How I Found My Voice and Came Alive: A Lesson in "Going for It"

As I mentioned in my initial post, most of what I write is about food…but a portion of this blog is about non-food nourishment, about the other ways we fuel ourselves and feel alive.

Being well is about more than just what we eat, even though that plays a big part.

It’s also about finding what nourishes our body, mind AND soul.

A special event at one of my best friend’s weddings prompted me to share this part of my story!

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I’ve always liked to sing.

I grew up belting out the likes of Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, and Desiree, and Shania Twain from the dining room of my childhood home. I made sure all of the doors were closed, my headphones were snugly covering my ears, and the music was turned up to what was probably a deafness-inducing volume.

I never wanted anyone else to hear me, not even my family. Singing is such a personal, vulnerable thing. As a kid, I figured if I couldn’t hear myself, then no one else could hear me either.

I closed my eyes and drowned out the world around me, singing song after song, sometimes for hours at a time.

I was shy as a kid. Singing made me feel alive.

But the thought of other people hearing me sing frightened me. I went through middle school and high school absolutely terrified of singing in front of people.

What if they didn’t like my voice?

What if I didn’t sound quite like Mariah?

Would they reject me? Would they make fun of me?

Elementary and middle school weren’t exactly a walk in the park for me socially and feeling like I fit in was tough, so I was super sensitive to being rejected, disliked or made fun of.

The potential reward wasn’t worth the risk.

So, I avoided opportunities to sing publicly, despite the fact that I loved it…even though it made me come alive and filled me with joy.

I didn’t join the choir in high school (which so many of my peers joined and enjoyed).  When I was within a group singing at a school liturgy or other public event, I softened my voice to a dull whisper if I thought anyone would be able to hear me.

For years, I silenced a very vibrant, authentic part of myself.

I took private voice lessons my senior year of high school and had my jaw just about lock for the first 10 seconds at our year-end recital. I had resisted having to sing publicly all semester but finally agreed to do it. I had chosen the haunting “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan, and I’m sure I looked haunted myself as I opened my mouth to sing.  I had held back, afraid my voice might crack if I really went for it the way I did when I was alone.

Then, I went off to college. And something changed.

It was a Thursday night. Gospel choir practice was wrapping up. I had joined after witnessing the fun they had at their fall concert. The group was SO loud that I knew I would be able to preserve my vocal anonymity while still being able to sing.

I lingered around after practice, waiting until the last choir member left the chapel. Then, I decided to go for it.

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I sauntered up to our gospel choir director, Eric Byrd, who is still one of the most alive and vibrant people I know, and told him I wanted to try out for one of the solos. I had thought about asking for weeks and finally chalked up the nerve to do it.

I knew I could do it…I just had to give myself permission to try.

He began playing the song on the piano, and in that moment, I took a deep breath…and sang.

I closed my eyes as I released the years of Mariah, Celine, and Shania I had kept locked up inside.

About a verse or so in, Eric bolted up from the piano, gave me a bewildered look as he smirked and shook his head in surprise and proceeded to knock over a nearby music stand.

“Where did that come from?!”

I sheepishly blushed and averted my eyes down. “I don’t know,” I told him.  “I’ve always been afraid of singing in front of people…but I really wanted to do this.”

I raised my eyes and formed a smile. He was smiling, too.

I got the solo.

I had come alive. 

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One of the ways we nourish our bodies and our souls is by doing things that make us come alive, things that bring out our truest, most authentic selves.

Since then, singing has been an integral part of my story and my journey.

It’s how my husband and I first connected in college, as he would play piano and I would sing along with him in our campus chapel.

It was the bond between us as we joined our first church choir together during his last 2 years of college.

It’s become part of how we serve our current church, Horizon Church of Towson, on Sunday mornings, along with the rest of the music team.

Recording Christmas carols with Horizon Church...never thought I'd be doing this!

Recording Christmas carols with Horizon Church…never thought I’d be doing this!

And it’s just something that, regardless of where I am, brings me joy.

A few weeks ago, I had the honor and privilege of singing a duet with the band (Sly45) at one of my best friend’s weddings.

I was so excited!

The lyrics effortlessly spilled out as I soaked in the moment, appreciating the gift of music, the joy of singing, and the happiness of the day.

What if I’d never gotten past my fear?

What if I had refused to make myself vulnerable for fear of rejection or not being “good enough”?

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I'm with the band :) Never thought I would do something like this!

I’m with the band 🙂 Never thought I would do something like this!

After the song was finished, the groom came up to me, hugged me and said, “That was like the best wedding present ever.”

Do you ever feel like you’re trying to “find your voice” or truly come alive?

What would you do if you weren’t afraid of failing? Rejection? Disapproval?

Think of ONE thing that scares but also excites you. What can you do to move one step closer to tackling it?

Give yourself permission to think about the potential for what could happen…and go for it!

soul happy

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2 Comments

  1. Nancy Bryant

    I’m just so proud and pleased with the daughter I have in you!

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