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.

 

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nurse Christie.

i am currently on hospital duty, until my relief comes in the early afternoon.  i spent the night with pops last night, sleeping on a cot in the corner of the room, which was surprisingly comfortable.  although, our standards aren’t high these days…basically as long as it’s horizontal, it’s golden.  this was the first time we’d slept in the same room together in years, probably since family vacation in high school when we had to share a hotel room.

he did well overnight and we (the nurse, my stepmom and i) are devising a strategy for today to get him moving and our of this hospital.  good-bye and good riddance.  not that the hospital, itself, has been bad.  in fact, they’ve been very good to us…but this is no place for a human to stay who wants to live any semblance of a healthy life.  the air is sterile, stale.  no sunshine is able to permeate the brick facade.  no greenery or trees or life can be seen from the windows.  it’s the opposite of life-giving.

one thing i’ve learned in my foray into nurse-care over these last 24 hours: i’m not really a nurturing person (my sis just rolled her eyes, “ya think?” she asked sarcastically).  but it’s true.  i always thought i was, always wanted to be, maybe b/c i desperately needed it myself, but i’m more the “tough love” kind of person.  i see the benefit in struggle (not suffering, necessarily, don’t misread me), in fighting through pain or discomfort.  i see how fever, no matter how miserable, is the body’s way of fighting off enemies.  i’m not masochistic, i don’t applaud pain or suffering for the sake of misery, but do see the necessity of it for the sake of growth and healing.

i rather like my approach.  it makes me much more aware, however, of how much i need a partner who is the more nurturing type.  it may seem silly, but sometimes i’m just really thankful that i’m still single and have the time/space to figure out what/who i really need in my life….

retreat.

a couple weeks ago, i felt led to schedule some time away and with God.  leave it to me to do this further into the city (Chicago) instead of away from it.  fortunately, my dear friend Megan was away from the weekend and said i could have her place all to myself.  so i booked the megabus (uber cheap) and a couple city bus rides later, found myself in a wonderful little cave of a place, in a quiet neighborhood.  just what i needed.

it was a strange 48-hours, as i slept for nearly half of it.  but it was so rewarding to travel alone, navigating bus systems and crowds.  God definitely had me meet a fair share of interesting people–a Philippino man who offered me his adult son in marriage, said I would like the Philippines; an older couple from Mexico who helped me get off the bus when the door was jammed;  a homeless man named Bob who told me life is not worth living without the struggle; a man named “Magic” who asked if i was a minor–a strange, but still worthy compliment on my age.

plus, i got to try out my new pack, which is wonderful and worked so well for travel.

really really (rediculously) free summer.

(or drastically reduced in price)

a couple weeks ago i had one of the most amazing days in a very long time.  after breakfast, the roommates and i rode our bikes to the circle for the 500 parade.  because we were virtually free of “baggage” (no bulky coolers or kids or lawn chairs for us), we were able to scoot right in front, sitting on the street at the feet of the people on the bleachers.  this view was perfect.  it allowed us to experience the parade unhindered and unblocked.

afterward, we rode back, grabbed a snack and a (very) small nap, and were out the door again, on our way to Yelp 500.  Yelp is a great little website for reviewing local venues and events, and they put together a giant party, complete with local beer, crepes, sausages, cake and more. 

we rode bikes and, minus an accident on the way, the event cost me nothing. 

on the way back, we rode over to the Art Museum in hopes that a fav band of ours (Band of Horses) might still be playing a free concert they spontaneously announced just the day before.  sure enough, a small bout of rain showers caused a delay and we had missed nothing.  the result: an amazingly free concert experience.

the totaly cost for the day: $4 for a beer at the concert.  even our transportation was fee-less, as we biked all over the city.

this got me to thinking…what if i could experience my entire summer in Indy on virtually nothing.  given my current financial situation this became really appealling, and as i looked more closely at the things going on in this city, i began to think this could be a reality.

so, i will continue sharing my challenge here, my successes and failures, and all the fun adventures i have on next to nothing.  i will categorize them under “free Indy”.   i will also announce things i find via my twitter (@christiealison) and begin the text with “FREE INDY”. 

so, what’s on the agenda for this weekend?  Handicraft Exchange and Independant Music Festival at Harrison Arts Center tomorrow and Talbot St. Art Fair on Sunday.  completely free (as long as i don’t buy anything) and accessible on bike.  beautiful.