The first place I ever publicly sang, outside of school, was in the First Presbyterian Church, Raymond, South Dakota, population now 53.

Raymond is 11 miles from the farm I grew up on, and I always loved singing in church and being an angel in the Christmas Eve. service – ouchy wings, itchy halo and all.

Yes, I grew up in a house on the prairie, although it wasn’t all that little. More like medium size. I read every book Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote and was so excited when the TV Show aired for the first time! My younger readers and students may not remember Little House on the Prairie, yet many may be newly introduced because of the re-runs on channels like Peacock.

Your voice isn’t about just physical vocalization; it’s about how your most heartfelt values are expressed from your inner voice through your outer voice.

That should be easy, right?

I’ve found it to be more complex.

Have you ever purchased a piece of clothing you really love, then read the tag and wondered if it was made in China or India by child laborers?

Perhaps you’ve heard people use a racial slur and didn’t know how to respond. When I was young, a close family member told me that birds of different varieties don’t interbreed, so why should humans? Even though I didn’t have an understanding of racism at such a young age, I knew in my heart that was crazy talk.

Michael Landon put such themes into his scripts and onto our television sets starting in September of 1974 with Little House on the Prairie. The hardship of pioneer prairie life. Bigotry. Division amongst town people. Bullying. The stuff I can’t believe we’re still dealing with today in 2022.

Yet I’m still rewatching the episodes, because somewhere in them is hope. There’s usually a happy ending, yes, but hope is different than a happy ending. Hope means you believe what caused the problem in the first place can change.

That’s how I think about it, anyway.

I was so impressed with Karen Grassle’s memoir, Bright Lights, Prairie Dust that I wrote her a personal snail mail letter. And I heard back. I was thrilled! These are the notes I received.

Whether you sing or not, speak publicly or not, write books or not, I encourage you to keep taking on new challenges, as Karen Grassle said to me. And I encourage you to read her book!

Thanks, “Ma.”

After she is tragically orphaned, young Abella loses the ability to speak her truth and express herself. She is sent to live with a reclusive uncle she’s never met, and her only friend is her horse. Abella endures heartbreak, loneliness and questions who she truly is inside. Eventually, she meets friends and animals who help her not only regain her voice, but also uncover her strength and purpose. Purchase How Abella Found her Voice for $4.95 here:

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Love Your Voice & Voice Your Love,