voice

Today's My 40th Birthday! Thoughts on Our Voices

40 + Fab
Butterfly Tattoo - Ezer + Co. Founder

I’m 40 and fabulous today!!!

Fresh hair. New tattoo. Renewed commitment to live my life in all its fullness. I have all kinds of feelings about entering the next decade, but I’m really crazy excited about this next chapter of my story. I’m so grateful for this life I’m living, the family I’m doing it with, the friends who know and love me well, and what we’re building with Ezer + Co.

My whole life is aligning and integrating for this next chapter. Bring it on!!

For the last decade, I’ve been thinking a lot about my voice and the marginalized voices of our world. This is how I’ve come to think about our individual and collective voices.

OUR VOICE IN THE 20s.

My 20s were wonder-full and rough all at once (actually, isn’t all of life in that tension?). I started into my leadership vocation at a globally influential church. I married my high school sweetheart. We moved to SoCal for our first real adventure together. I discovered more of my gifts, passions, and spiritual pathways. We traveled the world. We bought a condo. We started our adoption process. I started speaking nationally. The highlight reel was wonderful.

It was also rough. I activated my workaholism and found myself having 2 panic attacks. I watched my husband struggle deeply with anxiety and depression. I was almost always a gender minority in leadership spaces. I became a racial minority when we moved to our church in SoCal and had to navigate different racial/ethnic cultures for the first time in my life (embarrassingly true). I spent a lot of time in therapy. Our marriage had a dark season as we were forced to confront past wounds. We went through years of infertility - diagnosis, treatments, pokes, prods, meds, hopes deferred.

In your 20s, FIND YOUR VOICE.

The 20s are a fantastic decade to try on other’s voices. Mimic the voices of those you respect and see how they settle within your own unique voice. Work through your childhood wounds as best you can so you can live and lead with more wholeness. Learn as much as you can about who you are so you can live and lead from a true place. Your 20s are about exploring and finding your voice.

OUR VOICE IN THE 30s.

My 30s were living la vida loca!!! We became parents to three kids in 15 months, and Brian and I basically didn’t breathe for two years. I went deep into practicing self-leadership and soul care. I went back into counseling. I was coached for the first time and something lit up in me. I wrote a book and contributed to several others. I became a runner and completed a couple half marathons. I became certified as a coach. I quit a job I loved, in a church I never imagined leaving, and it was devastating. We moved cross-country again and that move that almost killed all of us. We moved “back to the future” two years later and settled into SoCal as our official Diaz home. I traveled more internationally, speaking to tens of thousands of people. My justice convictions became red hot. Silence was no longer an option. Vocationally, the last five years have been a lot of experimentation, wandering, and discerning my best contribution to the world.

In your 30s, CULTIVATE YOUR VOICE.

Because of the inner work I did in my 20s, my 30s opened up so many opportunities to move more powerfully into who I’ve been created to be. My confidence grew. I welcomed being the minority (gender AND race) in the room. I moved from a belief of scarcity into abundance. It’s changing everything. This last decade has been truly about cultivating my voice - what must I speak about (from a stage but with my whole life), how do I want to say it, where do I best contribute my words, and what voices do I want to be aligned with.

The 30s become the early days of not having time to care what people think or holding back. When you do the inner work, you have more capacity to show up confidently, with power and humility to truly be yourself. Your 30s become a decade where your energy shifts from “proving” to “being”. The inner muscles you’ve cultivated in your 20s become the outer muscles on display - aka YOUR VOICE. The 30s can be so much more fun because the insecurity, measuredness, and comparison voices are turned down so you can truly be yourself.

OUR VOICE IN THE 40s.

Since I’m just entering this decade, I don’t have personal experiences to share yet. But here’s what I’ve noticed in the guides I’ve followed and the voices I listen to: Your 40s are the best yet!!

In your 40s, AMPLIFY YOUR VOICE.

The 40s, you’ve got 20 years worth of adulting. You’ve worked for 20ish years. You’ve accomplished some stuff. You’ve done inner work. You’ve received some battle wounds and healed from others. The lows haven’t taken you out and the highs haven’t defined you. This is the decade to turn up the mic and let your voice say what it needs to say. It has more authority and weight because you’ve lived for a hot second. You’ve failed because you’ve taken risks.

I believe your 40s also need to be even more about amplifying the voices of those who’ve been marginalized, silenced, or oppressed. Your voice doesn’t exist for the sake of yourself. Your voice is for the greater good. The 40s are the decade when you no longer give a shit about what people think in all the best ways. You settle into your body in new ways. You’ve been cultivating your potential and are living more into it.

These are the gifts I’m eager to open in my 40s. There’s more than enough space for your voice and my voice and everyone’s voices to be heard. There’s so much work to be done in this world for the sake of equality, partnership, justice, and wholeness.

So let’s get about doing our inner work so we can live and lead with wholeness. Your voice matters.

(PS. if you’re beyond your focus, share what happens with your voice. I love to learn from you.)

Amplify Your Voice - Ezer + Co.

If you want to find, cultivate, or amplify your voice, the Coaching Group is a great place to do that. I’m committed to amplifying your life and leadership.

We do the inner work and focus time on the power of your voice in our 6-month journey.

Spots are filling up and we are starting soon.

Join us.

Do the work.

We need your voice.

Raise Your Voice

Today’s a big day!

Today is the one year anniversary of Kathy Khang’s important book, Raise Your Voice: Why We Stay Silent and How We Speak Up! To celebrate, below is an excerpt from her book. Go buy it. Give your money to women, especially women of color.

This excerpt is from her first chapter, “Seen and Not Heard”. How very true this is for women. I also wanted to share this particular excerpt because it highlights friends Amena Brown and Soul City Church, which is co-pastored by Jeanne Stevens.

Last year, I hosted Kathy on The Global Fringe podcast. In that episode, we talked about the biblical story of Esther in a way I’d never heard before but resonated with so deeply. Kathy’s attitude is empowering. She doesn’t shy away from addressing issues of justice and mercy and how we are created to use our voices for the betterment of another. And as a justice warrior, Kathy helps us identify necessary self-care as an act of political warfare.

She’s a force. Listen. Follow. Learn from her.

Raise Your Voice
Kathy Khang - Raise Your Voice

The Stories We Tell

I had the honor of watching my friend, author and artist Amena Brown, raise her voice at Soul City Church in Chicago. Amena told us a story about her grandmother and the care she put into packing food for family members who were traveling. Her grandmother would carefully wrap a slice of cake in waxed paper and put fried chicken in a paper towel and foil. These lovingly packed meals were important to African Americans in the time before the passage of the Civil Rights Act, when black travelers didn’t know if they would be able to find a restaurant that would serve them.

As I recall Amena’s performance, mannerisms, and imitation of her grandmother’s speech and cadence, I can see how the warm memories of food dovetailed into a story of racial injustice. Amena can tell this story because of who she is and who her people are. And while I can share her story here, I can’t pos- sibly embody the story because it’s not in my bones or blood.

But I can share the story of how my grandmother, who was a child in Korea during Japanese rule, was widowed before she turned forty while raising five children and how she never remarried. I can tell you how she refused to tell me her Japanese name, but did tell me about why she choose not to remarry—because she would have been forced to prioritize her role as wife over her role as mother, even though it was difficult to live as a single mother in her patriarchal culture.

Amena’s grandmother and my grandmother. Two different women, two different periods in history—but injustice didn’t silence them or stop them from acting on their own behalf and on behalf of their families. We need to give voice to these uniquely embodied stories. We need their complexity and beauty. And this is where I see my story, and the various stories of diverse communities, and the biblical stories of Esther, the bleeding woman, Moses, the women at the cross, and the resurrection colliding—in identity formation, in community, and in advocacy against racism and misogyny.

Most of the books I’ve read and speakers I’ve heard on the topic of voice and identity have been white men or women with little nuance and contextualization for individuals and communities that reside both on the margins and simultane- ously in the intersections. I believe we need to address voice and identity through the intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, and class, as well as in personal and public spheres of communication. The growing focus on racial reconciliation and the pursuit of justice only highlights the lack of nonwhite and nonblack voices, especially but not exclusively in evangelical circles. Women of color need to be part of the reconciling work of the gospel. We all need to understand that voice, identity, and agency are given by God but often underdeveloped or ignored in people on the margins. We need to be seen and heard.