Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy Days

Today was grey, damp, and overcast after a night filled with rain. I knew instinctively that a pre-work T'ai Chi Chih practice would greatly benefit me this morning since it felt difficult to move my body (and mind!).

Sure enough ... I had a deeply quiet practice (neither Frances nor the animals made a peep while I glided through the motions). And, after a slow start to the day (and my half-hour practice time filled with quiet slowness), I went to work and moved quickly and efficiently through my day.

Nighttime has arrived and I'm eagerly anticipating tomorrow's arrival of one of my favorite people. She, too, is a T'ai Chi Chih teacher and Reiki practitioner which means that I'll look forward to sharing several practice sessions during her extended weekend visit. (Even if the sun doesn't shine while she's here I imagine that we'll still experience plenty of light with all that Chi flowing....)

It's that time again ... fall T'ai Chi Chih classes begin two weeks from tomorrow and Thursday. Duty calls and I need to answer that call with some basic prep and ordering of materials. Happy days are here again....

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ahh, Fall

Today was one of those perfect fall mornings: sunny and slightly crisp.

First Frances and I took a bike ride in the gathering warmth. Then I stepped onto the deck to practice T'ai Chi Chih. It was glorious!

I stood in the center of a large spot of sunshine with the shadowy woods before me. While I practiced I was visited first, by Namaste, and later, by Lucy. They calmly and quietly watched me move as they, too, enjoyed the brilliant sunshine. I felt my heart slow, my breath deepen, and my mind clear as I moved through the familiar motions.

After practice I flew into the bathtub and then off to work. Still, those precious minutes of TCC practice in the gorgeous fall weather made all the difference. By the end of the day a Nor'easter blew in and I was thankful that I took the time to bike and meditate outside in today's beauteous warmth....

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Today was Social SunDay. What a lovely way to spend a beautiful fall afternoon....

Two out-of-town friends arrived with lunch and we filled several hours with food and conversation. After they left for the Twin Cities Frances and I attended a harvest party at a permaculture farm down the road. During a tour of the premises we explored gardens, greenhouses, ponds, and nurseries and accumulated a wealth of information. What a gift and inspiration to have such a diverse and life-sustaining enterprise right down the road from where were live!

It wasn't until late evening when I slowed down to practice T'ai Chi Chih. By then, of course, my energy was flagging. But, true to form, TCC practice renewed my energy and buoyed my spirit.

I feel incredibly lucky to have so many wonderful, caring, intelligent, and earth-loving people in my life (and neighborhood!). Truly, I'm blessed.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Today's T'ai Chi Chih practice occurred in the midst of animal escapades: first came Lucy who followed me to the middle of the driveway and began to graze. Next came Rosie who hopped the low lying fence into the north ravine with Sandie following her lead. Then Chiripa switched into predator mode and tracked the scratching hens until she realized she was stalking her friends, the chickens.

Throughout this entire scenario I flowed through my practice as I enjoyed the yellow-tinted scenery and the animal antics. It was quite a show.

Later Frances, Namaste, and I walked at the beach as the sun broke through cloud-covered skies. It was a welcome surprise after a full week of clouds and rain. Back home, I continued my TCC practice in the basement. Again, I enjoyed a quarter hour of quiet relaxation.

Our peaceful evening was recently interrupted by Namaste's frantic barking. The reason? A visiting raccoon stuck its head into the goose pail and chomped on Lucy's lettuce. Our claps and hollers merely drove Mr. or Ms. Raccoon up a tree until we gave up and retired indoors. Soon Mr./Ms. Raccoon returned to earth to scarf up spilt cracked corn.

And now it's dark. Who knows what animals may be circulating and feeding right outside our door?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Yellow Fever

Our forest has yellow fever. And it's spreading quickly. Few leaves have fallen but the golden glow is here.

Yes, I'm back to my moving, talking, active self. It feels great! I did my T'ai Chi Chih practice outside on the deck this afternoon after temperatures rose to 50 degrees. It was so quiet, peaceful, calm.

The cat assumed a statuesque pose by one of the vegetable gardens. As I watched her closely I noted that she had a chipmunk in view (beneath one of the bean plants). Eventually she made a half-hearted effort to chase the chippie, then abandoned her post.

Meanwhile I easily moved through my T'ai Chi Chih practice as I enjoyed the beauty and quietude of my surroundings. I felt good enough to take a bike ride after my TCC practice.

Ah, good health feels so wonderful.... I'm intent on embracing the beauty of fall colors, smells, sights, and sounds for as long as they're here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Feeling Better

For the first time this week I feel more "normal" (whatever that is!).

I actually ate three meals today (for first time since last Sunday). And now that I feel better I realize that I was, indeed, ill. And, yes, it was not a figment of my imagination that I ached all over, slept for hours (night and day), and barely managed to eat.

Tonight I practiced T'ai Chi Chih after I spent much of the afternoon in the kitchen cooking up the remnants of our garden tomatoes (tomato soup and spaghetti sauce to toss in the freezer). Plus I made pesto.

My TCC practice was a mixture of movements from the beginning of the form interwoven with movements from the end of the form. I realized as I began to move that I've felt so tired and low lately that my only goal was to get through the form and complete my practice. Tonight when I skipped from beginning to end to beginning again, I couldn't really keep track of where I was in my practice and so ... the practice didn't feel so onerous.

Naturally it helps to feel better physically. Which helps me to feel better mentally. And that allows me to remain present in my practice and enjoy it more. All in all ... I'm feeling better.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Bird's Eye View

I'm finally beginning to realize that I have the flu or something.... I barely slept last night. My body ached so badly during the night that I finally rose around 4:00 a.m. to take aspirin. Then, and finally then, I fell into a deep, restful sleep.

And sleep I did. I rose around 9:30 a.m., ate a small breakfast, took more aspirin, and went back to bed. When I arose at 2:00 p.m., my bodily aches and pains had abated but my stomach was in an uproar. Yes, okay, these feelings aren't all in my head after all.

By late afternoon I felt a wee bit better. At least better enough to do my T'ai Chi Chih practice. I moved out to the porch and practiced as I watched the goose graze and wander the yard. Again, it felt good to move and breathe. By practice end Lucy stood directly in front of me. She tilted her head sideways to get a bird's eye view of my doings.

Yes! Another half-hour of self care and self-healing. I feel better and am hopeful that tonight's sleep will be restful and healing....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

T'ai Chi Chih Practice in the Library

I definitely dragged myself through my workday today. I was tired and my body felt sore (luckily my stomach seems to be improving). So--truth be told--the last thing I wanted to do was a T'ai Chi Chih practice....

Nevertheless I prevailed. I launched into my practice immediately after I closed the library (I avoided situating myself in front of the magazine rack tonight!). It felt good to move and breathe and stretch and work my muscles. So, after the fact, I'm still tired and sore but somehow uplifted.

I hear thunder echoing outside right now and it's thoroughly dark. So I'll head for home. Hopefully, this day and this TCC practice is moving me down the road to recovery.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ill Feelings

Yesterday ended with severe stomach upset. I went to bed early and rose late. After breakfast I returned to bed for a nap.

Regardless, I hoped to get in a mini-T'ai Chi Chih practice before I left for work. And I did. At the end of practice I still felt extremely tired but drove to work anyway. I finished my workday then resumed my T'ai Chi Chih practice in front of the magazine rack at the library. (I don't know that I'll do that again ... it's too distracting.)

I feel a bit better now but it seems to me that it will be another early-to-bed night. Hopefully tomorrow I'll feel better.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Anytime is the Right Time

Friday, September 16, 2011:

Too much to do today, too little time. Our weekend guest arrived before I finished stashing newly purchased groceries in the frig and freezer. After he settled in, we walked the Brownstone Trail, ate dinner out, and watched a DVD together. Then (surprise!) it was time for bed.

I flowed through a slow, relaxed half-practice, before I slid between the sheets and was on my way to dreamland.

Saturday, September 17, 2011:

Today I began my day with an early T'ai Chi Chih practice. I wanted to feel calm, relaxed, and energetic before we headed off for a long walk beside Lake Superior. And, yes, it's wonderful to begin the day with a dose of quietude, peace, and inner tranquility.

It was another busy day filled with good food, conversation, sightseeing, and walking/talking. I felt grateful to begin with TCC practice but was too tired when evening arrived to catch up with my blogs. And so....

Sunday, September 18, 2011:

Darkness. Clouds. Rain. Repeat.

We ate a leisurely breakfast with our guest and then bid him adieu. After I washed dishes I headed for the porch and T'ai Chi Chih practice. I positioned myself before the watchful gaze of Lucy and flowed through practice. Meanwhile Lucy kept me under surveillance as she tipped her head up to sip from a constant stream of water that flowed down the rain gutter. (I didn't know she did that!)

The air was moist and filled with chi. I easily slowed myself down because it was, pure and simple, a quiet, rainy, lazy day. Perhaps practice did open me up to receive the quiet peacefulness more deeply ... shortly after I finished my moving meditation I stretched out on the couch and took a nap.

Bedtime. Early morning. Lunchtime. Anytime is the right time for a T'ai Chi Chih practice....

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Weathering the Weather

It seemed likely that because we covered our tomatoes and summer squash last night it didn't freeze. When I woke, though, I felt like I was freezing. The cooling trend brought our house temps down to 50 and it took me most of the day to warm up.

In late afternoon Frances and I took a walk. We had the good fortune to see two deer (twice!), one black bear, and a number of confused baby turkeys that attempted to cross the road (in both directions!). Halfway through our walk my internal thermostat finally registered "warm."

After we returned home I ventured outside for my T'ai Chi Chih practice. I placed myself within easy view of Sandie and Rosie who decided mid-practice to wander off to bed in the goose barn. Since that was where Chickie Woo was nabbed by the fisher(?), I broke from my TCC practice to lock them safely away.

Then I returned to my practice and turned my intention toward achieving even greater relaxation. I wore gloves during tonight's TCC practice which helped me stay warm and comfortable. Then I focused my eyes on bright splotches of yellow that continue to expand further and further into the forest. It does, indeed, feel like fall!

Tomorrow I expect a friend from junior college to arrive for a weekend visit. It will be wonderfully fun to reconnect after so many years spent pursuing our individual lives....

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hardening Off

It's still a week away but I can say with authority: Fall has arrived! Temps this AM: 40. Tonight's forecast: 32. Brrr. It's brisk ... and wonderful!

During childhood I looked forward to the first frost. It meant that I had my life and health back. Hayfever season was over. Now that I live near Lake Superior I don't struggle with ragweed allergies.

Nevertheless, fall still inspires me to step into a new realm where the air feels and smells delightfully fresh. I also begin the process--just as I would with seedlings before setting them out into bright sunlight--of hardening myself off and getting my body used to the idea, and reality, of the cold months to come. (Hmmm. That's an interesting realization given that I'm scheduled to visit my cardiologist today for a one year followup about my heart condition ... hardening of the arteries.)

Don't get me wrong: I like fall and winter. There is an aura of freshness, purity, and beauty during those long winter months. But--I admit!--it takes time to transition my body and mind into the next few seasons.

My outdoor practice this morning was chilly. Foolishly I decided not to wear gloves and by practice end my fingers were frozen. But ... it was beautiful. Fabulous sunlight. Shades of yellow creeping through leaves in the forest. The cat vigorously hunting through the undergrowth. And one lone hummingbird who hasn't yet started her migration flitting around the garden.

Post-practice I'm now prepared to drive to Duluth for my cardiologist appointment. And, perhaps, I'll sneak in a short TCC practice while I'm waiting to see him....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Bedtime Story

It's been a long day filled with constant projects, questions, and demands. I came home from the library exhausted and ready to crash but first I needed to feed animals and then myself.

After dinner I felt extremely tired. I made myself a cup of Stress Relief Yogi tea, flopped myself in a comfy chair, and opened a book. Some time later I felt capable of beginning a T'ai Chi Chih practice (seated, not standing).

Thankfully I'm committed to following through on a daily TCC practice and blog. Otherwise I know that I would have easily allowed Monkey Mind to convince me that I was too tired to practice. I did feel too tired to practice. And ... I did it anyway.

Soon enough I felt the energy (chi) flow and my muscles (physical and mental) released their tension. Now that I'm even more relaxed I'm ready for bed and ... there's no stopping me.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Floating, Shifting, Drifting ...

It's another beautiful late summer morn.... Unlike the previous four days clouds clot the sky, then disappear.
The breeze, ah, the breeze. An entire chorus of Greek gods must be breathing together in unison because there is so much power and potency flowing through the sky.

Glimpses of fall creep through the woods. The ferns and occasional trees have begun the process of shifting their summer wardrobe into yellow, gold, and brown hues.

During my morning pre-work T'ai Chi Chih practice I imagined myself floating, shifting, and drifting like a leaf riding the rise and fall of the wind. I wished to lighten my movements and, perhaps, I accomplished that objective to some degree.

A visit with a friend yesterday afternoon inspired me. She recently spent six months in New Zealand and her travel stories revolved around the energy and electricity that underlies all life ... the oneness of us all. I wished to experience that oneness more deeply. I wanted to become the forest instead of simply remaining a disconnected, disenchanted human observer of my surroundings.

I'll keep working at it....

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Stained with Energy

Saturday, September 10, 2011:

T'ai Chi Chih practice was short and sweet this evening after Frances, Namaste, and I returned from a trip to the beach. We stood in the water then briefly swam which is almost unheard of (for us!) due to the refreshingly cold water of Lake Superior. The air temp was in the low 70s as the sun slowly descended toward the horizon.

During TCC practice my fingers were filled with energy. Was it due to my earlier dip in the lake? My hard work-at-home energy-filled day? Or??? Whatever the reason, it felt wonderful to experience the fullness of energy in my hands.

I didn't write my blog last night for one simple reason ... the computer was turned off. I couldn't convince myself to turn it on because--surprise!--I thoroughly enjoyed being internet-free for one entire day. Ah, the simple joys of life.

Sunday, September 11, 2011:

I did my T'ai Chi Chih practice early this morning before we began our hustle and bustle. The breeze is stronger today, strong enough to blow a tree down on the edge of the woods south of our deck. What can I say? It felt absolutely wonderful to take time to truly slow down and relax with no immediate agenda pending.

I admit, after staining the siding all day yesterday I'm less than eager to jump back into the fray. Besides, it's hot and sunny again and I'm in day of rest mode.

And so I slowed myself and slowed myself and s..l...o.....w.....e....d myself. I kept my eyes on the distant horizon with Lake Superior sparkling in the foreground. And now, post-lunch, I'm ready (I guess!) to take on some more work on the siding....

Friday, September 9, 2011

Homemade. Homegrown. Home practice.

Due to warm, rain-free weather yesterday Frances and I decided to caulk and paint the house. We started on the sun-faded, weather-beaten south side and--already!--it looks beautiful.

I waited until after dark today to practice T'ai Chi Chih since every moment of light is precious this time of year as we winterize, winterize, winterize. It was a split practice due to a very late dinner of homemade spaghetti sauce made with homegrown tomatoes.

I did the first half of practice while the pasta noodles boiled. After dinner and cleanup I resumed my practice (I didn't wait for two hours after eating to practice since I also wished to get to bed at a reasonable hour which, by the way, is drawing nigh).

Both partial practices felt good to--and for--body and soul. I've regained my energy after our out-of-town travels and I'm raring to go. Which is a good thing. Tomorrow? More painting....

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Not a Miracle Remedy but ... It's Something

Saturday, September 3, 2011:

I began this wedding day with a T'ai Chi Chih practice outside on the land where Frances and I lived the last eight years we resided in the Twin Cities. It felt so familiar to move on the same earth where I'd moved so many times before (both T'ai Chi Chih and T'ai Chi Ch'uan practices). In many ways it was still home and yet ... not home.

The next day one of our co-property owners told me that it was wonderful to look out the window and see me moving through my T'ai Chi practice. It felt so familiar until he, too, remembered that I no longer lived there.

I chose a practice spot further down the yard and closer to the marsh than my years' earlier spot. It's less sunny and more insect-filled. Still, I wanted to be away from the tumult and noise of morning wake-ups and pre-wedding plans. And, sure enough, almost immediately I felt a stinging sensation on one leg. When I looked down, I discovered five or six mosquitoes breakfasting on my blood.

The bone-deep familiarity of my practice yard comforted and relaxed me as I moved into the flurry of this celebratory day.

Sunday, September 4, 2011:

I felt tired this morning. Pure and simple, I'm not used to crowds of people (200 wedding guests) and loud dance music (an assault to my eardrums). Nonetheless, it was a fun evening.

I didn't dive into my T'ai Chi Chih practice until the day was nearly done. Instead I took it slow, visited with the mother and father of the bride as well as an aunt, uncle, and other guests. Then Frances and I took a walk in a nearby park, joined another friend for the movie The Help (very good!), and made fresh tomato soup for the worn out parents of the bride.

Finally, when readying myself for bed I stepped into TCC practice and let the busyness and social interactions of the day simply slide off me. Soon practice emptied me into bed where I slept deeply.

Monday, September 5, 2011:

Labor Day! For Frances and me it was a travel day. Before we headed home we stopped to visit with a friend. The three of us searched for an open restaurant for lunch and finally settled on Holy Land in northeast Minneapolis. Delish!

Then we were on the road for hours ... and hours.

Again, I moved into my practice just before I slipped into bed. Another full day of activity was shed from my body and mind as I moved through my practice. Then ... snnnnn....oooo.....rrrrr.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011:

Today I was back to work at the library. Tired and moving slowly. I urged myself (body and mind) through the day and then slid through an abbreviated T'ai Chi Chih practice before relaxing on the couch and watching a movie. Soon, very soon, I was in bed.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011:

I could barely wake myself up today. My week plus of constant activity, visits with friends, and hayfever symptoms was catching up with me! I napped for hours, read a book, and pulled myself out of bed for an evening sail on Lake Superior (offered by Catchun' Sun to Bayfield Chamber members).

It was a perfect night. Not much wind but enough to push us around the lake at three knots or so. Again, I returned home and fitted myself into an end-of-the-day T'ai Chi Chih practice that expanded my floating-gliding-sailing sensations into even deeper relaxation. Then ... sleep.

Thursday, September 8, 2011:

Today was agenda-free. I washed dishes, picked blackberries and vegetables, and then settled into a long, relaxed T'ai Chi Chih practice (the first full practice in five days). It was hot! Mid-70s with a very slight breeze that came and quickly went.

Still, it felt delicious to be back out on the deck, surrounded by woods and the quiet, whispering rush of a chipmunk scampering through undergrowth. It's true. I enjoy the absolute silence and peace of my home away from traffic, city streets, yard lights, barking dogs, and ringing telephones. Perhaps I appreciate this peace even more after I've been away from it and have had an opportunity to witness the chaos that invades so many people's lives.

I'm deeply grateful for the slow, peaceful silence that enters my life when I invest half-an-hour a day in a T'ai Chi Chih practice. It's not a miracle remedy but ... it's something.

Friday, September 2, 2011

With Every Step

I didn't sleep well last night (that's usually not a problem for me as I'm typically a deep and instant sleeper). After a difficult evening conversation with friends I slipped into persistent, unidentifiable feelings of anxiety. Of course, it would have helped to do several T'ai Chi Chih movements but I was tired and the obvious solution didn't enter my mind.

Instead I read and napped, read and napped. As a result I didn't get enough rest last night and I find myself moving slowly through this day.

This morning's T'ai Chi Chih practice offered respite and balance. It allowed me to reacquaint myself with the realm of stillness. Still, I'm giving myself lots of permission to move slowly and quietly through my day before we meet with another group of friends this evening.

I'm unsure whether I'll have access to a computer over the next few days of wedding prep and celebration. This may well be my final entry until I return to the forest.... And, yes, I'll be doing a daily T'ai Chi Chih practice on every step of this journey.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Our Wurst is Best

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Frances, Namaste, and I are in the car en route to the Twin Cities. It's overcast, drizzly, and the low tire indicator light just came on. The ding led us to stop at TJ's Country Corner (est. 1977) in Mahtowa.

It's a bright yellow building touting the ad: "Our Wurst is Best" (wild rice brats, potato sausage, etc.). It sounds rather Taoist, don't you think?

Our 9:00 a.m. departure was pushed back to 10, 11, 12, 1 pm. Finally, after our animal sitters arrived (they told us they'd show up after we left), we took off just before 2:00 p.m.

I practiced TCC in the quiet porch before anyone stirred at home. Usually I get caught in the morass of departure to dos so it was helpful to take a break before the final car packing.

There were still many chores to perform. Still coolers to load, clothes to pack, dishes to wash, animals to feed. And, even though I rushed, I did so with a quieter frame of mind. And now--ta da!--we are on the road. It's a miracle! And, yes, this long weekend vacation is begun....

Thursday, September 1, 2011

T'ai Chi Chih in the city. Or, for that matter, life in the city. After living in the woods for almost nine years I'm highly sensitive to the close proximity of other people.

How can house foundations be set so close together? Is it difficult for homeowners and apartment dwellers to look out their windows and into the windows of their neighbors? I suppose that you become used to it (I did when I lived in the city) but, at the moment, it feels like an invasion of privacy.

Still, there is plenty of nature to be found here. As I practiced TCC in our friends' backyard birds flew over, around, and through the yard, landed in the gorgeous white pine tree growing there, and chatted and sung nonstop.

I brought Namaste outside with me and he lay quietly in the grass with his nose up. He was thoroughly entertained as he sniffed and took in the news of the neighborhood through his nose.

Today's temps are predicted to reach 90 to 95 degrees here in St. Paul. That's one reason I chose to practice soon after rising. There wasn't much activity around me as I moved (other than those busy birds).

I was happy to begin my day in a beautiful backyard with a huge white pine tree staring at me. And soon, very soon, my practice was over and I was ready to begin my first full day of vacation. Where to go? What to do? It's a mystery and an adventure....