New beginnings

Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end” – Robin Sharma

After months of work and a generous dose of procrastination, my new website is finally launching, as well as this companion blog.

The desire to write has been with me for years, though my ideas on the subject were rather vague: I knew I’d write about languages and culture, but I also imagined occasional interventions to clarify or “fix” grammar bugs and suggest answers to technical questions related to language learning, essentially the questions my students bring to class. But more than anything, I wanted to provide a space which encouraged an active and informal exchange of ideas between educators, students, and plain old language geeks.

So here I am, writing my first entry, the way forward no clearer than it was months ago, trusting that along the way, I’ll figure out where I’m going: I’m also hoping for your suggestions, requests, ideas, and feedback to provide the proverbial breadcrumbs that’ll keep me on the right path, your presence accompanying me all the way.

I’ve learned that it’s never too late for a new start if you’re willing and able to think beyond the familiar rhythm of your life. Maybe just a small tweak will be sufficient to get you out of bed with new enthusiasm every morning. Or perhaps it’s time for a major overhaul in one or more areas of your life. I know that I can pinpoint the beginning of all my changes to one day, as I was sitting, writing lists on a piece of flowery notepaper. I was weary of my regular teaching, which had started to feel repetitive, and worried that my lack of enthusiasm might start to transpire.

So I made a list entitled “What I Can Offer”, and included any idea that came to mind. Some were sensible, like “English for Specific Purposes” or “Fluency Training” ; others were a bit more random: “Italian Vegetarian Cooking in English for Japanese ladies”. How about that for a unique intercultural experience? Needless to say, that particular course never made the final cut.

So I slowly worked on making change happen. I spoke to everyone who’d listen and gathered advice, often discordant, which needed to be sorted through. And then I began putting my plans into action, not sensibly, one at a time, but the whole lot at once, to the point that I’ve spent the last year feeling completely overwhelmed by half-finished projects competing for my time and attention and keeping me awake at night.

But gradually, pieces are falling into place and some of the fog has cleared from the path ahead. And along with the fog, a lot of the uncertainty is dissipating as well: there is a path ahead, change is possible even later on in one’s working life! And the added bonus is that the familiar, well-oiled courses which no longer gave me the same satisfaction have now reacquired their spark as new enthusiasm and strategies accompany me.

I’m looking forward to enjoying the “gorgeous” phase of change promised by Robin Sharma in his quote above, and I hope you’ll be there to share it with me.

Welcome to us all!