Overcoming Impossibilities

Hello! I am a Riser. Like many of you, I have faced seemingly impossible odds in my search for a healthy and fulfilling life. I have had my share of victories--and also a lot of struggles and even failures along the way. I have learned to keep on believing, keep on trying, keep on rising, no matter how bad things may seem to be. I know there are many of you out there who are also facing your own giants and who have that rising power in you. Sharing our stories is one way we can build the power of life that keeps us going, keeps us growing,  keeps us reaching out for healing and wholeness for ourselves and for others. 

Here is a little bit of my story. I hope you will become a member of Rising UP! and share yours too!

I have recovered from severe disability caused by multiple sclerosis, a disease I have had for over 45 years. Once I was so weak I used a wheelchair and electric scooter. I could not stand for more than five minutes and could not even sit up straight for more than fifteen minutes. Now I am healthy and active and enjoy a vibrant life with my family and in service to others. 

I learned during the years of my recovery that we often take shelter in safe, familiar habits; we shield ourselves inside our protective boundaries. Sometimes our safe places can actually become our prisons, holding us bound in disease and disability. In order to find the healing we seek, we must reach out beyond our comfort zones.

I once believed that Western medicine is the only effective way to achieve wellness and recover from disease and disability. As a conservative Christian, I was not open to healing from another culture. When my sons took me to Tai Chi-Qigong class, I thought these ancient Chinese arts were strange and foreign—and certainly not Christian! Surprisingly, they soon became an essential part of my recovery, and I learned about the great gifts God has given other cultures for the benefit of all humanity. I am still a Christian and an ordained minister, and I now also teach Tai Chi-Qigong, specializing in classes for those with disabilities, a joyous adventure I could not previously have imagined. Not only did I receive healing, but I also discovered that ancient Chinese Christians probably also did Qigong. I have built a healing bridge between East and West in body, mind and spirit.

 We all need to build bridges. What is yours?

 Multiple Sclerosis at Age 19

I grew up in an all-white rural community in the Midwest, spending my early years on a farm. When I was nineteen years old, I had my first attack of multiple sclerosis while on a college drama tour.

I recovered, but as I finished college and got married, there were more signs of an unstable nervous system. At age thirty- seven I was largely paralyzed from the neck down and spent several weeks in a hospital and nursing home.

Disability

Over the next fourteen years I experienced repeated attacks, sometimes as many as six a year, resulting in increasing disability and paralysis. I used a wheelchair and then an electric scooter, and we eventually purchased a van with a wheelchair lift. My children grew up helping Mom, pushing me in a wheelchair and managing my scooter. My lower left side became paralyzed and seriously atrophied, with the left calf about one-quarter the size of the right one. I had little control over the left hip and leg and could not flex at the ankle, knee or hip. My doctor attributed these disabilities to lesions on my brain that were documented by MRI.

In this 1989 photo I am in an electric scooter, accompanied by three of my four sons.

During my illness, I was ordained as a handicapped female in a Southern Baptist church, a position for which I had no role models and for which I had to forge a new path of ministry.

At one point I was in such serious condition that my pastor came to help prepare me to die. I thought there was nothing I could do to help myself except follow doctor’s orders and pray with all my heart for a miracle.

A Remarkable Healing

My oldest son took me to Tai Chi class and introduced me to Tai Chi master Bruce Moran at a time when things seemed hopeless. For me, going to Tai Chi class was about as bizarre as going to the moon. As a Christian, I was suspicious of Eastern practices, but I saw that the movements were slow and healing, and I decided I would try it. I sat in the back row of the class on a stool and waved my arms because I could not stand for any length of time.

On March 31, 1996, at a Tai Chi class on Palm Sunday, Sifu Bruce used his amazing skill in bodywork to unparalyze my left side. He did it in twenty minutes. He said, “The problem is not in your head, it’s in your hip. I just released your sciatic nerve and lined up your bones so they can function.” Who ever heard of anyone doing a thing like that! Nevertheless, the nerves in my left side began to turn back on. This remarkable experience set me on a new path of healing that has changed every part of my life.

As I began the long, difficult process of rehabilitating my body, I discovered that getting well was much more difficult than getting sick. 


Rehabbing with Bruce Moran: A long hard journey!

My Tai Chi Master, Bruce Moran, played a crucial role in my recovery. I went to Tai Chi classes three times a week for about fourteen years, each class being 2 to 2 1/2 hours long. During these classes I learned essential Tai Chi and Qigong skills and began to feel my body healing from the inside out.

In addition, class members often went out to eat together and share other social occasions during which we shared our mutual challenges and healing wisdom and experience.

My teachers and classmates became my friends and healing companions in a long, difficult journey. As a disabled person, I learned to adapt many of the movements and skills so they would work for me on a daily basis. Many years later, Sifu Moran certified me as a Qigong teacher, recognizing my unique perspective and my Christian background as being valuable in reaching audiences that are often not addressed in traditional Tai Chi-Qigong settings. I have drawn on my years of training with Sifu Moran, Sifu Ed Gierut, Certified Teachers Michael Farrar and Christopher Randle, as well as advanced students, to develop my own approach to teaching seniors and those with disabilities, also integrating teachings from the wider international Tai Chi and Qigong community. I am deeply indebted to Sifu Moran and to my other teachers and Tai Chi companions who have shared my journey. 

My Teachers, Sifu Ed Gierut, Michael Farrar, and Sifu Bruce Moran--and me.

My Spiritual Mentor, Shanta Premawardhana

One of the greatest struggles I had, in addition to my physical recovery, was the development of understanding about how my Christianity and my remarkable healing with Tai Chi have all been a great gift of God. The primary person who helped me with this was Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, my pastor and friend, and an expert in dialogue among various faiths and philosophical systems. Shanta eventually ordained me to Christian ministry, and I worked with him as an associate pastor of Ellis Avenue Church in Chicago for five years. I learned that healing occurs on all levels, physical, emotional and spiritual.  I am deeply grateful to him for his wisdom and insight and gentle yet powerful mentoring.

I have chronicled some of my many healing adventures in Rising UP! My Recovery from Multiple Sclerosis, Disability and Despair, which is available on Amazon.com and at other venues.


Life with Joy!

Today I am healthy and fit. I stand straight and tall, no longer bent and collapsed as I was before. I fit into my wedding dress (forty-five years and five babies ago). I walk with a limp that is improving as I continue restoring function through daily exercise, Tai Chi and bodywork. I enjoy travel, hiking with my trekking poles and working out. I recently took a trip to the Gobi Desert in China and had a long ride on a camel!

I used natural therapies alongside of traditional approaches for a period of years but have taken no drugs since 1998, maintaining my health since that time by natural means.

Life is good. I live a normal life, currently making my living by doing private educational consulting and tutoring, in addition to my writing. I have put the skills I learned in recovery into practice by teaching Tai Chi Tao and Qigong classes, specializing in work with those who have disabilities

I have four married sons and five grandchildren and look forward to the future with joy. 

During my recovery, I longed to share with others who were also struggling, to gain their wisdom and encouragement to keep on rising in the face of seemingly impossible odds. It is my hope that this website will help you find community and strength to live, grow, heal and hope for a brighter future.

 

Become a Rising UP! member today and share your story!

 Blessings!

Anna


"Rising UP! My Recovery from Multiple Sclerosis, Disability and Despair"

A Story of Triumph over Impossibilities.

Available on Amazon and in many digital formats. 

Click here for Rising UP!


       Copyright by Anna York


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