Voice Rest as an Opportunity

About six months ago, I really started increasing my time on stage.
About four months ago, I started sounding like Janis Joplin.
About two months ago, I couldn't get through a performance without completely losing my voice...and then I was seriously hoarse for two days.

After seeing an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor--and then a Speech Pathologist--I learned that I have very small nodules on my vocal chords.  I created these through improper use of my vocal instrument.  While I know what a diaphragm IS, I apparently haven't been using it correctly.  Working on that...

However, the Speech Pathologist told me I needed to begin my treatment with 5-7 days of Voice Rest.  Yep, this big mouth had to try to not speak for at least five days.  Heh.

I learned a lot throughout this experience.  I appreciated the challenges experienced by those around me who do not have full command of all of their senses.  Although I was fully aware of what was going on around me, my limited ability to communicate verbally encouraged others to treat me as someone who was disabled--perhaps someone to be pitied or talked down to...or even avoided.  As a result, I found myself becoming more timid.  My three-year-old daughter was confused and angry when I would not talk to her--or would talk to her in a limited fashion.  It became her personal challenge to get me to talk as much as possible.

I also found tremendous benefits in this experience.  I appreciated the moments of silence, of introspection.  I found myself waiting to talk until I actually had something of value to say...talking to express something essential rather than talking just to fill up space.  And I now sound like myself again.  Yay--my voice is back!

This morning, I came back from our fall break to teach a mini-workshop with my core class of seventh- and eighth-graders.  As I've noticed with this class before, their focus is impressive and their commitment level is their greatest challenge.  We're still working on this--it'll be our challenge throughout the year.  However, I find  it's necessary to notice the gifts as well as the difficulties faced by any given group.  When I assigned my class 24 hours of silence--beginning this afternoon--I was initially met with incredulous stares and concerned questions.  But, by the end of the day, they seemed almost giddy about the idea; they were ready to take on the challenge.  Jimi already surprised me with his observation: "I think it will give us a chance to REALLY listen...not just wait for our turn to talk."

What they may lack in enthusiasm and "commitment", they more than make up for in insight.  I can't wait to see what they notice after their 24 hours.

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