Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mongolian Treats

Greetings Friends!!!

My time in Inner Mongolia has been so rich and fulfilling as well. Have some of you been here? (I know my dear friend Robert Xie has – as he’s from here – we actually came here on a trip together in 1999 – but not to Chifeng – we were in a different city). As I mentioned in my last update, being in fresh air, seeing blue skies and the sunshine has been such a wonderful pleasure!! And I just love being with Claire and Jergetu – Even though I’ve just met Jergetu, I feel like we’ve been friends for many years – seeing him and Claire together also seems so natural. Those of you who know Claire, know she is a master qigong teacher and healer, a wonderful cook, a great dancer and beloved friend to many. Well Jergetu is also an awesome cook, fun dancer, beloved friend to MANY, and a natural healer. Growing up he was only exposed to Mengyi – Mongolian medicine – herbs and acupressure and various other techniques. – Jergetu’s teacher whom I met explained to me that Chinese medicine is really a combination of 4 medicines – Mongolian, Tibetan, Han, and …oh dear…I choose to remember the 4th!! Anyway, Jergetu has had a keen interest in medicine and herbs since a young boy, and has been studying with this Mongolian teacher for over a year – and he is so talented!! I received a treatment from him as well and he and Claire often treat each other for various small ailments that come up in daily life. (And one day, I remember coming into Jergetu’s study room to see he had just given himself acupuncture in his head – 2 points – feng chi – for a headache he had! :) It’s so neat to see them daily using this medicine – whereas to many Americans it’s only something someone uses if they go see a licensed Chinese doctor, or have studied many years at a school themselves.

Mongolian Treats!

Jergetu has a big family – several older brothers and a younger brother and may have sisters – I don’t remember at the moment – and he grew up in the Mongolian grasslands. Many of his family members still live there (about 300 km away from the city of Chifeng where he and Claire currently live) and when they come to visit, they often bring Jergetu and Claire many wonderful homemade treats (foods many Mongolians grow up and strong with) such as….'nai doufu' --milk tofu – oh this is sooooo yummy!!! I actually bought 2 long slices and hope it makes it through customs. It’s Mongolian milk that’s then dried into large ‘bricks’ – one small piece of this ‘nai doufu’ – milk tofu is the equivalent to drinking 6-7 cups of milk – so ‘yingyang hen da’ – it’s full of nutrition! – Each morning I had some nai dofu with Claire and Jergedu – along with their ‘chao mi’ – fresh roasted millet kernels, ‘zhengke’- oh this is sooooooo delicious too!! It’s some sort of white creamy substance – kind of like whipped butter that we mix with the roasted millet, and also put in our delicious milk tea – which by the way, is a breakfast staple. And then we’d also eat ‘nai pi’ milk skin. For those of you who eat a lot of Chinese food, it’s a bit like ‘dou pi’ – tofu skin….but different :). It’s also a little sweet, but naturally so – no sugar is added. I just love how simple, natural, delicious and healthy the food is!!!

We also ate a lot of meat as the Mongolian diet is rich in milk and its various products, as well as rich in lamb and beef. Yet again, as Jergetu also told me, which Claire said he had told her many times when she first came to Inner Mongolia, “Chi. Chi ba. Chi zhege bu hui pang, zhi hui zhuang.’ “Eat, eat. By eating this you won’t get fat, just strong!” :) Claire and Jergetu both laughed as I obviously took so much delight in each new food I was trying. They also explained how these foods are one of the reasons Mongolians are so strong and were such great, fierce and victorious warriors (such as Ganggus Kang) Many of these foods were, and are still, easy and light to pack in ones sack and provide such great amounts of energy for long foot journeys. I wish they were available in the States for my backpacking and hiking trips!!

Mongolian Yogurt!!! YUM!

And….l must remember to tell you about one of my favorite items (of which I mentioned enjoying several times in my other updates) – that’s ‘suan nai’ – yogurt!!! Yet, this yogurt here is sooooooo natural and delicious – it’s really a fresh kefir and I LOVE IT! It’s strong in its natural flavor, and is even a bit fizzy. Oh yum yum! This is also something Jergetu’s family brings to him in little clay bottles when they visit. If Claire and Jergetu are about to run out before another family visit, Claire just buys some milk, puts it in a clay bottle, adds a spoonful of this kefir, waits a day and….voila! They have another bottle of yummy fizzy deliciousness! (I included a pic of one of the bottles below) I got to recognize these bottles as ‘yogurt bottles’ and one day when we were at a restaurant with Jergetu and his MANY great friends, a server brought one of these small clay bottles to the table. I immediately joyfully exclaimed, “Oh suan nai!” “Oh yogurt!” only to have several people laugh and Claire explain that these are bottles of hard liquor. Jergetu’s family saves these clay bottles and puts yogurt in them….but the bottles themselves are originally for ‘baijiu’ – whiskey and vodka and such :)

Another great thing about ‘suan nai’ – yogurt that came in handy many times in my visit, is that drinking yogurt ‘hui bangzhu xiaohua’ – helps with digestion. :) And since it seemed in my visit that we did a lot of…eating, practicing qigong, eating, taking a nap, meeting friends and eating some more, practice a bit more qigong, ‘guang jie’ – walk the streets and shop and then eat, go to the market to buy some foods….and eat, and sleep, and then ….yes, have some more food….the fact that suan nai helps digest food came in handy many times :) For example, one day (this was the day after we went dancing) I woke up earlier , had breakfast and went to the internet café to email you all while Claire and Jergetu slept in a bit more. Well I was hungry when I got back and ate a yummy, rather big lunch. Then, as the 3 of us were about to practice YiJinJing – a form of gongfu—together, Jergetu announced we’d have a shorter session as we were about to leave to meet his friends to….yes, you guessed it….eat! :) Oh dear!!! I exclaimed, “Aiyo! Wo gan chi bao le! Ni weishenme mei you gaosu wo women hen kuai jiu yao qu chi fan ne?” “Oh dear! I’m already full as I just ate so much food! Why didn’t you tell me we were about to eat?” I felt disappointed because I love the food and do my best to make sure I have an appetite whenever I know we’ll be eating as there is just such an abundance of new and yummy foods to enjoy! Both Jergetu and Claire smiled and laughed and said, “Meiguanxi! Lian lian gong, he yidian suan ni, jiu hao le. Ni hen kuai jiu hui hen e!” “No worries! Practice some qigong, drink some yogurt and you’ll be hungry again in no time!” And…guess what?! It’s true! I did just that and I was actually hungry…..and as another surprise to me, I was hungry again when we came home from the restaurant and proceeded to eat a bowl of rice (oh yes and this rice is also grown by Jergetu’s family!! I usually don’t eat white rice in the States, but this rice is sooo delicious! You can taste the freshness of the open grassland air….and the love and care with which his family grows and harvests this rice with) and a plate of sheep ‘innerds’ – lung, liver, stomach, intestines – I know to some of you it may not sound delicious….BUT (if you eat meat) if you tasted the way Jergetu sautees it up with some vinegar, garlic, salt, oil and onions…oh it is great! That day, even Jergetu, who is almost always hungry, was surprised to see me eating again so soon! :)

And I just love the simple lifestyle Claire and Jergetu have together. They have a very modest Chinese apartment made with concrete (as trees are sparse in the grasslands) -- no refrigerator, 3 simple rooms, a small kitchen with an electric hot plate stove (amazing the delicious food that can be cooked with this!!!) with a sink that Jergetu hung up with some wire on the faucet pipe, a simple toilet that we use water from the kitchen sink to flush with (the water drains from the sink directly into a bucket that then we transfer to the ‘flush bucket’ in the bathroom – this is so environmentally friendly! Great way to re-use our ‘gray water’)….and it all works delightfully!!! I love being with them and living in their home. Simplicity with Great Love is Beautiful. They also have a wonderful little balcony off their room that gets a lot of sunlight and has some lines for drying clothes.

Mongolian Music, Singing, Dancing, Eating - A Most Merry Outing with Friends

One outing I have to share with you all is when we went out to eat with Jergetu’s friends (this is the time I drank some more ‘suan nai’ to help me digest the big lunch I had just eaten). Jergetu is also a great musician…this is another thing that Claire and Jergetu share in common – Claire, before she left the States, had started singing again and also started writing music, writing her own songs. Jergetu is a great singer and very talented musician. He and many of his friends are professional musicians, often performing for groups of tourists who come to the grasslands. (One evening after a delicious homemade dinner, both Claire and Jergetu shared with me the first songs they wrote for and sang for each other – the beginnings of their beautiful romance! – oh it was so touching to hear!! And also funny – as Claire’s second song to Jergetu was no longer ‘momo huhu de’ -- ‘indirect, fuzzy or ‘beating around the bush’ – the first line is….”Ni ai wo ma?” “Do you love me?” – And it’s said with long, extended words! :)) Well, to welcome me to Inner Mongolia, one of Jergetu’s good friends invited a big group of their friends to a restaurant, reserved a separate room for all of us, ordered much good food, and also brought an electric piano, microphone and ma tou qin – the Mongolian string instrument – the instrument that once the Europeans saw and heard it, inspired the birth of violins, fiddles, bangos, etc…. This way they could all perform songs, and share their music and dancing with me – they could give me my own personal taste of authentic, truly amazing and beautiful Mongolian music!!!! WOW!!! Again, I felt and still feel so deeply blessed and so deeply delighted in all the gifts and surprises I’m being presented with!!!

So we had a very ‘renao’ afternoon of eating, drinking (I drank tea but for the ‘fellows’ in the room it’s pretty much a necessity to drink beer or some hard liquor – as this is used in the many ‘ganbei’ – toasts that we make to each other throughout the meal and merriment. Actually, as many of them practiced their English that afternoon, one young man (he’s 22 and is already a Master at the Ma Tou Qin – Mongolian String instrument with many students studying under him and he is truly magnificent!) lifted his glass and with a big smile exclaimed, “Chairs!” Claire and I laughed and explained that, while his pronunciation was oh so close….he actually just said ‘yizi’ (chairs) instead of ‘cheers’ (which is ‘ganbei’ in Chinese) – We all laughed and it became an ongoing joke in our time together.

They are all so funny and so fun to be with!! Another funny thing that happened is that one of their friends arrived late… the fellow that organized this event (Oh dear, I haven’t remembered his name yet….I’ll refer to him as Tian right now…) decided to play a little joke on him. We were on the 2nd floor of a restaurant and could see the roof top of the building across the street through our many windows. Well, Tian called his friend and told him we were meeting on the roof of this other building that was across the street. Because we had such a good view, when his friend arrived, we could all see him going in the building and then, pop – come out on the roof top! Ha!! And then saw him looking, looking, looking around. We all had a good laugh!! Tian then called him on his cell phone (which of course we could see him answering) and we were all still laughing while he explained we were actually all looking at him from the restaurant across the street!! :)

As you can tell, we all had a most fabulous time – I recorded several of Jergetu’s friends performing with my camera’s video function – it gives some of the flavor of it but the sound unfortunately skips and does not anywhere near adequately represent the music. Once I test a program for mailing large media files I can send some of these to you. Tian’s friend (whom he played the trick on) also performed and Tian just loves it when he sings. When I filmed Tian’s friend singing, ½ the time I was filming his friend and ½ the time I was filming Tian’s enthusiastic response to his music!! :)

Public Showers - Another Experience for 'Waiguoren'

Another thing Claire and I did, which is common in many cities, is go take a shower at one of the public shower facilities. A good portion of the older buildings/apartments don’t have hot water or showers, so many people shower at these facilities. Well, it’s one thing to be an object of people’s attention (being a ‘waiguoren’ –foreigner) on the streets, but it’s quite another to be an object of attention in a public shower! I’ve gotten used to the former but certainly not the latter! Claire just advised me to create my own bubble and go about my normal washing business….:)

Well another neat thing about these public showers is that you can pay a bit extra and have someone scrub you down with these special brushes (that take off all the dead skin) and then get this wonderful mixture of clay and grapeseed oil rubbed all over while getting a massage at the same time. This oil cream treatment is so nourishing for one’s skin, makes it extra silky soft and helps keep the moisture in. Claire and I both got this done and came back home shining and squeaky (almost literally!!) clean! :)

A Most Marvelous Dancing Proposal

In my last update I mentioned the fabulous evening of dancing Claire, I, Jergetu and his friends had. One thing I didn’t mention, however, as I found out a bit later, is that while Claire and I were dancing on the stage (after being invited up there), the owner of the dance club came up to Jergetu and asked if Claire and I would be interested in working there. – Basically if we could please come each night, dance, boogie and rock out like we love to on the stage in the early hours to get people going, and then once others started dancing too we could stay or go. WOW! What a fun proposal! :) It was fun to watch as Claire and I so freely danced, how others slowly opened up and started dancing too :)

Back to Beijing

So this trip to China is about to come to a close. I left Inner Mongolia, took the overnight train to Beijing and arrived for one more brilliant sunshine day in the country’s capital. Gosh, Beijing is quite beautiful. – the flowers are blooming now and the vibrant spring leaves are coming out on the trees….and of course the food is still delicious! I found a delightful little hotel for my last night in one of the old ‘hutongs’ – alleyways in the center part of the city. I rented a bicycle, biked down one of the famous alleyways with lots of little shops, many ‘waiguoren’ – foreigners from all over the world, yogurt stands, and delightful little restaurants and cafes (below is a picture of one – it’s taken from the table I sat at while eating my lunch and you can see my bicycle through the door :), went by Kundawell Institute once more to say hi to Mingtang, and….went shopping! :) Claire had told me of 2 long blocks with lots of little shops of clothes and great prices, so I found many wonderful treasurers – including an extra bag to hold them in.

One shop I went into had a very friendly, ‘sturdily built’ man working there. After we chatted a brief bit he asked me, “Zai Meiguo, wo suan pang ma?” “Would I be considered fat in the U.S.?” Well how am I supposed to answer that question politely?!!! Yes – but I didn’t want to say that. Anyway, luckily he went on to explain that he has met several American men who seem rather lean except for the fact that they have very big pot bellies. He, on the other hand, had his ‘extra padding’ well distributed around his whole body with a very round and rosy-cheeked happy face :).

I enjoyed his store as he had some really beautiful clothes in his shop – flowy, whimsical shirts and dresses that I like. There was also a pair of cacky (how do you spell this color anyway? My spell check just comes up with ‘tacky’! but they’re actually cute, not tacky :)) pants that I liked and tried on. Oh they fit! Wow they were long enough! Actually this store manager I think was even more excited than me when I walked out of the dressing room to look in the mirror! He said NOBODY has fit into this pants and he practically gave up on them (that explains why they were hung way up in the corner in the back of the store!) They were too small- fitting and too long-legged for most people. He explained that most people in China who are really thin are rather short and those that are taller are rather ‘pang’ – or a bit fatter. These pants, however, were both slim and very tall which is not a phenomena that happens that often I guess. Well, anyway, because he was soooo excited to find someone who actually fit in these pants, he gave them to me for only ½ price! Oh what fun to shop in China :)

Up in the Air

So I’ve been writing this email over several days and through several places. And now I’m on the plane heading for San Francisco (I’ll be there for a few days before heading back to Seattle), and I’ve had quite another and unexpected adventure! :) Flying on this big plane from Beijing with hundreds of passengers, most of whom are Chinese, we have the most odd situation of having only one flight attendant who speaks Chinese!!! Oh dear! This is a most unfortunate situation for many of my flight-mates and…I must say for all of the flight attendants! The one who does speak Chinese is rather overwhelmed, and those who don’t speak Chinese are overwhelmed in a different way and have fallen into the trap of thinking if they speak just a bit slower and louder, maybe those who only speak Chinese will understand?! Anyway, when the flight attendants handed out the immigration sheets….and um…only had them in …um ….English….....well…as you can imagine we had quite a commotion on board! I, on the other hand, have actually been having fun acting as an interpreter for the flight attendants and my flight-mates. Everyone really all means well….and speaking a common language is really such a big help!

So after most people’s forms were filled out on this flight, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying my two seat mates (we’re seated in rows of 3). They are an older couple from Hunan Province (though with their local accent, they say ‘Funan’ :)) and they’re going to Dallas to see their daughter for 6 months! Oh they are so excited and bubbly! The husband, Shuqing, has been to the States once before (he was a Geology professor and went on a trip to some of the great natural geological sites—such as the Grand Canyon-- in the U.S. years ago). For his wife, Jinhui, this is her first trip! We chatted quite a bit and when our meals came, I’d ask them if they wanted beef or chicken and then promptly tell the flight attendant their choices. They were so excited to have me sitting with them and said I was like their personal ‘angel’ sent to help them! (Well I felt very blessed too!!)

It was funny with Jinhui to see her inspect this first taste of ‘western food.’ In our first meal, among other items they each got a dinner roll wrapped in plastic, along with the plastic ware and a little plastic-sealed serving of butter. Well both Jinhui and her husband chuckled that we have 3 ‘utensils’ with which to eat our food (a fork, knife and spoon) versus the one utensil they use – chopsticks (3 just seemed a bit ‘tai guo fen le' 'over the top/excessive' to them! :)). And Shuqing was also explaining the use of each utensil to his wife.

After the utensil review, Jinhui then picked up the butter package, turned it over several times, and didn’t quite know what to make of it, let alone how this little container was supposed to be opened! I explained that this was ‘nai you’ (butter) and that it was to be eaten with the dinner roll (while the Chinese also have many delicious breads, they don’t usually eat butter with it! So this was all a new experience for Jinhui!!) Oh she was so surprised! And then I showed her how to open, what seemed to be a tamper-proof little plastic container :). It was fun to be able to help Jinhui experience her first such meal – and I just remember and am so grateful to my Taiwanese friends who similarly helped me (when I first went to Taiwan to study abroad in college) get introduced to Chinese food….not to mention learn how to skillfully use chopsticks!!! If you’d like to guess how long a foreigner has been in an Asian country, just see how well they can eat with chopsticks! If they’re only getting a few grains of rice with each bite, you can bet they have just newly arrived! :)

Attached are some pictures – a few more from Inner Mongolia – Claire and Jergetu cooking in their kitchen, a picture of the 'zhengke' and ‘suannai’ –yogurt- bottle, and some pictures of Jergetu’s friends singing. In the picture of Claire and Jergetu sitting down to the delicious dinner they just made you'll see a little note written in Mongolian taped to the locked cabinet. Jergetu wrote that note as a joke -- it says, "Don't Open! There's Gold in here!" It's a joke b/c if there really was a treasure, who would write such a note and put such a puny lock on the door? :) Ha!)

Oh my! I have oh soooooo enjoyed sharing this most magical, fulfilling and blessed journey with you all!!! Thank you so much for enjoying it with me and for all your emails. Thank you Thank you! If you know of others who would enjoy reading of my journeys, please direct them to my blog (thanks to my friend, Rick!!!) at

I’m already dreaming up plans to go back….(oh and I just heard from Nicole (Dr. Zhao’s daughter) that the TV report on my studies in Henan aired this week!! Dr. Zhao, Ayi, Nicole and her family, JunLing and her family, LiZhun and her family all gathered to watch the 1/2 our report together! They said it is just great and the head of the reporting crew is finding a way to send it over the internet to me. I'll forward it on when I figure out how....or have a public viewing in Seattle :))

Thank you! And so much LOVE to you all!! Dr. Zhao, his family and my friends all know of you too – what a most beautiful exchange this has all been indeed.

I am Grateful. I am Blessed. And I thank you for ‘traveling’ with me and for you, your love, support and JOY.

Much Great LOVE,


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Power of Language, Pineapple Hearts, Boiled Water Rooms & LOTS o' LOVE

Greetings Friends!

Oh so much to say! My last few days in Zhengzhou have been filled with so much richness, so much love, love, LOVE, laughs and more LOVE. I feel deeply blessed to have such a profoundly beautiful and loving 'Chinese family' :)!! 2 days ago when Ayi came back from a weekend at her son's home, she entered the clinic with a big smile. She exclaimed she was organizing a special 'farewell' lunch for me and that Zhao Fang (Nicole) and her husband, JunLin and her family, Li Zhun and of course, Dr. Zhao would all be there. Oh YAY!!! We've all been counting down the days we have together – savoring and enjoying each moment. Each day I come to the clinic, Dr. Zhao re-counts again – 'hai you 5 tian' –'still 5days'– 'hai you 3 tian'–'still have 3 days'–'hai you 1 tian'–'still have 1 day,' etc. Each moment is precious – each time I get to fill another prescription with my Sisters, eat another most delicious lunch with Ayi and Dr. Zhao, see my fuyuyuan (hotel worker) friends at the hotel, hug my little Chinese 'nieces' who come to greet me is so precious. Also, I savor each moment of teaching and sharing and experiencing with Dr. Zhao. My time and all I receive from him is such a big gift – even putting all of this into words doesn't do justice to express what I'm receiving. One example of such a moment is two days ago when he read from an old book on acupuncture techniques – again written as a 'gejue'– a poem. It was so beautiful and this time, as he read (and I recorded it on my nifty IPod :)) I actually understood some of it!! WoW! I understood some of the acupuncture points they referred to and their uses. And I'm so glad to have these recordings to continue learning and of course to hear Dr. Zhao's voice again when I'm home.

I also like it when Dr. Zhao calls me over to feel another patient's pulse (now he's having me feel their pulses and then describe what I feel. Gosh, this is soooo great!! I love (sometimes my ego doesn't love it so much in the moment though!) how Dr. Zhao is ALWAYS stretching what I think is possible for me. He's always testing my 'consciousness' and expanding my self-imposed – often unconsciously self-imposed limitations. My training and 'remembering' of Conscious Language has been/is so valuable and I can see how all my experiences up to this point has prepared me to meet and work with Dr. Zhao. In my training with Robert Tennyson Stevens (founder of Conscious Language™ and Mastery Systems), I came to see how a simple thought-form such as “I can't” or “I don't know” really held back a lot of power in my life – and I had several experiences while on tour with Bob of how once I became conscious I was telling myself ‘I can't’ or ‘I don't know’ and consciously made another choice, then doors opened in my own consciousness and experience! Well, I have discovered so many “I can'ts” or “”I don't knows” in my time here. Yet, these have been even more 'sneaky' because they're in Chinese!! :) Yes, I've become rather astute in detecting sly English ‘I can'ts' and “I don't knows” – BUT now I'm becoming diligent in catching them in Chinese! When I'm thinking thoughts in Chinese, these little..."wo bu hui" (I can't), “Wo ting bu dong" (I don't understand), and “wo buzhidao” (I don't know) have, as I mentioned, continued to pop up in their sneaky way, especially when Dr. Zhao is teaching me, or quizzing me, or asking me to recite one of the short gejues he's shared with me! (one time in front of the reporters! Aiya!!) Well, as I've learned/remembered in my studies with Bob Stevens, my language, my words, thoughts and feelings are powerful and are constantly shaping my world and my experience of it around me.

So to give you an example in the Chinese language, I'm going to take a close look at the Chinese version of ‘I don't know' --- which, just as in English, is a phrase that often unconsciously closes a door in consciousness -- As soon as one says “I don't” – it's like closing a gate, and in this case, closing a gate to 'knowing.’ So, in Chinese, the 2 characters for knowing are both beautiful and powerful words – they are ‘zhi’知and ‘dao’道 put together to form ‘zhidao’ 知 道–(look, Dr. Zhao's nephew, Zhao Kuan, helped me download a program to type in Chinese now so I can actually show you some characters :)) – ‘zhi’ is the character for wisdom and ‘dao’ is the character for the way, the path – it's also the character for Daoism (sometimes spelled Taoism in English). To say “I know” is simply ‘wo zhidao’ 我知道 – or one could translate it as “I know as I Am Wisdom and the Way” – or—“I know the wisdom of the Way". To say “I don't know” is “wo bu zhidao” 我不知道 – or one could say ‘I don't know wisdom or the Way’ or ‘I don't know the wise Way'. The character “bu” 不, like our 'not'–resulting in words like can't, don't, won't, etc --, is a powerful barrier and can put up a strong wall/gate in one's consciousness (often unconsciously). It's also said in the 4th tone in Chinese (Mandarin Chinese has 4 main tones and 1 neutral tone) which starts high and ends low and is the 'sharpest' tone of them all.

So all of this to say, I'm now 'remembering' my Conscious Language in Chinese too :) And as I had started explaining, when Dr. Zhao has me feel pulses of his patients, and then asks me to explain what I'm feeling, sometimes these sneaky “I don't know how to say this" thoughts making their way into my head. Well also....being a 'waiguoren' -a foreigner, I have a big excuse to have these thoughts, right? Since Chinese isn't my native language, I can often get away with just being a bit 'shaniu'–'silly girl' that doesn't quite understand. Yet, this ‘doesn't fly' with Dr. Zhao :) (and Thankfully so as this keeps stretching my own limits!!). So with the pulses, even though I've often thought –'oh I don't know how to put words to what I'm feeling – and especially in Chinese!" I it anyway :) – and miraculously Dr. Zhao understands! (even though I'm often using other-than-Chinese-Medical terminology to convey my feelings!)

This highlights another special blessing in my relationship with Dr. Zhao – that is we often understand each other – (of course there's many times we've had some miscommunications resulting in me 'you fan cuowu' – making yet another mistake!! – which often by the way, after we communicate clearly, results in another bundle of shared laughter and me reminding Dr. Zhao how to say "I made a mistake" in English again :)- as he likes to practice his English in preparation for his next trip to the U.S.)

Even though we have our language differences, he often seems to understand what I'm conveying. For example, one patient's pulse was very thin, wiry and a bit floating, while another patient's was ‘thick’, sinking and 'hua' slippery like flowing ‘zhou’ or rice porridge (different than the ‘hua’ feeling of the 2 women who are pregnant). I'll often say a few simple descriptive words and then Dr. Zhao's eyes light up –"oh yes, right – you mean"....and he'll say the very poetic Chinese medical terminology for what I'm feeling :). Even though I'm just starting to feel some basics and feeling the difference between different patients, I still have MUCH to learn as to what all the different pulses mean, several patients still insist (if I haven't done it already) to come over and feel their pulse. They're often smiling looking at me with expectant eyes after I feel, like they're waiting for me to diagnosis their condition! Well, I just tell them to 'dengyixia' wait a moment and ask Dr. Zhao :)

Another example of Dr.Zhao not heeding my “I can't" or “I don't understand” thoughts is with some of the case studies he's written up for me to translate. Again, he likes to write by hand (as he doesn't use the modern pinyin method needed for typing Chinese characters in the computer)—so this means I need to decipher his handwriting. Well, neatly (and I mean school-text-book-neat) written characters are much easier to read than the more beautiful flowing, calligraphy-like handwriting of Dr. Zhao – because, when reading neatly written or typed characters, if there's a character I don't know, I can again use my nifty ipod, draw the character, press ‘done’ and voila! Out comes the pinyin and an English definition of the word. :) –duo fangbian! – So convenient!! Well, not so easy with Dr. Zhao's written papers... .When he hands me yet another case study, he often says, ‘na, ni man man kan ba.' "here, you can read and review this slowly." And then starts working on something else. My “well, what? Wait – what if I don't understand? Wait can you just explain...?...." none of these thoughts are given any space in his consciousness – which then seems to somehow decrease their power in my consciousness – and my response miraculously turns into a no-drama “Hao ba. Wo na hui qu manman de kan ba.” –“okay sure, I'll take this and review it tonight." (Yet, sometimes I'm still thinking, “how will I ever understand all of this?”) So far, though, I've also ‘miraculously’ been given all the extra help (often from either Nicole or Zhao Kuan) I require to read these cases studies and learn a bunch of new words in the process. :)

So I had a most most wonderful ‘farewell’ lunch with Dr. Zhao, Ayi, JunLin, her mother-in-law, Nicole and her husband, and one of Dr. Zhao's sisters. Again these were more moments I treasured. Two of the TV reporters also joined us so they could film our toasts and this special time with 'my Chinese family' :). Below are just a few of the many great pictures we took at lunch and right after with my family :).

Pineapple Hearts
Also, below I've included some pictures of me and my friends at the hotel. Oh they are all so wonderful. As I've mentioned, most of my dinners I would eat at the hotel with the other hotel workers. I befriended several of them (especially Da Jie who I mentioned in an earlier update – she's the older women in the pics below) and exchanged warm smiles, hellos and laughter with most of the others. Well I had bought some pineapple, watermelon and apples earlier in the day and wrote a thank you note to the staff and asked if the chef could cut up the fruit nicely and put it out with that night's dinner, as I often arrive a bit after they've started eating. Well...when I arrived that night, the main server had just read my note to everyone and then on the two back tables I saw the platters of fruit! Oh wow! They were so beautifully prepared! I included a picture of one of them below – the chef took so much care in his preparation, he even cut the pineapple into little heart shapes!!! I felt so happy and everyone there was also so happy to see me! I felt such joy to finally be able to thank them all at once and in person and it just opened up such a warmth of sharing and gratitude and of course smiles and more laughs! We took pictures of us eating together and then the main server came in with a gift of 2 red stuffed animal tigers he said was a gift from the hotel! Oh they are so sweet!! And you can just see and feel their sweetness and genuine kindness in these pictures :)

So all this goodness just keeps on flowing and flowing – on my last night in Zhengzhou, after my last dinner with the hotel staff, I was upstairs beginning my slightly dreaded task of fitting all my accumulated belongings in my 1 big bag – when I heard a knock, knock on the door :) – Oh it was my wonderful ‘sisters’ JunLin and LiZhun!! :) JunLin also brought her husband Zhao Miao and they all had big smiles on their faces, came in and my two sisters immediately started organizing my things, asking “kailun, what are you wearing tomorrow? Here hand me your things…What goes in this bag?...” And while I felt I wasn't ‘prepared’ for help (I often feel as though I need have everything organized first before having people come help me...BUT this thinking I'm realizing doesn't make much sense as often people are coming to help with just this – organizing! :) – so I really could relax more and just enjoy my help!), my sisters just came in and pretty much took over, while Zhao Miao added his skype contact info to my skype account and also made sure he and JunLin were in my new QQ account (QQ is like the Chinese equivalent to Facebook and pretty much EVERYONE who is on the internet here has a QQ address – instead of email :)). Well within 45 minutes, all my belongings again miraculously (I realized I've used that word a lot in this update!) fit in my bag! How did they do this?!! In any case, we said our goodnights as we were all going to see each other again very soon early, early in the morning, as Dr. Zhao, Ayi and my sisters had all concluded (along with 3 TV reporters) that they would take me to the airport! Gosh, I feel so loved!
And really our trip to the airport and our last hugs and continued waves and blowing of kisses and smiles and tears as I was making my way through security all just added to the immense Love and Gratitude I have for Dr. Zhao, Ayi, Jun Lin, Li Zhun, Nicole, their whole family, and all, all the many people I've met and become friends with on this trip. I am so grateful and I am grateful to all of you for sharing my powerful, loving and Joy-filled journey. THANK YOU!!!

'Boiled Water Rooms" :)
I've written some of this letter while flying from Zhengzhou to Inner Mongolia (to see Claire and Jergedu) with a stop-over in Beijing. Below are a couple of interesting pics from my airport experience that I thought you'd enjoy too :) – one is of a sign for a “Boiled Water Room”!! HA! I love drinking HOT water and this is something we certainly do NOT see in the U.S. :)! Also, while at the airport I again had the delightful task of .....having lunch! :) – so I went to a Chinese version of ‘fast food’ (they even call it ‘kuai can’ which literally means fast food) BUT I took a picture of their menu because it is actually real food and absolutely nothing like we have at our ‘fast food’ restaurants! It's a little hard to see but the picture shows their ‘picture menu’ of things like seaweed noodles, steamed eggs with mushrooms, mu-er and cilantro (mu-er is a fungus that directly translates to ‘wood ears’ :)), red bean pudding, curried veggies and rice, dumplings, sautéed greens, black sticky rice and coconut yummy dessert (which is one item I ordered :)), and more... Also while these prices were much more than what you'd pay out in the city, my meal still cost me a whooping $2.30!

Clear Blue Skies in Inner Mongolia
So while I'm missing, thinking of, and sending much love to my Zhengzhou family now, I'm also so happy to be in Inner Mongolia with my dear friend Claire and her wonderful finance, Jergedu! It is beautiful here and so refreshing to see the deep and bright blue skies and the bright, brilliant sun and to breathe fresh air!!! I have missed all of these in Zhengzhou. And Claire – I am sooo happy for her! Many of you know her – she founded the first ZY Qigong organization in the U.S. and brought Mingtang here -- she's an amazing practitioner, healer, writer, teacher, colleague and friend. She moved back to China 2 years ago (and that's when a group of us then formed the first non-profit ZY Qigong organization to continue the good work and service she had started), and met her finance when she took a bus to Inner Mongolia, and got off at the very last bus stop with only the desire to find a good, expansive, quiet place to write. Well she found that and much more – she found her true love and they are to be married in August! :) And Jergedu is just fabulous! A native Mongolian, a talented musician and skilled healer and brilliant, warm and at times hilarious being! We all are laughing a lot and enjoying much delicious Mongolian food – I will write more about it in my next update. (there's a picture of Claire and Jergedu enjoying our first meal together here :))

My learnings and experiences with Chinese medicine are continuing too as I've met Jergedu's teacher yesterday who also practices Chinese acupressure, massage and acupuncture and is from a lineage of Mongolian teachers. Wow! His method is powerful! He treated Claire, then we all talked and before I knew it I was on the table getting a treatment myself!

He immediately knew my 'weak spots' and I felt a strong sense that one of my missions is to use my own qigong practice, my gifts of knowledge and experience with Chinese medicine, herbs and foods to bring strength and vitality to my whole being. A lot of inner 'ah-has' are being revealed.

Last night we all also went...DANCING!!! Oh I was fabulously FUN!! Claire is an awesome dancer too and we had a blast! We just rocked out and while the dance-stage floor was closed until the later hours, the managers came over to us and asked if we'd please step on the dance stage and continue our ecstatic funk and hip hop grooves!

I won't be on email much the next few days. Thank you again for all your letters! I really love hearing from you and I send you all Much LOVE!!!!

Love and JOY,


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Newspaper Article Published and Henan TV Crew Comes to Our Clinic!!

Greetings Friends!!!

WOW!!! I have sooooo much to say!!! I haven't been writing much in the last week as so much is happening in the remaining days (for this trip) in Zhengzhou. Remember when I mentioned that the reporters came to interview me - and they came to the clinic the day I 'ganmao le' - caught a cold, and how the reporter came later to take pictures of me practicing qigong, dancing and writing to you all? Well, this morning when I woke up, I had a text message from the reporter saying that the story was going in the 2nd and 3rd pages of today's paper!! On the front page there is also a picture of me - saying 'Ta jiao Kailun...' "Her name is Karen - she's a blond haired, blue eyed 'meinu' woman from the U.S. here studying Chinese medicine - Are you curious what she says in her journal?" ...and then it tells people to go to pp. 2-3 to find out more :) - Oh how exciting! I have several copies and will show you when I get home. The second page has a picture of my typing my one of my updates to you :) Each link below will take you to the different pages.

This reporter did an excellent job. Several people in the neighborhood were so excited to see me in the paper today too. When I went out with Junlin to buy some veggies and tofu for the dinner I made for everyone tonight, one woman ran out from her store front and said "Oh wo kan dao ni le - zai baozhi shang. Hen bang!" - Oh I saw you in the newspaper today -- that's so great!!"

Also, before I got to work today, Dr. Zhao called me and said 'Gankuai lai shang ban. Henan dianshitai yao lai fangwen ni.' "Come to work soon - the Henan TV station is coming to interview you" as they too had just read the article in the paper. OMG!! Wow!

At lunchtime today with Ayi and Dr. Zhao (before the TV reporters came in the afternoon), Dr. Zhao said that although many Americans come to China, very few are in the papers, let alone interviewed on TV. "Yibeizi tamen ganbushang" - in a lifetime most don't get on the media" -- Also, sometimes, Dr. Zhao explained, some people must pay a good sum of money to get in the paper or on TV and this just came to us - the newspaper reporter heard 'through the grapevine' about me coming to study Chinese medicine with Dr. Zhao and today the TV station read the paper and called Dr. Zhao immediately to come do a story too -- This is another Beautiful Gift that just....'plop' .. is here in our lap!! Dr. Zhao is a very humble and thankful man too - and today before we ate lunch, he showed me his alter and the 2 'pusa's' (for many Americans, the equivalent is 'angels') -one being Guanyin watching over him and those he loves. We both bowed and felt great gratitude for our Blessings!

The atmosphere in the clinic was truly one of excitement the whole day and as soon as I arrived in the morning, Junlin and LiZhun already had my 'white doctor's coat' ready to wear for the reporters :). JunLin said to 'lai zhao ta' call her after my lunch with Ayi and Dr. Zhao and we'd 1) do our veggie shopping for our dinner (I made a 'thank you' dinner for everyone tonight and practiced my Chinese cooking skills :) and 2) she'd brush my hair and put it in a pretty hairdo for the reporters :). Oh I love JunLin!! She is so great!! Sometimes I feel like a young girl running over to her friend's house 'to play' after lunch :). At times we ride bikes, or practice dancing, or I help her with English, or we play ping pong, or she helps me with MANY things, or we talk and laugh and eat pineapple or drink yummy hot water and honey drinks (note: this is good for 'meirong' for beautifying our skin :)) before going back to work :).

And I just love both of my sisters -- LiZhun is back working at the clinic now too and the 3 of us are quite the team! We call each other 'Sister' - as I'm teaching them English - and for all the little kids who come to the clinic, we are quite a sight -- the 3 smiling 'Ayi's' "Aunties" :). Also, sometimes if there aren't any patients in the clinic, both 'sisters', Junlin and LiZhun, go to the back room to work with the herbs. As they leave, they practice their English and we all smile and say, "see you later" promptly followed by several giggles :). When practicing our English, if Dr. Zhao isn't busy with a patient, his eyes light up and he comes over with a smile and great curiosity and eagerness to learn -- he loves studying English too and will come practice the phrases I'm teaching my 'sisters' :)

Cooking my First Big Chinese Family Meal (with GREAT help from my 'Sisters' :))
So the TV reporters came in the afternoon and again, the clinic was quite 'renao' -very lively! They also came to my hotel room to film me typing my letter to you:) and to ....Dance!! YAY! This time maybe the dancing part will make the news. And...then the reporters came with me to JunLin's home to film me making my first formal Chinese meal for JunLin's family, LiZhun and Dr. Zhao and Ayi! This was quite an out-of-the-ordinary experience for all of us! First, it's already rare to have a 'wai guo ren' come to one's home, but then to have one come that is bringing a TV crew of 5 people is even more rare!! Everything happened so fast that I realized I hadn't even asked JunLin about the reporters coming into her and her family's home.....but her and her family were just Thrilled! These reporters were a lot of fun too -- all in their 20s and everywhere we went there was a lot of laughing and good cheer.

So I and the TV crew arrived at JunLin's about 6:30 p.m. and I was aware I had much to do -- I had bought LOTS of veggies for several dishes, tofu, and a small fish. Cooking Chinese food is very fast....BUT the chopping and preparation is what takes the longest. 'sisters' (Bless them!) had prepared all the veggies - washed and chopped them, put them in neat separate bowls, cleaned the fish and stuffed it with ginger, my other Ayi (JunLin's mother-in-law) made a big pot of millet and sweet potato zhou (porridge)-- YUM!!, had the coal stove piping hot (really - they are super efficient and HOT HOT HOT!), and had smiling faces and an apron ready for me to wear. They are so wonderful!!

So when I arrived, JunLin and LiZhun guided me into the kitchen, put on my apron, had me do a 'spin' for the reporters, fixed my hair, put the spatula in my hand and said, "Lai, Kailun, ni chao cai ba" - "Come, Karen, you can stir-fry all the veggies now" :) Again, this was all while the 5 reporters also followed me in with their cameras!

After the cooking, the reporters left saying they'll come back tomorrow and they're also coming to the airport (along with Dr. Zhao, Ayi, JunLin and LiZhun) the day I leave for Inner Mongolia to see me off! I just keep thinking, "This is so amazing!!!" All of my experiences are so much more than I imagined!!! Each day I make it my practice to 'see, feel and be the Perfection and Love I desire" - as one of my teachers, St. Germain instructs. I feel so much awe and gratitude.

Family DANCE
And, another thing to share from this evening....after dinner and chatting and cleaning up, Dr. Zhao and Ayi left -- with Ayi pausing with a twinkle in her eye, saying to 'hao hao wanr yihuir' -- to stay and 'play'/enjoy my time with my 'sisters' for awhile - as both she and Dr. Zhao know how close we've all become. So....after they went home, JunLin's 12-year old son (he is GREAT!!) put on some of the dance music I gave to JunLin and we had a most Awesome, Spontaneous family dance!!! WoooHOOO! Included one dancing picture below of me and her niece. JunLin, her son and her mother-in-law also danced with us! JunLin's husband, Zhao Miao video taped us so JunLin can 'study ecstatic dance' while I'm away! It was so fun to dance with them!!!

Oh I have so much more to say!! I'll be writing more in the next few days. I have much to share on what I'm learning with the medicine, feeling pulses, 'writing' another prescription -- really it's Dr. Zhao telling me the herbs and this time I actually knew how to write them (as I've been practicing!! :)), and more.

Thank you again so much for sharing my journey with me!! And THANK YOU for your emails!!! Also, thanks to my friend, Rick, for creating and updating my travel blog where all these emails are posted. (see BTW, he does great web work if you're looking for someone to help in this area :))

Much GREAT LOVE and BLESSINGS to you ALL!!!!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dr. Zhao's Gege (older brother) and his Gift, 'Sitting for a Month' & Twins!

Greetings Friends!

I am so moved and deeply touched. yesterday Dr. Zhao's 'Gege' - his older brother whom I call Da Bai -- came by the clinic again. What I didn't tell you in our last exchange is that he said he was going to write a poem for me and write it out in beautiful calligraphy on special scroll paper as a gift. Well yesterday he came by the clinic with his most precious self and heart and his beautiful gift. I actually have tears in my eyes. I just read his words again (to make sure I understand them all in preparation for my translation for you :)) and feel an ache in my heart -- it's a 'gratitude ache' -- Do you feel those sometimes? It's not a painful ache, it's a depth of feeling, an awe and thankfulness ache :). It's an ache that often spontaneously allows me to let go of any 'xiao shiqing' -- small thing thoughts -- and surrender to the beauty and magic and grace life can bring. Sometimes so unexpectedly, without feeling I've done something to earn just here in my lap and presenting it's beauty to me.

So Da Bai (Dr. Zhao's older brother) came with a scroll wrapped with a red bow. He proceeded to tilt his little navy blue cap back and pull out another rather large piece of rice paper, unwrap it and explain that on this paper he wrote me a note to explain his feelings, his poem, why he wrote it, and also to write the poem out in more 'readable' characters so I would know exactly what it said. Wow! Well this 'note' is quite a piece of art in and of itself!!! His calligraphy is outstanding - most beautiful and what he said brings tears to my eyes and my depth of thanks ache to my heart. He writes with such elegance and grace and truly honors the Chinese language with the beauty he creates through his choice of words. One special thing about the Chinese language is that much, much can be said in just a few characters. Each character has a depth of meaning and can have multiple, varied meanings depending on the context. Putting them together in a way that uses few words, and yet paints a deep picture and creates a beautiful cadence is a true art. I'll explain the letter and then translate the poem.

In his letter he says:
Kailun Laoshi (Karen teacher): "Ni xingku le! Neng zai wo de jia xiang yu ni xiang shi, bei gan rong xing. Nin zhi shen yi ren, yuan bu zhong yang lai Zhongguo yanxiu zhong yi, qi xing wei, qi jing shen kan jing kan pei, ling ren dongrong xinzhe. Wei biaoshi dui nin de jingzhong zhi qing, wo wei nin xie le si ju shi. Shi shi zheyang xie de:

"I acknowledge your hardships! Having you here and the opportunity to be your acquaintance, I feel very fortunate. You, on your own, came across the great oceans to China specifically to study Chinese medicine -- your manner, your spirit, evoke respect and admiration and cause people to feel enchanted. As a way to express my feelings of great respect, I wrote this 4-lined poem. The poem goes like this:"

And here's his poem:
Da Yang bi an mei Kailun,
Qiuzhi cong bu wei jianxin.
Gong cheng ming jiu zhi ri dai,
Chun feng hua yu cao mu xin.

From across the ocean shores beautiful Karen came (note: this has 2 meanings "mei" means beautiful and it is also short for 'Mei Guo' which means America :) - or Beautiful Country! How did we get so lucky to have the Chinese name our country - beautiful country?! :))
Eager to learn she has no fear of hardship.
Her success is soon to come - as close as the next rising sun,
Life-giving spring breezes and rain, fallen petals creates new life (this last sentence - so elegant in Chinese alludes to the life-giving essence of spring to the life-giving essence of education - and learning from older knowledge, wisdom then is born again in new life through us.--- See English takes many many more words to express than Chinese :))

In his letter, he also mentioned that he wrote 2 poems for me -- one -- the one I just translated above, and the other (so there's actually 2 scrolls) is a poem written by a famous poet, Guo Moruo - he wrote it while in Hangzhou (one of the most beautiful cities in China) as he was so moved by the beauty he experienced there.

I wish I could convey the essence of the beauty of this all written in Chinese -- below are some pictures 1) of the 'letter' he wrote me, 2) - though it's blurry - of me and him holding up the scroll with his poem, and 3) one of him and Dr. Zhao looking at the poem rolled out on one of the treatment tables.

I was so moved by his kindness and generosity, that it seemed most of my Chinese left my brain for a few moments and all I could say is -- Wo ganxie nin, wo hao gandong!!" Thank you - I am so grateful and deeply moved!" I desired so much to express more how touched I was and how honored I am to know him and what a marvelous poet and person his is ....and well...I am hoping all I desired to express in words, he was able to receive from my spirit. I also had a great desire to give him a BIG hug!!! And as I mentioned in one of my last updates, that hugs are not the norm here, I managed to restrain myself long enough to ask him if he'd be okay with me giving him a hug. I guess Dr. Zhao has told his family about our American hugging 'customs' because he laughed and said 'yes, yes' and I gave him a big hug! Yay!

The 3 of us (Da Bai, Dr. Zhao and I) sat at Dr. Zhao's desk for a while while Dr. Zhao was talking about some of his research. Da Bai listened and also began to scribble something on a piece of paper in front of him. He then handed it to me while returning to look up at his younger brother and listen to what he was saying. I looked down and it said, "Kailun hen liaobuqi!!" "Karen is amazing!" Wow! He is amazing! This is so amazing that he is saying this!! And how fun to pass notes too!! :) So I scribbled something down and passed it back, while I then returned to looking up at Dr. Zhao and listening to what he was saying. :) I had written, "Nimen hen liaobuqi!!!" "You both (meaning him and Dr. Zhao) are AMAZING!!!" Da Bai looked down to see what I wrote and began to laugh! :) Gosh, remember when I said coming to China is a great way to 1) get a self-confidence booster and 2) become younger? Well here's another example of the gifts of so many compliments that are given so generously and genuinely. (Have any of you booked your tickets to come yet? :) --I'm planning to come back so maybe you can come too! :))

Heart Patient
Also included below is a picture of me with one of Dr. Zhao's patients.

She came in because of feeling dizzy. Dr. Zhao felt her pulses and then called me over to feel. They weren't regular or even -- almost like a hesitation in her beating. He told her to get a cardiogram and in 1 hour she came back with the results. It was amazing to see what we had felt with our hands on paper!! Last week, Dr. Zhao had explained the very basics of how to read one of these cardiograms to me so I could tell by looking at it where the irregularity in her heart cycle was. Dr. Zhao then had me do a basic neck massage treatment and afterward she exclaimed, "Oh qing le!" "Oh I feel much lighter!" Oh excellent! I was very happy and so was Dr. Zhao -- he told me to get my camera and he would take a picture of us both -- it's the one of us both sitting down -- I'm wearing one of the 'herbal dispensary' aprons :).

"Man Yue" - "Full Month Celebration" - Twins!
Also included are some pictures from an event I went to with Ayi on Sunday -- it was a 'manyue' (full month) event. When women in China and Taiwan give birth, the month afterward is a special time of rest, recuperation and regeneration for the mother and an important growth time for the baby. During this month (called 'zuo yue zi' -- meaning literally 'sit for a month' -- I did my college Anthropology senior thesis on this topic from my field research in Taiwan -- if any of you are interested, I can tell you a lot more about it -- there are many riches in this one practice :)), woman and their baby are to stay inside, not to shower (to prevent any chance of catching cold), and must eat many very 'bu shenti, bu xue de dongxi' -- nourishing food for their body, blood and bones. Usually it's the mother-in-law's duty to cook and provide the up to 5-6 meals a day and take care of her daughter-in-law and new baby. These days it's often whomever is closer -- the mother's own mother or her mother-in-law -- and in some cases they can both help a new mother go through this month. Well, at the end of the month, there's a big celebration -- and it's called 'man yue' -full month -- the Chinese love 'renao' (lively atmospheres), this event is again very 'renao'! There are lots of kids, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends of all ages who come to celebrate, share a meal and bring gifts.

This 'manyue' party was celebrating a the birth of Ayi's older sister's daughter's daughter's babies (I think I got that right! :)) And guess what? They're twins!! A boy and a girl! And they're adorable!! I also took a picture of Ayi's older sister's grandson and her daughter-in-law. As I've said, the kids here are sooooo cute!!! I could make a photo album just of all the kids I've met :)

Huang He
Also included are a couple of pictures of my outing to Huang He (Yellow River) with Dr. Zhao, Ayi, and their grandson, Gaogao :). Huang He is a HUGE and powerful river and much history (most recent during WWII in the late 1930s when the Chinese decided to open the levees to prevent the Japanese soldiers from advancing - which it did -- but it also killed 100s of thousands of Chinese civilians and caused great environmental damage) surrounds the ebbs and flows and floods of the enormous amount of water flowing in this river. Included is a good picture of Dr. Zhao and Gaogao in front of a big memorial for those who died in the flood mentioned above. While the river doesn't look so big in the picture, now is its dry season -- it can span the length of the LONG bridge we saw (it's so long I didn't even see the other end of the bridge!)

And I included a picture of Ayi and Gaogao. We had to take Gaogao home to finish his homework. As it was his English homework that he had left to do, I thought, "oh good! I can help him!" But as I sat next to him, he said in his mischievous way, "Bu. Bu neng. Ni bu hui!" "No you can't -- you don't know how!" -- Ha! "ta hen tiao pi" :) "He's a mischievous little boy" -- he was quizzing me on my English when we were in the car together when we went to Kaifeng and I must not have 'passed' his test :)

Oh, my time here is so precious. I just also got back from another evening session with Dr. Zhao. We're going through some of the herbal remedies in the book he gave me. Each herbal 'soup' has a beautiful 'gejue' or poem that explains what it's for and what herbs are in it. Dr. Zhao has memorized this whole book!! He's been reciting many of them by memory for me today! Quite amazing!!

He said he started studying Chinese medicine just bit by bit. In starting he didn't think, 'oh I'll be a doctor someday' -- he just desired to learn and grew up around herbs and his grandfather who was a brilliant doctor. So he slowly learned. But he said, I'm lucky. At least I have a teacher who is willing to teach so patiently!! His words are so true. I feel deeply blessed. I have another week here and will then go to Inner Mongolia to see my friend Claire Johnson before coming back to the States.

Thank you again for all of your emails!!! Even if I haven't responded yet, I am so grateful for your sharings and love receiving your letters.

Much Great Love to you!



Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My First Prescription, Joys of Being a Woman & Dancing in the Clinic!

Greetings Friends!

Oh my two dear new friends, Su Mengwei and Tai Mengyu are sooooo sweet!! Today they came by the clinic today when I was about to leave to see if I had developed the pictures we had taken together last week (I had told them I was going to have them later this week for them). As soon as I walked out the door, both Su Mengwei and Tai Mengyu said, "Ayi!" with Big Smiles on their faces and came up and gave me big hugs!! Oh Wow! They are soo adorable! And again I feel blessed with their hugs! As I mentioned hugging is not a custom most Chinese people have (whereas I'm a big fan of hugs -- my family has always been big on hugs and I love to hug my friends -- it's just a natural response for me when I'm excited to see someone :)) -- sometimes I forget this as I did when Li Zhun came back to start working again at the clinic yesterday (I met her when I went to Kaifeng for the day with her, Dr. Zhao and his grandson, Gaogao :)). Well I was so happy to see her again that I just went up to give her a big hug! But quickly remembered that's not the custom here when I realized she didn't know quite what to do or what to make of me coming up to her with an expression of glee, big smile and open arms! Jun Lin was there too and started to giggle. She again graciously reminded me, "uh..Kailun, women chang chang zheyang wo shou" -- ah..Karen..we usually just shake hands in this situation" :) Oh yes! And we all laughed together.

So below are a few more pictures of these two beautiful young girls and Su Mengwei's little brother!

Oh what a cutie! He's 2 years old. Su Mengwei was excited for me to meet him and she also brought her mom. I love meeting almost the whole family!! Su Mengwei had to leave soon so Tai Mengyu again walked with me back to the hotel while asking me many more questions about the U.S.: what it's like where I live; how many days left do I have here; when am I coming back; do the phone lines really reach all the way to the U.S.; how do I like our new president; what are my favorite Chinese foods; what do I eat in the States; does everyone in the U.S. have blonde hair, and more! :) Actually the blonde hair question was when I was still back at the clinic with all the other kids and when I replied that we have people with all different kinds of hair of all different colors, black like theirs, blonde like mine, red (well at red there were bunches of squeals and giggles and big open eyes! :)) I also said we had all different kinds of ethnicities, nose sizes (more giggles), heights, weights, and so on. Oh they are so curious! Next time I come back, I'm going to bring a photo album or slide show to show them all about our life in the states :).

Today I had another surprise in the clinic...or well actually more than one. First, I had another acupressure exchange session with Dr. Zhao where I give him a treatment and then get feedback and then he treats me so I can learn through experiencing it in my own body (plus I get the benefit of feeling soooo much better afterward! :)) Well, then he said, 'okay, let's treat your knee once more.' So I rolled up my left pant leg and he started to do the 'wamping' treatment again -- yes it hurts! But wow! My knee is again much better! It got red and hot again and then I felt my knee get warm and hot from the inside out. YAY! Wow - how great. I have had years of off and on and sometimes very debilitating knee pain and now I know how to help myself and others!

Writing My First Prescription

The other surprise was....well I was sitting with Dr. Zhao at his desk observing him diagnosing patients and also feeling the basics of their pulses. Dr. Zhao, after doing his regular diagnosis of pulse-taking, asking several questions, looking at the patient's tongue, etc, reached for his herbal prescription pad of paper and pen to write a prescription. All is fine and normal up to this point.....except, then Dr. Zhao said, "Kailun, lai lai" – “Karen, here, here" and he gave me the pad of paper and pen to write the patient's prescription! What?! Oh wait, what's happening here? - I thought :)! He had me write out the patient's name, gender, and then he started to name the herbs and their amounts for me to write down. Well, for those of you who have studied Chinese -- reading and recognizing characters is one thing, but having to remember how to write characters from memory (especially ones one has just recently learned) can be quite challenging and takes practice! Oh dear! Again I felt I hadn't adequately prepared for this 'pop quiz'! "Sha niu" (one of my nicknames when I do something silly! Or make a mistake!) Some of the characters, (THANKFULLY) I actually knew and wrote down, and many I could see an image of them in my head....but not all the details :) and a vague, fuzzy image of a character doesn't do much good. Especially when I'm trying to write out an herb with both Dr. Zhao waiting patiently so he can continue to list the rest of the herbs, the patient and his family peering over my shoulder to see if I know what I'm doing and if I can really write in Chinese (and probably to make sure their prescription comes out right!!), and Jun Lin and Li Zhun waiting in the back for me to finish up so they can fill the prescription! Aiyo! :) And then with some herbs, when even a vague image didn't appear in my mind, Dr. Zhao would begin scribbling the character on his note pad in front of him, saying "It's like this..." -- But it was 1) upside down (from my view), and 2) in his fast handwriting that I find challenging to read already! Sometimes after a couple sighs, he would turn the character around so it was at least right side up, but I still found it challenging to decipher.

Well by this point both Dr. Zhao and the patients were trying to help me in any way they could. And if you speak and write Chinese you know this - because many characters have the same sound, when writing, for example if someone is saying their name and it has the character "yu" for rain, people will say -- oh it's "xia yu de yu" -- it's the same character as in the phrase for "rain". Most Chinese words are made up of 2 characters put together. This way when people are clarifying which character they’re referring to to write down, they will often say a common 2-character word that contains that character needing to be clarified. This way the person can ‘spell' -- or really 'draw/write' the correct character. Well this is a great help, again for those who are native spellers/character-writers, BUT several times yesterday, while I know the words they were saying to let me know which character to write, I didn't know how to write it by memory. And other times I didn't even know the words they used as an example! Oh dear! What Dr. Zhao may have meant to be a confidence-building experience of ‘writing my first prescription’ actually just highlighted in blaring red lights another area I require to “xia da gongfu” – “put in much more study time and effort!”
(Note: I have a picture of 'my first prescription' below :))

JunLin and Li Zhun are both so sweet – they are really amazing – in a situation like this where they (or anyone) could easily pass a judgment on me – they don’t! Instead, they just love me! And they do what they can to help me improve! This morning when I got to the clinic, Li Zhun handed me some scrap paper stapled together make a little notebook and proceeded to start naming off herbs for me to write – so I could practice for my next ‘pop quiz’ with Dr. Zhao! And of course, Jun Lin jumped in too when she arrived :).

Seeing Perfection (even in my Chinese Character Writing!)

So I kept practicing with all my scribbles and first attempts, cross-outs, rewrites and repeats of several characters for different types of herbs. Well,…the love and patience and practice of “seeing Perfection” just gets better! Dr. Zhao’s younger sister and her friend came back to ‘the herbal dispensary’ area to see what I was up to as I was eagerly scribbling away at something. They saw my ‘new little notebook', picked it up and said, “Oh hen piao liang! Ni hui xie zi! Zhen hao!” “oh how beautiful!! Wow you know how to write Chinese characters! That is so great!” Gosh, that is just so sweet of them –really b/c if you look at my characters they are actually rather “nan kan” -- …um…not so attractive. Part of the art of writing Chinese characters is in having them all the same size – height, width, length…Well mine are often all over the board – some are too tall, some too fat, some too short, some spaced out in an awkward, non-native way :) But as I’ve mentioned before, they are always giving me the ‘benefit of the doubt” (what does that phrase really mean anyway? Kind of a strange figure of speech!)

My First Qigong Class!

So then another surprise, after admiring my Chinese character-writing, Dr. Zhao’s younger sister’s eyes lit up as she asked, “Ni hui lian qigong, shi bu shi? Ni keyi jiao wo ma?” – “You practice qigong, right? Can you teach me some?” – Oh how great!! One of my favorite things! (in addition to dancing that is…and eating Chinese food!) So She came back behind the counter and I showed her how to shake and do some wamping. Well this was just too much fun. She then took me by the arm and said, “Let’s go out to the back room.” Dr. Zhao was busy with a client and she whispered “meiguanxi – ni lai ba” – “it’s okay, come! :)) So we went outside and she quickly called over another 2 friends of hers and we went in back and I taught my first mini qigong class in China! :) What fun!! We did the 8 Brocades and they loved it. They invited me to teach another class tomorrow morning for their friends and asked me to please bring a DVD next time I come to China so they can continue to practice! :)

So I’ve just had surprise after surprise the last few days. Another funny one was later this morning in clinic. Dr. Zhao was finishing working with a patient. At the end of a treatment, he usually has his patients roll over on their back and then pulls and shakes their legs (called ‘dou’ in Chinese). Well usually he calls me over to do this last part. Today he called me over as his patient was turning over on her back…and I naturally thought “oh he’s going to ask me to “ba ta de tui dou yi dou” – shake her legs. But! That’s not what he said at all. Instead he did the shaking and said, “mo yi mo ta de tui” “feel her leg”. So I did – wondering what I was supposed to be feeling for. Well, then he said, “See these are special women’s style pants; they’re soft and they might be long enough for you.” Oh he was trying to help me on my ‘other mission' of finding pants long enough for my rather long legs! Ha! That was unexpected and nice of him to even think of that! Just as the quest for me finding a pair of shoes that actually fits my – what I found out are very Big feet in China – has been taken on by Dr. Zhao and his family, so apparently is my finding pants that are long enough!

Dancing in the Clinic!

Today (Saturday my time) has really had such a “weekend” feel to it. I always enjoy my time there and this afternoon just seemed particularly relaxed. Before our lunch break was over, I met JunLin at the clinic – we were going to meet Li Zhun there to bike to the post office together to mail a package of herbs we bundled up in the morning for a patient in Inner Mongolia. As it was just her and I in the clinic, I asked her if she wanted to dance! Oh boy! Her eyes lit up and we giggled and then locked the door. I took out my music and….we began to dance! Jun Lin is GREAT! She was smiling and said “shi bu shi zheyang?” “It’s like this, right?” – as she shimmied her shoulders and swung her hips. Wow! She’s got it! She said she’s been practicing! :) Li Zhun arrived and knocked on the door and a bit later Dr. Zhao’s sister came in too. They were curious, so I put on some more music – Li Zhun and Dr. Zhao’s sister were more shy and just watched but were smiling big – more DANCING JOY seeds are being planted! :)….

Also, for some, being at work may feel like more of a serious task, and indeed diagnosing and treating patients (and filling prescriptions) are all important and require much care and focus. I also, though, LOVE how fun each day, hour, minute, moment is here. I so enjoy being here and I’m in a surrounding where everyone is truly right here right now and loving what they are doing. Many of Dr. Zhao’s patients have become good friends and daily there are numerous joyous greetings of old-time patients coming back for some treatment. Sometimes for a new condition, sometimes they’re bringing a friend or relative – and also bring some sort of fruit or special treat for Dr. Zhao and his family. Also, right now when I’m working in the ‘herbal dispensary’ it’s the 3 of us ‘girls’ – Jun Lin, me and Li Zhun and we all love each other and love being together – it’s just so much fun! They’re often helping me with my herbal studies and I’m helping them study some English, and Jun Lin comes over to fix my hair or fluff up my sweater – and we whisper, joke and laugh about all sorts of things. One thing I love about being a woman is it is so easy and natural for us to share loving affection with one another. While (as I mentioned) hugs aren’t the norm here, girlfriends often hold hands or link arms when walking down the street together. They lovingly play with each other’s hair, pick the ‘nubbies’ of each other’s sweaters, and do lots of little loving things that show how much they care for one another.

One other thing I’m so aware of here is Harmony. We have and live in a great sense and atmosphere of harmony, order, and Love. From my studies with one of my dear teachers, Robert Tennyson Stevens, I have learned the value and difference of creating and maintaining an atmosphere of immaculate beauty and harmony. Well, this is what Dr. Zhao, Ayi, Jun Lin, Li Zhun create and maintain at their clinic. And it’s all done with such ease, grace and joy. Life can really be lived from our greatest state of Enjoyment. We are here to enjoy our life, to enjoy and love one another and living this way just creates more and more and more Joy and Love to give and share.

Flying Kites

I have another beautiful story to share. Today as I was walking to clinic in the morning, two young boys were flying kites on the sidewalk next to me. One said “Hello!” with a big smile and I said an exuberant “Hello!” back. I continued walking around the corner and then saw something in the corner of my eye and heard a young voice. I turned and it was the boy who had been flying his kite. I didn’t understand what he said so I said, “shenme?” and he repeated. I still didn’t quite get it so I asked him to please repeat again. Then he smiled sheepishly and said in Chinese, “Zao shang hao” – “Good morning!” Oh, he had been practicing his English and came to say “Good Morning” to me in English. My brain kept trying to figure out what Chinese phrase he was saying instead of listening for English! Oh I was so touched by this little boy! I said, “Oh, yes!!! Good morning!!” And told him his English was great…as he smiled and was running back around the corner to rejoin his friend. :) The kids here are truly adorable. And each day I’m meeting more and becoming the “Meiguo Ayi” “American Auntie” to more and more kids :)

Introducing Da Jie

Gosh, this is already such a long update....But before I end, there’s one more person I’d like to introduce you to. I call her Da Jie (Older Sister). She is just great! She’s in her fifties and while I’d normally call her ‘Ayi’ – Auntie, she likes to be called Sister :). We’ve become friends as she was one of the more 'brave' ones who started talking to me when I first arrived at the hotel (she works at the hotel I'm living in) and we quickly came to feel a mutual sense of joy whenever we happened to bump into each other. Indeed, i started to look for her each morning while eating breakfast as she's usually just starting work (if she has the morning shift). Her work closet with the brooms and mops for cleaning the front lobby are right in front of the glass doors leading to the dining room - I always pick a table with a view of the closet just in case she comes by while I'm eating -- and she often comes by her closet at about 7:30 just in case I may be enjoying breakfast...and then we both exchange smiles and excited 'nihao' waves to one another through the dining room door windows :).

She has 3 kids and one of her daughters married a German and is now living in Germany. Her husband who she loved dearly has passed on. She said they had a most wonderful loving relationship and she doesn’t desire to remarry. She loves the memories she has with her husband and is now also enjoying her freedom. She is a delight – she has such a shiny smile and twinkling eyes. She is most curious about my days and sometimes, if she has the evening off we go walk to the park together. Other times, if she’s working the evening shift, we eat our dinners together (as I eat with the other hotel workers. They don't normally serve dinner for the guests, but because being a 'foreigner' in China can at times opens all kinds of doors and exceptions to bend the rules and offer favors, they've graciously agreed and indeed most welcomed me to eat with their staff :)). Also, as I make my almost daily evening trip to the neighboring grocery store to buy…yes, ‘suan nai’ –yogurt :), I, being in China with LOTS of yummy things available to eat, often come back with some other treat to explore as well. Da Jie works in the front lobby sweeping so each time I come back, she comes over and I share with her the goodies I’ve collected to enjoy for the evening :). She is really truly wonderful and a delightful person. She’s told me a lot about her home town in Xinyang – the countryside with tall, tall mountains that she loved to climb as a little girl….

Oh and one more thing to share, I had the great delight of Dr. Zhao’s daughter (Nicole), her husband and daughter taking me ‘out on the town’ last night. They are sooo wonderful! I had a great talk with Nicole and her husband and really, I feel so so much like I am exactly where I am meant to be, meeting and talking with just who I am ‘meant’ to talk to. I feel so blessed to be blessed with such rich, fulfilling conversations, friendships here. Nicole took me to see a BIG shopping center last night that again had pretty much anything you’d like – including of course, lots of yummy Chinese foods! Well, Nicole bought me several treats and…..then we went upstairs and I noticed they had shoes! Well even though I’ve been to Numerous shoe stores and have encountered the same situation of seeing numerous ‘hen piao liang de xiezi” “beautiful shoes” – all of which are just too tight,--- today….I found a pair that fit! WOW!!!! They actually had a size 41 and they’re cute…and they’re woman’s shoes :). Some stores I’ve gone to did have what they call “te da xie” – “especially big shoes” but they’re usually not very attractive – at least for my tastes. These, though are perfect. I was excited and said ‘oh I’ll buy these!” Well, before I could get a word in edgewise, Nicole swept them up and said ‘Great! I’ll get these. They’re my gift to you!” Oh that is so sweet of her!!

So many gifts and smiles and blessings each and everyday.

Below are pictures of: my 2 young girl friends; the 'prescription' I wrote - well this is the 2nd one that Dr. Zhao then took mid-way through to finish as I was taking a weee bit longer than he does!; a picture Dr. Zhao took of me, Li Zhun and Jun Lin filling and herbal prescription together and obviously having LOTS of fun; a picture Jun Lin took of me while feeling a patient's pulse; Ayi cooking us a most delicious lunch; and one Jun Lin took of me while we were dancing in the clinic! :-D

Thank you soooooo much for sharing my journey with me. And if you’ve made it down to the end of this long update, thank you!!! :) And thank you thank you thank you for your emails. I sooooo soooo love to hear from you!!!

Much Much Much LOVE, Harmony, and Great JOY,