Today was a very special day for me. I met Lindsay Wagner (you know, the Bionic Woman). Lindsay represents something very important in my life: Soft strength. Now, soft and strength are words that don’t usually go together in our world. They seem like opposites, but they are the fundamental principles of really good Chinese martial arts (at least the Wudang style that I practice) and from what I can see, they are both clearly represented in Lindsay’s life. When I was a child that is the feeling I got from her.
When I was 5 years old, I had a dream that I met Lindsay on the street outside of my house (of course, she was Jaime Sommers to me then). A few minutes after we started talking, I noticed the sound of crying dogs. I looked over to see that some neighborhood bullies were trying to throw some dogs down the sewer just up the street.
I looked at Lindsay, “We have to do something! Can you throw the telephone pole over to scare them away?”
“You can do it, Karen,” she said.
“Oh no, I can’t. I don’t have special powers.” She put her hand on my shoulder and said, in a soft, yet strong tone.”Yes, you do, Karen. Just try it!”
So I hurried over to the telephone pole and summoned all the strength I could muster. The telephone pole tipped over and the boys ran away.
“Good job, Karen,” she said. “Now it’s time to go to school. But before you leave, remember this: only use your powers with love and whatever you do, never harm anyone.”
With this new confidence and her words resounding in my head, I went to school, rolled a gym mat on the floor and told everyone we were going to play fight for the day. I managed to get the school bullies in line in a soft and playful way and we had so much fun I didn’t want to go home that day.
After that dream, I decided that this was the way I was going to live my life: own my power, but use it with love. Over the years, when I would stray from this philosophy, I would think of Jaime Sommers and my bionic dream and it would gently nudge me back on the path.
Learning internal martial arts like Tai Chi and Qigong have given me the tools to more easily practice this philosophy on a daily basis. Learning it first when I was 5 years old set me on a great path.
Meeting Lindsay decades later, I finally got the change to thank her in person for being such an instrumental role model for myself as a woman; to give myself the permission to be strong AND soft. Thank you, Lindsay!
Question for reflection: Do you feel you have to make a choice between soft and strong or can you choose to be both?