Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘women who stutter

whs logo smallEpisode 255 features Kathryn Paprocki, who hails from Denver, Colorado. Kathryn is a wife, mom and professional fighter. She and her husband own a gym called DCO MMA & Fitness. She is a boxer and kickboxer, but her ultimate passion and soul lies with MMA.

Kathryn shares that training and fighting helped her manage anxiety and build confidence. Finding out who she was, and what she was capable of, was powerful. She was featured on an episode of the ESPN reality show The Ultimate Fighter last year, and it was important to her to not have her stuttering hidden.

Listen in as we chat about going through painful phases of wanting to stop talking, building coping skills, “L.O.V.E. – Letting Others Voluntarily Evolve” and the joy of finding the National Stuttering Association and attending her first conference.

Our wonderful conversation wraps up with discussing how important it is to have self-compassion.

whs logo smallEpisode 254 features Dr. Tracey Wallace, who hails from Brandywine, Maryland. Tracey is an educational audiologist for the Washington, DC public schools. She also works with her husband as an entrepreneur, with an event venue that they are growing.

Tracey spent more than half of her life managing the stress of trying to survive as a covert stutterer. She describes walking into stuttering moments, panicking, and falling apart.

One such moment led to a “rock bottom” experience as an audiologist. That lead to her finding and attending her first NSA chapter meeting (then known as the NSP) and later meeting a SLP who offered a non-traditional form of speech therapy, known as avoidance reduction. Listen as Tracey describes how this changed her life.

We also discuss stuttering and deafness, ASL, the costs of concealment, and “false fluency.”

Thank you Tracey for such a meaningful conversation.

whs logo smallEpisode 253 features Elizabeth Escobar, who hails from Germantown, Maryland. Elizabeth is a busy mom and student, who speaks and stutters in three languages: English, Spanish and Arabic.

Elizabeth is studying International Studies with a minor in Information Technology. She likes advocacy work and understanding the socioeconomic statuses of other countries.

Listen in as we delve into adaptability, resilience and evolution. Elizabeth is learning how to take her power back. She doesn’t want to feel bad anymore about stuttering and wants to release herself from bad memories. She doesn’t want to go by her nicknames anymore – she wants to be vociferous and loudly proclaim “My Name is Elizabeth.”

We also talk about understanding self-sabotage and the strength it takes to enter into therapy.

Remember Elizabeth’s name. She’s going places!

whs logo smallEpisode 252 features Callie Brazil, who hails from Irvine, California. Callie is the Director of Digital Marketing and Storytelling at UCLA Law School. Her focus is on social media storytelling and brand journalism. 

Callie shares her story of how many doors open when one door closes. And this is not cliché at all!

Callie thought she was going to be a lawyer, but now realizes she is in the right place at the right time. She talks about endless speech therapy that was “fluency first” focused. There were times when she felt she had failed, so wanted to silence her voice. She started ASL classes to communicate. 

Callie reached a point when she was truly ready for resources and support. Her life changed when her amazing SLP (shout out Loryn!) told her it was OK to stutter, something no one had ever told Callie. And be sure to listen closely as Callie talks about one special conversation with her grandmother.

Listen in to a great story that wraps up the 12th year of sharing powerful stories from and about women who stutter.


whs logo smallEpisode 251 features Emma MacMillan, who hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Emma works at a bank as a relationship manager, working with the mergers and acquisitions team. She enjoys reading, concerts and hanging out with friends.

Emma opens up about working with fast paced attorneys, who slow down to listen to her. She had challenged herself with customer service jobs in high school and college to get more comfortable with stuttering at work, and where she increased her confidence.

We also discuss how persons who stutter are represented in the media, educating others, her experience of being an “outgoing introvert” and how women are unicorns in the stuttering community.

Emma attended her first NSA conference this summer and we spend time talking about her experiences, how it felt meeting others who stutter, and some of the workshops that really made an impact.

Thank you Emma for such an inspiring conversation.

This episode is a milestone for this podcast. We’ve reached Number 250. This brings me so much joy.  

whs logo smallEpisode 250 features Adriana Flowers, who hails from Springfield, Oregon via Honduras. Adriana is 23 years old and is a grad student studying Public Administration. She hopes to pursue a career in either the nonprofit industry or local government.

Adriana prides herself on being an advocate for people who stutter and the National Stuttering Association. She wants to be a mentor for others who stutter, especially for young girls and teens.

Listen in as we talk about her job during Covid where she called students infected with Covid and may have been contacts. We talked how the benefits of helping her community outweighed the heavy communication load for a person who stutters. 

We also discuss supportive workplaces, the need to relearn how to do face-to-face conversations after two+ years of video platforms and wearing a mask.

We also talked about the importance of family understanding stuttering. Adrian’s dad joined her for her first two NSA conferences.

Catch Adriana on the next NSA We Stutter @ Work webinar on customer service jobs, to be held on September 28.

whs logo smallEpisode 249 features return guest Carolina Ayala, who hails from Ajax, ON, Canada. She shares that she’s been working in the disability field now for 20 years and loves it. She has recently transitioned into a new position, where she helps clients engage and be more social in their communities.

In this special episode, we discuss what it’s like to be in a relationship with another person who stutters. Her partner has given us permission to talk about him. 😊

Carolina tells us that she she doesn’t have to explain good or bad days – Sang just “gets it.”

She shared they first met casually at a NSA conference, but she never thought she’d actually talk to him. Sang then reached out to her on Facebook, and something told her to talk to him. At the time, Carolina mentioned that she was getting ready to attend an intensive speech therapy course in Canada. A few days later, Sang told her he bought a plane ticket and was joining her.

I asked Carolina when she knew she wanted to learn more about Sang. She said she knew when she felt so safe with him. She also added that was a cute and very dapper guy. (You are Sang!)

Carolina and Sang have not explored next steps yet, as there’s a whole big world to explore. They both love to travel and have happily exploring that world together.

Listen in to this very insightful and inspiring episode.

Male wearing blue with sunglasses and big smile and woman wearing yellow also with big smile.

Selfie of when Carolina and Sang first met.

whs logo smallEpisode 248 features Lindsey Lambert, who hails from Kansas City, Missouri. Lindsey is in her 30’s and is an R.N. working as an assistant nurse manager on the oncology floor at a VA Hospital.

Lindsey recently attend her first National Stuttering Association conference, which she describes as finding the family you didn’t know you had.

Listen in as we talk about Lindsey’s experiences with avoidance and being covert. She says she practiced a lot of avoidance for a really long time. She was tired of walking through life not being who she was. She is still working on her journey to acceptance.

Lindsey’s conference takeaways include: she found empowerment in getting out of her negative mindset. She discovered overwhelming love and support, and the deep conversations with others who stutter to be so freeing. She challenged herself to maintain eye contact, and she did.

Lindsey wants to heal. I’d say her first conference experience and all the people she met puts her well on the path to that healing.

whs logo smallEpisode 247 features Steff Lebsack, who hails from Aurora, Colorado. Steff is a wife, sister, mother of two and a SLP. Steff’s brother Jasper stutters, and is the reason Steff wanted to become a SLP and specialize in stuttering.

Steff just started a private practice and also works as a hospital SLP. Further, she teaches the online fluency course at Baylor University.

Steff talks fondly of when she first started working with clients who stutter, she thought she would be putting on her “hero cape” to save people who stutter. She learned that people who stutter don’t need saving, that we have a voice which should be heard no matter how it sounds.

Listen in as we talk about how Steff suffered a brain injury, and as a result she began stuttering at 36. We talk about faking stuttering, or “malingering,” going intentionally silent because of the pain of stuttering, compassion and empathy. And lot’s more.

We wrap about talking about power, and the importance of helping people feel that they matter.

whs logo smallEpisode 246 features Chantal Anderson who presently lives in Horsham, England, UK. Chantal is busy! She works as a Civil Servant in Finance. She is finishing up graduate studies and is looking forward to the end of final exams.

Chantal enjoys volunteer work. In 2018, she trained to be a volunteer instructor in the Army Cadets. In 2021, she was elected as Trustee for Stamma.

Listen in as we discuss Chantal’s recent involvement in the stammering community. When Chantal  heard there was an opening for a Trustee position for Stamma. She jumped right in and applied, saying she had nothing to lose. Chantal is very excited about attending her first stammering conference, StammaFest Global 2022.

We also discuss the McGuire Programme, which Chantal has been involved with since 2012. She describes the basics of the program, including learning breathing control techniques. The McGuire courses are all taught by program graduates, and there is lifelong support for graduates,

We talk about how the pandemic has impacted people who stammer. Working from home and relying on video chat platforms is so impersonal. Chantal shares that due to bandwidth problems, video cameras are often kept off during work calls, so she has no idea what colleagues look like, only their voices.

Thank you Chantal for such an inspiring conversation.

whs logo smallEpisode 245 features Caitlin Franchini, who hails from Atlanta, Georgia. Caitlin is a second year graduate student studying speech language pathology. She is currently participating in an externship with high school students and loves it. Caitlin is also a self professed foodie – she loves cooking and baking.

Listen in as we discuss all things stuttering. We talk about the changing relationships we have with our stutter, the journey to self confidence and acceptance and Caitlin’s own experiences with speech therapy.

Caitlin is new to the stuttering community and has gone from thinking she was the only who stuttered to realizing there is a huge network of support out there. We talk about disclosure and the importance of validating our identity as a woman who stutters.

Caitlin had the opportunity to work as a counselor at Camp Say last summer. It was a wonderful experience. “I thought I was going to change lives, but my life was changed.” Those epiphany moments are the best.

** Host note: As I listened back to this episode, I was stunned at the number of times I used filler words such as “uhm” and “you know.” I was in Toastmasters for many years and had worked specifically on recognizing and reducing filler words. For a long time, filler words were “run-ups” to words that I thought I was going to stutter on. An old avoidance tactic. Does anybody else find this creeping back in? **

whs logo smallEpisode 244 features Bhupinder Purewal, who hails from Coventry, England. Bhupinder teaches all subjects in primary school as a supply teacher, the same as a substitute teacher. Her students range in age from 5 – 11 years old. Bhupinder finds children are more accepting and curious about stammering than are adults, even when some of the students are “naughty.” Children have not been tainted by prejudice yet.

Working in a different school every day comes with some anxiety. She describes it as being scary, and finds her heart pounding on the way to school. She worries about how the day will go, and then realizes why does she fret like that, as the day always goes fine.

Listen in as we talk about disclosure, teacher training and the implied assumption that maybe she was not well suited for teaching, and the challenges of small talk.

We also talk about speech therapy experiences, and trying hypnotherapy and singing lessons. We wrap up by talking about how empowering it was for her to find stammering support and the founding of Coventry Stammerers, which meets every two weeks. Meeting other people who stammer validates our experiences.

Don’t miss this episode. Bhupinder is a very inspiring young woman.

whs logo smallEpisode 243 features Akaiya Bryant, who hails from Indianapolis, Indiana. Akaiya is 19 and a part-time university student majoring in special education, with a minor in American Sign Language (ASL). She also has a part-time job working at a grooming salon. 

Akaiya has been active in the stuttering community since age 12. She and her mom have attended the annual Friends conferences together and it has been life changing for both of them. She has also helped to facilitate online teen support groups.

Listen in as we talk about good and not so good therapy experiences, the value of disclosure, and the need to “keep going.” Akaiya has a great way of describing her experience of stuttering, as being “Disabled by Environment,” and how it’s helped her to self advocate.

Akaiya also talks about a project upcoming next month at her university. She has collaborated with the college Disability Office to have a screening of the powerful film My Beautiful Stutter. Simply by asking, Akaiya has made it happen.

I was honored to have this great conversation with a young woman who is making such a difference in the world.

Today is the last day of another year. It was a tough year for me, as it was for everyone. I haven’t worked in two and a half years now, and it’s wearing on me. I haven’t done all the things I could’ve and wanted to do this year.

I didn’t get as involved with the stuttering community, which has been my lifeline for so many years. Especially since I’ve not been working – writing about stuttering and talking with others who stutter had sustained me, and truth be told, kept me sane. Writing, thinking and engaging becomes vital when you don’t have the structure and identity of paid work. It kept me sharp and feeling productive.

Until someone criticized me for it. It was implied that if I could write and use a computer, then I could work, should work.

So I cut way back and basically only wrote or talked with someone for my podcast about once a month, even though it was killing me to step back from something I love. Helping others has always been the way to help myself. I’ve written this blog and worked full-time for years. Now, I feel as though I’ve robbed myself. I’m practically doing nothing to keep myself well. Losing my outlet has heightened my depression. That might happen to anyone who involuntarily stopped working and then curtailed a passion as well.

I can’t do that anymore. I have to decide what’s best for me. And that is being engaged with my world.

So I hope to reset in 2022. I’m going to try and do more things that bring me joy, despite this not being such a joyful time. I can either sink deep into that rabbit hole or I can do stuff that will keep me out of there. Rabbit holes don’t smell all that great!

I’m excited that I’m going to help someone get a monthly women’s connect group up and running for women who stutter. It will hopefully kindle some of that fire and passion that I’ve seriously lacked for over a year.

Here’s to a new year of hope and helping others, which always helps me.

whs logo smallEpisode 242 features Angélica Bernabé who hails from Lima, Peru. Angélica is a Psychologist who is also studying to be a Speech Language Pathologist.

She has her own Stuttering Center which is focused on an interdisciplinary, holistic approach to stuttering therapy. The Center will celebrate its third anniversary in December. She is also a member of Stamily, serving as part of the content team.

Listen in as we discuss the goals of stuttering therapy and the importance of being honest with clients, especially parents of children who stutter, who may be looking for “the fix”.

Angélica shares that she is not a “superhero” nor wants to be! She advocates showing vulnerability, with both good and challenging situations. She also states with confidence (and shares with her clients), “This is my way to talk. If you don’t like it, that’s not my problem”. What a statement of personal empowerment that can and is shared with clients.

It was such a delight to chat with and get to know Angélica. 


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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2022. 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 2022.
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