Create a Nourishing Habit of Singing

Bring more joy into your everyday life by making singing a habit. Here’s how.

I used to think that you need to have tons of self-discipline to learn to sing. So I pushed myself for years to learn, understand, practise, practise, practise…

Until, one day a teacher told me: “Nína, in a sense… practise less.”

What an eye-opener it was. When it comes to the voice – and so many other things in life – you can forget about forcing or pushing if you want nourishing results.
Just like you wouldn’t get anywhere by saying to your apple tree in the springtime: “Hello! Where are the apples?”

At the other end of the scale, there’s the mindset of “I’ll practise when I feel like it,” which will let your progress at snail-pace. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you’d like to help your voice evolve at a steady pace, there might be a better way.

So if hardcore discipline or practising based on how you feel that day are not sustainable, what’s the way to go?

Create a habit of singing. The great thing about a habit is that you only need enough self-discipline to create it. Once created, it becomes part of your daily routine.
It takes 30-60 days to create a habit, so when I create a new habit, I usually start with 30 days and then make a status. Keep it simple.

Here’s how to kickstart your new habit of singing:

  1. Make a wish
    What would you like to be able to sing? Write down your wish and start taking steps towards fulfilling it.
  2. How much time would you like to dedicate to singing?
    Be realistic – is 15 minutes a day doable? Or 20 minutes 3 times a week?
    There’s no right or wrong here, just make a plan that suits for your life right now and stick with it.
  3. When are you going to sing?
    Get specific on what time of day you’ll practise singing. Pencil in the practice in your calendar. It’s your time for yourself. It’s important.

No time for practise? Here’s the quick route that will still give you lots of singing joy: Learn a few songs by heart, and sing them while you do your daily activities.
Sing while you drive, sing while you wash-up.
Put your phone in a drawer and sing.

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell 2021
Photo by Silviu Cozma

Feel free to leave questions / comments.


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Affirmations for Singing

What you believe becomes your reality. In this blog, I’m inviting you to explore your beliefs about your voice – and giving you inspiration to create new nourishing thoughts that eventually lead to greater fulfillment in life.

We all receive a set of beliefs in childhood, and early programming is not questioned too often – we simply don’t know any better than to perceive these beliefs as the truth.

If you’ve been 100% positively supported about using your voice, great! However, if you’ve picked up remarks along the way that have caused you to think negatively about your singing abilities, now could be a good time for a tidy up!

My own story is that I’ve always been complimented for my musicality, singing in tune and having a large vocal range. My limiting belief was planted as I was more than once told by singing teachers that I would probably never have a big voice. It seemed to be a fact.

Fortunately, my passion for singing inspired me to search for meaningful ways to use my voice, and I was encouraged by my intuition to study singing in Iceland and Italy.
It was there – in a small Italian town on a hill – that singing teachers helped me discover that I’m a mezzosoprano, and not a high soprano. And that I indeed have a big voice.

I’m deeply grateful for my discovery, and equally excited when I’m helping singing students release what’s blocking their voices and start embodying their full potential.

Some of the limiting beliefs I’ve come across when I talk to people about singing are:
Singing doesn’t come naturally to me
I wish I could sing (others may have that gift, but I don’t)
I don’t sing with others, because I’m afraid to sing out of tune
I can’t sing

Have a look at your beliefs. Do you have a good relationship with your voice? What thoughts and feelings come up?
What were your surroundings telling you about your voice as you were growing up?
Can you think of more nourishing thoughts today that will encourage you to sing?

Whatever your story is, know that negative beliefs are rarely true. Anyone can learn how to sing, just like anyone can learn to dance or draw.

I hereby encourage you to give it a go. You want to sing, otherwise you wouldn’t have found me. Affirmations are all about clearing the the road blocks and replacing them with nourishing thoughts that create a fresh path – and a new reality. 

Clearing your old beliefs gives you space to take action – maybe you want to start taking singing lessons, maybe you will discover new songs that you really enjoy singing… Look out for the signs and go for it.

See if some of the affirmations below resonate with you or make your own (simply change your negative belief with a positive affirmation e.g. I can’t sing becomes I can sing).
Say the affirmation out loud every day, write it down in your diary or be bold and hang it on your wall, whisper it, think it, sing it… be creative!

I have a pleasant voice
I am free to sing what I like
I take good care of my voice
I communicate kindly and clearly
There are countless opportunities to sing in my everyday life
I sing with ease
I honour my voice
Singing is a natural way to express myself
I am grateful for my voice
I enjoy discovering new qualities in my voice
I sing because I love to sing
I bring joy around me when I sing
I’m healing when I sing
I sing with all of me
I feel safe singing with my natural voice
I love my voice

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell 2020
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom

Feel free to leave questions / comments.


You’re welcome to receive the monthly Singing Naturally newsletter with tips on singing plus early bird discounts on singing courses.

When you sign up, you’ll also receive the free mini-guide 5 Easy Ways to Nourish Your Voice.

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Learning to Accept Your Voice

In this blog, I’m exploring why so many of us find it awkward to hear a recording of our own voice. There are good reasons why it’s uncomfortable; it all has to do with sound vibrations and acceptance.

I used to dislike listening to a recording of my voice. I found it quite awkward, the feeling of wanting to just… hide a bit. Do you know that feeling?

If you do, you’re not the only one. Scientific studies have shown that a lot of people don’t like to hear a recording of their own voice because we hear our own voice differently to what it sounds like to other people.

When we listen to somebody else speaking, the sound waves make our ear drum and inner ear vibrate. These vibrations are converted into sounds in the brain.

But when we listen to our own voices, vibrations from deep in our own bodies, from our vocal chords and airways are present too. And all of that actually makes our own voices sound lower and more full to our own ears.
In other words, you are listening to the richest version of your voice!

That’s the physical side of things. But I think there’s more to it than that. I think it has everything to do with honouring our inner voice and appreciating the amazing channel of communication that the voice is.

It has to do with fully accepting ourselves.

And with that also comes getting over what we think other people think about us.
I got over it. Listening to many of my recorded singing lessons from my study time in Italy, the goal was to get wiser, not to judge how I sounded.

If you find it difficult to move towards an acceptance of “okay, I sound like that”, maybe your voice holds a lot more potential than you’re allowing it to unfold.

Inner and outer circumstances like your life situation, feelings and your view on yourself all affect the voice.

Some people feel anxious or stressed out. Some have a need to make themselves appear smaller than they really are. The result is a shaky, hard or small voice.

It’s time to think big! Not for anyone else’s sake. Just for you.
When you grow, the world grows.
Align your voice with yourself.
Get help if you need to, and know that everything is possible.

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell 2020
© Photo by Jan Valle

Feel free to leave questions / comments.

You’re welcome to receive the monthly Singing Naturally newsletter with tips on singing plus early bird discounts on singing courses.

When you sign up, you’ll also receive the free mini-guide 5 Easy Ways to Nourish Your Voice.

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Discovering Your Sound

Sound is an incredibly exciting area when it comes to singing. Especially these days where so many people think about how they sound, instead of honouring their authentic voices.
In this blog, I share the simple truth behind the concept of sound.

When you sing or speak, your vocal chords vibrate, your body resonates and voila, there is sound. What kind of sound you make depends on your body type (how your body is built) and how you’re using your voice, e. g. how much you’ve trained your voice and equally important, how you’ve trained your voice. That’s the physical side of things.

The mindset is another matter, and a big problem occurs when we try to imitate other people or get stuck in how a certain genre needs to sound; the unique and authentic voice goes out the window.
I’ll give you an example: Lots of pop singers today seem to think that you need to sound in a certain way to make it. The same goes for classical singers; a lot of them adapt an “opera sound” that has very little to do with what is the point of opera.
The end result is that a lot of the singers out there sound the same.

This approach then feeds into choirs and – worst of all – children, who are too often trained to sound in a certain way, or who think they need to imitate imitating singers…

Let’s get to the good news: Sound is the last thing you need to worry about. You actually don’t need to worry about it at all, because it’s for people who listen to you to figure out wheather they enjoy your singing or not.

All you need to focus on is your expression. Go for expression, not sound, and you’ll stay more authentic and grounded.

Please take a moment to consider it. Sound is driven by our ego. Expression is what matters. Stay strong and stay with your voice. It’s beautiful, I know. How? Because I’ve never come across anything less than a lovely voice as a voice teacher. I work with the core of the voice, and it’s always beautiful.

When your voice is in balance, you can communicate easily in an authentic way. It will also sound good, but that’s just a bonus. And what is more, the way you sound will change.

It’s quite wonderful that the core of your voice will stay the same, but the sound will evolve and grow as you grow.

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell 2021
Photo by Jean Balzan

Feel free to leave questions / comments.

You’re welcome to receive the monthly Singing Naturally newsletter with tips on singing plus early bird discounts on singing courses.

When you sign up, you’ll also receive the free mini-guide 5 Easy Ways to Nourish Your Voice.

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Your Voice is Unique

Your voice is like a fingerprint: Unique. So how do you know what you sound like? Get some tips in this blog.

It’s easy enough to sound like someone else when you sing. Humans have, like birds, an amazing ability to imitate sounds.
But what really fascinates me is when people sing like themselves. That’s what I love about being a voice teacher; when I help a student discover the core of his/her voice. It’s authentic, true and real. And incredibly beautiful.

That’s where the quality lies.

Maybe it sounds like certain genres have a certain sound. That generally speaking, pop singers sound in a certain way and opera singers sound in another way.

Opera singing doesn’t actually have a particular sound. It’s just that most opera music calls for a greater depth in words and emotions. So it’s completely up to the singer’s musical interpretation what he/she does with the colours of a music piece. That aspect of singing comes from within and doesn’t have anything to do with sounding in a certain way.

Thankfully, there are and have been plenty of good singers out there who sound like themselves! They are the ones whose voices you recognise immediately. Their authenticity travels beyond time, countries and cultures.
All you need to do is close your eyes and have a listen to Pavarotti’s Che gelida manina or Billie Holiday’s I’ll be seeing you – and they bring you right into the message of the song.

Now it’s your turn to sing like only you can! It takes practise and above all courage, but it’s an incredibly rewarding process.

6 ways to know you’re true to your voice:

  1. You sing like you speak.
    There is a clear connection between your speaking voice and your singing voice.
    In other words, you can recognise your speaking voice when you sing.
  2. Your words are clear.
    It’s easy for listeners to understand the words you sing. You’re focusing on communicating the song’s message – not the sound of your voice.
  3. Singing feels good.
    It feels effortless in the throat when you sing, and you don’t get hoarse or sore when you use your voice.
  4. All tones are free.
    Wheather you sing high or low tones, they are all free and easy. Your voice is consistent and it’s not breaking.
  5. Singing is easy.
    You’re keeping it simple and letting your body do the work it needs to do to support your voice. Singing is physical, and it should always be easy.
  6. You’re listening to your body.
    You’re gently easing your voice into singing and respecting what your voice is ready for on the day.

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell 2020
© Photo by Lum3n

Feel free to leave questions / comments.

You’re welcome to receive the monthly Singing Naturally newsletter with tips on singing plus early bird discounts for singing courses.

When you sign up, you’ll also receive the free mini-guide 5 Easy Ways to Nourish Your Voice.

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Use Singing to Soothe Anxiety

With so much going on in the world these months, no wonder that some of us feel a bit anxious at times. Here’s how to use your voice to shift from a state of worry, anxiety or fear to feeling calm and content.

When old fears make a come-back

So there I was. Leaving Ireland in a storm on a turbulent airplane. My three year-old son – who was well used to travelling – got scared. He was afraid that the airplane would fall down. My old fear of flying popped up again, and while I calmed down my son, my heart was beating fast. “Airplanes are just like birds,” I explained. “They don’t fall down.”
Off he went to sleep, and I had a moment to reconnect and calm my whole system down…

At that moment, I learned something interesting that deepened my understanding of singing and the power it holds.

Here’s the gold: When you inhale, you give energy to your body. When you exhale, you relax your body. That means that you can relax your body and mind by exhaling slowly.
And that’s exactly what you do when you sing.

The starting point

The first key to effectively deal with your emotions and empower yourself is to understand your starting point.
How is your state of mind?
Are you feeling anxious, sad, energetic, creative, at peace, content or happy?
Perhaps you’ve been on alert mode for too long or maybe you’ve been doing for a long time, and now you need a break from all the action.
Either way, it’s vital for feeling well and happy that you give yourself some time to just be. When you tap into the state of being, feeling whole, content and connected with other people will come naturally.
Being means that you are connected to your heart, and thus fear, anxiety and other negative emotions naturally fall away.

Sing yourself calm

Now back to the airplane, the anxiety and the singing!
As soon as I got a moment, I started breathing in more slowly and exhaling slowly. The only issue was that it just took the worst out of the situation, but it didn’t make me much calmer. So I started humming.
And at that moment it dawned on me that singing is the most brilliant tool in the world when it comes to feeling good because you work with the exhalation.
Singing simply calms down the whole body and gets the endorphins going.

I sat there singing a couple of my favorite Vaccai exercises and within about 5 minutes, my anxiety had gone down from 8 to 2 – to disappear altogether.
It is superior to anything I’ve tried before, because the tone vibration is good for the body and the fact that you’re singing a melody gets the mind to focus and come back on track. Back to the now.

I highly encourage you to try singing the next time you feel worried or anxious and see for yourself what a difference it makes.

Exercises for calming down

  • Breathe in while you count (to any number that feels comfortable)
    Breathe out while you count (to any number that feels comfortable)
    Lengthen your breath a bit, especially the exhalation.
    If it feels right for you, imagine that you are inhaling and exhaling golden white light.
    Continue breathing like this for about 5 minutes, and see if you notice any difference.
  • Breathe as you would normally, or if you’re anxious, start from where you are.
    Start humming. Don’t think about breathing in, your body will take care of that automatically.
    You can hum any song that comes to your mind, but if you experience anxiety in particular situations (e. g. in a waiting room or on an airplane), you can have a couple of songs ready to go. You may need to search for some music that speaks to your heart.
    Keep humming until you feel calm and settled.
  • If you’re looking for zen, sit down in an undisturbed place and do the tone meditation

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell 2020
© Photo by Ben Cheung

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Your Voice Mirrors Your Emotions

Your voice reveals how you feel. It’s a pure reflection of your emotional state, and working with your voice can help you transform old luggage and lift your spirit.

Your voice communicates your emotions

You already know this. The moment you connect to a close friend by phone, you have an idea of his/her state of mind. Is she happy, content, worried, tired…? It’s all revealed in a split second in the voice.

Your voice connects your inner world with the outer world; it’s your channel of communication. That becomes very interesting when you start noticing how you’re using your voice. How do you speak? Is your voice hard or soft, does it have depth and lightness? Notice the subtle changes in your voice from day to day and even within the day. All depending on your mood and energy levels.

You can then begin to make small changes that will lead to good voice habits. If your voice is quite hard or high pitched, it could be beneficial to soften it. It goes both ways; if you can find a way to mellow, your voice will follow suit.

Use your voice to lift your spirit

I believe that working with your voice can change your life. It has certainly changed mine. You see, your voice will allow you to reconnect with your emotional state in a very pure way. When you become aware of how you truly feel, you can start working with your emotions. And from there, you can start lifting your spirit.

The thing is that no matter where you are on the “mood scale”, you can use your voice to make life lighter. If you’re working through heavier things, singing is an amazing tool for transformation.

Here are a few ways you can use your voice to grow:
  • If you’re feeling quite up and down (depending on what’s going on around you), use your voice as an anchor to ground you.
    Work in the lower area of your voice close to your speaking voice. You can sing or read a poem aloud… allow yourself to be creative and use your voice as it makes sense in the moment.
  • When feeling low, you can give yourself the gift of a song. That way, you’re letting yourself be with your feelings (instead of running away from them), and though it can seem like a painful place to go sometimes, this is also where magic happens.
    As the expression goes: Short term pain, long term gain.
    Being with your emotions can lead to acceptance, and acceptance can lead to transformation.
    Once your emotions/feelings/luggage is transformed, your consciousness grows. You evolve.
  • If you feel stressed out, your voice can get hard and high pitched. It’s hard on the voice and hard on the body to be in the red zone. See if you can stop your activities (no matter how important they may seem; there’s always more stuff that needs to be done), breathe a bit and hum your favourite song.
    Start by singing tiny tones and then sing with a bit more volume when you feel more calm. That way, you’ll allow your voice to naturally balance itself.
    Good news: It’s not possible to feel stressed out and sing at the same time.
  • Too overwhelmed to sing? That’s ok. Just breathe. And you can release a lot even by listening to good singers.
    Luciano Pavarotti is a good example of a singer who sings with a balanced voice and expresses emotions freely.
  • It’s also absolutely magical to sing when you are ecstatic with joy. Maybe something amazing happened in your life, maybe you’re in love, or maybe you’re completely high from singing! Enjoy this part of life and celebrate with a song that you love.

Your voice is full of “colours” that are unique to you, and everything that you ever needed to express yourself freely is already there.

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell 2020
© Photo by Sean O’Farrell

Feel free to leave questions / comments.

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Know Your Voice Type

It makes all the difference to know your voice type, both when you sing and speak. When you respect the acoustics of your body, your voice will feel at home.

Your voice is an instrument

Everytime you speak or sing, you are using an instrument, the voice. It’s unique to each person with different vibrations and “colours”, but overall the voice types fall into just three categories each for men and women.

Even if you don’t sing at all, knowing your voice type and working with it can be essential to making the most of your speaking voice. If you speak in a way that fully respects the acoustics of your body (I’ll tell you how in a moment!), your expression can be fully authentic – because you speak like you.

The three voice types

To understand the three voice types better, think of a violin, a cello and a contrabass.
The violin has strings on a small wooden box, and when you play the strings with a bow, the sound will be high pitched. The cello, having a larger box, will have a lower resonating sound, and the bass, being larger still, will sound low.
The voice is exactly the same.

Sopranos (f) and tenors (m) are the highest voices, mezzosopranos (f) and barytones (m) are the medium voices and contraltos (f) and basses (m) are the lowest voice types.
This is all because the sound of your voice will resonate according to how your body is built.

Imagine a violin sounding like a low bass. Or the other way around. It’s not good…! Not only because it’s hard work – and maybe even physically impossible – but because it’s not considering the acoustics of the instrument.

What’s your voice type?

The first clue to find out what voice type you have could be to see what kind of instruments you are attracted to. Are they low or high or somewhere in between? High pitched guitar or low bass? It can be within all kinds of music.
I have for example always had a strong connection with the cello, which is not strange as I’m a mezzosoprano!

You can also take a look at your body frame (when I say “frame”, it’s because we’re not regarding what sits on your frame here!) Is it slim, medium or compact?
I often see violin players who have slim wrists, which means they are sopranos playing a soprano instrument. What a beautiful connection!

Wheather you sing or not, you can start noticing how you use your voice. Where do you feel most comfortable speaking or singing? High or low or somewhere in between? Notice where your voice feels at home. And most importantly, honour your voice and the signals you are getting. If your voice gets tired when you’re speaking or singing, some adjustments are needed to maintain a healthy voice. A good voice teacher can help you with that.

Happy Singing – and speaking!

© Nína O’Farrell 2020
Photo by Simon Leonardo

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Your Voice Is a Gift

Singing is something we can all do at any time. It’s an amazing way to reconnect with ourselves, lift our vibration level and create waves of joy in and around us.

Cultivate your voice

We’re all carrying around this great instrument that’s just waiting to be of service.

The voice is the first instrument that ever existed, and it’s nice to think that our ancestors used their voices in their lives, their cultures. As a way of expressing, entertaining and tapping into something that goes far beyond time…

The good news is that to get started singing or to cultivate your voice, you don’t need any special qualities or lots of volume. You just need you!

A great way to start singing is to use your voice in everyday activities; washing the dishes becomes more fun when you sing one of your favourite songs.
Just look at how good children are at singing in all kinds of situations, and you’ll find plenty of inspiration there!

Singing is natural

The more you sing, the more natural it will feel. And the benefits of singing are many. It’s impossible to feel stressed out when you are singing; it creates an instant feeling of well-being and it’s an amazing way to reconnect with yourself.
When you are true to yourself – and your voice – you can express yourself authentically. What a powerful way to grow.

Singing can be like taking an inner shower, filling your body with tone vibrations that simply make you feel good.

So where do you begin? There’s great quality in keeping it simple when you sing. In fact, singing starts with the core of your voice, the tiniest tones, and from there you can do anything. Here’s an exercise to help you on your way:

Exercise: Tone meditation

Sit comfortably and take a few minutes noticing how you breathe. Just observe your breathing, there’s no need to change it.

As you tune into your body, relaxing more, your breathing might slow down. Let your body be heavy, relax your shoulders. There is nothing to carry right now. Relax your neck. Nothing to control. Just breathe.

Whenever you are ready, you can start humming tiny tones at the end of exhaling. Just like waves; breathe in, let go, and hum a tone as an extension of exhaling. Breathe in again, breathe out and hum a new tone. Continue like that.
The point is to follow your body’s breathing rhythm and add tones at the end of exhaling.
Let your focus be on making the tones as tiny as possible. It’s like threading a tiny needle.

The tones can be completely random – see if you can let go of any idea of a melody and if it feels comfortable you can include tones from all areas of your voice; high tones, middle tones and low tones.

This is the core of your voice.

Finish your meditation by taking a deep breath in and let go. One more deep breath in and let go. And one more deep breath in and let go.

Your voice is a gift. I encourage you to use it ♡

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell, 2020
Photo: Emiliano Arano

Feel free to leave questions / comments

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Singing Is Healing

Let singing be part of your everyday life and enjoy benefits such as well-being, inner peace and joy.

Transform your life

I started working with my voice almost 20 years ago. Yet, I’m still amazed how singing has an ability to transform. It can change your mood and instantly lift the vibrational level – starting with the small things that happen in everyday life, and the many small things then become part of the bigger picture that you shape your life with. And your life gets better. You grow.

Singing is also a profound way of healing the wounds that we all carry. Things that we’ve experienced, people that have hurt us, and the times when we’ve hurt other people. We can express this pain through singing, be with it, accept it and let it go.

That’s where empowerment begins. We stop being victims of our lives, and become captains on our own ships. Singing and empowerment are so closely linked together, because there is a direct link between our voices and our souls.

The good life

Our emotions and state of mind go up and down, it’s all part of being human. Life can be bussy some times. That’s okay. But if you find yourself getting worked up because there’s too much going on around you, it’s time for a break. Feeling stressed – as many people do these years – equals a low life quality.

What is success really? For me, it’s living the life that you want. To dream big and take small steps towards your dream but most of all to enjoy everyday life.

If you are overly bussy, singing can bring you back to centre, back to the place where you feel in balance. It’s impossible to feel stressed out when you sing.
You’ll give youself the strength to move on from where you are and make the changes in your life that need to be done. Weather it is to take full responsibility for your situation and enjoy the ride or to change your path.

Bring singing into your everyday life

So how can you use singing in your everyday life? Back to the small things, the small steps. I’ll give you some examples for inspiration:

  • Begin the day with a song. It will give you a good start of the day.
  • Bring a blanket into the garden (if you don’t have a garden, find a nice place in your home) and treat yourself to some singing. If you know some songs by heart, great, otherwise print out some songs that you really like and enjoy yourself.
  • If you live close to nature, get out there and sing. It doesn’t have to be anything big, even a bit of humming will create well-being in and around you.
  • If you feel worried or anxious, let your voice assist you to get back on track. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable sitting down and singing, but you can easily bring it into your daily activities by humming while you do the laundry or singing while you do the dishes. Bringing your home into order and singing is a great combination.
  • If you have or know any children, sing with them. There’s so much joy in that.

Here’s my idea for you: Sing every day for the next week, and see what a change it makes in your life. Sing alone, sing together, sing when you’re happy, sing when you’re sad. You will lift yourself up, and if any part of you needs space to heal, you’ll know. Celebrate with singing.

And when you do sing, see if you can just be happy with your voice and not worry about what it sounds like. The point is that you express yourself freely, and critisism is not needed in that process.
Bye bye, judgement.

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell 2020
Photo by Pixabay

Feel free to leave questions / comments.