A fellow LA mom, friend and decorator Julie Goldman, is going to be the featured buyer on Kings Lane this Sunday. It’s called the “Tastemaker Tag Sales,” Curated selections from leading design visionaries. Hello awesome!
I’m excited for her and wanted to share. I enjoy watching fellow moms create new creative paths.
LA mom Shannon Noel is no stranger to Expressing Motherhood. We’ve been lucky enough to have had her talent as part of our show for years now. Shannon was also the friend who started the ExMo Challenge with me over wine and food in July. She’s awesome and we are delighted to have her in our Chicago show.
This is me and boys – we love cowboy boots.
Where do you live, how many kids do you have, ages?
I live in Silverlake, an awesome little neighborhood in the hills not far from downtown Los Angeles. I have a 3 year old son named Riley and a 4 year old son named Booker.
How are you creative post children? How has it changed since pre-baby?
Pre-babies I performed sketch comedy, improv and stand up all over Los Angeles. Most of my shows didn’t even begin until 9 or 10pm at the earliest. And then there was a lot of hanging out afterwards until the very wee hours of the morning. It was a lot of fun but these days if my boys are asleep (which is rare) I like to be asleep as well. I find that writing on my own time is much more conducive to my working mom schedule. When Stacie and I plan ourI’m Not From Here But My Kids Are shows we always consider our audience – mostly moms – and try to have them out the door no later than 10!
This is my gang! This picture makes me so happy. We have a lot of fun.
When do you find time to create?
My commute to work is an hour each way. I do a lot of creating while on this drive. You can see me pulled over to the side with my notebook and pen on any given morning. If by some miracle my boys go to sleep before 9pm, I try to write until I just can’t keep my eyes open anymore.
I got an e-mail from a former writing teacher, Amy Friedman. She had heard about the show and knew that I was focusing my efforts on “writing what you know” ie; breast pumps and pacis – so thought it would be a good fit for me. She was right! It has been a life changer for me. I really want to thank her for that first e-mail!
Do you have a background in acting/writing?
Yes. I have been performing and writing in some capacity since I was 8 years old, when I played the role of Hildegard Hamcocker, a toothless, singing, town flirt in the school play. When I heard my brother, who never laughs at anything, laugh at something I said on stage, I was hooked. I love the theater. Honestly, I cannot imagine my life without it. I’m still singing but luckily I still have my teeth.
What creative projects are you up to?
I’m doing a lot of work on my blog, www.lullabiesformommy.com. I really love this outlet and want to get more active on my site. I’ve been doing it for 4 years but am still very much a beginning blogger. Stacie Burrows and I are having a blast writing songs for our next I’m Not From Here installment. We have so much fun creating together it’s ridiculous. She really is my comedy soul mate and I cannot imagine my life without her. She also has (energetic) 2 boys and is my mommy mentor! We are both Southern too and we like our cowboy boots and mason jars – I’m will be forever grateful to ExMo for introducing me to one of my best friends. I also love to create and write with Lindsay for her Fix the Toaster Blog. Her passion for road safety is contagious and I am so happy to be a part of her movement. I’m a contributor on Felicity Huffman’s WhattheFlicka.com as well. My goal for this next year is to write more!
This is a benefit of my day job at the Geffen Playhouse. Who doesn’t love this guy?
My boys and Stacie’s boys enjoying a feast during a camping trip we took together last summer!
These are my superheroes!
Another benefit of my day job. I was the assistant to the Producer of this Oscar show. He’s one of my faves! Super fun!
As I mentioned in a previous post, I have broken up with sugar….for the most part. Sugar is so addictive to me…mostly in the Snickers bar form, and so far..I’m doing ok.
Over this summer spent in Michigan, I gained 10 pounds. You read that right. “Oh, but Jess..you don’t look like it.” Is what I’ve gotten from a few friends.
But, I’ll tell you. I have. And I feel it. I’m officially 45 pounds overweight. Or in layman’s terms, obese.
Yes, I know. I’m muscular and carry my weight a little different, so obese doesn’t exactly describe me…but heavy, curvy, pear shaped, unhappy and unhealthy all do.
I decided to join Shannon and Lindsay on their conquest to take on a challenge. The Expressing Motherhood Challenge (#ExMoChallenge).
On the way home from Michigan, my driving partner was my Aunt Julie. Julie is a farm girl..and when I say farm girl…I mean farm girl. The vegetable kind.
Julie is my aunt by marriage. She and my mother’s brother have been married for 34 years. (It actually might be 36). I haven’t really ever known my Aunt Julie in my adult life. She’s the quiet type and since I’m not, I probably seem unwelcoming, or overbearing, whatever you want to call it. Julie actually gave me my first job at 14, working at her local grocery store.
I digress…Julie and my mother knew each other for a long time. I know she was heartbroken when mom died…and if my very cloudy memory served me right, Julie was in the room with us as my mother slipped away. In my eyes, she changed. Something softened in her…I know my mothers death had a certain kind of impact on her that I’m not sure she’d ever talk about… with me anyway. The truth is, is she reminds me a lot of my mom. Her sense of humor, her hardworking nature, her understanding and patience with the kids…and especially her ability to laugh at herself. My mom was really, really good at that.
Back to the salad.
On the drive home, I packed some snacks…you know, Hershey Kisses, Snickers Mini’s and Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups. With full intention of eating them. But, I didn’t. (FYI..those were my snacks..not the kids’.)
Julie doesn’t eat grains. She eats a lot of vegetables and nothing processed. Or as little processing as possible. She inspired me.
If nothing else, I walked away from our trip together with a love for a new kind of salad. The kind with no dressing. What my Aunt does, is smash a full avocado on the bottom of a plate and then builds her salad on top of it. Voila!
I didn’t think I’d like it either. But I do. I really do. I’ve been eating them every day since she’s left.
Tonight as I slowly followed my 2 year-old, wearing only a diaper daughter outside, I told her it was not time to play, it was time to come inside.
No, she told me.
Her eyes, narrowed and sparkled, followed by a smile.
Good, I thought, tell me no.
She then careened down the driveway pushing a toy fast with a little rebel yell.
Right after that I made the kids come inside knowing that I don’t want to raise a child who doesn’t listen. But when I think of some of my friends who didn’t listen, if I am really, really honest with you, they had a lot more fun then me.
And, I must also admit, they have turned into pretty well adjusted adults.
I was a “good girl.”
I was very mature. I listened and obeyed. I never questioned. Never. Not even in college.
It actually wasn’t until meeting my husband that I began to question authority and what someone was spitting out at me something they titled, a fact. My husband is Jewish and was brought up in a family where it was OK to argue his point. It wasn’t really arguing, ironically. It was discussing ideas.
I was brought up to sit up straight at the table and not talk with your mouth full.
There was never debate.
But there were arguments.
I have only met a few souls who I have deemed truly untamable. I remember watching them, enviously, when I was a teenager, interacting with their parents. The playful way in which they would interact. I think possibly, their parents didn’t think what they were doing was perhaps bad and again these are people who are now great adults.
I was told over and over again at how “good” I was by adults.
But the problem I’m finding is that I’m feeling, too often, bad.
I cry to my husband, I don’t know who I am.
It’s OK, he gently tells me, you can figure it out, I’ll love you who ever that is.
I want to rebel, only I’m not too old, but I have lots of little lives that depend on me. My rebellion is coming in small, possibly ridiculous to you ways. For example, I don’t care if my kids say fart.
My husband was brought up in a family where curse words held little power. My 71 year-old mother in law tosses around the f word as if were no big deal.
Why should I care if my kids giggle hilariously over talking about poop? What the hell do I care about that?
I care far greater over the way my son treats other children. And by the way, when my 3 year-old started saying “Fuck it poopy man” I’m pretty sure he learned that from me and not Diego.
I wish I hadn’t spent so much time trying to be good.
I wish I had stayed out later.
I talked to another woman recently who was a “good girl” just like me.
Under a beautiful setting LA sun we realized we came from similar upbringings.
We were the girls trying so hard to be good because other things were happening that were, well, bad.
Sometimes I find myself, relentlessly, riding my oldest son, who reminds me a lot of myself at that age. Wanting him to mind his table manners. I find myself confused by his abrasive ways of stating his opinions, clashing with my upbringing.
More then being good, I want my son to be happy. More then being good, I want him to care deeply about others.
I cringed lately when my husband said, “I had been so good about working out,” recently. Don’t call me good, I spat in my head.
About a year ago, we were at my son’s graduation from a class. A balloon maker was there.
As the children kept jumping up and down the balloon maker kept saying, “Please, sit down, be good like that little boy,” and he pointed to my son.
Yet, he kept giving the balloons to the other children who made more noise or refused to sit.
After 10 minutes I wanted to scream at him, give my child a fucking balloon!
Finally, he gave my child a balloon.
I hissed to my husband, “What is the point of being good?”
Perhaps this is deeply cynical and unapologetically tidy.
But like I said, I’m going through a rebellious streak.
I found the experience really pretty damn enjoyable.
I have been experiencing a year of a lot of anger this last year.
We all have our stuff we go through and for some reason I’d been sailing through it and perhaps it was because I had two babies back to back I just skated over it. But once I stopped moving my anger has taken ahold of me.
I have progressively been drinking a little too much and exercising not enough. Feeling guilty leaving the kids to go exercise, even though I do leave them at times of course, but I just took on too much this last year, combined with some major life changes and I call it my year of rage.
Leaving me in not the best state to be a mother.
So I was happy to have talented, humble and positive Shannon say, let’s do it.
I have found that I really enjoy getting really sweaty on a stationery bike, set to loud music, with a disco ball at 8AM.
I am the least flexible person in yoga class but I like the mellow vibe it gives me.
I’ve discovered I can have great nights out with friends while drinking coffee and not alcohol.
And I’ve discovered I still haven’t figured out exactly what is eating at my heart but I’m working on it.
My #exmochallenge will continue because I have been feeling better and I want to continue that.
Even if whatever is at the bottom of this scares me, I need to keep figuring out what makes me happy.
I will admit to have a glass of wine tonight. But I want to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I felt better. I have only lost 2 measly pounds but my clothes fit me drastically differently and I’m not bloated anymore. For me this will be ongoing.
I have incredible role models to look up to in my family. And of course I have incredible little people looking up to me.
Read about upcoming Chicago performer Kendra Pinkelman below. We’ve been lucky enough to have had her in our LA and Boston show. She also came out to support us at our NYC show. Gal is our #1 Groupie and we are thankful for her.
Where do you live and how many kids do you have?
I live in Toledo, Ohio and have for the last 14 years. I have two children, Lilly, age 11, and Sam, age 8. We are also in process of adopting a boy, age 8.
How are you creative post children? How has it changed since pre-baby?
Before children, my extent of creativity was writing in my SARK journal, trying desperately to put all the feelings I had into something magical. Post-baby it wasn’t until Jessica Cribbs shared her involvement with Expressing Motherhood that I remembered there was anything creative within me at all! I have continued to write here and there, but it’s really my submissions for the show that spark me to be diligent with my writing and stay with it.
When do you find time to create?
Being a stay-at-home mom for the last 12 years should afford me tons of time to be creative, right? Unfortunately, I often use my time in other ways. I think that setting aside time to write is crucial and it’s something I don’t do often enough. I had a blog for a few years, but some days I would go to post and just freeze. So now, when an idea hits me, I write. Even if it’s a beginning sentence it’s something that could grow down the road.
How did you hear about Expressing Motherhood?
I saw Jessica Cribbs, my friend from high school, in January ’09. Jess told me all about Expressing Motherhood and I told her I could write a book with all the mothering stories I had. She suggesting submitting a piece, so I did! With my second child I suffered from extreme postpartum struggles, and writing about that time was so freeing. Then, actually being on stage sharing it OUT LOUD changed me forever. Our rehearsals were like therapy and I loved it. I then submitted for Boston in Fall ’10 and the magic continued. It’s an elite club of amazing women I am humbled to be part of!
Do you have a background in acting/writing?
Besides acting in high school productions (which I loved!), no. As far as writing…absolutely none! My degree was in Family Community Service and I worked in juvenile delinquency and the only things I wrote were behavior plans and incident reports.
What creative projects are you up to?
Recently, my creative outlets have been limited, but I thank Expressing Motherhood for coming to Chicago as it has ignited the love of writing once again. I feel writing can really take all the junk I have in my head and put it somewhere else so I can sort through it.
A couple of months ago, a dear friend Facebooked me and said this…..
“I wanted to ask you, as you seem to have the expert status on this–do you have suggestions or ideas on how to get young kids involved in volunteer work/charitable giving? I really want to start, I think my little one is at the perfect age, but I’m just not sure where to begin. We are not church people, so it’s not something we can do through a church or anything, but you are always doing such amazing things with your kids and I thought you may be able to lead me in the right direction.”
First of all, I want to make it clear that my children are as selfish and whiny as any of yours….and Facebook can make anyone look like a champion parent. It’s just harder to post the crappy moments, ya know, due to the embarrassment and all.
It just so happened that the day she wrote this email to me, my husband and I had just returned back from feeding the homeless at a local shelter, with our two older children in tow. Her timing was perfect because giving was on my brain….and so was how to explain to a 5 year old what the ‘N’ word means after his small ears overheard the crazy woman in the middle of the street screaming it to a young black man coming in for some food. My boy literally turned to me and said,
“Mom. What does N***er mean?”
Sorry, I can’t even type it, as it makes me cringe.
Oh, the opportunity for life lessons are everywhere.
I emailed my friend back a response and in the middle of it, I told her I felt a blog post coming on…so, here it goes.
I don’t claim to actually know (or accurately execute) the first thing about how to create loving, kind, giving children, as I, myself sometimes surprise myself in my own selfish, egotistical ways. But, my first suggestion is to take it very slow and don’t have high expectations of some breakthrough in the child’s understanding of the need to serve others.
Children are selfish by nature and have a hard time looking outside their own lives…and that’s as it should be and all natural. It takes time.
I do think there are several things you can do with the little ones.
Have a lemonade stand or a “toy yard sale” and give 50% to a local charity. I say 50% for kids, because it would be hard for little ones not to hang onto some of it, and it’s ok. My kids, when they earn money, know that they divide into thirds…some for saving, some for spending and some for donation. The sale might add up to not more than 5 bucks, but it’s perfectly fine. It gives you opportunity to plant little seeds for growth. The #LemonAidForOK Stand we did for the tornado was 100% to charity, and my kids had a hard time for 5 minutes about that…but we talked it through and they were willing to give it all up. It takes time.
Pay attention to neighbors and friends…if anyone is ill…husband out of town, elderly neighbors who live alone, friends who’ve just had babies….make them a dinner and have the kids help you…and write a note or a picture. This gives you opportunity to talk about paying attention to those around you and doing things for others without being asked.
Sponsor a child. If you can find it in your household budget, do this. You can even help your child earn money around the house to help pay for this, talk about a sense of accomplishing something! World Vision and Compassion are two of the biggest, most successful ways to do this, but there are others out there.
Call the local Children’s Hospital and see if they need gently used toys for any wards in the hospital. Have the kids choose 3 toys of their own that they can give to children who are sick…and could use a bit of cheering up. If that doesn’t work, give them the task of those 3 or more toys and take them to the Salvation Army…or pack them up and ship them to me! I’ll take them to The Genesis House where some children who will get a home for the very first time in a long time can receive them.
When your daughter is ready, Join Girl Scouts. I was never a Girl Scout, but my eldest is and the self-confidence and serving these girls do for their community is outstanding. It’s a great organization. They can join as early as Kindergarten.
Have your child participate in a charity Kids’ Run! You could even sign up for The Rose Run and go for a walk on your own or with a group of friends who register…. the money goes to breast cancer, and they may not get it, but it still gives you the opportunity to talk about serious issues. These might be issues we sometimes protect our little ones from. If that doesn’t work, there are certainly more races out there with actual finish lines where they would feel accomplished! Give anything you have at the moment to a homeless person…even if it’s just 5 minutes to listen to a crazy ramble about space people on Mars. That is a HUGE stereotype, but it’s true. Many homeless are on drugs or want money for something you or I might not see as fit to spend money on, but judgement is not mine. They are human and desire a look in the eye too. I’ve also passed a homeless person sitting outside a store…when we go in (if it’s a quick trip) I’ll buy a water, maybe a toothbrush and paste, a few snacks and a gift bag. After paying, I’ll put it all in the gift bag and just hand it to the person on the way out…I’ll say “have a nice day” or “this is for you, take care.” The kids see me do it, and it genuinely gives me pleasure doing it.
If we have a BBQ at a park, we’ll pack up our leftovers and hand them out. At Christmastime, we raid daddy’s closet for a few sweatshirts he doesn’t wear anymore and wrap them in Christmas paper…then hand out a few surprise gifts around town on Christmas Eve or Morning….the kids LOVE doing this. Offer to bring in trash cans for a neighbor…water plants for those who are vacation… pick flowers and surprise someone randomly..take food to an animal shelter or offer to hold baby kitties that need some love….there are a ton of things.
When it gets down to it…none of this will work unless your children see you or you and your spouse doing it first (Depending on your situation). Pack up the clothes you don’t need or wear any more…let the kids see you do it and take them to a women’s shelter. Talk to your kids in simple, adult words about what you’re doing…and why. Kids are smart and so amazing at taking in the truth….as you see fit. Those kinds of things work better than anything.
And like I said to my friend, you don’t need to be a ‘church person’ to show compassion for others and teach your kids how to be selfless and thoughtful. But it’s just that…we have to teach them. Even if you and you and you are not church people, I am truly inspired by this bible verse: “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” James 2:15-16
We all see the needs around us…and if we wish them well without doing something, what good is it!?
I am so glad she asked me this question.
The National Play About Motherhood – Established in 2008