WHAT WERE YOUR EARLY INFLUENCES?
I had a lot of early influences. I was fortunate to be raised in the Cowichan Valley by 2 wonderful parents that introduced me to meditation and yoga at the age of 6. By the time I was in my teens, I was telling my friends about chakras, the evolution of consciousness, and of experiences I had during meditation. I enjoyed discussing philosophy and religion, from Xeno and Descartes to Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, and Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi. I was so enthused I gave a yoga class to my fellow classmates in high school. My first experiences with feeling Qi in my hands, looking back, were when I was belly-dancing in the early eighties.
WHAT DREW YOU TO TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE (TCM)?
What drew me to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) was that I’ve always had a curious, creative mind and a great love of both art and nature– from the West Coast’s wide open beaches, the deep rich abundance of Vancouver Island’s rainforests and the fresh subalpine of our Coastal Mountains. Always drawn to nature, I often drew it, and realized that healing of both man and planet had a great deal to do with the resources that nature gives us. It was all somehow connected. What happens within, happens without. In 1980, while observing an ink drawing of an ancient Chinese man with several meridians painted on his body, I recalled how my dad’s severe back pain had been cured by an acupuncturist in Vancouver, and I was certain that one day I’d learn more about it.
There was quite a lot of time before I actually was able to study TCM, since I first enrolled at UVic for pre-pharmacy. I enjoyed my studies, yet was still attracted to Chinese Medicine. I took my first Tai Chi class at UBC.
WHY DID YOU GO INTO PHARMACY?
I knew I wanted to help people but I didn’t know exactly how. My mom was a pharmacist and she had told me how she dispensed a lot of herbs and tinctures in her earlier days. She’d also wildcrafted herbs in one of her courses at UBC. Her experiences were what really influenced me to go into pharmacy.
WHAT MADE YOU INTEGRATE PHARMACY AND TCM?
Thinking about how to integrate pharmacy and TCM was the beginning of creating the concept of Hoku Integrated Healthcare. After working at Vancouver General Hospital for a few years, I realized that pharmacy and conventional medicine were not generally effective in healing disease and seemed to create a “distance” between practitioner and patient. Allopathic medicine was great at treating acute severe conditions but something in my spirit was tugging me to look further for a holistic style of medicine that was natural, gentle, and nurtured body, mind, and spirit. I also wanted to have a more direct effect on my patients using a hands on approach.
I discovered the Wild Rose College in Vancouver where I studied and wild-crafted herbs, took courses in vegan nutrition, and learned massage with application of essential oils. I then took the first 2 levels of Reiki in 1991, and later attained the master level in 2006. I then moved to Campbell River where I married and became a brand new mom.
I soon discovered Jin Shin Do® mind and body acupressure, which translates to “The Way of the Compassionate Spirit”. I fell in love with this supportive method and took courses in Comox, Lasqueti Island, and Victoria, with teachers Noel Taylor, Tolling Jennings, Ronald Porter, and Kathy Debussy. It was on Lasqueti that I got the idea for a business called “Hoku Integrated Healthcare” where I could integrate my pharmacy training with Oriental medicine. I got pretty deep into the psychology of Jin Shin Do®. In my last year Dr.TCM, Arnie Lade came to the class, and introduced us to TCM. He gave me an antique needle to hold in my hand and something resonated. I discovered my true calling and passion in TCM, a complex system that was safe, effective, and holisitic. I immediately enrolled at CCAOM, the longest running TCM school in Canada and wrote my acupuncture boards in 2002, and completed my diploma of TCM in 2003. I was pretty busy back then, but still enjoyed ordering herbs for the school while co-authoring a paper with Kai Chen, one of my professors. I was given the “Herbal Goddess” award by staff that had noticed how much I enjoyed playing with the herbs in the dispensing room.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT YOUR PRACTICE?
What I like best about my practice is getting to know and help my patients achieve health on all levels. And seeing the look on my patient’s faces when they feel pain free or get an “a hah” moment.
WHAT IS THE CONCEPT OF HOKU?
The concept of Hoku starts with it being an (extraordinary) acupuncture point that symbolizes a joining of the Valleys. Here, it represents a balanced fusion of Eastern Philosophy and techniques with the modern tools of Conventional Medicine, from acupuncture and teaching meditation, to medication advice and interpretation of lab tests. This is truly integrative medicine. Hoku, the acupuncture point, is also considered to be the “Letting Go Point par Excellence” for those of us who wish to get rid of some long-held limiting beliefs. The imagery of Hoku reminds us that breath itself is the ultimate of letting in and letting go, which paradoxically leads us to inner freedom. Looking at the various meanings behind Hoku, we can envision a joining together of body, mind, and Spirit.
At Hoku, we realize that health is not just the absence of physical disease. Holistic Health involves helping people to smoothly move along with life’s challenges and transitions like water runs in a river or a stream. Acupuncture can help remind us how to live life in this way, imparting a sense of meaning in a joyous, contented manner. By discovering and treating our barriers to health we are more able to relax into a state of mindfulness, which in turn keeps us physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy.