Living Life, Minding the Present; Be-ing and Vulnerablilty

Many of my years as a child, growing into adulthood in my teens, and pressing further into my life as a career-person, aware and contributing to society, have been spent in a constant commentary with Ego.  It has taken a lot of reading (my large collection of self-help novels is yet to be unpacked in my new apartment), listening to motivational speakers, and connecting with others to finally recognize this aspect of myself.  I used to identify my “logical, critical thinking” with reasoning, and I am beginning to see this as the opposite.  This past year, I have been un-training myself to trust “reason” and let go, attempting to learn to listen to my subconscious and intuitive thinking.

Man, is it hard!

For someone who has always analyzed every situation, weighed the pros and cons, and rationally chosen the direction to walk down a path, choosing to feel my reaction and to literally go with my gut has been a challenge.

On the other hand, freeing my mind and following my body’s response has been extremely liberating.  I can still see my mind go into analytical mode, and I am nowhere near as good at this as I would like to be, yet, I am getting better at acknowledging the thoughts, and letting them go.  The physical response to words, actions, ideas, thoughts, anything introduced to your surrounding is always present.  

Since making the choice to live this way, I surprisingly have more time in each day.  Being less in my head has freed my hands to do other things, and my mind can better occupy time with thoughts of the here-and-now, rather than floating off into the oblivion of the unknown future questions and hypotheses.  I feel relieved and happy to have time to write more often!

Have you felt yourself shift?  Do you notice a difference in space and time when you stay present?

One of the side-effects of staying present is not having the time to prepare and protect.  One is forced by nature to remain vulnerable in each setting because nothing else is important.  We are able to truly experience our feelings (feel the gut reactions!) and process them in real-time, not wondering what may come next or how that will affect us.  We are free to Be.  What a wonderful way to live!

Now, I’m no Guru, but I have listened to the advise of a few of these knowledgable people, and hope I have gleaned enough to start making a difference in my life.  When I want to talk with someone, I will call them.  If I am pulled to respond to a text in a longer format to convey that I care, I will.  

Most importantly, I have learned, when someone has significance in your life, to let them know.

This holiday season, I am going to take a cue from a good man, Evan Sanders at The Better Man Project, and write to my loved ones.  Writing is a much more expressive, and eloquent, method for communication for me, and I want to let each and every special person in my life know that I appreciate them.  Because you really never know when your next opportunity will come.  (Thanks, Evan, for the brilliant idea, and reminder).  

Today’s top three:  Be present with those you love, wear your heart on your sleeve, and follow your intuition.  

with love, light, and delight,
~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.

Candy Corn and Redefined (and Unrefined) Writings

Tonight, on my way home from a quiet, comfortable dinner with a good friend at a sidewalk bistro table, we walked by the grocery store to get a few necessities for the work-week, and were caught off guard by the barrage of orange  and purple candy bags stacked throughout the entryway and along the aisles.  Could it be that Halloween has already arrived?  In mid-September?

Very quickly it was obvious Halloween is taking over the grocery store.  My inner five-year old’s eyes went wide, and a grin spread across her face…  She (and I) had to find candy corn!

I have had a personal allowance of one bag of candy corn pumpkins per year, for the last six years.  This has been my one vice and indulgence during the Halloween Holiday candy frenzy craze.  And I have been ok with that.  I’m not proud of this choice, but I figure this one divergence is not a terrible calamity to my state of health.  And to tell you the truth, tonight, I was so excited, my inner five-year old tore open the bag, and I was eating a pumpkin before I set foot outside the door to head home.  Just like being a kid again…  When I arrived home, after consuming a handful of candies, I tied the bag off with a twist-tie to enjoy at a later date.  Only moments passed, and suddenly, my heart was racing, I couldn’t sit still, I felt like crying, and taking a nap.

Holy cow!  THAT is what corn syrup does to me.  I completely forgot.  Over the past year, I have been making much more conscious decisions concerning which foods I eat and those I abstain from, and corn syrups and refined sugars live right at the top of the eliminated foods list, among other super-processed items.  I cannot say that my body has not had a similar response before, but wow… This may be the first time I truly experienced and acknowledged how strong the reaction is and how it affects me physically and mentally.

Have any of you noticed these types of reactions when you deviate from your health conscious diet choices?  Have you noted any specific foods that really get you crawling out of your skin?

Two years ago, when I started this blog, my intention was undefined.  I would simply post something, about anything, perhaps a poem, whenever I felt the need or desire (which was very infrequent).  Over the past few months “Living & Loving Life” has morphed into a running blog.  As much as I am a runner, and gain great joy from sharing my experiences, there are so many other things I would like to write about and share from my life’s experience.  Lately, I have found myself hesitating when I want to write about anything unrelated to running.  I feel that to deviate from this subject will mean breaking the unwritten contract I have with the community of people who have chosen to read my words when they relate to hitting the pavement.

My eternal optimist tells me that perhaps a change in topic will be an opening to reach others who may read this blog, but have not chosen running as their personal physical pursuit.  Maybe you, too, can relate to the tale of candy corn and the childlike response (the high and the crash).

Tonight, my conclusion is this: I will continue running and writing, but I will let my mind settle on the day’s notable topic, allowing my fingers lay a foundation of words wherever my thoughts may wander.

And I am not going to eat any more candy corn!

From the uphill morning run six-mile journey; the sun rising below the hill, beyond the bridge, behind the tree.

Preparation

As I near the start of my first big journey as an adult, I find myself allotting more time for me.  I am allowing time in the morning to practice at least 15 minutes of yoga to help my back feel better.  I am noticing my aches and where I need to stretch and regain motion after the accidents of last year, and I think that with this practice, I can slowly recuperate of my pre-car accident flexibility a little more each day.

I am taking vitamins to boost my immune system, which I have been neglecting.

I am making lists and checking off tasks as I achieve each one.  I am more methodical about managing my time, and this directly affects how successful I feel at the end of the day.

I unconsciously started giving myself time to sit in bed, relax and read, or catch up on email (and relieve stress or the worry of needing to respond at a later date) at the end of each day.  And what I am noticing is a lack of constant noise and chatter in my head, a sense of ease, and, above all, feeling happy.

Reflecting on these things brings a smile to my face, and causes me to laugh.  At myself.

In preparation to leave my normal daily life of work and constancy, I have started prioritizing and living in a more meaningful way for myself. 

My question is this: why do I need to take a big trip – a vacation – in order to finally make myself a priority in my own life?  For me, this trip to Ireland is the greatest gift I have ever given myself, and perhaps leaving the country (and other various recent events which definitely contribute to this re-evaluation) is the jump-start I needed to put me first and live as I want to live – pursuing and supporting people and places and activities I hold important.

Wow.  Finally!  I can claim what I want for me.

And it only took 30 years to get here.
One starts to wonder what the next 30 years will bring to light…