To be a community acupuncturist you have to be a part of the community. Duh, why has that taken me so long to figure out?
I’m 35 weeks pregnant and each day is a ticking clock before this baby arrives. I’m nervous about leaving my clinic baby. There is so much left to take care of before I attend to this life changing event. It keeps me up at night; I’m not going to lie. Most nights even when I am asleep my mind is still trouble shooting for the clinic or I’m up staring at the ceiling after going to the bathroom. The question I ask seems to always be the same, how am I going to do all of this?
I’m stubborn, I have a hard time listening to advice and I love community acupuncture, I love my patients, my clinic, my community- I just realized that they love me too. That not only do I facilitate a space for people to come to rest, to heal, to get whatever it is they get out of acupuncture that I also belong. Community acupuncture works best when it’s a part of the community, when I’m a part of community. It works best when I run into patients at the gym, at the store, out for dinner. That is not the only community that us punks are a part of though. It also works best for my sanity as a clinic owner to be a part of the POCA online community- it was a gift last Sunday to connect with the other Midwest punks in real life. There are circles and webs of community- all important.
So it seems the current themes of my life lessons these days are asking for help and surrendering. The surrendering I am pretty much ok with, the asking for help is really hard. My community of POCA both online and in person have made a thousand great cases for why asking for help makes sense and doesn’t have to be scary or some loss of control, some stupid ego trip the 3 year old in me keeps saying “I can do it by myself.” Because to be a community acupuncturist that isn’t true and it certainly hasn’t been true for me over the past 10 months my clinic has been open- my clinic is alive because my patients tell their friends and family to come all I really do is show up to work when I say I’m going to be there and put needles in people and take them out. So knowing that it would seem a no brainer to ask for help in the other areas the clinic has needs. Patients sending referrals seems organic, they do it because they want to. The only difference between that and asking for volunteer help is the asking part. I finally did it, I had too. There were no choices left- the clinic can’t grow anymore without it and it needs to grow, it needs to be able to grow even while I’m away and I’m out of excuses. So I sent out an eblast and mentioned NAP was looking for volunteers, I posted something on the facebook page and let go.
This morning I’m up at 5 after going to the bathroom not thinking about how I’m going to get it all done before this baby comes. I’m in awe that people reached out almost as quickly as the virtual cry for help went out and they asked, what do you need? Kind of the same way I ask when they show up for treatment, “how can I help today?” I had to push it all down at first- the o no, just kidding I got this. It’s nothing really. You probably aren’t really interested etc etc etc. Instead I was honest and said we need help with the phones, it only seems to ring when we are treating patients and the flood gates opened with all the things the clinic needs to run smoother and people excitedly said, “I can do that, I want to do that. I like to do that. I’m good at doing that.” Duh. Just like I want to be their community acupuncturist. So my next bit of overwhelment came when I realized I had to figure out written down systems for these volunteers to have. Then I remembered I didn’t have to re-invent the wheel because I am a part of the POCA community and I didn’t have to really do anything at all but again state what was needed because Marguerite the punk I hired for my maternity leave, my co-worker, friend who is also a part of all of these communities wanted to do it, knows how to do it because of her previous life before community acupuncture.
Being a clinic owner is a lot like birthing a child. I don’t have a direct experience of the labor process (yet) but the labor process of running a clinic involves a lot of deep breathing and surrendering and work and I’m guessing there will be a lot of that when this labor starts. There is blood and sweat and tears. There’s contracting and expanding in a clinic always. It’s the yin and yang. The deepest point of resistance on my part always leads to the greatest expansion. As I’ve carried this baby for the past 8 months I’ve been very aware that while we are so close, that while I already love this tiny creature I don’t really have any ownership. He or she is already their own person, I am simply facilitating her growth and witness to his life much the same way I am supporting my community(ies) and they are supporting me.