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Cathi's Place has original short stories, games, Canadian-Friendly shopping,
poetry, and Cathi's Comments.

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I post my most recent short stories, artwork, essays, and poetry at mrssauga.wordpress.com. This site is way overdue for a major overhaul, stay tuned!

December 31, 2021

I’ve been trying to find a word that would best describe 2021 for me and I think equilibrium just about covers it.  It’s been a time of finishing off or starting to finish off things that have dogged me for years.  There’s been some form of resolution – whether actual or my acceptance of what is.  I’m in a much better place mentally and emotionally than I have been in what? 5 years?  So it’s been healing.  There’s a lot of areas I was trying to heal, and it’s kind of ironic that in year two of a pandemic my own personal healing has accelerated. 

You see for me, coming into this pandemic my life was a shambles and I was trying to pick up the shards of irretrievably lost (or so it seems) things:  relationships, status, my heart – I lost so many people and pets over those 5 years leading up to 2021.

My career had been on a downhill slide for quite a while and at times it felt like I was subtly being nudged towards a retirement I couldn’t afford. Doors start closing when you hit 50, I have learned. Hasn’t stopped me from trying and applying for jobs though.

My life situation was confusing and strange with people who chose to make up their own minds about how my life is without asking me (hint:  they’re wrong).  But unread letters won’t provide answers and me railing about being called my former no-longer-legal married name from 20 years ago doesn’t help anything.  I will defend the provenance of my legal name, my relationship status, and my history if need be, but I’m not worrying about this anymore.  Life is for the here and now, not old angry memories.

If you’re wondering, I’m not concerned that writing comments like this could deepen the rifts because I’m not naming names and they won’t read this anyway.  If they did maybe it would open a respectful dialogue; reality is, they aren’t interested. And I’m okay with that.  This is just me echoing off a canyon in my soul.

One revelation I came to this year and I feel good about is that in the end, this is my life.  Mine.  So I get to tell it the way that I’ve lived it, other peoples’ opinions be damned.  I think I’ve spent way too much time trying to please other people, which is fine unless it becomes you trying to live your life that way.  It’s inauthentic:  you can’t please everyone and in doing so you can lose who you really are.

I’m a writer, painter, singer/songwriter (though sadly quite rusty in this department right now).  That’s who I am.  Everything else I do is purpose driven or emotion driven. 

There are two creative things in my life that for emotional reasons I just couldn’t finish.  One is a painting of a photograph I took of a little boy in a raincoat splashing in puddles after a heavy rainfall.  I loved that photo – it spoke of a special time in my life.  I had started painting it thinking maybe it was one I could sell or maybe I should keep.  But a life event made continuing with it too painful.  I put it away out of sight for a couple of years because it hurt just to see it. 

This year though I felt it was holding me back – there are several other paintings and illustrations I want to do and this unfinished business was crippling my ability to do that.  No more, I decided.  Come hell or high water, I was going to finish it.  And you know what?  I did.  It hangs on my wall because I have a right to enjoy the memory of that moment in my life.  I’m happy it’s there.  I am also planning other paintings now, time permitting.

The other thing that is kind of holding me back is a book I started before my mother was diagnosed with dementia but it took on a whole new aspect when she was.  The book is about a man who visits his mother for Thanksgiving one year and realizes she has dementia and shouldn’t be on her own – how to cope with that, which for him was a couple of weeks that turns into years and what it does to his life and his view of himself.  I had to stop writing it – it was too painful, and after my mom passed I couldn’t read any of it, it hit too close to home. 

Last year I tried, got a little further in writing, then got to a point that had me in tears.  This year though, I tackled it differently.  I decided I should edit what I’ve already written which made me question the format of the timing and noticing several detail mistakes in characters that need fixing so there’s that.  But in reading it now I think I can finish this once I’m comfortable with the major edits that need doing first. 

But before I came to these conclusions about my in-progress work, I had a crisis this year where I felt there was no way I could continue with any of my creative endeavors.  I didn’t have time to finish or start anything and here it was, my entire life going nowhere with these things even though I’ve been published and won awards.  Awards don’t mean anything though, not really.  Selling and eyeballs on your work, that does.  I was thinking that if nobody gives a damn about it, why should I? 

I started to rewrite my website to be a one-page farewell.  I took all my paintings off the walls, stopped short of throwing them and my supplies out (I almost did – they went in bags), instead choosing to put them out of sight.  I decided that if nobody cared then neither did I, but maybe I could give them to someone. 

The blank walls felt empty.  I thought, why take down my history which is what my website is, why not just leave it? If nobody is interested, well, I am.  Slowly I reminded myself – I don’t do these things for other people.  I do them for the love of doing them and shutting that door, however softly, hurt a lot.  I came to an understanding that this is another area in my life I have to say:  who cares?  I do, and that’s what matters.

That was the nudge I needed to finish the painting that now hangs on my wall with the rest of them, restored to their places.  My website?  It still needs a major revamp but it’s not been taken down, not yet anyway.   Like so many things web programming is something I haven’t had time to do.  Someday.

The downward slide in my career stopped this year with an appointment from a pool I was in that ended my many years of assignments between 3 different employers at that level and giving some stability in my finances, which was a huge relief.  Having fewer expenses with working from home also has helped with my tackling bills that went back years; I even paid off two major ones that had haunted me.  Doing that also means the others are disappearing.  I still need a new vehicle (ours runs but is 11 years old and is on borrowed time I think).  I also still have one major thing to pay off.  But the end is sight and the relief of that is enormous.  Jim got his US pension finally and as a thank you, he bought me the heat pump I’d been dreaming of installing.  So, yay on these fantastic developments too.

I end this year on these high notes, fully vaccinated and boosted, going with the flow of the waves of the pandemic and regardless of what’s happening outside, moving forward here.  With writing I finally got the I Ching Jukebox paperback out, and now have to see why Off-Air isn’t showing on Amazon (it should be – it is available on Lulu).  I didn’t submit much this year because I did so much last year however, I do want to finish the novel I’ve nearly done, finish my book of essays, and my short story book.  That’s my challenge for 2022. 

I also want to do at least one or two paintings and make headway with my children’s book The Troll of Barondale as an illustrated book and hopefully animated one if I can find the right inexpensive program to create it in.  But that’s getting back to my computer programming which I’ve sadly let slide since moving to New Brunswick.  We’ll see.  

Other things I hope is to end is this now 9-month plateau of weight loss – I hate to think that 1200 calories a day has become my maintenance number, but I am exercising daily as much as I have time to do (1/2 hour to an hour a day).  Not sure what else to try but at least I reached the weight I was before the 5 years when my life went to hell and I gained 20 pounds.   Now I’m trying to get back to normal weight then the weight I’ve been most of my adult life.  Fingers crossed I find that answer this year – if you’re wondering I’m following Noom which is a good, healthy program – I’m not a fan of omission or single element focused diets, it’s not sustainable.  The plateau is something I’m doing or not doing; I just haven’t figured out what.

Looking at the bigger picture, there are lessons in the pandemic that I hope people will learn.  While it is forcing society to look at some things that had lurked under the surface such as long-term care homes and how they are managed, the cost of working versus not, job stability, financial social safety nets, the supply chain and where our food and goods come from, it’s also at a deeper level in that it’s forcing us to re-evaluate our lives and the people in them, the jobs we do, what we truly want in life.  It’s hard, but these are good things to look at and hopefully improve. 

What has gotten worse though is division between people because of ideology and the politicization of things that really shouldn’t be politicized.  Skepticism of facts based on data versus ideology became dangerous on Jan 6th in the US and I don’t know how we, the society of the world, can reign in this culture of non-acceptance of data in favour of belief that is happening everywhere.  Science shouldn’t be a belief, neither should numbers. 

How do you convince people to listen when they don’t trust the sources?  There’s a lot of clean up needed in media and reporting but I don’t know how that can happen and still allow opinion – like this piece, for instance.  Maybe by focusing on hate speech and removing that?  The odd thing is that while one side of this bellows opinion being the right of everybody, real human rights are eroding dangerously. Take for instance Texas and the anti-abortion laws they’ve enacted.  There are legitimate health reasons for allowing abortion regardless of the human rights angle but when those hard-won rights are taken away, they are so much harder to get back.  We should be guarding those rights, no matter what our personal beliefs are.  For those of us outside this area, keep a close eye.  This could be the bellwether for what’s to come.  Remember that.

That’s the thing – you are free to believe whatever you want, but when it encroaches on and possibly endangers others’ rights, that’s where I draw the line.  In the bigger picture, and in my own life.

So now we’ve gone full circle.  My final thoughts for this year are:  as always, have compassion and show it.  I don’t mean by saying I love you to everything in your vicinity – that’s not compassion, that’s words.  What I mean is by being a caring person, accepting peoples’ differences and their beliefs and life choices even if you don’t like them.  Listen.  And maybe, just maybe take a few minutes to find out the facts on matters that have empirical evidence.  Lastly, please don’t turn personal opinions into hard core rules for everybody.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion but nobody should have to live by someone else’s opinions.  Take the time to form your own, and stand up for what’s right, even if it means going against the grain.  Be authentic.  The world needs a whole lot more honesty and empathy right now.  Let it start with you.

À la prochaîne, and here’s to a better 2022.

Cathi .....

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My publications!

You can purchase my book of poetry here:
Polaroids Get Yellow

And here's how to buy "I Ching Jukebox" by Gèneve Blue:
I Ching Jukebox

My most recent novel is "Off-Air" by Gèneve Blue:
Off-Air

Stay tuned, there's more to come!

The pretty pictures and artwork are now on their own page: Art Gallery (I found my cartoons! Amazing Grace is gracing that page now, check it out! Amsterdam Cat also has a larger version instead of just a thumbnail.)

INTERNET TIPS FOR NEW USERS

Talerocker~Dreamcat Design page


My Web Store, new on Café Press! http://www.cafepress.com/cathisplace.

My Storefront on Lulu has paperback and hard cover versions of what I do plus works by Gèneve Blue: http://www.lulu.com/shop

Jim Wellington's (aka Talerocker)'s page: http://www.aerendel.ca

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This page was last updated: January 1, 2022