An update from me on life and stuff

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life62 Comments

Hey. It’s me. What’s up?

From time to time I field an email or two from long-time blog readers who say, “Cath… are you okay? You’re not really sharing much these days on your blog. What’s up?”

Good question.

It’s true that I just don’t use this blog to write many personal stories. It’s been a slow evolution but a very conscious one, and a very natural one. And one that has evolved from the process of transition.

The transition, of course, is moving into a true middle place in life where my children are adults and where my own experience has become a bit more personal. Personal in that I’m trying to learn more about my own life and what that looks like in this middle aged place. And while I’m sure I could find really funny or inane topics to explore, I’ve chosen not to. At least not right now.

The thing is, life is great. It’s also hard. It contains joy and pain and lots of in betweens. And for that, I am presently grateful.


I think another transition is moving personal stories onto different platforms, namely, Instagram stories. If you follow me on Instagram (and yes, I have two accounts—one is just for personal, non-craft related photos, and the other is my crafty account), I do share daily in my CZ Design account Stories. I think that has been a nice place to pop in, say hey, and have a little fun. It’s not the same as reading a blog post, granted, but it’s where I’m at every day if you’ve been missing that sort of interaction.

So I’ll try to give you a bit of an update in the here and now about what’s up with me. Shall we?

My hair is long-ish and gray. I haven’t had a hair cut in over a year. I’m not sure why I decided to grow my hair out after all this time, other than to save money on haircuts. It’s really gray and I’m okay with it when you consider that people pay for gray hair in the modern era. So, there’s that.

I’ve lost some weight. One year ago I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and I decided to try and make some changes to bring it down without medication. My doctor said, “Go for it, and check back with me.” I’ve lost 40 pounds by giving up most alcohol and gluten, lowering my overall carbs and abstaining from junk food. Exercise has only played a minor role in this process, as I have some knee issues. I mostly shoot to get 10,000 steps a day and that seems to keep things moving just fine. My blood pressure has been back to normal for the past 6 months. Yes, I lean into keto and it’s been great for getting all of my numbers into a healthier place. (And yes, I will be offering my Fit 2020 class because it has kept me honest this year, and I think I have something to offer people in the motivation department. Details coming on that next month!) I’m not sure why I’ve stuck with this approach. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and I’d like to be around and healthy for a while. It’s not just to have a slightly smaller ass.

I make a lot of cards now. In March 2017, I had to make a card for the Scrapbook & Cards Today blog and something clicked when I ran a die through a die cut machine. Since then, I’ve been all in on it. Designing stamps and dies for Simon Says Stamp has been a veritable shot in the arm for my business. And, it makes me feel crafty again, something I had not felt for a while in scrapbooking because let’s be real: I’m not very crafty as a scrapbooker! I just like stories and words for my albums. Card making has let me play and explore in a whole new way, and that has been the surprise of my life for the past few years. Also, I love making YouTube videos. As in, I freaking love doing it. I like planning them. Filming them. Adding the voice overs and editing them. It’s been a new thing and I like learning new things. And technology.

I still scrapbook. It may seem like all evidence to the contrary, but I still make pages every month. Most of them show up in my Design Your Story column over at Scrapbook & Cards Today where I work as the art director, and the rest are part of my Scrapbook Your Year project, which is now in it’s 4th year.

I still plug away in therapy. I’ve been working with an amazing woman since 2011. Originally, I started talking to her (as did Dan) to figure out the bumps in my marriage. I had no idea what I was getting into because as it turns out, I had to work on myself first. There have been leaps forward and huge steps backward, but the good news is that it’s a process I’m still showing up for. I think part of developing myself has made me a bit less of an oversharing sort of person, because I’m learning how to observe and understand instead of just blurt out every thought that occurs to me. And, that’s a bit of a change. I grew up as a person who started to talk as soon as she walked into any room. Today, I’m working on being a person who listens instead. My therapist kicks my ass on the regular. It’s not feel-good fun, but it’s exactly what I need and what allows me to actually create connection with the people I love. Doesn’t always work for like a charm for me and Dan, but hey, like I said, I’m still showing up.


Long story short: I’m here, doing my thing and not completely sure how my personal stories tie into this space. There is a line from a Cloud Cult song that always comes to mine and that is “The more I know, the less I’m knowing,” and you would think that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but to me, it just reminds me that if I keep working and learning I’ll realize there is so much to know about so many things and that being curious about them might just let me earn a little bit of wisdom as I go.

So that’s the scoop. I promise to be back with a few more personal stories here and there as I sort it all out. Thanks for reading.

And come find me on my IG story.

Cathy ZielskeAn update from me on life and stuff

62 Comments on “An update from me on life and stuff”

  1. #1
    Amy Schrock

    You do you Boo, no explanation needed. Not everything needs to be clearly defined or have an exact place. You are a delight, just as you are. I enjoy the heck out of your videos and it’s wonderful to hear that it brings you such joy to make them.
    It sounds like you are fine tuning things in your life and learning how to be unapologetically you. What a great place to be. Good for you for seeking out ways to improve yourself and your relationships. Keep kicking ass and taking names Chica!

  2. #2

    Love the insights, love your words and love that you’re doing you. Why has it taken so many of us so many years to figure this out? Great news on the health front, which I sort of knew from FIT2019 – but I am so curious as to how you get in 10,000 steps routinely? I was shooting video clips at our high school all day yesterday, and literally would go from one end to the other, several times. And I STILL ended up with 7400 steps! I was really disappointed. Oh well – it was a big day for me, so I should appreciate that.

    1. #2.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Oh, I rarely hit it unless i’m running a bunch of errands! But… one of my biggest things i do? I have phone meetings regularly and I walk and talk. Just circles around my house, but I can get 4K steps in an hour long phone meeting, so if I’m on the phone, I’m walking! That helps!

    2. #2.2

      When my fit bit lets me know I haven’t gotten my steps for the hour I vet up and walk around if I can. Sometimes it’s marching in place sometimes running in place. Still don’t always hit the goal but the movement is good

  3. #3
    Debby Canady

    Be proud of how hard you have worked. Gray hair don’t care! Get healthy inside and out and it will all fall into place. You have always inspired me in a creative way. Now I am inspired by your personal journey.

  4. #4

    Cathy, Good Morning,

    I found you through your cards, stamp and die work for Simon Say’s Stamp. I find your work fun, colorful and clean and simple which speaks to me. I watch every one of your You Tube Video’s and am inspired with every one I watch. You have taught me so much. On the personal side, the word personal says it all. It is your story to tell if you choose. Have a wonderful Minnesota day.

  5. #5

    you go girl! Sometimes you want to keep things more personal and that is ok….I am currently navigating that myself. I always love watching your videos and techniques. Thanks for sharing them.

  6. #6

    Thanks for the update! While I miss your blog posts -mainly because you are such a fantastic writer–I’m loving your card videos too. I will definitely check out the Instagram:)

  7. #7

    The way you do you is one of the reasons I’m still around after so many years. Keep at it! Your talents are amazing, but above all, you’re an extraordinary human being. And that’s enough. Cheers to you!

  8. #8

    I have loved reading your blog for do many years, and love seeing the changes in you and your family. If you are up for a good read, The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan is a wonderful book. I think you might enjoy it. Keep embracing the “real”….it’s a good place to be.

  9. #10

    We love all your interactions ? and yes, I pay a fortune for the grey hair but according to the hairdresser, we are heading in the right direction to stop paying for the “silver highlights”. Love ya

  10. #13
    Glenda T

    Everything I wanted to say to you has been said in the comments already posted (so eloquently too!). Be you, be real, be awesome , be happy, be kind and kick butt. Love the hair by the way. I’ve been “au natural” for many, many years and people ask me “who dyes your hair”,lol. I reply Mother Nature.

  11. #15
    Melanie Ayers

    I’m with you on all of it, I can totally relate. Middle space. Kids gone. Learning about yourself. Going grey. Health issues. I’m right with you. Also the marriage thing. When the kids go the dynamic really changes and it’s been much more of an adjustment than I thought it was going to be. It’s a journey. I’m doing your 30 days of thankful journal. It’s been VERY personal so I have no plans to put it on Insta but I want to thank YOU for this opportunity. So far it’s been very helpful and uplifting – which I needed. So thanks for that.

    1. #15.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Yeah, there are some things that are too personal and that’s okay to not put it all out into the blog/social media world. : )

  12. #16
    Jennifer Farling

    “The more I know, the less I’m knowing,” Yes! I know exactly what you mean. Right there with ya.

    And thank you for the hair update because I’ve been curious!

  13. #17

    From a social media non-sharer, I love your honesty and am glad things are well in your neck of the woods. I’m an avid follower on both IG accounts and I love my daily dose of CZ Instagram stories. You never fail to make me giggle. Thanks for that!

  14. #19
    Kim K

    Hey Cathy, long time follower of yours…

    I too am a MOA (Mom of Adults) and it has been an odd transition for me. I think I’m ok in my day job, with my marriage and relationships with friends/family…but learning how to be a MOA has been a challenge for me.

    This past weekend we spent away celebrating my Adult child’s 21st birthday. He made some comments to me, “you don’t need to mother me anymore”, “I’m not a baby anymore”…all of which hurt my heart. My head said, “yes, of course” but my heart still hurt.

    Adjusting to my new Mom role and trying to figure out where my creativity needs to go now.

    Always happy to hear about you and your ups and downs. I know the reality of life stinks sometimes – but it’s nice knowing there are others out there that have struggles, successes, find new ways to life hack, etc. Thanks for your insight, your sharing and always your talent!

    1. #19.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I think so often we see things on social media that make it seem like life is problem free and while I’m not a huge believer in laying all the struggles out for public consumption, I also like to remind people I’m a human in the trenches just like they are, grateful for each day, but a also not having all the mucky muck figured out. 🙂

  15. #20
    Debby R

    So glad you are at a place where you can choose where to devote your energy. I always appreciate your insight and humor. We are the same age so I relate to much of what you share. Keep doing what you love and if you are ever looking for a new class idea I would love one on making Youtube videos and how to edit and do voice overs. I have been putting learning that on the back burner for too long.

    1. #20.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Debby, believe it or not, THAT is on my list… a beginners guide to filming/making craft videos on a budget! I have figured out a few things that help and I really only use iMovie to edit my clips, a program that comes free on Macs. Still… I have tested out some things and plan to make that happen!

  16. #23

    Thanks for the update. I’m really enjoying following you over on the Gram! A while ago, you wrote about the invisibility of your 40s. At 48, I am feeling it as well. Notsomuch therapy related, but the kids are grown and I am realizing sitting back and watching others, cheering them on, and being available as an ear or shoulder is a much more comfortable place for me. Not sure how long I’ll wear the cloak of invisibility, but for now, it feels right.

  17. #24

    What the what??? “I am not very crafty as a scrapbooker”??? May I remind you that yes, oh yes you are, and people follow you? Admire you? Take classes from you to learn how to make pages? Yes, that’s right! Don’t forget it!! ??

    1. #24.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Well, okay… I just mean I don’t do a lot of crafty techniques ON those layouts! Lol!

  18. #26
    Elsa Velez

    Clean and simple, I love you Cathy Zielski! We just downsized so my scrap room became a closet, and as I was purging books, yours is one of the only ones that I kept. Your style and process in scrapbooking is eternal. So many fads come and go, but your work is classic. Thank you for so many years of inspiration.

  19. #27

    Don’t think I’ve ever commented, but had to say that I love your “voice.” A while back I had a computer upgrade and lost all my favorites and just re-found you this week. I’m not into the card thing (though they are lovely and I would be so appreciative if someone made one for me) but, love the graphic simplicity of your scrapbooking pages and your overall approach to telling stories. Understand about not putting as much personal stuff out there, but just know that you are somewhat unique in being able to relate to those around your age and life stage, so these little check-ins are awesome. I’m a lifelong Pacific Northwest girl, older, 53 year old mom to an only child middle-schooler. So, we’re not in exactly the same stage, but parenting a kid going thru puberty when you’re moving into menopause, with aging parents is no joke, and I can see that empty nest scenario creeping up fast! Thank you for sharing.

  20. #28
    Missus Wookie

    Completely understand. I’ve stopped blogging for similar reasons. Thanks for so many years of inspiration, glad you’ve got into card making as that’s where I started until I discovered scrapping in 1996.

    My adult kids haven’t moved out/moved back in, but there are similar problems here too.

    Glad to know there are others going through similar situations.

  21. #29
    Leanne in Cali

    Glad to hear the update. Love reading your blog and watching your videos. Thanks for sharing with us!!

  22. #30
    Teresa Doyle

    Hey Cathy, so glad to hear you are figuring “yourself” out. As a full time SAHM for 20+ yrs. (of 2) I was kind of the same way when my youngest graduated and moved out. I don’t have a job outside of the home and I now have 2 grandsons but I am thankful to be past menopause and owing ANYONE an explanation… 😉 Do whatever it is that pleases you, if at no other time before in our lives, TODAY is ours! Seize it and enjoy time both with your husband and independently. My husband & I enjoy hunting & fishing together (among other things) but while our kids were growing up, I couldn’t go with him and that was OK. However, now that our kids are grown they think its the greatest thing that Dad & I have a life together that is independent of them. (They are kind of seeing us as a couple rather than just ‘parents’.)
    Take care of yourself and have a beer with the hubs, you’ll be surprised at how much you both still have in common! You kids will thank you for it when they see how happy their Mom & Dad still are! (((HUGS)))

  23. #31

    Cathy, I’ve thought for a while how great & happy you look. The weight loss really shows & I like your hair longer & pulled back like in this photo. I’ve thought you actually look younger now! As much as I enjoy your cards with their simplicity, I do miss your wonderful scrapbooking layouts & designs. I’ve been a fan forever. I’ve always looked forward to your personal story blog posts, too, but I understand where you’re at with not wanting to share so much any more. Believe it or not, we do evolve as our life goes through its many phases—I’m 75, & as I look back I’m amazed at that! I’ve lived several different lives. I had finally pretty much learned to go with the flow until recently. Over the past year I’ve found myself in a new position & stage of life: helping my aging (91) mother-in-law a lot & now a dear old (89) friend who recently went into a senior care facility. Takes up a lot of my time now as there are also long drives involved to reach them both. I should sign up for your fitness class because after losing 25 pounds & keeping it off for several years, I’ve regained 10 in just the past few months. I’ve been enjoying too many comfort foods & sitting with my computer—but the latter is something I’ve allowed myself to do because it’s a vital tool for digital scrapbooking & genealogy now, my 2 passions.
    So, my friend, keep on doing you–without regrets. Live in the Now because soon it will be the Past & you can’t retrieve lost moments. With that bit of advice, I’m going to return to trying to figure out how I’m going to document the upcoming Christmas season….Days of December album, hybrid, size, simply photos, artistic, crafty??? And, get ready for a trip & Thanksgiving & Christmas shopping & cards. Trying not to be overwhelmed!

  24. #34

    Good Afternoon from England Cathy.
    I love your stories and I’m always amazed that my life seems to beat to the same rhythm as yours ( I’ve just lost 3 stone ( 42 lbs ) , my sons loves Ultimate Frisbee ( I have your son and your journalling to thank for that ) and I’ve grown out my hair which has also turned grey. I too am adjusting to my empty nest and it’s not been easy. This is year 2 of my youngest son’s University experience and it hasn’t always been plain sailing but I’m learning to let him make ( and learn from ) his own decisions with consequent mistakes and Jeez – that was hard work but I’m getting there. I too made the big leap from scrapbooking to card-making a couple of years ago given that my boys have flown the nest and the photos have started to dry up !
    It’s taken me a year and a half to get used to the idea that I can live my life differently now which reminded me that life goes in phases, like the moon, sometimes a full moon and sometimes a waning gibbous ( whatever that is – never was good at geography or is that physics ?! ) . Keep writing and all the best to you and yours.

  25. #35

    Good stuff, Cathy! Life ebbs and flows and we’re far healthier people when we can roll with that and not try to hang on the parameters of our previous season of life. The IG Stories are a lot of fun and I really enjoy them. You’re looking really great – hair, weight loss, healthier internal state, all the things. And I adore your card making. As well as your stamp and die designs. I made cards before I really got into scrapbooking, so that’s always been in the background for me. But until you started getting excited about the cards, I never realized that you *hadn’t* made cards. I think I assumed you had. Anyway, it’s a treat to watch you delve into card making. Just keep on moving forward, my friend. You’re rockin’ this middle place. 🙂

  26. #36

    I’m so glad to read this update. I’ve been following you for years, and I realize things change as your kids grow up. I’m about the same age as you, but I started later having kids. I’m still covering up the gray hairs by adding a little liquid “sunshine,” but that’s only so someone doesn’t think I’m my daughter’s grandmother when I volunteer at the middle school. 😉 I’ve loved watching your transition to cards and how you have embraced the art of it all. I hope you’ll continue giving us updates on the fam and what you’re up to. After seeing your kids grow up and your family evolve for the past 10 years, it’s like seeing a new family update on Facebook from an old friend. 🙂

  27. #37

    Way to go, Cathy. I lost weight 11 years ago and that added life to my years along with years to my life. I love your style, your YouTube videos are amazing, and if you don’t share, that is ok. I am 59 with two boys in college and parents with health concerns. Now I forget to share my life on FB and find that is ok. It’s more about living and loving others. My life has become richer without the sharing. Thank you for everything you do for our crafting world. Hugs and prayers as you continue this process. -blondie_loves_cards

  28. #38
    Kim S.

    I “found” you this year and love your designs and the attitude you show in your videos. Thank you for this little insight. I’m a little “more” into middle age than you are and I’m struggling with weight and a probable ulcer. That whole leaving the alcohol behind sucks. And carbs. Sigh. Good luck in the new year. I’ll be following.

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