Rachel’s Story: Part 2

“Hilarious!! Stick needles in people?”  Yeah right…!

Trish kept mentioning it, and it only took me a few more weeks to hear her. With encouragement from her and Matt I generated enough curiosity and confidence to attend an open house at then Tai Sophia (now MUIH)… Maybe I would become some kind of healer after all?

Looking back now, there were many moments that pointed to “healer” – my fascination with medicine women in stories books and non-fiction, my rock collection and interest in gemstone healing properties, my attempts to use my hands and energy to heal twisted ankles at summer camp and my mom’s headaches at home…

So, on a quiet Saturday morning I showed up to check out the scene for schooling; I walked in – I knew I was home. Now, which program would it be?

I was able to sit in on a few classes to get a feel for the programs. Still determined that I would not become an acupuncturist, I sat in on other programs first. Not quite the right fit… I felt like Goldilocks. Finally, in class #3 on a totally different day I attended what we lovingly call “Bobservation” with one of my beloved teachers, Bob Duggan. I had found “just right.”

I observed, completely overwhelmed and inspired, as I experienced the transformation of a woman who for the first time in her adult life came to know and love herself as more than her disease label, “bipolar.” During the entirety of the class I found myself nodding in agreement, it was as if what I was listening to and seeing was both coming from deep within my heart and from the outside world simultaneously – right there inside of me was an orchestra consisting of veteran and new musicians… playing the most beautiful piece of music.

On January 4, 2010 I started the acupuncture program and life has never been the same. During those first few months everything was shifting (and it has continued to!). I became more present in my relationships and to myself. I am deeply coming to understand my symptoms, my ailments, my ways of being and to look at myself not as a victim of my symptoms yet instead as a rich wealth of information for how to live my life. I respect and value what these symptoms have to offer me by way of either: Rachel, you are in alignment with yourself and life or Rachel, you are OUT of alignment with yourself and life — all based on what is happening with my body and my emotions.

My classmates and I were doing this together – building deep and important relationships with our individual selves and with one another. I first noticed Joy because she looked like a dancer to me – and I wondered if she’d been a ballerina. She seemed graceful and a little bit plucky, too – cool combo, I thought. Then one day when we were all teaching each other in class about how to live well, she shared a story about how a post-it note she put on her steering wheel was helping her learn to slow down on the road and in life. She described how her body and attitude were different – less “stress,” more relaxed, less shoulder and temple tension (not to mention less cursing the people who cut you off in traffic!). She was really living this transformation thing!

I determined we should be friends, so I courted her for her friendship.

A few months later, I sat in the audience as my new friend gave a presentation. We were in a class with a wonderful teacher, a John’s Hopkins cardiologist with an additional love for neurology. He designed an opportunity for each of us to select a critical thinking project near and dear to our hearts and/or interests in some way. As a bunch of Chinese medicine students, you might be able to imagine the diversity in our class – we’re impressive! Career changers, retirees, parents, fresh faces of recent college graduates, military, flower children… and unique combinations of all of it – it’s quite something. There was no mistaking that Joy and I shared some similarities together amidst this vast and wonderful diversity. We were of only a few who showed up in our business attire, PowerPoint presentations and handouts in tow. Her speaking was confident, funny, together and inspiring. Her presentation on the enteric nervous system blew me out of the water.

I knew right then and there – she and I have work to do in this world, together.

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