Commitments: Heart, Soul, and Feet – Time for Some Nourishment

Over the past few months, I have found myself (finally) making commitments to do the things that are enjoyable for me on a semi-consistent … let’s say, weekly basis.  Tonight, for example, a lovely weekend-eve Friday night, I got home around 5:30pm after work, put on my Pj’s, poured a short glass of white wine, and snacked on a random assortment of foods including cheese, apple, gluten-free pretzels, carrots, prunes, and salami.  Okay, and a little ice cream.  I was relaxed, comfortable, and just enjoying the peace of being home.  

To be honest, I knew I wanted to write tonight, and I did not want to spend time cooking… and in the end, did not eat a very healthy meal by my standards.  (Can I even call it a meal?)

Truthfully, I eat this way frequently.  Although, generally in a more organized “here is the pu-pu platter” kind of assorted fruits, veggies, meats, and cheeses manner.  Chopping and not cooking is easy, delicious, and I have to say, I think there is something to eating raw that I might like to explore.  I have so much energy when I snack on whole foods!

I do not know when or how it happened, but at some point in my young adult life, I started fantasizing about eating healthy foods.  I was terrible at it in my teens, and my early 20’s.  Dorm food and low budgets do not make for choice selections in the grocery aisle.  I find myself now, reading the ingredients on any food that comes pre-packaged (or on any health and beauty item – there are so many unrecognizable items in face cream!  I mean, really! Do you want …. “whateverthatis” on your face and in your body???)

My turning point came in 2009, when I signed up with a trainer at my local 24 Hour Fitness.  I was relieved when I found out I would be training with a woman – a girl, in fact someone my age.  She had spunk, was super cute, strong, funny, and knew just what to say to get me to do what she wanted.  In less than two weeks, I was on a very regimented work-out schedule, keeping a food (and “how are you feeling”) journal, and pushing physical boundaries I never thought I would be touching.

It’s true, in two months I had lost a significant amount of body fat, gained 7 pounds of lean muscle and I was working out with such focus and intensity, the only time I was approached by a man at the gym it went like this:  Him  – “You look like you’re working hard.” (slight smile on his mouth).  Me – “Yes, I am.” (Matter-of-factly)  Him – ” . . . (crickets) . . . ” (turns and leaves).  I scared him away.  …Must learn how to appropriately engage in conversation with interested men… oh, well.

Over time, I lost my enthusiasm for the gym.  The things I really kept in practice are in regards to food.  Portion size, variety, the importance of having lots of colors in your food, frequency of meals to keep up the metabolism… all of these have had a tremendous impact on my energy level, how I feel in my body, and combating tiredness.  The greatest impact was unintentional – I was instructed not to eat carbs (ie: bread and wheat) except in the morning. Oatmeal or sprouted wheat toast were ok in the early hours when you are kick-starting your body.  By following this advice, I learned how much my body dislikes wheat, and I am so grateful to have been given this knowledge before any number of physical consequences reared their ugly heads.Despite all my training and the lessons I have learned, I am constantly striving to eat better.  I want to eat more vegetables.  I want to eat less sugar, in fact, perhaps eliminate all processed sugar from my diet.  I want to cook more of my meals.  I want to eat local foods that I purchase at the farmer’s market to support local business, and make Earth-healthy choices (closer food equals less fossil fuel consumption in shipping goods).      Making these changes takes time, energy, planning, prepping, and spending time at home cooking rather than choosing social occasions eating out.  Lifestyle change – difficult, important, and definitely possible.

So this month, I am choosing to Nourish my heart, soul, and continue to honor and nourish my feet and legs with running (especially with a Marathon and a 50K coming up in the near future).  For my heart, I am participating in a 30 push-ups/day for 30 days challenge inspired by a couple of very cool ladies over at It’s A Marathon AND A Sprint, Colby and Tina (arm and core strength are good for the heart, right?).  For my soul, I am committing to writing every day for the month of May, following the BlogHer prompts for “Nourish” NaBloPoMo.  I love that they have put together a “Write Your Heart Out” theme for every month!  Whenever you decide to pick up the pen, you can find support of other writers, getting their Blog on.

Here’s to writing, running, pushing-up for dynamite shoulders, and eating like we’ve always dreamed so we can feel that good.

Happy Nourish-ing…
~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)

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

Day 11: Challenges in Daily Writing and Thoughts on Fear

Not two weeks into NaBloPoMo, my drive to write is waning.  Last night, exhausted after a long weekend of catch-up after a week of travel out of the country, I decided sleep was more important than posting.  I had actually started a post, and neglected finishing my thoughts.

… and I’ve been thinking about this with a little regret all day long.

I chose to join NaBloPoMo, and commit to writing everyday on my blog for a simple 30 days, and I didn’t take the time to sit for ten minutes and get some words on ‘paper’?  I admit, I was disappointed in myself for not keeping the schedule.

Throughout my life, I have eagerly committed to projects, groups, activities, and often found myself … slacking, letting go, giving up half-way through these projects due to lack of interest, frustration, or… fear.  Fear of doing something wrong, making something look bad, or worse, becoming visible to the rest of the world and possibly being rejected. 

I admit, this is going a little deeper than a miss on a blog post, but hear me out.  I am literally dying inside to paint.  The urge and need and desire to use water and a brush to make something beautiful on paper is slowly tightening its choke hold around my neck, and I fear if I do not soon grab a brush and just go for it my larynx will be crushed and I will suffocate.  But the cold, heart-stopping, hand-stilling fear keeps me from even trying to paint.

It is an irrational fear.  Excepting me, no one will see these paintings, at least for now.  There is absolutely noting to be afraid of but fear itself.  The feeling is difficult to work through, and understandably keeps many of us from really trying to dance, sing, go for that dream job, or simply paint.

The thing we must learn is that by waiting, postponing, not doing these activities that we desire (that very likely will bring us great joy – or a great lesson), we put off learning more about our own nature, and allowing ourselves to fully embrace who we are in this moment, denying ourselves happiness.

To be perfectly honest, I have no fear about sharing my thoughts with you, the reader of alwayslovinglife.com, and I am happy to be able to say what I need to, for my own growth as an individual and a writer.  Blogging is not scary for me.  Here I am, putting myself out for the world to read and judge (if they can find me), and this does not give me cause for pause at all.  But sitting down with a brush and a pad of paper alone can almost cause my teeth to chatter in cold, hard fear.

I think that these feelings can be a good compass.  When we feel irrationally fearful of something that we desire, it shows us the degree to which it matters to our heart, the level to which we will feel rejected if our art/song/words/thoughts/choreographed dance are not accepted by others.

So, on this day, Monday the eleventh of November, 2013, I vow to paint before the end of the month.  I also vow to complete a blog post each day this month because these things matter to me, can cause a little fearfulness, and in their doing, hopefully, will always bring great joy.

What has your fear kept you from accomplishing?

with joy,
~Alaina