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Curves and Transitions

by Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM

Curves and Transitions, Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM in Davis, CA


Fall is a time of transitions. Summer ends, school begins, weather fluctuates from crazy hot to cool, and leaves start falling from trees. Sometimes all the transitions come at once and it can feel overwhelming.

The last two years have held a number of transitions for me.  My best friend moved across the country, my father-in-law had a stroke on Labor Day two years ago and passed away six months later, my dog developed lymphoma and died, my older son moved far away from the area, and my daughter moved back home.

Transitions, to me, are like curves in the road.  Unlike a straight path where we can see what’s coming up ahead of us, curves in the road hide the future from us, and sometimes they throw us for a loop.

When I was in acupuncture school, I used to commute back and forth between San Jose and Santa Cruz on Highway 17, a curvy highway that runs through the Santa Cruz Mountains.  It’s a beautiful highway, with redwood trees and rock walls (or cliffs!) on the sides of the road. Because it is often foggy or dark, there is a section where headlights are required. I would often come suddenly across large trucks moving very slowly up the mountain as I rounded a corner.

When you are familiar with the road you are taking, even if it has a lot of curves in it, the path does become easier.  You can anticipate when you need to slow down and when you can go faster, when to move over and when you might come across obstacles.  Highway 17 is where I really learned how to drive; to watch and move with the flow of cars switching lanes and going around the curves.

How do you drive when taking a curve in the road? Do you speed up? Slow down? I need to slow down and focus my attention so that I don’t spin out of control. And I need to lean into the curves. Changing lanes on a curvy road is easier when I lean into the curve, rather than try to move away from it.

The same is true with transitions. A time of transition also requires me to slow down and focus my attention on what is needed next. And just like a curve in the road, I can’t always see what’s coming up around the corner. If I take the curve too quickly, I don’t have time to react if there is an accident or something unexpected in the road.

Unlike doing something from muscle memory, doing something new takes attention and more effort .  The neural pathways are not yet grooves in the road, so to speak.

Because life transitions take so much energy, it can be valuable to ask yourself some questions each day:

  • What am I doing each day that nourishes me? Am I eating foods that sustain me or, am I living off of caffeine and sugar for a quick energy fix?
  • Am I getting sufficient sleep or rest? How can I get in bed earlier or squeeze in a nap?
  • Am I breathing? Am I doing exercise I enjoy?
  • Times of transition are when support is needed the most. Who or what is supporting me?

In addition to nourishing foods, restorative sleep, and enjoyable exercise, I invite you to add regular acupuncture treatment and Chinese herbs to your self-care practice as you navigate transitions in your life this fall.


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