This is how synergy improves your work

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Artwork by John P. Weiss

To anyone concerned about today’s younger generation abandoning the classical arts for video games and social media, look no further than John Fenerov.

Literature has always been Fenerov’s first love, followed by art. His favorite authors are Charles Dickens and Dostoevsky.

Some of his favorite books are David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen, and Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Not exactly lightweight reading.

According to his website, John Fenerov is a Greek visual artist, illustrator, and designer based in Cyprus. He mainly focuses on portraiture, and experimental themes based on literature, art, and design.

Fenerov is a relatively young man with literary and artistic tastes grounded in the classics. …


How to overcome burnout and live again

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Artwork by John P. Weiss

Over the last few years, I have posted tons of blog posts and thousands of comments online. I enjoy writing and consider it a privilege to have people read and follow my work.

I illustrate all my articles and stories, which adds additional time and energy to the research and writing I put into each published post. It’s a labor of love, but sometimes the things we love can wear us out.

What should we do when career or creative burnout creeps into our souls? …


Stop doing these 9 things to improve your life

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Artwork by John P. Weiss

I was spoiled growing up. There’s no sense denying it. My Dad was an administrative law judge and my mother a devoted homemaker. We weren’t millionaires but quite comfortable.

We lived in the hills of Los Gatos, California, with an amazing view of Silicon Valley. Every Christmas there were tons of presents under the tree.

After opening my gifts, I used to phone my neighborhood buddy to compare notes on our loot. Then we’d meet up later to play with our new toys.

My mother made all my meals, cleaned and folded my laundry, and chauffeured me to friend’s homes and tennis matches. …


How to manage an unfamiliar world

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Illustrations by John P. Weiss

I wonder if the dead send us random thought mail? Ethereal messages from beyond the veil, their meaning intentionally elusive.

The other night I dreamt of Lane. He was a friendly, pudgy, red-headed boy I knew in grade school. He used to join my group of friends at lunchtime.

We would sit in a circle on the playground asphalt, amidst the tetherball poles, telling jokes. He had a hardy laugh, often spitting flecks of his peanut butter and jelly sandwich all over us.

“Being a kid was much more fun than being an adult. …


Have you forgotten why you exist?

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Artwork by John P. Weiss

The parking lot of our local supermarket was crowded when I pulled into an empty stall. All manner of people were coming and going, adjusting their face masks and juggling groceries.

I sighed, realizing it would be crowded and busy inside. I turned off the engine and leaned back in my seat. Sometimes I enjoy sitting quietly in my car, safely cocooned from the bustle and frenetic pace of life. I seem to need such moments now and again, to mentally check out and daydream.

There was an older model car adjacent to me that had seen better days. The paint was faded and scratched, and the bumper dented. Within sat an elderly woman in the driver’s seat. …


It feels good but it’s not good for you

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Artwork by John P. Weiss

I’ll bet you’ve seen this dozens of times at work. Something doesn’t get done or a project falls through. The accountability game begins, and the excuses fly. Fingers are pointed.

Your manager questions someone on your team. The team member swears he sent the invoice and suggests Suzie was responsible for follow-up. Suzie fumes at the accusation, and claims that George was tasked with sending the invoice. “And we all know how distracted George can get,” Suzie adds.

An angry George lists three times in the last month that Suzie failed to respond to his emails, and then turns on Doug, saying, “Doug was lead on this project, how come he didn’t stay on top of the deliverables?” …


How to find calm on the seas of creativity

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Artwork by John P. Weiss

Imagine what it must have felt like for Leonard Bernstein. It was Christmas day, 1989 in East Berlin.

Bernstein, the American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer, and pianist was there to conduct Beethoven’s Symphony №9 in East Berlin’s Schauspielhaus as part of a celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

It was a historic event and the concert was broadcast live to over twenty countries and approximately 100 million viewers.

The concert included an international cast of notable singers and musicians. The result was a powerful and stirring performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (view the actual video here.)

What many may not have known during the concert was that Leonard Bernstein was dying. …


You can make it beautiful

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Artwork by John P. Weiss

What does it mean when someone says that a house has good bones? According to an article in moving.com, it means the following:

“In general, a home with ‘good bones’ is considered to be a good home with the potential to be a great home. It typically describes a fixer-upper or some sort of neglected house (think: diamond in the rough) that features quality, well-made construction — hence the good bones meaning.”

Realtors know that not every house is in perfect condition. While the overall structure of the house may be sound, there are often flaws and needed improvements.

“Every spirit makes its house, and we can give a shrewd guess from the house to the inhabitant.” -Ralph Waldo…


How to rescue the passion

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Artwork by John P. Weiss

A lot of people are not engaged at work. They’re bored, distracted, uninspired, trapped, or burned out. Others might enjoy aspects of their work, but overall they’re dissatisfied.

A past Gallup study found that only 13% or one-eighth of employees across 142 countries are engaged at work. The study notes:

“The bulk of employees worldwide — 63% — are ‘not engaged,’ meaning they lack motivation and are less likely to invest discretionary effort in organizational goals or outcomes. And 24% are ‘actively disengaged,’ indicating they are unhappy and unproductive at work and liable to spread negativity to coworkers.”

Does this describe you? Are you unhappy in your work? If so, you’re clearly not alone. …


And how to become more effective.

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Artwork by John P. Weiss

When I was a boy, my best friend, Steven, didn’t invite me to one of his birthday celebrations. He invited another friend from his school, and they went to a local carnival.

Steven and I lived near one another and were inseparable. Almost every day we got together after school to play frisbee, ride our bikes, and have fun. So naturally, I was confused and jealous when he excluded me from his birthday celebration.

My father found me sulking in my bedroom and asked what was wrong. I told him that Steven went to a carnival for his birthday with another friend, and didn’t invite me. …


The value of a rare girl

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Artwork by John Patrick Weiss

When I was a young man attending university, I applied to be a resident assistant in the campus apartments and dormitories. Resident assistants receive free room and board in exchange for providing counseling and event planning for students living on campus.

I got the job, which thrilled my father since he was footing the bill for my education. Unfortunately, I only lasted one year as a resident assistant.

I started strong, organizing dorm events, and counseling students who were struggling with personal problems. …


There is no passion to be found playing small

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Artwork by John Patrick Weiss

I grew up in the hills of Northern California. My backyard was the woods, where I built tree houses, stalked deer, and played on rope swings. I shot empty Coke cans with my Daisy BB gun and tried to catch blue belly lizards.

I sat beneath trees, daydreamed, and sketched birds. But my favorite woodland activity was exploring.

There were so many deer paths in the woods and I enjoyed exploring their narrow possibilities. Sometimes, I’d lose track of time and find myself in unfamiliar territory.

Other times, as I hiked ahead, I’d hear the faint call of my father echo through the woods. Calling me home for lunch or dinner.

Occasionally, I’d trudge deep into the woods and realize the sun was low and dusk settling in. Every strange sound caused a sense of fear and urgency in my mind. …


A story about embracing the next chapter of your life

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Illustration by John P. Weiss

Maggie set her glass of chardonnay down, smiled at the group, and said, “I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed working with you all. It just doesn’t seem real. I’ve been in this design firm for 25 years. I feel ancient!”

Everyone smiled and then Phillip, her boss, raised a glass. “A toast to Maggie Fuentes! Thank you for your expertise, loyalty, and friendship. May your well-earned retirement open new doors and happiness!” Applause erupted as the festive balloons bounced around them in the wine bar.

“Thanks, Phil. Thanks, everyone,” Maggie said. She looked down at her wine glass for a moment. “I just wish Edward could have been here. …


This is the unorthodox solution

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Artwork by John P. Weiss

I’ve been in a creative and artistic rut lately. The worst part is that I have no reason to complain.

I get to write and create art full-time in my home studio. I set my schedule, and am free to pursue whatever creative direction I choose to.

A lot of artists and writers would kill for the chance to pursue their creative passion full-time. Who am I to complain?

And yet here I am, artistically adrift.

Well, I was adrift, until an unexpected incident in a bookstore.

A rut and a grave

It’s not always obvious that we’ve fallen into a rut. Sometimes we’re so busy with the rhythms and responsibilities of life that we fail to recognize the growing malaise burrowing deep into our souls. …


The hidden benefits of a little chaos

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Artwork by John P. Weiss

Like everyone else stuck in pandemic hibernation, I’ve indulged social media more than I should. What’s worse, I know that Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms are time-sucking rabbit holes. Dark caves designed to swallow our attention indefinitely.

In my defense, there’s a purpose to my Instagram spelunking. I’m searching for answers to a creative and artistic malaise that burrowed into me months ago.

I reached a place where my creative work no longer satisfied me. My landscape paintings felt like tired cliches. Same old rocks, trees, and mountains.

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My cartoon illustrations lost their sketchy spark. Where once I used to spend a lot of time fleshing out cartoons with detail, I began simplifying them. …


A story to help you get better results

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Illustrations by John P. Weiss

I’d been hiking for an hour in the arid landscape of Patagonia when I came upon an old cabin. It appeared to be a little guest house.

A well-worn dirt path traced from the cabin to a large home in the distance. Just then, a grizzled looking man spoke to me from the cabin window.

“Can I help ya?”

“Uh, yeah. Sorry. Kind of got lost. I’m visiting friends in town.” With that, I set my backpack down. The old man opened the weathered cabin door and ambled out.

“Visitors sometimes get turned around out here. Or maybe it’s the spirits. The woods and rocks. They have their ways,” he said, drawing on a Camel cigarette. Then he coughed. …


Improve this skill for a better life

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Illustrations by John P. Weiss

If you happen to be a military person, government functionary, or civilian factory worker in North Korea, you might want to invest in a pen and small notebook.

North Korea’s Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un, often visits military installations, government buildings, factories, and other locales in his cloistered country.

In most photos of these visits, you’ll notice people around Chairman Kim clutching and writing in little notebooks. North Koreans are led to believe that the Kim dynasty leaders are essentially infallible. Accordingly, whenever Chairman Kim visits and offers advice, they do more than listen. They write everything down.

The obedient note-taking telegraphs respect, and shows that they are paying close attention. In a country where people disappear all the time, it’s probably wise not to upset Chairman Kim. …


How to reinvent yourself like a sculptor

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Artwork by John P. Weiss

Are you happy with yourself and the way you are? Or is there a nagging little voice deep within that’s begging for change?

I tried to ignore the nagging voice because change is hard. Change is uncomfortable. Fear of unknown outcomes can immobilize us, like in dreams when we try to run but can’t.

I’ve been in a dream for some time now, stuck in the same place creatively, unable to move. …


Whatever happened to the Golden Rule?

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Artwork by John P. Weiss

Nearly five centuries before Jesus Christ, the Chinese philosopher Confucius taught, “Do not do unto others what you do not want done to yourself.” The three Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam echo this teaching, which is known as “The Golden Rule.”

The best of these religions is about behaving better. Embracing love and compassion. Learning to dethrone yourself from the center of your world and putting others there.

However, man is also a political animal. Often people don’t want to be compassionate. They want to be right. So much ugliness is committed in the name of being right.

Karen Armstrong is a British author and commentator of Irish Catholic descent. …


How making money from your passion can ruin it

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Artwork and photos by John P. Weiss

Is there a purpose and value to pursuing seemingly useless activities? In this age of productivity, efficiency, and getting ahead, who has time to waste?

For many of us, there’s endless stuff to do. Apart from work, relationships, raising kids, sleep, and exercise, shouldn’t we use our precious remaining hours productively?

If you asked my father that question back in the late 1960s, his answer might have been “No.” He once told me that it’s important to take time out for yourself. To daydream, read, and explore one’s passions for the simple joy of it.

“Relax, recharge, and reflect. Sometimes it’s OK to do nothing.” …


How to reclaim a more productive life

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I was chatting on WhatsApp last month with a fellow cartoonist friend named Sean D’Souza. Sean runs an amazing digital marketing website called psychotactics.com, along with its sister website 5000bc.com.

Sean always impresses me with his helpful content, original cartoons, and amazing photography. It seems I consistently learn something new when I connect with Sean. In our WhatsApp chat last month we discussed how we’re both dealing with the pandemic.

I shared that my life hasn’t changed much because I work from home and was already a bit of a hermit. I added that my wife and I watch TV in the evenings, but we’re running out of interesting programs to view. …


Why the creative arts are good for you

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Artwork by John P. Weiss

She was an elderly widow who lived alone, except for her alcoholic son who occasionally stayed in the downstairs portion of the house.

One night her son got into an argument with his girlfriend and battered her violently. He had been drinking and tended to get abusive. The mother called 9–1–1 and the son fled in his vehicle before our police officers arrived.

I was a night shift Sergeant back then. I remember responding to the residence to assist the officers on the scene.

The downstairs room where the son stayed was a mess. Liquor bottles on the floor, an overturned chair, dirty laundry. …


The powerful strategy you need to embrace

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In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I was an avid tennis player. I spent my summers at the local community college, practicing my strokes against a backboard and picking up a few games here and there.

One of the top men’s tennis players back then was Jimmy Connors, and he was my idol. I was mesmerized by Connors’s powerful, two-handed flat backhand, and the way he threw his entire body weight into each groundstroke. I copied his style and played with the same T-2000 tennis racket.

“Use it or lose it.” -Jimmy Connors

My parents recognized my love for tennis and hired a kindly tennis coach named Charlie T. Sharples to help me improve my game. I had a few friends that played tennis, and we played nearly every day. My game improved, but then I hit a wall. …


How your calling can save you

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Artwork by John P. Weiss

The police chief’s executive assistant rarely left phone messages for me. I was the grave shift sergeant, largely invisible from the daytime operations of the police department.

“Sergeant Weiss, the Chief would like to see you Thursday morning before you leave your shift.” That was the recording that played back when I checked my voicemails.

A patrol officer leaving the squad room overheard the message and said, “Well that can’t be good.”

“Don’t you have a patrol shift to get to?” …


How a monk can help you improve your life

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Artwork and photography by John P. Weiss

When I awoke the birds outside were in full song. There’s a mocking bird who is a regular. He’s been busy trying to attract a mate, often singing and dancing atop a nearby street light.

The house finches and verdins chirp and flit about in the courtyard as I leash my two dogs for our morning walk. The hummingbirds zoom around my wife’s citrus garden, but also frequent the red feeder outside our kitchen. I call it their local pub.

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The fountain in our courtyard

It’s early, but the fountain in our courtyard is on. The trickling of water is soothing, as I take in the sweet scent from our blooming lemon tree. …

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