Monthly Archives: October 2011

Needles & Death



Pumpkins (and vegetables of the like) are like one of the last pushes from Mother Earth after a long, warm pregnancy of spring & summer. All of a sudden, Boop! There are little pumpkin earth babies about the land …and in piles at the stores. Just in time as father fall swoops in with his chilly nights enough to keep the pumpkins fresh for a while, for all to enjoy… thoroughly!

This year I put a lot of thought into decorating my beautiful pumpkin. One single SEIRIN acupuncture needle. Not just any needle but my first needle, from my very first box of 100. They are one-time use and come individually wrapped and sterilized, by the way.

Some people are totally creeped out (and/or uncomfortable, scared, unsure, sensitive, naive, etc, etc) by needles, specifically. I’m meeting more and more of them since the topic of needles is naturally coming up more. Obviously needles are one of the biggest tools(*see below) for facilitating deep healing through acupuncture. With peoples fear of needles in mind I choose to take graphic, up close pictures of my needled pumpkin flesh. Hopefully one day it gives at least one on-looker feelings of fear, heebie jeebies, anger, whatever the needle fear is rooted in- I hope they feel that upon seeing the picture. Because its Halloween, duh. Otherwise that would be totally inappropriate!
That’s not the complete point of my decoration though. Essentially, the artistic message is that something that’s part of one persons nightmare (needles! AHH!) can be apart of another persons dream (mine!).

Fall can be a really awesome, inspirational time of year. Outside the air and sunlight take on new qualities, right before our eyes the trees and plant life react to the change through a display of colors.(depending on location – Seattle in Autumn is fairly solid minus the higher than average # of gloom days) It’s as if the leaves are making their final statements of that year before they fall and return to earth.

tree at my apartment in Seattle

People themselves act pretty far out and epic during this time of year as well with colorful, flashy costumes and decorations. The general public have their last burst of outside-with-nature energy by “trick or treating”, fall hikes, meandering at the farmers markets, sitting outside the cafe’s and restaurants on warmer days…socializing, late harvest gatherings, outdoor sports, strolls, bike rides, everything “while we still can”. More like- while we still want to!

We enjoy these life treats because the flip side of this time of year is tricky.
Things are tricky because with this time of year comes an end. The hope of Spring, the passion of Summer & the surrender of Late Summer is all cooling down. Fall is as the leaves do, leaving the trees bare and life, colder. There is happiness, beauty and grief in this process.

It is about letting go. Plain and simple. Except, it’s not always simple. Don’t let ’em fool you into thinkin’ it is!
For a long time the words “let go” have been a source of bereavement  in my life. People always say to do it…but where is the acknowledgment in doing it? There was none, I thought. We’re just supposed to do it. Not everything is easy to let go of. My teacher, nature, doesn’t have nearly as many reservations about letting go, it just does it. The living plant and animal world around us is very much in tune with a higher power, a life source, God, what-have-you so they seem to have innate knowledge that everything is in its right place and mostly know what they should do next.

Birds leave their summer nests and flock to a new direction, flowers and leaves wilt and the tree releases them. Who knows, really, what drives the force. But the force is qi – life energy. That same qi is in us, at all times. However, we are not as pure as the healthiest of oak trees. (Yet, there’s nothing wrong with striving after the standards of that oak!) Not every tree and natural life beyond humans are in perfect harmony. I’ve certainly seen diseased trees with an awkward array of discolored leaves very late into Winter. Trees like that are most likely struggling and/or on their last limbs. But most of nature knows that the ability and act of letting go (of their leaves, their nests, whatever) is essential to healthy life.

Now is the time for me to acknowledge the calender year of 2011 that was just had and am having. What a ride. So much has happened! And to let go of what doesnt “serve my highest self” anymore. I started school in Colorado this September and couldn’t be more happy with the decision to go there. Every single day (of the 14 day intensive) I learned something new about myself and the medicine I’m learning. Actually, I faced a lot of fear there too…and can already tell I’m better for it.

I’m in between intensive 5 and 6 now, as a “second year” student. The second year at ITEA has a lot of  focus on developing ourselves, inside and out, to be good practitioners. My clinic experience doesn’t begin untill third year. It turns out that my first idea of moving to Colorado next summer, into Louisville, doesn’t seem like it will work out as I initially envisioned it. My physical presence is needed in Colorado sooner than summer… most likely spring time. My vision at first was this whole country-like living situation…but after spending a couple of weeks there I realized that Louisville isn’t really THAT much of a country (more like a spacious ‘burb). Nearby Boulder, however, is pretty cool. I need to be able to network and build a client base. So that’s the plan. Boulder! A year ago if I heard this, I’d be like – wait, what!?
It all works out.

So here I am, still living my fairly newly established life in Seattle, while I’ve already had a taste of my totally different future. I’m excited about what’s around the corner and also still really excited about being here now.  It feels a little like I’m straddling two realities. Then there is the past. The long-term past, the medium term past, the short-term past. Every event, every thing and every person that has brought me to this place in time. What do I do with it all? We can only hold onto so much if we want to take in more life… take in more places… more situations. So I guess, to my past: thank you…but I must go…goodbye?!?

I feel like my early 20’s have taught me a whole lot about letting go. It was something I was never accustom to. Death taught me how to let go in the most harshest and comprehensively incomprehensible way (yep).

“On Samhain, the midpoint between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice, the veil between the seen and unseen worlds is said to be the thinnest. This year take the time to acknowledge the ghosts of your personal and ancestral past, feed them, thank them and send them on their way.”

~Jim Tolstrup, writer for Elephant Journal

my last minute halloween costume(ish) this year! in honor of the (day of the) dead!

For the last few years, after gaining a healthy perspective of my loss through death, I take this time of year seriously. I allow myself to contemplate my friends and family who have passed away and honor their life and the unique lessons they brought me. My friends that died were young, around my age, and they are frozen in time that way – I see no future for them. When I’m old and gray, will they still be young or will they grow with me? Through these (J.M,J.C.,T.L.) tragic and unforeseen deaths, specifically, I struggled for a while. The effects of these deaths changed the way I looked at life and I saw it do the same to others, each in different ways. Reality was blurred and it was very confusing.  Ultimately, the key to regaining my former sanity was in letting go more than I was allowing myself to. So inevitably, I did that and chose to live for the better. The power and comfort of this kind of letting go is knowing it’s out of my hands, out of my control – completely.

I believe that my energy, thoughts, memories and love for my dead loved ones isn’t just for my own comfort… that in whatever form they’re in, its benefiting them, too.

Letting go of the living people and things on the earthly plane proves to be more of a challenge, although less dramatic. It’s just not as black and white. Transferring out of Wu Hsing Tao School at the time that I did was…perfect. It’s in harmony with the seasons and natural order. I’m sure that my work there is complete and I want no part of it anymore. When I began this blog, Wu Hsing was like the highlight of it. Now it’s not. Without much exploitation I’ll just say, there were bitter tastes left in my mouth when I left WHTS. Events kept conspiring to make that taste even worse in the weeks and months to follow my leaving there.  I kept it mostly to myself and my roommate, who used to work and be a student there as well. Then it turned out that the school lost their candidacy for accreditation status the last week I was at ITEA for my intensive. Even though I was already transferred, this was the final confirmation and validation for my choice… I swooped out of WHTS at the exact right time. There are great forces on my side! (credit: awareness, research, GUT feelings) With that being said, I’m washing my mouth out and letting that go. My time there was of great importance to me on this path and exactly what I needed, it’s over now. Exhale……

One night recently, before sleeping, I set the intention to have dreams of people and anything I need to let go of. I wanted my subconscious to show me what I was still holding onto… I was surprised with what I found. In dreams I was shown people (who were very beloved to me) and a time period that is so far gone, that I’m so okay with it being gone… but somewhere, for some reason, I’m still holding on to it. That was interesting, but I could see why it was all still present in my system.

Letting go of death comes more naturally, it’s safer, it’s invisible. Letting go of worldly things is risky, its questionable. But I believe if done correctly, it’s an act of Love. It’s also a challenge to allow yourself be let go of. What about the grey area? What is still in our control? What is correct? I’m still not totally sure…

It’s super tough to decide where the healthy boundaries are when it comes to letting go of people and life situations. Because we’re all alive here, and breathing the same air. Some things we want to live on forever – and some things do live forever in our lifetime! Other things are best put to rest…so we can continue living our best present moment. I don’t have enough energy to try to figure it all out! Categorizing what to keep, what to store and what to get rid of is a challenging act. But I know it is necessary.

The feeling of regret is the worst and I don’t ever marinate in it. Its only use is to alert me in how I can do something differently next time.  On that front of letting go, I’m good. Otherwise, I’m not master and I can’t claim to be going about things in all the right ways. But what I’ve come to realize is that- I’m trying here and I can tell that we all are, in our own way.  I sometimes am able to let go easily but wonder if it is too much, and feel bad if/when I unintentionally hurt people as a result. Or sometimes I find myself holding onto something – a thought, a memory, an article of clothing! and them I’m like – why?! Second guessing what we let go of and how we let go of it is strictly a human quality, pretty sure…

Instead of beating myself up over it- I’m accepting my imperfections in this department and turning my focus on forgiving and not judging myself and others.

Looking at nature it reminds me that letting go doesnt have to equal chronic loss. It says, relax, release, go inward – just because you cant see it, doesn’t mean its gone. Trust that the flowers will grow again next spring… and breathe…

*Currently I have no mind to try and convince people to not fear needles and to try acupuncture despite a strong aversion to the idea of it. Actually, I think that would be futile, invasive and against our entire philosophy. For the record, acupuncture needles are completely different instruments all together than intravenous needles. If someones aversion is not a direct result of their history with needles in standard western medicine than I’d like to understand where the feelings are coming from. The only thing I can do right now is learn how to  make people more comfortable and at ease with the use of needles in acupuncture, if they are truly interested in the medicine. Whatever discomfort one has with the actual treatment and use of acupuncture needles, it is usually worth it, because of  the lifestyle benefits as far as managing and preventing other “pain” whether it be physical, emotional or psychological.

On the drive from Oregon to Washington after completing the Clean Needle Certification course on October 23rd!