When Rich and I left Rod and Trish, we headed east out of Missouri towards St. Louis. Rich wanted us to see the “Archway to the West” and as we rode I-64 I was able to get some decent shots of the archway and the St. Louis skyline. Then we crossed the state border into Illinois going almost halfway across to spend the night in Mount Vernon. We attended Mass in the lovely church of St. Mary’s on Saturday 27 August which left us free to have a small lie-in on the Sunday before making tracks for Louisville, KY and Richard’s family.
Like most of the days on this trip, God blessed us with perfect weather for riding as we finished crossing the state of Illinois, clipped the bottom of Indiana, and rode into the blue grass state of Kentucky. I could feel Richard’s excitement mounting as we rode closer to “home”. The plan was to head to his sister Rose’s home, unpack the bike, then head over to the Kentucky State Fair with Rose, her husband Ronnie, and their kids, Megan and Kalin, to meet up with another sister, Robin, and her daughter, Brittany, and his brother, Robert and his wife, Sylvie, and their son, Patrick. Wow, what a reunion!! I had not seen some of these folks since Thanksgiving 2004!
We spent several fun hours at the fair. I found some great HOT dip mixes and some wonderfully decadent fudge, while Richard ate a Krispy Kreme hamburger?????? (yes, that was a hamburger between two doughnuts!!), and later he could not resist trying some “fried Koolaid”. While some of the others went to a concert they had booked to see, Rich and I strolled around the rides for a while. We had fun tempting the “guess your age” guy who made my day and gave me a “prize” after guessing me to be 15 years younger than I am. Whether he was being truthful or gallant in his guessing I’m not sure, but I was happy. Then the tiredness of the ride hit in and we headed home to get a good night’s rest. We needed to get our beauty sleep because the next day we were putting on a Bar-b-q for the family and even more people were coming.
So on Monday we went shopping then got busy cooking and preparing food. By 4pm yet another sister, Rhonda, arrived with her daughter, Ginny, followed shortly afterward by Rich’s step-Mom Ruth, his step-brother Ryan and his step-sister Rachel and her husband Michael with his son in tow. The crowd was rounded out when Robin got there with her son Dustin, and finally we were able to tuck into all that good food. A little later, as we rested full tummies, Kalin took Dustin and they went to pick up Brittany and her girlfriend who had been attending a school sport meet-up. By that time we were ready for some dessert and enjoyed some wonderful concoction that Sylvie had made.
Our final day in Louisville, Rich went to get his (final?? who knows) tattoo in honor of his retirement. Of his eight tattoos, Lucky in Louisville has created 5 of them. This one he actually created around a small existing one of a dolphin that Rich had done in Washington, DC some years ago. Lucky extended the water/wave line under the dolphin , then added the letters USN over the top of everything with a sunrise and the year Rich entered the Navy at one end, and a sunset with his retirement year at the other. It’s really beautiful.
That evening we hooked up with Rose and Ronnie and the kids, Robin, and Richard’s old school friend and partner-in-crime, Fonda with his wife Sherry. We had a great meal and wonderful socializing at a very good Mexican restaurant, where we all ate a bit too much because the food was great!.
Next day, Wednesday 31 August, it was time to load up our faithful Harley, say our farewells, and hit the road again as we headed towards North Carolina. It had been a good visit with family and hopefully it won’t be so long before we see each other again.
This is another catch-up which I referred to in my posting Freedom- Also a Loss. I had my Qigong experience in Orlando back at the end of April this year. I read Natural Awakenings, a free monthly newspaper that is mainly geared to health and alternative health practices and modalities. For three years I had seen the advertisement for the Qi-Revolution event in Orlando in this newspaper and my curiosity was peaked. But each year by the time I got around to checking into it, I already had another commitment.
So this year, or rather last year, because the initial advertising came out I believe sometime in October or November of 2010, I made sure I put it in my planner at first sighting. Shortly after that I completed my registration and I was set to discover what this “energy event” was all about. Because I saw the word “Qi” (which is pronounced “chi”), I had an idea that it was something akin to Tai Chi with which I am familiar. However, nothing prepared me for the 4-day experience that I had with Qigong.
The event was held in one of the huge conference rooms at the Orlando Convention Center. When I entered the room on the first day I remember my first feeling: overwhelmed. There were more than two thousand people present for this event and I didn’t know a single person. The energy level was high and I was aware of a sense of anticipation buzzing around the room. The second feeling was an old enemy re-presenting itself: a feeling of “less than”. Old toxic thought processes began to invade my mind.
“You shouldn’t have come here Margo, you’ll probably not be any good at it.” “Most of these people are younger than you, what were you thinking of?” “You’re going to make a fool of yourself in front of all these people.” “How do you expect to keep up with everyone especially with the pain in your hip?” And many other forms of “You’re no good”, “You’re not good enough” etc, and some other self-sabotaging phrases. You get the picture.
After taking some deep breathes and centering in on my God, I was able to clear my mind and fill it with some positive affirmations. Only then could I allow myself to feel the excitement and anticipation that was like an electric current all around me. Only then did I really look around and notice that at least one third of the people there were over fifty, and quite a few were over sixty,and the really “young ‘uns” were a minority. I smiled as I watched the negative thoughts scurry out of my head.
Within two hours and after some great stretching exercises, we were all, yes all, more than two thousand of us, going through the first Qigong form. I had no idea that it would be take about an hour to do this, and I am so glad I didn’t. I think I might have panicked and run away. But what was so amazingly awesome was that I was able to keep up, stay focused, and complete the whole form. On top of that, what was wonderfully boosting for my self esteem was that younger people were needing to take a break half way through.
I am not sure that I can explain exactly what Qigong is, but I will attempt to do so. Please be aware that this is my own subjective explanation. Qigong is the practice of aligning breath, movement, and awareness for the purpose of exercise, healing, and meditation. But it is so much more than that. Through the use of slow, controlled, focused movement the practitioner is brought to an awareness of the natural flow of energy that constantly surrounds us and that we have in us. Through the practice of qigong it is possible to “harness” or “increase” this level of energy, bringing more into the body and sharing it out with the world. It is what I refer to as the God energy. I found the whole experience to be very spiritual.
I do know that I felt a tremendous “high” after that first session. My body, despite some fairly severe pain in my left hip, felt alive and as though I could do almost anything. I was very mentally alert and was aware of a sense of joy and lightheartedness. It was as though in some way I had accessed a deeper part of me, or perhaps I had learned a different way to access my soul. And by the way, no longer did I feel like a stranger in a crowd. I felt like I belonged.
On the second day we did more Qigong and also learned a form of energy breathing. If you want a serious natural high, then energy breathing is the answer. This is something that I will not attempt to explain here because I don’t think I could do it justice. You’ll just have to check out www.qigong.com and see if there is an event near you and try it.
The other major component to this 4-day event was the approach to food healing. Much of this I had heard before but in bits and pieces. Jeff Primack, who is the driving force behind “Supreme Science Qigong” and the leader and main presenter of the 4-day Qi-revolution event, has taken all those “bits and pieces” and presents them as one whole healing source. It felt as though someone finally gave me the key to the lock and showed me how to turn it.
I have been working diligently on my approach to food for many years, but since this event it has been easier to bring things into place within my daily diet. I am sixty seven years young, with just as many years of bad habits about food, plus I am a slow learner. There are times when I can really follow true healthy eating, and there are other times when I just muddle along as best I can. But somehow, since my Qigong experience, I manage to come back to the full healthy approach. I am just so very grateful for this experience that has taught me to incorporate some very specific things on a daily basis into my nutrition plan today. Thanks to that I am almost totally free of arthritic pain. My energy levels are so much higher and my body feels healthier in general.
I have just read through this posting and I realize that I have given a very poor “nutshell” idea of what my Qigong experience was about. I guess it is something that you have to experience personally to have a full or better understanding of it rather than just reading words. Much as I love my words, I am very conscious of the fact that sometimes they simply do not do justice to an event or situation. This is one of those times. Please check out Qigong for yourselves. It really is quite amazing and will probably change your life forever.
In my previous posting, God’s Creation: Minnesota, I shared the wonderful experience Rich and I had at our friends’ house. However, we didn’t stay at home all the time we were there, even though it was difficult to leave that place so filled with the joy of nature. We actually played the tourists for a couple of days and visited some very interesting places.
I was told that everyone who comes to that particular area of Minnesota needs to visit the small town of Nisswa. Actually, Nisswa is about the size of an overgrown village. It is very quaint and is filled with wonderful little shops (yes, I did some shopping!). I love places like Nisswa because I’m never quite sure what exciting little treasure I may find. For someone like me who has very unique antenna up throughout the year, Nisswa is rather like Aladdin’s Cave.
When I talk about my “unique antenna”, I’m referring to that constant awareness of the people in my life and what might make them happy. When I’m out and about I have my bloodhound nose ready to sniff out gifts that will please my friends and family members on their birthdays or at Christmas. And Nisswa did not disappoint. I could have dipped into my wallet several more times than I did, but all the time I had to keep in mind that we were travelling on our Harley and there was limited space, even though Sherry and Greg offered to bring things back for us when they trucked back to Jacksonville in October.
Another day we drove out to visit Itasca State Park which is absolutely gorgeous. The Park boasts pristine wilderness at its best surrounding the largest lake, Lake Itasca, and many other smaller lakes. Did you know that Minnesota is known as the State of 10,000 lakes? We took our time driving through the Park, stopping at several lookout points such as Preachers Grove, that overlook the lakes. Our main goal at the Park was to go to the Headwaters of the Mississippi River. I was totally mind-boggled that this mighty river has its source almost in Canada and runs the full length of the USA before emptying itself into the Gulf of Mexico in Florida.
Before taking the path to the Headwaters, we stopped at the Visitor Center, which I think is one of the best and most interesting of such centers that I have visited, to learn a little more about the Park. I thoroughly recommend that you visit http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/itasca/index.html where you will find a wealth of interesting information, photos, and history of Itasca State Park, including the story of Mary Gibbs who was a feisty woman who risked her life to protect Itasca Park against the logging industry at that time.
I’m sure that Minnesota boasts many other beautiful areas. It is such a lush, green State and the presence of so many lakes, large and small, makes for the presence of plentiful wildlife and many interesting and beautiful places. I know it’s definitely a place that I’d like to visit again and if you enjoy the magnificence of God’s creation in nature you will surely enjoy it.