Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Downton Abbey Christmas

Last year for my mom's birthday, she received the Downton Abbey cookbook.  She then managed to get it in her head that this year, we would have a Downton Abbey Christmas.  And being a good daughter, I was happy to oblige.  It involved finally subscribing myself to Pinterest, a whole lot of searching and pining, shopping trips to several stores and a last minute trip to Office Max for printing, but I managed to get it all settled.

Here's the final product:

Looking down the table toward the living room.

Looking across the dining room to the buffet.

Views of the centerpiece.  
Done with dollar store vases, electric candles and a few real candles for the lights.
Pine cones are from Michael's.
Three strips of ribbon are the anchor - one red, two burlap and gold - from Big Lots.
Paper accents are printed out from the internet.
Red and gold bulbs are also Big Lots.
Greenery is from Walmart and the Dollar Store.

Place settings
Placemats from Target
Red Chargers from Michael's
Mom's Christmas dishes and red napkins
Place tags are from the internet. 

 The Buffet
All of this was from my mom's collection of Christmas items.  All I brought was the pine cones.

It was nice to work with a theme this year.  It certainly made planning a lot easier.  Silver would have been a bit more traditional, but we wanted to use the Christmas china so that made red and gold more practical.  

Friday, July 19, 2013

Burning Questions

I am supposed to be thinking about work and getting some more things done for items I need to be teaching.  I've given it over for the day, partly because I feel a bit burned out and partly because I am not even sure what to work on.  I think my mind is overwhelmed by all the stuff I'd like to accomplish and the other part of me is just feeling sad.

It comes from time to time, that sense of loneliness and apartness.  Unlike the rest of the world it seems as though there is no one that I seem to connect with, seem to talk to.  I feel... friendless.  It's hard to figure out how to make friends.  I keep thinking, I can just do it, but in the end it doesn't seem like its possible to do that.  I don't have people that I call on the weekend or hang out with or go out to dinner with - it's just lonely and sad.  It's not that my life isn't good because I have a lot of good things going on - a lot of things that make me happy - like my job, my son, my cats, my house - I am luckier than 98% of the world.  But then you look at people who have friends and someone they call and make plans with and you feel that 2% that's missing.

Maybe its a lack of confidence.  I have to admit, I struggle with that on a daily daily basis.  Unhappy with how I look, how I must appear to others.  Feeling I am not good at my job.  Not a caring enough parent.  Makes you want to have someone to share your life with - someone who bolsters you and makes you remember you are worth while.

Part of it is that you just want to be happy and fulfilled with the relationships around instead of just relying on yourself.  Of course reaching outside of myself is a difficult piece when you are an introverted person.  You can't just rely on yourself for everything on the other hand.  But how can you get someone to spend time with you when you are unable to reach out because you are full of self-doubt and unwilling to have enough confidence to take a risk.  You think that doing things like losing weight and changing things about yourself will make you more confident, but does that really just put window dressing on a problem.  Maybe you have to project self confidence until it becomes a part of who you are.  Fake it til you make it kind of piece of thinking.  Reach out and assume that people want to go with you places.  It's so easy to just stay home and be... but that doesn't make me happier or more fulfilled.

Just goes to show that being older doesn't mean being wiser...Sometimes older is just older.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Spring Break Introspection

The one thing about spring break - or any time off of work, wherein you don't ever actually spend any time thinking about work - is that you have lots of time to think about other things.  Things like why you are the way you are, how come cats are alternately fascinated and terrified by the concept of an door, how come you can't manage to lose weight and when the best time to take a nap is.  And you clean things - lots of things.  But the cleaning and painting are for another post - though I am happy to share what two terrified cats look like:

Aside from terrifying cats and napping, I have been thinking about why I am the way I am.  The feeling off being alone and why I don't bother to go and date or anything of the like.  Why I would chose to have a baby on my own instead of taking the time to date.  Why I don't like who I am at times.  It is hard to realise that you have to be willing to change yourself in order to make certain you are able to be in a relationship - instead of becoming the crazy cat lady you are on your way to becoming.

Instead of becoming the cat lady, spring break gave me a bit of time to look instead.  Part of it came from watching, of all things, What Not to Wear and there was someone on there who had this complete blank look through all of the criticism part.  I realise that is what I do.  I get that blank affect to myself when I want to protect myself.  Not only am I an introvert, which makes it hard to want to go out and be with strangers in general, but I also work very hard to use a shell to protect myself.  I hate nothing more than being hurt - especially by people I like or respect or care for.  And I am an emotional person - everything hurts and can cause emotional pain.  So therefore I use a shell to protect myself so I don't get hurt.  I use this blank face that hides everything I am thinking.  I've been called on it before - generally by my director who knows what I am doing.  Usually she's asked me something and I have put on that face to protect myself from giving an immediate answer.

But I realise that I probably use that blank face more often than I am aware of.  Any time I want to protect myself or hide, I use it.  I think I am protecting myself, but really what I am doing is putting people off.  You can't read my expression or my emotions and I am not going to give you a hint so of course you aren't going to be open or friendly because you can't see me or really get to know me.  All you get is nada.

So you want to meet someone, but that requires vulnerability.  And if you are so worried about protecting yourself, you can't afford to be vulnerable.  In the end though, that vulnerability is worth it because you can spend time getting to know someone and making friends.  I am sure that lack of vulnerability has led to less friends as I get older and certainly an unwillingness to date and more time spent with cats.  I just need to get out and try.

And then, just as importantly, face it at work.  I need to be willing to show that vulnerability at work as well.  To show I am not perfect and am willing to learn.  I believe that I can learn and grow and maybe learn to be open to change.  Part of it is that I don't like being in an administrative role.  It isolates you far more and means that you don't have a lot of time to be yourself and be open to being friends.  And when you don't know a lot of people outside of work, you end up isolated.  And then you get used that isolation and so it carries over to your personal life.  Then you don't need to bother to try.  And so you become the crazy cat lady.

Hopefully acknowledging the need for change allows me to begin thinking about the change I want so I can make it.  A lot of it starts with building some self confidence in the fact that people can like me for me.  I don't need to be something, pretend,or lose wait.  Losing weight can help me build confidence, but it's not going to give me confidence alone.  I can do it.  I can lose the weight - 10 pounds a month means five months of work.  I've got to add in the exercise and I'm working on that part.  I can look good.  I can make it better.  Just one day at a time.  And taking a minute to step outside and look at myself as others might can only help as well.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


We all have dreams.  And I'm not talking about the dreams of 'when I grow up...'.  No I'm talking about the ones that happen when you are supposed to be asleep and deep within another realm.  Some of these are standard and typical and relate to crap you go through during the day.  Some times they are just bizarre.  Some times they are scary.  But we all have them. 

Most of the time, I can figure out where the dream comes from - what idea triggered that dream experience.  I often dream of certain things.  One of them is my grandparents and their house in the Cincinnati area of Ohio.  The house is no longer there and neither are, sadly, my grandparents.  I often dream of being in that house and feeling like they are still alive.  I dream about walking through the house, about being there with them again, about staying in the house again.  I know they are no longer there and I know that I dream about the house and going through and being with my grandparents because I wasn't there when they cleaned the house after their deaths.  I know that I still have 'issues' regarding closure with this.  It is what it is.  I have to live with those dreams and memories and they will always be a part of me.

So I get dreaming about my grandparents.

I get dreaming about my best friend and talking with her.

I get dreaming about school and job related crap.  After all, who doesn't?

I even get dreaming about sex.  I mean, really, I'm a single mom who's not dating.  I have needs and they aren't being met in terms of sex.  It's my choice to not be dating.  It's my choice not to be randomly picking up men in bars - not that I think I'm truly capable of that.  Ok that sounds a bit wrong.  What I mean is that I don't have enough confidence in how I look to feel like I could attract someone I'd like to sleep with. 

What I don't get is WHO I often dream about outside of my grandparents and best friend.  Most often when I dream about sex and men especially, I dream about the guy (boy really) that I had a crush on all through elementary school.  He came in second grade and I probably had a crush on him from day one until I moved out in fifth grade.  I don't think it's all that unusual for girls to have a crush on a boy for that period of time.  Though of course my son is now this age and I think 'dear god does some little girl have a crush on my son like that?!' and the mother in me panics a little.  (Though to be fair my son is cute, but not the cutest in the class so probably not).

Anyway, I had a crush on a guy named Andy from second to fifth grade.  In fifth grade, I moved in March so it's not like he and I ever really 'dated' or even truly kissed!  But there must have been something about him that resonanted.  Or maybe it was just the longest time I had a crush on a guy.  I don't know, but I do know that at least once a month (or more) I dream about him.  Not about him as a boy though.  Oh no, he's definitely all man.  Tall and blonde.  And all man.  The dreams are all about the attraction between us.  About renewing and being together. 

What I want to know, is WHY?!  Why do I dream about this guy?  I have never seen him as an adult.  I don't even know if he's still alive.  I haven't seen him since the day I moved in fifth grade, so why do I still dream about him?  Why am I still obsessed with who he is?  Why do I feel like there is some kind of crazy connection to this guy?  Is it just that it was my first crush so therefore we all dream about that person?  Maybe it is just the excitement of the unknown.  I don't know anything about him other than what I remember from then.  Maybe I just need that information so the dreams will stop.  Maybe it just gives me someone random to focus on that is known but unknown.

Who knows.

But I do know that curiousity is strong.

Let's just hope it doesn't kill the pussy.....