⏭️ #AtoZChallenge: N is for Next


I watched Marie, then a toddler, try to pick up all her toys in one armful. She lost a stuffed bear or ball every time she added play food or a doll.

For the A to Z Challenge today, N is for Next. It’s in homage to growth, progress, and the journey, not just the destination. Next makes me think of Marie’s toddler struggle that day, although I’m sure she doesn’t remember it.

Her flowing brown hair fell in her face as she tried.

She lost her balance and toppled to the side. Everything fell to the ground. I stayed back. She tried again. She got close. She lost things again. Then, after more struggle, I could see it. Her endeavor shifted.

She wrapped her arms around her toys, adding more and holding it together.

She didn’t get everything in her arms that day, but she got enough.

Growing words and moves


I’ve found Next happen for my soccer players who master a move or score their first goal. I notice it in my daughters, who progress beyond my ability to coach them in the sport they love. I celebrate it in writers who grow with their words and unlock another Next.

Next often comes with complications.

It’s a smooth road turned curvy turned gravel and mud. It’s good health interrupted. It’s a slow descent, recognizable and seemingly inevitable.

It’s also a call, an email, a chance conversation that changes it all. Even if you make out the shape of Next, you might not detect its colors and textures yet. That’s okay. Next often emerges in brilliance we couldn’t have created on our own.

Tamara of Tamara (Like) Camera blog wrote of Life’s Awfully Big Adventure. The Adventure comes with more moving parts than Marie had toys. Elements stick and slip, settle in and stick out. When you labor to get your arms around it, you can’t see your Next.

As with Marie and my soccer players, I see the Next. I see it with better clarity than I see it for myself. I sit back and appreciate your journey to Next.

What about me?

My challenge: To be a good man, a role model and strength bearer, a confidant and protector and teacher, to my girls. To coach and guide, become a trusted corner, despite what my life’s record says about me.

My adventure: Living and learning it, growing myself, writing it in a blog that will be around for them long after I’m gone. It’s all in the next post, the next day, the next way to live my own challenge and adventure.

And try, like my little Marie, to wrap my arms around it.

next quote


  1. Lisa says:

    Awesome inspirational post Eli!! Have a wonderful rest of your week! Hugz Lisa and Bear

  2. Beautiful and I have no doubt you and your blog will continue to grow and be around for years to come now! 😉

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I’ll stay on it, Janine. Thanks!

  3. vrein11 says:

    I love this!! Thanks so much for sharing your heart here. I am enjoying your perspective on your girls- they are lucky young women!! Blessings on your blog and your family!!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thank you! This spot is a good place to get it all out. I’m the lucky one. They’ve enriched my life in incredible ways.

      1. vrein11 says:

        They really do!!

  4. roweeee says:

    Thanks so much, Eli. That quote at the end was for me today. My Dad sold the family beach house at Palm Beach today and we move out for good in 3 weeks. I feel guttered in so many ways but I am telling myself that something super good must be just around the corner. Life doesn’t end here. New opportunities will come. It will be okay.

  5. This is excellent, Eli — I love the metaphor of wisdom, and you are a really good writer. I think some of our best writers are sports writers, and you are among those. I am so glad you visited my blog and we connected. I really like your concise, sharp, witty writing. I have shared your “Next” post on my Facebook page, carol.child.7. My real name is Carol Child, my pen name is Samantha Mozart.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thank you – that’s high praise from a published writer. I’ve always felt sportwriters who stayed true to the art of writing seemed to tell a better story than those who got caught up in hype writing (thanks for that, ESPN!)

      Glad we connected through the A to Z Challenge, and I look forward to reading more of you. I used the Hemingway app for a while. My sentences got shorter and sharper as a result, I think. (And that’s the only Hemingway trait I seemed to pick up.)

      Thanks so much for the Facebook share, too. Great to meet you, Carol.

  6. The next “next” is just around the corner, right?
    It’s good to have nexts.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      And there’s a next next after that …

  7. laurie27wsmith says:

    When you stop having ‘nexts’ it means you’re dead Mate. Keep having those nexts.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Amen, brother. You too.

  8. A.PROMPTreply says:

    This is a wonderful post, Eli! I’m so impressed. I came over to say thank you for the follow and now I find I can’t leave! So instead, I’m going to thank you for finding me so I can share your Next too!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thank you! It was great to find your blog in the A to Z Challenge. Stick around a while – there’s always plenty of snacks around here.

      Glad you can be part of my Next!

      1. A.PROMPTreply says:

        Oh, I’ll be around don’t worry! Look forward to it very much!

  9. Lisa @ The Golden Spoons says:

    Wonderful perspective!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      This A to Z Challenge has definitely taken me down an unexpected path, Lisa.

  10. mocadeaux says:

    Of course the best “next” is what happens after a goal is achieved – a new chapter. But we have to know that sometimes that “next” will be a challenge to overcome. I just love how your A to Z Challenge makes us all think about a topic from so many different angles.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It is cool to see what others come up with in this challenge. I’ve passed the halfway point! The Next is unknown, and that can be good and scary all at once.

  11. tamaralikecamera says:

    Funny because I barely remember that post and it’s not even that long ago. It was an adventure to open it back up again and try to channel what I was thinking when I wrote it.
    Truly I write with a force beyond my control. Each post is like a new me. A next me.
    Thank you.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I’ve loved seeing it, Tam. I’ve been reading for what, 7 years? I socked that one away and knew I’d want to write about it.

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