Friday, March 23, 2012

Join me at Relay for Life of Sanford

It’s that time of year. It’s the 6th annual Relay for Life of Sanford, set to begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 30 at the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford. While many communities worldwide hosts Relays, Sanford’s unique location makes it the perfect location to enjoy a fun-filled night.
Imagine being able to take a night-time tour of the zoo for only $5 per person. Since most of the zoo’s residents are nocturnal it is a great opportunity to see these animals up close and active. Many are being fed while others are busy roaming their areas. During my first nocturnal tour several years ago, I was able to see the kangaroos hopping about their area. It was a “first time experience for me,” that is, seeing these amazing animals jump from place to place so gracefully. 
For those who enjoy adventure with a more physical touch, the zip line is open in the early evening hours for a reduced price. Guests can climb around the zip line (an abbreviated course) and test various skills high above the crowds working their way through Relay. For many, this is a wonderful opportunity to try the zip line without paying the usual fees. 
Families can enjoy the train and the younger ones can have fun in the early evening hours at the park’s splash zone. There’s a DJ on hand plus there will be live musical performances throughout the night.
Starting at 9 p.m. the lights go down and the mood turns somber. It’s time for Luminaria. This is the only time when Relayers are quiet -- spending approximately 30 minutes remembering those who have lost their cancer battle and thinking of those who continue to fight or who have been cured. Soft music and a video will highlight this special ceremony. 
Afterwards, the bright lights return and the music is now blasting from the speakers -- it’s time to crown Ms. Relay! Yes, while some very dedicated Relayers (men dressed in drag) try to collect the most amount of money from the crowds, it is also a chance to laugh and see “the humorous side of cancer.” From here, there are plenty of fun activities to enjoy as a spectator or to participate in. From pie eating contests to crazy hat laps -- from trivia to a silly song fest. Anything can and does happen throughout the hours of the night. Although very few will get any sleep, some manage to climb into tents and get a couple of hours of rest. I usually stretch out onto a lounge chair, shut my eyes and listen to the music and sounds coming from all around me.  
By early morning, there is dew all around -- and the smell of fresh brewed coffee. The zoo team whips up a buffet breakfast for only $5 per person. Teams gather to refresh and regroup before preparing for the final hours and the official wrap up ceremony. 
Relay is special. But, the Sanford Relay and its “roots” at the zoo provide a special place where a good time can be enjoyed while also feeling at one with nature. It is certainly the perfect combo -- and one of the reasons I have chosen to make the Relay for Life of Sanford at the Central FL Zoo my place to Relay each year. 
This year my team, Circle of Hope, has done an extraordinary job by holding a number of fundraisers since early fall. At this time, we have raised nearly $2,500. (We expect to reach this amount the night of Relay and thus be honored as a Bronze team.) I would like to take this opportunity to acknowlege the amazing individuals who make up my team: Adrienne McIntosh, Blair Townley, Curtis Hoffman, Edward Feldman, Elaine Raymond, Gary Wattman, Glen Steinfeld, Michael Wattman and Terry Hoffman. My heartfelt thanks to all of them. I also want to thank the many locations that have allowed us to hold fundraisers this year. Sincere thanks to: Jersey Mike’s, Miller’s Ale House, Cork & Olive, Gator’s, Joe’s Crab Shack and Casey’s Grill. We have also held a Zumba for Relay at the Lake Mary YMCA and participated in two Relay wide events, a chili cook off and a yard sale. On the night of Relay, my team will be offering up homemade mac & cheese, a chance drawing Dine Around Package (with gift cards to various restaurants, a prize package worth $100s of dollars), hair extensions and basic cuts by Jackie Garcia & HCI Salon, chair massages, Bibbi’s Jewelry and accessories (jewelry, handbags, great gift ideas), Leo’s Italian Ice Factory (assorted flavors), Kathy Palva’s and Joe’s Crab Shack. 
If you have not made your donation to the 2012 Relay for Life you can do so by visiting:   Then, look for Team Circle of Hope or visit my site, Marilyn Wattman-Feldman. (Team Captain) 
I personally continue cancer treatments, something I must do until “the cure is found.” Let’s make this the year that your “dollar” makes the difference. From everyone who has ever heard the words “You have cancer” I say, “Thanks.” 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Me - Becoming a Playwright?

(This blog pertains to events that occurred in late 2007/early 2008.) 
In late 2007, my son Brian sat me down and had a short yet very important discussion with me. He told me, “Mom, you’re a writer. And writers, write.” That was something I had not done in years. During the deepest time within my years of depression, I stopped writing. While many professionals suggest journaling as great way to deal with stress and serious health issues, I could barely string two words together in a sentence. I kept a few journals but they were sporadic and quite limited in information. Plus, I rarely wrote in the books. When I did, my words made very little sense. Most of the words were just put down in some random order -- nothing logical and certainly nothing worthy of any mention. If I read what I had written, I barely understood what I had put down. There was no logic; my writings were those of a “mad woman” riddled with pain and living in a world of heavy drugs to ease that pain. 
Brian helped me apply for a literature grant with United Arts of Central Florida. That process was far from easy, however, so Brian assisted through every step. He explained how I would apply for the grant and told me I may not get it. But, he still wanted me to pursue it, and to do the project regardless of whether I received the grant or not. This was simply a vehicle to get me started. Filling out the application was difficult for me. Remember, my brain was still foggy. I could not fully comprehend every question asked on the forms, so Brian was there to explain. I wrote the entire application myself, but Brian was on hand to guide me -- to make sure I answered every question and to ensure I stated my reasons for wanting the grant, etc. in a logical manner. And, when it was time to state my case before the panel -- the adjudication process, I was absolutely terrified. 
I stood there before a panel of three professionals -- all highly respected members of the arts community in Orlando. One of the panelists was a theater professor at the community college where Brian and Adrienne had taken classes. I knew this individual; he was a well trained actor, director and playwright. How in the world did I expect to convince him that I, Marilyn Wattman-Feldman, could write a play? That’s right! I had decided to write a play, that was my grant request. I was asking for money to help me write a play and take that play to a pubic play-reading -- all within a 12 month period of time. 
Even a trained professional would have challenges with this project, let alone someone who had never written a play. Oh, I did a short script during a college creative writing class. That was the total sum of my play-writing experience. And, I was the mother of two talented thespians. Plus, I had actually judged play-writing at the local/district level of Thespian competitions during my daughter’s high school years and time with Lake Howell’s Theater company and membership in Thespian troupe 4937. As a writer, I had been asked (last minute) to help with judging one year and the second year, I had actually been asked back to judge again. Much to my surprise. But, to actually write a play myself. Who in the world did I think I was? 
As I stood there, before this trio of real pros, I realized I had no idea why they should award me this grant. Why should they give me the money to do this project? After all, I was really clueless. But, I had to convince them otherwise, or so I was told by Brian. Again, he was there to get me through this ordeal. And, he reminded me, it did not matter if I got it or not. At least, I tried. That, he told me, was a big step in the right direction. So, based on that, I stood before them and attempted to answer their questions.