Setting Goals, Scaling Back, and Stepping Up in 2020

Setting Goals, Scaling Back, and Stepping Up in 2020

I’ve been working hard for a long time…

There is always so much to do! I’ve honestly not done myself any favors with this website and blog adventure – I’ve quit the ease of one web developer to have more control over my website, and quickly discovered there is so. much. more. to learn to manage the site (but it is more malleable!). Additionally, I’m holding myself responsible for a lot of things home-related, started working for my partner’s arborist business (in the home office), and at the end of 2019 decided I want to run another 50k (in 2020… and I have been doing ZERO training). Plus, the lovely (very early) symptoms of peri-menopause have made their presence known over the last year. (YEAY to the aging process!)

It’s no wonder I’m stressed again, and my back has been killing me lately.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve attempted to un-learning the always-busy mentality of my corporate-living past , and am actively re-learning how to take care of my own needs and discover what it is I really want through the Raise Your Hand Say Yes Inner Circle with coaching from Tiffany Han. You may have seen a little commentary on this process, and that it is much harder in practice than it sounds to enact these changes as a reoccurring theme on my Instagram posts. I mean, we installed a bath in our new home in May – and I only just used this gorgeous fixture for the first time – two weeks ago, at the end of January (and again last night!) This tub is something I specifically asked for (and picked out) with the desire to take relaxing, hot baths, and I have been denying myself this pleasure for over SEVEN MONTHS.

 

Definitely seeing a pattern of my past – self denial. 

In order to help myself along this journey, to ease and self-care I have decided to make some changes this year. Here are the four things I’m committing to this year:

1. 12 days to quitting coffee:

(today was day 7 of the quitting process – 1 whole week!)

I have been hearing the whispers for literally years. Coffee doesn’t taste good to me anymore, I usually need more caffeine in the afternoon, and I’ve done enough reading and research to conclude it’s probable that my body isn’t producing cortisol well on it’s own anymore, and my adrenals need a break. So. I’m quitting coffee for 2020. Yes, it’s a month late to start, but now is better than a year from now. I want to feel as good as I can and that is going to require some real change. 

In order to set myself up for success, I am using a delicious, hot morning beverage substitute for coffee I found on the wide world of Instagram –  Rasa, and I am actually using their New Year Energy Reset which conveniently comes with a 12 day Energy reset program of helpful and inspiring emails. Who doesn’t like a little pep talk before you drink your coffee? 

Rasa is made with organic, sustainable herbs and adaptogens that help provide long-lasting energy while letting your adrenals rest. I love how I can drink my cup, and not feel any immediate jitters, and – already – no longer feel that 2pm crash.

 

RASA is changing my life for the better. 

2. Rest

Sleep is SO important. I know this, you know this, we all know this, and yet … we often ignore this simple fact. I have been wearing a FitBit Versa (they now only have the Versa 2 and Lite versions ), and watching my sleep change has been a fascinating adventure. I now have real evidence that backs up how much better I feel when I get 7+ hours of sleep (gone are the days when 5.5-6 hours was “fine”), and watching the pattern of REM & Deep sleep change while considering what I ate (or drank) or where I am in my cycle is really great information. I can make better decisions for myself on the daily knowing how these variables affect my sleep, and mood. 

Tracking isn’t just limited to sleep and heart rate (did you know your resting heart rate fluctuates throughout your cycle, ladies? It’s crazy to see!), but tracking my exercise is wonderful. The watch even picks up on when I start a walk, and will keep track of the time I’m walking. Love this tool!

3. Health as priority #1

I have known for five years or so that my cholesterol is a little high, and there is family history (on both sides) of high cholesterol and blood pressure, so I wasn’t too concerned about this change in my early thirties. Last week, I had a biometric assessment, and my test results surprised me. Overall, my cholesterol ratio is still good, but my levels have gone from low 200’s to 217 last year, and last Thursday… 241. So, as someone who has been on the right side of healthy all her adult life, this is honestly a little scary. 

I know I need to commit to some serious physical activity. Due to all the changes and stress of the last three years of my life, I have fallen out of the exercise wheel. Running used to be routine, while often motivated by an end-goal race (or simply the fact that my running buddies ran a minimum of 8 miles on Saturdays), I got out at least five times a week to pound the pavement. While I want to run again, I am not ready to commit to a huge race like a marathon or 50k. Daily running (or walking – as I get back into the habit) sounds easier than chasing down a race.

Many years ago, I made a similar goal “Two for Twenty for Twenty-two” yet now, my ambition is higher – 4 miles for however long it takes that day, and for the foreseeable future (until I’m ready for a race – if that desire comes back). Today was day 2 on this mission. Hopefully I keep up this streak for a great, long while. My hope is that running regularly (getting my steps!), adding some weights (as recently advised by my new chiropractor – to protect my joints as I have loose ligaments), and eating more veggies and awareness of portion control, these numbers will turn around.

I’m also jumping back into taking Vitamin D – because I live where the clouds hang out for 9 months/year, and my body doesn’t get the daylight needed to create that wonderful happy vitamin (and this may be another factor in the cholesterol mystery). 

4. Nothing NEW – Only Make, Thrift, or Mend 

I recently saw this beautiful book on the lovely Ana Louise’s Instagram Feed: Mending Matters by Katrina Rodabough. Ana Louise is a Portland, OR small business owner whose store Experimental Vintage (and the store Instagram feed) have been instrumental inspiration for my home decor choices and to start this year with this ambition of nothing new.

Katrina Rodabough’s book Mending Matters speaks to the heart of how I feel about consumerism. I’ve been a long-time patron of Goodwill (started shopping for myself as a freshman in High School, with my part-time job salary), and have shifted to thrifting at estate sales, and more local vintage/consignment stores. After almost 11 years in the apparel industry, and experiencing how different fabrics breathe (or not), I started feeling like a bit of a fabric “snob” however, I think it simply comes down to choosing what feels good for me, and what I find more environmentally responsible. Natural fibers – cotton, wool, cashmere, and linen (and sometimes rayon, but the process of creating fabric with rayon is generally not environmentally sustainable) are what I gravitate towards – and I’m looking forward to spending some time mending and augmenting clothes with holes or that are fraying, and repurposing other items that are not mendable.

On that note, I am getting married this year…

and I fully intend to make, thrift, or mend a dress. I was starting to dream of buying a new dress before I made this committment to myself, and now I know I need to follow through. Besides checking out the local Goodwill, St. Vinny’s, and vintage stores, there is a chain with a location in Portland I will definitely be checking out: Brides for a Cause. By recycling dresses (they take your donated dress, and sell it to me, let’s say), this non-profit raises funds for women-focused charities. About 90% of their net income goes to donations, and to date, they have donated over $1,000,000! I am looking forward to checking out their inventory in the search for my perfect dress.

I do however have a back-up plan, which involves my mom’s wedding dress (from 1981, mind you), another dress I found at Consign Cotoure, some Oxygen Boost cleaner from Branch Basics, new thread, old linen items I’ve found, some serious brainstorming, sketching, and patterning, and a LOT of patience. 

Here’s a peek of the lovely dress that was my mom’s… 

So… That’s my top four for 2020 – plus a little wedding preview. ♥ Overall, my goal is to settle in my life here in the Willamette Valley, learn to be a good homesteader, harvest & preserve from our garden, and find the ease in my new routine. Thanks for being here, and lending your ear to hear my story and dreams.

Now, I want to hear from you – what are you doing for yourself in 2020?

Let’s make it a great year – I’m happy to support your dreams.

Much love,
      Alaina

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freedom, forgiveness, & the wild search for edible fungus

freedom, forgiveness, & the wild search for edible fungus

Two weeks ago, I was starting to feel in command of my life.

Each end of day, I would plan the points of interest and to-do’s for the next day in my new-found freedom. What am I talking about, you wonder? For the last three months, I have been living life job-free, and honestly, really struggling with this new position. I know that sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. For the last 22 years of my life, I have been at the very least, part-time employed. The importance of being a productive member of society is a value that was ingrained in my psyche as a child. 

I landed my first job when I was a freshman in high school. Working for a wedding photographer on the weekends became a semi-regular event every-other weekend (the other weekend was spent at my Dad’s house), and eventually, I took on part-time work at my high school theater. Having spending money was fantastic, and I felt like I was doing what I could to do my part to … well, bring myself up into adulthood, and a contributing member of the family. Taking care of myself (for myself) became a very important task to meet the expectations I thought were upon me (whoa… more on that later, too). During college, I was an RA for two years, worked part-time at the on-campus bookstore, and was all but hell-bent on finding my career once I was out. Six months after my graduation date, I found my way into the job that led to my 11 year corporate career.

Now I find myself in a place of opportunity and freedom, and find myself fighting to allow flow (rather than expectations of “productivity”) to take me from day to day. So, on that Thursday, two weeks ago, when my love called and said “want to go to the coast and go mushroom picking with me? I’m done early!” my first reaction was, shockingly, “No!” I had made plans for myself for perhaps the third day in a row that week, and felt I was on a productive streak. I didn’t want to lose the momentum. But, deep down, I knew this was the wrong time to say ‘no’ so I took a deep breath, talked about why I felt the way I did, and conceded. “Of course, I’d love to go with you. What does this trip entail?”

He explained to me I would love the place we were going, and I am happy to report, I did find it extremely rewarding.

I was met with unexpected beauty…

The forest was slightly damp and mist closed around the trees, but we were protected in the deep green, mossy alcoves, and even remained dry within clearings, by the high canopy of evergreen branches above. We hiked through grand, open spaces with soft footing and lanky tree trunks, and ducked under heavy bushes with lacy spider-webs. We went so far uphill that, overdressed as I was, I started to overheat. Willing myself to cool down, my man offered me the option to stop and wait for him, and that he would be back in ten to fifteen minutes.

Unfortunately, we had moments before stepped over a large pile of bear scat, and there was NO way I was sitting alone in the forest where bears are concurrently hunting for huckleberries!

Heck NO. I’m coming with you!

So, I found myself scrambling and closely watching the carpet of moss for any available reason to stop (aka. mushroom sightings) and whenever an orange speck caught my eye, I paused to investigate.

I am happy to report, we had a successful adventure and returned with a small reward for our efforts in our cache.

these were not the mushrooms we were hunting
(hedgehogs and chanterelles)

but they sure are gorgeous!

(somehow I forgot to take pictures of the bright, orange mushrooms we were seeking!)

This man is showing me a new way to live.

In my overly-adrenaline (and caffeine) fueled previous life in a corporate career, productivity and “getting sh*t done” outside of the office were the foundation of what made me a good person. Now, I am encouraged to slow down, feel into what resonates for me, and follow my heart when I choose projects or focus my attention on different tasks.

I really want to share more of my transition story with you (left my job, fell in love, and moved to a new town!), but haven’t yet been able to put it into words. Now that summer is over, and life is settling into the quiet rhythm of hibernation and winter, a message is forming. More to come soon.

I think we all need a little more peace and forgiveness for ourselves to be patient during this time of growth.

What changes have you experienced this year?

I’d love to hear from you about your experience. Let me know in the comments below!

Much love,
       Alaina

boxing games

boxing games

For years, I have been struggling with boxes. Not the physical, cardboard type, but the metaphorical: these are the things I do, this is what I like, therefore, I belong in this box categorization. 

Finding my place within the cliques in high school, study groups in college, or the coworkers at my corporate job never really worked for me. I just don’t seem to fit the mould, and by “the mould” I mean ANY of them. And that was fine! I got along quite nicely with many different people, making great acquaintances along the way. I’m not friendless, I have been fortunate to have one great friend – my best friend since third grade (yes, that is 25 years of friendship) – a constant confidant in my life. So, the fitting in with people never really bothered me, it was when I started feeling the scrapes and irritation while working at my job, that I really felt…  Uncomfortable.

Five years ago. Five, loooooong years ago, I started feeling like it was time to change. Something needed to shift. So, I started looking inside me to learn more about myself; I agreed to run a marathon with my Grandpa when he gifted me the entry for Christmas in 2013, I went within to learn more about the yamas and niyamas of yoga, diving into obtaining my yoga instructor 200hr certificate in 2014, I went on a solo week-long vacation on the side of a canyon outside Sisters, OR, and proceeded to work through The Desire Map Book (seriously helpful to create the shift of perspective) in an effort to find the reasons behind my discontent, and the journey went on and on… 

Awareness of my discomfort originated with a intense moment of realization in 2010.

A friend and coworker was taking voice lessons, thought I would like the teacher, and highly recommended I attend an upcoming event. I went to an all day workshop where this instructor quickly identified the main reason (unbeknownst to me) I have always held myself back from singing, and after a few lessons in authenticity, I finally began to learn to use my voice. Suddenly, I started chiming in during work discussions, and over time, I was speaking my truth in life in ways I had never experienced. And THAT is when I really noticed the nudge, and the little voice that said:

  • “What are you doing here?”

  • “Is this really what you want to do with the rest of your life?”

  • “How does this work make you feel?

To which I would immediately reply “What are you talking about? This is a great company! And a good job! Everyone I know tells me so!”I lived my life to the meet the standards of my perception of what “everyone else” thought was good for me, despite the fact it was slowly tearing the aliveness from my body. You know the drill: graduate high school, go to college, get a corporate career (there’s more safety and security in those), find a partner and settle down… I kept ticking the boxes, waiting to feel… content.

But the whispers and scrapings became louder and more painful. They were so loud this summer, I recorded this:

In July I knew, choosing to make a change was no longer a risk: it was a necessity. I was emotionally volatile all the time. A ticking time bomb for joy to spontaneously morph into sorrow, and I simply wanted to be able to rest. I couldn’t get enough sleep, even though I was sleeping more than 8 hours a night on a regular basis.

I was exhausted. Tired of playing the game, turning a blind eye to the politics, pretending to be happy, and finally… started speaking up. I told my manager I was looking for something else, even joked about taking a part-time job so I could quit the commute. Driving for more than two hours a day drained me even more than acting at work. Eventually, I quit acting. I realized I was at a critical impasse, and needed to shift my mindset. I started sharing what was exciting to me with my friends and co-workers, talked about running again, started trying to make time to cook more. I took more days off – simply to work in my yard, or have a long weekend to allow myself a break. I began planning this blog! I started to focus on what I really wanted in my life. 

When I finally asked the universe for what I wanted: meaningful work, and got the nudge to work with a lovely friend and mentor (who gently urged me to be authentic, oh, so many years ago), I jumped at the chance and started a new learning journey. Two months later, while on my morning run, for the third time in two weeks, I passed a “Help Wanted” sign. I was finally open enough to pay attention, and found the resolve to apply for an entry level job, freeing myself to make substantial life changes. I chose to move away from comfort (and my eleven year work home) into a world where I walked to work, work four days a week at my day job, am learning to budget like an adult (why don’t they teach money management in high school?), and now  spend more time at home cooking, learning, or running, writing, and practicing. All things I have been craving for years. 

Now, here I am at the beginning of a new journey: stepping out of the box and into my life. The only way to truly “fit in” is to choose to believe in yourself. If nothing else is true, I hope that you choose to be YOU, and follow pursuits that pique your curiosity. Because that is what makes life worth living, and so much more fun. 

with gratitude for the boxes and the lessons they teach…
~Alaina