Monday, June 10, 2019

What I Did For Love

Hello Darlings...

Today would have been my mother's 75th birthday. She's been gone now for 14 years and I miss her every day. I'm sure if she was here she would have been the most gorgeous amazing 75 year old woman on the planet. Today I dedicate this blog to her...and what she taught me...

When I was about 14 years old my mother took me to Jones Hall to see a musical.

Before that day I had only seen musicals in a movie theater...and I loved them.

If the movie had people spontaneously bursting into song in the middle of a scene then I was all for it.

I love Mary Poppins, Cinderella (that one was on tv), Chitty Chitty Bang Band (minus the part about the child catcher),  and most especially Camelot (plus a whole lot of other Disney etc).

My mother LOVED musicals.

My father would take her to see shows and she would bring back the programs and I would study them like they were a text book.

She would tell me the stories of the show, describe the costumes, and play me the music.

When we lived in the Kingsville there was not a lot of live theater to take a child to save for the "Follies" her women's club put on each year and I lived for that---singing, dancing, costumes...I loved it.

So when we moved to Houston my mother finally had the opportunity to take me to see a musical on the stage.

It was "A Chorus Line".

She saw it on Broadway when it first opened and I had wanted to see it every since she told me that it was a show about Broadway dancers who were the hard working men and women who were in the chorus.

I remember sitting in my seat with great anticipation---and very excited that that this was something my mother and I were doing without my brother and sisters.

The orchestra tuned up, played a bit of overture and the curtain came up and there were the actors singing and dancing.

I was mesmerized.

They were right in front of me putting on this amazing show.

The show went on and each actor tells their story through song and dance and I sat on the edge of my seat and probably did not draw breath.

Near the end of the show one of the characters falls and hurts himself and when the others are asked by the director what they would do if they didn't dance the character of Diana sings "What I Did For Love".

At that point during the show I began to cry so hard I slipped out of my seat.

I was completely drawn in by the story and the music and the dancing and the beauty of the song.

And when the song was over and my mother looked at my tear streaked face she said:

"I think we have found something you truly love"

and at that moment my deep and abiding love of musical theater was born.

Jones Hall.
Sometime in 1978
5 seconds in to What I did for Love

After that my mom knew she had someone to always see a show with and any time something wonderful came through on tour she would take me and when I graduated she took me to New York so I could see a  few Broadway shows before we went on to Europe.

We saw "Cats" and "Starlight Express" and "Dreamgirls".

I loved them all.

And as I looked around at the various marquees and saw the names of more shows I said "I want to see that one...and that one...and that one...".

In other words---all of them...

After that my mom would occasionally treat me to trip to NYC to see shows and when I had a daughter of my own and she was old enough we took her there to see shows as well.

And each time they dim the lights, and the orchestra tunes up, and the curtain rises I feel the blood in my veins pulse harder and I sit and soak up each second of it---and each and every time at some point I cry because I am overwhelmed with love for all of it.

In my late 30's and early 40's I finally got to go on stage myself.

The Junior League presented plays for young students and I helped build the sets and move them my first year and after that I acted for a few years (badly I might add but hey my audience was kindergarteners so I didn't have a high bar).

My mom would come and watch me and would cheer loudly----the only person cheering loudly as I was usually cast as the bad guy.

And then I started working on productions at the school and found that my real love was really doing the costumes more than being on the stage myself.

In 2005 GOTT (God Of The Theater...aka the best theater teacher/director in the world) asked for help with "Music Man" and I lied that I could do it.

What the hell?

I didn't know how to costume a show but I figured it out as fast as I could.

And in the middle of it my mother died.

Before she could ever see the show...

and I almost quit because of her death but I realized that GOTT and the kids needed me to get out of bed and go finish the show.

So I did.

For her.

And for me.

And now I get to do it all the time and each time I love it more and more and I love the challenge of trying to take GOTT's vision and put it on the stage in a beautiful and creative way that tells the story.

I put more into it in hours, sweat, and tears than I am paid for but it is all so worth it.

I do it for love.

Because you have to love it and have a passion for it or what you put on stage would just be mediocre.

I love each sparkle, each bow, each feather, each hat...because inside of them is a child who is doing their best to shine on that stage.

And I love that I get to do my job with a man who is one of my very best friends and someone I dearly love and that I have such fun doing it.

And a few years ago when my team of costumers, hair and makeup girls (and an incredibly creative mom who made armor out of junk from the dollar store) won the Tommy Tune Award for costuming Pippin I so wish my mom had been there with me to see that what she set into motion became my passion and that I finally found a way to take that love and creativity and use it for something.

We find our passions in life by stumbling into them sometimes.

And sometimes we are lucky enough to get to participate in those passions and not just watch.

My mom taught me how to cook, how to dress, how to decorate, how to throw a party, how to raise kids, how to make a bed, how to swim, how to put on makeup, how to love God...and how to love musical theater.

And now, thanks to my mom, I get to see the lights come up, the curtain raise and there on the stage are actors standing and singing and dancing in something I (or my team of girls) chose to put up there. And the actors are kids I love with all my heart.

And there is never a moment that I am not reminded of that young girl sitting in the dark in Jones Hall who cried when "Diana" started with "Kiss today goodbye..."

I see my life as a musical....

I look at my life now and I see that I am in the second act of my life.

The first act is one of childhood and motherhood and marriage. It had all kinds of silly songs and dances, bright costumes, and just before the curtain for intermission there was a cliffhanger with a newly single woman who was facing what was ahead.

And this second act is one of courage, bravery, and facing a battle with a demon.

And like musical theater there will be a big huge ballad before the final showstopping number.

I'm not sure what that ballad will be but it will be one of victory and survival and life because this show won't end with me going will be a happy ending. And the show will go on for many many years...

And I feel my mom with me urging me to sing louder, dance harder, act fiercer, and shine brighter.

So I'm gonna sing louder (which means writing my blog more)
Dance harder (my mom loved to workout)
act fiercer (be stronger as I fight this)
and shine brighter (try to spread as much love as I can)

The stage is where I most feel at home.

I love the way a stage feels to stand on...I love looking out at the seats and seeing all the chairs for the audience to sit in...I love looking at the pit and knowing that there will be musicians down there to play the music. I love the buzz of the dressing rooms as the actors get ready and the last minute panic before a show when a button breaks or a costume rips.

I love that magic will happen on that stage and I want that magic in my real life so I am so glad I get to participate in making art in my own little way.

Life would be so much better if everyone just spontaneously broke into song to explain things or move the day along, don't you think?

I don't have a lot of lessons for today...just stories to tell as I spend today thinking of my beautiful mom and the gift she gave me when she took be to see A Chorus Line all those years ago.

Theater tells a story...and our lives are stories.

Sometimes there are bad guys...sometimes there is love....sometimes there is a group of friends who band together to do something good for something or someone else...and sometimes there is an act of bravery.

I've experienced all of that---people who have failed me...people who have loved me...people who I have worked together with on something and now my act of bravery of facing stage 4 cancer.

I miss my mom every single day but I am so grateful the lessons she taught me. And I'm so blessed that what I love is now what I do for and out of love...

because love is never gone...and even though she is not here she is not gone from me.

If you have a passion in life find a way to put that passion into your daily life and let it lift you up...let it carry you through the hard parts of life.


whatever your passion is.....

for me it's musical theater...for me a sequin glittering in the lights is a beacon...and a song is a battle cry...and a dance is my heartbeat...

All I do I do for love...not to make others love me but my love for others...what i do is born out of my love for making others feel loved, special, happy and joyful. I wake each day with the desire to bring light and good into this world and to clear away the bad and the pain.

I live to love others and share love...and I do not regret if I look like a fool doing so.

Some may find me to be too much to take and that's fine....not everyone can appreciate a clown in an overload of feathers and sequins but that is what I am.

My mom taught me to love and to share it. So I do.

So thank you for letting me put this on stage today and for sitting in the audience to watch...

I'm about to break into song (more writing to come) so stay put...

I'll try not to sing off key...

Inspiration Song: "What I Did For Love" from the musical "A Chorus Line". Because it set me on the path I am on and brought me love...and all I do is for love....

Kiss today goodbye
The sweetness and the sorrow
Wish me luck, the same to you
But I can't regret
What I did for love, what I did for love
Look, my eyes are dry
The gift was ours to borrow
It's as if we always knew
And I won't forget what I did for love
What I did for love
Love is never gone
As we travel on
Love's what we'll remember
Kiss today goodbye
And point me toward tomorrow
We did what we had to do
Won't forget, can't regret
What I did for love
What I did for love
What I did for love
And I won't forget
What I did for love
Love is never gone
As we travel on
Love's what we'll remember
Kiss today goodbye
And point me toward tomorrow
We did what we had to do
Won't forget, can't regret
What I did for love
What I did for love
What I did for love
What I did for love

Bye mom was a fabulous woman who taught me to be me...and to spread love...I hope you found some love here today...and thank you for putting up with yet another of my therapy ramblings!