I’ve spent the past two weeks without my voice.
It comes in fits and starts — raspy, breathy, squeaky or barely audible. Though for a good 4 days, I couldn’t make a peep.
Every singer’s nightmare.
It used to happen to me a lot when I was in high school. My friends would tease me jovially saying, “Andrea, do your Joan Rivers voice!”
In college, it was less funny because for a while I was studying classical voice and losing your voice could mean missing a critical audition or failing a midterm.
Here’s what it means to me today.
95% of my fledgling business and the work I do that make up my livelihood rely upon my voice.
Imagine, if you will, a yoga class that I taught completely silently with a lovely meditative playlist in the background, poster-size flash cards, physical demonstration of each asana (pose) and a meditation bell to signal when it’s time to look up for the next poster.
Or a women’s forum and networking event where I happily sat in a booth and listened to the speakers but when it came time to mingle, I had only a stack of post-it notes, a pen and a smile. I even ordered water with no ice from the bar on a post-it!
Or the look on a 5-year-old camper’s face when she asked me a question and I had to squeak out that I lost my voice. She told me I was faking! Five minutes later, she reconsidered and asked with concern, “Did you really lose it? Where did it go?”
So I’ve been drinking herbal remedies by the gallon, steaming my face with eucalyptus, self-prescribing vocal rest and pouting a little… because, well, I feel limited.
It’s easy to slip into “oh-woe-is-me” mode or throw my hands up and say, “well it’s not my fault things have come to a grinding halt — I can’t speak!”
But that’s not useful.
What IS useful is to take advantage of this opportunity to pause, get quiet (ha!) and check what’s happening in and around me… to take stock. Like an obligatory silent meditation retreat!
Two days before I came down with the cold that spiraled into this voiceless state of being, I recorded a pre-season podcast episode of The Creative Impostor and talked about a spring cleaning of sorts I was doing in my professional life.
I had valiantly decided to pare down some of the services I’m offering in an effort to bring more focus and clarity to my personal brand (always a struggle for me because I like to dip my fingers in sooooo many different pots!)
The ultimate decision was that everything would center largely around my voice and supporting my clients, students and community in discovering and nurturing their own creative voices. I’m even designing a new training with the working title Reveal Your True Voice: an exploration of sound, mantra, and vocal confidence.
I felt FANTASTIC about that decision, my UVP (unique value proposition, or uniquely vibrant point of view) felt clear, strong and true. And then THIS.
My mind fluttered around from theory to theory and rationalization to rationalization.
Of course this would happen. Every time I try something new, it never works!
Maybe I’ve made a mistake and need to reconsider my direction.
It’s just a reminder to slow down and take better care of myself.
Perhaps the universe is testing my resolve to see how much I believe in this purpose.
Purely coincidence, there’s no lesson here. It sucks, just wait it out.
Who am I without my voice?
Oh God, what if this is it and my voice NEVER comes back?!
It got to the point where my boyfriend said he kept thinking I was mad at him because I wouldn’t talk and that he missed the sound of my voice.
Besides being super sweet, it made me realize how much of how people perceive us is dependent upon our voice. There is a lot of focus in our society right now on content, the WHAT of the conversation. But maybe what’s more important is even just the sound of our voice, HOW things are being said.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in the world of podcasting. As I’ve listened to hundreds of podcasts at this point, I’ve realized that the ones I come back to time and again are the ones with the best combination of engaging content and superb audio quality including the sound of the host’s voice.
There are voices I can fall asleep to and voices that energize me, voices that soothe and voices that inspire. And then there are voices that irritate me so much, I’m hard pressed to tune in again even if I really want to know what they have to say.
So I guess that’s the point.
Your voice matters.
My voice matters.
And that’s really all I have to say.