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What did you once love to do that you put aside as you advanced your career? Is retirement a second chance to pursue those dreams? Your interests and your talents may be different from my guest today, but his story may inspire you to reconnect with your earlier interests. My guest today is John P. Weiss. He’s a fine artist, cartoonist, photographer and author of two books. A former police chief and 26 year law enforcement veteran, John retired early to pursue his creative life.
His Saturday Letter is something I look forward to reading every weekend.
John P. Weiss joins us from Nevada.
John P. Weiss is a full-time artist, writer, and photographer. He paints tonalist landscapes, draws whimsical cartoons, writes poignant essays about life, and shoots artful, black & white photos. He is the author of “An Artful Life: Inspirational Stories and Essays for the Artist in Everyone” and “The Cartoon Art of John P. Weiss.” Over 48K followers enjoy John’s weekly essays.
John used to be a police chief for the Scotts Valley Police Department in Northern California. He holds a master’s degree in criminal justice administration and enjoyed a 26-year career in law enforcement, serving the last ten as chief of police. John retired early in order to pursue his creative life full-time.
In his police career, John served as a detective, sergeant, lieutenant, operations and services commander, composite sketch artist, hostage negotiator, impact weapons instructor, peer counselor, DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officer, training manager, police chief, and acting city manager. He is the recipient of the “Medal of Merit” for his work with children and related programs.
During John’s police career, he moonlighted as an editorial cartoonist for several newspapers. His cartoons appear in various editions of Charles Brooks’s Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year.
For several years, John published articles and a popular comic strip, The Life of Art , on the art and marketing website Fine Art Views.
John hand draws his cartoons in pen, ink and watercolor. He also crafts cartoons digitally on his iPad Pro. Here’s a video of John sketching one of his cartoons. Influences include the cartoonists Pat Oliphant, Jeff MacNelly, Richard Thompson, Berke Breathed, Bill Watterson, and George Herriman.
During John’s law enforcement career he frequently contributed articles to various newspapers and publications. A life long reader and writer, he started blogging and publishing work online in early 2014.
John studied writing and blogging with the author Jeff Goins in Franklin, Tennessee. John also hired copywriting expert Demian Farnworth to learn the art of writing compelling content.
John is a top writer on the website Medium and his work also appears on the following sites:
The Guardian, Medium.com, NBC News, Becoming Minimalist, Mr. Feelgood, The Unmistakable Creative, Austin Art Talk, Elephant Journal, Fine Art Views, Goins Writer, Good Men Project, Your Creative Push Podcast, Thrive Global, The Ladders, and more.
John enjoys shooting artful, monochromatic photographs with his Sony A6600 camera and Sigma prime lenses. He prefers the contrast, simplicity, and elegance of black and white film and photography. John sometimes enjoys creating post-production vintage effects in his photographs, to give them a timeless look.
John took vacations to study landscape painting with renowned artist Scott L. Christensen, among other artists. John supplemented his art education with museum visits, books, videos, regular practice, and experimentation.
John paints landscapes in various mediums, including oils, gouache, watercolor and pen & ink. He employs a limited palette and strives for painterly realism mixed with pleasing abstraction.
John is an avid reader. He and his wife have an impressive library of books, from the Harvard classics to contemporary fiction and non-fiction. Reading broadly sparks the collision of ideas, which helps John in crafting his popular essays and short stories.
John travels periodically with his wife and son, in order to experience different countries, people, and ways of life. John always carries small, leather-covered field notes and Moleskine notebooks to sketch and write about his experiences.
The focus of John’s writing and life philosophy is to live an artful life. Love your family, feed your mind, take care of your body, embrace simplicity, and pursue your creative passions.
For More on John P. Weiss
Subscribe to The Saturday Letter by John P. Weiss (Highly recommended)
An Artful Life – Inspirational Stories and Essays for the Artist in Everyone
The Cartoon Art of John P. Weiss
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On Saying No
“Other people will spend your time for you if you let them. And they may be well intentioned. There are times when you have to readjust. There were times when something came up and I’d say to myself, Okay. I’d love to read for half hour tomorrow, but this is more important. There are certain things that you just have to do, but there’s a lot of things that you don’t have to do. And I learned to prioritize. I was in the Rotary Club, great organization, worked with them for years, served and had a great time. But toward the end of my career, the last couple years, I bowed out because it was taking up more and more of my time. And I found I needed that time for family and for my creative juggling.”
‘”Most of the worthwhile things in my life have come from hard work, from taking risks, and from experimenting. They haven’t come from scrolling mindlessly on the internet or watching reruns of NCIS on the couch. Don’t get me wrong. There’s no judgment here. There’s a time for that. We all need downtime sometimes to do those things. And I’ll be the first to admit I can get lost in rabbit holes on YouTube, watching art videos and things like that. But I think when I wrote that piece, Joe, Why The Convenient Path You’re On Might Be Leading You Astray. I think the message of that article was don’t rest on your laurels. It’s easy to get comfortable. And with convenience, you can get at a certain point in your career where things are humming along, and everything’s fine. And you just rest on your laurels. You get comfortable. And the problem is that’s when you stop growing. And that’s the thing about convenience – and it’s something you really have to watch closely in retirement. Because when you retire, life gets really convenient. You don’t have those commitments you have when you’re working. Sometimes the couch calls out to you. And I think it’s so important that we keep challenging ourselves, particularly in retirement, to try new things and to grow. I think it’s so important to keep growing.”
On Trying Something New
“So my advice to your listeners is: if you’re diving into retirement or are in retirement, and you discover something that maybe speaks to you, go check it out, take a class. Things are opening up a bit now with COVID where classes are available, whether it’s online or whether it’s in person. Maybe you always wanted to try watercolors or whatever the passion is. Give it a try. What’s the worst that can happen? You may find you don’t like it, but you may find you become addicted. And a lot of people in their second chapters, or third chapters, have found a new passion that way.”
Mentioned in This Episode
An Infinity of Little Hours: Five Young Men and Their Trial of Faith in the Western World’s Most Austere Monastic Order
About Retirement Wisdom
Working with an experienced coach and a proven process can help you explore new options, test opportunities and create a portfolio of rewarding activities and interests.
Beware of quick fix solutions.
Schedule a call to find how how the Designing Your Life process (developed by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans at Stanford) can help you unlock a new direction. One and One and small group programs are available. Take the first step toward your new life today.
He’s the author of Win the Retirement Game: How to Outsmart the 9 Forces Trying to Steal Your Joy coming this summer.
Intro and Outro voiceovers by Ross Huguet.