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.

Actions Speak Louder

I’ve given up a lot personally – sacrificing time, personal goals, etc. in the name of what I felt was a kind of calling – a calling for the greater good. So you see – I was sacrificing – but I was doing so for the sake of this mission. That calling or mission seemed to make the long hours and hard days worth it. But after the last 25 months, I can honestly say I’ve been thoroughly defeated and I’ve gotten nowhere. The value I hold to the organization – is non-existent (if you’re evaluating based on actions, that is).

In the last 25 months, I’ve lost a great deal personally, staked my reputation on defending someone who disappeared from my life, and I’m now 25 more months removed from the life I’ve always wanted personally. And for what? Have I made any difference at all? Because in this defeat – in settling into the truth that I hold absolutely no value to them – when I’ve given up so much – it feels like I haven’t.

Why do we allow words, without action, to hold us back from taking the leap we may need to take? Maybe that leap is out of a job, church, or relationship? If you’re a person like me, that’s held on, thinking personal sacrifice is worth it – without truly evaluating what you’re giving up – you may want to stop that. Particularly if the relationship, job, whatever- isn’t holding up their end of the bargain. Listen, we don’t need to be selfish & demanding. But we do need to go where our worth is recognized and where there is equality and balance. I’m tired of fighting – when actions have revealed over and over what my true value is to them.

Taking into consideration the paths that brought us to these places – if you’re anything like me, will be important. Take the good things, lessons, and memories and leap into choosing yourself and your future. Invest in yourself and keep your eyes focused on the path ahead. But this time, don’t leave yourself out, like I did all these years.

Our Response to Stress

stress, maureen killoran, tiny buddha, tinybuddha.com

“It’s not what happens to us. It’s our response to what happens. And response is something we can choose.” – Maureen Killoran

It has been a while since I’ve shared a podcast recommendation. Today, on my second favorite podcast (Being Well) Dr. Hanson & Forrest Hanson tackled the topic of stress in a episode called, “Understand and Manage Stress: Causes, Biological Basis, and Increasing Resilience.”

Here’s a bit of the description:
On this episode, Dr. Rick and Forrest Hanson take a deep dive into defining stress, how it functions, how it impacts our lives and bodies, and what we can do to repair from its effects. We discuss how to distinguish stress from effort, the influence of the modern world on how stressed we feel, the various biological mechanisms involved in stress, and the challenges presented by chronic exposure to it. We then consider what we can do to increase resilience, including positively responding to stressors even in the midst of limitations and uncertainty.

This is definitely worth your time. But you will need a little over an hour to tune in. It’s so worth it. I’m already on my second listen. If you’re prone to stress, work in a stressful environment, or just generally feel like your brain and body haven’t caught up after a traumatic or painful event, I think you will get a lot out of this.

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.

event planner, event management, wedding planner, coastal carolina events, elaina avalos

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.

event planner, event management, wedding planner, coastal carolina events, elaina avalos, oprah winfrey

5. Tonight, it’s this song . . .