Loading content ...

Vikki Claflin

Interview with Vikki Claflin

Vikki Claflin is an inspirational speaker on the humorous side of living with Parkinson’s Disease. Learn the most common misconceptions about Parkinsons Disease and read about Vikki’s speaking career in this interview.

Who or what inspires you most?

I am always inspired by people who give back, who share what talents they have been given, with someone else. Each of us has a gift, whether we know it or not, and when we discover it, the only way to show gratitude to the universe is to hone it and share it with the world. I have women friends that I swear are animal-whisperers, and others who are naturally gifted musicians. Many are also writers, while a few became doctors from a childhood love of healing. We are each unique in our gifts and our passions, but they do not belong solely to us. And unshared gifts can easily be lost.

 

What got you started as a women’s humor speaker?

Many (oh, so many) years ago, I spent several years teaching product knowledge and sales techniques to beauty consultants at the major departments stores for Clinique Cosmetics. I loved conducting the seminars (they lasted 1-3 days), and I loved putting humor into their sales techniques.

After a few years, I went rogue, quit my job, and became a freelance humorous speaker on women’s issues. I did a lot of after-lunch speaking for women’s groups on the West Coast of the U.S. and Canada. We covered self-esteem, body image, wardrobe do’s and don’ts, professional make-up techniques and secrets, and other spontaneous topics as they arose. It was so much fun, and I was hooked.

 

Do you have a favorite experience from your speaking career?

A recent one comes to mind. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease when I turned 50. (Happy birthday! You have an incurable disease that no one understands. Have a great day.) Awesome. I’m currently giving 30-minute presentations at various PD groups, offering the funny side of Parkinson’s to people who are often scared or depressed. I love making the audience laugh about something that probably wasn’t funny an hour beforehand!

At one conference, I was searching for a particular word, and I stopped talking in mid-sentence. I told the group that one of the side effects to me from PD was memory loss on common words. I don’t forget words like “punctilious,” but I might forget the word “table.” So I ask my audiences to help me out. If I stop talking and seem to be searching for a common word that they all know, just shout it out.

It happened that evening, when I started to say that it was time for a short…uh…a short… and 500 people chimed out “break!” We were all laughing so hard we almost missed the break. Perfect moment.

 

What are common misconceptions about Parkinson’s Disease?

There are so many misconceptions, it’s hard to list them all. But the most common ones that I hear from people “on the street” is that 1) it kills you, 2) you’ll end up in a wheelchair, and 3) it’s not hereditary. My answers are that 1) Parkinson’s, by itself, is not fatal. You don’t die from Parkinson’s. You die with Parkinson’s; 2) You might end up in a wheelchair, you might not. The fact is that nobody knows. We all progress at different rates, with different symptoms. Everything after the diagnosis is conjecture; and 3) Medical science has believed for years that PD is not hereditary. But given the statistics on patients whose upline has or had Parkinson’s, they are rethinking that.

 

What are your biggest goals in your life/career currently?

To write my second Parkinson’s humor book, which I’m hoping to do in 2018. And to do much more public speaking about the funny side of this disease. To get Parkinson’s patients laughing at me, so they can laugh at themselves. Laughter is way better than pills to stall depression and fear. I want to help other “Parkies” love life again, even with a chronic illness.

 

What do you gain personally from being a public speaker?

Public speaking is the biggest rush I know. People ask me all the time if I ever get nervous. I don’t. I get amped. I get an adrenalin rush. And that moment in the presentation (hopefully near the beginning), when you feel that connection being made between you and the audience, that “click”, when they’re laughing and nodding, is a snapshot moment in time. Parkinson’s or not, I hope to be doing this for a long, long time.