Vocal ID: Donate Your Voice

Just after I first arrived in Korea, I was listening to NPR TED Radio Hour when I heard Rupal Patel being interviewed about her big new idea for synthetic voices. I was so inspired by the story, and I remember tearing up when I heard some of the voices that were created for people with speech disorders. The new technology blends together the speech sounds of a person who is unable to speak with sounds from a voice donor and creates a brand new, unique computerized voice for the individual. Until recently, many people with speech disorders communicated using the same voice – regardless of whether they were old or young, male or female. This idea, while simple, strikes me as so incredibly powerful. Yes, of course, it makes a difference. Imagine only being able to communicate in a voice that doesn’t sound anything like you – I know it would make a difference to me to be able to use a voice that I could recognize as my own.

Ever since I heard the story, I was inspired to help out. I checked on the website every few weeks or so, and signed up for the mailing list to hear news. The people behind this initiative have been working very hard to create a platform for regular people to donate speech sounds from their homes instead of needing to visit a recording studio. I can understand why a project of this scale has taken so long to actualize, and I was just excited for the day it would be ready.

I never did get an email with news, but yesterday when I went on the website, I was finally able to set up an account and start recording in their Beta mode. You can learn more about the voicebank here, and if you are interested you can sign up for an account yourself. They need about 3-4 hours of speech total to create a collection of several voice sounds that they’ll be able to blend with other sounds to make a brand new voice. In case you’d be concerned: the resulting voice wouldn’t be recognizable as your own.

I’ve done a couple sessions so far and while it’s a slow process, I’m enjoying it and happy to be contributing in this small way. I encourage you to check out the website and see what you think!

Happy Monday.

September Faves + Wishlist

Wishlist September

1. Teeki Stardust Pants  2. Not That Kind of Girl  3. Vinyasa Scarf  4. Cold Cup  5. Moisturizer SPF 25  6. Busan Fireworks Mug  7. Nike Free Fits  8. Mayari Sandals  9. Tote

In addition to my Lately posts, which tend to talk about the ideas and rituals I’ve been into throughout the month, I thought it might be fun to show you the things I’ve been loving each month, as well as some of the things on my wishlist.

That cold cup has been my absolute fave at work lately, when I have my small daily iced coffee. It also works great for sipping water consistently! The mug was a Starbucks local special edition to commemorate the upcoming 2014 Fireworks Festival, and I bought it as a gift to myself after I started drinking hot lemon water every night but only had tiny mugs I’d have to fill up almost 3 times to be happy. I started using moisturizer with sunscreen for the first time ever this month and I absolutely love it. When I put it on I always feel like I’m doing something awesome for my skin. I’ll be looking for a more eco-friendly one on iHerb after this one’s done. I’ve lived in those sandals ever since I bought them in Kyoto in August, they’re the only shoes I wear except for my running shoes. I’m actually dreading cooler weather because I won’t be able to wear them as much. And lastly, I got that tote on sale at H&M (mine is more of this colour) and it instantly improved my style approximately 100 fold. I absolutely love it.

I’ve been lucky to have many awesome things in my life this month! The other things (mostly workout wear, funnily enough!), are things I’m adding to my wishlist for possible future purchases.

How to Do Morning Pages

How to Do Morning Pages

This week on Guinea Pigging Green, Laura and I are talking all about morning pages! If you’re not familiar with them, the idea is to do 3 pages of stream-of-consciousness writing first thing in the morning, by hand in a notebook. The purpose is to get rid of your internal judging voice, and get all the junk and insecurities and worries in your head down on paper before you start your day. I’ve done this before, for several months back in 2012 around the time when I did NaNoWriMo for the first time! Back then I was going through some things personally and I found the process incredibly helpful in working out some of the stuff in my head at the time.

About a month ago, Laura sent me an article she’d seen on the Daily Muse about morning pages and asked if I’d like to do them together for a month to see what would happen. I was definitely interested and happily recommitted to this practice I’d let slip out of my life nearly 2 full years ago. I’m happy to report that I love doing the pages more than ever.

So, how can you do morning pages yourself? It’s very, very simple. The official definition specifically says:

There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages—they are not high art. They are not even ‘writing.’ They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind—and they are for your eyes only. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page.

How to Do Morning Pages

Previously, I’d been using 750words.com, an awesome site based on the idea of morning pages which tracks your progress and saves your words every day. It’s an awesome way to ease into it if you’re new to the idea and want to give it a try. That being said, I think my experience writing it by hand in my notebook this time around has been a thousand times more enjoyable and helpful. As Laura put it, it’s just so much more cozy to write your pages by hand each morning in a nice notebook with a nice pen. I also love that that means I’m doing my morning writing before opening my computer. It has been so refreshing to take that time for myself before checking in with all the distractions my computer brings.

I’m also delighted that doing my morning pages has been an anchor for my morning, giving me something to do before I get swept up in the day and distracted by other things. It’s led to a bit of a domino effect lately too where I have begun meditating right after finishing my pages using the Headspace app. Then after that, I’ll have breakfast and do my 7 minute workout. And voila! A productive morning where one good thing flows into another. I find that no matter what else I do all day, I’m always so grateful to have taken that time to check in with myself before I start the day.

You can find out more about my experience with morning pages by tuning into the podcast here, and you can learn much more about the pages themselves on Julia Cameron’s blog here.

Twenty Questions!

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Over on Guinea Pigging Green today, I’m answering 10 very random questions about myself and asking Laura 10 of my own (very random) questions. We love recording the podcast together, but for the past few weeks our schedules have not aligned because of vacations and my summer work schedule and of course, the 13 hour time difference between us. So I had this totally wacky idea for us to record the episode separately, answering questions we’d sent each other in advance.

In the end, I think it worked out pretty well, all things considered! One of the best parts of having this podcast is being able to have fun and try new things. We are the ones running the (very small) show, so we get to try out different ideas and be silly and experiment and see what happens. More often than not, we end up learning more about each other and the world, learning how to collaborate better, meeting amazing new people, improving ourselves and hopefully doing our small part to inspire others to lead happier healthier lives. The podcast is definitely sometimes a lot of work, or a hassle to develop ideas and record every few weeks, but I am absurdly grateful for this tiny fun creative venture. I know I’m building skills that will help me in the future and I’m so glad I get to do so in a way that’s positive and which inspires me.

We asked each other some pretty fun questions and got some pretty funny and interesting responses. You can find out more about the episode by reading the shownotes over on our blog or of course by tuning into the show at the link here or by subscribing on iTunes. Thanks for listening!