Keeping Promises: May Blogging & Arm Strength

I am a little bit surprised by the fact that I have stuck to it and written a blog post, and performed 30 push-ups every day for 28 consecutive days as of… whenever I post this tonight.  I have previously attempted a blog streak, although I feel at that time I was less successful.  Posting solely an image, reflecting on some mildly interesting event, and hoping that the brief jot would sufficiently fulfill the daily requirement and satisfy my own need to create and express.

As I learned in November, putting in a little effort turned out to be just that: a little satisfying.  And each time I knew I was kind of … well… only putting in a half-effort, and that hole would appear in the pit of my stomach reminding me that the content I put out into the world of the Internets was less than.  So, as my posts come later and later this May, edging into the wee hours of the morning, it is because I am learning that making a quality post each day is quite a stretch.  And I would rather be satisfied with my post and miss a little sleep than feel that pit form in my belly.

Despite the difficulty coming up with the next post, I am thoroughly enjoying every moment spent composing.  I have also learned that I am naturally a night owl… Or at least, I kick into creative overdrive in the late evening.  Which is difficult to honor and maintain when getting up at 5:30 or 6am every day to get in the morning workout.

Do you find yourself compromising on sleep to exercise and satisfy your creative side with artful activities?

“Burning the candle at both ends” as they say…
And currently, loving it!

I hope you were all able to do something that brought you happiness today!

Joyfully,
~Alaina

Saturday Nourishment: Fun, Family, Friends

Today has been a long day. I awoke early to chase the dawn on a 12 mile run, met a friend for brunch, introduced two good friends and their little babies to each other, spent time catching up, attended a house-warming party for a friend where I played a group game of “salad bowl” (and for the first time in many years – enjoyed myself), and got half of the party to join me in performing thirty push-ups altogether, just moments ago. Still socializing, enjoying a quiet evening in good company. For the first time in a long time, I am having a good evening out without worry of tomorrow’s commitments, or when I need to go to bed.

To relax, enjoy, and just be in the present moment … Truly joyous!

How are you spending your weekend?

To hoping you find joy and surprise in all the little moments of your day,

~Alaina

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

Much to my surprise and delight, I have been nominated for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award! by sister runner and blogger BayRunner Jamie.  She is spunky, enthusiastic, and a truly motivated runner.  Thanks so much Jamie!

The blog award rules:

Thank the blogger who nominated you, answer some questions, nominate 10-12 other bloggers and notify them on their blogs.  (I will do this soon!)

Questions:

Favorite color– For many years I have claimed “I like all colors”, and now, with confidence, I can say red and turquoise. (… and maybe magenta)

Favorite animal – cats and dogs, and I am allergic to both

Favorite non-alcoholic drink– Coffee, no question 🙂

Facebook or Twitter– Facebook, although I rarely participate anymore

Favorite pattern– floral patterns (good gracious, I am girly!)

Favorite number– 13

Favorite Flower– Rose

What is your passion– Running, singing, encouraging others to pursue their passion

And now for the nominees!

Move Eat Create

THE USUAL BLISS

The Flexi Foodie

Travel.Garden.Eat

Sisterhood of the Traveling Mats

The Girl in Glasses

Trying to be Conscious

le zoe musings

Go Jules Go

52 Miles per Month

District Sweats

Each of these women has inspired me in one way or another: through humor, with great cooking ideas, DIY’s, motivational running stories, or other pursuits of happiness and health in life.  Check them out!  Forewarning: they are not all running blogs, although I assure you, you will enjoy each and every one of them!

Thanks again, Jamie, for the nomination!

Happy Blogging, everyone! And Happy Holiday.
~Alaina

Day 27 of NaBloPoMo: Daily Writing is Coming to an End!

I have a hard believing that I have been posting almost every night for twenty-seven days for NaBloPoMo (I admit I have missed two, or possibly three).  This is the most frequent posting I have ever attempted, and it really hasn’t been easy.  Getting the time in each day has been a challenge, and usually, I end up in front of my computer, late at night, trying to hit the “Publish” button before the clock turns over to twelve o’clock am on the following day.  And I succeed… about half of the time, the rest are posted a few minutes late.

To my fellow NaBloPoMo-ers, how do you work this event into your day?

Admittedly, I am starting to enjoy the frequency and find it a nice way to wrap up my day.  Sort out all the thoughts and happenings and how I want to think about things is the main point of repeatedly sitting in front of this computer.  I have finally decided that an earlier attempt during the day can be very beneficial.  (and I have yet to start that practice).

Overall, posting this often is like learning to drive a car.  You do not just go out for one lesson at two o’clock pm during the daylight and then finish all other lessons at nine o’clock pm in the dark.  Your attention span, observational skills, and sight will all be impaired just a little due to how tired you are.  As are my blog posts; they’re short, not as well-written, and rushed to meet the deadline.  After this month is done, I know I will need to focus on a plan for blogging at a rate (and time of day) more reasonable for my lifestyle.

I’ll leave you with a running quote that so applies to this subject:

to all, have a good night, and happy running!
~Alaina

A Moment in Time; A Little Rhyme

The past few days of NaBloPoMo, I have found myself reviewing old drafts and stumbled upon this (rather long) poem I wrote on July 11, 2012.   Some of you may know that from time to time I will write a little prose.  In fact, poetry is the reason I started a blog three and a half years ago.  By no means am I studied or practiced at the art, but from time to time I find myself typing words without thought, and often, the jumble that comes out seems to have some sense hidden in the layers and somewhat simple rhyme and meter.

Having an outlet to truly share these words was what I thought I needed at the time, yet here I am, stumbling across a bit of writing that I chose to hide in the “Draft” archives of this website instead of letting it be heard.  So, belatedly, here it is, now for public reading.  As much as I try, I cannot remember the inspiration for these words, yet in reading them now, they create a rise of feeling in me.

Please feel free to express your feedback on this writing.  Constructive criticism is also welcome.

Renew

For every day lived and each sweet breath released
For moments bombarded with noise, and those in peace
For times in oppressive loneliness, and those in open oneness

For each opportunity to turn a leaf
For that final release of heartfelt grief
For genuine clarity and heady acceptance

For everything that has ever been
For the unknown we have kept within
For time I spent away from you…

This time I will start anew.

A brand new day to bring the sun
A new life to express joy and have fun
A time to be who I have meant

A chance to bring the world new light
A time to observe like birds in flight
A day in this life is not just a day

We choose to lead the way.

To the top of the hill, to the crest on the breast
To jump from the cliff, to leave all the rest
We know not the calling, no need to ask why
We simply choose to know we can fly

Light shows the way, light brings us home
We no longer need all that space to roam
With a unified voice, we lift our faces toward the sky

Out pours the song, “now hear our cry!”
The world is not ending, that is not yet near
It is a new beginning for all that will hear.

Listen: Do you hear those notes?
The song in the distance?
The thrum in the throats

Of thousands of people not willing to sit
Waiting for those who would put fire to the pit
They ignore the present and look to the past

See how it spins them round so fast?
They’re blind to all the truth to be seen.
So lost and scared, they know not a thing.

They repeat what they hear, and it’s all lost in fear
No one is out there helping.

So hear my call, dear friends on the mound,
We are needed, we must now sound

Our voices together, unified and light
To diminish the hate, and stop the fight.
We are one, we are, we are!

Knowing this; we can go far
To bring peace, administer joy.
So jump in, and join our ploy.

“We are the world”, he once sang
We are the future, their voices rang,
Here in the present we are, I say.

Do not fear this simple state.
In every moment there is a gate
Which lends us to authenticate.

Be as your heart calls unto you,
It is the only thing to do!
We are. Forever. Faithful. True.

by Alaina Shea 7/11/12
(last two verses added 11/25/13)

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

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

Running and Goals: Who Do You Want to be When You Grow Up?

Running and completing a marathon is a challenge, no one will ever deny, and one that many runners choose to pursue.  This hurdle they jump is a kind of right of passage.  A runner’s status changes after this test; they are no longer just someone who runs for exercise.  They are now called a ‘Marathoner.’  People look at marathon runners in a different way; they’re not just crazy runners, but really crazy runners!

Training for the upcoming St George Marathon has been a serious change of pace for me.  I have committed to running four times per week, a level of dedication I have not had since my high school junior year on the cross-country team, and the most encouraging thing about it is I made this commitment to myself – without a high school coach telling me I wouldn’t get to race if I didn’t show up for practice.  It has been a great test of will and courage to break past each “longest distance” barrier, only to learn that after all… it really wasn’t that hard.  If I just try, and do, then I can achieve. This weekend I will run 20 miles, and the only thing I am worried about is being wet the whole way (it is supposed to rain), and that I might – might – for the first time while training, get blisters.  A relatively minor concern in the grand scheme of running 20 miles.

A very good friend of mine recently sent me a link to an article that got her to thinking about some of her life choices, and it had the same effect on me.  From Psychology Today, written on January 27, 2011 by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D,  The Trouble with Bright Girls, tells us “bright girls believe that their abilities are innate and unchangeable, while bright boys believe that they can develop ability through effort and practice.”  

As a young girl, I was encouraged by my family and told I could do and be anything I wanted to be.  The world was my oyster.  And yet, from the six-year old dream of being “an artist”, my goals molded into something much more practical than the painter I imagined and I find myself sitting behind a desk, at a computer, working for a large company.  Which is fine.  It’s great, actually.  It just wasn’t my dream.

So now, as I am training for this marathon, and I am learning that by putting effort and practice into this goal, I can develop the ability to be a marathoner.  And therefore I can extrapolate that if I put forth as much effort as it has taken to be able to run 20 miles into the six-year-old Alaina’s dreams… Perhaps they will come true, too.

It is remarkable how many of us end up in careers we never expected to be our mode for living, and while I love what I have learned and what I am doing, there is a part of me that yearns to spend an entire week, day after day, secluded in a room, painting landscapes.  And I have never painted a landscape in my life.  My college drawing courses were simultaneously the most difficult personal test of my ability, and the most liberating task I had ever given myself.  Now it is hard to imagine where to begin…

How do you find a way to start living your childhood dreams?
Can you remember who you wanted to be when you were little?
When did you let go of that dream?  Why?
Do you plan to come back to your youthful dreams, and take action to achieve them?
or… Are you living your dream?
I would love to hear from you!
sending joy and wishes of delight in pursuit of your dream…
~Alaina

Present or Observant

IMG_3803
Saturday’s run through the neighborhood.

You may have noticed a rather dramatic decline in the quantity of pictures displayed post – run on this blog.  I found myself meditating on this and attributing the lack of photo diary to the weather, but I know that is not true.  Even when it is raining and gloomy, I always seem to find some spot of beauty to photograph and share with my friends.

And then it dawned on me.  I am primarily running with friends, and while it’s true that I do not like to stop and get behind by taking pictures, I usually take the opportunity to pause and catch the perfect moment in time in nature on Instagram (find me @alainamaeve), followed by a sprint back to the group.  Each time I head out on Saturday with these ladies, I am more present, having great conversation;  I am connecting, paying attention to my running mates, rather than my surroundings.

Do you find yourself more aware of your conversation or your surroundings while running with a group?  

I am building better friendships with these people who share my interest in running, and to be honest, these women are worth more than a thousand photos.

I am so grateful for the group of fabulous women who get up early on sleep-in Saturday with me to run 8-12 miles.  This run has become the kick-off to my weekend, and these women, my friends, a fantastic foundation of support helping me move forward to achieve my goals.  I hope that I am able to be as great a companion and an inspiration for others, as they are for me.

With love and joy in running,
~Alaina