I’m counting down what I consider to be the best things in my life right now. Sometimes its easy to get down about all the bad crap going on in our lives, so to keep from jumping off a cliff over stupid stuff, it’s good to reflect on the positive elements in our lives. This is my list. If you missed the first part of this list, check it out here.
#5 – My Day Job
I complain about this job a lot because of the direction the upper management is taking the company. I do not feel any kind of security there because any one of us can be axed at the drop of a hat, making every payday very tense since that’s when pink slips are generally handed out.
Being in magazine publishing, business isn’t good. Books are dying off all the time and if you’ve been to a newsstand lately, not many are filling the empty holes. The mags that remain are having their pages cut regularly, advertisers are bailing for greener pastures in social media and online advertising, and it’s making for extremely tight budgets. Our editorial staff has been cut and my editor is asked to do more with less every month. It’s not a fun situation to be in.
On the other hand, why would I complain about a job that allows me to dress in t-shirts and shorts every day, gives me a flexible enough schedule to get home to hang out with my family and pays me to use my creativity on a daily basis? I’m not highly paid, probably marginal compared to a lot of art directors, maybe higher than some at my company, but I have good benefits and lots of vacation time and I have a whole bunch of really cool people I get to hang out with. I also have a boss that is by far the best boss I’ve ever had. He doesn’t micro manage, gives guidance when needed and backs up his team when their pushed into a corner. Answering directly to a Senior VP has its privileges.
Yes, the job can get mundane at times, doing the same thing month in and month out, but the long and short of the story is I get paid decent to use my right brain often. Compared to a lot of people in corporate America, my job is golden.
#4 – My Friends & Family
This is one of those no-brainer items. Of course my friends and family are on the list. Without them, I’m a pretty uninteresting person, really. I combined the two groups here because many of my friends are like family to me. In fact, a lot of my family members are less important to me than my group of close friends. I have some buddies I’ve known for 20+ years that I would jump in front of a bullet for, and some family members that I wouldn’t, but they all are responsible for partially making me who I am today.
I also married into one of the best possible families I could ever imagine. My wife’s family is gigantic, to say the least, and even the quirky ones (you know who you are) are good people and I get along with them very well. I’ve also gained a lot of deep respect and admiration for the Japanese culture through them.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t bring up my mom here. She’s been the center of my universe from the beginning. When the man who would call himself my father decided to up and leave both of us stranded and destitute, my mom stepped up and did what she had to to make it, not an easy task at 20 years old. Most would assume she’d run back home, but my mom was determined to push through. She got help from family, and we suffered many slings and arrows together, most of which I never fully appreciated until later in life.
My mom and I don’t always see eye to eye, I can be a bit rough on her at times because of my lack of vision and clarity for situations, but it’s only because I want to lift her higher than she’s ever been before. I do this because I feel I owe it to her after all she’s done for me over the years. I’m blessed to have her in my life and I’m glad she’s got a real man in her life to do take care of her better than my “father” ever could.
#3 – My Creative Mind
Again, how awesome is it that I get to create art for a living. Sure, I’m not selling so many art prints right now that I can retire on the funds. Heck, I couldn’t pay my monthly food bill with what I sell right now, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I have an almost endless amount of creativity at my disposal to make neat stuff. Even if I wasn’t selling anything, I would still be creating art. I’ve done it all my life and I will continue on for as long as my mind will allow.
I had a conversation recently with a friend who is an art sales dynamo. He confessed to me that recently, while setting up for an art and craft fair, he looked around at some of the old dudes in the other booths and wondered if that was his destiny. Would he be in his 60s and 70s still slogging away trying to hock his art and shows every weekend. When he brought it up, it didn’t sound very appealing at all. I thought about it some more afterward and I found the other side the story.
What if these old guys came out to these art fairs every weekend, not because they had to, but because it was what made them happiest? They get out of the house, interact with people they’ve never met and get to make a few bucks. Maybe they do need the money, but as I eluded to before, how bad of a job is that really? Would they rather be working at Walmart greeting people at the door? I doubt it.
#2 – My Wife
You know that line in the wedding vows where you repeat, “for better or worse”? My wife really took that to heart. She is the angel in my life, the rock beneath my feet and a constant source of love and support no matter what we go through. We balance each other well, taking the hard times as they come, and relishing in the good times with lots of laughter.
I often reflect back to the day we got married on a beautiful beach in Maui. I saw her walking with her sister up the path to where we waited, she almost moved in slow motion. Everyone gets jitters at that point, but I somehow knew I was making the best decision of my life right then. I’ve been asked by other friends who’s marriages aren’t going as well as they’d hoped; they ask if I would get married again if I could have a do-over. The answer is always yes. I’ve told more than one person over the course of our marriage that she definitely got the raw end of the deal, and I’m lucky to have such an awesome woman in my life.
#1 – My Son
Honestly, I was going back and forth on which person was the best thing in my life, my son or my wife. It wasn’t easy, but I finally decided to add the little guy to the top of the list because nothing in this world makes me feel more special than when he crawls up onto my lap, wraps his arms around me and lays his head on my shoulder.
His smile is infectious, his antics crack me up and his affection is electric. No matter how bad my day is, no matter how tough my commute or how tired I may be, nothing gets my spirits up more than one look into his smiling face. I know I’m in for a lot of trying times between now and when he finally leaves the nest, but I will always cherish the sweetness that he brings to our lives daily. I am a better man because of him.