Life, as it’s known to do, has thrown a few curveballs as of late. 

When you have upheavals in life, its best to stop and take stock of what’s happening, how you’re feeling, and most importantly – what the fuck you’ll do about it.

As you reach a ‘certain age,’ you begin to think about legacy. 

This is especially vital for creative people: 

What did I leave behind? 

Will anyone appreciate my work when I’m gone? 

Hell, does anyone appreciate my work NOW?

I had trouble answering those questions.

The honest truth is that I have not challenged myself creatively far too long. 

I’ll give COVID partial credit for that: during lockdown, I worked at my day job and then basically sat around instead of hustling on a new business idea or creative projects. Prior to COVID, I would post an illustration almost every day on Instagram.

Since I wasn’t hustling, my design firm, Resolve Media, slowly withered away, and my last dependable client retired (she was with me since 1999!).

I sold the domain and walked away. 

Fast forward: My ‘day’ job involved a lot more writing and less design. I enjoy writing, but it doesn’t ‘scratch that itch’. Then I got hooked on AI – spending hours at night writing prompts. Made some cool stuff, but nothing I’d hang on a wall.

I can’t remember the last time I got sucked into an engaging project. And to make matters worse, my ADHD is off the charts.

It makes me sad (and angry).

It makes me feel like I’m wasting my God-given talent.

Ok, John, so what are you going to do about it?

I’m going to put in the work!

I’m going to make art for myself and hopefully some happy paying clients again.

Happiness is a choice. You can CHOOSE to be happy. I will refuse the negative thoughts that push me down and discourage me.

Art and design will once again become a priority in my life (next to my dog, Bella, of course).

This morning, in a moment of frustration, and then clarity, I put it all down on paper and am putting my mission statement out there for the world to see.

Here it goes:

  • I know my worth: I am not underselling myself, giving discounts, or lowballing my work.
  • I am working on establishing my personal brand as a designer and writer. I will post and engage with my audience daily to build my following.
  • I am choosing precisely who I work with. If you dislike or are uncomfortable with who you work with, what’s the point?
  • I reject imposter syndrome and trust in my abilities as a graphic designer. 
  • I am starting a new business idea as soon as my last idea fails. I will refuse to give up building my businesses and try everything until it works. Success is the only option.
  • I deal with creative block by getting away from the desk and going for a long walk or to the gym.
  • Comparison is the thief of joy. It’s a complete waste of energy. 
  • If I’m delaying or don’t feel like working on something, I give myself 15 minutes to get started. Completing the task is more satisfying than procrastinating.
  • I work when my energy levels are at their peak to maximize my day and be able to do things I enjoy.
  • Health and fitness are top priorities. It requires absolute discipline when it comes to food and alcohol, with zero alcohol as the baseline.

I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me. we’ll see what the next 6 months bring.

If you’re looking for a designer and illustrator with over 30 years of experience in print, web, and marketing communications, give me a shout.
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My portfolio is here.

Sometimes, the hardest part is admitting to ourselves that we are stuck.

Photo by Mahdi Bafande on Unsplash

You feel trapped. Every move you attempt to make is met by some wall – real or imagined.

The barrier could be a dead-end job, a bad relationship, or a feeling of lack: financial, spiritual, or plain old malaise.

I’ve personally had these feelings. It’s not fun.

You lay awake at night trying to put the puzzle pieces together that will solve ‘the problem’ — only to wind up in the same place the next day. (Pro tip: 3am is not the time or place for problem-solving.)

You need to get ‘unstuck and unf$%#d’.

It is a frustrating experience, but remember — it’s not a permanent state.

Let’s dive in and explore some practical ways to get unstuck and start moving forward:

Recognize That You’re Stuck

It sucks that we’re not progressing in the ways we’d like, whether in our careers, personal lives, or other areas. The first step of change is always the hardest. Go ahead and admit to yourself that you are stuck.

Confirming this reality is the first significant step towards freeing yourself. Look out for signs such as feelings of dissatisfaction, frustration, or feeling overwhelmed.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

It’s okay to have mixed feelings about change. Acknowledge and accept your emotions rather than trying to suppress them. This is a healthy part of processing change and moving toward acceptance.

Identify What’s Holding You Back

It’s essential to identify what exactly is holding you back. Fear of failure? Uncertainty about the future? Lack of motivation? A toxic environment? This identification process should be easy — but this exercise may cause you to discover other things about yourself or your problems that may have been simmering under the surface. Once you’ve pinpointed the issues, you can begin to address them head-on.

Learn from Past Changes

This can be a tricky one for some people. Some of us use the past as a crutch or an excuse for why our life isn’t better. This is a recipe for disaster.

Reflect, but don’t dwell on past changes in your life. What did you learn from those experiences? How did you adapt and grow? Use these reflections to build confidence in your ability to navigate future changes.

Set Clear, Achievable Goals

Without a clear direction, it’s easy to feel stuck. That’s why setting goals is so important. Your goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This approach will give you a clear path and a sense of purpose as you work toward your objectives.

Goal setting shouldn’t be empty wishes.

‘Losing weight’ is not a goal; it’s a concept, and it’s neither specific nor measurable.

‘Lose 25 lbs in a week’ is neither realistic nor obtainable.

‘Lose 25 lbs by your friend’s wedding in October’ is more realistic and achievable.

Embrace Change

Often, we’re stuck because we’re unwilling or afraid to embrace change. However, change is a part of life and is often the catalyst that propels us forward. So, lean into it. Embrace the new experiences, opportunities, and people that come your way.

Develop a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset, a term coined by psychologist Carol Dweck, is the belief that skills and intelligence can be developed with effort, learning, and persistence. This mindset encourages embracing challenges, persisting in the face of setbacks, and seeing effort as the path to mastery. You’re less likely to feel stuck if you perceive challenges as opportunities to learn and grow.

Use the Power of “Yet”

When faced with a difficult task, remind yourself that you may not be able to do it “yet.” This small word is powerful because it implies that growth and learning are on the horizon. It shifts your perspective from a fixed mindset (“I can’t do this”) to a growth mindset (“I can’t do this yet, but I can learn”).

Practice Self-Care

When you’re feeling stuck, taking care of your mental, emotional, and physical well-being is more important than ever. This means eating healthily, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, and taking time for activities you enjoy. These actions will improve your mood, boost your energy levels, and provide you with the resilience needed to tackle your challenges.

Sometimes, we’re our harshest critics. It’s important to remember to be kind to yourself. If you need a day off, take it. Watch your favorite movie, eat your favorite meal, and do what makes you happy.

Seek Support

It’s okay to ask for help. Reach out to trusted friends, family members. They can provide a fresh perspective, advice, and the emotional support you need to get unstuck.

If you’re uncomfortable sharing your issues with friends and family, a telehealth counselor or professional coach may give you the insights you want. They can provide you unbiased information, opinions, and a fresh perspective to help move you on your way.

Take Action

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, take action. Even small steps can start to break the cycle of feeling stuck. Don’t wait for the perfect moment; it will never come. Instead, make the moment perfect by taking decisive right now.

Feeling stuck in life is something that happens to everyone.

It’s not a sign of failure; it’s a sign that it’s time for a change. As you work on yourself, keep these thoughts and practices in mind:

  • Practice Gratitude: Stay grateful for what you already have. Being thankful attracts more abundance.
  •  Believe: Have faith that you can achieve your dreams. Believe in yourself and your abilities.
  •  Patience: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Don’t expect instant gratification. Keep working hard and be patient.

By acknowledging the issue, identifying the causes, setting clear goals, embracing change, and taking action, you can break free and start moving forward again.

Here’s to getting unstuck and turning the page to a new chapter.

Illustration ©John Suder

We’re all feeling a little sad. Our lives have been turned upside down. We’re frustrated because an invisible enemy is taking lives and upending our sense of normalcy. In America, we shoot down our enemies or sue them into oblivion to make them disappear. It’s not happening this time. This thing does what it wants, on its own terms. Right now the virus is killing 3000 Americans per day. Reports are surfacing that it’s now mutating. You can get it once – then get it again!

We’re living in a bad sci-if movie. 

Americans simply aren’t good at being told what to do. They’re not very good at sitting still, either. With the weather starting to break, many have simply decided “Yea, I’m done with this. I’m gonna go outside and be normal again.” That temporary stay of execution will come back to haunt us later this summer. It’s going to be brutal.

Enjoy your haircut, Karen. I hope it was worth it.

I can’t even look at my calendar. Each day I get the notifications of canceled events. I feel awful for the kids that were supposed to have prom and graduate now. The couples who planned that special wedding, only to be postponed (or even canceled – yikes!). Birthdays, anniversaries, christenings – all the things that make life rich have been postponed or made into a Zoom meeting. Our social lives are now led via a webcam. 

I miss the mundane. I miss my routines. I miss going to the gym, then messing it all up with a stop at the bagel shop. I miss just strolling through a home improvement store, daydreaming about all the house projects I can’t afford. I miss impromptu errand runs that turn into an adventure, I miss taking a drive on the weekend to see where I end up. I really miss restaurants, and what I wouldn’t give for a few too many good German beers and conversation at my beloved Biergarten on a Friday night.

We stay home because we have to. We stay home to protect not only ourselves but to protect others. We stay home because this thing will kill you and we stay home so that our hospital workers are not overwhelmed and forced to make difficult choices on who to treat. We stay home because its the smart thing to do. 

For those that can’t stay home – the essential workers: those in healthcare, the grocery workers keeping us fed, the bus drivers, the ones out there every single day, dealing with the knuckleheads. You’re the heroes. I pray for your safety.

The good thing about a catastrophe or a crisis is that they eventually end. And this will – just not next week or next month or maybe not even until next year.

But mark my words, there are better days ahead. 

If you’re a fan of the comedian Garry Shandling, I highly recommend the HBO documentary ‘The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling’. I was truly blown away as to how well this was done – the main reason it was so good is that it was produced by Judd Apatow, who worked with Shandling for a number of years.

The documentary also got me thinking about my old cat, Garry. Short for Garry Shandling. Yes, a cat named Garry Shandling. My ex-girlfriend had young nieces, funny kids. They had this cat and didn’t know what to name it. This was back when ‘It’s Garry Shandling’s Show’ was still on TV. The youngest (the really funny one) heard the name and thought it was funny, and the name stuck.

Fast forward a bit – they had to get rid of the cat for reasons I can’t recall (allergies?). We wound up with the cat at our apartment. We later broke up, the girlfriend moved away. I got the cat.

This cat had quite the personality. More human that your standard house cat. This cat would sleep under the covers, with his head on the pillow. When I would come home from work, he would stand on the arm of the sofa and put his paws on my shoulder, so that i would hug him and then pick him up. A big chonky boi. A good companion, never any trouble. Except poor Garry had a serious case of wanderlust. Any time the front door or sliding glass door was open for more than minute, he was gone. The condo I lived in at the time had private doorways, and each time he escaped he made it further and further down the series of doorways, until I retrieved him. It was like he was doing recon for his ‘Great Escape’.

One time, Garry made his move and I didn’t notice he’d slipped out. I looked and looked, asked around. I could not find him. No Garry. That night I finally went to sleep, thinking “Well Garry, you finally got what you wanted. Freedom.”

Later that night, it began to rain very hard. I was awakened not by the rain, but by a scratching sound at my bedroom window. In the silhouette of the streetlight, I see something in the window. Its the cat, standing there on the ledge. Keep in mind, I lived in a condo that was a block long, and I was in a middle unit. The cat would have had to have gone around the block, then figured out which window was mine. Maybe he knew, maybe he just got lucky – but there I was at 2am reaching out to grab this soaking wet giant cat off off the window ledge. I had a big laugh and great story to tell. I’m sure for the time being Garry was happy too.

But wandering cats never stop wandering. Later that summer, Garry made his final ‘prison break’. And this time he never came back. The neighbors didn’t see him. I searched the area for a few days, thinking maybe I’d see him come trotting down the sidewalk after his latest wanderlust trip.

It was not to be.

I never saw good ole Garry Shandling again. I only hope that maybe he took a liking to someone else and hogged all the covers in their bed instead.