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Follow Your Passion

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In April, I wrote this post about dreaming about what comes next. In the months since – I started thinking about the future, dreaming, and applying for jobs. But, without any job offers and only one interview, I grew a little discouraged. At every turn I felt like I missed opportunities to move out of the area and into my next career. Beyond what I hope it means for my career – I also hope this change opens the door to meet someone. As in – someone to build a life with. The pickins’ are slim up in this joint (haha).

Now that I’m nearing the end of a work “project,” I truly have the full freedom to pursue a move out of state – or even the country – I’m nervous about taking the first steps. But I’m ready for something new. Have you ever felt that? Maybe I’d describe it as being certain that you need something new, but the path you’re taking to where you want to go, isn’t quite certain.

What I know for certain is that I no longer have a passion for what I’m doing. I once did. I probably still would. But with changes beyond my control, to the program I’ve given much of my adult life to, it’s not the same. But I’ve felt the pull to move on to something different, for some time. I found the dream in 2019. It was the right job, but the wrong place. That is what I dream of now – getting back to that place. I’m going to follow my passion. And while I don’t know exactly how all of this will come together, I do know the pieces will fall into place soon.

What has helped you gain clarity, when you’ve been on the precipice of major change? What advice have you been given or used, for planning major life change?

I listen to Being Well, a podcast by Dr. Rick Hanson and his son Forrest, often. Recently, they aired an episode that is helping form the foundation for how I will make decisions in the near future. I’ll be listening again this week. The title is, “How to Make a Big Decision.” If you are interested, you can find it here.

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Meet Me Here

John Donne, Elaina Avalos, Elaina M. Avalos, The Bait

Meet me here, when the days become long and the light turns golden.

Meet me here, when life is light and simple. And when the tempest rages. I want to face both – with you beside me.

Meet me here, when you need to break and can’t bear the world one more moment.

Meet me here – where I will keep you wild – as long as you keep me safe.

By: Elaina M. Avalos

Random musings on poetry: John Donne is a favorite poet, though a couple of my Lit professors found him tiresome and a chauvinist. I always thought their take a bit much. I think he was probably cheeky, sarcastic, and a poet familiar with the dark side of life (darkness in himself and others). He wrote one of my favorite sonnets of all time, about that very topic. But that’s another story.

One of my favorite Donne “conceits” is from “A Valediction: Forbidden Mourning” in which he compares his lover and himself as “twin” compasses (in this case a draftman’s compass). He writes that he must leave – but like the “fixed foot” of the compass, whatever circular route he takes, he will make his way back to her – his love – to “end” where he began.

“Come live with me…” I will always love “The Bait” for its way of twisting itself into many forms, depending on who reads it (to include Christian undertones). I read it as a description of the beauty and pleasures that this love brings the couple. Come live with me…

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The Trouble With Wanting

“And if you never come back
If you never call
I say I’ll understand when I don’t at all

‘Cause the trouble with wanting is I want you
The trouble with wanting is I want you
The trouble with wanting is I want you
And I want you all the time”
– Joy Williams

I don’t understand. I don’t think I ever will. But I’m certain, somewhere in the quiet places, I’ll always miss you. Around dark corners, when the busy days grow quiet – I will wonder. I will think of you.

These days, when the day fades, in the quiet of these humid summer evenings, I wish to understand. But the artist in me knows that the beauty in life, is often found in the grey. In the hazy spaces, where things don’t make sense, is where life grows deeply vibrant. Pain turns to growth. We find truth, art, beauty. It’s sometimes buried deep – but by God – it’s there.

My greatest joy has always been born from pain.

I am not sure I’ll ever understand. But I’ve certainly learned, in a way that makes me a better version of me, from what I’ve lost or don’t understand. And you, the man I’d burn it all down for, are no different.

“There are more questions than answers. In the beauty of this wild thing, I long for you. What is and will not be follows me around like a coastal fog. Through the haze I see you. I don’t hold it against you – you can’t tame wild things.

I live here in this tension, with what will not be, settling into the cold, wild – alone.”

I don’t hold it against you.

But, I think somewhere in my heart, I will always miss you.

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Where the Light Gets In

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If God but cares for our inward and eternal life, if by all the experiences of this life He is reducing it and preparing for its disclosure, nothing can befall us but prosperity. Every sorrow shall be but the setting of some luminous jewel of joy. Our very morning shall be but the enamel around the diamond; our very hardships but the metallic rim that holds the opal, glancing with strange interior fires.

— Henry Ward Beecher

Twelve months and change – my, how my world has changed. The clock was ticking then. I should have known the confusion swirling around me, would lead me here. If I could do it over again, I would see my blind spots, the fissures you invaded and filled – and instead of letting my guard down, I’d shine extra light on those holey spaces. Breathing in my worthiness, because of Grace. Breathing in a love I deserve. There’s no time like the present though. I breathe in the hope and exhale the confusion. I breathe in the worthiness inherent in me – for the love I’ve waited for. I breathe out the rejection. I breathe in, peace. I exhale out a need to understand. In these holy spaces, where the light reflects off of the fissures in my heart, I know I’m only becoming the best version of myself. Whether I walk this path alone or another meets me along the way, the cracks are where the light gets in. Like the opal, it’s those fissures and light, that make me beautiful.

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You Own Everything That Happened to You

Anne Lamott, You Own Everything That Happened to You, Elaina Avalos, Elaina M. Avalos

I’ve held back. I’ve held back personally, professionally, and in my writing. I’ve been quiet when I should have been loud. I’ve shrunk back from speaking the truth. More importantly, I’ve done that in my writing – in ways I hate to admit.

You own everything that happened to you. I own everything that happened to me. I won’t be holding back – in how I live, how I write, and what I write. Whether it’s the truth about the hurt (and who has hurt me), the love, or the great joys in life – it’s all fair game, going forward. I’ve lived in the shadow of other people’s expectations for too long.

I refuse to do so any longer.

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Know When to Let Go

I’m waiting in a parking lot for my boss’s father in law to drop off some food we will be serving at upcoming events. Sounds weird without more context, I’m sure. But as I wait, I’m thinking a lot about the next month ahead. There will be more opportunities than I can count, to let go, practice mindfulness, and work on meditating my way through what will be some challenging circumstances. In these quiet few minutes while I wait, I wanted to share this podcast, which has helped me today, to know when to let go.

I listen to it often. This one hit in just the right spot. There are a number of things, people, and circumstances I need to let go of. What I appreciated about this particular episode was the way that they addressed the fact that there are absolutely times when we need to let go and walk away. And times when we do need to stick it out. But – our American mindset of never give up, can sometimes be unhealthy.

Navigating which is which could be tricky. But I think Dr. Hanson gave some great pointers for figuring out what could be yellow or red flags to help you determine when to let go, walk away, etc. The direct link is: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/being-well-with-dr-rick-hanson/id1120885936?i=1000528595921.

I hope you find it helpful. I did.

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International Kissing Day

International Kissing Day, Elaina Avalos, Elaina M. Avalos, pexels-edward-eyer

Apparently, today is “International Kissing Day.” Who comes up with these days, anyway? Kissing, I feel you should know, is a favorite activity of mine. But, I’m not doing any kissing on International Kissing Day which is a damn shame. I am working on a novel again, however (thank you, sweet baby Jesus). As I write a new love story, (the secondary plot) and think up ways to draw these two together, I’m personally feeling a little neglected in the romance department (haha). Because I write about love and relationships, I’m always looking for inspiration anywhere I can find it (since romance in my real life is non-existent).

Here are some favorite quotes about kissing & a couple favorite scenes from my favorite fictional movie characters:

“Kiss me, and you will see how important I am.” ― Sylvia Plath

“Now a soft kiss – Aye, by that kiss, I vow an endless bliss.” ― John Keats

“No, I don’t think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.” Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind (Rhett is terribly misunderstood & was far too good for Scarlett)

“When my date takes me home and kisses me good night, if I don’t hear the philharmonic in my head, I dump him.” — The Mirror Has Two Faces

“I didn’t want to kiss you goodbye — that was the trouble — I wanted to kiss you good night — and there’s a lot of difference.”
― Ernest Hemingway

“A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.”
― Ingrid Bergman

And my favorite: “I’m so glad they still work. I haven’t used them for kissing in such a long time, more like for wearing lipstick and whistling.” — Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give

If you’re a female that grew up in the 80s (and 90s too) and you don’t adore Anne & Gilbert, from Anne of Green Gables, I’m taking your chick card.
The friendship between Kathleen & Joe in You’ve Got Mail, is one of my all-time favorite romance/friendships in a movie.
Great, great line. Also, poor Rhett. He deserved better.

Have any favorite love stories from books or on screen, that you’d care to add to my list?

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Don’t Should On Yourself

I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve wanted to – but it hasn’t been there. The words are jumbled in my head. I couldn’t quite get them to flow to my fingertips. There have been some tough things going on. If I didn’t work where I work, I might share. Maybe they’ll appear in a book someday (people who have been mean to me should watch out – haha). I haven’t been able to work on the novels, either. Last weekend, I got a stack of books at the library on our local military installation. I came home and read non-stop (except to sleep) the rest of Saturday and all day Sunday. It was glorious. I read more this week than I have in ages (after work). I come home and climb into bed to read. The TV hasn’t been on much. It has been restful in that sense.

The energy to work on the novels has been missing. The inspiration feels a little lost in the challenges of the day to day. In other news, my muse is being a real $%&* and doesn’t feel like coming out to play. But one thing I’ve learned lately is to accept what is in the moment. There’s so much freedom in that. I don’t feel much desire to coax it out of me. I’m dealing with a bunch of stuff I’d rather not. Why beat myself up if I don’t feel it right now?

That said, I’m making an attempt this evening, whilst making a cake and potato salad (haha), to do a little reading in my manuscript, with the hopes I can get the juices flowing again. But I will say that if it doesn’t happen, I’m not putting many “shoulds” on me going forward.

So I guess that’s what this little post is about – don’t should on yourself. There’s so much pressure around us to be and do things that others think we should do and be. We do it to ourselves, too. I can’t do that anymore. The pressure I’ve placed on myself is not pressure that needed to be placed on me.

So tonight, if I end up climbing in bed to read more of Beach Music, that’s the way it goes. A lot has happened. I don’t know what the future holds. I mean, I know what I want. What will actually be? No clue. I have carried more than I needed to. I’m certain others can relate. So I’m sharing here to encourage you to do the same – don’t should on yourself.

As for the song, I’m all over the place right now – uncertain about the future, missing what’s missing, and a little confused. But I have a high hope. Things don’t make sense now. But I’m certain they will. So while I’m waiting for the picture to be more clear, I’ll keep hoping and praying for what I’ve waited for, for so long.

“Know you’re coming from a bad place
Honey, I was there just yesterday
So I know the time it’s gonna take
For you to feel like you again

Wonder if you’re seeing colours yet
And if your spirit needs a tourniquet
‘Cause if it does I can hold you tight enough
Help you forget ’em for a minute, love
I know you got a heart of gold
You wear it like an olden rose

I’ve got a high, high, high, high hope
We can climb this burning rope
And I’ll be here if you need me
If you don’t, just know
I’ve got a high, high, high, high hope”

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The Storm – A Short Story

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Photo by Dasha Musohranova from Pexels

I was born to love you.

The day I was born, a violent storm ripped through town. It was the stuff legends were made of – or so I’ve been told for the last forty years. Walls of torrential rain fell, washing away hillsides, leaving homes teetering on cliffs, flooding streets, downing trees, and pelting everything in sight with hail. When you grow up in a desert, this is significant news. The newscasters from the city called it the storm of the century. Law enforcement had to pull people from their trapped vehicles. In the midst of it all, I came into the world screaming like a banshee on the side of the road – my parents unable to reach the hospital. Instead of a sterile hospital room, I made my appearance in the world, with unforgiving amounts of rain pouring down on my dad’s truck and the scent of the desert in a storm – unlike anything in all the world – reminding my mom we lived in an unforgiving desert, harsh and brutal. And then all at once exquisitely beautiful, as the colors take your breath away – as the sun rises and sets and when the night sky tells the story of the Creator’s sovereignty. Under those clear skies, not marred by a city skyline and lights, you can feel Him, right clear through to your bones. I decided long ago, the desert is the best place to find Him – brutal and harsh though it is.

My Mom and Grandma would tell you that’s when they knew. “It’s a sign,” they used to say, when the story of the storm and my birth would be retold. Most of the time, it was followed by, “She’s destined for great things.” I come from a long line of strong women. But they were all tied down by the past and the generations before them. Everyone one of them struggled to claw their way out – each barely scraping by and stepping one step further than the one before. Somehow, I became their opportunity. I would be the one. You will be the one, they all told me. These words have played like a song on repeat, in my head – for as long as I can remember. It defined me. My will is indestructible. I have survived what most could not.

I tried to set my world on fire – as they dreamed for me. I worked harder than everyone around me. But still, in all the years of sacrifice, hoping to live up to the expectation, there’s always a faint scent of disappointment because I’m not what they imagined. I have toiled unseen and unnoticed. There’s nothing great about me.

That is, on my own, there’s nothing great about me. I’m half of the puzzle. The rest of the pieces were missing until the day my world collided with his. I questioned everything until that day.

I was born to love you, I say to him every chance I get. I know this now.

I wasn’t the storm destined for greatness. He is destined to shake foundations and change the people and places he touches.

I was born in the storm, so I would know him when I saw him.

I knew him when I saw him.

Story continued . . . soon.

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You’re a river…

Yesterday, I shared about being stuck. I interviewed for a job in South Carolina last week. I found out today, that I didn’t get it. The thing is, I’ve been trying to work myself into a new career for quite some time. In my current role, what I write and share is becoming more challenging. And I haven’t even gotten to what I really need to write and share. Never mind the fact that I feel the current career is not compatible with the family life I’ve waited and prayed for for so long. And yet, I feel strongly that leaving my current career path – that I can’t seem to move out of – is part of me fulling stepping into my calling in life. Isn’t that weird?

There are other things that I think might fall into place if I change roles, too. I’m stuck in many different ways. It feels a little like torture. I know that the popular thing is to say is that a closed door means something isn’t meant for you. And while I’d agree that maybe that specific job isn’t meant for me – what the overall goal is? No dude. Those closed doors are not indications that I’m barking up the wrong tree with my calling and what I’m meant to do and be.

If you’re in a similar position where your dream continues to be pushed back – or in part anyway – keep pressing. I have had to work through plenty of discouraging barbs today as I think about why I’m still where I’m at. I don’t understand. It’s rough. But I wanted to share a little encouragement, because I sure needed it. I’m sure someone else does, too.

There’s an account I follow on Instagram (@wetheurban). There are often super encouraging tidbits posted each day. But here’s the one that blessed me this afternoon, “Free yourself from worrying your mind about ‘how it was supposed to be’ and try to practice non-attachment. You’re a river, not a rock.”

I hope that someone, somewhere finds that encouraging. I did.

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I Was Born to Love You

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There’s a song I love – “I Was Born to Love You” by Ray LaMontagne. It runs through my mind constantly these days. I’ve sat down about fiddy billion times, to write something based on the song – but every time I do – life takes over and I lose my mojo.

There’s a lot going on at the moment. I haven’t written consistently in a couple weeks. It’s a huge bummer. I was writing a ton. There are things going on at my day job – throw in some stuff on my heart – and phew, after work, I just don’t have anything left. But this song – this song. I was born to love you – the lyrics play over & over again in my head – as I wonder when I’ll get unstuck from this place that costs me far too much.

The problem is, that when I set out to write or work toward other goals, reality steps in and I can’t quite get there. There’s a saying that goes something along the lines of create a life you don’t need a vacation from. While I don’t 100% agree with that statement, because life isn’t always gonna be walk in the park/vacay, there’s something to that idea. For years now, I’ve been trying to re-arrange my professional life in a way that makes room for what I’ve wanted most for my life. It seems that I can’t quite get there though. For me, creating this life is about making room for what matters most to me, what I feel most called to do, and somewhere in there – the family that has eluded me so far. It’s not that these things aren’t possible in my current career, they’re just constrained is all – especially now.

I read the following on Steven Furtick’s Facebook page – posted a short time ago, as I was writing this meandering & weird missive, “When you feel stuck, that means you’re on the verge of something significant. God has his hand on your life. Don’t stop now.” In this moment when I am feeling more stuck than ever before, when I’m tempted to think the struggle is a sign (that I should give up), I’m more certain than ever before, that I’m on the right track.

I was born to love you. I’m going to write it – as I wrote Wild Things, when the reminder of another favorite song seemed to fit my August of 2020, so well. It’s my little act of defiance and a reminder to myself of what I hope is waiting on the other side.

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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.

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Wooden Saints & Pluff Mud

beaufort south carolina, elaina m. avalos, parris island, lowcountry,
Marsh sunsets

I drove south, about 250 miles, this afternoon. Though I’ve lived near the coast of North Carolina (aka Eastern North Carolina) for most of the last 20 years (with a few detours along the way), I saw country this afternoon I’ve never seen before. No matter how many times I encounter these backroads swamps, corn fields, or sweet potatoes – stretching out forever – nestled between thick pine forest, it still catches this city girl by surprise. It’s always a delight.

I’m in South Carolina’s Lowcountry now, staying at a sweet little Airbnb. My room – with a view of the marsh, is nothing compared to the gift of sitting on this quiet front porch this evening. Blessed quiet. I can’t tell you the joy of not being in an apartment today. The fan is whirring, I have a glass of wine, and I’m currently listening to Ray LaMontagne’s “Such a Simple Thing,” from this playlist:




I don’t know what the days ahead hold for me. I mean, who does, really? But sometimes we have these sweet breaks. Moments of pure joy & delight in the midst of the unknown. And today/tomorrow is one of those breaks for me.

I write about the places I know (California, D.C., and the lovely North Carolina coast). They are featured heavily in my fiction. But outside of Nicholas Sparks, there aren’t many traditionally published writers based in and writing about North Carolina – the coast in particular. There are books set in places such as the Outer Banks. But they’re not “North Carolina writers” and place isn’t something they’re truly intimately connected to. There are exceptions. They are out there. But, those writing about the Lowcountry of South Carolina are a whole other story, however. There are so many. Some of my favorites write about the Lowcountry. I crossed the Edisto River this afternoon, and though I’ve never been here, it’s a name I know well – as if it was an old friend.

For blog readers that aren’t familiar with the area, I’m about an hour and twenty minutes from Charleston, SC and about 50-ish minutes from Savannah, Georgia. The thing about Lowcountry writers is that they write these marshes, pluff mud creeks, palmetto tree, low-tide, and high-tide rivers and creeks, and sea turtle – places, as if the place itself is an actual being. The place is a character in the book. No one else, except maybe North Carolina’s Sarah Addison Allen (who writes magical realism – set mostly in western NC), does this. I can be corrected. Feel free to prove me wrong. But Sparks, though he writes of roads and places and events (New Bern’s Ghost Walk for instance) I know well – his novels don’t make the place a character. The places are written well. But they’re not living and breathing beings. The closest he gets to this is a A Bend in the Road (set in my beloved downtown New Bern – where I once lived).

beaufort south carolina, beaufort, parris island

Low County writers write this place as if it is a living and breathing being – as if the creeks, rivers, and marshes will rise up and chat with you – if only you would sit still long enough. My favorite book (one of my favorite of all-time) that does this is Sweetwater Creek by Ann Rivers Siddons. It may not be the most critically acclaimed novel I’ve ever read (though a bestseller), but I will tell you this right now, Ms. Siddons writes these marshes and creeks in a way that made me long for them as a home, though I’d never been here before.

Maybe one of the most famous Lowcountry writers is the Pat Conroy. Conroy had an ability to write just about anything in a way that made me want to read more. My favorite book of his, isn’t a novel, however. It’s My Reading Life – a sort of autobiography – only it’s through the lens of the impact of the most significant books he’d read in his lifetime. Though I wished to go to the Pat Conroy Literary Center while I was here, they’re not open until Thursday (insert sad face here). I will make it eventually.

“When I started out as a kid in Beaufort who wanted to be a writer I didn’t have the slightest notion how to become one…. My home state has given me a million stories and no writer who ever lived had such riches to choose from. What I owe South Carolina is not repayable.” ~Pat Conroy.

Eventually, I will make my way back up the coast, tomorrow. I may take the long route – but I’ll eventually find myself back in Eastern North Carolina. For how long, I’m not exactly sure. But I do know that this brief break in the pace of my every day life, is a kindhearted reminder, that I can’t lose sight of the main thing.

I’ve spent nearly twenty years of my life making my job the thing. It’s not that it’s not important. I would not trade these years. Maybe. I may not find myself outside of working for the federal government for quite some time. Who knows? I certainly do not. But I do know that I’m learning every dang day, to keep the main thing, the main thing. And the job just ain’t it. As I get ready to turn in for the night, I’m reminded of the pursuit of this thing that makes me who I am. The dream I laid down? It was for a worthy cause, surely. But sometimes comfort become a habit, one we’re meant to throw off.

Sometimes the place you’re used to, is not the place you belong. – Unknown


In the quiet of this cute little brick, ranch house – with its ticking clocks and wooden saints in the window – I’m reminded of the way I was formed and the way I grew. I remember the hard and rocky roads that brought me here. It’s all led to the words I was meant to write. There is redemption and restoration there in those hard places. There is restoration in the words I’m writing now.

elaina m. avalos, beaufort south carolina, beaufort, parris island


When you speak for a person (in your professional life), you can possibly (as I have) become uncomfortable with the push and pull between public vs. private. Even more so when your name is not easily lost in the Jennifer Smiths of the vast interwebs. When the vulnerability you know is required in your writing, exposes you to those you’d rather not be exposed to, you could (I did) shrink back, lessen your words, shrink what you once believed possible, and grow too comfortable with what was.

When I stood at the kitchen sink, in this quiet airbnb this evening, and looked into the yard, past the saint in the window, I remembered what it was like to learn from the artists I knew best (mostly my Grandmother) growing up. If I’m not writing “clear and hard about what hurts” (Ernest Hemingway), I will always miss the mark. I have been missing the mark for quite some time.

For friends still reading this far – here’s what I want you to do:

1. Keep writing (clear and hard) about what hurts (or gives you joy or sets you free or lights a fire in your heart).
2. Don’t hold back.
3. Chase (hard) after those things you know (in your soul) you’re meant to do and be. It may not happen over night – getting to this place you know you’re meant to be. But nothing meant for you will pass you by. Of this I am certain. So keep at it. Keep pressing. Keep waiting – but actively waiting with expectation and hope.
4. And then, keep waiting, hoping, & working.

I don’t know where the path is taking me, but I know what I’m called to do – wherever it leads. I think you know, too – friend.

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On My Mind

Mornings & evenings pass.
Days roll on.
Each sunrise & sunset
Like the one before.
Except for the mornings
I wake with you,
First on my mind.
Those more common
Than the rest.

By Elaina M. Avalos
© 2021

As a kid, I wrote a lot of poetry without understanding much about it. I still don’t know much, to be honest. As an English major, I cut my teeth on poetry – starting from the beginning of recorded literature. Any English major that doesn’t know the pain of Beowulf (reading, analysis, and paper-writing to follow), is no English major at all. 🙂 I can’t tell you how many times I had to read The Canterbury Tales. I’ve taken entire classes on poetry. There are poems that stir my heart and inspire me. I adore children’s poetry books. But one thing I’ve learned over the years is that I’m not talented enough as a writer, to attempt anything but free verse. And even still, I stumble around with words and phrases. I compose these words on my heart. But write I must – even when I stumble and fumble.

The words are all I have to give – though I long to give more.

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Yellowstone & Weird Love Stories

Yellowstone, Beth Dutton, Rip Wheeler, Beth and Rip, elaina avalos

I’m new to the Paramount Network show, Yellowstone. I watched the first three seasons over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, thanks to Hulu. And now I’m obsessed. I can’t wait for season 4. The show reminds me, in a way, of a western Sons of Anarchy. It’s not as wild and violent as SOA – although still violent. I also think there’s something a little more redeeming in most of the lead characters at the Yellowstone ranch. Or perhaps the crimes committed are done for reasons that I’m more comfortable with (haha) than the gun and drug running on SOA. Anyway . . . I digress.

Unexpectedly, my favorite storyline in the series became the love story between Rip Wheeler & Beth Dutton. In the beginning, I was so caught up in what was going on with the family and ranch overall, that I missed some of the Beth and Rip stuff. I had to go back and re-watch parts of season 1 to settle into that. The relationship between John Dutton and Rip is also a favorite. The scene where John gives Rip the house, as an early inheritance, and calls him “son” in the letter, was awesome television – especially considering how long Rip had been on the ranch. But back to Rip & Beth. With Beth being the bad ass, wild woman she is, it’s not surprising her love story would become my favorite part of the show. There are some great scenes between them – so much so that YouTube has multiple video compilations of their scenes together.

While I have quite a few top moments, my favorite scene was a little scene that isn’t even popping up in most of the stuff I’ve searched for online. But it reminds me of those sweet moments in the beginning of a relationship when you’re becoming more comfortable with each other and you’re sort of settling into the fact that this thing is sticking around for a little bit. Maybe that nickname or pet name slips out and before you even realize it’s happening – your favorite person is now “Baby or Babe” or whatever.

The scene, on the steps of Rip’s cabin, is:

Beth: You are many things, Baby, but funny is not one of them. Sorry.
Rip: Mmm. Call me that again.
Beth: Call you what?
Rip: Baby. Say it again.
Beth: You like that, do you?
Rip: Mmm. Yeah, I do.
Beth: It’s OK, baby.
Rip: What should I call you?
Beth: Wife. [pause] I didn’t mean that.

If you’ve watched, you would know that there’s a lot to their story – so this isn’t exactly new love (hence the wife comment). But they’ve never truly been in a relationship up to this point. Though there are many scenes to love, as I mentioned, that one got me right in the feels. I also have a major nickname habit so maybe that’s why I loved that even more.

Since I can’t share a clip of that particular moment, I’ll share a couple others . . .

I loved this moment in the video below, too. There’s a reason why Rip is on the receiving end of Beth’s sweetest moments and most open and genuine feelings. It’s because she’s entirely safe with him and she knows it. He gets some real zingers too. But no one else in Beth’s life receives that same level of tenderness.

As a writer, my favorite books, movies, and television shows are always those with complex characters. And for me, that means there are times when your “relationship” with them is complicated. Maybe there are some serious greys in their character? Maybe you’re left trying to decide if you like them or not because they do jacked-up crap (like some of the stuff John Dutton does or asks his people to do)? Either way, the author clearly knows how to write characters that are equally flawed and lovable.

As I’ve been working on my novel, A Thousand Years, the first two people to read the first draft had some words to say about my protagonist’s love interest. I happen to think I write some pretty lovable male love interests. I love Gray Ford (love interest in A Thousand Years). But I didn’t write him (the first time), in a way that rounded out who he is. I had the image of the man and his type, what his struggles and quirks would be – but most of what I wrote was of the flawed side of him. Though I loved him and saw in my head the complete picture, it was hard to see what was lovable in him, in that first draft. Granted, I wasn’t writing a happy story in the first half of the book. I just forgot to show more of who he is (underneath all of his dumb decisions).

It’s in shows like Yellowstone that I’m reminded of how much I love writers for their ability to shine a light on the best and worst in us. Beth Dutton is larger than life. You’re definitely unlikely to meet someone quite like her, although I wish I could be Beth Dutton-ish with some people (haha). Her beauty is in what she has become because of her trauma and loss. Rip loves and takes care of Beth unconditionally, he’s extremely loyal, and he would do anything for his “family” – but the best and worst in him, also comes from trauma and loss. There’s beauty in the brokenness (I think). And Beth and Rip are broken individuals – who love each other fiercely and unconditionally.

Beth doesn’t hide one single thing about herself from Rip – including her heart and tender side. The fact that Rip loves her at her best and worst, knowing all of it, is a beautiful thing. I hope to always write that way. And maybe someday, my Rip Wheeler will show up?

“It’s only the things I love that die, Rip, never me. Come to think of it, I’m surprised you’re still standing.” – Beth Dutton

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Wellness, Happiness, & Other Stuff

It’s a random musings kind of Thursday:

1. I am trying to get back into a regular exercise routine. Lordy it has been too long. You gotta start somewhere though, right? I’m severely anemic and have to get IV iron infusions several times a year. I should probably get more than that. Anywho, when you’re anemic at just basic levels, you can have major fatigue. I am like realllllyyyy low on iron. I had this feeling that if I could get myself moving after this last bit of iron, I might be able to establish enough of a habit, that by the time my iron started dipping again, I would feel so good from exercising (and noticing the losing of inches) that I’d push through. I am a long way from walking 4 miles a day and being in the gym 6 days a week (like the olden days). I know how good I feel when I do, however. Can you relate? What do you use to keep yourself motivated? I need to combine some yoga in there now. I’ve only got 3.3 miles in this week, so far, but hey – that’s 3.3 more than last week. 🙂

2. My dog is a runner. She loves to run and run and run. And then she will gladly sleep 18 or more hours a day. 🙂 She has enjoyed the walks, in spite of teetering on the edge of her senior years and being sick not all that long ago. But today, she saw a little boy – who just so happened to look like “our” boy. My (foster) son is black and the little boy we saw was also black and about the size of my (foster) son when he left. If you’re new here, I was expecting to adopt my (foster) son. She does this funny little hop, skip thing when she’s happy or sees kids playing (she loves kids). I don’t know how to explain it, but you’ll just have to trust me. She saw the boy and she just knew it was him. She tried multiple times to pull me in his direction. She used to do this a lot more – after he first left. It’s less frequent now, but it still happens. I was teary-eyed. But it also made me appreciate this crazy dog of mine. She loved him so much. He was her boy. She wouldn’t forgive me for at least a year after he left. She didn’t want a thing to do with me (not kidding). About a year ago, she changed her mind and she’s cool with me again. That little boy was her life. She’s a weird and precious dog. 🙂

3. I entered a writing related contest and didn’t win. I was strangely bummed out by this. But then I woke up Wednesday morning and I was feeling pretty good. I woke up feeling better about a lot of things – most of them are things I can’t even remotely control – like work situations & how someone does/does not feel about you. It was a rough 2-3 weeks here recently. I think I’ve turned the corner. This brings me to my number 4…

4. I am not the least bit embarrassed to say that I’m in therapy at this time. It’s a huge help to me. When you’re on a wellness or healing journey – or need to be – it’s important to flood your world, in my not-so-humble opinion, with stuff that lifts you up versus drag you down. I’ll be the first to admit this is a slow process for me. I think it’s impossible to change everything at once. It’s a slow burn, sometimes. But making slow, deliberate choices helps. I have podcasts I listen to, stuff I read, and choices I make with eating, rest, etc. I’ve shared a few podcast episodes here on the blog. Another thing I’ve started, after being introduced to Dr. Amen – is the 30 Day Happiness Challenge. You can view it and sign-up, here: https://www.amenuniversity.com/happy?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=social-paid&utm_campaign=YBIAL&utm_content=KR%20-%2030DHC%20-%20PR%20-%20CO%20-%20SI%20-%20V1%20-%20Copy&audience=KR%20-%2030DHC%20-%20RT%20-%20CO%20-%20DA%20Audience&fbclid=IwAR1_mnVc4xtPYYEHXUvpH9fMesqzi86YJUo-W3c-g_FDABif3xrn0Yxf3F8. When you sign up, you will start with day 1. Future emails jump in at later days in the challenge. However, when you log in, you can still go through each of the days at your current pace. It’s good stuff, dudes and fits perfectly into what I’m already learning through therapy, podcasts, etc.

See, random…

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I Wrote a Novel

elaina m avalos, chasing hope, beaufort nc

I wrote a novel. In June of 2017, my novel Chasing Hope was published. As I approach the four-year anniversary, I thought I would share a bit about the book. You can find it here in Kindle and print format. There is a preview available on Amazon. You can also sign up for my newsletter to read the first chapter for free! You can do that, by clicking here or here. You can also view what some of my readers have written about the book, here.

Here is the book blurb, from the back of the book:

Dr. Ava Cooper has it all. Scratch that – she had it all. The day she buried her daughter was the beginning of the end. With one fell swoop her ex-husband took what was left of the life they created together. All that is left is a demanding boxer, her worldly possessions, and the SUV she bought as a first year resident. With nothing left of the old life, Ava heads south to help out and old friend. In the small and quirky coastal town of Beaufort, North Carolina – a tiny hamlet situated on the Southern Outer Banks – Ava quickly learns that her plan to quietly fade into the background to find some semblance of normalcy is not on her new neighbor’s and staff’s agenda for her. As she settles into southern small-town living, she meets a family and a baby in the foster care system that threaten to break through her grief-stricken and heart. Will Ava be able to let hope in long enough to get back the life she desperately longs for?

This book holds a special place in my heart for a few reasons – mainly because it’s the first complete novel I’ve written. It’s also one that took me way too long to write. The process was daunting, to be honest. I let so many things distract me and get in the way (like my day job). Rather than be single-minded in my focus on accomplishing my dreams and using the gifts God has given me, I focused far too much on the job that paid the bills. There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself. However, I didn’t put enough emphasis on my dreams or writing what I believe I’m meant to write. I let work take over my life. I mean, take over.

I worried too much about what people would think. I shied away from writing content on my blog (I had a different blog that had a larger audience and community at one time). Overall, I just let my writing wither away under the weight of what other people would think. That’s just dumb. In years past, I was part of multiple writer communities online. Many of the people I have known in these circles over the years have gotten literary agents, publishing deals, and are cranking out books with traditional publishing houses.

It’s not arrogant to say I think that I could be in their shoes too. The only difference is, I didn’t work for it. Phew, what a sucky realization that was when I first woke up to it. It was all my fault and all of my own choosing. But one day I came to terms with this and decided I wouldn’t let my life go unlived. I wouldn’t let the books go unwritten. And I certainly wouldn’t ignore the dreams I’ve long held in my heart.

Today isn’t Monday Motivation – but we’ll call it Tuesday Truths. The only thing standing in the way of you accomplishing your dreams and goals? It’s you. It’s me. We can make all the excuses we want. But at the end of the day, we are own worst enemy when it comes to going after what we want. I just refuse to live that way anymore. So whatever it is . . . go get it, friends.

You can check out a few excerpts here, here, here, and here. To read a bit about Beaufort, North Carolina – the Southern Outer Banks town where the book is set, here are a few posts about my Beaufort adventures (I lived there for a bit, too!):
https://elaina-avalos.com/2017/08/17/beaufort-by-the-sea/
https://elaina-avalos.com/2016/04/28/beaufort-wine-food-weekend-wine-bread-and-cheese-seminar/
https://elaina-avalos.com/2017/09/03/more-from-beaufort-north-carolina/

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Sunday Nights if You Were Here

This is a reblog from January 2019.

Elaina M. Avalos

elaina avalos, chasing dreams, sunday night, sunday nights if you were here, love, romance, cooking

Sunday is the ever so weekly reminder that the work week has returned and I’m being drawn away from what I most want to be doing.

It’s Sunday night again. If you were here, our lazy day of rest would turn into a relaxed evening as we cook together. We would turn on the music and talk our way through our plans for the week.

You are the calm to my storm. You are my deep breath. Sunday night if you were here – your larger than life presence filling up this small space -I would think twice as I watch you washing dishes, about complaining that Monday is on our heels.

It has taken us so long to get to this moment. I don’t want to take a single second for granted. In the mundane of this every day moment, while you wash dishes, and I finish making our…

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Making Use of Your Loneliness

loneliness, making use of your loneliness, elaina avalos, elaina m. avalos

Loneliness is not something we enjoy. Nor do we attempt to live with it and make use of it – most likely because in the loneliness, we feel pain. If we feel pain, but can’t cure the loneliness – we often then reach for those things that numb us. But making use of your loneliness is, or can be, a gift. I started reading Andrew McCarthy’s autobiography, Brat, this weekend. There’s a line in it that stuck with me. He writes, “The travel writer and novelist Paul Theroux has written about the ‘lucidity of loneliness’ and how it is indispensable in order to experience certain things deeply.”‘

The “lucidity of loneliness,” is a beautiful phrase. Lucidity is clearness of thought or style. But the Oxford Languages definition (Dear Biola Professors, I do hereby humbly ask for forgiveness for quoting from a dictionary) appeals to me even more. It uses the words brightness & luminosity to describe lucidity. I love that. The brightness and luminosity of loneliness. Hmm, how can the lonely places lead to brightness and luminosity in our lives? For most of us – we don’t like loneliness. Or the quiet. We tend to fill our lives with busy, constant running and activity. For those of us who live alone, there can be a tendency to fight against this loneliness. I know, because at so many times in my life, I’ve tried to do this myself.

The last thing we think, particularly when we long for community, relationships, family, etc., is to view loneliness as leading to clearness of thought or brightness and luminosity. Buddhists, though I am far from one or an expert in any sense of the word, teach about different types of loneliness and the way that it can be useful to us. I get this more and more all of the time. As a writer, I think it’s particularly important. It’s nearly impossible for me to write well, without some familiarity with loneliness.

But, that doesn’t always feel so good. There’s a temptation, particularly when we are going through hard things to numb it, quiet it, hide it, or fill the void and loneliness with activity, noise, etc. In the loneliness, when we don’t numb it or try to fill the space with something/anything – we feel. And feeling is often the exact opposite of what we want when life just . . . hurts.

The wound is the place where the Light enters you. – Rumi

For many, many months in 2019, it seemed as though my home was under siege. It got worse as the year dragged on. By summer, I was no longer safe in my own home. I’d packed away and hidden my most precious belongings so they wouldn’t be destroyed. And for hours on end on more nights than I care to remember, my home – walls and doors in particular – were ruined and I lived in constant fear.

When it all ended in August of 2019, I didn’t want to feel. In that space, in the pain – I tried to numb it. I was in some of the worst pain I’d ever experienced. I was heartbroken, alone, and in a house that was a constant reminder of some of the worst days of my life. I wanted it to stop – all of it. So, I kept searching for anything to fill it. I drank more than I ever had before. I gained weight. My health suffered. I searched for anything – anything at all – to change my circumstances. I couldn’t face the loneliness and pain.

I came upon a job opening at an event venue and went for it. I got the job as the Venue Manager/Event Manager. The place is a dream. It’s incredibly beautiful. I was very happy, on the surface – because I knew it was what I wanted. The only problem was, the timing was all wrong. The job filled my days and months until January of 2020, with frenetic activity. It was the right job, at the wrong time. I’d give anything to go back to that world (but under different circumstances). Instead of living in the pain and loneliness, I shut it down completely. I mean, shut.it.down. I’d had no time to face it. I went from the most pain I’ve ever been in, to working 7 days a week. I was excelling – but dying inside.

The stress reached an explosion point as I climbed the stairs to my apartment one evening. I’d worked 7 days a week for weeks and weeks. And as I climbed my stairs, my whole body felt like it was shutting down. I couldn’t breathe and the chest pain I was experiencing was the worst I’d ever felt. I thought I was having a heart attack – at 43. I got inside and dumped all of my bags and coat just inside the door of my apartment. I contemplated calling 911. I laid down on the couch trying to decide what to do. I’ve known anxiety and panic attacks. Especially in the long months of 2019. But this seemed different. I decided then and there that if I didn’t do something drastic, I was going to die. That’s literally what I felt – that I was days or weeks from dying. Isn’t that nuts? I quit that job. But I still didn’t get into and dig deep enough into the pain.

So what does this have to do with loneliness? See the thing is, if I’d stayed in that loneliness for a while, letting myself feel the pain of my loss and the stress of having my physical home and well-being threatened, I think I would have reached a modicum of healing a lot sooner. And then maybe I would be ready now for the job that was the right job, at the wrong time or a healthy, beautiful relationship. The funny thing is, now I can’t move no matter how hard I try. And I’ve got even more to work through now.

When I woke up this morning, after several days of living in the hard and painful places of life, the tears always close to the surface, it became quite clear why I’m still here. I also know that I can’t and won’t push the loneliness away, anymore. It’s in this space that I take steps closer to healing and learning to take care of myself once again. For the first time in ages, I walked with the dog (like exercise walk), read, and sat in the weird & confusing feelings I have going on these days. There’s nothing earth shattering about today – except this – I’ve let myself be lonely and I’ve let myself feel the hurt, this week. And in that, I have much clearer vision now. In the lucidity of loneliness, I see what I couldn’t see in the last two years. I didn’t try to escape it, numb it, ignore it, or run from it. I sat with it and let it do its thing. And now I feel certain I am here in this place I don’t want to be, for a reason – and that is my healing and growth – in spite of the harsh conditions.

It’s hot now in the south – hot and humid. But not all that long ago, we had freezing temps at night – long past what is normal. When we have a deep frost, I cover my outdoor plants with towels or old sheets. But last winter, in the midst of more job stress, I ignored the plants on my patio. I stopped covering them in the frost. My indoor houseplants are doing awesome. But what was happening outside wasn’t pretty.

geraniums, elaina avalos, elaina m. avalos

The plants started slowly dying in the harsh conditions. They weren’t cared for. At all. Every so often I’d pull a dead plant from a pot and toss it over the fence. But for the most part, I just left them there in their pots. On my patio right this very minute, are a couple of dead ferns (I kid you not) and a few other random dead plants. In several of my planters however, there are geraniums. They’re still alive. They look a little beat up. But they’re not only blooming – new, green growth is popping up on their knobby little selves, too.

The thing that really gets me about this (and yes, I’ll get back to my point) is that I bought these geraniums in the sale sections at Wal Mart and Lowe’s. I rarely buy full price plants for my patio. I usually buy what’s on sale or deeply discounted. They’re usually discounted because they’ve been scorched in the sun, overwatered, etc. I am always confident in my ability to bring them back to life. These little stinkers just do not have any desire to give up. I’ve not watered them once. They’ve lived off of the rain – which hasn’t been all that frequent to be honest. I’ve not covered them in the frost. And now that it has turned hot and humid, I’ve yet to water them.

geraniums, elaina m. avalos

They may not be the prettiest plants I’ve ever seen. And they surely do need help. But their determination in harsh conditions – conditions that are inhospitable and probably a little pain-inducing, are a beautiful representation of what we as humans are capable of, in the midst of our own pain and destructive circumstances.

I veered off the path a little, but it’s all tied together. We want to stop the suffering – stop the pain – stop the loneliness. We want to move on to the good stuff. We want to feel better or feel nothing. We want to prevent harsh conditions. Yet, in doing so, more often than not, we prolong our suffering. I’m not exactly saying that letting your plants suck it up is the right way to go, but clearly, my tiny geraniums lived on – blooming unexpectedly – in spite of the harshest conditions. I think there’s a beautiful lesson in this. We don’t want to face the harsh, painful things. But it’s there in that loneliness and pain, that we can be set free.

In the quiet loneliness and in this place I don’t want to be, I see now that it’s where I gain healing. And it’s now the hope I have – for the foundation of great and beautiful things ahead. Don’t shut it down, friends. Ask from it and the pain, what it has for you. Hope and healing wait for us in these harsh places.

By the way, I spent a few minutes this afternoon, cleaning these ladies up. I trimmed off the dead parts, cleared out the leaves, and watered them. They look a little better with a little care and feeding. As do all of us.



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Everyday

everyday is like the others, everyday, i miss you, elaina avalos, elaina m. avalos

You stood close and asked me a question. It was all rather innocent.
Standing there in that room, you asked my preference.

It was the way you asked the question and the look on your face that overwhelmed me.
And when I answered – that was that. It was all settled.

There were many other moments like this. I often think of that particular day.
Sometimes, like today, when I recall that memory, or most of the others,

I miss you.

So . . . everyday.

Everyday is like the others.

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Grief, Finality, Joy, and Gardenias

kristen-macadams-M0jnYTeqTVg-unsplash, elaina avalos, elaina m. avalos, grief, letting go and holding on

As an artistic person and a writer that is emotional and often taken by romantic ideals and inspiration in odd places, I used to have this joy that would take hold of me at so many lovely moments in life. It was like this deeply flowing joy that bubbled up to the surface. Life wasn’t always what I expected (that’s for sure), but I could take a hike in the Croatan national forest, along the Neuse river, and be overwhelmed by inexplainable peace and joy. It could be the scent of the pine forest or the way the knobby tree roots were exposed in the sand and water. Or the way my dog would run with such abandon – happy as a clam. I don’t need a lot. I’m a lover of a truly simple life. I absolutely can be happy with the littlest of things in life. I chose joy. I chose joy more often than I didn’t.

The last couple of years have sapped so much of this from me. Yesterday seemed to be the finality I’ve been waiting for. But it was finality without closure if that makes sense. And in that finality, the grief of these two years overwhelmed me. Yesterday and long into the overnight hours, I was overcome. I haven’t recovered today. I woke up feeling hungover – with a headache and swollen eyes. It wasn’t a hangover at all. Except with the losses and finality of it all.

There are two random gardenia bushes in the breezeway near my apartment. It’s random because I’m not sure they’re anywhere else in the apartment complex. They’re in bloom right now. Gardenias are special to me. I adore them for their beauty and scent. But more than that, my grandparents used to grow them. And every time I would leave my grandparent’s house, my Grandpa Avalos would pick gardenias, roses, and other lovely flowers, for a tiny bouquet for me. He often made one for my mom too – though my parents had long been divorced by then. It was one of the things that was so sweet and special about him. This afternoon, as I walked the dog, a gust of wind blew through the breezeway. It filled the air with the scent of the gardenias. It was magical. But I still didn’t fully connect with the joy – with all of the emotion I would have – prior to these past two years. It made me sad. But the more I thought on this, the more convinced I became that it was a sign – straight out of heaven – that I may not be there yet, but I will get back to that place again.

It gave me a little push – a little reminder of what I’m fighting so hard for. I’m fighting hard for the life I’ve prayed for, for so very long. I’m fighting hard to get back to the me that would have been giddy with joy as the gardenia’s rich perfume overwhelmed me. So while I’m not there, even in the pain, I am getting there. Because now I remember what I’m fighting for.

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A Love I Deserve

r.h. Sin, elaina avalos, you deserve the love you give, elaina m. avalos

There’s this thing I’ve been waiting for – this love I’ve been waiting for. There is a love I deserve. It’s a burn it all down, kind of love. It’s a drive to your house, stand on your doorstep and knock until you open the door, kind of love and passion. It’s a love that doesn’t choose me last, of all the things to choose. I mean, maybe I’m not first – but I certainly can’t settle for last. It’s the love that is free from constraints and stands upon the threshold of my life and says, “I needed to see you as soon as I could.”

This is what I want. It’s what I deserve.

It can be a slow burn. It can even take work to get there. But it’s the love that chooses me and stops at nothing to keep me around when faced with my absence. It’s the love that refuses to back down. It’s the love that doesn’t walk away. I want and deserve a love that protects me. You keep me safe, I’ll keep you wild. I want and deserve someone who is vulnerable with me and doesn’t run from living life together as partners in the good, bad, and the grey in-between- where life doesn’t always make sense.

This is what I want. It’s what I deserve.

It’s not all about me. But I already know what I bring to the table. And with a sliver of hope, I wait.

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It’s Still You

wild things, elaina avalos, elaina m. avalos, it's still you, a thousand years

Reason was my goal in this longing. I am failing. I wanted to see through the fog and confusion to understand. But no matter how much correct thinking and logical reasoning I muster, it’s still you. I don’t hold it against you. I didn’t then and I do not now. In the fog and confusion, I tried to reason myself free, but you can’t tame wild things. I don’t want to be tame anyway. The truth is, I don’t want to lose my ability to understand and live well in the greys. I don’t need black and white and perfect little boxes that I fit my life and feelings into. That’s not who I am. I tried to reason. I’ve failed. It’s still you.

“I live here in this tension, with what will not be, settling into the cold, wild – alone.”

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Maybe He’s Back?

writer girl, writer's life, elaina avalos

My muse may have returned. Last night I wrote all evening. Maybe he’s back? Or maybe he’s just being as fickle as ever and tonight will be a slog.

Either way, I’m settled into my comfy bed, to work on my novel, A Thousand Years – just the same. I’m going to try and convince him to stick around. Or at least I’m gonna try. Instead of the television drowning out the noisy neighbors, I’ve got my A Thousand Years playlist going (starting with My Love For You is Real because that song is IT), and my trusty companion is snoring on her chaise lounge. Yes, she has an entire chaise lounge to herself. It’s big enough for two people – but I digress.

Some days I have to write myself into writing. And that’s what I’m doing now . . . as I tackle more edits for a novel that I love (but one that’s giving me fits). My goal is to write 3,000 new words this evening or to edit 6,000-8,000.

By the way, this Ryan Adams song has inspired many a writing sesh. It’s one of my all time favorite songs. So writer friends, what do you do to get yourself into writing mode? Is it music? Is it your favorite corner of your house or apartment? A favorite coffee shop? How do you get yourself in the zone?



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Arms That Hold Me

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Photo by: flickr.com/photos/katieowens/8386886945.

A short story

Home isn’t always a place – sometimes it’s a person. I could live in hut, in the middle of Africa, or a shelter built of whatever we could find, in the poorest village in Baja – or in a leaky old farm house in Burgundy and I’d still be home. He is my home and always will be. Turning into our driveway, after a long week away, has become this perfect joy – the kind of joy that I didn’t know could be possible. I mean, I wanted it to be possible – I just didn’t experience it for most of my life. I travel for work – more often than I’d prefer. But it pays my half of the bills. During the weeks away, in spite of how busy my days keep me, I count down the moments until I return to this quiet haven we have created.

The day I met my husband was a horrible day. The worst – the kind of day that makes you want to crawl into bed and drink yourself into a stupor. At the end of the worst day, I’d had in years and years, I stepped off the escalator at my Metro stop and the sky unleashed with a holy furor – the likes I hadn’t seen in ages. There’d been no rain in the forecast, because of course not. Somehow, the worst summer thunderstorm I’d seen in ages, just happened to hit the moment I stepped onto the street. It soaked me to the bone. When I walked into the corner grocery store I shopped at every evening for my dinner, I am 1000% certain I looked like a drowned rat. But I shopped here every evening before walking to my Brownstone – and a little sloshing about, wasn’t about to stop me.

When my, now husband, reached down to help me up from the floor of that corner grocery store – now covered in pinot noir and soaking wet from the storm, I swatted his hand away. Eleven years later, I still haven’t lived that down. In what I now know is his endless patience and persistence, he put his hand out again. The second time I took it. My husband is a beast of a man. He is big and broad to my tiny frame. His hands practically swallowed mine. When I stood, the room spun around me a bit. I thought I might faint. “Hang in there with me, Miss,” he said, steadying me. “You’ve hit your head pretty hard. Let me call for an ambulance. That kid knocked you over pretty good.”

                “What happened?” I asked, the room still spinning.

                “Some jackwagon stole a bunch of beer and I guess the owner must’ve seen him on camera. He started hollering as I walked in and the kid ran through the store, and took you down as he went. I couldn’t get to you before you fell back. One of those,” he said, pointing to the wine on display at the end of the aisle, “hit you as you fell back. It was a double whammy – the floor and the wine, both conked you on the head.”

By the way, the wine is a display I personally installed a week ago. I’m a wine rep and sommelier. And after three years, I’d finally convinced Mr. Green to let me sell my wares here. “Ah. Of course,” I said. “Naturally it’s the pinot noir.”

                “What’s that?” he asked.

                “Never mind. And no – no ambulance. I’ll walk to the hospital. Or take the metro.”

                “Oh no you will not,” he said. And just like that, the burly stranger I met in a southeast D.C. grocery store, was taking me to the hospital – as if I’d known him my whole life.

                That was 11 years ago. We married a year later. We’ve been inseparable ever since. He is the best thing that has ever happened to me. He is nothing I ever imagined when I dreamed about the man I’d spend my life with. The thing is, once he won my heart, I couldn’t imagine another existence – as if we were formed from the beginning, for each other. He’s everything I’ve ever needed and nothing I knew I wanted. We are opposites in many ways. But in every way that matters, he is my best friend – my true companion.

We built this house, into the mountain, a few years ago, after we’d wandered and dreamed about where we would settle. It’s weird like us – mid-century modern angles, expansive windows, and high ceilings – and the sweetest stone fireplace you ever did see. I long for home when I’m away, coming home to this man and our refuge is the best sort of gift. When it’s cold, he lights the fire before I get home. But even without it, he’s like that fire, keeping me warm from the inside out. I long for him even still, after all this time, as if it was the first time. His physical strength and single-minded pursuit of me has been steadying me for 11 years. I’ll never get over his love for me. And I will never love another human more than him.

Without considering for a second the need to grab my luggage or even my purse, the second I turn off the car in the garage, I head into the house – needing the arms that hold me . When I left California earlier today, the blazing hot sun and Santa Ana winds blew through the Temecula valley wine country. But here, so far from that dusty place, it’s cold now – the weather has turned. It’s autumn now. The warmth of the fire warms me instantly when I open the door – as does the mischievous smile that’s made me rather lusty – for so long now. My husband is hot. A smile bursts out. I cannot contain myself. Long before I reach him, the gratitude of all these years, overwhelms me. “I thought you’d never get here,” he says.

“I’ve been trying to get home for days,” I say. “It’s all I could think about. I missed you.” His arms pull me close.

“Good thing I don’t have to share you for a while. A week is too long. Can we just agree on this now? There has to be a better way,” he says.

“A week is too long. We’ll figure something out,” I say,” melting into him and his kiss. As the sun sets in the kitchen window behind us, his arms around me – he fills me in on the week I’ve missed. He holds me close – as if I’m going somewhere. The man is stuck with me. Come hell or highwater, I’m not going anywhere.

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Hearts Don’t Break Around Here

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It’s a song – Hearts Don’t Break Around Here. Because hearts certainly do break around here. I’m an Ed Sheeran fan in general. But somehow, I missed this song when it came out a few years ago. I heard it the first time, not all that long ago, on a Spotify generated playlist (Acoustic Love). For me, as a writer girl who writes about love, relationships, and families – I tend to lean toward listening to love songs when I write.

But I digress . . . the song is very sweet. But when I hear it lately, I find myself getting a little sad. Hearts don’t break around here – oh how I wish I could find that one – who shows me my heart is safe. In the last verse of the song, he sings:

“I feel safe when you’re holding me near
Love the way that you conquer your fear
You know hearts don’t break around here”

Safe. I am not sure when I’ll feel safe again. But it’s funny how something you didn’t know you needed, can become your greatest longing. I long to feel safe. I mean, my apartment is safe. I’m not currently facing a physical threat in my home – although I’ve known what that was like. But in matters of the heart, I’m longing for that safety. Before I get to the important stuff – here’s a disclaimer: I am realistic about love and relationships. I know they take work. And I know you can experience hurt within even the healthiest relationships. I mean, duh. You can even see it come up in my writing, like here and here.

This is a different kind of safety. Trust runs underneath it – as its very foundation. And from where I stand now, I don’t know if I’m capable of trust anymore. Isn’t that a horrible thing to say? I write about love and family. I was still hopeful until recently that I’d find my true companion – the one I’d grow cranky and old with. But, I question how I’ll ever trust. And if I can’t trust, I’ll never feel safe. Hearts don’t break around here – that’s what I want to see it in action. Don’t you?

But will I? I recently came to terms (sort of) that I may never get to parent in the way I had always envisioned for my life. Maybe it’s time to come to terms that I’ll never find that love – the one. The one that I can fully trust my heart with – the one that will live this wild life with me. The hurt I feel now – this heartbreak – tells me I’m capable of caring again. I certainly wondered if I was capable of that when I tried to pick up the pieces of my broken heart and life in August of 2019. So that’s something, eh?

You keep me safe. I’ll keep you wild. Those are two sentences I read somewhere once – no clue who said it or why. But I know why it resonates with me. I took the photo above, when I lived along the Neuse River. The Neuse is brackish – a healthy mix of salt and fresh water. It’s not unusual to see dolphin swimming in the river. And after major storms, when the wind blows the water in weird directions, it’s normal to find jelly fish and blue crabs stranded on the sand bars. I used to leave my stressful, (but fulfilling at the time) job, and drive home to this view. While I would sit on the deck in the evening, with a glass of wine, I spent a lot of time writing about the kind of life I have always wanted and what I hoped could still be mine. Below is the original photo I took (that I made into the image above), looking out toward Minnesott Beach. The steps down to what was once a small private beach (long since gone thanks to wild NC storms), are just barely visible. The second & third photo were pretty much my nightly routine, as I enjoyed the sultry Carolina summer air, blowing off the river, in the evenings.

I’ve had a crazy, good, weird life. I’m grateful for every second of this adventure. How many people my age get to live in a gorgeous home along a river (more than once), or in a fun downtown condo – with a view of the same river (just up the highway a bit)? When I lived in that cute downtown, I walked across the street on Friday evenings for wine tastings. And with my downtown buddies, we would walk to dinner – and then walk to our favorite bar sometimes. In all of the years of these little adventures, I was filled with terribly ridiculous joy. It’s the kind of joy that is unflinching in the face of challenges. I was happy. But even when I wasn’t, the joy hung around every corner of my life.

I have been blessed. I used to believe that this life I’ve lived – that has been full, beautiful, and filled with great opportunities – was ensuring that when the one finally did walk into my life, our life together would be that much richer because I hadn’t been afraid to live fully before him.

I was pretty sure I knew who he was too. I mean, not the exact person, but you know – the type. There have been some imposters that have come & gone. Usually, when they head out of my life, I have a “well, that was interesting – moving on now” kind of feeling. Hahaha. That’s probably why I’m still friends with guys I’ve dated. I guess I just know when it’s time to move on or not right, so there’s no need for drama. But maybe that’s mostly because my heart hasn’t been tied up in most of these gents. Not really. They also didn’t look like the one. The intellectual compatibility was missing. Or the spiritual. Or maybe that was there, but the physical compatibility was just . . . not. I know who he is. I know they type of man he is. So when it’s not right, it’s not right. But this is different. And I don’t know if I have it in me to open my heart to the possibility again.

Maybe this too is not for me. Parenting totally is for me. I am (was) and awesome mom. I was made for it. I’m also awesome at relationships (lol) and loving well. I’m loyal, loving, and don’t give up easily. I’m patient. And I’m a damn good time. Haha. But, it comes to a point where you just don’t know if you have it in you anymore. And that’s me, friends. I don’t know if I have it in my anymore. Oh how I wish I didn’t feel that way.

From 2010-2012, I lived in a literal desert. That place was weird and wonderful. I love many aspects about desert life. My life was rich when I lived in the desert too. While I missed green and trees and rain and the ocean, I was happy
there too. But I’m in a different kind of desert now. I’m stranded in a town that lacks for jobs, housing opportunities, and is home to the most pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. I’m in a desert. And in this dry and barren spiritual place, I know two things – I want me back. And it’s time to see what a life with different dreams looks like if the two I always thought I was meant for, aren’t going to happen.

The funny thing is, my “words” for 2021 are hope & faith. I’m sure all of this seems to lack both. But truthfully, maybe the best possible place to be is at a place where all of your plans and dreams are stripped clean from your very heart so the true beauty of the life waiting for me, can make its way to the surface?

Reader friends – heart stuff is hard. So is vulnerability. But you can’t get anywhere without facing it head on. So here I go.

And to the one who has my heart, if you could give it back, since you’re not using it (haha), that would be rad.


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My Muse

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I’ve been writing non-stop for so long now – months and months. But it has dried up the last couple of weeks. It’s not surprising. The last couple of weeks have brought me to the end (or what I hope is the end) of a long, long, rough period. I’m tired. So very tired. I’m emotionally exhausted and don’t have much to give. I want to. I need to. I try to write. But it’s not there. My muse – my muse is a fickle little thing. And she (or maybe it’s a he since he’s so difficult) is feeling temperamental. He/She’s just not interested in hanging out with me.

If you’re a writer or artist and you haven’t seen the movie, The Muse, you must. You can rent it on Amazon. It’s a 1999 Albert Brooks movie. It’s laugh-out-loud funny for the artist types out there, like me. The premise of the movie is that screenwriter Steven Phillips (Albert Brooks) is at the lowest point in his career. He loses his contract with a studio and is basically told he doesn’t have it anymore.

In desperation, he reaches out to a friend (Jeff Bridges) who tells him that a real-life muse exists (and her name is Sarah). Sarah’s demands throughout the movie get crazier and crazier – but he’s writing again. So he feeds the muse, so to speak. Which, as you can imagine, creates all kinds of wild stories. Sharon Stone was the perfect person for this role. It’s a crazy movie and in true Brooks style, it’s a little weird. But I love his sense of humor – so of course I laugh throughout, no matter how many times I’ve seen it.

The muse, the muse . . . the goddamn muse. – Steven Phillips

But back to my muse. The muse is not inspiring me right now. What he is doing is taunting me a little – reminding me of what’s just outside my reach. He’s a cheeky little bugger. My goal for the rest of this week and weekend is to simply read my manuscript. That’s it. Just read it. I may even print it out. I hope that as I read it again, the inspiration returns. I miss it. And my muse.

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Cheers, Kelly.

Today, someone I’ve known in my professional community for more years than I can count (almost 2 decades), was laid to rest. She was young – just 58. Things you’d know if you talked to Kelly for five seconds – she adored her family, Michigan football, and a good time. The thing that struck me this evening at her memorial service, were her comments from her daughter and husband. There were plenty of laughs throughout. Because if you knew Kelly – you knew she was all about having a good time. But their love for her was something else. It’s not surprising, because you can’t help but know how much she adored them. She talked about them constantly. When her husband spoke – I lost it a little. I thought I might ugly cry, to be honest. I’ve never met him, like some of my “colleagues.” But I felt like I knew him because I’d heard so many stories over the years. His love for his wife was a beautiful thing to hear expressed. More than anything, he expressed regret for all the times he didn’t listen because now he can’t hear her talk at all. After almost 40 years of marriage- can you imagine his grief? When he said that, I wasn’t the only one who lost it. The thing about Kelly is that she loved her family with all she had. And she loved the people they brought to her door, too. That’s the kind of life I strive for. Listening tonight all I could think about was how blessed you are if you have that. And when and if you have it – don’t let it go. I don’t have it (yet). But I can tell you now, I’m determined to find it. I’m sad I’ll never hear her laugh in one of my trainings or hear her pop off with some hilarious comment. And I’m sad that one of the people, in our sometimes challenging culture (in my industry), that was always herself – 100% of the time, is gone.

Cheers, Kelly. Thank you for all you have done and all you’ve taught me.

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Dance with Me

Things I would like to do with you . . .

Take my hand in yours, even better if I don’t expect it or I’m in the midst of a chore I hate the most – like putting away laundry. Take my hand and pull me close. Dance with me. Whisper the words that remind me that I am yours. When your lips graze my ear, I will remember it all – how we got to this moment – how we fought for this. And I will never take for granted, showing you how much I adore you. Dance with me.

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Hope, Faith, & Ho’oponopono

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When I posted on Monday, I was a little down in the dumps. My heart is a little beat up and on top of it all, Tuesday morning, I took an early morning phone call, while getting ready for work. A former colleague has passed away. I felt like a zombie all day Tuesday. I made stupid mistakes, I was all over the place. Tuesday afternoon, I took the dog to the vet. She’s got some powerful meds to help get her through an infection and some inflammation. I hope this will put her on the right track. But she’s “old” and I worry about losing her. By last night, I just wasn’t okay. It has been one thing after another, you know?

The thing about this former colleague is that it not only broke my heart – but it drove home – how short our time on earth, actually is. It is just a mere blip. I just saw this person a few weeks ago at work. Initially, I felt a weight in the grief of it all. I had a good long cry last night. But as this loss settles in, I think it’s a far more powerful tribute to the impact this person made in my professional community, to doggedly live this wild life I know is waiting for me. Maybe the word, wild throws you off. I’ll have to write about that someday. But one of the things I mean by that is that I want to live counter to a culture that celebrates things and titles and live in the moment tasting and experiencing life and all it offers us. There’s a richness and beauty to life, but it’s often lost in the pursuit of everything else. But it’s not just that! I think we often lose out on the life we are meant to live – the life we want to live – as these painful moments rear their head, because we won’t face them.

The temptation for me & I’m sure for many others, is to shrink back in our moments of loss, pain, grief, etc. But I’ve decided this is exactly when I need to turn the dial up on my commitment to myself to chase dreams and live fully – each day. What I’m now learning (and leaning to accept) is that I can’t get there without facing the losses, pain, and grief. My words for 2021 were hope & faith. In these moments when I most want to pull the cover over my head and escape the sadness of it all, I’d rather choose hope and faith. I love joy. I love the simple things in life. In the weight of loss, it’s easy to lose track of that. I’m choosing hope & faith – against appearances. But I can’t get there without first facing the other stuff, head on.

In a slightly related and possibly also unrelated note (I’m sure that makes perfect sense to everyone), I read an article yesterday, on Elephant Journal, about the concept of HO’OPONOPONO. The article on Elephant Journal doesn’t do the concept justice – in my opinion. But I’m so glad I saw it. That article led me to do some more reading and then I found this article & video. I found it far more helpful. It’s essentially an ancient Hawaiian practice used to resolve conflicts within family units. But was used later by a therapist Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len and others.

The thing about HO’OPONOPONO, in what I’ve read so far, is that I think its beauty and the healing concepts, come – as you choose acceptance for what is – for wrong done to you or that you’ve done, for that matter. You’re not focusing on changing the person who has hurt you, or who you need to forgive, or the situation, for that matter. You are, however, working on your perception of the situation. The result is forgiveness, love, and comfort, too. This is all a lot to add to this post. Especially when I just read about it for the first time yesterday. But the way it ties together for me, is that my perception of what’s happening, is often what is pulling me out into the current – further from hope & faith. The balance that is gained (or I guess I should say regained) can open the door to that restoration of your hope and faith – because you’re no longer tied down by unforgiveness and the painful emotions.

I’m rambling now. The bottom line is that I’m learning all around me – from people like Brene (in this post), my therapist, and in unlikely places too – that facing the stuff head on is actually the route to hope, healing, and light in the dark places. So in this season of loss, added to the season before it, I’ve made that commitment to myself this evening. I’ll keep facing it. And through that, I’m certain I’ll get closer and closer to living this dream I’ve been chasing so long.

*The Viktor Frankl quote above was given to me today, by my therapist. It’s perfect.

And honestly, it’s kind of freeing, in my opinion.*

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Come Over & Other Random Musings on a Crappy Monday

Phew, has it ever been a week. My doggy is having a rough time. She stumbled a couple of times on Saturday – as if her legs couldn’t hold her up. Her legs just seemed to go right out from under her. It just killed me – especially since I had to go to work later that afternoon for an event. This is the second time this has happened. The day before, she limped all day. It hurt my heart. But that’s not all that’s going on with her. So tomorrow we’re off to the vet. This poor girl. She has been so healthy, for so long.

She’s put in a good 11 years without any health issues. It’s probably just about that time that stuff would pop up. She has been my most loyal (and also neurotic), hilarious companion since the day I adopted her in Joshua Tree, California. I’m bummed, to be honest. I shared a little about her, here. If you know me in real life, like know me-know me, you will learn pretty quickly that my dog is a constant source of laughter up in here. She’s a nut. Seeing her struggling has not been easy.

Overall, I’ve been in a weird spot this last week while I balance figuring out next steps (career wise), with finishing a “work project” before I can officially depart. The other thing to balance, is some tough disappointments for this old heart of mine. I need a freaking hug is what I’m saying. One of the things I know for sure? I really cannot function well without music. So here are a few favorites getting me through over the last week. What are you listening to these days?


Come Over by Sam Hunt – enough said. Also, the “Between the Pines” version of his songs are my favorites.

“Grab your key
Climb in your car
Put your headlights in my yard
Pull up the drive
Put it in park
Walk inside
Underneath my stars, I’ll be waiting
I’ll be waiting
Don’t say a word
Don’t say a word
Come over”


“But maybe we just slow down
See where it can take us”


“Ooh, your love is a symphony
All around me
Running through me
Ooh, your love is a melody
Underneath me
Running to me
Your love is a song
The dawn is fire bright
Against the city lights
The clouds are glowing now
The moon is blacking out, it’s blacking out
So I’ve been keeping my mind wide open
I’ve been keeping my mind wide open, yeah”




I’m off to do a little work on the writing before turning in for the night. What are you listening to this week?

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I should be asleep right now . . .

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Photo: instagram.com/heymadz16/

The thing is, I’m a night owl. This doesn’t fit well with my day job. I should be asleep right now. My weekend was short due to an event & such. So then when I finally have time to write – I don’t want to stop. It’s 11:48 and I have things to say and do for this new novel of mine. But my alarm clock will go off in the morning, whether or not I want it to.

Not all that long ago, I expected to enter a contest with a literary agency, using my novel A Thousand Years. I’ve changed my mind, dudes. I am going to use a newly re-started novel. But the problem is, I hate the idea of putting together a book proposal for a book that is just a tiny babe. So every second this weekend I couldn’t be writing, I’ve wanted to be writing. Boy is that a good feeling.

You can find the opening lines, here. You can find the totally weird playlist I’m using, here . . .

This is a super random mix of music. It’s what I was listening to on the beaches of Southern California (usually Huntington Beach) growing up, Carolina Beach music, and other beachy stuff – including some country music. Spotify usually suggests songs to add to your playlists (at the very end of your playlist). A few different times as I’ve added songs, Spotify has sputtered a little with suggestions. Hahahaha. I got a kick out of this. The playlist is as random as I am. Weezer circa 2001 – to classic rock from the 70s, U2, The World Famous KROQ (I miss those days in many ways), hits from the 80s & 90s, and a bunch of other of stuff.

Here’s my inspiration board on Pinterest:

In other news, I can’t write without music. I cannot. I know others who have to have total silence. I can’t fathom this. Nor can I imagine writing a scene and not turning to the vast interwebs for remembering things long since forgotten. For instance, no matter how many summers I spent at Huntington Beach and Newport – sometimes I need a little refresher. I try not to let myself get bogged down and distracted on little bunny trails and research. But it happens sometimes. For instance . . . Mr. Zoog’s Sex Wax. THAT is what the beaches of SoCal smell like. I had forgotten about this little thing until I started writing this evening. I just found out they have air fresheners. Dude. I’m buying some for my car. By the way, in case you don’t know, surfboard wax (like Mr. Zoog’s Sex Wax), is used to increase grip, traction, etc. It’s applied to a clean board. With friends that were surfers, throughout my teen years in particular, the surfboard wax (they all used Mr. Zoog’s) co-mingled with our sunscreen and tanning oil. Really, that’s a SoCal beach to me. Such great memories!

Anywho . . . it’s now 12:30 and I’m remembering all sorts of fun things like being at the US Open of Surfing in Huntington or camping along the fine dirt cliffs of San Clemente. So fun. When this novel is finished, I am certain it will be a favorite.

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Art, Life, & Writing the Hard Stuff

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Being a writer – particularly one who writes novels about love, family, and relationships – is a double-edged sword. Though I wish I could say it’s not always the case, sometimes my best writing comes through pain and heartbreak. I know I have some fellow writers that follow my blog. Can I get a witness? There are times when I write something that doesn’t fit my situation or experience exactly. That’s very true. But often, the richness and depth in my writing just wouldn’t be possible without heartbreak and loss.

Writing about grief, in a novel about losing a child, came from a few different experiences for me. But the bottom line is, that when I wrote Chasing Hope, a novel about grief and family – I couldn’t write about grief without experiencing it. I can’t write about heartbreak, without experiencing it. If there could be a little less of it, however, that would be cool. Ha. I wrote a novel that isn’t my story, but I certainly know how to write about the protagonist’s heartache. The new novel I’ve started (temporarily being called Sea Glass Hearts), is probably a little closer to my story than A Thousand Years.

Nonetheless, writers can be known for being a dark sort of soul. While not all of us are empaths – I think many of us probably are – even if we’re closeted empaths :). We can easily put ourselves in other people’s shoes. We can feel what they feel and we take on their experience. As an artist, I sort of live in places like that, in order to keep writing. Which is rough when then you go through your own painful experiences, losses, or heartbreak. Not everyone writes novels that have painful or dark themes of course. I wish that was true for me. But no matter what I write, it will always factor into my writing in some form or fashion.

I’m feeling it today, folks. I don’t want to write today. Today, I want to focus on what’s happy and good. Because in my real life, my heart is taking a beating. It’s hard to focus on what I think makes my writing better, when personally I am bearing the agony of an untold story and trying to be okay with hurt I can’t make sense of. It sucks. In one of my favorite movies of all time, Something’s Gotta Give, Diane Keaton – a playwright – famously writes her greatest work, while heartbroken and literally crying every step of the way. It’s one of my favorite movies. But she’s also one of my favorite actresses and I adore her portrayal of the life of a writer. And while the crying scenes are utterly ridiculous, they crack me up. I might relate a little is what I’m saying.

As I gear up to enter a writing related contest – with a deadline that’s just a week away – I’m struggling ya’ll. I don’t want to dig into this now. But in my heart of hearts, I know I must. For my writer friends, what do you do, to work on and keep up with self-care and healthy habits if you’re writing the nasty shit that’s just hard to face? What about those of you who write really dark stuff? How do you find yourself able to balance what you write with real life?

But here’s the thing, the agony of not telling the stories is far greater. So here I go . . .

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Sea Glass Hearts

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~ One ~

“She reminded me of the sea; the way she came dancing towards you, wild and beautiful, and just when she was almost
close enough to touch she’d rush away again.”

―Glenda Millard

I am made of salt and sand and the deep jade green of the Atlantic. The salt air courses through my veins. This place, these waves, the sea glass, and shells with rounded edges, beaten constantly in the surf, are the pieces and places of my very soul. The heady scent of the ocean air tells me I’m finally home, though I’m not at all conscious of having lived near this shore. In the setting sun of a July evening, the billowing thunderheads in the distance play with the sun. Shadows and light dance on the surface of the ocean at once bringing out the sparkle, and then moments later shrouding the light in darkness. “So this is it?” I ask no one. Home. The word and all of its implications fill me with competing emotions. I look back toward the car, parked a hundred yards away, in the parking lot of the town’s traffic circle. It’s the center of this beach town, on the Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina.

I turn back to the ocean and breathe deeply, taking it all in. Just up the road is the house I bought, sight unseen, sitting first row, pointed towards the sea. I have spent a lifetime, nearly forty years, dreaming of what it would be like to find the place where I began, to return to my beginnings. To the place where I had been knit together in my mother’s womb. When I was a child, before I had been adopted and floated between countless foster and group homes, I made day trips to the beaches of Southern California. In the course sand of those crowded beaches, I convinced myself that I might as well have been a mermaid for all I really knew. One thing I knew for sure, in the deepest part of my being? I belonged to the sea. Somehow, as I would stand there, as a kid, wearing my church charity last year’s style bathing suit, I knew that the sea called me, and would continue to call me . . . home.

Written by Elaina M. Avalos

**This is from my new work in progress – waiting for me once I’m finished with A Thousand Years. I’m currently doing a little work on it this week, while I take a mini-vacay from A Thousand Years.**

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Mother’s Day & Being Childless

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If you’d asked me when I was a kid, what I wanted to do with my life, it would have sounded a lot like this: I want to be a mom. It’s pretty simple, really. I’m a mom. But I’m childless. I’ve spent so many years living with this hope that a family was just around the corner. But, I actually made that more difficult than it needed to be, by staying in the career I’ve had. I made a series of choices that led to other choices that became years and then more years. And here I am – 45 and without a family.

This always weighs heavily on me as we celebrate Mother’s Day. But, maybe for the first time ever, I’m beginning to see or at least try to accept – alternate versions and visions of my life and future. My life has never been normal. Not ever. So why would this? I don’t know what will happen or what it will look like, but I do know that I’m unwilling to hold back from pursuing possibilities. Maybe I won’t have children or adopt. Maybe I’ll be a stepmom. Maybe I will adopt? I don’t know anything, anymore – to be honest.

One thing I know for sure, however, is that we waste precious time putting things off for some day. When we do this, we are taking tremendous risks with those things we may be meant to do or pursue. Additionally, while I have always struggled with Mother’s Day & being childless, focusing on the struggle is harmful to my well-being. I think a lot of us do that because the struggle becomes more prominent. It’s in our face – constantly reminding us of what hasn’t been done, accomplished, etc. But if you’re anything like me – ruminating on the thing that isn’t – tends to contribute to a stuck in the mire mindset.

I’ve made a promise to myself that I’ll go hard after those things I still have left to accomplish in my life. In the process, I may discover that my story still looks different than what I originally saw for my life. But even so, if I’m fighting hard to take small steps of faith along the way, I’ll know it when I see it. For anyone reading who feels similarly, I hope you will press forward and focus on what’s ahead versus what’s missing – particularly if you, like me, are longing for a family. If you’re a person of faith, I hope you will take small steps in faith, even when it’s hard, knowing that living a life of faith always brings rewards.

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Expectant Hope

It has been stirring for some time – this longing to be free of the constraints of my 9-5. It has grown in intensity since last spring. On days like today, my heart and mind is elsewhere. Free. I need to be free. I have come to the end of this road. And while I’m not sure what awaits me, I can’t go into my Monday-Friday dreading the day – anymore. I refuse.

This particular day – May 4th – is set in my mind and not discussed with anyone else – signified a change for me. It was the day I decided on as the one for making decisions and stepping out in faith. The first full day back to normal – after my week of birthday vacation days – isn’t going to be normal. Today is the start of a whole new way of doing things and stepping forward in faith.

Expectant hope & faith – hope & faith were my words for 2021 and I know that wasn’t by accident. I recently felt a pull toward looking to the future with more expectancy. That’s tough to do sometimes, no? It has been for me. And frustratingly, it seemed like every time I turned around, circumstances made it harder. But I think that’s probably what can also make what comes later, that much sweeter. The tough road to getting to your destination makes the destination more beautiful.

In the days when the Israelites were wandering about for years on end & even after, they’d mark a particular place with stones of remembrance or an altar and name the place something fitting with what God had done. The place came to symbolize something God had done or was doing. It was meant to be a reminder to them and future generations. Today is one of those days for me. I’m marking this place – knowing because of this expectant hope – that great things are ahead.

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I Am Whole, Alone

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I am whole, alone.

I have always found new adventures on my own. I ain’t scared {to try just about anything I set my mind to}. I drove to another state to see my favorite singer perform at my favorite concert venue – alone. I’ve moved far from home. I’ve stayed in a small cottage outside of Asheville, by myself – trying things that weekend simply because I wanted to. I stood on the National Mall during the Inauguration in January 2001 – a day that would prove to be momentous for my career path, after standing on the steps of the Supreme Court– just a month before, certain life was about to change. I have lived fully, in the best way I knew how. I would have done more. I will do more.

When I was in college, I was willing to go anywhere or do anything, if it meant I followed a God I didn’t understand. My mantra back then, “He is no fool, who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” I prayed in our tiny prayer chapel – built in the 60s -and heavy with the weight of decades of petition, grief, hope, and worry – that I’d have the faith to go wherever I was called – even if it didn’t make sense to anyone else.

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But when I stood in a quiet spot this weekend and looked out across a beautiful lake in the Blue Ridge mountains, it was you that was first in my thoughts. It was you that I wish to share that place with. I am whole, alone. I am whole because of the One that designed me. I don’t need anything but Him – not really. But I’d be lying if I said you weren’t on my mind. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want you there with me.

For my next adventures? It’s you I want with me. I don’t know what the next adventures are. I don’t have a plan {except to write my stories}. For the first time in my life, I’ve slowly begun to accept alternate versions of the one adventure I always saw for my life. I don’t have a plan – accept to follow where the path leads, whatever that means.

I’ve tried for a long time to reason myself into indifference. It’s not working. I miss you, today. And all the days prior. I am whole, alone. But it’s you I want here with me. Come walk alongside me.