My family gathered together last week to celebrate a wedding. I was excited to see my brother who has kids around the same age as my own because the last time we saw them a little over 3 years ago they had so much fun together. When I first saw my brother he looked exhausted and he was uncharacteristically quiet. It took me awhile to realize it was because he was in quite a bit of pain. He did a pretty good job of pushing through and hiding it but I saw him wince several times. On the second to last day before he went home we got to talking about what was going on, a chronic pain that was at times very debilitating was affecting pretty much every aspect of his life. Many days he couldn’t even get his socks on without help and while he was skiing still it wasn’t much fun and many times he could hardly walk after. The pain had been going on for over 3 years. He was hesitant to go to a doctor and he didn’t really know what else to do. His wife was massaging the area and feeding him nutritious foods but it was barely taking the edge off and he had kind of resigned himself to this just being the way it was going to be.
I offered acupuncture, my mom in her gentle pushy manner basically told him to sit down and do it. He was nervous about the needles, even swabbing the points seemed to send him through an anticipatory roof. He howled in pain when I gently put the needles in, one point in particular was really intense for him. I chuckled trying to lighten the mood telling him that many people who do acupuncture regularly would have said to that intense point, “oh I must have really needed that one!” The humor was lost on him in the moment so I also explained the points closer to the hands and feet is where the nervous system changes from motor to sensory so by needling these points it signals to the brain to make a change faster than simply putting needles in to the affected area. . It wasn’t quite a relaxing environment, kids running around, people eating dinner etc. He called to have the one point adjusted and I did and he felt some relief. Twenty minutes later I took the needles out. His face didn’t look so tired and for the first time all weekend he was the chatterbox he usually is. “I don’t know what you did but my hip feels a lot looser.” and “That one point really hurt but I kind of want you to do it again.” His movements were a little more graceful and his posture had improved.
We saw him again the next day and he was feeling much better. He was apprehensive about doing another treatment because of the intensity of the day before. I explained that in Chinese Medicine pain is called an obstruction. The points felt so sensitive because they had been blocked for so long. That powerful sensation he felt is called “da qi” in Chinese. It means the arrival of qi. Basically energetically blood and qi flow were not moving which was causing a build up of heat and pain in the hip, low back and groin. When da qi happened it opened the blocked channels allowing the body to use its resources to heal bringing fresh blood flow to the area. Finally after a few hours he mustered up the courage for another treatment. It was very similar to the one before. He was bracing himself for that strong sensation again and he barely felt it. He was able to relax much more this treatment and when he went to leave it was the first time in I can’t even remember that he was able to stand up straight. His movements were fluid instead of guarded and cautious.
It was an incredible example of the healing power of acupuncture. Acupuncture is simple medicine, many times referred to as ‘barefoot medicine” (I was in my socks for both treatments). Our bodies are quite good at keeping us alive but many times the efficiency of this skill leaves us functioning less than optimally. Acupuncture is like a reset to say ok we don’t have to just get by we can tap into our healing reserves and thrive. This is why people notice a boost in energy, a better night’s sleep, better digestion, better mood etc after a treatment regardless of what their main complaint is.
I wanted to share this story because pain is especially isolating. Three years is a long time to barely get by, be exhausted by pain and not know what is wrong or where to go to not just get pain relief but allow for the body to heal and get back to an active lifestyle that he enjoys. The thing is, is that acupuncture is not an either/or. Acupuncture is a yes and medicine. You don’t have to choose between acupuncture and western medicine practices. You don’t even have to choose between acupuncture and other modalities like chiropractic, massage, etc. Many times incorporating acupuncture into your healing plan is the missing piece to get off whatever plateau you’ve been on in your healing. And its important to note that acupuncture was intended to be a medicine of prevention. You don’t have to wait for something to go wrong to benefit. Many people use acupuncture as a way to manage life’s stressors on a weekly, monthly or seasonal routine.
Has acupuncture helped you? I would love to hear your stories too. Share them here or on facebook. 🙂
There have been a lot of facebook posts going around (which I love btw) talking about couches being open to friends when they need a place to land, a shoulder to cry on etc.
I wanted to share this study I learned about awhile back that is so powerful especially so on blue Monday.
Many people especially in the Midwest suffer from seasonal affective disorder or SAD. Part of the problem is that we have less sunshine and the cold, dreary weather can contribute to isolation. We are social beings and need contact. Wayne Dyer describes a Swedish study of Random Acts of Kindness and serotonin levels. When a person practices an act of kindness his serotonin levels increase. The person receiving the act of kindness will also experience a boost in serotonin levels. And interestingly enough a witness to the act of kindness will also benefit with a rise in serotonin levels. What’s more is that this lift in endorphins has a lasting effect and because it impacts the giver, receiver and witness one small act of kindness can ripple out in the world. If the winter months leave you with a sense of dread this is a perfect time to practice random acts of kindness and contribute to not only your serotonin levels but those around you as well. The giver of kindness receives the highest boost in feel good endorphins but don’t be afraid to also receive kindness.
How many random acts of kindness can you offer your tiny corner of the world today? Lets raise up that serotonin! Share your stories on the facebook page. 🙂
I’ll leave you with this, my favorite happy pose, named fittingly so.
look up and laugh!
Happy Winter Solstice!
Today is the shortest day of the year and to me that feels like really good news. It means that everyday will become just a little bit lighter.
Like we talked about in the winter yogapuncture winter is the time of going inward, when our energy is deep and we should be resting. This can be tricky to balance with the holiday season.
Today take some time ideally somewhere between 3-7 (its when the kidney/urinary bladder the organ system of the season is most active in the body) and come into constructive rest pose. Its deeply restorative for your body and if held for 10 minutes is the equivalent of 2 hours sleep.
For more info and how to do constructive rest pose head over here to the archives! Breathe deep and enjoy!
Want to know more about thriving in the winter season? Join me Saturday Jan 14th at OhmMother Yoga for the next Seasonal Harmony: Yogapuncture for Winter. For more information and to register visit here.
I will admit I’ve been avoiding writing this last week. It seems like it should end with some Big Bang but it’s all very anticlimactic and technically it took me 41 weeks to grow Ian.
From a physical standpoint I’m pretty much the same on a scale as I was when I found out I was pregnant, most of my clothes from 40 weeks ago fit again but that’s not really why I wanted to catalog all of this.
I was completely disconnected when I got pregnant. I felt betrayed by my body and definitely did not trust it. I didn’t even know if I wanted to try getting pregnant again ever and then all of a sudden I was pregnant and mostly holding my breath waiting to have it all taken away. I still look at Ian some 40 weeks later and wonder in awe, where did you come from? Even if I don’t say it out loud he will sparkle his eyes and flash a smile of complete love only a 9 month old utterly in love with his mama can give. It’s all a blurry haze now, the losses even the pregnancy. Life moves so fast.
Facebook popped a photo 5 years ago I was just starting a new, opening a new, solo practice. I was so driven and organized and always on the move ( I was also teaching, working for hospice and other odds and ends) I found my business notebook not too long ago also filled with my monthly and weekly goals. It was amazing to see all that I had been able to accomplish in such a short time and then it bummed me out ( just a little ) where did that ultra organized, dare I say it successful woman go? I feel so scattered, washing the same pan over and over again, tending to my family. The days fly by and are challenging in different ways. I stopped being bummed and started feeling inspired when I thought of what a gift it is to be mostly home with work being a small snippet of my life. What a gift to raise my kids, to dig butterfly gardens and buy too many garden gnomes, to spend one day a week with my mom doing crazy projects, learning to use my hands in other ways. How on earth would I be able to manage running a household in this way if it weren’t for maintaining a community acupuncture clinic? I miss the buzz of a room full of blisssed out nappers, their tensions and pains easing. I miss using my brain and my heart in that way. I feel that buzz though when I get to watch the kids totally lost in play, I can almost feel their brains growing. I’m honing my emotional intelligence skills almost by the minute. And I know so very bittersweetly that this time will go by so very fast and I will look back on it fondly and whatever the next season is I will know without a doubt that this time being with small children will have prepared me for it.
If you’ve been reading along thank you for being a part of this process of discovery, acceptance, love. I catch Lia lifting her shirt up and staring in the mirror at her belly. There is no critical stare, no loathing or self hatred. I hope she can always look at her body with wonder and awe and know it’s the vehical to move her through this world, not what defines her, that a scale or pants size is just a number and anyone who would love her more because it’s a smaller number isn’t worth having in her life. I hope you can look in the mirror at your own body with that same unconditional love.
I forgot to mention last week that I put on a pair of my favorite pants before I got pregnant and they fit. I remember buying them, it was the fall of 2014 and the weight I’d gained from the lost pregnancies wasn’t going anywhere. I walked out of the gap outlet with a fall wardrobe and said to my mom, ” watch I’ll spend all this money and be pregnant.” I think Ian was conceived shortly after. What is it about surrender that makes everything fall into place and why is it so hard to do?
I’ve been thinking about stupid questions we’ve somehow programmed ourselves to talk about with regards to kids like sleep. How kids sleep, where, how long, with whom etc. in the end it doesn’t really matter. I would really love to know what is the best part about being a mother today and the most challenging.
I think for me the challenge is feeling like I don’t have enough patience and the best is bedtime (especially when I am patient). I rock Ian to sleep in his room as he nurses. It’s the rare moment we have alone together. Some days we play for a few minutes before he settles and others his eyes close as he latches. I love watching him fall asleep. One moment he is awake and the next his eyes are half open and the next breath his eyes close and his body melts. It’s a tender moment of surrender. It’s the complete goodbye of the day, clean slate for tomorrow. It’s a gentle reminder that whatever happened that day it’s over and all that’s left is love.
Lia is different. We snuggle down in bed and I can feel her mind zooming a million miles a second. I’m ready to “clock out” for the evening but this is her time to have me all to herself. I fight the urge to tell her to just go to &$@!? Sleep already. It’s the time of day her mind is clear and I get to hear what’s on her heart. It’s such a privilege and so easy to take for granted. She eventually settles, her limbs first then her breathing. I swear she is fully asleep before she lets her eyes finally close. I linger, trying to fathom how on earth she has already gotten so very big. Some day it won’t be like a girls sleepover every night with giggles and inside jokes. I keep these moments close to my heart it’s what makes the seven hundred and three challenging, not my best, exasperated moments of the day worth pushing through. They don’t know it but we are growing (up) together and I’m so lucky to have these teachers of mine.
I officially have a 9 month old today. He gets around and into everything by scooting on his butt. He loves soups of all kinds and really hasn’t met a food he didn’t like so far. 🙂 it’s amazing all that happens in the first year of life.
I’ve been lackadaisical about my core exercises. Mostly it creeps away little by little and I felt like my strength backslide quite a bit this week. It’s so much like being consistent as a parent. Once in awhile is no big deal but sometimes once in awhile becomes all the time and then there are consequences. So it’s been a good reminder to remember to take care of myself. My hunger has waned quite a bit too. Happy first day of spring.
Here it is again that time to reflect on another week past. I’ve been struggling a lot lately with patience and a quickly flared temper and probably burn out. I’ve also been reaching out, gaining perspective and support and reading and trying new ways. Spring is a nice remember of renewal and kids are so great about being quick to forgive and also having the ability for plenty of space for practice. These kids that chose me have been wonderful teachers in so many ways.
This week I learned of my first acupuncture teacher’s passing and it’s caused much reflection in all the pearls of wisdom I gleaned from him and all the compassion and passion he molded for me not as an Acu punk but as a human. He was unabashedly himself and that takes lots of guts to be so raw. He helped me through a rough patch during my schooling when I was really sick and even bought herbs for me. His hands were as gentle as his heart with his needles and it was so comforting to be taken care of by him and held in such a loving space. He gave me a freedom to trust my gut and ask questions and try new things even letting me practice on him. It shaped much of the way I taught. I’m not sure I even realized how much he impacted my way of holding space for others until I learned he was no longer here.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time the past few weeks contemplating impact as I think of those that impacted me that are no longer here. I think especially of my father who has been a part of my life for as much time as he hasn’t. In the end how much impact do we have on our children? It’s both comforting and terrifying.
These losses are other reminders of how very short life is, how quickly seasons pass.
I’ve been avoiding writing mainly because I can’t complete a thought because well kids and not much sleep. The last few weeks have felt like one very long continuous day or ground hogs day. I feel dazed. It’s hard to be so needed and so loved. I poured two cups of tea today, one was half drunk before it was cold and long forgotten and the other was accidentally spilled all over the table, that about sums it up. 😉
I’ve noticed that in addition to the crazy hunger I also no longer have an issue with body odor. I remember nursing last time and not smelling so much. It happened this time recently where I don’t require as much baking soda (deodorant) and I’m not really sweaty. Maybe another hormonal shift?
I’ve lost two more pounds despite copious amounts of dessert type food which means I’m two pounds away from what the scale said before I got pregnant with Ian. Of course my body is totally different and some of my old clothes fit just fine and others even ones that were loose before just don’t. I’m feeling really doughy which seems to happen before another shift in my body, it’s like everything needs to melt down.
Lia keeps talking about the baby in my belly that is going to come out. It’s completely freaking me out! (No I’m not pregnant)
This was a challenging week. I was busy preparing for my daughters first (and 4th birthday), a family friend died and my husband started school. A flip switched on too and my hunger has been ravenous especially for fats. I was in a bit of an existential crisis for a bit pondering what it all means and the only thing I came up with is the point is to be present, here and now is all we have, which is pretty cliche and also really hard to do. I made it to yoga on Saturday and found I could barely breathe, I wasn’t in my body at all and all I could hear in my head was my baby crying. I felt better after and so much better after Lia’s homemade, from scratch party was complete. It was all so much fun. Speaking of not being present I also thought this was week 36 so I made this side by side comparison of 36 weeks pregnant and post partum and it left my feeling in awe and inspired. The human body just blows my mind sometimes.
Eight months ago I became a mother to a son. I still can’t believe it. I look at this smiley, happy boy and wonder where he came from. How did eight months pass so quickly and how on earth is he already wearing 18 month clothes with 3 teeth and walking around the furniture?! Can everything but the hour before bedtime slow down just a little?
The third trimester postpartum is interestingly similar in reverse to being pregnant. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight recently. It’s funny how in retrospect it hardly seemed like much time at all. I’m 6 pounds away from what the scale said before I got pregnant. I wore my special size 8 lucky brand jeans I bought when Lia was 6 months old this week.
I stop in my tracks though pretty much anytime I pass a mirror naked. I actually think who is that?! Not in a bad way. It makes me think of being a child and seeing real women’s bodies: my mom’s, my sisters. All real, all women. No airbrushing or good angles or filters or whatever we subject ourselves to now. Those innocent eyes of mine then believed that is what a woman’s body looks like. Curvy and soft, strong and well used. Do you remember waiting for boobs to fill a bra? I do, even as an “adult” I yearned for cleavage in the right outfits. I remember having small, perky breasts. I’m in no way well endowed now but I have a grown woman’s body now. My breasts touch my body when I bend over startling me as I wonder what this new sensation is. My hips are wide and rolling and sturdy, my legs and butt are strong. My belly is soft and only slightly stretched but fierce. My arms carry a 20+ pound baby around all day. My body has held 4 children inside, 2 that have made it to the other side. My body is not my own, it’s the whole universe. So this body I pass by in the mirror now that has been so well used shocks me because of the awe of it all, how amazingly ordinary and extraordinary it is to grow a child, birth a child, continue to nourish a child from the outside and it all happens without a whole lot of conscious thought. We need to stop hiding these amazing, real post partum bodies. There is as much beauty here as there ever was. I’ve earned this body of mine.
There’s a great article floating around about how we need to stop talking about getting our bodies back. They are right here. I’m healthier and stronger now then I might have ever been in my whole life. The most important thing is that I’ve found faith and trust in my body again. How much could we change the world if we poured all this energy we waste on worrying about what a scale says or the size of our pants are on things that really matter? How much would your world change?