Saturday, September 29, 2012

Silence is Golden

Tuesday, September 24 thru Saturday, September 29, 2012:

I was busy at work early this week and, now sick, I'm occupied with my recovery. Despite the busyness I got in my daily T'ai Chi Chih practices, at least in part.

Tuesday morning my boss called and asked me to cover her shift at work (in addition to my own) since she was severely ill. A full eight and a half hour day working by myself with no breaks was exhausting. I went straight to bed when I arrived home with a short ten minute TCC practice to send me into dreamland.

Again, Wednesday I filled in at the library before heading off to teach two back-to-back T'ai Chi Chih classes in the evening. After a long, super busy day at the library followed by over two hours of TCC practice and teaching, I was tired.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (I'm sorry to say) were recovery days. I'm trying to elude a sore throat and cold without much success. Thursday and Friday I slept and slept and slept, but still took time for a daily dose of T'ai Chi Chih.

Today I added a cleansing qigong session to my TCC practice in the hope that the activated Chi energy will aid in my recovery. The weather this week is absolutely lovely and perfect for spending time outside enjoying the colorful leaves. Even though I've spent much of my time in bed, the woods is a fall paradise and both the leaves and the silence are golden.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dashing ... Then Resting

Tonight's T'ai Chi Chih practice was free form. I've been dashing from place to place over the past few days and it felt good to settle into practice when I arrived home from work.

Suddenly it didn't matter whether I did my practice in any particular order so I launched into a "come what may" practice where I allowed whatever movement presented itself to be next. The modified form looked just fine in my darkened bedroom windows and, soon, practice was over and done. Until tomorrow....

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Threat of Frost Sets the Pace of Life

Saturday, September 22, 2012:

And so, on this first day of fall the farmers in the area were concerned about predictions of frost. Frances and I were out in our garden Friday evening picking many of our unripe tomatoes and squash in the hope that they're ripen whether they were still in the dirt or not. No frost though we did hear that Duluth, MN had snow last night....

This morning we arrived at Farmers' Market to sell hot soup (it went over well since it was such a cold morning), returned to our garden to harvest the best of the rest, and traveled to a friend's to celebrate her 42nd birthday around a campfire. "Wouldn't you know I'd pick a day for my party when all of my friends are out in their gardens trying to get in the rest of their produce," she exclaimed. Still, there were eight to ten of us there with some arriving several hours later that the announced start time. (Indeed, they were out in their gardens harvesting.)

When Frances and I returned home, we covered plants and vegetables to ensure that, if frost covered the ground tonight they wouldn't experience sudden death. Then, finally, I grabbed some time for my T'ai Chi Chih practice before sleep claimed me. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012:

It's been another busy day. After Frances left for work I cleaned the kitchen and prepared lunch for two friends from the Twin Cities who stopped in for a several-hour visit before they headed home from their vacation. 

Before they arrived I got myself outside into the sunshine and did a T'ai Chi Chih practice on the deck. I knew that my energy was fading and, if I wanted to practice TCC today, I needed to do it earlier rather than later. It felt wonderful to take time for me before I shared myself and my energy with others. And now that our dear friends have departed, I'm taking time to experience my day of rest.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Divine Sunshine

Tuesday, September 18, 2012:

Today my sister arrives for her first visit in more than seven years. I cleaned house in the AM and switched work shifts in order to finish earlier. Then straight home to Frances and my sister, dinner, conversation, and, before I knew it, bedtime.

T'ai Chi Chih practice was a mere 15 minute interlude before falling into bed and, for that I was grateful. It helped to calm the rushing mind, relax my busy body, and release me into a night of relaxing, regenerative sleep.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012:

I got a larger than normal T'ai Chi Chih fix today as I started my fall session of TCC classes and taught two back-to-back classes. It's always incredibly wonderful to practice TCC in a group and I came home energized and alert.

Interestingly, Frances and Mel went to bed first (highly unusual!) and, though I thought I was staying up to read, I quickly succumbed to the quiet darkness. Soon my head bowed to the earth and my book closed its pages to my unseeing eyes.

Thursday, September 20, 2012:

Today was my one full day of visitation with my sister and we talked and talked over a late and long breakfast before heading over to Madeline Island to walk the town beach.

My TCC practice was a snatched five minutes upstairs in the bedroom before the three of us headed into Bayfield to catch the ferry to Madeline. I thought, of course, that I'd practice more later....

Though the day was largely overcast, we walked the beach and boardwalk through the forest, then sat on the sand in warming bits of sunshine. It was divine. My sister (who moves to Florida next Wednesday) kept saying, "Oh, I love the sunshine." Even though we are native Minnesotans, I'm now convinced that she'll be very happy in the Sunshine State.

Out to dinner at a restaurant by Lake Superior and then home again. I was on the Migun massage table and then off to bed before you could say, "Jack Rabbit." Sadly, TCC practice was long forgotten.

Friday, September 21, 2012:

I've been staving off a cold that's passing through the schools, library, and a co-worker. Today, after Mel left I knew that my first order of business/pleasure was T'ai Chi Chih.

I found a spot of sunshine and began. Ahhh. It felt delicious to move softly and quietly in whispering woods. After practice I backed up several steps and sat on deck steps as I 'received' the energy from my practice, the warmth of sunshine on my face, and the comforting sound of wind through rapidly coloring leaves. Yes, again it was divine....

Monday, September 17, 2012

Nope, I'll Keep On Going

Today we begin our descent into the cooler temperatures of late September. It's currently 56 degrees, and we're close to our predicted high.

During my morning outdoor T'ai Chi Chih moving meditation practice, my fingers turned colder as practice continued. I also noticed that my pace was faster throughout; clearly, a subconscious attempt on my part to stay warm. That's funny considering that I'm moving slowly today due to tiredness.

It's an overcast, pre-rain day and I'm in mourning over the disappearance of summer. Luckily, my TCC practice keeps me going even when Monkey Mind whispers softly in my ear, "Go back to bed."

Sunday, September 16, 2012

To be Immersed in Oneness

It's another glorious Sun*day . . . relax*day . . . give thanks*day . . . share peace*day . . . release*day . . . . I am truly blessed to be in the midst of bright green leaves, loud kerplunk acorns, and happy companion animals.

As I look out at the world through the circling threads of my dreamcatcher I feel the peacefulness that comes from staying centered in one pure silent moment. I'm still riding the waves of Chi, I guess, that flowed in and out during my just-finished T'ai Chi Chih practice.

It's a beautiful gift to be immersed in Oneness.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

TCC Practice to the Rescue

T'ai Chi Chih practice to the rescue!

I was angry with Frances this morning (yes, I admit it) and unable to work at the Farmers' Market because of how ill-prepared we were for the 8:45 a.m. starting bell.

What to do.... I walked to Memorial Park along downtown Bayfield's lake shore, positioned myself in the glow of the brilliant morning light, faced out toward the water, and moved. Slowly.

As I flowed from one movement into the next I felt my anger fade and seep down and out of my body. It was a wondrous experience. By the time I completed the full practice I was able to return to the Farmers' Market and get to work.

One more example of the miracle of T'ai Chi Chih practice....

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Peace-Filled Reward

"The best laid plans of mice and men ..."

I came home from work today expecting to launch into my T'ai Chi Chih practice. Instead, I ate a quick dinner with Frances and headed over to our garden to harvest veggies and decorative Jack pumpkins for tomorrow morning's Farmer's Market.

By the time we returned home I was in a low blood sugar that, once treated, left me conked out on the couch. After a half-hour nap I rose from the dead and began again. I tromped upstairs to practice TCC before I hit the bed. And ... I'm grateful I did.

I felt the energy moving during practice as well as my own energy building and regenerating. Yet again I was reminded that when I discipline myself to do my practice I'm always rewarded with peace and relaxation....

Thursday, September 13, 2012

More than a Gift ... It's a Blessing

Wednesday, September 12, 2012:

I spent the entire day working at the library and, since I struggled to sleep during the night, I was worn out. During my lunch break I did a mini-TCC practice in the library yard. It was lovely.

Even though we're located in the middle of downtown Bayfield (okay, one block off main street), the street traffic was light, the library traffic was minimal, and I had a quiet, rejuvenating practice.

Again, both me and my library patrons benefited from my time of moving meditation. Why? Because I returned to work more centered, peace filled, and peaceful. By day's end I was surprised by how good I felt.

Thursday, September 13, 2012:

It took an entire day for me to arrive at my T'ai Chi Chih practice time. My daylight hours were spent in a morning meeting, shopping, running errands, canning, pesto-making, and, finally, moving meditation.

I started my practice in the porch because it was 10:30 p.m. Since the dog still lay outside on the front step, midway through practice I decided to join him. Suddenly I was 20 feet tall (the light by the front door magnified my body size tremendously) and my over-sized shadow played TCC with me.

All was quiet until I heard the slight shuffle of leaves near my feet. When I looked down, I thought I saw a living being but no movement. I continued to observe the designated area and soon saw a dark shadow moving toward the front step. It was a toad who, due to shyness, hid beneath the watering hose and then settled down under a cover of dry leaves and goose feathers right next to the concrete front step.

Normally I would never have noticed this little critter but, due to my own quiet presence, I heard the leaves rustle and stayed in one place long enough to witness a slight unexplained movement.

This is one of TCC's gifts: To keep me quietly in one place for a long enough period of time to see, hear, notice, and feel my surroundings. That's more than a gift ... it's a blessing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Learning to Let Go....

Monday, September 10, 2012:

Today's T'ai Chi Chih practice had a totally different feel from yesterday's "day of rest" practice. By the time I made it out to the deck into warm sunshine and whispering breezes I'd already made three or four phone calls and was awaiting responses on several important pieces of business.

A nearby oak scattered its acorns onto the deck in a busy, repetitive pattern. And I felt that I was, indeed, back into the routine of a demanding high-paced work week.

Luckily my TCC practice did me good as I'm sure it did my library patrons good when I arrived at work after lunch. My 20 minutes of practice helped me to slow and quiet myself and brought my heart and soul back into balance.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012:

Frances and I received some disappointing news yesterday that is challenging me to reorient myself into a more positive, hopeful frame of mind. Last evening's conversation with one of my brothers helped. And, of course, this morning's TCC practice contributed to a whole new outlook on life.

That, I think, is one of the many benefits of TCC practice. It helps me to reframe, release, and return myself to a place of peace and comfort. A place where all happenings in my life teach me, guide me, and open me up to new ideas and information. My life offers constant lessons in learning to let go....

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Day of Rest

It's a wondrous, magical day. There's the slightest whisper of a breeze through the trees, blissful sunlight, and deep peace.

My mid-morning T'ai Chi Chih practice flowed easily in the quiet serenity that surrounded me. By practice end both dog and goose were napping close by. And, though I have plenty of vegetable processing yet to perform, my body and mind are relaxed. Today truly does feel like a day of rest....

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Clouds and Sunshine, Kitchen Time (or Not), Bending and Extending

As if we don't have enough fruits and vegetables, I drove to the farmers' market today to buy some of what we're missing: lettuce, chard, kale, green beans, onions, carrots, pears. Then, I hurried home to add chard and beans to a stir fry and lettuce to a salad. Frances is now cooking up a chili-tomato jam. Umm. I can't wait to try it.

Today is on-and-off rain showers so it's a good day to spend in the kitchen. In the interim between kitchen shifts I practiced T'ai Chi Chih upstairs. There I watched clouds and sunshine wrestling for control over the blue sky. Just when I thought one opponent would outlast the other, something shifted slightly and the match continued.

I spent much of my practice watching the way in which my arms bent and extended throughout each movement. That action mirrors the bending and extending of the knees as the body shifts weight forward and back (or side to side).

And now I feel quieter and calmer and ready to enter the fray in the kitchen once again....

Friday, September 7, 2012

Taking It Slow

Friday, September 7, 2012:

Yesterday was a lost cause as far as T'ai Chi Chih practice was concerned. It was the first time both Frances and I were home together to collaborate on canning. And we canned as fast as we could heat water: two batches of salsa, two batches of tomato sauce for pasta, Indian pickles, and five quarts of whole tomatoes.

I was on my feet the entire day and, when I finally sat down, I fell asleep instantly. Nope, no TCC practice for me.

Today I still feel tired from all the vegetable processing (and, perhaps, because I didn't get my TCC practice in). My first order of business after labeling all the canned jars (which, by the way, I dated 8/6/12 rather than 9/6 ... I still can't believe that summer is gone) was to do my practice.

Oh, it felt good to slow down, release tension, relax. And that, my friends, is my plan for today (we'll see if I can manage to take it slow all day long).

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Soaking in the End of Summer

Tuesday, September 4, 2012:

I can't even say that our surroundings changed from summer to fall overnight because it happened today--during the day--while I was away from home. I left at 10:00 a.m. to travel to Ashland with Frances. She dropped me off at work and when I arrived home about 7:30 p.m., the trip up the driveway was like a magical mystery tour.

How did so many trees turn from green to yellow within the space of one day? And how could the ferns change to yellow and dark brown in the space of nine hours? Ahhh, and then I remembered: We had two rainstorms during the afternoon. With that rain and the slight cooling of temperatures we have now advanced into fall.

Today was a rush-around day. After we completed our morning errands and I covered my hours at work I came home dead tired (I didn't get enough sleep last night eithers).

First and foremost, I changed into comfortable clothing and did my T'ai Chi Chih practice. I didn't do a full half-hour, but I found myself gently sliding into relaxation and extending my practice longer than I initially intended (it simply felt too good to stop).

After 20 minutes I allowed myself to disengage from the day's rapid schedule and settled into a quiet, relaxed evening.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012:

During my deck T'ai Chi Chih practice in late afternoon I felt the tingle of hot peppers between my fingers and debated whether I needed to stop my practice to thoroughly wash my hands. I'd just spent hours prepping two variations of salsa that I'll can later tonight or tomorrow. One batch used hotter peppers than the other.

But, heck, it felt so good to move after spending a major portion of the day standing in one or two spots in the kitchen that I ignored the tingle and kept on moving.

I looked into green leaves lightened by yellow off the south deck, counted the repetitions of each movement, and kept returning my attention to the soles of my feet. The temperature was just right (75 degrees) and now I'm seated on the deck as I write my blog simply soaking in the end of summer....

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Whole New Direction

I'm laboring on Labor Day. Surprise! I commented to Frances this morning that I didn't know whether I could stand to process another vegetable. Her response was radically refreshing: "Why don't you do something else today?" And so, I shall....

I began my day with a load of laundry. That's different. Right?

T'ai Chi Chih practice offered me an opportunity to abandon the work mode for awhile. And, Sr. Antonia's September newsletter suggested that we count each movement in our T'ai Chi Chih practices by bringing our attention into the soles of our feet with each 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9.

What a wonderful reminder to ground, ground, and yet again, ground.

Okay. So back to to my original intention take a vacation from my Labor Day. Just this moment I spied a special treat, one I checked out from the library last Tuesday, Walt Whitman's book of poetry: Leaves of Grass which, amazingly, I've never read.

Suddenly, my intention was clear. Take this book to the deck, open it's ancient pages (I'm not exactly sure how ancient, but the pages are yellowed and the smell is mildewesque--how's that for a new word?) and now my day has taken on a whole new direction.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Chuckling While I Practice

Saturday, September 1, 2012:

It was a busy day what with shopping at the farmers' market and grocery store, making bread & butter pickles and creamy tomato soup, and shucking corn for tomorrow's processing.

I finally did a short T'ai Chi Chih practice after I crawled into bed. It was all in my head, of course, and like I said, it was s-h-o-r-.... (Snore.)

Sunday, September 2, 2012:

It's another fabulous late summer day and Frances and I are spending our Labor Day Weekend (what else?) laboring. After I cleaned up the kitchen following yesterday's food making and processing I did my T'ai Chi Chih practice outside on the deck.

The animals joined me because, although the sun is hot, the breeze is fall-cool. Midway through practice Chiripa flopped down in front of me and proceeded to play with a long piece of moss growing on a planter. It looked like a tail and she certainly treated it that way. She pulled on it hard enough to break it off the planter and then rolled and pawed and flipped it in the air.

I watched, chuckled, and kept moving through my practice. And, after I finished and felt more relaxed, I went inside to blog. When I checked emails first, I opened a note with an attachment featuring the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis showing films about cats exhibiting humorous, unusual, and cat-like behaviors.

After a few more chuckles, I'm back at it. Blanching and then cutting corn off the cob to freeze and then ... making a huge batch(es) of tomato sauce.