Author Archives: Melissa Edmondson

Time to Rebuild

“People are constantly not feeling, but numbing themselves, either through medication or playing on their phones. If you start feeling bad, it’s like, ‘Distract! Distract! Put on Storage Wars!’ And I know because I’m guilty of it, too.”
– Mary Lambert

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m the biggest “non” Donald Trump fan that is currently walking the planet. But in this blog, I have to borrow one of his stupidest ideas and use it as my own.

Sometimes, a “wall” really might be the only answer.

And it’s time to rebuild mine.

A few months ago, I made the decision (together with my doctor) to discontinue depression medication. It was not an easy decision, physically or mentally. If you’re not a regular follower of this blog, I wrote once about how “addicted” I was to the medication I was on (see here). It was a timely and difficult process of weaning, but here I am on the other side and all is well, right?


And here’s why: I feel things again.

You know that feeling when you’ve been sick for a very long time and you finally get the inklings of starting to feel better? That the end is in sight? You become so appreciative and aware of how great it is to not feel sick. It’s almost like euphoria.

Well, what I’m feeling right now is the exact opposite of that.

I had a random discussion with someone once who declared himself an empath. As I listened to him talk, I wondered if that was what I am – if I had finally found the right “diagnosis.” An empath feels things. Not just temporarily and not just on the surface, but they feel them. That doesn’t mean they are just sensitive. Being sensitive means that you feel your own feelings very strongly. No, an empath not only feels their own feelings – but they feel others’ feelings at the same level that they feel their own (sometimes even more). It’s actually a fascinating phenomena. But the more I researched it, the more I realized that even though it may be fascinating, and even though it sounds like being this way would be a good thing, it’s actually quite horrible.

For instance. When my children were small, whenever they’d have a tummy ache, my stomach would hurt too. When they had their tonsils out, I could hardly swallow anything for a week. When my son had yet another bout of strep throat in his toddler years, my throat would not only hurt but I could ‘smell’ the sickness on him. Crazy, right?

Well, over time, I just passed all that off as a mother’s intuition. But it just wouldn’t go away.

And it’s not only my children anymore.

In fact, I don’t even have to know the person.

National news; the political firestorm that is surrounding us right now; the constant struggle for equality; the bombing and devastation in foreign countries – I literally cannot stand it.  I can’t sleep. My stomach hurts. I cry.


See? I read that quote and it started to make sense to me. Is this what is wrong with me right now?

And you know how I handle all of these feelings welling up inside me? Oh, it’s a complicated, difficult method that I’ve worked hard to hone over the years.

I get pissed.

Yup.  I get pissed right off.  Because anger is the easiest emotion to deal with, right? When everything starts piling up and I can’t stand it anymore, I just get mad. Those other emotions are hard, but mad? Oh, mad is easy. It’s my favorite.

picDoes it solve anything? Nope. Does it make me feel better? Nope. But what else am I supposed to do?

Oh yeah. Now I remember.


I sound like I’m joking, but I’m not.  That medication is apparently the only thing that’s going to “save” me. I can’t live like this. I just can’t. The medication serves as somewhat of a blinder. It helps me not “see” all that I’m seeing right now. People are so damn cruel. They just are. They are egotistical, they are condescending, they are furious and taking it out on any and every one who is around them. And me? Hell, I’m mad too. I’m so pissed I can’t even think straight. I start having a conversation about current issues or political happenings and what happens? The convo turns to criticizing and belitting me. Simply because the person doesn’t agree with me or doesn’t see things my way.

What the hell, man?

I recently started a fundraiser in my area called Agreeable Disagreers.  And even though it has done a tremendous amount of “good” in my little county, I’m starting to realize that everything has a price. Because of the title of the group, I have been personally attacked and ridiculed many times because I engage in controversial discussions on Facebook.  The last attack was just too much. The entire fundraiser’s goal was challenged because I, the leader of the group, chose to write a negative review about a local restaurant. Apparently “agreeing to disagree” is supposed to be interpreted as never opening your mouth and saying a word. I was made out to be a liar, a hypocrite, and a fraud, simply because I choose to place a review on a restaurant’s website when they asked for it.

I guess I didn’t make myself clear with the title of the group.

It has the word “DISAGREERS” in it. Do you know what that means? It means we still disagree. People aren’t going to agree on everything all the time. They just aren’t. But when you don’t agree, you don’t personally attack a person. Because this restaurant is in a small town, it was viewed as a “personal attack” on the owner because I wrote a bad review. To me, that is absurd. It’s a BUSINESS. I don’t know that owner from Adam and I personally don’t care who she is. She’s running a business and she has a website that asks for reviews. I gave one.  (Incidentally, this “negative” review included how fabulous the food is, but that the wait time is ridiculous. I’m sure I shut the place down with that, right?).

And here’s the thing – I’m sure people aren’t going to like a negative business review. And I’m sure that business owner has friends who aren’t going to like me now because I gave it. Fine. Be that way. But to publicly humiliate me?  Move to shut down a fundraiser that I run because of my “hypocrisy?”

What the hell is wrong with people?

And most recently, I had someone who was supposed to be a “friend” bring this up as well – throw it my face that I set out to intentionally harm another person with that review.  Are you kidding me?  Me?  Set out to intentionally harm someone? Why on earth would I do that?

I feel their pain too.

I would never ever intentionally harm an individual. Ever. Trust me on this. Sure, it might happen – but it is never my goal. And I know I can be a fiery fighter when I feel like someone has been wronged, including myself, but I would never want to personally attack a person for some kind of personal gain. That’s just plain ridiculous.

Unlike some of my other blog posts, there’s no happy ending to this one. There’s no life lessons, no rays of sunshine, no finding the silver lining. No sir, this blog is just pure and simple telling it like it is. People treat each other like shit now, and I absolutely hate it.  It hurts me to my core and I don’t think I can stand it anymore.

Time to rebuild. Back up goes the wall, and I’m checking out.  You guys duke it out on your own, I’m choosing not to be a part of it anymore.


“Depression is something that doesn’t just go away. It’s just… there and you deal with it. It’s like… malaria or something. Maybe it won’t be cured, but you’ve got to take the medication you’re prescribed, and you stay out of situations that are going to trigger it.”
– Adam Ant

Where’s the Respect?

“We don’t need to share the same opinions as others, but we need to be respectful.”
– Taylor Swift

Respect, Respect, whereforart thou, Respect?

Cue the moans and groans.

We sit around typing away on our phones and computers about how the youth of today have totally lost respect for their elders. We rant and we rave about how this country has “gone to hell” and how this new generation has no morals or ethics. We wonder what has happened and we cast blame, blame, blame. [Thanks, Obama.]

But ladies and gentlemen, guess what? I’ve single-handedly figured it all out! I know whose fault it is and I’m here to tell you the answer once and for all. You ready?


It’s your own damn fault.

And here’s why.


Photo from Jefferson Post 5/30/2016

An article was just posted in our tiny little town’s newspaper about a local teacher, Keana Triplett, who was named North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year. As part of this major honor, she was given the opportunity to meet President Obama. (Read the article here.) The article had only been posted online for about 10 whole minutes when the negativity started rolling in.

“I feel sorry for her.”

“He’s not my president!”

“I would have passed on meeting Obama – I’ve got better things to do with my time.”

“The president and his family sure haven’t been respectful to America, why should we respect them?” [Note: His family?? What did those little girls ever to do to you??]

What in the hell?

Okay, tell me what on Earth these comments have to do with Keana Triplett, North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year? You know that lack of respect you’re bemoaning in your children? Well, right here is where they learn it, folks.

Right here.

Where is the congratulations for this insanely huge distinction given to a woman who is teaching your children? Where is the admiration for the honor of a small-town hero being afforded the opportunity to meet the leader of our country?

YOU are teaching your children not to have respect.

Yes, YOU.

The next time you go blaming Obama or “the gays” or whoever else is on your radar at any given time, take a look at yourself, okay? Look at how you’re acting. Look at what you’re saying. Look at how you’ve totally twisted a news story about our small-town hero into your own personal political agenda. Look at how full of yourself you are and how much more important you think your opinion is over the intention of this story.

And hey, while you’re at it – take a good long look at how you’re treating the man who runs this country.

You want to know where our country’s morals and ethics and RESPECT have gone? Take a look in the mirror, people. Take a look in the mirror.

You’ll find your culprit staring you right in the face.




Agreeable Disagreers

“If you have learned how to disagree without being disagreeable, then you have discovered the secret of getting along – whether it be business, family relations, or life itself.”
– Bernard Meltzer

Last week, I was a mess.

In case you missed it, I wrote a blog late one night called In Hate I Trust. That night was a rough one. After participating in a peaceful protest against a waste of taxpayer funds in our small mountain community in North Carolina (read the local newspaper article here), I became the target of much vitriol from many locals who disagreed with my stance. Because our protest was tied into religion, the “you’re going to hell” folks came out in full force. One of whom even targeted my child with her “God-fearing” bitterness and hatred.


Photo by Cassondra Greer

The night I wrote that blog, I thought I was done. I thought I would never speak out about anything ever again because I would only be misunderstood and condemned, and my children would be the ones to suffer the consequences.

But. As it always does, morning came.

And in the days to come, for a multitude of reasons, my heart was healed.

First, after a teary apology to my daughter the next morning for what had happened, I was greeted with a blank stare and a simple, “Why are you sorry? You didn’t do it.” Oh, the simplicity of a child. She saw right through my misplaced self-contempt and redirected it to where it belonged – onto the person who had wronged her. “What did I ever do to her?” was her question. And what a good one it was.

With my daughter’s blessing, and a newfound determination, I got back up on that horse and continued fighting.

And thus, Agreeable Disagreers was born. Let me explain.

igwt going up

Letters going up – April 19, 2016

A few days before the peaceful photography protest mentioned above, a conversation was started on my Facebook account over the $2500 in taxpayer funds used to place “In God We Trust” in big golden letters on our local courthouse. When I posted a picture of the letters going up and expressed my controversial disagreement with such, a multitude of viewpoints started rolling in. One of which came from Teresa Kimberlin Martin, a faith-filled Christian who grew up in Ashe County with my husband. Teresa’s comment was, “Private contributions paid for this. No public funds were used. Why is it an issue?.”

And there was the crux of the problem.

Private contributions did not, in fact, pay for these letters. Without a vote or say from the county’s citizens (many of whom are not of the Christian faith, as shocking as that may be), the five county commissioners decided to allow taxpayer funds to cover this expense. (Read this story in more full detail here.) Once the Facebook conversation led to this fact, after snippy comments back and forth, suddenly Teresa had a thought:

Ok. So I have an idea. Melissa, you and I differ on most things political. Well, all things political and religious. Since…the county has decided to pay for the letters, why don’t we have a fundraiser and split the funds to homeless shelters, food banks and any other program that needs funding?…We may not share the same views on all things, but we DO share the same views on helping others. Your thoughts?? And I am serious about this. Why not use our differences to solve some really serious issues??”

And with that, an idea was born.

What could have continued like any other Facebook argument between people who don’t see eye-to-eye, suddenly, with one change of attitude and heart, blossomed into a compromise. And not only a compromise, but a mission.

No, I do not think “In God We Trust” needs to be on a courthouse building that serves a Christian and non-Christian public. Yes, Teresa, thinks those letters do belong on that building. We disagree, that much is obvious. But what we both do agree on is this: in a poor county like ours, a county that has captured both of our hearts for different reasons (hers because it was where she came from, mine because it’s where I finally found a place to call home), $2500 could have very well been spent in a more logical manner.

After a few conversations back and forth between the two of us, we decided to put this idea in motion. I suggested the name Agreeable Disagreers. Teresa contacted the local bank to get our account set up. I went by and signed for it, ordered checks, etc.

And a fundraiser was born.

AD logoAt first, I was skeptical. I knew that others would see this as an “anti-religion” fundraiser.  In fact, I’ve heard those very words. But that’s not what we are at all. Actually, we’re quite the opposite. We’re pro-religion: all of them, including the lack thereof. Our foundation is based on inclusiveness. Our co-founder is a faith-filled Christian in every sense of the word. We are anything but anti-religion. Our goal is to help others, without any prerequisite of a particular political or religious affiliation. In other words, we don’t care. We welcome all, and we want to help all.

Because of our controversial start, and this misconception associated with our mission, I wondered if we’d receive any donations at all. Our goal was originally just to raise the $2500 in funds and distribute them back into our community. We didn’t know how long that would take (still don’t) and hadn’t give much thought to what would come after that.

My, how much can change in just a few weeks.

AD shirtsAs of today, May 6, 2016, Agreeable Disagreers has taken in $1,520.  We are only $980 short of our original goal. One member, Kizil McCay, volunteered her services to create our fabulous logo. Another member, Loni Miller, offered her screen-printing services and set us up a website, offering t-shirts and bumper stickers supporting the cause (all profits going directly into the fundraiser – click on the photo to the left be taken directly to her site). One member donated a whopping $300, and another offered a donation match of $500, which was met within three days! People are hearing us. They know what we stand for, and they believe in us.

Six donations have been distributed from the fund so far. Two to local charities (the homeless coalition and the food bank), one to a local fundraiser celebrating diversity among our county’s middleschoolers (click here to read about that and support them if you can!), and three to local individuals suggested to us who had fallen on temporary hard times and needed a helping hand.

We have started something beautiful, and we are not ready to quit anytime soon.

We have developed a board of four members who meet periodically to discuss distributions and future plans. Some of these future plans include volunteer work. (AD member Cassondra Greer has submitted an application for an Adopt-a-Highway in our name and the local food bank has provided us with a list of times and locations for opportunities for group volunteer efforts). We are all agreed that this fundraiser will not stop once that $2500 has been met. We are going to keep going.  We are going to keep funds and helping hands available to spread into our community when needs arise.

If you’d like to learn more about Agreeable Disagreers, visit our Facebook page by clicking here. Donation information is found there if you’d like to donate, and volunteer opportunities will be posted as they become available. Also, most importantly, if you know someone in our local area who needs our help, whether it be monetarily or through volunteer services, please let us know!  Just post in the group that you’d like to be contacted by a member and we’ll gladly get in touch with you asap.

I am proud of what we’re doing here. I’m proud of the helping hands that have stepped up, and the hearts that see beyond the differences that could divide us. It’s such a tough time in our country right now. Differences are glaring more than ever. We are all screaming to be heard. I’m not preaching here, I’m guilty of it too. It’s the climate that this country is in right now, and it’s sad. It’s truly sad.

But maybe there’s a little hope.  Right here, in little bitty Ashe County, North Carolina – there are a group of disagreers who are putting their differences to work.

It’s amazing what happens when we take the time to actually hear one another.



“There are those in need who really don’t care which side of the aisle you sit on,
they would just like a seat at the table.”
– Agreeable Disagreers co-founder, Teresa Kimberlin Martin



In Hate I Trust


On April 24, I participated in a peaceful, silent protest in Ashe County, North Carolina.

This is me:


Note that you don’t see my face in this picture.

I’ll come back to that. First, let me pause here and tell you about my life for the past few days.

Right now, it’s 1:30 a.m. My husband is trying to sleep beside me and I’m still lying awake after having cried my eyes out for the past few hours. Here’s why.

Hours ago, following two days full of verbal attacks and name-calling, I received a public notification on my facebook page that contained a hurtful, harmful comment about my child.

My child.

When I joined in this silent protest, I joined for two reasons. The first was that a staggering amount of money was used in taxpayer funds to place “In God We Trust” on a courthouse in one of, if not the, poorest counties in North Carolina. Regardless of my religious affiliation, I could not sit idly by and watch as funds went into a boastful display of Christianity on a public building while my neighbors in this county are going without food and a place to sleep. I wanted to do something about it. After a conversation with a Christian who didn’t mind the letters being on the courthouse, we realized that were more alike than we thought. While one of us was fine with it and the other was not, we could agree on the fact that the funds could have and should have been spent in more needed areas. Together, we developed a fundraiser called Agreeable Disagreers. Our goal was to collect the amount of money back that was used on this sign and put it back into the community where we felt it was needed most.

My second reason for joining the protest was that I believe in humanity. In diversity. In inclusion. Just the same as the speech I gave against HB2 last week in this small conservative community, I felt it was important to speak up for the minority. For the people who did not believe in the Christian God. Was I one of them? No. Just like I wasn’t a member of the LGBT community when I gave the speech, I was also not a “non-Christian.” I was just speaking on their behalf.

Now I wonder what I’ve done.

My life, and the life of the photographer who envisioned this protest, have been nothing but a living hell for the past few days. We have been called every name you can think of. We have been threatened. We have been told to get out of town. We have been called attention-seekers and cowards in the same breath.

All in the name of God.

But we kept going. We kept moving because we felt it was worth it. We felt the stares in public (real or imagined? we didn’t know) and feared the backlash. We were told by “well-meaning” friends (ha!) to worry about things such as our jobs and our standings with our hobbies and interests in the area. We were told both blatantly and subtly to shut up.

But we didn’t.

I was attacked by a “Christian” who was the recipient of my help a few Christmases ago. He and his girlfriend needed help providing presents for their children at Christmas because of their financial situation. Without knowing this man at all, I rallied the troops and my husband and I showed up at their home a few days before Christmas with a truck and carload full of presents for their four children. I’m not telling you this story to tell you what I did. I’m telling you this to tell you what he did. In the name of his God, he accused me of being someone who would go to hell because of participating in this protest. Me. The person who provided a Christmas for his family.

And he did this all in the name of God.

And then, to add to everything, tonight happened.

Tonight, someone brought my child into it. They told me that my child and I were going to hell. Yes, they told a mother than her child was going to hell. Along with also posting private information about her and her previous school.

And then you know what else? In my fury and rage while conveying the events to members of my family, they sided with this person. They said that I shouldn’t be doing all of this. That I started it.

I am beat up. I am tired. I am defeated.

Is it temporary? I don’t know.

I started this peaceful protest as a person who believed in love. Who believed that love would win in the end. A person who believed in tolerance. In compassion. I was a Christian who believed that everyone had the right and privilege to live in this beautiful America and be whomever they wanted to be.

This was me. Three days ago. A Christian who believed in kindness.


Not anymore.

I respectfully apologize for being in that picture holding that sign. I no longer believe in kindness. I no longer believe in anything.

And I will never call myself a Christian again. I wouldn’t stoop that low.

My face was hidden in that picture because I live in an area where I would be blasted and condemned for taking a stand like this. This photo and the others were symbolic of what it’s like to have to hide your voice in a land of bullies. But it doesn’t matter anymore. I’m turning around.

My name is Melissa. That was me in that picture.

But it’s not anymore.




An Apology Letter to the LGBT Community


Dear LGBT Community:

My name is Melissa Edmondson.

Last week, I was invited to speak at a GOP meeting in my small area to give an opposing opinion on North Carolina’s controversial HB2 law. Why me? Good question. I have no idea.


Photo by Jesse Campbell of The Jefferson Post

I am a progressive independent who tends to lean pretty far to the left – the last person you’d expect to be a keynote speaker at a GOP meeting. But there I was, nonetheless. The Republican party chairman, in what I think was a brilliant, heartfelt move, decided that we are a better community when we hear what one another has to say. And he chose me to deliver that message.

Does he regret his decision? I wonder.

I’ve gotten many responses since the meeting, both good and bad.  (If you’d like to read the news articles about how it went, you can click here and here.  And then a later report about the republican party itself and their standing after the meeting: here.)

The “bad” responses I’ve received generally involve the possibility that I might lose my job or lose business for my employer. He and I have both received those comments from people in our community. Yes, I know this sound ludicrous to some of you who may be reading this while in other areas. But trust me, this is Ashe County, North Carolina, and this is a very real thing here. If you do not fall in the majority with your beliefs, you are practically nonexistent (or some will try to see to it that you are). So far, however, I’m still at my job. Even a heathen like me can still whip up a few real estate closings here and there.

But, honestly, I want to tell you about the other responses. It’s the “good” ones that have bothered me most.

I keep getting told what a “hero” I am. How “brave” I am. How much courage it took to get up in front of all of those people to speak like I did. And every time I hear those words, I feel a sadness that I have had trouble explaining.

At first, I told myself I was just being silly. Maybe I’m just one of those people who gets embarrassed by compliments. Maybe I need to learn to accept them more graciously and have a little more faith in myself. Maybe it was just a self-esteem thing – maybe I needed to be proud of myself.

But no. That’s not it. Not at all.

The more I’ve thought about it, the more I realize what’s wrong. I am accepting misplaced credit.

I am not the brave one. You are.

I am a writer; a talker. Speaking my mind is something that comes naturally to me. Sure, it’s a bit easier to speak to people who share my beliefs, but the fact that the room was full of people who didn’t share those beliefs didn’t bother me. When you truly believe that what you are saying is the truth, you don’t care who you are speaking to. You are speaking because you know it needs to be heard. Yes, public speaking is hard. Terrifying even. And if you want to pat me on the back for speaking in front of people, okay. I’ll take that. Because I was scared out of my mind. (I just recently read a James Patterson book entitled “I Funny” which was aimed at middle-schoolers. One of the chapters was entitled “Public Speaking: Or As It Should Be Called – Public Execution).  Yes, I was terrified. But not because of what I was saying. I had absolute faith in what I was saying. It was just your normal run-of-the-mill fear of public speaking. Most of us have it.

So, yes. Yay me. I overcame a public speaking fear. Big whoop.

But bravery? HA! No, that is not bravery. What you do everyday is bravery.  Especially if you live here.

Although the world is slowly adapting to one that accepts you as you are, change is very slowly arriving to our little area. In some places, change hasn’t arrived at all. You have to live your life as a lie. You have to pretend to be someone you’re not.

Me? Brave? Any time a major event happens between my husband and me, I share it all over Facebook. Pictures of us holding hands. Snuggling. I get to hear the ooohs and ahhhs and bask in the lovey-doveyness of it all. What do you get to do? Hide. You can’t post pictures like that or even hold your loved one’s hand in public. You have to hide behind the veneer of what is ‘allowed.’

You are the brave ones.

Me? Brave? I can walk into any restaurant or store and know that I can shop and dine and not have to wonder if I’m going to be asked (or told) to leave. I don’t have to wonder if this is a safe spot for me to be in and wonder if the person behind the counter is going to treat me the same as others. There is no reason they shouldn’t. I’m just standing here being heterosexual, why should they treat me any different? You, on the other hand?  I can’t imagine what must go through your mind every time you walk into an establishment in this narrow-minded area that time has forgotten to visit.

You are the brave ones.

Me? Brave? I can go to the bathroom, for God’s sake. If I need to pee in public, I go to the friggin bathroom. There’s no question. There’s no hesitation. There’s no looking behind me to see if I’m going to be arrested. There’s no feeling I’m doing anything “wrong.” I go pee and I leave. I don’t give it a second thought. Some of you? I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around how hard this must be for you.

You are the brave ones.

Please accept my apology. Please accept my apology for taking the compliments and the praise that should be directed at you. You are the brave ones. You are the heroes. You are the courageous.

Yes, I spoke on your behalf. But I am not you. I don’t understand, and can’t begin to fully understand no matter how hard I try. I am sorry that it was me up there speaking on your behalf, and not you able to tell your story. I was the one that was welcomed into the “lion’s den” as one reporter referred to it.

Would you have been?

Somehow I don’t think so.

Did those people hear me? Was it worth it?  I don’t want to be pessimistic here, but honestly I don’t think so. But to tell you the truth, I don’t really care.

They weren’t the ones I was targeting. You were.

Please know that you have friends. Please know that there are more out here than just me. Please know that you are not alone. Not by a long shot. You are fighting one of the bravest fights there is to fight – the fight for equality. You are the heroes, friends. Not me.

They may not have heard me, but I hope you did.



Stage Managing: Tales (and thank yous) From The Dark Side

“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”
– Thornton Wilder

I am an actor. I’ve been acting for as far back as my memory goes.  From my 3-year-old debut in my grandmother’s church play to my professional acting gig as Glinda at the Land of Oz, and all of the many, many community theatre performances in between, acting has always been a huge part of my life.

And now finally, after 30+ years in the theatre, I’ve done something that I have never done before.

I’ve crossed over to the ‘dark side.’

YonkersI am ashamed to say that it has taken me this long to finally see what it feels like to not be in the spotlight. I was recently offered the opportunity to be the stage manager for Ashe County Little Theatre’s upcoming performance of Lost in Yonkers by Neil Simon. Since February, we have been working on a show that will open this weekend, April 8-10, at the Ashe Civic Center and run for only three performances.

Now, this idea of working for months on something that people will only see for a few hours is not new to me. As an actor, I’ve done this many times. But I always knew that it would culminate with all that ‘thunderous’ applause as I humbly bowed to my adoring audience. You know – the icing on that well-earned cake. A successful show, a stroked ego, and then off to work on the next one. Everybody wins!

But the thing I am certain that I didn’t notice – didn’t appreciate – was the group of people sitting in the dark while I basked in all this post-show limelight.

Until now. Until I became one of them.

My husband is the sound tech for our theatre. One time, during the run of one of our shows, he said something to me that really resonated.

“If I’m doing my job right, you won’t notice me.”

At the time that he said that – back in my oblivious actor days – I thought that sounded ridiculous. Why would you pour your heart and soul (not to mention time and energy) into something that you hope no one even notices? Why on Earth would you want to be the background music (literally)? What is the point?

Ah. Now I get it.

There is so much more to what happens in a theatrical show than what you, as the audience, sees. I have developed a level of appreciation for what happens back here on the dark side, an appreciation I would have never known had it not been for this experience. And what a shame it took me so many years to be able to say this.


Cast and crew (but missing a few) of Lost in Yonkers, ACLT Spring 2016

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the actors don’t work hard, too. They do. Really. But as the stage manager for this show, I have been able to see the show in a new perspective. Rather than focusing on my particular role in the process, as I did as an actor, I have the ability to now see the show as a whole. I see all the working parts that make it come alive and realize how lost we would be without even the tiniest of them.

In other words, I now have the ability to see the things that my loving husband pointed out that “shouldn’t” be seen. And once your eyes are open to something like that, you can’t go back.

So with that said, I hope you’ll join me as I take the time to give a little appreciation to all of the pieces of this little puzzle we’ve created together.

First, there’s the director, Jim. Jim has taught me so much through this process. My job was supposed to be to help him, but he has definitely been the one to help me instead. Taking a chance on a self-absorbed actor to be your right-hand man was a pretty big risk if you ask me. But I’m glad he took it. Thank you for believing in me and casting such a fantastic show. The lessons I’ve learned are invaluable.

Then, there’s the producer and costumer, Rebecca. Rebecca has a constant helpful nature. She is always working behind the scenes during these shows to be sure each character looks their best. As the person who was always putting the costumes on, I never got the chance to actually see what they looked like. As I step outside the confining the walls of the stage itself, I can now see the beautiful portrait these costumes paint. There is such a precision with choosing what we wear, and I really had no idea. One of our stage moms noted, “I love watching the Bella character grow up through her costumes.” And once she said that, I see how right she is. Each character’s costume in each scene tells a subtle story, and I’m glad my eyes were opened to that fact during this run.  Rebecca also made sure to take care of us during show week as well. One night this week she brought in pizza for everyone, exclaiming that her mother always taught her that “the way you show people that you love them, is to feed them.” So, thank you, Rebecca. We love you too!

And our “booth crew:” the sound technician, Richard (my hubby – you may have heard me mention him before), the spotlight operator Kelly (my daughter…and I may have mentioned her a time or two before as well), and the lighting technician, Jeremy. These three are the lucky peeps who get to listen to me on headset trying to tell them what to do and when to do it. All three of them have very similar personalities – calm, organized, chill. And thank God for it! My first night on headset, I was a nervous wreck…and yet they calmly did what they were supposed to do (whether I remembered to tell them to or not) and told me I did a great job (even when I was certain I didn’t). The people like these three are the true heroes of a show, believe me.

And then there’s Ken and Judi. Ken designed and built our set (together with many helpers: Doug, John, Jim, Bobbi Jo, and Richard to name a few…I know there were more) and Judi spent lots of time painting and “sprucing it up” (the set is a Grandma’s apartment so Judi added all the small, Grandma-ish touches that, like Richard pointed out, you’d hardly notice…unless they weren’t there.)  Once that was done, Ken and Judi jumped in to help backstage throughout the run of the show, Judi helping with the many costume changes and Ken helping me with the set changes between scenes. More unsung heroes right there, that’s for sure.

And then there’s the makeup ladies, Charna and Cynthia. Spending all that time working on making others look good, with no applause for their efforts. Consider this your applause, ladies. You are appreciated, needed, and loved. I hope you know that. (They even had the added bonus of using makeup to cover some tattoos in this show…and they’ve done it fabulously!)

And a special thank you to Linda who designed our show poster and programs. Another small, yet huge, addition to the puzzle. What would a show be without advertisement and information? Thank you, Linda.

And then there are the parents and spouses of all of the people involved (too many to list here) who have sacrificed their time with their loved ones while we spent so many hours bring this show to life. We thank you, from the bottom of our hearts for your patience and your support. Your sacrifice is just as much a part of this show as any of the other working parts, and we appreciate you.

And last, but most certainly not least, our actors. Yes, you get to applaud them as the show ends, but those are just the characters. I want to tell you a little about how special each of the real people are behind those “masks.”

First, there’s Mason and Olivia. These two kids have family in the show and have willingly volunteered to serve as extras for a few of our scenes. And when they’re not onstage, they are helping backstage – Mason helping his brother Levi with costume changes and Olivia bringing her dad a glass of water between scenes. The work you two do is noticed and the enthusiasm you show while doing it is contagious. Thank you kiddos.🙂

Then there’s Bobbi Jo. Bobbi Jo is a warrior, let me tell you. She’s my friend so I know the sacrifice she’s had to make to be in this show. Between a working hubby and having to bring her little ones to the theatre with her, having more than her share of car trouble, and even losing her father during the months of rehearsal, she has not missed a beat. (In fact, just before one rehearsal when she realized her car wouldn’t start, I found all 100-pounds of her walking on the road headed to rehearsal when I came to pick her up. That little thing was so dedicated to the show, she was going to walk the 3+ miles to rehearsal and hope she got there before her appearance in the second act. Now, that is some serious dedication, folks.)  So, Bobbi Jo, thank you for the love you bring to this show. It is noticed and appreciated.

stage managingNext, there’s Baron. Baron and I have worked in a few shows together now. He brings something to every show that would be missing if he wasn’t there – and that something is fun. Baron is always there with a snicker or an inside joke and makes sure we keep laughing through all the work we are putting in to this thing. People like this are a joy to be around, and I hope he knows that. Thank you, Baron. (“Gooooper, honey….”) [See? Inside jokes…]

And then there’s Ike. This is only my second time working with Ike and he brings an experience to the stage that can’t be overlooked. This dude can act. And the first role he was cast in with our theatre? A small role as an aide in an insane asylum. With the vast experience and knowledge that he has of the theatre, he was still happily willing to play a small role in order to be a part of the show. He is the living example of the saying, “There are no small roles, only small actors.” This, my friends, is no small actor. And if you get to see this show, I promise you’re in for a treat when you see this guy walk out onto the stage. (And I’m not just saying that because he strips down to his boxers in one scene…)😉

Then, there’s Sharon. Sharon plays the Grandma in this show and, like her character, she brings a wisdom to the show, both on and off stage. A veteran of the theatre, Sharon knows her stuff and has had excellent ideas throughout the show’s run. Thank you for putting up with this family of misfits, Sharon!

Then, there’s Abby. Abby is new to our theatre and what a welcome gift she is. Abby has single-handedly shown me what an actress should be. She is full of energy and life and will bring you a performance that will put chills down your spine. And then, once she steps off the stage, she is thanking everyone. She has more than once thanked me for the work I’ve put in as the stage manager. I know I will be a better actress after this experience, and Abby is part of the reason for that. Thank you, Abby, for teaching by example.


Photo by Cassondra Greer

Ah, and then there are our boys, Rowan and Levi. These two kids are the focal point of the show, on and off the stage. These kids are phenomenal! Their talent goes well beyond what you’d expect from kids this young. And what professionals! Learning their lines from the get-go and carrying many scenes alone – I’m not sure they realize what a huge undertaking that is for young people. There are so many kids who’d be mortified to get up in front of people, and these two steal the show in scenes where there isn’t an adult in sight. They are going to go far…long after the memories of this show have faded. I just know it. You two are fabulous and I am honored to be sharing in this experience with you. I’m so proud of you!


Whew…tired of my list yet?  Are you still with me?

And see, here’s the thing – even after listing all of these names and roles they played in bringing a performance to you, I’d be willing to bet that I’ve left someone out. (And if that’s you – I’m so sorry! You are appreciated too. I promise.) The list goes on and on. The amount of effort that goes into something like this is astronomical.

So, in closing, here is what I’d like to ask of you. The next time you go to see a show, I want you to do me a favor. I want you to notice things.  Yes, yes, I know my husband said you’re not supposed to notice people like him…but don’t listen to him. Listen to me. ;) Seriously…read your program. Read the bios of the actors you are about to see. Read about the director.  And then, don’t forget to flip to the last page of that program, and run your finger down the list of all of those behind-the-scenes names, won’t you? Behind each of those names is a heart for the theatre. A heart that has sacrificed weeks of their time to bring you two hours of entertainment. Give them all a little silent thank you in your mind, won’t you?

I know I will.

Oh, and one more name I forgot to add to the list: you.

That’s right – you’re important too. The theatre is a family. And as you walk into it, you become a part of the family as well. That’s when you step into your role as the audience. Without you, why would any of us be here? You add your touch to the show as well – your laughter, your sniffles, your smiles, and your presence.

You place that final piece into the puzzle that makes it complete.

And we thank you.

Yonkers cast

“Theatre was my first love. I can’t take the theatre out of me. And I wouldn’t want to. To me, it’s home.”
– Jim Parsons

From Lora’s Mouth to Your Heart: Words To Live By

“Correction does much, but encouragement does more.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

My friend Lora posted something on Facebook the other day, and I can’t shake it from my mind. It is powerful beyond what she even realizes, and I thought it deserved a broader audience. The next time you start to criticize something or someone, be it on social media or out in the “real” world, I want these words to be in your mind.

Maybe you’ll think twice.

Thank you, Lora, for passing along this wisdom and direction. It is appreciated.

Without further adieu…


To the pregnant women on social media posting constant updates and belly pictures, I love seeing how excited you are to become a mommy. ‪#‎babybump‬

To the women posting “selfies”, thanks for letting young girls know that it’s okay to love yourself and to feel beautiful! ‪#‎youareenough‬

To the mom posting a million pictures of her kids, it makes my heart so happy to see parents so proud of and loving their babies! ‪#‎momlife‬

To the married couple constantly posting “sappy love posts” thank you for being a reminder to the next generation that all hope isn’t lost and happy marriages most definitely DO exist. ‪#‎livelaughlove‬

To the gym enthusiasts and healthy eaters posting constant gym selfies and progress pics, thanks, you show change is possible with motivation and determination. ‪#‎yourock‬

To the work from home moms who are constantly posting about their businesses, thank you, you are showing your kids you can do anything you put your heart and soul into. ‪#‎wahm‬

To the people who are constantly posting inspirational quotes, thank you, someone out there needed to hear those words you shared 🙌 ‪#‎encouragementisneverwrong‬

To the person posting pictures of your meals. You’re making me hungry. ‪#‎foodporn‬

Let’s stop being annoyed by everything and start lifting each other up! 😘 ‪

#‎behappy‬ ‪
#‎smile‬ ‪


Now, let’s go out there and be good to each other, shall we?