If you know me, you know I am the first to jump in with criticism or a snarky comment about my chins or my linebacker physique or whatever else I can say to win the title of BEST AT SELF DEPRECATION. Like my homegirl Rebel Wilson says in Pitch Perfect (quickly becoming one of my favorite movies of all time), "I do it so twig bitches like you don't say it behind my back." Not saying that YOU GUYS are twig bitches, of course. It's a shield that a lot of people with self esteem issues lug around. "If I point out all of my flaws first, then I beat you to the punch!". That sort of thing.
I'm working on it. Baby steps, ya know? The woman who photographed our Listen To Your Mother Journey (Jennifer Liv, who kicks AAASSSSS) actually got kind of fed up with all of us Fat Amy's clucking away about extra chins and bad hair and goofy posture. She sent out an email, to all of us, asking us to knock it off. She said she saw NONE of these supposed "flaws" we were all harping about, and in so many words she reminded us that us complaining about this crap was kind of an insult.
An insult to her, of course, because she was the one taking these photos. Who are we to look at these beautiful pictures and instead of noticing how exquisitely she captured our essences, the gleams in our eyes and the wisdom behind our smiles, we only see our perceived imperfections? She was right. Not only is it belittling to someone like Jennifer, who exposes both inner and outer beauty for a living, but it's also a slap in the face to everyone who loves us and is proud of us.
So when I gingerly clicked "play" on my video, I forced myself to watch it wearing my Stuart Smalley goggles: "I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. AND DOGGONE IT PEOPLE LIKE ME!". Instead of pointing out to myself the number of times I swayed back and forth I commended myself for not curling up into the fetal position and reading my essay from the floor. Instead of saying, "Could your nerves have been any more obvious?" I said to myself, "Dang girl, it's cool to watch yourself becoming comfortable up there!". Instead of thinking, "OMG did I put my makeup on in a dark closet?" I decided to love the moment in the video where I look up into the crowd and see my kids.
Folks, I am the person who feels self conscious walking through a parking lot. For me to get up on a stage, and talk in front of 500+ people, and allow myself to be recorded while doing it was HUGE. Being in this production was remarkable for so many reasons: the friends I've made, the people who talked to me after the show, learning so much about books and covers and judging..but maybe the coolest lesson of all was learning to be proud of myself.
One of my dear friends watched the video and then commented: "You look just like Karen Walker!". I stifled to urge to reply, "Um yeah, don't you mean I look like I ATE Karen Walker?" and instead I basked in the glow of that compliment. Yes, in my world that is one of the highest accolades you can give me, people. I love me some Megan Mullalley.
And where, pray tell, does Free Bird fit in here? I'll tell ya. "The Broken Bowl" is one of my favorite pieces I've written..but not my absolute favorite*. To be honest, on my list of favorites it's not even in the Top Five. I remember the morning I wrote it, I was almost late to work because it was one of those things that just demanded to be written. And I loved it. But...it has truly become my Free Bird and I bet Lynyrd Skynyrd felt kind of the same way about their beloved song. When people would come to their concerts and scream out "FREE BIRD! SING FREE BIRD" I know how they must have felt..kind of like, "Damn..yeah, that's a sweet tune but listen to some of this other stuff we sing, man. It's awesome!". Not saying that I imagine throngs of people standing in my front yard, lighters glowing and chanting "broken bowl...broken bowl" but you get the point.
Here's the video. If you find yourself with some free time, with a box of Kleenex and mayhap a Depends on hand, please peruse the entire collection of Listen To Your Mother videos. Each one is moving and special and gorgeous. Each and every one. I couldn't be more proud of myself, yes. But I'm also just as proud of all these brave and beautiful people who decided to step up on stage and tell their story.
* my most favorite post, ever? I think it's this one.