first child without bringing up our root wounds. For us, this journey from pregnancy to birth has been a deep dive into the early traumas which have shaped us, and healing them so they aren’t passed on.

Our wounds were both around broken families. Hers while fleeing Tibet as a refugee and being left behind at a boarding school in India while her parents settled in Nepal to make a living. Mine after a drug bust sent my father to jail, which led to his deportation back to Guatemala and out of my life for 30 years.

So when we found out we were pregnant, we both felt a strong need to be an unbroken family, to be in love and raise the child together as a team, as lifetime teammates. That meant all the lingering bullshit we were still harboring inside us needed to be addressed, and the growth needed to happen now, no more procrastination. In that way, from the very start, this kid was cutting through our self deception and leading us into growth and transformation.

As first time parents, this entire experience has been a novel adventure delivering gorgeous views and regular challenges to step up and grow. As our baby developed in the womb, we both felt a powerful energy sweep over us, inspiring us to face what we’d been afraid to face. The spiritual power of bringing a new life into the world was unexpected, but greatly appreciated. While the pregnancy changed us, the birth was also a rebirth for us into the life of parents.

I’d hoped for a short labor, a “wake up in the morning with contractions starting, head to the birth center at midday, and get home by dinner to celebrate with the new arrival” type of labor.

What we got was contractions starting on Friday, which became intense enough that Penpa couldn’t sleep that night. The next morning they’d slowed a bit but were still coming regularly enough so that we knew it was no longer Braxton Hicks. We already had our 41 week appointment with the midwife set for that afternoon, so we went with our bags packed ready to stay and have the kid.

No such luck, as the midwife checked to find we were only 1 centimeter dilated and she said we were still only in latent (early) labor, which could last a while. She informed us that it was common for contractions to get accelerated at night due to melatonin and oxytocin levels rising, which was our experience that evening as contractions stayed spaced out till nightfall, when they got closer again, making it tough for Penpa to sleep.

Sunday repeated the previous days pattern, but contractions got more intense and we started thinking, “it’s gonna be a Monday baby!”

When we woke up Monday morning (more like I woke up and Penpa braved the day after another sleepless night) it felt like my vision was coming into fruition, as the contractions were stronger and more consistent, generally 6 to 3 minutes apart. By the afternoon we were getting long stretches of minute long contractions spaced 3 minutes apart, and by the evening we hit the magic number of 3-1-1; 3 minutes apart, 1 minute long, for 1 hour. That was our cue to head into the midwife, so we grabbed our bags and made the drive. Upon arrival to the birth center, we unpacked our bags, burned some incense and smudged each other, and got the water started in the tub. It was time to bring this baby into the world.

Or maybe not. The midwife did the cervical check and came back with some rattling news – it was only at 2 centimeters. While active labor is usually indicated by 3-1-1 contractions, the official measure is a cervical dilation of 5 to 6 centimeters. So we still had a bit of time to go, while these contractions were now no joke and happening all the time. It could be another 12 hours, or another couple days, before hitting enough dilation, no way to know for sure. What they did know was that we’re only supposed to be admitted at active labor, so they sent us to labor at home till we hit that mark.

We went home to another sleepless night of contractions spaced 3, or 2, or even 1 minute apart. By Tuesday morning Penpa was beat and saying things like “I think I’m gonna die”, but she kept riding the contraction waves out, switching positions from leaning on the birth ball, to laying in the tub, to child’s pose on the bed, and more. We weren’t sure how we’d know if she was dilated enough, but when the bloody show started increasing quickly and the contractions got so strong that she was beginning to feel urges to push, we decided it was time to go.

We got into the car for what turned out to be our last drive out to the midwife, arriving at 12:20pm. The cervical exam brought great news – she was 7.5 centimeters dilated!

By 1:40pm on October 16th our baby boy, Dorje GEM Khandro, arrived, birthed in the same tub where we’d started filling the water the night before. I caught him in my hands (with the guidance of the midwife) and we brought him up into Penpa’s arms. I cried with relief that our baby was safe and in our arms, relief that all my worries could now subside, our little Gem was here!

Penpa carried him to the bed where she laid down and held him on her chest as she delivered the placenta. The medical staff did their checkups while we laid on the bed with our beautiful baby boy and had our minds blown and hearts open wide from all the love pouring out.

It’s an experience of love that I don’t have words for, and which I’d been told about but never understood. There’s no understanding it till you have the experience for yourself, and I’m guessing any parent reading this knows exactly what I mean. I’ve continued to cry throughout the week since the birth from the overwhelming love and gratitude I feel. On an energetic level, I felt this blissful love blasting through my energy channels and transforming my energy body back to a flow I hadn’t felt since childhood.

After some initial breastfeeding I had the honor of cutting the cord. Then mama and baby Dorje took a well earned nap before we went home to eat dinner with grandma. She was blown away that we’d had the baby just 6 hours earlier, and were now home and eating instead of laid up in the hospital for several days like she’d been when I was born.

That night I couldn’t stop staring at our baby boy, rotating from awe, to tears of joy and gratitude, to relief, to love for my family – the amazing woman who brought my boy into the world, and this precious Gem which was already transforming me on every level of my being.

Since then I felt like I entered into season 2 of LOST and joined Desmond in the hatch, having to hit the button every 108 minutes. The midwifes told us to make sure we breastfed every 2 hours, which we tracked with our phones. Every time that alarm went off, the breastfeeding would start and we’d hit the button to reset the countdown again. We began our baby-moon and entered the world of sleep deprivation, the initiation ritual of all new parents.

After a week as parents Penpa said “Sleepless nights are worth it, when you have a treasure like this.” Oh, how right she is.

I'm now diving into my new life as a parent and an Innovative Yogi. I've been blessed to get to this place, and I feel like it's my duty to share what I've learned.

Meditation, breathing, yoga, mindfulness, and soul work have been the essential tools for my transformation, and through Innovative Yogis I'm offering training and coaching to anyone who wants to learn them.

Poker set me on the path of meditation thanks to a great CardRunners series called "The Eight Fold Path To Poker Enlightenment". While I'd been exposed to meditation all my life, I didn't actually try to get good at it till I realized how much it would help me improve my poker game (especially managing tilt and staying focused).

While my poker skills improved, so did my life overall, and it was the first step on my path of personal evolution to the person I am today. It makes me happy to be able to offer that back to the poker community, so hit me up if you want to my help as you travel your path

P.S. I'm still on the babymoon, spending lots of time with my newborn son, but will be available for online sessions starting next week

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Comments (11)

Long Time No See
  k2o4, Aug 16 2018

Well hello there people who still use LP,

Don't shoot, I come in peace

I first started posting blogs back in 2007, and boy did I post a lot. I'm happy to see that I still have the record for most blog posts on the site, holding strong at 633 (but DustySwedeDude is catching up, so I have to start posting again to hold onto this auspicious achievement).

It used to be so damn busy here, a hustle and bustle of online poker activity. I guess that was the poker boom, and the end of BW, and the arrival of smart phones, and the rise of social media's domination of content... all factors which I'm guessing led to this slightly ghost town vibe.

But that means those of you who are still here, are truly dedicated. I appreciate that, cause out of all the online communities I joined into, this is definitely the one I shared the most with. I was close with my StarCraft teams, but I was generally the manager and focused on running the thing rather than enjoying it. Here at LP I was just focused on poker and me, and it was fun to meet so many of you during those times, to learn poker, to talk shit, to be exposed to all sorts of interesting topics and debates... ahh good memories.

When I quit grinding after my trip to Southeast Asia, I continued on the path of being focused on me, and finally experienced the joy of attending school because of wanting to be there, not because someone is forcing me. I decided to use my time in school as an opportunity to research and learn about everything I'd ever been curious about, and come to my own conclusions. I'd gotten really good at copying other people's statements on controversial topics, and while they worked during interactions out in the world, I didn't actually know the logic or data behind why the statements were true, or even if they were true.

Going back to university and taking it seriously was a big awakening to me, as I first got my mind blown by all the mainstream info about how amazing the universe is, and then got my whole world shattered when I realized the mainstream answers were limited and it was ok to jump off the cliff into the crazy answers, into the world of investigating consciousness and what this reality really is. And when I say shattered, I mean things were falling to pieces all around me, I had no idea how to interact with the world anymore upon realizing that so much of my behavior was wrong or beliefs were not true. I went back to school as a 26 year old in 2010, but halfway through I'd crumbled back to my 12 year old self, as I realized that everything I'd used to build my personality during my teenage years wasn't based on me, just based on copying in an attempt to survive. I had to relearn how to be around people, and new techniques for dealing with the anxiety which had always plagued me. It was a total nervous breakdown, which I soon learned was also my spiritual awakening.

The biggest realization I had was that healing was important. I'd always done my best to be tough and strong and recover quickly and not feel it and numb the pain and don't be a pussy and be a man. My closest friends as a teenager were all going through the same thing, and we'd often become friends because we met by punching each other in the face, and we'd be tough during the day but when we got drunk enough at night tears and bro hugs would arise. Then we'd go destroy some property or beat someone up to feel better, not realizing how the destruction always made us feel worse in the end. We were friends cause we had brief moments of healing together, but we didn't know how to truly heal because everything we'd learned about being a man was getting in the way.

Halfway through my Psychology degree I decided that continuing to get straight A's wasn't as important as diving into the crazy stuff. It started with marijuana. I used the university's resources to do a deep dive into the research, and I found out about the conspiracy theory level shenanigans which had occurred to suppress the scientific truth about cannabis. I realized that the opportunity to legalize was fast approaching and that Colorado could be the first domino tipped to start a process of legalization around the world, so I dedicated myself to the political process and organized my campus. We crushed it and won a huge victory, something I'll be proud of being part of until my dying day <3

Along the way I opened up to alternative healing modalities, and especially the world of meditation and yoga. I'd grown up with exposure to both through my dad, but had always rejected them as woo woo, weirdo, extremely unenjoyable, and a place where crazy people hung out and talked about spiritual mumbo jumbo. But that piece of my personality had fallen of when everything shattered, so I began to tiptoe cautiously into what had always looked like the abyss...

Luckily my childhood exposure to family friends like Richard Davidson, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Daniel Goleman, amongst many other amazing minds of our time, had grounded me in how to scientifically approach the world of meditation. You see, my dad started something called the Mind and Life Institute, which has been bridging science and spiritual practices for over 30 years. It all started by bringing scientists to India for a meeting with the Dalai Lama, and has grown into a vibrant community of scientists and contemplative practitioners who are learning from each other. The meetings inspired loads of research, including the famous studies done by Richard Davidson with Mattieu Ricard. With the data they collected a new mainstream acceptance to the benefits of meditation has developed. I watched that process happen around me as a kid growing up, and it informed so much of how I approached my psychology degree, and my personal dive into the abyss.

As I began to practice yoga and meditation, it became clear that I needed to make it my lifestyle. I became a yoga teacher and began teaching 8 classes a week, of all types and styles. As my practice developed I learned more and more about my body, about my thoughts, about my energy... I began to feel things I'd never felt, see things from new perspectives, and find new ways of interacting with myself. While my personal research into "wtf is going on in this world and who the hell am I" had left me shattered, my practice of meditation and yoga helped to build me back up into a new person, updated to version 2.0.

That started a path of healing for me, which I'm still on right now. I've had a few more upgrades since then, often thanks to the beautiful help given by plant medicines while working with loving shamans, and I know I have many more patches left to come. But I'm finally starting to be ok with that, to be ok with being on this ride, on this journey of growth and evolution.

Resisting what is, resisting the bad feelings, resisting how things are... that has been my habit, that has been my pattern. Meditation has been the great teacher of learning to accept what is, right now, as it is. Learning to allow what is happening, to happen. And to be fully present with myself, my emotions, my stories, my thoughts, my energy, without resisting or forcing anything.

So the journey continues, as I'm just a silly noob who has barely begun upon the path. But I'm happy to see that I'm not alone, as a few of you other long time members are now talking about meditation, Buddhism, addiction, and healing. I guess this site is still about poker, but for those of us who have been using it for over a decade, maybe it's also now about our journey of evolution from the fervent pursuit of money, believing it was what we needed for happiness, to a deep dive into ourselves to find that inner source of happiness which doesn't depend on the transient nature of the external reality.

Or maybe I've just become a woo woo hippie dippy crazy person I guess that's ok too <3

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Comments (19)

T-Leech invite anybody? ^_^
  k2o4, Jul 06 2014

Hello you pokerers who keep pokering things with your pokers.

For those moments where TPB can't fulfill a internet wanderers needs, I am ill equipped. Any help in expanding the boundaries of my movie browsing landscape would be much appreciated.

Oh, as for updates, got the bachelors in psychology this May and am enjoying a "figure your life out" type of summer. Got some fun plans coming together, so maybe I'll write something here about them once they come closer to fruition. Hope all of you fun souls I met at poker tables, or Vegas parties, or Bnet chatrooms, are still living it up

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