Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Emperor Wears Clothes

My first foray into the blogging world was in July 2014. Yes, I am a blogger newbie. What is most important about this is not how long I've blogging, but why I began blogging! My desire to share my thoughts and ideas about my life and profession came on the heels of my completion of the ASHA Leadership Development Program.

Truth be told, I didn't even read the email two years ago announcing the application period. My friend, Jen, sent me an email with a link and said, "Let's do this!" I thought, "Why not?" As deadlines loomed I grew anxious. I leaned in and got myself together completing the application and naturally believing I had a snowball's chance in hell. I texted Jen and asked her if she completed the application and she hadn't. Many thoughts whirled in my curly head, but the idea that I was in it and I was in it alone was paramount! Sometime in April, I think, I received an email that I had been accepted. I was shocked and thrilled. I was 51 years old and I had reached a sort of professional dormancy. At the time, little did I know that this experience would be the single most important thing I could I have done to jump start my career and my life.

I zipped out to California on Wednesday for a two-day whirlwind tour as I had to be back in New Hampshire for a wedding that Saturday. I took the red-eye home and was on an LDP high! I reclaimed who I was as a professional. I re-imagined what I could do. I finally found a place in my heart and mind that truly believed, "If I think it, I can do it." What was it that set this in motion? Well, I will say the facilitators were fabulous, inspiring, and smart, but the key for me was the other cohort participants. Our little team met every month virtually and connected and grew and commiserated. We wrought friendships and support. I love these women. I think of them often despite being spread all across the country.

As a result of my LDP experience I am compelled to continue striving for professional opportunities that allow me to step away from the stultifying effects of professional hypocrisy. This means I have reframed my mindset that I should know everything about everything. That I can do everything. How is that even possible? I unabashedly admit, "I have to research that" or happily reach out the the "gurus" in our field when I am stumped. It means divining the truth and recognizing there is a time for work and a time for me.

It also means that I had to take a look at my level of involvement in our state association. So many issues confound the ability of speech language pathologist to execute their jobs effectively. Every day I read about the mounting expectations foisted on those in our field. SLPs broadcast daily their struggles in seas of paperwork and incapacitating caseloads. I think of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s letter written from the Birmingham jail where he wrote, "nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored." The time had arrived for a President-Elect in our state association. So I reached for the next goal and accepted that nomination. By now you may be wondering, "Where's the correlation with the Emperor 's New Clothes?" In Hans Christian Andersen's tale anyone who could not see the magnificent garments tailored for the king were either stupid or unfit for their positions. No one in the king's court, including the king himself would openly admit that. "There are none so blind as those who will not see." I am not one to ignore or deny what is real for me. I refuse to dive headlong into this new position feigning nonchalance and indifference.

I'm nervous. I'm nervous I don't deserve this role. I'm nervous I can't fulfill the obligations of the position. I fear leaving the organization in two years with it no better than when I joined. This is constructive anxiety, anxiety that will sharpen my resolve and drive me to not fall into lethargy and inactivity. It builds on the mantra that began in California, "Do one thing everyday that scares you." This quote from Eleanor Roosevelt has been the driving force behind my choices. It's the reason I decided to run another half marathon and to ride my bike up the Kancamagus Highway this summer. It's the reason I'm joining Crossfit and yes, it's the reason I accepted the nomination from people who believe in me.

I was chatting with my friend Heidi Kay, of PediaStaff fame and our conversation shifted from our love of Dr. Who, Star Trek, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Jamberry nails to my anxiety about my new role with NHSLHA. Quick as can be she suggested I blog about it. She is the brains behind this post and no, there is no impostor syndrome for Annie. Thanks Heidi and thanks ASHA LDP!


  1. I saw that email and considered it, but I'm not even a member of my state association because they seem to cater only to the medical field. I was active in SC, though.
    Good for you, Madame President!!! Impressive! :)

    1. Mary, I think you should go for it! It was an amazing process and I think you have so much to offer others in the field!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Sparklle! I hope the the main idea shone through in the post; that despite anxiety and fear we need to step out.

  3. I completely believe in you Annie! If anyone can make change, it's you. Miss all you guys 😉

    1. Thanks Lori! I miss you too, but know we will have a blast in Phoenix!
      By the way, I didn't join Crossfit! My insecurity took over and I didn't go back! UGH!