Monthly Archives: February 2014

Weekly No More….

For eight days in January, I thought I had breast cancer. My routine mammogram had shown a “questionable developing nodule,” and the doc wanted me to come back for more views.

When I got the “more views” call, my mind jumped over “questionable” and went straight to “developing nodule,” “nodule” being a six-letter word for the four-letter word “lump.”

As I waited for the follow-up testing, I planned who I would tell, and how, when the cancer was confirmed. I considered which commitments and responsibilities I would unload so I could proceed with my treatment regimen. I wondered how that regimen would differ from my first go-round with breast cancer not quite 20 years ago, when I had three surgeries, chemo, radiation and five years of tamoxifen, a drug which can keep hungry little breast cancer cells from getting the estrogen they need to multiply. I even flipped through the L.L.Bean catalog looking for tops with puffy fronts in case I became totally flat-chested.

I knew this kind of thinking was foolish, but it was irresistible. Continue reading


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Fear—Beast or Bunny?

Dust bunny or fear bunny?

Dust bunny or fear bunny?

Recently I experienced fear, and the departure of fear, in an entirely new way—and it was good.

Not good in the sense of fun, but good in the sense of interesting and instructive. The experience gave me a glimpse into a deeper level of qigong practice, and it taught me something that may prove useful in my future dealings with fear, which is something of a personal nemesis.

I had agreed to lead an evening Yi Ren Qigong review class in the Institute of Qigong and Integrative Medicine’s new clinic/classroom/office. The space is lovely, with Chinese scrolls on the walls and bamboo flooring, but it is in the basement of an old, two-story structure—and I had just finished reading “Full Rip 9.0,” about the Pacific Northwest’s propensity for periodic megaquakes.

It was particularly cold out on the evening in question, and only one student had come for class. I had felt fine opening up the space, and I was fine throughout our practice session. But after I’d walked her up the stairs, locked the outside door, and gone back downstairs to begin the process of closing the room, fear engulfed me. I was alone with my thoughts, and visions of crumbling walls, crashing beams and subterranean tombs danced through my head.

Worse yet, I was afraid that my fear was polluting the space and would disturb subsequent users who were more energy-sensitive than myself.

But there was nothing to do but carry on. Continue reading

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A Road Trip from The Great Wall to Bra Rings

country drivingThis post has nothing to do with qigong—except that, if you’re at all interested in qigong, you’re probably interested in China, and if you’re interested in China, have I ever got a book for you!

The book, Peter Hessler’s “Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip,” published in 2010, covers the American journalist’s rental-car exploration of three rural regions of China between 2001 and 2009. China was building expressways into those regions, and wherever those expressways went, people’s lives were irrevocably changed. People whose families had been peasants for generations overnight became factory workers and entrepreneurs.

Hessler traveled the length of the Great Wall (which, by the way, is really not a single “wall” but a collection of walls built in the vicinity of China’s northern border).

He rented a house as a writer’s getaway in Sancha, a village north of Beijing that was dying when he first went there but rebounded as other Beijingers acquired cars and began to fancy country retreats.

And he became a frequent visitor to Lishui, a town in southern China past which the government was building the Jinliwen Expressway and where it had accordingly blasted away mountain tops to establish an economic development zone. As elsewhere, Hessler found people in Lishui who were willing to let him into their lives—in particular, the bosses and workers at a factory set up to manufacture two things: underwires for brassieres and the rings for adjusting their straps. Continue reading

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