Never mistake your presence for the event

I have been taking a few weeks to slow down, eat herbs and Swedish bitters, rest and rejuvenate, because the patient load at WorkSong is definitely growing. Although it’s not quite warm yet, the cherry blossoms are out at the botanical garden, and I am exploring keeping an apiary on my roof garden. It’s not quite legal, but not quite illegal, and bees are having a hard time lately. In the circular way that I do things I signed a petition, started scavenging wood for the frame, and got a book at the thrift store by a beekeeper in Missouri. Urban concerns are a little different, but not entirely, and there are beekeepers just a few miles from here in Long Island. I’m starting to put together some of the puzzle pieces. I have been interested in bees for about 10 years, and had plans to apprentice with a keeper when a forest fire drove his bees out. It really came home to me this winter that I’m not moving back to Kansas anytime soon, so I’d better do the things I planned on where I’m at. 

Part of that recognition has been the success of  my community acupuncture practice.  After a year, the storefront is a familar part of the neighborhood; there have been some good successes and the referrals follow. It feels natural and  fun to treat groups of friends and family. I love the happy whispers and laughter when people recognize each other in the treatment room. Friends are made, too; two women with broken feet (only one each) commiserating on their trials. I tell people that unlike a boutique practice, they don’t have to be incredibly quiet, but they will still be subjected to New Age music. I bought a neat looking box of earplugs, which are reassuring but never used. As people have more and more experience sinking into the healing resonant state that is acupuncture, they don’t pay attention to outside noise. A child fell down the stairs on the other side of the wall last week (all turned out fine), and only one person even looked up. I like holding the space for them so they can do that–I unpin them at exactly the time they ask, so they don’t have to give it another thought. It is incredible to me that after experiencing acupuncture consistently, nearly everyone has some real visceral knowledge of the internal architecture of the meridians. It’s beautiful to have someone articulate what I’m trying to do with the treatment plan–they can feel their Qi being moved! I love mediating the conversation they’re having with themselves, and I finally feel like my earlier training in Peace Studies is being integrated into my life.

On an earthier note, I am understanding that the clinic is going to be too damn small in just a few years. I see patients four days a week, with one day to research cases and deep clean, and their aren’t enough spaces in the day now. The space (750 sq. ft with seven chairs and one table) was the absolute most I could afford, though, and I am pretty grateful for the dilemna. I plan to use our backyard this summer, as the garden is walled in and away from the street; I’ll also be adding a canopy and three more treatment chairs. There has been a generous uptick in new patients since the acknowledged start of the recession, as people try to solve their headaches, stomachaches, allergies and back pain without expensive prescriptions. Also, many people are being cut down to part-time work, which makes them ineligible for insurance.

I had a perfectly blissful experience this past week, seeing the face of the son I helped a patient conceive after 10 years of infertility. She was one of the first people through the door, and her success has been so gratifying. It has also been a huge source of recognition and referrals. She did all the hard work, but it was an honor to be a helpful witness. At the outset I told her,”Regardless of whether you conceive, you can not fail to be healthier and stronger after three months of acupuncture. You will be in a better position to manage every aspect of your life, no matter what decision you have to make.” Her rhuematoid arthritis also got much better, and she had a pain-free pregnancy. When acupuncture is affordable and accessible, some really incredible things can happen! I watched a patient with asthma that I see weekly riding by on his bike, singing opera at the top of his lungs.

Part of my rest time involves planning how the day needs to run in the clinic. I really didn’t sit down to do that at the outset, or make a schedule for copying off forms or ordering herbs and needles–truthfully, in private practice there was always time to mess around or procrastinate because I didn’t have enough patients. So now I have to establish some systems so things can go in a good orderly direction from here. I don’t recommend starting things the way I did–I mean, I could be a lot, lot more organized. I’m trying to get there, though, and to get over my resentment of what I see as the meaningless smack of poplular culture. Do many people feel like me, like they’re still stuck in the 20th century? All the electronic fiddling! The superficial nature of a lot of it makes something real like CA or a food coop truly subversive. I’m glad to be a part if it, and of my neighborhood. I hope that in the next 5 years, CA clinics will be so prevalent that people can choose where to go like they do a laundromat or library. Maybe someone likes my backyard, but your windchimes ring their bell, or another clinic is closer on the train today. I don’t think a person needs to see me to get their healing underway, but they need access to this medicine. As Roscoe Lee Brown said, “Never mistake your presence for the event.”

Isobeau Trybula
Author: Isobeau Trybula

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  1. I LOVE this:

    “When acupuncture is affordable and accessible, some really incredible
    things can happen! I watched a patient with asthma that I see weekly
    riding by on his bike, singing opera at the top of his lungs.”

    Really wonderful writing, thank you.

  2. honey


    I’m starting to really look forward to your posts. And. like alot of this writing by CAPs, it makes me really want to get a treatment in your clinic with you looking outfor my space and mediating my conversation with my meridians.

    Love the bee idea. I went to a ritual last night of a friend who was trying to get pregnant. A friend brought honey made by a keeper right down the street, and spooned a little in everyone’s mouth. She said some really beautiful things about the honey being such a sweet outcome of organized community activity. 

    Korben Perry

    Philadelphia Community Acupuncture

  3. gorgeous

    I love your writing, too, Isobeau – thank you!  The image Lisa references – the asthmatic bicycling by singing – really struck me too.  That quality of life difference is huge, and ripples outward…I also love your patient bringing in her new baby (and what you said to her while she was trying to get pregnant); I love when family members come in together, and I’m looking forward to sticking around long enough to treat more generations.

    And Korben, this: “…honey being such a sweet outcome of organized community activity”?  That’s pure liquid gold.  What a wonderful community you must have.