Where I need to be

where I need to beWhere have I been?

Minutes before the start of my son’s soccer game, I cried. I gasped for breath when I read the news that Michael Patrick Lynch had died. Michael was the Irondequoit teen who was struck by a car while crossing the street on his way to school. 

I cried because for a moment, I felt the unfathomable loss of a mother who suddenly lost her 14-year-old son. 

I cried because I knew Bernadette DiMaggio Lynch, Michael’s mom. I got to know her a little when we were cast mates in Listen to Your Mother Rochester 2015

I cried because I knew Michael was not the first son she had lost. Bernadette and I had experienced infertility and knew what it was like to yearn for a pregnancy. Although our stories were different, we had to come to terms with anger, loss, and sadness. Listen to Your Mother (LTYM) was one way for us to share our stories with other women and show them they are not alone. Bernadette reflected on the loss of her baby Matthew and revealed the bright gifts rising from bleakness when she told her story “Lights in Darkness” upon the stage at the Memorial Art Gallery May 8, 2015. That day, her son Michael turned 13 and he seemed proud to share it with his mother. He was exactly where he needed to be.

“Sometimes life doesn’t work out exactly as you planned.” Bernadette’s words continue to echo, like the pounding of April rain on a Saturday afternoon. I am exactly where I need to be.

These past two weeks must have been hell for Bernadette. I won’t pretend to know. I was wrapped up in my job, my family, my life. I had lost touch with family, friends and especially, former LTYM cast mates, whom I shared so much with in the buildup prior to our LTYM Rochester debut. 

One thing I know for sure, I am exactly where I need to be. Here are some of my favorite moments:

  • I am at my son’s soccer game.
  • I am eating breakfast with my son before he sprints to catch the high school bus.
  • I am playing with my dogs.
  • I am holding hands with my husband.
  • I am riding my bike along the Erie canal.
  • I am celebrating Easter with my family.
  • I am living.

In a world marked with unrelenting bleakness, I, too, am finding lights in darkness. 

Peace, love and strength to all who have loved and lost, struggled to overcome life’s challenges, and continue to battle their demons.

You are exactly where you need to be.

What do you think?

This is my best work today. Thanks for reading. If you like this post, please feel free to share it with your friends or send me a comment. You can also post a comment on my blog or Facebook, or tweet me @kristinebruneau.

15 lessons for 15 years

The following letter—15 lessons for 15 years—I wrote to my son on his 15th birthday, January 9, 2017. I left the letter on my son’s pillow. After he read it, he came to my room,  gave me a hug and said: “Thank you.”

I felt like a large stone was caught in my throat and I struggled to blink away heavy, bittersweet tears to no avail. I know my son needs me less now than he did when he was young, but I realized he still needs me in different ways. I hope I will always be there for him when he reaches out. 

Dear James, 

My baby has grown into a handsome young man. At 15 years old, you are observant, kind, curious, passionate, discerning, loud, stubborn, and loving. As you make your way through the thick forest of life, you will stumble and fall, leap and soar. You will ignore parental advice, and take dodgy advice from a stranger. You will make good and bad choices. You will learn from the mistakes you make as well as the glory you will achieve. You are courageous, good and young. Believe in yourself. I do.

15 lessons for 15 years

  1. Read. I know you don’t like to read books for pleasure, but keep trying to find an interesting author, subject, or genre. You will learn new things, develop a healthy skepticism, expand your vocabulary, broaden your imagination, and begin to make sense of the adult world you will enter. 
  2. When you have a problem, write through it. Writing helps you sort things out and see things you can’t see in your head. It also helps you heal. 
  3. Tell the truth. You can never go wrong by being honest, but if you’re not sure, be diplomatic: an ugly baby is probably a very happy baby.
  4. Listen. When someone is talking to you, listen wholeheartedly. You can learn a lot about others by not talking too much.
  5. Respect a person’s point of view, but make your own decisions. 
  6. Laugh. It not only makes you feel good, it’s contagious. 
  7. Everyone loves a story. Whether you write or not, describe people, places and things with descriptive words that paint a picture, shape a character, create tension, solve a problem, and tell a story. 
  8. There is no silver bullet. There is only hard work — mentally and physically. Set your goals and reach for them.
  9. Stay awake. Be present and mindful of the task at hand.
  10. Take responsibility for your own actions. Don’t blame the tools or another person. Remember, when you point a finger at someone or something, there are three fingers pointing at you.
  11. Play. Don’t waste your time thinking about playing. Just go out and do it. 
  12. Practice loving kindness for yourself and others.
  13. Be grateful. Everyday. We only have one life, one body, one world, so be grateful for what you have.
  14. Look people in the eye and give a firm handshake. It makes a good first impression
  15. Call your mom. Need I say more? 

Have you written a letter to your child lately? 

This is my best work today. Thanks for reading. If you like this post, please feel free to share it with your friends or send me a comment. You can also post a comment on my blog or Facebook, or tweet me @kristinebruneau.


6 tips to audition for Listen To Your Mother

LTYM Rochester 2015

AuditionIf you’ve signed up to audition for Listen To Your Mother (and aren’t sure what you got yourself into), I have six tips to boost your confidence for your best Listen To Your Mother audition. As a Listen To Your Mother Rochester alum, I know that even if you’re a little hesitant about signing up and reading your work aloud, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Listen To Your Mother starts with a true story on the theme of motherhood. Add a bit of courage and you’re ready to share your true story with the organizers who are casting for the second annual Listen To Your Mother show in Rochester.

Your first step is to sign up for an audition – at Writers & Books March 6, 10, or 12  – here (follow the prompts to sign up with volunteer spot).

Read on for my 6 tips for getting ready to audition for Listen To Your Mother:

1. Get inspired. 

Check out the stories on YouTube from LTYM Rochester 2015Here you can get an idea for the tone of your piece, or to spark an idea. Think about how you will connect with an audience. Draw on your everyday life for a rich source of stories. Unsure of where to start? Ask questions like: What did you feel when you first learned you were going to be a mom? How did it feel to see your firstborn shaving? What did you learn from your mom about life?

2. Write with authenticity.

Write a rant, reflection, memory or mom wisdom. Your piece can be funny, deeply touching, or both. Make sure that your story is about some aspect of motherhood.

3. Edit yourself, but not too much.

Now, you have this big, beautiful, true story (or perhaps a shitty first draft). The next step is to whip it into shape. Show (don’t tell) how you felt in that raw, vulnerable, imperfect moment that your motherhood story took place. Kill the darlings that don’t ring true to your journey. Read your story aloud and shape it until you love it.

4. Practice, but not too much.

Practice reading your story aloud a few times to give you confidence, familiarity and the right amount of time: five minutes. Give yourself a pep talk. Remember you will be reading your story, and not memorizing it like a speech. 

5. Speak in your own voice.

Don’t try to be anyone other than you. Do try to enunciate and project your voice. Know this: when you step up to audition you are enough, and your voice is enough just the way it is.

6. It’s okay to cry.

While reading my story at the podium, the words made me relive the heartbreak and hope I felt battling infertility. And I cried until I caught my breath and could speak again. Showing raw emotion is what made my story “Tangled In Leather” personal, authentic and touching.

Remember: Write your true story. Practice reading aloud a couple of times. Make sure it’s no longer than five minutes. Be authentic. 

The second annual Listen To Your Mother show in Rochester is May 7th at The Lyric Theatre. Showtime is at 7:30 p.m. Tickets go on sale in March.

What do you think? Share your thoughts: on my blog, Facebook, or @kristinebruneau. And don’t forget to share and spread this story with your friends. Thanks for reading!