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The Secret to Getting Things Done

P.S. It’s almost like magic when you make up your mind to learn something. Years ago, my dad wanted to learn about a certain type of investing, so he found the world’s leading expert, befriended him, and invited him to visit him at the lake. They cooked something up, and the guy moved in for the summer and they worked together every day for three months. Within three months, my dad was also one of the leading experts in that topic. 

That concept led me to the idea of teaching people to paint with the world’s leading experts. At my Adirondack event, two people painted well right out of the box, though they had never done it before. I learned that in both cases, they had watched a lot of my videos over and over. Though they were not learning in person, video can have the same impact. That’s why I’m so driven to capture the biggest names: so the world can have their minds forever and they can train more people than they ever could in person. 

If you want to learn anything, make up your mind, devote the time, and you’ll master it. 

The other way we’re doing this is by creating online events. These events are immersive, and the magic of immersion is that you can ramp up fast by devoting a concentrated amount of time. 

For instance, if you decided you wanted to learn pastel, you could set aside four eight-hour days for instruction from a top master, and focus on pastel all day. At the end of those four days, you could have a clear understanding of the concepts, because of the time and repetition. Will you be a master after four days? Nope. That takes decades. But you’ll have ramped up fast and you’ll understand the core principles, and then you just need to practice. Then, a year later, if you do it again, you’ll be way ahead, and you’ll understand concepts you did not understand before.

We do four events a year. Each is four days, and each is designed to immerse you to help you learn fast. Thousands of people have learned to paint for the first time when they did not believe they could, and thousands of others have elevated themselves by devoting four days a year, and, in some cases, four days several times a year. 

The other thing I find fascinating is that I learn faster when I’m forced out of my routine and comfort zone. For instance, I’ve been an oil painter most of my painting life, and I had no desire to learn other mediums like pastel or watercolor, because I still have not mastered oil, which is a lifetime of work. Yet when I started these online conferences, I felt the need to practice what I preach, so I studied at Watercolor Live and Pastel Live, and in both cases, it had a positive effect.

Not only was I learning something new, which was invigorating, my brain was constantly asking, “How can I apply this technique to oils?” The result was that I was reinvigorated, and I learned new things I could apply to other things. And the best part is that I discovered that I now want to do different mediums when I’m in different moods and want different effects. 

My next four-day event is Pastel Live, which is coming up this August. It features master pastel painters, each of whom do things differently, and who paint in different styles. It’s phenomenal to see the outcomes people get from attending. It’s a great entry into art for those of you who want to learn for the first time. And a great way to capture a lot of information from great artists and put it in your brain. 

I’ll be hosting and hope to see you there.

Eric Rhoads

PS: Never in my life have I seen so much strife, so much conflict, so much polarization over the state of our country. You cannot solve it on the 4th of July, but you can destroy relationships by trying to change the minds of those around you. Before you open your mouth with a beer-induced disagreement, remember, these are people we love, who we want with us again next year. Keep it civilized. Have some fun. Change the world on a different day and celebrate the freedom we still have.

PS 2: Do you remember that feeling you got as a kid when you were lying on the floor coloring, feeling about as happy as you could?

Do you remember someone admiring your work and putting it up on the fridge for all to see?

I loved that feeling, but lost it somewhere along the way. But it was rekindled when I was about 40, with my first art lessons. Even though I had moments of frustration because my hand could not do what my brain had in mind, I still was in a state of joy making art.

One of the reasons I do what I do is because I love seeing people light up when they realize they can create art, even after they have told themselves they don’t have the talent required.

One of the best and easiest ways to learn art is to start with pastels, which you use kinda like crayons … pick a color and lay it down on the paper. It’s a great medium for newbies, and it’s something you can do your whole life. Pastel gives you a lot of flexibility, some brilliant, intense color (more intense than any other kind of painting), and you don’t have to learn about brushes, oils, and cleaners. It’s as simple as stick-to-hand-to-paper. (I’ve posted a couple of pastel paintings I love below.)

You may have heard me say I can teach anyone to paint. It’s true. Even those who don’t believe it themselves. Because painting is a process, not requiring talent. (Talent comes later, when you want to get to the highest levels, and talent is really just lots of experience and time painting.)

Take some time for yourself this August to attend Pastel Live online. You’ll never regret it. And take our Essential Techniques Day first. Pastel Live is four total days of top artists teaching techniques in different styles and approaches to pastel. And it is not much more than a dinner out with friends. But unlike that dinner, this will provide you with joy for a lifetime. In fact, if you attend and don’t feel you got your money’s worth after the first day, let us know and we will refund 100% of your money.

I encourage you to sign up now. Pastel Live, August 17-19, Essential Techniques Day August 16. Save up to $600 here.

By |2023-07-08T19:26:55-04:00July 9th, 2023|Weekly Sunday Coffee|6 Comments

Passing Out Gold

Have you ever been somewhere so quiet, you can hear only a slight ring in your ears? As I walked through our old lake house, it was so quiet, my steps were amplified across the wooden floor. When the door slammed behind me as I entered the old octagonal screened porch (built in 1894), the slam startled me because there was no other noise. No water lapping, no boat sounds, no birds tweeting or loons looning. It truly is the sound of silence as the lake is enveloped in fog, so thick I can’t see more than darkness across to the other shore. It’s just me, alone with my thoughts.

A Caring Artist

Last week after one of my daily shows, I was talking to artist Gabriel Stockton about a problem that needed to be solved with an obstinate person who was being difficult. He said, “I just speak light, and I look for gold in every person. I speak love, and beauty.” He then told me that his goal is to do this with his children. “Imagine how much confidence they will get if we stop speaking about their flaws and start speaking about the gold in them.”

I immediately flashed back to a seminar exercise from some years ago: “Reach out to three people every day and tell them something nice about themselves. Then sit back and see what happens.”

You already know what happens. People love to hear how much they are appreciated, how good they are. And, if you do it enough, they want to live up to it. 

The Other Side of the Coin

The opposite is also true. If you’re always pointing out people’s flaws, they don’t feel good about themselves. And, if it seems to be the only way to get attention, will they act out by doing bad, instead of good? 

Yes, But…

Naysayers may argue that people need correction, they need to know where they stand. I don’t disagree, but what if you wrap it in gold? Years ago I was taught to find something wonderful about a person to start that conversation. Then deal with any issues, and then find other things to make them feel good about themselves. I guess you could call it a gold sandwich (with poop in the middle).

A Good Listener

Years ago I met a man who became one of my oldest and dearest friends. I would sit in his office and talk with him for a couple of hours, and I’d leave feeling really great about myself. It took me a while to realize that he rarely talked. He was truly interested in me, and he only spoke to ask more questions. “What a great conversation,” I’d tell myself, when in reality, it was me doing all the talking.

It’s All About Me

Someone I know pointed out that at cocktail parties, no one ever asks about her — all people want to do is talk about themselves. My response: If you want to have great conversations, ask people questions about themselves, and they will like you more. But you won’t get to talk about yourself much. (Though we all love it when someone is truly interested.)

This is about speaking gold. 

How much gold are you speaking? 

Are you dominating conversations, or are you truly interested in others?

Are you interrupting people, stepping on their words so you can insert your thoughts, or are you listening with intent to hear and understand?

Are you helping people get the recognition they think they deserve, or are you looking for ways to make yourself feel better by tearing them down?

How would your life change if you focused on speaking gold to everyone in your life … family, kids, grandkids, friends, co-workers?

I’m not suggesting being insincere or being the person who tells people what they want to hear to get something out of them (we all experience that). But being someone truly interested.

A friend on the lake complimented my son Berkeley last week, saying, “He listens with his kind eyes. He truly is interested.” 

Will you try it for a week? 

My guess is that everyone will feel better about themselves, feel better about you, and you’ll get more bees with sincere honey than insincere lemons. And imagine how others will be lifted up with your intent to speak gold.

Eric Rhoads

PS: As we age, we develop, we grow and learn, and hopefully become better humans over time. Life is a series of micro-corrections, and one goal is to get better at speaking gold.

What about you?

Twenty-five years ago I did a speech about 25 things to be more successful. Out of the blue this week, someone I do not know contacted me and told me she had my list of 25 things from that speech posted on her wall, that she read it frequently, and that it helped her change her life. She contacted me because she recently moved and misplaced my list. She asked me to send it to her again because it was so helpful to her. I scoured my hard drives and e-mails with no success. So I told her that not only did I not know where to find it, I probably have changed so much that I’d have a different list of things today. This of course got me thinking about what those 25 things might be. I’m still thinking about it.

One thing I would say today is that success cannot be defined by anyone other than you. We spend too much time focused on the success others tell us we should chase. At one time I may have defined success by the things I had accumulated. Once I accumulated many of those things, and I realized they did not make me happy. 

One thing that makes me very happy, and that would be in my top 25 today, would be that there is real gold in focusing your life on helping others. It’s pretty hard to feel pity for yourself when you are spending your life making the lives of others better. 

The other thing I’d add to my list would be the incredible satisfaction you get when you are stretching your brain. They say most billionaires read two books a week. Once I became obsessed with learning, I became more interested in myself (and hopefully others), less bored, and more invigorated. For instance, I’m obsessed with growth as a painter. Getting good isn’t enough; getting to higher levels is gold to me. And learning things I’d known nothing about has brought me great joy.

For instance, because of the pandemic, we launched online conferences in watercolor, pastel, and some other subjects. I primarily paint in oils, but because I was the host, I attended these events, and because I felt obligated to make sure I was practicing what I preach, I discovered how much I love watercolors and pastels, how much they have made me better even in my oil painting, and how I now feel more confident because I can do more than just one thing. 

Tomorrow, I’ll leave the Adirondacks, return to our soundstage in Austin, and on Wednesday I’ll begin hosting the Beginner/Refresher day of our Pastel Live online event for hundreds of people —  bigger than ever.

If you want to get out of your comfort zone and learn to paint, or try something new, pastel is the perfect place to start because it’s like crayons for adults, only with professional materials. I have engaged the very top pastel artists in the world to teach, and we have attendees and faculty from several countries.

But tonight at midnight is the last chance to capture the current price. After midnight it goes up substantially. Sign up. You’ll not regret it, and if you do regret it, just ask by the end of day one and I’ll refund your money. 

Also, I had three last-minute cancellations for New Zealand, and I just filled two of them. I can fit a couple more people in for this trip of a lifetime. If you already have a passport, we still have time to get flights. Simply go to

By |2022-08-13T14:12:38-04:00August 14th, 2022|Weekly Sunday Coffee|23 Comments

Getting Small?

The scent is heavenly. I breathe deeply and take in the perfume of spring. After a couple of days of light rain, the roadsides and fields are filled with blue and orange wildflowers. My own property is filled with little white flowers and spring greens. Bees are buzzing with delight, preparing the sweetest honey you can find. Spring is so welcome after a tough winter. 

Speaking of inhaling, on Saturday Night Live back in the ‘70s comedian Steve Martin used to say “Let’s get small,” which was code for getting high. We all snickered.


During the early coverage of the travesty in Ukraine, I felt small and helpless. Though giving money was an option, I felt like money alone was not enough. But I could not think of anything else I could do to make a difference. And the things I did think of required someone with more connections, more money and clout than I had on my own. 

Unfortunately, I was thinking, “I’m too small to make a difference.”

Do you ever think too small? 

I’m too small to take on this project.

I’m too small to make big things happen.

I’m too small, so important people don’t care what I have to say.

Our culture tends to idolize people who are big … big CEOs, celebrities, sports figures, pundits, musicians, actors, etc. When they speak or issue a press release, everyone pays attention. 

Therefore we assume that big things are left for them to do.

As I was pondering what I could do as someone who was small, I started thinking big. “What if I could write a song and call attention to Ukraine?” I asked myself. 

The battle inside my mind was ugly. 

One side of my brain was telling me all the reasons it would fail. The other side was offering me possibilities. I had to make a split-second decision. Would I be small, or would I think big?

The outcome was a song title, “Tears for Ukraine,” and some lyrics. But what do I do next?

I sent it to one of the few recording artists I know personally, someone who is known regionally but may not be a national name.

“See if you can do anything with this,” I said. “Maybe we can help a lot of people by keeping this at the top of everyone’s mind.”

Of course I’ve spoken of this before, but so much has happened since. Within 24 hours Bill Craig and a friend, Mark Jacobson, revised my lyrics, recorded a scratch track to see if I liked the direction of the song, and then recorded a full studio recording with the group Elsie Binx. (You can hear it here.)

That was about three weeks ago. For two weeks, it was the number one download by radio stations for most of that time. And it started receiving airplay on radio stations across the U.S. 

That was cool. Nothing like this has ever happened to me. But what more could we do with it?People Who Know People

So I reached out to some people who knew people who knew people. “Let’s re-record it, like ‘We Are the World,’ and get a bunch of stars together to do it.” Keep in mind, I don’t roll in those circles. The next thing I know, it’s catching on. One big star started reaching out to other stars. And, as of today, there is a big possibility this will happen and be recorded by a bunch of big artists.

Going Latino Too

Then I thought we should record a Spanish version for the Latino audience, and one introduction led to another, and we have been in dialogue with a major Latino star. A discussion began about getting a bunch of top Hispanic stars to record it together. 

I don’t know what will happen, but the progress made has been much more than if I had told myself to stay small and not think big.

Big Stars

I’ve been watching two documentaries this weekend, one on David Geffen, the billionaire media mogul, and one on Frank Sinatra. I learned a lot from both, but the one thing that we don’t think about is that they too were small, unknown, and went for years without any success. But because of their hard work and tenacity, and thinking big, they became giants.

A Choice

In the two documentaries, each of the men had a moment where they had to make a choice. Be small or think big. Both thought big, and pursued their idea with all of their might. It changed their lives and careers forever. And when they got to one level, they kept thinking bigger, which resulted in getting to another level.

No one who ever got big had it happen by accident. In fact, the bigger you think, the bigger your results will be. I’m picturing supplies and help going to tens of thousands of people who need help, because of this song. (We made a pact not to personally accept ANY money on this project.)

The Battle in My Brain

My small-thinking, negative brain told me, “You’re not a songwriter. Why are you wasting time on this?” It told me I was not qualified, it told me that I needed to stick to what I know, it told me I was too old, it told me people would mock me. But my positive brain said, “Go for it, take action now, see what happens.” 

The Movie That Never Was

When I was a teen I always wanted to be a film actor, but I never pursued it. One day about 15 years ago I was browsing Craigslist and saw tryouts for a student film. I told my wife I was going to go and try out. She suggested there were probably better things I could do with my time. Upon arriving, with a line of people around the block, all trying out for three parts, I started to think I was a bit out of touch myself.

Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You

When I arrived at the desk, a lady handed me a script and said, “Memorize these parts, and come up when we call your name.” Here I am competing with a couple of hundred professional actors who know how to do auditions. Suddenly my name is called. I read the lines in front of the producer, director, and all the other actors staring at me like, “What’s this guy doing here?”

“Thanks, we’ll call you if there is interest. Next?”

Impossible. How Could This Be?

Just as I’m getting ready to leave, a lady taps me on the shoulder. “We need you to read for a different part. It will just take a minute.” I read the lines, and they took me aside and said, “You’ve got one of the three parts.” A week later, I was filming a short film for three nights, all night. 

As I mentioned, it was a student film, but it was being supported by a major director trying to help serious film students, and it was he who insisted they give me the part. The film never got released, but I learned a lot about myself and about acting. And I learned that you can’t listen to your negative brain, no matter what you’re up against.

I love to read biographies about exceptional people with exceptional lives, and they always talk about the negative brain and how it almost kept them from success. These are not people with special advantages. They all started small, and had struggles, but they thought big to pull themselves to the next level.

Are you getting small or are you thinking big?

The bigger you think, the more unrealistic it all seems, yet big dreams conquer worlds. What world will you conquer? How will you change the world?

We all have negative thoughts and doubts. Push them aside and start thinking big. 

“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7

Eric Rhoads

PS: I’m thrilled to hear stories of families and friends getting together for Easter for the first time in two years. I hope this is a special Easter filled with love and hope. And though bunnies and eggs and chocolate are part of the way we celebrate, especially with kids, it is the resurrection of Christ that is celebrated on this day. 

Here’s what’s happening in Eric’s world these days…

No Restrictions for the Plein Air Convention

We received great news this week. The state of New Mexico and our hotel, Buffalo Thunder, are no longer restricting attendance at the Plein Air Convention & Expo and no longer requiring masking or distancing. We had been told to limit to 50 percent attendance, but now we can return to normal. Though it’s only a month away, you still have time to grab a ticket and a room. We intend to celebrate especially well this time as we get the family of painters together for the first time in over two years. You can register at

Painting Together in Mid-June

I’ve got about 30 seats left for my Adirondack painting event this June. It’s a week of painting with old and new friends, for beginners or experienced pros. No workshops, just painting the stunning 6 million preserved acres of the Adirondack Park in Upstate New York. You can learn more at

Join Me in New Zealand

I’m taking 50 people to New Zealand in September to paint and tour. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So far 20 seats are sold. Visit

Bold Colors

My fall retreat in Maine is starting to fill up. We can accommodate just 100 people. We will paint in Acadia National Park and in the entire Bar Harbor area. Our lobster dinner is legendary!

Learn more at

By |2022-04-15T15:49:21-04:00April 17th, 2022|Uncategorized|22 Comments

How, Exactly, Do You See Yourself?

Tiny little bright green buds are peeking their heads out on the bare branches of the giant trees around me, trying to find out if it’s safe to come out for an early spring — mild temperatures are signaling the beginning of spring here in Texas. The old screen door makes a creaky sound amplified by rusty springs, the door slams behind me, and I’m finally back on the long porch that goes the distance of this old Texas farmhouse. Sadly, my neighbor moved and took his cattle, but the view is pretty terrific just the same. 

Spring in the Air

Growing up in the Midwest with cold, snowy winters, spring was always a welcome sight. Spring fever would have us out without coats on a sunny day, even though it was still 30 degrees. We simply could not wait for the arrival of spring. And, like the feeling of a first love, spring is about seeing things through fresh eyes and having something new to look forward to. And about the time we get used to it, we’re looking forward to summer, then fall, and even winter. We’re a fickle bunch, we humans.

When we lived in Florida, we could still get a sense of the seasons because some months were hotter or cooler or rainier, but for the most part we missed the seasons, and would often try to visit other places where we could experience them more deeply.

Seasons of Life

I’m amazed at the perfection of life as it compares to seasons, though we really never know if we’re going to be one of the trees that turns red early or one that stays more colorful while the other trees are bare. Each season is a blessing, and, like the seasons of nature, we need to look forward to and embrace each season of our lives, because each brings new experiences worth embracing. And just like the mud in spring thaw or early swarms of summer mosquitoes, there are parts of a season that may not be to our liking, but challenges always come with the good.

I once met a doctor at a cocktail party who specializes in severe, life-altering diseases. I’ve never forgotten what he told me. “The minute I tell a patient of their cancer, I can pretty much tell if they have a chance of survival by how they react. Though no one ever welcomes the news, if they are challenged and tell themselves they intend to beat it, they have a chance. But the ones who absorb it and look at it as if life is over — they rarely survive.” He told me people who changed their attitude after a few days of processing the bad news usually made it through.

How Do YOU See You?

From time to time someone will ask me for advice about life or business or success, and I always start the discussion with the critical importance of what we place in our minds. Science even supports it. How we see ourselves impacts how our life turns out. If we blame others, if things are always someone else’s fault, things never seem to go as well. If, however, we accept responsibility for how things go, and we align our attitude to our desires, they’ll go much better.

How you see yourself matters most. Experts tell me you need to actually see yourself in the exact role you want to be in. Instead of “I’m gonna” it should be “I am.” After a lifetime of daydreaming, the things I dreamed came true. The things I was a little unsure about did not.

Labels and Boxes

Our society hands us labels and boxes. Earlier today I read a story where the headline said “Elderly Woman” …  and when I read the story, the woman was 50. Clearly the story was written by someone very young. I for one look back on 50 and remember how young I was. And I don’t look at myself as old. In fact, I scold friends who use those terms because I believe they trigger something in your head to make your life start to wind down.

My dad, who turned 94 on Inauguration Day, sometimes scolds me for mentioning his age because to him, age is not relevant. I can remember that when he turned 70, I thought he was old, and silly for starting a new business when everyone else was retired. But alas, when I called him for his birthday, he was talking about yet another business he was going to work on for the next 20-plus years. And, mark my words, he will do it. By the way, he started something new about 10 years ago, works 15-hour days, and it’s thriving. 

Good Genes?

You may say he is lucky to have good genes, but I guess that doesn’t explain other family members with the same or similar genes who checked out early. Maybe luck plays a role, but I suspect it’s the brain that makes that luck happen. A friend told us at 55 that he was preparing for death and winding down because he was getting old. My prediction that he would be dead in five years came true. 

I’ve mentioned this before, but my acquaintance John Kluge, who was at one time the richest man in the world, told me he did not really start making his success till he was over 70. “My friends all gave up and retired. I kept pitching and became a billionaire.”

A Year to Live

Clearly there are circumstances beyond our control. There can be bad luck, but how you play the cards you are dealt matters. My friend Glen tells me his wife was given a year to live and he was determined to help her beat that, so he quit his job, became a student of healing, and she is alive and healthy 16 years later. He refused to accept the status quo. He refused to accept what they were told. He sought and found alternatives.

You can be young and in spring and tell yourself you’re too old to do something, or you can be in winter and tell yourself you’ve got decades left. And, if you manage your thinking, accentuate the positives and eliminate the negatives, you can make it happen.

Remember, whatever you think … you’re right.

Where is your head?

What lies are you buying that don’t have to be true?

What are you telling yourself is about to happen?

What are you telling yourself that will happen?

If we were taught how to push out the negatives, focus on the positives, and see ourselves in the places we want to be, our world would be a different place.

You and I can’t change the minds of others, we can only change our own minds. And perhaps, when others see what’s possible, they too will change. 

It starts with you.

Eric Rhoads

PS: Next week is a big one! We are conducting the world’s largest art conference, called Watercolor Live. Join us, it’s a lot of fun. We have over 38 countries attending and at this point almost 1,700 people. We even have a Beginner’s Day. Check it out at (Price increase is tonight at midnight. You can save $300.)
By |2021-01-22T16:00:02-05:00January 24th, 2021|Weekly Sunday Coffee|35 Comments

The Opposite of Dread

Fog covers the windows as I glance out at the porch. Condensation from the frigid air conditioning trying to keep up against oppressive heat has replaced the fog and cool mornings on the Adirondack lake.

Slamming my face as I walk out to the porch, the heat is like the blast of getting too close to a pizza oven, bearable for only a brief moment before my roasting occurs. Yet I make my way to the wicker couch to look out over the vast rough weeds, now brown as toast, and the twisting cedar trees, which thrive on the heat.

Briefly, I can feel the heat against my bare legs as I sit on the red cushions. It’s soothing in a way, like a heating pad on my sore muscles from being cramped inside an airplane.

A Fresh Start

Being back in Austin is comforting because it’s home, yet I always pine for my lakefront summers and wish they would never end. “Be careful what you wish for,” people would say, and today, the return home is followed by a week of driving our triplets off to three different colleges to plug them into a new life on campus, and the start of their independence from their caregivers. This is, after all, the week we’ve dreaded for 18 years, first seeming like it would never come, and then seeing it speed by too fast. 

Dread is a strong word. I’ve dreaded the empty house, the lack of chaos, the activities, the friends in and out, the birthday parties (how can we deal with birthdays at three colleges in three cities this February?), and the laugher, the lessons, the hurts, and the challenges of parenting.

The Goodness

Yet looking forward is the opposite of dread. Knowing I won’t have to wake up at 6 a.m. to make breakfast, won’t have to wait up for 11 p.m. curfews, won’t be needing to put up with as much testosterone-driven drama, and won’t have to find someone to take care of the kids if we want to slip away on an impromptu trip. 

Though I’m predicting tears, I’m also predicting celebration that we’ve accomplished our goal of raising three very fine humans and hopefully given them enough lessons to ground them for the rest of their lives. 

Looking back, I realize I’ve wasted far too much energy on dreading things in my future when I should have found a way to look forward to them, or at least be prepared to process them.

Dreading Death

As a child, and through much of my life, I dreaded the moment I’d lose my parents. I was always afraid I would lose my mom or my dad. It started when I was a child, then into my teens, young adulthood, and now even into the beginnings of my years of wisdom. (I don’t use the words “getting old” because I refuse to train my subconscious mind to respond.) I knew it would devastate me. Yet when my mom passed, it was enormously painful, but I was not disabled by my grief. Maybe it is because we had some time knowing her heart disease would eventually take her, or maybe because she lived to 93 and was not cheated out of life early, and did not suffer through years of treatments or the pain so many experience. And of course my belief in Heaven. My outlook allowed me to step back, look at the experience, and separate myself from my grief. Maybe being stoic, or toughing it out, was my way of dealing with it.

I can remember asking my dad about this years ago, when his mother or father passed, and seeing that he did not appear disabled with grief. And I can recall him telling me he had deep grief, but he was not going to let it destroy him. It’s when I realized we can have command over our emotions if we prepare ourselves.

Controlled Chaos

And, though I was deeply emotional when Brady, my son, had his heart attack last January 20, I remember thinking that I could not let that fear destroy my ability to think and make decisions, because I needed to be composed enough to help the family get through such a difficult patch. Maybe I was stoic, appearing unemotional, though I cried as well. Yet once I looked at myself, I was able to flick a switch to get through it without being disabled emotionally.

Maybe a therapist would tell me I was in denial or I was not in touch with my emotions, but I would say I was very much in touch with them and chose to not allow them to prevent me from making adult decisions. And though I was clearly under a dark cloud, I did not allow the rain.

What do you dread? 
How will you choose to deal with that dread?

I’ve had a lot of time to process what’s about to happen, and I would not miss it for the world. Passing the baton to our kids, giving them a new education and independence, is something I cherish. Though we will be sad with their absence, and will miss their being with us in person, they are a text away and in good hands. We have to turn this over to God because we can no longer control their every move.

Train the Brain

Though our minds control our physiology, we control our minds by training ourselves to look at things through a different lens and, when possible, reprocessing our thoughts to work for us rather than against us. Now the key, at least for me, is to ask myself WHY I dread something, and is there a way I can instead find a way to filter things to look forward to them?

My friend Stewart Slocknick did this with the news of his terminal cancer. Though he dreaded the idea of treatments, he told me he looked forward to getting beyond them and did not want to delay. He taught me how one dies with dignity and hope.

We cannot get back the hours we’ve lost to fretting, worry, and dread. All we can do is make adjustments to our filters for future events. It takes some getting used to, but now that I understand it, it sure makes tough patches a lot easier.

Fear not.
Dread not.

Eric Rhoads

PS: This week on my noon ET daily “broadcast” on YouTube and Facebook, I got into a discussion with an artist about the idea of natural talent versus learned skill. Our conclusion was that natural talent is more a result of tenacity and perseverance (working harder) than others, which makes us accomplish difficult tasks earlier than most, which is then perceived as natural talent. 

I find it fascinating that we think brain surgeons, lawyers, professionals of all kinds, need years of training — yet for some reason, we think artists are born with talent. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

If you happen to be one of those people who has stared at a painting or a drawing and always told yourself that you don’t have it in you, you’re telling yourself a lie. You have it in you, but you have to develop it and put in the time and instruction to bring it out. Painting as a hobby will bring a lifetime of joy and loads of emotional benefits. All you need to do is take action and apply yourself, just as you do in every other area of your life where you gain traction.

I’ve got a rare opportunity, worth taking some time off for … or at least allocating time to watch replays nights or weekends. It’s called Realism Live, and I’ve been gathering the top, cream-of-the-crop artists to teach for four days online. Plus there is a day for beginners with absolutely no knowledge or skill where we’ll hold your hand and teach you enough that you’ll feel like you made enough progress to continue your journey.

I can’t make you take action. Only you can do that. But I can point out that your mind is playing tricks on you if you think you can’t draw a stick figure. It’s true, you can’t — until we show you how. And keep showing you simple exercises to make the impossible possible to you.

You can come up with more excuses, but when are you going to have a chance like this? Plus you’ll be part of a community, you’ll have support and encouragement, and we’ll expose you to concepts that will change your life forever … because you’ll be taking the first steps to being an artist. Don’t tell yourself it’s not possible. Instead, be curious, and tell yourself it’s worth a try. You have nothing to lose … especially because if you attend Realism Live and, after the end of day one, you don’t think it brings you enough value, let us know. We’ll refund your money and disconnect you from the rest of the event. 

I encourage you to take this rare opportunity to join the world for this first online realism conference. Realism … teaching you how to paint real subjects (not abstract) like landscapes, people, faces, still life, flowers, and more. 

Sign up for only the Beginner’s Day for just $97, or the whole week for a little more. It’s still cheaper than getting on an airplane, buying a ticket to an event, and spending on meals and hotels. 

Early bird savings of $100 expires August 30. The price then increases $100 more. Sign up today at

By |2020-08-11T13:48:11-04:00August 16th, 2020|Weekly Sunday Coffee|16 Comments

A Tale of Two Mindsets

Quiet things seem loud in the early morning as everyone sleeps. The creaking of the door as it opens, the slam of the screen door as it closes. Yet I make my way to my special spot in the corner of the old porch on the back of my Texas ranch house.

My neighbors’ cows are scratching their backs on the fence this morning, their tan and brown coats shimmering from the early sun and their long horns catching the light.

The heat is more intense than a sauna, which I suppose is good training for my upcoming trip to Africa. But it will be spring there, so it may not be this hot.

About last week: When Sunday Coffee failed to appear in your mailbox, some of you wrote, wondering where it was. First, all is well, nothing is wrong. I just needed a break. I had flown to Florida and spent the entire week in the long meetings where we plan our year, work on our budgets, and try to dream up new ways to help people discover and live their dreams.

When I travel, I try to make the most of each day so I don’t sit idle in my hotel room (have no fear, I always have paints if I need them). So one night I had a meeting I needed to do in person, one night I visited my 92-year-old mom and my brother, and one night I met with two dear old friends.

Mom’s Cooking

Mom’s dinner was the highlight for a couple of reasons, the first being I just don’t get to see her enough and it’s a red letter day when I do. I am so pleased she is able to live on her own, in her own home. Though I offered to take her and my brother to dinner, she insisted on making it. There is no cooking like Mom’s cooking, and it’s a chance to eat old comfort foods I rarely eat anymore, and a chance to catch up. I thought she was doing great. And it was the first time in years I’ve been with my mom around my birthday, so this was even more special, since it was on the eve of that event.

A Working Birthday

The next morning, on my birthday, my team, which I am so honored and proud to have, had balloons and vegan cupcakes waiting. Of course they then treated me to another day of meetings, and then I drove a couple of hours to a distant airport, boarded a flight, and arrived home about 11 that night.

Forgiveness, Please

I have to admit that hardly anything ever takes the wind out of my sails, but during the week I had not slept well, had picked up a touch of a stomach virus, and I arrived home feeling exhausted — and I awoke exhausted the next day, when I had a schedule full of appointments, and a list of important chores and family things to get done for the weekend. And so on Sunday morning, when I normally awaken early for the quiet and to write, I slept and slept, waking late, just in time to rush to get to church. So please forgive me for missing a Sunday.

From all of this, I picked up a few lessons, one of which is that you can power through something if you need to, no matter how bad you feel. Though I would not say my knife was the sharpest in the drawer during the last couple of days of meetings, when you get involved, you tend to forget about not feeling well.

Second, nothing new: If you don’t sleep well, everything gets out of whack fast. Though we all try hard, sometimes we can’t control what is spinning in our minds or causing us not to sleep.

Grumpy and Out of Character

Third, attitude is everything. It holds us together. I noticed the worse I felt, the worse my attitude became, and I got grumpy and even had a brief moment of poor judgment and lashed out at my team during a meeting over something minor. I later apologized, but I know that you can put a lot of chips in an emotional bank account, and one moment of negativity can wipe out your account with others.

I try to be a great boss (I hate that word) and treat my team with respect, but when a leader fails to lead and becomes a dictator, a team suddenly stops being a team and instead becomes a bunch of people in a job they want to leave. I try to avoid going there, ever. But I’m human, though I should have taken a deep breath instead and not said a word.

An Abusive Boss

I suppose if there was a silver lining to acting that way, is that it got attention because it was so unusual from me. I’ve worked in the past for bosses who yelled all the time, scolded all the time, and after a while it all blends together. It doesn’t stand out as anything different, so their message gets ignored. I once worked for an abusive boss who also threw things — which is how you knew he was really mad. The yelling was so normal that you just assumed he was an unhappy guy whose only way of dealing with things was yelling. Eventually his wife left him because he physically abused her. Sad.

A Reunion of Old Friends

After my first day of meetings, I had the pleasure of meeting with two men I’ve known for probably 30 or more years. One used to work for me, and we’ve remained good friends since he left to start his own business. The other, who used to be a competitor, is someone I always liked. I see the one on occasion at radio industry events, and the other I have not seen in 20 years, so it was a special but alarming treat. Both men are exactly the same age, 71.

A Physical Change

Though I had seen photos on Facebook, when I arrived I was shocked to see one old friend as an old man. When I last saw him, he was vibrant and full of life. Sadly, he looked like death warmed over. He was moving slowly, he kept forgetting things mid-sentence, and though his old personality shone through, his language was defeatist and negative. He had been in the hospital two weeks before, in a coma for two days, almost died, and was talking as if these were his final days. Though we had a great time talking about old times, I was sad and disturbed to see my friend deteriorating.

The Polar Opposite

When the other friend arrived, he was exactly as I remembered him from 20 years before. He had a sparkle in his eye, a big smile on his face, and a spring in his step. He was upbeat, fun to be around, and looked 50 — he was all positive. He talked about all the things he was doing, all the people he was seeing, about some of the projects he was doing to bring in income, and what he was thinking of doing next.

Keep in mind that both of these men used to be the most fun, upbeat, happy-to-be-around people, always filled with jokes, laughter, and with the momentum of a freight train. People wanted to be around them, which is why both had such successful careers.

Yet at this dinner, one was beaten down and running out of life, while the other was upbeat and full of life.

Why Were These Men So Different?

One of the reasons I could not sleep that night is because I was so disturbed by my time with them. Why is it that one was thriving and the other was dying? The thought of losing an old friend was daunting. What could I do to help? What was the difference between the two, who had started out the same, yet one ended up beaten and bruised.

It’s Not About What Happens

It first crossed my mind that life had just beaten one of them down. His business had failed 15 years ago because the market changed, his wife had left him, and his grown child had ended up doing drugs and has spent a life in and out of rehab. This man had served his country in Vietnam, was dealing with PTSD issues that came up later in life, and was on lifetime disability, meaning he could not get a job and make money without losing the security of those benefits.

But as I started thinking about it, the other had also been beaten down. He lost his wife, the love of his life, just two years ago, and he lost his first wife 17 years before. Yet today he is upbeat, vibrant, and even dating a younger woman.

So why the difference?

First, I have to say we cannot always control our health or the things that happen to us. But we can control how we accept or perceive them, and we can take actions toward prevention with diet, attitude, and exercise.

Deep Emotional Dive

But over the years I could see the one friend fall into a deep emotional dive. He just never recovered after his wife left him. He was continually frustrated and beaten down with the problems with his child, and when his business died, he just decided to stop and live the rest of his life on his savings. When he received government disability and an inheritance, he could survive the rest of his life without work.

My perception is that he had no mission in life. He had a lot of time, but was not using it for a bigger purpose. Which may be what contributed to his downward spiral.

I’m not here to judge anyone. I don’t have that right, and we don’t know what someone has gone through until we have walked in their shoes. Nor do I know how I would react if I lost the love of my life and my kids turned to drugs. All I can do is love him, and if he asks, offer my thoughts or opinions.

My Advice, If Asked, Would Be…

If he did ask, I’d probably suggest that being alone with your thoughts all day isn’t a great idea, and that he needs to find a bigger purpose, perhaps volunteer work for some cause, to use the great skills he developed over his life. I’d also recommend something that gets him around people, where he can feel he is contributing to help others, and maybe even a hobby (can you guess which one I would recommend?) where he can do something that challenges him, and be in nature and around other people. Being in a cave is the worst thing you can do when you’re down and depressed.

Be On Guard

I can tell that when I’m not feeling well, my mind starts to go into a downward spiral, and it would be a lot easier to stay in bed. Yet I know if I don’t pull myself up, force myself into getting out there no matter what, I could easily slip into a funk that would get worse with each passing day. I know that when I skip yoga or going to the gym or even talking a walk, my brain stops functioning normally. I don’t feel as good, my outlook isn’t as good, and I start allowing negatives to creep into my life. If I’m not social, and if I have no mission or purpose, things worsen. If you wonder why I stay so busy, it’s because it keeps me healthy, happy, and engaged. We have to be on guard constantly so we don’t get pulled down.

What Is Your Story?

I’ve talked in the past about the stories we tell ourselves, and that sometimes we have to let go of a story and create a new story so the old story no longer controls us. You and I, and everyone we know, has a story, and has had some horrible things happen in their lives. Some absorb it and spiral down, while others get tired of repeating their old story and allowing it to hold them back.

Why Drive Matters

I turned 64 this week. Yet I still feel like I’m 15. I have more ideas than I can execute, and I’m committed to working and not retiring. In fact, I’ll be announcing a major project that will be the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my entire career, which should keep me busy for decades to come. I’m involved and engaged in the radio and art communities, where I love the people. I travel about 30-plus weeks a year and I’m always out doing something, whether it’s leading a paint group to Africa, which will happen next week, leading a paint group to Canada in early October (join us), leading a group of art collectors and artists on a behind-the-scenes art tour in Italy later in October, leading a convention of figurative artists in November, and meeting the leaders of the radio industry in an event the following week at the Harvard Club in New York.

The Battle in Your Brain

I’m not saying any of this to say, “Hey, look at me.” That’s not really in my DNA anymore, to be insecure and brag. I’m saying it because age is a battle with your mind. We’ve all been so conditioned that 65 is where we hang it up to relax and enjoy life that it’s a signal to some that the work life is over and the fun is just beginning. Yet I’ve always operated on the idea that it had all better be fun because you never know if you’ll even make it to 65. Sadly, I’ve had lots of friends along the way who passed far too young. What matters is that their lives were rich and full and fun during the time they had.

Watch Your Words

I’ve talked about this before, but seeing evidence in a side-by-side comparison has really made me take notice. Though some are blessed with good health and good genes, it’s the mindset that contributes to the outcome, and there are studies to support that. Therefore I’m constantly pushing things out of my head, telling myself it’s not like me to think that. And my prayers are often about pushing things out of my head that should not be there. I intentionally never refer to getting old, because I don’t believe I am. Yet I have friends who started saying they were getting old at 45 — and ended up dying young. Coincidence? Hard to really know. But words matter, and there are certain things I never say to myself, like “I’m getting old,” “I’m dying,” “This is killing me.”

So what about you?

It doesn’t matter your age. What stories are you telling yourself that give a message to your subconscious mind? The longer I live, the more I see evidence that the subconscious mind is responding to the messages we implant there.

Are the repetitive thoughts and stories you tell yourself hurting you or telling your body to shut down? Though some will read this, laugh, and say it’s utter nonsense, it’s what I believe to be true.

What, At My Age?

Recently when I was approached about this major project (sorry, you’ll need to wait a year to find out), the first thought that came to mind was, “Should I be starting something like this at my age?” As I caught myself, I pushed it out of my head and told myself, “Of course I should. I’ve never been more ready, my mind has never been sharper, and it’s the perfect time.”

Our brain’s subconscious mechanisms default to negatives to protect us. Our conscious mind is the only thing that can overcome these negative defaults.

You Choose What Wins

Will and attitude win. I’ve watched it over decades of my young life. You and I have a choice, no matter what our circumstances. If you choose life, choose to make the best of your current circumstances, no matter how dire they may seem. Choose to be an example of how to live, or even how to die.

You may find fault in this idea, and I honor you and your thoughts. This works for me. And one day someone may say, “It didn’t work for him after all.” But I’m not going to live a story that the government decides for me because they think 65 is when I should stop. You and I should not live the stories others set for us. We should live the stories we set for ourselves.

Don’t Accept Bad Advice

The choice is life or death, living or dying, thriving or existing, active or inactive. We don’t have to accept our circumstances; we can try like mad to change them. A year ago I was in agony, in so much pain I could barely stand. My doctor told me I needed to live with it and accept it. I went to a different doctor. I worked hard for a year experimenting with different solutions, and I’ve been pain-free for the past three or four months. Churchill said, “Never, ever, ever give up.” I say never, ever believe something just because someone else believes it.

Not Giving Power to the Wrong Thoughts

Today is a good day to have a chat with yourself about what you believe and how you want to change your story. I can tell you that if you repeat your new story enough, your old story will fade. Don’t give it power over you. You get to choose how you perceive your situation. You get to choose how you can change it or what you believe about it. You deserve the best. You still have time to change the world, to make an impact or impression on others, and to make the remaining days or years the best they can be. It lies within you. Wake it up.


Eric Rhoads

PS: You can interact with coffee in the comments section of (just scroll to the end of any post and join the conversation). That’s also where you can point others to sign up (or you can of course forward these to them). I’d love to hear your thoughts, and if you place them there, others can see them too. Or you can respond privately. I try to respond to every single e-mail.

By |2018-09-06T08:05:06-04:00September 9th, 2018|Weekly Sunday Coffee|53 Comments