Sunday was our day. It was the day I’d been looking forward to for months, a day that Heather, Julie and I had prepared for, made lists about, gathered supplies for and fretted over.
The morning was bitter cold with horrible winds. Heather woke up to an inch of snow in Bartlesville. Several of our readers were driving in from other parts of our state. The roads were clear but…C’MON MAN! It’s SPRING BREAK!! Fervent prayers went up that everyone could get to the auditions, that everyone would make it safely.
We all got to the Girl Scouts office (Julie’s employer has graciously allowed us the use of space) Julie began setting out the GS cookies, making the coffee and heating water for tea. I taped up signs, set out the extra audition forms, pens, arranged the audition space to be the least intimidating as it could possibly be. Heather and her awesome Kiddo arrived safely and we set Kiddo up to be our greeter and assistant. Marcie and her beau showed up with their cameras, documenting the day with candids as well as taking headshots of each reader so that we would have them when we cast the show.
It was time.
We had some nervous energy between the three of us, some giggles. At one point I turned to Heather and said, “I just want it to be easy. I want it to be easy for our readers, I want it to be easy for us to find the show. How are we ever going to do this?”
And then our stories arrived. Our readers came into the room, introductions were made and it was really lovely to see the humans that belonged to the words that we had been reading through the first round of submissions. I tried to encourage each and every reader, reinforcing the fact that we three were already on their side. Some were quick to apologize for . . . everything.
The time of their piece.
The way their voice sounded.
Shaking my head and smiling at them, I said, “Take a deep breath. Let it out. Now just tell us your story. That is all you need to do. Tell us your story.”
And. They. Did.
My emotional seal broke about the second or third reader. I didn’t make it long. I was so overcome by the amount of courage and strength that they were showing by standing there with only their words as armor…and piece by piece…they removed that armor and gave it to us. With each quiver of a voice, with each waver of emotion that flowed through their bodies…tears would well up and I would start biting the inside of my mouth in an effort to not look like an escaped psych patient sitting there at the “grown up table.” I was in awe of the vulnerability that each reader was embracing. . . EMBRACING this unknown as if it were the easiest thing on the planet.
They took us for a ride. We laughed. We cried. (I cried. a lot) We empathized. We laughed. We nodded. We clapped. We hugged. We ( I ) cried more. We took breaks and took pictures.
Every ten minutes, a reader would stand before us and invite us in with such grace that really…I’m still not over it. Each reader stood in such fierce vulnerability, with such vigor and strength, and honored us, honored their stories, honored those they were talking about. No. I’m still not over it.
Take a deep breath.
Tell us your story.
Oh boy did they!
By the end of the day, our show did in fact present itself. It couldn’t have been more clear had it showed up at the door wrapped in Saran Wrap ala Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes.
The stories not chosen this year…it was what all of the other directors had been saying all along…it wasn’t because they weren’t worthy of the show. It wasn’t because they weren’t valid, and not because they didn’t deserve to be told. I hope with my whole heart that they audition again next year.
We divided the cast up between the three of us and made our phone calls that evening.
WELCOME TO LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER!!!
I’ve learned so much from this cast already. They were fearless in sharing their words and their hearts with us on Sunday. They will tell you, “oh I was so nervous I was shaking” but I will tell you They Were Fearless.
I’m already terribly proud of each one of them. I stalked their social networkings yesterday as our news broke and can see how proud their family and friends are of them as well. I want to tell them how much fun they have ahead of them. The power of the stories, the connections of the cast. We’re building a community here and the best is yet to come. I want to tell them…but they will know soon enough the power of LTYM.
I’ve thought a lot about vulnerability lately.
The courage it takes to stand in that space.
The fear that it takes to move within it.
The relief it feels to know that all of it is okay.
My underlying motto for this show is:
“Vulnerability is the birthplace for connection, love, and change.”–Brené Brown.
We are cultivating all of those things with Listen To Your Mother: OKC.
It has already started.