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Umbrellas - by Sue Brookes RDTC Gwent

After reading the last newsletter I wanted to write something light-hearted, and this is what came to mind: a little piece about umbrellas.

I discovered umbrellas at about the same time I discovered t'ai chi, and they have be constant travelling companions ever since,and of course, over such a long period, the relationship has broadened and deepened, and I can honestly say there is nothing about an umbrella I dislike. The name itself makes me smile,so comical, so faintly ridiculous, and so linked to the image of an Englishman or woman abroad. Which is exactly what I am when I pull my trusty companion from my backpack in Kathmandu or Madrid or anywhere else with temperatures higher than 70 degrees C, an English woman with a smile on her face, walking with an umbrella!

It is important to find the kind that suits you, and when choosing an umbrella, to relax and let the breathing become steady, closing the eyes if necessary. I have made several errors of judgement by forgetting to do this. Above all else, do not be meanspirited in what you spend. Cheap umbrellas do not work, and do not ask someone else to give you one as a present. In this relationship, you have to find the right umbrella for yourself.

Walking with a friend recently, the fruits of my long association with umbrellas were revealed. It was a day of heavy rain and increasingly gusty wind, but we both had wellies and umbrellas and were desperate for some exercise. [ I was using my No. 3 model. The one I keep in the car for emergencies ] My friend was an absolute beginner and quickly lost control of her umbrella in the gusts.

While I watched her struggles, I became aware for the first time of the constant slight adjustments that were keeping my battered No. 3 facing into the wind. It was just like SAILING!

I was delighted by this comparison of the wind in the sails and the steering hand on thtiller, and the more I thought about it, the more I could feel it happening. The wind was very playful that day, swinging around 90 degrees in an instant, blowing hard and then dying down, so there was endless opportunity to be caught unawares or to ride effortlessly for a joyous moment. I'm getting a bit carried away here: it was all delicate hand and wrist work, nothing to see but a woman walking along holding an umbrella with a smile on her face!

But by seeing what was happening and getting the basic ideas [ principles] about something I had been doing for so long, it was almost instinctive, I was able to explain it to my friend, who picked it up immediately, and there we were, two women with umbrellas on a windy day, doing t'ai chi.

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