How to Stare at Trees

Dex Jones
8 min readFeb 6, 2020


When you close your eyes, what do you daydream about? If you had the ability to do whatever your heart desires, without fear of poverty, or someone already having done it a million times over, what would you do?

Do you ever see those motivational posters in big offices and schools that say, You can do anything you put your mind to, and nothing is impossible if you dare to dream? Did you just get a little nauseated at the memory? Me too.

Those posters look super positive and all, but they don’t exactly tell you what to dream, or how to make enough money to not eat 33 cent ramen noodles for dinner everyday. Those “motivational” posters are usually placed in the same offices or hallways that tell you that you have to go to a prestigious university, get a good paying, “real job”, and begin your career by twenty-two. The heck?

As we prepared for college in our teen years, we were told to find our passions. Um, how the heck were we supposed to know what our passions are at age 17? Y’all, we’d barely lived. How were we supposed to decide what we wanted in a job for the remainder of our (give or take) 70 years? Sure, we couldn’t be trusted to vote, weren’t old enough to buy a beer, couldn’t even go to the bathroom without a signed permission slip, but were pressured into making the decision about where we wanted to show up every morning Monday through Friday to make a living for ourselves? Something doesn’t smell right…

But alas, we did the things, because that’s what we were supposed to do, right? And now, here we are, nearing the end of our 20s, already burned out on work. Luckily for some of us, that sparks a season of change. To those of you who got it right early on- congratulations! To those of you who have already accepted that this is just life and you’re stuck where you are, I’m talking to you.

With now a decade of life experience under our belts, we have finally started to learn who we are and what it is that makes us truly happy. I’d say if there was ever a good time for a career shift, this is probably it.

But what if- hear me out- you got paid “real money” doing what you really love to do?

*Insert gasp here*

I want to tell you something.

It’s a secret that everybody knows, but nobody really knows.

There is someone



who wants

to buy your passion!

How do I know this for sure? I did a little field research. I sat down one day at my handy- dandy laptop, and thought up the most boring possible passion that someone could think of, and I looked it up.

I googled “How to stare at trees”.

I am 100 percent serious. Do you know what I found? I found a video with 1.8 THOUSAND views. That’s nearly two thousand people that were interested in watching somebody stare at trees. Are you freaking kidding me? If that is not a sign from the universe that somebody, anybody, might be interested in your passion, no matter how unimportant you may feel it is in contributing to the financial world, somebody thinks your passion lights their heart on fire.

I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life- I just didn’t know it. By the time I graduated high school, I had already been involved in five different businesses. It began in fifth grade, when my sister and I opened our own car wash to earn money instead of receiving an allowance. In seventh grade, I started my own envelope business (super flashy for a 12 year old, right?). Eight grade; newspaper. The bug continued in my sophomore year of high school, when I began to write stories for people on demand. My close friend Brandie still asks me about them, and it makes my heart soar. Finally, in my senior year, I had my own little side hustle of baking cheesecakes and selling them to other students (and one teacher!) in between classes.

I knew as a young girl that I had a talent for words. When I was younger, I loved to write short stories. I loved to write about the news. I loved essays (what?!). I was on the yearbook staff for several years of my childhood in two different schools, I wrote for the school paper in high school and in college. In eighth grade, I started my own newspaper. I still have a copy of that paper. I just knew I was going to be a writer. But I let the outside get in and influence my path.

As I got older, I had so many of my close peers and mentors telling me that the things I wanted to do, I would never be able to make enough money to survive. You see, when you tell people you want to be a writer, they immediately imagine you sitting in a coffee shop, a broke and struggling artist. They don’t tell you there are like, hella ways to make money with words.

One would think, with all these years of experience, that by the time I graduated high school I’d be one of the lucky ones, right? I should have already figured out what I was going to be. But alas, I was at a loss.

What I wanted to do was write. I love journalism, I love creative writing. I loved making people happy and studying their faces as they read the words I so carefully strung together; my own little masterpieces. But as I neared the end of my high school experience and prepared for life as an adult, I was consistently told that a career in writing would not be sustainable, and I would never make enough money to support myself. So when the time came for college, and I was SOL on a clue for what to major in. My stepfather told me the moment I turned 18 (three weeks after graduating) that it was time to figure out school, or get a real job.

So, instead of following my passion, I went to work at a “real job” as a waitress at a hoagie shop in a terrible neighborhood that paid me five dollars an hour under the table (below minimum wage at the time). It was, to put it simply, acceptable by society’s standards.

Holy camoly, was I unhappy. Sure, there were perks. I liked the ability to eat pretty much whenever (my thighs have been grateful for years), and I liked being able to talk to and learn from a multitude of people, but it just wasn’t stimulating.

I worked in food service for 12 years, bouncing around to different variations of the same job.

I was good at the service part, and I forged some long lasting friendships. But I was always trying to make more of it. I created organizational systems for our floors, cleaning schedules, templates, and training manuals. I took the role of a leader amongst my coworkers. While true, I absolutely adore efficiency and my serious lack of patience for unfair teamwork distribution was a huge factor here, I did it because I was desperate to use my brain for what it should have been used for. This temporary solution certainly helped me in my own feelings of doubt, but I’m sure it more than aggravated my coworkers, who understood the job on a level I just couldn’t.

I spent the better part of the last few years of my life picking up short stories to write and researching how to make money as a writer. I found a ton of good resources, but much of what I read was along the same lines. Aside from the astronomically astounding odds of authors such as JK Rowling (you beautiful soul, you), so much of what I learned was this: it’s not what you can write, it’s who you know. It’s having connections (or a ton of money) to make it to the New York Times’ bestseller list (my dream since before I can remember). Mildly discouraging? Sure, to put it lightly. Dream crushing? Much more accurate. After all, I have bills to pay! I tried asking my landlord once if I could pay my rent in hopes and dreams, and we laughed and laughed….

But then one day, I was doing what all writers really do best. Procrastinating. Instead of getting some actual writing done on my Oprah is sure to love this breakout novel, I was scrolling the endless feeds of Instagram. Among the colorful food pictures, fitness inspirations and book suggestions that flood my feed, an ad for copywriting came across. And immediately, I got smacked in the face with a truth bomb.

I was looking at the wrong kind of writing.

When a sponsored post came up talking about finding financial freedom writing, I knew I had to look. So I clicked on the post, gave up my precious email address for some free content, and spent the next three days devouring knowledge like a madwoman. I had never even heard of this field of writing (isn’t copywriting like, a legal thing?). I had no idea where to start to make money, but I knew I was absolutely without a doubt gonna find out.

And thus began my journey.

I started slowly, reading a few pages here, writing down a couple notes there. I learned what being a copywriter meant. For those of you that don’t know, it is literally a salesman in print. I learned the basics of what I needed to know to get the heck out of dodge and quit my job. Perhaps I jumped the gun a bit there- I did leave rather abruptly. But I found something that hasn’t fully quenched my thirst for knowledge, because there is so. much. content to keep my mind busy. I found something that keeps me learning 14 hours a day, excitingly so! I found something that is the oldest secret in the book, hidden in plain sight.

And now here I am, in my mega mansion with my millions (just kidding, not there yet).

But I am happy. Because I learned how to stare at trees.

Categories Tags

business, business, career, copywriting, finance, making money, motivation, selfhelp, women, writing career, self help

Originally published at on February 6, 2020.



Dex Jones

Coffee addict. Sock Lover. Story fiend.