Do Something Everyday That Scares You

I was terrified. Every time I thought about doing it, I started crying. When I thought of others, giving it their all, I cried more.

There was NO WAY I would participate.

Then my sister said she was going, and taking her daughters, and immediately, my hackles went up and I thought “I must go to protect them.” Fear had me in its grip, and I was reacting to the situation.

The day before the event, my darling sister also started to feel the fear, deciding it wasn’t the best idea to go with the girls, and she and I planned instead to go for a run in the morning while her daughters played at Grandma’s house for an hour or so.

This morning, I woke up from terrible nightmares, and knew – I had to go march.

This may be the biggest event I will ever see happen in my lifetime. I needed to be present, and support my fellow feline feminine goddesses

Further influenced by some very important women in my life (all starting with dear sister’s desire to STAND UP for our rights), we went together – my nieces safely at Grandma’s and found our way, in the pouring rain, to the Women’s March in Portland.

img_6568

I have never been political here, and to be clear – this is truly not about politics, this is about Human Rights. This is about life as we know it to be – NOW – In America as women, men, queer, of all religions and all nationalities and races, and keeping the momentum moving forward. 

The March was full of love, peaceful protests, comedic signs, uplifting words, and really,
SO MUCH LOVE

As we shuffle-stepped our way, holding hands, into the crowded street to begin our slow procession through the city, I found myself giggling at many of the signs that touched my heart, and my eyes were constantly welling up with tears.

This is what matters. Supporting one another.

This past Tuesday, I found myself at the Library, to check out a book for the first time in my new city, and drifted over to browsing the movie titles after picking up my book in “holds” section. Suddenly, Suffragette was staring at me from the shelf marked “S”. My first thought was “that’s an appropriate movie to watch, now,” as I have started fearing my rights may be taken away from me under this new administration.

Today and tonight have been eye-opening.

img_6572
Breakfast for dinner and a movie that shocked, and brought me to tears. Then, to my feet.

I know that the movie is not exactly historically accurate, but I learned how naive I have been about the struggles women have suffered. And how much effort, sacrifice, and strength it has taken to get to this point, our present.

I have so much respect for the women who have come before me.

To all my elders: please accept my belated gratitude for all that you have done for me, and every woman, so we can live our lives more freely, working toward the equality that should be the born right of every person.

And so help me, I will do my damnedest to help keep those rights for each and every woman in this country.

I am not a confrontational person by nature (this introvert does not like conflict), but I can tell you that today, a part of me was awakened that I often try to hide, even from myself. I have only once in my life – before today’s march – been involved in any activism (2000 Election get-out-the-vote campaign – anyone else jump on that wagon?), and I generally have side-stepped political conversations (or confrontations) in the past.

But now is the time to take action.

I am no longer a sidelines person. I have decided this evening to find a local organization to join and get involved in for (at least) the next four years (open to suggestions from those of you who are more plugged in than I). The Women’s March is a good start, but we have a lot of work to do, and many more days of truth-speaking to do, and I intend to lend my voice to this cause.

Because women [and everyone] are worth it.

I know this post may be controversial, and I hope that, no matter your party affiliation, you can see the truth in the purpose of today’s Global Women’s Marches:
The people’s peace movement for the rights of all.

img_6563-1
Peaceful, supportive, lending voices to be heard. Portland Women’s March – 100k strong.

I pray that we can all continue to lift each other up, find levity in each day to stay positive, and stand up when we are called to do what is right.

with – so much – love for all, Goodnight.
~Alaina

My Past, Present, and Future

Hello friends,

Over eight months ago was my last rambling in this lovely space, and I feel … stuck at how to begin telling you about the major transformation my life has taken in such a short time.

It’s like these stairs in my new neighborhood…

Singer Hill Creek Stairs
Up and up and up and up…
There have been challenges.
Physical pain.
Heartbreaking loss.

After it all, I have continued to climb this hill, and find myself in a very happy place.

I now own a home. I am finally running again! And a new sense of purpose is subtly finding a place in my mind, rolling off my lips, and it is finally time to make space for this new adventure on a page.

After the broken toe (and spirit), the healing solo vacation, and buying my first home, I now know what I need to do.

While I was on the journey through Yoga Teacher Training two years ago, I found myself contemplating creating (what I thought was) a new career: healthy lifestyle coach. I found so much joy in talking with my peers about what they really wanted to do and encouraging them to step forward, plus I was exploring cooking and baking without sugar, with success! And I really want to share my ideas and recipes with you, my friends.

So this is when I get to tell you: I am starting a new project.

Alwayslovinlife has fulfilled her purpose for the time being. She will stay here, and perhaps I will visit from time to time with notes or pictures from my running adventures (because I do plan to have many more).

This is a new adventure to share my real life with you (not just the running highlights):
– Recipes created without added (processed) sugar (using REAL FOOD)
– Reduce/reuse/recycle ideas and DIYs (Save the Planet!” because I have always been that   way. And now I have a house that needs furniture and fixing – on a budget!)
– Relevant ideas regarding mindfulness & self-care. This is a practice that is difficult for me to maintain, so I am asking you to help hold me accountable.
– And more developments to come, once I catch my stride in the new space!

That’s the scoop! I am happy to finally have the processed enough of the stuff of last summer/fall/winter, and have the mental clarity (and drive!) to start moving forward again. One step at a time.

Look for another post coming soon regarding where to find more updates from me in the near future!

(To all you friends and family that I have been talking about starting that food blog: Yes – it will be live within a week!)

Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive and patient with me as I spent time with myself, in my mind, in workbooks, staring out windows, and painting furniture to work through my grief for all this change, and process how to make my next steps. I appreciate all of you so very much.

Much love,
~Alaina

Clearing Clutter: An Education in Pieces

IMG_1270

IMG_1270

This season of Summer passed much more quickly than I expected.

I have spent a lot of time inside this summer. Inside at work, in my house, exploring the inner space of my mind. 

One tends to learn a lot when they take the time to listen. 

This has been the case for me.  After breaking my toe, abandoning “getting back in to dancing” (the activity that caused me to break the toe), taking time off from running (due to the toe fiasco), and going on a solo trip to Sisters, Oregon, I had a lot of time to think and ponder what was really important for me. I even started reading The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte, and am working on completing the workbook – which has created space for more inner contemplation (more on this soon, when my words form into something more solid and communicable).

But this time of solitude and reflection was interrupted.

I reconnected with an old flame on my way home from Sisters – and that is going great. I went back to work for a week. Then, with a week to prepare and buy a plane ticket (and thank goodness for AirB&B by the way), I had the good fortune to join a good friend on a trip to Italy, where I hiked the hills of El Cinque Terre, and ate bread like nobody’s business. (Chocolate croissant and cappuccino for breakfast daily. I know what you’re thinking: “But you’re gluten-free!” You’re right, I am … In America. In Italy, I ate croissant, pasta, and bread consequence-free. The experience was incredible, and I will never forget the focaccia bread pesto topped pizza in Manarola…).

The best pizza ever.
The best pizza ever.

While away, I heard from my Mother that my Grandma was not faring well, and a friend passed away. By the time I returned home, I spent 24 hours in my city, and while not yet unpacked from my recent trip, grabbed my bag of toiletries and a few clean t-shirts, and headed North with my sister to be with my family for a week through Grandma’s transition. Then home for five days, then North again, to spend more time with family, which was quite wonderful and healing. Another week home, and word of my Grandpa’s passing.

Another visit with family (again, therapeutic), and my weekends have been spent working on building a relationship, trying to get back into running, dwelling in the past, and thinking about the future.

Somehow, I left self-reflection behind and began exclusively focusing outward again.

Every time I find myself yearning to work on the Desire Map workbook, I put it off until later.
But when is “later?”

I know that the practice of reflection and taking time for myself makes me all that much more available to other people who are important in my life. The challenge is actually making time for myself. 

I make time for (some) chores, sleep, and occasionally cooking. And I made the promise to myself to schedule time for painting, dancing, writing, singing, all the artistic endeavors that keep me sane, happy, and feeling fulfilled, and have not yet made these activities a priority in my daily life. Heck, they’re not even priority in my life on a monthly basis.

I have been slowly removing things from my home – creating space.  For some reason, this feels necessary in order to start creating art again. I need a clean slate and the clutter (of things and thoughts) is driving me insane.

Fall cleaning is in full force in this house.

This weekend, the special man and I are headed to the coast – staying in the cabin from my childhood, and I am really looking forward to being away from all the clutter of my daily life to take some time turning inward, and to be present. I am taking my workbook, with the intention of working on those important things again. Time to re-center my focus on the here and now.

How do you get yourself back on-track after de-railing life happenings?
What activities keep you centered, happy and feeling whole?

Have a great, heart-full weekend, my friends.

with love,
Alaina

August’s First Run – Getting Outside With Friends (and a small fix for a Big Oops!)

IMG_0211

I made a mistake! Somehow, while I was still composing my thoughts, I accidentally posted the drafted beginning of a blog entry, and it was seen by people…
and I feel  a little… naked. (Yikes!!!)

Fortunately, blog posts can be moved back to “Draft” (who knew, and Hooray!!!), so you will see a better version of the story you may have started reading and thought, “Hm… This does not seem to have a true ending” because… well, it is not yet finished! I’ll get those thoughts corralled and edited, and out to you all soon. Thank you kindly for your understanding while I remove, edit, and complete that entry.

Today, I want to share with you the run I had the pleasure of going on with my friends (nice and early to beat the heat) on Sunday. We started at a track, quickly made it to a trail for an intensely UPHILL climb, we passed the Zoo, and the beautiful Rose Garden, and made our way back into the city to finish our gorgeous, wooded, challenging, and fun run.

IMG_0208
I remembered to take pictures after we had jog/hiked up the first steep hill.

IMG_0209

We started  in the trees, and headed for the clouds…

IMG_0211
The view crossing the freeway.
Beautiful clouds (creating a sanctuary of cooler air... Ahh...!!!)
Beautiful clouds (creating a sanctuary of cooler air, ahh…!!!) and a view into the city from the Rose Garden.

Toward the end, we may have gotten a little silly.

(It is important to cross the road as a group and stay visible to traffic… We made the process a little more fun).

All in all, this being my first eight mile run experience in over three months, it was great! Although my quads felt like they wanted to remove themselves from my body and take a nap nearing the last half mile after all that up and down, I really, really enjoyed this run.

And spending time with those wonderful women.
(My synchronized running team). 😉

How did you move your body this weekend?
What is the goofiest thing you’ve done during a workout?

As always, wishing you fun on the run!

with Joy,
Alaina

My Adventure

One whole week. On vacation. By myself. 

I rented a beautiful little straw bale house on the edge of a cliff in desert country. I feel so at peace in the house (except last night when something jumped on the deck while I was washing dishes after dark, and scared the bejesus out of me – adrenaline kick kept me awake another hour). Like being in a cave with many windows and a fantastic view. Oh, and a hot tub.

The kitchenette is sufficient for cooking and baking, I brought my Vitamix for smoothies, and basically half of my foodstuffs and spices for food prep so I really can (and do) feel at home. I sank in to enjoy the delicious sound of the whoosh of the rapidly cooling wind in the evening as it moved through the trees and swept down the canyon, the birds chirping, the sound of the nearby hawk rustling its wings in warning, and got in touch with being fully present with myself secluded up on this hill. Away from my dear, lovely city.

Gorgeous view from "my house".
Gorgeous view from “my house”.

I have only one thing to say: Life-changing.

Until last Tuesday, I never took time off to go on an adventure, or do anything on my own. Fear held me back: fear of loneliness, of missing out (oh, that FOMO), of neglecting duties. Fear of lacking things to do, of conversation, and people to engage with on a daily basis. Finally, fear of being alone with myself and my thoughts. And honestly…?

I love the quiet. And being alone.

Until last year, I considered myself an extrovert, and during a class at work, learning about personality types, I learned that I am, in fact, VERY introverted. (No wonder I am always exhausted after a couple of hours out with big groups of people). Over the past twelve months, realizing that I really do need to spend more time alone, I have been working on giving myself permission to say “no” to social engagements.  It has been a difficult exercise in choosing what is best for me, and meeting (my perceived) expectations of friends and family that know me as a very social person.

And that is the key: I do not need to meet what I perceive to be someone else’s expectations.
I am responsible for how I feel and for taking care of myself.

I need only to meet MY OWN expectations and desires. 

I chose this adventure based on the dates of a watercolor workshop. In April, I happened to walk into an art gallery on the last day I spent in Sisters after a 20 mile race event, and not an hour before leaving town, I met a wonderful artist who happened to mention a workshop she would be teaching during the summer.

Boom.
It was fate. I knew I had to attend the workshop.

I created a whole vacation around the three-day painting course. The location is great, the lessons were amazing. I learned that I can, in fact, paint. I learned so many new things that my brain hurt at the end of each day, and I was exhausted.  (I’d forgotten how much learning can zap the energy out of you! More to come about the workshop later).

I am still loving it out here, so much in fact that I wish I could have more days! Nearing the last day of my stay in this wonderful straw-bale home, I realized that it took until today for me to finally relax and feel settled. New lesson to myself – vacations need to be longer than seven days, especially when travel is involved. (And perhaps they could be more frequent!).

Needless to say, I am learning many lessons this week. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone, taking chances on things I want to learn, and spending time reading and reflecting.

So tell me…

How have you stepped out of your comfort zone recently? 
What was your greatest take-away from your last adventure?

As always, sending joy…!
~Alaina

You Only Live Once; The Big Shift

A view of the Steel from this morning's run.

This week, it happened.

I have had a green juice every morning this week.

Going Green!
Going Green!

I followed that juice with a no sugar added chia pudding if still hungry.

Chia pudding, pecans, almond butter, and strawberries
Chia pudding, pecans, almond butter, and strawberries

Each lunch and dinner was made by me, in my kitchen, so I knew exactly what was in each delicious bite.

I slept blissfully well on a new mattress that was delivered on Tuesday. (This is the first NEW mattress I can remember having … in many, many years. Why go for this now? Because I’m worth it. And sleep is SUPER important).

My body is sore from re-entering the world of yoga, and I am feeling more light and happy from running more consistently.

A view of the Steel from this morning's run.
A view of the Steel Bridge from this morning’s run.

I have made an ENORMOUS shift.

The past two and a half months have been a time of … introspection. Without the ability to get out and run and walk around my neighborhood (putting in miles just for the sake of wandering), I was consequently being rather sedentary and feeling the effects of food more acutely, as well as (to be perfectly honest) seeing them on my form.

And then it hit me.

While I know I have the power to make the choices that are best for Me, I was still ignoring all of the self-awareness and knowledge I have gained in the past year. 

Somehow, I felt that because I could not follow my regular work-out routine, I could let my usual “how I eat well” go by the wayside, as well. Sure, I knew when I was eating that gluten-free ice cream sandwich that I would experience physical consequences later that day… or the next… And yet… Acknowledging when your choices are bad does not make you feel better. 

Some may argue: But you only live once!

And I have to say, I agree. Wholeheartedly. 

We only have ONE life to live. ONE body to nourish and move with in this life.  ONE Chance to make a difference in the world in which we live.

SO I ask you one question:

Why the heck is “YOLO” a Reason, a Rationality (a JUSTIFICATION!!!) to do things that will CAUSE HARM to our one and ONLY vessel allowing us to be here on Earth?

Granted, eating Ice Cream is certainly not the end of the world, but for me, sugar is a known adversary, and after the amount of reading I have done about substances that your body does not digest well, learning that they can get into the blood stream, and quite literally beat up your veins on the inside, WHY do I still choose to eat the things that cause me unfathomable damage?

So I started this week with a new intention: “You Only Live ONCE”.

I am feeding myself with vegetables and fruits that will help sustain and heal my body rather than simple sugars that can beat me down. I want to be (and feel) my Best, as much of each day as is possible. This week has been remarkable emotionally and physically, and I want that good feeling to continue. What does that mean for me?

I am giving up processed sugars. 

I am happy to say that although I have not been 100% this week (more like 90% – the evening dessert craving has bewitched me a time or two, and even the dairy-free ice cream was not consequence-free), I know I make this change pretty easily (must do more baking with fruit). Of course, there are always times to make an exception: for example, Grandma’s house for the Holiday dinner because you don’t want to offend family. For my own cooking,  there will be no sugar added. Last night I successfully baked an apple crisp without any added sugar (just banana for the crumble!).  Such a wonderful discovery (and triumph!).

I am giving up alcohol.

I know. This one is tough for most people to understand. I admit, I enjoy a nice cool drink from time to time on a hot summer’s day, but to give you a little perspective: I purchased a few bottles of alcohol – a couple of years ago (um… more like 4 years) and they still remain unopened in my cabinet. Whenever I buy a bottle of wine, I’ll open it for a glass and forget it is in my refrigerator. Plus, there’s the fact that I cannot get myself out of bed in the morning to run after having just ONE drink. (That is probably the most important part). I am perfectly happy having a glass of soda water with lime, or a hot latte. Friends, please do not be upset with me for not joining in the consumption of alcohol, this is for my health (and sanity – running is super important to my emotional state. Also, I have some bottles of liquor to give away…).

Both of these things mean consuming MUCH MORE whole foods, less abrasive vein-invaders, and overall, feeling …

Pretty much like a million bucks.
(And who doesn’t want to feel good?)

Now I put the question to you: what does “You only live once” mean in your life?
Is it an excuse to try whatever you want because you’re young and your body can “take it”?
Is it your motivation to keep working toward that PR?
Or is it just a silly phrase the kids are using these days?

I always love hearing how you’re working through your own personal battles, so leave a comment and help to start a conversation below.

Thanks for reading, and have a happy, healthy, fun and free weekend!

with Joy,
~Alaina

I Have A Confession…

Simply Splendid

Almost a month ago, I set out to start on a journey to cleanse my body using a cleanse program of shakes and liquid (almost fasting) days. Something I was extremely hesitant to do, and I chose to work with a company I do not know very well. In fact, I currently have a business that offers a 30 day cleanse, and I went with something else. Why? I think I needed to try something unknown because then no one else I now really knew about it or could judge me for what I was doing. Because, holy moly.

I was seriously judging myself.

I am all about natural food, eating whole foods, cooking without sugar, and making what you eat count and work for you. And this was, well, nearly the opposite. In all honesty, I was very excited about this program. The nutrient and mineral content is so high, the products are such good quality, and I have a couple of friends who have had amazing results – I was super jazzed. Perfect thing to do while I’m not on my regular running routine, right?

But then something happened.

I had an allergic reaction, and after reading through all of the ingredients at least three times each, looking things up, asking an expert, and trying to stick with it – on day three of shakes and allergic reaction I called it quits. I needed to stop putting this into my body. I have been pondering why this happened for nearly a month, and I do not doubt that there was something in one of the items I was using that I was allergic to (I have plenty of food sensitivities). My body rejected the cleanse.

Although, at this point in time, I wonder … Did I create the reaction subconsciously?

I have never been one to “diet”.  I will certainly change the way I eat (usually at the advice of a physical trainer or doctor) to avoid certain foods and achieve better health.  But never stopping eating real foods.

I was pursuing an option to health that I did not find right for me.

And after this experience… I been floating through each day.  Eating normally.  Still not running.  And now I feel the most out of shape that I have been in … years. I’ve gained a few pounds (none of it muscle), and clothes that were too big on me before fit – and fit well. I am kind of astonished at what I am learning about myself in this state – I feel different, and being out of shape bothers me, but…

I feel so feminine and (dare I say) sexy! Part of me revels in the way my body moves right now. It’s crazy to think that just a few notches up the scale can make such a difference in the body’s form and rhythm.

The rest of me is ready to move my body, go to yoga and build some strength, and get back outside and run! My doctor said six weeks, and this coming Monday will mark those days completed. I have prepared myself – new shoes, real yoga clothes (I have never had yoga pants, until now. I am very excited about these beautifully printed – made in the USA from recycled water bottles – teeki pants!) – for the first time in my life I have enough work out clothes to make it through a week without doing laundry (or re-wearing an outfit… or two).

The past month and a half has gone by extremely quickly. I have had a very busy social schedule, eating out more often than not, and I am ready to spend more time at home cooking. Using real food to nourish my body back into fitness. Blending veggies to have a “smoothie” (I love my Costco special Vitamix!). Making protein shakes using kefir and spinach, turmeric and cinnamon.  Eating much like I did when I was off sugar, but keeping some fruit and sweeter veggies in the mix.

I’m ready to get my body back in shape, and yet, also strongly desire to maintain this feeling of femininity I have recently acquired. (Fortunately, I’m fairly certain this is a state of mind rather than a state of be-hind… And I can work with that). 😉

Tonight I splurged on a dessert out at a local favorite: Papa Haydn. I used to go here with family for birthday celebrations. At the table with the art of walking (by dear friend and beautiful artist: Kari Gale), a latte, seated at the sidewalk to enjoy the people-watching of NW 23rd’s patrons and this amazing dulce:

Simply Splendid
Simply Splendid the “Autumn Meringue” – and incredibly sweet.  I can no longer finish one of these desserts, as I did in previous years. Apparently tastes can change (and might I add, I think this is for the better). As expected, eating this made my pulse race (the sugar rush), gave me enough of a high to stay up too late, and I still feel full from consuming this confection.  Eating refined sugar clearly comes with a cost these days.

Kari’s book was just what I needed to remind myself to move forward doing the things that inspire me, and pay attention to my intuitive side with what really does feel right and good in my life.

the art of walking
the art of walking – I am very interested in learning more about El Camino de Santiago (have any of you taken this journey?)

Speaking of journeys, I am very excited about the one I am taking this summer. I will be taking my first-ever solo vacation.  I am enrolled in a watercolor workshop out-of-town, and staying in a quiet place where I can rest, paint, write, cook, and nap at my leisure. Although a much shorter journey than the Camino Kari explored, somehow, this experience feels like it will be life-changing. Eye-opening.

Soul-freeing.

And I am so ready for this change.

So tell me friends:

What parts of your self have you been avoiding exploring (your artistic side, desire to venture out in the woods, relaxing in a hammock)?
Where will your journey take you next?

Thank you so much for spending time with me, on my ongoing journey as a runner, dancer, cook, and artist.

with joy,
~Alaina