Saturday, December 31, 2016

Look Back At Sweet '16

At the start of 2016, strangers continued recognizing me from the Chicago Athlete Magazine cover featuring Wendy and me. Attention and praise make me uncomfortable. This year, I received plenty of both. Instead of discomfort, I found joy.

In February, I joined Keri Serota, Melissa Stockwell, and Levi Kane presenting at a Francis Parker school assembly. 1,000 students and administrators watched in awe as we shared stories of personal triumphs through national and international elite level Paratriathlon and the Dare2Tri Paratriathlon Club. Principal, teachers, and administrators told me how inspiring I was. Keri, whom I have known for seven years, said, “Wow! I had no idea you were such an amazing storyteller.”

In April, Ryan Nord guided me through the BOA Shamrock Shuffle 8K. In June Lindsey Cook was my eyes all weekend at the Dare2Tri triathlon camp. The camp ended with a triathlon where I front crawled the swim finishing in minutes. We hit 26MPH on the bike. A photo of Lindsey and me racing to the finish line appeared in a local newspaper. In August Dan Tun guided me for the Chicago Triathlon super sprint. It was our first race together since Dan guided me to my second straight regional title in 2014. Thanks to Cynthia Shur Petts and Kyna Lenhov for offering me a slot at the August This One Woman variety show. I brought down the house. Having the audience roaring throughout gave me confidence I could do stand up.

September was life changing. Director, Nich Radcliffe, asked me to audition for the role of Greg, a blind character, in a production of the hit classic, Bleacher Bums. Fifteen hours after receiving the sides, I did. I had the great privilege to audition alongside beautiful and talented, Katherine Bellantone, who was part of the cast. I was anxious, but she insisted I did well. Nich offered me the role on the spot. I accepted. The experience was more than I ever dreamed. I was in awe of each actor and crew member on a daily basis. From day one, I felt overwhelmed and out of place. Opening night. Katherine initiated the most significant conversation I have had since Jenna Parker encouraged me to qualify for Paratriathlon Nationals. Katherine inspired me to embrace my greatness and magnificence. She looked into my eyes down into my core and brought me to life. I will forever love and respect Katherine for all she has said and done to change my life in ways she may never realize!

Because of Bleacher Bums, I was interviewed by Janet Davies of ABC7 and Chris DeRosa of WCIU. Doors have been opened for me at Victory Gardens, Prop THTR, Telling Tales Theatre, and 16th Street Theatre to write and perform.

I made my Serving The Sentence debut in September then brought down the house at Is This A Thing Chicago in October. Erica Alansari and Mike Casey guided me for my seventh Chicago Marathon and seventh Boston Marathon qualifier. I inspired grade school children at a assembly and company managers at a corporate gig.

Thanks to Pinnacle Performance Company for sponsoring my marathon and triathlon dreams. Thank you to triathlete, surfer, writer, actress, model, director, Jenna Parker, for being my coach and friend. Thank you for reading this post. Whatever comes my way, in 2017, I hope you will come along for the ride.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Badass Mother Runners

Cynthia Shur Petts and Kyna lenhov created This One Woman, a monthly variety showcase in Chicago. Artists write and perform a piece inspired by a woman which Cynthia and Kyna assigned based on audience suggestions. I performed in August. I tend to evoke, inspire, and connect when I write and perform dramatic pieces. I prepared a dramatic spoken word piece. I had second thoughts. Five hours before call time, I scrapped it. I mentally outlined a stand up comedy routine.

I was nervous that this would be my stand up debut. As Cynthia introduced me. I walked towards the stage. Audience members roared! Standing ovation. I could not start because the crowd kept roaring. Finally, I began. Within five seconds, they laughed. They laughed throughout. I brought down the house. Several including Cynthia and Kyna, are experienced and accomplished stand up comics. They praised my timing, delivery, and originality. I became Facebook friends with Kyna. I posted how several friends have completed Ragnar Relay, the 200 mile overnight relay race. I have raced Warrior Dash, qualified for Boston Marathon seven times, won the USA National Championship in Paratriathlon, and raced for a World Championship. I wish to add Ragnar to that list.

Kyna Lenhov invited me to join her Ragnar team. I asked beautiful, intelligent, inspiring, Samantha McBirney to be my eyes. In June 2017, Sam will guide me as a member of the Badass Mother Runners from Madison to Chicago.

I can not wait to run Ragnar. I can not wait to run alongside Sam. I can not wait to be a Badass Mother Runners. Since losing my sight, I feel most alive when I run. I feel most like my sighted self when I run fast. I will feel alive and run fast at Ragnar.

Monday, December 19, 2016

I Perform At Fillet Of Solo 2017

At the start of 2016, my friend, Cynthia told me she and fellow funny woman, Kyna, would begin a new live lit show in Chicago called This One Woman. Cynthia asked if I wished to perform at one of the events. Each month, performers get to share a piece inspired by or having to do with a famous woman. I said yes. In August of this year, I made my This One Woman debut. I wanted to share a heartwarming dramatic spoken word piece, but several hours before showtime, I scrapped my piece and crafted a stand up comedy routine on the fly. I brought the house down. Two months later, I performed at Is This A Thing Chicago. I chose to share a funny story about the first time I broke four hours in a marathon. I had the mostly female crowd roaring! Having also written and performed a story at Serving The Sentence, the good folks at STS offered me a chance to perform at Fillet Of Solo. I am excited to perform next month as part of this wonderful well known festival.

As the date nears, I will provide updates on my day and time should you wish to buy and ticket and see my performance. I may also do a comedy set that week at an event hosted by the beautiful and talented author, TV personality, radio host, newspaper writer, actress, comedy host, Jenniffer Weigel. More news to come on that front soon.

Here is a link to Fillet Of Solo Festival.

Fillet Of Solo Festival