When I was in high school, I got into Queen—I mean really into Queen (I had a copy of A Night at the Opera well before Wayne’s World re-popularized Bohemian Rhapsody). While I loved Freddie’ Mercury’s vocals, it was guitarist Brian May who hooked me.  There is something magical about his guitar playing and I remember fiddling with my guitar and amp for hours trying to mimic his tone, but I faced two problems—I had crappy equipment and I really couldn’t play the guitar all that well (the latter being the more significant of the two).

I was excited when their album Innuendo came out during my senior year. These were the days when an album release was a big deal. You had to drive to a record store, where maybe you reserved a copy a few weeks before, and actually purchase a physical copy of it. It was an event! I had a little ritual I would do with each new album—I’d open it up and devour the liner notes before listening to the first track. It was like I was Indiana Jones looking for clues in his father’s Grail diary—I always wanted to get into a band’s head before listening to a new album to uncover some kind of deeper meaning to the songs. It’s sad to me that this isn’t a thing anymore, but I digress.

At the time, I didn’t imagine it would be their last studio album. Sure, there were rumors swirling about Freddie Mercury’s health, but the thought of losing such a talent was so sad to me that I refused to believe he didn’t have much time left. Then I saw the video for These are the Days and it became clear to me that the rumors were true; he looked so frail and was, in fact, seriously ill. He died not long after that album was released.

I’ve been trying to see Bohemian Rhapsody, the Queen biopic, since it came out a few weeks ago, but haven’t been able to make it to the theatre. To gear up for it, though, I’ve been listening to a lot of Queen—both the standards and the more obscure stuff that you’ll never hear on the radio. One such song can be found on Innuendo, The Show Must Go On.

It was written by Brian May and inspired by Freddie Mercury’s declining health. To me it’s a song about accepting the challenges that you face but not letting them conquer or define you—and not giving in to the sweet temptation of playing the victim. Winners push forward. Always.

The Show Must Go On.

When I was pushed back into the world of self-employment two years ago, it would have been very easy for me to adopt a victim’s mentality. I was blindsided about being let go—while I knew the company I was working for faced significant challenges, I was given assurances that I was safe—someone looked me directly in the eyes and said, “You will have nothing to worry about.” I made the mistake of believing him.

So yes, a month after that false promise went from his lips to my ears, I could have taken the news that my services would no longer be needed by rolling over and not finishing my projects and leaving my clients in a lurch. I didn’t do that. Nor did I start blaming other people for my situation. Instead, I finished up my projects, chose to write a business plan, and drafted a new sales presentation. I then smiled and dialed. 

The Show Must Go On.

It worked. Old clients took meetings. New clients came forward. I never gave up. Success followed.

I look back and choose to believe that being let go two years ago was one of the greatest gifts I received that year. My business is now thriving, and I enjoy the thrill that comes with knowing I have no choice but to be successful. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me.

The Show Must Go On.

But here’s the thing, I’ve spent so much time building a business and keeping a family afloat that I lost something along the way. I lost me. I’ve been neglecting my health. I’m not exercising enough, and most of the things I choose to eat can be found on a kid’s menu. I’m tired all the time and always feel as if there isn’t enough gas in the tank. I saw myself in a video yesterday and saw how much weight I’ve put on—I didn’t recognize myself, that’s not me.

How do I assign blame for this? I point to my crazy schedule and chalk it up to being a one man show workwise. I blame it on my high involvement in my children’s lives—I drop them off at school every morning (a habit I started when I commuted into NY and chose not to stop when I started working from home) and go to every sporting event, practice, and theatrical performance I can. I’m a managing editor for an industry magazine and mentor younger people who will compete with me one day. I write novels. I spend a lot of time with someone close to me who is going through the end of his marriage.

These are all the reasons I’m not taking care of myself the way I should, but blaming them is one of the biggest lies I tell myself. They all have one thing in common—they are things I prioritize over me. This is not to say they aren’t important and there aren’t times they should be prioritized, but what I’ve realized is that my life is completely out of balance. I have to do something about that.

The Show Must Go On.

So, six weeks before New Year’s Day, I’m starting my resolution. I’m going to take more time for me and spend it making positive changes in my life. I’m going to start saying no to certain requests, both personal and professional. I’m going to shed those responsibilities that have ceased to bring me joy. I’m going to start eating healthier (today I learned that blueberries won’t kill me and that pineapple is pretty tasty), and I’m going to make exercise a priority. That wine I look forward to more nights a week than I should as a reward for hard work has to go, and so does the sitting on the couch and watching TV that accompanies it. Both will be replaced with running, walking the dogs in the evening, and reading.

I recently struck up a conversation with another independent business owner in the same boat as me—self-employed, weight of the world on her shoulders, etc. She urged me to think of myself as my company’s greatest asset and questioned why I wasn’t treating myself like it. Sometimes you need a little kick in the ass from an outsider to push you into high gear. She’s absolutely right, I need to take better care of myself because…

The Show Must Go On.