A fellow childhood cancer/Shave for the Brave momma introduced me to Listen to Your Mother in 2011. She participated in a show (I think it might have even been the first one in her area) and was always posting about it. I kept seeing it in her facebook and instagram feeds so one day I asked about it. She told me what it was and knew that I was beginning to blog, so she encouraged me to submit a piece. Yeah, right!
My #oneword for 2014 was risk. I took a huge one and “auditioned” for the first-ever Listen to Your Mother show in Metro Detroit. I was accepted. I read in front of 400 strangers. For five blissful and completely uninterrupted minutes I got to share my story, Luke’s story. There was a literal and figurative spotlight on childhood cancer. And, I was held. Part of the magic of LTYM is that there’s no judgement. No judgement if you ugly cry (I did in rehearsal), no judgement if you curse, no judgement over content, delivery or tone. You get to own a stage and share your story. It is completely invigorating and uplifting. LTYM helped me heal a little and it gave me more confidence as a writer.
LTYM is also scary as hell. Although blogging is very public, our words and thoughts are very private. Sharing them with the world is risky and deep down, most writers are deeply insecure.
Yesterday was the second annual LTYM show. It.was.awesome. St. Andrew’s Hall was jumping! That place was electric. And the readers and their stories were amazing. They ranged from humorous to dark, gut-wrenching to hopeful. It is an honor to bear witness to such raw emotion. I remember how absolutely terrified I was last year. I was glad that there was a full audience to support me. I am grateful that I was able to go yesterday to support this year’s group. That’s part of the magic, too. All of a sudden you are in a vulnerability/motherhood/writing/performing group that you never knew you always wanted to be in. And it’s not like the clique of plastics in high school. It’s real people. It’s your people. And, you are a member for life.
This morning I commented on the facebook page of one of this year’s performers. I said “Your piece was raw and powerful. Thank you for sharing.” She wrote back to me that my piece from last year was the one that she kept going back to for inspiration.
Wait. What? What the heck? Holy bananas!
First, what a compliment.
Second, that is very humbling and gratifying. That is why I write (I think it’s why most people write) I hope that what I put out there resonates with others. Writing also helps me feel less alone. In LTYM-speak, it’s called the “me, too” moment. Someone shares something from deep within themselves that takes your breath away and you say, “yeah, me too.” This year’s show gave me many of those moments. Very grateful.
Third, thank you for sharing that. That is something else about LTYM. You connect with other writers, bloggers, and artists, and your shared risky experience makes you feel like you know each other and then you take care of each other. She did not have to say anything back to me. I certainly wasn’t expecting her to.
Fourth, let’s spread some of that love around! Writing is risky. Auditioning for something (whether it’s LTYM or something else) is incredibly risky. It’s putting your heart and soul out there hoping and praying that it will be cared for. If there is a writer in your life, support them. Read their stuff. Don’t be stingy with love and praise. All the feels people! ALL the feels!
There are two more weekends of LTYM performances. Do yourself a favor. See if there is one in a city near you. Then, go and listen. Be moved. Be inspired. And then, call your mother.