Gong Hei Fat Choi! In case you hadn't heard yet, this weekend marks the beginning of the year of the Yin Water Rabbit. People all around the world are gathering with family and celebrating the new year. There are so many amazing traditions that are practiced during this time. Depending on what culture you are most connected to you may have some slightly different rituals, but one thing that seems to cross all borders is sharing food!
I wanted to share with you one of my favorite recipes for the season, Tang Yuan also known as sticky rice balls or sweet rice balls. This dish is served to signify togetherness and is considered one of the lucky foods of the new year celebrations in South China. In other parts of Asia they are served during the Lantern Festival which takes place on February 5th. The version of this recipe I am sharing is one that I have been working on perfecting for a little bit and I think I really got the texture down. It only has 4 ingredients (plus water) and while rolling the balls has a bit of a learning curve, it's a lot of fun. I hope that you enjoy and that you will share with your family!
Black Sesame Seeds (hei zhi ma): These have 3 major functions in Chinese medicine. They nourish the liver and kidneys, nourish blood and moisten and lubricate the intestines and lungs. Black sesame seeds are also said to prevent premature graying of the hair.
Glutinous Rice Flour: Glutinous Rice Flour is made from a sweet rice and is a wonderful qi building tonic for the digestive system and the lungs. It also helps facilitate healing in the skin and helps to relieve excess sweating.
Black Sugar : Black sugar (aka Chinese Brown Sugar) is warming in nature and helps with boosting energy and circulation.
Butter : Butter is warming and nourishing to the yin. It also helps to disperse cold and regulate blood circulation.
And here's how you put it all together:
Cheers to the Year of the Yin Water Rabbit!
Laba CongeeRead Now
Today marks the 8th day of the 12th month of the lunar calendar. In East Asian cultures today is known as La Ba and it marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year Period. This is also widely considered the enlightenment day of the Buddha.
On this day it is tradition to eat a dish called Laba Congee aka Eight Treasures Congee (or porridge) for good luck. It is also a great day to bang some drums to drive away negative energy and disease.
For those of you not familiar with congee, it is a grain based porridge (usually rice based). Congee is one of those "universal" foods that is prescribed quite often in East Asian Medicine as it helps digestion and nourishes qi and blood. It is great for those with chronic illnesses as well as those with poor digestion or low energy. It is fantastic in the winter as it helps to warm and nourish the body.
Because this year's La Ba snuck up on me this year's version will not be as extravagant as some years past, but I think it tastes pretty great either way. Thank goodness I keep some of my favorite herbs (yes nuts, seeds and dried fruits are all considered herbs in East Asian Medicine) on hand for teas.
As for the Eight Treasures themselves, it really varies depending on the tradition you follow, so these days it is somewhat up to your tastes, preferences and what you have on hand. For this recipe you will want to choose 8 ingredients total for your congee split somewhat evenly between 4 categories: Grains, Beans, Nuts/Seeds and Fruit.
The base of congee is usually sweet rice, also known as glutinous rice. Don’t worry, there isn’t any gluten in that glutinous rice, it simply refers to the texture. Traditionally this porridge is made with the gluten containing ingredient of barley, but for the sake of my body my recipe is a little different as I have decided to eliminate it and add extra rice.
Here is a little (non exhaustive) list of some potential ingredients for each category:
Feel free to get creative on this! One of the reasons I like congee so much is because it is so versatile. For my congee I chose sweet rice, black rice, black eyed peas, red beans, lotus seeds, walnuts, longan and red dates. I love this combination, but please explore with your own blend!
As for cooking this congee, I like to use my instant pot, but you can also use a rice cooker with a porridge setting or even a pot on the stove just make sure you set aside some extra preparation time because you will want to make sure you have time to soak the grains for at least an hour and soak the beans for at least 4 hours (overnight is best).
So, without further ado, below is my recipe! Please enjoy and let me know if you have any questions and enjoy the kickoff to the Lunar New Year celebrations.
Longevity CookiesRead Now
Hey everyone! Sorry it has taken me so long to sit in front of the keyboard again and share a recipe with you. This year has been full of big challenges both personally and professionally (including receiving my doctorate in Chinese Medicine) so this project sort of took the back seat. I promise to update you more soon, but I wanted to try to make up for it by sharing some recipes that I made this year for my holiday potlucks featuring some ingredients you know and some Chinese Herbs you may not. Yes, these recipes are medicinal, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t tasty.
I wanted to start with the easiest one to make: Longevity Cookies
Now, these aren’t the prettiest cookies on the sheet, but they taste really good and have no gluten and no refined sugar in them. These little cookies go great with tea as an afternoon pick me up! Like my other East Asian recipes, all ingredients for this cookie are actually all part of the Chinese pharmacopeia. Additionally, all of them are powerful qi tonics and each has a purpose in the recipe. Most of these ingredients are easy to find at your local grocery store, with the exception of poria which you may need to venture to your local Asian market to procure. Then all you have to do is pulse most the ingredients in a food processor with water, top with goji berries (optional) and bake!
Black Sesame Seeds (hei zhi ma): These have 3 major functions in Chinese medicine. They nourish the liver and kidneys, nourish blood and moisten and lubricate the intestines and lungs. Black sesame seeds are also said to prevent premature graying of the hair.
Poria Mushroom (fu ling): This fungus is a wonderful tonic herb for strengthening the digestive system and soothing the nerves. It also aids in helping drain excess fluids from the body.
Fun fact about poria: There is an ancient Korean Legend about poria where a noblewoman fell in love with her servant, but before they could elope she fell ill. Her beloved searched the countryside for an herb to cure her, and in what is believed to be divine intervention came upon poria while hunting a rabbit. When this herb was made into a tea, she was rejuvenated!
Walnuts (hu tao ren): Like black sesame seeds, walnuts also help to nourish the kidneys and lubricate the intestines. In Chinese medicine walnuts are commonly used to relax the back, aid in digestion and support brain functions.
Sweet Rice Flour (nuo mi): Sweet rice is a wonderful qi building tonic for the digestive system and the lungs. It also helps facilitate healing in the skin and helps to relieve excess sweating.
Honey (feng mi): Honey is a moistening herb that is known to restore qi and prevent dryness in the body. It is also a fantastic immune system tonic.
Goji Berries (gou qi zi): Another great liver and kidney tonic, goji berries are a wonderful balancing herb that helps to invigorate the body and relieve fatigue. They can also help with eyesight.
Together these 6 herbs create a treat that will help support energy balance in the body while moistening the tissues. They are a great digestive aid as well as nourishing for skin and hair. Beyond the general tonifying nature of this recipe, these cookies can come in especially handy for those experiencing menopause.
I hope you enjoy these cookies! See the recipe card below:
See you Next Time,
Corn Puddin'Read Now
So a couple weeks ago I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I wanted some corn pudding. I had just had some dental work done and was trying to think of some soft foods that I might enjoy for a couple days afterwards. Corn pudding kept popping into my brain and sure enough I had all the ingredients in my kitchen already so it was on!
Are you a corn pudding fan? You may also know it by the names spoon bread or puddin(g) corn. I know it’s not for everyone, but it is definitely on my list of top 10 side dishes. If you’ve never had it, think about it like a soft cornbread. It originated in the Southern US and unless you have any corn sensitivities or allergies I highly recommend you give it a try.
There are a ton of versions out there and some are, of course, more delicious than others. Over the years I have developed a recipe I quite like and I thought I would share it with you! It is so easy and is ultimate comfort food territory. I love to make a big batch and serve it throughout the week. It is delicious hot or cold and works with a ton of other dishes. My favorite way to serve the leftovers is topped with eggs and sausage for breakfast! Yum!
As an aside: My version contains a little less sugar than most recipes I found so if you prefer it “traditionally” sweet you might want to add ¼-½ cup more sugar to the batch.
Also if you need a catchy tune to sing while you whip up a batch then look no further than the show Schmigadoon!
Ready to mix the corn in the puddin' now? Great!
Start by preheating your oven to 400° F, gather up your ingredients and let’s go!
Next, mix two cans of cream style corn with 1 ½ cup thawed frozen corn. I like the Roasted Corn from Trader Joe’s, but any brand or even fresh works too if you have access. Add in the eggs and set aside for a minute.
Then you will want to mix all your dry ingredients in a small bowl: Sugar, seasoning salt (I like Flavor God Everything Seasoning), garlic salt (Or Flavor God Garlic Lover’s), onion powder, dry mustard and of course, cornstarch.
Slowly add the dry ingredients into your corn mixture and mix well and then follow with milk and melted butter. And just like that it is ready for the oven!
If you don’t have a silicone pan like I am using, grease up a casserole dish of your choice. Then put it in that oven, uncovered for 30 minutes, stir and then return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
Serve while warm! It keeps for up to 4 days in the refrigerator (if it lasts that long.) Yummmm! It really is good for the soul!
Let me know what you think of my recipe and how you like to serve it in the comments below!
My Big Fat Gluten Free WeddingRead Now
Hey All! I know it has been awhile again, and I apologize for that. Life has been so hectic since moving to California. To top that off, if you haven’t heard already, Sam and I officially got married on May 21! Yay!!!
I wanted to talk to you a little bit about being both a COVID and a GF bride and show you what we chose for our meals!
The Guest List
As everything was organized while California was still under executive order, we were limited to 12 people for our event including staff. As you can imagine it was a nearly impossible task to cut our nearly 200 person guest list to 12 so we decided it would be immediate family only to avoid any hurt feelings.
We did broadcast it live online to the rest of our guests and sent out cute postcards to those who had originally received invitations before we postponed and created a Facebook page for those who were in a later invitation group.
The Rehearsal Dinner
Since it was just “us” we really didn’t have a rehearsal. The ceremony was so short and simple that there really wasn’t anything to rehearse. But that didn’t stop us from having a Rehearsal Dinner! The night before the wedding we drove up to Kenwood to listen to live music and have dinner outdoors at TIPS Roadside. It just so happened to be their “Steak House Night” and almost everything on the menu was available gluten free! How cool is that?
While there wasn’t any food at our ceremony since it was so short, no wedding blog post would be complete without at least mentioning the ceremony. We had a couple of lovely bottles of sparkling white wine from Gloria Ferrer. Naturally, our wedding venue made sure we were drinking their wine. Their wine is one of the reasons we chose to get married there, so that wasn’t a problem at all!
Our ceremony took place overlooking the vineyard and there wasn’t a dry eye to be found. I’m so glad I used my new setting spray as I only needed minimal touch ups after!
In true Melissa form, I changed the playlist at the last minute and Rick Rolled everyone for the recessional including my new husband. I found it quite funny and from the look on Sam’s face he did too!
There are quite a few amazing GF bakeries out there nowadays, especially in the Bay Area, but we had something special in mind and were so excited that we were able to book the very first bakery we did a tasting at all the way back in July of 2019 and they were able to make a smaller version of our original cake choice.
Patisserie Angelica knocked it out of the park with a truly unique wedding cake! It was spectacular. Called a “Gateau Parisian” it had 2 layers of a french-style rustic almond macaroon layered with a beautiful whipped praline buttercream. It was absolutely amazing and as you can see from the photo it was visually stunning as well!
If you are ever in Sebastopol this bakery is worth a visit as their Macarons are out of this world!
As our wedding approached things began to open up a bit more and we decided that it might be nice to invite a few more family members to a post-wedding luncheon. We were able to secure a reservation for 16 people at Seared Steak and Seafood in downtown Petaluma.
They were fabulous at organizing the event and had our favors on the place settings and appetizers on the tables when we arrived. The staff was amazing and super accommodating for dietary needs. Their menus were clearly marked and the waitstaff was very friendly and easy to ask questions to.
I had the ribeye, while Sam and his best man David chose the prime rib. Everything was excellent, and not a speck of gluten in sight at our table (the shrimp appetizer dish at our other table being the only real exception). We are a little light on pictures for this part as everyone was having fun, but here are a couple:
So there you have it! My Big Fat Gluten Free Wedding happened with nobody getting glutened which feels like a huge success.
Melissa (and Sam)
Sorry I'm a little late this year on my Mother's Day Gift Ideas post. I have had so many things going on with getting ready for my wedding and moving into my new space that there just hasn't been enough hours in the day, but my goodness have the days been flying by.
Since COVID-19 disrupted our world last year, I think we’re all realizing just how important family is, now more than ever. I know that I am very fortunate to have been able to see my parents a few times due to our "bubble" and now am very fortunate to be vaccinated.
Of course, family looks different for everyone: some people have friends that are more like family, others have families split or changed. Whatever your family looks like, or whatever situation you’re in, maybe you have someone in your life who’s like a mother figure.
Please join with me in celebrating mother figures of all types. Because guess what… Mothers Day is just around the corner! 💐
It’s actually happening on May 9th this year… in just 9 days. (Can you believe it’s already May?!)
I wanted to share with you some ideas for Mothers Day, (full disclosure, yes, they are mostly from my business Melissa Durfey Skin and Wellness) if you want to gift something to your mom or another special person in your life this year (whoever that is to you!) 🎁
Gift Cards (and an extra special gift!)
Gift cards are always a great idea, because they give you the gift of choice! Mom can use her gift card for in-person pampering or trying out new skincare or wellness products, or even buy from an online shop.
This month, when you buy a $125 e-gift card at Melissa Durfey Skin and Wellness, I’m gifting you an extra $25 e-gift card, that you can pass on to her, or keep for yourself (a sneaky gift for you, too!)
WELL CBD Love WELL Gift Set:
This gorgeous set is a wonderful gift idea and lasts a lot longer than flowers!
-Rosewater Hydrating Mist (4oz) Infused with 100mg CBD
-Heart Shaped Rose Quartz Gua Sha Stone
-Serum Booster Travel Size
-Gua Sha Massage Face Map
-QR code with video instructions on how to perform your own Gua Sha Face Lifting Massage
and of course when you order from me I always include a couple VIP extras! 😎
Call or text me at (707)780-2273 and I will get one right out!
If you know me, you know how much I love my Earseeds. I don’t know how I would have gotten through this past year without them. I'm loving these All-in-one kits because they are fully customizable! It comes complete with everything to get started enjoying the benefits of Auriculotherapy right away, and at great savings! As an added bonus, if you purchase one of these and send me a text with your order number I will email you a gift certificate to also gift your mom a FREE Online Earseeds session with yours truly! (a $35 value)
Circadia Ready Set Glow
Get glowing with this great brightening and hydrating bundle from Circadia.
1- Blueberry & White Tea Hydrating Mist 4 oz.
1- Hydralox 0.5 oz.
1- Emergency Eye Lift 0.5 oz.
1- Circadia Branded Navy Blue Box
Only $77 and includes a free gift!
Color Up Therapeutics Zen Zone Kit
The Zen Zone kit was a big hit last year so I brought it back again! It is a great little kit from Color Up Therapeutics, designed to help you be present in the moment, completely relaxed and facilitate total togetherness of body and mind. This kit includes a bonus travel sized Relieve Pure Salve and a travel sized 75mg Pure Daily CBD oil as a gift. It includes a Rehab Bath Bomb, Detox Facial Masque, Mint Lip Treatment and Hydrate Body Lotion. I have a limited number of these for only $99. Please call or text (707)780-2273 to order!
Mini Gifts for Mom
If you’d like to gift a smaller treat this year, I would love to help you put together something that I know she’d love! Buy her one, two, or bundle up a couple of our skincare treats into a gift bag!
Check them out some of my options in my online shop here: https://skin-ambition.square.site/
In Office Mother’s Day Specials
If you are in the Petaluma area, you can treat your mom to one of my Mother’s Day Specials! Pamper Mom with a customized facial with a hydrogel mask upgrade and a Swarovski crystal Earseeds session for only $135!
Also don’t forget about my Mother of Dragons Facial from my Geek Glam Not-So-Secret Spa Menu for all those fierce moms out there. For the month of May I am including a lip treatment upgrade with any purchase.
I hope you and mom like some of these ideas 😊 I’d love to help make her day extra special. Visit any of the links above or text me (707)780-2273 for more info on any of these or more!
Wow, it has been awhile since I posted and I apologize for that. Many times over the last few months I sat down to write a post and for one reason or another I just couldn’t muster it. For someone who loves to talk I have been at a loss for words for quite awhile.
I’ve been going through a lot personally, mentally and physically, and everything I wrote up to now felt disingenuous and insincere. I felt like I was writing just to write while the world crumbled around me. Part of me still feels that way, but today I woke up with enough motivation to try again.
People keep asking if I’m settling in well and the answer is "mostly." It still doesn’t quite feel real, partially due to the fact that the world has changed so much.
My chronic illness doesn’t make it any easier either, but it feels like I have been managing it better down here in California. The heat definitely helps with my joint pain and the natural light has been helping with the “getting out of bed” part. I still have bad days, but they have been less frequent over the past couple months, and for that I am grateful. The view from my balcony helps too.
So here is where the new start begins! Tomorrow I get the keys to my new space and begin preparing to go back to hands-on work. I found a great salon in downtown Petaluma that fits my vibe and unique service menu so I am super excited and grateful for that! Of course I am a bit nervous too, but I really have missed working on people.
If you want to see a sneak peek of my new treatment room, I'd love for you to join me for my livestream on Monday May 3 at 5pm PST. You can also catch a replay on that same link anytime after!
It is my intention to bring back posting more regularly and also post about more fun things. I just wanted to take a minute to let you know that I am still here. I truly am having a Big Fat Gluten Free Adventure right now discovering the best places for me in my new community. I’ve found some great food already and will be sharing more of that very soon.
Now for few more good things that happened recently before I end this post:
-My mom is cancer free and back to teaching her Zumba Gold classes
-Sam and I are finally getting married May 21
-Sam and I are fully vaccinated (Yay!)
-We had an epic Easter Brunch with my future in-laws (check out my instagram for those photos)
I hope you are all doing amazing right now and if you aren’t I hope you can find at least one thing to express gratitude for.
Note: This blog was originally posted on my former acupuncture blog, but because I am still seeing this all the time on social media: I feel the need to post it again as my views have not changed.
Normally I try to keep my blog posts very positive, but I have to say something about this issue. Over the past few weeks I have seen a photo shared over and over again on friend's feeds of a Daith Piercing on a woman's ear touting relief from migraines. Today alone I saw it on my feed four times and even a local news station is covering it now. Here is a link to one of the articles I've seen floating around Facebook and other social media sites: https://drupalsites.purchase.edu/journalism/index.php?q=node/49 (note: article has been removed from this website...this blog was originally posted in 2015. I am still looking for an archived copy to link.)
I feel like as a health care provider trained in auriculotherapy, both ear acupressure and acupuncture I needed to offer my $0.02 for the integrity of the medicine I hold very dear.
Most people who have seen me as a provider or checked out my Instagram know how much I enjoy utilizing the microsystem of the ear. It is almost magical how using the ear points can release those happy little neurotransmitters. It is a clinically proven system that has helped millions of people around the world.
While I am in no way against piercings or using the ear for other benefits rather than looks (I even have Swavorski EarSeeds on my own ears for stress relief at this very moment!) I am incredibly skeptical of this so called "alternative treatment" for migraines. There are many reasons for this. The first is the lack of research on the topic.
There are no studies cited and no "proof" offered other than the body piercers who claims it works and the other people who were interviewed for the article. This article claims that this piercing is the "same concept as acupuncture". That statement alone inflamed me more than almost anything else. Acupuncture is a field that requires many years of study to scratch the surface of and while I mean no disrespect to any body piercer, they are incredibly ill-qualified to state that something works like acupuncture.
My second issue comes down to point location. According to Wikipedia: "A Daith piercing is an ear piercing that passes through the ear's innermost cartilage fold, the crus of the helix." In Chinese Medicine and auriculotherapy this part of the ear corresponds to the large intestine, not the head. Unless it is a gut issue that is the root cause of your migraines then the chances of this working are pretty slim. There is actually no system of auriculotherapy that I or any of my colleagues that I spoke to are familiar with that has a point that could be even loosely related to a migraine. The only thing that may actually be at "work" here is that there is a potential that you are stimulating the vagus nerve, thereby causing a widespread response in the body, which is a whole other conversation that I'm happy to dive into some other time.
The third issue I have is with the type of metal used on the piercing. Depending on the type of headache the type of metal used makes a huge difference. I use silver mostly for headaches because of its calming effects. Gold and Surgical Steel both activate the tissue and can cause more harm than good.
Finally, scar tissue is something that one needs to be aware of with any body modification. Creating scar tissue blocks qi and blood flow and can once again create even bigger problems. I have found this a lot clinically with digestive issues and tongue piercings.
My advice to anyone seeking out an alternative treatment for their migraines to please go to someone who knows what they are doing. When I treat people for headaches with acupuncture I expect near immediate results and I get them. Same with EarSeeds. Nothing beats getting auriculotherapy or acupuncture at the right location for your unique presentation so please seek out a trained profession. I highly recommend visiting www.nccaom.org to find a qualified acupuncturist near you!
Ok I am finished on my soapbox for now.
Melissa West MAcOM, LE
P.S. My amazing colleague Doug recently posted on this topic if you are interested in another great perspective:
It's National Gluten Free Day!Read Now
Hey All, I hope you are having a splendid week despite all the craziness in the world right now. This week has been a complete whirlwind for me and I have totally been losing track of days because we have half the apartment packed so it’s Wednesday right?
Happy National Gluten Free Day! I can’t believe I almost missed it! I need to give a shout out to one of my favorite skincare lines, Hale & Hush, for reminding me.
Stay tuned for a full post on their products soon! I know that my usual post day is Thursday, but what kind of Gluten Free Blogger would I be if I didn’t post today? And what is a holiday without cake? So today I plan to do both.
Cake in a mug? Heck Yes!
I don’t know about you, but I love cake! Sometimes I don’t want the hassle of making a whole cake and then of course there’s the pressure to eat it all before it gets wonky. There’s nothing worse than wanting cake and having it be a dry mess. As any gluten free baker already knows, once a cake hits 3 days it’s crumble city. I usually make cupcakes and half or quarter the recipe so I have just enough for a couple days, but I’ve already packed half my kitchen, so I was just about to go look for a box when I ended up with another plan.
I was talking to one of my gluten free besties this afternoon, Deidre, as we do most Wednesdays and we got to talking about mug cakes, and I thought to myself: “Well there you go Melissa, you don’t even have to unpack anything to bake something today!” (Thanks Dee….you are a genius! Love you!)
So off to the pantry I went and after staring for a bit I decided on making a coffee cake as I just so happen to be out of powdered sugar which is an essential ingredient in both my vanilla and chocolate mug cake recipes.
Coffee cake is another one of my favorites because I’m a sucker for a crumble and I love that brown sugar and cinnamon combo. I decided to pump it up a little with some Flavor God Gingerbread Cookie Topper. I use this stuff so much, it's great in coffee and pancakes and now as I found out today it’s also great in coffee cake.
A couple tips before I share my recipe with you:
Got everything? Great! Let's Go!
Mix 1/2c + 1 T Gluten Free Baking Mix (I used Bob’s Red Mill because it’s still my favorite) with 2T Brown Sugar with 3T melted butter, coconut oil or ghee in a small bowl and stir until combined. (Don’t mind my picture as all I have out still is my medium pyrex.) I used some amazing brown butter ghee that my fiance Sam made in the instant pot. I’ll have to have him guest blog about that sometime soon!
I hope you enjoyed my quick and easy recipe! Let me know your favorite quick desserts in the comments! See you next week!
"Life is a lot like jazz... it's best when you improvise." George Gershwin
I had the perfect post planned for this week! I had heard amazing things about the Schär bagels so when I finally found some, I picked them up right away and was planning on making them a couple different ways and reviewing them for you. I was so excited! I got some cream cheese and lox and set Sunday as the day to take photos, nosh and write out an outline for my review…and then...this happened:
My Planning Hobby
I have a little confession to make. I can be a bit of a control freak. I have been all my life. It is something that I have been working on and has been getting better, but it still tends to manifest itself in planning. I am a planning enthusiast. I have lists of lists and planner books and journals, pinterest boards and all the things. My business plans are in beautiful folders and are updated regularly. Whenever we go on a trip I’m the one with the binder and I would make long term goals for everything. Then 2020 happened. Sam and I joke that one of the greatest oxymorons of our age is a 2020 planner.
As an aside, I actually did alter my 2020 planner into one for 2021 (Thanks to my trusty Cricut, printer, some old magazines and decoupage skills):
....And Then 2020
I was on the verge of having the best year of my career in 2020 with appointments, photo shoots and fashion shows booked out months in advance. I had big dreams of going mobile with my business and converting an RV into a mobile luxury spa. In my personal life, some things were rough due to a very unexpected death in the family, but other than that shock things were going pretty much “according to plan”. Sam and my upcoming wedding was planned to the tiniest detail and everything was going along pretty swimmingly until the end of March...and we all know what happened to all of my perfect plans then.
It started off with me being grateful for the “extra time off” to get my beloved RV project off the ground, but soon a few weeks turned into a month, turned into 3 months and I watched the date for my (again well planned) Grand Opening come and go. As the days turned into weeks and then turned into months I realized I needed to prepare for not going back to my “normal” practice anytime soon.
The rest of the year passed in a bit haze. I attempted to shift my practice fully online and spent a ton of money doing so. I bought professional equipment, paid for a new HIPAA safe telehealth platform and paid for a lot of advertising to stay afloat, so when my clients didn’t follow and I wasn’t reaching new ones I spiraled into a pretty dark place. It wasn’t pretty and if it weren’t for my amazing family I don’t know what would have happened to me. Full disclosure: I was so depressed I didn’t get out of bed many days and when I did it took a miracle for me to do anything but sit on the couch. It’s exhausting when you put yourself out there and it feels like nobody cares.
On top of that awfulness in my business and the feeling that I was losing myself, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. They luckily still caught it early, but she still needed to have surgery and radiation. My mom is my hero and one of my best friends and that gutted me even further, but I was able to pull myself together enough to put together a supplement and herb plan and give her some acupuncture treatments. Then, completely mentally exhausted, I ended up back in bed for about a week.
It was during that week, after watching a ton of movies with makeovers I realized I needed my own. Not a “take your glasses off and put on makeup and a new dress” kind of makeover, more of a “change your environment and change your life” kind of makeover.
Once I started looking into opportunities outside Oregon things started moving quickly in a positive direction. The question was...if I don't stay in Portland, where do I go?
I’ve lived in Oregon my entire life (minus a year when I attempted to go to film school...long story for another time) and I've lived in the Portland Metro since I was 18. Somewhere around mid 2018 it stopped feeling like home, but I was scared to do anything about it. After crashing and burning this year so hard I realized that I needed a change of scenery to find out what’s next. Sam has been wanting to move back to California for a while, and after talking it over with him we decided to use this as an opportunity to start over. It hasn’t been without emotional challenges; it really is so hard to watch everything you worked for get sold off or put into storage. Anyone who has gone out of business will tell you the same. It feels personal even though, deep down, I know it’s not.
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that there are far too many things that you can’t plan for. I know that my story is nowhere near the worst tale of 2020 and I am very aware and grateful for my privileges that offer me options and opportunities that others may not have, but I still feel like my world has exploded. I am so very aware of the loss and grief we are experiencing as a nation and am no way trying to make light of it with toxic positivity. I am only sharing my own personal experience. Please don't take my casual nature and optimism as me being flippant about everything that is going on right now. 2020 was a legit dumpster fire.
Now in 2021, for the first time in my life, I am going to a new place without much of a plan in place. I am truly improvising for the first time in my life. I'm scared to death, but I'm excited to finally be letting go of the past, and right now I feel like not knowing every single step is ok. I guess the point of this post was to share with you the idea that improvising and making things work can be difficult, but the outcome can be just as tasty (or maybe even more so) than your original plans.
Dr. Melissa is an Doctor of East Asian Medicine as well as a self proclaimed geek glam girl with a passion for gluten free food, self care rituals and beauty products. She is based in Petaluma, CA.