My dad is at peace. Today, before I had to make some very hard decisions, my dad slipped from this earth and was reunited in heaven, with my sweet brother. My dad told me when last year’s football season had started, that he couldn’t watch NFL games without my brother. That hurt my heart. I’m sure they’re watching football now – making up for lost time.

My dad is carrying me in the photo above (that’s my mom in the dress). White sandals, in case you’re wondering, were my trademark. 🙂 I wore them all the time. Anyway, my dad had been in a great deal of pain physically. But I don’t think that compared to the sorrow of losing my brother. I know that he was ready to go. And I know that he is the most at peace he has ever been. And for that I am grateful.

If there’s one thing this year has taught me, it’s so tell the ones you love & care for, how you feel. Say the words. Don’t let another second go by without making that clear.

Categories Uncategorized

The Power of Sports

Phil Avalos, coach phil avalos, anaheim hs football

Today is a travel day. I’m on my way home – SoCal, to be exact. Buying last minute tickets stinks, so I went as cheap as possible – which has turned into long layovers and three plane changes. I’m hanging out with a view of the NYC skyline, at the moment. I’m heading home under less than positive circumstances, to say the least.

My dad – who was already not in good health after a previous heart attack/stroke, is in the ICU and on life support since Sunday morning. There’s a lot that awaits me when I get there – everything from managing giving up the home and belongings of my brother (who passed away in May 2022) to facing what comes next for my father.

My dad on Egyptian television

My dad was a football (also coached a few other things – like strength and conditioning – along the way) coach all of my life. Though he coached high school football most of the time, he also coached college football and several semi-pro, international teams (Egypt, Brazil, and Germany). It was his life’s passion and he left an indelible mark on the young men that he coached. In recent days, as I’ve shared updates about my dad, tagging him so family & his former players could see, I’ve received messages and comments like, “Your Dad is a great man that can take a group of boys, mold them into men, and champions on the field.”

I’ve known this about him & the power of sports, my whole life. People can easily misunderstand something that is “just a game” and view it as seemingly insignificant. I guess compared to some things, it probably is. Except when I see and hear about the impact a coach makes on teenagers who didn’t have anyone else believe in them or who simply needed to learn discipline, to believe in themselves, or to learn the value of a team. I’m sure there are many other lessons, but that sums it up.

Beyond visiting my dad’s bedside (early morning hours of Wednesday), this is how I choose to see him. Though I am expecting the worst, based on my conversations with the ICU – including moments ago, I just choose to see him this way.

When we were little, Matthew and I spent a lot of time in the summer, running around Anaheim HS and our autumn was a Friday Night Lights (and later Saturdays at Pomona College) kind of childhood. Life is hard & complicated. What lies ahead is hard & complicated. However many days of my dad’s life remain, I will always see him this way.

His last international coaching gig.

Life Can Change in an Instant

I took this photo of the last full moon, not knowing then, how quickly things would shift and change in my life. But I’m well acquainted with the split second moments where everything changes. Last year it was my brother’s death, Monday it was my dad going into the hospital. This time, I’m not sure he will make it.

I fly out on Tuesday. And while I have to see my dad and will, there’s a lot of business to deal with and paperwork to track down and phone calls to be made, too. Doing it from here, while I also need to advocate for his care in the ICU, is impossible.

But the moon – that’s where I started. The last full moon was March 7th. In a matter of a few days, things were so different. Life can change in an instant. I know we know this. But we don’t live it.

We live in the past, we live in the future. Last night and early this morning I was anxious about things a week ahead of me. I don’t even know any of those things will happen. None of us knows what the future holds. That’s why it’s so incredibly important to remain grounded in the moment. It’s all we have – all we are guaranteed. I don’t want to lose the opportunities I have in front of me, because I’m way ahead, worrying about what may never come.

Life changes and shifts in an instant. Don’t lose out on living fully, loving hard, taking chances, and telling those you love – that you love and care about them. This all sounds rather cliché, I know. But that’s what you get out of multiple losses & grief packed in tight over a few years. Life is too f-ing short to play small and not chase down what & who you want.


Mornings Part II

a love like sunshine, elaina avalos, mornings poem II, morning poem

Mornings Part II

In the morning, when it’s quiet, there’s a flash of perfect contentment in my heart.
There’s something about the morning light, shining in the kitchen window &
the start of a new day – that looks a lot like home – the
kind without four walls. When I turn to see you
smiling, I dream of ways to keep that smile on your face, all my days.
~ Elaina M. Avalos


Love Can Be Soft

rainbowsalt, bianca sparacino, love can be soft, elaina avalos

I’m not sure I can do @rainbowsalt (aka Bianca Sparacino), justice with this post. But I’m loving her writing more and more. I read this on her IG account, this morning and had to share. “Love can be soft…” For those of us who’ve seen a painful side of love – whether it’s due to rough experiences growing up or adult relationships that have been painful, this could be a revelation. I mean, relationships are hard. I’m not talking about the work it takes to remain committed to another. I’m talking about the unhealthy, painful love many of us stick with because something seems familiar about it. Why does something painful feel familiar? If we have trauma in our past, as much as we don’t want more pain and trauma, it can feel sadly normal. Or, we talk ourselves into sticking with it because don’t want another failed relationship nor do we want to be alone.

But, we don’t have to live with what may have felt normal at one time. We can find this kind of love. It is entirely possible. “Let go of those who will only ever love you in halves, who will never ben able to give you what you deeply desire. Please, just learn how to lay your arms down, how to stop fighting for those who are not fighting for you – because love is not meant to be pain. Love is not meant to hurt. Love is good, and you deserve good love. Release anything that does not honor that.”

I could not have said it better. There’s a peace that comes when you can recognize this about yourself – your tendency to stick with what’s familiar, even when it hurts. If you’re still on that journey, hang in there. Half the battle is recognizing this about your past relationships. That sets the foundation for being able to find this kind of love in its wake. But in the meantime, we owe it to ourselves, and our future Love – to work on us so we are the best partner we can possibly be.



There’s a thing we do sometimes – we settle for being loved in a halfhearted way. We know what we want and what we long for and yet, we still seem to find ourselves there. I have been there. Settling for crumbs, when a feast awaits, sounds like a pretty human thing to do. So don’t beat yourself up too much. But if you’re accepting less than what you know you deserve and less than what you want so very badly, it’s time to give up the crumbs.

Stop settling. I’m certainly going to.


I Love You & I Like You

If you haven’t seen the comedy series Parks & Recreation, you are missing out. I was missing out too (until earlier this year). It is now a favorite. I’m tempted to re-watch it, already. 🙂 Ben & Leslie’s love story is such a cute secondary plot. Their friendship was the foundation that brought them to this moment. You can’t help but love their love. It adds an extra bit of fun that they were enemies when Ben first arrived in town.

Today, I’ve been thinking about the beauty of friendship as the foundation of a love story. Lo and behold, Ben’s “vows” to Leslie popped up in my Instagram feed this evening. In the novel I’ve been re-writing, a friendship forms between my protagonist and her love. But it’s complicated – their love becomes complicated. Their friendship is what ultimately keeps them tied to each other and draws them back into each other’s lives – after time apart.

There’s something about a love like that.


The Constant

desmon lost, the constant, LOST,

If you’re new around here, the television show LOST, is my absolute favorite. Today is the 15th anniversary of the season 4, episode 5 – also known as The Constant. I will admit that the bar is low when it comes to TV/movies that entertain me. Hahahaha!! But what I love about LOST is what I view as the writer’s biggest gift to faithful viewers – the characters. People who weren’t huge fans of the show or who may have been infrequent viewers were hyper-focused on the plot. I get it. But as a character-driven writer, I was in love with the show because of the writer’s dedication to the characters and their stories.

The Constant is absolutely my favorite episode of TV (of all times). It was one of the bright spots in six seasons of LOST. And it’s a great TV moment, overall. Here’s a great recap and here’s the moment . . .


Stay Close to Me

a love like sunshine, stay close to me, elaina avalos, stay close to me elaina avalos
Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

Stay close to me when life is easy and we feel breezy and light. Stay close when the storm clouds roll in and we are rocked off our foundation I don’t ever want to know what it’s like to pass through the best and the worst days, without you close to me. You are like sunshine to my soul. Stay close to me.


While I continue to work on my novel and prepare to finish another (called Sea Glass Hearts), I’ve decided to take my short stories (most of which aren’t posted here) and poems and put them together into a book of poetry/short fiction. At the moment, that book is feeling like it will be called A Love Like Sunshine. But as with all things related to my writing, it could change 101 times before I’m done. 🙂


Selfless Love

yung pueblo, yung pueblo lighter
yung pueblo, yung pueblo selfless love

As usual, yung pueblo seems to share things that hit me right in the gut. I saw both of these posts this morning. Two things have kept me single far longer than I ever imagined – focusing too much on my career and a dogged determination to find what yung highlights in both of these posts. I am not going to lie – I have always been more fearful of being alone and miserable in a marriage than I was of being alone, period. If I’m alone, I still have a life that has meaning. But alone in a marriage seems like a horrible place to be. And so, I’ve been willing to wait until I found it – until I found him. Or he found me – whatever. I was close. I’ve been close. Close, but no cigar. I didn’t realize the complications that come with being older and single – particularly when you don’t have kids and want them. Nonetheless, I’ve recently had this eye opening experience that makes me 100% certain that waiting was good. Waiting was right. It will (eventually) end where I hope it will. Sometimes, we need reminders of what is worth waiting for, pursuing, praying for, and fighting for. A selfless love – one that places the other person before self, and that is just as dedicated to a partner’s wellness? That is worth waiting for.


The Hard Way

new bern nc, the hard way short story elaina m. avalos, the hard way elaina avalos, downtown new bern nc

 It is summer. Eastern Carolina is a sight to behold in the summer, even more so on the coast where the air is like a sultry, sexy Flamenco. It just seeps way down deep into your bones. The light in the early evening is like this living thing. It almost breathes. Deep. It wraps me up – safe and content.

He, the beautiful man of the hard way, is a challenge I am sometimes convinced I can’t meet. Even after all these years. Today, in a quiet moment in the midst of a busy day, I thought about the way his eyes hold mine. There has been fire and light for me in his eyes – for me, for as long as I can remember. Me. His fierceness lights me from the inside out with just one look. In the middle of an everyday moment, I look up to see his eyes on me. And there in that moment when I’m nothing special on my own and living in the mundane, I am all there is in his eyes. I am the only one in a room filled with people.

And then as quickly as he is fierce and passion, strength and fire, he is vulnerable. His tenderness for me still churns my insides like it did from the beginning. In those moments, I think I love him more than I knew was possible. On nights like these when the lightening bugs pop and flash in the approaching night, as we sit quietly on the porch, I’m overwhelmed by the beauty of it all. There is stillness and quiet between us just like it used to be in the beginning, when he said all he needed to without a word spoken. The heat surrounds us in spite of the encroaching darkness. The rising moon isn’t bringing relief from the swelter.

But somehow, in spite of the sweat that trickles, and the air thick, all I can think about is the way fire and heat burn off the dross. We have been tried and tested in the fire. In the quiet, he reaches over and takes my hand in his. Ten years and a handful of days after the first time he did that very thing, it lights me up inside. Still. I close my eyes, lay my head back, and breathe deeply of the contentment that comes from loving him above myself – even when we do it the hard way. Even when we are tested in the fire.

– Flash fiction by Elaina M. Avalos

*I wrote this in 2013. This is a repost from when I started this blog.*


Letting Go

pain will leave you when you let go, jeremy aldana quote, elaina avalos, letting go

“If someone cannot reciprocate your love, if someone cannot give you what you truly deserve, you have to understand that aching for them to do so before they are ready is a form of self-destruction.” – Bianca Sparacino

Letting go of a person you love is one of the hardest kinds of “things” to let go of.

Acceptance and letting go aren’t the easiest of concepts to grasp, in general. You may even be convinced you’ve gotten it, only to realize you absolutely haven’t gotten it. I have let go of far more than I’ve held onto in this life of mine. It has gotten tiresome – in some ways. There are moments, right up until today, that I forget the powerful work I’ve done (that God has done) in my life to accept life as it is and to let go of what I cannot control.

Many years ago, I made a decision to live my life in the moment – to try what I wanted to try and do my best to live fully. I don’t exactly regret going where the wind blew. But it has complicated a few things now that I’m in my 40s. From my vantage point now, I look at life a little differently. It has made the process of letting go a little more complicated than I once found it. The stakes are higher, or so it seems.

The stakes are higher (or appear to be) because the world does a good job of convincing us of what our lives should look like and the timeline within we have to accomplish it all. Something about that plays tricks on us, in my opinion, when our hearts get involved. When my heart is involved, I (I know I’m not alone) tend to forget those hard-fought battles I’ve waged. One thing I was reminded of in the last few weeks, is that loving someone that can’t love you back is a heartbreak you don’t deserve. It’s a heartbreak I don’t deserve.

“You cannot keep pouring your love into a heart that is closed off to it. It will only leave you empty. You have to walk away. You have to let this person grow on their own terms, because you can’t love someone into their potential. You can’t love someone into being ready. They have to do that on their own.” – Bianca Sparacino

Getting caught up in artificial timelines or the impression that something has to happen now, adds to your (my) struggle to let go. We compound that struggle to let go of that person, when we are so consumed by the fear that we are running out of time. We aren’t running out of time. When it’s right, it’s right. There shouldn’t be a timeline attached to that. But you can’t, as Bianca Sparacino says, “love someone into being ready,” either.

Which leaves you with a bit of a conundrum when you care so much for someone. Do you wait for them to be ready? The answer is . . . not really. I’m convinced of this today. I’m convinced of this from getting knocked around by life. To wait for someone who is not capable of loving you as you need and deserve, is absolutely, 100% self-destructive.

To stay in the place of torturing yourself over what isn’t and feeling so much attachment to the person that can’t love you back, you’re short changing yourself. Honestly, you’re short changing the one who is capable of loving you back. The ache? I know it so well. But you deserve so much more. I deserve so much more. In the hard moments, when letting go feels impossible (I’m feeling it – trust me), focus on the hope of what lies ahead. You may not be able to see it, but it’s out there. By staying tethered to the person who can’t or won’t love you, you only delay what is meant for you – whatever that is.

Though it seems to be quite the opposite, when your heart is tethered to another and a specific outcome, the truth is – letting go is freedom.


The Wish

  Photo by Jenna Norman on Unsplash, baby, motherhood, elaina avalos
Photo by Jenna Norman on Unsplash

The Wish

Five years ago, on a weird and oddly tiring afternoon, Katie Chavez made a wish. It wasn’t really the first of its kind – the dream had been there all the years she could dream about her future. The wish though – the one that seemed to change everything, was weirdly specific. Instead of the generalized dream, this one named the man and their future life of beauty and chaos, with a specificity that surprised her.

In the years before that day, with a dream so long deferred, she had grown weary of hoping it was still possible. She held it in her hands more than once, only to have it slip away. You get to a point where you know you need to keep the hope alive, but you don’t know if you can do it anymore. That was Katie. Though outwardly she spoke of hope, inwardly, she was losing it. Even still, she made the wish that afternoon. She pulled herself up by her bootstraps and dared to hope again.

Society doesn’t do us any favors. It told her that her dream of being a wife and mom had a time limit. It told her it needed to look a certain way to truly be the dream. Five years later, Katie has never been so thankful she chose to ignore what society thinks.

Five years ago, she wished for this life of hers. In an odd moment, in the middle of a normal day – a mere minute of her life changed everything. She wished for the life she has now – with her husband Connor and their children. The two were nowhere near that phase of a relationship, which made it even weirder. But somehow it felt right. Their lives were never the same from that day forward.


After more than one flight delay, Katie pulls into the driveway, later than she’d intended. She quickly grabs her purse and carry-on bag – having stuffed her weekend’s worth of clothes into it. The girl’s trip this weekend was as weird as she expected. It’s always going to be this way, she knows. When you don’t have to fight as long and hard for the life you’ve always wanted, you tend to not appreciate the little things in quite the same way as those who have. She loves her friends, but they spent the whole time complaining about their husbands and kids. Katie spent the whole weekend wishing she was home with hers. “I hope the kids are still up,” she says, as she opens the door and drops her bag and purse inside the entry way of the home she shares with Connor, their kids, and more pets than she cares to admit.

The second the door clicks shut, chaos ensues. Connor sees her from the kitchen island where he stands holding the baby – their toddler son wrapped around his leg. Their eldest, a four-year-old girl, who thinks she runs the world, is on top of the island dancing to music playing on the TV. In typical Connor style, he announces her presence in the most obnoxious way possible – causing one of their three kids and their niece who is now living with them, to scream in excitement and run toward her. “Mommmmyyyyy!!!” Their three dogs join the kids. Amelia, their eldest, steps onto the barstool at the island and jumps to the floor. Note to self, she thinks – find a way to talk to Connor about the kid dancing on the island. She hates sounding like she’s correcting his parenting. He’s the best dad. He just does things differently than she would sometimes. Thankfully so. She shakes her head laughing at the mess of crazies racing toward her.

In an instant, she is covered in kids and dogs. The kids are all talking at the same time and everyone but the baby is repeating the name she used to think she’d never hear – mommy. Mommy, guess what? Mommy did daddy tell you where we went? Mommy, did you bring us anything?

There’s this funny bit from a cartoon about a weird family. The mom is laying on the bed. The kid is saying mom’s name and then switches to various forms of mom. It’s nearly 30 seconds of him calling out to his mom. She lays on the bed, motionless – likely exhausted and overstimulated. He keeps going and then she finally yells, “WHAT?” He replies, “Hi,” and then laughs and runs away. Katie thinks about that scene when the days are long and the kids are sick or her husband is traveling for work again. When she’s tempted to roll her eyes, respond in frustration, or question her sanity for having little ones at her age – she reminds herself of the wish she made five years ago, alongside of the man she loved. She reminds herself that the two of them are their kid’s whole entire world. Every moment of chaos and craziness is a gift and they’re raising these wild little people to be strong, capable adults who will go on to do great things and maybe raise their own crazies.

The fatigue from her drive, after a long weekend away from her family, melts away in that instant. “One at a time,” she says patiently. Connor reaches her with their youngest, kissing her and handing her their mama’s boy, who just survived his first weekend without his mama. Oliver’s arms hug her neck tightly and she kisses his cheek. “One at a time,” she says again, when all the kids start talking at the same time as if she hadn’t said it the first time.

“They missed you,” Connor says. “I missed you.” He slips his arm around her waist. “Why don’t we let mom get in the house and sit down?” he says. The kids race back to the other room, the music still playing on the television. Connor pulls her close, Oliver between them. He kisses her again. He still turns her inside out and while they have their moments as everyone does, they are and always will be, designed for each other.

“I missed you, too,” she says. They pull apart though she wants to stand there in his arms a moment longer. “Can you grab my bag? I have stuff for the kids.” Katie walks into the family room to the kids turning somersaults and dancing – an hour past their bedtime. She watches the shenanigans of their overly stimulated, long past tired children and is already dreading getting them up in the morning.

Connor sets the bag on their coffee table and stands next to her, his hand resting on the small of her back. “It’s just one night,” he says, reading her mind as always. He has always known exactly what was on her mind. He smiles that smile that has been her obsession for the last five years. She smiles back because she cannot help herself when it comes to her husband.

“You’re right – as per the usual.” Katie sits down on the floor, sets Oliver in her lap, and reaches for the bag. Connor sits on the couch and turns down the music. Tears rise in Katie’s eyes. They’ll pay for this tomorrow. But for now, this man, the one she knows she was made for, and their family – are everything she ever wanted.

And this man and their family are precisely what she wished for.

Short Fiction by Elaina M. Avalos


Hiding Love?

kristin hannah, the nightingale kristin hannah, elaina avalos

I’m currently reading the novel, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I like the book and the characters more than some I’ve read recently. But I’m still reading so I’ll reserve my fully formulated thoughts on it until I’m done. There are some beautifully written phrases in this book that make me think.

This scene is one that stopped me in my tracks after reading it today:

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Isabelle seems unbreakable. She has a steel exterior, but it protects a candyfloss heart. Don’t hurt
her, that’s what I’m saying. If you don’t love her — ”

“I do.”

Vianne studied him. “Does she know?”

“I hope not.”

Vianne would not have understood that answer a year ago. She wouldn’t have understood how dark
a side love could have, how hiding it was the kindest thing you could do sometimes. “I don’t know why
it’s so easy for me to forget how much I love her. We start fighting, and…”

I sometimes feel as I’m reading this book, that I am most like Isabelle – of all the female characters in the book. I wouldn’t have expected that when I first started reading. But there are some similarities in our experiences, that I can’t quite deny. The scene above was one of those stop me in my tracks, moments. Vianne’s tenderness for her sister, in this scene, was a long time coming. In fact, it’s one of the reasons she’s not my favorite character. Her harshness toward her younger sister is entirely uncalled for. She is selfish. But there’s something about her saying, “She wouldn’t have understood how dark a side love could have, how hiding it was the kindest thing you could do sometimes,” that really got me thinking today.

Hiding love seems like the opposite of everything I believe and stand for. In most ways, it is. On the other hand, sometimes – it is what it is. Choosing to hide it, under some circumstances, may be what’s best for the one you love. In The Nightingale, Gaetan admits to Vianne that he loves her sister. He also says that he hopes Isabelle doesn’t know. To fully explain is to share spoilers for the book which I don’t want to do. But I will say that the characters are in the midst of loss and war all around them. For her well being, Gaetan doesn’t want Isabelle knowing how much he loves her.

Their work is dangerous. And life is fleeting in the midst of German occupied France. He made a decision – for her own protection and well being – that he wouldn’t let her see that love. He still makes choices that are protective and caring. But outside of that, he maintains his hard shell, to protect her from the things she won’t protect herself from. I’m sure there’s a chance that Isabelle’s steady and constant love for him – in spite of that – makes Gaetan love her even more. But Isabelle wouldn’t have known that through most of the book. I hope she knows before the end of the book.

So while hiding love seems antithetical to what I hold most dear when it comes to loving others, in some situations, it’s a necessarily painful part of loving another. I read through more than half of this book to get to the point where I could like Vianne more. This scene does it. But it also makes me love Gaetan (didn’t like him before this), for the way he protects the woman he loves, as best he can – in a situation that is unwinnable. To me, that is an incredibly beautiful love.

She wouldn’t have understood how dark a side love could have, how hiding it was the kindest thing you could do sometimes.


You Feel Like Home

You Feel Like Home

Knowing you feels like home. You feel like home. What a cruel world we live in. In all my years of life I have never known anyone I’ve felt more tied to or felt more in common with. I’ve never felt more at home with anyone.

What a cruel world I live in.

The world is cruel and exquisitely beautiful. So in the cruelty, I hold onto the beauty. And I count down the days until home stays forever.


National Drink Wine Day

Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir, Paul Hobbs 2020 Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast Russian River Valley

Who doesn’t love a fake holiday? I sure do. Any excuse to . . . eat my fav food, drink my favorite drinks, celebrate my weird dog . . . I’m game. Today is National Drink Wine Day so on that note, ¡Salud!

I thought I’d share a couple of great glasses of wine I’ve enjoyed lately.

This is my second bottle of Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir – though the first vintage was 2019. This Sonoma Coast – Russian River Valley wine, may quickly become my favorite, duking it out for the top spot with Casa Silva Carménère from Chile. I am just a little bit in love with Carménère right now.

This wine is so lovely. It’s a beautiful, ruby color with tobacco, cedarwood, and floral notes on the nose. This 14.3% ABV wine has a citrus-like acidity & a long finish. Flavors of berries – including cranberries – make this such an enjoyable wine. I love it. 😍 Maybe next time I’ll hold onto a bottle instead of opening within an hour of getting home from the wine store.

Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir, Paul Hobbs 2020 Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast Russian River Valley

Last weekend, I ran across Black Girl Magic – a red blend from McBride Sisters Wine Company. It was quite delicious with flavors of plum, vanilla, & my first thought that day, was oak. But now I’m kind of thinking tobacco. I loved it.

McBride Sisters Wine Company, McBride Sisters Collection, Black Girl Magic, Black Girl Magic wine, red blend wine, black girl magic red blend

I enjoyed it just as much the next day when I was enjoying whilst washing dishes in front of my open kitchen window. Just ignore the dirty window. 😉 It was a beautiful weekend – warm and bright. Today has been chilly but we return to spring temperatures tomorrow.

Tonight, I’ll be at one of those sip & paint things and have mini Charcuterie board-ish snacks to share. The spicy meat calls for a Riesling so that’s what I’m bringing. Speaking of spicy food, last night I had Mexican food and the tacos I ordered were some of the spiciest I’ve had in quite awhile. They were delish. While I do think Tempranillo or Rioja pair well with Mexican food, Riesling or other sparkling wines pair perfectly with food on the spicier end of the spectrum. Though I am more of a red fan, those dishes need the perfect compliment that doesn’t detract from the wine. Though sweeter than I normally go for, this one was great.

Pacific Rim wine, Pacific Rim Riesling, columbia valley washington riesling, columbia valley washington wine

I love the description of how to pair it.

Pacific Rim wine, Pacific Rim Riesling, columbia valley washington riesling, columbia valley washington wine

I’m not sure I agree about the “medium sweet.” But it is the perfect compliment to my meals the last two nights. What’s in your glass for National Drink Wine Day?


Come Bother Me, Baby

I have a weird love/hate relationship with this movie. There are things I love about it – just as I liked things about the book. But there’s weirdness in it too. For the most part, I think it’s the lead actress’ take on the character that I don’t care for. There are some good lines in the book/movie. I love that Travis sees through Gabby and continues to pursue her in spite of the messiness. She’s with someone else. She’s a little (or a lot) closed off. He’s kind of a pain and doesn’t take life too seriously – which annoys her. He’s exceptionally patient with her resistance. But not in a creepy way. Haha. I think he just sees her as she is and chooses to wade through the murky waters until she fully trusts him and his love.

In one of the most famous lines as he proposes, he says, “Come bother me baby, bother me for the rest of my life…” On a super commercialized holiday where people are spending gobs of money on out-of-season roses (as one example) to be FLOWN here from Colombia or elsewhere, I vote we change things up a bit.

I think we should do something different over the next year. Don’t worry about what the commercialized version of this holiday tells you is right. Just choose to love well. Choose to love when his (or her) defenses are up. Flirt in the kitchen. Leave her (or him) a note on March 1st, or June 20th, or February 12th where it will be seen first thing. Bring her a bottle of wine on a regular old Tuesday that doesn’t have anything to do with a freaking made up holiday.

Have a wildly inappropriate conversation at a wildly inappropriate time, for the sheer fun of making them laugh, or smile. Tell him on a Wednesday (that has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day) that you adore the shit out of him, can’t get enough of him, and can’t imagine your life without him. Pack up the car on a Friday, drive five hours to the beach or the mountains (or whatever) and spend a few days away, in the middle of April, reacquainting yourselves with each other – holding back the demands of jobs and whatever else distracts you.

It doesn’t have to be one day. It shouldn’t be one day. I want to know every day I possibly can, that my love – loves me and will just keep choosing me, flirting with me, and pursuing me. I want to be bothered and to feel thought of. For real – come bother me, baby. I mean, don’t just think that it’s only one day out of the year that your love wants to have your attention. I promise it’s not.

Lest this appears to be some kind of insinuation that this is a one-way street where the man shoulders most of the work, it absolutely is not. Why do I not see more women posting about what lengths they’ve gone to, to celebrate their “Valentine” on this day? Why is it that it seems like so much of the showering with gifts and attention is one-sided? It shouldn’t be that way.

So – here’s what I suggest, make a concerted effort to show your partner a little of that love and affection and random notes and gifts and cards, throughout the year. Don’t get caught up on *the* day of February 14th – a day literally created to make money. I promise you, it will be worth your time and effort. Starting tomorrow, spread it out and don’t get so hung up on making one day fit the mold.

P.S. Read this if you want a suggestion for what to buy next Valentine’s Day that doesn’t encourage overuse of pesticides and increase carbon emissions (360,000 metric tons of CO2 to fly those bad boys here).


If It’s Not Making You Better

mandy hale, if it's not making you better

I’ve been a real posty postington this weekend. Probably because I feel entirely inspired, fearful of what I’ve set myself up for – but also not caring because of the joy co-mingling with fear, and super hopeful all at once. What can I say? It’s a weird time. And I kind of love feeling all of the craziness of life.

As I get ready for a new week, with a Thai chicken dish cooking in the kitchen, pre-coverage of the “Big Game” on my TV, and editing of my novel, in progress – I’m still thankful and content. I don’t know what the future holds, but recent months have helped me settle into what I want for certain. The last few months have helped me remember what I know I deserve and what I bring to the table.

I hope I won’t have much time to post in the next few weeks because I need to focus on the novel. If it’s quiet, I’ll just leave you with that quote above.

“If it’s not making you better, it isn’t love. True love makes you more of who you are, not less.” – Mandy Hale



elaina m. avalos, poetry, poem by elaina m. avalos

The word she hasn’t heard,
Beautiful. The words she has,
Haunt. The arms that comfort,
Longing. The focus ahead,
Regardless. Nights still try to
Unravel all that she’s fought for.
Sometimes her demons nearly win.

By Elaina M. Avalos


A Thousand Years – A Prologue

~ Prologue ~

Rosa Moreno
Sonora, Mexico

Rosa Castillo met her husband, Ignacio, in a chance encounter. He was a quiet, mysterious sixteen-year-old. She was twelve and convinced instantly that he hung the moon. She would never forget that day. Good thing – because it would be years before she saw him again. Though she eventually grew to hate sounding emotional and fanciful, after being knocked around by life, back then – she knew the moment they spoke, she would love him for all of her days.

Ignacio Castillo, sixteen – grew up in California, but spent his summers in Rosa’s small community, near the Mar de Cortés, also known as the Sea of Cortez, in the Mexican state of Sonora. His great-grandparents built a second home there, with a view of the sea – that eventually became their full time home base. Though a few of his great aunts, uncles, and cousins had always lived there, his branch of the Castillo family had settled near the Pacific coast and along the Central Valley, long before California was California. Their Spanish blood intermingled with First Nations people – as it did in Mexico. California was as much a part of the Castillos, as was Sonora.

Ignacio’s great-grandpa made each of his four children swear that once he retired from ranching, they’d send the Nietos to Mexico each summer, even if it was just a few weeks. His Californian progeny happily sent their kids for as much of the summer they could spare them. Twelve of Rosa Moreno’s summers passed, before she laid eyes on Ignacio. She didn’t know the day they met that two short years later, the man of her dreams would go off to war, as one of 750,000 Mexican Americans who fought in World War II. She wouldn’t see him again until 1945.


“I want to go in. I’m thirsty,” Rosa said to her younger sister, Carolina. Carolina, in only the way a sassy ten-year-old can, whined in protest. It was hot. She was tired and hungry. She’d grown impatient with her sister’s social butterfly ways. Rosa was the exact opposite of Carolina. Carolina preferred her quiet reading corner – in the tiny bedroom, they shared.

“No! No more. It’s too hot, Rosa. I need to go home. Now.”

“You’re such a bore. Besides, this is the last stop. I’ll buy you a drink. A soda?”

“Mommy will kill you,” Carolina says. She was always the angel on the shoulder of her big sister – who rarely listened. Nonetheless, Carolina persisted.

“She’ll never know,” Rosa said, as she pulled her sister headlong into yet another store they couldn’t afford. They couldn’t afford it, because they couldn’t afford anything – barely eeking by in the years since their father left Carolina and Rosa alone with their mother. The door of the store slammed shut as a gust of wind blew through the store. The back door was propped open as the owner unloaded soda, candies, and name-brand snacks from across the border – food not sold anywhere else in town.

That’s when Rosa saw him. Ignacio stood in front of a display of cigarettes – which made him all the more attractive. He wore jeans, worn from work she guessed, cuffed at the bottom, and a polo shirt. His left hand was in his back pocket – a small hole in the pocket drew her attention. The Moreno girls lived in a small casita, their mother serving as a housekeeper for the second generation of the same family. But their enclave was a wealthy mirage in the dusty desert savannah that is Sonora. It wasn’t the norm to meet people her age, with similar economic backgrounds, in their town.

Something about the hole in his pocket made her heart skip a beat. Perhaps she wouldn’t quite give up hope of meeting someone of similar means, after all. Rosa, always intense, wildly brave, and the life of every party – knew it was now or never. She stepped right up to the display next to the slender young man, who couldn’t have been more than an inch or two taller than her. “Can I help you find something?” she asked, as if she’d worked there all her life.

“You work here?” he replied, a hint of something different in his accent.

“She doesn’t work here,” Carolina said dryly.

“I don’t. But so what. I can help you.”

Ignacio laughed. Rosa’s heart lurched into her throat. “I don’t need help. But thank you,” he said in English, catching even himself off guard, if the shaking of his head was any indication. He’d shaken his head as if he’d forgotten where he was – or who he was. He turned to face Rosa. “Shouldn’t you be at home? Aren’t you two, too young to be out roaming the streets, at dusk?” he asked, returning to Spanish. He smiled, his green eyes lighting up, as if sparks popped and crackled from them, lighting Rosa’s insides in a way she’d never experienced before.

“I am not too young,” Rosa huffed in reply.

“Right, niñita,” he said, emphasizing niñita.

His efforts to put Rosa in her place worked, because she suddenly felt little and ridiculous. Ignacio turned back to the display, picked up a pack of cigarettes, examined it, and then walked to the front of the tiny store. He looked around for the owner. “He’s outside,” Rosa said, recovering from her embarrassment and following him. “Do you live here?” Rosa asked. “You don’t look familiar. And you spoke in English.”

“Rosa, let’s go. Come on. Mommy will be so mad. We should have been home a half-hour ago,” Carolina said.

“I live here in the summer. My grandparents live here.”

“Where do you live the rest of the year?” Carolina asked.

“I live in California,” he said, quietly.

“California?” Carolina asked, sounding shocked.

“Yeah,” he said, shaking his head.

“What’s your name?” Rosa asked.

“Ignacio Castillo.”

Rosa’s heart sank. He was one of them, she thought. Rosa, even at twelve had strong feelings about how the world should work. Wealth was as dirty to her as the sewer. She’d inherited her father’s attraction to Marxism. “Oh,” she said, flatly.

Ignacio recognized the tone. He turned toward Rosa. “And your name is?” he asked, his Spanish perfect – without a hint of Americanization which she now knew is what she’d heard earlier.

“Rosa Moreno. My family is the type to clean Castillo houses and wipe the culos of your babies,” she replied. “Also, I’m a Marxist,” she said, reaching out to shake his hand. “Nice to meet you ricachón.” Ignacio returned the handshake and then laughed as Rosa turned tail and sauntered proudly out of the store, her sister following quickly behind her.


For two more summers, before the war started, Rosa Moreno prayed she’d run into Ignacio again. She never stopped thinking of him – memorizing the way he’d stood, the color of his polo shirt, his scuffed-up black shoes, and the small hole in his pocket. He was too old for her, she knew. But somehow, she couldn’t stop thinking of him. In spite of his last name, she knew he wasn’t like the rest of them. He couldn’t be. His worn jeans and the hole told her all the story she needed to know about him – he knew how to work. She made friends with every Castillo she could find, thereafter. She hung on their every word – hoping against hope his name would enter the conversation. Every so often, his name would float out in the midst of a conversation. She’d pieced together enough to know he was still alive at least. In 1943, she learned from her new friend, Isabella Castillo, Ignacio’s only sister, that he was a Corpsman, serving alongside Marines in the Pacific – a fact that filled her with fear.

Isabella told her that it had taken her two years to come to Sonora by herself, worrying constantly her brother wouldn’t return to them. But as the war dragged on, she missed her family and made the trip – though it seemed frivolous and pointless when the world was burning. The day they’d met was Rosa’s sixteenth birthday. She asked Isabella to send Ignacio a letter on her behalf. Isabella instead gave Rosa his address. She swore from that birthday on, she would spend every birthday thereafter, loving Ignacio Castillo – even if it took her years to see his green eyes again. She dreamed of him and prayed constantly for his safety and his return to Sonora. Two days after her eighteenth birthday, her prayers were answered.


Blaine Langston & Mercedes Castillo
Charlottesville, VA


Mercedes Castillo wasn’t exactly what one would call warm – at least not in adulthood. She was, however brilliant, tall, slender, elegant, and beautiful. She was, hands down, the smartest person most people in her circle would ever meet. She inherited the light skin of her mother’s side of the family and the dark brown-black hair and green eyes from her father’s side of the family. In many ways, she looked like a white girl. But her accent was thick and betrayed her constantly. Her mother’s one hill to die on was that her only surviving babies would never lose sight of who they were or the blood that coursed through their veins. There was no such thing as English in their household. It didn’t matter to Rosa Castillo that English was quickly becoming, with each passing year, a near requirement for most of the world.

       As a result of a 100% Spanish household, Mercedes’s accent was thick, though she spoke English fluently. She’d been homeschooled on the ranch until her mother finally succumbed to pressure from Ignacio, her husband, and allowed her children to attend the Pacific Valley School in Big Sur. The school was one school – serving elementary through high school kids. And while there were migrant children from time to time, Mercedes and her brother were the only Mexicans in a school full of Caucasian children. That fact didn’t help the growing chip on her shoulder. Though she’d been born as fierce as her mother, she learned in those years to quiet and close herself off from those who crossed her path. It was best that way. She inherited her mother’s discomfort with wealth and privilege, in spite of being surrounded by it. She also inherited her mother’s politics and disdain for most things her mother deemed white. Keeping everything and everyone at bay worked – for a while anyway.

       It worked until she was a freshman at Boston College and ran across a tall, broad football player by the name of Blaine Langston. His name even sounded like a terrible idea. Blaine and Mercedes, however, were instantly inseparable.


Blaine was drawn to Mercedes Castillo’s determination and wickedly brilliant mind. It didn’t hurt that she was the most beautiful woman he’d laid eyes on. Not a single girl in Boston or Virginia – where he was from, could hold a candle to her. But it was a hard-fought road for the couple. While Mercedes was wealthy, smart, and beautiful – she was a Mexican – a fact his parents mentioned in nearly every conversation they had with him, until the weekend he brought her home for the first time, the week he proposed to her.

       While Mercedes napped in her room in the Langston guest house, just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, the afternoon they’d arrived for a spring break visit, Blaine sat with his parents on their expansive back porch. “It’s just that this isn’t what I saw for you,” his mother said.

       Blaine laughed. “What you saw for me? What does that mean, mother? It’s almost 1970. What is wrong with you?”

“There are plenty of girls, from very good families, right here in Virginia.”

“You mean white families, right?”

“I’m not racist,” his mother says quickly.

“If it acts like a duck -”

“Don’t speak to your mother so disrespectfully, son,” his father interrupted.

“I’m not being disrespectful. It seems odd that the one girlfriend you object to is the one non-white girlfriend I’ve ever had.”

“This has nothing to do with all that,” his mother says. “You come from a very – how shall I say this? A very privileged family. We have roots in Virginia that date back to the Revolutionary War, for goodness sakes.”

Blaine laughed, dropped his head, and mustered the strength to devastate his mother’s fragile world. “The Castillo family has more old-world money than you and daddy could ever dream of. The Langston family will never – not ever, surpass their wealth unless there’s some kind of miracle. Mercedes is the most accomplished twenty-year-old I’ve ever met. She speaks French and English along with Spanish. She’s literally learning Mandarin Chinese – for the fun of it. She has traveled the world and seen far more than I have. And if you want to talk about roots, her family was in the United States long before we were.”

“You know what I mean,” his mother says in reply. “But I can see there’s no convincing you.”

Blaine laughs again, taking this as a sign that dollar signs now flash across his mother’s eyes. “There is no convincing me that anyone else besides Mercedes Castillo is meant to be my bride. I hope you will find it in your heart to accept her as your daughter. She is smart and  accomplished. She’s not afraid of military life. That has to count for something. I’ll be at TBS by next summer,” he says, standing up – his beer in his hands, facing a view he’d first come to love as a child when the house and land belonged to his grandparents.

“Is she . . .” his mother starts to ask a question.

“Catholic?” Blaine asks, interrupting her.


“She is.” His mother sighs, so he continues, “But she is willing to convert.”

“Well that’s a relief, at least,” she says. “I suppose you’re going to want grandma’s ring now?” his mother replies, haughtily.

“No. I don’t want grandma’s ring. I have her great-grandma’s ring. I talked to her father at Christmas. He gave it to me.” Blaine reaches into the pocket of his jacket. He’s worn the jacket since they arrived, the ring burning a hole in it’s pocket. His anxiety about his parent’s treatment of Mercedes complicated his hopes for a beautiful proposal, here on the land that he loved so much. He opens the black velvet ring box, handing it to his mother.

“Oh my,” she says. “That is the most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure I’ve seen a sapphire that size in person.”

“It is beautiful, isn’t it? Mercedes has dreamt her whole life about this ring. I’m grateful her parents are so accepting of me – to let me give this family heirloom to the woman I love.”

“That is lovely of them,” his father says, sounding contrite for his harsh tone earlier and the lack of affection shown to them upon their arrival.

“It is. They’re great people. Her mom is a little prickly. But I’m wearing Miss Rosa down.” He smiles wide. His mother smiles in return. It’s impossible to mistake the happiness on his face.

“I couldn’t find you!” The Langstons turn in unison toward the direction of the scratchy, husky voice of Mercedes Castillo. She’s standing near a wide oak tree, next to the patio.

Blaine’s smile grows wider still at the sound of her voice. “Sorry, Mercy – I forgot to tell you where you could find us at 5:00 PM, here at Weston House. We like to get a little sloshed before dinner, so we’re numb to our emotions before we sit down.”

“Blaine Langston! How dare you? Welcome, dear. I hope you had a nice nap,” his mother recovers quickly.

“Thank you,” she says before quickly climbing the steps. Mercedes is wearing ballet flats and a canary yellow cocktail swing dress, with a white belt. Her hair is wrapped in a bun and a small set of pearls hangs from her slender neck. “I had a wonderful nap. I slept so soundly I thought I’d missed dinner.”

“Can I get you a drink?” Blaine’s father asks. He names off a white wine, seltzer water, two kinds of beer, a cola, and champagne – quieting as he says the vintage, but not the name – as if Mercedes couldn’t possibly know about it.

“The Pol Roger would be lovely,” Mercedes says, knowing the label well.

“Of course,” Blaine Langston, senior says – as he reaches for a flute to pour Mercedes a drink. “Cheers,” he says as he hands her the drink. They clink glasses.

“Do you drink Pol Roger, often?” his mother asks, her earlier haughtiness returning.

“I wouldn’t say often. My parents are wealthy – not me. I don’t go around ordering it when Blaine and I go out to eat. But we drink it on special occasions along with my family’s wine.”

“Your family makes wine? How quaint,” Adeline Langston says.

Blaine clears his throat, crosses the patio, slips his hand into Mercedes’s free hand, and whispers something in her ear. Mercedes takes a sip of the champagne. She sniffs the champagne lightly before taking another sip. Mercedes says to no one, “This vintage has the most lovely floral and woodsy notes.”

“What’s that?” Adeline Langston asks.

Blaine squeezes Mercedes’s hand. She whispers to him, “It’s fine. I’m a big girl.” She raises her voice a bit and tries with all her might to dampen the thickness of her accent, “The champagne – I was saying this vintage has the most lovely floral and woodsy notes.”

“Oh. Yes. It’s quite good,” Adeline says in reply, apparently uncertain how to respond.

“And yes, we do make wine. We have made wine for hundreds of years. It’s a long-standing tradition for the Castillo family. I will bring you some next time,” Mercedes says, standing taller, straightening out her slender 5’8 frame. Blaine smiles at his beautiful girl. She has no fear, he thinks – not even of Blaine and Adeline Langston. It’s confirmed seeing her stand so proudly in front of his two snobbish parents – there could never be any other woman for him.


A Thousand Versions of A Thousand Years

I removed my post about the short story. Why? Because it’s not my story to write yet. It doesn’t feel right. Maybe someday. I may write another in its place. What I can’t let go of is the book that has had my heart for a few years now. There are a thousand versions (slight exaggeration) of A Thousand Years. It has changed so much that I sometimes wonder if I should talk about it. The posts about it are still live, however.

A Thousand Years is much more than a love story. It’s a family’s story. It’s about family, blended families, and creating a life of meaning with those you love – regardless of the world’s very tight and linear definition of family. It’s about dysfunction and how to love hard through it. But the more I wrote about Birdie & Graham, the more I knew that Birdie would never be the character I wanted her to be, if I started in the present day. Birdie is who she is because of the family that built her. She chose to love the men she loved because of the way she was molded. She is the parent she is because of the good (and bad) she’d witnessed and experienced herself.

I love Birdie. I wasn’t really doing her justice by jumping into her story the day she met Graham or the day they found their way back to each other. And so, I’ve been working my way through new aspects of Birdie’s life. The only way to start this thousandth version of this novel was to go way back to the parents and grandparents that molded Birdie into the woman she would become. The novel still tells her story. But the prologue begins theirs. I think it might be easier to understand and love her parents and grandparents if you meet them before you meet Birdie.

New thoughts on an old work in progress..

  1. This novel heavily features a Mexican family. There are absolute similarities between my own precious grandparents (on my dad’s side) and Birdie’s grandparents. But the prologue is not their story – other than the fact that my grandpa was in the Army as a medic during WWII. Oh, also, my Grandpa is from the state of Sonora in Mexico. When you meet them later in the novel, that is where more of their story comes into play. My grandparents were sweetly in love. It hadn’t always been that way. But my grandpa adored my grandma in the most beautiful way I’d ever seen a man love a woman. She didn’t always deserve it. But then again, he didn’t deserve her faithful love for many years, either (according to his own words to me). Though he passed away before she, he tried so desperately keep his heart pumping so he could be there to care for until the end. She had Alzheimer’s. He doted on her in a way that will forever be my hope for my own future love story. Anywho…the love story of Rosa Moreno and Ignacio Castillo is not unlike the love story of Amelia and Emilio Avalos. I love my grandparents so much.

2. I’ve added to the playlist as the story takes me further back – about song 130 is where I started to feel like I’d started this novel in the wrong place. My grandma was a music lover and when me and Matt were with her, we listened to everything from mariachi music to Michael Jackson. 🙂 While cleaning at her house on summer mornings, it wasn’t unusual to listen to Canciones de mi Padre by Linda Rondstadt or Thriller.

3. I’ll share the prologue shortly. The novel itself definitely starts in California. There’s no other place to start it. But all bets are off about where it goes from there. There was a time I expected to land this novel in the mountains of North Carolina. I’m not sure that will happen now. We’ll see. 🙂 I reserve the right to write whatever I want. Here is my Pinterest inspiration board. Well darn, it doesn’t want to share the right board. Whatever. You get the point. I’ll share the prologue shortly.

Had to come back to add my grandma & grandpa’s favorite song! Sabor a Mi (the Eydie Gorme version in particular) was their song.


Invisible String

you deserve to be loved and chosen, elaina avalos

I’d chose you. And keep choosing you. Just say the word. I deserve this too. So I won’t give up until I find it.

AVA, the heavy heavy gravity of you, elaina avalos

Cold was the steel of my axe to grind
For the boys who broke my heart
Now I send their babies presents
Gold was the color of the leaves
When I showed you around Centennial Park
Hell was the journey but it brought me heaven

Time, wondrous time
Gave me the blues and then purple pink skies
And it’s cool, baby, with me
And isn’t it just so pretty to think
All along there was some
Invisible string
Tying you to me?
– Taylor Swift


Twin Flame

I started a short story last weekend about meeting your “Twin Flame.” The story is terrible. It’s terrible because I tried to rush through it. I also started it in the wrong place. I have a tendency to do that. It needed to start with the moment the couple met, versus backstory.

I am going to try and tackle it again this coming weekend. It may show up in a novel someday. The concept of a twin flame is one that I used to believe had a negative connotation. I had this belief because I read articles that were coming at this soul connection from an unhealthy perspective. In other words, the writers were describing unhealthy relationships that were intense and passionate – confusing the intensity and passion with a twin flame connection.

The twin flame is different than a soul mate. While intense, it shouldn’t be confused with unhealthy patterns. Twin flames are often said to be one soul – in two bodies. The couple in this situation has an instant attraction that goes beyond the physical/infatuation in the early stages of a relationship. They instantly feel connected and at home with each other. Their compatibility is on a soul level. When described, a common phrase or theme in writing is that their souls sort of instantly recognize each other, feel at home with each other, and may feel whole for the first time. It’s not that another person makes them whole, but rather they are so deeply connected to that other person, they’re the best most whole version of themselves. It’s also the most unique relationship they’ve had – with each person helping the other become their best selves.

Another common characteristic is that they will eventually part ways – sometimes permanently. Those that reunite, do so stronger than they were before. You only have one twin flame. While you may be able to experience a soul mate level love with more than one person, twin flames are a once-in-a-lifetime kind of love.

The short story I started writing was about this once-in-a-lifetime love – with the soul that mirrors your own. As I mentioned, I think it’s possible that it could be an entire book. Writing a short story and developing the characters and plot a bit is helpful to me. I thought the novel I started three years ago (A Thousand Years) was a twin flame kind of novel. But it’s looking very different these days and is more about family ties versus romantic relationships. I think I’m in a better stage of life to write that twin flame story now though.

I will see what I come up with this weekend. I might share the story here (if it doesn’t suck then as bad as it sucks now). 🙂

Have you met your twin flame? If so, how did you know they were that one soul that was another part of yourself?


How Much Light

I’m a huge Ryan Adams fan. I will always say that his music became a soundtrack for some of the happiest days of my life. He’ll be on tour soon. In April, he has a show in Paris. I cannot even stand the thought. That would be a dream come true. While I wish that I had the cash to make a trip like that, it doesn’t look possible. But it sure is a fun thing to imagine.

His writing is some of my favorite. My random musical taste is all over the place. Some of it I love without any deep tie or love of the lyrics. That is not the case with Adams. I love how he writes. As a writer of fiction, his music inspires me and there isn’t a week that goes by without hearing his music somewhere in my week.

“The way back home’s through the wild and the winds
The way back home’s in your arms
All my life I’ve been searching for someone and
I could never get it right
I could never get it right
I’ve never seen so much light

How much light ’til the ocean tips over and it
Crashes on the beach like its blacker than it’s bluer
Underneath the sun in a cloudless sky
How much light

How much sound ’til my name starts breaking
My hearts all done and it’s yours for the taking
All my life I’ve never seen so much light”
Songwriter: Ryan Adams


She Walked Alone

six word bio, elaina avalos, elaina m. avalos

Recently, I came across a writer’s Facebook post. She’d shared (here) a post from a professor who wanted students to come up with a six word bio to describe themselves. The professor went first. The bio was, “That beautiful stranger loved me once.” So intriguing. If that was a tag line for a novel, I’d probably buy it.

But I’ve wondered what my six word bio would be. I’ve come up with a few – like the one above. I love with my whole heart. That has always been true. It will always be true.

I had another one that I almost went with. It was, “She walked alone, it’s grown old.” But then I thought maybe that was a little depressing. Depressing but true, so here I am sharing. As modern women, I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to reflect something different – something less emotional and more bullet proof. Right? We’re supposed to live our lives not needing a man for anything. Isn’t that the message?

It’s a whole lot of BS. The truth is, I’ve been alone for long enough. I don’t need to pretend. It’s not a weakness to need community, companionship, love, affection, and to live your life with someone else. I haven’t once and will not ever wait around to pursue what I want. My weekend was characterized by rest, trying to work myself back into an exercise routine, writing, a little cleaning, and today – I cooked all afternoon (which I love to do). In other words, I do my thing and I refuse to be miserable because life isn’t exactly what I envisioned.

It’s not as though I don’t make the most of each moment. I’m working so very hard on that very thing. I wasted too much time in the past. Nonetheless, it has still grown far too old – walking this path alone. I will forever live in each moment, wherever it takes me. I’d just like to do it alongside my best friend and partner. Tell me I’m not the only one. So yeah, I love with my whole heart and walking alone has grown old. Granted, the heartache and alone-ness gave me some good writing fodder. But I have a great imagination so I’d be good with less of that now. 🙂

I’m looking forward to the next adventure (that I hope is around the corner). I hope I’ll be on that adventure with my true companion.

What would your six-word bio be?


Stay Close to People Who Feel Like Sunshine

stay close to people who feel like sunshine, elaina avalos

It’s been gloomy here on the coast of the Carolinas. I can endure cold, bad weather, and I don’t hate snow or ice. But when it’s dark and you can’t see the sun for days on end, I get a little cranky and uncomfortable. Today, after multiple days of fog, rain, and misty spitting rain (consistently ruining my new haircut) – the sun finally visited. Tonight, it will be 22 and breezy. Tomorrow it will be around 43 & windy – chilly for the coast, for sure. But the sun will be shining and that’s all I care about at this point.

I grew up in Southern California where I’ve jokingly said all of my adult life that we don’t have “weather.” I mean, they don’t really. It’s sunny most of the time and rain is infrequent (except for lately). I love that I now get to live in a place with real weather. But none of this is really the point of my post.

Stay close to people who feel like sunshine.

Have you heard the quote – stay close to people who feel like sunshine? I was thinking about it today as the sun finally made its appearance through the clouds. The joy that fills my heart when I’m around people like this is . . . unmatched. I just want more and more of it. I can’t get enough of it. I can’t get enough of them. This is what it’s like when you find your match – in friendship or in love. They’re like a ray of sunshine that warms you from the inside out – even when it’s cold outside. Even when life is hard and weird and nothing makes sense and you can’t imagine how things will line up and come together, you just want more.

I just want more. Stay close.


The Power to Make You Smile

JmStorm, the power to make you smile

Of all my abilities,
the power to make
you smile is by far
my favorite and I
intend on using it
– JmStorm

It is absolutely a powerful thing to make someone you care about, smile (or laugh). It’s one of my favorite things.


Relationship Goals

MADAM SECRETARY, elizabeth mccord, henry mccord, relationship goals
Just Another Normal Day — While Elizabeth works to successfully broker a peace treaty between China and Japan, a Chinese student seeking political asylum threatens the deal. Meanwhile, tensions rise at home between Alison and Stevie during Alison\’s sleepover party, on MADAM SECRETARY, Sunday, Oct. 12 (8:01-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Henry McCord (Tim Daly) and Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni), shown. Photo: Barbara Nitke/CBS ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

As a writer, I always write a love story into my novels even if it’s not ultimately what the story is about. I don’t write romance. But I’m a sucker for a good love story, just the same. I’ve been reading a lot so far this year and I’m picking up on some trends in these relationships that I’m not a huge fan of. Mostly I get a little uncomfortable with characters who don’t seem to have much in the way of . . . hmm, what’s the word? Imperfections.

The novel I’m reading now is not my favorite, in general. But oddly enough, the hero – who I’m supposed to adore (because a ton of other women do), is kind of the worst part. He’s too much. He’s too much of everything. He’s unreal. If I met this guy in real life, I’d be a little suspicious of him. I already know what’s ahead, because I’ve seen the television series based on the book. He’s less perfect on the show – which is slightly more comforting. But overall, he’s written this way in the novel (perfect), without realistic negative characteristics. It’s sheer fantasy.

Reading this book has made me realize a fault in a character I’d written previously and in the hero in my novel in progress. Reading is an escape. It can be fun to read books and watch movies that aren’t terribly realistic on one hand. On the other, if the characters don’t ring true, ultimately I’m not going to like the book, show, or movie.

Elizabeth McCord:
[At the sight of Henry repairing gutters in a light snow] Well, there’s a sight that never gets old. You know, if men knew how sexy they looked fixing stuff, they’d never stop.

Henry McCord:
I can’t feel my hands.

I’ve been re-watching “Madam Secretary” over the last week or so. I tend to re-watch my favorite shows or movies when I don’t know what else to watch. If you haven’t seen it before, “Madam Secretary” is a television show about the Secretary of State. She is a former CIA operative and her husband was a Marine pilot that later went on to work for the Defense Intelligence Agency, after a career as an academic. I love shows or movies about politics or current affairs and this show has some episodes that are ripped from the headlines. There is plenty of intrigue and political wrangling.

But the reason I adore this show is because of the relationship between the Secretary of State (Elizabeth McCord) and her husband, Henry. These two are relationship goals. They are partners in every sense of the word. Their affection for each other is obvious – they have a cute relationship. But the best part of their marriage, in my opinion, is their deep respect for each other and the advice they seek and give to each other. They argue. They don’t always agree. This is real life. Their relationship, however, doesn’t suffer over time. The conflict only draws them closer together as they remain committed to their marriage and each other, whatever happens.

This is the kind of relationship I want. It’s also the kind of relationship I want to write about. As I work on two different writing projects, this is foremost in my mind. I hate reading or watching what could be a great couple/relationship that is entirely built on infatuation with characters that are so perfect it’s creepy.

Who wants to read about a couple or hero/heroine that is so good, they come off as trouble waiting to happen? I’d take the imperfections any day. In the book I’m reading now, the hero is so perfect – even his troublesome character flaw is rooted in his status as a hero. I’d take an Elizabeth and Henry McCord relationship, kind of relationship – over this relationship in the novel, any day.

I aspire to write characters like the McCords.


I Will Wait

I’ve got to have music in my life – on a daily basis – or my world just doesn’t seem right. My taste can be super random and sometimes depends on what I’m writing. One of my novel playlists now has everything from The Avett Brothers to Otis Redding and Eydie Gormé. Yeah. I don’t know either. I’m weird.

But sometimes I fall back on old favs. I Will Wait, from Mumford & Sons, popped up today. It certainly fits the mood.

This also fits the mood:

Maybe some of this…

I’ve got a huge to-do list over the next week, so I’ll have to keep the music going to keep my head in the game. Please tell me I’m not the only random music lover, out there?

Who are some of your random favorites?