Saturday, May 7, 2016

#Ato Z Challenge Reflections

April showers, here in upstate New York, have brought....May showers.  But, despite the gloom, the flowers are coming out.  Could our last frost date be far behind?

Here's a hanging basket I made for you, my readers. I love you all!  (Really, I do.  From the bottom of my spring-besotted heart.  Do you mind if I hang it in front of my house?  It will be for all of us, but I'll take care of it for you.  How's that?)
Normally, on Saturdays, I have a Local Saturdays feature.  Not today.  I am going to do some reflecting on the past month.

I completed my second annual Blogging for A to Z Challenge.  It's a once a year challenge - on April first, your blog post must be about something beginning with "A".  On the second day, "B", and so forth, excluding Sundays, which are an "off" day.  Thank you, whoever kept the English alphabet to 26 letters. 

My theme was Days of Our Lives, and I managed to keep the theme for almost every day of the challenge. Considering that I have blogged daily for over five years now (my 5th year daily blogaversary came during the Challenge, in fact), doing this A to Z is a challenge I relish.  I'm already starting to plan for next April.

The staff and minions of A to Z work hard to police the challenge, making sure that only people serious about the challenge post their links on the website, and making sure that people who signed up are really participating.  If they aren't, they are ejected.  This makes it so much easier for us who are seriously trying to participate.  NOT, mind you, compete.  I love the vibes of this Challenge.

Reading the stories of those who completed the challenge is even better.

Especially after you read posts like this one: bloggers like Mary, who go on despite hard challenges, are what blogging (and life) are all about. 

My A to Z experience was a little bit more common.  I was gone from home for most of the first two weeks. I managed to work some of my experiences into a couple of the posts, such as the one for "Z".  

For three days, I had no Internet access, staying at a cousin's house who has no WiFi, during a weather event that gave a nasty surprise to parts of the Northeast United States.  For another three nights I was in a motel in Virginia whose Internet wasn't the best. 

So I found myself unable to do what the Challenge is all about - reading new blogs, commenting, building relationships - during the first few days, the peak times when the majority of bloggers are active.  After that, people drop out, people find favorites.  Or just get overwhelmed.  If I had one complaint about A to Z, it is that it has gotten too big.  Trying to participate is like drinking from a fire hose, as we say here in the States.

Ah well.  Life goes on, and I can tell you that Charlottesville, Virginia, has the most beautiful dogwoods you will ever see. 

My favorite?  This one on, of all topics, a cemetery in Brooklyn.

Despite my Internet woes, I found some blogs I am reading now, even after the challenge has ended.    Such as this one, Mumbai on a High.  And this one, Cresting the Hill.

And if I'm hungry, I will read a food blog.  Tina participated with two blogs.  It was hard enough with one, and Tina completed the challenge with two blogs. 

This challenge has staying power.  I still read a couple of blogs I found last year, and read them regularly.  Laws of Gravity, a teacher in California and a fellow crocheter.  CollectIn Texas Gal, who has quite a varied list of topics.  And, My Life in Retirement, who has completed several of these challenges. There are other blogs, too, which I didn't mention.

In that respect, the Challenge was a success.

And for that I thank you, my readers.


  1. I think you made a great point! It's just way too big. I think the first day it's very active but you don't see many visits after that. I try to visit as many as I can, but it's just SUCH a massive list. I won't be participating again, but I'll jump in and read. Maybe I'll post an April 1st blog that says, HEY, I'm not participating but I'm reading so comment back and I'll keep reading yours!

    1. Stephanie I think you are onto something. For those who are unwilling or unable to post daily, why not have more of a blog hopping challenge? I'm no expert on page rankings, but I'm guessing loads of engagement must have some positive impact even without posting daily.

    2. Stephanie and Lissa - I hope to participate again, but it is because I enjoy the challenge of a daily blog post based on an alphabet letter. And, for the first days of the challenge, my readership did increase. Didn't look to see how it influenced my monthly stats, because I don't pay too much attention to that.

  2. Congratulations, Alana. I love how you made it despite the challenges. I enjoyed the three times I did the chalenge. However, I don't think I'm going to do the challenge again - just too big and too much pressure. Sadly too, many of the connections you make through the challenge, don't last.

    1. Thank you, Corinne. What I have found is that I will like the theme bloggers chose for A to Z, then, when they go back to their "regularly scheduled blog" - it's something way different. The bloggers I keep reading are those I like, no matter what they write about.

  3. Flowers are beautiful. Congratulations on completing the challenge. I sat out of it this year. I agree it's too big to read all posts.

  4. Thanks for the mention. I think perhaps someone has forgotten that some of us do not sit here at our computers all day blogging and reading blogs. I enjoy posting and reading my favorites, but really have no time to read several hundred new blogs.

    1. Neither do I, Denise. Younger people don't realize how busy retired people are. I'm not there (at retirement) yet, but, one day....

  5. You owe my respects...blogging with such a discipline really demands a lot and completing the challenge two times is really commendable. Keep writing more and stay blessed :)

  6. I have participated two times before this year. I was more overwhelmed this year than in years past, but I think that is mostly because I hadn't been blogging regularly at all in the months preceding the challenge. I was hoping to use it as a kind of jump start back into regular blogging--but it remains to be seen how well that will work...

  7. Your first line made me laugh, that April showers brought May showers. Ah, how I remember yearning for the frosts to be over and still being in May. I miss the weather up there, I really do! (I'm in Texas now).

    I'm so impressed that you have blogged daily for FIVE years!!! That's quite an accomplishment!

    I agree that one of the challenges of this Challenge is spreading the love among all the participants. I think it's literally impossible to visit all participants and this Challenge has gotten so so big over the years. But thankfully the list stays up so we can always go visit the ones we missed at our leisure now. But it is a bit overwhelming, isn't it?

    Congrats on finishing. Nice Reflections post. And thanks for directing us to some of your favorite blogs.

    Michele at Angels Bark

  8. So glad you had a good challenge. I think I would have found three days without internet a big pain during April :).
    Tasha's Thinkings

  9. Participating in April A-Z can be hard and so very time consuming. The only way I was able to pull it off this year was by blogging ahead and not feeling too sad halfway through when I started receiving half as many comments. I think the A-Z organizers did an awesome job of sifting through the blogs and discarding anyone not participating. Didn't we start out with 1900 challengers and end with only 1300? That's a huge number of deleted blogs!

    Hopefully if you decide to A-Z next year, you won't find it so overwhelming and you'll be able to keep up. In the meantime, I'm going to click my way through some of your links. Thanks for sharing other awesome bloggers that participated! Turns out I'm already following one of them!

  10. I love the flowers! Great colours :)

    Sounds like you coped quite well without internet, I knew I'd be away quite a bit in April so internet was going to be patchy and smart phone at best, so tried to concentrate on just replying to comments on my own blog on those days.

    I only scrape the list each year, so I've employed random blog hopping as well as working down the list from my own name, so new discoveries are really haphazard!

    Mars xx
    @TrollbeadBlog from
    Curling Stones for Lego People

  11. Hello Alana! Congratulations on completing the A to Z Challenge! It's amazing that you've managed to blog daily for the last five years! I started out doing that but then stopped, then started again and have now accepted that I can only do it when "I'm in the mood" LOL Yes, half of the challenge I feel is about reading new blogs and commenting. I think this year, I tried to do that more than the previous years. I'm going to read through your A to Z posts now that the challenge is over and because there's more time for me to linger! :D

  12. April can be hard. And life goes on, even when the challenge is happening. Glad you stuck with it. Congrats. And thanks for mentioning my blog.

  13. I enjoyed finding your blog and reading some of your posts. Thanks for the links to follow!

  14. There was a "size" issue... so many people joined and many you would visit... there was nothing, that was my sadness this year... sticking with it, mmmm good! We made it...Hope you had a great time, thank you for your Reflection!
    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2016]


    Come Visit: You know you want to know if me or Hollywood... is Nuts?

  15. I didn't try to visit everybody, just those I knew and then hopped around to some of that vast number.

  16. I love the community feel of the challenge, meeting new bloggers is the best part! It is big, but I think that's part of the fun - there's something for everyone and if you can guarantee you will find some blogs you like out of that many


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