Posted in Personal, religion, Learning, Studying, Reading

On Learning: Some Thoughts on Language, Planning, and Resources

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

I’m blessed to have the time to dedicate a large amount of time to my intellectual and religious pursuits. Studying and learning about things is something that makes me happy.

Yesterday, I was talking to my SO about language. My SO likes to be concise with his words – if anything, this being one of his favored styles is reflective of how Ernest Hemmingway writes. My SO likes how you can pack a lot of meaning into a few words. I, myself, favor allusive-heavy styles of writing. Whenever I read a literary work that incorporates references that I can recognize (like a Biblical reference where I’ve actually read the Bible chapter the reference came from), I always get giddy. I find myself enjoying the work more. It’s one of the reasons why I enjoyed T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, which I had to read with Norton footnotes, but recognizing Tiresias because I’ve read both Oedipus and Antigone by Sophocles was hype. Is there a style that you enjoy? Do you prefer novels or poetry or nonfiction?

You can add me on Goodreads and check out what I’ve read so far. However, the only book reviews I have besides star ratings are the reviews found on my blog at the moment. I’m planning on putting my reviews both on Goodreads and here for book reviews starting from the next review.

My German is slowly moving along. I found a few grammar sources that I can hopefully pair with all the vocabulary I’ve been learning through Memrise. I’ve always wanted to learn a foreign language besides my native Hawaiian Pidgin English/American Standard English and making progress (even if slow) in German purely by self-study feels great.

In addition, I’ve been scouring my library’s Overdrive collection these past few days and have been adding a lot of books to my wish list. There’s so much to read that I don’t even know where to begin! I’m going for nonfiction as I’m currently reading a fiction (Virgil’s The Aeneid). Go and take a trip out to your local library or if you already have a library card, you can google your library’s website and see if they offer anything online that’s available to those with a library card. You’ll be surprised at the amount resources that suddenly becomes available to you; I know I was. It makes it a little easier to feel like I have more scholarly resources available to me despite not being affiliated with a university anymore as I graduated last year. I didn’t think I’d be looking through EBSCO again since I left university.

I’ve also been diving into Itunes’s podcasts and their university courses – all of which are free. I encourage you all to check it out if you do use Itunes and are wanting to get into listening to podcasts. I’m currently going through Brown University’s From Israelite to Jew by Michael Satlow. I’ve been interested in Ancient Near East lately and listening to Satlow’s course introduces me to the subject pretty well, I’d like to think. Itunes offers a variety of podcasts and university courses and is overall a great resource for learning.

All in all, I’m using the rest of this month to plan for next month. I’m also sampling some of the things I want to do such as skimming over the German grammar book I just got. I want to be a bit more organized with my studying next month including having goals for what I want to achieve for the month, schedule times to study, etc. I think that will definitely take a couple of days. I’d like to compare how I feel after a month of diligent studying that I haven’t done since my university days. I’m excited! Do you plan out your studying schedule for subjects?

Posted in Classics 2017 Challenge, Learning, Studying, Reading, Personal

Getting Back Into the Groove

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring.

Life likes to knock you one regardless if you’re looking or not, and it’s up to you to pick yourself up after he has knocked you down.

The days have passed by in somewhat of a tired, painful, blur these past few days. I’ve been worrying heavily since my doctor indicated that multiple sclerosis is on the table and now I’m being referred to a neurologist. Hopefully things are resolved, and I find out just what exactly I may have. Back in 2009, I had an episode of optic neuritis, which can be an early sign of multiple sclerosis. Of course, I need to go for further testing. I’m trying to relax, but it can be pretty hard when symptoms seem to be lining up for now, but I suppose that could be me with confirmation bias, which might not be the reality of the matter at all. I really need to relax. I’m praying that it’s not multiple sclerosis, but even if it’s not, there’s still a lot of pain and fatigue that still occurs. I also can’t quite leave my home much due to the intense heat with my heat intolerance. I don’t think life is meant to feel like a trap, but it does at the moment with being so ill.

Despite all the ill feelings, I’ve managed to get some reading done towards the Classics challenge I’m going this year. I’m finally tackling Virgil’s The Aeneid. I really like it so far. I’m reading Fagles’ verse translation of the Latin classic, which has made me think of learning more about poetry. For someone who has difficulty with poetry, what text would you recommend to help get a feel for poetic analysis? I enjoy more ancient and early modern poetry than modern and postmodern poetry. Are there sources where I can also read about the types of poetic styles (I suppose that’s based quite a bit on time period?) that writer’s employed during ancient and early modern periods e.g. metaphysical poetry for early modern?

I’ve also completed the German 1 course on Memrise. I’ll be moving onto the second course soon. I’m actually enjoying the time I spend on Memrise. It feels very much like a game to me that I’m slowly learning German vocabulary from. Are there any resources for free that anyone would recommend to someone who’s primary focus is to read German?

As it stands, even when I’m feeling ill, I don’t want to waste majority of the day lost in a haze where I’m probably zoning out on Reddit, watching Netflix, or on my mobile game. Doing chores is one of the most productive things I do outside of my studying and taking care of myself and my loved ones. Staying productive helps to not sink fully into a major depression as my tendency to stop things I enjoy is a prominent symptom when I’m spiraling into a more major depressive state. It’s a struggle, but at least there are moments where things are good, God is gracious, and I have relatively pain-free and depressive-free days. Rarely do they occur, but they are cherished moments. It’s up to me on what to do with the time that I do have, so I personally would like to do things that I view as productive which is sometimes a struggle, but it’s always a proud moment when I do manage to succeed.

Posted in Personal, religion

On Relaxation: Some Ways to Help Calm Unwanted Thoughts

After the stress of my last post, I’ve been experimenting with things to help me out when unwanted thoughts are invading my mind. By unwanted thoughts, I mean thoughts that have no benefits to me at all such as me thinking that I’m worthless and that I don’t deserve anything because I have mental and physical illnesses that aren’t easy to deal with. I’ve found that breathing meditation doesn’t help me unless it’s to help with my panic attacks. In fact, for some reason, if I do it with other things besides my panic attacks, I’d go into rage inducing moments the moment I would stop the breathing exercises. I had to give up on that one. However, there were a few that have worked out for me so far. It’s a combination of the three in the end that have helped me the most:

  1. Count numbers. I came across this idea on reddit. The idea, as far as I understand it, behind it is that you can’t pay attention to unwanted thoughts and something else that you can focus on. I’m not a big fan of math, and I’ve found that it helps to immediately stop the thoughts. Eventually the thoughts return, but in the heat of the moment when I’m starting to get lost in flashbacks or anxiety, counting numbers helped break me out of it once I realized what was going on a few times long enough for me to do something else to calm down.
  2. Listening to music and singing along. This goes along with the idea behind counting numbers. It gives me something to focus on. Sometimes the lyrics match my mood as I seek it out; other times, I look for music that would help to lift me out of the mood I’ve found myself falling into. I’ve been listening to Michael Bolton’s Go the Distance. It’s old, it’s great, and it’s Hercules. Listening to music and singing along gets me in a mood to just jam out sometimes, which can get really fun for a while after being lost because of my thoughts.
  3. Praying silently or aloud. My rosary helps ground me as I meditate and give prayer to God. It helps me not get too lost in my own mind even when I’m praying. Having the rosary and praying as both to help in connecting with God creates a focus.

I came across this prayer (the mystery of sorrowful Tuesday) while wanting to learn more on praying using a rosary: “My children, never seek your comfort in anyone but God. In your times of loneliness, in your times of depression, in your times of doubt, have recourse to prayer. When you go to the Father, offer this mystery for those who are in doubt: those who do not know where to turn to: those who are depressed: the mentally ill: the emotionally ill. Pray that as the Father sent an angel to comfort my Son, the Lord in His mercy will comfort them and enlighten them.” Meditating on it, I found some comfort. For someone I feel as unworthy as me, I pray that the Father’s mercy will comfort and enlighten me so that I may heal in mind and spirit, as I lay my allegiance to my Lord God.

Overall, it’s been hard. My teeth have been grinding again too. It’s easy to be exhausted when mentally and physically you’re not feeling well. In a way, I think I’ve quieted down these past few days. I’m so tired. I’ve honestly lost count on how many times I’ve said: “I’m tired” this past month. I’ve hardly been able to relax this past month. A short-term goal for the rest of the month is to relax and work on not letting the anxiety, depression, and stress take over. It’s a tough road, but I hope as I continue to fight off these mental illnesses that I’ll eventually overcome them.

Keeping the faith can be hard, but it’s something alongside hope that helps to keep me going at times.


Sources:

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/mystery.php?id=2#1

 

Posted in Personal

Lost a Part of Myself

Sometimes the depression, anxiety, and stress are so bad that it affects me physiologically. I get intense nausea, sometimes short of breath, and even what seems like streaks across my chest sometimes almost like a panic attack. I’m kind of lost at the moment. I’m not quite sure what to do anymore. I think this past month, I lost a part of myself with all the stress. I’m not sure how to gain it back.

One of the things that’s been helping me are my prayers, but the feelings of anxiety always return. I’m tired of feeling like this. I’m tired of crying. It’s a strange mixture of feeling tired of both wanting to live and die. I’m so tired…

Posted in Learning, Studying, Reading, religion

Praying Aloud + Bible Study

Praying aloud helps to calm me. It helps to give focus back into my life rather than a chaotic whirl of frustration and stress. It’s important to remember that God is good. Every time I pray aloud, I feel a slow calm wash over me as if God is slowly embracing me as I pray to him for whatever it is that I’m praying for/about. I’m always so grateful to Our Father in Heaven. In Him I gain strength even when I don’t think I can go on. Hope and faith in Him who loves us helps carry me on when times are hard.

I’m trying my best to go about trying to figure out my way of studying the Bible. I recently finished Jen Wilkin’s Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds. I’m also going to be starting William W. Klein’s Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Revised and Updated).

In addition, one of the things that I’m having trouble deciding on is if I should read the Bible in chronological order as I start to get to know the text or if it would be fine to hop around and read the books of the Bible in random order. Also, who should I look into for scholastic work on the Bible? Who would you recommend to read about the history of Christianity or even further back to including the history of Judaism? I’d like to gain knowledge on a broad overview of the history of the Hebrews.

While I decide how I’ll go about with my personal Bible Study and more academic Bible Study by figuring out secondary sources to go along with those reading, I’ll been listening to audio version of the NRSV of the Bible in the meantime. YouTube is great for this. Sometimes I like to follow along with the texts, other times, I like to listen to the Bible while doing chores that take minimal amount of thought so I can focus more on the Bible. There’s no rush to learning God’s Word. In fact, I’d rather take my time so that I may immerse myself in His Word. I look forward to my Bible Study.

Posted in Learning, Studying, Reading

Using the Arts to Learn

“Funny how a beautiful song could tell such a sad story.” – Sarah Dessen, Lock and Key

Listening to the musical Hamilton’s soundtrack often sends me into a whirl of emotions. I’ve been listening to It’s Quiet Uptown by the original Broadway cast as well as the Kelly Clarkson cover for the mixtape version of the musical for the past week – both are amazing. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve cried whenever I put it on. It still hits me in the feels when I hear it. I encourage you all to listen to It’s Quiet Uptown. Truly a lovely song. It’s truly unimaginable to me what they might’ve gone through with Philip’s death and the circumstances as to why it happened in the first. Dessen’s quote is perfect for It’s Quiet Uptown. The song is a beautiful song, and yet it tells such a sad story.

Lyrics enhanced by music can make for great storytelling. Hamilton is one of the many examples of people using the arts as a medium to tell a story. Thanks to Hamilton, I learned the story of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton and a little more on Alexander Hamilton. I had researched Alexander Hamilton when I was a little girl so I could faintly recall some details such as his affair and that he was important as a founding father, but the musical helped to tell the story of him and his wife to a broader audience who may or may not have known anything about Hamilton beyond that he’s on our $10 bill. Having listened to Hamilton’s soundtrack and watched a bit of the musical from YouTube, I sought to learn more on my own because it interested me to learn more.

When I learn about history, I typically like to learn about politics and wars, but lately I’ve been seeing opportunities to learn more about great women that did things on a domestic level like Hamilton’s wife Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton who was an amazing woman who did great things such as establishing New York’s first private orphanage, which now operates as family services called agency Graham Windham. I’m filled with admiration for a woman who suffered such setbacks in life, but still pushed on forward to do great things with her life. Eliza is a heroine in her own right. It’s touching that Eliza would spend a good portion of her life after Hamilton’s death to preserving his legacy in good faith, and that even when she was suffering from short-term memory loss, Eliza could still remember her Alexander vividly (1).

Posted in Learning, Studying, Reading, Personal, Uncategorized

On Learning: Impatience and The Process of Taking a Rain Check

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” – Heraclitus

I can be impatient when it comes to learning. I want to understand everything that I’m learning about immediately. But that’s not how it works, unfortunately! I have trouble with recalling information, which makes utilizing what I learn hard, but I’ve been trying to compensate by doing rote memorization for things such as vocabulary building (Memrise is pretty fun for this) or memorizing the routine of household chores so I don’t forget to do a chore which has happened on multiple occasions. It also called for emergency scrambling because of how unprepared we were, and I end up a mess with my lack of emotional regulation (which I am working on!). It’s a tough life being unmedicated as an ADHD person after having been medicated for a while – I can tell the difference from the days when I was medicated and when I’m not – but it’s livable as most things I’m actually required to do can be done unmedicated. It takes a lot of patience, which God bless my SO has been showering me in, and most things end up a success with the combined powers of my SO and I. I truly feel blessed by God with having my SO. I’ve learned so much from him, and what works for the two of us. Learning never ends.

I also take the time to think deeply on subjects that I’m learning about, especially when I’m willing to read and note-take (and sometimes application) for hours on end about whatever it is that I want to learn. Those days can be fun as a few times I get into flow mode. Other times, it’s more deliberate learning.

Overall, you just have to enjoy the journey, not just the end results. It’s hard sometimes to be so wanting to understand something but for some reason, it’s just not clicking. You go through all the steps leading up to it, and yet something is still wrong, but in the massive number of steps taking, you don’t even know where you went wrong. Those are the days where I need to stop, put it off for a while, and then come back to it and rinse and repeat. Eventually, even if it’s years later, if I’ve been revisiting enough and each time putting in genuine effort and perseverance, I start understanding more and more even if I never fully understand everything. Each time I picked it up and tried again, especially in foreign language, gets me a little further in understanding each time that actually sticks.

Going back to Heraclitus’s quote, I identify with it with the way I learn. I do sometimes feel that when I’ve reread a book after having not read it for several years. Metaphorically, for me at least, neither the story nor I am typically the same as the first time I’ve read the book, and that’s why I identified with Heraclitus’s quote. I’ve reread books that I’ve remembered the general plot, but the narrative itself struck me differently as I noticed and examined the book more closely than I did the first time around. This taking of a rain check of promising to come back later and revisit what I originally wanted to learn is something that happens enough times that I’ve come to appreciate how much it works for me in attaining knowledge that I’m persistent enough to chase throughout my lifetime. Learning never stops; learning never ends. Even if you have to set it aside for a while because you’re not getting it and returning to it later may cause a considerable improvement. It took me years before I gained a basic understanding of reading Shakespeare despite having to read him throughout high school. It wasn’t until my last two years in my undergraduate study in English Literature that I had some kind of breakthrough of being able to think more critically on the Bard and his works, and even now there’s a lot that I can still learn. The journey is still on-going – it’s fantastic.