You’re never going to guess what else I dug up in the garden…

The collectively attentive gaze told me I was registering in their minds as a bit of a Martian. Well, I am an artist after all…and truth be told, we are processed by most people from time to time as possibly originating from another planet. A circumstance from which I now draw enormous joy and professional satisfaction. In a recent visit with students from Badger High School in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, I was invited to speak with two classes about my somewhat unorthodox path to where I am today. Interestingly enough, I believe many high school students also feel like aliens from time to time. I told them that my story, both professionally and personally, can be likened to the Rascal Flatt’s song “God Bless The Broken Road.” I shared with them that sometimes the most important paths were the ones that deadened, and it was up to me to blaze a new trail for myself, my family or my company.

I summarized for them my challenges in school at an early age, my feeling of invisibility as a high school student, my formation as an artist in college, and ultimately how I managed to transform a lifelong passion into a career in creativity. I attempted to leave the students with three main thoughts. First, that finding my true purpose in life had been a process of elimination…and warned them to be more fearful of self-doubt, than failure of any given activity or situation. Second, that my work ethic has been the ladder on which my goals have been achieved. There may be more talented artists, but to this day, I refuse to be outworked. And that any job I may have held, no matter how small, was a relevant rung on my ladder of life. Lastly, I expressed to them that my continued development both professionally and personally, has been to relay on the lessons of my faith, to be both my biggest cheerleader…and harshest critic. The healthy balance of both has given me the strength to persevere, kept me grounded along the way, and constantly searching for new ways to improve as an Artist, Husband and Father.

As is often the case with this blog, I make connections between significant events and creative activities as way to illustrate, or even find synergy in the world. Such is the case with this blog entry, my visit with the high school students, and the start of Spring planting season. It was in this quiet and fulfilling work that I felt compelled to add to my original blog from July 10, 2016: 5 Life Lessons Reinforced by Merely Watering the Garden.

Emerging from the fertile soil underneath my finger nails are numbers 6 through 10:

6.) The pace of saturation matters. Give people time to absorb what you’re attempting to communicate. We can be so obsessed with the immediacy of gaining agreement on our perspective, that we push out words so quickly that all they really do is make a splash. Think of words as water for the mind. Water too quickly, and risk runoff, rather than making certain it’s sinking in to reach the roots. Similar is the path from the head…to the heart.

7.) Recognize that Individual species of flowers require slightly different care to achieve the same result. Recently, I’ve started to really become a student of each of the species I’m planting on my property. In addition to the obvious sunlight and watering requirements, I’m noticing the ways they respond to being handled when putting them in the ground…even their country of origin. And although most of us refer to them generically as flowers…the nature of the stems, the depth of the roots, the size of the bloom, and especially their history, make each species totally original and special. That being said, all of them still require the same elements of care, carefully customized to suit their individual make-up in order to make success more likely. Hmmm….

8.) Only the mindless fear maintenance. Ouch, that might have stung a bit. But it’s true. The older I get, the more I realize that anything you want to last takes effort to maintain and requires consistent care. So enamored are we with the term “maintenance free” that we try to apply it to everything from relationships, to politics and to our lives. The problem is…tilling the soil on so many levels is necessary. Which means getting a little dirty is a foregone conclusion.

9.) Water isn’t enough, sometimes all flowers need is a little time in the sun. The control freak in us, is the suffocating cousin to the maintenance-free side of our psyche…so tread lightly. Remember, sometimes the best thing you can do for a flowering plant is be patient, and let the environment in which you’ve created do some of the important work for you.

10.) Newly planted flowers are the most deserving of our attention. This is the time when they are trying to find a way to develop the root system that will ultimately allow them to thrive in various conditions. When they’re young, they need your attention, patience, support and nourishment the most. Oh, wait I’m sorry…we were talking about flowers, right?


Dedicated to high school students everywhere…struggling to find their place in the garden of life.

Work hard…and be open to the endless possibilities that await your willingness to simply try.

You’ve been Coached!