Getting on the Listen to Your Mother Stage

by Elena on May 10, 2012 in blogging about blogging,Cancer

The DC Listen to Your Mother Show was three days ago. Since then I have been bombarded with questions.

How was the show? Were you nervous? What was it like? Will there be another show?

The truth is that I am not sure I can put my experience stepping onto the Listen to Your Mother stage into words. Or I could, but then I would sound like a bumbling fool that should definitely never be allowed to be on a live stage in front of an audience.

I can only give you tidbits. Morsels. Emotions. Because in many respects, I am not sure that it has fully sunk in that I DID this. I got up on this stage….

listen to your mother dc | Ciao Mom

and read…

Listen to Your Mother DC | Ciao Momphoto credit: Joseph N. Pushak

to all these people…

listen to your mother dc audience | Ciao Momphoto credit: Joseph N. Pushak

But I did.

One of the most interesting parts of being on stage was watching the audience. Granted, I could not see much of the audience past the first few rows because of the stage lighting. But I saw it when two women in the first row grabbed their purses to search for tissues during the FIRST reading. And I felt it when the entire theater erupted in belly laughter during another reading.

My reading was not funny. It was serious. It was emotional. I might have had a funny line here or there hidden between the cancer this or cancer that, and although I cannot remember for sure the audience may even have giggled at that one appropriate time. I did feel the audience though, from behind the podium. When I started to describe starting to dream again. Maybe just maybe. I felt as if the audience was pulling for me. Either that or they were hoping to god that I was not about to say that something that pushed them to more tears.

As much as I had practiced, pausing here or there, visualizing that I was talking to Principessa, since mine was a letter to her…I cannot exactly tell you how I did. I have no idea if my pauses were placed accordingly or if the “you were a survivor” delivered as much oomph as it was supposed to. Eventually I will find out, when the videos of the show are released over the summer. (yes, yes, I will share). For now though, none of that really matters.

Because the way that I felt…that we felt…when we took our bow at the end of the show. Was AMAZING.

It was like taking a bottle cap off a shaken soda bottle, with the bubbles rushing to the top.

One that makes you wondering, wanting more, ready to conquer the world.

listen to your mother party | Ciao Momphoto credit: Joseph N. Pushak

The truth is that I am not afraid of public speaking. I am a teacher after all. Back to school nights and talks to groups of parents, staff, or colleagues are something that I enjoy. It is not that I like hearing myself talk…but I have always felt alive when speaking to groups. There is just something about that connection. That interaction.

So yes, the show went GREAT. It was the opportunity of a lifetime. One that I am grateful to Stephanie Dulli, Kate Coveny Hood, and Ann Imig for giving me.  But there is something even more special.

how it feels to be in the listen to your mother cast | ciao mom

With @Sue Wag before the show. Photo courtesy of @Stimey

Getting on the Listen to Your Mother Stage

The fabulous DC cast. Photo by @Stimey

The emotion that we felt on stage during our rehearsal in March, as we sat back stage and applied our make up, and as we took that bow was palpable. The more and more I thought about it I realized that for me…that emotion was actually pride. Pride that I put myself out there. Pride that one day Principessa will watch the video and know how I felt. Pride that I pushed past whatever insecurities I have about my body. Just pride.

And pride? It feels good.

Ciao Mom


If you are wondering what it is that I read that day on stage…I shared why it is that I can without hesitation, say that I am thankful for Cancer.

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angela May 10, 2012 at 9:58 am

I have no doubt that you did an amazing job? Why? Because you were speaking about a topic for which you feel passion, written with thoughts of your precious girl. I can’t wait to see the video, and I’m so glad you lived this experience.

kir May 10, 2012 at 1:22 pm

OH Elena, I felt exactly like you..where I watched everyone react to everyone else’s pieces when it came to my own, I have driven my family crazy…*READ JOHN* with “How did I do? How did I sound? Was I good?”

but I love that you read, I loved KNOWING that miles away you were taking the stage too and telling your story. It made me so proud and happy to know you.

YOu looked fabulous and I’m sure your story was just as beautiful as you were.

I can’t wait to talk about the experience with you.

Corey Feldman May 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Sounds like you all did an amazing job. I so wish I could have been there.

Kristin @ What She Said May 10, 2012 at 1:43 pm

It was an amazing show and an amazing day. I loved being in the audience and listening to the stories and meeting the other cast members afterward and drinking wine with you and just plain MEETING you and your adorable husband and getting dressed up and stepping outside my mommy self for an afternoon and feeling hip and sexy again and being in DC and… well, now I digress. 😉

But most I loved meeting you. And hearing you read and feeling so proud of you.

And the wine.

julie gardner May 10, 2012 at 2:23 pm

I recognized you in that picture! I’m jealous you got to be there –
Wish I could have been with all of you.

julie gardner May 10, 2012 at 2:22 pm

I cannot wait to see the video.

I, too, am not afraid of being on stage; not after teaching for more than 16 years. High school, no less. Can there be a more terrifying audience than jaded seventeen-year-olds?

But I can only imagine that participating in LTYM would be a completely different type of performance; that the emotion would be so overwhelming, the reality SO real (if that even makes sense) that you would feel “out of body” or something equivalent.
(But in better words, I’m sure, than that!)

I don’t know. Like I said. I can only imagine.
And also hope one day to be lucky enough to have this same chance.

You’re an inspiration.

JenniferG May 10, 2012 at 3:19 pm

You were amazing. Inspiring. Breathtaking. I’ve done the stage thing a time or two and I was holding my breath for each and every one of the ladies that I knew personally… of course, none of you even needed it.

I was inspired and moved to tears. Thank you for having the courage to do it!

Holly May 10, 2012 at 7:57 pm

I can’t wait to watch the video this summer. I loved reading your story and am sure I would have cried during your reading. You are one of the most inspirational people I have EVER met and I am grateful to call you my IRL friend. Mazel tov for being brave and thanks for bring YOU.

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