Birds are tweeting after a week of agony from coming this far north a little too early. Piles of melting snow and ice remain after our rare arctic blast this past week, which has been one for the record books here in Austin. We were fortunate and never lost power, and even then, with the furnace trying to keep up, it was cold in the house and we had frozen and burst pipes. But hope is showing its face with some warming sun this morning.
It’s been a difficult week, where 4 million were without power for three or more days, freezing in their own homes, and it will be a big loss for insurance companies and a gain for plumbers who will come in from every state. We’ve put in our request because of those burst pipes.
This week is a reminder of the old Scout motto … be prepared. A last-minute trip to the grocery found the shelves bare, and the city issued a boil-water order to those of us who still had water after those burst pipes. Thankfully, we had what we needed.
Some of us will forget it all three days into the sunshine, but others, like me, will take some actions now to be ready for the next time. Freezing inside a home for a week can be avoided, and maybe some pipes can be insulated and a backup generator installed. It seems frivolous, but it won’t feel that way when it’s needed.
I regret not anticipating this storm and being more prepared, but I was also thinking about regrets in life and work.
If I look back on my life to date, I don’t have a lot of regrets. But I’ve thought of a few. And most of them have to do with poor communication.
Fights, Arguments, and Stubbornness
Looking back, I see that if I had taken the time to listen, and been less anxious to react, I could have saved a lot of wasted energy in arguments, fights, or just being stubborn. Almost all of the things that occurred were prompted because I was quick to judge.
Count to 10
As a child I was coached, “Count to 10 before you react.” It was great advice. As an adult, a counselor once said, “Just say, ‘This isn’t a good time. I need a little time to process this and I’ll get back to you in an hour,’ or ‘tomorrow.’” What great advice … but you do have to come back and deal with it.
Kids are a great test of our patience, and our instant reactions are often hasty and overblown. “Let’s talk about this tonight” is a great way to let the anger subside, the emotions reduce, and the steam bleed out of the old pressure cooker.
Think about your own life and the ugly “That’s not like me” reactions.
And think about intent … and how much you care for the person. Is the reaction worth the pain it will cause? Do we really need to teach a lesson or make a point?
Pipes freeze and the water expands, exerting pressure on the pipes. If you can’t relieve the pressure, you have broken pipes and you’re without water for days. Just like relationships. You get angry, you freeze up or overreact, and the relationship is damaged. Sometimes it’s a small, easily repairable crack, other times the pipes are broken in multiple places and healing is difficult. And sometimes we get stubborn, and we distance ourselves.
We’re Not Talking
I remember a sad moment when an acquaintance told me he had been estranged from his father and had not spoken to him for 18 years. I asked what his father had done that had been so horrible, and as he started to tell me, he realized that, whatever it was, it wasn’t so bad after all. The emotion had gone away, but the stubbornness had not. I suggested maybe he should reconnect with his dad. But he said, “I’m not over it yet.” I think he was in love with the idea of being right. Three weeks later his dad had passed, and he seriously regretted his decision. The moment someone dies, much of the baggage goes away, but then we can’t go back to resolve things.
I think people like that think they are punishing a parent or a friend by not seeing them, but the punishment is a self-inflicted wound too. When we have unresolved anger, it comes out in other ways, impacting our kids, our families, our work, and our health. It’s not good for anyone and accomplishes nothing.
I am always curious when I hear of people estranged over anger, and rarely does the crime equal the punishment. Yes, there are crimes that do require distance to avoid pain or abuse, but disagreements or hurt feelings do not seem to me to be reasons for not speaking.
I had a distant family member who was not speaking to her dad and mom because she was convinced by her husband that she had been wronged by being expected to help raise her younger siblings. Once the husband was gone, the healing began, and she reconnected and had a few good years with her parents.
I have a buddy whose daughter isn’t speaking to him, does not show up for family events, and only calls when she needs money, which of course he gives her in hopes it will heal things. She is angry over the way she was raised. He and his wife are not sure what that means. It breaks his heart. What she may not realize is that the estrangement is probably disrupting her life and relationships more than she knows.
Sadly, I have dissolved business relationships in anger over an e-mail when I should have picked up the phone. And sometimes I’ve picked up the phone too soon and said something I regretted. Just this week I almost destroyed a relationship by overreacting to an e-mail from someone, but once we talked, I realized I had misread intent.
So my best advice…
- Don’t hit send in anger. Count to 10 … or 1,000 if necessary.
- Don’t pick up the phone in anger.
- Find out the INTENT before reacting.
- Wait till all the emotion has dissipated, and then do your best to address it head on, with a listening ear.
- Check your mood. Are you reacting badly to something because something else has irritated you?
- Give EVERYONE the benefit of the doubt. Don’t assume they have bad intentions.
- Take a breath and ask yourself, “Will my reaction make things better or worse?”
- Listen before reacting.
- Apologize as soon as you realize you acted badly.
- There is rarely a good reason to disconnect from someone in anger. Almost all things can be healed. Estrangements are bad for everyone, but worst for you.
- There is no shame in seeking professional help, especially if you keep getting stuck.
I was not raised in a perfect household. I never heard my parents argue. Ever. I’m not sure that was a good thing, but I’m guessing it was a rule my parents implemented. What might have been better is to hear that arguing is part of life, and finding a resolution to arguments is a lesson we all need. I did not get that, therefore I overreacted unfairly to criticism until I learned.
But I was also raised to put myself in someone else’s shoes before I judge them, and to turn the other cheek and not seek revenge when someone wrongs me. Both have served me well.
There would be no disagreements, no wars, no major issues, if we would just talk without reacting. We would not puff up and allow our egos to become offended and need to prove our dominance.
What can you do to improve your communication?
What can you do to heal wounds?
Where do you need to listen without reacting or responding?
Who do you need to call today?
Don’t be like the frozen and cracked pipes. Relieve the pressure before it builds. Never go to bed angry. Face it, no matter how hard it is. And if something bothers you, get it off your chest in a loving way. If not, it will always come out, but only after building up to the point of explosion.
If we all worked on these issues, we would all be happier. It starts with me.
P.S. This past Tuesday our triplets turned 19. Our daughter was home, but the boys were stuck at school with the storm. It was the first time in their history they were not together as one and at home with the family on their birthday. I’m very proud of all three and think they handled it well.
We desperately wanted to give Grace a cake, but we did not have all the supplies, so I went out in the snow-covered streets, made my way to the only open place in town (7-Eleven), which took me about 45 minutes to get to, only to find out they did not have most of what we needed. But I made it back alive, and Laurie managed to scratch together a birthday cake with no icing. It worked out, we celebrated, and the goal was accomplished. It was a red-letter day.
Last week was tough because we had to cancel our big artists’ convention (the Plein Air Convention) due to the pandemic. We determined it was just not practical to try to do it by May. And since this is our primary income for the year, we announced an alternative … PleinAir Live, our virtual art conference, to be held a second time, with all new speakers, this April. You’ll learn a lot and grow even if you don’t see yourself as an outdoor painter. I hope you’ll explore it.
We also had such a success with Watercolor Live, we’re doing it again. Though we don’t have our faculty together yet, we’ll make it world class. And signing up now is the lowest overall price. We already have 800 people signed up. We’re excited, thank you.
We hope these things will help us get through the pandemic until we can return to normal, and we’ll probably keep these events alive even after that for the people who can’t leave home to attend things in person.
Has there been a place for this before? I have never read beyond your letter. That’s nice; didn’t know you cared. While I always read what you had to say up there, I thought your comments were only an introduction for a sales pitch to follow. Sorry about that; I misjudged you.
I am a 75 year old lady with multiple comorbidities so I have been confined to my little house (except for medical appointments) for the past 2 years. No plein air, no art walks, no arts festivals, no days at the art museum, no in-person events at the gallery or prospecting for work – best neighbors in the world but only in the yard with masks and at a safer distance (because they love me).
I thought I had painted my last mural. But it came to my door. I can still paint in my tiny studio. All I have to do is set adjacent canvases edge to edge to paint, then switch out one of them for the next adjacent. So I am working on 3 large canvases to be installed together by someone else while I am “safe” in my castle completing 13 even larger canvases and planning for a “one-man” show. I thought that my challenges would leave me living under a bridge this winter (really don’t think I would survive) but the Lord is my friend, companion, teacher, & business partner. Nothing takes him by surprise. AVAST, YE DASTARDLY COVID WORM! You may still be able to kill me but you will never defeat me – I know what I am supposed to be doing, love doing it, and I am having a blast. Best wishes, Eric. I think you are going to come through this just fine. Think of all the new things you have learned. nv
Excellent advice Eric! I have been so guilty of overreacting in many situations. Feelings hurt and so on. I don’t usually like confrontations so I go off with my feelings hurt! I’ve been working on that for years. Many of us needed to hear what you said. I don’t see how you are in so many places at once and do such a great job!
It happened to me couple of months ago when I apologized as soon as I realized that I acted badly. The older you get the wiser you get. As always Eric, words of wisdom. Thank you for you Sundays email
Dear Eric, We hope all is well with you and/or your family. Many are concerned. Prayers…
PS I’m hoping you’re just taking a couple of weeks off and enjoying the warm sunshine. You definitely deserve it!
PPS I did enjoy reading your columns for the second time though. (Smile)
This column was so timely for me today. Thank you for your sage advice and wisdom.
This is a wonderful message. Thank you for taking the time to write and send it.
I hope you are warm now.
A very tough subject, but you handled it quite well. Anyone that has experienced this sort of thing, can be very hurtful, no matter what you do to correct.
As always, a wonderful message. If we could only be as considerate and forgiving of ourselves…. Thank you for your Sunday morning emails.
Home Run – week after week you stand on the street corner filling all that will listen to your words of faith in mankind, Bless You, Bless You, Bless You!!!
I really enjoyed you over the years. I love painting but mostly for my own satisfaction. Keep up your good work Its fun to live through your experiences, . You have the right thoughts and cares for others by giving us love and laughter through the years. God bless
I have been a subscriber for a while now and I always enjoy whatever you decide to talk about. But this is something that we really need to revisit time and time again because each one of us are guilty of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. I’ve never been one to hold a grudge but I know plenty of people who do. It isn’t a pretty sight of ourselves for sure. And like you said it hurts the person who is holding that anger, resentment unforgiveness. It’s not what God would want us to do and a lot of times it’s exactly the people who knows that they need forgiveness and don’t give it to others. So thank you Eric for the topic. I’m one of those people that say the wrong thing very quickly in the feeling of anger or disgust. The last time I did that I lost a lot of friends because I was stupid enough to do it on someone’s Facebook account and not privately messaging the person I was angry with. Talk about dumb and stupid!
Thank you Eric for sharing. Those who hold grudges are only hurting themselves. Often the grudges they hold do not even affect the person who the grudge is against. Grudges are a torment to ourselves, we are our own worst enemy! Sometimes we need the experience as an example to understand what someone else is going through. Experience is a good teacher but we also need to learn from that experience so we do not repeat the same mistake. Love and faith are great gifts that we are given to make this journey so much easier.
Point well taken. Thank you.
Great lesson for all of us…my mother would say, sweep your own steps before looking at your neighbors. Also, don’t judge anothers actions , you don’t know what’s going on in their life. I miss my mom!
Eric, Thank you so much for this Sunday Coffee Newsletter. I always read it (with my coffee) and thank you for your analogies and life lessons. This one especially touched me. We lucked out last night, we were to get a freeze, but it only went down to 55 degrees. But that’s plenty cold for a Florida Cracker like me. Sally
Thank you for caring enough to share your insight and experiences with us all – I truly hope you gather it all in a book because the entire world would certainly benefit! Many thanks!
Ps, also I loved the cracked pipes analogy! An image I will retain.
I look forward to you posts and share them with my family.
Thank you for your continuing sound advice!
Heat and water, such a problem when they are far to reach, but then every needed commodity, Every catastrophe displays needs and stress of varying kind – but really, we lose touch – we forget. It is the normal way of life. The greatest loss in our society is the endless death in the traffic. It is the most dangerous thing we do every day, don’t we know that? Of course we do. Do we remember that when we get off the sidewalk into the traffic? To be sincere – we don’t, and really it is a good thing we don’t, otherwise, our ordinary life will be hell. It is the spontaneous act of our mind, to forget, put aside. Are we ready? – Well, we’ll never be. I don’t want to contradict Eric; it is just another thought.
thanks for sharing…so hard to remember to count to 10.. I am doing better, but I am also requiring myself to apologize AT ONCE when I realize I did not stop and count and lost my temper….I am hoping that will help thanks for helping me have thoughts on this point, to reinforce my determination to do better
Eric, your advice should be engraved in stone. Thank you
Thank you for sharing this. This was excellent advice.
Sorry, that your pipes burst.
Thank you for sharing these words of wisdom. I am grateful!
As always, really great words! I try really hard to let everything roll off my shoulder, not holding grudges, bad energy–which will affect every avenue in our life … begin w/ the end in mind in everything you do … and finally a really easy cake (4 ingredients) is a Hot Milk Cake, soft and sponge like, so good w/ strawberries or any other topping of choice
Two more. So happy to tell you that a couple of relatives have picked up a brush and are joining the ranks! Hopefully, they can join in the fun and exhilaration of some of the “Lives”, in future!! About your weather, we know the pain of severe storms with days of power outages, but never while freezing in the house, as well! (Because many of us in the N.E. have generators as standard operating equipment). But our hearts have gone out to you and continue to do so. Prayers and best wishes for recovering your power and pipes, and for lots of people to sign up for upcoming PleinAir Live and Watercolor Live. Will be busy promoting them! SO easy to do because joy spills over!
You have a lot on your plate these days.
Thank you for your advice, I will keep your list in mind before reacting.
Happy Birthday to the Triplets!!
Any chance you will have any Watercolor instructors on Plein Air Live? From my limited experience
sometimes it’s a bit more complicated to compose a watercolor in Plein Air.
Prayers and thoughts are with you, hopefully you can get a restoration company to start the clean up.
I like your comments they are the things my mother told us,the waer taught us that
Always heartwarming anecdotes and advice.
Thanks for all you do !
Thank you, Eric, for your email with heart. You are spot on. My daughter and her family got caught by the snow in Texas, lost power and all. They are back home now after spending time with her husband’s brother and his family as they had heat. You realize how small things can lift us up. Forgiveness is huge. For the person holding the grudge, my question is how heavy must it get before letting it go?
I save all the Sunday Coffee in a folder. I like your emails that much.
Best read yet…wish I read it fifty years ago.
Please help me unsubscribe.
You are a very wise man Eric Rhoads, thank you for your letters.
Thank you so very much for your thoughtful, well-written and inspiring Sunday articles. I look forward to hearing your shared wisdom and reflecting on how I relate in my own life. I have shared your link with my daughter, also an artist, who too enjoys reading these.
Good to hear you had minimal damage, compared to many, during this storm.
There will be a better day. It is 70 degrees here in Las Vegas. The flowers are starting to bloom. Our blizzard is the heat in August! In the desert green is an acquired color. I do remember a few years ago when we had a hard freeze and the palm trees died. We survived and the hotels and casino’s painted the dead trees and grass green that year!
I hope you and your family are safe during this hard storm
On the contrary here in Iraq winter is so nice no storms no cold just few showers but summer is so hard on us temperature may reach 50 C degree and the weather become like a hell so we like winter more than summer in Iraq .
Wish you the best
Thank you for this article. I recently moved in with my grown son for 4 months! What an experience! We really learned a lot about ‘pipes bursting’ and stopping to ask yourself about ‘intent’ before reacting. It’s okay to ask before responding for clarification.
Eric..we are so please the weather might give you a break…thank you for the words of reality as I fit the mold..stay safe and healthy..Peggy
thank you for thinking of keeping the virtual. I find it hard t0 attend. I can afford the virtual Plein air conference. I have in the past attended about 5 of them and enjoyed the place we meet and the time we spent and the things I learned. but the cost is prohibitive . so I had to decide to not come to the last live events or pay my rent. my rent won. so thanks again. for the virtual. and for the way to communicate with the artists you have chosen.
Well there it is, the best advice that one could take! I love your candid nature and ability to be introspective and also honest with yourself. I married for the second time later in life and I married the person you advised we all strive to be. I’ve truly never known anyone like my husband. He does not have a reactive bone in his body, I doubt he has ever angered anyone and somehow seems to be able to make his point pleasantly without emotion or defensive tactics! He has taught me a lot in the past 16 years and as I read your post I couldn’t help thinking how amazing my husband is as it is just second nature to him to be what you wisely suggest.
Also besides admiring your honesty and candid ways, I also must say that your hosting those daily live shows, “with prizes” no less, is a real gift to the artist community, possibly greater than you realize. Thank you and I look forward to next Sunday’s email.
Always a nice pleasant read.And with some wise words of wisdom. There does seem to be some fluctuations in the weather the last few years,we in the West Midlands England have had the hardest winter in a good while.Luckily I’ve worked on maintenance most my life so have bought tools from the age of 16 when I was a engineer apprentice.But unlike most I’ve had a vast career,furniture,gardening, building,to name a few.I recently semi retired,but spend most my time doing art and gardening.But I was caught out in the garden by leaving my tender perennials out as the last few years they comfortably went through and made beautiful big plants.up until Christmas they were showing signs of new growth.But then came the beast from the east,and the lot were blackened over the next fortnight.A lesson learned the hard way.
I certainly have enjoyed your joyful disposition and so inspired with all your works. I do love to express myself with my paintings which are few and of an amateur nature. I so longed to put onto paper my desires all my life, but until I was 87 I never had the time. Since then I have enjoyed and given many away (aren’t friends nice, they always thank me) and have sold a few at the local art show. I just moved back to Ohio after 5 years in Arizona and things are still not sorted yet, so my hobby is on hold, but still have a few incomplete I need to finish. I missed the state of my life and had a chance so I moved back. Im 92 now looks like I’m in good health so may be able to enjoy a few more years.
WOW Mary! You are amazing and I so enjoyed reading your comment! I’m 75 this year and often wish I had more time for improving. You have inspired me to stop that thinking and just get on with improving! Have a great day, Mary!!
Oops! Sorry Eric.
Darn that auto-correct and me not re-reading my message before that fateful push of the send button.
It should have read ,Hello not Hell . The other mistakes are minor . I sure my fingers have a mind of their own and if not they are in cahoots with auto-correct . Have a great day and thanks again
In life there are no coincidences and having said that I thank you for coming across my path. I took my first painting lesson age 45 and enjoyed that for a few years before putting my brushes away. Now 20 years later you happened across my Facebook page and looky here I am more excited than I was back then. I have not missed on of you noon day and 3:00pm tutorials and interviews. When the borders open up again, I look forward to taking part in one of you Plen aire paint -ins. Your posting for Sunday Coffee is very revealing , heartfelt and sage advice for all. Thanks again
from Toronto, Canada. –a fan from the north
This email was the BEST I have read that you. So much wisdom here; I am sending it to each of my grown children who have children. Most of your emails are so long I do not read them…like reading a too long sermon. I have the same problem in editing my thoughts when writing…I strive to be sure I am understood by saying too much. This one was long too, but I had to keep reading as it touched on such insight into grudges and hurt feelings that distant people within families. I’ve always said to my children families ALWAYS must forgive and stick together. Yet when a hurtful scene ensued (and some lying) between a close brother and myself I was so hurt I could not forgive him for MONTHS. Finally I realized I was still teaching my children and must practice what I preached, so I wrote him a long letter…only the fifteenth got mailed. We talked it out and are OK now. If I had known the wisdom in your email newsletter it would have happened sooner. Thats why I want to share it with my children. Thank you so very much!
Thank you for this column! I am calling our adult-adopted daughter today as we haven’t been in touch for several months and I do miss her. No real excuse for the time lapse. This brought to mind that I won’t be here always and need her to know that I love her, no matter what. Again, thanks for the reminder that time is SHORT.
Thank you for the Live events.. I have attended them all so far and I’m already signed up for Plein Air Live II. These events have encouraged me to make a life changing decision. I have retired from my Accounting job with the state of Colorado and I’m buying a home in Nebraska that I can afford on my pension. And I’m going to finally become an artist fill- time. I was an art major in college, but graduated without any business knowledge. Not knowing the business end of the art world, I fell back on the family business of Accounting. Well years later and much regret.. you have encouraged me to give an artist’s life a go. I am learning more in your Live events than I did getting my degree in art. Next I will get your books and videos on the marketing knowledge. Eric, thank you from the fullness of my heart. You have refocused my lifelong dream and given me courage to try it. I am grateful these Live events have become part of my life. Every Blessing to you and the Crew, Lynette Elayne ~ Artist
I’m so glad I signed up to receive your “Sunday Coffee” emails. I look forward to them every week. Your analogies and life lessons always bring a smile and make me think how to apply to my life situations. You have such a wonderful “way with words!”
This artist says “Thank you”, for Sunday Coffee!
Always good advice that leaves me feeling more positive about life. And life here in Kerrville has greatly improved.
Look forward to Sunday coffee!
Thank you for such an inspiring and thought-provoking email. Great advice!
Thank you for your wisdom. Happy birthday to the kids and glad you all survived last week.
BE SLOW TO ANGER
Not all anger is wrong, such as when anger is a passion used as a defense of others or of a principle. Also a trauma victim can process through anger to come to a place of acceptance. Anger is an emotional energy that God gave us to be used “correctly”.
Eric, I hope you get this message knowing that you are in the thoughts of so many of us, with whom you have shared your valuable time and resources. I watch the afternoon segments and am part of the Dreamlineartists, and have benefited immensely from all the art training in the last year. Not only have I watched others, but I have also painted consistently during the pandemic and have created 78 original pieces besides those created during Realism Live and Watercolor live. I have not counted those as they are not my original paintings. If you add those, it would be over 100.
Thank you again, and hope gradually the trauma of the recent cold weather is wiped away and you and your family can get back to normal. I know what you mean by trying to be prepared. In S. California, they ask you to be prepared for an earthquake, and I always thought we could rustle up many things, but not until the pandemic did I realize how insufficient the supplies would have been. I know better now.
Take care. With best wishes,.
Thank you for your encouraging words and inspiration. Your work and energy inspiring so many of us to try/improve/explore all styles of art is so important and appreciated ! Thank you again for sharing your ideas.
Thank you for this timely message.
May God continue to bless you!
Sorry about your pipes! Good idea to look into insulation, generators, air tight woodstove etc. Building codes up here in Quebec are different because of the harsh weather (ex:3 years ago every single day in Jan & Feb were below -30°C) and maybe your plumbers might research them to improve your situation.
Wishing you success for renovations and warmer weather. Hoping the border will open for June.
Thanks, Eric. I look forward to every Sunday to read your uplifting words
. We have a lot of snow and cold but I am prepared. I lived in Montana for a few years and went through a time with 5 feet of snow (we had to dig a tunnel to the wood pile) We slept in front of the fireplace. and put in a barrel stove the next week! So now in Ohio and I prepare every winter and prior to every threatening storm.
You have good advice about anger. Angry hurtful words cannot be taken back. They sometimes stay with a person for a long time. I know I have inflicted hurtful words and hope those I have hurt let them go as I have done
. My motto is “No mistakes, only lessons” At 81 years I have learned many lessons and I am sure I have many more to learn. It applies to my art, also. I am blessed with a loving family, a warm home and running water. I have two wonderful dogs who keep me laughing. I am grateful for all my treasures.
Love your advice ! It is so true and I so agree. Thanks for reminding me.
You hit the nail on the head.
Thank you for sharing
Such great advice!! Thank you for sharing your heart. Thankful to finally have heat and water in Denton, Texas!!!
Thank you Eric for sharing your heart and your time even during your hardship. I look forward to sharing in SUNDAY COFFEE. I will continue to lift you up in prayer