Sunday, March 18, 2018

Gratitude and Resilience

As of today, there remain 15 weeks in this semester, in this second year of training at the Retreat Center. The time has seemingly flown by. This coming autumn will begin the final and third year with graduation in June 2019.

I am really grateful for ALL of the support I have received to make this experience a reality. I remember how excited I was several years ago when Dr. Yang publicly announced he was thinking of creating a 3-Year Program that was not age restricted. Then I recall when he made the actual decision and began accepting applications. Each morning I prayed at my altar asking for the opportunity to be chosen to participate.

Now, I find myself here in the midst of the daily routines training and preparing myself knowing that soon I will be looking back remembering when I used to be "on the mountain". Each morning at 6:00 we sit as a group to meditate for an hour. Each morning I give thanks for the precious breath that flows in and out. There have been moments when I am acutely aware that without that breath, my life would cease. I do not take it for granted and, thus, inhale and exhale slowly and deeply. I give thanks each morning to the Creator, my Ancestors known and Unknown, my spiritual guides, and all my family relations. Often, I name all of my relatives and their children's, children's, children to be blessed for seven generations. I give thanks to all of the women in my life who thought me worthy to share their time, affection, and love. I give thanks to Dr. Yang for selecting me to be in the program and to my training mates who make me a better person and aspiring martial artist. Likewise, I am thankful for all of the people who have and continue to support me to make it possible to be here "on the mountain".

Each morning I give thanks to all my friends, all of my teachers throughout the years, and all of my students and former patients. I am grateful to all of the doctors who helped mend my broken body.

Each morning I am grateful for being healthy and of sound mind. I am grateful to be blessed with knowing that I don't know everything--I am not full nor satiated with life. I am grateful to have met my Kindred Spirit who is also my friend. Since childhood, I knew she was there and that it was possible, but it took my being prepared through life's experiences for us to recognize one another--I never gave up hope...

It is chilly and windy today. The sun made its brief appearance and has now retreated to oncoming evening. There are only a handful of us here until next week because Dr. Yang, his family, and the graduating students (from the 10 and 5 Year Programs ending this June) are in Taiwan to celebrate and meet Dr. Yang's teachers. Those of us in the 3-Year Program look forward to that same trip next year.

The past 2 weeks have been an unexpected time to rest my body and mind. I didn't realize I needed it so much until I kept falling asleep in my chair several times. I've had to modify the intensity of my personal conditioning as well as the partner drills. I'm also redefining what my specific goals are to focus my energy on for the remaining 12 months of training. Our curriculum is very robust physically and mentally and it's clear that I cannot learn absolutely everything. So, I'm choosing quality over quantity knowing that this is an ongoing discipline; especially after graduation. Like going to a great restaurant with a fabulous menu, you have to pick and choose exactly what it is you are actually going to eat and enjoy. Oysters anyone!?

Last week, before Dr. Yang left, we had our first testing this semester: Yin-Yang Symbol (Linear); Peng-Lu-Ji-An (stationary); and Centering level 2. We'll get the official results when everyone returns. For now, the experience was a lot less anxiety provoking than previous tests. It's now serving it's purpose which is to provide clear feedback from Dr. Yang about our progress with specific skill sets.

I'm really enjoying learning Taiji Spear and Taiji Sword! While I still like Taiji Staff and Saber, there is an elegance to the former that is remarkable to me.

Most days, I still do my panther crawls up and down the hill. I think it's paying off in unexpected ways. My training mates commented the other day that they notice a difference in the quality of my strength when we're doing centering drills. One said I now move more like a bull rather than a cow. You have to move out of the oncoming force of either, but a bull is different. The other said I used to feel like an oncoming train, but now it's more like a boulder. I was unawares until they mentioned it. In their comments, I have a glimpse of what it is I'm in search of which is the 'power' and not just physical strength. I'm still searching for it through one of these qi portals...Knock , knock!

Thanks, again, for your support and encouragement. By my example, I hope to inspire others to be at their best in what they choose to do, in how they choose to be. Ase'O!

Your tax-deductible PayPal DONATIONS made directly to the Retreat Center on my behalf are greatly appreciated. Please include a note indicating it is for: Dr. Woodbine 3-YP. Thank you, kindly!!!


All things are possible once you clearly see it, commit your every action to achieving it, and know that what appears to be a roadblock in your way or failure is just preparation for more than you even anticipated achieving. Don't give in, don't give up!