July note from Kimberly Sensei

"Dear ones:  Coming through this difficulty, what we intend, envision and nurture, we can do.  It is time to act, to be the medicine, the uplifting music, the lamp in the darkness. Jack Kornfield, Beloved Spirit Rock Meditation teacher
Greetings to you all. Last month my dynamic and robust 93-year-old mother-in-law fell and broke her hip.  The immediately required hospital stay in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma was, at first, a terrifying thought.  Who could have foreseen the series of miracles that rolled out over the week?  Rita's family gathered in support on the hospital grounds bringing favorite foods and fuzzy socks.  The kind and competent nurses propped her pillows and hummed her favorite songs.  What seemed like a miserable moment for our family also offered opportunities. We could choose to close up our hearts and protect ourselves from what seemed an inevitable loss, or we could let the challenge soften our spirits, find our courage, our compassion, and replace our fear with hope.
I feel this way about our world and our Aiki community, big and small.  The times of COVID have required us to face a monstrous number of unknowns. For many of us, the physical and psychic fatigue sits front and center in what we can't control.  That is where our practice comes alive and invites us to stretch—to find an elasticity to face this uncharted territory.  When the tip of a sword lunges toward our chest, we can move or die.  We train to act well in the present moment. We train to be smart in action, kind in heart, and wise in spirit. We train to be in the now; to embrace the present moment fully.
O Sensei said it simply: "Aikido is love."  The practice of loving-kindness is the ground of our training.  For some of us, COVID is an ongoing inconvenience. Others are faced with devastating circumstances.  If we can find a way to care for our loneliness and anxiety, we can do that for those in dire need.  Our practice is larger than the techniques we engage in on the mat. We can delve into Aikido’s deep teachings and hone our ability to extend our compassion out to each other through the energetic wavelengths of Great Nature.  We can actively offer contemplation, prayers, and enlivening energy bubbles to those across the globe daily.  How large is our reach? 
Daily I offer gratitude for the gifts in my life.  What started as an academic spiritual exercise years ago is now second nature.  I can imagine what Terry Dobson Sensei might say: “That don't make you some kind of angel.” And that's true.  But when I struggle, when I get blue, I am in the habit to acknowledge something I appreciate.
I've had a chance to talk with many of you these past four months. I hear how hard you work to stay skillful and cope in these most extraordinary times.  You inspire me.  I thank you all for the support you all offer to the dojo. You are so generous.  Any and all that you do helps to keep us alive as we train in other ways.  I try to avoid the drum of the mantra in my head that suggests "OMG, just before the pandemic, we were just about to take off in all new directions!!"  That is so me to lounge around in the past.  But I am evolving.  ;)
I thank our office manager, Amy Cericola, for her profound attention to what keeps us actively in business right now. Gratitude to our TCI board members Susan Adams, Jessie Levin, Dan Murnan, Greg Mock and Sara Gerhart Snell for their artistry and support that has been instrumental in helping us stay alive.  I thank our children, teen and adult teachers David Hurley, Greg Mock, Sara Gerhart Snell, Lynda Matsumoto, Robyn Andersen, Taryn Sass, Nancy Marinville, Dennis Johnson, Alex Gholz, and Christine Cornell who, each week, launch themselves wholeheartedly into zoom classes and make up the curriculum to meet the needs of our community.  A nod of appreciation to our teaching assistants Kathryn Andersen, Jasper Willson, John Bryant, and Cai Horn.  Tai Chi Sifu Ken Wright has joined our learning community and offers two Tai Chi classes a week. I am hoping that Vanessa Skantze will join our teaching group with Aiki Yoga going forward.
With 4 months of practice at creating zoom curriculums, those of us teaching have found crazy creative ways to train together through a screen.  Who knew?  Of course, it is not for everyone. I am aware of and compassionate to how many of our community members spend long days on zoom for work, and for whom one more tech training opportunity may be challenging.  I get it, and..... we offer what we can in this moment.  Hopefully soon we will see each other outside.
Heads up: One of our inspiring young adults, Cai Horn, who had planned on offering his nikyu demonstration on April 4, will instead be offering his demonstration this coming  Saturday, July 25 at 11:30.  Please join us in celebrating.
A bow of gratitude to you all.
Kimberly Richardson