Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth
This piece is dedicated to my friend Roxanne, who always provides support, love, and encouragement and who’s not afraid to call it as she sees it.
I love connecting with others and find it very rewarding to communicate with a wide variety of people. I’ve always relied on my voice to make communication possible – whether meeting up for coffee with a friend or speaking in front of an audience, my primary form of communication has always been my voice.
In May 2013, I had polyps removed from my vocal cords and for two weeks post- surgery, I was unable to use my voice. My husband gave me a whiteboard to use, and I also added a text-to-speak App on my iPad so that when I typed in a question or a statement and then hit the “play” button, my iPad would “speak” for me. My boys loved it when I changed the voice from American English to a British dialect. Both methods worked well and allowed me to communicate effectively.
During those two weeks, I was able to observe life without any vocal commentary. Creative ideas, thoughts, and realizations swirled in my head; I began to like the fact that I couldn’t use my voice. I think it was during this period of silence that I began to change.
Unable to speak, I honed my listening skills. The act of writing on the whiteboard and typing in text takes time; I became more patient with myself as well as with others.
I started to meditate to help clear my mind; the idea that “God gave me two ears and one mouth for a reason” continued to pop into my mind.
The opportunity to be silent and listen was a gift a gift that I was able to draw from during my Mom’s cancer and hospice care; being silent and listening gave me the chance to explore my feelings about my Mom’s illness. Eventually, I found comfort in writing about my feelings.
When I was younger, I’d always dreamed of writing a book, but I felt like I wasn’t creative enough to come up with a plot or characters. I didn’t think I could do it. When I told my Mom this, she laughed and simply said “Karen, there are many genres. What makes you think you have to write fiction?” I guess I had never thought about it that way before.
When my Mom passed away, I finally published my first piece: her obituary. It wasn’t perfect, but to my Dad and to our family, it was.
After my first “published” piece, I was grateful for the joy writing brought me; it made me want to write more. The experience of checking in with my emotions or sometimes rationalizing my behavior is my license to write. The experience of reflection and what the experience meant to me – is what I love about writing. My writing may not be perfect, but it summarizes how I feel and what I want to communicate.
A few months ago, when having dinner in Capitola with my friend, the waitress asked what I did for a living; I stumbled trying to say something.
“She’s a writer,” my friend Roxanne said pointedly, and to my surprise.
I was dumbstruck as Roxanne held up her wineglass, toasting her comment.
“Yes, I am a writer,” I said, as I held my wineglass up in return, “I am a writer.”
My degree may be in Psychology, my work experience in sales management, but my writing is full of the breath of my heart. If that’s what it takes to write, then yes, I am a writer.