I’ve been thinking a lot about Voice…as a metaphor, as an act, as a unique expression of oneself.
Every time I sit down to write, my voice sounds different as the words fly from my fingers. While I sense my voice is different, I imagine those of you reading my posts on any regular basis feel I have a ‘voice’ you recognize as different from any other…or maybe not. As I consider that, I wonder if it matters. What does really matter when it comes to speaking that which must be said?
Just yesterday, my dear friend Jeanne wrote, in her blog the barefoot heart, about voice and her experiences finding hers. I love Jeanne’s voice. It is unmistakeably hers.. Jeanne writes that she wonders what her ‘right sound’ is:
“do i forget funny and stick to serious, reflective tones? do i keep trying the funny, knowing that writing humor is different from doing humor? do i do both â€™cause i am both?”
Jeanne’s words struck a chord within me. I am becoming more confident in my writing. Same as with Jeanne, much of that confidence I owe to the women I have met on Twitter that have embraced me and my Voice with such love and support.Â I notice that my voice can change from serious, spiritual, funny, loving, and sometimes powerful and intuitive. Sometimes I write sludge (feels and sounds a lot like internal processing on the page, something the roommate in the head likes to sell) …sometimes clarity and truth.
Writing is an interesting practice. And I know I don’t even know what will come out when I sit down to write. I can try to force things, but that never feels right.
Writing from my body helps. My body speaks truth, as do all bodies. If I remember to drop down into the body, truth flows.
And there’s still fear present when I write.
What’s the fear about?
For me, the fear is not so much if others don’t like my style or writing abilities. The fear is about the repercussions I might face if I write what is deepest in my heart, some of which is:
- the beauty and sacredness of the female gender and the sacredness of our sexuality and female bodies
- the possibility for women to discover that they are the sacred feminine, and for men to discover they are the sacred masculine
- the devaluation of women and girls and the violence perpetrated on the female gender
- the constant bombardment of demoralizng images, messages, interactions that women and girls face in their day-to-day lives, meant to keep us dis-empowered and depressed
- the pain that men feel as the dominant gender where the effects of patriarchy still hold sway
- the absolute importance and necessity of healing our mother wounds, and the wounding of the Big Mother, our divine planet
- AND the vision I see of the way things could be if we realize, before its too late, that we are all really divine in human clothing.
And the fear comes from simply speaking out as an act in itself. As Miriam Greenspan writes in Healing Through The Dark Emotions:
Fear for women is not an enemy to be conquered but a warning track that says: Go no further. It is the demarcation line that points to the bounds of possibility and permissible female behavior. If you’re a woman and you don’t use fear to limit yourself, there is an implicit threat of violence.”
I came across another post yesterday by BrenÃ© Brown titled, ” I’m Pretty. Pissed.”
In her post, BrenÃ© writes about two friends and how they were attacked after writing opinion pieces in public forums. She offers up 8 points of advice to women who are speaking out, in hopes we can avoid the kind of attack her two friends encountered.Â Make sure to read her full post to reap the benefits of her great advice.
“In my own decade-long research on authenticity and shame, I found that speaking out is a major shame trigger for women.
I can see BrenÃ©’s words clearly in my own conditioning and know these powerful forms of conditioned control have played a part in my journey to becoming a writer that can and will speak that which has to be spoken.
The main reason I’ve posted this today, is to speak to what I think is an important community of collaboration and support for the feminine voice to be heard: social media networks – Twitter, Facebook and whatever else you might find that helps you connect to other women that are heading the call to stand up and speak out in these times when it is critical for women’s voices to be heard.
Creating community to speak and listen, is imperative. To have a vehicle for women’s stories to be spoken and heard is critical. Women speaking out is what is being called for right now. Women supporting other women is what is being asked of us right now.
As Jeanne wrote yesterday,
“see, usually iâ€™m a little too tentative, too scared of smackdown to post anything i feel like isnâ€™t going to be well received. but since being on twitter, iâ€™ve met women who make me feel comfortable enough, safe enough to mash â€œsendâ€ because i know theyâ€™ll be patient and accepting…”
When I read Jeanne’s words, I felt this connection, this witnessing of story, of voice, of truth by one woman to another. This is where we find power. I saw myself in Jeanne, saw my own struggle to stand up, to speak out, and to know, while doing so, that I am part of a family of women.
One small point here that is of utmost importance: Not all women are supportive of this. Many men are. BrenÃ© comments on this, too, saying: “Donâ€™t blame men. Men are as likely to be offended by cruelty as women, and women are as likely to perpetrate it as men.” I have found so many deeply honoring and supportive men on Twitter and Facebook, men who write to me expressing joy and respect for the words I write. And, I’ve had women deride me for the same words.
This point is important, AND there is something that needs to happen by women coming together, to tell their stories aloud, to witness and honor, to hold each other in reverence and awe, to see the sacred face of the divine in each other’s femaleness, wisdom and pain.
You see, I could have picked any one of my village of women – Jeanne just happened to write something yesterday that sparked something in me. I was so taken by her words, by what was happening inside her, and I value being witness to the stories she writes about her heart, her life and her wisdom, just as I value these very things that are born from all women. This is one of the most creative aspects of having a village. We are connected. We witness. Our hearts can break open by empathizing with the other as she unfolds her sacredness onto the page.
So, here are some ideas to hold as you speak up and out.
- Just start. Write. To yourself, to others, on a blog, in a journal, by letter, anywhere you can write, just write. Let the fire in you find its way out onto the page.
- Write and speak from the body. It doesn’t lie. write/speak from your instincts. your intuition.. (check out the book, Writing From the Body, if you want to know more about this.)
- Trust that your voice will emerge if you just write the words that want to be written. Know that your voice will change, will flow, will find its own way. Your genius will emerge. It wants to be heard.
- Know that not everyone will agree, and not everyone will find your words meaningful.
- Find your village of women to support you. Search the social media halls for women who have a penchant for topics your voice likes. Reach out to them. Read their words, and if they truly resonate with you, comment, friend and follow them.
- Know that you don’t always have to agree with your village in order to support their work. What if we women stood by each other, in solidarity, simply because we know and understand how hard this process is and how important it is each woman be heard. We’ve all been conditioned to the hilt. What if we stopped judging each other’s conditiong, and held each other as the powerful woman we know she is?
- Hold the paradox of being in community and learning the ‘way of surrender is about remaining vulnerable and finding the power of no-protection” (Miriam Greenspan). At some point, we all must find the place of balance between the two, somewhere on the continuum that works for you.
I share from my own experience. I’d love to know what has helped you.
As I open to this paradox, of knowing I have my village of women, and knowing the power of no-protection, I find truth finding its way.
21 Replies to “There’s No Voice Like Yours”
Yet another eloquent post–and so practical. While I loved every word, number 6 on your list of ideas about speaking out and up resonates with me the most. I come from a conservative, Southern Baptist background and as such was often “conditioned” to judge and “stay away from” people who did not ascribe to my set of beliefs. After I went away to college (and encountered people from many different walks of life), I realized that those kinds of attitudes were just flat out wrong.
I’m still a Christian. I’m still very active in a (Baptist) church in my town; but I have the learned the value of acceptance, love and respect for everyone–regardless of their beliefs–regardless of whether I agree with them or not.
No one, no matter what religion, belief or set of values they ascribe has ever won anyone over in an “argument” (though I much prefer an intelligent dialogue over an argument) by being judgmental or unwilling to agree to disagree.
I am thankful to have found you and the other wonderful women I’ve met while wandering the social media halls. There is such support and reverance for one another amongst this group. Whether you agree with what another says is not what’s important, it’s about holding space for others while they find their voice, and speak their truths. Just knowing that there are people doing that for me, makes all of the difference in the world. It’s made me think more, feel more, write more, voice more, and show my heart more.
It amazes me how connected we are Julie! Earlier today I was contemplating the nature of this mysterious writing as it pours out of my heart and body onto the page. It is as if the words suddenly grow roots in our bodies and blossom in the bodies of us all connecting us more deeply. I love this post calling us to write from an embodied experience of life and share it in the community we find when we reach out. It’s a joy finding each other and witnessing each other’s blooming! I am so happy you are part of this magical circle nourishing mind, body and soul in the arms of the Feminine.
Thank you for this post, Julie. I have been thinking often lately about the nature of speech and the ways in which we alter our voice depending on audience. Just today I wrote about the different faces we wear and the ways in which these facets shape our identity.
Since leaping into the blogosphere last fall, I have felt constantly nurtured by the community of (mostly) women who have surfaced, offering me support to speak with whatever voice I choose. And, even when they don’t agree with me, they challenge me in a way that is both thoughtful and accepting. Their questions elevate my own thinking. I daresay it is the first time I have felt comfortable speaking in my own authentic voice.
I love what you say, Julie, and as a writer who splatters her soul on the page alongside the words, I know it can be a tough yet also beautifully accepting world.
I had a similar discussion recently and I said, “Why not put first thoughts where others can read and grow from them?” Just yesterday (though it feels like decades ago) I posted a free write from my women’s writing group. The women cried and laughed as I read aloud and one of my friends said, “Julie, we can always count on you to be real.”
In the writing workshop I facilitated here in Bakersfield last Saturday, we were writing from the place you describe as a part of the VDAY 2010 event here – you know, Eve Ensler’s VDAY where money is raised to end violence against girls and women… and I was astounded, as I always am yet don’t know why I am… to see and experience the longing the writers had to be heard, to be witnessed, to be seen.
It was different to watch in person. I have been facilitating on line groups and teleclasses for more than 10 years. Experiencing it in person was grand.
Thanks for an evocative post, m’love.
Keep your pencil moving. Hear your voice as you write. People are listening.
oh, wow, julie. i hardly know where to start. first: thank you. thank you for validating my words, my work, my feelings here, now. thank you for being one of the trees in my forest, standing tall to provide shelter and hiding space when i need to sort things out or eat nuts and tree roots and stuff for strength. thank you for giving voice to so many important things about being female that don’t involve or require apology or explanation or an old tactic i am all too familiar with: second-classing ourselves before “they” have a chance to because it doesn’t sting so bad when we do it to ourselves first.
you are so right: power is in bearing witness one woman to another. we don’t all have to agree on every teensy little thing – wouldn’t that be boring? but we don’t have to argue, shun, or smackdown either. there are much better ways to grow and stretch and feel better about ourselves, so many other ways to step into our power than by mashing down somebody else, a nasty little tactic i call self-elevation at the expense of others.
i have never felt more affirmed than i have since rejoining twitter in december 2009. i’ve met you and so many other women i adore and with whom i just resonate. i flatout resonate. we drink from the magic well of abundance, knowing that the water tastes differently to each one of us, yet it still provides much-needed hydration; knowing that just because one of us dips a cup into the well doesn’t mean there’s less for others, no – just the opposite: drinking from this well creates more.
i love the book you refer to, writing from the body. i love what you’re creating here. i love that we’ve met, love that we’ve created this rafter of women who hold the space for and bear witness for each other. and most importantly i love and am constantly loving you.
thank you, darling. thank you.
Okay, so basically Jeanne already said all I was going to say, so what I have left is a simple thank you – for speaking your truth, time and time again, and holding the light so that I, for one, stumble a little less in the dark. xoxo
A string of my latest blog posts have told the story of the very recent death of my mother. I found it helpful and healing to be able to write about my experience, but I noticed a pattern: I always focused on the poignant and acceptable expression of my grief. When I found myself writing a draft that included sarcasm and anger, I questioned myself about posting it, thinking of someone who once suggested most of my blog posts were good, except for the ones where I whine. Then I thought, this is ridiculous. Nobody objects if a man writes something that’s negative or edgy. If a woman does it, she’s ranting or whining. Why on earth would I be tentative about this — on my own damn blog? I published the post anyway, but what struck me was the fact that I had this internal dialogue about whether I should or not.
Amen, Amen, Amen – to everything you said, Julie – and to everything each and every commenter said – ohhhhhhhhmyword – thank you for your writing, thank you for your heart!!
Jennifer – what you write is so beautiful “I have the learned the value of acceptance, love and respect for everyone.” It is indeed a key understanding for how to create community and understanding in this world today. I am so glad to know you, and know you are in my village of women.
Olive & Hope – “itâ€™s about holding space for others while they find their voice, and speak their truths. Just knowing that there are people doing that for me, makes all of the difference in the world. Itâ€™s made me think more, feel more, write more, voice more, and show my heart more.” Oh my. Your words make my heart smile. To know you are showing your heart and speaking your voice means so much. Watch out world!
Marjory- yes, a joy. we are connected. that’s exactly it. one sprouts word roots here, another taps into those and words are born, then another reads those words and new truth comes forth. We are creating together, in a rhythm that we can’t know until it comes forth.
Kristen – “I daresay it is the first time I have felt comfortable speaking in my own authentic voice.” Well, Hallelujah! Hooray for us all, that we get to be witnesses of your authentic voice and drink it in to nourish our own souls. I am headed over to read your words now.
Julie – you are such a gift to the writing world. “…the longing the writers had to be heard, to be witnessed, to be seen.” Yes, there is longing for our voices to be heard, for ourselves to be seen and witnessed. I think there is connection there, a connection that we can’t give ourselves. And we only want ‘real’ connection…the soul knows the difference.
Jeanne- you are welcome, and you started this! When I read your post, I read courage, truth, questioning, wondering, desire to know, AND a reaching out to us your readers. There was a feeling of really wanting to discover and that feeling washed over me with such beauty. I could feel your longing and that connected with my longing. We are each teachers to each other and I learned a great deal from that teaching you gave.
“we drink from the magic well of abundance, knowing that the water tastes differently to each one of us, yet it still provides much-needed hydration; knowing that just because one of us dips a cup into the well doesnâ€™t mean thereâ€™s less for others, no â€“ just the opposite: drinking from this well creates more.” So beautifully put. Just the opposite of what we’ve been taught. We give and there is more for all.
Thank you for being the tall tree that has been there for me, time and time again. I bow to you, darling.
Emma – back atcha, chica. You have bared your soul and I have become the wiser and more compassionate, loving woman for it. Thank you.
MD – Thank you for stopping by and introducing yourself through your comment. “Why on earth would I be tentative about this â€” on my own damn blog?” Absofuckinglutely. On YOUR blog. The internal dialogue can be killer. Yet, noticing it is the ticket and then choosing something that is true, rather than the same old stuff it offers. I’m so glad to know you and look forward to reading your words. I’m sorry to hear of your mother’s death. That can be a time of great transformation. My mother died 18 months ago and I am still moving through it. It’s been great to have my writing legs in working order to help.
Karen – Yay, the woman of the village has arrived. My village would never be the same without you in it. Love to you.
Wonderful essay. “Writing from the body” is so powerful.
Brilliant, inspiring and oh, so timely. We are all learning to speak the truth – to speak it from direct experience, to bring our fresh, personal insight to the page and then, to the world.
Each time I post something on my blog, I tremble a little. Each time, i got back several times, editing, refining, concerned that simply raising my voice above a whisper will… you know, get me in trouble.
But because of the powerful, supportive, loving circle of women (and men) I’ve found on twitter, I press the POST key. I press it because I know that you will be there and that, even if some stranger doesn’t approve of what I’ve written (or of me), you and our community will be there.
Bless you for calling us out of our caves – of shyness, of awkwardness, of repression.
A beautiful post.
I feel so honored to be a part of your village, Julie. The words you speak here are…oh, where do I begin?? I resonate so much with your truth. I am blown away that doing a simple thing like blogging on the Best of ’09 has led to such wonderful connections. And it really is because of this support that you talk about. I blogged because I wanted to be seen and heard. So I stuck my foot in the water, and lo and behold, there you all were, in the water, in the writing, in the rawness of your own beings, and without (specific) words, you all supported me in getting in a little deeper, a little deeper, a little deeper. I read the souls of my friends here on these blogs (on YOUR blogs!) and I gain strength from your strength in mashing “send” that I mash “send” myself. And oh, how LIBERATING it is to know that I can say what I have to say (whatever it may be) and regardless of position on it, I have this support, and given so freely.
All that to say…I just love you, Julie. I am so grateful for your words, for your sharing, for your soul, for your wisdom, for your strength, for your truth. Thank you. And you are right: “we are all really divine in human clothing.”
I started a blog several months ago. I found yours a few weeks ago – from someone else’s site – and right now I don’t even remember who.
BrenÃ©’s work has played a part in me beginning to find my voice.
The connections are simply stunning to me.
I’m glad to have found you. I understand the fear – and have written about it too. Fear of saying the deepest things that MUST be expressed. Things about who we are that cross that line.
I haven’t done the twitter thing yet – but now my interest is peaked. I’d love to post a link to your blog from mine. Keep up the work – you have important things to say.
BrenÃ© – Yes, writing from the body – a powerful act, and such a sweet relationship with self. Thank you for your inspiration.
Amy – Thank you. How powerful we are together. I am here, and I know you are, too. I celebrate you and all you bring to the world.
Dian – I see you are wearing see-thru clothing. I see thru it all to you. And it’s a beautiful sight. I love you, too.
Renae – It is a pleasure to know you. I’m so glad we found each other. I am honored that you wish to link to me. It is amazing how we are so connected, and how one leads to another, and so on. I’ve checked out your blog, and have sent a number of people your way. Do check out Twitter. Let me know if and when you join. I look forward to hearing your voice…
Odd … I must be going crazy, because I thought I commented on this post!
I just wanted to say thank you – for all the ways YOUR voice makes me feel heard, seen, supported, known. This community has grown to mean more to me than I could ever have imagined.
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