I am often asked how I got into acupuncture, but recently, I was asked why I got into the field of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. I began to give the “stock” answer that I have been reciting over the past 6 years which goes something like this…I have always been interested in natural healing and a more nature focused way of life. I had moved out to Vancouver and loved hanging out in Chinatown and became more interested in Chinese herbs and teas. I remember commuting regularly past a Chinese Medicine School and thinking that I would like to learn about that one day. Then, after I moved back to Calgary, I decided I needed a change and Acupuncture came up organically and I made the decision. Although this is all true, as I began to dig deeper into the question I was surprised to find that the events didn’t actually align themselves quite as fluidly as they sound.
The story of why I went into Acupuncture is a heck of a lot messier and more convoluted – you could say that I took the scenic route. I wasn’t under the guidance of a Master from a young age. I didn’t have a burning desire to jab people. I didn’t even know what acupuncture was until later in life! I grew up in a small town in British Columbia. It was predominantly a tourist town with a variety of cafes and restaurants, and many art shops. We had one small hospital but beyond that, I don’t remember having any exposure to other types of treatments for the body until we moved to a slightly bigger small town when I was a teenager. For the longest time the only other modalities that I knew of were massage and chiropractic.
When I began to think about my future in my late teens, I had no idea what I wanted to do for a career once I was out of high school. At the forefront of my mind was simply the openness to any opportunity to get me out of town! In my teen years, I had started working with the family business cleaning and helping around the shop for large trucks. I thought that because I was good with machinery that this might be my career path. I applied to go to school for avionics and got in! The problem was that it was outside of Vancouver so my parents set up an interview with a school in Calgary and I got into that one too. My family and I chose Calgary as the best option. Two years later, I graduated with a Diploma in Electronics Engineering Technician, which would not qualify me to work in the field that I had anticipated (long story) so instead, I took an office job at a communications company, not doing anything even remotely related to what I had just studied! I met many great people working at this company and it allowed me to transfer to Vancouver where things really started to unfold and evolve.
A little bit about me – – – I am a people pleaser. I have always been a person who is willing to lend a hand and love helping people out. I spent a lot of time with my Granny growing up and I learned by following her, how to care for people, cook, clean, arrange flowers, and entertain. I am social but introverted – I love people and gatherings, but become exhausted and overwhelmed from crowds or extended periods without ‘me time’. I love to laugh and find humour in almost anything…often at super inappropriate times! I have fainted donating blood and get nauseous with hospital smells and the sight of surgeries, even movie surgeries.
When I was in Vancouver, I started to live my life to the absolute fullest. I spent as much time as possible outside at the ocean, riding bikes, I was a devoted yogi, I learned meditation and did it regularly, I listened to live music weekly, I tried new things all the time…and I worked in an office and helped build cable networks. Something started to feel more and more out of place in my world as all the other parts finally were making more sense and making me feel whole. I was sitting at my desk one day and became overwhelmed with despair as I thought, “How is this making the world better? How am I helping humanity?” I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and ultimately, be of service to my fellow humans. I knew that I needed a change, and things did change, but not for the better, at least not right away.
I made my back to Calgary, but this time living here, I found that I didn’t fit in with the fast pace and achievement based culture. I worked hard to impress those around me and to blend in, because it was apparent I would never ‘fit in’, no matter how much I tried. I slipped into darkness and desperation. Thankfully, and finally, I woke up and started (slowly) to get back on my feet. It was at this time that I realized that I wanted to go back to school for something completely different – something that would allow me to help people. When I thought about potential fields I almost immediately thought about nursing (there are nurses in my family), but – nope, blood and goo would not be a good choice for me – remember the fainting? Yes, to health industry. What is health based, has no body fluids to deal with, be somewhere that I can make connections with people on a one-on-one basis, and ideally bring some laughter to them? I did not know. So, I researched. I went for all sorts of treatments, and finally, acupuncture came up. I loved the way that it connected the mind and body in a series of logical pathways and point systems. I always felt lighter and at ease after each treatment. I fell in love with acupuncture’s philosophy, its poetic language, and how it could relate all the workings of the body to the natural world. I knew this was it, and I went for it. The rest is, as they say, history.
Making a decision for a second career was difficult but rewarding. From that first day in class, I knew that I had finally made the right choice for me. Even though my focus and treatment style has changed many times over the years since I started school and then began practicing, the why never has. I am an acupuncturist to help people feel better and become more in tune, in balance, and in communication with their best selves. This modality has allowed me to get to know so many different people over the years and I feel so fortunate to be a part of their lives. If I am able to reduce someone’s pain or ease his or her mind in some small way, then my job is complete. My why looks like a smile on your face.