future

Book Review: The Proximity of Stars by Benedict Stuart

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The Proximity of StarsThe Proximity of Stars by Benedict Stuart
The Proximity of Stars by Benedict Stuart is a science-fiction novel that pushes readers to think about alliances, friendships, family, and loss. I’d come across this book via Goodreads when I saw the author’s comments on other books, then decided to add it to my TBR. I’m not normally a reader in this genre, so it’s often a new experience for me when I do take one on. I’m glad I had a chance to read this one, as it’s less about sci-fi on several levels and more about relationships. Of course, there’s the necessary alien, technology, and futuristic stuff, but I never felt overwhelmed.

Sometimes funny, sometimes telling a moral, this story has lots of angles and things to consider. I enjoyed the writing style, including the times when it almost poked a bit of fun at the traditional path of aliens invading the Earth. Sometimes people are at war on their own planet, and at others, they move to the moon! When the author revealed the intricate connections between the different ‘sides’ and killed off a few beloved folks fairly soon in the story… I knew it would be different. I look forward to more from the author in the future.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also 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. 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. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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365 Challenge: Day 167 – Destiny

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Destiny: the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future; the hidden power believed to control what will happen in the future; fate

estiny

Destiny and fate. Two words that often come up in conversation with friends when you are thinking about the future. Maybe you’re drunk and pondering the purpose of life. Perhaps a child has just asked you about it and you wonder how to respond. Or you wake up screaming from a nightmare wondering what will happen in your future. Curiosity whether someone greater than us is controlling all the movements or it’s fully a free will situation. Today’s 365 Daily Challenge word is not about religious beliefs, nor whether or not evolution has an impact. It’s about whether or not you believe in the concept of destiny. I felt like it was something to share with all my online friends… curious what everyone believes for a couple of reasons I’ll mention a bit later.

Destiny is often mistaken for an extreme wish that something will happen. I want to be a writer, I was destined to be a writer. I’m not sure if that’s true. I know that’s what I’ve wanted to do for as long and as far back as I remember. But whether that’s what was meant to be is definitely not a concept I truly understand.

What about two people whose paths cross several times without realizing it before they are finally introduced and fall in love. Were they meant to be together or did it just happen that way because they live in close proximity?

We all make choices in our lives, constantly changing the path and the direction we follow. Is destiny navigating behind the scenes or are we just making decisions as they are presented to us with whatever knowledge we’ve amassed up until that moment?

I would totally say something wrong like this!

Quite a philosophical post today. Not a long one either. Just something to get us thinking over the weekend… why do we do the things we do? how much control do we have over what happens around us? do we believe in fate or destiny? Or even more introspectively… do we want to believe in destiny?

I would like to think that I have some control over my path and my decisions. And I think I do. I am fine living in NYC but if W said tomorrow let’s move to California, I’d be fine with that, too. And if I decided to give North Carolina a chance after that, I’d be fine. If I am good living in all those places, where does destiny fit in? Is it controlled by your surroundings, e.g. the place you live? If so, does that then limit the people you interact with who can be part of your life? Or the jobs you can hold? Or the activities you engage in?

So many questions involved to try and understand whether destiny controls us in the background. It really makes you realize that with so many potential combinations of how things come together, it’s actually infinite. And if something is infinite, can there really be any control over the outcome? So… before any of us get caught up in trying to solve this little dilemma, maybe I should keep myself on a bit of a straighter path with the point of this post.

While I often encounter this conundrum in my own life and brain, it was on mind this week not because of me… but because of a character in my book. She’s been through a lot. And as I decide the ending to the character’s story and the novel, I find myself asking on her behalf if the following statement is true:

Destiny. Do you believe in it? I’ve love to hear everyone’s opinions. Thanks in advance for sharing.

 

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 97 – Far-Away

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Far-Away: distant from others, as in space or time

In yesterday’s 365 Daily Challenge, there were two definitions for the word distant, but I only covered the first one, meaning reserved or cool; not intimate. Today, we shall explore what I intended in the second meaning of “distant,” relative to being far away from our family and friends, due to either distance or time.

far awy

Life is full of change. People come in and out at different points, usually depending on the circumstances surrounding both of your lives. There’s an old expression that says something along the lines of “You can’t change your family. They’re blood relations.” While we could play word games all day and explore family by marriage or adoption, I’m not looking to find all the hidden meanings in these words. But what I do want to discuss is how important a role family plays in your life. A little background:

As I’ve posted before, I am an only-child, but both of my parents have a bunch of siblings who all grew up on Long Island. I have around 15 first cousins whom I essentially grew up with, each living somewhere between 2 minutes and 20 minutes away from me. Perhaps a story for another day, but I wasn’t aware of 2 of the cousins until my grandfather passed away when I was in high school. I met them for the first time at his funeral, not ever knowing they lived in the same town and I went to high school with one of them. {Aside: Not for nothing, but what if I ended up dating one of them without our families knowing… how crazy would that be!} Nonetheless, apart from that one set of relatives, I saw my family nearly every weekend.

We’d have dinners during the week, holiday parties, summer barbecues, impromptu visits and regular play dates. We were all very close, as my parents were close with their siblings for most of their lives. Over the years, for various circumstances, the family has grown further apart. One aunt passed away, but we still see my uncle and cousins. They are the only ones to remain on Long Island with one other exception. The rest have all moved away to Florida or Pennsylvania. My generation, all the cousins, have scattered even further. We’ve moved to the west coast, all over the country and even to Asia and Eastern Europe. Scattered. The family has scattered. Throughout those years, I’ve been both close and distant with each of my cousins, sometimes dependent on our ages and at others where we lived.

You’re thinking… Captain Obvious again, Jay. Sometimes we’re close, sometimes we’re not. True. But my question is… when it’s family, should we make more of an effort? I love them all. I like them all. Some I probably wouldn’t be friends with if they weren’t relatives. Some I probably would be close with even if we weren’t related. As the 15 of us are now all between 25 and 43, we are the generation having children and beginning to think about the future of our family. We try to keep up with texting and social media, sometimes calls and the occasional visit or get-together. But it’s nothing like we did as children with our parents and grandparents. In one way, it’s sad. In another, it’s an exciting challenge, meaning, as we each see the world, we can grow and expand the knowledge of our family.

But are the days of the close-knit family essentially gone? Is this circumstantial to just my family (and people like us)? Is it due to most of us wanting to get off of Long Island? {Aside: It’s a beautiful place, but very congested and hard to travel anywhere. Minimum 2 hours to get outside of the island and beyond NYC, which makes weekend trips a bit difficult} Is it generational with those of us born from 1975 through current days? Or is it that we are too selfish to purposely keep the family connections intact and intimate?

For me, it’s a bit of a pattern. I had a group of grammar school friends, but I don’t see them anymore. We’ll occasionally exchange a message on Facebook or Instagram, but it’s rare — even with my best friend who lived next door. We spent every day together for 18 years, then every summer together during college years. But nearly 20 years later, it’s quite different. Same with my high school and college friends. We grow further and further apart. I’ve got a small group of close friends that my partner and I see frequently, and there is a lot of substance there, but none have known me for decades like some of my former oldest friends… or my family.

Is this how life is, e.g. transient in the sense you pick up and move, find new friends and go on? Technology makes it easier and harder to stay connected. When you have a smart phone, you can see what everyone is doing. Yet at the same time, you’re less inclined to physically get together. While I’m not upset or depressed by everything I’ve just said, I am curious how this plays out for the next 40 years of my life (or more… since I might just live forever). If my partner and I move outside of NY, will we need to start over and find new friends to regularly see in person? Will I grow further apart from family? We don’t have children now, and probably won’t in the future (never really finished that conversation), what happens to us when we’re in our 60s and 70s… are we the great uncles to our cousins and his siblings kids that randomly visit from time to time?

I’m just thinking aloud. I’m a very happy person, so these are just questions that I ponder. How about you? What relationships do you have with your family today? And how do you see that changing in your future? And your friends? Let’s be honest… we say we will stay connected forever… and at 20, I believed it. At 40, I see reality. Or is it just my perception? Let’s get to the root of this… I look forward to hearing from everyone.

 

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 43 – Mentor

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Mentor: an experienced and trusted adviser, to advise or train someone

A few interesting thoughts occurred to me as I sat to draft today’s 365 Daily Challenge. One, I awoke thinking about something entirely different from the daily characteristic. Two, how many traits are there to describe oneself without being redundant, repetitive or superfluous. Ha, aren’t I funny?

Three, it doesn’t have to always be a characteristic, i.e. it could be a noun that offers certain images or feelings which I’m ultimately trying to represent. And so today, I will veer a little bit and offer up a word that means a lot to me. And perhaps it will be a useful mechanism in the future for these daily posts. I have at least a dozen other traits in mind, but some I’m saving for a certain day or time period.

Back to the word “mentor.” I wrote a post about being a mentor on my professional website (https://jamescudney4.com/the-6-key-elements/mentor/), where I keep pertinent information for anyone who may stumble upon me and consider me for a consulting position. It very much applies to today’s post. That said, in this post, I will try not to duplicate what I’ve already noted, but instead indicate why being a mentor is something I already am on some levels, as well as something I would like to expand and showcase in the future.

What I admire about a mentor is his/her genuine interest in sharing the knowledge gained to those in an inner circle. To me, there is a difference between a mentor and a coach, friend, adviser, boss, et al. A mentor, usually long-term, is (1) someone who has amassed an expansive amount of knowledge and experience in certain areas that demonstrate (s)he is qualified to be a mentor and (2) someone who develops intimate relationships and bonds with the individuals being mentored above and beyond a brief exchange of advice.

A mentor is someone you can talk to who has a well-rounded amount of knowledge about you, too. I wouldn’t classify it a mentor relationship when you’re reading someone’s books or attending their seminar to improve your own skills. It’s not having a conversation with your boss about the next step in your career. It’s not feedback from a more established writer to help you get your focus back on a specific chapter or task when they don’t know anything about your work. It’s about continuous conversation, outside of normal “work-related” activities, where you engage in introspective and enlightening discussions about the topic you are being mentored in and decide on a path together, that seems logical, and focused on your future.

An adviser can tell you about things you need to consider for next steps, but that seems more temporary to me. What I like about the mentor relationship is that it seems more permanent. Sometimes life-long, sometimes only a few years; it all depends on circumstances, need and location. The key is a solid foundation, commitment and depth of connection between the two people involved. Both need to want it to work and not in a fleeting manner. It’s picking up a phone and talking about where you are today and where you want to be in 3 months, 3 years or 3 decades. And then reflecting in that future period how it turned out.

I’ve been privileged to have two true mentors in my lifetime thus far. Both came through my professional career in technology. I still consider myself friends with both, even though our lives are more separate now. I often pick up the phone and chat when I want to discuss something important about me, my choices, my decisions, my options, et al. It’s not like calling a friend and asking for advice, although we also do have that kind of a relationship. But when the format is as a mentor, it’s very clear and distinct from casual friendly conversation about “how was the trip,” “what’s new with the family,” “did you see that play?”

I hope to be a mentor one day. I’ve had the beginnings of this develop with a few people, but not enough that I would call myself a true mentor – yet! I’m on that road tho, as it is part of a cycle where I’ve been blessed with the relationship and want to give back in the same way. It also makes me feel better than most anything else in normal, every day life. To know that I can share common thoughts, goals and dreams with someone else, watch the growth and changes, and see the end results is a very rewarding experience.

NO – NOT LIKE THIS EXAMPLE!!!

I read a post last week about being a mentor, and it reminded me I haven’t been focusing on this as much as I should be. Thank you to that blogger (you know who you are if you are reading this!) for the reminder. You’ve put a spindle back up on the stairway guiding me on this journey. And what I should be focusing on is finding a mentor to help me with deciding my next steps as well as ensuring those around me know I’m open to helping someone else in the same way. Now to figure out what it is I’d be good at…

And while I’m working on both of those options… how about you? Any good examples of a mentor relationship you’d like to share?  How does it make you feel when you’ve been successful? Or even when you haven’t been?

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and 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.

365 Challenge: Day 35 – Genealogist

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Genealogist: One who is actively engaged in the study or investigation of ancestry and family histories

We’ve made it through another week and on this fifth Sunday, it’s time to wrap up the first month’s focus on my genealogical heritage. See below for a picture of my Ancestry DNA results.

genealogy

In the last four weeks, I selected the 4 countries where I believe my ancestors hailed from, as well as picked the top stereotypical traits people assumed about the people from those places. A quick summary:

  1. Irish: 20%
  2. English: 33%
  3. German: 33% (Includes the Scandinavian as some of relatives were on the border)
  4. Scottish: 13%
  5. Other: 1% (West Asian – I think everyone gets that!)

While the DNA results and the documentation have a 10% disconnect, it’s a very clear picture of who my people were and where I came from.

Why do I study my genealogy? Take a look at this post on my professional website. It will give you some insight into my historical nature and great big quest for the past.

I often wonder why I’m so persistent on it… do I doubt who I am? Do I need more details about where I came from? Is it trying to understand how it all began?

Ultimately, this interest goes back to more than just people… it’s how did the USA begin. What happened to the dinosaurs? What were the original continents like? How did Earth form? What other galaxies are there? It’s more than being curious. It’s more than dedication or obsession. When I’m researching a family member on my laptop, tons of windows open to compare and contrast records, and I stumble upon a find… my eyes light up, I can’t sit still and my fingers can’t keep up with my mind. The discovery is brilliant and I’m ecstatic.

I’m a linear person. I like to start at the beginning. I have to read the first book in a series. I prefer straight lines. I like to create project plans with a starting point and an ending point. I love watching time pass on a clock, counting down to the re-start of the 60 segment process.

I believe it’s the same orderly structure that drives me to research my roots. I like seeing things improve, gain strength, drive forward. Adding more knowledge with each successive chain or generation. I’m sociological, I suppose.

Seeing a family tree, learning how people survived, how they met… what types of jobs and families they had. What made them move? These are all details I enjoy searching for across the internet.

Can you imagine watching from the sidelines as your ancestors moved through their lives? What if we had a time machine and could go back not to change the past, but to watch it unfold on warp speed? Quick enough not to see the tedious things, but slow enough to watch how each generation changed. To see your 4 times grandparents meet on a boat and decide to marry within days. To know your 6 times great-grandmother suffered so many miscarriages due to the poor conditions of medicine and health, but then she finally gave birth to your 5 times great-grandfather. To know how wars impacted your family. To recognize who touched royalty at some point.

It’s not unlike my interest in mystery fiction. Investigation. Detection. Research. As I draft each of these posts, hitting number 35 today, several themes are starting to appear. I’ve always known about them on a smaller scale, but the picture is becoming more clear.

So now I throw it out there… where do I go next?

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and 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.