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Home2019-08-06T13:52:30-04:00

Moving Our Immovable Mind

My mind flashed to a scene in The Hobbit as I looked across the glassy lake, not a ripple in sight. The reflections of the tall, dark pines are perfectly in focus in the still water, and a layer of thick fog at the shoreline is making the lake and the trees blend together as though airbrushed.  The bright golden morning sun is blinding me as it reflects off the lake, and, like clockwork, the fog is burning off before my eyes.  There is a chill in the air leftover from the passing hurricane, which brought rain and a cold front. I can feel the goosebumps on my exposed legs as my warm red-checked flannel shirt cuddles my core and the hot coffee dribbles warmly into my system like water in a radiator. Summer’s End Every year for the last 18 years, August signals our last week or two here, knowing we are beholden to the schedules of schools back in Texas. With the idea of leaving come the thoughts of all the things I intended to do this summer but never got around to, the sadness of departing our favorite place on earth, and the end of something we

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The Talk

For a brief moment, I thought I had woken up in the middle of the night, and was ready to put the old patched quilt over my head. But a quick glance at my watch confirmed it was time to get up. Looking out the wavy glass window of our 140-year-old cabin, the sky was dark, and the rain was blasting the roof like a thousand nails being dropped every second. Reluctantly, my bare feet slid into my old rubber Bean boots, and I rushed through the rain to the other cabin for my morning brew. I’m soaked but beaming, because my favorite time on the screened-in porch is during a thunderstorm, as the roof rattles like a freight train with every boom. Big Change The ticking clock reminds me that this is the last two weeks of normal life with our triplets, who go off to college soon. The family will leave our summer paradise, drive to their respective colleges, and return to a very quiet house. Friends told me they cried for weeks when their birds flew the nest, I’m sure we’ll be no different. Yet we’re excited about their new lives, their new adventures, and the next chapter for

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Drawing Bad Cards

If I close my eyes at this moment, I can hear a gentle breeze quietly tickling the pine branches above and the slight slosh of water hitting the dock. It's heavenly. So peaceful. So quiet.  Opening my eyes after a deep breath of the freshest air I’ve ever breathed, I feast my eyes on a large, pink billowing cloud, about 30 stories tall, floating just to the east of us and carrying a rainstorm with it in the distance. I can hear an occasional distant rumble and can see a gray sheet of rain falling below it. The pink morning sun is coloring the deep green trees, yet if I were to run and get my easel to capture the mood, it would be gone within moments. I’ll just try to imprint it in my memory. On the dock across the lake I can see two red spots — Adirondack chairs that glow when the sun hits them, and then are barely visible when it tucks behind a cloud. The red against the green is the perfect color harmony. Lucky When I was back in Austin for PleinAir Live, I mentioned how eager I was to return here when someone

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The Race to the Bottom

I’m here at the Austin airport and I’m looking out the window. The sun is blinding me as it reflects off of the chrome trim. Instead of breathing the fresh pine-scented air, the smell of jet fuel fills the air. I can’t wait to be back at the lake late tonight. After a week of my virtual art summit, PleinAir Live, and being on camera late into the evening each day, I’m ready to sit on the dock in an Adirondack chair and have time to think. Unexpected Success I’m grateful for over 1,500 folks who joined us for the world’s first virtual art summit to learn and grow over the past five days. It’s also been a great lesson in pivoting. As my business collapsed around me, this survival mode was met with resistance and fear (some from my own brain and some from others). I almost did not do it, because I kept thinking of all the limitations and not understanding how to do it. But, instead of cowering away from something I did not understand, I faced it, mastered it, and had a successful event. Is Fear Driving You? In these strange COVID times, I’ve been watching others

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Difficult Lessons

The springs stretch on the screen door, vibrating with their high-pitched creaking sound. Seconds later, the screen door slams with a thump. It's a sound I can remember from my Aunt Ruth’s porch at her little white farmhouse nestled among the high corn in Tennessee.  When I hear the sound from my own screen doors, it instantly brings back feelings of a better time, a moment when I was the happiest, the moment I got my first puppy, Pepper, who was born on the farm.  Slam! This morning as I snuck quietly out of my cabin, I accidentally let the door slam, probably waking Laurie, yet the sound transports me to that place every time I hear it. Now, as I sit in the 140-year-old screened porch overlooking the lake, my mind has wandered off to the past, to the moments imprinted on my soul. It's the very reason I try to imprint memories into the minds of my own children, so they will look back on the good old days here at the lake. Crunch! Sometimes an escape is pleasant, even if only for a moment, to run from life in 2020. I’ve talked about the difficulty of having

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The Contrast of Summer

Stillness comes in various forms. Today, the lake has no movement as I sit looking on from the old screened porch. There is not a leaf rustling, not so much as a momentary breeze, and the sticky high humidity is hovering against the distant shore, obscuring the view, making the deep greens look more like a deep turquoise. A pinkish glow is reflecting into the water from the sky, and the gentle slam of a screen door and the voices of a couple chatting over coffee are as clear to me as if I were sitting at the same table. The lake is a giant amplifier, which is why we teach our kids to always be careful about what they say when they’re on a boat or sitting on the porch. This morning, as I have my coffee, a huge bowl of ripe, deep red strawberries picked up at yesterday’s farmers market are about the most flavorful I’ve had. Store-bought berries don’t cut it, so I binge in summertime. Boom! When I was a child growing up on Lake Wawasee in Indiana, we used to take our pontoon boat onto the lake, and it seemed as if we were right

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Change Is Ripping Away the Past

Fierce winds are blowing the sloshing water up onto the dock and a thin mist of water keeps spraying me, making me nudge my old green Adirondack chair back farther and farther. It’s rare to see whitecaps on this little lake in the wilderness. Amazing to me, the birds are flying overhead, twirling and diving into the thermals of air, as if they’re at an amusement park on a roller coaster. It makes me wish I could fly. Wheeeee. Deep, rich greens fill the distant shore as the tops of the trees are splashed with warm morning light. It’s early here, and it’s just me, the birds, and the sunlight. Everyone else is nestled in their cabins in their little brass beds and flannel bedspreads.  Erratic This has been a week of weird weather. We’ve had massive thunderstorms and gully washers of rain, thunder that rattled the old cabin, winds that have toppled sailing boats, and cold fronts that took us from 90-degree heat to warm blankets and cold nights for perfect sleeping. The Value of Storms Life, like challenging weather, always sees some benefit after the damage of the worst of storms. And though the world at the moment

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Your New You

Sponges bounce below my bare feet as I walk atop deep green moss and thick pillows of soft pine needles, making my way to the front dock. Startled by my presence, a family of loons sends out a series of emergency calls to warn others on the lake, which is still as glass. Chirps of other birds fill the tall pines at the base of the lake as soft ripples splash up against the dock. Handmade in 1904 My chair is an old Westport Adirondack chair, crafted in 1904 according to the stamp on the back. This dock has been its home for 116 years, and it’s seen the rise and fall of tuberculosis, and the 1918 pandemic. Then, like now, families escaped to the woods to ride it out and distance themselves from the cities. Coming Changes Sipping my hot coffee as I stare out over the lake, I wonder who, over the years, has been seated in these chairs and what conversations they had. Last night, some friends, properly socially distanced, visited as we shared a toast and celebrated being free enough to gather. We meandered on to topics about how our lives and our cities will change.

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The Power of Dreaming

Roaring thunder is echoing off the distant mountain and the lake acts like a giant amplifier, making the booms even louder. The old porch is shaking with each blast, and the rain is slamming loudly on the roof above. Rain is driving sideways like arrows trying to penetrate the screens, yet somehow the water isn’t coming in. My dream was to one day have a porch like this. Sitting here in a storm is one of my favorite things; it's as if I’m defying nature, nestled and secure in my little wooden shelter. Did you know there is a difference between goals and dreams? I’ve found that goals are intentional, and often related to dreams — but dreams tend to be random, often not formalized by the process of goal-setting. Which do you think is more powerful? A set goal or a random dream? In Trouble for Daydreaming In fourth grade at Harrison Hill Elementary I was sent to the principal's office for daydreaming, not paying attention in class. Most of my school years were considered unproductive because of my horrific grades, which had to do with not paying attention, not wanting to be there, being bored, and being in

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A Summer of Joy

Glitter has been sprinkled all over the water, and the light is blasting it to reflect like lasers into my retinas. The sound of a mild slosh hits the old wooden dock, and the 50-year-old metal rowboat with peeling green paint and a maroon Evinrude outboard stands ready, with poles hanging over the sides awaiting today’s fishing expedition.  Brilliant Morning Light The tops of the trees are orange, while the shaded part of the pines remains deep greenish-blue as the trees eagerly await a sunbath when it rises further. The mountain in the distance is looking especially inviting today, as if to say, “Come, climb me on the first day.” We arrived here in paradise late last night, ready to go into our two-week self-quarantine after breathing the mask-filtered air on an almost empty airplane. But oh! What a place to be stuck. A boat-access-only cabin that was built 140 years ago, and we have nothing to do but absorb its silence and dust its shelves. I’m ready. Thirty Years and Counting If I were counting, I would guess this is summer number 31 for me on these lakes. I first visited in 1988 or ’89 and never wanted to

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A New Chapter

Drinking in the beauty of Austin, Texas, with its deep green cedar trees and gnarled oaks, I’m staring out over the yard one last time. No more will I sit on this porch in my red wicker couch on the long covered porch with the tin roof that rings like a metal drum with each raindrop. No more will I cuddle with the dogs here as I write. I’ll miss the deer in the yard and the neighbors’  Longhorn cattle, but alas, now that the kids have graduated high school, summer calls us to an old cabin on the lake where I’ll be reaching out to you for the balance of the summer. It's good for us, our family, our kids, and even the family who stays in our Austin home each summer, who get a change of scenery. Silence But when we return, our secure little nest will be silent. No more slamming doors, teen drama, setting the table for five, no more arguments, but also no more hanging out on the couch with a day-to-day debriefing. Thankfully, two of our triplets remain in the state, only a couple of hours away, and one in a neighboring state about

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The Absence of Ceremony

Each morning during self-isolation I’ve been without my normal routine. Normally, pre-COVID-19, I’d awaken early, make breakfast for the kids, see them off to school, head to the gym or yoga, come home to get ready, and then go to my office. Now, I’m staying up late, usually until midnight, sometimes one or two, and there is no routine to awaken for. My kids have been sleeping in on days when there are no Zoom classes, or getting up two minutes before class, which they can attend in their pajamas. No breakfast to make, no gym available to visit. The only thing consistent is my “go to the office” routine, which has been at home since the kids were born. Sleeping In Frankly, I like sleeping till I awaken and not having to deal with an alarm, but I do miss those morning routines with the kids. And this week one of my triplets graduated with a Zoom call, and the other two are officially graduating next week.  Leaving the Nest My wife and I are mourning because we’ve looked forward to this day for years, watching our little birds released from school and ready to move to more self-sufficiency

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