Little ThingsIf I listen closely, I can hear an orchestra of a million small raindrops falling on the leaves of the deep green forest behind me. A small drizzle makes a huge impact when multiplied.These forests are rejuvenated with tens of thousands of massive trees, reaching into the sky, too high for me to reach and certainly to climb, yet our ancestors here had cleared these forests just a hundred years before.Small seeds falling in big winds replanted over a million bare acres of beauty, now preserved forever wild in this Adirondack park. Little Can Be BigWhether seedlings, small winds, or tiny droplets, small things can make a big difference. A giant ship in a hurricane-force wind among huge waves can change course to a new direction with a captain's slight touch on a small wheel controlling the rudder. A small board can lift a large load with a fulcrum in the right place. A large load is lifted by a small pulley system. Huge forest fires are started by small sparks.Where in your life have small things made a big impact?For me, small words motivated massive action, resulting in a lifetime career. When I asked my 14-year-old self what I


What Would You REALLY Do?

I feel like I’m inside a cloud. It's dark, gray, chilly, and I can see very little definition in the clouds in the sky. Drizzle taps lightly on the roof in a slow, repetitive pattern, and the lake is calm other than an occasional ripple from the loons, who are packing their bags in preparation for their southern journey. Hot lemon and sage tea fills my old metal camping cup as I snuggle with the dogs and an old green-and-red-striped Pendleton blanket. I hope sunshine and warmth return for just a few more weeks before my artists’ retreat here in the Adirondacks and our return to Texas. Flashbacks have frequented my frontal cortex because of the huge number of old photos I found when emptying my dad’s place, which is now officially someone else’s summer home. I had forgotten how much I forgot, including a picture of me at the FBI. A Visit to the FBI As a kid about 12 or 13, I wanted nothing more than to become an FBI agent, which was glorified by the TV show called The FBI with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. My friend Randy and I started our own FBI club (there were just


Clinging to Memories

One of the most devastating moments of my life was when my grandparents’ house was sold. If I’d had the money at the time, I would have bought it to keep it in the family. But of course, with time and perspective, keeping the house would have served no purpose; it was not needed and it might even have become a burden, dealing with renters, or with repairs if left empty. Clinging to the house was purely wanting to cling to the memories of times in the house with my grandparents. On My Knees About 11 years ago, my dad announced to us that he was going to be selling his lake home. I had fallen in love with the lake and tried to spend all summer there when possible. My kids have spent every summer of their lives in that house. Therefore it was my hope to keep the house in the family for generations to come. I can remember even praying that I could make enough money and find a way to keep it so he did not have to sell. But he was never really very serious about selling it, or he would have put a price


Being Ready for the Unexpected

My eyes opened this morning to a new scene — at least, new since June. Twisted oaks, high grasses, all being baked in the hot Texas sun, unlike the most squishy moss-covered grass in the Adirondacks. My tender toes burn as I hit the deck outside and hop rapidly to my old brown wicker couch. A bead of sweat hits my forehead and rolls down my nose like a rogue rollercoaster. I’m simply not used to summer in Texas. The cool Adirondacks have spoiled me.  I came here to host my Pastel Live conference, which ended last night, and today, as soon as we can get on the road, I’ll drive my daughter to her second year of college and the first “in-person” year she will have. Laurie and I thought we were empty-nesters last fall when school began, but alas, Zoom classes are easier from home than from a 10” x 10” cinder block dorm room, and the food is better. I’ll return to the Adirondacks for summer and fall tomorrow and we’ll try this empty nest thing one more time. Tragedy Between segments at my event, I’ve been glued to my screens, watching in horror as we all


Conquering Anxiety and Fear

Tossing and turning from the sweltering heat and the bright sun blasting a furnace of light through the windows, I hop out of my otherwise coży bed, make my way to the coffeemaker in the kitchen, and head to the dock to sip my wakeup juice. Alas, it’s so hot, I slip my bare legs into the water to cool the lower half of my body. When I’m done writing this (assuming I don’t drop my tablet into the drink), I’ll take a swim. Though this has been the rainiest I can remember in three decades of summer life in the Adirondacks, the few warm summer days have been glorious and made up for the rain. Spare time has found me flat-out on the dock absorbing the sun’s rays, painting in my little wooden electric boat (though never enough), and sitting with a few visiting friends. And like all summers, all good things will come to an end.  This week I’ll slip away, head to Austin to host my newest online art conference, and then make my way back for a few more glorious weeks. When I return my kids will be off to college, though they are understandably anxious


Pull the Trigger

Pine cones and little rocks stick in my bare feet as I make my way down to the old wooden dock at the water's edge. Reflected pine trees and blue sky are so mirror-like that if I took a photo and turned it upside down, you would swear you were looking at the real thing. In the distance I hear the sputter of an old outboard motor on a small metal fishing boat, and I can see the glow of a red hat about a half mile from the dock.  The 100-year-old wooden Adirondack chair, which has been baking in the morning light, warms my back as I lie against it. Today is the perfect lake day, calling me to some kayaking into the grassy bogs. I’m in my happy place, and if it were not for that evil snow and 30 below weather, I’d be here year round. I’m on a quest to find a winter equal to this lake paradise where we plant ourselves each summer. Sweet Times I feel blessed to be able to be here and to pick and choose most of my living circumstances. As every summer ends and we’re set to return home, we


The Storm of Life

The old green hammock sways gently between two old-growth white pine trees, a puddle of water and reddish pine needles in its middle. As I exit the house, the wet ground cover of deep green moss squishes like a thick carpet under my feet. In the combination of smoke from fires in the west and moisture from last night's storm, the distant trees are a mustard bluish gray. The deep red geraniums in the flower boxes along the dock are worn and leggy from swimming in too much water. This is the second-rainiest summer I can remember. The few sunny days are like Christmas presents. We look forward to them and cherish them as special days to get out for a warm, sun-drenched canoe ride. Needles on My Face My attitude about rain may be unique around here. Family members and locals have been complaining about all the rain. Though I can appreciate the desire for sunshine, I love the rain. Living essentially on an island and commuting by boat for groceries and packages, we’ve learned to accept it for what it is and plow forward. Just yesterday raindrops were hitting my face like needles as I sped across, trying


Life Boiled Down

An early morning sailor takes advantage of high winds as their antique boat darts back and forth across the lake with the grace of a ballerina, changing directions suddenly as the old tea-stained sail captures the orange morning light against the purple distant mountains. It reminds me of life, sailing gracefully in one direction till the wind runs out, and then a necessary pivot to capture the wind takes us in new directions. The Great Cleansing When we lose a loved one, as I did this spring, we tend to think deeply about their life and our own, in hopes of being more or less like the ones we lost. And with loss comes responsibility — in this case, clearing out his lakefront summer home, where he had accumulated things since 1987.  Here, Bidder Bidder Because we are putting his home up for auction on August 14, my wife and I (mostly her) have been working feverishly to getting move-out ready and getting the home ready to show, so we don’t have to sort through old boxes under pressure of a closing date.  Yesterday, and all last weekend, I had the pleasure of going through a garage full of boxes,


The Art of Being Uncompromised

The warm colors of morning glow make the pine tree sing in orange and pink, in harmony with reflections on the water and the light show in the clouds. The air is so humid you could cut it with a chainsaw, which makes the color of light especially pleasing. Sunrise on the dock is especially wonderful as I deeply fill my lungs with fresh, pine-scented Adirondack air. Moments pondering life from the dock are my favorite. Living is like a racetrack driver on a high-speed track, making countless subtle corrections to avoid crashes and make it to the end of the race. Which is why I find it a good idea for us to re-evaluate ourselves from time to time.  Evil Thoughts Have you ever caught yourself having thoughts about things that, if you were to act on them, mean you would be seriously compromised? We all have some random evil thoughts, but maturity means not acting on them. But where exactly is the line? To be compromised has different meanings in different situations, but essentially it means you’ve caved in on your ethics. The CIA would say a spy being compromised means they have been found out. Testing Our


A Moment of Clarity

Breathe … that’s what I tell myself as I take in the fresh Adirondack air as I do my yoga stretches on the dock to the sound of the loons and the quiet rustle of leaves. It's the perfect July morning, and a day that will be filled with the smells of grilled burgers and exploding fireworks. Happy 4th. I truly appreciate our independence and freedom.  Have you ever had a moment when you wake up to complete clarity? Ever carried the weight of something on your shoulders for years, and suddenly found it released? The true purpose of life is about lessons that strengthen us, make us better, make us more well rounded and experienced. But sometimes those lessons knock us on our butts. Living a Dream A few years ago I was telling a story to a friend about my experience with a company I had founded in Silicon Valley. When I started the company, I was living the dream. I was mingling with superstars in the midst of the dot-com boom, people who today are household names. I was in the middle of the action, living the dream. Dream Destroyed So what could possibly go wrong? As


One Unexpected Secret to a Powerful Life

Thomas Kinkade-like window lights glow in romantic little cabins across the lake on this dark, rainy morning. Wood stoves warm the air as smoke dances from old red brick chimneys.  The lake is still, glasslike, and the only sound is the peeping of hungry baby robins in the nest in the rafters of this old screened porch. It's a morning for a warm sweater, thick socks, and an extra hot cup of coffee. Finally, after several intense months of difficulty, I’m able to sit here, relax, and reflect. A week has passed since the end of my annual artists’ retreat in the Adirondacks. To shake things up a little this time, and to celebrate our 10th year, we held a grand closing party at a classic Adirondacks “great camp” (a term used for giant homes usually built in the late 1800s),  followed by a world-class fireworks display on the lake overlooking the mountains.  In reality, these extras are not necessary. No one expects them. So why bother? Special Moments The reason for extra effort and expense is that the people attending will never forget those special moments. Hopefully, as they look back over their lives, those will be special memories


Words of Wisdom

Rich, deep blues fill the cloudless sky, surrounded by massive ancient growth cedar and pine trees. The mirror we call Spitfire Lake is a perfect reflection, not a ripple in sight.  Distant log cabins on the lake are starting to fly their flags, an indicator that people are coming in for the summer. Soon this quiet spot will see an occasional fisherman, some sailboats and water skiers. Signs of summer are upon us. Not only is the lake reflecting, but I find myself reflecting on my father, with this being the first Father’s Day I’m unable to make a call, send a gift, or see him in person. Not a day has gone by since his passing in March that I haven’t started to e-mail or phone him to share something, only to realize they don’t have e-mail in Heaven.  My Guest Today I thought about the best way to honor my dad on this day, and since I’ve talked about him a lot in the past weeks, I asked myself what he would want, or what he would say, if I had asked him to be a guest writer. This, I think, is what he would say to you,


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