Category Archives: about me

Daily Blogging

I watched an online video interview of Seth Godin recently. The interviewer asked him why he blogs daily. His response surprised me. He said that he blogs daily so that he is forced to really be present in his day. He is always looking for an insight or an interesting idea that he can write about. The discipline of daily writing forces him to pay attention. It may also force him to be selective about how he spends his time. “I’d write every day even if no one read the blog.”

I now have one more reason to write consistently.

Cheers, Catherine

Small Steps, Big Impact

I have lost my enthusiasm for setting audacious elaborate goals. Setting learning goals is a prime example. My professional college would like me to follow a SMART goal setting exercise to set learning goals. I have tried this method and I find it artifical.

My learning happens more organically. If I try to set a big goal to learn a skill or knowledge, I find it hard to do. It seems like too much work. I can break it down into smaller bite size pieces, but even that exercise feels wrong. I end up doing a fair bit of rework during the process.

My approach is to use real life problems from practice. It just works better for me. I reflect on my day, think about what I could have done better and the information I could have used. From there I can determine what I need to learn so I can apply it next time. It is real time learning based on a practice need.

It is a small step approach where I build on my foundations and grow professionally as a result. Small steps lead to a big impact.

Cheers, Catherine

Just Start

One of the hardest things I do every day is start something. The second hardest thing I do is finish it. 

The first difficulty relates to my well-practiced ability to procrastinate. The second is related to my perfectionism. Both are forms of resistance as I learned from Steven Pressfield.

So everyday I have to do battle with resistance. That’s life and it is what makes each day so interesting. Soldier on. 

Cheers, Catherine  

Fear of Starting

Fear and anxiety about trying new ideas or learning a new skill can overwhelm me if I let it. When I feel overwhelmed, I don’t know where to start. I have found that the trick is to start with a small task. I use my systems to support my progress. A large project can seem impossible, but a small step can be doable. I measure progress one day at a time and I structure my days accordingly.

Cheers, Catherine  Location: Saltspring Island, BC
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thanks for reading! If you found this information useful, informative or even entertaining, please share. I really appreciate it!

Are you interested in the ideas that influence and inspire me? Check out Life Simplified by Catherine on FaceBook.

The life [simplified] letter: Lives Lived as Inspiration

The latest edition of the life [simplified] letter: Lives Lived as Inspiration published on January 22, 2015 is now available. Enjoy!

The life [simplified] letter is written for my email subscribers. The email letter is my weekly musings on lifestyle design focusing on simplicity and ease where I share my successes and my tribulations.

Every once in a while, I send little goodies that are only available through the email letter.

If you would like to get your own copy of the letter delivered right to your inbox, please subscribe. It’s free!

Cheers, Catherine   Location: Beautiful Saltspring Island, BC, Canada

P.S. If you are interested in learning about my influences and inspiration, check out Life Simplified by Catherine on Facebook.

I’m also having fun on Twitter these days. I can be found at @cvmccann.

A Look Back at 2014

A year in Review

It has taken me a couple of weeks to look back over my journal for 2014 and think about the past year. My journalling process can be hit or miss sometimes so I don’t have a complete record. At times, I was just too busy doing stuff to worry about journalling about it.

Almost a year ago we moved into our new house on Saltspring Island. We didn’t look at too many houses before we made an offer on the one we now call home. This house was really the only one that met most of our criteria. We were optimistic about the year to come and felt fortunate to live in such a beautiful place.

During the year, there were many highs and lows. I can say for certain that I learned a few things about the island life and about myself. The following list is just a sampling of the things I learned or experienced last year.

  • Combining households with a parent is stressful and hard. I continue to use the best of my negotiating skills and reinforce my personal boundaries.
  • I can let go of my expectations and look instead for the opportunities.
  • I can weather a storm, metaphorically speaking, and come out the other side stronger, knowing that I’m resilient.
  • Moving is mentally and physically exhausting.
  • If I can’t sell a house, I’ll rent it. Better yet, I’ll get a lease arrangement with the RCMP.
  • I can write a novel, or at least three quarters of a novel, in a month.
  • The deck of my house is the best place to be in the summer months.
  • My dog, Yue Yan is a constant source of inspiration, motivation for walking, and for being reminded every single moment can be one of pure joy.
  • I miss my friends since I moved to the West Coast.
  • Making new friends meant being willing to take chances like answering an online posting.
  • I don’t want to be in Ganges on market days because there are too many people in town.
  • While I’m always trying to downsize my things, the people I live with are not interested or actually want more things.
  • I’m very tired of caring for and maintaining stuff. I don’t want any more plants, physical books, or knick-knacks. I only want to maintain what is essential.
  • When you want to leave an island, your schedule is now beholden to the ferry’s schedule.
  • Joining a writer’s group has helped to improve my writing craft.
  • I live on an island that is a destination spot and I have more people visit me here than I ever had visit me in Edmonton.
  • I can re-invent myself, but it is hard. I waffle and back track because having a professional identity is a big part of my self-definition.
  • Going back to Edmonton now as a tourist is fun.
  • I have friendly, kind and generous neighbours.
  • Fresh water is an increasingly vanishing commodity on this island.
  • After 20 years of marriage, I love my husband as much as, or maybe more than, the day I married him.
  • The residents of this island are welcoming but I don’t expect to be considered a native until I’ve lived here for a generation.
  • Joining a knitting club has connected me to a group of caring, smart women.
  • The island has many beautiful beaches, hiking trails and places to enjoy the amazing views of the ocean and neighbouring islands, but the locals keep some of the best places to themselves.

As 2015 moves forward, I’m filled with delight at the potential a new year brings. I want to write everyday, lose some weight so I can be healthier, and publish a novel. Everyday presents an opportunity to move one more step towards those goals. I am truly one of the fortunate ones.

Cheers, Catherine  Location: Saltspring Island, BC
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thanks for reading! If you found this information useful, informative or even entertaining, please share. I really appreciate it!

Are you interested in the ideas that influence and inspire me? Check out Life Simplified by Catherine on FaceBook.

Sign up for the life [simplified] letter, an email that arrives in your inbox every Thursday evening where I explore how to design a rich and rewarding lifestyle.

The life [simplified] letter: Like a Water Well

The latest edition of the life [simplified] letter: Like a Water Well published on January 8, 2015 is now available. Enjoy!

The life [simplified] letter is written for my email subscribers. The email letter is my weekly musings on lifestyle design focusing on simplicity and ease where I share my successes and my tribulations.

Every once in a while, I send little goodies that are only available through the email letter.

If you would like to get your own copy of the letter delivered right to your inbox, please subscribe. It’s free!

Cheers, Catherine   Location: Beautiful Saltspring Island, BC, Canada

The life [simplified] letter: Transitions

The latest edition of the life [simplified] letter: Transitions published on January 1, 2015 is now available. Enjoy!

The life [simplified] letter is written for my email subscribers. The email letter is my weekly musings on lifestyle design focusing on simplicity and ease where I share my successes and my tribulations.

Every once in a while, I send little goodies that are only available through the email letter.

If you would like to get your own copy of the letter delivered right to your inbox, please subscribe. It’s free!

Cheers, Catherine   Location: Beautiful Saltspring Island, BC, Canada

Potential

The ghosts of the past and the seduction of the future

I get discouraged sometimes when I think about what I used to be able to do. I used to be able to run 5 km, for example. Even though I was slow, I could do it without stopping. Running that standard distance made me feel accomplished and I was proud of the races I finished. Over time, I eventually gave up running, due to spraining my ankle and other physical ailments. I can’t run 5 km any more nor do I have a desire to return to running.

My mind likes to tell me that I’m the same person that I was 25 years ago. I know that I’m not the same physically or perhaps mentally, but my memories don’t seem to age the same way my body does. By looking back to what I could do when I was younger, it sometime screws me up in the present. The problem is that I start to make comparisons and because I can’t do some things like I used to do, I start to berate myself.

Comparisons are a dangerous game. I fall victim to it more times than I would like to admit. I compare my home to other homes, or my smart phone to new phones, or my career to others. Even though there are times that I’m smug and assume that my home, phone, or career is better than someone else, the truth is, there is no “better”. It is just different. It may be clichéd but the grass is not greener on the other side.

In addition to using the past to judge me, I sometimes succumb to the seduction of the future. I bet you know what I’m talking about. Someday, when I’m 20 pounds lighter, have more time, money, or energy, I’ll do all the things that I long to do. Maybe I’ll write that novel or I’ll volunteer with the SPCA, or I’ll [insert any and all kinds of items on my wish list].

When I make the comparisons to others, or to my past, or when I long for the future after certain conditions are met, I miss the opportunity to see the potential of where I stand right now, right this minute. I might not run anymore, but I still take my dog for a walk and the walks bring us both great joy. I like to hike with friends and walk around the island I now call home. I have everything I need right now; I don’t have any unfulfilled needs so I don’t need to look to the future for fulfillment. Rather than listen to the ghosts of the past or the whispered seduction of the future, I need to focus on the present by asking: “What is the opportunity I have right now, today?” The answer to that question is my potential.

Cheers, Catherine  Location: Saltspring Island, BC
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thanks for reading! If you found this information useful, informative or even entertaining, please share. I really appreciate it!

The One Month Frame

Some time ago, I wrote a letter about the one inch frame, a concept that I borrowed from Anne Lamott, an author that I’ve come to idolize.

As I was planning the relaunch of my email letter for January 1, 2015, I started to think about the one inch frame. Anne Lamott’s concept is that when the writing task seems overwhelming, just start by writing only what you can see in a one inch frame. Maybe it is a short description or a tiny little bit of dialogue that will get the writing mind relaxed enough to keep writing.

My idea was to take the one inch frame and expand it to a concept of the one month frame and use it for managing projects. I tend to have illusions of grandeur when I start planning a new project and believe I can do so much more than I actually can. I’ve been known to plan out months in advance on some projects. In hindsight, I’ve come to understand that no one can predict the future so far in advance. Inevitably, I can’t meet my unrealistic goals, get frustrated and usually quit.

I’m not good at working without a goal in mind. I need some structure and I need to do some planning. I’ve tried to work without any goals or plans but what happens is I get distracted and the next thing I know, I’m watching Elementary on streaming video from my computer or wandering around FaceBook reading cute status updates.

Even though I need some kind of plan and a goal at the end, I can hold the plan lightly and only plan a few weeks ahead. So much of what I do doesn’t have a hard and fast deadline. I can create deadlines but I don’t find it necessary to get the work done.

The one month frame seems about right. I can set up some challenges for myself, a goal, that can reasonably be completed within a month. For example, I can challenge myself to finish 30,000 words for the email letters by the end of the month. If I write every day, that is only 1,000 words per day and I can reasonably handle that amount, maybe even get ahead by having a few days where I write 2,000 words. I’ve set up a method to track my results in an excel spreadsheet chart. The visual representation is really helpful.

I’ve also built in rewards along the way. At the 15,000 word mark, I might reward myself by buying a new e-book to read. I can also create a reward after I finish my daily quota. Instead of using the streaming TV video as a distraction, it becomes the reward AFTER I finish the daily word count.

I’ve also come to realize I need one additional feature in a one month frame. At the end of the month, I need to assess where I am. Did I succeed in completing what I set out to do at the start of the month? I can also review what worked well and what did not work at all.

As I look ahead to the next month and start the planning process all over again, I can start with a fresh challenge. Maybe I didn’t quite reach my 30,000 word goal. Maybe I only wrote 28,596 words. No matter, I can start again and reset the timer, so to speak. I’ve decided that since I work for myself, why not? I’ve still accomplished something in the previous month and I can have a fresh start for the next month. Besides, I’ve found there is always a next month.

What do you think of a one month frame for project planning? Share your thought in the comments.

Cheers, Catherine  Location: Saltspring Island, BC

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thanks for reading! If you found this information useful, informative or even entertaining, please share. I really appreciate it!