Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘National Stuttering Association

PamEpisode 198 features Alecia Stewart-Myers who originally hails from Kingston, Jamaica. Alecia presently lives in Connecticut and commutes to her full time job as a middle school math teacher in NYC. She also works part-time as a consultant for Mary Kay Cosmetics.

Alecia and I met at her first National Stuttering Association conference in Baltimore in 2015. She’s been hooked ever since!

Listen in as Alecia talks about educating others about stuttering but always trying to give people the benefit of the doubt. We also talk about the intentional choices she has made to pursue her dreams. As Alecia says, “It’s more than stuttering. It’s who do you want to become?”

This was a great conversation and so inspiring. Be sure to listen in!

The music clip used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter.

PamEpisode 196 features Yuka Fukuoka who hails from Tokyo, Japan and presently resides in NYC in the United States. Yuka is a professional designer by day and on weekends she works on app development to benefit people who stutter and increase awareness of stuttering for people who don’t.

Listen in to this great conversation and hear what Yuka is up to. While in Japan, she worked on a “wearable device” that allows fluent people to experience what it actually feels like to stutter. And here in the USA, she is developing a prototype app for people who stutter to practice speaking situations that also create anxiety for stutterers.

We talk about workplace stuttering, preparing for job interviews, whether to disclose stuttering or not, and using your stuttering as a strength. We also discuss the importance of changing mindsets about stuttering and breaking down biases.

Finally, we give a shout out to SMBC, a financial powerhouse with a location in NYC, who offered mock interviews to people who stutter. High level managers served as interviewers and talked about how helpful it was to openly talk about stuttering at work. Yuka attended this event and found it extremely helpful.

The music used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter.

 

I have been reflecting a lot on the value of being authentic in all of my places. I have been reading and boning up on being courageous at work.

I came across this great Forbes article called The Importance of Being Courageously Vulnerable at Work. 

The author, Patrick Williams, a leadership coach, asks, “Is there a gap between who you say you are and how you reveal yourself in the world of work?”

We all have things we hide due to shame, embarrassment, guilt or even unexpressed dreams we may have given up on, and we often put those in our shadow. Williams challenges us to acknowledge and own your (shadow) or it will own you.

This really resonated with me. I try to be authentic at work, as I truly believe it invites others to do so as well and then stronger relationships are forged.

I have been actively involved in the National Stuttering Association for about 12 years now. I am proud to share that a workplace advocacy initiative that I’ve been championing for over a year has launched. We Stutter @ Work is ambitious, new and requires that people who stutter be willing to be open and stutter nakedly at work.

I do that. I stutter openly and nakedly at work. It’s OK. People are listening to what I say and not how I say it. Occasionally I might get unsupportive remarks or reactions when I stutter on the phone. I usually say something, like “Oh, I stutter. No biggie, right?” I don’t apologize. I used to, years ago. I never do today. There’s nothing to apologize for.

The workplace is no longer the 9 to 5 we used to view it as. It’s at least one-third of our daily life. We are “human beings”, not “human doings.” More of our “being” needs to be present in the workplace, and we should encourage others to do so as well. It makes workplaces better, stronger and helps people feel like they belong. Right?

What do you think? Have you had any experiences where you’ve been courageously vulnerable at work? How did it make you feel? Do you and can you stutter openly at work?

PamEpisode 195 features return guest Aileen Quattlander, who is presently living in Washington, DC. Aileen was a guest way back in 2010, when she was a senior in high school and looking forward to heading off to college the next year. It was such fun catching up with Aileen and hearing her perspectives on where her life has gone since she was 17.

Aileen works in accounting in a real estate investment firm. She enjoys being a part of the stuttering community she has found with the DC Chapter of the NSA. She started out in the stuttering community with FRIENDS and now enjoys being part of and contributing to both life changing organizations.

Listen in as we discuss how important it has been for Aileen to seize opportunities and not let stuttering limit her the way she felt it did when younger. As an adult, she really wanted to do a reset on how much stuttering had impacted a lot of her decisions.

We talk about disclosure, handling negative reactions from listeners, and stuttering in the workplace. Aileen talks about job interviews and what she learned from being asked to lead a new hire orientation training at work.

We wrap up talking about how being vulnerable really invites others to share more about themselves, thus building meaningful relationships.

I loved this conversation with Aileen. It was so meaningful to catch up with someone who greatly inspired me when I first met her and continues to do so today with her courageous vulnerability.

PamEpisode 194 features Adrienne who hails from San Jose, California. Adrienne is a 4th grade teacher who loves traveling, karaoke and yoga.

Adrienne discovered her passion for teaching after having some amazing experiences all over the world. She has taught English in Jordan, Spain and Korea. Empowered by her success, Adrienne enrolled in a graduate program to earn her Master’s degree in education.

Stuttering was challenging for Adrienne in grad school and she says that a one year program took three years to complete. She talks about the misunderstandings and bias she discovered that exist about stuttering.

Listen in as we discuss disclosure, securing accommodations in college and her first experience at a NSA conference. Adrienne plans to attend her second conference this year and wants to help out with first timers.

The music used in today’s episode is credited to DanoSongs.

PamEpisode 193 features Hannah Dunn, who hails from San Antonio, Texas. Hannah works as a Senior Lead Supervisor at Marriott Reservations Center, which is a call center. It is so inspiring to chat with someone who stutters who intentionally works at a call center answering phones all day and likes it and is good at it.

Hannah is very interested in getting the National Stuttering Association San Antonio Chapter back up and running to a thriving level. After attending her first NSA Conference this past July in Chicago, Hannah feels empowered and confident to lead the chapter back to greatness.

Listen in as we chat about self advocacy, proving to others that “she can” when she’s been told that “she can’t” and how she doesn’t run away from things, but rather chases after them.

Hannah talks about how wonderful it was to meet in person people she had only met online. She gives shout outs to Steven Kaufman, the girls from the San Diego Chapter who had a room adjoining hers and Doug Scott, who introduced her to Rosie Brown before the conference so she had a connection and got questions answered.

It was so much fun chatting with Hannah and getting to know her. We’re going to see big things from Hannah over the years.

Music used in today’s episode is credited to Bensound.

PamEpisode 191 features Mara Ormond, who hails from eastern  Maryland, where she, her husband and 5 year old daughter Lula have been for about a year. Mara has moved around a lot, but identifies DC as “where she’s from.” Mara is a leadership coach, helping people with workplace and life issues. She’s also an avid swimmer.

In this episode, we focus on the many new situations in Mara’s life and how she has to stay on top of making room for stuttering in her life.

We explore how harmful hiding stuttering can be to one’s self image and psyche, and even physical health, as Mara notes. We also talk about how spending so much time hiding hinders development on all counts – career, emotional and social.

When you don’t go through regular adolescent and young adult experiences, like active socializing and making friends, because of fear of stuttering, you miss out on becoming self actualized. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we’ve missed those opportunities until well into adulthood.

And we spend time dissecting shame – probably one of the core issues with stuttering.  Mara shares an important “aha” moment – when she realized that “everyone feels shame.”

Listen in a to great conversation that once again dives deep into how complex stuttering really is. It was wonderful getting to know Mara better through this conversation.

Music used in today’s episode is credited to Bensound.

He-StuttersEpisode 24 of this occasional male series features David Alpuche, who originally hails from Mexico City, but presently makes his home in Dallas, Texas. David is a self-employed photographer and also created a company where he sells photography inspired yoga mats.

David shares that someone like him with a stutter and who is really creative would do better here in the US than in Mexico and he has found that to be true. He shares that years of experience and good therapy helped him grow into the person he wanted to be.

David got into the creative arts because of stuttering itself – he found drawing and photography a way to “say things without having to say things.”

We talk about the importance of community and how growing up, like so many of us, he felt he was the only one who stutters. When he found the NSA and went to his first conference, he was “blown away.” And now he attends the oldest NSA Chapter in the US, Dallas, which is 36 years old.

David realized that the thing that isolated him all his life was actually the secret key to a world wide community of really cool and interesting people.

The music used in today’s show is credited to Bensound.

 

PamEpisode 188 features Sarah Albannay, who hails from Kuwait, but is presently living in Pocatello, Idaho while attending college. Sarah has been in the USA for four years now, and is studying Political Science. She says she’ll know what to do with her degree when she’s done.

We had a really interesting conversation. Sarah finds it so much easier to stutter here in the USA. Americans are so much more open about personal issues than she finds people to be at home in Kuwait. She feels quite comfortable advertising that she stutters with classmates and professors here. Sarah says she was a totally different person in Kuwait. (You’ll have to listen to hear her explain that!)

Sarah feels there is so much support here in the USA. She’s found the NSA and good stuttering therapy which has included participation in “intensive stuttering programs.”  Sarah wanted to be sure she gave a shout out to Dan Hudock, the professor at Idaho State University that has really helped her see stuttering differently.

See below for a one minute look at what Professor Hudock is doing at ISU. I also included a fantastic Tedx Talk that Dan did about stuttering. Couldn’t resist – had to include it.

 

 

The music used in todays episode is credited as always to ccMixter.

 

 

 

 

I was instrumental in getting these two videos made for the National Stuttering Association and figured, what the heck, let me share them here. They might help you. They might help employers. They might help a lot of people. So, go ahead and share.

And I’m actually in both of them. Which is kind of cool. So are my friends Katie and Derek. Even cooler. We were all willing to be completely vulnerable.

The first video is something really short you can use to educate your employer before you’re hired – during the job interview stage – and after you’re hired too, to help talk about stuttering at work. Because we know that can be a challenge.

The second video is also really short and to the point. We who stutter get really stressed about job interviews. Preparation can make all the difference. Do some research. You’d be surprised how many people go into a job interview and it’s obvious they know nothing about the company they hope will hire them. Do that research. Show you are interested.

And consider disclosing that you stutter. It will make it so much easier for you and the interviewer. You will feel more at ease and won’t be obsessively thinking what will happen when you stutter. By telling the interviewer upfront that you stutter, you remove that anxiety you have and let the listener know exactly what to expect. It just makes the speaking encounter so much easier and then you can be your cool, calm collected best self at the interview.

 

 

PamEpisode 184 features Madeline Wahl, who presently lives in New York City. She moved to NY from Florida five years ago to take a job with the Huff Post. She currently works as an opinion editor with the Huff, has always loved writing and writes a lot in her spare time. Madeline also greatly enjoys solo traveling and talks about how your “travel self” is your “true self.”

I first “discovered” Madeline when I read a few of her articles about stuttering that were published on the Huff Post. I remember being so thrilled to see pieces about stuttering in a popular site that I read and I really wanted to see if I could get Madeline to come on here as a guest. I emailed her, but didn’t hear back. So, I honestly forgot about it!

Then, shortly before this year’s NSA conference I  heard from Madeline. She had archived my email and reached out, saying she’d love to be a guest if I’d still have her. Of course, I was thrilled to hear from her. We started corresponding through email, as Madeline was planning to attend that NSA conference for the first time. I offered her some tips and suggestions and we vowed to meet in person at the conference.

Well, we did, very briefly. Then we followed up about two weeks later, and here’s this conversation we had. Listen in as Madeline shares what that first NSA conference was like, some really deep thoughts about the value and importance of words, and the deep emotions that get stirred up when being surrounded by other people who stutter.

We also talk about intense listening, patience being mindful, and the true spectrum of stuttering that exists within the stuttering community.

I was grateful for this “deep dive” conversation and hope you find it as compelling as I did.

Here are links to several of the articles that Madeline mentions in this episode.

What It Actually Feels Like To Stutter

Why I’m Thankful That I Stutter

As always, the podcast safe music used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter.

PamEpisode 183 features Emily Anderson, who hails from Anchorage, Alaska. Emily is 27 years old and just recently started the first ever NSA Family Chapter in Alaska.

Emily works as an environmental technician doing water sampling and monitors contaminated water sites. She also does outreach with native Alaskan tribes. Emily also has a second job as a server at a steak house restaurant.

Emily shared an interesting phenomena about her stuttering. It actually works to her advantage when speaking one on one with tribal residents. In Alaska, it is custom and tradition to speak slowly and take long pauses, so it works perfectly with her stuttering!

Listen in as we discuss Emily’s impressions of her first NSA conference. She shares that she thought it wasn’t going to live up to the hype she had heard about. Well, she was proven wrong! She talks about the comfort she found being in a judgement free zone where other people had the same weird insecurities she has had.

We talk about workplace stuttering and how she manages in both jobs she has that require a lot of communication. Her favorite workshop was the one on stuttering in the workplace, where she heard the stories of people who have not let stuttering limit their career goals. We even talk about how cool it was that in that workshop she met a real rocket scientist who happens to stutter.

And we talk about the fact that Emily’s mom has been a SLP for 40 years and was the perfect role model for Emily growing up. Mom is so proud that Emily decided to go to her first conference and is actually thinking about going herself next year.

Emily has written a couple of articles about stuttering for The Mighty. Here is the links to two of them.

Finding My Confidence Working In Food Service With A Stutter

When Stuttering Makes Me An Extrovert Stuck In An Introvert’s Body

The music used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter.

 

 

I promised two weeks ago that I would offer a short summary of a few of the powerful, especially meaningful workshops that I attended just for myself at the recent National Stuttering Association conference in Chicago. I say “just for myself” because as usual I did find myself busy at the conference helping lead a few workshops and helping with other things. It took me two weeks to write this because I’ve been busy and I needed time to process how wonderful some of these workshops were.

So it was important to me to attend a few sessions that I was just a participant and could enjoy the experience facilitated by others. One such workshop that I found profoundly important was “Writers Who Stutter” which was presented last year and again for the second time this year. I couldn’t attend last year because of a schedule conflict so I was excited and intrigued to see what they might offer.

“They” were people who stutter who all happen to be women and immensely enjoy writing. In fact, they started a “writers who stutter” Facebook group within the last year and encourage others to participate and share some of their pieces with each other. These women – Elizabeth, Jaymie and Chani – all express themselves exquisitely in writing and in voice too. They have all been guests on my podcast and are great storytellers.

Since I didn’t get to attend last year, I wasn’t sure what to expect. And it was a 9:00am workshop, which honestly I choose to skip most of them in favor of squeezing in some needed rest,  which you don’t get much of at these conferences, so you take it when you can get it.

As preparation for this year’s version of the writer’s who stutter workshop, the facilitators offered a warm-up writing exercise through the Facebook group. They offered a “writing prompt” used from last year and asked participants to write a six word story about stuttering. I was thinking, “yeah, right, like that’s possible.”

But I thought about it and offered my thought to the group. “Stuttering is about me, not you.” The facilitators commented right away that they loved it and even asked permission to use it in some other way. So, I was hooked and knew I’d find time to go to that workshop in Chicago. Even if it was at 9:00am.

I’m so glad I did! Elizabeth, Jaymie and Chani talked about the important of our writing voice and how it becomes part of our identity. I could so completely relate with that. For years, because I stutter, I often found the only way I could express myself was through writing. I believed the voices in my head that said my voice wasn’t worthy of being heard.

But with writing, the words would flow, fluently and fluidly. I remember in the early days of this blog, I recall writing things but don’t recall the actual process of typing them. The words just sort of magically flew from my fingertips and often just appeared on the screen and I’d stare incredulously and wonder how did those words appear. And sometimes those pieces were my best writing and didn’t need any editing. It was amazing to me to see that unfold time and time again.

It still happens once in a while. Like right now, I am not thinking any thoughts as I type this, but somehow the words are coming together, so effortlessly and fluidly filling the page,.

And I think that was the point of the writers who stutter workshop, at least to me anyway. It may not have been the facilitator’s main premise at all. But my take-away was that we should respect the identity we create as writers and go ahead and let stuttering inform our stories and what we choose to write about. Stuttering experiences provide rich, compelling stories that belong to us, the community that stutters. And we need to have a space to do just that – write and create and share and get feedback and write some more.

This workshop gave attendees a chance to break into small groups and write a bit on a prompt that we were given to get us started. Then we could share within our group if we wanted. Or not. Maybe we just wanted to soak in the experience and keep our musings private. Then the last fifteen minutes or so of the workshop brought the smaller groups back together to share out and process as a whole and see the beauty of our creations, our identities and the power of our voices – both in writing and voiced out loud.

How lucky I was to attend that workshop. It reminded me how many of us who stutter have often gravitated to pen and paper to express ourselves. Because that often felt better, right and eloquent like we think we aren’t. But we’re wrong! We are eloquent both in writing and in voice. When the two collide and we’re given a space to explore that, great things happen.

Thank you Elizabeth, Jaymie and Chani for staying true to you and sustaining your group for a year and giving writers who stutter a place to realize our words are worthy, no matter which way we choose to express them.

I look forward to next year’s version of this workshop.

PamEpisode 182 features Dana Koprowski, who hails from just outside of Chicago, Illinois. Dana has a background in early childhood education and presently works as a nanny for a family and their two children.

We talk about career choices, interacting with fluent people about stuttering and how for a long time, Dana didn’t really care for it – stuttering – too much.

Then things changed. In 2014, Dana Googled stuttering and came across Stutter Social. Suddenly, she was in a video chat room for the first time with other people who stutter and that changed her life.

She took a break from stuttering for a while and then rejoined the Stutter Social hangouts, where she heard people talking about the NSA annual conference. And learned it happened to be in Chicago, where she lived. Despite coming up with every excuse in the book why she couldn’t go, Dana did go to her first conference and this is her story. Told from a woman who told me she didn’t have a story.

Listen in. It’s amazing. Leave feedback. Decide for yourself if attending a stuttering conference is worth it.

The music used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter.

Oh, and here’s Dana’s video she posted on YouTube that she mentions in the episode.

PamEpisode 181 features 21-year-old Mikaela, who hails from San Diego, California, after having moved there on a whim six months ago from Vermont. Mikaela works in a float position with the County of San Diego, which means every 3 months she gets reassigned and gets to manage being open with new people about stuttering.

Mikaela’s real passion is EMS and Firefighting. Once her Vermont certification transfers to California, Mikaela plans to work in this field, which of course is a highly demanding communication field. We talk about how she manages and how lucky she’s been to have had “stutter friendly workplaces.”

This episode is really about how Mikaela found support and what that means. She met up with people who stutter on Stutter Social and then when she decided to move to California, she was referred to the local NSA Chapter. It was the first time Mikaela had met someone in person who also stutters.

Mikaela actually immersed herself in stuttering support over 6 months and found herself at the recent annual NSA conference as a first timer. Her experiences and insights are incredible. It’s also wonderful to hear what it was like to meet people in person that she’d only met online.

If you’ve been unsure about how meeting other people who stutter can change your life, listen to this conversation. It’s truly a testament to how “finding your tribe” can be a game changer.

The music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

 


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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2020. 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 2020.
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