…Breathe in slow and deep. Pause. Exhale evenly and slowly…
My recent post coming out as Pagan was a long time coming…and a journey that took me through different levels of spirituality until I found what my spirit was looking for – a connection to my heritage and the divine that reflects my values. It took slowly stripping away my beliefs and spiritual programming over a period of years, and assessing them one by one through heart, soul, and mind. It took moving through grief, unease, discomfort, and fear. And also excitement, joy, and a sense of expansion.
Before we’re ready to use our voices in a healthy way, or express certain parts of our identity, we must tap into our inner voice and do the inner healing work of healing wounds and removing agreements that aren’t truly beneficial to us. Yes, we can still speak our minds and hold our boundaries as we go, in a way that’s authentic, but tapping into the inner voice is paramount. I was ready to share this new spiritual path with the world because I had done the inner work and I was ready to face any consequences that might come from sharing this. I am grounded and centered in my beliefs, at least enough to feel stable and secure in where I stand.
When we use our physical voice, there must be an intake of breath. And then a brief pause (or suspension) of that breath until we’re ready to use our voice. The same dynamic is important when we express ourselves in any capacity. We must balance the inhale with the exhale. We must find our peace in the stillness of the pause. The deeper we breathe, the more control we have over the suspension and the more strong, stable, and efficient the out breath is as we speak.
This concept applies to the collective spirit, the individual spirit, the energetic body, and the physical body, and each layer is intertwined.
The path I’ve been walking over the past few year of shedding old beliefs and finding my sexuality, my spirituality, my humanity, and connecting more deeply to the healthiest parts of my inner voice, is the path I walk with others in the Free Your Voice Method.
Your path is your own, but we’re not meant to live in solitude. Connection to others is what inspires us, encourages us, lifts us up when we’re down, and holds us accountable when we need it. Those connections give us the framework in which to heal and embody the lessons that we learn as we heal and remember who we truly are.
That’s what I offer…someone who can walk with you as you connect to your inner voice, heal the Voice Wounds, and embody the expression of your voice on all levels. Are you ready to join me?
Most people with voice wounds tend to feel restriction in their self-expression. However, sometimes a voice wound shows up as speaking up without thinking or without depth in what you’re saying – verbal vomit, if you will. Regardless of how your voice wound shows up, the first step in freeing your voice and healing the voice wound is to tune in to your inner voice and what your spirit wants to say.
The voice wound is the place where you hold emotional, spiritual, or even physical trauma (not necessary near your throat) from those who have tried to silence you, dismiss you, or suppress your self-expression. It is the place where you feel restricted in your ability to speak up for yourself, where you feel like nobody wants to hear what you have to say, or you fear possible rejection when you step into your full authentic self.
Freeing your voice allows you to not only step into the fullness of your self, your message, and your purpose, but also takes you beyond that into the JOY that comes from a connection to your inner voice and the satisfaction that comes from living out your purpose. Healing these wounds can result in freedom in many other areas of life beyond how you live your purpose in business or career, including mental and physical health, relationships, and spiritual connection to the earth and your ancestors.
Wintertime holds a wonderful energy of rest, restoration, and inward reflection as we recover from the past year and prepare for the spring and the vibrant energy it brings. However, it can also bring with it fear: fear of illness, fear of missed work, and if you’re an entrepreneur or rely on your voice for work, this can have a significant impact on your financial wellbeing as well as your physical wellbeing.
Over the years, I have picked up many natural ways to protect, heal, and healthfully use the voice when ill. Pharmaceuticals can be helpful in acute cases, but they are often very drying and have other negative side effects for the delicate tissues of the vocal folds (aka vocal cords). Natural advice and remedies from Western herbalism, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and folk medicine are shared here to help with common illnesses. Please keep in mind, I am not a doctor or certified herbalist, so it is best to consult a trained herbalist or TCM practitioner to get the best medicine for your particular illness.
According to Chinese medicine, illnesses often enter the body through the back of the neck and upper back area, especially during late fall and winter when that area of the body is susceptible to the cold. Even if you live in moderate climate, wear a scarf or cardigan that protects your neck and upper back from drafts and the cold. Additionally, all the neck and upper back muscles connect up to the muscles of the voice, so keeping warm reduces unnecessary tension that could negatively affect your voice.
Keep it warm
Avoid cold water and drink warm liquids that are at least room temperature. Cold tenses up muscles, and warm loosens them; The vocal cords are actually delicate muscles in the throat, so warm liquids will keep the vocal cords from getting too tight or tense, avoiding vocal strain. Loose vocal cords also means more efficient use of your voice, meaning you’ll expend less energy.
Avoid congestion Everyone’s body composition is different, but if you know which foods create congestion in your body, keep them to a minimum at this time of year (dairy is a common one). If you have environmental allergies, do you best to manage them and take preventative measure, such as wearing an allergy mask (such as a Vogmask) when you may be exposed to allergens. Less congestion means less susceptibility to illness. If you tend to struggle with congestion on a regular basis, I highly recommend seeing a Chinese medicine practitioner and/or an allergist to determine the best course of action for you—I’ve personally been helped by both.
Boost immune system There are many herbs and supplements to help the immune system, but my personal favorites are homemade Elderberry Syrup and homemade Fire Cider (you can google recipes for both, but keep in mind that Fire Cider takes 4-6 weeks to infuse). If you tend towards illness in winter, preventative acupuncture is very helpful as well.
Rest Sleep is THE most important thing you can do for your health. Make sure you’re giving your body (and your voice!) the rest it needs.
Hydrate Our bodies are hydrated from the inside out, so drink plenty of water and healthy liquids. If you have a hard time drinking water, try gentle and supportive herbal teas (chamomile, hibiscus, and nettle, for example). Avoid liquids that can cause dehydration or are diuretic in nature. If your airways are dry despite hydration, a humidifier is also beneficial and can counteract the dry winter air.
When You’re Sick
Don’t ignore! Even if you’re not sure that you’re sick, if you start to feel any symptoms, start taking higher doses of Elderberry and/or Fire Cider (or your supplement of choice) immediately. Be more mindful of the nutrition in the foods you eat. Make sure you get plenty of rest.
Keep it warm Notice a theme? There’s a reason we immediately think of soup and tea as “get better” foods. Warm, nutritious food and drink does a lot to restore the body. Broth-based soups, tea with honey, congee (a nutritious Chinese porridge), oatmeal, etc. are all great options when you’re sick and aren’t harsh on the throat. For the common cold, avoid dairy and rich foods as they can create more phlegm.
Be kind to your voice Rest your voice as much as you can. Try to drink water or tea instead of coughing or clearing your throat. Coughing and clearing your throat is rough on the vocal cords and can cause them to become inflamed. Consistent, long-term coughing and clearing of the throat can eventually cause damage to the vocal cords. If your voice starts to feel like it’s headed towards laryngitis, avoid talking as much as possible. If you do lose your voice, don’t try to push it. Let it rest and heal.
Hydrate Drink plenty of fluids (soup counts!). Saline rinses or sprays can be very helpful in clearing out mucus and helping with post-nasal drip. Try to rinse 3 times a day. Dehydration can lead to higher levels of congestion and sinus pressure.
Rest Rest as often as you can and sleep when you need to.
Fake it If you need to practice for a performance, speech, or presentation, practice without using your voice. Mouth the words to a speech or scene (hearing tone and phrasing in your mind) instead of speaking the words. Hear the music in your mind and act as if you’re singing without engaging your vocal cords. Practice breathing/singing techniques on non-vocalized consonants, like S (F, T, and P can also work, depending on the exercise).
When you need to talk Breathe deeply and speak strongly in your normal voice, even if your voice doesn’t “cooperate”. Avoid compensating because pushing to make your voice louder will only serve to cause strain and hurt your voice, or possibly cause you to lose your voice. Whispering can also cause strain since it adds tension, or hurt your voice due to the excess air passing through that can dry out the vocal cords.
Things to avoid:
Anything overly drying. Peppermint tea, high amounts of caffeine, overuse of decongestants, etc. can be so drying your body will overcompensate with more congestion.
Ultimately, we all get sick at some point or another. These tips and tools can help prevent that from happening, especially if you tend to be prone towards catching colds and other illnesses. Often what breaks the camel’s back is that we push ourselves to do more and more and more, instead of listening to our bodies telling us to take a step back. So, listen to what your body is telling you. Trust your gut instinct to go to bed early instead of finishing that project or binge-watching Netflix to wind down. Give yourself space to rest BEFORE getting sick. This enables your body to do what it naturally wants to do. And if you sense that there’s an underlying spiritual component that is creating a negative pattern of illness or fatigue, give yourself the space to do the healing work necessary. So many of us have wounds related to our self-expression and that can manifest into a pattern of illness.
TW: Sexual Assault mention, allusion to Lifetime Documentary series
If you’ve been on social media the past few days, you’ve likely seen references to a Lifetime docu-series where Black women are speaking out about surviving sexual assault as girls.
Black women, Black Trans Women, Black femmes, and Black girls have higher rates of sexual assault compared to other people groups, going back centuries. The trauma is deep and it is ultimately at the hands of white supremacy. We must collectively support Black womxn and the organizations doing the work of supporting Black womxn survivors of sexual assault and abuse.
Sadly, there are not many that focus on the specific needs of Black Womxn, but I have collected some here, including two in development (please support them as there is obviously a great need!!).
If you are a Black womxn survivor of sexual assault or abuse, I have also included some resources below and will continue to add more. If you would like support on your healing journey, please contact me for reparations (free) services or recommendations to Black women I know who can provide healing services for you.
If you are a white person, please donate to support these organizations. It is important that we provide economic justice in the form of reparations (including directly).
[Note for transparency and accountability: I originally used an image of a Black girl for this post and the associated posts on social media. A friend pointed out that as a white woman in this context, that is harmful. I apologize for any harm done and have changed the image so I don’t cause any further harm.]
The past few years, I’ve chosen a word of the year as my theme, instead of new year resolutions. It often encompasses my intentions for the year, how I want to live my life, and the direction I want to move in my purpose.
This year, I was inspired by Catrice M. Jackson of Catriceology to add 5 supporting words for my primary word. I took it a step further and made a card spread to find confirmation and divine support to guide me as I step into the themes of these words.
I chose the word Empower as my main word for 2019 because this past year has been a year of learning and healing, and now it’s time to step into the empowerment of all that I’ve learned. The supporting words I chose are related to areas of my life and work. These are areas where I want that empowerment to be a strong force behind what I do and who I’m becoming!
I desire my own healing work, and the healing I facilitate for others, to come from a place of empowerment. I strongly believe we all have the capacity to bring healing into our lives, but sometimes it helps to have someone alongside who has already been there and can hold space.
Embodiment is a strong secondary theme for me, and embodying lessons learned from a place of power is important for me in my journey right now.
Relationships are incredibly important to me, and they inform my values and are a source of inspiration. The community I’ve been cultivating in my life is very important to me and my social justice values come from a place of community. I included this because I want to empower my community and be empowered by the people in my own community of friends and family.
Even though this one seems straightforward, there are a lot of layers to this one. I want to empower my connection to my higher self, but I also desire to give myself the unconditional love and support I need. While relationships are important to me, my connection to myself has been growing over the past year, and I can sense I’m ready to step into a greater place of power in who I am and what I desire to co-create in the world.
It’s time to put more focus and power behind my own work and my own purpose in the world. I’ve been going deeper into what that means the past year, and this year I’m ready to empower it into being in a deeper way as well!
After determining my words for this year, I was inspired to create a card spread with the purpose of receiving guidance to support me towards my goals, and I’m sharing it here for you to use as well! You can also use it to gain inspiration or confirmation for your words or themes for the year. I hope you enjoy it!
May your voice be freed even more in the new year, and may 2019 be full of joy, peace, and abundant blessings in all forms! And so it is.