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Out From Behind the Shelter of Words

I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘voice‘ recently.  Not just writing voice, but actual physical, human voice and what that adds to the mix.

I’m aware of a growing internal insistence to use my own voice as part of the expression of what I do, and a way to convey the rhythm and pulse of the language that we use.

(Sometimes I almost feel stuck, semi-silent, behind a screen of words, a shelter of my own making.)

I woke up the other morning with a crystal clear idea about a way to share a bit more of my voice, as a way to share and convey my love of the poetic form.  

More on that later…

The point of this post is that the idea - the thing I wanted to communicate and express - was enough for me to leapfrog one of my last remaining fears about sharing ‘me’ online.


Yes, I’ve always thought it was one step beyond, too difficult, too awkward, too personal, too embarrassing, too much of a leap.  

But I don’t tend to argue with my muse when she says ‘this is a really good idea’ so off I went.  I recorded a piece on the poetry project (which I’ll share in a little while), then thought I really ought to start by saying ‘hello’ to all of you here.

So here it is, my very first video of self on the web, and it doesn’t actually feel (all that) scary to share it ;-)

It’s prompted by the lines of a poem by Hafiz:

How did the rose ever open its heartand give to this world all its beauty?
It felt the encouragement of lightagainst its being.
Otherwise we all remain too frightened.

I think we all need to keep on sharing, and sharing more

Otherwise we all remain too frightened.

You can view the video here (if you’re reading via a feed, you might need to click through to view).  

Or We All Remain Too Frightened from Joanna Paterson on Vimeo.

There’s a subtitled version available here via Overstream.

PS Thanks to all of you who keep encouraging me to dig deeper, share more.

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  1. Emma Newman
    Twitter: emapocalyptic

    Oh WOW!

    It’s so wonderful to see you! Yes, I feel encouraged, and what a wonderful poem - so fitting to have the spring garden in the background and that glorious birdsong :)

    Video is my last block I think. First it was sharing my words, then sharing more of me, then my photo, then my voice, but video? (Goes and hides under internal duvet.)

    But you’re right. Since when should fear hold us back? You’re the light against my being…

  2. Julie Gibbons
    Twitter: JulieGibbons

    Such a wonderful video to watch first thing on another beautiful sunny spring day!

    Such a valuable connection felt in the heart and body as well as the mind when we see each other on video. Passing through deep layers of knowledge.

    Such a glorious sound track of birdsong, to boot.

    This makes up for not seeing you face to face more often :)

  3. Amy Palko says:

    Oh Joanna, I miss seeing you & speaking to you and this video just reminds me of that!

    I love the Hafiz poem that you’ve chosen to share here - really resonates. As someone who recently forayed into video I recognize that fright all too well.

    But you know, what? Video is really really affective and encourages connection and empathy in a really unique immediate way. It really is worth doing… I just need to work up the courage to record another one ;-)

    Anyway, I, for one, am very happy that you’re going to be sharing more videos!

    Much love

  4. Lea Woodward
    Twitter: leawoodward

    Ditto everything that Julie & Amy said.

    You have such gentle, encouraging way about you - which is what has always shone through here at Confident Writing and what I’ve always admired about your approach - it now shines through on video. Look forward to seeing more :)

  5. Van
    Twitter: vanwaffle

    Yesterday I was in a yarn store and the clerk was coaching someone who had brought in a problem with some knitting. The customer was afraid of ripping out the mistake, but also afraid of unknitting, which is safer but difficult and tedious. The clerk suggested she compare her fears and start by tackling the lesser of the two. In the end they decided to rip it out. This could be a useful tool in addressing indecision: realizing that we have different fears about different courses of action. Maybe this can give us more of a sense of control over the situation.

    Anyway, congratulations for taking this step. I can understand how it makes you uncomfortable, but you spoke well.

  6. Conor Ebbs
    Twitter: ebbstachio


    It’s great to see you. :)

    It encourages me to brush off the few videos I took recently. Perhaps reading a poem could be a start.

    Thank you.


  7. Indigo
    Twitter: sageraven

    I absolutely loved this. Thank you for including a subtitled version - loads of help in my deaf world.

    I think I’d like to do this sometime in the future. Most of my readers know that I’m deaf and my claims of still being able to talk eloquently despite my disability. I think it would definitely bring them into my world a little bit more.

    As for your performance - wonderful job. I love seeing you interact this way and look forward to future editions. (Hugs)Indigo

  8. Diana says:

    I loved watching your video! You (and your garden) are as lovely as I had imagined.

  9. Jan Scott Nelson
    Twitter: JanScottNelson

    Such a lovely video, Joanna. It took me straight back to Cambo last June!
    I think we’ve both found ways to dig deeper in the past 9 months. Some kind of gestation metaphor is called for perhaps!
    What you seem to have found are ways to give more of YOU whilst remaining very true to yourself. What you share encourages others to take steps which are brave and significant, exposing yet healing.
    Thank you :)
    PS I love the garden, and the birdsong!

  10. Janice Cartier
    Twitter: jancartier

    Very much spring there isn’t it? I can hear the birdsong as well. Your video is lovely. Took a bit of self talking and big gulps and here we go I’ll bet. I have never wanted to be front of house so to speak so I am not sure I will do video of myself. I have thought very much of doing video of a creative nature however, but that’s on the back burner behind a myriad of projects at the moment. It’s nice to see you though, so I may have to revisit my thoughts on this at some point. :)

  11. Alina Popescu
    Twitter: alina_popescu

    You look amazing, better feel of the new color on video. I know the deeper message of your video is more important, but right now I am just way to excited to be seeing you again :)

    Can’t wait to see more videos made by you!

  12. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    @Emma Newman: video is v scary, at least in the abstract, but it does offer the possibility of getting to know each other in a different, more personal way. And that can have most excellent results :-) I’m sure we’re going to be seeing lots more of you Em in one way or another… I am watching this space

    @Julie Gibbons: well, thanks for the encouragement and prompt to do it Julie. So glad you liked the birdsong too, they are an inspiration to me!

    @Amy Palko: I miss you too Amy and hope we can meet up soon. I loved your last video - it was a guest post somewhere - it was very short - I think that’s part of the trick, to let them be short, and not too forced, just a natural part of the conversation. I’m going to try and build up a practice of short pieces like this to stop fear creeping back into the gaps inbetween!

  13. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    @Lea Woodward: thanks Lea, and for all your encouragement to keep being more… me :-)

    @Van: good point about the different courses of action - unknitting certainly sounds tricky to me!

    @Conor Ebbs: reading a poem or two sounds like a great idea, though you will have songs and singing too… though of course that’s what poems are really, isn’t it?

  14. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    @Indigo: I’m glad you liked it Indigo. One of my concerns about video and audio is that people forget how excluding they can be so I think it’s important to include the subtitles too - overstream is a great free service for doing that. I’ll keep my eyes out for your videos too: I do read at your blog but can’t find a way to comment so you won’t know I’m there ;-)

    @Diana: thank you Diana, I’m so glad you liked my garden!

  15. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    @Jan Scott Nelson: I hope we get to meet up in person before too long, video isn’t quite the same! I like the words ‘exposing and healing’… it reminds of things I was learning about the power of poetry in my recent course, it allows space for us to bring air and light to things… within the structure of language and form, so they are exposed without feeling exposed… and allowing room for the possibility of healing.

    I’m glad you like the garden and birds, I felt much less exposed having them as my backdrop!

    @Janice Cartier: the odd thing was Jan that I just woke up that morning and knew I wanted to do it - because there was something I wanted to share and pass on, and that it would work best if you could hear and see me too. Fear didn’t really get a look in. If only it was always like that!

    I know what you mean about front of house, I suppose it’ll depend on where you want to take things… I would certainly love to see you painting some time ;-)

    @Alina Popescu: I just love this comment Alina… it reminds of so much that is good about social media, that we learn to get to know the *person* behind the words, including the colour of their hair. And there’s not much that’s more important than how a girl’s hair looks! ;-)