Give Me A Break

My apologies for the recent blogging silence. I’ve been taking a break, both literally and¬†figuratively.

A couple weekends ago I went from this:

To this:

…in a matter of seconds.

Hello, broken nose! Hello, lacerated lip!

Here’s the story: I was camping with some friends and we decided to go hiking. Just an easy trail – no one was really into exerting themselves. We were psyched for a nice day out in the wilderness.

But, ahem, we were unprepared. A few reasons why we were dumb about the hike from the outset:

1. We’d had a few drinks the night before and everyone was hungover and dehydrated.

2. We only brought three bottles of water…for four adults and three dogs.

3. We didn’t bring a map.

4. My hiking shoes were old. (This one’s all me.)

Not surprisingly, we got lost. Six hours later, our easy hike was turned into an all-out quest. I was worried about the dogs. I was worried about taking a shower. I was worried about how soon I could eat a hamburger. I was not at all worried about where I was putting my feet.

So I fell. Hard. And since I was carrying a big plastic dog leash, I couldn’t break the fall with my hands – I broke it with my face instead. And let me tell you, it was scary. And there was a lot of blood. I immediately started screaming.

First I yelled out, “I broke my nose!” Then I yelled, “I’m going to die!” Then, “But I liked my noooooose!” Glad to see that even in a moment of terror, I still had the presence of mind to be vain.

Anyway. As you can see, there were numerous factors that contributed to my fall. But I know, deep in the place where you know these things, that I fell because I was exhausted. Not just from our long, unprepared-for hike, but from life in general.

I wouldn’t take a break, so my body gave me one. Literally.

I am an over-planner. I love to do stuff and I hate to say no. I hate it. I feel like if I say no to a proposed plan, the planner will think I don’t love them. Or that they won’t invite me again the next time. So I end up saying yes to virtually everything that comes my way, which means I am almost always over extended. My exhaustion from summer comings and goings had been building and building and I wasn’t listening to it. I thought I could just power through until the fall.

But the truth is, you should never power through. There should always be enough time – even if it’s only an hour here and there – to rest, relax and rejuvenate. This may mean I have to cancel plans at the last minute sometimes. It may mean I have to say no. But it’s something I need to do. I need to take care of myself because I am the only one who really knows how I’m feeling.

This is the lesson I’m taking from my epic spill. To listen to my body.

Everyone else, please, make an example out of me! The next time you’re burning a candle at both ends, just take a look of that lovely photo of my busted up face. Or use it to scare small children. Whatever.

And with that, I’m off to take a nap!

Who’s Afraid of Needles?

Not Me. Not anymore.

I get pricked with dozens of needles each week (willingly) at this place:

Philadelphia Community Acupuncture. It’s up the road from my house and it’s awesome.

But real quick, a little acupuncture 101. Here’s what goes down: an acupuncturist sticks super-thin (and I mean¬†thin, like hair thin) needles into various points in your skin. This is supposed to improve circulation, as well as release endorphins and serotonin into your brain. All of this allegedly makes you feel like a rock star and cures a variety of ailments.

In the US, acupuncture is usually performed in cubicles or other sectioned-off spaces, but this place treats everyone in the same room, in recliner chairs. They say this is more in line with traditional practices in Asia. Something about creating a collective energetic field and blah, blah, blah. You can choose to sit in a fancy modern mesh recliner or an old-school plush lazy boy with a blanket over it. I always go for the lazy boy.

Sound weird? It is, a little, at first. But the treatment room is in a huge old firehouse with brick walls and high ceilings. Light filters through big windows, making everything look warm and soft. There’s usually soothing music playing on low in the background and everyone talks in whispers. It’s very calming. Plus, the style of acupuncture they use only inserts needles on your arms up to your elbow, your legs up to you knees, and your head. So it’s not like you have to strip down or lift up your shirt or anything. Because that would be weird.

Does it hurt? Nah, not really. The needles are so thin and they don’t go very deep. Once in a while, they’ll put one in a tough spot, like the side of my foot or the web between my thumb and index finger, and that will hurt. But usually only for a second.

Here’s the cool part. After the acupuncturist finishes inserting the needles, covers me with blankets and tells me to have a good rest, something happens. I close my eyes and, bam, I get a rush. My body feels light and heavy at the same time. I feel instantly relaxed. After a few minutes, I find that I can’t really open my eyes, even if I wanted to. And, sometimes, I fall asleep.

I fall asleep.

I do not take naps. Ever. My mind is constantly humming with all sorts of anxious-making thoughts. I am mentally wired, always. So the fact that I can fall asleep in a room that is not my bedroom, surrounded by dozens of people, in the middle of the day, is a small miracle.

I originally started going to Philadelphia Community Acupuncture to treat carpal tunnel and irregular periods. My carpal tunnel, which had been bothering me for a couple of years, was gone within a month. Poof. The irregular periods? Well, that’s just taking a little longer, I suppose.

Regardless of what acupuncture cures or doesn’t cure for me, every time I get up from that recliner, I feel rested, relaxed and calm. To me, that is worth a million bucks. And then some.