"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." — Maya Angelou
It was another mother—a successful writer—who introduced me to the show, “Listen to Your Mother”via an online post a few months ago. I learned from her about this series of live staged readings put on across the country meant to give Motherhood a microphone. I clicked on the shared link and immediately butterflies began swirling around my solar plexus. I hadn’t felt this way since I pressed “publish” on my very first blog entry about the way a single leaf took me to a new level of letting go. I knew that I was supposed to audition for “Listen to Your Mother” in just the same way that I knew a few years ago that I was meant to share my words beyond my supportive—and trusted—circle of friends. Butterflies have long been my messenger, ushering in new loves, new life and new pathways. The New York “Listen to Your Mother” audition schedule and process had not yet been posted and so I began checking their website regularly and eventually found myself with an audition time slot: February 23rd, 1:30pm. I belabored my decision about which piece I would read and left my final selection until the week before the audition. The producers of “Listen to Your Mother” shared what they were looking for from those auditioning. They were looking for the stories that had be told, for the stories distinctly about Motherhood and for stories so personal that only the author could have written them. They were also planning for those words they selected to come together into a greater whole. It sounded so good to me. I was especially drawn to this experience for the opportunity to share—in person—the journey that I have been on. I loved that it wasn’t about being an expert in anything or trying to teach anything but rather a willingness to go forth in vulnerability and a desire to reveal one’s own life and truth in a very public way.
I wanted to read a piece that I had already published on my blog so as to avoid presenting anything contrived. I needed to know that my words had come from a pure place untainted by the expectation that they may end up being read from a stage. Reading back through old posts, I noticed there had been a change in me—some things that I had felt and believed and feared in my original blog-entries had fallen away like a snake’s skin—no longer serving me. The words that I discovered in those first few months—though still true and relevant to the unfolding of my path—were no longer the story that I must tell, now. I read on further and eventually I narrowed my choices down to a few more recent posts and the question that I kept asking myself was, “is this distinctly about Motherhood or is this just about me?” I noticed in my newer writing the way in which the compartments of Motherhoodand the compartments of My Life have now become more fluid—lines blurred, walls transparent or crumbling. Even as the snow continued to fall this winter, I began envisioning the soles of my feet digging deeply into the earth, toes pressed down as if roots—experiencing myself and my role as Mother more seamlessly. I felt and continue to feel as if all of life and the earth and me and my children are all rolled up together into Oneness. It was about then in my selection process that I considered changing the name of my blog from, “Mindful Mothering” to “Mindful Living” or some other title more reflective of the inextricable connection between how we are with ourselves—how we are with the world—and our way of being with our children. I went around and around like a spinning top trying to make a decision about what to read—poling friends and family, praying for guidance, reading my choices out loud to my husband—until ultimately coming into a place of silence and inner-knowing about the story that I had to tell. The story that I am called to tell, that I must tell, and continue to try to tell through my writing and my way of living is this; true enlightenment is to be found in the ordinary. It is in the delicate dance of coming right into the very space that we are. It can be discovered on a crowded train or in a prison. It can be unearthed in a backyard garden or shoveling snow. It is right there with you in the middle of a chaotic household with a handful of children or in solitude with only the presence of ocean waves tumbling.
I remember my audition vividly. I remember trembling before walking into the space where I was met with a panel of sophisticated-looking women who appeared to know what they were doing. I remember connecting with their eyes, noticing long, red hair and feeling at ease. I remember placing my words on a podium and grasping onto the long necklace from which dangled a ring my bigger boy Jonah had bought for me at a festival this past fall. His ring anchored me as I read. My words transported me back to a challenging time, to a sprawling beach in my beloved Maine and to the magic that was found with my boys, there in the tide pools. I remember leaving the audition and momentarily thinking, “I got it!” I felt elated and relieved and completely at peace. I am absolutely not one to think this way normally—especially about something that involves any sort of judging or performing—yet, something felt very, very right about that audition—about the entire experience. Of course, it turned out that I did not get it—at least not in the way that I had hoped. I received instead a gentle and encouraging rejection letter via e-mail in a parking lot after an outing to the library with my boys. I felt pretty crushed and it took some time to recover. And life went on. Sitting here now, though, after having had the opportunity for things to settle and for the truth to come to the surface, I know without a doubt that I did get it! I know now—for certain—what the story is that I must tell. It may not fit into a category in the way that will make me appealing to a traditional publisher or to the producers of this show right now, but the message that I must share is crystal clear to me.