Saturday, April 30, 2011

I Heart Boobies

Acupuncture is a holistic medicine: it takes into account the whole person, i.e., how a person is affected physically and emotionally by symptoms. So I've learned to consider both aspects when listening to a patient's medical history.

My iron butterfly of a friend, who is young, recently had surgery in response to some cells that appeared to be getting out of hand in the boobie area. She said to me: "Breast cancer seems to be an emotional cancer. It seems to trigger people emotionally more than say, thyroid cancer."
Hearing about her experience I thought, "I am not exempt; this could happen to me too."
So I asked myself, how are my boobies? Physically, I've got the breast self-exam covered. Emotionally, I realized that just thinking about about my entire chest area, I had a reaction. I felt tightness in my chest and my breathing got shallow. So my internal conversation continued....I asked myself "what word would I use to describe how I feel about that area of my body?" The word that immediately came to mind was 'underdeveloped'. My rib cage must have decided it didn't need any extra padding, because it likes to be visible. I thought about my childhood. I realized that I felt Ninety percent of the people in my life were a lot older than me. Older meant taller, smarter, funnier, more important, more capable, socially adept, able to drive, make money, leave the house. From my perspective, nothing I could say or do could measure up to their wealth of experience. This feeling stuck.

Instead of wallowing here, I asked myself "What is the gift from this? How did that experience benefit me?" It took me a couple days to mull this part over. Then I it hit me that this has shaped who I am in a major way:
First, I learned to believe myself. Just because my news (learning to ride a bike, skinning my knees on a fall, etc.) was old news to everyone else, my experience was still vividly real to me.
Second, it created a sense of empathy for people's small big moments. If a 5 year old tells me the sky is falling, I'm actually interested in what they're experiencing. If you buy a new bookcase and it makes you really happy inside, I feel your joy. I know that the smallest experience can feel like a big deal.
This perspective influences the way I communicate with every single person in my life! I approach people from a lets-be-equals approach instead of I'm under par or you're under par. I value your big small moments, because those are what make up most of our existence after all.

Thank you iron butterfly! Now, I am grateful. I heart the act of heart-opening.

(By the way...A Federal court ruled this month that the 'I heart Boobies' bracelets are OK again for kids to wear in school. I hope our young girls are hearting their boobies.)

Friday, April 29, 2011

5 Element Green Juice

Some have seen me carrying around my mystery green drink for weeks. Since I have now recited it's ingredients enough times to make a Sesame Street song out of it, I'm sharing it here. This is a refreshing juice/snack that is great between meals. It helps me work more fruits and veggies into my day.
According to Chinese Medicine, just about everything can be categorized according to 5 elements: water, wood, fire, earth, and metal. Each element also has a taste associated with it.
Water: Salty
Wood: Sour
Fire: Bitter
Earth: Sweet
Metal: Pungent/Spicy
This juice includes all 5 elements, which makes it balanced.

30oz Water (or mixed with juice of choice - Carrot, Pineapple, etc.)
1 Banana (Sweet/Earth)
1 Lemon, fresh squeezed (Sour/Wood)
1" cube of fresh Ginger (Pungent/Metal)
1 tsp Cinnamon (Bitter/Fire)
1 leaf Kale (about the size of a dollar bill)
1 small handful Parsley
1 handful Walnuts (Salty/Water)
1-2 Tbsp Maple syrup

Add all to the blender, and whirr away (depending on your food processor/blender, it may take up to 2 minutes to blend until smooth).

This makes about two 20oz drinks. I immediately pour them into Ball canning jars or old spaghetti sauce jars and seal them up. Perfect for on-the-go with a straw, or they can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.


Oprah's dog

No, this is not a blog about Oprah's dog getting acupuncture. But it does work wonders on on animals!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Life changer

I didn't quite realize that by deciding to become an acupuncturist, I'd be changing my entire lifestyle. I've never been required to change my personal habits for my job before. Now, I am now my product and service: I'm the one deciding where to put needles into a patient and I'm the one actually handling the needles. A lot goes into those two things! This means that, for this career, I've committed to:

  • A lifetime of learning. Not only am I required to get continuing education credits; there will always be something to learn about this medicine. I have a teacher who's been practicing over 30 years and still goes to study groups! This means a major investment in books. I may start recommending acupuncture books at my book club.  
  • Acting like a hand model: I need my hands and wrists intact and my nails kept short. No slamming them in doors, no skiing accidents. I'm investing in super padded oven mitts. And maybe all kitchen gadgets that are hands-free...peelers? knives? graters? Hand lotions, sanitizers and warmers are staples.
  • Keeping my hair and jewelry out of the way. No more giant clocks around my neck, and I can't even consider a Justin Beiber haircut.
  • Keeping my garlic intake to a minimum...or investing in powerful breath tools. No more overdosing on Indian food right before an afternoon block of appointments.
  • Working on my posture. There is actually a way to stand, hold and insert a needle that requires my entire body. 
  • Flat shoes. At least for now. No teetering necessary with a needle in hand.
  • Paying attention to my own health. I now need to be actively mindful of practicing what I preach. Diet, exercise, sleep, water. And I now have the excuse to have regular massages and facials.
  • No more drama. Mary J, be my witness.
  • Being an avid listener. If a patient comes in 10 months in a row telling me about how they stub their toe on their cat's litter box every day, I promise to stay interested (and honest...I might tell you to not come back until you've moved the darn thing).
  • And more...
Why am I willing to rearrange my life for this job? For you. Spending my days talking about what matters in life to my patients is why I'm doing this. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It takes a village

It takes a village to get through acupuncture school. And I've never felt a closer sense of community than here. My school - Tai Sophia - has very specific way of building a sense of community from day one that is pretty remarkable. My classmates and I know each other's full names. We notice when someone is missing from class. We listen when each other speaks. We've presented soul-baring projects to each other. We've pointed out each others strengths and weaknesses. We've had to strip down to our skivvies to practice finding acupuncture points. For better or worse, we are family. What this has given me is a safe place to learn, question and grow with confidence; an environment to learn this healing art with grace and competency. All I can do is pay it forward: this is the environment I strive to offer in my treatment room.