My New Curriculum

book-15584_1280
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

My Muse

relationship-2005175_1280

So, if you look up the definition of the word “muse” as a noun, it will tell you that a muse refers to “a person- especially a woman- who is a source of artistic inspiration”. If you look at the word “muse” as a verb, it means to “consider something thoughtfully”.

 
Thank goodness, we’ve thrown gender roles out the window, since my muse is a man. At the risk of sounding sappy, he is my verb and my noun.

 
Anybody that knows him would tell you that he’s not always the easiest person to get along with. Heck, he’ll tell you that himself. But, he’s usually right, and he is definitely the yin to my yang.

 
He is supportive of my choice to be a writer. In fact, he rarely reads anything I write. It’s not because he’s not interested. He doesn’t want his opinions to taint my writing style. He has confidence in my ability to get my point across, and will not proofread my work. My muse challenges me to get better every day, and that encourages me to work towards doing so.

 
He will help me with the organization of my business and my production schedules, which is so helpful to me. He is supportive as I navigate through the learning curves that are inevitable with any business. Although he has been dreaming of retirement, he has delayed that dream while I establish my career.

 
So, while other writers, artists, painters, and musicians may be inspired by whimsy and beauty, I am inspired by a strong and steady muse. And, I am ever so grateful.

-Cat

 

 

Balancing Creativity with Practicality or… How I Got My Groove Back!

pencil-918449_1280

As a writer, there is one thing I have to do without fail… write! As I gain experience, I am meeting a lot of aspiring writers that don’t sit down and write. They talk about writing, take courses about writing, ask for advice on getting clients to buy their writing.
I haven’t been in the game long enough to consider myself an expert. That’s why I was flattered recently, when I had one would-be writer ask me to coach them. I said I would look at their work. They replied that they were just getting started and hadn’t written anything. I have to admit, that one stumped me.
So, now I make my living as a writer. Writing is no longer my hobby, it’s my job. It’s my only job. I will make it or break it on my own efforts. I’m learning a lot about the creative process, because I have to pay attention to those things now. I am also learning a great deal about a lot of topics, because I never know what I will be researching and writing about. It’s a lot of intellectual stimulation, but I like to think I’m up to the job.
I write every day. Sometimes I write all day. But, I rarely write for myself these days. I love writing for my clients, but I am hereby, right now… renewing my commitment to my blog. It doesn’t matter if you read it or not. I’m writing it. I’m surprised at the people who ask me about it, or tell me how much they’ve enjoyed it. It’s difficult to know sometimes if you have any readers.
I’m going to assume that you’re reading, and I’m going to write. My father, who is 83 years old and lives nine hours away, checks his computer to catch up with me through my blog. My Mom and Stepdad take my temperature through my blog, and they have a chuckle as I recount some family stories. I’m not sure why I slowed down. But, just to warn you… I’m back!
-Cat

Quotable Quotes

wp-1479512997111.jpg

I’m not sure why he came to mind tonight, but he is a person that I treasure in my memories.

I graduated from high school early, when I was sixteen years old.  The only way you could do this at the time was to take Summer School English.  Senior English was always British Literature. I had taken a lot of English courses, even English electives, throughout high school.  But, nothing in my education remains with me like the Summer of Mr. Meehan.

The students in this class couldn’t have been more different from one another.  People graduating early, people repeating the course after failing.  I befriended a girl that was pregnant after her Junior year. Going to high school while pregnant just wasn’t done back then.  So, we all had different reasons for winding up in Mr. Meehan’s class. Because it was Summer School, it was a concentrated course, every day for three hours.

He was a big fan of Marshall McLuhan, and was fond of reminding us that “The Medium is the Message”.  He loved photography.  He was devoted to his wife, and talked about her often.  But, one of the things I loved most about the class was that every day, everyone had to bring in a “Quotable Quote”.  So, here were teenagers from all types of backgrounds, finding meaning through words every single day.  I did not understand how powerful that was at the time.  We would start class by going around the room, sharing a quote.

Mr. Meehan retired in 1995 from teaching.  I looked him up online, and found his obituary from 2007.  It was on a Washington Post archive page, sandwiched between two ads for a Jeep Renegade.  Ironic… the medium is the message.  I’m not sure how he would have felt about that.  He did have a great sense of humor.   There were lots of students who poured out their hearts in the guest book on his obituary.  So, I know I’m not alone when I say he played a big part in my education and love for language, words, literature, and quotable quotes.

Here’s one for the road:

Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.  – Malala Yousafzai, activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.

Goodnight, Harry *

-Cat

Coming Home

wp-1487721196058.jpg

 

It’s just about time to start thinking about making arrangements and plans for Summer vacations… if you’re the planning type.    With a mild winter here in the mid-atlantic states, it feels like Spring already.  We went away this past weekend.  Not a huge vacation, just a long weekend getaway.

It always feels good to take a break.  There’s an old saying of UK origin, “A Change is as Good as a Rest”.  It’s unclear who said this first.  Some think it came from Arthur Conan Doyle, and we know that Winston Churchill said it.  Anyhow, that applies to our weekend adventure.

I’ve taken a little time off from my day job.  We went to Williamsburg. We like to go there, and we visit at least once a year.  We have our places we like to go, our meals we like to have, and our shops we like to visit.

Have you ever wondered why it seems to take no time at all to get to your vacation destination?  It takes forever to get back home again.  Is it the excitement of getting away that distracts you, as you travel towards your vacation destination?  Are you just over it all on the way home?  Is it just me, or does everyone experience that?

I love to go away, but you know what I love even more… coming home. No matter how nice a place is, or how much you enjoy it, there’s nothing like sleeping in your own bed.  For me, there is a certain contentment I feel with my life and my home.  I certainly don’t get to see my kids or grandkids every day, but I miss them more when I’m away.  It’s kind of a vague feeling of not being accessible, I guess.

As my writing business grows, it occurs to me that I can do this anywhere.  I work remotely, and this weekend I was able to accept and work on assignments on the fly.  It is exhilarating to have that freedom.  So much so, that it doesn’t even feel like work to me.  I am passionate about writing, and enjoy the varied assignments I’m lucky enough to work on.

So… If you follow my blog, and wonder where I’ve been, all is well.  I’m just writing to build my business.  I love this blog, though, so bear with me while I get things organized.  We’re about to discover all the mysteries of the universe!

-Cat

Side Hustle

wp-1486605711429.png

That’s what Urban Dictionary calls it.  Your part-time job, alternate income stream, consulting, or in my case, freelancing.  What do you call what you do… aside from your “day job”?

A lot of people who I work with during the course of my day have something else that they do on the side.  These are people that make a good income, but want to develop something of their own.  We can be so creative, and the ideas that we have are so varied, that at times, they can support one another.

My passion is my freelance writing.  Most of the work I’ve been doing is in the B2B sector.  That means that my Side Hustle is to help your Side Hustle grow and prosper with business writing.  So many people have a fear of writing, or they know that it’s not their strength.

There is such a need now for business writing.  Do you have a website?  Of course you do!  How’s the content working for you?  How are you driving people to it?  Do your emails hit the mark?  What about your bio… or your direct mail campaign? Your social media marketing?  It can all be overwhelming, and to worry with all this stuff while you’re trying to do… what you are trying to do… can be too much.  It’s easy to get mired down with the details of it all.

Maybe you’ve managed to turn your passion into your “real job”.  If you’ve got that entrepreneurial spirit.  There’s nothing more rewarding than going to work everyday, doing what you love, in a business that you created.  Most people think that being a business owner means having a ton of money and spare time.  In most cases, I’d say nothing could be farther from the truth.

Owning a business, and developing it into a successful venture, is hard work.  My oldest son, and his wife, both have businesses. He builds custom furniture, and she’s a photographer.   My youngest son has a side hustle as well, working as a videographer and video editor.  My daughter in law bakes and decorates cakes on the side.  Like my writing, these jobs provide a creative outlet.  A little extra cash never hurts, either.

What’s your passion… your side hustle?

– Cat

 

 

 

 

 

Being Left-Handed…It’s Not Just About Scissors!

Most right-handed people will probably skip over this post.  They most likely feel like it doesn’t have anything to do with them.  Most of us left-handed people won’t notice.  We’re used to people ignoring our left-handedness.

At work, I move the mouse over to the left side on shared computers when I’m using them.  Yup, I want to use the mouse with my left hand.  I don’t move it back to the right when I’m done.  I figure that you might have to move it if you use a computer after me.  But, consider that I have to move it EVERY time I use the computer, because it’s never set up on the left.

Most of you righties think that being left-handed is about comfortable scissors for us. And a lot of it is.  Maybe you think about desks in school.  If you’re not first in the classroom to claim a left handed desk, it’s tough making a go of writing assignments.  Do they still use pens and pencils in schools?  If they do, it might interest you to know that you can buy left handed writing sets on Amazon.  If you love a lefty, you can buy them a complete left handed College Set (Also available for left handed middle schoolers).   I didn’t even know that was a thing.

Other things you might not know were available for left-handed people:

  • Notebooks – YES!  I use one that’s bound at the top
  • Kitchen Utensils (?)
  • Can Opener – Good Idea
  • Tape Measure – (?)
  • Guitar – Okay
  • Watch – Not Sure
  • Computer keyboard (Numbers on Left)
  • A Left Handed Saute Spoon (from Le Creuset) ???
  • Holster – Makes Sense
  • Playing Cards (?)
  • Mouse – YAY!
  • AND…Chopsticks for Left Handed Children

Obviously, a lot of its marketing.  But there are some great ideas there.  So… being left-handed is a different mindset.  You are often the odd man out.  You may adapt, but some things are awkward.

You want to arrange your kitchen differently than the rest of the world.  When a look at a magazine, I like to browse from back to front.  With a juicy gossip magazine, it doesn’t make any difference, since the stories are two pages tops.  Bowling balls are tough, believe it or not.   You do, in fact, drag your hand through ink when writing. The alternative is making people stare as you exhibit the left-handed writing contortion technique.  Then, your hand stays clean, but you get cramps in weird places.  I prefer inky.

wp-1484961571420.jpg

My Mom is left-handed.  None of my kids are left handed except for my stepson, Andrew.  My Stepfather is left handed.  When my Mom was growing up, they smacked you on the hands at school if you were left handed.  I’m glad they stopped that by the time I went to school.

When people notice that you’re left-handed, they feel obligated to remark on it.  It’s usually “You know what they say… left handed people are in their right mind.  HaHaHa!”  Here’s the joke I tell to left handed people who I meet:

“You know what they say about right-handed people?”

“nothing”

– Cat

Review, Reflect, Reinvent, Resolve

wp-1483153083352.jpg

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

Writing Prompts

wp-1481166168217.jpg

I started my blog about a month ago.  When I was thinking about it, I asked myself “What would I even write about?”  I started writing stuff down, and in about ten minutes I had about sixty topics.  So, I decided to give it a go.

As I traveled across the World Wide Web, looking for ideas to improve my writing, I came across “Writing Prompts”.  I came to realize that there are quite a few ideas for writing out there.  I’m amazed by the wealth of topics that are suggested.

Here’s the weirdest thing about Writing Prompts.  When I look at them, they say something like:

Incorporate the following items into your story – a can of tuna fish, a rusty bicycle, and a spatula.

Or,

You are time traveling and end up in a McDonalds in the year 2093.  What happens next?

So, I don’t even start thinking about the writing prompt.  I just read it. When I do, I get the idea to write about the dynamics of a fishing trip I couldn’t go on, or vinyl record albums, or wine, or encouraging other people.  You get the idea.

I’m wondering if this is how writing prompts work?  It never makes me write about the actual prompt. But, it does “prompt” me to create a topic and think about what I want to say.  That’s a little piece of magic to me.

For other writers out there, do you use writing prompts?  If so, do you take them literally, or do they just help with your creativity?

For people out there that follow my blog, but aren’t interested in writing… First of all, thank you so much for following me!  I’m sorry to pause for technical reasons with this post.  My next post is going to be amazing!

– Cat