A bit of a blank show

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life111 Comments



You know the old adage that bad things come in threes?

First, let me change “bad things” to “problems with your old house,” and then let me change “threes” to “fours.” Okay, let’s begin!

Our house was built in 1918. We took over its care and feeding in 1993. We were a young, hard-working couple who never imagined we could fill up the four bedrooms in this old St. Paul charmer.

Over the years, we’ve dealt with typical issues: replacing a furnace, swapping out a few major appliances and handling emergency plumbing issues as needed. We’ve also made home improvements slowly and steadily as time and money allowed, and we were even featured on a DIY Channel show called Kitchen Renovations*, an experience that netted us a brand new kitchen in 2003.

But this new year has been a veritable shit show of one home-related hit after another.

First, we had to buy a new stove. Next, we had to have our furnace repaired. After that, our basement flooded. And number four? Turns out we actually need a whole new furnace. And this sums up the past four weeks.

Breathe in… aaaaand release!


Honestly, it’s fine. The only time I cried was when my extremely generous parents said they would be sending me some money to help with the furnace, thereby eliminating the need to charge the entire thing on the good old credit card.

Life has a funny way of doing what it wants and it doesn’t really take into consideration your financial situation, your emotional issues, your insert-whatever-stressors-you-have-at-this-moment here. I posted a while back that I wanted to write more about the experience of being in this middle place and one of the things I’m particularly grateful for is the fact that starting therapy in 2011 is probably the only reason that shit like this doesn’t derail me anymore.

I was a pretty high strung human for most of my life. I was quick to anger, especially around those closest to me. I was extremely dramatic about everything. I basically lived with this idea of how things should go, and when they didn’t go according to that plan, you’d best run for the hills. I believed this was how I was wired.

Therapy showed me a lot of things that needed to change, the main one being that I wasn’t an adult.

Physically, of course I was. No denying that. But the way I reacted to my life? It was pretty much on the developmental level of a very young child.

Not in every area, mind you. I’ve mostly been a fully on-board adult in my professional life. I know what is needed and I do it. There is little gray area there.

But in my personal life, that has not always been the case.

Therapy also showed me my anger and my freak outs were actually a choice. No one was more surprised to learn this than me. And it was life changing.


For me, therapy has not historically been a fuzzy, feel-good experience in that whole I am enough mindset. The person was I was before was literally not enough. If you’re throwing fits and getting angry at people and are constantly frustrated with life, that’s actually the opposite of enough. Keep in mind, I did not have a difficult childhood. I was never a victim of horrible circumstances.** I was just your garden-variety neurotic person who handled my frustrations extremely poorly. For years.

Therapy today is more rewarding for me because I have learned a lot and actually work with my therapist, rather than against her. She tells me truths that have been hard to hear, but hearing them makes me a better and more capable person. She kicks my ass and it’s the thing I have most needed on my path to adulthood.

This is what the middle place in life is like for me now: I’m an adult who is still learning about life. I can’t think of any more of a fortunate place to exist than in this space.

So while I may refer to the home issues of late as a true shit show, that’s really only for my own amusement and comic effect.

It’s just life and here in this age of middle, I’m so very grateful to be able to roll with the punches.


*Our four episodes are no longer found online anymore. Too bad, they were highly entertaining because I was a horrible actor. Dan? He was a natural!

**I’m sharing some of my personal stuff again here in this space. I want to be clear that this is my experience and would never impugn those who have suffered in life and are victims of emotional or physical trauma. I’m just speaking from a personal place and if it helps one person see themselves and think they want to make a change, well then that is a bonus.

Cathy ZielskeA bit of a blank show

111 Comments on “A bit of a blank show”

  1. #2
    Joan Bardee

    Thanks for sharing this story. I am sorry about all the house issues but glad you got therapy and have a better way of coping. The single biggest thing I got out of therapy years ago was the statement that my reaction to things that happened was out of proportion to those things. I remind myself of that ALL the time!

    If it makes you feel any better, our house, built in 1930, is a constant source of trouble! But it has beauty that makes us happy!

    Good luck with the furnace.

    1. #2.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Yes, Joan… that is the thing for me: my reactions were ridiculous.

      Now I work on responding. It’s such a more peaceful way to live.

  2. #4

    Thanks for being real! I appreciate your posts from middle life. I’ve been dealing with some low level depression and anxiety after going through menopause almost theee years ago. I just told my husband this morning, before reading your post that I may need to go see a counselor or talk to the doctor. Fixing myself doesn’t seem to be working. Like you, I have so many great things and people in my life. It feels hard to need help. Thanks for sharing you’ve encouraged me today that counseling is ok. In my mind I know that but it’s hard to admit I need it.

  3. #5

    Love this. Thank you for sharing. Hot damn I love honesty. So refreshing, especially nowadays. : )

  4. #6

    I relate, coldest day of the year septic needs pumping.. … this is after it all back up through to the kitch sink ☹☹ I forgot to mention it’s a 100 year old farm house! So we pump, still not working. Too cold to dig up to see problem with old cast iron pipes. Porta potty to the rescue, reroute drains for shower and sink. Next, oven quits at dinner time….. what is there to do but laugh, wait for spring and bring home ready cooked meals. Repar man is able to fix my oven after parts arrive in another week, I told him not to worry cooking is over-rated ??? I have learned not to let all of this get me down or worry about how we will pay for it. It all works out and we usually have something to laugh about in the end!! Thank you for sharing ?

    1. #6.1

      we need a new septic too. we have been saving for a trip to go to the grand canyon. we are still going but feel so guilty because that money should be going to the 20,000$ septic bill. in the mean time, we are taking 3 minute showers, using a slop bucket to throw water outside and i have been learning the ins and outs of the laundromat.

      and both kids need braces….

  5. #7

    I had a bit of a week recently, Monday my tooth broke, Tuesday the telly box died, Thursday the washing machine died! and my body thanked me for the extra stress with a bad bout of IBS followed by insomnia amidst all that. #funinnit. or something. The tooth was repaired on the Friday, we got a new washing machine a couple of weeks later and the replacement telly box works some of the time. (randomly drops channels and you have to keep retuning it, but we don’t watch much tv, so it’s just irritating). however my body still hates me. that’s usual.

    I hope your run of repairs is at an end and the cold weather isn’t too much to bear. Freaky mild here right now, expecting highs of 14C this week, not usual, if it turns cold after this the plants are going to get very confused.

  6. #8
    Sue O

    I can so relate! I hate it when things go wrong with life, especially problems in the house. I take it much more in stride these days than I used to. And why is it when one thing breaks, another 2 or so follow?

  7. #9
    Annie Samuels

    I can so relate…life is “a work in progress,” and I’m still working on it! ?Love you?

  8. #11
    Deborah Weiss

    Oh Cathy, I love when you speak from the heart. I can relate with the furnace issue except it wasn’t our furnace…it was 2 of them in the duplex we rent out. They were so old the repair man said there was a chance of CO2 so we had to turn them off, bring in electric heaters and get 2 new furnaces as quickly as possible. No shopping around! That took care of about 4 months of income. It happened just as we were planning on going to Florida for a week. I get depressed when it stays cold and snowy for so long (I live in SW Michigan…hello “lake effect!). One way for me to address the depression is to get warm for a week or so. But…we had to pull the plug on that vacation due to expenses. So, now I am dealing with my depression daily. Here’s the interesting part…I work for Mental Health! I have no less than 6 therapists in my office who will and do listen to me. Just today I told one of them that I want to crawl into bed, go to sleep and wake up in April!
    Things will work out…they always do. You have a great attitude and you encourage me to give myself a kick in the ass and stop the pity party!! Spring is right around the corner. Can’t wait to work on my garden…in the sunshine!!

  9. #12

    life is so funny. its so tempting to think its all about the things in life that happen to us. but in reality its all about our reactions.
    and sometimes, when we think life is doing us dirty, its really sending a gift. when we want to be stronger, life send us scary encounters that require our bravery and leave us better for the experience.
    you seem to be looking for a deeper perspective and experience with middle age. and life may be putting these obstacles in your way to reinforce all the growth you have achieved so you can appreciate all the amazing progress you made.
    your willingness to share and ability to add humor to any situation are an inspiration.
    you got this girl. and its so wonderful to be in the audience cheering you on.

  10. #14
    Jeanette Collins

    Thank you for sharing your heart. Life is hard…that’s why we let our child-self take control sometimes. Like Peter Pan, “I don’t want to grow up!” But, you turn around and suddenly realize you’re 60. Crap.

  11. #15
    Jeanne B

    In January I lost a brother to suicide and then 2 weeks later my husband and I had to say goodbye to our baby, an aging sick Labrador but you know what? It could always be worse. I tell myself that a lot these last few weeks but it’s true.

  12. #16

    Cathy, once again love your honesty which makes you so relatable! My husband and I are both retired Air Force and I experienced many “three things” every time he deployed! One time my car broke down at 6 am leaving the airport after dropping him off! This was before cell phones so I had to flag someone down to take me to a nearby hotel to call my boss for help. I never had so many house issues or ER visits with my kids as I did while he was away! Hope everything gets sorted soon. Thanks for sharing your story so we know we aren’t alone in our experiences!

  13. #17

    I’m not good with words but I love how you share life , cause it can be and is hard! Especially being an adult! There are many times I wish I could be ten years old again! Sending big hugs!

    1. #17.1
      Cathy Zielske

      It’s hard. It’s thrilling. It’s mundane. It’s so very mysterious on every level. 🙂

  14. #18

    Three’s and sometimes fours are the nemesis of us too it seems. 1.5 years ago we had a toilet malfunction on our 2nd level (clean water break thank goodness), it flooded and did damage to 6 rooms plus our 2 story foyer and garage. 23k in damages (insurance only covered 14k). We had to fire 2 contractors along the way and it ultimately took 7 months to get the repairs done. My husband was laid off from his job at the 6th of those 7 months and then he had to have rotator cuff surgery later the same month that he was laid off. Which meant no job hunting til 4 months after the surgery and now, 7 months past surgery, we are packing up our house to move because he has not found employment and I cannot carry it all on my own. But there is a silver lining… once we move we will be closer to where family is and that’s a major plus, as my father has been declining in health in the last year. Life has been a real shit show here too and just like with your situation, it’s all going to be ok. Oh, and you are not alone in needing help… My parents are helping us too and although I feel horrible about it, I also know that us being closer to where they are is going to be a blessing for them as well. Adulting is definitely hard and I am thankful that I inherited a good sense of humor, otherwise I would spend my days sitting in the corner crying. So, I am handing you a shovel and sending big hugs! We are all going to be OK. :o)

  15. #19

    So love this. Not that you’ve had a tough time, but that you are sharing your troubles. It doesn’t necessarily make anything easier, but I find that it sometimes helps just to say it all out loud to people who care. No one else can fix the problems, but we can relate/empathize/cheer you on. Take care, Cathy, and here’s hoping for some good days ahead.

    1. #19.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Thanks, Carrie. Of course, these home troubles are nothing in the scheme of things. But in my past, they would have derailed me as much as something that was actually painful would have. I didn’t really discern.

  16. #20

    Fellow Minnesotan here. I can relate with the furnace issues. But you know what? I FIXED MINE during the polar vortex! I became a local folk hero. Just a couple hours with a YouTube video, a couple household tools and some fine grade sand paper (and overcoming fear that a furnace will blow up in your face if you get near it with a screwdriver), and heat was restored.
    But dealing with the same kinda low level depression for a couple years – good to hear there are others with the same syndrome, and may be attributable to menopause (thanks, hormones). Also caretaking for an elder parent. Life is all work, no fun, just completely apathetic about everything. Meh.
    Anyway, would love a referral to your awesome therapist. I could use some help dealing with my own “freak-outs”! Is she in the St. Paul vicinity (probably 20 minutes from me)?

  17. #21
    Alison Heikkila

    I think everyone could benefit from therapy. I’d love to go myself. Sometimes the inner demons get too close to rearing their ugly heads. I’m sorry about your house stuff. We’re dealing with quite a shit show in our home too, but for completely different reasons. Hoping to come out the other side on a positive note very soon.

    As a side note, I truly enjoy your writing style. Thanks for putting yourself out there for the rest of us.

  18. #22

    I’ve taken classes from you for years and through simple scrapbooking watched your children grow to young adults. I’ve always found you to be grounded, creative and real. Thank you for sharing.

    1. #22.1
      Cathy Zielske

      That is kind of you to say. I try to present a realistic look at life. I do swear like a sailor and generally don’t in my writing. lol. I guess that’s the only thing I hold back. 🙂

  19. #23
    Brandi Talmadge

    Love that you share real life stuff – it matters and helps! Thank you for the reminder that how we handle the day to day life is a choice. And the day to day issues is where life is made. Making the choice of calm civility in extremely difficult times is a high challenge – I can relate. 🙂

  20. #24
    Barbara Barnes

    I just love your writing (& your graphic & cardmaking skills ain’t bad, either 😉 ), and I especially love when you write so personally as you did in this post. I find that i am ok when things go wrong, but my impatience with those close to me gets worse as I have climbed into my middle-and-beyond years. I need to do something to remedy that.
    Also, reading your responses to the comments here…
    “It’s hard. It’s thrilling. It’s mundane.”
    That stuck to my heart. ❤

  21. #25
    Barbara R

    Thank you for sharing. I used to be the same way. It was my husband who told me that I get to choose how I react to something or someone else. It took a while and many practicing on people before I got it down pat. Now I share that with a few young ones in hope to make their life less stressful than mine was growing up (I don’t consider myself grown up until I was in my 40’s). I love how you worded it all. As I deal with my husband who is disabled now, I seem to be tested frequently. Once in a blue moon, my frustration gets the best of me and I fall. But we are all human….I get back up and try to be the best me again.

    I love you videos and your blog!! Thank you for being honest and sharing!

    1. #25.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I, too, will find the old me with my old reactions creeping in sometimes, and I really do need to stop and identify why it might be happening, understand it, and stop it in its tracks.

  22. #26
    Karen M

    You are a rock star Cathy Z for being so real and honest. What a gift you are to all of us. Thank you for reminding us that the human experience is so universal, so humbling and so beautiful.

  23. #27
    Leora Henkin

    Ugh! I am sending vibes. We are just now recovering from basement flooding that happened almost two years (and lots of $$$) ago. Probably just in time for it to happen again, but hopefully not. I hope that your homeowner woes are over, for now. Keep your chin up and thanks for sharing.

  24. #28

    Great read. I think we all evolve over time. I can’t really remember how I acted when stressors hit other than eating my way through it all. I also dealt out lots of sarcasm which I think I’ve curbed through my middles. Now in my senior years I think I’m perceived as wise! May you reach ‘wise’ in your senior years too – and kind!

  25. #29

    May I gently suggest that the anger and freak-outs you describe were actually ‘reactions’ and therefore, not made by choice. Once you start thinking ahead and considering the possible outcomes of any behavior, you start ‘responding’ instead of ‘reacting’ and therefore, make actual choices.

    It is a small re-frame, but an empowering one. 🙂

    1. #29.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I think the issue for me was I was never thinking. 🙂 Only reacting. But absolutely, responding is what is needed!

  26. #31

    I feel your pain…let’s just say we’ve earned LOTS of airline miles on our Capital One card since the first of the year! A new furnace, oh and while we’re at it we should replace our A/C so it doesn’t leak all over our new furnace ? and we might as well bite the bullet and replace our badly worn and stained WHITE carpet and… Thankful that we have the funds to do it, but it’s hard to watch that much money go out all at once!! Hopefully for you and me that’s the last of the cash bleed ?

    1. #31.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Um, yeah, they’ve already mentioned there is water damage in the old heater that might be coming from the AC unit. I’m letting that one hit when it hits.

  27. #33

    Adulting is real, a real pain, lol. I used to throw “hissy fits” . My husband very rarely reacted – hence it was a waste of my time and energy. Took a while but I hardly ever feel the need. Thanks for sharing

    1. #33.1
      Cathy Zielske

      That’s so interesting! See, I did get responses, so I kept it up for a long time. Tried to control the hubby that way. It took him a while (and therapy, too) to work on NOT putting up with childish behavior. We learned some pretty unhealthy ways to be together from our younger years. Unraveling it now has been important and continuing work.

  28. #34

    Thanks for sharing – I’m curious as to what type of therapist you speak with? Keep smiling and laughing!

    1. #34.1
      Cathy Zielske

      She’s a licensed therapist, but I would say she focuses on mental and emotional development. She works to help people connect to reality so they can understand themselves, life and other people. She’s really the smartest person I know in regards to human development, which is not something that came very naturally to me. 🙂

  29. #36

    Hi Cathy-
    I’ve been listening to great audiobooks & podcasts lately and the coolest thing I learned was that at some point in our lives we learned a pattern of behavior. At some point old patterns just don’t serve us anymore. The concept that if you can identify the behavior you can change the pattern is simple, but powerful. Always learning 😉

    1. #36.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Oh, we most definitely learn unhealthy behaviors. And those patterns can be hard to break. 🙂 But yes, when they don’t work anymore, they lose their power and appeal.

    2. #36.2

      That is so true! Everything we do serves a purpose. It makes us help to cope with stress. Even self-destructive behavior which may seem illogical at first. I think it’s all maladaptive behavior which can be hard to overcome.

      Books also helped me a lot! xx

  30. #37

    Hello- I am a therapist, and just wanted to thank you for posting a honest and positive look at therapy and the idea that it is hard work! Wishing you the best on home repairs.

  31. #39
    Kathy Geare

    Cathy, You should feel good about sharing, too many of us put our therapy behind closed doors. Without going into details, I’ve been in therapy for the last 26 years, in fact I was there yesterday. Sometimes I just need to go back to therapy and get on the back on track again, an adjustment session! I say GO Girl to you for putting it out there, more of us should. It’s called life and some of us need a little help now and then.

  32. #40
    Sue Crutcher

    LMAO (not at your issues) but you and I could be BFF’s! You talk just like I would and I would be “bat shit crazy” (my new fav expression) if all that happened to me! You are right about things happening in 3’s. Never fails! But this too shall pass! Your honesty is so brave and helpful to all of us out here that have the same feelings etc!
    Love all of your posts and your sense of humor!!

  33. #41

    Ugh….sorry for your series of house issues! When purse strings are really tight sh!t seems to happen :-(. Truck issues…furnace died last friday….now our roof has sprung a leak… very frustrating and adulting sucks!!

    Thanks for always being open with us as much as you are!! It helps to know we are not alone in our life struggles. If you don’t mind me asking, how did you end up with your current therapist…especially since she is in California (read in your comment)? I tried a couple and nothing seemed to be clicking…and one just prescribed meds…that was many years ago and I’ve been floundering since.

  34. #42
    Nancy F

    Cathy. May I ask how you “found” the perfect therapist for you. Did you try several to find a fit, get lucky on the first hit, or yelp??? I can definitely relate to your non adulting mannerisms that you had to “let go”. Thanks for your honesty.

    1. #42.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I found her through one of my best friends, who was also working with her (and still is, as is her hubby.) Strange but true, she is the mother of an old friend from the scrapbook world, who I met back in 2003.

      I think it’s hard to find a good fit, but it’s worth trying!

  35. #43

    I don’t think that having fits and throwing tantrums is a choice. That makes it sound that you simply decided to act like that and that you could have simply decided against it. I guess you often didn’t feel particularly proud of yourself when you behaved like that, yet you didn’t know how to react differently. I don’t think you did any of it on “purpose”. Personally I think it’s a learned behavior that apparently worked to some extent for you for a while. It’s maladaptive behavior to stress etc. To unlearn it can be difficult. I can relate. This much I can tell you! I had a very difficult childhood but it doesn’t make you a “bad” person that you had these issues without having a difficult childhood. x

    1. #43.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Oh, to clarify, I absolutely agree with you: it was (for me) a completely learned behavior. But what happened in that process is it became an unconscious, automatic reaction to everything.

      There is a lot of power that comes with that behavior, but it’s not a life affirming power. For me, getting angry was an attempt to control things, or influence outcomes and it worked much of the time, but there was a huge price, that price being low self esteem and people who felt obligated to keep me happy.

      My happiness is my job.

      It’s hard for me to write about this stuff because I’m still learning, but my experience was that learning my responses were automatic and unconscious gave me to opportunity to understand why and then see I actually could learn a new way.

      That is where the choice came in for me. It is a choice when you can understand your unconscious and learned reactions versus choosing ones that are more life affirming.

      1. #43.1.1

        Hey there Cathy… always a pleasure to talk to you and witness your journey expressed through art, photography and writing. I‘m German btw. Scrapbooking is almost unknown in Germany…. I‘ve been a fan of your style for some time!

        I wrote this comment because of my personal experience with therapy.

        Choice always reminds me of that old Reagan campaign “Just say no“. As a young woman back then I always thought: “But it ain’t as easy as that, chump.” And I wasn’t even taking drugs! God how I hated that idiot.

        Now, my first therapist told me I could do anything and change myself quite easily if I just wanted to and that my problem was that I just didn’t want to. While there is a grain of truth to it — but not because I’m lazy and a bad person — but because as humans we tend to hold on to things even against better judgment sometimes, I think it’s an oversimplification. It also made me feel like a very bad person. I did want to change. Why would I go to therapy if I didn’t want to change. What the heck was wrong with me?!

        My second therapist however had a different idea. She thought that I did those things because those were the only reactions that I had learned. That they were my coping mechanisms and that there was no need to feel bad about myself or guilty. These behaviors had helped me survive, but at the same time they also caused numerous problems and damage that I didn’t intend on doing. There were automatic thoughts in my head that triggered this set of behavior and I would have to work on those and try and develop new responses. That made me feel better about myself. I was not a morally bad person or a loser but a good person. I could forgive myself and start on working on changing myself. Which is so effing hard. I found that approach so empowering.

        Cathy, I don’t know you personally, but I can so relate to tantrums and drama as reactions to almost everything and anything that didn’t go my way. I rarely act like that anymore but I am still struggling with slightly self-destructive tendencies (nothing serious!) and depression, anxiety and to top it all off —chronic physical illness and pain.

        I actually think I need to go back into therapy.

        Life is hard. And getting older is not for the faint of heart either.

        Do you still like Peter Gabriel‘s music?

        Best wishes!

        1. #
          Cathy Zielske

          First things first, Peter is still the number one artist in my heart and will ever be. I adore him.

          And I really appreciate you sharing your story, as that can be a vulnerable move to do in any online scenario.

          I can relate to self-destructive behaviors, as well. Smoking for 25 years was one of them. But my anger was the single most destructive behavior. I do regret that. But the great thing is that I can use regret to empower making changes. Not to dwell on it, or feel sorry for myself. Victimhood… that is another whole ball of wax for another post and another day.

          The one thing about reality is that if we can really see it, there are no judgments needed. Only facts. That has been REALLY hard for me to understand and I’m still working on it. My judgments are like my religion They have kept me insulated from pain, they have kept me from growing up and they make me feel like I know something.

          I have much to figure out about how to share more on this blog. 🙂

  36. #44
    Maureen Reynolds

    My 1910 house ‘with charm’ says hello to you and yours. Right now, this moment, god willing nothing needs a major repair but even the things we installed in a 2004 renovation are aging. 20 years for that kind of thing is OLD, not like ‘the old days’ when you bought a fridge or stove and presumed it would outlast you. And do theses house bits know they have to get in line and not all have to go south together?

    Attitude is everything. Last night I was really frustrated with my dh’s current health issue and frustrated with him. I went out and met with some friends and came home not needing to hit the chocolate (or in the old days the wine/gin etc). Accepting what is as it is right now makes it so much easier to deal with even if it sure ain’t fun. You’ve got it Cathy!

  37. #45

    Yessss. More middle stories! Less house horror (but that is life, especially in these friggin freezing times) but yay for middle stories and lovely parents.

  38. #46

    I am always telling friends ‘we live in hell’
    Life has all these experiences and hard knocks because we currently live in hell. Life tests us and teases us, constantly challenges us. Makes things hard for us, that’s what hell is in my mind.
    If we don’t experience tuff times we wouldn’t be able to recognize the good and great times.
    Be kind to yourself. Written and spoken words help get the frustration and anger of it all out of our thought process.
    Thank you for sharing Cathy these days pass and more of life will come to test you. Stay strong. Notice the good and great days. Big love to you.

  39. #47

    I really related to your story. Living in an old house in Saint Paul myself, I had to have my furnace repaired and lots of costly surprises this winter. I also share the gift of personal growth that I gained from years of therapy. It is nice to know that now in my “middle” I am not struggling alone. Thank you.

  40. #48
    Sheri K

    Yep, life is difficult. I’ve just been through a whirl wind of difficult and I’m hoping soon things will be better. I just lost my Dad, who had Alzheimer’s. So many things to take care of, including caring for the parent left. Trying to keep all the balls in the air that are my life, my responsibilities. Crafting helps–and I know when my soul simply needs to do that for a bit. Life is full of these hurdles we need to get through, whether we can jump over them with glee, step over gingerly holding on to someone’s hand or crawl under them. But we do what it takes to get through and move on, to much better things. I hope all these hurdles in your life can be gotten through.

    1. #48.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Oh, they absolutely can be gotten through. 🙂 The old me would have made them into mountains. No so much today.

  41. #49

    Thank you for sharing! As I was reading, I was like “Oh my gawh, she is describing me!” Reading this has given me the courage to actually make the call and appointment that I know that I should really make to sort out some of this “stuff” going on in my world. Life in the middle is definitely not for the faint of heart!

  42. #50

    Hang in there Cathy. When **** like this happens, I try to remind myself that “woman plans and God laughs”. Also, chocolate helps sooo much.

  43. #51
    Kylie Holyland

    I don’t need to share my crap but I do want to say thank you for your courage in showing us that you’re not perfect Cathy. You are extra-ordinary. Xxx

  44. #52

    Dear Cathy,
    Thank you for being you and keeping it real.
    No one is perfect and life isn’t perfect.
    I can relate to this mid-life phase of life. I, just now am “figuring it out” adult stuff.
    I am in my early 50’s and in my mid 40’s finally figured out how to manage my money wisely. Finally figured out the theory of >>> “don’t worry about what other people think”. Looking back, I spend most of my adult life trying to be a people pleaser and while I likely made others happy, I was miserable inside.

    I am a huge advocate of “teach children about life stuff….money, running a home, how credit works, communication skills, advocating for one’s self, dealing with one’s internal feelings, etc..). My life would have been so different, had I been educated and had guidance in “life stuff”. I wouldn’t have so much of my adult life floundering, living day to day, paycheck to paycheck, not knowing how to deal with my internal self, and not being my authentic self.
    Thank goodness, for learning , growing, maturity and life experience. Most especially thank goodness for the terminology “better late, than never”.

    I started following your blog years and years ago. You may be one person, keeping it real. There are many of us out here, thankful for your realness. Though we’ve never met, your realness and friendship is invaluable. One never knows how or when the littlest thing(such as a blog post or instagram post) can touch someone’s life.

    I posted this before and I’ll post it again….I think you should write another book. This time about life, instead of scrapbooking.

    Best regards, Barb

    1. #52.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Appreciate your comment, Barb. : ) I do like writing. Never say never. That was always the dream of my life.

  45. #54

    I can so relate! We are just about ready to finish paying off the new windows and HVAC on ou ’70s-era house, and just discovered mold/mildew all through the drop ceiling in the finished basement/offices. And insurance won’t cover any of it because it was caused by condensation from the HVAC. And I would love to know if there’s a particular type of therapy your therapist practices, because you sound so much like my husband.

  46. #55


    I very much admire how open and honest you are. As I read through you’re message I seriously thought you were writing from inside my head. I can so relate. Both to the older home issues and the perpetual child inside.

    You are very lucky to have found a good therapist. I think it’s time I try to reconnect with a therapist who I really respected. She fired me because I was working against her rather than with her. And I say fired out of jest.

    At my young age of 58 you’d think I’d have thugs under control by now. Not so.

    Thank you for being so candid. It gives me hope.

    Love ya lady.

    1. #55.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Oh, my therapist, who I speak with on the phone because she’s out of state, has hung up on me before. 🙂 And she should have. There have been conversations where I am acting like a complete ass and she won’t have it.

      See, that’s the thing… when other people let you behave in a way that is not life affirming, they are enabling it, and you keep doing it. I speak from experience.

      Years ago, my husband should have said, “Um, if you’re going to act like a child, I’m literally out of here.” Oh, he has his stuff, too… part of it was enabling me.

      It’s complicated stuff, but it can be unraveled. I love my therapist, but that doesn’t mean I have been happy to hear everything she has to offer me. But it has pretty much all been what I needed to hear.

      Thanks for your comment!

  47. #56

    Thank you so much for sharing. Your description could literally be me, though I was not lucky enough to find a good therapist. My job is a high frustration level job and so my therapy became my obsession with paper crafting. It has helped to have a place to channel my energy where no one else in my family goes. And you and other key people in this industry have actually been gems in this journey. And for the record, I think you would have a solid following for a podcast. Sometimes about paper crafting, sometimes about life. And on a side note, my house was built in the 50s and is falling apart too! Lol. Just gotta keep plugging away at work and make it all happen. Gotta afford my supplies!

    1. #56.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Alicia, I’m a firm believer that creating stuff is a form of therapy. I mean, if you have a high stress job, choosing crafting as an outlet… I can think of FAR more destructive things! 😉

      Someday I may do a podcast. Who knows. I might find I have something to say after all.

  48. #58

    OMG I think I react to things in the exact same way but my therapy was not so helpful. Yes when it comes to our homes it does come and bite you in the butt. Living in Africa is hard enough when your fight or flight thingies are always in a state of heightened tension and I thank God every day for my craft and my craft room and I have a sign that says just breathe. I do love your posts and videos you are so down to earth and it has always been one of the things I loved about you even when you came here to teach at one of our conventions….waaaaay back in the day 😀 “-*

    1. #58.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Hey Val, are you in SA? That wasn’t me! lol! I was invited to come, but I did not, because why? I was an idiot. Lol. It was my introversion rearing its ugly head. I wish I had gone because it looked like the adventure of a lifetime!

  49. #59
    Shawn Wenrich

    Hi Cathy,
    I’ve seen you refer to personal issues in the past but now I have a better understanding of what you were dealing with. I actually came to your blog today to remind myself of the cute cardstock reference you made for your Gina K collection. In addition to that I received insight into your therapy and the progress you’ve made to be a better person. Wow I just feel like I know you sometimes. I’ve had a rough few years since my mom passed away. Her second husband did his best to make it even worse. I’ve tried to let go of the anger and incredible grief but even typing this I’m brought to tears. Maybe it’s time I saw someone. As usual you’ve inspired me but in a more personal way today. Thank you for being you and sharing a bit of yourself!

  50. #60
    Barby Schiedermayer

    Oh, Cathy, you are a spit-the-shit-out gem of a gem. My kind of gal! I so relate to your journey. Here’s to those of use trying to tame the beast…or at least feed it nachos. 🙂

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