I first met Jason Keusch 15-some years ago when he was the Chef at a new restaurant in downtown East Lansing. He grew with the company, overseeing more restaurants, taking on more responsibilities, earning more money, facing more demands. Then, when he feasibly could, he walked away. Now he makes art and encourages us all to stop and ask, "Why am I doing this?"

Here's the excerpted mission statement from his website:

Thanks for stopping by. My name is Jason and Varhaus is my lifestyle.

A couple years ago I hit a brick wall. The wall of expectation. The wall of what's next. The wall of who and what am I doing this for. I stood beneath the wall looking up at it and I had typical choices: Over or around or through. But, I've seen so many damn walls in my personal and professional lives; I decided I hated the wall for being there.  Why is there another wall in my life for me to accomplish on this insane obstacle course? Why? Why!

So, what did I do? I left my ball at the playground wall and went home to find purpose for my life. That part was harder than jumping walls or playing games-games, that I already knew the outcome.

I took a sabbatical
I prayed
I sold my house
I learned to paint
I wrote poetry
I built a kick ass art studio
I named it Varhaus
I am talking to you

After much prayer and thought about what was truly important, I came to something liberating. For me, the only reason to live is to die and go to heaven. Nobody but me controls that outcome. To accomplish such a feat, one must look deeply into himself to find his God-given talents and passions as a mean to the ultimate end (according to his measure).

While I was mulling all this over, a paintbrush, a writing pen, some great new friends and a real passion was put into my world. A scripture reading put my whole life into perspective. BE NOT CONFORMED TO THE PATTERNS OF THIS WORLD. It is the best summary of Varhaus that I can give to you.

I am reaching out to you with my gifts telling you to step away from the walls that are not real. Only climb walls that make you productive in the way you see fit. Give the Jones the finger. Sing in line at the supermarket. Do something for someone that only you can do.

be not conformed,

P.S. Buy some art please.


What's your talent that the world hasn't yet been shown?

Here's a link to a talk Jason and I had earlier this year about that life-changing leap.