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  • Writer's pictureLara Toner Haddock

Today's Gratitude with Cyndi Williams

When I could be flip about it, I was.

 “My life has turned into a bad country song, and I hate country music!”

“If I knew my husband was gonna leave me, I woulda gotten a bigger car!”

“A year ago, I had a cat, two dogs, and a husband. Now all I have is a dog. And it’s not even the same dog!”

But mostly I was sad. Charlie the cat died and Lily the dog died and my husband left me and Trudy the dog died.

The last two things that happened were really unexpected, and it felt like my world fell apart.

Then the 2016 elections happened and then the divorce took two and a half years and was absolutely no fun at all and then I decided to sell my home of 25 plus years, a home I loved in a neighborhood I’d loved and lived in for even longer, and then the world seemed to grow increasing cruel and frightening, and then I had to have an emergency appendectomy and then I lived in a friend’s spare bedroom for four months.

Of course, these things, with different details, happen to everyone at some time or another. Those are my details. But sometimes, all of our worlds fall apart.

And in the darkness of my personal world-fallen-apart, there were so many glimmering lights. So much kindness was given to me.

So surely we all get that grace, when our worlds fall apart, and everything is dark, surely we all can see those kind, glimmering lights.

I was so sad, between my tiny personal world and the big world around us all, I just couldn’t write. Oh, I wrote in my journal, but that’s just for me, (everyone who has ever snuck into my journal confessed that they were bitterly disappointed). The thing that made me want to write something down and it show it to people and ask them to look at what I did! just wasn’t there anymore.

A friend on Facebook was writing gratitude posts. I think it was every day for a month, during November, as a Thanksgiving project. I loved reading them. They made me think of my own gratitude. I thought about all the glimmers of light I could see in the darkest times, and all of the things that have happened in my life that the timid little weirdo growing up in East Texas would never have dreamed of… and I decided not only did I have a lot to be grateful for, that I could USE IT AS A WRITING PROJECT.

My initial idea was that I would write a short piece every night about two things for which I was grateful. One would be a person and one would be a thing or a person I didn’t actually know. That idea morphed to include memories and I decided to drop the two-things-a-night. Usually I would write them right before bedtime. I tried not to think about it too much before I started writing. I wrote them as fast as I could and only let myself look over them quickly twice and do some minor rewrites, and then I would hit SEND and publish them on Facebook.

My plan is to do this for a year. I started late November, 2019.

Lara Toner Haddock, friend, employer, and artistic collaborator, asked how I would feel about turning these into a performance.

Thrilled, that’s how I feel!

We had a little workshop reading the weekend before we all started retreating into our homes. What I learned from that workshop is that it was good to hear these read by a variety of voices.

So, here’s step two of the process – putting them out before you, the audience.

If we can bring some glimmers to you, that’s awesome.

From this writer’s perspective, it’s great to hear these interpreted by other voices, without any input. Because these are things that happened to me, and people I love, I have a warped perspective on what’s interesting or hits home for others.

It’s good to have a little distance as we continue to develop this as a live performance.

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Mar 24, 2020

I have always loved Cindi's writing. Thank you for this new, clever way of sharing with your Austin Playhouse family. I'm sad for the losses of our precious pets, sorry for the scare of the emergency appendectomy (better then than now!), and cheer you forward with the husband deal. Also....Cindi...are you in a Geico commercial showing now? It's a wedding reception with wolves eating off plates and bridesmaids guessing the groom was truly raised by wolves. I can't see the person, but THAT VOICE is YOU...saying, "which one is your mother"? Just curious! You are amazingly familiar to all who have watched you on stage all these years! And for YOU, we are grateful!

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