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“Sometimes hope is the most amazing medicine we have to offer” spoke Tiffany Pollard, L.Ac., in a seminar I attended.  I scribbled this insightful quote down the second it rolled off her lips.

Let me be clear that by loving this quote I am not admitting to any assertion that acupuncture works by placebo effect.    But so many of our patients have been through the Western medicine ringer and have never aware that there are alternative medical models.   It’s like coming to a dead end, and realizing you missed a turn off.

This change of direction that we offer does more than just give somebody hope that they can be cured, it lightens the load they have been carrying.  They might sigh, cry, or even laugh when you tell them that their condition has a long history of treatment via Chinese medicine.

And it is not to say that we are giving them any false expectations or prognoses.  Telling your patient who has had several failed IVF attempts that you are going to help her conceive with Chinese medicine is not what I mean.  But telling her the truth, that Chinese medicine has helped women who have been diagnosed as infertile by Western medicine, can ignite that flame of hope and fortifies them for whatever lies ahead.

And even after they have conceived, or their knee pain went away without the need for surgery or whatever it might be, I believe both hope and Chinese medicine are equally responsible.

The other weekend I attended a continuing education seminar in Santa Barbara.  It was run by Snow Lotus and it was called Aroma Acupoint Therapy.  The teachers were passionate and knowledgable and I learned a lot.  But I went into the seminar with that same feeling of subtle resentment that I carry into every live CE event:  Resentment that I have to spend all weekend indoors, resentment that I won’t be with my husband and kids who in turn resent me for leaving them, resentment for what seems like a never-ending CE requirement.

But when I dig deep into this resentment, it has little to do with the conference itself.  For me it is a time issue, time being my most precious commodity.  Between mothering two children, working at a busy clinic 20 hours per week, running Grasshopper Education, and being the person in charge of running the household, the time that I am able to carve out for myself is paltry.  In writing these two paragraphs alone I have been interrupted literally 6 times.

But it did not used to be this way.  When I was fresh out of acupuncture college I relished large events like Pacific Symposium.  For me it was a chance to continue learning and to see old colleagues, it connected me with the greater community that I had become a part of, and I would never dream of checking email or updating my Quickbooks during a class.

But sadly, in the last several years live CE events have become more of an opportunity to cross off my to-do list, research online, and catch up on emails.  In fact, these disappointing CE events were the reason I created Grasshopper Education;  I wanted to make continuing education hassle-free, a way for busy people to earn CE’s at home or in the office without being held hostage in an airless (or freezing cold) room.  Ultimately though, integration was the main issue.  I had been to many interesting and insightful weekend seminars but somehow the material never made it back into my acupuncture practice.  Perhaps it was because two days just weren’t long enough to cover the topic, or the material was too theoretical, or perhaps I was not paying enough attention.

So that Saturday the seminar started out like any other.  I took a seat way in the back, popped open my laptop and set out to cross things off my to-do list.  Suffice it to say I was sorely disappointed to learn there was no WIFI in the building!  So, after Quickbooks was updated I was forced to turn off the laptop and (gasp) pay attention.  Without any other distractions, I was able to receive the instruction that the teachers were bestowing upon me.

I sat next to the Julie Ryan, an acupuncturist in Camarillo, and we quickly bonded over our kids and our mutual alma mater, PCOM in SD.  We spent the next two days talking about our practices, our kids, PCOM, and listening to the insightful presenters.  We teamed up treating people and then treated each other, accepting the guidance the teachers gave us.  The next day was Sunday and I barely watched the clock at all.  I listened more attentively and the thought of integrating the material actually became a possibility.

Internet access denied, I was forced to be a full participant.    By being present, I relaxed a little more, and the resentment of being there melted away.  It transformed into opportunity.

Who knows if the next conference I will resist the urge to check my inbox?  As of right now in this precious moment, I hope that I do.