It can be difficult to appreciate how much power we hold in our single, often seemingly insignificant voice. In a noisy world of news, social media, & vast information it seems everyone has an opinion about how we should be. In a culture often driven by do more, be more, buy more it’s easy to lose sight of the value our voice & contribution truly makes.
This is a common struggle for many & one I hear particularly often from the moms I know. These incredible women who juggle work, family, career, partnership, & these days a pandemic will share with me their feelings of guilt & not enough-ness. I recently chatted with one client who was fervently upset with herself for not doing more in her career. I learned through our conversation that she was homeschooling her kids, while caring for the house, & working part time. It wasn’t until I gently reflected everything she was doing that she could see that it really was enough
I think sometimes the idea of having a powerful voice is antiquated with being well recognized, successful, & public. The reality however, is that many of the most powerful voices are those that exist behind the spot light - the parents who offers love & affection to their children, the friend that is there in the darkness, the teacher, the mentor, even the stranger who sees us when we can’t see ourselves. The power of our voice is not lost in the intricacies & complexities of our life - it is shared there. Even if the world doesn’t know your voice, it will. Our voice imprints on those it touches & lives on in the lessons & gifts we offer.
In today’s blog I want to share with you the wisdom of the greatest voice in my life - my momma. In all the years of study, practices, & travel, it’s her voice that lives most fully inside of me. The wisdom she has offered in her presence, actions, & words planted seeds that became the anchors for who I am. I hope these nuggets may offer you some of the same clarity & comfort they have for me.
And to all of you, the mothers, parents, teachers, friends, & mentors who give your hearts & attention to those you love, thank you. You may not always be thanked & the ripples of your contribution may not be seen right away but your voice is a foundation of the society we live in. Thank you for the gifts you give every single day.
Lessons from my Mom
Lesson #1: Do what is right for you
This is perhaps the most fundamental lesson my mom both offered & lives to this day. I’ve asked her many times why she made a certain choices whether with us kids or in her life & her answer is always the same “ I just did what felt right.” It was this felt sense of knowing that she followed even when those around her disagreed with her decisions. Once when I was sixteen I called my mom (as I always did) to let her know where I was, which happened to be the local bar. Her friends, who she was with at the time, were shocked to learn that my mom was okay with her underage daughter being at a bar! But my mom had her reasons - she knew where I was, she knew I would deal with any consequences, & she knew I wasn’t hiding anything from her. To her this was right regardless of what others thought.
My mom emphasized this power of choice throughout my life, even when the choices I made were difficult for her. Whether it was deciding to be a vegetarian at 12 (I grew up on a cattle farm), moving to Europe at 18, solo travelling through India at 23 or any number of life decisions she was always there to both share her honest perspective & ultimately support the decision that I felt was right for me. My mom gave me the room to make mistakes & figure things out. As an adult I realize how powerful this really was because it’s through these choices & mistakes that I was able to discover who I am.
Lesson #2: The Practice of Faith
My mom has always been committed to her church & community. And though I admire her commitment - from teaching Sunday school, to volunteering, to lending a hand in the community, it’s her practice of faith that moves me most to this day.
For years I have watched my mom pray for others. These moments are quiet, intimate, & between her & her God. She showed me what a personal relationship with spirit looks like - not preachy, not dogmatic, not performative, but humble, caring, & honest. Even as my own ideologies have shifted her implicit teachings of faith resound deeply inside of me - that faith is personal, it’s humble & it’s cultivated in a mutually loving relationship between ourself & that which is greater.
Lesson #3: Genuine Care for Others
One of my earliest memories is my mom taking me to the hospital to sit with someone near end of life. She invited me to sing to them & we stayed there for awhile. We often went to the hospital to visit those in the community that were ill, dying, or recovering from surgery. My mom demonstrated to me what it is to be generous with time & attention. Whether it was listening to me go on for hours about my latest heart break, baby-sitting one of her many grandchildren, or volunteering her time to help others in the community my mom has been there.
Years ago I went to a Carolyn Myss retreat & she said that when you feel like no one loves you go out & love somebody. Her point was that it’s in offering our care that we receive it in return. My mom is a testament to this & her in her genuine care of others she has taught me that in the gift of offering love we receive it.
Lessen #4: Your Anger is Only Hurting You
When I was in my early 20’s I would get frustrated at my mom for not behaving the way I thought she should. In my eyes she didn’t speak up for herself enough (a struggle I definitely had) & on one particular occasion I became quite angry with her. I told her how I felt, how I thought she should act differently, & was visibly upset.
My mom looked at me & without any anger or defence & said “Amy the only person your anger is hurting is you.” In that plain clear statement I could see it - my anger & blame wasn’t about her, it was about me. It was my problem, not hers. This was a moment of growth - it changed how I looked at her & helped me to respect that she was responsible for her choices & that I was responsible for mine.
Lesson #5: Choose Your Battles
My mom rarely engaged in conflict & wasn’t one to stir the pot - but she wasn’t a pushover either. When she felt strongly about something she was willing to stand up & fight for it. Whether it was a decision in parenting or something in her community my mom stood up for the things that mattered - & let go of the ones that really didn’t.
My mom’s ability to choose her battles, at least in my perspective, gave her voice weight. She wasn’t going to argue about the little things, but when she did stand up for something you knew she meant it, you knew there was cause for her being there.
Lesson #6: The Meaning of Family
My mom knew the importance & power of family. My dad will share that this is one of the things that he loves most about her. She knew what it meant to be in & support a loving family & home. This was less of a technique & more of something she embodied. When one of us kids got in trouble, even if we made her angry, we knew she still loved us. She didn’t hold a grudge & she took the time, at least in my experience, to talk through challenging situations. We were allowed to be ourselves & to make our choices but we were also support with care, advice, & boundaries. We were a part of something & with that came responsibility.
In later years as I studied psychology I can to realize the power of this gift. Something that was so intrinsic to our relationship that I couldn’t even see it. I also learned that when we give this sense f family to others with our presence & genuine care that they are better able to find it in themselves. This is a gift we can offer to our friends & community as well as biological family - it’s not about the constellation but the intention of care & engagement.
The Power of One Voice
One voice, one person, even one encounter can have a ripple effect. When I look back on my journey I can see the reflection of my mother’s voice in so many decisions I’ve made. We don’t always get to see the effect we have but we do have an effect. I close today with an invitation to remember the voices that have most impacted you.
About the Author Amy Thiessen is a coach, writer, & musician who focuses on helping others find & express a their voice with resonance. Her unique approach works with the wholistic mechanism of voice utilizing somatic awareness, psychology, mindfulness, spiritual practice, & vocal techniques of toning & song.
Personal relationships are foundational to our sense of self & interpersonal support. If you would like support in navigating & communication more effectively please book a free consult & we can see if 'In Resonance' Coaching is right for you.