28 04, 2019

Follow the Little Voices in Your Head


The Fog has been rolling across the Golden Gate Bridge and I’ve been standing outside with my easel against the stinging winds while painting the bridge.

Today is our last day of the Plein Air Convention here and today we paint in Wine Country.

Forgive me for the break but, after last night’s Big Hippy 70’s Party and an early rise this morning, I’m tapped out.

This week magic happened and powerful stories emerged as a result of people coming to the Convention. Tears streamed down my eyes as these stories were told at last night’s closing ceremony.

One woman felt lead to the convention and almost did not come, but because she registered herself in our directory, a true miracle occurred.

Thirty years ago her young son disappeared. She has not known where he is or what happened to him — no idea if he was alive. Little did she know of his search to find his mom; Googling her name constantly in hopes of finding her. Suddenly his search found her name on our site as an attendee here at the Plein Air Convention, and yesterday the two were reunited. Here at the Convention he showed up, found her, and they are again together. There was not a dry eye in the room.

I’m more convinced than ever that we are placed in situations and places for a reason. Especially after hearing several stories this week that proved people were here for a reason.

Another woman was painting, approached by a man and a discussion lead them to realize they were distant cousins. She a painter, he a gallery owner whose initial introduction was to invite her into his gallery. What are the odds?

About 800-900 of us were brought together for a purpose this week and I’m grateful to serve them and be the conduit for such serendipity.

I’ll be back next week… but first, one thought: follow the little voices in your head and you may be led to a special connection or place for an unknown reason.

And hug those you love.

See you next week.

Eric Rhoads

Follow the Little Voices in Your Head2019-04-27T22:36:00-04:00
21 04, 2019

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 brilliant green layer of pollen covers the long boards on the porch and the old wicker chairs are spray-painted with this evil dust, which I brush away before I sit. Achoo!

Today, much of the world celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, whom Christians believe died, was buried, and returned to life three days later. Happy Easter. Last year at this time, we spoke about personal resurrection.

Memories of Easter flood my brain. I remember my crafter mom spending weeks before Easter covering her shoes with different fabrics so she would have “new” shoes for the holiday. She would also make a new Easter hat. We always dressed up for church, me in my bright red sport coat, with my 007 Secret Agent cap gun shoulder holster under my jacket. One of our grandparents would always make a feast centered around a giant chunk of meat. Coloring eggs was always fun, as was hunting for our Easter baskets. Our triplets are 17 and still love the tradition. Maybe we’ll hide them in their cars this year.

Easter signals a new season.

Spring is new birth, new life, new growth.

Summer is full, rich life.

Fall is aging.

Winter is death.

Each brings us a reminder to embrace them for what they are.

The longer I live, the wiser I tell myself I become, and I realize that the biggest hindrance to a rich, fully lived life is a focus on self.

In the season of spring, we’re full of energy, life, and self-confidence. A little cocky. When summer hits, success breeds more arrogance and belief in ourselves. We start to believe our own press.

Fall brings falling leaves, sagging midsections, backaches, often other health issues, and the unwanted realization that we’re not in control at all. We start facing the reality that once winter hits, we’d better have finished everything we wanted to get done. Suddenly it becomes evident that our cockiness, our arrogance, our over-inflated self-confidence never served us all that well and we need to focus on what’s truly worth the time we have remaining.

The reality is that we never had control, we just thought we did. And when we’re focused entirely on self, we miss the importance of reliance on the grand plan for our lives, and the joy that comes from serving others and serving our Master.

This isn’t a suggestion to give up positive thinking or to age out before your time, or to give in or give up, but I’m starting to understand that loss of self is where we begin to focus on what is intended for us, which is where the rich treasure lies. It too is a form of resurrection because when the “focus on self” dies, the true self is revealed.

Happy Easter.

Eric Rhoads

PS: I have to admit that I’m pretty excited about getting to San Francisco for our big event next week. For me it’s like Thanksgiving with my plein air painter family. I’m truly looking forward to seeing everyone out there. If you want to watch the noise, you can follow me on Instagram @ericrhoads or Facebook @ericrhoads. (Facebook puts a limit on friends that I can’t change, but you can still follow my feeds.)


Finding Your True Self2019-04-18T20:30:19-04:00
14 04, 2019

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.

Rushing Water

A pounding like the sound of a waterfall is amplified on the old tin roof above this porch, which goes the distance of the house in the front and the back. It was always my dream to live in a house with a tin roof and a big long porch, so I could sit dry and safe in a storm.

Flights Overhead

In the sky, the sound of thunder is like continual flights overhead, and the dim gray clouds mute the light so all the trees are evenly lit with a soft glow. Though wildflowers are still in bloom around the area, there are none here, and I’m hopeful this storm will feed the bags of wildflower seeds I scattered across the property weeks ago.

A Sad Call

Soon after I awoke this morning, my dad phoned and started the call with, “I’ve got some sad news.” That’s never good, and indeed an old family friend, Gladys Gorman, had passed. I knew she was sick and I had failed to visit her in a hospital nearby in San Antonio, knowing she was in a coma at the time. I’m regretting it now.

The last time I recall seeing her was at the funeral of my all-time best friend, Charlie Willer, probably more than 12 or 14 years ago.

Full of Life

I first met Gladys over 40 years ago, when she came to work for my dad. And though she was probably only there for five or 10 years, she was in our lives forever, because she was the kind of person you wanted to be around. Full of life, full of positive reinforcement, and overflowing with joy.

Sacrifices for Others

Gladys was a living example of living on the cause side of life, which I talked about last week. I don’t know anything about her upbringing, but when I first met her, she was raising three daughters as a single mom, making sacrifices to make sure they grew up in a nice house in a good school district, which had to be a stretch for her.


She made her living as a housekeeper and a cook, but she always had something on the side. I remember her having a booth at the local antique mall, selling something she had made. She was an entrepreneur and filled with ideas, most of which she pursued. She was always taking classes to better herself, listening to tapes (she asked to borrow many of the tapes I would buy to educate myself), and she was always getting certified in different things so she could make more income. Most important to her was an education for her kids.

Three Amazing Daughters

The best testament to her drive and positive attitude was that she raised three amazing daughters — one is an MD, another is also a doctor, a psychiatrist, and the third is a thriving artist. A single mom, making a living as a housekeeper, putting three girls though college. And they all turned out to be really quality people who deeply care about others.

I had a lot of time with Gladys over a few years, and I always looked forward to being with her. I can remember thinking, “I hope I see Gladys today.” I think it’s because she always made me feel so good about myself.

A Bright Spot

Gladys lived as a bright spot. To everyone she touched, she was the bright spot of their day. She projected joy, she was deeply interested in other people, and she would always make you feel good about yourself.

No Whining

I cannot imagine the hard times she had and the sacrifices she made being a single mom, working odd jobs, and still managing to get those girls the best possible education. Yet I never once saw her down, never once heard her complain about her circumstances, never once saw her play the victim. In fact, she always talked about how much she felt God had blessed her.

I Want to Be Like Her

Her passing reminds me of what I want to be. And I wanted to honor her today by telling you about her, so that her light will shine on through those of us who want to live as she did … a bright light that fills the room with joy.

Do people look forward to being around you, or do they run the other way?

Do you lift others up, or do you tear them down?

Do you share or whine too much about your circumstances, or do you accept them, embrace them for what they are, and focus on being joy-filled?

I can’t say I’ve lived up to the high bar that Gladys lived, but in her honor, I’m going to try harder.


Eric Rhoads

PS: My gut told me that I needed to go see Gladys, but I allowed busy to get in my way. Follow your gut.

Today, Palm Sunday, is a special day for many of us, and next week, Easter, is even more special. I hope you’ll find a way to gather with family next week to celebrate together. Right after Easter, my family of plein air painters will gather for a week to celebrate our craft. This past week I ran into three people who told me they were still trying to figure out how to go. I hope they do — a family gathering without all the family members isn’t as special. I’d be honored if you join that gathering. We can always find room for another seat at the table.


A Bright Spot in a Dark World2019-04-11T19:41:10-04:00
7 04, 2019

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 BS. “It’s easy for you,” he said. “You grew up in a good family, your dad owned a business, and you had a lot of advantages, which is why things are going so well for you.”

Tough Circumstances

Chris had grown up in a much more difficult climate. His mom had passed away and his dad, who had to work all the time, placed him in a boarding school and was unable to spend much time with him. He felt abandoned. He stayed in boarding school from a young age through high school, then college, and then he was on his own. “Is it any wonder I’m a negative thinker?” He would say to me. “I did not get the breaks you had.”

Of course, you and I both know that boarding school and college would be considered a big advantage by many people.

Advantages Don’t Matter

I spent most of our friendship trying to get him to look at the brighter side of life and never got him to agree. I pointed out that I knew people who grew up with great advantages, wealthy families, great educations, parents who offered to help them start businesses, and still those advantages did not help them. I also pointed out people I knew who came from really difficult situations, growing up in horrible families, horrible neighborhoods, struggling and starving, who pulled themselves up and made successes of their lives. It was thinking that made the difference, but he refused to agree.

Impact on Your Health

One day I told Chris his attitude was going to shorten his life. I then cited evidence. More BS, according to him. Years later at lunch he revealed that doctors thought he had brain cancer, and he decided he was going to give up smoking. He was really scared. Yet the next day, after he’d been given an all-clear, he started smoking again, and two years later he died of lung and brain cancer at a young age.

I bought Chris the book Think and Grow Rich, which changed my life. He never read it. Though it was written back in 1937, it turned out to be right. Today we have significant evidence that the brain reacts to the ways we interpret things.

Two things have been PROVEN scientifically:

  1. If you visualize something happening to you, in detail, and you take action toward those dreams, there is a high likelihood you can achieve things that are seemingly impossible. It can work in reverse if you think of the worst that can happen to you.
  2. If you treat others who don’t believe in themselves as though you believe in them, and tell them about how much you believe in them, and how much you know they will succeed, evidence suggests it can begin to remake their brain chemistry and positively change their lives until they get to the point they can manage their own mindset. Belief is a powerful thing.

The key in both cases is that positives need to outweigh negatives 10 to one.

I’ve been teaching these things for a while and find them fascinating, so much so that I’m actually taking a course to become a certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) coach. No, I don’t plan to quit my job and become a coach, I just want to understand it in depth, because my personal experiences with NLP have been game-changing and I want to take it to the highest level of performance.

In NLP, the foundation of everything in life is CAUSE and EFFECT.

In Chris’ case, “My dad put me in a boarding school and abandoned me” is cause. “I’m at a disadvantage because I did not get my dad’s love, and therefore my life sucks” is effect.

Chris was playing the victim.

I don’t doubt that he was hurting, or that he did not understand why his dad put him into boarding school. But instead of accepting it for what it was and managing his life in spite of it, his hurt became his excuse for problems and negativity his whole life. It’s OK to lick your wounds for a short time, but at some point you have to move on or you’ll get stuck.

Cause and Effect: One thing causes another thing to happen.

“I’m late because of you.” You caused me to be late.

You made me late. It’s an “if/then” mentality. If you did this to me, then this is the result.

Sadly, most of us spend our time in effect mode. Effect is always someone else’s fault. Frankly, it’s easier to blame others than to blame ourselves or accept personal responsibility. Plus, making it someone else’s problem gives us a subconscious excuse to fail.

  • “I didn’t get that job because you made me angry when you told me I needed to wear a tie, so I wasn’t in the right frame of mind.” 
  • “I can’t concentrate on my homework because dad has been mowing the lawn and making too much noise.” 
  • “You broke a promise years ago, therefore it’s OK for me to treat you badly.” 
  • “My boss is a jerk because he embarrassed me in front of others. Therefore it’s OK to steal from the company.” 
  • “All rich people are evil, so it’s OK for me to steal from them.” 
  • “I don’t like your politics, so it’s OK for me to slam you on social media.”

Are you stuck in the effect side of life?

So what’s the alternative? After all, bad things are going to happen.

To be better at cause, the key is never to blame others or blame circumstances. Accept what is and move on. “In spite of the car breaking down, I made sure I got all my meetings done anyway.”

Brush It Off

Learning to brush off cause so you’re not living with effect will change your life. Why waste energy on effect?

“I am so proud of myself. I had a challenging day. I had to concentrate really hard since they were working with a jackhammer outside my window. But once I had decided that I was going to concentrate on the job, the noise didn’t bother me.”  

Looking back in the future, do you want to say, “If it wasn’t for this or it wasn’t for that, I could have made a lot more out of my life”?   

When you are on your deathbed, do you want to be looking back and blaming other people or your circumstances for not having realised your potential?

The Difference Between “A” Players and Others

I spend time with a lot of highly successful people and all of them spend their time in cause and not in effect. In fact, I’ve found that A players are cause people, and B and C players are effect people.

Who are you blaming?

Why blame anyone or anything? Why not just accept circumstances and live the best life you can live without excuses?

You cannot ever expect anyone to pull you up out of your circumstances to make things better. Only you can be responsible for making that happen.

Which side will you spend your time on? Cause or effect? Cause is bright and sunny. Effect may be comfortable, but it’s dingy and dark.

You decide.

Either “I am in charge” or “Things happen to me and I am the victim.”

Where will you live the rest of your life?

Eric Rhoads

PS: Yesterday I had the pleasure of being the judge of the Paint the Town plein air festival in Marble Falls, Texas, and I met some amazing people and even had a chance to do a marketing talk earlier in the day. Today I drive back to judge the quick draw. I love my job. Then in just a couple of weeks, I’ll be heading out to the Plein Air Convention to spend time with my tribe. You should check it out. It’s a lot of fun. Did I mention I love my job?


Living with Cause and Effect2019-04-04T18:56:38-04:00