Monday, April 27, 2015

Cut to the Chase

This post may be disconcerting to some folks out there in the SLP world. Understand the ideas expressed are mine and mine alone and have allowed me to reframe my thinking around my desire for approval, for significance.

I recently began a book that supports the notion we are "Made to Crave" (Lysa Terkeurst). I began this study because I have had an on again off again marriage to food and I really want to get a handle on why. I've been 99 pounds, whereby I starved myself consuming 1/2 of a rice cake and a diet pill. I've been 186 pounds, whereby I consumed everything and anything. I am beginning to understand that I have been wired for cravings. As I read I was intrigued by this line, "...the object of our craving was never supposed to be food or other things people find themselves consuming such as sex or money or chasing significance." WHOA! What was that last item? Chasing significance? This last "craving" triggered something in me. I considered my life at work and how so many conflicts, hurt feelings, and misunderstandings were soundly embedded in my desire to be significant, to be heard, to be right, to be valued.

I follow the social media chatter closely and read the posts describing parent put-downs, administration admonitions, and teacher tirades. What typically follows are rescue posts by well-meaning SLP friends. These posts offer advice and solutions and...statements espousing our significance and value. I also read many posts expressing disdain and sometimes outrage over words like "speechies" or "speech teacher" terms that supposedly diminish our significance. I know, I so want parity with other professionals. I so want respect from others that sometimes who I want to be outshines what I do!

Dear SLP friends, read this aloud. "I am significant if I only ONCE remediate a distorted /r/. I am significant if I only ONCE tell a child, "I believe in you." I am significant if I only ONCE hold the hand of a parent and say, "I hear you."

I do not need to chase significance in the size or name of my room. Whether I call it a classroom, speech nook or clinic makes no difference. It's what I do in that space that brands me. I don't need to chase significance in my title. I will admit I was averse to "speech teacher," but my title doesn't qualify me, my actions do. I do not need the school psychologist to agree with my testing results or diagnoses to affirm my significance, for my value does not rest in the approval of another person. As long as I have done my work professionally, responsibly and ethically what I do is significant.

The career I chose was inspired. I believe I have written about how I chose SLP before, but in case you missed it, here is my story. I was 18 years old and not a real go-getter. I had lost my Mother three short years earlier and was living with my 29 year old brother, his 28 year old wife and my 14 year old brother. We were still shell shocked and learning the moves to our new dance. I was completing college applications and had not set the bar high. After my Mother died I did the bare minimum in high school, participating in nothing extracurricular. My applications were sparse to say the least. When I got to the the section of the application listing possible majors I knew I could do most anything. I was, for all intents and purposes, a tabla rasa. So I did what an 18 year old might do when faced with a life changing decision, I closed my eyes and pointed. I landed on speech language pathology. It was one of the most defining moments in my life. Here I am 32 years later still passionate about the field I "chose." Do I need to chase significance? No! Am I significant by virtue of what I have been called to do? Oh, yes!

I was chatting with my friend, Heidi one morning last week before work. It was time for me to pack up and head out. She left me with this warm send off, "Have a good day. Change lives." How much more significance do I need to chase? I change lives.


  1. What an awesome, awesome post! I absolutely LOVE how you write from the heart...every single time! :)

    1. Thanks, Mary. I don't know if I could write if I didn't flay myself wide open. Vulnerability can be a gift (or a curse)!

  2. I may have not left the egocentric part of my life or maybe the optimistic side rises above, but confidence about what I do and feeling significant is luckily usually not my weakness. While, yes, I am a people pleaser and a self proclaimed over-doer, I am proud to be a speech teacher as well as sign my name without my CCCs as a participant on the IEP. I teach speech, I also run school events, help proctor tests, collaborate with colleagues, volunteer for extracurricular, etc. I am a teacher!

    1. And you are amazing. You get it! It's what we do that sets us apart and you do it so well.