Expressing Motherhood in LA next month

Just in case you didn’t know, our stage show will be up and running next month, here in Los Angeles.

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We will be at The Banshee in Burbank this time and like totally don’t let the 818 factor get in your way. It’s just a hop over the Hollywood Hills and a stones throw from Studio City.

We will have convenient parking, Porto’s Bakery across the street and Eat Well right next door to us. As always, wine will be served inside.

If you see one of our postcards around time, snap a photo and hashtag it with #expressingmotherhood

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We will give you a free glass of wine or bottled water at the show. This show proves to be fun, titillating and of course make you sigh, but just a bit this time.

For the Love. Of No Money.

A post by Co-Creator Lindsay Kavet.

When Jessica and I started Expressing Motherhood back in 2008 it was an idea born out of a searing desire to be creative again.

 

 

I had a personal blog up, since 2006, talking about any and everything and I watched as a few other moms online began starting their own businesses. One friend in Seattle opened up a photography business. Another in Sioux Falls, SD started her own children’s clothing line. I kept feeling like there was something they had that I must not. Then I realized I really had nothing to lose. It would be our own money involved and I kept assuring Jessica that I couldn’t promise her, well anything other then a really good time.

So we rented a theatre. 

Just like that.

My mom flew in to help us sell tickets.

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We made cookies to sell at each show. Our opening night we had about 5 people in the audience and two taped off seats for an agent from some big LA agency. Yeesh. 

Never heard from the agent but the show resonated and the next show we did sold out.

Every single seat.

Every single night. 

And those have always been the people we’ve wanted to connect with.

By the next year we had taken it to NYC. And we sold out again. Every single night. 

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There have been times when people become interested in our show. Interested in making money off of it. But I guess, honestly, that hasn’t been our goal.

I shut down my personal blog and shied away from bloggers.

Sometimes I have become frustrated with my own lack of time, having given birth to two children since 2008. And sometimes I get frustrated at my own 13 year-old althernative self who says “F#$ that I don’t have to do what you tell me.”

I had a theatre booked in the summer 0f 2011 and I was going to hold an open mic night. But being 9 months pregnant and having Jessica out of town I physically knew it would not work out. 

This show could continue on forever at the pace it has been going and I will feel fulfilled. 

Sometimes, yes, frustrated that I might not have done x,y and z. But I’ve never been an x,y and z kind of girl.Image

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Patrick Caneday

PATRICK CANEDAY is an award-winning columnist whose Small Wonders column appears in several Los Angeles area newspapers. His book “Crooked Little Birdhouse: Random Thoughts on Being Human” was a finalist in the 2012 Next Generation Indie Books Awards. Patrick works full time in the entertainment industry and writes his column in the wee hours of the morn before another manic day sets in. He’s not a journalist or trained writer. He’s just a working man and parent trying to make sense of fatherhood, culture, society and himself. Read more atwww.randomthoughtsonbeinghuman.com.

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I can do pony tails, but my braids are painful and sloppy. 
   

I have 2 daughters whom I love and adore more than it is possible to describe. Sometimes I can pass as a parent. Sometimes my efforts are like my braids.
   

The day started like any other Sunday. Wake up, watch TV, Fruity Pebbles, cartoons. “What are we going to do today?” they ask.”Go to church,” I respond. Whine, complain, relent. Get dressed, change clothes, brush teeth. Change clothes. Change clothes. Change clothes.

It was a blustery day. Cloudy, slight drizzles, windy. The sermon came from a section commonly referred to as the “Hall of Faith,” wherein every sentence begins with “By faith…” and goes on to describe the amazing things a procession of biblical figures did by simply living through faith. In other words, people that threw off the Bell Curve for the rest of us.
  

The topic was Moses’ parents and how their faith in just the first few months of his life established a stronghold in him. The bible is a little fuzzy about what else this guy Moses did with the rest of his life.

The clouds blew away that afternoon, and the sky was blue as blue can be. With a good breeze going, it was the perfect day to fly a kite. The girls were overjoyed at the thought. They usually are when the day takes them to Toys R Us. We packed up a cooler full of drinks and snacks and set out with visions of this being one of those moments in a family’s life that would be a benchmark for happiness. Years later they would recall it with rapturous joy, “remember that day that Daddy took us to fly kites” they would say in dreamlike tones. They would thank me in their acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in Aerodynamics, “it all started that day my Dad took me to fly a kite…”

We bought our kites: Tinkerbell, an owl and a WWII Fighter Plane. Guess which was mine. We then went to the wide open field at a local park. They played on the jungle gym while I assembled the kites. As usually happens when a boy tackles a project to build or destroy something, I was engrossed. So much so that I paid no attention to the clouds moving in. Looking back now, they moved in a direction I’ve never seen clouds move, as if they had a purpose. 

The Tinkerbell kite was built and off went the 5 year-old, running and screaming with joy. Exactly the scene I pictured. I assembled the owl and off went the 7 year-old, equally happy. It was all coming together. A parent’s dream: happy children playing outdoors in perfect harmony.

 Now I could focus on my fighter plane, an intricate craft that required much attention to detail. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the girls’ kites soaring and falling, soaring and falling. I interrupted my kite building several times to get them back in the air. The magic of this moment was slowly draining from their eyes, the way it does when kids realize something is not as easy as it looks on TV. Perseverance is a trait that comes later in life. At least that’s something my mother told me recently.

Just as I was finishing my kite, eager for takeoff, I felt the first drop of rain and willed myself to ignore it. This was not so easy because my mind was equally occupied trying to ignore the fact that the temperature had dropped to near freezing.     

   

Right when I launched my kite, first one daughter then the other came sulking back asking to go home. With hands full on my own kite, I tried to delay them. “Keep running. It’ll get your kite back in the air and warm you up.”
     

But it was too late. They were done and there would be no convincing them otherwise. Their cries increased. My kite had just taken wing, a streak of blue fighting back an angry sky. The wind picked up, as did the crying. Kites, streamers and string were everywhere. Tinkerbell was grounded and tangled. The wise old owl was silent. But I was not done.
   

I snapped. “Can’t you just try to have a good time?” Rhetorical questions are lost on little ones.
   

“I want to go home,” was the sulking refrain back. 
   

I commanded them to sit down and be quiet. My voice sounded like my father’s in the rare moments I’d heard him angry. And it scared me.  
   

I looked to the sky for peace and assistance but only saw my fighter plane crash to the ground.
   

As I stuffed everything into the cooler, including the kites and my sunglasses, I got in one last shot. “All we try to do is show you guys a good time. Try to keep you entertained and make you happy. I guess all you want to do is stay home and watch TV.” And there was a silence so thick.
   

Then, just as we were packed and ready to get back in the car, I heard a whisper. “Thank you, Daddy, for trying to show us a good time. We love you.” 
   

Quick and to the heart.
   

As we marched to the car, I was still mad. But my anger was turning entirely inward. In the car I heard sniffles from the back seat. Then a tiny voice said, “Daddy, are you mad at us?”
   

“No,” I replied through the swelling in my throat. “I’m mad at myself.”
   

“Why, Daddy?”
   

“I just wish I were a better father.”
   

The guilt is strong in my family, uncontrollable, used like a switch but cutting so much deeper. Crocodile tears flowed, and I felt like the lowest form of scum on earth. 
   

The whole event lasted no more than 10 minutes from the time we started building the kites to the point that we drove off in tears. I fear, as would any parent, that the event may last a lifetime in their memories. Something for which I will be paying their therapist and mine for years to come.
   

At home we sat on the couch, defeated, demoralized and spent. They nuzzled up close, unafraid of the big scary monster, a child on each side in the crooks of my arms. They fit perfectly in there, like we were all designed to fit together, so comfortable. Tears streamed down my face now, and I summoned an apology from somewhere deep inside my soul. They looked at me with enormous, forgiving blue eyes and told me it was OK. They smiled and, like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes. It was perhaps the most grown up conversation I’ve ever had.
   

Of course by this time the clouds had cleared and the day was as crisp and beautiful as it had been just an hour earlier. Never fails. 
   

We spent the rest of the day outside, the kids playing, doing a dance recital just for me. Me, watching them with such wonder and awe, licking my wounds, amazed at a child’s enormous capacity for forgiveness. 
   

Humble ourselves like little children. Another one of those bible figures told us to do that. And now I know why.

Jessica Cribbs

Jessica Cribbs is the Co-Creator/Producer of Expressing Motherhood. She moved to LA 9 years ago from Michigan. She lives in Burbank and is raising 3 kids. The Rose Run is a charity run she began in Michigan in honor of her mom, Rose, who passed away in 2009 from breast cancer. 

 

When I became a mother for the first time, many things surprised me. For example, having contractions during nursing for a few days. That was awful. Or how about how you truly feel when a good night’s sleep is 3 hours in a row. I probably would have been nicer if someone had just stomped on my foot with cleats…the metal ones. Oh, wait, I know…waking up one morning and looking in the mirror and truly to the bottom of your heart not recognizing who you’re looking at. That one threw me for a loop.

 

Jessica with her first baby over at Co-Creator Lindsay’s house.

It took me a little less than a year before I was no longer able to recognize myself. It would have been totally awesome if the reason I didn’t know who I was, was because I had dropped 50 pounds and was suddenly tan. Not even close. There is no baby book out there that could have prepared me for the shocking identity crisis I was left with.

It’s been 7 years since that first baby was born, I’ve had 2 more since then and I still sometimes have a hard time figuring out who I am now. Yes, I know I am a mother. I am a wife..a caretaker..an occasional writer..a show producer..a race director..a friend..a sister..a daughter.

Jessica in NYC when she put on Expressing Motherhood there in 2010. Morning sickness had just ended for Lindsay and as they were on the plane back home it kicked in for Jessica. She wore her sunglasses the entire flight.
Jessica directing the annual Rose Run back in Michigan.

But who is Jessica now? Several things have contributed to this moment of me evolving into the person I am. My parents divorce. Having children and the death of my mom.

 

What I struggle with most, as I hear a lot of other mothers do, is the strong internal fight I have with myself. If people had bought tickets to a fight in my head, there would be two very strong opponents. In one corner of the ring.. there would be me, happy to be in the home taking care of things..my husband, my children, my house. I like this part. I really, really do. The domestic me would have a glass of wine, folding clothes while the three kids dramatically decorate the living room with every single toy they own. And I love it.

 

But in the other corner of the ring would be me, who has taken a shower. I would have just finished the book I want to write and unloaded all of the photos I had taken on my whirlwind trip through Europe. Ok, that’s not entirely true, but it’s the creative self who has a strong desire for output. Thats the part of me that needs more time devoted to it in order to thrive.


And this is where the struggle lies. I truly, truly don’t want to miss these years with my kids while they’re young. However, I constantly feel that my own desire for creativity conflicts with my desire to be domestic. I wish there was a way I could set that creative self of mine up on the shelf for just a couple of years until the littlest one gets into school. I wish I could do that. But the Jessica I know, needs it. She needs it to complete the circle of being whole. If I weren’t creative, I’d have certainly sent my children to the moon by now.

I suppose until I get it all balanced out…I’ll just have to keep doing things like this with my kids..

 

 

Expressing Motherhood Contest: Look For Us Around Town

Jessica, the cast and I have begun putting postcards up around LA. If you see one of them pick it up, snap a photo of it in the picture and post it. Put the hashtag #expressingmotherhood and you will get a free glass of wine or bottle of water at our show next month.

Today a mom, Gigi,  who used to be in theatre but has just opened up a very cute kids clothing boutique, It Takes a Village, in Montrose played along and let me take a photo of her in front of her cute store. Gotta love theatre people, up for it all!

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This is when the rushed male voice comes on and says *limit one per person **no serious side effects

Holly Hughes

Holly Hughes is a mom who left LA for a quieter life in NC. The day she was packing up to move I emailed her and said we’d like to have you be in our show. So she flew back to LA for two weeks after she moved to perform in our show, here in LA. She is a producer who left film and television production behind to pursue her own dream. She is currently working on my first Young Adult novel. She has one daughter and you can read more of Holly’s thoughts here. 

I’ve hit that point in the process of writing my first YA book where I’ve fallen out of love. Like any long term relationships it has ups and downs. This is normal. I checked in with Samantha Dunn to make sure. I didn’t trust myself. I would have asked Kimberely Griffiths Little to hold my hand through my neurotic moment, but she is very busy with her own revisions to her books that I didn’t want to bog her down with my shit.

I’ve had a disappointing week. I didn’t win the Pen Parentis Fellowship. I haven’t heard back from two different magazines about essays I submitted, I sent a short story out to Cricket and I check my mailbox every day for my SASE, and I ventured into WriteOncon and my stuff didn’t get the attention of any ninja agents, or much feedback in general and my ego is screaming HEY YOU! PAY ATTENTION TO ME! WHY AREN’T YOU NOTICING ME? PLEASE LOVE ME, I NEED YOU TO FALL IN LOVE WITH LIFE-LIKE!

Instead of accolades I’ve had to deal with the reality that writing is brutally hard often isolating work. This stack of paper represents the last four months of work. The pile depicts two binders containing drafts of LIFE-LIKE.As you can see, it’s four inches thick. And that doesn’t include all the paper I’ve recycled. At first this amount of writing felt like an accomplishment, however after putting my manuscript down for two weeks and letting an editor correct my grammatical errors I picked it up and read it through, as a book on the printed page, and the feelings of achievement were replaced with doubts. I looked at all those pages and the years of work they represent and thought, this stinks.

All I saw was a flaw. I always felt a lull in the writing at a certain point, I felt myself run out of steam, and as a reader with fresh eyes the lull screams at me, “Hey Holly, this sentence isn’t as good as the rest. It has to be. Get back to it.” Or in the ever brilliant words of Tod Goldberg, “This part of your story doesn’t suck. You must write it all on that level.” (he said that to me way back when in 2004 when I was working on a short story) I think it’s good that I can recognize weakness in my work but now I had to figure out how to make it better.

I paced, watched sad movies, then I watched action movies, did errands and even folded the laundry but nothing came to me. I read and reread the offending chapters. And I pinpointed where the changes would have to come in the book. I understood I must up the ante, increase tension and drama and that is difficult to write. I do know enough about my process to accept that I layer one thing(character development, plot, setting) in at a time per draft. I was happy to see the changes I made previously are consistent throughout the book. But they are too consistent. Who wants to read that?

My self-pity and the realization of how much work I have to do led me to self loathing.

And then I figured out one idea that can be turned into a scene that will change everything. Now I have to write it. And I have to write at least three to five chapters that carry that momentum forward before the emotional end. And I’m begging my imagination and my guides and God to help me do it now. I want all the ideas to flood in and I want my fingers to have difficulty keeping up with the story, but that isn’t happening.

That’s when doubt came along and sat next to my computer screen and stared at me. See him? He’s a crabby little bugger. Doubt is trying to convince me I can’t do it. I can’t fix the story or sell it. I think I’m going to have to show that crafty bugger he’s wrong. I’ve got to go. LIFE-LIKE is calling to me. We have unfinished business.

 

Jen Samonte Valencia

Jen Samonte Valencia is a San Diego mom raising 4 kids. She has a new blog. Here is a quick overview of her  

Mom, wife, lover, fighter (a cage fighter, actually), corporate trainer, dancer, passionate competitive control freak, double egg dropper.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said “A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.” Like strength, creativity sometimes blossoms in times of necessity… as in “I haven’t showered in two days and I NEED to find a creative way to preoccupy the twins for 5 minutes” or as in, “I NEED a creative way to hide the fact the four children have Sharpie marked all over hubby’s favorite painting.”

I had four children in the span of four years (the twins were an accident. I was nursing and on the low-dose pill. Don’t judge me). Before the fierce four came along I was did creative things, but in that “very bland run-of-the-mill creative” kind of way. I did crafty things like scrapbooking, photography, and many years of classical dance all the way through graduate school. But now that my household is a six-pack, my creativity soars simply because in a household with four small kids, you have to think outside the box and be creative to survive.

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Now that I have a litter of kids, my creativity is expressed in a myriad of ways. I sew, I bake, I take pictures (not well!). I teach Zumba fitness classes so I can choreograph. I practice jiu jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts (yes, cage-fighting) because the sport is an art in its own right. I write. And I write. And I write. Writing affords me the luxury of expressing things that are sometimes too scary to say aloud. I finger-paint. I decorate superhero shaped cookies. I make up choreography to Yo Gabba Gabba songs. I wear a costume and become “Mommy Dentist” at nighttime when it’s time to floss and brush. How am I creative post-kids? I think the real question is: How am I not creative post-kids?

How is all this creative activity happening between the kids’ jiu jitsu, dance lessons, piano, and homework, not to mention my own activities (working at a biotech as a trainer, teaching Zumba and barre fitness classes, teaching public speaking classes at the Design Institute, exercising, cooking, cleaning—ok, not really cleaning, because I never do… and being an attentive and loving wife)? Having children has made me realize that creativity isn’t something we “make time” for. Being original and creative is something that can be practiced all the time, everyday, expressed in what we say, how we dress, how we think, and who we are. Do I want to be a boring June Cleaver mom that cooks, cleans, and probably cries in the car when no one is watching? Or do I want to be a crazy out of the box mom that embarrasses you by starting flash mobs in Costco, sews you a monogram skirt, teaches you how to play the Star Wars theme on the piano, cuts your hair in a twin-hawk, then turns around to kick someone’s ass in the cage (and definitely cries in the car when no one is watching)? I opt to be the latter.

The truly phenomenal thing is that I am able to be that crazy creative mom because my children have taught me that it’s ok not to be like everyone else and to act on my creative impulses. Having children has elevated my capabilities to be creative all the time. Having children helps me achieve things that I never thought were possible. Having children forces me to think outside the box, get creative, and be OK with uncomfortable. If we can somehow learn from our children to embrace our impulses to act on creative thought, and to encourage, not just tolerate the original thought of others, the world would be a much more colorful place.

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Polly Mae Tolonen

 

This is written by Expressing Motherhood Co-Creator/Director Lindsay Kavet.

Living in Los Angeles I am surrounded by people pursuing their creative passions. In my 20’s I was a starving actress. Great diet BTW. At 25 I stopped going on auditions and began returning to behind the camera where I was most comfortable.

I was lucky enough to meet a wonderful friend when I was 22 doing extra work for a show called Opposite Sex.

Polly Mae Tolonen a beautiful young woman pursuing acting. Polly had the longest legs ever and an incredible gift for listening and making everyone feel special. She was also a gifted actrress.

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Polly and I came from similar backgrounds and unknowingly I made her my chosen family. She was my soul sister. I would show up to watch her perform and people would run backstage and tell Polly, “your sister is here.” We looked alike.

 

Ironically we had a little tiff over the peach dress since we both had this dress in different colors and both wanted to wear it to our friends wedding. We should have just both worn it and danced and drank the night away, well we did that part 🙂

Polly continued acting when most women have given up, packed their bags and moved back to where they came from. She continued doing live theatre around LA. She is the one who recommended the first theatre we ever debuted “Expressing Motherhood” at.

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Polly over at my house when I was pregnant with my first.

 

 

She died one month before our first show on May 1st, 2008. She died in a car accident on the 101 North going to a catering gig. She stopped traffic that night. Literally. No one else was hurt.

 

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Polly, Producing partner Jessica, me and some other friends having brunch and talking about books.

 

Ironically, in January 2008, 4 months before her death, I began emailing news heads and producers saying that we need to do more to lower the amount of lives lost in car accidents. I would end everyone email with the sentence fortunately I do not know anyone who has died in a car accident yet.

I started a blog about car accidents but due to my other time commitments I have yet to devote my time to it, but it lies very close to my heart as I’m frightened by the amount of people who die in car and find it ridiculous we accept it as OK.

Anyways, Polly was a true friend and a fun creative companion. I was always doing photo shoots with her. A few months before she died we walked from my neighborhood and went to Hollywood Blvd. with my boy in the stroller and she let me snap pictures of her I thought I could use for Expressing Motherhood.

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When she died I thought a lot of things obviously and ridiculously or not I thought, who will play dress up with me now? She was true to her craft. A real artist.

We begin every show with the song “Sara” by Fleetwood Mac in memory of Polly. Our muse and my big city soul sister.

When that song plays I’m always backstage in the blue lighting dancing thinking of her and putting things in perspective.

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Polly walking back to her studio after a wonderful afternoon of walking Hollywood Blvd. and taking pictures.