Good evening everyone,
Before I begin my latest edition of the blog, I want to personally welcome and acknowledge each of you, my followers, who take time out of their day to read and think about my reflections on stuttering. I know that free time is at a premium in today's world, and many of us say "thank you," without even realizing that it needs to be genuine-we often say it just because it is polite. So please allow me to give a genuine, heartfelt "Thank you" to each of you. Regardless of where you live in this world, you are not only my friends, but my greatest allies in the world of stuttering. Together we devote all of our energies to make not only our world, but yours and mine, just a little bit more tolerant, a little more grateful.
The greatest thing about being a blogger, in my eyes, is not only the chance to impact my life and others, but to also learn about things from experiences of other people in my life who shape my values, not only as a person, but what I expect from myself as a human being. One of these individuals I happened to have the pleasure of meeting a few years ago at a charity gala for Our Time Theatre in New York City. You may have heard me mention how phenomenal I think Our Time is. Our Time was founded by an actor who stutters and it is a place where children who stutter can express themselves in a free, non-judgmental environment, based on love of performing arts and the theatre. Every year the children write plays and perform them, and there is a grand gala fundraiser which further helps to spread stuttering awareness. The person I met, "Mikaela," is also a writer and blogger (as well as a person who stutters), and is dating a young man whom I have had the chance to hang out with ,"Bobby," at several National Stuttering Association conferences. For a few years, they have lived together in Cook County, Ill., home to the City of Big Shoulders and the Second City, better known as Chicago, or Chi-town, or any other nickname you can identify the city by. That is, until a few months ago, when Mikaela and Bobby decided to leave the Midwest for New York City.
I am a firm believer in honoring the official writer's code, so I want to give her the full credit with regard to her feelings. She writes "As the snow formed four foot walls down the semi-ploughed roads, we were paying three times our old rent in Chicago. It was a baptism by fire and there were times when we questioned our sanity." She was scared. She was worried. Yet she was also doing whatever she wanted because she happens to have completed a book about stuttering that will be picked up by a publisher.
We often have moments in our life when we ask ourselves "What if I chose that? What if I had made a different decision?" without wondering what will happen. Sadly we do not have the preview of having a "coming attraction" in life and seeing what will develop. But I see people around me are not letting fear stand in their way of doing what they want. I just found out that a member of the NSA, who is a fellow chapter leader like I am, is actually going off to law school at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., and he's in his late forties. But if you want any further proof that fear does not have to stand in your way, consider the upcoming National Stuttering Association conference in Fort Worth, Texas.
The workshop rosters were presented in the newsletter, "Letting GO," and I always love seeing who will be among the select few who will be sharing their experiences with us as presenters. I do want to emphasize, though, that you need not be a presenter in order to share with everyone. We are all educators when it comes to stuttering. Last year in Cleveland, I continued to see the evolving signs that the NSA is truly a global organization. I had the pleasure of meeting with "Robert," a man from Israel who stutters. This was his first conference and I spent a good deal of time talking to him over dinner, introducing him to many other members. I also explained to him there is nothing to be afraid of when it comes to stuttering-but rather, think of it as being excited-you are excited because you are part of a very special community, where you can have the chance to be part of a conference where we all celebrate everything stuttering is. This is one of my favorite lines to use: "What stuttering is, what it can be, and what it will be."
What it will NEVER be is fear. I promise you that.
My name is Steven Kaufman, and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.