I Have A Confession…

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

My Relationship With Food – A Journey

Food.  Something we contemplate, curate, and consume every day.

Well, perhaps some of us contemplate.  Most of us just consume.  And I have been an unconscious consumer for about thirty years, yet about seven years ago when I decided to get in shape (by working out at the gym) I coincidentally learned something about eating – a way of eating that reduced inflammation and water retention.  My trainer offered me a food plan suggestion, and I followed it to a T. For three whole months.

Then life happened.

I had to travel for work.  I got off schedule.  I was following someone else’s meal schedule (on someone else’s budget), and could no longer eat small meals every two and a half to three hours.

And my gut was not happy with me for choosing to eat differently.

Eating “normally,” most would say. I was eating out at restaurants.  With the sauce. And the fried stuff. And drinks. And dessert. And… Oh, man.  Why do work trips turn into over eating and drinking every night?

Eventually, after returning home, getting back into eating my small meals, mostly sticking to the plan, I self-diagnosed myself with a wheat intolerance problem.  I was bloated, had intestinal pain, and generally not well when I ate wheat (something I avoided on the suggested meal plan, unless it was whole-grain sprouted and only first thing in the morning).  So, I decided to eliminate it from my diet.

This was right around the time that gluten became a thing people were intolerant to, and celiac disease coming into the open. When I learned of these things, I got a little worried and had a blood test done. My first score (I had the test done twice) was 303 on a scale of 0 to 310.

My doctor told me I was fine. 

I ran through the external factors (and facts) in my mind:
1. I had not been eating wheat for months.
2. These scores are determined by the number of antibodies in your blood stream.
3. No wheat had been introduced into my body for months to irritate my system and get my immune system all up in arms.
4. My score was nearly at the top of the chart.

There was no way in He** I was fine. 

A year later, after avoiding wheat as much as possible (although, I would test myself every once in a while), I asked for another test.  Negative again.

Then one day at a market, I met a gluten-free Celiac-diagnosed baker who told me: “You probably need just one more test – those tests have a 75% false negative rate”.

75%??? Why even give a test if you know there’s a 3 out of 4 chance you’re going to get a negative result and it is probably wrong?!?!

At this point, I gained resolve. I decided that I needed to be a “Gluten-Free” person. And this choice has served me well.  I am still not 100% strict, but as time passes, I am growing more certain that I will be soon.  Between my own research, and conversations with others dealing with similar digestive issues has taught me there is only one way to get real results on any of the Celiac tests:
You must eat wheat and gluten for three weeks before taking the test.

Which means, if you DO have Celiac disease, you are quite possibly, literally causing yourself more harm to find out 100% if you can give your problem a name: Celiac.

I have decided that is not for me. A self-diagnosis is enough.
(Although, I have to admit, it would be nice to know for sure what I was up against if this really is a thing I have.  Some interior struggle is going on.  My advice: If you suspect you have wheat/gluten intolerance, do not stop eating these items until you can have the test done.  I no longer want to feel the symptoms to find out. Catch 22. Check out WebMD, or even Celiac.org for more resources on this topic).

And then last year… At my annual check-up, I was filling my doctor in on some of the issues I had been having with digestion (ahem… gas) and allergic reactions to food, and she said: “I think you may have leaky gut syndrome“.

Um… What??? Am I DYING?!?
(Seriously – this name makes this ‘condition’ sound worse than Celiac Disease!!! Please know that I am in no way belittling the giant challenge that Celiac is for those who have the condition. It is a monster to tame, and a battle to eat clean Every Single Day).

So I learned that a whopping 70% of the American population has Leaky Gut and that it is caused by a build-up of yeast in the intestines that blocks nutrient absorption, allows food particles to get through the intestine and into the bloodstream, and then your body attacks the food like an invading pathogen. (Yep – check out WebMD again, if you like).

So, besides some flatulence and bloating (by yeast-produced gas), you actually can develop more sensitivities to foods as your body starts recognizing these as invaders.

I wanted to stop this. Now.

I took the suggested items to avoid list, along with the suggested items to ingest, looked up the referenced website The Candida Diet, immediately got on Amazon and ordered The Candida Free Cookbook, purchased green powdered probiotic, and two weeks later, after mentally preparing (and stocking my cupboard and refrigerator), I committed to following the guide and eliminated ALL sugar from my diet. (Because the sugar feeds the yeast, so it must go).

Yes, ALL sugar. Including fruit. For three whole weeks.

Admittedly, the first couple days were… interesting.  I was having fun cooking (it was easier, really – a restricted shopping list). The second day without sugar, I went out for a run, and found I could not get myself to run more than a block before I would need to walk. After three-quarters of a mile, I wanted to lay down on the pavement at the waterfront and take a nap. The feeling of all this was entirely ridiculous to me, I had no idea what was wrong with me.

(Fast forward to three weeks later when I belatedly read the introduction of the book, referenced the website again, and learned that when the yeast in your body die, they release toxins, and your body has to process and eliminate these. I went cold-turkey off sugar, and experienced these symptoms pretty dramatically. Most instructional books advise easing off of sugar, slowly taking it out of your diet – which I apparently skipped over, and dove in head-first. In hind-sight, it may be more sustainable to slowly reduce the sugar intake, and then eliminate it from your diet. Just a little tip from me to you).

Five days in, I felt amazing.  I was more awake, alert, my body felt good – stronger (I was also in Yoga Teacher Training – this definitely contributed to strength). Within a week my tummy started deflating.  No more bloat. By the end of week three, I was afraid to touch any sugar ever again.  I knew how great I felt (and might i add – looked?) without it, and was terrified to eat an apple.

Fast forward to today, and here is my dinner:

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Now you may look at this and wonder at if this is good or bad.  It’s a vegan dish, all healthy, colorful vegetables. But let me tell you, there are only three things in this picture allowed in the Candida free diet: tomatoes, onions, and garlic.  The squash, carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes are high in sugar.  Also very high in fantastic nutrients, but … very high in sugar. And I can feel it in my belly again.  The bloat.  The unhappy intestinal cries of “what are you feeding me?” 

I have a confession: I have a problem. My body does not process sugar well. And I continue to hurt myself by continuing to eat foods that are high in sugar.

For years, I have been one of the “healthy eaters”.  No, I don’t mean I eat a lot of food.  I mean, I eat what other people perceive to be healthy foods.  A lot of whole fruits. Some vegetables. Baked sweet potatoes! Unsweetened, whole-fat yogurt and granola. Dried fruit. Nuts. And more fruit. (And sometimes ice cream).

Yes, compared to the usual diet you see your average friend (without food sensitivities) eating, I am eating very healthy foods. But that is where it stops.

It is incredibly easy to eat gluten-free in my home town.  There are at least five dedicated bakeries, and almost every restaurant you may choose to dine at has some option for the gluten-sensitive crowd. Unfortunately, most gluten-free bread substitutes are made with simple carb flours and starches (rice, tapioca, corn starch) which quickly convert to sugars (and later fats) in the body.

So I have to make my own protein and fiber rich bread. Like the one below …
with raisins. 

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Interestingly enough, I listened to a web interview on the Hay House World Summit with Joan Borysenko, Ph.D and she described that as a populous, we are split 50/50.  Half of us can process carbs very well, and the other half can process fats.  Well, I know which team I’m on, so what am I going to do? 

Today, I find myself at a turning point.  A crossroads.

I am at a place where I am no longer willing to sacrifice my wellbeing for something that might taste good.

Self-care is not just exercising 30 minutes a day, taking a bath, making time to read a book, or getting your Vitamin D. For me, I have learned it quite literally starts with food.

How we nourish our bodies affects every single thing we do on this Earth. 

Without proper nourishment, our mind is less able, we contract disease more easily, and our bodies eventually fail us (sooner than later).

I have been fortunate enough to be given the option to choose what I feed myself. Organic, Non- GMO, Vegan, Gluten-Free all readily at my disposal, and I seek items with these particular labels often.

Now, I am about to embark on a different kind of journey.

Against my nature (of eating food straight from nature) I have committed to a 30 day cleanse. Going through each day with a shake substitute for two meals, and one healthy whole food meal. There will also be two 2-day cleanses – where I will only consume liquids and small snacks to give my digestive system a break.

It’s funny, I felt really shy about telling my sister that I have chosen to try this cleanse  (many would think of this as a diet – currently, I still see it as a dietary experiment). As an afterthought, this is exactly the kind of thing I would (and do) choose to do.  I’m conducting an experiment with my body to see how it reacts to different kinds of inputs – once again.

Why now? Since I cannot run (the broken toe), and honestly I’m feeling slightly detached from my body of late (yes, I have been eating all the foods – except gluten), I felt this was a great time to try something … different. I won’t be worried as much about my eating schedule and amount of protein consumption because I am not on my regular (running) training schedule. Additionally, this specific program is very high in protein, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients which alleviates some worry that I would not be giving my body what it needs.  Since I have never tried a cleanse before, now seems like the perfect time. Besides…

You wouldn’t go 30 years without giving your car a tune-up, right?  

Time to give this body’s digestive tract a rest.  And you can bet you will be getting a play-by-play. If this program is as effective as it claims, this very well may be life-changing.

Please share with me, my athlete and health-food conscious friends:

Have you ever done a cleanse?
Did you enjoy your results?
Were you able to keep working out while you cleansed?

Thanks so much for being here with me on this journey,
~Alaina

I Went Out Dancing! Now it’s Time to Take A Break. Um… Literally.

Yes! I went dancing!

Last weekend, for the first time in months – No, years – I got myself a ticket to a three-day dance event.  And I went out. Every.Single.Night.

It was delicious.

I had such a great time (once I got over the “I don’t know a soul here” shock).  I reconnected with friends from six years ago (when I was avidly involved in the dance scene), met some new friends, had many wonderful dances with great leads, and really got into spinning around the hardwood floor again. Simply divine.

I need new dance shoes.

The only pair I have are a pair I purchased when I went to a West Coast Swing event in Reno – I think I was in college, then. (a.k.a. It’s been a while – they’re old shoes now). So all weekend I was wearing these little lyrical sandals I got… also many years ago, in college. I think they were purchased for a Ballet class.

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Love these things – they have served me well for… Well, we’ll just say for a few years. 😉 (Photo credit: http://www.dancewearsolutions.com)

I was basically dancing barefoot, which is what many people who enjoy this type of dance do.  You’re low to the ground, you can move around easily, lets you get that rhythm in your knees… It’s a lovely way to feel connected.

Sunday night, I was so proud of myself.

I made it out to dances three nights in a row! I even stayed out till nearly three a.m. on Friday and Saturday (I was not able to meet my girlfriends for the Saturday run due to needing sleep.  Apparently staying out till 3 a.m. sets me back in a way that it did not used to in my mid-twenties.  And I can no longer sleep in until some ungodly late – morning hour due to repetition of awakening before six.  8:30 a.m. was not the “Sleep in” I was hoping for on Saturday).

Sunday I made a promise to myself. I would head home at midnight because I needed to be at work the next morning. At sometime around 11:30 p.m. I saw an old friend showed up unexpectedly, and at around 12:15 a.m. I got to dance with him. I love dancing with this man – he spins me quickly like a Westie (we met doing West Coast Swing many moons ago), makes eye contact, always keeps me from running into other couples, and I just feel like a good dancer when we’re on the floor together.

Toward the middle of that song, I noticed we were on the side of the room that had a bump in the floor – you know, where the slats of hardwood have popped up on one side and there’s a little lip?  Yeah, that one.  And I could feel my sandal catching on it every once in a while.  A bit of a nuisance, no real trouble… until… My toe caught on the little annoying lip.

I felt a little bit of a pop, which I thought was my toe merely ricocheting back toward the place in the middle of my foot where it belonged, and a minor bit of pain, but I ignored it and kept dancing (stay on the ball of the foot, keep the toes lifted to prevent that from happening again).  Thanked him at the end of the song, and went to sit for a minute.  I allowed myself one more dance then decided to head home (at around 12:25am – 25 minutes after my own imposed curfew).

When I got home, I notice some bruising on my toe.  And it was pretty painful. And I knew.  Despite the fact that it wasn’t really swelling. Despite the fact that it wasn’t pointing in a weird direction.

My toe was broken. IS broken. Yep –

Found some sticky tape from a first aid kit I have had since 2000.  Finally came in handy.
Found some sticky tape from a first aid kit I have had since 2000. Finally came in handy. (I am hiding the purple – I do not want to gross anyone out).

Time to take a break. 

I finally made it to the doctor today after one day of denial, and a second of no availability and she confirmed it for me. Fracture.

Which means… no running (or dancing) for 4-6 weeks. Or (gulp!) longer if pain persists.

I am not sure how to navigate this obstacle. I’m pretty sure this also eliminates any aerobics classes, yoga involving being on the toes, and excessive walking.

Serious lifestyle change.

So, I guess I have to … go to a gym.  And… ride a bike?  Use the rowing machine? Lift weights???

I haven’t done any of that in years. I guess it’s time to give those old friends a visit.

… Want to know the funny thing?

The fact is, I had been planning to increase my mileage and days/week running starting, oh… Now. And after my experience dancing last weekend, I was all ready to get back out to do some swing or blues every other week or so.

Yet, truthfully?  I have a seriously strong desire to create some kind of consistency in my life, start a daily spiritual practice (of some kind – still working out the kinks) each morning, and although I really want to incorporate running into this routine, I have been unable to get up at the same time each morning with any regularity, and maintain this practice. While on this train of thought, a lightbulb went off:

I manifested a broken toe.

So now, taking a break due to my blessed broken toe of fate, I will be working more on me – spiritually rather than physically.  This will be a … difficult change, but one I am finally ready to take on (and I kind of have no choice). Certainly this is a great opportunity to dive right in: why not take advantage whilst injured (before I’m all healed and back at it ignoring my wise inner voice).

Now where to start…?

My question for you, my dear runner/athlete friends, what is your favorite non-running (not a lot of foot movement) workout to do when injured?  (I’m entering new territory here, and I’ll take any advice you’ve got!)

Thanks so much and have a great time out there for me!  I’ll be thinking of y’all gliding through the air in the great outdoors… Happy running! And send photos!
~Alaina

P.S. Here’s a little silly for you from back in the day when I danced in a competition (this was for the first time ever – please be kind): Come Rain, Come Shine WCS Finals 3/9

Early Mornings – Catching the Sunrise

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The past month, finally (nearly) finished with the painting that needs to happen in my home (yes, there will be a before and after post), I have been able to muster the energy to get out and run before work. (Less late nights with a paintbrush in hand). My-oh-my the glory of moving.

And not a moment too soon!

There is only about a week and a half of running days left until the Peterson Ridge Rumble, and three of my friends and I will be tackling the 20 mile distance.  After running 19 miles on Sunday, I have no doubt we will all finish.  It is likely to be a gorgeous race day.

I have been putting so much effort into my home (yes – an apartment) that I have been neglecting not only my daily moving meditation (running), but also my written outlet – as well as providing fabulous city pictures to all of you (I am not trying to bribe you into moving to Portland, but seriously.  It’s pretty great here).

Here are a few from my most recent running adventures:

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Stillness in the early hours of dawn on the Waterfront.

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Glassy river reflections of clouded skies…

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The view from a run up Terwilleger some weeks ago…

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The only clear shot I got on my birthday morning, 10 mile run. Mt Hood in the distance!

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The white-out fog, enveloping the city on my way home from the 10 mile run.

Beautiful sun rays peeking through the trees on this Sunday's 19 mile training run.  (This is about two miles before I did a Superman due to unknown tree root or rock).
Golden sun rays peeking through the trees on this Sunday’s 19 mile training run. (This is about two miles before I did a Superman due to unknown tree root or rock).

I am looking forward to adding a couple of races between now and Fall.  I think I will sign up for the Portland Marathon this year for the first time, so October is filled.

Any suggestions for Spring and Summer NW area races that you have loved within a few hour’s drive of the Portland Metro area?

Many thanks for your input!

Happy Running, friends!
~Alaina

Honesty: The Truth About Being Truthful With Yourself

Have you ever found yourself avoiding the activities you once loved?

Have you been in a place of constant learning and pursuing eight different new passions all at once?

And when you finally achieve your 200 RYT yoga certification, become a Reiki Practitioner, and finish your contracted time working with a business coach to set up your Reiki & Coaching practice – You find you’re ready to launch (once you have your logo), have copy and marketing packages planned (yet your website doesn’t exist), business license acquired and bank accounts are set up, and you’re talking with all of your friends and family about starting this business you love – and yet…

You can’t get yourself to start.

Oh, no wait, this is no random example – this is about me.  Yes, this is the story of the last seven months of my life. I found myself shoulder-deep, hands tied to my sides, unable to move forward with this business I thought I wanted – no, needed – to start.

I was exhausted, frustrated, and tired of putting all of my time and effort into this thing that was not exciting to me.

Don’t get me wrong – I love yoga.  And I think Reiki is amazing, and I am so grateful to have learned how to properly use this gift I was born with of healing with my hands, yet… something was missing.

So one day, shortly after moving in to my (new) apartment, I was trying to set it up in such a way that would allow me to accommodate clients with comfortable seating and a place to set up the Reiki table, when a random thought crossed my mind, and caught me totally off-guard:

What I really want is a space where I can sit comfortably and eat a meal.  What would that look like?

Which lead me to start thinking some more about why I was setting up my space for other people… And then: what would it feel like to let go of starting my Reiki business? I was well aware that I had been self-sabotaging any real chance of getting it off the ground (by not doing anything to move forward with getting clients), and as soon as I allowed myself to explore the idea, I felt my shoulders relax away from my ears, weight leaving my mind as it became less frantic and the whirling slowed.  I could breathe again. In that moment, I decided:

I will allow myself the freedom to choose to let go of starting this business.

It took seven months, a few large investments, and a very deep breath to finally realize: If I was being honest with myself: I did not want to start this practice.  I felt like I was pretending to be someone I am not, slipping into a skin that was not mine, and putting on a happy face to show that I really wanted to move in the direction of having a Reiki practice. And in letting go, I was finally free to actually be Me.

Slowly, in the places where I felt drained of all energy before, I now feel a sense of creativity coming back into my life. When I moved in January, I was informed tenants can paint their apartment, and I have completely indulged in painting – walls, trim, ALL rooms (before and after soon to come!).  It has turned into a huge (really ginormous – going on three weeks here, folks) task, yet it is making me incredibly happy.  I have never felt more at home.

The past few weeks, settling in to this new place (mind freedom and space freedom), I have finally been able to get back into running – and the joy that comes with the expending energy moving solely by my own feet through the air and around this fair city reminds me how much I need to make time for this self-care.

Somehow, I manage to surprise myself again – Letting go of the routine of the run, after recognizing its importance in my life, and in returning re-remembering how much this daily ritual of moving meditation brings a lightness to my work, and keeps a smile on my face.

And these sunrises... Who wants to miss this glorious time of day?!?
And these sunrises… Why would I on Earth would I intentionally miss this glorious time of day?!?

I am a better person when I care for myself. (Isn’t that what we are taught?) When on an airplane, you are instructed to put the mask over your own face, and then take care of others near to you. Why is it so hard to commit to self-care, when even our society is letting us know that it is vitally important?

Today, I am re-committing (after re-remembering) to myself and my word of intention for the year: “Health”.  Food, exercise, and rest.  To be the best me, so I can be a better person for all my friends, family, coworkers (and myself!) to be around.

I would love for you to share your realization and commitment story:

Is there something that you have devoted yourself to that is draining your energy?
What can you choose to do right now to relieve stress and feel more in alignment with your own intentions?

On that note (of self-care), I am off to bed!

May health and happiness be with you all – Goodnight!
~Alaina

The End of an Adventure; Beginning a New Practice

Portland Sunrise

Last Thursday, I completed my Yoga Teacher Training by teaching a 60 minute yoga class.  We stretched, stood strong, balanced, and I led the class back to the floor for our final resting pose; after dimming the lights and allowing time for some silence, I sang to the room of resting yogis.  My relief for completing the training, delight at how well this class went (despite my sleepless night, music hiccups, and nervousness), and gratitude for all the great teachers, classmates, and wonderful people I met on this journey brought so much emotion, that tears fell from my eyes as I bowed my head with the word Namaste”. 

A week and a half later, I am still unsure if I will use this knowledge to teach full classes at a studio or gym.  I am now a certified yoga instructor, yet the debate swirls in my mind; knowing that my intention for this journey was to find some personal growth – and I certainly have – I find I have learned so much, acquiring a new sense of appreciation for all things Yoga, and feel a sense of need or responsibility to somehow share this new-found knowledge.

My body has not felt this strong in many years.  And I can release stress with so much ease; a simple inhale through the nose and exhale open mouth does the trick.  (This is not necessarily recommended at one’s corporate job while in a meeting because you may draw unwanted attention to yourself, but is entirely acceptable at one’s desk).

I find myself at a kind of impasse.  The road forward is more clear now, and I know many of the steps I need to take to get where I need to be (more details to come soon), yet I know that there are a few personal tasks I must accomplish before I can ever be successful starting these new adventures.

For many years, I have had the desire to have a morning practice.  When training for running races, especially the 50k, I felt pretty good about getting outside to run before work as my practice, but it was only 4-5 times per week. This desire to take time for myself to exercise, focus, and be present to start the day has morphed into a need through this yoga journey, and yet I am still avoiding just beginning.  I think that I fear the changes that will come when I allow myself to truly be present – to get comfortable in my own skin, in my home, in my mind, right NOW – because (more!) changes will be needed.

Despite this angst, change is not something I fear, and this change, adding a daily practice (spiritual and physical), does not take a great deal of time nor does it change who I am.  So I wonder now: why do I fear taking one step closer to who I really am and what my heart desires?

Perhaps I am simply afraid to learn what I have been missing for the past thirty-two years. No … I do not believe that is not the reason.  I am afraid that starting these practices will draw my attention inward.  Away from friends, family, and a life outside myself because I have so much to explore. 

I recognize that much of my 32 years on Earth has been spent doing what was expected of me. Doing what I could to fit in as best as I could.  Making myself available to please friends.  And finally, what I need to do is discover myself, find out what makes me tick, what feels right as my place in this world.  And it is a little scary taking those steps toward understanding.

So here on this page, I make a promise to myself, and state it out loud to you all to help hold myself accountable.  December 1st, 2014, I am beginning a Daily Practice.  I will start with 20 min of asana practice, 5 minutes of Pranayama ( Ujjayi breath), and starting small, explore 5 minutes of meditation – unfamiliar territory – and study how these practices affect me.  My intention is also to add running back into my life (oh, how I have missed this view of the city!), which is a little frustrating because I know I must begin slowly after taking a couple of months away from pounding the pavement (the 6 miles I ran yesterday has left my legs quite sore).  I am interested to see what this new practice reveals to me, and how it might affect my mood and the unfolding of each day.

Tell me:
Do you have a daily practice?
How does your practice serve you in your day?

As always, I encourage you to find joy in all that you do.
~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