The way things are working just isn’t working. People are dying, isolated, lying to themselves and each other. Everyone is more anxious or tuned out. Much of this is fabricated and enhanced to benefit a powerful few. Some people think they’re on the brink of everything working out for them, but they’ve always been on this edge and they will never get to the other side doing and believing the same things that have kept them here.
We’re stuck in old patterns. The social contract we’ve been handed is corrupt and frankly unenforceable.
I don’t have the ability to properly identify and intervene in all the patterns, but I know we can’t let the immensity of the problems paralyze us. Wherever we can reintroduce some gentle, easeful movement into the system, that’s where healing begins.
And what is healing but becoming more comfortable with the truth – with the way things are? What is healing but becoming friends with time as it bridges who you are, how you’ve come to this moment, and what the future holds.
My practice is healing. It’s welcoming life as it is, and opening up the pathways life needs to flow and flourish. Expanding the quantity and quality of available options.
This is work most of us can’t do without help. How can I stand for liberation when it’s only accessible to a few? I went on retreat last week (see pics!) and came back ready to stand by some fiery changes. The biggest change is financial: if you have been rationing your care for financial reasons, let’s talk about changing that. My pricing structure is shifting to a donation basis, with the suggested contribution from $20-$200. In an inequitable system, one set rate doesn’t adequately reflect the value my work holds. Becoming yourself is healing, and it takes dedication and courage – I like doing that work with people who show up fully. If it’s easy for you to send money via PayPal or CashApp, please do that and choose gifts to a friend. Even better is cash.
The other changes are about clearly and publicly stating some of my political views and the ways I see them intertwined with personal health. You can see the details on the website. They aren’t big changes in my outlook, and they aren’t big changes in the scheme of things worldwide. But I’m moving with what I have, in my own small way, in the direction of a better world, together with others. We need more people moving from their deepest truth. People are born inherently good.
I’m looking forward to any conversations this brings up, and probably some unsubscribes! That’s okay – I’m happy connecting with people who know their freedom is bound up with everyone’s.
Our deeds are fetters that we forge ourselves… but I think it is the world that brings the iron. – George Eliot
I recently discovered a service that delivers a variety of fresh produce to my home every week. I love being surprised by their selections, and letting that novelty stimulate my creativity in the kitchen. At the same time, I love the consistency of a weekly infusion of fresh fruits and vegetables, no shopping necessary. It’s also customizable and affordable, with a mission to improve access to healthy foods in underserved communities. Check them out at brightsidempls.org and use the code FRIEND for 20% off your first delivery. I think I will get a discount, too, if you mention my name.
What fuels your life these days? Where is your day-to-day physical sustenance coming from, and also what inspires your sense of wonder in every moment? Who supports you, as you are?
It’s normal to feel uncomfortable as the ground beneath our feet continues to move and shift. But…
Uncertainty is the most magical state, where anything can happen!
(If you’re having trouble accessing that sense of magic, it’s not your fault. We all need help and encouragement to realize the best of who we are.)
Thank you to all of you who trust me to support and nurture your health. Wholeness is not an easy path in a world that is deranged in so many ways, and it’s an honor to walk with you.
Sometimes on the journey, it’s necessary to compartmentalize and focus on one emergent section, but it’s always connected. It’s important to take a step back occasionally and see the bigger picture. Now, with so many veils ripped away, the picture is A LOT to take in. An individual can’t heal without their community. It demands a lot of time, and I’m taking my time with it as much as I can. I’ve been giving the whole picture my fullest attention, which has often been actually very fragmented.
This letter has a lot of densely-packed ideas and information. Please take it at your own pace, and reach out if you want to process some of it with me or someone else you trust.
There are three intertwined pandemics I’m holding right now, and we need to pull together to address all of them:
The information about the longterm effects of COVID-19 has continued to come into fuller focus. This is a serious virus that can be deadly, but even when it’s not, it can change lives. Put simply, inflammation is one of the top causes of disease and aging, and this is a very inflammatory virus. Do everything you can to avoid getting it.
There is evidence that wearing a mask reduces viral load and therefore reduces severity. Please always wear a mask when you are indoors with others!
And rest as much as you need to even after you think you should have fully recovered. The post-viral phase is crucial as your body works to clear out pockets of viral material in multiple organ systems. Common longterm symptoms include debilitating fatigue and inability to concentrate, and may seem to be intertwined with anxiety and depression. They resemble the same multi-system mystery conditions that I’ve studied and successfully treated for years.
Ideally, you will get herbs early, or not, and have a mild two-week case, end of story. But for anyone who is struggling with symptoms long after, I can help them get through that. This work is deeply rewarding for me. No one should experience these symptoms without relief and support.
The beautiful and terrifying thing about this virus has been the way it has revealed the severity of other, ongoing pandemics. The way it is creating opportunities to address them, and creating immediately harsh consequences for trying to ignore those opportunities. Why do some of us feel such rage right now? In my own case, it’s coming from a part of me that doesn’t want to change. I see people denying the reality, and it reflects back an image I don’t like of myself, denying reality for the sake of convenience and ease. It’s a lot of f***ing reality in our faces right now! Especially if we’re white and have had ways to stuff it away (onto others) without really noticing. But we need to take back our share, and chew through the reality, tough as it is, one bite at a time.
Systemic racism is a health crisis that has been mismanaged in this country, with its effects suppressed and lied about. We all have struggles, but the color of our skin shouldn’t be one of the reasons we struggle. We can all get sick, but the color of our skin shouldn’t automatically increase our chances of dying. The way to address it is to keep educating ourselves – I’m speaking as a white person to a group of people who are mostly white. Keep examining our roles and assumptions, keep centering Black leaders, and keep showing up when there’s heavy lifting to do.
July 20th has been set aside as a day to strike in support of Black lives. If your absence at work would make an impact, please consider joining. In my work, my presence makes more of an impact, so I will be working that day, and making a donation to support BIPOC families in need. Visit j20strikeforblacklives.org for more information.
The third pandemic is one I’ve been banging on about for years, mostly ineffectually. Isolation and loneliness are killing us. Trauma is isolating, capitalistic stratification is isolating, heteronormativity and cisnormativity and all the ways we feel different and othered are isolating. Post-viral, amorphous, longterm disabilities like I described earlier are isolating, as is white supremacy in all its explicit and implicit forms. And then, like a snake eating its own tail, isolation is itself traumatizing, making us feel helpless and frozen and unable to reach out.
I know how powerful it can be to feel seen and heard. For some, the epidemic has meant profound touch starvation, and acupuncture is a safe way to nourish that very human need. Consider making an appointment for that. My hours are still very limited, but if you’re reading this letter, we have a connection that’s important to me, and I’m here for you. We’ll work together to work together.
Another way to connect is around the Refuse to Return movement. Acting with others is profoundly healing, and standing up together in recognition that life is valuable in itself is healing. The lives of children, teachers, healthcare workers, and their families are more valuable than the economy. Insisting that schools should only open when there have been no new cases in an area for 14 consecutive days is a way to say that we choose to care for each other over caring for companies and profits. There can be no economy without healthy people interacting with each other. You’re welcome to join the movement on facebook or twitter, or, as always, to talk with me about it if you want.
Finally, if you’re interested in reading some of what has been influencing me lately, please enjoy the following (with frequent breaks to stretch and breathe and drink water and listen to your body):
Do you feel like you’re getting all the space and support your system needs to process and unfold into this dramatically changing world? With so much outside of our control, I’ve been experimenting with new ways to address those needs that are more focused on the details we can change and influence in our daily lives.
The I Ching is literally The Book of Changes, and I’ve returned to studying it daily and sharing those insights with people in 20 or 40 minute bites that are really about holding space for the process of change. Thank you to everyone who’s joined in those conversations! Please email if you’re interested.
And thank you to all of you who have engaged with me in response to the last newsletter. These are tough times, and if we can pull together, we’ll be so much stronger.
Acupuncture is back, too, and I know a lot of you are needing that level of care. I’m at a beautiful new location in south Minneapolis (4100 Grand Ave S), in a very part-time capacity.
I’m looking forward to seeing your faces when the time is right!
My work is helping people heal, and Black lives matter in the context of all of us healing.
Some of you have heard me say with my usual saltiness that you can do the work of achieving and maintaining a healthy body, or you can do the work of living in a sick body, but the work exists either way.
We have all been trying to thrive within a deeply pathological system built on the dehumanization of Black/ indigenous people of color. Those of us who have the privilege of not seeing it every day got a glimpse when we saw the full video of a police officer with a smirk on his face murdering a Black man while his partner mocked concerned onlookers. It’s ugly and sick beyond words. We knew things like that were happening all the time and we didn’t do enough to stop them. The work of living in a society this sick is not working.
This is an invitation to do our healing work differently.
I have been a good listener, but more is needed, so I will work harder to meet everyone in my clinic community where they are, and support them from there. I am committing to do a better job of connecting people to all the resources they need, because what I offer isn’t always enough.
Let’s have some long conversations. Let’s choose the work of full lives for everyone.
Now that masks and tests are more accessible, it feels right to offer acupuncture home visits. This option reduces exposure by keeping you in the safety of your home and employing masks throughout the session. Instead of talking during the appointment (and increasing the chance of exchanging respiratory droplets), we will talk via phone or video chat first. Online scheduling has been disabled for now – please reach out directly to make an appointment.
These visits are not without risk. There is a small possibility that we could be contagious without symptoms. However, there are enough people with chronic pain and anxiety problems that I’ve decided to take this step to help where I can. Sometimes there is no substitute for in-person medicine.
But in general, substitute we must, and as humans are wont to do, we are learning and adapting. We’re finding that telemedicine sessions can help provide a little extra containment when we need it most. I’m doing 30 minute sessions to answer nutrition questions, offer acupressure tips, and just set aside some friendly face time for anyone who might need that.
And, of course, Chinese herbal formulas are superstars. I’ve really fallen in love all over again with herbal medicine, and I’m so grateful to have this tool to help people. Anyone who’s worked with me knows I tend to favor subtractive medicine over additive. I won’t prescribe a formula if we can achieve a similar result through diet and lifestyle changes. But for those who need extra support, Chinese herbs are one of the most powerful ways we have to alleviate symptoms and help the body recover from a variety of internal and external imbalances.
One last thing to mitigate the physical distancing: many of you know I’ve been on about the link between health and strong social connections for a very long time. It’s now more important than ever. I’ve started a simple email list for anyone who feels like they need to have more people to call for mutual aid and support. If you’re interested in joining that group, just send me an email! We are a community, and that means we are here for each other. Being here implies sharing resources within a space. The space might be more expansive than before, but we can grow to meet each other, even better than we did before.
This is just to connect and create a space where we can share notes on this collective journey. It’s an uncertain time, and rich with potential. It’s a transformative time. We can emerge from this stronger than we were before.
Let’s start small, though. Let’s start with what we know.
Here are some things I know for sure:
I miss all of you! I have taken some time to do my own grieving, and I know there will be more in the coming days. If you need support with your grieving process, please reach out. I can help. We are in a hard and scary time, and I know how to make hard things easier and scary things friendlier.
Rituals are also nourishing, and a deeply ingrained tool to help us move through anxiety. Making tea has been one of my favorite daily rituals lately. This article explains some of the science behind the practice. If you want to talk about developing rituals that will support you, I’m here for that.
And here are some actions I’m taking despite a lack of perfect clarity:
In line with the CDC’s recommendations, I’m wearing a fabric mask whenever I am in situations where people might be closer than six feet away. Here is an article with links to local mask makers.
There is a lot of incomplete, inaccurate, and contradictory information circulating around the latest coronavirus outbreak. This email is to help you sort through the noise and get prepared.
The most important thing to know is that there is no need to panic. The best way to avoid last-minute stress is to gather good information and prepare ahead of time. We are still learning, and the situation is changing every day. Based on the expert judgment of scientists who have been tracking it, this will be a pandemic and there will be widespread, problematic exposure in the U.S. But we can slow the spread and minimize strain on community resources. Part of being a good neighbor is taking responsibility for our own wellbeing during this time.
SARS-CoV-2 is a virus that spreads very effectively between humans via respiratory droplets and surfaces, sometimes before symptoms are recognized. We don’t know how often presymptomatic cases are transmitted. It is not airborne, like measles and smallpox. There are no antivirals or vaccines that reliably work against it yet. To reduce the risk of being infected and spreading infection:
Use strict hand hygiene: refrain from shaking hands, touching public surfaces, and touching your face. Start practicing now. Work with friends to develop awareness, and make it a game.
Wash hands frequently with soap and running water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid public gatherings and unnecessary travel, and work from home whenever possible.
There is strong evidence that Chinese medicine (CM) formulas can help curb the spread of contagious respiratory diseases. In three studies from 2004, herbal formulas were 100% effective in preventing the spread of SARS. In 2009, four studies showed that H1N1 influenza infection was significantly lower among people who were treated with CM. These studies are relevant because the symptoms and characteristics of those viruses are similar to the new coronavirus that is spreading.
If you do develop cold or flu like symptoms, call ahead before going to a clinic or hospital.
Masks have not proven to be an effective protection for the general public. They are useful to keep the already-sick people from spreading the virus. Think of them as keeping the pathogen in, not keeping it out.
Beyond these measures, it’s a good idea to steadily accumulate a supply of food, medicine, and hygiene needs that will last about 2 weeks. This article has a good approach.Based on the case studies available, I’ve stocked up on herbs that will help improve immunity and fight the pathogen if taken early enough, plus formulas to help with more serious respiratory conditions. I am happy to do herbal consult appointments for no charge other than the cost of herbs. I recommend stocking your medicine cabinet with these formulas, so you can prevent infection or respond at the very first sign of infection. This virus moves quickly. Early symptoms include sore throat, fever, runny nose, and cough. Some people also experience GI symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
COVID-19 is the disease that results from the virus. In most cases, it is a mild illness, but in 20% of cases, it causes severe viral pneumonia that is unresponsive to antibiotics and leads to long-term hospitalization. It has a mortality rate of 2-3%. The elderly are the most at-risk population for both hospitalization and death. If you have loved ones in a residential-care facility, start talking now about how the facility plans to prevent the spread of contagious diseases.
The progression of the illness seems to begin with an incubation period of about 5 days, although there have been reports of people developing symptoms more than 14 days after being exposed and testing negative. Most people will develop mild to moderate cases, and recover within 2 weeks. Day 7 has been reported as the worst. For those who become critically ill, medical attention is sought for shortness of breath and pneumonia around Day 4.
Let’s work together to keep ourselves and each other safe.
It’s normal to feel anxious about something with so many unknowns.
Early preparation doesn’t hurt anything if this turns out to be nothing, and it’s the best way to avoid panic if the more severe predictions turn out to be true.
Start maximizing your health and immune response now by exercising, getting enough rest, eating well, and practicing self-care… Acupuncture can be an important part of that routine!
As always, I’m committed to supporting the resiliency of our community however I can.
I just received a broken dish from one of my favorite artists – and it’s exactly what I wanted!
There is a tradition in Japan called kintsugi, or mending with gold, in which artisans lovingly restore broken ceramics by joining the pieces back together with gold-infused lacquer. It is the ultimate design solution: taking a challenging moment and transforming it into the moment when the magic really began. The result is something even more beautiful than the original – imbued with a sense of history and value that comes with repairing something you love instead of throwing it away.
According to Leonard Cohen, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” It’s a lovely reminder to honor the broken moments in your life.
Kintsugi is the perfect way to visualize the work I do with people who have experienced trauma or toxic stress. I combine acupuncture with Somatic Experiencing, which is a system of neurobehavioral techniques that are designed to transform trauma and chronic stress into ongoing growth and freedom. The work restores resiliency to the nervous system so we can pick ourselves up and continue moving in the direction of our brightest aspirations.
How resilient are you? If you’ve ever noticed that your anxiety and health problems seem to get worse with stress, or conversely, you seem to get sick whenever there’s a break in the action, that’s a sign that your unconscious mind is involved. It is a place of fragmentation – an opportunity to heal, as well as (an understandable!) temptation to stay small and inauthentic.
SE is effective for a wide range of challenges, including:
recent traumatic events, like car accidents and other high-impact injuries
concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
time in combat
physical assault and emotional abuse
social or intergenerational trauma, including poverty and feelings of otherness
childhood neglect and abuse, or other difficult childhood experiences
feeling overwhelmed with current ongoing demands of life, work, and family
feeling too sensitive to internal or environmental stimuli
grief and loss in relationships
grief and loss related to chronic pain and ongoing medical conditions
grief and loss related to health changes and aging
All of these experiences, especially when combined or added to each other over time, can disrupt endocrine function, muscle tonicity, and multiple organ systems.
Combined with Traditional Chinese Medicine, SE can help alleviate symptoms and restore health and vitality. People leave each session with renewed clarity and peace shining in their eyes. This is true beauty that everyone can see, and it’s Post Traumatic Growth at its best – transforming painful experiences into a life well-lived.
Your life matters, and your decision to heal yourself matters. The cracks and pain you’ve experienced can become part of the authenticity and goodness you bring to the world. The world doesn’t need perfect people, but it desperately needs people who are genuine and clear about where they’ve been and where they’re going.
The world needs people who are living into their fullness! This takes immense courage, and no one can do it alone.
During a typical Somatic Experiencing and acupuncture session, we will explore some of the ways that you know what you know about yourself and the world. Instead of unconsciously continuing to create a reality you don’t want, your orientation will shift more toward what’s true and supportive for your wellbeing.
We honor life’s transitions by becoming more conscious of our thoughts as they happen. Those thoughts, of course, become actions which become habits which become character. But you can’t think your way out of deeply imprinted patterns. We change thought processes from the bottom up, using information stored in the body. Better health and more ease in the world are the most common results. You become a more whole, embodied, resourced human being.
This is deep, integral work, with roots in indigenous shamanic practices as much as the latest neurobiology and behavioral research. While there are many admirable approaches to trauma healing, Somatic Experiencing is among the most comprehensive systems. For some people and situations, it matters to work with someone who has significant training and certification. If this work interests you, be sure to keep listening to your inner voice – it will guide you to people who are best for you.