I (Kim) was recently given the wonderful opportunity to be part of a Generation Women Australia event to elevate the powerful stories of women, it’s a brilliant concept, taking six generations of women and one theme, with ten minutes to share your insights. Our theme was ‘Finding my Voice’ and to follow is the (sort of) transcript. Generation Women now Livestream their events, so if you are looking for some life inspiration we highly recommend their platform.
August 27th The Beresford Hotel. Sydney.
(Holding my throat before going on stage!)
I am the co-founder of The Possibility Project, we are a social enterprise with a purpose to encourage ordinary people to find their voice and speak up for planetary and social justice, particularly through their consumer choices. We get people to think about ‘who made my clothes’ and how is value shared in supply chains. We attempt to open up important conversations around equity, income sharing, sustainability and re-thinking choices for a fairer world. Raising the collective voice is a passion of mine, but finding my own voice continues to power the path.
For many of us, we may not be able to pinpoint the ‘finding’ of our voice, but if you're in your 50’s, there’s a good chance you might have lost it somewhere in your childhood.
(Kim, John, Mark, David and Mum)
I have no doubt as to why I chose to come to Earth as the youngest child in a very strong, male dominated family, with three older brothers. I always knew I had things to say, and I wanted to say, but I rarely felt that my voice held value, and if I did speak, it was unlikely to be listened to. We were afraid to speak, especially ‘differently’ - even the slightest accent that wasn't ‘Australian’ could be brutally punished in the playground.
Maybe that’s why I chose to be a high school teacher, the students had to listen! People often assume that teachers find it effortless to use their voice, and that public speaking is a comfortable skill, but that’s not true, it’s like assuming all comedians have funny, happy lives. The reason why I could speak easily in the classroom is because I was speaking someone else’s curriculum, it is not hard to copy other people’s voices, in truth, that’s what most people do their whole life, we speak other people’s ideas, beliefs, structures, systems, wishes, desires, hopes and dreams - so we can fit in and belong. When teaching economics, they were not my words. Finding one’s voice often means leaving a part of self (which is not truthfully you) and taking a different path.
A key to finding my voice was accepting that the assumptions on which I was speaking, no longer held value to me. It’s a gradual process, re-evaluating things can take lifetimes, with me it has. I was teaching someone else laws and curriculum and teaching statements that were not true to me. I have parented four beautiful children, but the subject I taught does not include parental contribution or worth in the way it measures societal value through Gross Domestic Product. Economics is based on a law of scarcity, it states all resources are limited. It is a subject that politicians use to address our problems, yet no where does it account for the infinite, renewable value of the human spirit to solve our problems. I had 20 spirited students in a class, and the most valuable thing about them would never be recognised by the subject I spoke on. Economics didn't have a language for the things that I valued. Life's costs and benefits were reduced to dollar amounts, for example, it didn't value land for its sacredness, rather it valued it for how easily it could be exploited (like so many in the fashion industry) - so I had to quiet that voice.
Having two boys and two girls, it becomes very apparent when boys voices change ‘overnight’, I think women’s voices, like women themselves, play more for the long game and their words can get richer in wisdom with all of life's changes. I think one of the most challenging tests for me of finding and using my voice was two years ago when I had both the privilege and deeply painful task of writing and delivering my brother’s eulogy. Even though I was the youngest sister in a very male household, I do believe my wise voice was greatly needed.
My brother Mark was larger than life, he was the family comedian, but his life (at the end) was not funny, we will never know what time he even died, as he was alone. Although expert opinion might say he died of alcoholism or addiction, I say he died of amnesia. In systems that deny the power of the creative spirit, or the value of our imaginative capacity as human beings to solve problems, it was so easy for Mark to forget his self-worth and fill that void with something else.
I use two profoundly simple practises for finding my voice and using it, its prayer and meditation. Prayer is simply asking the universe for guidance and meditation is becoming silent or still to receive the answer. Last week I was conflicted as to whether I had the right to include Mark in this story, after all, he is no longer here. So I put it out there in prayer (that space economists CANNOT value). The very next morning I got a random phone call from an unrecognisable number - on the other end was a lovely voice, I couldn't place it but I knew it, this man was asking “is the funeral going to go ahead, how many people etc’, I had to stop him and say - “sorry, this is Kim Pearce, I think you have the wrong number”, he paused, then said - “Well hello Kim, I still remember your beautiful brother, (it was the compassionate priest that held my brother’s funeral service), I still have his service book next to me and pass it out if someone doesn't know what to say at a funeral”.
Well…he certainly didn't have the wrong number - and I had my answer.
Finding my voice has been an essential movement of going within, to that voice inside, that voice that we are born with. Our inner voice can be ‘mis-taken’ by parents and siblings, our education, our jobs, our roles, our culture and even by our own unconscious selves. If you have a desire to find and use your true voice, try prayer and meditation. You have nothing more to lose.
We welcome everyone to our meditation sessions, for more information check out our times here.