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.

Hitting the Reset Button: Choosing my “Word” for 2021

elaina avalos, live well be well, oneword365, hope

There’s always a spark of hope at the end of each year, as I think about what could be around the corner. That has been true for me every year – except in 2019 – funny enough. At the end of each year, as I dream about a New Year, instead of resolutions I don’t keep, I’ve instead chosen a word for my year. No matter what, by December as I get ready to choose a new word, I see the old word woven throughout my experiences – even if I didn’t initially. For instance, in 2014, my word was intentional. I was anything but intentional that year. Which turned out to be the lesson – on how to be intentional {haha} going forward.

2019 was a year filled with grief and loss. I ended the year on an equally frustrating and challenging note and was fearful about what 2020 would hold. Funny that I went into 2020 fearful and worried about what was around the corner. 2020 didn’t relent. It was hard in different ways than 2019 – nonetheless, still tiring. For a bit of background on just a couple of my struggles – from November 2019 until recently, I applied for jobs in multiple states and in more urban settings here in North Carolina. While I had a few interview opportunities, nothing panned out. Instead, I remained in the same job I’ve had since 2010, though in a different location. For anyone who knows me, I’ve felt ready to not be in that job for quite some time. I’ve sought new opportunities and a new path – a new dream and adventure, for far longer than I care to admit.

I also moved to a small apartment that I struggle with – since my previous landlords sold the house I rented. After a devastating hurricane {Florence} here in coastal NC, the housing market didn’t recover for quite awhile – and now people are selling like crazy {not renting out their homes – which is common in a military town}. I’m not in a position to buy – nor do I think I want to buy in my current city. Gosh, that’s all depressing. In other news, my word for 2020 was wellness – for a reason {see all the previously discussed depressing stuff}. This word will stick with me for a long time. My understanding of the depth of this word has transformed many aspects of my life. Or at least has begun to, as I figure out what it truly means to be well and live well. Wellness was the right word for 2020. And after this wild year, I’m even more convinced that wellness is absolutely an inside job.

As I gear up for 2021, a pattern is repeating over and over again as I’ve thought, prayed, and dreamt about the road ahead. I want to hope. I want to have faith that what’s around the corner is exactly what it needs to be. I want to believe that some of my hopes will no longer be deferred. I want to have faith that God is working everything out. After this year, in which so many have struggled, I know people are making jokes about not making wild declarations about 2021 {like this meme} . . .

We’ve collectively lived through {or should I say are living through} the pandemic killing so many needlessly, political upheaval in the U.S., racial injustice {and protests and more violence}, the loss of cultural icons, the crazy weird things that have happened, food and product shortages, massive economic turmoil, and well – I could go on of course. It’s hard to even imagine what hope looks like in 2021. And for me, who questions why a good God allows so much suffering, my faith has more questions than answers, too. I think that’s true for many. I personally feel it’s doubly hard, because 2019 was so very painful.

Which brings me to 2021. I’m hitting the reset button. For the first time, I’ve got two words: hope & faith. My words for 2021 are repeats. Faith was a 2009 or 2010 word. Hope was a little more recently. I feel a bit like hope and faith are butterflies in a cocoon. They’re longing to break out of the chrysalis. I am too. While I am not going to make a big long list of what I plan to accomplish in 2021 and I can’t even imagine what tomorrow will be like, let alone six months from now – I do know that hope & faith are working their way back out.

I don’t know what 2021 holds for me or our crazy world, but I’m clinging to hope & faith.

Are you a New Years resolution person? Or do you pick a word?

Wellness – OneWord 365 Update

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Every year I choose one word for my year {versus resolutions}. This year’s word took forever to decide on, but once I did, it became very clear it was the word.

But then we all know what a nose dive 2020 took. Straight into the crapper. Between a global pandemic, working from home and feeling quite isolated from the outside world, I’m not sure wellness took on much more of a form than just being.

As I’ve returned to work, the wellness thing has become a real fight. 

Ten years ago, when I started on a new career path within my Marine Corps career, so much changed for me. My thriving blog, writing, and my normal self-care routines went out the window.

I’m a “give everything I’ve got” kind of person. And I did. But then there wasn’t anything left for me. When I left my Marine Corps career behind last fall, I did so to enter into the career field I’d been dreaming of for so long.

That’s another story for another post. But now here I am. Back to where I started and where I veered way {I mean way} off the path I wanted to be on.

Wellness – as I’ve discovered – is not just about your physical health. That’s always how I viewed it in the past. It’s about the totality of your life. It’s everything.

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As I look back at the last six months & look forward to remaining months of 2020, I do hope the year is better for all of us {Can I get an amen?}. But I also know what I won’t allow, what I need to do more of, and want to focus on in the second half of 2020.

This year has been rough for so many. If you’ve felt it, what are you doing for you, right now? What are you doing to soften the harshness of the financial challenges, social isolation, and health threat of a global pandemic? If you’re deeply concerned about racism in America and feel weighed down with uncertainty about how to become an anti-racist – what are you doing in these heavy times to stay focused on wellness, so you can live well enough to fight on another day?

This year has been a slog. If you’re feeling it, you’re normal. We all feel it in our own ways. But let’s not write the rest of year off. We can make individual changes in our own lives – right in front of us – so 2020 ends as a year of hope and change.

Here are a few things I’ve done lately for my own wellness:

  • I’m going to therapy
  • I have painted {and have a few more canvases to go}
  • I joined a book club
  • I am making a vision board & dreaming about the business I’ve dreamed of for so long {except instead of working for someone else, I want to start my own business}
  • I’m not beating myself up for the spare bedroom filled with unpacked boxes {haha}

But I’ve got some work to do, too. Here are some of the areas I’m working on:

  • Eating a mostly paleo-type diet
  • I NEED TO DO YOGA EVERY DANG DAY
  • Walking a few times a week
  • Not letting work invade my head space & follow me home
  • Writing
  • Making actionable plans for starting my business

Don’t let 2020 make you its b$%$#. Now is the perfect time to make the rest of the year, better.

Be well,

mylivesig1

New Year. Not New You?


“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – Matthew 11:28-30 The Message (MSG)

It’s that time of year. You know . . . the time of year that causes you to think about all you didn’t do the past eleven months. You may contemplating the new you, for the New Year, right this very minute.

A Washington Post, article from January 1st 2018, stated that 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. But how many more of us don’t formalize resolutions but make inner promises to be better, to do better, or to try harder?

This is the year I’ll go back to church. This is the year I’ll finish my degree. I’m going to work out and lose weight. I’m going to drink less and eat better.

May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.

I think the number who don’t finalize resolutions, but still long for change, is quite high. There are many of us out there who silently long to change those things about our character, appearance, or circumstances that we wish were different.

But when the newness of the year wears off, where do we stand with all of those things we wanted to change about our lives? If you’re anything like I used to be, I found myself defeated, frustrated, and overwhelmed when I couldn’t keep up with my own demands {on myself!}.

How exactly does one go about making changes that are lasting and significant?

The article mentioned above has a couple of good tips – like “piggybacking” your goals or resolutions to something you really love. The example was to tie going to the gym to your Game of Thrones binge watching {i.e., only watch Game of Thrones while working out}. There’s some validity there.

Perhaps that might make those new goals stick around longer – if you had a tangible way to tie the “exercise” of working on your new goal, to something you already love.

Be stubborn about your goals, but flexible about your methods.

But, I found another way quite a few years ago now. When I really examined what my year had been like and where I had “failed” to meet my own standard, there was a common thread woven throughout my failures. There was also something in common with my successes.

Nine times out of ten – it was ONE single thing that kept me going to find success. And still other times, it was ONE single thing that kept me from meeting my goals.

Which brings me to how I started transforming my life, my goals, and chasing dreams. One word. That’s it. Not a list of resolutions that I’d never keep – a word.

It came about in a weird set of circumstances – this one word thing. All at once I felt this discomfort with my resolutions and thought I need to focus in. I heard about people using a word to live by in the new year. I liked the idea! Shortly thereafter, I heard from an online writer friend that used one word, too. The rest is history – it has been at least 10 years that this one word thing has touched my life in a profound way.

Friends – these words over the years have absolutely been right on. I may sketch out things I’d like to see happen in my life in the coming year. But what remains the theme throughout is always, always, always tied to this word. It’s in the living out and practicing of the word, I find myself meeting some of those standards I’d sketched out at the beginning of the year.

I find ways to act – ensuring my word is a verb. Other times, I find myself forced to live out the word because of circumstances beyond my control. Still other times, God shows me, much to my chagrin, when I’m not meeting the intent of the word.

This year, my word was fearless. In 2017 it was hope. There were never two more perfect words for the last couple of years. I have the evidence to prove it. This year, I did live fearlessly in all the ways it counts. I was fearful – but I pressed forward. And that’s what this is all about.

Resolutions stifle me. They hold me back and hold me down because I can’t meet the list of standards. But one word? It has changed me – every year, for the better. Even the year that I failed at being intentional – until December – when I learned a hard lesson through my lack of intention. But dude . . . did that word ever change me!

Guess what? I’m more intentional about everything now – including my one word for each year.

So here I am . . . in the final day of 2018 with a new word already being tested. My word is rest. I fail at rest. I fail at it in the deepest sense of the word.

OneWord365, OneWord, Rest, Abide, Faith, Elaina Avalos, Elaina M. Avalos, Chasing Dreams

Even now, I feel the pressure, strain, and tension beating at the door. But it is clear that rest is the word for 2019. Choosing a word over a list of resolutions isn’t easier. But it is easier to manage bite-size pieces of life – particularly when it’s areas of your life you want to change.

Rest. This might be my hardest word, yet.

So how about you, friends? Are you a resolution person? Or are you open to trying one word? I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you want to try the one word experience, check out, this website where you can register your word and find others with the same one.