Knee pain

Two things have disappointed me greatly since our move into the Pink Lady: my left knee and my right knee.

With the move, I looked forward to walking everywhere. So much is within walking distance. Walking distance used to be easily three miles for me, each way. Three miles from the Pink Lady would take me to the Notre Dame campus and nearby shops and restaurants, a long trail along the St. Joe River, homes of all of my friends who live on the north side, and a number of parks, to say nothing of all the downtown shops and restaurants. Continue reading

Gap weeks

Gap years are the thing. My great-nephew hasn’t figured out whether he wants to do political science or biology in college, though he knows which college he’ll attend and has already been accepted. So he’s taking a year to work and figure that out. It seems that for an 18-year-old he has figured out a lot already and a gap year is a sensible part of the plan. Continue reading

Chi time

IMG_2974My phone burbles with an incoming text. I know what the message is because it comes at the same time every day, five days a week. “Sending chi.”

I stop in my pre-Christmas housecleaning tracks, brew a mug of green peach tea and sit in an easy chair. Soon I am zoned out in a pleasant haze, getting my chi fix for the day. Chi and tea, a perfect combination.

In the next room my husband sits in front of his computer, eyes closed, hands spread. He, too, is receiving the energy flow but he is probably giving as much as he is getting. He is a powerful chi generator himself. If I need an extra dose, I often ask him to direct the flow my way.

We subscribe to a remote “chi clinic,” five days a week, a service of the Sun Shen center in Ann Arbor Michigan. An hour a day several healers send energy to participants, both at the center and in any remote location. I don’t know how this remote stuff works but it does, at least for us. It provides instant relaxation, sometimes relief from discomfort or sensations in the body, a meditative mood if you want that, or a burst of energy if you continue your tasks in a conscious way. The healers say the more recipients there are, the stronger the flow among us all.

A side benefit is that it creates a decisive break in the day, a stop, like Muslim prayers or Benedictine offices. I find it best to use it that way whenever I can, rather than continuing my work. It is a signal to shift attention, to connect with the energy of Creation, to receive and pass on this mysterious essence of life. Sometimes I pray and pass the energy to specific people. I often think about the connection of chi, intention, and prayer. Sun Shen combines Christian and Taoist traditions.

Feeling and working with chi–the basis of Chinese medicine and many other ancient spiritual and healing traditions–may take some practice. We have been beneficiaries of Sun Shen’s unique therapies for several years and find that our responses and awareness increase over time.

The Chi Clinic is a good way to start. Imagine taking a whole hour to relax every day in this busy time of year! Or using it for a fresh start in the new year.You can try it for a week, free. If you feel some benefit, you can subscribe to the service by the month. If you’re like us you may find it addictive.

Another text burble, an hour later. “That’s all for today.” Back to cleaning, laundry, and stacking gifts to wrap.


Wakeup call

A few months ago my husband was diagnosed with a non-aggressive form of prostate cancer. The doctors assure him this “little bit of cancer” is nothing to worry about; it just needs to be monitored for now. “My advice to you,” his primary care physician told him, “is to forget you have cancer. Live your life. At this rate you won’t die from prostate cancer for at least 15 or 20 years and something else could get you first.” Continue reading

Finding courage

inside-out6I’ve been wanting to go to a theater to see Inside Out. I never go to theaters any more; we always wait for the DVDs and watch movies in the comfort of our living room, with headphones and subtitles so we don’t have to strain to catch whispered, muttered, or lightning-fast dialog.

But Inside Out feels urgent. According to the reviews, it contains lessons on how to manage emotions, lessons that both young and old need to learn. (If you’re looking for a review of the movie, this is not it because I haven’t seen it yet. Read the reviewer who gushes over it in the staid NYTimes.)

I’ve been struggling with these lessons recently myself and I must be desperate if I’m thinking of turning to a Pixar movie for help. Continue reading

Thrush and little green chickens

It is the first morning of Wood Thrush song, so loud and close I don’t recognize it at first. The flute-like whistles sound shrieky up close, but up close you can also hear the quiet churrs and burbles that follow the whistles. It is stunning. I sit on the porch and start to write but I can’t write while that is going on.

As I write that I can’t write, the song stops and then takes up again much farther off, as if the thrush is respecting my territory. Continue reading

Natural Woman

Sometimes I feel like retirement has allowed me to become appallingly lazy. But really, it is just revealing to me what life might have been like all along if I had been able to obey the preferences and rhythms of my human self.

Most people can’t afford to live like natural human beings but, instead, we have to be superhuman. We have to do more than we are built to do, exceed our capacity, and live with the consequent stress. Continue reading