Choose Yourself Lessons from a Junk Artist


I have a friend who loves to talk about his Junk and if you ask nicely, he’ll even show it to you.


Some people can turn their Junk into art. Not me. My Junk always ends up in piles next to my bed. I have a friend named Don who makes a living by driving a bus, but he makes a life by reclaiming Junk.

Junk13I think that Don is a Junk Artist. He makes Junk into Art by adding a little soul to everything that he creates. He and his wife Sharry have an amazing family. Their laughter spills out of the house and spreads light into the community. I wonder if maybe his families’ infectious attitude comes from Don’s Junk.

Don has discovered that there is an art to finding your art, and when you go out of your way to find your art, you may just find yourself.


Don told me about how one evening he was working in his front yard and an older woman walked past his house. She must not have seen him because she  scanned his front yard and said out loud, “Junk, just junk!” Rather than being insulted, Don made a T-shirt to celebrate his Junk.

"Don't Touch My Junk!"
“Don’t Touch My Junk!”

Don makes beauty out of leftovers. He loves making things and he pours his energy into creating rather than worrying about the haters. Don has discovered that there is an art to finding your art, and when you go out of your way to find your art, you may just find yourself.

Art is creating something that previously did not exist, often by combining materials in an unusual or unexpected way. Found art challenges what we think about beauty and it pushes back against our tendency to discard things without any regard for our environment. Found art is profoundly hopeful.

The 9 Steps to Becoming a Junk Artist

1. Capitalize Your Junk. It’s not just junk… it’s Junk! Treating our Junk like it is worthless is an insult to our past and to our future because we ignore the lessons we could have learned and the potential of an unlived day.

Junk Art is about standing up for your own style and it is a Re-Creative Art. I wrote a poem about Junk Art, for Don.

Junk6To create something new,

Just reach for the glue.

2. Begin by looking Around. Don does not have a grand plan for his Junk. Junk Art is not about collecting anything that is left on the corner. Junk Art is selective. Don looks for things that fit his themes, he is a Junk Whisperer. I know how this sounds, but being a Junk Whisperer begins with being a Junk Listener. Just don’t tell anyone that you listen to your Junk. You will get some strange looks.

Being a Junk Whisperer begins with being a Junk Listener.

3. Begin to Wander and you will make room for more Wonder. Follow your inspiration and your inspiration will fill you. The word “Inspire” literally means to breathe in (In-Spirit). What we expect, we look for; what we look for, we find. If we expect to find Junk that fits our story, we will find exactly that. When you let yourself wander, you never know where that will lead you. Be prepared, because your Junk may just take you on an adventure.

Our Themes give life to our Dreams.

4. Tell a Story. Junk is no longer Junk when it tells a story. Don’s story has three main themes: Glass, Light and Trees. You or I may not be Junk Artists, but our themes can change our lives: Our Themes give life to our Dreams. Get a Theme and then create your life around it… (You never know, maybe you will even create some Junk-Art in the process). 

5. Your Junk will Find You if You Let it. First, you need to prepare by getting the proper tools and workspace. It does not take much: a corner, a table top, a shelf. Junk may present itself in pieces, so you need to love it back to life by having the right tools and glue. Your only limit is your imagination.

6. Put the Cling in Recy-Cling. Creating a life, a home and a career takes persistence. We all know that. What we forget is that passion means hard work that may even suck.

Passion happens when you work through things that suck rather than doing something you always (or mostly) enjoy. Figuring out how to make a nasty job enjoyable is a skill. It’s called character.

When you love yourself, you open up to the world. Only in loving who we are can we love others for who they are.

7. Choose Your Junk. Don has chosen himself. His creativity makes him a better human being. When you love yourself, you open up to the world. Only in loving who we are can we love others for who they are.


8. Take the Funk out of Your Junk. Junk can be Funky… old running shoe funky. When you bring home Junk, it may cause some Funky Feelings in your relationship. Every couple should talk about their Junk. Relationships thrive when we give space to each other to express our unique passions. Choosing yourself begins with saying “yes” to the passions that each of you may have. Some passions may have only a shelf, or a tiny blog. Begin where you are and start small. Couples thrive when each person has a place for their Junk.

“We find treasures in the corners.” Don D.

9. We Create junk through Neglect. Once you find your Junk you have to take care of it and value it. Sometimes we take on too much and then we have to cut back or de-clutter. If we continue to add to our Junk but don’t invest time to maintain it, it will go back to it’s fallen state and become junk.

A little Junk in the Trunk is better than a lot of junk in a Funk.


Keep it Real


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All photos property of smswaby.


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4 thoughts on “Choose Yourself Lessons from a Junk Artist

  1. I love this story, Sean. For many years, I collected other people’s discarded furniture and painted it, turning it into a whimsical thing of beauty. My home (and my former client’s homes) are filled with trash that was turned into treasure. I believe this is my mission, to see the beauty and potential when others see garbage.

    This is what led me to see my own potential, after many years of suppressing it to serve others. And it’s what led me to a career as a dating coach, helping others love themselves first and see their own beautiful potential.

    Rock on Don!

    Liked by 1 person

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