In the Year 2000

 

When I was a kid in elementary school, most people had a TV in their home, but not everybody did.  I guess that’s why they trotted us down to the school auditorium every so often to watch Walter Cronkite.  He narrated a show called “The 21st Century”.  The show was, at first, called “The 20th Century” and took a look at history.  It changed in 1967 to “The 21st Century”, a show about the future.  I found and attached this YouTube clip so you can check it out.

It’s a funny video to watch, and it’s interesting to see what they got right and what they missed the mark on.  It seems to me that some of the things we see today are way ahead of where they thought we would be.

Somethings though… Where is this 30 hour work week that was coming along with  the increased technological advances?  The thing I’m most disappointed with…  No flying cars.  There wouldn’t be any traffic jams in the year 2000.  We would all be driving flying cars to relieve the road system.

Now I’m asking you to think of a time you were in a traffic jam.  We have them every day here in the Washington, DC, area.  Realistically, I don’t think we’d be better off if everyone was flying, instead of driving, in most scenarios.  Anyway, I feel like I Walter lied to me.

The future is hard to predict.  I remember selling computers in the nineties.  Most people were buying their first home computers. The knowledge and familiarity were just not there.  People would come in and say “My kid needs a computer for school”.  It’s the same as people who come into a cell phone store now and say “My grandkid says I need an iPhone.”

I can’t be too hard on Walter.  3D printers are $3500 now.  I guess it won’t be long before they’re affordable and we all have one.  If you try to think fifty years into the future, I’ll bet you don’t know the half of it.  It would be interesting to write down your predictions and revisit them in fifty years.  I don’t have that kind of time, but maybe you do.

It’s hard to believe that we’re getting ready to ring in 2017!  When I was a kid, 2000 was way in front of us.  Now, the Year 2000 is long gone.

Happy New Year!  Have a great 2017! I hope we get flying cars soon.

– Cat

Review, Reflect, Reinvent, Resolve

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I’ve seen so many posts on social media in the past few weeks.  It seems like so many people are just over 2016.  Lots of folks are saying that 2017 has to be better than 2016.  Is one year better than the rest, or is every year what you make of it?

The title of this post lists the four things I like to do over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.  For some people it’s a time to party hard.  I prefer to use the time for marking progress and moving on.  Of course, I like to celebrate as much as the next person! As the new year begins, though, I like to start with a sense of purpose.

Review

When you’re reviewing 2016, be mindful of the ups and don’t focus on the downs.  There will be plenty of tough spots in every year.  Rent them… don’t make a long-term investment in them.

Reflect

Spend some time reflecting on your accomplishments and your opportunities during the past year.   Bask in the sunlight of your achievements.  You really did a great job in a lot of areas last year!  Maybe everything didn’t go as planned. But let’s face it, some things went extremely well.  What would you like to change?

Reinvent

If anything were possible, what would you work towards in the coming year?  What’s keeping you from getting where you want to be? Use this precise moment when the year changes to reinvent yourself. You’re in charge of creating the life you want!

Resolve

Set your mind where you want to go, and fix your sights on it.  Then turn your feet in that direction and start moving.  Don’t allow yourself to be distracted.  This is not a dress rehearsal… this is your one shot! It’s go time!  2017

If you think that this sounds like a pep talk, it is!  It’s my new and improved 2017 pep talk to myself.  I’m sharing it with you, because I suspect you need a pep talk too!  If you don’t… tell me how you figured it out!  If you do, you can borrow mine, or create your own.  But whatever we do,  we won’t let life “happen” to us in 2017!

– Cat

Where Does All That Stuff Go?

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This may seem like a weird title when the topic is metaphysical.  But it’s the question my husband had when his Dad passed.   What happens to “us” when we die?  We know that there are only a couple of options for our body once it has lost it’s usefulness.  But, that’s not what I’m talking about here.

We are preparing for the changing of the guard here in America.  There is a lot of talk about President Obama’s “legacy”.  What will he be remembered for?  What will we be remembered for when we leave this earth?  What about our legacy?

If you think about it, we are really only remembered for a few generations.  Unless you come from a lineage that has a famous, or infamous person, the memory of you only goes so far.  What can you tell me about your great-grandmother, or your great-great-grandfather?  Maybe you have some scraps of information.  But, I’ll be willing to bet that you couldn’t write a biography.

So, all the jokes we tell, the meals we share with family and friends, the knowledge we gain, the lessons we learn, our longing, our passion, our joy.  Where does that stuff go?

If you’re from a religious background, you’ll probably explain that it goes to heaven.  You might say that it gets recycled, and we’re reborn into another body.  You may think that we become ghosts, or spirits that roam the earth.  I’m not into zombies, but maybe you are.  Do we just cease to be, once people don’t remember us? Are we dispersed throughout the universe, Carl Sagan style?

That thought just makes life seem silly, the way most of us live.  Reaching for more of everything.  More love, more money, more happiness, more fame.  Whatever your “more” is, you’re probably pretty serious about it.

We worry about being late for the dentist.  We worry about paying our bills.  We worry about our health.  We worry about our job.  A hundred years from now, what will be the result of all that worrying?  It’s a pretty safe bet that it will not feature in the future landscape of life.

One minute we’re doing our makeup, cleaning our car, getting groceries… the next, dead.  There are quite a few sites, blogs, articles, etc. on living a “mindful life”.  I envy people who feel especially “mindful”, or that cultivate “mindfulness” in their lives.  I think that most of us don’t have things dialed in to that extent.  I know I don’t.

As you age, life becomes less and less like Summer vacations were when you were in elementary school.  Remember the long expanse of Summer?  You become more and more aware of the passing of time, and the value of it.  Probably because there is less of it in front of you, and more of it behind you.

I know that as a Grandmother, I tend to think “I haven’t seen Oscar in a month… a lot will have changed.”  Seeing my grandkids grow makes me more and more aware of how things tend to happen fast in life.  Ten years ago, I didn’t have any grandchildren.  Five years ago, I had two.  Today, I have six, and my seventh on the way!  Things move at the “speed of life”!

I guess that the object of the exercise is to reach the finish line with as few regrets as possible.  It’s so tricky, though, when you don’t know where the finish line is.

“We are like butterflies that flutter for a day and think it is forever.” – Carl Sagan

-Cat

The End of the Year

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Well, Christmas is over, and onward we march into the new year in a few days.  Anybody remember when we partied like it was 1999?  A lot of people shared prophecy that the world would end when the clock struck midnight, and the year 2000 started.  The panic of Y2K.  As it turned out, it was a lot of fuss over nothing.

Every year, it seems like Christmas is coming somewhere up ahead in the future.  Then, all of a sudden it’s here.  Then, just as quickly, gone.  Some folks feel a bit of sadness when Christmas passes, after all the buildup.  My birthday falls between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, so I feel like it’s a celebration all week!

Now that my kids are grown, Christmas reinvents itself every year.  Some traditions stay, and some fade, as others emerge.  When I think of Christmas ten years ago, life has completely changed.  We’ve lost a few people, and gained quite a few new lives.

Now, it’s time to reflect on the dreaded resolutions.  This year, I feel like I have a million and one things that I want to do differently, or be better at, in the new year.   I’m still working on my final picks, since I can’t narrow it down.

I have:

Writing Goals

Health Goals

Family Goals

Career Goals

They are all urgent, so I will have to give them all a place in the resolution arena.  I tend to make big, chunky resolutions that I abandon, usually in January.  You know what they say about good intentions.  I give myself credit for trying again every year.  I need to set attainable goals, and break down the huge goals into little bites.

Do you make resolutions?  Can you stay committed to them?  Do you have any secrets to share about how you reach your year-long goals?

I hope that everyone had a beautiful Christmas.  If you don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope you’re enjoying the end of the year.  Let’s make 2017 the best year ever!

– Cat

Keeping Christmas in My Heart

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I love the quote written by Charles Dickens in his famous book, A Christmas Carol.

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.  I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future.  The spirits of all three shall strive within me.  I will not shut out the lessons that they teach”

Most of us are familiar with a movie by the same title.  My husband, Iain, is a big fan of this movie.  I should say “these” movies, because he watches various interpretations during the holiday season.  He likes the older versions, and loves the Disney one, with Jim Carrey in it as Scrooge.

We watch a lot of holiday movies at Christmas time.  The old favorites, Holiday Inn, and White Christmas, are always watched in the run up to the big day.  We like some of the newer ones, too.  Polar Express has become an annual tradition. We’re guilty of tuning into the Hallmark Channel for the smoochy Christmas movies.   A Christmas Story, and my favorite, It’s a Wonderful Life, are usually reserved for Christmas Eve.

We’re not big fans of the “Bob slashes his best friends to bits on Christmas Eve” movies.  Some of the comedies that are Christmas themed are too cynical for us.

But, getting back to A Christmas Carol.  It isn’t really religious, but instead deals with having a kind heart and a good spirit.  This is the part of Christmas that I try to keep in my heart.  It’s about being charitable, empathetic, and connecting with other people.

I feel like this is the part of the holiday that has faded over time.  We all acknowledge that Christmas is over commercialized, but how do we balance that out?  So many things can be distracting this time of year. The calendar fills up fast, and everyone’s busy.  With all the thinking, planning, organizing, spending, partying… how can we keep Christmas in our hearts?

I think that so many people feel emptiness this time of year, when we forget to pause and reflect.  If you are religious, Christmas is a great time to think about your relationship with God.  Allowing yourself to be strengthened by prayer can definitely have a positive effect on your feelings about the season.

If you’re not Christian, you may still be religious or spiritual.  The end of the year is prime time for reflecting on your faith.  A renewal of your dedication to your chosen religion, a reset once a year, can’t hurt… and will most likely help you cope with the holidays.

If you don’t believe in a God, or a higher power, use meditation  to help you clarify your values and beliefs as the year ends.

Consider making these commitments to yourself over the holiday season.  Don’t beat yourself up if you get overwhelmed.  Refer to the quote above.  Scrooge says he will “try” to keep it all the year. He isn’t perfect and neither are you and I.

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays!

– Cat

How Did I Miss That?

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Sometimes, I contemplate experiences that I’ve had in my life. And, I wonder “Why did I take that for granted?”.  It makes me think more about being present, more mindful, in the moment.

Here’s what I mean.  As we age, we pass through different stages in our lives.  Friendships, family, and relationships tend to mutate as you move through the changes.  When you’re single, you tend to gravitate towards single people.  It’s natural to want to be with folks that are living the same lifestyle as you.  You like to do single people things.

When you’re married, or  when you’re a young parent, you will develop friendships with people who are at a similar stage in their life.  You don’t plan for relationships to change, they just do.  You may be close to a friend when you’re both single, going out, doing things together.  Then, when you become a parent, you find that you just don’t have much in common with them anymore.  It’s natural to form new friendships and for these earlier bonds to fade.

It’s a part of life, but it’s still a bit sad.  There’s the saying that some people are in your life for a reason, and some for a season.  Sometimes you’re lucky, and you can find a friend to drag through life with you.  Every once in a while, I mourn for a moment that I took for granted with someone.

In the break room exchanging views on life with Erin. Having lunch with Amy, and taking road trips with Catie. Having ice cream in Scotland with Scott, Lesley and Iain.  Seeing Diane talk in sign language with her customers. The time Travis caught that bird.  The time I laughed so hard with David that we couldn’t finish dinner. I miss all the great bosses I’ve had.  All the amazing coworkers I’ve been blessed with over the years.  Above all, the joys I had with my kids when they were little.  We don’t realize at the time how precious those connections are. 

 It’s not that you “break up”.  Erin and I are still friends.  We just don’t work together anymore.  She lives pretty far away, and is a young mother.  The opportunity to have lunch together and get all the problems of the world settled is just not there.  We don’t even get to talk much.  It feels like those moments are in an alternate universe now.

And, of course, we make new friendships, and connect, and adapt.  I don’t mean to sound so glum.  I don’t think that these thoughts are unique to me.  It’s just a realization that’s part of the aging process, I guess.  Maybe it’s just a case of reminiscing about “the good old days”.  We all do that from time to time.

So… life continues.  That’s beautiful, especially considering the alternatives!  Let’s not get bogged down in stress and schedules.  Let’s be aware of the people and good times in our lives.  We may miss them some day…

– Cat

Great Expectations

 

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So often in life, reality falls short of our expectations.  I think that some people marry because they are in love with the idea of marriage.  The idea of marriage, as it turns out, is a lot different from actually  being in a marriage.

I think that the biggest gap between reality and expectation comes when you have your first child.  When you are expecting… you are “expecting” something in particular.  There is the ideal of a two-way bond between mother and child.  You will know just what to do, and when to do it.  You and your child, in perfect partnership, will form a circle of unconditional love.

Then, you give birth.  It’s a little more uncomfortable than you were expecting.  Most babies cry a lot.  It’s a puzzle that you often can’t put together.  You think you will know just what the baby needs, and how to stop the tears.  Hmmm… not so much.  But, Oh!  Look at that little angel sleeping!  Nap time is indeed magical.

Will you ever sleep again?  Let’s say that your sleep habits are going to evolve for this point on.   Just as you muddle through the days feeling a bit overwhelmed, your baby smiles at you!  And so it goes, as you move through the phases of parenthood.  You are joyful, and tearful, at times.

When I started this blog, I wrote about my friend, Maryann.  She had children older than mine, and used to joke, saying, “It doesn’t get better, it just gets different”.  So true!  Every age brings it own unique challenges and moments of beauty.  It’s an amazing thing to watch your children grow.

Going into it, you think it’s an eighteen to twenty year commitment.  When do you stop worrying?  Well, my first baby is 38 now, and I haven’t stopped yet.  Even when your children are grown up, and have children of their own, you can’t help but think about them and their families.

Another thing that comes completely unexpected when you have your first child.  You finally “get” your own mother.  You understand a lot of her advice, and a lot of her worrying.  It’s definitely an “aha” moment.

I have four children.  With each one, I became a little more familiar with the process, and confident with my parenting skills.  Of course the more children you have, the more “crazy time” you have at your house.  If you have children, I don’t need to explain what that phrase means.

I’ve mentioned before that my daughter is “expecting”.  Since it’s her second child, she knows a little bit more about what to actually expect. She’s a wonderful mother to my grandson, Carl, and I know that her new son will be a blessing to our family!  I also know she will be tired and feel overwhelmed at times.

Some things remain the same, whether you have children or not.  You might be experiencing the ups and downs of marriage.  It doesn’t matter if you are single, divorced, widowed, in love, or lonely… you will have good days and bad days.  The trick is to remember the good days when you’re in the middle of a bad day.

Parenting is an adventure that I can recommend without reservation.  But watch out for those “great expectations”.

– Cat

 

 

Reaching For Joy

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It’s easy to be overcome by events in our lives.  Sometimes, we go through things that are so profound, and so tragic, they can stop us in our tracks.  We may have trouble moving forward again.  People lose loved ones… parents, friends, and children.  Ending a marriage, or losing custody of children  can be devastating.  Stress, depression, and anxiety can bear down like a cloud that will not break.

When you are grieving, other people sometimes decide when it’s time to “get over it”.  When I hear of instances like this, I pause to wonder.  Are we ever supposed to “get over” these life altering events?  Waking up one day during a period of mourning and saying, “there, I’m better now”, seems stranger than a prolonged period of sadness.  It becomes part of who you are.

I think that that’s the key.  Accepting that it is part of your story.  The trick is not letting it define you.  It’s something that you carry with you for the rest of your life, but it’s not the essence of who you are.

We must be kind to ourselves, and allow ourselves to heal.  This recovery usually has some real twists and turns.  I think it becomes difficult to let people in to help.  Often, we feel as though we have to fight these battles alone. It can be hard to reach out to people who can nurture us.

Accepting that you deserve to be happy is tough to do, sometimes.  You may fall short of the mark as you reach for joy, but keep reaching.  Staying positive is crucial.  Twelve step programs advocate taking a “One day at a time” approach.  I’ve written before about my strategy that I call “Keep putting on foot in front of the other”.  Forward motion, however small, is necessary.

The struggle is worth it!

– Cat

Participation Trophies

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Things have changed in a lot of ways since I was a kid.  I’m not athletic.  I was always the last person picked for a team when we played kickball in gym class.  In high school, I managed to duck gym class altogether.  They required one credit, or two semesters, to get your high school diploma.  Because I was graduating early, I took a health class and a psychology class my junior year, and they counted it for gym.  Whew!  That was a close one!

I wanted my kids to take part in sports.  I thought is was important to have all the experiences that went along with competition. I wanted them all to feel comfortable, at ease with winning, losing, and participating.

These days, participation trophies are big.  They don’t even keep score during the games any more.  I’m not a big fan of Woody Allen, who says “eighty percent of life is showing up”.  I am a big fan of Yoda, who says “Do or do not.  There is no try”.  That’s harsh, Yoda.  Which camp are you in?

I think I’m somewhere in the middle here.  As traumatic as my sports career was, I do see the value in athletic competition.  In the traditional sense, I think that learning to lose important.  Learning to win graciously is also critical to success in life.  Participation trophies tend to take away both of those lessons.

If Mom or Dad pay the participation fees, you get a trophy.  It doesn’t matter if you try your best.  If you’re not keeping score, you wouldn’t even know if you won or lost.   If you don’t want to expose your kid to the lessons learned from competition, there are other options.  Teach them about stamp collecting. Pique their interest in astronomy.  Introduce them to meditation, or help them learn another language.  Don’t sign them up to play competitive sports and then insist that they earn a trophy just for being there.

In life, things don’t always go your way.  In fact, they don’t even often go your way.  If you reach adulthood without learning to deal with that, you’re in for a real slap in the face.  When life comes right at you, like it will, you want to have some inkling of how to handle that disappointment.  When you’ve made a mistake, or missed the mark, you need to know how to recognize that.  You need to learn to shake the hand of someone on the “other team”.  When you’ve played hard and won, you know you’re at the top of your game. You need to stay humble, and let other people sing your praises.

– Cat

You Got To Know When to Hold ’em

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My kids read my blog, for the most part.  Sometimes they hit me with “Oh, sorry Mom, I have to catch up”.  One of my sons told me recently that although he enjoys reading my blog, it isn’t edgy.  It’s very “safe” writing.

When he said that, I couldn’t help but think of that old Kenny Rogers song, The Gambler.  In the lyrics, he uses a poker game as a metaphor for life.  I like to think of social media the same way.  Have you ever read something on Facebook that made you cringe?  Sometimes I can’t help but say to myself, “whoa”, “ouch” or the ever popular, “TMI”!

You may think I’m being judgemental, or maybe just mental.  I’m actually empathetic and embarrassed for people who seem to live without boundaries.  You can say I’m hypocritical, since I’m writing this in a blog post.  That’s okay.  See I’ll run that risk, because I feel like this is something that needs to be said.  Maybe you think I’m old-fashioned, or maybe just old.  I’m alright with that too.

It never ceases to amaze me the things that people will post about themselves in a public forum.  It’s as if some people think it’s a form of journaling.  It’s actually the opposite.  While journaling is a private, cathartic exercise,  Facebook is a broadcast medium.  Who will see it?  Well, just about everybody!

I’m not huge on political correctness, but I don’t want to be provocative, or cause hard feelings.  I just don’t need to express myself to that extent, at the risk of hurting someone else.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t have a dark side, or that I’m not opinionated, or that I’m not “edgy” at times.  I just have some modesty and some manners.  I’m not perfect, I’m just not inclined to show off my shortcomings.

You can have a discussion or debate just about anything, without adopting a “me vs. them” attitude.  It’s okay to stick up for yourself, but not so cool to poke someone in the eye.

Like Kenny says, “You’ve got to know when to walk away, and know when to run”.

What do you think?

– Cat