Next Steps…

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

I am in transition, just now, from the working world to the retired world. Well, semi-retired…you may know how it is…especially for teachers who are passionate about teaching.

You may see me more regularly on my blog from here on, which I hope will encourage you more than annoy you. And I can stay in my pajamas all day writing, now, if that’s what it comes to :).

So as I am clearing–and cleaning–out things and updating others, I blew the dust of my LinkedIn account and found my initial “article.” It occurred to me to share it here, too. It goes like this:

Thank you to everyone…

…who has helped me achieve two dream jobs that I have enjoyed, now, for a number of years.

I successfully “thinned out my resume” as I think of it, after having completed my master’s degree in 2000 and from then I have quietly honed my teaching and writing skills. With joy I serve my students and my readers. I hope my efforts satisfy them as well, especially my students, if not now, at some point. “You’ll thank me later,” a teacher often has to say. Particularly an English teacher. Particularly to middle and high school students. But if they never do, that’s okay, too. There is also great satisfaction in the effort.

I am sure it will become apparent when the time comes for me to mellow into the status of emeritus. In the meantime, I savor the days doing what I feel I was called to do.

So, you see, I’m not here for the ordinary reasons at all. How it happened is that somebody from my past I thought I would never hear from again private messaged me (it was by mistake, I think–I haven’t heard back) and so I emailed her with my enthusiastic response. I don’t do any social media otherwise.

And so I do little, here, having no further aspirations than to tend the daily challenges of my occupations, but I check in from time to time because I do so enjoy the updates from my remarkable family and some friends when they, too, take the next steps in their own desired careers. I love that. I love them.

But, it occurs to me today that this might also be a good vehicle to encourage those still “on the way to” their career goal by sharing a couple of things from “this end” that have helped me persevere.  It also occurs to me this might be an opportunity to thank a few people who have helped me.

Regarding the concept of perseverance (what I feel is one of the most important elements of success), I have to start with thanking Mrs. Nolden, 5th grade, St. Joseph’s Elementary School, Escanaba Michigan, circa 1960, who chastised me severely one day for being “persevering.” I had done some silly thing or other a ten-year-old does which that woman found no merit whatsoever in and because of which she proceeded to give me a tongue-lashing that included the “accusation” of being “a persevering little thing.”


“Do you know what that means?” She stopped to ask me, no doubt noticing my deer-in-the-headlights look.

“No,” I replied, and hollered something back at her before running out of the classroom and down the hallway toward the exit (a very tall hallway that echoed every little noise), slamming as hard as I could all the full-sized locker doors standing ajar.

I had made a mental note, however, in between her tongue-lashing and my slamming, to look up this thing she had accused me of. “Persevering, persevering, persevering,” I kept repeating on my way home so I wouldn’t forget. But when I got home and looked up the word, I decided, hey, now, I think I WANT to be that! And so I have. Which goes to show you never know how and when some really important life lesson will take place.

Another person I wish to thank for an additional key element of success is whoever it was who first told me “Never say never.” I think it was somebody I was telling I would never, EVER, teach again after a short season of frustrating early efforts. In fact, I was surprised I even THOUGHT about teaching to begin with! When I was in high school, I would have run, screaming had anyone told me I’d one day be doing just that, and teaching college as well, and middle school. Yes, middle school…(but one day, I did realize I was done with middle school).

And one more key element I’d like to share on how to achieve your dream job (or dream life or whatever other goal you might have) is to nurture self-efficacy, that is, nurture (guard, strengthen) your sense of knowing you can do what you have to do to succeed. Because, you see, there will be plenty of nay-sayers. People on their cynical perches, or engaged in their jealous or ignorant (as in lacking understanding) tirades who will tell you all the reasons you “can’t do that,” or “who do you think you are to try?” or “you’re not a real (fill in the blank of your skill or talent-in-progress)” and so on.

People like that can easily distract you from your goal.

Don’t. You. Let. Them.

But, odd as it seems, there is some gratitude for people like that, too, who would attempt to dismiss, dampen, or destroy your dream, because by their negativity they provide additional opportunities for you to remember the value of perseverance…and of nurturing a solid sense of self-efficacy…and of avoiding the “never” word.

So stay the course…is what I want you to know today…from “this end”.

And thanks for stopping by.

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1 Response to Next Steps…

  1. says:

    Phyllis –

    Loved the trip down a portion of your memory lane at St Joseph’s School – too bad it has been flattened into a parking lot! In my 6th, 7th and 8th grade years I ran the film projector in the school library and in the Bonifas Auditorium across the street from the Church, and spent much time in the basement section of the Carnegie Library across the street on the other corner. Checked out ALL the books on electronics and ham radio multiple times. Also learned some church Latin couplets as an altar boy: Sursum Corda/Habemus a Dominum (“Lift up your hearts/we lift them up to the Lord”). Long-term memory still working OK (for others to say) and have successfully (so far) avoided electrocution as an engineer.

    Moving to Oregon was a completely different experience. Everything changed at once, followed by four years of high school with classmates completely unknown to me from all grade-school years, followed by a year on the road with an R&B band, then Vietnam. Overall take-away (so far) is that being stretched a little (and sometimes a lot ) is essential to personal growth. Glad to be on this end of it.

    In a June 2012 interview of Joe Walsh in The Last Word section of Mens Journal Magazine , he said in part: “A philosopher said as we live life, it looks like random anarchy, one event smashing into another. But when you look back, life looks like a finely crafted novel”



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