Alphabet Recap, Mindfulness Challenges, and 7 Random Smartphone Photos


Seems as if there’s room for just one challenge in this coach’s bag at a time.

Those of you not participating (and probably a percentage who are) probably turned the calendar to May with a touch of gratitude. We’re cultish, we A to Z knuckleheads. We flood your inbox and social media feeds with sorcery and daily posts and crazy rules.

And who the hell blogs every dad-burn day? We do.

The cleverest among us have compiled posts of their favorite posts from each of 26 days of the challenge. Others have shared their most viewed and commented-on posts. I’m not among those cleverest, but you can bet 10 publish buttons I will next year.

I also took on (and failed at) a mindfulness challenge to go with a writer challenge.

April in the 12-month Mindful Challenge: Send the love. “Send a handwritten letter of gratitude to one person each day during the month.” I created a spreadsheet and collected names and addresses of 30 people, but haven’t sent a single note.

I will though. Even in the gathering of names addresses, I learned a few lessons.

3 things I learned sending the love (or at least preparing to do so)

Some of the list entries come easy – most do not. My family came first, and I look forward to telling those closest to me why I’m so grateful for them. Rather than crank out 10 at a time, I’m going to send one tomorrow, with mindfulness.

1. Some letters are tough to write – even just in your noggin

There’s one recipient for whom I’m having trouble conjuring words of approval. This exercise will help me to examine our history and recognize areas for gratitude. You have to look deep sometimes. And maybe that has more to do with me.

2. People love a hand-written note

I can’t wait to send them. I got such cheerful responses by those on my list, and hardly any pepper spray. Just kidding on the pepper spray. No restraining orders either, though.

3. A spreadsheet can show you that you have much to be thankful for

Even if it’s just one thing (and it was never one thing) to show gratitude for, that’s 30 planks of gratitude on the woodpile. That’s not insignificant. I’m a lucky man.

The next challenge:

May: Ditch the disposable.

I’ve already begun asking for a plate and not disposable boxes for food at work. I bought a dollar-store plate for my desk to warm up leftovers on. I will not use another straw. I’m determined to reduce my impact. And remember, I’m conservative!

7 random smartphone pictures

Continuing with this monthly feature …

50 poptart pepsi soccer

Not exactly the breakfast of champions. I had little choice as Marie watched Georgia vs. North Carolina women’s soccer at the Twins Soccer Complex in Advance, N.C.

19 myrtle beach camdyn hayden.jpg

Especially from far away, it’s not easy to tell one of the girls from the other. Also, on the ride to the coast, I listened as they talked and joked, peers in personality and sense of humor. I love it.

51 twins soccer complex advance hayden

We had a first in this college showcase – a 7:40 a.m. kickoff! Frosty football, for sure. Not all of the icy dew had dissipated, this early, but things quickly heated up against a strong side from Philly.

145 royals jersey.jpg

I pared down my jersey collection. I took photos of a few I plan to put on Craig’s List. This is one. Those of you who know Michelle Terry – think it would be cool if I just gave her this one?

174 veterans park disc golf

My view on hole No. 3 at Veteran’s Park. I haven’t been there in forever. It’s a straightaway, with an elevation drop. You get to the tee pad and just rip it and hope.

166 harris teeter cookie alabama clearance

Saw this on the bakery shelf at Harris-Teeter the day after Clemson’s national championship victory. Tells you all you need to know. I perturbed a baker for taking this shot, but it was worth it.

104 pontiac tradein value.jpg

During days Gabi seemed on her last wheel, I did the necessary research. When the girls saw her trade-in value, they offered to buy her from me and crush her with a sledge hammer. Where’s the love?

car quote 2


  1. Kisma says:

    Am I really the first to leave some feedback? This is a great post and I have to say- all you A – Z peeps should be proud of a job well done. I apologize for not being able to follow.

    Diet Pepsi is my hero this morning!
    Here’s to a great day!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      You’re frist, as they say. (No one’s ever said that here!) Thanks, Tiff – it’s a good challenge, but I think even we feel a bit sick of ourselves come that home stretch.

      *cheers with my Coke Zero*

  2. Well… just a bit of gratitude for May yes 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      You and me both!

  3. Lindsay says:

    You and your damn pop tarts. Lol

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      They were patriotic, Lindsay! (And also the only option at the concession stand. Still, #merica.)

  4. Rebecca Douglass says:

    I think the idea of compiling a best-of list is a great one. I, on the other hand, barely made it through with my posts, and really lost it on visiting and commenting in the last few days of the month.

    Agree about the beauty of a hand-written note, too. We all so seldom get anything via old-school mail except bills and junk. I think I’ll send a couple of notes I owe. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I’ll collect the links as I go next time, Rebecca. The worst part of this challenge is getting to other posts – I still have to read my five from the last two letters, and I’ve completely ignored the tribe this month, those who were here in March and will be here in May.

      There’s beauty in hand-written notes, although my handwriting probably takes a luster off it. It’s good to go vinyl or device free or hand written to bring back a little old-school.

      I should send you one, too.

  5. I’m still working my way through your A-Z list of posts!!! You are a writing God, Eli!!! And to be able to read so many blogs and leave thoughtful comments. How do you manage it all???

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It’s kind of a ton, isn’t it Kristi? You’re way too kind – I’m actually a writing pauper who has written for hundreds of years and mostly is comfortable doing it because that’s one of the few things he’s really in his element doing (another being eating ginger snaps and milk.)

      I believe that the best part of the blogging life is reading others’ words, because so many have stuck with me, changed my trajectory, or shone light on things I’d never have seen. I’m grateful for the time and piece of a writer’s soul that goes into writing a post, and that deserves my full attention and more than just a “love this” and a link to my own work.

      I appreciate you visiting me, and glad that I found your work through the Peaceful Posse!

  6. John Holton says:

    Pepsi and a Pop Tart… kind of reminds me of my traveling days, when I had those all the time.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Breakfast (or lunch?) of champions, right John?

      1. John Holton says:

        Or dinner, or late snack, or…

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        What do they call it, fifth meal? That too.

  7. Kim Airhart says:

    I love your posts. I don’t think I’ve had a pop tart or pepsi since I was a kid. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love them.

  8. Court says:

    life got in the way
    of finishing the challenge
    maybe i will soon

    notes written by hand
    are my favorite kind of mail
    support US mail

    dunno, smashing car?
    that sounds like a lot of fun
    i’ll bring spiked seltzer

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Dude, what art. Except for the part at which my dear Gabi is brutalized. Still, I appreciate the art. (One year I took the challenge way into May, and no one stopped me.)

      1. Court says:

        Have you never taken a sledge hammer to something? It’s therapeutic and satisfying. The kidney foundation used to do a fundraiser with it up here. People would donate cars (and get a tax write off) and they’d sell “swings” for a price and then sell the carnage for scrap. I think it brought in big money.
        I’m sorry your beloved Gabi would be the target though.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        I never have! I would for charity, but I’ve never felt the urge to do it just to do it. Too bad there’s not a charity event that involves eating cheese, though. Or waffles.

      3. Court says:

        All you can eat waffles? I’m in. Apparently we just need to move to TX and I considered doing so until I found this

        You’re welcome. Enjoy that soccer fundraiser.

      4. Eli Pacheco says:


  9. Beth says:

    I agree, people really do appreciate a hand written note! I love the idea of reducing your footprint in May. A friend of mine recently shared an article about plastic straws on FB and I am starting there. No more straws in my house that aren’t re-usuable.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Kind of an easy, thoughtful touch, right Beth? I am off to a bad start for May, having used a disposable fork yesterday. I’m perfect today, however.

      I saw that article on Facebook – that’s what kind of spurred the thought, even before the challenge. Trying to lead by example and not get preachy about it – we have to come to these conclusions on our own for it to stick.

  10. ksbeth says:

    loved your alphabet days and love these pics. love the pop tarts too, almost like a flag )

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thank you, beth! they were by far the most patriotic poptarts i’ve ever had, and when you pair it with the red-white-blue Pepsi color scheme, you kind of feel like singing “America the Beautiful” at the top of your lungs but then you remember the teenager sitting next to you.

  11. messymimi says:

    You did a great A to Z, and you are right, people love to get hand written notes. The idea of writing and sending some has me piqued, i used to do it and i need to start again.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Mimi. Maybe you could take the challenge, too.

  12. Hi Eli, I am in awe of anyone who can complete the A-Z. I’ve never tried it. Not very ambitious, huh? I also missed your five words challenge…uh, I’m not winning this month. But you clearly are winning. Love the coaching shots and pepsi and poptart for breakfast? So, that’s how you do it!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Lisa – it’s a crazy mission, but I’m glad for all the reps it gets me on the keyboard. I want to keep a portion of the pace so I can write other places, too.

      If you get a chance, drop me an email and I’ll give you the six-words for May. It’s a good one. I’m not sure about me winning, but I’m within a touchdown, I feel.

      A lot of times I don’t think to take pictures at the field, and maybe that’s good – maybe it means I’m too engaged in the present to worry about it! Poptarts always seem like a viable option, although admittedly, these weren’t wonderful. Give me the classic strawberry any day!

  13. Awesome! Good job on reducing your impact. I’m conservative too (proud to be!) and think it’s sad we feel like we have to prove that we can want to be a little green, too. Lol….

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Katherine! Every time we travel, and pass a McDonald’s on a Saturday, I think of the dozens of bags of trash they must each produce, and it’s mind-blowing.

      Yes, no political leaning has cornered the market on green living – there are extremes I won’t venture to, but there are simple things anyone who cares for their home can do, right?

  14. stomperdad says:

    I think Michelle might like that jersey. Not enough orange and black for my liking. That is an ideal breakfast for watching a futbol match. Gabi might only be worth $270 but her value is immeasurable. Just like our “experienced” bodies.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Let’s see if she happens by and sees this, Eric. I appreciated it while I wore it (it’s in great shape), but purple and black are where it’s at.

      Gabi is definitely franchise-tagged on this team. I pondered the similarities between she and I as I drove to a road game yesterday, over rolling hills and curvy roads, and decided I need to take better care of both.

  15. Miriam says:

    Nice post Eli, I think you’re doing well and better than a lot of us. And any form of gratitude is brilliant, can’t beat a hand written note. Great photos too. Have a mindful and mind blowing May

  16. Eli,

    I like your A to Z theme and you’re right everyone loves handwritten letters. It’s a lost art! Years ago I was into pen palling and at one point I had nearly 200 pals from around the globe. Most were stateside because international postage is ridiculous. Anywho, I’ve been meaning to write a special letter to one of my children and your reflection post reminded me of this which I may undertake today. Your random photos tickled me, especially the one of the soda and pop tart which is an unlikely combo for this gal. I’d have to replace the soda with a cup of coffee. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts and congrats on finishing the A2Z race!

    ~Curious as a Cathy
    Art Sketching Through the Alphabet Reflections

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Cathy. I’ve fallen way behind in the letter writing but will make progress today. I had a penpal in fourth grade for school!

      You were a pro at this, though. Did you get packages from friends? Actually, I did later in life, too, one from Belarus, in fact, who sent me newspapers and other things.

      I hope you get to your letter to your child!

      The pop tart and soda were my only choices! The pop tart wasn’t stellar, but I did need the caffeine. What a gorgeous day.

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