Category Archives: Listen To Your Mother

Month in Review

For such a tender, fresh young time of year, May does a lot of heavy lifting. This month seemed both interminable and swift. We’ve been running hard, and every moment has felt as though it’s not full enough to get things done. I’m a big believer in slowing down, taking time, not having every moment scheduled. However, this has also been the month where I am at the mercy of my responsibilities. I’m limping into summer.

That is not to say that there have not been remarkable, wonderful, life-changing experiences this May.  I’m trying to craft the life I want now that my focus has changed, my responsibilities are shifting, and my children will soon all be in school for a full day. My small family and dear friends have been a beautiful, central, and necessary part of this month, and I’ve snuck in, quite purposefully, moments of art and beauty. It has been a month of shaking off the old, and insisting on the new.

Here are some highlights from May:

  • A short film that a fabulous and gifted friend and I wrote finally got filmed. For three days this month, I saw our words put into motion and got to work with some of the most talented, creative, hard-working, brilliant professionals I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending time with. The cast and crew were far more experienced than I, which is the best situation for me to be. I listened. I watched. I learned. I loved every minute of it. In addition to being cowriter, I functioned as executive producer. I started a production company called Melted Butter Productions. Onset, my job was largely to make sure people were fed and to stay out of their way, two things I’m fairly good at. It was a steep learning curve, and I loved every second of it, even the long hours, hard work, forms, and red tape. Right now the film is being edited and turned into something greater than the sum of its parts. I am thankful to have a team of people who I not only trust but who I so enjoyed working with. More on that project as it blooms.
  • I’ve written here about the life-altering, wonderful, affirming, much-needed experience that was Listen To Your Mother. It’s hard to believe that that was only a few weeks ago. The LTYM show was one of the greatest days of my life and the experience introduced me to some of the greatest people I’ve ever met. There is something about sharing this experience with other storytellers and writers that created bonds at the heart-level.
  • My daughter finished up preschool and will be starting kindergarten fall. May meant several transition activities, grounding us in this new part of our lives. I have one foot in the Slow Down! camp and another in the Spread Your Wings And Fly, Little Girl! camp.
  • For the twins, there were concerts, portfolio nights, and school events almost every day. My boys will be going to a new building in the same district this next year. It’s not so much a graduation as it is a transition, so my feet are in two camps with them as well. Exciting times to come.
  • One son started playing baseball this spring and his team has made it to the semifinals. The child has learned so much in a few short months, all things one would hope baseball or any group activity would teach: determination, focus, teamwork, shaking off bad moments, celebrating good. That’s a W.
  • My father turned 75 this month. There was much cake. That is also a W.

  • My sweet dog who is around 11 years old struggles with his health. We are spoiling him rotten and keeping an eye on him. His quality of life is our guide.
  • I’ve been knitting again. My daughter wants a new blanket and I stupidly agreed to do it. Now it’s a thing. A huge, boring, have-to-pay-just-enough-attention, why-did-I-knit-this-in-worsted-weight thing.
  • I have been writing more these last few days with a new routine and a new focus that I will expound on in a different blog entry. So far so good. But of course, all bets are off for summer. I assume the first day of vacation will trounce all over my happy writing plan and I will have a few more months of squeezing it in between special moments of asking the kids for the millionth time to close the door.
  • I have been catching up on the stack of magazines I have. Are you familiar with The Sun magazine? It’s absolutely brilliant. I just finished the September 2016 issue and have not been able to stop thinking about more than a few pieces in there, notably “#WeAreHarryChang” by Thomas Lee (oooh! You can read it here! Do it!)
  • A little late, but listening to season two of Big Magic podcast by Elizabeth Gilbert. Her voice is sunshine, and her message is positive without being treacly or saccharine.
  • Finally watched Moonlight. Mahershala Ali earned that Oscar and probably another two or three. What a performance in quite a haunting film.
  • Also saw The Words, which was not as haunting, but an interesting play on that old chestnut of what happens when first we practice to deceive.
  • The best discovery this month is the National Geographic series, Genius.   It’s a fascinating, unblinking biography of Albert Einstein. Warts and all. Please tell me you are watching – I’m dying to talk about this show, especially the role of his wife Mileva. A biography of her wouldn’t have been uncalled for. Can you imagine an entire series of shows about underappreciated, unsung wives throughout history?

Deep breaths now as we waltz into June, a month of sweet berries and cannonballs, fireflies and picnics.

How was your May?



LTYM Paean

Listen to Your Mother Chicago was over two weeks ago, and the national program ended this past weekend.

I find myself struggling to put into words all that this experience meant, from auditioning a year ago (read all about that here), to not making it, to seeing the show last year, to redoubling my efforts this year, to auditioning again, making the cast, rehearsing, and finally putting on this show on May 7.

The only words I feel are close to adequate are “life-changing.” Anything beyond that is like trying to paint the wind.

I wish I were a composer or a painter or a sculptor because it all seems too big for the words I have right now. Or maybe I just need to grow my words, using time and distance to nurture and tend to them.

Someday, the words will come.

For now, I have tremendous gratitude and awe. My thanks to Ann Imig, founder of LTYM, to Tracey Becker and Melisa Wells for cradling the Chicago baby and for providing a home for our stories, to my castmates and new friends who walked this journey with me, to all the storytellers in the last few years for blazing a safe, beautiful trail, and to everyone who listened to these stories.

I also have a sweet new LTYM coffee mug.

Until my words catch up with my heart, I leave you with a few pictures, which were taken by the amazing Brandi Lee of Balee Images.

It’s OK to Say You’re a Mother

The first piece of advice I got when I moved my career into the arts was “Don’t tell people you’re a mother.”  You’ll be considered one giant, boring, mockable stereotype. You won’t be considered for as many projects. It will be assumed that motherhood is your entire frame of reference.

I know this is not everyone’s experience, but I have bumped up against a lot of that — not only in the arts, but in the writing world, and in life.

As a culture, we laud motherhood. We narrow our eyes at mothering.

We are so much more than that one part of our lives, but nothing else we are is as all-encompassing,  rewarding, demanding, scary, promising, heartbreaking, joyful, or fraught as being mothers.

For those of us who gaze at our maternal navels, it’s the push-pull of it all. The messaging – internal and external – about motherhood is replete with contradictions. And if we spend too much time trying to sort it out (after all, the stakes are pretty high) the message is that we’re self-absorbed, that we’ve turned parenting into a gross religion.

In a desperate attempt to understand what is baseline normal (Psych! No such thing!), it can get competitive, or, worse, lonely. Too often in the writing world, motherhood is infantilized and considered a cute niche. We’re called “mommy bloggers” for heaven’s sake, a term that while not necessarily insulting, does not feel overburdened with respect.

That’s where Listen to Your Mother swoops in to save the day with a holy “Yes! Me, too!”

We’ve sloughed off the memes about yoga pants and chardonnay, and we’ve gotten raw and real about motherhood.

LTYM offers up personal stories about motherhood read by the authors. Our stories are our hearts laid bare. What is shared is real, tender, strong, heartbreaking, and hilarious. No one shies away from diving into the depths of motherhood, where we can be afraid and strong, direct and arch, vulnerable and impenetrable.

If there is a golden thread that runs through it all, it seems to me that we are cracked open and then put back together over and over again by motherhood. Being put back together isn’t the same as being made whole, though. Often there are rough places and beautiful fissures held together by sheer will and love.

This past Sunday, we had our final rehearsal for the Chicago show. I was honored to again hear the stories that reached in and stripped me completely and the stories that wrapped around me in ways I didn’t even know I needed. The stories that made me laugh and cry. The stories of our feet of clay and shoulders of steel. I don’t cry easily, but I cried the tears of being overwhelmed and the tears of being emptied – the tears of motherhood.

The stories are beautiful, belonging to the storytellers and gifted to the rest of us. I hope you will give this gift to yourself and to your loved ones.

And you will want to shout to the world, “I’m a mother*, too!”

For more information about Listen to Your Mother, or to purchase tickets, please click here.

*or “I’m a mother-figure!” or “I have a mother!” or simply “Hooray!”