Chasing Dreams – A Tip for Beginning Your Journey

elaina avalos, chasing dreams,

I’ve mentioned that I’m ready for a new adventure & that I’ve got a timeline for making some decisions about the future. The closer I get to needing to solidify my plan, the more convinced I become of this one thing – I have more dreams to chase. When you grieve, it’s easier to lay aside the big, fat scary dreams that require stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s easier. It’s safer. I’ve done that (avoided scary things) since the moment I said goodbye to the sweet boy that made me a mom.

I don’t like easy & safe. I never have. I’m not made for it. I’ve never feared chasing dreams and I’ve never shied away from going after them.

That may mean that I have to travel paths others don’t, but I’ve always been good with that. As a writer and artist at heart, I’m comfortable with the hard things and grey lines. Those hard things make writing and creating, richer. If you’re willing, it also makes you a better lover of people. It makes you better able to love and care for others in their hardest moments. I think it adds more to my writing too. I don’t like to live on the surface. The hard things we face can either make life richer or they dwarf us and make us bitter.

I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”
― Anais Nin

I’ve lived in a dwarfed state, because of my grief, much longer than I’m comfortable with. I’m done with all of that though. I am chasing dreams again – whatever that means and wherever that takes me.

So, if you’re anything like me, and you’re ready to chase some dreams, what’s the first step? The first step is letting go. Letting go of what, you may ask? That I can’t tell you. Maybe it’s other’s expectations. Maybe it’s fear of the consequences of heading in a new direction. Maybe it’s a combination of a few things. Whatever it is, that’s your first step – let go.

By the way, the first step is the hardest one. But if you’re chasing dreams, it’s where the meat is. Make. Up. Your. Mind. And. Do. It.

Let go.

There’s a scene in The West Wing in season 2’s “Two Cathedrals” that I love. If I could have found it for you, I would have shared (below is what happens just before the press conference). The show has spent multiple episodes up to this point, dealing with a popular president’s hidden multiple sclerosis diagnosis. President Bartlet knows he wants to run again. But the looming possibility that by hiding his diagnosis, it will all go up and flames, is consuming the Bartlet White House. They’re all focused on the consequence of what happens when the country learns that he didn’t divulge this important information. They’re worried about the future – all of them.

Meanwhile, President Bartlet is reliving memories of his beloved secretary (that he’s known since high school – she worked for his father) who died in a car accident and is buried the very day he’s going public, with his diagnosis. The truth is, he wants to run again. He believes he has more to do. He has a dream. And in his gut, he knows what he needs to do. But the circumstances are seemingly insurmountable. Their pollster has already given them the skinny – you can’t win after telling the country you have MS (and hid it from the world).

But on this painful day that he buries Mrs. Landingham, he faces down the circumstances, the dream, and work left undone. He fights it out with God in the National Cathedral and has a conversation with “her” afterward – just before his press conference. As he stands there at the podium, soaking wet from an unusual May hurricane-like storm, with questions being shouted out at him, he goes against his Press Secretary’s advice and takes a question from the wrong reporter. She asks him if he’s going to run for President again.

At first, he seems disoriented. And then, and then. His gaze is steely, he puts his hands in his pockets, and he faces the wild press corps. He knows what he has to do. He lets go of the grief, he lets go of the circumstances (all telling him he shouldn’t do this thing), and he lets go of the worries about how hard the path ahead is going to be. The show ends with his Chief of Staff saying, “Watch this.”

He let go and went for it.

So that’s it – friend. Let go. That’s where you have to start. It’s not going to be easy. You’ll face tests along the way. But I’m convinced that’s often a good sign you’re where you need to be. Take the first step and the rest will become clear.

What dream are you contemplating pursuing? What holds you back? What are the chances you’re stuck at what could do wrong? Don’t stay stuck at what could go wrong . . .

60 Days

I knew it was coming. But I have been kicking the can down the road. When I got home from work today, there was a notice on my door reminding me that my lease is up soon. As such, I need to make a decision about what comes next – a year lease (Lord have mercy, no), month to month, or a 6-11 month lease. Of course, all options come with an increase in rent. If this was the only decision to make about my future, I probably wouldn’t feel so . . . uncertain.

But there’s more up in the air than where I live. Housing options aren’t great in my area (unless you want to buy). I can’t commit an entire year to an apartment. Especially seeing as how I’m not a fan of the apartment complex. But I also have a, how shall I say this? A work project. I have a work project that isn’t complete until a certain date that doesn’t coincide with when my lease is up.

I’m about 100% positive that I don’t want to live in my area when the work project is complete. I’m also 100% positive that I’m done with apartment living (unless said apartment is in France, Italy, or in a big city – haha).

The other challenging factor? Foster care and/or adoption. If I get started with that here again, I ultimately should commit to see an infant or child through, until reunification or termination of parental rights – whether I’m adopting or not. Knowing my county, Lord knows how long that could take. But the thought of further putting that off, for some unknown amount of time, sounds terrible, too.

I mean . . . I don’t know what the heck to do. My lease is up in 60-days. This is the first pressing decision that must be made. Nope, I won’t be out on my keister (haha) on the 61st day, since I can go month to month. But I need a direction before this 60-days is up. I literally have no clue what direction to head in. Literally. No. Clue.

I can’t remember a time where I’ve been in quite this kind of predicament before. Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin. Where do you begin when faced with making major changes or adjustments? I’m ready for a new adventure but I don’t have a clue where or when to begin. How do you analyze and decide which road to take when you’re at a crossroads?

You’d think that 44 trips around the sun would help make this process easier? But nah. 🙂 I know a few things for sure:

1. I love a good adventure and I’m ready for another one.
2. Delayed dreams can’t be delayed forever. I’m ready to make room for more of mine.
3. I am excited & nervous about what lies ahead.

What are your tips for making hard decisions and analyzing next steps?

I Need a New Adventure

Elaina Avalos, Elaina M. Avalos, comfort zone

The days repeat, each day bearing resemblance to the one before. In the quiet of my evenings, as the day fades and I prepare for a new one, I think about what the months ahead will bring. I long for change. I wait, not so patiently (though I try), for what has eluded me so far. I hope against hope that on the other side, the life waiting there is what I’ve prayed for, for so long. I am ready for the next steps. I don’t know where they’re leading, but I know where I want them to lead.

“The comfort zone is nothing else but a graveyard for your dreams & ideas.” -Anonymous

I question, as I sit here alone, what I’m waiting for. I know what my heart is waiting for. But I know why my head wants to press forward. I turn 45 in a few months and as April gets closer each day, the pull I feel, to pack up and move on, gets stronger. This birthday feels significant to me – far more than so many others. I tell myself to wait just a little longer. I get to an end of another long weekend and waiting seems futile in this silence. Today, I feel defeated in the midst of all this waiting. But I wait a little longer still. I honestly don’t know anymore, what exactly it is that I’m waiting for. If there was a clear sense that I was called to something greater or that I was meant to be here, making a difference, perhaps it wouldn’t be quite so hard? Perhaps I could press on. But the truth is, the wait appears on the surface to hold no purpose.              

“You can choose courage or you can choose comfort. You cannot have both.” -Brene Brown

In the wait, I only grow more certain that major change is needed. And more importantly, that I’m ready for it. I’ve never been able to turn down an adventure. The desire for new scenery, opportunities, people, and places isn’t new to me. It is what brought me across the country to Washington, D.C. in 2000 and then again in 2005. It’s what brought me to the desert of California and to the coast of North Carolina a few times. So here I am again. I need a new adventure. I don’t know how much longer before I get to start out on this new road, but I know it’s coming. I am ready.

I Don’t Need Much

The greatest wants in my life have never been things, but instead, my greatest want has always been a lasting love & a family – however that family is built. That will be my greatest accomplishment when I leave this world. I’m certain of this.

I don’t need much – just him and the life we will build. It’s a simple thing, really.

Halfway There – a Novel in Progress!

NaNoWriMo, NaNoWriMo 2020, Elaina Avalos

Yesterday, I wrote 2,434 words bringing me to a total of 26,002 words. I’m halfway there! While I think the novel will be over 50,000 words – the goal for NaNoWriMo is 50,000.

I have to say – I will never again return to writing the old way. My first draft is a first draft through and through. As I go, I think of things I’d like to change and make notes for the 2nd or 3rd drafts. I’m getting the overall story “on paper” without touching what I’ve written, with the hope of going back in on the second draft adding more description and some of the writing that I most love to do – to make my characters and locations come alive.

When I wrote Chasing Hope it took me ages (and ages). I’m my own worst critic. I wrote, deleted, wrote some more. Deleted. Edited. Over and over the pattern went. It took me so long. And it’s still not the book I want it to be. I plan on re-writing it someday.

The other thing that slows me down is that I will find myself going down a research rabbit hole when there’s something I need to learn more about, a house I have in mind – as my protagonist’s house, etc. I have tried to reduce that significantly this time. A few evenings ago, I was halfway to my daily word count goal and spent a little time on research. Last night, after I’d reached my goal, I did a little more.

My plan is to spend more time on that for the second draft. Although not exactly research, another issue that needs updating in subsequent drafts is that my timeline is allll jacked up because I’m changing things as I go – as the story makes more sense and comes into greater focus. The main characters both have children. I want the kids to all be younger now that I’ve started working on it, for instance. So that’s one reason my timing is jacked. Part of what will need to be worked out is just that – when I truly want to start this story, how long I want my protagonist to be apart from her love interest, and therefore how old the kids are when the novel begins.

I’m excited to have gotten so far, so quickly. For me, this is a huge deal. I’m celebrating today with Carolina Panthers football, a mimosa, and yeah – writing.

Chasing Goals

I started writing my new novel on October 31st – writing over my daily goal. Yesterday, I wrote until I had surpassed my writing goal by a bit – for a total of 5,952 words so far.

I will be posting my daily word count on my NaNoWriMo profile (https://nanowrimo.org/participants/elainamarie). I won’t update here until I hit major goals. But I wanted to share if you’re still trying to decide whether to start . . .

This is your sign – start writing. I’m chasing goals. And on this chilly Monday, I wanted to encourage you to chase some of your own – especially if you’re a writer.

NaNOWriMo

Tomorrow kicks off National Novel Writing Month! Did you know there was such a thing? Well . . . there is. And for the last 11 years I’ve started and never finished. This is a thing I do. Start. Not finish. 👎🏼

So, if you read here you know that since about August I’ve been posting flash fiction & a prologue that’s part of a new novel I’m working on. It’s actually a series. In the month of November, I’m sure there will be a million distractions – thanks to the job that pays the bills – but I’m going to write every dang day. I may not hit my word count goal by November 30th, but I’m sure going to try.

If you’re a fellow writer, are you doing NaNOWriMo this year? And if so, find me there and add me as a buddy. I could use a kick in the pants when I slow down and would love to be spurred on by others working toward the same goal.

You can find me, here: https://nanowrimo.org/participants/elainamarie.

Good luck to my fellow writers!