Are You Living Intimately With A Stranger? I was…
Are You Living Intimately With A Stranger?
“I only sing in the shower.”
“Oh, you don’t want to hear me sing.”
Not a week goes by that I don’t hear someone tell me…
“I am not talented like that.” or, “My choir teacher told me to mouth the words… you know… peas and carrots… I have a terrible voice.”
These replies sadden me… but for a deeper reason than you may think. It resonates with me, for I understand the mindset.
The beliefs that most of us have about our voices are deeply planted, affirmed, and societally accepted. Despite my world-class training and lengthy performance resume…
I have felt intense shame surrounding my voice.
It is no accident that my business is called Rejoice In Your Voice™. This name was given to me during a desperate search for direction, a prayerful plea of “What do I do now?” Apply for that bank teller job? Work as a photographer? What about marketing?
The answer flickered like a tiny candle in a dark cavern. “No, Tricia, rejoice in your voice!”
“What? Are you kidding?”
You see, this was my greatest fear, my pain-point, my deepest vulnerability.
For years, I had abandoned my voice. Set it aside… diverted, distracted, and dodged my love for singing. It was painful for me to live with a desire and an instrument that that was the source of so much frustration and confusion. The leading roles kept coming, but there was an insecurity regarding my voice and a battle between heart and ego.
From my perspective, I had tried everything; thousands of dollars spent, years of commitment, world-wide opportunity, and lucky breaks… that weren’t so lucky. I felt like I had given it my all, but after the stage door slammed, the truth remained that I was not where I wanted to be. I didn’t know where I was going.
I still didn’t truly know my voice.
The inner bickering was incessant…“My voice doesn’t sound how I want. It reacts unpredictably under pressure. It is fragile and weak and at the same time huge and loud. Why can’t I be like so-n-so… Why was I given the desire, but faint realization?”
“If it was meant to be… why is it so hard?”
I began to be afraid to practice, to learn new music, and eventually, I even loathed the sound of my own voice. I stopped going to the piano, to the notes, to my songs.
I was living intimately with a stranger.
How did this happen?
Along the way, I had come up with a set of beliefs about my voice that were extrinsically motivated, justified by my intellect and rooted in perfectionism.
This threesome cleverly wrapped up all my innocence, hope, and creativity, and tied a suffocating bow labeled “Struggling Artist.” I was so immersed in my “failures and disappointments” that I stopped creating all together.
I was a mom. I was a volunteer.
I was a fixer of everybody and everything but me.
For me, a life-changing shift happened when I felt things couldn’t get any worse. I was hopeless and had come to a dead-end… but now I see it was a fork in the road. Thankfully, I was given a choice.
It was there that I asked and listened, mustered enough courage, took unknowing steps toward that flickering candle, and bravely and unapologetically acknowledged my deep love for singing.
I secretly whispered my deepest love, “I love how singing feels.”
Not how it thinks, not how it acts.
Not what others say about it.
…but how it feels to make sound; that deep vibration of music in my body, the poetry of the words on my lips, the imagination of the character, the truth of the story, the sharing, the tears, the discovery, the freedom, the process, the joy.
It was not a degree or certificate, pedagogy book, or a high soft palate that reignited my passion, but rather a surrender to what I deeply loved, loving it with all it faults… I learned to “make a joyful noise” and celebrate it.
And I ditched comparison entirely.
Yes, my voice is at times unpredictable, fearful, or loud. And yes, at times my voice is powerful, connected, rich, and beautiful.
Like a mother’s child, I love every bit of my voice, because it is mine.
I untied my own vicious knot and have gone from victim to victor. From starving artist to thriving artist. From shameful to thankful.
I feel deeply connected to my voice and sing with more ease and freedom than ever before.
I live in the feel. I meet my voice where it is each day…which is ever-changing.
I release judgments and cherish the imperfections.
I truly believe that anyone that can talk can sing, and that it is not necessary to mouth peas and carrots.
I believe that it is our divine inheritance to lift our voices and share our song…
That our voices are both the map and the compass! And the destination is personal and unique for everyone.
[Tweet “Your voice is both the compass and the map!”]
Your Rejoice In Your Voice™ Assignment
Perhaps your voice is weighed down… or tied up… by criticism, fear, frustration, expectation, and perfectionism…
Will join me in a different approach to befriending your voice?
– Get quiet
– Look for that faint flicker of candlelight
– Ask and listen
– Go to your pain-point
– Visit your vulnerability
– Dig deep for the truth behind your fear
Whether you are a professional or a novice…
1. What are the judgments that you have surrounding your voice?
2. Write them down.
3. Ask yourself, who would you be without these beliefs?
4. Next to each judgment, rewrite it to represent your deepest desire… no apologies.
5. What would you whisper to yourself?
6. What love would you acknowledge?
7. What would you celebrate?
8. What journey would you take?
You deserve to know your voice intimately; to make friends with the stranger.
Your voice is both the compass and the map!
I would love to hear from you. Share with me what you think or feel in the comment section below.
And feel free to share this post with a friend!
P.S. Would you like to take voice lessons?
Email me today for your free 30-minute singing lesson and voice assessment in-studio or via skype – my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to hearing from you!
July 3, 2014
Oh this is so beautifully written Tricia. It’s amazing how comparisons can steal our joy isn’t it? Thank you for being so brave and open with your struggle. I”m sure you will give courage and hope to others who are doubting who they are and who need to connect to their love of singing too (or whatever their passion is!).
July 4, 2014
Thank you, Bonnie 🙂 It was scary to put this out there! The few seconds before I clicked the “publish” button was a little unnerving. But I know I am not the only one that is struggling in this way and after making some tough but wonderful choices, I am soooo hooked on this life of joy and connectedness that getting vulnerable now seems a fear I run to embrace. How cool is that!??! Big hugs to Bonnie as you follow your passion and help others do the same!!! xoxo
July 3, 2014
Tricia, so delighted that you ‘rejoice in your voice’ and that you saw the small light within you. Then you allowed the light to grow.
Each of us has a special unique gift or talent to share with the world. Sharing your gift helps make the world an amazing place and give you a great career. Thanks for sharing this post to help others to inspire them as they search.
July 4, 2014
Thank you, Cindy 🙂 I so agree with you… sharing our gifts, no matter what those gift are, is beautiful and heart-filled work – a win-win for everyone! Thanks for your words. Have a wonderful holiday weekend!
July 4, 2014
I found this article very moving Tricia. You have a beautiful way with words, and the pictures you use are so lovely. I found my eyes welling looking at that tiny candle in the darkness.
I seem to face that stranger each time I stand up to sing, but always decide to open my mouth anyway because the angel on my right shoulder says so! And approaching 40, I find confidence and doubt seems to be more of an issue now. But then I hear the voice of a friend from long-gone years who says “you have a gift” and “singing is praying twice”, and so giving up is never an option.
I also believe that we are all wired for singing. And I love that you named your business “Rejoice in Your Voice” – it reminds me to always focus on being happy while singing and to keep going.
You have warmed our hearts again Tricia. So glad you shared your personal story with us – thank you.
July 4, 2014
Thank you, Therese, so much! And thank goodness for the angels on our shoulders. My mom often would reminded me of St. Augustine’s saying… sing and pray twice. I love that so much. In my studio I have a angel art piece right at my piano – What a gift and comfort these images and words are. I am so happy that you are sharing your voice and allowing the joy, prayerfulness, and love overcome the doubt. So wonderful and inspiring to me. Big hugs and loves to you. We are on this journey together! Blessings!
July 6, 2014
Hi Tricia, Thanks for your encouraging words!
I’m wondering whether you may post a future article/video about 1) how to improve breathing and 2) coping with singing in cold or hot weather? (Or perhaps if this will be covered in your future DVD/audio product).
I sang on a cold morning recently, in an even colder building, and my breath left me completely when hitting the high notes, resulting in more tension and inadequate breath support. Subsequently a great fear of high notes seemed to take over. Oh dear, I’ll keep reading this positive blog and try to forget it! Sometimes, I know, we can also be too hard on ourselves, but any advice would be gratefully received! 🙂
July 27, 2014
Thanks, Therese, for your questions 🙂 It is interesting that you bring up the breathing… you must be reading my mind. Several people have requested this focus as well. I am beginning this week to create a breathing course. What I love about this topic is that no matter the level of awareness – we can always go deeper 🙂 Stay tuned and I will let you know when it is done. The point about the cold and hot weather is a good one as well. I think of all my accompanists that have to play for me in cold churches or venues… to get those hands warm was a tough. It is true, it can affect us as well… so sorry you had that experience. I have been there. A couple of things come to mind… I am not sure of your process before you sing but did you do a physical, whole body warm-up prior to singing? Then adding some vocal warm-ups while you are moving? My body temperature is naturally on the cold side… so I really have to get moving before I sing. I even gently jump up and down shaking out my hands and feet to get the blood moving. Another thing I would try would be to pace yourself through the phrases so you could intake your air through your nose. This would warm the breath, before it goes over your vocal folds. And one last thing – my acting teacher would have us do a “tropical” visualization… spending 5-10 minutes increasing our overall body temperature by imaging we were sitting in the warm sun… engaging every sense… smell, touch, sight, hearing. Hopefully this gives you something to play with. Let me know how it goes! xoxox
July 7, 2014
This is gorgeous writing, Tricia. Even your language is musical. I have intense admiration for anyone who pursues the performing arts. I don’t think that there are many other careers where your expression is judged so harshly and so frequently by others. It’s fantastic that you returned to singing spurred by pure love. Congratulations.
July 27, 2014
Thank you so much, Lori, for your kind words. I so appreciate your comment. I couldn’t be happier – I feel so fortunate! 🙂
July 8, 2014
What a lovely, soul searching article! This is a beautiful story.
July 27, 2014
Thank you, Dorothy!
July 28, 2014
Thanks Tricia for your advice re: singing in different environments/temperatures. Yes, the physical and vocal warm ups is something I regularly do (eg. stretching, humming, etc.). I think the body just wasn’t warmed up enough that day, and so nerves then kicked in as well! It’s been much better since though. The tropical visualisation is a new one and will certainly help! Thank you 🙂
September 6, 2014
Tricia, lovely article and amazing story. Thank you for sharing it. I could relate to the story not just from the literal use of the voice but “our voice” in general – how we express our selves in all we do… Letting go of comparing, shame, etc. is so freeing and powerful. Thank you for the story that speaks in many ways. 🙂