Tag Archives: 2014 A to Z challenge

A to Z Challenge Reflection

Wow what a journey this had been. I started this blog a few weeks ago and figured it’d be a good exercise to maintain a goal. It was also practice for the crafting blog that is soon to come once I have a good set up and space.  I was new to the world of blogging so naturally I didn’t know about what was going on until adameverhard happened upon my blog and advised me to join. Thank you so much for stumbling upon my new born of a page and giving me that push to join!

I started out excited, the beginning letters were easy and I felt I had a purpose to my day. I had a task to do instead of sitting around and wasting away browsing on the internet. At first I had words for the letters and each word had it’s own story but as we approached the halfway mark, words became tricky and stories became scarce. I noticed a decline in my writing, it felt fake somehow and it made me worry and fear that I wasn’t being genuine enough. I took to my friends, asking them to read my writings and tell me what they thoughts and some had a few harsh words to say but it did help me get back on track. The stories then became personal and I became less afraid of opening up.

Posting everyday for the past month of April was especially a challenge for me because I always manage to quit halfway and never finish. When I reached the letter ‘Q’, I truly thought of quitting then but my close close friend would not allow it. He kept asking for me an entire hour if I had posted or not until I pushed myself to write even if it was about anything so I wrote about the letter ‘Q’. Towards the end of the letters, it became a challenge to find words that related to me, that resonated on a personal level. I wanted to keep it entertaining, genuine, open for conversation and I was hoping that I managed to do that.

I want to send out a special thanks to those who have taken the time to visit my humble little blog and took even more time to comment, like and even share. I’ve come across many creative writers out there that I hope to learn from and I want to tell them all that they’ve done a wonderful job.  For me, participating and being part of such a huge group activity was delightful enough so I couldn’t possibly ask for anything more. Thank you to those who made this challenge possible, thank you to all the moderators that visited my blog and left kind words. It is a bittersweet end and I know, if god willed, I will definitely be participating next year!

 

Z is for Zeal

zeal

ziːl/
noun
  1. great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.
             “his zeal for privatization”

Zeal is something I experienced when I first started this challenge, paired with both nervousness, panic, anxiety but all around excitement. I guess you could say that my journey with this challenge was a bit of a zigzag. It was like watching the stock market chart go up, go really up, then down, down some more, through the roof, crashing down and so on. It started with sheer excitement, looking forward to each post because inspiration was there and stories were a plenty and all was good. I felt I was writing from the heart and I was happy to share my experiences and wait for comments and likes. Then the days rolled by and the letters were getting hard to be creative with and some days I’m late. Most days I say up late to write a post and there was this one time where I had to make a post from my phone because I felt so committed.

Mid challenge and a little towards the end, I was starting to feel a little burnt out. I was questioning the sincerity and genuineness of my posts. The confidence that I had started with had crumbled away into dust, turning into self-consciousness and fear and I was very ready to quit. Luckily, I had friends that kicked my  butt into gear and I pushed through with my zeal returning to me once more and I must say I’m quite proud of myself. It’s definitely a bittersweet end. I’ve come across a few people due to this challenge and hopefully long term friendships will be made.

Y is for Years

Years are markers in time that tell us how much of it has passed by. In a year there is 365 days and in a day there are 24 hours and so on and so forth. Years are also markers in our lives, they mark our growth, they mark an end of a chapter but also the beginning of a new one. We celebrate such with New Years where we gather in flocks at social events, parties and what not to witness the transformation and with each new chapter, we  make promises to ourselves in the form of resolutions. Some of us reflect on what we’ve learn the previous year. In all the 365 days that had passed, we reflect on what we’ve learned, what we’ve experienced and we try to extract some sort of meaning out of it.

I certainly do my best to do so. With each passing year, I feel myself growing more and more afraid of not accomplishing enough, of not doing enough, of not being all that it is I can be. With each passing Birthday, I grow older and a different piece is added to the puzzle that is my perspective and consciousness and from it new worries grow like weeds among the pretty flowers that are my thoughts and dreams. They poison my mind with fears of failure and fears of not doing enough but also new dreams and aspirations as well as desire for things I never knew I wanted.  I’m afraid of being left behind by the world while everything is rushing forward.

Sometimes I think, us as humans, we are too hard on ourselves and that we expect too much of ourselves. Sometimes we forget to stop and think about how lucky we are to be alive every day. How lucky we are to be able to just wake up in the morning and start over every day. If you failed today, try again tomorrow is what I say.

The years pile up, we grow older, we learn new things, experience all sorts of sadness and happiness, meet and lose people but we should never forget to just stop and breathe. Everything will just be alright.

X is for Xylophone?

I had to think long and hard about this one as ‘X’ is one of those impossible letters that is so scarcely used it’s almost ridiculous. Maybe because it’s a difficult letter that we don’t use it often and it kind of made me feel bad for it. I was torn between Xenophobia and Xylophone and since I know little about the first, I stuck with the latter.

Xylophone, an instrument made with different types of wood, mounted over metal tubes to help the sound resonate better. Xylophones have a strange sound to them; a soft metallic sort of soothing ding that you get when striking them with mallets of either rubber or something softer like a cloth covered sponge. I don’t personally play the instrument but I can’t help but feel that there’s something whimsical about them. The sound of it playing is always so cheery and brings about this strange inner happiness and peace no matter what’s being played. You just can’t help but feel relaxed.

I remember my first toy Xylophone, you know the rainbow one that comes with a little plastic mallet and is attached to a rainbow piano? The soft chime of the piano keys sounded like little bells to my toddler and young ears, quite pleasing to say the least and banging on those metallic slates produced an even more enjoyable ding. It’s such a fun instrument to play and sometimes it feels like you could never go wrong with it. Just an hour ago, I was listening to some of it on YouTube and let me tell you, it certainly made me smile. I can even go as far as say it’s one of my favorite instruments, along with the little thumb picks which are kind of similar except with these you pick your thumbs along metal prongs to produce a beautiful, soft ding.

What are your favorite instruments?

V is for Vivid

[Another late one due to another busy Friday]

When I think of the word vivid, I think of how often I use that word to describe my nightmares. I’m often plagued with them for days at a time and sometimes they leave me too frightened to go back to sleep and too thankful that it was only a dream. I usually have three of the same nightmares that often repeat themselves. I either dream about Judgement Day, Demonic Possession or something evil in my home or room and finally being chased by some strange creature or the other that I only really manage to escape within inches of my life.

Most of the time, when I have these nightmares, I don’t even realize I slipped into a dream. It’s a smooth, frightening transition from reality into the dream world. It’s like dozing off for a few seconds and then waking up but what you don’t realize is that you woke up in a dream.  It’s usually dark all around me, and empty as if everyone had woken  up and left to go somewhere or gathered out and away in a corner of the house. This is how the nightmare of a possession or evil entity usually starts.

There are signs and hints my brain gives me to let me know I’m not awake and this isn’t real. Sometimes I try to say a prayer in my dreams to keep the demons away but something always goes wrong. I either forget what I’m trying to recite or my mouth gets filled with something that I can only describe as mushy, slimy oatmeal type of material. Another hint or sign is my lack of ability to cry out and call for help. In my nightmares, my voice is always hoarse and I’m almost always mute when it comes to crying out or screaming.

I’ve never woken up in tears or woken up screaming and I always thought that my inability to cry out in a dream is just my body’s way of keeping me from doing it outside of the dream. I wake up afraid, my heart racing and close to tears and rather shocked that I was dreaming and most of the time thankful that it was just that, a dream. it usually takes me a few hours to allow myself to go back to sleep fearing that the nightmare might continue but most of the time it never does. I don’t know where they come from or why, here in my culture there are different interpretations but I never bother to actually find out what they meant.

Maybe you could help me find out?

W is for Words

Words are funny little things made up of tiny little symbols that, throughout the years, we’ve come to know as letters. A lot of languages have the English Alphabet as their basis but even more language are based on native alphabets such as Arabic, Chinese and Japanese to name a few and each of these squiggly letters come together to form the funny things we like to call words.

Not many people know that words can be quite powerful, especially if coupled with a powerful emotion. Words can be both destructive and building, they can hurt us but they can also heal us.  A lot of people think certain words can easily be ignored, especially those who are hidden behind the veil of anonymity on the internet. Threats are spoken, death threats are angrily typed out and a whole lot of other nonsense is spewed containing an abnormal amount of hate that you can’t really find anywhere.

A few words were said to me about my writing from a friend of mine. He always told me I could do more and I have potential and he wouldn’t stop pushing me. At first his comments made nervous and unsure of myself, I’d spend a lot of times typing up something for him due to fear of being judged but as time went on, I got better and better. On the opposite spectrum of things, I had another friend that constantly laughed at my mistakes and made fun of them, he called my writing boring and uninteresting and would instantly drop out of an activity using the excuse that somehow my writing turned him off. Eventually, that affected my confidence and I grew self-conscious and unsure of myself.

Words are powerful things; they can be as destructive as any physical weapon when used to cause grief and pain and they can also be healing, comforting and loving.

U is for Unconditional

To love unconditionally is to accept the person you’re with for all their flaws and love them no matter what, to obey without question to keep the husband happy and pleased wile disregarding your own happiness, dreams and aspirations. Most of the women in my culture would be okay with that,  most of them wouldn’t really fight it but I say no. I guess that makes me kind of an oddity, I suppose. I don’t really believe in unconditional love and obedience. I’d be more open to give it to my cat than to someone else, love that is. This notion of obedience and love that this culture and society has really bothers me, it had always bothered me.

It’s something that comes with arranged marriage and what bothers me about that is the guy has a template in mind that his mother goes around to see if a girl fits it and that template is usually: Sweet, good cook, good home keeper, obedient, can stay home.. etc. Now I know that not everyone is like this and not every guy is like in this society but what bothers me with that is that men go into this sort of thing wanting to change a girl into something that fits them and girls do the same thing. If you don’t like the person, just say no. Don’t try to mold them into something you want them to be, something that fits you.

Some would think that unconditional love or even obedience is a good thing. A friend of mine was in a relationship with someone who demanded her utmost obedience and acceptance and love. She was the type of girl that would give up her life for this person and give up everything, well not everything but close enough. He’d tell her how to dress, who to talk to, who to not talk to and she was completely alright with that and to me that’s not healthy. In a healthy relationship you’re supposed to be able to give and take on a fair and balanced level and expecting or giving unconditional love will just eliminate all and any kind of healthy boundaries and limits a relationship needs to stay afloat.

Unconditional is not romantic, it just means that you’ll accept everything this person has to throw at you, the good with the bad and while acceptance is a good thing, a line has to be drawn somewhere and I guess where that line is drawn is different to each and every one of us.

T is for Trust

Trust is something most if not everyone considered to be sacred. It’s one of the important components of the glue that keeps relationships together and intact. When a person loses their trust in someone, the relationship begins to fall apart because the glue that kept together isn’t strong enough any more as a fundamental ingredient had been taken away. I remember when I lost my trust in my best friend. It didn’t stop me from being her friend but it taught a lot about who to confide in and what sort of things I should and shouldn’t confide. It’s one of those things where you know how the person is going to react but at the same time, you wanted someone to confide in anyway and see as she was my best friend, I thought that I could tell her anything but instead I was wrong.

I’d rather not go into detail about it as it is a very long and complicated story so in the spirit of keeping it short; I was in an argument with her and my brother. They both believed that I was a weak pillar and a danger to the business because of how nice I am and how ‘easily manipulated’ they believe me to be. At that point, my ‘best friend’ decided to use something I confided within her as ammo, more precisely as an example to how exactly she believed me to be inadequate and lacking. A person we work with had taken a liking to me and I shared his feelings but the complicated circumstances of the culture really prevented things from going any further so I had to end it.

It was that moment that I felt my trust in her shatter into a million pieces. I didn’t really feel the same after that and my behavior with her was never the same. I grew a bit distant and cold and the next day she was hoping that things would get back to normal so she asked me “I want you to be my best friend again, why won’t you talk to me?” to which I replied “The last time I talked to you, you used my words as ammo against me”.

Trust is a very fragile and sacred thing in a relationship. Once you lose it, it becomes very hard to get it back.

S is for Spontaneous

I’ve never been one for spontaneity, I’m too scared for that, too reserved to say the least. I’m always the sane person who makes sure the rest of the crazies don’t get into trouble or attempt anything insane. Like the other day when my sister tried to convince cousins and brother that we should go on a jet boat ride. She’s a lot more wild than I am and certainly a lot more brave.

A few years ago, quite a while ago, during high school years. We were at another resort and my sister, my cousins and I were hanging out a little spot overlooking the ocean. It was a sort of outdoor cafe. It was a hot, summer day with the sun being high given that it was noon. Everyone was bored and tired, I was relaxing and watching the ocean and jumping in was certainly tempting but others were a lot braver and decided to give in to said temptation. The girls were already discussing jumping over the stone railing because it was too hot and they wanted to cool off.

Of course, I was the voice of reason, trying to hammer some common sense into these girls because they’d be jumping close against a rocky wall and there was a ‘no diving’ sign for a reason.

Next thing I knew, I hear screaming followed by splashes. I don’t think I’ve ever felt my anxiety level go up that high! I wasn’t sure what I was mad about; the fact that they were stupid enough to risk their lives to cool off or that I was too scared to join in. I remember being so mad at them and it made me cranky for the better part of the day. I told my mother about it and she laughed really.

R is for Rekindle

It’s amazing what a simple conversation can bring up, the memories it could stir and the lost love it could rekindle.

Yesterday I went driving around with my sister, mall hopping so to speak, in search for an adorable little camera called the Samsung Smart Shot MV900F. It took us about two hours of mall and shop hopping to find it and when we did it, let me tell you, I’ve never really done the whole fangirl squeal hopping thing over a piece of tech before as I have for this one. I was relaying this event to a friend of mine and so he grew curious about my pictures that I’ve taken with a DSLR Camera that I used during college and still have. I’m surprised that he had favorites to pick from them and he was surprised that I was a Graphic Designer.

So I started talking about the Photography courses that I took during college and that my favorite was film photography. It was always such a clumsy process to try and open the film reel with a can opener in the dark and then load it into the white reel and then shimmy it across until it’s loaded and placed into the black, light proof container. Such a clumsy but immensely fun process. I remembered the hours I spent trying to develop my film right and printing it to perfection, it was such a relaxing process for me and I thought I could never have that again.

So I started a simple search on Amazon to see how much it would cost to get film, chemicals and an enlarger and all was surprisingly along $500 but then a I followed it up with a bit of YouTube surfing and saw that some photographers use a light proof bag that has sleeves in order to load their negatives. It dawned on me then that I wasn’t going to need a Darkroom or an enlarger, I could use a scanner and this bag/tent thing.

That was when I felt my long lost passion for taking pictures return to me, I felt so elated by such an idea. I still have my manual camera from the college days a regular 35mm. It was always the suspense of not knowing if the picture would turn out right that had me love this craft all the more.