Sunday, July 9, 2017

Introspective weekend

Brought about by my coworker quitting and moving out of state, I spent the weekend at home just thinking about my own career & future retirement.  It was too hot to do anything else but sit by the personal fan because I can't turn on the ceiling fan (Mom doesn't like it.)  He moved to pursue his religious passion and to reduce expenses in preparation for his retirement as his health declines. Good personal decisions for him, we're all feeling sorry for his wife who isn't excited about the move.

Like him, I love my job and I would do it as long as I can sit at a computer and wiggle my mouse. But it brought up thoughts about my passions for all my hobbies and interests.  For one thing, other than age, the only other thing that would knock me out of the work force is the need to go on kidney dialysis.  It'll depend on how that medical procedure would suck time or energy from me to continue going to the company to work.

So, if time were freed up today without concern for housing or medical expenses, what would I do with my time?  How wold I spend my day?  For one thing, travel is off the list.  As much as I enjoy it, travel would be a major hassle to work dialysis into a trip.  That would certainly mark the end of my travelling, unless I get a donor kidney.  As it is, I stopped volunteering to travel with Mom about 5 years ago when it got to be too much for her.  The travel bug is still in her heart but her body can't handle it anymore.  She turns into a mindless zombie when she reaches her limit.  Her severe FOMO (fear of missing out) prevents her from admitting when she reaches her limit.

For one thing, I started my "retirement planning" when I was in my 20's.  That's when I started learning tai chi.  I've practically forgotten it all now, but I miss martial arts.  Mom takes up this time I would use for martial arts. But I have everything lined up here to get back in the swing of things when I get the time.  I'll likely never get into any of the other arts that I've done.  I didn't invest alot of mental effort into it  (time yes, effort no) so I basically let the moves sink into muscle memory by rote.  It was never in my heart to stay with those as I aged.  My back and knees made that abundantly clear even back then.

The other "retirement planning" I did was to take art classes.  I could easily slip back into being a sketchaholic.  Right now it's also on the back burner.  I still sketch things occasionally, only to test my skills.  I like what I produce, but the creativity (the next idea) is where I falter.

I've still got my piano, which has been on the back burner longer than everything else.  I'd have to get it tuned, but it's waiting for me to pick up where I left off if I can just get rid of everything on top of and in front of the piano to access it.  I won't take lessons.  I was good at sight reading music at one time.  I can get there again with a little regular practice.  This is a skill I enjoy having but I never understood why I need to be able to play.  It's always had the lowest priority yet it waits for me.

Fitness, would become priority.  I would finally have time to go to the gym with or without Mom.  I was really good about this when I was laid off.  Normally I find this so boring I want to cry, but when I have nothing else to do, it's great for burning off nervous energy.  Of course, this would depend on the energy I have after dialysis.  I would want put priority on tai chi over gym if it came to how I should spend a finite amount of energy.

Then there's the last thing.  I'd actually take my videos to the next level and put them up on YouTube.  I would monetize and become a YouTuber.  I'd probably start with unicycle tours and Tai Chi videos.  I've always had a seed in the back of my head that I wanted to teach Tai Chi for free.  Never had the time, let alone the space.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Another milestone in life

It's almost my birthday again.  Wow, and I'm writing here instead of on LiveJournal.  I was so ready to quit LiveJournal back in January because its been dead for several years.  Then my favorite actor, Alan Rickman died just before his 70th birthday and the Alan Rickman communities lit up again.  Just like me, they were just there for what used to be daily activity on Alan Rickman & Harry Potter fanart & fanfiction communities.  These communities basically died after the last Harry Potter book/movie, and despite the Harry Potter theme parks and latest plays & books there has been no inkling of a resurgence.  And then it's dead again.  So in June I got hooked on YouTube videos, more specifically, the daily (or almost daily) vlogs. 


So here I am.  I have made a few vlogs since June, though I haven't posted it anywhere.  I still want to get back into Tai Chi but between the day job, the side job, taking care of Mom every time she gets sick, vlog editing, and making stuff with the 3D pen, I have figured out I will have to wake up at 4:30am to have time for exercise in any form.


I want an electric bicycle.  My brother's visiting, I've asked him to help me donate my old bike because I don't want to put it in my car and he has a rental.  I can't order it until the old one is out.  There's too much crap in the house.  Speaking of "too much,"  I've got too much paper.  Yea, it was intended for art, but most of it came from Mom's closet.  It's not the kind of paper I would buy for my art.  I wish I could find a women's shelter or kids program who would actually use the art supplies.  I've got alot of student acrylic to donate before it goes bad, too.  I've got the professional lines that I'll keep for the canvases.







Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Gung Hai Fat Choy

That's Happy New Year to the Chinese monkey.  Wow, the year flew by.  I was working a lot in the last half of 2015.  Mom's health seems to mirror the weather.  When it's going to rain, she gets all achy.  It used to just be her knees, now it's her back and shoulders too.  I'm getting physical therapy for my shoulder.  I have better range of motion and it doesn't ache like it used to without a reason.  I was surprised at the progress from the first appointment.  Progress could be better if I did my home exercises.

So we went to a Chinese New Year event at the local library.  Loved the Beijing Opera actors, I never saw Chinese Opera like that before--I mean I've seen Chinese Opera before, but I didn't "get it" like I did this time.  There was also a Tai Chi demonstration from a local group.  Unfortunately they're not close enough to me, and they meet during my work hours.  I'd love to learn that fan form they did.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Just a little progress

Went on vacation this year to the usual place.  My left shoulder has been getting more frozen since before the cataract surgery (Aug 2014) and apparently moving it around, pushing the range and strength is the way to unfreeze it.  Every day for that week in May, I did 18-style.  Great start to getting movement back into that shoulder.  I haven't done it since, but I have been trying to push the movement range every day.  It's helping.  Still hurts, but it's helping. Unfortunately, I haven't done any exercises since.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 Resolution

This blog will be a year old in another month.  I started it while I was burning up vacation time to nurse mom back to health at the timeshare.  It was great progress at first and it got me back into my tai chi head while my side business slowed down.  Then I had cataract surgery, then another to correct the implant.  And after each eye surgery, there's a period where they tell you don't exercise and don't bend over.  I just never got back to exercising, then business picked up again.  There were other home issues that drained my bank account so the side business is helping my financial recovery. 

In 2015, I resolve to practice tai chi every day.  I WILL make time for it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Short Forms

This started out as a digression in the "Single Whip" post after my thought that Second Section makes good demonstration.  It's now on it's own, LOL. 

In my opinion, the development of short forms like Cheng Man Ching’s 37-step Short Form and the all-style Beijing Short Form were originally an attempt to standardize tai chi competition and to market this martial art as “exercise.”  Teachers over the years would dumb down the form to increase retention of beginners and/or reduce the need for space.  When competition came about, there were too many different styles, so the head of "family" styles tried to standardize things.  LOL new style by committee!  Um, no. What better way to lose "style," not to mention the original intent and completeness.  Yeah, I'm a traditionalist.

I’ve never been to a Tai Chi forms competition, they didn’t exist until after I’d left the classes.  From what I’ve seen on YouTube, watching Tai Chi forms competition is as exciting as watching grass grow.  But in Open Competition (meaning you compete against all martial arts styles, not just like styles), Second Section makes good demonstration.  Even done fast, it almost never wins because it’s too different from what the hard styles are doing and also because the judges, who are typically Karate black belts, lack knowledge in soft styles/internal martial arts.  There is the additional need to inform the judges you will be going past the boundary of the ring (on purpose) and ask to let you know if/when you’ve reached your max time limit. 

So why do I keep searching "my" short form?  It's nothing but a personal thing about collecting complete sets. While I was learning short form, I wasn't actively trying to learn it.  I just followed along to let this one get absorbed by osmosis  rote.  I'm not kicking myself over it, at the time it was as much as I could absorb while I was actively learning other styles.  It is what it is.  I am hopeful that one day I'll be able to visit Texas & record the form.  At the very least, I have the rest of my life to figure it out.

Single Whip

To help memorize the long form, I was taught to use Single Whip to further divide the form into smaller learning sets.
 
First Section only has one Single Whip posture.  Easy, peasy.  First Section was meant to be easy.  It’s almost like warm up before you get hot and heavy into the form.  If you are short on time or just starting or with other issues (like balance or stamina), you were meant to work on First Section.  You do need “walking space.”  If the stances are done properly, you will end up several steps (maybe four?) to the left, and almost two steps forward, from where you started. 
 
In Second section, Diagonal Single Whip is not directed to 9:00.  Until the 2nd Single Whip posture, it’s almost the same as First Section.  The only new addition is the Repulse the Monkey series.  The Single Whips bookend the Cloud Hands series and continues to High Pat on Horse (aka Pat the Horse’s Head).  From there, start the kicks.  The second part of the Second Section is all about kicks and balance (on one leg.)  I’d say this is the start of “the next level,” and I think the meat of the form.  This is also where beginners tend to drop out. The end of second section is where we were at the end of the beginner class.
 
In my memory, Mr. Ho always said “there are 7 Single Whips.”  That’s the part that sticks with me, but I’m counting lots more in the form and only 6 that face 9:00 in Third Section.  In order to match his statement, that means I must include Diagonal Single Whip and restrict its application to Third Section.  This section is repetitive and just about doubles the length of First & Second Sections together.
·         Between #1 and #2 Single Whip, is Split Horse’s Main four times.
·         Between #2 and #3 Single Whip, is Four Corners (aka Fair Lady Weaves Shuttles)
·         Between #3 and #4 is Cloud Hands.
·         Between #4 and #5 is almost a repeat of Second Section after Repulse the Monkey until you reach the end of the third Cloud Hands set of the form. 
·         That puts you at #6 Single Whip, which is nearly the end of the form.  Until this point, a new movement was introduced, then repeated later.  From #6 to the end, it’s all unique.  This can be further divided into subsets to learn #6 to #7 Single Whips, and #7 to Closing.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Stamina

There are different kinds of stamina. I’ve never had stamina of any kind, so who am I to talk? I have had times in my life when my fitness peaked and stamina was better, but I can’t say I ever had the mental ability to keep going past the physical pain and burning in the muscles. If I was going to continue for any length of time, that was always something I had to work up to. Then diabetes made my body stop automatically regulating energy & fuel, like a control system oscillating out of control. That went to “manual control.” When the blood sugar hits bottom, it’s like hitting “the wall” in marathon running, worse maybe because it’s not as easy as prepping with a carb load (which makes the blood sugar spike and consequent drop that much more steep.) Now the thyroid is losing its ability to regulate--whatever it regulates—it affects energy level, too. Getting old and gaining weight isn’t helping and a recent change in blood pressure meds make my heart race.  Iron deficiency & Yin deficiency on top of that...it’s anything but mental, I tell ya!

The first kind of stamina that comes to mind is like a marathon runner or long distance swimmer. I liken this to Judo stamina. OMG, these guys are like Energizer Bunnies. Even the fat, old experienced judoka keep going strong with all their muscles for the 2 to 6 hours they’re on the mat. Tae Kwon Do & kick boxing is more like sprinter, tennis or basketball stamina. They have bursts of intense exertion over the length of their workout. Whether upper body or lower body, it’s not like judo that works the whole body strength almost evenly at the same time. Oh, but to watch a skilled lightweight against someone tree times his weight & strength—the finesse is beautiful to watch.

Then there’s Tai Chi stamina. I don’t know what sport or style to compare this to, a long hike maybe? Sloth imitation? The tai chi practitioner is always in motion, albeit slow motion, never frozen in one position unless teacher is correcting their posture or they’ve chosen a position for mindful meditation. The stances, the stances, I tell ya! Just like karate or judo, the power is in the stances. The fact that my legs are always sore for two days after I attempt the form is a sign that I’m doing something right at this point in my practice. No pain, no gain.  Don't believe it!  But it was a popular saying in the 70’s from Jane Fonda aerobics videos. I say it depends on the pain. If I had sharp pain in my knee, that is bad pain and means I’m doing something wrong. Oddly my back doesn’t hurt right now, one of the reasons I returned to tai chi practice. It’s just in the leg muscles. That’s good pain.

Even in the 10-12 years I practiced at UTA, I don't think I ever actually finished the whole form with the low stances as Mr. Ho or Mr. Deng shows in video. Even at the peaks of my fitness, I could start out strong but I faded in the Third Section. I’d end with “old man” stances, narrow, almost standing upright, smaller gestures. I also used to have a problem with my arms falling down (strength failure) as I tired in Third Section. That’s not happening any more, so either I’m stronger in upper body or I’m not holding extra tension that I used to. I doubt it’s the former. It doesn’t take long to get benefit from Tai Chi just by being on the path, you don’t even have to “be there” yet.  You do have to practice somewhat regularly.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

And again!

I got in another tai chi workout at the gym, that's two for the long weekend!   I wanted to go yesterday but my legs were so sore.  Felt good starting out today but I fatigued before I even got to the long form.  I had Mom do the 18-style with me.  She did as well as expected, I had a chair ready for her to sit but she almost finished. Then I barely got through 1st section, so I took 2nd section in bits.  I'm wondering if the new thyroid med isn't tiring me out quickly.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Finally

Finally got out to the gym and had to floor to myself.  I finally remembered my external speaker.  Egad, I was horrible.  I had mirrors on two sides to check my posture.  My legs were burning so my stance was very shallow.  At this point, I'm just happy to get through 18-style and the long form.  If I could just burn more of the form into my memory, I can work on posture later.

My attempts to the gym earlier this week, I learned I need to get started by 4:30p or it's too late.  The floor gets crowded and a class comes in before 5:30.  I worked legs earlier this week and I was surprisingly strong, this means I have strength but no stamina.