This is my third December update for this blog, so of course it’s interesting to take a sneak peak at my previous entries.
Compared to December’22 this winter month was much better in terms of health, as I wasn’t ill and I sleep better. I still had a lot of headaches, albeit not too strong ones, and I’m thinking how to go about them. Also by the end of month I’d had enough of the winter, the cold and the dark of Moscow, and longed to be in Paris in the summer (after listening to an Easy French podcast about les arrondissements =)) Such a pity, this year we didn’t go away on holiday by the sea.
On the other hand, my productivity was alright and mostly plans didn’t go awry like they did last year with a language marathon. So I regulate my workload better and that’s definitely some progress. Oh, I even set a record of “productive hours”, as I call them, where I count hours spent on work, studying data analytics, learning languages and reading non fiction (excluding any breaks). So, I did 41,7 hours on the first week of December and then 42.7 hours on the second (with the average of 30), and, what’s even more important, I didn’t have a fit of fatigue afterwards =) So slowly but steadily I’m getting my energy back. I do hope that as my brain gets more and more used to the routine I’ve organised for it and switches from one activity to the next more easily, I’ll grow this time to 45+.
Another interesting thing was that I didn’t even think much about my year results this year. Why? Well, back in September I understood it made much more sense to me to live by an academic year, September to August. So I did all the “progress and goal setting” stuff back then. It was quite a relief not to do it in December and just to transition calmly to the winter holiday and festive activities, without much reflection on “the year passed”! At the same time, there was still this urge to “start anew” in January, so I basically used it to review and adjust my goals and check what I’ve done since September. Perfect.
To be honest, it’s quite a new way of thinking for me – not to “rewrite” my previous strategy if it didn’t bear fruit soon enough, but to adjust my goals month after month along the same strategy and come back to what I wanted to do before. It feels like I trust myself and my previous decisions more, and it’s a good feeling =) Or maybe I’ve finally overcome the massive burnout I had two years ago – I’ve read that starting new projects without finishing the previous ones, or imitating proactivity, is a sure sign of a burnout. Anyway, I see my progress (and this blog helps a lot with it), and that makes me happy.
Finally, compared to December’21 I can now firmly confirm that I’ve overcome my addiction to coffee. I no longer long for it so badly and I’ve even started to skip my “once in two weeks” cup of joy. Well, what a journey =) But on the other hand, coming off coffee has definitely helped me to manage my energy better and my “energy reservoir” is no longer dangerously low.
Right, now let’s look at my beloved categories.
Like last year, I took part in Language Advent when the participants do something for their languages every day from the 1st till 24th of December. Then they publish a report about what they have done. Last year I was very excited to participate, and it was quite a challenge to engage with a language every day. This year, however, I mostly relied on my language habits, like listening to podcasts, doing Duo, or having calls with my study buddy, and it took much less effort to organise myself for the event even if I was also doing a data analytics course at the same time. So, habits rock!
However, I got that feeling again that doing languages every day doesn’t really work for me, at least for now when my main goal has little to do with them. Some days I’m just too busy with other stuff and if I have to do something for the marathon it’s more distracting than inspiring. It’s not that I don’t want to make my French or German a teeny bit better every day, I really do, I just can’t spare enough resources for this, unfortunately. But I’m looking for ways to do so =)
And yes, going back to German was another highlight of Language Advent. I’d been waiting for the right moment to do so for at least 6 months and it came. Hopefully, now with Duo and Easy German videos it will stick for a long while. I even started to read a book in the original with parallel translation, a legend about Regentrude, of the lady of the rain. Difficult, but it is way more engaging that reading adapted books with simplistic plots. Ideally, by the summer I’d like to have strong Intermediate listening and reading skills, just to be able to enjoy stuff on YouTube, but we’ll see.
Another highlight was a day spent with videos about Oman, which were more than welcome on that grey and cold day when I couldn’t bear to look out of the window. The videos had all the colours I miss so badly in winter, and even better that I would have in our region in the summer (sometimes there’s too much green to my taste).
I’ll add the videos here. Oman is definitely a country I’d like to learn more about, and, who knows, maybe visit one day.
Quite unexpectedly at the end of November I decided to take a course I would call “A hand-on experience of being Junior Data Analyst”. The original name is much shorter, “Analyst Simulator“, but I’m not sure direct translation works well here. Anyway, it’s a practice oriented course, and I actually like everything about it – the format, the tasks and the support. There’s more to it. With the last big course I did in 2020, I was terrified half the time that I “have to know and be able to do so much”. I was pretty much in the achiever mode then and tried to submit my home assignments on time whatever the cost.
This course I started with missing the first deadline =) I didn’t notice that there were two tasks until after I’d submitted the first one right before the deadline. It added to the overall stress and I got stuck with choosing metrics for my dashboard, but then it was fine and did the other assignments on time, even though I had to push myself a bit to do so. Lucky we are, our cohort has a winter holiday (and four other modules are scheduled for January), so I had a break I needed after that mishap).
Also, I think I finally got the understanding of what a technical job actually is (compared to languages and humanities where one needs quite a lot of passive knowledge). I used to try to go from theory to practice, trying to build a system of knowledge first and use it to do problems. But it doesn’t work. Experimentation and following instructions does, though. Just start somewhere, try something and see the result. Do what other people suggest for a similar problem even without understanding why it works. Repeat the steps until the task is done =) Incredible how long it’s taken me to get there. But now I’m not afraid of new assignments, like I used to be, and I’m quite willing to make mistakes to learn from them =)
Another big change compared to the previous course is that I seem to have developed an ability to learn by listening. With the majority of the previous courses I always took notes, I even wrote code by hand, however ridiculous and impractical that sounds. Of course all this took tons of time, but otherwise I felt completely lost and unable to process the material. But since September I’ve stopped taking detailed notes as I mostly remember the logic and the main points of what was said and for the necessary details I checked with the summaries provided by the course creators.
I wonder what has prompted the change. My guess is: because I don’t teach any more, I don’t need to listen to people, structure what they’ve said and keep it in memory to conduct coherent lessons. So basically this sort of capacity has freed and went to serve my studies (and also to watching YouTube for fun and listening to podcasts). Whether this has anything to do with reality I know not, but I’m happy I can have the energy to process listening better. It does simplify a lot of things.
I continued playing on average 3-4 hours a week, mostly working on the a moll and cis moll waltzes I’ve learnt. My play is filled with errors and slips and whatnot, every time in new places even if I know the score pretty well. Not sure what it is and how long it will take to play them without mistakes.
But even so, Chopin is so beautiful that I never ever tire of playing or listening to the same again and again. And if it takes another yet to stop making those mistakes, so be it. Meanwhile, I’ll be learning from the great ones. Like this interpretation of cis moll waltz by Khatia Buniatishvili:
Or this one by Denis Matzuev
Tenderness itself, isn’t it? =)
And when it’s not Chopin, it’s Bach again. As I’m learning Invention 13, I was particularly happy to find this recital of Sinfonias by Yunchan Lim. Ah, that clarity and harmony of the sound… I actually played the second (from the video) one as a child, and liked it a lot. Yes, they should definitely be on my blog too, and in my repertoire later =)
Enough for December, it was a good month =)