The Energy of ASHA 2011


brain eye to eye
photo credit: Kip May

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.

(Kim is one of the official ASHA Convention bloggers! Stay tuned for more insights from her and the other bloggers before, during and after convention.)


Kim Lewis M.Ed, CCC-SLP has a private practice for pediatrics in Greensboro, NC. She is the blogger at, providing creative ideas for speech therapy, and the author of the Artic Attack workbook series.