28 04, 2024

Memories in a Mini


If this were a reality show and there was a camera on my face in the car, you would see every possible emotion. One minute I tear up, the next minute I’ve got a look of joy on my face, while another moment shows disappointment or disgust.

I flew into my hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana, yesterday to attend the Monday memorial for my Aunt Phyllis, who left us recently. And I’m driving all around town in my best friend’s Mini Cooper, going to places where memories were created.

Ouch. I still remember the pain. That’s the spot where I ran into a tree limb while playing football with my friends. It punctured right below my eye and came close to blinding me.

That corner is where a mean kid beat me up and stole all my Halloween candy. I wish I knew then what I know now. I would have dealt with it a lot differently.

On the same corner, I also get a big grin because it’s where I set up my lemonade stand every summer to raise money for muscular dystrophy. It was a half mile from my house, because I figured a busy street and a place easy to pull over would sell more stuff. I didn’t just have lemonade, I had a variety of drinks and snacks. 

Ohh, that’s the church with the weird roof that comes all the way to the ground. I remember getting kicked off for playing on that roof.

Hmmm, that’s where that mean kid lived who bullied me in 7th grade. I lost a lot of sleep over that, which seems foolish now.

Cool … there is our old house at 5311 Indiana Avenue … I wonder if they would let me dig up their backyard to find a time capsule my brothers and I planted there in 1965?

Oh, that’s the park where I made potholders.

This is the home of the kid who intentionally ran over my dog and killed him.

There is my grandparents’ old house where we used to swing on the front porch.

The memories are endless, and every possible emotion is flooding me this weekend. And when I see my cousins at the funeral tomorrow, more memories will be brought back as tears are shed. Funerals are for the living, and I’m looking forward to seeing people I’ll probably never see again.

Seismic Shift

I’m sure my parents, and their parents, and multiple generations before them, had a moment like this, where they realized …  their parents’ generation is entirely gone. Now we’re the next generation to go.

I’m not exactly sure what to do with that information. But if I look back on the last couple of decades, it’s a reminder that time travels incredibly fast, and I need to make the most of it.

If I were reading this at a young age, I’d roll my eyes and would not even consider thinking about these things. They are a lifetime away, till you awaken one day and find yourself there. 

Short Spurts

If I look back on the eras of my big projects … companies I’ve started, brands I’ve started, or other big projects … I realize that things tend to come in five- or 10-year spurts. So whatever project I take on today will probably eat up the next five or 10 years. 

When you think of life in 10-year segments, you really only get a few opportunities, unless you change jobs or careers every couple of years. But if you do that, it’s hard to go deep. 

So what will you do with the next segment? 

Most of us, myself included, tend to operate like a pinball machine. You get launched, then you bounce from thing to thing until you make a win, get a couple of points, or you fall into the gutter and get relaunched again … until you run out of turns. 

That’s why the question is so overwhelming to ponder. How will I get the most possible life experience, joy, wonderful adventures, and build memories in the time that remains? 

Last week we announced our new Fine Art Connoisseur Behind the Scenes Art Trip to Venice and Verona. This is our 12th year doing these trips, and a handful of the people who have come on every trip have now aged out. Many of them made their first trip in their mid-60s or 70s. Though many regulars will still sign up, and though new people sign up all the time, one person who has been on every trip says he no longer has the stamina to do the walking through museums, another can’t walk at all, and another has decided no more international travel for him because it’s too difficult. For some these changes were predictable, for others they were sudden and unexpected. Opportunity is here one minute and gone the next. We need to grab opportunities, never saying, “There’s always next time.” “Always” does not exist. 

Wakeup Calls

Though it’s never pleasant to go through the grief of losing an aunt or uncle or parent, these tough moments in life serve the important purpose of disrupting our routines and making us aware that time is short. In my case, if things like this did not serve as a reminder, I’d probably never make any change. But things like deaths or anniversaries wake me up … “What do you mean Fine Art Connoisseur is 20 years old? It seems like we started yesterday.” 

So what will you do with your next five years?

Will you be deliberate, or will you just go with the flow?

A life lived deliberately is filled with rich experiences. A life left to chance is risky.

Though we don’t have much control, we can mostly pick and choose what we want to spend our time on, what we want to strive for, and the experiences we want to have.

Time Is Running Out

The other day I was told I have to get my pilot’s license before my next birthday. That’s not much time to do something I’ve always wanted to complete. It turned out not to be true, but it is stimulating me to take action.

Make Some Decisions Today While This Is on Your Mind

If you were granted only five more years on this earth, no matter what age you are, how would you make the most out of those years?

Where would you start? What would you prioritize?

What have you always wanted to do?

Don’t worry about what is or isn’t possible. Set the goals first, then you’ll find a way to make them happen.

I want to try living in Italy. How am I going to make that happen?

I want to go around the world and paint. When will I do that?

There are things out of my control … like I would like to have a bunch of grandbabies and have them know me as adults. Right now my kids are still focused on getting their lives started, and that’s not yet on their radar. But there are things I can impact.

Let’s start planning and dreaming now, because like it or not, your time will expire when you least expect it.

Eric Rhoads

PS: When I awoke from blacking out in a near-death experience, there were two things that came to mind. The first was spending more quality time with my family. The  second was going to Europe or somewhere exotic at least once a year for the rest of my life. At the time, I did not know how I was going to do it, because I could not afford it. But by setting the goal and allowing creativity to flow, I came up with a way. That way was the annual Fine Art Trip.

Because of all the perks I receive as an art magazine publisher, such as meeting curators at museums, getting private tours of museums on days when they’re closed, visiting artists’ family homes and studios, it crossed my mind that I need to share these experiences and contacts with other people. By developing these behind-the-scenes trips, we’ve been able to help others experience things they could never set up on their own, no matter how wealthy they are. We’ve taken people into a place where only the pope and presidents have been permitted, as the first private group allowed. We’ve had the Sistine Chapel to ourselves. We’ve been in the home of Alphonse Mucha’s 90-year-old daughter-in-law to see his private family collection of paintings, which had never been shown or seen. And we were the last to be able to get a private viewing of Mucha’s Slav Epic paintings before they were confiscated by the government of Hungary. We’ve watched famous paintings be restored, we’ve had famous paintings handed around for our group to hold in their hands, we’ve had experiences that no one could arrange on their own.

Our group has become a family, and it’s painful when someone drops out. We’ve all made a point to go out of our way to be there to reconnect each year. And when new people join, they become a part of our family. Fast friendships are made.

I’d love to invite you to become a part of this special group. It’s for people who love and appreciate art and want to learn about it and see it on a deeper level. Sometimes one person in a couple is the art lover and the other goes along for the friendships. This is a moment when you are treated to the finest hotels, the most incredible restaurants, and an exceptional touring experience in addition to all the art experiences.

We did Venice before, in 2012, and we might repeat a few must-see highlights, but we’re going to see some amazing art and experience some incredible memories in Venice and Verona (an art-rich city that’s not on everyone’s radar). All of this is curated by Peter Trippi, editor-in-chief of Fine Art Connoisseur, and myself. We open our “Rolodex” so you meet the finest people in the art world.

And though this is not a painting trip, I’m planning a three-day pre-event trip in Venice for those who want to join and paint.

You can learn more at www.finearttrip.com.

Memories in a Mini2024-04-28T09:49:13-04:00
21 04, 2024

When Pushing Backfires


Mourning doves are cooing to greet the red sun rising over the horizon of water that reflects the pink sky. My morning greeting is never the same, and it’s one I never tire of. The doves play their flutes, providing music as I sit in my Adirondack chair on the dock. 

If you’re new, my routine is to write from my soul each Sunday.

“You need to tell the world about Sunday Coffee. Why aren’t you marketing it more? After all, you’re a marketing guy,” said an acquaintance of mine who suggested I could grow Sunday Coffee much bigger by being promotional.

“I’m trying something different this time,” I said. “I’ve spent my whole life marketing things, and I decided that since this is very personal, I’m just gonna see what happens.”

I think he muttered something like “Fool!” under his breath, or at least it seemed he was thinking it.

Giving In to Growth

Now this might sound very unlike me, but I stopped keeping track of subscribers when I hit 150,000 a few years ago. I decided that I did not want to know anymore because my ego might get in the way, and that might change my intentions. I don’t write with the intent of growth.

I honestly don’t know how many people read this letter, or how many people forward it. I don’t want to know, because I just want it to be organic.

Angel Wings

Sometimes you have to allow something to be carried forward by the wings of angels and quit trying to control everything. Instead of effort, Sunday Coffee is a reversed effort. Have you ever heard of the Law of Reversed Effort?

The Master and His Student

A student approaches his martial arts teacher, asking, “How long will it take me to become a master in martial arts?”

The master replies that it will take 10 years.

Looking frustrated, the young student says, “I want to master martial arts faster than 10 years. So I’ll work harder than anyone else, and I’ll push myself to practice more hours every day. If I do that, how long will it take?

The master replies, “20 years.”

Don’t Try Harder

The Law of Reversed Effort was coined by author Aldous Huxley, who said, “The harder we try with the conscious will to do something, the less we shall succeed.”

Is this true? You decide. 

When you’re on deadline pushing to accomplish a creative task, you become less creative because of the pressure.

When you’re feeling the pressure to meet the perfect partner, you rarely find someone. Yet when you give up and stop trying so hard (as I did), the perfect mate falls in your lap.

When you try to force yourself to fall asleep, what happens? You stare at the ceiling for hours.

Sahil Bloom, who introduced me to this concept, says that top pro athletes call this the “85% rule.” A runner will try to run at 85% because it keeps her looser, more fluid, and it feels effortless. When she tries to run at 100%, her muscles tighten, she may cramp up, and it slows her down.

So instead of pushing everything, when you start focusing on balance, you can actually achieve more.

No one can sustain pushing hard all day every day, and when they try, they burn out and become less effective. 

Yet when you focus on balance, things flow better. You thrive. 

Go with the flow. Stop pushing.

A Ball of Stress

This week I was coaching an acquaintance who said she had not taken a vacation in several years, and was working all the time.

When I said, “How’s that working out for you?” she said, “I’m about to explode. I don’t know how much longer I can take it, but if I let go, things will fall apart.”

I asked her … “Have you ever flown a kite?” If you pull the string too much and too often, the kite dives and crashes. If you hold it too loosely, it loses control. The key to kite flying is perfect balance. It turns out that is the key to everything, including work.

I then told her about my billionaire friend who takes 26 weeks a year to spend on his yacht. He once told me he became a billionaire because he took time off for thinking and relaxing. During that time he does not check e-mail, does not take business calls, and even stays off social media. He said his company creates such high pressure that if he did it all day every day, he would explode. 

Though it’s counterintuitive, my ball-of-stress friend will find herself more productive if she takes more time off. 

Let Go

We have to be willing to let go and stay balanced.

Ever heard “Less is more”? How about  “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast”?

“When you try to stay on the surface of the water, you sink. When you try to sink, you float.” — Aldous Huxley

Ease over struggle.

Huxley also said, “In all activities in life, the secret of efficiency lies in an ability to combine two seemingly incompatible states: a state of maximum activity and a state of maximum relaxation.”

Have you heard of people working themselves to death? Have you encountered people who worked so hard that their health suffered? Things go better with balance.

Pushing Too Hard

For years I pushed to get a project accomplished, but doors kept slamming in my face. I decided to let go and see what comes to me. No effort isn’t the answer, but expecting a result but not pushing for it constantly might be the right middle ground. I assume the right answer will flow into my arms soon.

Hot Driving

Years ago, a friend borrowed my Porsche for a weekend. It broke down. When it was towed to my mechanic, he said, “Your friend must have driven this car for over two hours at over 100 mph. The engine isn’t built for that. It destroyed the engine.” 

It cost me thousands to repair. 

How would your life be if you stopped pushing so hard? 

How would your relationships improve if you stopped pushing so hard because you care so much?

What if letting up made you more effective?

Take your foot off the gas once in a while and let your momentum take over. When doors keep closing on you, take the hint and stop trying to force things to happen. 

Pressure and hard driving isn’t always the answer.

Eric Rhoads

PS: A golf pro once told me I was swinging too hard. I used to line up to the ball and hit it as hard as I could. “Lighten up. Don’t hit so hard, just align the club with the ball.” Suddenly, without the force, and with ease,  I made my best drive ever.

I’ve banged my head against the wall far too many times. When learning to paint, I put myself under tremendous pressure, working really hard. But I was not getting better. When I finally stopped caring so much, things improved. 

Speaking of painting….

I do this event in May every year where we gather artists together to learn and paint. I take over a giant hotel or conference center, set up five stages, and this year I have over 70 top artists as my instructors and coaches. It’s great for beginners or experienced pros. And we all paint together every afternoon. This year, we’re holding it right outside of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you want to attend the Plein Air Convention, this would be the year. See you there … or not. I’m not gonna push.

When Pushing Backfires2024-05-01T19:29:50-04:00