The Block Island Times

Judy's Picky Picks:  Good Chi with Kathleen Mitchell

By Judy Tierney | Oct 07, 2012

On Wednesday afternoon, I was debating whether to start reading a new book or watch a recorded Daily Show on television when a slate gray dog strolled into the front yard. His plaid neckerchief was a signal he was a friendly pet, so I went to the door planning to give him a big hello and maybe even to call him over. Then I heard voices following behind.

The walkers straggled into view, first one, then two, then a whole group of women and one man. The dog returned to his owner, Lonni Todd, who was among them, on his own. Instead of anyone calling to the dog, they called out to me to join them. Leading from the middle of the group was new Senior Coordinator Kathleen Mitchell. She was flanked by Todd, Gail Pierce, Nancy Greenaway, Sandra Kelly and a few others, all participating in Mitchell’s newly formed afternoon walk for seniors and anyone else who wants to tag along, including Kit, Todd’s sweet dog.

I have a new mantra. I’m trying not to say no whenever I’m invited to do something, so I jumped out the door, just like that, and joined the walk. In the morning, I run/walk that route to the beach pavilion and back, but a second hike can’t hurt anyone, especially along Corn Neck Road which is beautiful this time of year when motor vehicles are sparse.  I never tire of looking at  the grass covered dunes with hawks and crows swooping above them .

We all had plenty to talk about except the one man on the walk. But then Sandy Kelley told me he was her cousin and he only spoke Italian. I’m sure a lot of guys would consider him lucky for that. When Kelly mentioned him, he gave us a warm good afternoon in Italian, a smile and a nod, and then returned to his silent stroll.

Mitchell asked if I was coming to her first Tai Chi class the next day. I was planning to go and I did.  The basement room at the library with the large television was filled to capacity with the twelve or so women and men gathered to practice that ancient martial art. I have read that Tai Chi is gentle and especially good for improving balance among older adults.

We followed the movements of a man on a video for beginners, mimicking his postures as best we could.  At the beginning, he explained that the chi in Tai Chi means life force.

When we finished the initial portion of the video, Mitchell asked if we wanted to go on.  We did, but we all said we were having difficulties. Cheryl Gagnon came forward and began to lead us in stretches, which was very nice, but then we realized that wouldn’t help us do Tai Chi.  Could Kathleen find someone to help us learn it, maybe just once or twice?  Not only did she agree to do that, the very next day she went to a Tai Chi class on the mainland to investigate.

We can be awfully critical of our leaders on this island, myself included. But this time, I think the Senior Advisory Committee made a good choice in hiring Kathleen Mitchell to bring some life into aging here. She is creative, energetic and  congenial. You might say, she has good chi.

I’m so enthused I signed up for George Tabor’s wine class, and I even sent in a name for the senior group, but readers, I’ve already forgotten what I sent. I guess I really do belong in that aging category.



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