My parents Kit and Julie Peterson, by whose courage and sacrifice I am here in China today
I'm a 43-year old qigong teacher and organic farm worker from Austin, Texas. I was born in Houston and grew up mostly in San Antonio. Eighteen months of my early infancy was spent on a US air force base in Okinawa, Japan, where my father practiced as a family doctor and my mother cared for me and my older sister Renee. Perhaps my time there fed my lifelong fascination with asian martial and internal arts, cuisine, and culture.
As the second-born of seven children, I learned diplomacy and collaboration at an early age. I also learned to cook, a skill which would allow me to fund my college education and buy a Honda Ascot 500, my first and only motorcycle.
I was a physically active and accident-prone youngster. At age 5, I ran through a sliding glass door, thinking it was open. One year later, I was labeled "hyperactive with ADD" by Mrs. Laven, a Dutch woman in her late 50s who ran the Montessori school that I briefly attended. I was given ritalin and cylert at various times of my early childhood.
My career dream, as a 9-year old climbing large oak trees in the heavily wooded backyard of our northeast San Antonio home, was to be a Hollywood stuntman. As fate, or perhaps family history, would have it, I went a more conventional route, majoring in Mathematics at the University of Texas at San Antonio and entering the computer industry. My corporate career started as a software engineer at NASA and ended 12 years later as a program manager at Amazon.com.
In 2003, my Aikido training buddy Cobi Bentley invited me to a weekend workshop with Master Li Jun Feng, a Chinese martial arts master who pioneered a system of movement and meditation called Sheng Zhen Qigong. At the time, I was in a failing marriage, struggling with depression, and feeling stuck in my career as a freelance project manager.
Kuan Yin Standing, the Sheng Zhen Qigong form that I studied that October weekend, was my first step into a corridor of change that would see me through a divorce, three big career moves, and a fundamental transformation in the way that I view and experience life. The physical movements and meditations of Sheng Zhen qigong were both a catalyst for these changes and a home into which I could retreat and rest as a changing world swirled around me.
Since becoming a certified Sheng Zhen teacher in July 2008, I have introduced Kuan Yin Standing to a 45-person class in the south of France, brought daily qigong classes to a small farm community in the coastal town of Trieste, Italy, and taught Sheng Zhen Healing qigong in rural Ireland to a Dutch farmer and his family.
I have also, at times, doubted my ability and legitimacy as a teacher, faced the disappointment of poorly attended workshops, and struggled to keep ongoing classes alive in my hometown of Austin, Texas. A desire to hone my teaching skills, rekindle my passion, and deepen my practice is what brought me to China to study qigong, tai chi, and Taoist internal alchemy at the San Feng Wushu Academy.