Archive of ‘Ultimate Blog Challenge’ category

A Challenging July

Well, friends, today is the last day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge, and I’ve done 27 out of 31 posts this month. I’m going to call that a win for me! I actually took on three separate challenges this past month, and completing them all has not been easy. But I put in the time and effort, so I’m giving myself high marks. Here are my results.

The Ultimate Blog Challenge

I’m thrilled with the 27 posts I’ve written this month. It is not easy to come up with a new topic every day, and I am proud to report that I only skipped four days. But this challenge was never really a numbers game for me. I came into it wanting to establish a daily writing habit, and I did. I carved out time to write and made it a priority. On the days when the words wouldn’t come, I didn’t fret about imposter syndrome or writer’s block. I took those days to mean I needed a break. Giving up was never an option because I knew the words would be there when I returned to my laptop.

I want to thank Paul Taubman, our UBC leader, who sent daily emails of ideas and encouragement for the entire month. I didn’t always take your suggestions, but I save every last one of them for when I need inspiration. I also want to thank everyone who read and commented on these blogs. Your support means the world to me, and as long as you keep reading, I’ll keep writing.

(And please subscribe so you don’t miss any posts. There is plenty more to come! 🙂 )

No Book Buy July

This challenge came to me from another blogger who suggested a “no buy July.” I was intrigued by the idea but didn’t want to go all in. So, I modified it not to buy books for the entire month. It took a lot of discipline not to download books from Audible or visit my local indie bookstore, but I made it through without buying one book. And boy, was I tempted! I didn’t stop listening to book-themed podcasts or ignore Facebook groups that I subscribe to, like Currently Reading. 

I planned to shop my shelves and read books I already own. Sadly, I only read one book and DNF’d two other ones. So, it wasn’t the best reading month for me. But at least I don’t have more books to choose from because I have plenty already. I’ll probably extend this challenge til the end of the summer and then hit up a few indie bookstores while we are on vacation in September. I can’t deny myself the pleasure of buying books forever, but another month will be good for the bank account and my personal library.

Step Challenge

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about the step challenge. I am continuing my streak of 10K steps daily and am at eight days straight. Today was a beautiful day for walking, so Chloe and I took a nice stroll around the neighborhood. This challenge also includes incentives to add bonus miles to our team total. Last week, I accomplished all three incentives – walking 10K steps for five days straight, walking with a new friend, and walking in a new location. Here is hoping our team is in second place this week. I know I did my part and will continue to do so.

Did you do any challenges this summer? How did it go? Let me know in the comments!


10K Steps a Day

Every year, our swim club holds a community step challenge. Participants are divided into teams and count our steps for the week. On Mondays, we total up our steps in the hopes of placing first for the week and thus assert the proper bragging rights.

Recently my team, known as the Later Gators, drifted from second to third place, and so I decided to step up my game (so to speak). Until this past week, I was averaging about 25K-30K steps a week while everyone on my team surpassed me with their superhuman 80K, 90K, and 100K step totals. It was getting to the point where I was embarrassed to submit my total for the week. This week, I decided, would be different – and it was! I hit an all-time high on my weekly step count – 90,670 steps! 🙂

How did I do it? I honestly have no idea, but it helped to wake up earlier and make sure I did a nice walk every morning. Once I had an initial three or four thousand steps before noon, finishing the day with over 10K was much easier.

On Sunday, Scott and I walked through our neighborhood and ventured onto the 2.5-mile loop across the road at Twining Park. This park used to be a golf course, but now it is being renovated to include a huge dog park, a paved walking path, and an off-road bike trail. Eventually, the township plans to install pickleball courts and a pavilion. It was fun to walk through and see all of the progress being made.

I woke up Monday and realized my cleaning people were coming that day. I worked up quite a sweat from the number of times I walked up and down the stairs to put things away. My step count skyrocketed. From there, I did a bunch of errands and parked my car far away from the front entrance to facilitate more walking. Over the next two days, I made sure I got up off my butt and walked. My Fit-Bit is set with an hourly reminder to let me know it was time to move. Depending on the weather, I took a stroll around the block or drove to the air-conditioned mall for walking and window shopping. YAY! Multitasking!

Also, I have been drinking a ton of water lately, so no doubt that the extra trips to the bathroom helped too!

Thursday and Friday were big walking days because I was out spending time with friends, and lots of steps were accumulated. For my big finish, I helped Jenna move into her new apartment yesterday. There was no elevator, and her place was on the third floor. This was the perfect way to end my already fantastic week of walking. Not only did I get in a ton of steps, but I added some weight training because I carried a lot of boxes. This kid has A LOT of clothes!

I feel good about this accomplishment. And at least this week, I’ll be able to submit my step count and show my face at the pool again.



Forever Friends

“Close friends are truly life’s treasures. Sometimes they know us better than we know ourselves.”
-Vincent Van Gogh

“A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.”
– Unknown

Growing up, my friendships were full of drama—girl drama, to be exact. One week, my friends and I were BFFs and the next mortal enemies, and then we were back to sitting together at lunchtime in the school cafeteria. In college, it wasn’t much better. I had a roommate who I considered to be a good friend but who belittled me at every chance she could and took advantage of me (and my car) when she needed me most.

By the time I was in my early 20s, I could count the number of close friends I had on one hand and one of them just moved to another part of the country. I figured everyone else would keep in touch or not, and it didn’t matter to me which way that went. Thankfully, I have friends now that I would have loved to have had growing up. I wish I didn’t have to wait years to meet them, but I’m forever grateful to them. Here are two quick stories that represent my friends.


Yesterday, I met Susie in Philadelphia for dinner and drinks. Susie and I met at professional conferences back in the day when we were both program directors at our respective synagogues. We represent half of a quartet of women who had similar jobs, and though we’ve moved on from those positions, we kept in touch over the years. Susie is from Denver, Karen lives in Dallas, and Judy is in San Diego. So when Susie told me she was coming to town this month, I marked my calendar and made sure I was available. The chance for any of us to see each other in person is rare these days, and I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to give her a huge hug.

Even though it was her birthday weekend, she came bearing gifts. She bought me a new umbrella because I left mine in her backpack the last time we saw each other. That was seven years ago, but she always wanted to replace it. She also brought me my favorite breath mints —orange tic tacs. I always carry a box in my purse, and when she sees them, she thinks of me. How sweet is that!

What a fun night! After a great meal with Susie and her siblings, laughing and catching up like old times, we hung out in her hotel lobby until it was time to say goodbye. We are already talking about our next meet-up.


And now, let me tell you about my second group of friends, the ones I have a lot of fun with, a lot of deep conversations with, and who I share my life with. Jill is one of these friends. We also come to each other’s rescue at a moment’s notice. Like today, when I lost my wallet for a brief period of time. After a trip to the city to see an exhibit at the Franklin Institute and have lunch, we realized we got on the wrong train home. We couldn’t believe it because we had both taken the train hundreds of times before. But we made the mistake of trusting two SEPTA employees who gave us the wrong information.

Anyway, we were so thrown off that we decided to disembark at the next stop and call her husband to come pick us up. To make a long story short, I soon discovered I no longer had my wallet with me. I swore up and down I left it on the train. Without hesitation, Jill jumped into my car to help me retrace my steps. I reported my wallet missing at the lost and found and decided to return to the train station and hijack the next train to see if my wallet was still in my seat. She was on board.

Side note – Can you hijack a train? 

Anyway, I was so distraught. I hate when I do stupid things. But Jill kept me calm and was convinced we would find it. She told me she believed in the kindness of strangers. She even shared her theory that because the train was traveling away from the city, the likelihood of someone stealing it was minimal. She is a persuasive lawyer and good under pressure, so I believed her.

This is what a good friend does. She gives me the hope I’m looking for even though I fully expect to spend my weekend standing in line at the DMV and calling the bank and credit card companies to replace everything. Jill asked me what else was in my wallet, and that was when my heart sank even further.

“I had a $5 off coupon for my next manicure in there,” I told her.

“Noooo!” Such a good friend, Jill understood this immediately and could sympathize.

Son of a bitch! I spent a lot of time paying full price for my manicures. I earned that coupon!

Anyway, we drive back to the station, ready to accost the train conductor and demand to be let back on the train. But it turned out that wasn’t necessary. My wallet was right where I left it —lying on a nearby bench on the platform. We hugged and cried with joy. Okay, she didn’t cry, but I got a little teary-eyed (good thing I have eye drops for that!).

Thank God for my friends who live near and far, who tell me what I need to hear or hug me in person or virtually when I need it. I am grateful to all of you and love you dearly.


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