The Importance of Our Own Voice

February 29, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, The Nitty-Gritty, Work | Leave a comment
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Each of us has our own distinct voice.

Each of us has our own distinct voice.

While we were out and about this weekend, someone came up to Barton to compliment him on articles in our local newspaper, but then mentioned that it was great that we write them together, implying that I wrote Barton’s articles for/with him. While I’m sure this person didn’t mean to offend, Barton took it as somewhat of an insult, because there was an implication that he wasn’t capable of doing it on his own.

So let’s dispel some myths right away: I am not allowed to touch anything that Barton writes, and if I am transcribing and miss a word, I put brackets around it so Barton can go back to edit what he meant later. In fact, I am not allowed to touch anything we write until the editing phase. It’s really important to me that when our book comes out, that others know Barton’s sections are his own writing.

Digging a bit deeper below this particular misconception can hit on an even more profound concept for those with and without disabilities. My work as a writer and coach for others- adults and young adults alike, is to provide the avenue for each person to find their own voice, whatever that voice may sound or feel like.

It’s easy to dismiss the communicative arts. I’ll get comments like, “My daughter can’t write.” Creative expression may be in a look of the eye, a cry or sound, a green scribble or a body movement. We can build these relationships and communications over time. Who am I or you to say what it should look like? One of my best successes is one of my students who told me there were no adjectives to describe love. We can build goals around learning our own voice or expression, to tell someone how we feel for example or to navigate within our community.

Recently, an episode of Switched at Birth looked at the determination and challenges of a young man learning to speak with a hearing impairment. In many ways, his learning to speak verbally was a direct reflection of his identity, wanting to relate, be a part of and connect within a hearing world.

When do you feel like you may not have a voice? It could be during a discussion of a particular issue, wanting to keep a job, in the midst of a health crisis or illness. It could be when you feel that no one else could possibly understand where you are. There are many times throughout our lives when we feel like we don’t have a voice.

For me, it was when, as a child, I would write stories under the covers of my bed or hide notebooks in my school locker because family, teachers or professionals thought my writing stories was somehow interfering with other aspects of my life. Years later I was still questioning if I had all of my childhood notebooks, still trying to claim my voice.

The vitality of owning our own sounds, words, non-verbal communication, language is an essential piece of who we are. Claim it, own it and value others who have their own voice, no matter how it may manifest itself.

Recovering the Words

February 22, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Posted in Barton's Blogs, Ramblings, Work | Leave a comment
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Since Megan and I completed our manuscript and sent it to our editor nearly a month and a half ago, I have found myself wanting to pause from writing in nearly all its forms and revel in the accomplishment of having a complete manuscript in hand. What has been interesting for me over this last month is not that the desire to write has been absent, but rather I have wanted to find a subject more profound than what I can come up with at any given moment.

It’s almost as if the faculty of my imagination needs a pause for somewhat of a recovery. Almost as though, like a physical muscle just completing a triathlon at some levels, it still begs for the adrenaline and the excitement of the exercise itself, yet on the other hand is totally exhausted and needs to recover in order to grow stronger and express itself once more, yet more fully than before.

These words I write now are the first glimpse of the recovery for that aspect of my creativity, pausing to reflect on a subject worth my time, I am immediately captured by these words and am carried off down the river of what may or may not become a revelation of true artistic talent.

Despite this unknowing, I am somehow entrusted to my own capacity for meaningful writing more completely than before, and it thrills me to know that the longer I rest and trust in the freely developing inspirations, the words begin to flow once again as the time arises. In the meanwhile, Megan and I are still diligently working on other aspects of our book publication.

While perhaps not as creative as the initial drafting, I have found that as we move into these areas, they carry with them the same excitement and hope of fulfillment as the original work did for me. It’s a thrill to know that by the autumn, we will indeed have a book in hand and be able to embark on an adventure of promoting it and speaking in such a way that will serve all those who have the opportunity to listen, share and engage with us.

Importance of Celebrations

February 22, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Our Love Story, Ramblings | Leave a comment
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Love & support brings us together.

Last week, we were on the go! Love and celebrations kept us moving forward.

Last week was full of celebrations, as February 14th was Valentine’s Day, Barton and I had met on February 15th nine years ago, and Barton’s birthday followed closely afterward.

Yet, not only was it full of celebrations, but it one of our fullest weeks in quite a while. I taught four classes during the week, Barton had a conference with several adjoining events, and a barrage of emails, conversations and other to-do’s filtered throughout the week.

After Barton’s conference, we headed over with colleagues to one local restaurant, Irregardless for a celebration dinner. Owners Arthur and Anya are neighbors, and we see them often walking the path of our neighborhood. Sometimes I’ll be out with the dogs, or Barton will be zooming off to one of his meetings. This night turned out to be especially joyous. We were greeted by Arthur and Anya, students from a local school were playing incredible jazz, we shared desserts, and had a night of great conversation full of laughter. As we were leaving, the hostess asked if Barton wrote for the paper because someone had left a note for him telling him how much his articles meant- later he put it up on his desk. What an evening!

Friday, finally we had a little time on our own, and we found ourselves just being present, sharing pieces of our week, of what we learned and ideas that we had. We chatted about the generosity of others for our Kickstarter project for Ink in the Wheels: Stories to Make Love Roll and talked about how far we could go with our project. It was a delight just to feel the quiet flow of conversation and connection.

Whatever else may be going on, whatever hurdles or craziness of life has creeped up, taking the time out to celebrate, I am learning, is so necessary.

I’m one who uses lists- I have my daily to-do list, project list, creative list- it goes on. And sometimes I have a tendency to see what’s still left on my list at the end of the day, what hasn’t been accomplished. Over time, this can be awfully daunting to only see what’s left undone.

As long as we live, we will have goals and visions, things we would love to do, places where we raise the bar for ourselves, or someone else raise the bar offering a choice on whether we will jump in or stay where we are.

Taking a breath to celebrate what we have accomplished is a vital part of the journey, not to wallow in its glory, but to pause for just a moment, become aware of where we are before moving onto the next step.

There are times when these celebrations are for momentous occasions, to be shared with others, and there may be times in our lives when we need to celebrate the simplest acts, where making it through the day is a grand step, and these private celebrations are not seen by anyone.

What are you celebrating today?

The Blessings of Breaking It Down

February 10, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Ramblings, Work | Leave a comment
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Ink in the Wheels

Inspiration for Ink in the Wheels: Stories to Make Love Roll Cover Design

I knew I was getting a cold when my throat began burning and even though I tried to gargle with salt water, it wouldn’t go away. Yet, this deviated from the normal pattern I was used to. Instead of having a sore throat for a day and then moving on, I lost my voice for five days sounding more like the wicked witch of the west- “I’m melting.”

We walked into one of the classes I teach with a sign on the white board- “I lost my voice, but don’t worry, we have a plan.” Barton was great, facilitating and moving my class forward, and still I found it difficult to keep my mouth shut. So the past few weeks, we have been bouncing projects and events back and forth, resting and yet filled with the excitement of moving forward on new opportunities.

As I’ve come back from not having a voice, I’ve had to break my day down a little bit more- vital daily deadlines, vision- the book and writing, sustainability (because yes, over the holidays one of my contracts was cut and I am looking for new work) and taking time to do one thing a day to make sure I stay healthy- and that Barton & I stay on track. And we’ve had to be flexible and go with the flow a little bit more.

We are well into our Kickstarter Campaign to defray production costs of our memoir, and we have just been awed at the support from those around us- not just financial support but thoughts, calls, notes and emails that were sent that just had us both in tears. It’s one thing to believe you have an impact, it’s another to be shown what that impact is, and both of us had to take some time to process what we do with this, especially at the profound level we experienced. And our answer is- to keep on doing what we’re doing.

Wednesday we drove down to Greensboro to drop off pictures and samples to the designer for the cover & back cover of the book, we’ve had several meetings to reach schools and parents in new ways, and we’re attending some events where we hope to make an impact. I’ve seen Barton’s delight in talking with a potential new coaching client, and I’ve experienced the love of teaching and working with youth and adults.

And for that, beyond all other challenges we may face, we are blessed.

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