30 May 2010

Cortex de Shomp and Zay

I've been going back over the plethora of new vocabulary I discovered at the Neuro seminar on Friday.  I really picked up a significant amount of useful terms such as le perte which means the loss [of] as in le perte du dextérité (loss of dexterity) or le perte du contrôle sélectif des mouvements (loss of selective control of limb movement) aka: syncinésies.  Or tissue conjoncif moins extensible which is really in essence "scar tissue."  And course du mouvement (passif ou actif) which I take to mean "range of motion."

There's the membre inférieur and the membre supérior which are the "lower" and "upper extremities" to Anglophones.  The fléchisseurs are the "flexors" while the extenseurs are the "extensors."

28 May 2010

If Only I Was Hooked on Phonetiques

Well, I'm happy to announce that I survived my very first continuing education course en français!!  That's right!  I spent 6 hours in a classroom listing to a rehab doc talk about spasticity.  The course is called

Fragilité, Handicap, Réadaptation
Restauration Neurologique du Mouvement

and today was the first day of six.  After suffering through an hour on botox, my Australian friend and I decided to hit the road instead of sticking around for another hour or so on neurosurgical techniques, since neither of us are licensed to take a scalpel to another human being in our respective countries.

26 May 2010

Mother Tongue Knows Best

During the lunch break today I had a postcard in my mailbox.  It was from my mom!  At the bottom of the card she wrote  "What will you laugh and write about when you make no language mistakes?"  Well, not to worry, loyal readers, I'm pretty sure I will continue making language mistakes for as long as I'm alive.

Such as this afternoon in class.

23 May 2010

Taking Language Learning by the Horns

I have to admit.  When I signed up to move to France to study a new language I never gave any thought to the reality that for however long I wouldn't be able to freely participate in the activities I really enjoy.  I've shared before about missing crossword puzzles, but they are the tip of the iceberg.

I love being an Occupational Therapist.  There is such fun to be had in the melange of science with art!  The role of the OT is to help facilitate someone else's participation in activities and roles that are meaningful for that person.  We teach or reeducate individuals to do the everyday life "stuff" or we change their environment to give them ease and freedom of movement.   I LOVE MY JOB!

20 May 2010

Just a Little Laugh

A great big MERCI BEAUCOUP to all of you who left me such encouraging comments or emailed . . . Wednesday and today have been better . . . not completely great, but better.  And "better" is always more preferable to "worse," so it's looking up.

But just two quick little chuckles to reward you for persevering through all the ups and downs and foot-in-the-mouth moments that have been my life in French language school:

18 May 2010

Je Voudrais Abandoner . . . Mais J'Espère d'Arriver

This morning I walked out of class.  It wasn't over, we still had half an hour to go, but I couldn't sit there and cry while things  moved on without me.

I don't normally cry over not understanding . . . I'm a year shy of 30 . . . how ridiculous to cry over something so silly.  But I'll be honest, I don't feel ridiculous at all.  I have accepted that this position is humbling and it strips me of everything of myself that I had once put my confidence in . . . and somedays I just need a good cry.  And sitting there in class, I really didn't have a good reason to cry, but the tears just kept coming and I couldn't make them stop (it got a bit messy, really).

14 May 2010

A Couple More of Your Questions.

Questions Answered

What was the worst place you've traveled to?

That's a hard one . . . is that worst as in: place I liked least . . . worst conditions . . . worst weather . . . least favorite adventure . . . biggest disappointment?

Well, since I dialogue with myself here, I think I might answer all of them . . . or at least give a reasonable answer to all of them (there are some travel stories I won't fess up to until I'm 95!)

10 May 2010

Becoming Nothing

Last week a French friend handed me a good dose of humility, and boy did I need it!

Some of you may remember my recent post about the incident in the post office . . . well, two weeks after the fact, I still wasn't over it.  And not only was I just "not over it," I was still angry about it!  And while wallowing in self for far too long, I really let it go way too far in my heart.

Well, last week, I brought the incident back up.  My friend simply responded with "again?"  As we talked more, he said to me "I'm just really surprised by this.  Here you are, a Christian, and you can't forgive her.  I don't understand that.  You are holding this against someone who doesn't know Jesus!"


I stopped.  I hadn't thought about it in those terms before.  She was a stranger . . . what did forgiveness have to do with anything?  And, yeah, why wasn't I letting this go??  I began to process.

After accepting the reality that, yes, in fact I was harboring anger that had turned to bitterness towards this woman, I began to process why this minor incident had become such a huge mound of rubbish in my heart.  I started to understand that my anger wasn't towards this woman as an individual, but as a figure-head (for lack of a better term) for my frustration with the language/culture learning process.

No, it was more than it.  It wasn't just being frustrated with French.  It was really that in my heart I wanted to hold onto some form of dignity . . . but it wasn't dignity . . . it was pride.  Ugly, messy, selfish pride.

Jesus calls His followers to be empty of self . . . so, what was my problem??  I had always considered that process to be a pretty active one . . . you know, "lay it on the alter" not "have it ripped from my death-grip." Sure there are times that God uses our circumstances to chisel away the muck of self . . . but language learning is a whole different ball game.  My pride was stripped from me when I walked through the doors of this school.  Sure I "chose" to come here . . . but I had no idea what I was in for!  Most days I feel inside like I'm flailing around in the cold stormy waters of French groping in the dark for a lifesaver.  But what I forget is that I'm not alone, and I'm not going to survive if I do this on my own strength.  And the truth of it is, if I am a disciple of Jesus, I have no business seeking out ways to maintain my pride.  There is no room here for it!  There is no room on the throne for self.

I am reminded by M.J. Stanford's chapter on Self in The Green Letters that "This disintegration is something the believer can never enter into nor engineer on his own--self will never cast out self.  He has to be led into it by the mercy of the Holy Spirit--into failure; abject and total" (p.41).  Brennan Manning opens The Signature of Jesus with the reminder that "What Jesus longs to see in radical disciples is what he saw in little children: a spirit of sheer receptivity, utter dependence, and radical reliance on the power and mercy and grace of God mediated through the Spirit of Christ.  He said, 'Apart from me you can do nothing' (Jn 15:5)" (p. 15).

So, there you have it.  I am still in the midst of the becoming nothing process . . . thankful that I have been led here by the mercy of a most kind and gracious Father.

07 May 2010

Let's Make Lasagna!

So in French there's this great term: les faux amis, the false friends.  What it refers to are the words that exist in both English and French, but have different meanings.  Par example: deception.  In English it means "deception", as in trickery . . . but en français it translates as "disappointment."  Another good one is preferer, which, the verb in English to prefer connotes the better of two choices as per one's own taste, but en français it refers to one's favorite.

I'm finding, living in an international community comme ça that even in English we find les faux amis between Anglophones who hail from England and the US (and I'm sure from Oz too, just haven't found any yet).  For example, Lasagna.

06 May 2010

As The World Mourns Jin & Sun

I'm not a huge TV fan.  But for the past six years, I have faithfully been glued for an hour a week to the greatest show that has ever been aired: LOST.

One of the hardest things to accept before moving to France was the reality that watching this show at the time it aired at home would be impossible.  Thankfully there are a handful of us here at Les Cedres who share this addiction.  So (just about) every Wednesday since the final season began in January, we huddle around my friend's computer to watch the download from iTunes (quite possibly one of the top 10 greatest inventions of the decade).

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, you need to understand . . . this hasn't just been six years of a TV show.  LOST is an experience.  It's been six years of reading, discussing and listening to theories of plot structure, hidden "easter eggs" and cultural references to the Bible, history, literature, art, music, major world religions and philosophy.

03 May 2010

I Speak Aphasic . . . En Français!

I thought I had written a blog post many months ago about meeting a man at church who has aphasia, but I can't seem to locate it.  Hmm, maybe I made a comment about it on my facebook status once.

Anyway, I know I've blogged before about thinking I have aphasia . . . you remember . . . when I asked the woman in the toll booth for the recipe instead of the receipt.  Sure you remember.  You laughed heartily at my expense.

But that old post is not the point.

01 May 2010

Mini Golf in France . . . Who Knew!

Another great question from a reader!  These are always so much fun to answer.  Keep them coming!!  The better the question, the better the answer!

Questions Answered

Do French people golf? I've never heard or seen French people golfing... what about mini golf?

HA!! GREAT QUESTION! I'm not really sure. I have to say I have not yet SEEN a golf course, but that doesn't mean they aren't here. And come to think of it, I'm not sure I've seen mini golf either. Hmmm. Hold on, let's see what the all knowing Google has to say.