You don’t need a voice to communicate

Dear Readers, I am a talker and I Loooooooove to talk and in recent years I have become aware of how much more important it is to LISTEN. But, I am human as much as I hate to admit it, (Thanks Keya)

Coming face to face with this sometimes takes an event ungoverned by me because if you are anything like me, you go 80 miles per hour 24/7 and wonder why you’re tired or get frustrated when your body rebels and you are FORCED to pay attention.

This was never more apparent than last week. I lost my voice. This sometimes happens to me when I am faced with stressful situations.

The last time was when I was really revved up for a job interview. In fact, I had three scheduled and the night before, I lost my voice. I drank water and sprayed “Singers Saving Grace” like my life depended on it and yet, morning came and no voice. I rescheduled all three explaining the situation and everyone was very understanding, to my great relief. As it turns out, I wound up not getting ANY of those jobs.

But back to last Wednesday, I was preparing to sing at Poppa Joe’s memorial service which was in Philadelphia, his hometown.

Wanting to do him proud, I was rehearsing and prepping for it and out of nowhere on Wednesday, my voice was a little scratchy, so I made it a point to talk less in efforts to conserve said voice and hoped for the best. I drank a lot of water and rested my voice as much as I could. Thursday I woke up even raspier so total silence which is a neat trick when your job is recruiting, and I have an understanding team who helped support me. That night, I wordlessly communicated with my daughter and continued to rest my voice. I observed her talking a lot more in my silence.

Before I went to bed, I said a fervent and silent prayer that I would wake up all better before heading to the airport.

Sadly, that was not the case, so I said to myself, no sense in stressing, (the softer equivalent of the useless but popular “Don’t worry about it”) just keep on with vocal rest and water and we will see what happens. I also meditated and listened to my “wake up and kick bahookie” song, though it was ridiculously early (hello 4 am!)

I am a very bad Austinite because I forgot ACL (Austin City Limits) was going on, so this was my view Friday morning at 5 am- OUCH

First, I am grateful I am always early, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying to wait. Have I mentioned how much I HATE to WAIT? (more on that in a future post, friends)

But back to the present, I was deeply grateful to not have my adorable 3 year old in tow because 1 hour in line by yourself is a lot easier to handle sans energetic and restless child despite her ever-present charm.

Things would also have gone better for me if I had gone to the bathroom BEFORE getting in the very long line that snaked its way through the terminal I would have been a LOT less stressed. As it was, I watched as people who were concerned and voicing said concerns loudly about missing their flight got angrier and more stressed and took it out on TSA. I let several people go ahead of me because I was super early and they were on the verge of missing their flight, not their board time. I was very relieved to walk to my gate as we were boarding which is still a little too close for my comfort but it is what it is.

I do my best to always find the lesson in things especially when stressed.

All of this “silent communication” allowed me to truly observe and listen intently to what others had to say. Even on Friday night, when I thankfully got my voice back, I was judicious with talking and into Saturday as well. It afforded me the opportunity to truly listen as people told stories about Joe and how he had touched their lives. I am very clear on how much Joe meant to me, but it wasn’t until hearing person after person exclaim,

“Oh, you’re Sunshine”?!? that I truly knew how much I meant to Poppa Joe.

It’s still unbelievable to me that this tower of strength is gone. Just like that. I went to see him when he was a few days away from the end, I got the phone call he was gone and it still didn’t feel real. I would love to tell you singing at his memorial finally drove it home, but it didn’t.

It wasn’t until just now, as I wrote this sentence, I realize I can never call him again. He won’t ever crankily point out how much I am in error for despising beer. He won’t ask me how my TED talk is coming. He won’t ask about Jeremy or Vivienne because he can’t.

We will never have “further words” again.

The point?

Simply this, dear readers.

Who do you want to communicate with that you have avoided out of stubbornness or pride?

Who have you been missing but not reached out because you are scared of a little awkwardness?

I think it’s unfortunate that it takes a death to bring this message home, and sometimes that is what it takes for us to tell people how much they mean to us. I have definitely started saying it more to those I love in the last few days (You know who you are…..)

“No one has a voice like you, no one has your stories, your words, your experiences.”

Share yourself, share your voice.

I learned this weekend, that even without a voice, I have a lot to say.

Think About It.

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