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Best of 2009 Challenge: Catch-up 2

Finally, I’m posting the remainder of the days I needed to catch up on. Here are December 7th through 12th from the blog challenge prompts….



Blog find of the year. That gem of a blog you can’t believe you didn’t know about until this year.

In 2009, I discovered a number of great blogs, so I can’t really single out one particular one over the others. There are two though that I visit very regularly these days and really enjoy. Those are, Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen and Procrastinating Writer.

Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen is a recipe blog for vegans (and those who love veg food). Lots of low-fat and lower calorie recipes are posted each week by author/cook Susan. A great resource for those wanting to eat well, but watch the calories (I still count calories to this day).

Procrastinating Writers is a blog for writers, especially those who tend to veer off track and allow their mind to wander into other things instead of that blank paper sitting in front of them (or blank screen as the case may be). Great motivating and inspirational info posted all the time here, I especially enjoyed the site during NaNoWriMo, which is when I discovered it.

Moment of peace. An hour or a day or a week of solitude. What was the quality of your breath? The state of your mind? How did you get there?

Ah yes, I look forward to this each and every week. My moment of solitude takes place on Sundays. This is the one day of the week where I can sleep in, with no worries of having to be any place at a particular designated time or worrying about that pesky alarm clock buzzing me awake. Sundays are my day of rest both mentally and physically.

Mentally, I allow myself to relax at that time and let all the worries of the previous days and of those upcoming to drift away, as though they were aboard a canoe in calm waters. Ideally, my surroundings during this time are calm and positive. Of course, for now, this means that my real “me time” or “moment of peace” takes place out of the home. Maybe in 2010, this will change once I am back in my own place.

Physically, I work out my body. This means I go out for long walk/runs allowing myself to not only get in some cardio exercise, but to breath in the outdoors. There is nothing like being outside on a beautiful sunny day, just taking it all in. I love how it makes me feel, relaxed.

Challenge. Something that really made you grow this year. That made you go to your edge and then some. What made it the best challenge of the year for you?

My challenge of 2009 was to be back in a place that I never planned to be back to, and survive. As silly as that sounds, that was sort of the big challenge for me. Of course, entering the year 2009 as an unemployed individual, was a challenge in and of itself. I had never not been employed, at least not since I was in high school. That situation, along with having to move back home with my parents was my challenge. I was grateful that they were and are there for me when I need them, but moving back home after being out on your own is not the same. Things are quite different when you come back and are your own person. Nothing seems or is quite the same at home. While I never felt unwelcome, I have gone through my share of unhappy and uncomfortable moments being back this year. I went from optimistic job seeker and thinking all would be great soon, to depressed and not caring about anything…then, back to happy again. A mental and emotional ride of an adventure (if you can call it that J ).

In the end though, I feel as though it has been a learning experience for me. I have learned a lot, and while I love my family to pieces, I cannot wait to be back living on my own in 2010 back in my favorite place, Asheville.

Album of the year. What’s rocking your world?

Pearl Jam’s new album, Backspacer is probably my favorite of the year. It is the only full album I paid for a download of on iTunes in 2009. Other artists I have enjoyed, but not their entire album. It’s a great album full of music you can listen to in the car while you drive, or is great for adding to your workout mix. I have added a number of the album’s songs to my walk/run mixes.

The best place. A coffee shop? A pub? A retreat center? A cubicle? A nook?

People have these? Ha, seriously, I don’t really have one best or favorite place. If the location is serene and allows me to sit and write, I am usually happy and content with it. That might be a coffee shop, or a bookstore for me. Also, I enjoy places that I can photograph and feel my creativity pumping. These days, I am more into the outdoors than ever before in my life, so outdoor locations are great.

The only place I have found myself returning to as of late is Celebration. This is a quaint little community near Walt Disney World. It has beautiful scenery and oddly enough, reminds me somewhat of North Carolina in a way. I like how I can go there to merely wander around, check out the Sunday farmer’s market or take a long stroll on their hiking path. Celebration is a relaxing place to spend a few hours or day in just “vegging out.”

New food. You’re now in love with Lebanese food and you didn’t even know what it was in January of this year.

Indian food. Finally bought some and tried it late this year and I am in love. Well, I’m in love with matter tofu at least. I only wish I would have allowed myself to be more open and have tried this culture’s food sooner. I really have been missing out on some good food. Becoming vegan has really helped me open myself to try new things which is nice because I am beginning to have new favorite meals to add to my weekly “menu” for lunches and dinners.

December 21st – Project

What did you start this year that you’re proud of?

Well, I have started a lot of new things in 2009. However, most of my new projects are actually beginning in 2010. That said, I will highlight two things that I had going this year.

One thing I took on this year and completed all the way to the end was NaNoWriMo. I took on the challenge to write 50,000 words in one month and finished with over 50k worth of words written and even a day early! I was very proud to have completed that challenge, as I have done it the previous two years and never made it to the end.

The other project I started in 2009 was my goal to move back to Asheville by next summer. In association with this goal, I began a blog to chronicle my journey back to Western North Carolina. This particular project is one that is “in the works.” While I have declared what I am going to do and gotten the gears turning, so to speak, January 1st really begins the “official” countdown to my return to Asheville.

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This blog post is a part of Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 Blog Challenge

2009 Blog Challenge: Catch up

Today is time for a little “catch-up” on the blog challenge. Since I started on December 13th, I have twelve days to make up for. That said, here we go, below you will find December 1st through 6th….

Trip. What was your best trip in 2009?

This is an easy one, my vacation up to New York this past September. I had such a great time in the city for the two days I spent in there (was on Long Island with family most of the week). I really enjoyed being in one of my favorite places in the USA. For the first time in my life, I spent a night in NYC. An awesome friend invited me to stay with her for a night and it was a great experience. One I will definitely remember for a very long time. Past trips to New York, I only was able to spend the day in the city, so being able to spend a night was definitely a highlight for me.

NYC

Restaurant moment. Share the best restaurant experience you had this year. Who was there? What made it amazing? What taste stands out in your mind?

I don’t know if I had one experience that stands out above all others on this front. For the most part this year, I have eaten out solo, on my own. I did have a few times eating out with family and/or friends that enter my mind though. One would be lunch with my Aunt Kyle and cousin Kim when I was up in New York. We ate at this great Chinese restaurant in Hampton Bays which was nice. Good food and good conversation and time with family I don’t see often. Another time would be eating at Pizza Fusion here in Orlando with my mom for the first time. Neither one of us had ever been there, so it was nice to experience somewhere for the first time with my mom. Another good food and good time moment that stands out in my mind. The final restaurant experience that was great in my mind is my first time eating out as a vegetarian at Dandelion Communitea Cafe. I went to the cafe after work one Saturday afternoon solo and was recommended a special wrap the restuarant makes. I fell in love with the Dandelion and their food during that lunch. The wrap was so full of flavor and goodness and the atmosphere there is like no other.

Article. What’s an article that you read that blew you away? That you shared with all your friends. That you Delicious’d and reference throughout the year.

On this one, I can’t say it was just one article. I was blown away by articles I read during my researching about veganism and how the animals were really treated. The facts surrounding the treatment and conditions that these animals lived with and under stunned me. I couldn’t believe some of the things I was reading. Further, my thinking that so-called “free-range” was good, became a mute point once I educated myself on the subject. Once I read these facts through the articles, I wanted to not only share my newfound knowledge with friends and family, but with the world. There is nothing like the truth hitting you smack dab in the face to make you change your life.

Book. What book – fiction or non – touched you? Where were you when you read it? Have you bought and given away multiple copies?

Jillian Michaels’ Master Your Metabolism. As soon as I heard about Jillian’s new book, I immediately pre-ordered it online. I knew that it was going to be a great read. And, as soon as I had it in my hands and was reading it’s contents, I knew I was right. Jillian is not only an amazing trainer on the TV reality series, “The Biggest Loser,” but she is an inspiration to me and millions of other people. I listened to her weekly radio talk show until it ended this year with eager ears and a yearning to learn from someone I respected in the health and fitness arena. I read the book cover to cover within a little over a week and once I was done, I told anyone who would listen that they needed to also pick up the book. To this day, I still tell anyone looking for a good book on the topic of health to get her book.

Jillian Michaels

Night out. Did you have a night out with friends or a loved one that rocked your world? Who was there? What was the highlight of the night?

The only nights out that I have had in the recent past are those I spent with my friends back in Asheville. Of course, those nights were in 2008. I had a blast going to the movies at the Asheville Pizza & Brewery Company with the Asheville crew when I lived up in Western North Carolina last year. Nothing I have experienced in 2009 has topped that in my mind. Fourth of July 2008 is also a fond memory for me, great BBQ and walking to see the fireworks with great friends. There is nothing better in the world than spending a day with close friends. Ok, so maybe spending a day with family, so spending time with family and/or close friends makes the best times. 🙂

Workshop or conference. Was there a conference or workshop you attended that was especially beneficial? Where was it? What did you learn?

During 2009, I did not attend any workshops or conferences. I did however attend a couple of comic book conventions as a creator. Both Megacon and the FX Show were comic book conventions I appeared at during the year. The one show that stands out for me is Megacon. Not only was it my first comic book convention back in Florida since moving, but I got to see good friends. Two of my friends, Derrick and Suji and myself took pictures with a Delorean replica from the movie trilogy Back to the Future. It was an experience that lasted less than ten minutes, but one I enjoyed and that will live with me for a long time to come.

Musings to become ‘exclusive’

By that,  I merely mean I’m going to close out my blogger (shannon1.blogspot.com) and blog here exclusively as well as post things that are more “random” and what have you via my tumblr page.  With that in mind, you will definitely see more blogging here about not just my writing projects, but my photography and anything else I’m up to.  Also, I’m going to try to start posting reviews/thoughts on any movies, comics and books I’m watching or reading.