The Power of Hope

Upon returning from her adventure, going back to Kansas with a click of her heels, Dorothy uttered, “There’s no place like home.” I feel the same. After being away for several weeks, visiting Sweden, Spain, and Florida, I have returned to my long wooden back porch at my Texas ranch house, looking out over the arid plants, twisted and gnarly oaks, and distant purple mountains, enjoying the crisp morning air and the remaining vibrant hues of autumn. I’m still basking in the gift of Thanksgiving, having had the triplets home, gathered around our table, and feeling as though nothing ever changed and no one ever left. And I’m comforted that each is doing well and finding their way. Yet today, everyone heads back to their roles elsewhere, and we start our quest to get everyone back again for Christmas. Yet I can’t help but reflect on the Thanksgiving spirit that still lingers in the air. A spirit of gratitude, of togetherness, of compassion, and most importantly, of hope. I can never articulate it, but it’s as though someone sprinkled magical fairy dust on me, starting about last Tuesday. Suddenly, I was consumed by true gratitude for the people in my


Say Hello to Your Future Self

Everything is blowing around … palm trees are bending, giant waves are crashing and spraying, wind is whistling, and the hurricane shutters are rattling loudly as a huge storm makes its way across the state. In the distance I can faintly see the towers at Cape Canaveral, and this week I’ve had the treat of watching rockets soar into space while the air around me vibrates.   When I was a kid, I went to the 1965 New York World's Fair, where we saw prototypes of Dick Tracy-style talking watches, flying cars, phones with TV screens so you could see the person you’re talking with, and robots who would do your work for you. We were told that one day TVs would hang on the wall like pictures. Rockets were something that happened annually, if we were lucky, and now rockets go up more than weekly. Now I can talk on my Apple Watch just like Dick Tracy, and my phone is the communicator from Star Trek (the only thing missing is the ability to beam me up). I can talk to anyone in the world on my screen. Flying drone cars are available now, as are jetpacks so you can


The Cure for Burnout

Rolling out of bed naturally, I head to the bathroom, flip the light switch I’ve hit every morning for over a decade — and something feels wrong. I’m not struggling to find a switch or bumping into walls or tripping over suitcases. Today is the first normal Sunday I’ve had in weeks. It's glorious.  There is no better feeling than the coziness of my own bed and the familiarity of my own house after weeks away.  I just returned from three weeks abroad, plus a week of driving, and a week at one of my artist retreats. I’ve been living out of a suitcase and realizing that I’ve not had a mental break in over four years. The candle has been burning at both ends, and the life of constant business, events, shows, columns, and running a company had me lost, burned out, and even a little unenthusiastic.  Yet this week, I’m a new man, refreshed and filled with ideas and the excitement to implement them. Problems and challenges bounce off my chest like bullets off Superman. I no longer have to fight through miles of spiderwebs in my brain. My burnout is gone. Funny thing — I did not


Fat, Bullied, and Sad

There is something spectacular about waking up at 6 am in the woods, especially in October. Tall, moss-covered trees tower through the fog as morning light just begins to stream in, highlighting some colorful leaves and some crunchy dead leaves on the ground. In a moment I’ll put on my hiking shoes and crunch across the leaves at this kids’ camp where I’m hosting my Fall Color artist retreat. Soon, we’ll share stories over eggs, bacon, and pancakes with warm Adirondack maple syrup. Being here with friends reminds me of summer camp. A week seemed like a long time away when my parents sent me off to YMCA camp in Indiana. I wasn’t looking forward to going because I had poor self-esteem, and I did not cherish the idea of taking a week of my summer to hang out with more bullies. Fat and Embarrassed At 10, I was severely overweight, frequently bullied by other boys, and often mocked for being fat. Unlike most of the others who were trim and fit, I was unable to keep up in gym classes and embarrassed when I was the only kid who could not climb  the rope in the middle of the


Finding Your Gift

A gentle rain drizzles upon the lake. There’s a foggy silhouette of pine trees in the distance, getting bluer and whiter the farther away they become. Close up, majestic pines surround my screen in the octagon-shaped lakefront porch, with dark lace-like branches and needles obscuring the view. Just the way I like it, nestled in and safe like a warm blanket, while the sound of droplets landing on the water tickles my ears.  Visitors tell us our little porch is very special because it darts right out to the edge of the lake. Inside, the ornate woodwork on the peaked ceiling is something builders tell me could not be replaced today because there are few craftspeople who would know how. The diamond-paned windows were handmade, along with the house and porch, in 1894. Doing It By Hand I try to imagine building this house at a time when there were no power tools, sourcing logs from this boat-access-only property and carving them into a masterpiece. The house was built by some young man who was trained by his father, a master woodworker who was trained by his father. A chain of training over generations.  Why, then, is there no one


What Are You Not Hearing?

I’m chuckling to myself as I sit here baking in the summer sun. This summer we had record rain and cool temperatures, with exactly five total “sunny warm lake days.” Now that all the lake residents are gone, summer has finally arrived. The best is about to come as fall color begins to peek out of the green forests. I’m getting ready for a glorious fall. Soon I’ll experience color so vibrant it makes my eyes hurt and the crunch of leaves under my feet, the smells of apple cider and fields of pumpkins. Fall is my favorite time here in the Adirondacks. Fresh Eyes I love seeing things through the eyes of others, especially fresh eyes. This week I’ve had an artist visiting from Australia (Colley Whisson) who had no previous knowledge of the area, its beauty, and its unique architecture. I loved the wonder in his eyes seeing the area for the first time, as he often points out things I no longer notice.  Things Leap Out Any time we can walk in the perspective of others, we see things we can change or correct, and it helps us appreciate what we have. If I have a guest,


Worried About Worry

As I walk out of my cozy waterfront cabin on a lake in the Adirondacks, the old screen door slams behind me. It’s a sound that brings back memories from childhood. Entering the kitchen, the smell of coffee brewing seduces me to pour a cup of my own. I then walk across the creaky wooden floors to the old screened-in octagon-shaped porch overlooking the water and plop myself down in the same wicker chair as generations before me.  There is little as soothing as the water, the movement of pine forests swaying in the distance, and the occasional canoe passing by. It’s where I sit in the mornings to follow my morning routine, and where we sit in the evenings to catch up on one another’s day.  Farewell to Summer Summer, here on the lake, ends tomorrow, when most residents return home. Overnight, things will get silent and a boat will be a rare sight for the few remaining stragglers who stay on to experience the fall colors, which are beyond spectacular. Our final event will be a gathering of lake residents to hand out sailing trophies and say farewell till next year.  Pretending People post about all the things


What If the Worst Happens?

My hands were burning as they hit the steering wheel yesterday afternoon after the car had been baking in the 110-degree Texas heat. The ground is dry, and the grass caramel-colored as if slightly scorched. The car is like a visit to a sauna until the air conditioning cools it down. Even the nights are in the upper 90s. When we moved to Texas, we did so knowing our summers would be spent in the high-altitude cool summers of the Adirondacks. Though it was always hot when we returned to get the kids into school, we never endured the entire summer, and the heat usually ends by late September. But this week I had the pleasure of waking up in the Texas heat because I came back to host my online Pastel Live event. A Moment of Silence for Maui I rarely comment on current events, but like you, I’m devastated to hear of the tragedy in Maui, one of the biggest tragedies in our country’s history. And like you, I’m feeling helpless, wishing there was more I could do to help. We’re working with a few art initiatives to help raise money, but somehow it does not seem sufficient.



When something is taken away, or about to go away, we want it more. After living at the lake since early June, I have to leave the cool weather, high altitude, and beautiful green forests for the excessive temperatures of Texas. I’m clinging to every last moment, sitting here on the dock and filling my lungs with air so pure it cannot be described.  I close my eyes and listen to the lapping of water against the dock, the wings of eagles as they swoop overhead (yes, you can actually hear them because it’s so quiet here), and the frantic call of the loons to warn their families about the winged threat overhead.  What’s new becomes routine, barely noticed, until the threat of disappearance.  The Threat of Loss This week our little dog Chewy had to “go under” for a necessary but minimal procedure, yet we were warned that there was a slight chance he might not come out of the anesthesia. Though he already gets lots of attention, the night before we were all treating him like we might never see him again. The fear of loss made us pay attention to how meaningful he is to us. He


Regrets, I’ve Had a Few

Dark bags of vaporized water float overhead, ready to dump storms upon us. The sky is purple-gray, but the morning sun is hitting one particular billowing cloud with intense orange light, as if to offer hope that the looming storm will pass.  After two months of solitude on this lake, the August season is upon us, and activity has increased tenfold. Most of the summer residents come only for August, then hibernate the rest of the year. When that happens, it will be silent once more as we enter the season of color.  Though I love to see lake friends and the joy on the faces of kids as they learn to sail or water-ski, the silence is special. My Checklist We spend the entire year looking forward to our time here, yet it passes so rapidly, and my list of summer activities doesn’t yet have everything checked off. I’ve painted my boat several times. Check.  I’ve done evening sunset cruises in our old wooden speedboat most nights. Check.  I’ve visited the Adirondack Museum and seen their glorious new art wing. Check.  I’ve gone to the farmer’s market most Saturdays. Check. I’ve used a fair amount of time for my


Finding Your True Self

 “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to face only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” "I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude." — Henry David Thoreau, Walden, or Life in the Woods Last week I mentioned that this home in the woods was built of trees from the property. We are the caretakers of this property, which has passed through the hands of several families since it was constructed. Little has changed other than the addition of plumbing. In fact, I sit in the same wicker chair that has been on this porch since the beginning. Breathe Deep The home’s purpose then, as now, was to disconnect from the frenetic life of the city, breathe deeply of the clean, pine-scented air, and reconnect with family and friends. But it was even deeper than that. The original builders, a wealthy family from New York, wanted to escape their gilded palace and hectic social schedule for a dose of reality by roughing it.  This property, along with most of


The Power of Pain

If I inhale deeply, my lungs are filled with the freshest air I’ve ever experienced, along with the scent of pine. This forest, hundreds of acres behind my Adirondack home, is old growth, much of it never cut, with trees that two of us cannot join our hands around, some exceeding 600 years of age. Twigs snap as I walk through the trail, and I hit an occasional patch of mud from the rains, making my way carefully across, jumping from logs to moss-covered rocks. Forest Bathing In Japan, they encourage people to take time off work to go “forest bathing.” The combination of fresh air and the visual of dark woods, deep greens along with fresh spring greens, pine needles, peeling bark on soft, worn pathways, is deeply good for our souls. Our home, built in 1894, was built from these trees, and sits on a patch of land between the forest and the lake. Our summer life feels ideal. Fresh air, fresh water, playtime, and family around us. Our bath of forest and lake time lasts through the summer and fall, and the rejuvenation I receive lasts me through the tough winter months of life.  A Spoiled Child