It was the end of October last year, I was going in for not just my 7th spinal surgery, but my 3rd in the last three years. Interestingly, people always ask me, “what did I do?” as though I abused my body or did something to deserve these issues. Explaining to people that this is a disease doctors found when I was 14 is something difficult for many to understand. Instead of thinking what did I do to have these issues, I look at it as how have I remained as functional as I have WITH these issues.
While I have tried to have a fighting spirit and put my stubbornness (as Jessica will call it, I think of it as determination;) to good use, this last time I was done! There was nothing specifically different with the last surgery, but the overall impact was unique. A lot of people don’t know that surgery is exhausting, both physically and mentally. The more you have, the more that exhaustion catches up with you.
I was definitely on the empty level of my willingness to be strong and determined. The impact had left me drained, I was so “done” that Jessica and I had several discussions about me actually retiring. My focus, my passion, my excitement for doing anything now became a struggle in every way. Fortunately, I do come from a family of fighters and thought of my stepmom Renae, who battled stage 4 breast cancer for 8 years.
So, I took what I had left and started looking for solutions. One thing that kept popping up both for physical and mental therapy was Tai Chi. When I was VERY young (around 6 or so) my older brother and I took karate classes. I was so uncoordinated and unfit that I didn’t last very long at all. While I have always appreciated the martial arts, I never thought it would be something that I would get into again. Forget the idea of using it as a means to rehab me both physically and mentally (I keep having to mention both because the emotional and mental side often gets ignored in our health care system).
Audio Interview With Master Chen HERE
Curious to why Tai Chi kept popping up in all these articles I decided to learn more and was really intrigued by a book “The Harvard Medical School Guide To Tai Chi”. This book I found very interesting because it provided both the philosophy of Tai Chi, but TONS of research and a science based backing of an art that has been around for literally a few thousand years. That book gave me the inspiration to give Tai Chi a try.
My tolerance for anything physical was very low. My DVRT workouts were VERY short (like 10-15 minutes) and I would find myself spent! So, when it came to looking to learn Tai Chi I really had NO CLUE to what I was looking for in someone to learn from. Tai Chi classes weren’t really accessible near where we live and I was hesitant that an instructor would be able to deal with someone like myself. That led me to the online world and that can be JUST as, if not more so, confusing to who to learn from.
I did find a program that began with very foundational and short Tai Chi sessions. Those allowed me to start to learn and practice to see if Tai Chi was something I would enjoy. To be honest, I was shocked at how much I began to enjoy Tai Chi. It was becoming the best part of my day, I would go into it feeling distracted and tired, but afterwards feet energized and more focused. Best of all, I was finding that my pain seemed to be easier to deal with.
That started my passion to wanting to learn and know more about Tai Chi. I am far from the first to know about Tai Chi, but why wasn’t it something pretty standard in our world of functional fitness? So many aspects of Tai Chi just make so much sense!
Then I came upon International Grand Champion in Tai Chi, Master JianFeng Chen. Knowing how great of an athlete Master Chen was himself, I didn’t know if his program was something I was going to be able to keep up with. After all, many times great athletes don’t make the best coaches because it is hard to transfer their knowledge to others who aren’t as gifted. Fortunately, I quickly discovered that was NOT the case at all! Master Chen’s program was thoughtfully organized, very progressive in the manner in which he teaches, and makes it all very accessible with purpose all at once. I found the way he taught very similar to our thought process of teaching DVRT.
You can ask Jessica, I’ve become a bit obsessed with using Master Chen’s Tai Chi because while it has not cured my disease, it has helped me so greatly. While I have major nerve damage in my legs and arms, I’m able to move in ways I thought might only be in the past. The training has not only helped me in so many physical ways, but it has helped me so greatly mentally as well. It has reinvigorated my love of teaching and learning as well as wanting to share with others a type of training that has so many applications for our lives nowadays.
Most of all, recently I heard a well respected colleague speak about Tai Chi. It didn’t seem consistent with anything that I knew of the martial art. So, I reached out to Master Chen because I wanted a true expert to introduce our world to what Tai Chi could offer and realize how much depth there is and the benefits that can be achieved.
I wanted to give you this background because I know this is quite the departure for us, but for good reason. I hope you will watch/listen the interview that I did with Master Chen and check out his amazing resources. This is NOT an affiliate program, I want NOTHING for sharing this information other than sharing with our DVRT community someone like Master Chen. Why? Because I know what it is like to feel like you have ran out of options and want to provide something that can be such a big help in their lives!
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