Friday, January 28, 2011

My Father's Voice

Tonight we had dinner with friends and I found myself saying negative things about the teacher's union, supporting smaller government, questioning the state-owned liquor stores here, and so on. After awhile Tom just looked at me, shook his head in wonder, and said I was repeating my father's old tapes. And he was right. My father considered himself an independent though he was really more a libertarian. And he had very persistent tapes about the teacher's union and smaller government.

At the time I said those things I thought they were my opinions, at least my opinions of the moment. But when Tom pointed out that I was repeating my father's words, I wondered if perhaps I was just trying on those opinions like trying on new clothes. How do these words sound to me? What kind of reaction do I get from others? Do I really think this?

Why now at 57 would I be saying things that only a few years ago I would argue against? I know Churchill's saying: Anyone who is not a liberal when young has no heart and anyone who is not a conservative when old has no brain - or something like that. And I have watched myself become more conservative with time - not just with politics but also with personal choices and preferences.

I just read about a 92 year old woman who still runs marathons. She said she relished the challenge -- and she looked at least 20 years younger than her age. Perhaps I can use her image as a prompt to curb my conservative tendencies. The challenge for me over the next ten years is to balance my cautiousness with some risk, and to listen carefully - if my father is speaking through me, I need to head the message and change the subject.

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Sunday, January 9, 2011


I spent the afternoon playing with art supplies at a journaling workshop with Cynthia Mooney. There is nothing that brings me closer to my "inner child" or makes me feel closer to my mother. She was an artist and a writer. Although I don't remember ever painting with her, she did encourage us in creative pursuits, particularly writing. One of the last exercises of the day was a writing prompt - what is your word for the year? The word came to me quickly - "clarity".

This year I hope to be more grounded in my speech, if that makes sense. I want what I say to more clearly reflect what I mean. Strange that this should still be an issue at this stage of my life, but it is. With communication as challenging as it is, clarity can only help with understanding.

I'm not exactly sure how to go about working on this. Having just seen The King's Speech, I'm wishing for my own language coach. I've never really thought about this before. Since I only discovered my hearing loss as an adult, I never had the benefit of a speech therapist. In second grade, I failed the hearing screening and brought home a note telling my mother to take me to a doctor. She took me to our dear family friend and pediatrician, Dr. Kahn, who put his watch up to my ear. "Can you hear this?" Of course I said yes. "Oh Carla, there's nothing wrong with her hearing. Look how well she speaks." And that was that.

So now my inner child is asking for a language coach. And maybe I will try to find one.

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