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

Family of Runners

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The more I run,I learn that running is not just something that I do, it is a part of who I am.  There is a freedom and a joy that comes from running that I find satisfies in a way that no other activity or endeavor can match. When I get outside, head high, feet light and quick, smile blazing on my face, I know I am free. I am on my path and no one can move me. I am a runner. I can do anything I decide to do.

As I sat in my post-12 mile trail run Epsom Salt bath Sunday afternoon, reading the end of Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, the story brought bubbles of joyful giggles and tears to my eyes.  I thought, this is what running is about.  It’s not about the competition, or your next PR, or beating this person or that, it’s about community, cheering one another on, and the camaraderie at the heart of every runner.  We are in this together, and we are invincible when we embrace the joy of running, and move forward on the course with our teammates.

Last Sunday I had the great pleasure of running with my Grampa.  My scheduled run was to be 15 miles, and Grampa was planning about ten, so my plan was to do five prior to meeting up.  As it turns out, I ran two prior to meeting Grampa at the trailhead to tackle ten miles on Wildwood, which later turned into 12 miles on the trail, my morning run netting a neat 14 miles.  I decided to allow myself a break in mileage due to increased difficulty of terrain.  I have never run more than a 10K on trails.  It was beautiful out, but my goodness.  I knew I would experience some soreness after that run!

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We ran uphill toward Pittock Mansion, and while taking in the city view, Grampa pointed to the next hill over and let me know we were running over there, up past the zoo.  It was a fabulously cool day.

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The trails were stunning.  Lush, vibrant greens surrounded us on the hard-packed dirt trails.  The trails were dirt, gravel, and filled with random tree root or rock protrusions, which kept my eyes trained on the ground before me, and somehow my eye was still pulled to take pictures of the gorgeous surroundings.

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We had so much fun running up and down those trails; I learned the route and where to pop off the trail for water stops, and we talked about life and adventures.

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When we arrived at the Pittock Mansion for the second round, we found a garden party out of the past overlooking the city…  The attending parties were stunningly attired, and I couldn’t resist a portrait of this couple, which they graciously allowed me to photograph.

On the way back down, the sun had finally broken through the clouds, and the light all around was like liquid gold filtering through the trees.  By this time, it was nearing noon, and the trails were filled with people out for a jog, walk, hike, with strollers, dogs and walking sticks, everyone was on the trail in the forest enjoying the outdoors.

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I am so grateful to have the opportunity to run with my Grampa.   I feel very lucky to get to go on this marathon journey with my family, training with my friends, being a part of the greater running community.  It is awesome!

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Me and Grampa

Keep your head up, a smile on, say hello to your fellow running-mates, and enjoy the run!
~Alaina