july ultimate blog challenge

Life Happens!

Life Happens!

The July Ultimate Blog Challenge has been and gone, and August has arrived. My plan to post thirty-one new blog posts in July ended with just twenty-four – I fell short by seven. Some could argue that I failed, but I don’t see it that way. Why did I not achieve my goal? Because life happens!

Since July has come and gone, days are warmer, nights are shorter, and life is slipping back to a normal pace – not that I really know what normal is.

Should I Lurk in the Shadows?

In the words of John Lennon – “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. Meetings; friends; coffee catch-ups; lunch catch-ups; paperwork; and sleep – although the sleep department was seriously short-changed throughout July. They all happened – and I participated – to the best of my ability.

When life happens, I need to be up close and personal and engage with it. Only then can I describe what it feels like. To blog – I need content, and to have content – I need to take life by the horns and wrestle it to the ground. Standing safely in the shadows, watching as life happens around me, just won’t cut it.

It’s About the People

While grappling with life in July, I met people who have a lot to say about – life; history; politics; philosophy; adventures; and everything else. Each story has helped me understand a little more about people, human nature, and the world I live in.

Through my blog, I hope to tell the story of the amazing people I know: some have journeyed with me for a long time; others, not so long; and some are strangers who take the time to connect – even if just for a short while. My life has been enriched because of them, and because of their story.

Everyone has a story, because life happens!

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Writing, 0 comments
Day 23 – UBC – Can You Ever Have Too Many Photos?

Day 23 – UBC – Can You Ever Have Too Many Photos?

Is twenty-thousand photos, too many? No matter how many photos I have on my i-devices (I have over 20,000 photos), I often struggle to find the one photo I need for a Blog. But miraculously, today I found a solution. There is a website called Pixabay that has thousands of photos that can be used at no cost, and without the need to attribute the photographer who uploaded the photo. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to acknowledge the photographer, if I could figure out how to do it properly. It isn’t always easy. But now, with Pixabay at my fingertips, I should be able to find a photo or image to match any topic I’m writing about.

More Photos Than You Will Ever Need!

While looking for something on the Weekend Notes website, I stumbled across a comment a writer had made about using images in reviews. The writer had posted a few favourite websites featuring Copyright free photos, and asked other writers to suggest their favourites. Pixabay was one of the recommendations, and somehow the name stuck in my head, like a non-musical earworm. When I checked out the website, I couldn’t believe my luck. There are thousands of photos that can be freely used, even for commercial purposes!

A little bit of searching on the Pixabay site led me to a Pixabay Plugin for WordPress websites. I couldn’t install and activate the plugin fast enough. And I’m about to test it by uploading a photo to this section of my blog.


ROverhate / Pixabay

Wow! That couldn’t have been easier. Where was Pixabay when I wrote a blog about ants recently? This is exactly the image I was looking for.

What I love about using Pixabay images, is that the appropriate acknowledgement is built into the photo.

And with the plugin, there’s a neat button next to the ‘Add Media’ button on my WordPress website that takes me straight to the photos. I don’t have to download the photo into my Photo App, and then upload it to my website. Pixabay takes care of it with just one click.

Now, that’s smart!

So what is the one thing I can’t do without right now?

My new-found Photo friend, Pixabay.

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 4 comments
July Ultimate Blog Challenge – Day 2

July Ultimate Blog Challenge – Day 2

The Ultimate Blog Challenge is in full swing and I’m loving it! It is only Day 2 and already I’ve fixed a major problem on my website – a problem that I didn’t even know existed. I was wondering why I wasn’t getting any feedback on my Blogs prior to the Blog Challenge. If you want to get comments, you have to have a Comments button that is easy to use. And that’s what makes the Challenge so valuable; fellow-bloggers tried to leave comments on my blog. For some, it was easy – they had a WordPress (WP) account and could sign in and leave a comment. But for those who didn’t have a WP account, and didn’t want one, the process was flawed. Because of the valuable feedback, I was able to fix the problem.

Why Would Anyone Want to do the Ultimate Blog Challenge!?

For me, it was an easy decision. I love a challenge, and I wanted to flex my creative muscles. Writing a blog about a given topic is a good way to test my creative mettle. When I write about topics of interest, I already have the information I need, based on an experience, place or memory. I only have to gather the photos, and write about them. The text grows, and before long, I have published another blog.

When I’m given a topic and have to conform to it, my thinking and creative muscles are stretched. I liken it to the effect of physical activity on the body – the more we stretch – the more agile and flexible we become. The effect of stretching the mind is the same; thinking out of our thought comfort-zones provides the mental workout we need to extend our learning. The Ultimate Blog Challenge provides the opportunity to gain intensified learning, and I’m excited about the possible outcomes from engaging in the challenge for July.

Day 2 Challenge

Rather than a formal topic, Day 2 is about letting people know why we do what we do. For some people, it’s all about a product or service that fills their niche or market. My blog-existence is a lot more personal.  There is no product or service – I just blog.

When I retired from teaching a little over two years ago, I needed something to fill the void. While teaching, I loved learning – from my students; from their parents; from my colleagues; from the people I networked with; from presenters at conferences. It was all about learning, and it was where I was happiest. That all slipped away from the day of retirement, and I was left wondering what a future without learning would look like. So, learning had to be a central point in my post-career life, and I had to figure out what I was passionate about, apart from teaching.

If you love what you do, it isn’t work!

Initially, I thought my learning journey would be all about websites, but I quickly discovered that writing was going to feature heavily in my web-presence. You can’t just have an empty website. Yes, you can have a page full of photos, but unless you are a very accomplished photographer, and I’m not, you need to explain the photos you post. And in explaining my travel photos – I wrote!

Writing creatively didn’t come easy. Years of report writing had taken their toll and my creative instincts had been held hostage in the process. At first it was a struggle, but I pushed on, regardless. At some point there was a cross over, from the hard-core, no-nonsense – just give me the facts – writing, to the creative – let’s have a bit of fun – writing. The more I wrote, the more my creative reflexes limbered up, until I was able to put together some half-decent travel tales. You could say I fell into my niche, the place where I’m happiest, rather than landing there through any conscious intent.

The Training Ground

When my creative muscles are up to it, I’m going to write a book. Like everything else in my life, I know it will just evolve. But the key element right now, is completing the Ultimate Blog Challenge in July. Practicing writing from a given topic is stretching my mental reflexes in preparation for conjuring up bigger ideas, on a much larger scale. Day 2 of the July Ultimate Blog Challenge is one of the stepping stones on the path to my ultimate destination.

Have I found my niche?

I hope so! Maybe I’ll have a definite answer at the end of July, so be sure to ask me.

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 0 comments
July Ultimate Blog Challenge – Day One

July Ultimate Blog Challenge – Day One

This might not be a good start to the July Ultimate Blog Challenge! Am I doomed before I even start? I spent ages writing a blog post to prepare the few faithful followers of my blogs for what was about to happen. I announced that I was embarking on the challenge, explained how it had come about, and launched into a lengthy dialogue about the website for my blog. And just for good measure, I posted the blog on my website yesterday, which was the 30th June, in my neck of the universal woods. The topic for Day One is out now, and I’m doomed.

Let me go back a step. One of the major rules of the Blog Challenge is that you have to post a new blog ‘on the day’, not submit a link to something you posted earlier.

Why is this such a major catastrophe? I have been waiting anxiously all day, the first day of July here in Australia, for the Blog Challenge to begin. Because of the time difference between Northern and Southern Hemispheres, the Challenge only officially started a few hours ago.

Can you guess what the challenge for today is?

Tell your readers about the July Ultimate Blog Challenge and why you are doing it!

I’ve already done that! I posted it yesterday! That means I can’t post it again as the first blog of the challenge.

Disaster! Chaos! Heck!!!

Wait a minute. This is a challenge, right? And a challenge isn’t meant to be easy. Hmmm; that puts it into perspective.

I can do this. I have already told everyone about the Challenge, so now all I have to do is post these humble thoughts about how challenging the challenge is. Simple!

Okay, I’ve got this. This is my post for Day One of the July Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Oh, and another rule is that I can’t do the automatic post to my Facebook page, like I usually do, so you’ll need to check back on my page each day to find the post. Or, you could subscribe to my posts on the form below, then you will get an email to tell you when I’ve posted a new challenge. Either way will work.


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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 10 comments