26 06, 2022

Chasing the Dream Life


Two large loons are swimming at the edge of the dock. Their cry echoes across the lake, bouncing off the distant shore, where the deep green pine trees are softly covered with morning fog, making them a pale bluish-gray color. A hawk flies overhead, and it’s so quiet you can hear the whoosh of her wings and her loud call as well. Not to be diminished, a tiny dock spider spins its web across the seat of the Adirondack chair next to me. 

Though the birds, the streaks of sunlight, the beautiful views may not be there for my pleasure, they bring pleasure just the same. I can choose to ignore them or to embrace their beauty. 

Type A

For decades I’ve been a hard-charging, “Type A” personality, working endlessly to help others find what I have to offer, and often chasing shiny objects, often in pursuit of the things the media tells us will create happiness.

Five Hot Cars

Looking back, I can recall gurus standing in front of their five-car garages, each door open with an expensive car in every slot. They would stand beside their jets and tell us that this can happen to us, too. And I bought into much of it, often buying a course to refine my skills.

Looking at the Mirror

I too wanted the trappings of success. I even created cutouts of the things I wanted and plastered them on my mirror, looking at them daily. And remarkably, most of those dreams came true. One expert told us to go to the car dealer, pick out the car we wanted and get a picture sitting in the driver’s seat, then paste the picture up on the bathroom mirror. Instead, I took an ad from a magazine and glued my photo onto the car in the ad. Every day, I told myself, if I sell this radio station one day, and if I make at least a million dollars, the first thing I’ll do is to go out and buy that Porsche 911.

A Dream Realized

When that day came, I went to the local Porsche dealer and could not believe how expensive the car was. Not wanting to blow through all my money, I began the search for a used one, eventually finding the exact car of my dreams at a fraction of the price. To this day I can remember the feeling of hitting a goal, the feeling of accomplishment for working so hard, yet being proud that I was practical by not buying a new car and losing 20 percent in depreciation. 

After a few weeks, my Porsche was just transportation, and I soon found I had my eye on the next cool car, the new BMW 7 series sedan. Soon, I had that car too. And before long, it too was just transportation. 


I used to drive through Palm Beach and see the mega mansions and tell myself, “Someday I’ll own one of those.” I’d see the excessive display of wealth, the spending, the cars, yachts, jets, jewels, and clothes, and I found myself wanting more and more. But I could not keep up. As my dad used to say, “Son, someone’s always got a bigger boat.”

A New Focus

Then one day Laurie announced that she was pregnant with triplets. I was suddenly the happiest I can remember being. My focus changed from being a hotshot to being a practical dad with looming college bills (for triplets). So we sold the nice cars and bought two simple Hondas. That was 20 years ago, and I still have one of them. 

My self-image had been tied to what the media said was success, but I realized that it was an empty vessel.

You Are What You Think

I’m a big believer in positive thinking and manifesting things (along with a plan and the associated work), and though I feel fortunate to have experienced hot cars, and even life on private jets, I’ve thankfully discovered that’s not where my happiness lies. King Solomon even talked about it — as the richest man in the world, he was never satisfied. 

Back to the Birds

That brings me back to the birds on the dock and the importance of knowing what truly makes you happy. For me, it’s about the beauty of nature, about deeply enjoying the people I love, and deepening relationships with others. 

Things happen for a purpose. Had I not experienced the chase and not experienced the things I thought would make me happy, I might still be chasing them. I’m thankful that I eventually arrived where I am.

Service to Others

I’m no longer a hard-driving Type A. Though I work hard, it’s because I love what I do, and my goal is to be of service to others, to help them live their dreams, to be their servant. Since I started with that attitude, my happiness level has soared. It has taken me decades to discover that happiness is found in service to others. 

Where does your happiness lie? I’d love to know what you’ve discovered.

Eric Rhoads

PS: Recently when cleaning my garage, I threw out things that I had craved to own. Mostly cool electronic gadgets, cameras, computers, speakers, etc. I can remember wanting these things, saving the money to get them, only to discard them for the next big thing. There is no better exercise than throwing out the things you once thought were important. Now, before I buy anything, I question my purchase. Do I need it? Will I be throwing it out in three years? 

My joy isn’t dependent on anyone else, but I gain great joy from other people, which is why tears were shed when we said goodbye at my Adirondack artist retreat with about 100 friends and new friends that ended a week ago yesterday. Every time I tell myself I’m only going to do it one last time, but I get such joy from the people that I can’t wait to do it again.

My next artist retreat, Fall Color Week, is coming up in October. I can hardly wait. It’s already sold out (there is a waiting list), so others must also see the joy.

I do have some space on my lifetime bucket list painters’ trip to New Zealand, though not much. That’s happening in September, so it’s already time to book flights. If you are on the fence, it’s best to decide now. 

In case you missed it, we have a brand new newsletter called Pastel Today. The editor, Gail Sibley, has been at the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) conference this week in Albuquerque (it’s a great organization and event). If you want the free newsletter, join us at PastelToday.com. And if you really want to grow as a pastel artist or learn about it, we have Pastel Live online, coming up in August. It’s a three-day event with the top pastel artists on earth, plus an optional Beginner’s Day.

Chasing the Dream Life2022-06-26T01:01:13-04:00
11 06, 2022

My Personal Secrets Revealed


A bright pink salmon-colored sky is glowing, with the black lace of pine trees silhouetted against its brilliant color. The lake is mirroring the sky, not a ripple in sight. The silence is beyond any level of quiet I’ve ever experienced. This is the true definition of peaceful.

In the late 1800s, the Hudson River School painters were criticized for their brilliant sunrise and sunset paintings because the coal-smoke-filled skies of New York made such skies unbelievable. Yet, as I sit here on the dock of my Adirondack home, I’m a witness to confirm such brilliance exists here in this 6-million-acre protected park. The air is so pure I find myself taking deep breaths more frequently.

A Boat Ride Away

Just minutes from now, after coffee on the dock, I’ll put on my jacket and put the first ripples on the glass-like lake as I make my way across to a small, winding river through the weeds and woods to the next lake over, where I’ll pull up to the dock at Paul Smith’s College. That’s where I’m hosting my 11th annual artist retreat I call the Publisher’s Invitational. I’m hosting about 100 plein air painters, who will paint the incredible scenery here for a week.

No More Invitation Required

I started this event after some painters told me they rarely get a chance to simply paint side by side because most events involve a sale and competition. My event used to be invitation-only till the demand to attend made it clear invitations would no longer need to be issued. Now anyone who wants to come can come. (Quietly, I do an actual “invitational” with a small group of high-level painters at a different time in the summer.)

At the beginning of the year, when I was rethinking my priorities, I came to some conclusions about my personal operating system. My priorities have changed since I’ve seen so many good people disappear in the last couple of years. Because I get lots of questions about how I have such energy and how I manage to accomplish so much, I thought I’d share this.

    1. Spiritual health

      If my walk with God isn’t strong, then everything else is out of balance. I make a point to read my Bible every morning before I open any email or social media. I spend time in prayer many times daily. It’s not about earning favor (which isn’t possible), it’s about praise and thanksgiving.

    2. Health trumps everything

      My goal is to optimize health, keep my immune system strong, maintain high standards of mobility, and keep my energy high. This includes walking fast, interval and weight training most days, supplemented by daily walks (up here the woods make for amazing walks). I study nutritional and longevity trends, take lots of the latest supplements (including NMN, which is revolutionary), and I get my blood tested at least four times a year. I maintain a mostly vegan diet along with some fish, and I try to live as stress-free as possible.

    3. Mindset makes a huge difference

      Friends my age and younger are winding down. I’m winding up. I’m just getting good at the things that have taken me a lifetime to learn, I don’t want to stop now. I want to see what’s possible. My friend John Kluge, who became the richest man in the world, told me, “I did not really figure things out till I was 65 or 70. When my friends were retiring, I was just getting started. Keep pitching. Never stop pitching.” I carefully guard my self-talk, and I realize that I have more to give, so I don’t ever want to tell myself there are limitations or restrictions.

    4. Family and friends matter most

      I take more time for my family than ever, realizing that my kids are growing up and leaving home. I have lessons I need to teach them, and they have lessons to teach me. I’m trying to invest in my family more deeply and let them know they are loved.
      I’m also investing more time in friendships. I’ve had too many recent instances where my last phone call or visit with someone was the last time I’d ever be able to visit with them.

    5. Help others

      What can I do to make life better for others? What kinds of experiences can I give them that may become lifetime memories? How can I use what I’ve learned and earned to help others? How can I coach others? How can I help others live a better life?

    6. Live for experiences and play 

      Life boils down to special moments and memories, most of which are created. My goal is to live as richly as possible by creating experiences and moments for my family, myself, and others. I want to travel more and take others along on the experiences. I want to play more, spend more time on the things I love, and experiment more with new things (for instance, I’m teaching myself 3D design and printing, I’m learning other mediums like pastel, watercolor, and gouache, and I’ve been doing woodworking, building my own new easel design). 

    1. Challenge myself

    Unchallenged people become dull and lifeless. I want to be curious, set no limits on what is possible, and push myself to accomplish great things. It’s not about money (though that’s often a measurement device), it’s about doing what cannot be done, inventing what can’t be invented, creating what can’t be created. 


    1. Be a nice guy no matter what

     I self-identify as a nice guy. My goal is to listen better, get to know others at a deeper level, be truly interested, and to be a nice guy. I can’t say I’ve always lived up to this, but I’m trying harder than ever. I want to be nice under pressure. I want to be the person I’d want to meet, someone who cares deeply about others and their stories.

    1. Life is about learning

      I’m eager to learn. I want to be better at the things I know, I want to learn about things I don’t know, and I want to discover things from others that can make me a better and more interesting person. I try to read daily, I take courses online (I just got certified in NLP, for instance, and I’ve been learning self-hypnosis), and I’m seeking things outside my lane to keep my life interesting.

    2. Finish well

      My dad finished well. He lived to 92 and died in his own home, and had a lot of people who loved him for who he was, not what he had. His life, family, friendships, interests, and relationship with God were rich up until the end. Upon his passing I heard stories from others of his friendships, where he went out of his way to make others feel special, to help others in need. He never talked about it. I don’t like to talk about what or where I give, who I help, or everything I’m up to. Some things are best executed silently.

Have you ever created your own personal operating system?

Don’t copy mine, come up with your own. Chances are you have it in your head. Put it in writing — it provides clarity and acts as a reminder that life is far from over.

Eric Rhoads

PS: Today is our first day of painting at my event. I’m excited to paint with everyone and start catching up or getting to know them.

Speaking of experiences, I’ve just made our reservations to fly to New Zealand. I’m taking 50 to paint and tour, and I think we’ve got a few seats left, though if you want to go, we need you to book soon so you can book your flights. You can learn more at www.paintingnewzealand.com.

My next artist retreat is in October in Maine, and it’s almost already sold out. I think there are a handful of seats left (we have limits on how many rooms we can get). www.fallcolorweek.com

PS2: Love pastel? Last August when I held Pastel Live online, I got inspired and started painting in pastel. I picked up lots of ideas from top artists at that event and I’m loving the qualities I can get from pastel that I can’t get from other mediums, including high, vibrating color. I’m very excited and committed to pastel and am pleased to announce that we just launched a new, three-times-a-week pastel newsletter with Editor Gail Sibley. You can get it free by going to https://pasteltoday.com/newsletter/. Check it out.

My Personal Secrets Revealed2022-06-11T22:18:14-04:00