My voice


I really should be in bed, but I assigned my students to comment on my blog.

It would be great if I had WRITTEN the blog.

I’m supposed to write about voice. All serious writers strive to develop their own unique voice that speaks from the page. It’s hard to do. Julia Cameron says you have to write from the gut. Tennessee poet laureate Maggie Vaughn says, “You have to have fire in the belly”—like those old pot-bellied stoves.

It’s true. To write with passion, your inner being has to burn with passion. You can’t NOT write whatever it is you have to wite. Passion produces voice. Voice stems from emotion.

My motto is, “Laughter good. Tears bad.”  And there are those days when the motto isn’t worth diddly squat.

I steer clear from the tears. I’d much rather make people laugh, but today has been an off day. And I don’t have anything silly to say.

My day is a by-product of my procrastination. I have been putting off going through stacks and stacks and stacks of paper and mementos I have saved. But today was deep house cleaning day. I couldn’t put it off.

So with much ado, I finally got around to sifting and sorting. I found a HUGE stack of sympathy cards my dad had bundled together after my mother died. She always took care of the storing of cards. When I was moving things out of their house, I found a portable filing system. She must have saved every birthday card, every Christmas card, every Valentine’s Day card, the boys and I ever gave them.

But what do I do with the sympathy cards? I don’t know these people who sent them. I have no use for them, but to throw them away seems thoughtless. Neither of the boys will know what to do with them. I have made scrapbooks for them so that they and their children can look back to their elementary school years and reminisce about what it was like back then.

But maybe they don’t want to. I guess they’ll be like me, wondering what to do with all the “stuff.”

I also found a stack of Christmas cards, addressed to me, unopened. My heart dropped because I was going through such a sad time that I didn’t even realize I had Christmas cards. So what do I do with them now? It’s kind of late to show them off on the stair railing as I’ve done in the past, and I can’t send a Christmas card in return. I never even got the chance to say thank you. Too late.

I hate those words. If ever I wrote with a fire in the belly it’s now. I can click on Facebook and find at least a dozen or more nifty pictures to repost that say, “It’s never too late to ___.” You can fill in the blank. But the truth is, yeah, there is a time when it’s too late.

Sifting through all those papers made me remember the worst day in my life, the day I was supposed to call my dad.

I didn’t remember until it was late. When I didn’t get an answer, my worst fear came true. It was too late. We confirmed my fears by driving up to the house. It was a terrible night. And then there was the police, the ambulance, the trip to the hospital, the night, and the next morning.

I threw away the Van Halen shirt I had been wearing. I didn’t want any reminders.

But I’m reminded all the time. I have sifted and sorted my dad’s papers, and I put them back in the boxes I found them. Birth certificates, a marriage license, deeds, warranties, military papers, etc. What do I do with all that? Where will it end up?

I think I should want to travel lightly. Two guitars. A baseball. Scrapbooks for the boys. Everything else can go. No need to ask. No need to wonder. No need to hang on to anything material.

The important things can’t be saved for later. They should be taken care of now, said now, done now, for tomorrow may be too late.

So, dear ones, if you should wonder what my voice is. This is it, a desperate plea for you to pay attention to what matters most in life, the people you love.

Yes, I do love to laugh. I love to make others laugh, but nothing is more important to letting others know how much you love.

32 thoughts on “My voice

  1. You have already mastered your voice…now if you could just see it yourself…but like all great artists…your masterpiece is never finished…just turn the page…and keep writing! Great reminder eloquently stated…be purposeful…which you already do so well.

  2. I like that. Turn the page and keep writing. Great advice. 🙂 I really try to stay from dark, depressing topics. I want to encourage. But I do need to find my purpose and pursue it. Thank you. 🙂

    • Thank you , Anna. There are days when I think I soar. (I probably don’t.) Then there are days like today when I am very insecure about my writing. I really do appreciate you for taking the time to read and to leave a note. 🙂 I really like reading your writing. It inspires me.

  3. I love how you describe things and I like the anologys though not many… You have a wonderful voice and now all you must do is realize that and take advantage of it. I also like your motto lol. Simple and easy to remember.

  4. It seems to me that you were close with your parents. It’s always hard when anyone passes, but nothing compares to close family. I did, however, enjoy reading this. Good insight on the aspect of life that matters the most.

    • Thanks, Alex. I always think about the time I invest. I love working with people, but I never meant to spend my life shuffling papers. If you love music, I hope you get a chance to immerse yourself in it. My “job” has kept me away from the people I care about. It wouldn’t be so bad if I were doing something I felt was my calling. But to give away time at the expense of people you love, I know there is something wrong with that. Thanks for reading. I value your input.

  5. My mom died three years ago. She took her last breath as I held her in my arms. It was hard, but i am glad I was that close to her. As I was going through her belongings, I could not believe all the cards she had kept, especially since she had moved from place to place so many times. I, like you, just did not know what to do with all those cards. It just seemed they were a part of her! But there was one that I found which was priceless. I recognized it immediately. It was a card I had made for her when I was probably about nine years old. I used colored paper and drew a pic of a bird on a branch on the front. I had forgotten what was inside though. When I opened it I found this poem:
    Dear Mother,
    I don’t know how to put into words
    All the things that you have done.
    How you have loved and cared for me
    And I’m proud to be your son.
    What I feel, I cannot say,
    But I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day.

    It made me laugh and cry at the same time. But I am so glad I had written that for her. And I couldn’t believe she had managed to keep it for over 50 years. Reading your blog reminded me of this for some reason. Thanks for the memories! Mothers are special, and occasionally we get a glimpse inside their heart.

    • Thank you for sharing this. It really touched my heart, and I’m glad that my writing found a purpose today. If it brough back good memories for you, then I feel accomplished. 🙂

  6. This blog post made me think back to when my grandpa (dad’s dad)passed away. It will be two years in April. He had a tumor in his brain, but he was too old to go through with surgery so it was just a waiting process. He stayed in an assisted living home and my whole family would visit. Finally it got to the point he couldn’t talk and he didn’t remember anyone. The day he passed was the only day i have ever saw my dad cry. It just really hit me that anyone’s life could be taken at any moment! I don’t think it ever gets easier but we just have to accept the fact God has a plan for everything!! I just live life day by day and make the best out of it! And when i hit a bad day i just eat a gallon of ice cream haha 🙂

    • Yes, life is short, and it is a gift. We waste it recklessly at times. Life is much more enjoyable if we just let go of trying to control it. We didn’t create the world, so why we think we can take over now, I don’t know. 🙂 Your remedy for a bad day (ICE CREAM) doesn’t sound so bad to me. I’ll take mint chocolate chip. 🙂

  7. It was Hard for Me and My Family when my Mom passed away We have photos of her and had a bunch at the memorial service, When she would get real sick she would bounce back at least we know she is in a better place pain free Shooting hoops that was her nickname Hoops Thanks for a wonderful post on your blog Teresa

    • You have such a sweet spirit, Dennis. I know your mom would be/ is so proud of you. I like that nickname, Hoops. I’m sure she will continue to be an inspiration to you, and you will, in turn, be an inspiration to others.

  8. I shared your blog with several people. They “heard” your voice. Yes, there were tears but there was also understanding and some shared laughter.

    • I know that some of my writing is better than others. I have off days. There are days that I have written and have ALMOST gone back and deleted what I have posted because I think it is so terrible. I don’t because I’m learning to accept me for who I am at the moment. Thanks for reading, Cody.

    • Thank you for the kind words. It’s okay to tell me the things I can improve too. When you comment on a blog, the writers always likes “a pat on the back,” but constructive criticism helps the writer improve.

  9. This is a crazy coincidence…just last week I was going through my box of memories and old things and I found letters my great grandmother had written to me that I never replied to, for reasons unbeknownst to me. It occurred to me then, as I read each letter, how awful she must have felt to never once have gotten a reply from me, because when I was a child, we were very close. Once I moved away though, the most she heard of me was a call maybe every couple of months, but I never took time out of my day to write her a letter. Realizing this made me cry because she is getting very old and probably won’t be here much longer, so I called her immediately, and I could hear her happiness through the phone. She was so happy that I had thought of her, after all this time. What really made me do it was in one of the letters, she wrote me before going into surgery, and she asked me to “Say a little prayer for me, and maybe it won’t hurt so much.” That brought me to tears…because I never did, and I regret not realizing how much she means to me until now. Thank you for sharing your story.

  10. I try to step back occasionally and evaluate my priorities to see if I’m neglecting the important things. Cultivating relationships is essential and edifying, but it can be so challenging and, for introverts, draining. Sadly, I often spend more time tending my to-do list than investing in relationships. I pray that God will help me spend the time He gives me wisely, in ways that honor and please Him.

    • That is wise advice–seeking God’s guidance. The things I want to do, I don’t. The things I don’t want to to, I do. Left by myself, I’m a mess.

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