My Inspiration - Part 1


In May of 2012 I attended my first Listen To Your Mother show - the first one in the Washington, DC area - with my mother-in-law. I had learned of the show via several bloggers I had been following, and bought tickets to the show as a Mother’s Day gift to my sweet MIL because she loves theater and I knew we’d both enjoy the performance.

I was blown away by the stories. Tales of motherhood which captivated the audience from the first line to the last. Fourteen women took turns at the microphone that afternoon and for an hour and a half we laughed, we cried, we nodded in agreement because we had been there and if we hadn’t then at least we now had a better understanding of another mother’s pain.

I didn’t want the show to end. I could have listened to a dozen more, easily.

When it was over I came home and blogged about how I hoped I would make the cast in 2013.

I auditioned.

I didn’t make it.

But I did get what I thought was one heck of a consolation prize when I attended the Wild Mountain Memoir Retreat in March in Seattle, Washington. I got to meet Ann Imig who is the Creator/Founder of Listen To Your Mother and it was such an honor to get to know her while sitting next to her in writing classes for three days.

On the bus ride to the airport after the retreat ended, I had a few hours to sit next to Ann and she asked me to tell her my story. I shared with her my experience with learning to cope with mental illness and how I had hoped my audition for her show in DC would have provided me with an opportunity to come out from the shadows on my anonymous blog. It just wasn’t meant to be. She encouraged me to keep writing and I told her how much I admired everything she had done for writers with LTYM. Listen To Your Mother became a national movement giving Mother’s Day a microphone.

This past May, I again took my mother-in-law (and my friend Sarah, too) to the DC performance of Listen To Your Mother and they both loved it as much as I did. Not everyone can write a compelling essay about a subject matter as emotionally charged as motherhood, and get up on stage in front of 300+ people to read.

It was another brilliant cast, and although at the time I was sad that I wasn’t a part of it, I had no idea what the future held.

After the show, as we were driving home, my mother-in-law Tish casually said to me, “You know, Jenn, you should do a show like that. But about mental health issues.”

If it weren’t for Ann and Listen To Your Mother, I never would have come up with the idea to do This Is My Brave. I saw how this show centered around motherhood was simply amazing. Wouldn’t stories of people living with mental health issues be just as fascinating and compelling?

My heart full of thanks goes out to Ann for dreaming up LTYM and being brave enough to create and run her show since 2010 {there were shows in 24 cities last year!}. And I’m so grateful for my mother-in-law’s suggestion to take the model Ann built and apply the “mental illness” twist.

And this was how This Is My Brave began to take shape.