All wisdom can be found by repeatedly watching Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai. One thing I really admire about Cruise’s Captain Nathan Algren is his ability to play with the children of the samurai, ask questions, and learn the language. Apparently, during the Indian wars, he had mastered some of the Native American languages. (It really saved the movie from too many subtitles. I want to watch a movie not read subtitles. If I wanted to read I would buy a copy of the Enquirer. 🙂
Limit Over!--Inspirational Sign from Japanese Classroom
What Algren may not have known, is that his ability to speak more than one language may have long-term cognitive benefits. According to a recent New York Times Article on the Benefits of Bilingualism, “Why Bilinguals Are Smarter”, there are several advantages to cross-training your brain with a foreign language:
Breakthrough--Most Japanese Schools Have Inspirational Slogans--This one is in English
improved cognitive skills
potential protection from dementia
better functioning of the brain’s “executive function” or command systems
Getting tired of the whole samurai riff? Well let’s change cliches. You can call me Notebook Kid, the rootenest, tootenest, notebook slinging samurai thar is. I always walk around with two notebooks: one cocked and ready for a new thoughts and the other in my holster (um, manbag) ready for review. (I could also use a samurai metaphor. You know samurai traveled around with two swords, a long one and a short one for close combat and hari-kiri. But I still have a day job. I can’t quite stretch that metaphor right now.)
Okay, well, the long and short of it (Oh yes, I managed to mangle the samurai metaphor! Samurai–I just can’t quit you!) is that you need to keep stretching but also reminding yourself of where you’ve been.
I got two katanas and an old notebook!
Some guidelines for a Samurai Notebook:
try to keep entries positive or neutral ….you can have a different notebook for complaining etc
review regularly and have fun with it–if it feels like a chore either change your mind state or do something else. Review is good, but when you tire of it move on to something fun. You can review it and you can change your thoughts about review. Maybe what’s in it isn’t so interesting. So what are you doing with a notebook that isn’t so interesting?
put dates on entries–it helps if you are going to do schedule reviews
fun, fun, fun–this is your place to play–find new ways to expand
What a samurai notebook does for you:
reminds you of your dreams, hopes, and actions
works on the subconscious level by constantly reminding you of important thoughts you want to have
reminds you that you are important
helps you to be an artist with your life
keeps important thoughts at the tip of your tongue
There is a preciousness and non-preciousness to my notebooks. I just finished one notebook. It looks beaten up and yet it reminds me of some fun and important stuff.
Some of the things that were in my last Samurai Notebook:
A list of things I want to make happen in my life.
The lyrics to “We Will Rock You”
Quotes from Steve Chandler’s book, 50 Ways to Create Great Relationships. He quotes David Viscott: “If you cannot risk, you cannot grow. If you cannot grow, you cannot become your best. If you cannot become your best, you cannot be happy. And if you cannot be happy, what else matters?” (I don’t agree with every quote, but it’s good to have things that challenge your mind keep popping up regularly.)
Copycat sprints from Japanese self-help books. I copy out sections of Japanese books as a way to learn.
Quick future brainstorming circles. Draw four circles and project what you want in your life: always, one year from now, one month from now, and today. Another Steve Chandler technique.
Notes on things that were important to me during staff meetings.
“The real secret of success is enthusiasm. Yest, more than enthusiasm. I would say excitement. I like to see people get excited . . .when they get excited, they make a success of their lives.” Walter Chrysler
“As stars with trains of fire, and dews of blood, disasters in the sun . . .” Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Notes (in Japanese and English) from my participation at the Financial Success Academy
“Everything in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself.” Rumi
Quick brainstorms on how to best help my students.
“We possess such immense resources of power that pessimism is a laughable absurdity.” Colin Wilson.
Just scouring through my notebook to make the list has given me a lift. (That and the hot cup of java!) The notebook itself is a little beaten up. Part of the binding is separated from the rest of the book. Samurai notebooks are like battered signposts, weathering the elements, pointing you back to yourself and your samurai journey.
Sometimes a samurai mind needs to be shaken up. And stirred.
297 days ago, I signed up for Silverspoon, a service from the creator of All Japanese All the Time, that is meant to guide you to Japanese fluency. Today, I am celebrating by listening to German Rock. What the heck? Continue reading »
I was walking to the writer’s room this morning and in the midst of my samurai shuffle (listening to an iPod with random Japanese music and books on tape), Furuichi-san came on and talked about the importance of studying in the morning. Now mind you, as far as the Japanese language is concerned I’m as dangerous as a novice wielding a samurai sword. I’m more likely to hurt myself as anything else. Take all translations with a dash of soy.
You don't have to be a Buddha to develop a morning practice
According to Furuichi, morning has several advantages. There are fewer distractions in the morning: interesting television programs, phone calls, social invitations, etc. Furthermore, from his personal experience Furichi-san claims that studying in the morning is more effective than in the evening. He suggests that you experiment by studying in the morning and in the evening for two hours and noting your results.
I have become a creature of the morning. During the weekdays, I am a high school teacher and it seems every second is taken with teaching, planning, copying, or dealing with many situation. On Sundays, I am busy planning and grading. When I get home, my daughters want to play and then need to be bathed, fed, and storied. (Love it.) By the time, 9:30 rolls around, I’m pretty much exhausted and moving towards bed.
I wake up in the morning around 5 a.m. I like to wake up before the 5:30 alarm and turn it off because waking up to an alarm is not how I want to start off the day. I guess the “I Can” book is rubbing off a little on me, because if I wake up complaining I try to right my thinking for a little bit and concentrate on the positive–little corrections to keep my ship straight. If I’ve woken myself early enough I do some exercise, usually nei kung, a Chinese strengthening and alignment series of exercises.
Afterwards I walk towards the Writer’s Room. It’s sometimes the only chance I get for cardio exercise and offers a chance to be in the sun and the cityscape. When I get to the writer’s room before going to work and I make the decision to just make one hour of the day my time. I split it between writing a book proposal, working on the blog, studying Japanese, and spending a little time on success literature or history that moves my mind.
For me, studying means anything I want to expand in my life. I’ve moved forward with my book proposal, I’ve learned a little more Japanese, and more importantly I am having more fun. Sometimes ideas don’t come but sometimes they do, and I leave the writer’s room with a little bit of an inner glow. It’s nice to start the morning with a “win” all before eight o’clock.
Consider the mornings. Like Toni Morrison, I kind of plugged myself into the mornings because of the small children in my life:
I was involved in writing Beloved at that time—this was in 1983—and eventually I realized that I was clearer-headed, more confident and generally more intelligent in the morning. The habit of getting up early, which I had formed when the children were young, now became my choice. I am not very bright or very witty or very inventive after the sun goes down. Paris Review
Well, I’m no Toni Morrison. I’m better. I can personally guarantee you that when I write my novel it will have more car chases and zippy one liners than Beloved ever hoped to have. Way more. 🙂 I will rise with the sun and make it my mission.
When you choose your own sources of input, you can choose things that you really care about. Instead of reading some random article in your English textbook, you can read a Harry Potter book, an e-mail message from a friend, an Internet forum with relationship advice, or perhaps news about your favorite football club. Instead of listening to a boring recording in class, you can watch your favorite TV series or a video podcast about computer technology.
by Tomasz P. Szynalski Antimoon: How to Learn English Effectively
You are traveling along with me on my long and strange trip to Japanese literacy and fluency. Why am I reading and sharing Japanese self-help books. Have I proven that they have the most powerful successful secrets to change your or my life? No, sir! So why am I reading them?
Amazing bookstore in Argentina. I would love to go there some day. Reading is fun de mental.
Because they are fun and addictive. If I’ve learned anything from All Japanese All the Time (AJATT), it is the key element of fun. I could flagellate myself with books and materials that aren’t any fun, but why should I? It’s a waste of time and life, and more importantly it’s less effective.
AJATT got a lot of its inspiration from Antimoon, a website devoted to helping people learn English through immersion and repetition instead of English classes. Antimoon highlights the benefits of fun:
If your input is fun, you get it much more willingly and spend more time on it. In fact, once you get a taste of all the amazing content you can get in English, it may be difficult to tear yourself away!
Fun leads to stronger memories. When you see or hear something that matters to you, you can remember much more. For example, if you’re reading some article that your teacher gave you, you usually want to read it quickly and be done with it. But suppose you’re reading the lyrics of a new song by your favorite band. You are much more likely to repeat them to yourself and keep them in your memory — together with all the grammar and vocabulary!
That’s why my new motto as far as books is concerned is “Love ‘Em or Leave Em: Fun with Benefits.” I haven’t abandoned the “difficult” goal of learning Japanese, but I am tacking and trying different methods. There is something to be said about working through a difficult text. (Insert thought here: _____________________________________) But what if fun books are the back door way to be able to access more difficult books in the future.? As Khatz says, “Fun gets done.”
I’m doing this with non-Japanese books. I checked out Whoever Makes the Most Mistakes Wins: The Paradox of Innovation by Richard Farson and Ralph Keyes because it was cited in something I read recently. It’s a good book and the message is great, but not the book that was pulling at me. I’ve been on a Steve Chandler kick and saw that he has a book called Time Warrior: How to Defeat procrastination, people-pleasing, self-doubt, over-commitment, broken promises and chaos. I’m checking it out on my phone and playing around with the Kindle app. (BTW the cover is graced by a katana wielding samurai!)
I generally enjoy only five minutes of non-work, non-Japanese reading a day so I need to to make these books count. I’ll leave you with a little paragraph from Time Warrior:
Create projects and small adventures that lead you to the grand vision you want. None of this has to be experienced as pressure. The great quarterback Fran Tarkenton used to say, “If it’s not fun you’re not doing it right.”
I met Masato Izumi after a two hour “Money Cultivation” seminar at the Financial Academy. The woman I sat next to at the seminar explained to me that he owned fifteen buildings in Tokyo and was a multimillionaire. As she explained this, I noticed how relaxed he was. (Is he relaxed because he is rich or is he rich because he’s relaxed?) He seemed like a nice guy and like I mentioned in my previous post, he encouraged me to read his book as a way of learning Japanese.
I’ve ditched the other Japanese book I read and am having a good time so far with this one. It’s slow going. This time I’m using my Japanese apps to look up vocabulary along the way. (Until it’s not fun any more.)
What I like is his story. (or what I understand of it.) Izumi describes himself as a bad student during his high school days. Against his family’s desire that he study to enter a good university, Izumi-san decided that he wanted to be a hair stylist. In Japan, apparently becoming a hair stylist is a long process. After graduating from beauty school, prospective hairstylists start by a long period of sweeping up around the shop, then moving on to shampooing hair, etc.
Izumi-san barely scraped by on his salary of $1,300 a month. In Tokyo, that amount doesn’t go far and he describes how economized by keeping the bathroom door open instead of buying another light bulb and spending more on electricity.
However, his life was changed by meeting the owner of the shop, a fashionable and friendly man who schooled Izumi san on the importance of learning about money, the economy, and investing in your self.
Like I’ve said before, it’s slow but fun going so let’s take a quick peek at the selected items of the table of contents to see where this puppy is going:
Hoshisan (his hairdressing mentor) talks about the importance of developing curiousity
If you don’t change your self, you can’t change anything
Find your path!
Begin with what you can do
The two steps to sales
Think of the reasons you CAN do it
Think, “I want to change the areas where I lack knowledge of money”
Listen to the stories of successful people
the difference between “Return” and “Risk” oriented people
How to save for investments
First, invest in your self
Thinking in terms of Return On Investment (ROI)
Let’s learn from your job (or make learning your job)?
Look for reasons you can do it!
How to be prepared to take advantage of chances
Leverage your wisdom, time, and money
Know the risks
Control your feelings and your money
Am I any richer in the week since I received this book? Well, I have probably logged in eight or nine hours “studying” the book and learning Japanese without being bored out of my friggin’ Samurai mind. Just trying to leverage my knowledge, time and money. Pretty good Return on Investment for a $20 course. Know what I mean, Vern?