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2020: A New Beginning

I think I have global support when I say that 2020 has been one of the most communally challenging years most of us have ever experienced.

The first half of 2020 was, hands-down, the most difficult period I’ve ever trudged through. In the first week of January, I started in a new position at work. The role of Travel Wrangler hadn’t existed before I claimed it on my freshly ordered business cards. I was excited for the opportunity to put the knowledge I’ve gained through my years of travel to good use for my colleagues and the company. It seemed as soon as I found my footing, got to a point where my Impostor Syndrome wasn’t crippling me any more, global travel came to a red light.

Then came February, when I suffered whiplash from being rear-ended, while stopped at a traffic light. In Chicago, in March, I got horribly sick on the last business-related trip before the aforementioned travel stoppage. I’m 99% sure it was COVID-19, but securing a test was impossible that early on. A friend on my softball team, who was full of love and light, with the most incredible smile, took his life in April. Then we were in May, and my wife and I were 2 months into a self-imposed lockdown (Florida wasn’t really enforcing anything), and I was struggling without the social connection I so desperately desired. By June, I came to the realization that my marriage was in crisis.

I was in crisis.

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Bloganuary 21, 2023: Who is your favorite author and why?

For the month of January, I’m participating in Bloganuary, a daily blogging challenge.

Today’s Bloganuary prompt:

Who is your favorite author and why?

This is a tough prompt for me, as I’m not an avid reader. It’s a rare occurrence when I actually finish a book. The author has to grab my attention in those first few chapters, or I lose interest.

As a kid, I remember reading (and finishing!) a Stephen King novel. That sense of accomplishment was wonderful, even though I can’t recall the title of the book.

I’ve read a few novels by Sarah Waters, and I definitely enjoy her style of historical fiction. It also helps she writes stories with lesbian characters!

Recently, I listened to the audio book “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens, and the story was absolutely incredible. I loved her word choice. Her descriptions. And the plot twist.

Is it too early to claim that she’s my favorite author?

Maybe it’s too soon. But for the purposes of this prompt, it’s the best answer I’ve got.


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Bloganuary 20, 2023: What irritates you about the home you live in?

For the month of January, I’m participating in Bloganuary, a daily blogging challenge.

Today’s Bloganuary prompt:

What irritates you about the home you live in?

I love the prompts that have such a clear answer. A response that’s so resounding in my mind, it’s impossible to ignore. This is one such prompt.

The floors.

They’re a cheap laminate, made to look like hardwood floors, but they lie. The previous owners seem to have laid this layer directly on top of ceramic tile, failing to put down any padding or underlayment first.

The floor, thus, floats. Each step makes a clicking sound, as the laminate taps the tile below. Even something as gentle as a cat paw is heard throughout the house. It’s annoying.

Oh, and also, it appears as though the flooring has simply covered the thresholds going into the bedrooms. So they’re are awkward mounds and bumps, if you step on it in the wrong spot.

Replacing these floors will be included in our first big home renovation. We’ll redo them all when we figure out how to build out a better laundry/mud room.


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Bloganuary 19, 2023: What color describes your personality?

For the month of January, I’m participating in Bloganuary, a daily blogging challenge.

Today’s Bloganuary prompt:

What color describes your personality?

I’m extroverted, energetic, and determined, so maybe Red describes me.

Then again, I’m also optimistic, warm, and open-minded. That would make my personailty Orange.

I’ve also seen myself as more of a Yellow person: friendly, cheerful, communicative. But maybe that’s because yellow is my favorite color.

Green is a newer color that I really like. Personailty traits for it are calm and analytical, which definitely sound like me.

I’m certainly sympathetic, compassionate, and sincere, so maybe I’m more Blue?

And there are some aspects of Purple that ring true for me. Specifically imaginative and wise. Oh, maybe a tad of immature.

I suppose my personailty is more of a rainbow. And that instills a wonderful sense of pride.


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Bloganuary 18, 2023: What’s your favorite meal to cook and/or eat?

For the month of January, I’m participating in Bloganuary, a daily blogging challenge.

Today’s Bloganuary prompt:

What’s your favorite meal to cook and/or eat?

Like many people reading this prompt, I first thought of the comfort foods from childhood. Mac & cheese, chicken soup with those tiny noodles, my mom’s sweet potato casserole, or the meatloaf with the sweet glaze on top.

But since going vegan over a decade ago, many of those dishes are out of bounds, or at the very least, don’t taste the same. Meat alternatives have come a long way in the past 10 years, but some meals still don’t compare.

Instead of focusing on the dishes I enjoy eating, I’m going to flip this coin, and think about what I like to prepare.

An answer immediately comes to mind! Sandwiches. And more specifically, burgers. Beyond is my favorite brand to give me that hearty, beefy texture and taste, and here’s what I would do with them:

A banquet burger, with vegan cheddar, caramelized onions, grilled mushrooms, bac’n, pickles, and BBQ-ranch sauce, on a pretzel bun.

Or a Mediterranean burger, with vegan feta, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, red onion, spinach, tapenade, and a tzatziki sauce, on a kaiser roll.

Oooh, or an Italian one, with vegan mozzarella, grilled zucchini, and marinara sauce, on a ciabatta bun.

And maybe a tropical burger, with grilled pineapple, caramelized onions, avocado, and a mango aioli, on a brioche bun.

Yup. This post makes me, yet again, think about opening up a restaurant. Maybe one day…


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Bloganuary 17, 2023: Describe the happiest day of your life.

For the month of January, I’m participating in Bloganuary, a daily blogging challenge.

Today’s Bloganuary prompt:

Describe the happiest day of your life.

Today is a hard day. I woke up well before my alarm, and couldn’t get back to sleep. I did my first cardio workout at the gym in months, and although I’m happy I did it, it was exhausting and I felt like throwing up twice. I’m also super overwhelmed by how much I need to do in order to feel ready for my mom’s visit in 2 days.

It feels like this is a prompt that should have a clear answer in my head. But my mind draws a blank when I try to pinpoint a day in my past that is deserving of the superlative, Happiest Day.

Instead, what keeps popping into my head, is more vague.

The happiest day of my life is each day I wake up next to you, Amy. I love you.


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Bloganuary 16, 2023: Do you have a memory that’s linked to a smell?

For the month of January, I’m participating in Bloganuary, a daily blogging challenge.

Today’s Bloganuary prompt:

Do you have a memory that’s linked to a smell?

Dill. Hands down, without question. The smell of dill makes me think of my maternal grandmother. Baba, as I lovingly referred to her, was a tremendous cook of traditionally Jewish food.

Her matzoh ball soup was unrivaled in its deliciousness. And it’s the smell of dill permeating the house, while the soup simmered, that immediately brings up memories of her.

Typically, she did all the cooking. But on a couple rare occasions, I remember helping her. Like that time I stood on a stool so that I was tall enough to work beside her at the counter, filling dough circles with meat mixture, folding it over, and pinching the ends to make kreplach (Jewish dumplings). Or, gasp, when I was allowed to help her roll a couple of matzoh balls.

To this day, any time I use dill in my cooking, she comes to mind. And I think about how my bond to her has only strengthened after her passing, how proud she’d be of me, and how impressed she’d be in my ability to modify her invisible recipes to be vegan-friendly.


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Bloganuary 15, 2023: What fear have you conquered?

For the month of January, I’m participating in Bloganuary, a daily blogging challenge.

Today’s Bloganuary prompt:

What fear have you conquered?

Since it’s so fresh in my mind because I touched on it yesterday, I wish I could answer that I’ve overcome my fear of flying. Sadly, I’m not there yet.

What I have conquered, though, is my fear of being alone. Of being single. I was terrified to leave my marriage. I didn’t know how to define myself outside the presence of my ex. I was afraid to be on my own, and not like who I was.

I spent a solid 6 months after my marriage, using Covid as an excuse to isolate. It was the saddest, most challenging, and loneliest time of my life. I hated it. And I knew it was good for me.

I was able to focus solely on me. I found the things that brought me joy, as well as the things that didn’t (skydiving and mohawks are not for me). In that half year, I found myself. And the best part, was that I discovered I like who I am.

It took many years, and a lot of therapy, to conquer this fear. It was, without a doubt, so incredibly worth it.


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Bloganuary 14, 2023:What is your preferred mode of travel?

For the month of January, I’m participating in Bloganuary, a daily blogging challenge.

Today’s Bloganuary prompt:

What is your preferred mode of travel?

Although I love being in new places, experiencing new cultures, seeing new sights, the actual process of traveling can be hard for me. I get motion sick easily, I have yet to acquire my sea legs, and I still battle with a fear of flying.

Because if it weren’t for being afraid to fly, airplanes would definitely be my top mode of travel. Alas, I can’t answer the prompt so quickly.

I like to drive, but traffic and confused motorists can easily ruin that enjoyment. And too long in the car wreaks havoc on my back, shoulders, and neck.

Hot air balloons? Nope. Jet ski? Nah, too loud. Pogo stick? Goodness, no! Inner tube on a lazy river? Hmmm… maybe. Bicycle? Ooohh… now we’re getting somewhere. (Ha!)

Walking. I thoroughly enjoy walking. It’s unfortunate I can’t travel long distances with this heel-toe approach, but it’s great exercise, I’ve never puked because of it, and it’s not an activity that instills fear in me.

Perhaps when I’m no longer scared to travel by plane, I’ll reassess. But until then, I’m satisfied with taking things one step at a time.


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Bloganuary 13, 2023: If you had a billion US dollars, how would you spend it?

For the month of January, I’m participating in Bloganuary, a daily blogging challenge.

Today’s Bloganuary prompt:

If you had a billion US dollars, how would you spend it?

When I try to comprehend how much a billion truly is, my mind breaks. I read something online once that explained that one million seconds is 12 days, and one billion seconds is 31 years. Thirty. One. Years. Seriously???

I just celebrated by 42nd birthday. If I were to set my sights high, let’s say I want to live to be 100 years old. That leaves me with 58 years left on Earth, just shy of 2 billion seconds. So, that means I would need to spend one dollar every 2 seconds to spend $1,000,000,000 by the time I turn 100.

Given that there are 86,400 seconds in a day, split that in half and I would have $43,200 to spend every single day for the next 58 years. How would I spend that?

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Bloganuary 12, 2023: What chore do you find the most challenging to do?

For the month of January, I’m participating in Bloganuary, a daily blogging challenge.

Today’s Bloganuary prompt:

What chore do you find the most challenging to do?

As a kid, I had a lot of chores to do. As an adult, my therapist validated me, and opined that I indeed had too many chores to do.

Of them all, I enjoyed mowing the grass the most. The smell of fresh-cut grass was wonderful, and I loved the satisfaction of seeing a neatly trimmed lawn. I also didn’t mind vacuuming, dusting, or cleaning the windows. Even being on Poop Patrol wasn’t horrible, despite our suburban home having 4 cats and 6+ dogs. Laundry was fine. Cleaning the bathroom didn’t bother me all that much. Washing dishes was manageable, too. (Today, I even find doing dishes to be a meditative practice.)

Without question, the toughest chore for me back then – and still to this day – is mopping the floor.

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