Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Follow the Qi of the Day
I've always been intrigued by Taiqi. The first time I went backpacking in China, I followed my shoestring guidebook, getting up at 5am to rush to the People's Park in Shanghai to watch people perform. It seemed like the whole neighborhood had come out to participate, and I felt like I was watching a silent ballet. Their movements were fluid, like a wave, as they picked up an imaginary ball and moved it up, then down, from side to side. My Father-in-law practices each morning at the local elementary school in the village. He and my husband often said that I should pick up the practice. That it's healthy, would be good for my back. "Someday," I thought.
A couple of months ago, I was up the road picking blackberries and I ran into a man I'd never seen before-- a neighbor-- who said he taught the martial arts, including Taiqi. I told him I'd always wanted to do that, but never had the time. He said of course there's time. That he'd arrange a class up here.
This last Sunday I finally made it to his class. I felt like a kid who'd put on a pair of ice skates for the first time, wobbling this way, falling that. The movements aren't difficult. To do them correctly--synchronizing the movement with breathing and balance--feels impossible.
What intrigued me more than the movements, though, were the ideas. The idea of harnessing the energy (qi) of the universe, bringing that energy to your body, your life. The idea of thinking and moving not in a solid forward movement, but forward and back, from side to side, depending on the situation. The idea that the body follows the mind. So if you focus your thoughts, your body will find its way there.
For me, these are great gifts to take with me into the holiday season--a season full of shopping and decorating and parties and vacations. A season when my forward writing momentum comes to a grinding halt....and I often feel frustrated. This year, I'll bend my aching legs, pick up the imaginary ball, take a deep breath and try to follow the energy, the qi of the day.
**A great writing opportunity: Martha Engber, a journalist, playwrite, Pushcart Prize nominee, and author of Growing Great Writers From the Ground Up, is holding a workshop on character development Sunday, November 23, 10-2, Books Inc., 301 Castro St., Mountain View.
What People Are Saying About My Half of the Sky
"McBurney-Lin tells a wonderfully entertaining story with the traditional coming-of-age theme (which is experienced universally)...weaving in the cultural challenges of growing up in China's rapidly changing social system."
Mary Warpeha, co-President of the Minnesota Chapter of US-China Friendship Association
"The novel ...includes many of the tales and the folk ways of the people living in the rural areas of South China, still followed provincially. The story takes place in current China, but could relate the dilemma of any young woman in rural China through the ages."
Kitty Trescott, National Board of the Midwest Region of US-China Friendship Association. March 2010
"A lot is expected of a young Chinese girl. My Half of the Sky by Jana McBurney-Lin is the story of Li Hui, a young girl who has just achieved marriageable age. She seeks to make the most of herself, but the expectations all around her make it difficult, as her parents seek to use her as pawn to their advantage, she is faced with what she believes to be true love. She must balance career, romance, and family, all to somehow make everyone happy, a tough endeavor indeed. An engaging and entertaining read from beginning to end, "My Half of the Sky" is a poignant tale of the modern Chinese woman, and recommended for community library collections.
--Midwest Book Review November, 2008
“It is a rare women’s novel that sensitively describes the life of a young educated woman in modern-day China in its full complexity, without resorting to unnecessary sentimentalism. Jana’s deep knowledge of the realities of life in China and Singapore makes the reading extra rewarding. In fact, with every new page the novel gets harder to put down and you find yourself gobbling it up before you know it. Finally, the author has given a voice to the Li Hui in all of us, as we struggle for the golden middle between tradition and the modern momentum of our world.”
Friends of the Museum Book Review 2008
You'll be rooting all the way for Li Hui as she struggles, ahead of the curve, to be her own woman in an emerging, modern China. Jana McBurney-Lin's My half of the Sky is a beautiful, witty, touching debut novel.
Thomas B. Sawyer
Head Writer TV Series "Murder, She Wrote,"
Author - The Sixteenth Man
A complex and mesmerizingly original tale of a young Chinese woman caught between the modern world and the pull of her ancient culture. McBurney-Lin’s intimate portrait of China sparks with insights and is peopled with characters so rich and alive, they seem to breathe on the page. Dazzling and unforgettable.
Caroline Leavitt, Author - Girls in Trouble
McBurney-Lin's debut novel is a gift. Li Hui is a memorable heroine, a young woman torn between her heart and her culture.Her daunting journey is a trip into China's complicated soul, and a deeply moving exploration of love, honor, duty, and loss." Frank Baldwin, Author - Balling the Jack
My Half of the Sky is a wonderfully-crafted story that was obviously written with a piece of McBurney-Lin's heart. A masterpiece."
Lee Lofland, Author - Howdunit: Police Procedure and Investigation
My Half of the Sky heralds the arrival of a fantastic new storyteller. With artistry and precision, Jana McBurney-Lin's clear-eyed prose takes the reader on a new journey into a past world that speaks to a modern sensibility, a modern world, a modern woman. This is a book to be treasured.
Emily Rapp, Author - The Poster Child
Through vivid descriptions of sights and smells, Jana McBurney-Lin's My Half of the Sky is a haunting, emotional journey of what it means to be an honorable female in modern China. Jill Ferguson, Author - Sometimes Art Can't Save You