Week Thirty-eight: Kathy Benson

Kathy Benson - Week 38 - Photo

When was the last time you were nervous?

Last month I tried out for the Listen to Your Mother (LTYM) Chicago 2013 cast. On the night before my audition I wrote about how I was feeling and some of my past experience with being nervous in a post called On Nerves, Johnny Carson and Self Talk. Here is what I shared in that blog entry:

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It’s the eve of my LTYM Chicago audition.

I feel excited and nervous.

I imagine that I am not the only one in the Chicago area feeling this way tonight, as I know there are a lot of us preparing to put our words, our hearts and our souls out there for producers/directors Melisa and Tracey tomorrow.

Today was the first day of the Chicago auditions and I found myself wondering throughout the day what it was like for those who were there, reading their stories in hopes of being chosen to be part of the 2013 cast.

I remember the first time I heard about LTYM was around this time last year. The cast of the NYC show had been announced and my friend Kir from The Kir Corner had been chosen to read her essay, related to motherhood, on stage later that year, as part of the cast.

I was so happy for and proud of my friend. I was also very curious to know what this LTYM thing was all about. It wasn’t on my radar that there was a LTYM Chicago show last May, let alone that I could have applied/auditioned to be a part of it.

Last year I had the opportunity to speak at BlogHer`12 in NYC and in preparation for my trip to the Big Apple, I connected with some other Chicago area bloggers who were going, including ones who had been to previous BlogHer annual conferences. It was so great to get to pick the brains of BlogHer conference veterans, including Melisa (who I eventually learned was also a co-producer for the LTYM Chicago show).

Then in December I was invited by Coca-Cola via BlogHer to participate in a two-day Balanced Living workshop here in Chicago, where I got to meet and spend time with a lot of awesome Chicago area bloggers, including Melisa and Tracey. I really enjoyed getting to know them better at the workshop, along with the other bloggers. I also appreciated getting to hear more about LTYM Chicago, which cemented my interest and intention to submit an essay to be considered for an audition this year.

It wasn’t easy for me to choose a piece for submission. I narrowed it down to six blog posts that I had written over the past five years. I asked some friends and family, including fellow bloggers, who I respect and admire to give me their input. From there I settled on which post I would submit and worked on editing my piece to sound more like a stand alone essay and less like a blog post directed at readers who are familiar with my story. I am grateful to those who helped me during the editing process and gave me feedback about my piece.

I was very happy to be invited to audition this weekend and have been practicing my piece a lot in preparation. Many thanks to my friends and family who have allowed me to practice reading my piece to them, it helped to get to read it in front of others.

I have always loved performing on stage, since I was a little girl, but my performances were usually dance shows and rarely spoken word. I was in my high school’s dance company all four years and loved the experience of learning the choreography and eventually choreographing my own numbers for our annual spring dance show.

Though I loved dancing in the shows, I would often get nervous about performing in front of an audience. So early on my mom told me a story that she had heard years before about Johnny Carson. Apparently Mr. Carson shared in an interview that he got nervous every night before he went on stage for The Tonight Show, but that he used his nervous energy to keep him on his toes and do his best performing for the camera and studio audience. My mom shared that it made her feel better when she had to speak or do something in front of a large group of people to know that even Johnny Carson got nervous before he went on stage. I found comfort in that story too and have called it to mind many times over the years when feeling nervous about performing in front of people.

In recent years I have given witnesses/talks on church retreats and to my MOPS group about my faith journey, especially as it relates to my path to motherhood. I even tried my hand a vlogging twice. But I can’t remember the last time I was this excited and nervous about performing.

So I ask that you please send me your positive thoughts, prayers and good vibes tonight and tomorrow when I will audition at about 12:30 p.m. (CST).

I am sending my thoughts, prayers and best wishes to those who auditioned today for LTYM Chicago and also those who are on deck with me tomorrow. I am especially proud of a friend who I will be traveling with, who is not a blogger, but saw one of my Facebook posts encouraging others to submit their work. My friend decided to write something and submit it and she too was invited to audition!

I can’t imagine being in Melissa and Tracey’s shoes right now, with their Kleenex box and Hershey’s Hugs and Kisses at their judges’ table, trying to discern not just which pieces/writers/readers would be the best fit for this year’s show, but also which combination of stories will bring forth the most variety and compelling flow.

So tonight I am telling myself, as I told one of my dear blogging friends who auditioned this morning for a LTYM show in another city and also happens to be sharing a piece about her experience as a bereaved mother,

“You’ve got this! Sending lots of love, thoughts and prayers your way. I know you will make me and so many other bereaved mothers proud through sharing your story! xoxo”

I am also reminding myself of some advice that friends have given me in this home stretch, including Kir, the one who first introduced me to LTYM last year:

“Use that nervousness… It will fuel your piece… I know you’ll do just great.”

and

“We will all be in the audience in spirit, cheering you on! So proud of you, Kathy!”

Thank you so much dear family and friends, for your support and encouragement! 

I keep telling myself that no matter what happens, I am proud to be putting myself out there for this opportunity. It is an honor and a privilege to share a part of my story, being a bereaved and blessed mother, in honor and memory of our baby girl Molly, as well as all the children who have left this world too soon. I am also dedicating my performance to my fellow bereaved and blessed mothers, who are learning a bit more each day how to live without our children who left this world too soon, though they will always be in our hearts.

To everyone auditioning and hoping to be part of LTYM casts around the country and especially here in Chicago, 

BREAK A LEG!

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Though I felt like my LTYM audition went well, I did not have a good feeling about being picked for the 2013 cast and unfortunately I was right. I was not surprised really, just disappointed. The producers shared the news with me in a very kind and personal email, which I appreciate and they asked me to please consider trying again next year. They seemed to really want me too and I probably will.

I appreciate what a difficult process it was for the producers/directors to choose this year’s cast. I will be going to see the show with a friend, who also auditioned and was not chosen this time around, on May 5th. To those who are local to the Chicago area, tickets are still available and it sounds like it will be an awesome show.

When was the last time you were nervous?

________________________________

Kathy Benson is a bereaved and blessed mom, writer and group fitness instructor trying to live mindfully and find joy in the journey after dealing with secondary infertility and loss for five years. She lives in Chicago, Illinois with her husband and two living children.

Kathy blogs at Bereaved and Blessed. You can also follow Kathy on Twitter @BereavedBlessed and her Facebook page.

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4 thoughts on “Week Thirty-eight: Kathy Benson

  1. Pingback: Spring Shed: Week One

  2. As Brene Brown says in “Daring Greatly,” you got in the arena. I’m so proud of you for that, no matter the outcome.

    And I happen to know first-hand that you are an effective public speaker 🙂

  3. Love what Lori says. Your voice is being heard in so many places right now, because people are recognizing how powerful and beautiful it is. The fact that you GOT there, and auditioned, is amazing to me.

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