Celebrating Magnificence: Truc & Courtlin Holt-Nguyen Exemplary Students – A Hui Ho!

Seldom has Still & Moving Center seen as dedicated a student as Truc Holt-Nguyen, our first person to “Get to the Center” by taking 1,000 classes! Also the first to climb up the wall into the stratosphere of 1,100 + classes! Her husband Courtlin has also faithfully attended classes, with a total of 645 visits to date. More important than numbers is the monumental life changes we have watched them make during their time with us. It is with fond sadness that we bid these dear members of our ohana “A hui ho!” as they move to Truc’s homeland, Vietnam.

Courtlin and Truc’s long journey with Still & Moving Center has tracked many important lifestyle adjustments, as they have regained their health through moving meditation, connected with the land and wholesome food, reduced stress in their work lives, and established deep, meaningful friendships.

This couple came to Still & Moving Center with serious health issues. They were seeking solutions that were less invasive, less destructive, less expensive and more effective than what standard Western medicine had to offer.

Courtlin was spending far too much time on the computer in his investment management job, sending him into searing back pain. At a Dr. Zunin’s office in 2013, Courtlin was given three options by nurse practitioner Christine Lee: “We can do surgery on your spine, or shoot needles into your back with pain relievers, or YOU can do yoga and pilates and get to the source of your problem. If you choose the last option, there’s a place called Still & Moving Center with just what you need.”

Courtlin chose Door Number Three and Truc came with him. Truc struggles with autoimmune conditions. Previously working in an underground room with no windows in Vietnam, then in a high stress finance position in Honolulu, Truc had quit her job and was still suffering from intense headaches.

Per instructions, they took Pilates (from LiSi Yang), quite a few yoga classes (from teachers including Claudia Castor and David Sanders), and added Feldenkrais (with Eva, Eve and Brigitte). Truc sampled a little of everything. After one of my Nia classes, she commented, “Every teacher here has taught me to be more aware of my body,” and I was elated by that comment confirming the core of what we do at Still & Moving.  Truc’s headaches largely went away and Courtlin’s back pain abated entirely.

Still seeking body and mind improvement, they continued to take classes. Two of our teachers made an especially profound impact upon them over the years: Jerry Punzal and Malia Helela.

Jerry Punzal taught an excellent Tai Chi program here until his farm in Mililani demanded his increased attention. Truc, Courtlin, Cynthia Murata and I were some of his faithful attendees. Jerry imparts a deep sense of calm; anyone who listens carefully can glean  a lot from his wisdom and life experience. Practicing with Jerry was a great antidote to Truc’s anxiety, and provided a tremendous focus to counteract the scattered, frenetic energy of Courtlin’s work world. They both learned to relax, not to try so hard, to get out of their heads, and not to over analyze it.

Kumu Malia’s classes were like a sweet, soothing balm to Truc, unlike the regimented hula she had taken under other kumu hula (hula teachers) elsewhere. As Courtlin says, Malia’s hula is like “tai chi with music and rhythm: you learn balance, weight shifting and awareness so as not to crash into people around you!”  Through Kumu Malia, Truc connected for the first time with the culture and language of Hawaii, and especially with the ‘aina, the land.

Courtlin and Truc have stayed very close to Jerry Punzal, eventually going into partnership with him on his farm, continuing to improve their wellbeing by working the land. Jerry has been interested to see their organic growing practices for veggies and Vietnamese medicinal herbs.  To initiate their new little company, Buddha Belly Farms, Truc learned from Kumu Mālia the protocol to ask permission to start the project, even chanting a blessing in Hawaiian. Jerry’s farm has been another peaceful influence in their lives.

Meanwhile, Truc has been able to return back to work in a flexible manner that adjusts to the needs of her health, often helping others with theirs. She has been working as a medical and legal interpreter in Federal and State courts, and at  Queen’s Hospital translating for people with cancer or needing surgery. As Courtlin comments, “It’s scary enough if you understand if you can people coming at you with needles and knives; much worse if you don’t understand the language.” So Truc’s services have been much appreciated.

Courtlin left investment management for a less intense career, now heading to Vietnam for a job that has been offered to him. Jerry will no doubt keep their young company going until whenever they may return.

The hula halau has provided Truc with strong friendships, in addition to those she has made in classes with students such as Surapee Surapai, Joyce Nakauchi, Linda Awana, and Cassandra Tengen. No matter where this couple go, their classes here may stop but not the friendships, says Courtlin. That has been the biggest benefit to their time at Still & Moving Center, and those friendships will continue on.

We’ll look forward to hearing their progress in Vietnam and to the time when Truc and Courtlin can return to visit us here! Until then, “A hui hou!”


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