Ah yes, the dreaded bio: do I really have to talk about myself in the third person?
RUSSELL BROWN, L.Ac., MTOM
After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in journalism, I maintained a successful career in feature film development, working on such near-Academy Award-nominated films as The Fast and the Furious franchise, Not Another Teen Movie, and Cruel Intentions. (There were several lesser films, as well, that should be considered nothing less than crimes against humanity.)
I was really enjoying working in the film industry when one day at breakfast, I intentionally and shamelessly eavesdropped on the conversation at the table next to me where a woman was talking about acupuncture. Having never experienced it myself or even really thought about it, something in me sparked.
A door opened, and I knew I was being prompted to re-prioritize my life and dedicate myself to the betterment of others. If I had time to think about it, or do a pros and cons list, I never would have made the jump, but as it is, I enrolled at Emperor’s College of Traditional Chinese Medicine the next day and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Master’s Degree in TCM four years later, and certified by the California State Board of Acupuncture shortly thereafter.
I have a fairly different attitude about this medicine than a lot of my peers. I’m not a hippie and never was. I’m a regular guy who was born and raised here in L.A. I have crow tattoos because I’m a “hipster cliche,” NOT because I’m a “pseudo-spiritualist.” I don’t own billowy yoga pants or lavender crystals and I’ve never heard a Caucasian person use the words “Namaste” or “Love and Light” in a way that doesn’t sound completely deranged. That said, I think this medicine is absolutely amazing, and is grounded in a lot more science than the woo-woo hippie-ness, faux-asian zen-ness, or strip-mall sketchiness that would personally make me uncomfortable as a patient.
I believe pain and disease are not simply an inconvenience but rather information: our body’s only way of telling our brain that we’re doing something it doesn’t like. Your discomfort is your body calling for help, and just taking a pill or injection to silence that call does not necessarily service you. I spent years eating lunch at my desk while working and having dinner after 9pm on-the-go, wondering why my stomach was a mess and my bowels were totally erratic.
Now I know that health and wellness are about education, slowing down our busy lives to pay attention to what’s happening, having compassion for ourselves -instead of the constant rut of beating ourselves up- and a bit of sense of humor about the whole thing, and not just sentencing our lives to pharmaceutical addictions and kowtowing to what insurance companies think is best.
I’m generally a little cynical and have a pretty grounded world-view, but I’ve seen acupuncture work, time and time again, and I love to be able to bring that miracle to people like myself.
Acupuncturists don’t typically “specialize” in schooling like western doctors but the areas I’ve had the most experience and enjoy treating are pain conditions, sports injury, stress-related conditions and emotional disorders.
JEN BOOKOUT, L.Ac., MTOM
I love Western/Allopathic medicine. I know that’s kind of a strange thing for an acupuncturist to say, but it’s true. I love looking over blood work results, imaging reports, even post-op instructions. I’m an allopathic medicine geek, and I’m grateful for my training in it. I think it has a lot to offer us when we need it.
However, my goal is to help my patients avoid the need for it and to work in conjunction with their other healthcare providers when they do.
Growing up in Indiana, I had never even heard about acupuncture or any of that other ‘woowoo stuff,’ but I always knew there had to be something else out there besides antibiotics and hoping for the best. I was initially drawn to Eastern medicine because of its surprising combination of simplicity and completeness. I discovered that it’s all about finding balance no matter where we find ourselves, and it takes into consideration all parts of our selves. And I like that. We start where we are, and we move towards balance as we can with some help when we need it.
And I am honored when I can be part of what helps people find and maintain their balance.