GUEST BLOG - Contributed by Danielle Mendoza,
“Sounds like you fit into the category of vocal athletes.”
When Brienne first spoke those words to me, I was shocked. I’m not a professional singer, actor, television personality, or social media influencer. But as I let her words sink in, I had to acknowledge that I do use my voice in every aspect of my business. From networking to speaking with clients to podcasting, my voice is turned on and in use for most of my waking hours! If I thought of someone running for most of their waking hours, it’d be easy to see that they fall into the “athlete” category. Accepting and adopting that understanding of myself was an important pivot. Up until this point I was functioning from a place of using my voice without much conscious effort or understanding. I was taking it for granted.
Then the vocal burnout started to happen. My voice would get tired and slip into gravely vocal fry more and more frequently, and I was having some soreness in the muscles in my neck and throat. My best method for soothing my voice was to simply stay quiet for more of the day, but my work continued to demand more and more of my voice. It was then that I knew I needed the help of this person I met in networking who called herself a Vocal Empowerment Guide. While I didn’t fully understand the title, I knew Brienne could help me understand more about what was going on and how to remedy the problem. I had no choice but to invest the time and money in my voice—my entire business and financial livelihood depended on it.
As we worked together, I was able to better understand what was physiologically happening to my voice. Suddenly aware of my regular throat clearing and daily drop into hoarseness, I was relieved to have expert guidance as I worked through undoing some of my unhealthy vocal habits and restoring my vocal health. I now had regular practices to put into place that would condition my voice, including vocal warm ups and cool downs. Looking at myself as a vocal athlete, this all made so much sense! Athletes warm up before performance or practice, they cool down afterward, and they regularly condition their muscles with complementary exercise. This simple but profound ah-ha gave me the motivation to integrate the practices into my everyday routines.
Our sessions continued weekly, and I was impressed with Brienne’s understanding of the voice and breathwork. We began to discuss the breathwork and intention setting portion of our time together. I realized then how our vocal expression is deeply rooted in our soul. In fact, I came to fully understand how the physical voice is a direct manifestation of our spiritual well being and connectedness. As a writer, I’ve known that our “voice” goes beyond the physical sounds we make. It is our voice we’re using when we pour our thoughts and ideas out onto the page. I knew this, but until my time with Brienne, I hadn’t put two and two together when it came to physically using our voice for things like public speaking, podcasting, and interviews.
My voice is in use no matter what medium I’m using to express myself. And being able to tap into my intuitive voice is always what carries me through to vulnerably sharing my thoughts. The connection from inner self—the voice of my higher power as experienced and understood by my inner observer—feeds the outer expression I bring forth in all of my work. Being able to authentically share myself through my voice is important to me and to the impact I hope to have on this world. But it can also be a nerve-racking experience.
When we are hanging out in trusted circles, speaking to friends and family who help us feel safe and loved, it’s easy to boldly state opinions and beliefs. We’re open, fluid, and allow conversation to flow. It’s as if the words just go from within to pouring out our mouths without hesitation. We can all identify who those people are in our lives—usually they’re the people easiest to be with. But as soon as we feel even the slightest bit of that safety disturbed, we tend to clam up, have a harder time finding the right words, and filter more and more of what we want to say through our conscious mind first. With our friends we have a lot to say, but if we try to share on the same topic in a setting where our thoughts are being captured (like going live on social media or public speaking) we get nervous and the flow is disrupted.
I have found this same phenomenon at play when we’re capturing our thoughts in writing. As I wrote my first book, I actually found it easier to speak out what I wanted to say as if I were talking to a friend, and I used voice-to-text on my notes app to capture most of the words. It freed me up from the pressure of the blinking cursor on a blank page, and it’s the number one piece of advice I give the women in my programs. As a leveraged book strategist, I guide women through sharing their expertise, personal and professional convictions, and personality on the page. Giving them permission to capture their words in ways other than typing on the computer has helped them open up and reach their word count much quicker than they would otherwise. In fact, if they’re really struggling to overcome a bout of “writer’s block”, I tell them to get a trusted friend or colleague on Zoom, hit record, and let the words flow in conversation. Since working with Brienne, I now have words for what writer’s block actually is—it’s simply the disruption of the flow from the inner self to the outer expression. We are truly achieving vocal empowerment when we’re letting outer expression flow freely from within!
Of course, there’s still fear to overcome, even for myself. In my experience of writing and publishing multiple books, I’ve learned we often overcome the fears bit by bit. We let go of the fear that stops that flow of expression, and then we have to move through the fear of putting ourselves out there once our expression has been captured on the page. And fear can show up in some funny ways! I remember as I was moving through the final round of editing my 2021 bestseller, Manifest Success, I called my husband in a panic.
“The book,” I breathlessly uttered, “it just…starts.”
I was feeling insecure about the opening of my book, and putting on myself the heavy pressure of expectation that my book would have some big, profoundly explosive opening.
“Yeah,” he said, “that’s what books do.”
Laughter immediately flew out of me, releasing the pressure I had piled on myself. His words seemed to press an internal release valve I hadn’t been able to access on my own. Facing fears can do that to us, keep us from accessing exactly what it is we need, blinding us to what we know to be true in that moment. Moving though the journey of vocal empowerment has led me to see the similarities between speaking and writing. Both require us to share ourselves openly with the world—a scary, vulnerable experience. And both allow us to create an impact far beyond any we could imagine.
After launching my book, the response from readers was moving. Many reached out to tell me about the impact my book had on them, and shared the stories they had that were similar to my own. I knew I was being called to help more women write their stories and create a similar impact by openly sharing their insights, beliefs, and personalities with readers. So I stepped into the role of publisher and compiled an anthology of powerful stories for the first volume of Business On Purpose: Inspiring stories of women overcomers who are changing the world. This book series is specifically designed to help women demonstrate their expertise as they connect with others on a human level by sharing their stories.
We are all human, and we all have something of value to share. Whether it’s an intimate discussion between friends, a widely published podcast episode, or a book we hope will stand the test of time, our impact ripples out through our shared voices. Empowering ourselves to bring forth the most open, truthful expressions of our inner light will always create the most impact. So I implore you to let go of your fear and be bold—go forth and share yourself with the world. Someone out there needs to hear from you.
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Voice Activator. Lover of the Larynx and Lake Life. On a mission to elevate women's self-worth & wellness via their voice. one delightful tween daughter. Dabbles in professional voice-over occasionally. Reminding you that You and Your Voice Are Worthy!