Making a Difference

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life50 Comments


This past Christmas, Dan wrapped up a small gift to be opened down at his parents’ farm during our family gathering. The gift was a deck of cards called 52 Ways to Make a Difference and it was a fabulous idea, but what happened was that someone opened it while Dan was in another room, and no one knew what to do with it, so it just sort of sat there, intact and unimplemented.

Dan plans to make sure that everyone from his family eventually chooses two cards from the deck to use as both inspiration and goals for the year, in an effort to “make a difference.”

This past weekend, when Dan explained to me the purpose behind the gift, he told me to pick out my cards. I asked if it had to be a blind draw and he said no, just pick two that speak to you. Well, alrighty then, I will.

The process wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped. Let me share with you some of the cards I voted down:

Hello, Nature? Have we met? EXACTLY. I flipped past this one so quickly I nearly gave myself a paper cut. Next.

I'm sorry, but you can pry the Internet from my cold, dead, mouse-clicking hand, thank you very much. And if you think you’re taking Facebook away from me, in the words of Judas Priest, you’ve got another thing comin.’ Next.

I already do this because I never leave the house. There is no need for me to be environmentally friendlier, lunch-wise, than I already am when eating my 5-point lunch on good old fashioned ceramic plates. Unless I were to eat in the nude. But I’m not sure how that would lessen my use of plastic. If anything, it would probably increase my use. Next.

I think we need to be really clear here, because my corner store is Super America, and the only thing they sell is gas, candy and cigarettes. And I don’t think the intention here is for me to start smoking again. But if it “makes a difference,” well, then I may have to reconsider. Next.

Sure. I’ll share. As soon as you up my daily points to 55, Weight Watchers. Next.

You mean less than I shop now? I’ve worked my orange sweatshirt six ways to Sunday. Really. I can’t see how that’s making a difference other than impressing everyone I know with my stellar sense of fashion. Next.

With my neurotic tendencies and early 40s mood swings, I couldn’t say “I’m sorry” more if I tried. In fact, I invented “I’m sorry.” Next.

And so… after a bit of cheekiness (and really, all of the above things are great ideas, with the exception of "Be in Nature"), I did arrive at two that rang true to me. The first one, is this:

8-take care
And the back of this card reads:

Back 1

I couldn't have written it better, with the exception of the line referring to nature. It's exactly one of the things I'm trying to do this year. Take care of me. If mama's good, goodness will flow. Or so it goes.

The other card I chose is this one:

This is something I plan to do, now, today… and to remind myself to do more. I really tend to hole up here in my little world and not reach out more to remind those people who I'm blessed to call friends how much I appreciate them. The back of this card reads:

Back 2

I realize that both of my card choices are much more related to internal differences rather than external ones. But I'm a live from the heart and the gut kind of girl, and they just rang very true to what matters to me right now.

Even without the deck of cards, it's fun to muse about what small differences you can make. No, really. It is. Try it.

But for crying out loud, if you're going to try it in nature, you're on your own.

Cathy ZielskeMaking a Difference

50 Comments on “Making a Difference”

  1. #1

    oh my lord cathy, I was laughing so hard i started crying (which really felt good, i needed that) anyway, I was reading and reading and laughing and laughing wondering if you were going to go through all 52 cards before you found two that “spoke to you”. girl.. you are too too much. have a good nature day. alisa 🙂

  2. #3
    Margaret C

    Please tell Dan that I FINALLY know what to do with those packs of cards that I bought on a whim and then have sat, stacked for TWO years. Your idea ROCKS, Dan !!!

  3. #4

    just a guess here, but wasn’t the whole idea to s-t-r-e-t-c-h yourself? Perhaps wander outside your box for a moment? Not that I blame you for the two cards you took. If i were there, I would drag your carcass out into nature and PROVE to you that it’s not as bad as you think. In fact, much of it is even covered in good ol’ cement, which of course means no slogging, or turned ankles, or even getting lost. just follow the path. And think of it this way: Someone on that path invariably will have tossed some sort of trash. YOU could bend over and pick it up. Goodness and doingness would literally ooze from your flesh. (nodding head vociferously)yah. WAY!

  4. #6

    God you are a little too hysterical for me in the morning…(reference – spitting out hot liquids at new flat screen monitor)…remember Cathy, some of us are on PST!!!

    Great post.

  5. #9

    i am totally with you on the whole nature thing. my bff LOVES camping and i refuse to go with her. i say that camping should involve a hotel that doesn’t have cable. i mean really… if God intended for us to live outside, why do we have all these houses!

  6. #10
    Marcie Howe

    Too funny! I’m with you about the nature one. I have repeatedly warned my family that I will only camp at Marriott! LOL!

    Seriously, I’m not sure if you realize it but YOU make a huge difference everyday to the millions of people who read your books, your blog or your Simple Magazine articles. Your humor and friendly attitude make me smile everyday. So THANKS for making a difference in my life. 🙂

  7. #11

    Fantastic post! A great laugh, needed it today! I really like the cards you picked… although I’m a nature girl and could have gone for that one. 🙂 Thanks for sharing, great idea!

  8. #12

    Love, love, love today’s post. I laughed so many times at the rejected cards. Thanks for sharing your fun.

  9. #13

    I really think you misunderstand the definition of nature Cathy. It’s not all trees and ants you know

    na·ture (nchr)
    1. The material world and its phenomena.
    2. The forces and processes that produce and control all the phenomena of the material world: the laws of nature.

    1. Wherever your stash is
    2. Wherever your gadgets are
    I don’t think you’d have any problem getting back to nature. I mean, there’s screensavers of outdoorsy stuff, right?

  10. #14

    So after reading your post I am pretty sure you will not be buying the other deck of cards by the same author titles “52 Nature Activities”!

    I love reading your blog.

  11. #16

    Kathy: I’ve been reading your blog for sometime and have come to understand that you do attend church and are a Christian. These cards are so very cute and positive. But when you’ve got God’s word at your fingertips, what’s the point of these cards? (That’s a high five for the Bible). This reminds me of a time that a friend of mine gave me a book similar to this stack of cards. I thanked him for it, took it home and flipped through it. My reaction was similar to yours. So, I put the book in my garage where all my books go after being read. It collected dust for a couple of years before I took it to my local “corner used book store” and got a buck or two for it. So what’s my point? My Bible has no dust on it. God Bless Kathy – you have a great sense of humor and your light shines brightly!

  12. #17

    I read blogs through Google Reader. There are over 100 I read on a daily basis. Admittedly, I’m not always paying close attention to whose blog I’m reading. Until I find myself laughing out loud. Then I know it’s you. You crack me up! 🙂

  13. #18

    Good call. I printed out the friends one and pasted it to my wall. Thanks for the levity, and some timely and relevant inspiration.

  14. #19
    Natalee LaJeunesse

    You are a hoot! I love reading your blog.

    I noticed you have Ray LaMontagne in your “listening to” section. I actually went to school with him at Morgan High in Utah…he’s great isn’t he? I was amazed to see him make it big. Yay for Ray!

  15. #20

    I am fairly new to your blog and I am so glad that my friend Lee recommended I come over here. Today has not been a very good day for me and I laughed OUT LOUD at your post. But just so I am clear because you are a bit vague….you are not a nature person?? LOL.
    Thanks for the laugh today.
    I love the friendship card! I am choosing that one!
    Have a great day!

  16. #25

    What a hoot! And nature isn’t ALL bad . . . there is such a thing as skinny-dipping with your sweetie, you know. Good clean fun! 😉 lol

  17. #26

    I have to tell you that I nearly choked on my tositos while reading the back of your first card, because I read the middle section as “start a mediCATION practice”… and I was all, what, you don’t think Cathy can be nice without the assistance of drugs?

    (don’t worry, I think you’re more than capable of drug-free niceness…)

    thanks for the laugh!

  18. #28

    Very inspirational post today… and I do need to take care of myself and my friends as well… Off to ask my friend to go to a movie! Thanks Cathy!

  19. #29

    cant believe you picked those cards…they are exactly what I would have picked. Yesterday I saw Dr Oz on Oprah and he spoke about meditation. I have never done it but thought I would give it a go…and friends. I lost contact with a few good ones last year and have already been in contact with 2. I think I will print these cards!

  20. #31
    Deb Jones

    YOU ARE SO FUN. I miss our class (DYL) and mainly because you are so much fun. I am not a nature gal either but what’s a hoot is just the way you are so honest about it all. Your posts really make my day many a day. They give me something to smile and laugh about that I get because they hit me where I’m at. I will have to get these cards.

  21. #33
    Angela Anderson

    I really like the cards, I am thinking about getting them and maybe grabbing one a week for me and my kids to try. Be In nature for example, I would love to get them out of the play room with their darn video games, of course, that would mean I have to get off the computer, right? Just something to try, different…. I like them!

  22. #34

    what a great idea – but be in nature whats the back of that one read? sit in the mud more? LoL have fun seeya hugya *G*

  23. #37
    Kim Strother

    Oh Cathy- I love the little thing you say that make me giggle. I sure do miss that from DYL. So glad I can check in with you here…Is there a card that says laugh more. Tell Dan to send that one to me. Laughter makes the world go around!!

  24. #39

    LOL, I’m not sure I know what nature is exactly …

    Hey, you know what they say; change starts within you. So with that in mind I think you made great choices.

  25. #40
    Brigid G

    Oh my gosh! I laughed OUT LOUD when I read your post! Too funny! I just had a discussion last week with my kids where I challenged us all to perform one random act of kindness a day and then tell about it at dinner that night. We’re trying hard, and I think that’s the way to make a difference in the world. But the cards are fun, too…

  26. #42

    Oh my gosh, I got these cards from my secret santa at work this year and although she doesn’t know me at all, I really liked them, I thought I would use them on scrapbook pages, maybe just the fronts for titles or something but I love Dan’s idea, maybe ,my friends and family will be picking cards too…thanks to you and Dan for the idea. Are you freezing up there or what?!?!! Lisa

  27. #43

    I love the laughter you bring into my life. What a gift that is and I am very grateful that you share with all of us.

  28. #44

    I agree with all of the above (well, most of all of the above). Your tale brought tears of laughter to my day. And, I don’t know why (cause I know better) but every time I visit your blog I look at that scale and think — “gee, that dial hasn’t moved yet”. I’m living your diet vicariously – you’re a great motivator, so I’m with ya! It must be in the cards, somewhere.

  29. #46
    Jennifer Larson

    Very funny. You should do nature at the Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen. It’s Nature on a well-coiffed path, lots of photo ops along the way, ending in a very nice cafe.

  30. #47

    Thanks for making me smile. 🙂 I love the cards you have chosen. Those two things are on my perpetual To Do list, because every time I get busy, those are the two things that I lose sight of first. *sigh* So good luck with making a difference… I’m certain you will succeed.

  31. #48

    Hi Cathy… I wanted to let you know that I have chosen you for a “lovely blog award”. I f you want to play along, check out my blog to copy & save the award then…1) Add the logo to your blog. 2) Link the logo back to my blog. 3) Nominate 7 (or more) blogs that you think are lovely 4) Leave a message on their blog letting them know that they are “one lovely blog”

    If these types of things drive you kooky please know that I will in no way be offended if you choose not to play along. I love them & think they are a fun way to get to know people…but I know some people hate this kind of stuff. I do enjoy your blog a lot though and am glad to let you know that.

  32. #50
    Corinna Lyons-Revello

    Cathy, as always you totally crack me up! But this is a fabulously cool item and I am gonna go buy it! I LOVE the friendship card you chose. It looks like something I would have chosen myself. I work at home also and tend to be a homebody and not keep in touch with my wonderful friends as I should. Thanks for sharing this neat little gift.


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