Tag Archives: Blogging A to Z

2015 Blogging A to Z Challenge — That’s a Wrap

This April I participated in the A to Z blog challenge. This was my second foray into the challenge, having first completed it in April, 2013. One difference this year is that I volunteered as a minion — someone who would commit to visiting a certain group of blogs every day so that each blogger would receive comments and visits. We were also charged with rooting out any blogs that were simply there for commercial purposes, as well as noting blogs that were not actually participating.

Although I had been given two groups of ten blogs to visit, I decided to branch out significantly and visit as many as possible. I ended up visiting over 600 blogs during the challenge. Visiting that many gave me a good sense for the types of blogs that are out there. One very popular type is the author blog, used as more or less a marketing tool for the person’s book(s). I greatly enjoyed a few of these.

As I experienced the first time around, I found some lovely people whose writing and philosophy resonated with me, and we are enjoying each other’s blog and comments. One in particular I think of is the Widow Badass at http://www.widowbadass.com. Another GREAT blog is http://www.mysteriouskaddu.com. Miss_terious wrote 26 blogs on blogging, and they were very well done.

One of the most beautiful blogs I visited was https://theartisticchristian.wordpress.com.

Visiting 600 blogs was pretty time-consuming, and I found myself wishing there was an easier way than simply opening each new blog in a new tab. It would have been great if I could have just clicked a “next” button to see the next one on the list. Another thought is I wish there were some way to change up the order of the list. It took me a good number of days working through the blogs one by one before I thought to jump down to the last hundred and work through those. I doubt that those blogs get as much traffic and their traffic would probably increase if they showed up in the list nearer the top.

I loved blogging a theme this month but I am also glad to be back to my regular style. I moved to a new platform this month, from Blogger to WordPress, which was a fantastic move. All in all, participating this year was enjoyable, a boost to my own blogging, and a great way to connect with others. I will definitely do it again.

Z is for Zyzzyva

One Sunday evening after church, we were invited over to the Grohs’ home to play games and eat ice cream. While the adults laughed over squeaky clean jokes in the dining room, Mike (one year older than I) and I and maybe others played the game Probe. (It’s a word game, people.) That was the night I learned the word “syzygy.” I think Mike was only in 8th or 9th grade to my 7th or 8th, but he was one brainy dude. I liked that word a lot, and tried to use it three times in a sentence (because once you did that, the word was yours permanently. I think I learned that from Reader’s Digest). However, even the definition of syzygy was kind of wordy and it didn’t stick.

So, remembering that distinctive word, I went on a little quest tonight to see what exotic word I might come up with. Back to phrontistery.info I went to peruse the list of unusual words that begin with the letter z. Peruse, peruse, scan, hmm, peruse, notice, peruse. Last word. zyzzyva.

I like spelling it. I like saying it. I love what it means (the definition that describes it as the final word in some dictionaries.)  And it’s also the name of a beautiful magazine about west coast artists and writers. It’s also a type of South American weevil, often destructive to plants (emphasis MINE).

Seeing as how this is the LAST entry in the 2015 A to Z blog challenge, I couldn’t resist this word.

ZYZZYVA Magazine‘s website looks to be an absolute treasure trove of interesting books, interviews with artists, events in the San Francisco area, and visually pleasing images.

Zyzzyva: The Last Word in Word Study is a program you can download to study Scrabble words, should you be so inclined.

And, that, dear readers, brings this year’s A to Z Blogging Challenge to a close. Thank you for joining me for this journey and please do continue to visit and comment.









Yes, and ……..

valerie saying yes

When “Whose Line is it Anyway?” was on the air, Greg and I were deep in our “raising-children-without-television” years, so I have only seen a couple sketches on YouTube. There are some great ones with Robin Williams. And when I was growing up, “improvisation” was about the piano! It was cool to be able to improvise on the piano. I don’t even remember hearing about the comedy form of “improv,” even if it was being practiced around me, or even by me!

As I hurtle from book to book in my life, I gnaw my way through some, power my way through others, and positively jump into a few with both feet and all my toes. One of the books in that latter category which I happened on a few years ago is called “Truth in Comedy” by Charna Halpern, Del Close, and Kim “Howard” Johnson. (Figures it would be a collaborative effort since it is the “manual of improvisation” and improv is most definitely a collaborative effort.)

Chapter 4 is called “Yes, &.” Rather than arguing, this rule means the actors agree, AND add something, which gives the other actor something to continue the sketch with.

That works in life, too! When I say “no” to what is happening, I pretty much close off my creative paths. When I say “yes, and” I’m allowing my creative juices to flow in responding to what is happening.

While writing this post, I got sucked into the vortex of YouTube looking for the perfect sketch I could link to. I probably spent an hour, at the end of which I had nothin’. I can say “NO, I DO NOT ACCEPT THIS AND I SHALL FIND A VIDEO, DANG IT.” and then what’s left to me but to continue to go through them one at a time, watching the commercials before every video, getting more and more irritated, looking for the video that I know must be there.

Or, I can say. “Yes, I am not finding a perfect video, and perhaps that means putting a video into this post is not the path for me. Maybe I could finish the post and look later. Maybe I could let my readers search YouTube on their own and find funny videos that they enjoy. Maybe there’s even something different that this post is to be about, something different for me to learn as I write.”

The point, and I do have one, is that saying yes to what is provides a type of agreement that enables me to greet what comes with a semblance of acceptance, and think about how to move forward.

Well, I’ve dithered around with this one for long enough. Or maybe, yes, I’ve dithered with this post for quite some time, and I’d really like to feel good about posting it, so I’m going to stick with it for just a few more minutes . . .

And now I am ready to post. What phrases do you find helpful in dealing with the inevitable changes that come?


All of the A to Z bloggers around the world have been fussing about this letter, I’m sure. What to choose? Should I cheat and use a word with “x” somewhere in it? How about using it as the first letter colloquially, like x-tra? Well, who wants to listen to me natter on about the troubles of blogging? NO ONE.

My theme this month is acceptance. Acceptance for this letter means that I accept that there really isn’t any word that feels meaningful to me to write about. Sure, there is xenophobe, xenophile, and xenomania, and other words having to do with a preference for, or strong fear of, that which is foreign to us. Maybe that’ll be my post next year for the challenge.

In the meantime, I found this Very Cool Website called Xeno-canto. The site was begun in 2005 by two men who are part of the four-member team who maintain the site to this day. The idea is to upload bird songs, so that others might share in the discovery and the appreciation.

I remember distinctly the sound of the Australian bell bird, and can even remember the exact car park (parking lot in Aussie) we were in when I first heard them. And look here! There are multiple recordings of the bell birds on xeno-canto. And mourning doves! (which I grew up thinking were “morning” doves because that’s always when I heard them).  This is similar to what I woke to every morning in my sunny Ohio bedroom. How was I ever grumpy in the morning??

Do you love bird songs like I do? What songs are connected with special memories for you?

W is for Whopper-jawed and other Linguistical Funnies

My dad had all kinds of colorful sayings. “I hope to kiss a garboon,” he’d say, to emphasize how much he meant what he was saying. There were a few that were acceptable then, that are no longer appropriate, so we’ll skip those, but he did say the darnedest things. One of the words he used regularly was “whopper-jawed.” I was a kid, so I didn’t really think about what that meant. It’s not like we were texting back and forth, so I never saw the word in print. I actually thought it was spelled wopperjod. When I pronounced it, it definitely sounded like wopperjod. Much later, I thought to ask what the heck this word meant. I really don’t know or care about the origin of it because I have enough minutiae in my brain to fill a ten-story building, but I do think it’s a cool word.

One other very fun memory I have is from the eighth grade city-wide spelling bee. This was the written portion where we would find out if we qualified for the next level. All my life, I had been reading the word façade as Fuh-Kade. All my life. I didn’t even know what it was. As a young reader, I read now and figured out what it meant later or not at all. So, during the spelling bee, I was doing my best and suddenly i hear this word Fuh-Sahd, only I had no context whatsoever for it, and simply could not imagine what they were saying. I thought and thought and thought and didn’t arrive at façade. The best I could come up with, and believe me this was hard for Miss Goody Two-Shoes to write, was pissad. Greg and I still use this word to this day because it’s just so precious. “We have greatly altered the pissad of our home by adding vinyl siding.” LOL.

Back when Reader’s Digest was a ubiquitous magazine, I’d always do the “Word Power” challenge. I have always loved words and have written elsewhere about my spelling triumphs and failures, as well as my 30-year streak of playing Boggle with my Dad. I’ve always noticed words and enjoyed word play. Do you have any words that you originally thought were something else?

How the Week Turned Out

This week, I blogged about the movie Seymour: An Introduction  on Sunday. I’m looking forward to seeing it again in the near future. Seeing that film was truly a highlight of joy in a time that has a passel of challenges.

On Monday, I learned a new word, “quicksticks” and enjoyed using it this week. Kepler in particular benefits from being told to move a little more quickly. No, wait. I benefit from telling him to move a little more quickly. He really doesn’t change anything. It just makes me feel better.

Since I volunteered at Kepler’s school on Monday, I realized that I wanted to change my approach, and blogged about how I see the school teaching to the test, and how I feel that is shortchanging the students, and how I recognize that it is probably nigh unto impossible to do anything else with the amount of bureaucratic red tape public schools are wrapped up in.

Tuesday, I was taken with the poetry bug and wrote a poem about the The Rain of Regret. There are many times when I get bombarded by memories of things I wish I had said differently and done differently. Part of me knows that I was doing the best I could at the time with the information that I had. Part of me feels the pain of regret that it was my best.

Wednesday, I found a great list about self-care, a topic I was very slow to warm to since it sounded too close to “selfish.” All in all, self-care always necessitates a willingness to be a critical thinker. It can be easy to act without thinking, and self-care doesn’t happen that way.

Thursday was a rough day, as I processed the pain of being continually lied to by a drug addict, and how good I am at forgetting the pain of that until it smacks me upside the head again. On Friday, I wrote a part two to that post about the ongoing role my questions of my addict seem to be relevant for me. I had wanted to follow up on Thursday, but had come down with a flu-like illness that laid me low and is still demanding attention.

As a result of being ill, Friday my post on the Universe was short and sweet. Maybe I’ll decide to expand on that one sometime.

Saturday, still focused on getting well, I wrote about Voice, riffing off of an article by Todd Henry, and ending with The Moody Blues’ The Voice.

Among all of this, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and did step one of gathering up my clothing from all over the house, and then decided which items to keep by handling each one and deciding if it brought a spark of joy to me. I would say I got rid of half of my clothes, and it really is different to open my closet and see only clothes that bring me joy. I do believe I will be going through the whole pile once more as I know I fudged a few things that didn’t actually create a spark of joy.

A few days were dreary and rainy, and we went back to some colder temperatures this week. This makes the bright, sunny days just that much sweeter. The local high school show choir placed 2nd at nationals (YEA!), which thrilled my daughter, who hopes to join their ranks next year, and I knocked back a few books this week.

Did you have a favorite post this week, either on your own blog, or on mine, or both?

P is for Pain. Or maybe Perfect, What’s Next. Or both. Yes, both.

I would guess that a fair few people will choose “pain” for their A to Z blog challenge p word. I’m using it because it’s one of those times when the phrase “Perfect, What’s Next.” is just the perfect thing to say.

As I write about acceptance this month, I have noticed that often the times I am being asked to be accepting of something is when I experience some sort of pain. The pain that comes from tons of different challenges opportunities.

If, at the point of pain, I accept the situation as being perfect, and simply move on toward what’s next, I free my creativity to kick into gear.

I can’t find an important paper? “Perfect, what’s next” allows me to expend little to no energy fussing about fact of the lostness of the paper, and instead focus on what I’m going to do about it.

I’m running late for an appointment? “Perfect, what’s next” keeps me in the present, remembering to drive safely, and figure out instead what to do about being late. Call someone? Relax? Cry? A and B, but not C?

Someone misunderstands me? “Perfect, what’s next?” allows me to accept the fact of being misunderstood and then think creatively about how to try again to communicate what I am saying.

It’s a simple, but pretty brilliant phrase that I find to be quite the powerful little pattern interrupt. My favorite iteration of it in the movies was Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) in “Say Anything.” His philosophy: Acknowledge, and move on. (I looked for a clip on YouTube, but one was not readily apparent. To that, I say “Perfect, What’s Next?”) Well, you could just watch the film.

K is for Karma

Like so many big concepts in my life, I learned the word “karma” from the Beatles, in their song, “Instant Karma.” I didn’t bother to find out what karma was. Considering the amount of fear I carried around as a child, I only knew that if it was gonna get me, I probably didn’t want to get too close to it.

Even the Bible’s version of this was frightening and ominous: “Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7)

There are other places on the internet and in books where you can read all about karma. The manner in which I am using this word is similar to the idea of sowing and reaping, and has to do with the energetic connections of our actions.

What I was taught was that bad things happen to good people, and while I don’t disagree with that, there is great power in giving out compassion, kindness, goodness, patience, love, peace and joy to the world. When we are radiating these types of characteristics, we are going to draw those same things to ourselves.

I see it again and again. When I approach people with a smile, and a genuine caring heart, they are much more likely to be open to me, to help me with what I am asking for, and to take in the positive “vibes” I am giving out. I’ve seen the opposite as well — when I’m resentful or already angry before I come into contact with someone, the interaction is of a complete different quality.

So, I’ve accepted it. I love knowing that the energy I give out has an impact on others, and also impacts what comes back to me. This belief motivates me even more to come to people and situations with an open heart, as a perpetual beginner, and a lifelong learner.

How do you experience the concept of sowing and reaping in your life?