In looking back over some photos during the first show back in June 2008 it’s clear to see that, we’ve aged.
Kidding aside, it’s also clear to see that we’ve been busy.
I only had one child when the show debuted. Jessica had two already. Our good friend Polly died the month before we debuted ExMo and the show could not have been a bigger gift as I threw myself into, literally as a means to channel my grief.
Jessica actually had to miss our first show as she contacted Meningitis! We kept thinking I had caused her to have a mental break down. Fortunately that was not the case.
Jessica being the superwoman she is made our programs from her hospital bed.
As we say though, the show must go on.
Within a year it was selling out and we took it, both pregnant this time to NYC turning our idea over the phone into a national play that was actually connecting with people.
I adore being a part of the show and look forward to announcing two new cities where it will be headed this Fall.
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.
Southern California native, Krista Knott is putting her feet on the Expressing Motherhood stage for the second time in our next show, opening May 10th. Krista had heard about the show originally through a friend and decided to submit when the next round opened. She performed in Burbank, having only to walk down the street from her house to the theatre.
She is a free lance writer who works from home and says she is up late most nights. Her “day job” is mom. Her “paying job” is as the Managing Editor for The Bright Side Project, although if she could stay home and eat bon bons and watch soaps, it would actually be “a marathon of The Walking Dead and a bucket of high quality chocolate bars.”
When I asked her about her first time on the EM stage, she said “the first time I performed was a bit of a game changer for me. I spent years as a struggling actress/unpublished writer and to take these two aspects of myself (coupled with the inextricable role of mother) and mash them together helped me work from feeling like I somehow failed in my past life since I didn’t “accomplish” anything before having kids to reconciling that I am exactly where I need to be. And that I am worthy.”
Krista and her fiance Bryan have been together since 2006 and have two children, Finn (5) and Dash (1 1/2). She also has a 13 year old step-son who lives out of state but spends the summers with them here in SoCal. “His sister has full blown hero worship and his visits here even trump the excitement of Disneyland.”
Krista and Bryan have been engaged since 2010 and are pleased to announce they will be getting married on May 20th….the day after Expressing Motherhood closes in Los Angeles!
“We finally realized that, with two kids, we were never going to be able justify spending money on a wedding so we are taking our parents and heading to the courthouse on our 7 year anniversary. Our five year old daughter is, by far, the most excited about this. She is obsessed with brides and grooms and can’t wait to wear her own fancy dress.”
Krista says she walked away from her first performance in EM with confidence, friendship, camaraderie and validation. “I realized it was much easier to perform as an actress because I wasn’t having to completely be myself, you know? To stand up on a stage and tell my own stories, in my own words, was absolutely terrifying. And honestly the most liberating experience I’ve ever had.”
We’re so happy Krista is going to be back on stage at The Lillian in May.
She says “this time is a little scary for me because I’m sharing something personal, something with weight. And that’s exactly why I am doing it. I believe in sharing our scary truths. I’m just a little shaky about doing it while standing in front of a group of people and not from behind the safety of a keyboard…
…I’m looking forward to looking my fear in the eye and doing it anyway.”
Sarah Maizes is a two time performer in Expressing Motherhood. She’s the mother of three, a writer, performer and now children’s book author. Last year, Sarah offered to give us a copy of one of her recently published books for giveaway in Expressing Motherhood.
She sent me two copies….so, naturally, I kept one for myself. That’s natural, right?
On My Way To The Bath is a very fun book indeed. I would venture to say that the hilarious antics of the child in the book can hit close to home for most of us when attempting to give a child a bath or anything else, really.
Sarah has had great success with this book, and I can see why. My children have been obsessed with it for weeks. We read it over and over and over, in the same night.
What has been saving us (Or me) from the redundancy of reading the same book over and over again is my 5 year old son. First of all, he can read, so we take turns being the child and the mom in the book…and we get animated…we don’t just read the book, we perform the book for each other. It’s a lot of fun!
Last night, however, my son read the entire book to us on his own before bed.
I love Burbank….most anyone who knows me, knows this fact about me.
I love The Valley…whew.. There, I said it out loud. I love The Valley.
Ok, now, that that’s out of the way, I want to tell you something about Burbank. The skyline of the city is changing this week. The show, Cavalia is back with a new performance called OdysseyO and by Monday afternoon, the 110 foot, 10 story White Big Top will be up and ready for their opening night, Wednesday February 27th.
OdysseyO is a show…an amazing show, featuring the connection between horse and man, envisioned by one of the creators of Cirque Du Soleil, Normand Latourelle.
This week, Mr. Latourelle gave me 30 minutes of his time to ask him anything I wanted.
So, I looked at all of the press materials for the show and decided I didn’t want to ask him about the details of the show that were all laid out before me. I could read that information anywhere.
I wanted to know about creativity. His inspiration and how it works for him.
Mr. Latourelle is from Montreal, Quebec and is a visionary leader in the performing arts world in Canada, wrangling up many accomplished accolades. As I mentioned before, he actually helped CREATE Cirque Du Soleil. Even if you’ve never seen a Cirque show, I’m just going to assume you know the awesomeness that I’m talking about.
I asked him where his inspiration comes from and he said “I don’t know. I just get an idea and I do it.” He explained that most of his ideas come while he’s sleeping, kind of like dreams, but somewhere between sleeping and waking.
He explained “When an idea comes back to me over and over, I know I have to do it.”
I get that. I suppose what makes the difference between staying a dreamer and becoming a visionary is acting on those ideas and not letting them stay dreams.
Let me tell you about OdysseyO for a minute and you can see where the dreamer becomes a visionary:
“OdysseyO will take the audience around the word as 67 horses and an international cast of 45 artists play and demonstrate their intimate bond. The 15,000 square foot stage features a real carousel and an 80,000 gallon lake in front of a stunning video
backdrop the size of 3 IMAX screens.”
“It’s an Odyssey—you’re going to travel throughout the world.” he stated as he explained all of the places you’ll travel in the duration of the show. “(You can have)..nice discussion with the kids after… Where have we been?”
The last time Cavalia was in Los Angeles was in 2010 and he says, “This one is more accomplished. I had the experience of the first one. I’ve created a bigger stage and more sophisticated technical grid that allowed us to do more. We have gone as far as a touring show can go.”
A bigger stage indeed. The main tent is twice the size of the last one we saw here in the same location. The infrastructure is capable of supporting 80 tons, including that full sized merry-go-round as its lowered to the stage during the show.
“We have a real forest…the stage gets filled with water. We’re not Universal Studios, but its pretty close.” he said chuckling.
When I was asking him about what he’s most proud of in his life, he immediately said his family. Nothing compares to that and as a matter of fact he left Cirque Du Soleil to stay home and help raise his two boys, fully “understanding how important that was.”
Another thing Mr. Latourelle said struck me, something else he’s proud of…
“(It makes me proud) to see how many people are making their life out of my idea…my small ideas and they get good life.”
I love it.
This quite brilliant man said one more thing to me before our conversation was over..quite possibly a new motto I may just have to remind myself of over and over,
“Nothing is more satisfying than bringing happiness to this planet, that’s what creation is all about. If you’ve got something to give…give it.”
Amen to that.
OdysseyO opens Wednesday, February 27th in Downtown Burbank. For all details and how to purchase tickets, visit www.Cavalia.net
We open this Spring on Mother’s Day weekend and Daphne’s California Greek has graciously offered to help make our Mother’s Day show a little more special by offering our audience a taste of Daphne’s!
Daphne’s California Greek is a Southern California born and bred company. They are a company who believes in being your true authentic self and support education, physical, active lifestyles and are highly involved with the local art community. They are part of programs such as STAR education, which seeks to bring music and arts back into the public schools.
Daphne’s new music discovery program supports amazingly talented young musicians and provides a platform for them to share their music and their passion with a larger audience whether it’s in one of Daphne’s locations, online via Daphne’s free, streaming radio channel, or through exclusive concerts in venues near their restaurants.
We like all of that.
There are 54 locations here in Southern California… including one right down the street from The Lillian Theater in Hollywood. If you’ve never tried their California spin on some classic Mediterranean food, you should!
We look forward to sharing Daphne’s with you on Sunday, May 12 at our Mother’s Day Show!
It does not matter who you are voting for…or what measures you are voting to approve or not approve, it’s your right to vote..make it count.
I am proud to personally come from a history of family in the military..and those brave men and women have secured our country to remain the Democracy it is. I am proud of the women…and a few brave men who have fought for my personal right, right here in this country, to have freedom of my voice. It’s my right to vote…and I will make it count!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The National Play About Motherhood – Established in 2008