Showing posts with label tai chi chuan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tai chi chuan. Show all posts

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Looking Back... Looking Forward

With less than nine hours to go before 2017 dawns, I suppose it is natural to want to reflect on the past year. It was an up and down year for me, or rather a down and up year.
The Sad
Having my mother pass away in January was definitely not the best way to start the year. It was hard, and to be honest, it still is. During the launch of JOURNEY earlier this month, I declined to read from my story, Galen's Hope, as I would normally do at such an event. While the story is about grief, it is not about my mother. The hard part was the reminder that I started writing it just before my mother passed away, so I always associate that story with her. To this day I still cry when I read it, making it impossible to read it out loud during the launch.
The New Year's Resolution
Linzé Brandon, self-portrait, art, pen and ink sketch
Self-portrait: pen and ink
But things were not always sad for me. I made a resolution (the first in many years, because I don't keep to them, duh!) to do more art. My resolution was to spend one weekend each month only doing some kind of art project. And I did! Trust me, I am surprised too. Upon reflection, I think the reason I kept to my resolution was to put a measurable goal to it - one weekend every month. There was no pressure to do this project or finish that project - the goal was to do art. To enjoy the creativity and the relaxation of the process.
The Bad
Like many people, I also wanted to lose weight. I was well on track until my mother died, and once the comfort food came out.... Well, needless to say, that resolution did not work out so well. The only good thing that I have to mention is that I didn't gain more than where I started from. Something to be grateful for.
But the weight loss effort has taken a turn from vanity to necessity. Yes, I am overweight, but I have never been one to fuss about the way I look. Until I was put on medication for high blood pressure on top of having an ulcer. I had to rethink the way I live my life and deal with the extreme stress that comes from my job. More about that a little later.
The Achievements
Linzé Brandon, book cover, print book, Negotiating the Maze, non-fiction
On the writing front, I managed to finish several first drafts and publish two books: Negotiating the Maze and JOURNEY. I also let myself down with the final editing and publication of my fourth novel, Waiting for Adrian. I am however not stressing too much right now, as it will just be the first book to finish in the new year. This book has been a particular struggle for me, but after the cover design was finished, things started to look much brighter.
Those drafts I mentioned were part of the 232k words that I wrote this year. At an average of 635 words per day, it wasn't my best year, but then again it wasn't my worst year either. I joined a Facebook group where we set ourselves a target for the year and then are held accountable to achieve that. I set myself a goal of 750 words per day for 2017, amounting to 273k words for the year. More about that later.
The Surprise
As a writer, I also love to read. I finished my 80th book of the year yesterday. If you take into account the fact that I don't read during April, July, and November (for obvious reasons) it comes down to reading two books per week for the remaining 40 weeks of the year. Trust me, I was surprised at the number since I don't have a reading target. Never have. Probably never will, since it is the one activity that I can never get enough of.
I still have a few books (mostly non-fiction) that I haven't finished yet, but that's okay, they will be on next year's list.
The Challenge
If you have been following my blog, you will know that I am a student of Tai Chi Quan and have been for the past two years. I am presently learning the 40 forms, and while doing my daily practice, I came to the realisation that I am already on my way towards my goal for 2017: to live in balance.
The New Year...2017
I will be blogging about my journey to bring my life into balance: health, work, writing, and art. Creativity has always been a major element in the way I define myself as a human being. But to keep myself accountable, I am going to tackle this journey in public. For that, you need to know what my goals are and for my journey to be a success, I need to report on my progress - not for you, but for me.
So I am taking a deep breath, and making a list of what I aim to achieve to bring my life into balance in 2017.
Here we go:
  1. I need to get my weight down from 127kg (weighed myself yesterday morning) to 100kg. It is approximately 2kg per month and not an unreasonable target. Trying to lose weight faster will mess with my blood sugar which I have to keep a close eye on for various reasons.
  2. Secondary target to the above is to get off my high blood pressure meds.
  3. I mentioned my word count target for 2017 - 273k words. Very easy to measure, although sometimes tough to keep up.
  4. I have five books on my list for publication, which include two full-length novels.
    They are:
    • Waiting for Adrian (4th book in the Nations of Peace series),
    • We, the One (a standalone novel),
    • Richard's Choice (the second story of the Last Gryphon trilogy),
    • Breathe (the fifth book in the Third Gender series), and
    • Galen's Destiny (the third story of the Last Gryphon trilogy).
    Having so many is a challenge, but three of the five are in the final stages of editing, while the first drafts on other two are almost complete. I drew up a project plan, and I will divulge more details soon.
  5. My resolution to do more art still stands, and I plan to continue to dedicate one weekend every month to draw, sketch or paint. My present painting project turned out to be more work than I anticipated (and that is not a bad thing) but if I work at it as planned, I will be able to finish it in three or four months. I have many ideas and more things to learn and cannot wait to get working on that.
  6. Master at least 20 of the 40 forms in Tai Chi with daily practice. This martial art has opened my eyes to the joy of movement and the focus associated with meditation. I cannot attend a live class, but the video course is a very close second choice. As someone who dislikes exercise, I find this martial art to be the perfect alternative for me. And after having stiff muscles for two days after my second video lesson, I can safely say that it is exercise!
  7. The last on my list does not have a target. Reading. All I can say is that I will read as much as I can. It will never be a goal to read a certain number of books each year. Why bother to set a goal for something that I love so much?
I do not have a single word for next year, as many people say you should have, but that's okay - for me it will be to Live In Balance in 2017.
So join me, and share with me, an amazing new year.
Happy 2017!

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Early Benefits I gained from Tai Chi

tai chi health benefits
Source for Infographic
I have not been doing tai chi for a long time, not even three full months yet, but I have been diligent in my daily practice sessions. I practice twice a day, except for Sundays where I only seem to fit in one session. But that is okay, it still works for me.
I don't go to a class, so my form is probably as bad as you could possibly imagine, but I have noticed some things that are different than before I started doing tai chi.
Before I expand, a quick note. I am still struggling with torn ligaments in my left foot which after nearly four weeks, have not healed yet. Due to my work requiring me to walk a lot and climb stairs because the elevator is far away from my office, the healing process is a slow one. A very slow one.
Despite my injury, I have no additional pain during my practice sessions, and take care to ensure proper weight placement on my foot where the form requires it.
On top of all these constraints, I have noticed that my balance is better. I have not had issues in the past, but now there is no struggle, or wiggling, or hopping around when I put on a pair of pants.
The second thing I noticed is my focus during the practice. When my attention drifts for some reason, I get irritated because there is an immediate impact on the form I am busy with. This is also becoming less, while my body seem to remember the moves better when I simply relax and let my hands and feet do their thing. Not an empty mind, but a mind that is relaxing into the moment as the movements flow from the one to the other.
I still have a long way to go with the current course, and already I am thinking of sending the company an email requesting another course to take the practice of tai chi to the next level.

Which course am I doing? I will let the cat out of the bag very soon.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Tai chi confession: I skipped a class...

I have been so happy with my progress on my tai chi lessons, it is hard to believe that I still am doing this, and all on my own.
I watched the video clip on lesson seven yesterday and was quite happy with myself after practicing it a few times with and without the teacher. Then a few hours later I wondered about one of the movements in the form, and I go...not again.
To make up for this mental mishap, I copied lessons seven to ten to my iPad - with a bit of a struggle, since I am not fluent in iTunes. Nonetheless, I managed to get the clips to the tablet and had a quick peek at the lesson to refresh my memory.
Early this morning, I was playing around with the iPad and activated lesson eight by accident. Or maybe not. It was an extension of lesson seven with an intermediate transition step the only addition in the form I am studying.
What fun. Where I would normally allocate two weeks for each new movement to learn and practice and perform it, now I am doing two lessons. Maybe two weeks will be enough, maybe not.

So the student has skipped a class, lets hope she doesn't fall on her nose in the overeagerness test.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Tai chi - an unplanned surprise

A few days after I fell and tore ligaments in my left foot and ankle, I decided to try doing my tai chi practice. I can just see the surprise on your face. Yeah, I thought I was crazy for trying too.
It has become part of my routine, so I missed my twice daily tai chi sessions. So with careful consideration, my ankle brace properly strapped on, I went for it.
Tai chi is not a routine to be rushed, which I appreciated more than ever at this attempt. Opening stance, opening movement. Check.
Second, third, fourth movements. Check. Okay, it wasn’t that easy, but if I kept my head, there was little to no pain. I made a slight adjustment to my stance, keeping a more upright posture and using a shorter step out (the bow step) to limit bending of my foot even in the forward position.
It doesn’t feel natural, so when my injury is healed, reverting back to the more extended movement, will not be a problem.
Since I feel comfortable with the routine so far, ankle injury notwithstanding, I decided to keep to my schedule and proceed towards studying the sixth movement in the course.
The typical healing period for this type of injury is about 6 to 8 weeks. Unless the subsequent tai chi movements will strain my injury, I will keep to my planning. If there is stress on my ankle, I will keep practicing the routing as I have learnt it up to that point, and delay adding the next movement until my body is ready.
In the meantime I wish you health, harmony and happiness!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

How I added tai chi to an already packed daily routine

From the time I made the decision to learn tai chi, until I started to do the lessons, there had been a few days delay. Not that I wasn’t serious about learning, or practising my lessons, quite the contrary.
I was so committed to doing it that I had to make sure that I could make the time such that  I could continue to do it. Starting some kind of exercise is all good and well, but if you can’t keep on doing it, what would be the point of starting in the first place?
In case you are wondering, it wasn’t a new year’s resolution either. I started in December last year, but figuring out where to fit it into my schedule was not an insignificant headache.
First I made a spreadsheet with hour time intervals for weekdays and weekends. Since I work full time, my workdays are pretty much dominated by the requirements of my employer. Fair enough. So where to put it into a schedule with work, household chores, and writing everyday?
Firstly, I read about the typical time it takes to do a tai chi routine. For competitions the time limit is set at 6 minutes, so for me still a novice at this martial art, I would plan for 15 minutes per session to do the routine as I have learned it, then practice the move of the lesson I am studying at that time, and then repeat the routine as I have learnt it up to that point.
But I decided to do that twice a day.
Getting up earlier would be a normal decision for anyone, because what is 15 minutes? Not in my case. I get out of bed as soon as my husband finishes in the bathroom at 05h10 in the morning, so getting up earlier? Not a chance!
The first 15 minutes I will do in my office, which is a little cramped but I can manage. The second 15 minutes wiggled themselves into my routine before I take a shower in the evening, before my writing time starts. Writing time is non-negotiable in case you were wondering.

Weekends are easier, but the commitment remains, and that is the most important to me. I love the discipline, and one day I might actually be good at it.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Tai Chi Chuan - My First Steps

Source of Image
Of all the physical activities and sports in the world, I ended up choosing tai chi as a means of getting my butt off the chair.

My reasons are simple (to me at least):
  1. I hate exercise, always have, probably always will. It makes you sweaty and creates a lot more laundry. Yeah, I hate that too.
  2. I rather liked playing squash, but my schedule no longer makes that an option.
  3. I am not particularly competitive and not many people like that. I would rather conceded a point, if it prevents me or my partner from getting injured. My squash partner and I got along well on that score, because we played purely for fun.
  4. With tai chi I don't need a partner, nor any specific equipment or facilities, and I can do it when it suits me - 4am, or 11pm. And there is no competitiveness involved, only discipline and practice.
And that was the thing that drew me the most: discipline. I may not be competitive, but what I do I want to do well. It took a long time for me to realise that being competitive and being good at something, is not the same thing. Unfortunately, that is the doctrine we grew up with - you can only be good at something, if you are better than everyone else.
Not in my world, not anymore.
I started tai chi lessons on 15 December, and have made the choice to practice at least twice a day. With the exception of Christmas and New Year's Day (because of other obligations) I have kept to this routine.
One thing about tai chi that threw me, was that it looks easier than it is. It is not difficult, but the movements and coordination of hands, feet and body require more focus than I thought it would.
The discipline I mentioned? Yep, so far it worked for me. My course is the Yang style 24 movement short form, and I have reached movement no 4 - the Bent Knee and Twist Step. For some reason this one is a bit more challenging than the first three. Then again I had to practice a lot on the second and third movements too.

Tai chi is sometimes called moving meditation. While I need to focus right now on getting the movements correct, I can understand why. There is just something in these movements that makes me slow down and think.

BOOK RELEASE: SOLANGE an ebook by Linzé

Will she get the future she wants? M/F/M Erotic vampire romance (18+ only)   Solange knows that she is not like the average woman who...