Know Thyself– And Continue On Anyway

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I remember taking an online quiz about narcissism.  It was a serious one, not one of those silly quizzes with results that tell you nothing about yourself.

The quiz that I took involved lots of question, none of which I remember– and then a nifty summation about your personality at the end.  The scale of the results of the quiz went from 1 to 30.  One was someone like a cloistered nun, and thirty was someone like a movie star or national politician.  Most people in the USA scored around 20.

I got a 6.  That was about as low as a person who was not part of a conservative religious community could get.

At the time I was concerned that I scored so low, but had to admit that I’m just kind of who I am— which would not be the mind-set of a person who is suffering from extreme narcissism.

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I’d forgotten all about that quiz until last night when I was thinking about what I’ve learned from this NaBloPoMo project.  I agree that I am a bit more disciplined in my writing now.  But I’ve earned a B.A. in English Lit & a M.A. in Communication so I’ve already proved to myself and to the world that I can do that when need be.  And I agree that I’ve found new ways to discover other bloggers.  But searching for other people online is not really a calling for me.

In reality, I think what I’ve learned is that for me the stress of this project has been trying to convince myself that I want to focus on me every day.  And considering my innate personality type, this is no surprise.

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I’ve continued through to the end of the month and I’ve done my best.  It’s good to challenge yourself once in a while.  But I can say that I now completely understand why Deb on the Rocks referred to this as “glorious madness.”  Because it is.

Thanks for keeping up with me, gentle readers.  I appreciate your attention & your comments & your suggestions about what I should write about next.  It has helped me more than you can imagine.

But as of today I shall return to being the casual blogger who posts when I have something to say— whenever I feel like it– when I’m in the mood.

You know, like the free spirit that I am.

Later, kids!

It Takes All Kinds To Make The Holidays Go Round

Every so often I cross paths with a certain woman who I respect professionally but wonder about personally. Frequently I find that her thoughts on various matters challenge my preconceived ideas.  I like talking with her because she always gets me thinking.  Which I like to do.

So, when I saw her this last time she was opining about Christmas.  Specifically she was talking about presents (give gift cards only) and alcoholic drinks (a must for all festive meals) and holiday greeting cards.  It was this last point that caught me by surprise.

This woman hates holiday cards.  Thinks that they’re a complete waste of time, money and resources.  In fact, she shared with me, that when a friend sends her one, she doesn’t even open it and just throws it away.

That’s how much she dislikes holiday cards.

I’m fascinated and appalled by this woman’s cavalier approach to holiday cards– and by extension, I believe, to friendship.  I like receiving cards of all sorts, so it has never occurred to me to not at least open a card addressed to me.

Yet here was someone I’ve known for years telling me quite casually that a card from a friend is of no consequence to her.  That the effort involved in sending it means nothing to her.  And that her friends should really know better and not bother her with holiday cards.

I don’t know that her point of view is going to change my card sending behavior;  I’ll continue doing what I do.  But she did remind me to not make any assumptions about anything.  No matter how innocuous it may seem to me, I now realize that there is a possibility that someone somewhere is tossing aside my gift of friendship holiday card… unopened.

Duly noted.

You Suggested. I Answered.

Yesterday I didn’t know what to talk about.  And then you came to my rescue…

•  Zazzy of suggested that I “post more photos of your pretty area.

I like that idea… except that it is gray and rainy today.  And quite frankly, if you’ve seen one bleak midwestern day, you’ve seen them all.  So I’ll do that when the sun shines again.

•  Katie of slow down & savor suggested that I could “always use a silly #NaBloPoMo prompt from the BlogHer website.

If I were a more rational person I’d do that.  My problem with those prompts is that all they seem to do is make my mind go completely blank.  They remind me of a sinister essay test question—  which is going to count for 90% of my grade.  And true to form, when I see them I immediately have nothing to say.  My ability to think & write vanishes.

•  Kristen of Kristen Loves Design suggested, among other things, that I “talk about my favorite color.

Naturally, me being me, I don’t have one favorite color.  I like all of them– depending on the shade.  So, for instance, I like crimson red [not tomato red];  pumpkin orange [not football team orange];  lemon yellow [not neon yellow];  kiwi green [not kelly green];  denim blue [not baby blue];  plummy purple [not royal purple];  mahogany brown [not mustardy brown];  warm gray [not purplish gray];  golden or greenish white [not pinkish or taupe white];  and greenish black [not bluish black].

•  Margaret of Stargazer suggested, among other things, that I “could do a book review of a book I’ve recently read that I hated or loved.

Under normal circumstances I’d be delighted to do that.  But the reality is that I’ve stopped reading during the month of November because all my free time has gone into NaBloPoMo.  Doing this project has become a part-time job for me and uses up my daily allotment of wordiness.

•  Laura of Team Tantrum suggested, in her own quiet way, that posting a “declaration of quit” is always an option.

I agree with her as a matter of fact.  There’s no indignity in not making it through the entire month.  Sometimes just giving something new a go is all that one needs to do— to learn what he or she needs to know about something.

Well, Who’d Of Thought?

For a pleasantly scented work area do this:

  • Go for an early morning walk.
  • Upon returning home but before entering the house– pluck stray dried leaves out of the pot of rosemary that sits on the front stoop.
  • Enter home and immediately go to desktop computer to catch up on email.
  • When finished with email– shower and dress for the day.
  • Return to home office and sit down in front of computer to start day in earnest.

Result?  The most delightfully aromatic keyboard I ever did smell.  🙂

10 Questions

I’ve been tagged by the lovely PollyBurns2 of caughtwriting to answer 10 questions, so we all get to know one another a little better.  The idea is to then tag someone else, preferably someone who is taking part in the NaBloPoMo project.  So here goes:  

1. Describe yourself in seven words.

I laugh. I learn. I love. Usually.

2. What keeps you awake at night?

Lower back pain from a goofy gardening accident.  Other than that I sleep quite well.  In fact, I’m rather known for my ability to sleep for long periods of time.

3. If you could be anyone for a day, who would you be and why?

I’d like to be Diane Sawyer.  She’s smart, articulate, interested (and therefore interesting), and pretty.  She anchors a newscast where she is responsible for setting the news agenda for the evening–  and she is married to a successful, creative man.  Yep, that’s who I’d want to be.

4. What are you wearing right now?

Faded jeans, an aqua t-shirt with a teal cardigan sweater, and brown leather clogs.  And eyeglasses, of course.

5. What scares you?

Political dictators.  All of ’em across the world.

6. What are the best and worst things about blogging?

I agree with PollyBurns2’s answer.  “Best thing:  sharing ideas and getting inspiration from the amazing bloggers I’ve discovered so far.  Worst thing:  there are so many blogging events and challenges to get involved in, that there just isn’t enough time to do everything I want to do.”

7. What was the last website you looked at, apart from Twitter and Facebook?

Arts & Letters Daily

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d be physically stronger.  I can workout every day of the week  and never gain any noticeable muscles.  No definition, no wow factor.  I always remain the same old flabby me.

9. Slankets – yes or no?  (This apparently divides the blogging world.) 

First, I had to find out what a slanket is.  [Click here.]  And now I can tell you that I’m not a fan.

10. Tell us something about the person who tagged you.

PollyBurns2 writes insightful posts about what she’s thinking about;  and is a kind-hearted woman who included me in this meme so that I’d have one more thing to post on my blog during NaBloPoMo.

I’m going to tag the delightful Zazzy at who is the only other blogger I know who is doing NaBloPoMo.  Take it away, Zazzy!

Love, Dreams & Color Schemes

“A house is made of walls and beams;  a home is built with love and dreams.”


Take a quiz.  Learn something useful.  Reflect upon how pretty these colors are.  Remind self that we are perfectly happy with the colors that we’ve got going on in our home now.  Save this just in case.


Take another quiz.  Enjoy the questions.  Agree with the results [minus the nonsense about mixing patterns].  Decide that I like thinking of myself as Bohemian Casual— a more refined way of saying “free spirit.”


Take a third and last quiz.  Like that the questions are all photos.  Agree with the results– especially the part about “peaceful coexistence of seemingly unrelated elements.”  Reflect upon how this phrase makes “eclectic mess” sound stylish.

The Just Say Nope To Taupe Project

Twelve years ago we had our house built.  Today we both agree that the floor plan is great for us.  It’s a transitional style home, so we have rooms that are traditional and we have rooms that are contemporary.  The rooms are juxtaposed in such a way as to create an interesting, non-cookie cutter feel to the house which adds a fun energy to the place.

But I never really liked how the inside of this house looked.  We worked with the builder’s interior designer and I’m not sure that she knew what she was doing.  She gave us pinky beige and taupe walls– with dark cherry cabinets, creamy tile, yellowish bathroom counters– and shiny brass knobs and door handles everywhere.  I trusted her, but either she put the wrong neutrals together because she was stupid.  Or she put the wrong neutrals together because she was malicious.  [We refused to go with her first design plan for our house: purple walls, leopard print, shiny brass with beveled glass light fixtures, and black counters.  Really.  Not kidding.]

So for eight years we lived with what we paid for.  I tried to correct a few of the rooms but ended up with a so-so look in each space.  It bummed me that things never looked right and Zen-Den, who has a good eye for decorating, was too busy at work to focus on how to fix things here at home.

Then four years ago, in what I can only describe as a burst of peri-menopausal bravado, I announced that: “If I’m going through the change, so is the house.”  Zen-Den, bless his heart, said: “okay.”  And with that, we set out on what has come to be known as The Just Say Nope To Taupe Project.

Since then it’s been almost non-stop change.  We’ve kept the furniture and accessories that we both liked– and sold, Goodwilled, or St. Vincent de Pauled the rest.  [A few antiques still need to be sold to a dealer.]  We’ve painted or had someone else paint almost all the walls and ceilings and trim in the whole house.  [One room to go.]  The kitchen has been entirely remodeled and the master bathroom has been refreshed.  And now we’re to the point where we’re slowly removing the old wall-to-wall carpet and putting wood floors downstairs/new carpeting upstairs.

While I did have a pretty good idea of how much money it was going to cost to redo everything, I didn’t have any idea of how much clutter this project was going to generate.  At some point in the last four years every room in our home has undergone some sort of change– which has created various degrees of chaos caused by stuff shifting back and forth between rooms and the basement.  Zen-Den has taken this process in stride.  Me, perhaps, not so much.

I’m glad that we decided to do this whole house overhaul instead of moving, but I won’t lie and say that it’s been a fun project.  It’s been very anxiety inducing for me, an English major turned self-taught interior designer, to make all these color and style choices.  Obviously, improving a house while property values are dropping across the country is a bit of a worry, too.  I doubt that we’ll ever get our money back from The Just Say Nope To Taupe Project.  But I don’t know that I really care about that.

What I do care about is the fact that we have a home with a cohesive color scheme, comfortable furniture, and a sense of our quirky personalities— three things that were lacking previously.  We’re relaxed when we’re at home now.  It’s our house fixed up the way we like it.  And we both feel like we belong here– finally.