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Five things to just do in the next decade

December 31, 2019

I've always struggled with writing year-in-review posts. None of the standard metrics ever seem to capture a true representation of the fading year– and this is the end of the decade! My top posts are never the posts that I consider to be the most valuable. My blog "by the numbers" fails to capture the journey that I've been on this year, launching Garbanzo and connecting directly to you through our newsletter. So instead of looking back, I'm going to look forward. Or, rather, looking forward might give me an opportunity to look back.

Here are five things to just do in the next decade.

Just do the one next thing.

In January 2010, I was teaching full-time in a middle school in Alaska. I had no kids and no idea what Comprehensible Input was (methods class fail). A decade later, I'm living in Vermont with 5 kids, a blog-turned-business, and a passion for Comprehension-based teaching. The only thing that hasn't changed is my last name!

Some people find their way in life by envisioning their dream life and making a plan to make it happen. Me? I just do the one next thing.

The first thing

When I was offered the opportunity to join the New Teacher Mentor program as a new teacher to the Anchorage School District in 2009, I said "yes!" (it didn't hurt that there was a stipend attached!). Through that program, I met Michele Whaley. She introduced me to Comprehension-based teaching generally and TPRS specifically.

The next thing

Once I learned about TPRS, it only made sense to give it a try– so I did!

The one thing after that

Most of my further learning about TPRS came from reading blogs. In the spirit of reciprocity, I thought, "I could do that"– so I started this blog.

After that, one more next thing

I got a marketing email to attend my state language teacher conference, so I did! I had the opportunity to learn from Laurie Clarcq and Susie Gross, all while seated in a classroom overlooking the breathtaking Matanuska Glacier.

And then the next thing

Carol Gaab found one of my resources on my blog and asked if she could use it in her classes. Umm.... YES! I was so flattered. When she asked if I would be interested in helping with a project a few months later, how could I refuse. It was through working with Carol that I learned the art making input truly comprehensible–no matter the content.

Another next thing

When I received a Call for Proposals for the following year's state conference, I thought "Why not?" That year, I presented on Unit Design. I survived, so when I got the Call for Proposals for ACTFL 2013, I gave that a try, too. My presentation was accepted, and off I flew to Orlando.

Life unfolds incrementally.

This is how my life has unfolded: one thing leading to another, one step at a time. It has not been without bumps in the road: the thing about 'just doing the one next thing' is that it often isn't the thing that you were really hoping to do next. Often, the open door only looks appealing enough to walk through because all the other ones are closed. But hey.... why not? You can just do the one next thing or you can just stay where you are and wait.

"For I know the plans I have for you", says the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a purpose" (Jeremiah 29:11)".

To move forward in the next decade, just do the one next thing.

Just be you.

You know that frantic feeling that you sometimes get in your head? Where it seems like there is all this energy concentrated right at the top of your forehead, and it's pulling you around like a car on a tow hook? I don't know about you, but I get that feeling when there are too many voices in my heard. When I see one person doing one thing, and hear about another person doing another, and they all seem like great things and I feel like I'm getting behind and so I just start doing... doing... doing... and I totally lose track of who I am, what I'm about, and where I am going.

Be observant and try new things. Find people that you want to emulate, but don't lose sight of who you are.

Just be you, okay?

Just don't be a jerk.

They say that kindness costs nothing, but that's not really true, is it? Sometimes, being kind is not just hard; it's downright painful.

But you know what? All of these things that live inside of me–my hopes, my dreams, my fears, my insecurities, my pride, my emotions–they live inside each and every other human, too. Each one of us is just trying to be heard. We're trying to find our place in the world, trying to make a future for ourselves, trying to just get through the day. Trying to find some affirmation, to hear from someone else that you have value, you have something to contribute, you have a place in this community. Even the most unpleasant people that you encounter are just human, just like you, just trying to live a meaningful life.

With our words and our actions—both overt and covert—we have the ability to fill others with peace and pride or with hurt and ire.

Be passionate about what you believe. Be relentless in standing for your cause. Be fierce in defending others. Be a marigold.

Just don't be a jerk, okay?

Just go for it.

I think I remember Meredith White's One Word Resolution this past year being "NOW". Even though I didn't adopt it as my resolution, I think about it quite often. Instead of piling cardboard in the mudroom to be later tossed through the doorway into the garage, just toss it into the garage now. Instead of pushing "remind me later" again on the notification to make that phone call I don't want to make, just make the call now and get it over with. [Insert pause while I go email our tax guy.] [Okay, I'm back.] Instead of adding another new activity to the list of things I want to try next year, just give it a try now and get a head start on feeling comfortable with it in the future. 

If there is something that you want to do or know that you need to do, just go for it. And maybe "just going for it" means just doing the one next thing; maybe doing the one next thing is sitting down and figuring out what you actually need to do to make the one next thing happen, maybe it means cooking up some confidence.

If you know what you want to do or what you need to do, just go for it.

Just know you're not alone.

No matter what you are experiencing or feeling or wondering, just know that you are not alone. Social media gives us unrealistic glimpses into the real and reimagined lives of others, and it gives us the opportunity to really connect with others. I'm learning to be choosy about who I interact with and what platforms I frequent, because a lot of people and platforms leave me feeling like I'm the only one walking through my experiences.

Find a community that makes you feel safe enough to ask questions that you feel embarrassed asking, to express opinions that you know are unpopular, to ask for help when you feel like you're failing, and to stand up for others that are doing the same.

I've been here for 10 years, and I'm not planning on going anywhere anytime soon– so just know you're not alone.

Happy New Year, my friends <3

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