My New Curriculum

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So, we are going to stop teaching cursive handwriting in public school. In New York, we are not going to require a literacy test for teachers, because it’s racist. We don’t teach Civics anymore, so students become adults that don’t really understand how government works. No Home Economics, No Shop Class… Sexist, and besides, who needs to cook or make stuff?

 
I’m not saying that everything was perfect with the education we got in high school in the seventies, but what are we replacing these courses with? Are we improving the courses that are offered? Or are we just removing stuff that might offend people?

 
Well, I’ve got some ideas about courses that should be offered front and center for kids. I haven’t decided whether we should wait until high school for some of these topics, but it’s a start.

 
1. Time Management
How useful would it be to teach kids this life skill? You need this training, whether you’re college bound, or entering the work force. Some people don’t get the whole “come to work on time” thing. I’m much better at time management than I used to be. But imagine what a star I would be if I had time management training in high school. I would have used that every day, unlike those advanced math classes.

 
2. Personal Finance
This class should run for at least two semesters, because… bullet points

 
• Saving and Investing
• How to Buy a Car
• Managing Your Credit Score
• Renting vs Buying a Home
• How to Start a Business
• Building a Budget
• Taxes

 
I wish I learned all this in high school, as opposed to the school of hard knocks.

 
3. Civility
If we can’t have Civics, can we have Civility? If you don’t understand the government, can you be polite about it? If you do have an understanding of how government works, can you be gracious? If you don’t understand the constitution, can you quit going on about “your” free speech, while denying other people a voice? Yes, we should either bring back Civics, or substitute Civility. Maybe half and half.

 
4. Coping Skills
Ok, this one’s a little vague. You know, what to do when you like someone but they don’t like you back. How to cope with disappointment when you don’t get selected for the team, or the job. It’s okay to be less than 100% all the time. How to replace negativity with positive self-talk. What to do if someone is picking on you, or bullying you. How do you break up with someone without breaking their heart?

 
5. Writing
This is a double-edged sword for me. As a writer, I don’t want the market to go away. On the other hand, people need to know how to write. I guess it’s possible that we can get AI to write for us once the skill has disappeared completely.

 
So, there are my top five recommendations for improved curriculum. I’d love to know if you have any suggestions. What would you like to see added to the curriculum?

 
– Cat

The Confidence Game

Warning! Self-contemplation ahead!

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When you hear the words “con man” or “con artist”, you feel a certain negative “connotation”. A con man earns his reputation, and his living, by taking people into his confidence. He tricks them into believing something that is not true. He swindles others when he plays a confidence game.

Pretty nasty business, huh? But, do we ever need to play a confidence game to get by in life? For as negative as the terms sound here, I’m going out on a limb to say that we need a good old fashioned con game on a regular basis. And, that it can sometimes be the most positive thing we can do in the moment.

What is “acting as if”? Or, how about “fake it until you make it”? These are bits of wisdom and advice that will come from many motivational sources. They are not proposing that we be brutally honest with ourselves. Are we conning ourselves, or is this coping mechanism a necessary part of finding our best self?

We all agree that positive self-talk is critical to our happiness. Negativity gets in the way of every beautiful thing. Positivity is being proactive in our inner game. The inner game is what lies below the surface, as opposed to our outer game. The outer game is what we show other people. They are not always the same.

So, self-confidence is so important to your success in business, and in life. Without self-confidence, you lack the will to move forward on the things you must do to reach your goals. People that are lacking in self-confidence can be paralyzed into inaction.

The con game that is necessary for us to play with ourselves can save us from drowning in a sea of hopelessness. Who doesn’t have self-doubt from time to time? What do we call on to banish self-doubt? That’s right… self-confidence. Believing in ourselves, even when we are unsure. Being kind and forgiving to ourselves, even if we may not feel that we deserve it in the moment. Being brave and pushing on, even when we feel terrified. Allowing ourselves to be flawed, even as we strive for excellence.

How do you build confidence in yourself? If you struggle with it, I think you’re in good company.

– Cat

Working Without a Net

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As many of you know, I’ve been wearing two hats in my work life since the first of the year.  By day, I’ve been working for a large corporation.  In the evenings, and on my days off, I’ve been pursuing my passion as a writer.  I’ve built my business to the extent that time allowed.
The full-time job that I’ve worked at for almost 11 years ended today when my position was eliminated.  I was one of many that were affected.  I’m a firm believer that everything always works out the way it’s supposed to.  I’ve been through some stuff in my life that wasn’t fun and didn’t feel good.  But, I’ve always seemed to make a comeback.  That whole phoenix thing.
So… I now have more time to promote and work my business.  50 hours a week more.  I called this blog “Working Without a Net” because that’s how it feels.  Exhilarating and scary in equal parts.  There are a lot of things I couldn’t do to grow and work my business.  Now I will.
I’ve met a lot of good people at my job, and will keep a lot of friends in my new life.  I’ve learned so much in the past 10 years, and the experience has helped prepare me for this moment.
I don’t have any hard feelings.  I’m feeling bad tonight for all the people who depended on their job to house and feed their family.  It’s a shame that this had to happen today.
It’s amazing how your life can change in one day…
– Cat

 

What’s Holding You Back?

 

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We don’t all strive for greatness.  Some people are content to just put one foot in front of the other.  Getting through the day is important, but it that all there is?

I think that most of us can agree that we need to do a better job with keeping all our plates spinning.  There’s a lot of buzz about work/life balance, but let’s face it; most of us struggle with the juggle.  Special shout out to career minded grown ups with little munchkins at home.

It’s still self-doubt that trips us up in the end.  The negative talk we generate in ourselves can really stifle our dreams.  Like any new habit, resolving to stay positive takes a while to get the hang of, and even longer to make it stick.

There are a million and one excuses and victim statements that keep us from leading the kind of life we want.  We don’t have enough education.  We don’t have enough money.  We don’t have a significant other.  We don’t like our job.  We’re too tired, depressed, angry… whatever.

Are you happy thinking about the reasons you can’t live the life you want?  Or are you ready to actually get started working towards some life goals?  Do you have a clear picture of where you’re going?  Maybe you’re on your way.  If you are, reach down and help the next guy up. We all need encouragement.

This week, try to identify and remove one negative self talk tidbit from your life, and replace it with a new positive affirmation.  If you think it sounds corny, keep doing what you’re doing.  If you’re interested in positive change, give it a try.  It’s free!

-Cat

You Are A Badass… How to Stop Doubting your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life!

I haven’t done a book review on here yet, but I’m stepping out on a limb to tell you about this book by Jen Sincero.  I have the audio version, and get a great coaching now every time I’m in the car!

First Warning – There will be bad language.  Jen gives you the real.  If you have sensitive ears….

Second Warning – I am now unstoppable in my quest to take over the world after hearing this great mix of wisdom and humor.

In this book, she talks about the doubt she had for the self-help community.  She thought that inspirational and motivational quotes were crap.

Right off the bat, she talks about the difference between wanting to change your life, and deciding to change your life.  What a distinction, right?  In my last post, Being Brave, I talked about being cautious vs. being brave.  I love this quote from Anais Nin that Jen used in this book that speaks right to that point.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”

She talks about being a religious and spiritual skeptic.  Like many of us, her views shifted over time.  A lot of her story reminded me of a situation that I dealt with when I owned a service business.

A had an employee with a drinking problem.  I kinda knew, and I kinda didn’t want to know.  Basically, I didn’t want to deal with it.  I had a talk with him about it.  He said he knew he had a problem, and that he was working on it.  When a customer complained, I had to call him into my office.  I realized at this point that having a good talk with him was not going to do anything. 

I let him go, and he was very nice about it.  He said that I had given him chances that nobody else would have, and that he understood my position.  So, I asked him “Have you thought about giving AA a try?”  He responded by saying that he looked into it, but it seemed like they talked about God too much.  I looked him in the eye and said “Sometimes you have to ask yourself… Is my way working?”

Jen transitions nicely from So What? to Game Plan.  She gives a refresher on the importance of mindfulness.  There’s a discussion on using meditation to reach your goals.  Then there’s the chapter called “Gratitude: The Gateway Drug to Awesomeness”.

I had never heard the quote from Albert Einstein:

Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.

Anyway, if you want to feel inspired and motivated to add more of anything positive in your life.  Go buy this book.  Or download it.  I’ll be shameless and add a link.  100 percent recommend it!  Let me know how you like it!

– Cat

 

Being Brave

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It’s hard work, being brave.  I love this quote, because it’s so true.  We do think of Braveheart, or war heroes, and even Merida in the movie BRAVE.  We do think of people without fear, being strong and living their lives, no matter what gets hurled at them.

The truth is, we’re all scared.  Of all kinds of things.  Some people seem scared.  Some people seem brave.  But none of us get out of this life without some hurt, frustration, and self-doubt.

I saw an ad on Facebook… I know, shocker, huh?  It’s advertising jewelry to promote awareness of mental health issues, particularly depression and suicide.  I’m thinking about getting this piece of jewelry.  Because it’s a great cause, and we could use some dialogue.

But really… I want it because on it are the words Be Brave.  I want it to remind me everyday that you’ve got to be brave.  You’ve got to process and deal with whatever crosses your path.  We all need reminding from time to time.

When I think of some of the cancer survivors that I know, I am overwhelmed at how brave they are.  When you lose someone close to you, it takes bravery to get through the following days.  For some people, getting out of bed in the morning is an act of bravery.  I would say that on the bravery challenge sliding scale, I’m someone there in the middle.

Another quote on bravery that really got to me:

“Be Brave.  Even if you’re not, pretend to be.  No one can tell the difference.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

That’s true, though.  By the time you convince others that you are brave, you have almost convinced yourself!

I love the complexity of humans.  Two things strike me in particular:

  • How resilient we are
  • How fragile we are

What makes the difference between bending and breaking?

It’s bravery!

The ability to say “Is that all you’ve got to throw at me, life?”  The  fine art of planning your next bold move while the walls are falling down.  Being a phoenix.

I feel as though I’ve been more cautious than brave as I moved through life.  I’ve paid the price for that too.  Some people do see me as brave.  I hope I’ve got them fooled, since that means I’m on my way to actually being brave!

– 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

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

One Foot in Front of the Other

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We all encounter dark days as we take this journey through life.  Sometimes we feel as though we just can’t take any more.  It is during this time that you have to keep pushing, even if you don’t see the point.

The point is that this is the ebb and flow of life.  Nobody escapes the roller coaster effect.  Sometimes you are traveling down a path and something happens to force a fork in the road.  Decision time.  Sometimes you reach a corner, and there seems to be a signpost.  One side says “Your Life Now”, and the other says “No Longer an Option”.

Sometimes you walk through a door, then turn back only to find the door is locked.  Okay… enough gloomy examples.  What I want to you remember is that, no matter what, keep putting one foot in front of the other.  There is a light, and you will find it.  But you must keep moving forward.

If you feel as though this doesn’t apply to you, and that you’ve got everything figured out, more power to you!  Most people who I’ve met will struggle from time to time.  Tell us the secret in the comments section of this post.  I have these dark days too.  I’m not saying I have everything dialed in.  I’m just sharing what I’ve learned in the hopes that it will help you.

I think the critical issue is faith.  I don’t necessary mean faith in God, or in a higher being, although that will work well.  Let’s call it the faith that things will work out exactly like they’re supposed to.   We can all agree that it’s hard to know whether something is a blessing or a curse until you’re on the other side of it.  Sometimes you never find out.

If you are a person that prays, how many times have you caught yourself praying, “Here’s my problem, God, and here’s how you need to fix it!”  We run into trouble when we assume that we know the big picture.  That’s impossible for anyone to know, as our lives are revealed to us bit by bit, not on a big map or relevant timeline.

Yes, make goals for yourself.  Yes, have dreams and work towards fulfilling them.  Give yourself that sense of direction.  But, for every disappointment, or setback you perceive, have faith and keep it going, step by step.  If you see that someone else has stumbled, pick them up and remind them to keep going.  Offer encouragement where you can.  There are plenty of opportunities to go around.

Accept encouragement from others.  You deserve it.

Keep it going!

– 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