The last couple months, I've experienced one of my dreams coming true. Before I get to that, let me take a few steps back...
This year has been really hard. In April, we lost my mom's dog. Although he belonged to her, he really was the family dog. We all loved him, and he loved us. He started developing a "cough", and when we took him to the vet, they said he had an enlarged heart. My son later said that's because he had so much love to give. But that very night after the vet visit, his heart gave out. It was devastating to all of us.
And in August, my mom had a hip replacement surgery. She was in awful pain, so the surgery was most welcome. My sweet aunt and uncle drove out in their RV to help with her recovery, as I had to travel for work shortly after the surgery. In a freak accident, my uncle took a fall which resulted in his death. Beyond devastating...this was unthinkable! He was a strong, healthy man, and this death seemed unsuited to him after all he'd been through.
With the bad, though, comes good. Such is life. A delicate balance. God blesses us in special ways so that we can work through and overcome the bad. And while these horrible things took away friends and family we love, other amazing things have taken place.
I've spent most of my life doing theatre in one form or another. As a kid, I watched and wanted to be part of it. In high school, I worked backstage, but longed to have the courage to stand before an audience and sing. I got my degree in stage management because I knew I could handle backstage work (and I loved it). I had convinced myself I wasn't good enough...and I didn't LOOK good enough to be a performer. I found my way into bit parts here and there, though, because the calling continued. After I got married and was a stay-at-home mom, I needed a creative outlet. I found that in community theatre. But I stayed in the background, still not happy with the way I looked.
I found a family in a wonderful community theatre company called Sunrise Players. They perform at a church not too far from my home. They embraced both my kids and me immediately, and I've never looked back. I won't perform with any other group. They are loving, kind, considerate...again, FAMILY. Back in March, we performed Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, and I was cast as Queen Maisie. That role was so much fun! I had a blast.
Then they announced their next show would be Mamma Mia!
I was hesitant at first. How could a church ministry put on a show about a young girl meeting her three possible dads? And laced with innuendo and dirty words? I'm not prude, but I spent a good portion of my married life as a pastor's wife, so I'm a little sensitive to those things. But the director--an amazing woman--addressed all my concerns and put my heart at ease. She had a plan to make this production as family-friendly as possible.
And I knew my time had come.
I wanted the lead role of Donna. But looking down at my body, dressed in the Queen's regal size 22 gown, how could I do it? Donna is a former rockstar turned innkeeper. She has awesome songs with dance breaks. And in the dialogue, one of the men says, "I was expecting a frumpy, little housewife," indicating that she's NOT that.
I had to change if I wanted that part. So during show week of Cinderella, I started. My high school director always said tech/show week was never the time to start a diet. But with limited time...from March to August...I had to. I began to log my calories. I focused on eating single-ingredient foods. Rotisserie chicken became a fast favorite. Veggies and fruit, too. I quit eating bread and sugar. My family has a long-standing tradition of pizza and a movie on Friday nights. I ordered or made a salad instead. And I started walking. Twenty minutes a day to begin with. And I increased over time.
A couple weeks after my uncle passed away, I auditioned for Mamma Mia! Over the summer, I not only worked on my weight, but on my voice and memorization. I polished my audition pieces and prayed...a lot.
And the directors graciously granted me the role of Donna.
Despite the bad things my family faced this year, I count myself most blessed. This production is about to come to a close. Tech week is just days away, and the performances are around the corner. I get to sing some powerful, beautiful songs. The script has come to life in my heart. I get to perform with amazing talent under the direction of fantastic directors. And I've gone from wearing sizes 22-24 to sizes 8-10. As of this very day, I've lost 87 pounds.
Donna has changed my life for the better. I owe her so much. My journey isn't over, but I'm on the downhill side of it. I want to lose another 30 pounds before all is said and done. And once I reach that, I will have to work to maintain it. Weight will always be a struggle in my life, but I almost have it under control. Putting on small clothes is FAR more satisfying than a mouthful of pizza or cake. That's my motivation.
I'm grateful for the support I've received through this. I'm thankful for family and friends who have encouraged me. I don't have enough words to thank my directors for giving me a chance as Donna. And to that beautiful character who inspired me and drove me to pursue her...my heart is hers.
Award-winning sci-fi author * Christ follower, wife, and mom * broadcast content producer. And yes, I am a real duchess. http://amzn.to/2eLTlH3