Today is the start of my new interview series, Women Who Rock
Following a passion isn’t always easy. What makes it easier is knowing we aren’t walking the path alone.
Living in the Palace of Weariness
Five element acupuncture describes the Palace of Weariness as the point on the palm of the hand, between the third and fourth metacarpal bones in the proximal transverse crease, otherwise called the headline. Nina Brugel knows the palace well. She lived there long enough to redecorate.
Nina was tired. Not just sort of tired. She was the kind of tired that aches. She couldn’t stop thinking, worrying, even when the day was done. She couldn’t sleep, and when she did, even that felt like work. Raising three children can be a challenge, even with great kids like Nina’s, but when one of them is ill, stress takes on a whole new dimension. She had a child in pain, and like most mothers, her child’s pain had become her own.
Acupuncture wasn’t entirely new to Nina. Her husband found relief in the ancient healing tradition after a double hip replacement. Five element acupuncture balances the different types of energy within the body–wood, fire, earth, metal, and water, releasing blockages that keep it from flowing freely. Nina hoped acupuncture would help her relax and sleep, but she found so much more than peace –she found direction.
You don’t find passion, it finds you
Nina’s passion didn’t announce itself, it snuck up on her. “I hadn’t really thought about (studying acupuncture),” she admitted. “Shani (her acupuncturist, a woman who rocks in her own right) planted the seed. I’d ask her all of these questions about what she was doing, the points she was working with and how they effected the body, and after a while she said ‘you really ought to study this’.” There was a program about 45 minutes away. It would take 3 years of full-time classwork, 250 hours of clinical work, and then she’d have to pass the board exam. But after doing so, she could help people just the way she herself had been helped.
Nina had been searching for her passion for a while. During college she was sure she was the only one who didn’t know what they wanted. Even after working in the Capitol, getting married, and having her children, the question still dogged her as she looked for what might come next. Nothing seemed obvious. Frustrated, she’d curse out Oprah when told to “Find Your Passion!”, as if it was packed in an unlabeled box in the garage, or in that kitchen drawer with all of the other random junk.
Until Nina admitted telling Oprah to take a leap, I didn’t think I could adore her more.
That which creates fear, can also create energy
Which is not to say Nina jumped into studying acupuncture right away. “I had lots of reasons why I couldn’t do it.” Starting with the fact that she didn’t know where Laurel, Maryland was. “My first excuse was a silly one. Shani just said ‘next’.”
But there were larger impediments–time, money, and her desire to spend time with her youngest child, just going into middle school. “I’d spent so much time with my oldest when she was sick. Shouldn’t I be here for my youngest too? He would want me home.”
“Have you asked him?” Shani replied.
Not only was her youngest fine with his mother being gone in the afternoons when he got home, he was proud of her, ready to tell anyone and everyone the cool thing his mother was getting ready to do. Her entire family was behind her. The support has been invaluable.
“It was hard going back. I could literally hear the gears turning in my head, creaking away.” And the challenges continued. “There were times when I thought, why am I doing this?” Her husband is right there next to her, working to boost her spirits. “My husband gets to bring out all of his sports analogies. He likes to coach, he’s in his element. And you know, when you’re sobbing and ready to give up, they actually work surprisingly well.”
Nina will finish her program and pass her boards (because I know she will) early next year, and join her mentor, Shani, in practice. She hopes that in helping others she can find meaning in what she went through with her child. Seeing people respond to treatment keeps her moving forward. “I can be tired and stiff when I get to the clinic, and wonder how I’m going to get through the day. And when I leave, I actually have more energy.”
That’s what passion looks like–something that adds energy, even while you expend it.
Have you found your passion? What brings you energy? Tell me! I’d love to hear. Even better, if you are, or know, a woman who rocks, tell your story! email me at mobyjoecafe.gmail.com
Learn more about Five Element Acupuncture and the Tai Sophia Institute