It was a long wait, but it many ways, it was definitely worth it.
Since I last spoke live at the Canadian Stuttering Association conference, a lot of things had changed. My desire to share my story, however, was not one of them.
Since my last live speech for the CSA — October 2019 in Toronto — I felt so rejuvenated that I just didn’t want to wait for my next opportunity. I was, after all, on such a high. And what made things better was knowing that the 2020 version of the conference was hitting the road in beautiful Niagara Falls.
At a CSA event in February 2020, my wife, Shannon, and I had learned that Niagara Falls would officially play host to the organization’s next conference. Unfortunately, as we all know, the world was struck with COVID-19, shutting everything down the next month. So, while the 2020 and 2021 conferences were forced to be online events, we had to wait what felt like an eternity for Niagara Falls.
Thankfully, the wait came to an end this past weekend, and, as I mentioned, it was certainly worth it.
I spoke about my journey as a person, and as a sportswriter, who stuttered, but I also had the privilege of being part of a Meet the Authors Panel. Being on the panel was an honour enough, but to share the stage with two of my mentors from the stuttering community only intensified my humility, so to speak.
Mary Wood and Daniele Rossi are two members of said community I looked up when I first reached out to the stuttering community.
Ms. Wood, who is 80 years young, continues to share her perspective of someone who grew up in a different generation where stuttering may not have been accepted, or even acknowledged, the way it is today. Still, through her life as a public speaker and as a minister, Ms. Wood has established herself as one of the most likeable and respected figures in the stuttering community.
As for Mr. Rossi, who is not much older than I am, I reached out to him before I even joined the stuttering community, if you will. I had Googled something along the lines of “stuttering books” or “stuttering podcasts” and came across a book, and a podcast, called “Stuttering is Cool” — featuring his a character he created named ‘Franky Banky.’ I was excited to find these but even more excited to learn that Mr. Rossi lived in the same city that I do. So, I decided to email him and, not expecting a response, Dan wrote back and we got to talking to the point where we became friends. Heck, he was the one who told me about the CSA and their conference.
The Meet the Authors panel was really a wonderful opportunity. I was so happy to share my story as a Person Who Stutters and as an author with those who were on hand. As for my own speech, I was glad to have the opportunity to speak to a live audience again, although I have been a bit out of practice in that regard. Still, a great time nonetheless.
In addition, I was even asked to be part of a book signing event with Ms. Wood and Mr. Rossi. I loved that, too!
Aside from those opportunities, the weekend was a great success overall. Shannon and I met some old friends as well as meeting some of those from the stuttering community we had never met in person before.
With all of that said, I am pretty burnt out this weekend from all of the speeches I’ve been giving in recent weeks and months, but again, it was worth it. There’s nothing like earning a little rest and relaxation.
Whether I will be speaking live at other events in 2023 — such as the National Stuttering Association in Florida or at the CSA’s next conference — remains to be seen. With that in mind, though, it is great to be back live and regain a sense of normality after so much live inactivity lo these past two-and-a-half years.
Overall, 2022 is coming along smoothly for yours truly and I’m certainly excited to see what’s in store next.