Whew! kinda quiet here in blog land lately, so i’ll go for the obvious: happy independence day, comrades! just a little thought ramble…

i’ have been grooving on this particular sentiment–independence–lately as i prepare to leave the last few remnant hours that i have been hanging on to at another non-acu job–i’m finally making the call, it will be by the end of the summer. whoohoo!!! i’ve been waiting until we hit a particular number of patients/wk, yada yada and what i now know is that the only way to reach that number is get every last ounce of my energy and focus out from under someone else’s vision and completely into my own.

i’ve had this job all through acu school and through this first year as we got our clinic off the ground and i finally feel like i can see light at the end of the tunnel. i’ve hung on to it longer than i had hoped for, and as grateful as i am that it has made it possible for me to get through this first year, i am more than ready to make the leap of faith into full self-employment. did i mention that this is the first time in my entire working life of almost 30 years that i will be saying this? full self-employment. whoohoohoo!!

i have been a worker bee forever: teaching, social service, domestic violence, medical office manager. i’ve done all manner of retail, restaurant, landscaping, house cleaning, grunt labor–even waved a flag on the highway for a while! i’ve been a loyal employee, a decent manager and every job has taught me things i now hope will someday help make me a good employer.

but really, there is so much less tangible stuff to love about being my own boss, and having this independence and freedom: like creating things in ways that matter to me; being the means of production but also enjoying the fruits of my labor rather than seeing it enrich someone else’s life; refusing to be treated as “less than” inside the walls of my own business; creating an atmoshpere of inclusion (for all people and, you know what? especially for “my people”–a broad and varied group that i have sometimes seen left out in other places). 

i like that we can give away treatments for free, and can choose to treat for as little as we like, not have to turn anyone away or make anyone feel awkward or less than, because they don’t have a lot of money in their pocket. i like being able to stand up for my values, rather than someone else’s first, and to create boundaries if people become abusive, because, as we all know, the customer is NOT always right, sometimes they just want someone to boss around. so i get to create a place that attracts people who love what we do, and show us every single day with their smiles and hugs or sharing their deepest struggles and trusting us with their vulnerability. so, really, it’s independence but also just a better kind of interdependence, maybe.

i envision a schedule for myself eventually that will allow for some better
balance and self-care (no more 80 or even 60 hour weeks, two days off in a row
once in a while–yay!). i love that my business really is an extenion of me into the world, a vision of what i hope to see, stand for and be.

i’m happy so many of us here are getting to experience this independence from bosses, from demoralizing work of all kinds, from NOT being able to practice acupuncture because it hasn’t worked so far, from the crazy acu establishment, and all manner of other limiting paradigms. love to hear your experiences of independence and your journeys to getting here!

Author: melissa

Found community acupuncture in my last year of acupuncture school and it was like cool water on the dry desert of aculand. It addressed all those nagging questions of how to make acupuncture accessible and inviting to people like me, in my own communities as well as actually make a living and I knew I would practice this way for the rest of my life. I have learned more (about acupuncture, about people and community, about myself) in the past few years of running a CA clinic and being an acupunk at another BDC clinic than ever before. It's one of my all-time favorite places to be. I am eternally grateful to this community for its welcoming support, its passionate determination and its irreverence for useless sacred cows. I look forward to our continued work in supporting community acupuncture clinics worldwide!

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  1. “get every last ounce of my

    “get every last ounce of my energy and focus out from under someone else’s vision and completely into my own.”

    Love it!

    I wish you lots of success as a full time self employer!


    Roy Green Pach

    Jerusalem Community Acupuncture

    14 Hillel Street, Jerusalem


  2. a better kind of interdependence

    Congratulations Melissa. I too have been enjoying freedom from the wage masters. I’ve often reflected that it is important not to forget these experiences so that as our clinics succeed, we take care of our employees in ways we would have liked to have been considered.

  3. Big congrats, Melissa.

    And, much internal celebratory fireworks to you. I will say that at times I miss being a worker bee and also that I sometimes still feel like a worker bee ina really good way. I think there’s a possibility in community acupuncture for the vision about creating work out of your own ideas to not be in contradiction to the good stuff about being an employee (or a worker’s coop worker, or whatever). But,  I realize you’re talking about getting out from under exploitation. And, I’m so happy for you, and for everyone who figures out whatever small part of that they can.

    Korben Perry

    Philadelphia Community Acupuncture