Disclaimer: All of these gorgeous photos are courtesy of Brandi Lee at Balee Images. She made me look twenty pounds lighter, so she’s my favorite photographer of all time. OF ALL TIME!
Last week (has it been a week already? I’m still riding the high) I had a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Myself and thirteen other women took the stage at Chicago’s Atheneum Theatre and shared original stories about motherhood — birth and babies, love and loss. And leopards. (You had to be there.)
The audience laughed out loud. They cried (literally, and so did the rest of the cast, watching in the wings). They audibly gasped. It was such a surreal, empowering experience. They are our stories. We wrote them, we rehearsed them. And last weekend, we got to share them with the world. We owned them.
Not surprisingly, I wrote about Henry. I wrote about getting the news that he would be paralyzed and severely delayed. And to take the stage and declare to the world (okay, to like 200 strangers) that we had gone through hell and had come out the other side stronger than ever — it wasn’t just a fun day at the Atheneum.
It was a triumph.
Afterward, surrounded by my family, we talked excitedly for a good hour about our favorite stories — which were all of them. Every woman had a unique voice and contributed something special to the show overall. (My brothers unabashedly fangirled over Keely and Kim’s pieces, among others.) The performances were taped and will be available on YouTube this summer, but there was something to be said for actually attending the live show — the lights, the energy in the audience — it was certainly an experience.
One incredible thing about this show is that, given the personal nature of all the stories and the intimate experience of the live show (it’s just you and a microphone, baby), you quickly develop a close sisterhood with all your other cohorts. It’s almost like joining a sorority, without all the naked hazing. And I can’t begin to tell you what a special experience that makes for. During the show, we all sat backstage in the wings, facing the audience, rapt with attention, listening to everyone’s story all the way through (except when we had to nervous-pee, of course) and exchanging high-fives after every reading. Everyone in the cast was truly supportive, in every meaning of the word.
I don’t know if every city’s cast is that awesome, but mine certainly was.
All in all, the show was incredible.
Now, here’s the plea:
My favorite thing about LTYM is that you can attend the show, go home, write your own essay about motherhood, and experience all the fun for yourself the following year. It’s very attainable. It’s for people who have never spoken in public, or for people who are seasoned professionals. It’s for people who tweet and blog and have a huge online presence — or it’s for people who’ve never even heard of Twitter. And it’s definitely run with moms in mind — the Chicago show specifically has an audition, two short rehearsals, and then the show. Very do-able. And very, very fun.
Follow them on Facebook. Find your city’s LTYM chapter. Or even start one for your own city. Audition. Experience it for yourself.
Tell your story.