I can’t believe it’s been a week since show night already. I was working on the La Crosse production of Listen to Your Mother for six months. How can it be over already?
If you haven’t seen the bombardment of social media posts I’ve been doing about Listen To Your Mother (
instead of blogging regularly), then you probably aren’t following me on social media, and you should because I like you.
Listen To Your Mother is a live, storytelling event that gives motherhood a microphone. The last shows have taken the stage, making the collection of 500 some unique, truth-telling stories, take place across 41 cities in North America.
That’s pretty cool.
It has taken me awhile to fully process what this show and its aftermath have meant to me. I’m still exhausted! But in the best possible way. Kind emails and handwritten notes are still coming in thanking our team for a beautiful, magical night of storytelling, for voices being heard and diversity represented. For making them laugh – so many laughs. And also for the tears.
So many inspired souls have said they’re going to audition next year!
And final numbers are in, so I cut the donation check for YWCA La Crosse today!!!
Here’s what I can sum up for you.
3 Lessons Learned From the Listen To Your Mother Show
1. Attitude is Everything
When I first had the itch to apply and bring LTYM to my city, I had an entirely different production team and charity lined up. I also had a different job. When things went from bad to worse at that job (sometime I’ll tell you about it), no one was willing to put in the work anymore. But I KNEW this show could be amazing. I KNEW there were stories out there that needed to be told.
So, I did it myself.
I lined up a new production team, one that believed in the power of story like I did. And I found a new charity, one that said yes instantly and supported me from staff to director to board member. And I wrote up an application I hoped would make it really, really hard for the national team to say no to.
Channeling my energy into something that was positive and making a difference in the community saved me. Working on this show encouraged me to make big changes in my life because we all deserve to feel heard and appreciated and energized.
2. My Husband is Proud of Me
Let me tell you the ways my husband supported me. And, I’m warning you in advance, I’m going to get mushy about this.
In the beginning, it was advice on production stuff – venues to look at, performance things to think about. It helps he’s a musician and very familiar with locations. Then it was social media shares with the obligatory “Here’s this thing my wife is doing”.
Next he went and offered to play live, acoustic music in the lobby for show day! Because he saw how hard I was working and wanted to support me in the best way he knew how, he helped make our debut show a little more special – a little more like a fancy night out on the town.
But folks, what really made me tear up and get “the feels” so hard was his response to the show. You see, I didn’t come home from rehearsals and talk about the show. I probably mentioned how many things I had to do for the show (more than once), but I didn’t tell anyone about the stories we shared. That magic and trust needed to be saved for show night. So, my hubs was that guy who got roped into attending because his wife was the one running it. Storytelling is not exactly “his thing.”
The reason I know the LTYM show is a gamechanger of a production is because it gets people talking. And my husband started talking and sharing his thoughts with me about the show and the stories he heard. And not just that night, but all week long.
My husband is not a big talker. He does not often share his emotions. Not many guys do. But after watching the show, my husband told me he saw me making a difference. He called me a rockstar. He had thoughtful, personal things to say about the show’s stories. He said he was motivated to make changes in his life. And he told me he was proud of me.
*wipes eyes, blows nose*
I told you, this one gave me ALL THE FEELS. I am so grateful for his support.
3. Perspective: Your Girlfriends’ Gonna Give It To Ya
When you work with talented people, you up your game. When you collaborate with them, you make lifelong friends.
I am eternally grateful for the amazingly cohesive production team that agreed to work with me without fully knowing how much work it would, in fact, be. I admired these women before the show production started, I have deep respect and awe for them now.
From start to finish, this group came in fully understanding the special-ness of a LTYM show. They appreciated and honored every story we heard in auditions, they put in countless hours of time away from their own families to work on the show and get to know our cast. They found local sponsors, made food for the cast, and helped make this show come alive.
We also had the help of our national LTYM team. All of whom are amazing mentors who know HOW TO RUN A SHOW that stretches its performances across a continent!
When little things seemed big or something made me worry, these women had my back. They responded quickly and succinctly and put everything in its place. They believed in me and one another. They support the kind of world I want to live in. I’m so proud to work beside them.
So, when next year Mother’s Day rolls around, run don’t walk to the nearest Listen To Your Mother show near you. Apply to bring it to your city. Audition. Get inspired. This show changes lives.
Listen to Your Mother is coming to La Crosse!
It’s safe to say I’m really excited to be bringing this national production that gives motherhood a microphone to my city.
If you haven’t heard about LTYM, it all started six years ago in Madison, WI with a mom and blogger named Ann Imig. She put the first show together in two months, folks! This woman is a woman after my gamechanger heart.
Now, La Crosse, WI is 1 of 41 cities across the country (and Canada) producing a live on-stage performance of original, true stories about mothers and motherhood!
Every city has a different show. Yet every city is recognizing the humorous, heartfelt, sometimes hurtful, hopefully helpful stories that come from our mothers or from being a mother.
But here’s another cool thing!
It’s really inclusive. So the show is open to women AND men. You can write about being a mother. You can write about your mother. OR you can write about the person who raised you.
Auditions are coming up all over! If you’re interested, check out the participating cities and see if there’s a show near you!
For my local friends, auditions are at the end of this month, February 20th, 22nd, and 24th by appointment. And the show date is April 30th. You can visit the Listen to Your Mother – La Crosse blog for full details.
Why am I so happy to bring LTYM to La Crosse?
Because we have a bustling arts community here with so much talent. And I’m sure a lot of people with great stories! No prior stage experience is needed. But what I truly love is the mission behind LTYM, who is committed to sharing diverse stories from all kinds of people. That’s what I love about freelance writing, interviewing strangers, performing improv, and working with my writers group.
Plus, proceeds from every show go back to an organization that benefits women and families. I’m thrilled to be working with the local YWCA for our show, whose mission is to end racism and empower women and girls.
My Local Production Team: L to R – Beth Erickson, Me, Molly Hilligoss
My production team is amazing! I’m super proud to be working with Beth Erickson, owner and editor of Jobe Communications LLC, and Molly Hilligoss, diversity and social justice advocate from the local YWCA.
We’ve been waiting a long time to hear your stories!!
Seriously, this is us gathering last November for an early Thanksgiving lunch production team meeting.
Since I had just signed them up for a lot of work,
I thought the least I could do was cook for them.
You don’t have to be a professional performer or writer to try out. You could have been on stage 100 times or 0 times. We’ll cast our show based on the full spectrum of stories we hear – kind of like making a great playlist.
So start writing, La Crosse!
Everyone has a mother story.
In just 3 days I’ll be on my way to Seoul, South Korea! All this packing and planning has me anxious and excited and strolling down memory lane of my other travels. Allow me to share a few of my favorite travel spots. And then please share with me your favorite places in the comments! I’m always looking for more travel ideas!
1. Gurnee, Illinois – Six Flags Great America
Before I’d ever left the country, or boarded a plane, I rode roller coasters. This was the all day summer trip my dad would take us kids on, following along as we made him ride every roller coaster with us and checking out the shows. My favorite time of year to go is in October during Fright Fest, when Six Flags turns into a full fledged ghost town! There’s spooky music, haunted cities, and the whole park is decorated for Halloween.
2. The Rainforest of Guadaloupe
I was incredibly lucky to be able to go on a Caribbean Cruise with a friend’s family in High School. One of the most amazing things I did was swim under the Chutes du Carbet waterfall on the french island Guadaloupe. And in true Jess form, I immediately injured myself climbing the shore back up yelling at my friend he couldn’t get up the way he was going! Wouldn’t you know it, I was the one who fell down in the mud and had some french stranger start brushing me off and chatting profusely fast. *face palm* Still a worthwhile experience!
There’s a legend about the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy. If a visitor comes to Italy and throws a coin into the fountain from over their shoulder and never looks back at the fountain, than he or she will one day return to Italy. The architecture, the food, the history, the food, the mythology,…the food!
4. Aran Islands, Ireland
When visiting the Aran Islands, you can crawl right up to the edge and overlook the water. It’s one of the most peaceful and beautiful sites I’ve seen. Plus it’s not far from Galway, which was my favorite city! Walks along the boardwalk, pubs all around, and an ocean view most places you go!
5. Voodoo Donuts, Portland, Oregon
These maple bacon bars made me want to move to Portland. I still crave them.
6. Seattle, Washington
The memorable skyline, the throwing fish, the Experience Music Project, and the city that brought you Grunge. I love it! Plus, you’ll get a workout in climbing those downtown streets! Must do when visiting Seattle, an Underground Tour! Learn the history of the city before it was built where it is now, on a guided tour just below the street.
7. New Orleans, Louisiana
For those that love history and/or love the paranormal, New Orleans is the place to go. Their tour guides are exceptional and they have plenty of tours to offer. From Graveyard Tours to Garden Districts, Plantation homes to Voodoo Queens, Jazz Museums to Swamp Rides! And don’t forget, Swamps are for Lovers!
8. Boston, Massachusetts
More for the history buffs! Take the Freedom Trail History Tour and visit places like Boston Common, Paul Revere’s House, the Old North Church, and the cemetery where Ben Franklin and Paul Revere are buried. And after putting on so many miles walking around the city, might I suggest a trip to Little Italy for some cannoli?
9. Toronto, Canada
For the hustle and bustle of a big city, visit megacity Toronto! There’s the Eaton Centre, which is the largest shopping center ever! And there’s a Distillery District for the beer connoisseur. Plus the grounds of Casa Loma are incredible to daydream about. Not to mention, Niagara Falls!
10. La Crosse, Wisconsin
Sometimes the best vacations are right in your own neck of the woods. I’m fortunate to live in a city that is bordered by bluffs and the Mississippi. Never fails to set me right again after a long walk through the bluffs. That is if you don’t do this.
Those have been my favorite places so far, what are yours?