I’m at a Crossroads

The rental market is challenging these days. I was faced with a recent ultimatum – pay $400 more in rent than my noisy, moldy (yes) apartment is worth, for month to month – since I don’t know where I want to be. Or, sign a year lease for around the same as what I was paying before. But if I did that, I’d be locked into a year lease in a place that I hate – that also isn’t being cared for by management – as it should.

I applied to live in a housing development that I was told there was minimal wait for. I contemplated my options, knew $200 more was way too much – so I made a judgment call that I thought was best – give notice on the apartment & move into this neighborhood with no wait. Bonuses to the other neighborhood included utilities included, no lawn upkeep, and easy commute.

The rental market in my area is awful. It has been since a hurricane in the fall of 2018. But with the real estate market being what it is, it’s even worse. More people here, are putting their homes on the market than ever before (at least in my memory). Rental prices have gone up, too. Competition for rentals is like it was after the hurricane blew through.

But here I am. Weeks away from moving and I am actually extremely low on the waiting list (which they don’t tell you until you apply). I’m so low it could be a year or more. Apparently, the advice given by a member of their staff was incorrect. So what do I do now? I saw a house today (I saw several), but I’m not sure it’s the one. Even though it was just listed, the management company has already said if I don’t apply today, I shouldn’t fill out the application without talking to them because it will likely be rented already.

This is quite the mess for me. And while this sounds like it’s just about housing, it’s not. It’s also about my faith. My faith has been so severely tested in the last few years. At every turn I’ve felt I’ve made good decisions that have led me to some situations that have caused extreme stress – at best. But I thought I was making very sound decisions – weighing things carefully and jumping in – under what I believed were correct motives – only to be utterly crushed. Or in the case of my home life – constant noise and drama (and calling cops and CPS on neighbors and living with mold that doesn’t get fixed properly) at home. Who wants to be stressed at work and then come home for more? I certainly don’t.

So here I am. A couple weeks shy of moving and I have no idea where I’m going. That’s certainly a problem. But maybe harder for me – am I ever going to find confidence in my decision making abilities again? As someone who has a faith that I believe should guide me and I pray and feel that I have been given wisdom to make a decision based on advice given to me about housing available to me, then it puts me in a terrible position, seems like something is off somewhere.

The truth is, I don’t want to stay in this area. But all attempts at applying for work out of the area have failed miserably. No matter what, I feel like I’m placed in positions where I’m forced to choose between options I don’t like. And then when I feel like I have more clarity, to make some decision, I end up worse off than before. What the hell is that about?

I’ve felt at such a crossroads for so long. I know what I want and hope for and yet it seems so far out of reach. I’m at a crossroads. But I’ve been here before. And my options stink. Because I can’t seem to get where I want to go.

How does one decide what to do in a situation like this? I’ll tell you what I know for sure, I long for change and the hopes and dreams fulfilled that come with moving on. But here I am. Stuck between equally crappy options that appear so far from what I hoped would be happening right now.

What would you do?

Hardwiring Happiness: Dr. Rick Hanson

My favorite podcast – Being Well, has been a huge blessing to me over this last year. I can’t say that I’ve perfected any of the concepts I’m learning. Haha. In fact, this week, my first back to work after a lovely break, revealed that I have much to learn. It was a rough week as I face some things I haven’t wanted to face. But I have been learning a great deal, nonetheless. I get a little closer to where I want to be, all of the time. Today, I had a few minutes to listen to these videos, after working on some packing – as I prepare to move. Packing before a move is always stressful to me. I can get overwhelmed. I was definitely feeling that today. Slowing down to watch these left me with a sense of hope, in spite of what I had been feeling in the moment.

In this video, Dr. Hanson talks to his son, Forrest about “taking in the good.” He talks about ways you can change your brain – for the better. There was a key moment that really left me with a sense that no matter where I am or what I am doing, happiness and contentment are possible. Around the 2:48 mark is when he talks about this concept that you can take in the good and have it transform your day instead of the day being a “long, slow slog.” I loved this part (2:48-4:30).

I also watched the video below – Hardwiring Happiness: Dr. Rick Hanson. In this Tedx Talk, Dr. Hanson talks about turning experiences into the “happiness, resilience” and other strengths we need to have happy and contended lives.

From the description:

Hardwiring Happiness : The Hidden Power of Everyday Experiences on the Modern Brain.
How to overcome the Brain’s Negativity Bias. Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist and the author of Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence, best selling author of Buddha’s Brain, founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom and an Affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, he’s been an invited speaker at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and taught in meditation centers worldwide.

This is seriously good stuff and truly excites me on this journey to healing (that I’ve been on since my (foster) son left my home).

Never Walk Away From Love

elaina avalos, never walk away from love, the bold type, oliver grayson

I never start my year with resolutions and a list of “shoulds.” I’ve done that to myself twice already in the last five days. I was determined to do 30 days of yoga with Adriene Mishler. I didn’t take into account how very poorly I’m feeling right now. I have to ease into this. And I started this crazy Bloganuary thing and look, dude – I just can’t. I’m not good with writing prompts because I genuinely just don’t care about a lot things. 🙂

It doesn’t help that this new year has caused me to face, or begin to face, that someone I cared for – just didn’t care for me. We all know that actions speak louder than words. But sometimes feelings can blind a girl a little – delaying reality. So here I am, finally facing reality. Sort of. I will never, ever – never in the history of ever – stop being a romantic, who loves love. And I will never stop being real about how much I care or who I care about. I am, however, facing my reality.

Which brings me to my new favorite show, that I wished I’d watch, while it was airing. It’s The Bold Type from Freeform. I am absolutely loving this show even though it’s geared toward the millennial crowd (the younger end of that generation). I’m enjoying the friendships and the weird & wonderful work sitch there. If only work environments were actually like Scarlet magazine. One of the storylines I love the most, is the romantic relationship between Sutton Brady and one of the members of the publishing company’s board, Richard Hunter. Sutton is my favorite character in general. But when she faces the hard choice between her career, avoiding rumors, and her relationship – she chooses her career. It’s unfortunate that we are still making choices that cost us on either the personal end or the work end. But I digress.

As I’ve watched the first two seasons, I’ve really hoped that Sutton and Richard would get back together. Sutton’s boss, Oliver, the head of the fashion department for the magazine, is rarely personal with Sutton – as his assistant. But he gets personal and a crying Sutton shares that she made a horrible decision to let Richard go. In reply, Oliver, tells her to go back to New York (they’re in Paris for Fashion Week) and tell him how she feels. Sutton says, “I can’t just leave.” Oliver says, “I’m telling you to. Never walk away from love. No white after Labor Day. And never walk away from love.”

That line – it got me. I might have cried. I’ve been, in spite of my usual stance of taking risks and remaining firmly outside of my comfort zone – as much as possible, regretting sharing my heart so openly. Especially to one who just doesn’t care about me. That’s a shitty feeling, you know? This isn’t an exact correlation here, so work with me. 🙂

What if it had been though? What if taking the risk to open my heart was the right call? Clearly it wasn’t. I mean, it didn’t mean anything to him. But what it it had? So here I am – realizing that looking like a freaking idiot is well worth the risk, in spite of the hurt. Because you know – never wear white after Labor Day and never walk away from love.

On that note, the other thing I’m not going to do in January 2022, or any other month this year, is should on myself because I was real and the woman I am made to be. So here’s to continuing to be sincere and sharing my heart even when it hurts.

Never walk away from love.

Favorite Childhood Toys

For today’s Bloganuary post, the prompt is What was your favorite toy as a child? It’s hard to pick as I had a few favorites. They included Strawberry Shortcake, my Barbies, and any of my baby dolls. But my absolute favorite was a Holly Hobbie doll (Holly Hobbie’s friend, Heather). The vintage Holly Hobbie Heather doll, looked like the one above.

My “Holly Hobbie” doll wasn’t known as Holly Hobbie or Heather, however. I called her “Amy.” My Amy doll went everywhere with me. When I went to my grandparent’s house for the weekend, Amy came with me. My Amy doll was so well loved that my Grandma Light (mom’s mom) performed a bit of a facelift on her because she was starting to fall apart. Amy got a new face (haha) and dress. My Grandma was an awesome seamstress.

I loved her so much for everything she did for us. I was quite worried about how things would turn out with the Amy doll (I said she was my favorite) and my Grandma was so sweet to humor me and take such loving care with something that was so important to me. I actually still have my Holly Hobbie doll. This is what my loving Grandma did for me so long ago. 🙂 Grandma even made me a sack (behind the doll) to carry her, my favorite blanket, and any other toys when I would go to see my dad or other grandparents.

I have some very sweet handmade things from my Grandma, in addition to her facelift on the Holly Hobbie doll. 🙂 She made me clothes and even purses. Here’s one I have saved. Isn’t that sweet?

I was definitely a kid that loved her dolls, barbies, playing house, and anything related to being a mom, having a home, and caring for others. So it’s not surprising that my favorite toys revolved around that.

It was fun to take this little walk down memory lane for #Bloganuary.

Comfort Zones

Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC, elaina avalos
Summer of 2017

I just found out a few short minutes ago, that WordPress is holding its first ever “Bloganuary” challenge. They’ll be sharing one writing prompt per day. The goal is to write one post each day, to go along with these prompts. I’m two-days behind, but being late to the party has never stopped me before – so here I am. Today’s prompt is to “write about the last time you left your comfort zone.”

I have many examples of stepping outside my comfort zone. I’m a weird person that likes home and the routine of it. I’m an introvert. I’ll go out of my way to not have to deal with people (because I spend all day being extroverted). But I also love a good adventure. I could pack up and move to Africa or Spain, tomorrow – if I felt it was the right call for me. I’ve pushed myself to leave comfort many times – since my very early 20s. The biggest example of this was in 1999 – when I left behind California, my family, my university (I was still about 2 years shy of getting my Bachelor’s degree), and everything I’d ever known in Southern California, for the East Coast.

I had worked with kids up until that point – as a nanny and a tutor in Orange County, California group homes for foster kids. I loved working with children. To be honest, I never saw myself having a career working with kids because I had such a strong belief I would be a mon. I figured that’s where all my kid energy would be focused. I sometimes wonder if I should have gone into a career working with kiddos. All that to say, I am really good with kids – to include kids from very hard places and with challenging backgrounds. I interviewed for nanny jobs in several places to include Buies Creek, NC, Connecticut, and all over the Bay Area. But it was the Washington D.C, area that won my heart.

U.S. Capital, Elaina Avalos
The last time I was in D.C. I stumbled onto a concert. It was so cool. Serendipity.

So off I went. I took a nanny job living a couple blocks from the “Courthouse” neighborhood in Arlington, VA. I was in love from the moment I arrived. In love with DC, Arlington, and this new little life I had created. I’m a huge history and political nerd & living in that area was a constant source of joy and excitement. I left my comfort zone and went to a place where there’s snow, ice (I had never seen snow fall ever before in my life – let alone drive in snow or ice), and metros to take you where you want to go. I adored most everything about life there.

But it wasn’t easy. I had to learn some lessons the hard way. Aren’t most of us like that in our early 20s? I wasn’t smart about some things. I had a lot to learn. But, I lived. I did things I’d dreamed of doing. I met my church/small group friends at the Tidal Basin for lunch – sitting under blossoming cherry trees. I was at the Supreme Court when big decisions about our 2000 election, impacted our country. I stood on the National Mall the day President Bush was inaugurated (it was a freezing misty rain that day), and I watched fireworks on July 4th, from the Iwo Jima memorial. I would eventually work for a Bush political appointee – but that’s a story for another day.

I will always be proud of myself for leaving my comfort zone and choosing to be uncomfortable some of the time, because it gave me some incredible experiences. I will always be grateful for those. Even with some things about those years I wished I’d done differently, I will never regret taking the leap. I think comfort zones are fine & good – for a while. But shaking ourselves and our lives up a bit, is often where we learn and grow the most.

Arlington Virginia, Elaina Avalos
Looking toward Arlington – near the Lincoln memorial.

How about you? What are some comfort zones you’ve left behind?