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… 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

Soaking in Stillness: the Effect of a Power Outage on Best-Laid Plans

This week for our Yoga Teacher Training, we have been reading about Pratyahara and Dharana in The 8 Limbs of Yoga: Pathway to Liberation by Bhava Ram.  In fact I was reading this book, at lunch (by myself) as below:

At the very beginning of the chapter on Pratyahara, Bava talks about our to-do lists and how they never end and we keep adding to them…

We have forgotten how to be Human Beings and instead have become Human Doings.

I was reading on a short break between checking things off my to-do list (while waiting for my lunch), with the to-do list laying directly under the text telling me to be more present.

Convenient to have such a clear message in front of me.  (I am still carrying around that list… and adding to it).  Have I learned anything?

Tonight as I got home from class, I had planned the next few hours: cook dinner, bake some bread, maybe even a sweet treat as well for the rest of the week.  After pouring quinoa into a pan, preparing to rinse, my apartment went dark.  The power went out, and the electric company had no idea why, and I had no idea when I would be able to turn on a burner to heat the water to do any cooking.

And something else – on that list of tasks to accomplish were the words “take a bath”. Yes, my life has become so full of things to accomplish, that I had to plan to do something so simple. And the truth is, I have been putting off a simple, pleasurable, self-care bath for over a month.  So tonight when the power went out, I sliced an apple, ate it with almond butter and a slice of fiber-rich, gluten-free bread, scrubbed the tub and took a candlelight bath.

And it was so nice.  I sat in silence for a while, then started singing some Bonnie Raitt.  Totally cathartic.

Tonight’s power outage was a lesson in being present – enjoying what I have available to me in the moment, soaking in the stillness (and silence of no electronics!), and taking care of myself.  I am learning slowly, one step at a time.

When was the last time you did something for yourself?
Do you have a practice of self-care, and spending time in stillness?

As always, I would love to hear your story.

with love and light,
Alaina

Saturday’s Run: a.k.a. “Get Your Rear in Gear”

Last Friday, when the weekly email came from our local run-planning-expert, I scanned the email to find our starting point, check the distance, and was thrilled with the scrumptious words and double-digit numbers my eyes brought into focus.  We were starting at the Farmer’s Market (and ending there – fresh breakfast, anyone?), and doing 10-11 miles.  Perfect!  The initial email had no map of the route or elevation map, so I just planned to follow the group, no biggie.

Later that evening, a second email with more details arrived to my Inbox, and again, I paid it little heed, knowing I would do an extra 1-2 miles prior to the run, I was focusing on going to bed so I could get up a little early.  To be honest, I am happy I didn’t look to closely at the route or see the elevation map, or I would have been a little more nervous about the words at the end of the message that declared: “This is going to be a butt-burner!”

Yep.  And, man oh, man, that was no lie!

The day started with a beautiful sunrise…
Halfway through our run, we were off the pavement, and onto trails…
…which soon became muddy and slick as the rain poured down on us!
We saw a little Newt! (I know it looks like a worm, but do you see his little legs?)
After the first summit to reach the Vista Bridge on the way out, the second summit up the Wildwood Trail in Forest Park, we found that getting up Vista really was another LONG uphill…
The view was TOTALLY worth it.
By the time we saw our destination, stomachs were growling, mouths watering; we knew we would be at the Market shortly!

We all made it to the end of this run.  A day later, I felt soreness I have not felt in… Months, truthfully, probably not since last year’s marathon at St. George.  I learned that my ‘hills’ on my daily run are nothing compared to what we conquered Saturday.  And that was only (I say only because I know what I am up against in July for the Siskiyou Outback) 400 feet gain/loss (albeit three times!).  

In June, I plan to tackle some serious hills, and some altitude.  Does anyone want to join me for some long runs at Timberline?

After our run, and perusing the Farmer’s Market, I made my way home and took a bath.  The first bath I’ve taken in over five months, and the first in this new home.  I love this tub, and I do not know why I ever “forget” or do not make time for baths.  Self care is SO important!  (and it was SO deliciously relaxing…)

Next weekend, we are being treated to a flat course.  For this, I am grateful – I am scheduled to run 17 miles, and I do not know how I would make it through 17 miles of hills like last weekend!

What distance are you tackling this weekend?

Until next time, Happy running!  And always remember to treat yourself with care.  🙂  You deserve it!!!

with joy in movement (and in rest),
~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.

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…