Thankful for Voice Ignited

Thankful for Voice Ignited

Voice is both figurative and literal: a combination that is powerful and profound.

I witnessed a typical hotel ballroom last weekend, near the end of an exciting yet long conference, simply ignite. Ignite in the sense that what caused the combustion was the lifting of voices and hearts. On the makeshift, poorly lit stage, nine voices from a community of educators shared their stories. Profound and powerful.  A few individuals were new voices that were tentative to share in the limelight with more seasoned veterans.  A few were seasoned voices, tentative to share parts of their Thankful for Voice Ignited - ARTiculate: Real & Clear. Voice Your Stories and Let Your Stories Be Your Voicestories previously unheard. Each and every voice detailed his or her own life’s journey, full of bruises and hiccoughs, successes and triumphs. Specificity mattered. Feelings mattered. Each of the authentic voices called to the universal in all of us. In turn, we as the audience were deeply awakened, called forth, and united in tears, laughter, silence and rejoicing.

I was reminded of the remarkable power of individual voices being heard through story. Stories that linked individual experience with the call to make change in the world – to do good things – to help us all to heal.Personal stories matter. Your story matters. To us. To all of us – if we listen. Stories are our shared voice – our individual voice and our collective voice as a community and as fellow humans on this journey of life. As a voice professional, working on the literal use and function of the voice, I am constantly balancing figurative imagery. “Being heard” carries so many meanings. It is, in truth, why I care about the physical voice.Do I only work on the physical voice because I know it leads to the figurative voice? I believe that we all have the right and the need to be heard, and that it is an authentic voice we want to share, and it is this voice that brave individuals want to hear. Sharing authentically, from our hearts, is simultaneously scary and exhilarating – terrifying and powerful.Don’t just teach or speak. Don’t just fill the air with what you think is important. Build a scaffolding of your stories and hang your experiences there – we, the listening audience, will link and fill and build our connections to you. It is that interlacing of your personal story and my personal story that builds true bridges of understanding.On Saturday morning, I watched a room full of people who knew each other, who were connected and listening to each other, be absolutely demolished by true vulnerability in story. And, from the destruction of past connection, began the reweaving of threads of understanding and the rebuilding of relationship to each other that is stronger and more resilient.  Ideas were effervescent – zipping in and out among the threads – energized by personal connection – energized by “me too” – by “thank you for speaking my story.”
Although I did the keynote and workshops the days before it was nine stories that gave true meaning to voice. It was because of these voices that I left the ballroom that morning with my passion recharged, and my commitment to sharing my own voice ignited!

Voice your stories.
Let your stories be your voice.
And let your voice be heard!
….We’ll be listening.

by Hilary Blair
Artwork by Stevie Caldarola  

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