The Energy of ASHA 2011

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor was exiting the hotel elevator I got on this morning and I did a double take.  It took only a moment to register the face and cascade of hair that matched the photo from the convention program and realize why she caused me to pause.  But after hearing her dynamic presentation at the Opening Session, I’m not sure that’s what it was at all.

Dr. Taylor is a neuroanatomist.  Obviously, she’s a brilliant, well-educated scientist.  In 1996, she suffered a stroke that robbed her of speech, memories, and her ability to read, write or walk.  Eight, I’d imagine grueling years later, she had fully regained all function.  And I mean all.  Since then she wrote My Stroke of Insight and has given numerous presentations on her experience.  I loved it.  And since she does have all the scientific credentials appropriate to her field, I can comfortably report on the more “groovy” aspects of her outlook without diminishing the message.

Energy.  When she was operating all “right brain”, she was energy looking for connections.  Gone was the analytical mind, searching for right/wrong, the linear and sequential.  She was full of the present moment and the energy that she and others brought to their space.  “Take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space” was a take-away quote (one so profound it even hangs on Oprah’s make-up mirror).

More than once she said that early on, she remained in a euphoria of “I’m alive” with no motivation to “rejoin” the judgemental, serial thinkers.  That she was either attracted or repelled by the energy of others and the only way to engage her in the hard work of rehab was to let go of urgent left brain energy to entice her into action.  Energy.  Connections.  It all boils down to interactions and relationships.

And isn’t this what we should strive for in all aspects of our lives–personal and professional?  Meeting others with compatible energy forces.  Making connections.  Interacting and establishing relationships.  Isn’t this truly the underpinnings of communication?  In many ways even more than the linguistic exchange itself?

So, I wonder, was it her energy that caused me to pause?  Her self-proclaimed attitude of, “I am the life power of all these cells”, that others respond to?  Certainly it will be an insight I ponder.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Samantha Williams

    Great summation of the opening session. It was inspiring to not only hear about her journey, but also her perspective of life. It truly was wonderful. “I love your amygdala!”

    1. admin

      And you know, while the stroke and recovery have obviously had a huge impact on her I have a feeling her personality and outlook aren’t that different from what they were before. I’ll bet she’s always had a zest for life!

  2. Jena H. Casbon, MS CCC-SLP

    Back in psychology 101, I remember learning about the “locus of control” and the difference in individuals who feel powerful or powerless over their situations/circumstances.

    I don’t know about you all – but I always see the best recovery in stroke/brain injury survivors from the ones who feel control over their power to recover. I saw that in Dr. Taylor’s book and also in the interview with Gabrille Giffords.

    It’s impossible to generalize, but I’ve noticed a trend in my 7 years of practicing. The most miraculous recoveries have been musicians, professional athletes, scholars and CEO’s of companies. People who know how to meet goals- no matter how much work is involved.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Enjoy the rest of ASHA!

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The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.