More about Fractals: a Love Letter

OK, comrades, I think I’ve written plenty about the hate mail that WCA has received. I’ve said less about all the sweet notes we get when people send us their business cards for the WCA map. There are lots of those, some short, some longer, and we appreciate them all. Over the weekend I opened the mail and found one that will forever wipe out all memory of every unkind thing anyone has ever said about us. Well OK, maybe I’ll remember, but I’m not going to care. One letter like this, and all the bad stuff just doesn’t count.

I’m copying it here because 1) it relates to some other things we’ve been talking about, like fractals, and 2) I had to either do something with it or crawl under a rock and die from embarrassment. The rock looked tempting for a while, but blogging won out.

Dearest Lisa and Skip,

I hope this letter finds you both happy & healthy! This letter has been on my daily must do list since I first read the “Acupuncture Is Like Noodles”  book in January of 2011. I have put it off because I wanted it to be perfectly written but today I realized it was more important for you both to understand how grateful I am for all of the work you have done for our profession and our lives. I just got the keys to my clinic that will be opening in November. I am so aware that you both are responsible for that happening much more than I am. My hope and excitement are fruits of your ingenuity, guts, blood, sweat and tears. I want you to know that I appreciate you paving the way and I literally thank you every single day. You have made the world such a better place for so many people. You should be so very, unbelievably proud of yourselves. You have made me a better person, much more aware of who I am, what kind of person I want to be, and what I really appreciate in this life. The clinic name is Black Sheep Community Acupuncture. I hope you don’t mind that it is named after you.

“Whenever people march to their own tune or think outside the “flock,” they are often described as “black sheep.” We believe that this is a great quality to have! People who are able to try new things, experiment, and be unconventional are the driving force behind invention, art, and progress. The community acupuncture movement is a perfect example. Community acupuncture clinics are considered the “black sheep” of the acupuncture profession because we dare to bring prices down to a level that most people can actually afford. We have been scolded and put down because we supposedly “devalue the profession.” The founders of the community acupuncture movement, Lisa Rohleder and Skip Van Meter, dared to think outside the flock and come up with a way to treat their community with acupuncture by changing the typically expensive one-on-one style of treatments. They figured out a way to charge less and see more patients by using a group setting and implementing an affordable sliding scale of $15-$35 per treatment. Thanks to Lisa and Skip’s willingness to be black sheep, they have enhanced the quality of lives of hundreds and thousands of patients, who were able to feel better through affordable acupuncture. They also enhanced the lives of practitioners like me, who are happy and grateful to follow their lead to help heal our communities in a sustainable way. Their innovation has swept the country and inspired other black sheep to open up community acupuncture clinics, too. So our name celebrates the courage it takes to be different, try new things, and think outside the flock.” (http://blacksheepacupuncture.com/aboutus.cfm)

Thank you for teaching without preaching, being yourselves, working hard, cussing, having great senses of humor, caring about the greater good, fixing everything I hated about our profession, using common sense, creating a community that I am proud to be a part of, being creative, not afraid of confrontation, not giving up, sharing all your knowledge, creating a co-op, building a school, writing in a voice that is extremely intelligent yet very real and every sacrifice you have made of your time and life. You are appreciated. You are loved.

With Undying Gratitude,

Valerie


So, the thing is, the last paragraph is how I feel about you, my comrades, and Valerie said it so perfectly I had to share it. Not all of you teach CA or write about it -- though a whole bunch of you do and have, in the forums and here on the blog and at POCAfests and workshops -- but the rest of that paragraph, that’s not just me and Skip, that’s US. That’s POCA: being yourselves, working hard, cussing, having great senses of humor, caring about the greater good, fixing everything I hated about our profession, using common sense, creating a community that I am proud to be a part of, being creative, not afraid of confrontation, not giving up, sharing all your knowledge, creating a co-op, building a school. (OK, not everybody cusses either, but Suzzanne makes up for everyone who doesn’t.) That’s the fractal in action.

Also, the first paragraph. The only part of this letter I would argue with is “I just got the keys to my clinic that will be opening in November. I am so aware that you both are responsible for that happening much more than I am.”  No, dear heart, you got the keys and signed the lease and did all the hundreds -- or thousands -- of tiny things it takes to make a clinic actually happen. No matter what we did to encourage you, that part was all you. Every part of the fractal is there because it made itself.

The thing that blows me away about what’s happened here, to us, to all of us who feel that community acupuncture has made us better people (and a lot of us feel that way) is that there wouldn’t be a movement at all unless an improbably large number of us took the leap and made it real through personal risk. Whether it’s the risk of starting a small business or working in one, we didn’t just *think* outside the flock. We didn’t just think about community acupuncture, we put our livelihood on the line to make it real. That’s amazing. Truly, what are the odds?
 
There are an awful lot of you out there, volunteers and employees and owners, welcoming patients and answering phones and putting needles in and taking them out and cleaning the clinic up afterwards. All those daily tasks make up our movement. Skip and I could’ve taught a bunch of workshops and even written a book or two, but if you all hadn’t followed it up with all of those daily actions in all of your communities, it just would’ve been another quirky little acupuncture thing, a couple of individual acupuncturists doing what acupuncturists do best, hyper-individuating and then talking about it. But instead, there are an awful lot of you who have thought -- and acted -- like a collective from day one.  And because there’s a collective now, it makes it easier and easier for new punks and new clinics to take the risk of making community acupuncture real.

So this lovely love letter is for POCA. Thank you, Valerie. Thank you, POCA. You have made the world such a better place for so many people. You should be so very, unbelievably proud of yourselves. You are appreciated. You are loved. Remember that.

This story was posted on October 22 2012 by Lisafer.

Comments

  • October 22 2012 at 11:25 PM
    melissa writes:

    *sniff* I needed to see this today! thanks for sharing it and, yeah, for all of us sharing all of it. and reminding us, always, that we are more than ourselves.
    looove the black sheep name. can’t wait to refer patients!

      3 likes
    • Nora
    • Nic
  • October 23 2012 at 12:03 AM
    OasisCA writes:

    Great letter, Valerie.
    The sentiments you expressed are the same as those held by many other CAists, including myself. Lisa is right about the 1st paragraph.
    I like your clinic name, too.

    David Villanueva

      3 likes
  • October 23 2012 at 6:14 AM
    PLB* writes:

    I’m sure this resonates with a lot a people - we really don’t know how we touch each others lives. A recent blog about the BDC workshop really got me thinking…something was mentioned about how much ‘interior space’ we have, and how_that_space was the key to the number of people we have the capacity to treat.  That one line not only struck a cord with me, but it sent a reverberation through the whole of my body which was hard to ignore. When I thought about it, I realized I didn’t have much Interior Space…I also realized that the -lack of- was severely compromising my ability to really move forward on a project I had committed to. So, one blog, one line and one book later…I’m working on creating the space I so desperately need. The experience has been/is…a bit like sorting out a jam packed closet, your not quite sure what’s in there and always amazed at some of the things you find. I’ve been surprised at how much stuff doesn’t actually belong to me, or had no business being there in the first place. It’s this stuff that’s creating a fair amount of separation anxiety, even though my logic tells me ‘it has no purpose or usefulness’ anymore…or ‘it’s not even your property to deal with’...hand it back…which is difficult to do. I’m not quite experiencing the euphoria that comes along with the decluttering process but I am feeling the benefit of that small amount space I’ve managed to open up. Sooo…I’m saying too much! I only got on for a quick browse whilst drinking my tea…my point_was_ who knows what we set in motion for others, I’m just grateful for the insights and contributions people make. Thank you.

      5 likes
  • October 23 2012 at 6:30 AM
    PLB* writes:

    p.s - grateful to be part of the fractal too. Speaking of contributions…don’t forget to donate to Pocatech smile Nearly missed that one…   

      2 likes
  • October 23 2012 at 11:35 AM
    Nic writes:

    “Whether it’s the risk of starting a small business or working in one, we didn’t just *think* outside the flock. We didn’t just think about community acupuncture, we put our livelihood on the line to make it real. That’s amazing. Truly, what are the odds?”

    So here I am reading this blog and just started crying after reading this.  The POCAverse is really something special—so many people willing to put themselves entirely in.

    Ad Astra is almost 2 years old now and we have 3 employees (including me!), a rowdy squad of POCA volunteers, and an ever-growing group of regulars who feel like the clinic is their 3rd space.  The risk is still there but so many people have stepped in to help shoulder it. 

    Sometimes it is so overwhelming to be a part of.  Ive never had a job were so many people depended on me to be present and authentic, were I was NOT just a replaceable cog, and were I have needed to cooperate on such a large scale.  It has been quite a process of sorting through my own BS in order to keep everything moving along. 

    Volunteering for POCA, visiting other clinics, and going to POCAfest (read: engaging with the mother fractal) has really helped our little isolated fractal hold its shape and has sped its growth.

    Thanks to Lisa, Valarie and all you other Black Sheep out there,
    Nick

      11 likes
  • October 23 2012 at 12:16 PM
    PLB* writes:

    *chord*

      1 likes
  • October 23 2012 at 12:41 PM
    Spartacus writes:

    What a wonderful letter!  Can I just say how psyched we are to have Valerie in our Capital node? SO psyched!!! Love to you Valerie and all our fellow black sheep <3 smile

      4 likes
    • Meaghan
    • mitylene
    • Nora
    • ValerieKurek
  • October 23 2012 at 2:00 PM
    mitylene writes:

    I love love love POCA. I agree with Valerie so much. I can’t imagine life without my little CA clinic. I would be a much different person. Much more scared, much more narrow, much more needy, and much less grown up. POCA has really helped me develop so much as a person into my own being. <3

      4 likes
  • October 23 2012 at 7:25 PM
    Whitsitt writes:

    I really want a Black Sheep Community Acupuncture tshirt.

      8 likes

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