In other words … you can do it!

“Niggle was a painter. Not a very successful one, partly because he had many other things to do. Most of these things he thought were a nuisance; but he did them fairly well, when he could not get out of them: which (in his opinion) was far too often. There were other hindrances, too. For one thing, he was sometimes just idle, and did nothing at all. For another, he was kind-hearted, in a way … it did not prevent him from grumbling, losing his temper, and swearing (mostly to himself). All the same, it did land him in a good many odd jobs for his neighbour, Mr. Parish, a man with a lame leg.”

Leaf by Niggle by J.R.R. Tolkien

French verbsI was bemoaning (to a Thespian friend of mine) the realities of hiring Millennials. “This means,” I wined, “that Hubby and I have to become boss-parents to grown people – teaching them patience; how to get up when they fall down; that things worth doing don’t come easy; that making an impact will take more than a day, a month, a year.”

To which my dear honest friend replied, “But don’t we all need to learn those lessons?”

Ah, the voice of wisdom…

She’s an empathetic listener, but annoyingly too much like my conscience. I felt convicted right away.

I’m just like those millennials! #innerscream

Have you ever wanted to do something or be someone?

When you said, “I want to write a book” or “I want to learn slalom skiing” or “I’m going back to Uni to complete my degree”, did you really mean it? Did you know what it would take?

Truth be told, I really did not know what it would take to learn to speak French.

As I wrestle with French verbs this morning, I realise I’m fighting myself.

I’m fighting my ‘ I give up’ urge.
I’m fighting my ‘I’m obviously not good at this’ thoughts.
I’m fighting my ‘It’s too hard’ excuse.
I’m fighting my ageing brain.
I’m fighting my natural inclination to ‘laissez faire’ (which incidentally would make me very French!).

Oh, how difficult it is to shift a fixed mindset – the myth that if I was good at languages, French would be easy!

Eish! No more of that nonsense!

Nyamazela-me is going to swallow my own medicine (the red pill) – hard work (i.e. time, the long haul), technique (Hubby has taught me how to drill vocabulary), facing my demons (being prepared to sound silly and make mistakes) and a spoon full of sugar (film, music, novels – currently Pride and Prejudice in French).

I gather that this approach is old hat to seasoned polyglots, but it’s all new (in practice) to me.

Hubby has been known to describe language learning as a ‘drip, drip, drip’ approach. Well, for too long I’ve been expecting that drip to drench me, but without my making much effort to turn on the tap.

“At a certain point, you have to tolerate the absence of quick success,” said Rainer Gandal, in Babel No More by Michael Erard.


Do you have a big dream? Have you always wanted something, but it’s been too difficult or too daunting to achieve? Is the moss growing on your bottom as you stay put in your safe place?

If you really want it, don’t take the blue pill like I’ve been doing, take the red one. Be brave. Find your motivation. Find out the truth. What’s it really going to take?

Then launch yourself and BE PREPARED FOR THE PAIN WHEN IT COMES.

Remember, your first draft has permission to suck!

Whoever thought Nyamazela-ness would be easy?

OUCH – again.

Pride and Prejudice in FrenchP.s. Hubby is reading Babel No More by Michael Erard and has been sharing some encouraging titbits. For example, research has revealed that all the famous polyglots weren’t simply geniuses or talented linguists, but people like you and me who had a passion to learn, worked hard and applied the tried and tested techniques such as drilling and learning long lists of vocabulary. This gives me hope.
P.p.s. Eish is a South African multifaceted expression of exasperation, wonder, annoyance, resignation and joy – origin uncertain.
P.p.p.s. According to Simon Sinek, ‘making a difference / and impact’ is the one true motivating desire of Millenials. Watch his fascinating 18 min interview about Millennials in the workplace.
P.p.p.p.s. Do you know the reference to the red pill or the blue pill. It’s a popular meme which comes from the film The Matrix (1999), when Morpheus offers Neo the choice of the blue pill (life as it’s always been, comfortable, predictable, ignorance) or the red pill (the hard truth, uncertainty and a chance to do something worthwhile that will change the world).
P.p.p.p.p.s. Hubby is a polyglot (a speaker of many languages) so I’m in good hands.
P.p.p.p.p.p.s. Leaf by Niggle is a wonderful little book about how all our efforts, no matter how meagre, DO matter in God’s economy because He makes all things complete and beautiful in His time. Read my review of Leaf by Niggle.

One thought on “In other words … you can do it!

  1. A lovely blog as always.I am sure the first draft of your book will be brilliant and lead to greater writing in the future.Who knows you might write it in French to help your language lessons.x


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