Ever wanted to ask me these questions?
“How do you remember all this stuff?” and “How do you pronounce that?“
Of all the questions I get asked by my health coaching clients, these are the most common, and in many ways, my favorite ones to answer. The super short answer to both those questions is actually the same: REPETITION…
Some True Stories:
One: When I was in middle school, I started taking French lessons… I actually started before middle school, piggy backing on my brother’s private lessons, and when all was said and done, I had five years of French classes under my belt. During my first trip to Paris with my family during those years, my father wanted to see what all my studying had produced, and when I proclaimed that I wanted a crepe from one of the local stalls, he told me I could have one, if I ordered it myself. “Oh god. Oh godohgodohgod” I thought. People were listening. Right in this very moment, I’m being judged. My pronunciation better be good, or I’ll be humiliated! But damn, I wanted that crepe! Sooo….
“Un crepe, with sugar. Merci.”
I caved. I cheated. To this day my dad still pokes fun of me for that. And to this day, aside from survivalist French, the only things I can say with any confidence are: “May I go to the bathroom?” “What time is it?” and “There’s a chicken in the refrigerator. ”
Two: After I realized I sucked at French, I decided to try something new, and switched to German. After 3 years of high school German, I can say, literally, nothing. Actually, I don’t even know how to say “nothing” in German. I can count to 10, and if pressed, I can probably dig deep and introduce myself, but far, far less than I should after 3 years of classes. (In my defense, Frau Kochefko was a total push over, and most people in my class were blatantly cheating on every exam. I however, am totally innocent.)
Three: After floundering at both French & German, I was saddened to see upon entry to college, that 3 years of foreign language were required. “Here we go again!”, I thought.
I figured the fault lay in Roman based languages, and that if I switched to something totally different, say, Japanese, that I’d finally get this foreign language thing licked. So I signed up for Japanese and struggled through learning characters, entire alphabets, and for a while, I was actually feeling it. But fast forward to our verbal examination sophomore year, sitting alone in the classroom facing my professor, with only a desk, and his Japanese-only-no-English-allowed questions between us, I was suddenly transported back to that Paris creperie, breaking into a cold sweat. Somehow I passed, but hardly with flying colors.
So, what can I say in Japanese after 3 hard years of college-level study? “I like bananas.” “ashtray.” “eyeglasses.” “I like hamburgers.” (this is not even true!) And “please die.” Seriously.
Why am I telling you this?
Because learning about environmental toxicity is a little bit like learning a foreign language. In fact, I often refer to it as such, and refer to helping people reach a higher level of “fluency.” Funny that I should be teaching what amounts to a foreign language, after I failed at so many of my own.
On the road to fluency in any language, there are those cold-sweat moments, the “oh shit, I’m being judged right now.” moments, and the floundering, fumbling, and wishing life was “open-book.”
I constantly remind my clients that these fumbly, awkward moments will happen to them. And it’s totally okay! It’s all part of the process.
Amazingly, the language of environmental toxicity is the only “foreign” language that I’ve managed to achieve fluency in. And here’s how I did it:
REPETITION. And repeat. REPETITION.
Add to that IMMERSION, something I was always lacking in my middle school, high school, and college days of foreign language classes. (I had no one to speak French, German, or Japanese too!)
Immersion is achieved by constantly being involved in conversations about environmental toxicity… it’s achieved by staying connected to the issues, and to the constant flow of information. Unlike most actual languages, which generally speaking are static and unchanged in the short term, the world of environmental toxicity is growing quickly, and new information is coming out every day… so the only way to stay fluent, is to stay immersed.
Consider this CONTINUING EDUCATION, because, well, it is.
When you graduated nutrition school, and were newly minted as a Certified Health Coach, you likely didn’t stand up and go “Well, my brain is full. No more learning for me! I know everything I need to know to help everyone get well!” (Admittedly, I did hear this kind of proclamation from a few people back when I graduated IIN, but those people are no longer practicing and went back to their former jobs…)
You knew that this was just the start and that to really make something of this, to really turn your passion into practice, and into revenue, you had a lifetime of continued learning ahead of you. To be able to offer a small, but important piece of the continued education piece to health & wellness practitioners is both fun and rewarding. And within this work I do my best to cater to those who struggled to learn a foreign language by offering up ever important repetition, and once within my courses, immersion.
Every client of mine is able to take, and re-take, and re-take my courses, as many times as they want, for free, because this.is.how.I.learn. Because repetition is what allowed me to learn to say “perfluorooctanoic acid” without skipping a beat. Or to say “hexafluorosilicic acid” without stumbling over my vowels, and consonants.
If you’re stumbling or struggling with this strange, confusing, technical and often overwhelming language, let me know by commenting below. I shared my award “un crepe, with sugar” story… I’m sure you have some of your own!