Permission to Speak.

Ever since I was a kid I knew I wanted to be a speaker. I'd hook our hefty black karaoke microphone up to my double-sided tape player and record mix tapes filled with announcer-like and entertaining clamoring, pretending I had my own Top 40 radio show. Getting great grades across my manila colored report card, the inevitable conduct row was sometimes checked with a C, accompanied with a note from the teacher explaining my excessive talking; some would argue I simply liked the sound of my own voice. Confused by others as the need for attention, I always felt I could contribute. That my experiences were worth something and if they could possibly help someone else then by all means I should share them. Where in the world I got this notion from I haven't the slightest clue, but I've never given it up, despite perils throughout school and young kid who got teased for not understanding the meaning of "no means no" (Yes, I got made fun of for that. I mean, you got nothin' better?!?!) and was always labeled the "most talkative". In college after a semester of studying abroad (and never once anyone mentioning my towering voice posing a problem to their sensitive little ear drums), I surprisingly received a sarcastic award for "the Best Broadcasting Voice", something I took in laughter and stride but added to my growing self-conscious notion that I was indeed too loud. And talked too much..and in the eyes of others did it for attention. And still didn't take no for an answer. These traits of mine compacted, and consistently throughout my young  life the world conveyed that these parts of my personality were just too much. And with that, I started to feel guilty about my desires to speak to crowds. As if this desire within me was nothing but pleasurable, self-promoting, and attention seeking. Plus others were already doing it, and I was too loud and vocally rambunctious to stand up there anyway. I've always known I am meant to help. The desire to honestly share and connect where I can is a huge part of me that is practically bursting through my chest. Staring my business I put the notion aside, and as it always tugged at me, I put my head down and carried on, determined to focus on my craft of photography and quietly help those around me, consciously making an effort to not draw attention to myself. After all, that's what I had been conditioned to think was wrong with me.

I will never forget sitting in the banquet hall at WPPI, ready to hear Jose Villa speak. The lights dimmed, the screen on the front flickered on, and his awe-inspiring images paired with a cool, trance-like mix of songs I'd never heard but immediately obsessed over flowed across my senses. I was excited. In awe. And completely, utterly, envious. He was up there, doing what I wanted to do. Crafting. Creating. Inventing. And mostly, encouraging. I'll never forget the way hearing that song "On A Big Jet Plane" next to his romantic images impacted me. In that moment, I knew, I was meant to do what he was doing, but in my own way.

I don't know when it happened, but eventually I began collecting songs of my own. Sounds that spoke to me and helped me to see myself living the dream. Ones I pictured playing myself as I stood on a stage, nerves and adrenaline pumping, in hopes on sharing a nugget of info with someone who needed it most. Driving down the road the other night after a meeting with my church group, I heard it. And saw it. And felt it. And allowed my own heart to become inspired by myself. I came home and eagerly described the moment I heard Jose speak to Marshall (because he's gotta know the backstory, duh), then made him listen to what will be my slideshow songs. I dictated the presentation as he struggled to listen to my jam, politely letting me know he wanted to actually hear it, and we laughed as I danced around, excited I found the beats that make my heart soar. I don't know if I'll ever get to play those songs set to my images for a massive crowd, but I do know I've begin to let the thoughts and stereotypes of others go. What they say about me doesn't matter. I may be too loud, my jewelry too gawdy with too many curse words peppered in, but in my world more is more. I will never let the opinions of others dictate my personality -- there's a reason I want to speak and my voice naturally carries--my mic just give out one day and I may need to wing it! ;) I don't know where life will take me, but I'm happy I'm back to dreaming those wild, fearless and loud dreams.