Posted in Uncategorized

Hack Into the Deadline – A2Z Reflections on Niches and Motivations

I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.

― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

On the one hand, I like deadlines. Its existence spurs me to action.
On the other, I don’t like them. It forces me to make sacrifices and prioritize decisions.

What did I end up sacrificing this past month? 
Time with my blog 
Heart was willing. To-Do's ever so increasing. Energy was waning. 
Out of all things, why does it have to be something that brings me joy?
Life doesn't make sense at times.

This year’s A-to-Z blogging challenge was a bust! I truly wanted to explore these topics more in depth! In the past, I was very spontaneous with my prompts and wrote whatever I was in the mood for which was surprisingly quite successful.

A2Z Survivor? Hardly (at least not for April)! Below features all the topics I wanted to write about this past month. I’ll certainly save them for later! I’ll probably change this blogging challenge month-long sprint into a year-long marathon.

a - Axolotl 
b - Burj al Arab
c - Ciselure
d - Dogme 95 
e - Entremets
f - Fallingwater
g - Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
h - Hanno the White Elephant
i - Isicathamiya
j - Juggernaut
k - Krampusnacht
l - La Tomatina
m - Michael Jackson's Manifesto
n - Neottious 
o - Orlov Diamond
p - Paisley Underground
q - Qasida
r - Rose Trellis Egg
s - Songkran / Shibuya-kei / Sagrada Familia
t - Trumpets of the Martians
u - Umbilicanimism (American Beauty)
v - Viking Metal / Venetian Mask
w - Wonky Pop
x - Xuan Calligraphy Paper
y - Yag (Carmen San Diego Fanfiction)
z - Zen Manifesto

On top of that, I started a separate blog about project management for school thinking I could juggle another challenge…simultaneously! That was a certainly a no-go. I did manage to write about how AI is helping Save the Ghost of the Mountain. A pat on the back for something launched!

These overall reflections of my recent A2Z experience leads me to think about a question that Dr. Tanya asked sometime back in February.

Do you have a niche?

– Dr. Tanya, Blogging Insights #18

Do you have a niche for your blog? If so tell us more about it.
I think it would be visual storytelling – I called my blog Culture Shocks to focus on sharing my reactions to new cultural experiences. I wanted to undergo great periods of growth, and jarring experiences would help me stretch outside my own boundaries and meet new people.

At the very least, it would attract those who relish in new adventures and seek novel experiences because variety is the spice in life. I figured I would have plenty of fresh content so long as I didn’t pigeon-hole myself as to how I conveyed these experiences to my audience.

Have you ever thought of niche-ing down and why?
Yes, plenty of times! I think it gives me great purpose to be intentional about the audience I would be writing for who is serious about reading your content. It would motivate me to write even when I may not always feel like it because I wouldn’t want to let them down. I actually found old blogs I wrote years ago before Culture Shocks:
2009 – Trash to Treasure Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects
2012 – Exploration into World Literature
2012 – Confessions of a Parapsychologist Assistant

At the time, I thought it was just easier having separate audiences for vastly different topics. I felt like if I could focus on a particular niche, then I might be more prolific. It’s difficult to write regularly for separate blogs and maintain different brand personas. Even while doing this challenge, I thought to myself, “Gee, wouldn’t it be easier to explore deeply about one topic rather than write from five categories?”

If you chose just one as your niche, how much would you miss writing about the others?
Too much! There’s times where I feel like a skimmer rather than a diver. Though I do wonder: If I chose a niche, perhaps I can tie those topics with something unrelated and find some point of commonality which can provide a new angle on an established topic.

After Dr. Tanya’s question, Fandango shared a provocative question that also made me reflect:

As a blogger, what makes you tick?

– Fandango, FPQ #67

What DID make me write today in the midst of my busy life? My last post was 2 weeks ago. I just finished working on a rigorous 3-month long project for work this morning. Safeguarding my sanity meant encasing myself in a bubble. My supervisor and CEO said to me, “It’s time to take a well-deserved break!”

I take such a deep breath, I didn’t realize how much oxygen I missed. I realize I blog when I want to chat about something, but I don’t really share in public. I can share random trivia tidbits without worrying about wasting other people’s time.

I look over to my left and my eyes fixate on my cute, whimsical owls, and my thoughts drifted into how I missed my whimsical blog. I once read a journal article titled:

The Power of Kawaii: Viewing Cute Images Promotes a Careful Behavior and Narrows Attentional Focus

Hiroshi Nittono, Michiko Fukushima, Akihiro Yano, Hiroki Moriya

I’m exhausted. I almost don’t want to stare at a screen. Yet, I miss the people in this community and want to stay close the proverbial campfire. While eating some ambrosia salad, I wrote this poem below with intertwined quotes:

Take a Deep Breath. 

Do you know the feeling that DEADLINES induce?
Future date unmistakably marked
Yet, why does it feel imaginary?
Why doesn't iit feel as real as The Present?

Deadlines just aren’t real to me until I’m staring one in the face.

― Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief
Deadline looms around the corner
Like a shadow in a dark alley
Skin tingles. Hair prickles.
Its impending presence

…grind us to the lowest depth of subjugation…

– William Williston Heartsill, Diary of William Williston Heartsill (entry Mar. 1863)
Everlasting companions: Anxiety, Stress, Exhaustion
Gradually creep into one's well being
Despite Deep Breaths' attempts to squash its vitality,
Lassoing the infamous Trio proves quite difficult

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12
Calling in for reinforcements
Spiro-meters are important
To measure the shortness of breath, but to tackle it?
A Blessing Counter. A Kindness Barometer. A Playfulness Gauge.
Maybe, a flexible Salvidor Dali's clock
Or... a Clock that breaks quite often
So that you can take a break along with it.

Focusing on the act of breathing clears the mind of all daily distractions and clears our energy enabling us to better connect with the Spirit within.

– Author Unknown
Not ready to receive my comeuppance
Deadline taps me on the shoulder
Delivers the final pummeling blow
Just as quickly as It arrived
It was gone in a flash and left without a trace.

Breathe deeply, until sweet air extinguishes the burn of fear in your lungs and every breath is a beautiful refusal to become anything less than infinite.

– D. Antoinette Foy
Posted in Books, Events, flashback, poetry, Technology

#SoCS- The Toy that Rocked my World

A Delightful Blue Discovery…

My life before simple
A linear path filled with a fairly predictable routine
Then, one hot summer day…
The library presented an irresistible challenge
Itching with anticipation!
Waited for what seemed like eternity!
The mission was to read 20 books!
The reward?
A yo-yo!
The latest spinning craze
Allowing gravity to unwind the string
Lighting up the world of so many participating children
Embarking the reading journey while
“walking the dog around the world” 😉

Years later
Just when I think the yo-yo has disappeared
into the locked vault of yesteryear’s fads
My serious concentration
questioning employers at a cyber job fair
was broken!

Genuinely smiling
Filled with overwhelming nostalgia
A blue yo-yo!
Gleaming against the black tablecloth
Idaho National Laboratory
“You made my day!”
Your motto?
The energy of innovation!
Indeed!
🙂

The first blue thing I see this morning ❤
Posted in Music

30-Day Song Challenge: Day 23

Today’s challenge is a song I think everyone should hear at least once. What a challenge since everyone has such different tastes! So keep that in mind as I share my humble collection. Enjoy! 🙂

A beautiful moment in animation! The soothing voice of a sweet child in Saoirse Song…

Saoirse Song

A soft lullaby to help you sleep and take you to magical places by the sea…

Song of the Sea

The soft tunes of the Orient…

Healing Chinese Zen Music

Mandisa’s inspirational & motivational music- Whatever difficulty you’re going through right now, you can get through it!

Mandisa – Overcomer

Amadeus Electric Quartet is a blessing in the instrumental world. Hope you enjoy the majestic scenery they take you through as you listen to their wonderful melodies!

Earth Song – Amadeus Electric Quartet
Posted in Culture

“7 Life Lessons from a Guy Who Can’t Move Anything but His Face”

Jon Morrow 

This morning  I read Jon Morrow’s inspiring story on his blog Unstoppable. Check out his blog when you get the chance. I think everyone can learn from the wisdom he gained from his life experiences. Here is an excerpt from each of his lessons.

Lesson #1: If You Can’t Win the Game, Change the Rules
“About a decade ago, I was totally dependent on Medicaid, the U.S. government-run health insurance, to pay about $120,000 per year in medical bills. On the one hand, I was immensely grateful, because without it, I would’ve certainly died, but I was also trapped by their benevolence….”

Lesson #2: Pain is Power
“At some point or another, life punches everyone in the face. The punch may be hard, or it may be soft, but it’s definitely coming, and your success or failure is largely determined by the answer to a single question: how well can you take the punch?…”

Lesson #3: The Secret to Survival
“In 2006, a teenager who we’ll call Bill was late to work at Wendy’s. Worried that his boss was going to fire him, he decided to floor it, driving through the city at 85 miles per hour, weaving in and out of traffic, running red lights, and squealing around corners. At first, everything went fine, but then something happened…He plowed into my minivan going through an intersection…”

Lesson #4: The Art of the Counterpunch
Remember how we talked about the importance of being able to take a punch?  Well, it’s only the first step. Once you’ve built some endurance, it’s time to learn how to fight back…”

Lesson #5: How to Find the Courage to Face Anything
“…that’s how courage works. The people we think of as heroes don’t have a mystical ability to transcend fear. To them, the alternative to taking action is simply unacceptable. They do what needs to be done, not because they want to, but because they feel there is no other choice…”

Lesson #6: Embrace the Crazy
“…If you’re in a crazy situation, sometimes the only way out is to make a bold move that appears insane, but it’s not, because the alternative is worse….”

Lesson #7: Never, never, never give up

“Sooner or later, we all reach a point in life where our trials become unbearable. Determination turns to despair, self-confidence becomes self-pity, and our hope for a better tomorrow dwindles and dies, replaced by a grim certainty that our life is over.

But it’s not. We simply need someone to remind us that triumph over adversity isn’t about being the strongest or the smartest, the “perfect” human being who can overcome anything life throws at them. On the contrary, the greatest victories are won by the weakest people, living in the darkest times, facing monsters that make even the stoutest heroes cower and run….

A few days ago, an acquaintance shared with me this quote by Swindoll on attitude, and felt it was relevant to Jon Morrow’s story.

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.


Charles Swindoll