Thursday, May 31, 2012


I interrupted my T'ai Chi Chih practice to help Frances cover plants and gardens. The weather service predicts a frost during the night and, as my mother always said, "Better safe than sorry."

Now I'm back to my practice (I'm inside since it's getting dark and cooling down rapidly). I've been filled with anxiety today and the earlier--and now continuing practice--will offer solace (it already is!).

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


It was another cool, off-and-on again grey-sunny day. Lows tonight are predicted for 39 degrees; and, visitors from the Twin Cities commented that it felt like fall.

My T'ai Chi Chih practice was equally divided into three ten-minute practices. Not that I intentionally did it that way, but it just happened that I squeezed my practice into spaces between various events during the morning and afternoon. For today, that strategy worked fine.

I felt comfortably relaxed while our guests were here visiting, and I still found enough minutes during the busyness of the day to get through the entire form. When we and our guests drove home from Cornucopia after dinner, we saw five deer at various locations along the highway. We spotted them easily since the sun was still high in the sky (it was close to 9:00 p.m.).

With summer solstice three weeks away, it's simply de-light-full.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Movin' and Shakin'

During my recent sorting activity I came across a book of art and poetry by a long ago friend. The book is entitled What Can I Learn? And here is what Mary Lee George wrote after the question, "What can I learn doing T'ai Chi?"

I find my feminine roots--
     going into the earth
I deepen my awareness--
     exploring the depths
I learn to let go
     flowing with the ki [chi]
I learn to move
     from my center
I learn to live
     from the inside out
I learn to trust life instead of
     trying to control it

Yeah, I'd say that poem is a great reminder of what (m)any of us can learn from this moving meditation practice.

Today I sat on the front step during my TCC practice. The dog and goose were nearby and the chicken joined me, too, for a brief interlude. It was a breezy, coolish day and, since I rose feeling exhausted, the practice helped tune me up and got me moving.

I needed that energy. Today was the first day the library's been open since last Friday and we had patrons coming and going all afternoon and evening.

This morning I prepared learning objectives for a presentation on TCC I'm delivering at a mental health conference in mid-June. While I worked I realized that, for me, T'ai Chi Chih is simply part of my daily health care routine, which includes taking insulin shots three to four times each day, and blood testing regularly. It's a healthy habit that keeps me movin' and shakin'.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Feeling Low and Imagining (a Spark of Light)

I feel a bit down today and nothing--not even T'ai Chi Chih practice--brightens my day. A heavy-duty headache is certainly contributing to my lower-than-low feeling. And recently both Frances and I are struggling to make significant decisions about our home, property, and future.

I can't believe that I'm writing this, but ... I'm anxious for this Memorial Day holiday weekend to be over.

Today I actually practiced T'ai Chi Chih outside in sunshine. (It's been so rainy over the past three to four days that the weather service actually posted flood warnings for Bayfield County yesterday afternoon.)

Lucy didn't care to join me during my TCC practice but, partway through, I heard a commotion. Lucy had hopped into her wading pool and begun to groom vigorously. And so, I joined her. It was wonderfully entertaining to watch her splashing and preening as I Pulled Taffy, watched Passing Clouds, and aspirated Healing Sounds.

Now I'm back to sorting files and pitching paper. And, yes, I can imagine a wee spark of light at the end of this humble task....

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Release ... repeat

Ohh, it's been a long, slow day spent sorting through papers and cleansing the distant past out of my life. Yes, it feels good. It's simply amazing, though, how long it takes to go through page after page of detritus. It is, after all, a walk down long-forgotten trails and paths that I've taken over the course of my life.

I started with an early T'ai Chi Chih practice to get myself ready to focus on files of editing clients, graduate work, published writing, small business (Same Spirit) materials, etc., etc. I'm downsizing with the aim of creating a life that's less cluttered, simpler, and more peaceful (with less pieces).

During my morning practice I looked out the window at rain and fog. It felt chilly and wet but, during my practice, I felt cozy. (After I was done I headed for the wood stove to lay a fire.)

 Now in late afternoon we have green sunshine and gathering warmth. Now it's back to my day's occupation: scan, skim, sort, ... release. Repeat.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cleaning Out to Become Clearer Within

I feel deep gratitude for my outdoor T'ai Chi Chih practices because this is when I slow down and smell (see!) the roses. Yesterday I was enamoured with purple irises blooming next to orange poppies and today it's white thimbleberry blossoms popping their heads up out in the woods.

It's been cool today (50ish) but tomorrow predicts highs in the low 80s with rain. Today I took advantage of the dry skies and practiced TCC on the deck while the goose and chicken hovered nearby (beneath my practice area).

Since the birds were quiet, I had no idea what they were doing until I finished practice and Frances informed me that the chicken (Rachel) had dug herself a hole in the dirt and was taking a dirt bath. Oh, when I leaned over the railing to spy on her, I was amazed! She had dirt flipped up onto the middle of her back and she squirmed and flipped and preened just like a dog (or cat).

My practice went well. I sat for the first half and stood for the second. I began by positioning myself in the last teensy bit of sunshine and managed to focus my attention on green plants and brightly blooming flowers.

After I finished TCC practice I was back at it, sorting, cleaning, moving, and disposing of the excess in our house. It feels good to let go of the clutter. And, of course, when space is created for energy to flow, that's what it does. It moves and vitalizes and restores my lagging energy.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Anxiety Abated

Thursday, May 24, 2012:

I did as planned and practiced T'ai Chi Chih before I gave my presentation to the Parkinson's support group this morning ... it helped. Still, I was extremely nervous as I drove to the session; but, once I arrived--and as soon as I started moving through TCC with the group--all was well.

I'm reminded, again and again, of how much I enjoy sharing TCC with others. It truly has been a blessing in my life.

Friday, May 25, 2012:

Yesterday was rain filled. Today we had a brief respite with clear, cool sunshine. I took advantage of the dryness and practiced TCC outside on the deck. It's ultra green here after a day and a half of rain (one acquaintance in Bayfield reported that she got 3.1 inches of rain at her house yesterday).

During a drive into Bayfield Frances and I stopped in the middle of the road so that Frances could help a turtle get across and out of danger. Then, while on a late afternoon walk, we found a mole on the road shoulder that we thought was dead but, no, it simply appeared to be asleep. Once again, Frances encouraged it to descend into the ditch to distance itself from road traffic.

The holiday weekend is upon us and Bayfield is hopping with traffic and people.We'll be staying at home in the peace-filled silence. Ahhh.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

More Movement, Fewer Words

We visited friends this morning and came home with another chicken to keep our goose, Lucy, company. Unfortunately, the chicken is acting aggressive (puffing up, squawking, and rushing at Lucy) and, consequently, scaring the poor goose away. We'll see what happens tomorrow but so far, the littlest animal is acting like the Big Shot. I did another outdoor TCC practice this afternoon and then went inside to prepare for tomorrow morning's presentation to a Parkinson's support group. Yes, I've noticed that my memory is declining, but it was particularly evident during my practice run through. What did I learn from the experience? First, I decided to include more movement and use fewer words. Second, and most important, I'll do my own TCC practice before I leave to temper my anxiety and focus on my own relaxation before I teach others how to relax!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sitz-ing Around

Frances and I found one unlucky mouse lying dead outside the house when we returned from our morning walk. Obviously, Chiripa was hard at work sometime earlier today. That's the extent of the death and destruction for one day (at least of which I'm aware).

My T'ai Chi Chih practice occurred indoors since the rain was falling much heavier than several days ago. I'm still tracking the movements and feelings in my hips and "sitz" bones while I do the seated practice. It's helpful to feel the forward and back rocking on these bones as I do forward-back movements. It's also interesting to note how my hips and "sitz" bones move on the side-to-side movements. Other teachers' instructions describe it as feeling like you're squirming in your chair.

Everything I learn from my own practice, of course, I can pass on to my students. (It's a win-win situation.)

I didn't sleep well last night which meant that the TCC practice helped tremendously as I relaxed mental and physical tensions while moving. Now I'm ready to leap--err, ease--into my afternoon work at the library.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chillin' with the Chi

Frances filmed this morning's early TCC practice with Lucy by my side after she spotted the grooming/moving meditation duo and thought it was worth capturing on film. I'll post the video on this blog after I figure out what to do later in the week (I hope!).

It felt good to be outside in the chill of a soon-to-be summer morning. I wore a hooded sweatshirt and gloves to keep warm. And the goose? She was pulling out down as fast as she could find a loose feather because these early 80 degree plus days make her feel very uncomfortable.

Of course, when Frances started filming Lucy and me, the dog had to get into the picture too. I don't know whether he loves to be photographed or simply loves to be positioned in the center of Frances's attention (which happened to be focused on Lucy and me).

It felt wonderful to start my busy fast-paced day with cool, quiet, and birdsong. Now that the day is done I'm ready to really chill....

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Practice Partner (My Goose)

Whew! Temps dropped from the upper 80s yesterday to 60 this AM. Thank goodness! And the rain (thankfully!) began to fall.

Lucy was my sole TCC practice partner this morning. Because it was overcast and lightly raining, Frances and Namaste stayed in bed and Chiripa had no interest in being outside in the dripping rain. So I ventured out alone.

I put on a baseball cap and rain jacket and did a standing rather than a sitting practice to stay drier. The rain was so gentle that it barely seemed to touch me. Surprisingly, I discovered how easy it was to relax because the sound of raindrops striking leaves and ground was like a lullaby.

As soon as I stepped outside Lucy moved to a ditch to graze. Then she walked to within four feet of where I practiced, stood quietly, and watched. She gave me all of her attention except for an occasional grooming of feathers.

After T'ai Chi Chih practice I took a brief break and returned to the yard to do my 10 minute Cleansing Qigong practice. For whatever reason, that practice inspired Lucy to come closer. She stood several feet in front of me and, even though she looked for all the world as if she was ready to take a nip at me, she calmly watched until my movements expanded and reached too far into her personal space. Then she was off to graze once again.

What a joy to have Lucy join in my practices. I'm glad I practiced early because now a heavy scrim of fog is settling on the earth.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Moving through the Heat

Friday, May 18, 2012:

I foresee big change on the horizon. I can't tell that it will be positive or negative. It simply will be. (Que sera.)

HOT today ... over 80. I worked inside with the windows closed where it was cooler. In late afternoon I joined Lucy outside for T'ai Chi Chih practice. I sat near a bleeding heart and soon noticed a large moth (that looked like a hummingbird with stripes) hovering near each individual blossom to sip its nectar. I was reminded of my sister's call several years ago regarding this same moth that she insisted was a hummer.

Thank good for this TCC practice that moderates the ups and downs (highs and lows) of my all too human life! It brings me peace.

Saturday, May 19, 2012:

Another hot, humid day with a cool enough start that Frances and I got a walk in early. Our lives feel incredibly stressful these days (everyone is gearing up for tourist season in Bayfield) which makes this daily TCC practice a key ingredient in maintaining my health and sanity.

I headed for the deck in late afternoon as clouds gathered and a breeze whisked away pesky bugs. While Frances fenced a flower garden, Lucy grazed on nearby grasses, and the cat and dog napped indoors, I flowed and slowed, twisted and turned.

Today I focused my attention on the way I move when I practice seated TCC. There are many subtleties to this practice while standing and equally so when sitting down. This afternoon I noticed how my "sitz" bones, hip joints, and lower back felt as I simulated the forward/back weight shift by rocking on my sitz-es. Perhaps the fact that I'm a TCC teacher explains my fascination with these subtle shifts and changes. Still, it's helpful for anyone who does a seated TCC practice to notice how their body moves to ensure that they don't overdo their movements and subsequently strain their back muscles....

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What Matters

It's been a brainstorming day for Frances and me. Each idea, in order to grow, takes plenty of seeding, watering, and, in our case, discussion before it is ready to produce fruit. Needless to say, we have a large amount of thoughtful work to do before we reach that point.

It turned into another beautiful day. Although rain was predicted we saw grey skies and little else. Tonight we plan to attend a meeting for the Bayfield Farmers Market which is slated to begin a month from now. Frances hopes to offer items for sale there this year which explains why there is much to be done.

My late afternoon T'ai Chi Chih practice on the deck was beautiful and buggy (yes, indeed, the bugs have arrived). Gnats attacked my neck during my seated practice which made me realize that my practice time will have to move up to an earlier, cooler, breezier part of the day or ... I'll be practicing inside.

I feel perfectly happy and relaxed right now ... and that's what matters.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A New Lease

Lately, it seems, that every day is different yet the same. It was cooler today, but there was still sunshine; birdsong; and cat, dog, and goose lounging in the dirt and around the gardens.

And so, I joined them in midday. I practiced T'ai Chi Chih on the deck as I sat in place and contemplated the seated instructions that I recently located on the web. It occurred to me that I've tried to make seated TCC practice harder than it needs to be (based on the recommendations I found). I'm playing with simplifying my efforts and focusing on the bare essentials.

It felt good to practice after a morning during which I was highly aware of a painful, uncomfortable stomach. Now I feel better ... I have a new lease on life.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Day is Done, Evening Begun

I waited to practice T'ai Chi Chih until I returned home from work today. By then temps had bottomed out at about 52 degrees. And so I practiced on the deck and, with the chill in the air, my hands were plenty cold by the end.

It was wonderful to be outside and hear the bouyant serenade of a purple finch. I realized that one of our apple trees is growing because several birds landed on its small, pliable branches (I hadn't seen that behavior before). Of course, the tree branch bent to the point that the bird was practically upside down before it righted itself and flew away.

It felt good to chill in the chill (with another added benefit: no bugs!).

Back inside I heard a chorus of coyotes howling nearby. The day is done, the evening has begun....

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sharing the Forest (and my practice!)

This day is beautiful--the sun so bright, the light so long--and I couldn't help myself, I leapt into TCC practice early (for me!). The deck is still my preferred location though the flying insect population is rapidly expanding.

Midway through practice I noticed two deer near our salt lick in the woods. We silently watched each other as they browsed on tree leaves and grasses and I moved quietly and consciously.

The Healing Sounds disrupted our peaceful companionability and one, then both, deer faded softly into the deep woods. At the conclusion of practice I gratefully bowed in the direction of their rustling retreating footsteps to acknowledge their peaceful presence. It's always a special joy to share my practice with the animals and plants that dwell in my forest home.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Three white trillium bloom on the southern edge of the garden. They remind me of the weekend Frances and I spent at A Dwelling in the Woods (a spiritual retreat center in central Minnesota). Outside our cabin window the woods was alive with white trilliums. It felt as if we were nestled in heaven.

In addition to the white trilliums we have a deep purple and two yellows that are just ready to pop. Every day a new bloom which means we see a different face in our woods.

I finished reading The Man Who Quit Money today. What an inspirational book! Daniel Suelo's decision to change his life was a courageous journey of spirit filled with tremendous insight and exploration. I'm anxious to see whether he is still writing his blog so that I can get up-do-date on his latest adventures.

Last night Frances and I watched the documentary MissRepresentation. That, too, was inspiring. It reminded me why I quit watching TV, listening to commercial radio, and reading daily newspapers and most magazines. The ways in which women are portrayed in the media are astoundingly horrific (typically they're valued for their youth, beauty, and sexuality only). Where do we find portraits of strong, courageous, powerful women?

Frances and I talked today about an earlier idea to start an educational or spiritual retreat center at our spot in the woods. We're still considering sharing the beauty and bounty of this property with others so that more people can benefit from its quiet peacefulness. The ideas and thoughts continue to percolate.

After our discussion I did a seated T'ai Chi Chih practice on the deck. The three white trilliums and three other white Ones (Namaste, Chiripa, and Lucy) were all within view. The wind had died down and peace permeated the forest. So, too, did peace sink into my body and spirit. I'm recharged for another day!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Slowly, Quietly, Softly

I feel as if I'm frozen in a beautiful spring time-warp. It's been so lovely these past few days that even the rain, though predicted, chose to sprinkle for a minute only, then abated.

In the middle of this day--and its quiet loveliness--I practiced T'ai Chi Chih. I sat down for the entire form as my knee ached and was not eager to support weight. The busyness of the past few days and this morning quickly faded into a distant memory.

The practice was wonderful: quiet, sunny, warm. I soaked the heat into my winter worn body and was glad for it. I admit that it's hard to get back up to speed after this welcome TCC practice slow-down. And, honestly, I don't need to push my body and mind faster than they wish to go. And so, I'll take the rest of the day as it comes ... slowly, quietly, softly.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Life's Sights and Sounds

I sat on the deck this evening while I ate dinner and marveled at the green--up, down, and all around me--along with an abundance of bird calls and coyote songs. Beneath the cloud covered sky I floated softly in sights and sounds of life returning.

Two woodpeckers screeched at each other from opposite sides of the same tree trunk. Then one pecked loudly, the trunk echoing like a hollow drum. Next a hummingbird flew up to examine me face-to-face. I wasn't sure whether my red sweatshirt drew him close but, it didn't matter, I was thrilled to get a birds' eye view of his ruby red throat.

My late afternoon T'ai Chi Chih practice was again performed outside next to Lucy. She's having a hard time since Rosie died; the best that we can figure is she's lonely without her tiny feathered friend. Everytime we disappear from view, Lucy honks and honks.

While I moved through the TCC form, Lucy slept. I assume that she trusted I would watch her back as long as I was there. I did a hood-up practice since, along with the green has come a population of flying insects. My body is already accumulating lumps and bumps from various insect bites.

TCC practice zoomed by as I moved to the music of birdsong. It's a joy to be serenaded by our woodland tree-dwellers.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

In the Present

Today was absolutely gorgeous. Frances and I spent the entire day outside, eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the deck and working in the gardens.

We finally spotted our tiny hummingbird (only one so far) as well as an indigo bunting. Midafternoon I did my T'ai Chi Chih practice on the deck as I soaked in bright, warm, beautiful sunshine. That came in handy in early evening when temps cooled considerably.

I'm reading another fascinating book, The Man Who Quit Money. It's about Daniel Suelo, a unique individual who lives in America without any money (he illustrates the ways citizens of this country are controlled by and beholden to credit cards, driver's licenses, health insurance, etc., etc.).

 I've enjoyed a bright, beautiful, special day and now ... I'm ready to relax.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Remembering Rosie

I feel a bit sad today. Rosie died yesterday or last night (she stayed in the barn all day yesterday and wasn't checked on until this morning). Plus, today is my dad's birthday (he's been dead 13 years this June).

Rosita Ria (my pet name for her) was a beautiful, sweet chicken. Recently Lucy had taken to honking for Rosie when she wasn't nearby (it reminded Frances and me of the way Ander, Lucy's mate, used to honk for Lucy). Interestingly, it seemed that Rosie would show up and hang around with Lucy after she was "called."

And so, my evening practice was devoted to Rosie. I practiced near her body, sent blessings to her, and bowed to her spirit at the end of my practice. She brought much joy to our lives and she will be missed....

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Blessing in My Day

Monday, May 7, 2012:

I practiced T'ai Chi Chih this morning before I headed to work. It was sunny, beautiful, quiet, ... perfect.

The animals left me to my own devices which meant that I was on my own with the silence. It was a wonderful practice (I felt more connnected than during last night's group practice in memory of Justin).

While sleeping, though, I dreamed that I did a TCC practice with others that was filled with energy. Perhaps today's practice was simply a continuation?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012:

During this morning's T'ai Chi Chih practice I joined Lucy in the front yard since I knew that soon I'd put her back in her barn for the entire day. While moving I heard--but did not see--a hummingbird. How exciting! The first little lovely of the season.

A bit later I heard footsteps in the woods. When I looked further into the distance, I spotted a fast-moving, four-footed animal in front of me and then, just as quickly, it was gone. Perhaps it was a wolf tracking a deer. I'll never know for certain. All I do know is that the quiet calm of my practice time allowed me to see and hear two elusive creatures that were a blessing in my day....

Sunday, May 6, 2012

In Honor of ... Justin Stone

I took today as a day of rest which I desperately needed. It's been a s-l-o-w motion day.

At 5:00 p.m. I joined with other T'ai Chi Chih teachers around the world for a group practice honoring Justin Stone, the found/creator/originator of this form. (Thanks, Anna, for giving me a heads up about this practice.)

Although I wasn't overly aware of heightened energy due to the collaborative nature of this practice I did focus on expressing gratitude to Justin for this transformative moving meditation that has brought innumerable changes to my life.

Keeping in mind that I was practicing with a larger group of teachers whom I didn't know, I performed movements while facing north, then turned to the east for several movements, then south, then west, and finally, back to the north. As my visual focus and attention circled the room I included and honored the participation of everyone who was a part of this practice regardless of where they lived.

Thank you, Justin, for your time on this earth and for this wonderful gift of peace and tranquility that, bit by bit, person by person, helps to heal the world.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Chainsaw Buzz

Frances and I took our morning walk while the sun was shining. Now, brrr, it's cold (upper 40s) and grey.

After my high level of productivity yesterday I'm moving slower today. Some people (myself included) would call that balance.

My midafternoon T'ai Chi Chih practice coincided with Frances's decision to cut down trees in order to expand our garden. I chose to practice on the opposite side of the house from where she worked. Still, during the first half of practice I was serenaded by the drone of the chainsaw. It reminded me of Monkey Mind, its constant buzz sinking into my consciousness so that I was no longer aware of its obnoxious chatter.

I heard three, maybe four, trees fall, and then, all was quiet. In that sudden moment of silence I realized how loud and pervasive the chainsaw buzz had been before it stopped. Ah, yes, just like Monkey Mind....

Friday, May 4, 2012

To Wander ... Under Trees

Thursday, May 3, 2012:

How happy I am to be able to wander among bushes and herbs, under trees and over rocks; no man can love the country as I love it. Woods, trees and rocks send back the echo that man desires.
   -- Beethoven
I say "Ditto," Ludvig. No man OR woman can love the country as I love it. And spring is an easy time of the year to love with all of the daily surprises, births, buds, and blossoms that await me.

I practiced T'ai Chi Chih in the yard in midafternoon. The forest was aflutter with a multitude of winged creatures who sang wildly all around me. It seemed the perfect accompaniment (and background music) to my practice.

Yes, I am blessed to be able to wander (and practice T'ai Chi Chih) "among bushes and herbs and under trees."

Friday, May 4, 2012:

After yesterday's TCC practice Frances and I spent several hours cutting, hauling, splitting, and stacking firewood. I was in no mood to write a blog when I finally returned to the house shortly before dark (which may explain why I waited until today).

It's been cool and overcast all day long. The weather report (and my body) anticipate rain. Early in the day Frances and I took care of several long overdue projects which freed up more Chi to flow through the rest of my day.

I sat through my entire TCC practice this evening because my knees needed a break after yesterday's wood hauling extravaganza. Since temps have cooled considerably I sat inside and watched the greening, growing world through the bedroom window.

I can feel the forest growing deeper and darker as it closes around me. Summer draws nigh....

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Burgeoning New Life

Big rain last night, big green up today. The birds and frogs sing joyously as I look out into the forest at its emerging green carpet and leafy wallpaper of living trees.

Spring has come to the woods and its sights, sounds, and smells are glorious!

I joined the critters outside for my late afternoon T'ai Chi Chih practice. It's inspiring to see how much the world around me came alive overnight (including a brand new crop of flies that didn't exist yesterday).

My practice flew by in the midst of this incredible bounty. I feel thankful to be inspired by the burgeoning new life that grows up out of the dirt of the earth and the ground of my being....

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Difference in a Day, a Mood, the Sky....

Today's T'ai Chi Chih practice was much easier than yesterday's. Why? That is the question....

It was overcast again (although the day began with sunshine) and the rain was soon to fall from the sky. Perhaps with the humidity in the air I could feel the energy more easily than I did yesterday (since, for whatever reason, that seems to be the case when it rains).

More significant, however, was my change in attitude. Just as the sky was a wee bit lighter, so was my mood. And that can make all the difference.

I practiced outside (temps were warmer, thankfully) with my four animal friends surrounding me. Lucy groomed, Rosie grazed, Namaste lay in a quiet guard dog position, and Chiripa wandered and stalked and observed.

It was a quietly wonderful practice and I am grateful, once again, for this daily dose of meditation.