Tai Chi: the right way

Consistently I ask detail questions in class.  What foot is weighted?  Do you sit back before that move? I usually get some form of the same answer.  Both ways can be used.  Perhaps even a third.  Once you learn the basic moves, the nuance becomes art, the art of Tai Chi.

What is the transition into Fist Under Elbow, I asked today.  Ah.  I did not see that before. Good.  That forward step makes sense.

I love teaching Tai Chi.  I also love just being a student and absorbing what I can in any given moment.  First there will be the limitation of the day.  What body part just is not going to cooperate with my inner vision of grace, beauty, flow, connection to Heaven and Earth.

A few weeks ago I tweaked my left knee (that’s another story).  With regular acupuncture sessions at HamsterPuncture,  community acupuncture by Ed Layton, an intuitive and brilliant healer, I’m ready to go.  Until the next time.  And that deep squat thing in Qigong, forget it.  This body may never get that low without pain.  Too bad I didn’t start to study this when I was seventeen.  But here I am with another seven and doing what I can each day. 

I love the days that flow.  I endure the days when my timing is off, when I loose balance on a kick,  when I forget what form I’m doing.  As I say to my students, you can’t learn without mistakes.  Tai Chi is a lifetime practice, not an eight week course and you get a certificate. 

There is no right way.  There is only what you can do in this moment.  Let the Chi flow.

A New Tattoo

You want a tattoo.  You think about it.  Perhaps you’re a little afraid.  And what  kind of artwork will you carry for life?

My first tattoo was perhaps 35 years ago.  I pondered briefly…and knew a butterfly would symbolize the inner transformations evolving in my life.  My friend drove me to Riverside and dropped me at the corner tattoo shop where I found a fabulous artist who had a degree in art but couldn’t get work.  He called himself a dermagraphologist.  Lovely title, eh?  Unfortunately I don’t remember his name or I’d look him up on Facebook and see if he still adorned the flesh.  I got three tattoos from him.  That alone will be another story.  Long and feisty and in retrospect funny.

But why wait thirty five years for another tattoo?  Well, I did get a Celtic tattoo symbol of the triple goddess in 2003.  And in 2010 I decided the best way to celebrate seven decades was with a new tattoo.  I envisioned a vine on my arm and then with flowers and then with flowers the color of the chakras, including the Star chakra above the head.  And — after asking anyone tattooed in Bellingham (or Seattle)–I heard the name Brian again and again.  So, he was who I would go to…I found Brian and my tattoo to honor not only my longevity on the planet but also the healing of the fractured tuberosity of the humerus is a complete work of art.

So, what would the next tattoo be?  It lingers as an invitation.  What would that be like to have a yin/yang symbol, to have an Egyptian goddess…say, Isis in her classic form with massive rainbow wings, what if….on and on I dreamed.

Two of my totem animals spoke to me regularly and with such intensity that I could only honor them.  I went to Brian with my ideas.  A raven and an owl.  Day and night.  Raven cautioning me to be alert and pay attention.  Owl keeps my back, filters my dreams, soothes my restless sleep.

And so another journey has begun.  I’ll keep you posted.

Truth vs Dogma

I used to know The Truth.  Truth with a capitol letter walked with the swag of dogma.  Dogma presenting with a snide grin and accompanied by narrow mindedness and insufficient facts that draw a bead on truth but even then might miss the bulls eye as it rips the target.

The eyes of truth tremble in a kaleidoscope and you cannot scope it out.  The vain attempt to get the truth as if you were a reporter.  You give up the search for Upper Case Truth but find that even lower case is an illusive character.  You’ve chased both cases all your life, allowing always for new input, which simply erases or smudges what is known.

Put on your roller skates and follow truth down the sidewalk on his/her gender neutral skateboard.  Soon you are bored with repetition and are jolted awake as Truth leaps a wall and dives into bubbling waters to swim beyond your ken.  You know nothing, the ken of no thing.

No one can know the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god and the judge will not even mention your goddess so you’d just best not go to court with this truth issue binding your tongue.

Truth is a perception in a moment.  Moments should hold Truth aloft to praise and admire but you know you would admire truth at your own risk.  You slump down in your chair, admitting this truth search is risky business.  Still you wander out under the fir trees, search under garden rocks and watch sow bugs roll into tight wads of hidden truth you will never figure out.

Out in the open baring your truth-grasping kite  to the wind, or inside with your nose in a book, you do not notice truth laughing at the top of the cedar tree.  Only the wind or full moon light will tell you that trees are truth keepers, silently rooting and listening to whispering breezes and drumming rains.

Should the truth rain down, you’d probably pop up an umbrella and then filter it for contamination and still you will only find a nugget of its essence which might be sufficient for some but never enough for you.

When it comes to you, this moment of truth, true knowing, will you be aware?  Some day you may hold a handful of truth and toss it aside, thinking it is grime.  You will wash your hands of truth.

Drop your dogma in the garbage disposal and polish your trifocals because truth might be just around the next corner.

“Flowers for Algernon”

Flowers for Algernon, the novel first published in 1966 by Daniel Keyes, is one of my all time favorites.  A brilliant commentary on intelligence, assumptions, social expectations, science and how society deals with different ethical and moral challenges.  I hesitated to see the movie “Charly”*, based on the book.  Few movies can ever exceed the written word.  So, I wondered what it would look like in the theatre with more restrictions but also more intimacy than film.

Last night we went to see Flowers for Algernon staged by Bellingham Theatre Guild.  Clever staging with few props allowed the audience to see Charlie* evolve from a happy person with low intelligence to a post surgical man with ever increasing intelligence unable to fit into any social situation. 

Lucas Naylor’s portrayal of Charlie Gordon deserves a standing ovation.  His speech and body language mirror Charlie’s IQ with remarkable credibility.  This was basically a one man show with minor support characters.  We hear Charlie Gordon’s shift in consciousness through a series of progress reports, initiated after he agrees to experimental surgery based on lab experiments with rats; the successful and now intelligent rat being Algernon.

The relevance of this work today is striking with the rise of Alzheimer’s disease and how we react to the loss of intelligence and the ability to cope in the world.

I was surprised to read that the book has been banned from libraries in both the United States and Canada and pleased to know that it is taught in schools worldwide. 

Bravo to community theatre for taking on this controversial subject matter.  That’s what theatre is all about. 


*The book spelling is “Charlie” and the movie “Charly.”



Impulse Buying

I have a list scrawled on the back of a business card.  JoAnn’s to buy bags to put books in when I sell them tomorrow.  Not just any old books.  THE book.  My novel just published under the cover title “Catching My Breath.”  Authors & Artists Afternoon, my first publicity event, at the Barn in Sudden Valley.  If it’s raining I want to put the book in a bag.  I buy bags plus two and a half yards of glorious glittery fabric for a belly dancing veil.  OK.  That was on impulse.

Then I go to Goodwill and buy pants to wear tomorrow.  They’re brand new and will look good with my new shoes which I pick up at the next stop at the Shoe Repair Shop in the mall.  New shoes never just come home and go dancing.  First we stop and drop off the right shoe because my right leg is an inch shorter than the left.  I get the right one built up.  No impulse buying.  (I’m not a mall shopper and scurry in and out.)

Then to the Country Store, you know the one down there on Meridian and Birchwood?  For cat food.  Hamilton is quite picky about what he eats.  Well, let’s just say he won’t eat most canned cat food and I’ve found one he can tolerate.  Between my car and the cat food aisle is temptation.  Shelves and shelves of plants!  Wonderful bushes, fabulous trees and amazing prices.

I forget I have a cat.  I sniff and touch and peruse the herbs and annuals, wander among rhodies and dogwood, admire Japanese maples and …wait a minute, did I say dogwood?  Really?  I backtrack.  No label.  A young man comes to help as soon as I look confounded.  He calls in the horticultural expert.  She confirms it is a dogwood and that it is indeed sixteen bucks.  For a very healthy large specimen.  Of course I buy it.  Plus three viburnum.  At such a great price I can’t even tell you.  You wouldn’t believe me. 

All of this qualifies for IMPULSE buying.  But it’s for the garden.  That’s how I garden.  I’ve spent winters planning gardens.  Now, I create in the moment and the result is playful and wonder-filled.  And definitely impulsive.

The “real” impulse comes at the check out counter.  I see a display of ladybugs.  Little red net packages.  Really?  I haven’t bought ladybugs in years.  I pick it up, peering to see if they’re actually alive and moving.  Yes.  They look sleepy but eager to come home with me.  I buy a thousand ladybugs.

They tickle my fingers as I release them to the aphids and other fine tasty morsels in my garden.  Too bad they don’t like slugs.  I text Michael…just by speaking.  I’ve just learned to use this aspect of my smart phone, which will probably always be smarter than I am.  I press a  little microphone symbol and speak words that are perfectly spelled.  Even “sluggo”.

That’s my impulse of the week.  What do you impulse buy?

Oh, yes.  I did remember to buy cat food.