“I have spent my entire working life with people who have communication impairment of some type. But I have come to understand that unless we are intentionally kind in our communication, we are all impaired. And we impair each other. And we impair our world.”
Warm greetings and welcome!
Greetings through the connectedness of eyes, smiles, gestures and words build our health – physical as well as emotional health. But on a website, I am squeezing written words to do the job!
I am a speech pathologist, criminologist and courage facilitator with interest in the ways in which communication and courage contribute to justice – for individuals and society. This website and its blog are purposed toward discussion of these concepts and to make connection with people and events which support them.
In 2017 I was awarded Tasmanian Australian of the Year for work teaching literacy and communication to prisoners – and those at-risk of prison futures. It is work worth talking about. For kind communication is a key plank by which to expand dignity, community safety, equal opportunity and fellow-feeling within our entire society.
“Giving skills and dignity to others enlarges and enriches us all as individuals and as community. Not doing so, diminishes us all.”
Everyone is a Story
Talking about the challenges of crime and offence, and about connection and redemption, can be difficult. But if we can steady ourselves in these conversations and deeply listen to the stories of others, remaining calm, we can be powerful in helping society to progress. While bringing others along, rather than isolating them. Or isolating ourselves. The needed tools are those which help us to become better communicators, better listeners, more self-aware.
Prison literacy is only a part of the work which interests me; but it is all tied together with this common thread: fine communication.
Championing women’s voices also matters… actually, all voices. But because modern western society has inherited some paternalistic habits, women often need just a bit more of a leg-up. As do children. And those with disability and minority differences. And… well… also men… many of whom also experience emotional struggle under the weight of unreflected societal notions of masculinity.
Courage and Communication
Hearing all of these varied voices can only be accomplished by listening. That’s where courage and communication skill are needed. It’s hard to listen to voices which we discount. Or those we don’t agree with. Or of which we are afraid or suspicious. It takes safety, courage… and kindness. We all benefit from kind attention to our stories.
Mary Oliver, wonderful poet, wrote “To pay attention – this is our endless and proper work.”
Becoming aware of the way we connect with others, is important for personal and professional growth. But it’s also important for the world. The world needs a swelling of this awareness. Because troubled communication between people is at root of many of society’s problems – small and large. And it is also a pillar in the solutions. The more we can be kindly aware, with humility of mind, of the connection, skills and power which we bring to our communication, the more we can develop ourselves and be generous toward others.
Warm connection is a driver of health, happiness, harmony, skills, productivity and ultimately, of equity and wisdom. Within our reach we can find power for positive change, which is not just utilitarian… but beautiful.
“Hope is transformational substance which acts upon our mindsets and paves a way to our dreams.”
Who am I?
I am a story of growing up on a small farm on the outskirts of the Barossa Valley in South Australia; with all of the physical activity, wonder, messiness and good health that happy farm-life brings. My early working-life took me to Tasmania. I’d hitchhiked around the island as a student and fell in love with the place. Children came along and the roots were down – so I’m still in Tassie. I miss the river red gums, the top-knot pigeons and the willy wagtails. But I adore Tasmania’s mountains, the artistry in the clouds, and the cool air laden with the fragrance of green.
In my work as a speech pathologist and through my own personal experiences of family and living, I’ve learned a lot more about how loving interaction and human agency are knit together.
I’ve learned that love gives agency. And joy.
“I know that love doesn’t actually make the world go ’round; but it is the thing that gives agency to the people who are going ’round on it. And joy.”
Speech Pathology & All the Skills of Human Communication
More than 40 years ago I began a Bachelor of Applied Science in Speech Pathology. A few years before this, in 1975, the profession had been renamed ‘Speech Pathology’, from ‘Speech Therapy’. Speech therapists of that era, forerunners and groundbreakers, had identified...
Literacy & Fairy Rings
I did a year of a general science degree before I studied speech pathology. In the unit on botany, we covered basidiomycetes (aka fungi). I learned that ‘mycelium’ is part of mushroom and toadstool anatomy. It’s a fine structure like a mass of threads that spreads out...
Champagne Parties and the Public Life
I recently came across the phrase "hall of mirrors", used as a metaphor to represent our "whimsical culture", our "fragile and rapidly changing identities" and "needing a lot of affirmation"1. I took the point and could see from the mental picture that had formed in...