Here we are at the end of 2020, friends. As the kids say, That happened.
This has been a year of downs and ups and downs and downs and (ups?) and downs. We have changed so much from where we were, and who we are, at the beginning of the year. We also haven’t changed, thanks to the way that 2020 has reminded us of what really matters, and how we’ve intentionally recommitted to the most important things in our lives during a year of turmoil.
We’re the same, and not the same. We’ve stretched, yet are finding stability. We’ve learned, but every new learning is a reminder of how little we really understand.
What have we taken away from 2020? Here’s our slice, from speech IRL.
What is the biggest lesson that 2020 has taught you (regarding speech/communication/as a professional)?
When it comes to communication, technology can be your best friend or your enemy. Zoom fatigue is real, but the fact that I am able to do speech therapy through a laptop in my bedroom is incredible
2020 has taught me the importance of slowing down. I feel like I've grown a lot both personally and professionally over the past year that I don't think would've happened if I hadn't been forced to really sit still and make those goals for myself. We're such an 'on the go' society and it's been refreshing to see what good can come from slowing things down.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I thought we might struggle as a practice because communication and speech therapy are a non-essential “nice to have”. Boy was I wrong. It turns out that in times of crisis, communication and connection are vitally important. I have a new profound appreciation and gratitude for what it means to be a communication professional.
What is your proudest professional-personal/speechie accomplishment of 2020?
I'm very excited to have completed another workshop in mindfulness, led by Russ Harris, a leading expert in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Already I am seeing added dimensions to the mindful communication work I incorporate in my therapy and coaching.
However, I am most proud of opening up speech IRL West (even in the midst of this pandemic) and growing my community out here in CA! It's been such an adventure to learn and develop in my skills of not simply providing therapy, but of running a practice, learning how to market, working with insurance, and all the extra ins and outs of business. 2020 has been the world's year of being forged in fire. I've felt that heat both as an inhabitant of this world, and also more simply as a growing professional. Learning and testing new skills is always a bit scary, but with the right guidance and some courage the results can be more than worth it. For me, the results of opening speech IRL West have been to help more individuals. These individuals are now able to find their voice, speak up when they have something to say, and connect to others in their lives. It's really been an invaluable journey.
Receiving the ASHA Distinguished Early Career Professional Certificate
I'm most proud of how I feel I've been able to reach more folks because of how much more convenient remote sessions are for a lot of people. So many of my clients have really been able to invest more time in themselves and the work they do, and seeing their progress has been amazing and really rewarding.
Honestly, my first response to this question is “that speech IRL is still here”. This is a hard time to run a business. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to recover and actually grow substantially in the second half of the year, so I vacillate between pride and survivor’s guilt, when so many other businesses are still struggling. I’m proud of our amazing, flexible, adaptable, curious, adventurous, brave team who made it happen.
What has helped you get through 2020 so far (care strategies, new workflows, personal-professional supports, clients, etc.)?
One thing that has really helped me get through 2020 is committing to specific work hours and setting aside non-work hours to relax and enjoy time with my family. When work life is so connected to home life I find this commitment to turn off my email notifications when I'm off hours makes such a difference. I am a much more engaging and attentive therapist and teammate when I am working and I enjoy the work so much more because I have the energy I need!
My clients, my fiance, my dog, my therapist, and Facetime
Taking things a day at a time, setting boundaries, and scheduling in moments of rest and relaxation for myself on a daily basis.
VALUES (things like courage, honesty, curiosity, openness, etc.) are very important to us at speech IRL. What VALUE has resonated with you this year, helped keep you going, been something to strive for, personally-professionally? Why?
A value that has especially resonated with me this year is compassion, both for self and the other. For the self, this means caring for the self, taking time for the self, and allowing yourself to make mistakes without harshly criticizing yourself. Look at it as the same compassion you would give someone you deeply love when you may encourage them to take time for themselves, and not judge themselves. For others, this means allowing others to make mistakes, to have their own ways of coping in 2020, and try to see the world through their point of view.
Flexibility. Things evolve and change quickly in COVID times, but willing to be flexible and go-with-the-flow has served me well.
Grit. Here we are. Here we go. Taking realistic stock of the present, no matter how grisly that may be, and committing to going forward with full view of the potential difficulties.
A value that has really kept me going this year is "service." When I'm having a hard day, a way I get through it is thinking about how fortunate I am to be in a position where I can use my talents and abilities to serve and help others. I've also become so much more attuned to what I can do to serve myself and make myself a happier, more well-rounded person which in turn makes me a better, more well-rounded SLP.
Professionally-personally, what are you looking forward to in 2021? (Either hoping for, or preparing for, challenge-wise)
speech IRL's elearning site for speech-language pathology continuing education and my wedding!
I look forward to more opportunities to do good. I am expecting nothing 2021, except to be surprised. I’m also looking forward to moving into our first home in McKinley Park in Chicago’s southwest side, and putting down real community roots. And Phase 4 of the MCU, obvs.