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LTYM:RDU Alums Speak

by KeAnne on May 4, 2017

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Since this is the grand finale season for Listen to Your Mother, Marty and I thought it would be appropriate to have members of prior casts share what being part of a Listen to Your Mother:Raleigh-Durham cast has meant to them.  Our 5th and final Listen to Your Mother:Raleigh-Durham show is Friday, and I can’t think of a better love letter to the show, our casts and the experience.

Ronnie Bower, ’13:

I’d always thought of myself as a writer, but LTYM was the first time I presented myself to the world as a writer. It scared the sh*t out of me but was one of the most vulnerable and authentic things I’ve ever done. I showed the world the person–the writer–I knew I was. That I know I am.

Betsy Martin, ’14:

To claim my voice, my story and to be stubborn enough to shout I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY is a crucible experience and I came out morphed into someone who lived life with fewer apologies for the space I take up in this world. I claimed my truth and then I committed myself to owning my response to the world, even though I still can’t control the situations that confront me (&!$@ if only I could!). Life is challenging, but since LTYM I do remind myself to live mine in a way that if I have to stand on stage and tell it, I would be proud.

Ann Conlon-Smith, ’15:

The validation of sharing my story, being listened to, and feeling the shared empathy was one of the most empowering things I’d done in my lifetime. I felt like an audience larger than my family and friends now knew my son and what it was like to lose him along with my heart. 

Caroline Maclaga, ’16:

I saw the world with new eyes after my daughter died. At first I had so much I wanted to share about this reality. After reading the books and blogs of other loss moms it felt like my voice wouldn’t add much to the conversation. Just the act of auditioning for LTYM helped me to believe my voice matters. We all have spheres of influence. Whether our platforms are a stage, writing books, Instagram posts, or conversations with a friend over coffee, when we tell our stories we grant other people permission to tell theirs.

Lindsay Onofrio, ’13 and ’16:

LTYM has changed so much about me. I had the honor of participating in the first show for Raleigh/Durham. I was so intimidated being a simple stay at home mom/wanna be writer. I could barely make conversation with adults yet I found myself surrounded by all these accomplished wonderful people. The experience showed me that every one has a voice and that I had more talent with words than I had given myself credit for. My second experience last year was even better. Gone were the feelings of mediocrity and comparing myself to the others. I was excited to see the other women experience the thrill, the nerves, the pure rush of connecting with each other and with every person in the audience. I am still working on being a writer and not a wanna be and I tear up every time I think about this being the last year of the show. LTYM has a permanent place in my heart, my soul and my life.

Katie Gailes, ’16:

As a member of the 2016 cast, I was able to tell a story that honors the two most important women in my life; my mother and my daughter. The relationship that I enjoy with my daughter is the most important gift that I received from my mother. LTYM allowed me thank her out loud and pass the gift on to my daughter. I will never forget my LTYM experience.

Erin Lindquist, ’15:

 It gave me a way to share my cancer story with a public yet supportive community, and bring humor to my sorrow. My confidence and skill in story writing and telling grew exponentially through the experience as well.

Anonymous:

I spent twelve years in an emotionally abusive marriage. My ex did a lot of really hurtful things–things that eventually meant the court intervened and provided me with a domestic violence protective order for two years after he left. Although writing has always been my passion, it was one of many things I wasn’t allowed to indulge in while I was married. (Yes, not allowed.) In fact, although it’s not one that would make much of a difference in court, one particularly emotionally destructive episode I remember was when I confided in my then-husband, about a year after the death of our daughter, that I wanted to finally write the book that dozens of people had been encouraging me to write for years. His response: “You can’t even keep the house clean or keep the laundry done. You need to learn to do those things before you can write.”

Several years later, he had left me–alone with a traumatized seven year old and a newborn–and I saw a post about LTYM on Facebook. I was working and raising my kids and dealing with legal custody battles and I had no time for something so frivolous. But I submitted something I wrote anyhow. And I was selected as one of the inaugural cast members. It was the first thing I had truly done on my own, for myself–something he would never have allowed me to do. And it was the first time I really considered myself a writer.
 ***
Thank you for your words, your stories, your participation, yourselves.  Each cast, each show had its own flavor and flare, and it has been our honor to meet you and work with you.  Keep speaking your truth and being brave, you wonderful, amazing women.
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