Drowning in Wealth – Wealth #5



wealth #5 2014


I was raised in a very wealthy community, Darien, Connecticut, during my Jr. High and High School years. There was a LOT of money around.  One thing I noticed as I was growing up was having that money gave no immunity to family problems.  Yesterday I mentioned that having great wealth can exacerbate problems and having been in that world for a while is how I know it’s true.  

After those teenage years my family’s financial situation balanced out to a much more average middle class existence.  I went off to college and was pretty much on my own.  All the usual things a college age kid goes through, crappy apartments, ramen noodles, part time or full time jobs doing dishes or bussing tables, I did them.  On top of that I got my degrees in Art, simply the BIGGEST money making degree one can get, right? uh huh.

Lowered Expectations, Higher Satisfactions

The result was getting married and raising a family with no where near the money my parents had. Luckily I didn’t obsess about wealth or having a lot of money. But I did have to learn that with my limited income and a growing family I had to be much more frugal with our resources than I initially thought.  I learned a number of great lessons from having to make that adjustment.

  • Doing things your self instead of hiring someone else to do it is satisfying.
  • Giving away a portion of what you make (even when it’s not a lot) to causes and people you believe in and who need help is satisfying.
  • Living life simply without garish and ostentatious displays of wealth and ego is satisfying.
  • Knowing my family and I can make do no matter what is satisfying.

The Lake of Satisfaction

The truth is you don’t drown in money when you have a lot of it. You drown in alcohol or boredom or stress or greed or ego or promiscuity or any number of other things.  And how that happens usually revolves around a desperation to keep ahold of ALL the money.  That leads to an intense level of dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

If you can open the gates of the dam and let go of that money that is overflowing  (and more is overflowing than you probably realize) you will be better able to enjoy the lake of Satisfaction instead of drowning in it.



Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman

Quote by Muhammed Ibn Zafar Al – Siqilli, 1104 – 1172, Italian Political Theorist


“Wealth is like water. They who do not open a dam to carry off its overflow drown in it.”

The Wretched Rich – Wealth #4


You will have to live with the fact that today is day $4 of our Wealth Series!


Wealth #4 - 2014


Are The Rich Different?

I don’t think they are. I think they just have more ways to get in trouble than the average Joe or Josephine.  Where I might be able to splurge on a new TV I really shouldn’t buy. A wealthy person can splurge on a new mansion full of TVs or if REALLY wealthy, a whole TV station.

Dead Broke

In an interview recently, Hillary Clinton said that when they left the White House they were dead broke.  The reason it turned into a gaffe was that the ‘Clinton’s ‘dead broke’ and the average American’s ‘dead broke’ is vastly different.  They were still able to buy a huge house in a very tony area of the New York suburbs. They both had the ability to lecture for $200,000.00 dollars a pop.  They both had the ability get paid to sit on corporate boards or start foundations that would pay them.  They may have had a cash flow issue, even the biggest and brightest companies and individuals can have that happen, but they were not dead broke.


And that’s what is meant in this quote. It would be wretched to be wealthy but still have a middle class approach to using money but have to live among those who indulge in an ostentatious and garish use of money. Of course all wealthy people aren’t that way.  Warren Buffett is one of the wealthiest men in the world and he still lives in the modest house he was born and raised in in Omaha, Nebraska.  That is one of the main reasons he is about as popular of a wealthy person as you will ever find.

OK, I’ll Take the Chance

The last few ‘wealth’ posts I did last week got responses where the contributor said something like, “Yes, it could be a problem being wealthy, but I think I would take the chance.”  Me too.  I would be willing to try being super wealthy, running the wretched risk.  But I would always want to remember that whatever I am not, good and bad, will only be increased with great wealth.  

It’s a good reason to practice the good and put away the bad as often as possible….just in case the wealth comes in!



Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman

Quote by Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 – 1946, American-born British essayist and critic.


“The wretchedness of being rich is that you have to live among rich people”


The Glory of our ‘Problems’ – A Fitness and Photography Story



misfortunes #1 2014


The Problem

Yesterday I did a photo shoot in a park filled with gigantic rocks and steep, narrow trails. There were gnarled tree roots trailing all over the ground and the rocks, loose branches and dirt were everywhere, and the heat was well into the 90s.  My friend and model, Brittany, was doing yoga poses for me in what was essentially a scouting trip for a future group photo shoot I will lead later this year.  

I investigated the park beforehand and found it was a mecca for local rock climbers. As I read up on that I found something interesting.  Each rock climb a person does seems to be called a ‘Problem’.  And that makes sense to me. It’s a problem to be solved. How to get up and get down the rock.

Suffering for Art

We had a great time and got some fantastic shots.  At the very end we had to ascend a pretty steep trail covered with roots. I had a two photo bags and attempted to make it up without putting them down. Brittany even asked if she should hold them while I went up. As I said no, I lost my balance and fell/slid back down the trail. I only went down maybe 10-15 feet so it was no big deal but somehow I hyperextended my left middle finger and got a small gash on my palm while trying to hold on to my bags and catch my balance.  I then gave her the bags and tried again, successfully this time.

The finger felt pretty stiff and it didn’t want to bend all that much. But I knew it wasn’t broken so we finished up the shoot and went and had a nice lunch. I showed it to my wife when she got home last night. It was the illustration for my narrative about the shoot and the environment. 

The Hard Working Muse

Brittany meanwhile escaped without injury. But she didn’t escape without plenty of ‘problems’. She did incredibly hard work hiking, climbing and posing in heat that was above 90º by the time we were done.  She balanced on very high rocks.  She crawled under low tree limbs through the dirt.  She held intense poses on undulating tree roots halfway up rock faces. She planked over dry gullies while perched on two small flat rocks feet away from each other. All the while she was trying her best to look good, pose well, keep from slipping due to sweat being all over her, keep from laughing, keep from keeling over from dehydration (we had plenty of water, don’t worry. But it was REALLY hot!) .  She figured out the solution to a multitude of problems. It was amazing to watch her work.

Here is one of the photos of Brittany to give you an idea of what it was like.


Brittany Doing Yoga

Parsva Bakasana – Side Crane Pose




What Remains

Sometimes misfortune or ‘problem’ is what we really remember.  Brittany and I will always have the photos to view years later, and that will be great. But the story we tell about the day will be filled with how difficult and harsh the environment was and how much fun we had finding the solutions to the multitude of problems we set for ourselves.

 That is the essence of great storytelling after all, right?



Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman

Quote by Samuel Johnson, 1709 – 1784, English 


“Depend on it that if a man talks about his misfortunes there is something in them that is not disagreeable to him.”

Creativity Coaching – Marla Selph

Creativity Coaching

Part of my Napkin Dad plan for 2014 and beyond is being a Creativity Coach.  I have been an art and drawing instructor at the college level, have lectured locally and nationally on everything from Photography to ‘Coping with Change’, have been writing advice and insights on creativity on this blog for over 6 years and  I have been hired a number of times to help people one on one to implement their ideas in fashion, social media, real estate and branding.

In one form or another, I’ve been a creativity coach most of my life. There is more information about this at the end of the story.


I met Marla for lunch recently at Cosmo Cafe in Brookside.  We had met a number of years before when I had been doing a project called ‘In Public/In Private’ about reporters and anchors in the Tulsa area.  At the time she was kind enough to share some of her poetry with me and I thought it was pretty good.



Creative Block

Fast forward a few years and recently I asked her how the poetry was going. She mentioned it was tough to find the time and I gave an encouraging word or two, hoping to help motivate her to write some more.  We set a time to meet to talk about her writing and how she might be able to move forward with it.

I asked a number of questions about her creative process; how she goes about being creative, what works and what doesn’t, and that led us on to possible directions, experiments and exercises she could do to build momentum in her creative pursuits, both at work and on her own time.

Small Steps

As a running coach for the last 4 years I have learned the value of small steps.  No one goes from couch to marathon. They go from couch to 5k. And that takes 12 weeks.  And it’s hard.  They can get to whatever distance they want but it happens in small increments.

The same is true of creativity development. If we are stuck, we often want a BIG PLAN to get unstuck. But the big plan, while maybe great for ultimate creative career goals, is not going to be effective in bringing out your creativity.  Why? Well, big plans are pretty intimidating, they take a lot of time, and there’s the demon of high expectations looming over it all.  It’s very easy to become paralyzed by the intensity of the process.  

But small steps are doable. You don’t have to shout them to the world, you don’t have to get some ego validation for it because it took so much out of you. All you have to do it write that one line, draw that one drawing, sing or play that one song. The rest will take care of itself. 

As part of our coaching collaboration, we plan to meet a number of times over the rest of the year. The purpose is to build on the momentum she has started, explore avenues for creativity in her work and her private life, and, most importantly, keep taking those small steps.


As is the case often with reporters, she had to take a number of calls and texts during our lunch.  I used the time to draw her.


Marla Working Her Phones

Marla Working Her Phones




Here she is after I had done the original line drawing.


Marla with Drawing

Marla with Drawing



Your Turn

If you need a jump start in some area of your creative life, I would love to help you. You might want honest feedback about something you have created in a safe, supportive environment.  You might want to talk about where you can go with your creative output.  Perhaps you have put your creativity on the shelf and don’t know how to take it down off the shelf and get it to work again.  

Whatever it is, I can help you. contact me at marty@napkindad.com or 918-760-0581 and we can talk about the particulars.




Off To College – A Father’s Wisdom


Thanks to Rob Lowe for his story and the quote.


inside out #1 2014


Empty Nest

My daughters are all long gone from the household.  The eldest left for college in the East Coast in 2000.  The youngest left for college in 2008.  I remember the last one really well.  It was traumatic for my wife more than for me, but it was emotional for all of us.

A Father’s Wisdom

I was reminded of those emotions yesterday when I read a fantastic essay on a father’s first child leaving for college.  The link to the memoir is below with the quote author. It is well worth reading. It was exquisitely written, full of memories and love, heartbreak and pride. The father thought the son was bearing it all very well until after a introductory session with all the students and parents. The son turned to the father, with wet eyes giving him away, and said, “None of the other kids look scared at all.”  The father said what I think is some of the best advice anyone can ever get when you are overwhelmed with emotion, “Never compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.”  

The Inside is Not Out

It’s so easy to look at the bright colors, big smiles, hearty laugh, nice clothes, high energy and perfect style that is on the outside and think that is a reflection of the inside.  And yes, sometimes it is. But we humans are FILLED with emotions and feelings, fears and worries, that never make it to our outer surface. They are deep swimmers in the middle of the ocean. They don’t venture to the surface often, if at all, and thus are never seen by others.

But rest assured, they are there whether you see them or not.  Don’t assume, don’t judge. Just be open to discovering who those people around you really are.  You will find if you dive down just a bit, their deep swimmers might come up and be seen.


Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman

Quote and memoir by Rob Lowe, 1964 – not dead yet, American actor. Rob Lowe on sending his son to college.


Photo courtesy of Rob Lowe


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