Put in the time


Day 2 of changing my life.

Up early. Coffee. Shoes on, out for an hour walk. Back home. Dishes, tidy up. Language drills for an hour. Down on the floor for half an hour of sit ups and leg lifts, topped off with moving my arms for as long as they can handle it plus two minutes more. More cleaning, mostly to prevent myself from smoking like a chimney. Evening fresh air, no more than a jaunt around the block yet so much more than I’ve been doing.

I don’t really want to do any of this. But I do it anyway. It’s filling my time, strengthening my language skills, and getting to all those hard to clean places in my house. Two days in and I feel it’s useless. Keep reminding myself this method WILL work, it just takes time. And as I tell myself every day, time is something I have in abundance.

Got a taste of summer in yesterday. Back to the lake in the evening to check out a beach festival. Man, you could have bottled the day up to drink it down in one go. It was all summer. The heat was high, the breeze just right. There were swimmers and sunbathers, BBQers and drinkers. Found the festival was one of those high class things I’ll probably never go to; when one of the lines on the entrance lists a €300 purchase price I figure it’s just out of my league. Had dinner at a cafe lining the promenade. Walked around. Got some sun. Maybe someday I’ll be able to afford going to the actual event rather than skirting around the sidelines.

Focusing on the external lately. Do, don’t  ponder. Take action. Part of it is because I hope that all those do-gooders are bloody right and getting up to partake in life will stave off any deeper depression. Part of it is avoidance; when I keep busy out there I don’t think about what’s going on inside me. The last part of it I put down to simple fear: do now, before it’s too late.

Had one of those weird body image things again. I put on the new clothes I’d bought and looked at myself in the one full length mirror I have in the house. I saw an old woman body. Not a slightly heavy body, but an old woman body. That was perhaps the most disturbing image I’ve had of myself. And it’s the reason behind the fear part of my current actions. A few more years of living the way I have been and that old woman body will set in and become permanent.

Got three emails I need to send out, all in Dutch. Been stalling on it. Not sure why, other than sending out my messages will somehow make things real. Like if/when I do it, that’s it for my English lifeline. I’ll be letting it go. Using my Dutch only. Silly of me, I know. This blog isn’t going to turn into a fully Dutch thing. But it’s an obstacle in my head, nonetheless. One I’m both excited and nervous about getting past.

More language is getting through to my brain. It’s slow, and still partial, but I’m beginning to hear it even when a native speaker doesn’t slow down. I hate the delay in translation. But I’ll give it to the Dutch; haven’t yet met someone who isn’t happy to slow down, wait, and end up just as pleased as I am when I do catch what they say. I sense another learning jump coming up. So close on grasping the use of ‘om te’. So close on naturally using proper grammar in basic sentences. So close on catching those odd sayings every language has that if literally translated make no bleeding sense whatsoever. But of course real life isn’t my computer drills. Seems no matter how much I work on basic conversational exchanges, once I’m out in real life no one says the simple stuff first. So I get all the nuanced language thrown at me every day – the subtle variations that make up real conversation. Argh! For every victory in understanding it seems I have to go through half a dozen embarrassing times of total incomprehension.

I feel shame over my ignorance. It’s unwarranted, I know. Every single Dutch speaker I’ve met who knows how few language classes I’ve had is impressed by my progress and clarity. I try to remember that. My tendency – even my WANT – is to say I’m confronted by continual failure. That is a LIE I’m telling myself. Yes, I have many times I don’t understand what’s said to me. I’m also having more and more comprehension. I’m making progress. Almost every day I get one aha! moment. It just takes a lot of aha!s to become fluent.

All it takes is time. Back to that four letter word.

Gods, when did time become a curse? Perhaps that, more than anything, shows I’m aging. Or finally growing up.

As usual when I make a decision to alter my own reality, I have high hopes that I’ll be able to sustain this. Keep going on the basics I’ve set for myself no matter what. While skeptical over my chance of long term success due to failed attempts I’ve already been through, I do carry the hope that I’ve learned from my past failures. That this time I can do it.

I’m asking myself to try.

None of this will stop the topsy-turvy world I find myself in. None of it will make me feel good about myself every damned day. That much I can guarantee. All I want is to stop wasting time. Stop blaming this or that, and just get on with it. I want better language skills? Then put in the time. I don’t like the fat around my belly? Put in the time. I want friends, happy days, help when I need it? The answer’s the same. Put in the time.


4 thoughts on “Put in the time

    1. Thanks, Sass. My bro is reminding me that these shoes are made from hard leather, and of course it takes time to wear them in. I’m wearing them for an hour to two at a time in the house. No more walks in them until I’m sure I’m good to go.

      Liked by 1 person

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