Voice as Practice

Daily Disciplines to Build the Muscle of the Authentic

This space is about practice in many arenas, but particularly in that which is not obvious. It is a place to play, to toot your horn and hit a bad note, and start over, where you can practice being you in ways that you haven't been you before. And you can also explore the "not you", the voice that isn't in the mix that comes from Aunt Jane or the expectations of your music teacher in high school. Let go and find out what is essential.

Your Host: Susan Schmickle

Susan Schmickle practices her voice in writing, intentional community, coaching, software development, relationships, and if there's time left over by gardening, walking, facilitating awakening and transformation of consciousness in individuals, relationships, and relationship systems. She has accessed many trainings and certification processes, managed to glean from life experience, and considers herself a work in progress. At least one master has said, "you wouldn't want it to ever end" and most of the time she agrees with that.

You Mean I Have to Practice?

I had a conversation recently about writing with a friend and collegue who believed that writers are born, that they come in with it in their genes.

While I tend to agree at some level (and likewise, musicians, artists, astrophysicists, gurus and chefs, golfers -- you get the idea) I couldn't help but consider the possibility that it might be otherwise, that if you want to write (paint, sing, dance), you will, whether its a "career", an exclusive occupation, a hobby, retirement project or a passing enthusiasm. What I think we're about here is more about mastery -- mastery for the sake of the art and mastery as a journey rather than a destination.

Mastery implies something else: practice, willingness to fail and push the edge, but not allowing that to set one back. Always beginning anew.  Practice. The old joke: A couple going to a concert stop a cab driver and ask: "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" Cab Driver: "Practice, Practice, Practice". Scales and chords. Classes. Studies. Hundreds of photos to get that "one". Rubbing elbows with the masters and then saying to heck with the masters (past, present and future). The willingness to express how you express, the vision that is your vision, and at the same time see that it arises in the context of history, the present moment, and hints of the future. Boldness and courage are in the mix, along with humility, fear, and the tension between the known and the unknown. Birth in many forms.

So what does voice as practice actually mean? Our voice, deeper than our talent, our expression, our gifts, our performance -- it is our essence and it is THAT which gives rise to poetry, novels, iPhones and their applications, and landscape art.   It is our way of seeing, being, becoming and informs our doing, our inspiration, our direction. And that deeper "thing" -- well, call it spirit, call it muse or talent, call it view, whatever you think/believe it to be -- like the outer aspects, this voice and expression can be cultivated and nurtured, even practiced and explored -- made conscious and danced with, not left entirely to genes or luck or a particularly nurturing or horrendous environment.

Okay, so I am sensing the resistance....you mean... practice being me? Aren't we just who we are?

Well yes and no. No in the sense that its hard to practice what we already are--but yes in that what we are can be made more conscious, we can be more attuned to it and thereby better able to express it precisely and clearly, rambunctiously, heretically, grandly -- you get the idea? Awareness gives us choice and direction and freedom! The ability to relax with what's moving in and through us (or not) and the courage to decide to stretch, to step outside of the box, to "go for it".

The Invitation

Lately I've been reflecting on beliefs about the creative life, about my abilities and how they have or haven't developed, and when and how I stifle my voice. I've come to realize that every inch of my being is my voice: body, mind, heart, spirit, soul, whether or not I like what shows up there. That arrowhead shaped scar on the back of my hand. How people tell me I'm too quiet. That I don't roll out of bed, glad to be alive.

I'd like to invite you to join me in the practice of this cycle which I have called "Radical Acceptance". It is to take every single thought, action, word, & expression of yourself and accept the reality of it. You don't have to like it. Try one with me: pick something gloriously wonderful about yourself -- something that you secretly (or overtly) love. Name it. Accept it. Now another: Now something that you don't like about how you show up. Name it. Accept it.

Extra credit: Radically accept something in someone else -- their beauty and their folly. Name it. Accept it. Write us about it.

Comments (61)

Thanks for this, Susan. I love the summation that "every inch of my being is my voice." Doing the "radical acceptance" of the reality of who and what and how I am not only lets me see what's here but also gives me permission to bring this voice forth. Last year I watched my usually shy daughter change schools, moving from one where she was afraid to speak or wear anything but the most ordinary clothes, or even to part her hair slightly differently, to a school where she felt immediately accepted and appreciated. The blossoming of her expression into that of a confident, beautiful, happy young woman, trying out her own voice in how she dresses, wears her hair, talks, plays, sings, draws, writes, etc., has been a most amazing and gratifying thing to watch. 

I wonder if we can give ourselves that same kind of opportunity, simply by accepting and appreciating all that we are. It's worth a try -- I'd love to see myself blossom that way, even (or especially) this far along my life journey.

So here are my first answers to your two questions: (1) I love how I can listen to other people and hear their heart, their feeling, how it is for them, and feed it back to them so that their own understanding increases. I love the way this creates safe space for both of us and lets something new be born.  (2) I hate how I can listen to other people and really understand why they feel and think the way they do, when it directly opposes what I need or want, to the extent that I no longer trust my sense of what I need or want because I've taken on their point of view as being the valid one. I hate how it's only much later, after I've acquiesced to their view, that I have a chance to hear myself again and realize that no, that's not at all what I want, or figure out what it was I should have said that could have made all the difference, at least to me.

I'm working on the extra credit and may write you about it later! Thanks again!

Loma

P.S.  I guess I could have written about accepting the things I've disliked forever, like my nose or my freckles or, more recently, my wrinkles. Whose face IS that? Well, it's mine -- this is how this flower looks, and she belongs in this garden too! 

Loma

P.S.  I guess I could have written about accepting the things I've disliked forever, like my nose or my freckles or, more recently, my wrinkles. Whose face IS that? Well, it's mine -- this is how this flower looks, and she belongs in this garden too! 

Loma

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