Getting Enthused and Organized

When creativity begins to crumble

I don’t know about you, but I went through a creative dry spell during much of the initial COVID-19 lockdown, and this was before the horror of racial injustice hit the news. I can’t even talk about that in this post. Just check out this guy, my dear friend: he’s helping tip the scales in the right direction. http://laurahandke.com/study-the-craft-an-interview-with-emmett-wheatfall/

I did write a new speech and got great feedback on it. Taught my voice students via Zoom and walked outside. Other than that, I spent a lot more time in the kitchen cooking and baking than I normally do.

Then, suddenly, my spirit and mind got tired of stagnating, and all these new ideas started coming to me. On my Godwalks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNSqwV7nBOI&list=PL93anMLotz3G_cGf1Asx0jBfF9dzM5J37&index=3 In the shower. One in particular after I met Ashley-Ann Pereira https://www.ashleyann.me/ through Kwesi Millington’s Spectacular Speakers group.

I’ve written three books:

but not yet a book about vocal technique! Ashley-Ann totally inspired me to start it. The book will accompany an online and/or virtual class, PS (for public speaking), Your Voice Could Be Better!, for those who want it – and a weekly drop-in Zoom Voice Lab. 

This is the process I’m using to start my new book, and my tips to you for getting enthused and organized when your creative longings start demanding attention. Note my suggestions are tactical and use actual paper, but I’m sure you can do it digitally as well. I, personally, need to get away from electronic screens during the initial stages of a creative process. And, I always take a Godwalk outside in nature first!

Write down every single idea, as it comes to you, on an individual sticky note. Use large sticky notes of different colors. The ideas will start to show you themes, and each color can be dedicated to one of the themes. When you’re ready to organize, discard the ideas that no longer work and organize the ones that do. Stick one large easel-sized paper piece for each theme on the wall and put each related sticky note on that large paper piece for the corresponding theme.

Once you have everything organized into groups, you can transfer notes in the separate categories to one sheet for an ongoing plan, taking off notes as you complete each task. I like to put 3 (up to 5) weekly goals on my calendar each week. Make sure to include time to yourself and nurturing your inner and outer voice on your calendar as well.

What would you like most to hear about in the online/virtual classes? Would Saturdays from 10:00 am — Noon ST or Noon – 2:00 pm PST be good for the drop-in Voice Lab? Let me know! I’m enthused, excited, getting organized, and wishing you the same.  

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice and Voice Your Love,

Laura

Announcing Contest Winner!

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who contributed entries for a new title/catch phrase for the “Dreams Come True” speech.

Several entries were inspiring, yet the one which most struck our hearts in resonance with the meaning of the speech was from…drum roll please…Shannon Milliman! Thank you, Shannon!

Shannon shared ideas like: Seeking Light with a Car, Cat and $23. Unnamed Angels Ahead. “Shhhh, I hear something …”is it bells?” “is it car brakes?” “is it the neighbor yelling?” and answer with “is that my ‘inner voice’ whispering sweet somethings?” Let the audience know the weight of what your inner voice/intuition illuminates. Red light now inevitably means green light next! Awful moment means light ahead! Listen and let light lead.

Two Honorable Mentions go to:

Beth Nelson for If you look UP, Your dreams will come DOWN.

Lorinda Scott for This is how I learned…to trust my journey will lead me where I need to be.

The working speech title now includes an acronym based on three dates in the speech, each with a different message:

Your Dreams Come True When You APL (sounds like apple):

A: Ask for Help

P: Pay Attention to Signs

L: Listen to Your Inner Voice

Thank you, again, readers. I so appreciate you! I’ll let you know when the next version of the speech is ready. In the meantime, love yourself, people of all colors, and *those you disagree with or don’t care for* as much as possible right now. The world needs lots and lots and lots of love. 

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice and Voice Your Love,

Laura

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

Please Help Me With My Speech!

I work with public speakers, singers and performers every day in my vocal training practice, yet many people who want to more effectively use their voices have never given a speech or presentation. Whether you speak publicly often or never have, there’s something both exciting and scary about giving a new speech for the first time. Especially if it’s a particularly vulnerable and/or personal story, and you’re sharing it for the first time with people you don’t know.

That was my experience last Wednesday speaking to Kwesi Millington’s Spectacular Speakers mastermind group. Here’s Kwesi’s YouTube Video of the meeting. My maiden voyage of this speech (about 10 minutes) starts at 13:32.  

And here’s where you come in, friend! Kwesi gave me several wonderful suggestions for perfecting the speech (which I’ve summarized below, both for my own benefit and to hopefully help you with your next speech) but so far I’m stumped on changing up the catch phrase, Why I Know Dreams Come True.

Please listen to my whole speech first. Then think something along the lines of:

Dreams come true when…

If you ____, your dreams will _____.

Doing ____ will _____ your dreams.

Etc.

You get the idea. Something catchier, a bit more specific to my personal circumstances, and memorable. Please, no clichés like “dreams come true when you follow your heart” – something more unique and original.

The person with the winning speech title and catch phrase to use throughout the speech receives a $65 gift certificate for an hour of vocal training with yours truly (for you or someone you care about) OR a $25 gift card to your favorite takeout/delivery restaurant or coffee shop. The judges will be me, my husband, and Kwesi – although I haven’t actually asked either of them yet.

Yay, this is fun – it’s a contest! Let me know your thoughts, please – there are no bad ideas!

To register for Kwesi’s next meeting, email kwesi@kwesimillington.com.

Regarding the video: please disregard the poor sound and light quality and my gestures. Focus instead on the content, the stories, and what the ideal title and/or repeated catch phrase might be.  

Thanks so much – I can’t wait to read your suggestions!

Evaluation Notes:

-Consider three dates for structure. Keep people curious right at the beginning.

-Preface with the three dates or points.

-For example, the dates of running into Paul, starting with TVI, and the “grandma.”

-Describe her more clearly – “grandma” can put different images into people’s heads.

-Keep the cat consistent throughout and drop the car, food, etc.

-Bring more essence into the feeling at the beginning, why you couldn’t just quit the lousy job.

-As much as we love Ricky, we don’t need him in this speech. Come up with the catch phrase to repeat and keep in only what pertains to that.

-Devil Wears Prada movie will be obsolete, find other ways to describe the manager. Smashing under thumb image, etc.

-People will remember the phrases and the stories.

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice and Voice Your Love,

Laura

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

A Special Tribute: Lady Jane – The Cat of a Thousand Names

Lady Jane Handke Meredith

The Cat of a Thousand Names

3/1/2003 – 5/13/2020

Our love story began in September of 2007, when I visited Salem Friends of Felines with my friend Katherine. We visited several cats, then Katherine noticed one snoozing in a bed at the top of a cat condo towards the back of the room. I hadn’t seen that black cat, because she was higher up and hadn’t uttered a sound. (I later saw the irony in this.) I eased over, reached up, and rubbed the cat’s head and scratched behind her ears. She rolled over to expose her belly, not an easy thing for cats to do since historically predators will attack them there. I casually stroked her belly a few times, spent some more time with other cats, and Katherine and I left the room.

Out of curiosity, I asked the volunteer how long the average cat stay was at the shelter. She said the kittens are all typically gone within about three weeks, but with adults it depends on the cat.  She said, “For example…Lady is such an awesome cat, but she doesn’t put herself out there, so people don’t pay any attention to her. She’s been here for a year and a half.”

I looked at the photos of all the cats on the wall behind the volunteer. Lady was the black cat in the condo at the back of the room. The one who had rolled over and invited me to stroke her tummy. “Just a minute,” I told Katherine, before walking back into the room. I leaned close to Lady’s head, petted her again, and asked if she’d like to come home with me. She didn’t say anything, but a “yes” feeling came over me.

I was staying in Salem that night, not returning home to Lake Oswego until the following day. The shelter wasn’t open Sundays, but the volunteer assured me there would be people there cleaning and giving vaccinations, and they would find a way to let me finalize the adoption paperwork and take Lady home with me.

I went to the shelter Sunday morning stocked from a trip to a pet supply store. The one item I’d forgotten was a proper cat carrier, so the shelter provided a cardboard one with big holes at the top. I eased the cardboard cat carrier with Lady in it into the passenger seat, buckled my seatbelt and headed north on I-5.

Once we hit the freeway, this cat couldn’t stop talking. I responded to all of her vocalizations – sometimes in what I could gather of cat-speak, and other times in human English, saying things like, “Yep, you’re going to your new forever home. It’s in Lake Oswego. My place isn’t fancy, but you’ll like it. I promise I’ll take good care of you.” Every time she spoke, I responded. I frequently took my right hand off the steering wheel to poke a finger through the holes in the cardboard crate so she could smell and feel me. It went this way for the entire 45-minute drive.

Upon reaching the cabin-like apartment at Neff Park Lane, I quickly put up the scratching post, litter box, and food and water bowls, before I released Lady from the crate. She quickly looked around and found a place to hide, under my bed in the bedroom. I checked in, let her know I was around. I put some music on the stereo, lit a candle, sang, cooked, offered words of comfort.

Within 45 minutes, she came out from the bedroom, had a drink of water, ate some food, used the litter box, the scratching post, and made herself at home. That very first night she curled up next to me in bed and we slept and purred together all night long.

I gave her a middle name, “Jane,” the same as my mother’s. Lady became Lady Jane.

She moved with me twice before I fell in love with George Meredith in 2012 and we became engaged and moved into this home together on Lake Forest Blvd. in 2014. We’ve been a family of three since then. George and I married September 14, 2019.

Some of our favorite rituals have been Friday movie nights on the living room sofa, with my legs over George’s and Lady on the afghan over us. George loved his time with Lady in the kitchen in the morning while I was still sleeping, how she loved the warm melted ice cream from the bottom of his bowl. I loved how when I said, “Come to bed and read!” she would snuggle next to me while I sipped tea and enjoyed my latest book.

We have learned so much about unconditional love and how to embrace life from this loving and loveable, sassy, bright, warm, and extremely talkative cat. (Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLjQDdbpV2I.)

After several weeks of steady and gentle physical decline, Lady Jane spent her last night snuggled in bed between her Mama and Papa. By 6:40 am, her breathing had become shallow and we laid her on towels in front of the antique dresser where she had recently been most comfortable. She passed at approximately 8:00 am.

We will love and miss you forever, Lady Jane. Sweets Burrine. Snuggle Toe. Crazy Legged Cat. Punkin’. Squawk Box. Sweetheart. Little Miss Cat. Baby Kitten. Twitchy Tail. Sweetie Pie. Silly Girl. Scarfer. Snuggle Butt. Cuddles. Monkey. Flazzle Foot. Litter Kicker. Wild-Eyed Boogie Wooger. Lady Lou. Queen of the Crunch Machine. Boogie Butt. Lean Mean Kitty Machine. Skidget. Cat With the Honky Tonk Walk. Grunky. Feather Foot. Miss January. Diamond Girl. Tickey, Tickey, Tickey Toe. Baby Cool Juice. Swagger Tail. Chatter Head. Fur Bane Puppy Monkey. Kipsie. Baby Cuteness. Boogie Tron. Sugar Nose. Honey Ears. Plenty of Kitten. Honey Heart. Lady Belle. Angel of the Angel Cats. Our dear, dear, beloved Lady Jane.

I Know Why Dreams Come True

I traveled quite a road to becoming a certified Transformational Voice® teacher.

On May 20th, for the first time, I’ll be sharing some of the more challenging aspects of that journey in a short speech.

To share the maiden voyage of that 9ish-minute speech, register for Kwesi Millington’s (52publicspeakingtips.com) Spectacular Speaker’s Club by reaching out to my friend Kwesi at kwesi@kwesimillington.com. The speech will be evaluated by Kwesi and other club members from several different countries.

This is the most vulnerable speech I’ve shared. It starts out with a journal entry I made nearly 10 years ago on the lowest, scariest, day of my life.

And, it explains why I have become so passionate about teaching people of all ages how to get in touch with their innermost, authentic voice and bring that voice out into the world. That it’s okay to take a risk, and follow that inner voice, even when the rest of the world may say you’re crazy.

I do know that dreams come true. Find out why on May 20th.

Thanks for helping Morgan – her voice class with you has been one of her favorite activities. She is shy – and I love the way it’s giving her confidence in words. I can see it when she speaks to others or even when she has acted and made short videos. I appreciate that you are inspiring – which makes kids want to learn more. You’re fabulous! And so great with helping kids strengthen the inner voice…so they can belt the outer one! 😊 – Janet H, mother of 17-year-old voice student

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice and Voice Your Love,

Laura

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

Seven Levels Deep (thanks to Joe Stump and Dean Graziosi)

Let’s pretend, just for a few minutes, there isn’t a pandemic with so many sad deaths and social distancing requirements.

Do you feel happy and content in your life?

I really do; I’d say joyful, most of the time. I’m madly in love with my still newlywed husband and the home and life we’ve created after 7 ½ years together. Oregon is so beautiful in the Spring it can literally take my breath away for a second or two. I feel I’ve finally found my work and place in the world in a way I never had before my 50th birthday.

Yet a part of me is still always reaching for more. Not because I’m dissatisfied, but because… Well, because satisfaction may just mean settling, I suppose.

Which is why when Dean Graziosi (https://www.deangraziosi.com/) had a huge marketing campaign over a year ago and offered his book, Millionaire Success Habits: The Gateway to Wealth & Prosperity for free if I covered the shipping, I ordered it.

The book had been sitting on my bedroom nightstand, unread, for months until just three weeks ago.

When I got to page 34, something clicked. I reached out to my Wishweaving/Mastermind partner, Jennifer, and said, “We have to do this Seven Levels Deep exercise together.”

She agreed, and we did it.

Read Dean’s book to get the full impact of what he experienced in this exercise, about which he wrote: When you have a tough day, when things don’t go our way, when your new business fails, when things go wrong in your relationship, when your kids disappoint you, what pushes you to keep moving forward? Financial freedom? That’s not deep enough. You need to find the root of your “why.” Why are you reading this book? Why do you want to make more money? Why do you want wealth to come into your life? There is a much deeper level of purpose that is driving you.

Indeed, Dean Graziosi. 

Here are Jennifer’s and my results from the Seven Levels Deep exercise.

Jen’s responses:

1. Why do you want to get out of Corporate America and have your own business?

I want to create my own schedule and have the freedom to live my own life.

2. Why do you want the freedom to create your own schedule and life?

I want to express myself creatively and use my creative gifts for my income.

3. Why is that important to you?

Growing up, my talents and creativity were not only not valued, but often made fun of. I was told it was impossible to earn a living doing something interesting and creative. I want to prove them wrong.

4. Why is it so important to you to use your creative talents for income and to prove them wrong?

There are so many people out there like me, people who were told by our society that there’s only one mold of success. I think society’s wrong. I want to show people it’s possible to create a different kind of success, defined by what success is for them personally, not what society dictates.

5. Why is it important for you to become a beacon of light for these people?

In some ways I feel responsible for what I’ve taught my own children by example and wish I could go back and teach them differently. People need hope. For example, people I met volunteering at the soup kitchen would say they never had the opportunity to go to college, even using that as an excuse. I’m not bashing college or anything, but that’s buying into society’s definition of success. I want to show people they can be successful in other ways, by going after what they want, whatever that is.

6. Why is it so important to you to help people understand they have value, and can go after what they want and create their own definition of success?

Because when you have that belief inside of you, you can do anything. I didn’t have that belief in myself; for years, I always felt like a failure.

7. Why is it important to you to not only create and fulfill your personal vision of success, but to help and inspire others to do the same?

I feel we’re living in a lost world. People try so hard to fit in. I did that for years, instead of doing what makes me feel free. I don’t want to hide myself anymore. I want to show the world the true me, and build real relationships, based on the freedom of being myself.

Laura’s responses:

1. Why did you feel drawn to do this exercise now, and does a sense of security have anything to do with it, since that word has surfaced more than once in the last 24 hours?

My experience in 2010, having quit a job I hated to pursue the vocal training apprenticeship I loved, taught me how to trust I will always have enough, and I always have. I feel secure right now, yet I see my husband go through frequent insecurities and worries due to his childhood experiences. I know that I will be provided for and my life is sweet. Yet I’ve made substantially more money in the past and I’d like to get back to that level of income, savings and investments.

2. Why is getting back to that same level important to you?

In my 20’s, I didn’t make much money. But I enjoyed buying nice clothes and having cute things in my apartment. I was out at the restaurants and clubs, enjoying life, but had no money set aside. Now I have a great husband who is financially conservative and generous, and we can always pay our bills and not accumulate debt. My ex-husband was the opposite and would purchase status symbol items even though we couldn’t afford them. I want to be able to get back to my two vacations a year, put more into savings and investments, and not have to watch my pennies so closely!

3. Why is that?

I know I’m capable of so much more with my business. I’m proud I have walked away from jobs that didn’t feed my heart and soul; the money wasn’t worth it and I knew I deserved something better. I’m creative and I want to live more fully to my potential. My parents and brother have accumulated wealth through self-employment and sound investments, and I often feel I haven’t achieved what I’m meant to.

4. Why is reaching into your potential important to you?

I just have this sense of knowing it’s part of my purpose in this lifetime. I have a subconscious need to keep moving forward. I need to step out of anyone else’s mold and keep creating, learning, and growing.

5. Why is stepping out of the mold and striving for more so important to you?

I feel like I didn’t focus on any one dream or talent and pursue that when I was younger. I was all over the place, going from one thing to the next. If someone had helped nudge me in the direction of my natural talents, interests and gifts, if I’d gone after my dream of being a performer, for example, I’d likely have been successful. All these years later, it’s hard not to feel like I may have squandered my gifts, certainly my focus.

6. Why is this focus now important to you?

I’ve always felt I was different and that my differences weren’t necessarily celebrated. If nobody else is going to celebrate my differences, damnit, then I am!! It’s important to me to celebrate what makes me unique and to be an inspiration and teacher to those who feel stuck in a mold. It’s amazing how I’ve been able to do that as a voice teacher, while working with – not just people’s outer voices – but their inner voices as well.

7. Why is it important to inspire others who may be stuck in a mold?

I spent way too long focusing on things that didn’t support my deepest dreams and desires. Nobody told me that that to follow my inner voice and creative leanings would allow me to create a life incorporating what I now know are my three underlying guiding values: freedom, flexibility and creativity. Nobody should have to live in opposition to their deepest values. Living that way caused me unnecessary stress and unhappiness. I want to be the support to others that I didn’t have, that many people in our society don’t have. Everybody deserves to live a life incorporating their innermost guiding values and greatest talents and interests.

While Jen and I may have worded our responses differently, and our dreams and what we want to express in the world are different, I noticed one startling similarity. We both want to express our own unique creativity, self, in the world, and be rewarded and paid for it.

Doesn’t everyone, really, at heart?

Doing What They Do

As children we’re taught to stand in line and do what everybody else does. We’re taught to get good grades, follow the crowds, do what’s popular at the time, go to high school, get into a college, then find a job, start a 401K, save our money, and hopefully retire with enough to get us to death without running out. We’re taught to paint inside the lines because when we step outside the lines everybody looks at us funny…

When you follow the same path everybody else is on, you get where everybody else has been. I’m giving you permission to forget all the guidelines, forget all the rules that other people have put on you, and forget what society has told you is right or wrong. Be yourself and do what makes you happy. I’m not telling you to go out tomorrow and quit whatever it is that you do. What I am saying is, start realizing your true worth and know that you can evolve in the direction you choose. -Dean Graziosi, Millionaire Success Habits: The Gateway to Wealth & Prosperity

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice and Voice Your Love,

Laura

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)