Blossom Life With Dr. Rhea

Ignite, Serve, Grow, Thrive. Repeat.

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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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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)

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“.


Peru Service Fund & Awareness Raiser Success

On March 16, 2012 I hosted a fund and awareness raiser at the former Copia Theater in Napa’s Oxbow neighborhood. The evening was a wonderful success in many ways. The feeling of support and community connection was at the heart of the evening, along with the feeling that many were inspired by the 30 minute video we showed to go forth and serve in their own way to life.

From the evening I am also now in connection with a middle school where I will be presenting the 30 minute video and talking to the students about finding “career” paths that are innately driven- as an outward expression of connection to the being within.  I will share the story as it unfolds.  For now,…please enjoy photographs from our event:


Dr. Rhea w/Volunteer Event Coordinator Shilah Salmon


Dr. Rhea with her dad John Zimmerman


Dr. Rhea with filmmaker Gregg Marks (“May I Be Frank”)


Dario from Ca Momi Enoteca


Mt. Brave wines were poured on donation.


Elizabeth Skyler from Edible Education Napa Valley donated fresh incredible foods.


Kathy Mahoney pouring for Mahoney Vineyards alongside Kathryn Nudelman pouring for Jacuzzi Vineyards.


Volunteer Meghan Franey selling “Fueled With Love” t-shirts and sweatshirts.


Dr. Rhea’s mom Jeanne Zimmerman was the lead volunteer coordinator extraordinaire.


Family coming out enjoying the scene.


More sweet connections.


Dr. Rhea addressing the crowd.


Dr. Rhea & Gregg Marks doing a Q&A after the screening.


For a full photo gallery and to follow our team’s live interactions please “like” me on “Blossom Life With Dr. Rhea” on Facebook.