Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Yours is a voice that needs to be heard

Someone left a comment on my blog last week and it said, Yours is a voice that needs to be heard. Those words keep resonating inside my head. How many of us were silenced as children? Children should be seen and not heard, etc. Even those who were not sexually molested or abused in some way, as I was, were probably silenced at some point. But when childhood is stolen, the voice that should have, could have, would have been, is muted.

For so many years, I found it difficult to voice an opinion. Afraid others wouldn't like me if I disagreed, I'd go along with the majority--sure, I liked the movie, song, book, whatever. Oh, you want to eat Indian food, I love Indian food, whether I did or not. A chameleon adapts to its environment, changing colors for protection.

When I began taking singing lessons in 2005, my voice was that of a little girl, yet I was 56. It was a huge piece of my healing process to identify that. As I sang in front of others, I learned about the patterns of shutting down I'd formed at age seven. Unable to tolerate being the center of attention, I became quiet, unobtrusive, if you don't notice me, I won't get in trouble.

Now I am performing in front of 20, 30 people at a time. And not just in group songs. I sing solos, which is very brave when you consider that I don't have a great singing voice. Why am I doing this?

At first I thought it was because I've always loved to sing. It soothes me and brings me joy. Now I know it's much more. It's the metaphor for what the commenter said. Yours is a voice that needs to be heard. But it's not just my voice--we all need to be heard. The greatest gift we can give another person is to listen to what they are saying--really listen and hear, not just the words, but what's behind the words, what's not being said. Ask questions to clarify and draw someone out even further.

My memoir gave voice to the pain of my childhood. The singing gives voice to the joy and contentment I've found in adulthood. My writing gives voice to all of the above and so much more.

What does your voice need to say? Who have you not been listening to? Let your voice give a shout out in the comments today.



Cyndi said...

Excellent post Karen. Like you I learned to be invisible. I figured if they couldn't see me/hear me then they wouldn't get mad and I would be safe (also enter people pleasing mode here too). Just when I think have completely gotten over the self-silencing and people-pleasing, I'll do or feel something that reminds me it's still a work in progress and my always be. Taking steps, as you are with your singing, is huge and a helpful way to rid ourselves of this invisibility cloak that we put on when we feel like that scared little kid.

Maribeth said...

Excellent post. I know for sure why writing is so important to me. Thank you for that.
Back in the day, way back, some instructor gave the class these personality tests. They told if you were Gamin, Exotic, etc. Forty people in the had a category, I did not.
She informed me that I had no personality that I was a "chameleon". It took me years to get past that and even more to find myself. Myself is pretty cool. I've learned to love me and so have others.

Mason Canyon said...

Very inspiring post. I'm not one to "voice" my opinions very much. I'm more of an observer.

Thoughts in Progress

Joanne said...

I love the way you use your "voice" wholeheartedly in different ways. I get the feeling that when you sing, people are inclined to sing right along with you. So much of what we do creatively is an avenue for our voice, with our words, photographs, sewing, painting, you name it. I guess in that sense, we're multi-lingual!

KarenG said...

I grew up so quiet that people constantly commented on it, "You're so quiet." bla bla bla. I heard it constantly. I'm still quiet in certain settings, more of a listener than a talker. But I learned to express myself in writing. That's my voice.

Marj aka Thriver said...

What a wonderful, inspirational post. And so true! I'm glad you're singing. That sounds like such a brave, exhilarating, joyful thing to do!

Karen Walker said...

Cyndi, it's nice to know how to become invisible if we need to, but it needs to become our choice.
Maribeth, how cool that your "self is pretty cool." nice place to get to, yes?
Mason, it's okay to be an observer. I love to "people watch." I just needed to be able to voice my thoughts when I need to.
Joanne, I love that -multi-lingual - yes, yes yes
So glad you found your voice in writing, Karen G. Me too!
Marj aka, so nice to "meet" you here. I checked out your blog - let's stay connected.

Helen Ginger said...

Such a great post, Karen. I wonder, do you feel your blog has given you a voice? You reach a lot of people this way and you're speaking up for yourself and letting your voice be heard.

Straight From Hel

Karen Walker said...

Thanks, Helen. Yes, I do feel this blog has given me a voice. It still boggles my mind that people I've never met are checking in and reading what I have to say. It has been an important part of my stepping out and speaking up for myself.

Marvin D Wilson said...

Well written and good admonition. My voice is talking a mile a minute right now in my WIP, but mostly through my characters.

Jen said...

I just recently learned that my voice wasn't being heard. It's nice to be heard over blogger but in real life I'm painfully shy, even around my family I am distant and the nerves get the better of me when I'm in a room full of people I don't know! I've decided to fix it and I plan on taking some classes to overcome my fear!

Wish me luck!

Karen Walker said...

Thanks, Marvin. Can't wait to hear what your characters have to say.

Jen, I so wish you luck. I completely understand the nerves thing. When I first started singing I was paralyzed with fear and could only warble off key. Somehow, working on the singing made talking in front of people so much easier. Go figure.

Ann said...

Finding your voice is a journey in itself. I found mine with my blog. I was afraid to show anyone my writing efforts for fear of ridicule. My confidence has been building with each post.

Glynis said...

My childhood was a 'children should be seen and not heard' one. Since the age of 42 I found my voice. I sing in the form of words on a page. Not very well, but they are mine to shine.

Good luck with your singing.

Patricia Stoltey said...

This is interesting. Finding our voice relates so strongly to our writing aspirations. And it's a strong part of why we're here doing this blogging thing. Do men ever have this problem?