Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Stuttering Tools

I have seen my speech therapist, Kay, 3 times, counting the intake evaluation.  I am so glad I have seen Kay, as she has given me "tools" that I can call on when I am speaking, and especially if I am stuttering.  They are ones I can practice as well, so that they will be more at the front of my mind if/when I need them.  Assuming you are all interested, here they are:

1. Proactively I can plan to slow my speech down as I begin talking.  For example, I am reading scripture in my church in February.  When I begin to read, I will start to speak slowly.

2. If I feel I am about to stutter on a word, or many, I can "pull back" and then ease into the word.  An example might be on the word "statistics," (I never could pronounce this word).  As I feel the stutter coming on, I will soften, open, and slowly pronounce the word, lingering a tiny bit on the sounds, especially the first one ("st….").  This allows my breath to keep flowing, and my words flow on my breath.

3.  Then finally, if I do stutter on a word, say "conference," I can stop, go back, and say the word again by easing into it--they call this "cancelling out the stutter."

My history of stuttering has been so linked in with my fears that I would stutter, which was shameful to me, that that in itself promoted stuttering.  At those times, I am fearful, tight and gripping (not good for a nice flow of breath for my words to ride on).  So now if I do occasionally stutter, instead of feeling fear and tightening up, I can say to myself, "Oh good, I get to practice my stuttering tools!"  I guess I'd call that a little Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  Well, I am a psychologist.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

PD Journey ~ Speech

Interesting stuff happens when you have Parkinson's Disease--and everyone's symptoms are unique.

I stuttered badly for most of my life until I was in my 50's.  Then, through love and courage and an I-Really-Don't-Care attitude, I became a non-stutterer, which was wonderful!

Now, I am beginning to stutter again, and this time I can blame it on my PD, which is in the brain and can appear in so many different ways.  It has also affected my pronunciation a teeny bit, and my singing voice.  So my wonderful Nurse Practitioner, Linda Anderson, who specializes in movement disorders, has referred me to a speech therapist.  I see her on Monday, December 9th.  This speech therapist has a great deal of background in PD, for which I am grateful.

I'll let you know.  A new step in my journey!
PD Journey

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Love and Shame

Written in the middle of the night, as I can't sleep right now.

I am ashamed of the United Methodist Church!  A Methodist minister is in court and being sentenced (I haven't heard yet) for officiating at the marriage of his son and his son's partner, a gay man.  In the Methodist church, clergy are not allowed to marry any gay or lesbian people.  If they are found out, they will be punished.  This particular man could not say that he would never do it again, because the majority of his children are gay.  What a blessing this father and pastor is.  The cost of loving and opening, and following through in that love with action, is terrible!

Even though the vote FOR welcoming, which includes marrying, GLBT persons fully into the life of the church, gets closer and closer to acceptance, it is not there yet.  One reason is that unlike some other denominations, the Methodist church is a world-wide church.   All are joined together, rather than being individual churches.  Many of the churches in other countries, particularly Africa, seem to be where we were some years ago--discriminating against those who are GLBT.  

Still, it is difficult to think that we in the United Methodist Church cannot practice our Christian love and mercy by loving and  including ALL in the full life of the church.  How can we not?  We are all ONE!

Which means--how am I going to love and be merciful to those who believe and practice something that seems so narrow and hateful and judgemental to me.  Now I am the judging one.  That just proves we are one--in more ways than one (no pun intended).

I will try to open my heart to them, knowing I, too, am narrow.  AND--I will continue to speak out;  I will continue to celebrate gay, lesbian, bisexual, and
transgender people. My heart warms when I see them loving each other--out of the closet.  I have been privileged to know many as friends, and to have heard many of their stories, some of which are heartbreaking.

Open my heart and mind Holy One, to love and exclude none--no one.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Good Grief!

Boy, it's been a loooong time since I've posted anything.

Lately, I have been feeling that I need to take time to grieve something in my life.  It's not that my life is not good, maybe even great!  I am doing so many things I dreamed I would do when I became a crone. I'm teaching chair yoga, planning to teach the Chakras again, singing in my choir, trike-ing, gardening, reading (not enough), walking with my walking sticks, doing yoga, going to the Parkinson's Dance Group, attending the PD Support group, seeing clients, seeing friends and family.  I dreamed of becoming a teacher and a sage when I became old, and I do believe I am.  Yet, as I have been meditating, the thought I needed to grieve kept popping into my mind.  I trust those thoughts that come to me while meditating.

I could grieve the fact that I have Parkinson's Disease, which is said to gradually or quickly progress.  So far, I am pretty fortunate in that my symptoms aren't too bad, and I can still do the things I want to do, although I need to be more careful, especially balancing.

I could grieve the fact that I had a very painful foot this summer, which prohibited me from much exercising.  It is much better now, but it may never completely go away.

I need to grieve these things.  But one change in my life seems more sad and scary.

I believe I need to grieve the fact that my dear husband has mild cognitive impairment, and, as it progresses, we will be faced with losses and a need to cope differently.  I fear I could "lose" him.  This is the man who has been by my side for 55+ years.  Who has supported every endeavor I have launched myself into.  This includes returning to school to get my M.A., singing (and rehearsing) in the opera and symphony choruses, participating in 500 hours of Hatha yoga teacher training, my teaching the Yamas and the Niyamas, the Chakras at Yoga North.  Going to India on a pilgrimage this last February.  And so much more!

This is the man who never cared if, or how much, I stuttered--even to the point of making phone calls for me.  This is a man who always believed in our children, no matter how "bad" they were as teens and young adults.  And he was right, they are all lovely and loving people.

But as he searches for words, needs help in understanding complicated issues, perhaps becomes less motivated to go out and "do," forgetting to turn off the lights (a small thing), I find myself becoming impatient at times.  I want to be as loving and supportive as he has been--always.  My impatience comes from fear--fear of losing him; fear of losing our life as we know it;, fear of being more and more on my own (and maybe "failing").

I need to take time to let myself feel these fears and the sadness with compassion, and then open my compassionate and loving heart to him and to life as it is.  This will also help me/us enjoy all of the riches we do have for as long as we have.

Namaste`   We are One

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


My last post was about my pilgrimage to India, and my thoughts about my fall while there.  The fall, and what it could teach me, remained in my thoughts.  I learned it touched a deep place within me--a place I thought was no longer there.

Deborah Adele, my guru, called those deep, dark places "crud bubbles," and I totally agree!  I tell my clients, even reassure them, that "our stuff is our stuff," or, more crudely put, "our shit is our shit."  If we think we'll be forever finished, we're kidding ourselves.  Here's how my crud bubble came to light.

While in India, I was conscious of my age and also my Parkinson's.  I wanted to demonstrate that I was fit and that I could keep up with the others.  I am fit, and I do have some limitations.  There were times when I joyously overcompensated, which can lead me to not look where I'm going.  (Not to mention that trifocal glasses also interfere with seeing where I'm going.)  But those times can lead to a fall.  I learned that the overcompensation was coming from a dark place in my chitta brain (or unconscious brain).  

Deborah and others had taken over the job of working with my travel insurance company to plan my trip home, as I now required reclining seats, a wheel chair, and extra help with luggage and getting around. I asked Deborah if she thought I was "incompetent," as I felt the fact that others were doing the planning, meant that they thought I was incapable of doing so.  Of course, that is not what they thought.    Still, I felt "less-than" in some way.  I journaled and tried to get to the bottom of things.  Then, while  meditating one day, the word "INCOMPETENT" popped into my mind and remained, resonating strongly--I had touched on the real issue--it had been hiding in plain sight.  I was PROJECTING onto Deborah and the others my own shadow that had been lurking deep within me.  Shadow sides are usually not comfortable, and we'd rather not know of them.  Not knowing forces the shadow to pop up in an untimely way--such as my fall, which took me out of comission the last week I spent in India.  It's like a slap on the head.  Wake up!  Look!  Know!  Now you have to deal with its fallout.  Better to learn of its origin.

It would have felt shameful, if it hadn't also been so funny.  Live and learn.  Thank you meditation.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Purashcharana Journey So Far

Before I left India, I began doing a Purashcharana practice; I'm hoping to say my mantra, as I roll my mala beads, counting each time I complete a circle of the 108 beads.  My goal is to reach 40,000 times. I'm now up to 700+.  But I have encountered a few struggles.

The main one is that rolling through my mala beads, repeating my mantra silently over and over, and counting, churned up my Parkinson's Disease response.  My dyskinesia, a kind of writhing movements, kicked in, and I also stiffened up involuntarily.  I kept at it, wondering how I could make it better and more peaceful.  After all, I'm used to meditating silently and I normally find it very peaceful--this was not!

Someone suggested I buy a "clicker," like one would use to count golf strokes.  I did.  I bought a nifty little clicker that does the counting for me.  (I look at the tabulation after I am through meditating.)  It works!  I can now meditate more swiftly and peacefully.

Thank you Jordan and Chad!