The Clock Strikes February, Time To Think About the A to Z April Blogging Challenge #atozchallenge

Time really does fly. It feels like the last A to Z April Blogging Challenge just finished and here we are again.

February is the perfect month to start thinking about and planning for the A to Z April Blogging Challenge.

A to Z Participant Badge

Whether you’re new to blogging or have been blogging for some time, the A to Z April Blogging Challenge is a great way to build content and a following. It’s also a great way to field test new ideas for posts or consolidate and build on the direction you already have.

This is my favourite Challenge. There are three factors which work hugely in its favour.

Sense of Community

Achievable

Rest Days

Participating in the A to Z blogging Challenge makes you part of the A to Z community. Last year approximately 2,500 blogs from all over the Sphere joined in the event. It is an amazing site to see posts pop up from all over the world all starting with the same letter. Quite apart from building your own content and enhancing your blogging skills the Challenge is a nice way to find new blogs to read and to make new connections.  Moreover, the A to Z Challenge family has engaged a vast team of experienced Challenge veterans to help make participants welcome, to provide tips and encouragement.  This year the Challenge has 11 co-hosts who lead an able team of ambassadors to guide participants through the event. All of the Ambassadors have been through the Challenge before, know the benefits and pitfalls and are more than willing to give you the benefit of their learning.

I am proud to have been chosen as an Ambassador for this year’s Challenge. My team is lead by the founder of the Challenge, Arlee (Lee) Bird whose main blog is Tossing It Out. I got to know Lee through my first Challenge participation in 2012 and  was grateful to have been chosen as one of his ambassadors for the first time in 2013. Lee has assembled an able crew comprising:

Tim Brannan – The Other Side Blog, The Freedom of Nonbelief, Red Sonja, She Devil With A Sword, Amazon Princess

Yvonne Lewis – Writing For Pleasure (seriously suggest you visit Yvonne’s blog just to be able to groove the alphabet while you’re reading)

Jami Barone – Divine Inspiration (a fellow WordPress blogger)

Doreen McGettigan – Doreen McGettigan

Corrine Rodrigues – Everyday Gyaan

Rob Z Tobor - the Slightly Eccentric Diary of Rob Z Tobor

Yours truly.

Each of the other Challenge co-hosts have also assembled teams of able ambassadors ready to reach out and bring you into the Challenge fold.

Not yet convinced? Not only fun, the Challenge is achievable by bloggers of all standards and experience. I have been Arlee-Ambassadors-medinvolved in some Challenges which are run by beautifully professional business orientated blog sites. They are pitched at those wanting to run their blogs like a business and often I have felt like I am participating in one long advertisement. If you are blogging because you love writing or because you love being creative but don’t necessarily want to push products through your blog then this Challenge is for you. It is run by a bunch of down to earth bloggers, who want to have fun and get creative and understand the art of promotion but are not solely driven by it. So refreshing.

And finally the rest days. Some challenges mean you blog every day for a month. I have found that it is very beneficial to have a few blog rest days during an intense period of blogging. There are four rest days during the Challenge, generally falling on a Sunday which allow you to catch up on any missed posts, rethink your Challenge direction or plan for the next week’s Challenge posts. If you already have all your posts planned you can use the time to spread some comment love or catch up on your blog reading. It’s nice to have a pressure release available because nobody is perfect and sometimes life happens.

I’m already planning my Challenge theme and scouting the Sphere for new Challenge blogs to follow. So, if you are looking for a Challenge that is:

artistic, brazen, brisk, brash and boisterous, captivating and creative, dynamic, exhilarating and engaging, fun and frantic, genial and gratifying, huge, intense and interesting, juicy and justifiable, known and kinetic, lucrative, memorable, neighbourly and noticeable, opportune, productive, prominent, quaint and quirky, rewarding and researchable, social, tenacious, ultimate and understanding vibrant, versatile and variable, wild and worthwhile, (e)xtreme, yearly, zealous, zesty and zippy

come join me and sign up here.

You don’t have to be an A type personality to enjoy or complete this Challenge, any letter will do.

The Ballad of Tommy and Faye – a Valentines Day Prompt

Not so long ago I was driving along one of our main roads and came across this:

IMG_0511

It captured my imagination, so much so that I had to stop the car and catch it on camera.

I am now intrigued by these two whom I have never met. What is their story? What drove Tommy to proclaim his love and high regard for Faye and her achievements? Where are they now? Are they happy? In the city there are a thousand lives. In the city there are a thousand poles. In the city there are a thousand stories.

Are Tommy and Faye lovers? Siblings? Is this is the first time Tommy has proclaimed his love for Faye? Does Faye travel the same way everyday so Tommy is guaranteed a viewing? Is this Tommy’s prelude to or part of a proposal? Are Tommy and Faye young and impetuous? And why the need for Tommy to go public?

This is my ballad of Tommy and Faye.

Tommy was a truck driver. He drove a semi and usually did the gruelling Sydney to Melbourne run. He was a man’s man, loved his beer, loved his mates and had simple needs. Being constantly on the road in his home on wheels fed Tommy’s need for freedom, he was always on the move. There was never really time to stop, the big supermarket chains were relentless in their delivery needs, you missed a pick up or drop off by more than half an hour, you’d lose 5% off the job, cutting your margin to almost nothing. Not only that, your reputation as the best and most reliable of the best would slip and the work flow would slow to a trickle. The pressure and the traffic were ever present, but Tommy just kept on truckin’. It was the only life he knew.

Tommy was not one to examine his feelings in depth. Depth was a dark scary place that held surprises. Tommy hated surprises. However, discontent seemed to be gnawing constantly at his gut lately. Instinctively he knew he couldn’t continue with this life on the road forever. He had to settle down and start thinking about starting a family. His Gran always razzed Tommy that he would end up buried in the back of his truck with only his beer for company.

The one bright spot on Tommy’s horizon was Faye. Gorgeous Faye with the big eyes and even bigger dreams. Faye who was hell bent on making something out of her life and forgetting the abuse she had suffered at the hands of her overbearing father. Faye, the blond vixen who fit neatly under Tommy’s big arms, who made him forget the pressures of the road, who filled him with hope and yearning. Faye, who didn’t drink beer, but made him laugh like no on else. Faye, the one who made him feel.

Tommy’s mind went back to two weeks ago, to the fight he had with Faye. He’d been on the road ever since, a slave to the big chain supermarkets, and he missed her. Faye had advised Tommy that she couldn’t wait for him for ever and now that she had finished her early childhood studies certificate, she was working her way to opening up her own day care centre. Tommy was never book smart and felt totally out of his depth when speaking to Faye about her course and that unease came through the night of their fight. Tommy remembered Faye’s plea for security and stability, for a partner who would be there for her to share the journey. At that moment, Tommy questioned whether he was the right man for Faye, whether she could ever share in his world and stop dragging him into hers. The only problem was that he asked those questions aloud and in Faye’s presence. Faye’s big eyes and harsh words pierced right through Tommy’s gut, never mind his heart, which had taken refuge behind a wall of machismo.

In the two weeks he had been on the road with only his beer and his machismo for company, the kilometres stretching behind and before him in a never ending rotation of numbers, the highway scenery blending with his thoughts and his discontent he had found his clarity. His truth. Faye was his world and for her he was prepared to be vulnerable.

He just needed a way to grab her attention….

Has a homemade road sign ever grabbed your notice? Do you ever wonder about the backstory to those signs?

Please feel free to use this photo as a writing prompt. If you do, I’d love it if you posted a link to your post in the comments below so we can read it.

PS. I don’t usually write fiction, so this is new territory for me.

The World According to Low Cost Airlines #zerotohero

Assignment 5: try out at least three other themes — even if you’re happy with the one you have. Include at least one you would never think of using.

Assignment 6: publish a post that includes a new-to-you element.

One of the shows I used to watch with monotonous regularity in the early noughties was Airline. The show gave a fascinating glimpse into the operations of a UK based low cost airline, EasyJet operating out of Luton airport. Whilst air travel is meant to be glamorous, this show gave a no holes barred look at the travel industry, human nature and low margins.

Here’s a classic episode:

Fascinated by the myriad of personalities which featured in the show and the myriad of problems they encountered, I was hooked. Human beings are such fascinating creatures and holidays seem to bring out the best and worst of us. The show centred around conflicts and conflict resolution and how Easy Jet dealt with their delightful difficult customers in dealing with the complexity and unpredictability of air travel.

From the show I learned that:

  • low cost airlines have only a small window of opportunity for their aircraft to depart
  • they will not hold boarding open even for five extra minutes
  • there is nothing you can say to a low cost carrier to let you on the aircraft if you arrive late
  • losing your nut is particularly ineffective when trying to resolve conflict and only attracts tv cameras
  • I never want to go Luton airport
  • there is no story you can tell a low cost airline that it has not heard before.

Roll the film forward to 2006 and in a particularly non lucid moment, I booked an internal Europe flight with Easy Jet. 2006 was a time when the self help travel industry was in a fledging state and travel forums like Trip Adviser were largely centred on accommodation. There were little or few internet forums discussing travel and I had yet taken to social media. None of that stopped me though from booking the family holiday to Europe from beginning to end myself. The hardest part was booking the Europe domestic flights because I knew nothing about that market. So recalling Airline I went with Easy Jet on a flight from London to Athens.

The only thing was it left just after 6.00am…. from Gatwick airport…miles out of London. At 4.30am the trains to Gatwick don’t run. How lucky that the limo driving friend of the hotel receptionist did. How unlucky that we got onto the freeway and it was blocked by police due to a traffic incident. How unlucky that driver dude had to stop for gas. How even unluckier that driver dud took twenty minutes to fill the tank and whatever else he did when he disappeared into the gas station shop.

You know where this is headed, don’t you?

That’s right, our own Easy Jet moment. Arrived five minutes too late for boarding. Frustration welled up and our only day in Athens flashed before my eyes. This was the day we were to conquer the Acropolis. Instead, I was waiting for the Airline cameras to arrive to film my pleas for clemency. Yes, they would still take us, but next flight out was 13 hours away. In the end we took a flight with another airline, had a wonderful evening twilight and ate the most amazing Feta whilst gazing up at the backlit Acropolis. However to this day, my bottom has not graced an Easy Jet seat.

Then I vowed never to use another low cost airline.

Well, until last weekend. I am currently DIYing the bookings for our European vacation later this year and this time I have no lack of information for an excuse. However, the flight I wanted, the one on the right day at the right time is operated by a low cost airline. This time, the friendly Norwegian Air Shuttle. I’m not going to bore you with the whole sorry saga of why I had to change the booking ten minutes after I made it, but a call to Norway was on the cards. After dialling the number, I received a wonderful friendly greeting in Norwegian which then lyrically read through the phone menu in Norwegian for about five minutes. The very last sentence of which was “If you would like to hear the options in English please press 0″. The English version took 1 minute after which I found myself on hold having been told their website was experiencing problems which meant an unusually high call volume. Lucky me, I chose the one day when Scandinavian efficiency was on holiday. After about 10 minutes a most pleasant young Norwegian man broke through the musac peaking brilliantly in English. He listened to my plight with enthusiasm and empathy after which he thought he had to decline my request but would speak to his supervisor.

They must have been having coffee because it took a while. And he apologised profusely for keeping me on hold before officially declining to make the change request. He then apologised profusely for keeping me waiting once again and again once more before finally ending the call. Clearly, this guy did not talk to Australians every day.

He was so freaking’ polite and nice. And he had such a cool accent. So I bottled up my frustration and wrote a few non frustrated emails to sort out the issue. Here are a few examples of Norwegian’s friendliness from their twitter feed. They are so thoughtful that even their planes have thought bubbles.

I am pleased to report that since my conversation with Norway, Norwegian Airlines have since come to my European party in all of its orange and white livery.

So takk så mye, Norwegian Airlines . You have given me my right of passage and also the vehicle for learning how to embed a tweet into my blog posts. And for this, you deserve a

thumbs-up-smiley-hi

Now, if we can only make the flight…

PS. As for the theme assignment, I did this on my own over the Christmas break. White on black or black on white? That is the question. I almost went with a black background this time, but reverted to the white side at the last minute.

A straw poll: What do you prefer dark skin, light writing or light skin with dark writing?

Zero to Hero Assignment 1: The Existential Guide to What I Am Doing Here

Today’s assignment: write and publish a “who I am and why I’m here” post.

Warning: This post is unsually long and deep.

The WordPress Commissioners clearly don’t muck around.  They’ve gone straight for the juggler on day 1 with a rather a deep exercise in blogging existentialism. And with many thanks to Wikipedia, I will use the main concepts of existentialism to try to answer this most pertinent question.

Existence Precedes Essence

According to Wikipedia:

A central proposition of Existentialism is that existence precedes essence, which means that the most important consideration for individuals is the fact that they are an individual—an independently acting and responsible, conscious being (“existence”)—rather than what labels, roles, stereotypes, definitions, or other preconceived categories the individual fits (“essence”). The actual life of the individual is what constitutes what could be called their “true essence” instead of there being an arbitrarily attributed essence others use to define them.

midelife recreationOne of the main reasons for starting my blog was to better understand the changes that were coming at me as I was approaching middle age. Hence the name of this blog, Raising The Curtain. I felt that writing about the uncertainties I was experiencing would assist to focus my strategy in dealing with and understanding the changes. I also felt that writing about things which generally were only talked about behind the curtain and to the select few, may help others going through the same thing. This was and is  my vehicle to deal with middle ageing with irreverence and authenticity.

The Absurd 

Once again from Wikipedia:

The notion of the Absurd contains the idea that there is no meaning in the world beyond what meaning we give it….Because of the world’s absurdity, at any point in time, anything can happen to anyone, and a tragic event could plummet someone into direct confrontation with the Absurd.

This blog is definitely about the absurd. In it, I try to highlight the absurdity of life and laugh in its face. There is no better way to deal with absurdity than through humour, because no matter what else you do life will keep throwing it at you. This blog looks at the absurd in a way that conveys the notion that we are all at the mercy of life’s absurdities and none of us is really any more silly (or better) than any one else.

Facticity

More Wikipedia mastery:

Facticity is both a limitation and a condition of freedom. It is a limitation in that a large part of one’s facticity consists of things one couldn’t have chosen (birthplace, etc.), but a condition in the sense that one’s values most likely depend on it. However, even though one’s facticity is “set in stone” (as being past, for instance), it cannot determine a person: The value ascribed to one’s facticity is still ascribed to it freely by that person. As an example, consider two men, one of whom has no memory of his past and the other remembers everything. They have both committed many crimes, but the first man, knowing nothing about this, leads a rather normal life while the second man, feeling trapped by his own past, continues a life of crime, blaming his own past for “trapping” him in this life. There is nothing essential about his committing crimes, but he ascribes this meaning to his past.

However, to disregard one’s facticity when, in the continual process of self-making, one projects oneself into the future, would be to put oneself in denial of oneself, and would thus be inauthentic. In other words, the origin of one’s projection must still be one’s facticity, though in the mode of not being it (essentially). Another aspect of facticity is that it entails angst, both in the sense that freedom “produces” angst when limited by facticity, and in the sense that the lack of the possibility of having facticity to “step in” for one to take responsibility for something one has done also produces angst.

This concept is highly relevant to this blog. In reaching middle age I instinctively understand that I have to let go of old notions that no longer serve me. Whilst most of my perceptions and learned behaviours from the past have served me well to this point, they are not going to do so going forward and in fact may be a hindrance to my further growth. I therefore have to ascribe a far lesser importance to them, but recognise that ultimately I am who I am. This blog is a journal of sorts of my personal journey and I have much still to learn. However I do know, that if we needlessly hold onto outer beauty, we may miss seeing our inner beauty which is far more sustainable in the long term.

Authenticity

More wonderful words from Wikipedia:

Many noted existentialist writers consider the theme of authentic existence important. Authentic existence involves the idea that one has to “create oneself” and then live in accordance with this self. What is meant by authenticity is that in acting, one should act as oneself, not as “one” acts or as “one’s genes” or any other essence requires. The authentic act is one that is in accordance with one’s freedom.

Living authentically is extremely important to me and authenticity is the  main quality I look for in others. Middle age has a tendency man is nothing elseto hone one’s bullshit radar and frankly, I have had enough of dealing with it to last three lifetimes. With this blog, I strive to write authentically and to put a piece of myself in each blog post. These stories of me and my life are real. My writing is real. My comments are real and the connection that comes from me to fellow bloggers is real. This blog is designed for those whose feet are firmly placed on the ground, no matter how high they may soar or how low they may go. It’s my good, my bad and my ugly. Leave your masks at the door.

The Other and the Look

From you know where:

To clarify, when one experiences someone else, and this Other person experiences the world (the same world that a person experiences), only from “over there”, the world itself is constituted as objective in that it is something that is “there” as identical for both of the subjects; a person experiences the other person as experiencing the same things. This experience of the Other’s look is what is termed the Look (sometimes the Gaze).

This blog is also about being introduced to others’ perspectives, about the ebb and flow of conversation, about learning new things and exchanging ideas. The comments that I have received over the time I have been blogging contain a treasure trove of information, insights and viewpoints. We all exist in the objective WordPress world but each blog has its own community. This blog is about building community and contributing to community.

Angst and Despair

Wikipedia says:

Angst is often described as a drama an adolescent troubles with during their developmental years. This adolescent trouble or self-loathing is often tied to sexual attractiveness, both males and females often feel this angst and worry that they will not find both a partner or romantic conditional love for who they are. As adolescents face the prospect of adulthood where they must take control of their life the dread of both facing life alone and the fear of freedom and responsibility often lead to depression.

and:

Despair, in existentialism, is generally defined as a loss of hope.[ More specifically, it is a loss of hope in reaction to a breakdown in one or more of the defining qualities of one’s self or identity. If a person is invested in being a particular thing, such as a bus driver or an upstanding citizen, and then finds his being-thing compromised, he would normally be found in state of despair — a hopeless state. For example, a singer who loses the ability to sing may despair if she has nothing else to fall back on—nothing to rely on for her identity. She finds herself unable to be what defined her being.

Generally, I am not an angsty or despairing person. However, I realised approaching middle age that if I didn’t externalize some of what I was feeling, I would be dealing with it longer than I needed to. Hence this blog. Moreover, in surfing the Net for material on middle age, I was struck by the negativity and the sense of loss that surrounded the process. I have not been feeling either and in fact was rather positive about the changes being wrought (even through I was struggling to understand them fully) and I wanted to contribute positive dialogue to the conversation. I have since discovered that there are more than a few bloggers here who are tackling middle age and ageing in general in their positively individualistic styles and they have proved an inspiration. I only hope that I can inspire others.

I also blog because I am the mother of two teenage sons. That should be enough said, but once again I turn to this blog and humour to deal with the trials, tribulations and the joys of parenting teens. I need to be resilient to deal with their angst and despair and this blog is one of my vehicles.

I hope I have adequately answered this first assignment and given you some insights into why I do what I do here.

As a last word, my blog is intended to be mostly humorous. Less often it is serious and reflective. Humour though is the glue that bonds the reflections in this blog together and it is the tie that generally binds me to my readers and fellow bloggers and they to me. Humour can be mistaken for those that don’t seek it as a sign of lack of intelligence or immaturity. Approaching this blog in that vein underestimates it and the writer and ignores the messages. To do so would be the biggest tragedy of all.

Two posts in one day. I know, right!

The Zero to Hero Better Blog Assignment: It’s a Very Good Place to Start

Welcome dear readers to 2014 and my new look blog. Over the holiday hiatus I rearranged the blog furniture, dusted off the curtain and spruced up the place a little. This spurt of activity came hot on the heels of me cleaning up my bookcase at home, emancipating a huge bag of books to good masters and getting reacquainted with two and half bookshelves of empty space as a result.

It feels good and just in time for a cool refreshing Summer drink.

Now to take the new look blog out for a test run.

And what better way to do than to participate in the WordPress Zero to Hero blogging program? This involves 30 blog tips and exercises from our WordPress hosts over January. Happily, this won’t necessarily mean a blog a day, but it will mean a few new blog posts, some bloggy tweaking and learning new skills.

zero-to-hero

Which is a very good thing even though I have been blogging for about 18 months. It has been 18 months of a relatively steep but fun learning curve that has been anything but systematic. This will be good way to polish skills that have been acquired on a need to know basis and by the trial and error of doing rather than studying. I was led to the WordPress platform a few days before the A to Z April Blogging Challenge of 2012 started and being faced with a real life blog which I had to master quickly, I have concentrated only on the basics.

It’s time to take my blog learning to another level through the Zero to Hero assignments. Like Do Re Mi, it’s a very good place to start.

I’m not sure what assignments WordPress has in store but no doubt it will be an adventure.

So I’ve got my bloggy cape, magic lasso and super hero boots at the ready. Not to mention my hero speech bubbles,

Widget Wham!

Publish Pow!

Holy Posts Batman!

for this January journey.

Excuse me, must dash the Blog bat phone is ringing and it’s the WordPress commissioners with my first assignment.

November is Here So Let’s #NaBloPoMo

Nano NanoWoke up this morning to social media buzzing with the sounds of NaNo NaNo. This is not be confused with the traditional Orkian greeting of Nanoo Nannoo, although as the month progresses, we will see writers increasingly engage each other in monosyllabic tones.

If you have never heard of NaNoWriMo, it is the chant of writers everywhere as they gear up to participate in National Novel Writing Month. The aim of NaNoWriMo is to write a novel of 50,000 words from start to finish in November. If you are interested you can sign up here. To all of you are attempting NaNoWriMo you have my complete admiration. Please remember to eat, move and breathe whilst you coax your characters to life, they are counting on you.

Whilst writing a novel was briefly on my bucket list when I was ten, that’s way too ambitious for me at this point. The only chapters I am able to write at the moment are called ” How to Survive Parenting in The Teenage Years With Your Hair Intact” and “Existence for Dummies”. Certainly not enough on which to base a whole novel, although there are enough dilemmas and plot twists to keep readers engaged.

My plan to write the next great Aussie novel therefore remains dormant for now. Despite this, I have decided to get in on some of the NaNo action by participating in NaBloPoMo. Despite what it sounds like, it has nothing to with blowing one’s nose. It is in fact the bloggy cousin of NaNoWriMo. National Blog Posting Month means thirty blog posts in 30 days during November. It is run by BlogHer and you can sign up here until 5 November 2013. Whether you run with a theme or post 30 unrelated posts is entirely up to you. The BlogHer site provides daily prompts which you are free to follow or you can write about whatever floats your fancy. At the time of posting, there are about 1200 blog participating. By contrast, there are about 245,000 writers participating in NaNoWriMo. That’s some serious verbage and means that we are in for some fantastic reading in December.

NaBloPoMo_November_small

Please come and join me for my NaBloPoMo ride. This will be the allsorts of blogging challenges with a bit of this and a bit of that. There is nothing like spontaneity to keep a blogger on her toes. Blogging challenges are great for getting into the blogging groove and really test blogging boundaries and for this one I’m leaving my little black dress at home and going themeless.

So lets NaBloPoMo… it’s just a jump to the left and then a step to the ri, ri, ri, ri, right. With your hands on your hips, you bring your knees in tight. Ok, you can even thrust your pelvis if you really want to.

Paying It Faward Once Again

Time for a bit of bloggy housekeeping and an award catchup.

It’s truly amazing to me that even during a blogging absence, blogging friends remember and reward. I have some fabulous readers and blogging mates and I am truly thankful.

During April and May, I received two awards from ramblingsfromamum who blogs at Ramblings From A Mum. Jen is a fellow Aussie and a very talented, multifaceted writer. Poetry, Haiku and flash fiction are all on offer at her blog. Jen has also just started a joint blog, words… from here to there, comprising thought provoking poetry and visual delights in the form of photography.

Firstly, Rambly (or mumsy) as she is fondly known, bestowed upon me the Best Moment Award.

Rambly writes that the purpose is for:

Awarding the people who live in the moment,
The noble who write and capture the best in life,
The bold who reminded us what really mattered –
Savoring the experience of quality time.

Best Moment Award

Rules:

  • Repost the award and award description
  • Give an acceptance speech
  • Pass the award on, and notify the nominees.

Not sure about a speech, but it is a real honour to be thought worthy of this award. Living in the moment and being bold takes continual practice and every day that includes these two things is an achievement. Thank you, Rambly, you really are a model recipient for this award.

If that wasn’t enough, Rambly also included me as part of her WordPress Family Award. The concept of the WordPress family is a good one and the notion that there are people “out there” who actually take the time to care about you and your life and positively impact on your blogging experience fills me with more than a little warmth. Which is needed right about now, given that Winter has arrived. Once again, thanks Rambly, the feeling is mutual.

wordpress-family-award-1

Rules:

  • Display the award logo on your blog.
  • Link back to the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 10 (or more) others you see as having an impact on your WordPress experience and family.
  • Let your 10 (or more) Family members know you have awarded them.

Also in May, dearanonymousfriend (DAF) nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. DAF blogs at dearanonymousfriend regaling us with stories about her role as a grandmother and her local community. DAF radiates a serenity that only the truly wise can muster. If your soul needs uplifting, make your way to DAF’s blog. My biggest thrill though came from DAF’s comment that I was her blogging hero. A simple thank you just doesn’t seem enough, but DAF, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for that comment. We all do what we do mostly out of pleasure and to receive that sort of feedback is mind blowing, truly.

very inspiring blogger award

Rules:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.
2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
3. State 7 things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements

Now to fulfil the rules. Seven things about me:

  1. I have long hair again for the first time in about a decade and a half and I’m loving it. I just don’t know whether to keep it or sheer it.
  2. I am once again a university student and am finding the experience incredibly stimulating and rewarding. Blogging has really helped with my academic writing.
  3. I love spending time with my teenage boys. They teach me something every day. We had a classic Wayne’s World moment today in the car singing along to and shaking our heads in time with Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.
  4. My favourite colour of roses is yellow.
  5. I love helping people and being asked to help.
  6. My idea of heaven is an overseas family holiday.
  7. I want to be a female version of Richard Glover. Richard is a writer who pens satirical commentary about everyday life. Richard blogs here .

I would like to acknowledge my WordPress Family and bestow upon them the WordPress Family Award. You all contribute to my WordPress environment and I appreciate our interactions:

Elkement from The Theory And Practice of Combining Just Anything

Bronwyn from The Speeding Turtle Gets Fit

Carrie Ruben blogging at The Write Transition

Hugh Cutler from Hugh Cutler

BTG55 from Musings Of An Old Fart

Tess from How the Cookie Crumbles

Rambly from Ramblingsfromamum

DAF from Dearanonymousfriend

Lisa from Life With The Top Down.

As for the remaining awards, I nominate you, my fellow bloggers who are also my readers. I appreciate all of your comments, feedback and the time you take to read my blog. There is an amazing blogging community out there.

A few honourable mentions from my recent A to Z Blogging April Challenge experience:

Bob’s Wife - creative glimpses into life in the Philipines

Tropical Territory – snapshots of life in the Northern Territory

Ellen M Gregg – Ellen describes herself as is a writer, Reiki master teacher and nutritional vegan. She has an amazing amount of energy and a wide variety of interests. Her blog is worth a visit.

Jagoda Perich-Anderson who blogs at Conflict Tango - an interesting blog about conflict resolution and handling conflict

Michael J Cahill who blogs at Nouveau Scarecrow – Michael signed up just before the Challenge started and came through with flying colours with some magic posts and beautiful writing.

Thank you for your work and your comments during the course of the Challenge. I hope life has returned to some semblance of blogging normal for you all.

Please feel free to pay these faward.

Still Sitting On The Fence? Come Join Us On The Grassy Verge for the A to Z April Blogging Challenge #atozchallenge

From your perch on the fence, you’ve seen the A to Z Challenge banners pop up around the place. You’re thinking that WordPress is looking smart, spruced up as its is with all the banner colour around and you sense a stirring excitement amongst your fellow bloggers. Your creative juices are starting to flow – the Challenge is about to begin.

blogging and fenceYou then start to seriously consider taking part and the executive committee inside your head starts its questioning. Can I handle a blog a day? Is this too big a time committment? What happens if I miss a post? Is my writing up to scratch? Will I know what to do?

Let me help you to address the concerns of the executive committee.

 

 

Dear Committee Members,

Thank you for under taking your usual comprehensive risk analysis on the proposed activity.

Your concerns have been noted and can be mitigated as follows:

  • X may not blog every day, but X knows that X has several posts in them. Sometimes X gets the urge to post more than once a day because X reads or experiences something that triggers the words. There are plenty of people who undertake the Challenge without a plan and blog off the cuff.
  • Alternatively, X may choose a theme for his/her blog posts which will give his/her alphabetical creations a bit more structure. Doing the research for the posts will an enjoyable and educating process.
  • There is always an opportunity for X to programme his/her work to post on a given day and time, so that X does not have to write every day. This is particularly useful if X knows he/she has a another commitment during April.
  • If X misses a day or two or three, X can make up the missing posts during the Challenge. There are plenty of bloggers who post multiple posts to catch up.
  • The posts don’t need to be particularly long. Whilst it’s up to X to choose the length, a rule of thumb is that the optimal length for a Challenge is between 250 and 750 words. It’s quality that matters, not quantity.
  • Every participant brings something individual to the Challenge. X’s writing and ideas are unique.
  • The concept behind the Challenge is simple, blog and comment. X is undertaking these activities already with much aplomb.

This is a unique opportunity for X to grow as a blogger.

Rest assured that the Committee’s work is appreciated, however April will be the optimal time for the Committee to take a much needed vacation.

Alphabet blocks

Still note sure?

Take a look at some of these WordPress blogs taking part in this year’s Challenge:

Daily (W)rite - Damyanti is a Challenge co-host and will be showcasing Indie books and authors

Circles Under Streetlights - first Challenge and writing about all things bookish, writing and fictiony

Sound of One Hand Typing - an A to Z chronicle of White Sox baseball players. Batter Up!

Tropical Territory – the theme of this blog is pictures from Australia’s Northern Territory, particularly the Top End. Can’t wait to see what this blogger comes up with.

Peter Denton – Writer – Peter writes flash fiction, scripts and short stories

A Common Sea - returning for a second round after last year’s Challenge

Bob’s Wife - who will be sharing little illustrations of the Islands of the Philippines … from vignettes of beautiful scenery to images of the Filipino way of life

Mental Indigestion - blogging about imaginary friends

Irreverent Feminist - a feminism theme

The Speeding Turtle Gets Fit – a new blog from a new blogger. If you do nothing else, check out the fantastic banner photo on this blog!

And there’s a whole lot more WordPress blogs taking part, not to mention a bunch of Blogger blogs. Total participants now number more than 1,200.

That fence starting to feel slightly uncomfortable?

Hop on down and join us. 1 April is just around the corner.

Join up by clicking the here.

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It as easy as …..the quick brown fox jumping over a lazy dog post!

Raising The Curtain On My 100th Post

Today I feel like a real milestonemason.

Ok, that’s probably not a word, but it sounds good and seems to fit the occasion.

The tagline for this blog reads “Life At the Crossroads”. Little did I know when I penned that tagline, that today my blog would be very much at the crossroads. For today is where my 100th post meets the first anniversary of this blog.

Image courtesy of freedigital photos.net

Image courtesy of freedigital photos.net

Balloons celebration

 

 

Hard to believe that a year ago I pressed that daunting blue “publish” button for the very first time.

Over the past year,  I have:

Raised The Curtain on the journey through mid-life

Raised The Curtain on creativity which had long laid dormant

Raised The Curtain on raising sons and parenting teenagers survival tactics

Raised The Curtain on what it means to be Australian and live in Australia

Raised The Curtain on my introspective musings occasionally spouting some wisdom

Raised The Curtain on the humorous aspects of life

Raised The Curtain on aspects of life bordering on the ridiculous

Raised The Curtain on my writing skills

all through the vehicle of this blog.

Most importantly, I have also:

Raised The Curtain to my emotions. To those whose blogs I follow, I say thank you for allowing me a glimpse into your world. Thank you for making me laugh, for making me cry, for making me feel connected and for making me think and marvel at your amazing talents. It’s been a great year of discovery.

Raised The Curtain on some wonderful blogging friendships. No matter that thousands of miles may physically separate us, it seems like you’re just next door.  The following bloggers deserve special thanks for making this past year of blogging a fun and inspiring affair:

Lisa at Life With The Top Down                        Sisyphus at Glass & Paper

Chris at Word Play                                               DAF at dearanonymousfriend

Lynne at Free Penny Press                                 Elyse at Fifty Four And a Half

Tess at How the Cookie Crumbles                    John at The Sound of One Hand Typing

Jen at Ramblings From A Mum                       Carrie at The Write Transition

Elkement at The Theory And Practice of Trying to Combine Just Anything

Gaupowitz at Guapola                                        Arlee at Tossing It Out

BTG at Musings of An Old Fart                       Jen at News of The Times

All quality blogs from quality bloggers.

And thank you to ALL of my followers and those who have dropped a like or a comment or two here at Curtaindom. Your little bit of cyberlove is much appreciated.

Great motivation for another year of pulling at ropes and letting in more light.

Not sure where the crossroads will lead, but I am grateful that the blogging community is here to share the journey.

200 posts by the second anniversary? Who knows?

But here’s to  Raising the Curtain just a little higher one post at a time.

Lifting the curtain

WordPress v Blogger: Is There Room For Hatred In The Equation?

In what has been an interesting week in Blogdom, I happened upon a blog post by my A-Z April Blogging Challenge mentor, Arlee Bird. With the attention catching title of  Why I Hate WordPress, and having been posted on a blog run through the Blogger platform I was curious to see not only what Arlee had to say, but also how his readers would respond.

You can read the full article here

In all fairness to Arlee, apart from the shocking title, the post represented a fairly balanced viewpoint on the difficulties of inter-platform commenting. The reality is that crossing the great divide and commenting on a Blogger blog using a WordPress ID is not as streamlined, efficient or as easy as commenting on another blog within the WordPress platform. I liken inter-platform commenting to starting a new job. In a new job, you have to learn what your colleagues all already know and take for granted –  the real procedures for getting stuff done, where it is safe to put your personal belongings, where the restrooms and the lunch rooms are etc. These are the basics that once learned and mastered grease the wheels and facilitate job performance.

Commenting WordPress to WordPress is easy. No need to type in your ID or email address, no worrying about HTML to create a live link to your blog or loading a photo. It is all done for you and as an added bonus you get notified by the friendly WordPress system when someone responds to your comment. Cross the great divide to Blogger and you have to supply your own grease.

WordPress Logo 中文: WordPress Logo

Image representing Blogger as depicted in Crun...

When I started this blog, I had little expectation other than to use it as a vehicle for learning. After a couple of posts, I discovered that content was the monarchy (you can argue whether King or Queen and there is plenty of literature out there on that issue if you are keen to explore it), but like all palaces it is the servants that keep the place running. In the context of blogging, the main servants are Networking, Promotion, SEO, Analytics, HTML and CSS. I don’t profess to be a master of these, I am but a keen student at the start of what is a very long path. So it was with this in mind, I explored the benefits and drawbacks of each blogging platform before I decided to stick my claim in a small piece of WordPress blogging real estate.

At the time I had a friend who was pushing heavily for Blogger and we in fact ran a joint blog on the Blogger platform for the 2012 A to Z April Blogging Challenge. That blog is dormant now, but you can check it out here if you feel the urge. The concept behind it was to show the difference in viewpoints of a generation X blogger and a generation Y blogger to the same issues.

I have therefore blogged on both platforms.

What tipped me to WordPress for my personal blog was two things: appearance and potential.  To me WordPress blogs looked like they had more “gravitas”. They looked more professional and had more plug ins and features. This then tied into the potential point. The literature I read at the time indicated that to enable monetization of a blog, the only serious platform contender was WordPress.org and to move a blog started on the Blogger platform to the WordPress. org platform was fraught. The move from WordPress.com to WordPress. org was more streamlined and enabled continuation of an established following through various plugins.

All of this is rather technical as well as hypothetical and at this stage I have no intention to monetize my blog. However, I do believe in maximizing my options.

Returning to Arlee’s original “hate” post, what surprised me about the comments on it was the sheer negativity that was expressed about WordPress from the predominantly Blogger commentators, most of who had never run a WordPress blog.  My search amongst the comments for some objective criteria as to why Blogger was a better blogging platform proved elusive. All that I learned was that comfort is a powerful motivator and clearly, the choice of blogging platform participation is an emotive issue.  Of course, when you try something new, it is not going feel as familiar as the old and of course you may initially have a negative perception of your experience. But should this colour your whole view on the inferiority of a blogging platform? Personally, as a reader and a commentator I don’t find the long running scripts on Blogger or Google + comfortable, but I will tolerate them for the sake of expanding my world.

Finally, as a blogger you are not compelled to cross any divide. You can be effective and have a fulfilling blogging experience simply by sticking to blogs on your own platform. Bloggers, of course blog for a host of different reasons and if your main reason is to socialize then there is probably no need to attempt the divide crossing. It’s your choice but if you choose this path, then do so knowing that there is a whole world of blogs and blogging that you are consciously saying no to.

My questions to my fellow WordPress bloggers are:

  1. Have you ever crossed the great Blogger/WordPress divide to comment on Blogger blogs?
  2. What has been your experience with cross-platform commenting?
  3. Is there a way that you have found that may make it easier to comment on Blogger blogs?
  4. Would you follow a blog on a different platform?

I’d love to hear your comments on the Blogger v WordPress issue.