Musings and Amusings




“Blessed are the weird people: poets, misfits, writers, mystics, painters, troubadours; For they teach us to see the world through different eyes.”

by Jacob Nordby (shared by Happy Holly)

That is one of my blogging goals – to see the world through different eyes. April brought me that, and more.

I used March to “pre-visit” blogs on the linky list of bloggers with <100 followers and compile a list of “follows” for April. Being a new blogger myself, I wanted to give most of my attention to newbies.

In early April, I did additional bloghopping to accumulate 85 blogs I regularly visited. I spent several hours morning and evening to visit, read and comment, as well as respond to comments on my own blog.

Would I use that approach again?


Of the 85 I followed, 83 completed the Challenge. Not all visited my blog; not all responded to my comments, and not all are blogs I follow now that the Challenge is over. However, more than a handful of very talented, interesting people have become my cherished blogging buddies. We  laughed, cried, learned and supported. I have every confidence our relationships will flourish, and our blogging passions will be richer because of our connections.

In addition to my treasured blogging buddies, my Challenge rewards are:

My new library. Every blogger I followed has not only 26 excellent A to Z posts which are worth re-visiting, but an accumulation of posts I’ve never read. And they will publish future valuable posts. I can travel, eat, garden, paint, think, imagine – knowing I’ll enjoy where-ever I meander in my library.

My referral system. Each blogger I follow has a treasure trove of bloggers they follow. That’s a rich reservoir of talent, and the potential for broadening my horizons is immeasurable.

Material for my future posts. My buddy bloggers have triggered so many memories, questions, emotions, curiosities, musings during my April visits that I have a notebook full of triggers and prompts. It’s impossible in this post to say how uniquely each of you has touched my heart and energized my brain, but my future posts will pay tribute to your individual talents and your cumulative impact on how I view my world. I think about each of you every day, and feel so blessed that you have come into my life.

What I liked:

I pre-wrote 95% of my posts. I couldn’t possibly “wing it”.

The support from Co-hosts and Minions!  A bucket load of Thank You’s to each of you who worked tirelessly and cheerfully to support this Challenge. I  cannot imagine participating AND performing your functions. Kudos to all for your stamina and dedication!

The pre-Challenge instructional posts by Co-hosts and Minions. Very helpful.

What was difficult:

Sticking to my theme. I’m not sure I’ll pick one next year.

The (no one’s fault) snafus between blogging platforms: My WordPress Reader only intermittently picked up non-WP bloggers I followed, so I had to refer to my list and visit them manually. Commenting on Blogspot was a time-consuming process – even with Captcha turned off. I can only assume it was the same hassle for Blogspotters to comment on a WP blog.

Suggestions for next year:

Perhaps Z to A Challenge (backwards) for a change of pace? People seemed to burn out just as the toughest letters came up.

A  few bloggers suggested we drop Q and X. I disagree. We’re a creative bunch; if we can’t take “literary license” during the Challenge, what’s the point?

During March instruction period, please clarify when “how-to” instructions pertain specifically to Blogspot platform. I finally figured out it was Blogspot bloggers hosting A to Z, and the instructions were written accordingly. But I wasted a lot of time, as a WordPress blogger, trying to figure out what those instructions meant.

Will I do this Challenge in 2015?  Sign Me Up!

Click here to return to the Reflections List for other A to Z Bloggers

Comments on: "A to Z April 2014 – A Fond Look Back" (58)

  1. That’s the spirit! Already revving to go for next year. As usual, I won’t be participating in it, but I enjoy stopping by the blogs of those who do. 🙂

  2. I don’t think you can add a ‘like’ button on blogspot posts. If it is possible, I have no idea how to do it. I can do it on my wordpress blog so maybe it is just a wordpress facility.

  3. A great review Sammy. Another thing I found when responding to commenters is that a lot of them use Google+ and so you don’t actually go to their blog and challenge. It is time consuming to hop around trying to find the site and I’m afraid I opted out when I found that was their link.

    • Thank you, Jude. I think we all are seeking our niche in blogging topics, community, and platforms within reasonable time limits. The Challenge was an eye-opener into the number of ways folks choose to communicate. I like simple.

  4. X, Q and Z turned out to be some of my favorite posts! They don’t call it a challenge for nothing. 🙂
    I agree, it’s been an amazing month, and although I’m not sure I will do it again, I will definitely support those who do!

    • Hey Kirsten! Yes, you did well with each of those quirky letters! Surprisingly I enjoyed mine, too, because I was able to make them personal. Take that, Challenge!!

  5. Lainey said:

    Wonderful look back! I think the fact that we don’t set or change the rules is the very thing that makes it a challenge! Dropping letters in particular would make a mockery of it personally speaking….even though they were bloody difficult letters to do…lol! I’m doing it next year too! 🙂

    • Thank you, Lainey dear! You will be even braver by next April. Ha!

      I agree – we need to keep the difficult letters, and I love to see the creative ways people imagined to make posts fit the alpha. I can also understand how some bloggers hit their limit because of so many other demands on their time – that certainly makes creativity more difficult.

      Overall – at least from the bloggers and readers I encountered – April was a smashing success.

  6. I’m really happy that your first Challenge experience was a positive one. It really feels good to have made it through or for those who didn’t quite make it, given it your best shot. I like the idea of alternating A to Z to Z to A every second year. As for dropping X, Q and Z, just wouldn’t be the same. I think the letters K and I are harder. Very grateful to have found your blog through the Challenge 🙂

    • Ditto from this end on finding you! I, too, struggled with K until I made it silly. One thing that impressed me about several of the bloggers I followed: they fell behind for various reasons, and all except 2 made the effort to get caught up. That speaks volumes about their commitment, and made me want to do my best as well.

      Thank you so much for you interest and continued support. It sure made me feel good!

  7. A great look back here, and I so agree with all the points – especially the referral system. We live in a networking world, it’s all about establishing friendships. Also, the part where some bloggers never comment back or reply. I never understood that part, but then again, I don’t claim to understand it all. 🙂 Great work all around. I’m happy we’ve connected.

    • Hi Silvia – thanks for your comments. I think a lot of folks underestimated the time it takes to blog, visit other blogs, comment and respond to comments. I’m retired, so I could devote extra time, and it was time-consuming. If the ones I followed kept up with the schedule (and they did), that was more important to me than receiving replies, only because I think it is the most important commitment when it’s their first challenge. We should all feel good about making it to the end.

      So glad to have met you, and look forward to fun times ahead 🙂

      • Oooh I hope I didn’t sound preachy! When I wouldn’t receive replies to comments I would tell myself that blogger just underestimated so I didn’t feel shunned!

  8. Have to agree about the platforms. Which there was an easy to comment to blogger blogs, too, for those of us with wordpress and vice versa.

    • Hi Sonia – yes, that was frustrating for everyone, I’m sure, but not something easily resolved. On the one hand, we all want to cross-visit but on the other, it’s far easier to follow and comment on your own platform, I discovered. Congratulations on completing your own challenge, and thanks for stopping by.

  9. Hi Sammy. Great wrap up post ! I agree about the cross-platform commenting difficulties. I’m sad to say that if G+ was the only choice for commenting I had to just not comment, and there were some wonderful blogs in that category. But I am soooo happy to have been introduced to your amazing “muzings” 🙂

    • Thank you!

      It was disappointing to find a great blog and not be able to comment or follow when G+ was sole option. But I simply can’t learn or use every social media venue; it’s just too overwhelming for me.

      You are so sweet to be so supportive. And ditto back – it was your Blog Name that stood out when I went through the Linky List in March. What the heck are you going to do when you have a birthday. Just stay 40? That works 🙂

      • Well…you know…I’m actually already more than 40, but I am *in* my 40’s 🙂 so I think I’m ok until I get to fifty ! Glad the name caught your eye!

      • Literary license applies to “autobiog” details too; especially age 🙂

        And Fantastique will be relevant no matter the decade.

  10. Hey SammyD! That was an excellent Reflection. I’d like to feature it at the A-Z Blog sometime in May. Email me if you’re interested! Your points about the blogger platform are heard and noted. We need a co-host with a WP blog now…
    Tina @ Life is Good
    A to Z Team @ Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2014

    • Hey Tina – thanks for swinging by. I will email you later today – have to work on my flower bed because the bagged bark is smelling up the trunk of my car.

      Yes, a WP co-host for “how-to’s” would be good, altho it’s going to have to be someone far more knowledgeable than I (and with a far higher tolerance for stress!).

      Have read the recaps that scroll though my Reader and will look at list for a few from bloggers I didn’t get a chance to read. Overall, I think (other than self-criticism) everyone had a good or great experience!

  11. I like your idea of picking 85 blogs and visiting them each day. I chose about 30 to visit every day and then visited 20-30 new ones each evening. My goal was to visit everyone. It only worked out so-so. A To Z is a real challenge every year but I do enjoy it.

    • Hi Elizabeth – that was my original goal, too, but I spent a lot of time in March clicking blogs on both lists. There were many for sci fi, fantasy, vampires, movies and videos that I knew I wouldn’t enjoy following – different strokes ‘n all. So I feel like I did meet the “5 blogs per day” request, but it didn’t make sense to leave comments that weren’t authentic, and I tried doing more bloghopping the first two weeks of April but just ran out of time!

  12. I am glad that I read your reflection post. My problem was not with blogger blogs (because that is what I have) but when I leave a comment on a WordPress blog I always tried to leave my link because I comment on WordPress using my Facebook account, which is private. I don’t understand a thing about Google+ and it just frustrated me. I can’t wait for next year either….

    • Yes, I remember when you left your first comment because you didn’t include your link and I had to ask you for it. I have a weird thing happen when I use my i-pad to comment on blogger – Each time I’m required to enter all my info, then some blogs have a two-step continue button followed by a publish button, and others have only a publish button. My comment will post on the ones with just the publish button, but disappears forever on the blogs with the two-step process.

      Other than those hassles, it was one big adventure, and we will stay in touch!

  13. Oh, how did you find the list of blogs with less than 100 followers? That is such a great way to meet fellow newbies, I’m with you at this stage I also want to focus on the newer blogs too!

  14. Oh, ignore me, I went searching in the A to Z blog and found the list. I joined too late and missed that blog post. Still useful to have at this stage, going to go say hi 🙂

  15. Great reflection post, Sammy! The Challenge was so much fun, and it sounds like you really got a lot out of it. I love your idea of having a library and a source for referrals!!! that’s a great way to look at it 🙂 Has anyone told you about Bloglovin? Bloglovin is a website that manages all the blogs you want to follow, regardless of the platform (WordPress, Blogger, random websites and blogs, etc.). I too found blogger to be difficult – and Bloglovin saved the day because you can divide up the blogs you follow by subject, favorites, any type of category you want – you make your own lists. It was a tool I will DEFINITELY continue to use!

    Also, I’m pretty sure it was you that I was “typing” with – but did we have a conversation about blog awards? Well, someone nominated me for the Liebster Award! I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not to do it (i.e., perpetuating the “chain” and doing work for an award vs. accepting a well-intentioned compliment). I think I’m going to end up doing it, mostly because I want to honor the person who nominated me. But I’m STILL planning on doing the Fuzzy “A-word” Awards, and the people who who receive them won’t have to do anything but accept them! Hah! I’m scheming about them already and it’s going to be FUUUUUNNN!!!

    Anyway, thanks for all your support through the Challenge – I’m so glad I got to meet you! One of the highlights of the Challenge for me! 😀

    • Hey Marci – did you get a new gravatar photo or is my memory failing me … again…? I like it. I clicked on it, and just finished exploring the roller derby site (such cool pics) and your brainy girl online magazine. You are amazing – what a wonderful thing to do for girls who need all the encouragement we can give them. My bro works for Nature Conservancy in Michigan; they are heavily focused on the waterways and Great Lakes. He also scuba dives (altho hasn’t in Mich). I’m going to tell him to read your insightful interview with Brenda Moraska LaFrancois.

      Yes, that was me re: the awards. You should do what feels right for you; I found a couple other bloggers who handled it much more diplomatically than stressed-out me, so I have an improved way to honor the person awarding (as you say, that’s important) but still not accept (guilt-free). Your year-end awards should be a hoot 🙂

      Thanks for Blogloving’ tip – I have added it to my list of to do’s; sounds like a good idea!

      PS A blogger told me today she’d nominate me for Best Commentator award. I can’t imagine why. Yadda Yadda Yadda 🙂

      • Ha! Yes, I just got my hair cut super short, so I changed my Gravatar yesterday 🙂 Good catch! Thanks for checking out Brainy Girls – I did that for several months but haven’t updated it in a long while now. I changed out the content every month or two and it was A LOT of work, but I didn’t get very much interaction on the site, so I didn’t think I was being very effective. I’ve learned a few things about promoting content since then, so if I ever get the energy, I’ll pick the site back up! I really liked doing it, but honestly, it could’ve been a full time job (only with zero times the pay). Brenda’s interview is really great – I also did an interview with a polar bear biologist for my very first “issue” which you can read if you download the pdf from the Archives page. It sounds like your brother has an awesome job – I wouldn’t be surprised if he and Brenda know some people in common!

        You should TOTALLY accept the Best Commentator Award…you deserve it! 🍸 😎

      • Is that a martini? I accept!

      • Yes!!! There’s also a symbol for a burrito, but it didn’t look as tasty 😉

  16. This challenge was both fun and exhausting and what I love most is the new friendships we have forged here. So glad we met Sammy and I’m looking forward to more musings at bemuzin. 🙂 Cheers!

    • And days at The Dog Lady’s Den as well, Got any summer travel plans? No me, too much to do here in Colorado.

      • Not me either. Summer is busy season for the dog boarding biz. 🙂 Everybody else goes away and I take care of their pooches.

  17. I agree with you on disagreeing on eliminating q and x. That would take part of the ‘challenge’ out of the Challenge. Stretching our minds to come up with something for the tough letters is good exercise. 🙂 I loved winging it, except for the time it took. I spent about an hour drafting my new post each night, and that hour could have been used for more comments and visits. 🙂

    • You were an awesome visitor and commenter, not just on my site, but I saw you on many others as well. Thanks so much for all your support and it’s far from over for connections 🙂

  18. I pre-wrote 60% of my posts and that’s how I was able to save my tail and make it through the challenge. It was a lot of fun, though. I’m glad I was able to get to know so many different and interesting people (you included). The world is so huge, and blogging is a way for us to get a sneak peek into the lives of those around us. I think I’ll probably pick a theme for next year to make it a bit easier for me to come up with posts. I may even pre-write and schedule a few now whenever they come to mind! 🙂 Congrats again on finishing up the challenge. I look forward to more posts from you!

    • Hey thanks for stopping by. Isn’t it funny – I say I didn’t like having a theme, and you think you’ll use one next time! I will probably change my mind on that if I get a flexible enough theme. I agree – I’ll write posts as something occurs to me that fits a letter – sort of like buying on sale through the year to stock up on Christmas gifts.

      Enjoyed visiting during the Challenge and will continue to follow your escapades!

  19. Loved this reflection post, esp the fact that you kept focusing on others during the challenge and for the closing of it. Seems like you got the most out of April, well done! And I totally LOVE the Z to A idea!!!

    • Thanks, Andi. I appreciate our Challenge connection and seeing what comes next.

      If we did Z to A, we could all end up with an A grade for completion. lOL i just thought of that!

  20. Great reflection post! You are truly caring and always gave back to others with your visits, likes, and comments. I totally agree with the Z to A suggestion!

  21. I am doing some catching up here, great post. Did you enter it in to the A-Z refelctions link up? You did soooo well reading up on all those blogs, meeting new people, I just didnt have the time to do that as well. You are a real trooper hehe huggles x ps I know how good your comments are aswell they always bring a smiel to my face

    • Thank you, Justine – you have been so supportive and dear friend. Your April posts were always a surprise and obviously took a lot of time to find those wonderful vintage photos you added to each quote.

    • Yes, I did put it on the linkup And I signed up for the post challenge road trip. Ha!

      • omg what is the post challenge road trip?

      • Go back to the A to Z challenge site and read the newest post (in fact you should “follow” that site because they are going to keep doing guests posts, etc.) The road trip is basically just committing to keep clicking blogs from the original sign up list that you didn’t read during the challenge. No rules.

      • aaahhh I might just go back and visit that page, good idea x I think I am following it just I miss things ditsy me lol

  22. Hi Sammy. That was a solid look back with great input. I didn’t get around to as many blogs as I would have liked due to the bumps I’d run into due to platform differences. I make comments and it wouldn’t go so I’d give up. The other reason was my brain would be fried after my shifts at work and this played on my patience as well. LOL. But I’d do it again. Thanks for your company as support along the way!!

    • You bet! Thank you for all the inspiring acrostics and gorgeous pictures. I gave up on comments when they disappeared too. And no like button just to say ‘I was here”. Still a great month.

  23. You were so much more organized on your first year with the A to Z Challenge than I was even on the second. I really like some of your ideas and hope to implement then next year. Just finishing the challenge is a victory for me but would love to finish with finesse:)

    Thank you for stopping by my blog and commenting! I will be back to visit again!

    • Thank you, Kat. How nice to hear from you. I might have finished in good fashion but I feel drained of writing ideas and can’t even find motivstion for a good book. April wiped me out 🙂

    • No motivation for reading a good book, thatis. Lord knows I haven’t the faintest desire to write a book!

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