Taking New Risks: The Sound of My Voice

This week I did something I’ve never done before; I recorded the Preface and Epilogue of my memoir for an audio book. I’m comfortable with public speaking, but recording in my friend, Melanie’s studio was different. Unlike the speaking I’ve done, this recording will live on, captured in audio files for people who aren’t in front of me. In the past, when I’ve heard my voice on a recording, I’d say to myself, “That doesn’t sound like me,”  (I thought it sounded like my cousin, but I won’t say which one!)

Melanie’s husband, Jeff, who worked at the controls and is a veteran sound editor, told me that nobody likes to hear their voice recorded. I didn’t give him my particular defense of why I have felt self-conscious, about the comments people have made about my Southern accent (see post-Southern Drawl). Even with feeling on edge, part of me wishing I didn’t need to do the recording, I relaxed some knowing that I was in the company of friends. I’ve known Melanie for over twenty years and when I’ve been around Jeff, he has a quiet kindness that puts me at ease.

Melanie’s a voice over-talent and the leader of our Triangle Writers Group. I’m delighted that she’s doing the narration of my memoir, He Heard My Voice. She’s been with me through the life-changing events described in my book and has critiqued every chapter. I feel so fortunate to have my talented friend work with me on this project and I didn’t want to disappoint her with my performance.

Before I started recording, Melanie helped me to understand the set up– where I’d stand, how I’d pause between pages, directions she’d give me from behind the door. There was baffling, or materials to deflect extranous noises in my recording area: foam where I spoke into the microphone, curtains and rugs on the walls and floor. All of this was new for me but everyday for Melanie.

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We worked our way through my recording in the hour that we’d scheduled. I felt satisfied when I left that I’d done my best. I remembered back to my solo journey to Iona, Scotland. There, I’d vowed to let go of some of my self-consciousness in order to move forward and be all I was created to be.

Our retreat leader had stood with us on the shore of Iona Sound and directed us to pick a rock that represented a weight we carried. After considering the burden of what we carried, we were to throw it into the water. My burden had been my self-consciousness, my perfectionism and I remember the “thunk” of my rock hitting the water. Soon after that, I had the opportunity to test out my new self and it had to do with not worrying about how I looked or sounded. (see post- Things You Leave Behind)

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Iona Sound where I’d left that rock

Now, I think that I’m making progress by letting go, following through with the audio recording in spite of my discomfort.

The point of me reading the Preface and Epilogue is to introduce my readers/listeners to my Southern voice, while Melanie’s trained voice does the majority of the work. I practiced before our recording session and decided to share with you a portion of the Preface.

Since I’m letting go of my self-consciousness, I’m not going to worry that this was done after a day of keeping my grandson, when like the recording of me at Iona, I hadn’t had time to “brush my hair or freshen up.”

I’m taking a risk, putting it out there, and praying in this–as in all things, that God will bless my efforts and the desires of my heart. May it be so for you, too!

 

 

How About You?

What do you need to let go of in order to be all you were created to be?

What risk do you need to take?

Referenced posts:

Things You Leave Behind

Southern Drawl

If It Feels Wrong

When we were children, many of us heard our parents say, “If it feels wrong, don’t do it.”  That was a way to help us judge right from wrong, that internal compass that kept us on the proper course.  Probably those first deciding points were about how we were treating our siblings– at least it was for me.  If I didn’t want to share my candy bar with one of my sisters, then the assumption was ‘being selfish’ would feel wrong and I would give them a piece of my Baby Ruth.  When I was in elementary school and my circle expanded, it applied to telling my piano teacher the truth.  When she’d ask how much  I’d practiced, then my parents assumed that ‘stretching the truth’ would not feel right. Surely, I’d tell Mrs. Godfrey how little I’d practiced, playing outside instead of sitting at our piano.

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Over the years, I’ve found that the feeling of ‘wrong’ is sometimes hard to discern.  What my parents were referring to has gotten mixed in with those uncertain feelings produced by anxiety when I try something new. I’m not talking about something new that would hurt someone, but just behavior to move in a new and challenging direction in my life.  While I can mentally evaluate a new venture and see its components rationally, the emotions and the accompanying physical feelings are harder to navigate, especially when I don’t have the advantage of watching someone else go before me.

Sometimes what is unfamiliar can feel wrong because it makes me uncomfortable, raising my anxiety that something bad could happen– so that it feels like getting in trouble as a child for doing something wrong.

Years ago, I took my summer pilgrimage to the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington.  I’d decided before that trip to hike Mt. Constitution because at its summit you are at the highest point in Puget Sound.  I wanted to experience the view from there.

While I’d read about the park and understood from their website there would be trail maps, when I arrived, that wasn’t the case.  Nor was there a park ranger station with staff to ask about the 2.2-mile hike to the top.  I had one bottle of water and was not prepared with proper hiking gear.  I was also on a very tight schedule because of having to rely on the island bus and ferry system.  I felt uneasy with no map of the trail, no one knowing where I was, and my cell phone probably useless in those remote woods.

I walked a short distance up the trail and stopped to ponder what to do.  I was flooded with emotions– fear that something could happen like spraining my ankle with no one to help or getting lost because there weren’t many blaze markers to guide my way.  The decision had to be made quickly in order to hike to the summit and back in time for the last ferry.

If I went with that lingering guideline, “If it feels wrong, don’t do it,” then I would have returned to the safety of the hostel at Friday Harbor.  I had no idea how hard the hike would be for me since it was rated as ‘difficult’ given the incline. I knew the chances of me returning were slim, and if I walked away, I would probably never see that sight of Puget Sound.

I decided to go forward in spite of feeling scared and uncertain– two emotions that definitely didn’t feel right.  After almost an hour of hiking through the ginormous Douglas fir trees, and areas that looked like a fairytale forest with fallen trees blanketed in moss, I passed other hikers who reassured me.

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Wildflowers along the Mt. Constitution Trail

I made it to the top, climbed up on the overlook tower, and couldn’t believe the expansive scene below with the little islands dotting the sound and snow-capped Mt. Baker.  Thank God I made it to this magnificent place, I thought, and felt rewarded for taking a risk.

Sometimes doing something that’s unfamiliar that creates anxiety, doesn’t pay off like that hike.  But from where I stand now, I’m glad that I’m beginning to distinguish between what feels wrong as gauged by my moral compass versus the discomfort of stepping out into the unknown.  If I’d continued to confuse those feelings, I may never have taken the risks of going on yearly pilgrimages, that unknown that is now familiar.

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How about you?

In what ways have you confused a feeling that’s new for you with one that you may have been warned about?

How would pushing beyond that uncertainty benefit your life?

Happy 100th

This is the 100th post since I started my blog with WordPress almost a year ago. When I published the first entry on May 31, 2017, I wasn’t looking ahead at the hours of work involved when I made the commitment to posting twice a week. I had no clue how much effort it would take to create each entry and find the accompanying images– didn’t figure ahead that with 52 weeks in a year that would be 104 posts!  I just jumped in and have learned by doing– the method that’s best for me.

I guess no matter what you do 100 times, you probably get better at it– or at least it’s more familiar.  It helped to make a commitment to regularly producing my posts, the twice-weekly deadlines forcing a new discipline in my writing.  Once I made the announcement that I would publish them on Wednesdays and Sundays, I had to stick with my decision.

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That was a real challenge when I took last year’s journey.  In Paris, I had problems with my computer and had to use the hotel’s.  The keyboard was different in France, and I struggled with finding the right key– pecking out a word at the time, barely able to complete that post before we had to leave for the train station.

On Iona, the wifi was difficult to access from the Abbey and I had to walk down the road to a hotel lounge.  Instead of getting to explore the island in our free time, I ordered a pot of tea and hurried to write my post before I had to be back for my evening kitchen duty.  But some of that was a labor of love because I wanted to tell you in real time what I was experiencing so you could be with me on that journey.  There were pictures of the stunning beauty of the island that I couldn’t wait to share.

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The shores of Iona in the Inner Hebrides, Scotland

One of the things I’ve had to let go of in blogging is my perfectionism. At first, I was afraid to make a post without having my writing group take a look. I’m not the best at grammar or punctuation, and I often miss spelling errors. But I couldn’t wait for others and I couldn’t afford an editor. I would do my best and hope that what I have to say, and my desire to inspire and encourage would outweigh my errors. You’ve been gracious as readers to overlook those flaws.

Many of my posts have been from portions of my memoir that is the story of my simultaneous struggle with a toxic job and cancer that’s interrupted by a serendipitous trip to Sedona. That journey-turned-pilgrimage was life-changing and became a template for the six that follow in my memoir and the seven that will be covered in the sequel.  Because I’m working on publishing my book, I need more time for that project.

So, now that I’m fully aware of how much time goes into each post, I need to cut back to a weekly production that will be on Saturdays. I appreciate you all for being supportive readers and will let you know when my memoir’s available.

At times posting twice a week has been easy, other times it’s been hard, but always it’s been rewarding when I hear from you that what I’ve said has resonated with your life. It’s brought me joy when I hear that my words have inspired or encouraged you.

Thanks to everyone for your support for my 100 blog posts.  I’ll talk with you again next Saturday.

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What about you?

What new challenge do you need to jump into?

If you have done that in the past, what did you learn after a significant amount of time about the process and the product of that challenge?