Make Room For The Stuttering

Serendipity

Posted on: March 30, 2011

Sometimes you have one of those experiences where everything that happens is inter-connected and you just know that you were meant to be there. I had one of those experiences this past Friday evening. It probably was one of those “you had to be there moments”, but I think you will get how moving this was to me.

My friend Lisa takes a writing class, where the students learn how to sift through the moments of life, find ones with purpose and illustrate them in a way everyone can relate to. Lisa told me that the class is the best thing she has ever done for herself.

She wrote a brilliant piece about stuttering. The movie “The King’s Speech”  inspired her to put voice to her feelings that rocketed to the surface, and she wanted others to learn how different her reality is from Hollywood’s version. Her piece was so good it was published in our local newspaper.

Lisa was then asked to read her piece at a writer’s series held at our Arts Center, in conjunction with our community’s monthly “Troy Night Out”. She was torn about doing it, as her dad was having surgery that same day and she felt she needed to be with him. She also rarely puts her stuttering “out there”.

But it turns out dad told her, “don’t you dare cancel”, so she didn’t and accepted the challenge. She told me about it, and I wanted to be there. I suggested that I could record it, so if she wanted, she could watch it with her dad the next day.

Lisa said something like, “yeah, I probably won’t even watch it myself “, but said I could record if I wanted to. We agreed I would set the video settings to “private” and I would send her the link.

Several writing students were reading that night, so I sat back to listen and enjoy. I was also enjoying the teacher introduce each writer and talk a little about writing and her style. All of a sudden, this woman said something that sounded so familiar to me.

I thought, “where did I hear that before?’ And suddenly I realized I was listening to the author of a book I had just finished reading two weeks ago. How ironic! It was a book about writing, and I remember reading in the preface that this woman has taught a sold-out writing class for 10 years. I had no idea that this was who I would meet later in the evening.

Before it was Lisa’s turn to read her piece, I had double-checked that it was still OK to record. And I went up to the teacher and mentioned I was going to record and asked if it was OK. She said it was fine, as long as Lisa agreed, and she thanked me for asking.

As she was introduced, I quietly readied my Flip recorder and pressed record as Lisa began. She explained why she wrote this essay, and then read her beautiful piece, in her own distinct voice. Within seconds, I was so moved and overcome with joy and pride for my friend. I made no effort at all to wipe away the tears as they openly rolled down my cheeks.

When she finished, the audience applauded and I gently pressed stop on the recorder. Her presence and courageous voice lingered in the room.

Afterwards, I met some of Lisa’s friends, but scooted out pretty quickly. This was her moment. As I headed out, the teacher was down by the door, chatting with some folks. I hesitated, then decided to wait and see if I could speak with her a moment.

I introduced myself as a friend of Lisa’s and reminded her I was the one who had asked permission to record. I shared with her that I realized I had just read her book, and what a coincidence that was. I told her I was a blogger, and she said she was too.

She told me about The Sister Project, which celebrates and highlights unique ventures or stories of women. I told her about the podcast, “Women Who Stutter: Our Stories” and she asked me to email my information, as she would love to write a piece about my work and link it to her blog.

When I got home, I uploaded and saved Lisa’s reading.  I also watched it twice more, and still welled up with tears of pride for my friend. I emailed her the private link, encouraging her to share it with her dad.

The next day, Lisa emailed me, saying she had watched it and was happy with how it came out. She had also shared it with her mom, who also cried, tears of pride. I told her about the coincidence of having read her teacher’s book, and she told me that people had come up to her and congratulated her for putting a voice to her written words.

She also shared that a man who had been sitting right behind me asked her if I was the same person who had done a workshop at the library last month. Lisa told him, yes, that was me. The man told her he stuttered and had done therapy and largely has it under control. But he said he applauded “people like us” (unicorns as Lisa calls us) who stutter openly and let the world see us as we are.

What a night of coincidences! I was meant to be there. It was profoundly meaningful for me to witness my friend take a huge leap out of her comfort zone. And that meaning became crystal clear when she emailed me and asked me to “unlock” the link – that she was going to post it her self on her own personal blog. Sweet! I was honored to be there!

You can see Lisa’s Reading here. Bravo Lisa! I am proud to know you!

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8 Responses to "Serendipity"

Great Post, Pam. It’s amazing when people first take that risk to “come out” as someone who stutters. It’s so empowering. Good stuff!

Wow. You are so right… you were MEANT to be there. Some things you just can’t deny.

Great story Pam. You help people who stutter on so many levels, it’s beautiful! Your own courage seeps into other’s lives daily. What great courage it took your friend to read her story aloud! I believe things happen for a reason and that was one of those nights for you!

Hi Pam,

WOW. That’s all I have to say on this.

Your theme about serendipity and stating that this was one of those moments where you were meant to be there really makes so much sens. For the longest time we have often heard the expression “Well, things happen for a reason” applied to so many things, but yet we really do not understand it until it happens. I’ve spoken in my blog that I really believe as a person who stutters that life begins at the lowest point, like with me missing out on a job because of my speech. If you remember the movie “Casablanca” and that famous line, “If you don’t get on that plane, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today, not tomorrow, but someday.” I was meant to get on that plane to Long Beach. And I have never regretted it since.

Keep on doing this! See you in Texas.

-SK.

Pam,
I recently came across your blog while trying to find and connect with other people who stutter. I love your blog and podcast and how you incorporate so many women who stutter. Reading your blog is really inspiring for me because in the last 6 months I have become open and honest about my stutter. I am also trying to teach others about stuttering and what it is like. You tackle so many topics that “hit home” and I appreciate your honesty and willingness to write about those various topics.

Lisa,
I love that you not only wrote about stuttering but you educated others about it through your speech, newspaper article, and now your video online. You are such a courageous woman. Please continue to educate others! 🙂

It’s amazing how things and events happen for a reason. This was definitely an event that you both were meant to be at– especially to educate people about stuttering!!! I don’t know if you all do this but I enjoy looking back and reflecting on moments and steps that have led me to where I am today. I think this event will be one of those moments you will reflect on six months from now and connect it to where you will be.

Thank you again for writing, blogging, and podcasting. You both are truly making a positive impact in so many peoples’ lives–especially mine!

Hey Marley, so glad you checked in. Where are you from? What has helped you decide to be more open and honest lately? It is so important to share. When we do, we almost always learn that we have touched someone else. Welcome to this blog, hope you stay and contribute often.
How are you “teaching” others about what it is like to stutter? Curious . . . . . please share that . . . . .

Hey Pam,

I am from Virginia. About a year ago I began the process of looking into different routes of speech therapy. Six months ago I attended HCRI (Hollins Communications Research Institute) in Roanoke, Virginia and that was really the point when I started being more open about my stutter. I was a covert stutterer although I still am at times. I am a lot more open about it and actually enjoy answering people’s questions. It has been a really awesome journey to get to where I am today.

I gave a presentation on stuttering to two of my college classes a couple of years ago (so tough but so amazing). I have also been talking with people who ask me about stuttering since “The King’s Speech” came out. The movie has been a good conversation starter, which at times has led into good discussions and an opportunity to educate people. Any chance I get now I try to tell my story and teach others.

-Marley

[…] A few weeks ago I had a chance encounter with someone who is a blogger and writer. I experienced one of those times when a whole series of events occurred that was absolutely meant to happen. I wrote about it here! […]

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