Sunday, June 28, 2015

It takes a village....

As most of you know, I love to write.

Many of you read my first mystery, Silent Sky. Yes, I like to write about adventure and action . . . and yes, Reina is getting into trouble again. . . . She just can't help it!

What you may not know, is that I have oodles of other stuff that languishes, lonely, on my computer. I just am not very disciplined about submitting stories and articles and poems for publication. Sometimes, I wonder if, as with Emily Dickinson, my poetry will be discovered post-mortem and will find a place in this world.

Or, perhaps I'll get the guts to publish some of it one day.....

Anywho . . . I am making an effort to get my writing out there in the world. And that is where you all come in. . . . .

I would love it if you would all read the piece that just got published in the lovely, online elephant journal. Just click on the link below and check it out. Then, even if it is not your cup of tea, if you would be so kind as to share it (ASAP if possible as the internet world moves quickly) to your family/friends on facebook, google+, and any other social media you use, that would be so totally awesome!!

I hope you all know how much I appreciate the support and comments and love I receive from you! Keep sending me emails.

xox, Cate

Friday, June 19, 2015

Today's Friday, I think I'll Move to Italy

Buon Giorno from Italy!

One month ago I decided I needed a change. Now, some people rearrange the furniture. Me, I moved to Italy. For a time, anyway, exact dates yet to be determined.... 

People ask, "How did you just up and do that?" Well, I hopped onto a website, found a housesitting position in Tuscany, and two days later bought my ticket. 

Most people are not comfortable with such drastic changes, and for good reason; There is the house and car and pets and job and all the stuff to take care of.  

Several years ago, I started simplifying my life by paring down on life's "stuff." I ruthlessly sold, gave away, or threw away all kinds of things, even those items that held memories or family significance. 
Sure, I still have the photo albums of my kids and some small family mementos, but did I really need to store that antique dining room table for the "someday" that one of my kids might want it? Nope. Let it go. What about the extra coats and blankets crammed in the closet? (in case of a terrorist strike on our power grid) - Let 'em go. What about the piles of electronic cords and bits accumulated from various past computers? (might need one to garrotte a zombie during the apocalypse) - Let 'em go. What about the blenders (how did I end up with three?), the broken lamps, the mismatched Tupperware, the extra frames, the scraps of paper/wood/fabric/metal/junk that I might need someday for something? - Let 'em all go. 

And, I discovered that with each layer I let go, I felt lighter and lighter. I tell people, now, that I spent 25 years accumulating stuff and I spent the last five trying to get rid of it all.
I see so many houses full of clutter - old magazines, figurines and trinkets, a china cabinet full of vases and never-used crystal glasses. Walls, corners, closets full of precious "stuff" that accumulates like layers of papier mâché, restricting our mobility. When I walk into a house full of old stuff, I immediately feel it weigh down my energy. There is a reason spas are so spartan, clean and bright; Open space allows energy to flow freely. I often notice that the inhabitants of cluttered homes are perennially tired, overweight, or even sickly. It is no wonder! Their energy is slumping with the dust bunnies beneath the unused piano. 

Step one to being open to change is to get rid of stuff. Trust me, you'll feel better. Take your stuff to someplace like Goodwill and allow someone less fortunate to benefit from your discards. I love to shop at Goodwill. I like that no new resources are consumed in what I buy and I also find some awesome, unique clothing that is impossible to find in the ubiquitous chain stores.

Step two to making positive changes is learning to develop a comfort level with the unknown. The unknown is scary, kind of like that monster under your bed when you were a kid - I vividly recall how terrified I was, as a child, to put my feet on the floor because of whatever it was that was lurking under my bed. And yet, like that imaginary monster, the reality behind our fears doesn't really exist. 
Yes, real and present on a recent walk

I ask myself, when fears crop up (and they do), "Is this a real and present danger, (i.e., the house is on fire; I could perish in the flames) or is it an imaginary scenario?" 

Imaginary scenarios include, "What if the plane gets highjacked?" "What if my money and passport get stolen?" "What if TSA finds more than 3 ounces of lotion in my carry-on and throws me into the gulag?" 

Yes, any of the above could happen (well, maybe not the gulag...) but they are not real and present dangers. Yes, I need to prepare adequately and take precautions, as with anything, and then I need to step forward boldly in action. That is where the fun starts to happen in life. New experiences, new people, new challenges to keep the mind and body and soul growing. Change is invigorating!

"When you step out boldly toward change, the universal plates move to support you -
dance lightly and joyfully on the shifting times"

Step three to experiencing the benefit of change is to cultivate a sense of attention. Be aware of when something doesn't feel right in your life. If your life is feeling stale or unsatisfying, be open to looking it in the face and asking why. In all likelihood, it won't require a wholesale move to another country, but perhaps a little change will breathe more joy into your life - take dancing lessons, learn to fly (had to throw that one in), get a sex change (just a quick nod to Bruce Jenner there). Be attentive to your life. It's the only one you got, so don't waste a single day wishing it were something different. 

And when you make a change, be attentive, and accepting, of whatever it brings. 

This is me without luggage
For example, lost baggage. Okay, I can wear the same clothes for three days. The other passengers in the train may not like it, but c'est la vie! Oops, thats' French, which brings me to the next difficulty: I don't speak a word of Italian (other than pizza, spaghetti, ravioli, etc). Not being able to communicate is an ego leveler. On my first trip to the supermercado, I brought a bunch of fruits and vegies to the check out not realizing I was supposed to weigh them and put the pricetag on myself. Of course, the line was building up behind me, with me stumbling to understand.... Embarassing, yeah, but I just smiled, said grazie and headed back to the produce section. 

Unlike some European countries, very few people here speak English. And why should they? It's Italy, after all, and their language is perfectly good. So, I am busy learning enough Italian to not feel like an idiot in public. Other little challenges crop up every day - how to get around, how to find a public toilet, how to smile at the attention from handsome Italianos without giving them too much encouragement....

Change is life's way of opening new doors for us (although sometimes you have to wait for that door, as in when you bike into town several kilometers away, only to find that the store is closed from 12:30 to 4:30! - see left)

Sometimes change is a little painful during the transition period, especially when it comes unasked, as in the loss of a loved one, but there is a whole new world available to us when we step across the threshold of change. 

So, see if your life could use a little (or big) change. And if you do end up in sure and look me up! But wherever it is life brings you, I hope your view is grand!

xox, Cate

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

In Need of Mental Floss

I have decided that I have "professional schizophrenia." 

You see, I really want to spend all my time writing. And I need to finish/publish all the stuff I've written - ghost stories, erotica, children's books, poems, and that PROMISED sequel to Silent Sky!  
 For those of you who have asked, the sequel won't be long. See below for a contest to title it.

The other part of me says, I really want to spend all my time flying. I want to stay steeped in aviation and have amazing flying adventures. I want to go and see and do, not sit around behind a computer! To that end, I have recently started working with NW Seaplanes out of Seattle. Who knows, maybe I'll finally get my floatplane license . . . in a De Havilland Beaver? Big Smile! And I want to fly to OshKosh this year, an event I've never been to - always too busy running my businesses.

And yet a third person inside me says, I really want to spend all my time helping people. I obtained my Life Coach Certificate this year (through the Tony Robbins - Rock Star of Transformational Change - program) and so many people tell me how my words and suggestions have helped them find positive change within themselves.

I suppose we all find ourselves pulled in different directions. We struggle to balance the work vs. play/earn vs. spend/do vs. be sides of our selves. Although sometimes I chastise myself for not marching more methodically toward my goals, I am also kind to myself. It will all come in time and, somehow, all the puzzle pieces fit together to make the whole of a well-lived life.

What do you work to juggle in your life?
Mark Twain said,
The two most important days of your life
are the day you are born
and the day you find out why.

I do believe we are all put on this earth for a reason, with a mission. I'm fine-tuning what mine is. What's yours? I love to hear from you, as always.

Oh, and here is the Book-Naming Contest: I want the title of the sequel to have the word "Sky" in it (you know, like Silent Sky) only different. I realize you don't know the content, but know that Reina and friends will have to unwind a mystery that will lead to danger and excitement. So . . .  throw out some titles. Anything goes as long as it has the word "Sky" somewhere. If I choose your title, you get a free, specially signed, copy

Looking forward to your comments/emails!

xo, Cate

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Reality - It's a Whole New World

When I was raising my boys, I watched a lot of Disney movies with them. As you know, all those films end Happily Ever After. Of course, we all know reality is something quite different. The bad guys don't always get their comeuppance, the genie doesn't really appear to grant your wishes, the princess doesn't necessarily ride off into the sunset with her prince.

You were probably taught about reality too - that you have to work hard, often in a job you hate, to pay the bills; You have to scrape and scurry to climb that ladder so you can have all those things that are supposed to make life better; You have to protect your own, because there is not enough to go around; And, if you suffer enough, you will get your reward in the after life.

In fact, our whole world is built on those premises. Scrape, Scurry, Struggle, Protect. We do work that numbs us to death because it will enable us to buy that bigger house or boat or car. We don't stop to give that guy on the corner twenty bucks because, dammit, we worked hard for our money (and he didn't!) Our corporations underpay employees so they can increase profits. Our countries wage war to protect economic security and religious self-righteousness. And each fear-based, defensive action perpetuates another round of war, poverty, hate, hopelessness.

Don't get me wrong. I am no stranger to "reality." I grew up economically deprived. I've worked hard at jobs I hated. I've decreed the beggar on the street to be a "bum." I've tried to justify religion and war, in the name of God and self-defense. I've accumulated wealth in the hopes it would buy me happiness.

But guess what? None of it worked. Living in fear and self-defense just doesn't bring happiness or security, on a small or large scale. Check it out:

"For most of this century, we've been fighting wars to enhance our security, and each time, we find ourselves with more enemies and less security." -Steve Chapman

So, something's gotta change... Can I change the world with one blog post? I WISH!!!!

Can we change at all? I believe the answer is yes.

I believe we change one person at a time. Personal transformation and empowerment has always been near and dear to my heart. It is what I loved about teaching people how to fly and what I love about being a Life Coach, writer, and speaker.

I hope you will join with me - and Disney's Aladdin - in believing the world into a different reality. I can personally testify that when we change our beliefs, we change our reality. I've seen it in my life and I've seen it in others. Your life depends on it. And so does our world.

I can show you the world
Shining, shimmering, splendid . . .
I can open your eyes
Take you wonder by wonder
Over, sideways and under
On a magic carpet ride

A whole new world
A new fantastic point of view
No one to tell us no or where to go
Or say we're only dreaming

A whole new world
A dazzling place I never knew
But when I'm way up here, it's crystal clear . . .
Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling
Through an endless diamond sky

A whole new world
Don't you dare close your eyes
A hundred thousand things to see
Hold your breath, it gets better

I'm like a shooting star
I've come so far
I can't go back
To where I used to be . . .
A wondrous place
For you and me

Listen to Aladdin here

PS. I know I've been a long time silent. I missed you all!!

xo, Cate

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

New Adventures

Christmas morning chaos
Some people seem to have a pretty straight course through life. That is apparently not my destiny. Perhaps it is because I was raised in a normal-sized house with 11 siblings. The home environment was like that of a Mexican Jumping Bean (remember those?) - there was always something popping or rolling or moving. One never knew how many would be at the dinner table or who would be found kissing their boyfriend behind the hall door. One had to move quickly to get a turn at the bathroom, a hope for another scoop of spaghetti, a chance for a sofa seat instead of the floor. It was busy and chaotic and ever-changing. And that seems to be the pace at which my life still runs.

I've always sought out new adventures
The latest change in my life was completely unanticipated. After careers in teaching all ages, running million dollar companies, aviation instruction and travel, and book writing, I was offered a chance to be an "Adventure Consultant" (who could turn that down?) The job entails custom-designing offsite wilderness adventures for companies. One person I spoke with said, "That has got to be the best sounding job title I've ever heard." Of course, his title was "Perks Director" so I felt the same way toward him.

Flying fun!
So far, the best part has been visiting the properties (had to fly there in a de Havilland Beaver on floats - darn!) We did lots of fishing and brought home loads of salmon. I can't complain. If any of you know of companies that do trips like this, get them up here! I promise they'll come back with big grins!

In the meantime, I'm still writing, still dancing, still flying, and I just started piano and voice lessons. It's that Mexican jumping bean thing. Gotta keep rockin' and rollin'!

Hope your life is rockin' too! Drop me a

xo, Cate

Friday, August 8, 2014


I had a dream some nights ago in which I was trying to prepare for a trip to the airport. I was rushed, and stressed that there were so many things to pack, and so many things to do to meet my timeline. I found myself hurrying across a town square, in some unknown town, to make it to a restaurant where I had, for some reason, left some of my things. I forced what I could into my luggage, and shoved the rest into a grocery bag. I then dragged the bulky pullman and the additional bag back across the rough dirt road and began lugging it up a hill, pushing hard to make it on time. Just then, my bag burst open and all its contents spewed out. Breathing hard, certain I would miss my flight, I crawled on my hands and knees to gather up the random items - a can of oil for my car, a pair of cheap flip flops, shirts, shorts, panties rolling around in the town square dust. Hurry, hurry, get it done, get there on time. Suddenly, I found myself tossed into the air by a bull, a Brahmin bull. The rush and panic were replaced with stillness as I floated above the bull's back, light and weightless. The bull turned its huge head up and said to me, "It is when you stop struggling, that I can carry you."

I am reminded of that dream this morning. A dragonfly (my spirit animal) has flown into my house. He is large with a tattered wing. Perhaps a bit like me. He landed right by my knee for a moment, then flew off to circumnavigate the room. He has been busily buzzing the windows, struggling to get where he needs to go. I know there is no hope of catching him to help him out. Finally, he quieted on the windowsill. He stopped struggling. I walked over to him and ever so gently placed one hand over him. He didn't move. I placed the other hand under to scoop him up and he stepped onto my finger. I lifted and cradled him, in the pocket of my hands. He didn't struggle. I walked with him outside. His translucent wings quivered, but he stayed still. I lifted my upper hand and he sat still on my finger, turning only to look at me. I held him close to my face, so I could see the green speckles on his body, and the large, bulbous eyes. We looked at each other for a full thirty seconds. Then I said to him, "You can fly now," and he did. His wings lifted and he rose into the air. It was when he stopped struggling, that I was able to carry him.

Struggling. Trying to be, trying to get, trying to have. We all struggle. We struggle against emotions that we "shouldn't" have. We struggle against an unreasonable boss, or an unappreciative mate, or an uncooperative situation. We struggle against time and age. We struggle against perceived limits, and glass ceilings, and situations beyond our control. We think, "If I had more time, or  money, or good looks, or luck, then I wouldn't have to struggle so much." We rush and hurry and beat our wings against the world.

Suppose we stopped struggling. Suppose we accepted the time and money, and looks we have. Suppose we accepted the people in our lives for who they are and who they aren't. Suppose we accepted where we are now, with love and gratitude.

I don't believe ceasing to struggle means being passive. I think of flying airplanes. In a stall, the aircraft will naturally right itself if we take our hands off the control (of course, adequate altitude for the recovery is necessary here). Most airplanes are designed to achieve stability if we don't struggle against them too much.  In an emergency, struggle, or panic, is your worst enemy. The key is to understand and accept the current situation - "Ok, my alternator just went out, and I'm 11,000 feet over rural Oregon in the soup" (yes, this happened to me). "This is where I am. This is my plan of action for this situation."

This is where I am. This is my one, big, beautiful life. This is me, in all my perfect imperfections. This is okay and right and wonderful, just as it is.

And so, here I am, with lessons from bulls, and dragonflies, and airplanes. Learning not to struggle. It is a peaceful, powerful place to be.

xo, Cate

Friday, July 18, 2014

Frayed edges

Where have I been? How did three months go by without a moment to sit down and write? Well...sold a business, moved out of one house and into another, went to Hawaii. Life seems to never slow down. And I guess it's just as well. Although I envisioned having the summer to chill and recover from the soul-suck of the last year behind a desk, I find that I am already seeking employment. The bills must be paid! Fortunately, some interesting opportunities are coming my way

Although I suppose we all, occasionally, wish for a life of luxury and ease, I do, in fact, like to work. I like the challenge of a new job, a new puzzle for me to solve. And I am grateful for my ability to be strong and quick and to connect well with people. I am, this week, grateful for so many things. Grateful that my little home on the river did not burn down in the raging wildfire only a few miles away; Grateful that the miniscus repair on my knee went so well and that the doctor says I "have the knee of a twenty year old;" Grateful that my three sons are, blessedly, alive and well.

At the doctor's office today, I read how the recently renewed attacks between Israel and Hamas (Gaza Strip) were inflamed by an attack on three Israeli teenagers, which provoked a reply attack on an innocent Gaza teenager. Four young people dead (plus so many more!) and grieving, loving communities determined to make sure their lives are avenged. I can only imagine the grief, and the desire to retaliate. But it never ends. Killing only begets more killing. 

While waiting for the doctor, I jotted this down on my iphone, a sad ode to the conflict in the middle east:

Peace on Earth

You, with your murderous audacity, you who took the three sons we bow to bury, the teens we don't know, the teens we vow to avenge. You, we will kill, not directly, as you hide in the smoke and alleys. We will not cut your shadowed face or rip your well-fed limbs.

Instead, we will take the baby-faced 16 year old, on his way home from school, with dinner on his mind. Him we will drag off the sidewalk. Him we will smash on the gutter grate. Him we will burn while he gasps and cries and shakes.

Your teen shall join our teens, your wife shall join our wives, your babies shall join our babies, in the hot exhaust of our hate that knows no end, in the toxic fumes that trail our lives of anger and revenge.

Peace you shall not know, and peace we shall not know, until peace we find together, in the brotherhood of hell.

We are so blessed and protected here in the US. And yet, the world is fraying at the edges. Now we have a major airliner shot down with hundreds killed. What can we do? Foster compassion, peace, love. And spread the same wherever you can. And, please, don't bury your heads in the sense of isolation we have here in the US. We need to stay involved in our world to effect change. 

With love and gratitude!

xo, Cate