May 4th has come and gone. It arrived with bigger than life fanfare and has gone with much heartbreak. Standing on stage with this year’s Listen To Your Mother: Providence cast is the most selfish thing I’ve done in a very long time. And not for how much it took that one day but the months of preparation and planning which called on me to tap into skills and talents long dormant and some even unbeknownst to me. I’m left daydreaming of those women and their words, the clapping and the laughter, the flurry of activity backstage and the kind smiles and tears of our audience.
I don’t want to let it go. It put me face to face with my best self and I want to feel that way Every. Single. Day. I know my LTYM: Providence warriors felt it, too.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?… Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory …that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Each of us tapped into our brilliant power this weekend.
We spend our days caring for the next generation, watering their curiosity and pouring ourselves into nurturing their interests and talents, their souls. And as a side effect something’s gotta give and more often than not it manifests itself in neglecting ourselves the same tender care we give our children. We ignore the cries of our spirit in the name of our offspring, unintended martyrs, oblivious to how poorly this serves our children. They don’t need mothers who let dreams die or who stop dreaming or who let those dreams stew for a lifetime. What they need is mothers who practice gracious selfishness. Who put their oxygen mask on first.
This weekend I witnessed 13 incredible women stand on stage and put themselves first. It was magic. I want to honor them with a statue or a tree or a monument or a couch with Oprah or their own TEDtalk but all I’ve got is words. Mind you in the perfect world that exists in my mind this is lovingly scrawled on fragranced stationery monogrammed with my initials in elegant yet legible script and it arrives in my cast mates’ mailboxes with a wax seal and a ray of sunshine. Instead, though, you get the 2013 version on my blog. Because I love you, women. I want everyone to know it.
Kirsten, the more I get to know you the more I fall in love with you. You are bold, outspoken, and opinionated. At the same time, a tremendous team player and a woman deeply connected to her heart. I admire your natural ability to connect people with one another and know how they can help each other, a matchmaker. You do everyone a favor when you’re present.
Brianne, you are so natural when you’re speaking to a crowd. You inspire and connect and really should just do it all the time. And more than just a powerhouse speaker, you are an ingenius writer who deconstructs life in the most wonderful way and makes it all familiar even when it’s not so much. You need to be center stage because people will be held captive. They will listen. They will leave better than they arrived.
Laura, my partner in crime, your energy and joy was a guiding light during the last several months. It’s been a blessing to find someone as eagerly cheerful as I am. You are a master at your craft. You are generous with your time, your energy and your attention despite bearing more than a full plate. I admire your religious devotion to your family and natural inclination to cheer people on.
Jenn, I’m inspired by you to learn more. You are so smart and you have this ability to translate it into writing in a way that is witty and accessible to everyone. You are humble and so incredibly kind. You embraced us all like a mother hen, encouraging and supportive. So grateful for your eagerness to support Laura and I. It was one thing for you to share your story but then knowing you were wiling to go all in with us on this unfamiliar, unchartered journey – gracias.
Phyllis, your sweet and fun loving energy makes me want to hang out with you on the regular. Your story reminded me of my own, and the unique experience those of us have who are raised by parents juggling assimilation and holding onto their roots. I admire your leap to do LTYM during this time of figuring out what to do next. You’re leaning in, way in and it builds the bridges between then, now and next. And I wish I could pin point what it is but I know whatever your next project or venture, you’ll do it with everything you’ve got and blow them out of the water. You’re make-things-happen kinda gal.
Marian, your poetry was a serendipitous present during auditions. We didn’t know we wanted or needed poetry in our show as much as we did until you shared your poems with us. They speak such truth in their simplicity. I’m left awed by how much emotion your poems evoke in such few words. I was a lover of poetry from a young age then lost my way. You, my friend, have reminded me how badly my soul needs poetry. The world needs to be viewed through poetry’s lens to spotlight it’s beautiful frailty and harshness. Thank you.
Lexi, I am so incredibly proud of you for kicking SAD to the curb, for pocketing the memory of doing so for those times when it ain’t so easy. You are brave beyond words. I watched on stage as a mom in the audience wept, big thunderstorm tears, during your piece because she’d been there, is there, will be there. Your stories on raising children with special needs are a much needed embrace to other mothers with special needs children who have no one within arm’s reach to hold them, to make them laugh, to get it. Keep sharing.
Lauren, your journey is an inspiration to take on the unknown. You do it all with a natural lightheartedness that is infectious. And underneath the cheerful disposition lies a heart full of wonder and caring, willing to foresee the tough questions of the future and willing to ponder, willing to ponder.
Alicia, your honesty is like nothing I’ve encountered before. It’s a lesson to stand where you are, to not fight against the uncomfortable parts of life, to hold on proud to every story which makes up your whole. Your willingness to be so completely vulnerable during this process astounds me still – you gave us your story, your experience and were open to feedback and edits in the most humble way. It takes people many lives to be able to allow themselves to be so vulnerable.
Stephanie, holy laughter. Everyone in that auditorium came alive with laughter when you got on stage. I admit, the first time I read your piece I wasn’t sure how it would read. Then you brought it hilariously to life and there was no doubt in my mind we had to cast you. To be able to write for the stage or the screen is such a different beast than writing for print and you, my dear, have that superpower. The world needs laughter. Don’t deprive them.
Kelly, my God do you even know what you can do with words? Your piece was deeply personal while also being viscerally universal. It leaves me breathless every time. You have a gift – with your words, your gentle spirit and tender heart. Write more. Pretty please. More hearts need to be stirred and more emotions need stories where definitions do them no justice.
Jackie, how grateful I am to you for your perspective on life and your laughter. Your ability to speak candidly about motherhood, and any topic that comes your way, is refreshing and invigorating. And your fierce commitment to keeping it positive and supportive amongst women is a lesson for anyone who wants to move mountains. You give meaning to sisterhood.
Jessica, get yourself near a stage. At our dress rehearsal, you switched into theater mode and it’s like you never left. You’re a natural and enthusiastic teacher, from stage etiquette to social media etiquette, what you know you own. And it’s a gift to anyone you share it with. You are MayBell.
This. This is what I saw in you. What inspired me. What continues to move me. What makes me want to do it again and again.
I want to know what you saw in yourself during this Listen To Your Mother journey. What sleeping beast did we awaken? Tell me. Don’t let it sleep again.
And because I’m big on walking the talk, I’ll go first.
This process has taught me that I thrive in a group or team environment. I love the back and forth of exchanging ideas and energy. Writing is my passion and it requires solitude of me but it’s futile if I deprive myself of the creative energy of collaborative work. I remembered I like to lead and I’m not too shabby at it. LTYM was me giving permission to myself to go forth and do. I don’t need anyone’s permission anymore. I really enjoyed the editing process. While there wasn’t much to do (hello, great writers), I found it soothing and fulfilling to provide feedback and mold something into it’s best form for our show. I deeply crave more time with incredible women who are honest and heart centered. After every single one of our rehearsals, I was lit on fire. My inborn optimism is a gift in the face of possible disaster (hello, faulty sound system). I also really love listening to people. Whatever is next, I just want to listen more. And remind people of their incredible worth.
It’s your turn, lovelies. Tell me how you saw yourself shine. Tell me what magic you tapped into that you don’t want to lose. Praise yourself for what you’ve done. We too often play our amazing selves down and I’m not sure why. It’s Mother’s Day weekend and you ladies are amongst the finest mamas out there. Be your biggest cheerleader. Go.