May 11, 2015
by Tricia
6 Comments

On a cloud

ltym_necklace

It isn’t just that last week was wild. That I moved straight from stage back to life with a speed that made my heart ache. It isn’t that life has been loud lately with big decisions and big changes and so much big. It is so loud inside my head that I feel like I couldn’t find the quiet if I tried. (And it isn’t just that I haven’t been trying. Though I haven’t). It isn’t that time to reflect and soak up a moment is a luxury in these small years and this has not been the kind of time for little luxuries.

That I haven’t yet written about my Listen to Your Mother experience is not about time or chaos or life. It’s that I have struggled for a week now to find the words to adequately capture this experience.

To be honest, I’m not sure there are words. There is just emotion. And connection. And stories. Beautiful, amazing, eloquently captured stories told by people who I finally met for the first time on the big day but who are now dear friends. Oh those stories. I got to hear them twice you know and I’d listen to them a hundred more times for all of the tears and laughs and all of the feels.

I wanted to be so fully present for the day, for the moment. And, yet, I felt a little like I was on a cloud the whole time. Perhaps that is just the way it is when you are actually living your own dream in real life. Perhaps there is always a little bit of haze you just can’t break through – the haze of “I can’t believe I’m really doing this.”

Still, through the haze, there are moments that stand out to me so crystal clear.

The moments when I stood in front of my mirror, curling my hair for the first time in so many years, while taking deep breaths and giant gulps of water, reminding myself what I was about to do.

The moment when I drove to the theater, across the bridge that I cross every time I make my way into the city, the bridge I crossed for years to get to work, but that always calls back big moments when I’m crossing for a big event. I almost cried on that bridge on Sunday.

The moment when I ran outside to take a pre-show selfie before heading backstage. It’s a little odd to me that taking a selfie before heading in felt so important to me. But it did. Capture the moment.

ltym_selfie

The moment when I finally made my way backstage and these women whose stories I’d heard but whom I’d never met greeted me with hugs as if we’d known each other for years. Stories bond us. This experience bonds us. We were part of a family now and it didn’t matter that we were in the same room for the first time that day. We knew each other already.

The moment when I walked out on stage for the first time and saw a string of faces – the faces of some of my most favorite people in the world – beaming at me from the second row right in the center of the theater. I’m not sure there is any feeling quite like the one you get when you stand on a stage and look out at those you love and respect and whose friendships you cherish, to see nothing put pure joy in their eyes. Joy at being there to support you and be in this moment with you. Not everyone gets to experience that feeling, I know I am lucky. It is a feeling I’ll never forget.

And, of course, the moment when I looked down to see my little girl there, right in the middle of that row, wearing her fancy dress and surrounded by my favorite people, grinning ear to ear, her eyes shining. I’ve joked that she was more excited than I was that day. Later, a friend would write to me about what an amazing thing I had done for my little girl, to give her this memory of sitting in an audience to watch her Mommy stand up and tell a story while people listened and responded and applauded. I didn’t actually cry on the bridge, or on stage, or when walking off stage even though I felt like I might. But I cried when I read those words and I still cry when I think about that. Of all of the things I’ve ever wanted to give my girl, the hard and fast proof that she can do anything and dreams can come true is among them. Sharing this day with her is one of my proudest moments.

ltym_onstage

And, finally, the moment when I stood there, looking out at the audience, though let’s be honest, all I could really see was lights beyond the first few rows. I remember taking a deep breath, a moment to take it all in, before launching into my first lines. I remember feeling a little bit like I was on auto-pilot, mostly so that I couldn’t cry, mostly so that I could get it all out. All of it. And I did.

I still don’t feel like these words do any justice to what is still bursting in my heart a week later. There are parts of this day that I’ll just never be able to translate. But thankfully, if I ever need to reminisce with someone who just gets it without perfectly structured words and phrases, I don’t have to look far.

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April 29, 2015
by Tricia
7 Comments

In the show (where show = Listen to Your Mother)

“Oh I thought of something else!” she said as I reached above her head to turn off the light on her bedside table. We had just finished saying her prayers and, as always, she had struggled to find things in her day to be thankful for. I make her reflect on her day every night but gratitude is a muscle that takes time to grow. I’m still growing mine.

“Oh? What is it?” I asked.

“I’m also thankful for helping you try on dresses tonight!”

I smiled. “I’m thankful for that too.”

“On the day of your show, I’m going to have so many favorite parts!”

Oh, my love, me too.

On a beautiful spring-like day this past January, I left my house at nap time and made my way into the city. With a shaking voice and tears I did not expect, I read my story to Listen to Your Mother DC producers Kate and Stephanie. We talked, we wiped tears from our eyes, and then it was over. In the two weeks between my audition and the day they would announce the cast, I tried to put the whole thing out of my mind. The temptation to dream of getting a spot on that stage was too much. I’ve got enough experience, now, in putting myself out there that I know quite well how to distract myself in the space between submitting and hearing back.

My daughter, however, does not. She asked me nearly every blessed day during those two weeks whether or not I would be ‘in the show.’ So, naturally, she was the first person I told when I found out that yes, I will be ‘in the show.’

I’ve been in love with Listen to Your Mother for years. I remember thinking, the first time I saw a blog post about it three years ago, that this is a thing I need to be a part of. People on a stage sharing their beautiful stories of motherhood in front of a live audience is every dream of mine come true. Oh to be in that room but, even more, to be on that stage. I imagined that the experience would break my heart into pieces and then put it back together all in the span of one afternoon spent with storytellers just like me (and, perhaps, not at all like me in all the best ways). I craved that kind of heartbreak in my life.

So, two years ago, I auditioned. And I didn’t make it.

I took a couple of years after that, watching LTYM from a distance. It wasn’t resentment for the rejection (I know because I know that feeling fairly well). I still loved the show and everything about it. I still followed and liked and shared and cheered on friends who stood up to tell their stories. I still aimed for that stage. But I needed a little space.

In the space between audition 1 and audition 2, I realized that needing that kind of heartbreak and being ready to withstand it, to make it through it well and be ready to do something with it, are different things. Two years ago, I hadn’t written enough of my story to be able to stand up and tell it. My heart hadn’t learned how to soften in heartbreak rather than harden. I was incredibly distracted with a three-year-old and three-month-old and my hands were full. I wouldn’t have been able to accept the gift even if it had been held out to me. Motherhood had (and still has) so much more for me.

I strongly believe that we are ready for different things at different points in our lives. We can talk ourselves into believing we are ready when, really, we aren’t but the universe will figure out a way to tell us to slow down, take our time, get ready for the experience to be all that it needs to be. I believe that only when we are really, truly ready in the deepest parts of our hearts, will the transformational experience we crave really have the power to transform. I believe in being ready for life’s big moments.

And I’m ready now.

Of course, being ready for the experience and feeling ready to get up on stage in front of my family and friends (and lots of other people’s family and friends) are also very different things. My stomach flips when I think ahead to Sunday afternoon and two nights ago I dreamed that I showed up for my big day in my pajamas. I’m distracting my mind with choosing between dresses and trying to figure out how to apply bronzer so I don’t look like a ghost on stage. (Got tips!? Seriously, I’m taking tips!)

But mostly, because I’m ready, I’m curling up in this moment. I’m letting the nerves and excitement and awe wash over me and I’m taking it all in. I’m closing my eyes and picturing myself on stage and dreaming of all of the ways I will fully live every one of those minutes up there. I’m taking the time to watch my daughter get so excited about her Mommy going up on stage, seeing her eyes light up and knowing that, because I am ready, this moment is one that will stand out for her. This is one of those moments when I show her all that we can be.

And, yes, I’ve already started crying and we’re still five days from go-time. Maybe I shouldn’t wear mascara this weekend…

But the nerves, the excitement, the dreaming and the crying, those are life. Those come with standing up and being ready and taking part. And I’m ready to be in the show.

~~~~~

LTYM-logoI couldn’t have ever even dreamed of being ready without Kate and Stephanie and all they do for LTYM-DC. They make this experience every amazing thing that it is and I’m so honored to do this with them. You can check out all of the latest news about our Sunday showtime and the amazing sponsors they’ve lined up right here.

 

 

April 28, 2015
by Tricia
3 Comments

Lose the Cape

Here comes a very honest truth: I haven’t cleaned my house, like really cleaned, with the big vacuum and sponges and cleaning products, in weeks. I’ve spot cleaned, wandering around with the dust buster in hand, zapping up piles of crumbs underneath where the kids eat breakfast. But it’s been weeks since I’ve really gotten down and dirty. I’m a little afraid of what’s happening under the couch.

Here comes another very honest truth: I’m totally ok with my sparse cleaning schedule right now.

When my daughter was first born, I believed that I wanted to be, and in fact would be, that perfect mom. The one whose children were always perfectly clothed and groomed, their toys always pristine and neatly stowed. The one whose house always looked spotless and well decorated and organized. And, for a while, I was. In those one-child days, those baby days, I didn’t have a lot else going on. So I cared for the baby and cared for the house and the whole system worked.

But my baby grew (as they do). She started school and made friends and got invited to birthday parties and playdates and she started ballet class and life got busy. And then we added another baby (as people do). And we bought a bigger house to accommodate our growing family (so it goes). And suddenly, I had to make some choices. No longer could I have it all, do it all, make it all happen. I had to decide which was more important – spotless floors or afternoon walks with my son. Laundry that gets washed and dried, folded and put away all in the same day or family board game time after dinner. I had to find some help along the way, get some advice to guide me through the tricky parts (and, sometimes, the not so tricky parts) and then I had to figure out what worked best for me and my family.

I had to give up on supermom. I had to lose the cape.

front cover cropped

In their new book, Lose the Cape: Realities from Busy Modern Moms and Strategies to Survive, Alexa Bigwarfe and Kelly Rivera provide a series of tips, tricks, and strategies with a healthy dose of inspiration and humor. They are the good friends that remind you (loudly!) that you don’t need to be perfect while nonchalantly saving your sanity with helpful tips from the trenches.

In my motherhood, I’ve learned that the best cure for feeling overwhelmed by the pressure to do it all is an honest conversation with a good friend. I’ve also learned that I don’t know it all. That my fellow mothers who live this life day in and day out are figuring things out as they go along too. And we’re all learning at a different pace. Which means that I may have figured out a solid morning routine while my friend up the street has bedtime totally locked down. Which, of course means that we can compare notes and both get closer to doing what’s best for ourselves and our families. With honest acknowledgement of how hard this can be and straightforward tips for things like managing the family social calendar and finding ‘me’ time, Lose the Cape is one more good friend to add to your circle. The book also has several pages of resources at the end with everything from life planners to meal planning services.

But, most of all, the book shamelessly urges mothers everywhere to let the crumbs pile up if you need to. Skip laundry today if it’s just not happening. Embrace the chaos rather than fighting it. Lose the cape and enjoy the ride.

~~~~~

I received a complimentary copy of Lose the Cape. All thoughts an opinions are my own.

April 22, 2015
by Tricia
4 Comments

Sharing words

I’d forgotten what this feels like. I’d sort of forgotten that it can happen.

I’ve done a lot of writing this year but, for a few reasons, I have not done quite as much publishing in recent months. So I’d forgotten what it feels like to say something deeply personal and then have that something resonate with more people than I’d ever imagined. I’d forgotten the thing that I say all the time – that sharing words can make the world a better place.

On Saturday, a piece of mine, was published on Scary Mommy. I was busy with family in town that day and didn’t get to check in on things until late in the afternoon. By then, my words had already made an impact. People were commenting and every comment was amazing. Every single one. You know how rare a thing that is. I wanted to cry as I read, each comment was so supportive, so gracious. Each one shouted, ‘me too!’ and ‘all this time I thought I was the only one!’ Friends, I live to see those words in comments. Because it means that I’ve put words to something we all feel and, in doing that, we all get to feel just a little bit lighter.

I’ve said it before and I know it sounds trite but this was a piece I was pretty scared to release into the world. I was even more scared to share it. And the thing that really terrified me was to share it on my personal fb page with my friends and family. I write rather personal things all the time. But usually they are inherently focused on me (yes, indeed it is all about me). Sometimes they feature my kids. Occasionally I’ve mentioned my husband. But I’ve never written about our marriage. Somehow, sharing the struggles of raising a two-year-old is acceptable. Expected. Easy. But sharing the struggle of keeping a marriage together while raising that two-year-old (and his five-year-old sister), well that feels like an entirely different world. Struggling there feels more shameful. It feels more like the thing we shouldn’t talk about.

So I almost didn’t.

But, friends, this week I’ve learned that we have to talk about these things. Not talking about them doesn’t make them any easier. In fact, it makes them a million times harder. We need to talk about how hard it is to love and support in the middle of the war. We need to talk about how hard it is to remember how why you fell in love when that first meeting, that first kiss, that beautiful wedding day, they all may as well be a lifetime ago. We need to talk about how impossible it feels some days to maintain an adult relationship in the presence of small children. And then we need to remind each other to take the long view. To look forward, into the future. Because someday the children will be grown. Where do you want to be when that happens?

But mostly, we need to speak the truths because more often than not, they are truths that we all share. And sharing really does make a difference.

Thank you for sharing my words and sharing your stories with me.

~~~~~

linking up with Lisa for One Word

April 15, 2015
by Tricia
9 Comments

Yesterday was busy

Yesterday was busy.

Yesterday has been busy for quite some time now. 

  

Maybe you’ve guessed that. Maybe yesterday has been busy for you too for quite some time. The winter lull of schedules that never really happened and the swift pace of life in springtime. We’ve got friends and family and visits and excursions. We’ve got school almost over and summer almost here and vacations looming just over the horizon. We’ve got appointments and meetings and the never-ending stream of big decisions to make. (We’ve got the feeling that I’m free-writing my to-do list for you right now). I’ve got work. Lots of work. And projects. So many projects. It makes the part of me that always dreamed of being a successful freelance writer dance with glee. This is good, so good. It’s working. 

 But, you know, a day like yesterday, and yesterday’s yesterday, used to send me quivering. I’d be literally vibrating now with the excitement but also the anxiety and stress of it all. I’d be snapping and feeling like I’ve let my family life slide in this time of so much going on. I’d be worried about the sustainability of our schedules and this life and how do I make it all work? 

 But yesterday, I was ok. Today I am ok. 

 On my way home from a meeting the other day, I listened to an interview with Shauna Niequist. She was talking about her new book (officially added to my ever-growing list of books I want to read. Bread & Wine is sitting on my shelf too, waiting for me). In the podcast (and in the book as well, I’m sure) she said, “It is better to be with than to do for.” 

 It is better to be with than to do for. It’s just a collection of words that could be said and let to swiftly disperse into the air. They sound so nice and it doesn’t take a lot of thought to nod your head, yes, that is true. Honestly, it’s one of those phrases that I will often just nod my head thinking, yes, that exactly, that is what I needed to hear. But in the next second I typically move on with my busy life, forgetting the nugget of wisdom in the chaos of toddlers screaming beneath loud re-tellings of a kindergartner’s day. I actively seek out these nuggets all day long and regularly fail to grasp them long enough for them to make the impact that they need to. 

But not yesterday. 

 Yesterday I walked out of my office after my last meeting of the day and there was chaos. Kids having just arrived home running and shouting and vying for my attention. Husband making dinner and asking questions about ingredients. My own mind still swirling with the list of to-do’s I’d gathered in the meeting, bits of colleague’s feedback floating around. And suddenly, Shauna’s words passed through my heart and mind. 

It is better to be with than to do for. It is better to be with. Be with. 

 And so, I was with. I sat on the floor and let my little boy curl into my lap to play with his toys. I dutifully stood next to my daughter to dress Cinderella and Prince Charming for the ball. I sat on the couch and played hangman until Daddy capped off the game with ‘bedtime’ as the word and we all made our way upstairs.  I did a little for too, of course. This season of motherhood is still primarily do for with dinners to make and baths to give and things that rest on shelves too high for little people. There has to be more than a little do for in my life right now. 

But perhaps the do for should never come at the expense of the be with. 

~~~~~

Linking up with one word

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