Happy 7th Birthday Living Out Loud!

Happy 7th Birthday Living Out Loud!

Has it already been 7 years?  I started this blog at the end of 2012 when I was in such a dark place that nothing seemed to matter.  I was going through the motions of life and everything felt black, white, or overly grey.  I was brokenhearted and just trying to survive.  The thought of thriving felt like a distant dream far beyond reach.

Creating Living Out Loud added color to my life.  My struggles became stories and experiences were grand adventures.  I already loved taking millions of pictures, but blogging gave my pictures new purpose.

At first I wanted to be somewhat anonymous even though I signed my paintings with my full name.  It became difficult for me to post especially in 2013-2015 because I did not have a computer or a good phone, but I tried to revisit the blog when I could.  I had no clue what I was doing when I started and I never ever thought that I would become a computer person in the future, but it is funny how we find our direction with time.

2012:

I usually have a tendency to highlight the ending of 2012 because it was when I started this blog, but I forget about all the good and wonderful things that happened that year.  I was a swim coach and I worked at the local swim shop.  I was also treasurer on the board of a non-profit that was close to my heart.  I even gave a speech telling my story at our 1st charity event.  It was a night to remember.  I even got to slip in a line about how I could barely walk because I was living on eggshells and in constant fear and here I was now walking confidently in 5 inch stilettos!

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They used my watercolor painting for the event poster ❤ It was such an honor
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It was a magical night with some of my favorite people ❤

My dad was working for Intel in Hillsboro, Oregon so I was living at home to help my mom and my sister and got to spend a lot of time with family.  I also dated my best friend and first love for the first 4 months of the year.  We mutually decided to break up when he went to Taiwan to teach English.  He wanted to stay together, but I didn’t want to hold him back.  This breakup broke my heart, but ultimately helped me find my way to this beautiful blogging world.

Notable posts from 2012:

2013:

By the end of 2012 my depression had taken a turn for the worst.  I was losing myself then in February the ground got pulled from beneath me.  There was nowhere to go, but up.  I moved out and worked two more jobs in addition to my coaching job.  In March, my friend Evangeline helped me find a place on State Ave and even though I had a car I started taking the bus and walking to one of my jobs to save money.

I did not love myself back in 2013.  In fact, I kind of hated myself and was going through a bit of a quarter-life-crisis which was kind of fitting for being 24.  I respect my determination and willingness to work hard and make sacrifices just to make ends meet.  It was a challenging time and I got through it with the help of my friends.  At that time, I had minimal contact with my family and decided to focus on myself and moving forward with my life.

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I coached swim team in the evenings then was the front desk girl at the local Y where I opened 3-4 times a week.  My shift ended around 10 and I headed to an upscale health club to teach private swimming lessons in the afternoon, then ended my days back at the pool coaching swim team.  Many of my weekends were spent at swim meets.

In August of 2013 I moved into a house of personal trainers.  It was a fun place to live and I loved cuddling with their cats.  I also made the hard decision to leave my first swim team that October and I got to work with the dream team (my mentor and one of the girls I used to swim with.)  This job took a 1 hour long commute x2 5 days a week.  I could feel myself getting a little burned out, but I stuck with it as long as I could.  It wasn’t the team, but the people I worked with who made the experience great.

Notable 2013 Posts:

2014:

2014 was half bitter and half sweet.  At the end of 2013 I started seeing a guy who ended up being a totally jealous control freak.  It did not last long especially since I was so busy working and struggling.  I continued grinding hard working those 3 jobs and I also picked up a 4th one teaching water group fitness to a retirement community.  I enjoyed it, but my life was stressful because each minute was either spent working or preparing for the next job.

My car broke down in March of 2014 which turned out to be a nightmare.  I was offered higher pay at my coaching job, but I did not want to move to Bellevue or near Seattle so I quit and applied to 30 jobs.  During this process, I continued to take the bus to work.  None of my applications came through luckily, I was offered a full-time position at the health club I worked at.

In May my roommates decided to raise rent on me and it felt unfair because I was only home between the hours of 10 pm and often left by 7 am.  I had no computer and never showered at home yet they were charging me for internet and probably most of the power bill.  Thankfully a friend of mine helped me get in touch with her friend K Ly who became my new roommate in June.

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Can you see the definite divide in these pictures.  From the end of 2012 to the beginning of 2014 I was progressively gaining more and more weight.  Life was so stressful and I coped with food.  Thankfully, I met my massage therapist / personal trainer who helped me get my health back on track and my friends at the time were more health conscious.  I also lost nearly 200 pounds when I broke up with tha jerk!

I needed those changes that took place in my life in 2014.  It was so nice to just have one location that I worked at.  By July I was able to buy a car and my life kept getting better and better.  I was offered the head coach of the swim team and it was an absolute honor to coach those swimmers.  Some of the swimmers from my other teams even followed me there.

Now that I think about it, some of my favorite memories happened in 2014.  I loved the contrast in my life and how things started to finally come together after struggling for so long.  I even decided to go on the family vacation in August.  I had been single from the spring and all summer long and it gave me a chance to focus on myself.

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Family vacation and the beginning of my “Golden Year”

I am glad I went on that family vacation with my family.  In fact, it ended up being the last vacation we went on together with my Grandma.  The magic continued through the end of that year.

One day my friend Christina and I decided to go out for an impromptu drink on a Friday night and we met our friend Marlena who had 2 guys with her.  I didn’t know it back then, but I had just met my man.

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We had our work Christmas party which was a lot of fun.

He invited me to Thanksgiving with his family and also Christmas Eve then completely stopped talking to me after Christmas…

Some 2014 Posts:

2015:

I was kind of devastated about being ghosted because I did not know what was wrong.  He just said, “I’m sorry I am unsure of myself and the world.”  At the age of 26 we were all feeling that way.

I continued working on myself and pushing myself to be better.  I spent New Year’s Eve with my friends Kathy Morris and Mica and spent the night at Kathy’s.  The next day Kathy went with me to the Polar Bear Plunge.

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Kathy Morris and I ❤

Kathy sadly passed away just this past year in 2019, but her memory lives on forever.  My friends Mica and Diana and I were able to get in touch with her on the phone on Last New Years’ Day.  Tell your friends you love them because you never know when it will be the last time.

2015 was also a year to remember.  Even though I was sad about the personal loss I continued to work on myself and I spent a lot of time with my friends.  I had a workout buddy at work and hung out with friends on the weekends.

After my Mixxedfit workshop on February 28th my man got in touch with me and we started dating once again.  He realized that he missed me and wanted another chance.  In May of 2015 we bought our 1st house.  And in June he graduated with his undergrad degree in computer science.  It was an exciting time and I was happy to be a part of his life during these major milestones.

This was also an exciting time for me because I finally was going to start classes at the same University.  It was a dream for me to go back to school and it felt almost unreal that I would finally get my chance.  My full-time job was getting stagnant and they had offered me an aquatics director position then gave the job to a girl who didn’t even know how to swim.

In June I interviewed for a fulltime job at a local highschool and they offered it to me on the spot.  That fall I was going to be working fulltime and be a full time student.  I had a lot to look forward to!

That fall was hectic with school and work.  My partner and I got our passports then went to Canada the day our passports arrived in the mail.  Immediately after he got a job in Seattle which required a killer commute that was often over 2.5 hours just one way.  We ended up getting an apartment in Seattle in addition to our house.  I was kind of lonely and my sister and her bf moved in with us that December.

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These are pictures of me from 2012-2015.  Not to be full of myself or anything 😉

A Few of my Favorite 2015 Posts:

2016:

I was grinding at the beginning of 2016 working full time and being a full-time student.  It was also hard to only see my partner on the weekends, but we made it work.  I spent a lot of time with my sister and started going to the gym.  I was getting such a great routine down.

Then one day in February my partner surprised me with a Puppy?!?!

Her name was Ruby and she was adorable and a tremendous amount of work.  It was a blessing that my sister lived with me and was able to let her out and feed her while I was at work.  In the springtime my life got even busier because I started taking nighttime classes including Statistics.  Somehow I got through it all!

For my birthday that year, my partner got us tickets to New Zealand.  We were going to move there forever and pursue citizenship.  It was an adventure of a lifetime and the first time we had been on an airplane together.

We spent our time in Auckland which was a charming place.  We even bought a car while we were there, but we missed our cats so much.  I got enrolled in an online medical coding program and was ready to transfer my credits.  One evening we went out for beers and talked about possibly visiting home for Christmas (it was September at that point.)

When we got home we realized that if we left that Sunday I could make it home in time for Computer Science Foundations at school by Monday.  It was a tight squeeze, but totally possible.  So on Saturday we sold our car then headed back to the states.  It was a whirlwind for sure.

Computer Science Foundations was challenging.  During Thanksgiving break we started building yurts and on Christmas Eve we bought a motor home.  2016 was another year to remember.  At that point we had already lived in 3/4 rooms in our house.

Posts from 2016:

2017:

2017 was the year that I was constantly sick or injured.  I was a sophomore in college and I decided to take a much-needed break from coding.  I took a 2 quarter long course called “Dancing Molecules Dancing Bodies” it was 16 credits per quarter and it covered Anatomy and Physiology, Biology, Chemistry, and Dance.  I really loved this program and learned a lot.

I had never thought of myself as a dancer up to that point, but after that I felt like a dancer in in the Spring quarter I took a formal ballet class to compliment my program.  It was strenuous.  Additionally, my partner got a full time job in Christchurch, New Zealand and I decided to stay back for school and to manage our house which had 4 tenants in addition to me at the time.  It was chaotic and stressful and I had a long distance relationship, but it all worked out.

My Dad was in the hospital for kidney failure and lung complications, and my mom was in the same hospital because she broke her arm.  I ended up being out of commission because I tore my hamstring and it was awful.  Somehow I made it through that quarter.  I almost forgot to mention that my dance professor died in the middle of spring quarter.  It really was a sad time…  My partner missed us so much and came home.  He had started a new online business in New Zealand and it was taking off.  His NZ job also paid him to work remotely.

I spent the end of 2017 super sick.  It was a nightmare and I had to take a quarter off from school to heal and recover.  We had our past renters move out and then got just one renter.  I was also reunited with my sister which was so nice after being apart for a year.

Posts from 2017, but not all of them:

2018:

At this point I knew that I had to make some major changes.  2017 taught me that I was awful at dealing with stress and it was manifesting itself in the form of ailments and injuries.  I started practicing Buti Yoga and meditation and decided to kick of my weightloss journey.  2018 was also the year that I would turn 30 and I did not want my life to go downhill from there.

There was a point when I was so sick that I could not remember what I was learning no matter how hard I tried.  I decided to revisit the Python programming language and I soon realized that I could still code.  I spent winter quarter coding and designing a robotic cat toy.  It is funny how things come full circle like that!

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I started to embrace the nerdlife once again and was loving it!

I took a Mixxedfit Instructor training with my friend Danika.  It was so nice that it took place right there in my home town.  This time around it was easier than when I took it back in 2015.  After winter quarter ended I decided that I needed another change of pace and I took a 16 credit Music Theory Intensive program.

This music theory intensive required the students to take music lessons each week.  I decided to take voice lessons.  Meanwhile, my partner and I had started building geodesic domes in our living room and the first one sold just 30 minutes after we finished building it.  We drove all the way to Forks, Washington to deliver and build it.

My friend Diana also said on facebook that she was looking for a small dog.  I got super excited and told her about Ruby.  It was love at first site and she adopted Ruby.  She also invited me to watch her perform with her harp at an open mic at The Green Lady.  I should have known that she would convince me to perform with her.  It was my very first open mic and I was absolutely terrified.  You can probably hear it in my voice.

Diana adopting Ruby set off a positive chain reaction.  That May we sold our first house and were determined to turn 30 in a new place.

On June 1st of 2018 we took two cars, two cats, and my sister on an adventure of a lifetime.  We left Washington state that Friday and drove across the country down to Florida to meet with our biohacker friends.

My sister had to head back to Washington almost immediately after we arrived in Jacksonville.  I was so thankful that we had this epic adventure together the year that she turned 20 and I turned 30.  I will treasure those memories forever.

We decided that Jacksonville was not for us and we left on Friday morning and drove North until we arrived in Portland, Maine on Sunday morning.  Our Mainecoon cats got to visit their motherland and it was a beautiful place to spend the summer.  We lived in a basement apartment in Portland.  My partner was the software engineer for a Lobster selling company and I worked at the Maine Cryospa.  This was  a great fit for me at the time.  We were an all female staff and the other girls I worked with were also focused on getting healthy.  I made some great friends during my time at the cryospa.  It was in Maine that I finally started to face my awful gym phobia.

In September we bought our 2nd house in Northern Maine and I decided to go back to my hometown for 10 weeks to take a program on campus.

I took a program called “Productions, Profits, and People.”  When I wasn’t at school I was doing homework or at the gym taking a Zumba class or lifting.  I also managed to intermittent fast and follow a ketogenic meal plan with the help of my friend Diana.  I really enjoyed focusing on my studies and reconnecting with friends and family while I was home.

Favs from 2018:

2019:

We spent New Year’s Day swimming in the sound (the same way we spent Christmas Eve) the water was icy and I felt so alive!  At the end of 2018 my partner flew from Maine to be with me.  We spent the holidays with his parents then decided that we wanted to go some place much warmer than Maine.  We toyed with the idea of Hawaii, but back then we were just looking at the island of Oahu.  Together we decided that Scottsdale, Arizona would be easier to get to logistics wise and a much easier place for our cats.  So in January we flew to Scottsdale, Arizona!

Scottsdale, Arizona is a beautiful place especially in the winter time.  We moved into an upscale townhome and I was able to focus on my fitness.  I made great progress and grew stronger everyday.  Our cats joined us in March and in April I took over the online businesses.

In April we decided to buy houses in Hawaii.  I was even able to call my Grandma and tell her about it.  I am so glad that I did because it was the last time I got to talk with her before she passed away.  On May 1st we decided to return to our home town and stay with my friend Diana then my partner’s parents before flying to Hawaii.

Springtime is truly stunning in Olympia, Washington.  If you ever have to visit the Pacific Northwest, you should definitely go in the springtime.  The winter gets too cold and the summers have been hot and smoky.  The falls are nice, but they get cold so springtime is the best time to visit.  I am so glad that we had this time to relax and regroup before our next adventure.  My partner’s parents also took our kitties in for 4 months and then sent them to us in Hawaii.  Did you know that Hawaii is one of the most challenging places in the world to import cats?

I have been living in paradise and loving every single moment of it.  Most days I wake up and feel like I am dreaming because this is the life that I used to dream about…Actually, I used to dream about one day being able to visit Hawaii for at least a week just to see it, but now I live here.

Wow!  This has been a novel, hasn’t it.  I had a lot to cover in the past 7 years and I feel so thankful for all the laughter and the tears.

If you are still here with me reading, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Thank you for following me on my adventures at Living out Loud and for reading about my ups, downs, losses, and wins.  You really do mean the world to me.

Blogging and this beautiful community has been a true gift that keeps on giving.  I feel blessed to be encouraged and inspired by all of you and am looking forward to the future.

I love you.

❤ Alana

13 thoughts on “Happy 7th Birthday Living Out Loud!

  1. Happy blogging birthday! 2013 seems like it was an awful year for everyone and I’m glad you made your way back. Thank you for sharing your stories with us and I love seeing the photos of your life since 2012. Love the scrapbooks!

    ❤️ Jessica

    1. Thank you Jessica! Yes, thank goodness that 2013 year is over for good. So much pain and pressure for everyone. I guess we are diamonds under pressure. The cuts and scratches add facets and brilliance. I am so thankful for change and progress. Thank you for visiting me. That might have been the most involved blog post I have written 🙂
      I am so glad we have connected through this beautiful blogging community!

      ❤ Alana

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