Learning a New Language: How to Get Started

Whatever language you wish to learn, it is important that you gain a basic vocabulary, and also an intelligible accent.

Here are some tips:

Find a native speaker with whom you can converse.

This will provide invaluable practice, and help you to hear the language properly. You can offer conversation in your own language as a quid pro quo. Spend 30 minutes talking in language 1, then the next 30 minutes talking in language 2.

You may be lucky enough to already have a friend you can do this with, but if not, you can place an advertisement, approach people you meet, fall into conversation at a bus stop. It’s as easy as that, and much better than struggling with cds or computer programs.

Watch films in the language you wish to acquire.

Choose subjects that interest you, turn subtitles on or off, and put your feet up while you watch a movie or two. Watch the same movie two or three times. This will help you to pick up the accent, increase your vocabulary, and learn some slang (street talk)

Read newspapers in the language you wish to acquire

Either print versions or on line. Read the articles, the adverts, the births marriages and death notices….

Watch TV in the language you wish to acquire

This will help enormously. Especially good programs to watch are, the news, quiz shows, children’s TV.

Read a children’s book

Books for small children will help to learn the names of items. Sentence structure will be simplified, and repetition will be used. All this will be of use to you.

When you learn a new word or phrase, try and use it within 24 hours

This will help to fix it in your mind.

Before you go to sleep, review what you have learned

and repeat it silently to yourself a few times.

These tips will not replace conventional learning, ie classes and courses, but they have helped me to learn good idiomatic French, and they can help you too. Whichever language you wish to learn.

Good luck.

View from a Wheelchair

When my friend, let’s call her Becky, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis about 18 years ago no one knew what course it would take. That is one of the frightening things about this disease. The doctors can’t tell you what particular symptom to be ready for because to our understanding there is no road map to follow.

Becky first noticed numbness in her fingers which lasted several days and stopped. Next was the jaw drawing up on one side and the doctor diagnosed Bell’s palsy. The jaw returned to normal and then the knees went weak, first one and then the other. At first a therapist said Becky had a mobile knee cap but when the problem left one knee and went to the other and she lost bladder control while on a picnic one day he sent her on to the ER. Even then the diagnosis wasn’t clear. The medical team gathered round and discussed the problems and pretty much decided she had a tumor on her spine causing the problems. With that they decided to do an MRI. Becky was terrified with that ordeal but came through like a trooper. Waiting to know is always the hardest. By early the next morning the answer came and the brain scan showed she was dealing with Multiple Sclerosis.

She quickly went from unbalanced gait to walking with a cane. Then she would lose her balance while trying to stand with a walker. There were times when she couldn’t get up out of bed and that was treated with steroids. The magic steroids would surge through her body and up out of the bed she would come and even be able to walk pretty normal for a few days. Of course the steroids could not be continued because over all they would end up doing her more harm than good. After about a year of struggling to stay on her feet it was decided a wheelchair would be the safer equipment for her to use. So, Becky began her years of life in a wheelchair. She was but 26 when first diagnosed and now she is 42. The disease seemed to find its most prominent route for her and left Becky immobile from the waist down and has remained that way for several years.

She has experienced life in a wheelchair day in and day out for many years. At first she used a manual chair, then progressed to electric and did pretty well getting around except when shopping. The shopping experience is not easy when you are maneuvering in a wheelchair.

Trying to get into many stores is only the beginning of the problems. First comes trying to find a wheelchair space to park the van. It is a fact that many unthinking people park in these places for a quick shot at the store and leave those who really need the space making trips around the parking lot in search of a roomy place to park. You see the van spaces marked for those with disabilities are for vans. There is a reason for particular spaces marked for vans. Some of them have side doors that need to be opened and a lift pulled out to allow the wheelchair user to be lowered down while setting in the chair.

So many times Becky has found a wheelchair space only to come back out of the store and find a vehicle parked on the striped lines right beside her van. No way to get in the van then until the person who decided to block access to the side door and lift comes back and moves their vehicle. By the way, one of the worst things for a person with MS is heat. So many times Becky has come out of the store into summer heat to find no way into her van and then rather than wait she would have her driver back the van out into the lane of the parking lot so she could get into the cool air in the van.

While trying to stay out of the way in the parking lot she has found many rude drivers who don’t have a minute to wait while the van is moved for her so she can get in. Now we need to mention getting on into the store. Oh yes, they have complied with the law that tells them they must be wheelchair accessible but many are on the border of not accessible at all. The ramps are sometimes very narrow, far from the door, steep, cement broken and some leave little room for turning onto a narrow sidewalk.

Not all stores have nice buttons on the outside of the door to push for automatic opening. Not all people want to help the person in the chair. Some do help and are very nice but many are not. Now once in the door comes another adventure. Becky decides to visit the toy aisle to purchase something for her children.

Starting down one aisle she notices people shopping and to be polite she maneuvers to another only to find boxes of inventory waiting to be shelved. Another aisle has product placed in the middle with no room for passing in a wheelchair. After some time Becky finally makes it to the toy aisle.

Her field of vision is the bottom of the shelf to a little over waist high for those who walk. As she reaches for a product many times those who walk are in a hurry and reach in front of her to grab what they want. Some do say “excuse me” and others frown for the inconvenience of reaching.

Becky takes it all in stride but then as she makes her way to the check out some will walk in front of her causing her to stop her chair abruptly to keep from running into them. She does get somewhat frustrated with her shopping experience. When finally at the check out she finds the clerk in a hurry and agitated that it takes Becky a minute to get her money out to pay. Back to the parking lot and into the van and home. That little haven of rest where the world is shut out and it’s her, the kids and her husband.

The store is one struggle for the wheelchair user but there is another that would seem a surprise. Becky needs to visit her doctor and at times the ER or has a hospital stay. Beginning with the doctor Becky never has a real exam. The doctor’s offices are often small with not much room for turning the chair around. The exam table is out of the question because the office is not equipped with a lift or people to help Becky out of her chair to be checked like anyone else visiting the doctor.

The ER is no better. Becky is seen at the ER for serious urinary tract infections from time to time. It turns into an embarrassing situation for her there as a big commotion starts with the attendants trying to figure out how to get her into the bed. Becky has offered to bring her own lift to the hospital but that can’t be done because of insurance practices.

There are times she has tears in her eyes while setting quietly, trying to be a little dignified while the professionals decide how to handle the situation. After she is finally in the bed and the doctor has visited, the tests run, prescriptions written then when it’s time to go home it all starts again with getting her out of the bed and into the chair. Her wait is longer while they figure out again how to move her. It seems incredulous that this happens in our modern doctor’s offices and hospitals but it does.

Becky suffers from pressure wounds from her life in the wheelchair and needs a new reclining office chair and help relieve her body from the ravages of setting day in and day out. She is given big sales pitches from companies who promise her they will have a new chair in a matter of months. So far she is still waiting … two years later.

Just so Becky’s story doesn’t leave the reader too depressed you must know that she feels very blessed. She has been married for 12 years and is raising three children. She has an 8 year old and a set of 4 year old twins. There is family who cares for her and she is able to stay in her own home with personal care attendant services and home health.

Still life in a wheelchair is very confining especially when at one time she was very active. The thing Becky wants the most is to be treated like any other mother and wife. She doesn’t want to be talked down too and wants others to know that just because her body doesn’t work right they should not assume that her brain doesn’t either.

Becky is quite capable of hearing when others talk to her. No need to shout. She can read and write and do all the things ‘normal’ people can do just with a few limitations. Many people assume that a disabled person is just automatically mentally disabled and can’t hear besides!

If you take anything away from this article please do this. The next time you are shopping, visiting the doctor, parking your car or any other every day activity take a moment and think how you would do these things in a wheelchair. Perhaps it will change your view of the next wheelchair user you see.

Life in a wheelchair can be managed nicely but it is a difficult life to say the least. Thankfully Becky stays pretty much upbeat about her life with the one thing that bothers her most being those people who treat her as though she is less of a person because she is setting down. Best wishes to all those who are making a good life in a wheelchair. God bless you!

Sleep Tight: A Good Night’s Sleep is the Key to Better Brain Power

It may sound cliché but a good nights sleep is imperative if we are to reach our full potential in life and business. Our brains don’t function at the highest level if we neglect this part of our nightly routine. Studies have shown how sleep deprivation can affect our memory, our cognition, and our ability to make proper decisions.

What are some ways we can ensure a good night’s sleep so that our brains function to maximum capacity?

Figure out how much sleep you need – First and foremost you need to determine how much sleep you body needs to feel fully rested. This is different for everyone. How many hours a night do you usually sleep? Do you feel fully rested after that amount? Start setting a schedule and go to bed at a certain time each night to see how many hours your body normally rests. This will help you get a nightly routine in place. Once you start being consistent you will notice how much more refreshed and energized you are to sleep the same amount of time each night.

Take naps – If you tend to lose a few hours of sleep here and there make sure to give yourself time to nap during the day. Don’t make it a habit to sleep late but rather take a power nap or two to get back that time you missed. You will be surprised at how much better you feel after a nap or two. Naps re-energize our brain and eliminate that fuzzy, sluggish feeling that comes with being tired. If you begin to notice yourself not sleeping well at night try eliminating naps for a while until you get back on schedule.

Unwind – Give yourself ample time to unwind at night before going to bed. Engage in some calming activities that will take your mind off of the days events and allow your mind to clear. Reading, taking a hot bath, meditation, or taking a leisurely walk are ways to help yourself de-stress and get your prepared for a great night’s rest.  You will be surprised at how well you sleep if you maintain this routine each night. Consistency is the key.

Maintaining a good night’s sleep is important if we want to become the best version of ourselves. If we hope to meet our goals, achieve success, and be happy overall we can’t deprive ourselves of one of the most important parts of our daily routine. Find a daily routine that works for you and be consistent about following it. Making sleep a priority in your life is one of the most important things you can do for your future success and happiness.

Live Longer with these 5 Healthy Habits

Throughout our lives we will form habits that will improve our quality of life and some that will not. The most important thing we can do is take control of our lives and habits we pick up over time. Although it’s true that no one knows how long they will live, there are steps we can take to ensure we are being as proactive and healthy as we possibly can. Allowing certain habits to become a part of your daily routine will not only enhance your life but attribute to your overall health.

Exercise – Finding an exercise routine that fits with your schedule and your comfort level is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Whether it be walking, jogging, yoga, or working out at the gym as long as you keep your body active and moving your health will reap the benefits. Exercise makes you feel great and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Exercise also goes hand in hand with eating healthier and making better choices in that area of your life as well.

Healthier Eating – Those that want to get a jumpstart on a healthy life know it’s imperative to make wise choices in the kitchen. Start bringing whole foods and fresh fruits and vegetables into your home. Stay away from the processed, unhealthy choices that line the aisles at the grocery store will give you a great head start. This can be difficult at first if you are not used to making healthy choices. Discipline is required to avoid the over advertised products that hold no nutritional value and will only lead to more unhealthy habits down the road.

Follow your dreams – This may sound cliché but going after something you want in life will do wonders for your overall health. It makes sense that if you are doing something you love you will live a life that is healthier, more fulfilled, and happy. This is simply because you are letting nothing hold you back from following your heart and carving out your own path to success.

Maintain your relationships – People need other people in their lives in order to have a more fulfilling life. Social interaction is necessary for people to form a strong network that will be there for them when needed. Those who go without that special bond are prone to bouts of depression and loneliness. Throughout our lives it’s important to take advantage of these connections, nurture, and maintain them.

Forget about retirement – Instead of retirement, find a career or vocation that you don’t need or want to retire from. When we have a reason to get up every morning our minds keep working, our health is better, and our daily routine is intact. Without something to work towards many people fall into a downward spiral because they stop putting their talents, skills, and mind to work.

Creating healthy habits will not only enrich the life you currently live but also give you a much better change of living a longer more fulfilled life. With any good habit comes discipline and effort. Once you make these changes the benefits will far outweigh any pain or discomfort you went through in the process. We all want to live this life for as long as possible and making these habits part of your daily routine will give you a huge jumpstart in that direction.

Conclusion

It’s important to notice the habits you include as part of your daily routine. These habits, both good and bad, affect every aspect of your future health and success. There is a correlation between choosing to live a life full of healthier, more fulfilling habits and the level of success those daily habits bring. Your sleep patterns, what you eat, and the types of activities you engage in now all have an affect on what the future will hold.  Creating a plan, taking action, and allowing some of the better habits to enrich your life will have a direct result on the amount of success you achieve throughout your lifetime. All it takes is a little time and effort to maintain a routine that will benefit you for years to come.

How to Train Yourself to Be Creative: Spend Time Alone

If you talk to individuals who are highly creative, one of the common themes you’ll find among them is that they enjoy being by themselves. It allows them to have quiet time, which can sometimes be really essential to honing in on your creativity.

While alone time is a good thing and does help get your creative juices flowing, by no means does it mean you have to be anti-social.

Let’s take a look at some benefits of spending time alone and how that can help boost your creativity in the process.

Benefit #1 – Increased Concentration

When you’re alone and not distracted, it’s easier to concentrate, which in turn can also help with your productivity. But there is one thing worth mentioning here and it has to do with distractions. Being alone with the TV on or while sitting in front of your computer is not the same thing as truly spending time with just yourself. Instead, find a place you can devote specifically to quiet alone time where you are free from distractions. Then set aside a specific time each time to go to that quiet space and let your creativity flow.

Benefit #2 – Clear Your Mind

When you spend time alone, free from distractions, you’ll find that it’s a quick and easy way to clear your mind. Not only does it free you from all the chaotic thoughts that race around in your head continually, it’s also an opportunity to unwind and relax. Creativity thrives when your body is relaxed and you’re mind is free of mental clutter. Again, just like mentioned in the benefit above, make time each day to clear your mind so you can tap into your creative self.

Benefit #3 – Problem Solving

Another benefit of spending time alone – and again we’re talking about quiet, distraction-free alone time – is that it gives you the space to problem solve. This is essential for increased creativity. When you begin to train yourself to spend quiet time alone and tap into your creative side, you’ll be able to start thinking about different solutions to solve a problem(s) you’re having. You can then begin to solve problems more effectively.

Does all this sound just a bit like meditation? Perhaps. But here’s the key: When you make time to be alone – even if it’s just 20 minutes every day – your brain then becomes free to do what it does best – think. When you’re constantly bombarded by input from your smart phone, the television, a conversation with your spouse or coworker, the podcast you’re listening to and more, there simply isn’t room in your head for anything else.

So allow your brain the luxury of quiet time. You might just be surprised at how creative you can be, when you’re not so busy with other things.

Tap Into Your Imagination to Release Your Creative Spirit

Many people think that they don’t have a creative bone in their body but that just isn’t true. Remember when you were a kid and you could creatively make up games, build secret forts and more? Or how about that imaginary friend you talked to? Those things all prove that you once were creative and can be again. Learning to use your imagination again is a great way to work on developing your creativity.

Like a muscle, your imagination can become weak from disuse. By making time to exercise your imagination with a few fun mind games, you’ll soon find it’s strong enough to bring out your inner creative self. Here’s how.

Grab the nearest book or magazine you have close by – open it up to a random page and then choose one sentence. Now, let your imagination run wild and create a story based around that sentence. This is not only a great way to tap into your imagination, but it’s also a quick way to get your creative juices flowing. If you ever find you’re hitting that dreaded writers block, this is a quick trick to use to help get past it.

Pick a superpower – yes, you read that correctly. It may sound a bit silly but don’t skip over it. It’s fun, lets you bring your inner child out and it’s a great way to practice your imagination skills and in turn, bring the creativity out.

After you choose your superpower, don’t stop there. Now it’s time to let the creativity show. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How would I use this power?
  • When would I use this power?
  • How would my life change with this power?
  • What trouble would I get in?
  • What problems would be solved?

I bet you’ll be surprised at where your imagination takes you. Grab a pen and piece of paper and write as you do this exercise. Who knows what it could turn into – a blog post, an eBook, a YouTube video…the possibilities are endless.

Venture outside and take a walk – this one is simple and easy but incredibly powerful. As you walk, not only are you getting some fresh air and exercise, but you’re also allowing your mind to run free. Use your senses to get your imagination going. Example: smell – are you near pine trees? Breathe deep and smell the pine then start imagining being in an enchanted forest or medieval kingdom. The key here is to use as many of your five senses as you can and let your imagination go from there.

This is just a small list of ways you can tap into your imagination to help develop your creativity. By no means is this an exhaustive list of ideas, it’s just meant as a starting point for you. Once you’ve practiced these ideas, you’ll find more will come to you. The key is to not censor your thoughts, but to just allow your imagination to run wild, just like when you were a kid.