Finding My Voice.

I found a certain ‘release in life’ when I found my voice.

What keeps us from saying things we really want to say? Well, oftentimes we may feel less than or we feel imperfect. We feel like no one really wants to hear what we have to say, anyway – so we don’t say it. Sometimes we are really afraid to say what we want so say also for fear of rejection or how others may challenge us. Sometimes we lose our voices because we wind up in situations where we seem to be drowning, and the best place to go is to “go numb.”
Well…let me say this… sometimes what we have to say may influence or help someone else to change the world.
Words are powerful. God framed the world with them. Take a moment to think about that: this world was actually framed with words! That’s pretty powerful to think – that the things which we admire and see daily – people, places, nature – (the Seven Wonders of the World)- animals, the sun and the clouds … were all formed with words!
I have always known I had a voice… but would rarely use it.

Let me explain: I grew up learning that you don’t tell everything, because others may find out then you will be embarrassed. And I had had enough embarrassment in life, not to want any more of it. I learned early on that when I spoke up, I may not be received, and so I would refrain… for a time. I also thought people might not believe me. Of course, this was deeply rooted in the messages I had received growing up. Not that any one person taught them to me… but I learned that great challenge would come with having an opinion. And at a certain time in my life, I avoided challenges.
Another piece of this dynamic is the ‘oppressive space’ that silence provides. Silence… I have learned just from living a while… kills one’s personality. For years, I quietly kept silent with my voice and it cost me years of suffering. It caused my personality to not flourish and several of my hopes and dreams to be put aside. Even though I sat silently, my spirit was not silent. I as able to find myself and my true identity, through my writing. I have been journaling now for maybe 31 years. Recently, I picked up a diary I wrote in when I was about nine years old. My passion was definitely evident in my writing! I was very surprised my voice and my passions were so profound!

I encourage you today; don’t let your dreams be hindered by silence. If you or your child has something to say: post it on a wall, a newspaper… (or the refrigerator). You can even create your own newsletter project with your child… for the word to see! Teach them to express their opinion, and if they don’t know how they feel about something .. challenge them to formulate an opinion. This a great time to influence them with your family values. It will stay with them a very long time. And it may even safe them from a lifetime of hurts and unfortunate consequences.
I remember how it felt when I was fifteen years old to be “Writer of the Week” in my ninth grade English class… I was acclaimed an “awesome writer”… I won a prize, my writing entry was posted in our school magazine, and my picture was up for a week in the Writer’s Hall of Fame. I felt famous! I doubt if that hadn’t happened, I would be sincerely aspiring to write a book today.

That is, until I learned that having a voice, meant that you could change someone’s mind, their attitude, and shift their thoughts, if you only spoke up about what you believed. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn this until I was about 35 years old. I learned this in a very supportive, open-minded and promising environment that encouraged and nurtured my leadership. An organization called: (The National Coalition Building Institute.) In this same forum, I did not know I would also meet my future husband. And gladly so …, because he has helped continue to form and shape my identity and adult life.
Once this skill was taught to me… I flourished! I didn’t settle for less anymore, I realized some people felt the same way as me, just never had the courage to say it. I also realized that the youth I worked with in school as a school social worker – flourished as well, because their having an opinion and having that opinion validated, made them feel important. I have learned in working with children, that children need affirmation and validation. They need to be encouraged and told that what he have to say is important, and they need to think about how the words they say will affect others. Some of the children I helped encourage in my small groups with exercises on leadership – began to walk a little straighter, smile a bit more, and speak up and say what they felt and their futures began to look a bit brighter. This experience definitely increased their self esteem as well.

I suppose I wrote this today to encourage you to help you, or your children find their passion. I have worked with children who have pent up feelings, and have never learned to express or communicate how they feel. I tell you,…They are an accident waiting to happen.

Finding your voice can also help you and your children find resolve. ‘Resolve’ is an excellent feeling to have. It affirms our choices, makes us more confident, helps us to know and understand ourselves, and trust ourselves more.
What are you teaching your children today about speaking up and finding their voice?
They watch is. If your child gets angry, upset about something that happens with a friend, or even in school or with someone close to them… have them write it down, journal, communicate or draw a picture about it. Help them to express their feelings. At the heart of every passion is a feeling. Help them find something they really care about, study it, take a stance on it – and express how they feel – and then encourage others to think the same. And as a parent you can model this behavior so they learn how to express and deal with their feelings, as well. Seek to solve your own problems. Talk to your children about problem-solving, who you talk to when you feel down, and tell they why you share with the people you do. Children need help discerning who they can trust and how to share and express emotion. If they don’t learn from their parents, who will they learn from? Help them find a place where they can be encouraged to express their mind, thoughts and opinions in a safe non-threatening environment. Create a climate where they can find truth, and you can rest in it well, yourself.

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