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.

My Language Learning Journey: German (Log: 02)

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Whenever I have the smallest inclination to research whatever interests me at that moment, and I have the time, I rarely hesitate to look things up and get lost in the information for a while. One of my teachers in high school once announced to the class something along the lines of: “If you have questions, google them.” Lately, I have been looking up resources for language learning even though I have enough to at least satisfy the requirements of my personal language learning journey for the next several months without needing to look up another single resource.

A few days ago, I came across the Rosetta Stone answer keys and workbooks online. They have pdfs on their site for free for English, French, German, Latin, and Spanish. Considering that the answer key also comes with the student workbook for homeschool, I think it’s fine to use separately from RS’s audio for the most part. The structure reminds me of the structure of my old Spanish workbook that I used when I took Spanish in university (which I came out at A1-A2 at best). I’ve tried out a few of the German lessons (level 1, of course) of the RS supplemental education material and will plan to eventually get through the workbook as I continue my German language learning journey. So far so good as far as I can tell. I can get the gist of the directions through reading it and looking at the examples.

In addition, I’ve done language learning before in attempting to learn Japanese and Spanish, but neither worked out because I eventually lost interest, especially when I took them in university. I find an university’s language learning structure doesn’t work for me because my goals for learning a language is geared towards reading and writing rather than listening or speaking, and an university’s language learning is geared towards all four plus the vocabulary isn’t geared towards the things that I want to read or write about.

Lastly, I’ve started up doing Duolingo through the desktop for German, which is nice because there is some grammar points they put up that nicely introduces the concepts. I’ll be studying it more in depth later with my grammar book, but to get a little introduction by Duolingo that’s reinforced by basic structures to help home in the concepts is great. Now that I’m using Duolingo more; however, Memrise has been shown a little less attention, but it’s still my main app for vocabulary building. I can recognize and recall a good portion of the root words that I’ve been learning when I’m reading German posts on Reddit or the Bible, etc, which is more than I could do last month when I was first began really putting in the effort. Considering that I normally try to learn 50-100 words of vocabulary a week with constant review, I think I’m finally getting somewhere – so far I’d estimate that I know about 100 words easily. However, I need to start learning the grammar side of things soon. Either way, I’m happy that I’m progressing! It truly does motivate me to continue my language learning journey.

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.

On Learning: Some Thoughts on the Importance of Critical Thinking

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“Whenever we hear an opinion and believe it, we make an agreement, and it becomes part of our belief system.” ― Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom.

“Believe what you like, but don’t believe everything you read without questioning it.”
― Pauline Baynes, Questionable Creatures: A Bestiary.

There are two quotes today because when I came across them, I thought they fit well with each other. Both are based in the thinking process of the absorption of information. Miguel Ruiz reminds us that when we absorb information and believe in it, we’re agreeing with what’s said, and it becomes a part of us. Moreover, Pauline Baynes puts it succinctly in that we can believe in whatever we want, but we probably should not believe in everything that we read without questioning it. Her quote bears an implication that to do so is something negative. In their words, I gain the feeling of needing to be personally responsible for the information I absorb.

Critical thinking is hard. It’s something that’s learned and developed. It’s a skill that can develop into an enlightening lifestyle if you constantly seek it out.

There’s a lot of information out in the web and, often, it’s hard to critically evaluate the information if you aren’t trained to look beyond the first source you see that confirms your bias (otherwise known as confirmation bias). When seeking out information, do you stop to think: “How credible is this source where the information came from? Why?” or “Are there other reputable sources corroborating this story?” There’s obviously more questions to ponder as you contemplate the validity of a source, but it’s a good start to begin thinking why a source is credible and reputable.

You can go even further and contemplate what it might mean to you as a consumer of the source material for having learned about it. What does learning about the source material mean for you? What does it do for you? Are you looking up the information for entertainment purposes? Or perhaps you’re looking for research material for school? One will lead to a more rigorous scrutiny, but there’s something to be said for developing and using the skill that allows you to better think about the information you’re consuming and thinking about the reasons on why you’re consuming that information in the first place.

Being able to critically evaluate information is an important skill in life. Practice makes perfect. Being conscientious of the information you’re absorbing is just as important as well. This is information that you’re willing to accommodate or assimilate into your memory, so be tough on the information and try to seek out variety of sources to corroborate the information if possible and build upon there to critically think on the information.

Without being able to critically evaluate information, your gullibility will cause people to pull fast ones over you because they know they can get you to believe them. However, one thing to remember is that people are human. Humans make mistakes. People will make mistakes, and someone who is typically credible will make a blunder. Essentially, it’s much better to constantly be vigilant and rely on yourself as the final judgment call of your thinking, as you work to critically evaluate the thoughts of others and what figure out what the consumption of the source material means for you.

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>.