Singing Through the Pain-Burning Mouth Syndrome

Kali SingingNOTE: Although this post will remain on Kali’s Musings, future BMS posts will appear on A Burning Journey. Please check it out if you are interested in more about Burning Mouth Syndrome.

As those of you know who have visited this blog from time to time, I am a singer. In fact, when I die and my obituary goes into the paper, the first line will say, “She went to sing with her Savior…”

I don’t remember when I didn’t sing. Sometimes not so well, but with experimentation and practice comes expertise, and then there is always the question of talent. Not just hitting notes perfectly, great pitch, phrasing or vocal range, but something a bit more ephemeral…

I have the ability to make people feel something when I sing.

When I experienced Burning Mouth Syndrome the second time, I became aware that speaking and singing increased the burning, and so two things happened. I withdrew from my usual extremely extroverted social schedule and I stopped singing at church. I might as well have lost a limb. The pain of not expressing myself grew over time, and I found myself crying at worship services because I could not understand why God would take away my instrument of praise to Him.

I eventually discovered that He did not. That instrument was still available to me, but it was going to take a decision, some effort, and a great deal of perseverance on my part to use it.

I had to sing through the pain.

If you are not a singer, dancer or athlete, I am not sure I can convey to you what that is like, but if you are, you know that sometimes you simply hit a physical or mental wall and the only way to scale it is to break through until you come out the other side.

Each Sunday morning I would start easy, warming up my vocal cords, and by the end of the service, I made it my goal to be singing out in full voice. It wasn’t easy, and many times I questioned myself and my decision, but by the next Sunday, I was ready to try again.

Would I have continued if I was actually damaging my voice or vocal cords? Continue reading

Irish Reflections

Family in IrelandI was in retreat this weekend with a group called the Leadership Pilgrimage, and one of the tools they use for meditation and reflection is poetry. I don’t write poetry, by the way; I write songs.

A lovely poem called “Postscript” by Seamus Heaney was read and discussed and I found my heart and mind taken away to a poignant ride along a twisting country road to Kenmare in Southern Ireland in 2006. We were taking a hotel limo from the train station to the Sheen Falls resort and the road twisted like a winding snake with more switchbacks than I had experienced on horseback rides in the mountains of Colorado. We asked the driver why the road was so torturous and he pulled over to a rest stop and asked us to come out and look. We were on a hill and looking out over the road we had traveled, we could see most of where we had come from and down to the sea where we were headed.

He cleared his throat and said, “You are Irish, aren’t you?” We nodded and smiled, but he did not smile back.

“You see,” he said, “As the famine reached its worst, the folks living in the middle of the country had nothing. Their only hope was to get to the sea where at least they could fish for subsistence. Hundreds and hundreds of them gathered what they could carry and began their horrible trek to the coast from where they lived. Along the way, the old, the young, the sick and the feeble died and were buried where they fell, as long as their fellow travelers had the energy to do so.”

“Their belongings fell into piles along the way, as well, and eventually the road simply curved around them. This is the famine road, my friends, and it was walked by many of your forefathers and the twists and turns…each one, stand for a loss and a dream all at once.”

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Singing TrophyMusic is as much a part of me as my major organs.  I can remember being very young, and unable to go to sleep if there was music playing anywhere in the house, because my mind would start following and then anticipating the melodies, or even singing the words if I knew the song. It was maddening at times.

As I have related elsewhere in this blog, I became a professional vocalist early in my life. The following is a story I wrote for the Story Circle Network, which was featured in their September, 2011 journal.

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