Courageous Women

I am always personally drawn to the stories of tragedy and triumph in our Expressing Motherhood shows. I suppose I feel connected to them, in a way. We have had so many women share such deep, emotional and often times very raw pieces on stage, I’m left with them for weeks…with a literal feeling of exhaustion…experiencing them over and over through our many shows. I can hardly imagine how our performers feel when sharing these same stories night after night. (Look up Courage in the dictionary and you’ll find any of our performers listed there.)

Kim Hamer shared with us her experience of losing her husband to cancer while leading her three young children through it. She performed her piece perfectly on stage and lived the emotions all over again after stepping off stage.

Kim Hamer

Andrea Meyer read to us her experience through a somewhat late term miscarriage. Andrea is so gifted with her words, her pain felt like your pain…as if you were actually going through this yourself.

Andrea Meyer

Angela Alexander lost two children in a car accident…while she was out of the country on active duty in the military. She turned her tragedy into a ministry and is inspiring many, many other people to keep putting one foot in front of the other when all seems hopeless.

Angela Alexander

Mona King not only has sung about the craziness of driving a mini-van and leading a life of a marriage and three children, she sang a song during one run of our show about raising a child with severe disabilities. You would have to be inhuman to not feel the insane love she has for that child.

Mona King

Anissa Mayhew wrote a letter to two of her three children apologizing to them about the attention her third one got so often due to that child’s cancer. Anissa suffered a stroke shortly before our show and was unable to fly to Los Angeles to perform. I had the privilege of reading her letter onstage. Anissa is as strong as she is hilarious.

“Team Anissa.” They traveled to LA for the show.

And don’t forget Dana Bell….

Dana Bell

These mothers and so many more I’ve been blessed to meet through Expressing Motherhood, are amazing testimonies to strong, courageous, women.

There is one woman, however, that holds a story that I will truly never forget.

That story belongs to Beth Littleford.

Beth is a two time performer in EM. The first time she stood on our stage, she shared a little piece she called “Letter To My Son’s Future Therapist.” It was as funny as it sounds…but with a serious subject behind it…Postpartum Depression.

Beth and I after our closing night in her first EM show.

It was during that show Beth and I talked a lot back stage. We talked about grief, really. My own mothers death was not too far behind me at that point. She said she knew grief very well, but couldn’t talk about it…not because she didn’t want to but because she couldn’t.

When she came back to perform in the show again..she had found the courage, through healing, to talk about it. Beth lost her father and 12 year old younger brother in a terrible accident while the two of them were off to Alaska on an outdoors trip. Beth recalled detailed memories of the last few times she talked with her brother. At that point, her own son was approaching her brothers age when he died and the conflict of joy and sorrow was still overwhelming.

Beth was dealing with the grief as part a healing process. She was moving forward, sharing and indeed, healing. This is part of the reason why she decided to talk about it on our stage. And we are so glad she did.

I get it. The “sharing in order to heal” part of it.

There are so very many sides to all of the shows we’ve had to pleasure to put up. They are always filled with so many different women with hilarious stories of motherhood that have you rolling in the aisles to somber, humbling experiences like the ones above.

No matter which ones I’m identifying with at the time, I’m always glad we’re Expressing Motherhood.

And our next show will be…

In Hollywood baby!

Seriously, if you live in LA you have got to see “Sunset Boulevard” your jaw will drop at how little has changed.

We are excited to be back at The Elephant Theatre, one of the most recognizable names in the Hollywood theatre district, this time back in their biggest space, the Lillian, the beautiful 99 seat theatre. Twinkly lights got us.

Show Creators Jessica & Lindsay at the Lillian in 2009.

We will open up Mother Day’s Weekend, May 10th, 11th and 12th, with Friday and Saturday’s shows being at 8PM and our Sunday, Mother’s Day Show, being at 7:00PM.

Our Sunday Mother’s Day Show at 7PM will be a lot of fun. Please get your ticket early if you are interested, bound to go fast. 

 

We will run again the following weekend May 17th, 18th and 19th, again with 8PM shows on Friday and a 7PM show on Sunday.

Our rehearsals will be held May 8th from 10AM – 2PM and May 9th from 10AM – 2PM.

Submissions open up: Monday, January 14th and close Sunday, January 20th.

We look forward to reading your submissions.

 

Dana Bell

 

Do you know Dana Bell?

She’s beautiful. She’s strong. She’s a single mother of three. She’s performed in Expressing Motherhood. She is a sister, a friend, a colleague…a daughter.
She has breast cancer.

Dana at Expressing Motherhood

Maybe you don’t know the Dana Bell. But, I’m sure you know a Dana Bell. I certainly knew a Dana Bell. My mother was a Dana.

Our audience in January of 2011 had the distinct pleasure of hearing Dana tell her story on stage. Dana is an amazing woman. The courage she has still today and had nearly two years ago to stand in front of hundreds and talk about her diagnosis, is amazing.

Dana and her mother after her performance

More courage than I can stand. Courage that cuts to the very core of me as a woman, a mother, and someone who lost a dear loved one to breast cancer.

I remember our first rehearsal with the January 2011 cast. It was a hard one for me. When Dana rehearsed her piece for us, I sat listening as focused as everyone else in that room was. As she spoke, my tears fell ferociously while the memories of losing my own mother to breast cancer came alive.

When Dana stepped off that stage in our first rehearsal, I had to run to her. I hugged her while sobbing and she hugged me as tight as any mother would and told me it will all be fine. I knew…I KNEW…her children will be ok, no matter what happens.

Every woman who steps foot on the Expressing Motherhood stage does so with the knowledge that she’s exposing her true self and a moment in her life with strangers in seats. Dana’s story is so powerful, I am still drawn to tears while thinking about it.

Dana is doing okay. As alright as she can genuinely be.

She been living with stage 4 breast cancer for quite a while, I’d say she is exceptionally strong. Dana has been on my mind since our last show closed. A dear friend of hers came to see Expressing Motherhood in Burbank and filled me in on Dana’s current health status.

She needs prayers. Her children need prayers. Women everywhere who are fighting this thing they call breast cancer need prayers.

This is the list of women I know…or knew with breast cancer:
Mom. Susan, Sharon, Grandma, Carrie, Patty, Terrie, Santa, Terry, Jana, Gail, Phyllis, Theresa……Dana.

Way too many.

I will continue to raise money for this disease, because I can. Because I truly do believe cancer will one day be a ‘chronic disease’ we treat but live with. October is only one of the twelve months I consider “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”

And to all the Dana Bell’s I know….keep fighting the good fight. We are all behind you.

Ripe by Wendy Hammers

Expressing Motherhood has been lucky enough to have had people keep coming back to our show time and time again. It is always greatly appreciated when people in the Los Angeles theatre scene continue to do so.

Wendy Hammers is one of those people.

She’s passionate about theatre and story telling. She’s a mom to boot.

Wendy has her own show, “Ripe” which will be playing at The Greenway Court Theatre on Fairfax beginning this weekend.

Expressing Motherhood mamacitas will be going to see the show Sunday, October 28th. If you feel like getting out of the house and hanging out with some of come join us at Lola’s (a place I haven’t been since belly baring shirt were super in, ie early 2000’s) for a martini or food at 5PM. We can walk over to the theatre afterwards. If you are an Expressing Motherhood stalker come on down! Of course only the nice kind of stalker.

Tickets can be purchased online, just put in the word Ripe to search for her show. You can use the discount code Lolas to save $5 off the price of your ticket, which is $25.

 

A Whole New World…With Words.

Writing is my main source of creativity. My outlet.

Words mean an awful lot to me.

I LOVE words.

I love talking. I love listening. I love music, movies, poetry, television….I love writing…and there is no writing without reading.

The first novel I read as a very young child that blew me away was Where The Red Fern Grows. I remember being completely surprised at the emotion a page of ink could have. In my 30’s now, that memory still sits in a frame on the shelf in my mind.

Words. Wow.

I hadn’t ever put much thought into the beginning of understanding words for myself, and my mother isn’t here anymore for me to ask her, but when my eldest child went to kindergarten..when she learned to read… I cried.

Within the first few weeks of school, my daughter came home and showed me something. It was a pinwheel of beginner words that she pulled out of her backpack and started reading. My jaw dropped and tears filled my eyes. I called my husband at work and said “LISTEN TO THIS…SHES READING!”

We had been working on her phonograms, but when it all started coming together, I felt as if an entirely new world had just opened up to her.

Literally, a whole new world.
I’m playing off Disney here, but the scene in Enchanted when Giselle pops up into the new land through a sewer lid…..that’s exactly what I saw happening to my daughter in Kindergarten.

And now my son is there too.
It’s just so amazing. I’m watching my daughter as a seven year old write stories and read anything! I’m now witnessing it all over again in my 5 year old son who cant get enough and wants to try to read every word he finds.

Even my two year old…she knows her letters..she knows some of the phonograms..she knows they mean something.

They do.

These words…they mean something huge.

Words are powerful.

They can tear down..they can build up…they tell stories..they share how we feel..they can describe anything. Relationships can be built..or broken…with words. People can be judged..or praised…with words.

Words can be beautiful, detrimental, destructive, expressive, uplifting…creative.

Words are power.

And now my children have that power.

The New ExpressingMotherhood.com

Hi everyone, as I am sure you have noticed, we are making changes to the website.  Please bear with us as we iron out any kinks over the next few weeks.  We will be improving the design over time, but for now please enjoy the following:

  • Integrated blog and website so that you don’t have to leave expressingmotherhood.com to read our daily blog entries.
  • Integrated commented system so that you can comment on our stories.
  • More frequently updated content (most of what the new site does is on the back end…so while that is not visible to most of you, the new setup will allow us to do more with the site than we previously could)
  • Much more to come…

Enjoy!

Ho Hey

A guest post from recent performer JJ Keith.

JJ Keith

Driving home from the last show of Expressing Motherhood, I listened to “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers on repeat. I’d adopted the song as my unofficial anthem of Expressing Motherhood, despite the fact that Expressing Motherhood has an official anthem.

For weeks I’d been jarred by commercials for that new Clint Eastwood movie, the one that’s about baseball. Whenever it came on, I’d look up, thinking that that I was about to see an ad for something good. But alas, not only am I not a fan of Clint Eastwood, I despise baseball, and, as I am the mother of two toddlers, I rarely go to the movies. That’s three strikes and you’re out, Clint Eastwood Movie Whose Name I Can’t Remember. (That, there, was the most advanced baseball reference I could muster.)

At the first rehearsal for Expressing Motherhood, one of the interstitial songs stopped me. Each time it came on, I’d think, “What is this and how do I get it on my iPod? And why am I thinking about baseball and Clint Eastwood right now?” Clearly, I am a simple creature, easily trained by the most root Pavlovian influences. I eventually put it together that it was the same song in the commercial as in the show and gathered the wherewithal to search for it on iTunes, and then, as is my way, listen to it approximately 246 times on repeat. Gradually, I broke the association with Clint Eastwood. Instead it came to represent the experience of performing in Expressing Motherhood.

“So show me family / All the blood that I would bleed

Throughout the run of the show it didn’t escape my attention that I was performing an essay about my inability to connect with mothers…in a show in which I shared the stage with a dozen other mothers, all of with whom I now feel genuinely and unreservedly connected. The other performers were kind enough to not call me out on this dick move, which was just one of many acts of graciousness I enjoyed during the run of the show.

“I don’t know where I belong / I don’t know where I went wrong / But I can write a song”

Contrary to what I said on stage, mothers have more than one thing in common. Sure, it doesn’t aways feel like we’re one big, global village, especially in the beginning stages when mothers often cordon themselves into camps according their chosen parenting methodology. The power of Expressing Motherhood is in highlighting the commonality of our experiences. The other women’s pieces were either highly relatable or a window into my future as a mother, the terrifying future in which I’ll have to tell my kids about sex or, oh dear, drop them off at their college dorms.

“I belong with you, you belong with me / You’re my sweetheart”

In anthropological terms, mothering is a liminal space where we are neither the same person before we had kids, nor have we emerged at the other end. I don’t know what marks “the end,” certainly not dropping our kids off at college dorms. That’s a freaking long liminal space to be trapped in! But, as liminal spaces go, motherhood is a rich one, one worth exploring, or, er, expressing.

And thank goodness all us moms belong to one another, that we can craft spaces in which we can deal with the uncertainty of our lot. Because isn’t what all this comes down to is our lack of surety? The excruciating ambiguity of our role as mothers? We don’t have to divide ourselves according to how we discipline our children or whether or not we sleep train as many of us do at the beginning. Instead we can acknowledge the uncertainty and just sit with that until it feels normal.

I was unsure about Expressing Motherhood and what I’d get out of it given that I’m not a performer. But there is worth to standing behind my words, in person, and owning my initial discomfort at having been thrust into a community of mothers just by virtue of having a kid. Now, finally, I accept that I have more in common with other moms than the simple act of mothering. I am certain of few things, but I know this.

JJ Keith surrounded by part of her new “moms group” Malena Hougen, Kelly Redican and Elizabeth Jayne Liu.