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The Job Search Continues . . .

Elaina Avalos Events Manager, Elaina Avalos Events and Communications, Elaina Avalos

My job search continues and has intensified. As part of the search and application process, I’ve put together a portfolio that can be printed or viewed on my website. As I begin applying, with renewed focus, I am hopeful about the next steps in my journey. I’m also excited about the prospect of doing something I’ve wanted to for so long.

One of the things that I have always disliked about the job search process, is writing cover letters. As a writer, this always occurred to me as odd. Nonetheless, I have never cared for the process. A few months ago, I talked to a recruiter. She gave me some great advice that altered my view of the search process and how I look at my resume (or other parts of the application process).

Primarily, she encouraged me to “tell my story” via my resume, portfolio, etc. Up until now, I haven’t done that. At least to some degree, part of the reason for that, is tied into the type of professional environment I have been in (for nearly the entirety of my professional life). As I turn my attention toward a career change as a creative, it’s critical, however – that I make these adjustments. I am looking forward to what is ahead . . .

What is your least favorite part of the job application process? Do you have a favorite? I would imagine most people would say no to that last question. But if you do enjoy it – what do you enjoy about it?

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NaNoWriMo 2022

As of yesterday, I finished #NaNoWriMo2022. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in the month of Nov. I’m not finished editing/writing this novel. But I did put in about 57,000 words written/edited in the month of November. Only 30,000-50,000 more to go. 🤣📝👩🏽‍💻✍🏼

I’ve worked on this book for a while. But most don’t know that it has gone through massive changes bringing me to what is a completely new book today. Here’s an excerpt from A Thousand Years…

“2005
The day I was born, a violent storm ripped through our community. It was the kind of story legends are made of – or so I’ve been told for all of my 21 years. Walls of torrential rain fell, washing away parts of the mountainsides, flooding streets, and taking out a section of the highway, blocking off the Big Sur coastline from the hospital – 45 minutes away. Newscasters from the city called it the storm of the century. Of course, there were many more of those to come to California over the years – land of fire and mudslide that we are. The California Highway Patrol, local law enforcement, and even CalTrans workers were pulling people out of trapped vehicles all over. As all of this was going on around my mom and dad, who were pulled over on the side of the highway – trapped from getting to the hospital. I entered the world like a screaming wild thing, just as my son did, and as my mom is fond of saying to anyone who will listen, in my granddad’s beat up old truck.

My mom and grandma used to tell me that the way I entered the world was a sign of what was to become of me. Not a good sign, by the way. They have always said I am as wild as the storm I was born in the middle of. Perhaps. Or perhaps the wild around me as I entered the world that day, is actually a sign of how I was born to shake things up. Instead of being born in a sterile hospital, unforgiving amounts of rain fell on the truck, and crazy wind distracted my dad from focusing fully on my mom. I entered the world determined. Nothing has changed in 21 years. I doubt it ever will, in spite of the expectations that follow me around.”

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Chasing Dreams

Today has been a little rough. I’ve felt it all afternoon – this lingering sadness. I’d been tracking this day for a while. But in my distraction over facing a new week (when I don’t want to), it slipped from the forefront of my mind. But it all came back a little bit ago & now I know why today has been rough. Today marks six months since my baby brother passed away.

His death has been tough to process on so many levels. The thing I keep going back to besides missing him – is how very precious our time is. I make constant excuses. “I’ll start on my plan once I get through holiday events. I’ll make a decision after __. I’ll just stay a little bit longer – it makes the most logical sense.” 🤬👎🏼🤮

But time marches on. I know my brother felt time breathing down his neck, too. He was getting older and faced the need to get healthier. He was pursuing that when he passed away. But he had some things that he hadn’t been able to do yet. I know it weighed on him.

Six months since losing my brother. And time passes on without moves in the direction I want to go in. If there’s anything good that can come from grief and losing your only sibling, I hope it’s that I finally get off my @$& and create the life I know I’m meant to live.

I need to be chasing dreams, not counting down days until my next break from work.

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It Always Comes Back

a thousand years, elaina avalos, wild things,

“I could love you or wait for you,
For a thousand years and never
Reach the end of the longing.”

I wrote that about you in December of 2020. I think I reach the end of the longing from time to time. Mostly when I get mad at you for disappearing and not looking back. But it always comes back – the longing, that is. It is weeks like this one, I am convinced I will always miss you.



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I’ve Lost Enough Time

I’ve had a heck of a day. 

Anxiety has been out of this world – stealing time on this last day of the Veterans Day weekend. I’ve worked enough hours lately that after a quick work task this morning, I was planning on spending my last day at home – writing, cooking, & decorating.

That’s not at all what happened. It took me hours & hours to write, battling intense self-doubt. I needed to stand firm & write. But I was flooded with distracting thoughts of my expanding to-do list, my dad’s living situation, missing the ones that are missing, and worrying about the future. None of which are helpful for focusing on a novel that *must* be finished. 

Eventually, I did what I intended – writing 2,036 new words, of a novel that has had my heart, since the summer of 2020. As I was looking out at my patio & the woods, I was reminded of the precious nature of our time. If you’d told me I’d never see the man I love again, I’d go back and change some things. Nearly six months ago, or further back – if you’d told me my baby brother would get to heaven before I do, I’d tell you were crazy. But then I’d change some things. If I knew the number of my days, would I live differently?

The thing is, I don’t know the number of my days. None of us do. But one thing loss has taught me is that we don’t need to know the number of our days to make the most of each moment. Anxiety, worry, living in anger or unforgiveness, or the past – they all take from these precious minutes we have now. When I look back, I want to know I’ve used them wisely and that I’ve pushed through the hard things, to keep living the life I’m meant to.

I refuse to lose more time. It may have taken longer than I would have preferred today – but I found my groove, while looking out at the woods – with the golden autumn light warming this chilly day. I’ve lost enough time. So have you. 

“Write clear and hard about what hurts.” – Hemingway

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You Deserve Better. You Know You Do

you deserve better you know you do, elaina avalos

You deserve better. You know you do. I do, too.

“As William James observed, we must reflect that, when we reach the end of our days, our life experience will equal what we have paid attention to, whether by choice or default. We are at risk, without quite fully realizing it, of living lives that are less our own than we imagine.”

– Tim Wu

Sometimes we hope and long for things that feel right on the surface. Our feelings are our feelings. We love, hope, dream, and plan around them at times. We are attracted to people we are attracted to. And yet, our feelings can betray us in many ways. There’s not much you can do to change them. You can love or care for someone and not be able to change that. But it may also mean that your feelings are pulling you in the wrong direction.

I deserve (you deserve), the absolute best. I reached a point (took forever) not too long ago, where I was just done with certain people. I’ve held onto or kept open connections because of obligation, my career, or an inability to let go (for reasons unknown to me). I have, in increasing measure, grown ruthlessly protective of my life and the days that lie ahead.

But sometimes, even still, I’ve found myself letting my feelings carry me away – without standing firm in what I want for my life. I don’t want (and you shouldn’t either) sloppy seconds, being chosen last, or being carried away by feelings, in general. Particularly when, as the quote above says, “we are at risk without quite realizing it, of living lives that are less our own than we imagine.”

What does that really mean? Frankly, I interpret this to mean – stop wasting time on men (or women) and relationships that are less than what you truly want (and deserve). I think it means that we go along with the current, carried by circumstances and feelings, without thinking. We’re pulled along in that current – without reaching for truth, remembering what we’re here on this earth to do, or what we know we truly want.

I can care for someone until I’m blue in the face. My feelings may try to steer me in their direction. But that doesn’t mean it’s what’s best for me. Your feelings are just that. We shouldn’t deny or hide them. Nor should we live a life void of them (of course). But we have to evaluate them and when they’re not steering us right, we have to choose differently.

I’ve shared this video above because I love the idea of making conscious decisions to choose. We have countless choices to make, boundaries to set, and paths to take. We can choose to remove ourselves from relationships that don’t keep us on that path or that potentially derail us from getting to that life we know we truly want to live. Additionally, we don’t need to sit back and passively wait for some future thing to happen for our lives to begin.

We can choose. I choose to believe that I’m worth more than someone who can’t make up his mind. I’m worth more than a man that is flattered by the attention, but doesn’t care for me and want what’s best for me. I’m worth more than someone who isn’t all in. You are too. You know this in your gut. You deserve better. You know you do . . .

I’m fully committed to choosing the right partner. I’m fully committed to choosing the path I’m on and the boundaries I need to set, to stay on that path. Don’t be swept up in the current of your feelings when you know you deserve more.



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The One

i want to be the one, mark anthony, mark anthony poet, dreams by mark anthony

I want to wake up with you,
and hear you ask,
“What are we going to do today?”

I want to be the one
you want to make plans with.

I want to be the one.
Mark Anthony (Buy his new book at the link)

October has been a terribly long month. The past 30 days felt like 100 days. I couldn’t wait for this month to end. Now that it has, I think I’m getting sick. Which is often the result of ridiculous amounts of stress piling up (for me). It has finally come to an end (well, Monday anyway). The final two months of the year are my favorite of the year. In addition to the two months of the year I love the most, November 1st kicks of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I’m also counting down to decorating for Christmas!

But it also means, now that I’ve gotten through the events of October, I can move full steam ahead, toward the goals and plans that have been set aside numerous times over the last couple of years. I’m excited. I’m also cautiously optimistic about what lies ahead. Why? Because I know my boundaries and challenges, to reach these dreams and goals, will be pushed and challenged.

But I know what I want. I know what I’m about, where I’m going, and yeah – I also know the type of man I’d like to be on this journey with. The one – has a few qualities that set him apart (that’s a different topic). But I think the most important thing is friendship – our friendship. That’s what sustains a relationship, in my opinion, when you reach the inevitable hard times and the waxing and waning of the romantic feelings emotions that go along with being and feeling in love.

So while I want the excitement, romance, passion, and fun that goes along with being in love (who doesn’t) – I also want the every day moments that come with choosing life with another – waking up to a normal day and living life alongside my best friend. So what does that have to do with the months ahead and accomplishing other dreams and plans? Nothing. Haha. Just the hope that as I live life – one that allows me to be the person I was called to be – he’ll join me.

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Bigger Than the Whole Sky

Taylor Swift released her 10th studio album last week. I’m still working my way through the lyrics. While it has a very different feel than my favorite (folklore), I like the album. There are some songs that are a real sucker punch to the gut. In the years since Swift released 1989, I have only grown to enjoy her songwriting more. While it’s true that folklore meant more to me than I can explain, and heavily impacted the direction my novel took (so melancholy), there are some powerful moments on Midnights, that surpass the emotion of that album.

One of those is the song “Bigger Than the Whole Sky.” While I’m sure it may be disputed, many fans believe it is a song about miscarriage. I happen to agree. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss month and as I’ve seen a variety of posts about women’s stories, I’ve thought about my own loss.

I’ve shared about the grief of losing my son through circumstances I will never be able to share, at around the time our adoption should’ve been final. But I also lost a baby. I don’t talk about it much – if ever. If I’d given birth to her, she would’ve been 15 years old this past spring.

In Swift’s song she writes things like . . .

“Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye / You were bigger than the whole sky /You were more than just a short time / And I’ve got a lot to pine about / I’ve got a lot to live without / I’m never gonna meet / What could’ve been, would’ve been / What should’ve been you / What could’ve been, would’ve been you.”

“Did some bird flap its wings ovеr in Asia? / Did some force take you bеcause I didn’t pray?”

She also sings, “Cause it’s all over, it’s not meant to be.” The emotion that elicits, feels a little different today – than it might have five years ago or more. Today, the grief that bubbles up is co-mingled with knowing that I won’t have a chance to give birth. Our emotions are a weird, weird thing. And we can sometimes feel like our pain doesn’t measure up to that of others as we try to process the weirdness of our emotions.

I am learning how to grieve the loss of a child. I’m still trying to learn how to grieve what will never be. To make things stranger, the man I would have shared a child with, also passed away. That added a layer that I now know I didn’t properly grieve or deal with. But the body keeps the score. And recent losses are compounded by what I never worked through back then.

That does some things to a person. But my story, like so many others like me, isn’t always seen as a valid grief experience. The average person probably wouldn’t say that to a person’s face. Yet it becomes apparent in a myriad of other ways. Do we need validation from others about our experiences or pain? Certainly not. But I will tell you that a lack of validation does, in my opinion, slow (or stop) the healing process.

I think what songs like “Bigger Than the Whole Sky” do for people, is that they absolutely validate the pain that others don’t see. They validate that our own loss was real and that others understand. This is the power of story. I have believed this and known this for as long as I can remember. It’s what compels me to write. Our stories, whether they’re true, or the ones we may create – have tremendous power to impact, inspire, lead to healing, or encourage. Plus there’s that whole entertainment thing.

As I gear up for another year of National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo), I was really struck by this “Pep Talk” by Kwame Mbalia, during this NaNoWriMo prep period. He says, in part, “Dice through the unnecessary. Trim away the fluff. Find the core, the kernel, the spark before the flame, that single instant of raw imagination, the chaos before the Big Bang, the heart just before it pumps. There is, for everyone, a singular moment in time when you recognized a concept within the millions of stimuli processed in your brain, and something formed. A character. An idea.”

I love this in particular, “…that single instant of raw imagination, the chaos before the Big Bang, the heart just before it pumps…” sometimes the heart of the story, which takes shape from images, memories, music, loss or whatever else under the sun, gets lost. It gets lost in word counts, fear, trying to accomplish a goal and turning writing into a task to check off a to-do list, etc. The story, the kind that makes you pen a song that helps others to connect with, and remember the life of a baby that was “more than just a short time,” deserves more than second best.

When that story has the power to help others to feel less alone, validates their pain, or opens the door to the hope of healing, it absolutely deserves my full attention. The story I hear in Bigger Than the Whole Sky, is another reminder of why I love to write. It also connects me to deeper levels of my own losses – which ultimately means that I’m drawing closer to healing. For those of us who grieve, there’s no way out – but through. Connecting to songs or other art/writing, other’s experiences, and allowing ourselves to feel the pain in the process, leads to healing.

Whatever Taylor Swift was writing about in this song – we know one thing to be true, if it causes us to face our own losses and pain, and helps us to feel less alone, that’s all that matters. As a writer, that’s the dream – that someday, the words I write will mean as much to others, as my favorite writer’s words mean to me.

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Stop at Nothing

elaina avalos, stop at nothing by elaina avalos, wild things

The door was opened when I met you.
It hasn’t been closed. I can’t imagine
Closing it to you. If you stood on my
front porch tomorrow, I would pull you close
Before you uttered a word. And yet,
I deserve so much more. I deserve
A love that will stop at nothing.
Because that is the love I have
Waiting for nothing.
~ Elaina M. Avalos

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Being & Feeling Safe

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Psalm 911

About a week and a half ago, someone tried to break into my home. It’s not the only time in the last few weeks that someone has been lurking about. If there’s one thing that can really knock me off kilter, it’s not feeling safe. Being and feeling safe is important to me. It is for all of us. But I’ve survived some traumatic situations over my life, so it’s essential for me in ways that may feel less tangible to others. Or maybe a better way to say it is that for others, it’s a sub-conscious need or desire.

I don’t really intend to dive too deep into that. But what I can tell you for sure is that I haven’t been the same since all of this started. I am trying. One thing that has become clear the last couple of weeks is that this experience has caused me to question a few decisions I made recently. My brother’s death, four months ago today, was the first recent experience that caused me to weigh and consider my decisions and what I should be doing. I feel pretty certain I know what that future life looks like – but I slowed down the process of trying to get there, a few weeks back. Throw in someone trying to break into my home, and it’s re-surfaced my hopes and dreams and thoughts about changes I want to make in my life.

Fear is a powerful force. Sometimes you can make decisions based in fear that are ultimately not good for you and can hold you back from what you truly want (or what’s meant for you). The last couple of weeks are a little on the ironic side as I made decisions a few weeks back, based on the perceived safety of those decisions. Only to now feel the most unsafe I’ve felt in quite some time. Not sure what the lesson is there, although I have a hunch.

Mostly, I am determined to not live in fear – whatever that means. Fear can keep us mired in quicksand. Fear lies. Fear is the opposite of faith. And it is entirely incompatible with what I want and hope for, for my future. If you’re feeling the pressure of fear over faith, I just wanted to say that you are not alone. That feeling can be pretty isolating. So here I am to tell you this evening, you aren’t alone.

It’s so hard to pick up and press forward when fear has a stranglehold. But everything we want is on the other side of it.

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Don’t Deny Your Fire

butterflies rising, wild spirits, wild spirit soft heart, elaina avalos, wild things

if this life doesn’t
look like your soul,
keep going.
butterflies rising

mark anthony, don't deny your fire, elaina avalos, wild things

Don’t deny
your fire,
my dear,
just be
who you are
and burn.
Mark Anthony

nausicca twila, but all they did was make me more fierce, elaina avalos

I’ll always have
wild hair
and a blunt tongue
clothes scattered about
untamed eyes
and the irresistible
urge to attempt
something beautiful
they tried to box me up
but all they did
was make me more fierce.
– Nausicaa Twila

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Patiently Waiting

I’m patient. Sometimes it feels like I’m too patient. But I’m patiently waiting, just the same. The hardest part is knowing that I’ve willingly chosen to delay my plans just a little longer. There’s just one thing in life I really want. And choosing to set it aside for even a few months feels so wrong.

Someday, it will be my turn.

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“I Would Rather Sit and Talk to You”

If I owned the finest vineyard
I would rather sit and drink cheap wine with you
If I could live on the moon
I would rather stay in Tennessee with you
If I could sail across the ocean
The ocean would just be blue without you
If I could climb up Mount Everest
I would turn around and climb in bed with you
With you I can be myself
With you I don’t have to be somebody else
It’s like puttin’ on my favorite pair of shoes
If I could be like Albert Einstein
I’d rather just be dumb and be with you
If I could sing like Frank Sinatra
I would rather sit and talk to you
– Song by: Barry Jenkins / Hampton Andrew Jr Holcomb

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Putting Someone Else in Charge of Our Feelings

I spent my afternoon feeling frustrated about the lack of answers to my why questions. Mix that in with the hurt that comes from having someone disappear and never look back & well, it doesn’t feel great. I spent a few minutes scrolling on social media this evening and this quote appeared in my feed. It fits well. I guess it’s a coincidence? Although, sometimes I think God uses these things (quotes that appear in my path, podcasts that fit the exact moment I need them, Bible verses shared online, etc.) to wake me up and remind me where my focus needs to be. I found it extra interesting that they shared this post today – but it was originally shared in July. I sure needed to see it today. Although it is easier said than done, it’s important for our well-being, growth, healing, and our future plans, dreams, and relationships – that we do just what this post says.

Putting someone else in charge of how we feel is just a bad way to go. I’ve lived it. I don’t care to go down that road anymore. While finding our way out of that is not easy and probably looks a little different for everyone, it is a key to healing and growth. What works for me, may not work for you. I’ve used (and am using) everything from meditations on apps such as Insight Timer, Headspace, & Oak to talk therapy to finding ways to interrupt my train of thought and re-direct myself and my thought patterns. After losing my son, I needed the distraction of laughter – as another example. I watched hours (and hours) of stand up comics online, Netflix, etc. It’s amazing what a little laughter can do for you.

It’s not easy to accept the cards you’re dealt – whether it’s circumstances or how someone treated you (or didn’t, as it were). But accepting the position you’re in for what it is, gives you the ability to focus on healing and your own journey. Though things aren’t exactly where I want them to be right now & today was a jab to the ribs reminder of that, the truth is – I feel more free than I have in years. And that feels pretty damn good.


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Change of Seasons

autumn leaves, change in seasons, seasons change, yellow leaves, eastern north carolina, elaina avalos

Yesterday, I was out on my patio watering my plants. I swear I didn’t see this much yellow (there was no red) in the jungly vines in the woods. The heat & humidity are with us & probably will be all month (maybe into October), but there are little signs the seasons are changing. As I started to write this, a stray rainstorm blew in and yellow leaves fell to the ground. It really feels like autumn is on the way, now.

autumn leaves, red leaves, change in seasons, seasons change, yellow leaves, eastern north carolina, elaina avalos

I always find some renewed hope when the seasons change. There’s not a lot externally that’s changed for me, though change is what I long for. I long for a new place, new people, new relationships and opportunities. I’m waiting for my greatest dream. Usually, when I want something new I just go do it. I go get it. I make the move. I make the change.

For the first time in ages, I feel the pull toward the change, but know my change of seasons isn’t quite upon me yet. There were a couple moments this weekend when that made me uncomfortable. I like change and when I’m ready, I’m ready. It goes against every instinct in me to remain in the same place.

autumn leaves, change in seasons, seasons change, yellow leaves, eastern north carolina, elaina avalos

But something is keeping me grounded. Which tells me God is actually at work here. And while I may never understand the reason, I know the timing is off for the change I so long for.

So, if you, like me – are longing for change but it eludes you so far – maybe stop to soak in the change in the seasons. Let nature’s shifting & changing be enough right now (as hard as that may be).

As I enjoy one last day off on this holiday weekend, I wanted to say that I hope you will find the moments to enjoy what each season brings with it – even when it feels uncomfortable.

Pretty flower photos, from my patio, for no reason…

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No Hard Feelings

Doesn’t fit perfectly – but it works for me. There’s no hard feelings.

“I took a little time, tequila and therapy
And threw it in a blender with ice
I was more messed up than I cared to be
Spent a whole lot of lonely nights
I was mad at myself, pissed at the world
It was hard to get up, but I put one foot
In front of the other, kept on keepin’ on
Going through the motions until
There was no hard feelings
And no bad vibes”
No Hard Feelings – by Old Dominion

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Road Trips to Asheville & Finding a New Path

Road Trips to Asheville & finding a new path . . . that sums up the first part of my week!

Blue Ridge Parkway, Craggy Gardens, Asheville NC, Blue Ridge Mountains
Craggy Gardens area of the Blue Ridge Parkway – Blue Ridge Mountains – outside of Asheville, North Carolina

I took a road trip this week. I didn’t end up in Charlotte as had been originally planned. It’s a long story. I spent two nights & three days in Asheville (and made a pit stop in Hendersonville). It was a really great few days away. But it was nothing like I planned or expected.

I stayed at the Log Cabin Motor Court – between Asheville and Weaverville. The Log Cabin Motor Court is a National Historic Landmark – originally opened in 1917. If I remember correctly, the cabins were built in the 1930s. These rustic cabins were a delight and if I go again, I might want to stay in one of the cabins with a kitchen. I previously stayed at the property next door (The Pines Cottages) and ADORE that place too, by the way.

Though my intention had been to spend Tuesday sight seeing & eating out at some restaurants I’ve been looking forward to trying, turns out I didn’t feel so great. But that ended up being a good thing. I rested in the cabin, wrote (more on that later) and napped. I didn’t turn on the TV or music (the entire time). It rained and it was a glorious nap – one of the best I’ve had in ages. 🙂 I didn’t eat out a single time. WHAT? That’s nuts. I literally ate what I could eat from my little log cabin. It was perfect.

sarah addison allen, other birds, magical realism

On Tuesday evening, I headed to UNC Asheville for the book launch of Sarah Addison Allen‘s latest book, Other Birds. Sarah is one of my favorite authors. This is her first book in 7 years and I’m thrilled she’s back! If you want a chance to win her book (not an autographed copy), you can enter a contest, here. Sarah’s writing is (though I don’t write magical realism) the kind of writing I aspire to. The way she writes the settings of her books is one such example. Her settings become a character themselves. I’m sure the “Dellawisp” is too. I’m looking forward to reading it this weekend (I started it before driving home yesterday).

The event, “Sarah Addison Allen in conversation with Wiley Cash” was a joy to be at. I was surrounded by huge Allen fans – who were just as happy as I was, to be there. Wiley Cash, who teaches fiction and literature at UNC Asheville, is now on my “TBR list” too. I look forward to checking out his books, too. He was hilarious by the way. I had a really wonderful night.

On my drive up to the mountains, I began to re-work my now finished novel “A Thousand Years.” As I drove and the closer I got to the mountains (where the book is set), the more clear it became – I had much to slash and re-write from this book. So much so that by the time I got to the event on Tuesday evening, the book didn’t even have the same name. I don’t know what it will be called, but it’s not “A Thousand Years.” My protagonist is the same, the name of her love interest may remain the same but it’s an entirely new character. The town remains the same – but much else has and will be different. I am 100% certain of this and I’m entirely confident in the new direction. So much so that while I was away (and last night before going to bed) I wrote more than I have in quite some time.

On Wednesday, I checked out of my cabin drove to the Blue Ridge Parkway, spent some time there, had a picnic at Craggy Gardens Picnic area and then made a pit stop in Hendersonville, before driving home. If I move, west may be best – for me. Western Carolina definitely seems more my speed. While I was up on the parkway, it was 62 glorious degrees. It made me long for autumn.

On my drive home, I stopped in Hendersonville, at Justus Orchard. It’s a lovely little spot. If you’re in or visiting NC, it’s a great stop if you’re in the mountains. They have some activities for the kids, goats, u-pick apples, a small store, and their famous apple cider donuts. The cider was delicious by the way. I’m looking forward to eating my honeycrisp apples!

This trip was definitely needed, restful, and honestly – enlightening. I had no idea that what came from these few days away is what would happen during this trip. It was a gift, in many ways. While I’d expected to interview for a job and consider a move, it became something else entirely. The writing boost was the icing on the cake.

Sometime this weekend, I want to share a few of the things Sarah Addison Allen shared in her talk – including the answers to one of my questions. For now, it’s time to sign off and prepare for a long weekend of reading (Other Birds, of course) and writing. I hope you’ve had a great week so far.

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Road Trip Time

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Asheville, NC skyline – Photo credit.

It’s road trip, time. I’m heading out to Charlotte & Asheville this week. I’m looking forward to a little break from the norm. I have no idea what I’m doing – except for one exciting event on Tuesday evening in Asheville. I hope to share more about that later. What I will tell you, is that I’m ridiculously excited about it. I ordered a ticket for it (the second I heard about it). I had no clue if I could make it, however. Asheville isn’t exactly a quick trip (over 6 hours) on a Tuesday evening – in a typical work week. But I just had to order the ticket – hoping I’d find a way. All the pieces fell into place and I will be four hours closer on Tuesday, now. Have I mentioned I’m excited? 🙂

Charlotte NC, Queen City, Charlotte, elaina avalos
Charlotte, NC – Photo credit.

My quick few days in central & western NC are kind of blank slate at the moment – except for Tuesday evening. I had a few recommendations for places to eat or check out. Here’s some of the recommendations:

Charlotte

Amelie’s French Bakery — The menu looks awesome! There’s a location in NoDa.

NoDa — Charlotte’s North Davidson neighborhood. This arts & entertainment district is right up my alley.

Leah and Louise — Wow. This menu looks amazing. Leah and Louise is in Camp North End which was recommend overall. You can find more info, here.

Asheville

Chai Pani — I’ve wanted to go to Chai Pani since I saw the restaurant on “Samantha Brown’s Places to Love, early this year. Now that the restaurant has been deemed “Outstanding Restaurant” for 2022, by the James Beard Foundation, it may not be easy to get into, but worth a shot. The Chicken Pakoras sounds amazing! As do the Uttapam! Butter chicken is one of my favorite Indian dishes. So, that might be hard to pass up. But man, I just saw that Chai Pani appears to be closed on Tuesdays so that stinks.

Grove Park Inn (for lunch or dinner) — I think the view might be the draw . . .

Asheville NC, Grove Park Inn, Asheville, elaina avalos

Mela — More Indian food (which I love)

Rosetta’s Kitchen & Buchi Bar — Vegan soul food! What??? Oh my. Sounds amazing.

Bouchon — French food always sounds good. Beef Bourguignon sounds pretty delish right about now.

Tupelo Honey — I wouldn’t hate trying this place. However comma – it’s southern fried kind of food and it doesn’t appear there are many gluten free options (which are available other places).

If you’ll be visiting my adopted home state, anytime soon – I highly recommend checking out NC Tripping! Their site is a treasure trove of info about The Old North State. Here are a couple of their guides for Asheville & Charlotte (open in new tabs).

Got any other recommendations?

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National Dog Day!

So I heard it’s National Dog Day. I’m never one to pass up a fake holiday! Abby has my heart – that’s for sure. But life with Abby the Wonder Dog isn’t always easy. She still acts like she’s an abused & neglected puppy – living in Joshua Tree, California. But hey, trauma isn’t easy to let go of – for anyone – including our four-legged friends. She’s been with me almost 12 years of her 12 years & 6 months of life. But she sometimes still thinks she’s not gonna make it. This in spite of her chaise lounge, blankets, pillows, multiple beds, and food and treats (that I have to tempt her with, to remind her to eat).

In spite of her moments of forgetting who the hell she is and how loved she is – she is so very funny. And while she is challenging when it comes to her fears, she’s also sweet and loving. She is absolutely delighted with adventures – especially if it means trails and runs on the beach. She is quite fond of sleeping and does it as much as she possibly can. This basically means that we were always meant for each other. 🙂 She loved my boy more than life itself (certainly more than me). It took months and months for her to recover (and not be disgusted with me). I couldn’t even be mad at her. I knew how much she lived for him.

I took her on a longer walk this evening. She was thrilled. I hope someday soon we can get back to our trail-hiking, beach running life. I want her final years, as she ages not so gracefully, to be full of her favorite things – backyard wandering, forest trail hiking, and beach running – life.

For now, she’ll keep staring at me when she’s upset or when I’m not behaving as she’d like…

And I will keep loving her for it. Do you have a pup? Would love to see photos of your dog for National Dog Day (even though it’s almost over)!

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What Lies Around the Bend

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“I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does. It has a fascination of its own, that bend.” ~ L.M. Montgomery

It’s a different kind of Monday Motivation for me, today. I have had most of the day off (worked a little this morning) and I’ve spent the weekend working on, planning for, and thinking about the future (what’s around the bend in the road). Somehow, though I certainly know how I’d like things to go, I’m very much at peace with what lies around the bend.

I’m looking forward to it – though I honestly don’t know exactly what I will find. I am looking forward to a trip out of town next week, as I continue to plan for and think about the future. But no matter what, I’m at peace with what is and what is coming my way. That’s an awesome feeling.

So . . . on that note, what are you looking forward to this week or in the coming months? If the answer is “I don’t know,” I hope you’ll find some motivation in the hope of a new adventure – even if you don’t know what that is.

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See Reality As It Is

acceptance Thích Nhất Hạnh, Thích Nhất Hạnh, elaina avalos, radical acceptance

“To think in terms of either pessimism or optimism oversimplifies the truth.
The problem is to see reality as it is.”
~Thích Nhất Hạnh

After a long journey through loss and grief and dreams delayed, I stumbled onto something unexpected – acceptance. I’m not going to say I don’t have moments of doubt, but I am saying that there is a great deal of freedom that comes with accepting the situation as it is. And frankly, that acceptance is super motivating in other ways.

Here’s to a great Monday & week!

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Fall Decor Inspiration

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It’s still hot in the south – hot and humid. It’s the kind of hot that fogs up your glasses when you step outside. Our reasonable, windows open – kind of weather – is limited to autumn (and the tiny bit of spring when there’s not pine pollen all over everything). So about this time every year, in these dog days of summer, I look forward to the changes that come when the light changes, the air grows drier, and the temperature drops.

There’s a golden glow to autumn, that I adore. As I look forward to the crisper air, football season, and cozy weather, I have been thinking about how I’ll decorate my “new” home (moved in end of January) for one of my favorite seasons. Here’s some fall decor inspiration for your home.* All links open in a new tab/page.

Throws & Blankets

Found on Amazon, here.

Find this cable knit reminiscent blanket, here.

Find it, here.

The two cable knit-like throws, have different color options. But I love the cream because you could use it throughout the fall and winter months. While I love color and can’t get fully on board, with the all-neutral home decor – train, there are some things, like throws, that I would prefer to have as neutral as possible. That said, my favorite blanket of all time – which now belongs to my dog – was very fall-themed and I adored it. I’m thinking about getting a new one (like the one below) this year.

Pumpkin & fall leaves throw is, here.

Table Top & Kitchen Decor

These items would be perfect for vases, baskets, or laying on coffee tables, dining room tables, etc. – as small vignettes, throughout your home. Recently, I’ve bought Milk Glass pieces that are perfect for displaying seasonal decor. See my Pinterest board for examples, here.

Find the pumpkins, here. They are about $1.00 a piece ($16.99 total).

Love these! Find the dried grass, here.

Here’s another great one – it’s an 86-piece package of pampas grass –
for an awesome price.

Here are a few items I love from The Nested Fig.

Find the acorn, here.

Marble Pumpkin Spoon Rest

These pumpkins are sold individually. I love the minis ($8.00). The teal is my favorite.
Find them on Etsy, here.

I have a set similar to these. They’re perfect for your coffee table or a side table.

I absolutely love these!

You can find these, here. I have a set similar to this. I love them!

I love glass pumpkins. I have one that is a peachy-orange mercury glass one that is my favorite fall decoration. I hope to add one like this, this year.

*Post contains affiliate links.

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Never Give Up

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Photo used in image, by: Ali Kazal

Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn. – Harriet Beecher Stowe

It’s Monday. If you’ve been around here a while, you know it’s not my favorite day of the week. By the time this post publishes, I’ll be getting ready for work. This is my reminder, heading into a new week – that I can’t give up. And neither can you. Keep pushing, friends.

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Just Say to Me

Just say to me
You’ll be the fool this time
You’ll take my place
For a little while
You’ll give me a chance
You’ll let me break you down
Let me use you up
You’ll show me how
Oh, my love
Your pretty little wings
They must be getting tired
Trying to keep your feet
Up off the ground
Let’s go back to the days
Beneath the Northern Lights
When we danced so free
Like a little child
Oh, my love
You thought I’d left without you
Oh, my love
My arms were always around you
Just say to me
You’ll lie awake this time
You’ll watch me sleep
Straight through the night
No more dreams
Must I sacrifice
My heart is safe
You’ll guard it with your life
My love
You thought I’d left without you
But oh, my love
My arms were always around you
My arms were always around you
Oh, my love
You thought I’d left without you
But oh, my love
My arms were always around you
My arms were always around you
My arms were always around you
– Lyrics by Peter Bradley Adams

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Unoptional Joy

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I listened to this Jon Acuff podcast episode this morning, as I was getting ready for work. The episode is Unoptional Joy – Why prioritizing your happiness is crucial to your success with Valorie Burton. It’s good stuff. Here’s the link: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/all-it-takes-is-a-goal/id1547078080?i=1000567795605. Valerie Burton’s website is: https://valorieburton.com/.

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We Know Best What We’re Missing

I mentioned recently that I’ve started a new novel. This is certainly not a final product, since I’m only 10,000 words in, but here is the “blurb” I’m using to describe the novel now.

Ellison Whiting writes bestselling novels about families and relationships. She has made a name for herself – doing just that. Her novels become movies. Her fans become so invested in her books, she sometimes questions if they realize they’re fiction. Ellison Whiting’s problem is she writes novels about families and relationshipsbut she’s never known what it is to be in a family, or a healthy relationship, for that matter. Abandoned by her mother as a toddler, she is convinced of one thing and only one thing – based on the necklace with her few belongings – she was born by the sea. She’s spent a lifetime imagining her life before foster care. After another break-up, after a long string of break-ups, she decides it’s time. She leaves California behind, to uncover her history – along the coast of North Carolina – where she finds the family she’s always wondered about. But at what cost?

Here’s a brief excerpt.

“The secret to writing a great book is that there is no secret. Just a lot of hard work. I’ve written a fair number of bestsellers over the years. The kind that get you movie deals. They’re all still in development, by the way. I have a loyal fan base that would buy anything with my name on it, even if it’s awful. The truth is, everything I’ve written the last two years has been crap. I tried. I’ve tried. But when Carter left, something in me died. It’s not exactly like he was my muse. Honestly, he sucked at being in a relationship. It’s just that he’d been one of the few I’d trusted and that went right the hell out the window along with my will to write about love and family. I’d had a long string of relationships that never went anywhere. That’s the irony of course. I make my name, tons of cash, and I happened to garner critical success – writing about love and family – of all things. My books aren’t romances per se. They’re women’s fiction. I write about women and their relationships – motherhood included. It just so happens each book has a very strong romance element, even if the protagonist’s love interest is a secondary character. My most popular books, without a doubt, however – are love stories. The weirdness of writing a life I don’t know and have never experienced, is not lost on me. But I guess sometimes we know best, what we’re missing. That certainly seems to be the case with me.”

You can read the opening paragraph of Sea Glass Hearts, here.
You can see my Pinterest, inspiration board, here. And yes, of course I have a Spotify playlist, too.