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

My Muse

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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!

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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

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

 

Networking

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I attended an event at the local chamber of commerce today.  It was about networking and it made me think of the importance of good old face to face meetings… remember them?

I know that we’re supposed to use all this technology we have at hand, and I have to admit that it’s great. Social media, blogging, websites, webinars… all good stuff.  But, there’s a lot to be said for getting to know someone’s handshake.  It’s kinda cool to see their facial expressions.  To laugh together at something funny, as opposed to typing “lol”, or my favorite “Hahaha”.

So, there is a ton of information out there about networking.  The presentation I went to today was very informative and enjoyable.  I was, of course, networking at the networking presentation.  lol

Years ago, I was reading about networking, and I loved this piece of advice.  Don’t network by talking about yourself.  Network by listening and asking questions.  The premise is… If you’re interested in other people, they will find you interesting.  That is, ask them about their business.  Follow up with a question about what they just told you, or a general business question.

I’ve found this to be true, for the most part.  Of course, you want to answer questions, but focus on listening.  Yes, your elevator speech is important.  But not as important as using your active listening skills when they are giving you their elevator speech.  After all, you already know about yourself.

Something I picked up today that I thought was great.  When you’re at a networking event, you might be feeling weird about talking to people you don’t know. Notice the person that’s off to the side, feeling awkward like you, and talk to them.  You’ll both feel relieved, and you won’t have to worry about interrupting a conversation.

Think of ways to be a matchmaker with people who you meet. Introduce them to each other.  Consider strategic pairings… power partners.  Once you’ve met people who can complement each other’s businesses, put them in touch.

How do you feel about networking in person?  Is it a thing of the past, or does it still have value in today’s business environment?

-Cat

Coming Home

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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

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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.

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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

Writing Prompts

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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

Diva Dorreen

Diva…what does that mean?

My friend Dorreen had a birthday yesterday.  She’s the kind of friend that you have a “sister” connection with.  We don’t talk that often, but in the 9+ years that I’ve known her, it’s always good when we do get a chance to catch up!  You never have to wonder about how she’s feeling at any given moment.  She is accessible, and always up front when she speaks.

I want to say how much I admire her tenacity.  She’s been faced with life threatening illness and major surgery, along with the rest of all the stuff that we go through as parents and grandparents…and she always puts on a brave face.  Anything she decides to do, she goes right ahead and does it!

A while ago, she decided she’d like to write a romance novel.  Done!  Then she wrote another one!  Bam! Her novel sells on Amazon.  Her pen name is  Diva Dorreen, and she is a force to be reckoned with.  Even though I’ve decided to take a try at blogging, I am pretty sure I would have to move mountains of self-doubt and uncertainty to tackle such a big project.

What an inspiration for so many people who have you in their lives to one extent or another.  Shine on, Dorreen!  Whenever I hear the word Diva, I’ll have the image of you in my head and a smile on my face!

–  Cat