“Do not anxiously hope for what is yet to come; do not vainly regret what is already past.” – Chinese Proverb
By Susan Tretakis – It’s the last week of December. Once again, as I have done since I was able to write, I am taking to my keyboard because journaling is what I do. I journal the sad times, the happy times, the inexplicable times. I journal the thankful times, the bitter times, the grief stricken times, the times of incredible joy and the times of blessings. I journal what I know and I journal about that which I wonder. While I have moved from pen and paper to the technology of today, I still believe in the power of words. I may type them through a veil of tears or through laughter and smiles, but I write them, every single day.
I am not one for wild New Years’ parties. As many of you know, I skipped so many grades that I was never “of age” to party with the “big kids” – even if they were in my classes. Once I earned my Masters in Psychology, I spent the holidays covering calls of other doctors so that they could be free to be with their families. I believed – and still believe – it was minor Karmic debt for people who educated me, believed in me and employed me.
Even today – much older and a bit wiser – I will always volunteer to cover for someone who just needs a “break”, be it a professional, a care giver, or an elderly couple without children who are struggling through these last three months. I have managed to change what I thought was a negative – parents deceased, a husband divorced and no children – into a positive. Having no personal responsibilities frees me to help those who I can, when I can. Nothing halts an inner “pity party” in its’ track faster than giving back to others.
New Years’ for me is a time for introspection. It’s a quiet time; a period when I can review, revisit, hope and reinforce my core beliefs. It’s a time when I clear out the closet in my mind to leave room for a New Year’s worth of learning. Other than for the weekly centering provided by my acupuncture sessions and my daily intake of herbs, I did not think that Traditional Chinese Medicine would offer me much during this very personal, reflective time.
How wrong I was.
TCM World writes: “Just when you think you have life figured out, shifts happen and the unexpected presents opportunities. The unexpected can be magical—opening doors to the stem.”
The same article continues, “The unusual part is how and where this flower revealed itself. Normally, the orchid produces a new stem from which new blooms form. But this time, the flower bloomed near the tip of the original stem, on newly formed leaves. Its color turned a deep purple, and it formed five pointed tips. Somehow its original color and shape transformed. Could it have been from grafting?
Maybe the information inherent in the plant was somehow stimulated. Or could it be that it was simply time for this lovely plant to transform and show its beauty?”
Whatever the reason, it’s a sign teaching us to look within. One of my most favorite quotes is from one of Eckhart Tolle’s books, “If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place”. There is a similar Chinese proverb: “He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.”
2017 has taught me many things. The first is the importance of real food. Food without preservatives and foods processed without poison. TCM has taught me which foods to eliminate and to consciously buy what is only needed for a few days’ time. Seriously, is there anything worse than throwing out dead food two weeks after purchase? The reality is that as you move to foods with no preservatives, foods grow fuzz within a week’s time. Because I must plan to eat what I buy, 2017 taught me to plan my meals and to rotate my meals.
2017 has taught me that my Chinese herbs are food; they nourish both my mind and body. TCM nutritional advice has changed what I eat, when I eat and how I eat. Sitting here right now, 90 pounds lighter than I was before I began acupuncture and my TCM journey, I am both grateful and thankful that I got the message. My hair is thicker and my nails are stronger. My aches and pains are less and I still have my original knees. While all of this is a “win” for me – I know it is truly a win for my TCM doctor who carefully tweaked my herbs week by week.
In 2017, TCM introduced me to homeopathy. Homeopathic remedies which took the place of prescribed anti-inflammatories, sleep aids, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs. Remedies which are non-habit forming, all natural and all no side effects. Yes, it took time to complete the “mindset switch” from Western to homeopathic remedies – but I did manage to get through nine months of “Dental Hell” without Vicodin, Percocet or Xanax. Traumeel, Acconite, Hypericum and Ignatia carried the days- and relieved the pain and discomfort. For that, I am grateful.
I do not consider myself a stupid person; I am trained as a scientist and expected to question. As an educator I implore my students to question everything – but I did not follow my advice. It took 2017 – and my TCM teachings – to allow me to say “no” to flu shots, to demand a minimum quality of care and be able to –as my TCM doctor once said – fire the primary care physician who dismissed my complaints as simply being part of “old age.”
TCM taught me the difference between being in a “disease driven” system and an individual in a “health driven” system.
TCM taught me to care for myself.
Google tells us that “Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) originated in ancient China and has evolved over thousands of years. TCM practitioners use herbal medicines and various mind and body practices, such as acupuncture and tai chi to treat or prevent health problems.”
More importantly, I believe that TCM teaches us that people need to be restored, renewed and revived.
The Chinese New Year is not until February this year – but for right now there is this: from the Chicago Acupuncture Newsletter:
- Edit Your Surroundings – Look carefully at your surroundings (places that matter to you) examine every corner and rid yourself of old ghosts, outdated clothes and ideas. Make room for good luck.
- Spend Time with People Who Matter to You – Make time to be with those close to you, the people in your life who nourish you, make you laugh and appreciate you. It’s a lovely way to begin the year.
- Let Go – Just like you clean your house, clean your mind of old grudges. Carrying hurt into the New Year benefits no one and prevents other things from happening.
Best Wishes for 2018!