Why I protested today...

Today is the first day I participated in an act of civil disobedience.   All my life I have stayed clear of becoming involved in a physical demonstration of any sort.  Ironically, mostly because I too fear the police may mistreat me.   I have always felt I had too much to loose to get arrested for something stupid and not have my dreams come true.  I have hid behind my degrees and watched the world around me change.  

I want to thank those who have read my blog, "Driving While Black" had over 1000 hits this week and an outpouring of support.  This week I went to court and plead not guilty and have a court date set for January 7.  My case is just a minor example of what happens on a daily basis.  The cases in the news are the extreme end of that.

For too long I have felt that my education would in insulate me from that reality...  It does not. I have always wondered when reading history from the past whether I would have participated in bringing about change or whether I would sit on the sidelines of history.  I think it is clear I can no longer sit still in our rapidly changing world.  And neither can you.

Driving while Black

I have struggled for days as to whether to write this post.  Then I struggled with what to write.   Given the recent events where justice seems to be complicated.  Two black men's killers were acquitted setting loose a storm of protests around the country.  I am somewhat insulated from it up here in the wealthy and predominantly white North Bay San Francisco Bay Area. However, with recent events it rings ever too close to home.

On October 8, 2014, I was driving North from San Francisco back to Sebastopol on the 101 in early evening.  Somewhere around the Novato area I was pulled over.  I was utterly confused.  I was not speeding, I was driving a 2010 Honda Insight registered to me.  The officer notified me that he pulled me over because the car in front of me was driving with a taillight out.  He then stated that he was concerned for me as he felt I was driving to close behind the car, especially given that the taillight was out.   I remember him being behind me for quite awhile before pulling me over.   I did not argue with him.  I kept my hands on the steering wheel at all times except when asked to do something.  I moved slowly.  His allegation is preposterous, not only was I not speeding (nor did he cite me for that), I also was not following too closely behind the car.   Anyone who has ever driven with me knows that I drive like a grandma.  Precisely to avoid unnecessary interactions with cops.  He gives me a citation after visually inspecting the interior of my car with his flashlight from outside the car.  The whole time I kept thinking "why did he not go after the guy with the taillight out and cite him?"  "I am not guilty of anything."  But I was guilty.  I was guilty of a crime he can't directly cite me for.  I was guilty of Driving while Black.

Ironically just few weeks before, I had given a speech at a Costco fundraising event where I briefly included a line about being guilty of "Driving while Black".  Speech is here I start speaking at min 14. (Password is "2014").  How prophetic!

I just received the citation in the mail and am seething with anger at the $238 charge.  Not to mention ruining my perfect driving record.  I am seething at the lost day I will spend at the traffic court as they will not assign you a time for your case.  You sit and wait.  This policy directly affects the working poor as they lose a days wage in fighting this, while the wealthy are likely to pay the charge and get on with their lives.  Yes I beat the odds, I made it through my 20's as a young, dark skinned male without ever getting a ticket for anything!  Now I am pissed, and for once in my docile life, I will be marching myself into court and standing up for myself.

This is just one of many experiences where I have experienced life as a second class citizen in the United States.  I bring it up now to open up to my mostly white friends that these things are true and really do happen. I feel like if you put me at the wrong place at the wrong time and I too would be dead or in prison.  I am tired now.  I am tired of my silence and shame.  I am tired of young men who look like me having their lives cut down in their prime.  I am tired of young men who look like me being given ridiculous prison sentences for marijuana charges when I see young white men getting slaps on the wrist and often nothing at all.  I am tired of young men who look like me being assumed to be sexual predators.  They come in all colors, shapes and sizes.  And so do good people.   I am tired of young men who look like me not getting a fair shot at a decent education unless they are willing to play collegiate sports or join the military first.  I am tired of the discrepancy of class that still so easily follows the color lines in this country.  I am tired of that fact of all my education I still am impoverished and enslaved to the banks via the school loan system.  I am tired of being afraid of having a son.

We need to change, we need dialogue to get there.  Yes it is a hard topic.  Yes it is uncomfortable.  We have no choice.  Speak up when you see any type of discrimination.  Do your part to make this tiny planet a better place. This nation was built on the notion of white supremacy and will be broken shortly if that concept is not replaced with reality.

For those interested in good dialogue on the subject, check out "The Color of Fear".  Also, PBS show "Traces of the Trade" chronicling on families journey after discovering that their family owned slaves.  Also check out Bill Moyers "The United States of Ferguson".  And of course, you can always talk to me :)


Bioneers 2014

This weekend I attended the Bioneers conference for the first time courtesy of Guayaki and Beijaflor Elixirs.   What a great event full of wonderful people all doing good work to make the planet a more habitable place to live.  Highlighted speakers include: Eve Ensler, Paul Stamets, Noami Klein, Brock Dolman, Charles Eisenstein, Erin Switalski, Louie Schwartzberg, and Vandan Shiva.  Don't know these people?   Then check out their bios at the above link or Google them!  Amazing work!   Being in the presence of such heavy hitters inspires me to contribute more in my work to help change the problems plaguing our tiny planet right now.

The after party at solstice grove was amazing too.  Great tibetian food, unique cordials and herbal libations by Beijiaflor elixirs and music by Dogon Lights.

Check out the conference and afterparty next year and join one of the many movements to build a better planet for all.

Who's side are you on?

Just watched a clip of Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren that inspired me to take another look at the political process.  Like most in our country I am completely disillusioned by what I see happening in Washington.   There is a ray of hope now. She talks a sweet talk, walks the walk, and most importantly seems to be able to deliver. 

At times I am so disillusioned that I have considered leaving this country. My family seems to have a thing where we can't stay in the same country for more than a generation. Then I had my lovely daughter and have decided to stay here and raise her. 

Then I got to thinking, we can just let the oligarchy have this country. We have to fight for it. Elizabeth Warren is my horse in this fight. Please get to know her and if so inspired rejoin the political process that once made this country so great.  


Healing the Past

Many times when I am working with a client it becomes very clear that they have some event in their past that needs to be healed in order to have their body-mind-spirit return to wholeness.  I have many people that come to me having done therapy for years surrounding the topic.  Others have taken antidepressants and other pharmaceuticals for years only to find that they are still depressed and anxious and it still stems from the same traumatic event.  Most of the time I end up recommending some traditional medicine that involves a ceremony.  These include soul retrieval, cord cuttings, inipi (sweat lodges), and hanbleycha (vision quest).  Ceremony works because it connects the psyche to the outside world and marks ending for an event and signals a new beginning.  Talk therapy mostly runs talk and memory centers on the left side of the brain.  Healing must involve both hemispheres of the brain and the heart.

Some of my clients work very hard to heal; recovering their mind and spirit only to find that the body dies.  It always does.   My body will, no matter how many "good" and "right" things I do to it.  It is designed to break down to give space for new life to occur.  Celebrate birth and death, humanity has amazing creativity with its ceremonies on birth and death.  Death is not a loss in and of itself.  Only stupid deaths are. Michael Brown, Travon Martin, Eric Garner are stupid deaths.  Our country must heal its issues with race, and not just the disproportionate jailing and police killing of black men.  It must face its history of slavery and its role in the current economy.  It must face its genocidal roots with Native Americans, and our obtuse immigration policy with Latinos. We must face our over glorification of extreme wealth and our production of immense poverty through our legal, political, and banking systems.   We must reconnect our souls to the timeless ebbs and flows of nature.

I think we need to begin to talk about these issues as much as we talk about Beyonce.  This dialogue must happen beyond social media posts and media spin.  How do I feel about these events?  How can I do my part to heal the greater collective?  This is just the beginning.  To truly heal as a nation, planet, we must have a large scale ceremony to express and honor these events of the past and to put them to bed.  Traditionally these ceremonies are organized and orchestrated by the leader.  Mr. Obama where are you?  Do not wait for the federal government or any body outside yourself.  Choose to heal your past and your ancestor's past- start within yourself.   Use both hemispheres of your brain and heart.  Seek out indigenous ceremonies if you don't know where to begin.  The time is now to take action.

I drank the kool-aid...

Tony Robbins is a genius.  This weekend I was down in San Jose to attend a Tony Robbins Seminar called "Unleash the Power Within".  I really had no idea what to expect.  I had seen him around on TV in the past as well as on the internet.  When I was in medical school, one of our instructors had us listen to one of his CD sets for a practice management class.  Many people have also seen the TED talk where he calls out Al Gore for losing the election.  Which by the way has almost 12 million hits as of today.  Talk about virality!

So what is all the hype about?  Brilliantly applied psychology!  I have never seen so many psych techniques packed into 4 days.  Not to mention the effect of having 6000 people sitting through an infomercial disguised as a concert.  Yes, I said concert.  The whole thing was like a concert!  Music, dancing, high energy; hell I even feel hung over and I did no drugs or alcohol.  The drug was TONY! 

But no seriously, I am HUNG OVER today!  I have a massive headache, I am tired, achy all over, my eyes are red, pillow over the head... And here is why...  Top Ten highlights of the weekend...

First of all I am an information junkie,  I love to learn, I love info, I get high off of it!  It jacks my dopamine like no other which makes me a great researcher.  Man Tony really blasted my receptors with constant info.  (Most days only had one 40 min break and we went from 8am to midnight!)

Second I feel like I just ran a marathon and played a game of tackle football because every 20 min or so we were jumping around, dancing, and generally acting crazy.  I have runners high and I barely left a 5 foot area for 12 hours or more.

Third my man Tony (yes we are on a first name basis despite never having met) elicited massive oxytocin through my touched starved body by giving me multiple massages, hugs, and high fives from strangers! (Ha!  Ironically the spell check wants to change oxytocin to oxycontin!  I feel like I was on oxycontin!)  I truly feel bonded to Tony and the 6000 strangers I attended the event with.

Fourth my Serotonin has been massively up-regulated.  I am undepressed and I did not even know I was depressed.

Fifth I had every known psych technique applied in mass from neuro associative conditioning, hypnosis (pretty impressive hypnotizing 6000 people at once), affirmations ("I freaking rock!!!"), emotional mastery, guided imagery, and I am sure there were a plethora of techniques used that I was not even aware of.

Sixth  Did i mention I walked on hot coals!  Not that impressive, those of you who know me know I do crazier shit all the time.  However, I did have a moment where I dropped out of the
"state" I was in and thought "these are not so hot" and then I burned my left foot! (I am fine).   A further reminder that pain gating is an illusion of the brain.  That night I calmly told my foot that I no longer needed the message of burning as there is no more fire now and the pain went away and I slept fine.

Seventh  Spiritual experience... It was like ayahuasca, a pentacostal church, and a concert all rolled into one.

Eighth  Seeing all the sheeple blindly consume lots of Tony Robbins stuff after being hyped into a massive emotional state where you almost could not help buying tons of stuff.  Almost.  Luckily I only sipped the kool-aid so I won't be going to Fiji with him just yet... But if I get enough withdrawal I just may!

Ninth  Great information on the Battle of the Sexes.  Clear examples of how masculine and feminine have different wants and needs and strategies to speak a common language.

Tenth Deep healing, removed some major belief systems that were getting in the way of my being able to thrive.  I feel like I have both rewired these things out of my brain as well as rewired my brain to express a full range of emotions.  When I was younger I had a brain injury playing sports that pretty much ended my contact sports career.  I have been somewhat emotionally flat since.  This is a common sign of chronic tramatic encephalopathy which is making the news as many NFL players are getting it.  I have lately been afraid that I would get it to as I get older.  Something has shifted this weekend as I am no longer afraid of it and am considering researching treatments to help the affected players.

Me on drugs...  I smoked Tony!

Me on drugs...  I smoked Tony!

Battle of the Sexes

As many of you know, I have an unease about fatherhood.  I don't know "how" to be a father.  Many people close to me comment on how I am a good dad.  Surprise!  I am winging it!  Making it up as I go.  Reading through facebook posts today, I was struck by a particular post:

Ouch!  That one hurt!  Father's day does not get nearly the press or hype that Mother's day gets.  Is it because of all the deadbeat dads?   An unspoken difference in expectations from parents?  I think there are many men that take care of their family and home and are also constantly criticized for it.  What is being expected of men is rapidly changing, changing faster then the men can change.  Maybe this is why I have such an unease in fatherhood... It is no longer sufficient to be a good provider, you need to cook, clean, take the kids... Who can do all that well?   The poor economy and debt for everyone doesn't help either.  Arguably the number of jobs that allow for one parent to work and the other to stay home are dwindling.  Yes, we do need to have better equality in the job and homefront.  But maybe better equality also means shifting the view of man as provider.  I think this spoken word piece on TED sums it up nicely...

A few months back a good female friend of mine admitted to me that she seeks partners with a better ability to provide than her and that it is problematic because she has a high education level and a high income.  When pressed about equality, she later admitted that it was problematic in that she still looks for the traditional provider type where the man makes more than her.  Consequently, her pool of potential partners is small.   I relate this to the female equivalent of men choosing them because of body type and the pressure women have to constantly look like they are 23, have the perfect body, big breasts, and everything else.

Where did this whole construct come from?  Arguably neurobiology... We are wired to constantly be seeking sex.  Thus, telling people they are not sexy and that they have to buy-do-consume something to get it back is great marketing.  But it is not True. Further driving the separation of the sexes...  Women be sexier, you can do it all, you don't need a village.  Men be better providers, no take what you can when you can, and you will be rewarded with money, power, and access to the sexiest women.

The solution... More feminist men.  The Atlantic has a great article on this one that got me thinking...  We need a national dialog on this Battle of the Sexes.  Men and Women getting together and discussing how we can have better lives together.  Men we are failing.  We are failing to nurture our daughters in ways that teach them that they are more then their looks and ability to advertise sexual cues to make money for a plethora of companies.  We are failing to nurture our sons, to teach them that being a man does not entail hoarding as much wealth as possible or to treat women as objects for our sexual gratification.  

It is time to bring back initiatory experiences and tell young men you are a man now and this is the code of honor you are expected to upkeep.   It is time to examine as a culture why it is so easy for so many young men to fall through the cracks in the system, to end up in prison, to rape women, to feel so angry that they will kill their classmates.  It is time to do something better.  Our children deserve it.

The place to start as always is ourselves.

State of my body, mind, and soul address.

Today is my birthday and for those who know me really well, they know that I get particularly melancholy around my birthday.  I have never really understood why.  I do notice that I tend to reflect on my life and the world around me as well as my death and whether my life was a good one.  Here is my best guess as to why my soul is cranky about being in a body at this time.

In my yearly reflection a few of themes stood out...

When I was born I had fluid on my lungs and was put in an incubator.  I feel like this plexiglass bubble is how I first interacted with my parents.  I have felt an invisible wall since.  Makes me really believe in the theories about how birth can set the tone for certain things that echo out into our adult lives.  I had a real felt sense of it on a journey where I had asked to see the root of my illness at the time and I saw my birth and then experienced with my adult mind the feeling of hearing and seeing my parents and not being able to touch or experience their energy early on.  I have always felt a little separated from the world, and still do.

Another theme that seems to circulate around my life is that of slavery.  I am currently reading Andrea Stuart's "Sugar in the Blood" a narrative of her family ancestry in Barbados.  The African side of my family is of slave stock from Barbados, so this book gives me insight into what my ancestors must have experienced.   I can't help but compare the sugar addiction of Europeans and the acceptance of slavery (anything for that dopamine) to our current addiction to i-gadgets and porn (anything for that dopamine).  Yes our lives today rely on slavery  or near slave conditions for everything from the clothes we wear to the i-phone we chat on.   I especially think the banking/debt system is an especially pernicious type of slavery... Paper shackles!  I have always felt like all forms of slavery should be eradicated.  I think the history of the world could possibly be explained solely by human's need to push the dopamine button.  That silly neocortex just allows us to build more fancy tools to further push the dopamine button.   Man have we gotten creative... so much so that it is destroying the place.

In my 34th year my mind is sharp, my body is firm with ever so slight hints of omental adiposity to come, and my soul remains cranky!

Is it me or has everything gotten really intense lately?  Time seems to be flying by.  You blink and months go by.  Everyone seems stressed to their wits end.  Core issues for healing are being drawn up to the surface for all.  This becomes a good opportunity to re-center and figure out what is most important in life.  What do I want to spend my precious time on?  What do I focus my attention on?

What we focus on is what creates reality.  I don't mean this in an ostrich-head-in-the-sand sort of way.  We all make micro-decisions each day that affect the outcome of thousands of realities.  Steer your ship to where you want to go... You can steer it to the rocks or to the cove.  You pick, you are in charge of this aspect no matter how crazy things are. We are never given more than we can actually handle... I just think of it as training.  What are you being trained for?

So here's to another year of training, another year of creating a better reality for everyone, another year of the senses, another year of growth, another year closer to death, and another year of emancipating ones self from mental slavery...

Thanks to all in my life who have contributed to my life and growth.  Life is sweet because of you all.

Ode to Seattle

I flew into sunny Seattle today and reveled in the familiarity of my former hometown.  Nostalgia warms my heart today as I think of all the wonderful times here and  all of my friends that reside here.  All of my formal education was done here.  Much of my informal education was here too! I am grateful for my first clinic home Seattle Integrative Medicine and my family there.  So many life lessons in the streets, hills, lakes, and mountains surrounding Seattle. Thanks to all who have crossed paths with me in this town.  I will try to see as many of you as I can this weekend.  Thanks to all my patients and all the lessons they have taught me on perseverance and healing.  I would not be the doctor I am today without your trust and insight.   I may have moved, but you all will always be in my heart.

Naturopathic Medicine meets Hi-Tech.

Today the startup that I work for Sharepractice http://sharepractice.com/ was featured in an article in Fast Company today.  Here is a link to the article http://www.fastcoexist.com/3028524/a-yelp-for-medicine-so-doctors-can-rate-whether-treatments-work   They did a good job succinctly explaining what our app does.  We allow medical professionals to rate treatments for efficacy including drugs, supplements, and procedures.

We are excited as our hard work is paying off and we are beginning to get high quality information from healthcare practitioners to other healthcare practitioners in a format that is easy to use.   Medical providers can check us out in the app store for iphone.  Check us out and put in some practice pearls!  Vote on your favorite treatments.  Tell us what you would like to see.  Dream big!

Bras contributing to breast cancer?

After my talk at the Dhyana Center last week there were some questions about whether bras contribute to breast cancer.  I have been researching it a bit and there does seem to be a link.  The theory is that bras (especially poorly fitting ones) constrict lymphatic flow in the breast to the axillary nodes in armpit.   http://www.inquisitr.com/1202191/your-bra-may-be-killing-you-scientists-call-for-boycott-of-komen/  This may be important because lymphatic flow traffics both toxins and white blood cells. 

Of note more breast cancers occur in the outer quadrant of the breast.  However some researchers do not attribute this to bras and deodorants, but to the fact that this quadrant has more tissue...  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15767185

Also of note many underarm deodorants contain parabens, substances that have estrogenic effects due to their ability to bind estrogen receptors.  Combine this with an antiperspirant and you no longer can excrete the toxins from your lymph via sweat. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12975767
I do think it is feasible to say that the combination of impaired lymph flow may contribute to breast cancer, be it via antiperspirants or bras.  Do they cause cancer in and of themselves?  Probably not.

Again, To get breast cancer 3 basic things have to happen:   1.You have to mutate key genes in the DNA that lead to uncontrolled cell growth. You have to have DNA repair mechanisms impaired.  2. You have to have growth promoters (hormones and xenoestrogens) so those cells can grow.  3.You have to have the immune system not function in getting to and killing these cells.  

Taking a look via a medical anthropologists lens, wearing a bra and deodorant is relatively new.. Roughly 2 generations out of 100,000+ years of human history.  Cultures that go bra and deodorantless have way less breast cancer (although that may be due to a multitude of other factors).   Here is a link to the book about bras and how they may contribute to cancerhttp://www.amazon.com/Dressed-To-Kill-between-Breast/dp/1930858051

In the end, I know it is a hard sell to recommend not wearing a bra, but to start I do recommend not wearing one at night.   I am not in favor of antiperspirants of any type and especially not ones with parabens or aluminum.

Keep the questions coming!

Breast Cancer Prevention

Breast Cancer Prevention is not getting a mammogram.  It is not getting your genes tested.  I am disappointed to see such things being touted as prevention on the major cancer society websites.  A few years ago Dr. Tierona Low Dog was speaking at a conference I was at and she said a very profound thing... "We'll never win the war on cancer until we agriculture and manufacturing at the table".  This blew me away.  Was she suggesting that how we live our lives, the things we make, the very things we eat may contribute to causing cancer?  It was the first time I heard it being openly spoken at a medical conference.  http://www.drlowdog.com/

Of course it does not take a PhD or MD to understand that our lifestyle is causing this.  I think most of us intuitively know this.  However, for those of us with advanced degrees, we must see proof.  That proof is here, to the tune of billions of dollars of research dollars.  Yet, the word is not getting out.  Doctors are not talking with patients (who has the time in a 15 min appointment) about these factors.  In many cases the medical system is complicit.  For most of my oncology patients, I am the only doctor to ask them why they think they got cancer.

I have decided to spend my time here in Sonoma county looking at the risk factors that have led Marin and Sonoma county to having the highest breast cancer rates in the world. http://www.zerobreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-in-marin  I think that the reasons may be due to the affluent lifestyle we enjoy here.   I intend to spend time speaking to patients and professionals about the factors and use real world solutions to mitigate these environmental factors.  

To get breast cancer 3 basic things have to happen:   1.You have to mutate key genes in the DNA that lead to uncontrolled cell growth. You have to have DNA repair mechanisms impaired.  2. You have to have growth promoters (hormones and xenoestrogens) so those cells can grow.  3.You have to have the immune system not function in killing these cells.   To resolve these issues we will have to take a look at the causes of 1,2, and 3 and have a real conversation about how those chemicals, radiation, hormones, and xenoestrogens got into our bodies.

Breast Cancer Prevention is addressing the actual factors that cause breast cancer.  It is actually addressing the environmental degradation that has led to the ever increasing toxic molecules in the air, water, and earth.  It is addressing the economic and political factors that allow such things to occur.  It is conducting research as to how xenoestrogenic compounds get into our bodies and how to get them out.   Please come to one of my talks on Breast Cancer Prevention or schedule one for more information.   See also Events and Resources on my website www.drchrisholder.com

More to come... Who is with me?

Gifts of Life. Embrace of Death. What is in between?

I am not at war with death, I embrace death.  An awkward statement to make by one who is in the medical profession.  Healing does not require life to continue unendingly.  It merely requires us to accept the gift of life in a body and accept the gift of the death of that body.  Life is a cycle of gifts.  The sun gifts us light.  The plants gift us photosynthesis and with that a plethora of unique life giving substances via fruits, vegetables, building materials, and healing compounds.  Animals gift us our lives so that we may live.  May we too gift our lives so the earth may live. I wish to make the fruits of my life a gift so others may live.  To do so I must embrace life and ultimately death.  My ceasing to exist allows for new ones to bring forth their gifts.   Often our attempts to avoid death are a great boon to the economy, yet ultimately will fail.  Death comes for us all.

All of these things in the natural world are given to us.  Yet increasingly our lives are taken over by a commoditization of everything.   Humans have figured out how to charge for everything... even yoga :)  Increasingly our lives are spent “making money” and servicing the unending debt that is required to have a “normal” life in this society.  As a descendant of slaves, I am troubled to look at my life and see the multitude of ways that I am still a slave.  I love Bob Marley’s lyrics “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds... Have no fear for atomic energy..”  Must have struck a chord as “Redemption Song” has over 29 million hits on You Tube.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFGgbT_VasI&feature=kp

In attempting to emancipate myself I ran across the book “Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in an Age of Transition”  by Charles Eisenstein.  I started it on my plane ride this morning up to Seattle and have been unable to put it down.  I am especially excited as his book promises to offer tangible solutions, not just trash on the problems with the status quo.  I look forward to hearing his thoughts and solutions... Check it out.  http://charleseisenstein.net/project/sacred-economics/

This exploration has lead to a newfound purpose in my life.  In the time between my birth and death, I will strive for two things:  Helping others heal themselves and the planet, and helping others emancipate themselves from financial slavery...  May our lives be a great gift to the whole.  Here’s to a great adventure! 


Be grateful for this life, your one beautiful life in this body.  Be gentle with yourself and with others.  Life is too short to waste on that which is not lasting, true, and beautiful.  Grieve sweetly, love fully.  Hold each other.

I am grateful for my life, its trials, tribulations, elations.  I thank all my exes for tough love, my sisters for tougher love.  I am grateful for my teachers, for my my path.  I am grateful for joy.  I am grateful for pain. 

I am grateful for my sweet love Jen... How did I get so lucky?  I am grateful for nature and all it provides.  I am grateful for emotions and how they get trapped and expressed in my body.

I am grateful for music, musicians, sirens, and audiophiles.   I am grateful for Nina Simone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUcXI2BIUOQ.

I am grateful for ted talks http://www.ted.com/talks/louie_schwartzberg_nature_beauty_gratitude.html  

I am grateful for gratitude.  http://www.ted.com/talks/david_steindl_rast_want_to_be_happy_be_grateful.html

I am grateful for you.

Leaning out...

Ironically I am writing this from an RV with my 4 year old daughter Penelope crawling all over me making otter noises...  Yes after years of schooling, 2 advanced degrees, and a six figure income; I am starting over.  I left a thriving practice in Seattle to come to California and find myself.  Stupid maybe, entertaining yes. In the process of re-envisioning my life, I am running into trouble.  Financial trouble, parenting trouble, career management trouble...  I started out my career so promising, despite many challenges I somehow managed to land on my feet, grow a practice all the while co-parenting my daughter 50% of the time since she was 9 months old and resisting the temptation to put on a video for hours on end so I can work.  I cook her organic fresh meals full of vegetables that she does not like.  She tells me this daily.

In the end I have a bittersweet taste in my mouth.  I am 33, unmarried, un-housed, and in a ridiculous amount of debt from all that schooling that was supposed to deliver me from that life of poverty I was accustomed to.   In a way it has, have a higher standard of living than I grew up with.  But alas there is not enough time, I need another 10 years to become a good provider.  Yet time is not on my side in terms of having a family.  My sperm are aging as I am dismayed to note,  as more and more papers assert that male fertility like female fertility begins to drop off at 35.  Many papers are linking autism spectrum disorders to aging fathers.  Putting to end the myth and notion that males can indefinitely have healthy children.  My own father is on the spectrum making it likely that I carry some of those genes.  I always dreamed of having a happy family.  Unfortunately, I spent the better part of my peak fertility chasing women that had no intention of partnering themselves to me.  I feel a constant pressure to "do it all", have the family, career, house, car, all the things that make for a normal life in America.  In the end, I have lost myself.  I spend lots of time taking care of others, my child, and very little time on myself.  I have a growing rage inside at having worked so hard only to see my career dwindle as I put in time and energy raising my child.  Knowing that inside, if I don't exihibt sucess, then I won't be a good producer, and if I am not a good producer, then I will not be fit for a long term relationship.    I have no trouble attracting women, they just don't stay when I can't keep up the pace of "doing it all".    I am finding it very hard to advance my career while being a good parent.  Let alone have time to have a relationship.   Consequently, women come and go in my life as they should when I can no longer do the things that attracted them to me in the first place.

Every day I swallow my anger and resist my urge to scream "This is not my life!!" at the top of my lungs.  I hate being a single parent, it boils my insides every day.  It was the last thing I wanted in life after growing up in a single parent immigrant home.  I love my career and wish I could spend more time at it.  At first I blamed and aimed my anger and vitriol toward Penelope's mother,  later I turned a corner and began blaming myself.  For  A Long Time.  As I move and start my life over in a new place I have come to realize that what is happening is beyond myself and the choices I have made.  The world is and has been changing, rapidly.  Faster than this guy or guys in general can adapt to the demands of the world we find ourselves in.  Consequently, both men and women are unhappy and unhappily ever after.  And no one is writing a men's book about it.  I have tried to find it.  Maybe there should not be a "men's" book, but some guidelines and leadership to allow both sexes to work together.

The world is changing, women are "leaning in" to borrow Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook phrase from her book "Lean in" http://leanin.org/.  I am in a profession that is predominantly women. (Naturopathic medicine... Medicine in general is also looking to be predominantly female as there are less and less males going into it as a profession).  As I look back at the second paragraph of this blog I am struck by the notion that what I am experiencing is what women have been experiencing for a long time.  The tension of having to figure out how to juggle family life with career aspirations.  All the while feeling like we are doing both poorly.  (Right now I have a pink teddy bear and a mermaid laying across my arms as I type).   I wonder what will happen to all the men that lean out so women can lean in...

Since there were no books I could find to guide me in this brave new world, I have picked up "Lean In"  to see what if any advice there is to men.  I am lost.  My initiatory experiences as a male have not prepared me for this world.  I was programmed with antiquated notions of what my role is.  I am programmed to be a provider.  I am not the only male in this place.  I am just the only one brave enough or stupid enough to write about it on a public forum.  As the battle of the sexes rages on, I wonder when we can stop battling and move into true partnership.   I am seeking partnership not just romantically, but as a society, so that all may lead fulfilling lives.  I am now retiring this to go make a fort with my daughter.  Stay tuned.

Starting Over

Last night was a solar eclipse.  I don't know much about astrology, but when I looked up the meaning I found out that solar eclipses mark new beginnings.  http://www.astrologyzone.com/forecasts/eclipse.html  Today is a new beginning for me.  Yesterday I flew down to Sebastopol, CA my new home and left Seattle.  I will be joining Hill Park Medical Center for those who don't know.  http://hillparkmedicalcenter.com/  I have lived in Seattle since I was 18.  I went to college and med school there and never left.  Seattle has been my home base for many exciting adventures.  It has been my home where much learning and maturing has come to fruition.

It has also been made clear to me in the last year that my time there is coming to an end.  There are bigger things ahead for my life.  I am not entirely sure what these are, but they are eminent.  I started reading Michael Pollen's new book "Cooked"  http://michaelpollan.com/books/cooked/ yesterday on the plane.  There was a section where it was being discussed the differences between humans and animals, one of which was the concept of cooking food.  This got me thinking about another concept that is somewhat uniquely human other than a few exceptions... Tool making.

Many of you who know me know that I have had a long standing criticism of the role of technology in our lives.  I am constantly struggle with the long term consequences of the technology I choose to have in my life.  My iphone also falls into these bittersweet musings.  Ironically in this move I have had to buy a car (a hybrid of course), something that has always bothered me.  I also love practical gifts and making things that make my life better.   Another Irony is that I am going to be working with Share Practice http://sharepractice.com/, Andrew Brandies' brainchild linking conventional and alternative medicines in a easy to use app that is going to revolutionize medicine.  In the end, our role as humans in toolmaking is extraordinary, I am now joining humanity in assisting in making a cool tool for practitioners.

Where am I going as in individual?  Where are we going as humanity?  I am excited to begin my new beginning.

Pulling the Plug.

Last night the family of the 19 year old boy I helped pull out of Green lake last week notified me that they were going to pull the plug.  They thanked me profusely.  They were so greatful for the few days they had to say goodbye.  A cacophony of emotions flooded over me.

I was spending the evening with my daughter last weekend at Green lake.  I heard a girl yell from the water that someone was drowning, then I saw her go under.  I swam out their and pulled her up.  There was another guy attached, thrashing around.  I grabbed her and him by an arm and swam them in.  Then to our horror, we realized there was another person out there.  Adrenaline.  Back out to the water.  Yelling.  Another swimmer brought the body to the surface.  Together we swam him to shore and began CPR.  I never got the other rescuer's name.

During the rescue I was acutely aware of time passing and how seconds suddenly had meaning.  I felt angry that the life guards were gone and with it the access to the automatic defibrillator they likely had.   As the seconds ticked away, internally I was in conflict:  I knew he was likely brain dead by this time (you have about 8 min, give or take some min dependant on water temp) and wished I could just gently let him die.  But I had about 50 people watching.  Kids.  My kid (she is fine).  At the same time I could not let him die in front of all these people.  I wanted to punch the guy recording me.  I wanted to scream.  I wanted to puke.

I felt embarrassed when I identified myself as a physician to the EMTs, they asked what kind.  A Naturopath.  Blank looks.  "Not a real doctor" emerged from my synapses.  I placed myself next to the EKG much to one of the EMT's annoyance...

The EMTs got there pretty fast, but it took awhile to get an airway established and a line.  All the while CPR continued.  The EKG showed a flat line the whole time.  Inside I wished they would stop and get the body out of here.  A shot of Epinephrine... A flutter on the EKG.. Atrial fibrillation... A min later a second shot of Epi... Heart beat!  I was shocked.  I did not think we would be able to restart his heart.  From the time we pulled the body from the water, the lights behind the eyes were gone... Inside I had already felt that his soul was on the way to a better place.  But now the body was alive again, sort of.

This is my worst night mare.  I am DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) and not an organ donor because of this.  My family knows my wishes and I have had legal paperwork drawn up already outlining my wishes.  I felt incredibly guilty that I had put someone else in this position.  See the following for more info  http://thehealthcareblog.com/blog/2012/08/06/how-doctors-die/

Ironically, I made the call to the boys mother and did my best in very broken French and English with a translator to explain what happened and what and where Harborview was.  I put his two friends in a cab, paid for it and gave them all the food I had on me.  I was relieved to tell his mother he was alive... but what did that really mean?

I did not sleep a wink that night despite heavily medicating myself with natural sleep aids.  Those 12 minutes flashed back in full detail, smells and all... all night long.  I beat myself up over little details that likely would not have changed the outcome.  But maybe they would have..  I was driving myself crazy.  So this is what PTSD is...

The next day I went to Harborview and met the family.  His mother and I cried in each others arms.  I answered all their questions.  They answered some of mine.  I got to know who he was and how his family came to be in the U.S.  Heartbreaking. Her only child.  In between small seizures, I said goodbye to him.  No response.  I don't think the soul was in his body anymore.

This has been a real journey for me.  The last several months have brought me a lot of loss, an aspect of my health, my best friend, a lover, and an emotional journey back to a Lakota Sundance in South Dakota.  As the Beetles "Let it Be" blares away, I realize I am learning to let it be.  I feel broken, but I know "This too shall pass".  Accepting life as it is.  Messy and beautiful.  I don't feel like a hero.  Only God was at work there.  I was the tool.   I was not really aware of what was happening until it was over.  On automatic.  As I pickup the pieces and work through the emotions, I am greatful for the gift of life and all the wonderful people and events I have experienced.  Even this one as hard as it is.  I know my life is better and enriched because of it.  I trust in the "Great Mystery" as the Lakota put it.

A special thanks to Lauren Lake, Sean Bradley, Teresa Savarino, Stu Saunders, and David Radin for their roles in helping me to pick up the pieces and heal.  I love you guys.  Thanks to all who have compassionately listened to the story.  Thanks to the other rescuer, the EMTs, and the nurses and doctors at Harborview's MCICU.  Grateful for music that heals.  Just Grateful.

A memorial fund has been set up for Rubin Guehi at https://rubinguehi.com/  Please donate to the fund to help the family with funeral expenses and to take him back to France.

Justice. A deeper reflection into Travon Martin's case.

What is Justice?  Can we bring back a young man who's life ended for no good reason?  No we cannot.  What is done is done.  I wish we could bring him back.  I wish there was no farce of a justice system, that is flawed in that it relies on human perception and judgement.  But I cannot change these things any more than I can change the color of my skin. 

All we can ask of ourselves is how does how I live my life play into this?  Have I unjustly judged someone by the color of their skin, class, sex?  Yes I have.  If I am truly honest with myself, I find that I do this all the time.  Daily.  Unconsciously.  All day long we all make generalizations, stereotypes, and judgements in an attempt to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.  How much of it is true?  How many times have I unjustly judged a rich white person?

Does "winning" a case against George Zimmerman create justice?  Probably not.  He too is also a victim of these snap generalizations that we create in our inner world.  These generalizations lead us to take actions that create reality.

I truely hope in my life time I will see us get to the place where Martin Luther Kings dream unfolds... "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."  May we all begin judging each other by the content of our character.  May we all begin to walk in beauty and awe of the wonderful creation we all are.

Here is a link to my previous post on this topic...  /wanderingmindcalmheart/2012/03/trials-and-tribulations-of-being-young.html

Codependency and abandonment.

After a rough month of self searching, I am coming to realize that I am codependent in relationships.  Some of you who know me well may be saying "duh", but for me this is a new revelation.  I must have been asleep during the lecture on codependency in med school...  I wish someone would have woken me up for that one.  It is easy to walk around saying she (or he) or all girls (all guys), and blame the other for when a relationship does not work out.  Right now I am focusing on my role and patterns in the tango of love.  I am finding that I have some traits that make things not work out.  Such as I tend to abandon myself before others have a chance to.

Thanks to a good friend and a book, I am beginning to see the roots of my pathology in relationships.  The book was "The Human Magnet Syndrome, Why We Love People Who Hurt Us" by Ross Rosenberg.  https://humanmagnetsyndrome.com/  The book was not well written and was quite repetitive.  Also offered no solutions, but was instrumental in helping me understand that there is a problem and I am part of it.  The book describes the relationships between Codependents and Emotional Manipulators (Narcissists), the intense attraction that they have, that burns out into dysfunctionality.  The book also delves into what type of childhood makes a codependent, vs the type of childhood that makes a Narcissist.  It all rang too true.

Here is a article from his website that summarizes it.  http://help4sexaddiction.com/codependency-dont-dance-revised.php

Not all my relationships have had this dynamic, in fact most have been quite healthy.  Nor have I always been codependent, at times I can be a mild narcissist.  Most people and relationships have a bit of both dynamics at times as well to further confuse the situation.  It reminds me of our Psychology class in med school, where as we are going through the DSM IV manual definitions, we realize that we all tend to exhibit most of these "pathologies" at some time.

My recovering perfectionism plays into this in that many codependents have to be the "perfect" child, student, athlete, ect.  Or else they are not worthy of love.  This has gotten me very far in life, but has had a very big cost.  Many codependents tend to be in the healthcare or other "caring" fields such as masseuses or aid workers.  Many codependents fear saying no as it will lead to abandonment.  Of course this fear of abandonment stems from childhood abandonment...

In contrast Emotional Manipulators at the extreme tend to be in marketing, acting, or performers.  It takes a certain amount of self aggrandizement to get on stage and entertain.  Our culture breeds and worships extreme narcissists.  Narcissists tend to have to have all the attention and will dominate conversations.  Extreme Narcissists believe that others exist to take care of them, with no reciprocity required on their part.  Narcissists will have little tolerance for criticism and typically will abandon the codependent if they start asserting their boundaries. 

My natural tendency to want to "fix" everything makes me especially vulnerable to the hooks Narcissists use to emotionally manipulate you back into the situation.  My work is becoming ok with messes that I can't clean up and maintaining my boundaries.  And of course exploring and healing my issues of abandonment.

I found the following article short and helpful in looking at the solutions..  http://mindfulconstruct.com/2010/07/09/end-a-codependent-relationship-the-healthy-way/
I agree with the article when it state that most codependents will finally break free when their anger reaches a breaking point and they cut the cord... (and their friends and family breath a sigh of relief!) The article also has some good ways to end a problematic relationship without perpetuating the codependency.