Yoga not for you? Think about Tai Chi

When I think of Tai chi, I think of elderly Asian folks moving purposefully and gracefully at my local park.  Most of the time like this:

 

Old people Tai Chi Park

and sometimes with pretty props:

Tai Chi in Park

The Chinese characters for Tai Chi (aka T’ai chi ch’uan) are:  太極拳.  These characters translate to “Supreme Ultimate Boxing”.  T’ai chi is thought to have originated sometime in the 16th century. It was originally practiced as a martial art that embodied Yin and Yang along with both Taoist and Confucian philosophical principles.  Today, the study of Tai Chi involves health, meditation, and martial arts.  In the western world, it is practiced more broadly as a fusion of health training and moving meditation.  Not so much martial arts.

Fung Loy Kok Taoist Tai Chi was founded by Master Moy Lin Shin, a monk who was sent to Canada in 1970 to spread the understanding of Taoism and its practices.  Master Moy began modestly, with a handful of students.  He originally taught the traditional Yang-style set of movements but over time, modified the set to  maximize its health benefits.   Fast forward to today, there are 40,000 members scattered in 26 countries actively practicing Master Moy’s version of Tai Chi even though he passed away in 1998.  The organization goes on.   This is a video filmed in the 90s of Master Moy.

 

What does a Retiree Look Like Anyway?

I started this blog a year after I actually retired.  I didn’t really understand this “new-fangled” thing called blogging until recently.   I lived such a sheltered life for so many years and it’s been a journey going from this over-stressed sales professional and working mom

Time too fast Lady running

 

to a more relaxed, easy-going and natural procrastinator who is figuring out what to do next.

Strangely time goes by just as fast when you are relaxed. That is not something that I expected.

Young is a relative thing. People are quite shocked (OK, surprised maybe) that I have retired at 55.  I am considered a young retiree. If you google “retired” you get images like this:Retired seniors 2Retired SeniorsRetired Seniors 3

And while these people sure look happy to have exited the hamster wheel, they are also all seniors; i.e. 65 years and over. In fact, I’ve come to realize that for most people, retired = senior citizen.

When I exited the corporate machine a year ago, I continued to keep busy with many interesting projects.  One of them was trying to understand how to age.  I worked primarily with younger people and didn’t have a lot of interaction with people older than me.  I didn’t know what a  55-year-old looked like?  How should I act?  What do I wear?  Now what?   I’m healthy, energetic and my sensibilities are intact. I’ve never really thought of myself as old.

So this blog is about my experience of learning how to age gracefully:  embracing the inevitable albeit with some reluctance and trepidation.  I am a “juvenile retiree”.

It was 1 year ago today…

I am 55 years old and last year, I was fortunate enough to take an early retirement.   It was not planned, the opportunity was presented to me and I had to make a decision quickly. Within a month, I was free.  Although most people at my company barely got a handshake upon their departure, I got a glowing e-mail announcement and two farewell parties.  I guess they did value me after 28.5 years of blood, sweat and tears.

I was in Sales the past 15 years.  My last role started out fun and interesting but after 4 years, the responsibility and workload had multiplied exponentially.  I had so many people on my back, crazy deadlines, too much work, ridiculous amounts of conflict and constant pressure.  I was ready to explode into a million pieces.

The first Monday morning after I left, I dropped my daughter off at school and stopped at Starbucks.  I lazily sipped a venti latte while watching people and cars whiz by.  And I thanked God that I didn’t have to participate in the rat race anymore.

My last day was exactly one year ago on March 27th.  I haven’t looked back nor have I regretted the decision, not for one second.