No, I cannot fix you (because I don’t believe you’re broken.)

by Mary Beth Huwe
Sometimes things can feel really hard.

In my lines of work, that can show up for clients as knee pains or relationship pains or marketing pains.

Regardless of the details of the situations, the crux is the same. Things feel really, really hard. Insurmountably hard.

It happens less now, because I’ve been so clear about this with people, but at one time it was not uncommon for an acupuncture client to lie down and say, “I just want you to fix me.”

My response is an unequivocal “No. I cannot fix you.”

This often surprises – and sometimes even angers – people. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’m serious.

No. I am not a fixer of people.

There are two reasons for that.

The first is that I don’t want that relationship with you.

It interests me exactly 0% to be in a position of authority like that over a person.

Some people crave an “expert” to tell them what to do, how to feel, what to think, how to approach life. And some “experts” crave people to tell what to do, how to feel, what to think, how to approach life.

These people are made for each other, and I hope they’ll be very happy together.

They are not me. They are not my clients. I am not a fixer. I am a collaborator.

I crave people with “expertise” in a field or technique – with agility and curiosity and imagination and some experience – but who do not consider themselves to be so “expert” that they have The Formula.

“The Formula” is cringe-worthy material. It is narrow. It is restrictive, and unencompassing.

“A formula,” now that’ll preach. “A” has lots more flexibility and scope than “the.”

When I work with clients – whether with acupuncture or writing – I serve people who are aware of their own inner authority. Who do not fear to know themselves – or if they do sometimes fear it, who face that fear. It doesn’t have to be flawless. But it does require persistence.

My clients want my opinion – of course, or they wouldn’t work with me – but they recognize it as my opinion. Not as the ultimate guiding authority.

As an acupuncturist, yes, I am the one with the needle “expertise.” But I am not the expert of your body. You are.

As a writer, yes, I am the one with the messaging and composition “expertise.” But I am not the expert over your core messages and values. You are.

There’s a second reason I cannot fix you.

I don’t believe you’re broken.

You might be in pain, limited in a way that frustrates you, angry, giving up, heartsick, grieving, confused, depressed, exhausted, bankrupt, disempowered, afraid, and/or overwhelmed, but I will not treat you as if you are broken.

Systems can be broken; things can be broken.

But in my understanding, it’s a mistake to treat people that way.

People always have a chance at redemption and self-connection – whether the pain points are in the knees or the apostrophes.
 

I’m Mary Beth Huwe (pronounced Huey. Obviously.) I offer writing and branding services for business and life.
The “business” part is content strategy for entrepreneurs. It’s intentional content marketing made fun, invigorating, and designed specifically for the solopreneur and small business owner.
The “life” part is Writes of Passage. It is about crafting ceremonies that honor life’s big shifts – weddings, births, deaths, and other transitions.
These essays are forays into the art and essence of communication. They have not been subjected to the full scrutiny of my editor’s eye(s), and may contain typos. (But you’ll probably never find apostrophe abuse, because that’s just cruel.)

Curiouser and curiouser: my battered brain and the looking glass

by Mary Beth Huwe

We retained consciousness while the car toppled around, flipping over itself before finally coming to rest in the median of the divided highway.

I know I didn’t black out because I heard the others – my husband and my baby – screaming, and I heard the thumps and thuds and cracking of the car. I heard my own grunts as we rolled. And probably, now that I think about it, as I hit my head.

From impact to rest felt like forever – a very busy, noisy, disorienting, overstimulating forever. It was like being shaken up in a tunnel of noise and metal.

As the car jerked and flipped I remember thinking, “This is still happening,” but really having no idea what “this” was.


I read somewhere recently that it’s not necessary to lie in a dark room following a concussion, and it may even be harmful. I don’t really know who this advice is intended for, but not me.

In Chinese medicine – a term I don’t love, but let’s just tolerate it until I find something better – we refer to the brain as one of the “curious organs.” And how.

Lying in bed in the dark things got mighty curious.

After surviving a trauma of that magnitude with very little gross injury to contend with, I got to experience the weirdness of my brain scramble. As I lay there with my eyes closed, I saw lots of shapes and colors -and they were always moving. It was kind of like a laser show. On acid. I’ve never dropped acid, so I don’t know if that’s an accurate comparison… but I definitely imagine that it was like being on acid.

It was very much like this:

nasa-89127

Uncannily, weirdly, creepily like this. This is a picture of space from NASA, and similar landscapes were flowing around before my closed eyes.

There were lots of shapes that made me wonder if I was looking in a microscope at an atom or maybe, actually, at the sun. I couldn’t tell if things were huge or minuscule. Before I could fix my mind’s eye on them, they changed into other things.

They looked a lot like this, only moving:

nasa-89125

(Another NASA pic. From unsplash.com)

In addition to being a “curious organ” in acupuncture theory, the brain is referred to as “the sea of marrow.” The idea here being that the same mysterious, dense, squishy, life-generating stuff that lives in your bones also pools in your headbone, where it mixes with consciousness and makes myriad things happen.

It’s the source of action, thought, memory, sensory processing, and all the roles that biomedicine would apply to it… plus a few more.

And it sure felt like a sea in those early days following the hit, and still kinda does. Sometimes gentle, sometimes rushing, always moving.

Lying there in the dark, looking at planets or atoms or suns or angels or trees or snowy scenes or rock giants, I remember thinking of a friend’s young daughter – only 9 or 10 or so – who had gone through a rough couple of months post-concussion.

Good lord, I thought, this would be pretty scary if I didn’t have the context of understanding that I do. 

Even with that understanding, the rocky sea of marrow got freaky a couple of times.

But on the whole, I could simply observe. And just watch the show. Pretty amazing view:

nasa-45072

Wishing all y’all well,

MBH Signature

These writings are an exploration of what it means to be human – to be sick, to be well, and to heal – viewed through the lens of acupuncture and, occasionally, herbal medicine.

My words aren’t medical advice. And they aren’t meant to be the final word on… well, anything. Rather, I hope they are a beginning of a conversation you have with someone in your life. Thanks for reading!

Brain-changer. (That time a tractor-trailer changed my life, but didn’t end it.)

by Mary Beth Huwe

I haven’t posted in a looooong time. Maybe you’ve noticed.

A few days before Christmas, I had just finished up giving the first acupuncture treatments I’d performed since my baby’s birth. He was five months old.

We were in the car. My husband was in the passenger seat, the baby was clipped into his car seat, and I was driving,

An 18-wheeler hit us from behind at 55 mph. The experience was harrowing. Three months later I can still hear the sounds.

img_3016

The remnants of our car. Yikes.

And we all survived, Miraculous. (Thank you, Subaru. Thank you, divine stunt-driving presence that awoke in me.)

No broken bones. No punctured organs. No brain bleed. No Brian bleed. No baby bleed.

But I hit my head. Hard. And it has changed me. Lots.

So I’m learning now to navigate this new landscape, and I hope you’ll join me for the next stages.

I think they’ll be somewhat thrilling, so buckle up. (It’s a good practice in general.)

Wishing y’all well,

MBH Signature

These writings are an exploration of what it means to be human – to be sick, to be well, and to heal – viewed through the lenses of Daoism, acupuncture and, occasionally, herbal medicine.

My words aren’t medical advice. And they aren’t meant to be the final word on… well, anything. Rather, I hope they are a beginning of a conversation you have with someone in your life.

Gratitude = the New Guilt… But You Don’t Have to Buy It.

by Mary Beth Huwe

It’s November… and you know the Script, right? It’s all about the gratitude.

It’s the time of year I am supposed to effuse about the WONDERFUL things in my life, and how #grateful and #blessed I am. (With a parenthetical, often unvoiced hope that this process will attract more wonderful things into my life, and shove the crappy stuff out of the picture.)

To not talk (and post) about gratitude would be, you know, ungrateful.

It would be negative.

And privileged.

And generally obnoxious.

As an acupuncturist and a writer, my assumed part in this narrative is to describe what’s naturally happening in the fall, and how we can experience and cultivate gratitude. To wax philosophical about acknowledging what’s precious and valuable to us, and letting go of what serves us no longer.

In deference to the Script, I’ll suggest that we let go of the Script. I don’t think it’s serving us.

The Pressure of the “Attitude of Gratitude.”

Here’s what I’m noticing, both in the clinic and in the world: somehow gratitude has become the new guilt.

huwe acupuncture gratitude-the-new-guilt

 

 

#Gratitude has acquired a hashtag. People are worrying if they’re #gratituding enough, if they’re doing it right.

When something crappy happens, they wonder if they’ve attracted it through a lack of gratitude. With their karma. Maybe because they don’t hold a state of mental purity, of eternal gratitude. And what about their chakras? Probably they’re filthy. Or is that the aura? Crap.

#Gratitude has become a weapon to beat ourselves up with – to prod us to some sort of finish line of personal growth. It covers up a few nagging fears.

While it may not be conscious, I think the train of thought driving this Gratitude Self-Abuse is that we believe we don’t deserve our own happiness. We believe we don’t deserve our #blessings. We must prove – to ourselves and to each other – that through our unyielding, relentless application of gratitude, we have earned the beauty of life.

Most major religions would object to that part that says we must earn the beauty of life. 

Earning the beauty of life isn’t our job; honoring it is.
But #Gratituding has an agenda:

  1. Make the Crappy Stuff Go Away.
  2. Earn the Beautiful Stuff.

It is denial. It’s denial hyped up on an energy drink after 5 hours of sleep for a week straight. It’s intense, in other words. It’s trying to force a feeling of gratitude where there isn’t one. It fails to honor. It fails to pause and notice.

Honoring Beauty → Spontaneous Gratitude

Honoring beauty is the simple action that leads to gratitude.  I’d say it basically means “notice with respect and humility.”

When we notice the beauty in our lives without pausing to quiz ourselves about whether or not we deserve it (or justifying why we do deserve it,) we naturally feel grateful.

Then actual gratitude just… arises. Spontaneously. Like magic! It’s not a thing we have to apply to our lives or do to ourselves.

It can be really, really simple to honor beauty and feel gratitude. 

You don’t need any supplies, but if you like them – go for it. An altar, a journal, a photo… whatever works for you. All that’s actually required is an openness of the senses. 

Or even just one of the senses.

Here’s an example, using the sense of sight:

  • Notice the beauty in small, quotidian things.
    • I see an intricate bird’s nest outside my window.

Bam. That’s all you need to do with your outward senses. Now the rest of it becomes internal:

  • Feel the feelings that arise when you notice small, quotidian things.
    • What a peaceful feeling that bird’s nest gives me.
    • I love seeing life that’s outside of my own life.
    • I’m in awe of that tiny bird’s craftsmanship.

And that’s all you need to do on the inside. Just allow the feelings to arise, and feel them. If you want to, you can then:

  • Notice how those feelings can create more of the same feelings.
      • Wow… I can just *think* about that bird’s nest and feel peaceful. I only need to see it in my mind’s eye, and I can benefit from it.

    Now I’m noticing similarly beautiful things – like that spider’s web. Or the ripple of the new butter in the tub.

Honoring beauty can take practice, and so it deserves your patience and self-kindness. Which is, I think, the actual point of any practice.

Wishing y’all well,

MB

PS – What About the Bad Feelings?

If we allow ourselves to feel the bad feelings, won’t we just attract more bad feelings?

Denying the “bad feelings” will never make them go away. Denial doesn’t allow things to change, because it keeps stuffing them down. And so they keep popping back up. If there’s an endless loop of nasty chatter in your mind, you can rest assured that denial is in there somewhere.

I think it’s true that wallowing in bad feelings can create more bad feelings, but that’s not the same as feeling your feelings. You know the saying, “You have to feel it to heal it?” Feeling something is the first part of being able to let it go. There are lots of safe ways and modalities to help a person do that without self-injury.

XO,
MBH

These writings are an exploration of what it means to be human – to be sick, to be well, and to heal – viewed through the lens of acupuncture and, occasionally, herbal medicine.

My words aren’t medical advice. And they aren’t meant to be the final word on… well, anything. Rather, I hope they are a beginning of a conversation you have with someone in your life. Thanks for reading!

Making Room for Something New: Getting Rid of Blame & Clutter

by Mary Beth Huwe

For a recording of me reading this post to you, click here.

One of the reasons I’m an acupuncturist is because I’m interested in what ails us as a people. Bodies are excellent at showing us what’s not working for us on cultural and social levels. They are clear reflections of things in our lives we’d otherwise ignore.

Though I don’t love the term mind-body connection, I haven’t come up with something I like better… so I’m going to use it in this case. Some people are dismissive of the mind-body connection, using it as a way to minimize or invalidate symptoms and conditions as psychosomatic or stress-related.

Well, I get migraines – but that’s just from stress.

My high blood pressure goes down when school’s not in session, so I know it’s just because of that.

It’s worry that gives me insomnia; it’s always worse when my kids are at their dad’s house for the weekend. He’s so unreliable.

Many people are quite ready to connect illnesses like headaches, sleep conditions, and mood disorders with environmental causes – and somehow in the process write them off as all in the mind, psychosomatic, or otherwise not real.


Tell me one last thing, said Harry. Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?

Dumbledore beamed at him…

Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?


 

When “Mind-Body” Becomes Blame
A frequent consequence of the “psychosomatic” dismissal in medicine is blame – by the patient, by his/her family, and even by the medical practitioner (regardless of his or her chosen modality of medicine.)

It looks something like this:

Susan wouldn’t get migraines if she weren’t so sensitive.

I just need to quit caring so much; then my blood pressure will go down.

Carole, stop being such a worrywart and take a sleeping pill.

Do we do that with other diseases – ones that have visible “causes?”

(1) Do we say things like:

Well, Phil’s heart attack was just from stress.

Maybe, but we’ll probably also throw in some comments about blocked arteries, diet, HDL, and impeded bloodflow.

(2) What about this:

Matt’s such a hypersensitive guy – that poison ivy spread because it’s all in his head.

Probably not… but if Matt had hives, it might be a different story.

(3) Or this one:

Cancer? Again? Really? Why doesn’t Daphne get a grip?

It may be easier to see in cases like heart attacks, communicable diseases, and cancer – but it’s true across the board: there’s no place for blame in a healthy medicine.

I take this to what some might call a radical extreme: I do not blame the smoker for lung cancer or the alcoholic for cirrhosis. The drive to engage in such destructive habits is part of the illness. Or maybe the guy with heart disease who won’t lay off the onion rings and KFC chooses it, knowing the risk. I think that’s his right.

Regardless, blame does nothing to relieve the burden of acute illness or the suffering.


Our entire experience as people is a psychosomatic one.

Every disease is reflective of and related to our lives.

And not one disease is blameworthy.


 

We Are in Relationship with Our Environments
In terms of health (and most other things,) it really makes zero sense to attempt to extract an individual from his/her environment in order to understand “the problem.” It may not make all people comfortable, but there is no question that we are all in relationship with our environments. The question is, is that relationship healthy or detrimental?

Illness is always a stress response that causes harm. The “healthiest” humans on the planet are those who can train their stress responses to become helpful to the whole system, and who can ultimately override the stressful conditions themselves.

Here’s a fun little report from Harvard in 2002 about Tibetan monks raising their body temperatures through meditation.

Now ask yourself – does this seem more credible now that I’ve cited Harvard research and Tibetan monks by providing a link to an article on the Internet?

Why? Why do we need Harvard and Tibetan monks to legitimize our “mind-body” connection?

What disconnect has happened to make us crave sound-bytes of double-blind placebo research, instead of actual investigation?

How have we become so defrauded, alienated, and disinherited that we seek external authority to sanction our internal authority?

That Relationship Includes Stuff
Understanding that our environments and habits are directly related to our states of health means taking stock of what we fill our environments with.

I was reminded of this over the weekend as I cleaned out my (tiny) closets to make room for the new addition to the family. I came across some nice shoes and found myself thinking I *should* either keep or sell them –  instead of giving them to our local clothing closet. I could probably get $50 for these, I thought. That would be handy. So I guess I should do that.

My instinct, though, is to give them to the clothing closet. I’m a big believer in wide-open generosity for lots of reasons. One of which is that it’s a natural combatant to avarice, and it opens up a greater vision of how things can fit together. It’s Mary Poppins v. Mr. Banks.

Truth be told, I’m not happy with *lots* of stuff. I’d rather get a high-quality, beautiful thing I love, use the hell out of it till I’m done, give it to someone who likes/needs it, and then move on. For me, keeping stuff keeps me feeling bound.

Is this just an excuse, I’ve wondered? Am I actually hiding? Is my aversion to accumulation really a shield that “protects” me from having?

 

wonder woman dflct

Deflection is tricky business.

And the answer is no.

The reason I don’t like having a bunch of stuff is because it weighs me down.

It’s clear, of course, that “a bunch of stuff” is a subjective term. Determining what qualifies as “a bunch of stuff” is like looking at my index finger and trying to figure out if it’s a “big ” finger. Well… yeah… when compared to my pinky. And… no… when compared to my ring finger.

The actual question, I think, is more along the lines of “is my index finger a big enough finger in this case?”

If the case in question is app selection on my iPad, yes. If the case in question is picking a gorilla’s nose… maybe not. They have large nostrils.

gorilla

Might need some backup on this one.

So, too, with stuff. The actual question is, “How is this level of stuff affecting me?”

For example, I realize I have a “bunch of stuff” when I start having neurotic internal conversations about what I *should* be doing with it. That’s my indication that fearful lack is running the show. The *should* is the tagline of the fearful belief that I won’t be able to get what I need in the future, so I’d better hold on to everything that’s in my sphere now… JUST IN CASE.

In reality, the only thing I *should* be doing is living my daggum life, and spreading the wealth and love in the ways that I can.

I don’t want two pairs of running shoes; I don’t run. So I’m done talking with my shoes. I’m sending them to the clothing closet. I’ve seen the people in my town who need them, and they ain’t me.

Getting those shoes out of the way and to their rightful owners is a way of clearing my own clutter and making space. Maybe that space stay cleared, maybe it will be filled with something new. I don’t have to know the outcome. But I do have to be smart enough to know that I can’t keep inhaling if I’m still holding onto my most recent breath.

……..

These writings are an exploration of what it means to be human – to be sick, to be well, and to heal – viewed through the lens of acupuncture and, occasionally, herbal medicine.

My words aren’t medical advice. And they aren’t meant to be the final word on… well, anything. Rather, I hope they are a beginning of a conversation you have with someone in your life. Thanks for reading!

Acupuncture and the Sequelae of (My) Miscarriage

by Mary Beth Huwe

For a recording of me reading this post to you, click here.

Few acts, I think, are more healing than the overcoming of stigma. Many are the ways we label something as “bad” or “shameful” or “taboo” –explicitly with hate and loudness, or quietly with pinched-down mouths and subtle shunning.

Speaking out about stigmatized experiences and normalizing them is liberating for the human mind. It galvanizes our capacity for connection; it creates the platform for evolution. Witnessing the dropping of stigma is a great joy, and a testament to our own powers of consciousness and self-determination.

As an acupuncturist, I witness it in the individual. As a writer, I witness it in society. As a woman, I have the opportunity to witness it in myself.

One of the silences I have noticed being routinely rejected in recent years is the one surrounding miscarriage. What was once held closed and quiet is now being talked about more openly. There are articles about miscarriage here and there, and more and more people make social media announcements about it.

broken egg

READ MORE…

The Case of the Lost Essay (What NOT To Do When Disappointment Strikes!)

by Mary Beth Huwe

Click here to listen to me read this post to you.

This morning I experienced the kind of computer blip that I thought never happened to anyone anymore.

Last week I wrote – and labored over – and twiddled around with – and tweaked – and thought A LOT about – and edited – and changed the name of – and rearranged – an essay about communication and buzzwords.

After several days of this process, I had the essay in (what I consider to be) publishable format. I scheduled it to be published yesterday. And it was. Sort of.

The title of the post was published. And so were the categories and tags. But the TEXT – the part that I labored over, twiddled around with, tweaked, thought about, edited, and rearranged – had disappeared.

READ MORE…