Pocket Scrapbooking with Project Life

Cultivate a good life and record it.



good life – by cathy zielske


Part of cultivating a good life is knowing when to get help.

I’m not talking about help with the laundry. I’m talking about developmental help. Hands down, the best decision I have ever made was to start working with a therapist about four years ago.

While this may sound super new-age-y and self-congratulatory, it’s actually the hardest work I have ever done. It has not been what you would call fun. It has not felt good. It has definitely not been easy. But it has saved both me and my husband from a lifetime of unhappily ever after.

Marriage counseling. We used to toss that phrase out as the ultimate threat during arguments. It was bandied about like a catch-all last resort. If we have to argue about this one more time, then I swear, I’m calling a marriage counselor!

The funny thing is, it was the very thing we needed. It wasn’t a threat. It was a rescue; a way to finally sort out a lifetime of how we had learned to exist both as a couple and in the world at large.

At first I thought it would be akin to calling in a referee. Okay, she’s safe on first and you’re out! You need to sit in the penalty box on this one! YOU were wrong. SHE was right! I thought that finally, I could prove to him how right I’d been all this time. That he would see the error of his ways. That we could finally be a happier couple.

But it was actually not about him at all. (What? Are you serious?) It was about me and all the things I needed to look at, understand and then work to change. It was about both of us learning to understand ourselves individually and then working together to redefine what a truly positive relationship looked like.

After 22 years of marriage, we continue to work. Some days are better than others. Rather than saying we’re out of the woods, I like to think that we are simply setting up camp in them. We’re living in an immense forest of life that requires work, love, commitment, and the resolve to get up each day and with an attitude that says, “This is worth it.”

We’re also showing our children that working to create connection is ultimately the most important work you can do. That it’s okay to seek out help when you can’t seem to sort it out on your own. And that it’s the ultimate act of love to work to understand why and then make the changes that are most needed.

I understand that not every couple can or even should make it for the long haul. But I’m very grateful today that my husband and I are giving this marriage thing a run for its money.


Note from Becky

Ummm. Who wants to join me in giving Cathy the biggest squeezy cyber hug ever? I know many of you scrapbookers know her. She is a seriously funny person. And she has an incredibly warm and sentimental heart. I find Cathy to be extremely likable and talented in a hundred ways. Her eye for design is absolutely top-notch. She is a trailblazer for CLEAN + SIMPLE design in an industry that does tend to get quite … “aesthetically busy.” I have always, always been drawn to Cathy’s work and style … and personality for that matter.

I am grateful for the times that our paths have crossed and we’ve been able to chat in real life. I wish she were my neighbor in real life. But since she’s not leaving Minnesota anytime soon and I’m not leaving Arizona anytime soon, I’m really grateful for technology and social media that help us to stay even a little bit “connected.” And I am particularly grateful that Cathy has been open and willing to share something very personal that I know will resonate deeply with many who read this today. Like I said — big hugs to Cathy. And Dan! Here’s to fighting every day to keep marriages strong.

Connect with Cathy  ::  Website | Instagram


26 Responses

  1. Christen says:

    wow! So open and honest. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Lisa R says:

    Thanks for being so open with us, Cathy! I would love for my husband and I to go to counseling to learn how to communicate better! I’ve also taken several of your classes over the years and I love your style <3

  3. Jocelyn Thompson says:

    Absolutely!! ((((((hugs))))) I have been a fan for a long time! Cathy is fabulousness! Thank you for sharing your life with us!

  4. clpalm says:

    I understand completely. We’ve done the same thing. We have been to counseling twice in our marriage and continue to work on our relationship and ourselves. Your right…..it’s not easy. In fact, it’s hard and it stinks. We honestly left counseling sometimes more upset at each other than feeling like we were alright. Things get brought up and the relationship “dance” (as our counselor puts it) is full of stepping on each others feet! Thanks for being honest and letting people know that it’s alright to seek help for the big and the little things! Good luck on your journey…..enjoy the good times and learn from the trials. It is definitely all part of a “good life”!

  5. Marriage is so many wonderful things but it is also work. I think it is great that you are able to talk about counseling and that it is working for you and your husband. :) Big hugs to you.

    Mary from NH

  6. maria cary says:

    Just the message I needed at just the right time. Although I did just have a meltdown half hour prior to reading this. Life back in focus with lessons learned to put into practice when my next inevitable menopausal episode strikes.

    • Cathy says:

      I’m right there, age wise, with the whole menopausal thing. Therapy honestly helped with that, too. Kind of helped with just about everything. : )

  7. LisaT. says:

    (((Hug!))) Thanks for sharing <3. I can relate and agree that marriage, really all relationships, require attention and nurturing.
    I'm a CAS scrapbooker and have always loved Cathy's work. Thanks for all the inspiration!

  8. Esther says:

    “..working to create connection is ultimately the most important work you can do.” – I absolutely agree.

  9. Jeanne Ann says:

    It takes a lot to open up about your personal life and keep it in the family, but to be so honest and to share with the world is just another reason to love Cathy. When someone can be honest it makes the rest of us realize that we can do the same, we just have to be willing to put in the work. Thank you Cathy for being an inspiration not only on the scrapbooking front but on the life front as well. Love ya!

  10. brenda Howell says:

    This is what I love about Cathy….
    She keeps it real and very normal. In an industry where everything is presented as perfect it’s refreshing to see some realness!!

  11. Carrie says:

    I love Cathy’s honest perspective on all things in her life. She is one of my fave scrapbookers/bloggers (next to Becky, of course!).
    Thank you CZ for sharing!

  12. I have always admired this amazing woman whom I’ve never met! I love her honesty and willingness to share her story…with yeah, pretty much the world! We all need to hear that we are not the only ones with trials. Yes, we know it but hearing it is what helps. We could all use a reminder of reality (that no one is as perfect as they may seem on the outside) and that hope exists. There is always a path to follow that will lead us to a healthier lifestyle; both physically and mentally.
    You are awesome Cathy! And I love your strength and courage in sharing your story!! I love that you keep it real!

  13. Tiffany H says:

    I so love Cathy for her honesty. Along with her great eye for design. {{hugs}} to her and her husband for not giving up.

  14. Jett says:

    thank you Cathy for always keeping it real. I wish that my marriage could have been saved, but it doesn’t work if only half of the parnership is willing to work on it. I learned that sometime you have to love someone enough to let them go.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, that is so true. It takes both parties. I’ve seen it with some of my closest and dearest friends where it was not possible.

  15. Kelli Williams says:

    Cathy’s one of my favourites!

  16. Monica says:

    When something is worth the fight – – we fight and kudos to you and Dan for doing this. It’s obviously important enough for you two and your immediate family to fight the battle of what most would give up on.

    Yes – – Cyber hugs to you!

  17. dawn says:

    I have always loved Cathy and she can make me laugh more then anyone and cry too. Today I cried reading this, so touching and mature and filled with love. YOU ROCK CATHY, always have and always will. So thankful to know you even if only thru the screen. Sending you a big HUG!

    Thanks Becky for having Cathy here, it’s the best of both worlds with you two together.

  18. Mary says:

    Love how you keep it real, Cathy! Thanks for sharing!

  19. Kelly says:

    Thanks for sharing this. My husband and I had gone to counseling two years ago then I got cancer so that got put on the backburner and we never got around to going back. This post served as a reminder that WE NEED to go back. I have issues and HE does too…if we want to save our relationship.