No English? No Problem!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

#outofthepagesiread - 3 Steps to Mastering Any Subject

It's been a heck of a hiatus after Christmas and New Year, but now that it's officially 2017, time to get working again, especially on the blog! Maintaining the blogging habit has become even more important to me now since we are expecting the little chick to hatch in about a month or two. If I can (hopefully, desperately, crossing my fingers) maintain this blog even during my maternity, I have better hopes of maintaining and even growing it till my chick grows up. Till then, I will just do what little bit I can!

So I'm starting again with #outofthepagesiread and the article I have chosen is apt for anyone who has a new year resolution to learn something new. 

The original article was published on Quartz and I have included a handy link for it right here. What it describes is the Feynman technique, named after physicist Richard Feynman, and on first read, it seems ridiculously easy. 

In a nutshell...

To learn anything, you would need to do three steps:
1. Teach it to a child
2. Review your learning
3. Organize and simplify
(Don't be lazy, read the original article for more details. It's not that hard, trust me)

Does it work? I tried this method last year when I was learning French on my own. Step 1 seems easy but ho boy, try explaining French verbs in a child-like manner @_@ tres difficile! This took some cracking of brain veins because in order to do this, I had to read the very-adult-jargon-like explanation in my book several times before I could rephrase it to myself as if I was a seven-year-old. The hard part about it is that even when I could do so, I wasn't sure I had explained it correctly after the rephrasing. 

This is a powerful step, to be sure, in understanding any subject, but to be really sure of yourself, I think you would need some kind of mentor or study buddy to make sure that you are on the right track. 

It worked more when I was learning photography though, because that was a concept I was more familiar with. For example, when I was trying to make myself remember the concept of apertures, I imagined the light beaming through small circles and big circles. Putting it in the form of a visual aid that I might have drawn on the whiteboard to a class of kids worked better for this. Also, because I understood what an aperture was and I had seen it many times on my camera, it was easy to rephrase this concept. 

So the key to the first step is understanding. A solid understanding of what you are trying to learn will help you in teaching it to someone who doesn't. If you learning something with a lot of technical jargon, you can try reading a simpler version of it to build your understanding first. Also, you might want to consult someone who is already very knowledgeable about it.

Steps 2 and 3 are much easier and puts me more in mind of how we used to cram for our final exams. Methods may vary, though. I found it easier to put everything on a colourful mind map to see the big picture. Others may prefer other forms of organization. Plus, I realized that I learnt better by writing stuff down on paper while other people may prefer Evernote or other note-taking apps. To each his own in this and you will have to explore a bit to find out what works for you. 

So overall...

I find the method easy to remember and doable. It might work for some subjects better than others, but you should still be able to apply it to most things you want to learn. Good luck with your New Year resolutions! 


I read about this method through Jocelyn K. Glei. She writes about creativity and productivity and she produces a weekly email newsletter with great content. This is a link to her website and you can sign up for the newsletter there too.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Starting Afresh... Over the old memories...

Those who have been reading my blog know that from the last entry, I had decided to reuse one of my old journals and I had torn out the pages with bad memories in a kind of purging exercise. 

I didn't manage to do this with all the pages I wanted, though. There were some pages which had better memories on the other side, or other pages that had nice journal entries that I wanted to keep. For the sake of those better ones, I kept those 'dark' pages in the journal.

Yet, I didn't want to keep reminding myself of them every time I turned the pages. So I hit on a plan with an old calendar. 

I had bought this calendar from Workman Publishing in early 2016.

It's a beautiful calendar with an inspiring message for every day of the week and for months, I kept it on my desk, flipping to see the next message. 

Well, obviously the calendar I have is out of date by now, but there were many pieces of artwork inside that I liked very much. So I thought of doing some art journal pages with them over the 'dark' pages in my journal. Why not? Now the pages with the stuff that was better forgotten would be papered over with some better-looking art. 

And so the first page I did in this style is as seen below:

(That's my weekly journal on the right, kindly ignore 😅)

I guess you could call it cheap craft therapy, a way to be creative, forget the bad and replace them with better new messages for the future. It's easy enough to do with the calendar but if you don't, there are tons of inspirational messages being shared freely on Facebook or Pinterest. You can always print one out and paste it down and decorate it with washi tape or the embellishments of your choice. 

And trust me, definitely cheaper than therapy. 

Workman Publishing prints other calendars besides this one and they also have a selection of books too. You can check them out at this handy link here.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Starting Afresh...

First off, Happy New Year 2017, with all its bright hopes! 

I'm proud that I managed to revive this blog as much as I did in 2016. (Every blog post is an hour I didn't spend watching more TV!) 

I know that traditionally, this is the time to be setting NY resolutions, ie, to blog more, to write more, to do more. Usually that is what I would have done as well, but considering that next year is full of flux with the baby coming, I thought I would do something a bit different.

The journal on the left is one that I kept from 2015-early 2016. I'm opening it again for 2017 because I still have some pages left in it that I would like to fill up, maybe with simple reflections about each day. 

The pages on the right are another story. They are a mix of pages that I did in 2015. Some, like the one on top, are project ideas that I had. Some were weekly diary entries for 2015 and I decided to make a fresh start by discarding them.

Other pages in the pile carry heavier meaning. See, 2015 was a pretty bad year for me, work-wise. I had a lot of frustrations and setbacks at work and at times when it all got too bad for me, I journalled them down. So in that pile are also pages with a lot of negativity. 

2016 became a little better because some of the things dragging me down were taken off and also, I became a bit more mindful and organized so I could be a little more chill about work. When I opened the journal and looked at those pages though, the unhappiness in those words became fresh in my mind again. 

As I read through them, I thought, Do I want to carry these around with me? 

I decided not. I ripped out the pages and tossed them. 

In life, there are lessons that we learn that we can carry through life. Those lessons we can carry with us as we live. Bad memories and emotions, however, are a different thing. They drag us down with their negativity and make us relive them over and over again. They keep us in the past instead of carrying us on to the future. 

In this way, I suppose, I'm carrying out the opposite of a resolution. Instead of making plans to step into a bold new future, I'm tossing and burning the past behind so that it doesn't follow me anymore. I'm still not sure enough about the future to make plans or resolutions but I am certain enough about my power over my past, to make sure it doesn't haunt me any longer. And I guess that's as good a start as any. 

So Happy New Year everyone, may you start the year afresh and leave it all behind.