Thursday, December 29, 2005

Transfer-Wk 8,Fri.-Entrophy & My Solution

Last stuttered on 12/29/050 days since last stutter
0 times through drive through0 days since missing shaping
0 days since missing review0 structured phone calls made
1 speeches made0 sales calls made
0 conversations initiated 

In the past week or two, I’ve noticed a serious deterioration in my ability to transfer my targets to the real world. I actually feel like I’ve completely squandered my last week in therapy and all the transfer activities.

I’m pretty upset with my self right now. And since I’m doing this publicly with my real name, I must say, I feel kind of foolish. I suppose I could lie on my blog and imply that things are going well, but the lack of integrity would gnaw at my conscience every time I thought about my therapy. Or worse, those who meet me might think the fault lie with the program when that is obviously not the case at all.

I guess what it comes down to a personal weakness beyond stuttering. It’s a self-discipline failure along with an inability to set priorities. Not that it’s any excuse of my behavior, but I believe these problems are not uncommon in our MTV culture.

Also, I don’t think I’m alone with this problem. I have the distinct feeling others in my program are having the same problems. And in meeting other former participants, I think many, if not most, have similar issues. But like I said, “Not that it’s any excuse”, because I can only be responsible for myself, and my own actions.

Therefore; I should only judge myself on my ability, or inability, to accomplish my goals. And I obviously intend to resolve these problems or I would not be writing this.

A derivative of the above events is that this blog is getting kind of boring .. if I do say so myself. But this may be a good thing, since it has highlighted the fact that I was able to responsibly maintain this blog while under the constraint of time limits. Phase I and II both had firm end dates … I had deadlines.

So what I’ve come up with; is to create a series of ever increasing goals with deadlines. These goals are not going to be earth shattering by any stretch of the imagination, but will be a stretch for me. Actually, anybody who doesn’t stutter will think my goals of making five hundred phone calls or ordering something in the drive through quite ridiculous, but they are well beyond my comfort zone. My long-term goals before the end of the year however, will be well beyond the comfort zone of most non-stutterers.

I will probably post my goals within the next week.

Not meant as advice, please find a qualified therapist if you are interested in similar therapy.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Transfer-Wk 7,Thurs.-Control

I started writing on November 27th, the day of our first snow fall in Toronto, but got bogged down with the copy right for a great picture I wanted to accompany it. So it just wound up on the back burner.

Well, I really don't have too much to say right now, so I thought I'd post it.
It snowed the other day in Toronto and as usual, the first snowfall brought heavy traffic and a flurry of fender benders.

For some reason, Toronto seems particularly vulnerable to problems after the first snowfall. I don’t recall there being problems like this in my hometown of Halifax. Why does Toronto have so many problems? Are drivers just too aggressive here? Is it the congestion? Is it because our large immigrant population gives us many drivers who are not experienced with Canadian driving conditions?

You can speculate as to what the problem is, but what it really comes down to is control. It’s very easy to delude myself into thinking I am in control when I’m not. And it’s not until I’m sliding into the ditch that it becomes obvious control was lost.

I’m finding my speech is the same way. It’s easy to delude myself into thinking that I’m in control of my speech when really; I’m just coasting on the icy road of spontaneous fluency.

Since my course ended, I have been trying to use my targets in a manner which people would not hear a difference. I suppose I’ve been trying to push the envelope with many of my targets, especially the stretched syllable target.

Is it irresponsible of me to do this? Is it ok for me to be on the bleeding edge of control with my fluency?

Sure .. why not might be a common answer to this.

But why is it acceptable with my speech? I mean surely, if I were to admit being consistently out of control while driving in the snow, I’d be considered reckless, inept, and a general hazard to the community. Even losing control for a second is a sign of complete irresponsibility!

Perhaps this is the attitude I should be taking with my fluency.

Not meant as advice, please find a qualified therapist if you are interested in similar therapy.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Transfer-Wk 6,Fri.-Entropy

Up until last week I had done my daily shaping every day. But last week I missed 2 days, and this week I missed Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I wasn’t happy that I missed it, but life just kind of took over. By mid week I had totally lost my ability to use my targets, increasingly using my previous spontaneous fluency pattern.

But Wednesday evening, I was stuttering like a maniac picking up a prescription at the drug store…I was blocking badly. And as reminiscent of old times, the guy behind me, just had to see my face as I attempted to shield myself from the embarrassment! He started off behind me, but when I started to stutter, he came around my right side leaning over to watch me. When I turned my back on him, leaning left, he moved completely around to my left side. I turned away again, and he again moved to my right. At this point, I realized he was determined to watch, so I stopped trying to get away from him and let him watch me make a fool out of myself!

Guess what … I came home and did my shaping! I did it yesterday and today. I don’t think I’ll miss it again for a while. ;-)

On a lighter side, I just got a really confusing phone call, where there was obviously something going on at the caller end. When I answered the call, I knew it was an unsolicited call, but saw it as an opportunity to practice my targets. The call went something like this:

Me - “Hello?”
Me - “Hello?”
Pause .. “Hi”
“Hi .. how are you?”
“Good .. how are you?”
“Fine … how can I help you?”
Then they hung up.


I don’t know what the heck that was, but before my therapy, I definitely would have stuttered and interpreted the hang up as some kind of rejection. Then I would have felt like crap for the rest of the day. At least now I know what ever the heck the problem was … it wasn’t my problem and I quickly moved on with my work.

Not meant as advice, please find a qualified therapist if you are interested in similar therapy.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Transfer-Wk 5,Thurs.-First Toastmasters speech


Last night I did my first Toastmasters speech. While there is definitely room for improvement, but I believe I did pretty good. You can see the video by clicking here.

My speech was originally cancelled for the Christmas party, but then scheduled again. As a result, I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare it. I actually wrote it on the train that morning, and when I printed it 45 minutes before the meeting, my printer started running out of ink. So I was sometimes looking at unidentifiable words.

In terms of my targets, the start was rough, but I regained control and felt good control for the rest. Even though I can’t really see it on the video. There were a few times when I got tongue tied, but got through it alright. But I probably should decrease my rate for added control, especially since I doubt my audience would have noticed an adverse effect on my delivery.

The biggest thing I noticed in my speech however; is that I wasn’t nervous. At first I thought it was because I just did a speech in front of a larger crowd at the refresher over the weekend, but in thinking it over; I was not nervous because I trusted my targets!

Holy smokes! I trusted my targets! Epiphany!

I guess that is what Yasser meant in his October 30th, comment “If you can successfully apply your targets in a feared situation just once or twice, the fear of that situation will quickly evaporate, and it'll be much easier for you to apply your targets in future.” While I understood Yasser’s comment when I first read it, I think I understand the implications at a whole new level now.

Comments received from other members were overwhelmingly positive. But some constructive comments included; less reading, more eye contact, and more physical gestures. I also noticed I was reading too much and not smiling enough, but the biggest mistake I made was trying to insert something into my speech when it appeared I was going to finish too quickly. You may see it about the 4 minute mark in the video. It looks like a really bad word switch, but in fact … I couldn’t find the right word.

Over all though, I thought my ending was strong. I’m pretty happy with it. The next one will be better.

Here is my speech if anybody is interested:

Imagine not being able to trust a basic motor skill, which is used hundreds or possibly thousands of times per day. That is the problem I face, along with millions of other stutterers.

My name is John MacIntyre, and although I could talk about my wife and 2 kids, my business of database and web-application development, or my interest in financial markets; I can think of nothing more applicable to my goals at Toastmasters.

According to popular statistics, one percent of the population stutters. It may not appear to be that many, because most people with a stutter have been able to successfully hide their stutter through word switching. Word switching is changing words on the fly when you foresee trouble.

Another popular statistic is that public speaking is the number one fear, even more feared than death! But can you imagine having that fear every time you are asked your name? Or every time you order a coffee? Or every time the phone rings?

These fears are common among stutterers. Many of us have let the fear become so strong, that major life decisions are made based on speech avoidance. Decisions like your chosen career, where you work, price shopping, what you buy, and even what you eat.

Well on November 4th, I completed a 3 week program to restructure my speech pattern for fluency. The program was 3 weeks long and an 8 hour per day commitment. We started speaking at the excruciatingly slow speed of 2 seconds per syllable. 8 speaking techniques were then added to our pattern and gradually our rate was increased to approximate the ¼ seconds per syllable, which is common among non-stutterers.

As a result of my therapy, you may observe me doing unusual things, like; speaking very slowly, placing my hand on my stomach to monitor my breathing, or repeating seemingly fluent words where the execution of proper technique was poor.

If anybody is interested, I have detailed the effects of stuttering on my life, my therapy, and my goals and challenges of fluency on my blog; There is also a before and after video of my stutter.

So in summary, stuttering is a life diminishing condition and I am going to over come it. And you, my fellow Toastmasters, are going to watch me do it!

Not meant as advice, please find a qualified therapist if you are interested in similar therapy.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Transfer-Wk 5,Tues.-After therapy video

Before VideoAfter Video

Dispite the before and after image selection which may come across as looking like a bad ad for stuttering relief; I really am a lot happier now that I can speak. ;-)

Here is a video of me dicussing my therapy with my current speech pattern.

Is it perfect? No.

Am I hitting all my targets, all the time? No.

Is there a transcript? Not yet. Maybe later.

Not meant as advice, please find a qualified therapist if you are interested in similar therapy.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Transfer-Wk 5,Sun.-PFSP Refresher

This weekend I went to the annual PFSP Refresher. I find events like these help me to keep the targets in mind. Actually, I’ve found anything which keeps my targets in mind is extremely helpful, such as; the follow up therapy sessions, the Demosthenes Society, Toastmasters, and the annual PFSP Refresher.

Rommel’s Charity BBQ was discussed this morning. Basically, one of the past participants got this idea to have a charity BBQ, and took the initiative to do it. He didn’t throw it out there as an idea, but actually made the arrangements, started inviting people, and looking for sponsors. Last year he raised about $3,000.00, which covered his expenses, paid for 2 people who could not afford therapy to take the program, and there is over $500 remaining, which will go towards somebody’s therapy at next years BBQ.

The refresher ends with a speech from most of the participants, and since there are few speeches more inspiring than Winston Churchill’s, I delivered a Winston Churchill rip off. Here it is :

We shall speak on the seas and oceans
We shall speak with growing confidence and growing strength in the air
We shall use our targets, whatever the cost may be
We shall speak on the beaches
We shall speak on the landing grounds
We shall speak in the fields and in the streets
We shall speak in the hills
We shall never surrender to the illusion of spontaneous fluency

Not meant as advice, please find a qualified therapist if you are interested in similar therapy.