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.

 

looking for a sign

i have to start this post with 2 disclosures.
1. i haven’t prayed in a loonngg time.  and 2. i’m not really a person for “signs.”

that being said, i experienced both yesterday and it pivotal.

let’s back up a bit.

i’ve been thinking for awhile time, but even moreso in the last 6 months, that i’ve wanted to pursue some further education in the natural health field.  i did an intense batch of research back in February/March timeframe and settled on the school and program i wanted to pursue.  what i didn’t settle on was the financial solution.  so i put everything on hold until i could remedy my finances a bit and carve out the money needed to begin.  i set my goal for August and moved on, carrying the packet of information on this program with me regularly, pulling it out every now and then to remind me of my real focus.  my true north.

then August came.  and went.  and the money wasn’t really there like i expected.

but September was different.  September saw a bonus that would comfortable cover the initial down payment.  September saw me really have to wrestle with, literally, putting my money where my mouth had been for so many months.  i would get incredibly close to enrolling in the program, only to find myself shirking back in fear.  i wrestled with my hesitation, and what i would tell someone else in my position.  coaching myself to take a risk and follow my heart and all that cliche’d nonsense that is actually really good advice.  i told anyone who would listen about my struggle but internally i would feel an overwhelming chorus of “YES” anytime i considered the program or read the course descriptions.

and then i decided to try something different.  i decided to try prayer.

ever since leaving the church earlier last year, i’ve avoided any of the old practices i used to observe, needing a deep separation from anything that reminded me of that world.  it’s not that i’ve felt prayer to be bad; i’ve just not felt overwhelmingly convinced of who or what i was praying to, of what exactly was out there to receive my prayers, and even to the extent of what would want to even interact with us enough to want to answer our prayers.

i wouldn’t have even considered the option had i not been to visit with a spiritual guide of sorts, who’s first piece of advice was the practice of meditation.  his suggestion was simple: use meditation to pray, be specific and come with questions you want answered, and, if necessary, ask for a sign.  he mentioned feathers and butterflies or anything else that might serve as validation.

so yesterday morning i sat down, crossed my legs and closed my eyes.  i began to slow my breathing and focus my thoughts.

“ok,” i said with some skepticism.  “ok, whoever you are out there, tell me…should i start this program?  that’s what i want to know.  and send me a sign…a sign of….” my brain immediately thought “turtle,” my rational self thought that was silly.  still, “turtle” kept coming back to mind, over and over.  “ok,” i said, “show me a turtle.  if you think i should do this program.  show me a turtle.”

it was all i could do to remember to find a turtle.  i was on a business trip and busy with different activities and had to keep reminding myself to find a turtle in a place that was not really known to have turtle inhabitants.

towards the afternoon, on a walk across the island we were on, a sign caught my eye.  it looked exactly like one we had seen in the Florida Keys so i walked over to it, only to find this:

tortugas

that’s right, the bar was called “Tortugas,” the spanish word for “Turtles.”  it was not altogether obvious, lost in so many other messages.  but it was there nonetheless.

it was my sign.

but truth be told, it was really just an affirmation of what i already knew to be true.  that’s the thing about signs.  they really just help you to have the courage to choose the path you’re already on, to give you the confidence you need to put your foot out and take that risk.  it minimizes the hives and hyperventilation you feel when thinking about jumping off that cliff.

i registered for that program this evening, and will be starting a Doctor of Naturopathy as soon as they accept my application. happy to finally replace the debilitation of fear with the exhilaration of excitement; thankful for whoever or whatever is out there that sent “tortugas” to nudge me forward.

on the up & up.

“i have everything i need within me to be healed.”

the thought arose like a gentle whisper the other morning.  i sat cross-legged on my yoga mat, eyes closed as my breath began to deepen.  my thoughts were on the doctor’s appointment ahead of me and my health concerns.

“everything i need to be healed is within me,” went through my mind and a gentle peace began to settle.  i felt empowered and strong, ready to handle whatever may come my way, confident i would and could be taken care of.

the call came early in the week, confirming an abscess caused by MRSA.  given that my brain was lingering on the “C” word, MRSA sounded like a cake-walk.  until they switched my meds to a horribly intense antibiotic that caused heartburn for 48 solid hours.  still, it wasn’t worse and i was already visibly getting better.  the aforementioned doctor appointment went smoothly and quickly, with confirmation that i was getting better and, while i still would need to be checked in the future, i had no need to worry.

empowerment is an interesting thing.  while i may not always be able to heal myself without outside assistance, reaffirming the idea that i have it within me to confront and deal and be healed without fear was incredibly strengthening.  the empowerment it brought helped me to hold my head eye, instead of yielding to the fear.  just those few moments on the mat were all i needed to be reminded that i am a strong, formidable creature.

on a different note, thank you to so many of you who “liked” my original post and left notes of encouragement.  may we all be vessels of support and empowerment to one another, and thus work to change this world we live in.

the perils of being a woman.

DISCLAIMER: this post contains items of very sensitive nature.  please do not read if you will not handle with care.

“do you see that, at the top of the screen?  that big black spot,” the doctor asked as the moved the wand around on the slippery jelly.  the image shifted and sure enough, there it was, just as she described.  a large shifting black mass, surrounded by lots of white tissue.

my first ultrasound and i’m staring at a lump in my breast, not a baby in my belly.

it started out innocent enough.  a simple, small bump just below my nipple.  it has progressed quickly to a larger, more tender lump with the surrounding skin tissue growing redder and more inflamed by the day.  my first stop was the OB/GYN, who immediately put me on an antibiotic in hopes of a run-of-the-mill infection, but sent me to a breast care specialist in fears of the big “C” word.

cancer.

the ultrasound seemed to dispel fears of cancer, tho the specialist never said either way.  she simply called it an “abscess” and indicated a need to drain it.

“close your eyes,” she said as i lay back, exposing some of my most tender female parts to the wind. “don’t look at the needle.  this going to hurt.”  she paused.  “no, really, it’s going to be very painful.  you need to grip something.”  my arms fell to the side of the exam table, frantically grasping for an edge quickly lest the pain begin before i was ready.

the pain was unbelievable.  i cried, i groaned, my chest heaved in response.  tears rolled down my face and into my ears, as she pulled fluid from the mass.

as i drove home, my right breast wrapped in gauze, cradled in my bra, bracing myself for every bump, it occurred to me just how much women go through.  with little to no credit.  fear of breast cancer, of losing a breast or having their women hood permanently scarred with disease.  the inability to have children or, worse, losing a child too soon.  enduring the incredible physical pain of pregnancy and birth.  their are so many things, and my needle-stick-to-the-breast was just brushing the surface.

the mass has not drained as they said it would, nor has it begun to recede with the upping of antibiotic dosages.  my brain has turned back to the possibility/potential of cancer and i’m debating my next move.  it’s that tension of needing to be responsible and in-charge and progressive about my own body, while simultaneously being the victim.  those around me, while good intentioned and loving in their approach, want to reassure me that it’s just an infection.  but i can’t shut off that fear in my brain that it’s something bigger.  something more.  and if so, what’s my game plan?

for now, all there is to do is wait and honestly admit:

i’m scared.

going raw.

tomorrow, i’m going raw.

but let me back up a few steps.

i recently had a dream that i was diagnosed with cancer.  i’ve heard many stories of people diagnosed with cancer who decided to buck “conventional” treatment and, instead, bolster their immune system by eating a diet chock full of raw vegetables and fruits.  and so, distraught and emotional, i made a claim to drastically change my life: i was going raw.

i woke up craving raw brownies.

as i shared this dream, and my cravings, with my online community (aka. i posted on facebook), a good friend introduced me to the Rawtarian and her 30-day Raw Food Diet Plan.  i was intrigued, and had a slight twinge to try more raw recipes, but couldn’t convince myself that anything for 30 days, especially only raw food, would be anything close to what i wanted.

but then i kept thinking about it.  journaling about it.  reading about it.  and it actually is what i wanted.  for many reasons.

1. i’m tired of feeling sluggish.
i have a fairly healthy diet, but i’m still, as the Rawtarian puts it, “addicted” to so many foods that are not doing any good for my body.

2. my pants are too tight.
i’m also quite tired of being borderline overweight.

3. i want to see how my body will respond to such an overdose of healthy intake.  i want to see how my body works when it’s working at its best.

so i made the commitment, and set my sights on Monday morning for a start.  still, not all of me was convinced.  my inner child began to pout.  one of the first items on the shopping list, fruits, said simply, buy as many fruits as you like!  

i.  HATE.  fruit.  said my inner child, as she crossed her arms over her chest, stomped her foot, and scrunched up her face, throwing a temper tantrum in the produce aisle.  i gave her a minute (and a caramello candy bar) and heading for the check-out.  tantrums are fine, and it’s always best to be honest about how one’s feelings, but they shouldn’t always dictate our behaviors.

now, with my pantry stocked with nuts, and chia seeds, and all manner of fruits and veggies, i can’t help but feel i’m on the eve of some great journey.

the eve of the eve.

IMG_3897

“to a better year.”

this was me a year ago, at a New Year’s Eve party my friend and i hosted.  in front of the lens of the photobooth, we danced, and wrote posters and celebrated the end.  and the beginning.

my biggest desire: a better year.

so here i sit on the eve of the eve of the end of this year i hoped would be “better,” and have to admit that it was in so many ways.  hard but good.  stinking of death but robust with life.  i entered this year a broken (and broke!) wreck, and am walking out of it at peace with my ever-healing mess.

this year saw a few different guys who laid claim to my heart, a devastating separation from a good friend, a bike accident, the long-anticipated Superbowl come and gone, goodbye to an old dream and hello to a new job, a sickness that made me afraid i might ultimately lose my father, yoga and 12-step groups, dating and falling in love, reconciliation and renewed friendship.

whew.  that’s a mouthful.

still, with all this (and so much more), i sit in a state of slight disbelief that this year is nearly over. as remarkable as this year has been, it’s end is approaching with very little fanfare.  i will rise tomorrow, and go to work, and check emails and eat lunch.  and apart from spending the evening party hopping from one hopping party to another, it will look just like any other day.

i think this is why it’s been hard for me to reflect on the year.  i’ve been trying, though without much effort, to think of what my new year should focus on, what is the burning desire i want to see fulfilled?  what is my “to a better year” for 2013?

i still do not have a clear answer, but the word “contentment” floats lazily and peacefully to the surface.  i cannot yet tell if this is my desire or where i find myself or if its something i should try to center on.  but still, it sits on the edge of my mind and lingers, like the smell of lotion after a bath.

here are some other words that i’d like to focus on during this coming year:

cook.
whole and wholesome meals.  for fun and for serious.  even when i don’t want to.  especially when i don’t want to.

practice.
patience.  hospitality.  yoga.  learning to let go.  grace for myself.  sitting still. observance of the gifts of the seasons (rest and reflection in the winter, preparation and planting in the spring, growth and giant living in the summer, harvest and ending in the fall).

find.
that place where my strengths and passions intersect.  endurance.  healing.

tend.
myself.  my home.  a garden.  the yard.  a peaceful space. those pesky finances.

celebrate.
victories, big and small.  my 30th birthday!

love.
myself.  my sweet B.  those around me.  wildly.  fully.  in risky ways.  all those quiet and subtle places only i am privy to.  even when it’s hard.

so, here’s to 2013, and all the unknown wonders and experiences it has to offer!