New Beginnings Times a Billion

Apparently I only write here on Fridays now.

There’s a part of my choir of voices that are rising up singing about how that is such a failure, that I should be writing here regularly, and it’s not for lack of want. I think about things as I’m driving to work that I would like to write about. But apparently, I only give myself the time to do it on Friday.

I think this week I’m just too wrung out not to write. I don’t want to carry this over into the long weekend we have planned.

This week has been gut wrentching. Beginning on Sunday when we gathered officially for final time with Audra and Joe before they departed to DC. It wasn’t exactly as we had planned, we didn’t get the whole day together but it was ok. Just the thought of us doing that, hearing each other’s voice SAY that was what we were going to do was enough. As we are frantically running around here this morning gathering and packing and checking off lists, I know how nuts it is trying to get out the door. I refused to cave though, refused to crack because this is a great opportunity for them. Traveling to a far away place, unexplored and ripe with advenures for them, who could deny that to someone you love, right? GO! Leap! LIVE! This world is much tinier than it was back in the 90’s when I left and we stayed in touch really well back then. Today we have the internets and the texting and it’s a daily communication that will likely be stronger.

But still. I really hate goodbyes. So longs. See ya laters. I hate them.

Sunday night was the series finale of Mad Men. And yeah, I’m putting it in the box of goodbyes because I loved this show. It choked me with nostalgia at times, for a time that I don’t really remember even but that’s what it did. And it ended. And I read the entire internet about the finale. But still. It’s over.

We have had five goodbyes at work this week. Some were planned, some were announced some were a surprise. And I do believe everyone is all the better for it. People are chasing dreams, the organization will move forward. But it is a loss. It is a loss of collective memory and information. And it is a change in the every day normal at the office. Faces gone. Offices empty.

Thursday night David Letterman signed off for the final time and I have to say, that was something else I was nostalgic about. I remember talking to Scott Hill on the phone one night when we were in high school, late. Way later than I was allowed to be on my phone, I’m sure. And I distinctly remember him telling me about David Letterman. “You really should watch it. You would like it”

And because I would do most anything for the attention of a boy back then, I did. And I did like it. And I remember the bru ha ha over the Tonight Show. And I moved with him to CBS. And I went to the theatre and took photos my first trip to NYC, and I went to the Hello Deli and without meaning to, David Letterman became a central thread to many of my life’s memories. He signed off with grace and kind words and while I haven’t watched him in years mostly because I’m asleep by that time but if I am awake I’m watching Jimmy, it felt like a goodbye to *my youth, to *my memories as well.

Our neighbors have sold their house and are moving to Bend, Oregon. I remember Julie telling me last summer that they had made the decision. It was going to happen. And I am never one to say, DO NOT DO IT. Because I have done it, I have taken the leap and it brought me wild joy and lifelong friends. This is the first neighborhood that I’ve lived in where we are a community. Neighbors gather, we visit, we play and laugh together. It’s like the movies. It is wonderful.

Last night was Julie and Farrel’s last night in their house. They will depart for Bend tomorrow but will be back in a few weeks for some medical procedures. It really is just a see you in a few weeks but for the house, and knowing that it holds our friends Julie Farrel and their dog Daisy Droke as we walk by on our Winnie Walks…that is over.

YOU GUYS I CANNOT STAND ONE MORE FUCKING ENDING OR GOODBYE THIS WEEK.

The way I am with goodbyes, just ask my family. Sobbing, snot oozing mess. Stories are told that when I was a wee child, 3 years old, I would cry everytime we left someplace and I would tell EVERYTHING good bye. “goodbye trees! goodbye mountains!”

drama.

But I haven’t sobbed this week. I’ve held strong. (I’m crying now a little but man, I kind of need to) and in just a few hours we will set out for our first weekend of camping this summer. We will meet my sis and brother in law and nephews and we shall camp. No teardrop for us this time as Taryn and Brett got themselves a fancy awesome camper and there’s only one allowed per site. Winnie is going with us.

We always took our dogs camping when I was little, so we’ll see how this works out!

It has been one helluva week.

SO many new beginnings for these people in my life! For that I am excited.

I know that we have trips to DC and to Oregon in our future. For that I am excited.

I have four days off from work, to soak up and breathe in and to live this life.

For that I am excited.

and so grateful.

Cheers to new beginnings!

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Blessed Friday

It’s been a soggy few weeks here in The Plains.

Everyone’s looking on Craigslist and Ebay to buy passage on the Ark, which is surely what’s coming next if the rains keep coming down. Our lakes have filled up. From drought to FULL in 5 days.

We are lucky here, only some basement flooding and some a/c issues and Mark is working to resolve both of those.

In other news, we have managed to keep this house super clean ALL WEEK!!!

I’m not even kidding as to how that needs a celebration on it’s own.

Last week I got things planted and it’s been fun to watch them grow. The seeds have sprouted. All except for my sunflower garden, which were eaten by birds as the seeds washed to the top of the ground. It’s okay. I’ve got more.

The weekend is full of fun. Time spent with friends, celebrating big moments in life, birthdays, new adventures.

Summer Breeze concert series starts Sunday, and while that means Mark will be booked I’ll get to spend my day with Audra and enjoy some last moments before she and Joe head to DC on Monday.

Memorial Day weekend is just ahead and that means time with my sisser and her family and camping. It’ll be a short week and a long weekend and I cannot wait.

Cheers to you and yours this Friday.

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Things I Love Friday

Week one navigating a life with zero major events to produce has been lovely. Really. Lovely.

Home cooked meals in the evening, and that isn’t much of a shift, I do try to plan and cook at least 4 nights out of the 7, but lately it was more like 1 night and we would get take out or walk across to the Mont. So that was nice.

We spent time together, my husband and I and we were PRESENT. Neither of us were working on something else, answering emails, head in the phones (*that’s always me btw) we were present. We took Winnie Walks, we watched The Voice (save your disdain. I have no patience for it) and laughed and did our own critiquing. Mark’s go-to? “That’s a horrible song. Just horrible. Why did they pick that song.” Mine is: “Awwww they look so pretty!”

We went to see David Sedaris with Trish and laughed and laughed. We saw many friends in the audience, saying hello and being part of this world where great stuff happens. Participating.

I Love These Things.

Work has been great as well. Maybe because it’s the only thing I have to worry about, now. But I love that I laugh at work. I laugh a lot. There is stress, and deadlines and some prickly moments that come with working in any kind of office environment. But seriously. I laugh with my co-workers a great deal and the fact that that is a precious and rare thing isn’t lost on me.

I love that.

The sun has been shining and the weather is perfect. That goes a long way for my mental health and I love being able to get home and take long walks in our neighborhood.

I love that even though this weekend is chock full of events and some work, I will be around friends, I get to officiate a wedding tomorrow, I get to sit in a theatre on Sunday and watch my favorite kiddos perform.

We have our Girl Awards Ceremony tomorrow in OKC, and while it *is work, I’ll get to watch as over 200 of our girls are acknowledged for projects that they have finished, projects that directly give back and make an impact on their communities. They will receive their Bronze, Silver and Gold awards and that is quite a thing to celebrate.

Tomorrow night we get to be couples with another couple and have dinner and play cards against humanity and laugh and be silly.

I love this weekend.

Today is a semi-flex day for me. I get to finish up some writing, working from Norman which means no traffic-laden commute. Fridays are early days for us so I plan to go buy some of my flowers and things for the garden and finally get that planted Sunday after the showcase.

I love the anticipation of finally getting to plant.

It’s May. It’s a brand new month and at the end of it we get a long weekend camping with my Sis and her family.

Lot’s of things to love about that.

 

Happy May Day ya’ll.

 

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Best Laid Plans

Last year we had quite the crazy month of May surrounding LTYM:OKC. We had work things, big events that we were producing for work, or involved with in our real lives that needed time. We had SO MUCH GOING ON…

We, in our infinite wisdom, in our exhausted brains,  in some grasp for sanity, decided to SWITCH WEEKENDS NEXT YEAR! Let’s move it UP a weekend, to the first weekend of the production window! LET’S MOVE IT UP!

YES!

We would give ourselves a break from the MAY hell that was upon us! We would allow for a little breathing room in all of our lives and be able to really get the show up and running and have less stress! We would even allow for the possibility for representatives of the National LTYM team to get to our show in real life since it didn’t overlap one of their own shows!

YES!!!

This was the perfect plan.

Until April 2015 turned into the month from hell.

Coming off of the Clan McClellan Wedding, diving right into super heavy work loads that included a 6 day trip to NY, a super compressed LTYM schedule and then realizing that EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING on the same weekend we picked!

The Memorial Marathon, which is a really big deal here, is tomorrow morning. This weekend is also Norman Music Fest. The OKC Arts Festival is also happening in downtown OKC. And to boot, the national team is focused on the LTYM book, and budgets have shifted to that so they aren’t coming. (to be fair, they never said they *were but we held out such high hopes for our 3rd year)

SERIOUSLY!?!?!?!

But here’s the kicker.

We have an amazing cast who are sharing such GORGEOUS stories. This cast is knee deep in the intention of telling their story. Yes, being part of a national movement and community is great, yes helping our local cause is an honor but this cast? They have a story to tell and that is the root of their motivation. They are ready. They have their words and are ready to shout them from the rooftop.

These words? The pain and the glory and the tenderness and the joy and the laughter and the honor…they tell stories of loved ones so dear, of hardships so raw, of grace so deep we all gasp for air as we are steeped in it all. It is gorgeous. This cast is gorgeous. Their hearts are open wide and they are ready.

We have a full audience of well over 250 people who will come share in this tomorrow. We have the programs and we have the show book and we have the videographer and photographer, both alumni of our show, who are giving us their talent. We have the program inserts from the cause and photo fundraiser and the cast gifts and the post-show-party-place standing at the ready with extra waitstaff. We have endless threads on FB and in our text messages between the production staff with crazy Power Rangers stickers and emoji conversations. We have built a community of alumni that are ready to attend and watch as their family opens their arms to welcome a whole other group into the fold. We have generous sponsors who have stepped up time and time again to say TAKE THIS MONEY AND PUT ON A SHOW! We truly couldn’t do this without them.

It has been a ride on the StruggleBus this year with the calendar, with PR/Sponsorship stuff, with staying within all of the guidelines of producing this show. There have been true struggles and days when there was not one more ounce of energy to give to anything, much less a volunteer gig that is in it’s own right, a full time job.

Yet…tomorrow at 2:30 pm as we all walk out onto that stage and feel the love of our audience, these people who have said THIS SHOW IS IMPORTANT AND I WILL BUY A TICKET…all of this will wash away.

And we will speak.

And it will be transformative.

And the audience will be right there with us.

And we will know that the best laid plans can sometimes kick you right in the arse, but that all is exactly as it should be.

I can’t wait.

 

*Tickets available at www.ticketstorm.com

**The Day of Show Book Drive (bring a children’s book) and a portion of our ticket sales go to support Reach Out and Read: Oklahoma 

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And Just Like That…

We are approaching our Listen To Your Mother show day and it has been a whirlwind to say the least. This year’s schedule was super compressed to accommodate the Clan McClellan Wedding. There have been pros and cons to the different schedule, but at the end this week…actually this exact time next week it will all be behind us. The stories will have been told, they will be living in the ether, in the hearts and minds of our audience and our jobs will be complete.

It’s been a crazy last three months. I have had something either wedding/LTYM/Work every weekend since we turned the calendar.

So while I am looking forward to our LTYM OKC show I am also looking forward to May.

Work is going to be a zoo for awhile. We are implementing an entirely new software operating system and there is much work to be done. Next week we train. The following week we launch. So…the unforeseeable future of work is the sound of 500 chimpanzees singing Les Miserables on rotation in our heads.

But life…daily life should slow down just a tiny bit.

I get to spend time with my dearest, she and her husband are taking flight for the DC area in just a few weeks.

I will plant. OH lord will I plant. Nary a seed nor a pod has hit the dirt here at the Castle McClellan and I am tweeking. I need to get outside. I need to get my hands in the dirt and see some life spring forth. I need some color in the pots and I need some nights to just come home and sit with my husband on our porch.

At the end of the month we have a camping trip planned with my sis and her family. I couldn’t be more excited!

But while I’m super excited for what’s to come, this afternoon I ponder the coming week, ponder the last tasks to check off of our list and really gear up and get excited for our show.

Ya’ll, these stories are so gorgeous. This cast is just so amazing. I know that next Sunday is the Memorial Marathon. But we have TWO runners in our cast. The show is at 2:30. There’s time to do both. Live next Sunday to the fullest.

Come join us if you are in town!~ 

You really won’t regret it.

There’s something about the beauty of getting back to that tradition of storytelling…it really is a fabulous way to start your week.

 

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Calm the Voices

This time next week I’ll wake up in New York City.

This morning I’m working hard to be in the moment, to enjoy this easy Sunday morning, sip my coffee and reflect.

My brain is whirling with a to-do list a mile long, with tasks and shopping lists, and meal preps and show times and LTYM tasks. Things that must be finished before I leave for NYC. Things that must be finished before I leave for Tulsa to meet my sis and trade out care for our dad after his neck surgery on Thursday.

I’m thinking about our cast yesterday and the total clustercluck of the scheduling when we arrived to find people in our space, and adapting and shifting and while it worked on me a bit, that cast was wonderful.

It’s always a little tentative. The first meeting. Even when we have alumni join us, there is a tentative…reserved air that abounds. And then just like that, things open up. Smiles and laughter and heads nodding and sideways glances turn into conversations.

It’s lovely the air of protection and ownership our alumni have over this project. This movement. This transformative thing that is Listen To Your Mother. It’s lovely the show of grace and willingness to include new faces into the family.

Our schedule is compact this season. A lot due to our wedding, a lot due to the fact that the third year is by far easier and we know how to do it. I love this production team beyond words. We are so in sync. I think it translates to our cast and that connection into a community becomes the force of energy that we need to sustain us throughout the bullshit and stress that inevitably comes with producing an event.

The sun is out, the breeze is chilly, but nice. It is a day that needs to be productive for me, so I’ll go make some lists, check some things off and get on with the living.

Sitting here to write this, though has calmed me a bit. I don’t feel the crazy ebbing in like I did an hour ago.

Chalk another one up for making time to calming the voices by writing the words.

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Week Two

We celebrated our Two Week anniversary last weekend with two whole days without obligation. We slept in. We said YES to invitations that came at the spur of the moment. We spent wedding present gift cards. We came home with a Yeti Cooler for me and a Philco Predicta tv circa 1958 for him.

It was a fabulous weekend.

The week wasn’t too terribly awful either…until Thursday.

Most of my co-workers and I spent the day on Wednesday at our Girls Day at the Capitol signature event.

Sweetmotherofpearl it was exhausting.

The marble floors. Schlepping stuff from here to there. All. Those. Girls.

Exhausting.

Thursday proved one part manic and one part stabby for most all of us. The manic part won out and we laughed and laughed. We shared beers in celebration of Jessica’s impending birthday and Holly & Ben’s impending wedding this weekend. It was a good way to end the stabby day.

And today I got to work in Norman and write without interruption. Glorious.

I get paid to write.

How ’bout them apples? I had that epiphany a week or so ago. I get paid. To write. Dreams come true, sometimes they are wearing a disguise but they do come true.

It’s like the ending of Under the Tuscan Sun…when she realizes she has everything she ever dreamed of…just in a different way.

That always resonated with me. From the first viewing/reading. And it’s quite true.

Tonight there has been Winnie walk, wine, I’ve ordered pad thai, I finished House of Cards. DAMNIT. It’s over. I guess I’ll rewatch Kimmie Schmidt. And that’s about it.

I’ve got some LTYM work to do this weekend. Finalizing the sponsorships, prepping the printing. We finally meet as a cast next weekend and I’m so excited for that! Our ticket sales are going like gangbusters this week and that is SO encouraging! And through horrible horrible life twists and turns, I’ve reconnected with a sister of my soul. I ache for her pain, and at the same time see her amazing glory that shines and will just blind us all when this stupid thing is behind her.

So it’s been a good week. I hit NYC soon, I get to be at the NYC LTYM Book Launch event, which is exciting. My work team will go too, and that’s super cool April is that month that may eat us whole, but I already have a weekend camp trip planned with my sisser and her family for Memorial Day, so that’s super cool.

Cheer’s to a fab weekend!

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Every Year…It Happens

We have a cast!!!

LTYM:OKC 2015 has officially announced our cast for this year’s show and we are beyond thrilled with the stories.

We had more people audition this year than we have ever had in years past and it really was a much harder casting experience than before. The show always presents itself. Julie, Heather and I are amazed that it happens that way every year and yet…every year it does. It doesn’t help that we have to send out more Regrets than Congrats…but it’s part of the process. We heard such beautiful stories this year. Some that I wish we had heard in previous years and some that I will want to hear in coming years.

This show though…well. Whooweee!

We can’t wait until we all get together and meet each other, connect and begin to build that special community which…for me is the true heart of this movement.

Yes, I know it’s about giving motherhood a microphone. It’s about giving a voice to that story that each of us has deep inside, about validating that space where we live, where the quiet is deep and heavy and sometimes filled with darkness. It’s about shining a light out from that place and hearing the laughter and honoring those words.

Because once we hear it, we cannot “un-hear” it. Right? To paraphrase When Harry Met Sally…you can’t take it back because it’s already out there. Out There. Floating around in the flotsam and jetsam of our world, landing in the space between thoughts and settling in…waiting to bubble up at the exact needed time…to make an impact or to pronounce THIS HAPPENED AND HERE I AM.

I also know that it is about providing this beautiful thing for our community. Not only an afternoon of celebration and joy and emotion, but also by giving to our local cause. Reach Out and Read: Oklahoma is an organization that is doing the work of angels. With a staff of ONE.

Pediatricians are actually prescribing reading in their well-child/well-baby services. We all understand the power of words, and reading to our children. Now the American Academy of Pediactrics is backing it with all of their might, and Reach Out and Read Oklahoma is helping them. They provide books to clinics around our state, every child seen can get a free book to take home. How amazing is that? We are beyond excited to help support them, to showcase their work in our state and to launch a day of show book drive to provide the children in our state with books! THIS. THIS is such an honor to be a part of!

But I will tell you, for me personally, these aren’t the driving forces behind dedicating the time and money and energy into producing and directing this show.

For me…it’s the Connection.

It’s the Community.

It’s about finding that person that you may never have ever had a chance to meet, and knowing that you will be friends forever.

It’s about hearing your cast member’s story and feeling such a gut punch of “Me Too” that you are connected.

It’s about that moment where you all, each cast member, takes that step right into the most vulnerable and unknown place, and feeling each hand holding you up.

We may not all talk every day like we used to. Some of us may not continue our “real life” get togethers. Life is busy, so so busy. We may not all get to jump in and participate on every level like we want.

But what we take away from the show is that we are now part of something bigger.

We are part of a community that we never knew we wanted.

We are part of a family that we never knew we even needed.

And that, my friends…is what keeps us all coming back.

 

Big fat juicy CONGRATS to the cast of this year’s LTYM:OKC show!

Get your tickets here and get them fast. We sold some about five minutes after the link went live this year…don’t risk missing out!

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Renewal Friday

We were supposed to go to a concert tonight in Tulsa with some friends. It’s been on our calendar since way before the wedding and then POOF just kind of snuck up on us.

While we were really truly looking forward to it, when it unexpectedly got cancelled yesterday I breathed the deepest sigh of relief.

We have an entire weekend with zero obligations and boundaries.  Whatever we want to do we can do, spontaneously. Or not do. Just as spontaneously.

This week was a little rough for both of us. I didn’t get home until at least 7 most nights, I still hadn’t made it to the grocery store.

We were out of bread. coffee. sugar. dog food.

Basically the bedrock of anything…gone from the house.

Compound that with the first week of Daylight Savings time and while I am so in love with getting home in the daylight, these mornings have been quite stabby.

So I breath another deep breath of relief and thanks today.

I’m so grateful for a weekend to nest, to do yard work, to enjoy sunshine in the 60-70 degree weather we are supposed to have. I’m happy to have a moment to meal plan, and prepare accordingly for the week ahead. I’m super grateful that to day is Friday and I am working from my Norman office. It’s quiet. I can get so much writing done and checked off of my list today, which will bring an additional breath of relief.

Spring is in the air.

Allergies yes. Sneezing, for sure.

But also renewal.

It’s not fair to pin that much expectation onto a 48 hour span of time, but I’m doing it.

 

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Love. Palpable.

We got married last week.

It’s really hard to believe that it’s been a full week since the Cousins landed at Tulsa St, almost a week since the weather reports started wrecking havoc on our plans, almost a week since we had the best wedding ever.

I said earlier, there’s a reason why people take honeymoons.

We are exhausted.

Not as much as we were on Monday, but still. Don’t text me after 9pm if you want a response. I’m an 80 year old woman these days.

But I’m a married 80 year old woman.

Last week really was just everything. I was surrounded by friends and family. Yes, there was stress and looking back it’s crazy at what I was stressed about.

Not having enough room to accomodate everyone at the non-rehearsal dinner. But really, not everyone wanted a seat, so no big deal.

Not having weather conducive to everyone coming to the wedding. But really, that room was packed.

And everyone was having fun. And those that couldn’t make it really *did want to be there, and I felt worse for their not getting to join in on the fun. So what we have pounds of artichoke and spin dip and fruit and cheese. That’s going to work tomorrow. It’s absolutely fine.

It really was a blur.

Truthfully.

I tried to live in the moment, and soak it all up but it is a blur. I’m so thankful for my family and friends who helped us piece this thing together. From the flowers to the cake to the photographs to the linens to the hair and make up to the music that accompanied me down the aisle…it was perfect.

The one thing I would change is to give someone else my phone. About 60 people text/phoned/emailed their condolences and every time I looked at one I got really really sad. So I spent time that I should’ve been happy feeling like no one was coming to our wedding and that is truly ridiculous. I should’ve given my phone to someone else. Because like Sheradee said, “you’re not hearing from the people that ARE coming.”

It was like the Oprah A-HA moment.

Duh.

And so I shook it all off. Turned off the phone and focused on the now. And we kicked up some music and Mandrea did my makeup and hair and we laughed and laughed. We were all riding on the energy that something major was about to go down and it felt goooooood. We smiled for photographs, and I ran through the room in my hiking boots and wedding dress and we took photos in the snow, with my Clan McClellan tartan wrapped around my shoulders.

I am OBSESSED with these tartan and snow photos. Literally.View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/mandm

My sister was the last one in the room with me and we spoke words of these men in our lives, and the lessons we have learned along the way and about how family is so important and how I was so thankful for Mark and I to have our families around us.

I looked at her and could visibly see her heart pounding in her dress.

“I really don’t know why *I’m nervous.”

“Me neither but now I am!”

And she gave me one last flounce and went to find her seat and Macie opened the door and said, “are you ready?”

And friends, my eyes are full as I type this, because in that singular moment, I am so clear.

Yes. Yes I am.

And the first notes to “God Only Knows” rang out and out I walked.

I remember smiles and feeling a wave of thick, comforting, embracing love that met me at the door. That room was full.

Full of people that had bought plane tickets and spent lots of money to get there. People that had driven for hours across the state in the storms. People who left their houses hours earlier to be there. They were lifting us up with so much love, it was palpable. I couldn’t even process it at that moment.

My eyes were locked onto Mark and we were both holding on by a small tiny thread.

When Trisha spoke, she spoke from not only her heart but from ours too.

“He sees her”

I could’ve gone full blown ugly cry, snot-sobbing. But I held it together.

Then Kizz stood up. Complete surprise to me (and a spur of the moment collaboration between she and Trish). She read the most beautiful poem and I tried once again to hold it together.

Vows spoken and then he was kissing me and we were married!

I can’t wait to see the photographs. I know that the cake was perfect and delicious because we have leftovers and the internet has not quit talking about it. Audra knocked it out of the park with this one. For sure.

It’s been a grand week of marriage.


 I wondered if it would feel different.

It does.

I have this sense of security, deeply rooted and unshakeable.

I’ve looked for this my entire life.

That was a surprise.

Ok I have to finish this because my husband just yelled at me to come look at the full moon with him.

I am a wife.

I am his wife.View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/mandm

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