Day 30: The end of the beginning

To my readers and followers, today is the day. The last day of NaBloPoMo. Day 30.

I started this post off like any other – I checked the blogher prompts, read a few blogs that have already posted for the day (one of the perks of writing later at night), and then checked the daily post prompt. Every day for a month I’ve checked the prompts but every day I’ve wandered off in my own direction. When I opened the daily post today I finally saw it – the prompt I’d been waiting for –

What’s the longest stretch you’ve ever pulled off of posting daily to your blog? What did you learn about blogging through that achievement, and what made you break the streak?
(If you’re a NaBloPoMo participant, congratulations on reaching your goal!)

Now I can officially say that my longest stretch of daily posting is 30 days. Congrats to any of my fellow NaBloPoMo finishers and a shout out to all those NaNoWriMo finishers too! Congrats on accomplishing your goal this November. I’m sure for some it was a hard fought victory. Well done!

So, what have I learned about this month?

Well, first and foremost I learned that I do enjoy writing. Blogging is different than poetry or the non-fiction writing I’ve done in the past but it’s a nice way to help get my thoughts out there.

I’ve also learned that Tony is a great supporter. He doesn’t immediately pick up the pom-poms and start shaking his rear (thank goodness) but he does encourage me when he knows it’s something I want to be doing. Thanks dear.

Finally, I’ve learned there is quite the warm blogging community out in the world. I’ve only been at this for a month but already I’ve encountered at least 20 other people in this world who have taken an interest in my writing (a shout out to my zen homies ♥). That is such a neat concept to me – having other people reading and/or commenting on the words I say. Thank you guys for that.

I’m not sure where I’ll go from here or what my plan is. I’m not really one for plans anyways. I do know I’d like to learn more about blogs and web development. I’d also like to keep writing in some form. I think that’s a good start. So while we wave good bye to the month and the blog writing challenge, I can safely say this is not a good bye for me This is merely an ending to the current chapter. An end of a beginning if you will. There is always more life to explore.

For those who would like to keep on this journey with me I’ve signed up for NaBloPoMo December. I may not be writing every day but the theme of “JOY” was too wonderful a fit to pass up on. The only requirement I will put on myself for the month of December is that I must address all of the prompts listed here on Blogher. It’s my hope that exploring a month of JOY will help me in my journey to living a more purposeful life.

Congrats again to those of you finishing this journey and good luck to anyone who is continuing on through December with me.

Let’s be Friends

Dear Black Friday,

Let me put this right out in the front of my letter – we aren’t friends. I’m sorry but it’s true. You see, you represent dark and dirty consumerism. You encourage people to fill their lives, and the lives of others, with more junk. You represent financial gain, self-interest, and greed. And, as if all that wasn’t bad enough, you arrive the day after (or the day) we celebrate being thankful for what we already have.Please tell me you see the irony? Your so often successful ploys to pull people out of their beds and away from their families makes me clench my fists. Shop! Buy! Save! Be Happy! you say to people. As if that $30 tchotchke is what’s going to push them over into nirvana. (Hint: it won’t).

Here’s the thing though… I don’t think you want it to be this way. I think consumers and the media have pushed you into being a big jerk. Perhaps they sold you a sob story about how the economy is hurting and it’s more important than ever this year to really put yourself out there. Or, perhaps they appealed to your more logical side and said how “doorbuster deals” would be a mutually beneficial scenario for both consumers and sellers. Or perhaps they just sit in the back of the room and repeatedly jab you with a hot cattle iron. I’m not really sure.

Whatever it is they’ve told you though, I just don’t think your heart is really in it anymore. Which is why I’m writing this letter to you. I want to offer you a deal — Let’s be friends, okay?

I mean it, real pals. The kind who will catch a movie or sip lattes in Starbucks together. I’m willing to give you a pass on the monster you have become and we can start fresh – a clean slate. If you promise to be reasonable (for example not starting door busters on Thanksgiving MORNING) then I will promise to purchase a few needed items during your sales. I’ll also do what I can to support local small businesses throughout the year, because I know we’d both like to see them do well.

I’ve been very honest with you in this letter so I can understand if you have a certain hesitation when it comes to considering a friendship with me. That’s why I wanted to get a head start on our deal from above. Yesterday I put in an order for a few items I’ve been holding out on buying. I took advantage of your deals to better support my needs – see, mutually beneficial. I supported a number of small businesses by purchasing from them and I even ordered online so as not to place an undo staffing burden on stores. Please except these orders as a gesture of good will.

I guess that’s all I have to say for now. I do hope you’ll consider giving our friendship a chance but don’t feel like you need to answer right away. Take some time to think about it. I’ll check back in with you next year.

Take care and get some rest.

With love,
ZenFichey

Friday Foodlets: Family Feast

Holy cow it’s Friday already? This week flew by. Time for another Friday food post. Yay food!

I actually took a little holiday leave this week (a rare occurrence for me) so I only had to prepare two lunches for work. Well, okay, so I prepared three lunches but totally didn’t manage to eat the third one. oops! All three lunches were the same exact thing but I did spice it up for breakfast. Haha, literally!

Monday and Tuesday: Breakfast: cinnamon banana pancakes. Mmmm! (I followed this super simple recipe) Lunch: Turkey and cheese roll-ups with spicy brown mustard, applesauce, black beans, cucumber slices, raisins

Wednesday: Breakfast: red apple and peanut butter. Lunch: Same as Monday and Tuesday but the combination of a busy morning and being released early from work meant I only ate the applesauce and half of the cucumbers.

Time at home makes for fairly fluid and flexible eating so I don’t usually bother to do a meal by meal breakdown. I do have a few holiday highlights though.

Thursday Thanksgiving dinner: An antipasto appetizer tray, shredded pork, mashed potatoes, applesauce, and meatballs. Tony had spaghetti and meatballs but it was regular spaghetti so I passed on the noodles and sauce.

Friday: Chili! We went out for a date night dinner and I had a very tasty bowl of prime beef chili. Very very tasty.

I hope that y’all found some healthy and tasty items to nom on this Thanksgiving.


Today I am thankful for: Paper towels. Seriously, my life would be significantly ickier without them.

30 things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving

Today is the day! One of my favorite holidays – Thanksgiving! A day where we feast with loved ones as a way to celebrate all of the love and good fortune in our lives. I wasn’t sure what I would write about today but after giving it some thought I’ve decided, why not set out a visual feast of thankfulness right here on the blog.

Without further ado, my thanksgiving smorgasbord (in no particular order):

  1. My wonderful husband
  2. Caring friends
  3. A supportive (former) boss
  4. A kick-ass mother-in-law
  5. My little car
  6. A warm bed to sleep in
  7. Clean water
  8. Always enough food to eat
  9. Hot showers
  10. My comfy chair
  11. The blogging couch
  12. My iPad2
  13. Chocolate cake
  14. Blueberry muffins
  15. Puppies
  16. Clouds
  17. Heated seats
  18. My good health
  19. Computer games
  20. Ducksauce
  21. Tony’s co-workers
  22. Ice cream
  23.  Gummy bears
  24.  Amazon
  25.  A good education
  26.  My eyesight
  27. The stars
  28.  Geico
  29. airplanes
  30. The ability to be home with the one I love this Thanksgiving

I hope everyone reading is able to spend some time today celebrating that which you are thankful for. Have a wonderful day and please, take some time (even if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving) to think of those things you are thankful for. Feel free to share them here in the comments too. It’s always great to hear what others are thinking about.

Gratitude and Ambition

As we approach Thanksgiving (perhaps you’re even reading this post on Thanksgiving) I want to take a few minutes to address something that has been on my mind for a long time. It’s the pervasive idea that gratitude and ambition are mutually exclusive virtues. In my experience, society places a high value on gratitude but bristles at the idea of an ambitious individual.

As children we are taught to be polite and to always be thankful for the kindness of others. We are to be ever grateful for the good things that happen in our lives. Before I go on I want to say that I believe teaching gratitude is a very important thing to do. We don’t live on this planet in isolation and it’s important to acknowledge who and what helps us along our journey. Ungratefulness is an ugly trait in a human and our society is not designed to appreciate that. Thank goodness!

There is, however, a risk to over-engaging in gratitude. It’s the point in which you start to frame your life in terms of the things that happen to you. You start to cede the control of your life to other people, or “uncontrollable” events. This path can become self-destructive if you’re not aware of where to draw the line. It’s easy to become unhappy with your life but feel powerless to improve your situation. Or even worse, to feel guilty for not being more grateful for what you already have. One of the most powerful tools to combat this potential downward spiral is the virtue of being ambitious. This allows you to take back the control and make positive changes to your life. If you are ambitious enough it also allows you to improve the lives of others in ways that gratitude alone will never be able to.

Ambition, however, is not usually seen in the positive light. Often times ambition is seen as aggression. Being ambitious is commonly synonymous with being controlling or overpowering. You’re seen as someone who rocks the boat and people don’t usually like that having that type of person around, especially in the workplace. Showing an interest in growing and improving your life and the lives around you is met with either skepticism or even downright negativity. The ambitious individual is chided and asked why their life isn’t already good enough. “Why aren’t you grateful for the things you have? All your blessings aren’t  enough?What more do you need?”

So therein lies the rub. At least for me. Growth is uncomfortable and downright difficult. People who want to improve themselves, and especially people who want to improve situations for others, should be applauded, not reprimanded. Wanting to make the world a better place (even just your small corner of the world) does not mean you are forsaking all of the greatness already in it. It’s not apathy that pushes someone to dedicate themselves to a goal or to strive for success. An ambitious person needs to believe that his/her struggles are worth the fight. In essence, there needs to be something worth fighting for. Without gratitude for what we already have, there would be no point in fighting to make things even better.

This year as Tony and I sit down for our Thanksgiving meal we will take a moment to share those events and people we have been grateful for over the past year – our thanks, our gratitude. When we raise our glasses we will not only be toasting to show our thanks, but we will also be toasting to the future. We will be reaffirming our intentions to build on the greatness we have experienced because, you see, gratitude is only the beautiful beginning.

Public Telenovelas

I have a four hour commute every day –  two hours each way. A majority of my commute is on public transportation. This is not a commute I love but, for now, it is what I have.

In my daily travels I see a lot of unhappy commuters and I feel for them. It is very easy to get wrapped up in the negative side of public transit and for some people it is VERY hard to have to interact with so many people all the time. I am one of those people, so believe me, I understand. Being around other people, especially strangers, is draining for me. Sometimes I find myself snipping at Tony or snipping at the folks I work with after a particularly bad commuting trip. By and large though, I’ve gotten used to spending four hours of every day with 10,000 of my “closest friends”.

My trick? Something I call public telenovelas. Actually, my go-to solution is to sleep. When sleeping isn’t an option though, I go to my public telenovelas. I think a lot of folks have watched telenovelas (a.k.a “soaps”) but if you haven’t, they are basically shows that are character dramas. You have a core group of characters who play out a story line. There are dips and bumps along the way that are always dramatic. Well, it turns out public transportation is just as dramatic. If you don’t see it… just apply a liberal dose of imagination and I’m sure you’ll star to see what I’m talking about.

This week’s notable telenovela was about a twilight relationship (as in the retirement years, not the vampire saga). The main characters are an older man, his lady friend, and their respective families. Already there is great set up for drama. In this week’s episode the man is surprising the woman by meeting her in the city for a picnic. What will happen? Will something go wrong? Will there be a dog involved or perhaps an angry cab driver? Nobody knows! Honestly though, nobody knows because this story isn’t real. It’s merely a thought experiment. Something to work the brain muscles and practice good situational awareness. In reality the guy I sat next to on the bus the other day brought a picnic basket with him and had a nice pair of blue/green khaki pants on. Instead of grumping about being tired and cold I spent the trip wondering what adventures that picnic basket might be involved in. The end result? A much happier me at absolutely no cost to anyone else. So the next time you find yourself playing the waiting game, have some fun with it and build your own telenovela. I promise it will cheer you up. 🙂

Today I am thankful for: the kindness of friends.