Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sacred Terrain, Jumping for Joy, Lessons in Commitment, Honor of a Doctor & English Giggles

Greetings Friends!!!
YAY YAY YAY!!!!! Yes, you guessed it!! It’s that time again for travel updates from CHINA!! :-) I AM SOOOOO EXCITED to be here!!!! And to be here with Dr. Zhao, Ayi, their children and their grand children and to be in the clinic again with Junling and Li Zhun is sooooo soooooo AMAZING!! I love my Chinese family! And I so love China. There is some part of my being and soul that just gets to express itself here that’s different than other places on our planet. It is so different here, yet we all share the same humanness and love and draw to human kindness, smiles and the most powerful force in the Universe, Love.

Sacred Terrains
Sometimes I feel sad when in the cities and seeing all the pollution, destruction we as a human family have created on our planet. Yet I also believe there is an underlying perfection in all that’s being expressed in our current times.  When on the train to Zhengzhou last week, we passed through different terrains,…city terrain, farm lands, industrial factories and then places that are a mixture of each…while the skies were hazy with winter’s brownish hue hanging over the landscape, I felt a beauty in it all somehow. China is such a beautiful country with such a rich culture, so much wisdom, mystical teachings that are born out if these Lands. And it is also, similar to the U.S., a land of great juxtapositions. As the landscapes whizzed passed me on my 5.5 hour train ride, I turned my awareness to the land, to its resilience and greatness; regardless of what kind of terrain (factory, city or a combination terrain), Life is present. The train rocks gently side to side as we whizz along; trees are growing, the people are sowing gardens – on any size plot of soil found, goats with their young are happily nibbling on the green shoots sprouting in a field, men and women are bending over to till the soils, old village towns are providing windows to a rich history of the land and how people have lived on it for centuries.

Silent Stones
We pass a small town on the edge of Zhengzhou. It has a mix of old village houses, more modern apartment buildings, local merchant shops, cars parked haphazardly, piles of scrap metals, constructions sites, bridges being built over dug out lands and,…out of the rolling brown hills and haze, in the distance appear 2 giant, wise faces carved in stone! Wow! These faces were most likely carved hundreds of years ago…and are a clear present expression of the sacredness, the history in these stones and the teachings and wisdom of this land, whether there are cities on top of the soil, or farms or open lands. For the first time, I started to see/feel that all land is sacred. I started sending LOVE to all the land around me, before me. It’s so easy for me to feel this immense LOVE when in the Mountains and in the Wilderness, and yesterday I saw I can also send my LOVE to all land, all terrains, including city and industrial terrains.

Coming Home!
And I am so sooo soooo happy to be with Dr. Zhao and Ayi again!! When they came to pick me up at the old Zhengzhou train station, I was so happy, I couldn’t hold it inside. I started jumping up and down and Ayi just kept laughing!! I feel I was smiling with my whole Being!!! I love them so much!! Even though I so LOVE being in our Wild Lands, I find it funny how I just LOVE being here too…in the middle of a big city and all the craziness of traffic – buses, cars, 3-wheeled tiny put-put vehicles, bikes carrying seemingly impossible-heavy loads, pedestrians of all ages walking so relaxed and nonchalantly right in front of us, or the big buses next to us, and some how it all works out. People in some chaotic yet harmonic flow do get to where they’re going. The people here have such a beauty to them. While I often have failed to see much beauty in cities, yesterday I was filled with delight of just being here, with my Chinese family and all diversity of expression this place is and has!

Dr. Zhao and Ayi picked me up in his favorite car (he calls it his “horse” :-)) and we made it back to their apartment. YAY!! Again I jumped up in down, with Ayi laughing – “Wo zai wo Zhongguo jia!” I said “I’m home – finally back to my Chinese home!” I have tears in my eyes just writing this. I can look back now and see the Beauty of Life and how it worked through me and Dr. Zhao, to be able meet him, develop our relationship as his interpreter, then as his student and as friends, and now as family. From the beginning our connection has been from our hearts.

Just say YES!
This week at lunch with Dr. Zhao and Ayi we were talking how we met 5 years ago now. Before meeting Dr. Zhao, while I had been to China a few times and had come especially for a long study and training at Shaolin with my Qigong Grandmaster, I felt in my heart such a strong pull to come to China…for several years but I didn’t have a “landing place” – I didn’t have the “how” figured out as to how I would go back, and what would my purpose would be. Now in looking back, I see the beauty and perfection of how Life gave me exactly what I was looking for and oh so, so., so so much more. All it required was my Trust and my saying Yes. Five years ago, my qigong Grandmaster, Xu Mingtang, brought Dr. Zhao to Seattle to provide some lectures at the annual qigong retreat and Chinese medicine treatments as a way to raise money for our newly founded ZY Qigong non-profit organization. Grandmaster Mingtang casually told me I was to be Dr. Zhao’s interpreter while he was in Seattle for that summer of 2009. “What?!” I thought. I was nervous. “Really? Me?” I wondered if I could do a good enough job, and was also nervous as I was really “busy” – you know, I was still trying to figure out in my heart what was my service? “What I am here to do?” This question often consumed me and in my little mind, and I worried whether I’d have enough “time” to take on such a big responsibility as interpreting for Dr. Zhao, and also helping to facilitate his life in the U.S.

I remember having just met Dr. Zhao the night before our Qigong retreat, and then driving down to the retreat center in Oregon the next day with my dear friend Deb. I was feeling quite anxious and overwhelmed about this whole situation and started explaining to her my dilemma of needing time to “figure out my life!” Haha!! Gosh I am so forever grateful to Deb! In the midst of my explaining and expounding on my own anxiety, Deb stopped me and just looked me in the eyes. She said, “Karen, just say Yes! This is an amazing opportunity. Do you see it? Just say Yes. “ Oh. Her words immediately quieted my mind. I got it. I saw this great opportunity Grandmaster Mingtang basically put in my lap. “Maybe my little mind isn’t supposed to figure every thing out?” I thought. Maybe my job is just to say Yes. say YES to my Life and the Mystery and the opportunities that are given to me, and trust in something greater that is guiding my Life and my soul! Haha!!! At that moment in our car ride something switched in my being and I shifted from fear, into my faith and trust. I said YES!!!! That simple act of saying Yes has opened so many magnificent doors, so many blessings, opportunities, magic. And it has opened the doors for me to receive this amazing, amazing gift of my beloved teacher Dr. Zhao, and my beloved Chinese family.  That summer of working with Dr. Zhao everyday for 6 weeks transformed my life.

A New Way of Learning –Riding the Wave of Heart :-)
I know I have explained this many times before in my blogs and travel updates from my time with Dr. Zhao. I love the richness of my life here. And I love the simplicity. My purpose is to be of service and to study well and to LOVE. While I am studying Chinese medicine, my study also involves a very non-traditional way of learning. With him and his family, I learn with my Heart; I learn through the expansion and radiation of Love from my Being. I could feel this expansion happening even while on the train ride here last learning had already begun. And is it growing each and every day. YAY!!!!!

At lunch time on Thursday this week, Dr. Zhao had a client run in last minute so he told me to go on ahead of time up to his apartment to have lunch with Ayi, as she would be waiting with another wonderful, yum yum meal to share. (YAY!) I went up and we started chatting while she did final stir frying and prep for our delicious meal. We then decided to wait for Dr. Zhao, so we sat on the couch and had a most beautiful time of intimate sharing. I so treasure each and every moment I have with them. I gave Ayi a beautiful blue scarf and explained its meaning and how I have a similar one and how we can think of each other when wearing them…and oh it was so wonderful to see Ayi’s eyes light up! She smiled and said. “Oh you care for me like your Mom!” and then opened her arms for a hug! YAY! (I’m so glad my Chinese family is now used to my desire to give hugs and to give lots of them, since it’s not a common Chinese custom…at all :)) We then talked more and somehow we got on the subject of war. She started telling me about her family and her father…and some of the horrors of World War II and the immense suffering she and many, many Chinese endured during those times. Her father was one of the thousands brutally killed by the Japanese soldiers. On the day the Japanese invaded their village/neighborhood area, everyone ran, fled to the hills. There were not many cars then and not everyone had bicycles either. The young and able could flee, on the freedom and agility of their young limbs and feet. The elderly, however, moved much slower, walking, carrying the little food they could, yet still going in the direction of the hills. Her father didn’t make it, and was rounded up with 20+ other elders in the area and brutally killed. Ayi shared of running to these hills – hills that the locals knew had caves, places they could hide – some of which were probably the very same hills I saw with the stone faces carved in them on my train ride into town. Some were in hiding for 1 and even 2 months. They made some make-shift cooking tools to live off of some cooked grains and noodles. She also spoke with such respect for her Mom, who lived through this and lived to be 106! Even after having Ayi at at 40, she still lived another 66 years! :-) Oh Ayi, her family, these people here are all so resilient, strong, and continue to move forward and live with great love and generosity in their hearts.

The Honor of a Doctor
Oh every moment is precious! And I love continuing my practice of saying YES. I feel coming here is my big Yes and my job now is to show up each day and LOVE. And then trust in the perfection that unfolds. For example, on Tuesday I was in clinic all day and then Dr. Zhao announced we were leaving at 4 p.m. to see a patient Hebi, a town about 2 hour drive away and I was going with him. Yay! Haha! See, one thought could be that “oh, it’s the end of the day. I’d like to just stay home and take a rest.” BUT! Such thoughts can shut the door to an unforeseen opportunity and gift! I eagerly packed my little backpack up at 3:50pm and left with Dr. Zhao to hop in our driver’s car. I know something amazing always happens when I’m with Dr. Zhao. And, I LOVE going to see patients with him. I love witnessing him in his craft and the beauty and honor and integrity he lives by embodying his service as a Doctor so fully. Everywhere he goes, people greatly respect him, and through it all, Dr. Zhao is so humble and kind.

For example, when we arrived at Hebi to treat one of the government officials, our driver, Dr. Zhao and I were all greeted enthusiastically, and then graciously lead into this man’s spacious office with a most beautiful Chinese painting of the stone mountains peaking above the lower hanging fog. This man’s secretary quickly boiled some hot water for us all to drink and then gave Dr. Zhao a big chair and had him sit at the desk to begin feeling this official’s pulses, do his diagnosis and write up a prescription. While writing up the prescription, this government official (I’ll call him Mr. Li – as I don’t remember his name :(..!) already got on this cell phone and started making calls to arrange for a big dinner for us, as he knew we traveled far and it was now dinner time. He also gave both Dr. Zhao and me a beautiful gift bag of very expensive tea leaves! Oh my gosh!!! All I did was sit in the room with Dr. Zhao, smile and chat with the other fellows and drink my hot water!

Dr. Zhao heard the dinner plans and said, no, no – we would just head home, but when Mr. Li, his secretary and another fellow insisted, Dr. Zhao smiled and agreed but only if we ate simply. Of course they wanted to treat him to big dinner with lots of food, cigarettes, liquor. And Dr. Zhao has a way of kindly yet firmly declining these offers that honor the other people too. He somehow accepts and receives fully their generosity (and they in turn feel this acceptance and receive that fulfillment that comes with giving), and at the same time keeps his personal integrity of not smoking or drinking. Yet he has no judgment on others; it is more his honor to his own body/health/temple and staying clean, clear, strong and the conduit of compassion and wisdom that he is as his commitment to being the best Doctor he can be.

Even the other day in the clinic, I came to ask him a question and he (in our down time between clients) was reciting his gejues  (these are Chinese poems that rhyme and they are used for meridians, herbal formulas, etc)  He was focusing on the 22 formulas for bu-- formulas that nourish and tonify. He memorized this whole book of formulas in late teens/early twenties and continues to review them.  Dr. Zhao has a living relationship with this Medicine. It is in his blood and bones. Never uses a book when writing formulas…it in his heart.

Commitment of Two Friends
On Friday after lunch with Dr. Zhao and Ayi (another AMAZING home-cooked meal :-D!!), I had some time to chat with Ayi again as Dr. Zhao used his “rest” time to go see a patient in the hospital. She was telling me more of their history. Earlier in the week she told me of her dear father, of the war, and of their fleeing to the hills. Today she told me more about her early years with Dr. Zhao. She shared that from the time he was a young boy of 12 or 13, he started taking it upon himself to study this amazing system of medicine. His grandfather was a famous and well-known, respected Chinese doctor, and Dr. Zhao, as a young lad started to study with him. As I mentioned in one of my previous blogs from 2010, doctor Zhao’s “probable” path was that of being a “gong ren” a laborer, a worker. At the age of 17, however, he and one of his best friends took their fate in their own hands and made an inner commitment with each other as their support and witness. Dr. Zhao committed to being a Doctor, and not just any doctor….but the very Best Doctor he could be. Medicine, Zhong Yi (中医Chinese Medicine) was his calling. His friend, his passion was art. And he too made his inner commitment to be an Artist. The two of them have supported and seen each other in their Mastery from the beginning.

Ayi continued saying, “Ta hen neng gan”…He is extremely capable.” It was hard when their 2 kids were young. Dr. Zhao was just building his practice. They always “keyi chi bao” - had enough to eat, but life was not easy. Together they made a garden, and grew their own veggies to feed the family. Dr. Zhao worked hard. He would bike to the local library 2 nights/week to research, find and read old Chinese medicinal essays. If “bingren hai meiyou huifu hao,” if after some time of treatment, one of his patients didn’t fully recover, he’d take him or her to his Grandfather and have him help them. He learned this medicine first hand, and now has over 45 years of experience. Dr. Zhao can see anyone…nothing (no sickness) scares him. Slowly over time he built up he success.  And now he is very successful and deeply respected throughout China and by many around our Planet.

Harmony and Happiness Flows
There is so much harmony and happiness that flows within his humble clinic rooms and then out into our world. I love seeing and meeting the variety of people -- young mothers with their infants, retired soldiers, adult children with their elderly parents, boyfriends coming with their girlfriends, young high school students who are eager to speak English...yet also quite shy!, and so many more beautiful people! 

English Giggles!
On Saturday his clinic also turned into a English tutoring center :). Several parents came with their children to see Dr. Zhao and they were so excited (and sometimes shy) to see a foreigner. One little girl who lives in the same building as Dr. Zhao, came in with her English book to study with me and we had so much fun!! When we were busy, I’d work with Junling and Lijun to fill herbal prescriptions and this little girl continued to practice reading her English vocab. Every now and then I’d chime in to correct her pronunciation which was promptly followed by her and our other patients’ giggles :).

YAY!!! Thank you so much for making through my first travel update of this trip. I am so honored, humbled and HAPPY to share with you!! Sharing these stories and experiences is one way I can share this AMAZING Love that is coming to you all from this humble, yet magnificent place in Zhengzhou!

The pictures within the email and below include, one with me, Dr. Zhao and Ayi in the clinic giving Dr. Zhao his first English lesson of this visit :) (he learns so fast!!! the next day he had already memorized the 10 phrases we reviewed the day before - he just beams each time he says something in English! :-D). There's one of Ayi cooking one of her many MOST Delicious meals - I'm so fortunate to eat with her and Dr. Zhao and their daughter-in-law Jumin each day! :) There's one of Dr. Zhao treating a patient (and look how HAPPY all the patients in the room are :-D!). Then I took a pic of Dr. Zhao's desk to show the beauty and simplicity computers, big heavy equipment, etc...just a beautiful wooden desk with his pillow for taking pulses, his diagnosis and herbal formula logs for patients (all in paper), and here are some note books he has open for his reviewing and writing. :) The flags in the background are "jinqi" - he has over 60 of them and they are given to him by patients who are cured of avery serious illnesses. The small pic on the desk is one my Mom gave him of Sonoma :) - YAY! I'm so glad my family knows Dr. Zhao too! :) Then there's a pic of Dr. Zhao using his abacus to calculate the cost of herbs - he doesn't use a calculator :). And there's 2 pics of me with a sweet young girl who came in with her parents b/c of a cold. We then starting speaking English so she could practice and had soooo much FUN! :)

The other pics attached include me getting a treatment from one of my "sisters" Lijun :), one of me and my other "sister" Junling (we all work in the "herbal department" together :)), one of me showing how my outfit that day matches the colors of the bright red bike and green lock Dr. Zhao is generously lending to me :), one of me in my clinic apron and this is really for my cousin Sam as he loves the Angry Birds - I wanted to let him know they are super popular here too :-D, and finally I have 2 pics of me having dinner with my great comrades at the hotel I stay at. All the staff eat together at dinner and they've generously allowed me to eat dinner with them too. They are so sweet! When I walked in for dinner the other day, that young vibrant lad in the pic said, "Kailun jiejie, ni gen women yiqi chifan ba. bijiao renao!" "Sister Karen, come eat with us at our table -- it's fun and lively." :-) YAY!

Oh yes! And here's a link to a short video where I share a fun poem Junling taught me about International Women's Day! :) It rhymes so I thought it would be better if I spoke it out loud to you verses just writing it out...I explain it in this short 1-min video :-)
Karen Joy Fletcher has shared a video with you on YouTube
International Women's Day in CHINA! :-D 三八妇女节
Here's a short saying/poem from China about International Women's Day that my two dear friends Jun Ling and LiJun shared with me in Dr. Zhao's clinic today. :) It rhymes, so it's much better if I speak it to you versus just writing it out,... so here it is in the video :-D
And here are the characters...三八妇女节,男人干活女人歇。 :) ♥ ♥ ♥
More info on my travels and studies in China are posted

SO So SO much LOVE to you all!!! :-D !!!!

Much Love and JOY,

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