Help! I Need Ideas For The A to Z! #atochallenge @AprilA2Z

A blogger friend reminded me about the A to Z Challenge in April. The challenge completely slipped my mind.

I’ve been successful at the last two A to Z’s but last year’s exhausted me, pushing myself to write each next installment before midnight.

Readers told me they enjoyed it and I liked the end result though I had no clue what I would write next for “Living To Die“.

But this April, I want to do something “less fiction” and more “creative non-fiction”. Short pieces that will make you think but I have no ideas for a theme or what words to use for my alphabet.

This is where I need your help.

If you are reading this right now, you likely know me and my writing style.

Please pitch me some ideas. Pretty please?

If you have never done the A to Z Challenge, I would encourage you to participate. You’ll read some great posts and make lots of new blogger-friends.

M xoxo

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30 Things You Can Still Do Before 2018 Part 2 #newyear #2018 #resolutions

Where did 2017 go?

In 2018, I need to stop treating my writing as a hobby and find more time to dedicate to it. On December 1, I started plowing through a list of 30 things to do before 2018 that will simplify and streamline my day-to-day life in the new year. Some were quick easy hits while others took a little more time but most are already completed and I’m feeling great!

I’m sharing them with you and hopefully you will find some value in it!

For items 1 to 15, you can check out my guest post today on Simon’s wonderful blog at “Planet Simon“. Please drop by and tell Simon hey!💜

16. Photos of important information: With the first snow fall of every year, I never remember how to operate my snowblower. So I took a photo of the instructions and during the recent snowstorm, I wasn’t cursing under my breath as I usually do. I also took a photo of my bank’s operating hours so that I no longer feel like an idiot rushing there to find that it closed five minutes before.

17. Declutter and deep clean the house: I went crazy mid-November and ditched NaNoWriMo to do this. Yup, I gave up on NaNo for cleaning. It started out as an innocent one day flirt but quickly turned into a hot and messy full-fledged two week affair. Oh, but it felt soooo good! My living space hasn’t felt that zen and “light” since I had the flood. Do yourself a favour and get rid of what you don’t need or use.

18. Make a list all the annoying things (not people) in your living environment: That bookshelf to install, the sticky closet door, the clothes for the shelter that you never dropped off…I took an afternoon, did what I could and will enlist a “handyman” for the more complicated tasks I can’t do myself.

19. Prepare for tax season: Every March, I stress about getting receipts and bills together. I bit the bullet, gathered the receipts I had and already placed them into a special folder. I’ll gather up the rest at the end of January and get cracking on it.

20. Schedule all medical appointments for 2018: Family doctor, dentist, optometrist, gynecologist…I even scheduled a few on the same day, morning and afternoon, to maximize my journey into the city (which is a nightmare due to ongoing construction).

21. Do something nice for yourself once a month: Get out your calendar and pencil something nice in. A relaxing massage, a mani-pedi treat…It doesn’t have to cost much. Wander around a bookstore for an afternoon, go for a walk in a local area you’ve never been before, buy a coffee and people watch through the window and scribble down story ideas. Whatever you do, keep the appointment with yourself.

22. Clean out fridge and pantry for expired products: Make it a fresh start and throw them all out. But please do not donate expired items to food banks – buy new goods for a shelter.

23. Double up on gifts: Leverage time and the holiday sales by getting birthday gifts for loved ones now. No fuss, no muss, no future last minutr stress. I used to do this and have just started doing this again. I will definitely not regret it.

24. Purchase greeting cards for the next 365 days: Birthday, Valentine, Easter, Christmas, anniversary…You have to buy them anyway so why not buy them all at once? For me, the selection of English cards with words I like (I won’t buy if the words don’t match the person I’m buying for) is limited so I’ve started buying mine whenever I see bigger and better selections elsewhere.

25. Buy home or tenant insurance: With all of the unlucky and unfortunate things that could happen, it’s better to be safe than sorry. While you’re at it, think about identity theft insurance if it’s reasonably priced.

26. Switch to LED bulbs: I have not changed my living habits and have seen a noticeable drop in my electricity bill since I did this a few months ago. That extra money is better in my pocket than with the electric company.

27. Set your 2018 goals: Not happy with your 2017 accomplishments? No time like the present to set your goals for 2018. My 2018 goals list is still a work in progress.

28. Create a playlist of your songs. A playlist for when you’re feeling happy, a playlist for when you need to concentrate and another for when you feel like crap and want to throw yourself a pity party (don’t worry, we all do it).

29. Start one tiny habit now. Like drinking an extra glass of water a day, making your bed every morning, getting up an hour earlier every day. I started the habit of NOT checking my cell while still in bed.

30. Make a “not to do list’ for 2018: I could write a book for this one but at the top of my list is to make “no” a full sentence and refrain from providing a follow-up explanation. I often find myself doing this with people who never do this with me but yet they have the nerve to ask me “Why?” Time to flip the script.

So that was my list of my 30 things to do before 2018…

What’s on your pre-2018 list?

M xoxo

#30DayChallenge: 30 Ways To Simplify My Life Before 2018

#30DayChallenge is about developing new habits life that will enhance YOUR life, by tackling 1 habit per month for 30 days in a row (inspired by Matt Cutts).

Giving up on sugar, television or being frugal this busy December is highly unrealistic.

Instead of doing “one” habit for 30 days, I’ve decided to jump-start 2018 by finding 30 ways to simplify my life BEFORE the new year starts.


I want to eliminate the little things that I never have time to do that would save me TIME in the long run so that I can put my best energy into my writing project in 2018.

Uh…yeah, you’ve heard the thing about wrapping up my novella more than once but I want it to be the last time that I say it! 🙂

I’ll be sharing my progress in the days to come and maybe you could give me a tip or two along the way!

M xoxo

#30DayChallenge: The End Of The Miracle Morning #miraclemorning

Note: I am now using the “#30DayChallenge” tag instead of the “#tribetuesdaywpchallenge” tag. In short, my original tag is too long and the “tribetuesday” tag on social media covers wayyyy too many diverse topics online. I’ve updated past posts to reflect this change.

It’s the “official” end of my Miracle Morning challenge but I will be definitely be continuing the habit.

I fully understand the hype behind the MM. Getting up extremely early with a defined focus on what I wanted to tackle before the rest of the world woke up was a catalyst for a number of things (in addition to what I mentioned in “Believing In Miracles 1.0” and “Believing In Miracles 1.1”):

I’m just kicking myself for not trying it sooner.

The Good

  • I won this challenge just for the very fact that I consistently got up by 4:30/5:00am every day (yah me);
  • I had no excuses about getting some exercise “steps” done before going to work. With zero distractions that early, all I needed to think about was which playlist to listen to during my treadmill time;
  • While on the treadmill, it gave me time to think about what scene I could write for the morning;
  • If it weren’t for getting up early, I never would have reached my daily word before leaving the house for the day and I would not have made the 15k NaNoWriMo at the half-way mark;
  • An earlier wake up time meant a slower relaxed pace to the morning that set the mood for the entire day.

The Bad

  • I won’t reach the 50k NaNoWriMo goal but at least, this time around, I made that choice (see the In-Between below);
  • I still have not mastered getting myself properly prepared the night before for my early morning (ie: lunch for work, what I planned on writing, etc.) and I’m still failing at getting to bed earlier to compensate;
  • Meditation and visualization will take much more than 30 days to integrate into my morning routine. It’s funny that I used to do these things in my 20s but can’t easily get back into them.

The In-Between

  • Halfway through NaNoWriMo, I traded in my “writing” ritual for decluttering and organizing my living space. I found myself on a roll and just never stopped. (I went “deep” and when I say “deep”, I mean very, very deep. Those of you afflicted with this “organizing/decluttering” disease will understand when I say that almost no corner, drawer, file cabinet, kitchen pantry, garage went untouched. But that will be the subject of another post…).

I’m allowing myself until November 30th to finish up my “cleaning” and then my plan is to “catch up” on my #NaNoWriMo word count over the last two weeks of December when I’ve got time.

All in all, I would still say that my Miracle Morning was successful and if you are looking for a way to squeeze some of the things you really want to do into your day, I would strongly recommend it to you!

So what’s my next #30daychallenge?

I’ll let you know on December 1.


All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews

#30DayChallenge: Believing In Miracles 1.1 #tribetuesday


I almost decided to skip the update about my first challenge due to certain current circumstances but I made a promise to myself about “accountability” so here it goes.

Believing In Miracles 1.0” was about doing the Miracle Morning Challenge by waking up early for thirty days to accomplish priorities important to me.

I’ll get into deeper details next week but I can say that I am a true believer in the practice now.

The Good

  • I have consistently gotten up at 4:30/5:00am every day, even on the colder mornings when crawling deeper under the covers and hitting snooze would have been my first thought. Instead, because I “set my intention” the night before, I was ready to roll the moment I opened my eyes.
  • There is definitely something seductive about secretly starting your day when it’s still dark outside and everyone is still asleep. It felt just like all the times on the island when I would write and watch the sunrise.
  • The first few mornings, I downed a glass of apple vinegar water, got on the treadmill and slay my daily word count for #NaNoWriMo with no issues.
  • It was a welcomed change to leisurely slow down and enjoy a coffee as I got ready for my workday.
  • I almost felt like I was in vacation-mode.

The Bad

I wasn’t thoroughly prepared enough.

  • Making a lunch in the morning, cleaning up the kitchen and spending tio long on my cell ate into precious time that I could have been doing another “priority”.
  • Staying up to watch “This Is Us” and “Scandal” was a foolish thing, made me miss my self-imposed bedtime and led to feeling excruciatingly sleepy the following afternoon. Yes, I am probably the only old schooler who still watches tv programs at their assigned night and time on tv, not Netflix.
  • Incorporating the meditation and visualization steps of #MM were way more difficult than I thought so I stopped after the first day.

What’s Next?

  • Incorporate mediation. If it doesn’t work, use that time to create a gratitude list.
  • Make my lunchs for the week on a given day so that they are grab and go.
  • Increase treadmill time.
  • Go to bed by 10pm.

Final thought on week #1?

All in all, it’s only been 7 days of early rise but this is a habit that I will surely consider keeping.

All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews


#30DayChallenge: “Believing In Miracles” 1.0 #tribetuesday #simplymarquessa


Challenge #1: “Believing In Miracles” 1.0

I feel like each passing day is a day closer to death. The death of my time on earth and all the things I’ve wanted to do but always end up postponing “because”…

I know, I know…it sounds morose, morbid and Debbie Downer-like but it’s how I sometimes feel. Especially when I lay down at the end of a long day and scowl at how I have done nothing to advance my personal goals. The faster the world spins, the more I simply want to crawl deeper under my purple duvet.

But I don’t want to feel like that anymore and I’m ready to do something about it. At the end of a long day, I want to smile about what I’ve accomplished for ME, which brings me to my first challenge – “Believing In Miracles” by following the principles of “The Miracle Morning”* for the next 30 days.

*I’m not receiving any kind of financial benefit from mentioning “The Miracle Morning”, “The Miracle Morning For Writers” and the free material found on Hal Elrod’s website. I’m simply “sharing” because my challenge is based on his steps and principles. If you are interested in more info, you can check out the free resources, the books on Kindle Unlimited for free if you have a subscription, tons of videos on YouTube including the one I posted at the end of this post.

In a nutshell, the 30 day Miracle Morning Challenge is about waking up early everyday to focus on taking concrete actions towards your goals. It’s all about developing morning rituals to create success for yourself.

The most successful people in this world all GET UP EARLY to get their sh*t done. In short, there are five steps and six practices called S.A.V.E.R.S to follow that sound really easy but they truly are not…

This is a photo of me at the beach at 8:30AM…

I’ve known the amazing power of waking up early first hand, like how:

  • whenever I’m on vacation in a warm climate, I can easily roll out of bed at 5:00AM, read, write, draft a blog post, go for a long walk and be beach-ready by 8:30AM (photo above); or
  • decorating my entire first floor for the holidays by 8:00AM after dropping off a relative at the airport at 3:00AM and crawling back into bed is no longer an enticing option (I once remember the confused looks of the passerbys at 5:30AM as I balanced myself on the ledge of my bay window putting up Christmas lights in late November).

But getting up crazy early on a regular basis to get sh*t done is not something I’ve been able to sustain for more than a few days at a time.

So my 30 day Miracle Morning challenge will also combine the concepts of #21earlydays and the Eat That Frog! approach. And adding NaNoWriMo into the mix will make a month worthy interesting tales!

I’ll update you on my progress during this month of November and I’ll be using Instagram to document what I’ve been up to. If I decide to keep my Instagram on “Private” (due to too many spammy accounts), you can request access.

Okay, I’m ending this post now.

If I have to get up at 4:30AM, it’s time to shut this party down because tomorrow morning the fun begins!

And to all of you who will be enjoying tonight’s festivities, Happy Halloween!

What would you challenge yourself to do this month if you could?

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

Part 2: Believing in Miracles 1.1











#30DayChallenge: One Thing For Thirty Days #tribetuesday


One thing for 30 days in a row…then repeat with another challenge for the next 30 days…

You can read what I shared in this post but like I said before, if I can thrive on writing challenges, I can find a way to thrive on twelve “life” challenges that I feel would enhance my life.

#30DayChallenge is about 12 new habits life that will enhance my life, by tackling 1 habit per month for 30 days in a row. I’ll be starting my first challenge on November 1 BEFORE the 2018 New Year New You crazy hype begins. I’ll tell you more about it next Tuesday.

I’m not reinventing the wheel with this challenge. If you google “30 day challenges”, you will find TONS of information online. It was actually Matt Cutts TED talk that piqued my curiosity.

You can check it out below:

Since the WP community is a great way to source other like-minded people, I’d love to join up with a tribe of 12 blogger/writers who would like to join in with their own challenges.

For those of you who already expressed an interest, THANK YOU! I’ll be testing out an app I discovered where I might be able to create a “Group”…TBD. And for those of you thinking about it, I hope you DARE yourself to eventually join in.

Before I list some resources and ideas, I want to be clear about what this challenge is NOT about.

This challenge is NOT about:

  1. increasing the number of followers I have or you have – its about supporting and sharing experiences about our respective goals – maybe you’ll find another doing the same one as you! ;
  2. tackling something that you “think” that you “should” do (or that someone else thinks that you should be doing). This challenge is about what you “WANT” to accomplish for YOU;
  3. keeping up with the Jones. There is a huge difference in motivation between thinking that you “should” go jogging every day because the skinny next door neighbor lady does it and “wanting” to go jogging every day because it lifts your spirits, clears your head and you used to love doing it.

And just to be clear, I’m not involved in affiliate endorsing and don’t mention products for financial compensation – any and all mentions I may make are purely because I feel that they are “share-worthy”.

You can check out the page I created below for detailed information and to list your participation:

#30DayChallenge Page

And here are a few resources to help inspire your own list.

See you next Tuesday!

All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.