Perseverance – Self-Help #9



A New Definition for Me

I usually think of perseverance as just sticking with something.  But this quote brought to the fore a different aspect of perseverance for me. This focuses on the underlying reasons so many people don’t persevere; they think they’ve already worked hard enough or they simply tire of the work.  That make me think about my own work differently.

Seems To Me

Yes, I’ve done a lot of work in my Napkin Dad efforts over the years. Sometimes it seems like it should be enough work to have succeeded. But what difference does it make if it ‘seems’ like anything? You can’t go by what something seems like. You have to go with reality. And the reality says I have more work to do to get where I want to go.  In other words, ‘seems’ is irrelevant.

The Top of the Rock

Have you ever watched TV reports of rock climbers attempting to scale some giant cliff?  They never have as their goal to get half way up the cliff, right? They say they are going to conquer that mountain, not conquer the half way mark of the mountain.  

Often in rock climbing you see these beautiful photographs of the climbers in little tents hanging on a vertical cliff taking a break. They have food, shelter, warmth and they can actually survive days and weeks going up a cliff that way.  They sleep all night and start up again the next day or they may have to wait it out a day or two if there is a storm.  

But they stick to their goal, the top. No matter how tired they are, they can’t say ‘I worked hard enough, I am now at the top.’  They aren’t at the top until they are at the top, no wishing or feeling they should be at the top will change that.

Photograph © Gordon Wiltsie

Check out Gordon’s photos of extreme rock climbers at

Your Goals

It’s no difference with our goals.  Do we want to achieve something?  Then let’s set our minds to it and get started.  Take little steps, keep at it, and let’s not fool ourselves into thinking we are done before we are done. We know it will be hard work and we commit ourselves to doing it. When we are tired, we take a break.  But, we don’t shortchange ourselves and we don’t shortchange the world waiting for us to contribute what we have to give by quitting. We get out of the tent the next morning and resume our climb to our goal.


Here is the Periscope video of the #NapkinKin trying to ‘guess the quote’ as I drew.


Drawing and Commentary @2015 Marty Coleman |

Quote by Newt Gingrich, 1943 – not dead yet, American politician


Easier vs Better – Self-help #8

Crowd Sourcing

This is what happens when I decide to ask the #NapkinKin on Periscope what I should draw!  I had the quote and had just the word ‘wish’ in the top and bottom quote areas. They had to guess the quote as usual but this time I decided I would let them suggest what I would draw as well.  The result? A funny, crazy, unique and totally original napkin!  See the bottom of the post to read the chronology of the drawing’s creation.


Someone Else’s Help

Sometimes self-help is knowing when you need or want someone else’s help. You don’t have to NEED someone’s help like when you are in a burning building and need to be rescued. You can just need or want someone’s help because it’s more fun than doing something alone.

I do my drawings alone. I come up with the ideas and images and I find the quotes. I choose the elements, the characters, the backgrounds. I then choose the colors and the type and degree of shading and rendering. I do it all. What that means is sometimes you start to get in a rut. You do the expected thing a little too easily.  You fall back on a character or a color or a concept you may have done a few times too often.

Better Together

How many of us have never said, “I wish it were easier.”? Maybe it was losing weight or getting in shape. Maybe raising kids. Perhaps your marriage or job or family or home ownership or….or all of it. People just wish all of life was easier sometimes. right?

What I’ve noticed is that often that desire for things to be easier is actually a desire for a sharing of the burden. You aren’t opposed to the hard work of life, you just sometimes want to have some support in making it through.  I know it’s true in my life as a runner.  I run 5 days a week in a group I coach. I do all my own miles obviously, no one runs them for me. But I am not alone. I have companionship and support as I run the miles. Most of the people I run with think I am there for them, since I am the coach. But that is not completely true. I am a coach in no small part because I want to run with others. They meet my need as much as I meet theirs.

Friend in the Head

This week and next I am off from coaching and so am running on my own. I have been running 12 years now and it’s STILL not easy getting out my front door for a solo run. I can think of a bazillion reasons to not go between my bedroom door and the front door. But if I had a friend waiting in my driveway for me? I would not have those bazillion reasons going through my head. I would have my friend in my head. That is the power of doing things better.


How It Came About

So, as I mentioned, this funny and strange drawing came about via crowd sourcing on Periscope.  Here is how it came about.  All the people mentioned can be followed on Periscope.

The first suggestion was from @orion. He said draw stars (based on the fact that ‘wish’ was the only word showing).

@frogulox (Aaron) said there should be a top hat. I ended up drawing a sort of stove pipe top hat.

I had a suggestion of a rabbit from @futureartist123 (Mario).  My attempt rendered a whale instead who fit snuggly under the top hat.

@feynwoman (Julia) suggested flowers. Since the whale was looking up, I decided flowers growing off the tree would be what he was looking at.

Then @ladyNynah (Antonia) said a tree and @JCahoonArtist (Jennifer) said a cactus about the same time.  So, I drew a cactitree.

A cane with a bauble on top was then suggested by @frogulux, which I gave to the whale, along with a bow tie.  Fred Astairewhale was born.  He also asked for a hole in the tree for a gnome. I made the hole, but later @gintonics2 (Ginny) suggested a little bird instead so I drew a bird we named ‘Gnome’.

Then a turtle was recommended by @sfgianttortuga (Steve, a SF Giants and Turtle fan) and @Frogulox.  I decided to make Turtle have a fascinator on her head and voila, we have Ms. Gingerturtle, the perfect friend for Mr. Astairewhale !

@LadyNynah reminded me Mr. Astairewhale needed water to survive so I gave him a swimming pool. 

Then what to put in the middle. We had suggestions of a waterfall, a ladder, and from @PeteMtz, a stepladder. I decided a stepladder would be the right size.

@hammyton (Natalie) was thinking about danger and suggested a banana peel. I made it a whole banana to make it easier to comprehend quickly.

But what to put on the stool, anything? @VictoriaJamesUK (Victoria) suggested a vase of flowers and it seemed just right.

Then it was just the background left.  @VictoriaJamesUK wanted a mountain and I fit it in behind Mr. AstaireWhale. I added a small hill on the other side, behind Ms. GingerTurtle. Then it was just a simple road going back into the distance and it was done.

The coloring was done to be as fun and bright as possible.

So, there you have what went into making this drawing, one I never could have made by myself!  

You can follow all the people mentioned on Periscope. Tell them I sent you!

Here is the video on


Drawing and commentary © 2015 Marty Coleman |

Quote by Jim Rohn, 1930 – 2009, American Entrepreneur


Crosses and Daggers – An Illustrated Short Story




She didn’t like her shoes. She worried they didn’t go with her skirt.  Her husband said they looked good together but she wasn’t sure.

Chapter One

When Sonya arrived at Starbucks he was already there. She noticed his shirt first since it was the same color as her shoes. He didn’t see her since he was facing away and writing in what looked like some sort of notebook calendar type thing.  It was hot out so she walked behind him without saying anything and stood in line. She stared at his head because he had gray hair and she was surprised by that. He looked old because of it but then again not that old because his hair was full. She thought it was probably thicker than hers.

Dennis was annoyed she was late.  He had arrived a minute early and had already been there 6 minutes. That meant she was 5 minutes late, not a good sign as far as he was concerned.  He started writing notes in his calendar book, hoping to get rid of his annoyance. It wasn’t working. In addition he hated the shirt his wife had picked out for him. He hated the baby blue color. He hated the buttons. He hated the scratchy label in the collar.

Chapter Two

Sonya got herself an iced cherry something or other, she wasn’t sure what it was called. But she liked the color and that usually was a good enough sign that she would like it.  She walked over to Dennis’ table, speaking and putting her hand on his back as she passed. He jumped as she did that. He hated to be touched. He tried to hide his scowl but she caught a glimpse of it as she turned around to sit down. She smile and introduced herself, holding out her hand to shake his. She could tell his smile was forced as he reached out his hand.  His hand was cold and clammy and his grip was non-existent, as if he was a young boy who hadn’t learned to grip yet.  She got a creepy feeling from him.

Dennis was startled when he felt the hand on his back. Then this loud grating voice startled him even more. The touch, the voice then the face all all told him in about 15 seconds that he wasn’t going to hire her. She had straggly hair, too much eyeliner and eyeshadow that was a weird color. He couldn’t imagine her fitting in at the office. He could see his secretary making fun of her and the maintenance guy trying to hit on her. He could see his assistant not wanting to work with her.

Chapter Three

Sonya smiled as big and as often as she could. She told her testimony of how she became a Christian at the age of 17 after her mother had died.  Dennis interrupted her constantly during her story, asking her theological questions about what it was she actually believed when she converted.  He asked a number of questions about Calvinism, which she didn’t really understand at all. He was so focused on that he didn’t even acknowledge the loss of her mother.  She continued to tell about her faith journey and how it led to her wanting to work in the missions area of the church he pastored.  But she was getting angrier and angrier underneath the facade because not only did he keep interrupting but he wouldn’t look her in the eye. He did however look at her chest way too much. When he started talking he wouldn’t shut up. He bragged about his Christian journey, about his 3 degrees in Theology, about the increase in attendance, about how many times he had been on TV in the last year.  She was hating the interview and starting to hate him.

Dennis had to go through the motions of interviewing her but he wanted to make sure she had no doubt she was not a good fit by the end of it. He pressed her on important theological questions that she could not answer. He told stories about his church that she should have responded to with enthusiasm. The fact that she didn’t showed she was self-absorbed with her own overly sappy story. She would not be able to see the church had to take priority over her autobiographical obsession. No matter how hard he tried though she kept wanting it to be all about her. He smiled and said all the right Christian things but inside he was starting to hate her.

Chapter Four

Sonya left the interview very worried. She needed the job and had felt God was calling her to it until she had met Dennis. He seemed creepier as the interview went on. She could see him trying to hit on her.  When she got home she realized she hadn’t once thought about her shoes.

Dennis left the interview annoyed.  He needed to fill the job and really did think Sonya was the perfect candidate until he met her.  She seemed sloppy (she had a stain on her green jacket that he couldn’t not look at. Her Christianity was immature and overly emotional.  She did her makeup worse than his daughter did.  When he got back to his office he realized he hadn’t once thought about his annoying shirt.


Sonya eventually got a job as a secretary to a Roller Derby team, the Banford Banshees.  She helped them get organized with social media and their attendance rose 3 fold in just 2 months.  She got a tattoo of a screaming banshee on her butt.

Dennis left his church for a new pastoral position in Beaumont Falls.  He served that congregation loyally until the voted him out due to declining attendance. He became depressed until he got a job selling shoes at the mall.  Women loved how he put high heels on them.

The End

Drawing and story © 2015 Marty Coleman |

If you would like to read more illustrated short stories you can find them in the ‘Sketchbook’ drop down menu above.



Mind Flowers – Self-Help #7



Yesterday I watched a Periscope by a friend in the UK named Victoria (@victoriajamesUK). She is starting a new daily broadcast where she and her followers will all say one positive thing about themselves each day.  It’s a good practice to get into, especially if you are prone to beating yourself up over anything and everything.

She was talking about using a hashtag so everyone would know where to find the broadcasts and tweets and she used a phrase that included the words ‘mind and flowers’. I wrote back, shortening it to just #mindflowers. She liked that quite a bit and decided to use it.

In the meanwhile, A few days ago I had written down some quotes on the topic of self-help.   When I went to start my drawing, and the accompanying Periscope, I saw this quote among the ones I had chosen.  It was an obvious choice to use today!


I got a text last night from a friend who was upset that she couldn’t argue a certain point very well. She had posted a statement on Facebook and had gotten some backlash for it. She tried to argue her point, and I thought she did it pretty well, but she did not. The reason? Because the person she was arguing with ended up not agreeing with her.  Boy, if I felt I failed every time my simply brilliant arguments didn’t lead to the reader or listener to come to their senses and agree with me, I would feel like a failure ALL THE TIME.

What my friend was hoping to see was an immediate acknowledgement of the rightness of her position. Don’t we all, right? But the truth is most changes of opinion don’t happen like that. Changes of opinion do happen, and I am all for arguing your position. But changes happen when the time is right for them, not necessarily when you happen to make the argument.


Think about a garden.  in the middle of winter you can have seeds or bulbs underground getting plenty of water from rain or snow melting, right? That doesn’t mean those seeds or bulbs are going to sprout and blossom.  They have a much more complex dynamic going on, as does our minds.  The water (argument) is essential.  But so is temperature (society) and soil (biology) and fertilizer (circumstances) and more.  One argument is like one watering of the garden. It isn’t going to grow the garden if there isn’t another watering later on, if there isn’t good soil, the right temperature, the right nutrients.  The garden will grow in it’s own time, when it is ready to grow.

Our minds open and blossom in their own time, and it’s wise for us to be patient with ourselves and others as to when and how that is going to happen. It doesn’t mean you don’t put forth your beliefs and opinions of what is right. It just means you understand and trust the process.

Periscope and Katch

I am now having my Periscope videos automatically saved at  Here’s the one from yesterday where I drew this napkin.

You can find more of my scopes at


Drawing and commentary © 2015 Marty Coleman |

Quote by Stephan Richards, 1977 – not dead yet, American author



The Most of You – Self-help #6


Hello again Napkin Kin!

This is #6 in my self-help series. I have done them all live on Periscope (@thenapkindad #napkinkin). Some of them have been a ‘Guess the Quote’ style scope where I start with just a few words of the quote on a blank napkin and the viewers guess the quote as I draw. The drawing hopefully is illustrating the quote so the more I draw the more hints the viewers have of what the quote might be about.

The only rule is you can’t google the quote. You have to just guess live.  While doing this drawing someone did look it up but it was towards the end so it wasn’t a big deal. Plus, I had forgotten to mention that rule at the beginning anyway.

Being Deliberate

The key to making the most of who you are is first, knowing who you want to be.  Not ALL of who you want to be, just part. Then, you act deliberately to become that.  As you create that part of you that will help you understand what more you want to do or be. Then you go about doing that as well.  Yes, you may have a big picture vision of your overall ‘YOU’ but practically speaking you are going to be doing one small step towards that at a time.  So, focus on that and don’t worry about the big picture, it will take care of itself.

Being Courageous

Another essential element is courage.  Whoever you want to become, whether it’s the best burlesque dancer in town or the town librarian, someone is going to judge you negatively for it.  You may be judged a loose woman of easy virtue as they used to say. You may be judged a prude and a spinster.  It doesn’t matter what you choose, someone won’t like it.  But it’s your life, not theirs, right? And if you want to live their life then bow to their judgment and be who they want you to be. But if you want to live YOUR life, then have the courage to say, “This is my life, my choice.”

The Juiciest Peach

There is a famous quote by Dita Von Teese, “You can be the juiciest peach on the tree and there is still someone out there who doesn’t like peaches.”  It’s futile to try to persuade every random person on the planet that you are a juicy peach.  You just go about being the peach you want to be and be that confidently. That confidence and courage will do more to persuade the world and gain you respect than any bending over backwards trying to please everyone.

Drawing and commentary © 2015 Marty Coleman |

Quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson


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