Tai Chi Experience with Suzanne
Greta Reidy, Mackay, QLD, Australia
In January 2000 after attending another of Dr Lam’s one week workshops in Sydney, Suzanne decided to start teaching a Tai Chi for Arthritis class in February. I knew the quality of this versatile woman’s teaching, having attended Linedance, Aquafitness and Gentle Exercise classes taught by her, and decided to “give it a go”. Little knowing that almost ten years later I would still be “giving it a go”.
Freely admitting that she “did not know much about Tai Chi” she taught us very slowly and was quite inventive in varying our practices. We practised in a whole group, small groups & pairs. We faced every direction you can think of, sometimes in lines face to face & other times with our backs to each other, we even practised in a circle. This gave us an excellent foundation. She kept us interested until she could go off to another Training to learn more & return invigorated. Then she shared her new knowledge & enthusiasm with us.She regularly attended the annual workshops and after January 2004 she announced that in the following June she would be attending the American training to be held in Monterey, California. By this time I was motivated enough to go with her. This would be her first overseas trip and my first Tai Chi workshop so it was a big adventure for both of us. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and after it, one of our new Tai Chi friends went out of her way to drive us to San Francisco where we were to stay for a few days before going on to Los Angeles & then home. When we reached San Francisco, which has many one- way streets near where we were to stay, we found that a lot were blocked off for a Gay Pride Mardi Gras. Our driver spent one and a half hours driving around trying to get us close to our hotel. Eventually we were close enough to walk there. Thank you Therese, your kindness has never been forgotten. We enjoyed our USA experience so much that we returned 3 more times, to different parts of the country and extended our stays to do some sightseeing.
In January 2005, I went to Sydney with Suzanne and have done each year since. In 2009, 11 people from Mackay attended the Sydney workshop, all due to Suzanne’s encouragement & support. She continued with her classes & her self-education, motivating and encouraging everyone with whom she came in contact.
Now Mackay has 8 qualified leaders teaching Community classes, a few who teach classes as part of their professions and some who qualified for personal development reasons. As Dr Lam said “she has planted seeds”
I have been fortunate to have had the benefit of her expertise, enthusiasm and energy all this time. This Tai Chi experience with Suzanne has opened doors to travel, meeting people & experience I would otherwise have missed. It was such a proud moment for me to be present in South Hadley, MA. USA when for the first time, Suzanne took her place in the line-up of Master Trainers.
This Tai Chi journey with Suzanne is a valued part of my life with many wonderful memories and experiences due to the enthusiasm, motivation and inspiration of Suzanne McLauchlan.
A Tribute to Suzanne
Elva Arthy, Master Trainer, Redlands, QLD, Australia
Many people say we should live every day as if it was our last. Often it takes a trauma or loss for the realization to take shape and quickly becomes an attitude of living. Suzanne was someone I knew who really did live life to the fullest at every level – family, work, life interests, friends. I have never known anyone with such capacity to fit so much into her life. Her days were full and also full-on.
Many of us saw Suzanne as someone whose endless energy knew no bounds. She saw so many projects as worthwhile of her time and input. And this was never a passing glance – but something that deserved the generosity of her time and the commitment that was needed for the job. I have known Suzanne for more than 27 years and in that time I marvelled at her capacity to work. I also saw the exhaustion, the tiredness and the softer, vulnerable side that went hand in hand with the energy and drive that was so much part of who she was. Sometimes her bronchitis was so bad I expected her to drop at any minute – but meetings and planning continued with good humour, a classy, warm smile, often well into the night (read as morning) as if there was no tomorrow and with not a minute to lose.
I knew Suzanne in the early days of our time together as a busy mother of four and a very motivated fitness instructor with a background in and education. Much of her experience carried over into National Fitness which we were in those days, a busy organization with over 350 instructors state wide. These were the days before “gyms”, before “aerobics” the days when there was a deep sense of community, participation and contribution. In 1985 when the other states had given away community fitness to focus on private enterprise and corporate fitness, the Queensland organization became Queensland Keep Fit Association with much of the motivation and drive directed at community health programmes. Like many organizations and cultural changes happening at that time, many instructors became full time workers and numbers fell away. In time Suzanne was elected President and held that position up to the present time. One of her finest efforts was for a Conference “Vision 2000” which she organised in Seaforth, Mackay. It was always Suzanne’s dream to once again build QKFA into the driving force of community fitness of those early heady days.
Of all the many community organizations she was involved in, Women’s Health Information Centre, Nursing Mothers and Lifeline Counselling stand out in my memory. Her commitment was on-going, open, dedicated. Somehow, she found room for more. In January 1999 I attended the first January Workshop in Sydney with Paul – and my whole world changed forever – as it does! In October of that year Paul presented the first TCA workshop in Queensland and Suzanne was formally introduced to the beginning of a great change and force in her life also.
Within a short time she too was attending every January Workshop and she needed no “arm twisting” to take the big leap to the June Workshops with our USA colleagues and friends. What a great time we always had – exciting, expanding, and forever opening up to new ideas and concepts and experiences. Suzanne was always a great shopper and traveller as well. Greta joined us for our time in China and Suzanne was big on shopping, and laughing, wide eyed and awestruck. Korea just blew us all away – we shared the same accommodation in Seoul and the memories flood in.
Becoming a Master Trainer with Paul was an honour and achievement that gave her something beyond words. It also gave her the wings to deliver her health teaching with serious scientific back-up and support. We talk about “passion” and “commitment” – but it is more than that. She was able to motivate and really encourage those she taught with a great enthusiasm. But I think the quality that most endures with Suzanne was her ability to be positive. There was no room – ever – for negativity – and many people have appreciated this quality in her not to mention her laughter and sense of adventure, her warmth and intelligence, her strength and vulnerability. I will remember her most for her love of family. More than anything her love and support of her husband Douglas was ever present. Her dedication and devotion to her beloved children and grandchildren was palpable and the warmth and love for her dear Mum and sisters was a constant in her life. I will remember most a lover of life – Suzanne – we salute you. You will be missed.
Dr Lam asked me to write something about Suzanne who was my Tai Chi teacher and friend. If you knew Suzanne you will know that she was full of energy, enthusiasm and had a positive attitude that was quite infectious and impossible to ignore. She was the ultimate “can do” person who always looked at things with a “glass half full” optimism. And I know you will read and hear these things about her from everyone who knew her. We are all correct – she was all of this and much more. I wrote a poem about the influence she had on her class members that was published in the newsletter in 2007. It was heartfelt but light hearted because I thought we would have many more years for Suzanne to guide our Tai Chi journey. But now she has left us I would like to add just this:
Suzanne made students in her classes feel safe. As a health professional I knew that any patient I sent to Suzanne would be safe. Not just their body but also their spirit, self esteem and confidence would grow strong under her careful and caring eye. I knew that she listened to and observed people acutely and thought about each one as an individual. I knew that she understood how to guide each student to achieve their best and that she helped everyone to live the life that they had been given and to get the most out of each day.
How did I know? I was also her student and I felt it myself. And I miss her so very much.
Pat Webber, Master Trainer, Narwee, NSW, Australia
My first memory of Suzanne is at St Vincent’s College at Potts Point during the week of the annual Sydney workshop. I can’t say what year it was, but I have a clear memory of walking through the dining room and seeing a very attractive, smiling woman who was waiting for some friends to go out for dinner. It was Suzanne. She looked terrific – relaxed and glamorous after a day’s tai chi. We exchanged hellos, and started chatting. I eventually went on my way, feeling uplifted by that brief meeting.
Over the years, I really only saw Suzanne at tai chi workshops, but from year to year she didn’t change. Suzanne was fun to be with. She worked hard at whatever she was involved in. Her energy seemed boundless. Whenever she could, Suzanne attended workshops in Australia and overseas to further her knowledge of tai chi.
When Maree Chadwick nominated Suzanne to become a Master Trainer in the Tai Chi for Arthritis program, I was very happy to second the nomination. Suzanne subsequently asked me to mentor her in Mackay. The day prior to the workshop, I was invited to meet her tai chi class – a big class full of people who were as keen as mustard. The teacher’s influence was very apparent. The workshop itself was well organized and presented – Suzanne didn’t leave things to chance! It was an indication of the strong ties between Suzanne and her students that a number of them gave their time to help out at the workshop and to help entertain me at dinner. Suzanne made people feel happy to be with her.
Our tai chi community is deeply affected by the loss of Suzanne, but much richer for her involvement.
Thank you for letting me know about Suzanne,
She was indeed a caring and positive person. Suzanne was also very clear in her communication and she had the ability to give instructions which while guiding tai chi forms also shone a light on the student's expectations of their own abilities. Suzanne is a truly gifted teacher. Chris Hattle, NZ
Thank you for the mail regarding Suzanne, I worked with her in the MT training in Sydney. She was incredibly delightful and sunny. I do send comforting thoughts to her family. Troyce (Thome), USA
Suzanne's transition comes a shock, a taste of our reality.
I am saddened by this news, and my heart goes out to her family and all of her friends. Jef Morris, USA
I will see that Suzanne's family is lifted in prayer at our morning worship service on Sunday, and that her spirit is commended to our Creator.
Grace and peace, Bruce Young, USA
I remember Suzanne always had a beautiful smile on her face and truly enjoyed teaching Tai Chi. My deepest sympathy goes to all her family and friends. She will be greatly missed.
I will have her in my prayers. Tony Garcia, USA
What terrible news. I can't believe it is true. Not to see Suzanne's warm smile at the Sydney workshop, not to hear her inspiring and thoughtful insights, such a loss to the world, such a loss for our tai chi family. My thoughts are with her family, friends and her many, many tai chi students. I feel honoured to have known her. Rani Hughes, Australia
Thank you for letting us know about Suzanne – such very sad news. I enjoyed spending time with her at our US workshops & also Sydney '07 & I was looking forward to being with her on the China Tour as well.
I will keep her in a special place in my memory & keep her family in my thoughts & prayers. Jo Zeitler, USA
I am saddened to hear for Suzanne's accident and passing. I had the opportunity to get to know her a little when she traveled to the USA for the week long workshops and studied the 42 forms with me. I am sure she will be greatly missed. My good thoughts and prayers are with you all and her family at this time of loss of friend, family and colleague. Ralph Dehner, USA
I am so grateful that I had the time with Suzanne in January. You never know what life holds. We must take every opportunity to be with the ones we hold dear.
May our loving thoughts hold and support her gently as she passes through the worlds.
My thoughts and love go to her family, Stephanie Taylor, USA
I am very saddened to hear of Suzanne’s passing. I really enjoyed being with her at many of the conferences. We all will miss her and the world will too. Cyndy Fels, USA
There are no words to describe this type of loss. She was a bright flower. Sadly flowers fade. I will miss my colleague and one of my dance partners at the workshop dinners. Suzanne will be remembered as a major force in our organization.
Find a beautiful quiet spot to reflect on her life and what she brought to us. Mearl Thompson, USA
I was very saddened to hear of Suzanne's passing. She was a very special person, and I enjoyed her company and sense of humour during the One Week Workshop. Last year Suzanne came to New Zealand to assist Dr Lam during his TCD workshop and the students were very impressed with her teaching and gracious manner. Everyone will be so sad to hear that she will not be coming back to next year's workshops.
We send our best wishes to her family, friends and students and peace and love to Suzanne for her journey. Hazel Thompson, NZ
How sad to learn of Suzanne's accident. She was such a dynamic and thoughtful person and will be greatly missed by all her family and tai chi friends. Her expertise and skills will be a great loss to the MT field. Please pass on my thoughts to her family. Jackie Watt, Australia
I had the opportunity to meet Suzanne during the January workshop in Sydney and I much admired her spirit and a person and for she was doing for the Tai Chi Community. I am very sad about her passing and my heart goes out to her family. Monika Forstner, USA
I was so upset to get Paul's email about Suzanne.
I have known Suzanne since her first January workshop in Sydney and we caught up with each other most years. The five days I spent in Brisbane recently will be treasured. We had time to chat together and really got to know each other. Suzanne was so excited about being a new grandmother. Being dedicated to Queensland Keep Fit Suzanne inspired and was a great advocate for the Tai Chi for Health programme instilling in her students a great love of our art and its benefits to their health. We will miss Suzanne so much and like Monika my heart goes out to her family and friends at this sad time. Rosemary Palmer, Australia
It was with great shock and sadness that I learned from Paul of the death of Suzanne McLauchlan in a car accident. As we had just spent several days together with Rosemary and Paul doing the MT training workshop for TCD, my memories of her are very fresh. Her energy and enthusiasm for spreading the tai chi word were astounding and will be sorely missed. My thoughts and sympathies are with her family at this dreadful time, and I hope our prayers and meditations will ease her passing.
It really reinforces the need to enjoy the moment and spend as much time as possible with those you love – life is too short and unpredictable to waste. Janet Cromb, Australia
"haere ra, e hoa ma, e moe, e moe, e moe roa…" farewell my friend, sleep, sleep, sleep long… look forward to our meeting in the here after, god be with you till we meet again!
haere, haere, haere i te po… fellow Master Trainer, Toi Walker, NZ
I too shall miss Suzanne immensely. I do not usually 'reply all' to emails, but as if by fate, I was looking through Paul's newsletters and found a fitting tribute to Suzanne from her students. It was titled "Tai Chi on Thursday" in Paul's April 2007 newsletter and it was well worth reading it again.
With fond memories and a heavy heart, Jim Starshak, USA
I have just received an email from Hazel…I was very sad to hear that we have lost Suzanne. I am sure your heart is aching with sadness…I am sorry for the loss you, your team, friends and family are feeling. Suzanne has helped me immensely this past year, to create a professional, safe and fun Tai Chi 4 Kidz programme. Suzanne was very generous with her ideas, contacts, experience and expertise with the programme.
I am at a loss of what to say…other than I am truly sorry for the sadness everyone is feeling. Please pass on my love, smiles and support to your team and her family. I will pray her journey is full of love and light. Tamara Bennett, NZ
I was saddened to open your email & learn of Suzanne's passing, having had the privilege of meeting Suzanne at '08 & '09 January workshop & enjoying her zest for life & tai chi, I realise the void this will leave not only in her family but in the lives of those around her. In mourning her passing we must celebrate her life. Barbara Grimley, Australia
Sydney in January, the annual Tai Chi workshop at St. Vincent’s College. Around the corner at one of the little outdoor cafes, several of us relax, sharing experiences of life, tai chi and the current workshop, eating some exquisite delicacy. This is how I will remember Suzanne, in animated conversation with us, sharing her enthusiasm for life. Caroline Demoise, USA
I wanted a few days to contemplate before sending my thoughts about Suzanne because the news was so unexpected.
I got to know Suzanne quite well. We initially met in Sarasota, Florida taking the 24 Yang Style class and loved relaxing in the pool at the end of the day while comparing notes on our classes, families and lives. For the next two years we ended up in June week long Tai Chi classes together and both trained at the same time for our MT certification in Sydney. Ironically ending up back in the pool at St. Vincent's, floating on noodles and comparing MT notes with Marty Kidder. Suzanne was always laughing and I can still hear her tittering over every single one of Marty's jokes, whether they were funny or not.
Suzanne to me was a person of such poise, focus, and professionalism. She was devoted to her exercise classes, was very concerned about the health and well being of her students, and worked very hard to develop her own tai chi skill. I know she was on the road to becoming an excellent Master Trainer of Tai Chi and will be truly missed. I will surely miss her at the June Tai Chi workshop in Washington State. My deepest condolences go to Suzanne's family and close friends.It seems important to note that I received Paul's email about Suzanne while I was in Las Vegas, just before getting in line to see the Cirque Du Soleil production of "O." I wondered how I could enjoy the show after hearing such sad news when I realized Suzanne would thrive watching all the exemplary athleticism of the synchronized swimmers in the show's cast and would have admired their devotion to their craft, much as she was devoted to her own personal athletic ability and tai chi craft. So I attended with joy in my heart and fond memories of our friendship, feeling she would most certainly approve. Robin Malby, USA
I am very sad to hear the news about Suzanne. She was a very joyful person full of light and laufter and she was caring. I remember her supporting words to me in the warm Tai Chi classroom were we were struggling with the Sun Style 73 in depth form. I believe that her energy will move on…. Amanda Lundvik Gyllensten, Sweden.
I am very sad to hear the news about Suzanne. Being my 1st time attending the January annual Tai Chi Workshop at St Vincent’s College, I remember meeting Suzanne. Her friendly approached made me welcome to the workshop. Suzanne to me was very friendly, happy and helpful person. I will miss a new friend. Please send my deepest condolences to Suzanne's family and close friends. Jennifer Chung, Singapore
I agree this loss comes as quite a shock. I think of Suzanne as one of my first Aussie friends, and I always looked forward to seeing her at both the Sydney and USA workshops. I had the pleasure of having her as a student in my 24 Forms class one year. We shared walks, tea, confidences, and impressions on being middle-aged female athletes a little past our prime in some ways, yet just hitting our stride in other ways. I appreciated so much Suzanne's insights, openness, and enthusiasm. I do send my best energies for her transition and for the support of her family at this time. Pat Lawson, USA
I am saddened and shocked to hear of the passing of Suzanne, I got to know her at a workshop 2 years ago when she was doing the 73 depth and was following with the master trainer workshop. She had a great passion and love of tai chi, her energy was passed on to everyone. My thoughts and prayers are with her family; Suzanne will be sadly missed by all of us. Libby Godden, Australia
I have just heard of the tragic news of Suzanne. I have been privileged to have spent many hours under the patient Tai Chi instruction by Suzanne. It is because of her that many, many people in our town have felt the benefit of Tai Chi. Sandra McBean, Australia
My deepest condolences to Suzanne’s beloved family and many friends in this horrific loss. I first met Suzanne at the Sydney Workshop in 2002. Her charm and friendliness lifted my spirits. Over that and many more Tai Chi Workshops in Sydney and Monterey, I came to deeply value her as a wise woman, compassionate, understanding truly living life to the full. Her boundless energy and enthusiasm and cheeky sense of humour made her fun to be with. Her loves, pride, care and concern for her family was paramount, and she was ready to listen and share others stories with empathy, re the ups and downs of our lives. I'll cherish the memory of our daily 7 a.m. walks down to Woolloomooloo "to get fit for the day of Tai Chi ahead"!, quick lunches, and relaxed dinners, and the sharing that went with them. Evening Qigong sessions on the Balcony at St Vincent’s ….the memories will endure. Suzanne's dedication to a healthier, fitter Queensland population was all embracing, Tai Chi to clog dancing… a universal woman. Our lives were enriched by knowing her. Suzanne was a great mentor in the Tai Chi journey, generous in sharing her skills and knowledge and enthusiasm. Her breadth of knowledge and people skills made her an outstanding Master Trainer, teacher and a star in our Tai Chi firmament. I send her positive chi for her onward Journey. Vale Suzanne
My prayers and love follow you and your family.
I heard of Suzannes death as I left a concert at which Peter
Sculthorpe’s beautiful Requiem for his father was played. A fitting tribute for a wonderful friend. Maree Chadwick, Australia
What very sad sad news….what a loss.
I will always see Susan’s smile, her radiating love for people and life and cherish great moments we have spend in a French Patisserie in Sydney, when I have been with her last time…. Jana Solovka, Australia
May I add my shock at the news, while remembering Suzanne as being young in spirit and vital as a person. She was in my 42 Form January Workshop class a few years ago, and was always friendly and enthusiastic, especially in her dedication to causes she felt a passion about. This is a sad loss to the taiji community and all those other communities she was tirelessly devoted to. I'm sure Paul will convey all the BHTCC instructors' distress and condolences to her family at this very sad news. Angela Cantafio, Australia
It doesn't seem possible that someone so alive isn't any longer – but what a legacy she leaves. Jenny Day, Australia
Whenever I think of Suzanne – and I've been thinking of her a lot since receiving this news – I can't help but smile. All my memories of her are happy ones, as her enthusiasm for tai chi and for life were infectious. Susan Scheuer, USA
Like many of the others who knew Suzanne, her untimely departure has left me stunned. I have nothing but pleasant thoughts and fun memories of being in her presence beginning with the January 2003 Sydney Workshop (when we both took the Sun 73 Forms) to dancing with her at the June USA Workshops. What a powerful and wondrous spirit she had in touching us in so many positive ways. She certainly left her mark on our organization and, especially, on her students in Australia. It has been an honor and gift to have been able to laugh with and appreciate her these past 6 years. Russ Smiley, USA
My sincere condolences to Suzanne's family and her world wide friends. Each day I look at the e-mails about the sad news and am amazed how many people from around the world Suzanne touched, she will be missed. Jenny Sheldon, USA
I am so sorry to hear about Suzanne's death. Her death is a great loss to all of us. Those of us who got to meet her in the US were all inspired by her. I am so grateful that you gave her my name about TCK. She sent me some wonderful information, good and bad, about her experiences as well as some wonderful ideas for activities and introducing the program. These items give me an idea as to some of the funds needed for the program; especially if it is going to be large. I am sending you copies of her e-mails separately. She tried to send me an attachment I could not open, but she found a way to get the info to me. She is a hard act to follow. Perhaps together, we can all fulfill her dreams for TC4K. It will be an honor to follow her footsteps. Sherry Jones, USA
I have today returned from South Africa to hear this tragic news. I got to know Suzanne through the workshops but particularly when we stayed together for a whole week at Kam’s Chen workshop. Although relative strangers at the start of the week, we shared so much we felt like kindred sisters enjoying the most amazing experiences together and sharing so much, so openly in only a short time. Suzanne’s bright spirit will live on in those memories and always be cherished. I send my love and compassion to her beloved family, friends and to all those who grieve the tragic, untimely loss of such a wonderfully spirited, vivacious woman. Somewhere a star will be shining more brightly for her essence. Lesley Roberts, UK
I've been trying to send a respond to everyone about how shocked and saddened I was to hear about Suzanne. Suzanne was a wonderful person. We always took a little time at every workshop, we attended together, to sit down and catch up. I really enjoyed getting to know her. I will miss her at every workshop from now on. Please send my prayers and loving chi to her family. Dan Jones, USA