Reflections on A to Z Challenge 2016

A to Z challenge 2016

I participated in the April A to Z challenge 2016 and I am very pleased that I completed it successfully. When I signed up for the challenge, I did it on a whim and had no clue how I was going to continue, for I had no particular theme in mind and also April was going to be another busy month (just like every other month) with very little or no time for blogging. However, now that I survived the challenge it is time to reflect on the challenge.

The Good part:

  • I had no particular theme in mind. My first post was about the current ‘big’ thing in my life – our plans to relocate to India after living in the UK for over a decade. From then on every single post was about whatever was going on in my mind just as I start to type my post. That way it was easier and less stressful to churn out posts each day.
  • My blog had been silent until the challenge. During the last two years I always wanted to blog but never really got around to doing it. With A to Z challenge I experienced the power of determination. I was determined to complete the challenge because I started it and so I was motivated to write each day no matter how busy I was.
  • The main purpose of starting this blog was to document the good, bad and ugly aspects of my parenting journey but I hardly documented anything up until the challenge started.  With A to Z challenge I was able to recollect and document a lot of those precious memories which otherwise would have been locked only in my memory.
  • The comeback! A to Z challenge has enabled me to come back to blogging. In the past I wondered many times how to get back to blogging. What better chance than the challenge to make a new start or comeback!
  • Towards the challenge together! I just loved how the challenge connected all fellow participant bloggers. I met a whole bunch of new blogger friends. A big thank you to all you bloggers who read and commented on my posts. Without your support and encouragement it would not have been possible for me to continue with the challenge.

The Not So Good Part:

  • I did not have any post scheduled. So, one some days I had to lose sleep to post in time.
  • I did not engage with my readers as much as I would have liked to. I did not respond to the comments my readers left for me thinking I would come back to them at a later point only to realize I have left it too late. Still, I am very grateful to all my readers who commented despite lack of response from my side.
  • I read so many blogs but left comments for only few of them. Perhaps I should have left my footprints in all those blogs that I visited even if it was only a little sentence.

The Great Part:

  • With A to Z challenge I have been able to overcome my fears and reservations about my use of English language. The challenge has enabled me to unleash my inner voice. I feel confident, comfortable and happy with my writing (in English) than ever before.
  • The challenge has reminded me that ‘where there is a will, there is a way’. Where I believed I had absolutely no time for blogging, by signing up to the challenge and subsequently staying focused and determined to complete the challenge, I have proved myself wrong and learned that it is possible to achieve everything if you put your heart and mind into it.
  • Through the challenge I met a whole bunch of lovely bloggers and their awesome blogs:  CLAO WUE, UPWARD SPIRAL , OLDUVAI READS , STORYBOUND  to name a few.  It is through their posts that I have discovered new passion namely – Travel and Reading.
  • I stumbled upon Nuttie’s lovely blog during the challenge and I found her posts very delightful. It is through her posts that I am beginning to realize that I will not be bored or lost if I decide to take a sabbatical or career break when my family and I relocate to India.
  • Parenting articles and blogs are generally of keen interest to me and so My Era’s parenting blog posts were something that I looked forward to reading on each day of the challenge. ME’s posts have helped me to put my parenting style into perspective and they have also provided valuable information about parenting.

Overall, I am so glad I participated in the A to Z challenge and it has been an amazing journey. I feel I have grown as a person and a blogger during the challenge and I look forward to participating in the next year’s challenge.

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Zesty April

This post is part of A to Z Challenge for April 2016. For letter Z, I am choosing Zesty April

big-prize-color
Image Courtesy: Google

A to Z Challenge April 2016:  Z  for Zesty April

As we come to last day of the April A to Z challenge 2016, I am both happy and sad. I am happy because I survived the challenge and sad because the common goal that fellow bloggers and I were working towards has come to an end. However it has been an amazing journey and I have grown as a blogger as well as a person in these four weeks of the challenge.

When I signed up for the challenge, I did it in an impulse (just two days before the challenge kicked off ) and I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about and whether I was going to survive the challenge or not. The best thing that happened was that the challenge got me back to blogging. I had started this blog with an intention to document the highs and lows of my journey of parenting but had not kept up with it. The challenge gave me an opportunity to file away many of my precious moments which will be precious memories of tomorrow.

The first few posts were easy but after that I began to wonder if I had run out of all ideas and if I would be able to continue the journey at all. Thankfully the challenge empowered me to carry on as the only requirement for the challenge was to write daily. I began to write from my heart without worrying about my choice of words, structure, coherence or grammar to be perfect. As a result my fears around blogging have reduced big time.

I came across many interesting blogs that I plan to visit after the challenge. The challenge also introduced me to lovely cobloggers who through their blog posts and comments filled my day with happiness and zest.

There is a lot more that I took away from this challenge but I will reserve them for the challenge reflection post in May.

Overall, despite being a hectic challenge, I enjoyed participating in it and month of April has been zestier than ever before. Cheers.

Yack..Yack..Yack…

This post is part of A to Z Challenge for April 2016. For letter Y, I am choosing Yack..Yack..Yack…

Yacking.png
Image Courtesy: Google.    

A to Z Challenge April 2016:  Y  for Yack..Yack..Yack..

On our way to School this morning which is about 15 minutes’ drive:

Ooh…I cannot see the designs on my shoes today? I cannot see that little boy on the road. I cannot see these yellow flowers on my top. I think we should go to an Optician. I think I need glasses. Powerful glasses just like what Tom (friend) wears. He could not see things so his Mummy and Daddy took him to opticians and his optician gave him a powerful glass. I need one like that. Not sun glasses. I want powerful glasses like Tom’s.  Tom is very nice to me. I think I’ll marry him one day! Why do Mummies and Daddies marry? Amma were you and Anna friends when you were little? Was Anna wearing glasses when he was little? I need glasses, powerful glasses like Anna and Tom. Amma you are fat, too fat. Amma what will you be when you grow up? You can be a garden look afterer. Can I take this book (pointing at a book in the car about human body) to school today? It has everything about our body. It starts with skin. Skin is like coat. Ooh..this is called muscle. Muscle is like muscle. These are called bones. We have 67 bones in the body.12 in the head and 67 everywhere. Without bone body is like jelly. Blood is red in color. I know all about blood. Blood flows like water. Heart is inside the body. It beats all the time. I can draw a heart. Brain is also inside the body. Brain is needed to fix everything. We breathe all the time so that we get energy and we can blow candles on birthdays. We need to eat healthy food to get energy. Healthy food includes lots of vegetables and sausages. I eat chocolates sometime. Chocolate is also healthy but not all the time. Only when you eat them they are healthy. Bones can make a skeleton. I don’t like skeleton. The end. I will show this book to my friends. I know all about our body now. Do you know we have 16 bones? If we eat healthy food we will grow up. I eat healthy food now I am a grown up. Dogs don’t have bones. Because bone is their food. This book tells all about what is inside my body but this is not an X ray. X ray is not a book. It is an X ray. Look..there is Lucy and her Mummy. Lucy’s brother too. He can walk now. I will show Lucy my book. I will read it with her. Can we go to opticians in the evening? I can’t see my school. I need glasses. Powerful glasses.”.

And then we arrived at the school!

 

X-Factor

This post is part of A to Z Challenge for April 2016. For letter X, I am choosing X -Factor.

Be yourself.pngA to Z Challenge April 2016:  X for X- Factor

One of my friends has won a beauty pageant in the US recently. Not only the big title but she has also bagged few other titles under the categories – Ms Popular, Ms Congenial, and Ms Talented. Wow! That’s Amazing! Her facebook page is flooded with ‘likes’ and congratulatory messages. Upon news of her victory the first thing that came to my mind was that she truly deserves this because I always knew she ‘had something in her’.  I remember, back in our school days whenever I used to see her I used to think she was different, she had something indescribable in her. Now I realize that ‘something’ was her “X Factor”.

So what is this X-Factor? It is hard to describe but it is something that makes you unique, something that makes you stand out, and something that grabs people’s attention. It is something that you recognize when you see it and that which inspires you and fascinates you. It is a combination of self-confidence and how you carry yourself.  Good looks, intelligence, wit and talent are an added bonus.

Do only certain people have X-Factor? My answer is NO. I think every person has an X factor but most of us live our lives without finding it; without realizing it. If we breakdown this elusive indescribable quality called X factor into actionable characteristics and behaviors, we will see that everyone possesses those qualities. Think of any person you know of that has a charisma, X factor to be precise. Next think of some of their qualities that you admire. I bet most of us will think of their confidence, passion, energy, and great communication skills. If you observe carefully, you will realize that at the centre of all these qualities is self-confidence.  If you are not confident within yourself, then you cannot carry it with you and certainly it won’t be visible to others. Therefore, believe in yourself and translate that into your X factor.

 

Wish it? Do it!

This post is part of A to Z Challenge for April 2016. For letter W, I am choosing Wish it? do it!

Wish.png
Image  Courtesy: Google

A to Z Challenge April 2016:  W for Wish it? Do it!

Star light, Star bright
First Star I see tonight
I wish I may, I wish I might
Have the wish, I wish tonight
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, How I wonder what you are

 

This is how I start my lullaby for Bambi every night as I tuck her in. Often Bambi is too tired to say or ask anything by this time. But on few occasions she has closed her eyes tight and made a wish aloud such as ‘keep my Mommy happy always’, ‘I wish I get a la la loopsy baby’, ‘I wish I get lots of presents for my birthday etc. However since the time I have told her that you are not supposed to tell what you wish for, lest it not come true, she has been secretly making wishes.

Earlier this week one morning I found an eyelash on Bambi’s cheek. I carefully placed it on the back of my hand and asked her to blow it off while making a wish. I was told at a very early age by someone in school that it is a tradition that eyelashes found on the cheeks are lucky and that if we close our eyes and make a wish while blowing the lash off our hand, the wish comes true.

Bambi was amazed that an eyelash could make her wish come true. She asked me if I had ever had the opportunity to wish upon an eyelash or a star and if my wish ever came true. I told her I have been wishing upon eyelashes and stars since I was a little girl.

Do wishes really come true though? When I was about 8 years old, one evening while we were at the dinner table my brother found an eyelash on my cheek. When he told me about it I placed it on my hand and made a secret wish and blew it off. And then I casually asked my father if my wish would come true? Dad smiled and asked me if I had also asked my eyelash for the ability to make my wish come true! At the time I didn’t understand what Dad meant but today as a grown up and with my life experiences, I do clearly understand what Dad meant.

When we focus our mind on something we really wish for, we can make it happen and we will make it happen.  Dad used to say ‘visualize yourself doing that something which you really wish you could do’. My Dad himself was a good example for it. Dad didn’t go to an English medium school and as a little boy he always wished he could speak and write English. Seemingly Dad used to collect English newspapers and he would read the entire newspaper as if he knew and understood English. He wished – if one day he could read an entire English newspaper and also understand it.   That wish, Dad used to say, always gave him a reason to strive hard. Years later when Dad was 17 he won the prestigious Founders award for English Elocution at his college. Many years later his daughter (Yours Truly) won an inter school English Elocution competition for a speech that he had prepared for her.

Dad was right. Without the determination and passion to fulfill a wish, that wish isn’t going to come true. Now every time I blow off an eyelash, I remind myself exactly that.

So, do wishes ever come true? I would say of course they do but only when we make them come true. So if you have a wish, dream it, do it!

 

View from the corner

 This post is part of A to Z Challenge for April 2016. For letter V, I am choosing View from the corner .

coffee shop
Image courtesy: Google

A to Z Challenge April 2016:  V for View from the corner 

Currently I am sitting in a coffee shop near my work place with a hot chocolate and my laptop.  I get a good view from my corner seat at the shop and by views I am not referring to beautiful views of nature but just the view of the tables/sofas/booths in the shop. Basically while I am waiting for my colleague to turn up I am doing some people watching and also writing my post for the A to Z challenge. My colleague will turn up only after an hour though. This is because I have come to the shop an hour before our scheduled meeting time so as to take a break from work and also to reserve this corner place.  The shop is very busy and is full of opportunities for people watching, gaining inspiration or possibly overcoming a writer’s block!

  •  On the sofa in the corner opposite me is a bloke with a laptop. Between correcting his glasses and sipping away his coffee he is typing aggressively. I assume he is a writer because he seems to be thinking a lot. Yet he is fairly relaxed and it appears as if he has got the whole day for himself and as if he has no other commitments. Every now and then though he is looking around and then getting back to his typing. Perhaps he is also writing a blog post??
  •  On the sofa opposite me is a lady who just entered the shop few minutes ago. As she keeps hangs her jacket and settles on the sofa, she rings someone and I can hear her tell, “I hit luck y and got the comfy seats by the window. See you soon”. That makes me smile as I realize I am not the only one who likes to reach coffee shops early to reserve a nice place.
  • Then there are two young mums with their little babies in the pram. Probably they have just returned from a playgroup or stroll in the park. One of the babies is sleeping but the other one is awake. He is trying to get hold of the pram toy with his little feet. I can’t believe how good as gold are the two babies. The mums are chatting away happily.
  • Few tables away from me are two gentlemen with suits and ties. Besides their coffees and Panini they have a laptop with a PowerPoint presentation loaded, iPhones and few business papers on the table. They are probably discussing some strategy or a big contract. Honestly speaking, I think they should do this in their office instead of the coffee shop. It looks as if they have got the whole office to the coffee shop.
  • At the table next to mine is a young girl (perhaps a student) with her apple device. She has got ear phones on and in between what seems like an assignment or project report that she is typing, she takes pictures of her coffee, the scrumptious brownie and a selfie. Perhaps she will share it on social media next.
  • Two very adorable elderly couple have arrived few minutes ago and they have occupied the table diagonally opposite me. When they arrived, the old man pulled out the chair for the old lady to sit. He then took her walking stick and along with his walking stick placed them leaning on to the wall next to their table. Then he sat down too. As they wait for their order they are simply observing the surroundings. I look at them and they look at me and they give me the most charming smile. It has just brightened my day!
  • I also take a look at all the baristas in the shop. They all seem like a very happy bunch. Between taking and shouting orders over all the noise in the shop, preparing the drink, heating the toasties/paninis, serving and clearing the cups, they are also having little chats and laughs with each other. One Barista catches my attention more than the rest of them. She probably just served the grumpiest customer of the day (a very arrogant business guy who couldn’t decide what he wanted in the first place and then didn’t have the patience to wait as his drink was being made and finally just snagged his drink and left the place without a smile).But the barista is still smiling and greeting the next customer with a genuine friendly smile and ‘can I help?’
  • On the far end of the shop in one of the corner tables are two middle aged ladies chatting. I cannot hear what they are speaking but I can gather that one of them is sharing her worries with the other who is listening very patiently and I presume she is also giving some advice. From her body language it appears as if she is saying, “don’t worry, everything is going to be fine’. Whatever that she is saying appears quite reassuring to me and that leaves me thinking there is hope in this world.

And just like that I spend about an hour tucked away into the corner of this small coffee shop watching people, their interactions, body language and activities and of course filing away my observations; my view from the corner ….

 

 

 

Upside Down

This post is part of A to Z Challenge for April 2016. For letter U, I am choosing Upside Down.

hangingmonkey

Image Courtesy : Google

A to Z Challenge April 2016:  U for Upside Down

One evening when Bambi was about two years old,I saw her reading a book by herself. It was a board book about Micky the monkey who wished he was different. Bambi was reading aloud the story and pointing to the pictures and enjoying it. As I went closer I realised that Bambi had held the book upside down. I was surprised that she hadn’t figured that out already especially as this was a book that we had read several times before. As I didn’t want to interrupt, I let her carry on with the upside down book. Towards the end of the book there is a page where Micky is hanging from a tree with his tail (as in picture above). As Bambi opened that page and saw the picture, she paused for a second as she realised that she had been reading the book upside down. It was interesting to see what she did next. Instead of simply turning the book to correct its position, Bambi took herself to other side of the book ! :-). She then continued to read, ‘after all it’s not bad being different ‘(that’s how the story goes at the point coincidentally!). I just stood there wondering : Would it not have been simpler to just turn the book? I didn’t know what to say but when Preeth heard this he said its called ‘thinking out of the box’; and it’s indeed not bad being different!

Fast forward a couple of years…last year Bambi wrote (narrated actually) a story; A story about an upside down forest.


THE UPSIDE DOWN FOREST

upside down
Image Courtesy: Google

Idea Courtesy: Internet (The crocodile was enjoying warm sunshine. The Bird said …?)

Narrated by:  The Little Author ( Bambi).

Written by:   Mum (Yours Truly) just as narrated.

One day the Crocodile was lying upside down and enjoying the sunshine. The Little bird said, “It’s a lovely day with good sunshine. I want to join you.”

The crocodile said, “of, course you can Bird! “.

The Crocodile didn’t eat the bird. The bird tumbled over and then turned upside down.

They played games together and they were best friends forever.

Crocodile’s Mommy came.  She said, ” Time to play with the rabbit now.  Don’t forget to take your friend bird with you!”.

Rabbit also went upside down. They all went upside down actually.

A frog came there. “Ribbit, ribbit, Can I join your game? It looks such fun.  Is there room on the grass for a frog like me?”

“Yes, you can”. Said the crocodile.

Then all the Mommies and Daddies came. “Can we join too?” They asked.

“Of course, you can!” Said the Crocodile and his friends.

“Thank you!”  Said all Mommies and Daddies.

They all went upside down. Soon whole forest was upside down.

The end.


From nearly turning herself upside down to correct a book that she had been reading upside down, to writing a story about an upside down forest, I think Bambi has done well. Don’t you agree?