Reading, Writing, and Languages

I wanted to share a bit with all of you about where my passion and drive around this blog stems from. In my mind, this drive and passion I have consists of three parts. There is my love for reading, my love for writing, and my love of languages.

I'm going to start with my love for reading. As a woman with three bookshelves packed full of books, I think it goes without saying that I love to read. My relationship with books has shaped me in many ways. When I was a child, we had a bookshelf packed full of children's books. While my parents also owned books of their own, my sister and I essentially had our own bookshelf that was packed full. We would be read bedtime stories and flip through the books ourselves for fun. I have very early memories of flipping through books and enjoying the stories that they shared. Truthfully when I think of my relationship with books, it wasn't something I learned to love. It feels more like a love that I was born with.

Starting in elementary school, I remember learning how to read. More than that, I remember this sense of determination all the way back when I was in Kindergarten to be the best reader in class. I don't think of myself as being competitive, but when it came to books and reading, I needed to be the best. By the time I was in first grade, my teacher pulled me aside and asked if I was interested in reading my first chapter book. I was more advanced in reading than the rest of the class and it was something extra to continue my progression. As a grown adult, I still feel this great pride in that achievement.

In addition to progressing as a reader in first grade, my teacher also began an introduction to the world of writing to me. In class, we had a specific notebook that was to be our "log." From my understanding, this type of writing is fairly common in classes at that age. So it wasn't anything special my teacher had done, but it left a lasting impression on me. We were free to write about anything we wanted to which opened a door for me to explore self expression.

The following few years continued with having us keep some sort of journal that we would write in. The timing couldn't have been better for me. During those years, my family and I experienced a great deal of loss. I great number of my family members grew sick and passed away. As a very young person, learning how to grieve one death is a challenging task. Having multiple deaths to process and grieve adds a far greater challenge. Thankfully, I was taught at a very young age to write about whatever was on my mind. Whatever I was thinking or feeling, I could jot it all down. And that's exactly what I did. I kept diaries and journals. I wrote poems and stories. I did a lot of processing through writing. And when I needed to escape reality for awhile, I could always dive into a book and escape my own world for awhile. In many ways, reading and writing has been the life vest that has gotten me through challenging times. But it's also something I've loved long before any sort of tragedy struck.

The third part of all of this is my love for languages. I've always known that a large portion of my ancestry was German. It was a detail that I absolutely loved about myself. Living in Wisconsin, it's a fairly German/European area. There are many of us that have German in our ancestry. It didn't make me unique by any means, but it didn't change the fact that I loved it. As a young girl, my dad would teach me and my sister how to count and to say simple things like, "good morning." (Guten Morgen!) My favorite thing, however, was when we would sit down for dinner and talk my dad into saying a prayer in German. I didn't know what any of it meant, but it made that meal feel more special for me.

As a young girl, I took a German summer school class and learned some of the basics. Then as a teenager, I took German classes in school. Many could argue that it isn't the most practical language to study and that Spanish would have been more practical. While that may be true, to me it didn't matter. Being German is a part of who I am and for me, it was important to fully embrace that. So I studied the language for four years and even took a trip to Germany in that time.

Studying German introduced me to this love that I carry for languages. It could be written in English, oder Deutsch, veya Turkce, او عربي. It could be written in italics or in bold. Languages are so complex and contain so much. You can simply learn the words themselves. But when you know the language, the door to everything that is left unsaid swings open. Everything that was once lost in translation is now found.

As an adult, I dabbled a bit in learning a tiny bit of Turkish. Truly not enough to hold a conversation, but just enough to be able to recognize the occasional word. Currently I'm studying Arabic. Much like my relationship with books being natural, I feel that in some ways I have that same relationship with languages. I've had many people comment that they feel learning Arabic would be extremely difficult since you are learning both a new alphabet as well as a new language. However I'm constantly surprising myself with how quickly I catch on to each lesson. It feels almost innate.

I love stories. Whether I'm being told a story or if I'm doing the telling, it doesn't matter. I love it. And I love the variety of ways you can convey a message. You can tell someone face to face, write it to them, act it out, sing it, the list goes on and on. I am filled with stories and thoughts and questions. And this spot here in this blog is one of the many places I plan to share them with you.

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