The journey of the spirit is profound.
I had no idea that my forgotten childhood interests in qi gong, meditation, and making herbal teas under a pine tree would lead to a calling of learning Acupuncture and healing decades later.
There was a moment in my life when the door opened and all of a sudden the path was very clear. While taking a class my teacher asked what I wanted to do with my life. It was a question I had asked myself for so long and not had an answer to. That moment these words came: “I want to learn healing in Hawaii.” Words spoken from deep within me, a calling if you may. After contemplation I uprooted from NYC and moved to Hawaii to study Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, and Herbal Medicine under the guidance of a 64th generation Daoist Master, “Shihfu” Dr Lillian Chang. I cannot be happier with my choice.
I graduated from The World Medicine Institute/Tai Hsuan Foundation in Honolulu, HI, where I received my Masters of Science degree in Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture (MSTOM) and a Diplomate Certificate from the NCCAOM. My undergraduate degree is from Skidmore College with a double major in Psychology and Spanish, with a bunch of music and Indian dance classes thrown in. After leaving Saratoga for NYC I took a position working with the world re-known hospital Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center on and off for the last 17 years holding positions in clinic management, bone-marrow transplant research, surgical technician, and dermatologic/plastic surgery medical photographer.
Why acupuncture? In 2004 I was experiencing a three-week long migraine. I tried everything I knew to try and make it go away- from over the counter medicine, prescription medicine, massage, sauna, steam rooms, yoga, sleep, drinking more water, etc. I kept thinking if I could just release the pressure it will go away. I was walking hunched-over at a super slow pace because I was in so much pain that every step hurt. One day working at the hospital a nurse friend of mine, Resty, saw me in debilitating pain and said “you need to go to my Acupuncturist.” I never heard of it, but was willing to try anything. So I called Ping and went in for a treatment. She said “this is an emergency – if this ever happens again call me anytime of the day!” She put me on the table, put some points in my shoulders, neck, and head, covered me with blankets, put a heat lamp at my feet and let me sleep for two hours. When I woke, my migraine was GONE! I asked her “what is this and how do I learn it?!” She said “Acupuncture, go to China to learn it.”
I got my applications ready and was nearly enrolled into a great school in the city. Excited as I was, I kept coming up against doubts from the medical staff, so I succumb to the doubts and followed a path of security of allopathic medicine. I took three and a half years of pre-med, started applications for PA and med schools, and bought the books for the MCAT but I couldn’t go thru with it. It just didn’t feel right.
At the time I was a medical photographer and I loved my work. My patients stated they loved how I was with them. I would ask questions on their health and water intake and listen as they spoke about their feelings of being diagnosed. I felt more and more confident about being a practitioner. I knew I wanted to help people, but as amazing as the physicians were, conventional medicine didn’t seem holistic enough for me. I would spend an hour and a half with patients while some physicians would spend 10 minutes with them. They spoke about diagnosis while we spoke about life and their fears and getting back to health. Patients broke down every week in my room, and I knew there was much more to health than a prescription or surgery. I talked to so many physicians, medical students, osteopaths, naturopaths, and others trying to find my way. I had an amazing GP who walked me through all of my fears of working with patients, the responsibilities, and educational doubts I had. Her words helped me immensely: “Anyone can learn medicine from a book, but it is the bedside manner that is going to help your patients, and that Kim, you have abundantly.”
It was during a class at the Landmark Forum that the door finally opened. When I spoke about my desire to find my life/career path, my teacher asked what I wanted to do and out of my mouth came the words “I want to learn healing in Hawaii.” I was quite surprised at the words, as they seemed to come from way deep inside me but I had not thought of them. It felt right so I looked into Acupuncture schools in Hawaii, NY, and Boston. When I asked one of the Deans in NYC if he knew anything about schools in Hawaii, he said “there’s one, and it’s the real deal.” So I went to Hawaii to have a look for myself. I stood in front of the huge red wooden door at World Medicine Institute (Tai Hsuan Foundation), felt the power within, and sobbed knowing I was at the right place. It was a tiny one-room school founded by Chinese Daoist Master, Dr Lillian Chang. Inside it I found my shihfu, life teachers, and tribal family all packed into one. So I packed up my life in NY and moved. I will not say it wasn’t hard. I left everything I knew: amazing friends and family, a job I loved that would pay for my education, an apartment I loved across from both the park and subway!, amazing red couches, my cat Madison, restaurants music shows galore, and the comfort of life in my favorite city in the entire world.
Looking back I could not be happier with my choice, it is more amazing than I ever imagined it to be. I compare Hawaii to LOST (the TV show): it is absolutely beautiful and equally challenging as it puts every single life lesson in your face in an amazingly short time. It is an environment for intimate learning of profound greatness. I took initiative to change, but more importantly, I learned to trust in myself and the world, finally knowing that it will take care of me instead of me trying to plan everything. That is the biggest lesson I learned: to go with the flow. It is like riding a wave on a surf board – you paddle out and then you catch the wave/the wave catches you. You cannot look back and fear the wave you’re riding, you just have to go with it until it stops and smile while flying on water.
I take my experiences into practice with my patients. First and foremost, it is about caring for them and getting to know them. Underlying emotions lead directly to the decisions we make that form the state of our health and immune system, illness, and disease. I work with patients on their health through conversation, education, clearing of emotions, personalized nutrition and lifestyle education, Qi Gong and chakra energy work, Acupuncture, Herbal medicine, Bach Flower Essences, essential oils, Tibetan singing bowls, and whatever comes along my way. My patients are my teachers and each one has their own journey to their path.
I have success working with clients dealing with: coughs, colds, allergies, asthma, bronchitis, insomnia, anxiety, stress, depression, grief, heartbreak, emotional blocks, acute and chronic pain, arthritis, tennis elbow, shoulder pain, tendonitis, stiff neck, back pain, hip pain, knee pain, jaw pain, tooth pain, headaches, PMS, dysmenorrhea, cervical ripening (alternative to induction), acid reflux, pre- and post-natal care, sciatica, Bell’s palsy, sprains, breaks, fractures, and radiation toxicity and chemotherapy side effects amongst others. My clients range from 3 days to 95, male and female and anywhere in between, first-timers and lifers to this medicine.
I love this medicine, I love acupuncture, I love educating people about Chinese medicine, I love working with my patients, and I love giving them hope and being their ally on the journey. This medicine is greater than anything I’ve ever known. I have used it to help heal my own aches and pains, both physical and emotional, as well as help others make profound changes that so completely move me.
There is a lifetime of growing within this field, and I thank you for taking time to work with and teach me. I wish you the best in health, wealth, and happiness. I open my heart to working with you.
I currently live in NY with my sweet three year old son, Oliver, and practice in NY (and Portland, Oregon sometimes) if you need anything.
With Love, ~Kim