Saturday, April 29, 2017

On LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER MILWAUKEE and The National Grand Finale Season

I have always loved words, the stories they tell and the emotions they evoke. Writers have long been on the top of my list of life wizards—those who do what the rest of us cannot.

Only writers write, I’d think. And then I’d wish that I could do what they do.

Seven years ago, I learned that the start to anything that you want is to turn your face in that direction.

In 2011, I auditioned for the LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER Show in Madison, Wisconsin. I had never tried out for a cast before. I had never read my writing out loud before, and I had never imagined myself as someone up at a podium, behind a microphone.

But when I learned of Listen To Your Mother shows, I felt a pull. I knew that public speaking wasn’t something I did, and that to think of myself as being part of a show was the most outrageous endeavor I had ever put my mind to, but I didn’t know how not to try. My reaction was a lovesick yearning to tell my story. I drove the two hours to audition, with a printed copy of my story in the passenger seat next to me. I had taken my lifelong dream and set my face in its direction.

I did audition, and my story was chosen as one to be read on stage that year. What I didn’t know then is that on show day, while on the stage reading my words, that there would be a whisper behind the voice that the audience heard. I would be the only one hearing it in the undercurrent as I spoke, I am a writer I am a writer I am a writer.

As I drove home that night after the show, I smiled like a goose at my reflection in the window. I felt ridiculous, heady, but I finally said the words I had wished were mine my entire life: I am a writer.
I don’t talk about that day much, about my time on stage during the 2011 Madison show, but I write about it in my personal journals. I remind myself how it was that first step in belief of what I could offer that changed my life. Today, I can only say that I can’t imagine anything that has happened since without LTYM behind it.

This 2017 LTYM season will be our Grand Finale LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER Show for Milwaukee. When I think of this being our final show in our city, my throat tightens. Emotion overwhelms me and I grow grateful all over again for all that LTYM has brought into my life. The stories I’ve heard, the women I’ve met, the relationships I’ve seen form between our cast members.

In 2011, I had planted a seed when I auditioned, even though I had never auditioned before. In 2013, when I applied to produce LTYM in Milwaukee, I planted a second seed, even though I had never produced a show before. I look at my journal and see empty pages up ahead. I can go back and add to them as I see events unfold in my life, and I will go forward and complete these pages with the new opportunities that I have learned to recognize. My words since my first show with LTYM have grown, and I have along with them.

Before LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER, I used to wait, watch, be patient, for everything to feel right, align, for opportunity to present itself. What I learned seven years ago with that first LTYM show, is that we are the opportunity.

We are the chance we’ve been waiting for.

Though this is Milwaukee’s last LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER SHOW, I know this is not the last of the stories that our past casts have told, nor that our 2017 show cast will tell.

We will keep writing our stories, we will find chances to share them and we will remember that it is in us where we find the key to unlock all the fierce and unforgettable moments that we have yet to share.

To our past LTYM casts and final 2017 cast: promise to return again and again to yourself and to drink in what you will absolutely continue to find. Plant your seeds and grow your vines, live in wonder of you and the moments in your life.

As LTYM producers and directors, we thank you. We have been privileged, humbled, and honored to have had a part in bringing your stories to our community. Thank you for your gift of time, and self.

**For tickets to see our final Listen To Your Mother Show Sunday May 7 in Milwaukee, please visit

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


We've got an incredible show set for our Milwaukee audience on Sunday, May 7, 3pm at Alverno College Wehr Hall.

This will be LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER Milwaukee's final show and the stories you'll be hearing will be community building and heart soaring.

Come see for yourselves.

Click over to meet our fantastic LTYM Milwaukee 2017 cast!

**Tickets available online and at the door on the day of the show. Details Here.
* * *

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Complete video here

Today I had the opportunity to talk about LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER MILWAUKEE on Milwaukee's favorite morning show, The Morning Blend. Morning Blend has supported our LTYM shows since we first came to Milwaukee five years ago.
2017 marks our fifth season, as well as our final LTYM show for Milwaukee. We are overcome with gratitude and full hearts over what our city has shown us in support and love for sharing our lives through our stories.
Our show is Sunday, May 7, 3pm at Alverno College's Wehr Hall. Tickets are available online and at the door the day of the show.

We hope you don't miss this final chance to see LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER.
Bring those you love, or come alone: whichever way you arrive, you'll leave feeling part of something greater, that of community. One that is knit together through knowing about each other.
When we share our stories, something powerful happens: and you feel it from the your heart.
Come to our LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER show on Sunday, May 7, and see what we mean.

**Ticket info. HERE

* * *

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Raising Award Winning Boys

Well, at least receiving an award for writing about raising boys.

You know, I believe that we're all moving on our parenting decisions with love, prayer, and fingers crossed that we are doing right by our children. I write about this a lot, and I always hope hope hope that I never sound like a know it all.

I've been at this parenting gig for 21 years now, two decades of experience spread across three children. To have my writing and heartfelt purpose of wanting to build community in what can be seasons of doubt that we are raising our children with what they need to find themselves in their own lives, is an honor I deeply appreciate.

Thank you, Parenting Media Association for recognizing my series on Metroparent, "Raising Boys", with a national silver award.

You'll keep me going at what is the greatest gift I've ever experienced: being the mother to my children.

"Parenting Media Association recognized your amazing work on your Raising Boys article last year with a silver award at their annual awards banquet. "
* * *

Monday, April 17, 2017

LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER - Milwaukee: Our City's Final Show

For the past five years, LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER - Milwaukee has had the honor of being a host city for the national live storytelling event celebrating the theme of motherhood.

Our city has been part of as many as 41 sister-cities that bring the stories of motherhood in all its beautiful diversity, to the ears of communities. Through sharing our stories, we have been heard, we have been healed, and our hearts have been held. Both as reader and as audience.

This is Milwaukee's final year hosting LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER. As excited as we are about introducing our 11 Milwaukee community voices, we are also weighing the significance of this show being our last show in our city.

The time feels right to move forward with other projects, but this doesn't make our 5th anniversary LTYM show any less important.

We hope you come hear our final cast, Milwaukee, we promise you an afternoon of stories that will set your heart soaring with the possibility in all of us.
SEE YOU SUNDAY MAY 7, 3PM, at Alverno College's Wehr Hall.

Performance and ticket information can be found on the main LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER site here.

We love you, Milwaukee storytellers, and our dear Milwaukee audience!
* * *

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Shhh... Please Don't Tell Me That I Wasn't Sharing His Load

I've read of people who believe they are Jesus Christ. I was never one of that mindset, but I will tell you that I once believed that I helped Jesus Christ.

I blame the way we Colombians do things. A lot of things that we do to the moon and back, and Easter -- well, the way we did Easter growing up I can't help but say to Americans, you haven't done Easter until you've dragged a broom across your back in the kitchen and told yourself you were helping our Lord carry the world's sins with Him. 

Easter Sunday in America is baskets, jelly beans, foil wrapped eggs, and egg hunts. It's also a day of chomp-the-ears-off-the-chocolate-bunny while you listen to the story of spiritual rebirth. But Easter for me, from age three and up, sure--it was about black jelly beans, dyed eggs, and 12-inch tall bunnies made of chocolate. But there was something else you don't know about Easter and me.
Ever since I first turned the pages to my picture bible and saw Jesus dragging the wooden cross made heavy with the weight of the world's sins, I was so overcome with the visual of what the world had put upon beautiful Jesus, that I had to be part of his rescue team. On Easter Sunday morning, I'd burst through the kitchen door and run to open the kitchen closet.

It was Easter Sunday! Yeah, yeah, I know there were Easter baskets to get to but where was our broom?? I needed to get to our broom!
Oh, my family taught me to respect Good Friday up right. We kept that day solemn, quiet, in observance from noon until three o'clock, with no TV, no radio. Good Friday is not a sad time, but a time of hushed anticipation for those like the kind of little girl that I was: in love with the heart ache of penance and humility. Walking the Stations of the Cross, kneeling before each Passion of Christ one by one, reading and hearing of Jesus’ arduous climb to His final stop on Mount Calvary — words here cannot do justice to the mystical experience that was for me.

When Easter morning finally came, I would wrap myself in a flat sheet and tie an oversize belt around my waist. I would put on my older sisters’ long brunette wigs and drag my feet, and then hunched back, across the kitchen floor, bearing the broom on my bent spine.

No one stopped me. My family would come into the kitchen and get their cereal bowls and juice glasses, moving around my slouched figure. 

My reenactments were no parody. My scene was complete with wiping the sweat off my brow, and stopping to catch my breath and ease my burden. This was work, but I could not have felt more blessed that to be in the coveted role of Jesus.

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts...,” so Shakespeare tells us. But I would go on to say, “And one man in his time plays many parts, but none felt more honored than a child imagining taking on — just for a martyred few seconds across a small kitchen floor — Jesus’ pain.”

Yes, Americans do have Easter Sunday baskets filled with candy and shredded plastic green grass. But for me, a little girl able to pretend on one soul stirring day a year, that she was carrying even an ounce of back breaking weight in her beloved Jesus’ name, well, really... bitten off chocolate bunny ears and foil wrapped eggs paled in comparison.
Hold on, Jesus, hold on, I'm coming as soon as I find where my Abuelita put the broom away last night, because I love you.
* * * 

Friday, April 14, 2017

How To Write Your Child a Poem

It's an odd thing, when a feeling overtakes you. When an idea fills your head and you can't say no to it, but you have no gift, no talent, no experience, in the thing your heart pounds at you to do.

I want to write my child a poem. Something so different and away from the 50,000 essays I've written to him already. I want to write him a poem that he can hold in his hand and fold and unfold to read over again and then again while he one day rocks away in his chair, *this close* to almost forgetting what his mother used to look like.

My first attempts late last night were of lines that rhymed.

You are my sun
When you're with me
we laugh, there is fun

You can say this is bad, because it's... bad.

You can also watch me delete and delete the words I set down, and then watch me, more determined than ever, to tell my son what it's meant to me to have spent his childhood with him.

Do I begin by confessing my regret that I didn't write down every bit of dialogue we shared?
Would he understand what I mean when I tell him that I'd give up just about anything for a slow afternoon watching him crawl on a blanket in the yard again?
Or how I had to cover my mouth, so taken with him at 11 months old, when he reached up from my lap and tried to hold my eye in his hand.

I try to remember our first memories together and I can't focus, because images fly faster than words, and all I see is toothless grins, drooling smiles, eyes that stare without blinking into mine, and his little hand, opening and closing as he reaches for my cheek.

I close my eyes, and push for words that match the lump that grows in my throat when I see his beautiful face in front of me.

I sit to write and one word surfaces first, again and again.

heart heart heart heart heart

Tonight, I decide that me writing a poem would never be able to explain the love I have for him. I just don't have that capacity.

What is the result of tonight's work is instead, a map.

A map with him at the center and the roads that all lead back to him.

How do you write your child a poem?

You draw him your heart.
* * *

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Today It's Your Birthday!

It's almost 11:39 p.m., the time of the night that you were born -- it was so close to midnight that it made the Dr. feel generous enough to give me an extra day in the hospital.

Woohoo! And yes, I took it.

I'm on a quick break from crepe paper streaming the stair railing, kitchen lights, and your bedroom door to write this post to you on your birthday.

It's no secret that you are my favorite third child, and when I'm alone with you, you become even more my favorite child in that moment. *see how tricky your mom is? you're all my favorite

Anyway, I am on the internet to wish you the happiest of birthdays today, Auggie. You have made me unbelievably happy since the minute I knew you'd be born, and every day that you've been in my life, I still haven't gotten used to the craziest luckiest reality that you are here.

Just to look at you is to see how you are so much of everything that is heartbreakingly beautiful.

Happy birthday to my kind, generous, sweet, and compassionate child. You were born into a house that always felt a little bit empty, until you came and filled it.

I love you, my baby.

Happy birthday to you!

**I know you already know what your presents are because you picked them out, so thanks for acting surprised anyway. You're the best.

* * *

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Senior by Birth

I've got my burgundy microfleece draped across my lap and tucked in behind my knees. My slippers are on over my favorite orange knee highs and I'm slowly blowing on and sipping my half-caff.

Straight leaded caffeine has become too much for me. Keeps me up and all jiggly legged along with a bit of SOB palpitations (I can be an SOB as it is but this time it begins in my lungs) has got me at 'think I'll do half caff.'

So far, less octane is working. I don't feel so edgy and prone to tears over the slightest kindness.

Anyway, one morning last week as I ripped open that day's mail--because it's come to that: I look forward to daily mail and talking about the weather. I look forward to the daily mail now, especially our community newsletter. Unfolding the month's events, I licked the tip of my fine-point Sharpie, just like my  mother used to do, and I began to circle, circle, circle, and then double-circle all my plans for the coming month.

Grinning and congratulating myself on how I was not going to miss a can't miss event again, I soon envisioned myself and gave in to misty-eyed gasps.

Though my plans for the next 30 days were a thing of beauty of not missing anything, I'll tell you, but what I saw in that moment before me amid my mug of half-caff and alongside my Sharpie were the circles of my life. These events that I am counting down the days to only reflect what I've suspected since I first had a sense of self:

That I was born a senior citizen with an AARP card in the back pocket of my diaper fold.

Author readings.
Gathering to compare measured rainfall for the month.
Bird sighting notes meeting.
Donuts in church hall.
Annual marsh walk at the nature center.

Ancient activities for what I thought was a modern woman.

Yes, the calendar staring back at me was a masterpiece, but it was also the essence of 89-year-olds. My daily to-do list was filled with dessert tidbits, but it might as well have been called "How to Stay Active as an Octogenerian."   

All the years of not knowing what to do with me, my poor mother, I remember how she would pull me out to the dance floor at family weddings, telling me I was young, I had to learn how to have a good time, how to make hay while the sun was shining, when I was perfectly thrilled to sit and chuckle at the youngsters and their new dance steps while I stirred my cake frosting into my more white than dark coffee and watched the sugar melt away in swirls.

That poor woman. What she needed then was The Parent's Guide to the Tao of Ancient Children.

I can't be the only one born 89, so someone please, for the love of all the confused parents that my mother must have been, someone get on that book.

Raising Your Ancient Children.

Could there be a more earnest undertaking?

Detach yourself from the seeming successes
and failures of your children
By doing so you become able
to be one with them at all times
You do not live your life
through your children
Therefore they are free
to find their own true fulfillment. *

Even if it is at the annual hot cider and tree sap gathering.

Bus leaves the senior center at 9 on Tuesday.

*William Martin The Parent's Tao Te Ching 



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