Saturday, April 28, 2012

WEGO Health Activist Writer's Challenge Month - Day 28

 Today's Topic: The first time I...

The first time I performed Weaving: An Inspirational Journey, a one woman musical performance about disability, I was electrified inside. I was alone on stage with just my cello and my service dog lying on a mat at my feet. I was there to play 10 pieces I'd composed. In between playing the cello I was going to talk about myasthenia gravis, cancer, disability myths and service dog etiquette.

For months I'd practiced. I'd written down what I was going to say and rehearsed it a thousand times. Honey knew her cues. She would demonstrate how she helps me function. She would pick up a bag of chips, a dollar, a credit card and a dime. We knew what we were doing. We were ready.

When I was being introduced I had a hard time listening over my heart beat. My hands felt sweaty on my cello. Is getting up here a good idea? It's too late to chicken out now. All eyes were on me. I took deep breaths and pushed my nervous energy down through the soles of my feet. 

My heart beat fast only for a moment before rehearsal took over and I just relaxed on stage. After getting everyone to laugh and relax, I talked about my struggle to get a diagnosis with MG. I talked about what myasthenia gravis is like. I talked about my thymoma and what having cancer was like. In between each story I played solo cello music. Alone on stage with just me and my cello I felt at home.

I was prepared for the performance. I was not prepared for the response....

Marie Smith is a remarkable woman.  She plays cello artfully.  She composes
evocative music.  And she tells an incredible  story of overcoming two
life-threatening illnesses.  She joins cello, original music, and her story
into a powerful, even mythic performance: Weaving: An Inspirational

Weaving suits many occasions.  She performed it as a Sunday morning program,
its premier, at my Unitarian Church of Hinsdale, in the summer of 2006.  We
recently  invited Marie back to perform Weaving to our larger community,
because we believe it's a triumph of the human spirit that from which every
person will benefit.

Weaving is more than good, it's extraordinary."

                                   — Rev. Edward Searl, Unitarian Church of Hinsdale

"Weaving" is a culmination of talent, humor, music and living life.  There really is no better combination than that, and Marie brings it out in each of us.

                                 — Hannah Alkire, cellist in Acoustic Eidolon

From the very beginning, I found myself on a visual journey of a life that has walked through the valley and the shadows and survived.  The narration of Marie's journey was so descriptive, moving, and involved that I felt caught up in each moment and felt like I was able to feel every experience personally.  I felt that the cello and Honey were an integral part of this journey. May the wind always be at your back. Thank you for sharing your life pages with us.

                             — Linda Eastman, Diversity Days in La Grange Illinois Co-Chair

It was a very informative experience. Marie taught us how to approach and meet someone in a wheelchair and how to meet and refrain from greeting her service dog. I loved seeing how she has trained Honey her dog and what Honey can do!
    I was fascinated by her story. It was very engaging. I loved the honesty she had and I know some doctors could learn from her experience.  Her reasons of hope as well as her honest dealing with her feelings would help others with serious health conditions as well as those grieving over other losses. Thank you Marie for risking and telling us your story. We are the richer for it.  Her cello music is beautiful and wonderfully creative!

                                   — Barb Kaufman, Sisters of St. Joseph, La Grange Illinois

After this morning, I left church wishing that everyone (in the world!) could hear you speak and hear your soulful music.

                                   — Holly Lydigsen

Dear Marie,

I am not a musician.

I am not a concert attendee.

I am not a cello enthusiast....


                                                                  — Milt & Rosalie Honel

The response was overwhelming. All I did was share my cello and my reality. All I did was be myself. The response was incredible. It's a gift I'll never forget. I'm glad I did it the first time. Sometimes being brave is the right choice after all.

If you want to learn more about inviting me and my cello to perform for your group, click here.


  1. I was with you. Your description of your moment brought me to the front row of your event. I felt your heart beat, I felt Honey's readiness to perform. I felt your bow in my fingers and your music vibrate through my soul. You have a gift for writing friend. Thank you for letting me briefly be with you.
    The praise you received doesn't surprise me. In the brief time that I have known you in the DOC you have inspired me and made me want to be a better person. I pray that one day I will get to sit in the front row to hear your story both in your words and through your music. I hope that one day I will get to stand and applaud all that you are. You are a gift that God gave to us and I am thankful.
    btw - I didn't know that when I meet someone with a service animal that I should not interact with him/her. Thus - I learned something too.
    Hugs friend.

  2. Hugs back. Glad I could lift your spirits today.



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