Awhile ago, approximately 72 blogs and 72 days ago, I wrote a blog post titled “The Streak.” It was about my then-long Duolingo streak, which I’ve since taken a leave of absence in doing. I haven’t been on Duolingo in ages since then, and I really wish I would motivate myself to get back into it, but alas the time hasn’t come for that yet.
Instead of discussing Duolingo, this blog is about the “other” streak of note. Today, sitting at a 123-day streak, is my streak of blog posts on this here website. I’m not sure what happened 123 days ago, because I’ve been writing blogs for longer than that (believe it or not) but that’s the number for now. By the time this blog goes live, it’ll be around 134 days. To think when this first started that I’d be penning blogs for this long is a bit surreal. I can’t say for certain that I’ve become a better writer in my time since starting these blogs, but I’ve definitely become a more consistent writer, something that feels valuable to me in and of itself. In my years of grad school learning about the benefits of reading, writing, and literacy, I never had the inclination to take those lessons and apply them to myself.
One of my friends from college told me about her plan to write 300 words a day as part of her goal to get herself writing more. This friend was the editor-in-chief of Montage, the literary magazine at Quinnipiac, while I was the poetry editor, so we had a pretty good friendship. That’s mostly what inspired myself to write all these blogs; I wanted to bring writing back into my life, and I wanted to use this blog in a productive, meaningful capacity. I’ve had this blog for years now, literally, and to have it sit around without any meaningful use is a bit of a shame.
I’ll be talking about Duolingo again in this post, specifically the streak of days I’ve had recently. It’s been somewhat of a long stretch, and Alex has caught up to me, but I’m trying my best to not close the distance. As of this post, I’ve reached 26 days and Alex has reached 23 days, so I definitely have a lot of important, consistent work to do in order to get going.
Duolingo has been an important resource for me to use on a daily basis so I can learn and slowly but surely become fluent in Spanish. I’m getting better at it as time goes on, but the problem is that, in order for me to become fluent, I need to actually engage with the content rather than treating it as a game to beat. Beating a game is easy; engaging with and learning from that game is a whole other story completely. I also sometimes play Duolingo at the gym, giving it my all while walking on the treadmill or peddling on the sitting bicycle machine.
I’ve made it through Greetings, Places, and Family recently, and I’m currently making my way through Travel 2. Thankfully, Travel 2 is an extension of Travel 1, which I’ve already completed and so I have the chance to apply my learning in a new context. The other good thing about starting Travel 2 is it allows me to keep pushing myself through additional sections of learning. Duolingo has tons of options for content, and it puts you through a series of tests in order to place you in the right spot. I took college Spanish courses for the majority of my undergraduate career, although I never spent more than a few minutes on my homework each night. If I paid attention during those classes, maybe I wouldn’t be running into problems trying to re-learn Spanish online!
2019 is finally here. 2018 is over and done with.
It’s a new year, which means new habits, new routines, new celebrations. I spoke in my last blog post about what new things I’m looking forward to in the new year, such as taking more personal initiative during troubled times, so hopefully this blog resonates in a similar way. I’d like to talk about my goals for 2019, now that it is 2019 (although I’m writing this in 2018 still; don’t tell anyone!)
Here’s what I’ve come up with, so far:
- Write 300 words on my blog at least once a day (with occasional breaks when necessary, like when I traveled to Michigan and couldn’t keep up)
- Do Duolingo at least once a day, or at least maintain a streak for over three months (stay realistic, don’t overburden yourself with goals that are too lofty to achieve!)
- Wake up before 10 every day
- Go to the gym at least 3-4 days a week
- Plan frequent weekend trips with Alex to the places we love
- Discover the career of my dreams
- Begin seeing a therapist again
- Adopt and care for a brilliant, lovely little dog
- Finish my novel by the end of the year
The first bullet point, about writing on my blog more frequently, is a goal I’m carrying from 2018 into 2019; I’ve found this regular writing about my life to be oddly fulfilling and inspiring, and so I’d like to continue doing it and reaching out to people on this website. It will hopefully fill me with the same joy and motivation it did in 2018. Also, it helps having stuff written down, as it almost confirms that it is true, and that I can leave it from my mind for a bit. Having these goals on here also helps me stay accountable; if I’m not holding myself to my own established routines, I can look back on my post about the new year and remind myself of them. Accountability is everything when it comes to goal-setting.
The last bullet point… well, I haven’t started writing a novel yet. But I know I have a novel waiting to be unleashed and read by people, it just isn’t written as of now. I know, though, that at some point, it will come out. I just need to wait on it for a bit. Eventually, you’ll start seeing chapters pop up on here, and sooner or later, they’ll merge into a fully-fledged story before your eyes. Watch out!
Language. So many languages to learn, and so much to study and hear about in our short lives. Languages dominate communication, and although we live in a more “globalized” world where language differences are less problematic, if you want to be more cultured, you have to learn more languages. Unfortunately for me, I only know one language, and I’d like to know more if given the chance.
But therein lies the problem. I attribute it to chance, rather than personal initiative. Personal initiative is always much harder to take; it requires motivation, which I don’t always have in large supply. Being motivated and depressed at the same time is difficult to maintain completely. Let’s talk about this a bit, framed around an application I’ve used in the past to learn new languages: Duolingo.
Duolingo, to me, represents my inability to focus on one task for an extended period of time. It showcases, essentially, my ADD in action; when I commit to doing something, but it blows up in my face after inactivity seven to ten days later, that’s my inattentiveness showing up. When I say that I would like to start relearning Spanish, what I really mean is, “I want to commit to a long-term task and actually complete it, and Spanish will be my current endeavor.” You never know whether it will actually pan out the way I hope it to, though it often doesn’t. Here’s hoping 2019 leads myself further in that direction. I want to take charge of myself and my ambitions more, and I want to be focused rather than drowsy, taking initiative on goals that I have rather than watching them fester and explode, like a raisin in the sun.
Pardon the poetic metaphor, but I’m a fan of Langston Hughes!