Blossom Life With Dr. Rhea

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Responsible Service: A Love Bomb Guide

Dr. Rhea after a week of service in The Sacred Valley, Peru

Dr. Rhea after a week of service in The Sacred Valley, Peru

By Dr. Rhea Zimmerman Komarek

It was the middle of the night, I was exhausted, bent over the toilet bowl, sick, and wondering “did anything I just do make a difference?” After five days of working to provide free or low cost chiropractic care throughout the Sacred Valley, Peru I was finished, exhausted, and finally succumbing to the digestive visitor that had already taken down my entire team of volunteers.

It wasn’t the first time I wondered if my desire to be of difference in a developing country with my skill set was doing anything in the long run.

My first service trip was during the final months of my chiropractic education while I was still a clinic intern.  Student interns were paired with field doctors for an annual trip to provide care in El Salvador.  After graduation my innate drive to serve as a global citizen had led me to India to set up my own program.  India in her wisdom had humbled me and left me at the drawing board asking the questions:

What is the goal of the service?  If I can’t provide long term care is it ethical to do it in the short term?  Is my work empowering the people I am serving or disempowering them?  Do I really know enough clinically to be of service or should I go home and develop myself further?  

Dr. Rhea during her time setting up a short term service project in India

Dr. Rhea during her time setting up a short term service project in India

I have come to understand that this deep questioning really boils down to, “am I really giving anywhere near as much as I am receiving,” is a multi-faceted one.

After that first trip to Peru where our team left both emotionally transformed and physically drained, I had to ask myself whether or not I would return. I wanted to know that I was being more than just selfish by wanting to have the experience of serving.  It is so utterly transformational, such an avenue of fulfillment, and so amazing to lose one’s every day troubles into the surrender of service, that I had to know:  am I really doing anything?  Is offering chiropractic care one time a year going to truly help these people?

Before committing to trip number two, which ultimately is the commitment to taking steps towards committing to care long term for a community, I wrote to the clinic directors who hosted my group and posed the question:  given that we can only be there right now once a year, is our work really making an impact?  I trusted their perspective as people regularly engaged in the community and therefore those we would care for annually.  As Peace Corps veterans of 20+ years they knew what impact was as well as the issues that befall international service.  When they came back with the answer of “yes”, well, that was confirmation enough for me.

We returned, and, on year three, filmed the footage that would become the documentary film “Love Bomb.”  In filming follow up interviews I also learned of positively life changing, sustained physical healing results for some of the people we cared for, another testament for me to know that the effort is worth it.  For me the service results are definitely physical, and also, emotional.  It is the premise that when we all play our role of service to life, both at home and abroad, that together we create a positive shift in consciousness.  A helping hand is better than an oppressive hand, and is powerful when directed in well thought out ways.

Dr. Rhea with Paulina during the first Peru service trip.  Paulina returned several years later to share how much it had changed her life.

Dr. Rhea with Paulina during the first Peru service trip. Paulina returned several years later to share how much it had changed her life.

With the film I aim to inspire in people the transformational potential of service.  My hope is that people will walk out of the film and think to themselves:  how can I be of service in this moment, right here, right now?  The question of how can I serve, and how can I love, becoming synonymous.  I also know that there will be those who watch the film and think to themselves:  I want to go do something like that in another country!

For those people, I offer this Love Bomb guide to responsible service. Ultimately, service is an exchange built on a relationship of trust between the giver and the receiver.  These questions can help us to feel in to where we stand and what we will be offering. 

In the exchange of giving and receiving we will make an impact on the culture we are serving, and we need to ask ourselves what kind of an impact we want to make, as together we are building the model for what it looks like to become global citizens.  Together we can, responsibly, make a profound impact on humanity, at home and abroad.  The two are becoming inextricably one.

1.  What is my goal?

2.  Am I going to serve, or to practice?

3.  Will my actions create dependency?

4.  Am I going to be empowering the people I am serving?

5.  Am I respecting the cultural beliefs and customs I am stepping into, or trying to change them to my own beliefs?

6.  Am I hoping to be a savior instead of a server?

7.  Am I going as an equal or am I feeling superior to those I am serving?

8.  Am I doing something that the people have identified as a need, or am I putting my ideas of what they need on them?

If coordinating with an organization:

 1.  Do they have successful long-term projects that you will be making an impact with?

2.  Are they well respected in the community/communities where they serve?

3.  Are they motivated by service or by business profit?

4.  Will they provide for you contact information for past volunteers to speak with?

I personally feel that as global citizens we can create beautiful relationships built on responsible service, or, “voluntourism”, when we choose consciously.  We are building the future for humanity one responsible relationship at a time.  Lets do it together, with great care. 

Interesting Articles:

Does Voluntourism Do More Harm Than Good?, Dorinda Elliott

Seven Sins of Humanitarian Medicine, Welling, Ryan, Burris & Rich, World Journal of Surgery

 Does “Voluntourism” Do more harm than good?, Richard Stupart

 An Insider’s Thoughts On Voluntourism in Orphanages and Schools, Filipa Chatillon

Book:  Mountains Beyond Mountains, Dr. Paul Farmer

Resources for Choosing Organizations & Projects (I do not know these organizations personally, they were found through online research, please make sure to do your own work to verify that any of these are right for you, and that they fulfill the questions listed above):



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Love Bomb Report: Interview with Marilyn Schlitz, PhD

Warning:  Very transparent vulnerability in this entry.

Dr. Rhea & Marilyn Schlitz

Photo of me and Marilyn Schlitz, thankfully the facial swelling had gone down, and the sun and the magical Canon Camera made my face look almost normal 🙂

The week leading up to the interviews I was honored to do of both Marilyn Schlitz and Dean Radin was nothing short of horrible.

By the time I walked in to sit with Marilyn I was actually almost comically challenged.  I had woken up that morning with my face swollen out so far that I wasn’t sure how I was going to drive to the interview, let alone meet these people face to face that I felt so touched by.  I had had some kind of mystery reaction to a new facial product.

I know however that there is no such thing as singular cause and effect, and the rawness of my face was also a perfect outer expression of the inner pain and turmoil that had started exactly one week earlier when our family had stepped in to that horrible, quick, destabilizing, and rocky terrain of “you have cancer.”  One of my dearest family members was back on the road that our family knew too well.

In the interest of privacy I won’t share publicly which family member we stood in heartbroken solidarity with, but I can say that the week centered on conversations of the terminal nature of all of us, living present now, and falling to one’s knees for Grace.  I was reading, and posting online, about my intake of Marianne Williamson’s book “A Return to Love” as if it were nutrition.  Because it was.

Four days into the trauma of diagnosis and the intense prayer for a healing miracle the family received a blessing of a phone call when we learned that there had been a misdiagnosis and that the cancer wasn’t the bad kind we thought it was.  We were released into “relief” of a change of cancer diagnosis and the improvement of prognosis.

Perspective, God’s humor, Prayers and the Miracle of Love in action?

So by the time I was sitting there ready to interview Marilyn, face red and raw and puffed out, wondering if she was noticing but kindly not saying anything, I was ready to be raw and real.

The gift of her interview is what followed.  It opened with me asking her about what she knew about the power of love, and she began by discussing studies that had been done about the effects of love and prayer on people with cancer.  I kid you not.  I sat there, even more raw, listening as she spoke directly to what had been going on.

Life certainly does provide the exact replica of what we need to see, feel, and hear doesn’t it?

The rest of the interview dove deeper in to the material at hand for Love Bomb, and as we got into the zone of the intense focus of a film interview, the attention on my own life scenario and raw face melted away as I was taken, we were taken, into the energy of love, forgiveness, and the journey of healing transformation into wholeness.

There is much I want to share from this interview and will be exposing in the film.  The essence I can give you is that life always provides us with what we need to transform, and transformation is always in the direction of greater wholeness, if we choose.

That wholeness means we are not alone.  We are one with life itself, with one another, with the earth we live on.

When we get into this place of wholeness we experience the core of healing, which is transformation of consciousness into this whole place of being.  This whole place is what I am learning to refer to as Love.  Service, the act of transformation to wholeness that we are featuring in the film, is a transformational practice in and of itself.

Marilyn shared with us about her research on transformation and the “destabilization” that occurs when a change happens in the statis of an environment, culture, or person.  This destabilization offers the opportunity to heal to a new state of being as it offers the opportunity for new perspective, new feeling, and new being.

We were speaking of my own healing experience from 9/11 and how that event became something that ultimately propelled me forward into service and a life lived as if we are one big human family.  We also spoke of the “destabilizing” we create in a community when we enter in and adjust thousands of people at one time.

She confirmed our feeling that with the intention of Love this destabilization can be a force that drives the community to a higher level of organization to wholeness.  We can also choose to experience traumatic destabilization in this same way.

The rawness of the week continued as when the interview ended and we said our goodbyes we turned on our phones, to learn that the shooting had just occurred in Connecticut.

We had moments of quiet at that time.  The moments for me were a reflection on the entire week, and the firm knowing that the film, the focus on Love, the commitment to sharing with the world about what we really are capable of as human beings when we connect to our Innate, our Wholeness, our Connection with Life, is as pertinent today as it was the day that the idea for the film was conceived.

We sat in the sun that day between our interview of Marilyn and our preparations to interview Dean.  I with a certain surrender that happens when you have been forced to ponder the terminal nature of life, the prayers that knock you to your knees, and the humble surrender of letting go of looks to simply say, I am here, raw, vulnerable, present.  I surrender to you Love.  Life.  I am your servant.  Lift me up and walk with me.

We sat in the sun and we drank it in.  We sat with gratitude.  For being alive, and for being given the opportunity to make a difference in life through our passion to touch lives, and for all of the opportunities that Love Bomb has already brought into our lives.  It is with a reverence, a humbleness, and a vulnerability that I post this Love Bomb “Report.”  The experience of the commitment I have made to be carved out by this project continues, to offer to life a reality of Love Bomb rather than a replica.

May we light a candle in our hearts of Love for all who have been affected by the wounds of life, both public and private, and allow them to open us to the courageous humbleness of Love, which is the road to our human greatness.

Check out this clip that we put together for you of Marilyn, speaking about creating an “epidemic of goodness.”  At this particular winter solstice this is a beautiful message, encouraging us to see this time, no matter the “why”, as the perfect time to open to our inherent unity, goodness, and love.

Marilyn is also working on a documentary of her own that I feel is going to be a transformational film called “Death Makes Life Possible.”  Here is a link to the home page where you can watch the trailer.   Death Makes Life Possible Trailer

Are you interested in learning more about how to participate in the making of Love Bomb?  Here is our Indiegogo Campaign page where we are currently raising the funds to go into full time production starting in January 2013.

Our film website lives here:

You can find us and “Like” on Facebook here:  Love Bomb The Movie Facebook Page

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Love Bomb Report: Interview Number Two With Jay Komarek

Jay Komarek at “Work” Freeing Life through Chiropractic

Jay Komarek is the spiritual cowboy of chiropractic.  He is as researched in his science as he is in the philosophical applications of the art of chiropractic.  With a 30 year career “behind” him and a family of chiropractors that ranges 3 generations, he ever maintains his present inquiry into the art of living, and life expressed as a chiropractor.  Why the cowboy?  Because he can be found, on any given day, giving of his service in barns all around the world to horses, and the people who love them.

I recently had the privilege of sitting down with Jay for an interview in San Francisco.  Though at any time interviewing Jay to gain insight into his years of experience would be fruitful, for me it was ever more meaningful as he fills in some of the heart of our story with Love Bomb.

Love Bomb is as much about personal transformation through service as it is about service in family, and service in love.  One of my “team” members in the film is my love, and Jay’s son, Austin Komarek.

Jay shared with us some of the stories of what it is like growing up as a child in a chiropractic family, as well as bringing in children like Austin into a chiropractic lifestyle.  Austin learned much from growing up inside of his dad’s practice and seeing his family members serving masses of people.  One of his pivotal experiences was being in Panama at age 13 on an international service trip with his dad.

This coming of age tale is a pivotal part of the “why” we reveal for Austin’s desire to serve “The Big Idea” of chiropractic.  It also marks a historic international service trip that in chiropractic circles is like a legend of what it is like to serve outside of the educated mind, as an expression of the innate united with universal.

How did this first trip, 20 years in to his career as a chiropractor, change Jay and his style of practice?  How did it spark Austin?  What was it like to find out, 10 years later, that his son had made that decision to follow in his father’s footsteps by serving life as a chiropractor?

Through our interview with Jay we start to see how this chiropractic thing is far more calling than career.  A calling that unites us.  We also hear the beautiful descriptions of how the art of the adjustment, like a “love bomb”, ignites the potential for change in the recipient- instantaneously, and how the delivery of this adjustment is as much a scientific act as it is a spiritual act.

For those who want to learn more about the character of Jay Komarek and his art, see how you can be involved in the documentary feature film currently in production about his life and art through animal chiropractic.

Life, Adjusted. 

P.S.  The family link of cowboys and horses is a beautiful fascination for me.  Watching Jay work, and now Austin, is a strange parallel to the legends I grew up with about my grandfather “Cowboy Joe” and the famous stunts that he was in as a Hollywood Cowboy.  There is such beauty in the connection of the web of life.  xo

Grandpa Joe Yrigoyen, Old Western Stuntman

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Service, Relaxation & Wine at Casa Dumetz

At Casa Dumetz tasting room in Los Alamos the wine is as fresh and charming as the hostess herself.  Sonja greets every person who enters as if they are a long lost friend, and this beautiful example of what being a “hostess” is about was the scene I was invited into when I arrived on a Friday evening to be the speaker in her monthly speaker series.

The day was a tough one emotionally- everyone having just found out the news of the events in Aurora, Colorado.  What followed was an incredibly connected, and positive evening in the light and feel good setting of the tasting room.

I shared my own story of being on a mission of service fueled by my own shocking experience at 9/11 and how day by day after I was inspired to serve in a myriad of ways to assist life to the best of my ability.  I took them on a journey across country from New York, to Malibu, and then to El Salvador, India, Brazil, and Peru.  We stopped off briefly in Napa from time to time.

I also shared in brief the making and use of the Breathe Love CD sets and am still feeling thankful at the level of engagement of the people in the room and their desire to go home and put the CD’s to use for eliciting relaxation response and a positive emotional response.

Now I am inspired to do more of these types of events!  It was so lovely to relax on an evening in a connected setting sipping on great wines, keeping great company, and sharing about positive solution oriented living.

Big thanks to Sonja Magdevski for the invitation- and a big recommendation to all to stop in at her tasting room in Los Alamos!  (Open Friday-Sunday)

The Big Idea

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The Big Idea

I love “The Big Idea” that the founder of chiropractic’s son, B.J. Palmer, wrote. It explains how “one small thing” can snowball to becoming a big thing. Either as a problem,…..or as a solution! It inspires me as a chiropractor. It is also the difference I see all of us make in life when we choose to live and act from faith, love and trust and give of our gifts to life.

Living Fueled With Love

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We had the opportunity to share this video to the children over at Oakbrook Elementary, whom we have been working with for 3 years now. Some of the feedback we received was how exciting it was that the project is inspiring the kids to think about how they can make other kids “feel special”, and what it means and feels like to feel special. We also were told that it was exciting to have such a project uniting all of the grades and kids in the school into one project.

Thank You from Dr. Rhea

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I am home from Peru and taking a moment to say thank you to everyone who assisted me in making the trip possible! It is such an honor to be able to serve life in this way.

It is incredible to live a life by design that is so full of connection to people from all over the world and every walk of life.

As I “land” from my recent service trip and I prepare to serve at the Tour of California this coming week with Bontrager Livestrong cycling team I am full of gratitude for having these opportunities to express my own joy of fun, connection, and loving service through the vehicle of chiropractic.

If you’d like to see more about our service trip please take a look at the Facebook gallery on my page, “Blossom Life With Dr. Rhea“.