I had completed a post for Blog Action Day and then I went searched #BAD15 to see what other people were doing and found this article: The Freedom To Raise Your Voice. I barely skimmed the first paragraph before stopping because I was already feeling... how do I describe it? Yucky. First of all, this is exactly the kind of thing that I'm sheltering myself from right now - stories of injustice, violence, and generally showing the dark side of humanity. Because I'm pregnant and I feel it's really important for both me and the baby that I do that - protect us. I'm very sensitive and reading stories like these can overwhelm me with sadness. I know that it is a privilege that I am able to do this and I hold those in my heart who are not as fortunate as I am. Because for some, stress, violence, and fear is a daily part of their life, not just part of their "newsfeeds". They have no choice... But I do. And I do not honor them or help the world by allowing myself and my body, and therefore my baby, to be washed over with despair.
Then there are all sorts of other feelings - inadequacy, helplessness, and hopelessness - to name a few. Who am I - with my beginner's guitar skills and trembling voice to believe that anything I have to say (or sing!) will make a difference?
And that is exactly why I know I MUST post. Even if I want to shy away from associating myself and my blog with Blog Action Day and their very noble cause - because I feel what I wrote what I wrote is not "important enough" - I must NOT do so. I must raise my voice for exactly this reason - Because how many people must feel all of those things I just felt (however fleetingly) every day? The world's problems are completely overwhelming if we try to take them in and ON all at once. The funny thing is I knew that many of the writings would be serious - after all I found this description on the official site for Blog Action Day:
We all have the power to create the world we want to see when we raise our voices online.
So this post is for all of us regular folks - mothers and fathers, artists and entrepreneurs, dreamers and doers - you know, those of us who aren't necessarily on a world saving mission but we are doing our darned best every day to make a little difference. Maybe it is by raising our children in the best way we know how or by volunteering with our church, maybe it's by bringing food to a family in need or who is grieving, or maybe it's just getting through the day the best we can. Whatever small kindnesses we are doing, we need to know and believe that they make a difference. So to all people, everywhere I say:
Raise your voices! Raise your voice by singing and dancing, by laughing and crying. Weep with those who grieve and rejoice with those who celebrate. Raise your voice by helping those less fortunate than you. Raise your voice by reaching out to a friend in need, by picking up the phone, or posting something on social media that you've always been scared to share. Raise your voice by volunteering for your favorite charity. Raise your voice by using your time, resources, and money to create change in your neighborhood, city, country... World. Raise your voice by writing a letter, a song, a love note. Raise your voice by doing things that you love, that set you on fire, and that inspire you and others.
When others cannot raise their voices - Raise Yours for them! And then - when time and circumstances demand silence - Stop and Listen - make space and opportunities for others to Raise Their Voices.
Although I have never dealt with threats of violence or censorship, when I started writing I DID feel like I was taking a big personal risk. It was scary to "Speak My Peace." I worried about hurting loved ones and the possibility of estranging friends and family was very real. But the freedom, empowerment, and inner peace that came with "outing" myself was worth the risk. And of course publishing my thoughts and beliefs publicly HAS affected my relationships - how could it not? Mostly, I have received positive feedback and started great conversations with people, but there have been some challenges. Actually, one of the most difficult things for me was when I felt ignored - like I was putting these big ideas out there, and there were key people in my life who stayed silent. But over time you become more comfortable with making yourself vulnerable and realize that 1) you cannot ever control other people's reactions, 2) the people that matter the most will want to reach out and connect with you - whether they agree with what you've shared or not and 3) Life mostly goes on as it always has - the world keeps spinning and the sun still rises the morning after you click "post".
I've been pretty quiet lately. There are many reasons. Because I'm pregnant, I've felt more private and have retreated to my internal world a lot. I've been doing a lot of things to take care of myself and the baby growing inside of me. Also I feel really close to my family and loving spending lots of time with each of them doing things we each love to do.
Besides that, and maybe most importantly, I've said a lot of what I have to say. And now I really feel like I'm LIVING IT. Of course, I'm not perfect and there is always room for improvement - which is one of the Big Ideas! In truth, The Biggest Truth that is finally sinking in is this: The best thing I can do both for myself, my loved ones, and the world is to become my best self. That means I'm less focused on things like "Changing the World" and "World Peace" and more focused on things like "How can I grow?" and "What can I learn from this experience?" I truly believe in the long run this is the only path to addressing those larger seemingly "more important" issues.
And of course there is the fact that I am I'm just too darn busy (and content!) to blog much. That being said, there are still a lot of things that I want to write about in the future. I still get fired up about children's rights, education, poverty, inequality, and racism - among other things. Some topics I would go so far as to say that I feel compelled to write about... when the time feels right.
But instead of focusing on any one of these issues right now (when I am not truly "feeling" those topics) I am going to be brave in a new way today. In honor of those people who are actively facing threats of violence TODAY, I'm going to Raise My Voice in a way that I love. Encouraged first by my father, I've decided today will be the day I share a new YouTube channel I'm creating just for music that I make. October 16th also happens to be my dad's birthday - another Serendipitous Synchronicity. (<-- is that redundant?? oh well!) When I realized that Blog Action Day was his birthday and the theme "Raise Your Voice" fit so well with me wanting to share my voice through music, I just knew what I had to do.
So this may not be the most meaningful blog post on a global scale, but it is deeply meaningful on a personal level. I want to encourage people everywhere to Be Brave! and Say What you Need to Say in ways large and small. It really will make a difference.
In addition to my Dad, I want to thank my super-supportive husband (who is convinced if I learn to play just the right Bruce Springsteen song I will be a YouTube Star!), my ever-loving and listening mother, my kids who tolerate me practicing most evenings, and all of my family and friends. You all make it easier for me to speak up and be true to myself every day.
I hope you all enjoy my Strummins' and Hummins' and yes - I am taking requests. I need more songs to learn! I'm specifically looking for some more joyful, uplifting material as I seem to be drawn to sad songs. These are by no means "finished" works or "polished pieces" - I'm still learning to play and find my voice. I started to learn guitar in January of this year and have wanted to keep track of my progress - so maybe you can come along with me, and we can give and receive encouragement and inspiration to do the things we most love. Also, I am getting over a cold, but went ahead with recording a few songs on my phone today anyway (lots of hi-tech equipment here!) But no more excuses - this is not about Perfection; it is about Doing and Trying, Sharing and Improving!
Thanks for reading. This is for all the people who "Stand By Me." I've posted a few more on my new YouTube page: Susan May: Strummin' and Hummin' - a place where I plan to Raise My Voice often in the future. So please stop by today and in the future! I'm not sure where this guitar playing is going to lead but I know it brings me a lot of joy and for that I'm grateful.
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.