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This has been a busy month, traveling to a beautiful wedding on the Mississippi, then to the beach with our precious granddaughter.  Now we are back home to see the bridge near our home being torn down, and taking daily refuge in our Qi Gong spot on Sligo Creek.  We  miss family, but know that life has rhythms of intense activity and periods of calm, both necessary.

Many of us have spent special time with friends and family this summer, traveled, experienced changes in our routine and our emotional life.  How do you react to change – in routine, in surroundings, in people in your life?  Do you have some daily “non-negotiable” needs or routines?

For myself, I need journaling, sitting meditation and some QiGong each morning, preferably outdoors.  So, as we traveled, I continued to wake early, journal, find a different body of water for Qi Gong and meditation before I was ready for all the wonderful excitement and interactions with beloved family.  Time with family goes much better when I am my best self, remembering that I am never alone to meet any challenges – within myself or in my changing world.

J-QG on beach

My favorite place to practice Sunlight Qi Gong is the seashore at sunrise.  My husband and I had the surprise opportunity this week to stay at a friend’s home there for a couple of days to celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary.  Touching sand, ocean and sky, breathing in fresh morning air, my heart opens with gratitude, a smile comes alive, greeting the rising sun.

When I die, please don’t see my passing as a tragedy.  It cannot be.  I have lived so many lives already, loved so deeply, been loved so beautifully and faithfully.  I am grateful for every extra moment of life, every sunrise, sunset, wave of the ocean, every breath, every moment with family and friends, every opportunity to tell my beloved how much I love him.

 

 

J at GC GC colors GC with trees

Wow!  The Grand Canyon is a great place to touch the Energy of the Universe!  So powerful in majestic beauty, and in geological, historical, social energy.  I was able to absorb the beauty of these colors, breathe the air, look as far as the eye can see on our Women’s Retreat in Sedona, Arizona.  Fourteen women gathered for a week absorbing the energy of the vortexes, meditating, practicing Qi Gong and yoga, resting and sharing deeply from our hearts about blocks we want to transform to receive energy into our bodies, minds and lives.  Then nine of us were able to travel to the Grand Canyon for our final day in Arizona.

Thank you, Ruth and other sisters on this journey.  Thank you, Mother Earth, for these magnificent mountains, rocks, and fire at your core.  Thank you, Father Sun for blessing us with life every day, whether we see you or not.  Thank you, amazing Universe, for holding us, connecting us in your Energy and Love.

Spring budsWhat a glorious spring day!  The first birthday of our great niece Hannah Grace (https-//www.facebook.com/photo), the spring full moon, cherry blossoms trying to burst into bloom on the Tidal Basin, and so many great activities coming up.

Please join us in celebrating SPRING and new life within yourself at these events.  Our world needs every gesture of peace, every celebration of life possible:
1) “Twelve Posture Qi Gong”class.   My husband Patrick and I will be teaching this 8-week class in simple, gentle movements that will greatly reduce pain, improve agility and open energy channels in your body. Join us on Tuesdays from 7:00-8:00pm from April 5-May 24 at the Takoma Park Community Center. Sign up for drop-in or the full class at (https://apm.activecommunities.com/takomaparkrecreation/Activity_Search/qi-gong-12-posture/4440).

2) There are still some private rooms available for our Women’s Spiritual Retreat at Claymont Court, WV (near Harper’s Ferry) the weekend of April 29-May1. (See http://www.ruthfishel.com or email Joann to register ASAP).   REST, RELAX!

3) AND join Ruth and me in a special women’s retreat in SEDONA, ARIZONA May 30-June 2 “Awakening to the Power of the Vortexes!” (with a trip to the Grand Canyon on June 3 optional). To sign up, see http://www.ruthfishel.com.

Enjoy every moment of new life, every precious, beautiful moment, my friends.

Love and Peace,

Joann

My affirmation for the month of March, as I heal from a bad cold:

“The spring sun is warming, healing and inspiring me.”Joann:Qi:Beach.JPG

car snowed inThese last four days of being buried under two feet of snow has been a challenge for many of us. It is especially difficult if we don’t have a strong meditation practice, are not used to being alone and miss distractions and activities (work, shopping, driving, even phone calls, television and internet if power is lost).  At last my copy of the Washington Post arrived today!

This morning my husband read a passage from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Art of Communication before our sitting meditation (after journaling and Qi Gong, our usual morning routine). Thay said “The way in is the way out.” I breathed with this phrase, letting it sink into my consciousness, the truth of it connecting to my heart.

Even though my outer world has been still, covered in snow, preventing usual outward activities, we have been happy to have this little four-day retreat together. Fortunately we also have power, so we’ve checked on friends and family, FaceTimed with those half-way around the world, held an on-line meeting, faced some tasks that we might have shunned without this intense period of time alone at home.

But the most precious gift was extra time to meditate together. To touch our hearts, to feel fears of isolation, “cabin fever,” being ‘trapped’ should there be a medical emergency. Our logic tells us that we have great neighbors (our next door neighbor held a brunch for all the children who made her lawn into a giant snow slide), a four-wheel jeep across the street, many friends. But sometimes our hearts beat with irrational fear. We need time to calm our heart, clear our mind, find our breath and know that we are truly at home, here and now.

From the safety and joy of going inward, we find the strength and clarity to reach out to others, dig out our cars, wait patiently until it is safe to venture further and reach out to the rest of the world, with all its suffering and joy.

“The path home begins with your breath. If you know how to breathe, you can learn how to walk, how to sit, how to eat your meal, and how to work in mindfulness so that you can begin to know yourself. When you breathe in, you come back to yourself. When you breathe out, you release any tension. Once you can communicate with yourself, you’ll be able to communicate outwardly with more clarity. The way in is the way out.” (p. 17/18).

Claymont dawn

What a joy to step out into the early morning, see Venus still bright in the Eastern sky, breathing, with the bird on the highest branch, waiting for the first light of dawn.

Our Women’s Retreat at Claymont Court gave us clear night stars, a glorious moon and two precious dawns. Some of us enjoyed a night venture into the meadow and also an early rising to greet the sunrise with Qi Gong in the ballroom.

Now that a hurricane is bringing us clouds and rain, can we summon up the beauty of those clear skies in our minds? Stay inspired, stop occasionally to breathe mindfully, eat more slowly, walk carefully, listen deeply, speak kindly?

Clouds come, clouds go….my mind is a clear blue sky.

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Thomas Lyle Malone (9-9-09 to 4-8-86)                         Photo by Joann

 

Today would have been my father’s 106th birthday had he not died a terrible death 30 years ago.  His smile and kind eyes still reach me in this photo from one of the last years of his life.  I know he loved me to the best of his ability.  Today I still feel his love sustaining me in my healthy body, my love for reading and study, my ability to work hard and laugh at myself, my search for the divine in people, stars and sunrises.  He continues in me, my brothers, his five remaining grandchildren, five great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.  Most of us have life because of him.  Thank you, Daddy!  Thank you, Mother.

For many years I was angry at him, wished he would change, wished he had never taken a drink of alcohol, wished he could take care of himself and not suffer so much.  Slowly, as I realized my own powerlessness, as I began to meditate on his suffering, my heart opened, softened.  I forgave myself and him for many harms done to one another.  Today, I relish walking with him in meditation, holding his hand, comforting him, letting him know how happy and free my life is.  If I can breathe, walk, eat, laugh, play, live and love, he can continue to breathe, walk, eat, laugh, play, live and love in me and all his descendants.  My happiness is his happiness.  My freedom is his freedom.  My life continues his life.

 

 

 

 

IMG_5666Thank you, friends, for inspiring me this week to get up and MOVE more!  One friend was feeling ill and had stopped exercising altogether.  We promised one another we would get on our bikes this week.  I had a lovely ride yesterday morning along the creek and came home sweaty, heart beating, joyous.  I aim to get to the gym 4-5 days a week for a 60-90 minute workout (depending on weather for swimming), but this week I also added three half-hour walks .   Another inspiration was a friend in the hospital suffering from diabetes, unable to walk.  I don’t want that to happen to me!  It might, no matter how well I eat and exercise, but anything I can do to prevent it, I want to do.  I know that staying healthy, eating what is best for my body takes vigilance, attention, mindfulness.  No one else will do it for me.  If I fail one week, I need to start again the next.

A special thanks to my husband for his constant positive inspiration to get up from this computer and do Qi Gong at least once an hour.  Moving feels GOOD!  (Until about 4:00pm in the afternoon as I finish this blog.)  Each of us needs to find the best time of day, the best pattern and type of exercise that works for us, but as Michelle Obama urges us, “Let’s MOVE.”

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The Gazebo at Brookside Gardens                                           Photo by Joann

Most of us don’t need to go far to see blue sky, sunlight, clouds, water, green leaves, paradise.  Happiness can be present in our next breath.  In this breath now, if we are aware, awake, alive.  What a miracle this cool, beautiful August morning offers us.  I was particularly moved during meditation at Stillwater this morning by the beauty I saw outside the windows of our meditation hall.  I get to be alive today to see the sunlight filtering through these green leaves, to see some of the first of the yellow ones fall.

My mind flitted to remembering family and friends who passed away, some recently, some years ago in early August.  I want to see all I can today, to live fully, to experience the breezes on my cheeks for them.  They are alive in me, if I am aware.  My life extends beyond this body, this period of time on the planet, I hope.  Yet I don’t need to wait for paradise the way I was taught as a child.  I can experience paradise now, hearing the birds sing, smiling at the clouds.  I am so grateful to be alive, so grateful my beloved is alive and present with me.  Thank you, Universe!

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