All our truly worthwhile adventures begin with a crazy dream. Here goes:
The only thing I’ve ever wanted to do in my life was to pen a great Christmas song; A song that would take its place next to all the great Christmas songs on the radio. I’ve had this dream since I was a child. Like most childhood fantasies, real life wakes you up and sets you on the road to practicality. I did grow up in New York City after all, not an easy place to make it – let alone dream.
Christmas’ throughout my life has always been filled with music and memories; Take your pick…how about the piney scent of Christmas trees and the wonderful, warm reunions with family members that never seem to materialize except for the holidays. For as long as I can remember, I appreciated the wondrous magic of the season, and I kept a special place in my heart for all those great Christmas songs that played on the radio. Music, and the songwriters who shared their gifts, became a huge part of my DNA; A key component to not only my happiness, but an indelible Christmas cookie crumb trail, if you will, leading to who I was as a person. I wanted nothing more than to commemorate this Christmas dream before my time.
Truthfully, I had multiple shots to make it in the music business. For every step forward, there was an equal number of failures. I was signed when I was 15 years old to C&C Music Factory. 6 years later, and with a pair of shelved albums notched on my music resume, I knew it was time to do some soul searching. When I was released from my record deal at 21, I moved into my own apartment and started to think about the future.
About a month later, September 11th changed everything. I grew up with my family in the shadows of the Twin Towers, and for most of that fateful day, I thought my parents had died in the attack. Fortunately, they did not, but were left homeless from the tragedy, and my mother became traumatized by the terrible events of that day. Everything I ever dreamed, or wanted, related to music — suddenly seemed like a frivolous pursuit.
So like any good daughter, I moved on; Time to let go of the music and join the real world. So I did.
Hey, I did pretty well. In fact a year ago today, I was an executive level a**kicker at one of the world’s premier media companies. To most people, you might say I was living the American dream. I had the corner office, was on the high-end of the salary grid, and recipient of all the perks and benefits that go with it. Yet, there was a void. I was depleted; Devoid of passion; I had excelled at every position and/or mission on my radar, but still ached to fulfill my deeper calling of becoming a songwriter. Oh Christmas music where art thou?
In the past, I often remarked to my husband and friends about my Christmas dream. As always, they would nod and commiserate, but I soon found out spilling your guts about a ‘crazy’ dream (particularly a Holiday-themed one) is a lot like that friend who keeps talking about opening a bar in the Bahamas; It’s stuff you say…not a thing you do!
Until I did it.
Incredibly, the stars aligned. It took an extraordinarily bad meeting – an hellacious encounter which made me stagger out of the room and wonder if there was anything else on earth I could be doing with my life. After downing drinks with colleagues, and lamenting the same – I drunkenly stumbled onto a job listings site. It was there I found the link to a site called Failure Club, which proposed the question, “If you could eliminate your fear of failure today – what would you accomplish?” In my most naked state of despair (and maybe a smidgen of daring chutzpah thrown in) – despite my trolling for a new job – I sent an email to the website declaring my dream to write a Christmas song…uh, with the caveat that maybe I could also learn to play the guitar.
I didn’t know this at the time, but the site’s founder was working with acclaimed filmmaker Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me, 30 Days) and would go onto produce a documentary series of the same name. The idea of the club and webseries centers on the fear of failure; something I was definitely struggling with at the time. I joined the cast of the Failure Club and began my mission of becoming a world famous Christmas songwriter, but with millions of people scrutinizing my every move.
Talk about long odds: I hadn’t sung a note in a decade. Had never written a Christmas song.. ever, and I didn’t even know how to tune a guitar. Every day, I chipped away at my fears and started to build an arsenal of melodies. I posted my work on YouTube so I would learn how to share my dream despite how great or how bad these songs really were. I hung Christmas ornaments on all my wall hooks, watched Christmas movies and listened to Christmas music during every spare moment I had. Lo and behold…. One morning I woke up and realized I had written 200 Christmas songs.
It was at that point, six months ago, I decided to walk away from the safety of my day job and face my fear of failing straight on with reckless abandon.
Fast forward to a year later, I’m fortunate to be able to have inspired hundreds of thousands of people to go after their dream, by leaving myself hangin’ out there, baby, for the entire world to see; To watch me fail…or succeed…. But something wonderful happened. I didn’t fail. For once in my life, I’m exactly in the right place at the right time.
My very first Christmas album, Naughty & Nice, debuted at #4 charted on iTunes and is currently a top 50 featured Holiday Album. The first single, “A Christmas Song,” premiered on a Townsquare station in Duluth, Mn. My Christmas music (and pursuing my Christmas dream) helped me to learn how actualize a better me. The best part about my new career is that I get to write more Christmas music all over again next year, and continue to share my incredible dream with all of you