Friday, April 29, 2011

Listen to Your Mother in Madison, Barrymore Theatre 5/8 3pm

 Listen to Your Mother - Barrymore Theatre 3pm May 8th, 2011

The Episode in Which I am BRAVE!

"The important and only vital question is, how much greater, finer, am I than I was yesterday? Have I fulfilled my possibilities, made the most of my potentialities?" — Edward Weston

I can truly say that I am indeed "greater, finer" than I was yesterday. I have fulfilled my possibilities and made the most of my potentialities.

You see, I am a writer/reader for Listen to Your Mother. Sounds simple, but not really. This exercise is an incredible leap of bravery for me, as I am deathly afraid of public speaking.

Last night was the second read-through for the Listen to Your Mother show. I enjoyed hearing the other 12 women's stories even more than I had at the first listening session.

Perhaps the first time, I was so nervous about reading my own piece that I found it hard to concentrate closely on what others were saying. While I am humbled by the other writers/readers in this amazing group of women, I have also finally realized that I belong there, too. I didn’t always believe it.

When I first thought about writing something and auditioning for LTYM, I felt a bit inadequate and pessimistic about attempting something that was foreign to me.

It took my 11-year old daughter – a budding actress who is comfortable speaking to 500 people from the stage – to convince me to try out for LTYM. Believe me, she pushed and pulled me kicking and screaming to sign up for an audition. She told me that it would be “good for me,” and that I would “grow.” I could tell that she relished being able to turn my own pithy words of encouragement back on me like a knife of the sharpest blade.

Upon initially meet someone, you don’t know their history or their own personal story. Sure, we freely hand out labels like parade candy, but they are usually wrong or at best, incomplete. My little background story is that I have a major phobia of reading anything in public. I have hated it since Middle School, when I would spend entire class periods dreading being called upon to read anything aloud from a textbook.

When I did have to read aloud, my face would flush, my voice would quaver, and I would stumble over words…words that I knew, but my anxiety caused me to trip over my tongue. It. Was. Horrible.

Since then, I have avoided public speaking like the plague. Until now. You see, I had to audition. I had to back up those words of encouragement that I so freely dispense to my child. I had to put my money where my mouth is, which is constantly open, divvying out unsolicited advice. If I didn’t audition, she would see me as a fraud; someone who didn’t take her own damn advice. So I told her my concerns, and she said, “Mommy, you can do it. Really. You can. Pretend like you’re talking to me.”

Ok, right. So, I auditioned.  Wow, I was so nervous. During the audition, I felt the old face flushing, and then the voice quiver reared its ugly head, and I thought, “Oh boy, this is so over.” And, then, as I began to read my piece on puberty, Ann and Darcy (LTYM head honchos) laughed. (Not at me, as I suspected might happen.) And, as I read some more, they laughed some more, and I thought, “Hannah’s right. I can get through this,” and I did.

After I walked out, I thought I’d seriously blown it. Why would you want someone who fumbled over her words and was obviously mentally tormented about public speaking. I returned home, and told Hannah, “I did terrible. I know that I didn’t get in.” She gave me a hug and said, “It’s okay, Mommy. You tried, and that’s all that matters.” (Who is the parent now?)

Time passed. I’d already written the entire thing off in my mind. And, then I received Ann's email inviting me to perform. I was SHOCKED. My darling daughter, not so much. I think she said, “I knew it!”

The first read-through was hard for me, especially that damn word “prepubescent,” which kills me every time. Actually, it was hard because these other people were strangers, and I had to read in front of them. Then, I felt the love and acceptance and understanding in that group of beautiful women, and I started to relax. Last night, the 2nd read-through was even easier for me. Everyone was so supportive and I feel like they have become my extended family.

Lest you think this is the end of my rant, it’s not. Last week, my daughter asked to show me a bulletin board in the hallway outside of her classroom. I joined her in front of these pictures of a lot of famous people. It was a wall of heroes created by she and her classmates. There on that wall, next to a picture of President Obama and Lance Armstrong, was a picture of ME!

After I was able to speak again and I’d wiped my tears, I asked her, “Why am I up there on this wall?” She looked at me like I was a bit touched in the head (you know how teens can do that), and she said, “Because I knew you were afraid to speak in public, but you overcame your fear, and you just did it.”

Please come see "Listen to Your Mother." You'll laugh. You'll cry. And most importantly, you will be changed forever.

And, if I don’t pass out, and my voice doesn’t quaver and I nail “prepubescent,” please give me a high five!

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