On Being Heard

I spend many of my waking hours in silence.

Eight of them, in fact. Every day.

Unless I have some kind of appointment (which is rare) or take a phone call (which is rarer), I do not speak a single word between “Have a great day!” when my kids leave for school and “So, how was your day?” upon their return.

For those who know me well, this fact must be nearly impossible to believe.

When I was a child, my nickname was Motor Mouth. I loved chatting with everyone. Family. Neighbors. Strangers in the grocery store. I probably talked to myself a fair bit, too.

More than anything else, I wanted to be heard. (And to marry Shaun Cassidy. Obviously.)

During my years teaching high school English, I talked all day long. To hundreds of people. Or at them. Students. Colleagues. Friends.

And I was loud.

Rumor has it my voice would boom out of the classroom, down our hall, across an entire two-story building.

Shakespeare warrants volume, after all.

But now, the blank page is my audience. A blinking cursor. The buzz of silence.

Tick tock. Tick. Eight hours.

So. How was your day, kids?

Sure, if you get me in a room full of people with whom I’m already comfortable, I don’t shut up.

Just ask my book club.

When it comes to the masses, however, I prefer invisibility. I take comfort in anonymity, this degree of separation afforded by a strictly digital relationship.

I love to share my words.  These private thoughts. My guts on a page. But please do not call me on the phone and expect me to answer.

I can’t. I won’t.

I mean it.

Which is precisely why I auditioned for the Listen To Your Mother show.

As scared as I was – as awkward as it is for me to speak (voluntarily) the words of my heart in front of others I know barely or not at all – I simply had to.

I used to sing on stage and play the piano. I even took a stab at acting in plays, although I was truly terrible. Still. I loved performing and was rarely nervous in the spotlight.

Deep breaths. Steady hands. Go.

Jitters? Nerves? Tears?


Now, the prospect of being publicly vulnerable makes me tremble. More than a little.

Here, at my computer, I am safe. I type these words. You read them. Perhaps you comment. “I understand completely,” you might say.

But there is distance between us here. This is not ME, looking at YOU and risking failure. Face to face.

Alone in my silent house, I face no fears of unraveling. Or of falling apart. One word at a time. I am at my desk, now, nowhere near the Listen To Your Mother stage. In front of everyone.

So. Will there be jitters at the show? Nerves? Tears?


Still, I am doing it.  At four o’clock on April 27th at The Ebell Theater in Santa Ana.

I will sit beside a dozen wonderful women and wait until it’s my turn to take the microphone and turn myself inside out.

On that day, my words won’t be seen and read.

I will be heard.

Grab the code!

If you are interested in attending the show, you can purchase tickets here and a portion of the proceeds will go to WISEplace, a community of housing and hope for women in crisis.


32 thoughts on “On Being Heard

  1. Wish I could be there to see it! I’m sure there will be a video. Super excited!

  2. This fascinates me about you (not that you were a “motor mouth” as a kid, no surprises there . . . though that you didn’t at least hook up with Shaun Cassidy is a bit of a shock, unless you did — and if so, kudos for not bragging about it). You’re among the very best that I have ever read at getting your emotion across through words. Seriously – I’m including the likes of all of the bloggers we all know & love, along with the Shakespeares and Hemmingways and Austens of the literary world. Your words convey emotion more easily and, seemingly, effortlessly, than is imaginable. It’s why I (and, I suspect, all of your readers) clamor for every word you write.

    I’d love to watch your monologue. Truly.

    Me? I’m almost the exact opposite. Give me an audience & I perform. I love it. I thrive on it. I’d venture to say that I *need* it in my life. Were I a mother? I’d be doing the “stay awake shake,” on a stage, for a crowd of other mothers, in a heartbeat, wondering when I might next go on :)

  3. And you will be great!

    I tend to be quiet. It’s my default. But when I was teaching, I was loud. And while I’m still awkward one on one, I have zero problem with public speaking and never have. I bet you’ll be the same way and be amazing.

  4. Nanny K

    I’m alone for 6 (or so) hours a day. But I talk to myself a fair amount during that time. Perhaps you passed your Motor Mouth torch to me (for which you owe your long suffering nephews an apology). But don’t worry…I won’t let them call you. Because you won’t answer. You can’t. You won’t. You mean it!!! I believe you, Sis! <3

  5. I LOVE that you are facing your fear.

    And just to let you know, your voice is heard loudly & clearly all the way to Minnesota.


  6. Yes, Shakespeare demands volume. HIGH VOLUME! BOOMING VOLUME!

    And so much more here is very much how I am too. I’ve had the math teachers email me to please close my door when I am teaching. I bleed words onto my computer screen.

    I wish I could hear your story out loud. I wish I could just go to your book club with you.

    You will be amazing.

  7. Ann

    This loud talker is so honored by your taking this leap. I only wish I could be there to listen.

  8. Fly me in! I so wish I could be there! Also – SHAUN IS MINE!

  9. Di

    As the teacher who shared a wall with you, I certainly can attest to your volume; however, I have missed your voice every day since you left to pursue your dream. I am so incredibly excited to hear you yet again on April 27th and hopefully many times before that, including tomorrow afternoon!

  10. Cheryl

    Will you shut up already?

    Also, I know for a fact you talk to your dogs.

    Also, we are due for another Skype session.

    Also, I love you!

  11. I wish I could be there to hear you roar.

    I’m envious of your quiet time. My life is the opposite.

    Good luck

  12. Allyson T

    Have put out the APB to my OC mom friends – hoping to bring a whole Julie Fan club!

  13. Your name was “Motor Mouth”? Mine was “Giggles”!!

    Think they’ll still put us together at the show?! :)

    Can’t wait to share the stage with you.

  14. I wish I could be there, I do. I wish I had the ability to travel to all the cities and watch all the shows this year. All those words, all that bravery. It’s amazing. My nickname was Boogie because dancing. It still holds true. (And I talk to myself when I’m home alone. I answer too because there’s no one else there; who else is gonna know the answer?). I am so proud of you for auditioning and I can’t wait to see your video.

  15. Julie: This is so great! You are so brave. Just checked out the Listen to Your Mother Web site. Wow! Like you, I probably wouldn’t (and usually don’t ) answer the phone. And, many times the only coversation I have begins at 7:00 a.m. with my kids and resumes at 3:00 p.m. with my kids. I wish you the best of luck, and since I am in Orange County, I am going to do my best to cheer you on in person! (Don’t worry, I won’t approach you face-to-face and ask for an autograph – that would be way too personal. :) You are going to be great.

  16. Your voice is special–whether speaking in your teacher voice (a wonderful thing!) or writing silent words on the page. So happy for you, Julie!

  17. I will listen to you anywhere. (And promise not to call you on the phone!) Ticket purchased. Can’t wait!

  18. I tend toward quiet. Unless I am comfortable and people know me well. Then I get louder – especially my laugh. I always say that my laugh is just a little too big, no matter what the size of the room.
    I think it is wonderful that you will be heard – and I am sure you will be great!

  19. Oh! I wish I could come and hear your words. Kudos to you for doing this. I’ll be cheering you on from Minnesota!

  20. How I wish we could all travel together to see one another’s shows! I’m proud of you, as so much of what you’ve written here resonates in my heart. Brave, lovely Julie. Even if it’s on YouTube after the fact, I can’t wait to *hear* you!

  21. I am SO proud of you, Julie!
    I wish I could be there to hear you speak. I’ll just have to settle for the YouTube video :)

  22. As a newer friend of yours I am definitely surprised to know all of this about you. Thank you for sharing. And for picking up the phone when I called you. (Suck it, everyone else!) I’m looking forward to watching the show!

  23. I SO wish I could be there to see and HEAR you. I will be eagerly awaiting the videos once they’re up. Good for you for getting out of the comfort zone. You won’t be sorry.

  24. I wish I could be there! I’m so happy for you and so proud of you. I love reading your words and I just know I would love hearing them.

    Oh and Shakespeare does warrant volume.

    All the very, very best to you as you take the stage. Deep breaths and….shine.

  25. Congratuations! I’d love to go to a LTYM show but there aren’t any close enough for me this year.

  26. I am so excited – THRILLED – that you’ll be doing this. I love hearing your words.


  27. We are very similar in our silence and the endless gabbing. I like to talk, but I welcome the silence.

    Speaking in front of a crowd is terrifying for me. But not being heard is almost worse. I can’t wait to see these wonderful LTYM shows on YouTube! So many stories.

  28. Congrats! What great news!

  29. You were definitely heard on the 27th–by the time you got up to read, didn’t you feel as if you were really just in front of a bunch of friends? It seemed that way. Terrific piece of writing and your delivery was spot-on!

  30. I bet you were amazing. And I’m quite impressed with your bravery!

  31. I missed this post by a long shot or I would have cheered you on! I’m sure you knocked em dead. :-)

    I’m comfortable with speaking in public, and would almost rather do that than make small talk. But I also think 8 hrs in a quiet house with a blinking cursor sounds like bliss.

  32. And this is why I felt like I had to do it too. I was insanely nervous and my heart was beating out of my chest but the adult Me would never do something like this. So I had to. I’m sure you were amazing.

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