Posted in Learning, Studying, Reading, Personal

On Learning: Foreign Language

❝The limits of my language are the limits of my world.❞ ‒ Ludwig Wittgenstein

Are you trying to learn a foreign language? What language(s) are you trying to learn?

One of the things that I’m interested in learning throughout my life is language. In fact, I’d like to learn as much as five different languages with reading fluency before I die. Right now, I can read and speak my native Hawaiian Pidgin English and American Standard English, but I’m hoping to at least learn German (this is currently my main focus of my foreign language learning), French, Latin, and possibly conversational Lithuanian as well as to long-term goals in language learning.

I took foreign language courses throughout my education in school starting from high school where I studied Japanese for two years and then in college where I studied Spanish for two years. I can remember bits and pieces, but I remember not being interested in it because it was a requirement, and I didn’t really take those languages because I was interested in it to do more in those target languages. More so, at the time that I took those courses, I don’t believe I understood at all about language learning. I barely understood English grammar more than on an instinctive level. I didn’t really understand what declensions were and I barely understood conjugation and tenses even in English. It did take starting to learn a foreign language to start learning English on a more instinctive level. Ironically, for some reason, these types of knowledge didn’t really click on any level until I already graduated as foreign language learning remained one of my hardest subject in university. It’s funny how that works sometimes.

I’ve recently started using Memrise, Mango Languages, and random sites on the internet and some resources that I get from my local library to look for foreign language learning materials. There’s a lot of resources out there to help you learn many different languages. One of the things that I’m coming to realize that it’s truly all about the time and effort you place into learning. I’ve started using a casual sense of the Pomodoro technique for language learning so I know I’m at least setting aside some time and dedicating it all to my learning. It’s been useful to make sure I study at least 30 minutes a day. I like using the Memrise app on my phone. Even simply the process of sitting down and setting aside time helps to bring a productive mood out, which I feel has helped to retain enthusiasm into learning more.

Learning a foreign language is something that I’ve been trying since I was a little girl, but I never stuck it out with the consistency. Now that I’m actually comprehending what I’m learning and trying to make it fun, hopefully I’ll stick it out much longer than I’ve done so far.

Posted in Personal

Discipline Over Motivation

“True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading

How reliant are you on motivation? Do you practice discipline more than motivation or vice versa?

When it comes to most things, discipline typically is much better than waiting on motivation to strike. You build upon yourself with discipline as you force yourself on even the tougher days to continue your projects and assignments rather than procrastinating and hoping that motivation will happen and you’ll find your mojo to do your thing.

Per dictionary.com, discipline can be defined as an: “activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training.” Discipline becomes a habit over time. It’s important to make discipline a habit because its primary use is to train yourself in a skill. Discipline is a part of self-improvement. To self-improve, it takes a lot of hard work. That work will include times when there’s nothing more you want to do is quit, but you won’t because you want to be better. Discipline helps push you through, and it’ll be because of you and not some in the moment motivation that suddenly inspired you. No, it’ll be because you put in the time and effort to create hard work through your habit of utilizing discipline to attain true freedom by improving or developing whatever you focused your discipline on.

These past few weeks, I’ve come to realize how much I depend on motivation, especially in regards to how I feel emotionally. When I’m too stressed, I can’t function. I cannot think. I need a break. But one of the hardest things to do is to communicate that I need a break without lashing out. Emotionally, I am now practicing to feel my anger, but never let it overtake me as much as possible. Anger is draining, and it definitely hasn’t added to my life these past few weeks.

To cope emotionally, one of the things I’m working on is to become better disciplined in that even when I’m not feeling entirely good, I’ll still take the time to do my studying. It’s a work in progress, and there’s much improvement to be done, but I’m getting there. As yesterday has showed me, studying helped to take the pressure of stress off for a little while because it was something productive being done at the same time. Despite the stress, I managed to do something else, and that’s a good start compared to how I obsessively would think on the stress and completely overwhelm myself with thoughts alone. Sometimes taking things slowly one at a time is what you need rather than charging straight ahead and doing everything at once.

Remembering God and my faith is important as well. God is great, and continues to be great. He has helped me more than I feel I deserve, so through discipline I seek to become a better servant of the Lord. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, Both now and always, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.


Sources: “Discipline”. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 4 Jun. 2017. <Dictionary.com http://www.dictionary.com/browse/discipline>.

Posted in Personal

On Learning: Both A Lifestyle And A Goal

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin.

I was fortunate enough to have great professors who taught me and eventually involved me enough to discover great things through learning. I was a tutor at one point, and experienced what it was like to be on both sides – listener first, then teacher – and it helped to expand my horizons into learning.

Nowadays, I do all my learning by being an autodidact, but I’ll always be grateful to my university days where my professors pushed me to thinking beyond what I thought I was capable of, and they encouraged me to reach new heights whatever it would be. They didn’t always agree with what I said, but I never felt they hindered me, rather, they helped me grow. I’ve learned much by looking to my professors as mentors and treating them with respect. I could see how deeply they were interested in their chosen fields and the joy in them when they could help us learn about whatever their fields were. I always got hyped when I could tell a professor deeply loved talking about their subject, especially when it was a class that I chose because of my interest rather than needing it to graduate. My professors held me to a high standard, and I felt motivated to try (how could I not with such great people encouraging me?), and that has rubbed off on me now. I am now my own teacher through autodidacticism. I am involved in my learning as my professors had modeled for me and what I broke away from them to do on my own. I was fortunate to have teachers who guided me in the journey to finding my path to my passions.

Learning is a passion, which is helped by my other passion of reading. They tie in together nicely. Both were somethings that were there for me when I realized something abstract could be there for me. What I mean by that, is that learning gave me something to focus on. Learning is something that I’m dedicated to. It can be detrimental at times because ADHD kicks in and suddenly I’m learning random trivia that probably won’t help me out in life, but it’s a great journey either way, which reminds me of the poem: Ithaka by C.P Cavafy and translated by Edmund Keeley, which you can find here at Poetry Foundation in full. There’s even a zenpencils drawing of it by Gav that I highly recommend checking out here. And a disclaimer by Gav is that: the man in the drawing is not Odysseus.

I was introduced to this poem by a great professor of mine shortly after reading the Odyssey for one of my English courses in university a few years ago, and I’ve read it a few times since. I haven’t read it since last year, but I ended up reading it again a few days ago. It speaks to me year after year unfailingly. I actually got a little weepy this time around as I read it, especially the third stanza.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.

Arriving there is what you’re destined for.

But don’t hurry the journey at all.

Better if it lasts for years,

So you’re old by the time you reach the island,

Wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,

Not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Honestly, the power of this poem is felt from beginning to end. It really brings out that the journey is just as important as the end goal. Ithaka is both the goal and the journey, whatever your Ithaka may be. I’m still trying to find my way through life. My journey is still going, and I hope it goes on for a long while yet. It’d be filled with adventure, of discovery. I know I’ll have my obstacles just as Odysseus went against the Laistrygonians, Cyclops, and others, but being stronger in our soul helps us to not let the negativity overwhelm us. We’re going to feel the negativity, but we don’t need to bring it into our soul to fester and set it up in front of us each time a flame strikes it.

Posted in Review

Review – Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth (2016)

Finally! Here is my review of Angela Duckworth’s Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. There are a few spoilers here in this review, but I tried to limit myself with the points I specifically wanted to make this time around. It’s mostly from the early chapters, so the later chapters are relatively spoil-free, but two direct quotes from the conclusion chapter are near the end of the review, so beware!

There were two things that immediately caught my attention in the first chapter. First, “It was critically important – and not at all easy – to continue after failure.” Preach it, sister. Continuing after failure is one of the hardest things that I do in life, constantly. Each failure is a trial for me to overcome. Either I quit what I’m doing, or I’ll need to persevere. Reading Duckworth’s book reminded me of my choices, and it helped to bring out a commitment (as I read her book in the first place to self-improve and to have motivation) to something that I’m passionate about that I want to continue on doing with a purpose – reading and then having discussions with those here on my blog and my community, or at least somewhere to post it so I may go back later on and revisit this review should I ever reread Grit and see if I still feel the same way. All of this leads to the second point in the first chapter: “It’s a combination of passion and perseverance that made high achievers special – they had grit.” After having read this book, Grit is something that I want to implement in my life.

Growing up, and even now, I sometimes struggle with the Naturalness Bias, but I have been shown contrary to it by people I’ve been acquainted with through sports functions whenever I attended my siblings’ tournaments. “The Naturalness Bias is a hidden prejudice against those who’ve achieved what they have because they worked for it, and a hidden preference for those whom we think arrived at their place in life because they’re naturally talented.” I grew up in a culture that idolized those that successfully made it to the ‘top’. I watched people be pushed to their limits, and I watched them excel. And it’s because of that, that I saw all the arduous work and effort they put into the activity that pretty much dominated their life. They were talented, but they expanded their talent by putting in the effort, which culminated in great skill, and with more effort placed, I saw them achieve their victory. I hope I can get there too, one day, in my ultimate concern, but in the meantime, I can only do what I can do, and perhaps a little more. I need to keep putting in the effort to get there.

Duckworth develops a formula grit: “Talent x Effort = Skill —> Skill x Effort = Achievement.” She goes onto explaining how her formula functions: “Talent is how quickly your skills improve when you invest effort. Achievement is what happens when you take your acquired skills and use them…. When you consider individuals in identical circumstances, what each achieves depends on just two things – Talent and Effort. Talent – how fast we improve in skill – absolutely matters. But effort factors into the calculations twice, not once. Effort builds skill. At the same time, effort makes skills productive.” Her formula makes sense to me, personally, and I hope to utilize it to cultivate my ultimate concern of self-improvement for my loved ones and me. It does give me hope that as long as I keep at it, my talent and effort will result in skill, and my skill and further effort will hopefully result in achievement.

There are two ways to grow grit: on your own or with other’s help. Duckworth expands upon this in her conclusion: “On your own, you can grow grit ‘from the inside out!’: You can cultivate your interests. You can develop a habit of daily challenges – exceeding – skill practice. You can connect your work to a purpose beyond yourself. And you can learn to hope when all seems lost. You can also grow your grit ‘from the outside in!’ Parents, teachers, bosses, mentors, friends – developing your personal grit depends critically on other people.” I try my best to implement both, but I lean more toward a more solitary lifestyle that focuses on growing grit from the inside out.

One of the most important things that I thought essential that I took away from this book was: “So, finishing whatever you begin without exception is a good way to miss opportunities to start different, possibly better, things. Ideally, even if you’re discontinuing one activity and choosing different lower-order goals, you’re still holding fast to your ultimate concern.” I think it would be good to track what I’m doing at the very least on a day-to-day basis before capturing more nitty gritty details of how long I spent doing the activity, what exactly the activity was specifically, etc. I’m not quite sure exactly on the details, but it’s for sure that having read Grit, I am inspired to make a change for myself.

Overall, I think this book is great if you open yourself to its message and ultimately do what works for you. It was a wonderful read for me, and I highly recommend it. While working on your passion through perseverance, you’ll find if it’s genuine or not through the hard work that you put in. I’m blessed enough that I know I’ve found a genuine passion in reading and then sharing with others what I’ve learned. I give Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance a 5/5. You can also check out Angela Duckworth’s Ted Talk, where she talks about grit.

Posted in Personal

ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, and Stress Makes For An Awful Combination

How do you stop yourself from stressing out so much about stressing out because things have been uncertain lately? I’m beyond stressed at the moment. Not even the normal things that I like to do is helping. Everything feels like a chore, and so far today I have continued to treat everything like a chore. At the very least, my house is much cleaner than it has been in a while. I find that I do clean sometimes when I’m not feeling well. It sometimes exacerbates the pain, but when I realize that it means less work later on, the stress does lessen some but it’s still making me into a tight, raging ball of fire.

Moreover, I’ve started to realize that my crying fits are my way of catharsis. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Catharsis can be defined as: “a purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension” or “elimination of a complex by bringing it to consciousness and affording it expression” among a few other definitions.  I’m releasing the negativity in order to bring about a sense of release from tension and giving it expression by my physical way of crying. And taking the time to write about it here on my blog. Purging of negative emotions is one of the things that I try to do regularly because I often feel too much. I find emotional regulation challenging with my host of mental illnesses.

The days when my anxiety and depression hit are some of the worst days imaginable when combined with stress and my ADHD. Everything seems bleak even through my prayers. But thinking of prayers reminds me that I can only keep going forward. In the meantime, I’ll continue to try to do what I normally like. Hopefully the comfort just rolls off of it and into me.

Posted in Personal, religion

Bible Study: Romans 9 (NRSV)

I spent time last night listening to a recording of the book of Romans in the New Testament and completed it. I followed the audio by silently reading the text at the same time. It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything remotely like that, but it felt kind of nice. This was the first time that I read entirety of the Book of Romans (I’ve read parts of it before), so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Taking the time to soak it in what I read and reflect is something that I want to do more. At the end, I found myself mulling over Chapter Nine especially.

God, as creator of all, is the one to choose what to do with you as he wishes. Verses 14-18 go:

What then are we to say? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh, “I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. So then he has mercy on whomever he chooses, and he hardens the heart of whomever he chooses.”

God will have mercy for whoever He wishes to have mercy for, and same with compassion. There is no injustice because it is His will, and He is acting upon a divine level that’s not depending on human will or exertion. Moreover, Paul recalls God’s hardening of the Pharaoh’s heart as Moses goes to the Pharaoh to gain the release of his people to show the greatness of God. God has a plan for His people and beloved, and if He has the will to make it so, it will happen.

Later, Paul follows this up in verses 20, 22, and 23:

But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God…? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath that are made for destruction; and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory.

Echoing through my mind after I read this was: Who are we to thoughtlessly judge our creator?

Ultimately, these verses made me think of suffering and why God would allow it to happen. To know one extreme is to reveal the other. On a personal level, being constantly ill, and having been that way since I was young, I wondered why I was so sick, why I was in so much pain while I was so young, why I couldn’t be as healthy as my friends or even as healthy as my siblings. Even on a grander scale like how could God ever allow something like the World Wars and other terrorist attacks to happen. But Paul reminds me to look underneath the underneath. God has endured the flaws of humanity with occasional shows of enforcing His wrath to prepare us for His ultimate goal:” To make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory.” With the life that I have now, I must make the best of it even with the obstacles placed before me.

The ending of the chapter speaks out to me the most of relying on faith. I am a Gentile. The inclusion of God accepting us as His people and of being His beloved speaks to me. Through my faith, I pray that God continues to guide my loved ones and I through life. The belief that God has a plan for us that surpasses the suffering is one I believe in.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Posted in Personal, Review

On Studying Books: The Basic Process

I do have somewhat of a process that I follow when it comes to reading books that I want to retain information about, and often will want to place in my Commonplace Binder, which is based on the Commonplace book. Perhaps it’s a nonfiction book about self-improvement or history, or even perhaps it’s a fictional classic. Regardless, I have relatively the same process of studying books whether it’s fiction or nonfiction.

1.       Read the book cover to cover and highlight quotes.

2.       Go back to those quotes, write down, often word for word, on pieces of filler paper (written in ink, on front and back of the pages) to be placed in my Common Place binder, to soak in the words.

3.       Then, I often will write a review (currently, the best example of how I do this would be how I did my Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard review where I used a lot of quotes and expanded until I hopefully finish the review for Angela Duckworth’s Grit – aiming for it to be out by Monday) while going through the notes I took to also get a more personal part of the process of what I liked, what spoke to me about the book, etc.

I like collecting a huge number of quotes from the book I’m studying as you can see from my notetaking of Duckworth’s Grit. The part of taking the time to write the information down physically and look over it every now and then is most important for me. Then, I tie it altogether into one review in one long process. When I want to intensely study a book, I do not skip any of these steps. I don’t do this for every book, but every now and then, I feel inspired from the author’s words and I want to write them down as is, take the time to mull on them, and then write down my thoughts. The third step is often the hardest for me sometimes.

I get a lot of ideas swirling in my head, but when I go for the paper, it’s like all the thoughts I had evaporated. Sometimes I manage to get it down; most times the ideas never make it to the paper. It’s a struggle that I’m trying to overcome. I’ve invested in a few A5 Muji notebooks so I could start taking these with me outside, and hopefully I’ll be more inclined to write things down. I like going outside with the intent to sit down somewhere and study. It’s something that’s stayed with me since college.