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…

 Hi, I’m Alaina. I’ve been working on shifting and creating a life I love for the last ten years. This is where I share the stories that brought me to   today   .

Hi, I’m Alaina. I’ve been working on shifting and creating a life I love for the last ten years. This is where I share the stories that brought me to today.

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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.


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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!)

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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.
Have your expectations for yourself morphed during this turbulent time on Earth?

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

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