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Spring 2022: A Lesson In Bending Without Breaking

Updated: Apr 13, 2022

Let me start off by saying that I have a serious love/hate relationship with the Spring/Wood energetic. I LOVE watching the world wake up from the deep slumber of Winter/Water. I get excited about the baby animals. The cherry blossoms back in DC and the tulip fields in Holland take my breath. But they take my breath both figuratively and literally: I typically have terrible allergies in the Springtime. I find myself getting irritated more easily. Spring is a beautiful season, but it definitely brings some challenges.

In Chinese Medicine, Spring correlates to the Wood energetic. It governs the sinews (tendons/ligaments). The color is green (look at all the new green vegetation sprouting!). The sound is shout, the emotion is anger/creativity. This is the season for new beginnings, establishing a disciplined rhythm, letting your creativity flow, and seeing the forest from the trees so you can fit all these new things into an already-established order. The energy of the Wood has shown up so strongly for me in Spring 2022, that I decided to use it as a way to share some news and make some announcements about my practice.

I originally began Free Spirit in 2020 during the pandemic, working from my home office in Hoofddorp. I was focused on starting slowly so I could get my bearings as a practitioner in my new country. I built clientele, and learned more about the way alternative medicine is practiced here. As soon as it seemed like the darkest days of the pandemic were behind us, I decided this would be the perfect moment to start transitioning out of my home office and into a more public space, with other practitioners. I found a co-working space in Haarlem that seemed like the perfect fit! It was a beautiful space in an area I'm familiar with, and had a wonderful community of practitioners. So on 1 March, I launched a new practice site in Haarlem/Heemstede, with the intention of eventually transitioning out of my home office entirely.

During this same period, the Russian invasion of Ukraine inspired me to reach out to Acupuncturists Without Borders, to see if there was any way I could help out from the Netherlands. I quickly became one of the lead coordinators for AWB in the Netherlands, recruiting volunteers in an effort to set up trauma relief clinics for the refugee community. It's a huge undertaking, but in a short time we have developed a large database of volunteer practitioners and students. We're making contacts with government entities, nonprofits, universities, and refugees, in order to begin offering our services. It's been a lot of work, and there is still so much more to do, but it's also very gratifying to be able to help people doing work I love (Another one of Wood's gifts is benevolence).

Just as I started to establish my rhythm with these two efforts, I received a call from my doctors that it was time for me to drop everything and have surgery for my long-standing endometriosis and adenomyosis. I have struggled from these conditions since I was 13 years old. I've used acupuncture and other forms of complementary medicine over the years to help ease symptoms - and overall I've been pretty successful at managing them! But in recent years, my case has gotten so severe that I sought the help of allopathic specialists. Last Autumn, I was quickly diagnosed and placed on a waiting list for surgery. I was told it would be Meivakantie at the earliest (due to Covid backlogs) before I could have surgery to cure the adenomyosis and give me relief from the endometriosis (for which there is no cure). At the time, it seemed like such a long way off! But instead of allowing myself to get too frustrated, I decided to channel that energy into developing my practice, and preparing for the eventual Springtime rush of clients. When I started volunteering for AWB, I figured I would have plenty of time to get the projects on solid footing. I thought that by the time I was called for surgery, it would be closer to Summer and all my new projects would be more established and could easily survive my absence.

I was shocked when I received the call that I would be having my surgery on 28 March, giving me less than 2 weeks to wrap up my activities before surgery. After my procedure, my doctors told me that instead of 6-8 weeks of recovery, I'd be looking at closer to 8-10 weeks before I'd be back to normal. What timing: I had just started to work with new patients at a beautiful new space, and was participating in a new project I believed in. There was so much work to be done this Spring. How could I possibly do everything I needed to do in under two weeks - let alone take an additional 8-10 weeks off to recover? Talk about having your plans thwarted!

Planning is an integral part of the Wood energy. If you look at trees in a forest, you see that they erupt from the ground and then reach towards the sun as they grow. Plans are

the same way: an idea is like a seed that takes root, and a plan is like the sapling that becomes a tree. But things happen in life: animals can come along and burrow in to make a home, or a storm comes along that can blow off branches or cause the tree to uproot. So how can your ideas and plans grow around/with the animals? How can your ideas and plans bend with the wind, without breaking or getting entirely uprooted?

The Wood energetic likes a disciplined rhythm, but that rhythm is there to enable a free

flow. When that rhythm is too weak or rigid, or gets thwarted entirely, energy can't flow properly and imbalance ensues. The question is: how do you navigate a blip to your rhythm with ease, so it doesn't manifest as an imbalance? What changes can I make that will allow me to keep my energy flowing freely, support my ideas and plans, and still allow the time and space for healing?

The first change I made was to continue my volunteer work in a more limited capacity. I know it will be awhile before I can be on-site anywhere, and I am not well enough right now to participate as fully as I would like to, BUT I can continue to lay groundwork and facilitate connections remotely. I am getting to know and support our amazing Team Leaders at various locations by getting them the resources and information they need for success. AWB already has locations operating in Den Haag and in Friesland, with more soon to follow. I intend to eventually lead a Team myself here in Haarlemmermeer, hopefully this Summer.

The next change is to finalize my transition to a new professional organization. I am in the process of transferring to another professional organization that is recognized by more insurance companies here in the Netherlands. I am doing this so that my services will be accessible to more people, thereby allowing me to further build my practice. Hopefully, this change will be completed within the next couple of months.

Lastly, I have to say goodbye to the shared space in Haarlem/Heemstede. I hate that my time there was so short, but all the recent developments mean this set-up is simply not the best fit. Instead, I am taking over a praktijktuimte in my neighborhood, at the Live Life & Dance Center, starting in June. I will have my own dedicated space, with room to grow my practice. The building is shared with other providers of health, beauty, and wellness services, giving me more opportunities to collaborate. This space is conveniently located for my existing patients, and staying in my neighborhood will give me more flexibility and time to devote to the people and endeavors most important to me.

So how do you bend without breaking? For me it's about staying focused on your priorities, knowing when to prune off a branch, and seeing new possibilities as they present themselves. I look forward to exploring new possibilities with you in the treatment room soon!

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