Board exam 1

The test was difficult. It was mostly what I'd prepared for, except different diagnostics thrown all together for answer possibilities, and more "treatment plan" type questions than straight "diagnosis" questions.

I cancelled all work and social engagements the week before the test, cycling through old quiz questions on TCMreview.com and reviewing flashcards, honing in on weak spots. Two days before the exam, I took two full-length mock exams on TCMtests.com. The day before the exam, I took a self-constructed mock-exam at the same time as I'd perform the next day, relaxed (surf, hike, do a few more flashcards to ease my mind), ate a delicious nutritious macrobiotic supper, took a walk, took a bath, slept, then woke at 5:30 AM to perform--- and succeed.

I take a break at the half-way mark (50 questions down, 1 hour in) to pee, take some power-poses in the bathroom mirror, and devour a chocolate bar. The two hours fly by. Every time I start sweating or feeling anxious, I stop, take "chin" mudra (connecting my thumb and forefinger), breathe deeply, then proceed. The computer doesn't allow me to cross out answers or highlight important points, so I fill my scratch- paper with small bullets, key points, and doodles. I draw symptoms for complex cases onto a doughy-sticky-figure human body. I draw out complex tongue and pulse diagnoses. I knock off wrong answers on my bullet-points.

My feelings at the end of the test, as I put a hand on my heart, still my breath, then click "next" to complete the exam--- are complex. The screen flashes "pass" and I hold back tears in the quietly clicking testing room. I am beyond words, and still am.

This is the first of five tests, and an auspicious beginning. I am grateful to everyone who made this focus possible, and my studying-process joyful, meaningful:

Ben, for your playfulness, delicious meals, and adventure partnership. My yoga community, who keeps me responsible, sane, and life filled with purposeful sacred embodied play. Cynthia, for reminding me that this testing process is an opportunity for presence, and to enjoy it while I'm here, while honoring Body Wisdom. The Ocean, for cleansing my body, heart, mind, and sinuses. The mountains for grounding and magic. David, Geoff, and Justin for sharing  parallel TCM experiences, and continual inspiration and inquiry. Geoff, for reminding me to "keep swimming." My grandpa from six generations ago, who wrote our family poem that inspires this journey, informs my name and spirit, and infuses my life with love, meaning, excellence, and dedication to lineage. To all my family and friends, and seen and unseen forces. To all my relations. 

Taking the test itself feels like a very solo adventure, like traveling to a new country where I've never been, and know no one, with a mission to "get the treasure--- and bring it home." I've prepared intensely for the mission, but upon landing, it's still a whole new planet. I'm grateful for my large community of support at home. It's nice to be able to leave--- and come back. Next time, the testing process will hopefully be easier, more familiar. Continued dedication (with strategic restful play) until then.

Next tests: September, October, February, May. Thanks for joining my journey.

Big Love.
Deep bow.

(from a journal entry after the NCCAOM Foundations exam, written in the Sespe Wilderness. I went for a short 24-hour backpacking journey the day that I completed the exam.)