Daily Life, Self

Finding My Voice (again)

I have been trying to find my voice lately, even when it goes against what someone else wants or expects. Even when what is best for me does not fall into their plan.  Even when it makes me look difficult or uncaring.  As hard as it is sometimes, I am working on saying no or speaking up when I need to.  Here are a couple of things that recently happened:

I am at my church and one of the people are having surgery soon.  So one lady decides that she will set a meal delivery rotation for the patient. Lets remember I am coming off 5 hard weeks of traveling back and forth to San Francisco to visit my sister in UCSF and Kindred Care, all the while still working full time (as much as possible) and taking care of my own personal business. So I don’t have much energy for delivering food to someone no matter how nice they are. But I am caught, I am standing there and they hand the darn clipboard to me, and I don’t say no, I sign my name.

A few days go by and the organizer call me to set up my time in the rotation. At that point I am ready to state my truth.  I told her that as soon as I signed the paper I wondered why I would do that when my plate is so very full. I said I cannot be in this rotation but would absolutely do it this Friday, and then no more. So, a little late, but I did say my truth.  Whether it slows down the handing of the clipboard making assumptions on her part, I have no idea and do not care. My part of the equation is to stand in my own truth, and whatever happens, happens.

Next scenario, going with my sister and brother in law to her DR.appt. in SF.  First I work for a few hours, then meet them at 10:30 to head to the city. I had some breakfast before we left.  I knew my sister was overestimating her strength and that this would be a hard trip for her. She had this plan that we were going to this special restaurant on the way home. So we take off and the trip down is ok.  It’s a little over 2 hours and she held up pretty well.  Then we go the Dr. office.  By now she is becoming uncomfortable and unhappy.  This hurts, that hurts, why do we have to wait so long (15 minutes), etc.  Dr. see her and gives her a good report, she is released and does not have to go back.  All of her recovery and physical therapy can be done in our town (hurray!) Now she wants to go to the hospital and visit the nurses in ICU.  Ok, we go over there, everyone is so happy to see how well she is doing.  It was all good, She perked right up, walked for them, moved her arm. Everyone was happy, I was hungry.

Now its after 4.  I have had no food since that morning.  I get hungry.  She wants to see the cafeteria in the hospital and maybe we will eat there.  Well no,  its between lunch and dinner and the selections are very minimal.  Ok, lets head back home and we will stop at her special restaurant on the way.  Well its on the other side of the freeway and we don’t know how to get back to it.  We end up in some residential area in San Rafael totally lost. Forget that, back on the freeway heading home. We hit commuter traffic all along the way.  Now its about 6 and we are an hour and half from home. Plus I have to pick up my truck and get to my house so add another half an hour, with no food in sight. Now my sister is so uncomfortable, in pain, exhausted, just not doing very well. She no longer wants food, her husband is driving eating day old donut holes because he is starving.  He would never stop though, he will just suffer.

Ok, my sister, I know you are uncomfortable, I know you hurt, I know the last thing you want is to stop for any reason.  But guess what, I need food.  I am important also.  My body is important also. My voice is important also. Its time to feed me.  I look at the clock and I know If I don’t say something I will not get anything in my stomach before 8 pm. So I say “stop at this next town, hit a drive thru, I need to put something in my stomach”.  In the big picture it only added 20 minutes to our trip. Everyone got home fine. I and my b-in law got to eat.  But you know what I struggled to put myself ahead of my wounded sister.

Do I feel good about these decisions? Yes and no.  Mostly yes, but there was no joy in placing myself ahead of either of those women.  They needed help, I have been there for them, mostly my sister. But I took the food to L and visited with her, brightening her evening. I will go visit my sister today and provide whatever help I can.

Its easy to give away our yeses.  We get to be the hero, we get to be the good one, everyone thinks we are awesome, we get praise. And that has been raining down on me a little bit lately, I don’t hate that.  But I need to have boundaries around it.  And that is up to me.  Because everyone will let you put yourself in the background and make them the most important thing around if you let them. And that is my key, what am I allowing?  And is it good for my soul? Does it feel good in my body?  If not, I need an adjustment.  Because when i get to a place where I am doing acts and resenting them or not having an open heart around it, that bad for me and also for the recipient.

So I am working on reclaiming my voice.  My sister’s crisis is over and now her future and recovery are in her hands. I can support that, but it is not mine.  What mine is my own reality, the life I have created.  I am stepping back into it wiser, stronger, smarter, and with my voice.  I will not take on what is not good for me.  I will not sacrifice my health and happiness without having an open heart around that. I will speak up, I will say no, I will voice my opinions, I will take care of myself.  I will know every single day that my life is of equal value and I will celebrate that.  Having love and compassion for myself and others I am ready to get back to my world.


The Sound of a Voice

The sound of a voice, no two are the same.  I can be mesmerized, angered, seduced and totally fall in love just by a voice.  A voice can soothe me, calm me, excite me,  bring me to laughter or tears.  So very powerful, our voices. Lately I have been paying more attention to the voices of the people I love.  I became caught up the other day in listening to a woman speaking to me, I really listened to her voice, to the tone, to the cadence. Her voice was deeper than I expected, more mature than I remembered.  Her voice was beautiful and uniquely her. No one else has her voice.

So I thought about voices and how they bring me home always.  The ones that have passed, I long to hear their voice.  Those sounds will never be repeated in this lifetime again.   To hear the voice of my father or mother….I don’t even have words for what that would mean. To lose the voices I have in my life now, my son, my family, my friends….unthinkable, but it happens.  Tonight I had a conversation with my grandmother.  She turned 94 last week.  I know clearly how precious my time is with her.  I listened hard to her voice, no one else can ever make those sounds, those tones, that rhythm.  Trying to memorize it, knowing someday it will be gone.

Enough sadness.  How about the joyful voices, those that are here and now and bring me such pleasure.  Each a world within itself.  A certain man calls, he has very distinctive soul in his voice.  Another calls, well he is smooth as glass.  And another, comfortable and like coming home.  Everyone special in itself.  There is no comparison, no one voice is better or worse.  They all have their magic. And my family, oh my gosh.  I can hear my son’s voice right now even though he is miles away.  Same with my sister and my friends. They call, immediately I know who it is, their voice belongs only to them. Their very souls speak out through their voice in a way only they can. 

Why are the voices special ?  Yes, they are all different but so are noses and eyes and feet.  But voices carry weight.  They convey our emotions.  A voice can lift you or knock you down.  It can fill you with love and hope.  But it can also be angry and scary. Voices are a conduit to our souls.  We have to be so very careful with our words and our tones.  Words cut quick and deep and they cannot be unsaid.  And you will always remember the voice that hurt you, just as you will remember the ones that healed you and loved you. 

I am going to soak up the voices around me.  Especially the ones that come from the people I love.  I am going to listen for laughter, song, welcome, joy, love.  I want to hear that, I want to know that.  Your voice matters, my voice matters.  We are the only ones who can create these sounds.  This is ours and it is special and it is valuable.  And what we say and the emotions we convey matter.  This is how we connect with the rest of our world.  And whether we realize it or not we impact others way more than we know.  I want to speak with love and compassion but beyond that I think its important to be honest.  And sometimes honest is not a pretty package.  Its sometimes hard to speak the truth.  But it is respectful and honorable to both myself and to whom I am speaking.  So I guess when my voice is remembered they will say she tried to speak the truth and stand in a place of love. At least I hope so.

Speak with love and sing with joy.