#AtoZChallenge | Reflections on my fourth time. It’s all about the connections.

After taking a year off from blogging, I returned to the A to Z Blogging Challenge with my creative spark renewed. I spent March prepping all of my posts so that I could focus the majority of my time during April on visiting and engaging with other bloggers which is one of my favorite things about this blogging challenge.

It was both strange and exhilarating to be blogging again after a period of inactivity. It was also serendipitous. As news headlines grew more dire and states began to issue shelter in place orders, having blogs to read and comment on throughout the month was an enjoyable distraction.

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#AtoZChallenge | Z is for Zeitgeist and crafty protest during tumultuous times.

These are challenging political times. This post is not aimed at spending time in that space. As I wrote about earlier during this challenge, I think podcasts and other formats are a better place to discuss complex topics especially when there are strong opinions on both sides.

What will the final verdict be on the current political zeitgeist? I don’t know, but creativity will definitely be a component, as it has been through many of the social and political upheavals our country has faced in the past.

In my research, I came across the word Craftivism which is a combination of craft and activism coined by Betsy Greer. What a perfect description!

There is also a manifesto which is shown below and was previously available on her site which is no longer active.

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#AtoZChallenge | Y is for Yuletide and always having room for one more tree.

As you enter our house, there is a small mudroom. The floor is raised slightly above the adjoining living room and, on the left, there is an alcove with one large, single window that opens onto the road leading up to our house. It’s the first thing visitors see as they arrive.

If you come in December, it will also smell like pine. It’s the first place in our house where you’ll find a Christmas tree. It’s not the only one.

I’ve collected Christmas ornaments since I was a girl. It’s my tactile memory keeping project where each ornament connects back to a memory or significant event from my past. Each tree lets me explore those memories further.

This entryway tree used to be the one my girls decorated when they were younger. It wasn’t an attempt to engage them and allow them personal expression. It was far more selfish. I didn’t want them touching my tree. I invested fully in the ruse, picking out ornaments that matched their passions at the time. I still have two bins worth of ornaments hoping to find a new home some day with the grandchildren.

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#AtoZChallenge | X is for Xylitol and other sugars that are off the table.

I would make the long walk to the barn, located on the outskirts of campus, from my college dorm every day. I had no choice. I had to feed my chickens. There were four assigned to me that I embarrassingly had named after various school girl crushes. Probably not the best choice, as I also had to document their symptoms as they got progressively more ill. I had to determine which nutrient was missing in their diet. Welcome to my undergraduate world where, at the time, I was studying Human Nutrition.

I’ve always had an interest in food. While I enjoyed much of my undergraduate program, I realized after graduating and working in a hospital that the career paths aligned with my newly bestowed degree weren’t the right fit for me. I moved on career wise, but have always maintained a strong interest in food and diet.

Lately, I’ve been focused on getting to know how my body reacts to certain foods. My primary goal is to reduce overall inflammation. I feel great, but know that inflammation has long term negative effects on your body and that the symptoms can be subtle but pervasive. I’d like to understand better how it might be impacting me and how I can eliminate or reduce inflammation.

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#AtoZChallenge | W is for Warmth and why I can’t give up my chair.

I recently took up meditation, which I wrote about in my previous A to Z Challenge Post: J is for Juggling thoughts and learning to stay in the moment. In addition to the meditation practice, there were mindfulness challenges each week.

For the first week, we worked on being more aware of habits by changing the chair we typically sit in each day. When I went into our weekly work meeting that Monday, I glanced around at the small oval table, where I typically sit facing the entrance door, and paused. I had arrived early, so my options were open. I mixed things up and grabbed a chair opposite where I usually sit, with my back to the door. My coworker noticed and even commented on the fact that I wasn’t in my usual spot. Habit busted.

That night with my husband traveling and girls away at school, I was alone for dinner. After I finished cooking, I started to head into the living room with my plate of food but stopped. Instead, I sat down on one of the bar stools that line our kitchen island. I slowly and deliberately ate my dinner there instead of in front of the television. Habit busted.

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