My Kind of Love

Before my recent vacation started, I started re-watching my all time favorite television show, LOST. You have to type it out that way . . . L-O-S-T, or you’re not a true LOSTie. So anyway, the show will always stick with me because of what the Show Runners, writers, and directors did with the characters throughout its six seasons. For a show that was filled with everything from time travel to age-old questions of faith vs. science, mystery, and even violence – it did what other action-packed dramas on television have never done for me – made me love its characters.

As someone that writes character-driven fiction, it was only natural that I’d fall in love with the characters themselves. They’re not exactly lovable. They’re not exactly worthy of hate, either. While there are a few characters that I will never like, for the most part, I love all of them. Each character is complex. None of them are fully good. Most of them aren’t fully bad, either. They’re like most of us – a healthy of mix of what’s good and what’s not.

Though I’m drawn to love stories in movies and books, those remain secondary to what has made me such a loyal fan of the show. That said (you knew I was going to throw a however comma in there, right?), there are some great love stories woven into the six seasons. It’s hard to pick which is my favorite – though Sawyer and Juliet and Jack and Kate certainly rise to the top. I’ve shared before that Desmond and Penny share one of my favorite television moments of all time. Above is another. While the whole clip is pivotal – in terms of the plot – it’s also another one of the perfect moments that passes between Desmond and Penny. Much like in my favorite moment between them, in The Constant.

It is ultimately their love that changes things, for everyone on the island – at least on the surface. But I love their love. It’s my kind of love. These two stay the course, in spite of insurmountable odds. Desmond – poor guy – he takes the worst of it, thanks to Penny’s horrible father. And even though there are moments when she wavers, in the beginning, she knows. She knows how loved she is. She knows how far Desmond will go to show her that.

Because of that, she waits. She doesn’t give up. While she waits, she’s constantly trying to figure out how to find Desmond so they can be reunited. At about 2:50 in the clip, Desmond recalls the words Penny has written him in a letter he keeps – to remind him of how and where they started. I remain uncertain that in season 1 – these two would become as important as they are in the rest of the seasons. Nonetheless, it is their determination and dedication to each other that keeps them on course.

This is my kind of love. If only. Strip away all the craziness of a TV show – these two have a few things going for them in addition to loving each other – loyalty, determination, and patience are a pretty solid foundation. It’s what sustains them through the darkest moments when all seems lost (pun intended). Like I said – if only.

Birthdays, Vacations, & Other Random Thoughts

Captain Bob Beck, Captain Bob Beck's Marina Cafe, Jacksonville NC, elaina avalos, onslow county, only in onslow
Birthday lunch location…

A famous literary agent recently wrote a blog post about the need for writers to stop with the random blog posts. Oops. I respect almost everything she has to say. But, if I’m not random, I’m not sure I have anything to say (or write). So whatever.

Yesterday was my 46th birthday. I’m on vacation this week. Vacation seems to connote trips to exotic locales and exciting adventures. I’m at home – near the coast of North Carolina – it’s not exciting or exotic. I’ve napped. I have done ridiculous amounts of laundry (there’s a backstory for this). I re-arranged my living room/dining room/office space, with my mom. I ate at a restaurant I’ve never been to, though I’ve passed by it for 21 years. I’m applying for jobs and praying for God’s will for my career & life. I’ve cleaned up my kitchen, caught up on randomness, and maybe came to terms with all that’s missing.

Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center, Beaufort, Beaufort NC, NC Maritime Museum, Beaufort Food & Wine, elaina avalos
Wine, Bread & Cheese Seminar – Beaufort Wine & Food Festival. Photo by Elaina Avalos.

Tomorrow, I head to the “Wine, Bread, & Cheese” seminar of the Beaufort Wine & Food – Spring Festival. The winery featured tomorrow is Napa Cellars. I can’t say for certain if I’ve ever had any of their wine. But I’m certain I’ll enjoy the pairings. While this year’s event is not at the Watercraft Center (huge bummer), it’s impossible not to love any locale in Beaufort. While we’ve had a cold front blow through and it will be a tad chillier than it has been, the salt air is about all I care about. I live in Beaufort when I first moved back to North Carolina, after a few years at home in California, and I miss it. On Friday and Saturday, I’ll be volunteering at a couple of other events. I am looking forward to that as well.

As my birthday month seems to do (the last six years), I’ve got much to think & dream about. And more to plan. One thing that has come into focus, is how much I’ve held onto the last few years, that I don’t want to hold onto – any longer. Everyone’s way of weeding their way through these types of things is different. I suppose the point at which we’re ready to dispose of them is different for everyone. This is my line in the sand. Tomorrow, I’ll add another. I’ll share that later. All in all, I continue to press forward, hoping someone will finally respond to my resume (so many jobs applied for) and that I might feel a little sense of closure.

No matter what, I’ll just keep plugging away until I know what comes next.

Counting Down to Vacation

When I leave work on Friday, I will be on vacay until May 2nd. I cannot wait. I am counting down to vacation.

I’m on my back patio as I write this. It’s 7:10 and I should be starting my Sunday evening routine. But I am not ready for Monday and so I’m sitting here as the wind blows through the trees and as my playlist , plays – pretending it’s not time for me to wind down. The good news is, when I get home from work in the early evening and it’s still light out – I will make my way back out there.

So what happens on vacation? Rest. Projects at home. Writing. And the Beaufort Wine & Food Festival . This year, I’ve only bought tickets to one event. I’ll be volunteering at three others. I’m excited for that this year as something different.

Abby approves of the patio.

Speaking of wine – I’ve been making more deliberate choices when it comes to wine. I am choosing specific wines I’ve learned about through a variety of podcasts or on SOMM TV (yes, I subscribe to a streaming service about wine). Food & wine people are my favorite. Wine people more specifically. I adore them. When I used to attend wine dinners or wine tastings regularly, one thing I loved was how you could be with the most random people – from all walks of life – and have the best time even though you might initially think you don’t have anything in common. There is always, always something to find in common with folks.

Anyway…I’m working on being more deliberate in my choices when it comes to wine. But recently, I decided that I’d try a wine that I was drawn to only for it’s name. Hampton Water. I mean, weird. It’s a French rosé.

Hampton Water & its annoying glass “cork.”

Here’s the thing, it has a glass cork. I’ve never seen this before. I literally had to watch a video to learn how to open the wine. But I didn’t just have to watch a video, after the second time trying to open it (took me a half hour), I left it open on the counter – refusing to cork it again. Lol. “Vivino” – an app I use – decided that I would like this bottle and expected me to rate it 4.0 stars. I did not rate it 4 stars. I rated it 3. But now that I’m several days from trying it, I’m not sure if I rated it 3 because it wasn’t great or because I was so annoyed at how hard it was to open. I’m leaning toward the latter. I may try it again (if someone else opens it).

This guy is not bad. It’s on the cheaper end of what I’ve buying lately. But I have been enjoying it more than the more expensive Hampton Water. I love the stories that accompany the wines I’ve been choosing. And though I didn’t choose this Bordeaux wine for its story, choosing a wine with a high price point or its bottle or name is pretty pointless. I’d much rather drink a “cheaper” bottle over a trendier wine, at a higher price point – if I don’t enjoy it. Seems like a no-brainer, right? But people are out there doing that and it seems pointless.

Instead, move to where you want to live, do what you want to do, start what you want to start, and create the life you want to live today.

Dale Partridge

As I head into my last five days before a break of nine days, I am determined – more now than ever before – to create a life that I don’t feel a desperate need to get away from. It’s a phrase used frequently. I think it’s probably seen as cliché-ish, but as with many things that get overused – there’s still some truth to it.

My goal in the coming weeks and moths is to do just that.

P.S. Another 50 by 50 goal – learn how to make my own wine!

Neurons That Fire Together…

Neurons that fire together, wire together. ~ Donald Hebb

This is another one of those random rambling posts . . .

  1. Donald Hebb, a neuropsychologist said “Neurons that fire together, wire together,” many years ago. Essentially, it describes the process of neural pathways being formed and reinforced, in your brain, over time. This can be a positive thing. It can be a negative thing. Ultimately, it does highlight the power of our brains and our ability to positively change negative thought patterns or habits that hold us back. I’ve been working on this. Primarily, my goal is to learn how to stay on track as the positive, person I was born to be – who delights in the little sweet things and serving & taking care of people – no matter what’s happening around me. I had a rough week this last week. I can see, from my vantage point of my comfy couch, on a Saturday evening, how much better the week would have gone, had I remembered to practice mindfulness and a little meditation when things were particularly challenging in several situations that were negative and beyond my ability to control. At the end of the day, we have the ability to remain calm, at peace, and focused where we want our energy focused – even when there is chaos and negativity around us.
Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center, Beaufort, Beaufort NC, NC Maritime Museum, Beaufort Food & Wine, elaina avalos
Photo by…me, at the Wine, Bread, & Cheese Seminar in 2017.

2. April is my birth month. When I turned 40, I went to the Beaufort Wine & Food Festival (now referred to as the Beaufort Food & Wine Spring Festival – because there’s a fall event, too!) as a gift to myself. A friend bought me a ticket to one event, too. I went for several years and then missed out when I had kids in my home (foster care) & then COVID ruined 2020’s event. This is the first time I’ve been in a while and I am excited to attend the “Wine, Bread, & Cheese” seminar (a favorite). This time & because I am trying to move my way into the hospitality world, I’ve decided to volunteer at two other events. I’ll be volunteering at the Spring Soirée & the Vin de Mer Epicurean Village. I cannot wait. I’m taking the week off, too! Though it’s a month away, I’m already counting down the days.

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3. I love entertaining, hosting, cooking, and serving. I love the act of choosing wine to go with a meal I’m serving. I adore events with good food & great wine. Food & wine people are my fav. They are from all walks of life and when the drinks are flowing and the food is amazing, no one cares what you look like, where you come from, or what your degrees are or are not. I love when people attend my events and have a ton of fun or they’re so busy enjoying themselves, they don’t even know what time it is. When I’ve planned family events – like holiday parties, the best feeling (ever) was seeing our kids running around having a total blast. But even better was when I’d catch our young, single Marines, having fun (against their best efforts to have fun). My fav event ever, was when our Marines & families were so busy with stand up paddle boarding and kayaking, hiking, and enjoying our meal, they had no idea we were packing up to head home. Although it’s not talked about a lot, those who have a Christian faith, as I do, believe there are various gifts that we are given – by God. Hospitality is a “spiritual gift” and it’s one I have. One of the best feelings I have had in the last 11+ years in my current career, in addition to what I’ve already mentioned, is how often my “co-workers” told me they came to my office because it was so “peaceful.” They came for snacks, for a break in the quiet of my office, and because “it smells so good in here.” Haha. I got such a kick out of that. Hospitality – it’s a joy to me. I absolutely love welcoming people into my environment (whatever that may be). And though it may take a while, I know that my next career has that as its primary focus.

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5. Tonight, it’s this song . . .

It’s the Little Things

Trader Joe's Flowers, Trader Joe's Daffodils, Daffodils, Elaina Avalos

It’s the little things that mean the most, sometimes. The joy – for me, is in the hike in the forest, when the only sounds around me are the birds, or the wind through the pines, or in the view from my kitchen window.

In no particular order, here’s where I’m clinging to the little things & the way they bring me joy & delight . . .

1. Fresh daffodils in my favorite vase.

Kitchen Window View, Trees, Woods, Elaina Avalos

2. The view from my kitchen window.

3. The hope that God’s plan, which I can’t fully see yet, is far better than my own.

Your Plan and God's Plan, Elaina Avalos

4. Memories of our chats (and maybe even arguments) are priceless to me now. Your defense of me, support, our conversations, and your eyes (maybe also your cologne) – are the best thing in the absolute mess of the last few years. I miss the joy I felt being around you. I truly miss you, my friend.

5. My quiet home.

6. Being heard.

7. Sunsets.

Eastern NC sunset, Carolina sunset, ENC Sunset, Elaina Avalos

8. New to me songs…

Honestly, it’s the sweet moments, in my quiet house, with these little “things” – that have helped me feel like I’ve finally returned to myself.

So what are some of your favorite “little” things?