Sunday, December 6, 2009

Gearing Up for Best of 2009 Blog Challenge

Blogger Gwen Bell challenged herself to write a blog about the bests of 2009. I'm going to try to play along. I think it will be a challenge. First, it's been a shitty year, so I think it will do me some good to try to separate the good from the bad and the ugly. Below you'll find the rules of the challenge, the prompts for each day in December, and finally my entry for December 6.

How to participate in 5 simple steps:

1. Write on one or all thirty-one of the prompts for the month of December

2. A post can be a sentence, photo or 3,000 word essay

3. Link up your blog or Twitter account if you're going to tweet your bests, on the list below (add your name to the bottom where it says: You are next...CLICK HERE to enter your link)

4. Tag your posts and photos #best09. (These are the posts I've read so far, saved on Delicious daily.)

5. Share your best moments of 2009 over the course of December. Don't get hung up on details or length - if there's an aspect of the question that doesn't resonate, change it to meet your needs.

(Read the Q&A for more.)

The #best09 Prompts

December 1 Trip. What was your best trip in 2009?(+ giveaway)

December 2 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?

December 3 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.

December 4 Book. What book - fiction or non - touched you? Where were you when you read it? Have you bought and given away multiple copies? (+ giveaway)

December 5 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?

December 6 Workshop or conference. Was there a conference or workshop you attended that was especially beneficial? Where was it? What did you learn?

December 7 Blog find of the year. That gem of a blog you can't believe you didn't know about until this year.

December 8 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?

December 9 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?

December 10 Album of the year. What's rocking your world?

December 11 The best place. A coffee shop? A pub? A retreat center? A cubicle? A nook?

December 12 New food. You're now in love with Lebanese food and you didn't even know what it was in January of this year.

December 13 What's the best change you made to the place you live?

December 14 Rush. When did you get your best rush of the year?

December 15 Best packaging. Did your headphones come in a sweet case? See a bottle of tea in another country that stood off the shelves?

December 16 Tea of the year. I can taste my favorite tea right now. What's yours?

December 17 Word or phrase. A word that encapsulates your year. "2009 was _____."

December 18 Shop. Online or offline, where did you spend most of your mad money this year?

December 19 Car ride. What did you see? How did it smell? Did you eat anything as you drove there? Who were you with?

December 20 New person. She came into your life and turned it upside down. He went out of his way to provide incredible customer service. Who is your unsung hero of 2009?

December 21 Project. What did you start this year that you're proud of?

December 22 Startup. What's a business that you found this year that you love? Who thought it up? What makes it special?

December 23 Web tool. It came into your work flow this year and now you couldn't live without it. It has simplified or improved your online experience.

December 24 Learning experience. What was a lesson you learned this year that changed you?

December 25 Gift. What's a gift you gave yourself this year that has kept on giving?

December 26 Insight or aha! moment. What was your epiphany of the year?

December 27 Social web moment. Did you meet someone you used to only know from her blog? Did you discover Twitter?

December 28 Stationery. When you touch the paper, your heart melts. The ink flows from the pen. What was your stationery find of the year?

December 29 Laugh. What was your biggest belly laugh of the year?

December 30 Ad. What advertisement made you think this year?

December 31 Resolution you wish you'd stuck with. (You know, there's always next year...)

December 6 Was there a conference or workshop you attended that was especially beneficial? Where was it? What did you learn?

In the 6 1/2 years I've worked for LCSC, I've always been afforded the opportunity to attend either a conference for college-level and secondary education teachers, or I attended the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference. Due to budget cuts, funding hasn't been available for me to attend these conferences. Or to be honest, because I'm lower on the academic totem pole, my chances of applying for and getting such funding are nil. Preference is going to go to professors.

In non-academic areas, I also dropped off the radar in terms of teaching art-based classes. I no longer work at Paper Pals on weekends, and even though I am tied to 2 Degrees Northwest and was propositioned to teach classes, I have to admit, I feel like I've lost my mojo. My confidence in my abilities is just not there. It's not that I don't have the skills. I am creative and produce lots of art during a year. However, it's as if I have stage fright. The thought of having all eyes on me is terrifying, which is ridiculous, considering that I teach college-level English and have all eyes on me on a daily basis.

I have the best of intentions. At the end of summer. Laurie, one of the directors of of 2 Degrees Northwest, asked me to develop class ideas, and I did. Yet even after I proposed the courses, I backed out before the classes could even be advertised. Maybe the fear is that I'd go through such work and be excited about the classes, and then no one would sign up for them.

I also stopped attending any conferences and literary readings sponsored by the college and the Humanities Department. It's not that I'm not interested. In fact, I looked forward to seeing Scott Russell Sanders, yet when the time came, I skipped it and bought his newest book--the book from which the lecture sprang: The Conservationist Manifesto.

So to finally get around to answering the question posed by the Best 2009 Blog Challenge, I guess my best conference came in book form, where I could enjoy it from the comfort of my own home.

If you'd like your own private Scott Russell Sanders conference, you may want to read this.

I appreciated his take on the possibilities for meditation in nature:

"Although I have tried meditating for shorter or longer stretches since my college days, forty years ago, I have never been systematic about the practice, nor have I ever been good at quieting what Buddhists call the “monkey mind.” Here beside Lookout Creek, however, far from my desk and duties, with no task ahead of me but that of opening myself to this place, I settle quickly. I begin by following my breath, the oldest rhythm of flesh, but soon I am following the murmur of the creek, and I am gazing at the bright leaves of maples and dogwoods that glow along the thread of the stream like jewels on a necklace, and I am watching light gleam on water shapes formed by current slithering over rocks, and for a spell I disappear, there is only this rapt awareness."

This conference--the one I attended in my pajamas, with a cup of tea in hand and a dog curled at me feet--reminded me, no, alarmed me: it has been far too long since I've been in the woods. I miss it. And I need to reclaim peace in my life, perhaps one trail, one tree at a time.

No comments:

Post a Comment