Don’t Should On Yourself

I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve wanted to – but it hasn’t been there. The words are jumbled in my head. I couldn’t quite get them to flow to my fingertips. There have been some tough things going on. If I didn’t work where I work, I might share. Maybe they’ll appear in a book someday (people who have been mean to me should watch out – haha). I haven’t been able to work on the novels, either. Last weekend, I got a stack of books at the library on our local military installation. I came home and read non-stop (except to sleep) the rest of Saturday and all day Sunday. It was glorious. I read more this week than I have in ages (after work). I come home and climb into bed to read. The TV hasn’t been on much. It has been restful in that sense.

The energy to work on the novels has been missing. The inspiration feels a little lost in the challenges of the day to day. In other news, my muse is being a real $%&* and doesn’t feel like coming out to play. But one thing I’ve learned lately is to accept what is in the moment. There’s so much freedom in that. I don’t feel much desire to coax it out of me. I’m dealing with a bunch of stuff I’d rather not. Why beat myself up if I don’t feel it right now?

That said, I’m making an attempt this evening, whilst making a cake and potato salad (haha), to do a little reading in my manuscript, with the hopes I can get the juices flowing again. But I will say that if it doesn’t happen, I’m not putting many “shoulds” on me going forward.

So I guess that’s what this little post is about – don’t should on yourself. There’s so much pressure around us to be and do things that others think we should do and be. We do it to ourselves, too. I can’t do that anymore. The pressure I’ve placed on myself is not pressure that needed to be placed on me.

So tonight, if I end up climbing in bed to read more of Beach Music, that’s the way it goes. A lot has happened. I don’t know what the future holds. I mean, I know what I want. What will actually be? No clue. I have carried more than I needed to. I’m certain others can relate. So I’m sharing here to encourage you to do the same – don’t should on yourself.

As for the song, I’m all over the place right now – uncertain about the future, missing what’s missing, and a little confused. But I have a high hope. Things don’t make sense now. But I’m certain they will. So while I’m waiting for the picture to be more clear, I’ll keep hoping and praying for what I’ve waited for, for so long.

“Know you’re coming from a bad place
Honey, I was there just yesterday
So I know the time it’s gonna take
For you to feel like you again

Wonder if you’re seeing colours yet
And if your spirit needs a tourniquet
‘Cause if it does I can hold you tight enough
Help you forget ’em for a minute, love
I know you got a heart of gold
You wear it like an olden rose

I’ve got a high, high, high, high hope
We can climb this burning rope
And I’ll be here if you need me
If you don’t, just know
I’ve got a high, high, high, high hope”

Grief, Finality, Joy, and Gardenias

kristen-macadams-M0jnYTeqTVg-unsplash, elaina avalos, elaina m. avalos, grief, letting go and holding on

As an artistic person and a writer that is emotional and often taken by romantic ideals and inspiration in odd places, I used to have this joy that would take hold of me at so many lovely moments in life. It was like this deeply flowing joy that bubbled up to the surface. Life wasn’t always what I expected (that’s for sure), but I could take a hike in the Croatan national forest, along the Neuse river, and be overwhelmed by inexplainable peace and joy. It could be the scent of the pine forest or the way the knobby tree roots were exposed in the sand and water. Or the way my dog would run with such abandon – happy as a clam. I don’t need a lot. I’m a lover of a truly simple life. I absolutely can be happy with the littlest of things in life. I chose joy. I chose joy more often than I didn’t.

The last couple of years have sapped so much of this from me. Yesterday seemed to be the finality I’ve been waiting for. But it was finality without closure if that makes sense. And in that finality, the grief of these two years overwhelmed me. Yesterday and long into the overnight hours, I was overcome. I haven’t recovered today. I woke up feeling hungover – with a headache and swollen eyes. It wasn’t a hangover at all. Except with the losses and finality of it all.

There are two random gardenia bushes in the breezeway near my apartment. It’s random because I’m not sure they’re anywhere else in the apartment complex. They’re in bloom right now. Gardenias are special to me. I adore them for their beauty and scent. But more than that, my grandparents used to grow them. And every time I would leave my grandparent’s house, my Grandpa Avalos would pick gardenias, roses, and other lovely flowers, for a tiny bouquet for me. He often made one for my mom too – though my parents had long been divorced by then. It was one of the things that was so sweet and special about him. This afternoon, as I walked the dog, a gust of wind blew through the breezeway. It filled the air with the scent of the gardenias. It was magical. But I still didn’t fully connect with the joy – with all of the emotion I would have – prior to these past two years. It made me sad. But the more I thought on this, the more convinced I became that it was a sign – straight out of heaven – that I may not be there yet, but I will get back to that place again.

It gave me a little push – a little reminder of what I’m fighting so hard for. I’m fighting hard for the life I’ve prayed for, for so very long. I’m fighting hard to get back to the me that would have been giddy with joy as the gardenia’s rich perfume overwhelmed me. So while I’m not there, even in the pain, I am getting there. Because now I remember what I’m fighting for.

Hearts Don’t Break Around Here

you keep me safe i'll keep you wild, elaina avalos, elaina m. avalos,

It’s a song – Hearts Don’t Break Around Here. Because hearts certainly do break around here. I’m an Ed Sheeran fan in general. But somehow, I missed this song when it came out a few years ago. I heard it the first time, not all that long ago, on a Spotify generated playlist (Acoustic Love). For me, as a writer girl who writes about love, relationships, and families – I tend to lean toward listening to love songs when I write.

But I digress . . . the song is very sweet. But when I hear it lately, I find myself getting a little sad. Hearts don’t break around here – oh how I wish I could find that one – who shows me my heart is safe. In the last verse of the song, he sings:

“I feel safe when you’re holding me near
Love the way that you conquer your fear
You know hearts don’t break around here”

Safe. I am not sure when I’ll feel safe again. But it’s funny how something you didn’t know you needed, can become your greatest longing. I long to feel safe. I mean, my apartment is safe. I’m not currently facing a physical threat in my home – although I’ve known what that was like. But in matters of the heart, I’m longing for that safety. Before I get to the important stuff – here’s a disclaimer: I am realistic about love and relationships. I know they take work. And I know you can experience hurt within even the healthiest relationships. I mean, duh. You can even see it come up in my writing, like here and here.

This is a different kind of safety. Trust runs underneath it – as its very foundation. And from where I stand now, I don’t know if I’m capable of trust anymore. Isn’t that a horrible thing to say? I write about love and family. I was still hopeful until recently that I’d find my true companion – the one I’d grow cranky and old with. But, I question how I’ll ever trust. And if I can’t trust, I’ll never feel safe. Hearts don’t break around here – that’s what I want to see it in action. Don’t you?

But will I? I recently came to terms (sort of) that I may never get to parent in the way I had always envisioned for my life. Maybe it’s time to come to terms that I’ll never find that love – the one. The one that I can fully trust my heart with – the one that will live this wild life with me. The hurt I feel now – this heartbreak – tells me I’m capable of caring again. I certainly wondered if I was capable of that when I tried to pick up the pieces of my broken heart and life in August of 2019. So that’s something, eh?

You keep me safe. I’ll keep you wild. Those are two sentences I read somewhere once – no clue who said it or why. But I know why it resonates with me. I took the photo above, when I lived along the Neuse River. The Neuse is brackish – a healthy mix of salt and fresh water. It’s not unusual to see dolphin swimming in the river. And after major storms, when the wind blows the water in weird directions, it’s normal to find jelly fish and blue crabs stranded on the sand bars. I used to leave my stressful, (but fulfilling at the time) job, and drive home to this view. While I would sit on the deck in the evening, with a glass of wine, I spent a lot of time writing about the kind of life I have always wanted and what I hoped could still be mine. Below is the original photo I took (that I made into the image above), looking out toward Minnesott Beach. The steps down to what was once a small private beach (long since gone thanks to wild NC storms), are just barely visible. The second & third photo were pretty much my nightly routine, as I enjoyed the sultry Carolina summer air, blowing off the river, in the evenings.

I’ve had a crazy, good, weird life. I’m grateful for every second of this adventure. How many people my age get to live in a gorgeous home along a river (more than once), or in a fun downtown condo – with a view of the same river (just up the highway a bit)? When I lived in that cute downtown, I walked across the street on Friday evenings for wine tastings. And with my downtown buddies, we would walk to dinner – and then walk to our favorite bar sometimes. In all of the years of these little adventures, I was filled with terribly ridiculous joy. It’s the kind of joy that is unflinching in the face of challenges. I was happy. But even when I wasn’t, the joy hung around every corner of my life.

I have been blessed. I used to believe that this life I’ve lived – that has been full, beautiful, and filled with great opportunities – was ensuring that when the one finally did walk into my life, our life together would be that much richer because I hadn’t been afraid to live fully before him.

I was pretty sure I knew who he was too. I mean, not the exact person, but you know – the type. There have been some imposters that have come & gone. Usually, when they head out of my life, I have a “well, that was interesting – moving on now” kind of feeling. Hahaha. That’s probably why I’m still friends with guys I’ve dated. I guess I just know when it’s time to move on or not right, so there’s no need for drama. But maybe that’s mostly because my heart hasn’t been tied up in most of these gents. Not really. They also didn’t look like the one. The intellectual compatibility was missing. Or the spiritual. Or maybe that was there, but the physical compatibility was just . . . not. I know who he is. I know they type of man he is. So when it’s not right, it’s not right. But this is different. And I don’t know if I have it in me to open my heart to the possibility again.

Maybe this too is not for me. Parenting totally is for me. I am (was) and awesome mom. I was made for it. I’m also awesome at relationships (lol) and loving well. I’m loyal, loving, and don’t give up easily. I’m patient. And I’m a damn good time. Haha. But, it comes to a point where you just don’t know if you have it in you anymore. And that’s me, friends. I don’t know if I have it in my anymore. Oh how I wish I didn’t feel that way.

From 2010-2012, I lived in a literal desert. That place was weird and wonderful. I love many aspects about desert life. My life was rich when I lived in the desert too. While I missed green and trees and rain and the ocean, I was happy
there too. But I’m in a different kind of desert now. I’m stranded in a town that lacks for jobs, housing opportunities, and is home to the most pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. I’m in a desert. And in this dry and barren spiritual place, I know two things – I want me back. And it’s time to see what a life with different dreams looks like if the two I always thought I was meant for, aren’t going to happen.

The funny thing is, my “words” for 2021 are hope & faith. I’m sure all of this seems to lack both. But truthfully, maybe the best possible place to be is at a place where all of your plans and dreams are stripped clean from your very heart so the true beauty of the life waiting for me, can make its way to the surface?

Reader friends – heart stuff is hard. So is vulnerability. But you can’t get anywhere without facing it head on. So here I go.

And to the one who has my heart, if you could give it back, since you’re not using it (haha), that would be rad.


Mother’s Day & Being Childless

elaina avalos, elaina m. avalos, st. augustine, faith

If you’d asked me when I was a kid, what I wanted to do with my life, it would have sounded a lot like this: I want to be a mom. It’s pretty simple, really. I’m a mom. But I’m childless. I’ve spent so many years living with this hope that a family was just around the corner. But, I actually made that more difficult than it needed to be, by staying in the career I’ve had. I made a series of choices that led to other choices that became years and then more years. And here I am – 45 and without a family.

This always weighs heavily on me as we celebrate Mother’s Day. But, maybe for the first time ever, I’m beginning to see or at least try to accept – alternate versions and visions of my life and future. My life has never been normal. Not ever. So why would this? I don’t know what will happen or what it will look like, but I do know that I’m unwilling to hold back from pursuing possibilities. Maybe I won’t have children or adopt. Maybe I’ll be a stepmom. Maybe I will adopt? I don’t know anything, anymore – to be honest.

One thing I know for sure, however, is that we waste precious time putting things off for some day. When we do this, we are taking tremendous risks with those things we may be meant to do or pursue. Additionally, while I have always struggled with Mother’s Day & being childless, focusing on the struggle is harmful to my well-being. I think a lot of us do that because the struggle becomes more prominent. It’s in our face – constantly reminding us of what hasn’t been done, accomplished, etc. But if you’re anything like me – ruminating on the thing that isn’t – tends to contribute to a stuck in the mire mindset.

I’ve made a promise to myself that I’ll go hard after those things I still have left to accomplish in my life. In the process, I may discover that my story still looks different than what I originally saw for my life. But even so, if I’m fighting hard to take small steps of faith along the way, I’ll know it when I see it. For anyone reading who feels similarly, I hope you will press forward and focus on what’s ahead versus what’s missing – particularly if you, like me, are longing for a family. If you’re a person of faith, I hope you will take small steps in faith, even when it’s hard, knowing that living a life of faith always brings rewards.

Get to the Good Part

I haven’t shared a lot about my faith on this site or anywhere, in a long time. Mostly because I didn’t want to sound preachy when I’m not really some paragon of faith. I’m still figuring it out. But I watched this sermon earlier {While cleaning the kitchen by the way. I like this online church deal.} and I felt really compelled to share.

One of my favorite dudes in the Bible, even though his story is also super annoying {because God just does whatever He wants – against what we think should happen}, is that of Joseph. This guy. Man, did he ever go through some crap. Unlike other well-known stories, Joseph didn’t make tons of bad choices. Moses did stuff he shouldn’t have done. So did Jacob. Jonah literally ran away from what God told him to do. I could go down a long list. Joseph, as a teenager, immaturely told his brothers about his prophetic dream {that they would one day bow down to him}. Now, that was a pretty big problem for them (haha) and they literally sold him into slavery because of how they viewed this. But he was a dumb kid. He was immature. But unlike David, he didn’t murder the husband of his mistress. I mean, Joseph kind of suffered for more than two decades from an immature decision. But the truth is, it was all part of this huge plan. We want to get to the good part. And we usually don’t like the wait. We definitely don’t like going through dark, bad things to get to the good part.

Joseph’s story was dark. He was accused of rape, wrongly imprisoned, ignored by men he helped save and wasn’t paid back for his excellent work ethic and service. He was left to rot in a prison for heaven’s sake. But at the end of the day, the good part was coming. It just took way longer than what we think it should have been. Ultimately, it took two decades before his dream became a reality. When it did, it saved his family and he lived a long, prosperous life with children and grandchildren, after that.

I have been following some of Steven Furtick’s sermons {Elevation Church}, recently. There’s been a common theme for me in what he’s been teaching – that also fits into other things I seem to reading and seeing come across my path. I think God is trying to tell me something. Today’s message was good and as I mentioned above, I felt compelled to share. If you are going through a dark time – particularly if you are delayed in seeing those good things coming your way, consider watching. My words for the year are hope & faith. This was a little reminder not to give up – to press forward with hope and faith. The good part is coming.