Post #3220: Trying to fit it all in


My birthday is on Monday and I will be forty-eight years old. Brian and I are the same age from February until May, when he turns forty-nine which is only one year away from fifty. This week also marks my work anniversary of twenty-three years. I haven’t had exactly the same job all this time, but I have worked in the same field (Communications) for the same organization for almost half of my lifetime. By the time I turn fifty, I will be able to say half. Half of my lifetime will have been spent at one desk or another, in front of a screen, telling things to people about fish and fisheries or managing projects intended to distribute information about the same.

I’ve been thinking about my age this week, not because of my birthday, but because I’ve been asked more than once in the last few months if I want to learn French to advance my career. In the federal government, once you get to a certain level, no matter how well you do your job you must be bilingual to go further. I am fully qualified as a manager, for example, and yet I cannot be a manager without learning French because I would be responsible for managing people in a bilingual environment, where everyone has the right to work in the official language of their choice. Even in my work life now, I go to meetings where I don’t quite understand my colleagues because they speak too fast for my slow-French ear to pick up. Over the years I’ve tried to get language training, but it was never deemed a priority. Now that I’m senior in my career, it has become one and I wonder if I’m too old to become fluent in a second language, enough to pass the written/oral/comprehension tests within a year or so. It would require a lot of focus, for sure.

At the same time, I’ve been working through some music composition practice, and reflecting on music as just another language. Notes are, like words, abstract representations of a thought and there are rules about how those thoughts are put on the page. Because music is a language I learned from my earliest years, I can read a musical score just as I read a book. I pick up the music sheet, and “hear” the notes as I my eyes take them in. Sometimes music is too complicated for me to do this with, just as some academic texts are too difficult for me to comprehend. But it is all the same to me whether I pick up a book or a musical score – I understand what the author/composer is trying to convey. There is a part of me that hopes this language fluency between English and Music means that part of my brain is turned on and accessible for other forms of language learning.

A photograph of a couch with books, papers and a laptop strewn around.
This is my writing and reading nest. I spend a lot of time here these days.

Since the start of the year I’ve been in a really inquisitive phase. I am writing again, reading with great intensity, learning how to use musical notation software, and investigating approaches to language acquisition. I’m thinking about joining an academic seminar this spring, attending weekly Zen lectures, and listening to a wide range of violin music whenever I get the chance. I feel a bit like I did a few years ago when I started my Masters degree and had to read 35 books in a couple of months; taking in information from a variety of sources fuels my creativity in new and unexpected ways and creates a little buzz of excitement around learning and doing more! Though it’s not sustainable to remain in this state over the long term (in order to really focus on something, you need to pare back to do that thing well for awhile), in the short term it’s all kinds of interesting creative energy and that feels like the counterbalance I need to the winter/pandemic time we are living in.

As a result of all the thinking, reading, playing music, and writing – I haven’t been doing any sewing or weaving lately – and I’m choosing to be okay with that. It’s not for lack of desire, but there is only so much time in any week and there is very little “extra” time in my life. One thing I do continue to prioritize is workouts and runs. Not only do I need the exercise, but I am pretty sure that a part of what fuels all this energy and confidence is my powerlifting and fitness progress. I haven’t had any big gym gains lately, but I do notice small changes in strength and agility that I’m quite pleased with quite often. The Stronger by the Day program continues to deliver really great workouts that give me new challenges weekly while still maintaining a focus on the powerlifts. I’m really glad I signed up for that in December, as it’s put new fuel into my workouts and I have a very solid 4 day per week lifting commitment now (up from 3 days per week).

I look forward to birthday festivities this weekend, and especially cake! An old university friend moved into our neighbourhood last February and has started a baked goods business. We’ve been on his list for free treats as he’s been experimenting with recipes – and finally, have had a reason to put in a custom order. If you are on Gabriola, check out B’s Baked Goods – currently selling through Robert’s Place, and (soon) the Farmer’s Market. He also does custom orders and catering. I’ll let you know how the cake was during my next update here. Until then – have a good weekend all!

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