Goodbye to All That, on Loving and Leaving a Clinic

This was an essay I wrote as I am saying goodbye to the Clinic I have worked at for 4 years, owned for 2.5 and given thousands of acupuncture treatments to hundreds of people. The end is bittersweet and marks the beginning of a full launch into Well in the West. 

Inspired by Joan Didion’s  - Goodbye to All That, on Loving and Leaving New York.

“It is easy to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends.” - Joan Didion

I remember the first time I found Service Workers’ Acupuncture Project on Yelp. It was a block from my apartment and treatments were done in a group setting. It was different from other community style clinics because there were massage tables instead of chairs. I had a background in community acupuncture, which usually means 5-10 recliners in a room. SWAP stood out because it had an intimacy I hadn’t seen in other group acupuncture clinics.

When I first introduced myself to Holly, the owner of SWAP, I said ‘Of the many community clinics that are now available in San Francisco, your clinic seems to align with many values that I have in my own life and practice.’ We made a lunch date, we chatted. She thought about how to incorporate me into her business and it happened easily, one baby step at a time.

My introduction sentence to Holly is still true now. This clinic, Service Workers Acupuncture Project is the most aligned with many values that I have in my own life and practice. It has been really important to keep the acupuncture affordable. It has been really important to keep acupuncture in a group setting. It has been really important to me to have space for loved ones to come get treatment together.

I have treated spouses, parents and children, best friends, business partners, on the tables next one another. The quiet exchange of glances that loved ones have as they come out of an acupuncture treatment is incredibly precious. It’s a fleeting moment of peace and connection. I can see how incredible it is to transform alongside someone you love. To somehow mend your heart a little bit, or walk away with a little less pain.  The love that emanates from people after an acupuncture treatment is almost tangible. It radiates exponentially more when the people in the room already have love for one another.

Over the past four years I have been able to celebrate with patients. It has always been a victory to fend off cancer for another year, to celebrate a pregnancy or birth. I have stood alongside people as they have quit their jobs or marriages, traveled the world, gotten their dream jobs, battled cancer and graduated school all while taking some time to get some acupuncture. I have also shared sorrow with patients as they have lost their parents, friends and colleagues, and for me, this year as I lost my dad. Celebrations and sorrows are focal points in the clinic. Together we mark growth, pain, and the passing of time.

I am lucky. Because, on a daily basis, I get to share in incredibly tender human moments. It is truly an honor to be an acupuncturist, to see these changes big and small, life changing, earth shattering. It reminds me that we all go through this. We are all on this ride together.

It has been an incredibly challenging decision to leave all that 513 Valencia has held for me, for us, and our time together. However, I am excited to make a bigger impact with Chinese medicine, and all the human tenderness that happens on a daily basis. I will be focusing most of my time on Well in the West’s new Seasonal Health Coaching program. It will be launching in the fall.

I will still be seeing patients privately in my home in Berkeley for now. And if you want to keep in touch on what treatment options, education I am offering, please hop on the newsletter for Well in the West. I will sometimes bare my soul, and sometimes give you recipes. It all goes together.

With great love & tenderness for all your healing,

Lauren Kaneko-Jones