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Your dreams don’t want you to get ready, they want you now

The late artist Rick Howell. Photo (used with permission): Eric Swanson

Sometimes the most insignificant moment can change the whole trajectory of your life. That’s what happened to Rick Howell.

Rick used to manage a stock brokerage firm, but his true passion was landscape painting. Late one afternoon, Rick was driving home after a long day at the office.

A scruffy guy in an open-top jeep pulled up beside Rick. The jeep guy had a dog on the seat next to him. He didn’t look like he had much, but he looked free and happy.

Free and happy.

Two things that Rick, at that moment, realized he wanted for himself. Managing…


Guess what happened when I deleted all my social media content?

Cartoon illustrations by John P. Weiss

Last Fall, I deleted all the content on my social media platforms. I was inspired by this blog post from Corbett Barr, founder, and CEO of Fizzle.co.

In the post, Barr wrote that he was deleting all his social media content, and many of his blog posts, videos, podcasts, and more.

Barr wrote, “I’m going to consolidate my online life and define a new vision for my next decade on the Internet.” In a follow-up post, Barr noted:

“It’s not natural for every thought or scribble you’ve produced to exist publicly for everyone to see for all time. …


How a little chaotic experimentation can help you grow

Cartoon illustration by John P. Weiss

It all started with pencils. As a little boy, happiness for me was a sharp pencil and a blank piece of paper. My favorite birthday and Christmas gifts were drawing pencils and blank sketchbooks.

As my drawing skills improved I became less dependent on the pencil eraser. Eventually, I graduated to drawing with a black ballpoint pen. To this day, ballpoint pens are my favorite drawing device.

Later in life, when I moonlighted as an editorial cartoonist for several newspapers, I drew my cartoons with pen and India ink, for greater permanency.

Fast-forward to the present day, and I craft…


How isolation and coyotes can improve your life

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

In December of last year, I took a long walk with my two dogs, despite a light dusting of snow outside.

The air was crisp and the sky overcast. A few quail, with their silly topknot plumes, chirped and clucked as they ran for low foliage cover. My dogs spied them but were distracted by something in the distance.

The fur on my smaller dog’s shoulders began to stand up, and he let out a low growl. I squinted down the street and spotted movement between a patchwork of shrubs.

Two coyotes stood motionless, eyeing my dogs and me warily…


Avoid these two flaws and your life will be better

Cartoon illustration by John P. Weiss

She was walking to the Middle School one crisp autumn morning when it happened. She stopped to tie her shoelace and a van pulled up beside her. The man behind the steering wheel rolled down his window.

“Hey there,” he said with a kind smile, “It’s pretty cold out this morning. I just dropped my son off at the Middle School. Would you like a ride?”

The girl didn’t think twice. She stood up and bolted in the opposite direction, down toward some local businesses. She ran hard and didn’t look back until she reached the shopping center.

Out of…


The limitation advantage: How narrowing your options can lead to success

Pen and ink doodles on my desk at JohnPWeiss.com.

If you’re familiar with Ansel Adams then you know he was an American landscape photographer and environmentalist famous for his black-and-white photographs of the American West. What you may not know is that he also shot photographs in color.

Adams shot in color almost as long as he did in black in white (over thirty-five hundred shots), but he preferred black and white.

“I can get — for me — a far greater sense of ‘color’ through a well-planned and executed black-and-white image than I have ever achieved with color photography.” — Ansel Adams

An article in The New Yorker


Why happiness has become our god at the expense of virtue

Illustrations by John P. Weiss

Yesterday I was stuck in the service department at my local Chevy dealership, waiting for them to fix my truck’s headlight. A home improvement show blared on the flat-screen TV, but everybody around me seemed hypnotized by their smartphones.

I settled into a corner chair and pulled a book from my backpack. Out of habit, I always take a book with me to appointments.

As I became absorbed in what I was reading, the shrieks of a little girl broke my concentration. Looking up, I saw a frazzled woman leading her energetic daughter to the available chairs across from me.


Why sharing love with strangers fills your soul with peace

Cartoon illustration by John P. Weiss

On the morning of May 6th, my iPhone buzzed on the nightstand, awakening me. I fumbled for my reading glasses, sat up, and looked at the glowing screen.

It was a calendar reminder, with the words, “Dad’s birthday.” I leaned back on my pillow, slid off my glasses, and closed my eyes.

Dad passed away in 2004 at the age of 83. I was with him the day he died, holding his hands. He was unconscious, but the hospice nurse said he could still hear me.

“A couple of years before he died, I kissed my father goodbye. He said…


Brighten your future by being brave enough to visit your funeral

Illustrations and photographs by John P. Weiss

A good friend of mine died many years ago and I was given the honor of delivering his eulogy. The church was packed and I was nervous.

His children, parents, siblings, friends, and professional colleagues were all there. It was important for me to strike the right tone.

Tragically, my friend died by his own hands. He had been through a difficult divorce and then fell into a pernicious depression resistant to therapy or medication.

Delivering a eulogy under such sad conditions is difficult, but my friend’s rich legacy of goodness made the task easier. In the days leading up…


Life can improve if you return to the greeenhouse

Photo: Amber Maxwell Boydell

The deer trail was slightly overgrown, and I had to navigate past a thicket of poison oak and huge webs from orb-weaver spiders. When you’re an adventurous kid, it’s amazing the things you’ll tolerate outdoors.

The backyard of our home in the hills of Los Gatos, California, opened up to the deep woods. Entering this shadowy world beneath the tree foliage felt like leaving the wardrobe into magical Narnia.

“One day, you will be old enough to start reading fairytales again.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia

As a ten-year-old boy, I knew little of the challenges and turmoil…

John P. Weiss

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