Make Room For The Stuttering

PamEpisode 123 features Carmen Shapiro, who hails from Downington, PA. Carmen is originally from Spain and has been in the US for 23 years.

She works as a project manager in an IT department of a pharmaceutical company. She is also the new leader of the Philadelphia NSA Chapter, since November 2013.

Carmen recently returned from her first conference of the National Stuttering Association and we discuss her experience and reflections. She shares how welcome she felt at the conference and how that made her feel more confident about introducing herself to so many people.

We also spend a good amount of time discussing disclosure and why it can be so hard to do. Carmen opens up to her fears and we talk about some different ways to disclose.

This was a wonderful and insightful conversation. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions or just let Carmen know what a great job she did.

The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

No words needed for this one – watch this truly inspiring video of a dad talking about what he learned at the recent National Stuttering Association 2014 conference.

PamEpisode 122 features Yousra Ouchen, a 25 year old who hails from Casablanca, Morocco. Yousra works as a financial consultant in an accounting company. She enjoys playing the guitar, drawing and writing.

Yousra is a founder of the new Moroccan Association of Stammering, which is on its way to becoming official. The association currently has 15 members.

Listen in as Yousra discusses what it’s been like getting the association off the ground and the work it involves.

We also discuss the perception of stuttering in Morocco, and how people who stutter are seen as not having confidence. Yousra also shares her speech therapy experiences, and how talking about stuttering helps her to feel better about it.

This was a great conversation with a strong young woman who is determined to help people who stutter in her country. Feel free to leave comments or questions for Yousra. The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

 

One of the best workshops I attended at the recent NSA conference was called Creative Movement and Storytelling for People Who Stutter. The workshop gave people a chance to see how well their bodies can work, while also helping them express their stories.

It gave people the opportunity to express themselves in different ways than just our verbal communication.

The session was facilitated by Barry Yeoman, an award-winning journalist who has studied dance and story telling.

The workshop included ice-breaking exercises, improvisations and simple movements. By the end, we all worked together to create a more complex piece that we all built together as a group.

I had marked this workshop as one I really wanted to attend, but also told a friend I was nervous about it, because I feel I have two left feet and I am not very good at creative, expressive movement. It takes me way out of my comfort zone to do things like this.

In the end, I was very glad I attended. It was a beautiful, simple, fun way to let go and be creative and not have to worry at all about our speech.

Below is a brief clip of what some of the free expression looked like.

 

 

Pam

Episode 121 features Natalia Kissamitaki who hails from Athens, Greece. Natalia is a graphic artist and she describes herself as very communicative and social. She is also a newlywed, having just married in January.

Natalia is one of the founders of the Greek Initiative for People Who Stutter. The idea for this initiative was planted several years ago, and was officially licensed by the Greek government one month ago. Check out their Facebook page here.

It is named the Greek “Initiative” because Natalia and others took initiative to advocate for an individual who was fired from his job as a police officer because of stuttering. They won, and the individual got his job back.

Listen in as we discuss workplace stuttering, the positive side of stuttering and learning to respect and accept differences.

We also discuss how the Initiative works with individuals and points them in the direction of the Greek Union of Speech Therapists.

This was a great conversation with a woman who does not let stuttering stand in her way. The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

NSA DCI just returned from the NSA annual conference in Washington DC. This year’s conference had a record number of 975 attendees, one third of whom were first timers.

I met a lot of new people and connected with friends that I really only see once a year.

It was a great experience. I co-facilitated several workshops and attended several that pushed me out of my comfort zone.

The best workshop I was part of was the First Timer’s Orientation. I co-facilitated this with friends Landon and Lott. Over 200 people came to the workshop, where they had the chance to meet and interact with each other. I met some of the people I had called in advance of the conference.

Some of my favorite moments:

16 year old Jeremy came and introduced himself and his parents to me. Jeremy told me that he and his speech therapist have used articles from this blog and some of my YouTube videos in his speech therapy sessions. Jeremy was thrilled to be at his first conference and had set as a goal for himself to speak at an Open Mic session. He came and told me about it afterward and said it was a success and that he felt great.

Rehan, who I corresponded with pre-conference, came up to me and said he was glad I had been so honest in my introduction during the workshop by saying that it can be overwhelming and scary to introduce yourself to strangers. He acknowledged that he was feeling nervous about doing that, as he has never introduced himself to so many people.  After the conference, he told me he had met many people and was grateful for the opportunity to stay in touch during the year. He also said in an email:

As per my thoughts … well, wow. It was way beyond my expectations. I didn’t really know what to think going in to it, but when I got there and [tried] to introduce myself only to have people patiently wait for my name, I knew I was in the right place. I was definitely apprehensive about continuing to go up to people and introduce myself, but everybody was just so friendly about it! I stuttered, they stuttered, and it was fine!

Natalie came up to me one of the first evenings and introduced herself to me. We had talked on the phone before the conference and she recognized me from some YouTube videos.  Natalie had traveled to the conference alone from Maine and was nervous about what to expect. Here is an excerpt from an email Natalie sent me the day after the conference:

Pam, you are a lovely person and I want to thank-you for all that you did for me at the conference.  You may not think it was much, but simply being kind, talking to me when I first got there, inviting me out with you and others, calling me before the conference and just being around really made me feel at ease.  You are an asset to the stuttering community.

I also met Rohan, who was one of our keynote speakers. I had the opportunity to speak to him before the conference as well, so it was pretty cool to meet up and talk a bit during the conference and then hear his amazing speech about “making things happen” and “no excuses.”

There were so many other amazing moments, but these are an example of how little moments can easily add up to a really big deal.

 

 

 

I’ve been working on a talk I will give at a workshop this week at the annual NSA conference. It’s about being memorable and using what makes us different as an asset.

I’ve talked about this before on this blog – the idea that stuttering makes us memorable. My talk for the workshop centers on the premise that if we have something that makes us stand out, why not use it to our advantage?

Stuttering is unique. It applies to only 1% of the population. It makes us different. We stand out because of it. Is that a bad thing?

I remember when my sister told me about six years ago that she was jealous that I stuttered and she didn’t. I had to really wrap my brain around that at the time.

But it makes sense. In today’s world, we need to be remembered in order to get ahead.

Why not use what makes us unique? What do you think?

 

 

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Same protection applies to the podcasts linked to this blog, "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories" and "He Stutters: She Asks Him." Please give credit to owner/author Pamela A Mertz 2014.
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