Friday, February 25, 2011

The Price Some Pay for Fame

America's got talent!

"Stars" dance and do fancy footwork on big screen T.V.s in households across America.

Fame and a name! Singers, dancers, performers and writers, everyone would like to see their name in lights.

Whether it’s one name recognizables such as Tina, Cher, Sarah, or Tiger; whether we approve or disapprove of their behaviors, politics, or lifestyles, we just can’t help gawking and listening.

I sit in my comfy home declaring, “If that were me, I would …” I posture and feel empowered imagining how I would handle any of their particular situations. I shove another cookie in my mouth wishing I could lose a few pounds as I watch a sixty-something-year-old icon prance her lithe legs across a talk show stage.

What really makes someone a celebrity? Susan Boyle was an unknown, never-been-kissed, fifty year old when she was discovered on a talent show. The world audience reveled in her success. We watched her physical and emotional transformation take place before our eyes. Her angelic voice rippled into households like electric current. How many unknown talented people will never be discovered, transformed or will never transform others with their gifts and talents? Why do we devote so much time to the stars? Maybe it’s the kinship we feel with an undiscovered nobody, or a somebody with the same kinds of personal problems.

It’s not that I don’t have enough issues in my own life, but focusing on the stars’
lives allows me vicarious interaction. I imagine myself dining, dancing, singing, schmoozing with the good, the bad, and the beautiful. No matter how down to earth performers appear to be, I know for a fact that they wouldn’t give me a second look. But through a variety of media I can witness their lives and through my active imagination I can be a part of it.

I can’t carry a tune, but I can sing a duet with any number of iconic singers. You should see me strut my stuff. I beam at my reflection knowing how proud Tina Turner would be of me when we sing Proud Mary together. I can almost hear her shouting, “Take it away!” as she tosses me her microphone.

I imagine sitting in Cher’s southwest decorated kitchen singing, "If I Could Turn Back Time", then talking honest to goodness mom talk. When I read in magazines of her failures, her successes and most of all her kids’ feelings that she sacrificed motherhood for a career, I relate. I know what it’s like to have your kids point their finger and say, “You did or didn’t…”

My children are thirty-seven and forty, and to this day, at family gatherings, I know that one of them will publically humiliate me. Word for word, I can quote them. I clutch my heart and prepare for the knife plunge.

“Do you remember when we were kids and Mom always made us split a Happy Meal?”

All eyes turn my way, and the tongue lashings begin. There’s no escaping the pangs of motherhood when you have kids who aren’t afraid to dish the family gossip.

I lived in Alaska for a couple of years way back when. That’s the only connection I feel with a certain up and coming political hopeful, but I can certainly relate when she gets embroiled in her daughter, the dancer’s, personal business. I am a grandmother who had a pregnant teenage daughter. She had an out of wedlock baby when she was 20. I fought as fiercely as any mama grizzly for her cub. I am right there sipping coffee with Sarah, complaining about kids and the things they put us through.

Tiger, well now, his personal life is such a mess, but on some level, I relate to his foibles. Perhaps, as he says, it wasn’t a golf club that did the damage. I want to sit that young man down and tell him to tell the truth. Addiction is painful. I know; I used to be an adrenaline junkie. My former husband had the air let out of all four tires when he pulled some wild antics many years ago. Did I admit to doing it? Would I do such a thing? Did we dance around real issues and hurt the kids? Well, now, I know from experience that taking the tiger by the tail is only the beginning of transforming one’s self. Taming the tiger results in healthier family relationships.

I ask myself why I get so embroiled in the lives of stars, and after a bit of self-examination, I realize it is because on some level, regardless of fame or fortune, we’ve had common experiences. I’ve been the ugly duckling. I’ve regained self-esteem. I’ve fought long and hard for underdogs. I wrestled my own tiger, I, who feared public speaking more than gaining ten pounds, now address audiences. I have been the wounded, and I have healed others’ wounds. I have lived it up and I have had to live it down. I am a star in my own right, and you are too.

Now go out there and shine today! Do some fancy footwork, smile at a stranger, write from your heart. Sparkle.



Terri Tiffany said...

Loved this post! Thanks for sharing more about you and how you have overcome some of the same fears I still struggle with. Going to speak next month for the first time, and I'd rather do anything but want to overcome it. Thanks for the encouragement!

Linda O'Connell said...

You will do fine. I am doing a panel discussion in a few weeks, and even though I speak to groups of three hundred at school family functions, I get queasy thinking about presenting to peers. Shoot me an email.

Bookie said...

Very inspiring and uplifting today!

Tammy said...

I agree with Bookie. Very uplifting! I especially love the line,"I am a star in my own right...." Yep!

Susan said...

Linda, isn't it funny how our kids remember all the bad parts of their childhoods instead of all the millions of good things? Cheeze Louise. I try to think if I did the same thing and I guess, to some extent, I did. Anyway, thanks for sharing. Susan

Chatty Crone said...

I totally understand - we are just human - and we did the very best we knew how - and now when they have children - they will do there best - ?

Sandie (Hug)

Pat Wahler said...

Good advice for us all, Linda!


Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Don't forget the other reason...we're nosy! :)

Debora said...

Isn't our humanity a messy, beautiful proposition? I guess it's nice to see others shine so we know that maybe we can too. And as ugly as it is; maybe we enjoy seeing those same folks fall; because we know we have...

KB said...

Enjoyed your post. Thanks for following me, I'm following you now!

Kathleen said...

Enjoyed reading this post. I can relate with the grown up kids bit and things they remember. I like your positive attitude. Kathleen.

Julia Gordon-Bramer said...

We're all human, eh? And as parents, we do the best we can, and then we go on to finishing out our job of living our own lives. Our kids may resent us for putting too much attention in our careers, but we are the only ones to live out the rest of our years. I think all adults get this, finally. After a couple of decades of blame.