You don’t know what you’ve got…

I took a week off. Last Wednesday, my throat started to hurt. By Thursday morning, I was miserable and starting to lose my voice. I had to take the day off work. Friday, I sounded like a deep baritone, and the weekend left me without much of a voice at all. Amazing how we don’t know what we’ve got till it’s gone, right? I’m rarely thankful for my physical voice. I take it for granted. I sometimes raise it too much or use it in ways I shouldn’t. I joke that my family is probably thankful for my lack of a voice this last week, but it sure has been a challenge.

I’m a bit of a slow learner. In my (almost) 49 years around the sun, I’ve learned that if I don’t actually express myself, my body will yell at me… forcing me to pause or rest. My mentor warned me about this in September- that if I didn’t deal with the emotions, my body would surely let me know. This week, it has forced me to be quiet, to rest, to reflect. It has shown me how important it is to be able to communicate. How much it means to me to be heard, and how to find other ways to be able to interact with others. it has also forced me to ask for help, since I wasn’t able to lead meetings due to lack of a voice.

November is typically the month where we are reminded to be thankful. Even though we just put away the Halloween decorations, and some people have their Christmas trees up already, it’s still a good time to remember what we have. I’ve done a gratitude journal before and really enjoyed the positivity. It’s a thing that’s easy to forget about outside of November, but it makes us focus on the good. The more we remind ourselves of the good, the more good we see and attract. I can be annoyed with my lack of voice but thankful for helpful co-workers, understanding family and the ability to text instead of speak. I can be thankful for the time to rest and rejuvenate.

Are you looking for happiness while forgetting you have things to be happy for? We all do. I challenge us to have a mindful November… to use our voices to be helpful and supportive. Be kind. To others, but to yourself also. You’re worth it.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough.

Use your voice…

We spend the first few years of life learning to talk. Our parents and family members are so excited when we learn new words. They clap and cheer and smile at us. Then we are toddlers and are told to be quiet. Maybe it’s the constant questions or the “Mom?! Mom?! Mom??” nonstop that wears us down.

I’m an introvert with a Mass Communications degree. I can talk in front of a large group of people, yet I’m not a fan of small talk. I was in speech and drama in high school, and even in college. I was never afraid to speak my mind. A bit too much at times, I guess. Somewhere along the way, I lost my voice. Maybe it’s the way people looked at me if I did stand up for myself or voice my opinion. Maybe it’s the training about what should or could be said and how to go about it. Maybe it’s the years of being told what I was saying out loud wasn’t right. If you hear something long enough, you begin to believe it.

“Your voice doesn’t matter….”

“Your thoughts are wrong….”

Whatever the narrative was, it started to shut me down. So much so, that it manifested as physical pain in my throat a few years ago. I went to the doctor several times, convinced that I had something wrong. I mean, suppressed emotions can’t become actual pain, right? Wrong. It can and does happen. Your throat chakra is a thing. It’s an energy point that can get stuck when you’re not using your voice. That’s what happened with me. Am I totally fine and speaking my voice again? Some days, but not always.

Fear gets in the way. Fear of rejection, fear of driving someone away, fear of offending, fear of being misunderstood. I have a ton of conversations in my head, but I don’t always speak them out loud. I assume people are mind readers and should just know what I’m thinking or what I’d like. It’s not fair that I get frustrated when I haven’t actually spoken the words. As an introvert, it’s common to clam up and just stuff all those words and feelings inside. “Why bother anyone?” This is NOT healthy thinking. The words need to be spoken. Once I can verbalize something, then we can have a true discussion. Otherwise it’s just words swirling around in my head with no place to go.

I’m not an expert. I’m not a therapist. I’m learning as I go. I’m learning that my voice has value. I’m learning that it’s ok to be heard. I’m learning that by speaking my words, I am validating my feelings. But man, that’s still scary at times. I wrote recently about being invisible, yet I never talked about it out loud. This kept me still invisible. I’m a work in progress, friends. We all are. Some days you might need to talk out loud to yourself. That’s totally ok. That’s a validation too.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. I also wish for you to find your voice. Go yell outside if you must. Speak to your pet or talk to the mirror. Call up a friend or speak to a counselor. We all want to feel heard, but in order to do that, we have to use our voice.