a lesson in detoxing

as i mentioned in my last post, i just completed a five-day detox. that means that for the last five days, i’ve moved very intentionally when it came to food. i woke up early to prepare my meals, had a list of nourishing options at my disposal, knew what my day would consist of and stayed within those boundaries.

i chose a hybrid of detox options from sources i trust and came up with this:

day 1 & 5: raw food. banana, avocado, juice, etc. no caffeine, sugar, wheat, meat, etc.

day 2-4: Ayurvedic detox soup (mung beans with lots of delicious spices–cumin, turmeric, fresh ginger, etc.) + sautéed greens for each meal. detox tea, also with lots of yummy spices to sip through the day. fresh juice. no caffeine, sugar, wheat, meat, etc.

i felt amazing.
my head felt clear, my yoga practice focused, my body light and manageable. and not once, not one single time did i feel starved. i ate when i felt hungry, and stopped when feel. i felt nourished and generally content.

an equally important part of a detoxing period is rest and reflection. rest, so the body can use that energy to work on detoxing the cells. and reflection to discover ways in which we perpetuate the build-up of toxins in our systems.

it’s true that some toxification we have no direct control over–air quality, car exhaust, secondhand smoke, etc. but a good deal of it comes from our personal choices, what we put into our bodies. namely, food and drinks and smoking. rest and reflection gives us the space to seek those out.

a few things arose during my rest and reflection over the last few days. of course, the temptation to do too much, as i mentioned in my post a couple days back. here are a couple more:

1. i rarely put my needs first.
this can manifest in a variety of ways, from allowing someone to repeatedly take advantage of my time to not using the bathroom until all my work is done. food and nutrition, of course, take a hit as i put work before lunch or helping a friend before planning a meal.

2. i overdose daily on electronics.
from when i wake up to when i go to bed, i have my finger on some piece of technology, scrolling Facebook, checking email (writing blogs! ha). i can’t disconnect, and have to admit my bigger problem is detaching from other’s opinions.

3. i have a distorted view of what it means to care for my body.

this is the big one, and actually didn’t come up until i was done with the detox. in the past, any time i’ve fasted or detoxed (whether for health or spiritual reasons) I’ve sustained myself on the vision of what i would eat/drink/consume once the fast was up. i made promises to myself of large lattes from Starbucks and 3 egg omelets w/ bacon and some more.

so, when my sis invited my to dinner at a fav restaurant on the night of my 5th day, i decided i’d been a good enough girl and would make that meal my re-entry into the world. no huge indulgences, no alcohol or anything like that, but i would order a dinner and enjoy it so much.

or so i thought.

i ordered fish & chips and, compared to the wildly seasoned meals i’d been having, it was quite bland. i felt neither satisfied nor content and didn’t finish the meal. in fact, i felt let down. the meal i’d been looking forward to wasn’t adding up.

a latte will help, i thought, and began to dream of the coffee and honey i’d forgone during my detox.

i woke up late, ran out the door without breakfast, and raced to coffee shop for a honey, soy latte. it felt delicious at first, soul-warming and grounding. but without any food to absorb the espresso, my system quickly went haywire. and now i sit, just after the lunch hour, feeling fidgety, shaky, hungry and irritated. where is the peace i experienced during my fast? where is the contentment?

i sacrificed them at the altar of desire.

and that is my greatest lesson from this detox session. i sacrifice myself often at the alter of desire, avoidance, laziness, etc. i gladly change in my self to feel temporary satisfaction.

they say admitting you have a problem is the first step. here’s to the beginning of a long journey!

doing too much

the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college, i dedicated my summer to working in West Oakland, CA in a neighborhood called “Lower Bottom” (birthplace of the Black Panthers). it was there that i had one of the first profound prophecies over my life.

not from a shaman, yogi, guru, pastor or priest.

no, these words were simple and to the point and came from the mouths of the middle school girls i was charged with mentoring.

i can’t even remember who was the first to say it, but i’m confident i heard it multiple times from multiple girls. they would look at me after I said and/or did something, raise one eyebrow (which was always a sure sign they disapproved), cock their head, smoosh up their little mouths and say:

“Christie…you’re doing too much.”

of course, it would take me the greater part of a decade to understand what they were trying to say. initially, i was defensive and denied their claims. i wasn’t doing too much, i just cared, liked to help, wanted to be active, yada yada yada.

but as the years have worn on and my body has worn out, i’ve come to understand the wisdom in such simple words.

hello, I’m Christie, and i do too much.

this past week, i decided to embark on a detox. this is nothing new to my life. multiple experts in the natural health and healing circuit recommend a regular detox. detoxes relieve the digestive system of the burden of digesting food and can better focus on removing the build-up of harmful toxins from the system. there are many detoxes out there, but i chose a hybrid of raw & Ayurvedic practices. my detox started with only consuming light, raw fruits and vegetables on Tuesday to ease my body in, moved into a soup/sauteed greens option from Ayurveda on Wed-Fri, and will finish tomorrow with more raw foods to ease my body out.

along with the nutritional detox, most experts stress a mental/emotional detox as well. mine must have been ready for it because i woke from a bad dream Tuesday night, crying into the dark, tears of release. i wanted to let the days of the detox be more intentional, focused on reading the signs of my body, honoring the need to rest and nap.

Wednesday had other plans.

i knew i would need to work at the studio for about 5 hours, then head to a friend’s to clean for 2. then i planned to go see a movie by myself. except a project was overdue and sent me running around town to the printer, then miscommunication between staff meant covering the evening shift at the studio, then the POS software was giving me fits and warranted 2 calls to the help line. i got home at 9:15p and collapsed into bed.

i do too much.

this reality has been a hard one to accept. i moved from denial to anger (why CAN’T I do whatever i want?!) to bargaining (ok, if i just nap here and here, i can still do ALL THIS STUFF!) to depression and acceptance, which i find myself toeing the line as i wrestle with feeling sad at the thought of missing out and then relieved when i just allow myself to rest.

no matter the stage, though, the truth was undeniable. i began to notice a pattern of really exerting myself–accepting every offer to hang out/do coffee/grab a drink, attending every event i thought would be interesting or was invited to, etc–then crashing. it was as if i went back to the well and found it completely dry but my body/mind/spirit completely parched. and i panicked. i retreated. sometimes involuntarily.

one such event happened several years ago. a friend who lived in Chicago agreed to let me borrow her apartment when she was out of town. i packed my backpack, hopped on the MegaBus and, several city buses later, arrived in her place. a wave of exhaustion rushed over me and i laid down for a nap, that turned into bedtime, that rolled into the next day and afternoon and night. i ventured out only once for dinner. i felt sick but something told me i just needed the rest. all my grandiose plans to explore the city and journal and have adventures went out the window. my reserves were depleted and, finally being away from the voices and temptations in my own city, i could hear my body/mind/spirit crying out for a break.

this detox period has heightened those senses. today, after working/running errands all morning, i considered squeezing in a movie with Indy Film Fest (they’ll be gone tomorrow and i haven’t watched NEARLY enough, i argued with myself), before heading back to the studio to work all evening. i kept going back and forth, should I? shouldn’t I? when i sat down to eat my lunch of soup and a banana, i realized how sleepy i was. then i recalled how i woke in the middle of night and evaluated the fact that i am not consuming as many calories, and realized i would probably need a rest more than i need to battle traffic to hurry to the movie, then battle traffic to hurry back to the studio.

so i took a rest.

i would love to say it made all the difference, but i’m not sure. it did, however, leave me refreshed for my evening shift, not depending on caffeine to keep me going. for that i am grateful.

but still, what does it mean to say no? to live in balance?

this, i am still learning. living for so long suppressing the cues of my body has left me a bit out of touch. yoga helps. detoxing helps. but mostly think i will just need time and practice. practice listening. practice weighing options and disciplining myself to choose just one. practice appreciating the details of my daily life-the sun shine in thru the doorway, the way my cat contorts his body during a nap on the couch, the smile of my honey when i come home. all those things that get lost in my “fear of missing out.”

hello, my name is Christie and i am in process.

 

update.

“Sometimes the only way to return is to go where the winds will take you….

In both good and bad ways, I find myself sitting in a place I never would have anticipated or expected even just a few months ago.  I no longer live in Fountain Square (my first “home” in years), but on the Near East side (which I surprisingly love).  I’ve stepped out of the formality of my intentional community (so no more family dinners).   I’m getting ready to leave the non-profit world for corporate America/desk job.  I live with a cat.

Oh, and I’m single.  Once again.

“…to let go of all you cannot hold onto…”

I’ve mentioned in previous posts my discovery and study of Ayurveda, an ancient methodology out of India that focuses on holistic emotional/mental/physical health.  Well, I found a guy in the city who’s actually studied to be a practitioner.  I got so excited I just scheduled an appointment on a whim, unaware of cost.  Fortunately, he allowed me to have a very short session for a portion of the price.

The timing of the appointment couldn’t have been more perfect, as I was wrestling through the emotional wreck of this last relationship.  In just 15 minutes he hit the nail on the head:

“If he’s gone, then let him go darling.”

I began to cry and he offered me kleenex and the opportunity to lay on the floor and cry if I wanted.  I chose to stay in my chair as he gently and tenderly encouraged me to stop finding my identity in my relationships and focus on becoming whole.

“You need to learn to love yourself.”

I asked him if he could see right through me.

Learning to love myself has been the journey I’ve been on for the last year and a half.  I can (kind of) grasp God’s love for me, and fairly practiced at loving others and, occasionally, allowing them to love me.  But loving myself has been a foreign concept.  I left him knowing my first step would be to end a relationship where I felt abandoned, disrespected and unloved.  I spent the afternoon thinking about how I could learn to love myself, what that practice would look like.  Here’s a rough draft:

1. Mainstream activities–Do one job.  Pick just 1-2 hobbies.  Don’t overcommit to meetings or other engagements.

2. Don’t engage in situations or relationships where I might feel pressured to give more than I can.  A good friend of the family always said, “He who puts the most into a relationship gets the least out.”  This has been true in my experience, especially recently, and I’m exhausted by it.

3. Acknowledge that there are certain foods that will promote my health and others that will seek to destroy it.  This is so much more than a “diet,” it’s about realizing that my body needs certain conditions to thrive.

4. Move–run, do yoga, take walks in nature.  Treat my body with respect.

5. Respect my sexuality–remember that my body is a gift I can choose to give, a precious commodity that someone must earn my respect in order to deserve.  It is not a substitute for real intimacy.

6. Take care of my finances–being financially sound is just as much an aspect of being healthy as anything else.

7. Hold myself with gentleness and tenderness–i have always driven myself to do/be more, but it is important, even crucial, for me to acknowledge that I am spread way too thin.  In the last 2 months, I’ve experienced being hit by a car, fighting with a good friend, moving, changing jobs, going through a break-up…several, if not all, of which are factors for depression.  I need to rest.  I need grace and mercy to be applied like salve to my wounded spirit.  Who can I expect to give this to me, if not me?

Yesterday, the training school presented which brought back a flood of emotions and thoughts.  Training school was and will always be a pivotal point in my life, so it was weird to be sitting there thinking about how it was me on that stage a year ago.  And it was two years ago that I was wrestling with the decision to even do training school.  And then all the things that have happened in those two years, the ways I’ve grown and changed.  Like a kid marking my height on the closet wall, I was surprised to see how I’ve grown.

And how much more growing there is to do.

That was probably the most surprising realization…as amazing and intense as TS was for me, the growing/changing/wondering continue beyond.

On a different note, I ran my 5th 1/2 marathon this past Saturday.  Or rather, ran/walked.  It was my 5th on the 5th of May.  Classic.  Couldn’t have planned that better if I’d tried.  This was also my fourth Mini-Marathon in a row and the one thing I’ve always wanted was a pic of me kissing the bricks on the Speedway; finally got my pic.  The second is of my and my one-time running partner, Megan, after crossing the finish line together.

“…for the hope beyond the blue.”
-lyrics by Josh Garrels 

As I shared with my dear brother, Teddy, last week, I try to remind myself that these times of upheaval and change are when we do the most growing.  That if we desire to closer to the people we were created to be, we should celebrate these times of change.

That does not mean I always do, but living is a process, after all….

 

put bacon on/over/around/in it.

similar to the “put a bird on it” philosophy, bacon has taken over the landscape of our taste buds.

on the way to Broad Ripple last night to see a friend’s art exhibit, the girls in my car and i discussed all the ways we’ve heard for using bacon: bacon jam.  bacon frosting.  bacon cookies.  chocolate covered bacon.

i’m starting to sound like Bubba (shrimp cocktail.  shrimp gumbo.  shrimp…).

so, when we reached the Scratch Truck food truck in SoBro, i just had to get their special dessert: bacon maple creme brulee.

verdict: incredible.  beyond incredible.  beyond words.

we got to Indy Hostel, where our friend’s work was showing, and pretty immediately met an Aussie named Kathy.  i offered her my desert, as we were sharing amongst us, and her nose crinkled up when she heard the combo of ingredients.

“bacon?” she said in her incredible accent from down-under.

“yeah, it’s kind of an American thing,” my friend responded.  “we like to put bacon on everything.”

welcome to America, i thought.  where our thing is to find a way to put bacon on/over/around/in everything we eat.

still, i’d eat that creme brulee again in a heartbeat.

on a more serious food note, i have been incredibly cold lately, have had an incredibly hard time warming up, from the inside out.  while this is probably partly to due to the drastic changes in our weather lately, i have to also acknowledge that i have not been good to myself nutritionally.  so i decided to finally try a recipe my wonderful Ayurvedic cookbook recommends: Ginger and Soy milk Chai.  it is working wonders.  here it is, for your enjoyment.  please note, if you are a warm body, please avoid.  it could heat you up too much, make you irritable.

Ginger and Soy Milk Chai
from Anjum’s Eat Right For Your Body Type
by Anjum Anand

1 1/2 c water
1/4 c unsweetened soy or rice milk
3 black peppercorns
8 green cardamom pods, lightly bashed to open the husks
small pinch of green fennel seeds
1/2-inch cinnamon shard
3 thin slices of ginger
1 black tea bag
honey

heat the water, milk, spices and ginger in a medium saucepan.  once it comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low-moderate, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the chai reduces down to about one large cupful.  be careful as the milk can easily rise and boil over, but a low temp should prevent this.

add the teabag (i used loose-leaf tea in a strainer) and let it brew for 1 to 2 minutes, or until it is the strength you like.  Strain into your cup and sweeten to taste.

a new normal.

last night, i capped off a three-day detox with a beer.

i’m a walking contradiction.

when my roommate suggested we get pizza tonight for dinner, my bowels winced.  after 3 days of eating only nutrient-dense soups and steamed veggies, one beer had sent them over the edge with yeast.  i felt bloated and gross.

“that’s why it’s bad to do these detoxes,” Kel exclaimed, half-joking.  “you always feel like crap when you go back to eating normally.”

“i’m just not so sure that all those things should be a “normal” thing…i think i want to move toward a new normal.”

that is where i am with 2012, i think.  moving toward a “new normal.”  new normals don’t just happen overnight, obviously.  the normals i’m settling into have been happening in slow, gradual ways over the last year or so.  i discovered the lifestyle of Ayurveda in February last year, which has given great direction to dietary awarenesses and habit changes.  i got a road bike for my birthday in June, which has fueled (pun intended) my deserve to ride more, drive less.  and i began asking questions of people who are good at these things, so as to learn more about the practicality of that.  (i also asked only for riding gear for Christmas…my family was very good to me.)

so, here’s to 2012 being…

a year of better eating
not to be confused with losing weight.  the two rarely go together, and i am not really in a place where great weight loss needs to take place.  the fluff that could disappear should happen naturally as i decrease certain items in my diet (namely processed sugar and white breads) and replace them with nutrient-dense items like broccoli and carrots.

as i mentioned before, i first heard about Ayurveda almost a year ago from a friend and yoga instructor.  i was fascinated and dove into a book on the subject.  Ayurveda is based out of Indian (not Native American) tradition is a lifestyle of healthy eating and functioning.  they believe that every person falls into three categories (also called doshas…i have to be careful here, b/c Ayurveda has a language and understanding of the human body all its own and the words don’t always translate well into our culture).  each person has a constitution that falls into one or more of these categories.

after much reading, i learned that i am an even split between two: vata and kapha.  ironically, vata is symbolized by air and kapha by earth…complete opposites!!  explains me a lot.  anyway, there are foods and spices that work better (and worse) on each constitution.  some help cool tempers and agitations, others aid in digestion.  the more i learn, the more i am blown away by the sheer power of our food to not only nourish us, but keep us healthy.  crazy i know.

kaphas tend toward sluggishness and vatas tend to blow in the breeze, both of which i find happening in my life.  so, i’m learning about the spices and vegetables that aid in digestion and yet keep me grounded.  this awareness is finally settling into my brain and has begun to effect my shopping and meal choices.  i’ve successfully switched to soy (dairy not so good for kaphas), lean toward more vegetarian meals, and am becoming increasingly aware of the goings-on of my body.

all of that, and i still will eat chips today and enjoy a beer after work.  we must still have grace for ourselves, even when working toward being/doing better.

the year of the bike

Half-way through the Polar Bear Pedal, Jan. 2, 2012

 

i have to credit my roommate, Kel, for a great deal of my current ability to commuter ride.  my desire has been there for years, with a small attempt many summers ago, but it has been her living example that has spurred me to push on.

now, to fully understand this picture, it’s important to understand that i grew in the country, nearly 8 miles from “town,” as we called it, the place where groceries and the library and people were.  it was unheard of to consider bike commuting and because i was a busy teen, i got a car 3 mos prior to my 16th birthday.  i’ve had one ever since, with little to no idea of commuting otherwise.

when i first decided i wanted to bike everywhere within riding distance i was living in Anderson and would still punk out at the hint of rain.

Kel rode all winter last year, and i quietly watched the gear she chose to wear, the things she would invest in (waterproof backpack, warm gloves), whether or not she would still ride the 3 miles to work on a blustery day.

this was very encouraging to me, so when i got my bike in June, i made an unstated vow to bike as much as i was able in the city, no matter the weather.  i made a list of acceptable gear and passed it to my padres for Christmas, and was soon outfitted for riding.

my true winter commuting ride happened this morning.  on the agenda: bank, groceries, home, work.  all went well.  i am here (at work), alive and dry.  the more i ride, the more it becomes a part of me.  it becomes a natural choice.  weather is no longer a factor.  and i truly value the invigorating movement and fresh air.  bonus, i’m not burning gas and putting toxins in the air.  win win for everyone.

i’ll likely still drive to a friends’ house, though, if it’s dark, and i’ve already biked 12 miles in 20 degrees, and it’s late and i’m tired.  because this is about a gradual shift in my thinking, not about dogma.

a new normal is coming.  perhaps much of it is already here.

chores can wait.

as i write this, a pile of clean laundry is screaming to be folded, the upstairs bathroom and lounge need to be cleaned (my house chores), and groceries need to be purchased.

but the sun is shining and the wind is blowing a sweet fresh air through the open back door, so i’m taking a minute to write and do some reading.

i’ve been consumed, lately, with the study of ayurveda.  it started a little over a month ago when someone at our ladies’ retreat mentioned the word “doscha.”  she explained, in very simple terms, that it was the way our body was created, and that the foods we eat can get along with that doscha or be at war with it.

i was intrigued, as i usually am with anything that will tell me even just the littlest bit about myself (anyone who was around when i discovered the enneagram last year can attest to this).  so i ravaged the internet, taking test after test to figure out my doscha (most are crap, btw), and landed graciously in the gentle arms of Dr. Robert Svoboda (author of Prakruti: Your Ayurvedic Costitution).  i hope you know i mean that figuratively and not literally….

my search for more information about doschas took me straight into the world of Ayurveda, an ancient, eastern practice for healthy, intentional living.  i am no expert, that is for sure, but i am beginning to see the world through a new lens.

a few things i’ve really fallen in love with:

meditation
Svoboda recommends beginning and ending everyday with a bit of meditation and deep breathing.  i’ve gotten up in the mornings and begun to incorporate this into my routine.  not perfectly.  not even for a long time (try 2 min., max.).  but just the centered breathing, and prayers i offer up have certainly made for a much better morning.   this quiet stillness with the Father is something we see repeatedly in the life of Jesus so there has to be something to it….

routine
one of the chapters talks specifically about the need for routine.  he lays out an entire routine for the morning, including rising at a consistent time each day, washing all the sense organs–face, hands, eyes, ears, and nose, doing a bit of yoga and then meditation.  from one who used to push the clock to go for a 30-40 minute run, take a hurried shower, choke down some food, then rush out the door, this is quite a change of pace.  but i love it.  the slowness of it allows me to wake up fully and acknowledge the day ahead, to listen to rhythms of my body and prepare to take on the day.  it is much more peaceful.

my “doscha”
this has been my favorite, by far.  as i said before, i took many a tests online to figure out what mine would be…only to come up with many different answers.  i began reading this book with the understanding that i was one, only to realize that i was actually pretty evenly split between two: vata and kapha, or VK.  vata corresponds with air qualities, and kapha with the earth…sounds pretty contradicting, huh?  makes sense, if you know me.  anyway, my body composition is mostly kapha–i’m sluggish, love to sleep (surprise, surprise) and have a hard time losing weight.  my mind and spirit are often vata, however, racing from one thing to the next, actively pushing forward.

i am just on the very edge of learning what to do with all this new information, but i am, for once, being patient with myself.   change is slow and takes time.  after all, if the body is, as scriptures say, a temple, perhaps we shouldn’t beat it up as much as we do…