Friday, February 27, 2009

kindness ROCKS!

One of the many different shows I work on is an Abba tribute, called Abbacadabra, for a company called Mooncoin Productions. The power couple behind Mooncoin, Jonas Falle and Jeanette OKeefe, are two of the finest human beings I have ever had the privilege of knowing, and I am extremely proud to be a part of their talent pool.

If anything is to be said by me, about the concept of the law of attraction, it is that I believe in it wholeheartedly. I first noticed Jeanette O'Keefe about a year ago, when she and I both joined a facebook group called Positive Fabulous Women.

Jeanette's attitude in her posts on the groups wall, made so much sense to me, that I felt to check her out. I was very impressed with her website . It is a slick, fun, sparkly, showy, perfect web home for her company, full of bright photos and professionally shot videos of fully produced soft seat theatre scale productions, complete with dancers, choreography and costumes.

I recall thinking, wow, what a LOT of work. I didn't have a clue how you get to that point, and was quite terrified to even try. I didn't even have a website at the time, I was quite content to just plod along and work in my duo. (the seed that day was planted however, and it was only a matter of time before I started to see more for myself as far as performing goes.)

I browsed the site, and I noted that Mooncoin had a number of different shows on offer, an Abba show, an R n B show, a Retro Diva show, a Country show, you name the show, they could provide it, and pull it off to perfection. I looked at a few of their videos, and stopped to really look at one called Kindness Rocks, which is an anti bullying show designed to educate young people on the realities of bullying.

This taken from their website:

"Through the magical power of music, entertainment, laughter and the sharing of true personal stories, "Kindness ROCKS" spreads the powerful messages of social responsibility, self esteem, empowerment, forgiveness, compassion and individuality. Our goal is to help stop violence and bullying in schools and communities throughout the world by inspiring youth to take kind and positive action on a daily basis and to let them know how important their individual contribution is to the world as a whole. "

I was so impressed with the video I saw and the message they seemed to be sending, that I sent a message (probably long and rambling) to Jeanette, (who at the time was a virtual stranger), and told her how moved I was with her work.

Months later we met in person for the first time, and it was instantly easy to be around her. We talked about how people can constantly strive to make positive connections to one another, we considered synchronicity for a while, and the fascinating notion that there is something inexplicably divine placing people and events in our path, which led us to contemplate and discuss how our choices regarding those events (be them good or bad), are what define our character and leads us to our current situations. etc. etc.

I think the most important thing we learned about each other that day, is that we both love to examine what it means to embrace this crazy journey of being a human. And inherent in both of our natures, is that we would rather prop someone up, than put them down. I walked away from that first meeting, impressed and inspired. It never dawned on me that several months later I would be working for them, but in hindsight it all makes perfect sense.

Fast forward to yesterday, I was invited by Jonas and Jeanette to see one of their Kindness Rocks concerts which was being held at a nearby High school auditorium in honor of Anti Bullying week. This was my first chance to see this concert live, in person, and I have to tell you . I nearly cried throughout the whole thing.

The show started with a smashing rock number, and as I watched my friends up there on stage, I was filled with pride and happiness for how awesome they all were. Once again, I was impressed with Jeanette, her amazing vocals and stage presence, and I sat back to enjoy what I thought was going to be a great musical show.

But it was more than that, SO much more.

After the first song, Jeanette introduced herself to the packed audience of teenagers. Here she was this gorgeous ( and I mean gorgeous ) singer, in a bright costume on an amazing big stage, singing with a smoking hot band, all confident and secure, yet, she begins to tell a story about her experiences growing up.

As they showed a slide on the wall, of her as a child, Jeanette talked about how her family was a little on the unusual side. For instance, her father painted their house in stripes, trimmed their evergreens to look like palm trees, and put crazy yet artistic sculptures in their front yard. To the neighbors, this just made the house look, well, weird. And of course, the way kids would see it, anyone who lives in a house like that must be weird right?

Not helping matters any, Jeanette was a part of a very large family, and she only ever got to wear hand me down clothes that didn't quite fit and had little style. This gave all her school friends yet another reason to single her out as different, and she spent most of her childhood as a loner. Kids were cruel to her in fact. For her birthday party one year, the girls who had been so mean to her, suddenly seemed to have a change of heart, and told her hey, yeah, we will come to your party! So Jeanette, SO excited, went home and told her Mom that she actually had friends coming for her birthday. Together they got her whole house ready, cake, decorations, the works.

And no one showed up.

I cry even as I type this, and I tell you, I was BAWLING when I watched the show. I cried for the little girl who suffered so much, who was beaten and beaten but never lost her fire. I related to her on so many levels, because when I myself went to a new high school, I never really managed to connect they way I had with my old friends at my old high school. I had years where I wandered the halls at lunchtime, trying to look like I was going to be hanging out with someone or doing something interesting, when the truth was, I mostly just went to the library, sat in the drama theatre and read a book, went for a walk and listened to music on my walkman, or skipped out entirely, and went to the stables to hang out with the horses (who I felt, understood me completely).

I wasn't tortured as openly as Jeanette was, I was just mostly ignored, never sought out, and only begrudgingly allowed to stand just outside of the crowd if I did try to include myself. And I did hear the comments once in a while, which confirmed to me that the way I was viewed was not very positive. I remember one girl calling me a beached whale, out loud, in front of the whole classroom, as we watched a video of our swimming class, and I was shown laying by the side of the pool.

I cried as I watched the Kindness Rocks show, I recalled those feelings of not quite fitting in, not knowing how to put myself out there, wondering what was wrong with me, why didn't I get it, what was I missing? I wondered why couldn't I talk to people about the things they were talking about? I just didn't get anything that seemed to be 'cool', wasn't in the loop. And I cried for all the children sitting in that audience right then, the ones who knew and felt exactly the feelings Jeanette was sharing with them, and I suddenly KNEW why Jeanette was driven to create such a show.

And it wasn't just Jeanette, every artist on that stage came out and told their story, be they the victim or the bully. Yes the people who acted as bullies spoke too, because they all suffered as well, they later regretted their bullying ways, and carry it with them to this day. It's almost worse to be the bully, because it is the bully who has the character flaw, and once you realize that about yourself, it is tough on the soul. I am not guessing at this, I know this, because I also can recall some kids in my elementary school whom I teased right along with all the other kids. I know how crappy it feels to be the bully too. What I think is important here, is that both sides of the story were represented in this show, and all events were told without judgment.

This wasn't even just about one day of shows either. Jonas and Jeanette came and worked with the high school drama class for a few weeks prior to the event, and the kids developed a skit which addressed how hurtful rumors get started. They performed the skit for their peers during the show, and not only that, the two dancers in the show, also came for several weeks prior, and worked with the school dance club on a number they all performed onstage with the band.

Now, tell me that is not inspiring to kids?

These are people that strive to make a difference folks. These are the people I admire.

I looked around at the audience full of teenagers, most wearing pink for anti-bullying day, and was hopeful that those kids would see their future in this group of people on stage that had struggled as teenagers themselves, but who became successful and confident adults anyways. I was hopeful the kids would be able to see past the hell we know as high school, and leave their fears and worries behind them, replacing them with strength and purpose because 'if these people who were just like me can believe in themselves, then maybe I can'.

I was inspired because of the person Jeanette is, that she has not become a mean, spiteful, bitter, woman, but instead became a dynamic and beautiful performer, and a deeply sincere person who puts out only kindness and good energy into the world, despite how it treated her as a child. Jeanette is a clever survivor, and only surrounds herself with positive people now. If you are not on a purposeful path or if you are not positive by nature, you wont get a job with her company. I have always been proud to know the people behind the Mooncoin team, to be considered talented enough to work in their shows, but after today, I am also honored, to think they also consider me a friend, because I can see how valuable it is to them.

I leave you with this final suggestion. If you are a parent of a child anywhere in the Lower Mainland, (or anywhere in the world for that matter, because Mooncoin does tour worldwide) I strongly encourage you to find a way to get this incredible production to your school.

Your children deserve it.

With love and hugs to you........... Rachael. xoxo

1 comment:

bernthis said...

I read this and cried. I remember walking into the lunchroom in 9th grade. There must have been over 200 people in there and not one of them I could have called a friend. I was so humiliated. It has been close to 30 years and a piece of me still dies when I think about it.