ASL has been my dream for years! I finally realized waiting for my life to calm down, just wasn't ever going to happen. I needed to carve a space into my schedule and make it happen! Saying "I want to do sign language" didn't really get me anywhere. I wanted to do ASL for 20 years, but nothing happened from just wanting it or wishing for it. I wrote down why I wanted to do it. I wrote down what my obstacles were. I pondered what (or how) I needed to overcome these obstacles. Once I knew all that, I knew I could just go for it! My biggest obstacles were: 1) Time, 2) too many bad health days, 3) transportation.
I wasn't balancing the electrolyte chloride. Because I didn't know how. Very little is known or written about chloride deficiencies. Once I figured out how my body responded to chloride, I had less bad health days, much shorter episodes, which meant I now had more time to do things I loved. 2 of my 3 obstacles were addressed. As I kept having long episodes involving my voice this past year, I started thinking much more about ASL; like how much I missed it, that I need it to help with communication now too. I thought about why I started, why I loved it so much. That it had kind of eaten at me, this disappointment that I quit, and wasn't getting better enough to dive into a big thing. Thought about why I quit (crazy health), so there wouldn't be a repeat when I tried again. I don't always feel my fingers, but I figured plenty of people sign with muscle issues. Then I wondered, "Why not?! Why can't I take a class?" There had to be a way, and I decided to find it. I also decided that when I started up this time, this was a for the rest of my life commitment. I started thinking about logistics to make my new goal of ASL happen. I examined everything I did each day and decided if I should continue it (or not) and how much time I wanted to spend doing each thing. I've worked hard at setting good, realistic goals. Really had to think about what was truly doable with my body. (I was also making exercise goals during this same planning session.)
I started out small, while I worked on creating my goals and plan. I watched videos and tried different times of day to practice, to test what worked best. I found two sets of free You-Tube videos I really enjoyed and found helpful. One was Bill Vicars with LifePrint; The other was Rochelle Barlow doing ASL in 31 Days. I also decided (at least to start) that I just wanted to be good at being conversational in ASL. Work on gaining vocabulary and learning good ASL grammar-sentence structure. Which meant I didn't need to go the college certification route right now. Not being able to drive makes that route not possible right now. Rochelle offered what seemed the perfect solution for me. She designed a class on-line for people with crazy schedules. (everyone right?) The idea was to spend 5 minutes a day, and over time you build vocabulary and skills. Watch a video then work on flash cards that went with the videos. My third obstacle addressed! My husband encouraged me and told me he really wanted me to do this for myself, so I signed up. Family support is so helpful! First class in 22 years, but I finally did it! I was so happy and proud of myself! (Personal side note: My husband remembers how much I loved ASL when we first met. He actually drove me to all my classes because I didn't have my drivers license yet. He also let me practice my signing assignments with him, because I needed a friendly audience. These things were actually a big part of me realizing I wanted to marry him. He supported me with my dreams and helped me get there. -Literally and figuratively)
I've met my ASL goals for 4 months now, so I did make a good plan for me after all. Hooray! I think if we don't think it through, and create a very specific plan (like schedule a set time for practice), we're less likely to stick with it long term. Whenever something takes a lot of work, I'm realizing I do need to remember why I do things, to know that it's worth the effort, when things get hard. And if I get sick or have a bad muscle day, then I have to let it go, give myself a sick day to recover. I know I can try again the next day, and its really OK, because I know I'm trying my best. Many people have talents but then they drop them when they finish school, have big health challenges, or start having children. Our talents can help other people (including our family), while at the same time they can help us. Things like painting, playing an instrument, singing, playing sports, can help us by decompressing or just the happiness of doing something we love and enjoy. If you're disappointed you stopped working on a talent you loved, do you know your obstacles? It took me 9 months to realize chloride deficiency was my biggest obstacle and know what to do about that. If you feel stuck, can you try smaller increments of time? 5 minutes a day? Or just one day a week? Do you have a friend who wants to try the same goal with you?... I'm really glad ASL is back in my life again.
If interested, here was the solution to my scheduling and transportation challenges. I get no compensation for this. I just think she's awesome and fun, so wanted to share. I have worked on Rochelle Barlow's classes of: ASL in 31 Days, ASL in 5, ASL Done Right vol 1, and this week started ASL Done right 2, which includes Foundations lessons. http://www.asldoneright.com/ Here's a video example: