My Language Learning Journey: German (Log: 04)

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“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” – Barack Obama.

I needed to take a small break from German in order to recharge before I gave myself a huge burnout from language learning, but also to center myself again. Why do I want to learn a foreign language? I’ve been questioning myself lately. The simplest answer: “because I want to”, and that’s the honest truth of it. A desire. There’s also things like wanting to discover a different culture than my own that can only truly be captured through the (foreign) language. Once I found some closure on that, I found myself slowly getting back into the groove again, which I’m delighted about. It’s something to look forward to with all the personal hardships I’ve been going through lately.

Anyway, I finally got through the glossary section of my grammar book that briefly explains German grammar terminology using English grammar terminology. I think it was great to get a feel of the grammar that I’m going to explore throughout this grammar book, which makes things a little less intimidating for me. As much as I like to try new things, I have to do it slowly else I scare myself off with no hopes of returning rather than if I lose interest, there’s still a chance that I’ll return. I’ve been trying to learn a foreign language since I’ve been in middle school with barely any success, but now that I have the time to dedicate myself to learning what I want to learn, I think I’m advancing much further than I thought I had the dedication for.

My library offers Pimsleur, which I’m on the waiting list for in multiple languages and am excited to go through. Listening is something that I haven’t been practicing much of, so since my library offers Pimsleur for free, I thought why not? It’s a nice basic supplement to the basic materials that I’m already going through to help me hone a basic understanding of the languages I want to learn, especially German. They have up to level four in German, I believe, which is something I can listen to while doing things around the house. I should be able to borrow the German I Pimsleur within a month.

I’m looking to browse through Steven Pinker’s The Language Instinct and Gabriel Wyner’s Fluent Forever soon as my library also has both available that I snagged for the time slot allotted (21 days long for each borrowing period. As I’m a slow reader nowadays, I take the whole time and still need more time, which sometimes I can borrow straightaway again or have to wait a while, but either way, it’s alright). I’m starting to also become interested in learning about language itself along with how to study language and how to do so efficiently. I like thinking about language and how I can attain more than my native language. Language is so complex, and there’s a lot of literature that’s starting to come out about it. Therefore, we’ll see where my studying with these books takes me!

Overall, I’m back in the mode to do some learning! I’m excited. Despite feeling intimidated every now and then about the sheer amount of knowledge awaiting me, I press on because it’s my desire to learn. It’s what I can control now which is something that I need. There’s a whole world out there to explore and taking control of my time to do something productive seems like something that will benefit me in the long run. I’d like to think the hard work will eventually be worth it.

My Personal Ideology: My Way of Living (1)

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“The thing is to understand myself: the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die. That is what I now recognize as the most important thing.” – Søren Kierkegaard.

To know who you are is important as who you are shapes your life. Existence precedes essence, and that it’s up to us to make do with what we have and form our essence based on that. We exist, and then we create, but what we create is different because no two people are the same.

Everyone has their own unique perspective – we witness the same events but we remember and recall through our perspective which may differ from the perspective of others who were also witnesses. In writing, there are multiple points of view. On the basic level, there is: first, second, and third point of view. There’s also omniscient and limited point of views which you’ll use depending on which person point of view that you’re using. All of this goes back to that there’s a lot that everyone can offer because we view things differently from one another. There’s a truth that’s true for you, and that can be used to find the ideology that you feel strongly about.

My constantly shaping ideology that I live by is: taking personal responsibility for myself, continue towards self-improvement, there’s always something to be learned, and doing my best to not consciously harm another person for whatever reason besides to defend myself. Treat thy neighbor as thou would treat thyself. My religious values play a large part in my philosophy – I believe in a benevolent God who through Jesus Christ forgave us for our sins and through belief in our lord savior, we will be saved. Treating others well, or at least being cordial to them even if I don’t feel warmly towards them, is a goal of mine that I try to implement as best as possible. I seek to live a life that’s dedicated to keeping my promises and being a good servant to my Lord Father which includes spreading love and kindness to others. People have been using God to spread their evil and hatred when Jesus tells us to love all. “He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’” (Matthew 22:37-40, NRSV w/A). These two commandments were emphasized by Jesus and both speak of love.

In addition, Jean-Paul Sartre has it right when he states: “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. It is up to you to give [life] a meaning.” We must take personal responsibility for ourselves because we are free. We are free to choose who we get to be. Even with my mental illnesses, I chose to seek help and be medicated when I desperately needed to be who I wanted to be and not what my mental illnesses wanted me to be. It’s up to me to give my life meaning, and through my hobbies, passions, and surrounding myself with people who help me think critically about my ideas, I find myself developing my philosophy that’s ever changing but solid in its foundation of: personal choice and freedom. In a sense, I do identify with being a Christian Existentialist.

I still have a problem with not letting my illnesses shape everything in my life, but it’s hard when my life is significantly impacted with how limiting my physical capabilities are now. However, I am moving on with getting my tests done including MRIs of my brain and cervical spine to see if there’s any lesions in my brain as my neurologist also thinks multiple sclerosis is a possibility, so we’re going to be thorough to be sure. It’s relieving how fast things are moving now to figure out what’s going on with me. I’m tired of feeling ill all day while being in a good amount of pain without knowing what’s causing all of it. Hopefully once we figure out the diagnosis, it’ll be something that’s curable. I need to keep the faith otherwise I’ll be lost in this pain, and I refuse to let pain be everything about me. I still have my hobbies. I still have a great relationship. I have a lot to be grateful for, and gratitude is an important way of looking at life as it’s just that wonderful to be grateful for things.

Coping with My Chronic Illnesses: A Pain-Filled World (02)

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“Of pain you could wish only one thing: that it should stop. Nothing in the world was so bad as physical pain. In the face of pain there are no heroes.” ― George Orwell, 1984.

I don’t recall ever being in this much pain before without respite. The pain started at the end of June and hasn’t gone away and it’s already nearing the end of July. Normally, there would be a day or two of pain respite, but that hasn’t happened since it started, which is driving me insane. This pain-filled world is what I think hell is like. I watched House M.D. about half a year ago when it was still on Netflix, and I identified a part of myself with Gregory House. Pain changes a person, especially when it’s always there and severely limits their ability to do something. It definitely can make them meaner. I don’t have enough energy to pretend that things are okay anymore. I can forget for a little while when I indulge in my hobbies or hang out with my SO or my friends, but the pain is always there at the back of my mind.

I can’t sleep well without medication anymore; otherwise, I’m waking up in the middle of the night due to pain. At least now I can sleep for several hours undisturbed by pain. I’m close to giving up and going to the emergency room due to the sheer amount of pain I’m in, but luckily, I managed to snag a doctor’s appointment at the neurologist on Monday, so hopefully that goes well! I just want the pain to stop. It’s consuming a lot of my thoughts lately even when I try to push them away.

On a happier note, for coping partly comes from finding good in tough situations, I’m blessed that my SO tries his best to make my life as comfortable as possible right now. I’d be lost without his support. The daily massages are a blessing and knowing that he has my back and is willing to see my illnesses through with me is a great comfort. I am cherished, and though my mind likes to play tricks and make me think otherwise, it always comes back to: “I am cherished.”

It’s a bitter pill to swallow that because of some of the things I was born with, I’m not healthy and am in pain sometimes because of it. Without these breakthrough gratitude moments, my life would be the hell my body wants it to be. However, fortunately enough for me, I am able to remember my blessings. I am able to remember God’s greatness and how despite the illnesses, I still have blessings in my life. I said my prayers today and remembered my place as a child of God and felt a little more hopeful that I may bear with all this pain as we figure out what exactly is going on. I have to keep the faith that we will be able to figure out what’s going on and figure out a way to help me with the pain.

Utilizing Patience is More Advantageous Than Not

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“This is one more piece of advice I have for you: don’t get impatient. Even if things are so tangled up you can’t do anything, don’t get desperate or blow a fuse and start yanking on one particular thread before it’s ready to come undone. You have to realize it’s going to be a long process and that you’ll work on things slowly, one at a time.” ― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood.

Patience is a virtue. It’s a form of delayed gratification knowing that if you endure now, you have a much greater potential for a higher reward in the future than if you didn’t endure in the present time. Patience’s definition per dictionary.com: “(1) the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like. (2) an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.”

I’ve learned that keeping your cool is important to not escalate the situation further. If I show my frustration to a worker about long wait times who’s not causing the delay but is a convenient target since they work there, I’m only creating a hostile situation. Rarely has being impatient ever helped me out.

With the amount of times that I’ve gone to the doctors and had to wait in the lobby for a few hours past my appointment time a few times (I once had a check-up appointment with a clinic that had strict hours and they ran out of time (even though my appointment was a few hours before closing so I had to go back the next day), that’s patience building right there as I’m forced to endure the wait times. There’s no use getting mad at the nurses or doctors who are just trying to do their jobs as sometimes situations arise that’s out of control that they need to focus more on. My impatience won’t get them to hurry up unless I’m doing it because there’s a genuine emergency that needs immediate attention ala it’s a life or death kind of situation. There is no need to ruin their day as they’re not out to get me with all these delays. Otherwise, utilizing patience to the best of my ability makes things just nicer now that I’m not focusing on the annoyance of being forced to wait hours past my appointment time and instead focus on what I could be doing during those wait times like learning something, planning stuff, or playing a game or reading Reddit. Thank you, smart phones.

Another opportunity that has taught me patience is my exploration into language learning. It’s taught me that I need to continuously and consistently put in the time and effort if I hope to remotely succeed in my endeavors. Learning a language takes time. It’s like starting off as a seed and you continue to grow until you bloom into a flower. I won’t be learning and understanding everything that I learn for the first time, and even with the delay in language learning, being patient and not erupting in anger results in more positive results. By exercising patience despite feeling like my growth is going too slowly, I’ll continue to feel the interest in learning. Learning a language is a lifetime opportunity. I’ve been learning English all my life as a native speaker, and there is still more to the language that I can learn and apply to my communication skills.

Getting frustrated and annoyed at things that causes you delay which are also ultimately out of your control is detrimental to you in the long run. There’s a saying in Hawaii that goes: “If can, can. If no can, no can.” If there’s literally nothing that you can do about the situation until later, then exercise patience in the moment while knowing that there is something you can do in the future. However, that’s not to say that you should block out your emotions when using patience. When you feel the emotions, acknowledge it, but don’t allow it to overtake you. Let it pass.

Of course, patience is easier said than done, but you can build up to having a large repertoire of it. Patience is a deliberate practice that you can exercise and grow. I’m much more patient now than I was as a child, but there’s still a lot that I can work towards being patient with. It’s always a self-improvement experience if your goal is to improve yourself, and patience is something that people who want to improve themselves should strive to attain and maintain.

Coping with My Chronic Illnesses: Some Thoughts (01)

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“Those great wars which the body wages with the mind a slave to it, in the solitude of the bedroom against the assault of fever or the oncome of melancholia, are neglected. Nor is the reason far to seek. To look these things squarely in the face would need the courage of a lion tamer; a robust philosophy; a reason rooted in the bowels of the earth.” – Virginia Woolf, On Being Ill.

There are some days that you feel ill from the very moment you wake up. Your body is waging a war with your mind. How can you face it? You know something is not right; you’re unhealthy. You’re not at the top shape you know you could be if your body and/or your mind wasn’t failing you. The constant onslaught of a chronic illness is enough to drive people crazy, and as Woolf puts it: “To look these things squarely in the face would need the courage of a lion tamer; a robust philosophy; a reason rooted in the bowels of the earth.” Finding that reason can be hard, but it’s achievable. And then it’s being gritty and persisting in the direction you want your life to continue going despite the uncertainty of how the illness affects you on the timeline it affects you.

I can only plan as appropriately as I can, even if it’s not that far in advance, but that’s okay. I’m going by my timeline because my timeline involves being chronically ill that has no pattern beyond being every day. The intensity of the illnesses aren’t always the same on a day to day basis, but even on the better days, dealing with the illnesses is still stressful.

Still, slowly, you must fight on through the chronic illness. It’s tempting to give up. There’s nothing sweeter than temptation. I want to give up a lot, but I can’t. I refuse to. Taking each day, sometimes each hour, one at a time and slowing down is what’s best for me. That’s all I can handle sometimes, and that’s alright. Sometimes I’m so hard on myself even when everyone is telling me to take it easy. Truly, sometimes, you are your worst critic. Practicing self-compassion is another strategy to help with this.

Sometimes, my mind is hazy in the morning. It feels like I can’t quite understand what’s going on and nothing registers in me because of it. This feeling doesn’t last long, but sometimes it’s a little scary in retrospect. Moreover, my anxiety heightens the scariness as well when I can’t get it under control. Trying these coping methods helps a little, but ultimately when things are really bad, catharsis by crying and praying is the only thing that helps me feel remotely any better. Once the emotions are drained, it’s then possible to look at solutions as to how I can make myself comfortable while dealing with the chronic illness. For me, the pain won’t go away, but I can deal with it by not making it the center of every thought by trying to do the things that I need to get done or do my hobbies like reading or my language learning activities.

Regardless, things have been looking up emotional-wise. I’m glad that things have slowly gotten better over the past few weeks in all my personal relationships even if my physical health is deteriorating to balance out the emotional stability that I’ve slowly gained. However, I do my best to not allow my illnesses to interfere with my personal development as much as possible, and this blog helps me stay accountable while being a place where I feel willing to write down my thoughts.

My goal of self-improvement (among other goals) stems from wanting to have a better relationship with God, my SO, and myself as I deal with the fact that I’m more than likely won’t ever escape my chronic illnesses like I wished desperately to when I was a little girl. It’s a continuous challenge, especially as my illnesses sometimes dominates my mind and body, but as I stated before, achievable. As Albert Einstein said: “You never fail until you stop trying.” I’ll only fail at my goal when I stop trying so as I don’t like failing, I obviously can’t stop trying.

Structure: Using A Weekly Planner To Build Discipline and Productivity

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“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” ― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

I used two free printable weekly calendar today to capture what I did. I did it on a note-taking box structure weekly planner printable and on a time management weekly planner printable with increments of half an hour that starts at 7am and ends 11pm. I find that it helps me feel more productive (or not) as I track what I’ve done during the day, especially using the time management weekly planner printable. I hope that as I track more of what I do during the day, I start being more conscious of the use of my time to do the things that I want to do. Using these printables also gets rid of the anxiety I feel about perhaps not filling up a journal – say if I invested in a bullet journal (which failed epically the last time I tried a BuJo – I stopped within a month and a half!). That’s always been a problem for me. But now that it’s only a few pieces of paper at a time, I feel it’s more doable and the lack of anxiety makes me feel like I’m capable of being more productive. At any rate, it’s nice to see what I get up to during the day. It’s less of planning at the moment, and rather a matter of tracking what I’ve already done. It’s to develop being conscientious of the use of my time so that once I build the habit of doing and for longer periods of time, things will hopefully naturally fall into place to where I begin achieving more of my goals.

Most of the problem stems from my lack of discipline in doing things, which I hope that once I get a decent look at what I do typically, I can work towards getting what I believe to be productive things done rather than mindlessly go through articles or stories, reading but not really absorbing. I really want to discipline myself to read more fiction, nonfiction, dedicate more time to language studying, and still get the housework done and not overwhelm myself with everything plus dealing with my illnesses. I just have to work at chipping at it little by little until I finally cross that milestone. For now, I need to form positive habits in order to reach my goals, and I’ll get there little by little! Patience is a key to all of this as well. I can’t expect it to happen overnight, and I must continuously strive to improve myself each and every time, even and especially when I fail.


Printable Sources:

Free Printable Planner Forms, Calendars, and Checklists from OrganizedHome.com. <http://organizedhome.com&gt;.

Student Handouts, Inc. <http://www.studenthandouts.com>.

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

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“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?