Life With Ferris: Finding Balance In Tai Chi

Monday, October 19, 2020 - by Ferris Robinson
Ferris Robinson
Ferris Robinson

I’ve heard about Tai Chi for a few years. I’ve heard it’s really good for mindfulness, balance, energy and serenity, all of which are on my list of things I aspire to. Unfortunately, that list is behind the first list of things I aspire to, which include unloading the dishwasher and buying toilet paper.

My husband read an article on mindfulness in Parade a few years ago, and his main takeaway was to wash the dishes slowly, which translated to him reminding me to wash the dishes slowly, which translated to someone nagging me to wash the darn dishes, which resulted in me shrieking, “I don’t have the time to take anything slow, you #$%&*$#%#$@!”

So, when I first realized Tai Chi was offered three minutes from my house at the Church of the Good Shepherd by John Johnson, I said I didn’t have time for it. It’s in the middle of the day. I didn’t think I would know anyone in the class. And I don’t have a white karate suit to wear.

I didn’t think about it again. I thought about what I should do about my bunions and what skin cream would do something helpful to my face and what I was going to do about my little dog’s breath. I wondered what kind of bird was at my feeder (a rose patch on its chest and dark wings) and how long the broccoli would last in the fridge and why the heck all my houseplants were dying. These six random thoughts occurred in the space of a few minutes, and that is no exaggeration. 

So when my friend Kate mentioned she was taking Tai Chi, I asked where she got her little white suit. She said she didn’t have one, and that I didn’t need to either. But-but-but- I began, saying I couldn’t commit to a six-week class and also that if I was going to take the time out of the day, I needed to get my heart rate up.

It may be my imagination, but when she patted my arm and said I didn’t need to worry about any of those things, she seemed calmer and more serene than she had the last time I’d seen her.

So, I showed up for the class. I wore my work clothes and I watched the clock, well aware it started a few minutes late. In hindsight, I should have taken deep deliberate breaths with my hands on my belly and imagined balancing a pitcher of water on my head and teacups of hot tea on my shoulders, keeping them all balanced. But I hadn’t learned that yet.

My instructor is unassuming, and only when I googled him did I realize he is a chiropractic orthopedist and a diplomate of the American Academy of Pain Management and the International Academy of Clinical Acupuncture. 

Dr. Johnson began class with an easy warm up, explaining the benefits of the rhythmic swaying to our hearts. And then we slowly moved our arms in an easy circle as we watched our hands. I should say, really watched our hands. I noticed the curved lines in my palms and the light coming in behind the tips of my nails.

And not once during the class did I consider the dirty dishes I’d left in my sink. I plan to make time to go back. 

(Ferris Robinson is the author of  two children's books, "The Queen Who Banished Bugs" and "The Queen Who Accidentally Banished Birds," in her pollinator series, with "Call Me Arthropod" coming soon. "Making Arrangements" is her first novel, and "Dogs and Love - Stories of Fidelity" is a collection of true tales about man's best friend. Her website is ferrisrobinson.com. She is the editor of The Lookout Mountain Mirror and The Signal Mountain Mirror. Ferris can be reached at ferrisrobinson@gmail.com )



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