Take Back Your Life!

Flaunt Your Flaws!

October 17, 2017 by Giulietta Nardone

“I think what is interesting in life are all the cracks and all the flaws and all the moments that are not perfect.” ~ Clemence Poesy

Over the 9 years I’ve written this blog, I’ve shared a lot about my life. The one thing I have never shared is the 18-year struggle I’ve had with my voice. Recently, I opened up and talked about it during a program I’m in. It felt like the right thing to do at the right time. Honestly, it felt good to get it out in the open, so people don’t sit there and wonder what the hell is up with my raspy voice.

I developed this unexpected and fairly rare voice condition about 18 years ago during a period of personal stress at work where someone was trying to push me out of my job. I literally woke up one day with a frog sound in my voice.

Originally, I thought it was from trying to sing Donna Summer and Whitney Houston songs, which were way too high for me, and it would go away. And it had to go away… I’d just been invited to join a band as the singer.

Unfortunately, it didn’t go away. It got worse. Much worse. At times I could barely say my own name because consonants were really difficult to pronounce. Only the percussive sounds: b, d, p, t were easy to say. Talking on the phone was far worse than speaking in person and I soon learned to dread it.

Sadly, I had to give up singing at karaoke nights and with a band because my once pretty singing voice developed into a cascade of cracks. I sounded like a garbled mess. That was much harder to lose than my speaking voice because I felt completely alive when I sang.

I spent three years going from voice therapist to voice therapist, doctor to doctor, trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with me. They were never 100% sure, but it seemed that my neurological pathways related to speaking had gotten corrupted and it was some kind of dystonia. Like a bad wire to a computer, except I couldn’t get a new wire. Might be spasmodic dysphonia or it might be a breathing dystonia or maybe both. Whichever one it was, it caused muscle spasms in my voice, which caused the sound to cut in and out. If I said a sentence you might miss one or two of the words. People were always saying, “What did you say?”

Doctor thought I would be completely mute by my tenth year, which freaked me out.

How would I work? sing? exchange witticisms, communicate?

Fortunately, I didn’t go mute. Perhaps, it was because I have a strong sense of humor and pretty resilient personality. I returned to two of my other childhood loves: painting and writing, which I have really enjoyed.

It has all been good.

Ironically, the raspy voice encouraged me to use it even more. Now, I believe that the part of our body that has something important to say will fall into disrepair if it isn’t used.

I’m convinced I did not become a mute because I began to speak up in a big way. Yes, some people have made fun of my voice. I just turned the cheek and kept going. That was their problem not mine.

I lead programs all the time and it really isn’t a problem. I talk at Town Meetings and it really isn’t a problem. I speak up at networking events and it really isn’t a problem. I acted in plays and it really wasn’t a problem. I co-host and produce a cable show and it really isn’t a problem.

Flaws really only become problems when we give them permission to make us feel powerless or less than human.

I say use flaws to your advantage! Because my voice is raspy people have to slow down and listen to me, which is a good thing. Because my voice is flawed they know who I am when I call more than once. Because my voice is flawed I stand out when I speak.

But the best thing that happened to me was eight years into the voice challenge: I started working with a local singing teacher, also named Julie.

I explained my situation and she agree to take me on as a singing student. For eight months, Julie helped me rebuild my singing voice. Then she encouraged me to return to karaoke. It was great to be back singing in front of a crowd. People stopped me that night and say, “your voice is so pretty.” And even better … now I could sing Donna Summer and Whitney Houston.

The corruption in one pathway, magically enhanced another. A dream come true in an unexpected way!

How about you? Do you have an alleged flaw you hide, out of some fear of rejection, shame or scorn or want that you flaunt the hell out of? Would love to hear about it on the blog below.

Muse thanks, Giulietta

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6 responses to “Flaunt Your Flaws!”

  1. Jean Gogolin says:

    I’m sure other people have told you you have this in common with Diane Rehm — and she’s had a career on the radio!

    • Thanks for the comment Jean! yes, they have said I sound like her. It’s really about people being tolerant of other folks challenges. Bobby Kennedy Junior also has it and he is on the speaking circuit!

  2. Everything has altered since my stroke. Not just my voice though that has changed as well. I’ll never be the same and I can give up, grin and bear it, or use to my advantage. Reading your story, which I was unaware of, has made a difference. Thanks for sharing.

    • Use it to your advantage is wonderful! We have a choice in these situations, which way we want to go. Happy you got something positive out of my story. You are such a gifted writer there must be an amazing story in here somewhere. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Your story is very passionate, and I love how you turned a flaw into personal power + fulfillment by going massively toward it instead of shrinking off.

    The same dynamic happened to me in a different creative aspect: fear of writing. I was crippled by it until a friend made a comment that triggered a life-changing journey. I wrote a book, launched an online course, started a coaching service and have offered all kinds of other related activities/events over the years helping writers free themselves from fear of writing. I never would have been gifted with this fulfilling career if I hadn’t been challenged to the hilt by it myself.

    By the way, Giulietta, I’ve been off social media for several years but I was reminded of your blog (and how much I used to love visiting here) by reading your story in Kathy Cordova’s book “Let Go, Let Miracles Happen.” I was thrilled to come across your name in her book this past week, and I couldn’t wait to visit your blog again. You did not disappoint. You always write from the heart and champion the wild woman within for all of us. Bravo!!

    • Hi Milli, A wonderful surprise have you back at the blog and to read your lovely words. Thank you! That’s kismet that you read my story in Kathy’s book. Great book for anyone who stumbles across it. Love your story about getting over your fear of writing. Those personal odyssey journeys — if the challenge is taken — open our worlds up in ways we never imagined. It is amazing how frightened “our trainers” make us as we get older. As children, we dive right into life and everything it has to offer. Best wishes for your continued writing!

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