Acupuncture Works Best When You Do This


Summer is here!  Kids are out of school and we're hoping most of you are settling into a slower pace - that is, unless you own a summer camp or ice cream shop :) 
Whether you’re new to acupuncture or even if you're a seasoned regular we want to answer some commonly asked questions about how to get the best possible results from your treatments.

How many acupuncture treatments will I need?

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this question.  The length, number and frequency of treatments vary from person to person depending on the conditions treated, your age and health, and how you respond to acupuncture.  Acupuncture is a natural medicine that activates your body to make internal changes and heal.  This can be a gradual process or sometimes an immediate response. 
Generally, acute problems require less time and frequency of treatment. For example, an recent sprain or injury may require only one or two treatments, while chronic or severe pain and ailments with multiple symptoms may require several months of weekly treatments.  For those clients who come frequently to TCA we recommend purchasing 10 packs of private or community treatments to save you money and also time checking out of your appointment.   You can use your 10 visits with Amie or Chalita (10 packs must be used within 4 months) and note additional fees apply when you pay for packages or community visits by credit card.
How long will it take for the treatments to work?
A positive response to acupuncture (symptom relief, improved sleep and mood, more energy) is generally seen after the first to fourth treatment.  If you are being treated for a menstrual problem or infertility, give the treatments three cycles for your body to respond.  You can then schedule your appointments further apart after you have achieved the desired response.
How often should I be treated?
It is optimal for treatments to be scheduled once or twice weekly in the beginning so your body will hold the new energetic healing pattern.  If you are not able to have appointments that frequently or you are traveling for an extended period, we may prescribe supplements & herbs, dietary changes, exercises, ear seeds or pressure points for you to use at home.  Treat acupuncture as you would an exercise program- the more you adhere to a regular schedule, the more rapidly you see results
Acupuncture is also used as a preventative medicine. Many people see their acupuncturist 2-4 times a year for a "tune up" or balancing treatment. This can prevent disease and promote health, energy and vitality.

We will be closed July 3-8th and August 2-10th, so please check our online schedule for appointment availability over the summer.   Bring in your family and friends who are visiting....we will take good care of them! 

With summer love,

Amie & Chalita

Are Needles an Answer to the Opioid Crisis?


As an acupuncturist, treating pain is my profession.  Over the past 20 years I’ve witnessed desperation and great resilience as patients come to me looking for help to relieve pain that is preventing them from activity, sleep and the simple joys we take for granted when we are pain-free.  Earlier this year after a sports injury and major knee surgery I became the patient – and suddenly pain management was my own daily personal experience.  It also became an unanticipated opportunity to explore some new pain relief solutions first-hand.

Not only does pain slow you down, it draws you into your body with a new awareness like nothing else can.  Extreme physical pain takes your attention away from all the mundane worries of life and refocuses it to one thing: make this go away!   It’s no big surprise we have an opioid and prescription drug crisis in our country.  So many people are looking for a quick escape from their physical and psychological pain so they can experience the human drive for pleasure.  And it's not easy to advise someone to get off their medications when they are hurting unless you give them a viable pain relief alternative.

Natural pain relief is not only a good idea, but is now a necessity.  The FDA, CDC, and The American College of Physicians (ACP), etc. all recommend non-drug approaches as a first line treatment for managing pain and effective January 1, 2018, The Joint Commission requires accredited hospitals and facilities to provide non-pharmacologic therapies for pain.   Among the main non-drug therapies, only acupuncture stimulates the production of your body’s own opioids.

After my knee surgery I’ve been receiving (often giving myself) regular acupuncture treatments to manage pain and accelerate my healing.  Acupuncture has reduced inflammation and pain in my knee, increased circulation, broken down scar tissue, shortened my recovery time after physical therapy and overuse, and it provided an extra boost of pain relief immediately after surgery that even the strongest narcotics didn’t touch

At a recent Academy of Integrative Pain Management meeting, research and data was presented by a clinical professor of anesthesiology at UCSD showing unprecedented advances in the use of acupuncture to treat chronic pain conditions.   As the western medical community relies on research and data to make informed decisions on care, it’s important that studies on acupuncture and integrative medicine modalities are reaching more physicians.  I now work within a sports medicine orthopedic group here in the Bay Area and I’m encouraged to see how doctors in our practice are becoming more open and responsive to recommending acupuncture and non-pharmaceutical therapies to their patients, particularly those with chronic pain.

Other forms of alternative pain relief now in the spotlight include CBD and cannabis products.  Thirty states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical cannabis for chronic pain, nausea, glaucoma, migraine and more and the US government is now softening rules for marijuana research to make it easier to grow the plant for scientific study Like acupuncture, there is now expanded research revealing the efficacy of CBD and cannabis for pain relief.   For example researchers at McGill University conducted a clinical trial and found that cannabis helps people with chronic nerve pain due to injury or surgery feel less pain (it appears to be particularly effective at treating neuropathic pain).  For many people, specific strains of cannabis help to decrease anxiety and insomnia, making it a viable part of a pain-reduction protocol.   When you lower stress and cortisol levels and sleep more soundly, the body heals and recovers faster.

Many health problems and symptoms I see in our clinic are often the result of long-term pharmaceutical use, so I’m excited to add medical cannabis as another herbal remedy in our natural pharmacy recommendations.  There are local delivery services that can advise you of which products to try for pain and what delivery systems work best, such as vaporizers, tinctures, teas and edibles.  Similar to all medications, each individual responds differently to the variety of cannabis products so often times you need to test out a few to see which works best for your condition.  Some are more stimulating, while others are sedative.

The CBD products I used during my post-operative recovery were extremely effective in managing my pain, sleep and mood.  They helped get me off narcotics after the first few days and significantly reduced my use of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain meds I know to be highly addictive and cause gastrointestinal and liver problems with long-term use, not to mention nasty side effects such as dizziness, constipation and rashes.

You may feel very different using cannabis products depending on your level of pain.  One CBD tincture I tested before surgery put me right to sleep and then with my intense pain post-surgery it just served to ease some of my discomfort.  Some CBD remedies also contain more of the psychoactive component THC so you need to read labels and learn your tolerance and response to various dosages.  Start by taking very small amounts initially (at home is best) so you can prevent severe, unwanted reactions.  

I hope as medical cannabis research and distribution expands in the US and more people safely use the plant under the guidance of professionals and not just for recreation purpose, some of the social stigma behind it will diminish - along with widespread opioid use.  As a parent of teenagers I have great concern over the misuse and abuse of any drug, especially with youth, but I also now recognize cannabis as a far superior alternative to prescription drugs and alcohol from a health perspective, and perhaps economically as well.  A hot topic, indeed and similar to new research using psychodelics for mental illness.

It’s also interesting to recognize that in an Advil-popping culture we have become accustomed to pre-empting and numbing our pain so we can push through activity, often at the expense of not listening to what our body is trying to tell us (perhaps to take a day off, rest and heal?).  During the rehabilitation of my knee I have limited my use of pain medications so that I am fully aware when I have overdone it and use the following hours/days as a recovery period.   As a result I am feeling surprisingly stronger than I thought I would be after 5 months of limited aerobic activity and I’m even back on my mountain bike climbing hills 13 weeks post surgery!  If anyone has any questions about the natural pain relief supplements and protocol I used to heal quickly after my sports injury and surgery, I would love to see you in the clinic soon. 

To your natural healing,

Amie and Chalita

Life in the Slow Lane


After visiting family for the holidays, I took a road trip to Jackson Hole with a friend over New Years.  The resort reportedly had decent snow during a lackluster ski season here in the West and I was bound and determined to enjoy one of my favorite sports during vacation time.   I bought a multi-resort ski pass this year with big plans to follow the winter storms when I could.

As they say, life had other plans for me.

Late afternoon first day on the hill, after a glorious day in sun and snow, I hit a large patch of ice and went down with an awkward twist that landed me at the medical center.   “I’m so sorry”, the examining doc told me as he tugged on my leg – “I don’t feel your ACL" (ACL is the major ligament that provides support for your knee and when it ruptures you have few options other than surgery).  Oh NO!  Please don’t tell me this on my first day of ski season!  This was not my idea of Happy New Year.  Groan. Sigh.

As I spent the rest of the week in a brace and crutches, leg up on ice waiting to meet my friend après her ski, my mind went through that roller coaster of emotion…disbelief, denial, despair, acceptance, positive self-talk, a shot of whiskey, then back to despair again.  

Yet deep down my optimist self knew there would be some silver lining that would come from this injury.   I had a similar ski accident and blew out my other knee 22 years ago on the exact same day in Sun Valley and what ultimately came from that experience was my big decision to exit the corporate world and study holistic medicineAcupuncture and herbs helped me recover quickly from a sports injury and I knew I wanted to help others do the sameThat was a pivotal turning point in my life  that led to more professional and personal satisfaction, and a new understanding of how the body and mind heals optimally.

I’ve been hobbling around on a weak knee for a month now and what I can already feel shifting inside is both a slowing down and new awareness, not just physically, but spiritually.   As it is now necessary to walk very cautiously and deliberately to protect my knee, I am utterly mindful of my surroundings, people near me, and all my personal relationships.  I can’t rush through anything or stack my schedule full.  Can’t race out the door late.  And I certainly can’t multi-task like before.  My power yoga classes and long mountain bike rides have now been replaced by gentle yoga and 20 minutes on the exercise bike.  I am reminded what it must be like for elderly or disabled people when they watch others rushing madly around them and thinking “I used to be able to do that…” Gratitude for an ability to run and move has taken on new meaning.

I am allowing others to do more for me, like carrying heavy bags, driving me around, and I'm getting bodywork and acupuncture.  I'm going to bed early.  My kids do more chores around the house.  Wonder Woman is definitely on sabbatical.   As a result I feel more inner peace and stillness than I have in quite some time.  

There is such grace to slowing down and taking it easy during certain times of life. Giving yourself full permission to not take on so much in the name of self-preservation and wellness.  Sometimes I think the body gets injured as a messenger to remind us to revisit ourselves- to do things differently than we were doing on auto-pilot.   Each time I’ve had a major injury I can look back to what was going on in my life during that time and there was usually a bit of a storm and chaos in the background- which quickly came to a halt when I was forced to turn off “doing” and focus more on self-care.

If this resonates, I encourage you not to wait for an injury to slow you down this winter, but take time to be more reflective, less reactive, and hibernate a bit if necessary.  Give yourself the gift of rest and restorative time your body probably needs, particularly during this nasty flu season.  Get acupuncture to heal your own injuries and immune system.  I promise, this is all better than a flu shot!

My knee reconstructive surgery is on Groundhog Day, if you can believe that coincidence!  No more skiing for me on New Years…I think you'll probably find me walking slowly on a warm beach instead :-)

*Post-note, post-surgery on 2/2:  Now 12 days into my recovery and back to work after many days stuck in bed on pain meds and ice, and relying on the kindness of dear friends and my children to care for me, I think I will need to write my next post on pain.  As someone who treats pain for a living this experience is already giving me such new insight and empathy.









How to do summer like the French

Joie de Vivre


Last month I traveled to France for a week with my teenage daughter, making good on a promise I made to her years ago that we would return to Paris for her 16th birthday, the place we lived when she was only two.  Thirteen years later it was a wonderful opportunity to see the City of Lights through a different lens as a tourist with a young adult – not maneuvering a stroller and 100 pound golden retriever through the cobbled streets or chasing a wild toddler who daily broke all the rules of French decency as she climbed statues in parks and threw tantrums in cafes.  Trust me when I tell you Parisians have mastered the art of the indignant glare!

Not much has changed in Paris since we lived there--it has and always will be a city of revolutionaries, foodies, grand architecture and people who know how to piece together a beautiful outfit.  We walked, biked, shopped and dined our way through the city, but my favorite activity there is always sitting down anywhere to chill and people-watch and I think Parisians must agree based on the number of sidewalk cafes on every block.  What I appreciate most about France (and much of Europe) is their cultural embrace and insistence on scheduled down time.  Long mid-day lunches often with wine are nearly mandatory.  Most all businesses are closed on Sundays.  Living there I recall a minimum of two bank or national holidays every month to shorten the work weeks.  And summer break is non-negotiable.

The long summer vacation – les grands vacances - just started in France.  From July 14 (Bastille Day) to September 2, the French disconnect from work or business and head out of town.  Some will leave for one week or two, others for three weeks or more. Many upper/middle class families still stick to a traditional two months pattern where wives and children start their vacation early in July and husbands join them for most of August.  Young people on low budgets become nomads throughout France, Europe and even more exotic places, from the Americas to East Asia. The ethnic French working class stay idle at home or go camping. The immigrant working class flies back for Ramadan to the old country (usually North Africa) where their French income turns them into rich visitors.   What is unique about this system is everyone takes an extended break from work during the same time, so you can plan on life everywhere slowing waaaaay down in August until la rentré (the return) to normal life in September.

Some roll their eyes at this non-productive social structure given the troubled state of France's economy, but for the French people vacations and time off during each day is sacred.  It’s so deeply woven into their culture that life would not be worth living without it.  I love the translation of the phrase joie de vivreexuberant enjoyment of life.   It’s something many in our country believe you must push aside as you charge ahead working and striving to attain the success, wealth, friends and recognition you hope will bring you happiness.   But what if life’s treasures were right out your doorstep at your local café?   And no, I don't mean head down working on your laptop or checking Facebook at Starbucks.
One of many reasons I enjoy world travel is I allow myself to be French when I’m on the road.   I eat lots of dairy and gluten.   I drink coffee -sometimes several small cups a day.   I can enjoy a bottle of wine without unwanted side-effects (vin is truly different over there!)  I sit for hours at restaurants reading and often eavesdropping on the table next to me speaking languages I barely understand.   It is during this down time my mind and soul clears and expands- kind of like an acupuncture treatment re-boots your system.  

And then I return home to the rushed schedules and appointments and workouts and kids activities and emails and traffic and all the other routines that seem to make up my normal everyday life.  Sigh.  Travel is such a great reminder to clear your schedule and spirit as often as possible and say no to anything that doesn’t ultimately serve a greater purpose in your life.
I wonder what would happen if I just started taking a grand vacance each summer?  My finances would surely suffer but perhaps my joie de vivre would increase exponentially…
To living well this summer and always,


What you should know about Cleansing

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.     -Hippocrates

If you live in the Bay Area it’s likely that you or someone you know has been on a cleanse or has been wanting to do one.  As our bodies have become overburdened with chemical-laden processed foods, environmental pollution, and everyday stress, taking time to clear out physical and emotional toxicity is important. Cleanses and detoxing can help improve mental focus, physical energy, digestion, libido, sleep and skin issues, and also help you drop a few pounds and reduce food cravings.

With multiple services and stores on every corner promoting juice cleansing --where you drink nothing more than liquids for days – you are probably wondering if you too should jump on the bandwagon.  Juice cleanses may sound appealing, but it’s important to understand what happens in the body during a detox cleanse and why choosing a medically sound, whole foods cleanse that could incorporate juicing as part of the process, may offer you safer, long term benefits and results.
Here’s the internal scoop on cleansing:
Your liver is your primary detox organ and its enzymes transform the multiple toxins your body takes in, including pesticides, medications, hormones and synthetic chemicals, into compounds that your body can eliminate.  The liver detox process has two phases.  In Phase 1 toxins are neutralized and free radicals are formed, and in Phase 2- the conjugation phase, toxins are transformed from being fat-soluble (as most are) to being water-soluble so they can be eliminated in the bile or urine.  If antioxidant levels like Vitamin C or E are too low or if micro-nutrients like magnesium, iron, and B vitamins aren’t sufficient then Phase I is affected, so juicing is probably fine at this stage if the liquids contain high concentrates of nutrient rich fruits and vegetables.

It’s Phase 2 that is the tricky one.  In order to effectively transform toxins to water soluble compounds that you can get rid of easily you need to add another molecule like sulfur, glycine or cysteine.  This phase requires sulfur-containing foods like broccoli, kale and other cruciferous vegetables and also amino acids, our protein building blocks.  The problem with juice cleansing is it typically lacks adequate amino acids, leaving the majority of toxins stuck at the end of Phase 1 with nowhere to go and they get re-circulated back into the body, often leaving you feeling sicker than before you started.  Plus on a liquid diet your metabolism will take a dive with the reduced calorie intake and when you return to regular eating you often gain back any lost pounds fairly immediately.  No bueno.
What to do instead:
Opt for a whole foods based cleanse that eliminates the most inflammation causing foods for a minimum of 3 weeks (the amount of time it takes for your immune system to realize those inflammatory triggers are absent).  If you can’t commit to a 3 week program right away, try a 10-day program to reset your eating habits, balance blood sugar, and reduce inflammation.  
The foods to avoid in your cleanse which most commonly contribute to inflammation are sugar, gluten, dairy, soy, corn and peanuts. Make sure to get plenty of healthy fats like olive oil, avocados and coconut oil and high quality pasture-raised proteins like grass-fed lamb, wild-caught fish and pasture-raised eggs. Include plenty of fibrous leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, and organic, antioxidant-rich berries.
The end goal is really to adopt this way of eating as a lifestyle and give your system a fresh start during times of the year when you need to reset.  You will also become more clear on which foods in your diet make you feel great and those which could be causing a majority of your health problems.


Your Holiday To-Don't List


Although the holidays are supposed to be a time of comfort and joy, 90% of Americans report being stressed out between Thanksgiving and the New Year.  There’s an increase of colds and fatigue during this time, with people generally socializing and doing more, spending more, eating more and sleeping less.  Sometimes it’s easy not to feel wonderful during the most wonderful time of the year.  According to a Consumer Reports survey, the top 6 holiday stressors are:

Crowds and long lines
Weight gain
Shopping for gifts
Seeing certain relatives

So how can we alleviate the stress of the holiday season? The answer may be more self-care. This year, try adding some of the following self-care tips to make the season more enjoyable for everyone:
Be Intentional
For me, the true spirit of the holidays is gratitude, giving, connection and joy.  With these intentions in mind, I can more easily choose which holiday activities are in alignment with my priorities.  Spending time with close family and friends, caroling, baking, supporting a charitable cause, and going to a spiritual service support my intentions.

Knowing my priorities helps me turn down the things that are less important, without feeling guilty or pulled in a million different directions. This holiday season try writing down 3-4 qualities or emotions you most want to feel.  When you receive an invitation ask yourself if it matches how you want to feel.  It’s easier to say “no” to something if you know what you’re saying “yes” to.
Just say no
Which brings us to the next point-- how to say no? How many of you habitually say “yes” in the heat of the moment when you really mean “no” or need more time to think about it? I know I have.  While my enthusiasm has produced some great outcomes, more often than not it has left me feeling overcommitted and overwhelmed.   Same goes for the holidays:  saying yes to every holiday invitation, project or gift giving request can leave you tired and broke.
Saying no is the number one tool to cutting down holiday stress.  Once you become clear on your intentions for the holiday season, you will be able to more easily discern which activities and parties you want to participate in, and which do not align with your intentions.
So how do you say no to a holiday event you don’t want to attend?  Graciously thank the person for inviting you, and in as few words as possible, decline.  “I’m sorry, I already have plans that day.” Your plans may be to stay home and read a book, or take a bath or do nothing at all. If you need more time to think about it say, “I need to check my calendar.  I’ll let you know tomorrow.”  If it’s an invitation from someone you genuinely want to see but not during the hectic holiday season, you can suggest an alternative like, “I can’t make it to your party, but let’s have lunch after the holidays.”
In and Out
No, I’m not talking about the burger.  I’m talking about staying clutter free, or at the very least not adding to your clutter.  Here’s the simple rule:  for everything that goes in, one must go out.  Now apply this rule to gifts, clothing, even decorations.  Here’s a challenge: Try taking two things out for each thing that comes in.
Come in for some holiday season acupuncture, and prevent those pesky colds, stress and feelings of overwhelm.  Even a short 30 minute session can work wonders and make you feel rested and ready to go.
Researchers at Georgetown University showed that acupuncture actually slows down the body’s production of stress hormones.  If you’re short on time, try pressing acupressure point He Gu for 30 seconds and taking a few deep breaths.  He Gu is located in the fleshy part between your index finger and thumb, and is great for relieving stress and tension in the body.
To A Stress Free Holiday Season,
Chalita and Amie

Did this happen to you last time you watched the news?


A few weekends ago I was basking in the divine of a warm Indian summer with my daughters.  We created art together in our backyard, made chocolate-coconut smoothies, and watched the amazing Blue Angels roar over the Bay as we lounged in the sun with friends on a sandy beach.  It was one of those weekends you didn’t want to end.

And then we came home Sunday evening and turned on the debates.

Immediately I went from a place of feeling happy, connected with others, and loving where I live – to wondering what the hell is wrong with people in this country?!  My body was tense, my stomach hurt, I fired off a few heated texts to friends, and I didn’t sleep well that night.   In less than one hour my entire energetic state had shifted from bright and positive to dark, angry and pessimistic!
In the late seventies Dr. John Diamond created a discipline he called Behavioral Kinesiology. Diamond discovered muscles in a person would strengthen or weaken in the presence of positive or negative emotional intellectual and physical stimuli.  For example, a warm smile from someone will make you test strong; the statement, “I hate you” will make you test weak.  For those not familiar with applied kinesiology, the basic theory behind it is that all living things have an energy field that is interconnected- in short, we are all connected to each other in some close or remote way. Everything we say or do or that has been said, done or felt has an effect on energy around us and in our bodies.

There is also an energy record of the collective unconscious. In his book Power vs. Force, David Hawkins describes a measurement of collective energy vibrations, from fear and greed up to love and peace.   Hawkins calibrates his levels of consciousness (or energy fields) according to their measurable effect.  With each progressive rise in the level—the frequency or vibration of energy increases.   Higher consciousness radiates a beneficial and healing effect (love, truth, forgiveness, courage, peace) and negative energy fields weaken the life force (shame, guilt, confusion, fear, hatred, pride, hopelessness and falsehood).
In an interconnected universe where “birds of a feather flock together” we attract to us that which we emanate.  Every improvement we make in our private world improves the world at large for everyone.  So it becomes more important to look at the quality of your own thoughts and who and what you are allowing into your energy field.  A helpful exercise is to write down a list of those people and situations which are increasing/decreasing your energy vibration in your daily life and then implement one thing you can do now to step away from or into a higher vibration this week.  Practice shifting from low to high by reading and watching positive media (and avoiding mainstream media and news), dancing to your favorite music, and meeting up with friends and family who make you feel loved and don't draw you into stories of drama, hatred and fear.

I personally do not plan to watch the news until November 9th. 

To raising your vibration,

Why the Olympics loved Cupping

   What has 19 gold medals and looks like he was kidnapped by alien leeches?

What has 19 gold medals and looks like he was kidnapped by alien leeches?

Cupping had its very own Olympic moment in Rio this year as many athletes, especially the swimmers, had what appeared to be circular bruises on their backs, shoulders, and sometimes elsewhere on their bodies.  “That’s been the secret that I have had through this year that keeps me healthy,” said American gymnast Alexander Naddour.   “It’s been better than any money I’ve spent on anything else.”  Although there's been a ton of hype around this modality, we want to make sure our patients know the real truth about cupping including its pros and cons.

What is cupping and how does it work?
Cupping is one of the oldest forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine, dating back to the 4th century. In a typical cupping session, either heat or air is used to create a suction in special cups that are placed on the body.   The vacuum that’s created pulls the skin and blood vessels in toward the cup, which is why they leave marks on the skin that can last several days.

The vacuum action created by the cups pulls blood to certain areas and helps improve circulation, loosening up muscles and joints, decreasing pain and breaking up obstructions.  It can have anti-inflammatory effects as well as aid detoxification.

Depending on the condition being treated, the cups will be left in place from 5 to 10 minutes. Several cups may be placed on a patient’s body at the same time. Some practitioners will also apply small amounts of oil to the skin just before the cupping procedure, which allows them to move the cups up and down on particular acupoints or meridians.

What are the benefits of cupping?  What does it treat?
The main benefits are encouraging the inflammatory response of the body and speeding up muscular and soft tissue recovery after injury and strain.  It's most often used for muscular pain in the back and shoulders and for respiratory conditions like bronchitis and asthma.  

Will it work for me?
If you are interested in adding cupping to your treatment or want to know if its appropriate for your condition, please schedule a private acupuncture session or contact us at  Those who bleed easily, have inflamed skin, or are pregnant should not use cupping.  It also may not be appropriate for certain types of pain such as a stiff neck, pinched nerve or chronic low back pain.  Your practitioner will be able to determine your best course of treatment.

To cupping, 

Chalita and Amie

Why moving your energy is easier than you think

Life is like a bicycle. 
To keep your balance, you must keep moving
.    -Albert Einstein

I moved my family into a new home last month.  It was quite a production, as moving always is.  With only a month to find a decent rental in a tight housing market, I also had to downsize my belongings to fit into a smaller, more expensive house with less storage and living space.  Long days, late nights, packing with podcasts and with friends, and even a few tears went into the process.  Yet somehow this particular move felt different and dare I say much easier than the past 20+ moves I’ve made over my lifetime.    
Easier, less effort, and more therapeutic?!

When you tell people you’re moving you hear condolences “Oh man, I don’t envy you--Moving sucks!”  You are given full permission to throw yourself a pity party when you move.  I easily could have gone there given my circumstances. But instead I chose to use this uprooting as an opportunity to clear up my energetic surroundings inside and out.  After five years in my old house there was a lot of accumulated junk that needed to go-- not just those stacks of boxes, furniture and old clothes, but emotional energy as well.   I joked with my friends that my “house of pain” had seen me through a bitter divorce, multiple court proceedings, several heartbreaks, and family drama that I was ready to leave behind.  So after I received the notice I had to vacate -and after my initial panic subsided- I thanked the universe for this opportunity to start with a clean slate.
As I cleaned out cabinets filled with expired supplements, opened dusty boxes of old fabric samples, and sorted through mountains of files, books and paperwork from the last decade, it was a clear reminder of how easy it is to hold onto things that no longer serve us.  In the practice of Feng Shui, de-cluttering your house and removing objects that you don’t absolutely need, love, or bring you joy will attract beneficial chi – or positive energy to your home and life.  Just as acupuncture unblocks stuck energy in the body, clearing out old energy in your home recharges your personal space.
With almost giddy delight I purged daily.  I donated or sold nearly every item in my house that my kids and I hadn’t used in over a year and gave stacks of things away to friends and strangers.  And I felt lighter and happier by the day.  As each closet and room cleared out, so did my headspace.   The more intentional I was about why I was letting go of items and a house that didn’t serve me any longer – the more my personal life started shifting as well.  A job I had taken to earn extra money that was causing me great stress and little financial reward suddenly went away, much to my relief.  Friendships started shifting in ways that felt less contrived and more authentic.  Fond memories of past loves resurfaced while looking through boxes of old photos and reminded me of what I hold true in my relationships.  Family and co-parenting dynamics also changed that same month and resulted in some big decisions that we are all benefiting from today.   I moved my stuff and my life energy moved right along with it. 
You don’t have to move your residence to move your energy –just clear things from your life with the intention to make space for the new, brighter opportunities that are waiting to replace the old.   My favorite piece of art in my house is by a lovely artist in Marin named Sojung- she named it Empty your cup and let the bluebird fly in.  I see it every day as my reminder to let go of all I am holding in my space that may be preventing me from having room for that bluebird of happiness.

To letting go and calling in,


Are you disappointed?

Expectation is the root of all heartache    - William Shakespeare

I’ve noticed there are three areas in life and relationships that seem to cause a majority of our stress and discomfort:  Requests, Expectations and Desires - and what happens when we don’t acknowledge the difference between the three. 
I recently disappointed a friend of mine and when we later discussed the situation she told me “You should have known how I was feeling and what I wanted to happen”.  When I heard that, I initially felt like a really awful friend.  However, as I took a step back to examine what happened I realized it was never truly my responsibility to give her something that she had not requested from me directly.   My friend had an expectation.
This made me think about how many times a day we have our own internal dialogue with others – with friends, family, partners, coworkers, even strangers.   We want them to feel our pain, understand our needs, and respond in ways that feel good to us – yet so often we don’t verbalize our requests and needs clearly, if at all.  We carry around expectations, assumptions and ultimately unmet desires--making us feel incomplete, disconnected and unhappy in our relationships.
Children are really good at making direct requests (in fact, my daughters do it all day long!)  Perhaps as adults we get worn down by ongoing demands and then find it hard to ask for what we truly need, especially when it’s emotionally charged or we have an old wound.   But if you haven’t made the effort to figure out exactly what you want from someone and communicate this request clearly and directly- it likely will never play out the way you want it to.   We yearn for perfect scenarios and relationships we hear in songs and see in the movies.  For people to just know what we want and need.  These are desires.
Even if you ask for something directly, you may still not get your desired result. Make requests, but don’t let them immediately turn into expectations or burning desires.  It helps to examine the patterns of people around you and how they consistently treat you and others- don’t fool yourself into thinking they will act differently than they have in the past --I’m getting better at this one now with age.  The timing and tone of your requests is also crucial.  When I know a friend or family member is going through a particularly difficult time, I try not to turn to them with my own drama and demands.
It also helps to look at what you’re asking of friends and people around you.   You don’t go to your hairdresser and expect to get great tax advice – you chose them for their skill and interest is cutting and styling hair.  Everyone has their own unique offering.  Focusing on people’s core strengths allows them to feel their best and offer what they can to you, while alleviating your continued disappointment in their behavior.
All of this ultimately boils down to letting go of past and future- and staying more in the present moment.  This is easier when you focus on people who are there for you and you for them- those who make you feel loved, cared for and worthy. Reach out to those people more and reconnect.  
And learn to love yourselfProvide yourself with what you are yearning for- be it the compliments, compassion, or encouragement. Only you know what you truly need.

My Solo Trip to Thailand #youareneveralone

As people learned I was traveling to Thailand solo over the holidays I had a variety of reactions - some amazed, others confused, many envious, and those who know me well said of course you are!  My mom and girlfriends gave me the "you be safe" lecture and I just smiled, knowing what makes me nervous about traveling alone is also what excites me.  

During the 21 hour flight halfway across the world, I had a brief moment of panic.  What the hell am I doing heading to a foreign country for 2 weeks by myself with an open itinerary, no idea where I will be staying the second week, and no one to meet up with?  I took some deep breaths and reminded myself I'd had great experiences when I traveled on my own in Eastern Europe, Russia, the Baltics, India, China and Africa with a backpack in my 20s and 30s.   I could certainly do Thailand- with a roller suitcase.

And I did.  It was a spectacular trip--beginning with a day exploring vistas and streets of Hong Kong on my layover, an exhilarating night bike tour and stunning golden Buddhas in Bangkok, New Year's Eve lighting thousands of lanterns into the sky, dance parties, temples and Thai cooking classes in Chiang Mai, rock climbing on magnificent limestone cliffs and snorkeling in warm aquamarine waters off islands in Krabi, and meeting a group of fun, international friends at every stop who became my travel companions.  I felt so alive and never alone on this journey.   And what's not to love about a country where the people and culture are so warm and friendly, the food delicious, and daily massage is actually affordable....ahhhh, the massages!

Would I have liked to take this trip with someone? Absolutely!  I crave good company and there were definitely moments I would have loved to be sharing with someone I really care about - yet the many unique encounters and magic I experienced only came to me because I was alone and more open to spontaneity and connecting with strangers who became friends.  I had to move out of my comfort zone and put myself out there daily.  Strike up conversations with the person next to me.  Ask if I could join people at their breakfast table.  Get off my phone, look up, smile and make eye contact if I wanted company. I could also just be with myself and that felt pretty darn good as I'm not often alone here at home with no agenda.  I had a special opportunity to connect deeply with others and with myself on this trip - a good reminder of how liberating solo travel can be.   Only thing I would do differently next time is bring a small backpack, not a large suitcase!

If there is somewhere in the world -even in your local region you have been wanting to see, don't wait around for someone who has the same vacation time, energy and interests as you - that may never happen.  Use your miles.  Get out there and explore!  It's medicine for the soul.

To your wanderlust in 2016,



Why I gave myself permission to sit on the couch this month


When the text reminder came from my business partner yesterday that I still needed to write our September newsletter, I replied I know- just trying to find the time and energy.
Time and energy – two things we all seem to want more of, but lately I’ve been wanting more rest.  I’ve been extra tired this month- often in bed at the same time as my kids, sometimes before them.  Turning down social invitations to stay home and watch movies.  Feeling unmotivated to exercise and watching projects stack up around my house.   My initial reaction was full of worrisome thoughts that something must be wrong with me.  Perhaps I’m sick?  Are my hormones off?  Am I depressed?  Yikes- am I really getting that old?   After ticking through all the reasons and remedies for my fatigue, it dawned on me that maybe I just needed to surrender to it, stop looking for an explanation or cure, listen to my body and rest.  
In most places throughout the country autumn has arrived- leaves changing and a chill to the air- giving more formal invitation to spend quieter time indoors, cook warm soups and stews, and wind down for the winter months ahead.   Here in our California sunshine heat wave we haven’t truly experienced a change of season yet and I think my body and soul are rebelling a bit.   I grew up in the Wasatch mountains and lived in Colorado for many years, where the color and coolness of fall was eagerly anticipated and the first snowflake signaled the beginning of ski season for me.   Right now I feel like I want to be surrounded by piles of crimson and orange leaves, drinking spiced cider, baking cookies indoors, and wearing my boots and chunky sweaters.  Instead I’m wearing tank tops, flip flops, and trying to find popsicles and water-based activities to keep cool.  My kids keep asking me when they are going to see rain and snow.  They miss the seasons-so do I.  Maybe this is why I'm so damn tired?
What I have been doing this last month is more internal reflection.  When I’m not moving at a frantic pace, not absorbed in my busy-ness, and when I stop to rest more I tend to connect with my inner voice.   That voice may or may not tell me what I want to hear, but there are always important messages about what is real for me and what needs to shift.   I’ve also been reaching out to more friends and family for advice and the loving support that I need, and have had longer, deeper, uninterrupted conversations about life.   The shit that really matters.
I’m being reminded through rest you are more able to receive.
As we move into a new season, allow yourself to rest when your body asks for it.  Get more sleep.  Come in for acupuncture treatments when you need a respite.  Schedule an afternoon to just do nothing.   In Chinese Medicine we call this supporting your Kidney Qi.  It's kind of like giving your adrenals a vacation so they can better support you when you need their energy and vitality.  Rest also helps boost your immune system, just like acupuncture and herbs, so now is the time to take good care of yourself before cold and flu season begins.   Aren't you glad you were just given permission to relax?

As I write this I think the temperature just dropped 20 degrees!   Be careful what you wish for...

Salsa is my Surrender. What is Yours?


I recently injured my neck and shoulder and was advised to take some time off my bike, surfboard and yoga mat to heal.  I was resistant at first as these activities are my physical and social outlets, my go-to-sanity-keepers.  But after the initial sting of loss I suddenly realized I would now have some free time to explore new interests.
Like salsa dancing.
This is how I ended up in my first salsa class at a lively SF studio in the Mission a few months ago. Now I go into the city once or twice a week to take lessons and enjoy different dance clubs in an attempt to master my salsa skills - or at least not step on too many feet.  I often dance with 20 or more new partners each night and I’ve never had so much fun - even in my beginner awkwardness!
For years I had watched in envy from the sidelines as two people connected through this sensual, energetic dance with spins and turns and hips swaying to the Latin pulse of horns and drums.  Salsa dancing is a true expression of masculine and feminine energy.  There is always a leader and a follower and for the dance to flow each needs to embrace their role.   As the male is typically the leader in salsa dancing I’ve had to rewire my own strong, competent, alpha female mind to one of a more submissive, responsive follower on the dance floor.
What a lesson for me in surrender.   And I'm loving it.
I never knew how wonderful it can be to have my partner tell me let me do the work- you just follow my lead, and then allow my body to just move to the music.  The more I’m in my head thinking about what to do next, the worse I dance, so I’m learning to feel the rhythm and advance when my partner signals the next move.  It’s an incredible experience of being taken care of by another in this dance and probably the closest I’ve come to truly embracing my feminine in a long time.   
Perhaps as many women have become stronger, assertive and more masculine in our roles at work and in personal relationships we’ve also forgotten what it feels like to truly surrender ourselves to the guidance of another.   We are the doers and the leaders and then we wonder why we don't receive the nurturing care we desire from those around us.
If you feel like you could use more support in your own life (without giving up your own personal power), I encourage you to find at least one area of surrender that allows you to break old patterns and create new ones in your routine and in your relationships.   Salsa dancing may not be your thing, but I'm sure there are other dreams and goals you haven’t attempted because they are outside of your current comfort zone.   Give in to the discomfort and try something new.  Become a receptive student and you will be reminded of where you still have room to grow personally, professionally or spiritually.   
 I encourage you to write down one or two things you have always wished you could learn, expand on, or master.
Research local or online lessons and find those that work with your schedule.  Make the time to get started on at least one of them.
Sign up for the class, pay for it in advance, and put it on your weekly calendar.   Then show up.  No excuses.
Supporting your surrender,


How can you be of service?


The best way to find yourself

is to lose yourself in the service of others.     -Mahatma Gandhi

As a child growing up in a family of doctors and nurses I watched those around me helping others through their work.  My parents and our extended family were also actively involved in local charities, mentoring youth, fundraising for events, and even running for local political offices.   I remember my mom taking me to the Junior League thrift store where she volunteered and reminding me that our purchases helped others in need (also a clever tactic for convincing her teenage daughter to buy second-hand clothes!)  Last month I took my own two daughters on a trip to Nicaragua to donate clothing and supplies to less-fortunate families and to show them how many other people in the world live.  They both said it was one of their all-time favorite vacations.
It feels good to give.
I learned early on that being of service to others creates positive, rewarding experiences in life as a giver.  So why is it not always so easy to stay in the mindset of giving?
If you were to read a transcript of your thoughts over the course of a normal day, you’d probably find most of them center around serving yourself.  As children we are told to share and not be selfish, but survival and dominance eventually emerge as underlying themes as we strive to get ahead and succeed in life.  The ego takes charge.  Ironically, the shift from What’s in it for me? to How can I be of service to others? has the greatest potential to help us improve both our personal and professional lives.  It gives us the purpose so many seek to discover.
Here are some things to try if you’re feeling “out of service”:
Inventory your skills. Take a moment to write down a list of your top 5 strengths.  Next to each one write someone or something who appreciates them or could use your skills.  If you have a hard time doing this on your own try Gallup's Strengthsfinder online test.  It's a great self-assessment tool when looking for a job or place where you can be of service to others. 
Volunteer.  This might go beyond what you do in your child’s classroom to what you can do to help your greater community thrive.  If you have a special talent or interest, someone out there needs you and donating your time and presence is the key to feeling a connection to others and creating good karma.   Find an individual or organization that needs people like yourself, even for a short-term project.  There are many volunteer matching organizations to help you get started.
Gratitude journal.  Keep track and count of all that you are blessed with daily.  Wanting to have -the prevalent attitude in our culture – is a pattern of thinking that arises from our belief in separation from others and lack.  If we feel that we are not complete, that we need more, we lean towards wanting to have rather than wanting to give.
Meditation.  One of my favorite mantras I use in meditation is simply how can I be of service?   When you direct yourself away from an ego-centered focus, to one of alignment with a divine greater purpose, you will receive messages that guide you toward actions that will help you find inner peace. 

I am planning to take a group of individuals to Guatemala to do a service & exploration retreat in January, 2016. 

Corporate group volunteer trips can also be scheduled now through Inspire Solutions.   Would love to hear from you if you're interested in joining us.   Contact me for more details.

How to Spring Clean your Soul

When you forgive,
you heal your own anger and hurt
and are able to let love lead again.
It’s like spring cleaning for your heart.
  ~ Marci Shimoff

Spring is here - a perfect time of year to clean your home, your diet and to let go of all things you don’t need or that don’t serve you any longer.  In this time of fresh starts and new beginnings have you also thought about letting go of your emotional baggage?
You will never be in a peaceful state if you are holding resentment and anger about things that have happened in the past and continue to rob you of your peace in the here and now. When you make others responsible for your lack of happiness it takes away your own internal light and power.  Forgive.
I know, I know, forgiving isn’t easy.
Conventional forgiveness is the hardest type and rarely works, at least initially.  Asking yourself to let someone off the hook for their wrong doings to you and others can feel a bit like condoning their hurtful words and actions.  But there is a different type of forgiveness I recommend and it’s really made a huge difference in my own life.  Radical Forgiveness is a simple step-by-step process that is extremely effective. It provides tools that enable you to quickly release whatever negative charges and energies you are holding onto with people or situations. I suggest you read the book if you want a more detailed description of the process but it goes something like this:

1.  Write your “victim story” and describe what happened

2.  Feel your feelings that arise from the story

3.  Collapse the story into different characters who are all playing a role in your life (people you actually had soul contracts with to do so)

4.  Reframe the story so you witness the lessons and gifts you have learned from your experience with these people and events.

5.  Integrate your new story.   This is where you internally thank those who have harmed you for what they’ve done to help you grow and evolve on your own spiritual, emotional and physical path. 
Try out this process with someone who has hurt you and let me know what you experience.  Radical forgiveness can be just what you need to raise your vibration and heal your body, mind and soul- and put a spring into your step!

2015 I Love Ewe: Year of the Sheep

According to the Chinese calendar, 2015 is The Year of the Sheep (also known as the year of the goat or the ram.) Fortunately, it is a favorable year for all the Chinese zodiac signs. This Chinese New Year 2015 begins on February 19th, 2015 and goes through February 7th, 2016. 
Sheep year is a time to heal after the chaos of 2014's Horse year. Many astrologists agree that the intense conditions of the past few years are wrapping up, and that we are now finally ushering in a period of peace, hope, and stability.  Phew! Now is the time to value family, intimacy and close friendships. We can be more caring, kind and sensitive with ourselves and those around us. Focus on cultivating a gentle heart, open to love and accepting yourself and others without judgment.
Another theme of the Sheep year is the expression of your creative side. This is a great opportunity to explore art, creativity and the cultivation of beauty. If you ever wanted to show your creative side, this is your year! Do not give up, be pessimistic or become discouraged because Sheep can only move forward. (This animal is unable to move backwards or sideways.) Sheep year is most fortunate for Sheep, and for Sheep's most compatible signs-- Rabbit, Horse and Pig. Sheep correlates to the Western sign of Cancer.

Simple Self Love Exercise

  1. Sit in a quite place and close your eyes.
  2. Take 3-5 deep breaths, exhaling through your mouth.
  3. Place your right hand over your heart.
  4. Imagine, feel or visualize a younger version of yourself sitting in your heart (I like to use my 8 year old self).
  5. Repeat "I love you" as many times as you'd like.
  6. Do this daily for 30 days, and let me know what changes you notice in your life!

Let me show you how to shift your energy in 2015


2015 is almost here!  I hope you are enjoying your holidays with family and loved ones with time to connect and unwind.  I am home visiting my extended family and having a fabulous visit with everyone, playing in the deep snow and appreciating the beauty of Utah.  I've also been reminded how difficult and outright exhausting it can be to step back into my old familiar patterns of behavior and taking on energy from others that doesn't suit me anymore -and never did. You know what I'm talking about...that family member or old friend who can trigger your feelings of inadequacy and your child-ish behavior even being in the same room with them!

An acupuncturist for over 15 years, I have studied, practiced, and seen incredible, seemingly miraculous healing and results working with energy vibration, including my own.  Just like an acupuncture session can leave you calm and centered, you can can learn to shift and enhance own energy- creating more health in your body and harmony in your relationships.

  • Learn a simple practice that will give you instant energy without taking a stimulant or supplement
  • Discover the secret behind deeper connection with family, friends and coworkers that actually requires less effort from you
  • Learn 2 techniques you’ve likely never tried to handle difficult people and situations without confrontation
  • Create more intimacy with your partner with easy methods that will save you hours and dollars in therapy sessions
  • Experience less daily anxiety and stress and more ease with one simple daily ritual

Everything in the universe is made up of energy vibrating at different frequencies, including you.  Higher vibrations are associated with empowering thoughts, positive emotions, good health, loving and supportive relationships, financial abundance and strong spiritual awareness.  Lower vibrations create negative thoughts, emotions and experiences, poor health and relationships, stress, and lack of spiritual awareness. 
In these workshops you will learn how to raise your energy vibration: your overall life force or energy. 
Moving from a lower vibration to a higher one can be achieved through simple daily practices and techniques I will teach you. You will be amazed how immediate your results can be.

Two Locations/ 4 Workshops

Mill Valley:
Tuesday, January 13, 12:30-2pm
Tuesday, January 27, 12:30-2pm


San Anselmo:
Tuesday, January 6, 12:30-2pm
Tuesday, January 20, 12:30-2pm

Cost: $45/class in advance; $55/day of class
For more information and online registration:

Raising Your Energy Vibration


You know those days …you argue with your child at breakfast, your client cancels last minute, the barista gets your drink order wrong and cops a nasty attitude, you seem to follow every slow driver as you’re late for your meeting, and your computer freezes up on you when you’re on deadline for an important proposal.  You end that long day tired, cranky, feeling sorry for yourself and wondering what TV show, food or beverage will help you numb your mind from the stress.  We’ve all been there.  And then there are those days where everything seems to click, people support you, the universe has your back, and you feel empowered.   Why is that?
The flow of your day has a lot to do with your vibration: your overall life force or energy. Everything in the universe is made up of energy vibrating at different frequencies-even solid objects are made up of these energy fields, including you.  This is why you often feel so great after an acupuncture treatment…your energy has shifted to a new frequency and higher vibration!
From a scientific and metaphysical perspective, you are made up of different energy levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Each of these levels has a vibrational frequency- high and low-which combine to create your overall vibration of being.  Lower vibrations are associated with negative thoughts and emotions, poor health and lack of spiritual awareness.  Higher vibrations are associated with empowering thoughts, positive emotions, good health and strong spiritual awareness.
With vibrations, like attracts like. The lower your vibration, the more likely you are to attract circumstances and people to you that mirror your vibration.  I know when my own vibration has dropped because all areas of my life are impacted in some way. My energy and health might be poor, I’m at odds with my children, appointment bookings are down, and friends aren’t calling. Not to mention more people tick me off on the road!
If your vibration is high, you are more likely to attract those positive, motivating people into your life, you have ample energy, that job promotion you hoped for just landed, opportunities seem to fall in your lap- and you might even have a police officer decide not to write you a speeding ticket!   So how do we raise our vibration and manifest more of the good things we desire in our lives?  It’s actually fairly simple- with practice.  With the stress and chaos of the holiday season now is a perfect time to test these practices and see if they shift your experiences.
7 ways to raise your energy vibration
1. Become aware of your daily thoughts
Everything you think, say or feel becomes your reality. Your mind is truly your own worst enemy and if, for example, you find yourself thinking people are your adversaries, they probably will be.  As Einstein said, the most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.

2. Meditate for 10 minutes (or longer) first thing in the morning
Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, focus on your breath, and visualize exactly how you want your day to unfold. Too often we start our day and race through it with a scattered brain leaving us in a state of anxiety, stress and lower vibration. Even 10 minutes of meditation a day can shift your energy and experiences.
3. Talk to your grateful heart
Making a gratitude list shifts your vibration by focusing on what is already positive and abundant in your life.  The dividends are in the details when you write down what you appreciate.  For example, this morning I wrote how grateful I am to have a beautiful backyard that has a big tree with a swing and I can watch my daughters enjoy the outdoors from my kitchen window.
4. Look for beauty in the everyday
Beauty is all around us, even in the ordinary.  Stop rushing for a moment and take the time to stand outside, take a deep breath and appreciate something new in your surroundings. Nature has an inherent high vibration.
5. You are what you eat - and drink
Some foods vibrate at high frequencies and some lower (broccoli has a high vibration as do blueberries; Big Macs don't vibrate at all!). If you are consuming foods containing chemicals and pesticides or pre-packaged foods, you will vibrate lower.  Notice how you different you feel when you eat home-cooked, high quality organic food and drink clean, filtered water throughout the day. 
6. Service to others
Giving to someone else (without expecting anything in return) shifts your thinking from “I don’t have enough" to "I have more than enough to give to others.” Abundance is a high vibration. Similarly, being kind to others puts you at a high vibration. Gossip or treat others poorly and your vibration will lower.
7. Get moving - dance!
Vibration requires movement- the more you move the more rapidly your vibrations shift. Dancing is a fun, joyful way to move your body and raise your energy vibration.  You don’t need a partner - just turn on your favorite music and dance and sing in your kitchen when nobody's watching. Whenever I feel the vibration go down in my house I crank some fun tunes and have a dance party with my daughters.
These are simple tips-- there are also other easy and powerful ways of shifting your energy vibration we can teach you.  Click here for information on my upcoming classes.

Good vibrations to all of you this holiday season!


7 Simple Steps to Boost Your Immune System this Fall

As the weather changes in autumn and colder temperatures set in, runny noses and sniffles start to seem like an epidemic.  Add to that the sugar rush of Halloween, and most of us are set up for a series of colds and flu throughout the winter.   Before you run out to get a flu shot, try these simple ways to boost your immune system naturally.

1.  Drink your lemons.  Lemons are an ideal food for restoring acid-alkali balance in your gut- the basis for your immune system.  Drinking freshly squeezed lemon juice in water or adding it to tea, salad dressings, baking or cooking, helps maintain the body's internal climate at a pH level which supports healthy bacteria instead of the viruses and harmful bacteria which thrive in more acidic environments. Drinking a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar is another easy way to improve your body's alkalinity and stimulate detoxification.

2.  Give your body an herbal boost. Herbal supplements can give the immune system additional support during the winter.  Talk with your acupuncturist about which formula is best for your unique constitution.  Fresh herbs and whole food supplements like Standard Process are always preferable, since your body can more easily absorb their nutrient value.

3.  Get a full night of sleep.  Every body generally needs anywhere from 6 to 10 hours of sleep each night.  Sound sleep balances hormone levels (including human growth hormone and the stress hormone cortisol), keeps your weight down, improves mood and bolsters immunity. Whatever your personal sleep requirement is, make it a priority to get it nightly!  Improve your sleep by turning off your screens and devices at least an hour before you hit the sack.

4.  Kick the sugar habit.   This is an important one. You will see noticeable results in your energy levels, weight, health and your ability to think clearly when you break the cravings and stop eating refined sugar. Healthier sugars such as fruit and stevia in small amounts are preferable, but avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame and Splenda- they can be worse than cane sugar.

5.  Stock up on raw fruits and vegetables.   With their antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber and enzymes, the nutritional content you receive from raw fruits and veggies is unparalleled. Many vitamins like C are antioxidants which protect your cells from environmental toxins. Dark-colored produce (berries, kale, broccoli) tends to be higher in flavonoids, polyphenols and other antioxidants. A perfect source of minerals to support your thyroid is seaweed.

6.  Spend time outdoors.  Exercise can make a noticeable difference to your health and wellness by releasing endorphins. Most of us spend 90% of our lives indoors, inhaling filtered air and germs, so take every opportunity to get outside. Time spent outdoors in the cold also stimulates the thyroid gland.

7.  Get regular acupuncture treatments.  Did you know acupuncture creates the release of your body's neurotransmitters and neuro-hormones that affect immune reactions and regulation of blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature?  These biochemical changes can effectively stimulate the body's natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being. Scheduling regular acupuncture visits can provide you with ongoing vitality to prevent illness.


Shamans, broken teeth, opening and embracing


One of my teachers in the Amazon was describing how we become luminous warriors – those who shine the light of our souls in the world instead of holding back and hiding behind our fears.  First, we must go off the beaten path of the psyche, she instructed.  Oh, so this is why I’m here instead of that trip to Italy I considered booking this summer…

I recently returned from a 2-week adventure in Peru where I studied the energy medicine of the Amazon with six indigenous Shipibo shamans, explored sacred sites in the Cusco-Machu Picchu region, and visited local volunteer service projects.  The trip was an unforgettable journey on many levels- physical, mental and spiritual.  An unlikely fall early during my retreat resulted in a mild concussion, stitches near my eye, and three broken teeth!  Fortunately I was there with a community of healers and I recovered more quickly than imagined considering my injuries and the remote location.  The accident didn’t ruin my trip, but it certainly did slow me down.  It also revealed so much about my inner world as well as my outer experience.


In the jungle, through ceremony and study with shamans we practiced opening our minds and hearts to other dimensions of ourselves and to our soul’s inner voice.  I've always heard that answers to our questions lie within us and during the week I knew this to be true.  When I surrendered to a new awareness, answers and insight flooded in almost directly.  When I was open, relaxed and non-judgmental, I received many gifts- similar to a flower slowly opening up to the sunlight each day to receive its beauty and sustenance. 

I was also reminded what it feels like to be tense and closed off, and the resulting lack of information I would receive in this state.  All of this was felt in my body- not my mind. Even the pain from my injury kept me rooted in my physical body and my thoughts remained more present and simple.  To help us get more into our bodies and out of our heads, we dancedQoya every morning as a group.  Through movement and song it was amazing to watch even the man-ly men in our group open up!


Every New Year’s Day I choose a new word to live by and this year it was embrace.  I love this word because it reminds me to look for the gifts- the people, places, and experiences surrounding me - and take them in with a grateful heart and open arms.   It also leads me through a process of accepting life’s twists and turns and bumps and bruises and what they are here to teach me.  

With a head injury and broken teeth in a foreign country I had no choice but to slow down, embrace, and trust that the entire experience was all a part of my journey.  My tendency is to move quickly and pack a lot of physical activity into my days.  Not this vacation.  With a leisurely, slow pace I was able to take more in, listen, and observe with a new perspective during my trip. I ate a lot of quinoa soup.  And I connected more with my environment and the people in Peru.

It was also interesting to witness how people looked at me as I traveled with 2 black eyes and a bruised face.  Vanity and confidence in my appearance went by the wayside.  I had to dig deep, hold my head high, and know it was still me inside and not look for external validation from others.  It was all a true test of surrender and embrace.

When I returned home from Peru I felt different.  Even my home didn’t look the same to me.  Something had changed and shifted inside me and my outside world also.  I still feel lighter.  My teacher in the Amazon told us that in order to evolve and bring more light into our being we needed to “crack open the coconut” – which is exactly what I did- in the most literal sense. 

I now call it my fall into grace.