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 SoirĂ©e & 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 . . .

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!

Dreaming About What Comes Next

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The cat is out of the bag. I don’t need to hide it anymore. My employer knows that later this summer, I will begin moving on to the next phase of my life. While I actually wanted to do it sooner, I let some things get in the way and then it seemed to be too challenging to find what I wanted. As such, my plan is to aim for summer with the expectation that the economy will continue to get better and opportunities in the field I’d like to move into, expand. I’m dreaming about what comes next.

But whatever happens, I think I finally feel the freedom and the ability to dream again. I am ready to hope again – about what might be possible in the future. After a couple of painful years, I had to get to know myself again. And while the delay has frustrated me – to the point I have been just freaking angry at God, I think I get it all now. Or at least part of it.

Last summer, I started working toward some things and then let those fizzle. But as I prepare for my 45th birthday, I know what I want. I know the type of life I want, the dream I have, the career I’d like, and yes, even the type of relationship I want. I know what I want. It’s not just that I want these things, I think they’re part of what I should be doing with life now. Not pursuing those things I’m meant to, just isn’t going to work for me any longer.

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https://www.pinterest.com/elainaavalos/vision-board/

The thing is, I’ve got things to do and a lot life to live. This afternoon, as I think about what lies ahead, as I enter my 45th year, I’m thankful I’m ready to dream again. I’m thankful I can hope again. And I know that what’s meant to be mine, will be mine.

Inspiration and Vision Boards

Between my temporary role opening an event venue, past events I’ve planned, recipes, decorating inspiration, novel inspiration, and about a million other things, I adore Pinterest. I use it all of the time and sometimes like a search engine – especially when searching for something related to events or novel writing. I used to do this very thing when I was a kid, using my favorite magazines to collect vision boards and design inspiration. I only have one scrapbook of images left. If you can believe this – it’s from Victoria Magazine and is largely event, entertaining, and wedding inspiration. Now instead of magazines, I use Pinterest for my inspiration and vision boards.

Do you use Pinterest? I’d love to follow you there. Share a link to your profile (or follow me and I will follow back).