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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Reflections on July

It's with a mild sense of panic that I realize that we are officially in the 2nd half of the year. What have I done?? What have I accomplished? How am I going to do all the other stuff I wanted to do????

Last month onto this, I got hit off the tracks when I went off on holiday and I came back to a flurry of work. This has happened many times before, when I went overseas or took a long break and not just on my personal goals, but at work as well. Suddenly I forgot how to write my to-do lists, how to remember my deadlines, how to set goals for myself and then everything rushes in together.

So mid-August is a good time to take a quick stock check. Where am I with my goals? What did I accomplish? How did I do it? What did I fail in? Why did I fail? How can I set myself up to pass next time?

My goals for July were: 

Photography: To read up on Daido Moriyama
I found this hard at first because books on Daido Moriyama were crazily hard to find. I thought I would be able to buy a good book on him and read it at my leisure, but then I couldn't find any good (or affordable) photo book or biography anywhere in the major bookstores! A photobook seller in Peninsula finally told me that was the case with his books and that the same situation existed in Japan, where his books are primarily sold. -_-!!! 

Finally though, I hit paydirt at the National Library - I found Tales of Tono, Stray Dog and Memories of a Dog.

Stray Dog and Memories of a Dog were only available in the reference section, so I couldn't borrow them out. I had to make special trips to Victoria Street to read them, which made them more troublesome and at the same time, more fascinating. (Why some books end up in the reference section, I don't know) The more I read about him, the more fascinated I became with him as a photographer since I identified with certain parts of his philosophy towards photography.

But... that's a subject for another blog post. Let me write up my notes into something coherent first. :p

So I would say in this goal I was fairly successful. I managed to find the books though reading them was quite troublesome. I also learned quite a bit as well.

Next step to levelling up? Getting my essay done... (sigh)

Violin: To practise at least twice a week - COMPLETE FAIL

This goal is one I continuously set for myself and continuously fail at. Every month that I tell myself to practise, to practise, the violin stays neglected in its case and next thing I know, it's time for lesson/practice time again. -_-!!! 

So let's take a good hard look at meself: Why am I failing at this?

I'm restricting myself to practising in the afternoon. I keep telling myself to practise in the afternoon because I'm worried about neighbours complaining if I practise at 8-9pm. Which means, if I'm stuck at work till late, I end up not practising at all if I return home after dinner. Would my neighbours really raise their pitchforks if I practised at 8, after dinner and yet when people are not going to bed yet? I don't know because I never tried, having spent most of that time watching TV while eating dinner. -_-!!! 

And then at night, there's always other stuff to do...... Easier stuff like reading or painting that doesn't require the same amount of effort as the violin. So I always take the easy way out for myself.

Terrible. It's like wanting to lose weight but eating another chicken burger. I keep telling myself I want to be a good violin player but I fail to put in the practice needed.

The solution for this is easy in principle, yet another matter in practice. I need to set practice days and times (which I have been doing) and actually set about to doing it, never mind fatigue or complaints (which I have NOT been doing).

Watercolour: To paint at least 2 pieces in watercolour.

This goal I managed because I was so lousy with keeping the one about the violin practice. :D I did a few pieces and here are the 3 better ones:


The one I'm most proud of is of course, the 3rd one, and this is one goal I felt I showed the most progress in the least amount of time and the one I enjoyed the most. 

There were several things that made this goal easier to accomplish. One, paint and brush were always within easy reach on my table. All I really had to do was plonk my butt on my chair and open them up to start. This also made them a good destresser from work as well. Compare this to having to heft my violin up and stand for the entire time I practise......

Also, having a reference book helped. That way, I didn't have to think of what to practise. I just opened to the last page I stopped at and did whatever was on that page. Again, a good remedy for a hard day at work.

Lastly, I also think that the artwork was a strong visible motivator. Once the painting was done, it was an obvious indicator of my effort and progress and one that could be looked at again and again for inspiration. Whereas with violin playing, I couldn't tell whether my pitch really was improving or not.

All in all, no wonder I found more fun in reaching the art goal.......

Still, they are things to consider if I want to become a good violin player. So with those in mind, my goals in August are:

French - To refresh what I learned and complete at least 2 more chapters
Writing - To work on the text for my book idea
Violin - Once again.........

Wish me luck!