Voice: Who Speaks For You?

Photo from istock.

You can’t find your voice if you only let others speak for you.

I love the photo from istock. The person in the middle standing out in red with their arms in the air seems so freeing. A visual “ME! I’m here!” in a sea of beige. It speaks to me and so does the quote about letting others speak for me. I think I’ve spent most of my life handing off personal power and pieces of my identity for peace.

I’m only on week two of my voice studies and my brain is already overflowing with Ah Ha moments and inspiration. The assignments have been relatively simple really and yet scary at the same time. I have an Associates Degree while everyone else appears to have a Masters in Lit or higher – heck yes I’m comparing. It scares me.

It’s no coincidence that I would find a writers voice class in the same season that I am questioning my own beliefs about life in general and wondering whose voice really transfers over. Is it my voice people hear or is my version of someone’s expectations? Since I don’t know the answer, I believe that is a question worth exploring.

My journaling goes beyond the lessons these days as I look at why I choose certain phrases and where opinions come from. Am I being rebellious? Am I being afraid? Am I being a parrot? or Am I being me?

Writing has become enjoyable again.  They don’t know me. There are no expectations of specific character and behavior. I have the freedom and permission to try on voices like a teenager tries on clothes. There’s no box to fit into.

This class is as freeing as the day I learned how to do stand up — granted I hope and pray writing produces better results.  Or maybe the fruit that seed planted *is* growing. Maybe stand-up is just another part of the path of finding myself again. Once I learned how to tell jokes on stage – kill or die trying – other things (like going back to being a Democrat) don’t seem nearly as formidable. I’m eyeball deep in Republicans, trust me when I say that changing back is a bit formidable. Other questions do arise however:

  • Just because I’m a Christian does that mean I *have* to talk about God all the time?
  • Can I have opinions that are left of center rather than right?
  • Can I talk about something else like how hard being middle-aged is sometimes?
  • Can I talk about love or nature or even sex.
  • Can I talk about the really sexy artist/poet that makes me melt?
  • I’m a Mom but do I have to talk about my kids?

Can I swear?

Anne Lamott does.

I remember the first time I read Traveling Mercies and I saw the F-word. It knocked my sensibilities right out of my socks and caused me to double-check the jacket. Yep, she’s a Christian.  My eyes lit up, I giggled and looked around wondering if anyone had heard what I just read. Then something magical happened, my soul settled deep into my reading chair and by the end of the book – I wanted dreadlocks too.

Wanting them and actually getting them are not the same thing. Trying them on for size? Totally worth it.  I just didn’t know how I was going to do that. I finally had my chance while on a cruise with some new artist friends and had my hair braided on the beach in Costa Maya last Spring. They lasted all of 12 hours. Dreadlocks  aren’t me after all — the wires kept poking me. I finally sat straight up in bed at 2 in the morning and spent two hours taking them out.

I don’t have to copy someone’s look or voice or opinion to fit in. And if I do then they aren’t my tribe.

I don’t have to be Anne Lamott or ee cummings or CS Lewis to be a writer. I don’t have to live off of someone else’s faith to be a Christian either.  I just have to be wholly me whatever that entails.

This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. October 26, 2011. All rights reserved.

So much for daily blogging. I’ve been ill. Sorry.

Waking up to stomach pains that rivaled my labor pains all those years ago is not pleasant. Spending the night in the emergency room hoping the pain would go away is not how I wanted to start this month.  They checked me for everything under the sun, Hepatitis, Kidney Stones, Blockages, Cardiac Enzymes, Appendicitis and more I’m sure. In the end, they came up rather empty, gave me morphine and sent me home. The best they could tell me was I had some inflamed diverticuli and to call my primary care doctor.

They were so sure I was “fine” the nurses let me unhook myself from the heart monitor before kicking me to the curb. I do have to laugh at that.

This is why I’ve been silent. I’m just not feeling well. And I’m afraid to eat.

I’m okay mind you. At least in the I’m not going to die anytime soon meaning of “ok.”  I’m just annoyed really that my body is revolting like this.

While living on non seed bearing anything, low acid fruit, Greek yogurt, goat milk and purple potatoes for the past few days, I’m researching the snot out of my symptoms hoping to find some answers.

I’m also preparing for a show this Saturday. I’m performing  in  a comedy review in Yukon Oklahoma with five other comics on October 8. I’m nervous and excited all at once.

I’ve been refining my set of stories and jokes for a couple of years now and I really like this particular set. It’s tried out, edited, retried, and edited some more.  I cannot count the hours it takes just to perfect 10 minutes. It’s crazy fun though. If I pass the first round, I get to perform 15 minutes in round 2. All of it is clean (PG) comedy. No swearing. No Sex. No Drugs. And most importantly, it’s funny! I like it.

Of course that means I have to leave my gynecologist jokes at the door. Bummer. Those work in clubs and other open mic nights, but not for a family crowd. “Vagina” it seems, is not a family friendly term. The fact that I can say it aloud without blushing like crazy took HOURS of practice. Of course getting my husband to say that word out loud — fuggetaboutit. I’m amazed we had children.

I’ll be back next week y’all. I promise.

Flying Monkeys

Does anyone remember that old saying, “Don’t make me call my flying monkeys!” ? Yeah, it’s been that kind of week. My husband is out-of-town and someone told the appliances, the dogs, and my hormones. If something isn’t breaking and I’m not hot flashing in the middle of the night, the dogs are waking me up at 3 am to tell me he isn’t home and we need to search for him NOW. Isn’t that nice of them.

I’m so sleep deprived that it’s quickly becoming one of those people are still alive because I couldn’t afford a hit man kind of weeks. Really and truly. Kinda.

From a medical perspective, I’m really not sure what my favorite part of the week was, getting the girls squished or having the angiogram. Actually I already know — the angiogram has better drugs. Even without the caffeine and nicotine, it still took three doses of  whatever it was they use plus one does of nitroglycerin to get my heart rate to 50. I only started at 70. I blacked out at some point which was entirely pleasant really. The feeling like I just wet myself sensation that comes from the dye – was not pleasant however. Such is life.

Why all the unpleasantries? Because I had an unplanned hysterectomy last year. I’d known about the mass for a while, but it wasn’t a good time — any mom’s out there know how that is? It’s never a good time for mom to go down. So I decided to deal with it later. Later turned out to be Easter Sunday when my husband rushed me to the hospital. (The mass was benign btw)

I missed out on a really awesome U2 concert because of that side trip. SO… I promised to take better care of myself going forward. I’m doing a good job actually — and while it seems like I’m going through a lot of tests right now, they are for my own good.

And that in a nutshell is why I haven’t posted this week. That plus I’m in charge of decorating for a fall fest at church on Saturday and I’ve been creating center pieces to my heart’s content this week.

I’ll be back on Monday – and in the mean time I think I will break out my Flying Monkey — it’s not the best Merlot in the world, but it works.

Have a great weekend you guys.

Return: If I don’t return, it’s because he’s killed me

People often ask me what the secret is to being married for 21 years.

Is it trust?



Nah — I don’t have life insurance. He can’t afford to kill me.

That’s what I tell people anyway.

This really nice broker has been making house calls to my home for two years in hopes of securing our investment accounts. He’s with a reputable company — had great things to say about bonds, IRA’s and China. He’s a follower of Dave Ramsey – he has to be good.

I, wanting to take a more proactive role in our investments — strongly encouraged my dear sweet hubs to meet with him.

We met him and we invested.

We lost $2,500 in 30 days.

Just when I thought I’d gotten through with my skin, I receive a phone call from a new guy telling me our agent has left the company — and he wants to meet with us to discuss our portfolio.

I asked him to call back Wednesday when my husband was home to introduce himself.

So much for trust.

And living.

And handling our long term investments ever again –

you can say forgettaboutit.

If he takes out an insurance policy? I’m screwed.


Returning: It’s Always the Quiet Ones

Me in 1995

It’s always the quiet ones. Police tape and blood are scattered everywhere. The press interviews the neighbors they all say the same thing about the person who committed the crime, “They were so nice, and so quiet, I just can’t imagine.”

I was nice you know. Really I was.  Way back when the world was my oyster and everyone was my friend. I was so nice to people  that I bordered on masochistic. It did not matter what I wanted, needed, or cared about it – I was more than willing to lay down and make room for everyone else. It was after all the “nice” thing to do.

I just knew that soon or later  if I laid down for you, the day would come back where you would step aside to make room for my wants and needs. Only life doesn’t work that way. We do not as humans necessarily notice the things (or people) we step over. We are too focused on our end point to see the cracks in the sidewalk. The only things we really notice along the way are the people walking next to us, that and the gum on our shoes.

One would think that wisdom and years would teach me that being the walking one, beside you as an equal, would gather far greater results than being gum.

One would think.

I met a woman at work one day who had more tenacity than a viper and absolutely no shame whatsoever. She had her eyes on her end game. My husband actually. He and I worked on separate floors in the same building, had two boys, and had only been married about five years when she entered the scene. Jezabel (as I lovingly called her) worked on his floor.  He took her far less seriously than I did and the very fact that he told me about her attempts at asking him out or being near him just reinforced that. She was in his mind – harmless.

My mind? Notsomuch.

In a passive attempt to mark my territory, I started using lilac scented fabric softener on his laundry, framed photos of the boys for his desk and sent cute “I love you” gifts for him to display. I even went to glamour shots and had the hottest photograph of my self ever taken, promptly framed it and made him put it on his desk.

None of it worked.

I knew I was in trouble when she crossed in front of my car while I was driving in to work.

Nice me seriously considered flooring it.

It was time to meet face to face in a non homicidal friendly environment, even though arranging that might be problematic. Turns out I didn’t have to, providence has a way of handling things on her own.

Our introduction was rather spectacular actually. We were out with friends from work at a local sports bar when she entered (with man on her arm no less). Did I mention that she was a knock out? Well she was. I spotted her before my husband did and rather than warn him, I chose to sit back and see how this plays out.

The minute she saw us, she left her boy toy in the dust, rushed over, threw her arms around him, gave him a hug and a kiss, sat on the stool to his left (I was on the right)placed her hand on his thigh and proceed to chatter up a storm.

I can imagine little worse than being a man stuck in the middle of what surely is to become a blood bath.

Quickly hoping to take the attention off himself he introduced us — and ducked. Her hands were immediately airborne, reaching to shake mine and in a high pitch squeaky voice, she offers me her name.

Formerly nice me – left her hand hanging in mid-air.

I simply smiled and said “Oh look, it’s Alvin with breasts. How nice.”

The entire table ruptured with laughter.

I didn’t need my car after all.

I guess the neighbors are right, it IS always the quiet ones.

It was the kind of come back I’d dreamed of all my life, so why did I feel so badly?

Did you ever intentionally hurt someone? How did it feel? Was it worth it?

This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. September 6, 2011. All rights reserved.

I Know Who I am.

I am God’s child (John 1:12)
I am Christ’s friend (John 15:15)
I am united with the Lord(1 Cor. 6:17)
I am bought with a price(1 Cor. 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1)
I am a personal witness of Christ (Acts 1:8)
I am the salt & light of the earth (Matt. 5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ(1 Cor. 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation (Rom. 8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant (Phil. 3:20)
I am free from any charge against me (Rom. 8:31-34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God(2 Cor. 5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:18)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6)
I cannot be separated from the love of God(Rom. 8:35-39)
I am established, anointed, sealed by God (2 Cor. 1:21-22)
I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8: 28)
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16)
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3:12)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15:1-5)
I am God’s temple (1 Cor. 3:16). I am complete in Christ (Col. 2:10)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
I am God’s co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor. 6:1). I am God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10)
I am confident that the good works God has begun in me will be perfected (Phil. 1: 5)
I have been redeemed and forgiven (Col. 1:14). I have been adopted as God’s child (Eph 1:5)

I belong to God – A Child of the King

Forgiven My Past – Promised His Future

This isn’t mine, however I love these verses. In a season of change, where my children have grown, and my confidence falters, I find a gentle reassurance when I keep my eyes focused on Christ and who HE says I am. Enjoy this day of Sabbath rest knowing you are esteemed and loved beyond measure.

Ooh They Come in Pink!

Status on Facebook: So I’m shopping at Bass Pro with my wife and I’m talking to this guy about 7.1:1 vs. 6.4:1 reel ratios, 7 baring vs. 9, magnetic brake vs. Pin braking system…..you know, the usual stuff. Then we hear a voice behind us “Ooh! They come in pink”! My wife is now the proud owner of a Zebco rod/reel combo. Humbling really…..(Jeff O’Hara )

Not only do I have a pink rod and reel, I have pink line, pink bait, and a pink hat. I’m ready to fish. All I need to do now is remember where I put that fishing licence we got last May. Why pink you ask? Easy, 1. It’s my favorite color. 2. I live with three guys (1 husband, 2 sons) Pink is the only color I know they won’t “borrow.”