Artist Call!

The Sedalia Center seeks African American and African Diaspora artists for an upcoming exhibit opening on Juneteenth, 2021 (Saturday, June 19, 2021) and lasting through the summer. This call is open to all visual artists age 18 or older located in Bedford, its surrounding counties including Amherst, Campbell, Pittsylvania, Franklin, Roanoke, Botetourt, and Rockbridge, and the city of Lynchburg. There is no entry fee. Please contact the exhibition’s curator Veronica Jackson at veronica@jacksondesigngroup.com, or call the Sedalia Center at (434) 299-5080 for more information. The exhibit will feature artists and artisans working in painting, drawing, textiles, photography, sculpture, mixed media (including audio and digital), performance art, interdisciplinary practices, and site specific installations. The deadline for entries is January 15, 2021. We look forward to hearing from you. ONWARD!

Bedford Welcome Center’s Festival of Trees

“Festival of Trees at the Bedford Area Welcome Center is an annual event that takes place around the end of November through the first week of January. “Christmas Through The Decades” is the theme for this year. The event will feature trees that are decorated by local businesses and organizations. Visitors are encouraged to come by the Welcome Center and vote for their favorite tree(s) for only $1.00/vote. At the conclusion of the event, all proceeds will benefit the charitable organizations designated by the businesses.  There are no winners and no losers of this event, everyone has an equal opportunity to raise money for their selected charity and they will keep whatever amount they raise. The Festival of Trees is a festive family friendly event to celebrate the season while helping causes important to the community.” –Bedford Welcome Center

We dedicated our Christmas tree to the many boys and girls, faculty, and families that once called The Counter Ridge School their own. Counter Ridge began in 1919 as a primitive segregated schoolhouse.  In 1959, local architect Stanhope Johnson built the brick and mortar building that still stands today.  The Counter Ridge School desegregated in 1969 and eventually became the Big Island Primary School.  When the Big Island Elementary School was built, the old Counter Ridge School and grounds were purchased by local beloved Doctor, Doc McCabe.  It stands today as an Arts & Cultural Center, dedicated to

 ‘The Art of Living and The Living Arts.’

Photographs for this display were taken from the book, Bedford Black History 250 Years, by Annie S. Pollard

Published by The Bedford Museum & Genealogical Library. Copyright May 2015

 This desk is original to the Counter Ridge School. 

The Sedalia Center is currently collecting photographs and other memorabilia to add to the Counter Ridge History Room located at the center.  If you would like to share any artifacts or stories from your time at The Counter Ridge School, please call Linda Scott at 434-299-5080 or email office@sedaliacenter.org

Visitors can donate a dollar ($1.00) and vote for the tree of their choice. The dollars voted for the Counter Ridge Tree will go to the Sedalia Center once the display is over. Sedalia is in critical shape financially this year, so please take some time, bring some kids to see the trees (There are at least 20. It’s festive and fun to see them all together.), and lay a dollar down for Sedalia’s Counter Ridge History Project.

Our tree is very different from the others, and has a homemade, happy presence that none of the others possess. 

Read more about the Counter Ridge History Project

‘Tis the Season of Giving- 2020

We haven’t seen much of each other this difficult year, but time passes, and the seasons go round. With the holidays, the Center’s first and only event of 2020, Christmas in Sedalia, will be held outdoors and under the pavilion on Saturday, December 12th, from 12-4. No Santa this year, but an opportunity to shop for unique, one-of-a-kind gifts and support local artists and artisans. It’s been an especially hard year for them as they’ve not had many opportunities to sell their wares. Come join us, outdoors and with plenty of room for social distancing, rain or shine!

Christmas in Sedalia cancelled due to executive order, dated November 16, 2020, by the Governor of Virginia.

Sedalia has remained open through strict budgeting and the generosity of benefactors who have permitted their funding to cover operational expenses. As a result, we are still open, and thank all who have remembered the Center through the year. Although we had to forego festivals, we have maintained the grounds, which you are invited to come and enjoy — or rent for a relaxed and spacious outdoor wedding or private party.

Meanwhile, with funding from local grantors, we have forged ahead with a history project rooted in the Sedalia Center’s original identity, as the Counter Ridge School built in 1959. This important project dedicates a classroom as a cultural center committed to collecting local history from the perspective of the Counter Ridge School. It will store oral histories the project collects, and be a repository for artifacts, documents, and memorabilia. A mural project draws on this historical research to paint a mural of Sedalia, Virginia, around the walls of the old cafeteria. The focus of these projects is local, and the Center is fortunate to work with highly skilled local artists, in the beginning stages of the mural, and as curator of an exhibit featuring local African American artists, scheduled for June 19th, 2021. The multi-media art show will be spread out and embrace the site’s history. Sedalia, Virginia is a beautiful and special place, with family-owned farms, ancient mountains, and stories waiting to be told. The Counter Ridge History Project joins the arts and humanities to explore the memories and legacies of this historic old school and its community.

The project keeps us busy, but like you, we miss bluegrass, barbeque, chili, bagpipes, and blues. In a year we planned to bring back Oktoberfest, and couple it with local craft breweries, we were unable to produce a single event. Our events support and celebrate local culture and the arts, but they also produce revenue which allows us to stay open. Times are tough all-around, but if you had planned to attend any of these events, would you please consider donating the gate fee you would’ve paid to attend your favorite festival(s)? Any amount would be greatly appreciated, and all donations are tax-deductible. You may use the enclosed envelope to send a check or you can visit our website, www.sedaliacenter.org, and make an online donation.

From all of us here at The Sedalia Center, we wish all of you a happy and safe holiday season. We look forward to a time when we can all be together, and hopefully, celebrate The Art of Living and The Living Arts in 2021.

On Behalf of the Staff and Board of Directors,

The Power Of The Great Outdoors: How It Helps In Addiction Recovery

Written by- Patrick Bailey

Ah, the great outdoors. There’s something within the human heart that ignites feelings of peace and tranquility when one spends time in the wild woods, a cool garden, or a pristine beach under the sun. 

A lot of studies point to the benefits of being outdoors towards mental health. Claims have been made that being outdoors reduces symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other disorders of the mind. No wonder, many seek solace at the natural hues of green and blues found in the trees, water, and sky.

There’s a special group of people too, who would benefit greatly by immersing themselves outdoors. Those who suffer from addiction and are on their way to recovery can spend their time in nature to bring healing. How exactly does it help in alcohol and drug recovery?

Benefits of Outdoors in Addiction Recovery

Fresh air for better peace of mind.

Plants are known to supply oxygen. When one goes outdoors, there are higher oxygen levels than usual, supplying more energy and vitality in the organs such as the lungs and heart. This results in increased mental clarity and energy’. People with low mood also tend to feel sluggish, so going outdoors really helps. The vitamin D and bright light from the sun make us feel perky, alleviating low energy and mood issues.

Addiction often causes withdrawal symptoms which are hard to shake when someone is idle. On top of that, people who abuse toxic substances mostly have poor blood circulation, causing damage in the most vital organs. Going outdoors helps one breathe better, think better, and have improved blood circulation.

Increased physical activity

Most outdoor activities aren’t just confined to sitting on a camping chair or staring at the stars. In fact, most outdoor recreation includes something that keeps your heart pumping, such as trekking, hiking, biking, or even fishing. For beginners, some recommended outdoor activities include:

  • Brisk walking: Brisk walking is easy on the joints and can be done at your own pace. Walking while seeing nature’s views can help you achieve a sense of calm.
  • Cycling: If you already have experience riding bikes indoors, you can incorporate this simple activity outdoors. The variation of terrain outdoors can possibly give you a good workout. 
  • Trekking or hiking: Trekking or hiking is a good beginner outdoor activity as you can pick simple trails for starters. Plus, more people are seeing the appeal of hiking from time to time because it is a fun recreation where you can still practice social distancing.
  • Swimming: Close to the coast? Perhaps swimming can be a regular outdoor recreation for you. Swimming is also a low-impact physical sport, and you won’t feel sweaty or hot afterward.

Now, what is the rationale behind exercising outdoors and overcoming addiction? There are also studies that show exercising helps establish some behavioral and neurological changes. Behavioral changes include the improvement of self-control and inhibition of risky behaviors. By maintaining an exercise routine, one is likely to stick to other healthy habits such as avoiding addictive substances.

Neurological changes through exercising include the normalization of the brain’s production of ‘feel-good’ chemicals. Exercise is known to help naturally release serotonin and dopamine, aiding in the proper balance of these chemicals in the brain.

Disconnecting from distractions.

In the modern world, what’s a day like? It is commonplace to see people with faces on gadget screens, perhaps absorbed in social media, games, or other mindless digital activities that can sometimes drain the mind. Again and again, researchers link the overuse of digital devices to problems in attention span, focus, and mental health.

Connecting with nature means you have the opportunity to disconnect with everything else. Be it the stress from work, school, or any other area of your life, you can simply take a pause and recharge through nature.

Genuine healing.

With nature, there are many activities you can do to heal from the trauma that brought you to addiction in the first place. You can:

  • Meditate: Meditation helps you focus on the present and becoming aware of thoughts that come in and out of your mind. This increased sense of focus helps train your brain not to go in ‘dangerous spirals’ that can lead to substance use.
  • Journal: Although you can basically journal your thoughts everywhere, there’s something special when you express your thoughts while you’re surrounded by nature’s beauty. Journaling in this way not just helps you release the pent-up feelings, but allows you to become creative.
  • Art: Healing from addiction can also be done through art. Speaking of creativity, a lot of people find nature to be a point of inspiration when creating art. Whether it’s music, drawing, painting, or writing, you can create inspired art by going outdoors.

Unchaining From Addiction Through Nature

There’s a reason why many rehabilitation centers are placed in scenic nature areas–the sense of being one with the natural world helps in one’s mental, physical, and emotional health. By incorporating outdoor recreational activities in your routine, you will get these wonderful benefits for addiction recovery.

Sources:

  • Health.harvard.edu – “Sour mood getting you down? Get back to nature”.
  • Familyholidayassociation.org.uk – “How Getting Outside Can Boost Your Mental Health”.
  • Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – “Exercise as a Potential Treatment for Drug Abuse: Evidence from Preclinical Studies”.
  • Cbs58.com – “Overuse of technology gadgets may cause ADHD-like symptoms in children”.

Written by- Patrick Bailey

Patrick Bailey is a professional writer, mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery.  You can check out his other work by visiting www.patrickbaileys.com.

Help the Pollinators

June is National Pollinator Month here in the US! While we should always be mindful of pollinators, June is a great time to dig in and give pollinators some extra love. The purpose of pollinator month is to spread awareness about the plight of pollinators and encourage folks to take action to help support their declining populations. 

Keep reading to learn 10 ways you can help save pollinators, including things you can do at home, in your community and beyond! Most of the ways we can help pollinators seem small and easy to do – but can add up to make a big difference! Pollinator populations are impacted by human lives and our daily decisions in more ways than most people realize. Furthermore, human lives depend on pollinators far more than we give them credit for! Pollinators are a critical part of our food systems, environment, and economy. 

“Without the actions of pollinators, agricultural economies, our food supply, and surrounding landscapes would collapse.”

pollinators.org

Before we dive into Ways to help SAVE Pollinators, let’s take a look at who the pollinators are and why they need our help!

Who are Pollinators?

When you hear the word “pollinators”, most folks immediately think of bees – and for a good reason! Bees are one of the most prominent and important pollinators of them all. As bees buzz from flower to flower, they pick up and carry pollen. Thousands of plants depend on this transfer of pollen between flowers (aka, the act of pollination) to reproduce and bear fruit or seeds, including most food crops. However, many other insects and animals play a role in pollination too! This includes butterflies, moths, birds, bats, ants, beetles, other animals, and even the wind

Pollinators are considered a keystone species group. The National Geographic Society describes a keystone species as “a plant or animal that plays a unique and crucial role in the way an ecosystem functions. Without keystone species, the ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether.” In fact, pollinators are directly responsible for one-third of all food that humans consume, including everything from fruit and veggies to coffee and chocolate!

Why are pollinators dying?

As our natural world becomes increasingly urbanized and polluted, pollinators are taking a big hit along with it. Bees are especially sensitive creatures and are very, very susceptible to the pesticides commonly used in conventional agriculture operations. The most lethal of them all (to bees) are neonicotinoids, which according to Cornell University are also the most widely used class of insecticides used in the world. One small exposure can take out an entire colony of bees. However, any broad-spectrum pesticide use puts pollinators at risk, including outside of a commercial farm setting! This includes residential use, at parks, on golf courses, on public right-of-ways, and more. 

Furthermore, natural habitats and food sources for pollinators are being altered, destroyed, or contaminated by expanding agriculture and “urban sprawl” development. Last but not least, our changing climate and weather patterns are negatively impacting many plants, animals, and ecosystems, including our pollinator friends.

Yikes. That all sounds pretty depressing, right? It certainly is… Yet the good news is: WE CAN HELP! Even more, most of the ways we can help save pollinators also benefit our personal wellness and the overall environment too. Consider it a “win” for all.

How to Help SAVE Pollinators

1) Plant for Pollinators 

The easiest and the best way to help pollinators is to create a pollinator-friendly garden, incorporating plants that provide nectar and pollen. When thinking about what to plant, give preference to plants that are native to your area, which are best suited to both your climate and the pollinators that live there! Blooming trees are also highly attractive to pollinators. If you don’t have room for an extensive garden or if you don’t have a large outdoor space, consider adding a few potted flowering plants to a balcony, patio, or window box. Many pollinator plants are low-maintenance and container-friendly!

When planning your garden or picking out plants you want to supply a diverse and sustained food sources by planting a variety of annual and perennial plants, including ones that flower at different times of year. Also, keep in mind that most (but not all) flowers produce pollen or nectar, which is what pollinators need to sustain life. 

Read More- 23 Plants for Pollinators

2) Create a Wildlife-Friendly Yard, Beyond Flowers

Do your best to provide habitat and supplemental food sources that support a variety of pollinators and wildlife. For example, add hummingbird feeders, bird houses, bird baths, solitary bee houses, or even bat boxes to your outdoor space. Put out shallow water baths for bees, such as a bird bath or shallow dish with stones or rocks in it. Allow some areas of your yard to grow “wild” and less manicured, which provides safe spots for nesting and shelter. Be conscientious when pruning vines and trees, especially during known bird nesting seasons. Let some of the wild “weeds” in your yard stay to bloom, such as dandelion. Also, avoid dead-heading all your spent flowers. The birds will appreciate eating the seeds!

Shelter, food, water, and places to raise young are all key components of a healthy wildlife habitat. 

3) Avoid Using Pesticides

Help save pollinators by avoiding the use of chemical pesticides at home. Instead, manage your yard or garden in a natural and organic manner. There are many ways to combat pests in a way that will not negatively impact beneficial insects like bees and butterflies. In fact, beneficial insects themselves can be used to reduce pest insect populations! For example, native American ladybugs, lacewings, and praying mantis eat many soft-bodied pest insects like aphids. Releasing them in your garden is considered a form of biological pest control – as opposed to chemical. The use of companion plants, polyculture, and physical barriers (like hoops and row covers) are other non-chemical means to reduce pests.

There are also many homemade or mild sprays that can be used to control garden pests, such as a DIY soap spray recipe or dilute neem oil. Even then, many “organic” pesticide products can harm bees and beneficial insects if applied incorrectly. Therefore, please do thorough research before using any kind of spray! 

4) Go Organic

Beyond your garden, go organic in as many ways possible – such as buying organic products and food. Supporting sustainable, pollinator-friendly farms keeps them in business – and the bees safe! Don’t forget to hit up your local Farmer’s Market too. Even if they are not “certified” organic, many small local farms are much more cautious about pesticide use. Furthermore, buying organic goods lessens the demand for conventional (toxic) products. This is better for everyone and everything, including your personal health.

5) Plant Butterfly Host Plants

Butterflies depend on “host plants” to reproduce and thus survive. Adult butterflies lay their eggs on a host plant, and when their larvae (caterpillars) emerge from eggs, they feed on the plant – until they too can grow up to become a beautiful butterfly. However, caterpillars won’t eat any old plant! Each species of butterfly has a particular host plant that their caterpillar babies will eat. Some caterpillars are very picky and will feed on one type of plant only, while others have a slightly wider appetite.

For example, milkweed is the sole source of food for monarch butterfly caterpillars. While there are many varieties of milkweed that they’ll eat, monarchs will ONLY eat milkweed. Swallowtail butterflies are less picky and will dine on dill, fennel, carrot greens, and parsley. 

6) Make an Impact Outside Your Home

There are a number of ways to help save pollinators beyond the borders of your own garden. If you live in an HOA, apartment complex, or other maintained community, talk to the folks responsible for landscape management about pollinators, pesticide use, and organic gardening options. Ask questions and share information at your workplace too. Perhaps they’ll be willing to make some beneficial changes! Even the time of day that sprays are applied can help save pollinators; bees are far less active in the evening hours, at sunset or after.

7) Support Beekeepers 

Supporting beekeepers is an excellent way to help encourage healthy pollinator populations. How? Buy local honey and beeswax products! Just like going organic, it is all about supply and demand. Consuming local honey also has the added benefit of inoculating your immune system with local pollen, which over time helps reduce your seasonal allergy response. Most often, local honey is sold at local farmers markets along with small shops, or direct from the keeper. 

support bee keepers

8) Start Keeping Bees Yourself

This might not be an option for everyone and might not be a task that you want to take on but it is something to consider. While our garden is filled with hundreds of visiting bees each day, we have yet to venture into the wonderful world of beekeeping. It is a dream for our future farm property though. I have heard that Flow Hives are very simple to get going and maintain. To learn more, consider checking out the highly-rated Beekeeper’s Bible Book or Beekeeping for Dummies. If you know of any other great beginner beekeeping resources, please drop them in the comments below!

9) Donate

If it is within your means, donating to relevant non-profits is an awesome option to help save pollinators. 

Listed below are a handful of non-profit organizations that are dedicated to helping protect pollinators and their natural habitats – though the list is by no means comprehensive!

10) Spread the Love

Talk to your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers about the importance of pollinators! Encourage them to get involved and make small but impactful changes too. Give pollinators and wildlife-friendly gifts for special occasions, such as packets of wildflower seeds, local honey, bird houses, or hummingbird feeders. Last but not least, share this article and other pro-pollinator messages on social media!

I hope that you found some meaningful ways you can personally help save pollinators!

I hope this article provided insight and inspiration on a few changes or new steps you can take to protect pollinators in your area. Every little bit counts. You know what they say… think globally, act locally! Please visit our pollinator garden at the center.  Bring a camera and take some pictures of the butterflies. 

Camping Memories

Camping has always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  Previously, I wrote about “camping with horses” which can be delightful or distressing, depending on how you go about it!   My advice is for you to trail ride all day with a camping pack and rider on your horse so he’s good and tired when it’s time to settle down for the evening.  This next bit of advice, which you are about to read, is more personal than practical, though there are some elements to it which you may find helpful!

Camping in the North Georgia Mountains was a favorite of mine when my children were small.  We lived in Jacksonville, Florida, at the time, so it wasn’t too far to travel with the little ones.  We especially enjoyed camping near Helen, Georgia, which is a sweet little Bavarian-style town. 

camping memories

Tent camping can be fraught with all kinds of problems; from heating to cooling, rain and wind, mosquitos sneaking inside because someone didn’t zip the tent closed, air mattresses that mysteriously deflate while you sleep, and more.  Air mattresses can be the bane of tent camping, for a number of reasons.  If you are way up in the middle of the mountains, far from civilization, and your mattress deflates while you sleep, there’s not much you can do.  Finding and fixing the leak is always challenging, too.  If your site is not level, you either get a rush of blood to your head, or your feet take on a gravitational pull that feels like you’ll soon be sliding out the tent and down the mountain.  If you camp at a time when the air is cool in the evening, your mattress can feel like sleeping on a frozen pond.  I’ve experienced all of these, including a deflating mattress on top of a gravel tent pad.  Gravel.  That’s exactly what happened on my last visit to the North Georgia Mountains. We had lovely little camping spot, a bit downhill from the rv campers.  On the first night, the mattress deflated.  It was about 2 am, and there we were, lying on top of rocks with a bit of plastic between us and the gravel.  Thankfully, the children were fast asleep and unaware of the misery their parents were experiencing.  Grouchy and sleepless, I slipped out of the tent while my husband tried to find the leak.  The night air was cool and sweet and I as I looked up hill toward the area of the comfy campers, I saw the biggest, most beautiful RV castle I have ever seen.  Oh how I envied them at that moment.  All the glorious comforts of home contained in a mobile paradise.  For all the world, it looked like it was plated in the finest gold.  And there I was, lumpy from gravel, miserable from sleeplessness, and feeling very deprived. 

In the morning, the children awoke and were raring to go.  I made breakfast over an open fire all the while thinking about the castle on the hill.  I imagined they were waking up in the finest linens after a long luxurious night of sleep, their coffee already perking to the sound of their happy heartbeats.  Meanwhile, my coffee was barely starting to perk and I just knew when it was ready, it would be full of grounds.  Gloom, despair, and agony on me…

Later in the day, we met the folks who owned the beautiful RV parked over our heads.  They, too, had traveled from Florida and we struck up a lively conversation about Gators and Seminoles.  The luxury campers were from Tallahasee and it’s almost a requirement to route for Florida State if you live in Tallahasee.  We spoke about a lot of things, and I couldn’t help but notice the size of her diamond ring.  Normally, I would just admire something like that, and not think much of it other than it was impressive in size and lovely. But, you know, sleeping on rocks can have a bad effect on a person.  A tired, grumpy, lumpy person. I was deep in the sleep-deprived, self-pity mode.  Anyway, the luxury campers were absolutely the nicest people.  They fussed over our two children, asked all kinds of nice questions about our lives, invited us to dinner in the camper, and then came down the hill to visit our campsite, too.  We shared a glass of wine or two before they headed uphill to the castle on wheels.  After they had gone out of sight, I began to cry a little.  The fire was slowly fading, I was absolutely exhausted, and I sat there thinking about my life.  I began to think about my two beautiful children, my little yellow house with the white picket fence, and my wonderful husband (who successfully fixed the air mattress).  I had little to be envious of, as it turns out.  Our luxury camping friends sold everything they had, all their worldly goods and possessions, with the exception of her wedding ring, to buy that beautiful camper.  He was dying of cancer.  I should say, living with cancer because that’s exactly what they were doing, until he couldn’t.    They were traveling the country, as much as possible, before the cancer would take its toll. 

camping memories

The lesson from this camping trip is simple:  the best sleep happens when you go to bed with a thankful heart. 


About the Author-

Linda Scott

The Opportunity of Tai Chi

The first I heard of tai chi, it seemed the idea was that you wouldn’t be there for your opponent to hit you — the art of dodging, I thought. I loved the idea: a humorous approach to self-defense. Of course, that was a very simplistic understanding of a thoroughly complicated system, but as far as self-defense goes, it does get to the essential idea. Even though you are not there to be hit, the other side of that yin is the yang: that your opponent can’t lose you either. You stick. You assist your opponent to go in the direction his force is taking him. Because tai chi isn’t just a system of fight training, its essence is the development of internal energy, of practicing, with attention, long enough to begin to learn to feel how to open your body and let your chi circulate through its system.

Tai Chi came to China from India; it developed from yogic practices and works with the same energy centers. Tai chi developed from generations of practitioners observing the natural world, observing their own and others’ bodies, meditating, thinking, conversing, writing, practicing. For the adept, the power behind kicks and punches is the internal power of the chi propelling the foot or hand from deep inside the body. Its ultimate purpose, however, is self-realization; its method is to practice until you begin to notice, then to feel, finally, perhaps, to master, the forces of yin and yang, the polar opposites and tension of physical existence. It’s pretty heady stuff, and it never ends. That’s what makes it so interesting; there’s always another level, another insight.

I finally found my teacher when I was in my thirties, a fifth-generation Chinese doctor, Tzu Kuo Shi. He taught the Yang Long Form, which took me years just to get the moves straight, and as it turns out, is legendary in the USA — few people teach is because it takes too long to learn, and to do. I prize it and certainly prefer it to its shortened and complicated competition versions that are generally taught. They are more concentrated, they allow practitioners to exhibit mastery in a tightly controlled exhibition. But I love doing the long from. I love its flow, the swing and cadence its length and repetitions allow to develop and grow. It gives me room to learn how to do it, and what it can be.

tai chi
photo credit- LittleBee80

Quite some time ago, I saw a notice at a yoga studio that never was open when I was in its neighborhood. There was a photograph of an old woman — old: scrawny, wrinkled  arms and legs, stringy gray hair, ancient, craggy face — in a very strong and correct Warrior Pose, one knee bent, supported by the rear leg, arms outstretched with power and lift, back arched, head erect on a strong, if skinny, neck. Under her photograph was a caption that read, “This woman is 83 years old. She started practicing with us when she was 60.” I took a most valuable lesson from that encounter. I learned that I had the rest of my life, as much or as little as was left of it, and that it didn’t matter that I had come to tai chi late or was not athletic and was, basically, terrible at it. I had the rest of my life to work on it, and it made me smile deep inside.

I have continued my tai chi journey. I came to Bedford, Virginia, and a teacher appeared to show me how to dig down and begin to understand how to break through physical barriers (Hint: Break through your mental barriers first). But although I am no longer young, and or course getting older, I am getting better at it. I am learning, improving. Noticing what happens when I keep losing my balance, thinking about what I have to do to prevent that.

None of this is magic, of course; athletes, dancers, gymnasts, they all know how to keep their weight down and their heads up, to breathe through their efforts. But I wasn’t a natural athlete, and though I finally learned how to dance, until I began to understand what I was doing while I was trying to do tai chi, I didn’t have the full story.

tai chi
photo credit-Dragonimages

Maybe you have been blocked from your usual exercise by this pandemic. Tai Chi and yoga need only a few square feet, and they can give you the world, the world that is inside you, infinitely. If you are looking for something that will never grow old, never wear out, never become routine, consider taking up the study of chi qong, yoga, or tai chi. Think about your posture, your breath, quiet your mind by paying attention to the rather demanding physical things you are doing. Heal yourself, strengthen yourself. Once you allow yourself to accept your effort, and understand that you might as well relax, because you are taking only the first steps of an endless journey, you begin to have fun and feel the adventure you have undertaken. You have the rest of you life, and it will take longer than that.


About the Author-

Doris McCabe