After leaving my baking job at Staff of Life, I spent the next several years developing my Tai Chi classes in Santa Cruz and worked as a massage therapist in a chiropractor’s office. Sid and I continued dating and eventually moved in together. He decided to quit his job as a mechanical engineer in San Jose and jumped into teaching Tai Chi full time. Our large Tai Chi group extended from Mendocino to Santa Cruz. We had regular workshops and seminars with Mr. Chang and Joe Deisher, creating lasting friendships in our Tai Chi family.
The art that I worked on was confined to creating graphics and posters on an early version of the Macintosh, and silk screening shirts for the Tai Chi Natural Heal Club. Sid and I were both self-employed, loved what we were doing, and were able to eek out a living.
Hand drawn dragon logo cut and pasted on a Mac made flyer for Tai Chi demo, mid 1980’s.
Toward the end of the 80s, I decided I needed to have a stronger career. I was in my mid thirties, and felt it was now or never. Studying Chinese medicine seemed to be an obvious choice. I lived a few blocks away from the school that offered a Masters Degree in TCM (traditional Chinese medicine), and I was excited to go deeper into the study of Qi, the essence of the art that I had been learning to cultivate in practicing Tai Chi. I needed to fulfill some science requirements and spent a year at the local community college studying chemistry, physics, anatomy and physiology. I loved being back in school and aced all my courses.
The following year, I began a 4 year program at Five Branches Institute. They were the hardest 4 years of my life. I was 36, still working 20 hours a week, and couldn’t stay up late up late into the night studying like I had in my early 20s. When practicing Tai Chi in the park, in the fresh air and around the trees and ocean, surrounded by friends, I was in bliss. I was absolutely shocked my first year in school, sitting in windowless rooms, under fluorescent lights, trying to understand the Chinese doctors explain the different types of bodily fluids and processes that would gross you out if I gave you the details.
I stuck it out for 4 years, with Sid’s amazing support, as well as my family and friends cheering me on. I passed my boards and opened a practice. I was truly exhausted by that point and slowly nourished myself as I nourished my new practice. Sid and I got married the next year. We got an amazing dog, that we named Farfel.
Farfel was a good dog, and awfully talented!
All the parts seemed to be in place. I had meaningful work with my Tai Chi classes and acupuncture practice. I was a happy newlywed, and was finally getting my energy back. Life should have felt great, but it didn’t. I had this nagging feeling that something was missing, but couldn’t put my finger on it. This nagging frustration lasted for a few years. Then, in May, 1999, everything changed. My life was on a precipice, I was hanging in the balance . . . and then . . .
Coming up next . . . my epiphany!
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