What I learned this week: Our voices matter

child's drawing

I used to sing, now I mostly whistle. For as long as I can remember, I've enjoyed accompanying music of all varieties, from big bands to little bands, from songs that rock to those that roll classically or otherwise. That accompaniment most often came by way of singing along.

Then I started losing my voice on a regular basis. Year after year — afteryearafteryearafteryear — I would get a bad cold that would quickly become laryngitis and I couldn't speak at all for days on end, much less sing. So I whistled.

Whistling came in handy when I had no voice, at least for carrying a tune. It didn't help a bit, though, when I needed to speak. For one long stretch of years, the years when I was a writer then editor at the newspaper, the loss of my voice every couple of months frustrated me to no end. I'd have interviews to conduct, people I'd have to speak to on the phone.

I'd gargle lemon juice in the morning before going to work, gargle lemon juice in the restroom at work, gargle it (or sometimes straight vinegar) before conducting an interview. The sour juices would cut through whatever rendered my vocal cords silent and and I could speak... for at least a few moments.

Sometimes, when the lack of a voice made it impossible for me to conduct my editorial business as I should, I had to ask my coworkers at times to return phone calls on important matters or I had to resort to emailing those who needed to talk to me. And this was before the days when folks checked their email on a regular basis — and long before texting was an option.

When my newspaper department was cut and my associates and I were left surviving on freelancing gigs, the loss of a voice still tripped me up now and again. I clearly recall one horrendous interview for a freelance article, a time when Froggy from Little Rascals had nothing on me and my croaking voice, yet the show, er, interview had to go on. I was so embarrassed listening to myself later as I transcribed that interview. So painful it was to hear, and so painful for my poor interviewee.

Soon after that interview, I started my blog. I've not lost my voice since.

As silly and new-agey as it may seem, I do believe in the mind-body connection, and the connection to losing my voice was this: I wasn't saying what I needed to say, the things I needed to let out, the things I wanted people to know about me and hear from me. My blog allowed me to make my voice heard. I was saying the things I needed to say, so no longer would I lose my voice.

Because I've been sick many, many times since starting my blog but have not once lost my voice, I firmly believe that through my blog I found my voice.

Through my blog others have found my voice, too. My voice seems to have resonated with the grandmas and others who have read Grandma's Briefs during the past four years. And this week I learned that my voice has resonated with others beyond grandmas, too.

See, back last year, there was a moment when I was incredibly frustrated by the manner in which I felt grandma bloggers were treated (or ignored) in the bloggy world. So I wrote a post about it, called it The Grandma in a Box. The post was so well received by the readers of Grandma's Briefs that I decided to enter it in the 2013 BlogHer Voices of the Year, which is a pretty big honor for the bloggers chosen.

And this week I learned that post of mine was named — out of the 2,600 entries — not only a Voices of the Year honoree, but the People's Choice selection in the humor category. (The other categories were Inspiration, Heart and OpEd.)

My voice... among the 100 chosen. My voice... one of four People's Choice winners. My voice... now officially a voice that mattered.

So unexpected, so humbling, so exciting.

BlogHer 2013All 100 bloggers selected in the 2013 BlogHer Voices of the Year — including several other midlife voices such as my Generation Fabulous friends Lois Alter Mark, Sandra Sallin, Janie Emaus (a Grilled Grandma!) and Shannon Bradley-Colleary — will be honored at the BlogHer conference July 26 in Chicago. The honor is a big deal, for me and for all the other bloggers named for their voices.

But the honor is a big deal for all grandparent bloggers, too, because my voice — a grandma voice — apparently mattered to folks who are not grandmas, folks who selected the Voices of the Year. Which is huge! That means grandma (and grandpa!) bloggers are finally getting noticed, finally being heard, finally, I hope, being let out of the box.

Not only does my voice matter, our voices matter. And that is what I learned this week, courtesy the 2013 BlogHer Voices of the Year.

I'm over and out for the week, but I look forward to seeing you again Monday here for the GRAND Social link party for grandparents. It's where you can share your posts — your voice — so I hope you'll join me.

Have a lovely weekend!

Today's question:

What did you learn this week?