On the eve of turning one year older…

I’ve not written a post for this blog in ever so long—not since almost a year ago.

This is partly because the wild enthusiasm which surrounded my first experiences of qi has ebbed, and qigong is less a focus of my time and my thoughts. I still practice taiji and qigong at home and at a school in Seattle, but my practice has become more of a staple in my life than a shooting star whose tail I hope to grab so as to become someone or something else.

However, I think my lack of posting is also because I am president of the board of the 165-person senior co-op where I live, and being president consumes much of my life. I spend hours writing emails, memos, policies and rules—and although those tasks are a bit different than creating a blog post, they probably fulfill my need to organize my thoughts by setting them down in words.

Being board president has been quite a ride—and I say “has been,” because my 1-year term ends in less than 3 months. I am well-suited to being board president in some ways, but in other ways, not so much. I agonize over things I do and say and experience waves of overwhelm as issues arise and multiply. During a period of considerable contention within the community, I felt I had more people angry with me and sniping at me behind my back than ever before in my life. (Fortunately, there were others who said thank you, and fellow board members I knew I could count on.)

My feelings about the co-op and about being its president change rapidly: Some days I’m ready to sell out and move to an apartment where I can live an anonymous, issue-free life; other days, I think this is the best possible place for me to be, with the best possible people, and I feel good about being president. It amazes me how variable my feelings are; I long to be steady and sure.

Overall, I believe I may have mellowed a bit in the past 9 months. However, I have given up trying to do seated mediation. I simply am not in that space and have no great interest in trying to get there. Taiji and qigong work for me because they relax me and generate internal sensations that feel good and hold my interest.

Being active in a community is particularly challenging because I’m an introvert who is more comfortable being alone than with people. It is a learning experience, both stressful and rewarding. It is also never, ever dull. Which certainly beats spending my old age watching television….

I do look forward to stepping down from the presidency, although I will continue to serve on the board. I hope that I will be able to let go of being “worrier in chief.” I feel there’s something waiting, out there in the trees, in the water and rocks, inside me. I no longer hope to somehow become a different person with a different life, but still, there are spaces/places I’d like to go, or maybe even just walk towards, when the time is right.

Meanwhile, I am growing old. I will turn 78 in three days. Yesterday I had a follow-up phone consultation with the orthopedic doc who treated my left knee when I tore the meniscus a month ago—or, rather, when my meniscus tore itself, because, damn it, I didn’t do anything to it. The knee is not back to normal, and I want it to be. As I lamented the condition of my knee and the collateral damage favoring it had inflicted on other body parts, the doc said, “Well, you do have significant arthritis in your left knee. Perhaps this is your new normal.”

My new normal….

I’ve complained to other doctors about other problems, and they’ve done all sorts of tests which have ruled out everything except the fact that I am getting older, and my body is doing what bodies do as they age: They keep descending to a new normal.

So there are lessons I am learning not only from living in a community and being president of its board but also from the unavoidable process of growing old.

This musing is beginning to drive itself in circles…. I have so much to learn on so many fronts…. But I do think the trees and the water and the rocks are beginning to beckon….

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My Psychic 3-D Tattoo

A month or so ago, in a dream, I looked down at the inner side of my right forearm, which was resting palm-up. Just below the elbow crease, I saw a hole, perhaps an inch across, surrounded by a curious encrustation.

The whole thing resembled a rotted-out tree stump, with the above-ground roots flaring out a short distance onto my inner forearm from the raised collar that surrounded the hole. It was built of gray, very slightly glistening beads, or cells, each about the size of a cooked grain of plump rice. Especially in the raised collar area, the beads were tidily arranged end-to-end in circles that abutted one another to surround the hole.

I don’t remember what preceded my having this image in my dream or what followed, although probably what followed was that I woke up. During the moment of the image, or as I was waking, I didn’t feel fear or revulsion; I recall just being puzzled that there could be a hole in my arm without there being any blood and without my seeing any muscle or bone. The hole was simply dark and empty.

In the days that followed, I pondered this striking image, trying to figure out what it meant. Perhaps it was a message from my body that I had some sort of cancer. I spent time on my cell phone looking for images that were like the collar or at least like the beads of the collar. I found a picture of a skin cancer made up of a lot of little lumps, but they were not arranged in an orderly manner. I was more drawn to a magnified photo of scale bugs, which were about the right shape and had a similar organic glistening quality, but scale bugs paste themselves on plants to feed, not on people.

Last Sunday I attended a day-long, Zen-style meditation retreat. Early on—I think during the silent, single-file walking that followed the first silent sitting session—I found myself obsessing over the collared hole in my right forearm. I decided that I was just going to accept that it was part of me and stop worrying about it. Which worked; I was able to let the image go. From time to time during the day, I would become aware of that area of my right forearm, and I would mentally pat it fondly. It was OK.

Yes, well, it made sense at the time.

Since then, I have thought of that area occasionally, still with the sense that whatever it is, it is part of me, but not a problem. At one point, it occurred to me that I might have visualized an acupuncture point. I checked out the forearm of my acupuncture doll: My image sits at about Lung 5. So I looked up Lung 5 online and in one of my books, but nothing that was said about it or why it might be needled particularly resonated with me.

Later this morning, I will have an acupuncture session and will ask my acupuncturist to assess my right arm, and then will tell her about the image from my dream. I will be interested to know what she thinks.

Meanwhile, I feel good about getting these words out of head and down on “paper,” as I had come to feel the need to do.

It seems I have a psychic, 3-D tattoo. Children sometimes have imaginary friends. I have an imaginary 3-D tattoo….

PS: My acupuncturist didn’t think there was anything energetically unusual about my right forearm. Damn.

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As 2018 nears its end…

As they say, shit happens, and a whole lot of shit happened in 2018. When I try to think 10,20,30 years into the future, I do not see the sort of world I would have wished for my grandchildren.

But this blog is about my life, particularly my inner, energetic life, so I will say that a little shit happened for me in 2018, but that all in all, I am reasonably content, happy with my family and friends and the circumstances of my life, and even a bit excited by the direction my taiji/qigong practice is taking me.

The “little shit” in my life was Bell’s Palsy, which I developed a bit more than three months ago. Bell’s Palsy is a more or less temporary paralysis of one side of the face. Its cause is not clear, but it’s likely the result of one of the herpes viruses (cold sores or shingles) resident in the body setting up shop in obne of the cranial nerves that serves the face. Most people mostly recover, and I may recover further, but my left eye still doesn’t fully close (mostly a problem because the cornea could dry out to the point of damage) and the left side of my mouth doesn’t work quite right (a problem for me because it won’t close properly on the mouthpiece of a Native American-style flute).

I now wear moisture-chamber silicone goggles to bed at night; they make me look rather like a fish from some woebegone watery world. If I had overcome my vanity, I would attach the selfie I took trying to smile when one side of my face was paralyzed and I was wearing the goggles.

Oh, well, enough of that….

I continue to do Yi Ren Qigong with friends, but I don’t think I will ever feel my organs or my meridians with any degree of precision, and I don’t believe my future lies with Yi Ren Qigong.
I have been going more and more often to the Taoist Studies Institute in Seattle, which teaches the Hunyuan system of taiji and qigong. Compared to the Yang-style taiji I have done for many years, Hunyuan Chen-style taiji seems very organic and more like it fits my body; and compared to Yi Ren Qigong, Hunyuan Qigong seems blissfully simple and natural.

This weekend, I learned some things about relaxing into and moving in circles from my hip joints which resulted in my feeling incredibly grounded and stable. I was thrilled—and also aware that most of the other human beings on this planet would find me ridiculous.
Where will this lead? I don’t know. Deeper inside…..

Tomorrow is New Year’s Day. I will wake, make and drink tea and meditate while still sitting on my sofa and holding a lovely orb of ruby fuchsite, and then I will go out on my balcony to do some taiji. It will be quiet, because even though it may already be 7 a.m., there will be no beeping from the construction site next door because of the holiday.

While on my balcony, I will try to figure out if I can reposition my new second hummingbird feeder so as to foil the bully bird who spends his time sitting on a railing and keeping other hummingbirds away from both feeders.

At noon, my daughter and her family will arrive, and she will drive us to Seattle so that my son-in-law, my grandsons and I can walk across Lake Washington to Bellevue on the 520 floating bridge sidewalk (I take delight in the notion of walking on water). The walk will take about an hour; if we are lucky, we still see Mount Rainier.

At 3 I am due at an open house with one set of wonderful friends, and at 5, I will be eating dinner with some other friends, including my son’s long-ago soccer coach (which I mention by way of saying we go way back).

I will come home, and it will be quiet in my apartment as I live alone and my cat has been gone for a year. I may try to practice the flute a bit, and I will read the paper, then go to bed. Before I brush my teeth and put on my silicone goggles, I will hang a white plastic card on my doorknob so that in the morning, if I don’t remember to take it back in, or if something bad has happened to me during the night, one of my neighbors in this over-55 co-op where I live will knock on my door to make sure I’m OK.

It is, really, quite a lovely life….

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