ONWARD.

Moving is part of life.

 

Rivers run downstream, oceans tides shift based on the location of the moon. Our hearts beat in our chest and air flows through our lungs. Movement is necessary for life. Our cells at a microscopic level carry out the tiniest of movements that repair muscle and literally heal us. In fact without movement life would cease to exist.

 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is no different. It’s all about getting things moving. TCM teaches us that the healing comes from bringing qi and blood to an area to facilitate healing. This begs the question: if moving is so good for us and literally gives us life, why does it feel like hard work? Getting off the couch, going for a walk, or even moving on from a good book, all of these things can be hard.

 

We can also look at moving as a fresh start, a new beginning, a chance to move forward and grow. But that doesn’t make it any easier. Putting all of our stuff in boxes and loading it in a truck just to unload it 2 miles down the road. It feels exhausting and daunting. Then we must rearrange all of the items we have moved. Once the dust settles and the moving is complete we slowly forget the pain of the process. It’s what I can only imagine it’s like for a mother after she delivers a baby, the pain vanishes at the sight of new life. We forget how much moving sucks until we are in the middle of it and then when we see the rewards of our labor -  it’s all worth it.

 

"For now I put those great memories of my first practice in a little box and I will carry them with me imprinted on my heart forever." 

 
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I never thought I would be here. Two years ago when Avenue Acupuncture opened, I could have never predicted the success and growth. It was a well-laid plan fueled by hopes and dreams. At times I seemingly have to pinch myself. Is this real life? Do I really have so many patients to care for? How wonderful this journey has been and truly I am just getting started. Onward I go to a new space, one I hope will hold as many dear memories as the one I leave behind.

 

Life is about change. Regardless of the circumstances, change is a constant. You can choose to embrace it, or you can go kicking and screaming, but change is inevitable. As I reflect on my practice and the last two years, I feel a sense of appreciation, gratitude, and wonder. How did it all happen like this? Looking back it feels like beautiful pieces of the great cosmic puzzle aligned to unite me with so many of my patients. I know my new space will allow me to continue to be part of your journey to health and healing.

 

For now I put those great memories of my first practice in a little box and I will carry them with me imprinted on my heart forever. This was where the dream started and I will always remember that. The next chapter is upon us, for now I put the bookmark in to take some time to rest up before we start the next chapter.

 

As always I close with gratitude. Thank you to my patients, to my family, and to my friends. The next chapter will be sweeter with all of you in it!

 
 

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Shout out and special thanks to Morgan Gordon - shadow writer, photographer, manager, mover & sister extraordinaire 

...without whom I could not make it through this life <3

Antiperspirant vs. Deodorant: Don't Pity Your Pits!

As an acupuncturist, I’ve come to know a few things about how to treat my body. I’ve learned that it’s never a good idea to suppress my natural body processes. For example, whenever I get a headache, it is never my knee jerk reaction to pop some ibuprofen. I’ve learned that there are simple acupressure points I can press in order to help alleviate the symptoms. Additionally, using hormonal birth controls to suppress my body’s natural menstrual cycle is a no-no for me. ANY action taken in order to suppress the functioning of the body’s natural state of being may have serious consequences. These consequences may not be immediate, however, it’s important to start linking these small behaviors to how they affect the body – not how convenient our lives are now that we can get rid of sickness immediately and plan for our periods. This is especially the case with armpit care!

Why is antiperspirant bad?

Next time you’re in the grocery store, take a look in the deodorant isle. Make sure you bring a tiny magnifying glass. The majority of the products are called “antiperspirant deodorants,” which means just that – they stop you from underarm sweating. What could be more undesirable than sweating profusely from your armpits…I can think of a few things – illness being one of them. Also, check out the warning label. Did you know you’re recommended to speak with a doctor before using an antiperspirant?

Clogging and/or shrinking the pores in your pits creates a build up of toxins, which would generally be excreted in your sweat, however, are now trapped. Many of these products are made with aluminum, which (although effective in helping to stop underarm sweating) has also been shown to cause DNA mutation – a requisite for uncontrolled cell growth [i.e.: possibly pre-cancerous cells!]. Now a days, there have been many studies linking antiperspirant to breast cancer in woman. Another startling fact – 60% of breast cancer tumors are found in the axilla, aka: the ARMPIT! It is mainstream now – for women who have breast cancer or are getting a mastectomies to refrain from using antiperspirant (DOCTOR’S ORDERS!), however, I pose an important question. Why stop using a product that may cause cancer after being diagnosed with cancer? What ever happened to preventative medicine?

What is the difference between antiperspirant and deodorant?

Deodorants don’t actually stop underarm sweating; they combat the stench when you do sweat. In order to understand this further – a quick anatomy lesson on armpits is necessary. After puberty, there are two types of glands found abundantly in the armpit – eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine glands are responsible for “cooling” the body down via perspiration. This sweat is not responsible for foul underarm odor; it is mainly water and salt. Apocrine glands produce foul odors because they carry fat, protein, and sweat to the surface of the skin, which interacts with bacteria on the armpit surface and viola: body odor. Deodorants are not made of compounds to stop underarm sweating, conversely they contain products that combat the bacteria found in the armpit – cutting down its ability to mingle with the fat, protein, and sweat excreted by apocrine glands and therefore, no stench is produced.

Do I have to stink?

Making the switch from antiperspirant to deodorant is no easy task. The first thing to take into consideration while making the switch is – YOU WILL STINK HORRIFICALLY for at least the first 3-5 days. Why? When your glands and pores finally begin to unclog and function properly, there is a transition period where the build up of toxins are released – causing a spike in body odor. The good news – this too shall pass.

I decided to make the switch from antiperspirant to deodorant about three years ago and am happy with the overall decision. The first challenge was finding a reliable deodorant – one that was neither gel based nor filled with other chemicals such as synthetic colors. I asked around and found a recipe that is all-natural and organic. Ingredients include: cold pressed organic coconut oil, arrowroot powder, naturally procured (mined instead of chemically created) baking soda, neem oil, mango or shea butter, lime essential oil, tea tree essential oil, sweet orange essential oil, and a small amount of beeswax to help the cream retain its consistency. Many of these ingredients are naturally antibacterial, healing, refreshing and smell absolutely delicious!

Ingredients to avoid!

If you do not want to go the “crunchy way” and are looking for a product available in grocery stores (they are very limited!), here is a list of ingredients to avoid:

  • Propylene Glycol – penetration enhancer that breaks down your skin’s protective barrier to enter your blood stream. This has the potential to bring other harmful chemicals along with it.
  • Fragrance containing phalates – known disruptors in hormone balance – affecting the way estrogen works in the body (for men, women, and children!)
  • Tetrasodium EDTA – made from a toxic salt and known carcinogen: sodium cyanide and formaldehyde.
  • FD&C Yellow and D&C Green – made from coal tar and can be hormone disruptors, skin irritants, and formaldehyde donors.
  • Diazolidinyl Urea – immune system and skin toxin that (in some studies) has been shown to cause cancer (common source: an extract in animal urine – GROSS!)
  • Triethanolamine (TEA) – made from a known carcinogen: ethylene oxide
  • Parabens – hormone disruptors that can cause skin irritation and allergies.
  • Quaternium-15 – formaldehyde containing preservative and known carcinogen.
  • Octoxynol and Nonoxynol – hormone disruptors and should be avoided by children and pregnant women.
  • Triclosan – shown to cause liver damage and hormone disruption.
  • Ceteareth-20 (or 12) used as a thickener: can be contaminated with other carcinogens. Also, a skin irritant, neurotoxin and has been deemed unsafe to use on injured or damaged skin.

Keep in mind, people; healthcare is not really for the healthy – it should be called “sick care!” Think about it: most people don’t go to the doctors until they are sick! Prevention is key and it’s important to use our noggins and treat our bodies with care. Preventing disease is much easier than going through the rigmarole of being treated for a disease after diagnosis!

Happy 18 Month Birthday Avenue Acupuncture!

My name is Morgan, and I have the good fortune of being the twin sister to Danielle Talley, Acupuncturist Extraordinaire.  Over the last 18 months, Danielle has grown her business, Avenue Acupuncture, at a blistering pace. She went from seeing roughly ten patients a week back in September of 2015 to presently treating over 40 a week with a wait-list that is growing by the day. 

This kind of growth does not come from dumb luck or even smart luck. Rather, Danielle has skills that reach beyond inserting needles at the right spot. My sister would call herself a vehicle for the medicine, saying “It’s not me, it’s the medicine,” but she is only half right. Chinese medicine is amazing and to us Western medicine folks, it is also kind of like magic. You place a needle the width of a human hair in my ear, and my stomach feels better? What?! Magic!! In all seriousness, though, Danielle is sharing Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with the North Country and let me tell you, the North Country loves it.

As I reflect on the success of the practice a few thoughts cross my mind. As Danielle’s publicist, bookkeeper, PR person, Sales & Marketing person and sister I would like to be able to take some small credit for her success but truly I cannot. She has done the work that has allowed her to complete over two thousand treatments. If you have ever met Danielle then you know her demeanor is such that it allows her to bring both tough love (stop eating junk food that makes you feel sick) and at the same time empathy (I’m sorry you are feeling sick, let me try to help you). However, Danielle has other skills that set her apart. She takes the time to educate her patients on the medicine, and she takes her time with each appointment. Each treatment is tailored to individual needs on that day which means the treatment could be different every time for every person. She takes detailed notes so she can track her cases and ensure progress with each patient. 

Her practice is holistic in the sense that she looks at the body completely. She looks for the root cause of the problem and not just at the symptoms. Sometimes this can be a challenge especially, with a chronic condition.  She explained it to me once by describing it as a stream. Think about how a blockage upstream can cause the stream to stop running. We have to identify the root cause of the blockage. It makes complete sense when you shift your mindset from a more symptom-based Western medicine approach. Western medicine absolutely has its place - you would never visit Danielle for a compound fracture or a ruptured appendix as she would not have the tools to support that type of medical issue. However, post-surgery she could apply techniques to help increase blood flow and accelerate healing time. The two types of medicine work together in harmony.  

Danielle has shared some remarkable patient success stories with me. She has had infertility cases achieve pregnancy, she has been a key contributor to jump-starting labor in overdue pregnancies, and even more remarkable, Danielle has helped restore clear hearing to a patient with an unexplained ringing in the ear! She has successfully helped dozens of patients achieve significantly reduced pain and overall improved well-being.

I am a patient of Danielle’s (I would assume her least favorite one because she has taught me so much that I think I know how to treat myself – so that you know, I do not). She calls this patient-directed care, which in my case is sort of like thinking I can drive a tractor trailer just by watching some else drive one (so that you know, I also cannot do that). She makes sure to tough love me into remembering I did not study Chinese Medicine for three years (including an internship in China) and I am not qualified to self-diagnosis. 

Acupuncture has changed my life. With Danielle's help, guidance, and care I was able to stop taking a medication I was on for 9 years which was a huge accomplishment. My digestive issues and chronic headaches have also dramatically reduced with a combination of acupuncture and herbs. Finally, and most importantly she has taught me the value of self-care.

As much as we want to care for everyone else in our lives, we must care for ourselves first. Whether you are the tired mom that hasn’t slept for years or whether you are the busy professional that puts work first always, you need to care for you first. For me, sometimes self-care comes in last, after work, walking the dogs, cleaning the house and just about anything else. Ok, so it pretty much always comes in last.

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It’s hard for me to look in a mirror and ask myself, “Hey Morgan, what do you need?” It some cases, it makes us feel guilty, or maybe we truly don’t like what we see in the mirror. Maybe we don’t want to give up chips or soda or beer. I get that, but if TCM and Danielle have taught me anything, it’s that you will not get better without adjusting course. Your actions contribute to your overall well-being, so sometimes you have to turn that ship around. The more open minded you are about changing course, the more successful a new type of medicine may be for you.

Whether you are reading this as an enthusiastic patient of Danielle’s or newcomer to Chinese Medicine, I invite you all to step back, reflect and open your mind to the possibilities that Chinese Medicine can add to your self-care routine. Lastly, huge congratulations to my baby sister (yes, by 6 minutes!) on the early success of your business, I have, without a doubt, hit the sister lottery!

Morgan Gordon

Vice President of Sales & Marketing

Avenue Acupuncture

Follow-Up Interview with Modern Acupuncture


I had the pleasure of doing a follow up interview Michelle Grasek, author of Modern Acupuncture! Here I talk about my experience so far in private practice!

Full link: Acupuncture Student to New Practitioner

“Today I’m excited to chat with acupuncturist Danielle Dupell about her first year out in practice. Danielle  graduated in 2015 from Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture in Seneca Falls, NY. I interviewed Danielle when she was a third year acupuncture student, and I’m so excited to follow up with her now that she’s in practice. (Check out Danielle’s initial interview as a student here!)

Danielle opened Avenue Acupuncture in  her hometown of Plattsburgh, New York right after graduating with her Master’s of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine degree (MSAOM) in August 2015. Avenue Acupuncture is a bustling practice located in the ADK Wellness Alliance. In her free time Danielle enjoys cooking, exercising, reading, and spending quality time with her family.

Today Danielle shares with us:

  1. Which marketing efforts have worked for her so far, and which ones haven’t?
  2. Danielle’s top advice for current students.
  3. What one thing would Danielle do differently if she could start her practice over again?

(All photos were taken by Morgan Gordon and edited by James Montefuesco.)

HI DANIELLE! THANKS SO MUCH FOR COMING BACK TO MODERN ACUPUNCTURE FOR A FOLLOW-UP INTERVIEW. LAST TIME WE TALKED, YOU WERE AN 8TH TRIMESTER (THIRD YEAR) ACUPUNCTURE STUDENT AT FLSAOM  WITH ONE SEMESTER LEFT BEFORE GRADUATION. YOU GRADUATED LAST SUMMER, IN AUGUST OF 2015, AND HAVE BEEN IN PRIVATE PRACTICE FOR ABOUT SIX MONTHS NOW. HOW DOES IT FEEL?

It feels absolutely amazing to be out in the real world in private practice. Seriously, school was a very difficult chapter in my life. I am happy that I’m done with school and actually out practicing. I’ve come to realize just how important it is to get a quality education as an acupuncturist. I realized quickly that FLSAOM has given me all the clinical tools I need to succeed and be a quality practitioner.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PRACTICE FOR US?

My practice is a small one in a very busy massage therapy clinic. I have two treatment rooms, a small office space, shared waiting room and shared bathroom. I am located in downtown Plattsburgh, New York (basically the most northern point in New York State without reaching Canada).

Currently I work five days per week and I am seeing 20-25 patients per week. This doesn’t quite equal five patients per day because I tend to be busier in the beginning part of the week. The most patients I’ll take in a day is eight to nine. Anything more than that tends to feel a little overwhelming. This amount of patients feels like a good number for me; I am able to pay my bills and still save a little bit of money.

I also don’t feel too overwhelmed although some days do feel slow. Sometimes (as strange as it sounds) I am thankful for those days because private practice involves a lot of other work besides treating patients. It’s nice to have that downtime to keep up with my books, order supplies, do research on cases, etc.

IN OUR INITIAL INTERVIEW, YOU MENTIONED THAT YOU WERE WORRIED ABOUT RUNNING A BUSINESS. YOU SAID THAT IT MIGHT BE A CHALLENGE TO GET INTO THE ENTREPRENEURIAL MINDSET. HOW IS THAT ASPECT OF PRACTICING ACUPUNCTURE GOING FOR YOU?

That part of practice is my least favorite. I’m definitely growing myself in that aspect though. I truly underestimated the amount of work it would be to start and run my own practice. It’s super rewarding and lovely to not work for “the man,” but truly my patients are my bosses.

It’s lovely to call the shots, but there’s a lot of extra work when it comes to running a business. At times, I feel like I’m stumbling through the “firsts” of doing things. For example, the first time I had to file my quarterly income and sales tax, I fumbled for sure. There is a learning curve overall, but I’m super proud of myself.

DO YOU USE A PRACTICE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE? PROS AND CONS? COST?

Good practice management software is key. I cannot imagine my life without it, to be honest. I use Unified Practice and Quickbooks Online. Unified Practice is a smaller company based out of California and New York City. They are useful for practice management and electronic charting.

United Practice has an iPad app for charting that is specific to acupuncturists. I’m so happy I took the plunge with them. I have the ability to utilize online scheduling which is a godsend for me. Since I’m a sole practitioner who does everything, including scheduling and reminders, this has saved me so much time, energy, and effort. In addition they have excellent and prompt support who know me by name and help as best they can! Their software is very easy to use.

I also decided to invest in Quickbooks Online because I needed some further organization. With Quickbooks, I can easily track sales and expenses. I can file taxes much easier, keep inventory, and generate various reports such as profit and loss. My total cost for both of these is roughly $65 per month. (This is about the price just of just ONE patient appointment.) Highly worth it for me. In the grand scheme of things, both of these are a must for someone who is apprehensive about organization or keeping everything straight.

DO YOU TAKE INSURANCE? HOW DO YOU STAY ORGANIZED WITH YOUR INSURANCE BILLING?

I do not outright take insurance. I supply my patients with a superbill, which has all the necessary information for the patient to submit the insurance claim themselves. Since insurances are so variable, I decided that it would be more cost effective for me to run a cash practice. I don’t have the extra income at the moment to hire someone to do my billing. Maybe in the future, if I become busier, I would consider hiring a front desk person to help me.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF BEING IN PRACTICE SO FAR?

I just love what I do! I love making people feel better. Sadly, oftentimes people seek out acupuncture after trying every other therapy imaginable. It is frustrating at times for me as a practitioner since I do know that I could probably make a more substantial difference if I saw that person years prior, but even if I can make some difference to someone who is suffering, it’s very rewarding. I also can’t lie about the fact that it’s nice to finally be making a living!

LEAST FAVORITE?

My least favorite part is surely the administrative part of things. I sometimes find myself in a pickle trying to be organized. While I do strive to be better each day, it’s still not something that I love. Luckily these days, there are good technological options out there to help. I love being a clinician and diagnostician, so I will do whatever it takes to do what I really love. Unfortunately for me, that does mean struggling through some occasional paperwork.

YOU ALSO MENTIONED IN OUR PREVIOUS INTERVIEW THAT YOU HOPED TO FIND A MENTOR AFTER GRADUATION. WERE YOU ABLE TO FIND SOMEONE? HOW DOES THAT RELATIONSHIP WORK? WHAT KINDS OF DISCUSSIONS DO YOU BRING TO HER/HIM?

Yes, I have many mentors. Mostly they are professors of mine from school, but also older students, and even students that I graduated with who are now colleagues of mine. I reach out to them via phone or e-mail when I have questions. It’s important to have honest people who will help at a moment’s notice. I ask them all kinds of questions, especially questions about business or their clinical thoughts on a case and how to proceed. Off the top of my head I have about five people that I could reach out to if I need support. It’s important to recognize that while I don’t have all the answers, I do have tools to find answers when I need them.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ACUPUNCTURE STUDENTS WHO ARE IN THEIR THIRD YEAR OR ABOUT TO GRADUATE?

I would say to work on your business plan and ask tons of questions in your last year. Overall, my education was very clinically based, not super heavy in the business aspect in the grand scheme of things. It’s always easier to ask questions when you are around your professors. Do as much as you possibly can while in school and you have many people to support you and give you feedback. I also advise third year students to do research on the place they are setting up a practice. Make sure you set yourself up to succeed. It takes a lot of legwork, but it’s always better to go in with an idea of what you’re getting yourself into.

SO FAR, WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST IMPORTANT OR RELEVANT PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED ABOUT RUNNING A BUSINESS?

The most relevant thing someone told me was to make sure to put myself out there, network, and do trades with other practitioners. I started doing trades with massage therapists, chiropractors, and mainly anyone who will trade with me. Not only do I get a chance to find out what services they offer and how to refer to them, but it also helps them understand better what I do. It seems like a win-win.

The other important piece of advice is to not get too cranked up or worried about making rent or paying your bills (to the point where it starts to interfere with your practice). While, of course, those things are super important. Slow times are bound to happen. But it doesn’t mean you are going out of business. This is just the natural ebb and flow in business.

WHAT IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE MARKETING TACTIC YOU’VE USED SO FAR IN YOUR PRACTICE?

The most effective marketing tactic I’ve used is to just do good work. Plattsburgh is very word of mouth-oriented. People here talk a lot and if you do good work and are getting good results, my experience is they will talk to other people for you!

Another tactic is to not be afraid to ask your patients to write testimonials. Those who are skeptical or thinking about trying out your services want to hear from other people that you are a good practitioner.

In addition, don’t be afraid to educate your patients. I try to educate my patients as they are getting treated. This makes them slightly more knowledgeable about what I do and better able to talk about my services to others.

LEAST EFFECTIVE?

Google Adwords. I always ask where my patients have heard about me. Most are referrals, some from social media, but I have only received one patient who said they saw my Google ad. I think that may be just the area I’m in; when people are looking for quality service, they ask their friends, not Google.

ANY BIG PLANS COMING UP FOR YOU? CHANGES IN PRACTICE LOCATION, OPENING ANOTHER OFFICE, ETC.?

A couple people have offered me office space. Mostly, I think they are interested in adding acupuncture to their existing businesses and offering a different service to their patients. As of right now, I’ve decided that I’m staying put. I don’t have anything to complain about. I’m currently running a decently busy practice with just one location. Plus, I love this studio space! I enjoy being here. I’m not sure what will happen in the future, but I’m staying put for now!

WHAT WOULD YOUR DREAM PRACTICE LOOK LIKE? OR, WHAT WILL YOUR PRACTICE LOOK LIKE ONCE YOU’VE “MADE IT?”

I kind of feel like I have already “made it!” In terms of looking forward, I’m not sure, but currently I’m taking things day by day right now. I think that it would be nice to be consistently at 25-40 patients per week. Other than that, who knows! We will see what the future has in store for me!

IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME AND DO ONE THING DIFFERENTLY IN OPENING YOUR PRACTICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I would have done more in school. I would not have underestimated the amount of time and work it would take to get my practice off the ground. I would have said to my previous self: “Self, it doesn’t get any easier, it just gets different. Opening this business will be very difficult and time consuming but you will do it – and be successful!”

ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?

Self-care is really important! Don’t think that just because you’re busy, you can’t take time for yourself. I would encourage anyone who is in a medical or service industry to take the time to care for yourself. For me, that means weekly to bi-weekly massages and regular chiropractic appointments. It’s not selfish because you cannot pour from an empty cup! It will essentially make you a better practitioner with a better ability and more space for other people’s suffering.

Thank you Danielle! I hope new and seasoned practitioners alike are inspired by your good advice and how far your practice has come in such a short time.

Hopefully all the students reading this will take your suggestions to heart and start thinking about the future of their practices now, instead of waiting. I personally agree with you; it’s never too soon to start planning for your practice, and your future self will thank you for being so proactive!”