As an aspiring polyglot, I’m always reviewing language tools and resources that can help me fast track my mastery. Naturally, I dove first into Duolingo, YouTube and various podcasts. But, there are limitations with those resources, and sometimes you just want to try something different.
If you’ve been trying to learn a language but you want to go beyond YouTube videos, podcasts and Duolingo, then this is the post for you! I’ve located five other language learning resources that can help fast track your language learning, give you some much needed variety, and are all completely FREE! I discuss these options in a YouTube video (the link to the video below).
Amazon Kindle ebooks – This gives you a great source of free ebooks in various languages, as well as some free instruction books, too. To find them, search for books in a particular language, then filter by price (lowest to highest). Filtering by price shows the lowest priced books first, so you can quickly identify free publications.
MIT OpenCourseware – If you’re interested in college-level language instruction, this site is excellent. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) archives resources from courses taught during prior semesters. The courses include syllabi, worksheets, exercises, and links to other great resources. To find these courses, look under the Global Studies and Languages department.
Foreign Service Institute (FSI) Free online course material – This page speaks for itself: it’s the material developed by the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) to instruct diplomats before assigning them to foreign posts. These classes are developed to quickly acquire mastery at the highest levels of language. The link has lots of languages available, especially some that are somewhat rarer and harder to study online.
Alison & FutureLearn – Both Alison and FutureLearn offer language classes that are paced and offer certificates of completion at the end of the course (the documentation of completion has a cost). This also gives you the advantage of participating in group discussion and other ways of interacting with other learners.
Internet Archive – There is a host of free archived materials on this website, including movies, music, books and newspapers. Find the kind of material you want and filter it by the language that interests you.
Here’s my video, discussing the ways to use these resources:
Those are the five free resources I can recommend for language learning, outside of the most popular recs. Do you have any language resources that work for you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
Hey friends! I hope you all are doing well and enjoying your week. I haven’t written about my writing goals and practices in a while, but I did a couple of videos about my goals over on my YouTube. Here is the first video, outlining my May goals:
And this is the second video near the end of the month, where I describe how things went with my goals:
Considering that this is about 17 minutes of video content, here is the TLDW (too long, didn’t watch) version of the videos above:
Start working on the template for a workbook (that is a companion to a book that I’m currently editing) – I did begin the process of working on that template and seeing it come together has been great. I still have a lot to do, but I’m very happy that I began the process.
Begin working on the next couple of children books – I have selected the countries that will be profiled in the next couple of children’s books, and I’ll be releasing those over the summer. I originally planned to put the finishing touches on the books over the Memorial Day weekend, but life happened and I had to delay the work until a few weeks from now.
Designing a July to December planner – I found a planner that works for the remainder of the year: no need to design one!
That’s it for my writing goals and what I accomplished in May! I’m looking forward to sharing some great accomplishments in the weeks to come!
It feels good to be back, and, even better, I have a TON of ideas for my writing. I won’t be straying too far from the expectations I set for this blog year, but I have some fresh perspective after making 31 videos in the month of May.
How have you all been? I hope the past few weeks have been good to y’all and that you’ve been set up for a fantastic summer! I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.
Happy Fibro Friday! I hope you all are doing well! I apologize for the premature postings this week: I’ve been concentrating on Vlog-A-Day-In-May and hadn’t gotten a chance to do much writing over here. Rest assured, the prematurely posted blog will be fleshed out and reposted soon.
Today, I’m sharing a vlog that I posted several weeks ago. In this video, I discussed why it’s important to “speak up” when it comes to your health, especially those that are dealing with fibromyalgia. So many times, our voices are silenced because many medical professionals misunderstand or minimize our experiences. Also, when you suffer from chronic pain, it can be difficult to accurately relay your experiences to medical professionals, which makes it challenging to get diagnoses and treatments.
However, we should always continue to “make a fuss”, sharing how we feel with our care providers and the specialists that we work with. We must persist until our concerns are heard, and we get the treatment that we need.
In a word, yes. I’m a little crazy, considering how busy my schedule is ordinarily. But that won’t stop me: I’ll be filming a bunch of videos (think anywhere from 15 to 20) over the next 4 days, so I can have a healthy cushion of videos before the month starts.
Yes, that means that most of these videos won’t technically be “vlogs” – I’m under the impression that the idea of a “vlog” is about having daily quick check-ins. But I don’t want to spend all month getting video-ready every day (so much time involved!) nor do I want to fall short of my vlogging goal by skipping a day when things are hectic. It’s better for me to have some material ready to fill in the gaps, and even if I’m able to do quick vlogs daily in May, I’ll still need those pre-filmed videos for the upcoming months, when I travel or have other obligations.
So yes, there will be vlogs every day during the month of May. I’ll try to keep you all updated with the video topics as these are posted, but I can’t make any promises. Pray for me, y’all!
Once upon a time, I had another blog that I wrote on frequently. Now, I’m looking over those essays and cringing (nothing humbles you like looking over your old writing!) But, I think it’s worthwhile to rewrite those posts, because the points – while not fabulously expressed in the original posts – are still salient. Here’s a HEAVILY edited essay that I wrote nearly 12 (!) years ago. Enjoy!
This particular post will speak directly to two personality characteristics that are crucial to finding your own version of success: flexibility and focus. I decided to group these two together since they are a good example of polarity and interdependence: these are relative opposites but you can’t talk about one without at least touching upon the other. Flexibility implies a willingness to look at all of the options available, while focus generally refers to devoting one’s attention to a singular goal. It seems like the two cannot peacefully co-exist, but they CAN-and they SHOULD! In fact, one without the other can very well leave you unfulfilled and always falling short of your goals.
Why do some of us need to improve in the areas of flexibility and focus? Well, when it comes to flexibility, some of us have been given an overly simplified life formula-behave yourself, go to college, get a degree, get a career, get married to a man, buy a house, make a few kids, give freely to the church/mosque/synagogue/temple, and live happily ever after. The problems with the formula are its rigidity, and the lack of emphasis on QUALITY experiences and EMPOWERED choices. It also doesn’t allow for circumstances beyond a woman’s control or her personal choice. Not everyone is interested in attending college or working in a traditional career. Some women have zero interest in getting married at all, and those that desire marriage aren’t encouraged to accurately gauge the quality of their partners. Not all of us are interested in white picket fences and having babies, and, believe it or not, religion =/= spirituality, and some women have no interested in being part of a religious organization in order to connect to the Divine. Those that ascribe to the life formula commonly taught to women are often hyper-focused on accomplishing each thing on the “to do” list, to the detriment of a life that allows for magic and joy to unfold unexpectedly and organically.
In opposition to being hyper-focused, many women who reject the prescribed life formula mentioned above end up living life as a tangent of randomness, going here and there without a goal in mind and getting a whole lot of nothing accomplished in the meantime. This is often the case because life on the “fringes” is discouraged by society, meaning that those who reject any part of the aforementioned formula don’t get support for creating meaningful lives outside of the template they’ve been given. There are many women who are living purely in flexibility and not putting an adequate amount of time and energy into focusing their energy into a handful of things that will give them lasting satisfaction. Many will pour their energy directly into career or material possessions (nothing inherently wrong with this), without any forethought regarding what meaningful things they should be cultivating simultaneously.
It can seem like living in either extreme is the only option, but being focused and flexible at the same time should be a goal for all of us. Focus gives us direction and stability, while flexibility gives us depth, color and moments of ease in our journeys.
Here’s the best way to merge the concepts of flexibility and focus: find out what you want for yourself (get your focus together) then think of the many ways you can get there (exercise flexibility.) I’ll present an exercise that may be of use (I’ve done this for myself more times than I can count, and it’s not from a singular book I’ve read but, rather, a hodgepodge of ideas that I’ve picked up here and there.) First, name the things that you want for yourself. For this example, I’m going to use some really common desires: getting a degree, getting into your dream career, traveling, and getting married. Name whatever it is you want, no matter how crazy it sounds. It’s good to be very specific when naming what you want: getting a degree from Harvard, becoming a world renowned artist, traveling to Thailand, etc.,. This list can be as long or short as you like, but it helps to keep it brief (less than 5 things) – it helps you have more time to dedicate on the things that matter most.
After you name what you want, brainstorm various ways to get what you want. This seems a little daunting, especially if you’ve been taught to see things only in one way. People are always amazed when I tell them how I got into my prior career before I was awarded my college degree and without the advantage of an internship or nepotism. Unfortunately, many of us limit ourselves by having such a narrow view on how to get what we want. That’s the downside of associating regularly with damaged minds, pessimists, and perpetual escapists, who spend too much time keeping up with trivial things and not enough time doing things to increase their personal value and the quality of their lives.
Here are a couple examples of flexible thinking – both of these I personally have used:
If getting a degree is your goal, then take advantage of all sorts of learning opportunities. Going to college for 4 years, as soon as you exit high school, is not the formula for everyone. If it suits you, take credit courses here and there, looking into credit-for-experience programs (my book, Degree Hacking, gives you an actionable, inexpensive and easy-to-execute plan to accomplish this). Some schools even offer tests to demonstrate proficiency in certain areas; if you’re a student, you can take those tests at a fraction of the cost of a college course (my book discusses this, too). Also, remember all of the resources you have that can give you an educational edge up: local libraries usually offer free courses in a variety of subject areas; you can take free classes online in any area you can imagine; on the internet, you can preview course syllabi for any class you’re taking, and preread material that will be cover in the course (again, check out my book for more information about this).
If you want to travel, the first step is really easy: get a passport! It’s good for 10 years and you don’t have to be outside of the country to use it. Start setting aside a small amount per month to fund your dream trip (even $10 a month will get you there eventually.) This gives your focus (travel) some energetic momentum without having to commit a large amount of money up front. Consider buying a token that symbolizes your travel goals (like a travel journal). Join interest groups that will feed your desire to travel (meetup.com and local colleges can help with this, as well as the myriad Reddit, Facebook and Discord groups out there) or feel free to create a group of your own that indulges your travel desire. Check out travel websites regularly to find deals on flights, hotels, and rental cars – keeping up with the costs can help you to figure out how much you need to save. This research also crystallizes what things you actually want and need for your trip. Also, remember that, depending on how much travel you desire, there are many organizations that will pay for your airfare and lodging in different locales if you are willing to either teach English or help with humanitarian efforts.
Having a particular focus doesn’t mean that you can only achieve your desire in a singular way. I dreamed of attending an Ivy-league university, but I had no interest in pursuing a full degree. I ended up taking a grant funded program in a topic that really benefited me. I could have never anticipated that would be how I’d get my Ivy-league experience, but because I’m flexible, my desire was met with ease. It’s important to remember that it’s not the lack of options that causes problems, it’s when you lose sight of all the ways to get to your goals that discouragement sets in. People get discouraged when they see no way out: if you creative, though, you won’t feel discouraged for long.
I recommend, no matter what you do, that you get in contact with someone that can help you. You won’t always have every resources you need to get what you want. You have to make connections with people who will assist you on your path. You should not automatically feel entitled to their assistance. It is usually easier to ask for assistance from those who required to assist (school counselors or customer service representatives, for example.) However, the most powerful individuals are normally people who don’t owe you anything – convincing them to assist may be more challenging. If you can get one of these heavy hitters on your side, it will make your path infinitely easier. It should go without saying that showing your appreciation to everyone who helps you is a must. Being appreciative will 1) give you great karma and 2) make it easier for someone else who, later on, may ask for assistance from these same individuals. Showing appreciation can be a thank you note or a gift (be careful with gift-giving: you don’t want anything that can be misconstrued as bribery.)
That’s it for today, friends! I hope you’re having a fantastic day. I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!
Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had a wonderful and restful holiday weekend. In Virginia, we experienced 70+ degree (21+, if you use Celsius) temperatures so there was no snow for us. I’m thankful for this mild Christmas weekend: we were able to go out and not freeze!
I recently started posting a series of chattier videos over on my YouTube channel, and I wanted to share my most recent video over here on the blog, as it sums up one of the most valuable lessons I’ve gotten this year.
I used to struggle with honesty, not out of a desire to deceive, but because I mistakenly thought that silence (not telling the truth) was equivalent to peacekeeping. And yes, that’s true in some instances: every now and then, being quiet can be the best thing. But I realized that being truthful – out loud – was an essential channel for self love and self care for me in this year. I acknowledge that speaking the truth is a luxury (we are not all able to speak our minds freely) and I’m thankful for it. For me, every truthful expression has helped me step more and more into myself. I’m not perfect, but I love where I’m heading and how using my voice brings me into the most authentic expression of myself.
Here’s the video:
What priceless lessons have you gotten in 2021? I’d love to hear all about them in the comments below!
Hi friends! As we approach the end of the year, we may be spending some focused time on future plans, especially plans involving our health. In the upcoming year, we may choose excellent health as a resolution, and getting an early start on this goal is key. Also . . . Many of us are going to indulge in all sorts of treats in the name of holiday celebration, and we’ll be looking for repentance post-indulgence.
In light of this, this offer that I saw a few days ago is especially timely and extremely valuable. Dr. Tumi Johnson (I wrote about her here and here), author of Delicious Healing, has launched a complimentary gut health program that promises to help you heal the gut issues that may have long plagued you. Here is the video where she announces the program:
After the holiday weekend, I will be diving into the program. I’m looking forward to getting onto a good track right before the new year, and I plan to keep up any practices for at least three months, to give my body adequate time to reflect some progress. It’s important to note that Dr. Tumi is a holistic doctor and her programs reflect the need to integrate multiple healing modalities to get the best results. I trust this kind of perspective and wisdom because it is, in my experience, the most effective way to completely heal what is ailing within us. I’m looking forward to posting updates in the next few months, so that you can see any improvement that I have.
Would you all consider participating in a program like this one designed by Dr. Tumi? Or, do you have any other health plans that you plan to implement in the new year? I’d love to hear all about it!
It’s been a while, but I was overdue for a beauty product review. So, I picked up one of the eyeshadow palettes I’ve gotten in a previous Beem Box (I reviewed that box here, and I’ll also insert the video below), and decided to give it a try.
The palette is by Kara Beauty, a woman-owned cosmetic company that products cruelty-free and vegan products. I received the “With You” palette in my Beem Box. The palette has 8 neutrals, which can be combined in numerous ways to make some “perfect for every occasion” looks. At first glance, I thought that the colors weren’t dynamic enough; however, as I thought more seriously about it, I realized that these shades are actually perfect. Each color is easily interchangeable with another, and are perfect as transition, highlight and intensifying shades when combined with a more colorful palette.
if you have warm undertones, these are all very flattering shades. The packaging is pretty standard: it’s made of lightweight cardboard material, has a magnetic closure, and also has a mirror. The shades are as follows: Baby, Always, Garden Date, and No Doubt on the top row, Your Smile, Magic Portion, Two of Us and Soft Hug on the bottom row.
Now, for the real test: I swatched the shades so you can see how they show up on brown skin. Here’s how that went:
Needless to say, I’m disappointed in most of the shades. I take no issue in the shades that went invisible on my skin due to them being so close to my skintone, but what was really frustrating was how many layers I had to apply of No Doubt, Your Smile, Two of Us, and Soft Hug, just so it would show up in the picture. The deeper tones are definitely patchy, and I wouldn’t use them unless I was pressed for time and didn’t want to find another palette/comparable shade. I noticed that the website has rave reviews for this palette, but I’m assuming that’s because the reviewers have lighter complexions. On my skin, it takes a lot to make these colors show up, which is why I’m not enamored with the product.
Another concern I had was with the shimmers (Garden Date and Magic Portion). These are gorgeous in the palette but they don’t work well if you plan on applying with a shadow brush. The shimmers are definitely best for finger applications: when I applied them with my fingers, I had much better intensity. I tried this with the deeper shades (specifically, Your Smile and Soft Hug), but again, it came across patchy.
My final thoughts on this product is that I’m not a fan of it. I wouldn’t be opposed to trying other products from this line, but I just don’t think that the eyeshadows were great. I’ll probably end up giving it to my daughter so she can play with them (I already have similar shimmer shadows, so I don’t have to hold onto the palette just for those two shades).
Have any of you tried Kara Beauty’s products before? I’d love to hear your reactions in the comments below! Also here is my video when I give my first impression. I thought the product would perform better when I took the time to do a proper swatch, but I was incorrect (as I’ve already explained). I hope you all enjoy! Take care, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.
Happy Monday, friends! I trust that your weekend was safe, happy, and relaxing. It was another hot weekend in Virginia (my favorite type of weather!) so the weekend started and ended on a great note, as far as I’m concerned.
Today’s post is the first domestic one that I’ve done in quite some time. There would have been far more of these sort of posts this summer, but I ended up not planting my garden, so there were no flower or herb pictures to share. Also, a lot of my time during the pandemic was spent care for my grandmother and great-aunt. For that reason, I didn’t have much time to focus on the “fun” domestic activities that I’ll be talking about today.
That being said, my life is returning to normal. My grandmother and my great-aunt returned to their home, my health started to improve, and I finally had more free time to explore my creativity leanings. This newfound time freedom gave me the space to play around with craft ideas that, at one time, I didn’t think I’d have the time or energy to do.
So, in the upcoming weeks and months, I’ll be sharing all sorts of domestic posts and videos. I have an upcoming video where I feature a do-it-yourself autumn wreath that is beautiful, easy and inexpensive. I’ve also been tinkering with some foraging and wildcrafting recipes that I’m eager to share with you all. Today, however, I’m going to share a super-simple autumn-inspired tea recipe that I filmed last year, that will be perfect once the air starts to cool and the leaves start turning to red and gold.
I hope you all enjoy the video! I’ll talk to you all tomorrow. Take care!