◆ En Route to #ASHA15

Traveling is always an interesting way to observe both how we communicate with one another, and how stress can impact communication. It can also remind you just how bizarre it can be to interact in worlds we consider familiar.

After arriving to the airport this morning, I found myself standing in line for security in front of an unusual man wearing sunglasses. He was friendly to a fault, and started talking to me despite my not having made eye contact, or even offering a 'good morning'. He wore dark sunglasses, slicked back hair, and carried a bag containing a suit jacket. Instead of a greeting, he said "I only need to show my boarding pass, right?"

We carried on in silence for a while, in part because when I travel, I like to retreat into my thoughts more than interact. Perhaps it's a means to handle the sheer number of people, though perhaps it's also because I hadn't yet had any coffee, so I wasn't feeling terribly social.

After a few minutes, he broke the silence again. "They don't have dog sniffers in Phoneix, do they?"

Setting aside the unusual turns this conversation took, I found myself thinking about my patients. How doe they handle these situations? Do my patients with aphasia try to talk when they travel, and if so, what sort of reception do they receive? What can I do to maximize their success in such situations, even in the early stages of therapy? It's so easy to take such "simple" communciation for granted.

This is a reminder to me that communication, and indeed language, are not simpley words and turns taken. It's the setting, the body language, the mental state of the people you're trying to interact with. It's the events that lead up to your arrival, and also to everyone else's arrival. It's the lights, the sounds, the smells, the stress.

I am on my way to the annual convention to meet my friends and colleagues, and to learn new things. I always look forward to this, and am excited for the advneture ahead.

★ Taking a Birds-Eye View

Last week marked five months for me at new job. It occurred to me today that in those five months, I have had only a handful of days off; two days for the holidays, and two sick days. Like many SLPs, I was a student pretty much my whole life, so I could generally count on having breaks here and there. Once I started focusing on my work in the medical setting, however, that natural break time disappeared, and I have had to learn how to build it back into my life.

I finally got the sense to take some time for me, and am taking a long weekend and heading out of town right this very moment (blogging from 35,000 feet!)1 to visit a friend I haven't seen in two years.

Now that I'm away, I'm reminded that sometimes you have to take care of yourself. And that overworking yourself does no one, yourself or your clients, any favors.

This month also marks two years since I finished grad school, and in another month it'll be one year since I got my CCCs.

It's nice to pause and look back to see how far I've come, as sometimes it's easy to get lost in just how far I still want to go.

Thankfully, an airplane ride offers some excellent time for self-reflection. And for that, I can't help but feel grateful.

1Don't quote me on that number, I'm just eyeballing it.