Intelligent Design

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Here’s another box to put people and their ideas in… as if we didn’t have enough labels yet.  For a while it was Darwinism vs. creationism.  For those of you that like a third party, please celebrate intelligent design! It combines the thoughts of scientists, philosophers, and scholars.

Is it creationism light?  Is it a compromise between science and religion? Is it a bunch of baloney?  When you research the topic, the answer seems to depend on the advocate.

People who lean towards science dismiss it as nonsense.  They feel that it’s just religion trying to repackage creationism, so that it’s more palatable. Intelligent design is not real science, they say.

Other people are skeptical that this world, and it’s inhabitants, are the result of a random, unplanned chain of events.

If you think about, all these theories seem pretty ludicrous.  In creationism, you have God, who speaks the world, and everything in it into existence.  He does all this in seven days.  Hmmm… it’s hard to take that in the literal sense.  Then we have evolution, where there’s the big bang.  All life begins randomly from a single celled organism. Humans, and everything else, evolve through mutation.  That sounds a little far fetched as well.  Intelligent design concedes that we have evolved, but according to design, implicating a designer. Sounds like a compromise to me.  But, if you don’t believe in a designer, that’s not going to work for you, is it?

This is a simplistic discussion of complicated theology and science.  I know that.  The point is, views on religion change, and ideas in science evolve.  They are all theories.  Intelligent design seems to be a good option, instead of choosing from two sides.  My grandson, Felix, says “I believe in God and evolution”.  Voila!  Intelligent design!

When it comes down to it, people are different, and we all have a variety of views on many topics.  How do you weigh in on this?

 – Cat

Some College

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I started college early.  I was just sixteen at the time.  I graduated high school early, skipping my senior year.  In my junior year of high school, I was enrolled in high school and college concurrently.

Then, I had a fight with my father.  I dropped out of college, and moved out of the house at seventeen.  I was determined to make a go of it, and worked full time.  I was fiercely independent, but I knew I had made the wrong decision about college.  So, I took college courses in the evening.  That was difficult to do, and after a while it took a toll on me.

Once I married at eighteen and had a child, I tried to go back and get my degree.  I went to school three full days a week, with a great granny watching my son, Thom.  I had an 8:00 am political science class, which I approached with great enthusiasm.  Then… two things started happening during the 8:00 am class:  I would fall asleep or throw up.  You guessed it, blessed with a second baby.

I took that as a sign from God that I should finish up my degree “later”.  Two more kids later, college was no longer featuring in my dreams, let alone my life.  I wasn’t sad about it.  I was busy, with my hands full, and my heart full as well.  I would take a class now and then.

A few years ago, I was in a meeting at work.  I had a chance for an advancement program, and was nominated in front of a bunch of coworkers.  It was a great opportunity.   But I had to say, in front of everybody, that I didn’t have the required college degree.  I made the decision then to give college another try.  Enrolling in an online university, I was an exuberant scholar.  I got perfect marks in everything I did.

Then the day came.  I got some points taken off on a paper that I had written.  I was extremely mad about it.  My husband explained that it was actually okay that it happened, and it was good for me.  I let that sink in, and realized that he was right.  I took a break from school at the end of the semester, though.  We were moving to a new area after twenty years in our house.  This demanded more time and energy than I could devote while studying.

So, it’s still left undone. I’m a grandmother now, and I work full time, and I can’t say with certainty that I’ll ever finish.  Maybe when I retire.  When my daughter, Catie, was in college, she told me she was going to take a semester off.  I told her that she wasn’t.  We both felt like I was being too pushy at the time, but we’re both glad now that she has her master’s degree.  My father is in his eighties and still takes college courses, if they interest him.

Some college.  Well, that could mean anything.  It could mean two classes.  It could mean almost there.  Almost every job you apply for now states that a college degree is required, or at least preferred.  Since employers have you apply online, gone is the chance to dazzle with a first impression. You can’t show them your sense of style.  You don’t get to brag about all the things you can do.  You can’t wow them with your work ethic.  You never get to give them a firm handshake  and a confident smile.

Most days I don’t think about it.  Other days, I have to help the person that has a degree, and got the opportunity, to prepare their final presentation in the program.  I don’t believe that you must have a college degree to be successful or happy in life.  But I do believe that you limit your choices without one.  So, if you’re in school, stay in school until you’re done.  If you’ve got your degree, you have that accomplishment to be proud of, and I admire you for it!

I lead a happy life.  I have a big family, with four children, two stepchildren, six grandkids, with one more on the way!  They bring me so much joy!  I have found meaningful work to do, and love making a difference everyday.  My husband and I get along great and enjoy each other’s company.  We have a lovely home, and great neighbors.  I’ve still got both my parents.  Most days “some college” is just not that bad.

 – Cat

Happiness Now

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How many times have you looked up to someone and thought “If I had their life, I would be happy”?  It’s natural… the whole “grass is greener” thing.

When I was a teenager, I was always envious of my best friend, who was so tiny and petite.  Years later, I confessed to her that I was jealous of her slight frame, and her ability to wear cute summer shirts. You well endowed women know what I’m talking about.  At the moment of my disclosure, she said “You’ve got to be kidding!”  She continued “I always felt like a boy next to you; I was so jealous of your curves!”  Sometimes you need to get a reality check and look at things from someone else’s perspective.

We rely on material things to make us happy.  Sometimes you want a nice car, a big house… maybe a boat, or a $3000 designer bag, or the latest Jordans.  You catch yourself thinking “When I get that extra special thing, I will be happy.”  And then, finally, you get that thing, that magical unicorn you’ve been dreaming of.  As it turns out, the struggle for acquisition was the best part.  Once your quest is over, you come face to face with the truth.  You’re still the same person, you just have a new possession. 

If you’re thinking you need to get another job, or live somewhere else to be happy, chances are you’re wrong about that, too.  You’ll be the same person, but with another job, or in another locale.  Quite often, we think “If only I could make a fresh start”.  You can make a fresh start, alright.  But not through external gratification.

Start from where you are, right here and right now.  Cultivate happiness within you that has nothing to do with your looks, your money, or your job.  All the stuff you have, and don’t have, doesn’t matter a bit.  You can add those things into the mix, but if you’re not happy now, those things won’t change you.

How many famous people kill themselves with a self-destructive lifestyle?  They’ve got money, fame, and everything that those things can bring.  Is that enough to sustain a person?  Nope.  I love the quote from Henry Ford when someone asked him how much money does it take to make a man happy.  His response:  “A little bit more”.  In the end, we all end up the same situation.

It’s good to have dreams.  Reach as high as you can.  Stretch right out of your comfort zone.  Remember that achieving those things will never make you as happy as the struggle to achieve them.  Put another way, it’s the journey and not the destination.  Moments in time, being with loved ones, trying your best, believing in yourself.  Those are the things that will bring happiness.  Lasting happiness.  The kind of happiness you deserve.

Be gentle with yourself.

– Cat

We’re All Doing the Best We Can!

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It’s easy to judge others for not living up to the standards that we set for ourselves.  For most people, it’s a matter of thinking that you’re a better quality person than the next guy. Sometimes, we look up to folks that we think are better quality than us.  What does that even mean?

When I was younger, I viewed things in absolutes.  Things were black or white, with no room for gray.  As we age, we can see the subtleties, the gray in things.  If we don’t know someone’s back story, it’s easy to overlook that there might be one.

So, when I say that we’re all doing the best we can, I’m talking about every person.  We all carry emotional and psychological stuff around with us.  Sometimes it will get in the way of us being who we can be.  Often, we let damaging experiences define who we are.  We will dwell on them, instead of acknowledging them as part of who we are, but only part.

Some people are parents and they are not prepared or equipped to be parents.  Some people enter relationships that they are just not ready to be a part of.  Some people will not be able to bear the stress of their job, or life in general.  Some enter a grieving process and can’t let go. These are all real struggles, and they can affect the way we live our life.

Does it sound like I’m making excuses?  I’m not.  People will and should be accountable for their actions, one way or another.  Is that karma?  We all have to answer for things we do.  We all have regrets for things that haven’t gone so well in our past.

I’m saying that a person does their individual best.  They see things through their lens, and live life through their own filter.  Their best may not be very good, according to our standards.  Our best may not be good enough in their point of view.

The important thing is to consider that everyone is doing their best.

– Cat

 

Does Black Friday Make Sense?

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Today is the day.  People are out shopping for bargains to celebrate the holiday season kickoff.  These days, corporations lean one way or the other when it comes to being open at the crack of dawn on the day after Thanksgiving, and even on Thanksgiving Day.

We are a capitalistic society, driven by consumerism.  We do live in a material world.  We have pushed the holiday gift giving frenzy to the limits. How many other catch phrases can I use to rationalize what is going on these days?  What happened to our supposed holiday of love and peace?

As I said, some corporations are bold and unashamed.  They will be open all day on turkey day, sometimes through the night, and super early the next day.  Other corporations state that their policy is to stay closed and maintain reasonable hours.  They do this out of respect for their employees.  Both stances have an impact on marketing and public relations for a company.  Both strategies also affect employees, both directly and indirectly.

Supply and demand, along with diminishing returns on brick and mortar businesses, both factor in.  Retailers are desperate to cash in during the fourth quarter.  It’s the Super Bowl of retail.

Shoppers seem to set up camp on one side or another as well.   Some people, myself included, will not shop on Black Friday or the day before.  Others have built this as a new part of the family tradition.  These shoppers are on a mission.  For me, the last thing I want to do after eating a huge feast with my family is go tromping around stores, fighting for my place, and the bargains that I deserve.  I’m just not interested, to be truthful.

Shoppers love a deal, it’s true.  I think that the funniest places to shop are Kohl’s, or Bath and Body Works.  The last time I came out of Kohl’s I paid $58 for my purchases.  My receipt says I saved $103 that day, with my coupons, my Kohl’s Cash, sale prices.  That says to me that the original prices are way too high.  Bath and Body Works.  Oh my goodness.  Buy 3, get 3 free.  20% off your entire purchase.  Free item with the purchase of something else.  On sale, today only!  And, when you’re done trying to do the math to maximize your savings, you get more coupons.  It’s a part-time job.

A few years ago, JC Penney decided they were going to stop all the coupons, special sales, and incentives.  They went to everyday low prices instead.  It was a marketing disaster that they’re still trying to recover from.  The point is, we are shopping monsters that demand 24 hour access to our sport.  Yes, it’s a sport.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.  Sometimes you get trampled to death by someone trying to get to a big screen TV at Walmart before you do.  But when you get that trophy…. YES!

I have to ask this ludicrous questions about holiday shopping.  What would Jesus do?

– Cat

Forgive Me… I’m Trying to Forgive You

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One of my favorite quotes is:

“Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself”

When I was checking on the source for this quote, it looks like Suzanne Somers gets the most votes.  We had Tony Robbins in the mix, along with TD Jakes.  Well, it deserves deep consideration, no matter who authored it.

I’ve held a grudge.  I’ve fed it and nurtured it.  I’ve felt the burn. The person holding the grudge will always feel worse than the target of the anger and resentment.  If you are stubborn and slow to forgive, it will always hurt you more than anyone else.

I know it takes so much effort to forgive immediately and with sincerity, but the pay off is huge!

While we’re on the topic of forgiving, it’s okay to hold yourself to a high standard of ethics or morality.  But, we are human, and sometimes we hurt other people, even if we don’t mean to.  Be quick to forgive yourself in the midst of your guilt trip.

The usual form of an apology is:  “I’m sorry that I got angry, BUT….”  Make your statement and then stop.  Don’t qualify your feelings and take the argument to the next level.  If you have a fight with a friend, both parties should apologize.  That’s what friends do.  It’s called making up.

Resolving a rift between friends can put you right on the mountaintop.  It feels blissful to bring restoration to a broken relationship.  You’ll be wondering why you waited so long!

Just a word of caution.  Remember, that while your feelings of forgiveness towards someone may feel right to you, they may take time to bring a resolution.  Your words and gestures of apology may not be returned right away, if at all.  Forgive anyway. You can only control your side of the equation.  This is something that we must learn from.  It’s part of life.  This is what it means to be accountable; to accept the consequences of your actions.

Who can you forgive today?  Give yourself a gift and get started.

– Cat

Is There a Pill Yet … Or is it Still Diet and Exercise?

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Good news!  Over the past 10 years, I’ve lost 150 pounds!  Bad news…  I’ve lost, on average, 15 pounds a year.  I think that I’m the original yo-yo dieter.  Sometimes I feel bad about it, other days it doesn’t cross my mind.  Right now, I’m going through my “not focusing on that” phase, as opposed to my “freaking out about my health” phase.

Tomorrow, I cook with my Mom, and my daughter Catie, as we prepare for Thanksgiving.  No matter how hectic things get, I always cook with my Mom the day before our annual feast.  We are so happy to have Catie join us in the family tradition as we share recipes and laughs.

This time of year, so much of the celebrating involves eating.  Most of what you eat is not salad.  If you are eating light this year, more power to you.  It’s not human nature, though.  I know how to control my diet and eating habits, I just don’t do a great job at it.

Think for a moment about how many people you know in the medical profession that you see out on a smoke break.  I’d be willing to bet that they’ve heard that smoking isn’t healthy.  The point here is that knowing what to do doesn’t necessarily mean that you do it.

With all the medical advancements, why can’t they just develop a pill for this problem?  Why does it have to be the long, tedious process of diet and exercise?  I know that several companies acknowledge the problem.   They offer appetite suppressants, fat blockers, shakes, bars, shots, and other magic tricks.  You can get surgery.  You can buy a fad diet book… and you may even follow it for a while.  You might try a multi level marketing solution for weight loss.  Maybe joining Weight Watchers, or one of the other diet plans, will work for you.  I’m of the opinion that trying anything is better than trying nothing.

I know people with the opposite problem, who are trying to gain weight and can’t.  They know what they have to do.  It’s just hard work to do it.  I can’t imagine the heartbreak involved with having an eating disorder.

I admire you if you have a sensible diet and stay fit and on top of your health at all times.  Are you in the minority, or am I just biased towards the “pretty plus” mindset?  I’m not sure that I’m not viewing it all through the lens of my experience.

So, here’s to a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone.  I hope you feel the love of family and friends.  I hope you have a grateful heart.  I hope you get to taste two kinds of pie… and enjoy it!

-Cat

What’s Your Superpower?

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Photo by Tyler Lambert

Superheroes have been around for a while, but they are more popular than ever!  Lots of popular movies and  TV shows tell the story of a Superhero, or sometimes a group of them.

 I’m not one that’s caught up in the Superhero media craze. I like to celebrate everyday people who develop their own superpowers.  We each have at least one personality attribute that can be used for good, which we know can defeat evil, right?

I’ve used this exercise before, in encouraging and demonstrating individual strengths in the workplace.  As part of a team, you might not have patience. If you know the person next to you does, you can turn to them for help and advice when you need to.  If I’m feeling down, but I know your positivity is infectious, I can hang out with you until I’m all powered up.

But enough about everybody else.  Let’s talk about you for a minute.  Take some time right now and think about your superpower.  What’s the one thing, the one strength you have, that we can all rely on to make the world a better place.  Is it your smile, your sense of humor? Is it your determination, your tenacity?  Is it your helpful attitude?  Your quest for knowledge? Are you a good listener?  Empathetic?  Humble?

I’ve given you a few examples, now it’s up to you to put the concept together.  You see, your special gift is what helps you contribute to this group project we call life.  By developing and putting your talents to work, you improve the planet.

Every once in a while, I run across someone who tells me that they don’t have a superpower.  They don’t recognize any talent or gift within themselves.  So, it’s safe to say that positivity is not their strong suit.  If you’re in the club of naysayers, ask someone you love, or work with, maybe someone in your family…. Hey, do I have any superpowers?

Chances are, you’ll get them thinking about their own superpower, while they’re helping you get yours figured out.  Once you do this exercise a few times, you’ll start noticing other people’s talents with a sharper eye.  Before you know it, we’re all going around appreciating each other!

Okay… maybe I took that a little farther than I should have.  But the point is, we can grow and learn through this exercise.  Try it.  I’ll bet it won’t take you much time at all.  I’m thinking that you’ll have a hard time narrowing it down to just one.

Let me know how it goes!

-Cat

My Struggle With Jazz

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I love the notion of sitting in a jazz club in Summer.  Hot and sultry, the music washing over me.  Back in my reality, I have a hard time enjoying jazz.  The slow, bluesy jazz isn’t so bad, but that snappy jazz just makes me feel confused.  I’m not sure why it bothers me.  Who cares?

I pride myself on appreciating all types of music.  When I listen to jazz, the first song is always good.  I’m thinking “I like this, it’s great”. The second song is just okay, and by the third song, I’m done.  I want to like it, but for some reason, I just don’t.

I brought this up one time in a closed Facebook group for an eclectic station that I listen to on satellite radio.  I commented “I’m not clever enough for jazz”.  I meant it as a joke, but the remark was not taken lightly.  The response was rapid.  “You need to have more of an open mind”, was the general consensus.  It was clear that these people cared a great deal about my impairment.

I talked to some people I know that love jazz.  My daughter, Catie, is a big jazz fan.  She recommended some pieces to me.  She talked to me about how jazz made her feel, and how it was such a wonderful musical genre to explore.  I wanted to get on board that train!  Some of the pieces she recommended to me were enjoyable at the beginning.  But, they soon melted into chaos, and that’s the part I have a hard time with.

My son, Tyler, who is a musician and loves jazz, took the time to explain to me the construction of a jazz piece.  I found it fascinating as we listened to a song together; identifying the different parts as they played out.  I think I liked having a stimulating conversation with him better than the music itself.  Although the technical aspects were interesting, it didn’t improve my appreciation.

Now, I know that in this crazy world we live in, with all it’s real problems, that this may seem trivial.  And it is.  It’s just something that I think about now and then.  Are there any other jazz skeptics out there?

 – Cat

Being Right vs. Being Loved -Finding Balance

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You hear that term “balance” a lot today.  Apparently, it’s the ideal for having a happy life.  Striving for balance is a real chore in some respects.  Almost always, we present our personalities in the extremes.

It’s a matter of wanting to be right vs. wanting to be loved, according to my observations.  I’m always stunned by people who feel a need to assert their opinions, in a bold and bossy way.  They don’t seem to recognize that they are at risk of diminishing love from friends and family.  They know that what they’re saying is provocative, and it will most likely start an argument.  They just can’t resist or restrain the temptation.

You hear proclamations that under the first amendment, we all have freedom of speech. We do have freedom of speech.  Speaking is an action, and actions do have consequences.  Have you ever said anything you wished you could take back?  Just because you can say what you want, doesn’t mean I have to agree.  We don’t have freedom from judgement or reaction based on what we say. 

Social media is the perfect platform to pontificate through.  Maybe I’m being a hypocrite, since I’m communicating this to you through a blog article.  People argue on Facebook as if they will win everybody over to “their side”.  How realistic is that?  During the recent election, for example, I saw posts from people on both (or more) sides.  People talk about deleting friends, online and in real life, because they have a different point of view.  We had to stop talking to them, because they are narrow-minded, dim-witted, and don’t know anything.

But, if you never argue a point, people will say you are a dull person, and not much of a conversationalist.  If you never stand up and speak out for someone who is in need, people will think you are cold-hearted.

Finding balance in this area is what we used to call “choosing your battles”.  If you’ve ever been in a relationship, you know about this.  It’s important for parents and children, siblings, bosses, neighbors, coworkers, friends, and lovers… everybody.

It’s the fine art of conceding a point, even if you disagree with the other person on the whole.  It’s the practice of evaluating discussions and arguments as they occur.   Consider if this is the “point” that you must “win”.  We all talk about diversity, and acceptance of those who are “different”.  Can we start with people who hold different views than us?

How do we heal the “divide”?  The racial divide, the political divide, the religious divide? Stop dividing. Hold your own beliefs, and know what they are, but allow other points of view a seat at your table.  Celebrate our sameness… our humanity.

 – Cat