Some years ago I lost my voice for eighteen days. As someone who loves a good natter, is always singing and laughing loudly and often, the experience was a revelation. It also couldn’t have happened at a more inconvenient time – I was involved in the launch of a major community event, which included a series of live interviews, and I had landed my first role in a musical (Polly in Beggar’s Opera) which was less than a month from opening.
I fought the loss of my voice for the first 15 days, rasping my way through interviews, conversations and lyrics. It was an annoyance to some, sexy to others, but eventually, even I tired of not being able to navigate my way through life with the tool I had used with confidence for as far back as I can remember – my voice. Finally, on day 15, during one of those husky engagements, an old friend questioned whether there was something more to my vocal weakness and asked – “what aren’t you expressing?”
To which I immediately thought, ‘where do I start?’
The fact is, I’m a bottler. If you’re also one, you will know exactly what I mean. We shove that cork in as hard as we can and then bounce around like nothing is wrong until finally, ‘pop’! For me, on that occasion, everything I had been holding in was finally bubbling up to the surface and I was choking on my own unspoken fears and doubts.
On top of all the amazing new adventures and doors opening in my life, I had recently quit my job, I had a new flatmate who wasn’t working out (to put it mildly!), and was deeply grieving the death of my canine companion, which was followed a few days later by the death of my grandmother. It felt very much as though my foundations were experiencing a magnitude 9… and so, that one question triggered a landslide of emotions and self-reflection, until finally amidst all the din of change I heard my inner voice (you know the one) and it said “Listen to yourself”.
And so I did.
And in doing so, I took a voluntary vow of silence (for a whole three days, but still…) and quietened my world.
By the end of the first day I felt strangely liberated from the meaningless communication that so often clutters up the day. My musical Producer had been surprisingly supportive of the decision, which empowered me further in the art of saying ‘no’ – in ways I have never truly understood or appreciated. I was also surprised by how patient people were with my pen and paper ways (also, it’s amazing how many guys you can pick up in a bar without saying a word), and in turn seemed inclined to be succinct yet gentle.
By the end of the three days I had also formulated ten new guidelines for my life, which years later I still adhere to and can highly recommend. So without saying any more…
- Speak your mind – allow your spirit to be the filter, not your ego.
- Allow your voice to soar in song – because life is too short to hold back the song that is within you.
- Trust that you will be taken care of.
- Open yourself to receive.
- Unveil your heart to those you care about.
- Unpackage the little person you have become and allow yourself to become a spiritual, psychological and emotional giant.
- Take time for yourself before it becomes an imperative.
- Say no – and enjoy it.
- Only do that which supports the person you are evolving.
- Trust and let go.