What I learned because I refused to learn

“Dad, stop speaking Spanish. Speak English.”

A few weeks ago, I was hosting some guests from Europe and took them to beautiful Grouse Mountain, in Vancouver.  For those that have never been, it’s stunning.  Imagine being surrounded by panoramic views of the city, the ocean, and mountains.  I highly recommend Grouse Mountain for anyone visiting Vancouver – accessible by gondola OR the Grouse Grind hike (2830 stairs to the top) for those that want an extra reward at the top (the reward being sweaty satisfaction).  Here's a picture for you in case you want to know what the reward of doing 2830 stairs looks like.


Up on the mountain, we ate a delicious lunch. We laughed and enjoyed our rich history of forestry at the Lumberjack show.  We experienced Canada’s wildlife by seeing two grizzly bears up close (they are in a protected area so thankfully not too close!).


As I stood and watched the bears cool off in the water during the hot day, there was a family next to me. The son was about 4 years old and his father said something to him in Spanish.  The little boy was embarrassed and said to his father “dad, stop speaking Spanish!  Speak English!”


I couldn’t help but laugh.  He was so sure of himself. So sure that he was right –that he should be speaking English. It was cuteAdorable. Hilarious.


The father probably didn’t think it was so cute.


I leaned over and told the father to keep doing what he was doing.  That one day his son would appreciate it.


I know this from personal experience.


I was that little boy. Except, well, I was a little girl.  And it wasn’t Spanish for me. It was Croatian and Italian.  But otherwise, those exact words could have come out of my mouth at his age.


When I was growing up, my parents spoke Croatian to me. And I hated it.  It was at a time in my life when I didn’t want to be different. I wanted to be like everyone else.  


I didn’t think learning was cool.  But I didn’t have a choice. Croatian was what we spoke in our house and it wasn’t optional.


My parents also spoke Italian and tried teaching me.  I used to call Italian “the angry language” because it sounded like people were yelling.  (It turns out Italians are just really passionate when they speak and not, in fact, angry).


Regardless, I refused to learn it.  I missed out on learning Italian.  I rejected every opportunity to speak it and hear it.


And I regret that I was as persistent and stubborn in not learning Italian as a child because it sure would have been easier to learn it growing up.


When I grew older, I discovered what I called “the angry language,” most people called “the language of love and romance.”


Go figure.


Today, whenever we go to Italy, I learn as much as I can before I arrive. I practice any word I can. I hang on to every word I hear because I think the language is so beautiful.  I wish I could have learned when I was younger.  With my parents to teach me. With my family to practice with.  And a lifetime to improve. 


As disappointed as I am in myself about Italian, I’m super grateful my parents did NOT listen to me when it came to teaching me Croatian.  I argued learning Croatian but my parents made sure learning Croatian was mandatory. 


I’m proud that I can speak a second language (and another half language if you count the Mandarin I brush up on during trips to China).


I love that I can speak to my relatives in Croatia whenever we visit.  I treasure that I can connect with my family in such a personal way, even though they live across the world and we have grown up so differently. 


Croatian comes in handy when Troy and I travel – I’m always his personal translator in any country with similar languages (Montenegro, Czech Republic and Slovenia, so far).  And I never know when I will hear someone speaking Croatian as I travel around the world. In fact, in February, I met two Croatian gentlemen in Cuba after I heard them speaking it at a restaurant.  It’s incredible for connecting with strangers AND for practical things like asking where the bathroom is.


What I’ve learned through learning Croatian and NOT learning Italian is profound for me.  And it’s true for you too.


·      Being different is not only OK, it’s vital for many of the best things in life.  What you have seen, learned and been through in your life is what makes you special and interesting.  Our distinctive cultures are beautiful and meant to be shared.  Our mix of learning, experiences and culture makes each of us irreplaceable.   And today, I’m proud to be uniquely me!  I want you to be proud to be uniquely you too!


·      As humans, we need to push ourselves into the uncomfortable.  There are always times we want to give up.  Times we feel the learning is pointless, or isn’t worth the hassle.  But our own development is irreplaceable.  The reward always comes after we’ve pushed ourselves enough to deserve the incredible learning.  And sometimes the reward is just knowing we did it and proving we could! 


·      As a parent, as a leader, as a friend, sometimes we have to push others past an uncomfortable point.  I’m so glad my parents encouraged me to learn Croatian. I am impressed they could resist my stubborn nature and am forever appreciative of their tenacity.


Through languages – those I learned and those I didn’t – I’ve discovered that all learning is incredible.


Learning is a gift.  It is sometimes uncomfortable, challenging, and perhaps even embarrassing. 


But no learning is ever wasted or futile.


The next time you have the opportunity to learn, take it.  If you haven’t learned something new in a while, it’s never too late.  (I truly believe I will be able to speak Italian one day, hopefully sooner than later).   And please don’t be afraid to teach.  Teaching takes patience, kindness, understanding, and grace.  Even when you are met with resistance, persist.  You may not know it yet, but you will change lives.


Learn or teach others to:

·      Take beautiful pictures

·      Make incredible cocktails in a bartending class

·      Sing

·      Play piano

·      Swim

·      Manage time better

·      Cook Indian food

·      Appreciate art

·      Understand your finances


Learning and teaching will give you:

·      Confidence

·      Joy

·      Experiences

·      An open mind

·      Friendship

·      New skills

·      A conversation starter when meeting others

·      Growth

·      The “cool factor” – yes learning is cool!


Now it’s your turn. 


Go learn.  Teach.  Connect.  Grow.


Thank you to my parents for teaching me Croatian and for never giving up on me.


And know that one day, I’ll speak to you in “the language of love.”


--Lisa Michaud

Success Coach


PS.   The last “The Spark” 4-week One-on-One Coaching Package is now gone!  But, because you are such loyal readers and I love you (I really do!), I’ve decided to offer one more at the last-chance price of $500 for my readers only.  After this, the price goes up to $600.  If you’re looking to be encouraged, I’m here to support and uplift you.  If you want more learning in your life, you’ll be amazed at how much we can accomplish together in 30 days.  If you’re looking to be pushed and challenged, let’s get you kick-started to next adventure in life! 


Contact me at lisa@lisamichaud.com and mention this post to get the special pricing. I’d love to connect (for free) to see if we’re a good fit and find out what’s next for you on your learning journey.






The only thing you can count on... and it's not taxes or death


"The only thing that is constant is change"



See, there isn’t always a next time.



I learned this, luckily, not through heartbreaking tragedy.



I learned it over some late-night sushi, karaoke and a few too many sake bombs.



There was a group of girls – Jessica, Nicole and I - that would hang out as often as possible. We’d go for sushi, have some wine, chat and laugh until our stomachs hurt.  



That summer, I went to Europe and I was gone for almost a month.  The night I got home, my girlfriends planned a night out to catch up.  



I was exhausted.



Troy and I had been traveling for over 42 hours.  We trained from Berlin to Frankfurt.  Flew from Frankfurt to Vancouver.  We sky-trained, sea-bused, drove, and then flew again from Vancouver to Calgary.  And then Calgary to Fort McMurray. And drove home.



The last thing I wanted to do was go out.  I just wanted to crawl into bed and sleep because I had to work the next morning (needless to say, I like to maximize my vacation time).



Can you relate? 



But a little part of me just felt like I should go.  I should at least say hello to the girls.  So as Troy went to bed, I went out.



It was the best thing I did.



Being around fun people, I woke up. 



I laughed until my stomach hurt. 



I karaoke-ed  until I lost my voice.



I forgot about being tired.



I told them about my trip.  I shared stories of boating with my family in Croatia.  About how delicious the food in Italy was and what an original Bellini from Harry’s Bar in Venice actually was (spoiler alert – it’s not from a slushy machine and it IS life-changing).   I heard about Jessica and Nicole’s summer,  full of camping, working, and taking in the long Northern summer nights.



Nothing made this dinner a special occasion. 



It would have been so easy to stay in bed.



There was nothing monumental about this dinner.



There was no one unusual there or from out of town visiting.



There was no special food on the menu that night.



No happy hour deals.  No “restaurant-closing” events.



I had every reason to avoid going.  



It would have been easy to say “I’ll go next time.”  



I cringe to think about what would have happened if I had said that. 



There’s 2 things I learned that night:


  • I felt so much better as soon as I got to my dinner plans.  The hardest thing is often getting off the couch and out of the house.  I always feel great once I’ve gotten out of my house and I’m on my way!


  • Things change.  Always.  In hindsight, I learned that this was our last dinner together as a sushi girl-gang.  And every moment matters.



Now I promised you this wasn’t tragic and it’s not. 





All of my friends moved away within 6 weeks of that dinner.  None of us knew it at the time.  But within 2 months, we were all in different cities.



That had been our last chance.


I learned that...




There isn’t always a “next time.”   


I’ve had the pleasure of continuing my friendship with both of these incredible women. 

If it’s something that is important,  I need to make time for it. 

We’ve danced in Hawaii for Nicole’s wedding. 

We sipped wine together in Kelowna for my wedding. 

We cooked a gourmet meal in Canmore for Jessica’s stagette.



But we have never again had sushi and sake bombs at our watering hole. 


That simple dinner taught me to embrace the moment because things always change.


So, is there something you have been waiting for the perfect moment to do?  



Are you choosing too often to stay in instead of have fun because you’re too tired?



Do you only make exceptions when you expect things to be unique?  Do you only make the effort when it’s a weekend? A special occasion?  An out-of-town guest?



What are you saying no to because “it’s a school night?”  (Even though you and I know perfectly well you’re not in school.  And it’s just an excuse).  



Take my story and learn from it too.  It’s not incredibly dramatic.  It doesn’t involve heartbreak, or tragedy.


But it is truth.


I want you to seize the moment.  


Because this moment is the only one like it.


And it’s yours for the taking.


Go get it.


 - Lisa

Success Coach 



PS.  The only thing that is constant is change and one of the things that is changing is price.  I’m almost sold-out of “The Spark” package at the introductory price of $500.  I have 1 package left and after that, the price increases to $650.  If you’ve been wondering if this package is for you, get in touch with me today!  Consider this your message to seize the moment (and this great price!) before it disappears.  We’ll schedule a free discovery session and see how coaching can change your life – starting now!