Claiming Your Voice

My dream for this site was to see it grow, surely and steadily, into a wee community. I wanted it to feel like a good place to visit for a bit of respite and a coffee break, a place where the comments are as interesting as the posts. I’ve been moved by how quickly that has started to happen. We have good people reading these posts and sharing their thoughts and feelings, resources, insights and wisdom in the comments. If you have a chance, please have a wander through the comments from the last few weeks. Our genuine, meaningful responses on other people’s blogs contribute to the jigsaw picture of our online presence, our ‘voice’. The choices behind our guest  post exchanges contribute to that mosaic, too. They’re snapshots in the albums of our journeys.

Today’s post is by Nadia Ballas-Ruta. I’ve got to know her on our common blog routes, through her wonderful blog, Happy Lotus, and through her comments here. She has supported me since the day we ‘met’ through my guest post at Write to Done and I’m pleased to have the chance to showcase her lovely presence and wisdom here.  After her comment on my post about finding our voices in the silence, it seemed like the perfect time to begin our café-bistro’s ‘open mike nights’.

Claiming Your Voice

By Nadia Ballas-Ruta of  Happy Lotus

One of the things that has fascinated me about life is how so many of us are trying to find our way. I used to think that my struggle to find myself was an isolated incident because so many around me seemed to be aware of who they were and what they wanted. I later learned that this appearance was just an illusion.

We all at one point or another have wondered what is it all for and what is it that we want out of life. When we are children we seem to have a better grasp on the issue because it really is not an issue. We are content to play and run. We somehow know that all will be okay because that is what our parents tell us.

As we get older, fear sets in as we experience our first heartbreaks and disappointments. Childlike innocence is replaced with logical adult rationale. Pretty soon we are just going through the motions in life without being aware that at some point in the journey we lost sight of that child within us.

My journey to happiness has been filled with many bumps. I have had my share of suffering, and spirituality was what saved me but it was not easy.  During the midst of one of my emotional roller coasters, I realized that I needed to heal many aspects of my childhood in order to move forward. I had no idea how to do this so I prayed. I asked God/the Universe to show me what is it that I needed to see in order to have my pain stop.

So I closed my eyes to meditate and was hit with the image of being a little girl locked in a closet pounding on the door because she so desperately wanted to be free. My heart immediately went to that little girl…myself, many years ago.

I was 15 and I was sick and tired of opening my heart only to have it stomped upon by boys. I remember sitting in my room and swearing to myself that I would never ever open my heart again. So I opened the closet door and pushed my little self in there.

Here I was in my late twenties when I realized what I had done. No wonder I felt out of balance. I had lost sight of my voice. No wonder why none of my romances ever worked out. I was so concerned with not getting hurt, that I inadvertently closed off a part of my soul. It was a huge eye-opener.

A few days later, I came across an interview with the actress Kim Basinger. She talked about feeling like a trunk stamped with all kinds of labels and that she had spent her life ripping off those labels. I could relate wholeheartedly to the description because that is exactly how I felt. I felt that all these labels had been placed on me in an effort to hide the fact that I had locked away an essential part of my soul. Now that soul was screaming to be free.

Realizing something about yourself is one thing but the next steps of healing are not as easy. Sometimes, in order to overcome our past, we have to face it head on. We have to pull out all those unpleasant memories and come to terms with them. It can be very scary but as we face each challenge, we gain a little more insight into who we are.

We each have a voice that is uniquely ours. Each speaking voice is unique and so is each voice of the soul. We each have a purpose and we each have a philosophy that is cultivated by who we are and what we have done.

No one has a right to squash another’s voice or belittle it or condemn it or make fun of it. There are no absolutes when it comes to what makes you the person that you are. Sometimes we are afraid of claiming our power because we are afraid that we will not be liked or that someone else will rip us apart. How stupid is it for us to do that to ourselves?!

One of my heroes is Marianne Williamson and here is a passage from A Return To Love that has always spoken to my heart:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Once you claim your power, you will be amazed at what life will bring to your door. When I began to speak from my truth and claim my voice which is centered in creativity, all of these creative people began to appear in my life. When you speak from a place of strength, the Universe mirrors that strength back to you.

So take time to claim your voice and heal whatever it is that is holding you back. The world is waiting for your song!


  1. Hi Janice, Nadia,
    I’m here for your thoughtful comments in Collective inkwell. You’ve a unique voice which is straight from your deepest self. This is not the first time that I’m impressed with your comments in Writer Dad, CIW, though. As I read this article written by Nadia, I reflect my own childhood and the roller coaster ride of ups and downs in my life.
    I too faced severe setbacks which hurt me most in the past and now.
    I admire at the poem you quoted here – the fear is not about darkness, but the light, the enlightenment. Yes, it’s true, the world looks for immediate proofs for your greatness. It doesn’t believe or have the divine eyes to see what a truly amazing person you are in the deepest recesses of your heart. or, the mountain of courage and talent you’ve that may come out in due course of time.
    People try to deride our dreams. But, I learned not to be perturbed by the present (the remarks, whatever), and look forward to the bright future.
    I think the fear to hold your dreams to the world mutes our voice. We need to be like children who doesn’t care what criticism is and will be.
    Thanks for the great post, and this blog. I’ll visit this blog often.

    Solomon´s last blog post..Go Crazy …. It helps you LEARN and WIN

  2. Hi Solomon. I know Nadia will be visiting and replying when she gets home from work – that’s one of the things I love about her; she always takes the time to reply to comments – but I just wanted to say thank you. The “truly amazing person you are in the deepest recesses of your heart” has shown in all the comments you are generous enough to leave on the sites I’ve ‘seen’ you on. To be able to share these thoughts in a second language is awesome!

    1. Thanks, Sean. I will always be grateful for the way you and Eric welcomed me to the world of blogging and I love the whole concept of guest posting. It’s like visiting a friend and then meeting someone new or someone else you know at their kitchen table! I loved your piece at Zen Habits today! And for anyone reading who has kids in their lives, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or neighbours’ kids and wants them to learn to write beautifully, please check out Writer Dad today. Cindy and Sean are getting ready to launch the first wing of their online school!

  3. This was a beautiful post that has hit straight like an arrow into my heart today. Just this morning, my fiance and I had a long discussion about an area of my life where I repeatedly feel I have no voice and, even when I use it, do not feel heard. My response recently has been to just choose not to speak, because I do not see the efficacy of it. My fiance’s reaction to this is to say to me, “Yes, but even if no one hears you, you should still do it.” To be honest, I am not sure yet what I will do in this situation. But today’s guest post gives me a lot of food for thought.

    I love this passage by Marianne Williamson and was happy to be reminded of it today. Thank you Janice and Nadia for sharing.

    You’ve met me where I am again.

    Chania Girl´s last blog post..Animal Totem of the Week

  4. First of all, I have to give a HUGE thanks to Janice. You are a friend in the truest sense of the word and I am honored (and humbled) to be the first guest post on your beautiful site. You are truly a beautiful soul and don’t you ever forget it! 🙂

    @ Solomon – Sometimes when we stand in our full glory, we scare the hell out of people. It took me time to realize that when I went after what I wanted, I threatened other people’s sense of the world. Fear is a bully that tries to get what it wants by making you feel small but the reality is that no one is small. We are all important and we all have something to offer the world and no one has the right to make you think otherwise! Like you said, we should all be like children and not care about what others think. 🙂

    @Writer Dad – Nice to meet you too. Congratultions on the guest post at Zen Habits! Yay! I am so happy that you liked the post. Dream and dream big! 🙂

    @Chania Girl – I am so happy that this post really touched your heart today. And please know, we all have struggled and still struggle with being heard. It is part of the process of being human. You comment about staying silent is something I am dealing with too in my life. I used to think that by being silent, I was doing something good but I am starting to see that by staying silent, I am the one who is getting harmed because I am not voicing what I feel. It is a long story so I will not get into here but learning to claim your voice is a journey that we are all on. 🙂

    Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog post..The Ambition Paradox

    1. @ Thank you, Nadia – your generosity benefits everyone. I enjoy your comments as much as the range of posts you produce with awe inspiring consistency! I plan to do lots of open mike nights here so I hope you’ll ‘sing’ again!

      @Chania Girl,
      You’re very in tune with your instincts so I’m betting you’ll get there. If it’s a button pushing situation, like with parents or siblings, then you’re doing the right thing by exploring your feelings and also reaching out for input. But at the end of the day, your heart will guide you and the universe will send you signs. Just stay open. This bit of the Desiderata always helps me:

      Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
      even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

  5. When another speaks from authentic experience and offers from the heart, I feel enlarged ~ more spacious ~ part of the greater Whole!

    Thank you, Nadia!

  6. Nadia: “So take time to claim your voice and heal whatever it is that is holding you back. The world is waiting for your song!” Beautiful words. Our children sing the same tunes to remind us. That’s always validating because if we are off key we need to recalibrate through our words, actions and tone/attitude to achieve the harmonious melody that a family with synchronicity possesses.

    Cindy´s last blog post..Mothers Who…

  7. Hi Janice,
    This is my first time to your blog and your recent posts made me wanna subscribed 🙂

    Hi Nadia,
    Congratulations ! you have once again come up with an important fact that really need to be discussed.Actually everyone loves to claim their voice.I’m pretty sure everyone of us have dreamed about claiming our voices someday whilst looking at someone else who already had claimed his/her voice.But why most of people end up with never claiming it in the end?What is the reason draw them back?They have strength.But they need some one to push them back with a strong hand to overcome their fears of stepping forward. That’s where you have proved the value of your article. It has a huge strength of pushing us ahead.
    Thanks for the push Nadia 🙂

    vikum´s last blog post..People who need your love most

  8. This is a very beautiful post, Nadia! Janice, I’m new to your site, but I plan on spending a few moments to look around. It’s a very nice place you have here!

    Jay Schryer´s last blog post..Naming Desires

  9. @ Vikum
    Thank you! Hope you enjoy your visits. Thank you for your Guest Book entry, too.
    @ Jay
    Thanks for popping over from Nadia’s – I’ve enjoyed sharing your journey over there! I hope you’ll drop in again some time.
    @Positively Present
    Thanks! It was good bumping into you over at Chania Girl’s. I met her through Nadia’s site, too.
    @ Marc
    Spill them over at Daily Aikido or in a Welshscribe interview! Or I know a wee site where the owner encourages regular comment-writers to share their journeys! 😉

  10. @ Cindy – Thank you so much for all the kind things you said. I loved how you applied it to the concept that each family has a melody. Very beautiful! 🙂

    @ Vikum – Thank you for sharing your thoughts about why some people struggle with claiming their voice. I guess we all need a push and if this post can help one person, I am happy. 🙂 As to why some people do not claim their voice, I think it has to do with fear. Fear is a very powerful
    emotion that simply gets in the way of so many things!

    @ P.P. – You are welcome and I am happy you enjoyed it. 🙂

    @ Jay – Thank you for the support, Jay. Janice has a beautiful site. I am sure you will find many jewels here. 🙂

    @ Marc – I think you will find a way to spill those thoughts since you are a owner of two sites great sites!!!! 🙂

    Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog post..Claiming Your Voice

  11. Janice,
    Thanks for introducing us to Nadia. This was a beautiful post. Your sharing spirit has surely benefited me today.

    I was touched by this post on many levels, but the point that stood out to me was this one: “No one has a right to squash another’s voice or belittle it or condemn it or make fun of it.”

    My daughter has a pleasing personality and always seems to be the center of conversation at any group gathering. She married a man who was very quiet and loved to stay home. He did not care much for what he considered “trivial” conversation.

    He would get irritated with her when she would greet him when he got home from work. This was his time to unwind, and to him unwinding meant silence.

    I saw my daughter go from a bubbly young woman, to a woman with a heavy soul. Not only did she stop speaking to her husband, she really had no voice left at all. I could not get her to open up, nor could anyone else.

    After five years of marriage, a miracle happened. Her husband, all on his own, saw what he had done. He addressed, in writing, a message to my daughter and to our whole combined family.

    He admitted to us that he was someone who did not like conversation. He said, ” I saw what effect this had on her. At first she was happy and joyful and loved to talk to me. Gradually, to please me, she became like me. She stopped talking. She would only converse with me if I started the conversation. She died, and I’m the one who killed her. I realized something strange. I missed the person that she was. I missed her happy spirit. I wanted her back. ”

    He apologized to her, and today we do have my old daughter back. She has her voice. I am grateful that her husband saw what he had done after only five years.

    I also am happy that you included Marianne Williamson’s passage. I first heard it on “Akeelah and the Bee” and was struck by it’s power and truth.

    Randi´s last blog post..How to be Frugal Without Being a Scrooge

  12. @Randi – Thank you so much for sharing the journey your daughter experienced in her first years of being married. It is great that her husband saw the effect of his actions and did something about it. Not many people are self-aware and willing to own up to their part in a situation. You must be so happy to have her back! 🙂

    Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog post..Claiming Your Voice

  13. Hi there, Randi,
    Missed you! I hope this means you’re on holiday now and have some time to relax and replenish yourself.

    I love your comments – always so much heart and story telling in them! This one was a beauty. I hope their marriage goes from strength to strength.

    Randi is one of my favourite commenting buddies over at one of Sean’s other sites and also at Cindy’s. Huge heart of gold and writes beautifully.

    Glad you two got a chance to meet!

  14. Nadia–I am happy to have her back! She is why I am grateful to see these “voice” posts. Too often, we want someone to hear our voices, but we don’t realize the silly little things we do to kill others’ voices.

    Janice–Yes, I am finally out of school and happy to be able to spend more time blogging. I was reading your site frequently before school got out, but am happy now to have more time to chat with you. You’ve done beautiful work here on this site. It exudes happiness.

    Randi´s last blog post..How to be Frugal Without Being a Scrooge

  15. Hi Nadia and Janice

    I love the spirit of community you two are creating with shared posts like this one. I also love Randi’s story about how her daughter’s voice was squelched by a self-centered husband. One of the problems I sometimes have with the positive thought community is an implied notion that no one can harm you without your permission. That simply is not true. Words or, ironically, lack of words in Randi’s daughter’s case, can cause harm. All the more reason for a forum like this where one can go and know no harm with come to them. Great job.

    Brenda´s last blog post..Poor Kitty

  16. @Brenda and @Jack
    Thank you! You have given my morning a glow that will keep me going all day! The phrases “spirit of community” and “to support a tolerant and caring community” mean more to me than you can imagine.

    The people in these boxes are all the kind of people drawn by this vision. It takes many voices to make a choir, but as Brenda was saying, even the most positive communities can inadvertently create energies that challenge us. I want this to be a place where someone can come and say “I know the theory, but sometimes the practice is hard. I try my best, but I’m tired.”

    As you’ve both understood and expressed so beautifully – as have all the people in these comments – sharing our vulnerabilities as well as our strengths gives others a breathing space to do the same. That’s one thing we all have in common here. The bravery to share our painful moments as well as the sense to know not to dwell on them, and the wisdom to be able to empathise with and support others. The blogging world needs it. The majority of bloggers work incredibly hard and many of us are prone to bouts of weariness, self doubt and despondency because of it. This quote sums up what I want this place to be about:

    Respecting other’s voices and feeling comfortable with our own

  17. Nice to have you here, Ian, and thank you. I’m enjoying the chance to meet Nadia’s readers and have enjoyed your comments over there. I saw you over at a mutual friend’s blog yesterday, too, and I’m especially pleased that you’ve visited here after the gaff I made there. I was mortified. I hope now that you’ve visited, you’ll understand that my intentions towards our colleague were well meaning and prompted by the kind things people have said about the overall ‘feel’ of this site’s theme. Glad you stopped by.

  18. @ Brenda – Thank you for leaving a comment and for stressing the importance of the effect of words (or lack of words) is in my opinion much more powerful than a physical act. I think a person can harm someone much more with words than with a punch. Words effect the soul, a punch cannot.

    @ Ian – Maybe the Universe is trying to tell you something. 😉

    Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog post..604,800 Amazing Options

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