I hear this word bounced back and forth, goals. Below a picture posted on social media, the word goals appear. Or beside it, an all cap hashtag of #GOALS. The words blink back at me, I make eye contact. Note that the first letters of the words make a complete word, GO, and that beside the A, and L stand at attention, and it ends with an S, not rounded or straight, but curved. GO, stand, beware that no path is straight. The word itself, a reminder to do, to be, and accept.
Never having thought in goals, the word seemed foreign.
Yes, goals is part of my lexicon. I can spell it, pronounce it, define it, but never understood it. Yes, they are the goals that I love to cheer in soccer. My arms pumped in the air as I jump in place. Pulsated by the energy that my daughter or son’s team has made a goal. If it’s a goal by Colombia , I prance around my living screaming gooooooaaaaaaaal, like a veteran broadcaster.
Then they are the goals that I have my students write out at the very beginning of the year, then again in the middle of the year, and one last time at the end, under the guise of hopes and dreams. Also, the goals my IEP students have to meet as part of their individualized educational plan. But, I never made goals for myself, maybe during my three trials at Weight Watchers, but not really. Weight Watchers, set my weight goals, based on their formula, where five percent of weight loss goal is based on the initial weight of a member.
No, I have never made goals for myself.
But, it was goals that lead me to myself.
A year and a week before I started this essay challenge, I dragged myself to the gym. Heavy with depression, I found myself drowning on land. Inspired by a meme posted by my friend on Facebook, I signed up for a spin class up the block at the NYSC. Exhausted before I broke a sweat, I bargained with myself, I just needed to get through the class. And, if I did, my treat was to climb back in bed. This was my compromise at first. Excited that with every class, I felt less out of breath and less sore, I loaded up the gear, and my endurance grew. I soon found myself studying the gym schedule, and spin classes nudged into my weekday, and not just my weekends. Propelled by results I could measure, I added yoga to my weekly work out schedule, then another, Pilates and boot camp followed. I wondered how long I could keep this up, motivated by each completed week behind me, I looked ahead at the weeks. Time measured by small increments, and strung together, and a year unfold before me.
I created and completed goals, without knowing.
Not a week of the gym was missed that first year. A blue print.
As this essay challenge comes to a close, with forty essays written, twelve more essays to write. Reflection drapes over, and I find myself lost in thought more than ever. I think when I started this challenge I was hesitant and unsure, worried that the challenge was a great undertaking. And, my personal space would be encroached, time tugged away from my manuscript. Who does she think she is? A question that I sure blared on the mind of others, made me anxious, afraid to disappoint. But, what helped me push past those pin pricks of self-doubt was the thought: it’s one essay, another after that, then one more, and… When unable to think in whole essays, I thought in words, a word at time. I looked towards the word count at the bottom of the document increase.
Goals became the frame my mind saw through. Sacrifices were to be made, and truths to be told.
And, while yes my television watching was cut three-folds, once thought a great injustice, I found it a relief. My manuscript continued to be written alongside the essays, as my stamina grew. Because before these essays I wrote very little. I worked on my manuscript a few days a month, and spent a lot of time fretting about its’ completion. Unable to understand that writing is a practice, that with practice comes progress. Prefection became my enemy, revision my ally, and discipline was formed.
“When you tell yourself that you are going to write and don’t, your subconscious takes note. It stops believing you, like a kid whose alcoholic parent serves them false promises. The subconscious will stop showing up. Discipline comes from habit.” Salvatore Scibona.
This summer I spent a week at the NYPL Cullman Scholar Writing Center, a week of writing for teachers. My writing teacher, Salvatore Scibona like all good writing teachers dispensed advice in conversation and not lecture. His words drifted with ease, and circled. And, only months later did I realize they sunk and burrowed.
These essays forced a discipline on me, one that I never had before. My manuscript, is better because of it, not just the stamina and practice that has come with the challenge, but the layers I have folded back with every essay. Submissions and writing risks seemed less scary after I hit published on my WordPress week after week. Vulnerability still hard, I no longer believe that it will tear me open, and death will ensue.
I sent my writing buddies, Yesenia and Elizabeth my writing intentions recently. A list of what I want, and am willing to work for as a writer. I told the universe too. Some of my intentions I even posted on social media, because what a public way to whisper to the universe.