"PWAOUFL PHAOUFBG" ("Beautiful Music")
Welcome! Speaking Louder Than Words is dedicated to the practice of the art & science of court reporting. It is a wired wilderness where work and play come into balance via creativity and self-expression.  As one seeking wholeness, this blending of passion and purpose is an inextricable part of my life's work. Thank you; I appreciate that you're here.

The Case for a Fresh Start After Freelancing

Like the dawn of each new day brings a fresh start, so too may a court reporting career be re-created anew. After seven-plus years of self-employed deposition reporting and a brief stint doing CART work for a college, accepting a position as an official court reporter in 2019 has once again invigorated my love for stenography. For example, I’ve co-facilitated an A to Z intro to machine shorthand class to promote our profession, and it was successful, so there’s already a second session scheduled in 2020. Extra dictation practice while preparing for my RMR certification has improved my speed, and I’ve had the opportunity to build my dictionary & fine-tune my writing style since arriving at the courthouse.

I’m aware of the negative talk in the depo world about big box agencies, page rates, contracting, etc., and after speaking with a brilliant reporter down the hall, we agree that there’s a simple solution, and that’s for veteran freelance reporters to give serious consideration to filling a vacant officialship. In Wisconsin, where I work, there are currently at least 13 openings, and putting qualified stenographers in those offices will go a long way to uphold the value of the skill set that we possess.

At the risk of this starting to sound like a persuasive essay, the good pay, health benefits, vacation time, interesting subject matter, and daily interaction with amazing coworkers make me wonder why I didn’t take the leap sooner. It’s still a bit surprising how enjoyable this new opportunity is, especially considering that as a student and new reporter, I never thought I'd work in court. Things often happen for a reason, though, at the exact, right time as we are guided along our paths in life.

People who have a meaningful reason to get up each morning often do so cheerfully. I hope you’ll give yourself the gift of new experiences, having weekends truly to yourself, and making a fresh start as we uphold this important profession.

En plein air

This is an architectural drawing done en plein air while sitting outside a coffee shop over the course of two afternoons. Plein-air, according to the Webster's New College Dictionary, is French for "open air," an adjective "designating, of, or in the manner of certain schools of French impressionist painting of the late 19th century, engaged mainly in observed effects of outdoor light and atmosphere."

It was interesting how the sky and lighting were similar yet different over those two sittings, and it became clear to me that buildings in this river town have a sort of animated quality to them. I enjoy the freedom of drawing outside from life, as well as the expressive layered lines and cross-hatching that resulted from this freehand practice.

Lessons learned: Perfection is overrated, keeping the same central viewpoint is key, and it's fun to make art outdoors with friends.

Meet Pete

Meet Pete,
a statue made of concrete.

Aged over thirty, 
chipped and kind of dirty.

Getting Pete looking neat
was quite the feat.

 Now that he's complete, 

To be continued...

Cleared out

There was a frog in my throat for a while or maybe a toad.  (Ribbit, croak, ahem.)

Ah, much better.

It was a creative blockage of sorts, one where I've been making stuff yet not putting it out there.  I knew I wanted to share inspiration and shout encouragement from the rooftops, but instead I let my career and other responsibilities be the reasons for not sharing art and words.  It's much easier to place the blame on something outside of myself rather than to admit that I'm standing in my own way. I even thought this silence would keep me safe, but the harm it instead causes is much worse: self-censorship.

Now that my backlog of transcripts is temporarily cleared, I've assigned myself the task of sharing recent projects because...

I have faith in the Source
from which we've all sprung
like the sound of a bell
once it's been rung.