Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Accept the fuct

For once I had a positive entry planned - the title was there, a few notes had been made about some potentially good news and I had a series of paragraph-sized smiley faces lined up. Now it's going to have to wait.

A few years ago my Taiji teacher gave us an amusing hand-out, just one side of A4 containing a few guidelines for our practice, each paragraph beginning with the phrase 'Accept the fact...' My positive entry was going to include a bit about my favourite one: Accept the fact that not everyone will 'get' your desire to train. After the inauspicious beginning of 2011 I'm going to have to use the first one on the list: Accept the fact that sometimes your training will suck bilge water.

OK, training wasn't actually that bad tonight but there've been enough annoying little knocks recently that I could easily bleat on for a good few pages like a spoilt kid who's been told he's not getting any Easter eggs this year. I'm not going to but that does lead me nicely into the airlock and ready for expulsion into space.

In an uncharacteristic moment of optimism early in 2010 I made a note of the following phrase which had popped into my head: 2009 was the year of broken eggs; 2010 will be the year of omelettes.

That didn't happen. Instead it was more like: 2009 was the year of broken eggs; 2010 was the year of standing around in a pile of broken eggs. 2011 can only get better. It'd fucking better.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Experiments with Discipline 1 - the easy start

The road to mediocrity is paved with unrealistic expectations. Examples include basically every New Year's resolution I've set myself in the last few years plus numerous other goals aimed at throughout the course of the year(s).

This time I've decided to try a slightly different approach: I have things I want to do in early 2011 but I know full well I've previously tried to do too much and fallen at the first obstacle. Perhaps, I reasoned, the failures (which were all due to a lack of tenacity) were caused by my lack of practice at seeing things through. So the new approach is this: I'm typing this on December 1st, having decided to complete a minimum of 30 minutes per day of French language practice throughout the whole of December.

That's a twin-headed goal-monster whose aims are to both bring my working knowledge of French language to a noticably improved level (note I said 'improved' - the target is relative to my current level of ability rather than being something absolute) and of course to see if I can actually do something disciplined on a daily basis for a month. If it works out it'll be a stepping-stone into putting more work into my Taiji (which is progressing but in an unfocussed way) and into the usual health/fitness gumph (which never gets as good as I'd like it to be) in 2011.

Of course the language work itself (which includes brushing up my grammar terminology so I properly understand the language of language) will continue with French until at least my first visit to my Mum in late January and probably beyond as French should be the easiest language to work on, 3+ months of Greek (for the late Spring visit to Dad) and ideally then leaping back onto the Japanese with the potential aim of going for the Japanese exam in December. We'll see.

Speaking of the phrase "We'll see" I'm going to stop there and finish the rest of this entry off at the end of December. The final paragraph(s) will show my progress over the month. TTFN

Quick update: it's still December 1st and following an email exchange earlier I've discovered that my first visit to France next year will be mid-February, giving me an extra 6 weeks of potential practice. We'll see...

Et par finis: here we are on January 2nd 2011. There's not a lot to add, merely the results of the experiment.
Did I complete at least 30 minutes of French study/practice every day throughout December? No; some days I did as little as 15 minutes. However, I definitely did some work every day and although some days were short of 30 minutes some exceeded an hour. That may be a factual 'no' but in actuality I see it as a 'good enough'. Now I'm going to keep the French practice going until my trip to France as I have another 6 weeks in which to further my skills. I'm also going to add the Taiji practice in to the 'discipline experiment' - when classes start again on Tuesday I aim to do at least 15 minutes a day of solo practice. That (solo practice) is supposed to be the bedrock of your ability anyway and given that there are two weekend workshops in the pipeline I'll need the firmer foundation.

Of course the new year also brings the usual health kick but I'm being easier on myself in the beginning so as to do a better job of it all throughout the year. The next 'discipline' entry will state how well the daily Taiji practice is coming along.