Thursday, January 19, 2017

I'm Sorry, I Thought ALL Children Had a Right

Due to realistic word counts, I could only cover one reason why Betsy DeVos cannot be confirmed as Trump's choice for Secretary of Education.

How's that for bluntness?

But it's one reason that comes with an unacceptable cost to our children with special needs/disabilities. It's her incredible stance on educational opportunity and resources for ALL children, which is this: "Eh. Let the schools decide who they want to take. Or not."

Do you know how frightening this is for families who have fought for education's necessity and place for their special needs children since their lives began?? It's pretty damn breakdown close to tears scared.

Thank you, Scary Mommy for taking the bold step of not hiding behind silence, and allowing me to speak out on what is at stake to all of our country's children, if Betsy DeVos is confirmed into Trump's cabinet.

"My husband tells me I'm going to give myself a heart attack. But I can't help it. I'm breathing hard, I'm sweating and my heart IS pounding. I'm scared... [read more here]"
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Saturday, January 7, 2017

INSIDE VOICE: Podcast Episode 38: Because 2017 Needs Reality Denial

My Christmas lights aren't coming down.

The tree is up and the ornaments still sit on its branches.

I am not going gently into this new year, and what helps me cling to the beauty of the season of this past holiday, shall remain. Times that brought light, magic, mirth.

Shared laughter. Oh my God, shared laughter.

Jennifer Scharf has put together a special edition holiday podcast from her series INSIDE VOICE. In this episode, funny women tell their funny holiday stories. If you want to stave off the year for awhile with me, give it a listen.

You'll like what you hear, and that begins with Jennifer's expert and stress-destroying vocal silkiness.

I hope to see you there, giving her podcast a listen. You'll recognize me, I'm the one wearing the wreath around her neck.

Adds timbre to my voice.

INSIDE VOICE: Podcast 38:Holiday Edition


Thursday, January 5, 2017


LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER MILWAUKEE is entering its final season. We will hold our fifth anniversary show on May 7, 2017, at Alverno College's Wehr Hall.

We are excited about the stories we will bring to Milwaukee's audience and trust me, you don't want to miss this last chance to see a LTYM show. Our shows are happening in 32 cities nationwide, and they are an experience in witnessing what looks to be ordinary lives are anything but, when told through the eyes of motherhood.

What we need is you in our audience. What we need for our show to happen, is YOU TO TELL YOUR STORY.

So get your stories ready because Milwaukee LTYM is excited to announce that we are now open for auditions for our Grand Finale Listen To Your Mother Show!

Auditions for our Grand Finale show are BY APPOINTMENT ONLY Saturday, January 28 at the East Side Library in Milwaukee, and Saturday, February 4, at the East Side Library in Milwaukee.

We will not be able to accommodate anyone without a scheduled audition time so please contact us for your time slot by emailing ltymmil at gmail dot com.

If you’re wondering what to audition with, LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER MILWAUKEE is looking for a 3 to 5 minutes in length, original and non-fiction piece of what motherhood means to you.

We don’t look for tributes or “eulogies” but something that represents the diverse and expanse of motherhood – as long as motherhood is the focus of the piece. We welcome submissions from everyone, and you don’t have to be a mother, a parent, or a woman, to audition. We just want to hear what motherhood means to you.

For an idea of the pieces that work with a LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER SHOW, please view our LTYM youtube channel. There, you’ll find essays, poetry, prose on the heavy and the light on the theme of motherhood. As Ann Imig, creator and national director perfectly puts it, “LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER features live readings by local writers on the beauty, the beast, and the barely-rested of motherhood in celebration of Mother’s Day.”

What we hope you share with us is what motherhood means to you.

You don’t need to have stage or public speaking experience.

You do not need to be a professional writer.

You just need to have a story that is yours to tell.

Here’s an easy checklist on what LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER MILWAUKEE looks for when considering a piece for our shows:

*Motherhood is the star focus of your piece.
*Your story must be true, yours, and original. No fiction, please.
*Your piece cannot be longer than 5 minutes when read aloud, and shorter is better.
*Poetry is welcome!
*Your piece should not be memorized for this show. All scripts will be read on show day from a show binder.

If you’re *this close* to deciding whether to audition or not,  let us offer you some encouragement by watching the LTYM youtube channel. But please believe us, we want to hear your story!

Whether you decide to audition or not, be sure not to miss this final season of LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER SHOWS.

Reserve your audition slot online by emailing the Milwaukee LTYM production team at ltymmil at gmail dot com.

And if telling a story isn’t your thing, but you happen to know someone who is perfect for this amazing opportunity, please share this audition information with them.

Follow us here for LTYM Milwaukee updates on our 2016 season, to include our local charity announcement, cast announcements, our wonderful sponsors, and details on our venue!

Come share your story with us, Milwaukee, and come Sunday, May 7, to our Grand Finale Show to hear your community’s stories!

Listen To Your Mother – a national series of original live readings shared locally on stages and globally via social media.”

Save the date! Sunday, May 7, LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER MILWAUKEE’s Grand Finale Show!

We hope to see you there!

Your Listen To Your Mother Milwaukee Team,

Jen, Rochelle, and Alexandra
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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

New Year Resolution #1: Swear Off WebMD

I swear this mole wasn't there when I went to bed last night.

I saw a small round brown spot on Auggie's back the other day. He was sitting at the table shirtless after his shower, a sight I know well since he gave up clothes at age two, and I noticed this dark, chocolate like syrupy dash. Almost like someone had started a comma on his back and decided on a semi colon instead.
Picture it? Please take a moment, and do, because you will see what I saw: irregular in shape. To those of us who take our whispered 3 a.m. health anxieties to our internet best friend WebMD, your stomach just dropped.
Because irregular in shape. On your kid's back. Where once before there was only the silken velvety blanket of unmarred skin.
Did I look at his back and think, Hmm. Freckle.?


I gulped in air, choked on my spit, then almost split my ribs open jumping over the kitchen stool to get to google so I could type in while grabbing water for my nervous cough:


And then, just to be sure, I entered "child" twice. So WebMD would understand the gravity.

Why do I do this?
Because I am a WebMD alarmist. Because years ago I believed their promise of being "an online publisher of news and information pertaining to human health and well-being." Ha, to me they have been anything but a disburser of information that led to health and well being. Why would I inform myself first and then panic last when it's much easier to panic first, and panic last? What's the use of assuming the tiny map of Madagascar on my son's shoulder blade is nothing when I can WebMD myself into a loss of 5 lbs from a liquid stomach instead?  That's the whole ugly mess right there.

I should know by now that WebMD does not teach a gentle lesson—its target audience is not the breathe relax breathe relax population. WebMD knows me better than I know myself. I am not the one who wants to know statistic probability. Because the numbers 1 in 13,000,000 chance means the Number 1 lands squarely in my house when it's given out.
I love the internet, at times, and googling is great, sometimes. Like when I'm looking for when a movie starts, or checking on the third round of renewals on a book I'm reading from the library. I depend on the internet but I do not want to lose my mind to the internet. So I have to break my online Doctor dependence—I want to go back to the land of let's ask the real life Doctor. I mean, what more proof do I need of this then when my kid starts coming to me, holding out a scratched finger, asking me to “Google it, Mama—it could be worse than a paper cut!”

I’m going to start listening to what my instincts are telling me, because WebMD never tells me anything good. They don't enter information that begins with, “Pshaw. You worry wart. It’s gonna be fine! No need for big toe amputation—just check for a pebble stuck in your shoe.”

WebMD must go from my life. Because unless I want my the days ahead of me imaginarily cut short because of a sensitive ingrown toenail, WebMD serves me no good. Everything I read, I remember, and this “oh my god!” with each twinge of pain I feel is going to kill me. And until the day WebMD begins with balanced coverage, say listing possible causes of back pain as “Bad Mattress” alongside “Spinal Degeneration”, I must stay off.

The voice I want to hear in my head from now on is not, “Heeeeeere’s your death!” but the reasonable one that says, “Take it easy, let’s see what time the Doctor's office opens tomorrow.”

I here, today in the first week of the year 2017, resolve to swear off WebMD. Not going on to that site is the only road back to a less anxious state in 2017. (as if 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 is going to be smooth sailing as it is *coughtrumpcough*)

I swear off all internet diagnoses. Promise.
Right after I find out about this new onset of upper right foot tenderness.
Oh, crap, it says here, "see lymph node nodule."
ETA: Auggie's mole: Upon the laying of hands on my precious child, my fingers slid across the fearsome spot, which was actually sloppy chocolate chip mixing during breakfast making on my part. xo  
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