I found my voice in Girona…

by Aysha Griffin on June 28, 2014

Eiffel Bridge GironaOr Why Taking Responsibility – That Isn’t Yours – Can Be Detrimental To Your Health!

On the red metal bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel, over the River Onyar in Girona at sunset, walking with my friend Anna, a man, thirty-something, with a jaunty walk, approached from the opposite direction. Recognizing Ana, he slowed and exchanged greetings. “Que tal?” she asked. He said he’d just come from teaching a voice class. He cradled a bottle of Dom Perignon, and I commented that was a precious bottle. “A gift from one of my students,” he said, with a smile that conveyed genuine gratitude. He was relaxed and completely present to our conversation.

“So you teach singing?” I asked. “Not exactly. I work with professional singers, yes, and others, to find and expand their voice, which comes from their body, their grounding.” Jordi Hom continued, speaking of the relationship of the body’s organs to the body and its surroundings, using all its senses – including its intuitive sense – to give rise to voice. “It has little to do with just breathing.”

Without thinking, I asked, “Can I have a session with you?” I surprised myself. “Sure,” he replied and we made a date. The night before, I had a Skype talk with a new friend, who is a talented jazz singer. We spoke about the joy of singing, and my inhibition, believing I cannot sing on key. “You have a great speaking voice. I’m sure you can sing,” she said. I wasn’t sure, although I love to sing and know the words to nearly every song I’ve ever heard. And then this teacher appeared. Serendipity.

Jordi’s studio is a spacious room with a mirrored wall and electric piano in one corner. I stood in the middle while he walked around me, observing. “Your energy is cut off at the knees, ungrounded. It’s not flowing through your tightened chest, through your groin and connecting with the ground,” he said.

He sat at the piano and had me sing scales using different vowels. “You have no problem with key,” he noted, “but do you hear all the air in your voice?” Of course, it’s sounded like that for as long as I recall, as if diluting sound with air. “Let’s change that!” he said with glee. OK! I agreed.

For the next hour, I walked deliberately, planting my heels on the floor, moving my arms and hands in loose circles toward my body, I sat in a chair across from him as he massaged every centimeter of each hand, moving the energy up my arms, explaining how the meridians related to various organs. At one point he said, “You’re carrying responsibilities that are not yours.” As the truth of that was obvious to me, I began to weep.

I had a lifetime of stories of hurts, disappointments, abandonments… persistent memories of being wounded. I had literally taken to heart other people’s words and deeds, let them stick like a knife, drawing my life’s blood. And I carried responsibility for them, as if they were my words and deeds when, in fact, I know that everything that issues from another is theirs. I have my own. I didn’t need to take responsibility for anyone else’s. It was a heavy and painful burden that finally and suddenly could be let go. My body relaxed in a new way.

I returned several times to stand in front of the piano and intone scales. As if a miracle, I heard my voice without airiness, a pure deep rich tone. Jordi played “The Rose,” a perfect song for the occasion, and I sang, tears streaming down my cheeks. “You have a beautiful voice,” he said. Yes, I do. It’s always been there, a secret even to myself. Now it is revealed.  finding your voice

Interesting that this happened in Girona, a city renowned for its secrets hidden in massive stone walls, buried beneath ancient foundations. We all have wounds. That’s inevitable. But in relinquishing responsibilities that are not mine, my voice became clear.

“The Rose”

Some say love, it is a river
That drowns the tender reed.
Some say love, it is a razor
That leaves your soul to bleed.
Some say love, it is a hunger,
An endless aching need.
I say love, it is a flower,
And you its only seed.

It’s the heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance.
It’s the dream afraid of waking
That never takes the chance.
It’s the one who won’t be taken,
Who cannot seem to give,
And the soul afraid of dyin’
That never learns to live.

When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love
In the spring becomes the rose.




IMG_1247After walking the ancient wall that encloses the original city of Girona, Catalonia,  I returned to my computer to find an article, “68 Thoughts Every Traveler Has On Their Trip Around The World” by Nomadic Matt, one of the many travel writers to whom I happily subscribe. He does a great job at encouraging his peers to “travel cheaper, better, and longer.” While his article appeals and applies to a 20-something beer-drinking, hostel-staying crowd – the ones I met 35 years ago – it inspired me to wonder if I could make a list of “68 Thoughts A Baby-Boomer Woman Traveler Has When Traveling Alone.” Why not?

Matt wrote his list in the third person; mine is first-person and I would not presume or generalize about anyone else’s experience. Although I have had some times of loneliness, I am pleased to note I’ve had no regrets about embarking on this journey, I have been supported in countless ways by human angels at every turn, and have faith I will find my way “”home” and inhabit my dreams all along the way.

Your comments, as always, are welcome. As Iggymo would say, smiles and love.

68 Thoughts A Baby-Boomer Woman Traveler Has Traveling Alone

1. I’ve done this before, I can do it again.
2. This time I am more mature, have more skills and contacts and know-how to plan and budget.
3. I know it’s important to travel light, but damn, I need these 5 pairs of shoes because I have bunions and my feet ache and I need to have alternatives.
4. I will be traveling to various climates and have many experiences, so I need a variety of clothes for warm and cool weather, informal and more formal.
5. I need these hair and body products, this makeup, these over-the-counter drugs just in case… it’s a lot to carry, but important.
6. OK, so I fit everything into 2 rolling bags that weigh in just below the airline limit (25kg each). No matter, I can hire porters and airport carts.
7. There are no porters and airport carts. My bags are way too heavy.
8. I’m afraid I’m going to strain a muscle.
9. Why is there no one to help me?
10. Why did I agree to stay in a 4th floor walk-up without an elevator?
11. Oh well, it’s for a few weeks and I only have to carry them up and down once.
12. Yay! I am in Madrid!
13. It’s a beautiful city I’ve been in twice before and know my way around.
14. There are people everywhere, and I am lonely.
15. I attend InterNations events and get together with a few people. Well done, making new friends, seeing the sights.
16. I am still lonely.
17. I need to make more friends.
18. I do. Good, interesting people. Good for me.
19. This is the first stop on what may be a long journey in search of home. I chose this. Be patient.
20. Love yourself.
21. Everyone thinks you’re courageous.
22. I’m not. I want to see if it’s true what I’ve been telling others: that you can “Inhabit Your Dreams!” Can you really? Can I?
23. Damn, I spent a lot of money on clothes, thinking I needed to buy them before I left, only to discover I could have bought better, cheaper, more interesting clothes in Madrid.
24. I’ll give away everything I don’t need and then my suitcases will be lighter.
25. Two bags of clothes and toiletries gone to the woman who cleans the hallways, and still my bags are full to the max and too heavy.  How can this be? What else can I give away?
26. Why did I bring all those toiletries and medicines? I can buy almost everything I need when I need it.
27. Why did I bring a router and printer? I thought I’d need them for my work, but this is Europe and there is wi-fi and copy shops are everywhere. Get rid of them.
28. I give them to friends to use, with the agreement I can have them back if I need them. Why would I need them? Stop hanging on to things for some imagined contingency.
24. I carry the still-too-heavy bags down 4 flights of stairs, one at a time, at 7 a.m. Why is there no one here to help me?
25. I could hurt myself.
26. I do not know how to travel light.
27. Why is the taxi I reserved not here to take me to the train station?
28. I could miss my train and keep a friend waiting who is driving a long way to meet me. How would I get in touch with her? I haven’t figured out how to call France from Spain on a Spanish cell phone.
29. I am pathetic.
30. I will leave all my things in the hallway and hope no one steals them while I run around the corner and hope to find a taxi. Am I am idiot?
31. I find a taxi. I am OK. I am resourceful.
32. Strangers help me with my over-weight bags. I am blessed.
33. My new friend is at the Bayonne station to meet me. All is well.
34. I stay at her beautiful home in the French countryside. I am so lucky. How can two weeks pass so quickly? I didn’t get much done.
35. I am much more relaxed, at peace with this path I’ve set for myself.
36. I am organized.
37. I leave more things behind but my bags are still too heavy.
38. I am on my way to Girona, where I have wanted to go for years, and with a great place to stay, thanks to more great people in my life. It’s all good.
39. There is a French railroad strike and I cannot use the ticket I bought weeks ago to Girona. Now what? Why is this happening to me?
40. There must be another way to get there. Yes, a bus at midnight getting me in at 4 a.m. OK, I’ll deal with it. I buy the bus ticket. Whew. I’ll email my friends in Girona.
41. Fuckin’ internet at the station doesn’t work (“Sorry for the inconvenience” says the online message). I am being foiled at every turn. Am I not supposed to go to Girona? Stop with the “magical thinking,” it’s just a railway strike!
43. I find a wifi signal and get through to them. They are very helpful and consoling. Relax. All is well.
42. Can I just retreat to the comfort of my friend’s nice house in the country? No, you must carry on. Remember how courageous your friends think you are.
43. Thank god there is baggage storage next to the train station. I wheel my bags, piggy backed. It works on flat paved ground. Pretty cool.
44. Now what? I break down and cry. Why am I all alone? This is too much.
45. You’re in Toulouse. You were here before in 2008, as a journalist guest of the Tourism Board. You can rent a city bike. You have a Mexican credit card with a chip in it that should work. You are so smart.
47. With help from other bike renter, you figure it out. It works. Now ride around and see what you can discover. It’s a beautiful day. All is well.
48. I wave at kids on a boat on the river and stop to buy a bottle of water. A young French man and I get into a conversation. He is a filmmaker, lived in Australia, is full of ideas. We talk for a hour. He takes a photo of Iggy and me and the bike. How sweet! Life is full of good things.
49. The gazebo at the park is full of dancing couples, the sidewalk cafes full of friends. It is beautiful and I feel lonely.
50. The bus is full and cramped. How have I managed to travel widely and this is the first time ever that my plans have been derailed? I guess I am lucky.
51. I am in Girona. My friends make me feel very welcome. But they are leaving for the weeks I will be here. I will be alone.
52. This is a beautiful apartment they have given me. I feel grateful.
53. The city has so much history and places to explore. I can take care of myself here, see what I want, do what I want.
54. I don’t really care about churches and museums. I’ve seen a lot of them. What am I really interested in and when am I going to finish writing the two books I have in process?
55. I get out and walk around, talk to people, use “my companion” IggyMo as a device. Some moments are interesting, engaged. I stop and interact. I am good at this.
56. There are many shops with beautiful things. I don’t need to buy anything. It’s strange not having a home in which to put beautiful things.
57. The bread, pastries, wine and chocolates are fabulous and cheap. I am enjoying them all and hope I don’t gain weight.
58. That’s what happened 35 years ago when I traveled in Europe alone. But I was scared then. I’m not scared now, just missing having someone to share all this with.
59. I have coffee with a neighbor. How nice!
60. He has a life. I don’t. But I am just getting started creating this new one. Be gentle with yourself.
61. I am good at distracting myself with Facebook, with work, with writing this list.
62. Remember: this is what many people dream of doing. This is what you said you dream of doing!
63. I feel grateful for my freedom, for the many friends around the world who think of me, care about me, allow me to care about them. How blessed I am!
64. I will take myself to the coast tomorrow, as it will be hot and sunny and I want to go to the Costa Brava, the Brave Coast. I want to be brave.
65. This is my life, my human experience. I am fortunate to be here, to look out over this beautiful historic city of Girona and have so many adventures ahead.
66. I could go to a jazz club tonight, but I am too tired.
67. I think of going to Barcelona for a day or two, as it’s so close, but it seems exhausting. I was there for a week in 2006 and I have no desire to sightsee. Too many people. Better to stay in a place, ideally for a month of more.
68. In 2 weeks I will train to Paris (if there’s no train strike) and meet up with one of my oldest, dearest friends and, for that week, and the next with another friend in Burgundy, I will share the experience and appreciate not being alone. I will get rid of even more stuff, and little by little my luggage must surely become lighter.


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