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,


KarenJOY

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