Trying something new can be dangerous

It's Never Too LateJune 1, 2014 

The sword came in a very long box. As I took off the wrapping and lifted it out of the carton, I could imagine members of the ancient Chinese Imperial Guard in their padded uniforms, moving about with confident steps and menacing anyone in sight.

I won’t be doing that. I’m just trying to develop a little core strength and flexibility. I have begun studying the tai chi sword form. Very good for the elderly, one description says. My sword is made of wood and that’s a good thing.

My teacher, the Inscrutable Gary, is as always, very patient and kind. To tell the truth though, I think he may be a little apprehensive. He stays well out of my way when I swing my sword. But then, everyone else does that, too. I have studied tai chi for five years, consistently displaying the same incredible aptitude I’ve shown in learning dancing, singing and playing chess; absolutely none. Still, everyone progresses, even me. I decided it was time to move to the next level. So I ordered the authentic sword from Amazon, where else?

My mother believed that for a long, happy life it is important to learn something new every day. I ruled out roller blading and I can’t get my leg over the Harley any more, it’s got to be tai chi.

The starting position of the sword form is with the sword held in the left hand, facing front, the point just at the shoulder. Then with a clever twist of the wrist, which I haven’t a prayer of accomplishing, the blade swishes around to the back.

You see the problem. This was designed for men. If one has any protuberances on their front, they’re in danger. Although time has stolen a great deal from me, it has left my protuberances intact and I’d like to keep them.

The publication of Harvard Medical School, found at  / HarvardTaiChi, outlines the many benefits of tai chi, from reducing pain to easing a large number of physical problems and diseases. Because the muscles are relaxed, not tensed, it’s suitable even for people recovering from surgery or for people who have previously shown no aptitude whatever for absolutely anything.

After a practice session with my sword, it seemed a good thing to blend a delicious healthy drink. So I unboxed the smoothie blender that’s been sitting on my counter for a month. You can’t rush good health. I used strawberries, bananas, added a few leaves of torn up kale, an avocado, a bit of spinach.

The interesting thing is that it’s nowhere near as bad as you’d think. Actually I made another one with only frozen raspberries and two leaves of kale and it was terrible. However, just as I was getting into the possible combinations, I read that too much kale can cause kidney stones and spinach can cause thyroid problems. I don’t know whether to give up smoothies or stop reading.

For Mother’s Day, I was given a lovely pendant created by a brown bear at the Minnesota Zoo. My amazing daughter-in-law who chose it for me, explained that exactly how the bear creates art is a closely guarded secret. I imagine the bear, going into his cave, sitting down, adjusting his glasses and turning out a masterpiece with his plump little bear paws. His mother probably told him to keep moving and doing new things, too.

Spring is here and summer’s knocking on the door. I was outraged this morning to be awakened by the sound of someone banging on metal outside my door. “Neighbors!” I thought grimly throwing open the door and getting ready to yell. It turned out to be a red-headed woodpecker, working on the No Parking sign and totally ignoring the wooden pole and tree trunks. What optimism! What confidence! I’ve been told it was probably a mating call. Louder is better apparently and you don’t know until you try.

My grandson’s coming to visit soon. We’re all excited to share new adventures. He’ll be able to recognize my car because I’m going to have one of those magnetic signs made. It will say, “Caution! Tai Chi Granny on Board”

It’s nearly time for my sword practice. You may want to clear the area.

You try something new, and let us know how it goes.

Dorothy Wilhelm’s website and blog is Contact her at 800-548-9264, P.O. Box 881, DuPont, WA 98327, or

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