February is all about love. Sure, we celebrate the loves in our life….(partners, family and friends) but I wonder if February is a perfect time to find out how much we love our lives?
Of course, January is the perfect month to take stock in your year, make changes and make some solid resolutions, but how many of these resolutions stick? And how many of these resolutions have to do with how much we LOVE our lives?
Everyone is talking about Marie Condo and how things around us are supposed to bring us joy, and that if they don’t bring joy, we need to let them go. But how many times have you looked at your life and thought, “I’m living the life I’ve always wanted and I love it?”….Maybe it’s time to think about changing your life to make sure it brings you joy.
Five and a half years ago my life looked great….on paper. I was working at the Anderson Cooper show as a warm up comedian, still performing stand up on the weekends and raising three beautiful kids….but I didn’t love it. Frankly, I didn’t even like it.
I spent most days driving home from my “great” job in the city crying because my boss (not Andersen) spent every day telling me how awful I was. He wouldn’t talk to me directly but would tell people standing next to me to tell me something. It was humiliating and soul crushing. I wasn’t doing much stand up because I was exhausted from getting up at four in the morning and not getting home until eight at night. At the same time, my daughter was suffering with debilitating anxiety and wouldn’t go to school unless I sat in the office, across from her third grade classroom, so she could see me. I was definitely not loving my life…..but I was making good money and my life looked….well, good.
Deep down…I hated it…or maybe more correctly stated, “I didn’t love it.” I didn’t think I was doing a good job at stand up because most days I was too tired to care. The guilt and helplessness I had over my daughter’s anxiety was overwhelming and I was starting to actually believe my boss…that I just sucked.
Thankfully, when I’m feeling my worst, my mom’s voice always pops into my mind….
“What other people think about you is none of your business. You know what you are capable of. No one gets to tell you what you’re worth.”
That’s what I thought about the last day I drove home crying. I had reached my limit. Anderson’s show had been cancelled and I just thought, “Maybe God sent me this awful boss to give me the kick I needed.” I don’t know if I would have made the change I needed to make WITHOUT him being so mean. I guess in some weird way, I should thank him. (I won’t….because he’s an a**hole….but it’s a nice thought.)
I quit warm-up after the Anderson show. I trained another great comic to take my place and decided I had a lot more to say to the world that just doing warm up. I re-launched “One Funny Mother” that fall in New Orleans and dedicated all my time to getting my daughter back on track. Little did I know that would be a full time job and that, again, if I hadn’t quit my job, I wouldn’t have been able to care for her the way she needed me to.
It definitely wasn’t easy. I hired my friend Donna and we sat at my kitchen table every day for three years trying to get “One Funny Mother” Off Broadway. I was making enough money to pay her, but it was a slow grow for sure. Now, it’s five years later. I have eight employees and I can definitely say I’m loving my life…and not in the “Look at me now!” kind of way, cause I definitely have days where I just want to run away but I’m happy the direction my life is headed.
I don’t know that anyone that can say, “I love my life! Everything! The dog shit, the carpool line, the making of the brownies for every freaking school fundraising, the “I haven’t seen your boobs in a month” way!” But I think if you can say….”I love where this is going….” you’ll be okay. I just knew that surrounding myself with toxic people, driving five hours a day and feeling like I wasn’t there when my daughter needed me, wasn’t right.
I’m am also a big believer that “work begets work.” Let me explain…I definitely believe in “paying your dues.” I did it for ten years in stand-up but at some point, when you’ve paid enough dues you have to realize that whatever you are doing now….is just going to get you more of what you’re doing.
For the last ten years, I was the Host of the Miss America Pageant Preliminaries and I loved it. Part of my job was the do warm-up for the national broadcast on Saturday nights when they brought in the “real” hosts. It was the only time I did warm-up each year. One year the production company that worked on the show approached me after we wrapped and said, “Dena, we just love you! We all work on America’s Got Talent and….” Before he could finish my heart jumped! I thought, “Oh my gosh, these guys could help me get an audition!” and it was so exciting!!! Until he finished with….”And we thought you’d be a great warm-up for the show.” Wah Wah.
My heart sunk. I thought, “I can’t believe that you guys have watched me host the Miss America pageant for three days and the most impressive thing I had done was warm up!! And it hit me. Work begets work. If you’re still doing warm-up, you’re a warm-up. If you’re working as a singer, you’re a singer. Some times STILL doing things that we don’t want to do just gets us more things we DON’T want to do. Sometimes we need a clean break. That day I made my clean break. I never did warm-up again.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m definitely a believer in doing what you have to do to survive, and I LOVED my days in warm-up (aside from the mean boss). But when you’re at the moment where you DON’T have to take every job, when you CAN be choosy…..are you choosing to do something that makes you happy? Are you choosing to do something that you love?
Perhaps this February it’s time to ask yourself if you LOVE your life? Your job? Who you’re with? And if the answer is no….perhaps it’s time to make a change.