Finally a Writer!

Finally a Writer!

Have you ever taken a Myers-Briggs personality test? It’s amazing. Once you figure out your type, you can read so much about yourself. It’ll tell you what things you probably enjoy, what things you probably shy away from, and which careers you would enjoy the most. If you’ve never taken it, there’s a really great free one here.

I scored ENFP: Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving. Bascially, it means that I have a bubbly personality and an interested in pretty much everything, and my creatively-inclined brain tends to jump all over the place, all the time. “Can’t I be an archaeologist and a religion teacher who owns her own pastry shop and writes music?” It’s no wonder that many ENFP’s are frequently miss-diagnosed with ADHD. Our brains never sit still- they’re always on overdrive. And we hate boring, repetitive, routine tasks- which is probably why my house is a mess.

Since graduating college (6 years ago), I’ve been trying to get into a position that uses my brain and my talents, and doesn’t involve a constant war against my mind’s passion for exploration. It’s been a difficult, lonely road, and I’ve often felt like there was nothing out there for me. Until now.

After years of soul-sucking secretarial work, I’m going to be a professional writer! I’ll be working in the city as a Marketing Content Specialist, collaborating with a team to create conversion-focused content to websites, blogs and emails. I’ll get to use my brain. I’ll get to be creative. I’ll get to write. And I’ll have a chance to be me again. Thank you, thank you, thank you Jesus. Amen.

And I start next week, which means I’m spending this week working on that adoption paperwork. Physical was had this morning. Fire inspection tomorrow. Is there a patron saint of adoptions? I’m going to need all the help I can get!

Also, has anyone else here been through a lengthy career search, or took the long way to finding their heart’s desire? I’d love to hear your stories.

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Wandering, Not Lost

Wandering, Not Lost

“Not all those who wander are lost”- J.R.R. Tolkien.

That’s become the catchphrase for my life in the last few years, and particularly since last Fall. I know God wants more out of me because he keeps asking for it. Read this, pray this, visit me now. It’s not really so much demanding as it is exciting, like a scavenger hunt. He’s asking for a leap of faith. Trust me. Leave the familiar, the known.

Humans are funny. Even when we’re not happy, even when we’re unfulfilled by where we are, we’re still afraid to leave what we know. We don’t know where life is taking us. We don’t have all the answers.  And yet we know that in order to be satisfied, we need to close our eyes and jump, trusting that he knows where he’s leading us.

This weekend, James and I took a big leap.

After 11 years of infertility and 2 years of the most wonderful marriage we ever could have imagined, on August 1, 2015, we officially began the adoption process.

Saturday afternoon, we sat together at the computer and submitted our application. I was so overwhelmed with happiness, I cried. Never in my life did I imagine that I would be so excited, so emotional, so incredibly HAPPY at this moment.

Monday morning, our agency told us that we are approved. We are now beginning our home study.

I know that there is a long road ahead, but I am so excited to be on it with my very best friend. ❤

Constantinople’s Lament

Constantinople’s Lament

My mom still talks about a time when I was a toddler and wanted so badly to see the inside of a church I had spotted on the side of the road. Being an adventurous mom, she pulled over and took me inside. Next thing you know, little Connie Ann is running up and down the aisles from the front to the back, pointing at the cross and shouting gleefully, “Jesus!”

I’ve since learned to control my outbursts (mostly). But I still love, love, love churches. Today I want to talk about my experience visiting one of the world’s greatest, found in the city of my namesake. (Yes, my name is Constance, but when my mom was in a playful mood, she called me Constantinople. And this was before I became a lover of Church history.)

Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia, August 2010, Evening

Dedicated on my birthday, December 27 (though in 537), the Hagia Sophia is a beautiful masterpiece of Byzantine culture as well as an engineering marvel. The ring of windows at the base of the dome amazed everyone who saw it. “What is holding the dome?” they wondered. It looks as though the dome is suspended on a ring of light.

If you squint, you can see the Theotokos on the wall in the back, behind me head.
Standing where the Empress Irene would sit. If you squint, you can see the Theotokos mosaic in the apse.

Apart from the columns, the marble, the dome, and the windows, this church was filled with the most ornate mosaics in the empire. Beautiful scenes filled every wall and alcove, designed to lift the viewer’s thoughts to the world above.

HagiaSophiaMary
Mary and the Child Jesus with Empress Irene and her son, Emperor Alexander.

Visiting this great wonder of the world was a dream come true, though it was also marked with sadness. You see, when Constantinople was overtaken by the Ottoman Turks in 1431, they converted our beautiful home into a mosque. The Christian artifacts were removed and the heavenly mosaics were covered in plaster. Islamic art and writings were hung over the images of our Lord and the Saints. The Glory of Christendom was forced to submit to the Muslims, guarded by four minarets.

In 1935, Mustafa Atatürk had the Hagia Sophia converted once again- this time to a museum. In an effort to honor both the Christian and Islamic history of the building, some of the mosaics were once again exposed, though many remain covered to this day.

Deesis
Deesis Mosaic: Jesus flanked by Mary and John the Baptist.

This is our Constantinople, bound by the shackles of time. Being in this place, seeing what it was, and knowing what it has become created such a storm of emotions in my soul. They say you many not pray in the building- but they can say what they want.

What is there to say when one walks where such tragedy has occurred? What once was the beautiful house of God is beaten down and chained by years of wounds and disenchantment. Would anyone believe the glory it used to house? Will it ever again be what it truly is? How many souls are just like this temple, tragically fallen from grace and seemingly without hope? What glorious beauty hides beneath the whitewash of our conquerors? When will we break the shackles and accept who we were meant to be? Do we have the Faith and Hope to live for the One who built us?

I hope so. And yes, it will always be Constantinople to me.

The Year of Wandering

The Year of Wandering

Trying to assess 2014 for the Connie Ann household is a tough one. There were no major milestones or changes. Our cars kept running, our jobs kept paying, and the sun kept rising over the CA Observation Deck. Brownie continues to be simultaneously adorable and troublesome. It’s a good thing he’s cute.

We hosted a number of parties, including a family New Year’s Day lunch, a Memorial Day cookout, a late-summer s’mores party and a Christmas movie night. We attended 4 weddings: 2 in Maryland, 1 in Nevada and 1 in the beautiful mountains of Western New Jersey.

We took numerous weekends to Williamsburg, VA, and celebrated the 4th of July in the true spirit of 1776. We went to Jamestown and learned about the hardships of the earliest European Americans. We ate cheesesteaks in Philadelphia. We went on our Great Western Adventure and saw Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and the Pacific Ocean for the first time.

We celebrated our first anniversary with a weekend staycation involving Mount Vernon, a stroll in Ellicott City and dinner in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The next day we said goodbye to Skippy, my beloved childhood pet dutch bunny. He was 13, and very much loved.

2014 was a year of wandering. I wrote so much about my spiritual journey and the cross of permanent infertility. I spent a lot of time thinking about my purpose in life. We had very high highs and some deep lows, but both were spent side by side. It was a win for marriage. We don’t know where we are going, when or if we will adopt, or what our purpose is. I truly feel like a wandering soul. And even though I don’t know if the next year will bring any of the answers I seek, I do know that with James standing by me, it doesn’t matter. We will get where we are going, though we do not know the way.

“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

Romans 8:28

Lights, Canyons, Action!

Lights, Canyons, Action!

Dreams are so important. I really think God inspires dreams and goals within us to give us something good to focus on in the midst of chaos. I don’t just mean the big dreams. Smaller goals such as learning to knit, to speak a new language, to play an instrument, to write a novel are all beautiful little sparks of light within us. They do so much good for the soul in the best of times, and even more so in the worst.

Today I was thinking back on my travel bucket list from 2012. Since then I’ve really only knocked one off the list: the Caribbean. We had a wonderful time in St. Thomas, and we hope to go back someday soon.

Here’s one Bucket List trip that may not be on the original post, but definitely deserves to be there:

We’re heading out west to see the Grand Canyon and the Pacific coast in southern California! Neither of us have been out west before. We’re attending a wedding in Las Vegas, so we figured it’s the perfect time to do this Great Western Adventure.

Day 1- Arrive in Las Vegas, NV. See the Strip. Go to the rehearsal dinner. See more Vegas at night.

Las_Vegas_Wiki

Day 2- The wedding isn’t until the evening, so we figured we could go see Red Rock Canyon. Does anyone know if it would be possible to see the Hoover Dam this day too?

red rock

Day 3- Mass in the AM followed by the rest of the day exploring Death Valley National Park. Come back to our Vegas hotel at night.

death_valley_01

Day 4- Wake up super early and drive to THE GRAND CANYON!!! Sleep nearby in Flagstaff, AZ.

GrandCanyon

Day 5- Wake up early again and drive to the Pacific!!! Staying in Southern California.

los-angeles-socal-beaches_596x334

Day 6- Restful day in SoCal, on the coast.

orange-county-beach

Day 7- Drive up the Pacific Coast Highway, want to see Big Sur. Explore. Staying overnight.

BigSur1

Day 8- Drive back down to LA. Last night in California.

LA

Day 9- Fly home to Maryland. From one Bay State to Another.

maryland_flag1

I’m so excited for this trip! Does anyone have any suggestions on things to do, things to see and places to eat?

Deep Into the Stars

Deep Into the Stars

From the time I was a little girl, my dad would take me outside at night to teach me the constellations and show me the moon and planets through his telescope. I would have so much fun out there looking into the sky that I wouldn’t go inside until Mom called out and said it was time to go to bed—for the 3rd time.

James gave me this gorgeous telescope for Christmas. (In case you’re new to this blog, James is the best husband in the history of the universe, and spends all of his time making my dreams come true.) Star watching happens to be a passion we share, which makes it all the more exciting.

Observatory

I have everything I’ve ever wanted. Right here in the home that I share with the man of my dreams, I have my books, my telescope, my piano, my KitchenAid mixer, my National Geographic subscription, my photos from trips overseas… really, I could go on. The little Connie Ann looking at the stars with her daddy would be absolutely THRILLED to know how her life turned out.

That little girl would have some questions, though—she’s a smarty pants, after all. She would ask why I didn’t become an archaeologist, or a singer, or a scientist. She wouldn’t mind at all if I told her that I’m a writer. In fact, she would be pretty excited about that too. She would want me to write books, though. She loved books. She still does.

Maybe I should invite that little girl to come visit, and listen to her talk about all the things she wants to do when she grows up. Maybe she knows what I should be doing now.

I’m sure I’ll see her soon, the next time I go out to look up at the stars.

One Year Into Happily Ever After

This month we celebrated out first anniversary. James surprised me by planning a whole weekend of fun, romantic dates. Saturday we went to Mount Vernon, which I’ve never visited. As a history person growing up in the DC suburbs, I know, it’s surprising. Sunday morning we went to Mass at St. Patrick’s, the place of our wedding. After Mass we walked around Ellicott City and the Baltimore Inner Harbor, and had dinner at Rusty Scupper overlooking the water. After dinner, James took me to the hotel where we spent our wedding night, and the staff had put up a sign for us and scattered rose petals on the bed. Everything was so beautiful. I cried. In a good way.

That weekend of celebrating was kind of like our first year- happy, excited, totally in love and completely elated. We still feel like we’re on our honeymoon.

Yes, we have challenges, but we’re dealing with them together. I don’t know what lies ahead, but I think, thanks to God’s help, we’re holding hands as we go along.

Year 2 of Connie and James is forecasted to be another fun one. Hopefully we’ll be going to the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, and Newport Beach, CA in the Fall, and touring the United Kingdom in the Spring. We may continue pursuing the adoption process, but after our last agency visit we learned we might not be in a good enough financial position yet. While I think I might like the idea of spending a few more years to ourselves, the emotional side of infertility is currently our most difficult struggle- but that’s for another post.

No matter what lies ahead, we know we can continue to be as happy as ever, as long as we keep God first, always.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Spring!

Spring!

True to the season, we have so much to be happy about right now. There is so much to look forward to, and so many things to process.

 

Our first married Easter was beautiful. We are truly blessed. My parents joined us for Mass, followed by brunch at our house. It was really wonderful. My sister had gone to the Vigil the night before, so she hung out in my kitchen and cooked while were at church.

 

Later, James and I went to his side for dinner. We had a wonderful time visiting with everyone. After talking with his mom, aunts and cousins over the course of the weekend, there was one recurring idea that was mentioned.

“Why don’t you guys put in the application, get the home study, and leave the rest in God’s hands?”

Wow. Honestly it’s such a mind-blowing idea, though it might not sound like it to some. It’s a little different than just deciding to “try” like our fertile friends. If you get pregnant right away, you usually have 9 months to prepare for the baby. If you get chosen right away, with adoption, it can be WEEKS or, in rare cases, DAYS before a baby is in your hands. Of course, it can also take several years.

That, perhaps, is why many have said to put it all in God’s hands. Nothing will happen without a home study, of course, but after that, leave it, and trust.

I think I can do that. Trusting can be hard, but it is something we’re not strangers to. I know that with our family, if we were stuck and needed baby stuff in a pinch, they would help us. As for careers and child care, maybe God will lead me to something I can do part time or from home. My other worry has to do with all the traveling I want to do. Can we take the baby with us? Will we be good at that? I mean if Will and Kate can take George to Australia, surely James and I can take our baby to the great cities of Europe. Does that sound ridiculous? I mean people live with babies every day in every city of the world. It’s more expensive, but it has to be doable, right?

Maybe this is where trust comes in.

Some days are Caramel

Today I’m thinking about Forest Gump and his box of chocolates. First off, I have some absolutely wonderful news to report. I have accepted a position with a marketing company that specializes in the food industry. I’m just an administrative assistant, but I am so excited to be in a creative environment with people working on projects that I think are fascinating. I’m looking forward to helping out in any areas I can so that I can learn as much as possible about the industry. They already said they are looking forward to using my writing talents. This job seems like it will be the perfect answer to my prayers.

Tuesday was my last day at the auto body shop, and while I am happy to be moving on, I will miss my coworkers. I am ecstatic that I have found a new direction for my career. I’m nervous too. Starting in a new place is scary. At least I got a new wardrobe out of the deal!

On the flip side, last night was a tough one, infertility speaking. Yesterday morning I had a CT scan to check and see if other systems are formed correctly, since some studies have shown 30% of people with MRKH can also have renal anomalies. Yuck. Last night I was at darling hubby’s basketball game, and there was a couple about our age with a  very cute 18 month old son. Later at home we were going over our health insurance policy because we are considering switching, and hubs wasn’t thinking when he started reading the very long list of free maternity care services included in our current policy. I lost it. In the kitchen. It was too much for me yesterday.

I calmed down. Life continues. And today is set to be a very beautiful one indeed. Charlotte’s coming over for a baking night. And today I’m going to order our Christmas cards and sign us up for an adoption information session in 2 weeks. I am so grateful for this beautiful life and all that is in it, even the chocolates with that gross coconut/strawberry stuff inside.

The Beginning

The Beginning

Once Upon a Time on June 1, 2013, I married my true love, James. We had a beautiful wedding with 200 of our closest family and friends. Even though we had so many people, to us it felt small and intimate. Having James’s uncle, a priest, as the celebrant made it all the more moving. James’s cousins were the altar servers, and our siblings, cousins, niece and nephew were the attendants. For our dedication to the Blessed Virgin, we used a rose from James’s grandfather’s funeral. My sister sang “The Servant Song” after Communion. We were surrounded by our family. It was perfect.

The Bells of St. Patrick's
The Bells of St. Patrick’s

We were so unbelievably happy on that day and we’ve been glowing ever since.

We honeymooned on St. Thomas, USVI. It was Amazing. Capital “A”. Neither of us had ever been to the Caribbean. We were more than impressed. When we weren’t lounging at the Marriott resort, we were exploring the 17th century Danish sights and hunting down postcard beaches. The day we spend on St. John was my favorite.

Trunk Bay, St. John, USVI
Trunk Bay, St. John, USVI

One more place crossed off the bucket list! I suppose I’ll have to do a travel post soon.

A few weeks after we came home, we went to Avalon, NJ with all of our aunts, uncles, and cousins on James’s side.

Our Family in Avalon, NJ
Our Family in Avalon, NJ

It was probably the best beach vacation I’ve ever had, excluding our honeymoon, of course. I love our family so much and it was such a wonderful experience to spend so much time with them.

I know we’re not even 3 months in yet, but I have to say that I feel so blessed. I have a wonderful husband and the best family in the whole wide world. 🙂