Saturday, 19 January 2013

WordPress Daily Prompt: Apply Yourself

Describe your last attempt to learn something that did not come easily to you.

As the years go bye, you realise that your physical capabilities as no longer as they used to be. It starts when leave your bed in the morning. I never did actually spring around, but now I have to take a grip on a surface to pull myself up. If you drop something and bend down to pick it up, you notice that just bending down does not work. It has to be worked out with a special strategy, otherwise you might find you cannot stand on your feet again so easy and have to call help from your partner. And when the partner is not there and you are alone - just take a deep breath and hope for the help of a nearbye chair or other support. You notice that you have problems putting on shoes whilst standing up. Help and support is necessary from the wall. Just hold on with your hands and hope you do not lose your balance. Some people may stay fit and healthy all their lives, but not all of us are gifted. I could still take a long walk, go shopping, but things just were not what they used to be.

Learning things has always been a pasttime of mine, almost a hobby. I decided I wanted to learn how to speak Russian, so I reported for a course (which lasted many years, result being that I can still write cyrillic and understand the basics). I wanted to learn Arabic. That was a difficult task. After a year I gave up. I did learn the alphabet and a few words, but all the Arab countries seems to have their own patois.
But now was the time to do something about my physical developments, which were not good, they were just plain bad. I am not the gymnastic sort, would probably have an accident and break something whilst jumping over an object or climbing somewhere.

Then it happened. A cyber acquaintence wrote in a forum how much she enjoyed Tai Chi and whether anyone else practices it. Another cyber acquaintence in the same forum said she had got herself a beginners DVD and found her movements have improved considerably. Of course, I got thinking, was Tai Chi something for me? I knew Tai Chi from the open air demonstrations in various parks in the world. I saw it in Central Park in New York when I was on a one week holiday in New York. I had seen it on various films from the Asian world, mainly China. I ordered the beginners DVD, which I had to have sent to my friend in London as they did not deliver to Switzerland. I found it was not bad and religiously practiced every day for 30 minutes the various exercises. I just loved those slow movements, Just up my street.

Then phase two arrived. I am never satisfied with little, when I can have more, and searched for a Tai Course in the neighbourhood. I almost gave up. I live in Switzerland, as small country admittedly, but we only have a few really big towns where it would be easy to find something. Even our local evening school was not offering Tai Chi. However, I did not give up and entered the words "Tai chi Solothurn" into Google. I was lucky. Switzerland has a lot of organisations from the state supporting various illnesses, and our local Arthritis organisation was offering Tai Chi. They had about three courses going. One in the morning, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. So taken my fitness into my own hands I applied by Internet. I waited a couple of days, and decided Internet was probably not the way to go about it, when I had a telephone call from the lady in charge. She had got my application via Internet and said yes, I could start the next week in the afternoon course, which was what I wanted. I told her I do not have arthritis or anything in that line, but she said that does not matter. The Tai Chi that is practiced is the Sun style and especially developed for not so movable people (which I am), so I was in.

I arrived the following Tuesday afternoon in the exercising rooms in our local town. I had my comforable clothes with me. A t-shirt, nice comfortable leggins and we were told to wear those socks with the non-slip surface underneath. This was no problem. I discovered we were about eight people in our course, all golden oldies like myself. We were all female, although it would not have bothered me if a George Cloone or Brad Pitt lookalike was there, but is seems the men are fitter than the women and do not need Tai Chi.

The lady in charge of us was younger (which is no difficulty, most people are these days) and is a qualifed physio therapist, even a lady doctor, so I was in safe hands. We begin with warm-up exercises, then we learn a sequence. At the beginning I was a bit amateur with this sequence, but two months later, and equipped with two DVDs I nearly have it in the bag. I am now up to our Tai Chi standard. I learned that Dr. Paul Lamm, a Chinese bloke, was the philosophy we follow. His english is a bit Chinese, but my fellow Tai Chi colleagues are all Swiss ladies, not knowing the english language except for one. She is actually Irish and had the good luck to marry a Swiss bloke, like myself, although we mainly speak German for the benefit of the others.

I started last year in November and have now been going three months and have not missed a Tuesday afternoon. I love it. I practice every day at home for about forty minutes from my DVD. Yes I do feel the benefit. Even the lady in charge says I have made progress. Of course I am still a bit shaky when standing on one leg, but I do have now more confidence. I also find the breathing exercise very good and help you to relax more. I am now an expert of  "Lesiurely Tying Coat" which is the sequence we are learning. I am now two thirds through and Mr. Swiss finds it super the way I master the movements. So here is a YouTube film of what I am learning. It is not complete, only the first half. I would emphasise it is not our group, but just a group that has a video on YouTube, but it will give you an idea of what I am up to. The music in the background is also the music we play when we practice.


  1. Last thing I recall having difficulty learning was the Swedish language. This is still a little baffling to me, as I'm usually fairly good at picking up (Western) languages, but I just seemed to have a mental block with Swedish.

  2. Mr. Swiss worked for volvo as his last job. He was the logistic manager in Switzerland and often had to go to Göteborg for meetings and so had a lot of contact with the Swedish. He did not exactly pick up the language, but told me a few peculiarities. For example that the definite article is hung onto the noun. The house = huset (ett hus) strange for us.

  3. Just by co-incidence, when I lived in Sweden, I lived in a town just a few kms north of Göteborg. An added problem I had was the politeness of the Swedish people!! I asked friends if when they were conversing they could speak in their native language so that it forced me to practice and learn, but out of natural politeness they often lapsed into English, not wanting to leave me out of the conversation!! LOL.

  4. I have often thought of learning Thai Che but never got around to it. I am active thank goodness but do have a problem with my lungs. I think it would be fine for me to learn.

    Good on you Pat for taking charge of what happen to you. I know how hard that alone can be.