Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Join? Why?

I will admit it, for many years I was not a member in my local state speech and language association. When we first moved to New Hampshire I joined in an effort to connect with other speechies.  I had moved from New Jersey, and NJSLHA was very active.  The membership was strong and a bevy of professional development opportunities were offered.  New Hampshire just seemed...a little slower to me.  After several years I allowed my membership to lapse and I noticed no difference.  I became one of the many who uttered the words, "What has the organization done for me?"  I did my job, connected with only a few SLPs in our SAU, and saved $60.00 per year (yes only $60.00).

Then came my incredible year of participation in LDP.  I suppose I grew up, finally, whew! This shouldn't come as a surprise, it isn't a huge revelation, but if everyone says, "What have they done for me," then NOTHING will get done!  Really?  An organization is the sum of its parts, it can only be effective with effective participation.  We know this, yet still only a handful of people step up to the plate and plod ahead trying to do much with little.  So, I rejoined the ranks of NHSLHA and accepted a position on the executive board.  Public relations...AAAAAAGGGGGHHHH!!  An area I know virtually nothing about.  What I do know is I am willing to learn.  I know I must stop expecting others to do the work alone.  I know ASHA has staff that are ready and willing to help me and our state association experience a renaissance and become an active and proud representative of our profession.

Why should you join the ranks of your state speech and language association?

  • Networking:  Your state association can connect you with professionals who share your passion. Those professionals possess a collective brainpower that can support you in a wealth of ways including, mentorship, problem solving, research, access to leadership in the profession, advocacy and general support.
  • Conferences:  State associations provide continuing education opportunities that are often reasonably priced.  Additionally, registration costs are often reduced for members, another boon!
  • Employment resources: Many state associations list job opportunities on their website.  Some can even assist in resume or cover letter writing, interview skills, or job search strategies.
  • Advocacy: Your state association is hard at work behind the scenes advocating for the needs of our profession.  Representatives from associations tirelessly advocate on your behalf on the issues that impact us daily.  Through their efforts hot button issues like caseload size, insurance caps, paperwork burdens and licensure are brought to the attention of our legislators.  They also keep membership abreast of federal and state legislative developments that impact us as a profession.
  • Professional Clout: Being a card carrying member of a professional organization provides members with some professional influence and who doesn't want a little street cred?
  • Publications:  Many associations provide their membership with access to newsletters and/or journals.

I have highlighted probably the most obvious reasons to become involved in your state association and I suspect I have overlooked many others.  The point is, we are a collective (resistance is futile!), working toward common interests.  A collective needs members, so if you aren't already a member of your state's speech-language association I urge you to join.  Make a difference!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mt. Jackson and a Mission

Alyssa and I at the trailhead
Another beautiful summer morning!  The summer of 2014 has been exceptional.  I am sitting on my porch sipping a cold glass of iced coffee and feeling pretty content, with the exception of my body.  My legs are toast, my knee is swollen, my lower back is aching, my toes feel like they have been stepped on (my pretty pink jamicure done in), the soles of my feet are throbbing, and the palms of my hands are sporting two lovely blisters smack dab in the middle.  "Why," you may ask.  I hiked Mount Jackson yesterday.  Mount Jackson sits in the Presidential Range (although, it is not named for President Jackson, but rather for a geologist named Charles Jackson)  in NH, with a summit of 4,052 feet.  It is described as a moderate hike (really?) having rock scrambles and cascades.  "Rock scrambles are when a hiker needs to use their hands and feet to get over rocks, boulders, and ledges to get over the trail.  Rock scrambles can be a lot of fun, but also challenging, so scramble with caution, because this is dangerous and tumbles happen." I felt like a mountain goat clinging for dear life to the rocks.  Once at the summit we were delighted by a stunning 360 degree view. It was beautiful to say the least and I felt a true sense of accomplishment. It's strange to imagine that the hike up was the easy part, but it was.  Hiking down is tough.  It was precarious and my legs were rubbery.  Then it happened!  Yes, IT!  I smashed my already injured knee into a rock. Searing jolts of pain radiated through my knee and for a few minutes I questioned how I would get down.  We were about half a mile from the trailhead and I just went very slowly using my poles as supports.  I had also run out of water before I even reached the summit.  So I hobbled the rest of the way with my tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth.  It was awful.
With sweat pouring off my face I persevered, and as Brene Brown so eloquently stated in a TED talk, I "leaned into the discomfort," forcing my body to do what it didn't want to do.  It took over six hours and according to MapMyHike, I burned over 2,900 calories!  Certainly enough to offset the Coronas we enjoyed afterward!

The Summit Mt. Jackson
I did learn a few things for my next hike!

  1. Bike gloves to protect my palms from the poles that I lean on so heavily.
  2. Three bottles of water, not one!
  3. Hiking shoes with ankle support.  Mine are low and my ankles felt it.
  4.  Figure out how to prevent "toe jam."

I try to stay fit, but exercise isn't really my friend, I have to push myself.  I would much rather be reading or gardening, baking or crafting.  I do enjoy hiking "lite."  A stroll with a gradual incline, no rock scrambles!  So why am I doing this? I lost my parents when I was a teenager.  I had just turned 15 when I lost my Mother.  Not a particularly easy time for such an experience, as if any time is.  Now I have a strong faith and have generally found living according to the tenets of my faith to be fairly easy. Even as a teenager it was easy for me to let's say, "not kill anyone" or "covet my neighbor's wife." The tough one for me was that whole honoring your mother and father thing.  At fifteen I was in full blown adolescence, a period I've heard referred to as "transient psychosis!"  All those hormones flying around and all that neural pruning occurring!   I was an impulsive, egocentric kid and not always respectful to my parents.  In losing them early I was robbed of the opportunity to reconcile with them.

It's been thirty-eight years and I have often wondered how I could make things right.  Running with a friend last summer, she asked if I had given any thought as to how I could honor my Mother.  I hadn't. The past is the past, isn't it?  What difference would it make now?  The difference is, I could do today what I didn't do yesterday.  I could take on a challenge as a measure of respect.  Respect for the things I learned from my Mother but didn't know I was learning because I was knee-deep in acting like, well, a teenager.  From her I learned to love God, to sacrifice for my children, to be brave, to be resilient, to persevere, to work hard.

So when I brought up this idea of doing something in memory of my Mother to my friend Scott, he didn't skip a beat.  In true Scott fashion he said four words; "the four thousand footers!"  There are forty-eight four thousand foot mountains in New Hampshire and I plan on hiking every one of them in honor of my Mother.  It will take me years and I can't imagine it will get any easier.

As for today, I sit on the summit of Mount Jackson with my friend, Alyssa, who has pledged to join me on this journey.  I am able to say, "Thank you, Mom, for giving me life and always doing the best with what you had.  Thank you for loving me.  I love you and will see you again in paradise."

Monday, July 14, 2014

One Woman's Trash

One of our favorite finds!
I'm not a New Hampshire native.  In fact, thirty seconds into a conversation with me and I can almost guarantee you'll be remarking on my "standing on line to get cawfee at the mawl."  Yup, I'm a Jersey girl, which made moving to NH a challenge to say the least!  I survived my first summer with a four month old terrified that the "coyotes would get my baby."  I survived my first winter by ricocheting off the snow banks as I slid down the icy mountain road.  I survived my first mud season by hiking up and down the mountain in my wellies carrying a ten-month old and my groceries, proclaiming to the universe (and anyone that would listen) "I DON'T DO MUD!"  Well, apparently in NH we do mud and then black flies.  UGH!!

I have come to love my adoptive state, it is beautiful.  I was meant to be here.  It is the place I healed.  I have a fabulous community, wonderful friends, and I am happy.  Naturally, there are things I miss about NJ; my family, bagels, pizza, taylor ham, restaurants, movie theaters,  garbage.  I'm serious; garbage!  NJ has some of the best garbage picking ever.  It's amazing what folks will toss!  One woman's trash is another woman's treasure as they say.   As a little girl my neighbors pitched their Barbies.  What?  With the clothes!!!  I still have them 46 years later and my daughter has had many happy hours playing with them.  We have a beautiful cast iron sink with a drainboard found on the side of the road in Montclair (that bad boy was heavy), a claw foot tub found in Hawthorne, a butcher block and 6 ladder-back rushed kitchen chairs found in Ridgewood. Yup, we schlepped them all to NH.  We haven't found treasures like that since making the move to NH, people are more thrifty, using things and repairing them when necessary or selling them. The unofficial NH motto is: "Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without." Good for them, but not so good for us.
This was a cast off from school!
We do, however, have the dump.  Once Jim found a tricycle that he brought home.  It had a bum wheel; unrideable. When our friends saw it they laughed; they had taken it to the dump!  My friend's father had given it to them, you guessed it, after finding it at the dump in MA.  Yes, we returned it to the dump!  I guess, no one decided to see if it actually worked before grabbing it.
I suppose we'll just have to be content perusing the thrift shops for an occasional gem.  We don't really have many thrift shops and unfortunately the prices can be high.  I have found some great books and  a few games this summer.  I'm not discouraged though, like any diehard picker, I persevere!!  Of course, that's what makes it fun, knowing eventually I'll hit pay-dirt.  So if you haven't gotten out there scanned the sides of the road during your commute, I encourage you to keep your eyes wide open.  You never know what treasures you'll find, or at least a conversation piece.  "So what was I thinking I could do with this?"
I had been on the search fro elefun for a while.  Yippee!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Taking the Plunge!

It was nearly one year ago that I embarked on a professional journey the impact of which I never could have anticipated.  In April my friend and colleague suggested we both apply for the Leadership Development Program through ASHA.  At the time I wasn't sure what it was all about, but thought, "Hey, why not?"  I completed the application process, not thinking anything would come of it.  Surprise, surprise, I was accepted and in July 2013 I set out to Long Beach, CA for a whirlwind adventure.  What started out as a whim has become the single most important thing I could have done to jumpstart my career.  You see, I just finished my 30th year as a speech-language pathologist and  was beginning to feel the rumblings of burnout. I felt I had reached the apex, there was nothing I could do in my place of employment, things were stagnant.  Then came California and meeting amazing, vital, young, energetic and talented SLPs.  Over the course of the year we met virtually, worked on our projects, learned, commiserated and developed lifelong friendships.  To say it was a joy would be an understatement.

I have been blessed with many talents, professional and personal and now I have the confidence to use them.  What I learned is that in order to grow I don't need to be confined to the walls of my employment.  What I have learned is that I don't need an army of people to accomplish great things; I don't need the planets to be in alignment to tackle a task; I don't need permission to to do what I do well!  I know that God gave me that opportunity to recognize my own value, strengths and weaknesses.

Soooooo, while in CA we were given a journal the cover of which contained a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt; "Do one thing everyday that scares you."  In the past year I have tackled many, many things that scare me.  One of the things I had wanted to do, but was too scared to undertake, was a blog.  "Who would want to read MY thoughts," my inner naysayer ranted.  "Do one thing everyday that scares you."  This scares me, so I"M DOING IT!!!

This blog will be a place for me to share the everyday scary stuff; SLP, Mom, wife, friend, believer, sister, etc.  I hope to share my professional experiences, but also my wisdom as a fifty-something year old SLP who isn't all SLP all the time.  I hope if you follow that you can relate to my words and if not that at the very least you find my words entertaining.  Please comment, I have so enjoyed the connections I have made in this giant virtual world!!