Wednesday, January 25, 2012
How ironic that my first blog post is about silence. After all, I'm a singer by profession, and my work consists highly of sound. If I'm not on stage singing, I'm usually talking to someone or humming as I go about my day. To think that the 176 shows I played in 2011, many times singing for several hours, was only part of the strain I put on my voice. My vocal chords are probably the most exercised muscle in my body. I suppose that makes me an athlete of sorts. But to whom much [strain] is given, much [rest] is required. That's where my story of silence comes in.
Last Thursday (1/19/12), I woke up at 4AM with a swollen sore throat, making it painful to swallow. In a half conscious daze, I stumbled to the kitchen to find a remedy for the ache. A bottle of water and some ibuprofen helped relieve the pain enough to go back to sleep. When I woke later in the morning, the pain was still there. So I decided it was probably a good idea to go on vocal rest.
Funny, I didn't realize how much I talked until I was trying not to. Even though I told my family I was trying to rest my voice, they asked me questions that required more than a nod or shake of my head. I've heard using a notepad is helpful, but I didn't use one. I just tried to answer their questions without speaking loudly. I was motivated to rest my voice, but constantly being around people made it difficult to be quiet. I found the most restful time for me that day was attaching 500 stickers to my Valentine Concert invitations, in a room by myself.
In an attempt to soothe my sore throat, I drank warm apple cider with pineapple juice, and lots of water. I also sprinkled some salt in the back of my throat, letting it dissolve, then gargling. That helped bring down the swelling and temporarily eliminated some of the pain. So during the day Thursday, I tried to treat it with those home remedies.
Friday came around and I woke up with the same symptom. No cough or sinus problems, just a sore throat. So I made an appointment with my Doctor to check it out. Thankfully it wasn't strep, and he said that antibiotics wouldn't help me in this situation. So he advised me to rest my voice, suck on some Sucrets to numb the pain in my throat, and to drink lots of warm liquids. His definition of warm liquids was "hot chocolate". I told him that would not be a problem. ;) Throughout the next few days, I enjoyed hot chocolate to my tummy's content, under the guilt-less "doctor's orders".
Discovering Sucrets made me really excited, and I wondered why I hadn't heard about them before. After using the first one, I said, "Oral anesthetics are awesome! I don't feel anything!" <--- Again, talking while on vocal rest! Tsk tsk. I felt like Jar Jar Binks when his tongue was numb.
Friday night I was supposed to be the opening act for my friends, ExitRight. I had agreed to play three songs, but hadn't sung for two days. I wasn't sure if my voice would work right, but I rested it, then slowly warmed up with humming and lip rolls that I learned from a Brett Manning workshop. The three songs went well and the night was a success. The audience was gracious, and encouraged me to get my rest and not to over do it. So I took it easy for a few more days, and I'm starting to feel better.
I'm realizing that silence is a precious commodity that we should embrace and enjoy. I think our culture is so used to being surrounded by constant noise, that we are almost afraid of silence. Maybe you're like me and hardly ever take a break from the hustle and bustle. But what I've found in the moments of quiet, is that I can collect my thoughts, rest my mind, and open my heart to hear the still small voice that wants to speak healing over me. I believe God calms our storms so He can speak to us in the Silence.