Counting elephants in Kenya—not your typical everyday activity! But Jenny loves travel and that’s where she had her most recent adventure. She spent two weeks in the nature parks in Kenya roaming the tundra in search of wild elephants. Jenny has multiple sclerosis, but you can tell she doesn’t like to let it slow her down!    

Today Jenny was waiting to share her Chi Kung adventures with a group of therapists gathering to hear me talk about how Chi Kung can benefit people with disabilities. As we sat waiting, a grin spread across her face and she said, “You know what I did last Friday?” 

“No, tell me!” I said in anticipation. 

“I bought a pair of hiking boots!” 

“Really!” 

“Yeah!  I haven’t had a pair for years!  I used to hike all over India and Africa, but a few years ago I started stumbling.  We finally figured out that it was because I have MS.  And I haven’t done that kind of hiking for a long time.”

“Wow! So what happened with the boots?”

“It’s what I’ve been learning in Chi Kung class.  I started becoming a lot more aware of my body and what I’m doing and how I’m standing. I’m always standing on my right leg and didn’t realize that I can’t pick it up to move it when I’m pushing down on it!  So I figured that out!  I have to distribute my weight equally.”  

“That’s wonderful!” I said. About that time the program was starting, so we turned our attention to our audience. When it was Jenny’s turn to share, she went into more detail. She told how it has been a big help to learn how to “tuck” her hips and open her knees as a way of achieving a stronger, more stable position. Then she “roots” her feet to get a good connection with the ground.  ”Rooting” is an activity that has been producing plenty of excitement in our classes. Lori, who was sitting next to Jenny, was cheering her on because she has her own stories of the power of rooting. Jenny noted how the Chi Kung works together with other strengthening exercise she does in the Sports Center. Thus, Chi Kung is part of an overall program for helping her achieve her goals of becoming stronger and of getting back into doing the things she loves to do—like counting elephants!  Buying the hiking boots was her way of saying, “I’m excited about life!”  

I’m excited for her too!  I remember long years of disability when I thought I would never see my favorite Rocky Mountain trails again. Then, not too long after I started practicing Tai Chi and Chi Kung, I went back on the trail to the Maroon Bells, one of the prettiest places in the world, at least for me, because of the precious memories connected with it. When we have lost something precious, it is that much sweeter when we begin to regain just a little of it again. We feel empowered not just in our physical bodies but also deep in our spirits.  The small victories become beacons of light that lead us on to hope, to believe, to strive for our dreams and to make them come true.

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