Learning from Masters

In North America we banter around the word “Master”. In Asia it is reserved for someone that really has it figured out. Not everything figured out but their piece of the pie, that they understand.

I recently took a course on Neurology from a Master J. Yuen. He has a resume that is staggering. The short notes are, he’s the 88 generation Daoist of his lineage. How long is that! He has been working on people, on his own, since he was 11 years old.

He sat there, no notes and just opened his mouth and it was like google was powering him. He just seemed to know everything and be able to explain it so anyone could understand. Then at the break I saw him holding the door open for a student. He just seemed so nice, normal and humble. A real treat to meet him.

Then we had Suzanne Robidoux speak about pain. She has been living in China for the last 20 years and really must have been working hard. Her teacher is over 100 years old (picture of him). Now there is what you call the perfect picture of a TCM Doctor.

Education is weightless and I like to get a lot of it. It takes years of learning and experience to piece together what to do with patients on any given day. It it the hardest jigsaw puzzle of them all. It was fun to go and see two people that have their pieces of the pie figured out.

Here’s a pic of Master Yuen


Be Well,
Ward Willison
Acupuncture & Other Natural Therapies

Spring to it

Ah early spring, really early spring it seems. We have little flowers in the yard, well until the deer ate them last night.

The golf courses are going, runners abound, it’s the magical time when we ski in the morning and rush down for a quick round of golf.

But wait what happens the next morning, you hurt all over? How could that be? Ah it’s the waking from hibernation time.

This is my favorite time of year in the clinic, not only is there some sun shinning in the windows but there is the most diversity in people coming into the clinic. It’s a big variety of injuries, tears, sprains and pulls.

The longer I practice the more I follow the old texts on health in Chinese Medicine. They warn of approaching Spring with respect, slowly opening the body to the new season and DON’T GO CRAZY with exercise. Rushing out to dig the garden, plant the flowers, go for a run.

Winter is still the most ‘hibernating’ time for us. Our body’s get a bit out of shape. We get a bit more rest than other seasons and that is a good thing. Our minds they seem to skip that and think we can just go back to exactly what we where doing in the fall.

Do yourself a favor and take it easy for the first couple of weeks. Rake the lawn over the weekend not the next 4 hours. You will be glad you did.

But for the other 98% of us, I will be standing by in the clinic.

Be Well,
Ward Willison
Acupuncture & Other Natural Therapies

Yuma AZ and snowbirds

Did a winter vacation to see my dad, he snowbirds down in Yuma Az. it’s on the boarder of Arizona, California and Mexico. There is about 100,000 snowbirds that go there for the winter/spring. Let’s just say the average age is north or 75.

It is flat, dry and is the sunniest town in the world! There are miles of RV’s of every type in all directions and all sorts of different types of houses. Some people take their RV and just park out in the desert and hang out, they call it ‘boon-docking’.

I am stunned how busy my dad is. When I first showed up to Dad’s Casita/5th wheel lot, I asked why he had 10 couches, 50 chairs, enough cutlery etc for an army. Then the cars started showing up. We set up a BBQ in the lot and had a huge hot-dog party.

Often there is a ‘bloody marry’ party. Where at 9am, 30-40 people will show up at someones house/RV/trailer and drink bloody marry’s till 10am, then 30 of us went for breakfast. Often at 4pm is happy hour where again 40 people show up and all are gone by 4:59. It’s like magic. One night we went to a fabulous house for supper with 15-20 people.

On Thursdays they meet to go out to the desert and drive around to some old mine site, or look out or oasis. There is movie night’s, they go into the big city to see hockey or baseball games. It never ends.

We went to Algodones Mexico and that is where things got interesting for me in the health business. The town of 5500 is about 1/4 pharmacy’s, 1/4 dentist, 1/4 eye glass shops and 1/4 everything else you’d think Mexico should have.

The line up getting back into the USA was long and very social, everyone was visiting and most where carrying BIG BAGS OF DRUGS. Just not the kind 20 year olds think of. My dad’s been going down there for 10 years and after a couple of years I asked him what was surprising to him. His answer was how restricted some of the group was due to their medications and how many med they where on.

I asked my dad what he thought his reason was for better health and he said the farm life. My dad farms about 4 moths a year. It’s not as hard a job as it once was but he’ll start at 6 am and normally turn into bed around 11-12 pm. He’ll do that in the spring for 6-8 weeks and in the fall harvest for 3 months.  He’s pretty tough for a 72 year old.

When the group realized what I did for work the health questions started. I think I could be busy down there. To age well I encourage all of us to do the following:

Eat well, learn what eating well for you means. It can take 10-15 years of casual study to get a food plan that works for you so start right away. Start small and just pick an area of study each year to get better at it. My first year was how to eat more vegetables, then we worked on finding better sources of meat. Last year was finding ways for me to eat more fruit. This year I am studying the microbiome (the bugs in us).

Get active. Find things you like to do that work your muscles in a balanced way. I talked to a retired PE teacher in Yuma. He’s messed up. How we trained and stretched 40+ years ago was mostly a bad idea. There are a lot of 70 year olds that have terrible body structures. If it hurts regularly then maybe it’s not for you. I of course love Tai Chi but there are thousands of activities you can do to keep fit.

Find hobbies that activate your mind. If they can involve other people that’s a bonus. You want to keep your mind nimble and quick. A good way to do that is to use it. Find things that challenge you. I pick up a new hobby every 5 years. It reminds me how crappy it is to be brand new at things, it gives me the chance to improve at it and notice I can get better at things and it stretches my mind/body in new directions.

Heal your injuries, whether they are physical, mental, spiritual, emotional or nutritional. As you age they can come and ruin your life. Many of us are trying to do just that, well continue then. It can take years to fix some things. I am reading a book on healing the gut for ADHD, they talk in years not months in this book.

Get better social skills because if your going to Yuma your going to need them and enough stuff to sit 40 people for supper.

Be Well,
Ward Willison
Acupuncture & Other Natural Therapies


Yearly Goals.

A game without a goal is just running around.

You can call it New Years Resolutions, Goal’s or anything you like. If you have nothing to aim at you certainly won’t hit much.

Start with, what would you like? I started with wanting to eat more vegetables. We spent a year figuring out how to eat 5-6 portions (1 cup) of vegetables a day. The next year we wanted to eat better meat. We spent a year sourcing farm sources of meat, which turned out to be hard because the farms stop producing for various reasons.

I wanted to get better at Tai Chi, so I spent, you guessed it, a year looking at Tai Chi video’s, taking workshops and just doing a lot of Tai Chi.

I wanted to be a better parent so I googled best parenting books and read a bunch. Many sucked, many did not. Overall we are improving, or at least our daughter says so.

I wanted to go to the moon, turns out it’s just not going to happen. I was very sad, upset and miserable and I got over it and found a different goal to work on.

With google and youtube you can really learn basically anything from anywhere. A trick with goals is to pick something in your level of achievement. If you are in grade one, do not have a goal of going into grade seven next year. You will likely fail. Even if you really, really try.

You can have a 6 year goal of getting into grade seven and the first step is to pass grade one, and get into grade two.

Many people’s goals do not work because they watch too much TV and think they are just going to lace up their shoes and go run a marathon in a couple of weeks, because some guy on YouTube did it. Maybe they did and maybe it’s a lie. Either way you will be better off picking some goal that is “SMART”, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time limit. You can google a million sites to help you set goals.

For me it’s easy. What do I want. Then I build a plan to get there. Some, like going to the moon, will never happen and others will. I have been doing goals for 30 years and it’s really made a huge difference in my life. I normally pick 5 a year and if they are all done before the year is over I think of some more.

Give it a try, what can you loose? I never worried about what I could loose. I focused on what I gained from it.

Be Well,
Ward Willison
Acupuncture & Other Natural Therapies


Surviving Christmas – or any other ‘festive time’

Well it’s here again that super happy, ever relaxing, healthy holiday time. Not really your experience of it? Well read on for some help.

Move far away to a tropical country for December. Not an option either?

Work changes in December, it’s 75% stress cases vs the regular 20%. I love a good stress case just like the next acupuncturist but it is so unnecessary.

Step one keep your regular sleep times. If there is one thing to have a happier, healthier life is get sleep and likely more of it.

If you, your children or anyone you meet is regularly miserable, get them more sleep and magic can happen. Everyone feels better and acts better with appropriate amounts of sleep. Start with 8 hours of on your back in a bed and go from there. Can’t sleep? Call me.

Eat whatever, just don’t over eat. It is likely too much to ask to eat healthy in December. But overeating can be avoided. Also don’t skip meals to have ‘more room’ for the big meal. It really messes with your blood sugar levels and that will affect your mood, likely not in a good way.

Don’t watch TV in November or December, that way you won’t know all the latest things you just must buy for you and everyone you know. Look around your house at all the awesome things you just had to have and do you use them? Buy something consumable (food) for gifts and at least it may get used. Or make jam, salsa, antipasto, sauce, spiced nuts etc. and give them that.

What to do about going to the in-laws for x-mass and all the fun that brings. Well the easy one is don’t go. “But everyone will be so upset”. Does that include you? if not maybe it’s time to start your own family tradition. Everyone loves family traditions, they have to start somewhere, why not now. Make up something your family unit can actually enjoy. Everyone will understand, really.

Mostly just be kind to yourself. Most stores do half! of their sales pre-xmass. There is a lot of marketing to make you feel like crap if you don’t go massively into debt and give all your money to a store in return for future junk.

Take a breath, life is short. If your going to buy something, buy memories not future junk. Go make some good memories this December and good luck.

Be Well,
Ward Willison
Acupuncture & Other Natural Therapies

Lessons from the wises

I have a couple of book reviews from one author.

30 Lessons for Living by Karl Pillemer

Worth a read: the short notes are he interviewed 1000 seniors and asked them some questions and this is some of what they had to say.

Relationships: Marry someone a lot like you. Friendship is as important as romantic love. Don’t keep score in a relationship. Talk to each other. Don’t just commit to your partner – commit to the marriage itself.

Careers: Choose a career for the intrinsic rewards, not just the money. Don’t give up on looking for a job that makes you happy. Make the most of a bad job. Emotional intelligence trumps every other kind. Everyone needs autonomy.

Parenting: It’s all about time. Spend more with them. It’s normal to have favorites, but never show it. Don’t hit your kids. Avoid a rift at all costs. Take a lifelong view of relationships with children.

Aging: Being old is much better than you think. Act now like you will need your body for a hundred years. Don’t worry about dying-the experts don’t. Stay connected. Plan ahead about where you will live.

Living without regrets: Time is of the essence. Happiness is a choice, not a condition. Time spent worrying is time wasted. Think small, enjoy simple daily pleasures. Have faith, how and what you worship is up to you.

He wrote another book called: “30 Lessons for Loving” and it is so good, I bought a copy to give to my daughter one day.

There are so many good points in this book it’s just easier if you go buy it. It’s great if a person is looking for a partner, has a partner or is thinking of leaving their partner. It has fantastic points on how to choose a partner, keep them, be kept by them, raise kids….

I have read my share of relationship books but I so far have only bought and kept “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”, “Mars and Venus in the bedroom”, “Hold me tight”, “Are you the one for me” and this book. I may have a few others on the shelf but if you read that list you’ll be on your way to a happy relationship.

One of my teachers had a talk with me once. I told him I had no intention of getting married. I thought after seeing my parents divorce it would be a lot easier to stay single. He explained to me that is a okay choice but my life will never evolve. I will never have to grow and adapt and become more. I will never know the height of pleasures and certainly some deeper moments of concern. It will be like living with 8 colors to paint with, while more challenging is being married and more challenging is having children. But, it will be like painting with a million colors.

I had a few relationship failures. When I fail I go to the bookstore and get six books on the subject read them and see how it goes. I am sure glad I did.

Be Well,
Ward Willison
Acupuncture & Other Natural Therapies


Perspective from a Sailor’s point of view

My wife recently competed in the Re/Max Women’s Keel boat sailing championships. Held at the Kelowna Yacht Club. It was fantastic, the wind did what it does here (a bit irregular) but the event was run perfectly.

I had the opportunity to be in the group that listened to protests from competitors on rule infractions and was that interesting.

To protect the innocent I will modify the story a bit. A competitor protested another boat for fouling them. Lets say, boat ‘B’ said boat ‘A’ cut off boat B and sailed upwind of them. A said they did no such thing and A sailed happily downwind of them!

Forget the alleged ‘cut off’, one group said they went up and the other said down and they where very, very sure of their stories. How can this be? The actual “judge” that came into town to make sure we did things correctly said this happens all the time.

He normally goes out on the water with his tape recorder and records all close calls and fouls he sees so when they get back to the protest room he can refresh his memory and have the correct decision, otherwise most of these protests would never get solved.

We had some video from a drone helicopter showing some of these situations and when you hear the boats describe it before you see the video you could not believe it when you actually see what did happen. Lets just say the video normally told a different story.

Why is this? Well it has to do with stress and memory. The more stressed out you get the more of your senses go haywire. But your senses don’t tell you that. So you can literally have one eye turn off and get monocular vision, which will radically limit your depth perception. You can read hundreds of stories of quarterbacks in big games not hearing the crowds yell. They are so focused and wound up their ears turn off, amazing but true.

Then there is your memory, or specifically how you transfer sensory data into short and medium term memory. Put it like this, if you don’t do it a lot, take a race, process it and sort out the ‘facts’ in your short term memory and then push it to medium term memory all while continuing to race, your going to do a poor job. But again your memory is not going to tell you that. Heck even if you do, the judge has been to world championships and the world best sailors have opposing stories as well.

What has this to do with regular life. Well I have spent a few afternoons talking to people about their recollection of past traumas, life events and other various memories. I can tell you their recalled stories are about as true and clear as a sailors. But again their memory is just not letting them know that, and most of us are suffering for it.

Many, many of our experiences are not as good or bad as we think. I encourage you to challenge your thinking and memory. Ask yourself is there any possibility you could be a little, or a lot, off on your recollection.  Ask some others about the event and be open to what you hear, because neither of you likely have the story correct.

I am not saying your abuse did not happen or you did not suffer when a loved one died. More the guy that cut you off in traffic was not out to get you. Or the office worker that ‘snubbed’ you for not saying hello, likely was not out to get you either. So many of life’s protests are not exactly as you remember them.

If you want to see how you observe and transfer information to your brain with a few tests try these youtube video’s here.

To see some of the pics of the race click here.

To see a cool drone video of it click here.

Be Well,
Ward Willison
Acupuncture & Other Natural Therapies

Spend time with the one’s you love

This summer I took Mondays off and had Daddy Daughter Day. It was a big hit with my daughter. We went biking, hiking, swimming, Scandia, painted windows (that was not her favorite) and other fun stuff.

I look at it a number of ways. It’s tough on the work. It’s wonderful on the daughter. I am a big fan of a couple of books. One is “how to hold on to your kids” the other is “hold me tight”. One is for kids and one is for marriage but both really say the same thing.

Spend time and lots of it with people you want to be in a relationship with, if you want it to last.

For many many years, there was a theory of ‘separation’. Meaning everyone is just going to go out on their own and be a lone wolf. Your kids are going to grow up, separate, move out and forget your name. Your spouse is going to grow older, separate, move out and find someone else s name.

Then a few doctor’s started writing about “attachment theory”, which was ridiculed during the time “separation theory” ruled. Attachment theory is basically we become attached to people and are strongly influenced by them versus people we are not so attached to.

One of the ways to get people to attach to you is to do things with them. Build stories together, live adventures together, sit together, eat together, talk.

I read a quote years ago that I never believed until life proved it to me in a painful way. “The person you are, will be the same person you will be, when you reach the end.”

Many people think when they make a million, or get a degree, or go to Hawaii, ect. They will magically change into a super person and everyone will love them and call them and want to spend time with them.

That will be true if they where a decent person along the way, if not, good luck.

So taking a day off may make me work longer into my 70’s, I may loose patients to other clinics. I may keep my daughter loving me and calling me daddy. You can guess what’s happening next summer.

To all the lovely people that actually read these posts thank you and go spend some time with someone you want to.

Be Well,
Ward Willison
Acupuncture & Other Natural Therapies

Vacation, an opportunity to UNPLUG

Recently we went away for our summer sailing trip. We went up to Desolation Sound. I was amazed how many mega yacht’s there where compared to our last trip. These boats are worth millions. Last time there where a hundred boats worth over $100K each but this time it was big money. I think the yachting world has found us.

Amazingly enough many like to play loud music till late at night, loud enough so everyone can hear them but certainly not enjoy it. Many like to park in the ‘navigable’ water way, I guess so we can all motor around them and have a good look. On shore many where on their cell phones. I am not sure where they are getting service from as we are in the middle of nowhere but I guess a cell tower on the top of a big mountain can travel far.

I have talked to several clients about a theory on eye deterioration. Back in the not so distant past, there where no lights after sundown. Things like reading, TV, computers etc. where just not happening and the eyes got to rest. Many point to lights as causing massive eye strain and vision deterioration.

I think most things got more actual down time 50 years ago. I think for the past 200 thousand years it’s been like that and now we just go, go, go. Then many people just stop.

Heart attack, tumors, strokes, you name it. It just ‘came on suddenly. No real reason we can think of’. Hey folks, take some time and STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING! The great Buddhist quote, “don’t just do something, sit there”.

I have some great study’s on executives on holidays and how they go nuts, with no work to do. Their shrinks say take a few hours of work a day to take the edge off. Holly cow we’ve lost it. Do yourselves a favor, whether it’s on holidays or just during the week. Unplug and get your body some down time. You will be very glad you did.

Here’s some pics of the trip.

Be Well,
Ward Willison
Acupuncture & Other Natural Therapies



A discovery that changes medical textbooks

Recently I got a research paper that said there is a lymph system in the brain. I did not know that was a big deal. For years I have seen lymph drawings of the body and there where no pathways drawn on the head. I thought that was just for looks, but no, all this time western medicine said there was NO lymph system in the brain.

So some scientists recently found it. Click here to read the article.

It’s a big deal as so many degenerative brain diseases will have to be looked at very differently now.

It really is a wonder with the millions of autopsies done and all the images of heads, no one has found it before. They have built protocols and procedures around the thinking that there is no lymph in the head and it all made perfect sense all over the world for decades. But it was all made up to fit the model they had.

How many other things about the body do we have completely wrong? It’s a very scary thing. Humans are excellent at making theory’s, or things they say are totally true and finding study’s and research to prove them correct. I wonder how long it will be before your GP is aware of this study and it’s implications in Parkinson’s, Dementia, Alzheimer’s, brain injuries…

I have seen several of these “amazing discovery’s” in my 15+ years in Acupuncture. While true that western medicine has many more things correct than wrong. It is important to keep in mind the person that said there was lymph in the head a year ago, without this study and proof, would have been burned at the stake. How many others are saying things today that will be proven correct in time.

The old picture and the new, the difference has staggering implications to patient care, university teaching, and I think to how we “proved” something that was wrong for decades.


From the study:
In a stunning discovery that overturns decades of textbook teaching, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have determined that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist.

Be Well,
Ward Willison
Acupuncture & Other Natural Therapies