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365 Challenge: Day 263 – Xenophile

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Xenophile: A person attracted to that which is foreign, especially to foreign peoples, manners or cultures

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I looked through the last 260+ words (yes, I’ve been at this for a while!) and found nothing that started with the letter ‘x’ in the list. Today’s word needed to start with an ‘x’ not because I missed using that letter or because I brilliantly discovered that I missed using it. I’m not that smart, but someone else is… and she happened to realize it a few weeks ago. So today’s post is dedicated to this brilliant woman — who also happens to be the same person I spoke about providing the word ‘dawdle’ a few days ago. She’s suggested a few more words, so keep your seat belts buckled, as it’s gonna be a few weeks of very cool choices. There were two other ‘x’ words I thought about using, but I admit I searched an online dictionary to verify I hadn’t missing anything obvious. There were about 50 words to choose from, mostly in the medical field. That wouldn’t work — no offense, but I’m not sure I’d do them justice. The other two options were ‘xerox’ and ‘xenophobia.’

If you’ve read a few past posts, you’ll know I love to travel and learn about other countries. It makes more sense for me to go with ‘xenophile’ as the 365 Daily Challenge word for today. I’ve always felt a strong connection to other countries, mostly from my heritage, but also the Latin American ones. I took Spanish as my second language in middle and high school, as well as 8 Spanish writing and literature courses in college. I could speak in fluently for many years, but not using it everyday has limited my proficiency. I adore culture and learning about different peoples and histories from all over the world. I celebrate the unique or distinct qualities we all share, and I’d rather experience the upside of knowing culture than the downside of being a xenophobe.

Life’s short, even if you life an entire century. The world changes so fast each day, there will always be something new and different. I choose to explore it, rather than run from it. What I know is clearly NOT the only acceptable way of existing or doing something; therefore, it’s my responsibility to learn as much as I can about everything around me. No, I’m not on a soapbox! I’m just expressing how I live my day. I won’t ever know it all, but if I’m lucky enough to be exposed to a few wonderful pieces of the world throughout my life, then it’s something too celebrate. I am a xenophile and I admit it!

What are you favorite words with an ‘x’ ?

What are you favorite parts of the world to visit ?

What culture do you come from ?

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. 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.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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365 Challenge: Day 231 – Historical (LIST: Fiction Genres )

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Historical: novel that takes place in the past (and I’m gonna leave it at that, you’ll see why later)

fiction

Sundays are LIST days and today is no different. For the next 5 Sundays, I will pick a favorite book genre and discuss all the reasons why I love it. We will kick off the week with ‘historical’ because I am most looking forward to reading one of those types of novels on my TBR shelf,  but I can’t seem to find time to get to it. I’m hoping this will push me over the edge, but we’ll get to which book that is in a little bit.

Historical fiction generally has a broad range of definitions, but there are also many people who are fierce loyalists as to the specific rules. Although we all agree the story must take place in the past, there are a few points potentially up for debate:

  • Is there an acceptable # of years that must have passed before the author can write about the time period?
    • Some think it is after an entire generation (about 20 to 25 years) has gone by.
    • Some believe if the novel takes place at least 50 years ago, it qualifies.
    • Some feel an entire lifetime (about 80 years) must have passed.
    • MY VIEW: I’m in the ’50’ year bucket as when I think of WWII stories, I consider those historical because they occurred before I was born. In order to be a lifetime, it would have to be before 1937 based on today’s date, which seems like it’s excluding a lot. A generation is too little; that’s just a slight adjustment in time periods.

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  • Does it need to be about a real person?
    • Some think it absolutely must include a real person who lived and breathed during that period in history, but contain some fictional events and characters.
    • Others think as long as the setting is historical, the character can be fully made up and not be connected to any other reality.
    • MY VIEW: I do not think the main character needs to be a real person; however, I do prefer the novel include some real-life characters to help the setting feel more realistic. It could be as little as discussions about current leaders or famous people within the book; potentially meeting or interacting with made-up characters, but when it’s strictly fully fictional, I’m not as impressed or excited.
  • Can it cross genres?
    • Many people believe it must not broaden into other genres, e.g. mystery, fantasy or science-fiction. To be true historical, it has to be strictly general fiction.
    • Others are open-minded and refer to it as a historical “sci-fi” or “mystery” novel. Yikes, what do we call a young adult mystery with fantasy elements set in a historical period?
    • MY VIEW: I think we have to leave rooms for other genres, but as sub-genre categories. It all starts with the initial high-level category, then breaks down. I don’t think we all agree with the main categories either, which makes it harder. For instance, are Adult, Contemporary or General part of the first level of categorization, and are they ultimately the same thing?
      • So… I’d say, first I’d categorize a fiction book by it’s time period, either historical, contemporary or future.
      • Then I’d add in the age, either children’s, young adult or adult.
      • Then I’d get into things like fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, thriller, romance, etc.

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Now that we know all the options [and if I’ve missed any key points, please feel free to share]… let’s chat about why I love historical fiction:

  • I’m a history buff, so I enjoy being transported back to a time period where I have some knowledge or information.
  • I live in the current century, which means sometimes I need something different to distract me from what’s going on around me. I’m not a huge futuristic type guy, and I get tired of ‘technology’ solving all our problems and issues (meaning things being done the old-fashioned way are often more interesting to me).
  • I love making up stories about people that might have been true and might have had some connection to reality. The research aspects of what’s real and not-real amaze and interest me.
  • Reading or seeing the settings from the words the author chooses help ignite my literary passions. When it’s a world I wasn’t part of, it’s even more fantastic.

 

What are my favorite reads?

What’s next on my list in this genre?

 

How about you? Any favorites or recommendations? Do you not like this genre? Time to share!

————————————————————-

Sunday posts, the end of each week, have become a theme on This-Is-My-Truth-Now, often 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. Past weeks included:

  • 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
  • Weeks 21 – 25: Jobs I’ve held
  • Weeks 26 – 30: Top 10 entertainment options
  • Week 31: How to follow or contact me across all social media platforms
  • Week 32: How to help an artist with promotion

 

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.

 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

TAG: Anything But Books

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I was tagged in a really fun tag by Patty at MoohnshinesCorner. We met a few months ago and have had a great time getting to know one another on our WordPress blogs. She has fun content on books and on many other topics — and super friendly. Go visit!

Well, the tag is exactly as it sounds – it’s a really wonderful way for those in the blogging community to get to know one another. It’s also great for readers of book blogs to get to know the bloggers more! I hope you enjoy!

Note: The image used for the Feature Image is not my creation! It belongs to another blogger. I heard it’s sourced back to The Girl Who Read Too Much book blog. Go check it out and follow her. I did earlier today and found it to be a really fun site.

One. Name a cartoon that you love 

I loved The Jetsons. Something about futuristic family issues with a lovable dog.

 

Two. What is your favorite song right now? 

Twenty One Pilots “Heathens” has gotten inside my brain… and the tone of the voice and the background sounds is just so calming and intense at the same time.

Three. What could you do for hours that isn’t reading?

Write. I’ve never had writer’s block. Words just flow from my mind and imagination.

Watch TV.

Sit and Do Nothing.

 

Four. What is something that you love to do that your followers would be surprised by?

Genealogy? I’ve traced my family back over 200 years…

Volleyball. I don’t get to play often tho.

Cook. I won’t follow recipes. I always change it or do my own thing.

 

Five. What is your favorite unnecessarily specific thing to learn about?

History. Love any kind of history and getting familiar with places and people I don’t know much about.

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Six. What is something unusual that you know how to do?

Play Mahjong?

mahjong.jpg

 

Seven. Name something you made in the last year and show us if you can.

Dark Chocolate Tort with Raspberries

cake

 

Eight. What is your most recent personal project?

Either this blog or the novel I wrote. The novel is here.

 

Nine. Tell us something that you think about often?

I spend way too much thinking about how to organize my time. How do I get the most done in the least amount of time? If I have 3 hours of free time, do I read, blog, review or write. Help! Can’t decide….

 

Ten. Give us something that is your favorite.

I tend not to have favorites… except with foods and drinks….

 

 

Eleven. Say the first thing that pops into your head.

It’s 10:45 and I’m still sitting on my ass on the couch. I need to get to the gym. Now.

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TAG

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed! Tag! You’re it!

I chose the last 5 people I chatted with on my WordPress blog (except the person who tagged me and Nel… because we chat all day long and she can do any tag she likes!)

 

About Me

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. Once you hit my site “ThisIsMyTruthNow” at https://thisismytruthnow.com, you can join the fun and see my blog and various site content. You’ll find book reviews, published and in-progress fiction, TV/Film reviews, favorite vacation spots and my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge.” 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… see how you compare! Each month, I will post a summary of a trip I’ve taken somewhere in the world. I’ll cover the transportation, hotel, restaurants, activities, who, what, when, where and why… and let you decide for yourself if it’s a trip worth taking.

Feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Tell me what you think.

Review: Peony in Love

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Peony in LoveMy rating: 3 of 5 stars to Lisa See‘s Peony in Love, a historical fiction book released in 2007 by Random House set in 17th century China.

Why This Book
I found it sitting on a bookshelf in my condo’s laundry room. I read the jacket description, which sounded like a beautiful tale of love, emotions and a little bit of history. I brought it home with me that afternoon, knowing it would come in handy. And when I finished up a few ARCs, I needed a different kind of book; I saw this on my own shelf, which reminded me it was time to try something a few years old. I picked it up and began reading last week. It took longer than usual, but I’ll explain why later.

Overview of Story
The Peony Pavilion is a play that the character of Peony has read many times. When her father, of some wealth in 17th century China, puts on a showing of the famous play on his estate, 15-year old Peony is excited. But it’s when she sees a boy for the first time, she cannot control her thoughts. Unfortunately, she’s already paired off in an arranged marriage with a boy from another family, as well as the fact that as a girl, she’s not even allowed to be seen with any males other than those in her own family.

The book follows the story line of the play, which seems to be spilling over into Peony’s life. When she begins unknowingly starving herself, Peony dies and enters the afterworld on her own. She’s unprepared to deal with the consequences and is remorseful that she never found love. She soon sees the boy she fell in love with in a dream, learning he was the man her father had arranged in the marriage. She longs for him but cannot have him, as she is dead and he is very much alive.

Soon, her family members begin dying and join her in the afterworld. The boy moves on and gets married. Peony inserts herself to their life from the great beyond, leading to unfortunate circumstances for all involved. As she meanders her journey, Peony learns what is needed for her to move beyond the “waiting place” and into her new existence as no longer alive.

Approach & Style
1. The book is centered around a play within the book which mirrors the main character’s life. At times, it’s a little difficult to tell which is real life and which is the play.

2. The language is very ethereal, flowery and imaginative. This is less about plot and more about the beauty of Chinese beliefs about what women are allowed to do, what happens in death, and how to live one’s life.

Strengths
1. The love story is a strong one. You see and feel the poetry in the words and the relationships.

2. It’s very descriptive of life in a warrior state in 17th century China. I learned a lot of history that I wasn’t privy to beforehand.

3. You see everything thru Peony’s eyes, which helps create a very strong world and point of view.

Open Questions & Concerns
I am shocked at what Chinese women were put thru… between the sacrifices women made for men, the binding of feet and the cultural expectations and limitations. It was very upsetting. I understand these were customs for hundreds of years, with deep-rooted beliefs… some are just awful from today’s standards. Even awful back then.

Author & Other Similar Books
This is the first book about Chinese customs and history that I’ve read. I’m not sure what I could compare it to…. perhaps Memoirs of a Geisha, although it’s a different country and belief system.

Final Thoughts
This was a very tough read. I started it ten days ago and read 20 pages. I tried a few times, but couldn’t get into it. I forced myself to read 150 pages last night and then the remaining 100 today. It got better, but it wasn’t a positive read for me; however, I recognize the beauty in the story, characters, imagery and setting. It’s one of those books where I didn’t like it a lot, but I know it’s a good book.

I wish I had more knowledge of Chinese history and customs. Unfortunately, much of what happens in the book and how it’s described went over my head. I didn’t agree with how people felt or were treated. I didn’t know why there was so much of a belief in ghosts with a vengeance. I couldn’t get into religious and spiritual connections that were unfamiliar. And when I was getting close, I felt angry over how awfully these women were treated.

That said, I believe I would have liked this a lot more if I had a stronger background in the topics. The writing is good. The story is pretty. It’s just a weak connection for me because I was unfamiliar with the core practices, history and belief systems. But for the right reader, it will probably be a good 3 to 4 rated book. For me, it was about a 2.5, and I rounded up to a 3 to be fair.

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

Review: Angels & Demons

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Angels & Demons Review
4+ out of 5 stars to Dan Brown‘s Angels & Demons, the first book in his “Robert Langdon” thriller series. When I saw the movie trailer for The Da Vinci Code, I was hooked and immediately bought the book so I could read it first. When I got home, I realized it was not the first in the series…

I refused to read it… and then I went to the store and got the first one, Angels & Demons, so I could read them in order. And while it’s not really necessary, I always follow the order (unless I have an ARC with a due date on a newer book and no time to get to the whole series). So I started Angels & Demons, and I was was simply blown away.

Not everyone loves Dan Brown, and people aren’t always kind, but man… I LOVE HIS BOOKS! And I’m not afraid to say it… so if you don’t like them… don’t be hating on this review because I will

On a more serious note, the climax with each of the murders, the deep connections to so many Catholic rituals and ceremonies, the brilliance of the chase… it just left me unable to stop reading it. It’s exactly the kind of book I like to read:

1. Has some connection to me — I’m Catholic and knew most of the stuff they were talking about

2. I love reading about murder — since I won’t do it in real life, I have to get my thrills somehow

3. Secrets are the best thing in the world — I have so many about others, but I never let anyone have one about me

4. Classic battle of good versus evil — This is my life. Should I be good or bad today? Ugh… Sophie’s catch #22…

5. It’s non-stop thought-provoking messages and themes — How much control and time do we really have right now?

Oh, that’s the spot baby!

And with that said… if you want a real review with details about the story, go find someone else’s! Today was all about just being excited to think about the book again. Now that said, I thought Da Vinci Code was a slight bit better, hence the 4 here.

Ciao! I’ve got some branding to do…

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

Review: The Rose Labyrinth

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The Rose Labyrinth3+ of 5 stars to Titania Hardie‘s novel, The Rose Labyrinth. Few have heard of the author or this book, but when I stumbled upon it in the book store, I had to give it a chance for a few reasons:

1. It was a book within a book. It’s a normal hardcover book, but in the front cover, there is a second book, a journal of sorts. In the real book, the main character uses a journal and a puzzle to decode the secrets from 400 years ago. And as readers, we get a copy of this journal, so along the way, we can try to figure it out, too. It sounds like a great concept, perhaps a bit of a gimmick. I didn’t find it particularly useful, and it probably caused too much of an increase in production costs.

2. It told the story both in current time and in the historical Elizabethan period. I love those types of mysteries, where we learn, as the character learns, how they fit into this whole puzzle.

3. I’d been itching to try a little bit of a romance book, just to see if I would find it at all interesting. And in this one, the main character’s story is about her own health issues and her subsequent falling in love with another. Eh… a few plot issues and mechanical (?) issues given she had surgery and well… didn’t seem like it would all work out that quickly. But who am I to judge?

4. I love the author’s name. I will check out another of her books to see how those compare. But I’m not in any rush.

Overall, I liked the book; however, it didn’t live up to my hope given the notes above. I imagine it is only in print, given the journal that comes with it, but that might be something to look into, if you’re interested.

I think the story is good, but there are other comparable stories. It’s a cross between Kate Morton and Dan Brown. But it isn’t as good as either of them, so… just do some review reading before you decide to take this one on. It may or may not be a fit.

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

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.