3. The Flow of Qi

Sunday, 21st of August, 2016

There was a knock on the door and in a high voice I urged Cam to answer it. “I am still in my pajamas, can you please get the door! It might be the lady to collect the beds arriving early.” I said, wondering where my phone was to check for a text telling me so.

“Oh it is Helene” Cam said with the slightest tinge of sentimentality. My concern about being in my cotton shortie sleep set evaporated and I went right to the door. “Helene” I exclaimed, embracing her whole heartedly. “I am so glad you came. Nina said you might. Are you on your way to the party?”

I hugged her again and then Cam invited her in off the front landing. There on our threshold stood our neighbor’s 89 year old mother, who had come to bid us farewell. She had sent me a note weeks before with a quote on it, which I can not recall now, but at the time it had landed so perfectly, etching her good intent in my heart. I was not sure if we would see her again, but here she was today, chipper and beautiful, and full of life. Her perfume stayed in my nostrils, but not in an unpleasant way as the biking lady’s smell had days before. There was something subdued and soft about her aroma, and while she had painted her face a little, and her nails were neatly manicured, she had lived a life enough to prove her body and soul had managed and survived her choices.

Our conversation was lively, she knows many facts about us, shared by her daughter but also because she has been visiting our home since we moved in. On many of the days she came to visit her daughter we would have her over for tea, sharing in seasonal festivities. Over time she showed a great interest in our homeschooling journey, with much positive support. I recall one such day I marveled that the world had a way of providing what you need, which for me was a tremendous confidence boost through Helene. Homeschooling was a lot of work at this time in particular I had needed to hear a mature wise women telling me I was raising our children well. Helen was a matriarch, there was something about her, she lead her life with purpose and intent. Her compliments helped me.

So there we stood, having a farewell conversation and before I knew it water had sprung to my eyes. I was sorry to be saying goodbye to her. Some goodbyes really are goodbyes. Helene was off to a 90th birthday, celebrating a friend, but also in part to check out if she might want a 90th birthday party herself? “Well of course you should have a party!” I said enthusiastically. Ninety is very special!” Helene smiled and tapped her chest, “Well, I am going to be around for longer.” She said affirmatively, like she might have her sights set on reaching 100.

“You made a dent here,” she repeatedly enforced, “We will miss you.” she said sincerely.

We genuinely would miss one another. Life has been good at no. 10. Some wonderful people entered our lives in this place. With the door closed behind Helene, I dressed and ate. Then for no reason other than I am someone who likes to squeeze every last drop out of life, I ran down the stairs and bare feet across our neighbor’s lawn. Their grass was soft and wet from watering and I bounded with a spring in my step to the door. My neighbor answered and in my unique way I said, “I just said goodbye to Helene, but I am wondering if I can hang out with her a little more?” My neighbor looked at her watch and said they had 20 minutes before they had to leave and that she would send her mother out.

I went back in the house and grabbed a comfortable chair for her to sit on in the shade. I swept the path clear of acorns so it was safer for her to walk. When she arrived she took a seat and with very little prompting, because she is cut from the same cloth as I, Helene began telling me the secrets to her long life. I had a pencil in hand, taking notes.

“Attitude” She declared. “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” She said with confidence. I nodded. thinking of all the times I have made mountains out of mole hills. “That that is good advice.” I mused.

“I stay very active.” She said, adding to her longevity recipe. “I ride my bike, and look at the scenery, and notice the trees and shrubs that have grown. My friends have given up riding, but I still ride. Always with a helmet and away from traffic.” She said with intelligence.

Helene’s love of details was not lost on me, and I found it helpful as I scrawled with my pencil onto paper that she repeated herself a little. I have all the patience in the world for the elderly. Her stories were cathartic. I wanted to give her opportunity to share, and I wanted to be inspired. It was unlikely that I would be riding a bike at 89, she had managed to impress me too.

“When I was younger, I exercised a lot, playing tennis, swimming. I still swim. I teach a class at the Multiple Sclerosis Society.” She said, letting me know of her community involvement. I commended her on her fitness, she really was in great shape.

“Well, I had to take care of myself. I always wanted my children to have a sense of freedom, for them to be free of worrying about me. If I do not take care of myself, the responsibility would fall onto them.” She said with sincerity. I knew Helene valued her independence highly, she still drove her car from Long Island, New York out to Montclair, New Jersey regularly. Her answer was genuine.

Over and over her words rang true, absolutely true. “It is really a question of identifying where I want to put my energy.” She said in response to something I had asked. I laughed, because here she was at almost 90, saying the exact same thing I tell myself. “Well, yes, all through life it is like that isn’t it?” I said “If we all consciously decide the best place to put our energy, well gosh, that is what shapes a better world!” I said excitedly. It is so easy to sum up the answer to life when you are sitting and having a delightful conversation with your neighbor’s 89-year-old mother.

As we were in the midst of interviewing a package arrive and I hollered out to the girls to come and open it, knowing it held their new lunch boxes. “Oh those are lovely.” Helene complimented when she saw the useful stainless steel Lunch Bots containers. “I hate plastic.” She said decisively. I smiled at the way in which she freely shared her opinions.

I knew our time together was running out, I had wanted to ask her a little about her career. I could see her daughter walking over and just as Nina arrived we were discussing gender orientation. Helene had spent her life working in Health and Nutrition Sciences, specializing in Physiology and Human Sexuality. Her main focus was gender orientation. “Oh you should have seen how hard I had to work in the 40’s” she quipped. “Now boys and girls can both do anything.” she said as one would with a deep connection to the theme. I felt some reward in seeing Helene’s satisfaction for witnessing positive change. “We must not ever forget the future is exciting.” I said, “Thank you for reminding me.”

The second goodbye to Helene was easier, and with her gone once again I went about my day. The mantra of self-care was on repeat. Just like that, I knew I needed to adjust my attitude, stop sweating the small stuff, and exercise more. For five minutes I sat in peace, with my answers, feeling zen. Health and Wellness is everything. I have to take care of me. After a moment stillness it was playing on my mind that when my period arrived, the blood was more clotted than usual. Secondly, the flow was not as consistent, which is why I had thought I had finished bleeding, then a few hours later at the restaurant it came back. Normally, it is a consistent, medium flow. These two things were a sign from my body. Thank goodness I know to look and pay attention.

Chinese medicine is my preference for fertility and menstruation wellness. I am not sure why, but that is where I am drawn to specifically for women’s health. We had a Chinese  Dr as a child and when it comes to my reproductive system that is where I feel safest. I do not feel unhealthy, or unwell and for some what I experienced this month would be normal even, but for me and my body, taking note is a preventative measure. So off I went, researching what felt like stagnant Qi.

Here is a snippet for managing women’s wellness I chose for myself from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine.

The Chinese natural remedy suggests avoiding fear, anger and excessive emotions in general. Maintaining an even, free flow of moderate emotions is the same as maintaining an even, free flow of qi and blood. Just prior and during menstruation women should not allow themselves to become fatigued. Not dwell on negative thoughts or frustrations. Avoid eating cold and raw foods prior to or during their periods. Avoid sex during their period as this reverses the flow of qi and blood from down and out to up and in and tends to cause the formation of blood stasis.

Stress reduction, changing jobs, seeking counseling for relationship problems, changing residence, taking more time off, relinquishing unrealistic goals and expectations, and just in general adopting a slower, more open attitude no matter what we are doing can help us with balance. We need to teach ourselves consciously and deliberately to relax. Done daily, at least twenty continuous minutes, can benefit our overall health.

Chinese medicine believes that a certain amount of physical exercise is necessary to maintain one’s health and prevent disease. Exercise speeds up a sluggish metabolism and increases production of qi and blood. Aerobic exercise from twenty to thirty minutes every other day increases circulation and body temperature, and aids digestion, appetite, mood, energy and sleep. Exercise greatly reduces the severity of any endometriosis symptom or symptom associated with stagnant qi and blood stasis.

This is the magic of life you know, when affirmations parallel. The pieces all fit, it all makes sense.

The rest of the day was spent doing chores, but I was more relaxed doing them. I had adjusted my attitude.

Cam found me in the basement at one point to tell me he wanted to syphon the gas out of the generator so we could transport it north. We both agreed taking the generator with us might be smart given we are wintering in Maine. “Well, you will need a hose, we have this.” I said, digging out a small length of hose I had saved. I then began explaining to Cam how to syphon gas. Cam very politely let me finish explaining. I think he liked hearing that I could do it. It was only when we were actually doing it that he said, “Friends used to do this all this time, stealing petrol from neighbors cars.” Of course I shrieked. “What! So naughty.” I said laughing. “No-one had any money.” My husband moved with a band of Northern Beaches grommets in his youth and I dated boys just the same, I knew, oh yes, I knew. “Our girls will not ever have to steal.” I said seriously, knowing we parent differently than we were raised.

As is the way with happiness, it can arrive at any moment. There we were syphoning petrol out of the generator and I was overcome with my amazing life. Petrol, gasoline, diesel, always give way to my childhood memories and bring me home. My family were such hard workers and working together makes me happy. Hands were greasy, petrol fumes in the air. Working on farm machinery or cars or generators. That mix of soil and oil, it gets me every time. “I love when we work together.” I said to Cam feeling my inner farmer calling. “I love when we are co-operating physically.” I added. My imagination transported us to a day when we build our house at Coolgardie. Should that day come, my body and soul will be home, truly home.

While Cam and I continued working, I set Elle up with the job of washing all of our bikes. With the bucket and sponge, she dedicated herself to making our bikes shine. Once agin I was reminded of my family. The number of hours I spent scrubbing mag wheels as a child is significant. My uncle would inspect my work, I would measure my detailing against his, and keep scrubbing. I realized today, how well they occupied me. I was a diligent little worker doing all sorts of jobs, all the time.

Elle graduated to riding Maya’s bike today, and now Maya is without a bike. They are growing.

Cam spent the late afternoon watching the surfing. “We are moving to Tahiti now!” he says. Cam love surfing.

Maya helped with the laundry. Truly she helped today.

I made Dana Luna’s corn tortillas with avocado for Maya. Her favorite meal.

The lady never turned up to collect the beds. I texted her, but no reply. As I stood at the kitchen sink washing the dishes my inner chatter was rattling around. “How rude!” Then quickly I stopped. “Don’t sweat the small stuff Kirsten.” With a big exhale, I knew, yes, reacting to all that small stuff  is very draining. You just have to say, “Everything is going to be alright” and stay light.

Thank you for Reading Magnesium Blue.

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