The Real Language Barrier

Cross cultural communication has proven to be more difficult than I thought in marriage. Before getting married to someone from another country and race, I had expected that communication between us would be a time to shine with free-flowing understanding and empathy. I also imagined the two of us laughing about why we choose certain words over others and how we say things differently than the other, despite both speaking English. But it wasn’t like this. There was a root language barrier preventing us from true understanding and I realized it wasn’t limited to just us. This barrier is everywhere.

A little background… My husband is from Jamaica and though in Jamaica locals speak English, most islanders speak Patwa (also spelled Patois or Patwah). Patwa is a heavy English dialect that I misunderstood and couldn’t keep up with when I lived on the island for a good nine months last year. When it came to talking to locals, it would often take two or three tries of me saying, “what?” before I could catch the full meaning. Bar tenders, baristas, wait staff, those selling trinkets and food on the beach, even my husband’s family that we lived with proved difficult for me to understand at times with simple things. Though I learned to pick up some Patwa, I relied on Kevin for translating most of the time.  

Then there was the communication between he and I… and I learned very quickly after getting married, that language was going to be a bigger issue than I expected. Though my husband doesn’t communicate in Patwa to me, except to tease every once in a while, I realized that the words we both use to describe things, and certain phrases that neither of us thought about that come from our individual cultures, needed to be slowed down and explained at times. Still now, fears, frustrations, even humor often needs to be explained in a way that we’re both really able to get quiet and listen.

And then one day it hit me—the real language barrier between us isn’t in how we talk or what needs to be explained, but is actually how willing we are to listen to the other.

Listening, or lack of it, is the ultimate language barrier no matter where we are from. Listening can keep any person from understanding (even people within our own families).

Without the ability to listen, to really hear someone out with an opposing opinion or viewpoint, different choice of words, unfamiliar language…well… communication is pretty much blocked and no one moves forward.

For true communication to flow, the root language barrier of inability to hear and listen needs to be dug up and tossed aside. At the end of the day, we all must overcome the inability to hear and listen first if we truly want to understand the heart of any matter, no matter how deep or light the topic is. Ability to listen and hear can be the key to understanding, or the ultimate language barrier.

A Close Encounter and 3 Little Reminders

“Watch your step, watch your step,” the voice said to me as I walked through the woods on an evening hike. And then I heard it. The rattling caught my attention first before seeing the rattlesnake’s head, inches from my ankle, posed to strike.

Though many would think this just happens in nature and would write off the experience, I can’t help but dig a little deeper with why almost stepping on a rattlesnake applies to my life in a bigger way.

This is a short post with three lessons learned in the one day of processing. Here goes!

1. The Voice

Some might call the voice I heard… something only a crazy person would hear; Some might call it an inner guide; some might call it a conscience (though typically that term is used for moral choices rather than something that occurs outside of your control); I call it the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guides me daily—beyond my knowing how or why. Sometimes I hear Him clearly, other times not at all.

We are all guided by different voices.

Maybe we hear the lingering voices of our parents when they taught us right from wrong when we were children. The voices of our peers and friends with influence in our lives when we seek advice, stand out strong sometimes. Then there are the voices on ads with a constant drip of “buy this now.”

Voices are all around us, communicating, telling, sharing, influencing. And we need to be careful which voices we pay attention to and why.

I’m grateful for the quiet voice saying to me, “Watch your step,” as I hiked quickly through the woods. I would surely have stepped on the rattler’s tail. That and had I not heard the rattling tail itself. What are you listening for? Who are you listening to? Warnings of protection are there for us to learn and glean from if we’re willing to stop and listen.

2. Independence doesn’t mean I shouldn’t communicate plans

The second lesson of my encounter with the rattle snake is that I was 100% alone in the woods and had not communicated with anyone that I was hiking, nor where I was going. I’m used to the paths and trails around my community in the hills and mountains. The area is small and most people I bump into are healthy, kind hikers and bikers. I typically have SOME cell phone service; I never venture too far on my own, and genuinely feel comfortable and safe when I’m alone in the woods.

But no one knew I was there. And what if something HAD happened?

I take for granted my independent nature and safe surroundings. Until it’s not safe anymore.

I wonder if I had communicated other things through the years, would I have strayed so far down paths I didn’t belong? Would I have been more aware of danger with people and situations?

Maybe I’m the only one who just trusts that things will “turn out alright” as I act independently and go through my days… even if I am, I’m reminded once more to communicate with those around me better than I do. I can be independent with my time and plans, and still be safe with communicating said plans with those around me.

3. Don’t give into fear but, be wise and knowledgeable

This is HUGE. It applies to the rattlesnake and to me. The rattle was the snake’s warning. Thank GOD I heard and listened. But even after freaking out, (I’ll never forget seeing his head poised to strike just as I realized he was under my feet), I went back to the snake for a video and then continued on with my hike. I was jittery the rest of the hike, but didn’t just turn around and give up.

Yes, there are dangers in the world, unexpected ones that catch us by surprise even if we have the BEST communication and plans in place, but we are not to give up.

I’ve seen SO many people give into fear this last year and a half with covid. I’ve seen SO many people dismiss the dangers of covid like it’s nothing. Neither living in fear, nor acting unwise will get anyone very far in life.

We must continue on the path and journey set before us, as best as possible, despite the obstacles. And we must do so with wisdom and knowledge.

The rattlesnake reminded me I don’t know the best protocol with snakebites in the woods at all, let alone poisonous, perhaps deadly ones. So, I need to read up and be more prepared next time. I need to gain knowledge and insight into the woods that I think I know so well. BUT, I didn’t give up on my hike then, and I’m not going to just stop living my life because of potential dangers. I love hiking too much!

Wisdom, while moving forward with courage is where I choose live. And is the best reminder and takeaway with… that darned rattlesnake.

And honestly? I’m glad I bumped into it. I was able to warn others on the path to use caution. I was nervous for one woman with her dog because I wasn’t sure how the dog would react IF it encountered a snake beyond the point where I did.

Through my somewhat scary experience, I could alert and help others. Just like others have done for me in the past with other things in life.

I’m sure there are MANY other takeaways with the rattlesnake… but for now: Listening to the loving, guiding voices in our lives; Communicating with those around you/ not being so independent; and Not giving into fear while using wisdom and knowledge. These are my biggest takeaways to that VERY close encounter.

Have you ever had a close encounter with danger that taught you a lesson? What was it? What did you learn?

{Q&A} Easy Advice With Big Impact

{Q&A} Easy Advice With Big Impact

Asia Major-Waithe is a friend from a long time. She is also a fitness powerhouse and has a wealth of information on how fruits and veggies work for your body. Asia earned her BA in Kinesiology from Penn State University. She currently is a Assistant Director at Power Train Sports and Fitness in State College, PA.

Outside of weight training for herself and others, she loves walking her dog Anchor, hanging out with friends, and eating healthy, delicious food. She also helps to combat human trafficking with work at a non-profit on the side.

Juliandra Jackson, Owner and Founder of Written Jewels

Q: You’re a group fitness instructor and personal trainer– what excites you the most about that career path? What excites me most about my career path is that I get to help people reach their health and fitness goals. I work with athletes of all ages to the older adult client that just wants to be able to play with their grandchildren.

Q: You have a long background in sports and athletics. How has sports added value to your life through the years? My background in sports/athletics has very much informed my career path. In my pre-college years I played soccer, ran track, basketball, volleyball, and played rugby in college. Being part of various teams has taught me discipline , hard work, and the value of team work. I have had to choose to learn from my mistakes when we lost a big game. Being able to pull something good/constructive out of a devastating loss is a hard, but good thing.

Q: Juice Plus+ is an amazing company featuring pure, wholefood nutrition and educates people about nutrition through high end research. You and I have been a part of Juice Plus+ for a long time together. How does nutrition play a role in getting to an improved fitness or general health level? I love Juice Plus, it has been a game changer for me since 2012. It helped me with recovery from my athletic endeavors, helped me get sick less often, sleep better, decrease in allergies, and improved my astigmatism. Nutrition is the “bread and butter” of your body. With a proper diet you can decrease your chances of disease, chronic inflammation, improved mental acuity, sleep, etc. Juice Plus+ can help do this as well because its just dehydrated produce! Anyone can use it, from a child to an 80 year old and everything in between.

With a proper diet you can decrease your chances of disease, chronic inflammation, improved mental acuity, sleep, etc. Juice Plus can help do this as well because its just dehydrated produce!

Asia Major-Waithe

Q: Is there any one thing that you could suggest as a positive step forward if someone doesn’t know much about fitness or nutrition and needs advice with where to start? A positive step forward would be to take some steps! If you aren’t [physically] active [every day] start walking. If you don’t eat real, whole food, start with eating at least one fruit or vegetable daily.

Juice Plus+ has a great saying: do “ One Simple Change”. Small changes over time become big changes and eventually lifestyle changes.

Small changes over time become big changes and eventually lifestyle changes.

Asia Major-Waithe

Q: One EASY question coffee or tea? I like both!

Q: Anything you’d like to add as a word of encouragement to those who want to take basic steps to improve their health for the first time? Remember, your body is your most valuable asset. Once you don’t have full function, are chronically ill, or just aren’t feeling well, you limit your ability to do and be things that you actually enjoy. Take care of your body (that includes the mind and spirit) and it will take care of you. Self-care matters!

Consistency over Perfection

I’ve been caught. In some ways I’ve been unable to move forward with simple business phone calls and conversations through fear of messing up the information. I’ve been worried, questioning what if I confuse people, or the event I’ve been planning, even virtual ones, go wrong…

Perfection has been my trap in the past. Perfection has taken from me time and time again. Fearing over living. Stressing over moving forward.

But who can do anything perfectly? There is no amount of editing, preparation, and makeup that will cover writing mistakes, conversation hiccups, and the blemishes on my skin as I’ve tried to get to the weighty place of perfection.

And it does feel like a weight when you live in that room and place of perfection. There isn’t anything fun or enjoyable about trying to be perfect.

After years of letting go of layers of perfection and performance, I realize only a few things matter at the end of the day. In order to reach my goals, I’ve learned that consistency, dedication, and prayer are all I need. I can apply this to my whole list of goals- sports, nutrition, business, and relationships- it matters to be consistent in my behaviors and practice, improving 1% each day, rather than trying to do anything perfectly. I do what I can and let God handle the rest.

The dedication and discipline come into play while remaining consistent.

This is how once more, I’m reaching my goals slowly but surly with Bellia, my new Written Jewels, high end jewelry brand partnership… and with other business and fitness ventures. As I move forward, others around me will learn to see and know that I’m serious in my goals and plans and correlate them with me. I don’t need to do them perfectly, I just need to do them.

Consistency with determination to whatever you put your mind to, and doing it with excellence is key. And in the process learn to give up the idea of perfection.

My encouragement this Saturday morning is this: Let’s stay dedicated to enjoy the process of moving forward with what’s in our hearts to do. This is a way better alternative to holding onto our goals and dreams with a tight fist of perfection.

Life is good– full of joy, fun, and beauty. Let’s live with these things in mind. Let’s embrace the imperfections of each day and learn to walk in peace with a smile on our face, whatever the outcome.

What about you? Does perfection trip you up? If not, are there other mindsets you need to release?

Whatever those mindsets are, let’s move away from fear and choose to stay dedicated and consistent with every day actions. Let’s reach our goals one day at a time, knowing we’ve done our best and tomorrow is a new day, bringing us one step closer to the results we’re aiming for!

“Put the work in now.”

“Put the work in now. You’re only cheating yourself if you don’t.”

A quote by a friend about three weeks ago in a spin class I haven’t been able to shake. She meant it for biking. She meant it for sweating. She meant it for burning legs and lungs. But I can’t help thinking there was a bigger purpose to those words rattling inside my head these weeks.

Work is good. I love work. I really do. It’s a word that never really scared or felt painful to me. It’s a word that I appreciated. Like I could see the end result of my work before I ever started and that was my motivation to put time, energy, and effort into working toward that THING whatever it was.

Growing up, school was my greatest work and feat, but I always made it through those nine months of school and got to live the achievement with each new grade. Then college and grad school. Both rough, but so good for different reasons. Work in finding and starting some sort of career, still discovering what that means, but I love the journey more each year!

What I really want to talk about though is sports. I’ve always loved sports. My parents were big on getting my siblings and I plugged into sports teams growing up. Kids and adolescents have the potential to learn life changing lessons for the good because of sports. Character, stick-to-itiveness, losing, winning, boundaries (what are they, why are they there?), cheating, teamwork, sometimes being in the spotlight, and sometimes giving that spotlight to others, and lastly showing up to practice even when you don’t want to. When athletes reach a level of skill and honing in on their sports that they can be a leader in their community, or even reaching the highest levels of sports by going pro is a great aim for many kids that carry them through to adulthood. Sports are a powerful part of society and I know I’m a way stronger person because of sports.

I learned to push through physical and mental pain and stress, knowing that if I don’t, I’ll be left behind or won’t reach my goals. And this could be goals in anything! Goals pertaining to relationships, my career, finishing my first triathlon, and being able to run a certain distance, but being able to drop the time.

The key is: part of putting in the work is knowing your “why” as I hear so many coaches talk about. Why the days alone training? Why the early mornings and rigid schedules for your career or athletics? Is it for being the best, so recognition? Is it for more money, so maybe financial security? Is it for staying in good health, so as to live your best quality of life? (Your why should be something meaningful and fulfilling; recognition and fame can be flimsy “whys.” They can be easily taken away. Choose your why wisely.)

My friend/spin instructor said it best that day in the spin room: Put the work in now! You’re only cheating yourself if you don’t.

Once you know your why, then putting in the work to get there is the next step. My friend/spin instructor said it best that day in the spin room: Put the work in now! You’re only cheating yourself if you don’t. In the moment, though I was on my bike with the music blaring and lights dimmed as most spin rooms are, my mind was on relationships. I’ve definitely missed the mark in relationships for not putting in the proper amount of work. Whether for good reasons or not in the moment, the fact is I and I alone was the one cheated for not putting in the work. I’ve missed opportunities by not putting in the work to have hard conversations and mending frayed relationships with friends and co-workers.

I’ve definitely missed the mark in relationships for not putting in the proper amount of work. Whether for good reasons or not in the moment, the fact is I and I alone was the one cheated for not putting in the work. I’ve missed opportunities by not putting in the work to have hard conversations and mending frayed relationships with friends and co-workers.

Putting in the work doesn’t always look like getting sweaty and “swoll” in an obvious way on the outside. It might look like internal exhaustion and setbacks, but still trekking forward because your goals and dreams matter and you’re standing on your “WHY.” Your why puts those hard days in perspective.

Maybe your goal is to be the top sales person where you work or to earn the title of manager, what do you need to learn and do to get there? Maybe it means saying “no” to late night shows so that you can go to bed on time and wake up ready for a new work day refreshed. If you have actual #relationshipgoals as the trending hashtag circled around the world got posted, what work do you need to put into that relationship now, so that you reach the goal? In some cases the “work” might just simply be stating a prayer to the One Above to guide you in your marriage when things seem to be falling apart.

I’ve learned the lesson of not putting in the work when it comes to various facets of life. On the other hand, I’ve seen the fruit of putting in the work, and the latter is WAY more fulfilling.

I’ve learned the lesson of not putting in the work when it comes to various facets of life. On the other hand, I’ve seen the fruit of putting in the work, and the latter is WAY more fulfilling.

I’m not suggesting that work is all that life is about. It’s not. Life is also about enjoying the good days before you and learning to love the people around you well; it’s about practicing the true art of self-care because you are worthy of love yourself.

However, what I do know is that work is good and when it comes to work, the goals and dreams we hold onto (athletic goals, career goals, travel goals, marriage goals, community goals…) won’t magically appear without effort. And as my friend said that day as I huffed and puffed my way through a 26-mile ride in the studio—if you don’t put in the work now, no matter what your goals are, you’re only cheating yourself.