Living is Easy With Eyes Closed

Welcome back, dear reader, for a journey into the world of relaxation. In this blog you will get:

·      Why regular deep relaxation is essential to good health.

·      The relationship between relaxation and having an effective voice.

·      A simple relaxation method.

One of the most vastly underrated activities in America is relaxation. In our desire to get ahead we go full throttle, ignoring the “law of diminishing returns.” We keep on working when we are spent, thinking we are getting ahead. Instead we might be pushing ourselves into exhaustion or illness. 

I am urging you to put rest and relaxation on the top of your to-do list. Make them your must-dos in your life. Every day I rest twice, morning and evening, for a period of 20 minutes, doing meditation for my general health. I learned Transcendental Meditation because the Beatles introduced it to America in the 1960s. Later I also studied meditation following Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk now living in France.

In all my years of voice work I have noticed that the people I can’t help with their voice are the ones that can’t let go and relax their muscles. Therefore, if you are serious about transforming your voice to please yourself, you should seriously consider learning to meditate. It’s the first step in getting your voice right. 

In case you haven’t been meditating I will give you an example of a meditation now from Thich Nhat Hanh.

How do I start?

I go into a quiet room where I won’t be disturbed--the phone off, the pets corralled, lights lowered--and I sit down in a straight chair, feet flat on the floor, hands resting comfortably on my lap. I sit with my spine upright and I relax all the muscles in my body. 

Guided Meditation – Create Warmth and Calmness and Mindfulness

Imagine you are safely sitting in a nice warm pool of water on a bright sunny day. You’re relaxing in the warm water. Nothing is more important right now than being happy and relaxed. This is your time.

Begin to notice your breathing soft and deep in your abdomen. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth and let your breath come naturally. Notice the sun’s warmth gently on top of your head. Notice how nice it feels.  Let any tension in your head go. 

Allow that warmth to descend to your temples, cheeks, lips, tongue and jaw. Let your jaw drop slowly and easily. Your mouth opens slowly. Breathe.  Let go …

Next let the warm feeling move to your neck then your shoulders. Notice any tension and let it go. You move that warmth to your upper arms, elbows, wrists and hands and fingers. Any tension?  Let it go.

Move down to your chest, your abdomen and your pelvic area.  Notice any tension, let the sun’s warming light soothe you and let the tension go.

Move to your legs. Notice your thighs, knees, calves, ankles, feet and toes.  Let any tension go.

Relax in your warm pool for a few minutes longer. When you are ready you can open your eyes. How do you feel now?

Until you have this process memorized it’s best to start this exercise with a friend reading it to you slowly.

This is one of the many approaches we use at Say It Proud Speech Therapy.  My clients enjoy the openness and rest it provides. It’s the perfect place to start working on your voice.I invite you to be relaxed and imagine yourself with a great voice. 

If you’d like some help in getting relaxed and taking on your voice consider using Say It Proud Speech Therapy.

Happy Trails!  






Welcome back dear reader! Today we are talking about the importance of warming up for good vocal health. The American-Canadian soprano Sondra Radvanovsky said, “The vocal cords are a muscle, and like any other muscle in the body, they can be strained. So you have to warm up.”

To open up you have to warm up.

There is no opening up without warming up. Let’s think about it. In this blog you will get an explanation of the importance of warming up, followed by an easy warm up exercise.

If you’ve ever tried to run even a short distance without warming up you can sure feel sore and maybe even hurt yourself. Whether you are a runner warming up your calf muscles or a speaker warming up your vocal cords, warm-ups are essential. Here’s why.

Warm-ups increase blood flow to your muscles, open them up and gets them ready for vocal work. Yes, your vocal apparatus is made of muscles. You know that warming up the voice is something that actors, singers and radio/tv announcers do to get their voices ready for the rigors of their profession. They’re back there behind the scenes doing their exercises.  You don’t see them but that’s what they do.

Well, there are many ways to warm up your voice and one of them is by humming. As I researched for this blog I came upon Carole Bourne’s work at the Rejuvenation Lounge Community. She wrote a piece called, How to practice a simple humming meditation.

You can find her here


Here’s my take on how to practice humming:

Find a quiet place to sit, close your eyes, straighten your spine, neck and shoulders and then relax. Gently touch your lips together so your hum can travel easily into your head, face and neck muscles. Relax your jaw. Play some soft background music to enhance your experience.

Take a deep slow breath in, and then create a “mmm” sound on your exhale. Continue to hum the “mmm” until your breath is exhausted. When you are finished exhaling don’t rush to inhale. Simply allow your lungs to fill up.

Start with 1 minute of practice and increase the time in small increments until you get to 5 minutes.

When you can do this exercise for 5 minutes pause and check yourself out. How am I feeling? Is there a sense of opening up, of being relaxed? Just notice.

You can find out more about my programs on my “How it Works” page here on my website. You can write to me there and get on my monthly newsletter list. The newsletters are always filled with life affirming and interesting tips to help you get the most out of your voice.


Happy Humming!!

Get your giggle on!







Hi there everybody and welcome back to Josie’s blog space. Victor Hugo, the famous 19th century French poet, wrote Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face. We are in some trying times now. More than ever we need a sense of humor. So if you’ve forgotten how to giggle READ ON!

Laughter is essential for good mental health, but did you know it’s great for your voice?

When you approach a big new task such as transforming your voice, a lighthearted feeling goes a long way in easing you through your frustrating moments.

Today you’ll learn:

 To use humor and instantly change your perspective

 To hear and imitate a woman’s laugh

 Practical tips for bringing laughter into your life

Smile More – Hold a straw between your teeth, not your lips. By doing this you will train yourself to smile. Our bodies respond subconsciously to the sensation of smiling by producing endorphins. Notice when women are out they often give a smile of recognition to other women. Sometimes these friendly greetings lead to light hearted conversations. From there laughter is just around the corner.

Surround yourself with people who make you laugh.  I am profoundly grateful to a teacher who said to me over and over, “Josie, you get your life from the people you hang out with.” Like everyone, I used to think some people were my friends and it turned out they weren’t. I said good-bye to them, and surrounded myself with light-hearted, committed people who made me laugh.  Did my perspective ever change! Now I laugh in a moment. Has that happened to you? 

Watch funny movies and TV programs. Whenever I need a quick laugh I tune into Seinfeld.  I instantly laugh at the absurdity of watching the tall, lanky Cosmo Kramer doing Karate with 8 year old kids. You may recall George Costanza coming into the deli and delivering this precious line, “My mother caught me.”

Mel Brooks’ movie, Young Frankenstein, is priceless too. The part that put me into an instant laugh is when Cloris Leachman as Frau Blucher hears horses get excited every time her name gets mentioned.  All right, who makes YOU laugh? I really am asking you… Make a list now and tune in. 

Turn off the news. No, we don’t want to put our heads in the sand. The problem starts when we become reactive to the news. We just don’t want to be OWNED. When I find myself owned I choose Kramer to break its hold on me and I join in the absurdity.

Finally, learn to laugh at yourself. My wife laughs at herself every time she says, “There are so many ways to go wrong in life”. She goes on in French with “Ce n’est pas ma faute”. In other words, “It’s not my fault.” Soon we are laughing over the spilt water on the floor!

It’s amazing to me how natural a transwoman’s voice sounds when she is willing to intersperse her vocal work with the fun of giggling like a woman.

I've discovered that by smiling and then laughing I add a lilt or upward feeling in my head around the sound I produce. A giggle is often produced in an effort to avoid a full laugh. People often find it amusing. When it's amusing and not resisted it adds a light-hearted dimension to vocal training.

So, let’s say you’ve been working on your voice and you feel frustrated that you are not making progress - a simple giggle can ease your tension and inspire you to carry on. 

Here are some suggestions to get you started:  

Start with a smile – think of something comical – then take in some air through your nose.

Begin to let your air out on the soft sound “haehaehae”.

Let your jaw drop open easily so that your mouth is fully or almost fully open.

Now continue to feel the sound only coming through and out of your mouth.

Focus your breath and the “haehaehae” sound on your soft palate. That means to arch the back of your tongue toward the soft area of the roof of your mouth.

Start to giggle on the ‘ae’ or the ‘a’ sound as in “but”

Play with laughing . . .  Listen to the following audio clip for an idea on how women giggle.

Listen and giggle along – do it a few times if you can or return to it and do it again.

Listen to how she gets her laugh in her head and uses those low vowels. Then come back and try this exercise again.



There is more in store for you at Say It Proud Speech Therapy. You’ll get the nuance of laughter and a whole lot more as you make your way to the voice of your dreams.  You will practice, practice, practice and have fun.  You may be surprised to find out how your laugh moves around in your body. Begin with the focus laughing in your head and notice that it may move down to a full out belly laugh which releases those pleasurable endorphins.

If you have any questions, get in touch with me through my website, Say It Proud Speech Therapy.

Happy Laughing …



Election Blog

We stand in the face of a massive defeat of our values. Our heads are bowed. We stand in the face of a government turned over to fools.

I will stop my name calling. I seek a higher love.

Words of the Dalai Lama when asked about the Chinese regime takeover of his beloved Tibet he said, “They have taken away my country, I will not give away my mind.”

The visceral feeling of a loss is profound.  I am in fear. I shall acknowledge and embrace my fear.

I stand in awe of my destroyer - my death. In the words of Diane Ackerman “I praise my destroyer.”

Point:  Our deep sense of loss empowers me to recognize the passing of a time of great joy and anger. Joy in our accomplishments. People can marry whomever they love. I am angry as I am confronted with the noise and vitriolic verbal onslaught of recent times.

I recognize what it is so …

Acknowledging I am powerless to stop it. I am powerful to stand up and honor my core belief in the basic decency and humanity of all people everywhere. I seek a higher love.

I stand proud in the face of those who would slay me.

I stand proud in the face of those who shun me.

Point: Who owns me? What is my life for? Shall I be owned by fear and hatred?

No! I declare No.

I will go on. I stand. 

Nervous? Yes, for sure!

Problem with the Metro card only a symptom.  I brought an expired one with me. I explained the situation to my wife and went to get a new Metro card. Finally, on the bus on Saturday 12/26/15 I am riding into Manhattan in stealth.

Not a word to mom. What is the impact of playing don’t ask don’t tell? My transgender secret is sure and the truth of my life is hidden. I am secure with my wife and not ashamed. You recognize this place I am sure.

We arrive at 34th Street and took the crosstown bus to 8th Ave. Excited? yes. Scared? yes, Nervous yes. What if they refused to work with me?  Stop it you are just in a story I tell myself.  Comfort provided from Adrienne. Arriving at Beauty 35 I see and enter this little corner store. “Let’s go to the back,” I said. Okay?!  When we reach the back the salesperson,

Gloria said,

We don’t have wigs for men.


I said:

Good I must have come to the right place.

“I am transgender and I want to feminize my appearance. Do you have any pretty wigs with human hair?" “Oh yes,” she said.  As I tried them on she worked at her pronouns and wig after wig she said, “Cute”  “Nice” “You look good.” You may ask who I am being.  Well, I am being fun and light and grateful for the attention. Gloria and her assistant Mercedes get me right away and the friendliness I read about on their website line is what I generate. The friendliness I received as I am looking in the mirror at the new me emerging is the perfect mirror to be operating from.  I purchase two human hair wigs.

My take away lesson is: When I was honest and upfront of who I am and what I needed I noticed how that darling salesperson came to my assistance. The rest was easy.

Josie shops in the women’s dressing room at Macy’s Herald Square. This is a story of being confident, expecting to be admitted and taken as my word and action. A whirlwind the day after Christmas.  I wanted to leave and Adrienne kept the supportive pressure up. My inexperience was clearly showing its roots.  I was so scared. How would I ever get to use the women’s dressing room? Steady on and by asking for what we needed and wanted. It was that simple.

Before we tried on anything we went to the dressing room on the 7th floor. There we found Roseann.  Adrienne said, “My wife is transgender can you accommodate us in the dressing room?”  “Oh yes, by all means,” Roseann said. “Go find what you want and I will look after you ladies.” Oh how nice did that walk into the dressing room for the first time with Adrienne feel.  She came with me. Soon we realized that the clothes were too big.  Roseann sent us to the 5th floor. There we got our try-ons and proceeded to the women’s dressing room. The girl there said, “You can’t go in there." Once again Adrienne said, “My wife is transgender.”  “Oh,” she said, “I am so sorry,” the sales girl said, ”I need to do that, it’s my job.” Then we were shown an empty room and we did our stuff. I ignored the stares.  

One woman shopper came up to me and said “Do you know that this is the women’s department?” “Yes, I said, gleefully, I know.  I am getting my outfit together for my university teaching. She smiled and walked away.

Later the same woman helped me find my umbrella.

What a joy.

Welcome to Josie’s Corner

My intention is to build a grand neighborhood here! If you identify as transgender you have come to the right place.

Here I propose that you gradually develop a deepening sense of yourself. I’ve got a question today. What does it take to get a voice change?

You have nicely transitioned in changing your body shape and your hair style, but your voice remains distinctly lower than you would like and it just doesn’t sound feminine.

Now you’re interested in investing the time and energy it might take to get the result you want—which is to pass. Well, you have to be more than just slightly interested in doing the voice work. You have to want it, really want it. And you have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and go to work big time. Voice change, like any other change, is challenging and inspiring all at the same time.

Let’s start at the beginning! The vocal exercises we do enable you to create and maintain a beautiful natural voice.  Your voice has a unique quality all its own, so thanks for reading this far, inviting me into your life, and it is my great pleasure to be on this journey with you. If you are seeking a healthier voice or a voice that vitalizes your inner spirit-- all is well.

Welcome to my studio to see what we do in voice work. I’m a professional so I know that to get the most out of your voice it is very important to remember to do warm-ups and cool-downs. You have probably noticed that your voice comes out of the body you have so it’s no surprise that we begin first with warm-ups of your body! 

Relax and enjoy. Stand with feet about a foot apart, weight slightly forward, knees relaxed (not locked), knees approximate to the toes. 

1) Chest stretch - Interlock hands behind your back, raise slightly with a gentle pull. Feel the stretch across the chest.

2) Upper back stretch - Join hands in the front of the body, bend knees, bring arms up and stretch forward feeling the back rounding, and the stretch across the shoulders.

3) Trunk - Wrap left arm and hand gently around your waist on to the right, right arm on back in opposite direction. Body faces forward. Twist gently to the right while looking over right shoulder. Reverse everything or twist to the left.

I hope you try these stretches. In a future blog I’ll give you some vocal exercises to do.