Chasing Dreams – Book Anniversary

Chasing Hope, Elaina M. Avalos, novel, indie author, fiction, novel, Beaufort NC

One year ago today, my novel was published. It was a long time coming. I started writing this book so long ago. Like all of us, as we grow and change over the years, it changed too.

But it was always about family, adoption, and love. To celebrate the anniversary of finally chasing my dreams . . . the book will be on sale, starting June 12th!

You can read an excerpt, here & here. You can find it on Goodreads, here. You can find the Amazon reviews, here.

What dreams have you been chasing lately, friend?

First Grade – Kiddo Update

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Today was my kiddo’s first grade awards & end of year party. He has been so excited about it all week. Yes, he asks about the last day of school. But he also asked how many days until the 7th.

He came to my bedroom door at 6:15 this morning, knocking loudly. I thought something was wrong. I got up & opened the door and before he could say anything else, he said, “Today’s my party!”

I picked out a shirt & shorts and left them for him while I went back to my room and got ready. When I opened my door again, I could see him going through his clip-on ties. A couple of minutes later he walked over to me wearing a mis-matched tie. He beamed.

He felt it was important to wear a tie today. So I gave him a little fashion advice and encouraged him to find a different color. He came back with it on. He looked adorable. He said, “I look handsome,” when he checked himself out in the mirror.

He is so precious and sweet.

When I arrived at his classroom, I got a, “Mommmyyy!!!!” He ran to me and threw his arms around me. It was the sweetest thing. He’s never called me mommy though he’s used a variety of “mom/mama” names for me. He tells the kids in his class that I’m mom. But 9 times out of 10 here at home, he calls me “Miss Elaina.”

He was so proud to show me his desk (which I’ve seen of course…lol) and his art projects. He could not contain himself. He was so excited. His “award” for the year was the “Snicker Starter” because he’s always snickering and making the class and his teacher laugh too.

His classmates voted him as having the “best laugh.” Between his smile and his laugh, it’s hard not to feel joy around him when he is happy. He is such a sweetheart. I’m grateful he had a teacher that was patient with him after all the changes he’s gone through.

I do have to say, I got a little teary-eyed. I was emotional not only to see him so happy, but because there was a time in my life when I’d doubted I’d ever have the opportunity to do something like that. He’s not “mine.” But how sweet for us both to have each other today. I had fun experiencing something I haven’t as a “parent.” But I also enjoyed seeing his joy at having me there.

I’m so proud of this little man and his determination. I have a playlist for him because he loves music so much. I put a few songs on it that he didn’t know, like “Overcomer” by Mandisa. I explained to him what that song means. We watched the video on YouTube.

I told him, “You’re an overcomer!” This morning I told him that I thought we needed a motivating song on the way to school. He said, “How about Overcomer by Mandisa?” I said, “YEP! That’s the one.”

He’s an overcomer.

His heart is so tender. And I know God has great things in store for him. I don’t know how long he’ll be with me, but I have a feeling that if he leaves my home, I’ll see his face somewhere – doing something incredible & awesome.

Love that little guy.

New Fiction to Share

On Facebook, I’ve shared some quick, “new” fiction.

One, flash fiction of sorts, can be found HERE. It’s a love story in less than 500 words. It sounds like something from my Macon & Ava’s story. Maybe it will go in the sequel?

“He, the beautiful man of the hard way, is a challenge I am sometimes convinced I canโ€™t meet. Even after all these years. Today, in a quiet moment in the midst of a busy day, I thought about the way his eyes hold mine. There has been fire and light for me in his eyes โ€“ for me, for as long as I can remember. Me. His fierceness lights me from the inside out with just one look.”

Read the rest, here.

New Bern NC, flash fiction, love story, love, romance, Elaina Avalos

You can read my short story, called “It Looks Like This,”ย HERE!

Hold Fast to Your Dreams

chasing hope, elaina avalos, fiction, novel, hold fast to your dreams

A year ago today, I posted this photo on Instagram & Facebook. I had finally finished editing my novel, Chasing Hope. This novel, set in beautiful Beaufort, NC, had taken me far too long to write. Over the years, as I grew and changed, the novel did too. In many ways I’m thankful for that.

However, there is one primary way I would change things if I could. It is this . . .

I would not have let anything stop me from writing every day (or starting the foster care/adoption process sooner). I take on too much. I put things off in the name of my job. It was always, “Later. I’ll get to it later,” with me. I am sensitive – sometimes too sensitive. The way people treat me deeply impacts me. I take those burdens home.

chasing hope, elaina avalos, beaufort nc, fiction, novel

Or, I am burdened by other’s hurt, trials, etc. On one hand, this is not a bad thing. I don’t want to change who I am. However, I didn’t do such a great job separating out my own life from my career or the organization that employed me.

When you’re weighed down by the extras, it tends to hold you back from what it is you actually want to be doing. At least that’s true of me. I’m sure there are many others out there like me, however. Especially those of you that are sensitive, artists, or just generally don’t believe in yourself.

Even after publishing Chasing Hopeย (read an excerpt by clicking the link) last summer, I have done what I did for so many years – I put off writing the second book and stopped working on promotion of the first one.

There is an extra person in my house that impacts when I can write. But that’s really not the biggest impediment to me holding fast to and pursuing my dreams.

It’s the way I let my day job impact my personal life. Here’s the thing. I love what I do. I love the people that I have been working with since 2010. I truly do. I wouldn’t trade these 8 years.

What was so badly needed, was for me to learn sooner, how to leave work at work. The truth is, after all this time, the Marine Corps has made major changes to the program I love. And though I won’t lose my job (this time), in an instant, they’ll part ways with me, without a second thought.

chasing hope, elaina avalos, chasing hope by elaina avalos, fiction, novel, beaufort nc, pamlico county nc

A wise man, who knows this organization so well, once told me that it will do what is best for itself. No matter what. So . . . I probably should just go ahead and do what’s best for me and be who God has called me to be, right? Why silence, hide, or put other things first?

I do not regret for one second the two units I have invested so much of my heart in. Not even for a second. What I do regret is that I forgot to do that at home. That was my choice. No one else’s.

In the last two weeks, I’ve come to face some hard truths about myself and the organization I love. I’ve come to realize how patient God is with me as I put off the me He created me to be.

elaina avalos, chasing hope by elaina avalos, maya angelou, writer

Waking up this morning to that post was a reminder of what I want so badly for my life. In the book “Draw the Circle,” Mark Batterson talks about “circling” people, situations, dreams, etc., in prayer. Essentially that just means pray without giving up. I have a 3×5 card of the main things I want to circle in prayer.

On that card is my dream to write full time. Now that I have a little guy living in my house, this has grown in importance. Every time I pick him up from childcare and I’m reminded of what I wanted to be true of my life, I know that I need to throw everything I have at being home full time with him and whomever else joins our little family.

This is the dream. It may not be your dream, but it has always been mine.

For those of you sitting on your dreams, don’t do it any longer. Maybe that dream is your side hustle right now. Maybe you can’t begin to imagine how you’ll make it all come together. I understand.

You know what they say? Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Here’s the thing, I can pray until I’m blue in the face. But if I’m not out there doing my part, how exactly do I think doors are going to open for me and my family? If I’m not hustling, how exactly do I expect this dream to happen?

So, my friends . . . hold fast to your dreams. If you’re a pray-er, pray.

But get to work.

I’ll get to work with you.

What dream of yours has been languishing, as you put other things first? Care to share? Maybe it’s time to share and speak that dream out loud?

Waves

elaina avalos, missing you comes in waves

There are some days and nights when I’m not sure if I’ll ever get over you. This seems a little dramatic, no?

You can’t make this $%^&, up, right? The months that have passed leave me with more questions than answers and resolutions.

This can’t be the end.

If it is, this is the biggest (maybe second biggest) punk’d moment God has ever pulled off, in my life.

Tonight, I am drowning. Last night, I longed to talk to you. Tonight is no different. I pray for the ability to let go.

“Hang on, hang on.” I hear in my head when I’m standing on the edge and about to say, “NO MORE. I can’t wait any longer, pray any longer. I can’t wait for you anymore.”

And then, I can’t let go.

I miss you. I may, always.

You can’t make this up.

Random

I have a lot on my mind. I’m not sure what to share so here are a few random thoughts about things:

  • My foster son is African American. If you doubt racism exists, I can confirm for you that it does. Go ahead and stay in your safe little corner if you disagree. But, I’ll also tell you that it exists across all lines and cultures. I’ve been looked at with disdain by people of a few different colors, when we’re out and about. The kids in the neighborhood don’t care. His favorite friend is a little Caucasian girl that’s in the same grade. They became quick friends. It’s sad that adults are so f’d up. I wonder sometimes if our culture is beyond healing.
  • In brighter news, today I took FS6 shopping. DSS provided me with a voucher for some clothing, shoes, and personal items. On top of some summer shoes & clothes, I bought him some hair care and skin products. I read up on skin care and hair care for African American children. I still haven’t picked out a barber for him though. Anyway, the checker at the store was an older African American woman. She looked at the lotion and hair products I bought and though I’d spent some time reading about them she said, “You’re not really sure what to buy are you?” I said, “No.” Honestly, I’m not. I’m just trying to find the best things for his skin & hair. She said, “See what you do is, you find a barber near home. You take him there every two weeks and let them take care of his hair and show you what he needs. They’ll teach him how to comb it and care for it. If you like the first one you go to, ask him to be your personal barber. He’ll take care of him, for you.”
  • I was touched, to be honest. It’s one of the first times that anyone has kindly given me advice (versus looking at me with disdain). She talked a bit about her own daughter. At one point, my FS6 was acting up a little. Not much, because he’s a good kid, but he honestly didn’t listen to me. Well, she took care of that and told him to knock it off and act right. ๐Ÿ™‚ He sure did. To be honest, one of my prayers right now is that if he’s with me long term, I will know how best to keep him connected to his African American community. I so appreciate her kindness.
  • She also told me she thought about fostering at one time. Many people have told me that. It’s not easy to step out and do it. Frankly, it’s not easy once you’re in it. But if it’s on your heart somewhere, it’s worth pursuing a little until your figure out your place in the world of fostering.
  • Maybe you’re not meant to foster. But if your heart is with those who do, maybe finding a way to support organizations or families who do, is a great place to start.

For the random people that run across my blog because of foster care, one word of advice I’d offer the single women – particularly if you’re over 40 like me. Take a long, hard look at where you stand with your own journey with having biological children. If you’re still grieving the life you don’t have, maybe hold off on fostering for a bit.

It’s not a life that is without pain and grief. My gut feeling some time back was that if I wasn’t going to be given the gift of biological children, perhaps I should adopt an infant before becoming a foster parent.

I can tell you that this is absolutely what I should have done. Being 42 and knowing that your chances to have a biological child are fairly non-existent is a grief that isn’t easy to process. And as such, foster care isn’t the right answer for that kind of grief. It doesn’t mean it’s not part of my calling. But I do know for a fact now that rushing myself through these painful feelings was not good for me.

And it makes fostering, which is complex and filled with some sad and painful moments, that much harder. Actually, if you’re a couple struggling with infertility, I’d probably offer the same advice. Make sure you’ve really processed through the complex feelings regarding having bio kids, before you jump in.

It’s not that it won’t ever be right for you. It’s that maybe you need a little time to work through what won’t be, before you’re fully ready. I was not fully ready. But here I am so . . . I keep movin’.

My FS6 is a sweet boy and for however long he needs the safety and stability here, he’ll have it. I pray in the meantime God hears my prayer for healing and…for a baby. When I’m feeling really cray cray, I ask for the opportunity to give birth. But that’s probably getting really crazy. ๐Ÿ™‚