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who moved my chi?
finding my way back to inner peace
by heather m. millen

I'm an incredibly organized person. I keep an "Infamous To Do List" that is updated daily and nothing gives me greater pleasure than checking off items. I like clean surfaces and carefully arranged closets. Clothes belong in a chest of drawers, not the floor of my bedroom. I have boxes and drawers and baskets, all to better organize my life... and my husband's life if he would only listen to me and STOP LEAVING ALL THAT CRAP ON THE DESK!

When something is lost in the house, it's inevitably me who finds it. I don't lose my keys, my socks, or my marbles. But lately I occasionally find myself looking for something I swear was there before. I thought I knew right where it was and always had it at the ready. And I swear that it wasn't me who misplaced it, so it seems only fair to ask: Who moved my chi?

At first, my chi would just disappear for a moment or two, back before I even missed her. But then a few months ago, I noticed the gaps were getting longer. I wondered what became of her. Did she get lost somewhere between New York and Boston when I relocated? Did she make a break for it after my thirtieth birthday? Did my new husband scare her off?

I miss my chi. I remember our good times together, jumping out of the bed in the morning, ready to take on the day. Me and my chi, we were unstoppable. I look at old photos and although its hard for the untrained eye to see, I find traces of her there. A glint in the eye, a smile bursting at the seams, a sense of unadulterated hope emanates from the photo. There she was, all through my college days, riding shotgun on my moves cross-country, sticking her toes in the sand in L.A. and running rampant backstage at my first theatre job.

I decided to go find my chi. I started at home, taking a few days off work to pinpoint my search. After finding no luck there, I reasoned, "Of course not! Why would anyone stick around for the cold days of a New York winter? If I were my chi, I'd be somewhere tropical." So a trip to Mexico was booked and bags were packed.

The first couple days of the trip were fruitless. I felt on edge. I couldn't dedicate myself to the search. Instead I found myself thinking about issues at work, family problems, finances. But by day three, my chi and I were reunited. We hung out by the pool and read for hours. We drank margaritas and splashed in the ocean. We went to bed early and got up with the sunrise. It was so refreshing to be back with my chi. I felt at peace and was certain that my chi and I had made amends. I knew that we were reunited for good.

That hasn't been the case. Sure, she's there sometimes, always the sucker for a cameo. She shows up on Saturdays and when the spring sun is especially strong. But it's not even close to the consistency of my younger carefree days. All of a sudden, the tiniest thing makes my chi disappear. Dirty house? Chi dives out the window. Spat with the hubby? Off in a flash. Trouble at work? Sure enough, there's Chi sprinting down Broadway. I'm tired of turning to her and finding Doubt or Worry or Stress in her place. They're naggy all the time and they're shit drinking partners.

The dictionary defines "Chi" as: "the circulating life energy that in Chinese philosophy is thought to be inherent in all things; in traditional Chinese medicine the balance of negative and positive forms in the body is believed to be essential for good health."

All I know is that she was my partner in crime. She kept me in touch with my joie de vivre. She made me take on each day as a new adventure. She helped me overcome obstacles when no one believed it could be done. She coined the phrase that became my mantra, "If you're gonna go, go all out." She made me feel carefree and light, untouchable. And the future was something that we would charge into together, full speed with arms flailing. Not something we would step into meekly, not something to be feared. So you can probably see why I'm so desperately seeking her.

Since it is commonly believed that this evasive life force is regulated by acupuncture, I even decided to give that a try. I found it thoroughly relaxing and enjoyable. Who'd have thought hundreds of tiny needles could be so fun? However, with the cost of one session ranging from $75 to $120, in these difficult economic times I find it easier to believe that this will be more of a stress-inducer and not the gateway to my personal nirvana.

So my search continues, little by little each day. I think I glimpsed her peeking out from the behind a Cherry Blossom tree on my way to work today. And I could sense her next to me as I vegged out on the couch watching "Gossip Girl" last night. I'm pretty sure she's making plans to join us at the beach this summer. But I just hope she can find her way back home for good. Because I need her most on the average Tuesday, when the rain is pouring down and things just haven't been going my way. We still have that future to conquer.


Heather has a penchant for drama, both personally and professionally. She secretly wishes people spoke in song and wholeheartedly believes that everyone deserves a standing ovation now and again. She finds it appalling that people reserve champagne only for special occasions, when champagne is clearly best on a Tuesday, while riding the subway, accompanying a slice of kick-ass pizza.

more about heather m. millen


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published: 3.30.02

one part hormones, two parts angst
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by heather m. millen
topic: general
published: 1.26.04


mike julianelle
4.23.08 @ 11:22a

Excuse me, but what are desks for if not to store things? Case closed.

Anyone else find it interesting that Heather's chi and warm weather seem to work in unison? Might it be a seasonal thing? Thankfully we are emerging from the winter doldrums as we speak, so hopefully her ever elusive chi will stick around for the next few months or so.

julie restivo murphy
4.23.08 @ 4:59p

Great article Heather - sorry to hear you've got the blues, but at least your writing is still full of chi!

I've been having my own chi issues lately, so I can sympathize. I got some good advice the other day though-- that whatever you focus on, you'll bring more of. So I started writing down all the things that make me happy, trying not to dwell on the negative, and it seems to be working, so far...

julie restivo murphy
4.23.08 @ 8:09p

Also, I find spending time upside down sometimes helps... :)

carolee baxter
4.24.08 @ 2:44p

Personally, my chi has a name....this month it is Sol and best served up cold with lime. I find her pretty much every day after 5. Somewhere.

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