11,305 days ago, I started my career in advertising. Since then I have worked fulltime at nine agencies. In the spring of 2004, I freelanced briefly and also managed to write The Creative License. Other than those brief months, I have spent most of my hour as an adult employed by other people and working on whatever they wanted me to work on.
When my boy entered high school, Patti started asking me, “How much longer are you going to do this? When Jack goes to college, will you finally stop? Aren’t there things you’d rather be doing?” For most of my career, my mum has asked me, “How can you stomach working for corporate America? When are you going to give it up already?” Most of the people I work with have, at one point or another, asked me, “Don’t you make enough money from your books to stop working in advertising? It’s amazing you have done so much while holding down this job. Imagine what you could do if you did it full-time.”
I’ve done a lot of shrugging and changing of the subject over those thirty years.
A few months ago, I realized something had to change. I liked my job but I wasn’t growing any more. And it seemed like I spent a lot of time with my nose pressed to the window of my nice office, looking out at the wide world where so many people seemed to be doing so many interesting things. And now Jenny was echoing Patti, asking me if I wouldn’t be happier focussing on art, films, books, teaching, speaking…
With Jack happily at RISD and with no more real day-to-day obligations except walking my dogs, I realized I no longer had to make excuses to myself. I could finally try out something new.
I am writing in this in my empty office. The surprisingly few possessions I have accumulated over the past nine years here are in a bag and I am watching the clock for the last time. It’s my last day and in half an hour or so, I will step into the next chapter of my life.
My next steps are far from complete and I have realized what a luxury that is.
But I do have a big wish list to tackle. My editor at Chronicle is working with me on a really exciting new book project. I have the outlines for three others just waiting to be tightened up and sent off. I have written all of the first online class I will be teaching. Now, I just need to shot a bunch of cool videos to go along with it and release it to you soon. I have a big stack of art books I want to reread and study. There are so many galleries and museum shows I want to attend. Jack and I have some art projects we want to work on before he goes back to school. I have a long, long list of things I want to write about for my blog. I have several new invitations to give talks and workshops. Several very interesting new projects have just come knocking on my door that could open all sorts of new directions. And there are so many people I’ve met over the years, wonderful inspiring artists, who I want to get to know better and to find ways to collaborate with.
Most importantly, I am also keeping a large chunk of time open for serendipity. Open space that is reserved for adventure. If you have any you’d like to send my way, fire me a note.
The first big adventure: going bi-coastal. In September, we will be renting an apartment in Los Angeles and for at least a year will work there and here in New York. A fresh address, a fresh perspective, and loads of fresh possibilities. I can’t wait.
Well, I better go and say my last round of goodbyes, grab my bag, punch out for the last time, and head off into the sunset. See you on the trail!