What Comes Next?

“I hope
you can find
peace
while
breathing
deep
without
knowing
what
comes
next.”
– Morgan Harper Nichols

What I know for certain is that life is uncertain. Making decisions about the future is tough sometimes. As I apply for jobs in California and various other locations around the country, the unknowns are mounting. What I don’t know, far outweighs what I do know. The challenge in moments like these is to keep my eyes fixed on God. My goal throughout this journey is being at peace with whatever comes my way.

I’m always up for an adventure. It has been awhile since I’ve had one, however. I think I’m due for one. So while I don’t know where the path is leading, I’m at peace.

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.

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 . . .

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/

50 by 50

Anne Lamott, Elaina M. Avalos, elaina avalos, 50 by 50

In April 2026, I will turn 50. This year feels like a big birthday, as I turn 45. But gosh, there’s a lot I’ve still got to do before hitting 45 and six weeks won’t do it. So, after a friend posted about her 40 before 40 (that she’s now added a few more items onto for 50 before 50), I’ve decided that I’m going to join in the fun. I am not sure how long it will take me to come up with the full list. Some of this might be ridiculous stuff, big stuff, or things that only matter to me, but I’m starting to work on this list now. I may keep some private. But, I’ll share periodic updates. What would you add to my list? Have you ever done something like this for a milestone birthday? I’d love to hear all about it!

1. Start camping again.
2. Travel to France or Scotland for my 50th birthday (I mean, I’ll take sooner too).
3. Trip to the NC mountains in the autumn.
4. Trip to upstate New York to meet family & see where my grandparents grew up & my mom lived.
5. Fall in love.
6. Start a family. I hear I’m kind of late on this one. Whatever.
7. Get a book contract.
8. Learn Spanish. Like really learn Spanish.
9. Take a dance class (salsa, ballroom, etc).
10. Go to the Pat Conroy Literary Festival in Beaufort, SC.
11. Attend one of the wine dinners at the Beaufort (NC) Wine & Food Festival.
12. Take at least one random (can be a quick day-trip) road trip every few months.
13. Eat at Chef & the Farmer again.
14. Take a few of Chef Marcela’s cooking classes.
15. Western NC Winery Trip (preferably soon). 30 April-01 May 2021
16. Get back to Wolf Trap for a summer concert.
17. Convert website to business plan & learn (really learn) SEO.
18. Make good use of my ridiculous Pinterest time investment.
19. Get a little better with time management (don’t laugh).
20. Finally make a decision about what I want to be when I grow up.
21. Live in a pretty little home with my dream backyard & grow lots of veggies, herbs, and fruit.
22. Hit my target weight (and stay there). I’m on my way having lost 18 pounds so far.
23. Dedicate more time to painting & crafty mccrafterson activities.
24. Cook my way through Deep Run Roots by Chef Vivian Howard (see #13 – that’s her restaurant).
25. Cook my way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I own both books but haven’t cooked enough in either.
26. Get a tattoo.
27. Go skydiving.
28. Get a wedding planning & event planning certificate.
29. Go to Indochine (Thai/Vietnamese restaurant in Wilmington, NC).
30. Visit Ocracoke Island & go shelling.

Okay, I think I have to take a break there. I am sure I have more things to add to my list!