Gone: A Few Favorites from the 2013 Blogging A to Z Challenge

By : Kieron Walker

When I set out to do the Blogging A to Z Challenge for the first time last year, I had no idea what to expect. I wasn't a stranger to having a blog, but I had never really been involved in anything that would keep me on a frequent posting schedule. I signed up for it hoping that it would teach me more discipline in posting regularly, and give me a chance to test out a few new writing styles.

Nobody could have prepared me for the most fun aspect of the Challenge...the community. From the first day to the last, I met other people through comments on my own blogs and visited a ton of blogs I otherwise wouldn't have known about.

Looking back at last year's challenge brings back plenty of good memories, but also some sad ones because a few of my favorite blogs/bloggers are gone. Not gone as in dead, but gone as in no longer posting. I just wanted to take a moment to mention them in case anyone wanted to read through their old posts.

Sadly, it looks like Yvonne's blog is completely offline now. It was a great combination of poetry and music. She was officially my first visitor in last year's challenge, and she stopped by for almost every single one of my posts during the A to Z. I'm hoping to run across her somewhere in this year's Challenge, so if you've seen her somewhere please let me know.
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Facebook: What Are Your Reasons for Posting?

By : Kieron Walker

I know I've been slacking a bit on my posts for the Blogging A to Z Challenge. I never thought sharing a laptop with my daughter would be so difficult until now. In any case, I am hoping to get on a better routine so I can get everything posted before she starts watching YouTube.

Last week, I was on the phone with one of my best friends from college. We're as close as brothers, but we tend to go through these phases where we don't speak very often. This usually isn't a problem for us because we always have Facebook to fall back on to make sure we are caught up on each other's lives.

Recently, I noticed that for whatever reason he decided to take down his Facebook page. Initially, I had the thought that maybe I had been deleted as a friend, but then I knew there had to be another reason. So during our phone conversation, I just came right out and asked.

He laughed at me when I mentioned that I thought I might have been a victim of the "unfriend" button. That part made me glad because we've been through so much as friends, and I would have hated for that to be the reason we were no longer in touch.

After reassuring me that there weren't any major problems or drama that led to his decision to leave Facebook, he pretty much just said that it was time for a break. In his words, he noticed that he was posting events and photos for the wrong reasons. Rather than just sharing information with his friends, he found himself sharing things just to see how many "likes" he could get.

In addition to trying to gather as many "likes" as possible, he also found himself getting bummed when pictures weren't getting enough attention. Rather than being a tool to share with friends, Facebook was starting to dictate part of his self-esteem. The good part of the story is that he realized what was happening, and he made the choice to step away from Facebook until he feels the time is right to make a return.

It all made me wonder just how many people are out there using it simply as a popularity contest. And even if they are, is it really any different from what people do in real life?

So you tell me, what got you interested in Facebook in the first place? And what is your motivation for posting and sharing things now?
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Education: Should I Go Back to College?

By : Kieron Walker

I miss being a student. I graduated back in 2000 with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Vanderbilt University. I've gone back to graduate school a couple of times to take some coursework in Education and Social Work, but I haven't been a full-fledged college student in about 15 years.

There are days when I want to go back to college, but for some reason I can never pull the trigger. Sometimes I'll have the best reasons for wanting to pursue a degree again, and other times I talk myself back out of it. Here are some of the questions that have come up so far that have kept me from applying:

What Am I Going to Study?

This should probably be the easiest question to answer, but it's always been one of the toughest ones for me. Some people know right off the bat what they are good at, and what they want to spend their lives doing. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people.

I've always had a ton of interests, and it's never been easy for me to pick just one that I'd love to study more about. When I was in undergrad, I spent the first two years flipping through the course catalog trying to decide on a major. My sister and I used to joke about what my "major of the week" was every time we talked on the phone.

Having to decide on a degree program right now is no easier than it was years ago. Should I decide on a field that's high in demand? Should I follow my heart and do something I love? Should I find a way to combine the two?

How Am I Going to Pay for It?

The financial side of things is probably the greatest reason I haven't gone back. I've got enough prior student loan debt and other debts that it shouldn't even be a hard decision to let school pass. Although I know my student loans would defer while I'm a student, I'm not sure compiling more debt is going to help in the long run.

There is always the chance that my degree could lead to a much higher paying job, but that's a pretty big gamble to take. Not to mention the fact that I would love to actually pay off some stuff before my own daughter goes off to college in about twelve years.

Maybe I could get myself a scholarship somewhere. I've never done any research on it, but I'm sure there have to be scholarship programs for middle-aged parents that want to go back to school. If not, there definitely should be.

Will It Help My Career Opportunities?

If I decide to take classes in my current field, there is no guarantee that it will help me get a better paying job/position. I remember when I graduated back in 2000 there were companies practically bidding to take students straight out of college. Nowadays, companies are cutting back on employees and competition is fierce among candidates.

Honestly, I'm not sure if a degree is more valuable than actual life experience at this point. When people look at my resume, are they checking my education or just my job experience? While getting the degree may be fulfilling for me, is it really doing anything for them?

Do I Have Time for Any of This?

Unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in the day and many of mine are already filled with work and being a parent. Thankfully, there are programs for students that have full-time jobs and families, but I still don't know if I would even have time to devote to my studies. I know that I'd be committed if I started, but I wouldn't want to slack off as an employee or a father.

So I've got a ton of questions left to answer before I go back to school. I'd love to make it happen, but I want it to be for the right reasons. If any of you have experience as a non-traditional student or know of someone that went back to school later in life, I'd love to hear about it.
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Day Off: Another Case of the Lazies

By : Kieron Walker

Today was my day off from work. Last weekend I had to put in eight hours on a Sunday, so I was rewarded with a Friday off this week.

All week I've been thinking of things I needed to get done today, with the hopes that I'd actually get up and be productive. By the time I went to bed last night, here are the things I was looking forward to scratching off my list:

  1. Fold up all of my clean clothes and throw in the last load of dirty laundry.
  2. Wash the dishes.
  3. Clean up my daughter's room.
  4. Get my car inspected.
  5. Stop by the grocery store.
So now it is the end of the day, and here is what I've actually accomplished:

  1. Watched Battlestar Galactica.
  2. Watched Battlestar Galactica.
  3. Watched more Battlestar Galactica.
Normally I'd feel a little bit guilty about not getting anything done, but for today I'm going to embrace it. And go watch a little more Battlestar Galactica.

Are you generally productive or lazy on your days off?
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Cartoons: My All-Time Favorites

By : Kieron Walker

I was born in 1977, so I consider myself a child of Saturday morning and after school cartoon shows. Sometimes I'll sit with my daughter to watch her favorite television shows, and I almost feel sorry for her. Disney Channel and Nickelodeon are great, but nothing beats waking up at 9am on a Saturday to faithfully flip through the local channels.

For today's "C" post, I'm focusing on five of my all-time favorite animated television shows from my childhood.

Challenge of the Super Friends

This is one of the few cartoons where I used to openly cheer for the bad guys to win. There was something about the Legion of Doom that just made them seem so cool. How could 13 of the world's biggest villains not win at least once?


My sister turned me on to Robotech when I was in middle school. We used to come home and watch it faithfully every day after school. They did an awesome job of blending the plot so it had plenty of action and even a little romance. As much as I hate to say it, I almost wouldn't mind if they made a modern day television series out of this one.

GI Joe

There's no way I could make this list without including GI Joe. Between the cartoons and the action figures, the Joes were such a huge part of my childhood. I'm not sure if they would even be allowed on tv today with all the shooting and guns. However, I think it's safe to say no Cobra officers ever died despite the billions of shots fired.

Danger Mouse

Nothing beats a secret agent mouse with an English accent...nothing. I can't even fully remember when Danger Mouse started coming on television, but once it did I never missed an episode. I even bought my sister the DVD box set for this one for the timeless humor.

Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids

I absolutely loved everything about Bill Cosby's Fat Albert cartoon series. The characters were so memorable, and we always got those warm fluffy life lessons given to us at the end of the episode. Sometimes I'm surprised this one never came back in syndication, but I guess some of the material might have come across as a little out of date.

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Bucket List: Things to Do Before I Die

By : Kieron Walker

We made it to Day 2 of the Blogging A to Z Challenge! While it might not seem like much, I haven't put together consecutive days of writing in a long time. I don't know about you, but I'm already ready to celebrate.

For today's topic, I'm going to focus on my bucket list. Unlike a lot of people, I've never really sat down and created a huge list of things I want to do before I die. But in the spirit of the letter "B", I'm going to toss out a few things. Maybe I can expand on the list in some future posts.

Travel to the Grand Canyon

I've flown to the West Coast a handful of times, and I'm always amazed when the plane flies close to the Grand Canyon. Although I don't really consider myself much of a nature freak anymore, I still think it is so cool that a place so beautiful exists.

I've got a few friends that actually live in Arizona, so this one might not be too difficult to achieve anymore. Maybe if I'm lucky I could even find a way to hike down into the Canyon and spend the night. Then again, I'm pretty sure there are scorpions and rattlesnakes down there too. I'd be content with just some good photographs instead of the camping.

Attend the Final Four

College basketball is more than just a sport in my family...it's a way of life. I can remember watching March Madness with my father and sister as a child. Hell, I even remember being one of those super-fans that cried when my team lost in the NCAA tournament.

Before I'm gone, it would be too cool to actually be able to go to the Final Four. I know it's beyond difficult to get tickets since it's based on a lottery system, but it never hurts to dream. The hardest part is that there are no guarantees that my favorite team will actually be playing that weekend. But I guess out of four teams, I should be able to find at least one to pull for.

Pay Off My Debts

So you probably laugh that this is even on my list. I probably would have laughed just as hard about ten years ago too. However, I still owe on those student loans, and my credit card bills aren't getting much smaller.

I just want to be one of those people that calls Dave Ramsey and yells, "I'm debt free!" Of course, it's going to take some work but it will be worth it in the long run. A little extra money in the pocket can go a long ways towards making some of this other stuff happen in the future.

Write a Book

In our family, I consider my sister to be the most gifted writer by far. She's actually already written a book and is working on her second one right now. After seeing how hard she's worked to get it done, I'm not sure I have what it takes to finish this goal but I still think it would be awesome to have something in print.

Of course, there is the chore of figuring out what to write about. I'm not much of a fictional type of person, so I'd have to stick with things that I know. There are a billion relationship books already in print, so I'm not sure that would work out too well either. Maybe one day I can think of a topic that I feel passionate about and make it happen.

What do you have on your bucket list? What have you already crossed off?
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Attitude: How to Improve a Negative One

By : Kieron Walker

This marks the start of the 2014 Blogging from A to Z Challenge for me and a ton of other bloggers around the world. Last year was my first year participating, and I came up just short of finishing out the whole alphabet. This year I'm out to complete the whole thing, and I'm looking forward to both writing and reading posts over the next month.

With that being said, I'm going to kick off the Challenge talking about attitude...specifically how to improve a negative one. Hopefully most of you won't have to worry about this, but for some of you it may be a wake up call. The good thing is that it's never too late to become a more positive person.

Don't Accept Your Negativity

Stop being in denial! If people are constantly avoiding you or telling you that you need to cheer up, you may want to start listening to them.While you might think you're a ray of sunshine, other people may view you as that rain cloud that won't go away.

If that's the case, don't sit back and make excuses for why your negative behavior is acceptable. Get up and do something about it!

Limit Interaction with Other Negative People

The saying "misery loves company" can be so true in many situations. How many times have you been in a bad mood and spent time with someone else that was in a bad mood? How many times did the two of you actually come out feeling a lot better?

Although I'm not saying you should cut negative people completely out of your life, you may want to limit your exposure to them when you are feeling your worst.

Notice the Positive Things Around You

When I was younger, I bought a book called "Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life" by a Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh. In it, he described ways to become more mindful of the peace that surrounds us in everyday life. Even in the most stressful situations, there are good things happening around us.

Whether it be the sunrise, children's laughter, or even the wind against our face, there are always positive things going on if we take the time to notice them. The next time you feel your mood dropping, take a deep breath and try focusing on the happiness that lies around you.

Realize that Bad Things Happen

A lot of negative thought is based in what our expectations are of certain situations. If we go into a situation expecting the best but realizing that bad could happen, it is so much easier for us to move on if the worst happens.

When we enter a situation only expecting the worst, then the worst is usually what we receive. Rather than bouncing back and wiping the slate clean, we then end up in a cycle of negativity that is hard to break.

Becoming a more positive person comes down to choice. At the end of the day, we can either choose to uplift ourselves and others around us or pull them with us. Although it may seem like an easy choice to make, for some it can be difficult. Hopefully these tips can be a good starting point for those who need them the most.

What things do you do to keep yourself on a positive note?

The Benefits of Writing Seasonal Hubs on Hubpages

By : Kieron Walker

Before I started working on this blog, I did the majority of my writing work at Hubpages. When I first started writing there, I had no clue what types of topics would get attention from search engines. Honestly, I just wrote what I found to be interesting and kept my fingers crossed that someone would come across it.

Occasionally I would wander over to the Hubpages Learning Center to study up on how to be successful at the site. While I was there, I would come across articles saying that evergreen articles were guaranteed to generate more traffic than articles that would fade over time. In this instance evergreen meant articles that people would be searching for throughout the year instead of just during one point in time.

Despite the overwhelming view that evergreen articles are the way to go when writing online content, I still believe that there is a place for seasonal articles. Two of my most successful hubs were built around holidays, and with the right strategy I believe a portfolio of seasonal hubs could still produce good traffic. Here are a few reasons why I think writing seasonal hubs can be just as beneficial as writing evergreen articles.

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Hello World, It's Me Again

By : Kieron Walker

I built this blog quite a few months ago, but didn't do much to develop it. It took me a while to get the template set up the way I wanted, and to try figuring out what I wanted to write about. To be honest, I am still trying to figure out what to write about.

In the course of looking for writing topics and niche blog ideas, I came across the Zero to Hero blog building course. Basically, it guides you through setting up a functional blog within 30 days, and after that its success is left up to me.

Seeing as I've had about 10-15 blogs that I've started but never finished, I couldn't resist giving it a try. So here we are and here we go...

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