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Tips to Claim Your Authentic Voice

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I once believed that my voice was insignificant. Surely, no one was that interested in my story or the way it shaped my views. It was a way of living with a half-script of my life. The universe needs the fullness of your voice, and the human family thrives when we each claim our voice.

Choose to be a participant rather than a victim. Victimhood is not pretty or life-giving. It feeds on dullard choices and creates a cycle of spiritual, emotional and intellectual poverty. We become bystanders to our own lives. Instead of nursing victimhood, life invites us to be full, active participants.

It begins with knowing that in the many elements of your story -- the wonder, shame, regret and joy -- ancient wisdom and universal spiritual truths are revealed. Over many years, I discovered that holding all the aspects of my story together allows new light to be shone on their interwoven circle of truth.

Instead of allowing others to define or diminish me, I discovered that my story and voice are a gift. They connect me with unexpected people, because our authentic stories offer a meeting ground. When I claim my voice, the connecting stories reveal that my story is never just about me. It is about our need of one another.

What will you give your heart to each day? It's all too easy to allow the day and its demands to define you. Choose instead to be expectant about the day. I begin each day with a simple reminder of the word I've chosen to be my guide for the year. This year that word is awe.

I remind myself and the universe that I am aware and open to awe in the day ahead. It may be in the dancing light of sunrise the beauty of a small park I pass by or the sight of a flock of birds. Or, awe might be discovered in the wisdom a stranger, the kindness of a colleague or the playfulness of my Labrador.

Awe is present at the end of the day when I take a few moments to name the awe that I have experienced, marveling at it and giving thanks. The awe of life that I give and open my heart to becomes a blessing on the day that is ending.

How will you greet and embrace the day? In my work, I've discovered that my own voice is shaped by making a mindful intention each day. Years ago, I woke up on one of those numbingly-grey and wet Seattle days and a torrent of complaints spewed out of my mouth. This was not like my usual enthusiasm for the day. My spouse calmly said, "Wow! Perhaps you can create your own sunshine today?"

It's all too easy to allow negative thoughts, anxiety or even fear of the day to be overwhelming. On those days, we become strangers to ourselves and others. As I remind myself each day of my word for the year, I offer an intention to be awake, aware and open to the goodness of others and the day.

Celebrate time! I may have no ultimate control over the flow of time, but how I view time is life-shifting. Time is a companion to be celebrated. Having coffee with a friend or talking on the phone to a cherished person in my life is something I view as a feast in my day. Choosing to let go of looking at my smart phone or tablet is a choice to be present to the moment in those feasts. I'm able to enjoy or luxuriate in the feast at hand.

Celebrating time as a companion is a choice about letting your authentic voice enter the flow of life. My gratitude is expressed each day for time serving others or being with friends, family or colleagues. It might also include celebrating time for creativity or time alone. Each becomes an expression of celebrating the rhythm of the universe.

In each of these four ways, I am reminded of how essential my authentic voice, along with that of others, is to being alive and human. How will you live a full-scripted life by claiming your authentic voice?

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