Simply Authentic…Your Soul Voice is Calling. A Thanksgiving Note

Simply Authentic…Your Soul Voice is Calling. A Thanksgiving Note

A Thanksgiving Note

Hello, Dear Readers,

How did you spend your Thanksgiving Day?

I grew up in a family of four: Mom, Dad, me, and brother Jason. Yet I have a large extended family, as my mother came from a family of nine siblings. So, I have lots of aunts, uncles, cousins, and all their kids, and now their children have children. I always looked forward to holidays, because of all the people I got to connect with, and having cousins to play with as a girl.

And…the food was always awesome. I come from a family of great cooks.

I spoke with a voice student yesterday, a woman who has sensitivities to many foods, so her holidays center around rituals and grounding moreso than food.

This is something we can all incorporate, whether we have food sensitivities or not. The holidays can be frenetic, but they don’t have to be.

Sometimes I miss being around my big, extended family in South Dakota. Yet I also appreciate a more quiet, intimate holiday celebration as I had with my partner, George, and cat Lady Jane this Thanksgiving. The weather here in the Willamette Valley was mild, with just a bit of rain, so George and I went outside for a good walk after breakfast and between making music together. I spoke with a dear friend in Canada, as she is going through a transition and we are reconnecting – her birthday is tomorrow. Early evening, I called my brother, then parents, and finally aunt and uncle who hosted Thanksgiving in South Dakota this year. Each conversation was heartfelt, and often filled with much laughter.

Each holiday is an opportunity to become centered, grounded, and set your intentions for what you want to experience, and what you want to bring into your life moving forward. Let us know your intentions on the blog!

Here’s my non-traditional Thanksgiving Dinner menu:

*Fresh green salads with lots of veggies

*Chicken parmigiana

*Pasta with simple homemade marinara sauce

*Parmesan bread

*Apple crisp with homemade whipped cream for dessert

And here’s the chicken parmigiana recipe, for those of you who enjoy cooking:

Chicken Parmigiana

This is for the capacity of a small roasting pan, so have that amount of chicken cutlets at room temperature.

-Slightly beat one egg and combine with splashes of olive oil and some good crushed garlic.

Combine:

-1/3 C parmesan cheese, 2 TBSP bread/cracker crumbs.

Dip chicken cutlets first in egg mixture, then coat with parmesan crumb mixture.

Brown meat with minced onion in 2 TBSP oil and transfer to baking pan.

Stir together:

-8 oz. tomato sauce, pepper, Italian seasoning, perhaps extra oregano and basil.

Pour over chicken in pan and bake at 375 for about 30 minutes.

-Top generously with shredded mozzarella cheese about 10 minutes before it’s done.

Enjoy!

Wow! What an amazing workshop at the Oregon Mediation Association’s 31st annual conference! My wonderful audience and I had a full 90 minutes together. See my initial speaker reel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8alNyT2Siw. I love teaching speakers how to HONE their message: keep me in mind for your next keynote or workshop.

Here are just a few examples (of many) of what people had to say:

I came away with a much better understanding of how to do, and effectively use, belly breathing to speak confidently, efficiently and effectively. -Caroline M.

Laura is a skilled teacher and observer of her students. -Anita E.

Supportive, fun, safe…and immediately applicable tools and skills. -Barbara M.

Laura truly connects with her audience. She makes people feel comfortable and safe to be vulnerable and find their authentic voice. Thank you. -Angela P.

Laura was fantastic and empowering. -Laura D.

If you found this post helpful, please spread the love and pass it along to a friend!

Authentically Yours, Laura

Simply Authentic…Your Soul Voice is Calling. How to Listen

Simply Authentic…Your Soul Voice is Calling. How to Listen

How to Listen

As the assistant teacher for the current Transformational Voice® Apprentice Teacher program, one of my assignments is to read the book Soul Without Shame: A Guide to Liberating Yourself from the Judge Within, by Byron Brown. I’m on page 81 of 303 as I write this post.

Rosalind Diamond, whom my voice teacher, Linda, and I consider to be a “Yoda” type master, recommended the book prior to her session with us on Embodied Query and Sensing. Diamond graduated from U. C. Berkeley with a degree in English, then received a Master’s Degree in Integral Counseling from the California Institute of Integral Studies before being trained in the Rhidwan School, a method for personal inquiry based on open-ended, embodied engagement with immediate experience, supported by a cultivated sense of presence.

The gist…? Everything you need to know is stored within your body, and what isn’t available right now can be accessed through the “Field of Awareness,” when fueled by curiosity and passion.

Sound like woo-woo mumbo jumbo? Maybe not. Consider the times your body, with no logical reason, drew you towards something, or away from something. Here’s a great example from my life right here: http://laurahandke.com/simply-authentic-your-soul-voice-is-calling-listen-to-your-inner-voiceintuitive-nature-ivin/. Think also about when you have received messages with no logical explanation. Here’s another example, of when I introduced friends Rob and Stella, because I heard a message they were meant to be together. http://laurahandke.com/simply-authentic-your-soul-voice-is-calling-the-inner-voiceintuitive-nature-at-work/.

Our bodies and the universal field are immense avenues of wisdom and guidance, if only we pay attention to those impulses, rather than the inner judge.

More about this next time…

Wow! What an amazing workshop at the Oregon Mediation Association’s 31st annual conference! My wonderful audience and I had a full 90 minutes together, and a video with clips is coming soon. I love teaching speakers how to HONE their message, and am really good at it! Keep me in mind for your next keynote or workshop. Here are just a few examples (of many) of what people had to say:

I came away with a much better understanding of how to do, and effectively use, belly breathing to speak confidently, efficiently and effectively. -Caroline M.

Laura is a skilled teacher and observer of her students. -Anita E.

Supportive, fun, safe…and immediately applicable tools and skills. -Barbara M.

Laura truly connects with her audience. She makes people feel comfortable and safe to be vulnerable and find their authentic voice. Thank you. -Angela P.

Laura was fantastic and empowering. -Laura D.

If you found this post helpful, please spread the love and pass it along to a friend!

Authentically Yours, Laura

Simply Authentic…Your Soul Voice is Calling. When You’re Feeling Down

Simply Authentic…Your Soul Voice is Calling. When You’re Feeling Down

When You’re Feeling Down

A woman in my former master-mind group, Success Weavers Circle, was once feeling very low and going through a rough time. (And she’s one of the most brilliant, creative, and gifted people I know, clearly well on her path to becoming a highly successful and needed grief counselor.) Rather than using her time in that particular meeting for brain-storming, ideas and suggestions, Natalia asked that we all simply tell her what we appreciate most about her. So, for 10 solid minutes she was able to hear all the qualities and characteristics we see and admire in her, that she wasn’t able to recognize in herself at that moment. She was tender and in tears at the end of the 10 minutes (we all were), and she also felt a whole heck of a lot better! It was a lovely experience, one I’ll remember myself the next time I’m struggling, as I was for three solid weeks mid-summer.

What are three wonderful things you can say about yourself right now? Let us know on the blog. If you can’t come up with any right now, say three wonderful things about a friend.

Remember something. Qualities we most admire in our friends and colleagues, we possess ourselves. Otherwise, we wouldn’t recognize them in others.

If peaceful conflict resolution is in your wheelhouse, come to the Oregon Mediation Associations’ 31st Annual Conference November 3rd & 4th in Portland, where I will be presenting HONE Your Message.

One example of feedback from HONE Your Message, Toastmasters for Speaking Professionals, October 17th: Laura has a wonderful sense of the value of voice control and communicating well, and shares it with enthusiasm and fun. Her exercises are so helpful, with an emphasis on how to improve our voices to become more effective. -The Sassy Sage, Joan Lubar

If you found this post helpful, please spread the love and pass it along to a friend!

Authentically Yours, Laura

Simply Authentic…Your Soul Voice is Calling. What Are You Proud Of?

Simply Authentic…Your Soul Voice is Calling. What Are You Proud Of?

What Are You Proud Of?

Have you noticed, like me, how easy it is to get so caught up in what you need to do next, all of the things you either want to accomplish or simply need to get done, that you forget to pat yourself on the back for a job well done?

It’s important to congratulate ourselves. Even while sitting here at the computer, writing, I’ll stop myself for a moment. “Hey, Laura, that was an awesome paragraph!” I stop typing and reach my right hand to the back of my left shoulder, giving myself a good ol’ pat on the back.

It’s silly to wait and receive our accolades from somebody else – clients, family members, friends. They have enough problems of their own and are focusing on what they need to accomplish and get done. We need to be our own biggest cheerleaders.

While writing this post, I went to the kitchen to check on dinner. Sometimes George cooks; sometimes I do. Tonight, I offered to make dinner. I browned sliced chicken breasts and baked them in the oven with a simple sauce (built-in gravy) using a can of cream of celery soup with milk and seasonings. Boiled russet potatoes with the skins on to make mashed potatoes. Opened a couple cans of green beans, and baked a cut acorn squash brushed with butter, a sprinkling of brown sugar, and freshly ground four pepper blend and pink Himalayan sea salt. It was a relatively simple meal.

George said, “I am so grateful for your cooking. I’ve eaten at some places lately that my stomach just did not want to tolerate. I don’t have a cast iron stomach like I used to, and my body is so used to your good cooking, it doesn’t like greasy, fast-food type meals anymore.”

I am proud of that!

In previous homes, I developed a knack for sponge-painting the walls in different rooms for a “faux” look. Some walls turned out better than others, but I would often take the time to look at the walls in different lights, at different times of the day, and congratulate myself for making a beautiful piece of artwork from a simple wall.

Here’s another thing I’m very proud of.

When I moved to Oregon in 1990, I found work as a Claims Adjuster at SAIF Corporation, and was in their holiday choir three years in a row, singing and playing the piano. In high school, I was in a trio called The Cadets, and we won the talent portion of the local Snow Queen contest two years in a row. The first year, when I was 16, we sang the Andrew Sisters’ Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B.

I re-wrote the Boogie Woogie lyrics: Santa’s Comin’ to Willamette Valley and formed a trio for the SAIF Corporation Holiday Choir. To this day, I feel very proud of this accomplishment. You can see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHFod5snl3M&feature=youtu.be

What are you most proud of? Let us know on the blog, where we can support each other in bringing our voices out in the world.

HONE Your Message is coming to Toastmasters for Speaking Professionals October 17th.

If peaceful conflict resolution is in your wheelhouse, come to the Oregon Mediation Associations’ 31st Annual Conference November 3rd & 4th in Portland, where I will be presenting HONE Your Message.

If you found this post helpful, please spread the love and pass it along to a friend!

To Your Voice, Laura

Simply Authentic…Your Soul Voice is Calling. What Are You Known For?

Simply Authentic…Your Soul Voice is Calling. What Are You Known For?

What Are You Known For?

One of the greatest among the many aha teachings seared into my soul by my mentor-mother-friend Maya Angelou is the one about legacy.

I’d just returned from the opening of my school in South Africa and was regaling her with all the details.

“This school will be my greatest legacy,” I said. “It will make such a profound difference. It will change the trajectory of girls’ lives. It will impact generations to come.”

I was pretty confident making those statements. And time has proved them true, as I witness the members of the first classes now blossomed into young women graduating from college and venturing into new areas of service and achievement.

But Maya wasn’t hearing it. She stopped me cold. “You have no idea what your legacy will be!” she exclaimed. “Your legacy is every life you touch! It’s every person who ever watched your show and felt something. Was moved to do something. Go back to school, leave an abusive marriage, stop hitting their kids, no longer remain silent, not be a victim. It’s not one thing – it’s everything!”

-Oprah Winfrey, O Magazine, September, 2017

I finished reading the September issue of O Magazine a day before this text came in from my friend, Michelle: “You need to watch Worst Cooks in America—Celebrity Edition on the Food Network. Erik Estrada is on it.”

Michelle, one of my best high school friends, knows about my Erik Estrada thing. As you can see in this blog entry, http://laurahandke.com/happy-63rd-birthday-erik-estrada/ I finally met the man at the age of 33. That’s one thing I’m known for. Likely also that I only watch one television show, The Young and the Restless, on CBS. I’ve been watching since age 15, and am not about to stop now. Whenever possible, I eat my lunch while learning the latest gossip from Genoa City. (Yes, I know. Don’t even…) My biggest acting goal is not to earn an Academy Award, but to have a six-to-eight-week stint on Y&R. I admit it. It’s true.

Many colleagues and friends know about my thing for author and famous life coach, Martha Beck. I quote her like preachers quote the Bible.

Yet what else I am known for?

What are you known for?

This is where a rather somber, yet also fun, exercise comes in. Some call it the “grave stone” exercise.

How do you want to be remembered? What is your legacy?

It is, indeed, as Maya Angelou told Oprah, everything you say, and everything you do. Every person you reach. Every life you touch.

My ex-husband might say I drank too much wine during our marriage, yet when I called to let him know the divorce papers were coming, what he said was, “I will never say a bad thing about you.”

Okay, it might have been self-serving, because he didn’t want me to say a bad thing about him, but still…

My cat Lady Jane might say after a year and a half in the shelter, I have given her a happy and loving home for a decade. She tells me this every day in her cat language I’ve somewhat learned to understand. (Except for the pooping on the floor six inches from the litter box part.)

Friends over the years have thanked me for many things, and called me out on others (thank God for both!)

Students and clients have given me both accolades and constructive feedback. I’ve given workshops where I felt I wasn’t reaching people and wasn’t able to help them. Where I felt I totally bombed. I’ve given others I was certain changed people’s lives for the better and I walked out soaring on angels’ wings. (Yet I don’t know how even when I felt I bombed, what came through to the students.)

My partner told me, in our first year, this is the most loving relationship he’s ever had. He says this now, in our fifth.

I have done some stupid and selfish things. I’ve acted rashly at times. I’ve said things I’ve regretted.

I’ve also been loving in situations when I could have chosen otherwise. I’ve risen to the task when I didn’t think I could. I have found secret fortitudes of patience and wisdom I didn’t know were there.

Haven’t we all?

Reflect on similar experiences you’ve had over the years, and when grace popped in when you least expected it. Aren’t those the most spectacular moments of all? Those graceful moments are always upmost in our legacy.

When I pass, I don’t want to take up space in our precious planet with a coffin and a grave stone. I think cremation and my ashes scattered is a better route.

Yet this is my response to the grave stone exercise.

She took risks to grow. She opened her heart. She shared love.

What is yours? Let us know on the blog!

Unleash and HONE Your Authentic Message: Four steps to delivering a memorable speech that will engage your audience for maximum impact and results. 

HONE Your Message is coming to Toastmasters for Speaking Professionals October 17th.

If peaceful conflict resolution is in your wheelhouse, come to the Oregon Mediation Associations’ 31st Annual Conference November 3rd & 4th in Portland, where I will be presenting HONE Your Message.

If you found this post helpful, please spread the love and pass it along to a friend!

Authentically Yours, Laura

Simply Authentic: Your Soul Voice is Calling. The Top Three Common Vocal Pitfalls to Avoid While Speaking, Part 3

Simply Authentic: Your Soul Voice is Calling. The Top Three Common Vocal Pitfalls to Avoid While Speaking, Part 3

The Top Three Common Vocal Pitfalls to Avoid While Speaking

Part Three of Three: How to Create Vocal Resonance

©Laura Handke, 2017

You’ve worked up the courage to give a speech. You’ve written, edited, and re-edited. You’ve rehearsed until you don’t want to listen to your own speech one more time. You’re at the podium, breathing deeply, which calms your nerves and lessens the shaking of your hands. You open your mouth, and…wonder where your voice went.

What you hoped would be a roar is more like a squeak. You can see people leaning in, straining to hear you, at the back of the room. You would like to be hauled out of there with a hook, like in an old vaudeville act.

What happened? You didn’t notice this pitiful, stuck-behind-the-podium, voice while rehearsing in the privacy of your living room with Betty the Boxer dog. Betty heard you just fine, and, in fact, barked her approval. Not one growl did Betty give.

The culprit here may just be a lack of resonance in your voice.

One of the most naturally resonant voices I’ve ever heard belongs to James Earl Jones. (Oh, how the memories are flooding in from 1980’s Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. “No, I am your father.” Now you know my age bracket! Fun fact: it really is “No,” instead of “Luke.”)

We may not all have been born with voices as resonant as James Earl Jones. Yet regardless of our body structure and voice type, we can all create resonance in our voices.

Resonance is that deep, full, reverberating characteristic which allows your voice to carry and be heard at the back of the room, even without a microphone.

Picture, as best you can, the inside of your skull and nasal cavities. They provide a space for sound to bounce around in. Train yourself to aim your voice into that “mask” or “buzzy spot.”

Close your mouth tightly, and say, “Mmmm,” like a cow would. You should feel vibrations inside your mouth and nasal cavities. You want this, as a speaker or performer. Open your mouth now, say, “My,” and exaggerate the vibrating tone; be overly nasal, like a Brooklynite, like Fran Drescher in The Nanny.

You get that feeling, right? Perfect.

Now, I don’t want you to stand up in front of your audience and try and fake a Brooklyn accent. (Unless you are, of course, from Brooklyn, in which case you should milk it for all it’s worth.)

What I do want you to do is get used to the feeling of projecting your voice into that buzzy spot so your voice will carry, and you’ll be heard at the back of the room. Say “back of the room” with a nasal tone right now. Doesn’t that feel good? Yes, it does! And resonance also helps singers stay on pitch.

Warm up before you go on stage by using M (Money is always good) and N (Naaa) words, while projecting into the buzzy spot.

People need to hear what you have to say…otherwise you wouldn’t be drawn on stage, even if it’s behind the podium, in the first place.

Avoid glottal onsets. Breathe starting with your nose and belly, not the upper chest. Aim your voice into the buzzy spot so you can be heard. Speak with resonance and passion, with healthy vocal technique! Your throat will thank you, and so will your audience.

Speak with power and confidence; be remembered and be inspirational. 

HONE Your Message is coming to Toastmasters for Speaking Professionals October 17th. Stay tuned for details.

If peaceful conflict resolution is in your wheelhouse, come to the Oregon Mediation Associations’ 31st Annual Conference November 3rd & 4th in Portland, where I will be presenting HONE Your Message.

If you found this post helpful, please spread the love and pass it along to a friend!

Authentically Yours, Laura