Hitting the Reset Button: Choosing my “Word” for 2021

elaina avalos, live well be well, oneword365, hope

There’s always a spark of hope at the end of each year, as I think about what could be around the corner. That has been true for me every year – except in 2019 – funny enough. At the end of each year, as I dream about a New Year, instead of resolutions I don’t keep, I’ve instead chosen a word for my year. No matter what, by December as I get ready to choose a new word, I see the old word woven throughout my experiences – even if I didn’t initially. For instance, in 2014, my word was intentional. I was anything but intentional that year. Which turned out to be the lesson – on how to be intentional {haha} going forward.

2019 was a year filled with grief and loss. I ended the year on an equally frustrating and challenging note and was fearful about what 2020 would hold. Funny that I went into 2020 fearful and worried about what was around the corner. 2020 didn’t relent. It was hard in different ways than 2019 – nonetheless, still tiring. For a bit of background on just a couple of my struggles – from November 2019 until recently, I applied for jobs in multiple states and in more urban settings here in North Carolina. While I had a few interview opportunities, nothing panned out. Instead, I remained in the same job I’ve had since 2010, though in a different location. For anyone who knows me, I’ve felt ready to not be in that job for quite some time. I’ve sought new opportunities and a new path – a new dream and adventure, for far longer than I care to admit.

I also moved to a small apartment that I struggle with – since my previous landlords sold the house I rented. After a devastating hurricane {Florence} here in coastal NC, the housing market didn’t recover for quite awhile – and now people are selling like crazy {not renting out their homes – which is common in a military town}. I’m not in a position to buy – nor do I think I want to buy in my current city. Gosh, that’s all depressing. In other news, my word for 2020 was wellness – for a reason {see all the previously discussed depressing stuff}. This word will stick with me for a long time. My understanding of the depth of this word has transformed many aspects of my life. Or at least has begun to, as I figure out what it truly means to be well and live well. Wellness was the right word for 2020. And after this wild year, I’m even more convinced that wellness is absolutely an inside job.

As I gear up for 2021, a pattern is repeating over and over again as I’ve thought, prayed, and dreamt about the road ahead. I want to hope. I want to have faith that what’s around the corner is exactly what it needs to be. I want to believe that some of my hopes will no longer be deferred. I want to have faith that God is working everything out. After this year, in which so many have struggled, I know people are making jokes about not making wild declarations about 2021 {like this meme} . . .

We’ve collectively lived through {or should I say are living through} the pandemic killing so many needlessly, political upheaval in the U.S., racial injustice {and protests and more violence}, the loss of cultural icons, the crazy weird things that have happened, food and product shortages, massive economic turmoil, and well – I could go on of course. It’s hard to even imagine what hope looks like in 2021. And for me, who questions why a good God allows so much suffering, my faith has more questions than answers, too. I think that’s true for many. I personally feel it’s doubly hard, because 2019 was so very painful.

Which brings me to 2021. I’m hitting the reset button. For the first time, I’ve got two words: hope & faith. My words for 2021 are repeats. Faith was a 2009 or 2010 word. Hope was a little more recently. I feel a bit like hope and faith are butterflies in a cocoon. They’re longing to break out of the chrysalis. I am too. While I am not going to make a big long list of what I plan to accomplish in 2021 and I can’t even imagine what tomorrow will be like, let alone six months from now – I do know that hope & faith are working their way back out.

I don’t know what 2021 holds for me or our crazy world, but I’m clinging to hope & faith.

Are you a New Years resolution person? Or do you pick a word?

The First Step Toward Change

elaina avalos, take the first step, accomplish goals, chasing dreams, nathaniel branden

My apartment is a disaster because I’m halfway through taking down the Christmas decorations. I have a second bedroom to organize & clean out {went from a 4 bedroom house to a small 2 bedroom apartment}. I have a bunch of food to meal prep for my week and I need to write. I’ve been up since 7:00 AM, but I’ve accomplished next to nothing. Nonetheless, I am reminding myself to apply liberal helpings of grace on myself. I still need to {and will} accomplish what’s in front of me {the above mentioned items are just the tip of the iceberg}. So while the day isn’t going as planned & there’s a huge mess, I also know that this year and last, were hard and exhausting. I’m getting back to normal. But after what I’ve been through, I can’t expect perfection nor should I. I am aware of my limitations and my strengths and what I need to do, to accomplish what lies ahead. That is the first step – awareness of what I need to do to change and acknowledgement of my current limitations.

In a world where we’re constantly inundated by what everyone else is doing and accomplishing – shared online in a perfect photo – it’s overwhelming and honestly, it’s discouraging. While there are many out there I am encouraged by – it’s usually those who are real about life – in their triumphs and failures, that are most encouraging to me. But I have already taken the first steps, not only to accomplish what I want to accomplish while away from the office, but in the upcoming year, too. Those are the first two steps of change – awareness and acceptance.

If you’re anything like me and you are holding yourself to standards that are based in superficial or artificial requirements or because you’re comparing yourself to others – give yourself a break. While the goals are still ahead, the Christmas mess still needs to be cleaned up, and my healthy meals still need to be made – what good is beating myself up? What do you accomplish by beating yourself up? Usually very little except keeping yourself stalled in place.

Take the first step toward change. Then take the second step. And then give yourself some grace along the way.

How do you motivate yourself when you have a goal to accomplish?

Merry Christmas!

While I am sure I will have more to say on 2020, between the 26th and the 31st, I hope that you have a Merry Christmas – even if it’s quiet and not quite like you hoped. It surely isn’t for me. I know countless others feel that way too. It has been a hard year. As we celebrate Christmas and gear up for the end of 2020, be kind to yourself. I hope you have a peaceful & joy-filled holiday.

A Meal Shared

elaina avalos, live well be well

In the late days of spring, when the chill is gone and summer sits right at the gate, quietly whispering its promise, I’ll cook a meal, our first to be eaten outside for months. The table will be surrounded by candles and white lights. The flowers I found at the farmer’s market gracing the table with pops of color.

In the kitchen, with Pandora choosing our soundtrack, I’ll dance around, my spirit light and full of hope. I don’t know why it is that cooking does this for me {or maybe I do}, but it gives me joy.

Coq Au Vin, parsley potatoes and if I want to really Julia Child it, buttered green peas. There’s a joy that takes over me when in the kitchen, but it increases when I’m cooking for others. The routine of chopping, pouring and measuring is better than therapy. Cooking for another increases this soul satisfaction.

When the food is ready and we sit to eat, you’ll pour the wine – perhaps a red from the southern Rhone Valley? I’ll wait for you to take the first bite. And then I will wait for your approval (which, I will get). But I’ll wait with anticipation just the same.

There’s something so absolutely beautiful about a meal shared. Food, made well, and with passion, is sensual and life-giving. It meets a basic need for nourishment. And yet, there’s something so luxurious about the process of creating. And then, the slow process of savoring a meal with company you treasure, begins.