Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Last week I travelled to Denver, CO with my friend and colleague Jen Llado. We have been prepping for nearly a year to present our oral session Meditation and Breath Work: The Missing Link in Neurorehabiliation.

I've never been an eager public speaker and I had my fair share of butterflies before we took the stage, but it all evaporated as soon as we got going. I mean, we started out by meditating together with over 200 participants at an academic conference! What a fantastic sight!

We taught the participants a handful of meditation techniques they can use with their clients and for their own wellness. And we presented and interpreted the theory and research that supports the use of meditation for brain health and healing.

The best part was hearing everyone's insightful and creative questions and comments after we presented. There is clearly a lot of energy around this topic right now, and I was honored to be a part of it!

We spent the rest of the weekend (wo)manning our Exhibit Hall Booth, offering products and continuing ed opportunities.

The elevation leveled me, the air was so dry my skin was cracking, and after talking non-stop for three days my voice has never been so tired! But the experience was energizing and so inspiring. Stay tuned for what we have in store for you next!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

WEBINAR: Meditation and Breath Work for Clinician

By now, you’ve heard about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness.                                      
Have you ever wondered how they could
enhance your clinical practice?

Date:  1/21/16 from 7-8:30pm
Location:  Online!
Audience:  Clinicians
Can’t make that time?
No Problem.
All participants will have access to a recording of the program after it airs.

Research has shown that accessing a relaxed and meditative state of mind leads to significant health benefits including:  lower blood pressure, stable heart rate and reversed age-related deterioration of the brain.

This healing modality couldn’t be more convenient. You and your patients can learn to access this state of being at any time!

In this webinar, you will gain knowledge regarding:
·             The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system
·             The immediate physiological impact of meditation and breath work
·             The long term effects of both stress and meditation
·             The current research supporting the use of meditation in main stream healthcare

You will gain skills to:
·             Access your own Relaxation Response using a variety of techniques
·             Teach and coach your clients and patients
·             Integrate meditation and breath work into your existing clinical practice
·             Maximize your patient’s outcomes with this evidence-based modality

“If you are anxious, you can't learn. It's like dropping seeds on concrete.
With a quiet mind, people take things in.”
- Herbert Benson

Led by:

Jennifer Llado, MS, MS, CCC/SLP
Jennifer is the Founder of Bright Side Therapy, LLC.  She is a practicing speech-language pathologist with 9 years of experience in various healthcare settings.  Jennifer has an additional Master’s Degree in Healthcare Leadership and currently works as a Rehabilitation Director.  She has a strong interest in meditation, mindfulness and alternative medicine practices.  She is also a Reiki practitioner and certified aromatherapist.  Jennifer is dedicated to bringing consciousness to healthcare and leadership.  

Brenda Lovette, MS, CCC/SLP, RYT
Brenda delivers holistic patient-centered speech pathology treatment in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings including her private practice: Healthy Expression. She also coaches clinicians to broaden their practice to include alternative evidence based approaches and to maximize their own health and wellness. She holds an MS in Speech-Language Pathology from UNC Chapel Hill. She is a certified holistic health coach, Reiki practitioner, and registered yoga instructor.

Cost: $30
Includes:  access to live 90 minute webinar • recording of the session to view later • printable materials for patient education • permanent access to private moderated Facebook group for peer collaboration and discussion.

Email healthyexpressionslp@gmail.com with questions!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Healthy Communication Everyday

I often encourage my clients to spend time practicing and working toward their health and communication goals every day. I give assignments, like projects and worksheets, but there are so many ways to practice healthy communication in our everyday lives. And for determining effective practice activities, the more "functional" (based on real life tasks) the better.

I'm a firm believer in the Magic of Mirroring, the idea that everything I address with my clients is a reflection of the goals and growing edges in my own life. So working on healthy communication can be a valuable practice for anyone, patients, clients, families, Speech Pathologists, teachers, etc... So weather you are working on your own communication, you are a clinician, or you are just a "regular" person living in this communication driven world, I invite you to consider taking on some of these Everyday Healthy Communication Challenges

Tell someone what you like about them.
Share highs and lows of your day with a friend or family member
Play a language based board game (Outburst, Scattergories, Taboo, Catch Phrase)

Ask a friend to tell their version of the story of how you met
Watch a TED talk 
Have someone give you instructions for a task (navigating to a new place, cooking a dish, etc).
Watch a YouTube video to learn a new skill (knitting, juggling, changing a tire)

Use the internet to learn about a place or event that interests you
Read a newspaper article or magazine
Have a mini book club with a friend (both read the same book and then discuss)

Write in a journal
Write an old fashioned letter or card to a friend or family member
Play Scrabble

What ways do you practice communication in your everyday life. If you have been in Speech Therapy yourself, what activities did you find most useful? Leave your comments below!

Robots Writing?!

Communication is all about connecting with others. But when you throw artificial intelligence into the mix, things get tricky.

Recently, the Associated Press announced that it will be using software to generate news stories about sporting events they didn't previously cover. They already use this software for reporting on financial happenings like quarterly earnings etc. On one hand, it's truly amazing that human creativity and innovation have lead to the creation of technology like this. After all, getting robots to do our busy work has been a fantasy of human kind for decades (a la Jetsons etc). But on the other hand, the idea of computers writing for us is a little terrifying. At this point, the software (Called Wordsmith by Automated Insights) processes data and writes content that is factual and concrete, not too much commentary. We have so much data being collected and these technologies allow us to process and use it, where humans would not have the time or interest to make that happen. But this makes some people nervous, especially journalists and writers. Can a computer replace me? Could robots start reporting?

In recent commentary the question was posed: What if a computer could process language from all the great books and essentially learn to write, and then create a work of fiction with all the nuances that mark a exemplary piece. Would you like it as much as a work written by a real live human? My gut response was "No! Absolutely not!" I'm ok with computers crunching numbers to make them usable for human consumption. But when it comes to computers writing from the heart, it seems all wrong. I would expect a certain something to be missing without another (human) person's human experience put in print. What is it that makes good writing? It's not syntax and word choice, it's the art and poetry of thoughts and feelings crafted into word.... right? But I suppose that it's possible the reader wouldn't know the difference, if the technology was really that good. Somehow this makes me sad.

This argument seems to have many parallels to the tides in our culture regarding food and nutrition. After World War II, when convenience foods and microwaves became more common in our lives, these short cuts were well accepted on our tables and in our kitchens, even glorified. But now, the pendulum swings, and as people notice the long term affects of a diet consisting of processed foods (heart disease, obesity, diabetes), we turn our attention back to the traditional ways of cooking and eating. Those ways of eating that rely so heavily on technology were missing something after all, or added something in that turned out to be unhealthy for our organic bodies. Now it is much more en vogue to market and consume natural, simple, "slow" foods. We want the human touch and the purity of nature back on our plates.

The software is advancing all the time, becoming more complex and capable. But maybe we will notice something lacking in robot's written work, or something unsavory added in, like the extra sodium in processed foods. Perhaps we will find some malnutrition of the information we consume from computers. So just like in food, I propose moderation as the best policy. I'm ok with computers crunching numbers and turning that into language I can understand, but I'd prefer to keep my literature "organic"... like my strawberries.

image from: http://apps.carleton.edu/carletonian/?story_id=672108&issue_id=671869

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Hearty Pea Soup (vegan)

Warm cooked food can make you feel cozy from the inside out. Try this simple hearty soup, served with a side of saut├ęd greens and some crusty bread.

6 cups vegetable broth
2 cups of split peas
1 large onion
3 carrots, chopped
3 ribs of celery, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

  1. Rinse peas well in cool water
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the first nine ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour or until peas are tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. For a smooth soup, process with immersion blender. For chunky soup, leave as is.
  4. Serve hot! Refrigerate leftovers. This soup is even better on the second day, as the flavors set in more overnight.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Season of Slow

It's cold. And gray. And cold.

Winter in New England is lovely in its own special way. Over the years I've finally learned to layer up and dress for the weather. I carry extra pairs of gloves and hats where ever I go, and I'm always sporting a thick scarf to keep my body heat in. See, human beings are adaptable. It's one of our most valuable traits for navigating our ever changing inner and outer worlds. It seems obvious to us to change our wardrobe with the seasons, but it's easy to forget to change other aspects of our lives. 

Winter is the Season of Slow. Time to hibernate and look inward. The modern world doesn't make this shift to slowness easy though. Many of us feel the same year round pressure to perform at top speed, multitask, and expend our energy outward without skipping a beat. It requires a conscious effort to take a tip from nature and slow our pace.

If we allow it, winter can be a contemplative time of year. Other times of the year are all about growth and expansion, while the winter months offer an opportunity to look inward and reflect. This makes it the perfect season to begin a meditation practice. There are countless methods for meditation, which by official definition is to "think deeply or focus one's mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation." When you put it that way, it doesn't sound so intimidating, does it? Meditation could include journalling, breath work, or simple mindfulness practices. To read more on how to begin a mindfulness practice, click here.

Slowing down may mean something different for each person: sleeping and resting more, choosing gentler forms of exercise and movement, or eating warm foods that are cooked slowly. I invite you to take a look out your windows and consider ways you might take advantage of this Season of Slow. What does slowing down mean to you? 

Monday, July 7, 2014

29 Celeb Impressions: How'd he DO that???

This video, where the talented Rob Cantor sings an original song whilst impersonating 29 different celebrities, went viral this week. In just one week it's gotten over 6 Million views and audiences are raving. Mr. Cantor certainly has a talent for shape shifting his voice! What is it about impersonations, specifically GOOD impersonations, that fascinates us? It seems to be tied in with our excitement at being "tricked," the same human condition that makes us giddy over a well executed magic trick or makes us lean in and smile at a really good ventriloquist act. Many of us love those moments when we "can't believe our eyes"!

But how does he do it?? We are all born with our own voice, our personal and one of a kind instrument. But we CAN change the way it sounds. Some people start using their voices a different way as a compensation for an injury or trauma to the voice, and they often develop secondary problems and need to work with a speech therapist to relearn healthy vocal technique. Other people, consciously or unconsciously start using their voice differently to fit in (eg. women in politics using a deeper harsher way of speaking). Others choose to change their voice consciously to match the persona they are inside (eg. people who are transgender). And a handful of people have a natural or developed skill for being a voice chameleon, like Mr. Cantor! 

This video is a great way to explore the different parameters of the voice and discover what exactly makes each person sound like their self.  Watch the video below and then read about the different aspects of voice and communication he uses (probably mostly subconsciously) to achieve these excellent results!


Fundamental Frequency (Pitch Range): It's not that important! If you listen carefully, Cantor is not changing his average pitch much at all. The women's' and men's voices are very close in pitch range. Some men even have higher sounding pitch than some of the female voices (eg. Willie Nelson (0:45) sounds higher than Billie Holiday (1:07). However, while the length of the vocal cords (the aspect of the voice that creates varying pitches) is remaining mostly in a constant range, his voices do create the experience of different pitches based on the other aspects listed below. Bjork (3:06) sounds higher because she is breathy and forward (see phonation and resonance below) and Randy Newman (0:19) sounds lower because he is chesty and harsh.

Resonance: Probably the most crucial aspect of these impressions (and also crucial to anyone modifying or improving their voice). Resonance is where the voice is "happening" in the body. Christopher Walken (2:24) has a low front focus, giving him a "deeper" resonance. There are many other "places" the voice can be focused, and subtle shifts make a big difference. Gwen Stefani (1:45) has a high central focus, while Shakira (2:04) has a high forward focus. Kermit (0:30) and Schmegel (0:57) are both high back focused, but Schmegel is MORE back than Kermie, making them have a completely different quality.

Phonation: Phonation is the quality of the sound. Anatomically this is created by the style in which the vocal folds are coming together and vibrating. If there is air leaking out between them you get a breathy sound, like Britney (2:07). If they change shape quickly, you hear pitch breaks, like Cher (2:40). If they are coming together forcefully with other muscles around them getting involved, you hear a rough sound, like Louis Armstrong (0:35). If they come together gently with plenty of air passing through, you get a clear sound like Willie Nelson (0:45). 

Prosody & Rhythm: Communication has a melody to it and the different patterns of emphasis and pitch give many of the characters their unique sound. Christina Aguilera (2:35) has a very open, legato rhythm. While Jeff Goldblum (2:13) has a choppy and staccato rhythm. Frank Sinatra (1:13) sounds almost "syncopated."

Vowels and Consonants: Generally what we think of as a persons "accent." Peter Griffin (1:19) has the open /a/ and /r/ that are the Hallmark of his Rhode Island Dialect. Adam Sandler (1:40) has a particular aspiration of his /s/ and /t/s that makes him instantly recognizable. And all the Englishmen, like Ian McKellan (1:58) have a more closed and forward set of vowels. If you want to hear more about the British vs. English Vowels, check out this great video. 

Each voice has it's own combination of Phonation, Prosody, Accent, and Resonance that makes it sound "spot on." The above are just notable examples of each of those aspects. 

I suppose diving in to these different aspects of Cantor's performance are a little bit like "looking behind the curtain" at a magic show, but they also give us a fascinating look at why we sound the way we do. Also really important evidence that we can actually change the way we sound! Believe it or not, you are in the driver's seat of your voice and communication!