Posts Tagged With: Billy Elliot

Oh Yeah, Life Goes On

As I sit here reading the Sunday paper — the one hard copy periodical I still read regularly — I begin thinking about when my kids were little. Things weren’t always easy for them, for us.

When my oldest son Ethan was two, we moved across the country, from Los Angeles to Boston. Soon after that, I got ill with a neurological disorder. Noah, my youngest, was only 5 months old when this happened. I was in bed for two years and missed his first steps and many other firsts. Then, when they were in 2nd and 5th grade, their father and I got separated, then divorced. I got remarried a few years later and my sons got a new step-brother out of the deal too. In the middle of all this, I changed careers – went from a journalist to a yoga studio owner.  A lot of changes and I worked a gazillion hours a week. When things were finally starting to settle down, Noah got cast in a Broadway touring show. I was running  two yoga businesses at the time but I knew what I had to do: leave it all behind and go on tour with Noah. But, I also left behind my husband, two other sons, my businesses and my dog.

3 Boys

My big boys

When I came home five months ago and 15 months later, I had a lot of decisions to make and catching up to do. Should I build my businesses back up to where they once were? Should we move out of this house if I no longer need the yoga studio that is on the property? At the same time, I had a lot of catch-up work to do with Ethan on his college applications and visits. Then it hit me: Where did life go and where is it headed?

Honestly, it feels like a blur. Next year this time, Ethan will be out of the house, living at college and starting his adult life. Noah will be a sophomore in high school while pursuing his dreams of a dance and theater career. Yes, I was there for my boys, always encouraging them and supporting them. But yet, I don’t remember a lot of details. Life changed and moved too fast.

Lake Massapoag

when things get quiet, you see clearly

So I decided to put the brakes on – at least in the best way I knew how in this ever moving forward swirl of life. For the past five months I have committed to making no major decisions for myself. That’s right: None. Rebuilding Breathe Joy Yoga was just too big of a decision so I decided against it. Been there, done that. I just wanted to spend some time “being.”

Not rushing, not racing, not having to do a million things at once. For the first three months, this felt, well, weird. I woke up every morning thinking I had to be somewhere, but I didn’t. I raced to my computer to open my email fully expecting messages from yoga students wanting information on classes and workshops. Nothing.  In my new experiment of “nothingness”, I didn’t even practice asana every day or even 4 days a week like I used to. Sure, I exercised BUT I made sure I didn’t take myself too seriously or put pressure on myself to do any one kind of exercise. And, I will admit this openly now: I let my meditation practice go by the wayside. You see, when I meditate and get quiet, I hear what I need to hear and do. I just didn’t want to listen to advice, not even my own. I was afraid of what I’d hear, like “You are spending too much time doing nothing. You should be running a business. You should be making more money. Yadda, yadda, yadda.”

This little experiment has been one of the biggest challenges of my life. I’m a “doer” by nature, not a “be-er.” I had no idea how hard this would be and it doesn’t help when even my kids say: “Mom, what are you going to do next? Are you going to get a job, start a new business, go back to the studio? What do you do every day?” They aren’t used to this new me.

Ironically, this little experiment was not intended to actually be an experiment. I just wanted to slow down. And, in doing so, opportunities have come into my life for myself, my family and my children. Amazing how that happens when you commit to nothingness.  You actually become more receptive to positive change AND you leave room for new opportunities to come into your life. Imagine that?  And, by the way, isn’t this a form of meditation of sorts? Isn’t this being present?

In this moment, this is my yoga – sans asana and all. Seeing life as it is: right here, right now.

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Categories: Accidental Stage Mom, Billy Elliot, business, business of yoga, get real, letting go, Philosophy, That's Life!, Writing, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Listen to Your Inner GPS

After 15 months away from home, I got in my own car in my own garage and turned on my GPS. As I went to plug in an address, I saw this across the screen:

“A Lot Has Changed. Please Load New Maps.” What? For real? It was as if the past year was flashing before my eyes. I had never seen this message before and this was the same GPS that traveled North America with me. I shut it off and turned it back on. No message. The next day……no message.

For the past several weeks since I’ve been home, I still can’t kick the feeling that the universe was sending me a blatant message: Look around at all that’s changed. Look within at all that’s changed. Look forward and don’t look back. Most importantly, don’t be afraid of the unknown path.

At Central Park Zoo

At Central Park Zoo

When looking for answers in your life (or even not looking) all you need to do is open your eyes and tune in. Be aware. You will see, you will know. The answers are there. And so it goes with my GPS. I know, some of you may still be thinking: did my GPS really TELL me that things have changed?  Well, yes. Did I already know this? Well, yes. BUT, it did help me understand the importance of paying attention to the signs and listening within.

I told my husband about the message. He had never seen this on his Garmin GPS before. I saw it as a metaphor for my life in the moment: A lot HAD changed. A lot IS changing. I need to load new maps, that’s for sure. The answers aren’t always THIS black and while, at least not for most people. Maybe it’s because I am tuned in, but typically my signs are pretty darned blatant. You see, we all have an inner GPS — something that helps us to determine our direction in life. It’s usually a gut feeling, an inner voice. Sometimes someone might even suggest something in conversation that you have been ruminating for a while and suddenly you have clarity. Or, maybe you are trying to figure something out when a song comes on the radio, and the lyrics pretty much offer a solution. Whatever it is: Listen. More often than not, we ignore it and keep barreling down the same road we’ve always traveled. But if we ignore that inner GPS, that road will become more and more difficult to travel. Road blocks will appear and you will have to either knock yourself out to jump over them OR you can plug in and turn around now.

I am happily settling back into life at home in Massachusetts yet nothing is the same. I’m not talking about things that have changed around us, on the surface – things like new restaurants in town, new neighbors etc. (although that makes you really realize that time doesn’t stand still). The Billy Elliot experience transformed all of our lives from the inside, not just Noah’s. There were good times, there were bad. It wasn’t just about a show. It was about growing, changing and learning. I learned how to handle some pretty tough situations. I made choices I never thought I’d have to make and then had to accept those choices (I listened to the signs, by the way). My family banded together so that we could have this experience. Everyone helped and I mean everyone: my husband, my ex-husband, my parents, my in-laws, my other children. I had been married for less than two years when we left to go on tour. But I feel closer to my husband now than ever before.

Today has been a day of deep reflection, perhaps in part because the tour ends for good tonight and I know many of our friends will have to turn on their inner GPS’ starting now. When you’ve traveled one particular road for a long time, it’s not easy to find a new path. I’m still loading maps myself.

Talking about new maps, I’m not sure which direction I will take in the next couple of months. I have some different roads before me. Some choices to make. But something tells me things will keep changing and moving and I’ll have to travel right along as well. I know one thing for sure: I am about to embark on a new path. I’m listening for the signs. I’m following my inner GPS.

Oh, and, see ya Billy! Thanks for the journey!

Categories: Accidental Stage Mom, Billy Elliot, Etcetera, get real, On the Road, Philosophy, That's Life!, Travel, Truth, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Looking Back to Look Forward……

Hello all,

Noah had to write a “memoir” essay for school back in September 2012. He chose to write about his audition for “Billy Elliot the Musical.” As we are heading into our final week with the Billy Elliot tour, I felt it was appropriate to publish this essay now. I will still be blogging, in fact maybe more frequently when we are off this tour. Yet, the future is unknown, vast and exciting for both of us. Looking back over this past 14 months (we joined the tour for in Los Angeles for training back in mid April 2012!) so much has happened that has changed both of our perspectives on the world and humanity. We are both blessed to have had this experience and I am so proud that Noah has remained the same sweet, kind and humble boy that he was when this whole journey began.

As I write this today, I am home and just returned from a college campus visit with my older son, who performed last night with his Improv Comedy troupe, ImprovSoup. As a mother, I couldn’t be more proud of my boys: Ethan, Noah and Jacob. They are growing up to be caring, considerate human beings. And no amount of talent can hold a candle to that! Until I write again, here’s Noah in his own words……..feel free to share this post. It’s a good one!

                                                                          MY FIRST AUDITION

There we were, dad and I, on a rainy Friday morning in mid-September trucking along into the Big Apple for my audition for “Billy Elliot the Musical”.  This also happened to be my first audition ever. I was a dancer, and I had never sung or acted in front of anyone. Scared and nervous were both words that I could say were understatements. I had non-stop butterflies in my stomach.

First costume fitting in LA

My first costume fitting

Walking into the street, an umbrella overhead, we search for the correct towering skyscraper, the one at 500 8th Avenue. However, I’m not really a veteran of finding my way around this city, so I was panicking, thinking we would never find it.

“What number is it again?” I said in a rushed tone.

“It’s 500. It’s just up ahead on the right”, Dad said, making sure I’m calm.

Then, there it was — seeming to stand taller than any other building in New York City as I looked up at it, 500 8th Avenue. We walked through the big glass doors that were almost too heavy for me to open and the receptionist asked who we were and where we were headed in the building. Then, slowly but surely, the elevator went up too many floors for me to count. We stepped out of the elevator and I turned to my dad and said “Wow, well this is it”. That’s all that I could get out of my mouth. I marveled at the great big dance rooms and knew that all the huge auditions happened in this building. I thought that a Broadway star would walk out of any of these rooms any second.

Dad and I walked up to the receptionist and asked where we should go for the Billy Elliot audition and it turned out we were super early. They hadn’t even set up the holding room yet. It was only 12 o’clock and the audition didn’t start until 2. The waiting began…

So, the staff of the studios gave us two chairs to sit in and wait. I stretched, sat, talked a bit, stretched more, and saw George Hamilton.

“That’s George Hamilton!” my dad said.

“Who’s that?” I said, as I had never heard of him before.

Soon after that, the holding room was prepared for us. There were chairs and mirrors lining the walls, a registration table at the front of the room, and a piano in the corner. Then, I slipped my ballet shoes on and started jumping and turning to get warmed up. My dad also gave the woman behind the registration table my photo, information, and resumé (which my mom just wrote).  Soon, each of the other boys trickled into the holding room one by one. Each boy had a different background, look, and came from somewhere different.

Then a lady came into the room. Her presence was almost daunting as she was much taller than I. I was nervous. She had all of the boys follow her into a separate room, leaving all of our parents behind. She also took our resumés and headshots with her.

We ended up in a room identical to the one we left behind. We started with hip-hop and we learned a short combination in that style. We did it over and over again until we felt comfortable with the steps, but hip-hop has never been something I’m completely confident about.

Two at a time we performed this combination for the panel of three “judges”.Although they never introduced themselves as judges, we knew that was what they were. They were three intimidating people that I hoped liked my dancing. We did it over and over again for what seemed like an hour or two.

Next, we did ballet. I put on my ballet shoes and immediately I was slipping and sliding all over the place and then they told us that we could wear jazz shoes for a bit more traction. I was surprised by the small amount of ballet we did. At the most we did twenty minutes of ballet. We did a few basic exercises, including turning and jumping. We went across the floor one at a time doing jumps and turns, but out of the corner of my eye all I saw were the “judges” observing me super closely, never taking their eyes off of me.

After that, it was time for tap. We did very simple tap exercises like shuffles and flaps and not much else because of the slippery floor. I was caught off guard that many of the boys in the audition had never tapped before.

Before we finished up the dancing, they told us we could improvise a dance. We did just that two at a time. I did some turns and jumps that I thought I had remembered from seeing the show. Also, I tried to throw in the limited acrobatics I knew because I knew Billy had to do that in the show as well.

Noah Thanksgiving

So Thankful!

We also did one acting exercise. The casting woman brought us over to the window in the room and said, while pointing to the floor below, “Imagine there was a fire on the floor below us. I want you to warn the three of us (judges) that there is a fire in the building only using the words ‘There’s a fire in the building’”. That is exactly what we did: we would run one at a time from the window up to the judges table and warn them that there is a fire in the building, but only using that one sentence. They explained that we could only use that one sentence because, like in a play, we can only use the lines that were given. Therefore we couldn’t stray from those few words.

Lastly, we sang for the casting people. The pianist in the room quickly taught us the first verse of the big dance/song in act two of the show which is called “Electricity”. It’s also the climax of the musical. We had maybe two or three minutes to practice and then they went around having us sing the song, two lines each. For this section of the audition however, there was somebody recording our singing, which made it more nerve-wracking for me.

After that, the “judges” said thank you for coming and that was it. The boys and I walked back to the waiting room where our parents were waiting and packed up and left.

“How’d it go?”my dad asked.

“Good, I think.” I said, although I wasn’t really sure how it went or if I did a good job.

Overall, I believe my first ever audition was a success and definitely a huge learning experience as it was my first one ever. And here I am with Billy Elliot — all because of that one, first audition.

Categories: Accidental Stage Mom, Billy Elliot, Etcetera, get real, Noah's posts, On the Road, Philosophy, That's Life!, Travel, Truth, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Think Inside the Box

Yeah, I know. The saying is “Think Outside the Box.” But sometimes, you need to turn things inside out and take a look inside because what you think is going on around you isn’t what it appears to be. Huh?

Let’s back up a bit. I am now home. This marked my biggest stretch of time away from home since going out on tour with Noah. I was gone for two solid months, a bit more. The last time I was home was for only a few days in mid-March when we came back for Noah’s state exams. He was in testing and I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get a months’ worth of appointments crammed into four days’ time.

So now we are home for a couple of weeks. Although I still have tons of appointments and organizing to do (including opening mail, sorting files, paying bills, etc.) this time at home also includes time for introspection. It’s necessary. It’s about time. You see, living on the road leaves little time for contemplation of any kind. My meditation practice has been kicked to the curb, I hardly have time for an asana practice anymore and I feel lost in the shuffle of an odd sort of reality show.

It’s like living in a traveling college dorm. You live, eat, travel, work, exercise, and socialize with the same people for months on end. You grow to understand each other and know each other – sometimes a bit too well and sometimes not really at all. The “not really at all” part is when things tend to go awry in a social experiment like a touring musical. You see, rumors can run rampant and people often get sucked into believing things about their travel mates that can be, well, let’s say not nice and untrue. Usually I just try to be the best mother I can be to my son and stay away from the fray. It can be isolating at times but mostly, it feels safe. Most of the people I live with do not know me very well. With this said, I can say I have some tried and true tour friends – some people I hope will be my friends for life. They are good, kind and honest people – people I know I could go to for any kind of help. But in order to really know me, or anyone you live with, you have to look inside the box and not just at what’s going on outside. This means forming your own opinions of people and not listening to what others may say. It seems easy but it isn’t. It’s hard enough in the “real world” when you go to work every day and come home to the sanctity of your own home and family. It’s even harder on tour.

Yesterday I enjoyed something I haven’t had time for in a while: reflection. I delved into my Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, an ancient and brilliant sage. For those of you unfamiliar with the Sutras, they are a collection (sutra can be translated to mean “thread”) of kick-ass advice on how to live a more compassionate and fulfilling life. I immediately gravitated to Sutra 1:33:

“By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness” – Sutra translation by Sri Swami Satchidananda.

The first three parts of this all-important sutra come easy to me but the last part is where I struggle. I’m going to paraphrase a couple of pages from Satchidananda’s book so you all can understand what I’m talking about here. After that, we’ll discuss and hopefully you will all weigh in as well.

           “Whether you are interested in reaching Samadhi (enlightenment) or plan to ignore yoga entirely, I would advise you to remember at least this one Sutra. In my own experience, this Sutra became my guiding light to keep my mind serene always. 

            Who would not like serenity of mind always? Who would not like to be happy always? Everyone wants that. So Patanjali gives four keys: friendliness, compassion, delight and disregard. There are only four kinds of locks in the world. Keep these four keys with you and when you come across any one of these four locks you will have the proper key to open it. What are these four locks? Sukha, duhka, punya and apunya – the happy people, unhappy people, the virtuous and the wicked. At any given moment, you can fit any person into one of these four categories.

            When you see a happy person, use the friendliness key. Why would Patanjali say this? Because even four thousand years ago there must have been people who were not happy at seeing others happy. It is still the same way. Suppose somebody drives up in a big car, parks in front of her huge palatial home and gets out. Some other people are standing on the pavement in the hot sun getting tired. How many of those people will be happy. Not many. They will be saying, “See that big car? She is sucking the blood of the laborers.” We come across people like that: they are always jealous. When a person gets name, fame or a higher position, they try to criticize that person. They will never admit that she might have gone up by her own merit. By that jealousy, you will not disturb her but you disturb your own serenity. She simply got out of her car and walked into the house, but you are burning up inside. Instead, think, “Oh, such a fortunate person. If everybody were like that how happy the world would be. May God bless everybody to have such comfort. I will also get that one day.” Make that person your friend. That response is missed in many cases, not only between individuals but even among nations.

            And what of the next lock, the unhappy people? We should have compassion. If you can lend a helping hand, do it. If you can share half of your loaf, share it. Be merciful always. Remember, our goal is to keep the serenity of our minds. Whether our mercy is going to help that person or not, by our feeling of mercy, at least we are helped.

            Then comes the third kind, the virtuous people. When you see a virtuous man, feel delighted. “Oh, how great he is.” Don’t envy him; don’t try to pull him down. Appreciate the virtuous qualities in him and try to cultivate them in your own life.

            And, lastly, the wicked. We come across wicked people sometimes. We can’t deny that. So what should be our attitude? Indifference. Don’t try to advise wicked people because wicked people seldom take advice. If you try to advise them you will lose your peace. I remember a small story from the Pancha Tantra which I was told as a small child.

            One rainy day, a monkey was sitting on a tree branch getting completely drenched. Right opposite on another branch of the same tree there was a small sparrow sitting in its hanging nest. Normally a sparrow builds its nest on the edge of a branch so it can hang down and swing around gently in the breeze…it was warm and cozy inside its nest and the sparrow just peeped out and, seeing the poor monkey, said ‘Oh, my dear friend, I am so small; I don’t even have hands like you, only a small beak. But with only that I built a nice house, expecting this rainy day. Even if the rain continues for days and days, I will be warm inside. I heard Darwin saying that you are the forefather of the human beings, so why don’t you use your brain? Build a nice, small hut somewhere to protect yourself during the rain.’ You should have seen the face of that monkey. It was terrible! ‘Oh, you little devil! How dare you try to advise me? Because you are warm and cozy in your nest you are teasing me. Wait, you will see where you are!’ The monkey proceeded to tear the nest to pieces, and the poor bird had to fly out and get drenched like the monkey.

            This is a story I was told when I was quite young and I still remember it. Sometimes we come across such monkeys, and if you advise them they take it as an insult. They think you are proud of your position. If you sense even a little of that tendency in somebody, stay away.

            So have these four attitudes: friendliness, compassion, gladness and indifference. These four keys should always be with you in your pocket. If you use the right key with the right person you will retain your peace. Nothing in the world can upset you then.

Okay, discuss or think…but take it all in.

I am sure that some of you who know me personally might be thinking, she wrote this about me. If so, check the egos with your baggage and get real. I am writing about me and you and everyone who is human. And remember, the sage Patanjali said the words above, oh, about 4,000 years ago. This means that WE, as human beings, have not changed much in thousands of years. We have the same issues, the same problems, the same struggles that our ancestors had. The reason I brought up my current situation (being on tour) is because living in a bubble gives me a unique perspective. Once I stepped out of the bubble, it became much clearer to see where my own struggles lie. It’s also evident that Sutra 1:33 can be applied to everybody and every life circumstance in some way, shape or form. It’s like taking a good, hard look in the mirror and then placing the same mirror in front of everyone you live and associate with. Most of us can relate to one or more of the four character types outlined in Sutra 1:33. Maybe you’ve even associated with all of them at some point or another in your life, as life is constantly changing.

We have ALL also encountered happy, unhappy, virtuous and wicked people and have probably handled these folks quite differently depending on our world views and life experiences. Again, for me, the toughest type to deal with is the fourth. Wicked is a pretty strong word, I know. But it was not my word choice, it was Satchidananda’s. And, wicked, as I interpreted it through my readings of various Sutra translations over the years, doesn’t have to mean wicked as in “Wicked Witch of the East.” Sometimes it’s difficult to see “wicked” on the surface and again, this is why we need to look “inside” the box.

Patanjali says there are four keys. My struggle, again, lies in finding and accessing the key to number four. You see, it’s hard for me to be “indifferent.” Usually I internalize things for a while and take everything personally. Slowly, I am learning to let go and go about my own business. I know I need to try harder still just to disregard and ignore these types of people. If I can do this successfully, anyone with a wicked nature can’t affect or hurt me. Again, this fuels my resolve to work towards letting go through yoga, meditation, breath work and whatever other means are useful to me.

What keys are challenging for you? Have you taken a good hard look in the mirror lately? What type of person do you see: happy, unhappy, virtuous or wicked or a combination of more than one? How do you best deal with each of these types of people? Do you hold the keys?

Life is not easy. The best we can do is be friendly to the happy, compassionate to the unhappy, delighted for the virtuous and indifferent to the wicked. Amen Patanjali.

Categories: Etcetera, get real, On the Road, Philosophy, That's Life!, Travel, Truth, Writing, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Breaking Up is Hard to Do………….

But so is hanging on. Trust me on this one. It’s sort of like standing in quick sand, not that I have ever actually done this. Nonetheless, I imagine this is what it feels like. You want to leave or set yourself free. In some instances, you want to run, fast. But you can’t. You’re stuck. Every time you try to free yourself, you seem to sink in even deeper.

Hypothetically, if you are in this type of situation, what do you do? You either stay stuck and keep sinking OR you find some way to break free. Sometimes it’s easier to remain stuck. You know the environment and your little spot is familiar and comfy. What’s the alternative? The unknown. Yet somehow, you KNOW you need to cut yourself loose. But this takes courage and it’s scary to venture beyond your comfort zone.

Still with me? I’m going somewhere here, I promise. Let’s back up a bit. You haven’t heard a peep from me in oh, almost three months. You could say I’ve been stuck in the quick sand and it’s not too far from the truth, metaphorically speaking. I’ve had some big decisions to make and opted to simply not make them for months. All the while, I sunk in deeper and while this was going on, my life became more and more stressful. I knew what I needed to do, yet I couldn’t do it.

I needed to close a door — at least for a while — in order for others to open. To simplify: I needed to stop running Breathe Joy Yoga, the business I opened nine years ago and have been operating from the road for almost a year. It was becoming insurmountable. What seemed like a simple business to outsiders was way more complicated than it looked.

Here I am, traveling full-time with my son AND trying to balance the books, schedule classes, manage a staff, communicate with customers, handle payroll, send out marketing e-blasts, keep up our social media sites and more. I wanted to give it a try. I thought I could do it all. But I couldn’t. It was exhausting me. Stressing me out. Stressing my family out. Stressing my manager out. Not only that but I started to resent the studio and yoga in general. I wanted to devote my time to my son and the show but there was always something else that I had to handle. It was just too much. But yet I could not let go. Not for six months. I knew in September that I needed to give it up. But it took me six months to do it. Tomorrow (April 1) is our last class at Breathe Joy Yoga. At least for a while. Ironically, I will be home this summer. So why couldn’t I  keep the doors open for another few months until I return?

It was time. Time to let go. Period.

It’s hard to let go of anything you care about. We’ve all been there. How many of you have held onto something or someone for way too long? When you finally make the decision to break away, you instantly feel relief — if for no other reason than you simply made a decision despite how difficult it was. Tomorrow I will be free. It doesn’t mean I won’t be sad. It took me nine years to build my business from the ground up. But I feel good about this decision. I have no regrets because it was the right choice.

So now, when I get home this summer, I won’t have a yoga studio anymore. Maybe I will teach yoga classes elsewhere. Maybe I will teach in my studio once again. Maybe I won’t teach at all. Maybe I will sell my studio, my business, my house. Maybe I will tour again (I know, my tour friends are laughing now!) Maybe I will write a blog post every day. Maybe I will do nothing for a while. Maybe I will relish in spending more time with my kids, husband and dog. Maybe I will travel. Maybe I will move to another city or state or country. Maybe I will learn to bask in the complete unknown. Maybe — no, certainly — I will feel grateful that I can make choices and have the complete support of my family.

There is one thing, however, that I know for sure. Doors that had been shut tight will now open because I was brave enough to set myself free. This is how it works. I’m ready to see what’s on the other side.

Categories: Accidental Stage Mom, Etcetera, On the Road, Philosophy, That's Life!, Travel, Truth, Uncategorized, Writing, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

2012 in review: Thanks everyone for reading!!!!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 11,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 18 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Categories: Accidental Stage Mom, humor, On the Road, Philosophy, That's Life!, Uncategorized, Writing, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have” — Anna Quindlen

It’s been an interesting ride, these past six months. As I sit here — taking a break from organizing our suitcases once again — I am contemplating where do we go from here? Not just Noah or Noah and I, but our family and my yoga studio?

But first, let me backtrack for a moment…..we arrived home on Monday, Nov. 19 and turned around the very next day to head into New York City. That was a whirlwind, albeit a successful day. We hit Massachusetts again on Wednesday at 1 am and I spent that day preparing to host 20 people at our house for Thanksgiving. It was a fabulous day but I’m glad I can check that one off the list. I taught a post-Thanksgiving detox flow yoga class on Friday morning. We hit the Nutcracker opening night on Friday night and spent the weekend organizing our lives to hit the road again — for six months!

Packing for long trips can tell you a lot about yourself. I’m serious here. For me, I’ve discovered that I don’t need much to live comfortably. Which brings me to my life as I used to know it. Coming home to my big house in the suburbs (never felt big before but after living for months in one hotel room, it sure feels big now), on a couple of acres of land with a yoga studio on the property was my dream. I guess the operative word here is “was”. I’m not sure it “is” anymore. I thought this was going to be my life. Living in this beautiful place with my incredible family. Running a yoga studio. Teaching classes. Being a mom to my children and having the flexibility to be available when they needed me.

But my oldest son is a junior in high school with only about 18 months left living here, I am living on the road with Noah, my husband works in Boston and my step-son lives closer to the city as well. Nobody’s life seems to be here or will be here anymore. The reality of all of this hit home this week, this Thanksgiving week. I can’t see Noah going back to Sharon High School after Billy Elliot. Not sure where he’ll go but it likely won’t be here. And what about me? Do I want to try to go back to my old life? And therein lies the struggle.

Should I stay or should I go? Being on tour could give me a good excuse not to think about this pressing question. But this would be just a temporary escape in just about every way. I’d rather deal with it head on as it just won’t leave my head otherwise.

You see, it’s not just a matter of whether or not to stay in this physical place. It’s a matter of moving on emotionally and spiritually.  We’ve all experienced this in some way or another. Even if you don’t think you have — trust me, you have. More often than not, we opt not to deal with the fork in the road. It’s easier to stay stuck. Why? It’s familiar, it’s routine. It’s simply easier than moving in a completely new direction. But the signs are usually there. In fact, they are ALWAYS there. It’s just a matter of being open to seeing them. It’s a matter of listening when the noise seems way too loud. As one of my yoga students said in class Friday, “no matter what decision you make, you need to be at perfect peace.” You need to listen first in order to arrive at this peace.

I keep seeing the signs. I know where peace lies. The universe also knows and it always shows us the way. I am thankful for that.

The signs were loud and clear a couple of weeks ago.  In early November — before we went to Indianapolis for the Billy Elliot run — Noah, Joel and I spent three days in Los Angeles. We had some meetings there, Joel was going to work out of his law firm’s L.A. office, and we were going to see family (ironically both my 1st and 2nd husbands are from Southern California so about 2/3 of Noah’s extended family lives there). I also lived in L.A. for 14 years and went to college at U.S.C. (before Noah was born) so it always feels like a homecoming to me. But this time felt different from every other time I’ve been there to visit over the past decade. We stayed in Studio City, where I used to live. It felt eerily like home, like my “current” home. About 14 years ago, when Ethan was two years old, I convinced my ex-husband to leave this place. I didn’t want to raise my kids in this showbiz bubble. Yet, somehow we ended up in this showbiz bubble. I even married Joel, whose family works in the entertainment industry in L.A. Somehow this felt uncannily comfortable to me.

The signs have been loud and clear this week too although I’ve had to fight not to muffle those loud signs. After a week in Indianapolis and coming home to the Boston area for a week, the only thing that really feels like home to me here is my family. All of them, quirks and all. Yet the place, this place, doesn’t seem to matter to me anymore. My career, my studio, my house…..they all feel like paperweights. They no longer define me (in fact they never did, I just thought they did).

Which brings me back to that question: Should I stay or should I go? And if I go, where to? I guess the important thing for me is……the place doesn’t really matter. I know the answer and there’s no looking back.

Categories: Accidental Stage Mom, On the Road, Philosophy, That's Life!, Uncategorized, Yoga | Tags: , , , , | 14 Comments

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

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

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