Comparison

sea glass, ocean, theodore roosevelt, beach,

If you’re anything like me, particularly when you’re in the midst of waiting, the temptation to compare your own journey to that of others is strong. I have been there {and recently}.

I compare myself to other writers, to women with a house full of kids, with that girl that got that one guy {haha}, and so much more. I’m not sure if men have this problem? I know women certainly do.

When I get caught in this trap and let myself marinate and stew in the comparison game, it inevitably ends up with me feeling discouraged and defeated. Am I the only one? Or do you do this, too?

Comparison is the thief of joy.

This quote is such a simple statement – just six words. But packed into these six words is an incredibly important concept. Comparison does steal our joy. Joy is more than just feeling happy. In fact, you can feel joyful and not necessarily be feeling happy and shiny.

A state of happiness or felicity : bliss

A source or cause of delight

The definition of joy includes the two sentences above. But the Oxford dictionary uses another word . . . satisfaction. Comparison steals our satisfaction. Our ability to be content with the gifts we’ve been given and the life we’re living right now, is lost as we continually compare ourselves to others.

The contentment that comes from being satisfied with your life as it is right now, is a gift. It doesn’t mean you stop moving toward that dream. It doesn’t mean you don’t work hard to meet goals. But it does mean that in the day to day, you choose joy while you’re working towards those goals.

As we strive to live out those dreams, let’s agree to find the joy and gifts in each day. Choosing joy, when the thief that is comparison rears its ugly head, is not easy. But it’s the better thing. And it will make our journey to the life we wait for, an awesome ride.

Do you have a favorite quote that helps you refocus and get back on track when you’re struggling? I’d love to hear yours!

Dreaming

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One of the hardest things to face, for me as a childless woman {who doesn’t want to be}, is the longing that is deep down, in the deepest part of me, to be a mother. As life has marched on, over the years, when the desire surfaces, I have had two reactions – sorrow and grief or . . . I stuff it down, far down.

I have always wanted a family. I never imagined that I would turn 40 and still be without that family. For reasons I don’t want to explain fully now, I made choices that brought me here. Except I didn’t realize at the time that’s what I was doing. My career the last six years has been my sole focus. And prior to that, while I can’t say it was my sole focus, it took an inordinate amount of my time.

I made those choices. But I wasn’t actually intentional. I didn’t see then the cause and effect. I threw my life into work because I don’t do anything half-assed. But, I also didn’t feel fulfilled personally so I found fulfillment at work, particularly after a relationship ended. In the wake of that experience, I moved across the country and jumped in to work in a small desert town and made the families I served, mine. But that started a cycle that brought me here. Here. I’m not where I want to be, here. A few months ago, I was filled with an incredible amount of grief because I thought the only way I was going to get to this dream was thwarted.

But as I mentioned last time, I came to a place where I decided it’s time. I decided it was time regardless of my expectation of how it should happen.

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When I made that decision, I let myself daydream a bit for the first time in ages. Recently, I bought some clothes for a couple of kids I know. Standing in that store, making those decisions about what to buy was a tiny reminder of a simple thing parents do all the time. It was a sweet joy. I spent way too much time in that store.

Last fall I had a tiny boy spend some time with me over the course of a couple of days, at work. He was a baby really, but smarter than heck and the most joy-filled kid I’d met in years. He babbled. He scribbled with a pen, on scrap paper at my desk. He tried desperately to play with my keyboard while I answered e-mails. And then he fell asleep in my arms. Do you know what a gift your sleeping kiddo is, mama? What a sweet joy those moments were. So normal and every day.

I have allowed myself to think about moments like those in recent weeks. Those are just two examples of many. I’ve wondered about the first child who will step across the threshold of my home. For the first time ever, I let myself think about how wonderful it would be to have a baby in my house, or a five-year old. Or a big kid who wants a little bit of normal they’ve missed out on for the past ten years of his or her life.

What a sweet joy this has been. I am allowing myself to dream, without the sorrow of lost years, for the first time in ages. It’s a beautiful thing. It won’t be easy. But it is my dream.

Home

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Foster care and adopting a child {or children} from foster care, will not be easy. I’ve never done things the easy way. Not ever.  So I’m game.

There will be moments that are harder than anything I’ve seen before — and I’ve seen some ugly shit. But underneath all the uncertainty and yes, even fear, runs a swiftly moving current of hope.

For the first time in ages, I’ve allowed myself to dream a little of what might be ahead. I’ll get to that later. But today, filling my thoughts have been the stressful moments of where will we go next and can’t I just stay in one place for once?!

When I rented this house, it had two “empty” rooms. But it was still a very small house. When my mom moved to NC, it became clear that this house was not gonna work. As the days have passed without finding a larger house, that fits all of the “wants” and “needs,” I’ve grown frustrated. The list doesn’t fit the “vision” in my head of what home should (don’t should on yourself, as they say) be.

However, comma sometimes we have to let go of the image. What I want is a home. Not a house. I want a safe-haven that is peace-filled in all ways we can control, joy-filled as much as possible, and a place where you are loved unconditionally. Those goals require nothing physical in the structures and furnishings.

These are the intangibles that can be found on the inside of a two-bedroom apartment, a sprawling house in the country, or in a house that sits snug between neighbors on all sides in the city. These are the intangibles that I once thought I could find in a sort of temporary structure in a faraway land. Or in the inner city where I was willing to live in a one-room apartment, the sounds and sights of Skid Row on the streets below.

I have a dream of what this home looks like. There is no doubt about it. But focusing on the people that will fill that home should be foremost in my thoughts over what the structure looks like.

Someday, when I look back at this time, I will see the dream taking shape, not the structure.

Chasing Dreams

Chasing Dreams, Walt Disney, Dreams, Dreaming, Hope

Chasing dreams. I am chasing dreams.

I’ve always been a dreamer. Even as a tiny girl I was dreaming of what could be, might be, or what I hoped would be. The three dreams that have stayed with me, have remained largely unchanged. Time has moved on. My life is nothing like I imagined it would at this point. But these three hang on.

I’m a 39-year-old single woman that has spent recent years working too much. I have been almost entirely focused on everyone, but me. It goes with the job. But, as time has moved forward, I’ve become more aware that what we do {or don’t do} each day builds upon the next. The moments build until one day, we’re looking back at years stacked upon years.

If you’re smart, you figured this out when you were young. If you’re smart, but spent more time focused on a bunch of stuff that doesn’t matter, or lost yourself somewhere along the way {like me}, then you probably have time to make up for.

I’m not very good with New Years resolutions. But for quite a few years now I’ve had a “word” for each year. I pray about the word a little. And somehow, at the start of each new year, a word pops up. This year’s word is “intentional.” It fit. It still fits.

I’ve not been intentional in the sense that I want to be. And now, five years after starting a new career, I see that though I was intentional about work, I failed to see the ways in which the little moments would stack up to years, in my personal life.

My dreams aren’t crazy, pie in the sky kind of dreams. They’re actually pretty simple. This, of course, leads me to wonder how it is that I’m 39, single, without a family, and not consistently writing. While, in a sense, I can’t control all aspects of being single, I do know that I control the factors that keep me tied to my home, afraid to step out, or too tired from work to do so. I do control those factors which lead to fatigue and an over-focus on my career, which means I feel less able to write consistently.

I’ve known that a new phase of life was knocking at my door. Being intentional with my time, dreams, and ultimately my calling is part of that new phase. Though I’ve been blogging since 2004, I knew the old blogging space needed a change, too. So here I am. Chasing Dreams. 

For a girl with a thirsty heart, messy, wild hair, big dreams, hope and never ending passion, it’s not always evident in my own life. I’m certain I’m not alone in that. In fact, I know that’s a common theme for many that are successful in their careers, yet unfulfilled.

So here’s to the start of a new journey. I hope if you saw yourself in any of this post, you’ll join me!

~ Elaina