Sunday, January 01, 2012

My New Year's resolution: Talk in a funny accent (Seriously.)

I remember as a kid I could never understand what the big fuss about New Year's resolutions was. It seemed a little silly to wait until Jan. 1 to make some big proclamation. If you want to change something about yourself, change it.

The older I get, the more I see the need for resolutions. And the more I learn about the brain, the more I understand why.

The brain organizes itself like a tree: the trunk and thick branches are the main pathways that branch into finer and finer distinctions the older one gets. So if you've been building on one habit for many years, it takes some serious pruning and reorganizing to get a different habit to grow it its place.

This brings me to my New Year's resolution: talk in a funny accent. Yes, really.

You see, for some reason people have a lot of trouble understanding me when I talk. I don't have a speech impediment or anything like that, I just mumble a lot. There are times when I can speak very clearly, such as when I use my "Trust me, I'm a reporter" voice. But that sounds much too professional to use at home.

My husband in particular really can't hear what I'm saying a lot of the time. We even had his hearing checked out, but it came back with excellent results, so it has to be me. (Though, I, of course, feel there are many times when he doesn't hear me because he is not listening.)

It would seem like the simple solution would be to raise my voice. But I feel like if I raise my voice, a bitchy and demanding —or at least angry — edge creeps in, especially if I'm making a request. So often I keep my voice quiet.

This drives my husband nuts as he often guesses at what I want or has to ask me to repeat what I've said. By the third time, I really am angry, so my loud voice sounds bitchy automatically. Thus the cycle repeats itself.

I realized in working with Malachi that it must have something to do with the muscle tone of my mouth and the fine motor control I have there. Maybe, I thought, (and it's possible I was drunk at the time) maybe if I talk in funny accents for several days, I can break up the tone in my mouth and introduce variation to the way I enunciate, eventually making my voice clearer.

This is one of the foundational principles of Malachi's primary therapy, the Anat Baniel Method: break up tone by introducing the brain to variation and encouraging new patterns to form.

Perhaps if I can keep this resolution, I will one day be easier to understand.

Just in time to teach my sons how to enunciate clearly.



Stumbo Family Story

7 comments:

  1. P.S. Yes. I sound ridiculous.

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  2. Good luck! I bet the boys are enjoying the new accents.

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  3. I love it! Happy New Year!

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  4. Oh I like this post! you do not sound ridiculous! I have done plenty of things to "help my girls" that might seem crazy, but hey, I will do what I have to do! And I will have to check into this speech thing. Very intriguing!

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  5. I can relate to this yet for me even if i talk in spainsh i still am unclear

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  6. lol. We're all sometimes guilty of mumbling and we're all guilty of not listening. Now you'll need to post a video when you've achieved your accent.

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  7. Ellen: I meant that my accent sounds ridiculous, but yeah, I feel a little nuts doing it. I haven't screwed up the courage to do it outside the house... or really for anyone but my husband. But he likes it and says he's surprised how good my accent is. Unfortunately it seems like all I can do is New Zealand as my Irish and other accents he's requested just sort of turn into New Zealand. Perhaps I've watched too much Flight of the Conchords....

    And thanks for your encouragement, everybody!

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