Reflections of A to Z Challenge April 2018

Blog A-to-Z Reflection [2018]

A few days after I had started blogging again, a blogger I follow posted her theme reveal for the April 2018 A to Z Challenge. https://promptlings.wordpress.com/2018/03/19/a-to-z-challenge-2018-theme-reveal/.   As I read her post, I got excited because this Challenge sounded like a perfect way to develop the habit of writing every day. My life is less hectic now, and I felt there was really no excuse but to be consistent with my writing.  I knew the exercise would help me to be more disciplined.  I also enjoy and actually fare better, when I am working with a team or in a community. I thought this was perfect!

Without much thought to the process, I clicked the link and signed up.  I did not post on all twenty-six letters, but I was glad that I was able to get as much done as I did.  The A to Z Challenge April 2018 did serve its purpose for my personal goals.  I have made blogging part of my daily routine.  I didn’t get much feedback, but I did enjoy exploring other blogs.  Because of my limited experience with blogging, I learned a lot from the different styles of writing, and of course, I enjoyed the creativity.  It also encouraged me to take more pictures when I am out and about. 

There were some issues that made the A to Z Challenge more demanding than it needed to be.   The first was I was sick the first week of the challenge and the next week I was trying to catch up until I convinced myself that was not necessary.  I breathed a sigh of relief and moved on.  Second, my theme was broad and not clear – even to me.  I chalk it up to the fact that I really had no clue what I was doing when I signed up, and I had no overall plan.   Sometimes I felt like I was on Sesame Street trying to find a prompt from random words for the “letter of the day.”   Somedays it was amusing to me as I sang … “the letter of the day is here…” in my head of course.   I was able to come up with a post whether from my unfinished work or an idea that popped into my head while humming that tune all morning.

The only negative thing I can say is that for some reason I did not feel connected to the group.  Perhaps I misread the instructions, and as I indicated I earlier, I didn’t understand the process.  I tried to get back to the original page where I had signed up to review the instructions, but I could not find it.  I did not understand it was a page outside of WordPress.com.  I did not get the daily badges with a different letter each day.  I still don’t understand much about the spreadsheet or how to post to a community page.  I’m hoping this will get there. 

Overall, there is no question that I would do it again.   Thanks so much to the hosts for organizing it; looks like there was a lot more behind the scenes work than I realized. I’m hoping I can get things straight for next year.   Looking forward to 2019.   Lindi Roze

 

Willy-Nilly and Wocka-Wocka Letter W

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If you’ve read my blog before, you know I am a Beginning Blogger. I started this blog Willy-Nilly, without direction or planning; haphazardly. I jumped into this A to Z Challenge without much understanding of the process, and in trying to meet the daily deadlines, I feel like my thoughts are all over the place. I am looking forward to completing this challenge, but I must admit, I’m proud that I’ve stayed in this long. I think the most difficult aspect is that I chose a very broad theme. Each day I wake up feeling like I’m on Sesame Street looking for the Letter of the Day. Then I rummage through those “snapshots” in my memory files to find a match.

This is my second time starting a blog but alas- my skills remain at entry level. Since I have a bit more time these days, I’ve also decided to dedicate some energy to setting up my page and getting to know what’s behind the screen. That’s where Fozzie Bear’s Wocka, Wocka comes in. Today I spent most of the morning in a cyber backroom, chatting with one of the Happiness Engineers at WordPress. Chatting is difficult when I don’t know the lingo, but the person on the other end was quite patient and answered all my questions. Most importantly the HE straightened out my domain issues which will make my blog easier to find and my behind the screen dashboard easier to manage.

At the end of the day, I feel a bit like Fozzie Bear. He tries so hard that his ineptness is endearing and we are all cheering for him waiting for the day he gets it right. Well, I don’t have a fan base yet, but my family has my back.  I appreciate them for that. This song is exactly how I’ve been feeling.   Dancing in the Dark.

Enjoy it with me.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAxNcWLx6hw

 

Voting- A to Z challenge letter V

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I was struggling with whether or not to use today’s letter “V” to broach the subject of Voting. Elections or anything remotely in the political arena puts me over the edge. It’s definitely an area that I tend to “self-censor” for the benefit of those around me. I noticed a couple of folks did use the word for the AtoZ challenge and so having participated in a rather animated meeting the other night; I decided to jump in and talk about Voting.

Full disclosure – sometimes I want to shake people who show such apathy towards the election process. I can’t wrap my head around it. It’s sad to me that people don’t realize what a privilege it is to live in a country where each citizen is entitled to one vote – to have a say in how the country is run and how funds are dispersed for services. Voting does matter!

Originally it was only white, male landowners who were able to vote on the laws of the land. Through centuries of strife and struggles women, Native Americans, former slaves and other foreign-born were granted the all rights of citizenship, including the right to vote. This privilege was not handed to us but earned with blood, sweat, and tears -literally. If we the people don’t use our power to have a voice, the elected officials can take it upon themselves to make decisions based on what they think is the best interest of their constituents. We have seen referendums and laws shot down or put away because there hasn’t been enough interest from the general public. We have seen others put in place before anyone could appreciate the detrimental impact on the nation.

Don’t get me wrong; I get it. I happen to like this stuff, and yet I too get tired of the rhetoric. I like the research, the arguments, and hearing the candidates’ plans to make things better. I like studying the ins and outs of new proposals. I don’t listen to just one side. To know my choices, I research both viewpoints as much as can. I have voted for a candidate based on past performance regardless of party affiliation. I have become quite active and passionate about some issues, but there are times when even I’ve had enough and want it over. I think in our era of social media and cable networks, all the input can be overwhelming.

What I hear most from people is that it doesn’t matter because “they” are all the same. “They” are just out for their self-interests, out for the money. Despite what we have seen recently, I can tell you “they” are not all the same. Some have sought office with genuine intention to serve rightfully but then lose their vision fighting the uphill battle caught up in the bureaucracy. I have also seen men and women in office fight for their constituents as if they were fighting for their own family members. I do believe we play a role in not letting our representatives get complacent or stagnant. They need our feedback, our letters, our phone calls and our attendance at town meetings to help them have the pulse on what is going on back home.

I can sit here and tell you that one party is better than another but I ask you instead to love your country enough to take a stand for democracy and vote. Be responsible. I can’t stress enough to look beyond the headlines and the talking points in political ads. Knowledge takes away the fear factor. Don’t just “share” trash on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Research what you are reposting – especially if it sounds absurd or preposterous –even if it is sympathetic to your beliefs. Let’s not have a repeat of false information spread throughout the web as we’ve had in recent years. There are plenty of sites where you can do a quick fact check. Here are a few to get you started: Fact Checker, Politifact, Snopes, The Sunlight Foundation.  There are others but these have been widely recognized to use neutral language to prevent even an appearance of bias.

In closing, I ask you to check your local voting lists. Make sure you are still on the list, and all your vital information is current. Maybe you were dropped for not voting. If you need to register, you can do it online at https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote.
Know your candidates and ballot issues. If you can’t make a meeting with candidates, go to their website to get the details of their platform. If they have been in public service before, you can research their voting record at such sites as https://votesmart.org/; https://www.headcount.org/issues-and-candidates/; https://www.usa.gov/voter-research.
There will be plenty of information online and in handouts all over your city as we get closer to November.

Don’t take for granted what our service men and women have fought for around the world. Don’t just wave your flag on Memorial Day or the Fourth of July – make it count in November. We are part of an already great nation but WE THE PEOPLE need to step-it-up. We can do this!

The Red, White and Blue

Upside Down – A to Z challenge letter U

 

What happens when your world is upside down, and you feel like you are holding on to the edge with your fingertips? How do you manage to get back on top or at least get a better grip?

The other day I received a message from a young man who I hadn’t spoken to in about 30 years. The last time I saw him, he was 16 or 17, and I was his Youth Leader in church. Some of you may be doing the math and maybe don’t consider this a young man, but time and memory are funny that way. Your memory keeps those snapshots of the way it was, and in this situation, we both found ourselves the way we were.

He was never your typical Choir Boy or Boy Scout. In truth, he was the proverbial black sheep of his family, but he had a good heart, and one could tell he just couldn’t get out of his own way. Although his mother was a leader in our church, her son was out of reach to her and his immediate family. The rest of us tried to bridge that gap during those turbulent years and so when he reached out, I was there for him- his youth leader again.

He got straight to the point. Since I had last seen him, he had continued with his self-reported “craziness” for several years but when he met someone with “good sense”; he fell in love, and his life began to turn around. They’ve been married for twenty plus years; have three lovely children-already finishing college. He went back to church for a while, bought the house with the picket fence, the furnishings, the cars and the dog. A few months ago, without warning, his wife announced that she needed space and wanted to separate for an indefinite period. He felt he couldn’t go on without her; everything he’d accomplished had been for her. I reminded him that this was what he had always wanted and he achieved it. Not just for her, but for himself.

I listened carefully with my third ear, trying to hear what was actually going on. I don’t make assumptions, I don’t know his wife, and although I believe our core stays the same, the chances are that so much time has passed, that I don’t truly know who this young man has become. In my experience, things never come out of the blue.

When he was done, I asked a few questions. Some he wasn’t ready to answer, but he listened.  He was briefly able to step back and recognize some of the things I was talking about. Naturally, when it was too painful, he deflected, and we moved on. Put in on the back burner, I told him, and I shared some of what has helped me in times of trouble or distress.  The trick to survival is using your tools.

• Take care of yourself. Stay healthy. Get out and move – exercise. Keep your mind clear and grounded with mediation or prayer or both. If you know substances like alcohol or drugs are a trigger, don’t reach for that as your life saver. The chances are that you’ll go under to the dark side quicker.
• Be open to self-reflection but don’t beat yourself up. We all make mistakes, just be honest with yourself. Are you doing the best you can? Is this your best self?
• Try to walk in the shoes of the other person but don’t judge. Don’t take it personally. Each one of us is dealing with our own issues, battle scars, and fears. Yes, even your life partner may have difficulties communicating some things. Don’t push. Be ready to accept and respect the other person’s decision.
• Remember each day is a clean slate. We can make it what we want. Eleanor Roosevelt, one of my favorites said “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” from Brainyquote.com

It happens to all of us. How do you get back on top when your world is upside down?

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Twinkle little star. A to Z Challenge

Windows in heaven
Perhaps they are not stars, but rather windows in Heaven where the love of those who went ahead pours through and shines upon us…

 

Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are. Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky… or as my fifteen-month granddaughter sings it “kakle, kakle, sahh, ahh, ahh.” Don’t judge.  Her mother grew up in New England where people say “Pahk yah, cahs in Hahvahd Yahd.”  It could be she’s already picking up the accent her mother brought to their new home fifteen hundred miles away. The point is that my granddaughter loves that song. Every time I go to visit, almost as soon as I walk in through the door, she brings her storybook with the big yellow star on the cover. We put the world on “pause”,  she proceeds to climb on my lap and rests her little head on my chest. We cuddle to read it- at least three times before we can move on. I don’t mind. I love it!

I can’t say that she’s made a connection between the star in the book and the immense collection of twinkling diamonds in the night sky outside her window. She rarely stays up past 7:30 anyway. I’m sure when she’s old enough; she will be as mesmerized by the vast infinity of bright lights in the night sky as I am. How can she not?

The first time I was aware of the overwhelming expansion of the stars in the black velvet sky, I was breathless. To understand the extent of my reaction, you have to remember that I am a “city kid.” I grew up at a time when folks were talking about smog, pollution and how to make the air better in the large cities across the country.  I don’t lie when I tell you that I never imagined the night sky could be so much more amazing than a visit to the planetarium. I was about 16. It was during a Winter Youth Retreat in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, the night was crisp and not a cloud in the sky. It was magical.

I’ve lived just outside city limits since then, and whenever there is a night clear enough to see the sky full of stars, I swear I feel a little tipsy.  It still takes my breath away.  In one of those moments of stretching reality through imagination, I promised my kids that when I’m gone from this world, I’ll try to find a way to still keep looking out for them. Maybe I’ll be looking out from behind one of those stars. In our family, many of our loved ones have left this earth before we were ready to  say “Goodbye.” I love that quote that suggests that stars are windows in the sky for our loved ones to see us. Here Anne Murray’s version of the same idea.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbZBZC01_sQ

I do believe that our loved ones have the opportunity to become angels or spirit guides as some faith practices believe. A teacher once said it might take some longer than others, but that’s why we pray for the deceased souls and offer services. I find that comforting, maybe that’s why I will always love a starry, starry night. It lights my soul and gives me hope. Blog challengea2z-h-small.