Well, hello. I would apologize for the lengthy bloggy break, but there are times in a girl’s life when she needs some grace, and the past few months absolutely qualify. In terms of time and emotional bandwidth to blog, I’ve had none. In terms of living experiences that offer potential blog content – well, WOO-HOO, the good news is I’ve hit the jackpot. You can get a hint from today’s blog post title, and I’ll be covering said fire and (self-imposed) stabbing in future posts. Which will be happening on a much more regular basis now, I’m happy to say.
Enough about that, except to say I’m grateful you’re here. It’s nice to see you again!
On to the main event. So, what did you do last week? Oh, me? Nothing much. Just my debut stand-up comedy “gig” in front of about 300 people at the national convention for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Seattle. It was, as Randy Jackson would say, alright.
OK, no, it was actually crazy fun! Wait, probably poor choice of words, but it was really, really fun. And because humor and sharing my family’s story is where I am headed, I wanted to share these first baby steps with all of you. (Or, you know, both of you, whatever. Hi, mom.)
By sharing it with you, I make it real. I can’t hide it, or take it back, I have to pick it up and take it forward.
Here’s the thing – I know this isn’t perfect, or even close. I share it here because I feel like I am at a fork in the road. Down one fork is not telling more than a few close friends about the experience, ha ha, and thinking wistfully about the spark I felt inside while I did it, the joy of helping families take back the power of their experiences through the humor in mine, and the truth in the words that flowed so quickly when I sat down to write the material.
But the other way, the other fork in the road, is to share it here. In the sharing I force myself to own it, to accept the joy I felt in doing it, the very rightness of it settling itself into the center of me.
It also forces me to reconcile the two most interesting comments I received. One woman told me how much I touched her, and another how clear it was that I was speaking from my heart. Neither comment were what I would expect if I was destined to do nothing with the experience. It may be, however, small confirmation of my desire to write and speak to others, to share my passion and the journey of my family and the words of my heart.
If you laugh, even a little, great. You will probably learn a little more about my family’s reality, which has its rough moments. That’s good. If something in here shocks you or offends you, that’s ok, I’ve made you think.
A recent devotional from the writings of theologian Henri Nouwen about the act of writing says:
“The word must become flesh, but the flesh also must become word. It is not enough for us, as human beings, just to live. We also must give words to what we are living. If we do not speak what we are living, our lives lose their vitality and creativity….. When we are sorrowful or in great pain, we need to talk about it. When we are surprised by joy, we want to announce it!
Through the word, we appropriate and internalize what we are living. The word makes our experience truly human.”
And a couple of notes of context. My audience was a mix of mental health professionals, people living with mental illness, and their family members and loved ones. We went on after a very cool poetry jam, which you’ll hear me mention.
Well, I guess that’s it. Enjoy!
(Note – this worked great last night, had the picture and everything. Today, not so much. Click on one of the links below, hopefully it will work!)
Tara at NAMI 2012