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

An Explanation of the Long Absence: New Directions

Beautiful sunset on Cape Kiwanda.
Beautiful sunset at Cape Kiwanda.

Some of you may be wondering why I haven’t posted for a while, and I am here today to share with you.

Before I flew South to run the Siskiyou Outback 50k, I received an email from my favorite yoga studio.  They announced their next Teacher Training event would be starting in September… and I decided to reach out to these lovely people (because I did not meet all of the specified requirements) to ask if I would be able to be considered for the program.  Fortunately, based on my commitment to running, and the athleticism therefore gained, they enthusiastically said yes!  I gleefully paid the deposit to hold my spot in the class and went about my summer of the big run and the many, many weddings.

After I returned from Ashland and the Siskiyou mountains, I started attending weekly social events; I attended four weddings and a funeral this August (one wedding was in September), kind of ironic.  Each event was lovely, and time flew by!  Before I knew it, weeks had passed without a blog post, and I was starting yoga teacher training!

I have now completed my first week of training.  And Oh.My.Goodness.  I am simply exhausted!  When you decide to go through teacher training, yes my fellow yogi – you, I highly recommend that you fully mentally prepare yourself for not having much of a social life.  20 hours of class and study and then some on top of a 40+ hour work week is a lot.  Not to mention the fact that I also have hired a coach to help me figure out my next steps in life, which is a lot more personal research, growth, and homework of activities and planning.

Sometimes I find myself wondering: “Why am I doing all of this now?”

Each time, my answer remains the same – there have been some major catalysts for change in my life over the last two years, and finally I made the decision to jump in head first – dive in to all the things I have wanted and neglected.  My patience had run out, and it was time to just go for it.

I cannot remember when I decided I wanted to go through yoga teacher training.  My first ever class was a PE credit in college.  And I loved it! That class was such a stress reliever.  I felt amazing after yoga (and SOOOO relaxed!).  I remember getting breakfast and then taking a nap before my next class.  Ah… those were the days… But there is something about yoga that has always had a strange and wonderful pull on my heart.  I feel lighter, happier, and more … complete, at peace, and open to be in a joyful state.  I am always prepared after a yoga class to get out and interact with other human beings, as I know that my mind is in a much better state to receive and impart information.  Here I am, finally taking initiative in my own life to achieve what my heart has desired for so long!  Wow!

I am following my heart’s desire!!!

For the first time in my life, I am making choices to move toward purposeful living.  Currently, I am on a cleansing diet – no sugar, caffeine, gluten-filled grains – and this, too makes each day challenging. I spent the late evening hours Friday baking, and Saturday morning I was cooking up a storm making future dinner or lunch dishes.  I am learning to cook and eat in a very different manner, and although this diet is recommended for 14 days, I think I am on my way to a significant change in the way I eat post-cleanse.  I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who eats odd, healthy foods, and now here I am, due to current ailments and a doctor’s recommendation, learning how to be who I have admired for so long.  (More dreams into reality).

What I have learned over the first week of yoga classes is that I need a lot more alone time while I am working and learning.  I can feel my body getting stronger already, and my mind is processing so much information, surely growing as well, and just needs more rest.

On that note, please forgive me if I am not posting about running as much, as you may see the content of this page change a little to discuss yoga and the personal transformative process that comes out of this training.  I have so much to learn in the next ten weeks, and it is hard to believe I it is possible to learn all that is needed in this short time, let alone the fact that my final exam is teaching a full 60 minute class!

I saw this on my way to the first day of yoga training.  The Universe leaves us messages in the funniest places.  :)
I saw this on my way to the first day of yoga training. The Universe leaves us messages in the funniest places.

Until next week, happy running everyone, and if you get a chance pop into a yoga class (especially Yin!).  It is so great to stretch those tight muscles!

with love, light, and delight!
~Alaina

Uncertainty: The Long Road to Joy

jungle
photo credit: Cheri Lucas Rowlands/The Daily Post

I was uncertain, but kept going. 

Never have I been sure of where “my place” is in society.  What my job will be.  Who I may meet.  What kind of affect my presence in this world will have on other human beings. If any.  On animals.  On plants.

I was uncertain, and put one foot in front of the other…

College changed my thoughts of my desires measurably.  From science to art, I found myself conflicted yet full of conviction.  What did I want?  Did it matter?  I needed simply to finish.

Through uncertainty, I made choices.

Graduation came, and my only desire was to live on my own in the city I knew, yet was unacquainted with the reality of city-life.  I moved with a light heart and an open mind.  I chose to go left, rather than right.  Chose to eat cheesy pasta.  To dance until the wee hours of dawn when even the city sleeps.  To nap on my lunch break.  To see the good in every man.  To not have a car.  Someday, I would find my calling.  For now, I had my city.

Through uncertainty, I searched for things to feel better.

Finally finding a career, I settled into routine.  Over time, realizing a feeling that I has set upon an aimless path.  A growing sense of panic within my chest.  I chose to move.  Find a better home.  Go for a promotion.  Get a new computer.

Feeling lost, I searched for clarity.

I sought mentors.  Joined groups.  I sang, chanted, did deep, personal work.  Hired a coach.  I found myself writing.  Finally followed my heart and started a blog.  I yearned for connection.

Now, seeking myself, the path is clearing.

I spend less time with social media.  I shop less.  I practice yoga.  Cook delicious, colorful, healthy meals for myself.  I practice gratitude.  I am happier, lighter, and finally feel a connection.

To me. 

Seeking that which is outside for comfort and happiness, only draws us further from our true selves.
When we look within, we come to know happiness.

I continue on, uncertain of my direction, and finally sure of myself.

May each of you find your heart this day, and share a little more joy with yourself and with all those you touch. 

with love and light,
~Alaina

(Inspired by The Daily Post Writing Prompt – Build your own)

Reflection: (a.k.a. Personal Learnings From the Day-Job’s Annual Review Process)

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That time of year has come once again, the self-review stage at my place of work, and I have been agonizing about filling out my form for two weeks.  Tonight, I finally buckled down to complete my side of the process, and while filling out information for each category I felt blocked, uncertain, and like a certain amount of information needed to be provided (and uncertain I was meeting those expectations), when finally, with a sigh of relief, I reached the bottom.

At the end of this form, there was a space for “Employee Overall Comments”.  The first thought that occurred to me was that it was not necessary for me to fill anything in that box, I had clearly spent the last three hours thinking and writing a sufficient amount about my experiences, work ethic, and examples.  But then I felt compelled to write.  So I started, and thirty minutes after submitting that form, I cannot tell you exactly what I wrote.  But I can tell you this: the words that sprung from my thoughts to my fingers and into the world were strong, confident, and filled with emotion.

Filled with gratitude.  

I am so grateful to be working in an environment where I am able to use my knowledge, express my opinions, and be so appreciated.  I want to say thank you to all my co-workers; I do not have the words to express the great impact you have had on me over the years.  I value every moment working with each and every one of you, and thank you for all you have taught me, and for the encouragement you show me every day.

I knew I liked my job, but until this moment, I did not realize the full scale of how much I really enjoy going to work every dayEven amidst all the chaos, change, and uncertainty.  I know that I will be challenged, respected, and get to do good work.  I am So Grateful!

Have you been surprised by the joys you find in your work?
Is there something you have suddenly and unexpectedly learned about yourself?

with joy and gratitude,
~Alaina

Weathering Storms

IMG_9894

As we near the end of the Mayan calendar, and amidst the many recent tragedies, the arrival of the holiday season, and the eve of the New Year, I find myself reflecting upon the events of this last year, and realize that I have struggled and conquered many different challenges in a very short time.  Sunday night, the wind was howling outside. The storm was unlike any that I had seen pass through Portland for at least a few years, and I almost expected my windows to collapse inward from the pressure, as I could have easily folded under many of the great forces that blew across my path this year.

Yet I knew the windows would hold.  They leaked and allowed a bursts of air through the cracks in the aged caulking, but they are strong and built to withstand the gusts and downpours testing their stability.

I, too, remain standing after the wind has past, the dust settled, and life has moved forward.  This year, I have learned to stand up for myself and ask for what I want and need. I finally realized my worth in the workplace. I gained confidence in my abilities. I lost loved ones. I turned thirty. I am beginning to understand how much of my being is devoted to being creative, and accepting the responsibility to create; working with my hands brings me happiness – it’s time to stop procrastinating. I finally took my last steps toward independence and pursued driving lessons, passed my driver’s test last week, and I am now a licensed driver.  I moved three times, finally settling into my favorite building downtown.  I set up a workspace, so I have room to be creative. I learned and performed a choreographed dance routine with a group of dancers for the first time in my adult life.  I am learning about the logistics of starting a small business.  I started running with purpose, again. I am reconnecting with great friends with whom I had lost touch. And I cannot believe all of this and more happened in the space of twelve short months.

Yet after all this growth and change, I find myself in a place of discontent.  I am progressing, but not yet satisfied and happy with this level of personal growth.  I find questions such as: “How do I know what drives me?” “What brings me joy?” “What are my next steps?” circling in my head for hours.  I still feel a great sense of… something missing, a gnawing need for a great shift in my life, a sense that there is something bigger I am supposed to be doing, and I do not know which direction to walk because I do not know what I need to pursue. I feel like I am standing at the edge of some great discovery, looking out over a great, wide canyon, but I am unsure whether to jump from the edge or traverse across the great divide on a more methodical route, with ropes and carabiners to prevent my fall.

And every time these thoughts and questions return, I come back here, to write and allow the process to guide me.

Perhaps through writing, drawing, and baking – creating – I will find the answers I seek revealed in the outputs of these endeavors.