It was an elective. We could choose what we wanted, but two were required to graduate. The syllabus should have discouraged me, but there was a part of me buried deep down beneath the stunt double and the dancer who secretly wanted to perform.

I respected his commitment and his determination that we all understand and implement Uta Hagen.

I was discouraged by his quick temper, his intensity, and his theatricality.

He pulled his glasses away from his face abruptly and massaged the brim of his nose up towards his temples. “No, no, no, no, no!” He waved his hand away as if he was dismissing lukewarm tea.

“It won’t work that way. Not like that! Listen; think about how it feels BEFORE it happens.”

We blinked.

“In that moment you tell yourself to keep it together. You think: Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Just keep it together. Don’t cry. And that is the very moment when you break down.”

We nodded slowly.

“So you see, you can’t simply just tell yourself to cry– it’s quite the opposite. You have to pinpoint the moment, a very specific moment, where you did all you could to keep from crying. THAT is how you CRY.”

I held back the giggles but nodded in understanding with the rest of my classmates. We looked at each other with wide eyes and unmitigated amusement.

For all that my childishness kept me from learning, I understood him and I believed.

And if I learned nothing else in Acting 101 more than ten years ago, to this day, I can pinpoint a specific memory from a moment long since passed. No matter the time, the place, or the company, I can make myself cry.

During the holiday season I like to revisit goals I’ve already been revisiting. I think through the ones that have been successful and those I’ve failed to reach. I do this when I’m working towards a large project or a big goal that’s more than I can chew at once. I do this intentionally and strategically so that I can complete, progress, move forward, or learn.

On December 14, 2016, I wrote Day 1, Week 1. It was meant to shift my focus and to help me hold myself accountable. We mounted cork boards and posted stickies with goals.

I wanted to learn Spanish and to write everyday, no exceptions.
He wanted to create two video projects, one about biking through Houston and the other about creating his first coloring book.

On January 27, 2017, inspired by work-related performance evaluations, I created an entirely new set of SMART goals, unlike the first:

Research & Development

  1. Within eight weeks, I will complete draft 1 of my children’s book about dreamcatchers. (But first, I will figure out how to write said children’s book.) I changed the topic entirely, but I wrote about half of the story. More to come. 
  2. Within two months, I will complete cursory research on recidivism, immigration reform, the U.S. Department of Education, common core & standardized testing, environmental literacy, and important public health initiatives (for kicks & giggles). I bought some books on the education system and Common Core, but didn’t actually start reading them. 
  3. Within six weeks, I will finish reading two of the books I purchased this Christmas so I can learn more about education policy and grassroots organizing (and so I can stop being a slob). I didn’t start reading anything.

Health & Wellness

  1. Within two weeks I will commit to a more active, healthier lifestyle by exercising at least three days a week for at least 30 minutes each session. (Yeah, I need two weeks to commit to getting started.) I did start walking for about 30 minutes each day, but it’s due to sheer necessity and my new commute to work. 
  2. Starting in February, my sister and I will work out together at least twice a month. Right, T?! Didn’t happen. 
  3. By June this year, I will have joined a weekly volleyball league. Didn’t happen. 

Family & Relationships 

  1. I will coordinate Sunday dinners with my parents and sister’s family at least twice each month so that we can create new traditions and stay better connected. We have stayed more connected, but no family dinners to date. 
  2. Starting in February, I will visit my brother (who lives in Austin) every other month during the weekend. Right, Rod? Nope.
  3. Within the next eight months, Vern and I will complete at least one 5K together and will have created a regular practice of walking together at least 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes each walk. Right, V? Nope.

On May 25, 2017, dissatisfied with my ability to make headway on either set of goals, I scaled back and created simpler (presumably easier to achieve) goals:

Financial
Save $10,000 this year. (Which I’ve never successfully done.) Made it halfway. 
Invest $5,000 this year. (It’s my first week! I’ve invested $50 so far!) Didn’t quite have $500 to invest let alone $5,000. 

Relationships 
Spend time with family weekly and set regular dates for meeting up. SUCCESS! 

Professional 
Research and develop contextualized workforce curriculum. No longer needed, BUT I did start creating curriculum for an English Language Arts tutoring course (more on that later). 
Develop a solid network of colleagues for resource-sharing, recruitment of students, and exchange of best practices. Nope. 

Health/Wellness 
Drink more water. Eat less dairy. Exercise consistently. Nope. Sometimes. Nope.

Workin’ hard to get my fill
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin’ anything to roll the dice 
Just one more time
Some will win 
Some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on, and on, and on 

Don’t stop believin’
Hold on to that feelin’
Streetlight people, ooooohhhhhhhoooooooo (sorry, got carried away). 

Don’t stop believing.
Start again. Stop. Start over again. Keep starting.

Figure out a system that works well for you.
Lists? 
Organizing and sorting?
Reading?
Finding joy?

Figure out when you’ll decide and under what circumstances. 
Figure out what you might have to give up and what you won’t give up, no matter the circumstances. 
Figure out who you can lean on, who you can learn from, and who might simply just be in the way. 

Figure out whether you can do it on your own or if you need a friend. Or if you need a mentor. Or if you need a teacher. Or if you need a master teacher who can draw you out of yourself and teach you something that will stay with you for a lifetime. 

Set deadlines. Set schedules. Set your watch by it. 
Don’t stop believing. 

What are your goals? How do you stay inspired day after day?

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