Speak Your Truth With Compassionate Communication

The last week of January I went to one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended, and came home from the conference with COVID-19.

My husband and I have been so careful about keeping that virus out of our household for two years here in Oregon, and my one trip to Arizona blew our diligence right out of the water in a week.

I was not a happy camper. Neither was my husband. I’m so grateful I was fully vaccinated and had also received my booster shot.

The recovery period wasn’t very much fun. And I’m not fully recovered yet. Fortunately, my husband did not contract the illness during my super-strict quarantine in our home.

Yet nearly just as not fun was a niggling something that arose both before the conference and after my trip.

Conflict.

I stayed with a friend of 30 years before the conference, and felt there were times I wasn’t being truly listened to, heard, or understood. I said something. I knew I needed to, wished I had worded it better, and in effect lost that 30-year friendship in one fell swoop. It was the first time in that 30-year friendship I remember ever speaking up for myself. And the friendship ended when I did.

Then COVID-19 followed me home and all of our regular household routines were upended and disrupted. Everyone (including the cat) was getting cranky, and more conflict ensued right under my own roof.

And then something ironic occurred to me.

I once created a video class on precisely how to compassionately communicate through conflict using guidelines from The Center for Non-Violent Communication. https://www.cnvc.org/ I happened to mention it to someone at the conference, and I obviously needed the reminder myself!

AND…the Ho’oponopono prayer was also mentioned at the conference as I did in this class!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckjSq0y5r8E.

Start at about 58 seconds to get the goods.

I may have sucked at it a couple of times this last week, yet I know from personal experience you can more easily move through conflict while using these compassionate communication skills.

They work.

Let me know how they work for you.  

Celebrating MANY VOICES: One World! Purchase How Abella Found her Voice for $4.95 here: https://laurahandke.com/product/how-abella-found-her-voice-e-book/

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

Love Your Voice & Voice Your Love,

Laura

Last Chance! Watch Second Chances & New Beginnings!

The Portland Fertile Ground Festival (https://www.fertilegroundpdx2022.org/) runs through February 6th and has SO many wonderful shows – 38, to be precise – I don’t know if I’ll have time to watch them all!

I hope you have the chance to catch our plays here. https://laurahandke.com/ If you watch at 5:00 pm PST Saturday, Feb. 5th, please join us for a Zoom Happy Hour after the show at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/5034090421.

One of our actresses, Stephanie Crowley, had this to say about being cast in the show:

One of my favorite things about Second Chances and New Beginnings is that it features women of my age (50s) as leading characters. Not only that, it lets audiences in on the big secret — that learning who you are, and what you want, isn’t limited to your teens and twenties. Many of us set out on a path during those years, or fell into a path by accident … but at some point, whether it’s after our kids are grown or our careers begin to wind down, we begin to realize there were dreams set aside, passions left wanting, pieces of ourselves that have been waiting for us to really put everything else down and focus on ourselves.

I think, especially as women, we are encouraged to put everyone else first. Consequently, we end up neglecting ourselves sometimes, sacrificing our own dreams and pleasures in order for others to find theirs — or, like party girl Larae, we indulge our pleasures as a way of avoiding the real work that we have in front of us. Sooner or later, we all come to that place of reexamining the life we’ve chosen, and having a compassionate friend to listen and share the process is invaluable. This is one of the top ten favorite shows I’ve been in.

The first review, from a playwright and actress I deeply respect, was this:

Just watched Second Chances, written by Laura Handke and Jennifer Solberg. A compelling story about the reuniting of a friendship, and the growth of two women whose lives diverge and ultimately reconnect as both reflect and dive deeper into the heart of who they really are. The dialogue, the story, the acting all hum with timely, relatable grains of truth. It was really good. I was engaged throughout. -Johanna Courtleigh.

What an honor! I so look forward to Saturday, and hopefully joining you for a post-show Happy Hour.

Until next time, wishing you all the second chances or new beginnings for which your soul may long.

Celebrating MANY VOICES: One World! Purchase How Abella Found her Voice for $4.95 here: https://laurahandke.com/product/how-abella-found-her-voice-e-book/

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

Love Your Voice & Voice Your Love,

Laura

An Invitation to Watch Second Chances & New Beginnings

I hope you can watch the shows! Here are some photos from the one live rehearsal the director and cast were able to have before COVID became a threat and they decided to record via ZOOM for everyone’s health and safety.

Staged Reading for Fertile Ground Festival

Online at https://laurahandke.com/

Jan. 27 – Feb. 6, 2022

Suggested donation: $10

Celebrating MANY VOICES: One World! Purchase How Abella Found her Voice for $4.95 here: https://laurahandke.com/product/how-abella-found-her-voice-e-book/

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

Love Your Voice & Voice Your Love,

Laura

Losing Judgement & Finding Curiosity…or Trying to, Anyway!

I’m just going to be brutally honest with you here.

I used to love to sing when I didn’t know what I was doing. Now that I realize all the gaps in my technique, it’s not as much fun anymore. The only true experiences I’ve had of music flowing through me are when no-one else is around (including my husband) and I feel completely un-self-conscious. I did have a moment like that with one song last week, and shared it with a fellow teacher. But it’s not consistent and I have to force myself to practice. And when I have to force myself it doesn’t work. It just feels like a huge chore. And I don’t remember if I told you I shipped my old clarinet back from So. Dak., so I’ve been remembering some of my old clarinet practice, along with playing piano. OMG, playing the clarinet is so hard now later in life, I don’t know how it was so easy in high school. But it’s been fun re-learning, despite how much it physically hurts right under my cheek-bones.

Here you go.

George and I just had a fun session together singing together while he played the guitar. That didn’t feel forced and it was fun. So, that’s something.

I wrote that to my voice teacher.

I’m a voice teacher, and I struggle with my personal vocal practice at times. It happens.

I’ve also been learning how to paint.

Artists Aimee Erickson https://www.aimeeerickson.com/ and Ann Schwartz https://www.annschwartzart.com/ are my inspiration. I love their use of texture and light.  

Then, get this…I got a list of props from the director of Second Chances & New Beginnings. One of the props was a frame to represent the painting Joelle gives to Larae at the end of Second Chances. I checked with the director and decided to create a painting on canvas (the camera won’t see it) instead of an empty frame or canvas.

I started with tracing a photo from one of the actress’ Facebook page. Put purple on one side of the canvas for Larae, and green on the other for Joelle. There was a moment (I’m not kidding) when I looked at the blank, other than color, canvas, and thought I’d put the wrong color on the wrong side. Oh no! Ahem. Then I turned it around.

Part of Larae’s face got destroyed because I used too much Gesso putting the sketch on the canvas. And then I needed to be patient. It needed to dry.

Patience is not one of my strong suits. When my ex-husband and I were once in a long drive-through line on vacation and he asked me to stop being so impatient, my response was, “I’m not impatient. I just hate to wait! “

Yeah. I know.

But back to the painting. I started adding texture and it kept looking worse.

More texture and it looked worse yet.

But I kept at it, adding more color, water and texture, checking some online videos. I had fun with it.

I’m curious about what I can do with painting, even if it’s awful right now. Each effort I added made the painting just a bit better, an improvement.

We can all do this with our voices as well. Just be curious, put in your energy and passion, and see what happens!

Sink into your heart and be curious about what’s yours to creatively express in the new year.

GoFundMe account for 2022 Portland Fertile Ground Festival’s production of Second Chances & New Beginningshttps://gofund.me/072d7484. Thank you, donors!

Celebrating MANY VOICES: One World! Purchase How Abella Found her Voice for $4.95 here: https://laurahandke.com/product/how-abella-found-her-voice-e-book/

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

Love Your Voice & Voice Your Love,

Laura

Happy Holidays!

I’m wishing you a beautiful winter solstice and happy holidays!

What does the holiday season mean to you? And how do you express it through your voice (inner and outer)?

Do you look forward to cookie-baking gatherings, holiday parties, or groan inwardly at the hordes of masses in the mall as you shop for that one special thing for that one special person…or pretty much just anything that might work for the people on your gift list?

What was the most important ritual during the holiday season, in the spiritual or cultural tradition you were raised in?

I’d love to hear your responses on the blog, so please indulge me as I share some childhood Christmas memories.

My family went to the First Presbyterian church in Raymond, South Dakota, a town of now 61 people. That’s an increase from the 2017 census, when it was 50! As I recall, it was something like 117 when I was growing up. I was raised on a farm 11 miles from that tiny town.

I was always an angel in the Christmas Eve pageant, and loved the role, ouchy wings and itchy halo and all. I sang, and loved the traditional holiday carols. We had our rehearsal the same day “Santa” came to town on the one main road, tossing out – from the back of a pickup truck – bags of candy and fruit for we children. Then, we went caroling, and the “town ladies” passed out their homemade candy, like Mrs. Herther’s divinity.

The Christmas Eve service was, to me, heartfully reverent, especially at the end when the lights were dimmed, and the candles were passed out, being lit from one person in a pew to the next. A hush fell over the church, and I felt the peaceful presence of God, just like I did walking through the hills close to our house with Lucy the dog, or riding on the back of my horse, Princess.

My mother came from a family of nine children, and Christmas Day was always at our house. Mom decorated, and we always had a Christmas tree, with presents either under the tree or on the fireplace hearth. Before long, the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins started showing up. All the women in my family are great cooks, so the food was always delicious and plentiful. We cousins would sled and toboggan on the hill beyond the shelterbelt, and come in to Dad’s home-churned vanilla ice cream and Mom’s homemade hot fudge sauce. Then we’d play ping pong on the table in the basement. Later, I would often knock out a few tunes on the piano, and some of the relatives would come in to sing with me.

The whole experience, year after year, was Normal Rockwell-esque. And then…I was consistently sad when everyone left…and the day was over.

My childhood holiday memories are precious, and worth reliving, even with the melancholy at the end of the day.

Yet I know it’s not that way for everyone. Some people had lousy holidays if they celebrated holidays at all.

I hope you have fond holiday memories from your youth, and wish you a very Merry Christmas on that holiday, if you celebrate it, and a blessed, fun-filled Saturday either way.

GoFundMe account for 2022 Portland Fertile Ground Festival’s production of Second Chances & New Beginningshttps://gofund.me/072d7484. Thank you, donors!

Celebrating MANY VOICES: One World! Purchase How Abella Found her Voice for $4.95 here: https://laurahandke.com/product/how-abella-found-her-voice-e-book/

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

Love Your Voice & Voice Your Love,

Laura

Everything Starts With S#*T

I hope you and yours were blessed with a fun and gratitude-filled, tasty Thanksgiving holiday.

George and I enjoyed a wonderful afternoon with our friends Lorinda and Richard. The food was delicious, environment cozy, and conversations interesting.

Richard, born and raised in Scotland, asked me about the Second Chances & New Beginnings plays and my co-writing process with Jen. I learned that Richard had some modest success writing radio plays on spec in his youth.

He asked me a question that I had an answer to before the words were even out of his mouth. Did you ever wonder if it was…”shit?” I said, as he said, “bollocks and crap?”

Of course!!!

I don’t know of any other way to do it. Everything starts with S#*T.

See How It Transpires.

The Beatles were once marketed as a flawless band because the public only experienced the finished product. Years later, thanks to documentaries and biopics, we can now see the S#*T process of John, Paul, George and Ringo.

They didn’t always sing on pitch. The Beatles had struggles during the creative process.

We know Harrison started to write “Something” during the sessions that yielded 1968’s “The Beatles”, aka “The White Album.” George didn’t finish “Something” in time to make the album, so The Beatles released it on their 1969 album “Abbey Road”. While the song’s second line of “attracts me like no other lover” sounds natural 45 years later, George struggled to come up with the lyric. Both “Attracts me like a cauliflower” and “Attracts me like a pomegranate” were used as placeholders until Harrison settled on “attracts me like no other lover.” https://www.jambase.com/article/audio-george-harrison-writes-something-with-john-paul

When I had my first piano lesson at age 7, I didn’t know the difference between a black key and a white. I’ve been singing my whole life, but didn’t start understanding how the body creates sound until my 40’s. I was always a good grammar student, but learning how to really write? I wouldn’t share some of my first short stories with my cat!

It all starts with S#*T.

Take one step, and See How It Transpires.

Keep me posted on your process.

GoFundMe account for 2022 Portland Fertile Ground Festival’s production of Second Chances & New Beginningshttps://gofund.me/072d7484. Thank you, donors!

Celebrating MANY VOICES: One World! Purchase How Abella Found her Voice for $4.95 here: https://laurahandke.com/product/how-abella-found-her-voice-e-book/

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

Love Your Voice & Voice Your Love,

Laura

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