The Moral Dilemma of an Unintentional Stage Mom with Power

“Hi, Lisa. This is . . . I’m sure you know why I am calling.”

Well, actually, I have no clue. You called my husband’s office and left a message for me, without leaving a hint as to who you were or what you wanted. The only reason I called back was because it was a local number and this is a very small town.

“We were wondering if you would stage manage for one of the Children’s Theater shows this summer? You would be paid a little, of course.”

“Oh . . . um . . . can you give me some details. I mean, I know what stage managing is but, I need more specifics about schedules and things like that.”

“Oh,” she replies, concern creeping into her voice that I did not immediately agree to her offer. She gives me some details and ends with “I know it’s not a lot of money, but it is so worthwhile.”

The money isn’t really the issue. Well, it is, but it isn’t the only issue.

“Let me think about it,” I say. “When do you need an answer by?”

“Oh . . . um . . . Wednesday?” I think I’ve still thrown her by my hesitancy.

Why am I hesitant? I have the skills, as I started stage managing more than (gasp!) twenty years ago in college. I probably have more training than most of the people who will be working on the show, and I had hoped to work with these kids anyways in some sort of mini-summer camp.

But I still hesitated. It’s not really the money. Nor is it the fact that I  actually should be directing or producing. Nor is it the fact that lately I volunteer an awful lot.

The problem is my daughter.

Nathan will be heading to Okoboji Summer Theater at some point in May. Sarah wanted to audition for this musical, so we all decided that she and I would stay here for part of the summer (assuming she got cast) so that she could do the musical. That’s the only reason we would stay, really, because it makes  more financial sense to go to the summer theater. Nathan gets paid, and I help them out for room and board which means we don’t have to pay for food and the exorbitant costs of keeping cool during a hot Kansas summer. I hear that last year it was over 100 degrees for a large portion of the summer.

But, Sarah wants to be in the musical, so the plan was made.

But here’s the catch . . . Sarah has to audition like any other child. While she has stage presence and theater smarts (how can she not when she is being raised in the theater) there is not guarantee that she will be cast. She definitely has talent, but I don’t know what the director looks for and I have no intention of persuasion and will only help Sarah prepare if she asks.

As  a director, I refuse to trade in favors. I cast the best person for a role, taking into account whether or not I want to work with him/her. I very rarely pay attention to the “you have to cast her or she won’t graduate” or “my son is the best person for this, if you cast him I will donate . . .”. When working with young people, I respectfully ignore any form of stage parenting, and will even go so far as laying down rules and expectations for parental behavior. I find it as important to educate the parents as the children, and I refuse to promote false hopes and expectations that the child is destined to become a star. I do theater with young people for other reasons–if they go on to become stars that is great (and I will expect a thank you at the awards ceremony) but what I offer is the skills to think, create, explore and enjoys.

So now I found myself cast in the unintentional role of Stage Mom with Power. If Sarah is not cast, then we have no reason to stay this summer (and I already explained that financially it makes more sense to go with Nathan). If Sarah is cast, then it makes sense for me to Stage Manage, as I will be taking her to rehearsals all the time anyway. If she’s not cast and I stage manage, then what do I do with her, since I will basically be a single parent for about 6 weeks?

See my dilemma? Do I pull the stage mom thing (shudder) and say I will only stage manage if Sarah is cast? Do I say “yes” no matter what? Do I give a hesitant “yes” explaining that might change to a “no” if Sarah isn’t cast (which feels like manipulation to me)?

I am caught in the throes of an ethical dilemma. Any ideas?

The Moon Calls

The Woman moves silently through the sleeping household, pulling on a silken bathrobe as she cautiously makes her way toward the sliding back door.

The tide surges in her blood and she cannot sleep. She hears a mysterious call that echoes from inside her head, if only she could understand what the voice was saying.

She slides open the door and steps out into the night air. A cool breeze whispers more secrets as it ruffles her hair gently. The sounds of night hesitate for only a moment, sensing the intruder in their midst. The moon speaks to them in its own language, but this time the woman understands, “Have no fear.”

The creatures of the night resume their songs. In the distance, a dog howls, joined by other dogs in an unearthly serenade.

The woman steps forward, the damp grass seeping through her slipper clad feet. She heeds the call and walks towards the glowing orb that lights misty clouds with warm gold. Moon mother beams down, a benevolent smile on her face.

The Woman finds herself walking in a field full of whispering grasses. The scent of night-blooming jasmine fills the air, along with other scents that hint of spices and flowers unknown. Despite the night sky, the Woman almost sees the colors of flowers peeking out in the moonlight; faint whispers of the glorious kaleidoscope they share during the day.

Her heart thrums with the song of the moon, “Come closer, my children, one and all! The time has come for you to embrace your power.”

The Woman suddenly becomes aware that she is not alone in the field. Other women  slowly make their way towards the call of the moon, floating in the same dream that carried her to this field of mystery. Every age, every size, every race, every color of hair. They wear pajamas, and nightgowns, bathrobes, and party clothes. Some are barely dressed. But nobody seems to care.

Most walk alone, but some come hand-in-hand, their smiles reflecting the joyous glow of the moon.

As they approach each other, they share hugs of silent welcome. They do not exchange words, but no words are necessary.  They form a grand circle with the moon at the very center.

“Hear my song, daughters one-and-all,” the moon calls. “Your time is coming. Our time is coming. But it will not be easy. We must be strong, and we must learn to battle hatred with wisdom and love. We must learn to share power with each other, rather than grasp power with greed. We must learn to look for peace and true justice without heeding the calls of those who will call us wicked or sinners, for they have embodied a story written by man. We must discard that story and relearn the stories of women. We must share that story with those men who are willing to hear, to learn, to change.  We must embrace the nature that surrounds us, and welcome all creatures great and small into our bosoms. If you are willing to do this, then you have my blessings and will carry a piece of my song with you to help guide you on your journey.”

“If you can do this, speak with your heart and I will hear.”

The Woman hesitates for a moment, but then sees the smiles on some of the faces near her. Warmth spreads through her body starting from her womb. Her own hands seem to glitter with an inner light. This was the call she had been waiting to hear.

Some women look fearful and turn away, breaking into runs to escape the glade.

The women who remain form a closer circle, holding hands in unity, not fear. The Woman looks at the faces in the circle and sees wisdom and beauty in all shapes and sizes.  These are my sisters, she thinks to herself.

“Speak with your heart,” the moon sings.

The Woman’s heart feels too big for her chest, and she hears it pumping more warmth through her body. Its beating creates a drum-song in her ears. She feels the need to sing in rhythm with the beat. She closes her eyes and begins a wordless song. Suddenly, she hears the voices of all the remaining women join her in a chorus that is led by the beating of their hearts. They create a chord of pure love that reaches up to the heavens, and the moon joins them in glorious symphony.

As one they stop and silent joy fills the glade.

“We are one,” the moon says. “Take the message to the world.”

With that all the women hug again, tears pouring down their faces. Not, however, tears of sadness but tears of cleansing joy.

They turn back to their homes.

The Woman returns to bed. She sleeps, only to waken the next morning with a song in her heart and a new sense of purpose.

She starts the day humming the message of the moon.

Shots of Spring with My New Camera

When I took my camera out to take a picture of my “art” the other day, I dropped it and completely massacred the lens. Luckily, I had gotten some birthday money with orders to use it on myself, so today I bought a new camera plus some art supplies with a new “creation” in mind. When we got back, we took the dogs for a walk and I tried out my new camera. I’m pretty happy with some of my shots:

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Time for Spring Cleaning

Time to open up the windows 
and let the breeze blow through the house
chasing away stale memories
of dreams lost to darkness and decay.

Time to sweep out the dusty
remnants  of fragile thoughts
that accumulated in corners
out of fear and misuse.

Time to peel the plastic off the windows
to welcome the warm air
and put away the blankets
that cocooned you with a false sense of protection.

Time to throw away the dying flowers and scattered paper
remnants of faded glory
and plant instead the seeds of wildflowers
hidden bursts of possibility in unknown shapes and colors.

Time to chase away stale odors

Image by Steve Kramer

of heavy food and misty tears,
welcoming deep breaths of freshness
that fill your heart with the power of hope.

Time to be reborn.

Where Do We Hide?

I am so frustrated. I’ve been having a wonderful few days, being open to possibilities and positivity. Seeing the world as one full of potential rather than one of lost hope.

But then stupidity reigns supreme. I don’t really even have the words to express how I feel about the insanity around us such as:

  • cutting funding for NPR and PBS
  • further tax cuts that make the rich get richer and loses more jobs
  • people still posting horrible things about Japan getting payback
  • Republicans calling emergency meetings about cutting funding for NPR
  • the loss of true freedoms in our country
  • etc. etc. etc.

Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s the fact that today seems to be a mother/daughter battle day. Or maybe I let too much hope in so, now I simply crashed. Whatever, it is, I feel wordless today, and without hope.

So, instead, I thought I would share this interesting article with you all to enjoy for its beauty and peace.

Buddhist Nun Shares The Sound Of Music : NPR.

As well as a video I just found:

When You Open the Door . . . Who Knows What Will Happen?

There’s a knock on the door on a dark but lovely night. Your porch light is out and you can’t really see who is at the door? Do you open it, not knowing who is on the other side? Or, do you give in to some of the obsessive paranoia and fears of our society and keep the door locked tightly, pretending not to be home?


Lisa attempts to create



Yesterday I opened the door. Not literally, figuratively. As some of you know, yesterday I gave myself permission to follow my heart and my dreams. Then I spent the day painting at an art studio. I felt the urge to create, so I went and created. Now I will have to add an image of that, um, creation at later point (I forgot to take a picture when I left yesterday and I’m still a little nervous about sharing) but I spent the day with two wonderful new friends and amazing artists who encouraged me every step of the way.

White, Black, and Grey by Heather Henry

Wood Panel by Jackie Haltom

So the door creaked open. Then some wondrous things began to happen.  A while back a former student of mine had posted on Facebook that her company was looking for Voice Over Artists and she wanted some of her friends to submit. I said I would, and then never got to it.  Last week she contacted me personally and said they have a project that might be perfect for me. Being in the midst of the post-show illness, I told her I was interested but couldn’t submit anything unless she wanted a voice that sounded like I was swallowing gravel while drowning in pudding. 😉 Luckily there was no time limit, so on Tuesday I recorded myself reading a fabulously fun and absolutely alliterative story called “Bubble Trouble” by Margaret Mahy. (If you can find it and have young kids to read to you should read this story). Next they asked for my resume and head shot. I manipulated my massive CV into some kind of one page representative format, and asked a friend to take some new head shots for me. I finally had a picture that I felt like sharing, and so now you see my face instead of the incredible summer sky at Okoboji Summer Theater next to my comments. I couldn’t decide which one was better (as I usually wear glasses now and gave up contacts last year because I could not keep them in very long in dry climates. So I submitted them both.

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Last night I got a request for a Skype meeting to learn more about the project and “show them what I can do.” Eek! Now, I have no clue what this project actually entails (other than tv and puppets) or what will happen. But, the point is, I tried just because it seemed fun to try. I don’t know what will happen, but maybe my already bizarre career path is about to take another strange twist.

The door opened a little wider.

Then I spent a delightful St. Patrick’s Day evening with good friends who I hadn’t spent time with in a while. I kind of initiated the gathering, at my friends’ house, and usually I’m not that pushy. But joyous fun was had by all. It was nice to go through that door too.

Finally, I came home to discover that The Idiot’s cat Lulu had selected me for another Memetastic Award. That’s right folks, I’m a two-time winner!

I am really honored because I love The Idiot Speaketh and read him daily. But, it was really hard to come up with the untruths last time, and I don’t know if I have any more. So, I am going to link you to the post of my original Memetastic Award. But, I will select five new fabulous blogs that I love to honor with this award as well. I am trying to spread the wealth  a little if I can!

  1. Amanda at  A. Hab’s View of the World
  2. Jerri at A Thursday’s Child
  3. Kathryn at Reinventing the Event Horizon
  4. Sandi at That’s Ahhsome!
  5. Steve at The Odd Ramblings of a Mind that Does Not Quite Fit

I hope this award hopes some of you open more doors!

I can’t wait to see what is behind the next one!

Now, I’m not saying open all real doors to strangers without being cautious, but it is really important to open doors to life and possibilities. What do you think?

So here is my “masterpiece” well, attempt at art.


Embracing Creativity



I Give You Permission . . .

I give you  permission . . .

to paint the sky green and the clouds purple and the ground blue.

to create something out of mud, water, pen and ink.

"The Long Walk Home" by Heather Henry

to write about love, or hate, life , or work.

to dance to your own inner rhythm or to the music blasting out of your stereo.

to pursue knowledge because you love to learn, and then throw that knowledge in the air to pursue something else.

to leave your house messy  as your follow other projects.

to live in the present with only a small thought to the future.

to celebrate your family and your life in every way possible.

to cry, yell, scream and moan, as long as you don’t hurt yourself.

to travel wherever your dreams take you.

Castle in Spain. Photo by Steve Kramer

to dip your hands in finger paints and brighten up your walls.

to write–posts and poems, stories and letters, thoughts and dreams–just be sure to use all your words.

to believe in leprechauns, fairies, unicorns, vampires, and ufos.

to take naps when you are tired.

to take a break when you need one.

I give you permission to believe in yourself  and pursue a life full of joy and happiness.

Who am I?

I am you.

Give yourself permission!

What Happens Next?

My most recent unknown started here. (Photo by Steve Kramer


I’ve noticed that many people lately live fearful lives.

There seem to be many causes for this:

  • The economy: which leaves financial security and career opportunities unknown
  • Nature: which leaves the question of the entire earth surviving into the future unknown
  • An aging society: which leaves us open to more unknown diseases and health issues
  • Overwhelming possibilities: which makes more people feel like something is wrong when their path to “success” is unknown
  • Loss of community: which makes people feel alone in the unknown.

Does anyone see the common word here? It is the unknown.

Many of my friends have been feeling this fear lately. Either in person or on Facebook, or even in the blogosphere, people are becoming overwhelmed by the unknown, as I was reminded reading A. Hab’s post yesterday.

I am no exception, but I don’t want to live in fear anymore.

I have been living with the unknown for several years now. Actually, I think it has been longer than that. I entered the unknown when I graduated with a Ph.D and then had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life. I’d achieved many dreams, but didn’t have any new clear dreams or goals. I moved further into the unknown when my husband, through the politics of academia, was not given tenure in his position–just as the economy crashed. So we moved blindly forward hoping to find a place to land safely and call home.

We landed on our feet, but we still live in the unknown because this does not feel like home. I am beginning to discover new dreams, but that becomes harder because I am now fully ensconced in early Middle Age. For some reason it feels harder to dream big when you have to support a family and compete against people half your age. But shouldn’t experience be more valuable than youth? You would think so.

Everyday I wake up into the unknown.

Today I woke up without a clue what to write about, and almost a fear of facing this blog.  Today I woke up without a plan, without a goal, without a known.

But, as I write this, I know that’s okay. I have survived the unknown, and I will continue to survive the unknown.

That’s the only thing I really know. And I think that has to be enough.

Would anyone care to join me on an exciting adventure into the unknown? I promise you, it will be exciting and take us to places we could never imagine.

And, to reveal my inner Gleek–Rachel’s song from yesterdays show really goes along with how I’m feeling today:

Gathering Valuable Experiences


Wedding Quilt

So many things to write about today, where should I begin?


Well, first I must give a huge shout out to Sandi Ormsby at That’s Ahhsome! who gave me the most AWESOME blogging birthday present ever. Please check it out and enjoy. One of the things I love the most about it is how happy Sandi was creating it herself, which ties in nicely with what I wanted to write about today–doing things that challenge ourselves and fulfill us in unusual way.

The idea for this came from a number of places, including the post called “Ten Things I Value Most” at Broadside. Caitlin’s post was very touching and made me think about what some of the things are that I value most. I realized that many of the “things” I value represent experiences I have had–experiences that challenged me and forced me out of my comfort zone to some extent. Some of the things I value are just things, but most of them represent something more.


Mementos of Japan

I don’t think I can pick one of these special items as more valuable to me than another, because they all represent my first complete break from my family and move into a world where I function as a strong individual. Although many of them remain tucked away presently, as neither of us felt like this was home enough to decorate completely, they remain significant and always will be. The list of precious Japan memorabilia include:

  • The wedding kimono that I got at a bargain price with my own money–perhaps my most expensive purchase.
  • The handmade teacups that I bought in Kyoto,
  • Chopsticks, well used now, but given to me by various students.
  • A beautiful collection of boxes for food.
  • The door hanging my parents bought when they visited me, complete with a bamboo pole to hang it on that has been a challenge to travel with.
  • The old man and old woman masks that watch over me, promising a long life filled with love.
  • A little green monkey named Midori, that a very special man won out of one of those arcade games with the claw. (Yes, Nathan knows about it and I have actually passed it on to Sarah–that way I could keep it without feeling guilty).
  • Although I didn’t get this in Japan, the quilt made for us at our wedding incorporates many Japanese symbols and is precious as well. If I had not gone to Japan, I would never have ended up in Hawaii where I met Nathan.


Wedding Kimono



    Fuzzy Family

    In addition to Midori, I have a collection of special, stuffed, fuzzy friends that represent a lot of different things. They include teddy bears given by special people, including Nathan, and a stuffed dog named Ralph that came from England wearing an anklet around his neck for me to wear.  Some of them (in particular Desmond the dog, Marvin the Moose, Clara-belle the pig, and Montgomery the mini moose) have traveled with us to have their adventures recorded in a scrap-book. They even went to Norway with me for a conference (as if I needed the extra weight in my luggage). Desmond has had more adventures than Snoopy, I think, and definitely eaten more food. There is also a tiny pink fluffy lamb that I have carried with me since childhood. I don’t know where it came from or who gave it to me, but I know I can never let it go.








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    I have numerous scrapbooks, although admittedly many of them are incomplete. I’m not a meticulous scrapbooker, but I enjoy arranging pictures to tell some sort of story. My brand of  scrapbooking might be called a creative mess, but they still hold special memories and are precious for that reason.


    Speaking of holding precious memories, I still have the very first hard covered journal my parents gave me. It was for a school project, where I wrote my first “book” that is a collection of poems, stories and illustrations all created by me. Little did they know that by giving me that book, they started an obsession with journals that I have had to curb. I have numerous ones–some filled from front to back and some feeble attempts at writing that ended in an expanse of empty pages. Some contain more diary-like entries, some more creative ones. A few contain morning pages when I worked my way through The Artist’s Way. These journals represent many times in my life, but more importantly they represent the words I hid away out of fear of showing them. It has taken me years to overcome that fear, and you read the results today. The steps that led me to blogging daily were, I believe, an important part of my writing journey:

    • Writing, writing all the time, but fearful of sharing anything
    • Submitting some poetry and getting it published (only to learn later that it was a scam)
    • Writing a doctoral dissertation and then submitting it for awards where politics defeated it.
    • Deciding it was time to pursue my dream of writing other things and taking a distance learning course through the Institute of  Children’s Literature
    • Getting a couple of articles published
    • Taking the advanced course and then the book writing course through the Institute.
    • Writing an actual book, that still has not found a home. Sharing that book Giving Up the Ghost with friends in a writing group, who encouraged me to write a blog.
    • Woman Wielding Word history was made

    Tap Shoes

    A few years ago, when my daughter was taking Tap and Jazz, I decided it was time to challenge myself and do something out of my comfort zone, so I signed up for Tap. We ended up performing in the same recital together, and we had a blast. The tap shoes represent a variety of activities that I try to challenge myself with every year–things that force me to break out of my shell a little bit more. Those activities included:

    • taking the course in writing I mentioned above
    • taking voice lessons. Yes, I have been in musicals, but I was always afraid my voice wasn’t good enough, so actually taking one-on-one lessons was scary for me. They ended badly for an unrelated reason that is a story for another time.
    • taking a poetry workshop
    • going to a writing seminar
    • this year, learning how to play piano
    • next, taking an art class

    There you have it folks, some of the things I value the most. But it isn’t really the things, it is the memories and what they represent in my journey through self-discovery.

    What do you treasure? What stories do those things share?

    [Note: My computer hates me today, so I will have to add images later on.]

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