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

Day 11: Challenges in Daily Writing and Thoughts on Fear

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Not two weeks into NaBloPoMo, my drive to write is waning.  Last night, exhausted after a long weekend of catch-up after a week of travel out of the country, I decided sleep was more important than posting.  I had actually started a post, and neglected finishing my thoughts.

… and I’ve been thinking about this with a little regret all day long.

I chose to join NaBloPoMo, and commit to writing everyday on my blog for a simple 30 days, and I didn’t take the time to sit for ten minutes and get some words on ‘paper’?  I admit, I was disappointed in myself for not keeping the schedule.

Throughout my life, I have eagerly committed to projects, groups, activities, and often found myself … slacking, letting go, giving up half-way through these projects due to lack of interest, frustration, or… fear.  Fear of doing something wrong, making something look bad, or worse, becoming visible to the rest of the world and possibly being rejected. 

I admit, this is going a little deeper than a miss on a blog post, but hear me out.  I am literally dying inside to paint.  The urge and need and desire to use water and a brush to make something beautiful on paper is slowly tightening its choke hold around my neck, and I fear if I do not soon grab a brush and just go for it my larynx will be crushed and I will suffocate.  But the cold, heart-stopping, hand-stilling fear keeps me from even trying to paint.

It is an irrational fear.  Excepting me, no one will see these paintings, at least for now.  There is absolutely noting to be afraid of but fear itself.  The feeling is difficult to work through, and understandably keeps many of us from really trying to dance, sing, go for that dream job, or simply paint.

The thing we must learn is that by waiting, postponing, not doing these activities that we desire (that very likely will bring us great joy – or a great lesson), we put off learning more about our own nature, and allowing ourselves to fully embrace who we are in this moment, denying ourselves happiness.

To be perfectly honest, I have no fear about sharing my thoughts with you, the reader of alwayslovinglife.com, and I am happy to be able to say what I need to, for my own growth as an individual and a writer.  Blogging is not scary for me.  Here I am, putting myself out for the world to read and judge (if they can find me), and this does not give me cause for pause at all.  But sitting down with a brush and a pad of paper alone can almost cause my teeth to chatter in cold, hard fear.

I think that these feelings can be a good compass.  When we feel irrationally fearful of something that we desire, it shows us the degree to which it matters to our heart, the level to which we will feel rejected if our art/song/words/thoughts/choreographed dance are not accepted by others.

So, on this day, Monday the eleventh of November, 2013, I vow to paint before the end of the month.  I also vow to complete a blog post each day this month because these things matter to me, can cause a little fearfulness, and in their doing, hopefully, will always bring great joy.

What has your fear kept you from accomplishing?

with joy,
~Alaina