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SHWI do Thai Chi

My first meeting of the year, and the first I had been to since November owing to Christmas do’s and work overruns, I was excited to get my Tai Chi on with David Lipka from Mindful Tai Chi.  When I say excited, what I mean is that I was looking forward to an evening of relaxation with my favourite ladies, to going home in a floaty like state to my bed where I would have the best night’s sleep ever, a full night’s sleep is something I get very excited about as it so rarely happens!

Before we got started with some relaxation shenanigans, we welcomed a large number of guests as we decided to spread the love by inviting members to bring a friend along to our Galentines Day special meeting; a number of our guests have gone on to part with their cash and join us on a full-time basis so we must be doing something right.  Laura and Bex completed the WI business in record time, we marvelled at our SHWI merchandise store (more of a camping table) ‘manned’ by the beautiful Anna Tebble pedalling our SHWI related wares including our charity Christmas cards, OK its 10 months away but you can never be too organised can you??

We were also excited with the inaugural use of out iZettle card payment machine, a revolutionary purchase which will hopefully mean our future sales at Sheffield Food Festival and other events will be much higher as we can take contactless payments as well as cash, it’s a win win situation, imagine being able to pay your WI annual subscriptions by another method other than cash or cheque, it’s the future.

Following a quick pit stop for tea and cake, we got moving the chairs in the Church to create a circle for our Tai Chi experience with David’s velvety voice which sounded like a Jackanory story teller (familiar, soothing and relaxing) giving us directions as we got settled for an hour of relaxation heaven.  As I volunteered to write the blog I didn’t sit within the circle so that I could make some notes and observations and this is where I realised that my legs are considerably shorter than they perhaps ought to be….

David started his demonstration by asking us what we knew about Tai Chi, my own personal experience was Helen Daniels on Neighbours back in the day wafting about in her front garden in pink pyjamas with Brett Stark – ridiculously, I can’t remember what happened yesterday but this is a very vivid image of my teenage years and has totally checked out on the Neighbours episode guide from 1995.

He asked whether we had invited him to the meeting because of the WI connection?  Cue a lot of blank faces until he reminded us of the ladies in Calendar Girls going Tai Chi on the moors in Yorkshire, whilst we could claim this was exactly the reason we had invited him, it was more that we are all more aware of being kinder to ourselves and Tai Chi seemed like a decent introduction to another element of self-care that some of us may not have considered.

David asked for what words immediately sprung to mind when thinking of Tai Chi – grace, community, wafting hands, baggy trousers, relaxation we all words our ladies came up with and hopefully we demonstrated some of this as he took us through his approach to the conscious awareness of movement.  He took us through starting positions of sitting well, this is where I found my feet don’t quite reach the floor if I sit correctly on a chair, I am 40 years old and have only just found out this fact. He spoke to us about relaxing the body and postural relaxation from sitting still, this is a concept that is alien to me as I am always on the go, so I found the sitting still, correctly and relaxed to be hugely beneficial, but then events within our group that evening took a different turn and with her permission, I will now write about my good friend Holly.

Holly is a long-standing member of SHWI, is married to Pep with a new son Enzo, who is 8 months old, Holly is also epileptic.  Diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy at 22 years of age, Holly has been open about her condition with us, her friends at SHWI, we have been with her when she has had a focal seizure, also known as a complex-partial seizure, where she appears to be spaced out and vacant, she usually recovers in 10 minutes or so and although tired afterwards she rarely injures herself.  At our February meeting Holly had a tonic-clonic seizure which is probably what a lot of people think of when they think of epilepsy, Holly knew that she was going to have a seizure and had alerted another friend Emma of how she was feeling, very quickly things deteriorated and Holly was on the floor convulsing and biting her cheek which resulted in a bloody mouth; this continues for what seemed like a lifetime but was probably only minutes. 

We are fortunate that a number of our new members in 2018 are Doctors and they were all in attendance that night and helped us to help Holly – thank you all for your assistance which was gratefully received!   Getting Holly home to Pep and Enzo was an interesting way to end the night, as she was still quite confused and refused to get in the car unless she could cuddle Bex who had been cradling her as she regained consciousness, but got her home we did to her fabulous husband who took great care of her. 

Holly made a video a year or so ago about epilepsy which I think is useful to share again, she also had her Emergency Details saved in her Health App on her iPhone which meant I could get in touch with Pep to tell him what had happened and reassure him she was OK and we would bring her home; this is something that I hadn’t got set up in my phone but this was rectified immediately when I got home that night. 

When we got back to the Church the Tai Chi demonstration was all but over, and the number of dreamy like faces around the room told me that the evening had been a great success; everyone was concerned about Holly but were reassured she was fine and that she will be back at SHWI in March when our fabulous member Ellie Last will talk about her Great Wall of China escapades in 2017 when she raised loads of money for Multiple Sclerosis.

To top off the night, as we were finishing tidying up the Church getting ready to leave a chap came into the room and walked down the aisle asking for bus fare to get back to Broomhill where he was a rough sleeper, as she had done with Holly, Bex immediately responded and took charge of the situation escorting our gentlemen caller out of the Church and giving him a quid to be on his way #bemoreBex




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