My vacation from writing during Days #15 – #17 may have something to do with the introduction of a little talking into my routine. Yes, every 15 minutes I performed my vocal exercises, and yes, by last night, I was really ready to be done with them; but today, I met with my voice therapist, and I need to recalibrate. I’m reconnecting with silence.
I learned some things today. Juliana, my voice therapist, had to remind me that what I am engaged in is a full six-week recovery process. Week #2 began on the day of my first appointment with her (April 25th) so today, I am just starting Week #3. I’m not even half way through the process, and like some wise guy once said, “it’s not over until it’s over.” This will require me to be patient.
The good news is, I don’t have to do 2 minutes of vocal exercises every 15 minutes; I now have to do 4.5 minutes of vocal exercises every 30 minutes. It may not seem like much, but my timer will be ringing only half as often as it’s rung in the past week. That’s good news!
The bad news is that somehow I thought I could do more talking than I actually am allowed at this stage of the game. In the last few days, for instance, I engaged in a few conversations – one business and the others personal/social. Though I did not injure my voice while quietly conversing, I definitely got tired. Also, I didn’t realize that when I speak, I should rest vs. performing the vocal exercises. Oops. I guess I didn’t classify speaking as ‘voice use’ and therefore overused my voice. (Ha! What a shock that I would over use something!) For the next seven days, I am only permitted to use my voice for 4-5 minutes per hour. In the perfect world, those 4-5 minutes would be spent in structured vocal exercise, but in reality, they may be spent in short, quiet conversation during which I speak in brief phrases, not in paragraphs.
This brings me to a couple new terms I learned today. The first is ‘vocal budgeting.’ As a business professional, that’s a term I can easily wrap my head around. My therapist suggests I stay aware of situations or events that might potentially cause me to overuse my voice and decide whether or not I need to participate. For instance, I have a very important business meeting coming up that will require me to be in presentation mode, meaning, I’ll be doing 90% of the talking. My therapist suggests I postpone that meeting for 3 weeks when I will be closer to full vocal capacity. Tonight, I attended a support group meeting, and I decided to not share and to take my white board in order to respond to any questions that might require an answer. I’m practicing vocal budgeting.
Another term I learned is ‘vocal naps.’ This becomes necessary when I’ve not done a good job with vocal budgeting. When I feel I’ve overdone it, I can rest. (Not a familar concept to me, but I’m willing to practice.) Each interval between vocal exercises is truly a vocal nap. It’s a time that my vocal cords recover from the gentle movement of the exercises and heal. If I’m feeling like I’ve overdone it, I can decide to do just half of the exercises, or postpone doing the exercises, or stop the exercises altogether mid-way through. Juliana told me to, “be flexible.” (Not a familiar concept to me, but I’m willing to practice.)
Part of me feels like I’m back to square one; back to the day when I realized that my extroverted self was headed for a lengthy stretch of acting like an introvert. There was a certain level of panic in that realization. Today, on my way home from my appoinment, I felt sort of deflated. I was feeling very much “in the middle” of a process that seems really long and is definitely interrupting progress in several segments of my life. Thankfully, the gloomy state of self-pity passed. When I arrived home, I was able to continue on my path by utilizing that wonderful communication tool called an iPhone. No, I didn’t make any calls. I am still banned from speaking on the phone for another few weeks. But I was able to communicate via text (that mode of communication that I so despised just a few short months ago which has become my trusted friend) and reach out to my support network to chat things out…silently.
Last week, I started to think the Silent Extrovert was a thing of the past, but today, I will embrace the silence again. All is well at the end of Day #18.