Affirmations · Practice · Writing

Some New Year’s Thoughts

Hello, friends!  A new, fresh year is upon us!  January is cold, crisp, and exciting.  January is the month that, generally, people make promises for the coming year and there is a lot of enthusiasm behind said promises.  However, if you live in a similar climate as me, it’s been extremely cold since 2017 started, and all I really want to do is curl up with my cat and a blanket, and I don’t feel very proactive…

But, let’s talk a little bit about resolutions.  I’m just as guilty as the next person about having grand ideas about who I want to be, what I want to look like, or what I want to do.  This year, however, I’ve moved away from making “resolutions” and instead have crafted some affirmations around my goals and my word of the year.

My word for 2017 is “practice.”  On my Instagram feed I wrote this about my word: “There are a lot of things in my life that I want to ramp up and build a practice around.  The word, to me, implies ritual and imperfection, it reminds me to work a little bit each day toward my goals.  Be those goals health related, to read a book, to go deeper spiritually, to use my cards, to play my ukulele, to write a bit each day…..it covers a little bit of everything…We’re not perfect, life isn’t perfect, and that’s why we practice — to get things a little better each time.”

With that in mind, and with the help with of my Many Moons workbook, I worked out some intentions and affirmations for the coming year.  I don’t want to call them resolutions exactly because while they aren’t specific goals, (as in “I want to lose 60 pounds”), they are (as said above) practices that I want to build up over this year.  I do have specific end goals in mind, but I want to focus on the intention and practices behind the goals.

The workbook explains affirmations and how they can help to alter thought patterns and habits.  I found the section helpful in crafting my own affirmations, as I didn’t have much experience writing them before.  The book calls affirmations mini-spells, which I really like.  As such, I went on to craft some affirmations to bolster my intentions for 2017.

My overall affirmation for 2017 is, “My goals are not a chore; they are so that I can be a better me.”  I wrote this affirmation keeping my 2017 word, practice, in mind.  I actually really like this affirmation because I tend to view my daily goals as something to be checked off a list.  But really my goals are not something mundane (a chore), they are dynamic, and are intended to help me improve myself.

The workbook then asks “what is waiting to be manifested” for the rest of 2017.  It breaks down goals into sections, and asks us to pick two goals for each section.  I went a step further and crafted an affirmation for each section to reinforce my intentions for the year.  Below, I list what I’ve come up with.

Prosperity/Abundance
1.  Spend my (free) time on activities that I enjoy/make me happy and could also potentially add revenue to my budget (i.e., writing and card reading).
2.  Work to pay off student loans, so that true saving can begin.
Affirmation:  “I spend my time and money in beneficial ways.”

Opportunities/Skill-sets
1.  Practice ukulele three times per week.
2.  Dedicate myself to spiritual development.
Affirmation:  “Practice is a part of ritual and learning.”

Physical body/Health
1.  Drink more smoothies (particularly at work) and more water.
2.  Work out more, particularly at home weights and yoga, three times per week.
Affirmation:  “I nourish and care for my body appropriately.”

Self-love
1.  Build up a meditative practice, three times per week.
2.  Take ritual baths one time per week.
Affirmation:  “I give myself space to relax and open up.”

My focus this year is going to be on the affirmations.  I really like the idea of keeping the affirmations central to my actions this year.  The goals that I have written are more guidelines; if I don’t accomplish the “three times per week,” I won’t beat myself up about it.  The affirmations are meant to keep my intentions on track.

Have you made any resolutions this year?  Do you like to use affirmations?  Let me know in the comments!  I hope you all have a great 2017!

exploringly yours,
Alaina xx

Exploration · Tarot · Writing

Autumnal Musings

There’s been a lot going on in my life – my inner and outer landscape – and I feel like I haven’t had adequate time to sit down and compost it all.  September and October speeded away from me.  The two months have been exciting and busy, and I’m grateful for all of the great memories.  But let me tell you: I’m looking forward to the hibernation season of winter, if only for some time to sit in space for myself.

In the beginning of September, I moved in with my honey.  The move itself went well, but there is still art to hang and little things around the apartment that I want to complete to make this place truly our home.  It is a big transition for both of us.  At 28, it’s both our first times living with a significant other.  He moved cities.  He started school full time.  I brought a cat (Gary!) in to our home.

Shortly after the move, I went on a weeklong trip to Germany and the Netherlands with a good friend from work.  I went from unpacking my life into this new apartment to packing a backpack for a whirlwind trip full of beer and nostalgia and sightseeing.

With that – September was nearly over.

October was a blur of celebration.  Over two long weekends, I traveled to two distance weddings with good friends.  One in Wisconsin, a 10-hour drive with my honey and best friend, and another in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  I flew up there, and drove back nearly 8 hours with my best friend.

I traveled to visit other friends, celebrated Halloween/Samhain, started reading tarot via email for others, and have worked overtime to earn some extra money before the holiday season.  There has been the tumult of this election season (that I wish would just end already) that brought out personal realizations, ukulele lessons, questioning of my personal beliefs and practices, and people from my past that I’ve seen over the last two months that have brought a lot of memories – wanted and unwanted – back to the forefront.  And in between all that, not much time for rest and reflection.

And now, it’s November.  Yesterday was my honey’s 29th birthday, and today is the party.  We are hosting nearly 15 people in our tiny apartment tonight for his annual Halloween themed birthday party.   My sister will be in town next week, and my family is visiting my grandparents’ grave, attending an Avett Brother’s concert, and hosting Thanksgiving a couple of weeks early.  Maybe after next weekend I’ll finally get some quiet time.  This little Hermit needs her alone time to recharge!

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I had a reading (above) recently from Julia over at Spiral Sea Tarot and the question was “What is my magical power?”  It was a fun Halloween themed reading, and I don’t really know what I was expecting as an answer, but what she turned up was actually quite interesting.  In summary, my magical power is how I can connect with others.  As stated above, I feel that I’m pretty Hermit-y.  But it made me think a lot about opening up more with others, being gracious, and fun.  She connected it to my ancestral line, and my maternal gramma was the most open and gracious and warm and welcoming person I’ve ever known.  I miss her dreadfully, and I know everyone who was in her life misses her, too.  She was just that kind of person.  She went through innumerable traumas of her own, but she was the mother that, when my own mother was young, would welcome any and all of my mother’s friends in to her home.  It’s nice to have that connection with her.  I know it’s a capability I have inside me, but it’s not one I tap in to often enough, maybe because of laziness or because of being jaded.  But it’s easy to go just a little more out of my way to connect with others, even if it’s a simple conversation at work or a text sent to a friend.

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This morning, I had an interesting card draw for myself (above).  I did a within-without-advice reading with The Wild Unknown, and let out a heavy “HUH” when I turned over the cards.  My honey, who was close by, asked, “Is that not good?”  Well, some heavy cards turned up, as you can see.  Basically, this is confirming that I have a lot to compost.  Lately, I’ve done a lot of internal questioning of where I am and what I’m doing – career-wise, life-wise, everything-wise.  What do I want and where do I want to be?

Within:  The Devil. I’ve been sitting with these questions, and returning negative self-talk answers, like a poison.  Instead of celebrating what I have accomplished, I’m questioning every turn and decision I’ve made.  And it’s all very self-centered bullshit.

Without:  Death.  Here, I feel closure is huge.  There is so much weird energy hanging around my head and my heart and it doesn’t know where to go.  I literally keep making up alternative story lines in my head, envisioning a different future of the path that I am on.  Death here is telling me that I need to put up my borders, close myself off from that energy.  It’s all fantasy.

Advice:  Two of Swords.  Stalemate.  Yes.  “There’s an answer that’s being blocked, maybe by choice?” says The Wild Unknown guidebook.  Exactly.

So, all that I’m trying to say here is I can’t wait for some quiet, some cold, some peace so that I can build the roads for myself.  Not fantasy, reality.  The infinite possibilities of life get me excited, but the possibilities must be grounded in some kind of reality.

That’s about what been going on for me this autumn.  I have a couple more blog posts to follow, inspired from posts that I’ve made on my Instagram, and are products of this crazy fall.

How have you been this season?  Leave a comment below!

exploringly yours,
Alaina

Writing

Using Instagram Responsibly

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You know those people on your Instagram or *insert other social media here* feed who seem to have time for IT ALL?  They go outside, they exercise, they read/write/tarot, have a day job, AND have kids, AND a ton of followers?  Yeah, I’m totally NOT one of those people.

Instagram is mostly a wormhole for me.  I end up places I don’t need to be, probably buying something I don’t really need.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Instagram (probably too much).  I love the tarot community that I’ve found on Instagram.  I love interacting with new friends, and I continue to learn, each day, from every one that I follow.

I read somewhere that we should do one thing every day to work toward our highest vision/version of ourself.  And I’ve been pushed toward making some personal changes.  So, it has come to a point where I need to start cutting back.  I scroll and post on Instagram so much that it has cut in to time that I want to use for reading, practicing tarot/ukulele, writing, exercising, other personal study, etc.

There is no way that I want to completely stop using Instagram, and I definitely don’t want to delete my account, however, I need to be more responsible with my usage.  I don’t have a personal business, Instagram isn’t helping my income, it’s only hurting my outside-of-social-media pursuits.

My goals include:

  1. Scrolling only on the bus before work and when I get home after work (after work will be when I can actually catch up on my feed).  The main goal here is to stop scrolling immediately in the morning, just before bed, and at work.
  2. Post more regularly on the blog/YouTube channel, which will be accompanied by an Instagram post, and which will hopefully take the place of posting so often on Instagram (because I will be creating more careful/better content).

This isn’t a vendetta against Instagram.  It’s just me needing to learn to use my time more wisely.  And hopefully posting this here will help keep me in line.  I plan to start this change in June, when I’m back from my trip.

How well – or not well – do you interact with social media?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

exploringly yours,

Alaina

Writing

Living Life Creatively

Before a couple of months ago, “creativity” was not really a word in my vocabulary.  Well, other than to say, “Yeah, I’m not very creative.”  I always wanted to be creative – I begged my mom for sketch books, oil paints, how-to-knit-kits, music lessons, dance lessons – but nothing stuck.  Who knows why – that’s a question for another day.

I made it to my late twenties not really doing anything creative (writing, occasionally, but not often enough), and it didn’t really bother me.  But, one day in August, I got a tattoo.  I went to this rad artist, Jen Munford, and, just making conversation, she asked: “So what do you do that is creative?”  I was like, what?  What a weird question; a question no one had ever asked me, a question my friends don’t ponder, a question that had never wandered in while I went about my life.

At the time, it didn’t make a difference.  I laughed and told her that I didn’t really do anything creative, but that I liked to write, and the conversation went on from there.

Looking back on it now, that was a turning point for me.  Who knows if it was getting my first tattoo, or the question that Jen asked me, but it kind of sent me off on a tangent that hasn’t stopped and that I am loving the hell out of.

And it’s not, like, huge changes, you know?  It’s little things here and there that have pushed me to pursue hobbies and to view “creativity” differently.  Creativity is not this massive, all imposing, behemoth (though I used to think that it was).  It’s five minutes here, and an afternoon there, spent doing something that makes your soul sing.  Hell, it doesn’t even have to be anything related to “art.”

Since August, I’ve started to learn tarot reading, my rock collection has exploded, I have spent more time meditating, I’ve started ukulele lessons, I bought a bike and planned a 150-mile bike tour, I’ve severely decreased my TV/Netflix viewing, I’ve cut my hair shorter than it has ever been, I completely filled more journals in that short time than I ever had in my life….. Since August, I’ve explored myself, my heart, how I want to spend my days – and that, my friends, is what it means to live life creatively, that’s what creativity is.

What do you do that is creative?  How do you like to spend your time?  Share in the comments 🙂

exploringly yours,
Alaina

Wanderlust · Writing

My Biography

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I grew up in an upper middle class suburb of Detroit.  Everything about the town – the people, the layout, the food – made me feel trapped.  My soul told me there was more to experience on this planet, an idea encouraged by my mom and my high school German teacher, Janie Barner.  My fondest memory of German class was a lesson Janie taught on travel vocabulary.  At the end she asked, “Now, who has been bitten by the travel bug?”  My heart swelled, and I knew I had been bitten, hard.  Within the next year, I travelled to Germany with my class, and the bug bit deeper.

I did not want to go to college.  Chiefly, I wanted to join the Peace Corps.  My parents pushed me toward the safer path of a four year degree.  I went away to school, earned a degree, a load of debt, and fell upon the perfect opportunity to work abroad.  After graduation, I spent two years teaching English in Austria and traveling Central and Eastern Europe.

I needed a special kind of courage to live and thrive on my own within a foreign country, system, and language.  I remember arriving in Bad Aussee, the small Austrian town where I would live and work.  It was dusk on a late summer day, and it had taken longer than anticipated to arrive.  I passed the address a couple of times before I found it.  My landlord stuck her head out of the window and greeted me.  I could barely understand a word from my landlord’s mouth!  Austrian German is different than the Hochdeutsch I had learned, and my landlord spoke in the unique Bad Aussee dialect.  With time, as the language became more comfortable, I learned to use dialect words in my German.

Months prior to my return to Michigan, I had doubts about how I would fit into my culture, my hometown, with my family and friends.  I moved back in with my parents, which provided a sense of comfort, and started nursing school.  Though, I missed Austria daily, my travels enabled me to see my hometown through a new filter.  I began to appreciate the quaint downtown and the nature trails.  But my desire to travel did not go away.  As the days marched on, and as nursing school became more of a nightmare, living with wanderlust was a lesson in patience.

Now, I am a nurse living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and I have had to readjust my feelings about travel.  Through my adolescent and college years, I saw travel as an escape from what I perceived as a boring life.  While I still feel wanderlust, I am learning that travel is more a frame of mind than a location.  With a sense of exploration, travel can be as easy as walking out the front door.

Exploringly yours,

Alaina

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(This was originally written as my first assignment – a biography – for the online travel writing course, MatadorU.)