Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I celebrated my Independence Day without barbecues....

Good evening everyone,

I want to begin this edition of the blog by apologizing for a little bit of a lapse with new postings. In the next few days you will see more and more entries from me, as I just have returned home from what may very well be described as the crown jewel of NSA conferences....in all the years that this amazing conference has been in existence, this past gathering of teammates from around the continental U.S. and the world may have been the most special of all. And although Independence Day has passed, I'd like to focus on it, if you'll permit me.

Independence Day is always celebrated by remembering the veterans and heroes who gave their lives for this country to allow us to enjoy the freedoms-the freedom to say our thoughts and not be retaliated against, the freedom to go as we please. For some, it's seen as the halfway point that the summer of 2009 is over, for others, a perfect reason to bring out the barbecue and throw the burgers and hot dogs on the grill, along with ice cold beverages, and watch the local ballgame. It's about experiencing pride as you see the fireworks explode over the nation's capital in poetic motion, as the 1812 Overture blasts over the loudspeakers. But I want to tell you about a special way I celebrated Independence Day, and it wasn't even in July.

For those who have my followed my blog, you know have I often spoken about how my days of Long Beach, Calif., have permanently altered my life forever. We often speak of defining moments in our lives, for these are the ones you remember forever, exactly what you did and where you were. The experiences I had at the Long Beach conference were my Independence Day. I took a stand. I gave my feelings about being angry that I stuttered a positive voice. I stopped running, and faced my frustrations and anxieties head-on, and with the support of my teammates, many of whom I keep in touch with to this day. Was the road long? Sure. Did I fall a few times? Well, of course I did. I wouldn't be human if I didn't. Traveling to the other side of the coast led to my Independence Day. I really wish that everyone could experience the sheer joy and power of this event, but I know for some they may be unable to. Or they might want to work up the strength to do so.

You can make your own Independence Day happen, though. The moment you say, "I am going to speak my mind," that's your Independence Day. When you decide that others are going to listen to you, no matter how long it takes, that's when your Independence Day begins. Maybe it's July 4. Maybe it's April 13th. Or just perhaps it could be tomorrow. But celebrate Independence Day from stuttering every day!!

My name is Steven Kaufman and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.

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