I recently participated in an intensive weekend writing seminar in Franklin, Tennessee. My instructor was the author and notable blogger Jeff Goins. I began following Jeff’s blog earlier this year because I liked his voice and message for fellow creatives. Jeff inspires artistic souls to give voice to their creative muse. We are not just what we do. We have many dimensions. And different seasons.
Jeff has written about "The Portfolio Life." The notion that "You were made for more than just one thing. Your life is a portfolio of activities, all of which make you who you are." I like this perspective. It's honest, refreshing and a true representation of life. And it's hopeful. Unlike a lot of the other voices out there, making us feel bad about our "conventional" lives.
We’ve all read the self help pitches to “do what you love and the money will follow.” Sounds nice. But how many aspiring actors are still waiting tables in Los Angeles? Are we really going to abandon a secure job with health benefits to go “find” ourselves?
If you’re single with no one counting on you, perhaps you can quit your job and write about a life of minimalism. You don’t have to pay for the kid’s braces, health insurance or the mortgage. Yes, some have moved to foreign lands and more affordable environs. They find a way. I admire such intrepid souls but no, I want some measure of security. Which is why I like the “portfolio life” approach. We can do more than one thing. We can evolve over time. Keep the day job and work towards our passion. I guess I like it because that’s what I’m doing.
I’ve been in the law enforcement profession 25 years and currently serve as a Chief of Police. It’s a challenging job. Some days are immensely rewarding. Others are exhausting and difficult. But my police career has shaped who I am today. It has honed me, matured me and broadened my professional skill sets. In my life portfolio, being a cop is part of who I am. But it’s not all I am.
I’m also an artist and writer. I have been drawing since I was a little boy and loved creative writing in school. I have been a newspaper editorial cartoonist and published poignant articles in various print and digital media. This other part of my life portfolio, the creative spirit, has emerged periodically over the years. But our seasons change. My amazing son is nearly an adult. Retirement from law enforcement looms. At fifty, I am young enough to give life to the next season. I am anxious to unleash this artistic voice that has stood by impatiently for many years.
There is a cautionary note here. Be careful what you wish for. Personal growth demands risk, hard work and sacrifice. I wish it were easier but it’s not. Ask anyone who achieved success or positive change. They had to work at it. Give up their free time. Say no and disappoint others.
For anyone who dreams of becoming something more, an arduous but rewarding journey awaits. It’s a journey worth taking if you are seeking your authentic self. Be it weight loss or life as a creative entrepreneur.
I sacrificed a weekend and two vacation days to fly to Franklin, Tennessee for Jeff Goins’ workshop. As a white knuckle flier I had to endure my fear of flying. The entire workshop weekend included some hard work, defining my “world view” and future blogging/writing direction. There is this fear of success that I grapple with. The next chapter in this old cop’s life portfolio awaits. I’m excited about it. I’m intimidated by it. I can’t wait.
PS: Photo for this post by photographer Alyssa Padgett. Visit her blog at www.alyssapadgett.com