Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘stuttering self-help

It’s almost time, unbelievably, for the annual conference of the National Stuttering Association. The 2019 edition will be in beautiful, warm Fort Lauderdale, Florida, officially beginning Wednesday July 3. I am arriving a day ahead to have time to “ease into” all of the activities. This will be my 14th consecutive conference. My first one was in 2006 and I haven’t missed one since.

I almost thought I would have to miss this year’s conference. I have been weathering a physical illness for months now that still seems to be a mystery in it’s root cause. It’s something fancy called “small fiber polyneuropathy” which basically means chronic pain and inflammation. It began in my ankles and legs and has migrated to my hands, wrists and fingers. It’s been really frustrating because I have worked with a team of medical professionals and no one can seem to find a cause. It’s sort of like stuttering in that there’s no known cause. Lucky for me, right?

I missed a month of work this past fall and since have had a lot of follow up appointments so I can function and manage as well as possible.

But the “shit hit the fan” when I learned that my job has been eliminated effective June 30. Along with loss of income comes loss of health insurance which is a huge concern at the most medically vulnerable time for me.

So I have had to think long and hard about spending money to come to the conference, as quite understandably, I’m a bit panic stricken about losing health care access. The United States has a broken health care system. But you know that already.

Ultimately, I have decided to attend anyway, for my mental health. To miss out on the conference after the rough few months I have had would devastate me. I have been actively involved in the NSA’s workplace stuttering initiative and I want to see out the end of my term on the Board of Directors of the NSA. I still have work to do, with lots of ideas to continuously improve outcomes for people who stutter.

So I need to be at the NSA conference next week. The support and empowerment and the many friends I consider family is way too important for me to miss. I need to see my people, my tribe and ask for help from some of those individuals who might just help me find my next opportunity.

This will be the first year since 2007 that I am NOT doing a workshop. That feels a bit weird but at the same time empowering because now I will have time to attend a lot of workshops that sound intriguing and meet new people. To me, that is always the best part. The people, the connections, the love.

So I will be there next week and I can’t wait. I’ve got things to do and people to see and hug. My chaotic world will still be here when I get back, right where I left it.

Looking forward to seeing you.

PamEpisode 162 features Alexandra D’Agostino who hails from London, Ontario, Canada. Alex is 23 years old and is going into her last year of university where she is pursuing a double major of psychology and anthropology.

Alex is considering a Master’s degree in either music therapy or nursing when she completes her undergraduate work. She loves traveling and music, playing seven instruments and singing in her university choir.

Alex is very actively involved in the stuttering community. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Stuttering Association (CSA) where she is part of the social media team. She runs the CSA’s Facebook page. The CSA is holding their annual One Day conference on October 22, 2016. Both Alex and her mom are running workshops.

Alex has also attended conferences of the National Stuttering Association (NSA) since 2011 when she was 18. Her parents have come with her to the annual NSA conferences. Alex served on the NSA’s Teen Advisory Council for three years.

Listen in as we discuss growing up with a stutter, being bullied and speech therapy experiences. We discuss how cyclical stuttering really is and how it affects our life differently depending on what stage of life we are in. Right now, Alex is happy with her speech and feels she has accepted her stuttering.

This was a wonderful conversation with a wonderful young woman who wants everyone who stutters to know that they are not alone. Music used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter.

 

communitySeth Godin in his book “Tribes” writes:

“A tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. For millions of years, humans have been seeking out tribes, be they religious, ethnic, economic, political, or even musical (think of the Deadheads). It’s our nature.”

People who stutter are connected. That is never more evident than at a stuttering conference.

I just returned from the National Stuttering Association‘s 33rd annual conference, which was held this year in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference was held jointly with the International Stuttering Association‘s World Congress For People Who Stutter, so there were people at the conference from all corners of the world. We came together 825 people strong to celebrate the connection that we have with each other – stuttering.

First timers to the conference and veterans alike all feel an instant connection when they meet someone else who stutters. We feel an incredible sense of community, empathy, freedom and vulnerability. Sharing these feelings and connections together makes us a tribe, at least as far as I’m concerned. And I like being a part of this tribe.

I feel full and whole when I am with other people who stutter. I feel gratitude when other people “get me” without me having to fully explain myself or how I feel about stuttering. A new friend I met at the conference, Dustin, put it quite simply and well: “I’ve never felt more human.”

This was my 11th consecutive conference and I felt the same emotions and sense of family that I did at my very first conference in 2006. I  met a lot of first timers this year, who got to experience the life changing impact that being part of a tribe, or community, has on us. I heard first timers comment that they felt instantly loved and connected upon entering the mix.

And I heard veterans reflect on how amazing it is to catch up with old friends and meet new ones as well. I seized that opportunity – I hung out with friends from previous conferences but also made it a point to meet and interact with as many new people as I could. It was so gratifying to meet people in person that I’d already “met” online in the many stuttering communities, which are also our tribes.

I am at my best when I am with my stuttering community. I feel the sense of belonging and wholeness that I don’t feel in other parts of my life.

The workshops, keynote speakers, and conversations in the hotel lobby and bar, and over dinner, were priceless. But more so was just the general sense of community and being with my tribe. That sense of community was palpable and hung in the air.

It was a great conference. I feel a little “let down” now that I’m home but writing and reflecting always helps me, as does carrying my tribe in my heart.

PamEpisode 147 features Mona Maali, who hails from Austin Texas. Mona was the chapter leader of the Austin National Stuttering Association (NSA) chapter for four years, and was named the NSA Adult Chapter Leader of the Year in 2010. Presently, Mona is a bookseller at an independent book store in Austin.

Mona also compiled, edited and published a book called Turning Points, which features the stories of many people from the Austin NSA chapter.

Listen in as we discuss parts of Mona’s story, where she honestly and courageously shares her journey both with stuttering and ADHD. She has lived with ADHD as long as she has with stuttering and both have had a profound impact on her life.

We discuss whether Mona thinks there is a connection between stuttering and ADHD. Mona shares that both disorders are highly stigmatized and often the individual is “blamed for” having the disorder. Mona didn’t receive help for either stuttering or ADHD while growing up.

The second half of our conversation focuses on how the book, Turning Points, came to be. It was a two year process of gathering other people’s stories and at the same time overcoming and delving deeply into Mona’s own personal journey.

turningpointsMona shares quite eloquently why she didn’t include her own story, and how she feels very hopeful to have published a book. She is very pleased with how it turned out. You can purchase the book at Amazon or at the NSA online store.

Today’s music is credited to ccMixter.

I was interviewed by a friend last Wednesday for an article she wrote about how people who stutter use the internet to form communities. The article is called “The way we talk when we talk about stuttering” and it was published this Sunday January 18 in my friend’s home town of Austin, Texas.

Talking to my friend was a great opportunity for me to reflect on all the different ways I use the internet to form communities.

I have the community that follows this blog, which is still going strong after almost 6 years.

I have the community of women from all over the world that have been part of my podcast “Women Who Stutter: Our Stories” for almost 5 years.

And I have the community that has formed from being a Stutter Social host every other week.

Read the article. It’s great, thorough and mentions me. What more could you ask for? 🙂

PamEpisode 128 features Farah Al Qaissieh who hails from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emerites. Farah works in the strategy department of a government office.

She is also the co-founder of a stuttering support group, called “Stutter With A Smile“, which began in July 2013.

Farah and a friend started the group through Meet-Up.com and advertised through social media and word of mouth. Their first meeting attracted 15 people, and has since averaged 10 people of all ages, including speech language pathologists.

Listen in as we discuss why she wanted to start a support group, the impact it has had on her and members and the group’s goals. We also discuss Farah’s own personal journey with stuttering and what it has meant to her.

This was a great conversation, where we hear a voice from another part of the world. Listen and feel free to leave comments. Feedback is a gift.

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

This is the documentary that appeared in the UK about two weeks ago, featuring several people who participate in the 4 day McGuire program, an intensive stuttering management program.

All of the participants bare their emotions for us during the documentary, so we get a real glimpse as to how complex stuttering really is.

Thank you to Maria McGrath for sending me the YouTube link, so those of us outside the UK could watch the film, which is great.


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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2019. 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 2019.
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