What would drive a person to stick needles in other people?
You might assume that I grew up meditating on a mountain in China, or doing yoga in an ashram for the past 35 years, but you’d be wrong. I grew up eating fast food and ham hocks in a small town in southeastern North Carolina, and Subway sandwiches were considered a health food. It didn’t get much better from there. I managed to subsist on pizza, falafel, and French cigarettes from age eighteen to twenty-six before I had a quarter life crisis in New York City.
Working in reality television and independent film sounded a lot more glamorous than it turned out to be. I worked hard, and played harder. My body was falling apart. My amazing doctor tried to help, but he didn’t have many tools to help manage my stress, anxiety, or skin issues, so I tried acupuncture and Chinese medicine. It changed everything for me.
Did you abandon your glamorous life to study in China then?
Not exactly. I continued on my career path for a while, knowing that as soon as I discovered my calling I would jump ship. But then my grandmother became ill. I was lucky enough to join her in North Carolina for her final weeks. She spent her final fifteen years in excruciating back pain. Pain medications helped at first, but as they gradually lost their effectiveness and the dosages increased, her personality changed before my eyes. Gone was the happy, hilarious woman that taught me how to dance and have fun. It was sad to watch. Eight months after her death, I decided I wanted to help people like her deal with pain and stress without becoming dependent on drugs. So yeah, then I jumped ship and moved to Portland for acupuncture school at Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, then to Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in China.
What have you been doing since then?
Practicing! Working with experts to learn how to treat body pain, gynecological issues, mental stress and depression, allergies, and more. Portlandia is a hotbed of natural medicine knowledge, and I was fortunate to work with some true masters.
What do you do when you aren’t sticking needles in people?
I love music, kettlebells, the Real Housewives, boudin, yoga, and going out with my friends. New Orleans has a lot to offer in the nightlife department, if you haven’t heard! I also write reviews of Empire and American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ for a popular culture blog under a pseudonym.
Can we hang out?