2 punctuation marks keeping me sane and healthy

I’m not gonna lie — having to close my Chinese Medicine clinic and self-quarantine has been rough at times. And confusing and scary. With moments of wonder and connection as well.

I credit two punctuation marks with helping me stay buoyant:

Parentheses and question marks.

Let me explain the parentheses first. (They’re metaphorical brackets that contain my day.)

The First Parenthesis is my morning routine, (1.5 hrs)

Scrape tongue, brush teeth, wash face, rinse sinuses. Hydrate. Coffee. Meditate/ breathing. Gratitude. Yoga or workout. Set priorities.

Then I let my day happen.

The closing parenthesis is my winding down routine: Shutting down screens by 9pm (and trying not to look at my phone), a brief self-massage/ stretching, reflecting on what I learned today, and reading fiction help me downshift before bed. (3o mins)

This daily structure that enables me to connect with my body, mind, spirit, creates a rhythm. I’m setting myself up to feel great, to optimize my physical and mental energy. Every time we ping our brain, it takes energy. So the more we can automate the basics, the more energy we have for the hard stuff: work, creativity, problem-solving.

And if we have to make micro-decisions like “when am I meditating?” “How am I going to exercise this week?” all of that depletes willpower. So does stress. When willpower is depleted, we’re more likely to make regrettable choices.

So I give thanks to the two-hour parentheses that bracket my day, helping me preserve my patience, energy, and equanimity in this challenging era.

The second punctuation mark worth some credit is The Almighty Question-mark. The mark that admits we don’t know, that we don’t have all the answers. The symbol that stands for inquiry, questioning, beginner’s mind, wonder, and listening.

There are the practical (and sometimes frantic) questions like when and how can my clinic re-open? Do I really have to disinfect my groceries? I still don’t know the answers. So I’m trying to let it be OK to not know, and simply abide with the question until new information is revealed.

I’ve actively been encouraging other questions to bubble up, like “what is the opportunity here?” “What part of quarantine do I want to keep when we emerge?” and “how the hell can I just get through the day without losing it?” These trade off relative importance.

Abiding with the question “How can I come out of this experience better able to serve?” is one I’ve been answering in the form of a continuing education binge, learning not only about the bio-mechanisms of Covid-19, but taking classes on the microbiome, leaky gut, fibromyalgia, and autoimmunity, knee pain, carpal tunnel, PMS, painful periods, perimenopause, orthopedic acupuncture, etc.

Sure, I’ve been treating this stuff for years, but the best way to shut down growth is to assume you know it all already.

When your teacup is already full, not even the wisest masters can add to it.

And you never know when you’ll hear something that will crack the door to a new way of being in the world.

Like my client who was experiencing chronic bloating for five years. GONE after a single coaching session and 3 weeks of herbs. All because she was willing to ask “I wonder if Chinese Medicine could help me with this?”*

Listening can’t transform us if we’re already certain.

If we’re waiting for our turn to talk, making sure we’re right so we don’t look dump, we’re just mentally reinforcing what we already know. There is no receptivity, no opportunity for growth.

With my family members, I’ve been asking: “What stories am I telling myself that might be dead wrong?”

Judgment and curiosity cannot exist in the same space.

A Healthy Curiosity Podcast is here for you if you’re wanting to listen and learn, and potentially transform. For your Quarantine Playlist:

Ending Emotional Eating: Quarantine edition with Tricia Nelson

One of the things about quarantine is that it’s harder to escape the hard stuff. Having the willingness to be in the midst of difficult emotions is one of the most important things we can do. Who wants to hang out in the muck of sadness, shame, guilty, anger, and the lot?

But that’s actually what it takes to be real with ourselves, and with others. For more on this, give a listen to my conversation on 90 seconds to authenticity and confidence (which hinge on this willingness) here. This chat with Dr. Joan Rosenberg is one of my favorites of late.

Conversations with fellow Chinese Medicine colleagues

Microbiome Biohacking: with Dr. Andrew Miles, L.Ac., host of the Botanical Biohacking podcast. Learn how Traditional Chinese Medicine concepts like “dampness” correlate with things like “biofilms” — it’s just as gross as it sounds.

Stress and Sleep (and Chinese herbs and cannabis) with Dr. Stacey Donelson, L.Ac.

Fertility and Intimacy with Denise Wiesner, L.Ac.

PMS, PCOS, and Pain: Your Period Doesn’t Have to Suck with Melissa Lee, L.Ac.,

For broader listening to experts in other fields, a bit of holistic health cross-training:

Fitness Over 50: How to optimize strength training and exercise to stay strong. Debra Atkinson and I met in the green room while filming a TV segment for the Dr. Nandi show last fall, and had a great time trading tips on healthy aging.

Protecting our Bones (hint: don’t wait until you’re retired!) with powerhouse PT and happiness coach Margie Bissinger, P.T.

Body Mapping to calm your nervous system with Alicia Fajardo

Because healthy individuals need healthy communities, a conversation on how to be better anti-racist (anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, etc.) allies with Erica Courdae. It starts with being okay to do it imperfectly.

What health-wellness-related questions are you wrestling with? Hit reply and let me know. I’d love to be able to help.

*I’m available for remote health consultations where we look at diet, lifestyle, and your health history, and coach you on herbs, food, acupressure, qi gong, meditation, breathing practices, and the energetics of life.

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