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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Inside Voice and Outside Voice

I have always been blessed with a loud and booming voice. As a child I would often get report cards saying, "Regina does not know her outside voice from her inside voice." My husband also received report cards like this. (Our children are doomed.) This statement often confused me as a child. I wondered how the teachers new what I was thinking in my head? I did have a tendency to say whatever I thought. I still have that problem as an adult. I guess now-a-days it would be called filter failure. I once was in business meeting when one of the men at the table said, "Your mouth opens and words just fall out, don't they? My wife is just like you." I don't know if that was a compliment or not....

Anyway, going back to the concept of projection. When I was in third grade, I was cast as the lead in our elementary school musical. I was the Witch in "The Witches Brew." This was a big part with lots of singing. I was so excited I got the part, especially since ... I couldn't sing. What I mean to say is, I could belt out the songs; but had absolutely no sense of pitch or tune. So imagine my joy and surprise at being cast! I loved to sing; I just wasn't any good at it.

A few weeks into rehearsal, I accidently over-heard my music teacher talking to another instructor. She told the other teacher, " Yeah, Regina's singing is horrible! I cast her because she is LOUD. It is more important to be heard, then to be able to sing." I quietly slipped out. It was very hard to go to sleep that night. I wondered if I could go on stage, in front of all those people, knowing I was terrible. I decided to concentrate on the good part. I was loud. I would be very good at being loud.

This is an important lesson to learn in life. We cannot change a lot of what happens to us, but we can choose to always look on the bright side. Even when you are hit by tragedy, you can decide to take on the world and make it a better place. I may not be a good singer. I may not be a very good artist, either. But I am loud.

Sometimes it is more important to be loud. It helps to get the message across. As we say good bye to 2009, I am very glad I was able to use my voice to promote health care reform, patients' rights and data access. And even though I am a terrible singer, I sang briefly on NPR. My music teacher would be so proud.

So next time you think you aren't good enough to add your voice to the public debate, think of me. I was only a retail sales clerk , pre-school art teacher and part-time muralist. When the message is important, God doesn't care if the trumpet is shining and bright. He doesn't even care if it is in tune. He just needs it to be loud.


  1. Lucky you for the empowering school play experience.

    When I was in elementry school, in our final play, I was casted as a tree. And I was not allowed to move or speak! My wife to be, who was at the same class, was casted as a singing princess and I looked at her with jealousy.

  2. Hi Regina,

    I identify with your journey and realization - for me it's that I talk fast. One time, I got this feedback right before a presentation I gave - "Ted, you talk fast, slow down." And that presentation turned out to be the worst presentation I have ever given, bar none. The attenuation of my "voice" destroyed the message.

    After that time, I pledged to talk the way I talk, and the rest is history, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, but it's me.

    Thanks for being you and encouraging others to do the same, I think your authenticity adds as much, if not more, power to your voice than its volume does!