The following interview with Ginger Michels, owner of A Touch of Ginger, was published in The Bridge Living Magazine in December 2018.
Where did you grow up? How long have you lived in the area?
I was born and raised right here in Aurora, a lifelong resident. My childhood was filled with joy and happiness until I was 12 years old when my father asked for a divorce from my mother after nearly 20 years of marriage and three children. When he divorced my mom, he divorced me and my two brothers. I have only seen him a few times since then at my grandparents’ funerals. My youngest brother Peter is mentally handicapped and my other brother Ed and I are his caregivers as well as Glenkirk, a not-for-profit organization that cares for children and adults with special needs. I share this because it’s an important part of my journey. My mom has rheumatoid arthritis and has had it for more than 34 years. I am her doctor and part-time caregiver. So, I’ve been taking care of people with special needs most of my life. I do it because I love to, not because I have to. It has shaped me as a person. It’s the root of my compassion, love, and desire to take care of others. Although I would love to have a father in my life, had my father not left us, I truly believe my journey would have been much different. I am grateful to be who I am, a loving and caring daughter, sister, wife, mother, caregiver, and doctor. So, in the end…I would not change a thing about how my life has played out.
Tell us about the events that led up to where you are now.
I graduated from Rosary High School in Aurora, received my associate’s degree from Waubonsee Community College, and then graduated from Lewis University with a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science. I was then hired by the Henry Pratt Company of Aurora as an application engineer. I worked for Henry Pratt for eight years; during that time I earned a Master of Business and taught Marketing 101 at Aurora University part-time.
About 17 years ago I found myself hospitalized while doctors tried to determine the source of my abdominal pain. After three days in the hospital, I was finally diagnosed with a peptic ulcer and was faced with the reality of my poor health and obesity. The combination of my sedentary lifestyle and poor diet contributed significantly to my obesity and the development of an ulcer. It was time, and I knew it. I had to change my diet and start exercising because I never wanted to feel this sick and helpless ever again. In order to address my diagnosis, I found myself having to take different prescription medications. I knew there would be side effects to these drugs. It seemed counterintuitive to use a drug to get rid of one problem but risk causing another. Little did I know that this thinking was the start of a lifelong journey to discover health through alternative medicine.
I began reading books about natural healing and cures and discovered a whole other world I knew nothing about. I learned about Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Tui Na, Reiki, Qi Gong, Naturopathic, Homeopathy and more! It was exciting to discover so many options for healing my body. I began trying these different modalities to help heal my ulcer. I had other problems I was hoping could be helped as well such as back pain from multiple car accidents, seasonal and food allergies, and irritable bowel syndrome. I changed my diet, began exercising regularly and tried many of the alternative modalities. It was such a unique and wonderful experience to realize the symptoms of my illnesses were disappearing one by one! I lost 85 pounds over a three-year period. It felt miraculous to me and my excitement for what I had discovered began to overtake me.
I wanted to tell everyone about how these alternative medicines had given me my life back! But I knew I needed to be able to make a living. How was I going to do that with my new passion? I started researching all of the alternative modalities to understand the foundation and theories they were built upon, the education required to practice them as well as what their benefits and limitations were. Through that process, acupuncture really called to my soul. Acupuncture is just one aspect of an entire system of medicine called Traditional Chinese Medicine, otherwise referred to as TCM. It is a holistic medicine that began in China over 3,000 years ago. Modalities of Chinese Medicine are acupuncture, herbal medicine, cupping, moxibustion, and gua sha.
Every day, my passion and commitment to Chinese medicine are renewed when another person discovers life without their ailments. A Touch of Ginger, LLC is a place of healing and health. I am honored and humbled to be a healing part of my patients’ journeys to finding physical, emotional and spiritual health.
What is unique about your business?
What makes us unique from other practitioners is the style of Chinese Medicine we practice, Canonical Chinese Medicine. Only one school in the U.S. is dedicated to teaching Canonical Chinese Medicine, The Institute for Classics in East Asian Medicine (ICEAM), founded by Dr. Arnaud Versluys. I completed a two-year post-graduate program at ICEAM, earning my Diplomate in Canonical Chinese Medicine (DCCM) and have been studying under the tutelage of Dr. Versluys for over seven years. In 2017, I earned my fellowship at the Institute of Classics in East Asian Medicine.
Tell us about your family.
My husband, Stephen Behling, teaches Spanish at Oswego High School and we are very proud parents of Harrison, age 5 and Violette, age 3. As a family, we enjoy spending as much time as we can outside enjoying the nature around us. We love riding our bikes. My children have followed me in my lifelong love with LEGOS. I have been collecting since I was 6 years old. We have two LEGO cities in our basement that bring us much joy!
Given your expertise, what advice can you offer to the residents of Stonebridge?
I like to use a “house” as a metaphor for our bodies. It’s very important to take care of our homes so that they will provide shelter, safety, and a wonderful and happy place for us to reside through our lives. It’s so important to take care of it every day because just a little bit of neglect can lead to some very big problems that can require a lot of time, energy, money, and inconvenience to us. For our bodies, this translates into a good, well-rounded diet, regular exercise and stress management. This will help ensure that the body’s energy remains in balance so as to prevent disease. In the end, we only get one house, one body, so if we don’t maintain it, in 20 to 30 years it will be a very uncomfortable place to live.