It’s ok to take a break

As you may have noticed the primary purpose of this blog is to write about things that are Greek in some way. I don’t always have sufficient material to write this so sometimes I take a break and write about things that while not inherently Greek; perhaps got there start there or have a rather tenuous link to the Greek culture etc

I get distracted easily so I often having many projects on the go. Reading a Greek newspaper is very demanding as I have to look up lots of words etc so if I’m not in the best of health like right now; I will chose easier hobbies like watching videos about how Greeks came to America…

It is ok when you are focusing on something so much to allow yourself a little time off. This often provides clarity and stops you getting into a rut. As an example, one of my friends is getting married soon and we went dress shopping but since she had seen so many dresses, she was getting colourdrunk. The more common phrase for this scenario is you can’t see the wood for the trees or you can’t see the bigger picture as your focusing too much on the detail.

These things trip us up more than we think and we mentally berate ourselves for not doing enough or for not being perfect. We are all human at the end of the day so we need to take a chill pill occasionally.

After the break we should have regained our energy to be able to fire on all cylinders once again. However we have to be careful not to continue with the same habits that created the problem in the first place. Our daily lives need to be adjusted to cope with more flexible working hours etc. Re-education is a constant way of reminding ourselves that there are always better ways to do things both at work and at home. Innovation only comes through rest though as stress is its opposite.

So here I am, Angela the English Introvert taking a break like I do most weekends in a bid to find some creative energy to make comment worthy posts. Filakia (little kisses) as is said in Greece.

The public and private persona

I’m not sure how much this is true of neurotypical people but this is most certainly true of autistic guys. If you confront an autistic guy in a public arena with what he has said to you privately he will deny that it’s actually true. If however you confront an autistic guy when he is in his private mode, usually when drinking if he is not alone with you, he will admit to be being completely different as this is what the world expects of him. So the Jekyll and Hyde aspect of autism continues but in a way that I didn’t expect until I discovered it in 2 of my friends today. I do this to a certain extent myself. I know this is a very short post but sometimes they are the best as they tell you exactly what you want to know in the smallest amount of words.

Momentum

This is the energy that is gained when you have started a project and you really feel like your understanding your audience now. It gives you that impetus to continue making more work and allows you to overcome minor obstacles that occur in your path. Depending on how much speed you have acquired, the force that is present will propel you to greater things or it will left you languishing in the doldrums if sufficient friction is encountered.

Momentum can also be considered motivation if you don’t like the physics analogy that I was using. Sometimes looking at things from a different perspective is all that is required to create innovation or to breathe new life into an old idea.

Whatever terminology you like, find your specific angle and pursuit it with all your strength. You will find that you have a lot less resistance from yourself if you work with what you are good at regardless of profitability. The inertia that has previously been holding you back will disappear and the acceleration towards your goal will be phenomenal. The velocity that is unleashed when you know your purpose is unlike anything you will have seen before.

Just know that you may have to conduct many experiments before finding out the correct materials to use but once you have it figured out, the mathematics of it all will seem like child’s play. You will perhaps also wonder how you could have gone on for so long without knowing what appears to be so obvious now.

Perception

I recently wrote a fairy tale romance short story :-

A life of Halcyon Days

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07MWBZTCR/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_awdb_t1_ujfsCb8KAF56Y

and to me it’s obvious who the characters are based on. I gave it to my husband to read as he knows the people who the story is based on. Yet, apart from the 2 characters who have the same name as I believe it’s fitting symbolically; he couldn’t figure out who they were. I didn’t think simply changing there name would obscure who they actually were. My mother in law also read it too and it got me thinking whether this was something to do with the dyslexic mindset as she knows the people too. It may also have something to do with theory of mind which is a very autistic thing. I do frequently think that because I know something and you have better skills regarding perception that you automatically also know what I’m thinking because I need to work on my poker face. It’s a pity Snape can’t give occumlanmency lessons to us all. For those that don’t know Harry Potter it’s the art of shielding your thoughts from others so they can’t read and manipulate you. Hence the reference to poker and body language. This is what I have struggled with because so much happens in daily life that if you really thought about it in the way I do; it would floor you. Hence I do have a certain amount of inertia at times. It’s about learning when to analyse the situation and how much depth you should go into. The trouble is you never initially know which level is required so if you spend insufficient time you may regret it later just like spending too much time. It’s a fine balancing act that you will never truly master but on the occasions you do, you will feel good. However on the opposite side, if you screw up, you will feel bad and be reluctant to try again until you have learnt the lessons inside of that particular episode.

Imprecise English is another thing that can start you off on a bad thought process as calling banking man’s work is immature and inappropriate nowadays. You should leave men to there financial discussion or deliberation instead as otherwise you open yourself up to such comments as go play with kittens. This is continual work for myself and for others around me as nobody is perfect. We’re all trying to do the best that we can do each and every day. Striving to improve but never able to reach the goal as the goal posts keep moving. Such is the march of progress.

The building block approach

Some languages suit a bottom up approach very well. Greek is one of these as so many of the worlds languages derive from this. It’s like a starter for 10 to borrow the famous phrase from Mastermind. Other later languages can be thought of as the bonus questions that get progressively harder and therefore more complex as the set is demonstrated.

I have a detailed, logical mind that likes order and so I like to break down terms to find out how they came to be. Greek is the best language for this as it is built very much like you would construct a model out of building blocks eg the world famous Lego.

I also seem to be good at abstraction and when I have understood something complex I can break down into something much simpler. A recent example of this is that I found out a friend is a mutual fund accountant . Now living outside of the USA, I had no clue as to what this was and Google wasn’t helping. After further explanation failed to clarify; since I discovered that I didn’t even know what a mutual fund was. I came up with the definition of a mutual fund accountant is a money farmer. I came to this conclusion because they take money from clients (seeds), they plant this into the ground (stocks, securities, bonds etc) and then they nurture their plants (clients money). If they find they don’t like a particular patch, (fund etc), they transplant it to somewhere else that seems to be more suitable. Then at maturation the plants are harvested and the produce handed over ( profits). Of course the plants could have died (loss of money) in the meantime but mainly they survive and become healthy (well performing portfolio).

I find if I use unusual metaphors that helps complex terms to stick in my memory much better. I am a visual person so need such pictures to illustrate financial and mathematical concepts. I hope you find my painting with words useful for your comprehension too.

The mechanics and science behind language learning

Now I’m sorry but this is going to be a slightly technical article based on neuroscience and psychology but I believe if we understand the underpinnings of how we learnt and the children of the world learn their first language then this will be able to empower us to learn any language that we wish to in our adult lives.

For those including myself who wonder why everyone in the world talks to a baby in a very babyish manner. It is because that babies become very disinterested in normal speech very quickly. To anyone who has children or been in contact with them this may seem obvious but the why is the interesting bit here. Neuroscientists conducted experiments using the latest brain scanning techniques on young children assisted by paediatricians and they found that the pitch, the rhythm and the sound was what the babies were responding to. If it was slow, repetitive and lyrical then it kept there attention hence lullabies work. However, normal speech is rather flat and unemotional as we tend not to accent our words. Especially not in English, in our normal accent.

This is also why babies like music as it’s soothing to them and then like to dance. If we harness this native ability through song or movies then we are broadening our exposure to sounds that would not normally be part of our soundscape. Babies can distinguish the difference between all the sounds in the world and this is how they can learn any language of the world. This magical opportunity starts to be pruned back by 12 months as they are now learning what sounds make up their native language and to exclude all others. They still continue to about 8 years old to be easily pick up a language. Do not despair though due to recent advances in brain imaging and other experiments that have been exploring the human brain; they have found brand new neurons growing in adult brains. This previously undiscovered neurogenesis is astonishing as it demonstrates along with neuroplasticity the capability of the adult brain to change, regrow and develop in ways that were thought not possible until very recently. Therefore your brain is more malleable than you think it is. It is not set in stone when you become an adult. You can improve any of your previously learnt skills and learn new ones well into your later years.

How to win at language learning

When learning a language it is possible to try too hard. It’s a very good thing to be passionate and motivated but not such a good thing to be obsessional. This is difficult for me as that’s what I am by my very nature. I’ve had to learn not to be a perfectionist as language is about communication first and foremost. Not about having the best grammar, pronunciation or vocabulary. You need a lot less than you think but a basic standard is still necessary. Don’t get hung up on what you can’t do and concentrate on what you can do as that will give you confidence and inspire you to learn more and to practice with people without fear as this is a thing that I struggle with greatly.

As a friend once said to me, relax and it will just happen. I’d spent enough time learning and now I had to let my brain give the words to my mouth so that I could practice using them. I needed to form connections which can only really be done in actual conversations.

I tried to learn without people by recording myself so that I could get real time feedback and later sending it to people for their assistance but this is still removed from how you will use the language.

What Morpheus says to Neo in the Matrix “You have to let it all go, fear, doubt and disbelief.” Is what is required to speak freely but I had to overcome an innate fear of offending others as I’m some what controversial in my thought patterns and conservational style. Lucky for me Greeks are very straightforward people who tend not to beat about the bush with their words.

A lot of the common Greek phrases  seem rude to English ears so we are reluctant to use them as we think that they will think is impolite but it’s really because we have been indoctrinated with political correctness and they have kept their common sense.

There are 2 main ways to learn a language. One is if your main focus is going to be on talking to people and you have no desire to read, write or do anything else in the language; then you will be able to pick up the language relatively quickly but you may not acquire that deeper understanding until much later if at all.

The second way is much more intensive because if you wish to be able to read and write it as well as to be able to speak it then you have to be committed for a much longer period of study. You have to dive down to discover the bones of the language because only then will you uncover how the language is built using which particular grammatical structures etc. Languages are like houses you see as some you have just for limited use like a summer house and others you intend to live in so you have to spend the appropriate resources on their construction. It will benefit you in later life or it will stifle your productivity depending on how you went about building your knowledge.

Of course the first foreign language is the most difficult as we have to establish what works for us and possibly cast off bad habits that we have gained from education or life. It is most certainly worth the effort though so stick with it and you will be rewarded. The most difficult time is usually just before your about to make a breakthrough so remember this if you want to quit as you don’t seem to be making any progress.