I’ve finished the wonderful process of working with my Producer/Narrator, Nicole Fagerhaug, developing the audio book of Developing Happiness When You Can’t Find It, and excited to share her amazing gifts with you! (The audiobook is going through its final check with ACX.com and will be available on Amazon shortly!)
I asked her a few questions about herself and her whole process. I think you’ll find her responses to be as delightful as I find them! – Tamara
Do you have a bio or message you’d like to share?
We all have gifts and talents that tap into our soul.
For me, it has always been my voice. But even though I had trained in college as an opera singer and took years of private voice over lessons, I had put my love of voice over work on the back burner to pursue a “real job.”
One of these jobs was in working for The Disneyland Resort in Anaheim in VIP Guest Services for the hotels. It was during this time that a colleague heard my voice over demo and encourage me to audition for a project to be the voice of the resort voice mail system. The audition was successful and I have been the voice of the resort phone system ever since. Although I was happy to have this be a “side gig,” I met many people within the company who were willing to help me pursue my voice over work more seriously.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, I found myself on furlough with a desperate need for an outlet for work and creativity. I was introduced to the world of audio books by these supportive colleagues and was encouraged to use the time to dedicate to revamping my voice over work.
The emotional toll of the pandemic on me was crippling, and the energy I was able to put into building my home studio and recording every day was a literal life-saver.
“Developing Happiness” was a book that showed up at the exact right time in my life. I knew from the moment I read the audition script that this book came into my life for a reason, whether or not I landed the gig.
Once I was selected to record and produce the book, I was able to start an emotional journey that would have me making leaps and bounds to emotional health and establishing very practical steps to guide me back to wellbeing throughout this trying year.
Every moment spent recording and producing the text of this book has helped me tap into that soul deep part of me that wishes to use my voice for encouragement and positive messages.
Would you like to share your thoughts relating to your inner process when you narrate a book?
I like to go into each audio book project completing an entire read before getting started. It helps me to understand the arc of the message.
While recording “Developing Happiness,” I actually discovered a new approach to recording.
While I spent the first two chapters reading over the text multiple times before recording, I found that parts of the text were more impactful as “first thoughts,” and I felt it was important to capture the moment when the ideas sunk in for me in order to engage the audience on that same level.
So, many of the chapters were cold reads. I believe the more spontaneous realizations helped keep the text alive instead of feeling like a lecture. Essentially, I am being moved at the same time as the listener.
What are your favorite parts of this book?
My favorite parts of the book were the quotes and how they related to the sections.
There were many moments when I would have to stop recording after reading the quotes to sit in silence and let the moment sit with me.
There is something about feeling connected to an author and to many other scholars, philosophers, and leaders who experienced the same inspirations and were able to provide guidance.
Another favorite part was the section on suspending judgement.
The techniques explained in that section have helped me process my pitfalls in a much more productive way now. It’s a process I continue to practice regularly so I can get better at it.
Here’s an excerpt from the suspending Judgement section! Doesn’t Nicole’s voice make you want to hear more?
Opening remarks for chapter:
Why do you think they spoke to you?
In general, the principals of the entire book spoke to me because I have spent most of my life thinking there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t “find” happiness.
I have been in therapy most of my adult life, I have read all the self help books, been to seminars, and journal until my hands cramp up, all in the efforts to find joy and become happy.
Nothing seemed to work.
I had finally resigned myself to believing that not everyone is meant to find happiness.
I had even justified it as normal because of how many great poets, artists, composers, etc., utilized their constant despair to create amazing art. I felt I was simply an artist without a medium.
Learning that happiness can be developed, along with suspending inner judgement, allowed for me to understand that happiness is not a thing that some people just have and some people don’t.
Instead, it is like healthy living.
Yes, maybe some people are born with great metabolisms, but that doesn’t mean I can’t also be healthy. I can exercise, eat well, and develop healthy habits.
Similarly, I can develop the habits of happiness. I can allow it to take time rather than expecting to “go happy cold turkey.” There was tremendous freedom in that feeling.
What are the areas you struggled with while reading and why
The areas I struggled with were the sections on abuse.
Not just relationships, but from the church. I had quite a significant chapter of my life where I had to live in the emotional abuse of the church. And any questioning of the teachings were turned on me to accuse me of lacking faith.
The parallels to the descriptions in the book were very close to home.
Another area of difficulty was healing and giving space and time to heal. I had not been used to living in an emotion freely and giving myself that needed space.
Sometimes I had to step away from recording for the night to let my mind rest on these new ideas.
What are your personal take-aways?
My main take away from this book is that this is not a “how to” book that will make you instantly happy.
This book is like a personal trainer.
Just like the message says at the beginning, it is not about finding happiness, but developing it.
Just like strength training and healthy eating, the results are not instant. But by utilizing the practices in this book regularly and, for lack of a better term, training the happiness muscles, long term and sustained happiness can be developed. And just like being physically healthy, the process from taking the long and steady path is much more rewarding than the instant gratification of momentary happiness.
I would like to share with the readers that keeping that little suggested notebook of favorite quotes handy is huge help. Especially if it’s a notebook you can carry with you.
I have had times where negative thoughts hit me at random moments like the grocery store, and I am able to pull out my little notebook and read through some inspiring quotes to get me through.
Also, take with all seriousness the books advice on working through chapters only as you are ready to handle them.
I found that there were moments that I struggled through and forced myself to complete the chapter anyway so I could mark off that chapter on the recording list.
It was hard to find the motivation the next day to go back to the material and keep working. My brain was asking me to take a moment. The only way I could get back to work was to skip to a chapter I could easily get into and return to the difficult material when I was in a better space.
Has this project surprised you? How?
There have been many pleasant surprises in this process.
Mostly, I’ve been surprised at how the techniques, quotes, and mantras provide instant peace of mind and clarity while also establishing long term habits.
I was surprised by how easy it was to speak the text as if they were my own thoughts rather than making a dry reading of someone else’s words.
I have grown as a voice over artist and as a person through this journey. – Nicole Fagerhaug
Thank you Nicole for your wonderful work on this project! I’m sure that people will love listening to your voice over and over, and that this will be of great help for many people!
Readers: I’ll keep you posted as soon as the audio book is available online!
Guided Journals help you work on a particular issue by answering questions to help see patterns and to find solutions:
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