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A Tale of Two Mindsets

2018-09-06T08:05:06+00:00

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 CoffeeWithEric.com (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.

52 Comments

  1. TRINA STEPHENSON September 9, 2018 at 7:43 am - Reply

    Your best reflection yet. I have always thought that thinking positive thoughts, doing rather than complaining, and having some purpose in your life, and some pleasant people and animals as companions in your life are the most important things.

  2. Wanda September 9, 2018 at 7:52 am - Reply

    Your comments are so ‘right on’ for me. I too, can hardly stand due to an ongoing back situation plus other things that suddenly appeared out of the blue to the body, but, I’m on the mend. I found I could handle pain if I went to the easel and focus not on myself, but anything else, particularly, painting, or sitting on the heat pads looking at everything ‘artish’ on my chair side table that often has book avalanches. I am looking forward to painting hours, to making a masterpiece and becoming busy again. Your message reinforces my determination. It is one that I will print and keep beside my easel to continue to encourage me daily. A recent book gave me power to go through a week of 2 procedures and a surgery that hit me blindsided: ‘Releasing Healing Within by Doctors Clark and Clark. It was based on scripture and removing things from your life that are blocking your healing and for me, painting. I will continue a good attitude, laughing at the things that did occur, even if it is a laugh on me for one thing I can’t do without is laughing, a strong medicine for me. A check on my attitude is how much did I laugh today!

  3. Kathy September 9, 2018 at 7:56 am - Reply

    I look forward to these Sunday Morning Coffee articles and this mornings hit home. Also 64, it is amazing to run into people and see how age and situations have controlled and directed our lives. At the end of July the company I worked for, without warning, terminated the New England Sales team by way of a conference call. I spent that day clearing up expenses, throwing out paper, and shipping back my computer. I sat on the deck the next morning with my coffee to map out my plan. Although I am looking for a new job, I also put into action plans to get my art career on track. With the help and guidance of a training program, I am now working on a series of paintings, I am more visual on social media, and now have 2 of my paintings in a type of gallery setting. I am looking at this time as my opportunity to move forward on the life/career I really want. And I am doing this as my friends keep telling me that it might be time for me to retire and enjoy the rest of my life. I intend to enjoy my life – working and doing what makes me happy! Thanks again for the great article.

  4. Gail Giancaspro September 9, 2018 at 7:57 am - Reply

    So glad you are feeling well again and doing “Coffee “ today. Missed it last week!!!

  5. Sharon Egan September 9, 2018 at 8:08 am - Reply

    Love this post, Eric! Ever read the book Old in Art School by Nell Painter? Published in June. The author, a former Princeton professor, goes to art school at age 64. Funny, inspirational and enlightening. If you need a book for a plane trip, this is it!

  6. Carol Burke September 9, 2018 at 8:21 am - Reply

    Interesting that my first “Coffee Talk” is about mindset. The universe is talking to me again! Just this past week I’ve made the decision it’s time for a change. I’ve been stuck in a rut and as a creative person, ruts are not my friend! Some call them routine and orderliness, I call it ruts and boredom! Thanks for the message. It just confirms I’ve made the right decision.

  7. Sandi McCabe September 9, 2018 at 9:07 am - Reply

    Wonderful advice, Eric. I LOVE your Sunday posts and wondered what ever happened last Sunday.

    I too had a “running on empty” week and hated it! I finally slept solidly last night and today all is fabulous again! I will spend today doing what brings me extreme joy! Tennis followed by painting followed by family time. Life does NOT get any better than that for me!

    Your emails and posts are helping me become better at my art, Eric. I want so much to go to the Rockies with you but it is during the Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend and family trumps the trip. I was there in August with my Granddaughter, and stayed in Kananaskis and toured everywhere you are going and saw all the beautiful spots you will be painting in and boy oh boy, are you all in for a tremendous experience!

    Thank you for all you do and I can hardly wait to hear about your newest adventure in business! I will be there to cheer you on!

    Sandi

  8. Adele Corrigan September 9, 2018 at 9:12 am - Reply

    I missed your Sunday coffee last week too. Your thoughts make us all think and react I feel, in a positive way.
    There is a saying I love. It states, “ the happiest people are not the ones with the most but make the most of what they have.” I don’t know who said it but feel it’s true.

  9. R Yvonne Colclasure September 9, 2018 at 9:15 am - Reply

    A great read, Eric! It is so true. Some people convince their selves they should be old, and before you know it they are. I am 71 going on 40. I have lived longer than both of my parents. I still have a lot of paintings to do and a lot of living to live. I thank God every day for my life.

  10. John Hughes September 9, 2018 at 9:19 am - Reply

    I usually start out reading Eric’s column thinking, wow this is long! Then I wind up getting drawn in and am glad I did. A lot of wisdom here!

  11. Gabriele Baber September 9, 2018 at 9:23 am - Reply

    Eric, thank you so much for this post. It hit home in a deep way for me. I have been struggling with my story…..circumstances going on in my life, out of my control, for years. It’s hard not to let that space between your ears get in your own way, and spill over into different pages of your life story.. Thank you, so much for a reminder that WE get to decide how we let things bother, or not bother us, in what we think, and how I perceive/react to our circumstances, how We let it affect us and our daily lives. I was going to say, that it begins with that space between our ears, but then, I thought, for me, I think it started with having a Mom, whom I dearly miss, (died at 57) who worried and fretted about everything. Things that never happened, and things that were not in her control, things about other people. Maybe it was being raised during a war in Germany, one of 8 kids. She was a wonderful person, who’s life could certainly have been blessed with so much more joy, if she would have gotten out of her own head sometimes.
    Your comparison of your two friends, gives food for thought. Makes me want to rewrite…I can not rewrite the past, and how my thinking has affected me and others, but I can certainly rewrite the future.
    Now, can you do a post on mind control? LOL, because it’s tougher than you would think apparently, just to let it go…and break a habit, that was learned…(I am no spring chicken myself). Keep writing these posts. You are clearly inspiring people, and not everyone will write a post, to let you know.
    This one was a good one Eric..thank you so very much.
    Gabriele

  12. Margaret S. Cutter September 9, 2018 at 9:25 am - Reply

    Charles Schulz, creates of “Peanuts” said, “Worrying can’t stop the bad stuff from happening. It just stops you from enjoying the good.”

  13. Debbie Little September 9, 2018 at 9:25 am - Reply

    This blog is inspirational! Thank you!

  14. Sammy Hollingsworth September 9, 2018 at 9:38 am - Reply

    Well said. And Thank you for saying it. I just left a good paying job with great benefits because of the negative mindsets that surrounded me and were pushed me to think the same. I am finding peace and hearing my own voice more clearly every day.

    Thanks for the nuggets!
    Have a great day,
    Sammy

  15. Carolyn Henderson September 9, 2018 at 10:19 am - Reply

    I missed reading your Blog last week, I was so glad to see it this week and to know that you are well. Happy birthday a week late!
    Eric you are an inspiration! However, even God rested.
    Rest when you need to. In my case, most of my creative ideas come when I’m well rested.
    I wish you restful sleep and days filled with creativity.

  16. Anne September 9, 2018 at 10:30 am - Reply

    Wonderful article. I have always believed that attitude is everything.

  17. Susan Woodward September 9, 2018 at 10:48 am - Reply

    Terrific article, Eric! I learned a lot about how you can tell different stories about your life during a Lifespring training many years ago. You can make it funny, show how it empowered you, or make yourself out to be a victim. Which one of those you choose informs the direction of your life. I chose empowerment.

    Thanks for this Sunday morning Tale!

    Susan

  18. Shirley Northcutt Bland September 9, 2018 at 10:49 am - Reply

    Eric, I’m sorry I sent an email when I tried to forward your message to a friend. I’ve seen from personal experience how attitude can make all the difference. You are right on. We can’t always help what happens to our bodies but our thoughts can be controlled. I am a teacher, coach and artist. I am eighty years old and just published my first book. I hope to do many more. I’m leading a group of my students on a Plein aire painting retreat to Oregon and already planning a trip to Ireland next year. As long as we have our dreams we will have a reason to continue on. Thanks for your encouragement.😉

  19. Alice September 9, 2018 at 11:27 am - Reply

    I was happy to see your Sunday post in my mailbox this morning. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and encouragement with all of us.

  20. Morgan Davis September 9, 2018 at 11:51 am - Reply

    What a wonderful article, Eric! … Very Happy Birthday!!! … I hope you have many, many healthy happy ones more. … and I do hope you are feeling much better.

    So sorry to read about the decline of your life-long friend.

    You are so right about (as Joyce Meryer puts it , especially in her book “Battlefield of the MInd” ..”where the mind goes, the man follows”). I was first introduced to this phenomenon by my mentor in my art apprenticeship. I remember him reading “the Power of Your Subconcious Mind”. From there, we would have long conversations about this very same thing. He learned how to direct and “feed” his thoughts with positive energy. Although it didn’t happen overnight, his painting career soared. Even better – he developed healthy relationships with more and more people wanting to be near him.

    Now with the inception of “epigenetics” Dr. Bruce Lipton has proven that on the cellular level. cells respond and behave to their environment based on their “perception”. … It’s a long process which is all explained in the book “The Biology of Belief”.

    I’m so glad you are back posting your articles. I always enjoy them so much.

    I wish you safe travels on your adventure to Africa ( how I wished I could have joined all of you on that amazing painting expedition ), and a wonderful time in Banff coming up.

    Maybe someday, I’ll have the chance to actually meet you in person to partake and participate in one of those great conventions.

    Thanks again – always a pleasure to read your stories.

    Fondly – Morgan

  21. Bob Spille September 9, 2018 at 12:22 pm - Reply

    Eric
    It seems there were a number of us who noticed your absence last Sunday, and like the others I am glad to see you back. Your words always rind true for me perhaps because like you I discovered my art late in life. I have had the pleasure of attending a couple of your plein air conventions and was allowed to volunteer at the last one in Santa Fe. While I keep reasonably busy for a 77 year old I definitely find too many opportunities to develop that negative mindset. Thanks for the reminders you provide each week to not let that happen.
    Bob

  22. Kathleen Hill September 9, 2018 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this beautiful reinforcement of my own beliefs. It is is something that needs to be practiced every day. Every morning we get a fresh chance to become a better version of our best self. Age or circumstance has nothing to do with it, it’s a choice. You are such an inspiration, Eric!

  23. Pam Newell September 9, 2018 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    This post really struck home with me. Yesterday I participated in an art fair in Indianapolis that I’ve done for a number of years. Proceeds benefit arts organization throughout the metro area and its held on museum grounds. It’s usually a wonderful day, but yesterday it rained heavily all day from the remnants of a hurricane. I took precautions to protect the work that I’d worked hard to create. I’d say less that 25% of the normal crowd attended and I didn’t make booth rent. Still, those that attended were upbeat, while soggy and muddy. Kids joyfully splashed in the deep puddles. The event always opens with bagpipers and I realized why they are perfect for Scotland as they played on. Yes, it’s all about attitude! On the plus side I have less work to create for my next event, and I can know my booth rent will go on to support arts in my community. See you in Banff!

  24. Barbara September 9, 2018 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    Dear Eric,

    There is, as always, a wealth of insight and wisdom in your articles. Thank you for sharing them. Based on your thoughts and those of many of my family and friends, I have wondered if it’s possible that we “boomers” are changing the traditional concept of growing older. Specifically — we have to grow older, but we don’t necessarily have to age.

    I, and many of my co-workers, left our long-time careers not to “retire” but to “redirect” our life’s work into more personal endeavors. We sought new adventures and opportunities to reenergize long neglected talents and passions for artistic expression and other avocations. We’re on the move.

    Years ago, my aunt in Ireland gave me this advice. “You have to keep going – you must never give in and you must never give up. In the end, it’s far better to wear out than to rust out.” I’ve taken it to heart.

    As with your dear friend, difficulties in life can certainly alter our course and change our outlook. Life teaches us by experiences and hopefully we can teach others the lessons we learn. The gift we can give now is to pray that this fine man can find peace and purpose again.

  25. Schlesier Grace September 9, 2018 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    Bob and I missed coffee with you last Sunday and hoped all was okay. You had a rough week, so sorry. Glad you’re feeling better.
    Also was it your vegan lifestyle that got you out of the pain you were living with?
    Love to know your thoughts on that.

    Today was another great message. I get it; whatever we say has consequences. I will keep what I say positive and catch myself on any negative comments.

    I also appreciated your podcast with Jill Carver which totally reinforces my current life’s path. Good for Jill.

    In the past few months I’d decided to reinvent my direction and was wondering if I was doing the right thing. I too was honored to be asked to do shows, invited into new galleries and working in too many directions. Sure it’s great for the ego but wasn’t the best direction for me.

    I want to be a better painter of the sea, always have, but didn’t take the time needed to do so. What did that mean, why wasn’t I taking the necessary time. I felt I had other obligations and simply didn’t have the time to be at the coast. I did know the only way to improve is to spend gazillion hours observing and painting studies along the Coast.
    There was a way by simply changing the way I thought. I’m lucky I live in San Diego and can be at the coast in about an hour. The sea is where I should be so now it’s where I am. Its where I need to be and changed the way I perceive my world. My other obligations are still there but I have my priorities straight, Jill’s podcast reinforced my thoughts. I too will not be cranking out paintings so that I can have the time to paint at my highest level.

  26. Debby September 9, 2018 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    Love all your Sunday coffees! I kinda had the same experience. My first love and his wife came to see me. We have remained friends all these years. He was still so handsome and had not seemed to age except for the gray hair. Me, well, I played tennis until I was 50 when I messed up my knees. Then the arthritis kicked in at about 59. I used to travel 2 weeks out of the month through out Florida monitoring 42 Domestic Violence centers. I loved the job, but the travel was taking a toll on me. Then our Gov got rid of our unit. I found another job, not as rewarding. I worked with youth at church for 12 years but the priest wanted someone younger, so I lost thatBut I gained a lot of weight and became less active. My hip is giving me problems, I retire in 4 years at 67. My boss told me I could work grime, but I told her if I did, that would be worse for me. Work forces me to get dressed, walk-parking in downtown Tallahassee is a bear and a good walk- and be around young people. Your article, however has made me realize that I don’t have a purpose anymore except to go to work. I need to find a place in something rewarding to keep me going, like DV or Sexual Violence programs as s volunteer or work with youth as a mentor like I did at one time as well Thank you for your little push. It has put a fire under me!

  27. Lynne P Hollingsworth September 9, 2018 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    Wow! I so needed this today! Thanks so much! I will be reflecting on it in my own blog, which I have been neglecting.

  28. C-Marie September 9, 2018 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    Nice article, but I do wish that you would give yourself and God the credit for keeping you going. That your friend suffers from PTSD and so could not be the husband and dad that he might well have been, could be the cause as to why his wife left him, and why his child is into drugs. I hope your triplets and wife do not miss you too much for as you wrote that you are traveling 30 weeks out of the year which leaves only 22 weeks at home. Children need their dad around, lots. God bless, C-Marie

  29. Terry D September 9, 2018 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you
    Look forward each week to your coffee moment. I oddly find a connection to several of these posts. It seems that depression is the only major problem that I face. Your thoughts, podcasts and a lot of exercise have lifted me up more than once. I will see you in San Francisco.
    Thank you
    Terry

  30. Ellen Howard September 9, 2018 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    Great article! i agree that attitude is everything. It’s always good to have a passion and a place to give back.

  31. D. Cabral September 9, 2018 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    Hi, Eric ~
    Thanks for today’s especially frank and insightful “Sunday Coffee” piece! I’m well over ten years your elder and I very much appreciate the fact that you see life as you do, and are willing to “put yourself out there” by sharing your perspectives, experiences and points of view weekly . . . Good for you!
    Years ago, when I was in my forties, I was discussing “Life” with an older friend when he asked me if I’d ever read Don Quixote. I said that I had – – in high school and, again, in college. He smiled, graced me with one of his endearing, deep-throated chuckles and advised me to read it again when I turned sixty-five: “I think you will then really begin to understand the parables that Cervantes had in mind when he wrote that novel.”
    My friend went on to describe why he saw Life as somewhat of a kaleidoscope, with ever-changing patterns that became more richly exposed, articulated and simplified when viewed over time. I took his advice and reread DQ at sixty-five and, again, at seventy-five and, guess what? My friend was right.
    These days, I am enjoying similar ‘enlightenments’ as I reread the works of Mary Oliver, that wonderful poet whose insights into Life’s many lessons and wonders are both breathtaking and invigorating. If you’ve not already met Mary and enjoyed her wisdom, I think that you should, Eric. I think that you’ll love her work and I commend her to your attention. I believe that you and she share many of the attributes that you’ve highlighted in today’s “Sunday Coffee.”

  32. Celeste M Mycoskie September 9, 2018 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    Today’s SundayCoffee was so appropriate for me! I’ll be 77 in a week. The last few weeks have been difficult, feeling down, feeling old, out of sorts, deciding to give up my insurance business of 27 years. However, my bacterial infection is finally gone. I’m on the mend and just finished my 19th edition of an annual calendar of watercolor paintings of Put in Bay Oh. An island on lake Erie where I have a small cottage and have enjoyed since I was a teenager. Its my salvation, a place to relax, dream, paint, plan and do whats on my “BUCKET LIST”! A summer place much like yours in Maine!

    I may be older; same financial struggles, a few achey bones, a few good friends and family gone. Changes abound, however, my thoughts today…what’s next! I’m still HERE…clear mind, somewhat able bodied, meet with 7 cousins tomorrow for lunch.. 73 to 80…life is good! Thanks Eric!

  33. Gretchen Olberding September 9, 2018 at 9:17 pm - Reply

    I hear what you are saying here, Eric, and I plan to be the active, younger version of myself for years to come. Thanks for the encouragement! I enjoy your “coffees”. Please keep at them!

  34. Marte Thompson September 9, 2018 at 9:40 pm - Reply

    Eric, thanks for all your newsletters! I enjoy every one.

    What I say is that “Depression is easy – it’s optimism that takes work!”

  35. Kathie Bugajski September 9, 2018 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    Eric,
    Your words of wisdom remind me of our retired pastor James Lee Beall, who we will celebrate his home going of 5 years tomorrow. You both face life with experience, wisdom, and love! I miss him much, but with your Sunday Coffee letters which read much the same as some of his newsletters I’m reminded of the gifts we are given and the gifts we share. Thank you so much for sharing your love of life and heart of passion that keeps me comforted and going.
    Gods Blessings on you and yours,
    Kathie

  36. Kathy Kier September 9, 2018 at 11:21 pm - Reply

    Dear Eric,
    I really enjoyed your Sunday Coffee this week, Eric! You’ve touched on something critical here. How do some people manage to bounce back from sadness and disappointments while others continue to spiral downwards?

    I think RESILIENCE is a critical factor in being able to bounce back from life’s challenges and disappointments.

    Dr. Wayne Sotile, author of The Resilient Physician, has done great research in this area. If you want to tap into the topic of resilience, just visit Sotile.com.

    To all my fellow Sunday Coffee drinkers, I wish you a great week!

  37. Vinhkhoavink September 10, 2018 at 4:11 am - Reply

    Thank you Eric. You are some kind of bell, recalling me of things I’ve experienced or done and then forgotten.
    Have a nice day !

  38. Marybeth Wise September 10, 2018 at 9:53 am - Reply

    This was the shot in the arm that I needed. I am 65 and retired as an office manager of a counseling center 4 years ago. I immediately invested two years in the Famous Artists School originated be Norman Rockwell. It was AWESOME! I recently have loss joy and motivation for two reasons, getting entangled in learning and organizing the business side of my art and now my husband and I are taking care of his 87 year old mom with progressing dementia. Thank you Eric for your words of encouragement and motivation! I look forward to one day going to one of your activities, like the one in Canada. It is so beautiful there. I was once a long distance motorcycle rider and so enjoy God’s BEAUTIFUL CREATION. Thanks again. Press on, Coach!

  39. Howard Christensen September 10, 2018 at 11:19 am - Reply

    Eric,
    You need to lighten up the background under your type copy.
    It is VERY DIFFICULT to read. Since I have hypertension and this slows down my trying to figure out what the writing is,
    the comprehension is broken up. The reading adds stress and I don’t want to finish it. However I have determination to get
    thru and try to get the message. We shouldn’t have to waste our precious time and spirit trying to figure out what it says!
    I have been a graphic designer for many years and this is unprofessional and will discourage readers.
    Don’t mean to be negative, just trying to facilitate making the message easier and more pleasant to read.
    Best wishes,
    Howard Christensen

    • Kathy Kier September 11, 2018 at 12:29 pm - Reply

      Dear Howard,
      Are you able to adjust the brightness and contrast on your device? On my screen Sunday Coffee really pops. I have the contrast and brightness on my iPad adjusted to my taste (really bright). Maybe it’s different on your device but a techie might be able to help you with this. Good luck, buddy!

  40. Kay Hale September 10, 2018 at 11:39 am - Reply

    Hi Eric,
    I am always glad to read your insights. I am 65 and “retired” at 62 to be around my husband who was sickly. Although I am not a good or even compassionate nurse type, I felt I needed to help where I could. He died this May and I was in shock for a while and unable to paint. Friends did not understand how I was shocked..but it was sudden and even though I knew he would not live a long life, one is never really prepared. That said…I found myself with time to figure out my next steps. I call myself a high functioning depressive because I fight depression everyday and I have succeeded in keeping the worse of it at bay. I am grateful for my excellent physical health. I wish David had that but it was not to be. Years ago I went to therapy for my newly diagnosed depression, My therapist asked me how long I planned to live! I was surprised by the question but answered at least into my 90’s. Mainly because my family is long lived and also in spite of my depression, I loved life and had no plans of an early demise! Then she asked me how many careers i would have. Now tell me, who thinks in their 30’s that they will have more than 1 maybe 2 careers? We discussed it and I decided that I would have an infinite amount of “careers”. I was going to do everything in my power to live long and healthy, and do as many things as I could. Life is fun for the most part.
    Of course grief is not fun and it stopped me dead in my tracks for a bit. But I have planned 2 trips abroad for next year, I am entering art shows again, I am arranging one on one coffee with dear friends, I am helping take care of my one and only grandchild…
    Yes I still fight depression,and grieve the deaths of my husband, my parents and friends, but I am still here and doing.
    Yes I have good genes, but it is up to me to make that work in my favor and have a good life. I alone am responsible for my happiness.
    Thank you for your thoughts.

  41. Dian Rentschler September 10, 2018 at 5:40 pm - Reply

    You are right, Eric, it is all a mindset. At 64 you are a very young man and should have years ahead to enjoy doing the things you feel you would like to do. I am 82 and having a great time painting the subjects that I enjoy. It never occurs to me that “I can’t” paint a subject that I think would make a good composition. I am sure it is the planning and fun of making up that composition that keeps my mind sharp and my interest going. I have a web site with FASO and enjoy showing my paintings through that media.

    I am not concerned with making a living, thank goodness. I am painting for ME and love sharing my work with others. I have painted portraits of my friends who are now gone and I know their families will enjoy those paintings for generations. That is the best goal you could have for continuing what I am doing.

  42. Anita Sutton September 10, 2018 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    Loved this article. Right on. I so agree. I am going on 81 and I recently joked when asked what do I do with my time? and I replied “I am so busy doing all the things I love I hardly have time to do anything”.By the way I live in San Diego and met you at the Plein Air Convention. Enjoyed meeting you and was immediately struck by your engaging conversation. Life truly is a journey not always so pleasant but the right attitude sure helps a lot. Can’t wait to see what your up to. Oh I have to tell you how much I wish I could join your Adirondack painting but not possible. However as a child and it was only yesterday ,ha ha, I went to camp there for 10 summers and recall it with such fondness. I was painting even then,besides climbing mountains,canoeing on all the lakes. It was always so beautiful and who knows maybe that’s why I have always loved the outdoors to this day. Oh,another oh, I also wanted to thank you for your sensational interviews of the various artists on the DVD’s. Enough I wish you the best and will be keeping up with you. Fondly, Anita Sutton

  43. Roberta Sorenson September 10, 2018 at 7:50 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your great advice. I think we all should not eat the “bread of idleness* as the Amplified bible describes it with the consequence of GDS syndrome my term for Gossip, Discontent or Self Pity. If you find yourself blaming your circumstances, get busy, But first make sure you have a plan, otherwise you can be spinning your wheels. I am always inspired by Joni Earikson Tada, a paraplegic artist. she paints with her teeth, puts out yearly illustrated calendar and christmas cards. In addition writes books, sings, is an inspirational speaker. She has a worldwide ministry to distribute wheelchairs for those who cannot afford them. and she started a camp for disabled kids. So there is no excuse not to paint. If I do have an excuse it is my 8 children, 13 grandchildren and dozens of extended family. there are weddings,funerals, new babies, parties and performances, Rugby football and hockey teams of my sons and work trips with my husband. I am trying to at least be a stealth artist at all these events with my sketchbook. I am getting quite accomplished at drawing the back of heads at meetings or babies on the shoulders of their parents in church.

  44. Valerie Payne September 10, 2018 at 11:57 pm - Reply

    Eric, You never cease to amaze and inspire your community of artists. Yes, you are human, and allowed to fall short of your normal work to live philosophy. It is hard to believe you take much time for yourself, except to keep your engines running. Sometimes, a small upset is just what the doctor ordered. Your Sunday Coffee with Eriic is on my list of favorite reads, but never feel you must apologize for a missed day. We all know you are taking care of things in order of priority. So continue to take care of yourself and dream those big dreams. Valerie from California

  45. Kathy Kier September 11, 2018 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    Eric, it just dawned on me that you were writing about your 92 YEAR OLD mother cooking dinner for you and your brother. WOW! I want to be like your mom, still cooking at that amazing age. I’m counting on painting, a healthy lifestyle and the love of good friends to help me reach that goal. God willing!!!

  46. Marie Gadd September 12, 2018 at 5:34 am - Reply

    Hi Eric!
    Thank you for your inspiring words. I think that it is important to have a positive mind. The law of attraction. Excuse my english.
    I have been on my own, sick, burned out, latest 4 years but now I am starting to come alive again. I paint and I love it. Unfortunatly pleinair isnt that populare in Sweden. But I like it. It would be a dream for me to join someday some of your pleinair adventure and also have someone by my side who can help me as I am a beginner.
    I wish you a healthy happy week.
    Best regards
    Marie Gadd

  47. Darlene Pyle September 12, 2018 at 9:56 am - Reply

    What a wonderful essay – one of your best, IMO. And how timely for me and my husband. Our daughter is graduating from high school in less than a year. At that time, not only is she going to have a lot of big changes in her life, but we will as well. We’re moving as we won’t have to live in this school system any longer. Not really sure where at this time. But we’re really looking forward to the change and are excited about our new adventure. Thanks so much!

  48. Eugene September 12, 2018 at 10:28 am - Reply

    Hi Eric

    Interesting to see you write about this topic.

    I sent you a message through your contact form on your website a couple weeks ago and brought up a similar theme. Nice to see you say you want to reply to all your emails. I look forward to reading your reply. 🙂

  49. Jann Schonke September 12, 2018 at 10:36 am - Reply

    I really enjoyed your message .I will be 80 this year and for various reasons traveling has become to tiring so instead I have been busy passing on love of art by volunteering my ability to teach drawing and watercolor to seniors through LLI (life Long Learning). We all have a great time connecting with others through our interest in art. I must be doing something right because my classes are very popular.
    Keep on writing you are filling a need, all of us will benefit.

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  51. Marishka September 16, 2018 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    Eric, reading this post today struck a particular chord with me as I have had an entire weekend totally to myself with no obligations, and I have been reflecting on my age and where I am and not, in my art career. I recently turned 57 and just returned from a trip to attend a lifelong friend’s daughter’s wedding. Returning to my home town back East for the celebration, which I left 22 years ago for the West, was very special as I was able to see so many people whom I haven’t seen for 30 plus years or more. It was truly heartwarming and made me realize that despite another year of age, I continue to keep doing all the things that make me feel happy. Recently I was beating up on myself that I should be further up the ladder with my art career, sales, etc., that I’m running out of time. Your post made me stop and just appreciate that where I am right now is totally fine and that being an artist is not something I will ever “retire” from. Just as I will continue to thrive as a deliberate creator, so will my art career.

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