Dear Friend: A Note On SHE LOVES ME

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My life is a mess. Changes are happening faster than I can keep up with them. Most of these changes have and continue to be extremely difficult for me. I’ve had to detach from the majority of social media to be with myself, to meditate and pray through every turn life seems to be taking.

For now I’m going to put aside my messy life and the added devastation over the state of the world, to talk about something that brought with it more joy than I ever imagined possible.

Last year for my birthday, my Gramma handed me a check and told me to “go have an adventure with it.” I was completely shocked. My Gramma has never done anything like that. In true “me” fashion, I got on a plane to NYC as fast as I possibly could to be with my heart family. This trip was truly the most magical I’ve ever had in that city. Maybe one day I’ll write about it in more detail here, but right now I need to discuss the power of theatre.

On May 1, I went to see SHE LOVES ME at Studio 54 with three of my sisters. Let’s be real here, I went to this show in the first place because number one, seeing Laura Benanti on my NYC trips has kind of become the thing that My Person and I do together. Number two, the accessible seats are in the front row and I desperately wanted to hear Laura Benanti sing “Vanilla Ice Cream” right in my face. This is a thing that actually DID happen, but I was not prepared for the experience I was going to have in the theatre that day. I wasn’t prepared at all.

Leading up to this day, this particular trip had been pretty hard on my body physically. The flight was harder than usual. Once I was there, I was in a constant state of adjusting to what felt like a million different kinds of pain. Never once did I complain, because I was with my family, in my city, I was taken care of and loved. Real love means someone sits with you through pain and breaks out funny Benanti videos to make you laugh through your tears and get you pumped for the next day’s joy. (Thanks Diana. Love you.)

And joy was had that day, indeed.

From the moment we got to our seats, the excitement was shooting out of my face. I was smiling all the way up to my eyeballs and I don’t think that smile left my face for at least a week afterwards. I held My Person’s hand and as soon as the show started it was like I left the theatre and was taken to another place. There are many kinds of transcendent theatre experiences and SHE LOVES ME is transcendent joy. (Well, aside from the part of the end of Act One that depresses you right before intermission. Thank goodness for a later happy ending. It is a “romantic-ish musical comedy” after all.) There was a moment in Act Two when Zachary Levi sang part of “She Loves Me” on the steps of the stage right to me and Janice and I melted into my chair. I was pretty sure I’d never come back from that. It was the most perfect moment.

That said, this cast is wonderful. Laura went above and beyond for me when she did not have to.  My heart will remember her small act of kindness, that was much bigger than she’ll ever know, forever. Then we were escorted to the stage door where Nick Barasch was adorable, Jane Krakowski and Zachary Levi were both equally kind.

There was tangible magic in the air as my sisters and me walked away from 54th Street. We were goofing off and singing our conversations to the tune of “Vanilla Ice Cream” and practically skipping in the rain. If real life were a musical, this has been my favorite scene in mine without question.

It was hardest it’s ever been to say goodbye when I left the city this go-round. I got home to LA and was doing everything I could to try to get back to my family and this show before it closed in July. At the time, I didn’t know that it was just a “see you later.”

On June 30, SHE LOVES ME was live streamed on BroadwayHD all across the world. History was made that night as it was the first show to ever do this. I am so grateful for this and I will never understand how it was THIS production that got to make this feat. All I wanted was to see it one more time. Instead for the last week and a half, I’ve gotten to watch it as much as I want to. (Don’t ask me how many times I’ve watched, the number is high, but the joy… The joy will never leave me.) On the night of the live stream, my sister Diana sent me this text:

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I am so thankful I experienced this show with human beings who understand the power of live theatre.

To the cast of SHE LOVES ME: Thank you. The time I spent in that place with you changed me. I can’t imagine another theatre experience being as special as this. The world is so dark and broken right now and you have been a light that has shone through the darkness. You all made the world better with the gift you gave to us through your hearts and passion every night.

To the Roundabout Theatre Company and everyone at Studio 54: Thank you for this show. Thank you for every single helpful, accommodating and kind human being who worked to make that one day extra special for me and my friends without being asked. I will never forget it.

And finally, to Laura Benanti: When I got back home, I wrote you a letter. I never do that, so I’m not sure if you received it, but in case you didn’t… Thank you. There’s nothing I can say to you that will ever be enough. You didn’t know me, but you gave me your time and that is precious to me. You made me feel appreciated for supporting you. I have a very sensitive heart and soul. I am big on human connection. I believe we are all here to uplift and celebrate each other in this life. What connected in my heart that day, opened the sky for me. You made me feel like I am worthy of something wonderful. You made me embrace my own humanity when I wasn’t really feeling it at the time. Thank you for being so real, so kind and so human. You’ve forever changed me. Your place in my heart has grown beyond a capacity I never saw coming. Just… Thank you. Please continue to take care of yourself and do your own thing. You make the world brighter just as you are.

She Loves Me ended its run today. My heart doesn’t even have room to break because the joy and memories are holding it strong. And yet, this isn’t goodbye. In November for my birthday, I’ll get to see the show again in a movie theater. I don’t know how things like this keep happening with this show, but I’ve learned not to question it at this point. My Person calls it a connected invisible thread. Nothing can break it. I know, I just know, it’s God telling me it will always be here and be a reason to believe in something better.

I love you, you beautiful, joyful little sweet show. Thank you for bringing out my joy face.

Summer Stuff

It seems I can’t go an entire summer these last few years without losing my hearing at least once. My doctor looked at my ears two weeks ago after I told her of this issue and everything looked good. My ears are just that damn sensitive and now here I am on Labor Day weekend not able to hear anything. Doctor’s appointment on Tuesday cannot get here soon enough. So let’s do some writing about the summer, shall we? BECAUSE I CAN STILL WRITE. I’m all about being grateful for what I CAN do.

I spent December of last year all the way through the entire month of July fighting my medical insurance and ultimately I won. So this was both an uneventful summer, but it has also been a summer of getting stuff done. I have a new social worker, a new doctor, and a physical therapist now. Currently working on getting an optometrist and a dentist. My doctor has given me medication for things every other doctor I’ve ever had would not. Thanks to that, I am already feeling much better. This doctor is not messing around. I like her.

I had my physical therapy evaluation last week. I have two exercises I do at home for now and my first regular appointment is next Friday. To be honest, I am a little (ok, more than a little) afraid for my therapist to work with me. I had PT until I was three years old and my parents stopped taking me because my old therapist tore the Achilles tendon in my left foot. I may have been very small at the time, but I remember that day and that pain like it just happened yesterday. I’ve made the new therapist aware that happened so I’m going to be spending this week telling myself I’ll be safe with this person and it’s her job to help me. I’m sure it will be just fine. I am so grateful to even have this help. I’ve wanted PT my entire life and I’m so on top of it. Even though my ears are causing me to feel not so great at the moment, I’ve been doing my exercises every day. I’m so excited about all of it. And yes everyone who has said “take it slow” — I promise I’ll never overdo it. I’ve never been that person.

On the summer fun side of things, here’s a list…

 – I took a social media break and spent an entire month just writing. And reading. Mostly writing.
– If you’re a creative type, listen to Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Magic Lessons” podcast on iTunes. Trust me. Just do it.
– I’m obsessed with Inside Out because sometimes I am a child. Well done, Disney/Pixar.
– Bianca and I took the train to LA to see my Kristin get a star on the Walk of Fame. It was worth the longest, hottest day if only to hug KC on her birthday, truly. Also, Carol Burnett was one of the guest speakers and that really doesn’t suck either.
– There is now a couch in my living room. My Person is good to me and I am grateful.
– Speaking of My Person, Janice was back in LA for the month of August. We took the nieces out to play. We had our favorite tacos. We went to our favorite vegan restaurant. I was introduced to shaved ice. Basically, when Janice is home, we eat.
– My Jessica from Orlando booked her flight to come visit me for a week in November. Happy Birthday to me!
– I randomly won free tickets to see Kristian Bush and Rita Wilson in LA last week. That man’s music is soul-changing. And Rita Wilson is pretty classy too. Her new album is going to be fantastic. (Side note, B is now kicking herself for not telling Tom Hanks when we saw him that she played Woody at Disney World. I am just amused over it.)
– I am now mourning the loss of the mango black tea lemonade at Starbucks. Damn you, pumpkin spice latte… It’s barely September!
– I have the best cat on the face of the planet. Just a reminder.
– Playing House is the funniest show on television.

All is well. I need a nap.

City Love

There was something about looking out the window to this view for five days…

New York City and me, we were on a break for a few years.  It had been so long (nearly seven years) that I began to think we’d never kiss and make-up.  We did.  Thanks to my best friend and the best Christmas gift I’ve ever been given in my life.  My Person has always been big on giving me the people I love most for holidays and birthdays and sometimes for no reason at all.  This reunion with the City that I love was filled with so many souls I hold close – I think I am more in love with New York now than I ever was before.

Those people above are just a handful of people who came to spend some time with me. (And a couple TONY winners  who don’t suck at their jobs or as human beings.)  I didn’t get photos with everyone, but that’s the thing, being in NYC is all about time.  Time. The thing that is most important to me when I’m with ANYONE is to be present.  Nothing bothers me more than when I am with someone and they don’t look up from some technical device.  I left my computer in LA.  In five days away, I only looked at my phone when someone was supposed to meet up with me.  When I’m with you, I want to be WITH you.  I want your time and I VALUE your time.  Everyone seems to just get that there.  It fills me up beyond anything just to see the people I love smile and laugh and cry happy tears when we are together.  Shouldn’t that be most important every day?  I try to live my life that way, anyway.

We went to see some shows, because theatre is how I connect spiritually.  When I see the beauty of art coming alive before my eyes and transporting me to another place, it just instills in what I’ve always known… there is something bigger than all of us out there guiding us to make the world a better place.  This trip?  All of the shows brought a kind of joy in some form or another.  (Yes, even the lynching, in a way I wasn’t expecting.)

Honeymoon in Vegas is the first Jason Robert Brown show I’ve seen on Broadway. This show is so much fun and so funny,  Also, if you get lucky, you’ll get lei’d!  That’s right, this show comes with props.  It was a most excellent way to spend an afternoon at the theatre.  Any show with a tap dancing Tony Danza is a good time in my book.

We then saw Jessie Mueller in her TONY winning turn in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.  This woman deserved that TONY.  This show was just that… beautiful.  It reminded me of every last reason why I love theatre so much.  It made me emotional.  I cried through a good portion of it. I feel so grateful that I got the opportunity to see it.  And then I met Jessie and she was just a down-to-earth, humble, spectacular human being.

Next up was the revival of On The 20th Century with my Kristin.  Where do I even begin with this show?  I am that person whose favorite shows are the old school classic shows and anything that has that sort of feel to it.  On The 20th Century was right up my alley.  I LOVED every last second of this show, and not just because my girl was fabulous in it.  When the promos and reviews are all calling it “a madcap musical comedy” that is no joke.  I snort-laughed at this show.  I laughed until I cried at this show. I laughed so hard my side hurt and had to shift in my chair. …And that was just by intermission.  That ensemble is INSANE.  Peter Gallagher can sing me all of the things all the time now.  Andy Karl and Kristin are the perfect pair.  I’m so proud of my sweet friend.  She’s working so hard and she was born to play this role.  I am so grateful I got to see her play one of her dream roles.  I am grateful that I got to shower her with the love she so deserves afterwards as well.

Ah, the final show on the itinerary… the Parade concert at Lincoln Center.  Parade was the first Jason Robert Brown show I ever saw on stage. I saw the production in Los Angeles a few years ago with T.R. Knight in the role of Leo Frank.  That production was fantastic, but this? This production of Parade was absolutely the most amazing thing I’ve seen on stage in my entire life. I am completely serious.  A full orchestra, a 200+ person choir, JRB conducting, Jeremy Jordan, Laura Benanti and the most incredible ensemble and musicians… It’s been a little over a month and I am still at a loss as to how to describe how it made me feel.  I’ve never left so inspired by a piece of art.  I do know that I walked out reaffirming that experiences like that are the reason I come to New York,  Something so stunning couldn’t have happened on that scale anywhere else.  Unbelievable.

It also has to be said that The Last Five Years movie was perfect.  Every frame.  Every moment.  Every note.  Perfect.  (Though selfishly I did miss the original “I hate these fucking shoes” line.)  Thank you to everyone involved with bringing something loved by so many to a different medium so we could keep it forever. It’s incredible.

So, that was basically my adventure.  There were people.  There was theatre.  There was food.  There was A LOT of laughter and A LOT of hugging.  All of it together revived my soul, as New York always does.  But this time it was like it took extra care, to make up for such a long absence.  That absence will never happen again.  Ever.  I need it way too much to ever stay away.

Thank you to all of you who gave me YOUR time.  I value your time and treasure you.  Every last one of you.  I love you.  And Janice, My Person, I don’t even have words for you.  Thank you for being the one who gets me.  Thank you for knowing what I need and just wanting me to feel all of the joy and love all the time.  No amount of saying “thank you” will ever express the gratitude I feel for all you do for me in life and in our friendship.  I love you.

The Pink Blanket

A nomadic sort of life makes me not so much a “stuff” person.  I don’t have an over-abundance of belongings.  I’ve never been a “stuff” person.  The life that I’ve had is cause for material things and even memories in things like photographs to be lost.  I am okay with this because life has never been what I own to me, it’s always been about who has stayed with me on this journey.

However, I want to tell the story of my pink blanket.

It was Christmas 2006; my first Christmas with my heart family. My Kristin was in NYC doing a revival of The Apple Tree and that Christmas, my Fancy Nancy had gotten me a winter outfit and accessories along with a pink blanket and the poster from Kristin’s production of The Apple Tree.  After opening all of the gifts, she surprised me and told me she had gotten me front row tickets to see The Apple Tree in February.  I had never seen Kristin in a show before, let alone sat in the front row, I was beside myself with love and gratitude.  How I’d been blessed with people who just like to see me happy, is still a concept I adjust to.

In the month and a half between that Christmas and the trip, I broke in that pink blanket and grew quite fond of it.  When I was a baby, my grandma crocheted me a blanket and over the span of my life, someone in my biological family stole it and I never saw it again.  So to now have a blanket that came from someone else who truly loved me, it meant the world to me.  The blanket traveled with me to NYC.  The trip itself was like something out of a storybook, because NYC feels so much like home, being there never feels like real life.  When I came back to LA from this trip, every time I used that blanket, it felt like I was wrapping myself in the magic and the memories created at the time.

Nine years later, my Fancy Nancy isn’t with us any longer. In that time and consistent instability that is my life, I’ve also lost all the things she got me for that trip, including the pink blanket.  The things are fine, because like I said, I have the memories, but something about losing that blanket gets to me whenever I think about it.  Maybe it’s a protection thing, I’ll never know. And that NYC trip is probably the only one I can tell you every last detail of if you asked me, that’s all that matters.

Christmas 2014; my first Christmas on my own. One day in December, My Person who now lives in NYC full time, called me on FaceTime to tell me she was going to fly me to NYC in February so we could see The Last Five Years movie together.  I started bawling my eyes out right there on FaceTime.  When your best friend moves across the country, getting on a plane for something as simple as going to see a movie together is extremely important when you miss them as much as I miss Janie.  We are also going to see some Broadway shows and I get to see my east coast heart family who I haven’t seen in six years.  It also happened that Kristin’s newest Broadway endeavor, On The 20th Century, begins previews the night I land back in that city with the people I love, so we’ll be seeing her at some point while I’m in town as well.  All of this was so overwhelming for me, I couldn’t stop crying. With the way my year had been going, just knowing that the person who gets me, who I love so much I can’t ever explain it in words, wanted to do this to be with me, to let me be somewhere that felt like home, to see me so happy, was a lot for me to handle. The gratitude I feel is off the charts.

From the second I was given this news, I’ve been in a constant state of preparation.  I haven’t been to NYC in the cold in eight years.  My body is completely different than it was all those years ago.  I want everything to go smoothly so I get the most out of my time.  I don’t want my body to struggle in that pending kind of cold. The goal is to keep as warm as I possibly can.  So a couple of weeks ago when My Person emailed me and said: “Bring a blanket for your chair, to sit on and cover up with when we go out.”  I knew exactly how to remedy this.  The pink blanket would get replaced.

A few months ago, one of my angel girls sent me a few gift cards as a housewarming present so I could get some things I needed.  One of them was for Pottery Barn, and I took someone’s suggestion to use that one sporadically whenever I discovered I needed something while trying to live this new life. Little by little, I’ve been using this card, but yes, I did use it to get a blanket for this trip since I don’t have extra blankets yet.  And yes, as you can see in the photo above, it had to be pink because it wouldn’t have felt right traveling to NYC in the winter with anything other than a pink blanket.  It’s just an added bonus that it came from one of my favorite humans on the face of the planet.  I’ll break it in now, as I did the one before, and it’ll be like she’s with me.  We’ll go on an adventure together, my blanket and me, and I’ll come back to reality with the reminder of memories yet to be created every time it is wrapped around me once again.  The best part is, the new pink blanket has a home and is in no danger of ever being left behind.  I realize this whole story makes me seem to be a little bit like Linus van Pelt with such fierce attachment to a blanket.  I know it’ll sound crazy to most who read this and that’s okay.  At least I have a Sally Brown in my life who loves the Linus in me, so that’s comforting.

Sometimes the simplest things have the deepest meaning in the world.  I am grateful for the past, for the now and for what’s to come. Blessed to have the ability to let the smallest things fill my heart.  Something gives me the feeling this adventure is going to be one for the record books. Soon, away I’ll fly.

(…Also pictured: The headphones I got for the plane for my super sensitive ears.  They feel like clouds and the sound that escapes them feels like it crawls its way into my brain,  This must be what music is like in Heaven.)

Surprises and Joy

There’s a thing that happens when you become so self-aware, you watch yourself grow in mind, body and spirit in a way you never could before.

On June 21st, it was Opening Night at the Hollywood Bowl and my Kristin was being inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame along with The Go-Go’s and Pink Martini.  When something like this happens for her, it makes me so proud and it meant so much that it was happening in a place that has become so special in the time we have known each other.

Stephanie had gotten us pretty spectacular seats, and I couldn’t wait to be there with her, drinking boxed sangria and enjoying the music like the classy broads we are.  It doesn’t get better than a summer night at the Hollywood Bowl.  My only wish was that the rest of our family could have been there to share in such a special night.  And then this is a thing that actually happened:

My Person surprised the hell out of me, and she brought Annie and Anne with her.  The moment that happened the rest of the night went out the window.  I couldn’t concentrate on what was happening on the stage.  I couldn’t stop crying.  I could only laugh and hold onto the handful of precious family sitting right next to me completely baffled that they were there. Six weeks of secrets, lies and decoy social media posts came down to these moments.  Moments of real, tangible love.

We had a sleepover, watched an unhealthy amount of television, ate junk food, gathered around the fire pit and then Anne and Annie spent the whole week here.  These moments are why I understand when Janie says she wants someone to write the story of our family, and I swear one day I’ll be the one to do that if it’s the last thing I do. The week was truly like magic.

There was also an unexpected balance to the week –  people telling me I needed to be doing other things and not spending time with my family.  People telling me my happiness upsets them.  People disrespecting my angel girls to my face.  This all happened with several people and then the self-awareness kicked in and I realized that none of these people could take my joy from me.  My life has been one giant stress ball as of late and I was allowed a week away from it to recharge.  I needed it.

I emailed one of my angel girls last night and said the following:

[As all this negativity was happening around me], I watched as I stepped outside of the situation and told myself it was ok to hang onto this happiness and I didn’t need someone else’s darkness to steal my light. I watched my own growth happen. To realize that light is so precious and rare in my life and I have every right to own my joy. It’s mine and nobody else’s.

Last night My Person said to me, “Own your joy.”  And you know what?  That’s what I’m doing.  I’ve fought my entire life for happiness.  I’ve fought my entire life to be able to say “I love you” to other human beings and truly know what that meant.  I’m not going to apologize or feel bad because my happiness can sometimes be an inconvenience to someone else.  In my current situation, there is absolutely nothing I can do right now, it’s a lot of waiting.  Waiting and stress.  So when joy and love stopped by for a visit, I had every right to hold on as tightly as I could without having to justify it.

Life is too short to be unkind and bring people down.  Find something to smile about.  Go out of your way to do something kind for a stranger.  Be grateful to the people who love you.  Be happy for those you love when something beautiful happens to them.  There’s no room in the light for darkness, and the light is warmer anyway.

Own YOUR joy.  You’ll make the world a better place.  Thank you to my family for being the people you are. You are everything I wished on stars for as a child.  I love you.

Life lately…

Apparently a lot can happen in the three months since I’ve posted.  Life has had the highest of highs and lowest of lows.  So, life lately… what’s been going on?  A bullet list:

  • I saw Audra McDonald in concert for the second time.  She is not human.  She is an angel of voice.
  • I won tickets to a private Sara Bareilles concert in October and it just aired on PBS this past weekend.
  • My Person, Nicki and Steph gave me a birthday worth something in November.
  • Megan Hilty sings pretty too.  Saw her sing at Catalina’s.  Missed her so very much.
  • My pal Georgia played a nun in The Sound of Music Live.  We had fun playing “Spot the Stitt!”
  • My Kyla flew to LA to surprise me as an early Christmas present.  I still can’t believe she did that.
  • Frozen has become a pretty unhealthy obsession.  Elsa is my favorite.  Ever.
  • Anne and Annie were here for eleven days for Christmas and New Year’s and I got to be with them all but two of those days.
  • We sang Christmas Carols at Walt Disney Concert Hall with The Queen of Everything… Julie Andrews.
  • Saving Mr. Banks is magical.
  • Anne and Annie surprised me with tickets to see Celine Dion in Vegas.  It was the first time I’ve seen her live. I wept openly through the entire concert.
  • We saw my Kristin on New Year’s Eve in Vegas.  Because you only live once, right?  We got to love on her too which made all of our hearts happy.
  • I had my Christmas at Disneyland day on the last weekend of the season with Stephanie and Tiffany.  It was beautiful.
  • I went to the Mary Poppins sing-a-long at the El Capitan where Richard Sherman (composer of Mary Poppins) played the music for us.  It was one of the most magical experiences of my life.
  • My Person moved to NYC.  I miss her every single day.  So much.
  • I had emergency surgery to have my gallbladder removed.  Turns out this has been the cause of ALL the health issues I had no answers for.  The surgeon said it needed to come out SEVEN years ago.  Glad I have answers and got it fixed.
  • Not glad about how much this recovery sucks.
  • I had an interview for an accessible apartment.  I should be hearing if I got it very soon.
  • I got an air purifier so I can breathe in this chimney.
  • There are nine people living in this house right now and I’d like to jump out a window.
  • I’m really struggling right now and really grateful for the handful of people that have been here for me.  I’m trying to stay positive, but it’s dark down here.

More substantial post when I go back to normal.  I just thought it might help me write this all down because I’m emotionally overwhelmed.  It helped.

Little Sponge

Something I need to work on:  Talking to people.

When I was a freshman in high school, my school was two stories and logistically I had to have all my classes on the second floor.  This left an opening in my schedule where I should have had a science class, and I ended up spending an hour every day tutoring a boy who had been shot.  I tutored him in math, and I’m pretty sure I should never tutor another human being in math.  I thanked God every day it was just a general math class and I felt blessed and privileged to be the one to help him.  I hope I made an impact on his life.

Over time his teacher, Ms. B. and I got really close.  Since she wasn’t teaching me, I’m not sure where that teacher/student line was supposed to be, but she became my mentor in this life.  She was the first person that ever noticed something wasn’t right with my life at home.  She pulled me aside and I felt safe enough to open up to her.  She took me under her wing, encouraged me, loved me, provided for me in ways I had never been provided for up until that point, and basically helped me cope with how emotionally stunted I was.  For the first time in my life, I had someone I could actually talk to, and when I wouldn’t or felt I couldn’t, she would make me talk it out anyway because she knew that’s what I so desperately needed.  Teachers are the real heroes in this crazy mixed up world.

When the second semester of my freshman year rolled around, Ms. B. had talked to my guidance counselor about putting me in her other class, called Affective Skills, in my open hour.  So off to Affective Skills I went.  It was a very small class – no more than ten people – and we all came from what seemed to be what one would call ‘troubled’ situations.  The class was VERY personal.  The point was, we shared all about what was going on in our lives, what we’d been through, and what we could do to make ourselves better, more productive and well-adjusted human beings in society.  The class was all about personal integrity, finding your personal power and growing with it, and the power of positive thinking.  I saw very quickly why she wanted me to be a part of that class.  That one class for that one semester changed my life.

Most of the time during class I was very quiet.  As the weeks went by and I got more comfortable, I came out of my shell, but I’ve never been the outgoing girl in class.  I was more the quiet one in a corner wishing I wasn’t in that room and could be working alone on my own.  Naturally, Ms. B worked this out of me and I was more active than normal but still not as vocal as I could have been.  However, this wonderful thing began to happen to me… I would sit in this class and she’d teach that day’s lesson and I wouldn’t say a word at times.  But every day, on my own, I’d go home and write a poem about whatever it is we learned that day.  I’d take it with me to school the next day and my words would blow her away.  I did this every single day without fail for that entire semester.  So, if I wasn’t talking, this is how she knew I was listening, and not only was I listening, this is how she knew I heard her.  Because of the way I soaked up every ounce of this class, she began referring to me as her “Little Sponge.”  When I couldn’t speak, the written word had saved me, as it continues to do today.  The written word has never failed me.

I need to find a way to grow out of that dependency.

Last week, I had brunch with my sister and my Susan.  It was a lovely brunch and I am glad we had that much needed time together.  I got Susan up to speed on everything going on with me and the conversation got pretty heavy and involved.  It was a very one sided conversation because, well, even though it’s not an excuse, I’m not good at talking to people.  I revert so quickly if I talk to you in person, no matter who you are, and it’s not something I’m proud of.  I realize that this action leaves people to wonder if I actually hear them.  They know I’m listening, but am I actually really LISTENING?  Do I HEAR you?  I do.  I hear you.  I hear all of you.  All of the things Susan talked to me about that day were things I need to hear and be told in such a way.  My brain sat there and soaked up every word she said, even if I didn’t know what to say in the moment.  That’s how I work.  My Person calls it “marinating,”  I marinate on on every word, absorbing it and taking it in as the “Little Sponge” I’ve always been.

I want to break that this habit.  Not necessarily being the sponge, because I think it is vitally important that voices are heard, since so many aren’t.  But after we left Susan the conversation continued in the car and even then it was hard for me to talk to Janice.  And she pointed out that if I can’t even have a conversation like this with my best friend, how could I move forward?  I didn’t like that.  I don’t want people to think that I don’t trust them, especially the people I love the most in the world.  Because in the case of Janice and Susan and several others, that is so far from how I really feel.  I’d trust them with my life, with anything.  So all of this has been “marinating” in my head for over a week now and now I really just want to do my best to fix it.

Since then, I’ve gotten organized and began taking even more steps in bettering my life as I need to keep doing each day.  Walking this path however, requires me to do things I’ve never done before as well as things I’m too scared to do or plain just terrified to do because I don’t want to talk to anyone.  Like today, I had to call businesses and government agencies eight times.  Eight.  By the time I was finished I was almost in tears.  But you know what?  I’m glad I did it.  I had to do it.  No one is going to do any of this stuff for me.  They may help and be supportive when I need it, but change has to come from me.  Change is coming from me because I want it.

I don’t want to be scared anymore.  Verbal words are just words.  They’re the same words written out before me.  They’re the same words that have always saved me.  So why am I so scared of my own voice if it comes in a different form?  How do I change it?  Janice says I practice.  If I actually have to practice having conversations with people out loud, I will, because this is ridiculous.

I’m jumping in.  Talk to me.