500

Milestones are always fun to celebrate and today I’m celebrating one with all of you. Post number 500.

When I first started this blog nearly two years ago, I had no idea how long it would go. I had some things to say about making art that I thought were worth sharing. I was also attracted to the challenge and discipline of trying to ship new work every single weekday.

But the reason I got to 500 is because of YOU. Thank you for reading and caring and all your feedback. Knowing that a post might inspire you motivates me to keep going. My personal mission and the mission of The Vs. Studio is to help others find and manifest their passion projects. Because I feel when they do and do so with excellence and generosity, it’s pretty darn awesome. Everyone wins.

Finally, there are some writers out there who regularly inspire me and you should check them out. They’ve been at it much longer than I have and do it a whole lot better than I do. Here’s a list…

-The G.O.A.T. Seth Godin. He’s blogged every day for about two decades now. Read Here.

-Maria Popova curates an amazing blog, “The Marginalian” (formerly titled “Brainpickings”). Read Here.

-Richard Rohr, writer and founder of the Center For Contemplation and Action. Read his daily meditations Here.

-Margo Aaron, copywriter and marketer extraordinaire. Get her weekly newsletter Here.

-Ryan Holiday, author and modern day stoic. His Daily Stoic blog is excellent and sure to motivate. Read Here.

-James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, has a short, but impactful weekly newsletter. Read Here.

-Farnham Street. Another great curated weekly newsletter. Read Here.

Thank you again everyone. Hope to see you at 1,000. In the meantime, keep making your art. I’m rooting for you big time.

Gratitude Is A Practice

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” -Philippians 4:11-12

“When life is sweet, say ‘thank you’ and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say ‘thank you’ and grow.” -Shauna Niequist

“Be thankful for what you have; you will end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” -Oprah Winfrey

“Convince yourself that everything is the gift of the gods, that things are good and always will be.” -Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

“If you don’t get everything you want, think of the things you don’t get that you don’t want.” -Oscar Wilde

Gratitude is a practice and like all practices (athletics, the arts, meditation, etc…) there are good days, bad days. The key is consistency of effort, especially on the bad days. Can you still always say “Thank you for everything“? If yes, bravo! Bravissimo!

Happy Thanksgiving. I’m grateful for all of you. For your readership, your encouragement and your time. Keep making your art.

P.S. – A special thanks to all the caregivers out there. I’ve witnessed it firsthand these last couple months and what they do every single day is nothing short of miraculous.

Chrysalis

“As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; 
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells 
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s 
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name; 
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:” -Gerard Manley Hopkins, poem As Kingfishers Catch Fire

Nonprofit Quarterly: Understanding the Chrysalis Job-Training Social  Enterprise Model | Chrysalis

If you try to help a caterpillar break out of its chrysalis too soon, if you don’t let it struggle on its own, it never becomes this…

Monarch Butterfly

Don’t run from the struggle. Embrace and be grateful for it. It’s everything.

P.S. – Watch this amazing video of butterfly scales forming inside a chrysalis. You will believe in magic.

The Fisherman & The Banker

What exactly do you want? What are you chasing and why? And if you got everything you wanted, what would your day-to-day then look like? Would it change any, if it all, from what you’re doing now?

Consider this parable…

One summer, many years ago, a banker was vacationing in a small village on the coast. He saw a fisherman in a small boat by the pier with a handful of fish that he had just caught. The businessman asked him how long it took him to catch the fish, and the man said he was out on the water for only a couple of hours.

“So why didn’t you stay out there longer to catch more fish?” asked the businessman.

The fisherman said he catches just enough to feed his family every day, and then comes back.

“But it’s only 2 p.m.!” said the banker, “What do you do with the rest of your time?”

The fisherman smiled and said, “Well, I sleep late every day, then fish a little, go home, play with my children, take a nap in the afternoon, then stroll into the village each evening with my wife, relax, play the guitar with our friends, laugh and sing late into the night. I have a full and wonderful life.”

The banker scoffed at the young man, “Well, I’m a businessman from New York! Let me tell you what you should do instead of wasting your life like this! You should catch more fish to sell to others, and then buy a bigger boat with the money you make so you can catch even more fish!”

“And then what?” asked the fisherman.

The banker’s eyes got all big as he enthusiastically explained, “You can then buy a whole fleet of fishing boats, run a business, and make a ton of money!”

“And then what?” asked the fisherman again, and the banker threw his hands in the air and said, “You’d be worth a million! You can then leave this small town, move to the city, and manage your enterprise from there!”

“How long would all this take?” asked the fisherman. “Fifteen to twenty years!” replied the banker.

“And then what?”

The banker laughed and said, “That’s the best part. You can then sell your business, move to a small village, sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take naps in the afternoon, go for an evening stroll with your wife after dinner, relax, sing, and play the guitar with your friends. You would have a full and wonderful life!”

The fisherman smiled at the banker, quietly gathered his catch, and walked away.

Desire Or Preference?

“When you go through life with preferences but don’t let your happiness depend on any one of them, then you’re awake. You’re moving toward wakefulness. Wakefulness, happiness—call it what you wish—is the state of non-delusion, where you see things not as you are but as they are, insofar as this is possible for a human being.” -Anthony DeMello, Awareness

“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” -Ecclesiastes 2: 10-11

The thing you think you want.

Is it a desire or a preference?

Preferences are light and malleable. You can have many of them and it won’t destroy you if your preference doesn’t happen. You go with the flow.

Desires are heavy and rigid. It’s okay to have them (a burning desire is necessary to make great art), but have as few as possible. For as the Buddha said, “desire is suffering.” You will suffer greatly for your desire until you attain it. And even then?….

All By Yourself

“The Master doesn’t talk, he acts. When his work is done, the people say, ‘Amazing: we did it, all by ourselves.” –Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (translated by Stephen Mitchell)

The best directors, the best leaders, they don’t care about getting credit.

In fact, they’d prefer you felt you came up with the idea or answer. All by yourself.

E.P.O.

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Pain + Reflection = Progress.” -Ray Dalio

“The trick, researchers say, is realizing that a prerequisite to motivation is believing we have authority over our actions and surroundings. To motivate ourselves, we must feel like we are in control.” – Charles Duhigg, Smarter, Faster Better

Struggling? Find the thing or project that gives you E.P.O.

E = Enthusiasm

P = Progress

O = Ownership

What can you be highly enthusiastic about? Something that gets you out of bed in the morning and fired up. Because we and the rest of the world need your enthusiasm. Badly.

What’s something that you can track your progress? Remember change isn’t linear. There will be many bumps on the road. But over a long enough period of time, you can definitely measure your progress. To paraphrase Peter Drucker, “if you can measure it, you can manage it.”

What’s something that you have ownership of? Meaning you have control over whether it gets done and the way it gets done. Hopefully with excellence and generosity.

If you have E.P.O., then you’re home free.

There Is No There, There

“What does it mean that success is as dangerous as failure? Whether you go up the ladder or down it, your position is shaky. When you stand with your two feet on the ground, you will always keep your balance.” –Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (translated by Stephen Mitchell)

We all want to have arrived. We all want to just get there.

Awareness comes from realizing there is no “there, there.”

There is only process.

Your journey is round, not straight. Just like the shape of a compass.