Ep. #88 Lessons Learned from 21 Days of Silence

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #88 Lessons Learned from 21 Days of Silence

You know me as a dancer/ choreographer, you know me as a talker, but I am ALSO a person who WRITES… in a journal.  You better believe I journaled the crap out of my 10 days of silence that turned into 21 days of silence post vocal cord surgery.  I yielded about 3 pages of stream of consciousness writing every day, and as you can imagine, thos pages turned up a lot of… STUFF.  So, As an exercise for myself, a gift to my future self, and a gift to you;  I have decided to organize my notes and share my lessons learned from 21 days of silence (and weeks of limited talking).  Here it is!


Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.  

Dana: My friend, my friend, Dana here, let’s do this. This is my first podcast recording in over a month. Y’all if you are a first-time listener, I am recovering from the vocal cord surgery. This is my new voice. Holy smokes. If you are an avid listener, then you know that I prepared you with a lot of good stuff over the last several weeks. Uh, I, I backlogged before my surgery and wow. It is very interesting to go back into, listen to old voice, um, and even older, older voice, and to listen to this one, and I’m telling you what my friends, it is just gonna get better from here on out. I am so excited to talk to you today. Thank you for being here. All right. Now I start every episode with wins and since it’s been so long, I kind of don’t know where to start a lot to celebrate in my world. So I’m going to go with the obvious and celebrate my successful cyst removal surgery, and a very compassionate road to a full recovery, which I am still several weeks away from. But, um, I’ve been speaking lightly for a few weeks. Now I’ll be recording this episode in small bites, over a long period of time and, um, yeah. With, with the help of therapy and good old mindfulness. Oh, and I got this new headset microphone thing that I wear, um, that has like a purse looking speaker connected to it. I am basically the tour guide of my life. Uh, and I simply love not throwing my voice. I love keeping it close. And so that is my win that’s what’s going well, no, you go. What’s going well in your world.  

I’m so glad that you’re winning. Keep crushing it. Okay. Now I am going to try to use as few words as possible. I journal. You better believe I journaled the crap out of my 10 turned 21 days of silence. I yielded about three pages of stream of consciousness writing every day. And as you can imagine, that turned up quite a few things. It got messy in those pages. So as an exercise for myself and to gift to my future self and to all of you, I have decided to organize those pages, organize those notes and share my lessons learned from 21 days of silence. And a few weeks of limited talking, I should preface. I am a person who laughs at myself a lot. If you are an avid listener, you know, this, there will be some changes around here. Instead of my normal belly laugh, the guttural laugh, my doctor has suggested, uh, “tsst Tsst” type of laugh. So you might notice, um, so hard for me to not burst into uncontrollable laughter. Okay. In episode 82, Vice Chief talks about uncertainty. By the way that entire episode is mandatory listening. I am really resisting the urge to like recite the entire transcript to you now, but voice. So here’s the point I want to focus on. He says, quote, if you’re in this uncertain situation and you don’t know the right thing to do one way to approach this is to think of what is the worst thing I could possibly do. How could I absolutely ruin this and then base your next decisions on avoiding that as much as possible. Going into surgery, I knew I wanted to make the most of my recovery time, but I was actually uncertain about a lot, obviously uncertain about how the operation would go, how long it would take to fully recover if I would work or not. If I would treat this as a vacation, if I would use sign language or a dry erase board or an app, or if I would simply refrain from communication altogether for a short period, I considered going on a silent retreat. Um, but here’s what I knew. I knew what I wanted to avoid. I knew what would ruin everything speaking for one. So I decided that I would remove myself from the situations in which I would want to talk. I spent a lot of time by myself. Worry is another one. Worry about my voice, about my relationships, about my work. I noticed that worry is special. It doesn’t lead to action and it doesn’t lead to rest and recovery worry exists somewhere in the space between I don’t take action and I don’t rest. Worry was not on the menu. Neither was trying to change any of my circumstances. Wrestling with reality was not something I was interested in. Neither was filling my brain and my body with garbage. So I knew I wanted to avoid binge or emotional or boredom eating. I gave myself a schedule in which I would eat. And I told myself the foods which I would eat. I also avoided Instagram. In fact, I totally stopped. It was awesome. Talk more about that later. Oh, and here’s another one I vowed to avoid defaulting to medial and mindless tasks that don’t need to be done. For example, lots of loads of laundry, washing the floors, washing the mirrors, reading and rereading emails. I decided I would check emails twice a day. Loved that, loved that. So here’s what I wound up actually doing. Morning pages, stream of consciousness writing. Usually it took place in the morning. I also read books. I finished My Broken language by Quiara Alegría Hudes and wow I cannot wait to talk to you more about that. I’m now working my way through A little Devil in America, which is fantastic. And I have just now made my way through the index of a book called impro, which is all about improv for storytellers. Can’t wait to share more about that. Uh, I focused on music, appreciation that involved listening to and learning how to play music. I taught myself, “Hey Jude”, on the piano. I’m super proud. I refocused my mind on my goals. I did my nails. I dug into my clown training. I freestyled, I played games. I watched movies. Holy smokes that I watch movies. I meditated my first meditation. Uninterrupted was 35 minutes long. That’s about 20 minutes longer than my longest before that. And by the end of my 21 days of silence, my longest meditation was an hour and 15 minutes stoked on that. I went on walks. I played with going on walks while listening to music. And without I played with going on walks with noise, canceling headphones and focusing on my breath. That was really interesting. I worked on loving on my house and my body, the place where my body lives and the place where my mind lives, my mind lives in my body. My body lives in my house. Both got so much love. Oh my gosh, I baked. I baked a cake because I turned 35. So I did what you do in mid a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Ooh. So good. Once I was cleared to exercise, I jumped back on that bike. I spun, uh, oh. And I wrote a movie almost. I almost wrote a movie. I started writing a movie. I’ll explain more about that later too. Now, what do you think about that list?  Do you think I did a lot or do you think I took it easy pause to consider that a lot and a little or too much or not enough are different for everyone. That’s what I did. And I even tracked how often I did those things and I think I did a good amount. I also think I did not a good amount. In other words, I think I rested a good amount. I think I did nothing, the perfect amount. And I think I did the perfect amount. Now here’s what I learned. It’s not about what you do or how often you do it. Just like, it’s not about what you know, it’s about how you apply what you know. So here is what I know now. And I’m so excited to be applying it in the future. 

I learned that when the unimportant things in life get turned down, the important stuff gets turned way up. And sometimes that was really uncomfortable for me. I got to listen to my selfdoubt at a 12, I got to listen to uncertainty. I looked at its wave forms. I inspected it. I digested it. I allowed it to be loud. Hmm. That’s poetic. I allowed it to be loud. And I survived by my 21st day of silence. Those volumes taught me something very important that you won’t figure it all out In 21 days, I thought I would emerge from my 21 day silent reflection with a crystal clear image of what I’ll be when I grow up and what I’ll need to do next in order to get there. I was wrong about that. I still don’t know, but I do know that my future self is a bad-ass independent woman with a heart of gold. I know that she makes big moves gracefully. I know that she takes care of her plants. I know that she is unstoppable. And I know that she’s built a community of highly capable humans that know how to hustle yet lead with kindness. I also know that she will not Polish a turd, but she knows how she’ll do things better. Next time. When I think about that future person, I notice that she doesn’t rush. She isn’t late, nor is she early. She arrives precisely when she means to. That’s Gandalf If you didn’t catch that, that’s that’s Gandolf. Oh my goodness. The “tsst” laugh is so funny to me. It makes me laugh more. Okay. We back you’ll notice me taking my time more in these episodes because I’m becoming a person who takes time and makes time. In my three weeks of silence. I learned to call on the senses to help me slow down what they say about the senses. You know, that losing one, heightens the others. I think that’s true and helpful to remember that isolating them takes time and attention that we can create whenever we want. Right now. Think about how your shoulders feel. Relax them in one minute, they will probably have crept back up to tense again.  Relax them again right now. How does your butt feel right now? How about your jaw? What do you hear right now? Can you separate each sound? What was the last thing you tasted? Can you remember it? Can you remember where you tasted it in your mouth, back of the jaw, tip of the tongue roof of the mouth. The next time you eat, can you take the time to separate each flavor? Relax your shoulders. Do you look at your food before you eat it? By the way? I don’t think I used to, but I’m starting to and holy smokes figs are gorgeous. Just cut. Open a fig. Next time you want to take a vacation. Holy smokes. Beautiful. Unbelievable. Can you just marvel at the color of something? A post-it note, for example, when was the last time you looked at the different colors in your eyes, smell your shirt, smell the strap of your seatbelt. If you’re driving in the car, do you like the way you smell? Do you know of a smell that you love and can you fill your life with it? That’s another thing I did while I was silent, took a trip to Le Labo, absolutely gifted myself. The gift of loving the way that I smell. Relax your shoulders. Yeah. Perhaps the most valuable lesson I learned during my three weeks without speaking is how to slow down and sense my life, how to experience it sensationally. So I invite you whether you’re listening to this podcast on the day of its release or not to make this September more simple by sensing, simply put, oh, and one more thing. I learned that to me, birthdays are about chronology order measurement, evolution, tradition, and celebration. So happy birthday to you, whether today is it or not. Relax your shoulders. Happy belated birthday to me. And as a gift to us all, get out there, keep it simple and keep it very funky. And I will talk to you soon bye. 

Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me to number two thing. I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so, so much more.  All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

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