college

365 Challenge: Day 192 – Elements

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Elements: experiencing all four of them on the trip today: earth, air, water, and fire

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Today’s 365 Daily Challenge word is ‘elements’ because on this third day of the vacation, I see all four of them: (1) earth in the tree and greenery, (2) air in the wind blowing the Spanish moss, (3) water in the lake in the background and (4) fire in the hickory smell in the air all around. And I was also completely in my element in this beautiful arboretum at Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, North Carolina. We spent a few hours this morning at this lovely place, where you can see tons of pictures below, or also on my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts. Afterwards, we drove to Wrightsville Beach, which was exactly like the seaside town I wanted to visit. Lunch at the Oceanic right on the beach while we watched surfers crash, bathers play on the sand and people mulling about the small island space.

We drove three hours this afternoon to Chapel Hill and checked in at the Siena Hotel, which is gorgeous. More on that in tomorrow’s post. We toured UNC Chapel Hill and are now back at the hotel for a short break before going out to dinner and a few bars this evening. Or maybe I’ll enroll in a Master’s program and start auditing classes. Or possibly find a party at one of the fraternities or sororities, as we saw at least ten houses the size of mansions…. makes me miss my college years and my fraternity days when I was our president. Oh well, feels like a different life… but it’s also given me two fantastic book ideas. One is called ‘Alternate Lives,’ which I’ll explain in a post once I get back home. Another is called the ‘Elements of Living,’ a book about how to experience all the things in life you should embrace regardless of who you are. I need more time to write all these books, but that’ll have to wait. I need to finish and schedule this post, then head to dinner. Ciao!

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500 year old Airlie Oak Tree with Spanish Moss – Stunning

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Lake in the middle of Airlie Gardens

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Sitting area built in an old oak tree

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Random trees in between the various gardens

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Cemetery with graves from the 1700s (creepy lighting effect!)

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Bridal Walk to the lake where they hold weddings

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States built all throughout with small sitting areas

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Brunch at Wrightsville Beach @11:40 (oops, drinking before 12 noon, I’m bad!)

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View from our table of the surfers while we had brunch

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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365 Challenge: Day 154 – College Jobs

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College Jobs: jobs I held during college years to pay for tuition and have some spending money

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Sunday posts, the end of each week, have become a theme on This-Is-My-Truth-Now, organized by groups of five (5) focused on interesting things about my life. I’m continuing the trend of the seventh day, ending the week on Sunday, as a list (we know I love them) that provides more in depth knowledge about me.

  • Weeks 1 – 5: Primary ethnicity groups and nationalities
  • Weeks 6 – 10: A to Z Favorites
  • Weeks 11 – 15: Colors with an important meaning
  • Weeks 16 – 20: Cities I’ve lived

The current set of 5 Sundays covers the major groups of roles / jobs / positions I’ve held over my career. Though I have had about fifteen titles over the years, when I broke it down into smaller groups, week two is all about the jobs I held during college.

  • Day Care Worker
  • Waiter
  • College Department Office Clerk

First semester students were not permitted to work in lieu of having time to adjust to being on your own, away at a college campus. It’s probably for the best, as it not only gives you the ability to sort out your friends, schedule and identity, but it also lets you focus on looking for the the right kind of job. When I enrolled at Moravian College, I knew I wanted to major in English and Education, so I talked to both departments. The Education Department had already hired someone for the spring semester, but the English Department wanted to see how I did in the first year writing course before I started in the Writing Center as a tutor. I needed a job! I had a phone bill to pay. And needed cash to go on dates. To buy books. Whaaattt??

By luck, I met and chatted with the Catholic Chaplain at mass each Sunday, as I went to church back then. Father Pete was a great man. We talked for hours about life, pursuing hopes and dreams and figuring out our connection to God and others. I worked in the on-campus seminary office for a few months, helping as a clerk with various responsibilities until he moved on in the beginning of my sophomore year to a different school. I chose not to return to that office as a student worker, as the only reason I had taken the role was the friendship with Father Pete. At that point, the English Department hired me as a tutor for 10 hours per week.     Thye sed i culd right wel!    I worked with first year students to offer advice on papers, help them understand basic grammar rules and provide guidance on research options for their course topics. I was also offered 10 hours in the Education Department, helping to coordinate the senior year student teaching program with all of the local schools. Both were fantastic jobs, but I had to quit the Writing Center position in my junior year because the Education Department’s office manager had become sick. She was taking a 3 month leave of absence and the Department Chair hadn’t wanted to hire anyone else. I ran the office with another student, taking on about 25 hours per week, which was the maximum for any student worker.

All of these experiences taught me essential and critical office and business skills, eventually preparing me for my future in post-college jobs — an upcoming post. I made several great contacts, learned the art of negotiation and developed ways to build relationships and trust, beyond that of a professor and a student. It also helped push me towards obtaining teaching certification, which I ultimately stopped just before the final stage. After a year of student teaching, I had realized that if I taught children all day long, I might not be such a great parent at night, needing a break from it and wanting the opportunity for adult conversation. Ultimately, though I love the concept of teaching, I would not handle the politics in grammar and secondary schools these days. I finished out college with a minor in Education, added in Spanish and Business courses, and obtained a degree in English with two concentrations in writing and literature.

While school was out for the summers, or had minimal classes, both departments cut hours for students, which was fine for me. I ended up searching for jobs and took one related to my field and one unrelated to my field. Let’s start with my job as a waiter, perhaps one of my favorites. My father’s cousin owned an upscale Italian restaurant and hired summer workers. I had been there a few times, helping her with setting up menus on the computer and the screens for the cashier registers. She gave me a chance working as a waiter on the lunch shifts, a sort of test run to see if I could hack it. Apparently, I could! She soon put me on the schedule for Friday and Saturday nights. Despite being shy, I had a different persona when I was a waiter, one in which I was super friendly, slightly flirty and extremely attentive. I never dropped any food or drinks, rarely got abused my rude customers and usually came home with a really good amount of tips. I learned a lot from the kitchen staff, how to order food from suppliers and how to make drinks. Another great set of skills to pick up when you are 19 / 20, as I did this for both the summers after freshman and sophomore year.

Additionally, during my sophomore year, and then again during my junior year summers, I worked for 35 hours per week at a day care nursery school. I was assigned the first year as the helper in a room for two-year-olds, and then I was given primary responsibility for a room of 3-year-olds. Knowing the kids were much younger than I planned to teach, it wasn’t a perfect fit; however, it was much better than working inside all day in a job that felt claustrophobic over the summer. I had two fifteen-minute breaks, plus 30 minutes for lunch. We took them to the gym for 30 minutes each day, plus 30 minutes outside for a walk around the property. We played games, read and tried to teach a few things around nap schedules. It was a really fun job, as I love children. I’m usually the one crawling on the floor, acting like a child myself.

It was a little awkward at first, as some of the two-year-olds needed their diapers changed, which although not something new for me (I had tons of younger cousins I often babysat), it felt weird to do that in public in a room with other kids and adults, knowing I was the only guy in the entire school. I think I might have been a ‘diversity’ hire — I mean no offense by that in terms of race or ethnicity, simply a little humor in that the owner was overly-thrilled I wanted to work there but also nervous what the parents would think. I wasn’t out to anyone during college, nor very obvious, but they must have known. Some of the girls flirted at first, but either I gave off signals or they realized their bark was climbing the wrong tree! I had to go through an extra interview process to meet all the parents at a drop-off and pick-up prior to being approved in the classroom. It was right at the height of all the laws changing to be more protective of children (rightfully so) and still at a time when it wasn’t quite normal for a guy to work in that field. It probably helped that at 20, I still looked 14 (just like at 40, I still look 18 21 27 33, and keep your mouth shut if you feel the need to say anything else), and although I was quite smart and adult-like in everything I did, I always came across as quote young and innocent.

I don’t think I could or would do that job again now. Not because I don’t love children, but because parents and schools are nightmares when it comes to all the do’s and don’ts in the classroom. I understand the policies and different teaching methods, but I have little tolerance for all the BS politics. I also probably wouldn’t want to be a waiter again, not because of the tasks or the duties, but because people are so rude on their cell phones to wait staff, it doesn’t feel worth it anymore. Whenever I’m a patron in a restaurant, I ensure I know the server’s name and find a connection point to keep dialogue moving throughout the time (s)he is serving us. That’s sorta the issue for me… they might be ‘serving’ us for that 90-minute period, but seriously, let’s all be friendly and open-minded about it. If the waiter is a jerk or difficult, then I just let them be cold and distant and won’t connect. Always their choice in the beginning…

How about you? What did you learn from your college or summer jobs after graduating from high school? Or what are your kids thinking about doing?

RECOMMENDED BLOGGER

  • Today’s 365 Daily Challenge recommended blogger to know is Karen @ Run Wright. I don’t exactly recall how or when Karen and I connected, but it was a good thing it happened. She’s a published author, has a fantastic personality and a bit of a fun quirky humor in all our conversations. We’ve chatted about everything from TV shows to running to what to do if your date showed up wearing a romper or a jumper matching the one you’d chosen. Yikes! We both live in NYC and might meet up one day, which could just blow the whole blogging world up — as there are many of us here (I already met one lovely lady). We could all start a club. Karen is a delight to chat with, interacts frequently and always pushes you to think outside the box a little. I’m very curious to see if she’d take over a 365 post one day, simply to see what kind of angle she’d pursue. I’m also very curious about this accent she tells us about. When I read her comments, I try to think about her typing it out on a mobile phone while hopping on the subway three cars down from me — wouldn’t that be ironic! If you want to learn more about her, check out the below blurb from her About Me section and then go visit the site yourself:
    • “I’m Karen but people who know me through the blog now call me Run Wright. It’s always funny for me to hear that but I love the validation.I’m a published author and my collection of stories, It’s Complicated: Short Stories About Long Relationships is now available on Amazon. I’m Jamaican but I’ve lived in New York City almost long enough to have lost my accent (not really)… My accent is most distinct when I’m excited (at least once a day) and always when I talk to my mom. I love running even though I’m not very good at it. I am a Chemical Engineer by training but my true passion is writing – it’s how I express myself best and it’s how I share my dreams with others. I write fiction, poetry, articles, short stories and I have a several novels on my computer that are almost ready to be published. I blog about running, fitness, goals, lessons learned, books, food and balanced living. I’m passionate about being a Christian and live to reflect God’s character.”

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

My Novel: Father Figure (Week 6 – Friday, August 11th, 2017)

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Writing a book runs the range from easy to difficult. At times, the words are exactly as captivating as you need them to be. In others, the words feel more stilted than one could possibly imagine. First drafts are only meant to be the initial release of the story in your head. I encountered both extremes during the course of the week, but in the end, it all came together quite nicely. I’m still baffled how six weeks ago this was barely a figment of my imagination and now here we are with 40% of the first draft written. I present to you Father Figure’s weekly status:

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Status:  Friday, August 11, 2017 – Week #6

  • Research
    • Let’s not discuss.
  • Chapters 1 thru 6
    • Editing went well. I cleaned up a few grammar issues. Dropped in a few connections for surprises in later chapters. Overall, there are moments in the story where I find myself a bit teary and at others excited. I should be ready to share two chapters with the beta team before the end of August.
      • Describing the onset of a winter blizzard in the deep fields of a small Ohio town has been intense. But some of the descriptions I’ve included feel like a few paragraphs of my best writing.
  • Chapters 7 thru 9
    • I committed to drafting three chapters this week and I’m happy to say I met the goal. I’m finally back down with a count around twelve pages per chapter, which is what I had planned. I feel good about not being too wordy, and I’m inclined to think the initial chapters have some backstory and/or descriptions which might be pushed forward a bit to balance out the page count and keep the interest in the action growing more fervent.
  • Chapters 10 thru 11 (BONUS!)
    • Ever the Type A personality, I wrote an additional two chapters this week. I have not edited them, just let the words fly from my fingers to the characters on the laptop screen. I’ll decide next week if that was a good idea or a bad one based on how well written they seem after a few days distance. But… it was important to push myself if I want the entire first draft complete sooner than the original plan.
      • TIP: Sometimes writers get caught up in details along the way. I wanted to name a specific music artist or song in a paragraph, but needed to research the perfect option. I had a choice: (a) take 15 minutes to find it and get lost down a rabbit hole where I lost the momentum or (b) add a “____” to be filled in later. Always add the line, you will get more done in the end.

 

 Next Steps: Plan for Week #7

    • Edit Chapter 7 thru 11 to match tone and voice of earlier chapters, include additional details and check repetition in words or phrases
    • Write chapters 12 thru 15 with a target to end up in total at ~ 210 pages & 65K words
      • At that point, I’ll be 55% complete with a first draft
      • At that rate, with 5 more weeks to finish the remaining 45%, a first draft needs to be complete by 9/16 when I leave on vacation. It will sit untouched for 2 weeks to let my mind process in the background, then I can begin editing in early October upon my return home.

What’s on the author’s mind?

  • Building characters is an incredibly fun experience. I’m not certain how other writers embrace the process, but for me, each one lives and breathes with me throughout the day. Let’s take Amalia, the main character, as an example. I know what she looks like and I watch in my head as she walks around a college campus.
    • I know the little flip she does with her curly hair
    • I notice the way the wind carries her perfume across the library entrance
    • I knew the adrenaline markers across her body when she’s afraid of the guy who appears to be following her
  • The campus is remarkably similar to where I went to school merely because I need a setting. I’ll adjust those particulars later as the visualization is about how Amalia behaves. She has a few distinguishing features (no reveals here!) and in order to convey them throughout the story without constantly repeatedly saying the same thing, I have to imagine
    • how her body would walk
    • how it would sit
    • how it would interact when she was intimate with someone
  • I’m not one for fluff, so I need to have a strong sense of not only how her body moves, but how she feels about the way it moves. When I add in the backstory of her relationship with her mother and father, it gets more complicated.
    • what words did her mother use to teach Amalia about femininity
    • how did her father handle his daughter becoming a woman
    • what happens when she goes from small town to college campus.
  • These are things that, at least for this writer, don’t just flow out of my head and onto the page as I’m writing. I need those details worked out in advance, incorporated from the outline into the book at the proper time. It’s a rather organized approach, but at the same time, I feel it brings depth to the character whereas if I just wrote it as I thought of the sentiments, it may not feel strong enough for what I’m trying to accomplish.
  • On a scarier note, I stumbled upon a few potential changes to an event that I’d planned to occur in a chapter I wrote this week. When you have a character with more than one love interest, you need to be careful to clearly show why (s)he would feel attracted to each potential suitor. Though I’d summarized a half page about each relationship in the outline, it didn’t feel distinct when I wrote it. I wasn’t convinced that I’d built a proper explanation or desire to distinguish what each love represents. I have some re-thinking to do which at first made me nervous, but now I realize it will help set up the conflict in a way that readers might not even be sure who they want to be together. I love a good challenge!

Are these tidbits confounding you? Raising and peaking your interest? Or you’re just waiting until I have something more real to share? Thanks for listening.

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Summary of Father Figure (only read if you’re new to the book)

  • One young girl’s need to escape the mundane life she’s grown up in and another young girl’s quest to find her father, unaware of all the circumstances they’ve both been placed in due to decisions and actions occurring nearly 20 years ago and that both women have made in the present. How well do you really know your parents? Do they truly understand you? Can you ever truly escape the past?
  • A contemporary fiction novel set in two time periods with two primary characters:
    • 1998 – Amalia Graeme, about to turn 18, attends college, leaving behind a mother with whom she had a difficult relationship. While Amalia has a boyfriend, she’s secretly attracted to an older professor, Dr. Jonah West. She begins an affair with him and realizes she must come clean to her boyfriend. After she tells the boyfriend, they have a huge fight and she leaves to find Jonah who she thinks can comfort her. Along the path, she’s attacked by a stranger and her life is never the same again. Amalia makes a few choices which will later have disastrous consequences.
    • 2018 – Amalia, going by Molly and living in NYC, sends her daughter, Brianna, away to college. Just like her mother, Brianna begins dating one of her professors, probably looking for a father figure, as she’s never met her real father. Brianna has always accepted her mother’s story that her father was a military man with whom Molly had a one-night stand and later found herself pregnant with no way to find him. When Brianna uncovers her mother’s old journal, she learns the shocking secret that her mother never knew who the father was because it could have been more than one man. As Brianna searches for clues to find her father, she stumbles upon a few facts which could completely change the future. But when the stranger who attacked her mother re-surfaces, not even Molly knows if she can protect her daughter anymore.

 

About Me
I am a writer. I am currently searching for an agent and looking at independent publishing options for my first book, Watching a Glass Shatter. To see more, please check out the website for this novel where you will find the first 3 chapters, character bios and sample quotes.

I am writing my second novel, Father Figure, with plans to finish it in December, 2017. As part of the process to engage with my fans and followers, I am publishing a weekly status on the progress of this second book. For a description of this book, check out the post where my friends and followers voted for this book as my second novel.

Beyond these two books, I have a number of short stories, poems and other novels in various shapes and forms. I also read A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, Tags, Awards, Age/Genre/Book Reads and Author Spotlights, as well as the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge.

You can also access my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

365 Challenge: Day 133 – Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

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Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: Christmas-town in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania, home of Moravian College, where I went to school for four years

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Sunday posts, the end of each week, have become a theme on This-Is-My-Truth-Now, organized by groups of five (5). In the first set of five, we explored my primary ethnicity groups and nationalities. In the second set of five, we had the AtoZ Challenges for various favorite things in our lives. In the third set of five, we discovered all the colors (excluding black and white) that have an important meaning to me. And so… I’m continuing the trend of the seventh day, ending the week on Sunday, as a list (we know I love them) that provides more in depth knowledge about me. This is our fourth grouping, covering weeks #16 thru #20 of the 365 Daily Challenge, and the topics will be: the 5 Places I’ve lived! Last week was the city where I  where I grew up — Long Island, New York, but this week is the city where I went to college: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Before we get into those details, a few interesting facts about this lovely place as well as the Wikipedia link for more information:

  • One of the centers of steel trade during the Industrial Revolution
  • Over 20 colleges and universities in the surrounding cities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton
  • Christmas village setup every year
  • Large population of Moravian religion followers

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After I took the SAT, I received hundreds of brochures based on my scores and profile. I picked a few schools on Long Island, but I also wanted a few that would bring me to another state. I found three schools of interest in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. Given my uncle and his family moved to the Lancaster area the prior year, and this was only about an hour north, we took a family trip and killed two birds with one stone. {Aside: No birds were really harmed, I promise.} We toured the college campus for each school, and by the time I’d finished, I decided which school was best for me. I won’t bring up the negatives on the other ones, as that’s not fair; we all have our own taste and interest. I chose Moravian College, right in the heart of Bethlehem.  It had two campuses, North and South, separated by about 1 mile of the central part of the village. It’s the sixth oldest school in the country and was originally a women’s college.

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Moravian was where I became an adult. I went from being an incredibly shy and quiet only child who rarely went out… to a fraternity guy (YES, I know… shocker!) — and our frat’s president in my junior year… to a theatre performer and a middle school student teacher. I’ve had so many different lives, but it all began with living on my own for the first time at 18 years old. I cried when I said goodbye to my parents. I started making friends, drinking at a few parties, building up courage and confidence. It’s where I learned to become my own man. I still chat with many of my frat brothers, sorority friends and dorm buddies. It was an amazing experience, as I love the academic life and culture. Some day, perhaps I’ll be a professor of something and be able to give back to students and colleges.

During the 4 years, I lived on campus for 2 years and off campus in the fraternity house for 2 years. I came home for major holidays and a few weeks each summer, otherwise, I lived in Bethlehem. I had my own car, a kitchen to cook in and a house to party in. I considered staying there after graduation, but it was a strange year for me, ultimately sending me back to Long Island. Everything changed when I graduated: My grandfather had recently passed away, my godmother passed away and I accepted that I was gay. I’d never explored that side of me before, though I had known it was always who I was. I’ve gone back a few times to visit friends, to speak at the college for alumni meetings, graduations and and guest spots at conferences. I miss it, to be honest. But it helped make me who I am today, and for that, I will always be grateful. Though it only last 4 years, it has a lifetime of memories:

  • Where I dyed my hair rust
  • Where I earned the nickname Saturday Night Fever
  • The only time I’ve been hospitalized (dehydration, and not from drinking!)
  • Where I rushed and pledged a fraternity — don’t ask me about hazing!
  • Where I met amazing friends and professors
  • When I became a man (an adult)
  • How I learned multi-tasking skills
  • Where my thirst of history was quenched
  • Where I was elected to read several verses and readings at the annual Moravian Vespers ceremony in the Moravian Church full of thousands of people
  • Where my love of Christmas was normal

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Imagine being in Bethlehem during Christmas season… when it snowed… at an outdoor village… buying presents… with reindeer and elves running all around against a forest backdrop and the river banks just on the other side… in a valley and on a hill… sheer perfection. It’s a wonderful place to visit, and many of my friends and former college buddies still live there. I’ll visit again soon.

How about you? Have you been to Bethlehem? Moravian College? Lehigh Valley? Share away this week before we finish the last in this 5-week arc revealing all the places I’ve lived. Next and last is San Francisco one week from today. Thanks for being part of this fun series!

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RECOMMENDED BLOGGER

  • Today’s 365 Daily Challenge recommended blogger to know is Mama Cass @ Aspen Tree Book Reviews. We connected a little less than two months ago probably over a book we both enjoyed. Her website is dedicated to many great books in a range of genres and sub-genres. She’s quite funny and we’ve had tons of conversations about genealogy and technology. She’s done a lot of research and is always searching for more great finds. She also calls me Superman, which I find quite funny, given how I always refer to myself as average. But if you want to see some humor, get a little inspiration and meet a new friend, check out her site. A few words from her About Me section:
    • “I have been reading since the time I could walk.  50 years later and I read approximately 150 books a year.  I want each author to take me to a land, a time, a place of their choosing.  I am merely along for the ride. I read many different genres of books, because I love diversity, sociology and culture. So, that being said, you might find books about African American literature, books about Buddhism or Muslim, or a gay or lesbian love story.  I don’t believe in just reading what is familiar, that’s a good way to miss out.”

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

365 Challenge: Day 123 – Learned

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Learned: connected or involved with the pursuit of knowledge; erudite, scholarly

learned

I’ve spent my last twenty-four hours pondering the various ways in which people learn new things, subjects or topics. As a child, it’s relatively easy to find methods for learning, particularly because in most cultures you are either being schooled at home or attending public or private school. Though it certainly varies from country to country, children and young adults generally attend grammar and secondary schools until they are 18; often, it’s followed by anywhere from 2 to 8 years of undergraduate colleges and graduate universities. Sometimes you take a break, re-enroll or return for additional degrees and certifications throughout your life. Ultimately, your education is generally formulated during those first 25 years of your life before you are more than likely forced to focus on a career and/or earning money to support yourself and/or a family.

In those first 25 years, a majority of the learning process or time is directed by a teacher or professor who has done the research, or been told by the school district, department chair or board of directors what methods to use and which books to read. My point, though it can be interpreted in many different ways, is that someone else “above/before” you is driving the education you are receiving. You might have selected the school, teacher, course, or some independent study components within the overall program, but you aren’t doing a majority of the planning and decision-making on how the entire learning experience will play out. Yes, you certainly pick a lot of the things you focus on within that course or degree, but you rarely can make up a majority of the requirements for your own education. While that seems like an obvious statement, I felt the need to establish it as a baseline understanding before I chat a little bit about what’s going on in my head these days…

It’s easy to rely on someone else to set the boundaries or parameters of your learning experience. And when you let them, you are able to focus on the actual reading, research and experimenting to gain the knowledge in preparation for your future. But what happens when you’re done with your formal education and you still want to learn. What are your options? A few ideas:

  • Read books, journals and magazines
  • Find a seminar or course
  • Research via the Internet
  • Talk to people in that field

All are good options, but they require you as the individual to drive that piece of your education. If you want to learn pottery, you have to find and take a course, choose what books you want to read, travel the world to look at different artistry elements… you are left with an endless supply of information, but not always certain on how to proceed with so much at your fingertips and so little in a comprehensive overview. No longer do you have a documented itinerary or list of requirements that directs you towards gaining the knowledge you need. And for many people, that can be overwhelming. As I look at the things I’d like to accomplish in my future, I find myself thinking about who will help guide me through all the vast and open paths. While I’m confident I can navigate a big piece of the puzzle, am I really qualified or prepared to figure this out on my own?

The answer, at least for me or in my opinion, is NO. Or at least it isn’t specifically right now. Let’s take the option I’m considering for self-publishing my novel. While I continue to draft and send queries to literary agents, we all know it’s a big piece of luck and chance that will bolster my success, no matter how talented I am. And so I am excited about looking at all the options out there for self-publishing as an alternative. As I began writing my project plan over the last week, I found myself having to research topics on the Internet, talk to other writers and bloggers, look for already written summaries, etc. And it dawned on me, while there may be a class or video blog out there to help, it’s still 100% up to me to figure this out. There’s no advisor, professor, parent, boss, chairperson… whatever the appropriate person is for the field I’m looking at… and in reality, I actually first need to figure out what my educational plan is going to be before I just randomly go research it.

So… to bring some perspective back here… this post isn’t me saying “anyone have thought on self-publishing?” as I have already begun to prepare my own comprehensive plan on how to go about doing this, given all the materials at my disposal. But this post is saying… how does the rest of the world handle this? And doesn’t it seem silly that we spend so much of our early years “planning and learning,” only to find ourselves truly needing to be in a place of constant learning and growing without the right tools? Isn’t that one of the major points of life in any religion, culture or calling? To educate one’s self so that you can be a productive member of society and enhance the world for our future. But how do we do that if we end our formal learning process by 20 to 25 and leave it up to everyone to individually find time in our busy schedules to keep the momentum growing without these processes and tools.

In a way, it’s almost like suggesting we should have a “Life Skills” course that is taught by people who focus on these things day in and day out. Now that’s a job I think I would be tremendously strong at! I spend so much of my time thinking about all aspects of life, how to be a better person, how to be open-minded and fair… it seems like that we all would benefit from a regular educational experience about how to grow as people, move the world forward and become more highly intelligent beings. Many of us do this already… often inconsistently… usually on our own. But what if there were learning facilities with people (almost like the concept of a life coach) focused on helping make this a prominent component of everyone’s life. Forget about whether it’s required or optional. Start with just having something that actually offers the ability to connect and talk with other people about these things in a regular forum.

It’s along the same path as teaching life skills courses during the early years to help people have a 360 view of what the world has to offer and what we should be doing as human beings. It’s something I try to push myself to think about every day when I write the 365 Daily Challenge post. It was suggested I turn these into a book at one point, and I’m seriously wondering whether this is something that needs to be more of a focus in my life. It shouldn’t be 3 minutes of someone’s thoughts whenever they have time. I feel like maybe this should be part of a Life Skills & Learning Platform that becomes part of our post-degree or post-school educational experiences. Inclusive across the board on gardening, cooking, problem solving, genealogy, overview of sports, religion, cultures, blogging, buying a house, having a child, volunteering, car maintenance, travel planning, meditating, accepting failure, etc.

All these things have books, seminars, blogs, videos… but it’s so decentralized. No one-stop shop or place to truly have a place to turn in life to keep on that continuous educational wheel. Am I crazy? Am I just ignorant of something existing already out there? Or are there other people like me who realize we’re not placing enough importance on these things in our own life at the right frequency, and we really need to make this change? I’d love to hear what others think of this topic and how you handle it in your own life. Let’s make this one a big share everyone…

 

RECOMMENDED BLOGGER

  • Today’s 365 Daily Challenge recommended blogger to know is Valerie @ Valerie’s Musings. Valerie and I have been chatting for about 3 months. We first bonded over our love of cozy mystery fiction, sharing different authors and book series with one another. And when we read the same ones, we have so much fun chatting about the characters, settings and plots. We moved on to other genres and will be doing a buddy read later this month of “The Bear and the Nightingale.” But once we started chatting about general life musings between my 365 Daily Challenge posts and her focus on making positive changes in her life, we bonded over lots of great ideas and thoughts for the future. She is a very smart, friendly and open-minded woman who deserves great things in life. I look forward to her feedback and comments each week. And for those reasons, Valerie should be on your watch list, too. Go check out her site from the link above and poke around the site. Make the most out of her musings!

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Review: The House on Mango Street

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The House on Mango StreetBook Review
4 out of 5 stars to The House on Mango Street, a short series of vignettes published in 1984 and written by Sandra Cisneros. Picture it: Long Island, August 1995. 18-year-old college student receives a letter in the mail, revealing two books he must read prior to attending the freshmen orientation seminar on his first day of college later that month. Young kid says “They’re giving me work to do already? WT…” It went something like that. And it wasn’t that I didn’t want to read, and I was a good student, but seriously… I’m scared of going off to college and already being told to start doing some work. Can’t I have some break before I… never mind. So I read it. And wow, it’s fantastic. A short collection of stories about growing up in Chicago, learning how to live on your own (sort of). Meeting different people. Seeing other sides of life. Learning more than you thought was out there. Embracing change and culture.

Oh… I get it… that’s what’s about to happen to me! Wow… nice book. Thanks. So then I get to the orientation. And they want us to discuss it in a random group that was set up. So we get put in groups of 6. I’m with some weird-looking people. At 18, I looked about 12 still. For some reason, I got stuck with the other 18-year-olds who looked 28. I wanted to call them mom and dad. But I knew better. I kept my mouth shut. Sandra Cisneros has just taught me that. So… I’m very shy and don’t say a word. No one speaks. I realize I guess I must say something. So I said. “I liked it a lot.” Everyone nodded. I said something like “what did you think?”

I’ll save you the drama. None of them read it. I was the only one who did. How embarrassing for them! It was so good… but I played it cool and described the plot. It seemed to open up the conversation, but then we were asked to nominate a leader to step up to the stage and explain your group’s understanding of the book. Oh you know… vengeance… some day… payback…

My lesson. Don’t ever read a book again. JUST KIDDING! You must read this one. It’s a beautiful story and helps you embrace change and difference. And the characters are quite memorable and quirky. Quick read. Maybe 2 hours. You should definitely give it a chance.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews

Review: The Cereal Murders

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The Cereal Murders Book Review
3 of 5 stars to The Cereal Murders, the third book in the “Goldy Bear Culinary” mystery series, published in 1993 and written by Diane Mott Davidson. I’m a fan of this series, enjoying the charming antics of the cozy little town, the delicious-sounding recipes and the mystery fun each book includes. Another good installment in the series, it falls somewhere in the middle range of best and worst, nothing to extraordinary but nothing much of fault.

Focused on the intensity of college preparation, the students at Elk Prep, where Goldy’s son, Arch, goes to school, are preparing for college. Goldy’s sort of adopted son, Julian, is a senior there and is suddenly suspected when the school valedictorian is found murdered at a dinner. He wasn’t well liked, but Goldy discovers a web of secrets he was hiding. Then a teacher is murdered and Goldy’s starting to fear for her own life, especially when she’s uncovering more and more unexpected dirt. Her relationship with Tom Schultz moves forward as they investigate the case. The highlight: Julian. He’s always been my favorite character, and I admit, I might have a small crush on him. Ha!

Usual cozy fun. A few red herrings. A town connected underneath the surface. Marla looks out for Julian at some point. Even Arch is glad to be part of the process. Plus, who doesn’t love some cereal for a meal?

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews