Tag Archives: Aftab Omer

Too Small of Shoes


“We all walk in shoes too small for us.” Carl Jung

I remember when I first read this quote how curious I was as to how tight my shoes fit with regard to my life’s work. Were the activities of my day to day existence pinching my toes or roomy enough to encourage self growth? And were the hopes and dreams for my future merely fragments of wishful thinking or glimpses of my personal destiny?  And were those hopes and dreams big enough to hold all of my potentiality as a woman, an artist and a healer?

“Imagination is the eye of the soul.” Joseph Joubert

I have always desired to make my mark on this world. And I have had ample opportunities to do so on stage, in the classroom and in my private practice. Hopefully I have also been a positive influence on my children and my community at large. Even now my prayer is that what I have to say in my writings will find its way into the heart of those who read them.

But often what I have desired for myself has not always manifested, at least not in the way I would have wished. There have been significant struggles, failures, wrong turns and false dreams along the way, which looking back now, do not seem near as devastating as they felt in the past. What I am trying to say is that these disappointments have at times made me cautious, wary, distrustful, and slow to act. In other words, SCARED!

“God wouldn’t put the dream in your heart if He didn’t have a way.
You don’t have to figure out how it’s going to happen. 
Your job is to believe.” Joel Osteen   

Yet, something inside of me has always nudged me forward—to stand at the edge of the abyss of change and opportunity and stare down into its dark mystery of promise. My mother once accused me of being a dreamer, which I am in part. Yet a dreamer often does not take action, for the dream is always more beautiful than the hard work and possible disappointment that may come in its pursuit.

So, transformation takes a courageous heart as well as intelligence, discipline and perseverance. But if we do not take that initial step of faith, then how can we ever know for certain that we are living in the full potentiality of our being?

I leave this blog with a quote from my beloved teacher Aftab Omer at Meridian University on the occasion of my last day of class. It was a bittersweet moment for both of us as I was leaving the comfortable nest of graduate school and flying away toward the larger purpose of my life as I knew it to be then.

“May you find the courage you need to step into your imagination!”

The Soul Desires Its Full Expression

sing out I’ll never forget the day the president of my graduate school, Aftab Omer, said these words. It was as if a window in my psyche had been flung open allowing the sunlight’s brightness and warmth to come in and nourish me. How often in the past I had felt diminished by limiting my expression physically, emotionally and, of course, vocally. Why? Goodness that is a loaded question!

Perhaps it was because I was hesitant to rock someone else’s boat, or I felt the moment was too constricted by politeness and propriety to let myself go, or maybe it merely had to do with my own feelings of inadequacy with regard to my self-worth. Whatever the reason, I knew in that moment when Aftab spoke those words my life would never be the same. Since then my life’s work has been about helping people find their own true authentic voice—to eliminate the blocks that tend to get in our journey toward vocal freedom and to find the courage and strength to step into the Truth of their Voice.

Fabienne Fredrickson in her widely acclaimed book entitled Embrace Your Magnificence states that “unexpressed emotions turn toxic in the body”—“that they affect us on a cellular level” (113). When that happens, we feel held back—that we take on a passive or victim role instead of a more freeing, proactive one. In other words, unexpressed feelings eat us up inside and eventually turn us into angry, sad and ashamed human beings.

That is not to say that every time I feel like attacking someone I do just exactly that. On the contrary—now whenever I feel the need to express myself, I do so with joy, exuberance, humor and care for those who may be listening either directly or non-directly to what it is I physically and/or vocally have to “say”. There is no guess work involved. Everyone ends up on the same page, as it were. Rather than feeling attacked or set out upon, others now hear and see where I am coming from, they tend to be more receptive than resistant. In other words, it’s not so much about them as it is about my true feelings.

Clients I have seen over the years often complain of such maladies as unexpressed grief, or anger, or even joy, for that matter.  They speak of being misunderstood, or ignored or undervalued as a person. Thus, one of the ways we work together is to find an avenue by which they can give their soul permission to be fully expressive. It’s hard work, and it’s rarely easy, but it is worth every laugh, cry, scream, sigh, hiccup and belch as we travel together toward vocal freedom and the soul’s liberation.

Shame and the Voice

Shame—we’ve all experienced it and know what it feels like to feel less than who we truly are or hope to be. In fact, moments of shame from our biography live in our memory for years and years just below the surface of our skin. Unfortunately, they often manifest physically in a variety of ways—and the voice is no exception. As one’s self-esteem plummets, so does their ability to vocally express themselves with a sense of authenticity and freedom. It is as if we ostracize ourselves from the truth of our being because we feel we do not somehow match up to other people’s or our own expectations. Our inner critical voice takes over for all those external voices that have once made us feel wrong, worthless or inferior. We then become so fearful that in order not to make another mistake, we pull ourselves back from all that life has to offer—like full vocal expressiveness. Before we even open our mouths, we shut ourselves down for fear of being re-shamed all over again.

guiltshameThe voice is the epitome of vulnerability. We cannot blame anyone or anything that emanates from our mouth and expect anyone to be believed. We truly are our voice! However, when one feels shame about themselves, they are hesitant to use their voice in a public arena for fear that they will reveal just how shameful they truly are. The shamed generally as a result end up saying, singing or speaking very little. They often squelch strong emotional outbursts so as not to draw attention to themselves. In time, the shamed often lose the sense of who below their level of shame they truly are.

It is our birthright to fully express ourselves. As my teacher Aftab Omer once said, “The soul demands its full expression.” Therefore, it is clear to me that the way into the release of that shame is through the voice—giving the shame a voice by way of storytelling, vocal toning, singing and recitation. As the voice strengthens, so does one’s sense of self. And as one’s sense of self strengthens, so does their ability to becomes vocally expressive.