Determined

In order to lead the life we want to live, it takes a certain amount of self-worth and determination to make that life possible.  We need to set our own desires at a higher level of importance over our outside influences (job, the weather, family, daylight savings time, friends … even sleep, unless that is one of the things you desire and value) in order to keep moving forward.

It’s interesting and amusing to observe, that despite all of the extraordinary life events that have happened throughout this past year of life – people very important passing from this life, others walking out and ending friendships, my first exploration outside the United States on a trip to Ireland, dealing with awful apartments, moving THREE times, turning thirty, starting to get out social dancing again, and finally making the choice to learn to drive and get my license – I feel more settled and at home in my own skin than I have in the last six years combined.

So, in the spirit of doing what I need to lead the life I want for myself, tonight I stayed home, cooked dinner, baked cookies, and washed a LOT of dishes.  I plan on running in the morning before work (dark and early!): the coffee pot is prepped, lunch is set to go, and while I am so Monday-tired I can barely keep my eyes propped open, I still sit here writing because that, too, is an important part of my expression, and my desire to share my experiences keeps me from cutting this short and going to sleep, right here with my head on the table.

And in the morning, no matter how tired I am when that alarm goes off at five o’dark thirty, I will crawl out of bed and put on my vibram fivefingers, reflective vest, and head lamp because running is important to me.  This year, I aspired to run my first marathon when my Grampa completed his 50 state plus DC during the Marine Corps Marathon, but did not plan and make time to achieve this intended goal.  I let work, weather, life, social commitments, and other obligations take up all the “extra” time I could have been running.  Unfortunately for me, running 26.2 miles isn’t something a girl can easily go out and do without training if she decides she wants to, so I let myself stay home, and missed that momentous occasion.  So, now… training begins.

I may be 31 by the time I run my first marathon, but I am going to get out, get some miles under these legs, and cross the finish line.  And if I’m lucky, my Mom and Grampa will be there with me, holding hands, goofy smiles, and burbling tears as we cross the line together.  🙂

Dark mornings call for reflections. Stay safe out there!

~Alaina

Searching for Red, Found Sparkle Instead!

After a long day at work, I took a few minutes to peruse the local mall in search of a red shirt for a dance performance I will be a part of  in about two and a half weeks.  (Yes, I do enjoy social partner dancing, usually West Coast Swing or Blues.  This performance will be a choreographed routine of with six couples; one minute and forty seconds of Nightclub 2-step and West Coast Swing, each).  Much to my surprise, my search was for naught.  I was positive I would find a plethora of red attire this close to the December holidays, but apparently, apparel stores are on a much more conservative schedule to release holiday product than our local grocers.  Or, perhaps red and green are “out” this year, and the light peachy-orange color I’m seeing everywhere is the new red…?

Despite my failed attempt during my costume search, I did discover much beauty in the quiet evening at the mall. There may not have been holiday red, but the lack of festive color fled from my mind when I was blown away by shine, sparkle, and some holiday “snow” bubbles…

Sparkling lights – bubble blower creating “snow” from above.

Enormous decorations hung from the ceiling:

Ceiling ornamentals

Even the transit stop looked glorious in the lamp-light.  Maybe it was the reprieve from the rain, but I was seeing beauty everywhere tonight.  And I am so grateful.

If you’re like me, you probably have your phone out much of the time you are on your commute – checking Facebook, email, making phone calls… Do yourself a favor, and look up.  Take some time to really see what is around you, find some joy in what you witness, and share that experience with others, so they can take time to do the same.

Happy Wednesday!
~Alaina

Obligatory Pursuits

Understandably, there are times in life when we let our obligations take over.  We have responsibilities to uphold, people depending on us, deadlines to keep, standards for ourselves, and performance reviews for which we maintain our work ethic.  Through these times, we are liable to become bogged down; weighted by the world of responsibility waiting for us to attend and bring to conclusion all that busy-business that gives us our paycheck and keeps the roof over our heads.  We forget to schedule time for ourselves; to make dinner, go dancing, go for a walk, or take a bath.  Simple, every-day easy tasks that help us feel more whole that we brush away because we “don’t have time”.

I have been trapped in one of these debilitating, depressing cycles for the last month.  It has been incredibly exhausting.  I’m tired, worn-out, burned out, and want nothing more than to stay home, read my book, and sleep.

For a week.

But that is what my subconscious thinks I need.  The part of me that craves rest taking over my whole schedule with only rest.  I know if I sleep and read for a week and do not do those other things that call to me like running and the simple self-care things like taking time for a bath (and to do laundry), I will still feel tired, stressed, and unsatisfied.

Cabbage stew – surprisingly delicious!

Sunday evening, as I was cooking myself a cabbage stew, I reflected upon the amount of energy I have been allowing myself to put toward negative perspective and outlook.  I was leaving no room for anything positive to happen, and if it did, I’d be lucky if I was able to see the good in the outcome.  Fortunately, my conscious mind came back to the present this weekend after a series of events caused a change of perspective.  I had a slightly rough start to the weekend, and Saturday plans fell through with good friends for brunch.  Fortunately, this opened up space for me to contact an old friend, and we spent the entire day catching up.  We had a great time.  Sunday was spent helping family, and as rough as that was, my sister and I had a really wonderful, heart-felt time talking and connecting over lunch.  I am truly grateful for the time I was able to spend with her.

The Fish & Chip Shop – Luncheon Location

Over the past few months, as Summer has faded from her brilliant greens to the glowing yellows, burnt oranges, and bright reds of Fall, we now find ourselves on the way to what may be a doozy of a Winter, and I am finally beginning to feel that this life I lead is really mine.  I have reclaimed my power to make choices about with whom I spend my time, how I spend those moments, and how I present myself or react within each moment of the day – and I am finally learning how to be present.

This past summer, I set a goal to run every day, for 22 days.   And I wrote about that experience here.  I woke up early, ran, made it through my day of work, attended classes in the evenings, and made time to notate my miles or blog about the experience later that day.  I took photos while I ran for fun, and smiled at people I passed because I want to share that joy-full feeling with others.  Writing brought me to a new place of community; I have made connections with people I would have never met in my day-to-day life.  Noting all the positive influences these two activities have had on my life, it’s a wonder I ever stopped either of them!

In all honesty, it is much more difficult to motivate myself to get out in the torrential downpours we have recently become subject to, and I probably will not be taking my phone for pictures in this weather.  But this year, I made a promise to myself to keep running through the winter; come rain, snow, sleet, or hail, I am going to keep moving.  Thanks to my grandpa and my mom for leading by example through their inspirational journeys of running the 50 states (one just finished and one beginning), and for a dear friend who is quickly talking me into running my first marathon in San Francisco next year… It will be incredible to run over that bridge!

So here is my pledge: I will keep running, and I will keep writing.  Not to stay physically fit or to keep up with other bloggers, but because pursuing these activities helps me find my peace and my joy.

Make time for your favorite activities. Only you can choose what to pursue each day – and whether it is the activities that fulfill your obligations or those that fulfill your heart’s desires that gain the emphasis.