27 10, 2019

The Grand Purpose of Beauty


Porches are like portals. Spending time on a porch can be recovery time, relaxing time, thinking/pondering time, and time to take our thoughts to other places.

Time here on this porch in Austin, which overlooks distant hills of grass, gnarly scrub oak trees, and faraway cattle, is always a special time, and it’s good to be back after a couple of weeks away in France and Scotland. 

In the summer I write to you from an old screened-in octagonal porch overlooking the lake that has hosted conversations for over 120 years. Each porch brings out something special in its visitors, and each inspires thought.

A Grand Experience

This past week I stood briefly on the porch of a grand estate, Gosford House, that makes Downton Abbey feel small. The old stone porch of this house, finished about 120 years ago, overlooks 5,000 acres of Scottish countryside and the sea. We stood there in the freezing cold as a troop of bagpipers marched before us, playing pipes, drums, and flutes in harmony as we said farewell to Scotland and our annual Fine Art Trip. Tears welled up in my eyes with the beauty of this old tradition and the experience of being in this special place.

When we walked into the home as a bagpiper played to welcome us, I saw the grand foyer and a marble staircase with monumental marble walls unlike anything I’ve seen before. It truly took my breath away. I could hear the gasps of my guests as they entered.

A Table for Royalty

Once inside the house and after a brief tour, we held our closing dinner at a single 60-foot-long dining room table via candlelight, in the same seats used by royalty and dignitaries of Scotland’s history. Here, I toasted my guests as we enjoyed an unparalleled experience, a dinner like no other, and a lifetime memory.

The Largest Private Art Collection in Northern Europe

Making things even more special, the house held more art than many major museums. I’m guessing 3,000 or more paintings and sculptures, including names like Titian, Rubens, Rembrandt, Sargent, the studio of DaVinci, and hundreds of others, collected for hundreds of years by the family before this house was built. I’m guessing the house was 30,000 square feet per floor, with a three-story marble foyer area that is larger than most homes. This is the largest private home I’ve ever visited, and the largest and most tasteful private collection of art I’ve seen. 

Thankful for Survival

It’s a rarity that a grand house of this magnitude survives today, with deep taxation and the costs of upkeep. Most have ended up turned over to the government for taxes, or to the Scottish National Trust, an important nonprofit that restores and maintains such houses. But many such grand houses crumble and rot in disrepair as family members try to cling to their aging homes. Thankfully, Gosford House remains in its original family, a long line of Scottish earls who have managed the delicate dance of keeping income flowing through tours, golf, and outings like ours.

Reacting to Opulence

One could have a lot of different responses to a home of this magnitude. Instead of wondering about what could have been done with all the money to help others, I choose to be grateful that its creators had such grand vision and that it’s now being shared for the world to see. It reminds me of the importance of the finest architects, the best garden designers, and taste-seeking art connoisseurs.

As we toured private homes, private collections, grand palaces, castles, and museums, I remain grateful that we can tour such places, that they have been created and are now preserved as living museums.

What Billionaires Need to Do

I remember commenting to Peter Trippi, editor-in-chief of my magazine Fine Art Connoisseur, that I wish more of today’s billionaires would exhibit such taste and vision, creating future palaces for the world to tour, or building vast art collections for the world to view. One of the ultimate gifts to the world is to build and use a grand home or palace for a lifetime, or for a few generations, then make it available for the world to see. 

Great Wealth Requires Great Responsibility

Though grand houses, estates, and palaces can become monuments to the taste of their owners, clearly we need those individuals to do great things with their wealth to change the world as well, first and foremost. Yet great wealth can do both, as proven by Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Vanderbilt. They not only helped others with foundations and institutions that continue to this day, most of them built grand estates that are now museums. If not for the vision and taste of wealthy people of the past, we would have no castles, estates, or even museums to visit. 

Rarely are such great estates built today, and rarely do we see billionaires employing the best artisans of our time to create something special that no one else could possibly afford. Thankfully, there are still some great minds building new institutions, such as the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, thanks to the vision and leadership of Alice Walton. But there are more museums that need to be built than there are billionaires. Museums that reflect our style and times are important for future generations.

Grand Vision Isn’t Always About Money

People with grand vision and great taste don’t always have money, yet can still leave a huge impact. Before this trip to Scotland I had never heard the name Phoebe Anna Traquair, yet seeing the murals she painted for the interior of the Song School at St. Mary’s Cathedral left a huge impression, particularly because she contributed four years of her life for the murals she donated. She found a way to leave behind grand beauty without big money. The Song School is now a must-see for every art lover visiting Scotland.

There is an important collection of modern art created by a couple of modest means who bought one or two pieces a year from young artists they believed in, using their small schoolteacher salaries. 

Great craftspeople, artists, muralists, sculptors, writers, poets need a way to leave their mark so the world can experience and enjoy it. Sadly, most will never be exposed to a wide audience. But people with great wealth can ensure that people creating great art have their work heard and seen by future generations. Patrons have built the world of beauty we see, whether through their purchase of artwork and making their homes into museums — such as that created by Isabella Stewart Gardner in Boston — or by donating to help build a monument, a museum, a building. Even those with very little can participate or contribute in some way.

Putting Beauty Where It Belongs

What concerns me is that beauty has become secondary in many societies, including our own. Though I’m not anti-profit, there tends to be too much emphasis on profit without design. Thankfully companies like Apple prove that great design can help make the biggest company in the world. Wouldn’t it be nice if Apple funded an amazing museum of today’s design with top artists so they will be remembered and thanked 200 years from now?

For those with great wealth, beauty can be offered on a grand scale, as at Gosford House, or by turning your passion and love for collecting into a museum. For instance, the Minnesota Marine Art Museum was founded by two passionate collectors, Mary Burrichter and Bob Kierlin (the founder of Fastenal), to the benefit of their community in Winona, Minnesota. On a grander scale, heiress Maja Hoffman hired Frank Geary to build an incredible destination museum to put the town of Arles in France on the map. 

The Role of Artists

Those who make art can’t just sit on it and hope to be discovered. They need to play a role in self-promotion to make sure their gift is seen by others. Too many great artists have died unknown. It’s why I devote much of my life to training artists to promote themselves. 

It’s also important for those with means to do what they can to support artists, not just with art purchases, but patronage, commissions, introductions, and finding ways to leverage those artworks into large institutions and collections where they can be seen and enjoyed by all.

Beauty to the Masses

Many of today’s wealthy have failed to recognize the value of bringing beauty to the lives of others. Charles Rennie Macintosh, William Morris, and Elbert Hubbard made it their goal to bring beauty to the masses, not just the wealthy, and the homes they built for themselves and others have become museums filled with beauty for all to see.

Lifetime Impact

I can remember my first visit to an art museum in New York as a child, and the lifelong impact of that one-hour visit. It would not have happened if Henry Clay Frick had not donated his mansion and his collection. Impacting one little boy has helped impact the world. Therefore we cannot overestimate the importance of exposing others to beauty, to design and architecture, to grand homes that help people see what can be possible, to amazing art collections that open hearts. 

Creating and preserving beauty for all to see is critical for all societies, but especially our screen-obsessed societies who need to see how life was and how life can be. Soon they will ask what more there is to life, and the answer they need to find is beauty.

We can each play a role.

In what way will you use your personal platform, your voice, your influence to create or promote beauty? 

A Difficult but Clear Choice

I had to make a choice. Spend my life becoming a great artist, or spend my life promoting and helping artists. The choice was very clear. Though I paint for passion and love, and I produce and sell a few choice pieces a year, my life is best used serving artists, exposing art, using my platform for art education, helping artists learn to promote themselves, training artists through events, books, and videos, and helping create beauty. I’ve been given a gift of vision, and it’s where I intend to spend my time.

What choices will you make? In what ways can you play a role in the creation and promotion of beauty? 

Small things matter as much as big things. In what small way can you touch others and expose them to true beauty? 

Maybe it starts with your own kids or grandkids. Maybe it’s about dragging someone to a museum or a grand house or castle. Maybe it’s collecting artists’ works. Maybe it’s using your platform, your talent, your voice to play a role. 

If you’ve been silent up till now, maybe it is time to make your voice heard and share the beauty you see or create. Our world would be pretty boring without beauty. Together you and I can make the world more civilized and less polarized by bringing back beauty.

Eric Rhoads

PS: What if you knew nothing about art but decided you wanted to learn, or at least experience being around artists? What if you could have been seated in the cafes in Paris with Monet and friends? What if you could have experienced the artists of the great Paris Salon, a hundred years ago? This beauty is possible for you. In the interest of beauty, the interest of furthering the contemporary realism art movement, and the interest of helping all artists gain more knowledge and understanding, I am gathering the finest artists in the world for a few days in November. You can come and experience this firsthand, and sit in the cafes of Williamsburg with artists who will become or already are famous. You can watch them paint, hear their philosophies, discover how to do it yourself, and even be hands on in our studio with live models and instructors. It’s called the Figurative Art Convention & Expo, and you are invited. You can learn more here.

PS2: The beauty of life is at its fullest when you can share experiences with others you love. For the past 18 days I’ve been in France painting with friends, then leading an art tour of about 50 guests through the South of France, the French Riviera, and Edinburgh, Scotland. We had life-changing experiences, visited homes, studios, castles, and museums, and even had some unheard of private experiences like the one I described above. Though the education and stimulation and art are wonderful, the truly amazing part is the friendships that develop among us all. Even the new people made deep new friendships. I feel honored to have led this group for 10 years and hope to continue it for 10 more. I want to acknowledge and thank everyone who was on the trip for honoring me with your presence. We will continue to see the world, and the next adventure will be announced soon.

PS3: In just a couple of weeks I’ll be in New York at our annual Radio Forecast conference at the Harvard Club. Then the following day I’ve been invited by the commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission to share my thoughts on how they should handle regulation of the radio industry. After 50 years in radio, this is probably the highest honor I’ve received — to be asked for my opinion by those who make the decisions that impact America. I’m truly humbled and excited. Though I have undying passion for art, I’ve never let go of my first love and passion, my career in radio broadcasting.

The Grand Purpose of Beauty2019-11-08T11:25:45-05:00
20 10, 2019

The Joy of Transformation


The faint sound of bagpipes filters through the brisk, moist air as the sun makes a hazy entrance on this brisk Edinburgh morning. A peek out my hotel window feels like Harry Potter World at Universal Studios, but it’s the real thing … we’re here as part of our annual Fine Art Connoisseur magazine art trip for four days of viewing the best art in Scotland.

We spent last week in Provence and the French Riviera, walking in the footsteps of many great artists and learning more than we ever expected. It was invigorating spending time with art and great friends.

Overnight Change

One thing I found eye-opening is that many of the great artists were not always great  — and each had had a moment of transformation. Many had gone from average and the expected style of their time to a new style and approach almost overnight. But how?

What is it that causes us to make the different decisions that often transform our lives?

Not only did we see countless examples of artists who transformed their art, we learned about others who transformed their conditions. How is it that someone who is in a horrific situation becomes able to pull themselves out of their circumstances?

A Complete Upheaval

We visited a small museum collection in Provence that had belonged to a wealthy individual who built an incredible collection of historical art. Suddenly, as the world started to change, he gave his entire collection to his nephew and started a new collection of early modern art. He not only shed his old collection, he shed his mansion and all of his furniture, and built a new house with all new style, new furniture, and art that reflected what was new.

How is it someone who had invested so deeply, and had been so committed and passionate that he built such an important collection, suddenly took such a dramatic left turn?

Sudden Left Turns

Stories of transformations inspire me — and I’ve experienced my own, where one moment I’m moving in a committed direction, and then I make a sudden left turn to the unexpected. It happened when I transformed from my radio career to a commitment to art. Though I did not burn the bridges behind me, this change was transformational for me just the same.

Have you ever experienced a transformation in your life, where you totally changed direction?

I suspect the answer lies in the idea of continual learning. The idea of following a patch of curiosity until the weight of new information overcomes the commitments of the past.

People have “religious experiences” for this reason … new information renders old information less relevant, or perhaps irrelevant entirely. 

My perspective is that without growth, without forced transformation, we experience stagnation, and it prevents us from living a full and rich life.

The Unexpected

I’ve discovered that in almost every case of major transformation, it was driven by exposure to something new opening up new possibilities. At a time of dark, academic art, the Impressionists came on the scene with bright colors and reflected sunlight and indications instead of tight renderings. This very idea inspired others to explore and take things to new heights.

The Intersection

We all tend to find ourselves set in our ways, comfortable where we are, or maybe just not wanting to be uncomfortable. But the magic of life lies at the cusp between new and old. And sometimes, as is the case with the realism movement in art, what’s old is new again, and considered avant-garde by those stuck in the old new.

If you’re looking for transformation, you’ll find it through exploration when new challenges stimulate you to try new things. If you’re not looking for it, you have to be willing to grab that brass ring as the horses quickly pass by, knowing it may never come around again. Being aware and watching for it will help you see it when it comes.

Innovation, new ideas, new stories, new art come from transformation and disruption. Keep an eye out.

Eric Rhoads

PS: To those of you who may be stuck in doing things the way they have always been done, are you comfortable to the point where you’re unknowingly hurting yourself? I’d like to invite you to a week of transformation at our upcoming Figurative Art Convention & Expo in Williamsburg, Virginia, where we approach things differently, in a refreshing modern way, while dealing with the very important subject of realistic painting in its various forms. It’s coming up November 10-13 (and we have two powerful pre-convention workshops you can learn about here and here). You have everything to gain … including an expanded mind and a fresh new approach to painting — figurativeartconvention.com.

The Joy of Transformation2019-10-18T14:59:33-04:00
13 10, 2019

Supercharge Your Brain


Like art, the tweets of birds are an international language that all can interpret, though I swear the little yellow birds that frolic in the old stone birdbath here on the porch are tweeting in French.

Breathing deeply, I take in the cool air and the view of the mountains that were made famous by Cezanne, who painted frequently near this very spot — an old yellow farmhouse with shadows of olive trees playing on its stucco walls. Looking down the long outdoor hallway, covered with vines held up by old wrought iron lamps, I can see the village awakening and begin to hear the sound of church bells in the distance. I’m here with my fine art group at a stunning five-star hotel, Domaine de Manville, deep in the countryside of Les-Baux-de-Provence, France.

Deep Gratitude

It’s hard to wake up in a place like this without feeling tremendously grateful. I’m not only grateful for the opportunity to be here, to lead and spend time with this group of friends and see all the art treasures in the area, I’m grateful for how being here changes my perspective and disrupts my comfort zone.

Scrambled Brain

Though we’re all pretty comfortable here, our brains scramble anytime we leave the comfort of our own surroundings and are exposed to new sights, new language, and new experiences.

We all strive for comfort and familiarity, yet it is discomfort that stimulates growth and helps our brains discover new possibilities.

Bumbling Along

Being here in France, trying to communicate with people who speak little or no English, really stretches my non-French-speaking brain. Reading menus without translations, making out road signs, or trying to figure out labels on a drugstore shelf is both frustrating and invigorating. I love the challenge and the stimulation.

A Grand Tradition

Back in the 1800s, wealthy families would send their graduating sons and daughters on the Grand Tour, which was six months or a year abroad. It was considered a necessary rounding of one’s education to experience Europe, its languages and great museums, and its extraordinary geography. I think it’s a valuable experience every graduate should have if they can.

I Should Have Quit

I made my first trip here at 19, traveling with my parents. I remember wanting to stay longer, so I phoned my boss at the radio station begging for one more week, but he refused. It was such a wonderful experience here, I was tempted to quit my job and backpack around Europe. Looking back, I wish I had.

An Annual Trek

Eleven years ago, after a near-death experience, I told myself I would travel to Eurooe at least once a year, and I have accomplished that goal. Once the kids are in college, I hope we can spend more time traveling the world to experience its unique cultures. I consider it my continuing education.

What are you doing to disrupt your comfort zone?

Seeking Discomfort

It doesn’t require a trip to Europe, and not even a trip to another place at all (though if you’ve not done it, it’s worth saving for). Getting out of your comfort zone is just a matter of forcing yourself to do something you would ordinarily never do or have never considered doing. It might be as simple as going to an ethnic festival or trying foods you’ve never tried, reading things you would never otherwise pick up, maybe taking a class in something completely foreign. Instead of watching TV at night, I’ll watch online courses in things I know nothing about. I recently watched one on fashion design and another on psychology.

Supercharged Mind

The key is being intentional. Though accidental discomfort can be exhilarating, we tend to live routines that keep accidents from happening. Yet if you’re intentional, you are supercharging your brain, which impacts everything you do, keeps life interesting, and makes you feel better about yourself because you’re learning.

Comfort is the enemy of growth. Discomfort is a jewel worth embracing.

I encourage you to take your own Grand Tour of discomfort. You’ll be amazed at how your brain and attitude will change.

Eric Rhoads

PS: Starting out last Monday, Laurie and I flew to Nice, France, arriving Tuesday in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, an old medieval hilltop village in the South of France. Our hotel there, the Colombe d’Or, has a rich history of art and has housed movie stars, film directors, and artists like Miro, Braque, Chagall, Calder, Picasso, and others, including a group of 12 artists who joined me to paint the distant mountains and cobblestone streets.

When one of my readers knew we would be there, she offered to show us the great painting spots and painted with us. She also had all 12 of those on my painting trip to her lovely home for dinner. Special thanks to Elisa and Paul Mussin for their hospitality.

This week following the painting trip, we met up with my annual Fine Art Trip, celebrating Van Gogh and Cezanne and their old stomping grounds as well as seeing the great museums of the region.

Soon after returning home, I’ll be seeing many of you at my Figurative Art Convention & Expo, one of the great opportunities to learn to paint under the greatest of the great masters. I hope to see you there November 10-13 in Williamsburg, Virginia: FigurativeArtConvention.com.

Supercharge Your Brain2019-10-11T16:39:29-04:00
6 10, 2019

The Bully Inside


Finally, the oppressive Austin heat is subsiding and it’s a fairly cool morning compared to what it has been. Still hot, I’m splayed out like a dead cat on the couch, here on the back porch overlooking the cattle in the back 40 (fortunately they’re my neighbors’ cattle to care for). My body is totally relaxed, with legs up on the old wicker coffee table, and my back is barely upright, head leaning into the back of the couch, and my arms were just extended out to the sides with an empty coffee mug dangling from my limp fingers. Finally, I can relax.

Heading to Europe Next

It’s been a whirlwind crazy time. A week ago today I finished up a week of painting at Ghost Ranch, home of Georgia O’Keeffe. I was the fearless leader of 98 painters, and though we had a great time, my time in the office playing “catch up” afterward was brutal. So today I relax … and tomorrow I board a big bird to paint in Saint-Paul De Vence, France, for a few days with friends before meeting up with our Fine Art Trip through the South of France and then Scotland. Though I’m leading a group of about 40, it’s our vacation too, so I’m getting excited.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. A week of painting with friends is about the best week a guy can have. And the beauty was amazing.

Flipping the Bird

One day last week I took the morning off from painting to take pictures. Stopping along Monastery Road to talk with some painters, they told me that on the way there they had passed one of the members of the group who was driving slowly on the windy road. As they passed her, the woman leaned out the window as if to wave, but instead gave them “the finger.” They were appalled that anyone would have that reaction just because they wanted to pass, but then to see it was someone within our own group (who probably did not recognize them), they were mortified. They went on to say they had noticed she had not fit in, and was sort of grumpy and not joy-filled like the others in the group.They referred to her as kind of a bully. 

I was speechless. And the first thing that crossed my mind was “She must be hurting.” I know, because I’ve been there. When I was bullied, I wanted to fight back. But we never know what someone else is going through at the time.

Victim of Bullying

As a child I was heavily bullied. I was one of the school “fat kids,” and I could not get a break. It seemed like every encounter with most of the other kids was unpleasant. I was called names, I was the last one left when picking teams, and I was generally unpopular. I remember one time before gym class when all the boys in the locker room started mocking me, calling me names, and snapping my naked fat body with their towels. Though I wanted to cry, I pretended it was funny. But it was everything but funny. I cried endless hours at home, wondering “Why me?” I dreaded going to school and dreaded gym even more.

The Pain of Reinvention

I begged my parents to let me change schools. They had no idea what was going on or the depth of the problem. Eventually I moved schools and reinvented myself without the years of baggage and image I’d have had to overcome with the other kids. And as painful as it was, that pain resulted in my reinvention and becoming who I am today. It did not seem like it at the time, but it was a blessing.

Bully 101

There are two kinds of bullies — external and internal. And I suspect all external bullies are rooted in internal bullies. In other words, people who bully others are dealing with some tough stuff, and the only thing that makes them feel better is to belittle or bully others. This, I suspect, was what was happening with the woman who gave the other ladies “the bird.” 

Bound with Chains

Sadly, the bully inside binds us all with chains, and we become stuck in this prison cell inside our heads. 

Why, if we love ourselves as we should, would we bully ourselves with negative self-talk? It’s awful to bully, berate, or be critical of others, but it’s even worse to do it to ourselves.

A Good Reason

I know … you’re this way because of your conditions. You grew up with abusive parents. You had abusive siblings or aunts and uncles. Your parents made you work on the farm. Someone in your family drank too much. You had a traumatic event in your life. You were poor. You were hungry. You were embarrassed. Your parents did not give you enough time or love. Fill in the blank here.

Refusing to Let Conditions Kill You

I have not walked in your shoes. You have not walked in the shoes of others. But I can tell you this. Everyone has conditions, history, difficult things that have happened. 

How is it that a woman who was kidnapped, raped by a platoon of soldiers, and then sold into sex trafficking can ever possibly have a smile on her face again? It’s because she, and others like her who have had horrific things happen to them, refuse to live their conditions. (I recently heard a woman tell this story with a forgiving heart.)

You are not your conditions.

You are not the conditions of your past or your present. Conditions do not define you. You have to rise above your conditions and show people that the only condition you’re willing to accept is that you are able to adapt and not willing to let anything destroy you. 

Magnetic People

What is it about some people you meet that makes you instantly know you want to be around them? Usually it’s because they have a big smile on their face, they are welcoming, they are non-judgmental, and they are happy. You want to be around them because they believe in themselves, and they believe in you, that you bring value to the world, no matter what.

Yes, I Served Time

I used to be in prison … locked away by my negative self-talk. For instance, I was invited by the BeeGees to a party at their home, yet I declined because I felt I was not worthy to hang out with such famous people. The same thing happened when comedian Red Skelton invited me to take him shopping. I declined. “Why would they want this useless fat kid from Indiana?” I thought.

I was living my conditions. After years of bullying in elementary, junior high, and even high school, I started to believe the things the mean kids said about me. So I got fatter to protect myself, I had low self-esteem, and I was depressed and lonely. “Why would anyone want to be around me?” I thought.

The Pretend Me

But there were two of me … the radio DJ no one could see, who could have fun and entertain on the radio, and the me that others could see in person. I had unknowingly separated them. One had no limits, no boundaries, could be fun and entertaining — the other was still living in my prison. And I carried this around with me for years. 

Eventually I managed to lose weight and become the me I wanted to be. I became more outgoing, and pretended to have my act together, yet for years I carried that belief: “What could I possibly have to offer?” 

A Simple Solution

I spent a fortune on therapy. I destroyed a lot of relationships and a marriage because of my internal prison. It turns out, all I had to do was change my perspective, stop my negative self-talk, and realize that I was of value to others, that they wanted to be around me.

My life changed. My career changed. My world changed, and now I am driven to help others get beyond their prison. I live my own life on my own terms.

If Only…

We tell ourselves that conditions will change everything … you know: “If only I get a bigger house, a nicer car, a more attractive partner, a prettier boat, a slimmer body, or a better job…” New external conditions may heal your wounds for a couple of days or a few weeks, but the only way to feel better in the long run is to tell yourself you’re no longer going to be imprisoned. Break the chains and walk out. Yes, it’s that easy.

Rich and Still in Prison

I know people who are ultra-wealthy, have lots of big houses and fancy cars, have trophy wives or husbands, have incredible companies or fame, yet they too are in prison, looking for more so they can feel better about themselves. They are stuck in their mind prison, stuck in self-pity, stuck in their past conditions, and bullying themselves.

STOP bullying yourself. Stop beating yourself up. You cannot change your life as long as you are your own enemy and you’re always shooting yourself with bullets, always reliving all the bad things that happened to you, always reliving the conditions you were in or are in now.

When you’re in prison, you start looking for problems, start believing all the negatives, start buying into all the bad things in the world that you can’t change. You become someone no one wants to be around — which of course fuels your own conviction that no one wants to be around you.

This is worth watching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow0lr63y4Mw

You cannot bully yourself. You have to love yourself.

You cannot truly love others until you can love yourself. You can’t give of yourself until you love yourself.

Yeah, but…

But my conditions, my horrible life, my horrible parents … stop it. It is what it is, you can’t change it. You can only change how you process it. Do you really want your past to hold you hostage? Forgive. It won’t be easy. But you’re doing it for you, and that makes it easier.

There are no guards in this prison … well, just one. You are the only one holding yourself in prison.

Dr. Sean Stevenson (1979-2019), whom I met three times, said, “True freedom is to drop out of your mind into your heart.”

It’s Your Own Choice

No matter what has happened “to” you, no matter your conditions, you have the freedom to choose how you let it impact you. You can choose a happy life, a great attitude, a big rich smile that is rooted in confidence. 

When you love yourself, whether you’re living in the biggest house in town or homeless on the streets, whether you have endless money or don’t know where your next meal is coming from, you are free. Free of negatives, free of self-pity, free of letting bad things bring you down.


When you live from the heart, when you shed the chains of disaster and negativity, you can hold your head high and face anything. Best of all, your conditions are no longer who you are.

Bullets Bounce Off

This new approach won’t keep you from having problems. You’ll have just as many, but they won’t wound you. The bullets will bounce off your chest. It does not mean they won’t hurt, but they won’t define you. And the side benefit is that you’ll instantly draw others to you because of your confidence and that big, genuine smile. No longer will you need to kick others down to make yourself feel better. No longer will you buy in to the lies and negativity you or others have been feeding you.

Don’t Let Them Beat You Down

You’ll be told a lot of things in your life, but push those things out unless they’re empowering or helpful. We all get negative thoughts, but you can choose to push them away or absorb them. If you absorb, it changes your personality, and scientifically, changes your physiology. Don’t let the negative win.

Oh, and you may have to change friends, because pity loves company and once you drop the pity, your pitiful friends won’t want you around. Yet you’ll become a magnet to others who want to be around you because of who you’ve become.

Embrace Change

The bully within is a powerful monster. All bullies are monsters. Take it by the horns and push it out of your life. It’s not easy, it takes time, but you will soon notice that your self-talk has changed and you’ll be loving yourself and boosting your own confidence. You are valuable to others. Embrace it and watch what happens.

Eric Rhoads

PS: Now that we’re in the fourth quarter, it’s time to start thinking about what you want to change in your life for next year. Actually giving thought early (rather than only on New Year’s Eve) is a good idea so you can make a plan and implement it. You don’t have to live with things as they are, you can change directions and see amazing results even in 90 days. (My dad engrained this into me.) No one else owns or controls you. These are your choices and yours alone.

PS2: When I made up my mind that I wanted to learn to paint, my head trash was awful. “You can’t do it, you can’t draw a straight line or a stick figure.” I never believed what was possible, yet today I can hold my own, though I’ve got more I want to accomplish. There is a rare and special moment in time happening this November, where we’ve done what others said was impossible. We’ve gathered the very top artists/masters in the world to teach at our Figurative Art Convention & Expo. You can learn, or grow, or expand your knowledge in portraits, figures, drawing, painting, even still life and plein air. It’s happening one time only in Williamsburg, never to return. Don’t let your self-talk or your excuses win. You can do this. Of all things, we had our website crash last week on the day our early bird price expired, which made some people upset. So we extended it till tonight at midnight. Though it’s OK to pay $500 more after tonight, that’s enough savings to pay for a flight. Grab it while you can.

PS3: I cannot guarantee that I’ll be in a position to get Sunday Coffee done when I’m in Europe the next couple of weeks. I plan to try, but that is going to mean getting them done at 10 p.m. so you get them on time. So, if I don’t show up, you’ll know why. Or I may just grab something from the past. (If you want to browse them all, you can find them and subscribe free at www.coffeewitheric.com.)

The Bully Inside2019-11-08T11:26:13-05:00