Thursday, December 28, 2017

A chapter closes

As the tumultuous year of 2017 draws to a close, so too does a further chapter in my acupuncture life, for on 31 December I surrender the lease on the SOFEA clinic at 57 Harley Street and move my practice elsewhere.  For the first time in my acupuncture life I will be renting a clinic room in somebody else’s practice and handing over to others all the administrative work.  This will be a new experience for me, and in some ways brings my acupuncture practice full circle.  When I first qualified, I worked by myself from my own home, and only moved my practice when I started my acupuncture school SOFEA in Camden Town, and realised that it made more sense to practise from there rather than split my practice between home and school.

From that point onwards, for the past 20 more years or so I have had the responsibility of running a group clinic.  For the first 10 years this formed part of the school, and provided a student clinic as well as giving students the opportunity to observe a thriving professional practice at first hand.  The last 10 years started when I closed SOFEA and moved to a clinic in Harley Street with about half a dozen other five element practitioners, doing what I had got used to doing and without really querying whether I still needed to run a group practice.

Having now been forced by circumstances (a steep rise in rent, difficulties with our landlord) to decide whether to move this practice elsewhere or simply just move myself, the decision almost made itself.  It was, I realised, time for me to step back and look after my own needs rather than continually taking on the administrative responsibility for others.  So as of January I will find myself walking to a small clinic not far from my home for the few hours a week I still want to practise, where I will continue to treat my long-standing patients.  It is good that the other Harley Street practitioners have all found clinics close to each other, so that we will continue to nurture a small five element base in central London.

What then will I do with the time I will now have available to do other things?

The New Year, as every New Year should, will bring new challenges with it, and some remnants of things which need to be completed from the old year.  For instance, the draft of my 7th book, A Five Element Legacy, is already with my publishers, Singing Dragon Press, who have promised to get the book published in time for me to take copies with me to Beijing at the end of April.  The translation rights are already being discussed with my Chinese publisher.

Then, as promised by my hosts in Beijing, the translation of what I call my first blog book, On Being a Five Element Acupuncturist, will be ready for distribution to all those attending the seminars we will be holding there at the end of April.  These will now consist of a development on what we have done before.  The Foundation which Professor Liu Lihong has set up has now formed what they call A Project Heritage Programme, which is a three-year course focussing on the legacies of different forms of traditional Chinese medicine and thought, one of which is five element acupuncture.  We will be giving a four-day course as part of this programme, followed by a seminar for our more advanced five element practitioners which continues on from where we left in October.

I have been told by Lynn Yang, who is the brilliant organizer of every minute of our stay and negotiates so smoothly with Singing Dragon Press about the numerous translations now being completed for each of my books, that she intends to get one translation published in time for each of our twice-yearly seminars.  Three have now appeared (The Handbook, the Simple Guide and Patterns of Practice).  Over 25,000 copies of The Handbook have already been sold, and I have just been told that the Chinese publisher is ordering a re-print of The Simple Guide, as they have sold out of the 5,000 copies of the first edition.  The translation of the most precious (to me) of all my books, Keepers of the Soul, is being reserved for Lynn Yang herself, because, as everybody tells me, it is a complex book and requires a serious understanding of my very literary-based English.  It is my favourite book because it expresses, in language I am proud of, the depth of my feeling for the elements and what they represent in terms of human destiny.  Difficult to read it may be, though obviously not to me, but the profound things in life cannot always be shrugged away in simple language.  So I expect it will be long after all my other books have been translated that Lynn will find the time in an extremely busy life (she is the second in command at the Beijing Foundation) to do justice to my works in the way she has told me she thinks fit.  I am very lucky to have found someone so prepared to take the time needed to do this.

Finally, there is one thing hanging over from 2017 which is still very much under discussion, and that is a book I want to write dedicated simply to the elements and to the many tips for learning to recognize them I have devised over the years.  I realise that I have included in each of my books something about the elements, but often it has been interwoven with other topics.  For example, in the Handbook it takes second place to the practicalities of being a five element acupuncturist, and in my other books I often concentrate upon aspects such as practitioner qualities.  Recently I looked through my blogs and realised that that they contained many useful tips dotted here and there which could well be drawn together to form a more complete picture.

My lovely publisher, Jessica Kingsley of Singing Dragon Press, has sadly just announced her retirement.  In my email to her thanking her for what she had personally done to get my books published (and as she told me, saved me all the trouble of packing books up and traipsing to the Post Office to send them off, as I used to do when I first self-published my books), I tentatively asked her whether, as a farewell to her as she leaves, she would consider commissioning this, my eighth book.  She will let me know in the New Year, but the possibility that she might agree has spurred me on to look at the elements with a fresh eye.  This is therefore one piece of unfinished business with which the newly liberated Nora will occupy herself in the New Year.

These are the good things which lighten my mood when I am forced to contemplate the political shambles of 2017, with, I fear, much, much worse to come.  I feel like John Cleese in Fawlty Towers, who had to keep reminding himself not to mention the war.  For me, the red light is “don’t mention Brexit”, or “Trump” – so I won’t, for the moment at least.  I don’t want these two events to spoil my last entry for 2017.

I thank all who have helped me in my acupuncture work over the past year:  Lynn Yang and my lovely group of five element acupuncturists in China, Mei Long who comes with us to China, and above all Guy Caplan, who so stoically stands at my side through thick and thin, both in this country and China, coping with all the necessary chopping and changing my Small Intestine demands of me, as it tries to sort out what is best to do, whilst his Metal would no doubt prefer simply to work things out quietly, make its decision and stick to it.  I am always surprised how well two such different elements combine in our joint work in offering five element acupuncture to the wider world.

A Happy New Year to everybody.  I hope to see some of the readers of this blog at our next seminar on 2 March (

andbook, .  I thank all those.

Friday, December 15, 2017

A little Pre-Christmas serendipity*

A few happy or odd things which I am drawing together into a pre-Christmas blog to cheer myself (and I hope others) up:

First:  An article in today’s Guardian newspaper with the heading:  After this week, I no longer see Brexit as unstoppable”  (Hoorah, I said to myself)

Second: A lovely quotation about growing old by an American poet I have only just heard about, called Jorie Graham:

"You have to be ready for the late work.  Make sure you develop a toolkit that's wide enough for every middle stage and especially for the end...

I am living in the late season, but it has its songs, too”

 I like to think that I, too, am living in my late season, and I hope that my late season “has its songs, too”.

Third:  (and a most stupid, and therefore laughably funny advert, noticed on an estate agent’s window):  Find your happy”, it said.

Who on earth came up with this ridiculous wording?  Find your happy what?”  If it had said something like “Find your happy home”, that would have been a bit more understandable, although not very much so, but as it is, it has puzzled me every time I pass the estate agent on the bus, as I do nearly every day.  I wondered whether I should go in and ask them to explain what the advert means, but then decided there are more important things to do with my time.

*Dictionary definition:  The faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident.