What next?

(A summary first, for those who don't have time to read the whole thing: 
I finish my herbal apprenticeship in December, and am considering next steps. I am currently considering two possibilities: (1) massage school (2) graduate school studies in clinical somatic-psychology. What do you think about these ideas? Do you have other ideas? I want to continue my healthcare studies, and integrate my previous studies. Do you have suggestions for good schools? Do you know someone I can talk with about these fields? Have scholarship ideas? THANKS!) 
Love, Jiling
for my Chinese friends (English folks, you can skip this part): 
(念中文的朋友, 你們好!我學期快結束了。我在考錄下一步做什麼。 我想要繼續學治療技術。 有一天, 我想要住在小城外, 森林中或山上, 做某一種治療師和老師。 我現在在考錄學按摩(便按摩師,六個月的課程)或是去研究所學心理學(2-3年)。 你有什麼想法? 感恩) 
and now, for the long English version... 

Dear friends, 

I hope that this autumn Harvest Moon finds you happy, healthy, and thriving on all levels. Happy Moon Festival! 

It's been a while since my last email-update. I've been busy here in Ithaca studying herbal medicine with 7song (we work 6 days a week). (I am learning so much!) My apprenticeship finishes in December. I want to continue my studies. I am considering my next steps. I value your experiences and thoughts, and would love to hear your ideas and input! 

I want to continue my healthcare-related studies to help people lead healthy happy lives. And, I'm aiming toward (finally) settling down (where?) and creating a home (somewhere fitting)... which means, 
finding/creating a job/lifestyle that supports me financially/otherwise, effectively utilizes my innate/developing gifts/skills, and gives back to my community.  (Got ideas?) (Longterm Home ideas are also appreciated)

I also want to put the herbal/clinical knowledge and skills that I've learned this year into practice. I'm unsure what form that will take. 

I will continue teaching yoga and continuing running that thread as well. 

And, dancing. 

Now, the questions of where to, and what next. 

We just returned from our final fieldtrip of the year, to Equinox Botanicals in Ohio, a gorgeous herbal farm, neighboring a rare plants sanctuary. I'm super inspired right now (from this farm, and various other amazing places I've seen around the USA and Asia), to one day create a solid home somewhere on the edge of a progressive town and surrounded by forest or mountain... and cultivate longterm relationships with local plants and people. I would love to teach, and have a clinical practice too. 

Some possible next steps for me: 

Massage school. I am currently looking into the Arizona School of Integrated Studies (ASIS) and/or the Finger Lakes School of Massage (FLSM- in Ithaca, NY). I've been inspired by all the various massage therapists I've lived/worked/played with through the years, and have been contemplating this for a while. I But, I am unsure about whether my wrist would be an impediment to this work. I wonder about the long-term implications of working as a massage practitioner, on my own body. I wonder about practicing massage in Taiwan, too. (I would love to spend at least a month each year in Taiwan.) 

- Graduate school for somatic psychology. But, I am worried about the cost of going to school, and wonder whether I can really commit to school for 2-3 solid years. I don't like the idea of taking out loans. Know any schools with clinical psychology (preferably integrative/ alternative/ somatic) programs that have teaching assistantship, research, or other work-study/scholarship options? 

- Another school for studying herbal medicine? But I wonder about the receptivity to herbal medicine here in the USA, and know that it's difficult to make a living as an herbalist. I would prefer to have something more solid/accepted as my primary form of work, and weave herbalism into that. 

Acupuncture school? I keep going back to that idea but am primarily unsure, because I have bad memory and know that I would really struggle with memorizing all the necessary things to know for Chinese medicine. Also, I personally do not enjoy needles places into my body. But, I find it effective for other people, and am fascinated by it. 

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing your input! 
Enjoy the autumn. 
Oh, and I would love to hear your life updates as well. 


PS- And now for some freeform thoughts (aka. stream of consciousness- read or not... doesn't matter. I have too many thoughts, and here's some): 
- My climbing accident in 2006 really changed my life. I live with physical pain. It's a teacher, and indicator. After my second wrist surgery, the most helpful treatments have been herbal medicine and massage. That's partly why I studied herbal medicine this year. After experimenting with so many different healthcare modalities after my surgery, I came to realize that there is no "best" modality. What's best is for me to study and work with what works best for me, and what I personally just like best. Thus, herbs! I am considering massage as my next course of studies, partially because it was so helpful to me after my surgery. And why psychology? Because our minds are so complex and fascinating, and I want to better understand myself and others too, to know how to help best. 
- I've been exposed to a variety of clinics by now. Most colorfully coming to mind are these: the mobile clinic in the Himalayan villages with homeopathic doctor Spero sitting on the dirt floor surrounded by super tanned mountain folk with a variety of ailments; the acupuncture clinic of the old medicine woman in Kathmandu, Nepal with all tables filled with needled patients; my acupuncture teacher Zeng's backroom clinic with two tables always with patients and surrounded by students with notebooks; 7song's free clinic here in Ithaca, the little pink room with glass bottles of tinctures and plastic bags filled with dried herbs one patient at a time with our full attention; the hospitals with their white walls and stressed out staff; the big tarp shelter clinic at the Rainbow Gathering this year with dirty barefoot hurt people walking in; Teacher Wu's energy medicine chigong clinic in the middle of metropolitan Taichung with the constant drone of humming cupping pumps and people sitting around stuck full of needles and light night dancing chigong practice, energy work practitioner with arms weaving over rows of people lying on the ground; my friend and teacher Tofu's beautiful mountain clinic in the middle of his small but cute Taiwan home with his efficient herbal-needling-bodywork integrative techniques; Teacher Huang's two story Chinese medicine treatment center with clinic on the main floor and the biggest apothecary I've yet seen in the base floor... and on and on... not making a point about anything here. Just, filled with thoughts, inspiration, and gratitude. 

PPS- I haven't talked about it in this email, but you can read about it in my blog. Herb school this year has been amazing. I am learning so much about plant medicine, botany, the human body, clinical skills, etc. It's my first time in such a long focused program since college (8 years back), and I am adoring it. Thus, my desire for continued education. I will write more about herb school at some other point, but really I don't think I can sum it up. I've been trying to write weekly... now changed to monthly... in my blog, about what I am learning. Check it out, if you're interested! Pretty blog pictures, too. And now, back to autumn harvests. :) Be well! 

(photos of transition: (1) caterpillar crossing the road in Ohio (2) waxing moon, view from Ohio (3) one of my favorite mushroom friends in the forest, bursting free of the tree roots in front of my cabin door)