Thursday, March 13, 2014

Generosity in Jade, Tofu Skins & Shoe Polish, Shaking Qigong & Grandmother Wisdom

Greetings Friends!!
Nihao! Gosh, I didn’t expect to have another update so soon…BUT I love writing and sharing with you, and I have more stories to share :).

Shoe Polish Surprise & Sister Love
I just love my “sisters” in the clinic, Junling and Lijun! YAY! I love how we take such good care of each other! It’s just what girlfriends do together here – they know how to look after each other, and in so many little ways show so so so much love. For example today in clinic I commented on Junling’s jacket. It’s so clean and looks like new! Yet, I recognized it’s the same jacket I borrowed from her 4 years ago in my first visit here. “Ni zenme ba ni de yifu baochi de nanme hao?” How do keep your clothes looking so good?” I asked. My clothes certainly aren’t like that! Well, Junling said, “wo jiao ni ba” “I’ll teach you.” Then she reached into her pocket and took a small round container out, giggled, smiled and said, “Kailun, lai” “Come over here, Kailun,” and she walked over to a stool and pointed for me to sit down. Then she opened up the container and I saw it was brown shoe polish! She was going to polish my boots!! Oh my gosh – so sweet!!! So I put foot up on one of the open herbal drawers and she rubbed them down first with a cloth, and then with polish. Haha! Then she had me jump up and see what I thought. Wow! “hen liang!” I exclaimed – “ so shiny and bright!” “This is how you take good care of your clothes, Kailun…it’s same idea.” :) Oh yes. Gosh, I rarely think to do these things – like polish my shoes!! I remember the old shoe box my Mom and Dad used to keep in their closet with a buffing brush, cloth and polish for polishing our shoes. My Mom is and has always been good at keeping things clean and new looking…though I haven’t successfully inherited that trait..yet :).

Treasures of CHINA
I realized that prevention and maintenance is just a natural and normal a part of living in China…It’s embedded in their system of Chinese medicine, their ways of eating, of dressing, keeping good health and taking care of every day things like clothes, shoes, appliances. This is so different from the disposable culture that has developed in the U.S. (and thank goodness is starting to change with movement towards permaculture, sustainability, reducing, reusing and recycling). I was talking with Dr. Zhao the other day about our medical system and how western medicine’s main goal is to keep people alive. It does save lives and is good at that. Yet as a system, it does not consider the quality of life. So many Americans may be living longer lives but with more medications, more chronic illness, more obesity than ever before. Our medical system may be keeping people alive, but for what? What about creating, promoting sustaining great health and vibrancy? This is one place where we have so much we can learn from the treasures of China.

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Shaking Qigong in the Clinic! :-D
Earlier this week in the clinic during some of our “down time”, Junling jumped up and started doing some shaking qigong with a big smile on her face. “Ni kan. Wo xiang Kailun.” “Look! I’m like Kailun!” Haha! I jumped up too and we both started shaking and bouncing around the clinic! YAY! Then we did stretching and it looked like a make-shift ballet class for a few minutes as we had our legs stretched out to the side with one foot up on the herbal drawers and leaned our body and arms over on top of our outstretched legs. Then I showed Junling and Lijun both a special stretch for the lower back. So there we were, all with our heads down to the ground, bottoms up in the air and swaying side to side to help open up the lower back region. We would’ve looked super funny if someone happened to come in at that moment! Ha! :)

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It's Dr. Zhao’s Acupressure Book...Again! & Grandmother Wisdom
I love how we are all always sharing with each other and learning together! I love sharing dancing, qigong, yoga, pictures and fun stories with Junling and Lijun, and they share so so so much with me. I learn so much with just how they live their daily lives, maintain their good health and happy hearts, and they also help me a lot with my Chinese medicine studies. For example, on this visit I’m focusing more on acupressure, studying the pressure points and various tui na methods. Dr. Zhao again gave me a book to read (in Chinese of course :)). This is the same book he has given me to read my last 2 visits. The first visit in 2010, however, I was busy just absorbing from all angles -- especially in the herbal department in just how to recognize hundreds of herbs, find them in the tiny drawers with the tinier Chinese characters, learn how to semi-gracefully measure out the herbs for prescriptions AND then wrap these sometimes huge piles of dried herbs (as 15-20 different kinds of herbs can be put on these rather SMALL square piece of paper) into tidy little packages tied in a neat twine bow. While it all sounds super easy, it is anything but easy – especially when learning! Just read my hilarious blog article on the Art of Chinese Herbal Scales and Package Bows from my first 2-month internship on this task and you will see how it is quite an art! :-D So, that was just one of many tasks I was absorbing and learning in my first 2-month internship.

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In my second study session with Dr. Zhao last year, he again gave me this book and told me to read it. I did read about 3 pages…or maybe that is even a generous statement. I just remember it taking me 30 minutes to get through a paragraph as I was following my grandmother’s advice from when I was a young girl and looking up every character I didn’t recognize…and being that this book has many medical terms I wasn’t familiar with…well, I was looking up so many words!! And, as I do love to learn, each time I look up a word/character on my handy ipod, my nifty dictionary gives me examples of how to use that character in various sentences and what other words are made by using this character in combination with other characters. Well!! Then I get so excited about learning all these new words and start writing them down…and 10 minutes later I get back to reading the 2nd half of the 1stsentence in the 1st paragraph! So while I may be learning a lot…oh it is so slow. So ….after one morning session of looking at that book….I,… well, I quietly put it down and didn’t say anything to Dr. Zhao about it :). I love the herbs and invested more of my time in learning them in my last visit.

BUT here I am again in my 3rd study internship with Dr. Zhao, and here again he has given me this same book to read. So, I’ve decided to, after 3 times of being handed this book, to actually read it. AND, I’m so excited!!!! Somehow I’m actually able to read it! Yes, I still read slow and am looking up characters in my nifty ipod, BUT I’m actually understanding the book! I’ve read 3 chapters in the last 3 days! Oh My Gosh! This is exciting for me, and my sisters are also cheering me on. Anytime I have questions on the methods that are being described, they come over and demonstrate the methods on me! :) So I’m learning AND get massaged at the same time! :-D

Don’t Be Nervous! :)
I’ve also started the practice of asking Dr. Zhao each day if I can give him a treatment. This action is also a direct result of my sisters’ encouragement to “zhudong ” – take initiative. :) Dr. Zhao usually does ask me to do a treatment from time to time for me to practice and to get tips from him, and….well, I often get really nervous! It’s winter here so I am usually wearing lots of clothes under my clinic apron, BUT each time I’m called to give a treatment it’s like all of a sudden the invisible heaters are turned on. I start sweating and feel like I’m ridiculously over dressed! Now though, since I’ve decide to focus more on my treatment skills and acupressure studies, I’m making a point to practice everyday and to get as much feedback from Dr. Zhao as possible …even though I get nervous! BUT, the great thing is Dr. Zhao is so great!!! :) Yesterday I asked if I could give him a treatment and he agreed. Once I started, he started practicing his English phrases I’ve been teaching him at the same time. He said, “Don’t be nervous”…and we both laughed. He started giving me tips, instructions with his English phrases and we were both delighted. I love teaching him English because he just beams and gets so happy! And somehow with him practicing his English and our consistent laughing, I also relax, AND I am able to give a better treatment. Yay! Yesterday one of Dr. Zhao’s long-time patients and friends came by and Dr. Zhao had me give her a treatment. Yay! While I was still nervous, I also felt excited. Dr. Zhao watched over while I worked and gave me some tips in English :), and then stood behind me too and started doing the same technique on my back that I was about to do on the patient …so I could directly experience it, and then transfer that experience to this lovely woman on the table. Yay!

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This woman is delightful, and at the end of the treatment she exclaimed she felt much better. Oh yay!  

“Wo Zhong” ~ “I’m Capable”
Well today I had a not-so-successful story. I went in to watch Dr. Zhao working with a patient, and instead of having me watch, he handed his massage cloth over to me and said, “Kailun, ni zuo. Ni gei ta anmo.“ “Here Kailun, you do it. You can give her a treatment.” Oh! So, I went ahead, took the cloth and gave her a treatment. At the end, however, she said her shoulder still hurt,…so I did some more acupressure and massage, though I could tell she still was feeling discomfort when I was done. Phooey. I really wanted to help her. I went back into the “herbal dispencary room” to continue reading “my book” Dr. Zhao has given me to read, and felt sad. My “sisters” were there too filling capsules with some of Dr. Zhao’s herbal formulas to be bottled up for patients. I told them “wo hoaxing meiyou bangzhu ta” “I feel I wasn’t able to help her.” :( They could tell I felt sad and Junling just chimed in, “Kailun, ni bu yao zheyang. Ni yao shuo – ‘wo zhong. Wo zhong. Wo xing.’” “Kailun, no don’t be like this. You must think, “I’m good. I’m capable and competent.” Haha! Yes! I immediately started laughing. She’s right. She’s sharing conscious language in action with me :-D. I’m learning and have a STEEP learning curve, and “wo zhong” –that’s Henan dialect for “wo xing” or “I’m capable.” :)

Delightful Tofu Skin and Jade Surprises
So only a few minutes after this change of mood, the delightful woman I treated yesterday came back. I liked her immediately when I met her yesterday. As I mentioned she’s a long-time friend of Dr. Zhao’s and after the treatment yesterday, we all started talking of meditation and she shared about her practice – she meditates each morning from 4-6 a.m.! She hopped onto the treatment table and sat in full lotus to show us some beautiful mudras she uses. She has a very bright spirit and I like her :)! Well, needless to say, I was happy to see her come back today! As a way to express her thanks and appreciation to her dear friend and doctor, she came bustling into our clinic door today with several big bags of goodies! Oh my gosh! I was in the herbal room when she arrived and Dr. Zhao said, “Kailun, lai lai.” “Karen, come, come.” I quickly went in as she was eagerly showing Dr. Zhao all the goodies she brought…about 4 different bags of mushrooms and veggies, and then Dr. Zhao showed me with a big smile on his face a huge bag of “dou pi” “dried tofu skin.” He knows I love this as I ate LOTS of it when he’d cook and share his amazing food with me in Seattle in the summer of 2009. He was holding up a big piece of it with a jolly smile on his face and said, “Kailun, women mingtian zhongwu chi zhege.” “Kailun, tomorrow we’ll eat this for lunch!” Yay! :-D

Gosh all of that was so sweet of her! Well, it was time for her treatment so Dr. Zhao told me to go ahead and treat her again. But, before she even got on the table she reached into her pockets and pulled out, not one but 3 pieces of jade jewelry!! What?! Oh my gosh!!!! She was giving this to me! She is so amazing! Dr. Zhao loves jade and he immediately came over to inspect the gifts too. One piece is a beautiful jade fish made out of ….a very special kind of jade (phooey! I wish I could remember the name Dr. Zhao used for it! This is why it’s good for me to have my little notebook with me at all times…so I can write these things down :)). Dr. Zhao said “Kailun, this necklace is worth $50-$80 in the U.S. Look you’re already getting paid more than me!” and he laughed. Oh my goodness!! People are so so generous here!

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Oh my goodness! So much goodness here!! The other night it was time to sleep but I was feeling so excited! I just kept dancing around in my room, even though I turned off the music, shut down my computer, and got into my PJs. I was still dancing as I brushed my teeth and hopped around the room in preparations for sleep. I am soooo happy!!! And I so LOVE sharing with you the Goodness here.

I’ll be sharing more about the patients coming in the clinic too in future updates. This is a beautiful baby I met with his parents the other day. The parents first brought in their baby when he was newly born as he had a bad case of jaundice (xinsheng er huang dan 新生儿黄疸). After just drinking 3 bags of cooked herbs, he was completely well.

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Thank you again for joining me on my journey and learning here in CHINA!!
And thank you so much for your emails. I LOVE hearing from you!! :-)

Much Much LOVE to you all.
Love and Joy,
Kailun 凯伦

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