Cliché

Comparison is the thief of joy.

I have heard that saying often enough that my brain now discounts it as a cliché – a well-worn statement that has, for all its truth, lost its power to make me think other than to maybe nod my head or, if I’m feeling particularly snarky, roll my eyes.

Now, I can’t speak for everyone but two of my greatest struggles are comparison and insecurity. Sure, sure. Those who know me minimally might say, “What? You seem so confident!” And while most of the time I am happy and confident there is that creeping part of me that can ruin my life if I let it. That little bit of me can run absolutely rampant, especially when spending any amount of time on social media. And certain, very unflattering truths about me and the state of my heart come leaking out.

Is she prettier than me? No, no. Of course she isn’t. Well, maybe . . .

Do I look fat in that picture?

Why is that picture getting more likes than mine?

Why doesn’t everyone say encouraging things to me like they always do to her? They must like her better.

And the toxicity goes on until I have this icky twisted knot in the pit of my stomach.

Can anyone relate? Yes? No? If not, I still think you may find a little gem in the rest of this post.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

 Now that I’ve stated that three times, let me elaborate.

While I’m sitting at home scrolling on my phone and looking at the wonderful glimpses of everyone else’s life and feeling left out, let down or less than I’m missing two very important things.

First of all, if I bothered to look around every once in a while I would see quite a few really lovely things that would distract me from someone else’s life long enough to smile at what I’ve been given. Like a hot dark-eyed guy who loves me, parents who are literally fabulous, pictures of the places I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to, extended family who fills our fridge with soup and pot pies when we’re sick, and in the mirror I’d see the reflection of a short girl with sometimes brown, sometimes blonde hair who has been told her whole life that she’s beautiful by anyone who means anything to her.

Secondly, I’m missing an opportunity to feel joy for other people. And joy is often in short supply in this world, so I’m going to work on not mucking up any more of these opportunities with the comparison game. Because insecurity, jealously and comparison really don’t have any room to grow with joy and contentment. Joy and contentment are too big, too filling to leave a lot of room for much else.

And so, while I’ve never had a serious new year resolution aside from learning how to wink (still a work in progress, three years later) this is my resolution, no my creed, heading into 2018.

Contentment is the protector of joy.

Any thoughts, actions or words that begin with comparison and end with insecurity I’m going to work really hard to turn away from. Heaven knows I’ve been given enough good, affirming words to combat them with, and enough blessings in my life to be thankful for instead of griping over the fact that someone’s picture got more likes than mine. It’ll be a change, because so often I’ve reached for the ugly thoughts, the lies and half-truths about myself that are somehow easier to believe than anything true, kind or good.

But I’m curious to see what my life will look like when I stop looking for myself in everyone else and just see them. I’m curious to see what my life will look like when I stop looking for what I don’t possess and habitually start seeing what is true of me. I’m curious to see what will happen when instead of reaching for a lie, I hug tightly to the truth. I wonder what my life will be when I don’t chase the rabbit of insecurity down the rabbit hole into Comparison Land. What will happen? I’m curious to see.

I’m hoping it won’t hold true with the old cliché “curiosity killed the cat.” But I am hoping my curiosity will kill comparison. And I’ll learn to live happily ever after with the happily’s I’ve been given. And know that the grass isn’t always greener . . .

Happy New Year, everyone 🙂

A Story of Variables that Lined Up Quite Perfectly (a really obnoxious way to say how we met)

We were born seven months apart.

Two miracle babies. I say that because he was never supposed to be born at all, and I was dead (for a little while at least).

We existed in worlds that brushed each other, but never fully melded, finding out odd mutual acquaintances and childhood haunts that were the same. Our stories are different. He was a rebellious rabble rouser, breaking and making his own rules. I was the reserved, quite often serious bookworm— the kind of girl whose parents’ worst thought of punishment for me was threatening to take my books away.

He knew loss and betrayal early. I learned hard things a little later.

He turned his life in a different direction when he was 17, choosing to walk away from things that a lot of people run to. He made hard choices on faith, going from New Hampshire to Texas and back again, a path of decisions that eventually put him outside of my hotel on April 26, 2016.

I worked hard to graduate a year early from college, a decision that would lead to other decisions that would collectively work together to place me directly in his path two years later. And if I’d been hired for that fabulous job the first time I applied, we would have missed each other completely.

But I was hired for that fancy corporate job the second time around, several months later, and that landed me in Boston for a business conference on the exact (and only) week he had off from driving UPS and was picking up passengers for a shiny black car service during daylight hours.

I still have the voicemail saying, “Ms. Diaz this is X Limousine Company calling to confirm your 4 PM pick up at 101 Harborside Drive . . . “

            Only he was there exactly 10 minutes early, which prompted a text message: Hi this is your driver Kevin with X Limousine Company, I’m early but right outside whenever you’re ready. No rush.

            Ok! Be right there!

            I walked outside to see a tall, handsome young guy standing beside a shiny black car and immediately my face turned red. He was cute. So obviously I couldn’t look at him properly. He took my bag and I slid into the backseat before he could do his job and open the door for me.

Classical music was playing on the radio, which was, of course, perfect for reading. I pulled out my book, ready to read and ignore the lame attempts of polite, please-give-me-a-good-tip conversation.

But I was tired. Fried from talking and presenting so frequently during the conference. And those who know me, my words flow more freely when I’m feeling tired. And silly. He laughed. Not at me (I think). But he genuinely thought I was funny. Eventually, I gave up and put my book away altogether and kept talking. And he did too.

It wasn’t awkward, stilted stranger conversation. It was the kind of conversation that reminds you why it’s a good thing to talk to people you don’t know. The immediate and rich connection that so rare to have, but when you do it’s fun and amazing. And you wonder why all conversations couldn’t be like this, because if they were you’d definitely commit to being more friendly.

We got stuck in traffic, as predicted for coming out of Boston at 4 PM on a weekday. And it definitely helped that I didn’t have to look at him. It was very safe conversing with a handsome stranger when he couldn’t see my face, when the only parts of him I could see were the back of his neck and the strong hands that gripped the steering wheel steadily.

“How old are you?” I felt prompted to ask.

“23,” he answered, and paused before shooting the question right back at me. Once it was established that he was safely within the realm of being a little older than me, our conversation continued.

And then somehow, we got to talking deep. Religion, beliefs, faith.

What were the odds, that this handsome, funny, easy for introverted-tired-me to talk to was also someone who shared the same values and faith as I did?

And then the biggest surprise of them all. He liked classical music. A 23-year-old male liked classical music.

All bets were off.

By the time we pulled into my driveway I felt slightly strange, I knew something important was happening and I was praying like crazy that my sometimes awkward, shy, exhausted brain wouldn’t somehow mess it up. I climbed out of the car, my hands shaking, and tried to play it cool while he grabbed my bag from the trunk, brought it over to me and leaned all cool and calm against the shiny black car in his fancy limo driver getup.

And then he asked me out in the smoothest way I’d ever been asked out.

Granted this hadn’t happened that often, I was pretty purposefully standoffish all through high school and college when it came to guys, thinking it was far more important to do things than it was to have a boyfriend. And here I was, 22, a successful and independent college graduate and world traveler, feeling like I was fifteen all over again, hoping the cute guy would notice me. Only this time he had noticed me.

And I couldn’t look at him. I remember. My eyes couldn’t go any higher than the collar of his shirt.

Before we’d pulled in, I mentioned the Boston Ballet as a great place to go and listen to live, beautiful classical music (you can never go wrong with Tchaikovsky).

So he said, “So, would you want to go see the ballet sometime?”

I managed a complete sentence, “If you buy the tickets, I’ll go with you.”

Still couldn’t look at him. Although, I succeeded in remembering to hand him his tip, and walk without stumbling to the front door.

I immediately called my best friend and told her the whole thing.

To which she said, “Oh my gosh, B. He sounds like husband material.”

I had no response. I thought it unlikely that anything would actually happen. But it was a cool story either way.

Two weeks went by.

I realized that he might not actually think I meant what I said, because, well, I hadn’t made eye contact with him. And I’m pretty certain I sounded like I was about to pass out. So, I shot him a text. (Remember, I wouldn’t have been able to do that without him being early to pick me up—perfectly lined up variables).

Hey Kevin, I was thinking coffee would be just as good as a ballet. No pressure, either way it was nice to meet you!

He responded (eventually).

We talked back and forth for a month before we went on a date. And I was panicking the night of our first date. I had absolutely no memory of what this guy looked like. I remembered thinking he was cute but beyond that and knowing I really enjoyed talking to him . . . that’s all I had.

I remember thinking, while waiting for him to show up, Gosh, I hope he’s not actually ugly.

Good news— he wasn’t.

2017 Mr. Marriott Visit

*photo credit goes to All Digital Photography

Little Me

Do you ever wonder if your little self would be proud of what you’ve done? Wonder if the tiny, energetic ball of light would be excited to listen to grown-up you tell stories of your life?

I do.

I thought about and still think about that all the time. Would little me be disappointed with how I turned out? Now, you have to understand where I’m coming from. I was the girl who wanted to be Peter Pan when I grew up. Yes. Peter Pan. The boy who never grows up. So you see?

If I couldn’t become the boy who had endless adventures I would have to do something that wouldn’t completely pale in comparison.

I can’t say that there have been many times in my life where I’ve looked around, sighed and simply smiled. But I had one of those moments just the other day.

I was in my room, which is a chaotic whirl of color that most normal people would find overwhelming but to me, with my monkeys-escaped-from-the-zoo-brain the never matching tapestries, pictures and pillows are somehow soothing. I’ve changed quite a few things, but the back of my door has remained untouched by time and growing up. Now, my parents are endlessly cool people – that coolness extended to letting me, in all my creative glory, draw all over the back of my door, which resulted in a work of art consisting of random drawings, scattered paintings, book titles written in bold permanent marker with a dash of left over pink hair dye I thought would be cool to spray over it all as a finishing touch. It’s colorful, random, and yet, somehow, cohesive. It’s me, my brain and my dreamer heart portrayed on the back of a door.

I was looking at this when it hit me. I’m completely happy with my life.

I’ve finished school, read amazing stories, found beautiful friends, published a book and traveled the world (with more yet to go). I have had adventures. I’ve done all of the things I dreamed about doing when I was a little girl (except get married, but that’s on the hit list 😉 )

It’s a rare thing, to look around at what you’ve been blessed with, and what you’ve built and realize, hey, maybe I’m not doing so badly after all.

At the very least, little me wouldn’t be bored listening to grown-up me tell stories of my life.

Not yet, anyway.

The Stranger Maiden: A Glimpse Inside the Story

It all begins with a locket.

A peculiar yet beautiful thing Darcie found one day in the woods. Growing up in a small town, finding the locket at the base of a hidden well seemed to be the most unusual thing to ever happen to Darcie. However, her last summer before college that changes: two handsome strangers appear, looking for her. Suddenly, Darcie’s quiet life in a small town gets most unexpectedly shaken up . . . teenage boys turn up in nothing but their underwear claiming to have had their clothes (of all things) stolen, strange men lurking around town, ending up dead . . .

Soon, Darcie is confronted with the adventure of a life-time – transported from a world of safety and familiarity, into one wrought with danger: Terrlyn. Though a stranger to Terrlyn, Darcie finds that she belongs for more than one reason. Bewildered, she navigates this wild land of magic, filled with creatures and sights she only ever dreamed about, and a destiny for herself she would never have chosen. With the aid of a handsome warrior and a mysterious magician, Darcie must overcome fear and disbelief to fulfill a prophecy that holds the last hope for the people of Terrlyn.

Available on Amazon & Barnes and Noble