Finding Your True Self

Goosebumps rise on my skin as I open the creaky old door from the house to the sun-drenched porch. A blast of arctic air sends a message that winter is fighting hard not to let go, not to lose control to spring. The two have been fighting it out for a couple of weeks now. Soon, hopefully, spring will win, and then before long spring will lose to summer.


A Bright Spot in a Dark World

A flash of light so bright it jolted me out of my bed, and less than a second later, the ground shook like a mega missile had struck. I remember counting seconds from the flash of light to the sound of thunder. This one was so close it had to be one of the old oaks on the property of this old Texas farmhouse.


Living with Cause and Effect

After a cold week, the porch is drenched in warm sun, the plants on the property are glowing as the sun streams in to light their edges, and the mountain in the distance is still purple gray. Thank goodness for spring. “Your Ideas Are BS, Eric” Last week I received an e-mail from an artist who had read my new marketing book. In the book I talk a lot about the importance of managing your own mindset and its impact on your life, to which she suggested that “positive thinking is complete BS.” Her words were a little stronger than that. My Tortured Friendship In my response I told her what I’ve learned about this recently and the story of my dear friend Chris, whom I met when I was about 18. Chris ran a local radio station, and I was a young budding broadcaster. We became friends and remained friends as he moved up the ladder to different jobs across the country. We shared a love for radio broadcasting. Yeah, But Though Chris was a dear friend, the one thing I used to kid him about was how negative he was all the time. He too thought positive thinking was


Doing Your Soul Work

Brilliant spring greens lightly cover the recently bare twisted oaks. Buds of fuzzy pussywillows signal spring’s arrival. Blankets of deep-blue bluebonnets and orange “Indian paintbrushes” cover miles of roadways and farms, bringing rich, vibrant hues to the otherwise dusty sage colors here. A soft warm breeze moves through the treetops like ballerinas quietly tiptoeing the moves of Swan Lake. I’m like a prisoner freed from the shackles — spring has released me from the indoors and the heated air as I return to my special place, the old long porch looking out over the vast distant hills and tall grasses.


Mining for Gold

Distant layers of rolling hills are barely visible this foggy morning, each layer lighter and bluer than the one before. A lone light on a hill in the distance shines brightly against the gray background, making me think that me and the person in that house are the only people awake this early. If I knew Morse code, I’d blink a good morning message. Everyone else is sleeping, and though I enjoy my alone time, I’d love to have a chat with someone over coffee about now. The sleep has left my eyes, and I’m caffeine-infused and ready for action.


The Pathways to Excellence

An overnight cold front swept in, taking our beautiful spring warmth to a sudden chilly, rainy, gray day. As I stare out over the porch, which is too wet and cold for writing this morning, I see subtle movements and the silhouettes of deer moving through the backwoods. I counted five this morning and have counted as many as 12 on some days. Quiet and graceful, they move through the land, alert at all times and skittish at the slightest sound, always ready in a split second to make a life-saving run. When I walk through my woods, there are paths they’ve worn, paths they typically follow, generation after generation, following the direction of their elders.   Which Path? We too have pathways. In the past I’ve talked about how we tend to follow the pathways of our elders and often adopt patterns that live on for generations. It’s a rare person who invents their own pathway because that requires deliberate thought. And though the road less traveled involves more roadblocks, rougher paths, and more pioneering, it can make for a life of excitement, while the roads frequently traveled can lead to sameness and following the masses. The pathways you choose


When It’s OK to Be Selfish

Warm golden sunshine streams through the windows and splashes, glowing, on the wooden floor, bouncing its color-filled rays onto the walls, the furniture, and the old stone fireplace and inviting me outside. I think that finally I can return to my porch, yet the cold air instantly tightens my skin as I realize it’s spring, but early spring here, and I may have to wait a couple more weeks for the warmth of the porch.   This morning I sit, bundled up in my unheated art studio, knitted afghan over my lap, space heater cranking way up to remove the chill. I’m surrounded by tens of thousands of hours of art-making projects, mostly paintings I’ve done here or on location, en plein air, in spots around the world.   Paintings and even printed photographs will make their way to estate sales, Goodwill, maybe even the auction block, but hard drives of memories from our phones may disappear with us, never seen by our families. Yet surrounding me here are hundreds of model sessions, talking with my fellow painters and with models I’ve just met, learning about their lives, and in some cases their unusual hobbies or habits — things I sometimes


Unexpected Impact

Early signs of spring give hope that a long winter will soon melt away. Bluebonnets have begun to spring up and will soon paint fields of blue carpet in the rolling hills surrounding us — motivation to stock up on shades of blues and purples and throw my backpack of painting gear in the back of my old Honda Element, the best painting car ever made.   A Sea of Blue In a moment of brilliance, the First Lady of Texas, Lady Bird Johnson, was driven to beautify the state by arranging for free packets of seeds to be handed out at the license bureau, and encouraging Texans to scatter the seeds along the highways. Later, when she became First Lady of the United States, she fought to beautify highways by removing billboards, and her initiative stands to this day, as billboards are permitted only close to exits, and are not allowed on certain roads at all. She was in a position to make a difference. Yet you don’t have to be the First Lady, or hold a prominent position, to make a difference.   All Dressed in Green Dressed up in my green Boy Scout uniform, with my red sash


The Opposite of Pain and Problems

Massive flocks of black birds descend to our trees as a massive sleet storm blows through overhead. I’m guessing it must hurt if you’re a bird because they are swarming like scared rats and running into the tin roof of this farmhouse, as if they are possessed. The sound of fluttering wings and crackling squeaks is almost defining. I feel like I’m living in the movie The Birds. I’m told it’s a migration. Maybe they are coming north in anticipation of spring. These crazy birds remind me of how we all tend to act when hit with a sudden, urgent issue. We run around in all directions, moving just to avoid pain, but accomplishing nothing.   Panic Mode The other night at an art opening I encountered an old friend who was in panic mode over a custody issue that had cropped up earlier that week. Her panic was because she did not want to lose custody of her son to her ex. She told me she came to the opening to get away from the problem, but instead she brought the problem to everyone who would listen. People listened patiently for a minute or two, but I watched as they


How To Get Unstuck

Light shimmers on the wood plank floor of this old porch, glistening from last night’s rain. A hint of moisture in the barely cool air isn’t enough for a sweater. I’m feeling like a prisoner released after a stint behind the bars of winter. Freedom is mine; I can once again return to my porch without bundles of winter clothes and freezing fingers on my keyboard. I’ve never been a fan of winters — even mild ones.   Barriers in the Snow Winter always meant barriers. For our friends who dared not leave home during the recent polar vortex, their barrier was cold. When I was in Sun Valley, Idaho, recently to paint on TV for an upcoming national TV show, I sucked it up, layered my limbs, and stood outside in the snow painting. My host, Lori McNee, and I drove around seeking the perfect spot for them to film us, but the barrier of unplowed roads limited our options.   Things Seem Overwhelming Barriers are not only a problem in winter snow. They can be a challenge in life, in our careers, keeping our goals and big plans from happening. Too often when we see barriers, we allow them


Are Your Blind Spots Preventing Your Happiness?

If the view from my back porch were a movie, at this moment you would gasp over the beauty. Fog is filling the air, and the bright sunrise is blasting through the fog, making it glow in orange pink. Streaks of light are being cast from the shadows of the old, gnarly oak trees. If there were a soundtrack at this moment, the crescendo of the sun shining through the trees would be the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Chills run down my spine as I take this scene in from my old red Adirondack chair with coffee cup balanced on the arm. These are the moments we live for. When we bought this rural property years ago, I pictured myself sitting here, looking out over acres of trees and cattle and being inspired, just like I am this morning. It’s a time to reflect on my week, on life, and on others. As you and I go through our daily lives, it’s hard to put ourselves in the place of others, and it’s hard sometimes to relate to the problems others may be having. Recently a friend told me a story about having dinner with some friends, one of whom


How to Convince Anyone to Do Anything

Days before my 10-year wedding anniversary, I was sweating bullets about what kind of gift I could buy that would be more special than anything. I found myself flipping through catalogs, driving to the mall, and going into random stores, but nothing I found seemed special enough to celebrate a decade of marriage.


Eric Rhoads
Entrepreneur, writer, artist, marketer, and speaker.
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