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About Me

41 years ago, I had my first acupuncture treatment. I was covered with psoriasis so thick and proliferative, that I looked like a leper. People were afraid to touch me. Moms, moved their kids away from me, thinking I was contagious. I was 18 years old and working in a record store. Since I was 5, I spent every winter in the dermatologist's office getting UV light treatments and picking up lotion and potion scripts to at least moisten the large scaly scabs on my body and scalp. I never thought about the future of possible skin cancer from the light treatments. I was just desperate to look normal. The winter before I turned 18, my Derm was trying out a new treatment, injecting steroids directly into psoriasis lesions. I was up for it. But when the next winter came- I always flared in the winter- my outbreak was the worst ever. My Leper Outbreak. My doctors were so shocked by the severity, they had nothing to offer me but the possibility of intravenous steroids, which would do real long-term damage to my body, with no promise of making any real healing progress. No other form of treatment was offered.

Today, they would offer me immune suppressant drugs. An easy choice, with significant and life- threatening consequences. And my life would have taken a very different turn. Instead, I found acupuncture...

The first acupuncturist I visited was very clinical. She had me disrobe and put on a paper gown. When she came in the treatment room to look at me, her jaw dropped open. And she said, "I cannot help you" and walked out of the room.

The second acupuncturist I visited had a more relaxed atmosphere. I was offered tea in a waiting room. And he asked me to come into his office for a consultation before treatment. He looked and listened. And then he said, "I can help you. But you will need to make diet and lifestyle changes. I will give you a sheet explaining how you need to eat and drink. And you will need to see me for 3 months. 3x/wk for the 1st month. 2x/wk for the 2nd month and 1/wk for the 3rd month. If you follow this treatment plan, you will heal. If you do not, you won't. And if you do not follow it completely, without cheating, you will not heal. But if you do, I guarantee, you will." I followed his treatment plan completely, cheating only once. And my acupuncturist felt it in my pulse. I confessed and never cheated again. At the end of 3 months, I was completely lesion-free. This was in 1981 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

This experience not only changed how I lived and ate, it changed how I viewed health and healing. What I believed about the world had just been blown open. It was the most transformational 3 months of my life. I now had a beginner's mind. And I was excited to learn more about natural healing. What else could it do? What else could I learn? So, I looked into becoming an acupuncturist. There was one school in Santa Fe, but it was out of my reach. Unaffordable, financially. And there was no financial aid for acu schools in those days.

You see, I grew up poor. Sometimes working class, but mostly Latina single-mom artist, going to school poor. I'm talking government cheese and powdered milk poor and seeing a parent slip a block of cheese into her purse poor, when things were really bad. So, acupuncture school at that time was not an option. I, and we, did not have the financial power to help me pay for school.

Still, my experience with Chinese Medicine did more than just teach me how to adjust my lifestyle and diet to maintain my health. It taught me how to relax, without weed, alcohol or other distractions. During treatment was the first time I felt consistently calm, and light and happy, naturally. Looking back, it's actually the first time I knew what it felt like to be healthy in body and mind. And I wanted to learn how to maintain that, without acupuncture, because I had lost my job and could not afford maintenance treatment any longer. I was paying $35/treatment in 1981. Adjusted for inflation, that's $113/treatment today in 2022.

So I began a journey...

My experience with acupuncture and Chinese Medicine felt like magic to me. I was unable to learn about and understand the science of what I'd experienced, yet. And when I went back to my doctors to share with them how I had healed, they shrugged it off as a spontaneous healing. Acupuncture, diet, and lifestyle changes had nothing to do with it as far as they were concerned. So, I began reading about alternative medicines and practicing meditation and deep relaxation. I knew what I had experienced was real. And I wanted to learn why and how. And more than that, I wanted to continue to grow my ability to be my own healer and build on what my acupuncturist had taught me.

So, I began with guided deep relaxation. I found, at first, that it was really hard to be present in my body. I could barely keep my eyes closed as I practiced. And I would fidget with agitation, as I tried to listen to my cassette tape. Acupuncture had almost immediately relaxed me, during treatment. And although I was trying to duplicate my healing experience the best I knew how with the guided relaxation, the results weren't the same. Being present in my body, consciously, I was discovering, was quite uncomfortable. Acupuncture was able to do something for me that I could not duplicate. Not because I'm high-strung. I'm actually the opposite. But because I had experienced quite a significant amount of trauma in my childhood, all the way back to my earliest memories, when my parents were still married. Both of my parents were abused and neglected as kids. And they both grew up in poverty. My father was actually abandoned for part of his childhood because his mother was unable to care for him. And although my parents tried their best not to harm us and did not pass on some of the most harmful things they experienced from their parents, I still experienced significant pain and suffering. By the time I was 18, I was a survivor of multiple sexual traumas at the hands of people I knew. And I had grown up way too young. The emotional pain was nearly always present. But since it had been with me, as long as my memories, I wasn't really conscious of it, until after my healing experience with Chinese Medicine, because it wasn't until then that I had something healthy and healing to compare it to... 

I had also learned really harmful ways of communicating with myself and others, that I could see only partially and didn't know how to change. The unhealthy survival habits of generations were a part of me. What I thought and said, how I felt, and how I acted were formed and influenced by the conditions of my environment. As is true for all of us.

Until acupuncture, I had eased my pain primarily with weed and alcohol from a very early age, like nearly everyone I knew did. After acupuncture, I knew life could be different. But I was still learning how. Very gradually, I began to become more comfortable in my body as I continued to meditate, follow my acupuncture diet and grow my new healing skills. I got my GED and began my first attempt at a 4 year college. Standing on the UNM campus at 19, I fully experienced seeing a sunset for the first time. I will never forget it. The sheer joy and beauty of the New Mexico sky, was so, palpable... I felt my connection to the natural world deeply, emotionally and kinesthetically. And it felt so good. I could feel myself emerging from my survival protection cocoon of disconnection and disassociation. With my own lived experience, I was connecting to the joy of life. And moving more consciously into a spiritual world.

Until, 2 new and significant traumas derailed me.

I didn't have the mental and emotional strength to withstand them. And I still did not have enough money coming in to return to acupuncture, for help. I dropped out of college, and the psoriasis slowly returned. And though the psoriasis was not nearly as bad as before, because I was still using what I had learned about diet, it was hanging out a bit around wintertime. I began self-medicating with alcohol and weed again, looking for relief. Still, I persevered. And slowly, as I stuck to my acupuncture diet from the ages of 19-25, and kept practicing with meditation and relaxation, my psoriasis cleared again.

I remember what I felt like when I turned 25, a quarter of a century. I was brushing my cat's tail on the bed, in front of the tv, when I discovered I was surprised I was still alive. I realized a part of me didn't believe I would live this long. Some of my friends hadn't, including my best friend Berta, who didn't make it to 21. It was a bit shocking to hear myself consciously think that thought. My life was a swinging pendulum, between spiritual comfort, a nearly complete lack of basic life skills and healthy emotional support. I still lived a primarily reactive life at that point. And although I had some powerful healing tools to draw on, I was unaware my survival brain was running the show. Soon, my practical life completely fell apart and I moved to California.

I knew if I wanted a real shot at a healthy and lasting life, I needed more help. Once again, I searched for acupuncture. And once again, I found it to be unaffordable for me. So after a brief search and a good referral, I found a good therapist. I knew I needed to let all the poison out, somewhere safe. Carrying all the painful memories, feelings, habits and thoughts around with me was too much to bear. And I needed both some new life skills and a place to purge. In the foundations of Healthy Boundaries, this is the Good In/Bad Out skill and practice. The work was painful and deep. There were days I left the office with a migraine. And days where the reality of my pain was so harsh, I could not get out of bed. But eventually, and without medication, I healed enough to leave therapy. And I did it without the assistance of acupuncture, which would have helped so much. But I could barely afford therapy. My therapist gave me a significant price break, because I was determined, consistent and committed to heal. Qualities I had learned from my acupuncturist.

About 4 years post therapy, at 31, I began a new chapter of my life and enrolled as an Ada Comstock Scholar at Smith College. There was enough healing under my belt for a 2nd try at college, or so I thought. A few months after arriving though, I found my mental health acutely challenged again. I was unprepared for the culture-class shock I encountered. I was trying to find where I fit in and searching for common ground and experiences with other women there. It was very difficult. All of us feel most comfortable with others who share our experiences, beliefs and values. That way we don't have to translate, and we can just relax in knowing we are much more likely to be understood. Our defenses drop as we feel the chance for being judged as less than or different, declines. I needed help to navigate it all, because it was very clear I was different, in all kinds of ways. And my chances for being understood and understanding others, was much smaller than where I came from. Of course, the first thing I searched for was acupuncture. And again, unaffordable for me- 100/hr. So I powered through, using food as my primary pain medication. I tried a little therapy. But did not get much relief from it. I had stopped meditating. I often think about how much easier Smith would have been for me if I had access to Chinese Medicine there. 

It was at Smith though, that I slowly began to discover who I was, mainly due to my chafing at being encouraged to fit into a mold. I had gone there originally thinking it was my ticket to a life of possibilities, mainly around money. That this degree would somehow magically give me access to financial healing and respectability. It didn't. But, it did bring me much closer to understanding my core values. And, it taught me a lot about how harmful classism really is, to all of us, no matter what position on the hierarchical ladder we find ourselves. I remember talking to young students, trapped into careers and educations they didn't want, because their parents insisted. And it was their parents who were paying their tuitions. In peer support groups I heard young women share unspeakable horrors they endured at home, silently, hoping maybe this degree could help them escape a parent's clutches. And seeing these same young women being picked up in limousines, to go home for school break. I began to more clearly understand the leverage access to money has on all of us. And all the harmful and judgmental stories we've learned to tell ourselves and each other about who and why some of us have a lot, and some of us have a little. An invaluable education that will serve me for the rest of my life. It was at Smith I also learned that I believe no one earns what they're worth. And that the size of a person's bank account is not a reflection of their character, value or skill set, it is simply the size of a bank account. Degree in hand, and literally counting the days before I could go home, I moved back to California.

After a year spent healing from my college experience, I was miserable and unhealthy. I had given up trying to find affordable acupuncture. And resigned myself to sucking it up. I was also still stuck a bit in the learned habit of trying to fit myself into a mold of what other's wanted and expected of me, rather than what I wanted and who I needed to be. Under pressure, I was trying to figure out what to do next. I thought SDSU might be a good choice, if I applied to their Creative Writing Program. Maybe, I could write and teach. So I began the process of applying. I had been writing essays and poetry at Smith. Writing was very cathartic and soothing. Sharing my voice helped me feel seen and heard. And it also let some of the pain out. It was one area I was able to bond with others around in college. But my mom, who had gone to acupuncture school while I was getting my BA, kept telling me she thought I should become an acupuncturist. She had been telling me that before I was getting ready to go to Smith, and I remember saying, "No. I want to get my BA. You know I've always wanted to do that. Why don't you go to acupuncture school?" And she did. In her 50s. You know that old adage of mom's always knowing best? Yeah. So, to appease her, I sat in on an OM 1 Theory class at Pacific College here in San Diego, in the hopes of silencing her once and for all. That was back when Alex Tiberi was teaching. Thank you, Alex, you are missed. At the end of class, I knew. I knew this was what I was meant to do. I had come home. 

I also knew it would put me deep into debt, probably for the rest of my life. And that it would be highly unlikely I'd be able to make a decent living at it. This was when there was no such thing as getting a job as an acupuncturist. And the highest degrees we could attain did not allow us to call ourselves doctors in California (that has changed). You could teach, work as an acupuncturist part-time while holding down another job and/or have your spouse support your part-time career. This is what my mom and nearly all of my teachers and supervisors experienced. Acupuncture was a boutique practice in America then. And I did not grow up or circulate in upper class circles, even after my Smith experience. I also knew my marriage would probably end over it. And it did. Still, I followed my heart and 6 years later and over 100,000 dollars in student loan debt, I graduated. I got a lot of acupuncture over those years, finally, because it was FREE!!!!! for me as a student. And I started healing, even in the midst of the grind of Chinese Medical School. I learned so much more about how to heal myself and others physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The medicine was more profound and capable of caring for our health simply and naturally, than anything I had ever imagined. I gained invaluable knowledge on how our bodies actually work. If all of us learned the basics of anatomy and physiology, I believe we would ALL be healthier and much less likely to be influenced by the "easy media answers all around us."  But how was I going to start a practice and make a living, especially one I felt good about? After a year of searching the internet for ideas and discovering what other practitioners were doing, I discovered Lisa Rohleder and Community Acupuncture. This fit me.

In 2007, after taking a Community Acupuncture training at her Working Class Acupuncture clinic, my mom and I opened Healthy Community Acupuncture here in El Cajon. The first Community Acupuncture Clinic in San Diego County. I knew after all my experiences with class and money and health and education that I could not practice and charge rates I could not afford. I just couldn't do it. Finally, I was beginning to learn I had a deep need to serve those of us who are left out of the health care system, both western and so-called alternative. I did not want to charge others what I and so many like me, could not afford. So, I had 8 chairs and charged $15-35 treatment with a $10 paperwork fee following the CA model. And gave thousands of treatments treating everything from colds/flus to acute/chronic physical pain to acute and chronic anxiety/depression to women's health to palliative care to just helping people feel good! I learned so much about the power of this medicine and the myriad things it can treat. I developed treatment plans I never learned in school. And watched patients heal from physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health complaints. But I didn't know how to effectively build community or ask for help. And I didn't know how to create work/life balance and effective systems for growth and management. I was trying to do nearly everything myself. It was my dream. But not my mom's. And I was burning out. I made it last for 5 years until I got so sick I could only work for a few weeks at a time. Eventually, I was destitute enough to qualify for medi-cal and the surgery I needed to heal. The clinic closed. My mom went back to private practice. And I started practicing out of my home.

Once again, my health- mental, emotional and physical- took over my life. I had unknowingly been living with severe endometriosis since I was a teenager. Endo is a rule-out disease. So, unless you have really good insurance it is quite unlikely to be diagnosed, much less effectively treated. As someone who has rarely had health insurance in my life, it wasn't until mine became completely physically debilitating, that I was able to get help. And I had to be flat broke to get it. Also, during this time I was living with a man who was carrying a big secret and living a secret life. And as I discovered it, I also discovered a very big family secret, that had been affecting my life, specifically my choices of romantic partners, in an unhealthy and repetitive pattern. A year after surgery, I left him. And began to rebuild my life and my practice again in 2016, with a clarity I had never known. I started a hybrid practice- part private, part community- to fit the practice space I could afford. Recovering from what therapists now call betrayal trauma, was devastating. My trauma history was triggered. I was in deep and unrelenting emotional pain. And I turned again to acupuncture and Chinese Medicine as my primary from of health care. It also gave me the most significant results. Between regular treatment and herbal therapy, I could function and find respites of peace and healing. I was able to earn a living, grow my practice and heal. And I learned so much along the way. There are reasons people keep secrets. But honesty, is a primary foundation on which all healthy relationships are built. If you don't have it, it is nearly impossible to make informed and healthy choices. And nearly impossible to learn how to communicate with yourself and others in ways that aren't harmful. The next step was to truly learn how to create and maintain healthy relationships with myself and others- physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. So, I took it. And transformed, again.

I began another healing journey, focusing on the intersection of my physical, mental and emotional health with acupuncture and Chinese Medicine at the center of my treatment plan. I learned how to create and maintain healthy boundaries and communicate nonviolently. The gaslighting was gone from my immediate environment. And when it surfaced in other areas of my life, I had the opportunity of honing my skills on how to spot it and deal with it in healthy ways. The veil was lifting. And the healing was revolutionary. I had the most comprehensive set of healing skills I'd ever known. I was learning how to truly care for each aspect of my health. And I was also getting a deeper knowledge of how Chinese Medicine put this all together. As I continued to dig deeper, especially during Covid, when many of the monks began to share their knowledge more in depth online to help people find peace and healing in the midst of a worldwide epidemic, I more deeply understood how healthy boundary and compassionate communication skills are part of our medicine. There is much to be learned from Taoist, Shaolin, and Buddhist traditions. They are the keepers of the lineage and deep and comprehensive roots of the medicine. Two of the most valuable sources I have found are Shaolin Temple Europe and The Plum Village Tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. And if you understand the basics of yin/yang theory, you can see how these 2 traditions complement each other. I am truly grateful for what they teach and offer, as I continue to learn and practice. And all of this knowledge and my deepening skill sets continually help me heal and transform my life in conscious and compassionate ways that serve the wellbeing of me, and you, and all life.

Health and healing are skills we learn and hone as long as we live. If the conditions we grow up in are fortunate, we can see that more clearly and make healthier choices accordingly, most of the time. If our conditions are not, our journey will have more ups and downs, detours and challenges. More pain and suffering. What we learn and inherit from our environment, our ancestors, our culture and our educations, as well as our personalities, shape how we see and live in the world. They determine the amount and depth of pain and suffering in our lives, as well as the amount and depth of our joy, peace and freedom. Before you think you know whether something works or not, or how well, or whether it's real or not, ask yourself, "are you sure?" If I had closed my mind to the possibility that acupuncture and Chinese Medicine didn't work or only treated pain and was unable to help me heal my emotional pain and mental anguish, my life would be very different today. And very likely much less healthy, on all levels. I can see, looking back on this story, how personal growth and healing are core values for me. And I can also see how it was initially desperation and nowhere else to turn that led me down this path. I could have stopped my healing journey at the physical level. There were so many other roads I could have taken. But this is my unique journey. And I am truly grateful for it. And I am deeply grateful for all acupuncture and Chinese Medicine has and continues to offer me to continue to transform my pain and suffering into health and healing- every day.

So... I offer you the opportunity to learn how to heal naturally. And to learn to deepen your awareness, nurture joy, communicate compassionately and care for your uncomfortable emotions without running away or medicating them into delay and disease. I offer you a pathway for your body and your mind to learn and practice healthy balance without drugs, serious side effects and costly medical interventions. I offer you the gift of healing transformation, in your daily life.

Pain and healing will always be a part of our lives, just more consciously so for those who live with chronic disease. It is the yin/yang of life. There is no one without the other. It is, and always will be, a process. A journey, a path, a wave, a spiral, a circle. A taijitu.

Now you can see a little better why I specialize in working with those of us who suffer with chronic diseases- physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Learning how to heal and live with chronic disease is an integral part of my path, personally and professionally. I have much to share with you and learn from you. And I look forward to working with you on your healing path.


About Me - MARCOTTE ACUPUNCTURE $40-60 sliding scale in El Cajon, La Mesa. Santee, Lakeside, Jamul

Tuesday 9-6
Wednesday 9-1
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Friday    9-12

Community Acu Fridays 3-7