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e is for ending the stupid alphabet challenge

Stop sign

Okay, that’s not really fair. The alphabet challenge isn’t stupid. It’s actually really fun and a great way to discipline yourself to write for 26 days and to give you a context in which to find topics to write about.

It was just stupid of me to take it on in December.

After all, I had just written my last NaBloPoMo post and specifically told you I was stepping back in December to get some real-life stuff accomplished. But then my evil temptress friend Elin decided to continue NaBloPoMo this month, and then those damn, tempting apples came along

I could easily continue on, but why? I had other goals for this month, and all of you are too busy with the holidays to read my posts every single day anyway.

Because the Universe likes to give you a gentle nudge now and then, last night I was awakened, in the middle of the night, by the full moon shining into our bedroom. It was like someone had turned on all the lights in the room — and in my head.

I had this striking realization that sometimes quitting is exactly the right thing to do. I no longer finish books just because I started them. I turn off movies that are boring me. And, if the alphabet challenge isn’t in line with my goals right now, well, conveniently I’m up to the letter “e” for “ending.”

This is wisdom that has come with age.

I used to finish every book I started, just because it seemed like the right thing to do. Same with movies. Same with writing.

At the age of 55, this is no longer the case. I don’t want to waste my time. Maybe time is becoming more precious. Maybe I’m more sure of the things that are important to me.

My wise friend, Ruth, would remind me that categorizing is a good way to stimulate the brain and so is thinking about something from a different perspective. So rather than just plain quitting, I’m going to shake things up a little and tie the alphabet challenge to that list of goals I originally had planned for this month. You know, the ones I was ready to toss aside to play this game.

I’m now going to delve deeper and more meaningfully into the alphabet challenge, incorporating it into my real life rather than my blog posts.

If I can get through this list, the alphabet challenge will end up being one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. On December 31, I will share what I’ve accomplished in order to keep myself accountable. These are all very manageable items that can be accomplished to some degree in the next three weeks.

Imagine starting off the new year feeling productive and empowered. You could forget about those overwhelming resolutions that are often too lofty to be attainable. That sounds amazing to me.

Want to play along? What’s on your list?

Here’s mine, moving right along to the letter F.

* Find additional outlets to write for

* Get overdue doctor check-ups

* Have lunch with my friends

* Interview authors

* Join the real world and put down the phone

* Keep up with bills, posts, piles of stuff

* Laptop shop and lightbulb change

* Mail out boxes of books to everyone who ordered them

* Nurture the people I love

* Organize that room

* Plan a family trip

* Quiet my mind. I know, lots of luck with that one.

* Redesign my home page

* Spend time with Michael

* Transfer the rest of my videos to DVD, now that my son taught me how

* Unsubscribe from unnecessary mailing lists

* Visit my parents more often

* Watch the movies I still haven’t seen for our San Diego Film Critics Society end of the year vote

* Xchange my old Time Warner Cable box for a new one

* Yank myself out of my chair and get moving

* Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


  1. Yes, yes, and yes. You are absolutely right to follow your e is for ending middle of the night nudge, said she who also overcommits. We should all give our energies to things that matter, to us. And when they matter to us, the marvelous maturing women that we are. The list looks huge to me, but I have no doubt that YOU can do it!

  2. Lois Alter Mark says:

    Thank you! The list is really not bad — it’s just prioritizing those things instead of coming up with a daily alphabet post. And, yes, my fellow overcommitter, we do have to finally learn to give our energies to things that matter to us. Imagine how much we could all accomplish together that way.

  3. Oh how I love this list! You’ve inspired me to do the same. Though, I’ll start with my D: I need new Drapes in my bedroom. As for overcommitting, be gentle with yourself. I was planning to do 2-3 posts a week, and I only got one out and still have one in draft. It’s okay.

  4. My list is atop my BR bookcase and I’m in Budapest (words I never thought I’d say). But I made one, too, for the month of Dec. and have spent plenty of time talking to my Michael about the new year and support I need from him for some important goals.

  5. I love that you shifted to a list that fit with how you feel right now! I too am guilty of obsessively finishing as if it were a badge of honor or some crazy thing!

    I also love the idea of the new and improved alphabet challenge! Sounds like a good brain and life challenge :)!

    Thank you so much for the nod – you are awesome!

  6. Yea I tried doing an A_Z challenge two years ago and never finished. I had too much on my plate at that time.

  7. I love this idea! I also always felt I HAD to finish things. Guess I’m either lazy now or just not inclined anymore. Yup. Being 55 has its advantages.

    We should have done a linkup for this challenge because it’s so brilliant! Here are some of mine:

    A for Absolutely call Lois whenever I can
    B for blowing kisses your way
    C for cutting you off when you tell me about the perfect weather in SD
    D for devoting more time to chatting away with you.

    Well, you get the idea. Corny or not, there you go! Tell Ruth I began the challenge right here on your blog.

    Oh, E for Every day be grateful for the day I met you for 15 minutes in Manhattan. The rest, as they say, is history.

  8. Cheers to you for turning the challenge into what works for you. Today, my day is sponsored by the letter T — meaning TOO much to do!

    Oh, and the letter A as I AGREE wholeheartedly with you on not completing books that don’t catch your fancy. I recently read if you don’t want to continue after the number of pages of your age, then don’t.

  9. Oh how I love this, Lois! Good for you. Great list and great way to redirect yourself back to personal goals. And you are right, this month is pretty nuts! What I love most in this post is the wisdom that comes with age. Knowing when to put that book down, turn that movie off, re-direct the alphabet game, let the moon fill you up…and then heed it’s message; all great stuff. xoxo
    PS About that lunch…

  10. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says:

    Haha, I Love it. I would have given up on the letter B, though, so good for you for sticking it out 3 letters longer than I would have.

  11. I am with you. I stop reading books if I don’t like them within 20 pages. I also watch movies on Netflix and if bad off it goes as well. 66 gives me 66 reasons to be attentive to me and no longer need to please everyone anymore. Good or you Lois.

  12. I have friends that do the A to Z challenge. I just don’t have the time… nor the want.

  13. Great list. I can see why this would be a great thing to implement.

  14. I’ve been having trouble with overcommitting online and forgetting my main goals, too. It’s easy to get caught up in a fun challenge or something, but we have to be mindful of what we’re spending our time on.

  15. This reminds me of playing the alphabet sign naming game while on one of those family road trips as a kid.

  16. Sarah Walker Caron (Sarah by the Sea) says:

    I think prioritizing the things that really matter to you is a very smart move. One of the greatest things we can do for ourselves is listen to that inner voice — the one that sometimes says “nah, this isn’t working.”

  17. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    What a great idea! Now you’ve inspired me to list my goals. Seeing them on the screen (instead of trying to remember them in my head) might work better for me.

  18. Good luck getting through the alphabet! You can do it 🙂

  19. Melissa Smith says:

    This sounds like a really good challenge. But I don’t think I’d even consider it until the new year or else I might get certifiably crazy! LOL

  20. I dont think I would have been able to do this. I’m not creative or disciplined enough at all!

  21. Sometimes a challenge is just what you need for fresh ideas and extra motivation. If you’ve got ideas and motivation planned out, you can always join in the next challenge!

  22. Chrissy Mazzocchi says:

    It looks like a fun game but I agree with you. I tried to lay off the blogging for a bit but I just can’t lol

  23. Since I’m know for shortcuts and skim reading when preparing to teach a homeschooling subject, I am using those made skills here. Therefore here is my list,
    F:Friends that I get to share time with
    P: Plagiarizing–as in I may steal this whole IDEA and give myself an out. 😉
    S: San Diego
    Y: Yes, yes, yes!

  24. There is a lot on that list! I don’t know if I would take on an everyday challenge in December. You are much braver than me 🙂

  25. I am not sure that I could have gotten past the letter A during the month of December. I give you a lot of credit for making tit to E.

  26. This is probably the first out of 4 years that I didn’t do the A-Z challenge – I actually just forgot about it. I have had a crazy year and am working this month so I would have failed miserably at such an endeavor. I would have needed to prewrite and auto publish my posts. Like that would ever happen. hahahahaha. No really. lol

  27. Haha! It’s tough to get anything done in December, let along an alphabet challenge! That’s got to take back seat.

  28. Nice post. Love that you made it work your way.

  29. I don’t think I could have made it through the alphabet either any month.. Let alone December.. December is for never managing to finish everything 😉

  30. LOL at Sarah’s comment. I am inclined to agree with her. Dec. is so busy!!

    I laughed at your comment about finishing books… I used to do that too, but now if I’m not interested after a good go at it, I’ll stop. Took awhile to get over that guilt of stopping, hahaha…sad but true. 🙂

  31. Love your new list, it sounds doable and practical. I need to get on some of them, especially unsubscribing to email lists!

  32. I love this list! I think I will take it with me into the new year and use it for my kids and my blog.

  33. Plan a family trip sounds fun. Much more practical to do it that way! 😉

  34. I love making lists of my goals and this challenge looks like fun!

  35. You are so funny! My favorite letter is ZZZZzzzzzzzzzz!

  36. This is a great post, I love the idea of an alphabet challenge! In all honesty though, at this point, I think I would need to make TWO alphabet lists…

  37. An alphabet challenge – that is so awesome and a great activity to do too.

  38. I could really use a catch on some Zzzzzzz’s myself, awesome list and I hope you achieve it all!

  39. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who has taken on way too much in December. I’m inundated with work too.

  40. This is a fantastic idea. I wonder if maybe it would help get me motivated this year! haha!

  41. I’m not much of a list person, but I love this idea! Thanks much for inspiring me to try something different!

  42. A great list. I think it is with age that not finishing everything you start is really OK. Food items too. If it is not yummy I don’t waste the calories.

  43. Yes, sometimes quitting is about starting over. Making the list your own is awesome.

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