Book ‘Em Mama

Costumed Mama is back after a two week hiatus. Thinking back to the Lady Liberty gig it all seems like a tiny blip on the radar. Did I really do that? The thought of dancing or waving on the street for any amount of time now just seems plain crazy.

Have you been wondering what Costumed Mama’s next big adventure will be? Me too. I am open to all possibilities.

I thought the job I was hired to do last week might be blog-worthy. It certainly fell in the category of adventure. I was cast in a locally produced television show and shot several scenes for “Happily Never After” as the sister of a murder victim. The acting was fun, and being on set was exciting but the wardrobe was boring. My costume was plain old street clothes from my own closet. Guess we’ll have to wait until I get cast in a period piece or a Sci-Fi project before I blog about TV or theater costumes.

So today Costumed Mama digs into her photo archives to celebrate Throw Back Thursday with the rest of social media. Scroll down and see how with a bit of fabric, glue and a whole lot of imagination, words and illustrations transform into living characters.  See if you can guess who these beloved children book characters are. They are some of my favorites.

 

“The B stands for Beatrice. Only I don’t like Beatrice. I just like B, and that’s all”

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 I’ve been the Captain of Field Day, a Beauty Shop Guy and a Sneaky Peeky Spy!

“There is no place like home.”

DSCN0895 I live on a farm. I have a dog. I am guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

 

“Now run along and play but don’t get into trouble.”

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Who knew this archaeologist was so adorable as a little kid!  No wonder a curious monkey followed him home from Africa.

 

 

“It spun faster and faster, then everything was still. Absolutely still.”

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This brother and sister team hail from Frog Creek, PA. They travel through time via a very unconventional yet magical mode of transportation.

 

 

“To live will be an awfully big adventure!”

DSC03922All children grow up except this one. His address is second star to the right and straight on till morning.

 

 

 

“I love magic!”

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He’s a star Quidditch player for his residential school team and he has a lightening bolt scar on his forehead.

Lessons Learned

“So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu. Adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu.” – Sound of Music

WHAT LADY LIBERTY TAUGHT ME:

  • Smile muscles do exist. I can flex them for two hours and 43 minutes before they start to twitch.
  • Liquid snot production increases as temperature decreases, and rate of flow is directly proportional to wind speed.
  • More Energy = More Honks
  • More people in a day want to buy Batteries + Bulbs than get their taxes done or buy Sherwin Williams paint.
  • You can build your skill set working the streets. I now have “Sign Flipper” on my resume. No joke.
  • You can teach yourself how to dougie.
  • Lady Liberty’s gown is NOT laundered daily.
  • I only lasted five minutes with this crazy contraption strapped to my head, therefore I have ruled out a career in sports mascotery.
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  • I am no longer afraid to take chances. (or make up words)
  • I will dance on the sidewalk for four hours in the chilly weather but cannot bring myself to exercise for one minute on a day off or walk the dog in the cold.
  • I’ll clean your toilet if you pay me $2.00.
  • There’s a lot of multi-tasking on the road: Driving, eating, texting, talking, picking, singing, dancing, drinking, primping and dressing.

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  • Seeing things through rose-colored glasses can be a wonderful thing. (especially on a cold Valentine’s Day when the only romantic gesture experienced all day is from the toothless man following me down the sidewalk. “I like it when you dance,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.)
  • Street walkers are territorial. I’ll fight for my preferred side and corner of Battlefield Blvd. between 9:00 & 1:00, even if I have to get out there early.
  • Anybody can do this job. No matter your age, experience or education, we all start on an equal playing field. What you decide to do with it determines the game, your success and your happiness.

Tax season is over. So is Lady Liberty’s run. The crown has been retired.

Do I miss it? NO. Not a bit. Don’t expect to find me shaking a Little Caesar’s sign on the corner. No need to wonder if that’s Costumed Mama in the cow suit imploring you to eat more chicken. Been there. Done that. I did, however, run across this guy on my ride home from work.

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A fellow street performer waving to me on my last day. Hmmm… could it be a sign? I hear his boss offers great benefits.

So what’s next for Costumed Mama? I have a feeling she’ll be in costume again very soon. This was the last installment in the Lady Liberty series, but there’s more adventure and fun to come. Stay tuned and become a “follower” by subscribing to Costumed Mama’s blog today.

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 “I’m glad to go, I cannot tell a lie. I flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly. So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye” – Sound of Music

What a Waist!

“Watch me getting physical. Out of control, There’s people watching me. I never miss a beat.” – Cascada/Evacuate the Dancefloor

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The anticipated fitness benefits and the forced accountability ranked high on my list of reasons to take the waver job. I dubbed the workout “Liberty Insanity” and “P240X-the LTS version.”

Four hours of physical activity at least three times a week! How could I not lose weight and increase stamina? It was 100% more than what I was doing. Even if I only walked back and forth waving I was sure to see results. I intended to put more cardio effort into it by dancing and incorporating strength and toning movements.

I do hate exercise. I always have. I don’t like to get out of breath, and I don’t like to sweat. This makes it very difficult to engage in exercise regularly. I don’t care for sports either. The only reason I ever registered for local running events was to participate in the costume contests. Running is used to escape something or get somewhere fast. I’m rarely in a hurry.

So what would motivate me to exercise? Maybe if I saw some significant results. Unfortunately, it’s never happened. I’ve been enrolled in exercise programs at the gym with a trainer’s guidance and experienced no more than 3 pounds weight loss. I’ve done Zumba, finning, stepping, treading, running, cycling, Wii fitness and exercise DVDs – no big change. I have a history of great disappointment when it comes to diet, exercise and weight loss.

So what was going to work for me?

I was willing to give Lady Liberty a chance as my personal trainer. She had three months to get me in shape. I worked hard. I was often out of breath when I’d go in the office for a short break. I kept a large bottle of water with me on the street and filled it at least three times during a shift. I danced, jumped, walked, marched and did several toning exercises to target arms, thighs and glutes.

A week before I started waving I cut wheat out of my diet. I felt less bloated and more comfortable. I lost five pounds in a week. That was surprising, but I knew it wasn’t fat loss. Something else was going on in my body but I was still encouraged.

I weighed myself on January 17, my first day as Lady Liberty. The scale read 159 lbs.

A week later I was up a pound. (160)

At the end of the second week I was down two pounds. (158)

Over the next eight weeks my weight fluctuated 1-3 pounds up and down.

I was not happy about this but was determined to give Liberty a chance. At some point I figured I’d turn a corner and the numbers would start decreasing. I took a step counter to work and for two weeks I recorded the number of steps I took per hour. The numbers varied depending on my activity, but I was mostly stepping between 3000-4500 steps per hour. I took all the data and came up with an average number of steps per hour. I wanted to know how that translated to distance so I took a walk around the neighborhood and determined that Lady Liberty walked about 1.54 miles an hour. That meant on a four-hour shift I was covering approximately six miles!

Okay, I better see some dramatic results soon! What the heck was going on? Why did my body fight weight loss?

At the end of the ninth week I was down two pounds from my starting weight. (157)

The next week I was up a pound. (158)

It seemed nothing was happening. I was getting discouraged. There was one noticeable difference. My waist shrunk a bit. I was doing a lot of exercise to target that area and I did see some results. I should have taken measurements but I hadn’t thought about that in the beginning. I was able to tighten my belt an extra two holes from when I started. At least there was some progress. I did the standing abs exercises from the Tracy Anderson Mat Routine many times during a shift and added some additional twists and bends which I incorporated into holding the Liberty tax signs. From that same video I used her arm routine as an inspiration for some of my pom pom wielding moves. I do believe there has been some upper arm shrinkage. You can see some of the waist whittling moves here. I also hula-hooped at least 10 – 15 minutes every hour.

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As the end of tax season neared I became more discouraged. I started slipping into bad eating habits again. (Cookies, candy, ice cream, bread) I had two more weeks to go and I was nervous about getting back on the scale. At least I still had that regular exercise!

After two weeks of eating crap I lost two pounds. WHAT? I give up.

When it was all over I was up another two pounds making my total weight loss one pound over 13 weeks. (158)

I’m very irritated about this. At least I got paid. I can now use some of that money to buy ice cream, which contrary to what some of you fitness freaks say, really does taste as good as thin feels. Have you ever met Ben and Jerry’s chunky monkey? Indulged in Breyers’ mint chocolate chip? Whipped up a f’real mint-chip milk shake?

Well, technically I guess I’ve never really known what thin feels like, but it’s hard to imagine it feels any better than cool, creamy, sweet, minty, chocolaty goodness gliding across my tongue.

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“Who can take tomorrow, dip it in a dream?  Separate the sorrow, and collect up all the cream? The Candyman.” – Willy Wonka 

 

 

Give Me Liberty or Give me Lysol

“We’ll keep singing without fail otherwise we’d spoil it,
Hosing down the garbage pail and scrubbing up the toilet, ooh!” – Disney’s Enhchanted/Happy Working Song

 

B-Day had arrived.

I drove to work that day with no firm plan regarding the dreaded bathroom detail.

I had three options:

1. Tell the boss I wasn’t going to do it. Here I risked possible termination and ruining my reputation for being a star employee – one that was accommodating and easy going.

2. Fake it. Hang out for 15 minutes after my shift and pretend to clean the bathroom. It wasn’t that dirty. Nobody would catch on. Yes! I felt certain it would work. There was one small problem. Costumed Mama was incapable of cheating or lying.

3. Clean the bathroom. Oh, how it pains me to type the words.

At the end of my shift I walked into the bathroom. I surveyed the small room and inspected the condition of the toilet. Thank God for tidy coworkers. Maybe I could do it.

And then, Costumed Mama got an idea. Costumed Mama got an awful, funny, crafty idea. The words of Mary Poppins came to mind:

“In ev’ry job that must be done there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap! The job’s a game. And ev’ry task you undertake becomes a piece of cake -A lark! A spree! It’s very clear to see that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”

 And just like that – SNAP – I was excited to clean the bathroom!

I sprinkled sugar all over that bathroom!

 

 

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Oh, yes I did!

 

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Once again, Costumed Mama had turned the mundane into something fun with her unique touch and creative flair.

I walked out of the office giggling.

Who would use the bathroom next? What would they think? Would they smile or laugh or just think that someone in their presence was a wacky weirdo. Such things amuse me.

 

 

“How we all enjoy letting loose with a little la-da-da-dum-dum
While we’re emptying the vacuum out
It’s such fun to hum a happy working song
Ooh, a happy working song” – Disney’s Enchanted/Happy Working Song

Click here for the Happy Working Song video. It’s the best!

 

 

You Want Me To Do What?

“I’d do anything for you dear. Anything. For you mean everything 
to me.” – Oliver(the musical)

 

I’d been on the streets for two months and things were getting old. The props, the music, the weather… something needed to change. I was bored, but what more could I do? I had another month to go. I had better figure something out.

Finally the hour hand had reached 12, and I’d made it through another cold and dreary shift. I gathered up my supplies and trekked back to the tax office to clock out. Maybe I’d get lucky and be put on a three-hour shift next week instead of the usual four hours. I could go for that kind of change.

I perused the schedules posted on the manager’s door. The Tax preparers’ hours were first followed by the marketers’ and then the wavers’. I was assigned my usual three days and my usual four-hour shift. At least I had a couple days off and with any luck I’d get a  – Whoa…Whoa… Whoa…WAIT – JUST – A – MINUTE.

What was my name doing on the schedule just below wavers? I read the title printed in thick red marker “Bathroom Schedule”

I gasped. No. No. It couldn’t be. There must be some mistake.

“OH. MY. GOD.” I stared wide-eyed at my name and the glaring red letters screaming “bathroom schedule.”

“What’s the matter?” a tax preparer called out from the other side of the filing cabinets.

“I’m on the bathroom schedule for Friday,” I said breathlessly.

She then went on with some explanation about how she had been tending to the bathroom but she was the only one doing it and blah, blah, blah… and then it just became Charlie Brown teacher babble. “Wah wah wah wah…”

I couldn’t concentrate. I had my own dialogue going on in my head. I’d made it through the biggest snow, the coldest temperatures, the long hours, the wind and rain and humiliation, and now they wanted Lady Liberty to trade in her torch for a toilet brush?

No. It was over. My fitness goal… paying off my son’s medical bills… following through until the end …. my bonus! – All down the bathroom drain.

The tax preparer stopped talking. There was silence for a moment.

“Well, I don’t know what I’m going to do about this,” I muttered and finally pulled myself away from the door.

This newest development could prove to be my biggest obstacle yet. A note explained that those on bathroom duty could clock in 15 minutes before scheduled shift or stay 15 minutes after. When I calculated how much I would earn mopping the floor and scrubbing the fixtures I was almost brought to tears.

Of course someone had to clean the bathroom, but that responsibility was never in the professional waver’s job description. Would I have accepted the job if it was? Probably not. This could be the demise of Lady Liberty and Costumed Mama’s relationship.

I had a lot to think about. How would I approach my boss? What would she think of me? What were my options?

I left work that day with a heavy heart.

Bathroom duty was only a few days away.

What would Costumed Mama do?

 

To be continued…

 

 “Oh, I would do anything for love. I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that. No, I won’t do that” – Meatloaf

 

She’s Once… Twice… Three Times a Lady

Aside

“You can count on me like 1, 2, 3. I’ll be there
And I know when I need it, I can count on you like 4, 3, 2
You’ll be there. ‘Cause that’s what friends are supposed to do, oh yeah” – Bruno Mars/Count on Me

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I set my water bottle on the drainage grate, my hula hoop in the grass and my bag of tricks on the sidewalk. Showtime! Five minutes later another Lady Liberty joined me. Then another climbed on top of a van. A third rounded the corner moments later. We were multiplying!

It looked like Costumed Mama was part of a back-up dance crew today! The occasion: Liberty Tax Service’s Roadside Party. There was food, drink, raffles and a bounce house.

Exciting!

You know what else was exciting? I got my very first “you’re number one” sign from a driver, and it was the perfect day for it! I’m just glad I paid close attention to my Waver 101 training video on audition day, otherwise I may have misinterpreted the driver’s intention. I smiled, waved and gave the thumbs up to show my gratitude.

I then decided it was necessary to have some other “firsts” on the street.

1) I sang out loud. (Flo Rida and Truly Scrumptious wouldn’t let me hold it in anymore)

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2) I did a cart wheel. (It was the one thing on Liberty’s “Ways to Get Attention” list that I hadn’t tried)

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You want see video, don’t you? Okay. But be warned: It’s not pretty.

3) I took my pants off. (After weeks of yearning for warmer weather I finally got my wish, and now it was too hot!)

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Aren’t you glad the pants came off after the cart wheel?

And what you’ve all been waiting for…

4)     I posted some videos of Costumed Mama. (you need a laugh)

See her hoop it up here. See her do something else here.

5)     And lastly, I kissed a furry face on the job. DSCN7195Oh, wait – that might not be a first.

“I’m feeling like a star, you can’t stop my shine, I’m loving cloud nine, my head’s in the sky” – Jason Derulo/Ridin’ Solo

This Blows!

“When you walk through the storm hold your head up high. And don’t be afraid of the dark…Walk on through the wind. Walk on through the rain… Though your dreams be tossed and blown” – Oscar Hammerstein/Carousel

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“You always seems to get the crappy weather days,” The tax preparer looked up from her computer as I walked in the door.

“Really?”

We were in the heart of winter. I figured they were all crappy days.

“Guess I’m just lucky,” I grumbled and headed to the back of the office to get in costume.

As March roared in, I started to think she might be onto something. After weeks of freezing temperatures, dreary gray skies and more snow days than I could ever recall Mother Nature decided to drop in with a taste of summer. We experienced three glorious weekends in a row with temperatures in the upper 70s. Did I happen to mention I don’t work on the weekends?

By Sunday evening Mother Nature had packed up her sunny disposition and split town. The big tease! Temperatures plummeted 30 degrees overnight and some meteorologists reported a chance of more snow. Just in time for Costumed Mama to hit the streets on Monday morning.

In the midst of the worst weather WVEC Channel 13 News built an ice desk from which to broadcast their weather reports. Lady Liberty was not to be outdone. Snowplows provided her with a huge frozen pedestal at the edge of the parking lot following a big storm. (wish I had a photo) I climbed the eight- foot snow pile, my boots sinking into the fresh snow with every step. I managed to tamp down a small 4′ x 4′ level space at the top all the while fearing I’d hit a sinkhole and be swallowed by the massive iceberg. Either that or lose my footing and slide down the hill into oncoming traffic. You could call my performance that day a cross between extreme snowboarding and clumsy shuffling. Or you could just call it stupid.

I battled rain, snow, sleet, and cold temperatures, but by far the most relentless and vicious opponent was the wind.

I hate the wind.

I don’t even like the draft created by a ceiling fan. My husband and I argue over what speed to set the fan. I vote for zero. He prefers something in the tropical storm range. There were days on the street this winter when the fan was set on jet speed. You know it’s going to be a bad day when the cement filled buckets used to hold the Liberty flags are knocked over.

Wind is a bully. It ruins everything. It shows up uninvited, forces it’s way in and takes away all my toys.

A stubborn wind takes the shimmy out of my pom poms. It turns my ribbon streamer’s ballet into a krump fest. It pulls on my hula hoop and rattles my torch.

Trying to hold a sign in the wind is like arm wrestling an invisible opponent as he blows in your face the whole time.

I hate the wind.

It’s persistent in its efforts to yank my crown off. I safety pin it to my wool hat. I bobby pin it into my hair. It still pulls and tugs and won’t let go.

I hate the wind.

It’ll blow a smile off your face and bring tears to your eyes. It’ll slap your cheeks raw and whistle in delight as it bites off your nose. It violates you, piercing through clothes and seeking any small bit of exposed flesh to rip raw.

I hate the wind.

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Just when it can’t get worse, I’ve had a shit day…I think that life’s too short for this, I want back my ignorance and bliss. I think I’ve had enough of this, blow me one last kiss.” –Pink/Blow Me One Last Kiss

 

GOOD NEWS:

The weather is supposed to be perfect for Liberty Tax Service’s Roadside Party this Sunday, April 13,  2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. at 1020E N. Battlefield Blvd. Chesapeake, VA It’s the perfect opportunity to meet Costumed Mama and get your taxes done just in case you’ve waited until the last minute. There will be plenty of preparers to help you. They’re really nice and good at what they do. Even if you’ve completed your taxes already, whether on your own or with another tax preparer, Liberty Tax can double check it and make sure you got all the deductions possible. And they’ll do that free! There’s food, drink and raffle prizes too. Click here for all the details.

Liberty Shout-Outs

“Say what you wanna say and let the words fall out. Honestly I wanna see you      be brave with what you want to say” – Brave/Sara Bareilles

 

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I am a quiet person. I’m not particularly outgoing.

That may surprise some of you considering the stories I’ve told and the job I’m doing. It’s all an act. It’s my job. Similar to what I do when I’m cast in a play, I perform. I have a script so I know what to say. Give me the words and an audience, and I will accomplish the mission. With Lady Liberty I have no script, so I keep my mouth shut. I can’t even bring myself to cheer at a sporting event. I stood on the boardwalk a few weeks ago to support a friend in the Shamrock 8K. I held a sign. I had spent the previous week jumping and waving and dancing on the side of the street. Why then did I not have the courage to shout out to the runners or do anything more than shake my sign and jog in place to keep warm?

I listen to some great songs through my ipod on the street. My natural desire is to sing along, but I resist. I only do so in my head. In private, I’ve been known to dance through the house and burst into song as if my life were a Broadway musical. On the street I remain silent.

The funny thing is I have a lot to say, but the dialogue stays in my head. Yep -I just admitted to talking to myself. It’s not so crazy if I don’t do it out loud, right?

But what if I did? What if I said what I thought and let the words fall out?

It might go something like this:

To the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Truck: You have driven by me way too many times not to share. I deserve a tip and I’ll take it in ice cream sandwiches.

To about 20% of the drivers passing by: Stop texting! Just stop. You’re scaring me.

 To Bobby: I like them too!

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To the woman in the black Range Rover: You cannot eat a burrito, talk on the phone and drive all at the same time…not safely. No, you can’t.

To the man who spit on my stage: Spewing your slimy D.N.A in public is a revolting habit. And you did it in my work space! How would you like it if I peed on your desk? Maybe vomit on your living room floor? Flick a wet booger on your computer keyboard? Pop a zit on your phone? Should any of these ideas seem inappropriate to you or perhaps disgusting, I urge you to never, ever, ever purposely discharge your bodily fluids on any sidewalk, grassy area or parking lot. As for all you habitual loogie-hockers who cry, “What am I supposed to do with it?” I only have one word: SWALLOW.

To all the drivers who give me thumbs up, honk, wave and smile, especially my faithful school bus drivers and the HRT driver who always places his hand over his heart: Thank you. Be safe!

To my Station 4 Firefighters: I love you, but your horn startles me every time!

To the Tastykake delivery truck driver: I’m working hard here. Give a lady a cupcake. Please. Pretty please… with chocolate frosting on top?

To the pick-up truck driver with the “Butt Buffer” business label: Huh? I really want to know what that’s all about. Next time you come by, please drive on my side of the street. I have a new dance move I’ve dedicated to you.

To whoever left the box of “Sexual Peak Performance Tablets” on the sidewalk’s manhole (also known as my spotlight): Thank you for the kind gesture, but it seems someone got to it before I arrived at work. The pack was completely empty. That’s okay. My Acai Blueberry Energy drink mix is providing just the right amount of kick to keep my street performance at its peak. May I suggest a box of chocolates next time?

To all the cute kids in the back seats who smile and wave at Lady Liberty: Stay in school, work hard and pursue your passion, and some day you too can be flipping a sign on the street corner!

 

 “Doesn’t matter if you’re short or squat… Cerebrally challenged, completely shot. You might have it or might not. All you really have to do is… shine. Give ’em that old razzle dazzle and shine!”-Billy Elliot the Musical

Busted!

I had applied for several jobs in the past six months. Most companies hadn’t even responded to my applications, but after only a brief chat and a 15-minute audition, I left Liberty Tax Service as a new employee giddy with excitement.

Once in the car, I smashed the tiny lettered buttons on my cell phone. “I just got a job. Booyah!”

My husband greeted me later in the kitchen. “So what’s the new job?”

“Well, that’s top secret. I can’t reveal that information right now.”

I’m sure he knew what I was up to, but he was a good sport and let me have my fun.

Lady Liberty was to remain in the closet. Nobody was going to know about this –not my parents, my children, my neighbors or friends – NOBODY – the only exception, a lone confidant 500 miles away. I needed more time to come to peace with my decision and allow my positive energy to build up its charge.

No one would ever expect me to be on the street in a Statue of Liberty costume. If people I knew drove by they wouldn’t have time for a second glance, but just in case, I’d take extra precautions: face paint, sunglasses, and a hat to hide my most distinguishing features. My secret was safe.

It was only a few days into my Liberty gig when Mother Nature reared her ugly head and put all my plans in jeopardy.

The first big snow of the season started falling the night before my third day of work. The news stations were in hyper-mode as they often get when precipitation falls from the sky in Coastal Virginia. The schools had already cancelled classes. The grocery store shelves had been wiped clean of milk and bread as if the polar vortex itself had torn through the aisles.

Being a brand new employee, I wasn’t certain the protocol for extreme weather conditions, but I was determined to be prepared. I set aside a pile of clothing containing as many layers of pants, tops and outerwear that I thought could keep me warm yet still allow me to move.

I should have taken a hint from my colleague working out on Liberty Island. Does she get to step off her pedestal and stay home in bad weather? Nope.

Turns out, neither does Lady Liberty in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Similar to our mail carriers, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night (we have glow crowns) stays these wavers from the completion of their appointed duties. Interestingly, I don’t think our mail was delivered that day.

But I pounded the icy pavement in a dress and Duck Boots, and that’s pretty remarkable. That’s perseverance. That’s dedication.

That’s newsworthy!

The reporter was from the Virginian Pilot. With his shoulders hunched and hands tucked deep in his pockets he made his way through the chunky ice and slush to my spot on the sidewalk. “Can I talk to about your job out here?”

YES! Publicity for my boss! Advertising for Liberty Tax Service! This is what it’s all about! And I’d get noticed! Cool.

Oh wait… NO. I don’t want to get noticed! I was in a quandary.

The thing is I had an obligation to do my job, and that was marketing. I simply couldn’t deny the publicity. I was also pretty excited about being interviewed by a reporter. (and spending a few minutes in the warm office) Surely he could tell the story without using my name.

He couldn’t. He insisted on a surname. I had a few seconds to think, which clearly wasn’t enough time because (1) I’m not that quick on my feet, and (2) I’m a terrible liar. So in my flustered state I blurted out my maiden name. (as if that was going to cloak my identity)

Great. Now my parents could be surprised and embarrassed when they opened their newspaper that day. As a writer and journalist, I’m ashamed to admit I secretly hoped nobody else I knew had a subscription.

The rest of the day I wondered when I’d get a phone call, an email or a Facebook message reporting that the story had been spotted and my secret revealed.

I got home around 1:30 that day. I turned on the computer and clicked on my mailbox. There was a message from my husband whose subject line read, “What’s the first thing I see when my work computer opens to Pilot Online?” I opened the email and discovered only one line, an internet link containing the words, “snow-cold-cant-keep-lady-liberty-work.”

Busted.

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She’s Got The Moves Like Jagger

“In ev’ry job that must be done there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap! The job’s a game.” –  Mary Poppins/A Spoonful of Sugar

 

Wind gusts of 30 miles per hour. A forecast of freezing rain. The fleeting image of the Marva Maid truck running Costumed Mama off the road.

These thoughts would have any Liberty Waver shaking in her sandals and shackles, however there is one fear – one heart stopping, adrenaline pumping, trauma-inducing scenario that tops them all. Forgetting her music player at home.

I can’t tell you how many times my heart has skipped a beat, my stomach has twisted into knots and I’ve held my breath as I frantically searched my bag thinking that I had somehow left my iPod behind.

NOOOOOOOOOOOO

If you didn’t hear the blood-curdling scream from Battlefield Boulevard, then maybe you heard the huge sigh of relief when my fingers discovered those glorious, lifesaving ear buds entwined within the pom poms and ribbons at the bottom of my tote bag. It’s happened more than once. I’d tug at the tangled cord and reel in the line to find my sleek shimmering prize at the end.

There are two critical things you must have to make it as a professional waver: Comfortable shoes and music. I suppose you also need a hand, so make that three critical things.

With my iPod nano I hold a world of musical inspiration in the palm of my hand as well as an invitation for Grammy award winners, Broadway stars and country music singers to join me on the streets. They motivate me to shimmy, spin, jump and rock those honk-worthy dance moves.

Music makes a world of difference. I don’t think I could do the job without it. I don’t want to try. My customized playlists provide a number of Lady Liberty soundtracks. What I choose depends on my mood, energy level or type of performance.

There’s the Liberty Sing and Dance playlist which is a compilation of all my favorite fun, sing-a-long, dance-inducing music including Gaga, Bruno, Pink, the Peas, Macklemore, Usher, Pitbull and Pharrell to name a few. It’s a pretty eclectic mix. One moment I’m a Dancing Queen with Abba, the next I’m shaking my pom poms with Ricky Martin. I follow that with some Magic with my assistant B.O.B. and wrap things up by burning up the dance floor with Sean Kingston. Can someone call 9-1-1? I love my 80s pop so I’ve got a fair share of Madonna, Culture Club and Michael Jackson. My ladies, Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Beyoncé join in the fun too.

Oh, and you might be surprised how inspiring Taylor, Justin, the boys of One Direction and Hannah Montana can be on a chilly morning. That’s right. I Party in the USA! I’m not afraid to put my hands up when they’re playing my song. You know what I’m talking about. When the butterflies fly away I’m noddin’ my head like yeah… movin’ my hips like yeah.

As if I haven’t embarrassed myself enough on the street and on the Internet, I have now admitted to having the musical taste of a teeny bopper. Don’t hate. Four hours on the streets might make you a Belieber too! (Never say never)

My Liberty Showtunes is a fabulous playlist for slowing it down but still providing incredible inspiration with fun and dramatic lyrics. I have a great time dancing to these songs because they tell stories and I can be very expressive. I realize that by listening through headphones I’m in my own private world. Because nobody on the street hears my music I imagine I look like a complete fool, but I’m getting the job done and I’m keeping it fun. I’m just glad this dance studio doesn’t have any mirrors because if I saw how crazy I looked, I would stop. For now, I live with an illusion that I’m Interpreting and performing these songs like a Broadway diva or chorus line dancer. It’s awesome. Look for me at the Tony Awards in June. I’ve pranced down the entire stretch of sidewalk dancing in the rain with an umbrella. I’ve kick stepped and given them the old razzle-dazzle with Shine from Billy Elliot. Some other favorites that put an extra spring in my step are Chu-Chi Face, I am What I Am, Let’s Go Fly a Kite, and That’s How You Know.

My Liberty Country playlist invites such artists as Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood and Jason Aldean to help me carry the torch. Some old timers join in too like John Denver, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and Charlie Daniels. Their music changes things up and provides a break from the high-energy tunes. Several of them still get me grooving but others are just nice to listen to when I’m walking and waving. Hula hooping too! Some of my favorites are Redneck Woman, Good Girl, New Favorite Memory, Remind Me, My Eyes, Drunk on You, Love her Like She’s Leavin’ … Okay, too many to list. Country music is very romantic!

I should add that I am not a good dancer. I know it. I don’t let that stop me from giving it all I’ve got. I think of it as an opportunity to practice. I put myself in the mindset that I really am a great dancer. In other words – I have fun.

This job has allowed me to let it all hang out, experiment and put a smile on people’s faces. In some cases it turns into a big laugh. I like to watch the audience for reactions. Mostly it’s waving back, honking horns and the occasional shout out. A few dance in their cars or out their windows, but I think this is mostly to make fun of me. That’s okay too.

I especially like to play with people. On the days when it’s very cold, windy or rainy I imagine the drivers think it ridiculous for me to be out in the miserable weather, and that’s when I put on my biggest smile, muster up as much energy as I can and act like I am so excited to be doing what I’m doing. The show gets really good then. My expressions are exaggerated. My waves are enthusiastic. My moves are creative, and I am so thrilled to see you. Yes, you! The lady in the white mini van sipping a smoothie. The delivery driver on the phone. The man picking his nose in the red Camry. I try to make eye contact with as many people as possible, and within that brief second, I attempt to convince them that I am so happy to see them. I want to have an effect, however small, whether it’s helping to imprint the Liberty brand, instigating a smile or providing an unexpected surprise. Some drivers appear confused. I think they’re just left wondering, searching for an answer – kind of like when I used to drive by the wavers, and that’s a good thing.

 

“I feel the adrenaline moving through my veins…Spotlight on me and I’m ready to break. I’m like a performer; the dance floor is my stage. Better be ready, hope that ya feel the same.” – Britney Spears/Circus

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 My all time favorite song that pumps me up and engages me with the audience is Bruno Mars’ “Marry You.”

What song do you like to dance or workout to?