Year of birth: 1970
Lives in: Boulder/ Colorado, USA
Occupation: Traditional Chinese Medical Healing Arts Practitioner and Qigong Teacher
Shoe size: US 6.5
At some point in our interview, Jenny Bertram starts recalling her childhood. Her trip down memory lane before a webcam in Boulder, US, is captivating to listen to, thousands of kilometres away across the ocean at the Hanwag headquarter in Vierkirchen, Germany. Jenny’s childhood involves a trip around the world, back in time to Wisconsin, the Great Lakes, white beaches and the deep and endless forest. It sounds like paradise. She joyfully recalls running through the forest when she “was about seven” and being something of an elfin-like child, but a wild, free spirit at the same time. She skipped over rocks, listened to the hum of bumblebees and the roar of bullfrogs, the buzz of mosquitoes and enjoyed feeling the sun’s rays. “I wasn’t aware that there was another world outside,” she said. It didn’t interest her either. “I only wanted to be outdoors.”
Today, Jenny’s over 50 but still likes roaming the forests, but a little more to the west now, in the Rocky Mountain state of Colorado. However, her inner child has never left her. She says as much herself: “That will always be a part of me.” She remarks that she still is somewhat untamed even if people might not think so at first glance. She reckons that “all of us have that side in us.”
The journey back to her childhood is also one marked by the typical rich tapestries of life. She speaks about the death of a good friend and of being burnt out when she was young. From then on, she focused on seeing the big picture instead of just small chapters, such as why people get sick and that many things start because your soul’s broken. Anyone who, like she does, takes a holistic approach, is constantly observing and learning. She says that she “enjoys taking deep dives” and her sentences frequently start with phrases like “I enjoy” or “I love” For instance, she says “I love old stories and lore.”
So, it’s no surprise that Jenny has two college degrees, one in traditional Chinese medicine and a master of divinity in Buddhist studies. What’s more, she spent several years practising and improving her skill set, for instance, by learning about the five pillars of Chinese medicine and its various elements, or acupuncture to nutrition and meditation. She’s currently focusing on her role as a Qigong teacher.
But alongside all these qualifications, the great outdoors with its forests, mountains, lakes, and streams is waiting. “I love being surrounded by nature. It teaches us everything,” said Jenny.
She comments that she goes hiking at least three to four times a week and that nature is never far away. She explains that Qigong involves moving your body “like a river, a tiger, or bamboo in the wind.” Listening to her talk, although she’s on the other side of the world in Boulder, she’s so inspiring, you can’t help but want to take a deep dive into yourself and head off into the mountains.
I really need to be close to water. I virtually grew up on Wisconsin’s Great Lakes and spent a magical part of my life on the Pacific. Today, as a mountain girl in the iconic Rockies, I love mountain streams and lakes – perhaps even more than the vast ocean.
I know the Indian Peaks Wilderness like the back of my hand. The area also has some uncharted paths and secret places with alpine pastures, beautiful mountain lakes and old reservoirs…. These are my spaces in the hinterland, at least five miles from civilisation where you can really be at one with nature.
Even as a child, some of my friends used to call me J-Bird. Because I was often a bundle of energy. Just like a little bird, I often used to fly round and round on my own. Today, I’ve got tattoos of birds all over my body and clearly have a spiritual connection with my feathered friends. They’re always drawn to me, even the eagles. I’m surrounded by them and love it.
I like being out and about in the forests because I don’t have to wear any makeup or a posh frock there. I can just be myself. That’s punk rock. Nature is punk rock, badass, fantastic, wonderful, and gritty. What’s more, music is a huge part of my life. I love live music, I love poetic old school punk such as Patti Smith, The Replacements or Sonic Youth. It fills us with joy and you can just let go, just like you can in the great outdoors.
I’d always want to walk. I like the pace of walking and carrying a backpack. My husband’s a keen cyclist and I encourage him. But I’d always go on foot, even if I had to cover several miles. I like unrushing my world.