Saturday, March 03, 2007

Spanish Test

Well im back to cold, wet windy blighty after a relaxing, speech challenging few weeks in Spain. I went over to see my friends Yvette and Mac but spend 5 nights in Hostels around the Costa Del Sol region.

Great fun and a good test for my speech as its puts my out of my comfort zones. I think I went in to the situations with the wrong mindset at first as I was not very disciplined and too fluent. Perhaps too relaxed. I found that I was blocking more than normal so I had to pull my finger out and focus on less words per breath and some fun DD.

When you travel on your own, you have to make conversation with strangers. I love this challenge now as before I would of ran a mile and spend the night on my own. I met some good, fun people during my 5 days and nights travelling. Most of the people I got into conversation with, I told about the McGuire Programme. I think I must of handed out another pack of cards;-))

Once I focussed and used DD and showed honesty I felt much more in control of the speech and the conversation. Funny how just being in a new place can effect you.

Next week im away at Max Rogers Wedding in Stevenage. Hoping to combine my weekend with a visit to London to see Mikey and Gareth. Cant resist a few nights out now and again;-)
Max is a old graduate from the McGuire Programme who helped me so much in my early recovery. He is doing the right thing and practicing his wedding speech with me all next week, warming up for his big event. I am really looking forward to supporting him and also speaking to loads of new people once again...this really helps me to move forward in my recovery. The more we practice the better we will become. A few weeks ago while I was in Spain, Gareth had an interview for the Sun Newspaper and he called me to warm up for the event. Just another example of the difference between success and failure. If we work hard, we will do well...and as if my magic, Gareth did well. Good on Gareth and Max.....

From next week its head in books time as I need to prepare for my Induction into my Life Coaching course. I am so excited about doing this course for the next 6 months. Again a great challenge for my speech as alot of the coaching will involve speaking to fluent speakers either face to face or over the telephone and and being monitored by my Life Coach. Bring it on!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Update and 2007 Goals!

I cant believe it was 6 weeks ago that i last posted on here. Where has the time gone?

I am just trying to think how its been speech wise in the past few months. Overall I have really enjoyed it...perhaps been a little sloppy at times but has no problems and the key is that im not avoiding words, sounds or situations. Coaching two students from the Bournemouth Course has been great fun and helped me to get back into coaching mode...something I have missed in the past few years as the RD role on the McGuire Programme is much different.

This year, as well as the photography and youthwork I want to go on a few Life Coaching courses. In December of last year I went on a day course and found it very inspiring and this motivated me to what to find out more about it. So I have enrolled on a few more courses to see how I find them. So many people have told me I would make a good life coach but I feel I need to attend these courses to see for myself if I could do it! I have also got come good contacts to use for advice.

As RD of the McGuire Programme I really feel its important for me to have a job role outside of the McGuire comfort zones so that I am always challenging my speech. Once a coach on the programme told me I need to be doing one thing a day that challenges me to keep moving forward. I agree with that and by pushing myself into these new situations this will help.

In December I gave myself until February 7th 2007 to make my decision about a career. I feel frustraited that I have my fingers in many pies but have not gone on to make one a career.

2007 is the time for this space!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Life Update - Another Radio Interview

Well time just moves on so quick and before I knew it....I had forgotten to update my blog!

Quite alot has happened in the past month. I have really moved forward in my recovery from major surgery (few months ago) and im running 2-3 times a week and now swimming regularly. I am training my friend in preperation for the London Marathon next year, so by helping her I am also getting back to fitness.

On the job front, well I am back trying to organise this next McGuire Course in Bournemouth next week. Its a big challenge and im glad that Claire Feehan is helping me. This course will be more challenging as we have Staff Training running during the whole course, probably some media coverage as Gareth Gates is instructing this course and also its a big course for new students and old graduates. Should be fun and great speech practice for all.

I have just started back doing a little photography. Last week I took photos at the Cheddar Half Marathon. This was great fun and my first road run. I now want more road runs to do.
The cheese was good too:-)) I have also decided to attend a Life Coaching course in London in a months time. This is just a one day taster to see if I like it, but its something I think I would love to get into.

Finally, I would like to thank my brother Chris for attending another local radio interview with me on Monday. BBC Somersert Sound asked us to attend their show and talk about the McGuire Programme. It went really well and another step forward in our recovery. I really tried to slow my speech down and resist time pressure. This helped and I was much happier this time than when I did my last radio interview earlier this year. It was great to have Chris there too working hard on his speech in a pressure situation. Well done avoiding is the key!!!!!!! Its great that we can listen back to it and analyse our speech to help us move forward in our recovery from stammering. Another tick in the box of working on your speech where it the real world!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

More Pushing Out Comfort Zones

Last night I took new gratuate Mike Griffiths to meet a young woman (mid 20s) and her parents to discuss the McGuire Programme. The woman has had a stammer all her life and like Mike did, she has been undecided on whether to attend a course or not. Also like Mike and myself she has a covert stammer and hides it with great skill. To the outside word people think she has no speech problem but to the woman, inside its eating into her and always putting herself under pressure to have to avoid words and sounds.

I decided to ask Mike along as he has only been on the programme a few months and as well as giving him an opportunity to speak, show his video and push out his comfort zones in a new environment I also felt it would benefit the young woman to hear someone speaking so soon after their first course.

When we got there we received a warm greeting with tea and rolls, I wish I had not just eaten a roast before we left!! I did a mini open day presentation, telling them a bit about stammering, method (some things we teach on the course), structure of a course, our STRONG support network etc etc.

Then it was Mikes chance. Its amazing how well Mike did as I could tell he felt a little under pressure to speak well as he was not only representing himself but also the McGuire Programme. He did what I wanted him to do, be open and honest and disciplined with his speech. He started off mechanical and then relaxed as it went on and I could see him enjoying his voice and the way be came across. He showed his video and answered questions with great honesty and I felt this was another great step for Mike in expanding his comfort zones. Well done son!!

All we must do now is hope this young woman wants to take control of her stammer and being in her mid 20,s she is at a good age to realise how important having speech control really is!!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Support Groups

I have been a member of the McGuire Programme for 8 years now and one main reason for my speech success has been the use of my local support group. I have been lucky enough to be a member of the Bridgwater Support Group and during the early stages of my recover I made myself attend the two weekley......two hour long Sunday night meeting. I needed this support and attended regularly for a few years.

When I came off my first course, I felt on top of the world. I felt nothing could stop me moving forward in my recovery. But what I did not realise was just how much I needed to use the amazing support network of the McGuire Programme to move forward in my recovery.

We used to run the group in a local pubs skittle alley and I was lucky that my coach Martin Coombs attended regularly as well. More to come later on Martin, who was one of the main reasons I have reached so many speech goals during my time on the programme!

During support groups we practice using the techniques taught on courses. We also discuss the last two weeks of our recovery and discuss how we can improve our speech in challenging situations. We always look to move forward in our recovery, never stand still.......lways look to improve our speech. Its a great way to help improve and learn to speak well in all situations and take control of all words and sounds. During the session we always end on a speech or a table topics session to let go and have fun speaking.

I really wish more graduates who make the effort to attend their support groups. Some people think they can do well without using the support on offer. I know a lot do, but more would surly do better if they made that extra effort every other week. Use the support on offer guys!! Its the way forwards!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Working on my speech when ill and learning from my mistakes.

Well...its been a while since I last put a post on the blog, mainly cause I have been to hospital. Its been an interesting few weeks speech wise, trying to keep up with the technique after my operation. The operation effected my throat and stomach so I could not speak using the costal diaphram for a few day. When speaking I just used the basic pause, breath, speak, release technique and used a few tools to keep myself centred/focussed on my speech. Its was a good job I was feeling stong with my speech at the time, otherwise it may have been harder. It was a relief to feel the full breath come back after a few days. Now I have no excuses!!

Its amazing how your physical state effects your speech, just like your emotions can. I have found myself to be more spontaneous since the operation and I think its down to not feeling 100%. I have found myself having to cancel more words lately, not because I am fearing them but just because I feel im not articulating properly and stumbling over words, sometimes without noticing. I am now more focussed and will get back to normal soon.

A few months ago I met my cousin for the first time for ages. He was back in the area and had not heard me speaking with control before. He was amazed as to how good my speech was as I was speaking with discipline. I saw him every week for a month or so and every time he could not believe how well I was doing, when speaking in front of different people. Then one night, I was talking to people in the pub and getting excited. He stopped me and said, he had noticed my speech had not been as good tonight, as it normally is. I straight away slowed down and used more discipline. I was so grateful that he had pulled me up and make me noticed I was sloppy. He then told me at the end of the night that since he mentioned to me about my speech it improved and went back to the normal eloquent way that I know I can be. This shows me that we need people to pull us up on our speech. This way we can learn from our mistakes. When people mention it we need to make it a positive, because its a great way to move forward in our recovery.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Why push myself?

As a recovering stammerer, its so important that I continue to keep on top of my speech. In the past few weeks I have been sloppy and not been as disciplined as I would have liked. However I have no problem with this anymore as long as I continue to push myself and NEVER hold back when dealing with worlds, sounds or situations. My mindset is spot on!

I have had a lot of pressure building from uncertainty at work, my health issues and also my social life but by being positive and assertive, this has helped me to move forward and treat these situations as an opportunity to continue my amazing and exciting recovery from stammering.

Recently I have spoken at some events and been proud of myself. While in Greece last month we managed to get a group of Greek Speech Therapists together and I did a presentation about the McGuire Programme to them. This went very, although my speech was a little rushed. I really need to work harder on the pause, and FORCE myself to exaggerate it!

I then had an interview for a local newspaper as they needed a freelance photographer. The editor said he speaks to many freelance photographers but felt he could work with me!
I amazed at how well I came accross and the interview with control and honesty regarding my speech and life. Always feels better speaking well when not talking about the McGuire Programme. Makes me feel I am really moving forward and not sticking in my comfort zones.

Radio interviews are now boring and I cant believe I think like that. Doing a recent interview for BBC Wiltshire Sound was great fun and exciting. I loved it but again realised I was not resisting time pressure / pausing enough.....typical covert stammerer!!

On Saturday I attended my first British Stammering Association Open Day in London. This was a great experience meeting other stammerers and listening to other presentations as well as running our own McGuire Presentation. Again, this went very well, again too rushed and not paused enough but delighted at the responce.

I have come along way since joining the programme. Its not only giving me the tools to control my stammer but also to given me the confidence to move on and enjoy every moment in life. Pausing is not a big issue, I enjoy speaking and letting go and having fun...but I know I need to focus more on the pause as when I use it well, my speech is amazing.

My advice to anyone who stammers would be to do one thing every day that is a challenge. This might not be a big challenge but could be a small one. My challenge today is to use a 5 second pause when speaking to a out of control stammerer shortly....go for is and dont hold back because if you go for it, this will open up opportunities you would never thought exsisted.