๐Ÿต #AtoZChallenge: Z is for the zoo (5 whacky facts about them)

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When we were kids, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was the bomb.

Z2020It was quite a hike. The zoo is literally on a mountain. In Colorado Springs. But when you’re young and spry, it doesn’t matter. We might not have done all the cool things the white kids in our neighborhood did, but this one was awesome.

As a dad, I got to bring my girls to zoos, too. Riverbanks Zoo & Garden. Greenville (S.C.) Zoo. North Carolina Zoo. Knoxville Zoo. Man, those are some great memories.

Today, Iโ€™m wrapping up the A to Z Challenge with a limp โ€“ coming in with wacky facts I found about zoos. Hey, Q, X, and Z are the biggest challenges of the month!
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๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿซ #AtoZChallenge: T is for teacher book review – Schooled, by Stephanie Jankowski

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I’m not even kidding … this is a book review! And I read it all by myself.

Book review:

Schooled: A Love Letter to the Exhausting, Infuriating, Occasionally Excruciating Yet Somehow Completely Wonderful Profession of Teaching

By Stephanie Jankowski

T2020Stephanie, the loveable voice of the blog When Crazy meets Exhaustion, has written a book! She’s a long-time blogging friend of mine and I’ve loved her work for years.

Schooled is a collection of stories from the field. Her essays are humorous, sincere, and beckon to every crush on a teacher I ever had. As a dad of three kids, it gave me insight into what life is like on the other side of the desk.

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๐Ÿ“š #AtoZChallenge: J is for Jess Cohn, an interview with a senior acquisitions editor, for #GirlsRock

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I don’t know who these little guys are.

I aspire to read at a fraction of the volume some of you do.

J2020I’d love to savor books on the order than I savor Totino’s pizza. (Not every day, but when I do, I savor it, and that’s how I imagine it must be to get into a good book. Like a supreme Totino’s pizza.)

Someone must decide which stories present the most compelling reads – even before we talk design for book covers or what wine to serve with chips and salsa at our book signings. These things are also important.

Isn’t that what we should be thinking about?

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๐Ÿ”š #AtoZChallenge: E is for End-of-your-career awards

stormtrooper toilet paper sunday apr 5 photo opp silverwoodI have several entries stuck in a worn edition of 300 Writing Prompts that I will share during the #AtoZChallenge.

E2020The one is in response to the prompt:ย It is the end of your career and you are up on stage being presented with a major award. What award is it, and what have you won it for? Global pandemics tend to shed a different light on such topics.

But I wrote this response long before the COVID took hold.

I think it’s good to reflect on such things. My day will someday come. The thought now is, what will I do between then and now? Plenty. And some of nothing. And a lot that can’t be classified as either.

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โœ๏ธ 300 Writing Prompts: Write the first few lines of your children’s book

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When I left Red Ventures, my friend, Brittany, gifted me a book called 300 Writing Prompts. When I fly, I ask the person lucky enough to sit next to me to choose a prompt for me to write. (Sometimes, I just pick my own.)

This one, I picked.

Youโ€™re a childrenโ€™s book writer. Write the first few lines of your new book. This one is about Jamal Tamal, a little boy with a big imagination (I might know how it feels.) He imagines himself in incredible predicaments, which become real-life trouble.

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#GirlsRock: An Interview with health and wellness advocate Holli Nesbitt ๐Ÿ’ฎ

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A stormtrooper poses with Christmas balls at an antique mall one day.

Oh, man – it’s good to be back.

Before I start writing again, I want to share with you a handful of wonderful interviews for #GirlsRock. For the uninitiated – #GirlsRock is an interview series that highlights women who do cool things.

Holli Nesbitt and I met on Facebook, and I quickly learned how passionate she is about helping people find better health.

During my time at ACN, I’ve seen how challenging network marketing can be. It takes someone special, with people skills and perseverance. You can’t have one without the other – and Holli has both in abundance.

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๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿณ Daddy in the Kitchen: Leftish Meat-Free Minestrone

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I play right into the stereotype.

All this burger-pizza-taco talk gives a boy a reputation. There are worse reps, yes. Like, kale-edamame-tofu. Blech. But even we hardcore enchilada chompers veer off script.

It’s like Metallica doing a cover of The Carpenters – strange, but you can’t look away.

Recently, I wiped the graham cracker crumbs off my shirt and made minestrone. That’s a soup, for all you less-refined. I guess you can call it minestrone soup.

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๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿฝ 5 Reasons You Should Fall In Love With Aging

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Writingโ€™s been a bit of a struggle of late.

Not the writing that pays the bills. Although, thatโ€™s been a slough too, to be honest. I read lots of cool newsletters and emails about writing newsletters and emails. They help. They add skills or ideas or just gumption.

You can do stuff with gumption.

I have a secret writing process Iโ€™ll never fully disclose. It involved random choices and brainstorming and generally thinking within rules I set for myself so that I can think outside the box. Well, it probably wouldnโ€™t make much sense to describe anyway.

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๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿซ Mindful Monday | How do I even โ€ฆ sharpen my focus?

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Holiday weekends are hell on a to-do list.

And they should be! Who wants to tick off things on a list when others are busy getting sunburned at the racetrack/festival/lake? Yet, for me, thereโ€™s always stuff. And I love that. If itโ€™s not fathering stuff or soccer stuff, itโ€™s stuff I must do as a writer and freelancer.

Iโ€™m so much better at this than I was just months ago. Weeks, even.

I didnโ€™t get this lightning-bolt moment of the mindful upgrade. It came slow and steady, boring, really. A tweak here to the routine. Catching up on email. Setting rules, such as scrapping non-personalized email after it sits two days in the inbox.

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#AtoZChallenge: D is for Drawing the Line

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You don’t have to be a star, baby, to be in my show. ๐ŸŽถ

Note: This post comes from a prompt in the book 300 Writing Prompts. On a flight from Charlotte to Phoenix last June, I asked the girl in the seat next to me to choose a prompt from the book for me to write about.

AtoZ2019DWhen I finished, the topic sparked an interesting conversation Iโ€™ll never forget.

The prompt:

Are there any lines that you simply will not cross?

Yes – although I canโ€™t promise I never have, or I never will.

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