Listen To Your Mother Came To Portland

Listen To Your Mother came to Portland. 

I know. I was there.

32 cities across the country each produced a local show that featured 90 minutes worth of stories that were honest, shocking, raw, inspirational, validating, familiar, hilarious and new. Over a thousand stories that took the stereotype of motherhood -- any stereotype: soccer mom, adoptive mom, stay at home mom, sitcom mom, hippy mom, absent mom -- and tore them open to reveal a unique portrait of human life.

We did that. We wrote and edited and auditioned and rehearsed. We overcame the urge to just "drive this car around and skip the audition altogether". We practiced pausing, 8 seconds, before beginning to read our piece, so that ultimately, the stories could be produced for YouTube so that anyone -- anyone -- could watch them. Dissect them. Interpret them. Listen to them.

We agonized over finding local sponsors. We sweat bullets over ticket sales. We spammed our own social media feeds with promotional efforts and hashtags: #LTYM #PDX #MOTHERSDAY #ISANYONLISTENING #DIDYOULEAVE #IPROMISEYOULLLOVEIT #HELLO?

We neglected our other writing habits. And found temporary refuge in publicly postponing all other interests until possibly June.

 We cried. We laughed while clenching kegels until our earlobes ached. We spent a lot more time on Instagram. There was a general sense of We going around. Connected nationally with 31 other Director/Producer teams. Google Hangouts were a thing. The Laura to my Mary, Carisa, overwhelmed Facebook chat on more than one occasion, pinged it into temporary hibernation, and we had to result to good ol' fashioned SMS texting. We were constantly dialed in, and it was exhilir ... exhal ... exhausting. And the richest, most beautiful, most life-changing thing since childbirth or eating sushi for the first time.

Somehow during the course of a little more than half a year, I became inspired, motivated and brave enough to take more control over carving out the life niche that would best suit my own life story. I left one job after almost 8 years. And then 3 short months later, I announced that I was leaving that job  too, to work independently at this thing I call mamoré. And so I worked that still-new job, and my own new independent project, simultaneously, in the month leading up to the show.

Then I had the anxiety dream to bite all the nubby fingernails off of your anxiety dreams.

And then we were in The Green Room, waiting to tell our stories into the microphone. Into the video camera. Into the ears of whomever might listen. And we knew we had sold tickets but we still prayed that people would actually show up. That they would think that our Portland show was worth an hour and a half of their Portland time. That they wouldn't have gotten distracted by the Grilled Cheese Bus just up the road.

And then they came.

They DID.

YOU came. And you listened to our hearts as we strummed them across the flat words of the laminated pages, flayed open on the podium, a different tone, each one. And I believe that you not only listened, you loved. And if I believe that, that you loved a bit bigger during those 90 minutes (orrrr slightly longer), then I, by the stars above, call that a resounding success.


First and foremost, thank you to Carisa Miller. For cosmically connecting with me as my soul sister. For fretting with me but never frowning at me. For throwing zingers at me when I was about to collapse under the weight of my own addiction to upheaval. For directing a beautiful show in our phenomenal city.

Second, thank you to Ann Imig, mother of it all. I am quite confident that it was in part because of this experience that I am now working independently, supporting the stories that I love the most. You have given me a foothold to launch myself over the fence I'd been straddling and into the sparkling pool on the other side.

To Melissa, Stephanie and Deb, for your coaching, your grooming, your gentle-yet-appropriately-firm tsk-tsking over my newbie mistakes, for your presence, kindness, talent and support.

And to these guys. Johann Leiter and Tracey Whitney, our show photographer and videographer. They put their faith in this project, in Carisa and I, and in YOU, Portland, and they captured each moment with the clarity of the day itself. My future memory is forever indebted.

Thank you my love, Tim Scott, for holding me through the anxiety dreams, for not finger-wagging too hard when I lumped a DIY gift project onto my plate, and for taking our beautiful rehearsal photos.

To our local sponsors. Gah. Loves Yous Guys. I hope all who are READING THIS RIGHT NOW will go give them a likey-loo. And then I promise to never EVER say likey-loo again. Thank you to Womens Healthcare Associates (my midwives through both births!), Zenana Spa (my post-show unwinding oasis), Crafty Wonderland (my pre-show shopping adventure), Radio Room (my new bffs and after-party host), Bolt Fabric Boutique (my constant inspiration to maybe someday though it's not bloody likely take up sewing but I could possibly become a fabric collector ... ), and Toro Bravo Cookbook (because honestly, have you eaten their food?).

To the LTYM National Sponsors, Chevrolet and BlogHer. Without them, this would all still be a twinkle in Ann's eye.

And finally, without these voices, there would have been no song. Just a lonely, buzzing, gangly microphone.

Leanne Goolsby - 

is a native Oregonian who calls Portland home, single mum to human son Tabor and puppy son Thunder, first-time homeowner, pseudo-designer, runner, writer, sewist, chef. Constantly in the middle of approximately 53 semi-finished projects, Leanne has what could only be described as a messy, beautiful, imperfect, brilliant life. For those wishing to see an overabundance of adorable puppy-and-kid pictures, DIY projects, and general musings, Leanne can be found on the internets via her website, Lea Camille.

Jessica Peyton Roberts -

is a Higher Education Consultant and Director of Aim High Writing, where she works with parents and students to find the right college, financial, and scholarship options to fit their family’s needs. She is married to her best friend, Ben, and is Pet Mom to three rescue animals – Mercury the Dog, George the Cat, and Gloria the Kitten. You can find her writing about succeeding in school, along with an occasional photo dump of her pets, on her blog.

Tracey Barnes Priestley - 

enjoys a career as both a writer and life coach. A former syndicated columnist (Juggling Jobs and Kids), her debut novel is Duck Pond Epiphany. Always ready for a new adventure, Tracey currently writes and blogs about the good, the bad, and the ugly she, and countless others face, on her website The Second Half.  Married to the dearest man and the mother of three amazing, and all grown up, children, Tracey lives in the redwoods of northern California with her recently retired husband and their loyal mutt, Bella von Doodle.

Melissa Sher -

Melissa Sher, her husband, and their three boys moved to Portland a couple of years ago. (No, they don’t mind the rain.) Melissa’s writing has been featured frequently in the Huffington Post, New York Times’ Motherlode column, Chicago Tribune, and on bathroom stalls all over this beautiful country. She was also named to the Babble 100: Top Bloggers of 2013 (and her mother wasn’t even one of the judges!). You can read her on her blog, Mammalingo; or just go outside and yell as loud as you can. Even if she can’t hear you, it will feel good.

Jenny Forrester -

is mother to a 20-year-old world-traveling college student who is thriving despite having been raised on stories that began with the phrase, ‘When I was a kid…’ She has been published in Nailed Magazine, Small Doggies Press, The Literary Kitchen, Hip Mama Magazine, Penduline Press and Indiana Review, among others. She won the Richard Hugo House New Works Competition and was runner up in Indiana Review's 1/2K prize in 2011. She and Ariel Gore co-edited an anthology called The People's Apocalypse. Jenny curates Portland's all-female and female-identified Unchaste Readers Series.

Nadia Martinez Chantry -

Mujer, madre, maestra. Nadia Martínez Chantry lives in each of these roles, moment by moment, day by day. She is sustained by a ukulele playing partner, her supportive parents and sister, and wine drinking friends. A Portland native and mother of three young sons, Nadia spends the majority of her time listening to stories of monsters and fire trucks, singing about animals, pillow fighting, and validating injustices, such as, broken toys or skin and being chosen last. Nadia is a survivor with a simple daily goal; to find, amplify, and honor her own strength as a woman, a mother, and a teacher.

Renée Butcher

is a writer, teacher, autoharpist, and proud native Portlander.  Forever an eastside girl at heart, she is now blissfully living out her second act on the left side of the river with her high school sweetheart, and claims six daughters as the inspiration for much of her creative work.  In her spare time, you can find Renée writing love songs about cowboys, exploring the moss-covered nooks and crannies of the Pacific Northwest, and making music with her talented singer-husband.  An expert plate spinner, she is also the founder and driving force behind The White Shield Project, a work-in-progress dedicated to collecting and preserving the stories of the Portland Salvation Army White Shield Home, where she was born.  Read her at The Good Hearted Woman, where she writes about food, music, books, and good vibes.  

Sage Cohen -

writes books and poems, essays and love letters, strategic marketing campaigns and thank-you notes. She is the author of The Productive Writer and Writing the Life Poetic, both from Writer’s Digest Books, and the poetry collection Like the Heart, the World from Queen of Wands Press. Her articles about the writing life have been featured in multiple editions of Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market and Writer's Digest magazine. Sage believes that we are shaped not by the experiences we have but by the stories we tell about those experiences. She offers strategies and support for writers online, at The Path of Possibility and for parents navigating divorce at Radical Divorce.

Meghan Yow - 

is a local-ish newbie blogger who spends her days making ridiculous messes in her kitchen, dancing like an idiot, and singing terribly at the top of her lungs all in the company, and for the enjoyment, of her three little stinker children and her awesome stinker husband. Her mission in life is to be a rad-tastic mom, wife, daughter and friend. She has an absurd attachment to glittery things, books, and mismatched socks. You can follow her budding blog Glitter and Goldfish, and even check out some of her wares (if she has been in the crafty mood) at her Etsy shop, Oh Pick Me.

Deb Stone -

Deb Stone’s work has appeared in The Oregonian, Portland Tribune, Portland Upside, and Clackamas Literary Review, and her essay “Waiting at Windows” is in the forthcoming anthology Stepping Up: Stories of Blended Families. She has been a birth, foster, step, and adoptive parent to over thirty children; a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for another two dozen abused and neglected kids in Oregon foster care; and has twenty years experience providing training to child advocates, social workers, and parents. She is currently seeking representation for her recently completed manuscript, Mother Up: A Memoir.
Clarissa Moll -

is mama to four spirited kids and wife to a handsome silver fox. In her former life, she worked with college students as a public speaking instructor and competitive speech coach. These days, she provides communications expertise to small non-profits, speaks to groups, and negotiates inter-child diplomacy in her domestic kingdom. Clarissa can proudly identify most dinosaurs and has a not-so-secret crush on Robert McCloskey. She and her family make their home in the Seattle area.

Nikki Schulak -

With 10 years of psychotherapy under her belt, and menopause right around the corner, Nikki Schulak is finally coming into her own.  Her writing has been featured in hipMama Zine, The Yellow Ham, Errant Parent and Bellevue Literary Review, and she received an honorable mention in the 2012 Sports Poetry & Prose Contest at Winning Writers.  Her essay "On Not Seeing Whales" was a notable selection in Best American Essays 2013; she strongly prefers Ambien over Lunestra, tagalongs over thin mints, and the aisle seat over the window.  Her self-published books, The Emperor's New Jump Rope and My Midlife Thong Crisis are sometimes available at Powell's.

Let's. Do. This. Again. Portland.

I'd just like to point out that this is the appropriate usage of comic sans. 


Ann Imig said…
I have real tears in both eyes. I needed this boost this morning--not for my ego, but for my soul.

I love your energy and humor and the gorgeous way you put even this post together. I never saw that Little House photo--LOLOL.

THANK YOU, KELLI. So much. I cannot WAIT to see your show.
I can't wait to watch your show. So glad we could take part in this little adventure together from across the country!

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