When I met acupuncturist Dianne M. Connelly, I was a highly impressionable young woman dealing with tremendous spiritual dilemmas and an identity crisis brought on by years of being picked on for not being black enough and more than a decade of not being connected to a nuclear family. I was introduced to her by an acupuncture student and friend who was trying to interest me in acupuncture treatment.
My friend’s teacher, the esteemed J.R. Worsley, was visiting from England and there was a gathering at Dianne’s house to welcome him. My friend informed me of how important Worsley–or J.R., as everyone called him–was to her studies and suggested that I might want to go to meet him and her other friends and mentors.
When we got to Dianne’s townhouse, I noticed that the energy in the room was different than I had ever experienced in my young life. There was a kind of listening occurring that I learned later was part of this acupuncture community’s core principals. When I saw Dianne sitting in an old Lazy Boy recliner near the patio door, it seemed as if she was holding court. She was full with her baby Jade, who was soon to be born. People were going over to her and hovering in conversation. Occasionally a hand would reach out to feel the babe move or kick in her belly.
When we were introduced, my immediate impression was that Dianne was probably one of the most vibrant people I’d ever met. Without knowing me, she was genuinely glad to see me. I often still feel that sense of vibrancy when she’s around and marvel at the notion of how proud I am to have a friend like her. She and I eventually embarked upon a multi-faceted relationship, which began with her treating me with traditional acupuncture.
Having been a patient of Western medicine who suffered from periodic breathing difficulties, allergies, infections, digestive and bladder issues and a broken spirit, this acupuncture–and more specifically the experience with Dianne at the time–was life altering. I learned what it meant to live with an open heart and embarked on this lifelong journey toward not only healing but also being a healing presence.
Our long and at times tumultuous relationship spans over thirty years. Through those years I learned about the importance of what I speak into existence and how my work, all of our work is world work. Dianne and I have this funny commitment, which I’m not sure other friends do. It came into being after a long road trip in her red Checker Marathon to the “North Country” and her hometown in upstate New York.
When we arrived in Binghamton to visit her brother, we were having a wonderful time and I said to her, “I love you.” She told me she loved me back and then added “no matter what!” Right there in her brother’s laundry room we both declared “no matter what.” I guess that would be the equivalent of being blood sisters or brothers. I don’t remember any of the teenage friends that I made that kind of eternity pact with, though I went to too many schools with not enough time to bond and remember.
Well, we managed to get into this awful fight a couple of days later while driving on a snow covered road between her sister’s house and mother’s house in Potsdam. The fight was so intense that when she stopped the car, I got out in the middle of nowhere. I eventually got back in the car, but the ride to her mom’s and that whole night was awful. My feelings were typical of someone wrestling with an extreme sense of loathing for a person loved and fear of rejection.
The next day, we ended our argument and resumed our connection in that place of openheartedness. More than 30 years later, we still refer back to that pledge of “no matter what” because, like anyone else, we are fragile and imperfect human beings who struggle with the complexities of our lives. There are still quarrels, places where we stumble; however, there is the essential core of us ever vibrant in the promise of allowing love to dominate.
Her latest book, Medicine Words: Language of Love for the Treatment Room of Life (2009), delves into the ontology of a language devoted to love. Through an integration of her own life’s lessons, observations of her patients, spiritual principles, philosophy, five-element theory and poetry, she offers insight into embodying a healing presence. Many of the essays originally appeared in MERIDIANS Magazine, a publication of the TAI Sophia Institute, and some have been revisited to reflect decades of wisdom earned.
The Little Patuxent Review and Columbia Art Center Salon Series is honored to have Dianne Connelly as a guest on January 24, 2011 at 7:30 pm, where she will share passages from this newest book and enter a conversation about the Language of Love. Come prepared to be “goosed” to a sense of awareness about how we toss about our language and how we have control of whether we nurture or neglect our obligation to love.
Dianne M. Connelly, Ph.D., M.Ac. (UK), Dipl.Ac. (NCCAOM) is the co-founder and Chancellor Emeritus of Tai Sophia Institute and a practitioner of traditional acupuncture since 1973. She received her master’s qualification from the College of Traditional Acupuncture (UK) in 1979. She earned a doctorate in cross-cultural medicine from Union Graduate College in 1975, a master’s degree from New York University School of Education in 1970, and her bachelor’s degree from Le Moyne College in 1967. An international lecturer, she is the author ofTraditional Acupuncture: The Law of the Five Elements (1975),All Sickness is Homesickness (1986), and with Katherine Hancock Porter,Alive and Awake: Wisdom for Kids (2003).