you are beautiful

We are perfect. We are whole. We are beautiful.

I am saddened by how many patients walk into my clinic with extreme emotional pain. I often can see the direct link from their spiritual and emotional pain to their physical state of health. As if seeing a strand of ribbon that begins from one point or origin and ends at their current state of mental/emotional and physical health.

When I meet people for the first time from the objective vantage point of a physician, in the spiritual space of healing, I can feel and see their deep pain. I can also see their deep perfection, deep wholeness and deep beauty that is dampened into embers. I use the analogy of wanting to fan the embers of their health into a great flame. I have patients discover again what they love either at work, through volunteering or at play. This combined with nourishing whole food, movement, quite time in prayer/meditation and working on healthy communication in relationships can support healing on all levels.

When we hold and stuff our pain and do not share with others our common human experience, we lose the opportunity of being authentic with others. We lose the opportunity to live vulnerably. When we mask and armor up to not reveal our pain, we drive the pain deeper and can feel ashamed or judgmental of our experience and feeling like we are the only ones who struggle. What if you were able to find your tribe that is uniquely created by you with people who align with your values to share our human experience? It may just allow for community building. It reminds me of a quote that I find to be good emotional medicine. “I am struck by how sharing our weakness and difficulties is more nourishing to others than sharing our qualities and successes.”

― Jean Vanier

Additionally, I recently listened to an interview of Seth Godin, an early internet entrepreneur and now thought leader. He was discussing with the interviewer, Krista Tippett, about marketing in our post-industrial “connection economy”. She paraphrases Seth during the interview in saying, “We choose who and what we belong to. It’s not just about survival. It’s about connection and flourishing.”.  What if our medicine is connection with our community? What are ways we can reach out in our unique and individual way to connect with others to heal ourselves? What if we discover our perfection, our wholeness and our beauty through being community for others?

Anna Colombini ND


“We are perfect. We are whole. We are beautiful.” Jill Bolte Taylor 


Snowy Days

I’m looking out my sisters window watching my children play with their cousins. Two of them are trying to catch snowflakes in their mouth with outstretched tongues while the neighbor dog happily wags her tail. We sip on chai tea as it aromatically fills the room with rich spices. My oldest nephew, who celebrates his seventeenth birthday today, is building a colossal snow man that requires the excavator to place the body and head on top of the base. I am filled with deep content.

Having moments like these to stop, reflect, and take a deep breath amidst life’s rapid pace is refreshing. I love listening to children play and watching them happily create igloo’s and snow castles. This brings me a feeling of peace. In the last couple of days, a winter storm front caused closures of businesses and schools, giving us all the opportunity to slow down and draw in our community. The first day of snow fall my children had early release from school and within an hour there was several inches of snow. The kids excitedly played outside while I prepared lunch with one of my neighbors. We picked up on the excitement with laughter and great conversation in between putting on and pulling off snow gear for our children. By the end of the evening we had 3 other sets of neighbors with all of our children gathering in our living room chatting, sipping, and nibbling on snacks. It was warm, cozy, friendly and reminded me of how essential gathering our community is to our feeling of belonging.

What if we took a deep breath even without the prompting of snowy days and reflect on ways we are community for each-other? I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes that I have shared with my Team at Peninsula Natural Health Center that captures our heart in the way we serve our community. This quote is by Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, an international federation of communities spread over 37 countries that serves people with developmental disabilities.

“One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing.”
― Jean Vanier, 

Dr C dad

A Life of Service

This past weekend my three siblings, spouses and our gaggle of children all gathered to celebrate my dad’s 83rd birthday at a cabin in Longbeach, Washington. It is no cosmic surprise that we celebrate dad the weekend that we also celebrate the life and works of Martin Luther King, Jr., one of Dad’s favorite human beings. We were given pause from our busy lives to reflect on what matters most - relationships, each other, service, and celebration of life.
Dad was the son of German farmers in Severin, Kansas. Along with his 12 siblings, he learned early on what it meant to be in a community and to serve each other for the greater good. When he was just 19 his father died suddenly, leaving Grandma with many children still at home. Soon after he left his farming roots behind to serve in the US Navy. He sent most of his wages home to help support Grandma, as did some of his older siblings before him. They banded together as a unit and provided what was necessary to sustain life. After four years in the Navy, Dad took an about-face, becoming a Trappist monk at the monestary in Lafayette, Oregon. There he continued to deepen his passion for service, community living, and a life of prayer and contemplation. Later, while serving as a Jesuit volunteer in Nome, Alaska, Dad met another volunteer, Ida Schilter. They quickly understood that they had met their life partner and within the year the two were married. My parents moved to Washington State where they began their life and family together.
Throughout my childhood I remember several life-giving messages from my parents that would help us keep things in perspective. Sayings such as, “We don’t know what it’s like to walk a mile in their shoes.” or “They must have needed it more than we did.” when we would experience a loss because of theft. We were also given tools to gauge and challenge our behavior and treatment of others… questions like, Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? Beyond these types of verbal guidance, our parents were constant models for us of service. Without saying a word, their hands, feet, hearts and souls were poured into our local and global communities. We joined our parents on several Habitat for Humanity work sites. We celebrated life and relationship with adults with disabilities at the L’Arche Tahoma Hope community where Dad served as a board member. When my grandmother from Kansas passed, my two uncles needed a place to live. Over the years that we lived in community with them, my siblings and I watched and worked with my parents to assist our Uncle Peter, who had a degenerative neurological disease, and Uncle Herb, who was developmentally delayed. Our parents’ selfless actions gave us perspective, appreciation for each other, and the wisdom to understand what our souls truly need – community and kindness.
When Mom was diagnosed with stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1994, Dad gave us the confidence to boldly move through her diagnoses and eventual death 6 months later. Watching him lovingly care for her and then bury her, with our hearts raw and our throats sore from grieving, was a life-altering experience. Dad was unwavering, which gave us a reed to hold onto in the early years of our grief.
The qualities of hard work, servitude, faith, community, and unconditional love are the gifts our parents handed down to us. They are invaluable tools that have given my siblings and me hope, joy, and peace amidst the inevitable hardships that life brings. As we celebrate Dad’s birthday, I am forever grateful for his example of what matters most in life – to live a life of authenticity and service. My parting message can be best summed up by a quote from Henri Nouwen, a dear family friend. Henri was a priest, author, and theologian who served the L’Arche community in Toronto for years and is one of my dad’s favorites to quote. This message captures the essence of Dad.
“Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and in the life to come.”
- Henri Nouwen
Dad – I love you so much I don’t know what to do! (my favorite term of endearment for Dad). You are a true gift to us and all who know you. Happy Birthday!
Love, Anna


Joy pic2

Joy, A State of Being

I was visiting with a patient who reported that she had yet to started looking into the dietary recommendations that I had made for her. I was curious about what prevented her from moving forward in the recent health goals she had set for herself. So, I asked her about her inner voice and the dialogue that ensues; “What does that voice usually say to you?”. She replied, “That I will fail.” I then inquired where that voice of criticism and fear of failure was coming from and she responded, “From me”. I asked her to go deeper and find out if that voice was a critical one from the past. She immediately said, “From my mother.”


This came from a woman who sat in front of me with flat affect, sunken, downcast eyes, and drawn in shoulders. I asked her, “When was the last time she had felt joy?” She could not remember and replied almost as a question, “Sometime… maybe as a child?”.

I then asked her to start observing her inner dialogue and what it is saying, without judgement or criticism. Just observe. “Be gentle with yourself”, I instructed. With this she started crying and her shoulders relaxed. I also asked her to start practicing being in the present moment and not in the past or the future; in the now. She started laughing with familiarity of being in the former states. We discussed the practice of observing her surroundings and being grateful for the things in her life that give her joy and peace. We looked out the window and I pointed out how I practice being aware of the beauty of nature and, in this case, the deep green lustrous leaves of the holly tree outside my window or the robin sitting on the downed tree branch beside the holly. We discussed taking deep breaths while observing these things and being grateful for our breath and beating heart.


I visited with her about finding and seeing that deep inner beauty that makes her uniquely her. The light within which brings her peace and joy, that is free from judgement, criticism, and fear of failure. We discussed that through observation of her inner dialogue (her minds chatter processing past, present and future) and becoming aware that this was not her true, deep self, she could then distinguish herself from her mind and begin hearing her true inner self. This would be her state of perpetual joy.


I love the quote, “Joy is not the absence of suffering, but the presence of God.” It is my experience and observation that becoming truly aware of this stream of infinite energy, creativity and life, that peace and joy can exist deep within.



Anna Colombini, ND

Medical Director


Connect to nature, find grounding

I love picking flowers. My earliest memories are of being on the small farm I grew up on near Mount Rainier and picking bouquets of wild buttercup, daisies, and mint. There is nothing more grounding for my busy self like being in nature and picking flowers.  To this day, every lunch hour during my work week, I go for a run down a rural road in Gig Harbor and pick the wild mint and flowers that line the roadway.  I bring them back to my clinic and fill the reception area with nature’s treasures.  Every time I go to fill up my tea in between patients I see the wild flowers and it regrounds me in the middle of whatever I am doing. I try to practice this mindfulness in all that I do every day.  I am not perfect at this, nor do I try to be; I know that life requires patience and flexibility in order for me to be truly happy.  Because I have small windows of time to breathe as I transition from home life to work life and then back home again, I honor these tiny moments of mindfulness that connect and make up my life.

Find what connects you to nature and helps to ground you and repeat.  It can be making the perfect cup of herbal tea, spending time with your children when they ask you to play with them and really be present, taking a few deep breaths outside, going for a run or walk, visiting someone who may be suffering or lonely.  Whatever it is that enriches you and allows you to connect and ground in this life, then practice, practice, practice.

Yours in health and happiness,
Anna Colombini
Peninsula Natural Health Center
President, Medical Director