“Root Down to Rise Up”
Meet Christie Turner. She’s a 29–year-old doctoral student studying clinical psychology. She’s working on a lot of big things like finishing up grad school, making time for creative hobbies, and being the best auntie to three super cute kiddos. She’s also trying to figure out how health and fitness fits in between all the busy.
We talk to Christie about self-care in the midst of big goals and more like:
- How taking a break from a big goal is good.
- A simple standard for the perfect workout.
- Finding rest in unexpected places.
DTGS Founder, Lizzy, gets the privilege of interviewing Christie and calling her a friend. Okay, here we go…
Lizzy: What does a day in your life look like?
Christie: In my perfect world, I would wake up every day to a slow morning where I savor my coffee and soak up all the morning sounds. And actually I do manage parts of this, but usually, my morning is rushed because I hit snooze every 10 minutes debating if I can get away without showering. At work, I typically see clients for therapy and/or do some group therapy. I then rush to get my notes written and head out the door by 4:30pm. I RUSH home to sit on my couch and watch the latest Hulu.
In my perfect world (which I sometimes manage), I go to the gym, express myself creatively, or clean my apartment. Oh and I typically go to sleep around 9pm!
L: I absolutely do the same snooze and “do I have to shower?” routine in the morning. Okay, so what’s hard about it?
C: I have been in grad school for 7 years, though stressed, I had flexibility in my schedule. I feel like I am a square trying to fit into a circle. I am trying to find my rhythm of work, productivity, and enjoyment within this forced structured work system. Its hard to fit errands, to-do lists, and savoring moments into the few hours after work before bed!
L: Totally. That’s such a hard shift. How has health and fitness looked at different times or in different seasons of your life?
C: For a long time my journey with health and fitness was one of the following: non-existent, spurts here and there, or obsessive. I am currently on the rebound from being obsessive which may look to others as non existent fitness but to me it is me trying to intentionally and holistically pursuing health and fitness.
I am currently on the rebound from being obsessive which may look to others as non existent fitness but to me it is me trying to intentionally and holistically pursuing health and fitness.
I want to move because it feels good to move. I want to push myself appropriately because it feels good to realize I can do things strength-wise I didn’t realize I could do with my body. I can get frustrated with my physical limitations and fall back into the obsessive mindset. I obsess over finding the right workout that properly balances the back muscles and lift heavy but put it back to back so that it raises and on and on which, I might add are all great things!
I love working out at smart gyms that know how to create these perfectly balanced workouts. However, sometimes we are so obsessed with results and the perfect workout that we actually never move. For me, in this season, the perfect workout is the one I do. The one in which I move more because it feels good to move.
For me, in this season, the perfect workout is the one I do. The one in which I move more because it feels good to move.
L: That is such a great perspective. I love love love that. What’s important to you about your physical space and physical self?
C: I want my physical space to be hospitable and welcoming. And really I guess I want that for my workouts too. All these “body attack, combat” classes are not the attitude I want to take towards my body!
L: What’s one positive change or habit you have made recently or would like to make?
C: I started crocheting. I cannot begin to express how much I love crocheting nor how cozy it makes me feel.
L: Who helps you on your journey? You know, your support squad!
C: My soul sisters. I have dear dear friends who not only understand my metaphory speech, but speak it as well. I think it is good to have friends with diverse backgrounds and values, but oh how I love connecting and being supported by my soul sisters who speak, create, and dream into my life with me.
L: What’s something you want more of in your life in 2017?
C: I want more adventures outside. I am taking small steps towards this. I just printed various trails near my house that I can go wander around. Next step, find out where I park.
L: What’s something you foresee being hard about 2017?
C: I am going to be transitioning from life long student to full time employee.
L: What’s something you’re looking forward to in 2017?
C: Celebrating my graduation from my doctoral program! It has been such hard, enduring, fulfilling journey and I am so excited to celebrate how others continually showed up to support me and how I showed up to support myself these past years.
L: A well-deserved celebration indeed!! Do you have any tips or advice for someone like you who is pursuing health and fitness on their own terms?
C: Notice the way you talk to your body about life, I have a suspicion she is listening to you and trying to act accordingly. For me, I realized I had been sending messages to my body for years of deficits. For example, I would say “there isn’t enough time! I don’t have enough energy! I can’t get everything done!” in addition to the mean critiques to say towards my body.
I had a realization recently that my body is a genius! She took my messages to heart and was trying to store energy! Instead of hating on her for her shape, I want to thank her for trying her best given the circumstances and it motivates me to show up for my body, to move, to nourish.
Now even with this realization, I still have some pretty negative self talk, but again instead of trying to shame myself for the negative self talk, I want to respond with love to that inner critic who is trying her best to protect me or something.
L: When do you feel most like yourself?
C: I feel most like myself when I am in nature or when I am hosting a dinner party with close friends. In these moments I feel so grounded and connected. I feel like often I can lose myself in time pressures, to do lists, and analyzing myself making me feel frantic. I feel most myself when I am grounded and free to explore at my own pace.
L: What was an influential time in your life?
C: I took a quarter off in graduate school. I was 6 years in and so exhausted. Cultural values told me to keep pushing through. I wanted to be able to just push through, but I could not. I encountered my own limitations and I initially felt embarrassed about those limitations because I thought “others made it! why couldn’t I?!” I knew deep in my gut that I needed a rest.
I encountered my own limitations and I initially felt embarrassed about those limitations because I thought “others made it! why couldn’t I?!” I knew deep in my gut that I needed a rest.
I imagined rest would come in the form of deep conversations (I’m a therapist, I love to process after all). I imagined I would devour books. Turns out that is not what I needed at all. I found lightness through play during this time off. I went to the Grand Canyon. I went on a kayaking trip. I laughed a lot. I was still anxious. I was still a bit unmotivated to finish graduate school, but I felt just a hint lighter.
During that time I learned that what I need most isn’t to process all my thoughts and read books with answers, I need play. I need lightness.
During that time I learned that what I need most isn’t to process all my thoughts and read books with answers, I need play. I need lightness. So when I feel the pressures to work through lunch, I remember that play enlivens me and makes me more productive than pushing through the notes. When I am anxious to figure out the details of job applications, I try to remember maybe a day spent away adventuring would serve me more.
L: Where do you turn for inspiration?
C: Trees, succulents, and the moon’s phases. Seriously! Have you ever just reflected on the lessons you can learn from trees and succulents? A piece of a succulent could be broken, cut, or fall off and it will naturally start to regrow roots, as these little tiny roots start reforming, little buds grow up out of that one piece, and it gets bigger and bigger and establishes itself. New life comes out of the brokenness, it can reestablish roots even in non-ideal circumstances.
Trees! They carry so much history! They teach me lessons about life’s seasons, vulnerability, openness, and strength. The biggest inspiration I have from trees is “root down, to rise up.”