Listen To Your Mother 2016, do the thing

by Alicia on May 18, 2016

Listen To Your Mother, Metro Detroit 2016 cast- photo by monroefoxphotographyI’ve auditioned for Listen To Your Mother twice. In 2015 I wrote a piece I worked on for daaaayyyys. I edited it, I asked for feedback, I read it on camera to myself to hear what it sounded like. I didn’t get chosen for that show. It sucked. Not the piece, I still think it’s good. It sucked not to be picked. This year auditions came back up again and I got myself on the list quickly…then promptly forgot about it. I wrote my audition piece in the 48 hours before I met The Angelas in a coffee shop in downtown Detroit and mostly winged the whole deal. I’ll let you take an educated guess on which piece and which experience was absolutely more “Alicia”. I’m that girl- the one who plans a lot at first and overthinks and gets all jazzed…and then forgets about it for awhile only to pick it up later in the exact same excitement as I left it.

I tried to act nonchalant about the whole “being chosen” thing, but really all I wanted was to be entirely in to every event, every conversation, every piece of the experience I could possibly get my hands on. So that’s what I did. I lived all of it. I went to Busted Bra Shop on a Tuesday night, I spent a Saturday afternoon getting my perspective rightly adjusted at Cass Community Social Services, I made friends at rehearsals and chatted with them on email and Facebook between events. I embraced the whole thing, I took in the experience and I got excited about each moment I was in.

Fast forward to May 1st, show day and I wasn’t at all nervous. I had the best safety net in the form of strong, creative, humble and inspiring women. Each of them so willing to be human, to be vulnerable and brave and uplifting. I didn’t have to feel scared, we belonged there and we knew it. I felt inspired, shit I felt inspiring myself! There was a moment waiting in the wings of the stage at St. Andrews Hall where I remember thinking to myself, “Whoa, this is really happening. It’s right now.” Cause you know how you get all hyped up about something coming up and then it comes up and you kind of miss it cause you’re waiting for it to feel like that thing you’ve been thinking about only you’re missing the fact that it’s happening right now? So I took no pictures, except the ones in my head. I stayed right there and felt everything. And none of that was fear, and none of that was anxiety, or nerves, or inadequacy. It was completely awesome, basically. And I kicked ass. And I had fun. And I got real, genuine laughs out of the crowd, even.

My advice? Do the thing.

Do it and be fully in it and feel it all. It will change you. Maybe not immediately, maybe not a lot. But having followed the entire experience all the way through, you will gather pieces and parts from each pause in the journey. Some of those things you may not uncover until years later, stored neatly away for the right time to really need them. Trust that giving over to the exposure will not leave you bare. Trust that each feeling you have is genuine, but may not linger. Before you stop yourself, start.

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Listen To Your Mother, Metro Detroit 2016

Letter To My Tween Daughter

Alicia Higgison

I swear, if I hear one more sentence starting with the word “But” in a snooty tone, chin stuck out, eyes rolled up, hand displayed in a distinct gesture of yet-unfounded courage…I might just lose it. I will deny it to my core, but I was once very much like you. I don’t think all those ancient years ago they had a fancy descriptor like “tween”, but in those precious ages between single digits and the teenage years I do recall being quite…precocious? (That’s a term people use to be nice about saying I was a sassy smart ass with an over inflated sense of self.)

I argued, a lot.

I stomped off. I rolled my eyes. I scoffed. I complained loudly to myself in the hopes that others would bend to my will without me having to participate at all in the confrontation. I spent a good bulk of my time with my arms defiantly crossed in front of my body. This defiance may be a biological trait, perfected by each subsequent generation. Because you’ve got it down.

And real talk? I don’t actually know what I’m supposed to do there. There’s no handbook, no series of emotional depth classes you have to navigate before they let you bring your tween home. No one gives you a test and a license for raising a real whole person, when you may not actually be a real whole person yourself. I often feel out of my depth with you. I rarely feel prepared to properly handle the heightened emotional situations you bring to my place at the table. I didn’t know that I’d let you down while thinking I was protecting you when Blake died. I have to admit, sometimes I don’t even know what protecting you looks like anymore. It used to be easy: “don’t stick the thing in the socket”, and “no you cannot eat the peanut butter before your first birthday”, and “I’ll hold your wrist across this road if I have to sohelpme…”

You’re growing up, and sometimes I think I’ve stopped. Because you see I think adults, at a certain point, just grow older.

Parents are programmed to put so much mental and emotional effort into the first years, the formative ones. Afraid that every choice will have a lasting impact on the impending doom of when our little precious snowflakes grow up and away from us. We spend so much time consumed with bottle vs breast, vaccines or no, attachment parent, Moby or Tula, is it too early for my child to experience the joy of honey. HONEY, YOU GUYS. I blush with embarrassment remembering all those moments lost on whether my baby will suffer from botulism…and all the subsequent moments spent googling “what is botulism?”

The truth is, very few of the actual things I worried over even matter now that you, my daughter, are 10. Do you know what matters now? Our open lines of communication that let you freely bring me your stress over your friend being rude to you. The fact that I modeled the behaviour of “you can always tell me when you don’t agree”. And the fact that I love and take care of my body. Bella, you were once tasked with writing a reflective paragraph for class. You chose the phrase: “ways my mom and dad are equal”. And far beyond any trophy or perfect grade you’ll ever bring home, that my dear, made me swell with pride. It has nothing to do with whether you were formula fed from your moment of birth, or whether I co-slept with you out of sheer and utter laziness. You chose for yourself to understand a thing that I did not explicitly teach.

The fact is: you were always bound to grow up. Whichever choices I made, Bella, you were always going to get to the part where my choices for you came second to your own choices for you. And that happens without warning. With no preparation, you have to straddle the line between “little kid” and “teenager”, without the safety net of being just typically either of those. I am not prepped for this either, as it turns out. The title of Parent is always on top, but I naively didn’t address when the job description changed. I got to your 10th birthday, a decade into parenting, and realized I’m still kind of crappy at it. But, while you navigate you, and learn who you are…please know that I see you. I see you, Isabella. And I apologize that I’m stumbling along beside you still discovering and navigating me too. But I am so proud of all you’ve become all on your own. Can you just…I don’t know, keep your seatbelt fastened or something, cause I still feel like I’m making some of the rules around here.

 

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Feminism, and the Defiance of Daughters

by Alicia on April 21, 2016

hands raisedSexism. What a dirty word. What a list of cruel and ugly things it draws on your mind as you think it. There is a falsehood that sexism is only in the obvious and the overt- grabbing a woman’s ass, complimenting her new skirt as opposed to her intelligence, jokingly instructing a woman to get back in the kitchen. The sinister part of sexism is in the smaller, nameless, acceptable moments. The ones that feel too small to call out, lest you earn yourself the title of Bitch. It’s asking a woman why she’s so emotional, it’s assuming she won’t commit to staying late because she’s maternally inclined or at least she should be, it’s being free to question whether a woman got a promotion based on the fact that she’s a woman or perhaps something she’s done with her womanly body, it’s paying her less because there’s too many unknown factors about her potential future.

And so. Feminism becomes a tool my daughters are learning intrinsically, like how to get the shampoo out of their hair in the shower and the reasons we wear seatbelts in the car. I show it in the moments I decide to do for myself, I give it a voice when I remind them I belong to no one. I lay the tools of feminism out for them daily: your voice, your mind, your body, your free will, your team, your sense of self. I remind them we all lose track of our tools from time to time and that’s ok. The act of picking them back up is an act of personal empowerment. I expose them to challenges and wait…just wait for them to decide for themselves. Not decide how I have instructed, no. To pull and piece together anything they hold in esteem, to feel the power of knowledge that they are whole people deserving of their voice and giving a clear and firm answer. I hold space for them, but it is not sacred. They need to earn it, even with me. Can you defend your position? Are you willing to stand in the shakiness of having perhaps disagreed and display the use of your tools? If you are willing to voice your opinion, part of power is acknowledging your weakness, part of growth is observing and really hearing dissent. Everyone will not agree, perhaps no one will. Use your tools and decide for yourself, and know that it is not failure to acknowledge something you didn’t know. And know that your opinion doesn’t need to change because of it, but eagerly entertain the fact that it might.

They don’t do things my way, these girls of mine. That absolutely stings. It bites back in the personal insecurities that tell you they must not approve of you if they don’t copy you. This is of course false. They are not you. You have molded their little worlds and alongside your version they created their own, and that’s where they live. Honouring that unknowable space for my daughters has been my hardest, most rewarding lesson. Not just as a parent, but as a human being. To acknowledge the truth that I know them the best, and there are depths to their lives that will remain a mystery to me. It is their defiance that brings me simultaneous pain and pride. It’s a pain in my ass, but I’m proud that they feel their worth enough to go their own way.

We claim to be willing to meet people halfway, but in action that’s far too much exposure. That’s scary. That’s uncontrollable. Instead we set people up to travel to our side first, as if we can convince them before they even start. We think we are willing to listen, and we fight or flee when our feelings get hurt. We approach everything from within our own lens, and rarely afford the empathy that others are simply doing the same. Feminism is not exclusively dealing with the glass ceiling. Feminism, at its heart, is many levels below that, right at the ground where we meet to trade ideas, to observe each other without judgment or the need to instruct. If my daughters can meet in that place and both feel and invite equality? If we could all do that? Imagine the actual conversations we could have. Think of the issues we could solve. Think of how open and light you would feel about your future, how much you would encourage those around you, how much more respectful our interactions would be.

Women bring pieces to the discussions and debates, local and large scale, that are ours uniquely. Our voices, our ideas, our questions, they are all necessary, they are all needed, they are all worthy. Be feminists. Men and women- be feminists. Invite the women in your life to show up without armour. And lay yours down too. Stop proving and start experiencing. Proof can come later, but not until you humble yourself enough to stand and take in dissention. Then pull out your voice and reflect on your lessons and speak. Speak. Speak. Speak.

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Why I love Windsor.

by Alicia on April 5, 2016

Occasionally still, I’m asked why I don’t live in Harrow anymore. Why I choose the city life, why I choose to live in Windsor when almost all my family lives in my hometown.

The plain fact is: I love it. I love Windsor.

Detroit skyline from Windsor, Ontario

I chose long ago to fall in love with it. To let my life wrap up in everything Windsor has to offer. And the city has paid me back in spades. The things I love about my daily life, the pieces that inspire me, the energy I feel, would not be possible without living in Windsor. There are no shortage of people talking all the terrible things about Windsor, let me tell you about the great parts.

Taloola Cafe, WindsorNearly every weekday morning, I’m up around 5am. I stumble through my dark, quiet semi-detached house on Windsor’s east side which costs me almost nothing and affords me the opportunity to invest my money in myself and my family. My neighbour is not yet up, and I know this because his school bus is still parked in our shared driveway. I like having them so close. They’re good neighbours, we chose this place well. I grab my mat, my bag full of work clothes, and my purse and I’m out the door to make it to my 6am yoga class, 15 minutes away in Walkerville. There’s no one on the roads, the city is still sleepy, and I can predict traffic really well.

I Breathe and think and move for 60 minutes, in a tiny beautiful studio a block from the Detroit River. I dress for work after yoga and take my time choosing a place for coffee. Some mornings it’s Taloola and I sit and check my phone for 20 minutes. Other mornings I trek further away to CraftHeads Brew where the guy remembers that I like black Americanos and asks me to tag them on Instagram. If I’ve got time, it’s Marija’s Place, the breakfast spot around the corner where the woman brings me the paper because she hates that I’m on my phone so early. She also hates coffee, I know this cause we chat. Sometimes I take my coffee to go and sit by the river in my car just taking in the skyline view. It’s stunning, you know. Every single time I’m in love with watching the sunlight glint off the highrises in Detroit. I stare, I take another of the same picture I have at least 30 times on my camera roll and don’t regret it for a second. It’s gorgeous, I love that city so much, it inspires me and I’m reminded sitting there every time how lucky I am to grow up here.

Detroit skyline from Windsor, Ontario

 

I drive to work, where lucky doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about my job. I’m an alumnus of University of Windsor, and now a very proud employee. I work on a small team, we make big changes. I rarely feel small here, my team is fun and inspiring and smart. Driving home there’s more traffic, but I’m skilled now, I know where to avoid the messes and how many left turns I’ll need to make, and how long it’ll take me to get home, even if I hit traffic on the expressway. The drive home takes 23 minutes. It’s not a stressful 23 minutes, it’s perfectly fine. Sure it’s obnoxious in the summer when there’s construction across every east-west outlet in the city. I grumble about it as I sit in my air conditioned vehicle listening to my latest awesome playlist. It’s not nearly as bad as I want to make it out to be.

My girls get off the bus from their schools- yeah, multiple ones. We got stuck in a district shuffle that split the girls up when the little one started school. I met with everyone I felt I needed to trying to fix it, and in the end just accepted the reality. And the reality is actually completely fine. It’s probably annoying to some, but we don’t even notice anymore. I wait approximately 16 minutes for 2 school buses and it doesn’t bother me. If I decide not to make dinner, I can take the girls almost anywhere to eat within a 5 minute drive. On the weekends, gymnastics is 5 minutes away, and drawing class is 3 minutes from there. Ryan’s commute is about the same.

Art Gallery Windsor, Windsor, OntarioEverything I want to do is right here. The city is filled with art and food and coffee and beer and events and shops and bakeries and markets and if none of that satisfies you, two border crossings that bring you to an entire other country filled with everything you could possibly want. Our hop, skip and jump proximity to Downtown Detroit is one of my top three reasons I love Windsor. That place, you guys, it’s incredible. Have you ever walked around Campus Martius Park, right downtown? You must. If you have a heart for inspiration, you can’t help but feel it sitting there. Ask a local where their favourite hangout is and you’ll get a different answer every time. Try them all. (I’d tell you mine but it’s way too cool and already too crowded so back off.) Take a tour of downtown and you’ll be amazed at all the connections that city you barely care about has to the rest of the world.

So yes, parking in downtown Windsor sucks. So yes, there’s not a whole hell of a lot open past 9pm. So yes, there are parts of the city that seem sketchy and unfriendly. So yes, there’s traffic and people seem in a rush. So yes, it can seem like no one knows you and you’re so detached from everything. You can change all that. Show up. Try it anyway. Make a point to already know all the crappy things about what might happen, and push those aside to look for the great stuff you don’t know anything about yet. Hit up the downtown market on a summer weekend (you’ll see some friendly county faces, I bet!). Then stay. Pay 4 damn dollars to park at the river. Grab a snack and take a walk. Window shop the stores downtown, make a list of the cool places you want to eat at, zig zag the city streets back down to the river front and sit, for a minute, and take in the view you’ve probably taken for granted your whole life. Understand that Windsor has its flaws, like everywhere else. And understand that expressing excitement and positivity about Windsor can actually make you like it more. That trying to see the inspiring parts of the city isn’t betraying the roots you’ve laid anywhere else. Know that it’s cool to love Windsor too, and that you’re not alone in that. I love Windsor. I love living here- because I really live here. I take the city in, I love it and that alone opens up so many opportunities for me to love it more. There’s community in a big city too, and I know it’s true because I’m part of it.

 

UWindsor WinCity shirt

This is definitely self-promotion: I write about Windsor. I’m pretty good at it.

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Listen To Your Mother: I’m in the 2016 Metro Detroit cast (!)

March 16, 2016

Here’s why I wanted to do Listen To Your Mother: because I love story telling. It fills my aching soul with incomparable beauty. People are fascinating. Their stories, even ones I cannot readily find myself in, touch me in deep ways. I’m oddly not fond of reading, but have found that audio books really speak […]

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How To Get Through an Anxiety Attack: a 10 year old’s guide

December 14, 2015

My 10yr old daughter, Isabella, wrote this. She had to choose a procedural writing assignment topic, and this is what she chose. Bella has been dealing with anxiety for quite a while now, she has learned many tools from many people. She has good moments and bad moments and moments she can’t quite define. She’s learning just […]

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