In this final week of writing prompts, everyone really brought their best selves to the task. I will be running the numbers later this week on GeekSpeak (and the THWACK team and I will be busy tallying up and awarding points to everyone who participated. But in the meanwhile, I wanted to share some of the responses that caught my eye over this past, last week of the first ever SolarWinds THWACK December Writing Challenge.


Day 24: Hope

Destiny kicked off this this week with a we all can relate to: “Many of us, especially around the holidays, cling to the hope that a miracle can happen.  That during the holidays there is something in the air that helps us push through.  We hunker down and hope that we don't go too far into debt and make it out alive after the in-laws leave the house.  Hoping that the spirits we have these holidays are drank with moderation.”


In response, Peter Monaghan, CBCP, SCP, ITIL ver.3 evoked the words of one of the more hopeful movies of our age, The Shawshank Redemption:

"Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies." - Andy Dufresne


Then tomiannelli  paraphrased the Humanist Albert Eustace Haydon,

“Our task is to shape the natural world into a home and to weave the web of social relations so that every person might know all that life can give of joy and beauty. We suffer but never surrender. The torch falls from faltering hands but never goes out. Generation after generation it is handed down and carried forward against evil, chaos and the dark.”


And unclehooch brought another quote which caught my eye was from, Martin Luther King, Jr. “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope” – Martin Luther King, Jr.


Day 25: Intend

It’s important to understand that network defender  has written a poem almost every day, which I share as often as I can while still giving space to the other incredible ideas that are posted each day. His submission for day 25 was:

Pay close attention

As the days portend,

For life rarely goes

As we intend.


Meanwhile, THWACK MVP byrona shared “I think of Intentions as potential energy, somebody with a lot of good intentions is a gold mine waiting to be realized.”


And pattic took a more pragmatic approach, “Accept the fact that some people don’t intend to let you down. Their best is just less than you expected.”


Day 26: Create

For this day’s entry, THWACK MVP rschroeder put the word into context, saying, “To make something new.  Create. Repurpose.  Reshape.  Imagine and make something new.”


But Richard Phillips  offered a more philosophical approach: “We can be creative, but we cannot truly create. We can be creative with what has already been created / provided, but we cannot create.”


And jamison.jennings  opened up about the different ways he expressed the word of the day

Interesting that we can only be creative with what has already been created.

I'm a musician, I can be creative with the notes but there are no new chords or notes for me to play.

I am a woodworker, I can only be creative with how I assemble the pieces.

I am a wood turner, I can only be creative with how I shape the items that I turn.

I would say that I was created to be creative.


Day 27: Bless

Kevin Sparenberg’s final essay for the year was a powerful study in how our community shows its bravery in sharing personal stories, as well as how our members support and respect each other in ways that are not always seen across the internet.


Peter Monaghan, CBCP, SCP, ITIL ver.3 responded by sharing “I am reminded of this Chinese proverb when it comes to "Count Your Blessing." For that saying has a truly deeper meaning: The Most Famous Chinese Horse Proverb: 塞翁失馬 (Sāi Wēng Shī Mǎ) or Sāi Wēng lost his horse. The meaning of the proverb is only apparent when one is familiar with the accompanying story of Sāi Wēng.


(for the details of the story, you’ll have to check out his comments)


mjperkins shared a bit of seasonally appropriate (sports season, ethat is) humor, saying: “Of course, there's that other 'bless' from my brother's football-playing days. Hitting an opponent so hard that they fell back with arms splayed looking somewhat like a crucifix meant you had just 'blessed' them.”


And byrona replied, “Ok, so when I first came to this page and saw that picture of Ralphie from A Christmas Story I about died laughing, such a good picture; how can you possibly look at that and not smile or even laugh.  You blessed me with laughter today by posting that; thanks!”


Day 28: Give

Video production specialist Erik Eff was able to sneak in a lead essay in this final week, offering his insights on the intersection between giving, commercialism, and personal responsibility.


In counterpoint to this, unclehooch shared a quote from Winston Churchil: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”


But zelgadis6 found a more modern philosophical anecdote from the Red Hot Chili Peppers: “give it away, give it away, give it away now" bow chicka-chicka-bow-bow, give it away now


And network defender‘s daily poem was deeply meaningful:

Give unto others

As has been given unto you,

Be generous and loving

In all that you do.


Day 29: Return

In Destiny’s final essay of the year, she shared a truly personal story about how a simple item can return her to childhood moments and bring back so many positive feelings.


But THWACK MVP Zack Mutchler  took the word of the day in a different direction, “In the same thread as a lot of the other words this month, "return" has me thinking about wandering (maybe I'm overdue for a walkabout?) To wander away from our chosen path, or direction, is nice sometimes. But we must be mindful to not lose ourselves our our motivations and always return back to a level-set.”


Meanwhile, EBeach wasn’t clear whether the return was “Return of the Jedi” or one of the other episodes when they said, “I did a return of a Christmas gift, why would you buy Star Wars in anything but blu-ray.”


And THWACK MVP jeremymayfield found philosophical ponderings right in his own keyboard: “I like to also think of return and a refresh, much like the keyboard, when you press return you get a new line, a new starting point.   So when we return we can look at it as an opportunity to start something clean and new, and not going backwards, but forward in a familiar place.”


Day 30: Celebrate

In the final post of the year, tomiannelli shared his “Things to celebrate this year:

  1. 1. My mother-in-law turned 90 and we had a big party for her.
  2. 2. Got to visit my father in his new home in NJ for a week. After he got out of the hospital, he was in a comma for 10 days with acute respiratory distress syndrome. He is thriving now.
  3. 3. A friend of our became an American citizen and we got to celebrate with him and attend his ceremony.
  4. 4. 25 years with my wife Linda.....
  5. 5. The birth of our our latest Grand Niece to our nice and god-daughter just a couple of weeks ago.
  6. 6. Having pulled off our first dinner party in 3 years. For a current prime minister and his family at our home.
  7. 7. My wife's surgeries went well and she has the use of both of her hands again, without all the pain.”


And THWACK MVP byrona brought the workplace back to mind with, “One thing that my manager always talks about is the importance of celebrating our victories.  When we accomplish a project or achieve some significant milestone at work we often just move on to the next but it's important to celebrate those victories as it gives us the fuel to move on and tackle the next with more vigor.”


And finally, I had to finish with one of  network defender‘s daily poems:

Celebrate diversity

Both Left and Right,

Regardless of skin

Dark or light.


Different religions

Straight, LGBT or Q,

I will shake your hand

And stand beside you.


For I am a little weird

Normal is not me,

Accept who I am

And I’ll accept thee.



My sincerest gratitude goes to everyone who participated this year. Many of us are already looking forward to next years’ challenge and how it will bring our community together. In the meanwhile, all of us here at SolarWinds wish our entire THWACK community a happy, healthy, and successful 2017!