April 5, 2022

Twenty-Post Challenge: My Favorite Influence

This is the sixth post in a twenty-post series blogging challenge. The challenge is to write about somebody who has influenced you and name the 10 things you love most about them.

My Parents

Dad, mom, and me in late 1984.

I am choosing to write about my parents, Mark and Linda. My wonderful parents have greatly influenced me for the following reasons:

  1. They’re giving of themselves and their resources. Not only did my father and mother give over twenty years serving and moving for the US military, but in their second careers and into retirement, they continue to give selflessly of themselves. They serve at the food bank and independently get food for others, they volunteer at home build sites for low income people, they are always donating and finding supplies to give to the local charities, they find blankets and supplies for the animal shelters, and also their friends and neighbors know them for being giving to them too. My parents love to help other people (and animals).
  2. They’re creative. My mom is the most talented artist and my dad is super smart with anything mechanical, with building things, and systems.
  3. They’re resourceful. Everything in their house stays immaculate and is mostly amazing self- diy renovations. They are both quick witted in solving problems of all kinds.
  4. They’re unwavering in values and character. They’re so solid in their beliefs and how they choose to live an honorable, integrityful life.
  5. They’re loving. They are kind and fair. They have been there for each other for almost forty years and will always be there as they can for me and my brother (and our families).
  6. They were great parents and now great grandparents. My brother and I benefited from their wisdom and influence; and now as grandparents they pass on their life wisdom.
  7. They have great taste. In decor, in life choices, and in conservation of self, they both hold strong to their understanding of what should be in their lives and leave no sympathy for what’s left out.
  8. They’ve traveled the world. Between the two of them and together, they’ve traveled to so many places: Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, Central America and the Islands, Alaska and Hawaii. They have experienced so many different kinds of people around the world.
  9. They’re thoughtful of others, neighbors, volunteering, with their friends. They celebrate birthdays with special effort, celebrate achievements, and try to make life special for others around them.
  10. They’re MY parents. Firstly, I am thankful to have parents and I realize that not everyone had the blessing of two parents living together while growing up. Second, they are a great influence because they spent time parenting me as a child and continue to provide guidance when needed as an adult. I am truly blessed to have them as my parents.

The original challenge is from Writer’s Write.

#amberclee #20postchallenge #love

April 4, 2022

Twenty-Post Challenge: My City, Gainesville (Alachua)

This is the fifth post in a twenty-post series blogging challenge. The challenge is to write about the town we live in and to share why we like or dislike it, with a few photos.


Gainesville is a great city to live, work, and retire in. I love many aspects of Gainesville, including the:

1. Nature, biodiversity

Even on my first visit to Gainesville, the two lane roads winding through green ravines immediately reminded me of the Appalachians. Since living here for a few years now and exploring through hiking, I have learned that there is immense biodiversity of plants and animals (and people!) in this region. Gainesville sits on the edge of the Georgia plateau as it crumbles towards the Atlantic, exposing rich, ancient sediments that support the area’s vast biodiversity.

Hoggetown waterway in Ring Park, on a hike. Photo by Amber Lee.

2. Diversity of people

I love that Gainesville celebrates people of all kinds, with county supported events for people of different gender identities, races, and heritages, and also many family events. The mix of people here in this University town for decades has strengthened the region’s collective identity and gender/race relations. Last year when Black Lives matters and All peoples lives matter became a chanting call across the nation, Gainesville had already addressed these issues years ago and stood united to stop violence in all forms, instead of pointing fingers at any one race.

Data and chart from City Data at: https://www.city-data.com/zips/32609.html.


Street art found on a hike. Photo by Amber Lee.

3. Weather

The climate here is nice and you get at least three Florida seasons of a warm Spring, a really hot, muggy Summer, and a tepid Fall; with a few freezes coming through in the Winter. The climate isn’t too harsh and tends to stay very temperate, except for a few hot, stale windless months during late summer. If you’re a gardener, you'll enjoy Gainesville's climate where you can easily grow year round with a greenhouse or diy plastic sheeting hoop houses.

Sunset over Gainesville school. Photo by Amber Lee.

4. People I’ve Met

The people of Gainesville are really great. I’ve met wonderful neighbors and professional contacts here. One such group of great people is the Writer's Alliance of Gainesville (https://writersalliance.org/). Gainesville has several great meet up groups for almost anything you'd be interested in and also has many extra supports and events for families and children.

Gainesville by drone. Footage by dronepilotastro@gmail.com.

5. University Influence

The university influence is seen everywhere in city business offering variety and quality; overall city cleanliness and safety, and green spaces planning.

The University of Florida football Swamp arena. Photo by Amber Lee.

6. Cool vibe here overall, like Asheville


I’m not going to detail much on why I don’t like my city because I think every city has aspects that are unliked or unsightly. I also don’t like to focus on the negatives in life. If you're looking to move to Gainesville, make sure you check the crime maps because unfortunately there are some not so nice parts.

What I don’t like:

  1. Lots of petty crimes, robberies, burglaries overall in the city. Someone attempted robbery on my brother Jason years ago at a bus stop by the university - the university is improving security in the entire downtown area including facial recognition cameras and other tracking/ identification methods.
  2. Homeless drunks begging in the street medians - its dangerous that they're in the street medians and they're everywhere in Gainesville.

I hope this gives you a little glimpse into the wonderful city that I call home. Gainesville is a great place and I hope you'll come visit sometime!

The original challenge is from Writer’s Write.

#amberclee #Gainesville #20postchallenge

March 9, 2022

Newly Unveiled Howard Bishop Recreation Area in Gainesville (Alachua)

On the northeast side of Gainesville city, there is a newly renovated recreation area open to the public called the Howard W. Bishop Recreation Area. This renovation took over $250,000 in funding to complete and was a joint effort by Alachua county and Alachua county schools.

Howard W. Bishop is the shared name given to the middle school adjoined to the rec area, named after the former superintendent of Alachua County Schools who served from 1941 to 1952.

While there has been a track and large grassy field in this area for years that the local public already uses, the new features are going to be a nice addition for the public. These include two brand new basketball courts, four tennis courts, new asphalt and lines painted on the quarter-mile racetrack, fresh grass on the field, two brand new soccer goals, and the brush has been cleared with new fencing installed around the perimeter.

Here are a few photos I snapped of the rec area:

Definitely check out the Howard Bishop Recreation Area if you’re looking for a neighborhood-friendly place to get some exercise or play a game with your kids. Many families use this area and it has good lighting around the field and racetrack area so you can exercise safely until dusk.

Parking is just across the street, about 100 feet, in the elementary school visitor lot. This recreation area does not have any water fountains or bathroom facilities, and accessing the area is not ADA compliant - so hopefully they add a compliant access route soon (and I may write the county myself to ask why ADA compliance was not included!).

Rec Area signage indicates that the school has first priority during school hours, but is otherwise open to the public from dusk to dawn. The full street address is 1901 NE 9th Street (Gainesville).

February 25, 2022

Twenty-Post Challenge: An Interview With Dr. Lora Kosten

This is the fourth post in a twenty-post series blogging challenge.

The challenge for this post was to interview someone that my readers would find interesting. I’ve chosen a dear colleague from the University of South Florida's education faculty, Dr. Lora Kosten, about her book A Handbook for Positive Living A Through Z. Dr. Kosten’s interview is provided below. I hope you will check out her book!


Interview Questions: A Handbook for Positive Living A Through Z


Without summarizing it in any way, what would you say your book is about?

This book is about transforming your life through Positive Living. Many times, when we think of improving our lives, we think of only diet and exercise. This book helps address ways of thinking to see things through a positive lens, use mistakes as stepping stones for growth, find balance and peace of mind, and take small steps that can become a part of a daily repertoire for Positive Living.

Without explaining why and without naming other authors or books, can you discuss the various influences on your book?

My holistic counselor: Dr. Dolores Seymour was most influential. Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer and Tony Robbins too.

Without using complete sentences, can you describe what was going on in your life as you wrote this book?

Crohn’s Disease… Dr. Seymour’s Inspiration…Positive Thinking…Changing My Perspective…Taking Action…Sharing Timeless Strategies with Others…

What are some words you despise that have been used to describe your writing by readers and/or reviewers?

I do not appreciate profanity or inappropriate language, but I feel that everyone has the right to an opinion. It is important not to take things personally and to see what can be learned from comments made. If it doesn’t speak to me then I can just let it go.

If you could choose a career besides writing (irrespective of schooling requirements and/or talent) what would it be?

I am a teacher at heart and it is my hope that this book will help others acquire skills and strategies to make their lives more meaningful.

What craft elements do you think are your strong suit, and what would you like to be better at?

This book takes on Positive Living themes from alphabetized words A through Z. Each chapter addresses a theme and has assignments for reflective activities. These activities cause the reader to process the information and apply it. One does not have to read this book in any sequence which makes it an ideal resource to have on hand. The elements and craft relate to the book’s themes and the assignments to help the reader address different strategies.

How do you contend with the hubris of thinking anyone has or should have any interest in what you have to say about anything?

Chapter One conveys the importance of doing what is “right for you.” This book may be right for some but not for others, and that is ok. It plants seeds to help readers expand their repertoire for self-care and holistic wellness. People may take those seeds and do what is best for them.


You can read an excerpt or order a copy of Dr. Kosten’s book A Handbook for Positive Living A Through Z.

Interview questions are from: https://lithub.com/what-ive-learned-interviewing-almost-300-writers-over-seven-years/

The original challenge is from Writer’s Write.

#amberclee #20postchallenge

Twenty-Post Challenge: My Blogging Story

This is the third post in a twenty-post series blogging challenge.

The challenge for this post was to share why I started blogging and tell about the moment that I decided to write.

When I first started blogging, I was in my early 20s. My very first post was summer 2008 and was entitled "A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With A Single Step..." I had earned a technical writing degree that gave me a little insight into writing and how to use online tools.

Life was promising but a little tough at the time: I had moved eight times in the span of just a couple years following a relationship around the country that later failed. We moved from Florida to Arizona to Pennsylvania to Maryland to Alabama and then to Texas, twice. I remember working at my computer looking out at the snow from a Texas apartment, boxes still stacked up from the last move, and trying to share with the world some of the thoughts that I have written down in my little notebook while working a part-time job as a gas station clerk.

As a creative, I needed an online platform to share my opinions and designs. I write and design a lot in my free time because that’s what I’m driven to do – it’s my gift that, like a tsunami wave, I can’t hold back and must write down the thoughts swirling into and around my head. I have notebooks saved on my bookshelves from over 20 years of writing: little scribbles, planning things out, drawing out systems or ideas. So, I take the best or most relevant ideas that I have and share them on the blog.

A blog provides me with a public platform for possible employers or other professional connections where I can create the story publicly of who I am. I want to showcase my writing and share the experiences I’ve gained with other people. I gain authority in my field by confirming my opinions and designs with others.

By maintaining a blog, it makes my own thoughts important to myself by becoming concrete and shared with the world. Sometimes thoughts come in our heads and slip away so easily. Blogging gives me a way to concretely engage with the rest of the world. It’s also not as intimidating as doing so face-to-face. I can connect with others who have similar ideas or interests through the power of the Internet.

Bloggers can add great value and richness of experience to what is presented on the web for consumption. I hope the ideas and designs I share on my blog bring you value too!

More to come about why I decided to start blogging in future posts.

The original challenge is from Writer’s Write.

#amberclee #20postchallenge

February 17, 2022

Twenty-Post Challenge: My Favorite Quote

This is the second post in a twenty-post series blogging challenge.

The challenge for this post was to share my favorite quotation. I’ve chosen to share a quote attributed to Dr. Maya Angelou.

Image by Amber Lee.

Dr. Maya Angelou was an influential modern American writer (to use her words, a phenomenal woman!) and fully understood both positive and negative human emotions. Her understanding of people is reflected in the quote I’ve chosen to share. In a world where everything material is treated as so important, Maya reminds us that how we treat others will be the only important remainder.

Think about your interactions with others: have you had an interaction with someone that left you feeling a little beat up? Sometimes the goal of a conversation is reached, but the participants really don’t treat each other with respect in the way they interact.

Feelings and emotional interactions are often dismissed as non-important in business and personal dealings. If feelings are prioritized, then you’re somehow weak and not focused on concrete goals. Feelings are not a reality of a situation, but simply an experience that can be controlled and thus should be easily dismissable.

But what happens when we look at our interactions with others from a long-term perspective - when we look back on our lives and remember what truly “matters?” When all we have are achievements and amassed wealth in material or financials, does this really make a life satisfying to live? Many people might say no…

Maya is teaching us in this quote that the only things that will really matter in life is how you make someone feel. Were you kind? Did you make someone feel accepted or take extra patience when someone struggled through something? Did you help someone that needed a friend or simply a kind word? Just like you, many people have shortcomings or their own obstacles that they’re trying to overcome and a little kindness may be greatly appreciated.

When we’re kind to others, the positivity radiates into our lives too.

Let this quote encourage you to treat others with kindness and respect. Realize that there’s more to winning at life than acquiring possessions and achievements. And as writers, we can utilize feelings to drive our literary goals with an audience.

Here’s an interesting point to end this blog post: although this quote was attributed to Maya for her 70th birthday wisdom in 1998, the original quote belongs to someone else, a preacher, who published it first in the 1970s. So Maya may have liked and used this quote, but she was not the originator! Regardless, Maya seemed to love this quote herself and used it in several of her speeches later in life. 
By Office of the White House - White House.org [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52404806

The original challenge is from Writer’s Write.

#amberclee #20postchallenge

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