Facing Your Fears: A Tribute to My Mom

Rosa Kwon Easton backstage at Expressing Motherhood event

The hallway is dark, the walls filled with scribbles by former performers, and I’m waiting to go on stage. I ask myself, why did I volunteer to put myself out there in front of a packed theater when I could be home doing something safe, like walking my dog? Speaking of dogs, I go over my lines and movements, imitating my mom trying to stop a neighbor’s dog from pooping in our yard. My mom didn’t speak English so she used body language to communicate. I visualize myself pretending to be my mom:  “Geumanhae!” “Stop!” pinching my nose and squatting.

I am performing in a show called Expressing Motherhood, and I am telling a story of my mom and our life as new immigrants in the early 70’s. My parents worked odd jobs, and as a typical eight year-old, I just wanted my family to be like everyone else’s. I was ashamed that my mom couldn’t speak English and mispronounced words all the time. But my mom’s actions demanding that a neighbor stop her dog from going to the bathroom in our ivy bushes changed my view of my mom. Even though she didn’t have the language or power to make a difference, I discovered my mom had gumption. And I realized I could have it too.

Rosa Kwon Easton on stage at Expressing Motherhood event

The point is that I learned to face my fears from my mom. She fought for something despite her limitations and she succeeded on her own terms. So as I waited backstage, I imagined my mom deciding to leave the only home she knew at age 36 with three young children in tow to make a better life for her family in a new country. I took a deep breath and willed myself to go out there and do something completely out of my comfort zone, just as she did. My mom watched my performance and cried. Thanks mom!

Rosa Kwon Easton and her mother

I am grateful to all of my family and friends who encouraged me behind the scenes, and who came out to support me in person and in spirit! I especially want to thank my friend and acting coach Jenn Robbins, who worked with me tirelessly to communicate this story, to invite the audience in. The written word and spoken word are very different, as I quickly learned. We laughed a lot during the process!

The cast of Expressing Motherhood April/May 2019

This show was incredible. Kudos to Lindsay Kavet, who has been producing and directing Expressing Motherhood since 2008. She selected each story, decided on the lineup, supplied the background music, and most importantly, believed in us. The stories captured the pain and joy of motherhood and moved us to feel empathy and gratitude. My fellow performers were talented, beautiful and brave. It was a wonderful way to celebrate Mother’s Day.

Cast of Expressing Motherhood April 2019

The Expressing Motherhood podcast is on Spotify and iTunes and will feature my performance and others from this cast soon. Please subscribe, listen and leave a review. In the meantime, enjoy these photos and go to my Instagram and Facebook pages for more (thank you to fellow cast members Aleyna Minamoto and Stephanie Wiley for the professional photos!). I got a big laugh when my 19 year-old daughter commented on my Instagram post showing the photos of me in various animated positions and saying “I get it from my mama!”


Without further ado, here is a friend’s video of my performance (thank you Susan Kim!). Happy Mother’s Day!

2019-07-12T18:57:58-07:00May 6th, 2019|Uncategorized|

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  1. Theresa May 8, 2019 at 2:24 am

    I so loved the recap of your experience with Expressing Motherhood. I very much enjoyed watching you and hearing the story about your mother. What a tribute for Mother’s Day. And the icing on the cake was the sweet nod of approval from your daughter. My dad is from the Philippines and I grew up in Appalachia. I remember when he would get pulled over all the time by the police when he was driving. I was always so embarrassed because he would pretend he didn’t speak or understand English and they would often just let him go. Growing up I always thought he was just a bad driver and I didn’t understand why they would call him names. As I look back, now I know he was likely being profiled, maybe harassed. And he never complained and never spoke badly about them. And I have to laugh now at his strategy of pretending not to understand while a part of me hurts for what he endured. Congrats on your bravery in sharing your story! And thank you for giving me a lens for which to view my own.

    • Rosa May 8, 2019 at 4:27 am

      Thank you for sharing your story Theresa! I feel for your dad and what he must have gone through living in Appalachia when people probably viewed him as an outsider. As a daughter, I can understand your pain in what he must have endured and what he kept silent. There is humor in it though because of his resourcefulness in pretending he didn’t understand English in the face of danger. There is so much humanity in your story. Laughter and tears go hand in hand! I appreciate your watching my performance and for your heartfelt comment! Your support means so much!!

  2. Jennifer Chappell May 8, 2019 at 4:03 am

    Hi Rosa,
    You, your mother, and that performance are all so beautifully fierce and fiercely beautiful! I am grateful to know you!
    Thank you for sharing,

    • Rosa May 8, 2019 at 4:32 am

      I appreciate your enthusiastic comment! Thank you for reading my post and watching my performance. You are fierce yourself and I am honored to know you Jennifer!

  3. Carol May 10, 2019 at 11:51 pm

    Good morning, Rosa! What a blessing you gave me by enabling me to watch the video of your performance! I was so sad to have missed it, and this morning I got the chance to witness your courage and victory. I’m so so proud of you, dear friend. Your performance was moving, excellent, inspiring, but even more so is your courage and vulnerability. You encourage me to step out and present my true self every moment of this one wild and wonderful life.

    • Rosa May 12, 2019 at 12:08 am

      Hi Carol and thank you for your comment! I’m so grateful for your friendship and support. You also encourage me to stay true to myself. If we can push each other to be vulnerable, we will be certain to live a more wholehearted life. I’m so glad to be on this journey with you!

  4. Teri May 11, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    I cried too! Rosa, this is a stunning piece. I laughed, cried, and cheered with you and your mom, and for you and your mom. Excellent.

    • Rosa May 12, 2019 at 12:12 am

      Teri, I’m so touched that you cried! I wish you could have been in that audience. You would have enjoyed the show tremendously. I felt you in spirit though! I always know you are with me whenever I’m putting myself out there with my writing. I’m trying to follow your lead. So happy for all your successes with your books and I hope to be following in your footsteps soon!

  5. Bennette September 27, 2019 at 3:24 am

    Dearest Rosa,

    You continue to astound me with you endeavors and accomplishments. I am forever proud of you and even more proud to call you my friend. I wish you continued success and the very best in all that you do.

    Unfortunately (and I say this with much agony) I will not be in town to attend the event at The Red Onion. It’s my niece’s wedding weekend in Palm Desert. I would have loved to attend! And congratulations once again on your appointment to the Library Board of Trustees. They have certainly gained a very valuable asset! I too learned English by reading and sitting in my school’s library during the lunch hours. While other children played, I befriended our librarian (Mrs. Lovejoy, very aptly named since she further instilled in me my lifelong love for reading) at my middle school and found myself lost in books, to use an old cliche.

    I ran into her at a play very recently (she had hardly changed). She was sitting right behind me. During intermission, I turned around and called her by her name. She was very surprised. I told her I used to sit in her library, help her with the shelving of books, I drew posters for her, sharpened her pencils, and…read literally everything I could get my hands on. It was an oasis for a very shy immigrant. I told her it was because of her that I went on to earn my MA in Literature. It was such a wonderful and providential “we’ve come full circle” moment. I got the chance to thank her properly, which is something I had subconsciously rehearsed in my mind over the years.

    Hope to see you all soon! My love to Mark and the kids,


    • Rosa December 6, 2019 at 6:16 pm

      Dear Bennette,
      I apologize for my long delay in replying as your comment got posted to an older post. It seems timely though since my latest post was about libraries – my happy place! Your story of the librarian who changed your life was amazing. How wonderful that you ran into her recently and had a chance to thank her! I’m so glad we share another bond – our love of libraries!
      Enjoy the holidays my friend!

  6. Deborah North September 27, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    You are an amazing woman and I’m proud to call you my friend . I loved your Expressing Motherhood performance and I’m so thrilled we all got to be there!

    • Rosa September 27, 2019 at 5:01 pm

      Thank you Deborah! That was such a fun night and I’m so grateful that you all came to the show!

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