I woke up early this morning because I had a deadline to send this monthly guest post to Kind Over Matter. I put on my favorite orange, white and green striped hat – the one that makes me feel a little like “Where’s Waldo” – and headed out in the still-dark morning to open up my studio which is in the backyard of our home.
Typically, days – or even a week – before the article is due, an idea will drop in for what I want to write about. It didn’t this time. Even now, hours before the deadline, there’s…crickets.
I turned on the lights, set my coffee cup down on the side table and turned on the computer.
And then, in either a moment of brilliance or procrastination, I was moved to leave an audio note for a brand-new friend (whom I met on the airplane last Christmas on a flight from Pittsburgh, PA to San Francisco.) Yesterday I had stumbled across a poem my friend Maya Stein had written called “Strangers” which is about the beautiful connections that are possible when we open our hearts and doors to one another.
I turned on the recording app on my phone and read that poem – using it as a diving board to launch into a few minutes of appreciation for my new friend and her openness. I told her how grateful I am for her easy laugh, her curiosity, her abundance of fascinating stories and her creativity. Then I added a colorful blue butterfly emoji and hit send, sailing that voice note off into Lea’s inbox.
I checked my email to make sure it sent okay. When I did, I noticed a bright subject line in my inbox, “Re: Shine On, Suzy Star” with an emoji of a golden star. I couldn’t resist. I clicked to open it. I knew it was a response to an audio note I had sent my friend for her birthday yesterday.
In my audio note to her I had listed some of the things I love the most about her – her bright energy, her eagerness to cheer others on, her intuitive nature, her physical beauty, her way of connecting people and more. I ended with a poem about giving ourselves an ovation, something I said she deserved!
In the email I just opened my friend told me she’d had a hard day yesterday. Haven’t we all been there on our birthdays? I know I have. It can be so hard to long to feel a little special and maybe people don’t show up the way we’d hoped. Or maybe we judge ourselves more harshly on our birthdays.
I know birthdays always were weird for me until I started my birthday Kindness Project. That changed everything for me.
But I digress! The point is, my dear friend had had a hard time and was feeling kinda shlumpy on her birthday. She told me how much my audio note meant to her; that what she’d been feeling was a lack of affirmation or appreciation and my note landed at just the right time. She was so grateful for my words of love and said she’d listen to them over and again.
When I read her email, after having just sent off the latest audio note today, I was struck with an idea: Why not tell YOU all about the magic of audio notes?
Thus, while it had felt like I was procrastinating and not doing what I “should” by making an audio note and reading an email “thank you” about an audio note, the truth is, it was the brilliance of life helping me out!
I think I was meant to tell you about them because sending an audio note is one of the easiest gifts you can give someone. It is so personal and loving; yet it takes just minutes to do – and all you need is your phone!
Add audio notes to the repertoire of loving things you do!
I have a book coming out later this month called “Say it Now: 33 Creative Ways to Say I Love You to the Most Important People in Your Life.” I want to share with you a little of what I wrote in the book about creating and sending audio notes so you can start doing it yourself. Now!
A quick, easy, and very meaningful gift is to record a personalized audio message and send it via email. There’s something extra wonderful about opening an email and being surprised to see an audio note inside. It’s so unexpected! It feels secret and special. I think it harkens back to tape-recorded messages, like in Mission Impossible!
You may be wondering, what makes this different than leaving a message for someone in their voice mail? Well, first of all, if you telephone them, they may pick up the phone. And sure, you could chat on the phone (that’s always nice) but you might feel a bit tongue-tied and you might not say exactly what you mean to say. But if you record a message in advance, then you can really take your time, be intentional, and choose the right words to say. You can pause it, gather your thoughts, and then continue. Or, you can delete the dang thing and start anew any time you want. There is a freedom in creating it and having the ability to restart if necessary! Plus, your recipient will be able to listen to your recorded audio message over and over again, as opposed to a phone conversation that happens just once!
That’s my friend, Susan, in the photo accompanying this article. She and I send each other loving audio messages all the time. I’ve saved all the ones she has sent me so I can listen over and over to her enthusiastic and joyful voice.
How Do You Record an Audio Message?
If you have a smartphone, it’s likely that you already have an app called “Voice Memos” or “Voice Recorder.” Most phones come with this app and it makes it very simple to record a voice message. You can also use a free website like Vocaroo.com, which makes it so easy to record audio online. Just visit the site, hit the big red Record button, and away you go! Hit Stop when you’re finished and then you can email the audio to whomever you want. You can also download a copy of the file for yourself.
What Do You Say?!
Anything you want! Perhaps you want to appreciate your friend for a specific attribute about her, or something she did. Your audio message could go something like this…
“Suzy, I want to tell you how much I love and appreciate the way you always reach out to people in need. I know that you organized all the dinners for the Martin Family after their dad passed away. You spent so much of your own time last week taking their children to the Zoo and to the park and helping the family survive the tragedy. But, Suzy, it isn’t just what you did, but also who you are. It is that you are the kind of person who cares so deeply. Your heart is so big and always open to everyone around you, friends, strangers, furry creatures. I want to read you a quote that always reminds me of you…and I hope you’ll listen to this audio anytime you doubt how much you matter. Because you make a huge difference in the world.”
Perhaps your gift recipient lives far away. Perhaps they’re working or studying overseas for a while. You could record an audio message to say, “I’m thinking about you and I miss you!” Or, if you’re with a group of mutual friends or family members, you could do a group message and say, “We all miss you!”
For instance, I have a group of three close writer friends: Maya, Laurie, and Kirsten. Maya moved from California to New Jersey a few years back. Sometimes when Laurie, Kirsten, and I are together, we turn on the audio recorder and let Maya know that we are all together and we are missing her. We might tell her some snippets of stories. We might tell her what we miss about her. We’ll tell her what food we are eating, what we’re writing about, what we imagine she is doing at that moment. Maya always loves receiving these group-notes from her friends back home.
I like to end all of my audio notes with a poem that feels appropriate for the person on the other end. I think poetry can be like a mini-vacation for your mind. It gives the person a chance to close their eyes and let the words waft over them. Also, sometimes poets can more aptly say what I’m feeling so I can borrow their words to express myself.
What Else Can You Record?
You can laugh, play the piano, share your favorite new song, sing a song, recite a passage from the book you’re reading, have the dog bark hello, list 10 reasons why your gift recipient is so awesome, describe what you’re looking at (the view outside your window right now, your kitchen, a photo), invite the barista or waiter nearby to say hello, ask the stranger walking by to say a few words, record the street musician playing the accordion, anything you want!
Making an audio recording is quick and easy. Even if you record something very brief, just a 3-second message to say “I miss you and I love you!” it’s such a delight to receive!
Will you try it? I hope so! If you do, email me and let me know how it goes, okay?
NOTE: Look for our giveaway of Sherry’s book “Say it Now: 33 Creative Ways to Say I Love You to the Most Important People in Your Life” on April 25th, 2019.