Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Very happy new year to all of you!!!

I wish all of you a very happy and successful new year. I hope the new year will be very different, exciting, revolutionary and extremely successful for all of us. May God give all of us motivation, determination, courage and strength to keep moving forward with our lives in the new year no matter how hard it may get.

A lot of things happened in my life over the last few weeks and I'll be giving you updates over the next days and weeks. Again a happy new year to all of you!

Friday, December 5, 2008

My Life

My name is Mark. I was born in the former Soviet Union on 1/6/1981. Specifically I was born in the former southern Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan. I come from a Jewish family. Both of my parents are Jewish. My father’s family comes from Europe and my mother’s family comes from Asia. Because of Soviet religious oppression, my family is not very religious just like most Jewish people that were born and lived in the former Soviet Union. Despite not being very religious, my family and I always believed in God and had a close connection with Him. We also always believed that God helped us many times in our lives.

From the very beginning since before I was even born, my life was very hard and had many problems and obstacles that had to be faced. This hardship started with my birth. For some reason my birth was very hard and was plagued with many problems. As a result my birth was complicated, unusually long and my mother suffered a lot when giving birth to me. Because of the unusual length of my delivery I was in very critical condition because I didn’t get enough oxygen. In fact my condition was so critical that I almost died. I was so sick that I had to spend the first 7-8 months of my life in a hospital. All of the doctors that treated me had no faith at all that I would live and many times told my parents that I might die. They were also telling my parents that it would be all right if I died because my parents were still very young and could have had many more children if they wanted to. Despite all of this, my parents never thought of giving up hope. Incredibly against all odds I managed to get better and survive with God’s help. Not only that, but I also didn’t end up with any permanent brain or nerve damage as a result of not getting enough oxygen during my birth. Despite my getting better and not dieing during the first months of my life, as a baby I continued to be very sick. I remember my mother telling me how for several weeks or months in a row I would have high fever every day. As time went by my condition didn’t get better. In fact it got once again a lot worse. When I was about one or two years old, I became very sick with pneumonia. At the end miraculously I once again managed to beat all odds with God’s help. Both of these times when I almost died I very strongly believe I was much closer to death than to life and yet for some unknown reason I didn’t die and instead lived. Because of all this, I believe God saved me both times when I was just a baby from almost certain death. I believe He chose to save me both of these times for a good reason. In other words, I must have something important that I have to do or accomplish in this life. I believe whatever it is, it will affect and change the lives of many people and make a real difference in this life.

As I was getting older, my life didn’t get any easier. When I was three or four years old, I didn’t behave like normal children. I didn’t speak, made any sounds and play like the normal children my age did. In short my behavior was very similar to the behavior of retarded or autistic children. Considering what my family was already through, most parents would have very easily given up and accepted that I was retarded or wasn’t a normal child. But my parents were very strong with the help from God and instead chose to work on me. They refused to send me to schools for retarded children as many of the doctors suggested. Instead they chose to send me to a therapist that tried to stimulate me to behave like a normal child my age would. At first I didn’t make any progress for a good period of time. After a while my therapist began to get discouraged and didn’t want to see me any more. Even after this my parents didn’t give up and offered to take me to her house for therapy. She agreed and after some time I finally broke through my shell and began to make real progress. Thanks to the effort of my parents, that therapist and the help from God, my progress continued and I was able to go to schools for normal children.

Despite all of the progress that I’ve made when I was three to four years old my parents noticed that my speech was delayed. When I finally began to speak when I was four or five years old, they noticed that something was wrong with my speech. After some time it became clear that I had Stuttering Disorder. No one knows why I have it since I’m the only one in my family who does. When I was young, my stuttering disorder didn’t have a big impact on me. Despite my stuttering and shyness, I still managed to communicate with people when I was in school and managed to make a few true friends.

All of this changed when my family decided to immigrate to the United States of America because of hard life and Anti-Semitism in Uzbekistan. I was about 11 years old when my family came to America. I remember that everything was new to me. I didn’t know anything, anyone except my family and relatives and I had to learn a completely new language. The first years in completely new schools were very tough. It was very hard because many people laughed at me when they heard me speak and many of them didn’t understand me when I spoke to them. By this time my stuttering began to get a lot more severe as a result of my increased shyness and low self esteem. I was also picked on a lot by bullies when I was in middle school and high school and that had a very negative impact on my mind. When I entered college my life began to get better and a little easier. Despite my stuttering still being severe, in college people seemed to not care that much about my stuttering and they rarely laughed at me.

Right now despite my hard work of many years trying to get my stuttering under control, I still haven’t overcome it completely. It’s very hard for people to overcome stuttering when it’s severe. Often when stuttering is severe, the lives of people are severely limited socially. They often only speak when they have to and avoid unnecessary conversations, especially talking on the phone. That was and to some degree still is the case with me. Because it’s a real challenge to overcome severe stuttering, I believe God has given me severe stuttering for a good reason, just like He saved me two times for a good reason when I was a baby. I believe this because I think that all the hardship, suffering and unfairness in our lives make us stronger and more committed to God. It prepares us for a future and stimulates us not to take an easy way out when things get tough and instead take a hard way out. In other words it teaches us to never give up no matter how hard it will get. This all means that there’s always hope.

One major reason why I still have hope and choose to never give up is because many people before me overcame severe stuttering. People like Charles Van Riper and Wendell Johnson had stuttering as severe as mine if not more and managed to get it under control at the end. Because of all this, I always try to practice speaking everyday with my family and constantly come up with new ways on how to overcome my negative feelings like shyness and low self esteem when talking with new people. Some of the ways my speech therapist and I came up with include calling new people on the phone, introducing my self to random new people in person and admitting to new people that I stutter. I’m sure after enough time and hard work, I will be able to overcome my stuttering disorder completely.

In life, stuttering often controls the lives of people. For example in many cases, stuttering sometimes chooses careers for people, which they don’t like. For example, suppose a person who stutters wants to become a teacher. Because being a teacher requires a lot of speaking, that person in the end instead chooses to become a truck driver just because being a truck driver involves a lot less talking. That’s not all. Since most people in the world don’t know about stuttering, they are more discriminative to people who stutter than to people with other disorders and disabilities. This also means that a lot of people think that stuttering is weird. As a result, many people don’t know how to react when communicating with a person who stutters. That’s why for people who stutter it’s a lot harder to get jobs, especially jobs that involve a lot of speaking and that have a lot of responsibility. Because I don’t want to be controlled by my stuttering like that, I’m very determined not to let stuttering choose a career for me that I won’t like and ruin my life. In my case, this will be extremely hard to do since what I want to do in life involves a huge amount of speaking with new people. What I want to do is to get an Accounting Degree and to own my own business later in life. One of my dreams is to be a CEO of a huge company like Microsoft or IBM. I know that in order to turn this dream into a reality I would have to be able to work extremely hard day and night. I would also have to change my personality and become more ambitious, outgoing and less passive. One of the best ways I came up with to accomplish these goals is to give speeches to a lot of people in the future. In this way I will not only be able to over come my stuttering and negative feelings, but I will also will be making a real difference in our world by informing many people about Stuttering Disorder. As more people will begin to know about stuttering, all the unfairness like discrimination toward people who stutter will begin to finally disappear.

I’m very confident that at the end I will succeed in overcoming my stuttering and make something of my self. I’m certain about this because I believe with God’s help anything is possible and that we should never give up. I also believe that God was always on my side and when I needed Him in my hardest times, He always was there for me, showed me the right way and helped me overcome all of my challenges. This is confirmed when He saved me from certain death two times when I was just a defenseless baby and how He continued to watch over me as I got older. All of this shows me that there must be a very special reason why I’m here in this world and that I must have something very important to do in our world that will change many people’s lives for the better and serve God’s purpose and will.