Two years ago my life was in chaos.

I returned from an out-of-state funeral to find our apartment had flooded. Water was everywhere, destroying a rug, sofa, and the wood floor. It took over a year to get someone out to finally replace it.

Last fall, renovations were just beginning. We moved all of the furniture into one room so the floor could be stripped and replaced. In the middle of it all, I was putting together a tour.

It was a challenging and frustrating time. It’s never fun to deal with contractors or file insurance claims or coordinate with a condo association, and we were doing it every single day for over a year. Plus, I was trying to work on my new show.

I always like to storyboard my act out so I have a visual idea of what to expect. So imagine me crammed into a small section of the bedroom, sandwiched between the dresser and sofa, affixing post-it notes to a large poster board while workers pried up floorboards in the adjoining room. That was the only way I could work.

My storyboard is simple - larger notes represent specific parts of the shows (one color for Mind Reading, one color for Monologues) and smaller notes represent moments (Music Cues, Jokes, Storytelling devices, etc.). It always takes a while to get the layout started but once it falls into place I have a colorful, concise outline of what I want to put onstage.

As furniture moved from room to room, the storyboard got lost in the shuffle. I told myself I’d get back to it after the floor was finished. There were more pressing things to worry about, so my show was quickly misplaced and forgotten.

It’s very easy to put my creative projects on hold. I promise myself I’ll “start that tomorrow” even though I usually end up being too busy to ever begin. The realities of being an adult are often all-consuming. All of my artistic endeavors often get pushed off to one side so I can complete other tasks. Sometimes you can mentally multi-task and other times your ideas get lost in the shuffle so you can finally have your apartment back together.

Last week I was rearranging my home office and there, inside an art portfolio, behind some other projects, was that original storyboard. The post-its were faded but the ideas were still there. Columns of concepts, still intact, waiting to be lifted off the page.

I sighed, frustrated by the thought of another delayed endeavor. Then it hit me:

That storyboard was the making of this year’s show. I had actually accomplished everything without even realizing it. In the midst of the chaos, I had somehow managed to finish everything on the board. There are only a few, minor changes but what I’d hoped to be doing last fall is the show I travelled with this year.

I’m always happiest when I’m fully immersed in a creative project. Head down, writing and researching - even if I’m surrounded by all of the furniture I own and there are workers pounding away in the other room - that’s how I love to spend my time.

At the time it seemed like the home projects were overshadowing my creative exploits, but now I realize it was actually the opposite. I was actually trying to create and write and dream and perform to move through the chaos and have something to work towards. It just took me until now to realize that the chaos of the past couple years was actually the start of my 2018 Chicago Theatre award-winning show.

Sometimes it takes a long time to realize that you’re doing the things you once dreamt of doing. Sometimes it takes a while to understand that you’re exactly where you need to be. Sometimes it’s a year and sometimes it’s even longer.

Give thanks today for how far you’ve come and what you did to get here. Be grateful for those that helped and the ones that made you stronger by standing in your way.

I’m thankful for finding ways to deal with the chaos and knowing that someday, somehow I’ll end up making sense of it all.

I hope you do, too.

As always, I’m going to take a break from Thursday Thoughts while my travel schedule picks up over the holidays. Thanks for reading and see you in 2019.

Giving Thanks

I will never get used to the idea that I get paid to travel the world and blow people’s minds. As a three-year-old in my small hometown, my dream was to do just that. And somehow I grew up and found a way to make it happen.

My first homemade business card circa 1993. I never wanted to do anything else.

My first homemade business card circa 1993. I never wanted to do anything else.

I’m on a quest, in pursuit of my best show and my best self onstage. I’m working on secret projects and posting public essays, all while traveling from city to city reading people’s minds.

I’m doing what I always wanted…but I will never get used to it.

I value each moment onstage, each early morning flight or late night commute. I treasure the jet lag and limited legroom. I live for it. It’s what I’ve always dreamt of and I can’t get enough of it.

You won’t find me phoning it in next week, next year, or three decades from now. I will never take this for granted.

So as we enjoy another annual feast, while counting down to the impeachment, I have a lot to be thankful for this year:

The Mystery Tour
• My family
• My cats (especially the one that almost died)
• New friends from the fringe
• Seeing some of the best shows I’ve ever seen
• Seeing some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been
• Meeting my heroes
Persisting and resisting

But mostly, I’m thankful for YOU.

If you’ve ever read one of my posts…

If you’ve ever purchased a ticket to my show…

If you’ve ever sent me a message to discuss my work…

If you ever told me I was good enough (you know who you are!) when I didn’t believe it myself…

If you’ve ever booked me for your event…

If you’ve ever sat in the audience and given me a small fraction of your valuable time on this planet…

Thank you.