Thoughts In A Coffee Shop

I feel like a different me. And now I look like a different me.

I can say confidently that I am happy with the recent changes that I’ve made in my life. The decision to change my job wasn’t one that I took lightly. It was something that was building up for some time, and with a new school year approaching, I couldn’t wait much longer to either stay or go. I couldn’t sacrifice my self-esteem and happiness for another year. What does happiness have to do with it?

Every thang, as far as I’m concerned. If you’re happy in your place of work, everyone wins. But time after time, people stay in positions they hate because…(insert excuse here).

One of the books I’m currently reading (All About Love) talks about happiness and work. “Doing a job you hate assaults your self-esteem” and although I love what I do and the families I service, I could not stand the COMPANY I worked for. The amount of work and extraness was something I was not prepared for. I felt like I was playing catch-up since I started. I didn’t trust the authenticity of the people I was around. I felt like the environment was superficial, my well-being was a concern only to the extent that it would affect the company negatively. One thing about me is I’m a perfectionist. I self-assess way too much. It’s a gift for employers and a curse for people who can’t shut their brains off about what they could have done better. Either way, the decision was final.

And I am here now. The roller coaster of events that followed (spearheaded by a bitter and disgruntled boss) were a test of managing anxiety, of keeping “dramatizations” in my head under control, and of reminding myself that I would get past this. That I wasn’t crazy for wanting more, and knowing I deserved better.

Now I’m on the over side of that mountain. But the “what if’s?” are still present. As I delve deeper and deeper into my new position, I am getting an opportunity to learn more and more about myself and I am learning that finding the “best” setting for me is going to take some time. If I have to keep finding different settings to see what fits, that’s okay too. Plenty of people in my field do it, because they can. I’m not apologizing for my happiness.


MOTS: Don’t sacrifice your happiness because you think you’ll disappoint someone.

Thoughts In A Coffee Shop

Know Yourself. Know Your Worth. (Tips for NEW Professionals)

FullSizeRenderGraduate school prepared me for many things clinical but this past year my job prepared me for lessons that can’t be taught in the classroom. Life lessons. Namely: contracts, work environment, and overall satisfaction.

Back in July of 2014, I promptly accepted my first job offer as a clinical fellow in speech language pathology. At that point, I had been out of school for one month and ready to begin working. I moved out of my first over-priced apartment in DC, was sleeping on my mentor’s daughter’s bunk bed, and was so ready to begin the road to supporting myself on my own income! I now consider all the factors and pressure I put on myself at that time, and wish I would have taken my time before signing my name. Simply put, I rushed in and made mistakes.

I decided to write this post to offer some tips on what to do AFTER you rock the interview and receive an offer letter/contract. I made mistakes so you don’t have to!

1. Listen to that little voice! I cannot stress the importance of TRUSTING yourself. That voice rises up when something doesn’t sit well, sound right and cannot be explained to your satisfaction. Heed to your intuition. It normally doesn’t steer you wrong.
2. Let a seasoned professional/mentor read your contract. Find someone who has no ties to the company (unbiased), and has more experience with contracts than you. They can draw you to red flags, and explain language that may elude you so that you understand exactly what you are getting into. Contracts are generally hard for lay people to read, unless you’re versed in lawyer talk. Don’t feel bad asking for translation. If you still don’t understand, ask the hiring manager for clarification until it makes sense to you.
3. If you need time to decide, don’t be pressured into deadlines. Employers use this tactic to try and get you to commit to something before you’re really sold or have had enough time to thoroughly understand the contract. Be wary of any company that gives you a tight deadline (i.e., 2 days) to make a decision on something so very important. Kindly request more time to make a decision, if they seem antsy to lock you in, this should be a red flag. Clearly this is also very important when it comes to waiting on other offers and when you’re trying to consider the pro’s and con’s to particular positions.
4. Speak up for what you want/Develop a Back Bone. Contract negotiations can be a bit intimidating, but in the field of speech language pathology, therapists have an advantage. Currently, there’s a higher demand than licensed and qualified professionals and when there’s an offer in your hand remember that THEY NEED YOU. You, however, have the advantage to choose from plenty of jobs that are available. This mindset helps develop the confidence you need to get exactly what you want.

Other Great resources can be found online:

18 things every SLP Must Know to Choose the Best Job

Interview Tips/Questions (School SLP)

General Pediatric Questions

Preparing for the Job Search (CF)

Here’s to hoping you learn from my lessons!

Happy job hunting!


Post about my CF:

Open Letter to Future CF’s

Contracts and Cupcakes

Limbo: Post Grad Thoughts

Know Yourself. Know Your Worth. (Tips for NEW Professionals)

She’s Terrible, Horrible, No-Good Very Bad Day


Today started as a typical morning except that a headache woke me up. I proceed to take some Aleve as I usually do for headaches or cramps. I’d woken up earlier than usual and I decided to start getting ready so as to be “paperwork” productive with the remainder of the time I had left. I usually do not wake up early to do work but I am always thinking about “time” to steal out of the busy day to dedicate to paperwork. This has been the case for a couple of months now.

An hour later, I realized the headache had not gone away and I was feeling nauseated. Had it been what I had to drink last night? I didn’t drink anything out of the usual. Food poisoning from dinner I made? No, that takes 24 hours to set in. I could not put my finger on it. I decided to drive to my group therapy and pray that I felt better before the morning was over. I had an observation set for today at my school site and still had evening clinic. The nausea got worse with the heat and bumpiness of the ride. I really hate throwing up, but I’m aware it’s the doorway to feeling better sometimes. I wasn’t going to force it though. When I arrived to therapy, I decided to stop at the pharmacy and pick up some Peptobismol and water. I don’t drink enough water, which I’m sure does not help. I would only take the Pepto after I let my body try to figure out what it was going to do. If I needed to expel, I figured I shouldn’t take Pepto to stop that from happening. 2 hours later, nothing happened but I still felt horrible.

I drove myself to my school site, and decided I would call out of evening clinic. I could not imagine driving for another hour in that miserable state. I somehow managed to see the three students I had to do make-up for, was observed by my supervisor, got her written feedback, finished my documentation and called it a day.

The drive home was still uncomfortable and the traffic didn’t help. The headache felt really strong and the nausea made me feel like any sharp turn would cause me to react. When I made it home, I had never been happier walking through my door. I took off all my clothes, turned the AC up and laid in bed. 2 hours and a thunderstorm later, I am here typing how I survived my terrible, horrible, no-good very bad day.

It wasn’t all bad, however. During therapy I got to do some releasing which had been overdue. I wish I could continue my therapy once a week every week, but unfortunately work gets in the way. I started to think how stressful life has been to the point and that I am burned out. I’ve heard this term used before when it comes to my field, I just have never been able to identify the symptoms. I am sure the today’s extended discomfort was in part due to exhaustion, work overload and extended stress. I’ve always been able to manage a sense of having a lot on my plate but today my body said “Nah….chill out.” And I’m glad I listened.

She’s Terrible, Horrible, No-Good Very Bad Day

Open Letter to Future Clinical Fellows…

Getting ready for therapy...
Prepping for therapy…

I really thought about documenting my journey through the Clinical Fellowship (in Speech Language Pathology) better. It was hard to turn my intentions to actions while navigating through a new schedule and responsibilities. I doubted authenticity due to A) I’m not anonymous and B) I wanted to write something that would encourage others, but I didn’t want it to force the “optimism.”

HI, you brave soul that made it through graduate school!

In reality, there’s no one word to describe my experience; it’s not black and white. It’s been the joy of a parent tearing up because her daughter can pronounce her name correctly (“You gave her her identity”) to a young non-verbal patient dropping his pants and peeing all over the rug we were playing on because he didn’t have a word for “toilet.” It’s being terrified of sharing current levels of performance during an IEP meeting to sharing with team members the results of testing and making goals and recommendations with professional flair. It’s learning what it means to be a part of a “school culture,” including to state your name and keep saying your name until the staff begin to use it. It means having your mini iPad stolen in a school building 3 weeks after receiving it as a gift. It means hearing a student ask “Ms. Clarke, are you gonna get me today?”

Point is, every day won’t be a great day but there is something good to every day.

This has just been my experience. Nothing can really prepare you for your unique road to certification, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek to find the best setting for you. Hopefully graduate school externships helped you narrow down what you like and what you don’t like. There are things that you will have to learn on your own. What I can confidently say is, you can do it. You’ll get through it. And when you don’t know something, you’ll find an answer (the same way you HAD to when you were in graduate school.)

I am 3 months away from Certification; the last step to full autonomy as a therapist. Half of me wonders where the time went, the other half remembers how stressed I was during the search, the interviews and the on-boarding. The transition from waking up late and wandering into a classroom to having to be prepared for meetings and to speak professionally about what is best for a particular student given his or her disabilities. We wear many hats as speech and language pathologists. On any given day, you may be called to be a counselor, a disciplinarian, a motivator and a listener. Communication is tied into so many parts of our lives; it is easily taken for granted.

Even still, I wouldn’t trade this profession for the world. I can’t wait to see what new positions, heights and new little patients will teach me as I get some years in this field. Today I’m taking some time to relish in the process. Don’t forget to stop and be thankful for getting to this point, many wish and pray to be where you are. You chose a field that is full of life-long learning and you are well on your way.

Don’t stop pushin’,


Open Letter to Future Clinical Fellows…