It’s hard to believe, but in Spokane alone LTYM has 23 cast alumni. Last Friday, many of us crunched through the frozen snow to Elise’s cute, whitewashed front door and knocked below the bright red wreath.
Elise and I planned desserts and wine and conversation. We planned a little begging for help with our ever-growing Spokane show. What we didn’t plan three years ago, because it can not be planned or forced, is the community and connection between the women in our cast.
We are diverse; our stories are as different as we are, but the act of story telling and story sharing unites us. There was something else too – a feeling of motion and growth that was nurtured by – and sometimes even triggered by – being a part of Listen To Your Mother.
Annie Tegen came all the way from Seattle last year to read “Pick The Day,” a pretty, wistful piece detailing her struggle to explain to her daughter – and to herself – why having children prevented her from quitting her job and following a dream to work with wood. She wrote to Elise, Ann and I a week ago to tell us that a local carpenter agreed to take her as an apprentice and she asked her boss if she could work 60% time. Her boss said yes and just like that, Annie took a step toward the dream she first voiced in Spokane’s LTYM show a year ago.
“… don’t underestimate the power of ltym. It WAS the production that spurred the change. And gave me hope that I was, in fact, not stuck in quicksand. Saying it out loud made it permanent, real, possible, witnessed.” –Annie
Permanent. Real. Possible. Witnessed. Such powerful words.
Annie, working on a wood project with her daughter who encouraged her to “Pick the Day.”
Jeni Steeber, who read “Invisible Mother” in 2011 about her feelings of pain and invisibility as the birthmother in the adoption triad, also shared with us how LTYM changed her.
In 2009, when I made the painful decision to place my daughter for adoption, I was subject to intense criticism and judgment by not only those close to me, but by society in general. These people didn’t know my story and I felt it had to be told, not only for me, but for others having to make the same agonizing decision. LTYM allowed me to literally stand up and tell my truth. It was my way of speaking out against the naysayers that refused to listen as well as to educate others. I’ve been able to use the video taken of my piece as a resume of sorts to (hopefully!) help others, in terms of letting others know they’re not alone and to help shape others’ perception of who a birthmom really is. — Jeni
We need a new slogan. “LTYM: Making ALL mothers visible since 2010.”
In LTYM Spokane’s first year, Mindi Finch awed us into reverential silence with the story of her three-year-old son’s cancer diagnosis, “Diagnosiversary.” I heard her say a few times that LTYM “gave her back her groove” and in the days after the show she wrote this.
Friday night, with a glass of red in my hand, I finally had the chance to ask her to elaborate.
“Despite the fact that I had/have written through our family’s experience with childhood cancer, the act of SPEAKING a piece of it to an audience brought me back to a very essential part in the core of ME. It allowed me to see that despite this horrific thing our family is experiencing, I can still be the passionate advocate and community bridge that is me. The root of my passions have changed, yet the spirit that fires those passions can still burn strong. Shining through suffering and offering a beacon of light to fellow travelers.” — Mindi
The act of speaking. It is an act. An act of courage in many cases. An act of connection. An act of love. An act of shared laughter.
What’s keeping you from acting? Spokane is taking audition appointments and so are most other cities.