So How Did You Get Into This?

I often get asked what led me to becoming an acupuncturist. I’ll tell you a little story.

Picture it: Atlanta, winter, 1996 (must say in Sophia Petrillo’s voice). I was getting ready to go on a ski trip with my boyfriend’s (now husband’s) family and I wanted a new book to read. I stopped by Barnes ‘N Noble to check out the bargain books and found one on sale that had a pretty cover (sometimes you can judge a book this way) called In the House of the Moon: Reclaiming the Feminine Spirit of Healing by Jason Elias. Now, I was not at all into healing or that “woo woo” divine feminine stuff, but it looked interesting so I got it.

I did not ski on this trip, because back then my asthma was a mess and cold air and movement was not a good combo for me. So I sat in the condo most of the time and read or drew or napped. Anyway, I read this new book pretty quickly and was really drawn to what it said. It talked about healing but also about this crazy thing called acupuncture. There were some case studies and one was of a woman that sounded so much like me, suffering from asthma and allergies. I decided that once I returned to college after winter break in Baltimore, MD I would explore this idea. After all, what did I have to lose; at this point I was pretty miserable and taking a lot of medication.

When I got back to school I looked up “Acupuncturists” in the Yellow Pages (an ancient directory where you had to let your fingers do the walking to find phone numbers) and was amazed at the long list. I did not know that Maryland has a few schools and therefore many practitioners. Since I did not have a car, I literally found the closest practice to my dorm and left them a message. A few days later my boyfriend (who had a car!) came to visit. Since I had not heard back from this office, I asked him to drive me over there so that I could try and make an appointment. It was a practice of 4 or 5 acupuncturists and I just wanted to see one. Well, when I got there, this very kind woman opened the door. She was the only one there and in the middle of seeing someone, but she offered to take a few minutes and chat with me. I blurted out all my problems and that I really wanted to try acupuncture but I was a poor college student so money was an issue and could she please help me. She smiled and told me not to worry about the money, that we would work it out, and scheduled me a session for the next week. That woman was Jean Kneebone, acupuncturist extraordinaire.

I had no idea that were many styles of acupuncture, so it was unbeknownst to me that Jean practiced a unique type called Five Element Acupuncture. I went in for my first session and she talked to me for a long time. Like really talked. She wanted to know about me, not just my symptoms. I remember her asking me about my favorite colors and seasons. I really felt heard. She did the first treatment and I remember that I was so weak at one point thought I might pass out (AE for you 5E’ers). I was there for what felt like a really long time. I left that session with a feeling of hope, something I had not felt for myself in a really long time.

I began seeing Jean as often as I could and she let me pay whatever I was able. The changes were amazing. I did not need my inhaler as much. I was sleeping better. I felt stronger, and most importantly I was not feeling as depressed. She was the first person to educate me on how different foods affect my body and helped get me off the mandatory school meal plan so that I could cook for myself. I have no words other than she really did change my life.

I ended up leaving that college, moving back to Georgia and then to North Carolina. I kept in touch with her and tried to keep up with regular acupuncture but it was tough. I saw many other acupuncturists in the following years but none really “got” me like Jean did. And although it always helped my physical issues, I felt like something was missing (the elements!). I never shook the feeling though, that perhaps I was supposed to go to acupuncture school. But you know, life and following your dreams is not always easy.

Long story short, it was not until 2006-nearly twenty, yes TWENTY years after that first acupuncture session, that I started acupuncture school. I knew I wanted to study the Five Element tradition and chose the Academy for Five Element Acupuncture in Florida, mainly because I did not have to move there until my third year (because Florida). I am now in my tenth year of practice.

Acupuncture and learning about the five elements has completely changed my life. It really has! I love what I do. And I am grateful everyday for that bargain book and Jean Kneebone (speaking of, I should really call her).