I have recently discovered an excellent way to slow myself down while practicing taiji. Last week I went to yard with the intent to do some taiji but there were several guys playing basketball on the half-court which is where I usually do my practice because it’s level and smooth. Since the court was being used I went to the middle of the north side of the yard where it’s an open field of grass. Now, the ground isn’t very smooth there as the grass grows in clumps with dips between them but that’s just an added challenge to “stepping like a cat” as Gary would say. *chuckle* The grass had been cut a week or so before so it was short enough that the clover had grown back taller and was in bloom which filled the field with a wonderful scent…and attracted a couple dozen butterflies. Most were colored like monarchs only smaller and there were a few bright yellow ones. The yellow ones were quite hyper and flighty but the mini-monarchs were quite laid back and relaxed, slowly opening and closing their wings as they fed off the clover. It was in the middle of this aromatic field filled with literally dozens of butterflies that I did the long form and I made it my goal to not disturb any of the butterflies as they were there first.
Gary had always said that the long form should take from 20 min. on the low end to as long as 40 but the best I had done before was barely above 30. By moving so slowly that I didn’t scare away any butterflies I managed to do a 33 min. long form easily and I was able to get within 2 feet of some butterflies as I did Brush Knee. Earlier this week I practiced in the field again. The clover was still in bloom and the butterflies were still feeding. My long form was 35 min. and I was able to get within 6 inches of some butterflies. At the end I did the traditional salutation that a student would give a teacher and thanked them for their help. It was quite calming and peaceful practicing in such beauty. *smile*
The past few weeks I have also been practicing with my eyes closed, though only on the court. The first time I tried the long form I was amazed at how unsteady my balance was which not only affected my kicks but even my “taiji stepping.” I suspect Gary wouldn’t approve of practicing blind as you should always keep your eyes on you opponent but I am doing it regularly in an attempt to improve my balance even more than taiji already has.
On a slightly less uplifting note, yesterday we found out what TSCI’s plans are for the solar eclipse on Monday the 21st. Over a month ago I had written the warden suggesting that since only 1/3 of housing unit 1 would have yard at the time of the eclipse they should allow those who want to see it to sign up to go out at that time. After all a total solar eclipses with Tecumseh in the path of totality is definitely a once in a lifetime educational and cultural opportunity, something they should promote for incarcerated people. They wrote back that “TSCI will be putting out a notice to staff and inmates regarding this event.” My first reaction was that I was glad to possibly have motivated them to plan an “event” for the eclipse but as I reread it I began to wonder why it was so vague. Maybe they hadn’t finalized plans yet…or maybe they were planning something they didn’t want to tell me. I patiently waited for their notice, which arrived as a memo posted on the bulletin board last night. Starting at our 10:30 count the entire institution will be put in lockdown just like if there had been a riot. We will even be given sack lunches rather than being let out of our cells until the whole thing is over. *sigh* I guess that will teach me; I should read the most pessimistic interpretation possible into anything the admin. says. How disappointing.
Another disappointment was the response I got from CSORT a bit ago. The Clinical Sex Offender Review Team (CSORT) reviews all people convicted of sex offenses to determine what programming they must complete to earn parole. I had written them earlier asking if my case would be reviewed in time for me to get onto the waiting list and through whichever program they referred me to before my parole eligibility date (PED). It is quite common for sex offenders to not even be considered for parole because CSORT takes so long to review their cases that they are not able to get into and complete the required program in time. I wanted to start pressuring them early to review my case so I could get whatever programming they require done in time to earn parole at my PED. Their first response was basically “we can’t say” so I waited a couple of months and wrote again with a detailed timeline for when I needed to be reviewed by if I was to stand a chance of earning parole at my PED.
Their response this time was more informative but not optimistic. They said “Though I cannot predict when you will be screened, the timeline you are suggesting appears unlikely.” Given that NDCS is statutorily required to “provide adequate access or availability to mental health therapy prior to the first parole eligibility date” (Neb. Rev. Stat. Sec. 83-1,110.01) I will now have to decide if I want to hire Jeremy Jorgensen, an old college friend, or Rob Crieger, a big name lawyer, to file a lawsuit against the prison system. I’m already finding other people who might be willing to join in the lawsuit. I’ll bet if it weren’t sex offender specific the ACLU would be willing to pick it up. *sigh*