30 Days of Gratitude and Reflection

30 Days of Gratitude and Reflection resized

As you’ve probably figured out by now, I’m not usually one for making a blog post every day. I normally don’t really have the time or energy required to do that. And so a lot of “blog challenges” aren’t really something I ever take on or complete – particularly if they’re formatted in an “every day” kind of way.

However, 2015 has been a rough year for me emotionally, and I find myself really needing to take some time and take stock of the good things in life. Additionally I desperately need to get back in the swing of regular blogging. So I’ve decided to combine the two needs into one sort of kick-start project that I’ve created for myself: 30 Days of Gratitude and Reflection.

I’ve created this challenge list myself, both by going through other lists and picking my favorites, as well as adding in some topics of my own that I know I need to be more grateful for. My hope is that by completing this challenge I can sort of refocus myself on all the wonderful things that have a positive impact on my life, and on helping me to become the person I am. Because of my schedule and stress level I know I tend to focus on “glass half empty” kind of stuff, and I’m hoping this will help me be more of a “glass half full” kind of person – at least for a little while.

Above is the Challenge list I plan to complete – if you want to play along, you’re absolutely welcome to. I’ve designed the list so that every “day” can be a single post, or you can play catch up and do a couple at a time, or you can pick and choose the ones that appeal to you. I’d love to hear from all of you!

I personally will probably be doing some individual posts and some “catch up posts,” and I’ll be tagging anything I post on instagram with the hashtag #30daysofgratitudeandreflection. But even if you don’t want to play along there or on your blog, I’d love to hear what you’re thankful for in the comments!

So here’s to a far more present, positive, and thankful November!

It’s Armistice Day (aka Veterans Day, aka Remembrance Day)

In Flanders Feild

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns fell silent.

Today here in the US is Veterans Day – a day to celebrate, thank, and honor the men and women who have fought for our country. But it is also a much more specific holiday – and the holiday from which Veterans Day originally evolved: Armistice Day, which celebrates the ceasefire that brought an end to WWI’s Western Front.

Here in the US, World War One doesn’t get too much attention, mainly because our involvement was so limited. But, particularly considering that this year is the centennial of the conflict’s start, I think that it’s very important to take some time today to remember this conflict for what it was: a world war of such magnitude that it was presumed at the time to be the war to end all wars.

When all was said and done, when the battlefields of Europe finally fell silent, more than 17 million people were dead. About 7 million were civilians. The population and physical infrastructure of continental Europe had been ravaged by new military technologies like tanks, flamethrowers (flammenwefer), and chemical weapons like mustard gas. Naval warfare had been changed forever by Dreadnoughts and U-boats, and planes had seen their first usage as a weapon of war*. From the unprecedented destruction that these technologies birthed, to the collapse of four major imperial powers and the planting of economic and nationalist seeds that would later become an even more deadly conflict, there’s no denying that WWI quite literally changed the world. It christened the 20th century in an inferno of violence, death, and destruction.

So today, on the anniversary of the halting of hostilities by ceasefire on the Western Front of WWI, I leave you with the above graphic/printable I made featuring LCol John McCrae’s famous poem “In Flanders Fields.” This poem is one of the reasons the poppy has become the international symbol used to commemorate soldiers who have died in war.

Additionally, if you wish to read up on WWI, or investigate the conflict further for yourself, here are a few links you may find helpful/interesting:

WWI by the Numbers: an awesome infographic c/o the History Channel that gives a great overview of the technological and human impact of the war using statistics (and some great graphic design).

WWI at the British Library: an amazing collection of primary sources and specially commissioned articles by historians exploring every facet of the war, from causes to cultural legacies.

WWI at the Imperial War Museum: lots of great exhibits and resources available through their website including online exhibits about life on the front lines, and life back home in Britain.

The National WWI Museum Online: has several great online exhibitions, again, on everything from the causes of the war to life on the homefront (this time in the US).

Operation War Diary: a joint project between the British National Archives and the Imperial War Museum to digitize and organize over 1.5 million pages of WWI diaries by crowdsourcing (I’ve written about this project before).

*Not-so-fun Fact: All this new technology is part of the reason why the war was so deadly – the combination of 20th century technology with 19th century war tactics resulted in bloodbaths of obscene proportions, with very little to show in terms of advancement or gains once the battles ended. Basically, trench warfare was nasty, nasty stuff.
[Graphic Info – Font: Breamcatcher; Image credits: WWI image – Wikimedia Commons and the Imperial War Museum; Poppy field image – koko-stock on deviantart]