On the Road

The Fall of Change

September 19 Last Year………..

Let me start by saying that this blog should have been posted on September 19. It was written, in my head at least. I had the best intentions to post on that day. But September 29 will have to be close enough.

One year ago, on September 19, 2011, Noah had his first audition for Billy Elliot. I remember the day well, even though I wasn’t there. We found out about the audition just the week before and I had already planned to be in California with my husband for a Bat Mitzvah. So, Noah’s dad arranged to take that Friday off and take Noah to his audition in New York City. I was disappointed that I couldn’t be there but I guess being on tour is making up for this. Since I wasn’t at that first audition, you can read Noah’s reflections one year later (to come in a follow-up blog post soon).

But I do clearly remember being in Palo Alto, CA. in our rental car, when Noah’s dad called me three days later to tell me that the casting director called and said she wanted Noah to come in for a call-back.  Noah was on the “very short list” for the role of Billy Elliot. Since that moment, our lives have been on quite a different trajectory. Things began changing for all of us. Noah indeed had his call-back: a two-day audition in January of 2012. I was with him at that audition and began to sense that this could be the start of a new chapter in Noah’s life – all of our lives. It was.

So, here I am: one year after that first audition. In Buffalo, New York. On the Billy Elliot tour. Eating in hotel rooms, doing laundry in laundromats, writing blog posts in Starbucks across the U.S.A. I miss my husband, my other sons, my dog, my life. But I am grateful for this incredible opportunity to watch Noah shine in his new life, meet fabulous new people, and see the country.

I have spent the last couple of weeks reflecting on how much has changed in this one year – this year that seemed to fly by. Last September, Noah went to New York City with a dream. This September he is living that dream. Last September, I was thinking about how this tour thing would ever work for our family. This September we are making this tour thing work, despite its difficulties. Last September I spent the Jewish New Year in California with my husband and in-laws. This September we spent the Jewish holidays in Memphis and Buffalo just the two of us (and our Billy Elliot family). In fact, this Yom Kippur (September 26) Noah appeared on two television morning news shows — not our typical Yom Kippur. Click here to view one of the TV spots. Last September, Noah was starting 7th grade at middle school. This September he started 8th grade in his hotel room.

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, marks a time of new beginnings and change. Right now, I have no idea where I will be on September 19 or 29, 2013. But I know that things will be different as there’s one thing that’s constant and that is change. For the moment, however, I am enjoying where I am this September.

Some photos in Detroit and Memphis, just for kicks:

Noah on the original bus Rosa Parks rode in the Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, MI

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Categories: Accidental Stage Mom, Etcetera, On the Road, Philosophy, That's Life! | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Straddling Two Worlds

Hello again! Since I had no time to write while I was “home” in Boston, well sort of home, I am considering this blog post a reflection of the whirlwind time we spent there during the Billy Elliot run from July 24-August 19.

Some of the veteran touring parents warned me that when a show plays in your home city, this is the most exhausting time on the entire tour. Still a newbie to all of this, I didn’t believe them. Let’s call me a believer now. You see, being home while “on tour” means you have to straddle two worlds: life at home and life on the road. This is not just tiring but surreal on many levels.

Let me back up by saying that the run in Boston was nothing short of incredible for our entire family. Based on what we are aware of, at least 750 people we know came to one of Noah’s performances (I didn’t realize we had that many connections!) And we keep hearing of yet more friends who were there. At one show alone, about 400 people from Noah’s Boston dance family were in attendance. The audience went nuts the second the stage manager announced “The role of Billy tonight will be played by Noah Parets.” And that was before he even hit the stage.

Because of the throngs of people coming to each one of Noah’s shows, I went to most of them as well. I sat with different people at each show and had the opportunity to catch up with friends and family by grabbing dinner or a drink before or afterwards. If it were not for this, I would not have had time to see so many people who I wanted to catch up with.

That aside, while in Boston, we tried to divide our time between staying in the city (much easier to get to the rehearsal halls, theater, and hotel) and our house out in the ‘burbs. I thought it would be a relaxing month as I would be able to spend time at home with my husband, older son Ethan, and dog. Reality check: not relaxing at all.

Straddling two worlds is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Huh? I know, sounds like the Twilight Zone and yes, it sort of felt like I was living in an episode of the Sci-Fi series. On one hand, I had my “normal” life at home with my family, my kitchen, my yoga studio, my own bed, my stuff, my car, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. I even managed to teach a couple of yoga classes. On the other hand, I was still on tour albeit in Boston. I still had to rush around all day long and get Noah to where he needed to go, make sure he ate balanced meals, got enough sleep. And of course, we were at the theater for each show to meet all of those people. This went on for a month – six days a week. Each weekend, I would try to plot out the plan for the week. This only worked out about half the time. The rehearsal schedule perhaps changed or my older son needed a ride to his summer job or I needed to get home for the dog. Noah’s dad helped out a lot too and if timing worked out right, he could take over on the Noah end of things so I could return to my normal life for a day or two – uninterrupted.

Being home was like being literally dropped from outer space back into my day-to-day life. Nothing had changed but yet I had. Things looked and felt different to me. The pace was much slower than I had become used to. Everyone went to sleep by 11 pm – imagine that! Even my own bed felt foreign to me at first. On the last Sunday of the show run in Boston, we went back to the hotel with everyone else. There was a good-bye pool party which ran late into the night for a much-loved child who was leaving the show. There were tears and laughter. This felt strangely normal. I felt at home amid the chaos.

On the following day, we returned to our “real” home for two weeks. It was quiet and there were no late nights with tons of people around. It felt strangely strange.

Which brings me to now. Here we are in Detroit. No more crowds of people to meet at every one of Noah’s shows. Instead, I am settling into a routine once again. Now I have just this one life, this life on the road with our Billy Elliot family. It may look a bit different depending on which city we’re in. But it’s still one life. No more straddling two worlds. It is positively peaceful.

Categories: Accidental Stage Mom, Etcetera, On the Road, That's Life!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

For All the Moments I Missed……

It’s been a long time since I’ve written. Sorry folks, but things have been a bit turned upside-down. Or, at least that’s how things have felt to me.

photo by Ben Cook

From tech rehearsals in Des Moines, Appleton (yes, that’s in Wisconsin), and Louisville to Noah’s performance debut in Louisville, we haven’t had much in the way of free time. Now that Noah is in the show, it isn’t quite so crazy, yet somehow busier. And here we are: in Milwaukee (last week in Madison). Cities are already blurring together and we’ve only just begun!

I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You see, I missed a lot of moments in Noah’s life and my older son Ethan’s. No matter how much I wish I could go back in time, I will never have these moments again. I missed Noah’s first steps, first words and many other “firsts.” I didn’t mean to “miss” these moments. Really — would any mother want to miss any major milestones? But for about the first two to three years of Noah’s life, I was pretty much knocked out of commission with a neurological illness. I slowly recovered and found my way to yoga (a whole separate blog someday). The long and short of it: This changed the course of my life, ironically but not surprisingly…. for the better. It also changed everything for my family. Sometimes I wish for a do-over. Sometimes I am grateful. Mostly though, I appreciate that this is what was meant to be, at least for me.

So what is my present? It is here. It is now. I may have missed moments 10 years ago, but I am here for them now, at least with Noah and as much as possible with Ethan.

I was with Noah at his call-back audition for Billy Elliot. I received the phone call when he got the role. I decided to leave my business, with the support of my husband, and go on tour with Noah. This is something I would not have been able to do only two years ago for many reasons. Was it scary leaving it all behind to go with Noah on this tour? You better believe it! I turned over the day-to-day operations of my yoga studio to the very competent Heidi and gave up my own financial security because I did not want to miss out, once again, on these special moments. I made this decision despite the fact that I don’t like being on the road. Heck, I gave up my career as a travel writer eight years ago because traveling became too stressful. Yet here I am doing it all again. But this time around it feels different. It is certainly not without stress (that’s yet another blog post!) But it feels right and I get to be here to witness moments of time I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do otherwise.

I sat in the audience of Noah’s very first show on July 1 and cried, the whole time. I saw him sing with his angelic voice in front of an audience for the first time ever. I watched him gracefully dance across the stage. I saw the culmination of seven weeks of intense rehearsals and couldn’t believe this was my son. It was a moment I will never forget. I got to witness it.

I went with Noah to the Milwaukee Brewer’s game on July 18 and watched him sing our National Anthem (click to view video) with a group of his Billy Elliot cast-mates. It was a moment I will never forget. I got to witness it.

But more important than witnessing these “take your breath away moments,” I get to be here every day to watch him develop and grow. I see how he interacts with those around him and watch his kindness first-hand. I know I am in the right place at the right time. I am proud beyond belief. I am too grateful for words.

For all the moments I missed, I get to be here now.

Categories: Accidental Stage Mom, On the Road, Philosophy, That's Life! | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

“So goodbye yellow brick road

Where the dogs of society howl

You can’t plant me in your penthouse

I’m going back to my plough” – Elton John and Bernie Taupin

My yoga teacher crush blasted “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” during Savasana the other night. It was my last yoga class in New York City before taking off for Iowa farm country. How apropos.

After we emerged from Savasana and bowed in Namaste, my yoga crush smiled and said something like this to the class, “I hope you like Elton John. I don’t usually play songs with lyrics in Savasana but I found this fitting today for some reason.” Just another

At Central Park Zoo

synchronicity that told me I had discovered the right yoga teacher. Noah and I may be leaving our yellow brick road here on Broadway to head to the heartland, but we have just begun our magical journey and we’re not quite ready to go home yet.Flash back to four weeks ago.

After dropping into numerous yoga classes with multiple teachers, I found myself in class with Mike. Now, I don’t know if any of you have had a yoga crush before but this is my first (and the first my husband is hearing about it too. Sorry Joel, it was only a yoga crush, no biggie.) Here’s how it went down: his cues were fabulous, his sequence was intelligent and creative, he was quick to make one-on-one adjustments, he challenged me, taught me a thing or two I didn’t already know, made me laugh out loud, and knew his anatomy down pat. He didn’t practice with the class (a pet peeve of mine.) Rather, he skillfully guided people into poses and watched his students with an eagle eye, making sure to point out things like the direction of my right big toe. He made mistakes and laughed at himself. He had no ego, or, if he did, it wasn’t visible to the class.

He isn’t the type of guy who would turn heads on the street. He has a shock of graying hair, an adorable smile, and is cute in an ordinary guy sort of way. Oh, he looked about my age. So no, it wasn’t a cougar sort of crush. Besides, I hadn’t spoken a word to him.

I’m pretty finicky about yoga teachers. I think I’m allowed to be as I teach yoga for a living when not traveling the country. After a bunch of dud classes, this time I picked a winner. I left class and grabbed a schedule, scanning it to see when Mike taught next. I was at his very next class. It was just as good. No, even better. Apart from the awesome sequence, I liked his off-beat sense of humor and the way he swore in class (he said ass like three or four times at least.) I’m not kidding: if you teach yoga and don’t have a sense of humor, you may as well hang up your lululemon short shorts, at least in my opinion. Sure, you gotta know your stuff but please, don’t make me fall asleep in Warrior 1 with a fake sing-song voice, boring cues and the same old, same old stuff. This class was everything but boring. My crush deepened. I quickly left after the class ended, still without saying a word to the teacher.

The next week, I was back. Class was awesome yet, all through practice, I kept wondering if I somehow had met Mike before. I know…. not very yogic when I was supposed to be stilling my mind. Anyway, he seemed familiar to me. Ok, I admit it. I stared at him a lot, trying to make it not so obvious. But it was more than this.

As luck would have it, we rode the elevator down together after class. He looked at me and asked me where I was from as he hadn’t seen me much before. Here it was….my big chance. Don’t screw it up Robyn (huh, screw what up?) Don’t say something stupid, Robyn. Don’t tell him too much. OMG, talk about monkey mind!!! For Christ sakes, we were in an elevator. I had to say something! So I told him I really enjoyed his class and that I wasn’t from New York. I was just here for about a month. Ok, I opened the door and he stepped right in. “What are you doing in New York?” he asked. By this time we were standing out on the street and he was strapping on his in-line skates (yes, it’s pretty dreamy: he skates to class.) So I gave him the three-minute synopsis: I was in Manhattan with my son while he rehearsed to be in a touring Broadway musical. “What show?” he asked. So I told him about Noah and Billy Elliot. Then he surprised me by saying that he knows all about the sacrifices a mother makes when her child is in a Broadway show because his mom did exactly what I was doing. His sister was the original Annie on Broadway.

At this point I knew exactly who his sister was. I only knew of ONE Broadway child performer by name before I was tossed into the Billy Elliot world. And it was his sister! Honest to God. She was the girl I wanted to be when I was 11. I knew every song from Annie and couldn’t wait to go see it. It was the first Broadway touring musical I ever saw in Boston and I remember it like it was yesterday. But, by the time I saw the show, Mike’s sister wasn’t in the role anymore and I actually recall being disappointed I didn’t get to see her. I thought back to his last name on the yoga schedule. I didn’t make the connection initially and why would I?

Things happen as they should. People are in our life for a purpose, or at least this is what I believe. So certainly there’s a reason I gravitated to his classes and a reason he resonates with me. I mean, really, out of all the yoga studios and teachers in New York City (and trust me there are THOUSANDS), Billy’s mom gravitates to Annie’s brother? In the divine order of life, we were supposed to connect. This is the way things happen for me. Time after time.

I just sort of nodded as he talked about his sister. I decided not to say anything back. We said goodbye and off he skated. I walked slowly back to my apartment with a smile on my face.

Flash forward to last Thursday night. My last class at the studio with Mike. Besides our one conversation, we had not spoken another word, not even at the class I attended a couple of days after that elevator ride.

He played Goodbye Yellow Brick Road loudly. So loudly it would have been annoying if he wasn’t my yoga crush. After class, I just had to say goodbye and thank him for the great classes and inspiration (I didn’t mention the ass cracks although they also kept me coming back.) I asked him if he knew that Elton John wrote the music for Billy Elliot. He had no idea. He also didn’t know I was leaving in a few days for the Midwest. He didn’t even usually play songs with lyrics. But there was a reason he played this song on this day. We were meant to meet. This much I know.

He gave me a big hug. Goodbye Annie. Goodbye yellow brick road.

EPILOGUE: ONE MORE PIECE OF THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD

So I guess the universe had a couple more signs in store for me along the yellow brick road.

Tony Awards Day, Sunday June 10: This was our last full day in New York and along with errands, laundry and packing up, we decided we would try our luck and enter the lottery to buy tickets for “The Book of Mormon.” Just to set the scene — Times Square was filled with theater-goers. I mean, it was TONY SUNDAY! But since this was our ‘hood, we didn’t have to go very far to get to the theater at 12 pm. What we saw were piles of people, camped out on lawn chairs. Oh boy, odds didn’t look good for “The Book of Mormon” lottery.

I should back up here for a moment for those who have no clue what a ticket lottery is (something I just learned about upon landing in Times Square). Basically, anyone can arrive at participating theaters two hours before show time and enter a lottery to buy up to two tickets for $25 each.

After sizing up the crowd outside “The Book of Mormon,” Noah and I decided we’d try our luck elsewhere. Neither of us had seen “Wicked.” So, we walked around the corner, didn’t see any lawn chairs parked outside and tossed our names into the hat. By 1 pm, when they draw the winner’s names, the crowd had grown exponentially. Odds didn’t look good but I had a feeling we had won the second Noah threw his name in.

I was right. Noah won! We got front row seats for $50. I hadn’t given a thought to what the show was about and the connection to the yellow brick road. In fact, only a sliver of the yellow brick road even appeared in this musical, and that wasn’t until the very end. When did it appear? Right before the two witches sang “For Good,” a song I had never heard before. It was about how people come into your life for a reason whether you understand the reason or not. And, these people generally guide you in changing for the good. Crazy huh?

So, the musical was amazing and immediately afterwards we went to Ellen’s Stardust Diner for dinner. For those unfamiliar with Ellen’s, it’s a diner with a singing wait staff, most of whom are waiting out their big Broadway break. Our waitress, Maria, asked us where we were from and that, of course, started the conversation about why we were in New York. Once she found out Noah was rehearsing to be Billy, she said she wanted him to meet someone. Who? A former touring Annie! No kidding! Ten minutes later, another waitress announced that there was a performer in the house who is about to star in a Broadway tour. Next thing you know, Kristine Bogan, aka Annie, is at our table introducing Noah and the whole place is clapping for him.

Now, I still don’t quite understand all the Billy/Annie connections. But I don’t think it matters. It was a magical day and I know something happened “For Good.”

Goodbye New York. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

Categories: Accidental Stage Mom, Etcetera, humor, On the Road, That's Life!, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

It’s the Little Things….

The other day Noah and I were out to lunch at our favorite Chelsea café. I had never had a conversation with the owner, but I knew who he was as I see him nearly every day. On this day, he stopped at our table and said to me, “I know you. And, how could I forget this boy? He’s so polite. Always saying ‘please and thank-you.’ You must be very proud.” Noah smiled shyly. I said thank you and the manager went about his day.

A couple of days later, we went to the Shake Shack in the park instead of the café for lunch. Noah politely ordered his hamburger and shake, sure to say please and thank you as always. The woman at the counter said to me with a smile, “That’s so nice to hear.” I was beaming from ear to ear as we walked away.

Then it hit me: I get to be here to share these moments in time while most children are in school and parents are at work. It’s these little things that make me so proud of Noah and the boy he is growing up to be. Am I proud that he is rehearsing to be Billy Elliot, one of the most difficult roles for a child to play in Broadway history? Damn straight I am. But honestly, I am most proud of the way he is handling change and how humble he remains. I am proud that he is so polite and appreciative of other people. And then it hit me again: I am not just putting my life at home on hold so Noah can live out his dream to perform on a Broadway stage. I am doing this so that I can have the truly incredible opportunity to spend time with my son and be here to notice the “little things.”

Life moves fast. I watched a group of three-year-olds children playing in the park today and thought to myself, “Where did the time go?” I have worked full-time ever since my kids were babies so weekends were always hectic. When it was time for my boys to go to school, that meant even less time together. I worked, they went to school. After-school hours consisted of carpools and constant driving back and forth to dance, play rehearsals, activities, friends’ houses, etc. My kids grew up in the blink of an eye. I missed the little things – they came and went and I wasn’t around to witness them. Until now.

Catching these precious moments with Noah, however, means missing them with the rest of my family, particularly my 16-year-old son Ethan. But I can’t get the time back with him. I can only focus on the here and now. So now I look forward to our phone calls and hang up missing Ethan more. I have noticed, however, that I am paying more attention to what he has to say and when he was in New York visiting, our day together was

Ethan at Ground Zero

the best we’ve had in recent memory. We went to Ground Zero and I saw him go from a silly teenager to a reflective young man. The teenager re-emerged when we got to Mid-Town Comics and Ethan picked out a collectible comic book that he had his eyes on. That day meant the world to me.

I guess I needed to leave behind the day-to-day responsibilities of my “normal” life in order to appreciate what was there all along: two very special boys. Most people never get this chance.

For what it’s worth, this past month in New York has been priceless. I feel as if I am getting to know my own children in a completely new light: not as my kids but as the truly incredible human beings they are. I am so grateful that I am able to witness the little things. I couldn’t be more proud.

Categories: Accidental Stage Mom, Etcetera, On the Road, Philosophy, That's Life! | Tags: , , , , | 12 Comments

Losing My Identity. Finding a Purpose.

I’ve been in New York for almost four weeks now. The days are running together. I’ve gone from jeans and jackets to T-shirts and shorts in a matter of weeks. And I haven’t left the West Side.

My life has revolved completely around Noah, who is in intensive rehearsals to star as Billy Elliot in Billy Elliot, the National Broadway tour. This is a new feeling, a new way of life for me. If indeed you want to call it my life. For the first time in memory, I don’t have my own “thing” anymore: the comfort of my house, a job, routine, social life, teenage son to prepare for college, dog to walk, etc. My life consists of getting Noah to and from rehearsals, making sure he eats well, ensuring that he gets enough sleep. Well, that’s about it. Sure, I did this for my kids at home along with lots of other stuff. But this is VERY different. Different because it feels as if I am sort of lost in Noah’s life. It’s as if someone plucked me out of my own life and plopped me down in someone else’s. Now, don’t get me wrong….I wouldn’t trade it for the world. As a mother, allowing all my children to live out their dreams is what I’m supposed to do. At least according to my world view. But it doesn’t mean it’s easy or comfortable for that matter. In fact, sometimes I feel like a fish out of water. I forget what day it is. ALL THE TIME. I sit in the tea shop with my iPad or meander through the streets of Chelsea and suddenly it’s pick up time again. At the end of the day, I often return emails and wonder, “What the hell did I do all day?” Sure, I picked up Noah, dropped off Noah, made sandwiches, did laundry and maybe caught a yoga class. But, come on, really?  What did I do?” And somehow the days go by.

Yoga teaches us that we are not our labels, e.g. “wife”, “yoga teacher,” “accidental stage mom.” The opposite of “human doings,” we are “human beings.” We are here on this earth to be present to all that is. Huh? Yeah, I know. Heavy stuff. But it’s true or at least I believe it’s true. We also have a purpose or sometimes more than one purpose. As Princeton says in Avenue Q (this blog would not be complete with at least one Off-Broadway reference), “What is my purpose?” Most of us think of a purpose as a job, career or role as a parent or spouse. But is that really a purpose or is that more like an identity? And if you take an identity away, what then is your purpose?

I think we all basically have the same purpose, as crazy as this sounds. And that is: To just be…be open to all that is, embrace what life throws at you, and be prepared to make changes and/or go with the flow. Be willing to drop your perceived identity in the flash of an eye. And then…here’s the hardest part: Once that identity is gone, be comfortable with who you really are which has nothing to do with your job, career, role or how much money you make.

So, who am I? A yoga teacher? A writer? A wife? An accidental stage mom? Does it matter? Let’s strip away the labels and what’s left?

This is all I know: I am here and this is where I am supposed to be. Maybe being here for Noah, being truly present, is in essence a way back to myself. Maybe I needed to drop everything I know to be able to fully embrace change and just be here now. Maybe Noah is helping me find my way home.

Categories: Accidental Stage Mom, On the Road, Philosophy, That's Life!, Writing, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

Good God!

Jesus found his way back. Thank God.

It’s not what you think. Actually, I have no idea what you think.

Jesus Saves

Jesus is really Israel. And praise the lord I have friends who spy on my house or I would never have known Israel was even there. Confused? I bet….Israel, you see, is the tile guy who was at my house in Sharon, Ma. today finishing the tile work on my bathroom that has been under a remodel for two months. Israel drives a truck that says in bold letters across the back, “My GPS Is Jesus Christ.” If you ask me, Israel was heaven-sent. Before delving into a discussion about why my house is still being remodeled, I need to turn the focus back to Israel, er Jesus. Israel, the Brazilian tile dude, is in seminary school studying to become a minister. So this explains his truck and the reason why he says a prayer for everyone. I didn’t make this up. I couldn’t have if I tried.

We kind of like having him around. It’s not his fault that he disappeared for a month. In fact, the bathroom was supposed to be finished three weeks ago. But, as Joel likes to say, these types of jobs are always one-and-a-half times the estimated cost and take twice as long to complete as they’re supposed to. It doesn’t matter how much praying you do. On time construction projects are damn-near miracles. So far he’s been right on both accounts. In defense of Israel (don’t worry – this blog is not going all political on you), he’s not the general contractor and he could not complete his part until the other parts were done and ready to go. If any of you have ever remodeled a kitchen or bathroom, you certainly know what this is like. You could be sitting around waiting for days or even weeks for an electrician, plumber, painter or another key player to show up. In the meantime, fast-food becomes your friend and cramming the whole family into one bathroom becomes the norm. Not that I am complaining about the bathroom situation, especially seeing as my toileting facility in New York is tinier than the smallest bathroom in my house. I share my NYC bathroom with Noah and sometimes my husband. I should clarify: Joel is always my husband, but he only sometimes stays with us in New York and shares the bathroom.

Okay, back to Jesus. The home remodel project went on hiatus, apparently. We didn’t ask for this “break.” In fact, I was really “praying” to use my own bathroom when I was home last weekend as now I won’t be able to use it until July. And god-willing, it’s finished by then! But no such luck on my recent trip home. In fact, I get a call every day from Joel: “Nope…no one was here today. Everything still looks the same as when you left.”

But TODAY, the Jesus Saves truck was parked in front of my house! Hallelujah.

How did I know this? Heidi, the new manager at Breathe Joy Yoga, drove by to teach her yoga class and saw the truck. Religious about keeping a vigilant eye on the comings and goings around my house, she snapped a picture, texted it to me with the message “Jesus Is Back”.

“Praise the Lord” I texted back. I called Joel and he confirmed the good news. Israel showed up bright and early.  It turns out that he needs to replace a bunch of tiles because the stone wasn’t installed correctly.

Oh lord.

Categories: Etcetera, humor, On the Road, That's Life!, Uncategorized, Writing | 2 Comments

What Is Real?

I’m on my way home. Wait, really?

Let’s start that again. I am sitting here on a train on my way back from Boston to NYC. Up until three weeks ago, I called Sharon, Ma. home. But this weekend things became a bit muddled. You see, I am currently living in NYC while Noah is in intensive rehearsals for “Billy Elliot.” We’re here (or maybe there?) for five weeks in total. We leave for good on June 10 when the road trip begins in Des Moines, Iowa. But for now, Noah and I are staying in a small but comfortable apartment near Times Square. It has quickly become home to us. The fridge is stocked, the closets and drawers are filled with our clothes. Even the bathroom medicine cabinet looks like people actually live here.

Last week, when I booked my bus ticket from NYC to Boston and train ticket from Boston back to NYC (yes, my husband Joel is calling me “bus” person), things got a bit confusing as I tried to review plans with Joel. Me: “I’m leaving on Thursday at 3:30 and coming home on Monday at 8:30.” Joel: “I thought you were coming home on Thursday?” Me: “No, I’m coming home on Monday. Wait – I’m coming home Thursday, you’re right. I’m returning to NYC on Monday.” Geez Louise, what’s going on here?

And so it went. What was my “real” life all about and where was it? As the Bolt bus pulled out of NYC, things started to look greener and seem clearer to me. Literally. I realized I haven’t seen much green since last summer in suburban Boston. In L.A. things tend to be on the brown side; in NYC, I’ve been living in a concrete jungle; and when I left Massachusetts in April, the trees were just beginning to bloom. Yet on Thursday, it was if I were seeing in Technicolor. All the colors of spring just popped. When I got home to Sharon, the colors got even brighter, sharper you could say. The vibrant green trees and grass, flowers of

Ah, the colors of springtime in Sharon!

all colors, and glistening blue of Lake Massapoag reminded me how much I missed nature (hawk, deer and fox sightings over the weekend didn’t hurt either).This weekend was all about Ethan, my oldest son who just turned 16. Some of you touring parents will understand the importance of shifting priorities to your other, equally special children. You will also appreciate the challenge this presents when you are not home (or back “there”) often. This weekend was certainly no vacation from the hectic nature of Noah’s rehearsal schedule in New York. It included a giant backyard birthday party for Ethan on Friday night. What am I crazy? You could say so…..Joel, Mark and I played chaperones/hosts to 60 teens who Ethan said “ate tons of food”. We ordered trays upon trays of Chinese food and by the tail end of the evening, it was quite evident that the 16-18 year-old girls had no intention of eating. I should have known but it’s been a long time since I was 16 and I have no problem chowing down in front of men.So we packaged up enough food to feed 50 and took it over to the local homeless shelter. All told, the night was a success for Ethan. The residents of the Mainspring House in Brockton were pretty happy with the food delivery too.

Saturday included two performances of Seussical The Musical (Ethan played Mr. Mayor) and the Jamnesty festival (a fundraiser for the high school’s Amnesty International chapter) at the lake to see Ethan perform 21 Guns and other cool tunes with his A Cappella group, Pitch, Please! (Click to see video) And on Sunday, we attended the annual fundraiser for the Un-Common Theatre Company, where Ethan performed with his comedy troupe, Improv Soup. I guess there was no escaping my life as an Accidental Stage Mom. Oh, and I managed to teach two yoga classes at Breathe Joy Yoga also. But even with all this activity, my real life felt like a dream state. And here I sit on the Amtrak train (I guess I’m a one-way bus person) preparing to launch back into my day-to-day New York city life. I already miss the greener pastures of Sharon, Ma.

So what is real? Not really sure. All I know is that I feel as if I am headed home.

Categories: Accidental Stage Mom, On the Road, That's Life!, Yoga | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Ahhh, That Hammock Has My Name On It

(Disclaimer: the names of the yoga teachers have been changed and the yoga studio remains anonymous to protect the parties from, well, not sure what.  Although this is a true story, it is in no way meant to disrespect AntiGravity yoga. There are many styles of yoga and what’s good for one, isn’t always good for all. This is written in tongue in cheek fashion so read with an open mind and a sense of humor. If not, get yourself to a hammock immediately!)

Noah may have been dancing all week but the only thing dancing in my head last Friday was a vision of me plopped down on a nice comfy hammock. Yup, after a long, hard week doing nothing (see “Pass the Epsom Salt Please), I could hardly wait to get myself to an AntiGravity restorative yoga class.

Here’s how the AntiGravity website describes it: “AntiGravity Yoga: Restorative is the gentle, healing side of AntiGravity Yoga.  This powerful method focuses the mind…as it floats the body through a series of gentle gyro kinetic motions, deeply opening the entire spine, hips, and connective tissues of the body… This therapeutic method offers accessibility to students with physical limitations, but is loved by all as a portal into deeper spinal flexibility, and mind/body connection.” Ok, I admit it: I didn’t read this until AFTER I took the class, but I do know that restorative yoga is the relaxing form of yoga, the yoga of “non-doing.” I mean, although I had never done AntiGravity before, it was restorative so how hard could it be?

This is what I had in mind

I walked the five blocks to the yoga studio and eagerly showed up for the class. I asked the woman at the front desk, “This is relaxing, right? It’s fine for someone who hasn’t done this before, right?” While I asked these questions, I thought of my husband Joel on our last vacation. He immediately staked out the hammock and there he stayed, for hours on end. Now, this is what I was looking forward to! The front desk yogini smiled, pointed in the direction of the studio door, and said, “You’ll love it.” Ok, that was the only confirmation I needed. I walked into the studio and stared at these parachute-esque bright orange hammocks hanging on large hooks from the ceiling. I was the first one there (talk about eager to relax!) and was told by the assistant teacher to select a hammock. So I did. Right near the window. Then, she came over to me (let’s call her Jane) and said, “Have you done this before?” I said no and then she asked me to move right in front of the teacher as this way the teacher could more effectively help me. So I did. As Jane was adjusting my hammock and releasing it from the large ominous-looking metal hook, she looked at my engagement and wedding rings and asked me to remove them. “Remove them?  Why?” I asked. “They will snag the hammock so you’ll have to take them off and put them on the floor in the corner,” she said matter-of-factly.

It took everything I had not to blurt out, “Are you kidding me? You might as well be asking me to stack a wad of hundred dollar bills  in the corner. Do you really think I can close my eyes and practice yoga while thinking about my wad of hundreds laying on a floor in the middle of New York City!” But I didn’t say this. Instead I politely said, “I would rather prefer to keep my rings on. I’m not comfortable taking them off. I can turn them around, plus they don’t have any prongs that will snag the hammock.” She looked at me arrogantly and bluntly said, “Well then, you will need to go ask the person at the front desk for a Band Aide to put over your rings.”

At first I could not believe she was serious. But she was. In disbelief, I walked out and got a bandage and literally bandaged up my rings. My serene evening was off to a great start. Completely agitated and stressed out, I walked back into my so-called relaxing yoga class. By this time, the hammocks had started to fill up and class was about to begin. The teacher, let’s call her Donna, was smack in front of me and I had a feeling she didn’t like me very much (I’m thinking Jane told her I was difficult while I was out bandaging up my rings). She asked if I was a beginner. I told her I practice yoga regularly but have never done hammock yoga before. “What a great way to start. This class will be wonderful for you,” said Donna, enthusiastically. Ok, that’s two confirmations. Let’s go. The ring thing is now in the past.

The one by the window was calling my name

First up: we wrap ourselves up into little alien pods and stay there for a while. I don’t know, maybe it was only a couple of minutes but it felt like forever. It was pretty claustrophobic in here and certainly not relaxing. As we emerged from these pods, Donna explained how to go upside-down but I think I was the only one who needed explanation as everyone was already hanging out there. I clumsily made it into this inverted position by looking at the position of my next-door alien’s feet, but apparently I was doing something wrong as Donna asked me to come up from upside-down. So I did. And there I sat right side up, swinging on my hammock while everyone else was still upside-down. I thought Donna or Jane would come over to me and explain how to get back into that crazy-looking position. I mean, it didn’t look relaxing but it sure looked like fun. But I just sat and sat some more, wondering why they were not helping me out (I mean I was two feet in front of Donna. I did give up my prime window seat for a little bit of help, or so I was told.). Frustrated, I jumped out of the hammock, left the room and went to the ladies’ room just to kill some time. I re-entered the land of so-called relaxation just in the nick of time for the next pose. Donna came over to me, a little too late, to ask if I was ok and I honestly responded that I left out of boredom and because I had no clue what I was supposed to be doing next. Donna apologized for not explaining that apparently my hammock was positioned wrong. She said she thought I might prefer to come out of the pose. Hmmm, not sure where she got that idea but, whatever.

I considered bolting but I knew I should stick it out. We did a few other forward folding and back-bending positions in the hammock which I would call awkward instead of calming. All I could think about now was, “Do we at least get a savasana (final relaxation pose)?” This class was stressing me out, big time. Finally, it was time for savasana. In the hammock. Except that we were huddled in fetal positions while Donna talked about visualizing being born and how it felt to be alive on your first day on earth. Now, I’m sorry but do any of YOU remember your first day on earth? And is this what you would want to be thinking about while trying to relax? All I wanted was a little time to think about nothing and de-clutter my mind. But no such luck.

Finally it was over. Hallelujah! I practically jumped out of my hammock, collected my stuff and high-tailed it outta there. Back to my apartment to de-compress. I laughed to myself the whole walk home. It may not have offered the relaxation I was looking for but it sure proved to be comic relief.

Categories: Etcetera, humor, On the Road, Yoga | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

Pass the Epsom Salt Please………

Long time, no write…..As you can guess, we’ve been busy. Well, Noah’s been busy and I’ve just, well, had no time……Our whirlwind started last week in Los Angeles when Noah began his dance training, wardrobe fittings, physical therapy, core cardio classes, and tutoring with the Billys.  For me, this meant trips back and forth to IDA (International Dance Academy) and The Pantages Theater (where Billy Elliot is playing) in Hollywood, and the makeshift school set up in Oakwood Apartments, building E, in Burbank.

And now we’re in New York City, Hell’s Kitchen to be exact. Funny how I had been here for four days before I realized exactly what neighborhood our small one-bedroom apartment was in. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t have much time. But little by little, I am getting to know this pretty cool neighborhood. Noah, on the other hand, has basically seen the inside of our apartment and the studio where he is rehearsing in Chelsea (17 blocks downtown). That’s because he’s in rehearsals and tutoring from 9-9 six days a week. He went in Noah on Monday, May 7 and will emerge Billy Elliot on Saturday, June 10.

Ok, so now you’re probably thinking: what the heck am I am doing for 12 hours a day and why haven’t I had any time to write? I know, I know, it doesn’t seem to add up, does it? Well, here’s the low-down: think of it like the first year of a newborn baby’s life. For first-time moms (or dads), taking a year off from work after your baby is born seems like a luxury until you leave the hospital. Right? Suddenly you are home for entire days at a time and have no idea where the days went. You wake up after little to no sleep, feed the baby, change diapers, put the baby down for a nap and repeat. In between, you may have an hour or quite possibly 2-3 hours to do a load of laundry or make food for yourself. And then you are onto the same thing the next day. Essentially, you have windows of time all day long but not enough of a block of time to get anything substantial done. This is the best analogy for my life right now.

With the way “Billy” training works, I need to get Noah there in the morning and pick him up at 9 (or trade-off with the other Billy-in-training’s parents). Then, I have to be back to meet him for lunch and dinner breaks. Don’t ask…something about labor laws. All these trips require time to get there and back. You guessed it: leaving only small windows in-between. I decided that today I would grab one of these small windows and crank out this blog post.

Among the other essential things I’ve managed to do in my small windows: order food online as I realized I cannot shop the way I do at home. I figured this out quickly on Sunday night when I tried to carry four bags of food several blocks. I also bought a subway pass, met a New Yorker friend to check out a condo uptown, bought toiletries as the apartment was barebones when we arrived, visited a dermatologist as I needed a prescription, did a load of laundry, and took a yoga class (restorative yoga is in the cards for my window tonight — woo hoo!) I considered getting my nails done at the nail salon right next door but I didn’t think my window was long enough. So, the nails will have to be a mess until I get a bigger window. Oh, and I bought some epsom salt and frozen peas for Noah.

Except that all this doing nothing is exhausting and I think I’ll leave the peas to Noah tonight and reserve the warm epsom salt bath for me. It’ll be an evening of salted peas for us…..

Categories: Accidental Stage Mom, On the Road, That's Life!, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

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