This weekend I was blessed to attend a Sundance led by a wonderful Karuk Medicine man named Jack Walking Eagle. While I have spent five years dancing at a Sundance in South Dakota in the past, I have never simply been at a dance where I watched. At first it was hard to attend as it brought up old memories and a strong feeling that I should be out there dancing with the dancers. Then a calm settled over me as I knew that I would need to attend as a watcher for my healing this year.

I have always struggled to explain Sundancing to others as it is unlike anything in our culture. It is a ceremony of gratitude that typically happens in July-August all across the US. Sundancers pray from sun up to sun down for four days with no food or water. During the day there is a special dance done to the beautiful tune of singers and drummers singing traditional songs. Most Sundances stem from the Lakota and other plains tribes. Most of the songs and techniques are Lakota, this may be due to Black Elk’s (Lakota Medicine Man) vision that non natives may be taught these ceremonies. Where as many native tribes did not pass down their ceremonies to non tribal members and as such have died out as those tribes died out. The Sundance is an expression of gratitude for our lives. It is a ceremony to create balance among the masculine and feminine energies and as a thanks for those energies coming together in a multitude of ways to give us life.

This year I watched and was astounded at the level of inner healing I received. My current hang ups and baggage from the past seemed to blow away with the smoke from the sacred chanunpa. I was in awe of the feeling of community and interconnectedness of ourselves with nature and the broader universe. Seeing the milky way splashed across the Northern California night sky was a reminder that we are of stardust. Mostly there was the faint remembrance of what it means to be human again. A different consciousness, a mind quieted from wants and seeking the latest dopamine fix. To not be attached to a device. (Cameras and recording devices are strictly forbidden at a Sundance) To be in the moment and sharing that moment with friends and family.

For more information about Sundances consider reading Michael Hull’s Book “Sundancing: A Spiritual Journey on the Red Road” or come talk to me sometime!

The failure of memories and the healing of The Shadow.

The senate hearings with supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have riveted the nation this week. While watching a particular portion I was triggered. When Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was asked about her memory of the event she testified that it was Brett Kavanaugh and that she could clearly describe the room where it happened. But the rest of the memories of the event were fuzzy. In many cases of sexual assault and rape, this is very true. And it often becomes an issue in prosecuting these cases, especially when there may be no physical evidence and it becomes a “he said, she said” case.

The reason why I was triggered was that I have been troubled by my own lack of clear memories in my own sexual abuse case. Like Dr. Ford, I too can describe the room and location of where I was when both of my abuses occurred. But the rest is rather hazy, not to mention that my age in both instances was below five. The other funny thing about memories is that when we are traumatized we often “block” them, it is a survival mechanism. Years later these memories would come flooding back to me under certain circumstances that triggered the memory. Or when I am extremely relaxed the mind-body can sometimes decide that is a good time to process an old memory and ruin a perfectly good vacation.

I have a hard time even talking about all this, I get sort of a deer in the headlights look that I recognized in Dr. Ford during her testimony. For me writing has always been my liberator. The words flow out onto this blog somewhat effortlessly. I typically can’t sleep when I am to process something by writing and so here we are again at 4am wearing out the keys on my 2011 MacBook Pro.

Oddly enough, prior to all this I was heavily researching the prosecution (or lack of) of sexual assault cases. I ended up reading a number of books and articles on the topic. The most accessible of which for the lay reader would be Jon Krakaur’s book “Missoula”. In the book Krakaur lays out several cases of rape in Missoula, Montana that the college there. As you read the book you learn why some cases are not prosecuted especially when there is gaps in memory and lack of physical evidence. Like all Krakaur books, it is an excellent and riveting read. For the more technical reader here is a good paper on the topic. For childhood sexual abuse victim there are some differences in encoding and recall of certain types of memory, here is a paper on the topic.

Typically like many victims of sexual abuse I freeze when triggered and will often not even be able to cognitively link what just happened to abuse that happened thirty five years ago. In my own research on the topic there is very little written on the topic of males abused by a female perpetrator. One only has to open the news to read all about male perpetrators of abuse. I did run across one paper on the topic of female perpetrators and found some interesting things to be true in my own case. Such as: female perpetrators will almost always choose young prepubescent victims, around 21% of childhood sexual abuse cases are female perpetrated, the perpetrators tend to be younger in age, and are less likely to use violence or force.

Last month I was in a Zen meditation retreat called a Sesshin at the Ithaca Zen Center. I have traveled there for 11 years for their body mind detox retreats. Sesshin this year was a first for me. During this week long meditation, I did come to a place where all my sexual relationships unraveled before my mind. Many long time meditators have mentioned that this is a common occurrence. However the point of view was not really my own, but from an ego-less place. In watching these old memories come up it struck me how much of my interactions with women came from the lens of a victim. I have through the years froze many times or became extremely non verbal during or shortly after sex. As you can imagine and some of you know it has lead to some very tumultuous dating life for me. I don’t do well with overt seduction, it triggers me. It became very clear to me how much my childhood sexual abuse has affected my sexual life as a grown man. Later in the Sesshin meditation I touched someplace quiet and deeply healing and somewhat inexplicable. The edge of Satori? The beginning of an understanding of Nirvana? Time will tell. I scratched the surface of something deep and healing that I do not understand nor do I need to. Zen is a beautiful tradition in that way.

In working on my healing, I have not really followed a conventional path. I have never been on a psych drug, I have never been to formal counseling on the topic. However, my sexual abuse (and its healing) it has come up during Hanbleceya (vision quest), Sundance, Soul Retrieval, on Ayahuasca, on Psilocybin mushrooms, and now during a Sesshin. I have found all of these to be deeply and profoundly healing to me. For more on altered states of consciousness and healing see “How to Change Your Mind” by the amazing Michael Pollen. Or come talk to me!

To all those who have been caught in the crossfire of my confusion, I am sorry and just now unraveling it all. To my wife, Jen, I am healing and doing my work, thank you for your love and support.

The Shadow

Life can be a little unrelenting at times.  I have not written in awhile as I have been processing things about my life that can be hard to face.  Some days when I look in the mirror, I see a criminal.  I see all the things society sees in people of color.  But when I look myself in my eyes I see me.  As primates eye contact can be a two way street, it can both signal trust and aggression.  When I look into the mirror now, I try to make sure to look myself in the eyes until I can see me, the whole me.

I have had a lifetime of not being fully seen.  And I have had a lifetime of hiding, afraid of letting the world know who I authentically am. It can be very vulnerable to be seen and for many of us we would rather die than have our deepest pain be shown.  But damn that Brene Brown has got to me. She is a researcher on courage, shame, vulnerability, and empathy. Her work is profound and will take you down a rabbit hole of healing.  Her Ted talk on vulnerability is heart wrenchingly healing for those of us who struggle with allowing our weaknesses to show.  It has 34 million hits as of today indicating that this is a problem for many of us in our culture.

I was recently in a custody battle with my daughter's mother and man was that intense. Custody battles are nasty, they attempt to cast light on ones deepest vulnerabilities and then use it to prove that one side is better fit to parent than the other.   Lots of dirty laundry is aired.  As part of the process, I had to undergo psychological testing including rorschach testing. I found the testing in my case to be surprisingly accurate.  After the case was closed we were court ordered six months co-parent counseling.

In our session last night, I came to realize that neither of us was seeing the other as a whole person, rather we were seeing each others shadow and fighting with that.  The shadow is that part of ourselves that we try to hide from others and frequently ourselves.  Conflicts, are usually not resolvable until both sides can see the whole of the other, the light and the dark.  The old Star Wars trilogy deeply models that for both the individual and society as a whole.  Lovers are often the people we trust enough to show our whole selves, but that process can run into trouble if we don't have the tools and maturity to work with it.  We didn't, we were too young and inexperienced to see what was happening at the time.   But here we are and unpacking the past has been painful.

I think of President Trump's behavior as a good example of deep shadow.  Deep down inside he likely has very poor self esteem and likely had extreme early childhood abuse.  I can see it in him because I can see it in myself.  And I do think he has become a macrocosm of healing as everything he represents is brought into the light.  So I have empathy for him and his followers while understanding that we also don't have to stand for it.  All toddlers need firm boundaries...

Ok, I am just stalling now by trying to drag Trump into this.  I was abused by two women around the ages of 4-5 and it has set the tone  of my life in so many vast and incomprehensible ways that I am only now thirty plus years later realizing.  It is odd to see it on paper (or on screen in this case).  Men don't talk about the abuse and especially when it is perpetrated by a female. The statistics say 1 in 6 men, but I suspect it may be higher based on cultural norms of not talking about it and the sheer number of male perpetrators (who have likely been abused themselves).  It has affected me in that my unconscious default mode is to be untrusting of women.  Especially those who love me.  It has affected all of my love relationships and continues to affect my marriage.   My wife by the way has been amazing as have several of my ex girlfriends in helping with my healing and getting me to the place where I can write about it.  The writer Junot Diaz recently wrote a piece in the New Yorker about his childhood abuse, I froze when I read it.  It was the first time I saw a piece of myself in print.  My wife sent it to me. Ok it was the second time, the first was by the same writer in an interview with Christa Tippett on race and how the slave trade continues to impact society today, also sent to me by my wife.  Sometimes God sends you an angel to borrow for a bit.  It is Diaz's work that inspires me to speak about what happened to me today.  I am beginning to take off my mask and allow myself to be seen, imperfections and all.

My unconscious distrust of women has deeply hurt many in my life and particularly my child's mother and my current wife (and likely most of my ex girlfriends).  My current marriage has for the first time provided a safe place and space for me to really look at these pieces.  As I begin to pick up the pieces of the past and fit them back together, I hope others will be inspired to do the same.  It is not an easy process, but it is a very rewarding one.  One that has strengthened my resolve and ability to be with patients through very tough times and sometimes as a result we heal.   May we be able to see the whole of each other in all our behavior good and bad.  May we be able to look ourselves in the eyes and see the brilliance of God reflected back.  May we all be seen.

When things fall apart... Or just completely burn to the ground.

It is 3am, Liver time in Chinese Medicine, time when latent anger arises stirs the mind with a slurry of thoughts and dreams.  The Liver channel is associated with the element of wood and the emotion of anger.  When there is lots of wood around there is a-lot of potential fuel for fire.  I spoke yesterday to a spiritual teacher of mine moments after a not so Zen moment of blazing anger towards someone who where I come from rightfully has it coming.  My wife Jen intervened momentarily and saved the guy from certain verbal annihilation.  That and the fact that he refused to pick up the phone (smart choice on his part), but continued to text me.  I was ready to burn that relationship to the ground just like the fire burning 20 miles east of us. I had some not so nice thoughts and words to describe him. (For the Sebastopolians.... I am a Taurus, very slow to anger, but once we are there you will NOT win that fight).   In other words, I was out of my f&^*(#% mind.  Moments later I see "David Radin" on my caller ID, otherwise known as Yoshin in the Zen world. I thought "Shit, How does he know?  Did Jen call him?"  Serendipity & synchronicity (best words ever!). So funny that in my most un-zen moment in the last 10 years that he calls.  After some brief pleasantries and reassurances that we are safe from the fire, due to the offshore winds at our house, he says to me that he wishes the winds continue to blow in our favor.  I answer back "It may be" in Zen non-attached fashion (and a play on the title of his excellent CD "May it be so").  We both giggle, the student becomes the teacher.   Whew, back to Zen mind.

But not for long, for the fires of Anger and high testosterone were still smoldering in me and flamed up at 3am (I.e right now as I am writing).  Interesting lesson, just be cause I get my mind back to Zen land does not necessarily mean that my body is not still jonesing to do something with all the adrenaline.  For me that means writing (thanks for reading!), I am not really a crier, fighter, ect, but I am a writer and process heavy things with written word. (I am already feeling calmer).  I also process through heavy exercise.  When my patients come to me where health issues that have Anger at the core, I will usually tell them the story (woe to the patient that gets stuck in my office hearing a teaching story, sorry for being late staff!) about the Samurai and anger, first heard on Joseph Campbell's Power of Myth Series with Bill Moyers. Or the one about the Samurai and Monk...

So of course I tell myself those stories and it enrages me more!  Some Mafiaesque ideas come to mind.  The thought of me breaking someones kneecaps makes me laugh.  Then I realize I should get up and write and here we are!

As the flames continue to burn and emotions run high, remember there is a mind and body component to this process and it will take mind and body practices to come back to center and put the fire out.  Mind processes: reading ("When things fall apart" is a good start!), writing, talking, meditating...  Body processes: Running, yoga, power yoga (aka Martial arts!), surfing, breath work... and yes I know some of these over lap, Mind and Body are one unit.

If all that does not work then you are stuck with Thich Nat Han, if that little yoda-monk does not help with his soft calm water voice than nothing will!  Occasionally fire and anger need to burn hot to get things done.  Anger is useful, people got angry and now I am not a slave.  Sometimes things need to burn to the ground to allow something new to emerge.  What do we want to rebuild?  We got this, I can't think of a better place to rebuild in a way that makes the future brighter.  So let's chop our wood and carry our water.  And for goodness sake, get the leaves off your roof!

Tips for the Sonoma County Fire

Here are some suggestions that may be helpful:

1. If you are in a fire zone and are not evacuated, clean up dry leaves and anything that can act as tinder for a spark.

2. If you have been asked to evacuate, please do so in a timely fashion, it allows resources to be used that are not able to be used if you are still in the area.  Trust me you don't want 50,000 gallons of water dropped on your head.

3. Protect yourself from smoke inhalation.  Wear a mask or a wet bandana.

4. Hydrate!  Flushes toxins out and allows the body to function normally under stress.  Keep adequate water supplies available.

5. Help out!  Pick one center and make it a safe haven.  Pace yourself and take breaks when you need them.  Ask for help.  Do not become a victim because of your unwillingness to take care of your health when helping out.

6. Have a bag pre packed. Even if you don't think you will have to evacuate.

7. Take breaks from news and social media and be present with those around you.

8. Express your feelings with loved ones.  Breathe.

9. Check in with the Elderly and make sure they are ok.

10. Pray, yoga, meditate- connect with a spirtual practice and ground.

White Supremacy

We have work to do.  As a nation.  As a planet.  The weekend's events in Charlottesville are yet another reminder of how far we have to go as a nation.   The ever changing climate is showing us where we have to go as a planet.  This week I saw a truck flying a large Confederate Flag at Dillon Beach.  A nice reminder that I have not escaped that presence here in Liberal Northern California.  A old fear trickling down my spine, an alertness I have not experienced in years.

I was saddened to see on Facebook many posts and articles condemning the violence at the white supremacy protests, but none really looking into the why.  And certainly none calling for dialogue.  (The closest thing was this excellent Heineken ad)I guess I will do that here as uncomfortable as it may be and unpalatable.  Yes, I think the White Supremacists, Neo Nazi's and Alt-Right need to be heard.  But we will have to get past our own initial reaction to what they symbolize and the past that we Americans try so desperately to hide from.  We don't want to remember slavery, Jim crow, the holocaust of Native Americans, or any of the other shameful events that this country is founded upon.  We want to move on and pretend it all never happened and enjoy all our shiny things made in China while worrying about Russia.

I often tell my patients when someone says something painful to you, you must first ask yourself if it is true, True with a capital T.  If not pass, it is their issue.  If there is some truth to what they are saying then, I will often ask them to see if they can hear the truth and ignore the packaging.  Packaging can be problematic and here the minority group is cloaked in some ugly costumes of the past making it hard for us to hear what they are trying to say.   But I implore you to listen.  All of our futures depend on it. 

Growing up around Neo Nazis and the like in Southern Idaho, I had to become a good listener.  I had to to survive.   I was a super minority there and had immigrant parents as well.  While the altercations I had as a child and teen were uncomfortable and needlessly shattered my budding self esteem, it has made me stronger and able to hear this group and call it what it is.  

Fear.  That's it.  We all have it.  We all express and experience it in different ways.  They have it in a certain way.  That fear can be assuaged as shown in the movie "Accidental Courtesy".  You can find it on Netflix.   Some of us fear diving into our family histories out of fear of what we will find that our ancestors did.  My favorite exploration of this is the movie "Traces of the Trade" where one family learns that not only did they own slaves, but they were the largest slave trading family.  We need to listen to their fear as illogical as it may seem to us.  If we can assuage the fear and find common ground we can begin the healing process that needs to happen on this land so we can fulfill the unfinished dream of this country and the ideas and ideals that founded it.

It starts with us.  It starts in our thoughts and how we treat ourselves.  How we treat others.  How we listen to those who agree with us and especially when we listen and engage with those that disagree.  We all need to lose the fear we have in confronting someone doing something wrong.  We must loose our fear of history as uncomfortable as it is.  But we must do so in a way that does not increase their fear.   We can do this.  You can do this.

Jeff Brotman of Costco touched my life.

I was saddened to see the news yesterday that Co Founder of Costco Jeff Brotman has passed away.  I first met Jeff in Sept 2000, when was an Junior at Seattle University.  I was asked to give a speech at a scholarship breakfast to raise money to help minority students be able to afford higher education.  In my speech I spoke about the problems I was having being able to afford my education at Seattle University and the factors at play.   The next day I left on a life changing trip to Calcutta, India to work with the Sisters of Charity for three months. 

When I returned to Seattle in December of 2000, I was notified that I had a full ride scholarship from the Costco Scholarship Fund.  Needless to say this was life changing as I had already racked up$22,000 in debt from the first two years of undergraduate work and had not registered for school as a result of fear of more debt.


Ten years later I would be sharing the stage with Jeff Brotman and Jim Senegal at the 10th annual Costco Breakfast.   Throughout the

Ten years later I would be sharing the stage with Jeff Brotman and Jim Senegal at the 10th annual Costco Breakfast.   Throughout the

Throughout the years, I was continually surprised and touched at how much Jeff and Jim cared about minority education and its ability to transform lives through the economic opportunity that comes with being able to complete school.  As the company developed, I have always been proud that Costco has become the worlds largest organic supplier.  Costco employees have excellent working conditions and good medical insurance and benefits.  Finally, I love that Costco dropped American Express as its card of choice, something that I believe to be in line with their values.   As chairman of the board, Jeff was undoubtedly involved in many of these decisions.   I love that their motto was "Do the right thing".  

2014 Breakfast, 15th Annual and a record setting 3.6 million dollars raised for student scholarships!

2014 Breakfast, 15th Annual and a record setting 3.6 million dollars raised for student scholarships!

In short, Jeff Brotman has touched my life with a opportunity at prosperity that comes from education.  Through their scholarship fund they have touched thousands of other students lives and thousands more to come.   Thank you Jeff for being you, for caring so much.  For touching our lives.

Spring Detox

    Congrats! You have made it through a hard winter and the sun is peeking out.  Spring cleaning time!  It is time to get your life organized and your house cleaned.  Spring is also an excellent time to clean out your mind, body, and spirit.  What have you accumulated through the year that no longer serves you?  A good detox addresses clearing out body toxins, mental garbage, and a deepening of spiritual practices.

    We no longer live in a pristine world.  The industrial revolution and all the ways it has made our lives better has had the side effect of polluting our air, water, and soil.  In doing so our bodies are collecting and accumulating the toxins and it is affecting our health in a myriad of ways.   Components of plastic, pesticides, herbicides, petroleum, and heavy metals are now being found in increasing amounts in our bodies.   Is it possible that your health condition is affected by a toxic chemical getting into you?
    Toxins have three main pathways out the body: urination, defecation, and sweating.  However, before they may be eliminated toxins go through a process in the liver called phase one and two conjugation to package the toxin to get it out of the body.  This process can be augmented by certain herbs and nutrients.  Dr. Holder specializes in the application of many different detoxification protocols.  When is juice fasting best utilized?  Water fasting?  Coffee enema? Sauna?  Pancha Karma?

    What about the mental trash?  How do we detox the negative self image, the news, the hardships we endure?  A good first step is to look at what we consume; do the music, TV shows, movies, news, and other media we consume clutter our mind or liberate it?  How do you connect to that which is greater than you?  Do you need to reconnect to a community?  Do you need more time in nature?  Is there a spiritual practice that has been calling to you?

    Before embarking on a detox consider consulting with Dr. Chris Holder at Hill Park Integrative Medical Center for a comprehensive look at your health.  A personalized detox plan will be developed to meet your needs in addition to being specific to the toxins that are in your body.  Different detoxes are utilized depending on what chemicals are in you.  One size dose not fit all!  Important considerations will be explained as well as safety considerations.   Comprehensive toxin testing is available if needed.  Come learn more about the three ways toxins get out of the body.  Let’s get busy cleaning our bodies, houses, and the planet!

Healing perfectionism by crying in words; a case study.

We all have things we do that speed up the the break down of our body and bring about the inevitable freedom of our soul from the confines of the meat-monkey-suit.  I always thought it would be my sweet tooth that has enslaved so many in my family and race(es) to the slow decline of diabetes and then heart disease.  Alas, as of this year I have finally sprouted a small gut who in its growth threatens to speed up the tendency in my DNA to insulin resistance and then diabetes.  I am wrong, that may be a mere footnote in my medical history.  The real cause as always lies much deeper.

I was innocently reading one of the extremely heavy novels I am apt to read (When I am stressed I like reading about situtations worse than my own and then I don't feel so bad) when I hit page 115, the final words of the chapter jumping off the page, slapping me across the face, bloodying my nose and echoing into my psyche... "You can't ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving."  Shit that is me.  "When Breath Becomes Air" is a stellar memoir that will leave you reevaluating your life, its meaning, and what to do with the time we have on the planet.  The author Paul Kalithi is a Stanford Trained neurosurgeon who gets lung cancer during his residency and speaks to his epiphanies about life, death, and medicine as he alternates between being patient and doctor. 

Here is the sentence in context:

"Our patients' lives and identities may be in our hands, yet death always wins.  Even if you are perfect, the world isn't.  The secret is to know that the deck is stacked, that you will lose, that your hands or judgment will slip, and yet still struggle to win for your patients.  You can't ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymtote toward which you are ceaselessly striving."

His comment about perfection was profound to me because I think he was indirectly telling me that that was the ultimate cause of his death, yet he never comes out and says that.  In his book he never talks about the etiology of his lung cancer, however, I did find an article where his wife Lucy states that he was not a smoker and they worked with the Chris Draft Family Foundation to raise money for lung cancer research and to dispel the myth that lung cancer is merely a smoker's disease.  I wonder how much his having to constantly strive for perfection as a neurosurgeon ultimately lead to his early demise at age 37.

His line about perfection strikes me because it is the un-healed wound in my journey.  When I look deeply about my behaviors for coping one would see succumbing to sugar cravings, sex, exercise, and scouring the internet for the latest cancer theories and treatments.  The latter is largely responsible for some of my success as a doctor, I am a master of finding information and wading through data.  All of the above are attempts to jack up dopamine in my disappointed brain.   However, a deeper look and I see that my coping mechanisms in life come from a root in perfectionism.  When I fall short (or mis-percieve myself as falling short) I turn to cookies, which ruins my perfect physique, leading to obsessive exercise out of the fear that if my body isn't perfect i won't get to have sex and thus I should just be a perfect doctor to get love and justify my time and space on the planet.

There it is, that damn "I am not lovable thing" that has haunted me since childhood.  Rationally, I can see that this is all a crock of shit, but it is still in my tissue, aching my bones, tightening my muscles, draining my energy, weakening my immunity.   I can see it in the mirror in my greying hair, sagging eyes and growing belly; the physical embodiment of the stress of a wedding, of the potential loss of my daughter to a move out of state by her mother, totaling my car in the recent floods, and working with cancer patients.   Yes, things are far from perfect in my world.  Icarus falls from the sky.  I am human.

And Trump is not helping with is war on immigration, the planet, and everything else dear to me...  But maybe he is.  Maybe it is healing to know that I have never stopped watching my back despite moving to the one of the most liberal places in the US.  I am always aware of how much I stick out.  The Black Sheep.  Maybe this is all catalyzing a big healing crisis for me and for the planet.  Thanks Trump, you really have been good for business. At the next deeper level, I have never relaxed, never been at home anywhere, never fully exhaled and I fear it will prematurely take me off the planet should I not figure out how to heal that hole in the soul.  I have never fully belonged.

It really irritates others when I speak of my death, as if talking of it is enough to will it into existence.  How much more powerful is writing about it?  I don't really subscribe to that belief, working with cancer patients has taught me that death comes for us all despite my perfectly imperfect attempts at a perfect treatment plan, that power is not in my hands.  My body will die whether I speak of this, write of it, ect.  I do think that HOW one does it can set things in motion faster or slower.  So no I am not suicidal, morbid, depressed or dying.  I am merely aware of my death and that is truly the gift of working with cancer.   The awareness that time is precious and life is an amazing journey.   It makes all the long hours, all the hard decisions, all the tears shed in my office worth it.  I am aware of the strangle hold this perfectionism has on my life and health and will strive to heal it in a slow and imperfect manner becoming a patient.  I have made an appointment with my doctor to begin this journey.

So thank you for listening, for I cry in words and in doing so release the emotions and tension from my body from a hard year.   Bear with me as I learn to accept the imperfection, root out the disease of perfectionism,  and embrace the humanness it brings me.


Trumpitis: an inflammatory condition as a response to the U.S election.

There is a new scourge sweeping the land and no is not swine flu, bird flu, or Zika virus or what ever new thing we are to fear and get vaccinated against... It is Trumpitis. However, a review of the records shows that Trumpitis has been mildly reported in the US since Oct 7, 1885.    As a doctor my first main observation of Trumpitis is that it is "good for business".   No I am not talking about the business book by the same title. He is quite the opposite from a conscious corporation. My first case of Trumpitis was seen on Nov 9.  Since then business has been booming.  My schedule is rapidly filling up.  So much so that I am worried about moving a tax bracket.   However, my worries are in vain as President elect Trump will be changing the tax code so I don't get the dreaded taxitis that plagues so many doctors.  More on that one in mid April.

Trumpitis is marked by several signs and symptoms.  The first of which is a disbelief in the US elections results, followed by mild nausea and heartburn.  Over the next few days a generalized anxiety kicks in accompanied by frantic reading of the news and scouring Facebook posts.  Next comes epigastric pain and alternating diarrhea and constipation from not being able to stomach the news.  Then comes avoiding the news.  Many with then fill out numerous Credo and petitions hoping that the Electoral College will assuage the election inflammation.  Hopefully the Russians have not hacked them yet.   Some may binge read "1984", "Brave New World", and the book of "Revelation".  Others will fret over where to put their investments in this unpredictable market that after a brief dip, has raised the DOW into record levels.  Many have alternative definitions of Trumpitis, however the only one I think is accurate is "The disease whose symptoms are constipation of the brain with simultaneous diarrhea of the mouth." 

Even Trump's own doctor came down with a bad case of Trumpitis, his case was characterized by an overly inflated positive view of the President elect's health.  I mean what doctor ever had the audacity to state "If elected, Mr Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the Presidency"  Definitely, a case of late stage Trumpitis, which is frequently marked by an over use of adjectives that do not really match the reality of what is being described.  The final stages involve the complete assimilation of Trumps look and persona, at least Alec Baldwin has figured out how to cash in on his very late stage Trumpitis.

By now you lowly readers must be fearing the dreaded Trumpitis.  Surely someone is working on a vaccine?   For now here is a comprehensive review of the available treatments.  Some have treated cases of Trumpitis with the homeopathic remedy Fluoric Acidum.  For those of us who don't believe in that wu-woo shit, maybe some herbs?  The most popular herb for those suffering from Trumpitis is none other than Herb, you know Ganja, Miss Mary Jane, Cannabis, Marijuana.  Many states have recently legalized it in anticipation of the epidemic that is expected to hit at least 54% of the US population this year.   Will Trump's Attorney General Jeff Sessions go after the very thing that is giving so many relief from Trumpitis?  Time will tell.

Let's not count out Big Pharma though, they are expected to win big with a Trump candidacy as well as in their lucrative treatment for Trumpitis.  While there is no direct drug for Trumpitis, the following blockbuster drugs will insure your symptoms are abated and you stock portfolio is steadily gaining.   You will need Ablify for your depression and psychosis, Nexium for your acid reflux, Oxycontin for your pain, Suboxone to get off the Oxycontin, Xanax for the anxiety, and a combination of Advair, Ventolin, and Spireva for the inability to breathe due to increasing amounts of carbon in the atmosphere.

Speaking of Carbon, one way to counter Trumpitis is to completely boycott and divest from Fossil Fuels.  Be sure to look at your mutual funds, indexed funds, and stock holdings to be sure you are not funding the past, the future planet depends on it.   This carbon bubble will pop, and when it does you will be happy that your retirement is held in businesses, mutual funds, and stocks that clean water, provide solar power, cars that run on the sun and have no emissions, and generally make the planet a better place.

If after all this, you are still suffering from Trumpitis, come into the office and we will smudge you off with some sage, say a prayer for the planet together, and exorcise this orange devil from your body and the land.  In other words, hope and pray that Elizabeth Warren saves us.


Twenty days till I get married.  I never really thought this day would come.  For most of my life I did not think I could or would get married.  I never would be good enough.   What a terrible story to tell.  But tell it I did and believe it I did, and overcame it with the help of a few friends (and $13.75 in library fines). What a beautiful, complicated, and joyous journey life is.   Marriage is not for the faint of heart.  At age 36, I go in with no blinders.  Marriage is work.  My ego has been screaming for weeks as it knows its death is imminent as a merge lives with my beloved and make a vow to do what is best for her not for myself.   What better spiritual journey could one ask for?

As special thanks to those who have helped me along the way:  To my teachers David and Marcia, who are marrying us.  To Char and Stu and the rest of my spiritual family.  To the women in my life who embody the divine feminine; Cosetta, Georgia, Auna, Kat, and Mo. Our countless conversations have helped shape me into the man I am today.   To my boys Aaron, Drew, Darth, and Mikael.   You guys have been there through thick and thin.  To all the women who have walked in my life as a lover, I apologize for any confusion, hard feelings, and general idiocy on my part.   Thank you for playing a role in my healing journey.  To Dave, Becky, Rachel, and Laura, I could not ask for a better family to join.   And last but not least to my sisters Sarah and Michelle who have been there through it all and have made it their life long job to make sure I don't turn into an egotistical asshole.

Jen.  This woman has been through thick and thin to be in this relationship.  She has loved me during the good times and the bad.  Times of money and times of scarcity and debt. She has seen my shadow and has not flinched.  She has suffered through my cold feet.  We have done long distance for the last three years while she finished up medical school.  She has stood by my side through an ongoing lengthy custody battle for my daughter Penelope.  She even allows for my unique form of trichotillomania...  She has taught me about emotional fidelity, unconditional love, and how to be gently poised while exuding ferociousness.   She puts up with my bad moods and my punny jokes.  She even suffered through the Star Wars series (a condition of our marriage) just to be with me.   I truly did all I could to scare her away.  Pulled out all the stops.  Tried all my tricks... I have disclosed everything.  She is my life partner.  We knew this from our third date when I broke a geode on our hiking trip and it broke into a heart.   She has broken my stone heart open.

Jen.  This woman has been through thick and thin to be in this relationship.  She has loved me during the good times and the bad.  Times of money and times of scarcity and debt. She has seen my shadow and has not flinched.  She has suffered through my cold feet.  We have done long distance for the last three years while she finished up medical school.  She has stood by my side through an ongoing lengthy custody battle for my daughter Penelope.  She even allows for my unique form of trichotillomania...  She has taught me about emotional fidelity, unconditional love, and how to be gently poised while exuding ferociousness.   She puts up with my bad moods and my punny jokes.  She even suffered through the Star Wars series (a condition of our marriage) just to be with me.   I truly did all I could to scare her away.  Pulled out all the stops.  Tried all my tricks... I have disclosed everything.  She is my life partner.  We knew this from our third date when I broke a geode on our hiking trip and it broke into a heart.   She has broken my stone heart open.

As our hearts and lives merge, thank you all for supporting us on our journey.  For dropping us off at airports and picking us up.  For listening and processing the latest dumb thing I did to ruin the relationship.  For laughing with us, vacationing with us, eating with us, and crying with us.   And now it is time to celebrate with us!  To us!  May we live long and prosper and go forth and multiply.

As our hearts and lives merge, thank you all for supporting us on our journey.  For dropping us off at airports and picking us up.  For listening and processing the latest dumb thing I did to ruin the relationship.  For laughing with us, vacationing with us, eating with us, and crying with us.   And now it is time to celebrate with us!  To us!  May we live long and prosper and go forth and multiply.

Why I don't want my daughter to go to college...

My daughter recently said to me "Daddy, I don't want to go to college".  When I asked her why she mentioned being worried about the cost.  Kids hear everything, she likely has heard me talk about the burden of school loans on our family.  Plus earlier this year we opened an education savings account to save for college and have been talking about our savings and which investments we would do. (She chose 1 share of Tesla and bought at $155!)  In the back of my head, I worried about other things...

The Brock Turner sentencing had just occurred and my blood was boiling about the sentencing.   And I thought to myself, yes, don't go to college so you will be less likely to be raped.  I then nearly broke down and cried in front of my daughter.  Penelope is very striking and since she was born she has already commanded more than her fair share of attention due to her looks.  Mostly, it comes as a comment like "she is gonna be trouble when she gets older".  Or there was the time I was pulled off a plane in Dallas after a woman saw her and insisted that I get a gun for when she gets older.  Someone nearby alerted security because they thought I had a gun and I was questioned by airport security.  This is beyond irritating, I should not have to get a gun to keep my daughter from being raped. 

Sexual assault by an athlete and leniency is nothing new, most of us can make a long list of athletes that have likely committed sexual assault and then gotten away with it.  However, this was a very clear case, with many witnesses.   And yes, he even got charged.  It's just that the sentencing does not match the crime.  The average rape sentence is 9.8 years with an average of 5.4 years served.  After reading the statement by the victim that was read to Judge Persky prior to sentencing I don't know how he could have given such a light sentence.  Over a million people have signed a petition calling for the judge's recall.  Ironically I was at a party this weekend where a old college colleague was there who happens to work as a lawyer in the county and knows Judge Persky.  She arguedas to why the judge should not be recalled and eventually I agreed that judges are to judge and that while we disagree he should not be recalled unless he commits a crime.   However, I do think the voters of Santa Clara county should opt not to vote for his reelection this November.

It doubly pains me that it occurred at Stanford as I am planning on taking my daughter to the The Tech Museum of Innovation next month followed by a visit to the Stanford campus.  Yes, I am doing that parent thing where I am vicariously living through my kid as Stanford was always my dream school for undergrad and medical school.  Alas I was not smart enough or moneyed enough.  I am content with what is, but want my daughter to know she can dream big and that her dad will work hard to make it so she can go anywhere she likes.

So with a heavy heart, I think of "Emily Doe" our nameless victim and the countless other victims of sexual assault, many of whom are my patients.   Men, we must follow the examples of the two heroes in this awful story and intervene any time anything like this is happening.  Women, the world is awakening, we have got your back.  Read prior post on Rape Culture to get links of all the people working for change in this area.  Finally, I think of my daughter and hope we can change our world enough before she reaches college.

Unpacking my baggage

I just finished listening to Macklemore's new song "White Privilege II" after a week of raw processing about race with multiple people.   I about died, cried with a cacophony of emotions with the line "white supremacy isn't just a white dude in Idaho" for I grew up in Idaho around many white supremacists.   Growing up there I learned subtle and not so subtle messages that were not true about myself.  In the end, it would take me half my life to begin healing those early childhood wounds, wounds that have quietly continued to haunt me as I became a young adult, a father, and soon to be a husband. 

When I turned 18, I could not wait to get out of Idaho and left for the grey skies and liberal views of Seattle.  However, even in liberal Seattle I learned to still be vigilant, the world does not see me as my friends see me.  Seattle has been good to me.  I never had a problem with the police there, a welcome relief from the time in Idaho when I had been pulled over five times in one month and never ticketed.  That does not mean that there were no problems with Seattle PD, but from 18 to 33 I had zero altercations with officers.  Moving to California was a return to reality and a return to vigilance.

I landed in Seattle in 1998 where that November Proposition 200 passed in Washington. This proposition remove any preferences on the basis of race, sex, national origin, color or ethnicity for the goal of creating a diverse student body among other things.  As debates about it ensued over the next few years, I felt all eyes on me.  At the time Seattle University was not a diverse student body.  I became the poster boy for diversity.  I had to answer for the minority view in every class in a private school with a predominantly wealthy white student body.   People wondered if I got in on the quota.  I wondered if I got in on the quota... I had to prove that I belonged there academically, a stress I would never wish on anyone, but in a weird way it worked out for me, I am now a doctor.

I am vigilant about how I am SEEN.  I spend an inordinate amount of time and energy worrying about: being pulled over, about getting shot while I am on my run, being perceived as a sex object, being perceived as a sexual predator, being seen as unintelligent, being seen as a thief, being snubbed in the surf lineup, being a perfect father so I don't loose my daughter, being seen as an Uncle Tom, being seen as militant, what people think about my hair, my daughter getting in trouble in school, explaining my races, getting searched at airports and boarders, being seen as cheap, being an oreo, being a coconut, being seen as abusive to partners, and never ever show ANGER.  Angry men of color are scary.  I wish I could express it the way he did, but will not.  Be cool and unemotional.  I am Spock. I have not gotten to BE.  Hold your tongue, cope with the ache in your jaw from not saying what needs to be said in the moment.  Take a white pill for my growing hypertension, not for me, I am treating it's cause...

This my friends is White Privilege.  If you don't have to worry about the things in the above paragraph, then you have White Privilege.  For those who are still in denial of this concept please watch this scene from "The Color of Fear".  If you still don't get it, you never will.  For those that want to go a little deeper watch the film "Traces of the Trade". 

I am tired of being a second class citizen.  I am unpacking my baggage, someone else will have to carry that shit now.

What does Dr. Holder eat?

Many of my patients often come home with a recommendation to "eat a rainbow oforganic fruits and vegetables per day, but what does that really mean?  Fruits and vegetables contain a wide variety of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants and should make up the bulk of a healthy diet.   The broad range of colors ensures that there are a wide variety of antioxidants present in my diet.  I purchase everything organic when possible to avoid pesticides, herbacides, and fungicides present in conventional foods.   I avoid processed foods.  I strive to buy things that come from the earth unprocessed and then I process them myself into shakes, dishes, meals, ect.

The following is my general grocery list: carrots, celery, parsnips, turnips, beets, turmeric root, burdock root, bok choi, shittaki mushrooms, kale, chard, pomegranites, pears, fuji apples, blue berries, dates.  In the minimally processed foods category, I use: coconut oil, olive oil, ume plum vinegar (daughter Penelope loves this on her vegetables), and ketchup (probably the worst thing in my cupboard right now).  I eat walnuts, cashews, chia seeds, flax seeds, and brazil nuts as snacks.  The main meat I eat is grass fed beef, buffalo, lamb, and wild Alaskan salmon.  I minimally eat grains, mainly brown rice, quinoa, and occasionally oatmeal.  I don't eat dairy but have recently reincorporated Kerry gold butter into my diet with no problems.

Many of my eating habits have been honed after reading Michael Pollen's books.  He is an amazing writer on the topic of food.  Check him out if you have not already.

Childhood Vaccinations

With the SB277 Referendum going on right now, many patients have been asking me about my views of SB277 and the mandate for universal childhood vaccination.   I thought I would write a blog to clarify my views on the subject...

Wow, this is a loaded topic. On one hand you have the pro vaccine camp that states that those not vaccinating are creating a public health nightmare.  On the other side, we have many who are concerned about the effects and side effects of the vaccines themselves.  I am in neither camp, I both recognize the role vaccines have played in decreasing certain diseases.  However, I have also seen first hand many children who have been harmed by vaccine side effects.   First lets start with some facts...

1. Current vaccine schedule is not based on sound science.  Case in point, the first vaccine recommended on the CDC schedule is hepatitis B.   Why would all newborns need a vaccine against a disease that is transmitted by blood or sexual fluids?  This is not a childhood communicable disease.  Ok, maybe if the mother has it it would make sense to prevent transmission.   However, the vast majority of mothers in the US are hepatitis b neg.  In a vast majority of European countries hepatitis B vaccine is given only if the mother has hepatitis b.  I think Merck and SmithKleinBeecham have some friends at the FDA and CDC.

2. Vaccines are not as safe as they are purported to be... Don't believe me?  Check it out yourself at the government's Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS).  Using the above hepatitis b vaccination example, I was able to find 1558 cases of adverse events during 2014.  Searching under all vaccines and death I found 217 cases in 2014, 54% of those cases were in children under 3.  These are all very small numbers compared to the number of vaccines given, however, if you are the parent of that child this does not take away the pain of loosing your child.  The U.S. even has a special Vaccine court for those injured by vaccines thus shielding vaccine manufacturers from litigation that would bankrupt them.  We even have a special fund to compensate victims of vaccine adverse events called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP).  Someone has a friend in Congress and the US Court of Federal Claims.

3. Vaccines contain preservatives that may impact certain populations.  The preservatives are there to prevent contamination with bacteria such as staphlocci and streptococci.  Thimerosol used to be a preservative in vaccines, it has since been phased out quietly due to safety concerns and links to autism and ADHD.  Thimerosol is 50% mercury, a neurotoxin... It is interesting to note its quiet removal from medicine just like the discontinuation of using mercury amalgams in dentistry...

4. Vaccines contain other chemicals that may impact certain populations.  These include aluminum (linked to alzheimers), squalene, fetal bovine serum (yup baby cow serum), formaldehyde (a carcinogen), recombinant DNA productsand antibiotics such as neomycin, polymyxin B, streptomycin and gentamicin.

5. Vaccines may be linked to certain conditions such as autism, sids, guillian-barre syndrome, and adhd.  For the record, I do not think that vaccines cause these disorders, however, I think in the wrong individual with genetics that don't allow them to detoxify substances normally, you may have a problem.  It is likely that these conditions arise from cytokines from the immune system causing damage to the nervous system.  It is also probable that these cytokines are arising in a small number of individuals due to genetic differences that make them susceptible while leaving the rest of the population unharmed.   In other words, the vaccine may be the trigger in genetically susceptible individuals, thus accounting for a vast number vaccinations that are uneventful.

6. Vaccines are big $$$.  I am not gonna get into this one, but will point you to two documentaries that explore the topic... Bought and Doctored.

I support the ability for a patient to opt out for medical reasons such as having a sibling or parent with autism spectrum disorders.  I support the ability for a patient to opt out for personal reasons such as not not wanting to have recombinant DNA products, chemical, and preservatives injected into them.  I support the ability for a patient to opt out for religious reasons due to protections under the Constitution to freely practice one's beliefs. Consequently, I believe that it is between a patient and a doctor to decide what goes into a person's body for their health and well being.  Not a government blanket mandate.  Thus, I cannot support a law mandating universal vaccinations.

For more information on SB277 referendum go here.  Our clinic has a referendum signature sheet at the front desk for those inclined to sign the petition.   The referendum is asking to put the issue to the California voters in a future election, rather than having it be decided by a small committee and made law.

Explaining Slavery to a Six Year Old...

Kids pick up everything.  I was listening to an interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates on his new book "Between the World and Me" on Democracy now when they went to break playing the song "Slavery Days" by Burning Spear.  Penelope my daughter turns to me and says "Dad... Do you remember the days of slavery"? (Which happens to be the chorus of the song.)

I answered "No, I wasn't alive back then, but my great grandparents were slaves and indentured laborers". 

"Dad, what's a slave?"

"A slave is someone who is forced to work for others but is not paid for the work they do"

"That's not right".....    "Dad, If I had slaves I would pay them!"

"Then they would not be slaves, they would be workers"


Our little dialogue tonight, brought up a lot of pain as I thought of all the Black people killed at the hands of our society recently.  I say society rather than police, because we as society sanction this.  We sanction it with our subliminal messages in media, we sanction it by ignoring the news stories, we sanction it with our silence.  Most tellingly we sanction it by paying the police with the collective's money.   This is the legacy of slavery of African Americans.   It will continue until we as a society own it.  Look it square in the face and say what is.  We must confront our shadow.

Slavery has not ended.  It has merely changed form.  It looks like predatory lending by Bank of America. It looks like higher rates of school loans for minorities. It looks like the millions of women and children trafficked for the sex and pornography trades.  It looks like those picking my organic strawberries.  It even looks like my beloved iGadgets that I am writing this blog on.   The legacy of slavery lives on in all the recent deaths.  God rest their souls, they have took on too great of a burden in this life.

Chances are pretty good that my daughter will become a slave.   Struggling with paper shackles that are quickly becoming digital ones.   Unless of course, we act.  Unless we conquer our thoughts of complacency.  Unless we "Emancipate ourselves from mental slavery" we shall not be free of the burden of enslavement.

I think the Lakota concept of "Wasichu" explains the mindset of slave holders. (Takers of the Fat, the nickname the Lakota gave to Whites because of their propensity to take the best cuts of the buffalo rather than giving it to the women and children as is the norm in traditional Lakota Culture)  It is this constant taking of the fat that leads one to the mentality that their life has greater value over others.  Once I elevate myself (or my people) any number of things may be justified.

I just got back from spending time on the Pine Ridge Reservation with my Lakota family participating in the Sun Dance.  It is hard to miss the remnants of the unspoken genocide that has occurred on this soil.  You are not forgotten by me.  I see you.  I hear you.  I bleed with you. The medicine to heal fat taking lives on in the Dance.  Maybe the prophecy will be true, people from all corners of the earth will come together and learn Lakota medicine and it will save the world.

For it is this fat taking consciousness that is destroying the world.  It lies behind global climate change.  It lies behind white collar crime.  It lies behind empire.  We have a sickness, a mental disease.  We take for ourselves with no thought of what the future of our children will be as a result of our actions.  We must stop taking the fat of the land.  We must stop consuming our children.

I hope to see the real promise of America in my lifetime by seeing appropriate cultural recognition of the legacy of the genocide of indigenous peoples, slavery and the grinding generational poverty it has produced, and the rectification of these wrongs.  I hope to see global healing of our mental disease.  I am actually crazy enough to think it can happen and that we can and will reach that tipping point in my lifetime.  I believe we can heal, there is no pill for this.  We have to work and work together.   We have no other choice.  So let's have these conversations that are hard.  We will become closer, more intimate as a result.  Let's learn to love one another and our differences.  Let's celebrate the global wealth of human knowledge that lies in other cultural practices.  Let us stop being Wasichu's.

Brown Privilege

    With all the national soul searching going on with the recent events in Charleston, SC stemming from the actions of a young man who wanted to "Start a Race War" I have decided to take a look at my own thoughts on race. 

     Race is something we as a nation have done a poor job examining.  The history of our country is cloaked in the blood of the other.  From the start, it began as genocide of the the Native Americans.  This genocide continues today in the form of the oppression of the reservation system.  Don't believe me?.  Go to one, I dare you.  We still celebrate Columbus Day to this day. 

Then there is the slave system in the United States.  This contrasts with the slave system in the Caribbean in that in the Caribbean the slave masters left after emancipation.  This has made a drastic difference in the outcomes of post slavery peoples in the Caribbean versus their counterparts in the US.  For one, in the Caribbean those countries rebuilt in a way where it was normal to have Black doctors, lawyers, politicians, teachers, ect.  This implicitly lead to the unspoken message that as a young Black person you can be anything in that culture.  Contrast that with the US, where the only young Blacks making it are Rappers and Athletes.  The Cosby Show and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air (I am dating myself) were two shows that made it based on how odd it is for a Black male to be a doctor or a judge in the legal system at that time.  It was entertainment to think of black people in the medical and legal systems in the 1990's.  Don't get me wrong, those shows were of importance in countering some of the messages about what it means to be Black and a a professional in the US.  Of the people of color at my medical school, all but one were of Caribbean stock.  (My parents are from Guyana).  Those of us from the Caribbean were never told to play basket ball or sing.  We could be engineers (most of my uncle's are engineers), doctors, business owners, whatever we wanted.   Even if we grew up poor.  It was such a mixed message for me growing up American but with parents from the Caribbean because I got two messages about race and right livelihood.

     Growing up in Idaho, one of the least diverse states, I had no problem trying out for sports.  Every coach automatically watched me.  Much to my dismay at the time, I was not talented enough to be a sports star. Now I see it as a blessing.  Being dark in Idaho, I had two types of racism to work with: the Mormon belief that dark skin was the mark on Cain and the Neo Nazi's that were so popular in the state at the time (they used to draw swastika's on my desk and pictures of me with really big lips!).  Consequently, by the time I was eighteen and left the state I had some rocking low self esteem.   Those first eighteen years I was told implicitly and explicitly that I was a second class citizen.  I was told it by classmates, teachers, policemen.  I was told it by movies, tv, music.  I eventually told it to myself.

     To this day I am not sure how I came out of that.  The grace of god and good teachers and good people around me.  I had the good sense to leave Idaho at a young age and move to Seattle and the liberal west coast.  It was here that I would spend the next 15 years unpacking the world I was born into.   Seattle was good to me.  I don't fear the police there, they are well trained.  I was lucky enough to get into Seattle University and eventually to get a financial aid package that helped defray the overwhelming costs of going to a private Jesuit school.  I set aside money and began to travel and this is where I learned about brown privilege.

     You see there are places in the world where I can go as a brown person and not be harrassed, not be stared at, not be messed with because I am brown.  I blend in many places.   Even in some places, they know I am American, but do not group me in with "White America".  I am not the same American that caused economic, political, social issues in their countries.  Consequently, I have had many conversations and relationships that likely would not occur had I been white.  Or maybe they occur because I care to have those conversations.

    I am privileged in the likelihood that my ancestors most likely did not participate in genocide.  I don't have that heaviness to face in my ancestry.  Instead I get to work with the shame of a survivor of slavery and indentured servitude.  Luckily for me this has somewhat become cool in the last 10 years.  It is hip to be from oppression.  This may change.  I will never understand what it is like to be white.  I imagine on some level it must be scary to wonder: Did my ancestors kill the Native Americans?  Did my ancestors own Slaves?  Did my family build its wealth on the backs of Latino's?  Did my ancestors sit by and do nothing while all that was happening?  This is something I am privileged to not have to work with.  I give my full hearted support to those whites who are doing that work of addressing the past.  Check out "Traces of the Trade" a movie about one family's confrontation with their slave owning past.  Or this journalist calling for white people to fix the problem of white supremacy

It is mind blowing to me that the Confederate Flag still flies on the South Carolina Capitol building.   I am told that it is their heritage.  Why would you want to hold onto that heritage?  For me it is the symbol for white supremacy.   Growing up in Idaho and Wyoming, when I came across someone posting the Confederate Flag it was a signal to me that they were racist and to stay clear in the same way that my brown skin was the signal to them of being Other.   There is no coincidence that there are many pictures of the Charleston shooter with the Confederate Flag.  Symbols are very powerful, it is time for that symbol to go the way of the Hitler mustache.  Unless of course you are a dictator like Robert Mugabe, then you can rock it.   And yes it is my privilege to not have to process my heritage as a southern white person, or as a German who was part of the Nazi party.   And it is my privilege to not have the burden of making right the nine wrongs that plague our nation this week.

We all have work to do, on ourselves, on our communities, in our nation.  Let's get to work, there is much to be done and life is so short.  Let's start with some tough conversations.   It is time to finish this page in history.


Radical Remission From Cancer

I recently attended the Integrative Healthcare Symposium in NYC where I was introduced to the work of Kelly Turner Ph.D. Dr. Turner has spent her life researching cases of radical remission of cancer.  In her research she has identified nine key factors that are common across all these cases.  I am a bit jealous as it is something I have always been curious about.  I have often wondered why we don't spend more time and resources studying the people who beat cancer with a complete disease reversal.  Some of these patients do it without conventional medicine.  A few of them are my patients...

The following are the nine key factors that Dr. Turner has identified in no particular order:

  • Radically changing your diet
  • Taking control of your health
  • Following your intuition
  • Using herbs and supplements
  • Releasing suppressed emotions
  • Increasing positive emotions
  • Embracing social support
  • Deepening your spiritual connection
  • Having strong reasons for living

I like what Dr. Turner is onto here as I have observed it myself and strive to work with my cancer patients beyond the paradigm of just killing or removing the cancer cells.  We must work to restore a terrain that has allowed cancer to emerge in the first place.   We must heal.  Healing has always for me involved addressing imbalances in body, mind, spirit, social, and societal relationships.

For more stories check out for patient stories of their remissions.

Check out "Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds", it may save your life or the life of a love one.

Life Transplant

Frequently when working with people with chronic diseases, I introduce a concept that I call "Life Transplant".  This is for patients who are falling apart physically, mentally, and emotionally. It rings with the concept of an organ transplant, where we replace a diseased organ with a healthy one.  However many people with chronic disease would need multiple organs to be replaced.  This is not possible yet, however we can change many aspects of our environment, management of emotions, and lifestyle.   Changing multiple life variables at once to elicit a change toward health is what I call a "Life Transplant".

I have recently decided to undergo my own Life Transplant.  Here are its components:

  • Meditation: 15 min per day first thing in the morning.
  • Exercise: 45 min per day after meditation. Yoga, weights, and running.
  • Diet: Whole foods, organic diet.  Pro-biotic foods daily.   No dairy, low sugar, low grain.
  • Play: weekly play with 6 year old daughter.  No multitasking or electronics.
  • Relationship: Got engaged to my girlfriend Jen!  Her is her blog.  We have begun planning our life together :)
  • Reading: 1/2 hour per day of non-work related reading.
  • Bodywork: 1 session per month with acupuncturist Vladi Starkov, LAc, DMQ, CMT or massage with  Mo Washburn.
  • Emotional: Identifying what I am feeling in moment and reacting appropriately in the moment rather than holding on to the feeling.
  • Finances: Paying down my debts and school loans this year.  I have been listening to the Dave Ramsey Show podcast to help me with this.  I use Mint to track finances.
  • Work: Forming a Breast Health Program to address the skyrocketing rates of breast cancer.

I am six days in now and feel great. For more information, schedule an appointment to have your own personal "Life Transplant" 707-861-7300.  Phone, Skype, and Facetime appointments available for those who don't live in the Bay Area.

What changes do you need to make to thrive at life?

Driving While Black Part 2: Guilty

Today was my court date contest my "Following Too Closely" ticket.   This was my first time in court and my first ticket.   The judge called us both up.  Officer Thomson gave his side of the story which was fairly accurate... He noticed a car driving with the taillight out and pulled out behind.  He then pulled up beside me in the L lane and then pulled back behind me.  I thought he wanted to get the guy with the taillight out and so I moved to the R lane and he pulled me over.

I told Judge Wheeldin (Ironically one of 2 African American Judges in Sonoma County )that I agreed with his rendition of the story other than that I was following too closely.  I told the judge that I did not understand why he did not pull over the car with the taillight out.  I told the judge that I felt like I was being profiled when he pulled beside me and then pulled me over.   I told the judge that I felt like I was being ticketed for a bogus charge because there was nothing else to get me on.  I told the judge that I have a perfect driving record in all the states I have lived in.  I told the judge that ironically I had just given a speech at a Costco event (see prior blog) where I had written into the speech about my experiences of being racially profiled while driving and that up to this point I had never been ticketed.

The judge commented that you can find these stories anywhere on the news these days and that yes it does happen.  However, it is traffic court and if I wanted to file a complaint I could do it in civil court where they try those kind of cases that set precedence for policy.  In the end he said it comes down to my word versus his and that in this kind of case he goes with the officer's contention that I was following to closely unless I am able to provide some proof to the fact that I was not.  Since I was unable to prove it, he finds me guilty as charged.

At first I felt sick to my stomach.  In the end I am guilty on two counts: "Following too closely" and "Driving while Black". However, I was under no illusion going into this that justice in this country is anything but a farce.   I wondered whether the judge felt that he could not bring race into account in this case based on his own race?    Would he be seen as "helping one of his own"?  In the end I feel good.  I stood up for myself, I stated my truth.  I was not physically or verbally harmed by this officer.  In the end it is only money and time, $300 and traffic school.  I hope some good comes out of it.  I hope officer Thompson thinks twice about his actions in the future.  I hope my airing of my dirty laundry benefits readers.  I hope the world can move forward and begin a productive dialogue about these things so that maybe my grandchildren can not be pulled over (or worse) for ridiculous reasons.  May we all return to an age of reason and peaceful coexistence.