|About the Author: Sybren Bouwsma – 40 years old from the Netherlands. I have been stuttering all my life and I am an active member of the Dutch Stuttering Association Demosthenes and a member of the board of the International Stuttering Association (ISA). I attended and organized several international meetings for people who stutter. I have a background in Public Administration, Ethics and Social Research and graduated as Outdoor Life Coach. I am now working as Nature Coach and Online Coach and coach people in their personal development and am involved as a workshop leader in international projects. See http://www.orangeraven.org/en for more information.|
The symbol of this year’s ISAD theme ‘Growth through speaking’ is a tree. As an outdoor life coach, I use objects in nature as a method for personal growth. To me, a tree can relate very much to my own life and the role of stuttering in it.
Sometimes I see a tree that immediately draws my attention. It can be for very different reasons, for example: the roots are visible, the trunk is very thick or thin, there are big knots in the middle of tree, the branches have a particular shape or touch the ground, one side of the tree has more or greener leaves than the other side, there are animals in specific places of the tree, but sometimes it is just my intuition that directs me to a certain tree. At first I just see the tree, but if I take a closer look I start to see it as a reflection of myself and what is going on in my life at that moment. For example, the trunk can relate to my feeling of confidence at that moment, the knots can relate to a painful moment in my life, the roots can remind me of what I try to hide or how I can be (more) visible, or a fruit can show me how fruitful (a specific part of) my life is at that moment. Often there is a link to stuttering, which can be indirectly related to my confidence or related to a specific place as a painful or happy moment in my life. The experience is always different, but it helps me to be aware of myself and to grow in a (new) direction.
I have also organised workshops in nature for people who stutter, among others for the Dutch Stuttering Association Demosthenes and during European exchanges for young people who stutter. Here too I like to work with trees. These experiences have always been very strong and powerful.
Next time you walk in a forest you can try it out for yourself, alone or with someone else. As a first step, find a tree that somehow catches your attention. Then ask yourself the question: ‘What do I see ?’ or ‘What especially draws my attention?’ If you are with a friend or relative, let him or her ask you these questions. Just describe what you see. Look and describe without interpretation or judgment. As a second step, you can ask yourself (or someone else asks you): ‘What do I feel?’. You can ask yourself these questions several times and see or feel different things. There often comes a sudden moment of reflection or association to something that is important to you at that moment in your life, that can, but may not be, related to stuttering.
In this way, a tree can be a mirror for yourself and help in your personal awareness and growth. I am curious about your experiences 🙂 !
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