Ta da! This is my third post and marks the longest commitment I’ve ever had to a blog to date. It certainly wasn’t that big of a feat, but I somehow feel overly accomplished by this and my dreams of becoming a New York Times Bestseller by accruing a massive following in the digital space seem around the corner. The fact that I currently have no followers seems unimportant.
- Start a blog, create a basic posting schedule, and stick with it for the entire year. You can get a free blog at WordPress.org. One tip: don’t try to write everyday. Set a weekly or biweekly schedule for a while, and if you’re still enjoying it after three months, pick up the pace. Cost: $0
I’ve noticed a few things about writing so far. Firstly, I really enjoy it and have looked forward to doing it each week. It doesn’t seem like a chore but rather something I sneak away to indulge in rather than study for my Nutrition class exam in the morning. I find that when I first sit down to begin writing I really don’t know exactly what direction I am going to go in, but tell myself to just write. I try to hold back judgment on the way in which my thoughts come out on the page. It seems if I can just get something out, I can go back later and after looking it over, refine it in a better, possibly more concise, or thoughtful way. In this process I become clearer on what I am actually thinking and what has been going on in my mind; in turn, I gain insights that I don’t think I would have come to without the act of writing. When I am done writing and revising, I have this wonderful sense of fulfillment. I feel more clear-headed. I have a better sense of purpose and direction. I feel like I used to feel after having a great performance (I used to be a professional ballet dancer), satisfied, self-expressed, and on a high.
- Subscribe to a language-learning podcast and listen to each 20-minute episode, five times a week, for the entire year. Attend a local language club once a week to practice. Cost: $0 + 87 hours.
For the past two Friday’s, I’ve arranged to meet with my mother-in-law (mi suegra), Gilda, to practice my very beginner Spanish. I consider this as my once-a-week language club practice session. At our first get-together, Gilda made two comments that stuck out: 1. “You don’t learn language very well, do you? 2. “You are making me work very hard!” The following week on the way to her casa I was speaking with my mother on the phone and she commented, “I bet Gilda just loves that you want to practice with her.” I told my mother I had hoped so, but I did in fact make her work very hard. At our second session, Gilda started with, “Ok, let’s go.” And then added the words I craved, “I was really looking forward to this.”
The thing about it is, if you asked me how long I’ve wanted to learn Spanish I would probably say “forever,” but that’s not true. I’ve been together with my Spanish-speaking fiancé for ten years and I have lived in a Miami for twelve years, where almost everyone speaks Spanish. Even though so many people around me speak Spanish and I would love to communicate better with people while traveling in Spanish-speaking countries, I don’t think it dawned on me to really put forth the necessary commitment to learn Spanish until recently. Yeah, I had taken a once-a-week, beginner Spanish class at the Jewish community center for a few weeks a decade ago, some co-workers had taught me how to say a naughty little phrase to my man, and I could say “sleep with the angels” in Spanish before going to bed, but I had resigned myself to being too audibly challenged and kind off tossed it off as something I would likely never become proficient in. The thing about it is, I had come to this conclusion with ever really trying. Yes, I had bought a nock-off of Rosetta Stone that seemed quite effective, but I didn’t stick with it.
Recently, I decided I needed something that would force me to stick it out. This fall, I enrolled in Spanish at my college, where I attend four days a week. I don’t drop classes, I don’t miss classes and I don’t get B’s, so I thought this would force me to get out of my comfort zone as well as stick to a program. Adding Monday through Friday Spanish-learning podcasts, weekly practice sessions with my mother-in-law, and initiating more Spanish speaking with my fiancé is giving me small victories that encourage me to continue on. I have even shared with my ballet students that I am learning Spanish and it is fun to see their excited responses and eagerness to help me. I am getting to connect with my mother-in-law, fiancé, friends and classmates in a new way which not only improves my Spanish but is helping me stick with it.