Speechie was born when I was about to turn 45. I had started that year with a life threatening infection from a necrotic gallbladder followed by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the violent attack out of the blue of the most terrible pain I could ever imagine and from the powerless out-of-control-ness of believing I was going to die, then of wishing I would die to stop the pain, of having my temple body subjected to days of aggressive intravenous antibiotics and opioids, and of ending up with no other choice except to let the surgeon cut what he must to save my life.
Three months later, when the dark cloud that had been hanging over me suddenly lifted, I realised what things really mattered to me. I ended the unhappy relationship I was in, and I stopped smoking - once and for all.
At the point of finally having conquered my nemesis (nicotine), something I had thought I would never be able to do, I understood that I could truly do anything. Instantly I realised that there was one more thing I had to do, that 'nek minnit' I would be 65, and that the time to start my own private speech-language therapy practice was now.
It has always my career dream to test and polish my skills (and rough edges) in what I regard as the professionally most pure, most exposed, and most vulnerable practice context of private service with only the research evidence, professional standards, and code of ethics as constraints, that would call forth the best SLT I could be; that I might meet the 'who-would-I-have to be' version of me.
So, I incorporated a company, resigned from my position at the Ministry of Education without having a single private client, rented an office space in Whanganui where I lived at the time (paid for from my cigarette money), and hung a sign on the door that said Speechie.
And after breaking my self-harming habit, giving up hiding and pipe-dreaming, and letting go of financial security, I became personally and professionally alive, creative, and free like never before.
Last year (2021) was Speechie's 7-year-itch year. And in reflecting on the question 'who-would-Speechie-have-to-be' to transform speech-language therapy in New Zealand, I bumped myself against a cold hard fact: While I had started Speechie with a BIG vision to increase public access to speech-language therapy, Speechie in reality was nothing more than a service for hire.
How could it have taken 7 years for me to realise this? And then I had to come to terms with an even more upsetting fact: My commitment to the vision was not 100%. My commitment was only 99%, and that is why the vision had faltered.
This was the scariest place I had been to in a long time.
So, I set out to find what must be stowed away in my soul and recognised an old familiar concern around money still hanging around from my upbringing. I thought I had already dealt with the patterning that money = greed = the root of all evil, but no. This thought process was actively operating and directly blocking the possibility of wielding money as a powerful tool for doing good.
And in the breakthrough that followed, my commitment was restored to 100%, Speechie's vision to meaningfully increase access to speech-language therapy was set free, the 'communication currency for kids' initiative came into being, and Speechie's transformation as a social enterprise was complete.
As I continue to look in the space of 'who-would-I-have to be' as a Director to move Speechie forward from here, I remember that 'they say' dogs and businesses reflect their owners.
The word that immediately springs to mind: discipline.
And instantly I know that my 2 little doglets are more disciplined than I am. I see that underneath Speechie's confident and accommodating service lies a crippling ad-hoc-ness combined with the compromising intention to 'one day' develop the systems and processes needed to support growth...
And I realise my straight-up failure to do the things I know need doing. All the while wishing for a different result. Action inconsistent with outcome. A lack of discipline. An UN-truth. A breach of integrity.
And here I meet my future me - the Director I have to be. Now.
I am looking to build a team to help me build a sustainable, subsidised speech-language therapy service for children as part of our nationwide 'communication currency for kids' initiative.
If striving for excellence is a way of life for you too, and if your nature is to find solutions where others find problems, to lead instead of follow, to search instead of settle, to create instead of exist, to give instead of get, to be brave instead of comfortable, and to be hungry instead of satisfied - if this is you, I would love you to consider journeying as part of our team in Palmerston North or journeying as part of our telehealth team from wherever you are currently based and to send me your resume and cover letter.
You can count on me to acknowledge and respond to your application and any application related enquiries - consistent with the dedicated and dynamic way Speechie stands in our relationship with clients.
You can also count on a rigorous hiring process based on lessons learned from past employment experiences until we are both sure of the right fit - consistent with leaving no stone unturned on Speechie's journey to becoming the best service we can be.
I look forward to walking with you on the path of honest exploration, evaluation, and fine-tuning of the integrity of our clinical skills together, and to sharing all the rewarding and painful growing experiences ahead - consistent with the price of excellence.