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.

 

asking for help, pacing myself and other life lessons

“it is better to travel well than to arrive.”
-Buddha

about a month ago, i left my full-time, all-consuming job with a winery to pursue and fine-tune some dreams that have been brewing deep inside of me.  namely, yoga and natural health.  my schedule has lightened and is much more determined by me.  my income sources have also lightened, so i’ve added “selling Pampered Chef” to my list of fun endeavors.  all of this has left me on somewhat uneven ground, tilting back and forth as i try to find my sea legs and steady myself again.

a few of my less than shiny character traits have begun to rear their little heads during this time of transition.

recently, my shoulder has begun to hurt.  a deep, burning ache that happens when i’m using the computer or driving and especially after an intense yoga class.  feeling discouraged, i resolved to try harder.  until one day, after class, my arm ached all afternoon.  through two movies and lunch and shopping.  ache, ache, ache.  i hesitated to ask anyone, afraid i would need to lay off of yoga and all the things i’ve been working on. finally, i asked a teacher at the studio if i should just take a break.

“no,” she said, “not necessarily.  you may just be doing something wrong.  you should have a teacher look at your form.”  my relief at being able to keep practicing was short-lived as i considered asking someone to not only watch me practice yoga, but also to offer critique.

i’ve always been incredibly insecure about my “performance” in just about any area of my life.  in an effort to avoid commentary, i strive to do better than any expectations, to wow people before they can decide i’m not good enough or don’t have the skill.  asking for someone to help me see what i couldn’t felt less like help, and more like judgement.

nevertheless, i knew i needed help and it wasn’t going to happen spontaneously.  after class yesterday, i asked my teacher to come over, to watch me.  a couple other students, overhearing my request and having similar questions, stood by.  despite my fears, she listened and offered suggestion, noting my form and how my lack thereof was likely contributing to the pain.  she gave me some exercises to gain strength and i felt humbled.  in one of the best of ways.  humbled that another human would handle my request for help with gentleness and respect.

another character trait that has been known to both help and hurt is my “all or nothing” modus operandi.  “all or nothing” people are great and have a lot to offer.  they go after goals with tenacity and perseverance.  they are passionate and driven and, for lack of a better phrase, get shit done.  but “all or nothing” people are surprisingly fragile, susceptible to burn out and running themselves into ground.

that’s where i found myself in my last work position.  i accepted a job that had long been neglected and was in need of serious, deliberate attention.  i called it my wild stallion.  and initially, i enjoyed it despite the exhausting hours and sleepless nights.  but over time, it took its toll as i worn down more and more.  until i finally had to call it quits.

now, in my new season, i find the drive revving back up and my desire to hit the road running have kicked in.  especially in the area of Pampered Chef, especially after our spring conference last weekend.  i came back convinced i would be a director by July, setting my sites on that goal and going hard after it.

the yoga fell into the shadow of this dream, as did my studying for naturopathy.  suddenly Pampered Chef became the destination, not the vehicle.  i’ve joked that it feeds my need for instant gratification, as my dreams for yoga and natural health are things that will take years to attain.

this is not to say i’m quitting Pampered Chef or anything, as my “all or nothing” personality tends to dictate.  but i do need to put it back into its place, to realign my perspective.  i want to do PC well, to succeed and make money, but it’s not my life’s calling.  it’s not that thing that’s recently awoken within me.  it’s the vehicle for getting there and, who knows, may just pay for all my future dreams.

needless to say, life is busy here.  like the winter, i find my life is in a bit of still hardness. soon the soil will be tilled, the seeds planted, the baby plants growing and thriving and putting off fruits to nourish little bodies.  but for now, it is slow and hibernating and the perfect place to learn big life lessons with gentleness and humility.

a new vision

“where there is no vision, the people perish….” 
    -Proverbs 29:18

“the most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision.”
   -Helen Keller

as the New Year approaches and i find myself embarking on (many!) new adventures, i decided to attend a Vision Board workshop at my yoga studio.  what, you may ask is a Vision Board, let alone a Vision Board workshop?!  i had similar questions myself and had a hard time describing to others what i intended to spend the morning of my day off doing. still, something stirred in my spirit and i knew that was exactly where i needed to be.

the concept of a vision board is simple: compile all those things you want to Be, Do, and Have, whether in pictures, words, phrases, and display them on a board.  in doing so, you create a space that houses all your desires, and reminds you daily what you’re looking for in this life, where you’re aiming yourself.  and on a deeper level, as i soon learned, you’re allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough to admit you want something.

we started our time together with a brief series of yoga moves, warming up our bodies and allowing the morning to slough off, like old skin.  whatever it took to get us there, whatever our mornings included, soon melted off and a peace settled about the room.  the coach explained a bit of the science behind the vision board, words that went over my head as i didn’t bring my journal to write them down.  and then she set us free to dream.

in the middle of the room were hundreds of magazines for the taking, and scissors and glue sticks and poster board.  i gobbled up several magazines like a child starving and began searching for images and words.  initially, i just grabbed at anything that attracted me, not thinking about what i really wanted to see in my life.

this has been such a strange time of transition.  i recently started studying naturopathy, which has shifted the focus of my priorities.  i also decided that my current job was taking too many precious resources, mainly time, and that i’d rather be spending those on the path it seemed i should be on.  i reached out to my yoga teacher, which in turn led to a job with a local yoga studio.  i am currently merging into my work there, while slowly cutting down my work with the winery.  i am also supplementing my income by selling Pampered Chef, so my time lately has been spent learning the ropes and spreading the word.  needless to say, there is a lot of change and transition happening.

which left me breathless, so to speak, when it came to the vision for my life.  this transition has forced my hand in a way, to develop that picture a bit, but there are still so many other items, tangible pieces that just weren’t coming into focus.

i wrestled with myself as i turned page after page.  what do i desire to have, to do, to be?

the more feverishly i worked, the more i wrestled.  the more i wrestled, the more feverish i became.  until finally i realized the issue: my own limiting beliefs.  focus, i told myself stubbornly.  focus.  what do you REALLY want?  as if my vision board where now some budgetary to-do list, with limited resources to supply it’s coming to fruition.  but there were no limits, and that was the point of the exercise.  what would life look like and include if you had no limits??  that was the very point of this time.

i had missed it.  i had let the limiting voices become mine.  but i didn’t let them take over.  i started to let myself answer honestly and without reserve.

i want to have peaceful mornings, i thought, to create a home, to have yoga be a more central part of my life.  i want a family to warm these rooms, to hear the laughter of little people.  more tangibly, i want to be engaged and be married.  i ripped out pictures of engagement rings and my wedding dress, and a couple holding hands.  i want to visit Paris and New York City.  i want to own my own business and remodel the kitchen.  all these things went on the board.

vision board

above all else, the coach added at one point, is the feelings associated with these things you desire.  how do you envision yourself feeling? she asked.

i struggled with this the most.  the truth is, i gave up a long time ago hoping to feel.  it is a classic survivor skill, neutralizing all expectation and hope to avoid disappointment.  i just didn’t realize how deep it went.  at the heart of all my wrestling, i was scared.  scared to admit what i really desired, scared to see it come to fruition, scared that maybe it wouldn’t fulfill me as i hoped, scared it may never come at all.  i was, and am, scared of good things happening.

i verbalized this to the lady next to me, fidgeting as i admitted it.  do you ever feel that way, i asked.  she nodded confidently.

“that’s called vulnerability,” she said.  ahh, yes.  vulnerability.  my old frien-enemy.  how to ever make peace with her, but that is a different post for a different day.

with my vision board complete, i rolled it into my yoga map and rode my bike home, the visions swirling in my mind.  the coach suggested putting it somewhere we could see it daily, and looking at it, reminding our subconscious selves what we’re looking for in this world.  so my little work of art sits on my dresser.  and the words “boss” and “family” and “cooking up a business” stare back at me when i wake and when i get dressed for the day, to remind me of what is possible and prompt me to pursue my dreams.

 

the evolution of a resume.

if there’s one thing that job-hopping over a period of years affords, it’s a highly evolved resume.

when i created my first post-graduation resume, nearly 8 years ago, i had the great help of friend and communications major.  i was a fairly unorganized college graduate, choosing to pursue a more bohemian existence, whereas she was completely opposite.  she prepped her resume our senior year and took it out, securing a job before we even graduated.

her biggest tips stay with me to this day and have greatly helped in my process.  first and foremost, it’s important to focus on the wording that’s used, which includes nearly all of the following–strived, maintained, created, served, communicated.  and so many more of those qualities that employers want to see, that show how you have been a self-initiator, how you’ve grown in your position, and what you intend to do in the future.  every employer wants an employ that seems easy to manage.

clearness and conciseness go a log way in communicating that message, which is where i feel thankful that English-major brain goes into overdrive.  “articulate” is definitely a gift plays out well in a resume.

highlighting the most important positions/experiences first is key.  you want the first thing a potential employer sees to be that job that gave you the experience for the one you want.  this led to an interesting discovery on my part: resumes don’t need to be in chronological order.  now, don’t get me wrong, they need to be relevant.  it doesn’t help to be applying for a customer service job and include your summer high school job as a Denny’s waittress from 10 years ago as an example.  but including a significant position in your career development that may have taken place prior to your current (or even former) job as a primary example on your resume is more than fine.  just be prepared to explain why you’re not there any more if it was such a pivotal position for you.

and last, but certainly NOT last, is to be honest.  it’s important to explain your positions and responsibilities in professional resume jargon, but never embellish on what you’re really capable of.  you may initially get the position you want, but this can lead to a lot of disappointment and heartache on both sides of the fence down the road.

these tips come back to me as i edit and modify for a promotion i’m interested in.  it feels strange to review my jobs of past, and be reminded of the impact they had on me, to see how they directly contributed to the skills i’m able to offer today.  editing a resume is a bit like a trip down memory lane, some good and some…not so good.  which leads to the last, and final, tip.  celebrate when you finally find you have enough experience to delete that one position you were just using as filler and happily move into the future.

 

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!

reconstruction.

it has been a rocky season for blog-writing.  many of you have noticed the extended periods of time between entries.  to those of you who’ve checked up on me or sent encouraging notes about my writing, i thank you.  it has not been for a lack of ideas that i’ve stayed away; what i’m going to share next is constantly on my mind.  instead, i find i have been lacking a sense of direction.

my relationship with my blog has probably been the longest and consistent relationship i’ve had in my adult life.  i started my first blog when i was just 21 and a junior in college.  you can read it here.  my early writings there are angsty, sometimes bitter or obscene as i struggled to find myself and convey the feels so prevalent in my early to mid-twenties.  feelings of frustration as i forged my identity and wrestled with the values placed on me.  i will warn you, if you are familiar with only my work here, you may find you don’t recognize me.

eventually, i wanted my writing to mature so i moved to a wordpress format, where i felt i could refine my online presence and adjust the content of my work to reflect the deeper nature of my ponderings.  i named it “living is a process” because i deeply needed those around me, and myself, to understand that life is one great journey, one continual undergoing of change and growth.  the nature of such a life demands great grace, hence the tagline “so please be patient with me.”

in that spirit, i find myself in the midst of another great change.  this has happened with the opportunity for a new job, the advent of a beautiful new relationship, the possibility for a healthier living situation, and is now manifesting itself with my writing.  writing has always been on the place and, as i mentioned before, it always comes back to my blog.  i got to the point in the midst of my recent transition when the old way of doing the blog stopped fitting.  i’ve been wrestling ever since with how to proceed.  i couldn’t give it up, not after so many confirmations that my writing is adding something to the world.  still, i couldn’t figure out what that should look like.

one day over lunch, my sister shared her motivation for running.  she explained that each time she ran, she would fill in the blank to the the statement, “I run to __________.”  some examples included, “I run to clear my mind” or “I run for my health.”  as the bloggie that i am, i thought, what a great blog!  maybe i’ll start it!  of course, my original blog baby began to cry in the background…what about me?  it moaned.  remember me?  your first love?

the thing is, tho, i couldn’t stop remembering it.  it ate at me that i wasn’t posting on my blog, that my brain seemed to be exploding with ideas to share and wrestlings to present, but i wasn’t sure how to move forward.  then it hit me…instead of creating a new blog for specific areas i’d like to write about, i could create “segments” to write to.  segments would give me direction, give my blog some form and function and, eventually, lead to more readership.  my goal is to write three times per week and then pick one entry to expand into a chapter length piece.  eventually, i’d love for this project to give birth to a book.

here is just a rough idea of what i’d like those segments to be:

I Run To….
(yes, i’m copying this idea from my sis.)  i have learned so much from running in the past, about myself and life and more.  this segment will focus on those things as well as training advice, races, and more.

On My Bookshelf
if you’re like me, you tend to get your reading suggestions from others.  On My Bookshelf will be a book review of sorts and will feature answers to standardized interview questions about whatever i’m reading at the time.  there will be no limit to the genre or type of book i’m reading, ranging from cookbooks to fictional pieces to gardening manuals.

Healthy/Wealthy/Wise
one of the most important paths i’m exploring (and constantly learning about) is health, in every facet of the word.  from exploring how my body works to what foods are good for digestion to understanding the need to keep my emotional and mental self free from toxic stresses, health is incredibly important to me.  i’m naming this segment “Healthy/Wealthy/Wise” after an old adage my mom used to say that goes, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”  this segment will explore those ideas and principles i’m learning that i believe are increasing health and leading ultimately to a richer and wiser life.

of course, my writing and blogging will not be restricted to these topics; you will still be able to find stories and insights into everyday situations.  thank you for your support of my writing!  it is truly a treasure to know that honesty in my journey helps others along in theirs.

 

rubber meets road.

let me tell you about my day.  or rather, just the last 4 hours or so.

my roommate left, with the car, for Michigan for the week.  usually not an issue considering i have a bike and have been bulking up on rain gear.

on my way to work, however, i slammed into a rather hideous pothole (thank you, city of Indianapolis) and blew the back tire.  i was spewing obscenities all up Virginia ave.  fortunately i was close to work.  i chained the bike up and began to scheme about how i could get it to the bike shop just a 1/2 mile down the road.

one of my friends at the shop, Court, offered to drop it off when she left so that eliminated that frustration.  i called when my shift was over and it was ready, so i started walking.

halfway into the trek, it started pouring.  hardcore.  by the time i reached the bike shop, i was soaked head to toe.  my jeans, my boots, my hair…all dripping as i tried to sign the receipt.  $17 i didn’t anticipate spending on my bike this week.

i pedaled back to the shop in the rain and, though i had my heart set on writing for awhile before going home, i admitted defeat and decided to pack up.  i couldn’t help but think as i rode, how this is such an tangible illustration of how i feel lately…heavy, weighed down, cold, frustrated, my vision clouded.  not knowing where i’m going, or why i’m doing the things i’m doing.

dreariness all over my horizon.

to add insult to injury, i rolled through a giant, parking-spot-long hole on the way back, full of water and oil.  whatever wasn’t wet before certainly was now.

so, i sit in my underwear as i write this, partly because i can, and partly because i don’t yet have the heart to put pants back on.  wet clothes are strewn everywhere and a hot cup of tea sits beside me.  of all the days i would have permission to scrap it and just watch a movie, i really just want to write.  i am trying to work up the determination to jump back in….