How to Cure a Hoarse Voice: a follow-up

My post, “How to Cure a Hoarse Voice,” is, by far, the most-viewed on my blog. I get lots of views and comments all the time, and I’m so glad the information has been helpful to people. It’s easy to share the information and say, “Just wait. Don’t talk.” But when it’s actually happening to you, when you’re actually unable to speak (or on the verge) it’s tough advice to take. In fact, I had to take that advice myself about a month ago. My hope in sharing this story with you is that, when you start seeing (hearing) red flags, you will recognize what is happening and know when to take it easy.

I have developed acid reflux over the years. I only get it if I’ve overeaten a few too many times in a certain period, and it does put me at risk for infection; when my throat gets raw like that, it’s easy for bacteria or a virus to sneak in and get me sick. I’d been feeling weird for days, and then my voice started getting weaker and weaker. This leads me to the main takeaway of this post:

When you feel your voice getting weak and you think something might be wrong, do not push it.

I was at my day job, and on break. I was obsessed with a certain Latino pop song and was doing a casual recording to see how my Spanish sounded. The artist is not Mariah Carey, but there are little vocal frills that add a certain amount of athleticism to the song. I thought that, by pushing through the texture, weakness, and the stuff in my throat, maybe I’d shake it off. How very wrong I was. No sooner did I get back from break that I found my voice was entirely gone. Literally, the most I could get out was a whisper–no vocal involvement whatsoever–and we all know how bad whispering is.

In fact, I have a recording of my voice failing, and these are the signs you want to look for. I pridelessly am sharing this with you. For comparison, I’ve made another very casual recording of my voice as it would have been that day, had I not been ill. It’s not perfect, either (I didn’t exactly warm up for this), but it gives you an idea of my normal, healthy voice (caution to you headphone-listeners):

Hear how my voice leaps from note to note in a facile way. There is little texture to it, and it sounds bright.

Now, compare that to the mud that follows. Follow along with my commentary:

0:00 Right off the bat, you can hear the texture of my failing voice, the weakness of my vocal chords, and also just how sick I sound. You can also hear that all the notes are falling pretty flat, despite how hard I’m trying (which only makes it worse, as you’ll later hear). Also, these “frills” and “athleticism” I mentioned are almost nonexistent because my voice just can’t do it.

:15 At this first leap in pitch, you will hear how much flatter and inaccurate the following notes become. The more whispery sound that follows and subsequent throat-clearing (shame on you, Morgan!) is my body’s natural response to try and protect my voice by manufacturing mucus. Why didn’t I listen?

:25: This is when my voice starts wavering and sounding like someone’s going crazy on the pitch modulator for a synthesizer. Listen how quickly this situation deteriorates.

1:03 My voice cracks after hammering that A note for so long. Sayonara.

Not long after this recording was made, my voice was entirely destroyed, and I didn’t get it back for almost exactly two weeks.

Did you get that? Two weeks.

Had I not ignored the signs, tried to push through, and ignored my body’s natural defenses, I may never have completely lost my voice. Certainly not for two weeks, at any rate. These are the times when we must remember to be patient, relax, and care for ourselves. Whether you’re a singer, actor, public speaker, or other admirable voice-centric profession, our voices are our livelihood. Without them, we cannot work.

On top of the physical damage, there are also considerable expenses that come up for us professionals: permanent damage not only limits our capabilities but also changes our sound. With my bright, young voice, my most marketable self if the bubbly retail-type. If my voice were suddenly to drop in pitch and gain texture, I’d have to completely rethink all of my marketing and record all new promotional demos. And then, in the more extreme cases, there is surgery for those who develop nodules and polyps. It is not cheap.

I would rather take two weeks off from using my voice than risk damaging it for the rest of my life and career. Sometimes, as I said in the original post, it really does take a while. And it’s always longer than we want. Describing how frustrating that experience was will have to wait for another day. I encourage you to think of the bigger picture the next time your voice is setting off alarm bells. The more you rest your voice early on, the sooner you will be on your way back to vocal acrobatics.


No, this isn’t about Justin Timberlake’s new single.

Have you ever noticed when you look in the mirror that you only see what’s “wrong” with what you see? Our internal dialogue says,

My face looks fatter

My jaw is weird

This part of my hair is doing that thing again

I look tired

I wish I looked more like So-and-So

We do facial gymnastics, practicing our smiles to be better, we pose, prod, and adjust our bodies so they’ll look more this way or that.

But have you ever thought of what it might do if, when you look in the mirror, you see what’s good?

My skin is vibrant

That zit I had is gone

My eyes are nice

I like the shape of my jaw

I look happier

Whatever it is, use the mirror as a way to recognize the good instead of check up on and exacerbate what you see as negative in yourself. It’s a looking glass. Not a problem finder.

On Being Pretty

I would like to speak completely openly about something right now, and I don’t feel it’s something a lot of women are comfortable talking about. I am here to talk to you about being pretty.

My history of body image has been less tumultuous than average, I’d say. In high school, I thought I was slightly heavier than I really was, but other than that, I haven’t had complaints, and I first began owning the thought that I’m beautiful around 2010 when I was in my early 20’s. I saw room for improvement, of course, but I still saw my reflection and thought, “I am a beautiful person, and I am comfortable with who I am.”

My dating life, for what it’s worth, has been nonexistent my whole life. That is not what this post is about. My point is that, whether I was putting off a vibe, or whether they just didn’t exist, I rarely had men or women expressing to me in whatever way that they were interested in me. I can think of exactly two people. Except for occasionally being honked at on the street.


Flash forward to my life in Los Angeles. I moved here in 2011, nearly two years ago. The life of an artist, in my experience, is always bringing new and unexpected opportunities. I got involved with a company of hair professionals in January of 2012. They cut my hair a few times, but it wasn’t until November of last year that they put a look on me that was drastically different. They dyed my hair light blonde, gave me purple tips, and slapped on some asymmetry. I love anything this team has ever done for me, but this look required something extra. I looked at myself and said, “I can’t just wear a t-shirt and jeans anymore.” I had a stylish cut, and I began to dress and make up myself stylishly, too. I wore makeup consistently for the first time in my life, and I learned to accessorize. It’s been a lot of fun exploring my feminine side. Most importantly, I do it for me and no one else. Dressing up is just one of the many art forms I enjoy.

But people started to notice.


Individuals at work began to treat me differently, and it makes me uncomfortable. I feel I get away with things in my department that my coworkers wouldn’t. I’m not talking about murder, here, but I do feel I get different treatment.

Total strangers started doing nice things for me: letting me park in a closer garage that’s only supposed to be for visitors instead of employees, for instance. People on the street, men, usually, stare at me now as I walk by. Many talk to me.


I know very well how I was treated when it was just for my personality. With my dull blonde hair and pretty but wholly unremarkable face, I knew exactly where I stood with people, and that is how I was raised. I am from the South/Midwest, and we are not raised to be superficial. We are raised to be wholesome individuals who contribute to society. The difference between how I was treated then and how I’m treated now are worlds apart. And it’s all because of how I look. It makes me extremely uncomfortable. And this is why I’ve decided to go back to how I was before.


I still like dressing up. I still like wearing some makeup most days. I will dress up when I like and dress how I like. But I do not want to represent the pretty people. It is not for me. When everything started happening effortlessly for me, I felt I lost something. I worried I’d lose my drive and passion and start relying on others doing things for me based on my looks. That is not how I want to earn my future. I want to earn it because I am a decent person, fun to be around, and a hard worker. I don’t want to be handed my life on a silver platter.

Here is a related post called, “On Being Ugly:”


I watched a recent vlogbrothers video today, and a “passage” really jumped out at me. I have seen John Green speak a few times in person, and he is a great speaker with a lot of brilliant ideas. These are truly words to live by.

“Don’t make stuff because you want to make money–it will never make you enough money–and don’t make stuff because you want to get famous because you will never feel famous enough. Make gifts for people and work hard on making those gifts in the hope that those people will notice and like the gifts. Maybe they will notice how hard you worked and maybe they won’t. If they don’t notice, I know it’s frustrating, but ultimately that doesn’t change anything because your responsibility is not to the people you’re making the gift for, but to the gift itself.