I was sitting across the table from a close friend of mine in a dimly lit restaurant. In between us wine were glasses, bowls of soup and a plate full of appetizers. Around us was the hum of constant chatter. We were continuing an ongoing discussion of how she could engage more in her work environment and personal life, to speak up and use her voice. She spoke of all of the reasons why she doesn’t speak up: she is not confident on the topic, if she feels like she won’t be heard or it won’t make a difference or she’ll be criticized. I asked her what the cost of her silence is. The price paid for silence is a piece of who she is gets lost as does what she can bring to the world. We were having this very conversation because it was beginning to cost her too much.

I was in a training the other day for women entrepreneurs. One of the biggest fears some women have, said the speaker, was the fear of failure, the fear of success, but also the fear of being seen and criticized. She said THAT is the reason why some women are afraid to start their business, to write their book, of blogging to attract business and spread their ideas, of giving trainings and teaching workshops. They are afraid of putting themselves “out there.” The cost of this fear said the speaker, are unrealized dreams, unused potential and unshared gifts. It costs us a piece of ourselves.

A few weeks ago I was at a talent show put on one evening with a group of community leaders. We were sharing our songs, poetry, words and stories. I had not come prepared to share anything. I wasn’t really afraid, I just didn’t feel like putting myself “out there.” But a poem was rolling around in my head and in my heart, the poem “Speak.” It seemed like its title was an invitation or a command maybe to do that which the poem demanded I do. I have rarely been able to resist a request to perform it. After much back and forth in my head, I decided to share my poem, my gift and little piece of myself. It was well received, people were moved and a number of people came up to me afterward saying it spoke to them. I am not sure what the cost would have been of not sharing it, but the benefit was that a few people’s hearts and minds were touched. That is priceless. Sometimes I need to hear my own words.

This year I have made a commitment to be more vocal about how I feel. I want to speak more from my heart, not just my mind. And, not only do I want my words to speak, but I want my life to speak, for me to be and share more of who I truly am. I believe there are perspectives for me to bring to the table, fruit for me to bear, visions and dreams for me to share and/or make reality and work that is mine to do. I must get about the business of finding and using my voice, sharing my gifts, speaking my truth, of living and living out loud. It simply costs too much not to, to me and to the larger world.

In the spirit of this post, here is my poem Speak


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