051: Your Money, Or Your Life?
It’s week 51 of the Draw or Die Newsletter for Visual Storytellers. The mission is simple… helping artists out there stay encouraged and drawing every day!
I worry maybe my personal journey stories might not be very relevent to some of you. I know it’s not the regular “value” you’re here for. But, after having so many conversations with artists, and the past few weeks talking about my situation, I realize this is yet another thing many are wresting with inside.
It wasn’t until I read the words and stories of another creator that made me feel brave enough to make a plan, and make a choice.
This coming Friday, March 17th will be my last day at my “day job”.
I can’t explain the feeling, a mix of euphoria and a tinge of fear?
Am I making the right decision?
In short, yes.
Every morning since I handed in my official notice, I’m reminded in some way of why it was a good decision for my own well being. For nearly a decade my mornings were unnecessarily filled with stress or fires to put out.
All of which I was great at managing.
I also know I’m in a very privileged situation to make this choice.
It’s not lost on me. I do feel fortunate to be in that spot to take care of myself.
It wasn’t always that way.
About 7 years ago when I really wanted to quit, I felt helpless to circumstances around me. I had to “suck it up”. I had people depending on me. I had child support to pay. Debts to try to crawl out.
My manager back then once told me “D.J. sometimes we have to eat a lot shit. I had to eat a lot of shit when before I got to where I am!”
As if this was a normal thing humans should endure?
I ended up getting to where he was.
The top of the game.
Basically in charge of all North American strategy, dealing with creators, business development. All the top deals here.
Cut to more recent times. After weeks of silence and no word, I was offered a substantial raise to stay. But also told I couldn’t help “the others”.
You mean, my team? The team I built?
The people I also look after and build up. I was unwilling to tell my people that now it was their turn to keep “eating shit.”
This just was another affirmation to me that it was the right move to walk away.
“Your money, or your life!”
In a lot of ways… corporate jobs can feel like a virtual stick-up.
Of your time.
How far are you willing to go?
A choice is suddenly thrust upon you.
Your money, or your life?
What do you choose?
You can only choose one.
I promise you this, not one more cent is worth your life… or your own personal integrity.
And then words echo in my mind. Words I’ve read, or that were spoken to me. One of my favorite quotes was from the John Adams biography…
“An honest man will have none other.”
That’s not to say I’m some glowing bastion of truth and justice. I’m a flawed human being, just like everyone else, but I’m always trying to be better! To do better! And that’s all we can do until our last second.
At times, those ethics and principles have cost me getting dream jobs, when an Editor and Chief once told me:
“You’re dangerous because you’re honest.”
And then I catch myself thinking the words of Epictetus:
“How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?”
I say, don’t delay. Start today!
The Sixth Sense… VIBE.
Thurs-Sat I had a chance to get away on a roadtrip to Kentucky. It’s the first “break” I’ve been able to take in 10 years where I didn’t have a feeling of anxiety hanging over me that there would be fires to put out when I come back.
That would make me dread travel of any kind. I vow to never let that happen again.
I feel now like it’s essential for Artists to travel. You don’t have travel very far.
Artists are collectors. YOU are a collector of these experiences. And you need to collect with all of your SIX senses.
You see new places and people. New buildings, anything visual. Downtown Louisville has a giant 30 ft gold statue of David. It was fun to watch people stop to look up at the large naked golden man.
You hear new stories, conversations. Music. Different places even just sound different.
I heard that during Covid, they put a giant mask on the David statue to remind people to wear masks.
You taste new flavors and foods. The fish and chips were excellent. We’re going to go try this thing called a “Hot Brown” that’s famous. And we heard oddly enough from strangers we should “try the egg salad” at this Willets Distillery. Because it’s somehow made with smoked mayonaise or some such way they put it together.
You smell the fresh air, and not so fresh air too. The unique smell of mash tanks in a distillery.
You touch different places or maybe get to hold and feel interesting things. I held a slab of limestone yesterday from a distillery. It was solid, mildly heavy, but also felt light in some way?
And the sixth sense nobody really talks about much because there isn’t a word for it. I’ll just call it VIBE. Short for vibrations.
You can sense the ENERGY of a place.
Different places have different vibrations.
It’s kind of hard to describe for me in words.
Thursday night we walked to O’Sheas. One of the oldest Irish Pubs in Louisville. We were greeted with a thousand hellos, and a thousand thank yous when we left. And the vibe felt real. It wasn’t the fake “we have to say this or we get in trouble.” - People really love this town, their jobs… and whatever vibe is here.
I think also this is why you’re drawn back to many places in your life. It’s also why most people don’t end up living more than 50 miles from the spot they were born.
Ever try to leave a place and end up right back there again? Maybe years later?
Anyways, I like the vibe in Louisville. It’s no Pittsburgh. But it’s on my list of good vibe places.
Do you know what I mean? Share your stories with me on this subject, or drop a comment here to start a conversation in the comments.
🔥✏️The Weekly Drawing CHALLENGE!
Today’s prompt is:
“That’s one odd statue.”
Draw whatever comes to mind. And of course I encourage you to share it on social with tag #drawordieclub so we can all see what you’ve done!
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Stay encouraged out there, and draw every day!!!