Sunday, November 25, 2012

My "Why"

People often ask you "how did you get into [insert your profession here]?" Answers can vary from it being something that person fell into, something an advisor led them towards, family profession, or a certain special individual who led them towards that path.

For me, my path has been shaped by so many wonderful people in my life; however, two people in particular are to "thank" for leading me to the profession of speech pathology.

The first will be one that makes any student that had a certain AP Government class smile! Mr. Chad Coffey was single-handedly one of the funniest, most captivating teachers I have had (and I have been blessed to have MANY wonderful teachers in my life). For someone to make GOVERNMENT interesting, in itself, is a feat alone...not to mention the man easily wrangled the attention of a classroom with his tangential personal stories, then brought it back to the learning points. For those of you wondering how a government teacher could lead me to speech path, Mr. Coffey occasionally stuttered along with other speech "differences". But it really didn't matter to anyone in the class-- he captivated the classroom with his kindness, knowledge, sense of humor and smile. One day, he mentioned how he felt so lucky to be able to stand up and speak for living (implying that he was able to get past his speech challenges) and I remembered thinking, "what a profound impact...I must look into that." Needless to say, here I am today- less than one month away from graduating and fulfilling that desire a total of almost 6 years later.

The second person is technically a bit cliche, but none the less, demands to be mentioned- my sweet Mom. For those of you who were unable to meet her, I can guarantee you that you would have L-O-V-E-D her. She had the purest of hearts and was selfless, kind, caring, loving, and a darn good mom (especially considering with everything that she was personally dealing with). My Mom was a nurse before she became a stay-at-home mom and while I didn't know her during her "E.R. days", I can only imagine what a great nurse she was. She encompassed all the best qualities of a good healthcare professional -- cool under pressure, full of compassion, hardworking and smart (and every other good adjective you could think to use).

Lord knows my weak stomach and gag reflex wouldn't have made it in nursing (God bless you nurses!), but I was able to find my niche in the healthcare field where I could hopefully make an impact and bring comfort to people's lives in the same way that my Mom did.

As each milestone in my life passes, I always think of my Mom, but this one will bring a new wave of emotion. I feel a little bit more connected to her and know that if she was still around, I would be able to giggle with her over funny patient stories, talk to her with my newly acquired "medical terms" and hear her crazy stories that are similar to my own- it somehow bridges this insurmountable gap that exists.

I truly can't wait to get out there, do what I love, and think of my inspirations that started it all.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Big Empty Hole!

Well, this day felt like it would never, EVER come....but it did. It came and went faster than I could have ever expected in a million years. Comps, Praxis- they are ALL DONE!!

When I walked up my apartment stairs after being done with Praxis, I felt weird. I sat down on the couch and turned on the TV. Then I looked around with this pang of brain was telling me "YOU NEED TO STUDY....what are you doing??? Open a book!! You don't wanna fail, do you?" because that is what I would tell myself anytime I wasn't studying. Now, I have nothing to do. There is a big, empty hole.

Except not really-- there is still LOTS to do, plus I love not having to study like a psychopath anymore. I hope that all my tests went well enough that I don't really have to study ever again. The thought of sitting down for 6-8 hours and studying makes me feel like throwing up all over that very ugly, yellow Praxis book.

So now what? Time to get going on refining that resume/cover letter, looking for jobs, and start being a BRIDE again. Hello wedding planning? I forgot all about you (well, kind of).

I can't wait to catch up with you all. I feel like I have just been the worst, most self-absorbed person with all these tests. Can't wait to get back to what I love -- all my beautiful friends, family, and LIFE! 

Thanks for all the sweet texts, FB messages, and phone calls. I've said it once and I'll say it again, I have the best friends and family EVER.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My "AH-HA" Semester

Everytime someone finds out that I'm studying to be a speech pathologist, their first question is "Oh, so you're going to work with kids with lisps and stutters, right?" Believe me.. there is no judgment here; I originally got into the field to work with that very demographic. However, in my time learning about all the many specialities of speech pathology, I finally had "my AH-HA moment" as to what I want to do.

Of my 4 semesters, each one came around and I would say "I really enjoyed that" or "I am going to miss working with this group of clients", but I never knew what I REALLY wanted to do come January 2013. I finally know.

This semester, I had the privilege of working with geriatrics AND I LOVED IT. I always have known that I enjoy spending time "with the elderly" (heck, my first job was as a waitress at an old folks home- may I just don't mess with old people and their food), but didn't know if it was something I could do for 40 hours a week. I officially know that it is. Here are my reasons why:

1. They are (for the most part) an extremely appreciative group of people to work with who enjoy spending time with you and love to impart their little gems of wisdom. I, for one, enjoy their stories and hearing what "the old days" were like or hearing what it takes to have a happy, loving 60-year marriage. 

2. LOTS OF LAUGHS. You think KIDS say the darndest things?? SO DO 80-90 years olds!!! I have had TEARS from some of the extremely unexpected comments. For example, I have been asked out on a date by a 90-yr old or been told that my sandals were "pure sex". I am learning to expect the unexpected with these folks. Their filter is gone and I kinda love it.

3. I don't cry when I get yelled at. You may be wondering about this one, but basically I have pretty thin skin at times. I really struggle when I feel like clients don't like me or aren't enjoying the session; I also get nervous dealing with parents who could potentially bite my head off. In this practicum, I had my first patient yell at me. When I say yell, I mean YELL. "You're a bitch AND a witch ::pause:: AND I MEAN IT!!!!!" I kept waiting for that usual tinge of hurt feelings, but all that came was an inner giggle ONLY because I know she didn't really mean it. It's hard to take something personally from someone who is unfortunately slightly disoriented. I most likely reminded her of an old "frenemy" or she was very confused as to where she was...and that's ok.

4. I got up everyday, no matter what happened the day before, excited to go to work. In previous rotations, I have truly enjoyed myself...but I always had another factor that made me excited to go too  from other friends in the practicum, a super special sweet little client, or a really fun supervisor. This practicum, I enjoyed the down-right nitty gritties. I didn't mind getting sneezed on or having to help change some diapers. I really felt right in my element. 

In closing, I feel like my sometimes "over-the-top" enthusiasm suites me well in this field and even better with the grandmas/grandpas who just need a little extra smile to go through their often monotonous day. If anyone knows of any wonderful long-term care facilities or skilled nursing facilities, pass that information along! I can't wait for January...

...the "SOONER" really is going to be here before I know it.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Just enjoy.

My, oh my, friends. It has been a whirlwind of a month!! In the course of a month, I have both finished my 3rd semester of grad school and started my 4th, watched my boyfriend fiance graduate, and...oh yeah, GOT ENGAGED!

To say that it's been crazy/fast would be an understatement as it has been full of multiple trips (to San Antonio, Austin, and Cancun) along with phone calls, emails, and messages from all of you. If I haven't appropriately communicated my thanks, then THANK YOU!! You all have been so wonderful and supportive. I can't get over how lucky I am to have such fabulous people in my life.

The moral of this blog post is to enjoy the moment. A friend told me to enjoy each stage of your life including before, during and after the engagement and I couldn't agree more. I'm currently having a blast already starting to plan the wedding, but also in my fourth semester. I really miss the adorable kids at Parkway Elementary, but I'm already falling in love with some of the geriatric patients at Presbyterian Village North. It's a total change of PACE, but one where I think I will continue to learn a lot. My new supervisor has stressed that now is the time to make mistakes. Oh boy, she better get ready because I have a feeling I will have PLENTY of those. I think that you deserve a mino in acting with your speech pathology degree because there are more times than I would like when the motto "fake it 'til you make it" pops into my head.

If I thought this month was crazy, just get ready for the YEAR! Finish up grad school, take all my big SLP tests, graduate, find a job, get married.... yeah, I'll go back to enjoying the moment now and tackle all of that later :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

I Said "YES!": 5-12-12

5.12.12 was hands down the best day of my life. To say that it was a surprise and a day full of emotions would be such an understatement; here's my attempt at best capturing the day and sharing it with you.

This weekend was completely off my "engagement radar" because of Dustin's graduation! I am so incredibly proud of him- he has worked extremely hard and has a position lined up at Whitley-Penn as a tax accountant. I was so ready for our year "apart" (with him in Norman and me in Dallas) to be over that I was elated that it was finally graduation and time to be in the same state for longer than a weekend!

Super happy & totally clueless. 
The Proposal:
   Dustin and I are both from Flower Mound, although we went to rival high schools. Ironically, we lived no more than 5 miles away from eachother for almost 7 years and it took being 170 miles north to meet. We met at the OU gym and it has been a wonderful *almost* 3 years together. 
   Because of where we met, Dustin wanted to propose on the OU campus (unbeknownst to me). After his graduation, his family went to "REST" and he suggested we go for a walk. Being an extremely sentimental person, I was all for a walk to stroll through the campus for the last time as students. 
    We got to my favorite part on the whole campus called the "South Oval", complete with gorgeous flowers and a view of all the pretty buildings/library. 
    I ended up playing right into his hand by saying "So, did you have a good day?" referring to his graduation and all his family being there. His response was "It was good, but it could be better." Then followed a very special and "perfect-for-us" proposal.

A few minutes after the proposal. Never been so happy!

The Celebration:
    Prior to the engagement, the plan was to celebrate Dustin's graduation at Nonna's in Oklahoma City. Well, after Dustin proposed he informed me that we were going to celebrate our engagement and that he brought in some special people to help! I am so lucky that both of my sisters, my brother-in-law, my parents, and my grandmother were all there for the occasion. I'm so grateful of them making the long trip to be there!! Dustin had all his family in town for graduation, so it was wonderful to have everyone there.
     Dustin's Mom and Dad organized the most beautiful and stunning dinner. No detail was left unnoticed and I cherished every moment of it. I'm so lucky to have such wonderful future "in-laws" who are so incredibly thoughtful. It was an absolutely perfect way to celebrate the day.
     My sisters and Becky put together an adorable bag full of "bride must-haves" complete with a homemade Bridal-planning book, ring holder, and plenty of bridal books/magazines. Furthermore, they supplied a too-cute "pinterest-esque" "SHE SAID YES!" banner! It's a good thing I said yes, huh? ...kidding.

Menu plus PERSONALIZED M&M's reading "Dustin & Lauren" "5-12-12" & "CONGRATS!"
What a beautiful location and set-up!
Love my family so much!
The Ring:
    The last piece to the surprise puzzle was the stunning ring; however, it's stunning for reasons other than appearance. While we were at dinner, my Dad was making a toast and completely/utterly shocked me. The center stone that is in my beautiful ring belonged to my Mom's wedding ring. My Dad told me in such a heartfelt manner that I would love to share with you sometime personally, if you are interested.
    I'm so blessed to have a part of her that was so important to her during her lifetime; although I would MUCH rather have my Mom around instead of the diamond, I thought it was such a beautiful gesture that I will be eternally grateful to my Dad, sister, and Dustin.
    I feel that is important to mention along with this section how lucky I am to have such a wonderful stepmom in Becky. God really is in all the details and putting her in my life was the biggest gift I (or my family) could have ever been given out of something so tragic. I can't wait to plan my wedding with Becky who really is my Mom now and my best friend.

So, thank you for reading and joining me on this fun adventure. I'm so lucky to have Dustin in my life. He has been so thoughtful, generous, fun, caring, and loving to me; I can't wait for our lives together and to share with you along the way.

With love,

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Goodbyes of an SLP Grad Student

One of my least favorite aspects of being an SLP graduate student is the end-of-semester goodbyes. You have several months to get to know your patients (or this semester, students) and care about them & their progress. While you know they are going to be in the great hands they were in when you first came, it's hard to pick up and leave them not knowing what is next for them! I will be ready for the day that I am there from "beginning to end" and will be able to see the whole progression of a patient's progress from assessment to *hopefully* dismissal.

This semester is different from the rest...I don't just have ONE patient to say goodbye to, but rather THIRTY adorable little faces that I have come to care for. It was difficult informing them that this upcoming week is my last one. The questions of "when are you coming back" or "where are going--to another school?!" have been tough, but telling them I'm learning to be a speech teacher like theirs has been sufficient for most.

As my little "going-away present", I'm giving them a colorful bouncy ball with the attached note:

Being your speech teacher has been a BALL! [great for those kids working on figurative language] I'm so proud of all your hard work! Keep practicing and improving. 

Thanks for making my time at Parkway so fun, 
Ms. Lauren 

I couldn't have been luckier this semester. Not everyone has a placement that they look forward to going to everyday; I attribute this to a great school, great kids, and a wonderful supervisor who has taught me so much not only about being a speech pathologist in the schools, but how to be a better SLP in general. I have learned so much!

Time to switch gears...from the little ones to the OLDIES!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Worst Parade EVER!

My Dad always tells me "I only run if someone is chasing me"; after my second 1/2 marathon, I think I'm going to start adopting this philosophy. 

The Dallas Rock n' Roll Half Marathon was a blast, but what is up with these course creators deciding that the first 8ish or so miles should be uphill? Anyways, it was still a blast to hear the bands as we ran along and I was lucky to have a wonderful running buddy to suffer run the 13.1 with. 

Some of my favorite signs were:
"Worst Parade Ever." --> as a marching band nerd who has been in many parades, I found this particularly funny
"Run faster...I just farted."
"Lauren = awesome" --> this was not specifically made for me, but I pretended like they were my fan
Plus all the cute, inspirational signs.

Here is a picture recap of what went down:
This is CLEARLY towards the beginning of the race (mile 4, I believe). Our mojo had diminished after the ridiculous hill around mile 8-9.

We did it !! Nothing feels better than being done with 13.1- other than eating whatever you want that day and not feeling an OUNCE of guilt about that. Heck, we burned over 2,300 calories!

Dustin was SO sweet and didn't complain once about getting up early on his last day of spring break. Instead, he and Darren (Ann's husband) were there to cheer us on at mile 4, 9, and 13.1!! We were lucky girls! Now I just have to convince him to run the Portland Rock N' Roll with me some year. How fun would that be?

Well everyone, that is the end of my "half-marathon career" for now. It was fun while it lasted, but the next time I get myself into gear for running that far, it will be somewhere super fun and cool!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

SLP & Teacher Respect!

In my humble opinion, I think one of the most undervalued jobs right now is ANY job in the schools. Why? Because the immediate thought of the "all-year, 9 to 5-ers" is "teachers (and speech paths) get summer! I'd teach just so I could get a 2-month break, spring AND Christmas break."

My advice for you is don't quit your day job. Teaching and speech pathology in the schools is not for the faint of heart. On any given day, you have figuratively been a counselor listening to a student's latest meltdown, a social worker for the student who is not getting treated properly at home, a friend for the student that no one will listen to....then on top of that, you do your job as (speech) teacher.

Can I just add (as a semi-germaphobe) the addition of sneezes/coughs in your face, the sweet (but dirty) little hand grabbing yours, or if you are having a REALLY bad day you will deal with the lovely joys of those smelly *not so little* toots that make you want to pass out.

 I won't lie- I had this perception in undergrad about school SLP's that: 
     a.) they get to just play fun speech games all day 
     b.) they have an easier job on the SLP spectrum because you are going mainly going to be dealing  with articulation and some language (SO NOT TRUE!)
     c.) You come at 8 and leave your work there at 3-4

SO WRONG. School SLP's have so much paperwork, so many meetings, so many kids on their caseload that it would make your brain explode! My practicum & supervisor have shown me that it is one of the most respectable jobs in the field and they deserve way more respect/pay than they receive! 

Anyways, all this to say -- show your appreciation to all those teachers. They work harder than you will ever realize!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Post SB Jitters

Oh my..last spring break ever. I know what you're thinking for those of you in the working world -- "I don't feel sorry for you; I didn't even get a Spring Break." Fair enough. I'm lucky to be eased into adulthood.

Let's just say a mini-prayer and hope that Dr. Seuss with all his rhyming, magical wonders will be enough to captivate the attention of kids who have just enjoyed the non-demanding week that is Spring Break.

This week we will be decorating our "Cat in the Hat" Hats using our goals and playing a Dr. Seuss board game! This is easy for anyone to do/make your own master copy of a Dr. Seuss hat, then adapt it to fit whatever you want. For the articulation kids, they will have to put their target words in the hat; for the language kids, I will adjust it to meet their language needs/goals (fingers crossed that it goes well)!

Good luck this week, teacher & SLP friends!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pick your Battles

Picking your battles is important not only in the realm of the speech pathology room, but also in life in general. I'm learning this more and more as I go through graduate school and, simply, as I grow up.

Before I started doing therapy, I felt like when working with kids you HAVE to stick to your guns without fail, EVERY TIME. No talking out of turn, no comments under the breath, etc., etc. While I still think, to a certain degree, this is true, I also think that you have to pick your battles and give a little slack every now and then. Before I started my school practicum, I came from a background of "never give-in" because it shows that you are weak and that the child is going to walk all over you.

Frankly, I have learned that this just isn't true. Sure- if you give in 100% of the time, then the student (or ANYONE, for that matter) will learn that they can walk all over you 100% of the time. But there is a balance of moving on from the minor issues and handling what truly matters.

For example, I noticed immediately coming into my practicum that all the school kids there LOVE coming to speech. I also noticed that my supervisor had a different way of handling behavioral issues from what I had seen in the past. She didn't immediately freak if a minor issue happened; instead, she diffused the situation and continued on with the main purpose of being there, IMPROVE SPEECH & LANGUAGE! That's why everyone loves speech! It's fun and purposeful -- time isn't wasted on the minor issues.

I have learned that this is, kind of, a metaphor for life. Why spend time fighting every battle that comes your way or complaining over everything little thing possible? This is a WASTE of your time and energy that you could spend improving or enjoying other aspects of your life.

So, pick your battles... whether that's with your time commitments, personal relationships, or with your speech path kiddos, I think you will find your daily life to be more fruitful and your outlook to be more positive.

I'm not saying I'm a pro at this yet, but I'm working on it. Eliminating one pointless battle at a time.

Your turn...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Blog Beginnings

So, here it first blog posting! My immediate reaction is to delete my blog before it's even started because of many reasons -- most important being, that until a few months ago I didn't REALLY understand the point of one? However, just a few short weeks ago, I began spending HOURS of my life looking at blogs for one main purpose, THERAPY IDEAS. I realized that reading other SLP's blogs made me feel SO much better because I realized that no SLP is perfect, everyone has both good and bad days, and that there are a lot of very creative people out there with great ideas.

I'm not saying that this will be the most ingenious SLP blog to grace the internet, but I do think that it is comforting as a graduate student to hear from a friend that they're going through the same thing as you. Graduate school is a unique experience; it's your chance to learn, screw up, grow as a speech pathologist (**or insert your field here**) and person. This blog gives me the chance to share some of the resources that I've spent hours going through, my wonderful supervisor has shown me or (if I'm having a really great day) perhaps materials I have made myself. I'm also not saying this will be purely 100% related to school/therapy; I'm giving myself the free reign to add whatever I want, if I'm in the mood :) 

Feel free to share anything you have found or if you are going through the same growing pains. Here's to learning and one last year of graduate school. I've got my eye on you, December 2012...

..after all, I am going to be an SLP sooner or later.

lauren font. BY LAUREN(: