A good friend of mine once gifted our family a piece of artwork. It was bursting with life and excellently crafted. In my joy I wanted to offer back a “thanks” beyond just the words. He received my intention but it was his reply that stuck with me most. He wanted us to know that in receiving his art, in his heart and mind, we had brought something to the art itself that it was missing before. He went so far as to say that prior to our receiving his art, it had not yet reached its fullness, its wholeness. And in that way, he said, we had participated in its creation and that brought him joy.
I’m not sure how to convey the remainder of that story, but I think you can imagine…it was sheer, fully-rounded, happiness. It was togetherness in truth. Giving and receiving—I’m convinced these are designed to be like doses of medicine that brings wholeness to our humanity.
It was a Fall day nearly nine years ago that I decided to begin writing to you all here, to let my voice have voice. Since that time so many of you have “listened” to and for me, even when I’m gone. Thank you. First I had to allow myself to speak here, but if no one came to hear, there would be a fullness missing. In that way you have and you do create with me. Until you receive my offering left for you here, it had not and does not yet reach its fullness, its wholeness. Thank you for creating with me, for letting me create with you.
At first I wrote to understand
I found out I was not alone
Now I write so that others will know it too
The writing space, or any creative space, for each of us, is born out of many reasons and times in our lives. For me it has often been an attempt to see myself and though in the process I rarely have been aware of it—it worked! (big cheesy smiling emoji here)
Part of the barrier in my own knowing was being so often stuck in wondering if that desire (to see/know myself) was selfish. Now I’m hands-down convinced it’s the furthest thing from selfishness to know and see ourselves, it’s actually selfish not to. We all lose when we’re wearing blinders. (Ask me how I know!)
To link arms and heart through written words feels to me as though we’ve sat down to have a cup of something refreshing in the days of heat, or a cup of warm together in the days that chill us to the bone, but my favorite is when somehow beyond the words it seems we’ve taken a walk and sat in silence awhile and listened to the river. None of this could ever happen all alone. I’ve had to let go of a lot of pride and out-of-balance ego to get to experience this, thank you for helping me.
Some of you have been around these parts long enough to know that I’ve been on a healing journey from chronic illness and surviving to something that looks a lot more like thriving in my book. Almost seven years ago one of the tools that came alongside me and brought more support than I could originally imagine was qigong (pronounced “chee-gong”)—an ancient branch of Classical Chinese Medicine similar to Tai-Chi but the form I practice is more dynamic with deeper movements and is medicinal in nature.
Three years ago I trained to be a qigong instructor and have only continued to excavate my practice. The treasures have been profound and getting to share them as a teacher is another one of those areas of unbounded joy where until it was received, I only knew in part, it had not and could not reach its fullness, its, or my, wholeness. That word, wholeness, doesn’t mean I’m done because I’ve “arrived” now. This concept is like what King David prayed* for his son Solomon to have, it’s a launching point where there is safety and peace to see the reality of abundance even in lean times, the treasures in our dark caverns, and morning light as the sole purpose of our dark nights, even unified with them.
When I am scared about “selfishness”, I am not abiding in wholeness. When I am afraid to share the things I am learning (saying things to myself like “who am I?”) I am not dwelling in the safety of completeness—the place where I know we’re not so different from one another, that I need you and you need me.
Since 2020 I’ve had the opportunity to teach classes at farms, fields, retreats, the ocean, online, and most recently, on top of a mountain! I am amazed. In addition to qigong I became a breath work and meditation instructor last year as well as completed a certification program to be a life coach, bringing the spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical elements into greater unity within myself. It’s been a huge part of my healing bringing these four areas together.
These practices have become new avenues for me to come alongside others in their healing journeys as well. Until recently, I’d been away from this writing space for awhile but, in the meantime, I’ve been gathering tools and it has filled my heart with ecstatic joy.
Thank you for continuing on the journey with me, for valuing what I learn, and letting me share it with you. It is a huge privilege, honor, and greater completion of my creativity than I could ever hope to attain on my own. Early in qigong we are taught two maxims that help me when I apply them to just about any area of life:
1) “Never into pain, listen to the pain” So, if there is a movement that when we extend into it, and it begins to cause pain—that’s where we pull back. We don’t force the thing. This is a rejection of “no pain, no gain” philosophy that leaves so many injured unnecessarily. Rather, we pause to listen and learn, and then we…
2) “ease into it, not muscle into it”
How can we practically apply this to our days?
First, please know it’s not selfish to take time to understand you, the elements that create your reality, needs and desires included. Here’s a curious question to ask yourself, you could even use it as a journal prompt:
Consider a situation that’s been bugging at you. Listen to yourself think about it, or the words you use when you talk to someone else about it. Pause. Listen. Consider:
Where do the words that I use in regards to (insert your situation here) come from?
Sometimes it’s surprising and other times downright shocking to discover the words actually come from places we didn’t actively realize. As my friend Jes is often known to ask me when I say something out loud about a thing that’s creating some tension in my life, “Whose voice was that?” In other words, she’s a really good listener. She helps me realize when I’m just regurgitating what someone else said to or about me—often a long, like waaay too long a time ago…
She’s not only done this for me she’s transformed how a whole group of people speak and listen to one another. It’s beautiful. It’s transforming. So, your turn: say, or write, some things—out loud… pause… listen, what words are you using? Whose words? “Whose voice is that?” From Jes, to me, to you, to your people…we can create even more beauty, more art, together. No muscling needed, but you are. You are needed here.
I’m on a pilgrimage in this life, learning and teaching others how to pray with our bodies, how to stay in the Breath. I’m with you in the journeying and I’m glad you are here with me.