I never know how to respond to someone when they ask me, “What do you do?” When I tell them that I have three careers they look at me like I am crazy, especially now that I am a mom. I can never get away with just saying, “I am Chinese Medicine Doctor, a professional photographer, and blogger.” I always have to tell them my backstory.
What is my backstory exactly? How does a person manage to have three careers? Most people who follow My Beautiful Adventures know, but for those that do not, while I was studying Chinese Medicine I became addicted to traveling. I figured out how to explore the world and study simultaneously. After I graduated, I set up my first practice and unfortunately at the exact same moment that I opened my doors — the recession hit. Acupuncture was viewed as a luxury and not a necessity. While I waited for the phone to ring with the hopes of a new patient, I decided after much encouraging to start a blog, as my friends and family had been telling me for years that they loved my travel stories and photography. I began it with zero intentions and it never crossed my mind that it would turn into not just one, but two new careers. As my blog and social media channels grew in popularity, I started getting invitations to go on press trips and to work with global brands and magazines. I took any photography job that was offered and shot everything from weddings to fashion bloggers to food. Before I became a mom, I worked seven days a week. I never said no to my patients and/or clients. I refused to compromise in any way. I dared to dream big and my dreams came true!
Now that Joaquín is here, things have significantly changed. It was extremely difficult for me to let go of being a workaholic at first. For over a decade, I had pushed myself so hard to get where I was and I was scared to death of taking even just a small step backwards. However, at the end of the day, nothing brings me more happiness or joy than my son and not only does he need me right now, he deserves me right now. This means I am having to take a huge step back. I no longer work every day or say yes to everything that comes my way. I compromise all of the time and I have made peace with that. Nevertheless, my work will forever be a big part of my life and I am extremely proud of what I have accomplished thus far.
The following three part series is a look at the most defining moments in my careers. This first post focuses on my career as a Chinese Medicine Doctor:
Graduating From The Pacific College Of Oriental Medicine
Unless you are an Acupuncturist or know one personally, you simply have no idea how challenging studying Chinese Medicine is. It is a four year, year round, Graduate School. Since our patients speak the language of “Western Medicine,” we are required to learn everything that a Western Medicine Doctor would learn in Medical School. On top of that, we also have to know everything that a Chinese Medicine Doctor would learn in Medical School in China. The school that I chose is one of the best in the world and in order to keep their notoriety they make their program extra rigorous. Every four trimesters you are given an exam on the information you have learned up to that point. If you do not pass, you are kicked out of the program. Talk about major pressure! The good thing though is that if you make it to the end, you are almost guaranteed to be able to pass the dreaded national medical boards in order to get your licensing. Along with school (and traveling as previously mentioned), I took it upon myself to learn Chinese as well. I also studied in hospitals in both China and South Africa. There were so many moments during those four years that I felt like giving up, but I kept my eye on the prize and graduated with honors.
Opening Up My First Clinic
After graduation, I decided to open up my own Wellness Center. Beforehand, I traveled around Australia for a month, where I would spend every morning in a café writing my business plan, so that I could eventually submit it for a business loan. One day while browsing through a flea market, I came across these gorgeous wooden hands.
When I saw them I instantly knew that the perfect name for my clinic would be Healing Hands Acupuncture and Herbal Clinic. Did you know that only 30% of people who graduate from Chinese Medicine School actually end up practicing? I am proud to be amongst the successful one third that make it! Turns out Graduate School is easy compared to making your practice work. I have had three clinics after my first one and each taught me so much about myself, life, and business. If you would like to learn more about the evolution of Healing Hands, please read here. Currently, I am in my dream clinic and you can see more photos of it here. Next year will be my ninth year in practice.
The First Time I Helped A Woman Conceive
It is always interesting to me to see the unexpected directions life takes a person in. I had set out to specialize in pain management and auto-immune disorders. However, I helped a couple of my infertility patients get pregnant and the next thing I knew more than 50% of my practice was aimed at treating fertility issues. Helping women conceive has now become a great passion of mine and I will never forget the first time a patient told me through happy tears that she was pregnant and that if it was a girl she was going to name her Andrea. Talk about a humbling experience! Acupuncture works so well in treating infertility that most of the fertility clinics in my city refer their patients to me.
Getting Pregnant And My Practice Surviving
I kept telling all of my patients while I was pregnant that I was going to work until my water broke and that I would be back to treat them two weeks later. I laugh now thinking about how ridiculous I must have sounded! Unfortunately, my pregnancy did not go as planned and I was out of work for almost three months. You know what? Every single patient waited for me. Talk about loyalty!
I now work two full days a week in my clinic. I cannot always accommodate my patients, but they understand that. They love that I am a mom and they are always asking for updates on Joaquín. I would love to replace the word surviving with thriving, however that would not be the truth. I am past survival mode now, which feels amazing, but I am not quite at thriving just yet. I have no doubt I will get there at some point, although I always joke that it will be just in time for baby #2. . .