Knife in foot!         

Almost 6 weeks ago I accidently knocked a knife off my kitchen bench while making lunch…
which became known as knife in foot at Flinders Medical Centre where an amazing surgeon
found the severed/retracted tendon around my ankle and threaded it back up to the big toe and reattached it. Much gratitude for all the staff during my stay in FMC.

6 weeks on, I am days away from saying goodbye to Aurora my trusty protective boot that has accompanied all my movements for 6 weeks.
The first 4 weeks were non weight bearing and Aurora was my new sleeping attire…maybe would’ve been better in winter, summer heat kept the leg hot!

It’s been a pretty amazing ‘inside’ journey. When you are house bound choices are limited!
When your world just stops and most of what you usually do for yourself - you can’t. Stop. Breathe.
Mind work became my focus as physical restrictions stopped me from moving, showering, simple pleasures.

In the first 2 weeks I found a wheelchair was best for getting around the house then I progressed to a knee scooter which was fun in the hallway or when you got a straight stretch!

You see the world differently when you’re restricted or maybe forced to find new and interesting ways to do things. Independence we take for granted – luckily my kind and beautiful husband stepped up to most tasks. Lots of change for him too!
How to fill days when your body is healing, with surgery that requires you to sit or lie with your leg up!
I developed the courage to inject myself everyday with blood thinners.
I learnt more about patience…and accepting there’s many different ways to do things.
I connected to my breathing more and internal listening, aware of sensations as my foot
gradually started to get feeling back and I could watch the skin knitting back together as the
wound healed. I had to let go of all my plans for this bit of life.
I have changed – stillness will do that. I have reconnected with myself.
I have continued to explore meditation which I had usually had a time limit on – nice to have freedom of time.
Now that I am upright my Taiji has grounded me and allowed me to do empty foot walking and wuji every day.

At 4 weeks I was allowed to stand in the boot. The world became upright again, I was oh so grateful that my legs could bring me up to full height and I managed to walk quite well with Aurora. The world was different standing.
I am incredibly grateful that for many years I’ve been doing Taiji, as during this time it has:

  • Shown me that balancing on 1 leg is a great skill to have developed
  • Helped me embrace stillness and value the connection to my breath
  • My flexibility, my circulation, my grounding and feeling in my feet, enhanced my awareness & progress
  • Helped me soften and release tension when I felt alert to sensations in my body
  • Given me the opportunity to practice gentle and light amongst other things
  • Showed me that sometimes you need to get out of your own way to grow and change

So now as I start the next phase of this path – being my right foot the surgeon said it needs to absorb impact before I drive again. Reminds me of having to jump off a step after my knee reconstruction 36 years ago – that took some courage. Or walking past bulls in a paddock after being trampled by a bull 22 years ago – that still brings my heart rate up! It’s the unexpected things that give us great lessons, I’m learning every day.

I have gratitude and love for everyone who has made my rehab easier and at the end of the day I take good experiences from this. I am looking forward to body boarding, walking on the beach, dancing and twirling if I want to! Playing joyfully with grandchildren again too! Teaching Taiji! Maybe being more patient too.
Lived experience is a great teacher.         Jen 13/3/24


Qigong (Chi Kung) Strathalbyn U3A...............Looking Back on 20 years. - Sept 2023

I think we started in 2003 - in the CWA rooms in Strath then moved to the Community Centre that was on the new library site. We were there for a few years until it was demolished! Next the Lutheran Hall for a while, then the Anglican Hall on East Tce. for a few years until the group got too big and we shifted to the Senior Citizens Hall on Parker Avenue and we’re currently at the Good Shepherd Hall on Chapel St.

It is now we are in our 20th year! A nice time to reflect on 20 years.

Even with the good health that Qigong brings I pay tribute to Marg Schnell, who died at the beginning of 2017 - one of the original group and Marney Forward who was a vibrant Qigong participant for 13 years and died in 2019.

Others have come and gone, each adding their own contribution to the warmth of the group, fun and relaxation – we seem to have maintained around 20 in the group for the last 13 years, great friendships have grown. We laugh (we do this a lot) and cry together as the yin and yang of life touches us all.

Along the way we’ve given ourselves permission for 1 hour a week to switch off from the external world and focus internally, mind and body, relaxing, letting go of tension.

Here’s a few comments from others -

“I arrive tense and in a hurry and leave relaxed, floating out the door”. “Friendships”.

“The main benefit is one word – Breathe! Sounds like a no brainer, but often I find I’m holding my breath”
“Good for balance. Relaxation/breathing helps me sleep better”. “Sets me up for the week”.

“Coordination improving”. “Exercising without rushing or gasping”. “Eases tension in body and mind”.

“Having a laugh”. “Realizing posture is important”. “Benefits my body and my inner person”.

I love hearing about the way that people take Qigong into their everyday lives - whether its relaxed breathing through dental or medical procedures, or feeling better balance, or stronger legs, or better posture, or just letting go of tension somewhere in the body. Less stiffness in joints and letting stillness back in.

Each week this stillness is amazing. Quiet in the midst of busy, not easy to do, developing relaxed awareness. Qigong allows time for this, it’s an ongoing process.

One of the beautiful things about this gentle exercise is everyone starts where they are at and goes from there. We all continue to learn. Refining happens gradually - repeating the movements they become softer and the connections from feet to fingertips gradually develops, showing a connection back to self. What may seem awkward and weird at the beginning becomes more aligned and relaxed!

Most of us don’t realize how much tension we hold and it can be a bit of a shock when we feel muscle tightness letting go. There are many ways to relax, Qigong is only one and it doesn’t appeal to everyone.

I feel lucky to be leading this group, sharing great moments and fun together as well as nurturing our body, mind and soul.
Each week I take away a feeling of peacefulness and the warmth of sharing stories with an amazing group of people. If U3A is about staying active (physically, mentally, socially), learning new skills and building friendships then I think we tick all the boxes.

We can add ‘being still’ and ‘present in the moment’.

Anything that helps us release tension and stress has a big tick in my book.


Falls Prevention & Tai Chi - Feb 2/02/23 (pdf)

Brian Corless, TCAA newsletter, January 2023 - World Guidelines for Falls Prevention and Management for Older Adults: A Global Initiative: Published October 2022

“It takes a child one year to acquire independent movement and ten years to acquire independent mobility. An older person can lose both in a day”

The World Guidelines for Falls Prevention and Management for Older Adults were published by the World Falls Task Force in October 2022, and Tai Chi received a “Strong Recommendation” as an exercise for falls prevention in older adults. The World Guidelines were prepared with input from 96 internationally recognised researchers in falls prevention and aging, from 39 countries, 10 of whom are from Australian Research Institutes. Of these, 3 Australian researchers were members of the Task Force Steering Committee and 7 were leaders of Working Groups tasked with various aspects of falls assessment and prevention. A significant achievement for research on aging in Australia and globally.

The World Guidelines are meant for use by medical and health professionals as a framework and expert recommendations on how to identify and assess the risk of falls in older adults. The Guidelines recommend that older adults who are at low risk of having falls, should aim to engage in “…150 to 300 minutes per week of intermediate-intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes per week of vigorous intensity physical activity”

For preventing falls among older adults living in the community, regardless of their risk of falls or age, the Guidelines recommend that exercise programs should include “…balance challenging and functional exercises (e.g. sit-to-stand, stepping etc.) and should be offered with sessions three times or more weekly which are individualised, progressed in intensity for at least 12 weeks and continued longer for greater effect”. This received a “Strong Recommendation” based on “High Quality Evidence”

In addition, it is recommended that “…Tai Chi and/or additional individualised progressive resistance strength training…”, be included. This received a “Strong Recommendation” as an additional intervention based on “Intermediate Quality Evidence”, meaning that further research is likely to have an impact on the confidence in its estimated effects. The Guidelines state that “The three most convincing forms of exercise (delivered as group or home-based programmes) are those classified as balance and functional training, Tai Chi, or multicomponent exercise (programmes that involve multiple exercise types, usually balance and functional exercise plus resistance exercise)”

As well, Tai Chi received recommendations as a balance training exercise for older adults with a cognitive impairment (ranging from mild memory loss to dementia) and for some with Parkinson’s Disease.

These Guidelines probably come as no surprise to TCAA members, because if you’ve practised Tai Chi often enough and for some time, you will have noticed that your legs and body are stronger, your balance is better, you are more physically and mentally relaxed and your awareness of your body’s position, movements and actions will have improved over time. These are all part of the multicomponent aspects of Tai Chi that are so important in preventing falls and improving balance as we age.

Of equal importance though, is that these Guidelines will raise the profile of Tai Chi as an evidence based, internationally recognised exercise intervention for falls prevention. We hope that medical doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, exercise physiologists, and researchers will take note of the recommendations in the Guidelines so that older Australians can learn about their local Tai Chi group, and that more can enjoy its benefits.

Remember to spread the word about these great benefits of Tai Chi.

To read more about the World Guidelines, go to

For more information: The Australian & New Zealand Falls Prevention Society website:


Imagine if….                                                                              Jan 21/1/21
By nurturing your body in a Taiji way for 10 minutes each day
your circulation improved
your tension started to unravel
your energy increased
your muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons relaxed, no longer stiff or tight
your body felt younger and more alive
your flexibility, balance and grounding returned
your breathing became naturally deeper which improved the quality of oxygenated blood in your system
and your body started to heal itself
…..mine is doing this and I thank Taiji and my daily commitment to play with these simple ideas.

An Amazing Art
Each day the benefits get stronger
Each day I let go a bit more
Each day I am a bit better in body, mind and soul

WARNING: It takes courage and a willingness to change, to gently persist.
Not a quick fix more a gradual growing awareness of the body,
our posture, relaxing the mind and body and the simple things we can do to make it better.

Have fun with it, don’t try too hard. Relax, play and continue gently it may surprise you, it did me. Jen