Now that the girls are in school and my cancer research/care is relegated to 6 month checkups, I've had to find some way to get back to Lisa. I've had quite a few life-changing events in the span of 5 years (quit job, move to another part of country, birth of child, adoption of child, cancer diagnosis) and I've lost sight of what feeds my soul. I am happiest when my brain hurts at the end of the day...and not because I've been trying to stay ahead of 2 almost four-year-olds but because I've tasked it with learning something hard but enjoyable. Design and art classes used to do that for me. Since I'm not planning to return to full-time design work yet, I needed something to fill that void.
At first, I felt like I should take Chinese language lessons because my girls were in a Chinese immersion school. The thought of dealing with two teenage girls who speak a completely different language scared me into overcoming my fears and I signed up for one month of lessons. It took me about 3-4 lessons, right about the time when my instructor introduced me to the Chinese characters, before I started really enjoying and looking forward to class. Learning Chinese not only fulfills the need I have to work my brain but it is now filling the artistic void I've felt since quitting my job and my art classes. Chinese characters are beautiful and must be written in a certain order. It's not enough just to know the symbols but the strokes themselves are written in a certain order and alignment.
When I signed up for class I honestly thought I only wanted to learn how to speak and understand Chinese. The thought of learning the characters was just not even in my realm of possibility. By no means do I understand most of what I see unless I have my notes in front of me but I am starting to at least recognize them and know that I've seen them before. It's a start!
This weekend I was tasked with writing a short autobiography, first in English, then in pinyin and finally in characters. As you can see, I still need a lot of work on my characters to have them all in alignment and pretty.
Studying and writing Chinese is one of those activities where time seems irrelevant. I spent a couple of hours in a coffee shop today working on my homework and was amazed when my time was up. It flew by. Now if only exercising my body for two hours felt as good as exercising my brain!