Current Journey

"This," Dr Stickley said, brandishing his hands as if holding a needle, "is your magic wand. Your key to the universe. Hold it with care." 

"Qi hua," said Dr Zhu, my fellow student at my new school, "What's that in English?" 
"Qi transformation." 
"Qi transformation. That's the key to this work." With a simple needle, you can affect positive change on at least 60% of your patients. If you do it right, it acts fast."
"Only 60%?" I ask. 
"That's a lot!" he looks at me incredulously, "You are helping a lot of people, especially as you continue in your practice, ten, twenty years from now." 

After needling my patient I sit, mind swirling from all the information I'm re-memorizing for board exams, and divergent information/ inspiration from fellow students, teachers, my own students, experiences, life, the world. 

I feel a stillness like after a storm after I complete a treatment, while waiting for the needles to do their work, before I go in to remove them. 

I remember Dr Stickley's passion, the way his eyes lit up and his hands danced, when he told treatment stories.

I remember Dr Bachelor's sweetness, the way he encouraged us to listen to our intuition first, then logic next during diagnosis, establishing clear internal rapport with myself as compassionate practitioner, and external rapport with patient as a very human human. 

At NUNM, I learned beautiful poetic stories of the great Scholar-Physicians as written by Sun Si Miao, and explained by Dr Wilms. 

I remember walking through rivers in Oregon, and along the Ocean in California, digesting information, flipping through flashcard piles. 

There were tears along this road, and I continue to shed tears: gratitude, frustration, more.

What a journey. 

I'm in the third week of a six month board exam preparation marathon. I feel deeply overwhelmed by the mounds of information I must re-learn, while in awe of the heights and depths of this medicine. I remain curious about where I go from here, while committed to my current journey: pass the Boards. 


Spring Break

We spot birds circling and swarming ahead, and sail that way. Schools of dolphins leap and flash through the water, herding fish into a bait ball. Plume after plume of water sprays high from a humpback whale whose small fin, bumpy back, and elegant tail glides through the water, paralleling our boat. He is magnificent. Sea birds wheel overhead, as dolphins leap towards us from every direction. We are caught in an oceanic feeding melee between Ventura Harbor and Santa Cruz Island. We set the boat on neutral, the captain steering every so often to keep out of the whale's way. I am riveted, heart leaping with the dolphins, completely grounded in place even on bumpy water, by the proximity and feeling of the majestic humpback whale.

We'd watched whales from a distance on Oahu, but I don't remember ever being this close to a whale. I felt exhilarated surfing with sea turtles around the island, like touching the divine: I paddle towards a distant wave, only to stop, astounded, as a sea turtle swims straight towards me, cresting the nearest wave. Another had swam below me, earlier. Rainbow colored fish swim around precious coral. My body dips and weaves between ocean, fish, and coral. I am buoyant yet strong, my face goggled and blinking, my first time snorkeling.

I lead climb for the first time, yesterday. Climbing on rock again still feels like a tremendous feat after my 2006 climbing accident: so long ago, and yet forever close to my heart, the surface of my experience, living as a miracle. The rock is sharp, with solid holds, an easy route that we climb over and over again, trying different routes, taking turns leading, familiarizing, enjoying, being. Malibu Creek sings below us. This land is so familiar, beautiful, precious.

It's been an incredible spring break. I am preparing for my final quarter of Chinese medicine graduate school with a handful of exciting new teaching gigs around Ventura, and a packed study schedule for board exams. Everything coalesces now. The sky is a brilliant blue, as storm clouds form on the horizon, and sudden small droplets kiss my bronzed skin. What a very full blessing to be alive. A good journey to here, and a good journey ahead.

Atha yoga anushasanum. Now, the practice of yoga begins.


Herbal Arts series

Deepen your relationship with medicinal plants through complete sensory engagement. Focus connection with one plant each month by drinking tea, making art, and crafting herbal medicines. Learn historical and scientific practices and perspectives, while cultivating experiential intuition. Art processes hone observational and technical skills, and encourage multi-media exploration, through life-drawing, print-making, book-binding, and photography. Creating herbal preparations empowers health resilience. Rotating projects include salves, tinctures, honeys, vinegars, and incense. Take home herbal preparations, art projects, and informed inspiration for optimal life expression, wellness, and thrival.

When: Third Saturdays of each month, 1 to 5 PM.
Where: Vita Art Center
Register: $55/ class via Vita Art Center, or contact me


spring kids' herbs/ yoga classes

Morning sun salutations in Joshua Tree with my favorites: Larrea tridentata (Creosote), big granite slabs, warm sun, smooth wind (actually the wind was a bit much that morning), and my sweetie (sneaky photographer)!

Registration is open for spring kids' herbs/ yoga + food/ fitness classes with me through Hitchcock Children's Center. Fun plants and desert-inspired sun salutations promised, ahead. Sign on up!

Adult herbal classes on the way. Seeking stable venue in Ventura. Stay posted! 


Ode to Tests

I wrote this post almost immediately after my graduation exam. I didn’t know test results yet, but was so adrenaline high from the test, and exhausted after months of preparation, that I had to write something about the process. If you are preparing for a big exam, then I hope that this is helpful for you. (And yes, big relief, I passed.)

Ode to Tests

Clinic entrance exam. Clinic exit exam. Graduation exam. And now, coming up, the California board exam. Then, four national exams (NCCAOM). One exam after another, the never-ending march of terror and exhaustion. I greet you with flashcards and chocolate. For you, dear reader, perchance a fellow student, perchance a curious onlooker, I share these test-tackling strategies that have carried me through, and will hopefully continue to carry me through, to graduation, and subsequent licensure. One small win at a time.

Before the Test

Flashcards. Review daily. Go onto www.quizlet.com and make an account. Plug in small digestible snippets of all collected and pertinent information. Organize into categories. Study by category. Do flashcards everywhere. I studied flashcards while hiking backcountry, flying across the country, soaking in steaming baths. I flipped through 100 flashcards pre-dawn before leaving the bed, 100 more before falling asleep, and in every possible open moment: standing in grocery lines, waiting for gas, and even while stuck in hellish Los Angeles traffic. Practice tests. Practice tables. Get familiar with the material from every direction. Talk about it with everyone. Look up what you don’t know. Make it fun, visual, creative. Color-code. Bring it to life. Spaced repetition, dedication. Set a study plan, and follow through.

The Day Before
No cramming. Your last day of studying is 2 days before test day. After weeks to months of accumulated effort, allow yourself to rest the day before the test. Eat well: healthy whole foods that will energize you all through the next day. Go for a hike. Do what gives you joy. Flip through a few more notes to ease your mind, but remain calm. Before bed, have everything prepared for your test day: clothing, food... everything. Visualize your plans for the whole test. Picture success. Feel it. Sleep early.

Day Of
Stretch in the morning. Eat well. Maintain a relaxed focus. Enter the zone. Get there early. Game on.

During the Test

Food and Drink (this worked at school, but board exams will only allow water)
If the test allows it, then bring ample fuel: relaxing tea for nervousness (Kava, Rose, Passionflower), stimulating tea for the easily bored (Green tea). I had tea bags of both. Coffee or wine for the decadent (I like chocolate covered coffee beans). Chocolate for joy, comfort, and energy. Oranges for an energizing wake-up call. Roasted sweet potatoes for satisfying long-lasting energy. A protein bar to quickly satiate true hunger. Cookies for true decadence. A dropperful of a relaxing or stimulating tincture (relaxing for me) beforehand, to get things started on the right foot. An extra secret squirt into the tea, for extra good luck.

The Test
Start with what you know: I scribble out a few reference tables before starting the test itself. They smile at me with my test and food, helpful for when I get overwhelmed, reminding me of the basics. Flip to the section of the test that is easiest, and finish it. Build confidence. Return to a hard section. Alternate back and forth: build confidence, tackle something challenging. Note the time. Move quickly. Let go, if something is too difficult. Mark the page to return later. Trust intuition: first thought is often correct. Bubble it into the answer sheet. Mark what I’m unsure about, to double check after completing the entire test. Only double check those answers. Onwards.

Get up to to “pee” at least once an hour. Give your brain a break. Pace around in the bathroom or hallway for a little bit. Get some blood flowing into the body and brain. Take a breather. Swing your arms around. Then return to the testing room.

Maintain focus, but rest as needed. Close your eyes. Take slow deep belly-to-chest breaths in and out of the nose. Remind yourself, “It’s okay,” with palms facing up under the table, or pointer finger and thumb meeting in “anjali mudra.” More relaxation for more success. Then, back to it.

After the Test

First, rest. It’s been a journey. Celebrate both wins and losses. Review the test. Learn from mistakes. If there’s more tests on the horizon, then make more flashcards from fresh test material. Re-strategize as necessary. Onwards. 


Other Resources
Here's a podcast on high-level performance under stress, from Scott Weingart.
(image from Scott Weingart)


Crux Yoga

Your crux move is the hardest part of a climb. Hands sweating, feet shaking. Breathe. Stabilize your core. Root down through your feet. Trust your body. Each move, and the space between each move, is deliberate, intentional, precious. Your body is strong, yet relaxed. Toned, yet supple. Send it. 

The devil's in the details. Drop your tailbone. Relax your shoulders. Deepen your breath. Activate through your feet and hands. Root down, to rise up. Move with controlled precision. Return your mind and breath to the present moment. Focus.

Crux yoga prepares you for your crux moves, be they in the gym, on the rocks, or in your life. Find your edges. Meet, explore, and expand them.

Come practice with us at Ventura's Boulderdash climbing gym! 


Past Herbal Classes

Past Herbal Classes

Botanical Medicine

Learn to use the natural medicine chest surrounding you: plant identification, medicine making, edible and medicinal properties and usage, and so much more!

Class info

WHEN: Sundays 6:30-8:30 PM, 9/27 - 11/22 (Level 2 classes)
           Wednesday 6:30-8:30 PM, 10/14 - 11/25 (Level 1 classes)

WHERE: Out on a Whim Farm
COST: sliding scale $30 - $50 per class (pay as you can)
           (Includes tea, samples, projects. Inquire for trades. All welcome.)


(visit www.LinJiling.blogspot.com for more info)


Weekly schedule
(Schedule may change. Please RSVP for an updated schedule)

“Level 2” Herbal Body Systems and Plant Walk classes:
Plant walks every other week: 10/4, 10/18, 11/1, 11/15, 11/22
Lectures every other week:
9/27- herbal energetics
10/11- nervous system herbs
10/25- digestive system herbs
11/8- respiratory system herbs
11/22- herbal first aid

“Level 1” Medicine-Making classes:
10/14- Welcome to Herbalism
10/21- Gathering, Processing, and Storing Plants
10/28- Creating Tea
11/4- Oil Infusions and Salves
11/11- Making Tinctures
11/18- Sweet Medicine
11/25- Incense, Dreaming Herbs, and Flower Essences

more details on the above: 

Autumn 2015 Herbal Classes (level 2) with Jiling

Autumn herbal classes alternate between lecture and field classes.

Lecture classes:
Lecture classes cover a variety of topics, primarily materia medica for different body systems. These classes take place indoors with tea, discussion, and samples. A basic understanding of herbal principles is requested for this class.

Field classes:
Field classes take place outdoors; all are welcome. These classes may include plant walks, botanical field identification, medicine making, sharing herbal projects, and general discussions/ Q+A. Please dress appropriately for walking outdoors, and bring your current herbal projects to share. Please RVSP, as some classes may take place in other locations, and the schedule/ location may shift with the season, and weather.


Jiling’s Herbal Medicine- Making Classes
Come join herbalist Jiling and learn how to make your own herbal home remedies, with the plants that grow around you. Each class includes a tea party, lecture, and demonstration. Students make and take home a useful natural product with recipes, further resources, and an abundance of information and inspiration.

The Classes

Welcome to Herbalism (Oct. 14)
Come experience and experiment with a variety of herbal medicine making techniques and menstruua (solvents). We’ll introduce making teas, tinctures, vinegars, honeys, and oils. Further topics may include preparing salves, sugars, glycerites, flower essences, elixirs, oxymels, incense, and food. Students are invited to bring their favorite preparations, recipes, stories, and more to share after class!

Gathering, Processing, and Storing Plants (Oct. 21)
Once you know what plants do, how do you utilize their resources? We’ll explore some local edible and medicinal wild plants, then discuss ethical wild-crafting tools and techniques, and plant harvesting, processing, and storage methods and considerations.

Creating Tea (Oct. 28)
Teas are an ancient way to ingest plants, which is still ritualized in many traditional cultures. We’ll share a tea ceremony, then prepare teas, infusions, decoctions, and topical tea applications (washes, compresses, poultices, steams, baths). We’ll discuss some local delicious and nourishing plants for tea, then formulate a useful and delicious tea blend.

Oil Infusions and Salves (Nov. 4)
Our skin is the most exposed part of our physical body. We’ll discuss skin-care, and create a luxurious aromatic skin-healing oil infusion and salve.

Making Tinctures (Nov. 11)
Tinctures are plants extracted in alcohol. They’re easy to make, transport, and ingest. We’ll prepare tinctures with fresh, dried, and other plant materials with the folk method, and scientific method. We’ll discuss formulation, cordials, elixirs, and plant actions. Other possible topics include organoleptics, Ayurvedic constitutional evaluation, vitalist energetics, and balancing the five flavors.

Sweet Medicine (Nov. 18)
A spoonful of sugar truly makes the medicine go down. Sweet medicine is often delicious, as well as medicinal. Just don’t eat it all at once! We’ll make honey infusions, syrups, glycerites, and pastilles. Students will bring home a yummy medicinal honey infusion.

Incense, Dreaming Herbs, and Flower Essences (Nov. 25)
Working with plants on a ritualistic or energetic level can complement any self-care or therapeutic practice, and enhance the process of coming to know oneself, in relation with plants. We’ll discuss plant connection exercises, dreaming herbs, the ritual usage of plants, and how to make flower essences. We’ll make an incense blend in class, for students to take home, and continue the journey.


Jiling’s Spring 2015 Herbalism Classes

Come join us for an empowering, informative, and fun herbal workshop series in Bethany, CT this spring, with herbalist Jiling Lin. These classes provide a solid introductory foundation for the vast world of western herbalism, rooted in hands-on medicine making, plant identification, and other practical skills. Students will learn and explore experientially, making an herbal medicine in each class, and gaining useful tools for self, home, and community.  
When: Tuesday nights (6:30- 8:30 PM), and the first Saturday of each month (10 AM- 3 PM).
Come for one, or all, of the classes. Open to everyone.
Where: Out-on-a-Whim Farm
Register: Contact Jiling ---
For more info, visit www.LinJiling.blogspot.com

Tuesday Evening Medicine- Making Classes
When: Tuesdays, 6:30-8:30 PM. March 17 to June 2
Cost: Sliding scale $30-$50 per class.
We’ll share tea, and explore a different topic each week: practical medicine-making skills, formulation, applicable theory, plant identification, local edible and medicinal plants, and more!

Free Tea Party (March 17)
Come join us for a free tea party to welcome the coming spring, and the beginning of a weekly and monthly herbal workshop series! We’ll discuss different approaches to exploring the world of plant medicine, with plenty of open space for collective sharing, asking questions... and savoring samples! Please bring your beautiful self and any interested friends, and a snack to share. Hope to see you there!

Creating Tea (March 24)
Teas are an ancient way to ingest plants, which is still ritualized in many traditional cultures. We’ll share a tea ceremony, then prepare teas, infusions, and decoctions. We’ll discuss ethical wild-crafting tools and techniques, plant drying methods, and storage techniques. We’ll formulate customized relaxing blends for each student, exploring relaxing herbs and nourishing nervines, and how they interact with unique body-types. Other topics we may explore include topical tea applications (washes, compresses, poultices, steams), local delicious and nourishing plants for tea, and powders.

Oil Infusions and Salves (March 31)
Our skin is the most exposed part of our physical body. We’ll discuss skin-care, salve making, oil infusions, formulations, and create a luxurious aromatic skin-healing salve.

Making Tinctures (April 7)
Tinctures are plants extracted in alcohol. They’re easy to make, transport, and ingest. We’ll prepare tinctures with fresh, dried, and other plant materials with the folk method, and scientific method. We’ll discuss formulation, cordials, elixirs, and plant actions. Other possible topics include organoleptics, botany, Ayurvedic constitutional evaluation, vitalist energetics, and holistic health.

Sweet Medicine (April 14)
A spoonful of sugar truly makes the medicine go down. Sweet medicine is often delicious, as well as medicinal. Just don’t eat it all at once! We’ll demonstrate making honey infusions, syrups, glycerites, pastilles, cordials, and elixirs. Students will bring home a yummy medicinal honey infusion.

Aphrodisiacs and Herbal Chocolates (April 21)
Since food is one of our most powerful medicines, let’s begin with dessert. We'll explore aphrodisiac plants, uses, and formulation. Focusing on roses and cacao, we’ll concoct decadent herbal chocolates, and luxurious rose coconut oil.

Incense, Dreaming Herbs, and Flower Essences (April 28)
Working with plants on a ritualistic or energetic level can complement any self-care or therapeutic practice, and enhance the process of coming to know oneself, in relation with plants. We’ll discuss plant connection exercises, dreaming herbs, the ritual usage of plants, and how to make flower essences. We’ll make an incense blend in class, for students to take home, and continue the journey.

Women’s Herbal Circle (May 5)
This class is for the ladies. We’ll discuss dietary, lifestyle, and herbal support for women, and the female reproductive system. I’ll tailor the class to the needs and interests of participants, so please register, and let me know who you are! We’ll formulate a supportive tea for the female system, and create a moon-time medicine kit.

Herbal First Aid (May 12)
Using herbal medicine in acute first aid situations is one of the best ways to learn, through hands-on practice in everyday life. We’ll discuss how to address common first aid concerns with herbs, such as open wounds, infections, digestive disorders, headaches, emotional distress, and more. Students will bring home an herbal medicine to start, or complement, their own herbal first aid kit.

Spring Edibles and Digestive Bitters (May 19)
Many of the first edible plants to rise in the spring are bitter. We’ll discuss the importance of bitters for healthy digestion, identify spring edibles, and make a delicious digestive bitters tinctures blend, and infused vinegars.

Food as Medicine (May 26)
Let thy food be thy medicine... and let thy medicine be thy food! In this fun and delicious class, we’ll demonstrate creative ways to prepare local wild edibles, kitchen herbs, and integrate herbs into food. A few possibilities include making gomasio, pesto, finishing salts, infused oils and vinegars, sauerkraut, tonic soups, adapto-balls, and more!  

Free Tea Party (June 2)
Welcome to another community tea party, now at the culmination of the spring herb classes, where all students are invited to share their herbal projects, experiences, plant stories, and more! I’ll share upcoming summer herb class activities, and some spring treats. Please bring a locally grown or wild-harvested snack to share. Let’s celebrate the abundance of spring, and the upcoming pleasures of summer!

First Saturday Botanical Field Days
When: First Saturdays of each month, 10 AM- 3 PM, April to June
Cost: Sliding scale $65-$85 per class.
Field days include plant walks, medicine-making, and more. We’ll explore field botany, ethical wild-crafting, and land stewardship. Please come prepared to be outdoors, learn, connect, and have fun! Please register in advance, for location and other details.

Plant Identification: Intuition and Observation (April 4)
Understanding botany is essential, for conclusive plant identification and safe/ effective medicine making. This class combines intuition, observation, and science to help newcomers learn practical botany skills. We’ll discuss organoleptics and botany basics, then embark on sensory explorations, and practice “keying out” plants using botany tools and books. We’ll discuss ethical wild-crafting tools and techniques, then make a fresh plant tincture and oil.

Experiencing and Creating Flower Essences (May 2)
Flower essences contain the vibrational essence of the plant. They work with people on a subtle yet powerful energetic level. We’ll connect with plants through field botany and a variety of awareness exercises, make our own flower essence, and experience a variety of plant essences.  

Herbal Medicine Making Intensive (June 6)
Making herbal medicines involves understanding a simple set of techniques, then repeating and adapting them, under a variety of circumstances. We’ll do a plant walk, botanizing along the way, practice plant connection exercises and ethical wild-crafting, then explore a variety of field medicine making skills, including drying methods, plant storage, tinctures, oils, honeys, glycerites, liniments, and vinegars.