Leaps of Faith

Why should people feel forced to choose between science and religion? I’m going to say that I like a little religion in my science, and a little science in my religion. Lots of people feel that they are mutually exclusive.

 
I believe in God. As I age, my relationship with God has changed. I find that I can easily accept other points of view. It makes me wonder though, even the people who believe in God believe in different interpretations of God. It gets back to putting people in boxes. So, you’re a Christian… are you Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Orthodox, Mormon, seventh day Adventist, Jehovah’s witness? (Sorry if I left your church out) Why do we need God in so many versions? Is it so we can fight over whose God is better?

 
I take this point of view. If you believe in something…good for you! If you don’t believe in something…good for you! The nice thing is, you get to choose. I don’t understand why we have to judge and shame people who have different points of view. We have, throughout history, as humans, managed to kill millions of people because they don’t believe the same things that we do.

 
I want to share a passage that I read tonight in an old self-help book that I bought in the nineties. The book is called Life 101, and the authors are John-Roger (died 2014) and Peter McWilliams. I’m finding myself appreciating the wisdom in this book more and more these days.

 

The doctor who gives a vaccination and says, “Thank God, this child is safe from smallpox,” and the doctor who gives a vaccination and says “Thank Pasteur, this child is safe from smallpox,” give the same vaccination. Some may say that the doctor who gives a blessing is a better doctor, and some may say that the doctor who sticks to medicine is a better doctor, but in either case– thank God and/or Pasteur — the child can be safe.

 
Over time, ideas about religion change. But, at the same time, ideas about science are ever-changing and evolving. The thing that doesn’t change is people. Do we have a compulsion to view everybody with an “us” or “them” mentality?

 
So, these days, my faith is in the belief that everything will work out exactly the way that it’s supposed to. Like my grandson, I’ll stick with believing in God and Evolution.

 
– 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

 

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

Collared Shirts

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Relationships can be fun, and they can be hard work.  The best relationships are a little of both, I would say.  I’m lucky enough to have had two chances at love, and I’m currently married to my perfect match.  That is to say, the Yin to my Yang.

We are definitely different.  I sometimes explain the relationship by saying “He is retired military, and I am not”.  He keeps me grounded and I teach him to laugh at things.  He is common sense, I am whimsy.  He’s a few years older than me.

One thing about this journey we travel together.  It does not involve v-necks, scoop necks, or crew necks. He insists that women of my age should wear collared shirts.  I never saw this one coming 20 years ago.  All I can say is thank God that polo shirts count as collared.

Sometimes I am a real renegade and wear something without a collar.  I will wear a crew neck shirt, for instance, when I’m going to the grocery store by myself.  He’s horrified by what I wear to get a pedicure, my cut off sweatpants and t-shirt.  But when I’m with him, it’s a pretty safe bet that I am wearing a shirt with a collar.

People look at me funny when I say this.  Some roll their eyes, and say that they would never let a man dictate to them what they wear.  It violates a person’s individual rights.  It’s ridiculous! It’s a form of abuse.

Here’s the thing… This is not a battle that I care anything about.  If it pleases him that I dress conservatively, and wear a collared shirt, it is just not a big deal to me.  There are things that mean a lot more, and I will argue until the end on these topics.  Going forward, for the rest of my life, I will only buy collared shirts.

He does some things that irritate me, but not a lot of things, and not a lot of irritation.  I’m sure he would say the same about me.  Most people have qualities that we love about them.  Then they will have some traits or habits… not so much!  On the big issues, we see eye to eye.  We work together on most things.  We didn’t always, but we do now.

He supports my job, he supports my hobby, and encourages me to do everything I want to do.  He doesn’t send me flowers, except sometimes on Valentine’s Day and our Anniversary.   But, he pulled his back out to surprise me with a big, fat Christmas tree this past weekend.  I came home from work, and it was up with lights on it.  Magical!   He sometimes helps me see things from a different angle.  I think that is a big plus.  Two heads are better than one when it comes to a lot of issues.  I persuade him to my point of view on some things.

I don’t have a PhD in psychology. But, I know that when you’re in a relationship, you have to decide for yourself which points are the ones you won’t budge on.  If everything bothers you, and you’re fighting all the time, reconsider your relationship.  If everything is great all the time, you are living in a TV sitcom from the 1950’s. 

Editing this, it looks like a testimony to my relationship with my husband.  The point I am trying to make is that sometimes you have to stand up and make your feelings known.  At other times, you just put on a collared shirt and get on with things.

– 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

 

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

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

Let’s Talk Turkey

It’s getting to be that time of year again.  We’ll all be getting out our “fat pants”.  Don’t roll your eyes and pretend that I’m the only one that has two sizes of pants on hand, just for this season.  Now is when we start to ramp up and get ourselves in perfect position for a strong New Year’s resolution.

Here in America, we kick it all off with Thanksgiving.  According to tradition, most of us have a nice turkey, with all the trimmings.  The other day at work, my friend Ryan asked me if I’d ever heard of turducken.  I have heard of it, but it seems like quite an oddity to me.  Ryan said he was thinking about getting one for Thanksgiving this year.

I’m not that adventurous when it comes to food choices.  As it turns out, turducken is not that unusual.  It’s quite common in other parts of the world.  In case you don’t know, turducken is a turkey that’s stuffed with a duck that’s stuffed with a chicken. In some places they call it a “three bird roast”.   When doing a bit of research before writing this post, I came across many variations.  What do you think about a turbaconducken?  Would you like to have turporken this year?

I guess that some people aren’t crazy about plain old turkey.  Okay.  I am in the group that thinks that you shouldn’t fix stuff that’s not broken.  How far do we have to go to make things more interesting?  I saw one example of turducken that has a quail’s egg cooked inside.  I guess that the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

My daughter-in-law, Amy, is a vegetarian, and so are her sons.  They are not having turducken at their Thanksgiving feast.  They are having tofurkey.  I’ve never tried it, but I haven’t had much tofu, the animal that tofurkey comes from, either.  I can’t say that I don’t like it.  It’s in that same unknown territory as turducken.

So, this Thanksgiving, I’m giving thanks for all the simple joys in life. I know each of us has so much to be thankful for.  There’s one thing in particular that I feel blessed with.  My son-in-law, Richard, is passionate about cooking a big turkey for us all!

– Cat