On Beginning, Again – for new and old punks. Part 1, Guest Post by Cait Cain

I’m finally writing a POCA blog – my name is Cait and I own Lincoln Acupuncture Project here in Lincoln, Nebraska. Some say adaptability is what keeps us alive, but it’s also what keeps us engaged, expanding, growing and learning as individuals and, as a community. Being a CA punk is ALL about adaptability, it’s crucial for success – being flexible, not getting unhinged with upgrades and changes to systems/ paperwork/websites/ schedulers, not letting erratic patient behavior change the steady, solid environment you, your clinic and co-workers have set up, dealing with and accepting revenue fluctuations and changing patient numbers and not freaking out when staff changes or your clinic has to find a new location, to name a few examples. (PS – I didn’t say it was easy.) Change really is the only universal constant though and our willingness, ability to and success with adapting molds us into who we are, what we’re made of and what we’ll do.

Good news is we tend to adapt with more ease when we know ourselves which is another really important skill for a CA punk. The more we embrace, understand, accept and work with who we are – how we move in the world, why how and what we do, what both our strengths and weaknesses are, the less change bothers us. Once upon a time, WT said something like, “Vancouver was where you learned about the world, Oakland is where you’ve learned how the world works and Nebraska is where you’ll get to put it all together.” Something like that. While leaving Oakland/SOAP was hard, it’s not difficult for me to adapt – I like it, it’s challenging and fun. Which helped because my Adaptation List included morphing from a punk employee part of a very successful 3 clinic location team of 10 to a solo punk clinic owner; exchanging the ocean for the prairie; leaving a blue state for a red one and being out of work for a super long time while I studied, re-licensed, searched for clinic space and, eventually, opened LAP 6 months ago. Amazingly, my partner and I are still together – we’re both healthy, we have an excellent community of friends, family and neighbors and we even have a new cat friend. Crazy great, I love it here! Each day, Lincoln Acupuncture Project grows stronger, more supported and financially stable. And, in turn, I become that too. Here’s some things I’ve learned so far:

1. I’ve always known that opening more successful CA clinics and having more skilled CA punk employees and owners working in those clinics is crucial to POCA’s continued success. But, I can’t say I really knew HOW crucial. We have come a long, long way and there is so very much more to do. So many people don’t have access to community acupuncture and they ought to, they really ought to. It’s a crime a mid sized college town aka city like Lincoln, population 290,000 plus had 5 acupuncturists, none of which I could/can afford, before LAP arrived. This is a liberal city in a conservative state that thrives on family, community, agriculture (large and small) sports and beer. And everyone’s got a health concern. Each time we, as POCA members, look at a US map with CA clinics on it and we feel so happy and thrilled that there are so many – stop and look at those huge swatches where finding affordable acupuncture is like finding a very thin 18 x 15 acupuncture needle in a warehouse of feather beds. We desperately need more CA clinics in places where they are not. And we need folks to own them and work in them and for them to be great at what they do.

That said…

2. Most people were shocked when I decided to move to Nebraska, they felt like I was moving to another planet – some people didn’t even know where Nebraska
is. Deep down, though, everyone supported me because I think they knew I’m built for this. It’s true, if you’re gonna leap out of your comfort zone and bring CA to a place that doesn’t have it already, the stage is set for you. People will appreciate you showing up for them more than you could ever imagine and, believe me – I support you, I applaud you and I will do everything I can to help you. Do, however, study up on where you’re going – land in a place where you have friends or family and, if you’re going with a partner, make sure your relationship is as stable as the two of you can make it. I spent a year studying Lincoln and the state of Nebraska, which is where my partner’s from. I followed an entire Huskers football season before I even got here regardless of whether I cared about college football or not. Now, I can keep up with any die-hard Huskers fan which is actually important to having CA clinic here. I sent letters to a couple of Nebraska senators before I arrived too, about acupuncture legislation and then I talked about what I wrote and why to some LNK folks and they wrote letters also! That immediately got everyone interested in and directly involved with LAP and CA, which was super important. And while people knew Mollie and I were moving here and they knew CA was coming to town, I built on that as much as I could when I was in Oakland which made the clinic come together a lot faster with tons of community support and energy.


3. The gratitude, respect and love I have for my SOAP family is immeasurable. I became a superpunk in Oakland cause I was surrounded by them everyday. I got taught by example and I was taught really, really well. Observing other successful punks, working side by side with them, following their careers, knowing their stories, asking them questions, taking in whatever guidance and wisdom they have time to give is, along with knowing who you are, so important to your punk success. I’m so glad I became involved in POCA when I did, I’m thrilled I’ve gotten to attend so many POCAfests and I did the right thing by joining circles, teaching, keeping up with threads and mentoring others both in POCA and POCA Tech. All of it has been so very helpful. Thank you everyone – I would not be the punk I am now without all the mentoring I’ve had and continue to have. Our POCAverse has a terrific sample of owners who have become employees and employees who have become owners and even owners who became employees who then became owners again. LAP succeeds because of all those before it. It also sustains itself, out here in the Dry Zone because of what we have done and continue to do together. Stay tuned for more.

Author: lisafer

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  1. I always feel inspired reading about your transition to Lincoln. Going somewhere with no community acupuncture and making it available is so important. Sometimes I regret not doing that, although I didn’t have the important support structures that you mention. Sometimes I dream about doing it someday if I ever move away, but I also realize the monumental challenges of starting a brand new clinic. Anyway, your positivity really shines and you should be proud of yourself for all your awesome work. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for that, Justine – not having to re-invent the wheel is a real gift and you’re part of that. I’m still adjusting – mostly with being land locked, honestly. This is the LONGEST I’ve been away from the sea in my life, going on 15 months now. And, not having other POCA folks near me has also been hard. But, yes – the support systems make it all so much more possible. I love what you said about adapting and transitions and changes on FB – sometimes, I’d trick myself into believing I was simply traveling in a strange land, on an adventure that I knew would be special. Someone says that forges new brain pathways – being in unfamiliar places surrounded by a cultures and languages we haven’t been exposed to. Nebraska’s not another planet, for sure, and I like the differences as much as the similarities.

  3. We have a MAS patient from Nebraska. She still have family in Omaha. I often talk about you when I see her. For Nebraska being such a big state, Omaha and Lincoln are not that far from each other.

  4. It’s true, Roppy – they are close distance wise, about 50 minutes to an hour. And, they are really really different cities. I’ve got a few patients that drive over from Omaha – it’s a regular commute for many.

  5. THANKS Cait!

    That’s SO awesome what you’re doing in Lincoln, and it’s SO great to have more stories out there from people who are starting to open new clinics in “undeserved” states!

    As a life-long Midwesterner, if just makes me so happy to see more POCA activity out here. Like everywhere else, people NEED this there so much.

    YAY Lincoln Acupuncture Project!!!